Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making time.....for Apple Jelly Making

Apple Jelly....mmmmm....a family favorite.  It is fairly easy to make and is a great use for apples that get wrinkled ;)  Plus, impressive gift giving!

Start by quartering 8 to 10 apples, removing the stems and flower (fuzzy, leafy) ends.....seeds are okay.  Fill your crock pot with apples and water.  At this point, I add cinnamon or jalapenos, depending on the taste I am going after.

This time cinnamon was the chosen spice.  My goal is to get two batches of jelly out of this one huge crockpot of yumminess!
Turn your pot onto high and let the apples cook for about 4 hours.  About 2-3 hours in, mash them with a potato masher, then finish cooking.  Right about now, the smell is going to be driving you nutty!  Who needs a cinnamon apple candle??

Now, strain the apple juice from the apples.  You can use a jelly strainer or cheese cloth. 
 (Sorry, no pics...kinds forgot to grab the camera!)

After straining the juice, you can either proceed with the jelly making, or save the juice in the fridge (day or two) or the freezer for when you have the time to make the jelly.

Assemble your canning supplies.

Following the directions on your pectin package is the best way to proceed.

Jars are in the hot water bath, sterilizing.
Below, sugar has been added to the juice & pectin....waiting for the boil.

Boil for 1 minute....then pour into jars and process in a hotwater bath.


10 minutes in a hot water bath.  Now....some recipes say to skip this step.  It comes down to personal preference.  I have it done both ways.  However, my daughter makes jellies and jams for 4-H, and a hotwater bath is required for judging.  I also feel better about the sealing process.

Isn't it beautiful????

I always have a small glass container handy for the amount that won't fit into jars.  Plus, who can wait to sample it?  Kids are going to be excited when they get home from school today.

As mentioned, I do also make jalapeno apple jelly.  It makes the BEST sauce for meatballs!

Now.....time to make time for the hard part.....eating the jelly!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Making Time.....for tree #2

As promised, tree number 2 :)

Our basement tree is a hand-me-down.  We love it anyway.  Branches are funky and the tree has a tendency to lean....no matter how much my hubby fiddles with it.
The best part of our basement family room tree?  Hands down...the shotgun shell lights.  I mean, really, how fun is that?!?!
A couple of years ago at a "craft fair" I bought a set from my brother, laughing and giggling the whole time!  He hangs them on his front porch every year....and I secretly think he smiles while he's hanging them!
Last year for a 4-H demonstration, my 3rd daughter figured out how to make them (with her dad's help) using an old "shell reloader".  We gave them as gifts.  This year I started selling them.  People ALWAYS smile when they see them.  Then, they laugh when they think of that certain person to give them to.  Then they giggle more as they buy them.  Soooo much fun!
Well, here they are on our well loved tree.
To complete the look, I have ripped strips of cotton red country gingham and tie it onto the tree.  And a bow at the top.  The rest of the material is used as a tree skirt.
Add some silver bells, pine cones, candy canes, and some "country-style" ornaments, and you have a our family room tree.

Here's a fun pic showing the light lit.  However, they really are not that bright in real time.  The camera seemed to capture more of the light, and less of the shotgun shell.

On with the day.....making time for apple jelly today.  Details to follow soon on that.  Plus, I have one more tree...the kid friendly one.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Making time....for a decorating our Christmas Tree

This year, I decided to have some fun and do something different with my Christmas Tree.  I saw an article about using a galvanized metal tub for a Christmas tree stand. (sorry....can't remember where) Well.....that got my mind rolling!

What if....what if I placed our tall skinny tree in a tub and then placed it on my grandma's trunk?  How cool would that be!  Oh, yeah....that's the look!

But what to do for ornaments?  Hmmmmmm.......

How about cookie cutters and stamped paper?

Would have loved to have done antique cookie cutter, but.....
these will do just fine :)

I pulled out all my Christmas stamps, some brown paper and red ink.
The natural string adds to it :)

My youngest daughter added the candy canes for the finishing touch.

And....here's the finished product.

Stay tuned.....I have two more trees to decorate.  One is all about the family ornaments, ones that were gifts and others the kids have made as school projects throughout the years.  And the other tree, well....it includes shotgun shell Christmas lights!

Remember, the Christmas season is all about Making Time for family.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Making time......for cleaning the storage room

I don't know about your house, but in my house, the word "clean" brings about fits, fighting, yelling, screaming, and tantrums (and that is just me!  You should see what the kids do!)

After running errands w/ my hubby on Saturday morning, I suggested that we spend 20 minutes attacking the storage room.  He agreed.  Then promptly disappeared for some "other" chores!  My kids were hungry for lunch....I told them they could wait until we were done.  (Any form of motivation!) 

So, painting messes were attacked and craft paint sorted.  The X-box station was organized.  Halloween decorations were boxed, labeled and shelved.  The food shelves were organized.  Luggage found its homes.  Empty boxes were hauled out.  Special saved items were sent to the recycling!  And we survived.  And the kids were fed lunch before they "starved to death!"

Below are some after pics.  Believe me, you don't want to see the before....and I really don't want to remember them!  LOL


Yes, that is our only Xbox in the house.  And it is old.  And connected to an even older tv.

My "pantry" in the storage room.  Anyone need an old tv?

The rumors were correct....peanut butter did go up by about 40%.  We love our Jiff.  I stocked up before the price went up ;)

I love how much happier I am every time I walk into this room!  And all we did was make the time to get it done.

On a side note.....I finished purchasing fabric for a quilt I am making for my oldest daughter.  We shall see if final results are posted ;)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Making time.....for imagination!

I have to tell you about the creative surprise I found in my family room this morning.  I'm not sure who created it, but I'm guessing it was my son.  He took two body pillows, a blanket, a motorcycle game, and a light sabor.  Check out what he made!

Is this not the best!!??
Check out the discarded superhero cape!  I LOVE it!!!

If you are wondering where the light sabor is, check out this view, paying attention to the rear end.
Tail pipe?  Just a tail?  Storage because you never know when you will need a light sabor?

Oh, the true joy it brings my heart when I see things like this!  In this world of xbox, computers, ipods, etc......making time for imagination is the best!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Making time....for carving pumpkins

As promised.....our pumpkin carving adventure :)
We started off with our utensils and several pumpkins.

I decided I would attempt the creative "D".  The others were going for a more traditional jack-o-lantern look.
First step was to cut the tops (which I did on three of the 4 pumpkins....16 year old can do her own!)
Next was the removal of the guts!

Slimey hands!!


Loving the mess!!

My 16 year old chose a pie pumpkin cuz she wanted a "cute" jack-o-lantern.  She got a mess!  LOL

My 10 year old daughter wanted the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds.  I let her sort them out :)  She is excited to have them after school today!

Results in the light.
And below....in the dark.

 Top one was carved by my sweet 10 year old, the left by my 7 year old (w/ very little help!) and the middle by my 16 year old.  I did the "D".

What a fun project to make time for!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Making time......for bread, birthdays and parties

Um....Wow!  Where has the week gone?  

One of our family fall favorites is pumpkin bread....especially straight from the OVEN!  UM....YUM!  Melted butter on a slice equals pure heaven!

The empty plate says it all!  I made three loaves.  They were gone in 1.5 days!

This week also held my baby boy's 7th birthday!  And a volleyball banquet that required a dessert....double whammy!  Made a huge "dirt" dessert....most of which went to the banquet, but an 8X8 pan of it managed to get candles to blow out :)

SEVEN YEARS OLD!  My baby boy :)

When a boy turns 7, there must be a party :)  And cupcakes (with green slime filling!) for school!  Monster cookies greeted the boys as they came home from school and rode bikes and ate pizza.  Beautiful afternoon of fun.

Then, there is Halloween.  When our oldest daughter was a freshman, we let her have a Halloween party.  Therefore, daughter number two, a freshman, got a huge Halloween party this year.  We spent Saturday decorating the garage and creating a "Haunted House" in the fort we built in our hedge row.  The whole family got involved.....16 year old zombie, 10 year old witch, 7 year old zombie, and a 42 year old maniac with a strobe light and chainsaw!  More cupcakes with green slime filling, other snacks, and a bonfire made the whole event a success :)  Pictures would have been great.....sometimes you get caught up in the fun, and forget the camera.  Life is good!

A great week of Making Time....for so much!
Up next.....pumpkin carving!  After all, Halloween is tomorrow :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making time....for climbing trees

We headed to the farm to celebrate my dad's birthday.  While there, my son asked me what tree I climbed while growing up.  I showed him.....and the climbing and memories began.
Of course, his cousins followed, his uncle helped out...and shared his own "getting stuck in the tree" memories.  Pretty soon, all five of my children and their two cousins were enjoying the tree as well.
Was a great day...for making time to climb trees.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Making Time....for cookies and cupcakes

Tomorrow we head to the farm to celebrate my dad's 71st birthday. 
He LOVES my chocolate chip cookies. 
(Sometimes I think that is the only reason he keeps me around!  oh, and the grand kids!)

So today, I made his cookies :) 

Last weekend I made peanut butter cup cupcakes to take to my in laws. 
My brother found out (the magic of Facebook!)  and wondered where his were. 
So, peanut butter cup cupcakes were made as well.

I just made normal devils food cupcakes, inserted peanut butter buttercream frosting from the top with a pastry bag and large tip, fluffed some canned (gasp!) frosting and piped that on top. 
My helper unwrapped the peanut butter cups and placed them on top. 
Last week we used full size peanut butter cups, cut in half, placed with the cut side down. 
Artistically, I like last week's cupcakes better. 
 (However, I was just glad the 16 year old who ran the errand to get the peanut butter cups made it home without the bag being opened!  Her 6 year old brother was her co-pilot!)

And just where is that maid?

Guess I better go make time......for the dishes :)

Amy's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream together:
1/2 cup butter room temp
1/2 cup crisco
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
Mix in:
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
Stir in:
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bake at 375 on preheated baking stone for 11 minutes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Making time.....for the corn maze

Groupons are great!  Save you money....when you use them!
My hubby bought a groupon to the local corn maze, knowing that we usually like to take the kids and go in the fall.  October 16, the expiration date, came around on Sunday.   So we made time and went to the corn maze.

As the corn maze closed at 7 on a Sunday night, we went at sunset.  A beautiful evening, finding our way through the mazes.  Different kids leading at different times....hubby and I following.

As rain was scarce this summer, the corn was shorter, thinner, and easy to peek through (thus the ribbons lining the paths).

Always fun to have the posed "head through the hole".....even more fun with they actually have enough holes for my 5 kids!

Making time.....for the corn maze :)

Making time....to get started blogging

Um....wow!  Getting started on this blogging adventure is quite the....adventure!  I am learning as I go and have a long way to go.  My hope is that I shall soon have this figured out and have some fun "Making Time".