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.





Aaaaaahhh…the great outdoors!

22 01 2009

Woo hoo!  The weather broke and I got to go hike a bit!!  My dh and I managed to get in a hike while the sky wasn’t dripping and the frosty wind was around the bend.  It feels great 🙂  I dare say that having to wait so long between hikes proved to make us a wee more winded on the hilly terrain, but we shall sleep well tonight!  I’m a little concerned now about my 100 miles by the end of May goal.  (What?  You haven’t read the Hiker page?  Well, get on over there and catch yourself up!)  I’m not giving up, but the weather has not been cooperative, and there is a surgical setback coming my way.  Fret not 🙂  I’ll be fine…more details when I know more…no sense in babbling on about nothing!  Right now, I’m determined not to let that stop me, however.  My shoes are quite muddy, but sans the minors, dh and I managed to keep the car void of evidence that we’d been prowling soggy trails.  I shall have to hike in mud or parched earth (fat chance of that before May, LOL) in order to reach my goal with the recovery period I’ll require.  I really want to do it though.  Maybe I’ll celebrate by carving a 100 miles stamp!  Ooh, now I’m onto something…who’d want it?  Me!  I’ll make it interesting to boxers somehow!!

Well, my little sweetie girl is waiting for the computer.  She wants to find a Hula dancing lesson online for a school Adventure Points Project for the Pacific Islands.  So I’ll write later.  There’s much to tell 🙂





Where’s the Draught When You Need It?

6 01 2009

Can it rain anymore? This soggy ground is spoiling my hiking goals! Yes, of course I can hike in the rain. But I don’t want to 😀   It’s not that I think I’ll melt, but I’m sure I’ll have to clean muddy shoes and a muddy car -not really worth it! (I’m feeling more and more like it’d be worth it the longer I have to wait, though.)
The most frustrating thing of all is that this summer, when the grass is scorched, the pavement is threatening to burst into flames and the flowers look like month old cuts in a forgotten vase, there won’t be a rain cloud within miles!  I’m aware that complaining about the weather is fruitless and whiny to boot, but I’ll indulge myself anyway 🙂

School is still going very well on all fronts. Both children, the one tired of bringing home hours of homework each week (turning school days into 12 hour shifts) and the one who sleeps in and still gets all the work done by the afternoon hours were very, very ready for Christmas break! It came just at the right time, and lasted just about for the right amount of time, although we’ve taken an extra week most years before this one. I could stay on break indefinately, however, because I have lots of hobbies and interests to pursue that just get barely paid attention to when school is in session. Maybe empty nest syndrome won’t affect me so greatly…
Nah. I’ll probably forget all about my own interests for awhile!
I’ve got quite a few years to avoid thinking about that, but the older my children get, the more it comes to the surface of my musings. I’ve tried to encourage independence in every area from the very start, not at all being one of those parents who felt displaced by the insistent “Me do it!” plea from confident toddlers – isn’t it our job to teach them not to need us?? I’m always perplexed when parents get all worked up over their child’s growing independence. Didn’t they see that coming? Not that I’m not emotional about it sometimes. I think it depends on what it is. For example, I wasn’t at all ruffled when my daughter began to insist on fixing her own hair. A little embarrassed at times, maybe, by her “creative” hairdos (lol), but certainly never feeling regretful about giving up the job! It’s only when their independence cramps my ideals about the way things should be done that I feel a twinge of desire to do it for them – but that is not because I seek their dependence on me. It is because I sometimes just like things done my way 😉 hee-hee
We had wonderful Christmas and New Year holidays, made extra special with more time than usual with family, and the return to reality is both welcome (because it’s fair and unavoidable) and despised (because it would be nice to be together all the time and live on a barter system and scrap this “American Dream Life”).
I’ll close with a quote from a good song: “I wish the real world would just stop hassling me.”
🙂





Fabulous Fall!

17 10 2008

I feel like a kid on Christmas.  I have energy again, for one thing.  It’s my favorite time of year, too.  I do wish we’d had more rain, so that the trees would be in vibrant color, but it’s still pretty, and the weather is great.  And iron supplements rock!!  lol  I’m a bit bummed that I pretty much missed my favorite time of year for hiking, but I like hiking enough to do it when it isn’t my favorite time, so I’ll survive 😉

We recently took a spontaneous two-day trip with some old friends, and it was soooo great!  Beautiful weather, beautiful fall foliage in the mountains, and the best of company!  Here are some pics…

While there, they told us they’d once heard that there was a place to stay in the area where you had to park, and carry your belongings on a hike to get to the shelter.  We don’t know what kind of shelter it is, or whether this place even still exists, but it is certainly on our research and do list!!  I can’t think of anything more cool at the moment.

Hiking seems to be the subject for my days lately, as it is popping up in several different areas in my life.  I love to hike, and luckily, my honey does, too, and both kids – they’d sure be miserable if they didn’t, I guess, because they’d have to go with me anyway! lol  Anyway, my daughter’s Girl Scout troop recently voted to work on the hiking badge, these friends just told us about this “hike to your shelter” sort of accommodations in the Smoky Mountains, and I had recently set a mileage goal for myself for the time-frame of October 1 to May 31 – 100 miles.  So hiking is just on the brain recently.  I haven’t tried backpacking yet, and had planned to do an overnighter tonight, with the family, but the area we had planned to go is expecting rain in the middle of the night and early morning, which wouldn’t be so bad if it were warm, but not for my first trip, when it’s also going to be in the high 30’s range in the area tonight; we decided to postpone.  So I put another date on the calendar – soon 🙂

My daughter is working on her first lapbook for a postal letterbox ring, and it’s a really neat little thing.  I had heard the term before, but not being much the crafty-lover, I didn’t get any further than looking it up.  She is enjoying it, though, and is old enough not to need my help for the crafty part.  She wants to look at her options online for different elements and have me print off the templates, but mostly she’s on her own – just the kind of project I like for my kids to do.  I get to carve the stamp for the postal, though, so I’m very happy with the way it works out for both our contributions.

Laundry beckons me, with an annoying buzzer, so I’m off.