Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Today I mastered the quadruple batch.  That is to say that I successfully made 32 jars of  jam in one pot, then processed the jars in two baths.  "Success" means that the jam jelled properly, the lids sealed as they should, and it tasted so yummy that I talked to myself at length about how good it was while scooping spoonful after spoonful from the bottom of the leftover jar straight into my mouth.  What are you doing making jam in November, you ask?  Your raspberries don't live through the late fall frost?  Neither do mine.  These are local frozen berries, of course.  Enough to make a bunch of jars for holiday gifts and this weekend's upcoming holiday fair at the Dayton School.  Yep, I'm actually participating in a local fair.  Oooo-eeee!  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Photo 2010

I originally had visions of dressing our three girls in cute white cable knit sweaters, kahki pants, and little girly hiking boots-- oh, and matching pig-tails. I'd bring them to the beach, a peaceful drive of course, and I'd set up something formal-- they'd be smiling as if totally restful, looking longingly toward the horizon, thinking deep 3 and 4 year old thoughts all the while.  Needless to say, I didn't even get as far as "Go get your sweaters on."  It was a dress-yourself free-for-all in the house this morning, after which Erin and I toted the girls, including Althea, Erin's cutest-ever 1-year-old, out to Devin's camp site for some Christmas card hopefuls.  Here are the results.  Let me know which one you like the best, if any.

And here are lovely Erin and Thea-Thea, which sounds like "FiFi" when my girls say her name.  It was a beautiful day for a walk, and Thea's a good little tree-climber!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Winter Project 1

You know that winter's pretty much here when I start a series of unnecessary projects around the house.  Here's the first.

I never ended up liking the light fixtures I picked out for the kitchen in our house 2 years ago when the place was built.  Specifically, I hated the one above our dining room table.  So, when the kids were in their most wild mid-afternoon craze, I upped and turned off the power in the whole house, not really knowing which individual breaker to switch for the one light.  I took apart the fixture, removed the light bulb and the socket in its entirety, and waited for Joe to get home.  Poor guy.  He gets in and I say, "Ok, honey.  I have this great idea about replacing our kitchen light fixtures with big old ball jars.  What do you think?"  He took one look at what I had done and promptly replaced the light bulb part of the fixture, then turned the power back on.  Oh, he also drilled a whole in a wide-mouth ball jar cover and added a screw top lid to the fixture in case I decided to randomly decide on a jar while he wasn't looking.  I know it's hard to believe, but this already looks better than what was there before:

Next, I hopped in the van on a cold and rainy Monday, kids in tow, and ran up to Peter Snell's antique place on route 202 in Hollis Center.  Now, if you've ever driven by the place, you might not guess it to be the kind of spot where you'd find fine art or other beautiful vintage items.  On the contrary, however, (I always wanted to say that!), the acreage of beat-up trailers, broken-down dump trucks, and other modes of ugly storage is jam-packed (note use of "jam") with tons and tons of old and perfect items.  From old windows to ladders, tools to toys, furniture to jars, it is a picker's dream.  Yeah, I stole that term right off my favorite tv show, American Pickers.  So I drove the van around the dirt roads that wind about the place and right up to the little trailer I know to be filled with antique jars.  Ball jars, clear, green, blue, you name it.  Malted milk jugs, mustard jars, liniment jars, all kinds of funky old glass stuff.  It was awesome.  I bribed the girls with their own individual sticks of gum while they waited for me on the steps of the trailer.  Oh, and by the way, Peter Snell mentioned that American Pickers will be featuring his place in August next year!  How cool is that?  That practically makes me famous!  Enough about my fame.  This is what I brought home:

And this is what I did before Joe arrived home from work on the same afternoon.  The photo's not great, but I'm telling you, I love it!  I can't wait to use a couple more of the jars to do the island lights in the kitchen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Rubys

Well, I wasn't sure just how to spell that since the Rubys I'm talking about are two little girls' names.  So is it Rubies?  I don't think so.  I'm going to make up my own rule on this one and go with "Rubys."  Anyway, before I get to the two Rubys, here's the back story.  A couple weeks after Charlie and Ruby were born, we learned that Ruby's aorta was too narrow in one spot for blood to get through the way it is supposed to.  Without getting into too much detail here, the aorta is the big important artery that runs from the heart to other important parts of the body.  The doc decided that Ruby ought to have this narrow piece of her aorta removed, and the wide parts sewn back together.  Thus, when Ruby was 4 weeks old, she had heart surgery to repair a coarctation of the aorta.

When you have a baby who stays at the Barbara Bush wing at Maine Medical Center in Portland, at least where Ruby was located, you share a room with at least one other baby and her family, if not a few other babies and families.  We happened to share our hospital room with another Ruby and her parents.  Two Rubys?  Ruby R. is 4 months older than Charlie and our Ruby, yet when we met she was just a tiny thing.  She had an esophageal condition which prevented her from being able to keep food down in any way.  She was hungry all the time, and her parents couldn't do anything to help her.  Everything she ate would come back up.  I mean everything.  So, the two Ruby's were repaired, and our families have stayed in touch ever since.  We get together at least once a year, as we truly believe our friendship was meant to be.  This year, Meghan, Ruby, and baby Ramona (a year old!) came down for our annual play date, and the kids acted as if they see each other every day.  The Ruby's always end up in cahoots, as if they understand at the age of 3 that they have a common bond.  I'm telling you-- meant to be.  And yes, both girls are super-healthy now.

Can you pick out the twins in this photo?  It's getting harder and harder to tell!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Selling Jam

It turns out selling jam online isn't such a tough thing to do after all.  Well, the process of getting your product online for the purpose of selling to the general public isn't such a big deal.  Getting customers and marketing yourself is another thing.  I was killing myself trying to figure out how to put a stupid shopping cart on my (very basic) web site.  It turns out, if you go through a big name web-building company, they make everything to the super-under-educated web builder extremely easy.  However, it costs way more money than you want it to.  So, I went for linking my page (and this blog) to a little Etsy site where I can give a shot at selling some stuff without putting up (excuse the pun) a lot of cashola.  Besides, we really need any Dam Jam money to buy jars and sugar right now.  The holidays are coming after all!  Anyway, Etsy was super-easy to set up, and I'm also rather into sitting around and looking at everyone's little Etsy shops.  It's like when I was first introduced to Facebook.  Oh. My. God.  It was incredible how many people I could be in touch with so suddenly.  I'm still amazed by it really, but I'm more in the maintenance phase of Facebooking now.  It's our second stage of the relationship.  Etsy-- I'm in love.  I want to buy all my Christmas presents there, and I selfishly want all my gifts to come from Etsy as well. Wait, maybe not the kick-ass produce scale I hope my husband will try to surprise me with.  I know, it's a weird thing to get excited about, but that's my world now.  So, if you haven't already, check out my try at selling jam on the World Wide Web.  I love calling it that.

Oh, and so you don't think that ALL I do is sit around and surf Etsy for jewelry, art, and funky vintage stuff while the girls are locked in the basement all day, here is proof that we have left the house recently.

3 girls SO happy to be finished planting bulbs

Ruby showing off her new $2 church fair hat.  Seriously.  2 bucks.

Leaf woman playing her leaf guitar, or maybe it's a violin


Monday, November 1, 2010

Cranberries, 2010

Last year I froze 20 pounds of local cranberries and ran out of them in April.  Cranberry bread, cranberry jam, cranberry sauce, more cranberry bread.  Mostly cranberry bread.  This year I'm making loads of sauce for the holidays, so I opted to freeze 50 pounds of the little gems.  Old Grey Beaver Farm  is a beautiful old place in Kennebunk on route 35.  Bob Nest and his wife sell the berries from their garage by the pound, as well as in the form of cran-apple juice-- they team up with Giles Orchard for the juice.  They also sell at other local farmstands, including Anderson Farms of course.  These berries are large, and red, and beautiful.  The girls and I occasionally try to eat them raw, but I admit we usually opt for cooking them with honey or sugar in some way.