Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Great Apron Swap Final Sign Up and the Best Plum Jam Recipe Ever

I am in the process of making a big batch of plum jam out of a surplus of plums that I have, but before I tell you about my plum jam recipe, I wanted to give a last opportunity for anyone that wants to sign up for the apron swap to sign up now, tomorrow we will pair up the ladies and let you know.

Just as a reminder, you don't have to sew these to participate in the apron swap...just scroll down a few posts, and read the previous post about the apron swap if you want to double check the rules.

Now for my plum jam.  I was just looking around the internet to get a few plum jam recipes and compare them to the one I already have, and found this one, and was delighted with how very much like mine it was.   The outcome is also very much like of the best plum jam recipes I've tried.  Check it out you might even agree with me :) but be sure to  read it all the way through before you decide you are not interested in my plum jam recipe.  I think if you read the whole thing, you will decide that you might want it.  Ok, and incase you are not catching on,  get ready to laugh out loud at the author's directions.

It's that time of year again. Summer fruit is ripe for jam making, and my plum tree just produced a bumper crop of fruit. It isn't the sweet kind of fruit just made for eating warm from the sun. Nope. Mine are the tart-sweet red plums that make the best jam.

Oh, I've tried giving the fruit away to relatives. I've tried. Present them with a big box of plums and say: "It's simple. Wash 'em, take out the pits, and boil 'em up with three-fourths cup of sugar to every cup of fruit. Just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot. When they reach a full boil with foam on top, dip them into jam jars. Let cool. That's it. And, " I add casually "if you think the jam might not be thick enough, add a little pectin to the mix."

And they come back and say: "Well I followed your directions. I did! But my jam just didn't turn out like yours. Are you sure you follow the same recipe?" After careful thought, I grudgingly admit: "Well, not exactly. But mine is" And I get "That Look."

So, well, here it is. My 
Never Fail Recipe for Perfect Plum Jam:

1. Collect plums from tree into a container that only holds 80 percent of the plums. After trying to stack the plums in a pyramid on the top of the bucket with limited success, go look for another bucket. Ignore the wasps. They are just mad about losing "their" fruit. Come back with second bucket and transfer the excess plums from bucket one to bucket two. Pick up the half-bucket of plums that ended up on the ground in the process. Finish picking plums from the tree.

2. Take the plums into the house and set the buckets in the sink while looking for the tube of stuff that treats wasp stings. Dump the first bucket of plums into a colander and start water running, then add the fruit from the second bucket until the colander is filled. Try adding the remaining two cups of fruit by stacking them into a pyramid. Pick up all of the spilled fruit and put it in another container. Clean up the floor where fruit was stepped on, and dump stepped-on fruit into the compost bucket.

3. Pit the washed fruit by cutting one side with a knife and lifting out the pit. When this gets tiresome, try pitting the plums with a cherry pitter. Clean the plum juice off of the sink, walls, and ceiling fan, then put the "cherry-pitted" fruit in the compost bucket.

4. Finish pitting the fruit with a knife and dump contents into a stockpot. Add a half cup of water, turn on the heat, then realize that the pitted plums were never measured to determine the number of cups. Estimate the number of cups in the stockpot, then add the appropriate amount of sugar. Add another cup of sugar just to be safe.

5. Realize that the jam will eventually need jam jars. Go to the storage room to look for the jam jars and search the five boxes on the top shelf for jars, without success. Stop and think "Now why am I smelling something with the scent of burned fruit?"

6. Turn off the stove and move the stockpot of plums to a trivet while cleaning up the two cups of sticky liquid that boiled over on the stove. Suddenly remember why you wanted a stove with a solid ceramic surface. Try cleaning the outside of the stockpot without removing the contents. Pause to look for the tube of stuff that treats burns.

7. Move the remaining plums to a clean pot, then worry that there's not enough liquid. Add another half cup of water, and turn the burner on low. Write a note to self that says "Don't leave the kitchen when the fruit is coming to a boil. It boils over FAST!" Decide the best place for the note is on the inside of the jelly cupboard door. Open the jelly cupboard door, and add the note to the five other ones from previous years. Discover the jam jars in the jelly cupboard, and take them to the sink. Realize that the jars need to be sterilized, but one stock pot is in use for the jam and the other one is in the sink covered inside and out with sticky jam-like stuff. Clean up the sticky pot and fill with water and jam jars. Put on burner to boil.

8. Check the plums and worry that they have too much liquid. Go look for the pectin. Read the label and remember that the pectin needs to be dissolved in a half cup of water before being added to the fruit. Prepare the pectin and add it to the boiling plums. Add another cup of sugar just on general principals. It can't hurt.

9. Check the jam jars. Turn up the heat on the plums to get the excess liquid out. Check the lids for the jam jar. When the plums boil over, quickly turn down the heat. Try cleaning the stove without taking the pot of plums off the burner. Go look for some more stuff to treat burns.

10. Turn off the heat under the boiling jam jars. Gently lift the jars out of the water with a jar-lifter thingamajig. Carefully clean up the floor where one of the jam jars broke. Pause to find bandages to treat cuts, and more of that burn salve.

11. Turn off the heat under the boiling plums, then carefully transfer the hot jam to the jars. Add lids and transfer the filled jars to the cupboard to cool. Clean up the floor, sink, stove, and (unaccountably) the overhead fan where the jam spilled. Make a note to buy more burn salve.

Okay, that's it. My recipe for perfect plum jam. It goes quite well with a pat of butter on fresh homemade yeast rolls. I'd give you my recipe for the yeast rolls, but it's a bit complicated. 


Ha ha ha.  You have to admit, this one was funny, it just cracked me up when I read it.... and really, a little  too close to home... Other than the 15 minute waterbath canning procedure which I give mine...or is it 20?, this recipe is about like mine :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Ol' Blue"

Almost all of us in this picture except Luke, Jon and Benjamin
Can you find Olga ?

We have an old friend at our house, that belongs to my husband....mostly... but of course all of us enjoy him... young and old alike. We bought Ol' Blue from a neighbor at what we thought was a great price, several years ago, and he has been a cozy embellishment to our yard, our photographs, our picnics and nice afternoon drives.  There has been some controversy in the family about whether he should be painted like new, or left in the old patina of a bygone era.  So far the second choice has won the argument.  I had a comment recently by a blogging friend asking about him, and I realized he was a treasure that I had never posted about.  I have always considered him Steve's baby, but of course even we girls think he is a delightful addition to many of our activities and we have all clamored to get our pictures taken with him.  So. I present to you Ol' Blue a family friend.  I wish I could tell you some history about him, but there isn't much available.  Our neighbors bought him through an advertisement  and then decided to sell him to us because they already had a couple of similar vintage, and realized maybe they didn't need this one too.  So we will have to make our own history with him, and perhaps he will be around one day for the great grandkids to tell about. These pictures are only a few of many.

Olga and Ol' Blue

Nathan and Himilce and baby Elon

Russell, Olga and Eddie

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekly Project: Blue Jean Purse

Well, our great apron swap is well underway.  We will do a little reminder this week, and then pick the names.  I have been meaning to post this current project for several days, but it has been pretty busy around here, so I am finally getting to it.

Do your remember the blue jean purses we used to make when we were in highs school?  I remember making them back in the late 70's.  Old jeans are fun to use to make a lot of different things.  Quite a few years ago, I made a couple blue jean quilts for Nathan and Luke which I think they still have to this day.  I have seen a few of them that other ladies have done over the years, and I always liked them.

I had fun playing around with some ideas for this project, and may post a few more in the next few weeks. This purse aggravated me somewhat, because the idea I had in my head didn't come together too smoothly in my attempts to put it together.  I'm lucky I got any pictures out of the project, because I almost threw the towel in on it, but it turned out ok, so I posted the final pictures.  Perhaps it will inspire some ideas for you  or your teenage girls.

Have Fun,

Find an old pair of jeans and cut the legs off
Open up the sides both inside and outside.  Create a patch that will helps bring the legs together in front and in back, (sorry that I forgot to photograph that part).  This way you will have filled in the gap that the pant legs created. With skirt material (shown below) cut out and sew in 2 inch strips and sew them into the open sides of the purse, creating a little variation of color and design. With extra jean material, add any kind of pockets that you would like.  I made one big front pocket, with a little one on top of that for a cell phone. Be sure that you do any pocket sewing before sewing your purse together at the bottom, because it is much easier to sew them on before it is sewn together.
Finally, turn purse inside out and sew up the bottom, and turn right side out.
For the straps, I used a couple of belts that I got at the dollar store, and sewed on the front as seen, and the other one  on the back.

I found a cute old skirt, and cut it the same length as the purse.
I used the extra material to sew pieces of it into the sides, and create pocket flaps.
Then with right sides together, I sewed bottom of skirt together, and placed skirt wrong side out into the purse, sewing it in as a liner for the purse.

 Using the skirt material, make flaps for the pockets, one or two rosettes for embellishments (fold over a strip of material, and roll it into a rose, and sew the bottom to hold it).

Embellish with beads and buttons.  I used an old pin and glued it on. I used my skirt material and sewed a little belt to go through the belt loops.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Great Apron Swap

After I posted the little apron post a few weeks back, Angelina (from Pioneer Beauty ) suggested doing an apron swap.  I thought it sounded like fun, but since I had not put one of these types of things together before, it needed a little figuring out on my part to be sure I "could" put it together.

I talked to Roxy (living from glory to glory ) who, you might say, is my apron partner :) we both decided it sounded like fun; and interestingly enough, Roxy just posted the sweetest post about aprons, so check out her post . You can register on my blog or Roxy's, by leaving a comment that you would like to be a part of the "Great Apron Swap".  Sign up as a follower on both blogs, leave your name, e-mail address, and size preference (S, M, or L), and agree to send an apron to your swapping partner, once we have partnered the names.  At the time of the name partnering draw, we will give you the name and e-mail address of your partner, after which, you will collect size preference from them and their address and give your size preference, and address.  You will then send aprons to each other accordingly. You will have a month from the time of the posting of the draw. You may make the apron, or purchase a vintage apron from yard sale or antique sale, which ever you prefer. If you want, post your aprons on your blog to show what you make or find and after all is done, each one can  post of their prize. Happy Aproning.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Banana Bread

This Banana Bread recipe makes moist, healthy muffins and bread, with no sugar added (just a little honey and the bananas to sweeten it), and whole grain flour.  It is one of the best recipes I've made and I think  you're gonna love it.

Pre Heat oven to 400 degrees

Stir the following together in a large mixing bowl:
1  3/4  cups whole wheat or whole spelt flour
2  cups oat flour ( I just grind up rolled oats in the blender and put into a container to use as needed)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1  1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

In a Blender put:
7 to 10 bananas.  You could get away with 7, but the bread is sweeter and moister with more.
1  1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cups honey
1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
4 eggs

Blend together, and then pour over  dry ingredients and stir until well blended.
Add 1 cup walnuts
Blend all together

Pour into 12 muffin cups and 1 loaf pan.  Bake 18 to twenty minutes.   Remove muffins and reduce heat to 350.  Bake bread 30 minutes longer:
18 -20 minutes total for muffins,
50-60 minutes total for bread

Peaches and Bananas

All my little sleepyheads,
have at last gone off to bed.
I am peaceful as I blog, 
before I too begin to nod.
In the quiet of the evening time, 
I recall this week of mine 
And share my little tasks with you,
perhaps you will enjoy them too.

So there is my silly poem for the day.  Sometimes my head gets full of rhyme.  I can't help myself, its almost irritating, but I figure if I can't have a little fun with those silly rhymes here, where else can I put them.

Last week was a busy one, with our conference, a visit from our son Nathan, a big box of peaches and a big box of bananas we were blessed with.  The banana's and peaches had to be dealt with of course, so I made peach jam and frozen peaches, banana bread, banana muffins, and dried banana chips.  I got this box of bananas for three dollars, because they were turning slightly brown, so I feel like I hit the jackpot on that one. After 5 loaves of banana bread, 60 muffins, and 2 trays of dried bananas, I still have about 3 bunches of bananas left, and will try to dry the rest of those before they get too soft, otherwise it will be more banana bread and muffins.  I am remembering when Anne from Homeschool on the Croft had a big box of bananas, and made banana bread as well. It is delightful to have some extra goodies in the freezer for company and gifts.

I made three types of peach jam this time; one with no sugar (it was "Ginger Peach") one with low sugar, and one with the regular amount of sugar... which incidentally had a lot of sugar in it.  I am trying to get my household back onto a healthy track, so I have been enjoying a search for some great "no sugar" and whole grain recipes.  I have adapted several recipes as I have gone along, and they are coming out pretty well. I'll share them when they are good.  I liked all the jam recipes, including the "no sugar" recipe, which turned out very well. (If you want to make it, just get the no sugar pectin, and follow instructions.  I added no sweetner at all to it aside from some fresh fruit juice.  You could add honey if you wanted to, but to Steve and I it was yummy as is.

 I have begun a "Blue Jean Bag" for my project of the week, but alas, with the busy week, didn't get it finished, so will get it finished this week, and post it soon.

Many Blessings

For the dried bananas, I simply sliced, spread on a parchment paper on top of baking racks, and baked at 175 degrees for approximately 5 to 6 hours.  I kept door of oven propped slightly open to release moisture.  I took them out when they were still slightly leathery, because I think they taste better that way than when they are crisp, although, some people like them like chips and if you wanted them that way,  you would just leave them in longer.  These are really great snacks for the kids, and to me they taste like candy.
When cool,  peel off of parchment paper and store in glass jars.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Cross and the Switchblade

We had the privilege to attend a conference this week that really blessed us. It was a Pastor's and Leadership Conference.  Although, we are not Pastor's,  the Lord has been getting us ready to work with Teen Challenge, and Dream Center ministries.  These are outreach ministries that work with those who are bound by drugs & alcohol (among other things).

One of the things that blessed us most about attending the conference, was the opportunity to hear from David Wilkerson (now almost 80 years old) and Nicky Cruz (probably in his 70's by this time).  We realized here were the "two" whose ministry and conversion  were what God used to bring about "Teen Challenge".  If you have never read the books "The Cross and the Switchblade" by David Wilkerson, or "Run Baby Run" by Nicky Cruz,  I would say get a hold of them and read them.  They will greatly bless you.  "The Cross and the Switchblade", written by  Pastor Wilkerson, tells the story of how he became involved with reaching out to gangs in New York City.  "Run Baby Run" tells the sad and even frightening story of a young man's life that was touched and changed by the Holy Spirit, through the outreach of David Wilkerson.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

I was reading heavenly homemaker's blog, and she posted this link about "Operation Christmas Child". Oxana gives her testimony about how she came to know the Lord, and how she became the recipient of one of these little shoe boxes.  You should hit the link and read her story.

I don't know if you have ever had a chance to be a part of "Operation Christmas Child", But it is a very rewarding experience. You participate by filling shoe boxes with Christmas toys and goodies, and decorating/wrapping the boxes, so that they can be sent to a child in need. We've done this (I should say Olga has done, it, through the High School, and I have helped, by buying items for her  to put into the boxes).  It is a delightful ministry to consider doing with the kids at Christmas time.... something the children on both ends of this gift will always remember; Interestingly enough, Olga tells me of when she and Russell and Eddie were also recipients of these boxes, like Oxana was.  It blessed them very much. After watching Oxana's video, and reading her testimony, I decided that I wanted to get us involved as a family this year.  Just thought I would share the link also.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sense and Sensibility Give Away

Okay, here's something fun you might be interested in;
My friend, Angelina, 
is having a "give away".   She is giving away the Jane Austen book "Sense and Sensibility".  Of course I can never resist books, and Jane Austen is definitely a favorite; so if you're interested, pop over there and put your name on the list.
Thanks for the opportunity Angelina.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Birthday Season

The next several weeks, brings a string of birthdays.  Must be a pretty popular month for birthdays, because I have several friends who have a lot of family birthdays the next several weeks as well.  Elon, my grandson starts off the parade by turning 4 last Friday, then my son Luke, then my Son Nathan, then my son in law Benjamin, then my daughter in law Himilce..... I hope I am not forgetting an important family member in here. Three of them turn 30 this time around. That's a big land mark for them and me.  

Happy Birthday 
You Guys. 
 I love you all so much
 We can't seem to pull off that family get together yet, but I'm still brainstormin...

Elizabeth's Wedding was the last time we were all together (at least, almost all) at the same time, and I just happen to have a picture....

You can tell that this picture was not taken by the photographer, because half of the group is looking everywhere but at the camera.  From left to right top to bottom:  Luke, Marie, Steve, Me, Elizabeth, Benjamin, Kathy(step mom), Dad, Nathan, Russell, Himilce with baby Elon, Eddie, Jo(my mother in law), and Olga

Now Jon was not in the family picture above, because at that time, we did not have any inkling that Jon and Marie would end up married, but he was in the wedding party (being Benjamin's brother),  So it turned out nice that we got the whole family in these pictures, but didn't know it yet... here are all our boys from left to right: Russell,   Bobby (also Benjamin's brother), Luke, Benjamin, Jon, Nathan and Eddie...  look how little Eddie was then.... so cute.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Apron Strings/Project of The Week

My friend Roxy,, is well known amongst the girls of my family for the lovely aprons she makes.  She has blessed me, my daughters, my daughter in law, and many friends  as well as her own daughter and daughter in law, with aprons through out the years.  We all love, love, love, receiving a new apron from her.  I have often thought of making an apron, because I always find them appealing, but have not had the need of an apron these many years, because Roxy has always kept me well supplied... and delightfully so.  But today, we had a chance to get together at her house and sew; and guess what we did?  We made aprons.  Yay.  We had a wonderful time sewing to our hearts content.  We decided that we are going to get together at least once a month and sew something together. We thought about some crazy names for our new club: lets see..... The Sewing Swans" hee he he, "The Singing Sewers", "The nutty needleworkers", "The Material Mamas"..."Material Girls"   Hee hee. What do you think?

This is my project of the the week, and the most instruction I am going to give this time, is to encourage you to go to the material store and buy a pattern and some material and go for it.

Have fun

"Material Cat"
Kitties do not like being on the side lines..... they must be in the middle of the fun.

Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mutton Busters and Bronc Riders

Last night Eddie and I went to the State Fair.  We went for dollar day; It was only one dollar to get in and one dollar for the rodeo.  He and I made up a tiny group this year, compared to last year, but though we missed everyone, we had a great time.  My favorite things to see at the State Fair, are, the animal exhibits, the creative arts building, the rodeo, the performing pigs (those pigs just crack me up) and the "Mutton Busters".  I think the "Mutton Busters" are the cutest of all.  Mutton Busting is actually recognized as a sport like the rodeo is, (we even sang "The Star Spangled Banner" before it began).  The object is for a child between the ages of 3 and 6 to ride on top of a sheep from one end of the arena to the next (or at least as far as he/she can get). whoever gets the farthest in their heat is the winner;   I can just picture my grandsons riding those sheep.  It is definitely not a sport for the faint hearted, these little guys and gals are tough babies, and I do think those sheep love being broncs for a night.   One of the little guys who made it half way across the arena before he fell, got up and dusted himself off, and then raised his hand to the crowd and waved as the crowd was cheering him on. It was so cute, I think he was only about 4 years old.  Eddie and I decided that these little kids are training to be future bronc riders LOL.  I couldn't resist this video, you've got to watch it.  Interestingly enough, its a CBS video,  but the story takes place right here in our area at our own State Fair.

Be sure to scroll down and pause my music before you hit play

After the Mutton Busters, we went to the Rodeo, which was great fun as well. The bronc riders and bull riders were our favorites.