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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blueberry Jam!

Let me first say that if I could do this during naptime, you could too. I did have help, so a friend helps speed along the process, especially a friend who has made jam before. We used the blueberries we picked that morning and found a simple recipe in my classic Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for Blueberry-Orange Jam.

Before you start, I will tell you that this uses a few pots and pans at once. We had a pot going to sterilize the jars. We had a pot to actually make the jam. Erin was manning the stove, keeping water boiling, etc while I was doing the fun part of crushing berries and mixing it together.

3 pints blueberries, stems removed (1 pint = 2 cups)
1T orange zest
1/4c orange juice
1 package powdered fruit pectin (typically 1.75oz)
1/2t butter or margarine
4c sugar (I didn't have enough when we started and had to run to CVS in the middle of cooking. that's where you go when your town doesn't have a grocery store…)

1. Place 1c berries in an 8qt pot. Use a masher to crush berries. (I did all of my berry crushing in an aluminum pan because my stove and best pots were in use!) Add berries until you have 4c crushed. Stir in orange zest, orange juice, pectin and margarine.

2. Heat on high, stirring constantly until you have a full rolling boil. Add sugar all at once. Return to boiling; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam (I didn't have foam).

3. Immediately ladle into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process in boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool until set. Makes 6 half pints.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blueberry Boys (and Blueberry Jam!)

It is finally blueberry-picking time here in Maryland so last weekend I took William along with my friend Erin and her 22 month old son to Homestead Farms in Poolesville where I always like to go for PYO (pick-your-own) fruit. PYO blueberries are only $2.49/pound which was great. We finally had a break in the humidity so it was a perfect day for picking and taking the fun tractor ride.

I ended up picking about $7.50 worth of blueberries, so about three pounds. While out in the field, Erin suggested making blueberry jam during naptime. My husband has always wanted me to can fruits and vegetables, especially ones from our garden or that I pick but I have never had the time. Since I used to be away at work from 7am-7pm and weekends were filled with standard chores, a little fun with friends and then a newborn last year, I was not interested.

Well, we did it..blueberry jam that is! Stay tuned :D

Monday, June 18, 2012

Multi-Use Closet Makeover

My business has started to take off (woohoo! very blessed), which in turn means that I was making a larger mess in our home office...

See all of that wasted space?! Well, I decided it was time to do something about it. Brad installed the same white wire shelving that we removed from our laundry room when we renovated it and hung it in the office closet.

I "borrowed" a pants hanger from his side of the closet and put some of my ribbon on it so I could quickly see what I have in stock and not have to dig through a box.

Then I added some of my ready-to-order items: beach pails, different size plastic buckets, and water bottles. Many items are in the basement (ie: box of tumblers, more water bottles, floating frames), but this certainly is an improvement!

In case you are wondering, the photo boxes to the right don't hold photos, but greeting cards. One is cards to me, all from Brad, cards to me from others, William's birthday/baby shower/welcome to the world cards, and cards to Brad from me. Perfect way to organize it all!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Grilled Cheese with Strawberries {recipe}

As strawberry season continues in Maryland, I find that William and I are at a nearby farm picking at least once a week. The first time we went he did actually pick…and bite and put into our box…regardless of being slightly under the weather.

The second time we went to a different patch on the same farm and they had just lined the rows with straw so he was running up and down the rows the whole time. Since strawberry plants are short and I could see him, I just kept picking and let him run wild. Let's be honest, it was easier too. I only had my video camera the second time so no photos to share.

I found myself thinking what to do with all our fresh, juicy strawberries besides eat them whole, add to ice cream and lemonade and freeze for a cool treat. I found a great recipe from Southern Living (no surprise I liked it!) For a Goat Cheese and Strawberry Grilled Cheese sandwich.

If you take a look at the recipe, it calls for seven ingredients. I omitted the salt/pepper, pepper jelly, and basil since I didn't have any in the garden. I also substituted spinach for arugula since we had that growing outside. The flavor of my sandwich was absolutely wonderful and I'm sure it tastes great with basil and arugula since they are both such strong flavors. Then again, I think my version with bread, spinach, strawberries and goat cheese was a wonderful balance of the rich cheese and sweet berries.

Please share your favorite strawberry dish!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I don't shop much anymore. For myself that is. I get a top here, pants there, which is fine and has suited my new stay-at-home-mom lifestyle. And as anyone who knows me will tell you, I have a closet full of clothes. Last summer I didn't wear most of my summer clothes because I was still carrying around pregnancy weight and I was nursing. So I went to Old Navy, got myself some jersey dresses and skirts and some nursing-appropriate tops and called it a day. Very helpful.

Well, this year, my size XS tanks were just too tight and too short and after wearing most of them for 3-5 years, it was time to retire them. My mom used to be a store manager at Gap so I have alot of great clothes from the store, but I looked at the tags of the items in my consign/donate pile and the majority said '06 and '07. No wonder I was sick of them.

So on Memorial Day I headed out to the Leesburg outlets with one goal in mind: Old Navy. I really like the casual clothes at Old Navy. They fit me well (except pants), like the fun colors and prints and they last for several seasons which is great considering the price. I was greeted by a large "All Items in store 40% off!" which was a great thing to see at 10am. I went through that store so fast you would've thought William was with me in the stroller (I was alone). Went into the fitting room, had a stack of clothes and I left with half. What surprised me was how many items I bought multiples of.

Black and khaki shorts

Shown multi-stripe and the purple stripe

Purple and turquoise

I also got another top or two including this pretty embroidered one:

Of course, not only did I get a new summer wardrobe so I won't be thinking much about clothes until fall (I think…), but I spent just over $100 thanks to the massive sale. Happy birthday to me!