Saturday, June 27, 2009

Making strawberry jelly today

I have a freezer with lots of strawberries, blueberries, apples, peaches and blackberries. I kept thinking I would get some jelly made and now that summer is here and it will soon be time for picking blackberries again, looks like now is the time. So I took several bags of straweberries from the freezer and today I'll walk you through jelly making.

I dug out my packages of SureJell fruit pectin from the cabinet and checked the "use by" date to make sure it was still current. It was saving me from having to go back into town to the grocery store. I washed my fruit jars and made sure my little red thingy that keeps you from spilling the jelly everywhere was ready for use. Handy little thing so make sure you have one.
The directions say to leave the strawberries whole but I have a grandson who can't stand to taste anything pulpy so I ran it through my food processor anyway. You'll find I make directions work for me. But don't change much else when making jelly cause jelly is particular.

I use the cooked jelly part of the directions. There is directions for making freezer jelly and my mom use to do that but I need my freezer space so I opt for the old-fashioned cooking method.

The directions say to "measure EXACT amount of prepared fruit (or juice for jelly) into 6 or 8 quart saucepot. "

Just a side note here. For every 3 and 3/4 cups prepared strawberry juice you will also be using 4 and 1/2 cups sugar. This will make 6 cups or 3 pints jelly. Does this tell you how much sugar is in one pint of jelly. So if you are on a diet, keep the jelly to a minimum or notice the low sugar part below.

Back to the directions:

"measure EXACT amount of sugar into separate bowl. Reducing sugar or using sugar substitutes will result in set failures. Try SureJel for less or No Sugar Needed recipes Fruit Pectin for no or low sugar jams and jellies."

"Stir a box of pectin into fruit or juice in saucepot. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine to reduce foaming, if desired. " (I was out of butter so I skipped this part.)

"Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly."
"Stir in sugar quickly. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam."

"Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process jams 10 minutes; jelly 5 minutes. Adjust processing time according to Altitude chart. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)"

"Let stand at room temperature 24 hours (or time indicated on recipe.) Store unopened jams and jellies in cool, dry, dark place up to 1 year. Refrigerate opened jams and jellies up to 3 weeks."

I made 3 separate batches of jelly one at a time for a total of 9 pints.

Now here's another little hint. If you love homemade jelly but don't feel you want to take the time to make it, just hunt down your local Amish country store and at my nearest store I can buy homemade jelly for $2.50 a pint. Still get the homemade part but don't have to do the work. So don't feel guilty, just take advantage of what is available. I love my local Amish country store and am so excited that it is time for fresh fruits and vegetable. Gonna make a trip out there soon!!

Happy jelly making everyone!!! My grandma would be proud!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

He's moving out again...

My youngest son, Police Officer Tim is gonna be moving out again. He has rented a house in town so I am once again on that emotional roller coaster. I watched him move out and go off to college and watched him move back home. Then I watched him again move out and go off to Police Academy and then watched him once again move back home. And now I will watch him move out probably for the final time.
I am on one hand happy for him as I remember how exciting it was to have my own place and be on my own. But I am already feeling sad because I won't be hearing his footsteps coming in after getting off work. There's something about knowing your kids are home and safe in bed that helps a mother sleep, even if the kid is 21 years old and a police officer.

Is it normal to have such a hard time letting your youngest go? Maybe I need some counseling! I am sure Officer Tim's dad and sister would say so.

I wish you the best Police Officer Tim and youngest son and my prayers will continue for your safety in your job and also that you grow and mature in wisdom and character. You'll always be "my baby" though. Love you!!!

Quote for the Day...

"Are the things you're living for worth Christ dying for?"

Leonard Ravenhill

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thermometer is reading 100 degrees outside!

It's hot outside...

My local Red Cross is setting up a "cooling center" today because our heat index is suppose to be from 100 degrees to 110 degrees. Be sure and check on your friends and the elderly in this heat. I remember my Great Aunt would always sit with the windows closed and when I would turn on the air conditioning she would wait until I left and then turn it back off again. That's what happens when you have been through the depression.

So let's look out for one another! And keep cool!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Can you remember doing this as a kid?







Eventually Koda peeled off his pullup and went "a La Natural" but mom wouldn't let me put any of those pictures up on the blog.
Good place as any to dry the underwear after playing in the sprinkler. What a fun way to beat the heat!
Do you remember running through the sprinkler when you were a kid? Some things never change!

It's all about the well...

Grandson Caleb had been working up at the barn helping his dad with the combine when a trip to the farm store was in need of. So Tool Belt Jim took advantage of the opportunity and had him help him run the wire and pipe for the well. We have a drilled well on the property and want to use it as an alternate source of water. Will need to get it tested but if all else fails, we can water the animals and the garden with it and save on our water bill. Just another way to prepare for hard times. Have your own water supply available if possible.







Thursday, June 11, 2009


A small tornado touched down on the Hines' property in northeastern Vernon County Wednesday evening -- twice, tearing into the Hines' wheat field and damaging some trees and headstones at a nearby cemetery. Mildred Hines said she's glad no one was hurt, and said witnessing a tornado for the first time in her life was an experience of a lifetime. --Photo courtesy Mildred Hines"The thing that really amazes me is that when I was watching how powerful that cloud was it reminded me of God, and how almighty powerful He is."


This is where my sister stopped her car and got out to watch the tornado. Probably the same swirling, boiling cloud my daughter and I watched from our house also. But at that time it was just starting to form.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Storms Just Keep Coming...



Boy are we getting pounded by storms. On Tuesday while working in the Red Cross office the storm sirens went off forcing us all to go downstairs. Since the Red Cross office is located in our local bank of course the most logical place to put us all was in the vault. Here's our local Disaster Action Team captain and our Chapter Director waiting out the sirens. Of course I'm taking the pictures.

We're having a good time but we are taking this seriously.


However, some of us kept wondering around and pressing our noses against the windows so we could watch the ever blackening skies. Luckily there was no damage done even though funnel clouds were spotted all around us.





Then today we went under a severe thunderstorm watch and about ten minutes after my daughter came down to the house we noticed really strange looking clouds just boiling and swirling above us. I had my scanner on and was listening as spotters were telling of funnel clouds dipping in and out of the sky a few miles from us. I think there was a total of 4 or 5 different tornadoes spotted this evening. My sister said she could see the tornado from town and as she got closer to her home she could tell she was driving right into it. So she pulled over at a friends house and watched it go right over the top of them.




Was a pretty exciting evening here in our small town. Thankfully, we again suffered no damage in our area. You can certainly tell it is the month of June and in the midst of tornado season.




You all take care and when severe thunderstorm warnings come over the weather channel don't think it is not a big deal because they can go into full blown tornado's without any warning. I certainly will perk up a little faster from here on out!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to make a chicken tractor by Tool Belt Jim

What in tarnation is a chicken tractor? A chicken with big tires on its back legs?(buzzer sounds) wrong answer. Two chickens barreling at each other on tractors waiting to see who will give first?(buzzer sounds) wrong again. Its a movable chicken coop! yep that simple.
I stopped by the local lumber yard( I know I have a Sawmill) and there was a pile of 2x4's and 2x6's out front and I asked the price and they said $1.00 per stick. Well I sucked them up like a Kansas tornado in a trailer court. So this is the frame that sits on the ground. I made it 3' by 9' because that is how long the 2x4's were. I have $ 5.00 in lumber cost in these'.

Here are the sides and top. pretty simple
I ran out of hinges so I used the old outhouse latch system. The hole is to put my finger through to open it
The wire has been installed and the roost is ready for chicken feet
The white stuff is material they use on billboards. It will last 10 years and is waterproof and impossible to tear and it was free. I left it up the sides a little for air circulation.
Here are the Bantams. ( Bantys) . I think these are my favorite chickens. I am hoping the big chickens will get used to the little ones being in the pen and quit pecking them. Then I can let them out of their little prison.

Here is the traumatized rooster that a friend gave me. The hens were pretty tough on him. I found him hiding in the corner of the chicken house (the Cluck Mahal) with his head stuck behind a 2x4. I wasn't ready for him to do his roostering stuff yet so I will keep him separated.
So there is my story for the blog.
Tool Belt Jim

Steve's first speech for Speech class

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Good friends, Good times...

We invited some old friends and their kids and grand-kids over tonight for hot dogs, homemade ice cream and fishing down at the pond. It was a beautiful evening and we had a wonderful time. We have been friends for almost 30 years and sometimes we forget to take time out of our busy schedules to make memories and spend time with those we love.

And it gave our grand-kids a chance to get better acquainted.





First on the agenda was eating. We kept it simple by making hot dogs and chips and topped it off with three flavors of home-made ice cream. Can't beat that!

Isn't that sweet? They're holding hands. The kids loved the sprinkler. Remember running through the sprinkler when you were little. Lots of fun with little or no money involved.






This little champion was in charge of the water spigot at the house. Is he enjoying himself do you think? When the other kids got close to the sprinkler he would turn it up full blast.
Then we all headed down to the pond to try our hand at fishing. It was nice and breezy and just right to enjoy an evening outside.

My son lifted up the boat and sure enough they found a snake underneath it. Some thought it was poisonous and some didn't know so....
out came the old machete which Mike was in charge of. My thoughts were more on whether my son was going to lose a foot in the process.

This is Noah with his Grandma Jane. I think they are teaching each other fishing techniques.

Looks like they caught one.
The dock was a popular place to sit.


My grandson Koda was happy to sit on the truck bed and drink his pop.

Rob's wife Christy caught a fish too. Or she was taking it off the line after one of her kids caught it. Not sure which.
Officer Tim was kept busy taking fish off hooks. Catching the fish was more exciting than getting it off the hook!
And I picked this bicycle up at a garage sale for $10.00. Works great to zip down to the pond from the house. Good exercise too!

Jane hadn't been fishing since she was a teen-ager. Just enjoying the simple things in life which we usually never do!
And this is Mike and Jane's youngest. I still call him Andrew Boy even though he's not a boy anymore. But he humors me on it. My daughter and he would build tents together when they were little.
My daughter didn't want anyone to know it was her birthday today. She is now 26. Time is moving right along.
Good friends, good food, good fun. Life is good. Remember to stay in touch with old friends and spend time enjoying the simple things with them. Not everyone can say they have had the same friends for 30 years. I am so thankful you guys are my friends and we had a great time didn't we?
Prov. 18:24 "a man that hath friends must shew himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother"
Prov. 17:7 "a friend loves at all times..."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

More chickens...

While I was at my CPR class today Tool Belt Jim went to a poultry swap. He came home with some banty chickens that he paid $1.00 each for. Look at those weird feathers around their feet. Never seen that before!
Makes me want to get out my scissors and do some trimming!




He also picked up a couple "silkies", think that is what he called them. I think as they get older their top-knots will get more distinct.

Aren't they beautiful? Think they are still pretty young though.



Only problem is the little banty hen has a problem and keeps pecking the little silkies. But when Tool Belt Jim took her and put her in the big chicken house, the bigger chickens started pecking her. So he had to separate all of them. Think that is where the phrase "establishing the pecking order" came from?