Friday, August 26, 2011

Project Peach, Canning Yumminess

We're clinging to spontaneous summer fun before our fall routine is in full swing with schedules.

After a week of enjoying Trader Joe's peaches, we decided to check out our local farm for our Project Peach, affectionately nicknamed "PP" by the boys...with ongoing outbursts of giggles - apparently potty humor never gets old!

Project Peach. From start to finish. Our version of the Sciene Channel's 'How It's Made'.

We started at the farm. It was so much fun watching them pick the peaches and running through the orchards.

We decided to make peach preserves. This is more than enough peaches for the recipe. I was told O'Henry are the best for canning.

This was my first time canning. So I'm not an expert. I'd like to think of myself as an enthusiast. So we enthusiastically worked through the recipe together...what a HUGE mess!

...but they were happy...and it was surprisingly manageable for a kid project.

Honestly, we were thinking of it more as an experiment!

No one was more surprised than I was that it was edible. And not just edible, but delicious. Spread on toast for this morning's breakfast. And again on toast for an afternoon snack.

The rest are on a shelf and ready for Holiday gifts. If they make it that long!

I'm pretty sure the consistency isn't close to what it should be...but I don't think it matters. The flavor is a-mazing.

If you're a new canner, looking for a fun activity for the kiddos, or needing to get through your peaches before they spoil, here's an easy recipe. It's from and submitted by a guy named Kevin. Nice name, right? I was certain he knew a thing or two about peach preserves. Plus he received 4 1/2 stars!

Peach Preserves
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Ready In: 2 hrs
Servings: 64 (translates to 10 small mason jars)

12 fresh peaches, pitted and chopped (I used O'Henry)
4 1/2 cups white sugar (ugh!...but sure was tasty!)
1 (2 ounce) package dry pectin

1. Crush 1 cup chopped peaches in the bottom of a large saucepan. Add remaining peaches, and set pan over medium-low heat. Bring to a low boil, and cook for about 20 minutes or until peaches become mostly liquid with bits of peaches.
2, Pour peaches into a bowl, and then measure 6 cups back into the pan. Add sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Gradually stir in dry pectin and boil for 1 minute.
3. Remove from heat after 1 minute and transfer to sterilized jars. process in hot water bath canner for 10 minutes, Let cool and place on a shelf.

Have any recipes you want to share? I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Baby's Diagnosis - A Mother's Journey

I met Meredith a few years back. I loved her instantly. She's one of those women that truly radiates and doesn't even realize it. Our kids are the same age and we would laughingly commiserate over potty training, nap schedules, nutrition...while we fed our vices on our girl's night out evenings, giggly over juicy girl talk. To be honest, I found the toddler years to be overwhelming. But mine was a minor adjustment compared to a lifetime's adjustment. Meredith's entry in motherhood makes me realize the strength of a mother.

Meet Meredith. Like many of you, she's definitely a She-ro. Here's her story.

Please share with us how Callen was diagnosed:
Callen was born at Skyridge Hospital, which was participating in the TEDDY (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in Youth) study. I gave the study permission to take some of the newborn heel stick blood sample to determine if Cal had some of the genetic markers. At ten weeks, they called to tell me that he did have the gene/series of genes that made him high risk, but that meant only a 3 - 4% chance of developing diabetes in his lifetime. We decided to participate in the study further, going into the Barbara Davis Center (at Children's Hospital) every 3 months. I was 9 months pregnant with Johnny when they called to tell me that Callen's blood sample showed the presence of two antibodies, an indicator that diabetes was present. Since it's an auto-immune disease, these antibodies attack the islet cells, which produce insulin. The study was around only a few years, so they could not tell me if the diagnosis would come in a matter of month or years. About six weeks later, with a newborn in tow, we went to the BDC for the study's regular 3 month check-up. They tested his A1C (a three month blood sugar average) and it was already in the diabetic range. The doctors came in and told us to begin testing blood glucose level twice each day (before eating in the morning and two hours after breakfast) and to call if it was above 250. They said "It won't happen over night", but sure enough, that night his bg was a 300 after dinner. We took him back in for the "Diabetes Boot Camp" the next day and he has been on insulin ever since. That was July 14, 2008.

What was your initial reaction?
Well initially, you're going through training and kick into mom mode, like "I've got this." But then we took our training home and learned quickly that it's not as formulaic as you think. Managing the highs and lows, the honeymoon period and activity, etc. is different from child to child and it's a lot of trial and error. I began to
go through a grieving period, mourning the loss of what I thought our lives would be, if that makes sense. I was angry when people asked me if he would outgrow it, or asked if I gave him too much sugar as a baby. I was saddened that my son would have to go through life being poked, dosed, not feeling well, and constantly monitored. And selfishly, I was sad for my husband and me. It was stress on our relationship and there was a point where I thought we would never again leave the house together. After about six months came the acceptance.

What were some of the challenges you faced?
At diagnosis, Callen was tested for and ultimately came up positive for Celiac disease. This is pretty common in diabetics, as the two auto-immune diseases share some genetic components. When he was still eating gluten, he frequently went low and we didn't understand why. When we changed his diet, he began absorbing food and truly showing those high numbers. The highs were very difficult for us, and there were weeks where we called the doctor 2 - 3 times to adjust dosage. I'm the type of person that would like everything to be black and white, but we had to learn to go with the flow.

When did you realize that you were going to be able to handle this?
During the first few months, Matt and I would often get upset or cry when having to finger poke Cal, or give him shots. We would get so frustrated when we couldn't get the blood on the stick to test him, and apologize profusely that we had to test him again. He would look at us like - "What's wrong with you guys?" and go on about his business. He would never give us a hard time with testing, and soon, would see us coming with the meter and just point out his finger. We knew that having him diagnosed so early was a blessing - he would never know a life without diabetes. Kids are so incredibly resilient and when he didn't make it a big deal, we started to relax and adopt the "new normal." Even today, when kids ask why Cal gets tested, or what his pump is for, he says matter-of-factly, "I have diabetes."

Callen's Wolf Pack

And this year you started your own non-profit?
Yes! This year, we started our own non-profit - Callen's Wolfpack. The first fundraiser was held in July and was a Cocktail Bowling event at Lucky Strike. We had about 85 people and raised $6,000 through tickets and a silent auction, all of which will go directly to our JDRF walk team. I am currently meeting with some other organizations to determine where else Callen's Wolfpack, Inc can help. I'm focusing on providing supplies to those parents/kiddos that have no or inadequate insurance coverage.

This year, the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) has a goal to raise $89M through its annual walk, $953K of which will come from Denver (where we live), and hopefully $8 - $10k of which will come from Callen's Wolfpack.
If you'd like to get involved, donate, join a team, or find out more, you can reach Meredith and Callen's Wolf Pack at:

Callen's Wolf Pack will be participating in the annual JDRF Walk in Denver on September 11th.  The walk begins at 9 a.m. at the Pepsi Center and both breakfast treats and lunch are provided.  If you aren't in Denver, the JDRF hosts many fundraisers/walks, to learn more go to to see if they're coming to a city near you.

One more question! What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about Type 1 diabetes?

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about Type 1 diabetes because so many people live with Type 2.
* There is no cure for T1 diabetes - there is no diet change, or supplement that will make it go away. The only way to live with T1 diabetes is dependence on insulin.
* No one with T1 diabetes has or ever will "outgrow" it.

* They have yet
 to determine what environmental factors make some kids develop it while others don't.

Thanks Meredith. Good luck to Callen's Wolf Pack! We'll be cheering you on!

If you have any questions, concerns, tips...please feel free to share.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ooh-la-la! Monogrammed Moss Wreaths
 It's back-to-school time, and if you're anything like me, I'm already thinking about fall decorating with burlap and pumpkins, and special gifts for family and friends this holiday season.

So if you're getting a head-start too...and love these classic yet whimsy wreaths, come on over to my etsy shop and place an order! Mention "ooh-la-la" and receive complementary burlap ribbon!

Aren't these the perfect gift for your mom, mother-in-law or girlfriends?!

They'll say "Ooh-la-la!"

The 4 young designs' moss workshop is already open for orders!

Don't forget to get your order in early. All these moss creations are hand-made.


Monday, August 8, 2011

GIVEAWAY! What's in your basket? (Value: $64.96)

Photo courtesy:

Aren't these baskets fabulous?! I first saw them in a promotion Willow House was doing earlier this summer, and haven't stopped thinking about how completely versatile they are. Basically, they complete me!

As I started becoming more familiar with their home decor catalog, I was starting to fall in love. And as it turns out, so were they! So you can imagine how excited I was when I was invited to join in a Willow House Fall Launch Party to showcase my monogrammed moss wreaths

We're in the mood to celebrate this fun new party partnership, so we're giving away these rustic darlings.


How do you win?

I'm so glad you asked! I loved Willow House's promotion so much I'm going to copy it (highest form of flattery, right?)

Be creative, the 'most creative use' wins! Think of all the ways you could use these baskets, and send Amy a message at - and include '4yd'  in your message to be entered in this giveaway.

The drawing will be on August 19th. Amy will be posting the winner on her facebook page so make sure to "like" it and stay tuned!

Good luck!

But if you don't win, don't fret!  If you must have these (or any of the other fun items from Willow House), then order directly from Amy's website at If you mention (spelled out) 'fouryoungdesigns' as your "host" at checkout you'll receive a 10% rebate.

Oh, ...and what's in my basket?

Wreath supplies of course! Moss, paint supplies and gardening tools!

Happy Monday!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Art Therapy - When You Need a Truce, Reach for a Paint Brush

It doesn't have to be a paintbrush - sidewalk chalk, paper/scissors, paper/cheerios/glue, findings from a nature walk - anything!

Sure it's messy.

But at least everyone's happy again.