Life and Jelly

9 09 2009

Why is it that there can be so much going on in my head, but when I place my fingers on the keyboard they sit motionless while I struggle?  I suppose it’s just hard to know where to start sometimes…

“What have I been up to?” you ask.  Ok, so you haven’t ask, but for posterity’s sake, let’s pretend.  I need someone to ask today, and since there’s no one around, I shall indulge myself in imaginings 🙂

I’ve been up to lots of things.  I’ve been trying to be a full-time teacher to my sixth-grade daughter, for one.  I have found it easy, as a home educator, to leave my children on auto-pilot for a few hours each day, while I keep other responsibilities under control, but I’ve discovered that this approach doesn’t work quite so well with this child as it did with the first.  Siblings can be so different!  That’s another conversation entirely, and I’ll stay on the current one.  Staying near my daughter as she works, being available to answer questions (she won’t search the house for me like her brother did), asking about her progress regularly (to inhibit daydreaming – or whatever it is her mind turns to), and moving her from one task to another (to eliminate the time wasted when she fails to come to me when she has completed what I have given her) is sooooooo difficult some days!  In case you haven’t concluded so yet, today was one of those days.  By the time we finished the school day, it was 4:50, and I truly thought I would implode before dinner was cooked.  Some momma-chosen tunes and self-control, along with the cooking assistance and companionship offered by my love helped put out the fuse!

I’ve really slowed down in the hobby area, simply because of the lack of time.  I’ve set up and made only a handful of postcard trades since school began a month ago, and letterboxing was completely ignored  through the entire summer (although I did think about it many times).  Hiking is not happening, either, but I have probably spent more time dreaming/planning about where and when I can hike than any other single pleasurable think I have been able to allow my brain to escape to these last few weeks.

My mom and niece came for a visit over the weekend, and it so happens that I had been planning to make apple jelly on Labor Day for two weeks.  My daughter expressed a desire to know how jelly was made, and see the process, so the homeschooler in me delighted at the chance to indulge her curiosity and delight in her eagerness to learn something new, and I forged ahead with it!  Although my mom had made jelly many times when I was growing up, I don’t remember ever helping past the point of helping gather the fruit,  so I had no experience making jelly from fruit.  In college, I made jelly from canned fruit juice once, but that was the extent of my experience with jelly-making.  So, I became excited easily about the prospect of going through the entire process using fresh apples from a local orchard.  That my mom just happened to be here to see the process along and share in the fun, was just perfect.  The jelly turned out great, it is delicious, and though not a requirement, it is  absolutely gorgeous!   But out of the whole experience, I was most excited to learn that you don’t have to have whole apples to make apple jelly.  It may not be a surprise to you, but I was elated to learn that all you need to make apple jelly are the apple scraps!!  The cores and peelings alone result in wonderfully tasting, beautifully colored jelly!  The first batch we made was made from whole apples,  We left on the peels, but tossed the cores and the result was a very flavorful, light peachy-pink jelly, perfect in sweetness.  When I looked at the huge bowl of apples remaining and began to discuss making another batch with my mom, she suggested that I freeze or dry some of the apples for other uses, since there were really enough apples left for two more batches.  It was during this discussion that she revealed that all we needed were the scraps from the apples we  would freeze or dry to make another batch of jelly.  I couldn’t believe it at first, and then it sunk in as we discussed the ‘old way’ and how it would never have allowed for the ‘waste’ of good fruit just for jelly.  True.  And I couldn’t wait to try it.  I am still ecstatic with the result 🙂  And I still think it’s so cool that you can make lovely, sweet, scrumptious jelly from the parts I usually throw away!!!  And to make my new knowledge even more amazing, the ‘scrap’ jelly is much deeper in color – never again will I think of peelings and cores as garbage!

Check out the difference in the color…(the taste is pretty much the same, I think, but my tastes of each weren’t within moments of one another, so there could be a slight difference).

Apple Jelly  Apple Jelly

This jelly still needs a name.  I just haven’t been able to come up with something creative enough – it’s one of those “I’ll know it when I hear it” sort of things…suggestions are very welcome!!

In case it helps, the apples used were Empire, Jonathon, and Cortland.  “Think, think, think.” says Pooh.  😉

We also canned two whole pints (hee-hee) of the jalapenos growing so well in the garden.  I promised you pictures when it was all in full green…sorry about that; I never took photos and now it’s in that not-so-lovely stage, where the lettuce is gone, the tomatoes and bell peppers, some scallions and herbs are still green and producing, but mostly just the jalapenos are thriving!!  Maybe I’ll get pictures during it’s peak next year. 

I’m also getting ready to start back volunteering in the children’s ministry at church.  Not writing for them as I had hoped, but God has other plans for my writing 🙂  I’ll be teaching Kindergarten boys – such cute little bottles of energy and curiosity, and I am very excited about it and implementing the changes that have been made in the progression of the hour we have them.  I am working on a postcard-sized newsletter to send home weekly to update the parents on what their boys are learning and encouraging them to help reinforce it at home.  I need a few creative group activities to use with them in a whole-family group setting, so if you’ve got any ideas or suggestions, they are welcome!

Even though the preceding barely touches the surface in attempt to tell you what I’ve been up to, I’ve sat still long enough and have to move on to something else.

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10 09 2009

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