Friday, March 27, 2020

Pink Books for Pink Saturday

Good Afternoon Friends!
Boy, I'm sure loving this time of getting back to blogging! So far this month I've written five posts! FIVE! Ha! I'm on a roll! Seriously though, it's been tricky finding my groove again after years of blogging for income. I used to love sharing fun things during Blue Monday, Vintage Thingie Thursday, and Pink Saturday. As far as I know, the only of these still around is Beverly's Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound. I'll be sure to link up there today!

Even though I've not been blogging as much, I've definitely not disappeared from the internet all together. For the last few years, I've run another site called The Victorian Letter Writers Guild, where I facilitate a quarterly international ladies pen friend match up, among other things. I also started an Instagram page just for beautiful book photography. It's @readingresplendent.

I've been working on my pink books collection. It's coming along pretty nicely. It's a little difficult to find books that are all pink but I've had a lot of fun hunting!
I'm really excited to visit some of my old friends on Pink Saturday. If you're new to the fun, be sure to visit Beverly at How Sweet the Sound to see all the pinky goodness!

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Beverly's Pink Saturday

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Peach Orange Marmalade -- Yum! Yum! (No Pectin)

Good Morning! Hope everyone is enjoying a relaxing day and keeping spirits up!
Wednesday I wrote about our big produce haul and pickled asparagus operation. Today I want to share what we did with some of the fruit we purchased.
I love to make jam as it's so simple and so pretty! I made two kinds of jam on Wednesday---mixed berry jam, using my freezer jam recipe, and peach orange marmalade, which I'd not made for about 15 years!

 To prepare the peaches for the marmalade, I began by using the boil/soak method to remove the skins. Just get a pot of water boiling and then set a bowl of ice water beside it. Put your peaches into the hot water first, letting them roll around for a couple of minutes, then plunge them into the ice bath. After a couple minutes in there, most of the skins will slide off very easily!

I also used this little zesting tool to remove just the part of the orange where the aromatic oils are found. When I was a kid, I despised marmalade because it was so bitter. That's because it contained pieces of the whole peel. Using just the zest will keep your jam sweet and flavorful.

After chopping up the peaches and oranges, I used this newly-devised method to crush the fruit. This is a photo of the mixed berries being crushed for my berry jam but I used the same method for the marmalade. It's important to crush the fruit so it will release the juices that make your jams so delicious. I used a stockpot with its strainer insert and this Pampered Chef Mix n' Chop tool. This allowed the juice to drain into the pot below and I was able to better crush up the berries. Before, I would do them all in a bowl but once it got pretty juicy, the pieces would slide around and were difficult to smash.

The last tip is in regard to the froth one will see when boiling the mixture. Jam can get pretty frothy and you don't want that in the jars, of course. I've found I just need to keep it boiling and it will eventually move past this super frothy stage as it thickens up. Any froth that is left on top when you're ready to fill your jars will be thick enough to easily remove with a slotted spoon.

I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe. Let me know if you try it out!

Peach Orange Marmalade

5 c. chopped and crushed peaches (about 4 lb.)
1 c. chopped and crushed oranges (2 oranges)
zest from one orange
2 TB lemon juice
6 c. sugar 

Wash fruit. Remove stems, skins, and pits from peaches. Zest one or both oranges, remove peel, pith (white portion), and seeds from oranges. Chop and then crush the fruit. Measure the fruit into a large pot, add the remaining ingredients, stir. Boil rapidly, stirring often, until the mixture thickens. (This will be about 9 degrees above the boiling point of water.) Remove from heat and skim off excess froth.

If you are freezing the marmalade or just storing in the refrigerator, you can fill plastic containers, let them cool on the counter, and then refrigerate/freeze. If you are canning the marmalade, read the following instructions entirely before beginning.

To can:

Before beginning the marmalade preparation, wash and sterilize canning jars and prepare two-piece canning lids according to the manufacturer's instructions. This recipe makes approximately 3.5 pints of marmalade. Leave your jars in the hot canning water until you're ready to fill them.

Proceed with the instructions above for preparing and cooking the marmalade. Then fill the hot jars with the hot marmalade, leaving about 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel, then adjust the lid/ring combo on top of the jar---firmly but not too tightly. Process in the water bath for 10 minutes (15 min. for 6,000 ft+). Remove the jars and let them sit for 24 hours before checking the seals to make sure they're secure. Label the lids and store in a cool, dark place for up to 2 years. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Homemaking Party: A Very Big Pickled Asparagus Operation

Good Morning! Welcome to The Homemaking Party! 
How is everyone's social distancing going? We are starting to go a little stir crazy. Well...not me---I love being at home. But my super social kids are finding it a bit unnerving. Ha!

A local produce company who usually services the public school kitchens is selling their stock to the public at wholesale prices. I visited them last week to pick up some nice produce and have spent the last few days canning, freezing, drying, and baking it all up. Jamie and Elisha got in on the action and undertook a big pickled asparagus operation!

Making pickled asparagus is fairly simple and pretty rewarding. Pickled vegetables are healthy snacks and can be used in garnishes, hors d'oeuvres, or eaten plain. Most of our family loves it---I admit, I've not tried it! Ha!

Our favorite recipe is this one from AllRecipes.com. The kids like it better when we leave out the chili pepper flakes. Also, the store was out of dill seed this last time we made it so we used dill weed and it was just fine! 

It's been difficult to find our normal amounts and selection of groceries these last couple weeks, which just emphasizes to me the need to have a better stocked pantry and knowledge of cooking from scratch. I didn't realize how much I'd really slipped into being less and less of a traditional homemaker, especially in the kitchen, until all this corona crazy came along. It's nice to be able to hit "reset" and get back into some of the things I loved to do in my home.

Thanks for stopping by---I'm looking forward to seeing what you've got to share!

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

The World Looks Different But It's Ok

Well, I finally broke down this evening.

I was doing so good keeping it all together! (or so I thought...)

I've spent the last 10 days pretty much how many other American homemakers spent theirs: taking stock of my supplies, running out for provisions, growing more and more concerned over the lack of toilet paper, and thinking about how to navigate a new normal. It's amazing the evolution that "normal" has taken in just 10 days. At least for me, I've gone from "Hmm...well this is new" to "Dear me, how strange" to "I'm not sure how to respond to this" to "Is this really happening?" to "Whoa. This is really happening."

Tonight I had just had it. I'd spent the week trying to keep everything just how it should be. Spinning all the plates. Dotting all the "i"s and crossing all the "t"s. I was trying to make things not different. Truth is---everything is different. 

For our family, things are different in a better way. My husband's job as a computer programmer within the shipping industry is a double-whammy of secure. If our world stops needing programmers or stops needing shipping/distribution, we're gonna see a MUCH bigger issue than we have now. So having Daddy working from home and having all our busy schedules erased is probably the greatest thing that could happen to us. At least for now. We are financially secure and have an abundance of all we need. (We even found toilet paper today---score!)

However, there are so so many who are struggling on all levels, and this is where my freakout came into play today. I keep thinking of things we could be doing to be a blessing to others while still abiding by the new calls for social distancing. (Well, sort of. Right now I have four teenagers over that aren't mine...but they're here enough that they might as well be mine. AND our family already breaks the 10 or less rule anyway so...) If I wasn't so worried about trying to maintain normal in my home, we could be taking time off to write letters to people we know who don't have a gaggle of housemates to share this time with. I could be writing encouraging devotionals or sharing information on my blog to help others become less dependent on this fast-paced, drive-thru satisfaction sort of world that's come to a halt. Not to mention all the things we could be doing around the house like decluttering and listing things for sale online to the whole world who have suddenly become online shoppers by default. Most of all, I would have time to look outside my happy cottage in the forest and respond to a hurting world. God is allowing things to be different right now. I want to find out why.

I've spent the last 10 days fighting so hard for normal and it's really a losing battle. The world is different now. For me, this time is a gift and a ministry opportunity. For others, this time is scary and heartbreaking and chaotic. Life looks different now. It may be for a short time---it may be the new normal. Enough has already changed for some that life will never look the same. No matter how long it lasts, I don't want to be afraid to embrace the different and see what God will do in this time. Maybe He's writing a new normal for me that will be better than anything I could ever imagine.

What is your biggest concern right now? I'd love to remember you in prayer if you'd like to comment below.


Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Our Visit to Harvest Lane Cottage to see Mrs. Laura Lane

Hello friends! Welcome to the Homemaking Party!
Have you ever met someone and immediately felt comfortable---like you'd been friends for so long, or even family? Mrs. Laura Lane and I had been "blogging friends" for several years before finally meeting in person about three years ago. We were instant friends and have had the opportunity to get together several times since then.

Last Friday, Lynzie and I had the chance to spend the day with Mrs. Laura and her youngest daughter (who also became fast friends with Lynzie) at their Harvest Lane Cottage in SW Missouri. We shared a lovely lunch together and had a good chat. We even worked on a couple crafty projects---she knitting and me fussy cutting. The younger girls chatted up a storm and then took off for a coffee/tea run and a photo shoot in a nearby park.

Mrs. Laura made this fantastic chocolate sheet cake with homemade boiled icing. Wow---it was so delicious! Look how pretty her dishes are, too. What a special treat! 

After spending almost six hours with the Lanes, Lynzie and I headed downtown to visit our favorite antique shop in town. Mrs. Laura lives in a beautiful historic town with so many gorgeous Victorian and early Edwardian homes. We were snapping photos all up and down the streets! We love the fabulous downtown court house, the most. It's like a castle towering over the square!

I love finding bits of hidden architecture here and there. This painted tin or copper paneling peeked at me from a narrow passageway. There are so many beautiful things to see if we take the time!

Thanks so much for stopping by the Homemaking Party! I've missed my friends! 

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