Tag Archives: homemade

Ok get out your box of Kleenex…….

Two years ago my husband and I were driving to Grand Forks, North Dakota for a Fighting Sioux  University of North Dakota hockey game. I was almost 6 months pregnant at the time and looking forward to an exhilarating Valentine’s Day weekend with friends. I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed on the long, weary drive across the state of North Dakota, when I suddenly burst into tears. These weren’t tears of sadness, but more so tears from a place of love and happiness. 

There on my Facebook newsfeed was a photo of my grandparents, Catherine & Odie West. They were being honored for Valentine’s Day as the King and Queen of the Valentine’s Day Party at the nursing home where they resided. Now the tears didn’t come from just that distinct honor, but from my Grandpa’s response when asked what he was going to get my Grandma for Valentine’s Day.

His response:

“Oh I will just go up on the ranch and pick her some wild flowers” as he had always done for his sweetheart for the past 66 years it read. At this point my Grandpa’s Parkinson’s had taken most of his mobility leaving this task, be it an impossible one. I know he would have done just that if he could of at the time. 

My grandparents were a true love story, 66 years in the making at the time.  They raised 5 children and built a beautiful ranch and farm north of Pierre, South Dakota. My Grandma once wrote, “Ours is a life story of two people who together with determination, hard work and play filled their lives with love and memories.” And they did just that, they built a wonderful life that was overflowing with love and memories. 

This year will be my Grandma’s first Valentine’s Day without her sweetheart by her side. My Grandpa Odie passed away this fall. They were married for almost 68 years.

One of my favorite memories with my Grandma when I was little were the small pieces of fudge that my Grandma would wrap up and place underneath a small Christmas tree. One year, when we still lived in New York, she gave me a few small presents from under the tree and told me that I couldn’t open them until I got on the airplane. I loved waiting to open the delicate wrapped fudge pieces and enjoying them on my trip home. 

This year I will be remembering what my Grandpa said. Make sure to show those around you how much you care, even if it’s a simple bouquet of wild flowers, a small surprise of fudge, or even a phone call, it’s the thought that counts.

Here is a simple recipe for homemade fudge for you to enjoy with those that you love this year on Valentine’s Day. Cherish those that you love this year on Valentine’s Day. If it’s not a sweetheart, maybe it’s a good friend, or a family member that you love dearly. Love is a powerful bond.

To read more about my Grandpa Odie’s amazing life, check out this article here


Homemade Fudge with Walnuts

2 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
4 T. unsalted butter
1 5 oz. can evaporated milk
1 jar of marshmallow fluff
1 t. vanilla
1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Grease a 9 inch square baking pan, set aside. In a large saucepan combine sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk, and marshmallow fluff. Stir over low heat until blended. Increase heat to medium and bring to a full following boil. Boil slowly, stirring for 5 minutes until fudge reaches soft ball test consistency (234-241 degrees on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and chocolate chips until melted. Add nuts. Pour into greased pan and cool. Cut and enjoy!


{Spicy} Homemade Salsa


The definition of spicy equates to flavored with or fragrant with spice. Isn’t there just a ton of spice in life everyday? Throughout our lives we can have pretty bland, boring days sometimes, but other times the day can be packed full of colorful, lively, exciting events that make the day seem “spicy” in a way. 

Lately I have begun to notice how I react to those hot, pungent moments in life and how it affects my mood. I see others around me and the amount of strength and courage that they put forth as they encounter immense struggles. I find that understanding the struggles of others has helped me to grasp the sheer power of how your mindset affects your attitude and ability to push forward in life. 

Life can really toss your some crazy curveballs, but having a positive outlook during those times of struggle can totally change the whole ballgame. 

This salsa recipe mimics that mentality. You can add just as much heat as you want, the more heat you add, the spicier it gets. It’s all about how much you put forth. If you put forth a positive attitude, you will get more out of life. If you don’t put in the time, effort, or power, your life may just be a little more bland. And if you walk around with a negative attitude and your head hung low, your life with carry that same persona. 

This recipe is the perfect combination of all your favorite garden produce and it can be savored all year long with the right canning process. So stay positive, add some spice to your life, and make the salsa….you won’t be disappointed. 


Homemade Salsa

12 c. tomatoes, diced, not peeled
2 c. onions, diced
1 c. green pepper
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded or unseeded
1 6 oz. tomato paste

1/3 c. vinegar
1/2. t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. salt
1/2 t. basil leaves
1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. garlic powder


Put tomatoes in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a slow boil for 1 hour. Add seasonings and simmer at a low boil for 1/2 hour. Add onions and peppers and simmer for 15 minutes, add tomato paste and simmer for 15 minutes more. Process for 15 minutes in hot water bath. 











The school year is in full swing and I have been MIA for sure! My work as a school counselor commenced again for the 5th year. This time of year has always been close to my heart. How can you not love brand new school supplies, new clothes, and smiling faces as students embark on the next year of school? Paired with the cool, crisp fall temps, apples, pumpkin spice, fall colors, leaves, and Halloween just around the corner, I couldn’t ask for anything more amazing. 

This recipe for apple juice embodies all of those exceptional elements of fall. Every aspect of making this recipe is a labor of love that can be savored all year long with your family. This recipe blends so perfectly with the classic story of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. This story is a simple tale of a boy and an apple tree. The book shares the true meaning of giving and how happiness is derived from the act of giving to others. The importance of helping others without expecting anything in return is the true life lesson to pick from the depths of these pages. 

I found a giving tree of my own that offered up gorgeous, red crisp apples for this delectable apple juice recipe. Kindness has a large part to play in this recipe because I do not have any apple trees of my own, so I always seek out apples from friends and family. This apple juice is super refreshing and I think it would make a great weekend outing for any family with an apple orchard nearby or a nice friend with an abundant apple tree!

Share this classic story with your family and discuss the importance of giving. The illustrations and deeper meaning will help inspire gratitude all around. While your at it, I hope you enjoy the homemade apple juice for many months to come because winter is coming!

Homemade Apple Juice

5 gallons of apples, sliced 
4 c. sugar
5 T. cream of tarter
10 quarts of water

Cut the apples into 8th’s to fill a 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full (I fill it almost to the top). Boil the water and sugar. Add the cream of tarter to the boiling water. Pour the hot mixture into the apple bucket and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 24 hours and strain off the juice. Re-heat apple juice and put into 1 quart jars and hot water can for 10 minutes in boiling water. 

YIELDS: 10 quarts


applejuice6 applejuice5