Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam

Before relocating to wine country, I decided to try my hand at jam making. However, I had a couple obstacles: 1. Doesn’t mom or grandma or someone normally pass this skill down? I missed my lesson. Missed actually being skipped out on. 2. I only like strawberry jam and I don’t like seeds. How do you get the seeds out? 3. Two little ones, one doesn’t want anything to do with it except eat, and the other wants my attention.

One day after work the kids and I met up with hubby at a u-pick strawberry patch a couple towns over. We were a little late to the party, so it was slim pickings, but we still had a great time.  I still remember the feeling from having baby in a front carry pack. It was quite the workout, 3 days later my legs were still killing me. I was basically out there doing squats with a 30 lb pack that moved & hits. I remember thinking I wasn’t sure about the hitting thing, it really made me nervous that the little man was going to be a handful. My older son never hit, or at least never out of anger or annoyance. That day the youngest was basically going – won’t let me down? Bam! take that lady. Should we go again?

Image may contain: 2 people, including Kelley Wolther

I swear this baby/ now toddler, has been Gods way of teaching me not to judge.

Me with baby 1: “oh I would never let my baby sleep in my bed, that is soooo bad”

Me with baby 2: F* this colic he has to be touching me 24/7 – baby slept in my bed for about 2 months.

Me with baby 1: “blankets are so bad for babies, only sleep sacks”

Me with baby 2: me to Dr over screaming baby – “there has to be something wrong he wont stop screaming!, my other had colic, this is not the same.” Dr – “give him a blanket to cuddle with, it will be more like sleeping with you”. Me “nooooo”. Next night – here’s a mini blanket (in fairness it was one of those little monkey/blanket lovie things).

Anyway, back to the point. The next morning I pulled up a blog from my favorite cook/pioneer woman Ree Drumond and sure enough she tells how to make strawberry jam. I took her recipe and adapted it a bit. I wanted something low sugar, and though that didn’t work out, her ratio was still a bit high (7 cups sugar to 5 cups berries). I made two batches the first I did and even split 5 to 5, then the 2nd I tried 3 cups sugar to 5 cups berries. The full adapted recipe is below. The 5 to 5 worked great.

Like I said I don’t like seeds in my jam or fruit leather, so I bought a fine mesh strainer and strained out the seeds after I pureed the berries as smooth as possible. It’s a bit time consuming, but seems well worth it. I found if you mix it in the strainer and scrape the bottom with a spoon it seems to go fairly quickly.

20180530_1644201951656406.jpg

This time around, I have our garden, and after picking a mid full big bowl (that holds 32 cups) of strawberries yesterday evening I couldn’t wait to try jam making again. This time with my KitchenAid – hubby bought me an accessory that is for sauces!

I should have taken pics, but I was preoccupied. This is basically the look, only not tomatoes.

Image result for kitchenaid sauce maker

Last time my jars with less sugar didn’t set, and I didn’t measure this batch exact, so I became a bit paranoid that it was going to be a flop. I found a good youtube video with a grandma lady that explained how to tell if your jam will set. I tried others, and apparently its not my thing, because I wasn’t sure where mine fell. This test worked.

As the kids get older (not me haha), things like jam making bring back memories that make me smile. When I was their age and my family would gather for harvesting or jam making, there would be kids running and playing everywhere. Adults would be yelling for us “get out of the kitchen”, or “don’t slam the door!” They used all the standards we use now as parents.  To this day, my favorite sound is actually a slamming wood screen door followed by kids laughing. That is my happy sound.

**** June 14th, 2018 – Update : TRY AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!! MY JAM REFUSES TO SET USING MY KITCHENAID MIXER MIX —–ARGH!!!

Recipe:

5 cups Strawberry base (either puree or hulled mashed strawberries)

5 cups sugar (have pre-measured & pour all at once)

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 pack 49 gram pectin

Directions:

  1. Pour berries into large pot (I use a spaghetti pot), mix in lemon juice, and fruit pectin.
  2. Bring to a boil and pour in sugar
  3. Bring back to a violent boil the kind that keeps boiling while you stir. Boil and stir for 1 min 15 seconds
  4. Turn off heat, Spoon off foam
  5. Fill jars to ¼ in from top & can using water bath canning technique.
Advertisements
Goal Setting

Goal Setting

I don’t do resolutions, revolutions, or revelations. Well, maybe someday #2 or 3, but not today my friends, not today. – My life is just not that interesting.

However, I have an overall “bucket list” we’ll say, and each year I try to make sure I get a few checked off, and a few new added. Keep life interesting and such. Now I will admit, on my grand list I have a few odd things, the things I have no real purpose for doing or knowing, I’ve just always thought it would be cool to know I could.

One is spinning yarn. Now, no real purpose for this, but it seems like a really cool old world skill to have and maybe pass down generations. Here’s hoping for a granddaughter in future years – pretty sure my boys will skip out on this skill learning session. I’ve found a place with a few goats for sale, and hubby wants goats anyway. They have 3, and at first I thought, lets get one and try it out, but if you get one it needs a friend right? And for the cost of the two, I can get the  third for not much more….. I think we may be getting three harry goats – Angora Goats! But look at these guys, how cool and they should fit in great with sheep.

Sounds like I’ll have to learn to use a drop spindle, because after looking at prices for spinning wheels, I’ll hold off until I know I wont resell the goats for being too much to handle.

Another is making my goal list this year. How to hot wire a car. Now I feel a little late to the party, I’m well past the point of even using this for a good prank, but hey, it’s on my list – and I feel like I need to do this at least once before cars really get driving themselves and you can’t find anything to hot wire. On my larger list I also have “become proficient at lock picking”, again, no real use, and I probably watched too much MacGyver as a kid, but knowing I have these odd ball skills in my back pocket make me feel a little bad A.

canstockphoto16608058

FYI click the picture to read a short blog that’s pretty dang funny. 

Maybe one day my kid will lock something and I’ll be able to show off my super talent and leave him thinking I used to be a secret spy or something haha, I don’t know. Ooooo maybe for April Fools day I’ll pick a door lock hot wire a car and have my kid freaking out that I went crazy! Hahaha – maybe not, I don’t have being arrested or CPS on my list and I don’t want them added ahahaha. Welcome to my brain friends.

On my short list for this year I also have my boring stuff. Here is my short list:

  1. Yarn Spinning
  2. Learn to hot wire a car
  3. Make it through some Spanish levels for Rosetta Stone
  4. Try new veggies so I can decide on adding them to the garden – How the heck do you say kohlrabi – I’ll have to ask Google
  5. Take the kids to the pool once a week while its open – pray the oldest learns to swim
  6. Go camping 3 times – NOT for a hunting season reason
  7. Become proficient at lock picking – just talked myself into adding for this year – super secret non-spy mom – Watch out! (do you hear the James Bond music?)

spy mom

Super spy mom signing off. HAHAHAHAHA

PS – I’ll keep you posted on the hot wiring – I may be borrowing a dump truck from my hubby to try it out on.

 

 

Country Wedding

Country Wedding

Last weekend I had the opportunity to dust off my cameras and revisit my love of wedding photography. Really its more that people are generally happy and pretty for weddings. That’s my personal honesty secret. I love photography of people when its fun, and people are pretty. Not pretty in the “look at those magazine attractive people” type pretty, but the natural glow of content people enjoying life. The ones happy to be where they are. That is what I enjoy capturing.

DSC_0098_final

Subjects I don’t really enjoy? Maternity, babies, large groups. Why? Lets start with Maternity, I don’t have the heart to tell women that the beautiful woman in the magazine is not only air brushed and perfected lighting, and spent more energy and time then they really want to, they are usually about 6 months pregnant. I try to encourage early shoots, but even then, pregnancy is miserable. Yes, you “glow”, and are sooo blessed and happy, but your legs/feet hurt, your hips hurt or feel awkward, you waddle, clothes rarely fit right, and all the other things women don’t say out loud often about being pregnant. Yes, sometimes its great, and the photos turn out awesome, but often its exhausting, and I’m not good at making it “fun”. Other people rock at this, I don’t, so I stay away from it.

Babies? Real newborns, like still sleepy and don’t care what you do new born, I like that. I just want to be warm and snuggled, don’t make me be naked newborn, that sucks. They tip, they roll, they cry, and they can’t hold up their own head. I stress all the way through. SKIP IT. I only do my own, and as for anyone else, not until baby can look around.

Large groups? This is like the “lets do a big family Christmas picture” type large group. The one where there are 8 kids under 10 that don’t want their picture taken, or at a minimum don’t want to take the picture the way mom and dad want them to. Throw in at least 5 adults, 2 of which are reprimanding kid behavior, no thank you. This also includes the groups of 4+ kids under 6 – I don’t herd cats either. Just an FYI.

Those 3 topics are why I have no interest in really getting into portrait photography. That’s what we all want want, all the shots I just complained about. I love the happy shots, and the emotion shots, that’s my passion behind a camera.

farm-land-love-rain

Like catching a kid enjoying post rainstorm puddles.

So when my friend was asking around for someone that could do photography on short notice, I made sure to start with “what would it be for?” As soon as I heard small wedding, I said, “Why yes I do know someone available”,  “Let me show you some past work”.

 

All weddings have confusion and crazy times, I just love getting to capture that and the love behind it. The prep time, the one-on-one time…..

For example, working with kids. What do I do when they just won’t cooperate? Start snapping, and see what you get.

Maybe even throw in a fun filter.

DSC_1081_filter

I actually have to work to not get caught up on the couple and make sure I get the family shots too. You’ve gotta include Grandma!

DSC_0154_final_2

But the couple is by far my favorite:

 

And the oops moments, like struggling with the garter:

DSC_1162_final

And every now and then I re-write history:

Before: Fishes

After: Just 2 beautiful women – thank you Photoshop

And throw in a couple shots of the decor for good measure.

It was great to break back out the camera(s). I like having 2 so I can have 2 different lenses at the ready. Normally I would just have the one, but for a wedding its pretty handy. My fear is if something happened to one God forbid. I’ve heard horror stories of cameras getting dropped or stolen mid shoot.

I have had such a great time with this though, I realized I really need to take time to give myself a little artistic outlet.

Maybe I’ll work on doing a photo challenge series.

Working Mom

Working Mom

The other morning my son asked “why don’t you make stuff like my aunties”?

Dishing up my breakfast I responded confused “what do you mean?”

“Well Aunt A makes syrup, and Aunt R makes apple sauce, and ….”

And key knife twisting. In the most positive voice and a smile I could muster I explained that I did make apple sauce, and I don’t like homemade syrup, plus I use it too fast.  We discussed the benefits of stay at home mom’s and working moms, and how we need to do what works best for our family. We also talked about how we try to make sure he is still able to get as much quality time with each parent as possible.

I am part of a circle that many families are quite blessed in their ability to have the flexibility of a parent home or available most hours for the kids. My son can’t see that most of those moms work in one form or another, and only a couple are not working from home, but we talked about that too.

This really got me thinking though. Sometimes I think as moms and humans in general we really struggle with comparing ourselves to others. Social media has really amplified that too: Amazing moms posting amazing cakes and crafts on Pinterest. Fun family vacations, and perfect Christmas pictures on Facebook. We rarely stop and realize we are comparing our real life to the highlight reel of others.  When we see the perfect family with the perfect portrait pose, rarely do we think or realize that the photographer was bribing the kids with candy, or that husband and wife may have been arguing 20 minutes before over finances. Looking at the perfect birthday decoration ideas on Pinterest how often do we think about how perhaps it’s that perfect because the blog writer is paying bills by making others see perfection?

I find that from time to time I get so caught up trying to make up for working that I waste time on the details that probably won’t be remembered in 10 years.

Perfect example, I tried to earn mom points with cool shaped sandwiches in my son’s lunch. What a waste of time. By the way, you have to cut the bread before you make the sandwich – would have been smart to read the directions.

For my son’s 6th birthday he had a perfect Army Transformer’s cake, with a party at an arcade, everything looked planned and perfect. What wasn’t seen was that I forgot all about how close it was, and suddenly it was the day before and I had no cake, no decorations, no birthday gift. I had a reservation and invitations out. That was it. Late the afternoon before I was calling around like a mad woman trying to find a cake. I got lucky and Walmart had one the right size, and even sort of fit what he wanted. Birthday came, and my son thought I was AWESOME. But I knew I was a wreck.

It’s life. Life is a rollercoaster.

My life is not always perfect, and somedays I feel like I’m a wreck just barely getting by. In the end though I know my kids will look back and think “mama did her best, and loved me unconditionally”.

highlight-reel

Baseball Birthday

Baseball Birthday

This past weekend my baby turned 1. I avoided thinking about it as long as I could , but at a certain point I had to accept that my baby is getting to be a toddler and let him have his day. Hubby’s mom was up from out of state, so the family would all be at the house, and that alone is a full house.  Just hubby’s family made a house of 9 little ones and 8 adults. We kept the party limited as we expected to need to be indoors, and I’m not sure about you, but that basically maxes out my home especially having that many kids running around. However, we had a great surprise in the form of an 80 degree sunshiny day.

farmlandlove_baby

Thinking back it turned out great, but I really do owe it all to hubby. You see, I decorate, and plan, and fuss over the minor details. He on the other hand implements.  He’s the one that remembers the practical stuff; the things I wouldn’t use personally and therefore don’t think to buy, pickles, tomatoes, extra chips. I also don’t seem to understand how much food kids eat. The family gathered at our house the night prior too, the chips were eaten, the veggies were eaten, dinner was eaten, and popcorn was eaten. I was out of ideas, and one of my snackers was gluten and dairy free. I was in a bit of a panic for the next day. All I had planned was hot dogs, popcorn, and cracker jacks. Hubby to the rescue! He picked up all the practical stuff and no one was hungry at the end of the night.

farmlandlove_baseball_birth

farmlandlove_baseball_cake

And since he took care of the real party needs, I got to set up cute baseball theme decorations. Baseball invitations (sample pic below) which turned out perfect!

Vintage Baseball Ticket Invitation - Baseball Birthday Party Invitation - Boy Birthday Party - DIY Printable

I ordered those here. Baseball toddler photos curtesy of me. Thank you. Baseball baby smash cake, I’m not a cake decorator, but I think it turned out pretty good. Baseball themed party supply table with a couple pictures of the guest of honor. And my awesome sister hooked us up with slip and slide baseball.

farmlandlove_baseball2

We couldn’t have asked for a better family evening on the farm.

farmlandlove_baby1 farmlandlove_baseball4 farmlandlove_baseball3

Prayer Wall Project

Prayer Wall Project

When we first moved into our mini farm home, hubby brought me home an old large picture window frame. He thought it would be great for one of my photography or craft projects. I loved it! However, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with it. This window has leaned against the wall in our home oddly fitting in with the décor it was hiding behind. There it sat for going on 3 years.

Last week an idea popped into my head and I decided we needed a prayer wall in our home. Somewhere to post pictures of those we pray for, inspiration, big goals that seem unattainable, whatever fits. I wasn’t sure what this was going to look like, then one night a picture floated into my thoughts and it was the frame. And so, my prayer wall has taken shape.

farm-land-love-prayer-journ

While cleaning the frame I became distracted by spider webs/nests. Took a few minutes to come back from my mobster mentality of killing anything spider related.  But I digress.

After cleaning the window (both sides), I hot glued mini clothes pins randomly across the glass. Next I printed some pictures I had that symbolized my prayers, and I printed them onto regular printer paper.

farm-land-love-prayer-wall2

Using some tags I picked up at a craft store at some point, I glued the pictures to the tags.

farm-land-love-prayer-wall3

I took some extra tags and wrote a few favorite scriptures. On the back of a couple of the pictures I jotted down my prayer.  Earlier a speaker at the bible study I attend gave us moms scripture cards.

bible-verse-cards-for-moms1-1024x872 (1).jpg

You can find those here. Those fit in perfectly.

farm-land-love-prayer-wall4

I’m kinda in love with this little project. Not too over the top, and fitting for my family.

farm-land-love-prayer-wall-

By the way, when I told hubby my window idea, he thought I was talking about the giant picture window that is the front of our house. I believe its 12 ft by 8 ft. the mental image makes me smile.

I almost died this weekend

I almost died this weekend

So I almost died this weekend, and I wish I was being dramatic.

farm-land-love-Exodus-3-14

Hubby and I took Friday off to finish our wills. We had 1 easy correction, and needed to sign. So here we are driving down the highway when a black pickup decides he is tired of being stuck in a line of cars or something, and decides to pass not one vehicle, but two on a solid double yellow line on a curve. One of those vehicles was a semi-truck! I have never been so grateful to have God on my side, and a husband that is pretty skilled at driving.

It’s not uncommon on this stretch of highway to have cars pass in unsafe areas. It’s actually one of the deadliest highways in the country. But generally when someone passes when they shouldn’t, they try to force their way back into their lane. As the on-coming vehicle, you slow and drive down the shoulder mentally cussing (and sometimes it’s out loud) the unthinking driver, and continue on your way.

Friday’s situation was so far from the expected bad situation. The driver of the pickup realizes too late that we are there, slams on his breaks, apparently realizes he is still alongside the semi, and as my hubby is already braking and heading for the shoulder, the pickup decides that’s also his best bet for survival. Our vehicles are now still careening toward each other at a slowed rate of maybe 55 MPH now. Pickup continues to our shoulder forcing Hubby to steer back into the tiny space between the semi and the pickup neither of which has quite made it to the shoulder. The back end of the car breaks loose and we start fishtailing in a space so narrow I already wasn’t sure we would fit.

At this point, the only thought on my mind was “this is how it ends. My oldest is in class, and the rest of his immediate family is either taking a ride in the coroner’s truck, or a helicopter”. Pretty sure the infant in the 5 point harness will be the only one to get a ride out of here alive”. As I write this, that awful feeling still sits with me. We almost left 1-2 babies alone.

God gave Hubby the amazing ability to evaluate, react, and counter react so perfectly. He was able to switch between braking and heading to the shoulder, to braking and going back to center, to speeding up and powering out of a fishtail. Everything worked out so perfectly that of the 5 vehicles that almost collided that day, all of us drove away without a scratch of damage.

This whole scenario played out in the time it takes to go from about 63 to 40, and back to 60.

As we drove off, I made it maybe 1 more mile into safety before the tears hit. The irony hit me about the same time. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh, cry, be angry, or grateful.  All of those feeling were right there at the surface. Once I felt safe and reassured we were all alive, I couldn’t help be laugh a bit at the irony of it all. 2 inches left or right at any point, and someone would be trying to decide if the intent of a will was enough. Here someone would have found a mess of legal paperwork on intended guardians, power of attorney, and healthcare directives all over in the front of the car. Guess if intent is enough, it would have been in a handy location.