Friday, December 12, 2014

Small Gifts To Save On Shipping




We live a good distance from any of our family members with the closest being a 5 1/2 hour drive away. 

So every Christmas, we ship at least one box of gifts to someone! This year we are sending two: one to my sister's family in Texas and one to my parents in Oregon. 

I don't mind shipping boxes and always love packing them up-- so much fun! But when the cost of shipping is about the same or more than what the gifts cost? No thank you! 

So this year, I focused on gifts that were compact and easy to ship. By doing this, I was able to pack each family's gifts in a small flat rate box! 

This saved us a lot of money this year! 

**Note: We keep our gifts to family members pretty low-cost; usually in the $5-$10 range per person. We also try to do useful or clutter-free gifts as much as we can. I will share some of the specifics of our gift-giving after Christmas so as not to spoil the surprise for our family members that read here!**


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finishing Fall Stuff & Cranberry Apple Preserves

I felt like I needed to finish up fall before I could decorate the house for Christmas!

We got our apples for applesauce late this year so I had to push it to get them done by Thanksgiving. But I made it-- around 42 quarts. Whew! 

I'd also purchased a bushel of apples for a friend who is learning to make and can applesauce this year. She wasn't able to get together until last week. So those apples are done now too--around 15 quart for her. 

saved 3 apples from all our applesauce, jelly and dried apple making to make Cranberry Apple Preserves. I had some cranberries in the freezer and a coworker offered me a couple oranges she wasn't going to eat. I had just seen the recipe in the canning book and put an orange on my shopping list--I had all the other ingredients on hand. So the oranges came in perfect timing! 



This smelled wonderful while cooking. Everything cooked down nicely and made a lovely red color.


I got 6 jars of preserves. I will use some of these for Christmas gifts. 

Cranberry Apple Preserves
 Recipe from The Ball Book of Canning
 Yield: about 9 half-pints

2 pounds cranberries
3 green apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1 orange, seeded and chopped 
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup honey

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil gently almost to gelling point. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. process in boiling water canner 15 minutes.


Our fall pumpkins needed to be cooked. I like decor that can do double duty--pretty to look at and yummy to eat later! 

I used this method again for cooking whole pumpkins. It's so easy! Just wash your pumpkins, poke them several times all over with a knife and bake for about 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. Let cool a little before handling.

Ended up with a huge bowl of pumpkin puree to freeze. I froze it in freezer bags in 2 cup portions. Yield was 16 cups--equivalent to 8 cans of pumpkin.  

Now that those things are checked off, I'm ready to move on to Christmas!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Mending A Tablecloth The Scrappy Way

Last Christmas, a candle burned a hole in my festive tablecloth.
Oops! 

The hole is right in the middle of the tablecloth. Instead of tossing it or making it into something else, I opted to give it a little scrappy makeover by just patching it over. 

I used a few Christmas scraps to cover the hole and make a cute little patchwork thing in the middle. 

I finished the patch off with a scrappy Christmas tree featuring red polka dots and some candy cane stripe-- a combo that never fails to make me happy to look at! 

While not perfect, we love the look this embellishment adds!

One tablecloth saved from uselessness!

Monday, December 01, 2014

After Thanksgiving



This is what Rock looks like after his party weekend at puppy camp. 

In fact, I kind of feel that way myself after Thanksgiving! 

My mother-in-law graciously sent the HUGE turkey carcass (with lots of dark meat still on, which we love) home with me. So I'll be making broth and soup this week. I'm scouring my soup cookbooks for a good and maybe more unusual turkey soup recipe. If you have a good method or recipe, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

I made this Turkey Dinner Soup a couple of years ago which we enjoyed a lot. 

These are setting on my counter after a jelly making session right before we left for Thanksgiving. This apple jelly was made with apple peelings and cores from some dried apples I made earlier. Waste not, want not!

I got the idea from Wendi's blog and then followed the directions for apple jelly included in my box of pectin--I used Certo.

Have a great week and enjoy the first week of December!