Friday, May 28, 2010

A Jam Session!

So not a lot exciting going on this week...just a lot of organizing, entering giveaways (I'll enter to win anything!), checking my garden, watching Real Housewives, etc.  So I'm going to blog about the one time I did get out of the house this week.

Yea I'm practically a quilt-making-face-pinching-red-lipstick-girdle-wearing-grandma but I love it.  So this week was the start of my canning plan for the summer.  One day I think it would be awesome to make most of the food we eat.  Now when I say most I mean maybe half.  I think I would have to grow my hair out and wear a ankle length skirt if I made more than that but how cool!  We would save TONS of money because we can preserve or grow a lot of the food we eat.  What a great stewardship of the earth God created.  But that is just a dream.  Right now I'm just growing a few things and dipping my toes in the water a bit.  I mean on my favorite money-saving blog, Faithful Provisions, the author makes her own yogurt!  I'm far from her status but one day ( I wrote that I pictured beam of light shining down from the sky while angels sang...I have a vivid imagination!).

**Side note** I need to learn to grow things organically.  We haven't put stuff on our veggies much this year and I'm using an organic insecticide and trying the soap and water mix method but I'm still having some bug issues.

So I made JAM!  Strawberry to be exact.  And I am going to teach you how...You don't HAVE TO HAVE anything special to do it other than jars.  Not even a shmancy, fancy water bath canner.
So gather your supplies...
  • Strawberries (or fruit of your choice)
  • A box of Pectin -- which is a ground carbohydrate used to make the juices gel.
  • Sugar -- don't try to skimp...follow the directions.
  • Lemon juice -- 4 tbsp for strawberry, inside the pectin box is a handout with directions for all types
  • Mason jars -- usually 4 or 8 oz jars for jellys, jams, and preserves
    • Make sure you wash them!  If your dishwasher has a sterilize cycle, use it!
  • New lids -- you never want to reuse a lid
  • Bands -- these can be recycled sometimes
  • A big pot, a handheld masher, a measuring cup
Now lets get started...
1. Strawberries...check!  Now wash them...don't want any animal or bug urine or excrement on them, now do we? No!
We had about 2 gallons and it made 3 batches (about 8-10 jars per batch depending on the size of the jars.)
2. Cut out the caps, any bad places, and any white tips (you know the part at the tip of the strawberry that may not have the red color...this won't mash well so just remove it now so you don't have to pick it out later.)
3.  Mash them using your handheld masher.  (This is so easy, huh?)
4.  Measure 5 cups exactly (depending on the recipe in your pectin box or recipe book) and pour in a big pot.  
5.  Add the lemon juice if called for.
6.  Stir in the box of pectin.
7.  Bring to a rolling boil. **DO NOT USE THE THERMOMETER like we did here.  We tried to follow a new recipe in the Sure-Jell box and HUGE backfire!  The thermometer busted and our first batch of jam had to be thrown out...sad.  So just go with your gut. 
8.  Pour in sugar (that was measured with the same cup that measured the mashed strawberries) and return to a rolling boil that can NOT be stirred down.
9.  Once you reach that crazy high boil, boil for 1-2 more minutes.
**Skim any excess foam.  (I don't really do this much but it says to.)
**You need to be stirring the WHOLE time its on the stove!
**Start heating your lids in some boiling water (in pan on the left).
**To avoid excessive foam add 1/2 tsp of butter to the mix.
10.  Get your jars set out and ready.  
11.  Fill your jars until they are about a cm from the top.  Its a judgement call really.  I'm usually a bit more conservative while my Mom is usually more liberal with it.
12.  Place your lid on top, holdly down firmly while you screw on the band.
13.  Flip jar over!  This is when you would use a water bath canner if you wanted but this time we just flipped them over for an hour or so and they sealed that way.  You can check them by flipping them back over and pressing on the center of the lid.  If it "pop", it is NOT sealed and needs to be flipped over again.  If it doesn't "pop", then its ready!  Yeah!  Now don't leave them sitting on their tops for too long because your jam will be sitting on the top of the jar when you finally set it upright and you will have a gap in the bottom of the jar.  So it will taste good but Martha wouldn't approve.

Now go out there and make your own jam!  Its easy and yummy.  And think... You can make whatever flavor you love and know what the ingredients are, and not have to buy any for over a year.  If you like PB&J then make the "J" yourself.  I myself think that's yuck but it you like it then save some money and preservatives this year by doing it yourself.

Now I'm sorry I went all Amish on you guys but I love making jam!  You guys are welcome to have some if you would like...just give my jars back!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Slaying PCB 2010!

Last week, Brandon and I went to Panama City Beach...Yes, the drunk, scantly-clad, beach throwin, MTV watchin, fist-pumpin capital of the world!  Or so I thought until I arrived.  My spring break preconcieved notions were all, well mostly washed away when we arrived at our beautiful condo atop on those white sandy shores.  It was a F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S week with Brandon's sister, Whitni and her husband, Chris, and their gorgeous children and our awesome nephews, Caden (5) and Copelan (2).  It was so fun to get to hang out with them all week, enjoy some relaxation and nephew lovin.  I will now fill you to your heart's photo content.
The first night we arrived we took the boys down to the beach to "look for crabs" was more like run and get all their energy out in the dark on the beach with a flashlight.  But fun whatever you call it!
Does this face show excitement to be at the beach or what?

Days at the beach were filled with....
Playing in the water.  The first day they weren't so sure about it but after a few times they were in love with jumping waves.
We built big sand castles (Ok...more like a huge mound) with a mote...
And decorated with shells!
Brandon did a lot of this...while Copelan did his best to keep his Uncle B's attention.
They love their Dada!
I did a lot of this...ok well maybe I only did this a moderate amount...I CAN NOT lay out for 8 hours a day, so I played with the boys more than I sat there.

We loved getting up early and sitting on the balcony with the boys.  Brandon always gets up early and I haven't been able to sleep in yet after getting up early all semester so we played with Cope who got up at the crack of dawn each day.
Cope loved his powdered donuts and playing on the balcony.  And even more...opening and shutting the sliding glass door...when your 2 entertainment comes really easily!
I loved waking up to Copelan calling my name, "Neet Neet!"  Isn't that cute?  No toddlers can say my name but this is the cutest interpretation of "Courtney" I've ever heard.
Uncle B loves his boys!
We loved being aunt and uncle all week...
...and "mom and dad" to the margarita drinking woman who helped take our picture on the beach.

We had a date night with our nephews while Mommy and Daddy took a night off.
We ate pizza and got ice cream. 
You can tell I'm the aunt and not the mom since I let them have at it and get blue ice cream everywhere.
Played on the beach.  If you can't tell, Brandon is the proudest uncle around!
And I quote, "These shells are so stylish!"  Caden was hilarious all week! 
When we went to dinner one night, we were talking about how Caden doesn't like soup and salad.  He told us, "I'm not a soup person...  I'm a cookie person!"  I love 5-year-olds!

If they aren't two of the cutest kids around I don't know who is!

Brandon and I had the greatest week!  Sorry for the L-O-N-G-E-S-T post EVER!!!!! They are just too cute not to share with you guys!

Our 2nd Anniversary Celebration continued...

After our loving morning together, we went choice for the day.  We visited several antique shops on 8th Ave that I have been just dying to visit for over a year.  Brandon isn't much of an antique shopper but he was so sweet and I think he actually enjoyed the browsing.  Then we visited REI for Brandon.  The afternoon was completed with a cherry on top called a nap!  That night we went to Jimmy Kelly's for dinner!  Y-U-M!  Thanks Whitni & Chris for the gift card!  It was fabulous and my Bootlegger's Ribeye was superb!  We also loved the homemade Tennessee Blackberry cobbler...melt in your mouth goodness!  On a serious note...I must say it distressed me to notice that all the waiters were elderly minorities...It was a bit 1950's.  But I think they like their jobs and have worked there for many, many years.  Nonetheless, it was disturbing.  After dinner we ate all that deliciousness, we watched a movie...Sherlock Holmes to be exact.  Great movie.  Cara took some pictures of us when we stopped by to drop some things off...She loved it, Brandon wasn't as enthusiastic about our photo session but once again a trooper.

Cara: Stop reading here...

In conclusion, our anniversary was a very special day.  Its been a while since we got to spend the whole day relaxing together!  I am so thankful for the gift God has given me in Brandon and I look forward to years and years of blog post about our future anniversaries!

More Updates to come about our awesome vacation with the Cobbs!

Monday, May 10, 2010

I live the life!

OK... So a lot has happened in my two weeks hiatus from blogging!  I FINISHED MY 2ND YEAR OF PT SCHOOL!  What?  I know it sounds unbelievable!  You and I both thought I would never survive that black hole full of anxiety, tears, and stomach aches BUT I DID!  And I have Y-O-U to thank for it.  I know I have been pure misery to deal with this year and you were all so so amazingly kind to put up with me.  My husband should have some kind of colored heart pinned on his chest at the White House or receive a long flowing robe from the Vatican for the saint he is.  (...Just between you and me, he cleaned the house every week and did laundry and even made dinner a few times...Hands off ladies!  He's mine!)

Speaking of the Husband of the Year...
Isn't he the cutest?!  (He will hate that I put up this picture...He thinks he looks like a JCPenney's model but I love it!

Right now, I am laying in the bed sipping my coffee and playing on the computer.  I'm telling you in my world this is utter R-E-L-A-X-A-T-I-O-N!  My sweet husband is making me breakfast in bed (...Well I decided on the bed part...I like to do whatever I can from my bed).  Brandon is making me omelets loaded with all my favorites!  One of his specialities!  I know I know I'm such a princess.  Brandon does this every day!
OK, OK I lied.   This is our anniversary!
Can you believe it?  2 WHOLE YEARS!  I certainly can't believe its been that long ...However, on the other day I don't remember what it was like to not be married to him.  Last night, Brandon preached at Ethos and I was just watching him thinking ... I'm actually married to this guy.  I'm such a lucky girl.  (No, I don't always day dream like that when he's preaching...Stop your criticism ...I couldn't help it...He's mesmerizing!)

You know I believe a blog is nothing without pictures so here goes...

Our very first photo together.  I don't remember taking this at all.  Probably because if you had asked me if I would date any of the freshmen I would have said a big H-E-double hockey sticks NO!  I was on the quest team and no way was I stooping to that level... AND WORDS EATEN!  I totally did end up dating one of them but not until he was a sophomore which at least doesn't feel like I should be locked up for committing a crime against minors.  If you can't tell, it took me a while to get over the fact that Brandon is younger...even if it is only 9 months.

Brandon was always a good sport about my Delta Sigma functions!
I like to think we bring out the best in each other, but I think its is equally that he puts up with the worst in me.  

What a fabulous 2 years it has been!  I am so lucky!  It is just the start of our fun day together so I will update you later on how we spent our day!  Hope you are all enjoying the start to your week!  I know I am going to enjoy my first week of freedom!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...