{Recipe} Blueberry Lime Jam

blueberry lime jam

Well, I haven’t just been crafting. I’ve been busy in the kitchen too. When blueberries were on sale last week at Shop Rite, I jumped on the sale in order to make my favorite spread (coincidentally the very first thing I ever made when I learned to can): blueberry-lime jam. Everyone is always all about the strawberries, it seems, but I will bide my time and wait for summer blueberries and can my butt of even if it’s 92 degrees outside (which it happened to be).

As with any and all things canning, in the interest of food safety it’s important to follow trusted recipes. Canning is more of a science, really. And if you don’t get things just right you can end up with a nasty case of botulism. But don’t let that scare you off, because really — if you can follow some directions and boil water, then you can totally do this. And it will be better than anything you buy in a store!

This recipe is based on one from the Ball Blue Book. I used no-sugar pectin so I could reduce the amount of sugar I used in the recipe (otherwise I find the sweetness cloying). Also, I always use bottled lime juice because the acidity is consistent. There is lots of back and forth on whether to use fresh or bottled, but for something like this, I find that using the store-bought juice is easier and I know it’s high enough in acid.

Blueberry-Lime Jam

blueberry-lime jam

4 1/2 cups blueberries
1 package dry no-sugar-needed pectin
3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/3 cup bottled lime juice

Crush the blueberries one layer at a time. (Do not wimp out and use a food processor — use a fork or a potato masher. It’s therapeutic and you want those little bits of blueberry in there. Save the processing for blueberry butter.)Next, combine the crushed blueberries and pectin in a large saucepot. Bring it to a boil, being sure to stir frequently. Then add your sugar, stirring until it is all dissolved. Stir in the lime zest and lime juice and return the jam to a rolling boil. Boil hard (no little bubbles — wait for the serious bubbles) for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove the pot from the heat and skim off any foam if you have it. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. (You might have to boil longer if you live in a high altitude. Consult a canning guide (such as Ball Canning) for correct times.

If you don’t have canning equipment, you can also store this in your fridge, though I’d try to use it up within a few weeks if you skip the processing step.

Yield: about 5 half-pints.

Note: Take it from me and don’t boil it longer than the 1 minute called for in the recipe because it will affect the consistency of your jam. It will taste fine, but it will be a little more goopy. If you’re just making it for your own use, that’s no big deal, but if you are giving it is gifts, you probably want it more aesthetically pleasing.

There’s still lots of time for blueberries (at least here in the Northeast), so if you get your hands on some at a good price, try out this recipe!

Linking up with: Cooking Thursday with Sandra at Diary of a SAHM.

Tea-Dying and Tote Bag Adorning


Here’s another craft project I created over the weekend! My mom was visiting (my dad was camping with Drew and the boys at Cub & Partner weekend for Cub Scouts) and I decided to introduce her to the wonder of Hobby Lobby. It’s a good thing the store isn’t that convenient for me to get to, otherwise I’d be in trouble.

We really struck gold with their various clearance sections (and hidden clearance within the aisles). I picked up a black fabric tote for under $3 and a package of 5 doilies for around $3 and immediately had an idea of how I wanted to adorn it. Originally I thought of placing a doily in the corner and spraying bleach. But that was going to be messier than I wanted. Next best thing? Dye the doily to get the antique color I wanted and then just stick it on the bag.

Here’s a quick pic of the doilies before I dyed them:

First, I dunked the doily in tea and let it sit for a few minutes before hanging it up to dry.



Can you tell that they now look a little aged? Then I gathered my supplies (LOL… told you this was easy).


And then I just carefully dotted fabric glue along the back of the doily and then placed in where I wanted it.


And now I have a roomy black tote bag with a little bit of style! I think that between trips to the lake and the park it’ll see a lot of use this summer.

Ridiculously Easy Initial Wreath


I have been getting quite a bit of crafting done lately, which has been awesome! It’s a combination of finding just the right items at just the right price, and the fact that Laura is starting to play a little more independently, allowing me bits of time to play 🙂 Last weekend I completed a project I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: make a new wreath for our front door.

I wish we could have a really cool painted front door, but our house is mahogany and stained a reddish-brown. Honestly, there aren’t a lot of colors besides white or cream that look good with it, so it definitely needs a bit of adornment. When I found a big “B” on clearance at Michael’s, I was totally inspired! Then, when I was at Hobby Lobby and I found burlap ribbon, my life was made much easier.

Basically, I took a straw wreath and wrapped it with the burlap ribbon, securing the back with floral greening pins (like these). I carefully positioned my letter so that I could feed ribbon through the top, allowing me to change it with the seasons. Then I hot-glued the letter to the wreath, arranged my silk flowers (hot-glueing when necessary and hoping it will peel off easily when I decide to change up the wreath), and fed the ribbon between the wreath form and the “B” to create the hanger.

And voila! A new wreath that I made in less than an hour (complete with interruptions). The real genius of this wreath, though, is how it is hung. My mom gets all the credit for this idea. Basically, I created a loop at the top of the ribbon (yep, again with my hot glue), and cut a slit for the wreath hanger to slide into. Here are a couple pictures — hopefully they make it clearer.




This way, the ribbons doesn’t get all twisted and you can use one of those inexpensive wreath hangers from the dollar store. So far it’s holding up great! I am sure you could sew the ribbon in addition to glueing it to make it extra secure.

Anyway, I am really happy with the way it turned out and now my front door is a little more welcoming.

Summer’s Here

1st day of summer

Oh boy, did summer arrive appropriately this year. Both yesterday and today, temperatures have been well into the 90s, with humidity that reminds me of North Carolina in August. Luckily, we have central AC and the kids have been loving the sprinkler in the yard.

I’ve just been finalizing some summer plans… one more day of school left for these kids. I think we have a nice balance of summer camp, family travel, at-home down-time, and day trips planned. The summer goes by so fast. I’m sure it’ll be fall before we know it, so I plan to soak up every crazy minute of July and August this year 🙂

{CSA 2012} Share #2

CSA 2012 | Share #2

Yesterday was our second farm share pickup of the season. While there are still lots of greens, that lone summer squash has me hopeful that by our next share, we’ll have more of what I call “exciting” vegetables.

Let’s see what we have here…

  • 2 heads of lettuce
  • 1 head of Chinese cabbage
  • kale
  • arugula and tat soi
  • Swiss chard
  • scallions
  • yellow summer squash
  • hakuri turnips
  • broccoli

I skipped the bok choi and the garlic scapes (go ahead and slap me for it — I know, I know… I’m just not into them this year for some reason). Last night for dinner I roasted the broccoli and sauteed half of the chard. There isn’t too much to experiment with here. I wanted to make some zuppa toscana with the kale, but considering the next few days are going to be in the 90s, well… I’m not sure that’s an ace idea!

I might try making this Tuscan Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas. Kale is one of those goitrogenic veggies that people with thyroid problems really shouldn’t eat raw. (It interferes with thyroid function.) But since I don’t eat a ton of raw kale, it really shouldn’t be a problem. It’s all about balance, right? Anyway, I’ll let you know what I end up doing with it.

At least we should be good for salads for a while! 🙂

Super Simple Teacher (and Bus Driver!) Gifts


The end of the school year is upon us! Yes, I realize that much of the country has been out of school for quite a while, but here in the Northeast, many schools still start in September and go until the end of June. I wanted to put together a few thank-you gifts for the teachers and our bus driver, but since (as usual) I don’t plan until the last minute, I came up with a few very simple tokens of appreciation.

According to Jake, his teacher really loves chocolate, so I packaged some super-indulgent chocolate-drizzled chocolate biscotti into a Ball jar and tied it all up with a tag that reads, “Thanks for making me one smart cookie.”


Noah’s teacher loves her coffee. In fact, she sings songs about coffee to her class! Even though we’ve already chipped in to the class gift (she’s retiring this year), I wanted Noah to give her a little something to show our appreciation. So I packaged up a bag of coffee and a biscotti for her. The tag reads (the completely unoriginal, but that’s okay) “Thanks a latté for being a great teacher!”

And last, but certainly not least, I wanted to thank our kids’ bus driver who is just the best! Again, I didn’t want to go crazy — just to thank him for getting Jake & Noah from here to there. He’s getting a big back of Reese’s Pieces and the tag reads, “We are thrilled to pieces that you are our bus driver. Thanks for keeping us safe!”


I am sure my husband will groan when he reads my puns, but hey — that’s just the kind of gal I am 🙂 Anyway… I’m going to have the boys also write notes to their teachers to round out the gifts. Just a couple more days to go!

Baby Birds

When I was a kid, our kitchen sink faced a window. And there was a metal canopy over the window to keep the sun out. One spring a little bird decided to build a nest in the right-hand corner. I remember how excited we all were to have this perfect view of a mama bird and her eggs! My parents named her “Matilda.” (And occasionally we’ll still make a Matilda reference to this day.)

Anyway, it was great… for a while. The thing about birds is that they are messy. And loud! Who’d think that something so small could make so much noise? Well, this spring we had Matilda, Jr. at our house. A bird (species yet to be identified) decided to build her nest behind the outside lamp on our deck. Of course, every time I opened the screen door, the mama bird would fly off and I’d feel bad. But hey — sometimes you just need to take your kid out to play on the swingset!

I did manage to snap a few photos, though and thought I’d share them!

May 30:
Robin's nest behind my porch light.

June 11:
Baby birds! Good thing we plan on power washing the house soon (after the birds are gone obviously).

June 14:
And just like that my baby birds are gone :-( At least I can was the lamp and siding I guess.


(See what I mean about birds being messy?) Well, now that they’re gone I can take down the nest I guess. We need to powerwash the siding, so I am really glad those birdies had their chance to hatch! Once we clean up the side we’re (finally) putting up the bird bottle the kids gave Drew for Father’s Day several years ago. Maybe next year the birds will nest in there.

Mad Science Has Arrived!


Look what came in yesterdays’s mail! A big box of 100 + Mad Science game decks! Drew is just waiting on a shipment of t-shirts before he can start sending out fun packages to all of his amazing Kickstarter supporters.

It’s been really cool to see who is interested in the game. People all over the world pledged, which was really exciting. We had a few people in the military, too. And even some local people right here in the Hudson Valley that we don’t even know. One of the great things about card games is that, unlike video games, you never have to worry about the power going out and not being able to play, or a video card not working (because really… who pays for computer insurance)? Just open up the deck and deal ’em out!

We’ve all been having fun playing Mad Science after dinner in the evenings. Drew will have decks available for order soon, so if you missed out on his Kickstarter don’t worry — you’ll have another chance!

{Recipe} Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

cheesesteak stuffed peppers

I’ll be honest with you: I’ve never been a fan of stuffed peppers. I hate mushy peppers and when you bake them, that texture seems inevitable. But then I saw a recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers from Peace, Love, and Low Carb. They looked so good, that I knew I had to try them.

Originally I was going to make these for dinner tonight, but then I realized that the boys would probably complain and since I’m not feeling great today, I just didn’t want to deal with that. And it’s just as well because I only had enough steak for two servings — me and Drew!

I did make several changes to the original recipe. But since I didn’t measure anything (I rarely do!), I can only give you a basic idea of what I did.

First, I melted butter (I used clarified butter for no real reason other than that’s what I grabbed out of the fridge). Then, I sauteed a bunch of sliced onions with salt and pepper until the got soft.

Next I added thinly sliced steak. I used beef tenderloin. (Grass-fed beef tenderloin is on sale at Shop Rite this week, so I was all over that — I cut it into steaks and used the small end to make this dish.) I seasoned it with a little more salt and pepper and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. While the steak cooked I cut a green bell pepper in half and removed the seeds.

I put some shredded Italian cheese blend on the bottom of each pepper half, then divided the cooked steak and onion mixture between the pepper and then topped it with more shredded cheese.

I baked the peppers at 400 degrees until the cheese was all melty and delicious-looking. I think it took about 15 minutes (really, I wasn’t paying attention).

Then I served those babies up with an arugula, tomato, and sunflower seed salad with My Friend Michelle’s Vinaigrette.


Then the real test: would Drew like it? And yes. Yes, he did. He requested I make it again, even 🙂

These were so much more fun to eat than many of the other low-carb cheesesteak recipes where you basically throw all the ingredients in a bowl. The peppers retained a crispness and the cheese was gooey and the steak was delicious (of course — it’s steak!).

Be sure to check out the original recipe for exact measurements if you don’t want to fly by the seat of your pants like me 🙂

Meal Plan Monday: Busy, Busy, Busy

Happy Monday, everybody! I know I’m in the minority, but I really do enjoy Mondays. A brand-new week, things to look forward to… For us it’s the last week of school with full days, so basically the last “real” week. (Also, the last week of making lunches – yeah! I’m just letting the boys buy lunch next Monday and Tuesday.) We have a lot going on this week: field day for Jake, pediatrician and dentist appointments, a school event, and a Cub Scout Bridging Picnic. Whew!

After Laura’s well-visit tomorrow, I’m hoping to find the time to scoot down to Hobby Lobby to get some sewing supplies and also see what they have for drawer knobs. I’m missing a small knob on my jewelry armoire, so I think I’ll have to replace at least two if not all four. I have no idea where it rolled off to, but after months of searching, I finally give up.

Here’s what I’m planning for this week’s dinners!

  • Monday: Leftovers
  • Tuesday: Tacos/taco salads
  • Wednesday: Philly Cheesesteak stuffed peppers, salad
  • Thursday: Roast chicken thighs, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli
  • Friday: Lemon-butter shrimp over wilted spinach, baked potato, salad
  • Saturday: No cooking

For more menu ideas, visit Organizing Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday feature.