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.