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krista | krista – Page 8 – A Grand Journey
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Pickles – the Food of Generations

Grandpas Garden, Recipes By September 2, 2015 No Comments

My family loves pickles. From my oldest granddaughter all the way up to her grandpa.  Are they picky about their pickles? Why, yes they are!  Not just any old pickle will do. So, I was a bit nervous when I decided to take on the role of Pickle Chef and make pickles from the cucumbers in my garden. Since I didn’t have all the equipment to actually process them with a heat bath, I decided to make the refrigerator kind.

I purchased an entire case of quart canning jars from Walmart, I noticed (afterwards) that some places actually sell them individually. However, since these pickles won’t be canned (put under heat and pressure), any jar that you have in your cabinet should work.  Like old jars from pickles you bought at the store!  Make sure to thoroughly wash any jar that you use, including the new ones you just bought.

The ingredients:

  •       3 ½ cups of water
  •       1 ¼ cups white vinegar
  •       1 Tablespoon regular sugar
  •       1 Tablespoon regular salt
  •       4 cups cucumbers (cut into spears or slice
  •       2 cloves of garlic (whole, but pealed)
  •       Fresh dill (4 or 5 sprigs or individual stalks)


In a sauce pan stir together water, vinegar, salt and sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and let it cool down completely.

Meanwhile, fill your jar with cucumber spears, dill and garlic.

Pour cooled vinegar mixture over cucumbers in the jar.  Put on lid and refrigerate for at least 3 days.  *adapted from a recipe found on

Tips and Hints:

  • Fresh dill seems delicate and turns bad quickly.  I suggest you use it the same day you buy it.  Gently rinse it when you get it home and let it drain.
  • The original recipe called for 2 heads of dill, this confused me. Since the dill divides naturally into individual stalks (sprigs) I translated it into that measurement.  I added dill on the top and to the bottom of the jar.
  • If you are impatient and want your vinegar water to cool faster, stick it in the refrigerator.
  • I let my prepared pickles set in the frig for a week before we tried them.
  • If you want a little kick then add a sliced jalapeno pepper or dried red chile pepper to the jar.

The result:  Everyone liked them, from the granddaughter to the grandfather and everyone in-between.  I even gave a jar away to friends. That’s confidence!




Pizza and a movie

Pizza and a Movie

Family By August 28, 2015 No Comments

When my boys were little, my husband worked long hours during the week.  He left early and arrived home late. However, we decided during that time to make Friday night, family night.  We went one step further and deemed it “Pizza and Movie” night. So, on most Friday nights, dad left work at a reasonable hour to make it home in time for our special date. The boys would look forward to it.  We would cuddle on the couch (that was back when we all fit), eat pizza, watch a movie and then have discussions.  Questions like, “who do you think is the best superhero?” or “why did so and so feel he had to lie?”, were common.

When my oldest son went off the college, out of state, he regularly called home on Friday night.  He wanted to chat and then asked what we were planning to watch that night. He felt a connection (with possibly some home sickness thrown it), he knew where we would be and what we would be doing.  We had created a tradition. We have watched and discussed many movies with our kids over the years.  The movies allowed us to talk about stuff and point out examples of things that might not have come up in normal conversations.

Today, we are empty nesters.  Our boys both live an hour away.  But, if they happen to come over on a Friday night, their questions is, “where is the pizza and what are you watching?”.

What traditions have you created in your family?



6 Tips for a Smoother Toddler Bedtime

Grandkids, Toddlers By August 28, 2015 4 Comments

My two year old granddaughter was staying overnight a few weekends ago. All was going well, until it was time for bed. Even though she was showing the standard signs of fatigue (a slowdown in activity level and eye wiping with the back of the hand), she insisted she wasn’t tired and DID NOT want to go to bed. We put her to bed anyway. What ensued was an extended period of coaxing, singing, talking and stroking of her back, on my part, in an attempt to get her to sleep. She lovingly responded to my efforts with whining, crying and yelling. My rusty toddler parenting skills were challenged. After an emotionally exhausting hour went by, she finally went to sleep.

Not looking forward to this type of episode repeating itself, at least not on a regular basis, I decided to do a little research on managing over tired toddlers. I found out a few errors we had made and some tips to help make bed time easier to manage.

  • Start the transition to bedtime 30 to 45 minutes before it’s actually time to go to sleep.
  • No video watching (if you allow that) including educational type videos like Sesame Street before bedtime.
  • Give them a nice warm bubble bath. Wash them up and then let them play for a few minutes. This doesn’t have to take all night, allow 10 minutes to splash around.
  • Put them in their pajamas. Having designated PJ’s for sleeping also helps to signal that it is almost time for bed.
  • Snuggle on a chair or the couch and read them a book or two. Let them pick out a couple short ones to read. If they don’t like to “snuggle” then let them sit quietly and look at a few books. Give them a specific limit, for example, this is the last book or five more minutes.
  • Have everything ready in their bed (crib) like a stuffed animal they may sleep with or their favorite blanket. Dashing around looking for these items last minute could mess with the calm atmosphere you are trying to create.

I had an opportunity to try out these steps recently. I am happy to report that they worked. I had great success getting her to go to bed and to fall asleep right away. No fuss, no yelling or crying.

I am sure there are more great tips out there to get a toddler to sleep without a fight. Let us know what they are.

**This post linked to the GRAND Social


The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Family By August 28, 2015 No Comments

My family loves raspberries. When we lived in New Mexico they were not as easy to come by as they are in New England. The climate is great here for growing all kinds of berries. A few years ago, I decided I would buy my husband a raspberry bush for Father’s Day. Actually, I found them on sale and bought three. I didn’t plant them right away and only one ended up surviving. The one that made it is a monster of a bush, it produces long spiney arms, with sharp, skinny thorns that reach out to stab those who dare approach it.

It has been in the ground for three years and has been producing raspberries for the last two.  Last year I very carefully covered it with netting so birds and other animals would not eat my precious, very first crop of berries, before I had a chance to harvest them. The netting is a pain to deal with, it gets caught on everything. This year I left it off to see what would happen. Nothing. The berries were there for me to collect day after day. I was surprised at first but then realized, as I was rubbing the scratches on my arms, it would be dangerous for any animal (including human) to attempt to pick these berries! You must proceed at your own risk.

I collected more than 10 cups of raspberries this year. It would have been more but a family of raspberry lovers were eating them while picking. This includes my two year old granddaughter who insisted each berry go into her mouth, not in the bowl.

edited eating raspberry pic

When I was a little girl I fondly remember going to my grandmother’s house in the summer and eating black berries off the bushes along her fence. I realize now that I planted a memory in my backyard. My children and grandchildren can come and eat of it for years to come.

edited raspberry pic

Do you pick berries with your grandkids?


My Best Summer Investment

Grandkids By August 28, 2015 Tags: , , No Comments

The weather was getting warmer and  I wanted to purchase a kiddie pool for my granddaughters. I was looking for something small and shallow, since they are both still little. My first thought was to get a small, hard plastic pool. You know, the blue ones that you shove in your trunk, bending it ever so slightly to make it fit or strap it to the top of your car. They only last one summer, they crack, don’t hold water anymore and you start again next year. That was fine with me, I planned to put it out for garbage pick-up, come September.

Off I went to the store with my youngest, who drove, because he has a larger trunk than I do. We walked the entire store trying to find the hard plastic kiddie pools. There was none to be found. What we did find were a variety of boxed blow up pools. I was hesitant, but my son assured me we could use the compressor at the house to blow it up. Since apparently I had no other choice, I selected a small one that measured 4 feet wide by 10 inches high and we left.


This turned out to be the best $10 purchase I have made in a long while. It was fairly easy to blow up (although it has 3 separate values – my gosh). I wasn’t too out of breath when I was done. There was no one around to work the compressor at the time! There is even a valve to blow up the floor of the pool making it nice and cushy. I turned the water hose on low and let her help me fill it. Playing with the water and the hose was part of the whole fun pool experience. I only filled it half way with water so when she sat down it went a little above her waist. She has played in the pool five times already. When she is not visiting grandma, it deflates and packs away. We have received hours of entertainment and lots of outdoor exercise for a few dollars. This was definitely a great idea and a worthwhile purchase. And …if it doesn’t make it – I will happily buy another one next year.

What type of kiddie pools do you recommend?


Me and Elmer Fudd

Grandpas Garden By August 28, 2015 Tags: , , 2 Comments

Back in May or early June, I saw the cutest thing, a bunny sitting in my yard. We see squirrels all the time and I know we have stealthy deer but I have only, on a rare occasion, seen a rabbit. I stood there watching it, smiling and sipping my coffee until suddenly it occurred to me…rabbit…garden….oh no!!!! I was hoping it was just a coincidence, that it was just hopping through my yard on its way to someplace else, like the beach to sun itself. But no, it had taken up residence in a pile of wood scraps my son had assembled at the back of the yard. Why?!! I am not in the woods or even the country. I don’t have a lot of trees or bushes and I live on a noisy street. But the story gets worse, there are two of them! I had visions of rabbits taking over my yard and eating everything green in their sight.

We discussed ways to remove them, humanely. I hoped every time we mowed the lawn that it had somehow scared them away. But they would either hide or return. The good news is that they didn’t seem to be bothering my garden. So, I just ignored them and let them be. Until today.

I have been trying to grow cucumbers for several years. Last summer, the deer came and mowed them down just as they were starting to show promise. This growing season I tried again and I have been able to harvest multiple cucumbers from the vines. But this morning, when I went out to collect a few, this is what I found.


My cucumbers had been nibbled on! This wasn’t a deer. Deer chomp the leaves and stems or just rip the whole plant out of the ground. They are not dainty. No, this was done by a rabbit!

You could hear me mumbling under my breath “that wascally wabbit”. I was stomping around the yard like Elmer Fudd, annoyed at the audacity of this furry creature. Had I been tricked? Had I been lured into a false sense of security?

No matter….because I am now digging out the black, bird netting, the baby powder, the dryer sheets and the coffee grounds (all off these are supposed to help deter animals from eating your garden) and forming an attack plan. We shall see who will outwit whom! That wascally wabbit!

Do you have varmints in your garden and how do you deal with them?


Pumped-up Oatmeal Cookies

Recipes By August 28, 2015 Tags: , , No Comments

My granddaughters are staying with us this weekend. In anticipation of their arrival, I decided to make some cookies. That is what grandma’s do, right? I wanted something healthy, but still tasty. I came up with these “pumped up” oatmeal cookies.

Using the Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Cookie recipe here , I added and subtracted a few things.

I wanted a variety of dried fruit to go along with the raisins, so I decided to add dried cranberries, dried blueberries and dried cranberries infused with cherry juice. I used a generous cup and a half of mixed dried fruit instead of a single cup of raisins. The dried cranberries I used were from Ocean Spray, but other kinds would work just as well. The dried blueberries came from Trader Joe’s. They also carry a berry mix that included strawberries, cherries and blueberries. I didn’t purchase it because I just wasn’t sure how the dried strawberries would taste. Maybe I’ll try it next time around.

To compensate for all the dried fruit, I reduced the sugar by ½ cup. I added more vanilla and cinnamon. You can never go wrong by adding more cinnamon. I buy it in bulk, so I always have plenty. Then I put in an extra cup of oatmeal (increasing it from 3 to 4 cups).

Here are the ingredients:

      • ½ cup ( 1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
      • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
      • ¼ cup granulated sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 2 tsp. vanilla
      • 1 ½ cups flour
      • 1 tsp. baking soda
      • 2 tsps. cinnamon
      • ½ tsp salt
      • 4 cups uncooked oatmeal (I used old fashioned oatmeal but you can also use quick cooking oats )
      • 1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit (dried cranberries, dried blueberries, cherry flavored cranberries, raisins)
      • Handful of chocolate chips
      • Heat oven 350 degrees

In large bowl, cream butter and sugars.   Add eggs and vanilla, stir well. Mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add oatmeal and mix well. Stir in dried fruit and chocolate chips.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until they are just turning golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

These cookies are delicious.