Sunday’s Share – Make Jam

May 30, 2010 § 8 Comments

After missing last week’s Sunday’s Share hosted by Cate @ Moments of Whimsy, I’m happy to say I’m ready with a new one.

This week has been a flurry of activity that’s seen us get more done around the house, specifically in the backyard, than we’ve ever managed to do in such a short time since buying the house 12 years ago.

So, how do you treat yourself for a week’s worth of hard work especially when the grocery store is having a sale on strawberries?  Well, you make jam and a strudel of course!

Oops, I forgot to add flour to the strawberries I put in the strudel and had a lovely mess of strawberry juice ooze out the sides.  Oh well, I’m sure it’ll still be yummy.

The “jam” (okay, it’s not really jam but more like syrop) is made using the easiest ever recipe in existence.  That’s because it’s not meant to have a shelf life and should be enjoyed within days of making it, so please don’t use this recipe for anything you intend to “preserve”.

First the berries…

Now here’s something, the berry on the left would have been considered a large one by my childhood standards.  I don’t know about you but when I see genetic engineering in action, as in the berry on the right, I get a little nervous.

Do we really need berries the size of  small tomatoes?  And I don’t mean cherry or grape tomatoes, what’s up with those things anyway?  Okay, I’m digressing…back to making jam with freak ass giant strawberries.

Wash and cut berries into bite size pieces and throw them in a pot with some sugar.  About 2 tblsps of sugar per cup of berries, more or less according to your personal preferences.

Cook over low heat until berries are soft, stirring occasionally.  When berries are soft, mash them with a potato masher or a fork until they are relatively smooth with only small chunks.  Turn the heat up to medium allowing the berries to come to a boil to reduce and thicken, stir often.  Remove the pink “scum” that floats to the top with a spoon and discard.

Wash and dry some canning jars and lids.  There is no real need to sterilize the jars unless they came right out of the box or sat in a back room where mice are known to reside…that could just be my back room but still, covering my bases.  Again, we’re not making preserves so a clean jar and lid will do.

Turn the stove off and let the jam cool in the pot before transferring into jars.  Leave about a half inch to an inch space at the top of the jar and let stand for another hour before putting on lids.  When ready, put on lids and keep in the fridge for about a week or so, if it lasts that long.  Can be kept in a freezer for up to a month.  Do not refreeze.

This “jam” makes a great topping for ice cream, pound cake or simply spread on some toast.  Enjoy!

Hypocrisy Lives Here

May 28, 2010 § 2 Comments

This whole my-kids-aren’t-children-anymore thing is quite the roller coaster.  The ups and downs of parenting young adults and teens is unmatched by any previous stage.

Though I’d like to eloquently remark about how it’s been a journey of enlightening and spiritually fulfilling realizations and personal growth, it’s really been more like the jerky starts and stops of a really bad amusement park ride that you don’t remember getting on and are firmly belted in for.

Case in point…

Mom and the Underwear Drawer

Daughter walked in on me while I was, purely out of habit as I am known to spontaneously arrange disarray when I come across it, organizing her underwear drawer. To my credit, when I walked by it was open and dainties were all over the place and haphazardly hanging out of it.  I did not just randomly open her dresser drawer looking for something to do.

Anyway, I really don’t like to think of myself as one of “those” kinds of Moms but the look on her face was absolute and undeniable confirmation that I am, at least, headed in that direction.

Daughter: What are you doing?

Me: Just tidying.

Daughter: My underwear, really Mom?

She said nothing else, she didn’t have to.  The incredulous look on her face said it all.

“Have you nothing better to do than sort my skivvies?”

“Why do you care about how I put away my clothes?”

“Do I go around sorting through your things?”

And there you have it.  How, unless I get a reign on it right quick, my active hypocrisy will mar my attempts to have healthy adult child/parent relationships with my kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m a lost cause.  It’s just that now I’m aware that I still have a ways yet to go if I want to avoid become a meddlesome mother.

Armed and Nervous

May 28, 2010 § 3 Comments

They say knowledge is power and that if you want to triumph over something you should arm yourself with with as much information about it as you can.

So, I’ve spent the morning researching calorie indexes, average calories in the foods I normally eat and exercises I should be doing to tighten up my target area (belly).

I’m not going all hard core and have no intention of weighing my portions or swapping everything out in my pantry for low fat, calorie reduced, tastes like crap food items.  I’m just going to be more aware of what I’m eating and how much of it.

I’m also a big proponent of eating smaller meals more often and will incorporate that practice into my new eating habits.

I’m leaning towards trying to lose 2lbs a week which will bring my target date to August 15th.  Which is, totally coincidentally, Hubby’s birthday.

What better present for him than a healthier, happier and slightly thinner wife?  He’d say a motorcycle no doubt…like that’s gonna happen.   😀

As with most things that I venture into I am a little nervous…mostly that I flake out after two weeks and give up.  I really hope that doesn’t happen.  This is something I really want to do for myself and I know how proud of myself I’ll be if I see it to the end.

Even if I only lose half the weight I want to, it’s more about making the commitment to a healthier lifestyle and feeling better physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Making Changes From Within

May 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I find myself worrying about things I don’t need to.  And it’s simple really, I’m just not used to having nothing to worry about so my mind goes out looking for things to concern itself with.

In order to avoid this pointless practice I’ve decided that I’m going to consciously focus on myself and the things I’d like to change about my own life.

The idea is to not worry about what anyone else is (or isn’t) doing and just do something for myself.  To that end, on June 1st I’m going to start a diet and exercise regimen.

My Goals Are:

1 – To improve my overall health, physical stamina and lose 20lbs.  (I’m currently at 165 lbs with most of the extra weight centered in my belly area – I’d really like to change that.)

2 – To create a new daily routine that reflects, supports and encourages these goals without making me feel bogged down by a sense of guilt if I skip a day.

3 – To set an example for Daughter without preaching, nagging or cajoling her into feeling like she has to join me.

4 – To fit into my bikini and favourite summer clothes before the season is over.

5 – To be able to have sex without feeling like I just ran a 10k marathon.  😉

My Plan Is:

1 – To eat a sensible diet of healthy foods and cut out the snacking.  (No more crisps (potato chips), chocolate or sugary treats that have no nutritional value.)

2 – To exercise twice a day using a combination of weights, laps in the pool, walking and the gym equipment at our local recreation centre.

3 – To practice playing my guitar everyday.  (Though this isn’t necessarily physical health related it is emotionally satisfying which will go a long way to helping keep me on track.)

4 – To write a weekly “no holds barred” diary/report of my progress and post it on my blog.  I’m more likely to do it if I know I’ve committed to writing about it.

5 – To give myself permission to do things just for me and worry less about other people…yes, even my kids.

There you have it.  That’s my plan and though I’ll probably spend the next few days making it way more complicated with charts, schedules and lists, it’s a start that I hope will lead to more positive changes that come from within.

Never Too Hot to Blog

May 26, 2010 § 4 Comments

It’s currently 30 degrees C with a humidex of 40 (which means it feels like 104 F outside)!

It’s too hot to go outside, even to jump in the pool, until much later this afternoon.  And inside, it’s too hot to cook or clean or knit or organize photos or even play with puppets.

But apparently it’s not too hot to blog, still all I can think of to blog about is how freakin’ hot it is.

And lo, if it were only a dry heat…that I could live with.  It’s the stifling, oppressive, heavy, sweat inducing, rotten mood inviting and disgustingly sticky air humidity that makes it unbearable.

It’s not that I haven’t grown accustomed to the diverse climate of my Eastern Ontario, specifically the Ottawa Valley, environment.  I was born and raised in the land of “all weather at any time” and other than a brief stint on the west coast in Victoria, B.C., I’ve lived here my entire life.

I honestly believe I’d go mad living more than a year in a stable climate.  As much as I gotta have my summer warm with sunshine, I also need my snow and ice in winter.  I dunno, I suppose it’s a good deal of what I define as Canadian.

Anyway, what I could so live without is the extremes.  Like a pendulum with some serious momentum, the temperatures here can, and often do, fluctuate rapidly.

Only two weeks ago I was covering up my new vegetable sprouts because it dropped down to -2 overnight and we had frost.  Today, we have Environment Canada warnings saying that due to the current heat wave we shouldn’t go outside between the hours of 11:00 am and 2:00 pm.

Pick a season, any season, I don’t care…just MAKE UP YOUR FREAKIN’ MIND!!!!!!

Okay, phew, I think I’m done now.

Carry on.   😀

More Unseasonal Temperatures

May 25, 2010 § 4 Comments

It’s been a busy and humid long weekend here and I haven’t felt much like blogging.  I even missed Cate @ Moments of Whimsy’s Sunday’s Share this week and I feel slightly remiss about it.  Especially because her’s was so darn cute…click on the link to check it out.

We’ve been tending the gardens, cutting down brush to make room for the new deck (YAY!!!!) and opening the pool.  With temperatures in the high 20’s and a stifling humidex running in the mid to high 30’s (80 and 90 F for my American friends) it is again unseasonably warm around these parts.

Daughter and her friends braved the just opened pool on Sunday but even the oppressive humidity couldn’t offset the chill of the water and they were in and out pretty quick.  To their credit though, they did try and Hubby and I could only gawk in disbelief at their effort…we’re just too old to endure that kind of shock to our bodies.

Other than the brief visit by the female mallard last week, we’ve not seen hide nor feather of our ducky friends and I’m thinking that’s likely all I’m going to get this year.  They may surprise us and show up in the fall on their way back South but that’s only happened once or twice so I’m not holding my breath.

Thanks to Shady and Cate for their kind and supportive comments to my last post.  I’m getting better at curbing my little freak outs but every now again one slips through and it’s good to know I have friends who understand and relate.

That’s all for now…it’s so hot that it’s taken me over an hour to write this for the breaks I’m taking to retreat to the coolness of the basement.  We’ve got all the windows closed, covered and fans in every room and it’s still hot enough to melt butter.

Seriously, I have a bowl of butter on my kitchen table that is half melted…it’s kind of gross actually.


Second, Third and Fourth Guessing

May 21, 2010 § 6 Comments

The last couple of weeks have found me more and more concerned about our decision to continue to homeschool/unschool.

The truth is, I really believe my concerns are more about me than they are about Daughter, who is still very happy with our current educational choices and is still adamant that she has no interest in going back to school full-time.

However, she has recently expressed an interest in going to college someday and this idea makes me just as nervous as it does delighted.  Will she really be ready for college when she hasn’t done a scrap of schoolwork in the last two years other than intermittently doing a math sheet or two a couple of times a month?

Though she reads at an adult level, can type over 60 words per minute and remembers the minutest details of something she is interested in, she still does have limitations such as handwriting issues and delayed social development that greatly affected her performance in elementary school…oh, and she still struggles with basic math concepts.

Should this even be a concern when college is a good three or four years away?  She is only 14 and a ways away from even being sure what she wants to take.

Still, I want her to be prepared for post-secondary education but how do I do that when she hasn’t been exposed to formal middle or secondary education?

And am I just looking for excuses because I’m tired and have absolutely no idea what our next step should be, if any at all?  And I am tired, oh so tired.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my Daughter and love spending time with her more than anything in the world.  But three and half years of 24/7 is starting to wear on me.  Sure, I get the occasional break and she’s certainly old enough and capable of spending time by herself if I need to get out during the day.

She also has her interest classes, her Youth Nights and her friends that get her out of the house at least a couple of times a week – summer is coming too so very shortly that will increase tenfold.

That’s why I said I think the worry is more about me than it is her and homeschooling.  I’m the one having trouble with the lack of structure, the total absence of have-to’s and the ever increasing boredom.

Maybe it’s just that for the first time in my life I have consciously decided to move away from all the drama that I had become so accustomed to.  Could these unsettling feelings be a result of the peace and quiet that I ordered?

Oh lord, leave it to me to be emotionally rattled by peace and quiet!  Seriously, am I a mess or what?!

Hubby thinks I need to get a life a part-time job or take a class, something that gets me out of the house, doing things for myself and worrying less about things that are fine the way they are.

I think his biggest concern is that I’m going to start inviting drama over again to come and hang out with me.  Maybe that’s why he got me those garden gnomes.  😉

Anyway, if you got this far in reading this rant Thank You, I appreciate it.  And if you have some kind words of support, encouragement and even empathy I’ll really appreciate them too.

A Home For A Garden Gnome

May 18, 2010 § 12 Comments

Making a rock garden is really easy, as I learned more by just doing instead of over-thinking things like I usually do.

Okay, I’ll admit that it’s even easier if you let Hubby do most of the hard work and stand around taking pictures.

For the record, I did clear the ground AND moved (most of) those rocks to that spot AND placed them where I wanted them AND I went to the store and bought all those pretty plants and flowers…I didn’t really just stand around taking pictures.

But I digress and protest too much…

After all that clearing, moving of heavy rocks and planting we have a lovely new home for my garden gnomes*.

*They don’t have names…do people name their garden gnomes?  I thought owning them made me strange enough, naming them would take me to a whole new level of weird wouldn’t it?

“You’re Late.”

May 17, 2010 § 4 Comments

I was in the middle of folding laundry in the bedroom when Hubby walked in and said I should come and see something in the backyard.

He was being weird about it so I knew it wasn’t something mundane like one of the cats being cute, or that yet another bean had sprouted.  And because he smiled coyly when I asked why he didn’t just tell me, I knew.  I knew they were back…

And there she is.  Our first duck of the season.  Goodness knows where the drake is but I’m confident he’ll be along soon.  First thing in the morning I’ll put out a tray of cracked corn for them and we’ll see what happens.

Hubby took some pictures because I was of course too busy…

watching, admiring, appreciating, enjoying, trying to feed and chatising her with a loving, “You’re late.”

Sunday’s Share – Garden Update

May 16, 2010 § 8 Comments

Another Sunday’s Share already, where did the week go?  Adding to Cate @ Moments of Whimsy’s awesome post about how blogging rocks, here’s something a little more mundane about my garden.

Spinach and Cucumbers and Beans, Oh My!

Gardening can be such a metaphor for life…how we reap what we sow, how persistence is key, how good things come to those who wait, how self-reliance is the path to self-sufficiency and how diligence is its own reward.

And by the looks of things, I’m going to have to brush up on my pickling skills and improve my recipe.  The last time I made pickles half of the batches turned out way too salty.   😉

Have a great week!

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