Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We Be Jammin'!

Well, summer is finally coming to a close in Utah and I couldn't be happier! I love summer, don't get me wrong, but I ADORE fall!! I have my home decorated with pumpkins and leaves everywhere (the Halloween stuff comes out Sept 21st!). To top it off, we are considering putting our house back on the market, seeing as the predictions say that we won't be able to get as good a deal as we can now for at least five years. There are obviously many positives and negatives in this situation. Negatives: keeping the house show-ready constantly with a three and two-year-old. Positives: Having a constantly clean house and an excuse to spend money to fix it up! Over the Labor Day weekend we got our back yard (finally!) ready to plant grass, which is happening tonight. I also painted our front door from a yucky red color that I loved once, to a sleek and lovely black!
Before (the paint was very matte and chipped and rubbed off on my rag whenever I tried to clean it)

AFTER! Is it not beautiful?!

In further news, my design wall is a bit of a crazy hodge-podge of blocks I have wanted to try, unfinished quilt pieces, and a fun panel I ordered from the Fat Quarter Shop. I have been doing plenty of sewing, but I really don't have anything exciting to share until tomorrow for WIP Wednesday.

This is my first ever attempt at embroidery and I finished it about three years ago and forgot I had it! I think I am going to sash it up and make it into a pillow or wall-hanging!
Aside from all that, I got a smashing good deal on a case of raspberries at our local grocery store (only $15 for a case!) and we decided to make some jam. By we, I mean the whole family. When we lived in Portland, OR, we would go behind our house and pick buckets full of wild blackberries. Then we would go home and make incredible jam that we would give our families in Utah for Christmas each year. I must admit, we ROCK at home made jam, and I am going to share a cool technique that some of you may not know that makes jam making a breeze with no special equipment required! We used the recipe that comes in the package of pectin for raspberry/blackberry jam.

First, mash up 6 cups of your raspberries or blackberries. The berries I had were borderline overripe, so it took all 12 pints.

Add the pectin to the berries and cook on high heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil (meaning it is still boiling even when you are stirring). Once you hit a rolling boil, add 8 1/2 cups of sugar quickly and, stirring constantly, bring the mixture back up to a rolling boil.
Still stirring constantly, let the mixture boil for 4 1/2 minutes exactly. Then, turn off the heat.
Ladle the jam into your jars.
NOTE: to prepare your jars, was them on the hottest cycle in your dish washer so they are warm when you put the jam in. If you put the boiling jam into a cold jar, it will crack. I also pour boiling water over the lid seals (the flat round disk) to loosen up the gummy stuff around the edge so it will seal closed.

Now, here's the cool part. After you pour the jam and secure the seals and lids, place the jars UPSIDE DOWN on your towel and set your timer for 10 minutes.
When you flip the jars over after 10 minutes, the steam will act like a vacuum and suck down the seal on the lid, sealing your jar effectively so your jam can last in storage for 1 year! This is a great technique because it negates the use of specialized canning equipment!

Sam didn't get to help much with the prep, but he made a great taster!
And Wes felt he needed to test it as well.
I tell you, after this, I will NEVER buy store-bought jam again. It is pure Heaven :D
I love having such wonderful boys in my life! I remember the first year we made jam. We had been trying to get pregnant for close to six years at that point and I was devastated. I remember making the jam and imagining what it would be like to have a kitchen full of children helping out. It is so wonderful to have that wish fulfilled. I will never take my family for granted, that is for sure!
Sorry for the super long post. I just have one more thing to share, I promise! Our table and chairs in our dining room have been in sorry shape for a while now. Yesterday I got a wild hair and decided to repaint the whole thing and re-cover the chairs. I don't have a picture of the whole set together yet, since I am still waiting for lacquer to dry, but here is a before and after shot of my chairs!

I didn't take a picture of the gross chairs. This is a picture I took the LAST time I re-covered them. I swear they were starting to grow hair, they were so nasty!

I used some super cheap clearance fabric to cover them, since I figure with a three and two-year-old they will be destroyed in no time! Well, as you can see, it has been nothing but busy-ness around here lately and it will only get worse! Today I am painting my boys' room and a wall in my living room. What projects are you all working on this week?
~Happy Sewing!~


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