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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Frustration

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You always try to do the right thing, to do right by people. You have your little slice of the world and are content there. Then people, or their pets, come barging in.

So, now the back story. I live on two acres in Apex, NC. I own approx 50 chickens. Normal laying hens plus Orpington’s and other “nicer” breeds. I raise them for their eggs and their meat. I also sell the excess eggs to help cover their cost of living. My chickens stay in our yard, they don’t really venture outside of that space. We free range them during the day for obvious reasons. I say approx 50 because on any given day I don’t know if someone else’s dog will come into my yard and kill them. I have had this happen twice now. First time I lost 11 chickens. Was a chicken massacre all over my yard. Second time, which was yesterday, I lost 4. Only 4 because I saw the dogs out my window in time to go out and try to catch them.

People seem to have the mentality that they can do whatever they want and it doesn’t matter. If I hear the words “they are only chickens” one more time I might just explode. What if I killed their dogs and said “they are only dogs”. Do you think that would go over well? I think not. As a dog owner myself I understand that it is a dogs instinct to chase things that run. I understand that, I really do. But that fact does not make it ok for your dogs to come onto my property and kill my chickens.

The set of dogs from yesterday were hunting dogs. The owner was running rabbits, tracking collars and all. He admitted to animal control that his dog has chased chickens before. So why did he think that it was ok to run his dogs all over everyone else’s property? He made mention that chickens weren’t worth the eggs they laid. Well guess what? They are to me and my kids. There is a lot of time and money that goes into raising chickens. Granted they are cheaper then raising some other animals but that does not minimize the fact that it is not ok for your dogs to kill my chickens.

We are in the process of building a fence to keep out unwanted visitors, but it can’t seem to go up fast enough. So keep off my little slice of the world unless you are invited.

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Is 7 years to long to call it baby weight?

Just wondering, because that is what I have been calling it all this time. My twins will be 8 in July.

I have never had issues with my weight except during pregnancy. I am not one of those ladies who have the cute little baby bumps. I gain weight, and I gain it every where. Belly, face, fingers, you name it. After my first pregnancy I did lose all the weight within about a year and a half. With the twins it has been a completely different story. I was on bed rest for approximately 5 months when I was pregnant, which did not help with the weight I am sure. After having the twins I was so busy taking care of them that I did not take time for myself. To take care of me. But I need to change that, I do believe it is finally time to get off my butt and actually do something about it.

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Today I am starting Nutrisystem and I am finally going to do something for me. I will also be starting on the treadmill daily and cutting way back on my Dunkin Donuts coffee intake. Which is going to be a HUGE thing for me. If you know me then you know that DD coffee flows through my veins. But I can not keep drinking my calories, no matter how much I love and enjoy it. I will also be introducing more exercise into my schedule as my wrist injury allows.

New year and a new me, tired of hiding behind this fat suit. Here we go.


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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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Right in the middle of the holidays

Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas is right around the corner. I can’t even begin to tell you how sick of turkey I am at this moment. But that is ok, spending time with family has been wonderful and much-needed. The mad rush has begun, we need to get all the Christmas shopping done, then comes the wrapping and the house cleaning. Mix in getting my cast off and a sweet 16 party and you get a very hectic December. But we will get through it like we always do. Quite frankly we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Over Thanksgiving we got to go to West Virginia and spend time with my family. We had a white Thanksgiving which was a wonderful change from North Carolina. We also got to see our first golden eagle and I was lucky enough to capture a few photos of it. What an amazing sight it was, so beautiful and majestic.

Golden Eagle

My goal is to blog a few times a week, really need to get better at this, I know I keep saying that. I will leave you with a few photos from our trip.

 

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Is cursive writing a thing of the past?

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I read an interesting article on one of my local News websites dealing with cursive writing in NC schools. Apparently cursive writing will no longer be required learning in NC . This doesn’t appear to be a new issue. My 14-year-old daughter does not know how to write in cursive and it looks like the twins will not be learning it either. With a lot of what we do moving to computers there is not a need for it any longer.

Michael Smith, a communications professor at Campbell University, said there’s more to cursive than elegance, and he fears that students’ cognitive skills will be less developed without it. “It’s motor skills. It’s cognitive skills. It’s left to right. It’s interactive – you make those loops (and) one loop connects to another loop,” Smith said. “It leads to a higher order of thinking. One idea leads to another idea.”  Teachers say that there is simply not enough time in the day to fit it in. Their day is so jam-packed with what they are required to teach. Have you ever looked at the curriculum that your child is supposed to learn by the end of the year? It is astounding what they have to know to move to the next grade level. I never imagined my twins would have to be able to read by the end of the year, in Kindergarten, among the many other things they have to know.

There is something magical in cursive writing. The ebb and flow of it across the paper, it can be so elegant when written properly. I remember when I was small, I was so excited that I could write in cursive when I started kindergarten. I had an older sister so I picked it up early. I love my Mother’s hand writing and her signature. I wanted to be able to write just like her. Sad to see it go, hope it makes a comeback. What do you think?

See article here: http://www.wral.com/nc-schools-write-off-cursive-instruction/12035402/

Cursive writing for blog