Strawberry dandelion jelly

I should have known that setting out to make a simple dandelion jelly would take a spin. I am notorious for frollicking off the simple beaten path, in life and in recipes! So, this is what happened. I found a fun and yummy looking recipe for dandelion jelly on teaspoonofspice.com. The recipe promises a nice honey taste and consitency, so off I went with a bowl in one hand and my tiny tots hand in the other. We picked to our hearts content, and then I did the tedious task of cutting away all the green and keeping just the petals. Still on track, I put the pot on the stove, brought the water to a boil, popped in the petals and then took the first step astray with lime iuice instead of lemon. Next thing I knew I was deliberately keeping some petals in “for the look”, adding a few bits of dried orange peel and tossing in some fresh diced strawberry. If I had had mint on hand it would have been in there too.

While sometimes my cooking adventures lead down some funky paths, this one seems to have turned out really good! I am still waiting to see if it will set to a good jelly or not, but I hope it does. If it doesn’t it will still be a nice syrup to drizzle over waffles. Mmh!

If you’d like to give it a whirl, here’s my recipe. I tried it once, so I can’t make any promises!

3 cups loosely packed dandelion petals

4 cups water

2 tsp lime juice

Boil these together for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let steep for 15-20 minutes.

Strain out the petals and squeeze out any extra liquid. Keep a bit of petals to have float around the juice if you want. Add some orange peel if you want, but remove it before you add the strawberry. Return to stove. Add 1 box no-sugar pectin, bring to a boil and add 2.5 cups of sugar. Dice 4 to 5 large strawberries and add to the boiling mix. Continue to boil for about 10 to 15 minutes.

And we’re done. Had I had mint or mint tea, I would have added it during the last boiling stretch.

Let me know if you give it a try or have experimented similarly!

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Me and my breadmaker

I’ve always been one of those people who goes on way too long missing a crucial piece of information but somehow still getting by. It’s a blessing and a curse and it struck again in the form of a breadmaker. I just didn’t get it. How does it make bread for you and whats the point? Then hubby came home with another thrift store find. Can you guess? Yes you can. A breadmaker! It’s one of those little ones that makes a tall load with a small cap, almost like a funny looking mushroom.

Well! I was curious. I looked up the model for instructions and a recipe and got going with a basic rapid bake bread. It was SO. EASY. I felt dirty it was so easy. Just pile the ingredients in, close the lid, press the button and it does it all. What. the. what? It took me a few loaves before I stopped feeling dirty using this super simple contraption and started to feel like a superhero. Make a loaf of bread while my little peanut finishes her cereal? Why sure! It’s that easy!

Now I know I get that weird little paddle indent at the bottom and sometimes the crust isn’t the best…but it sure beats the invisible bread I was making before. HA! The best part is that it rises every time, regardless of the temperature in the house. I still sometimes feel like a cheater cheater pumpkin eater, especially when I remember my mom kneading away at a half dozen loaves of bread in the kitchen while I ran around being my little snot nosed self, but in general I’m loving this super easy way.

Do you use a bread maker? What are your thoughts on them?

Canning debut!

I grew up watching my mother can food. Well, not really watching..more like, I saw her canning in my peripheral vision while I played! Either way, you’d think having been exposed to it all my life, I’d feel confident tackling the task myself right? Nope! I am days shy of being 29 years old and today was my very first attempt at canning. So exciting! So..scary!

The Mr. often picks up reduced-to-sell produce when he happens to be in town and as I was psyching myself up to try canning, I asked him to have a look for some tomatoes. Walmart had a large produce bag full for 2$, so he brought that home and I made my first 4 bottles of canned tomato sauce! I was nervous, but I set myself up a work space with everything I would need and got to work. It took a significant amount of time to get my large pot to boil with only 4 small bottles in it, but I’ll know for next time to make a bigger batch or use a smaller pot.

 

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About to begin

Even more exciting than the 4 jars of sauce I made is the fact that the ice is now broken! A whole new world of possibilities just opened up to me and I am eager to create a garden plan that involves canning surplus and not just veggies that store well or can be dried/frozen!Bring on the 2018 harvest season!..In you know..8 or 9 months..

canning
Finished result

Handmade and Thrifted Christmas

We’re two days into Spring and most people do not want to hear about Christmas, but I have exciting news! This year, we’ve decided to do a Handmade and Thrifted Christmas!

Like many of our grand-parents, my grandma used to spend all year making Christmas gifts for her 10 children, and come Christmas day, each kid was grateful for the gift they received. I love that! Of course it’s pretty great to unwrap a big shiny, new and fancy item come December 25th, but that’s not all it’s about and I’ve been craving a simpler lifestyle and tradition. I ran it by hubby and he agreed that it could be fun, and significantly cheaper, which is a bonus during a period of heavy renovations! Here’s what we decided to do:

We will continue to fill our stockings with the regular stuff we normally do ( small and useful things, edibles, toiletries) and we will be aloud to buy 1 new gift. Everything else will be handmade (by us or locally) and/or second hand( thrift shops, yard sales, Kijiji, swap groups, antique shops, etc.).

When I mentioned what we were doing to my mom, she got super excited and asked if they could participate too, and of course, the more the merrier! I love the challenge that comes with it. It’s the end of March and I am already busy working on several gift projects and hubby has already found a beautiful clock for my mom and apparently something for me!! I’m finding that much more thought goes into a gift when you know you’ll be spending many, many hours making it!

I know that someday the Littles will start to want things that we can’t make and probably won’t be able to find second hand, and I see no reason not to get her one or some of those items, within reason, but I also do not foresee going back to all store bought gifts after this year! I am enjoying this way too much to ever go back! I’ll share some of my projects as I finish them!

Do you do handmade gifts? Or have a gifting tradition? Share them in the comments, I’d love to hear what you do!

 

 

A step in the right direction!

With the cold upon us and no heating set up in the ”new” house, renovations have been nearly at a standstill since we insulated the office nearly a month ago. It’s not that we can’t handle the cold, it’s simply that the temperature drops can cause condensation and ruin our work..so best to just wait it out a bit! Anyway, in the meantime, we’ve been busy in our heads: planning colours, choosing windows, drawing up plans for the barnyard, etc. Then, today the Mister logged into facebook and had a gander at a few swap pages and came across someone selling over 350square feet of good quality, nice oak coloured flooring for 140$. A small fraction of what we would be paying for new flooring! He quickly sent a message and as it turns out, the guy lives about 2 minutes away from my mom and dad, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone so to speak, and go pick up the flooring and drop in to visit my folks. I can already picture it in the living room and am so excited! Next step; windows!

The end of Maternity Leave

February is here which means that it will be Baby Bells first birthday soon! The big 1.0. I can’t believe my baby is almost a year old already.

Bitter sweet!

With all that comes the end of my maternity leave and a whole bucket of questions. Should I go back to work? What do we want to do with Baby Bell if I go back? Should I go back to my old job or find something new? Well, all those questions were put to rest January 28th when we decided I’d return to my old job, but only as super-part-time/casual on days the Mister doesn’t work. Therefore, I work 1 to 2 days a week, for a few hours a day and the rest of the time, I’m home with Baby Bell. We are both very happy with our decision, but obviously it will mean making a few cuts in spending and looking into alternative ways to make a few extra dollars.

I’m so excited to have the opportunity to take on this new challenge and to continue to spend my days with my ever growing and changing toddler-to-be!

Are you a stay at home parent? What ways have you found to bring in a little bit of income or cut down spending?