Good Impulse Buys

IMG_4090 Peaches

A Taste of Summer

I have to admit…..I can be an impulse buyer. The stuff the stores put on the end caps of their aisles draws my eye and sometimes causes me to open my pocketbook and dig a little deeper so that I can purchase it.

Last week I made a quick stop in our local grocery store and discovered they had lugs of fresh peaches standing there…..right where I could not miss them. I love peaches. I love fresh peaches, frozen peaches, peach pie, peaches on ice cream, peaches in smoothies…..peaches.

I found myself walking out of the store with a box of peaches. Of course.  I knew when I saw those peaches that at least one box would be going home with me. (I must also confess I picked up another box a few days later!)

From that first box of peaches I ended up with 19 pints of canned peach halves. I would have ended up with more, but we just could not resist having some fresh, sugared peaches over vanilla ice cream.

IMG_4083 Canned Peaches

Stocking the Shelves for Winter

When I was done filling my jars with peach halves; I was left with a bowl of peach pits and peels. I remembered that last year I had attempted peach pit jam and it turned out beautifully…..it also tasted great on toast or ice cream.

I decided I would give it a try again. I could not find the recipe I had used last year but I found another one that seemed comparable. (If I would organize…maybe I would have my recipes when I needed them!) I did tweak it because I wanted to water bath can it, as I do not have enough room in my freezer to store jelly. Here is the link if you want to follow the freezer jelly directions: that Susan Williams

For those of you concerned about cyanide with peach pits, I have been assured that it is so minimal that it would not matter. (I do not use the cracked pits as they say the cyanide traces are in the seed inside.) I also washed my peaches prior to canning with Young Living Thieves Fruit and Veggie Soak as I did not purchase organic peaches and I really didn’t want all the stuff they spray fruit with, to end up in my jelly.

Here is the adjusted recipe that I used:

Peach Pit Jelly

Yields approximately 8 jelly jars

Ingredients:
Peach pits and peels from a lug of peaches
water to cover peels and pits
1 box + 1 Tablespoon Sure Jell low sugar recipe pectin (the pink box)
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Instruction:
Peel and slice peaches, reserving pits and peels in a pan.
Cover peels and pits with enough water to just cover and bring to a boil.
Let them steep, covered, for 8 hours or overnight.
Drain liquid through cheesecloth or flour sack towel.
Measure out 4 cups of liquid and pour into large pot. (it may boil over)
Bring peach liquid to a boil and stir in the pectin.
Whisk and boil for approximately 3 minutes to dissolve any lumps of pectin.
Add 4 cups sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice.
Boil jelly till it comes to a temperature of 220º.
(I boiled for 4 minutes- stir constantly)

Pour into jelly jars, put on lids and rings and
process in water bath for 10-15 minutes.
(Can also be frozen instead of canning.)

I have also been told that if your jelly fails to set; you can open your jars, bring to a boil again and add another Tablespoon of pectin per each quart of liquid you have. Once you boil that for 3 minutes, again put in jars, (with new lids) and reseal.

IMG_4089 Peach Jelly

Summer in a Jar

I have not opened a jar yet so I cannot say how it tastes…but it smelled wonderful as I was stirring that potful of jelly! I may have to crack open a jar tomorrow just to check the flavor.  I will let you know how it turned out when I open one of those jars.

It is always fun to can the produce but it is also fun to start using those jars. It is a win win no matter which way you look at it.

And now I am wondering….what is your favorite thing to can or freeze? Do you like doing fruit best or vegetables? Do you have a favorite recipe to share….because if you do..please feel free to leave it in the comments so we can all give it a try!

 

An apple is an excellent thing —
until you have tried a peach.

Mountaintops and Valleys

I was reminded today, reading blog posts,  that not everyone is celebrating something fun, exciting and wonderful. Some are grieving and remembering a last year that has been filled with pain and sadness. My heart goes out to those living in the valley.

I am not sure what I can do to help. Sometimes there are no words to share…..nothing one can do to ease the hurt. I think at those times a hug, an acknowledgement that we don’t have the answers, and a big sigh might be all we can offer….and it will be enough.

The song that I posted above is one of my all time favorites. The first time I heard it was at a Christian Women’s Retreat at Inspiration Hills. It stuck in my head and took root in my heart.

The words are amazing and provide a wonderful sense of hope. They give strength to get through the tough times because of the hope of what is to come. There is great hope in the promise of eternal life.

The story behind this song is as follows:

“I lost one of my best friends over the weekend, to cancer.  Pastor Mark Steele was a man who absolutely poured his life into loving God and shepherding people.  We will miss him beyond words.  Corinne’s and my heart are with his family and his church.  I’m posting this lyric from a song I wrote years ago, as a tribute to Mark, as he moves from life to Life, and as a reminder to all of us of the hope we can hold.” ~ Greg Ferguson (author of this song)

 

what a day it will be


what a day it’s gonna be
when as last your captive heart beats free
and all that is within you sings
in heaven’s own harmony
sweet release from all your darkest fears
the sound of laughter that’s been lost for years
you’ll never cry another lonely tear
as your sad heart finally
finally sings

hallelujah
what a day it will be

all those angels that you’ve never seen
watching over you behind the scenes
will at last have reached their goal
presenting you restored and whole
just watch the Father laugh and smile
lifting up His joyful child
and hear the host of heaven sing
in a sweet and soulful angel choir singing

hallelujah

what a day it will be
 
hallelujah
what a day it will be

even now in the in between
we could write it off as an impossible dream
but it’s more than a dream to me
’cause even now i can see
enough to believe

So for those of you who are finding life to be a tough place to be. May you be comforted by the lyrics. May you feel the grace of the Father as He places His arms around you and may there be friends and family who will be Jesus “with skin on” to you” this weekend.

For those of us who have been celebrating. May we open our eyes to those around us. May we open our arms to those who need that hug and may we be a blessing to someone who needs to feel blessed.

Your life is made up of two dates and a dash.
Make the most of the dash.
Unknown

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Baby Celebrations

IMG_4031 Opening Gifts

Sometimes things in life do not go quite as planned. We had this experience this past Sunday. We had planned for a beautiful sunny day to hold a Baby Celebration for my son and daughter-in-law and our soon to come grandson. What we got was a day that started out drizzly.

We had planned to set up tables and chairs outside and have everything ready to go by 11:00, so we could get started on the grilling of burgers and hot dogs.  What we got was drizzling till about 10:45, waiting till 11:00 to make sure it really was done dripping all over, and then scrambling to get things set up outdoors so we would be ready for the guests. We had planned to have this be a casual event; and it was a casual event so that went according to plan!

Lots of prayers were sent up, on my part, for there to be a couple hour break in the drippiness.  (I struggled with that prayer as we really need the rain in this area.) We did get a break and it was long enough to fit in everything we needed to.

The day, while not warm and sunny, was a wonderful day of celebration. Lots of laughter, joking, playing games (Corn Hole and Badminton) and opening gifts. It was a wonderful day to celebrate life, family, friends, and the celebration of a new life on the way.

 

There was plenty of food for everyone….(though the frozen fruit cup was a little bit chilly for the day). Grilled burgers and hot dogs, salads and a S’more table, more than made up for the slightly damp atmosphere.

 

We decided that we would still have our homemade root beer and floats. (It was National Root Beer Float Day on Sunday so we needed those floats!) They were great with the S’mores and no one seemed to mind having a chilly dessert.

 

I had bought the duck a few years back at a garage sale. At the time I purchased it I thought it was a floaty for a pool. I found out later it was a blow up baby bathtub! I am really glad I found a great use for it at the party. It made a great root beer and water bottle holder. (I must thank the mom-to-be for taking pictures of the set up…..I had totally forgotten!)

There was lots of mingling and catching up with family and friends during the afternoon. It was a time to retell old family stories and make new ones. I may be the mom of sons…but I am blessed by the women they have brought into our family! They were the drive behind the planning, food and decorations.

We did have a really good laugh when my daughter-in-law shared that my grandson had been quizzing them on their way here about what happens at a baby shower. He was firmly convinced that this was the day the baby would arrive and we were all going to be together to witness the birth and have a huge celebration! He wanted to know all the whens, whys, and whats on how that was going to happen. I am not sure what they actually told him…but it still makes me grin.

In the end….the day was perfect in it’s weather imperfection. It was a celebration that did not hinge on circumstances like foggy damp rain. It did not hinge on “if everything went according to plan”. In the end…the day did go as planned….people had fun, we celebrated and we enjoyed being together.

It was a day that celebrated family, life, new beginnings and love.  It was a day that celebrated blessings and what they really are. When it all comes down to it I guess that is what really matters…..and it was good.

 

The best times are always found
when friends and family gather round.
Unknown

If you so choose,
even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities.
If you so choose,
you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.
Ralph Marston

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ralphmarst564358.html?src=t_unexpected

Strawberry Pie and Fellowship

IMG_4017 Fresh Strawberry Pie.JPG

Our weather has been absolutely beautiful lately. The rains have missed us, which is not good,but temperature-wise we are cooler than normal for this time of year. That is a welcome relief after the hot, sweltering weeks we have just had.

The weather was also perfect for a picnic the other night! Our care group in church was invited by another care group from church to come to a picnic…..all we had to do was bring our own lawn chairs, make a treat to share and show up.

I decided to make a fresh strawberry pie to take along for our treat. This decision was made easy by the fact that our local grocery stores had an amazing sale of fresh strawberries.

When I told my husband that I was making pie he got kind of a hang-dog look on his face. He then questioned me why I was making pie to bring somewhere else. I assured him I had planned to make two so one could stay home for him!

The recipe I used comes from a cookbook I received as a bridal shower gift over 37 years ago. I am pretty sure it was also the one my mom-in-law always used and her Strawberry Pies were always the best!

I will share the recipe with you and I think you will find it very easy to make and pretty much no-fail….which is the best kind of recipe.

Fresh Strawberry Pie
Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oleo or butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Mix and pat into pie plate.
Brown at 350º  for 20 minutes.
Filling:
2 1/2 cup strawberries (about 1 pound)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 heaping Tablespoon cornstarch
3 Tablespoon Jello(not sugar-free)
Blend sugar, cornstarch, and jello in saucepan.
Slowly add water while using whisk.
Boil till clear, stirring continually.
Let cool.
Mix well with strawberries and pour into baked pie shell.
Refrigerate till firmly set.
NOTE: If you want Fresh Peach Pie; you can use about 7 fresh peaches and 3 Tablespoons peach jello.   I have done this and it is also amazing.

 

The pie was a hit at the picnic and was just one of the many tasty treats that were available that night. The food was great, but the evening of games and fellowship was truly a gift.  It was a blessing to visit with fellow church members of all ages. It was fun to see everyone, young and old, enjoying themselves on a beautiful summer evening.

One of the games we played was a lawn game called Kubb (or Viking Chess). It was a lot of fun and challenging. It is kind of hard to explain so I am posting a link where it not only tells you how to play, but how to make your own set!  This Old House   (I am thinking I need to try make one of these.)

I have decided I will never be a tournament quality player of that game ( I would actually say my level of playing is substandard!), but it didn’t really matter…..fortunately.  I think my skills are probably more in the pie and food making category.

When it comes to food and food making….I love to use the old cookbooks that I have used for years. I love the fact that those old recipes have been tested by time and were used years ago by women who wanted to feed their families and others with wonderful tasty food.

There is something comforting about using an old cookbook.  The pages are tattered around the edges (at least mine are), there are spots on those pages from splatters while mixing a recipe and there is writing by the really good recipes so you know which ones to use and how you should maybe alter it.

Life can be the same way…..there is comfort in the familiar even though it is tattered and worn. Our lives can be splattered with the things that have happened to us. We show that we have been used by life and made it through. We are a testimony to faithfulness and a richness of the blessing that becomes more valuable with the passing of time.

May you live your life in such a way that your life is a “recipe” for others to follow…..perhaps a little frayed….a little splattered….but still blessed.


Your lives are a letter written in our hearts;
everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.
2 Corinthians 3:2b
New Living Translation

 

 


 

 

 

 

Old Barns and Grace

 

IMG_3967 Old Barn

The other Sunday afternoon my husband and I went for a little motorcycle ride through the countryside. We love to take the back roads and just see what there is to look at.

This particular Sunday afternoon found us on a gravel road, which I am pretty sure I would not be able to find again! We happened upon a barn in the middle of a growing field of corn and bordered with soybeans.

Against the odds this barn remains standing. I have no idea when this barn was built but I have a feeling it has survived and withstood years of storms, high winds, burning sun, gnawing animals and anything else that time has thrown it’s way.

IMG_3955 The Vulture Leaves

As we looked at the front of the barn we noticed a vulture roosting in the open door of the haymow. As we ventured closer the vulture decided we were just too scary and decided to fly away.

IMG_3963 Barn Doors

The open door just seemed to beckon us to come in…..so we did. Inside it looked as if time had stood still.  The wood stanchions were still in place as if they were patiently waiting for those cows to come home for milking time. It looked as if this barn was in use when cows were milked by hand.

IMG_3964 Still Waiting for the Cows to Come Home

There was still some type of gear hanging by a window in the barn. The animals that it was needed for are long gone and the gear itself probably long forgotten by it’s owners.

IMG_3960 Old Gear

For some reason there was a tea cup standing on a shelf. It made me wonder if the farmer brought his tea or coffee out to the barn with him on those cold mornings. It would have been a great way to warm his hands before picking up cold galvanized pails and milking stools.IMG_3965 Cups from the Past

There was still hay up in the haymow. If you shut your eyes you could almost hear the excitement of children as they crawled through that hay in search of a batch of newborn kittens. The faint sound of laughter echoed through the years as those same kids must have swung from the haymow rope, let go and landed in the mounds of new straw.

That barn brought back memories for my husband of growing up and making tunnels with the bales of hay and straw. As an adult the thought of that, kind of makes me cringe and worry about those tunnels collapsing. Children definitely don’t let fear rule their fun!

The barn stood like a testament to perseverance. A silent witness to the changing landscape of farming. I was glad to see it standing as so many barns are being burned, leveled and disappearing from our countryside.

The barn was beautiful in it’s disrepair. It was beautiful with it’s siding turned to gray. It was beautiful just because it was there.  The old barn was a good reminder of grace.

It was good to be reminded that we are beautiful with our imperfections. We are beautiful even though we no longer feel useful. When it comes to grace…….. just being is enough.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV