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Sunday, June 19, 2022

Little and Big Foxes

 Hello dear friends!  Sorry for being gone so long.  Seems like the past month has been one thing after another.   Big and little foxes.  Plus getting the garden in.  Are you having strange weather this summer?  It's 58 degrees today, but only a few days ago it was in the 90s.  We go from one extreme to another.  I guess that is what the Grand Solar Minimum is supposed to be all about, but it certainly makes for unusual gardening.  Even the plants are confused.  Phlox usually blooms in late summer here, but here is a patch that bloomed in late May!

Even stranger is that I didn't plant them there, they simply reseeded themselves from elsewhere.  My flowerbeds have a way of recreating themselves.  I can never tell what or where things are going to appear, but one thing I am none too happy about is that I have asters everywhere this year.  I have spent more time pulling them along with forget-me-nots than I ever have before.  But one thing I have discovered about myself that yanking weeds is very therapeutic.  Unawares to me, my husband snapped this picture of me in the garden:

It seems to be a very familiar sight these days.  Well, anyway the garden is in! Yep, we still have to wear heavy sweaters here.
Now the hoping, praying and weeding begins! You may not believe it, but we have peppers and tomatoes already appearing.  But on the other hand, I do not believe our corn will be knee high by the Fourth of July, as I said, it is a strange year. 

Jam Making Time

We are in a battle to beat the birds, rabbits and deer to gather our fruit before they get ahold of it.  Managed to get enough strawberries for a batch of jam.  And the other day we spied blueberries on sale at our Walmart for $2/lb. Unheard of! Couldn't resist picking up enough to make a batch of jam.  It was so good, I decided to make a second batch, but unfortunately when I returned to the store, they were now $4/lb.  We will have to treasure what we made.

Jam making is my least favorite canning chore.  Too sticky!  But we love our jam.  Rather than have baked goods, we eat a lot of jam on toast or graham crackers.  Jam making is an imprecise science, so many variables.  If you want to get good at you have to learn about sheeting.  When you are boiling your fruit and sugar let it drip off of the spoon, if it drips quickly and one drip at a time it isn't ready.  When it starts to drip off of the spoon two drips at a time and slowly, it's getting close, so start paying closer attention.  When those two drips sort of merge together, that's sheeting and the jam is ready to be bottled.  You can double check if it's ready by putting a plate in the freezer  and dropping a bit of the jam on it. Pop it back into the freezer for a few seconds, then run your finger through the jam.  If it doesn't try to run back together, but stays separated it's ready.  Anway, here's my recipe for Strawberry Preserves:

Strawberry Preserves

1 quart of stemmed, firm red-ripe strawberries
5 cups sugar
1/2 cup  of real lemon juice (do not use that bottle stuff)

Leave small berries whole, but cut up larger berries into rather large pieces
Combine berries and sugar and let stand for 3-4 hours.
Bring slowly to boiling, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly for anywhere from 10-15 minutes, until thick.
Add lemon juice a continue boiling  until jam sheets.
Process 15 minutes in sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace in a boiling water bath.

Or you could go the easy route and just use pectin and the recipe that comes with the instructions. Ha!
These are preserves.  Preserves are larger pieces of fruit suspended in jelly.  Jam is crushed fruit and jelly uses only the juice of the fruit to make a clear, well, jelly.

On The Creative Front

In between being on the phone to banks, credit card centers, and post offices(sigh) I've managed to get a few, but not as many as I'd like, projects finished.  

I knitted this shawl, which was a kit from 

It's a super easy pattern, that any beginner could knit. And a great take-along project because the pattern is so easy to remember.

The skirt is a simple gathered skirt, but of course I can't make a simple skirt, can I?  I have to complicate it by adding pintucks that you can't see at the bottom, felling the seems, making lined buttonholes and covered buttons (they are my  signature).  I also made the waist higher and rearranged the pleats so they were more gathered at the back, because even though I'm ample enough from behind, these style of skirts tend to give me a very flat big bayview, as father used to call it. Here's a close-up of the back (mind you I haven't pressed it yet):
I love this fabric.   Reminds me of the early Laura Ashley fabrics, way back when her shop was a little cottage industry.  I still have to hem it.  Then I want to get back to finishing a quilt and work on some autumnal things.  There's plenty more I could write, but shan't bore you any further. Just wanted to write a little something to let you all know I hadn't forgotten about you.  Hope you all have a lovely week ahead and please remember to take time everyday to do something you enjoy!