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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A little thing called carpool etiquette

etiquette

Etiquette, the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

I am sure I am not the only one who dreads carpool. The sitting, the waiting and the inching forward. Day in and day out. There is a certain etiquette that we should follow. We pay attention, we move up right away when it is our turn. You don’t take forever when picking up and dropping off. One of my biggest pet peeves is parking in the carpool line and getting out of your car and going about your business. It is not like there are people behind you waiting, that have done their time. Not to mention the people who get on the phone and don’t pay attention to what is going on around them. Or better yet, the people who fall asleep while waiting. Really people? You can’t find a better place to take a nap? I am sure we all have our daily frustrations, this just happens to be one of mine. I sit in two carpool lines twice a day everyday. I have become something of an expert. I am sure I will share more of my thoughts about this in the days and weeks to come.

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First completed Christmas gift done.

So I sat down yesterday and made the Gingercake On the Go Organizer PDF Sewing Pattern. It is a wonderful pattern and very easy to follow. It sews up pretty quick once you pick out your fabric, which for me can be the hardest part. I will be making several of these for Christmas gifts this year. I like that you can customize it to fit your needs. It also allows me to use some of my vintage buttons. I would love to see some pics of some that you have made!

I am hoping to stitch up one of the Gingercake penguins this weekend. I will let you know how that goes once I finish.

It was in the 70’s here today so I took the opportunity to hang some Christmas lights outside before it gets to cold. Might even pull the Christmas tree out this weekend and get it set up. The kids are also playing musical bedrooms this weekend, which will be great once it is done, moving all the crap is another story. I will have to post pics once we get it done. The twins will be getting separate bedrooms and Samantha will be moving downstairs.

Busy, busy, busy. Never enough time in the days it seems.


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Going Handmade For Christmas?

So I started thinking today that I should make some homemade gifts for my loved ones this Christmas. I started going through my patterns today to get some ideas and I think I have come up with a few. I also searched the free pattern section on You Can Make This and found a couple of ideas there. You can find the free patterns here, http://www.youcanmakethis.com/free-patterns, I actually sell a couple of patterns on You Can Make This. It is a great place to go find awesome patterns, free or paid.

Another pattern site I like is Gingercake, love their patterns and they are super easy to follow. Their website is http://www.gingercake.bigcartel.com/, I picked up two new patterns from their today. One for the On The Go Organizer and I can’t wait to make a few. They would be great for students to keep things together, great to keep kids busy coloring or writing in the car or restaurants or for Mom’s making their grocery lists. The possibilities are endless! I started pulling fabric out this afternoon but ran out of time to start cutting pieces. Had to go watch my son test for his first stripe on his orange belt, so super proud of him! I did get to read through the pattern, if you have a need for organizers this pattern is a great one. Check out the picture below, photo by Gingercake, and find the pattern here, http://www.gingercake.bigcartel.com/product/on-the-go-organizer-pdf-sewing-pattern. I also picked up the Annie’s Penguin pattern, http://www.gingercake.bigcartel.com/product/annie-s-penguin-pillow-pdf-sewing-pattern, I know a couple little ones who will be getting one of them this Christmas!

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And who could forget Bit Of Whimsy Dolls?! Find her amazing patterns here, http://www.bitofwhimsydolls.com/. I have most of them and have made several, they are some of the best written patterns I have seen. I love following Sarah and she sells finished dolls as well, talk about adorable. If you don’t have time to sew up your own you can’t go wrong buying one, or several, from her. The only problem with Bit Of Whimsy Dolls is trying to figure out which patterns to buy. Sorry if this fuels your pattern buying addiction! I know I have one, but there could be worse things. 🙂

If you plan on going the homemade route this year I would love it if you shared your ideas. Maybe you can inspire me or someone else. Even if you can’t make homemade this year for Christmas you can still support homemade and you can also buy local. Support the small people and your neighbors. You don’t understand what a big difference it makes in someone’s life.

Also, we have my oldest daughter’s 15th birthday on Monday and Thanksgiving on Thursday, what a blessed week it will be. Love my family and look forward to spending time with a bunch of them. Hope to get a lot of sewing done as well. Just maybe?! 🙂


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Am I Coming Or Going?

The Holidays are almost upon us and we just get busier and busier. There are some days that I actually wonder if anything got accomplished. Do you ever feel like there are not enough hours in the day? I sure do. So much stress lately and it is draining.

My oldest daughter just finished Romeo and Juliet with her high school drama department and they did amazing. I am so very proud of her. She works so hard and is so dedicated. The had auditions this week for Grease, which happens to be one of her favorite movies, we find out tomorrow if she was chosen for a part or not. I pray that she does get chosen because my heart will break for her if she doesn’t. She had a couple voice lessons and she was amazing! Who knew? She never sings for real, but I hope she takes it up. She is so talented. She has her 15th birthday this month, need to start shopping. 🙂

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We will be spending Thanksgiving with my family this year, so Momma can do the cooking. It will be nice to see and spend time with my family. Take a couple days off and relax. That part will be really nice.

We are trying to support small businesses this year for Christmas, you should do the same. There are so many amazing companies out there to choose from. Makes the gift giving a little extra special, knowing that you are support local small businesses. People like you and me trying to make a living.


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Who Knew Figs Were So Good?!?!

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Who knew figs were so good? They are nothing like I imagined. Growing up as a child I ate Fig Newtons, that was my only previous experience. I loved them, they are so good. When we bought our new house and found out that there was a fig tree in the backyard it was pretty exciting.

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This summer we went a bit crazzzy with the jam and jelly making. Strawberry jam, honeysuckle jelly, pear jam, blackberry jam and of course we couldn’t leave the figs out. I must say it is my favorite make from this year. It has such range and can be used with some many different things. It would be amazing with pork and it is awesome on a pb&j. It was also the easiest jam that I made this year, with was a nice surprise. It is a truly beautiful fruit as well. Can you tell I am in love? I hope to branch out and do more with them next season, but I am thrilled to be able to still enjoy them over the fall and winter months.

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This is the recipe that I used. I have become a canning diva! LOL

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I must be honest, mine didn’t take as long. Once the figs were washed and the stems removed they were really soft so I just threw them all in the blender at the same time. You can experiment and see what works best for you.

I hope to share more of my canning experiences with you as well. It has been an amazing learning experience and so much fun!