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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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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My renewed obsession..

I learned to crochet a long time ago. My grandmother used to crochet a lot and she taught me the basics. She was an amazing woman who I looked up to her a great deal and miss her everyday. I find that crocheting is a lot like meditating. For me it is a mind dump. I can stitch out all my feelings and thoughts and come out fresher on the other side. Much cheaper the therapy to.

I have been making blankets for the whole family. Hats, scarfs and even wash cloths. Lots and lots of wash cloths, lol. The are quick and easy to carry with you to pull out and work on when you have time. I have been loving working with the 100% cotton yarn. There are so many great colors and combinations to choose from. The wash cloths I have been making are very simple. Here is what I have been doing.

Sugar’n Cream 100% cotton yarn. Size H (5mm) hook. Gage not necessary. 

Row 1: Chain 31, single crochet into the second stitch from the hook and in each chain across. You should have 29 stitches. Row 2: Chain two, turn and single crochet into each stitch (29). Repeat                                      until you have 21 rows. Finishing: Weave in your end and you are done.                                 Simple but pretty and functional. 

I like the single crochet because it gives you fewer holes and a really nice look. It still works up quickly. They just have a nice feel. Hope you enjoy my short and sweet free pattern. I think you will enjoy making them as much as I do.


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So much going on, so very little time.

I am sure that many of us experience this. We as a society have become busier and busier. Always rushing from one place to another. We try our best to slow down and enjoy life more but it just doesn’t seem possible.

Kids have school, and sports, and friends….That list can go on and on. I have one graduating this year, so that means graduation and college prep. That in itself is never ending. You have work and home. Yard work and pets. Etc, etc.

I know I am preaching to the choir. Everyone I know goes through the same thing. Rush, rush, rush. I have been working on trying to slow things down some. As most of you know we have chickens, about 50 of them at the moment. We have rabbits and dogs and a cat. We even have a parrot. You have to make yourself slow down so you can care for them the way they need to be cared for. Go back to the earth a little bit. I do a lot of gardening and canning and I love every sweaty back breaking moment of it. It is the best kind of therapy for me. I am sure most of you think I am nuts, but it’s true. You should try it.

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We are busy prepping for getting the garden out as soon as weather permits. We are also working on the fence and getting ready to build a new rabbit hutch. We have been breeding our rabbits a little bit. They are just so very cute. You just can’t get over how cute they really are. So magical watching them grow. And of course the kids just love every minute of it.

More soon, there is a lot going on around the “farm” and the family.