Friday, June 14, 2013

Do Try This at Home, Kids

A few years ago my friend, Steph, taught me to make jam.  She gave me her no-nonsense instructions and a beautiful old-timey pot & directed me on which handy tools to buy (which is part of the fun of having a new hobby, now isn't it?).  I must've eaten at least a jar's worth of apricot jam while cooking that first batch.  Wow.  So good.

And... then my littlest one starting toddling around my legs in the kitchen.  Bubbling preserves (apricot! plum! strawberry! raspberry! what a summer!) started feeling a little dicey.  But, having homemade jam in the house at all times wasn't something we could give up without a fight.

So we started making freezer jam.  What a delicious and easy alternative.  In fact, this batch here -- the only thing I actually did -- was to pour it into jars (because one of my handy gadgets is, eh-hem, misplaced).  Otherwise, the kids could have done this part, too! 

Invest in some basic canning jars if you don't already have 6 miscellaneous boxes in your garage.  For $10 you'll have freezer jam containers, storage for leftovers, a bouquet delivery system, homemade cookie gift packaging, button jars, ...
On the right: what we had in our
pantry.  On the left: what I just
bought.  The key is
"instant" or "no cook."
Here's the low-down:
Stir together sugar & freezer jam pectin (from our local Ace Hardware store) according to package directions.
Mash fruit (fresh, or 3 bags of frozen raspberries -- our year-round, non-heatstroking standby).
Pour into jars (I buy freezer jar lids at Ace, too.  $5)
Freeze until you're ready to use.
Eat.  On everything.  Share.  Gift.  Take pictures of jammy smiles.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Story Lights

I love the rhythm of summer -- the predictability of the weather and of little that must be done.  And of easing into summer nights.  Play falls into dinnertime.  And then children spill back into more play -- but changed with full tummies, family chatter, and the setting sun.  The glow of candles in the house meets the setting of the sun outside.  Dinosaurs and trucks find a place to rest, book stacks materialize, and "pioneer children" ("farm children," "kids riding on a train across the country to see their aunt") gradually settle.

Because of this natural evening ritual, we have a lot of homemade candle holders.  We made these with large applesauce jars, Mod Podge, and tissue paper. (Thanks, Mama Scout, for the inspiration!)  Sela wrote a short story, typed it up, and printed it out.  Linus dictated his story to me and went to the desk for the "fancy" scissors to cut it out.  To change it up a bit, I stuffed an errant strand of Christmas tree lights into the jars.

'Night all.