Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Apple Cider

Have you completed your clothing inventory yet? The initial set up can be quite time consuming. However, once you have the system in place, updating it each season won't take up too much time.

If you haven't finished your inventory, that's okay. Keep working on it this month as you have time.

Googles for today:

"how to make your own cream cheese" (hint: there is a reason we buy cream cheese ready made at the store)
"cost of living calculator"
"where is the battery in my GMC Acadia" (under the front passenger seat!)

What did you research today?

My daughter's birthday is in October. I try to keep the Master Calendar light the week of her birthday. This allows me to finish the details of her party.

Today, we are going to plant onions, make cider, and take a deep breath.

Onions are hearty in Zones 3-9. Find out what zone you are in here.

Onions are a cold-season crop, easy to grow because of their hardiness. Wonderful news for me and my black thumb. According to Google, "onion sets" (a small onion bulb planted instead of seed) are best because they can be planted without worry of frost damage and have a higher success rate than planting seeds directly, or planting a transplant.

Plant your onion on a raised bed, or a raised row, at least four inches high. Onions need full sun, not shaded by other plants. Soil should be well drained, loose, and fertilized. If you are planting onion sets, don’t bury them more than one inch under the soil. Practice crop rotation with onions, which means plant onions one year, and another crop in that place the next year.

Onions are heavy feeders (like my 15 month old). You will need to fertilize them every few weeks with nitrogen to get big bulbs. When the onions push the soil away and the bulbing process starts, you can stop fertilizing. I did not know this, but if you water your onions more, they will be sweeter!

Now that the onions are settled in, let's make some cider. I love the way hot apple cider makes the house smell. If you aren't in the mood for hot cider, take a look at this idea for cider slushies that I found on Pinterest.

We are going to make a family friendly apple cider, and then I am going to give you a tip to kick it up a notch after the kids go to bed. Apple cider is forgiving and versatile. You could add cranberry juice, orange juice, cloves, nutmeg, etc. to this recipe. Experiment with what you have in your cupboards. Come up with your own unique family recipe!

Ingredients for Family Friendly Cider:
(serves 5)
5 mugs apple juice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
caramel flavored syrup to taste (optional)
whipped cream (optional)

Combine apple juice and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Pour equal portions into mugs. If you wish, add the caramel syrup to the kid cups, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired. Check the temperature first to make sure it has cooled off enough to serve to your kids.

Additional ingredient for Adult Cider:
Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Flavored Vodka - if you haven't tried this, YOU MUST. It will change your life.

After the kiddos are snuggled in bed, add the caramel vodka to your cup and finish off with whipped cream. Enjoy!!!

Finally, it is time to take a deep breath. Schedule time for yourself today. Whether it be one minute, ten minutes, or thirty minutes. Make time for just you. Nobody else. Sit down with your cider. Take a moment to enjoy this season. Close your eyes, feel the warmth coming from your mug radiate through your fingertips. Let your thoughts float away, like clouds in the sky. Block out the sounds of life around you. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Focus on the smell of the sweet, spicy cider. Drop your shoulders. Relax your jaw. Exhale, and let all of your stress and worries go for just a moment. They will still be there when this moment is over.

Even though I don't want to go back to reality, the time is here for me. If you have more time, by all means, sit there and enjoy yourself. Don't have any guilt over the fact that you're sitting there doing nothing, while I have three kids climbing all over me while I try to prepare dinner.

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