Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 2013 on FB

Dec. 1: Best thing about December 1: the start of the advent calendars!!!

Dec. 3: had homemade pumpkin shakes tonight using fresh pumpkin. I was going to dump the extra filling I had from making pumpkin pies on Thanksgiving, but Josh thought we should save it to make shakes with. it was SOOOO delicious! I don't know why I've never thought of making it before--but I'm so glad Josh did!

Dec. 6: Went to the 30th annual BRHS Madrigal Dinner tonight with my parents! The food was so good and the music was excellent! There were some new songs added to the program since I was a part of it 15+ years ago! Well done again Brian Douglas Petersen!!

Dec. 8: did any of you when you were kids pronounce ZCMI as "zookeemee"? I did for the longest time as a youngster! I saw a box labeled ZCMI when I was home this weekend, and I instantly thought "zookeemee" in my head before I remembered it's just an acronym!!!

Dec. 20: It's 5 days before Christmas, and I'm barely making our Christmas cards, I just started wrapping gifts, and I haven't even come up with an idea for neighbor gifts yet. I'm glad to have an extended break from school because I am so stinking far behind this year!!!

Dec. 26: Happy Day! I was hoping that the university I've applied to would accept at least 12 of my previous college credits (since I took college classes 15+ years ago, I was worried that they might not accept any!), and I got notified today that they accepted 22!!! Woot woot!

Dec. 31: 2013 was a great year! Looking forward to 2014, too! Happy New Year!

Top 40 Hits of 2013

I like to review our family's life at the end of each year. It's fun to remind ourselves of all the good times we've had, and see how much we've progressed.
So, here it is:  the annual list of the
Tolman Family's Top 40 Memories of 2013 (in chronological order)!

1. Ammon turning 13, and as an official teenager, he received the long-awaited for phone and privileges to open his own facebook!
2. Sledding by our house and seeing Kanyon go down the hill alone for the first time, then building a snow cave at the base of the hill!
3. Jonah winning the scout pinewood derby, and Micah getting a 4th place finish in the races.
4. Watching Ammon's basketball team win several of their games, and having Kala sing super loud during one of the games "this team is on FIRE!!" which totally embarrassed Ammon!
5. Hosting Kanyon's first birthday party with friends, and creating a fun Angry Birds theme for it.
6. Spending Easter with the Perkins family in Utah--Josh found the silver egg in the adult hunt, and Jonah found the golden egg in the youth hunt!
7. Playing miniature golf in Grandpa Perkins' backyard on the course he made just for our boys!
8. Josh & Kala celebrated 15 years of marriage by visiting Las Vegas and enjoyed touring Hoover Dam and seeing Celine Dion in concert.
9. Kala writing and directing a Shrek Musical for her 5th graders, and seeing their outstanding performance completed her vision!
10. Kanyon feeding chickens at Miss Shanda's daycare.
11. Jonah and Micah completing a year of Par Kour, and performing their routine at the Spring Dance & Gymnastics Recital.
12. Kanyon graduating from Kindergarten.
13. Josh finishing his 5-year term on the school board.
14. Going on a family 4-wheeler ride to Janoa's (dog included!)
15. Jonah, Micah, and Kanyon passing off their swimming lessons.
16. Attending the Tolman Reunion at the Tolman Dairy in Jerome.
17. Swimming with the Perkins girl cousins at the Logan Pool.
18. Kala going with some friends from High School to see the play "Avenue Q".
19. Getting our new dog "Tiki" from the pound after our previous dog Shorty died.
20. Ammon completing his Eagle Scout project of building bridges for the golf course.
21. Going to a hot rod car show and a nice pizza restaurant afterward.
22. Jonah, Micah, and Kanyon scoring goals during their soccer season.
23. Kala & Ammon floating down the murky Salmon River with cousin Tanisha.
24. Having our own firework show with the Tolman family in Ed & Kathy's backyard, and Josh accidentally shooting an exploding firework at all the family members observing the show!
25. Entering a Pumpkin Patch float in the 4th of July parade.
26. Josh floating down the Salmon River with all of his siblings and his mom for her birthday.
27. Kanyon learning to ride a bike without training wheels!
28. Kala going for daily evening summer walks with her friends.
29. Hiking to Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park.
30. Visiting Great Grandma & Grandpa Parsons in Great Falls, going to dinner with them, and staying at a nice hotel with a big waterslide.
31. Camping with friends at the Ward Campout.
32. Ammon hunting a deer all by himself.
33. Camping and soaking at Challis Hot Springs & watching Ammon run a cross country race there.
34. Josh & Kala spending 3 days in McCall.
35. Managing another successful pumpkin patch.
36. Playing in the leaves and on haybales with Uncle Malachi, his friends, and our neighbors and friends.
37. Josh & Kala going to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort for Josh's birthday.
38. Spending 2 days over Christmas Break relaxing with the "big cousins" in Stanley.
39. Celebrating Christmas morning at home, and Kanyon waking up first to enjoy the festivities
40. Going sledding with the Entrikin cousins on New Year's Eve.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Deck the Cookies with lots of Sprinkles

We made sugar cookies this Christmas season.
I know that doesn't sound like a big deal...but we have never done this before as a family. We all love eating sugar cookies, but neither Josh nor I have ever invested in taking the time to make them together with our kids.
Josh really wanted to make them with the boys this year. He even bought sprinkles and frosting, so I knew he was serious in following through with his heart's desire. So, the process of making sugar cookies became a Family Home Evening activity that we did on Monday the 16th (the week after we put up the Christmas tree). 
Josh made the cookie dough using a new recipe. We thought we'd experiment with it, and if the cookies turned out good, then maybe we'd make some more and use them as our neighbor gifts this year (since for the first time in many years, I was drawing a blank as to what to make and give our neighbors and friends).
The boys were very interested in the whole process, and were good little helpers. After Josh rolled out the dough, they picked the cookie shapes to cut into the smooth mixture.

It was fascinating for me to watch Josh bake--a real rarity in our home. He is a fantastic cook, but baking isn't really his thing.  For all the times I've made baking dough, I never realized until watching him that it takes my small hands much longer than his large hands to roll it out. Next time I'm rolling dough, I'm going to have him do it because he gets it done so much quicker!

We had an assortment of cookie cutter shapes already, but not a lot of Christmas ones. We started out with baking sheets filled with traditional Christmas shapes like trees, stars, ornaments, and snowmen, but there was also some roosters, chickens, hearts, boys, and girls added to the mix. After a few rounds of baking, we narrowed down the shapes to just the Christmas ones!

As Josh continued to roll out several batches of cookie dough, the boys began decorating the baked cookies. I dyed the white frosting in all the colors we had: red, yellow, blue, and green, and brought out all the jars of sprinkles. Frosting the cookies and decorating them was the boys' favorite part of the process.

Some of the cookies looked very realistic in their color choices...

And some of them were VERY coated in sprinkles...(do you want some cookie with your sprinkles?!)

The cookies were so beautiful when we were done! They were so colorful and creative, and we began eating them right away!!! But we did share them with others, too: Josh took some to his employees, I took some to my secret Relief Society sister's family, and we shared many with Kanyon's class after their Christmas play.

After feeling successful with our first experiment with making them, we decided we'd make some more to deliver to our friends and neighbors! But...since making them was so time-consuming, we never managed to get another round of sugar cookies done before Christmas. I thought of a clever idea to turn them into a New Year's treat instead, so that's what is on today's Family Home Evening agenda for our family!!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

All Lit Up

Although we got our Christmas Tree the day after Thanksgiving, it sat outside for 10 days before we actually moved it in, lit it up, and decorated it. We didn't do it Thanksgiving weekend because I was working on college stuff, then the next weekend I went to Utah for my friend Kim's wedding and Josh took the boys to Stanley for cousin Erick's mission homecoming.
It took me a while to get into the Christmas spirit this year, but I began feeling it when I was in Utah. I went with my parents to the BRHS Madrigal dinner show--which I participated in when I was in high school. I loved some of the new songs they added to the program since I was in it 16 years ago, and the food was delicious. It was a fun date with my parents!
I also made sure I went to the annual Light Show at the Tremonton City Center. My mom went with me, and we watched the 30-minute show set to music. There were some new lights added this year, and a few new songs, but my favorite is still "Blue Christmas".  I never get tired of seeing this show--this is my 3rd or 4th year viewing it.

After hearing pleads from my children every day since cutting down the tree, we finally put it up for Family Home Evening on Dec. 9. We argued about where to place it this year, and agreed on a new location in the Family Room. We've never put it in there before because the wood stove is in there, but since we'd been so late in putting it up and it was only going to be in there for 2 weeks, we didn't worry about it drying out too early.

I was going to put lights on it in 3 colors this year (usually I just pick 1 color): red, white, and blue. But the boys said they liked just red and blue. It was a unique color combination, and I really liked it. Josh put on the lights this year, which I usually do, but he did a fabulous job and I was grateful for his help. The 3 younger boys did the majority of the decorating. They picked red, white, and blue ornaments to place on the tree, and they worked together (with the help of stools, too) to place the decorations from top to bottom!

 I loved watching the tree come to life as my husband and boys placed items on the tree. I hardly did a thing, and it was so enjoyable for me!

My favorite thing about having a Christmas Tree in the house is admiring it each night when the house lights are off. Every night when we turned it on, I got so happy! It was a beautiful tree--and I was so proud of my boys for picking it out, cutting it down, bringing it in, lighting it up, and decorating it.

It took me almost another week to get out all our Christmas decorations for the house, and by the time we were within 10 days of Christmas, the decorating was finally complete!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

no more Tulu

In July, we got two kittens from our neighbors the Schwarz's. We named them Torch and Tulu. Torch is male and is orange and white. Tulu is female and is calico.
We've really enjoyed these cats. They're playful with each other and kind to children, and they get along with our dog Tiki. Torch and Tulu, brother and sister, loved spending time together. I enjoyed watching them play tag with each other, and seeing them nap together. They were best buds.

The day after Thanksgiving, we discovered that Tulu was injured. We weren't sure what happened though, or what was hurting her. She was walking very slowly, and shivering, and it appeared that her back hip or her back legs were bothering her. There were no cuts or broken bones that we could see or feel. It was cold, so we brought her into the house by the fire, and she laid there for a while. Then she wandered around into Ammon's closet and laid by his dirty clothes. The boys were playing Ammon's new X Box in his room, and pretty soon were complaining about a weird smell. So I went in there and took Tulu back outside so she could use the bathroom. She crouched down to relieve herself and stayed in that position for 10 minutes. I thought that was strange, but I got tired of waiting, so I finally just went out and picked her up, and brought her back into the house again. That night, we kept her in the laundry room. We had decided that we would take her to the vet the next day to see if they could help her at all. But when we got up the next morning, the laundry room was covered with piles of blood. We knew then that she had some internal issues, and the blood was coming from her stomache a/o bowels area. We thought perhaps she'd been run over by a car, but she always stayed away from vehicles and the road, so we didn't know how that could be. Then Josh came to the conclusion that she got stepped on or kicked by a cow. Our neighbor's cows had been grazing in the field right by our home, and the boys had been playing in a fort down the ditch from us. The ditch borders the field that the cows were in, and we're sure that she was following the boys, and got in the way of a cow. We knew the extent of her injuries would worsen, and that we wouldn't be able to help her. So, we decided to not take her to a vet. She died later that morning.

That's the second pet in a year that's passed away. The boys were a little sad, but Torch has taken it the hardest. He doesn't run around and play anymore--because he has nobody to play with (we got our dog Tiki from the shelter when she was one, and she was never taught to "play" apparently). Torch just lays around a lot, and he follows Tiki outside. He misses his playmate and friend. I feel badly for the little cat, and have pondered getting him a new cat buddy from the shelter, but haven't done so yet. Tulu was a beautiful cat and I'm sorry that her life ended so shortly.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Lost and Found

I found the lost Thanksgiving photos! For some reason, they were on the camera's memory instead of being on the SD card memory. I'm glad I found them! Here's remnants of what Thanksgiving morning looked like at our house as we were preparing to host the family dinner that afternoon:

I made homemade pumpkin pies and crust.
I like looking at the finished crust before it goes into the oven with the filling!

The boys played the wii with their Entrikin cousins.

Josh perused the Black Friday advertisements in the newspaper
as we watched the Thanksgiving Day parade on television.

Josh preparing our homegrown potatoes (in the clean kitchen!)
before they were transformed into mashed potatoes for the meal.

A Thanksgiving Void

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner for Josh's entire family this year. His parents asked us in October if we could have the dinner at our house, and we said that would be fine. In addition to Josh's parents, siblings & spouses & kids, we also had Josh's uncle & aunt & two kids & a grandchild, and another aunt come for dinner. All in all, there were 28 people coming! I had worked out the plan in my mind for where everyone would sit in the house, and what rooms we'd need to move furniture around to accommodate everyone, and what extra tables and chairs we would have to obtain.
The day before Thanksgiving, the boys helped Josh & I clean all the living spaces, the kitchen, and the bathrooms. They were good little helpers! Josh's sister Tiffany and her family of 10 arrived that afternoon, and the boys had fun playing with their cousins that evening. His brothers and their ladies came early as well.
I took photos of what Thanksgiving morning looked like at our house: watching the parade on TV, playing games with cousins, making pies and mashed potatoes, and moving furniture around to make room for more tables. But mysteriously, all the pictures I took that morning disappeared from my camera. I did not delete them, and I don't know how they were removed. There's 10 numbered photos missing on my camera's memory card, with the only one left from that morning being this one:
Out of all the photos I took that morning, this would've been the one that I actually would've deleted. It's strange to me that it's the only one left of all the happier ones taken that morning. This is the unfortunate story behind this picture...
With Josh's family, it is difficult to take a family photo. We are rarely all together at the same time and in the same location, and I felt like it was really important to take a picture of all of us together before the Thanksgiving meal began. I felt strongly about doing it before everyone sat down to eat, because then people would want to go do different things as soon as dinner was done. I didn't tell any of his family about the photo, though, because I didn't want them to worry about dressing up nice--I just wanted to take a picture of us exactly as we were. To prepare, I set the family room up for it: I moved furniture around, measured the space to accommodate 22 people, and envisioned ahead of time where I wanted everyone to stand/sit so that we wouldn't waste time figuring it out, I took pictures off the walls, scrubbed the walls, and figured out the lighting (which is why I took this photo to make sure the lighting worked). I asked his cousin's wife in advance to take the photo of us, and showed her where she needed to stand and how I wanted it done--also to save time. I felt like since we were asked to host, and since we'd spent two days of our school vacation cleaning and rearranging and cooking for Josh's family, that asking them to have a photo taken in return was not a huge favor. It should've only taken about 2 minutes to take the family photos, which I didn't think was a big deal. 
But then Josh's siblings and parents arrived late for dinner. The meal was supposed to start at 1:00, and Josh was stressing out that the food wouldn't be warm if we didn't start eating it right when everyone arrived. When everyone came up from his parent's house next door, I informed them of my photo plan. But his dad told me it wouldn't work because Tiffany and some of her kids hadn't come up yet. I said "that's okay, I will start having you stand/sit where the picture will be taken, then when they get here in a minute, we'll all be ready to go". But Edward said he didn't know when they'd arrive, and he didn't want to wait for them, and that he was ready to eat. Josh agreed with his dad; that we should eat and not take a photo. Then the family was all standing around waiting for a decision to be made. His dad said we could just take a photo after dinner, and I said "Fine. But nobody can leave this house until a photo has been taken". Apparently that sounded like a joke, so then his dad was saying that I should just take individual photos of everyone later, and just make a big collage for a family picture, and he was laughing about how ridiculous this situation was. That was very hurtful; he was making a joke of me and how much I valued having a family photo taken. He obviously doesn't understand how long the photo-editing process takes, and he didn't understand how much I'd invested in hosting Thanksgiving dinner for him. So we hurriedly moved the couch out of the way and moved the picnic table into that room. Then a prayer was said, and the kids and family members started eating. Josh was mad at me for even suggesting taking a photo of his family. I was upset that nobody understood how important it was--Tiffany's oldest child is going to college, and Malachi's girlfriend is going on a mission, and Josh's mom has been sick, and I felt like now was a good time for a family picture. I felt used--we were asked to host, we were expected to have a house ready, we were supposed to have food prepared--but having one picture taken in return was apparently too much to ask. 
I was not about to endure a meal with family members who make fun of me and are rude to me in my home after I'd worked so hard to have them here. So, I went to my room and laid on my bed and cried. For two hours. Until everyone left. This was the 3rd year in a row we've had Thanksgiving with Josh's family in Salmon...and I missed my family. I called my mom, and they were having a big fun get-together with my siblings. They were having a great time eating and playing games and building gingerbread houses. I felt so lonely.
Tiffany's family left shortly after dinner to go back to Pocatello because her son was sick with the flu. So there wasn't any other family get-together time the rest of the Thanksgiving break. And there were no family photos taken. The only picture I have of our Thanksgiving dinner now is an empty couch in an empty room--a photo which feels so void of love, which is how Thanksgiving felt to me this year: void of family togetherness & unity, void of family photos, and void of relaxation. I learned a hard lesson that day: no matter how important things are to you, nobody else cares how important you feel they are. I will never ask Josh's family to have a group photo taken of them again, because then I won't have to be upset that they don't value the pictures like I do. 
Life moves on, and I wasn't going to be depressed my entire Thanksgiving vacation. I'd already wasted two of its days doing things that I wouldn't have chosen to do with my time off from school. 
I had bought supplies and made cookies and frosting to create edible peanut butter & chocolate turkeys with the cousins, but after they left, we knew that wouldn't happen. So we invited Josh's brothers over that night to make some, as well as my friends Kerry and Kimi, and Kimi's boyfriend Preh.
They were so easy and turned out cute! And I loved the flavor combination!

We played the game "Clue" several times that weekend, which was the funnest part for me! Playing with adults is so much more riveting and exciting than playing with kids!

The boys played at Grandma's house a lot. Kanyon especially like playing the game "Chicken Invaders" with Uncle Malachi. We also played a few board games with Josh's brothers and their ladies, too.

The day after Thanksgiving, the 3 older boys woke up early to go Black Friday shopping with Josh in Salmon. They'd never been before, and since Salmon is so small, nobody had to wait in line or be tackled over a toy like what happens in bigger cities. They'd been saving up for months to purchase deals that morning, and they all came home with what they wanted: Jonah and Micah both got iPods and Ammon got an X-Box and a game. They were all so happy!

That afternoon, Josh and the boys went to go pick out a Christmas tree for us from a nearby mountain. They went with their uncles and grandpa. I didn't go because I stayed home to take some college assessment tests, and I was grateful for the quiet chance to focus on the tests I'd been stressing about taking. They had a nice time hiking and searching for a tree. Ammon picked out the tree, and cut it down (which was a first). And even though Micah thought that tree was "crappy", it was so beautiful in our home!

And later that weekend, Josh cooked us our own turkey. Edward & Kathy had brought the turkey to Thanksgiving dinner, which meant that we didn't get to snack on leftovers for days afterwards. I was really craving some turkey to go with all our leftover mashed potatoes and delicious homemade turkey gravy that Josh had made--so he cooked us up a nice, juicy turkey and it was sooo good!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Primary and Prayers

The Primary Program at church was on a Sunday in the middle of November. My boys looked so handsome in their suits!

It was a lovely program and the Spirit was so strong in the room. The theme this year was "I am a Child of God".

Jonah spoke about why we needed to come to earth and how we live by faith here since we don't remember our pre-existence. Micah spoke about why we need the Savior's atonement in order to return to live with Heavenly Father again.

Kanyon told a personal story about prayer. This past spring, he was playing outside with our dog Shorty. Shorty took his new glasses from his face and carried them off somewhere else outside. He looked around outside but couldn't find them anywhere. After searching for a while, and becoming very upset, the boys and I found out about it. We began helping him look outside for the glasses, but nobody discovered them. It was becoming dark, and getting harder and harder to see. I suggested we come in the house and say a prayer that we find them. Kanyon said that the prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help us find his glasses before it became dark. Then we went back outside and searched again. The boys were so discouraged, because we'd been looking for over an hour at this point. I began to feel like we should just give up, and right when I was going to suggest we go inside for the night, I stepped on the side piece of his glasses. It was truly a miracle that we found them. They were brown in color, and totally mixed right in with the dormant grass of early spring. I had walked by that spot earlier, and didn't even see the glasses. It was testimony of the power of prayer for all of us! I was so proud of Kanyon for telling the experience (a much shorter version) from the pulpit. He even memorized his part and didn't need help recounting it! He has really grown so much from just a few years ago when he wouldn't even stay on the stand during the Primary Program!

I was able to play the piano for it (a calling I received in March), and I really enjoyed playing as they practiced and performed their sweet songs. I loved the program and could see the difference that all their practices had made. I'm so grateful for our ward's primary leaders in creating the nice program, and I'm so happy that the general Primary felt divinely inspired to choose the simple and truthful theme of "I am a Child of God" this year. The children all spoke about how they knew they were a child of God in primary throughout the year, and I was so glad I could be present to hear their honest testimonies.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wishing you a...

This is our 2013 family newsletter that we included with Christmas cards this year (which I was very late sending; they just barely got mailed this week!):

Hello family and friends! Living in Salmon, Idaho means a life that includes lots of travel. We are over 2 hours away from the nearest major hospital, Wal-Mart, and restaurant chains! We go out of town at least once a month for doctor and dentist appointments, sports competitions, shopping, and recreation!
Here are 13 Memorable Tolman Travels in 2013:

1. (January) Family trip to Ashton for a basketball tournament Ammon was in. The weather was super snowy, the roads were bad, we barely made it in time, the competition was tough and his team won some and lost some, and Josh almost got kicked out of one game because the ref thought he was making obscene gestures (he wasn’t)!

 2. (March) Josh and Kala took an anniversary trip to Las Vegas. We hadn’t been there since we were dating 15+ years ago! We visited Kala’s Grandma Rose in Pleasant Grove on the way, rode the Big Shot at the top of the Stratosphere, attended the Las Vegas temple, golfed, and went to several shows, including Celine Dion!
3. (March) – Family trip to Tremonton for Easter. We played miniature golf in Grandpa’s backyard on his homemade course, dyed Easter eggs with Grandma, and had the Perkins family annual Easter egg hunt. We also got to attend cousin Weaton’s wedding in Brigham City that same weekend.

4. (May) Kala took the younger boys to watch Ammon’s track meet in Ririe. It was a poorly-run meet, and we waited for hours in the cold wind to watch Ammon run. We decided to leave without even seeing him race. We were all freezing and Kala was really irate at the disorganization! Their bus didn’t even get home until after 11:00 that night!

 5. (June) Cousins Camp in Logan. Kala took the boys to spend the weekend with their Perkins girl cousins. We swam all afternoon at the City Pool, rode bikes, had a barbecue dinner, slept in tents in the backyard, and made a gift for Grandpa Perkins for Father’s Day.

 6. (June) Family trip to the BH Tolman Family Reunion in Jerome (except for Ammon who was returning from scout camp). We had a fabulous day at the Tolman family home & dairy. Kanyon loved the chickens, Jonah and Micah played with cousins, and Kala rode a zip line for just the 2nd time in her life (and didn’t get stuck on it this time!).

7. (July) Kala went with Josh on an overnight trip to Coeur d’Alene for a golf meeting. This was a terrible trip: we ate some awful food, Josh got sick with the flu, and we got into a fight. The only positive thing that happened was that Kala got to visit her Grandpa Perkins in Spokane while Josh was at his meeting.

 8. (August) Family visit to Great Grandma & Grandpa Parsons in Great Falls. The boys played with their dog, Grandma showed Kala her awesome embroidery machine, Grandpa and Josh had a nice visit, we went to buffet dinner with Grandma & Grandpa, and we were treated to a nice hotel stay with a waterslide!

9. (August) Family vacation to Glacier National Park. This was our 2nd year going there. Our favorite hike this year was Avalanche Lake! We enjoyed hiking together—except that one time when the boys didn’t want to hike with us and they got lost, then Josh & Kala got scared, then the boys were found (and didn’t get eaten by nearby bears) and were in SO MUCH trouble!!

10. (September) Ammon’s Cross Country meet in Rigby. Josh drove the bus for it (his 2nd job now). Kala took the other boys, but took a wrong turn on the way there and got lost TWICE! We barely made it in time for his race at Rigby Lake where he got a 4th place medal! It was a warm day and the boys played in the giant sandpit playground.

11. (September) Family camping trip to Sula, Montana for Jonah & Micah’s birthday. We went miniature golfing, cooked food over the campfire, and soaked in the hot springs at Lost Trail until we were getting bitten and eaten alive by some large blood-sucking insects that we’d never seen before.

 12. (October) Josh & Kala went to McCall for Josh’s work meetings. Josh conducted meetings and turned over his reign as President of Idaho Golf Course Superintendents. Kala walked and lounged at the Payette Lake each day.

 13. (November) Kala treated Josh to an overnight getaway for his birthday in Anaconda. We stayed at the Fairmont Resort, soaked in the hot springs, lazily wore our PJs in our posh hotel room, and Josh got a massage at the spa.

We wish you safe travels this Holiday Season and in the year to come!
With love, Josh, Kala, Ammon, Jonah, Micah, & Kanyon Tolman

Monday, December 23, 2013

Home Grown Goodness

My 2013 Canning Experiences:
The transparent apple tree grew a ton of apples this year! So much so, I knew I couldn't use them all. I advertised it for free picking, and a few people came by and got some...but I was still left with lots!
I made apple butter...my first experience making that. And I dehydrated a bunch, too!
The apple butter was even more time consuming than applesauce, but it's sooo delicious!
The red apple tree grew a lot less apples, and they were ripe in September & October, which is later than the Transparent type in August. I ate a lot of these fresh, and included them in baking recipes, but didn't end up canning any of them like I have in previous years.
I made one batch of a new kind of rhubarb freezer jam that includes canned pineapple and strawberry jello. I love rhubarb flavors and the new recipe didn't disappoint me! Our rhubarb plants did so much better this year, and I was grateful to have enough to include in fresh baking throughout the summer as well as this freezer jam.
Our neighbor and friend Frank had lots of apricots on his trees, and offered me the chance to come pick some. I gladly did! I just LOVE apricots and I wish I had a tree of my own! The apricots were in abundance this year, and I was so glad to eat some fresh! I also made some apricot syrup and some apricot freezer jam with what I picked.
 We didn't plant as much corn this year as we have in years' past. We ate a lot of corn-on-the cob when it was fresh. Some of our corn dried out before I had the chance to pick it all, though.
However, I did still manage to make a batch of some freezer corn! Definitely not as much as I did last year, but I still have some left over from last year, so I think it will all balance out by the end of this coming year.
This was my first year ever growing tomatoes. I planted them with the thought that I would make salsa, but that never came to pass. I planted three varieties: regular, roma, and cherry. I ate a lot of the cherry tomatoes, and just loved them! I will definitely be planting them again! This photo was one day's picking from the garden by our house, which includes cherry tomatoes, red raspberries, and white raspberries:
Using some of the roma and regular tomatoes, I made a batch of tomato sauce, and was surprised at how easy it was. I've already used all these homemade sauces, and was very pleased with their flavor.

Our pear tree has never been so overwhelmed!!! It grew so many pears this year that the branches were touching the ground! I also advertised free picking on this tree, and a few people came and picked some of its produce. I have never liked pears, and I didn't want all the fruit to go to waste. I kept about one basket full of them for our family, and I intended to slice and dehydrate them, but the fall went by so fast that they ended up rotting before I could get that chance, which I felt bad about.
I have never liked the placement of this tree in our yard--it competes for sunlight with a nearby shade tree and the hedge that borders the ditch. Also, every year I feel guilty that I don't do more with this fruit. So, I've convinced Josh to remove the pear tree from our yard this winter, which I'm so glad for!
So far, I've canned 9 small orange pumpkins. I have a few blue pumpkins left over from the patch that I will be making into puree, too. I always have people question if the blue ones are good (which I hear that they are), so I'm glad to finally have the chance to cook them for myself and find out because we've never had any blue ones left over after the patch has closed before.

We also grew two kind of potatoes this year: Yukon Gold and Red, as well as two kind of onions: yellow and red. I dried out the onions and placed them all in nylons like I did last year--which worked out super! We've been eating a lot of the potatoes, and the rest are in burlap bags.

It was a good garden year, and I feel blessed that our food grew so well. I love eating fresh food straight from the garden and I've enjoyed learning how to can my own produce!