Last Day today (update)

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I am posting this update for two reasons.  First today is the last day of this fitness challenge that I have done since June 1st.  The second is it’s therapeutic for me with the situation facing us with our family dog tomorrow…UGH!!!  So on to the update:

These past few days have been a challenge for sure.  But I put on a pair of capris today that were tight in my waist and thighs and they fit comfortably.  I may not have lost much weight but the muscle is evident in the inches lost.  Starting I could only do sets of 5 of the leg lifts.  I can now do a set of 20 with the last 2 being a push to get through. I was able to do 10 push ups pretty easily in the beginning and I can comfortably get through 15 in a set now.  Squats get my heart rate going and I feel them in the soreness of my thighs and hamstrings but it’s a good soreness!!

So for July I am going to do this challenge working backwards as I am adding a Plank challenge for beginners for July. I figure when the planks get harder the Buns, Guns and Abs will get easier working it backwards!!

Here is the plank challenge for any who would like to try it:  If you decide to do either one, keep me posted!!!!

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The 30 Day Plank Challenge will send your core strength through the roof! Yes, all you have to do is HOLD this position, nothing else! It looks pretty easy, but it isn’t!

Day 1 – 20 seconds
Day 2 – 20 seconds
Day 3 – 30 seconds
Day 4 – 30 seconds
Day 5 – 40 seconds
Day 6 – REST
Day 7 – 45 seconds
Day 8 – 45 seconds
Day 9 – 60 seconds
Day 10 – 60 seconds
Day 11 – 60 seconds
Day 12 – 90 seconds
Day 13 – REST
Day 14 – 90 seconds
Day 15 – 90 seconds
Day 16 – 120 seconds
Day 17 – 120 seconds
Day 18 – 150 seconds
Day 19 – REST
Day 20 – 150 seconds
Day 21 – 150 seconds
Day 22 – 180 seconds
Day 23 – 180 seconds
Day 24 – 210 seconds
Day 25 – 210 seconds
Day 26 – REST
Day 27 – 240 seconds
Day 28 – 240 seconds
Day 29 – 270 seconds
Day 30 – PLANK FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE!!

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Benefits of Plank Exercise:

*It strengthens your lower back
*It develops your core muscles – which include the abs, back, hips and the butt.
*Helps you to avoid injuries and encourage good posture
*Can be done anywhere
*Develops your abdominals by targeting the rectus abdominis

SUPPORT each other in Fitness!!

This is a beginner routine.. everyone starts somewhere!

 

Heavy Heart

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The time has come and if you are an animal lover you know this time is inevitable.  Regardless, it tears you apart inside and tests your strength.  Tomorrow we will say goodbye to our beloved Riley.  We have had 14 1/2 years of love and devotion with him and it’s time to let him go with dignity and no suffering.  It’s times like these that make me realize I am not as strong as I think I am.  But for all he’s given to us, I will give him all that I have so he’s at peace and not afraid.  We have a wonderful service here called Laps of Love and they will come right to the house so he can be comfortable in his own home surrounded by our love. 

Storm Clouds Tonight

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Our house is located directly across from a very old abandoned radio station.  Tonight the storm clouds above it were amazing!!  The storm is blowing over with very little rain but some beautiful lightning.  The clouds were thick and heavy.  It was a catching sight to see!

Strawberry Jam (canning instructions too)

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This morning was dedicated to making our years supply of strawberry jam as well as a few for gifts and a few to sell.  I will tell you how I make it along with how I can it.  Some people think canning is so intimidating but it is actually very easy and quick.  There are only 4 MUST have tools….1) jars and lids  2) funnel 3) grippers 4) 2 large pots.  My son does not like big chunks so I crush my berries 1 cup at a time by hand so they are smaller pieces in the jam.

You should always make your own jam when the fruit is in season.  There is nothing better and it’s all natural!!

Note:  there are directions all over the internet for canning and the pectin has directions in the box also!!

To make cooked jam for canning:

5 cups crushed strawberries (wash, cut the hulls (green leaves) off, and crush in a bowl ONE cup at a time)

7 cups sugar (you can use alternative’s with no sugar pectin) We use Sure-Jel Pectin.  Always works and yes it’s a bit of sugar but you can cut back on it by adding a little extra pectin from a second box if you want and it’s so delicious you won’t care!!

Get a 1/2 full stock pot of water almost boiling

Fill your sink with the hottest water you can (you can use boiled water from microwave if need be) and keep jars, lids, and rings in it

Fill the 2nd stock pot with the 5 cups of crushed strawberries and add one box of pectin

Bring the berries/pectin to a full rolling boil stirring constantly it should boil even as you stir

Pour in the 7 cups of sugar all at once quickly

Keep stirring and bring back to rolling boil.  Boil for 1 full minute

Remove from heat and skim off any foam (light pink foam you will see).  You can leave foam but it doesn’t look pretty in the jars.  I keep the foam in a separate bowl and when finished I cover with plastic wrap and we use it as jam also keeping it in the fridge.

Remove a jar from hot water, wipe it dry and fill using the funnel and a ladle.  Fill just to the top where it meets the rim leaving 1/2 inch space to top of jar

Continue until all the jam is in the jars

(TIP:  if you have a little left over and don’t want to start a new jar put it in the foam bowl!!)

Wipe the top of the jar and around the rim where the lids screw on if it dripped at all

Dry the lids and place them on the jars and then dry the rings and tighten until just tight

Turn heat up on the water stock pot

Carefully place the jars in the water bath with the grippers making sure the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water

Bring to a slow boil and let boil for 10 minutes covered

Remove from water using grippers and place on a towel to set overnight (you will hear popping sounds when the lids seal)

After they have set overnight touch the middle of the lid to make sure it is not sticking up and has been sealed.  If it did not seal you can still use the jelly but keep it in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

When sealed you can store in a cool, dark place for 18 months

That’s it!!  Some of my tips:

1) Always make one batch at a time.  Do not try to do 2 batches at a time.

2) Clean everything in between batches so you are ready as soon as the batch comes out of the water bath

3) Jam should have fruit pieces in it.  If you want bigger pieces don’t crush as much

2nd batch

2nd batch

last year jam

This is the last jar from last years batch I just opened today to make toast for my son

ready

prepare strawberries

water batch

fill stock pot 1/ way with water

mushed 1 mushed5 cups sugar rolling boiljars hot jam funnelgrippers filled and ready to can going inboiling

 

 

Sunset

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It was a VERY hot and humid day today.  My kids worked something called Kidz Biz.  It is at our town hall and kids can rent spaces and sell goods.  It is set up to teach them about running a business.  My kids had a Karaoke stage and sold some chips and drinks.  It was 93 degrees with over 80% humidity.  I could barely last the 6 hours with setting up and tearing down.  We all raced home and jumped into the pool.  It was brutally hot but the kids worked their booth and made about $46.00 after paying the loans they took out (from mom and dad to buy the items and rent the space) so they were hot but happy.

My neighbor took the picture above at the river.  It was a beautiful sunset over Canada.

Here are some pictures of the Kidz Biz event.  UGH….it was hot and I am so NOT a heat person!!

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Strawberry Fields Forever…..

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Today was our picking day.  I started taking my kids when one was 3 and the other was 1.  It used to be just mommy and kids time.  Then as the children got older they always told friends about going and would ask if they could come.  Now it’s grown into friends and friends parents who come along.  Today we had 3 families and 2 kids who came along while their parents were at work.  I don’t like to take credit where it’s not due but 2 families today never went picking until their kids met my kids 🙂  I am very good friends now with both of these women and enjoy spending time with them when I can.

Well today’s experience was not our best…it’s about a week later than when we normally go so picking was not as fast as you had to search for the nice size berries.  It was also about 84 degrees in full sun with 80% humidity.  My son and his friend picked a quart each.  My daughter who is the best helper picked one quart then went to the truck for some water to drink, stubbed her toe on a rock and cut it pretty nastily.  It bled everywhere as toes do.  So her and the boys sat in the truck with the air on for almost 40 minutes while the rest of us picked.  But it’s done and we have the berries we needed.  Our strawberry plants at home are just starting to produce so we will have another 5 or more quarts in a few weeks.

As soon as we got home the kids grabbed a pack and headed out the door to play in the tree fort and eat their strawberries. They mark the quarts they pick with weeds so they know which is the one they want to eat.

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Tomorrow is something called Kidz Biz set up in our town hall and my kids have a karaoke booth so I will not be “jamming” until Sunday. For now I have the wonderfully sweet smelling strawberries in the fridge.

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