Memories... Like Mom Made!

Memories... Like Mom Made!
Out of dark moments, flowers grow.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Benefit Auction for a Family in Need

On Saturday, June 9, 2012, my father Richard Teubner, mother Edie Teubner, and grandparents 96 year old Glen "Ahda" Harding, and 86 year old Mary "Nana" Harding, were driving to Kansas City when a pick up truck heading the opposite direction pulled in front of them. My Dad tried to stop their van but couldn't and they collided head on on into the truck. They all suffered severe injuries. Richard's left arm was broken, and his right ankle was shattered and after an initial 4 hour surgery to fix it, he was transferred to a better equipped hospital and will require further surgeries. Mary's wrist was broken and will require surgery. She also suffered fractures to her spine and damage to her knee, along with severe cuts to her face. Edie was thrown into the windshield and suffered some severe facial cuts and will require plastic surgery. She lost a lot of blood and had to receive two units of blood. Glen received the greatest injuries: two broken legs and a broken cheek bone. He is currently awaiting surgery to repair his left leg. Though most 96 year old would be devastated by these injuries, Glen is keeping his spirits high by telling jokes and old basketball stories - just like he always does!

Thankfully it seems that everyone will be okay and no injuries are life threatening, but they all have a long road ahead of them. The real battle will begin when they are released from the hospital, as these four individuals rely on each other as their support and care network. I am going to be moving home to help them on the road to recovery, but with two small children of my own, and now four injured adults to care for, I will need a lot of help, support, and understanding.

To help them with their recovery when they return home, they will need things like cleaning and laundry service, groceries, and gas to transport them to and from therapy and doctor appointments, along with many unforeseen expenses that won't be covered by insurance.

A wonderful woman at Stitches N Hooks has arrange a benefit auction to raise money for these things. If you would like to help, feel free to browse the auction and find something you would like. All proceeds go to help with the things mentioned above.

Go HERE to see the auction items.
Go HERE to check out Stitches N Hooks on Facebook.

Thank you.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Refrigerator Pickles

My husband loves pickles.

I mean he LOVES pickles.

When I was pregnant with Leila, I went to the store once and ended up buying 3 jars of pickles... I couldn't decide which kind I was craving so I bought 3 different kinds...

I thought I was bad.

My husband goes through about 3 jars of pickles A WEEK!

So naturally when we were at the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago, he bought a bunch of nice big cucumbers and asked me to make him homemade pickles. Of course I said yes.

And then I went to work to find a recipe that I could make without having to go through the process of canning.

I finally found a recipe I liked on McCormick's website. I tweaked it a bit to fit our tastes and what we had on hand, but ultimately it turned out beautifully and I couldn't be happier with the end result: a crunchy, crisp, delicious pickle with just the right amount of sour and sweet!

I made four variations that I will tell you how to make: dill spears, zesty dill spears, bread and butter chips, and garlic dill "chunks".

First you need to select your cucumbers. I ended up with about 5 or 6 nice sized pickling cucumbers. The color was a medium green - not the super dark green of the standard store bought cucumbers, but not the creamy pale color of some market cucumbers. I went for something in between. I also made sure to select cucumbers free of any blemishes or bruises. You want nice, fresh, crisp cucumbers. The fresher the cucumber, the crisper the pickle.

And no one likes a mushy pickle.

To prepare the cucumbers for pickling, slice the ends off of each cuke. You dont need to take much off, just enough to remove the stem.

Then slice the cucumber however you prefer. I ended up with 4 jars - 1 quart size jar of spears, 1 pint size jar of spears, 1 pint size jar of bread and butter chips, and a half pint size jar of the leftover chunks from what I cut off of the spears to make them fit in the pint size jar.

For the spears I simply cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 pieces. You would naturally think it would be two or four, but after much deliberation I determined 3 to be the perfect size for the spears.

For the bread and butter chips I used my Pampered Chef Mandoline Slicer. I used the blade that makes krinkle cuts... I LOVE that blade... It is perfect for making Microwave Potato Chips, cutting veggies in an exciting shape for kids, or for preparing your pickles like I did. It makes them the absolute perfect thickness.

After you have prepared your cucumbers, toss them in a bowl and sprinkle with turmeric. I used about a teaspoon per bowl. Then cover the cucumbers with the hottest tap water you can get. You can boil the water and do it that way, but I like immediate gratification, so I went with super hot tap water.

Let them sit until the water has completely cooled off, and then let it sit longer... about 2 hours. Drain them completely then rinse with cold water and drain again. Repeat this rinsing and draining a couple of times.

In the bottom of 3-4 sterilized pint size mason jars, sprinkle mustard seed, dill weed, and other herbs to your preference. I ended up with the following:

Dill Spears: 1 tbsp dried dill weed, 1 tbsp mustard seed (whole)
Zesty Dill spears: 1 tbsp dried dill weed, 1-2 tsp mustard seed (whole), 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Garlic Dill chunks: 1 tbsp dried dill weed, 1-2 tsp mustard seed (whole), 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1 teaspoon McCormick's pickling spice
Bread and Butter Chips: 1 tsp McCormick's pickling spice, 1 tbsp mustard seed (whole)

Then pack your prepared cucumbers into the jars. I jammed mine in there nice and tight. It was like a puzzle trying to get all the spears to fit in there! For the pint size jar of spears, I used one as a guide for how tall they could be and cut the rest accordingly. Then I tossed the little chunks into a half pint jar and made those into my Garlic Dill chunks.

The bread and butter chips have a pickling solution that contains more sugar. This is what gives it the sweet and sour bite. The dill pickles have less sugar so the vinegar shines through and gives it a sharper bite. I started out with the same solution for all four jars, the dill solution, then I poured the mixture into the three dill jars and returned the remainder to the stove with some more sugar. You can do it that way, or you can use two different pots.

FOR DILL: Bring 3 1/2 cups white vinegar to a boil. Stir in 2 tablespoons white sugar and 2 tablespoons salt. I used iodized sea salt (I think I am in love!).

Once the sugar and salt has completely dissolved, pour into the jars, leaving about 1/4 inch head space. This is what the "official instructions said, but to be honest, I just poured mine up to the bottom of where the threads start. It worked out perfectly between all four jars. You can always go back and distribute leftovers at the end.

FOR BREAD AND BUTTER: Place 2 cups each of white vinegar and white sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes, stirring to ensure that all the sugar is completely dissolved.

Remove from heat and pour into the prepared jars.

Let the pickles stand in their jars, uncovered, until cooled to room temperature. Then screw on the lids and refrigerate. You will have to check them every couple of days and shake them to distribute all the yummy seasonings. I tried one of my pickles right away and it was already "pickle-y" and delicious!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Rainbow of Hope: Lorelei Marie Decker

17 months ago I went through something no parent should ever have to go through: my baby girl took her last breaths in my arms.

The months that followed were bleak. Some days I didn't even want to get out of bed, but with the support of a loving husband and incredible son, I was able to put the pieces back together.

Then on July 15, the day before what would have been Leila's six month birthday, I got a positive pregnancy test. I took several more... staring at the line get darker and darker... My heart swelled and broke at the same time.

Leila was going to be a big sister, but she wouldn't get to partake in all the wonderful things a big sister should do. There were a million negative things I could focus on...

But instead I chose to focus on the positive in front of me. The very literal positive, staring up at me, telling me that Donovan and I were getting our Rainbow after the storm.

My pregnancy was not easy: as those of you who followed my story know, I had many ups and downs, including a 5 week stay in the hospital, later a false alarm that put me back in the hospital for 3 days, horrible all day sickness, not to mention surgery at 13 weeks, a cross country trip at 15 weeks, a deployed husband, and an active toddler to look after.

The odds were stacked against me for sure, but my entire pregnancy I felt a sort of presence. A feeling deep inside that told me everything would be okay.

And wouldn't you know? It was.

Absolutely perfect.

On March 5, 2012, at 9:51am, I saw my beautiful Lorelei for the first time. I can't even describe to you how perfect she was/is. The held her up to me, pulled down the curtain so I could take a peek, and there she was. Chubby cheeks, thick black hair, and eyes wide open. She didn't cry. She just took everything in.

She has been like that since. She very rarely cries. She is too busy observing her environment. She loves when I make faces at her, when he brother sings her some remixed nursery songs (did you know that "Rock-a-bye Baby" has a hot dog in it?), and even when the cats come over to check her out.

She is the happiest baby I have ever met. And I love her with all of my heart.

I can't help but realize that Lorelei is here because her sister is not. Had Leila lived, we would not have even considered getting pregnant so soon. We would have been focused on the vast health issues we would have to overcome together. Or had she waited until her due date (mid May) to be born, it would have been for too early to even attempt to get pregnant. Lorelei is here for a reason. Of that, I am sure.

I won't deny that I think it is unfair. Unfair that one baby has to leave this Earth in order for another to be created... at least in our case. But I have come to a point where I can't question the plan anymore. I have to live it. I have to let something bigger than me guide me.

Because if I stop long enough to question it, I probably won't like the answer. Or even understand it.

But I know there has to be a plan. I look at Lorelei and I know. We are here for a reason.

And I can't wait to find out what that reason is.