Friday, June 29, 2012

Our 6 mile journey...

With 6 kids, 4 scooters and 2 strollers...

An awesome friend of mine and I took our kids for a 6+ mile hike/walk today. We were all wiped out when it was over, but it was an AMAZING hike!

 Sadly it's kind of brown here now (like it is all over the western half of the US!)

We found this palm tree growing UNDER the 101 freeway! In an area with almost no sunlight. It's amazing what plants can do, especially since I still manage to kill every one I touch!

 We found two of these little shacks
which had these inside them. Any ideas what they are???
 And I'm imagining someone running along behind their horse with a GIANT blue poop bag! wowzas!

What great hikes have you taken lately?

Norwegian Cruise Line Kids Sail Free!

Kids sail free this fall on Norwegian Cruise Line. Book a select Fall 2012 cruise between now and July 7th and kids under 18 sharing your stateroom as a third or fourth guest sail free. Think of all the amazing cruises you and your kids can take!

Book before July 7th to take advantage of this sale here.

We took a Norwegian Cruise for our honeymoon and LOVED it! They're very family friendly and the Freestyle Cruising concept is perfect for families.

Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a Norwegian Cruise Line vacation for posting for this post.  No monetary or product exchange took place.

White Collar Season 3 DVD Giveaway

You could win White Collar Season 3 DVD set!

Enter on the Rafflecopter form below.

*This giveaway is not associated with anyone and is not sponsored by any company. This is just little old me giving away DVDs!

Giveaway is open to 18 and up, US only
Giveaway ends July 8 at 9:01pm PT

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It has descended upon our house...

The quiet, that is!

I love how quiet it is after we get home from the library. For a couple of hours I can do laundry, dishes, cook and enjoy myself without any fighting. No extra messes to clean up, no cranky kids. Everyone is sitting and reading their new books!

Wordless Wednesday... The Beach

Monday, June 25, 2012

Homemade Apple Butter Recipe

The weekend before last, even though it was 96 degrees outside (and mid-80s inside), my house smelled like fall. I spent Friday and Saturday making and canning apple butter. In hindsight, I'd look at the weather forecast better before I started, because it made my house hot AND muggy on Saturday with all the water boiling! I do NOT do humidity well... I've lived in the Bay Area in California my whole life and I'm used to pretty temperate weather.

This is a Crockpot Apple Butter recipe, adapted from Food Network.

Peel, core and chop 3.5 lbs of Granny Smith and Gala apples. The recipe calls for cutting into small chips, but I gave up quickly and ran them through my food processor on the grater mode. 

Add 2-47 ounce jars of unsweetened applesauce, 4 cups of sugar, 1 1/2 cups apple juice, 1 TB cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cloves and 3/4 tsp allspice. Stir well and turn Crockpot on low and cover overnight (or for 8-10 hours).

This is what it looks like after 
about 10 hours on Low.
 The recipe says to leave it chunky, but I like it smoother and ran it through my immersion blender. You could also do it in batches in a regular blender. Add the zest of 1/2 a lemon. Uncover and cook for about 12 more hours. It's best to prop it open or turn the lid sideways so it's partially uncovered, because it splatters.

When it's done, it's reduced by about half.

To see if it's done, put a spoonful on a plate. Let sit for a couple minutes. If it runs it's not done. Let it cook some more.

Once it's done it will not run along the plate and it will maintain its height when you put a spoonful down.

Sterilize your jars, lids and rings. Here's some info on canning apple butter, since I'm not an expert by any means!

Fill the jars, boil again and let them cool. The original recipe says it yields 12 pint jars, but it really makes about 9 or 10 half pint jars. 

Delicious on toast, peanut butter sandwiches, pancakes or waffles, scones, and tons of other things (and the kids love to eat if with a spoon, since it's basically thick and spicy applesauce.

Here's the recipe in one blurb, in case you want to print it:

Crockpot Apple Butter

3.5 pounds Gala and Granny Smith Apples (a mix of both types, totaling 3.5 lb)
2 - 47 oz jars unsweetened applesauce
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 TB ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground allspice
lemon zest of 1/2 lemon

Peel and core apples and grate them. Put all ingredients except lemon zest in into slow cooker and stir. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Remove cover, add lemon zest and blend apple butter smooth. Taste and add more spices or lemon if needed. Uncover and continue cooking for 10-12 more hours. Pour into sterilized jars and boil jars to seal. Enjoy!

Total time: about 24 hours
Yield: 9-10 8oz jars

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

So sometimes obsessions are good...

In the past when I've had an obsession it usually revolved around chocolate. Or licorice. Or gum. Or Lifesavers. Can you sense a theme?

A week ago I bought a pedometer and posted a goal here on my blog. Now I'm truly obsessed with my pedometer and checking my number of steps. I know there are days that it's not going to happen, days when the baby is sick (like Sunday) or when I'm too sunburned and there's no way I can get any decent number of steps in. I understand that.

But man do I love keeping track of my steps! And when my pedometer went on the fritz, I ran around to get another one immediately. I couldn't even wait for Amazon one day shipping! Now I have one that seems to work at least reasonably well, and FINALLY it counts all the steps around the house. The old one only started counting after 10 steps without pause, and basically nothing around the house counted. Think about vacuuming, picking up toys, chasing toddlers, picking up toys, cooking dinner. Almost all of those things make you pause before 10 steps, so they don't count. I know it's not aerobic walking, but it's still steps, and it's more than 3000 a day according to my new pedometer (I'm currently wearing 2 at a time... I know, I know!)

Oh and as a side benefit I've lost almost 10 pounds in the last couple months without doing anything else! Downside is I'm getting huge biceps thanks to pushing a loaded stroller around on my walks. I need to slim down, not bulk up!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kolcraft Stroller Recall

This is a scary recall for me, as it involves amputations of kids' fingers! Please check your model numbers if you own a Kolcraft!

THE DANGER: A child or consumer's finger can become caught in the opening formed when locking and unlocking the hinge mechanism which is used to adjust the handlebars on the strollers. This presents an amputation and laceration hazard to children and the adults handling the stroller. Kolcraft and CPSC have received five reports of injuries involving the hinge mechanism, including reports of three children whose fingertips were amputated and two adults whose fingers were either smashed or lacerated.

DESCRIPTION: This recall involves about 36,000 Kolcraft Contours Options three- and four-wheeled strollers in the US and 270 in Canada. Strollers included in the recall have model numbers starting with ZL002, ZL005, ZL008, ZL015, and ZL018. On the ZL002 model, the model number and date of manufacture is printed on a sticker above the left wheel. On the ZL005, ZL008, ZL015, and ZL018 models, the model number and date of manufacture is printed on a label sewn into the edge of back of the stroller seat pad. The strollers were manufactured from January 2006 through November 2009 and sold in various color schemes.

SOLD AT: Juvenile product specialty stores nationwide and online at,, and from January 2006 and June 2012 for between $150 and $160.

WHAT TO DO: Immediately stop using the product and contact the company to receive a free repair kit. For additional information, please contact Kolcraft at (800) 453-7673 between 8 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET Friday, or visit the firm's website at


Wordless Wednesday... Meeting the ocean and LOVING it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June Walking Breakdown

Okay, so here's the breakdown of walking, I'll update it daily (hopefully).

6/12: 6,485 steps. I was truly amazed, since I'm sunburned and miserable from the beach on Monday and literally sat for a good portion of the day. I of course did dishes and 5 loads of laundry, a trip to Target and taking the kids to music lessons. But still, even on a lazy day I almost reached 7000 steps! Big walking day tomorrow, so tomorrow's numbers will be way better. But I think I'm going to have to raise my goal if it's going to keep me motivated!

6/13: 16,567 steps! That's almost 8.5 miles! A friend and I took our kids for a walk to a park in Campbell, picnicked and played, then walked back. Turns out the walk was over 2.5 miles each way! I was shocked at how little whining I heard from my kids... normally at about the 3 mile mark they start asking "Are we there yet?" or "How much longer?" We had a blast, and apparently an hour playing in the park makes the walk easier. Pushing the very loaded stroller up those hills wasn't fun though!

6/14: 6787 steps. Makes me wonder if it stopped working, because I seemed to walk around a lot more than I did Tuesday. I don't know if all pedometers do this, but this one only starts counting if you have 10 or more consecutive steps. Makes a lot of my housework not count :-(

6/15: 7450 steps. Okay so it's definitely not working :-( I walked over a mile today in one stretch and it counted less than 200 steps, instead of the 2000 it should've counted. But I was going to make darn sure that I reached that 7000, so I was doing step aerobics at 11:30pm to reach it!

6/16: 4100 steps. 96 degrees outside today. It's too hot to do anything!

6/17: 5779 steps. Still not working right, I bought a cheap one until I decided which one to replace this one with (and send it back of course), and that one worked even worse than the current broken one!

6/18: 9248 steps. Got a new pedometer that seems to work(ish), but the kids and I took a 3 miles walk to Walgreens to pick up some Gatorade since Princesa had a stomach bug and then to 7-11 for Slurpees (as bribery for the kids for the long walk, since they didn't get a park break in the middle).

6/19: 10935 steps. Walked to the park with the kids (and discovered that very few of those streets have sidewalks. Luckily it's a pretty quiet neighborhood so I felt safe most of the way, but next time we may try walking to a different park instead.

6/20: 10855 steps. We went to Great America! I couldn't wear the pedometer for about half of the time we were there, since I was too wet to safely wear it :-) We had a blast but it's a LOT of work to take 3 kids to Great America, especially when they're all different heights (so they need to ride all different rides!) And I'm more than halfway done with my step goal!

6/21: 4237 steps. Lazy day (walking-wise anyways!) We visited family, got haircuts, ran errands, went to Girl Scouts and karate... We left the house at 11 and came home at 8! But yet I still only walked 4200 steps. Probably logged 100 miles on my car though!

6/22: 12670 steps. Went for a 4.4 mile walk on Penitencia Creek Trail. Nice, smooth trail for strollers, except for all the road crossings (and we're talking major roads!) Plus the playground at the turnaround point was SO broken down it was sad!

6/23: 8095 steps. Started out as a lazy day, went to the library with hubby and the kids. Then we decided to hit Ikea at 8pm. Shopping there then unloading all of the boxes added a TON of steps!

6/24: 7181 steps. Spent most of the day building bookcases for the game closet, then unpacking like 25 boxes of board games and Legos! And it's not half done yet... perhaps we have a problem!

6/25: 3175 steps. Visiting family and running errands doesn't add up. Plus I'm feeling mighty blah!

6/26: 3765 steps. Still feeling blah. I need something to pick me up!

6/27: 8179 steps. The kids and I went to Great America again. So I probably had a few thousand more, but I don't have a waterproof pedometer so I take it off to be safe. I may actually make my goal, less than 9500 steps left and 3 days to do it in!!

6/28: 5238 steps. Running errands, getting new tires, fun fun!

6/29: 17338 steps. 6 mile hike with the kids! That's over 8.5 miles total! Woohoo! Total for two weeks is 148,084 steps, beating my goal by 9000 steps with a day to go! I can't wait to see what July will bring...

6/30: 6117 steps. Finished building book shelves and unpacked more boxes! Slow day for walking but I got a lot done!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Let's Get Walking!

Okay so summer's here, which means I'll be active with the kids a lot. However, it also means that my walking "date" several times a week has been changed, since we'd be dragging 6 kids with us (instead of just the 2 in strollers), and for some reason they don't appreciate walking 5 miles at a pretty quick pace... they'd rather run and play and stop and then start whining that their feet hurt.

So now I'm trying to come up with a way to make sure I get enough walking in every day. I've got a tracker on the top of the page and a brand new pedometer.

My goal for the rest of the month is just over 7000 steps a day. I know that's still not great, so I'm hoping to be up to the 10,000 for next month. Friday I walked 5 1/2 miles by 11am (which is about 11,000 steps), so I know that 10,000 isn't out of reach. I just don't want to kill myself right off the bat, and it leaves me a little leeway for those lazy days.

I'll keep you updated about how it's going, but in the meantime how do you make sure you get enough steps into your day?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pampers Gifts to Grow... free code and 25% off rewards!

Here's a new Pampers Gifts to Grow code for 10 points: CABRANDSVRJUN12. I have no idea when it expires (the free codes tend to expire mid-month, so use it soon! Also, their rewards are currently 25% off!! I've been saving for a long time for one of these

for my munchkin. It was 4800 points, and I was like 200 points short last time I added points. I went looking for this month's code and found out the rewards were 25% off (until Tuesday 6/12 at midnight, according to another blog), so I get to make my little one happy for 3600 points and I still have 1000 left over to start saving up again!

Oh, and if you're not using Gifts to Grow yet, check it out here. Even if you don't have kids you can use the free points and enter for sweepstakes or use it for Shutterfly codes and other such fun things.

*UPDATE: We got our Kiddi-o ride on today, only 9 days after I ordered it!! It said 4-6 weeks delivery, so Princesa is going to LOVE playing with it tomorrow!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Preparing for Summer... $25 Target Giveaway

Are you ready for summer? I am totally dreading next week, when the kids will officially be off school for the summer. I'm looking forward to not getting up so freaking early in the morning (have I ever mentioned I'm REALLY not a morning person?), but I'm going to have to work hard to keep 3 kids busy all summer!

Normally I have them scheduled in swim lessons and a couple weeks of summer camp to give me a break, but so far we have very little scheduled this summer. We are buying Great America season passes and planning to spend a LOT of time in the waterpark inside, although keeping track of 3 at a time could be fun...

So, to help all of you get ready for summer, I'm offering up a $25 Target gift card to one winner. This is also my first giveaway since I've gotten back into blogging and the first one I'm doing using Rafflecopter, so this is all new for me :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is not associated in any way with Target and is not sponsored by any company. This is just little old me giving away a giftcard!

Giveaway is open to 18 and up, US only
Giveaway ends June 20 at 9:01pm PT