Coffee, Chaos and Christ

The misadventures of a Mother and business owner.


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Elderberry Jelly

I grew up in West Virginia on a dirt road that had a creek that ran next to it. Every year elderberry bushes would line the road between the creek and the road. I always got excited when the flowers started blooming because I knew that the berries were right around the corner. We would grab bunches of them to eat as we walked down the road.

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They used to grow wild everywhere. They are so good for you and I really enjoy the taste of them. When I bought my house about 5 years ago we planted a baby elderberry bush and it has since grown huge and provides a lot of berries. For the past two years I have had enough to actually make jelly. It is a lot of work but it turns out really good. This year I put the twins to work plucking berries and smashing them.

 

They much prefer the smashing part over the plucking part, it is a lot more fun. I use a vintage cone canning sieve and wood pestle. But you can use what works for you. You have to empty out the sieve a couple of times during the process because it gets full of skins and seeds and it makes it harder to smash them. I ended up feeding them to the chickens. They really liked the special treat.

 

Once all the berries are smashed I run the juice through a screen colander to get out any seeds that made it through the sieve. The juice is nice and clean and looks awesome. It is a lot of work to get that juice but it is very satisfying. And just think, you can get out your frustrations while smashing berries.

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I use the SURE-JELL recipe for my jelly and it has always worked well for me.

Prep Time: 45 min.            Total Time: 45 min.                 Servings: About 5 half pint jars

 

3 cups prepared juice (buy about 6 qt. or 3 lb.
fully ripe elderberries)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
4-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

  • Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer.
    Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm
    water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan o
    the heat.
  • Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before
    filling.
  • Remove and discard large stems from elderberries. Crush fruit
    thoroughly; place in saucepan. Cook on medium heat until
    juice starts to flow, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low,
    cover and simmer 15 min., stirring occasionally. Place 3 layers
    of damp cheesecloth or jelly bag in large bowl. Pour prepared
    fruit into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip
    into bowl until dripping stops. Press gently. Measure exactly 3
    cups prepared juice into 6- or 8-qt. sauce pot. (If necessary, add
    up to 1/2 cup water for exact measure.) Stir in lemon juice.
    Stir pectin into juice in sauce pot. Add butter to reduce foaming.
    Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop
    bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in
    sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring
    constantly. Remove from heat. Skim o
    any foam with metal
    spoon.
  • Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch
    of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids.
    Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner.
    Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches.
    Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle
    boil. Process 5 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to
    cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing
    middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not
    sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have. If you have any questions please let me know, I am happy to help. I would love for you to share your experience if you try it.

Isaiah 17:11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain.

 

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New beginnings and lots of changes

So, there is change in the air. The twins have started middle school this year. They have also started on the year round school schedule for the first time. Lots of changes for them and me. We have one trying out band and one trying out theater and lots of others electives. Should be a very interesting year to say the least.

Y’all know my pet peeve with carpool. Such a simple yet misunderstood concept. It really isn’t rocket science people. Follow directions! Don’t fall asleep in carpool! Pull up when you are supposed to! Your kids can walk further than 10 feet to the door! They will not melt in the rain! You can stop in other spots than just the front spot! Don’t drop your kids off at the street! Also, whatever you need to do is not more important than what everyone else has to do, stop putting others in danger because you can’t be patient. New school, new carpool, lots to get used to for the kids and for me. This diagram pretty much sums up carpool right now!! People going in all directions all at once.

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Just a reminder of some carpool etiquette:

  • Follow the established traffic pattern, getting out of line to pass people is not going to make things faster or easier for anyone.
  • Keep your kids in their seats until they are ready to get out of the car.
  • Get off your cell phone, it is not that important.
  • Pay attention!! (This should be a no brainer when kids are involved)
  • If for any reason you need to park your car, park it in a designated space, not the carpool line. (Again, this should be a no brainer)
  • Finally, be patient and be polite. Treat others how you want to be treated. Common courtesy people! 

Ok, enough of that for now. I am sure I will revisit the subject at some point this school year, pet peeve for sure.

Also, do you know how ear-piercing it is when someone is trying to learn how to play trumpet? Goodness gracious, Lord knows I love my son, but he may just have to practice outside for a while. As far as he is concerned, the louder the better. I keep reminding myself that it is only the first week and it will get better, Lord willing!

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I hope everyone enjoys what they have left of your Summer vacations and everyone has a safe and happy school year. It will be an adventure for sure!

 

This I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23


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Lavender Jelly

Who doesn’t love lavender? The smell, the beautiful flowers and the benefits.

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We have a lavender plant that we bought from a farm in Virginia called White Oak Lavender Farm a couple of years ago and it is thriving. If you are ever nearby you should check it out. It is beautiful and everyone there was so nice and helpful. I hope to return next month while we are at Massanutten with family.

I recently started selling Young Living essential oils and lavender oil is very popular. Lavender has a scent that’s a wonderful blend of fresh, floral, clean, and calm. It’s this dynamic aroma that has made the flower a classic for perfumes, soaps, fresheners, and beauty products. Here are some of the many benefits of lavender:

  • Reduce anxiety and emotional stress
  • Protect against diabetes symptoms
  • Improve brain function
  • Help to heal burns and wounds
  • Improve sleep
  • Restore skin complexion and reduce acne
  • Slow aging with powerful antioxidants
  • Relieve pain
  • Alleviate headaches

It has always been a favorite scent of mine and I just love the flowers. My bees really like them as well. I use the oil on an almost daily basis because I love it so much.

I have used lavender in other jams and jellies in the past but decided to make it the star this year with its own jelly. It was really easy to make and the house smelled amazing for a couple of days. It only requires a couple very simple ingredients and does not require a lot of time, which makes it even better in my book. The recipe calls for dried flowers but I decided to use fresh flowers straight from my garden and it still worked really well.

The jelly turned out beautifully, it is always so rewarding to see the finished product. The lids popping to indicate that the jars are sealed is the best sound ever when you are canning. Very satisfying, we all listen for them once we remove the jars from the canner. Lavender Jelly Jar

 

This is the recipe that I used, I found it through Genius Kitchen and it is super easy to follow.

INGREDIENTS

3 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup dried edible lavender flowers

1 lemon, juice of

1 (1 3/4 ounce) boxes dry pectin or 1 (3 ounce) envelopes liquid pectin

4 cups sugar

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large saucepan over high heat bring water just to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and stir in dried lavender flowers. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a deep kettle or pot, discarding the lavender flowers.
  • Stir in lemon juice and pectin; continue stirring until the pectin is thoroughly dissolved.
  • Over high heat, bring the mixture to a hard rolling boil (a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down).
  • Add sugar. When the jelly solution returns to a hard rolling boil, let it boil for 2 to 4 minutes (see below), stirring occasionally.
  • Boil Times:.
  • 2 minutes – soft gel.
  • 4 minutes – medium gel.
  • Testing for “jell” (thickness – I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jelly is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1 teaspoon to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.
  • After boiling, transfer the jelly into hot sterilized jars. Fill them to within 1/4 inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them.
  • Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars to wire rack and let cool before serving.
  • Makes five 1/2 pints

Recipe from Genius Kitchen, you can find the recipe here http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/lavender-jelly-412026

Would love to hear your comments if you decide to try this recipe. Hope you love it as much as I do.

“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard (lavender), very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” (Gospel of John, 12:3)


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Basil Jelly

I tried an amazing new jelly recipe this year.
I always grow basil in the Summer because we love caprese salad. I just love the smell and taste of it. So I thought to myself, I wonder if there is such a thing as basil jelly. We all know how much I like making jams and jellies! So I did some searching online and I found a recipe by Taste of Home and tried it. It turned out wonderfully and it is now a favorite of mine. It is so unexpected and it turned out so pretty. I can’t wait to make more! 
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I have the recipe below or you can find it here  https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/basil-jelly/   
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 25 min. Process: 15 min.YIELD: 6 half-pints.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 package (1-3/4 ounces) powdered fruit pectin
  • 3 drops green food coloring, optional
  • 5 cups sugar

Directions

  • 1. In a large saucepan, bring water and basil to a boil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 10 minutes. Strain and discard basil. Return 3-2/3 cups liquid to the pan. Stir in pectin and, if desired, food coloring. Return to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in sugar. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off foam.
  • 2. Ladle hot liquid into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. head space. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars; screw on bands until fingertip tight.
  • 3. Place jars into canner with simmering water, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil; process for 15 minutes. Remove jars and cool.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have! Please let me know if you try it, would love to hear your comments.

Genesis 1:30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.


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Going big or go home!

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So we stepped out of our comfort zone a little bit and have ramped up our gardening game. We plowed approx 1/4 acre and have planted several different types of pumpkins, cantaloupe, butternut squash and corn. Over 1,000 pumpkin seeds! How unreal is that number? We are going to have tons of pumpkins if most of the plants flourish. So exciting! This is addition to the normal garden we have every year. We will be sitting up a roadside stand to sell the fruits of our labor this fall. They kids are involved and working to earn some money, which they are super excited about. The money part, but not the work part.

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The crazy thing is, we just planted these seeds this week and we already have pumpkin plants popping through the dirt. So exciting and validating to see those little green plants when you have spent so much time and sweat getting everything perfect for them. Now we just need some rain so that we can give our well a little bit of a break.

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I think it is important to teach our children about hard work, that you have to work for the things that you want in life. Nothing is just given to you. These lessons are important so that our kids grow up to be responsible adults.

Genesis 1:29

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

 


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Family favorite dinner

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This is one of my families go to dinners. Super easy and really tasty. The kids love it and they get involved by making their own pizzas. All you need is Texas Toast garlic bread, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and your favorite topping. Once you make them you just pop them into the oven and they are ready in under 10 minutes. Just follow the cooking instructions on the Texas Toast.

I like to cut everything up and have everything laid out so they can put whatever they like on their pizzas. You can go as simple or as fancy as you like. Serve with salad or fresh veggies and you have dinner. Perfect for nights where they have practice or games. You can cut up the toppings ahead of time to make dinner quicker.

Fast, easy and the kids are involved and engaged in making their own dinner.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


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Crazy times, crazy life

There are so many days that you feel stressed out or overwhelmed. We live in crazy stressful times and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Finding a balance in life can be hard. So many things pulling you in a ton of different directions.

Kids have to be taken here and there, grocery store, work, bank, you name it. Run, run run. Our children have so much additional stress piled on them. When I was growing up it was so much simpler. I think my biggest problem was figuring out what to wear to school the next day. Today, kids are so stressed! Test after test. Homework for hours every night. Common core craziness. So much pressure on them to succeed and to test well. They have stomach and anxiety issues, they hate going to school everyday. They have 30 minutes of recess a day, that is all. How I wish my children had my childhood.

Then you have all the political mumbo jumbo, ugh!! Everyone seems to hate everyone else. No one gets a long. We have so much “political correctness” that you could choke on it. Everything you say or do seems to insult someone else. No idea when this all started and why but it has gotten completely out of control. Stay in your own lane, live your own life and be nice to each other. LUKE 3:31 (NIV)Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Or if you would rather, Matthew 7:12 In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” It is a very simple Golden Rule, one that we should all follow.

I find a lot of comfort in crocheting. It has become a great stress reliever to me as well as a type of meditation. A lot of anger and anxiety and depression comes out in every piece. There are so many different avenues for distressing, find what works for you and run with it.

You may not be able to change the world, but you can always change your little part of it. One small chance can have an enormous impact.

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