Hi there. Mama here.
So here I am, relaxing in my living room, feeling pretty good about all I've accomplished today...but then there's this nagging feeling like something's not right, like I'm forgetting something, but what? ... ... ... Ah! I was supposed to make a potholder for Week 5 of my "30 Weeks" series and I've only got three hours before the midnight deadline! 

Now I have to either pull myself together and make that darn potholder or finish my lazy evening and endure the icky feeling of being a total slacker, thus causing me to fall behind and leak over into time already slotted for Week 6. The thing that makes this decision so difficult is that I knew this wouldn't just be a quick cut-and-sew project because my goal was to make a potholder with pockets. So I can't just make a regular square or quilted or even just a flat, heart-shaped potholder, no sirree. It has to have pocketses, Precious! 

So what am I going to do? Well, if you know me at all (and if you can see the potholder at the top of this post), it should be fairly easy for you to guess what I've decided: it's POTHOLDER TIME!

[3 hours later]

Done! You can click "Read More" below to see the full photo tutorial. The pictures are dark and shadowy because I was doing this at night and most of the time I try to avoid using the flash at all costs. But flashy or not, making the tutorial took a whole lot of time and energy. And you know what? I've realized something: 

I do not like making photo tutorials.

There. I said it.

In real life, I am a really good teacher. But this photo tutorial thing is really time-consuming for me because naturally I'm more of a writer than a photographer, and I become really long-winded when I try to write out all the steps I took to do something. I honestly think the tutorials I find and use do a better job of explaining the steps than I do, so this might be the last time I chronicle my goals with a myriad of step-by-step photos and complicated explanations. I hope you're not too crushed. ;)

For Week 6, I'm going to learn "When Irish Eyes Are Smilin'" on my son's harmonica (granted, that's if I can find it in the toy-laden abyss that we lovingly call his room). Yes, you read that right. I'm not sure if I'll post a picture of myself playing it and you'll just have to take my word for it, or if I'll be brave and post a video, but either way, this is happening. 

Do you have any harmonica-playing tips? Or are you brave enough to make your own pocketed potholder? If so, leave a comment below with advice or a link to your finished piece--I'd love to hear from you!

-- Mama

This post is #5/30 in my "30 Goals In 30 Weeks" series. I'm working on one goal a week for the 30 weeks leading up to my 30th birthday. Join me by setting goals of your own! You don't need to have a special theme or specific time frame in mind, just choose something simple that you think will make you happy, and go for it!

 
Hi there! Mama here.
You want to know the truth? Based on my track record with goal-setting, I really thought I'd be behind in my "30 Weeks" goals by now, but here I am, finished with week 4!

For this week's goal, I wanted to make homemade baby food for my 5-month-old. For both cheapness and goodness sake I make most of the food in my home from scratch--bread, pizza, biscuits, teething biscuits, smoothies, bran muffins, Goldfish, granola, Oreos--so why I never tried to make homemade baby food before now, I'll never know...because seriously, it is so easy. 

I found a recipe in my acquired-last-summer-but-didn't-get-around-to-reading-it-until-now copy of Start Fresh by Tyler Florence, famous chef and father of three. Basic recipes with minimal ingredients and simple instructions make this book super easy to use, even for the most  inexperienced cook (I mean come on, can you really call steaming a vegetable and then mashing it up a recipe?). 

For my baby, I decided to start with sweet potatoes mixed with golden potatoes. If you want to see what I did (and also see some seriously cute baby pics), follow the "Read More" link below!

 
Hi there! Mama here. 
Don't they look pretty?

Well, I finally finished loading all of the pictures for this post and phew! Talk about visual overload! I went a little overboard, but I feel like it was necessary. You see, this was my first time canning, and even though it's a fairly straightforward process, I think it's definitely something you need to see done once by someone who knows what they're doing. Thus, the insane amount of pictures.

So here's the story: It all started out with our annual summer pilgrimage to my best friend's family homestead in Rockford, Michigan. I was talking about my "30 Goals In 30 Weeks" blog series, and when I mentioned that one of my goals was to can something, what started out as a typical visit ended in an afternoon making delicious homemade pickles! 

It was a happy coincidence that I got the opportunity to complete my first "30 Weeks" goal with my best friend Tiffany, with expert advice from her mother Connie of Grand Shire Farm. Connie is a Master Gardener who sells herbal soup and dip mixes at Fulton Street Farmers Market, the oldest and largest farmers market in Grand Rapids. She was at the market bright and early Friday morning, and when she heard I'd never canned, she loaded up her trunk with fresh pickling cucumbers from the market so that we could can and pickle them!
I'll show you our process below, but if you're going to try this one yourself I highly recommend working with someone who's done it before! Never having canned, I had no idea all that went into it when I'd made it one of my 30 goals. You need a large pot called a "canner" with a special rack insert to hold the canning jars (you can get one for anywhere from $20-$70 on Amazon or at your local all-in-one store), a few tools to make the process easier, and then of course the pickles and seasonings to make the pickling solution that you pour in around the pickling cucumbers. 

We made two kinds of pickles in one canning session (bonus!): Sweet Bread and Butter Pickles and Dill Pickles. So consider yourself warned: This is a ridiculously long, photo-jammed tutorial!