Wine Making!

Did you know that the Andersons make their own wine! Believe it, it’s true! Mostly we make our wines using wine kits. They’re really easy and can be found in any wine supply store or online. My favorite part of the process is coming up with the names and designing the labels. When our wine making started, it was supposed to be a hobby for Reed. But it has since progressed into something for us to do together and we have a pretty good time doing it. Neither of us will be hired as a sommelier any time soon, especially since we only like sweeter wines. But who cares! Hobbies are meant to be fun!

We don’t have a special room built for wine making, we just transform the kitchen into a production area whenever we need to. It works out great! It’s hard to go wrong with the wine kits as long as you sanitize everything.fullsizeoutput_3cffullsizeoutput_3cco1xeER8YSmq21gPFEYVUFwfullsizeoutput_3d2fullsizeoutput_3d4

We do however, have a small closet we transformed into a wine cellar. It’s not climate controlled, but it’s located right in the middle of the basement and maintains a very steady temp. It’s right next to our wet bar that we lovingly call The 55th Street Pub. We love it!

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Wine cellar in the basement closet.

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Here’s the Before shot of the closet.

We have made one batch of wine completely from scratch, but it was quite the task. You need a lot of grapes to get the appropriate amount of juice. Our friends, The Schmidts, happen to have some grapevines and were kind enough to let us harvest their haul. But like I said, you need a lot of grapes. So we ended up supplementing with a couple pounds of blueberries. We don’t have a juice press so to extract the juice from the fruits, Reed scooped them into a mesh bag and juiced them all by hand. That was not a quick task by any means.

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Hand juicing the grape/blueberry mash.

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In the end, we managed to get about 15 bottles and it didn’t taste too bad considering we accidentally double fermented it! And that is how our Schmidt Faced wine was born!

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Schmidt Faced!

I don’t know if we will ever make a from scratch wine again after all that, but it’s always a possibility! Wine making is a fun hobby and what’s even better is that we always have a gift on hand to bring for birthdays, holidays or housewarming!

I’d like to sign off this post with a beautiful poem about wine.

Roses are Red,

Wine is also Red,

Poems are Hard,

Wine!

Author Unknown

Thanks for reading!

 


Jayden Graduated!

Last month Jayden completed a pretty big milestone in his life. Our handsome young man graduated from high school! We could not be more proud of him and what he has accomplished. This fall he will be attending tech school as part of their network administrator program. GSCf5bT5QSq6tYHAc8D5%g+AU5fcDVTTeIybKjP9XrzwSjP8VF0bSSecLDEQ18DM4wfullsizeoutput_21afullsizeoutput_241AA0hs61WTRWW7ZMxMO5rjwGcy8E4DLRJuE2kPf8sWOjw

We threw a graduation party in his honor at our home, and me being the proud parent that I am, I went overboard as is my usual. 🙂 We had remodeled our garage a couple of years ago and turned it into an entertainment space. The color scheme we chose for the garage just happen to go really well with Jayden’s school colors. It turned out to be perfect!

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Since Jayden is going into a computer related field, not to mention that the kid is amazing at everything that has to do with computers, we decided to use a computer theme. A good friend of mine made Jayden’s micro chip cake and also did three different flavors of cupcakes each with its own computer themed topper such as a mouse, the CTRL ALT DEL keys and the power button. They all looked and tasted amazing! The cake topper is a custom bobble head which I ordered off Etsy and no party is complete without M&M’s customized with Jayden’s face! I had actually found a Groupon for the custom M&M’s and got a pretty good deal on them.fullsizeoutput_217Lt3R2scTQaOIQ1VjHUHcpgDTgM5JzAReSFWpuJTvMV+wUgndOOVaTDWOugn9yaS4TAdPNLX7SfTuyn4elWFi0KNgBo8ff1wRSn+b5DrlZZy1cAkO9nuBu4TSuQEyuDey74TgdTKL0flkR9m53z2I66pghAStmJJ27BTvmUrjalhNR1Twfullsizeoutput_212IMG_2255

In continuation with our computer theme, we decided to use our smart TV to display a slide show of pictures of Jayden throughout his life rather than have physical photos displayed. It didn’t take up any extra space and it was really easy to pull images onto a flash drive and plug it in. After I was done looking through pictures and reminiscing of course!

Since we live in South Dakota and you never know what the weather is going to do, we rented a tent and had it set up over the driveway to provide an area with extra seating and cover in case of rain or snow. The weather however, turned out to be perfect. It was an overcast day and it was neither too cold; nor too hot which we were extremely grateful for since the day before was windy, rainy and cold. We were so thankful for the weather that day and also all of our amazing friends and family that stopped by to wish Jayden well. We love and appreciated all of you!


Stay In. Unplug. Restore

Don’t have the budget for a big family vacation? No problem! What if I told you that you could have a fun family vacation right at home? Not possible you say? Well, I beg to differ. Ever heard of a staycation?

A staycation is a vacation you take at home or with minimal travel from your home. And it has many benefits such as financial savings, much needed R&R and quality family time. As impossible as it sounds, it can be done as long as you make preparations and set some ground rules beforehand.

Make Plans

If you’re kids are older, involve them in the planning process. Let them choose what activities they want to do and when they want to do them. If your family likes structure, create an itinerary together. If your family loves spontaneity, place all your activities in a hat and draw one out each day. Try new restaurants on staycation, or gather take out menus from all your favorite restaurants and have food delivered.  If eating out every day is not an option, plan a freezer meal day and put together some easy meals that everyone will love. You should also plan to prep your home ahead of time as well. Have a marathon laundry day and get the whole family to help clean.

Set Ground Rules

It’s important to also set some ground rules for your staycation and the entire family should be involved in its creation as well. Ground rules could include all or some of the following:

No screens (phones, tablets, tv)

No email

No working from home

No outside plans with friends

No independent activities

No laundry

No cooking

No fighting

Budget

Just like any vacation, you’ll need to plan a budget. Set money aside for your activities, eating out or splurge for a housekeeper to clean for you while you’re vacationing. You can set aside money ahead of time and plan your activities based on that amount or you can plan all your activities, then decide if you’ll be able to do them all or if you’ll have to remove some.

Fashion some Fun!

See a movie: Rent a movie to watch at home or go to the theater. Many theaters offer matinee prices if you go earlier in the day. Better yet, hit up the drive-in! Living on the Eastern side of South Dakota, we’re just a short drive into Minnesota to hit up the Verne Drive in.

Have a Movie Marathon: Let each family member select a movie. After each movie, talk about what they liked or didn’t like about it. Who was their favorite character and why? Get some fun popcorn boxes and the boxes of movie theater candy to make it feel like you’re really at the theater.

Go camping: Find a state park close to your area or just go camping in your own backyard. If you don’t own a tent, no worries! Build a blanket fort and sleep in that!

Take A Class: Many communities provide community education classes covering a variety of subjects. Some are free but most cost a minimal fee.

Explore your city: Research your city like a tourist. Look on Pinterest or visit your local chamber of commerce and pick up a free city guide.

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Try Curling!

 

20 Things to do in and around Sioux Falls:

  1. Go to a movie
  2. Visit the Science Museum
  3. Go to the Farmers Market
  4. Go to a sporting event ( baseball, arena football, basketball or hockey)
  5. Check out nearby State Parks
  6. Go kayaking
  7. Thunder Road
  8. Go brewery hopping
  9. Attend sangria Sunday or Thursday Night Porch Series at Strawbale Winery
  10. Attend the Sioux Empire Fair
  11. Go golfing
  12. Go to the zoo
  13. Attend movie night in the park
  14. Go skiing or tubing at Great Bear Ski Resort
  15. Go shopping downtown on Phillips Avenue
  16. Hit the bike trails
  17. Take a class through community education
  18. Go bowling
  19. Visit the Outdoor Campus
  20. Visit the Butterfly House and Marine Cove

 


Buy Local. Eat Local.

The smells of fresh-cut flowers and wood fire pizzas on a warm Saturday morning. Can life get any better than that? Yes it can. Because among the flowers and pizzas, you’ll find a cache of fresh local produce, fresh-baked goods, meats and cheeses. In my mind, the only thing missing that would make this picture complete is wine.

I must confess, my husband and I normally come down to the farmers market a couple of times a month just for the wood fire breakfast pizzas. They’re delicious. Made with fresh ingredients and a very light thin crust. We’d grab two to go and a couple of coffees, then head across the way to have a picnic and just enjoy each other’s company in the peaceful setting that is falls park.

This time however, we decided to explore the market a little deeper and put together an entire meal made with only locally grown/sourced food. After walking up and down the market several times, we finally decided on walleye, chard, carrots, corn salsa and rhubarb. On the way home we stopped and picked up some locally made beer and locally made ice cream to finish off our meal.

In a world where you have to buy special cleaning solutions to clean all the chemicals off your grocery store produce, it’s in your best interest to visit your local farmers market and buy directly from the source. Also there’s just something genuinely satisfying about supporting your local farmers and knowing exactly where your food came from. Having grown up in a small farming community, I know firsthand how important they are to their local economies. So get out there and support your local farmers and ranchers!

Needless to say our meal was completely amazing and we can’t wait to do it again. Our completed meal was as follows: grilled Cajun walleye with corn salsa, grilled carrots with farm honey and creamed chard followed by rhubarb pie topped with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Needless to say, it was amazing! We had never had chard before, but it was excellent and I recommend you try it. Enjoy the pictures below from our day!

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Falls Park Farmers Market

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Pickle Sized Cucumbers!

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Fresh Lettuce

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Who loves asparagus with hollandaise?

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Fresh Strawberries!

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More Leafy Greens

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Never was a radish fan, but they looked pretty.

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Homemade preserves and salsas.

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My favorite vendor! Skipping Stone Pizza!

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Best breakfast pizza ever!

 

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The nectar of the gods!

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Our final product.

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Rhubarb pie made with my grandmothers pie crust recipe and some Stensland vanilla ice cream.

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A beautiful bouquet for the table.

 


Oh, Christmas Tree!

This year our Christmas tree was extra special. It was the first year that we cut down our own. What makes it even more special is that we cut it from our own back yard! Wait what? Yes, we got our Christmas tree from our back yard.

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The truth is, the tree was in a terrible location. It wouldn’t have been a problem, but a couple of years ago we put fence around our property, which rubbed right up against our tree. The bigger the tree gets, the more it pushes against the fence. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t we just have the tree relocated? Well, for the simple reason that the fiber optic cable and internet lines run very close to where the tree was planted and there was no way to remove it without causing thousands of dollars in damage and repairs.

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So the three of us made the decision to give our tree a grand farewell and show it all the holiday love we could. Jayden helped me cut it down, then we decorated it with ornaments we’ve been collecting since his first Christmas. He went through a Scooby Doo phase, a Star Wars phase and one year even chose the Beatles Yellow Submarine. Needless to say, it turned out pretty amazing and smells pretty good too!

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I’ve always loved Christmas lights! Growing up, I always had my own set of lights to hang up in my room. There’s something very magical about the glow of Christmas lights, especially when it’s the only light in the room! We love our little tree, and will enjoy every moment of this Christmas season. Then once spring comes, we’ll give our tree one final goodbye when we get together with our friends for the first neighborhood bonfire of the year.

For now, I need to find a way to keep the dogs from drinking all the water from the tree stand!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

 


Thankful, Grateful, Happy

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” Henry David Thoreau

The picture above is from my dining room. In the frames, you’ll find all the turkeys my son made in elementary school; each one completely different from the previous years. I keep them behind our framed menus so that every November I can flip them out and display them. My favorite is the “Darth Vader Turkey” that we made together. The assignment was to create a disguise for the turkey so he wouldn’t be eaten for Thanksgiving! It was a lot of fun!

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Jayden holding our Darth Vader disguised turkey!

When Jayden was creating these turkeys, he wasn’t worried about making his turkey perfect. He wasn’t thinking about making his turkey better than his classmates. He was just happy to be making the turkey. I am thankful for many things this year, but mostly I’m thankful for my son and the person he has grown to be.

My son knows what he wants and what he likes. He doesn’t feel the need to do certain things because everyone else is doing them. He is a unique individual and lives his life in that manner; he doesn’t let insignificant things bother him or get him down. As a parent, you teach your children to be good people and to be themselves and when it’s time for them to live on their own; you hope like hell that something stuck with them. I don’t have that worry and I’m very thankful for that.

I feel that Jayden can teach us all valuable lessons about life.

  • Stop chasing perfection. No one is perfect. And no one expects you to be perfect. Stop stressing about little details that only you will notice. It doesn’t matter in the long run.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison is a death sentence for your joy and happiness. It doesn’t matter what other people have or what they do. Focus on your goals, on yourself and success will follow.
  • Do what makes you happy. Even if it’s not what everyone else is doing.

I’d like to wish everyone a fantastic Thanksgiving this year. Cherish the time you spend with family and do what makes you happy!

 


Tuna Noodle Picnics and Blanket Forts

We got our first little bit of snow today. It wasn’t much, just barely enough to make the ground white before it started to disappear. It’s this time of year that makes me think about all the indoor activities we love that keep us warm and cozy. Although curling up in front of the fire with a bowl of hot soup always sounds amazing, there are other activities that are just as cozy and fun!

Our son Jaydens’ favorite meal is tuna and noodles. Which is really surprising considering he’s the pickiest eater in the world! It’s probably the worst meal you can make. We make ours with bow tie noodles, a can of cream of celery soup, a can of tuna and a little milk. That’s it! But for some reason he loves it! Unfortunately though, his dad hates it so we only made it when he was working a late shift. It  became a fun tradition for the two of us and to make it even more special; we turned it into a weekly picnic.

We’d spread a large beach towel on the floor and pour two glasses of milk. Then, with our plates nearly overflowing with tuna and noodles, we’d sit down on the floor and feast. Sometimes Jayden would tell me about his day, other times he’d turn on his favorite show and tell me all about the characters in it.

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Thick wool socks makes your tuna noodle picnic even cozier!

Another of Jayden’s favorite childhood adventures was building blanket forts. He’d become pretty skilled at them and built them with multiple rooms and levels. He loved having us visit him in his blanket forts. He usually had a working door that we’d have to knock on and he’d show us around. His favorite fort was the one we built on the deck. We put an air mattress in it and slept in it overnight like a tent. It was a lot of fun!Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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Even though our son has outgrown building blankets forts, he will still talk and reminisce about some of the more elaborate ones that we’ve built especially the one we built on the deck. Those memories are well ingrained into his mind. Also, we no longer sit on the floor and eat tuna and noodles, but it’s still his favorite meal, which he now knows how to make himself! Every once in a while, he does ask to have a picnic again and that’s a big deal for me since he’s now 17 and doesn’t spend as much time with us as he used to. Hearing him talk about things we did when he was a child makes me sad because he’s no longer my little boy, but also excited because he now has traditions that he can continue when he starts his own family.

What an adventure that will be!


A Year of Home Adventures!

We are a busy family. We both have full time jobs. Our son has an after school job. We own a home. We have 3 dogs and a cat. As much as we’d love to travel full time, it’s not in the cards for us right now. So, to pass the time between our bigger adventures, we like to come up with little adventures that we can have without ever leaving home.

Ever been on your way to work and heard the radio DJ talking about how today is French Fry Day? What? Seriously? There’s a day for that? Yes there is. In fact, there’s a day for just about everything. If you Google ‘silly holidays’, you can find websites that have calendars dedicated to all the silly, weird holidays for the year.

About 5 years ago, my son and I decided to look through those calendars and pick one day to celebrate each month. Now, my son loves to eat, so the majority of  holidays that were picked by him revolved around food!

Here is the list of silly holidays we celebrated that year:

January 19th: National Popcorn Day

February 20th: National Cherry Pie Day

March 14th: National Pi Day (get it? 3.14…….Nerd Alert!)

April 26th: National Pretzel Day

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We made homemade soft pretzels for pretzel day.

 

May 4th: Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with You!…..Double nerd alert!)

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May the Fourth be with You!

 

June 29th: Pinhole Camera Day (Our only non-food day!)

July 21st: National Ice Cream Day

August 10th: National S’mores Day

September 18th: National Cheeseburger Day

October 14th: National Dessert Day

November 3rd: Sandwich Day

December 18th: Bake Cookies Day

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It’s hard to tell, but we do have flour on our noses for Bake Cookies Day.

Each month, we’d plan what we were going to do for our chosen silly holiday and then celebrate it! We always took a picture to commemorate our day and shared it on Instagram. This year my son asked if we could do the silly holidays again and I of course said yes! Follow us on Instagram to see what holidays we chose and how we celebrate them each month!

We’d also love to see your silly holiday celebrations. Post your pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #sillyholidays.