Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Break out the PB & J! It's school-time!

Because I didn't win any of the summer auctions for Core 300 on Ebay, I was delayed in ordering our schoolbooks brand new (OUCH$$$) from the publisher. But they finally arrived and school has started! That's "Pudd" (as in Pudding) in the photo with our FedEx delivery. She's not the only one who is a little disappointed that summer is over!

We all know that with school comes PB & J sandwiches. Guess what! I tried my hand at jelly making for the first time last week. My next door neighbor has a mulberry tree just dripping with bunches of grapes. Huh? Well, previous tenents of that home planted grape vines and they have since been uncared for and have grown up wild inside the adjacent mulberry tree!

Well, my son and I took a few minutes to pick some bunches and brought in a couple of plastic grocery bags 1/2 full. I plucked and washed the grapes then went to the internet to google for recipes. Here is what I used: http://www.pickyourown.org/grapejelly.htm

That recipe called for 5 lbs of grapes and I only had 2! Oh, well. I figured I'd just cut the recipe in half...or so...I'm not too good at math.

The first thing to do was mash up the grapes.

The next thing to do was boil them and mash them some more.

Then you get this gross purple paste that you have to seive the juice from. WARNING: Any drop of this splashed on your 1940's antique red & white inlaid formica table will stain it! Yikes! Wipe it quick!

You should now have 5 cups of pure organic grape juice...well, I only had 1.25 measley cups. But that didn't stop me! I was gonna make this work!

Next you put the juice back in the pot and add some pectin. I figured about 1/2 a box would do. Then add the sugar. The recipe called for 7 cups sugar added to 5 cups of juice and that sounded to me a bit much. So I did some quick ratios in my head, ("Hmmm, let's see...7:5....2:1 1/4 ...ya, that sounds about right...") and poured about 2 cups of sugar into the bubbling mix. It got nice and gooey and I poured it into two little jelly jars that someone gave me last year. I DID sterilize them in the dishwasher.

I screwed the metal lids on them and let them cool before putting them in the fridge.

Now take a look at my breakfast this morning!

Isn't it lovely?! And it tastes as good as Welch's! OK...It didn't come out perfectly...it's more like sticky jam than jelly, but it spreads wonderfully! When I told this story to my friend Jennifer, whom I affectionately call "Martha Stewart", she kept interrupting me saying, "You can't DO that! You can't DO that!" Well, I did. Now where's my peanut butter?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New Porch!

We are working on the porch! It is not complete but here are some photos of it in progress. The ceiling still needs to be replaced; new cement steps will be pored (as soon as Gustav passes through...); and the rails still need a little work. But notice the nice little corbels that my 85 year old uncle made especially for me! :) It will all be so homey with a coat or two of white paint! Click on any photo to enlarge.

The above two photos are BEFORE pictures. There were two "posts" which consisted of 1x4 boards nailed up around existing rotten posts. When we pulled off the boards we found what looks like original posts. They even had a teensy bit of original black paint on some of the rings! I'd love to have them displayed or used somewhere inside. Any ideas?

When I was working on the house last week, I noticed a car come by. Twice he just sat there, once in front of the house and then on the side street (we are on the corner.) As I looked closer, the sign on his car door said County Assessor... Boy, with all the activity on our little place, the tax-man is chompin' at the bit! Anyway, I went out to say "Hi" and see what was up. He was nice and said he was just making the rounds in the neighborhood. (Uh-huh...) He let me look at the file he had on the cottage. It said the place was built in 1902, not 1904 like the realty info said. It also showed a small barn on the property. Well, that's no longer there but they were still assessing taxes on it! We took care of that mistake pretty quick! He said, "Well, there go your taxes!"