Monthly Archives: June 2015

Best jam ever

06/11/15

I received a message yesterday from my talented caterer cousin saying: “Hey, I have an order to make 200 4 oz jars of jam/jelly for wedding favors! Don’t you and Teresa (my sister) have some killer jam recipe? I remember hints of a story of you two licking up some tasty jam you made together???? Do you have the recipe? Does it work with strawberries?”

She remembered hearing of this killer jam that we had made together some years back that we raved about.

It was the best jam ever.

tripple berry jam
I told my cousin it was blackberries, raspberries and blueberries and the recipe would be generally the instructions from a Sure Gel box. I further explained that we considered recipes to be a bit like the Pirate Code: Not to be followed exactly, but more of a guideline.

pirate code

A chuckle was returned from her end as she relayed that they too “fix” every recipe they see to make it just how it would go best in their repertoire.

She messaged my sister as well for the jam recipe and was given about the same answer as mine.

So I got to thinking about why those batches – we made many- were so delectable.

blackberry

First, the berries were all picked by our own hands that day. Second, we probably used 20lbs. of sugar (you have to adhere to the sugar guideline or it breaks jam rules). Third, it was the sweat, laughter and love that set it apart more than anything.

blackberry thorns

 

If you’ve never gone to pick massive amounts of blackberries, let me relay what is involved.  The berries generally are ripe when it is the hottest, most humid days of the year.  The branches are so full of thorns that they make a scared cat with it’s claws out seem like a teddy bear. So, in order to keep from having permanent scars all over your body, you succumb to wearing very heavy thick denim overalls.  Carhartts come to mind and work very well.

Carhartt overalls

Did I mention it is always the hottest days of the year that you decide to go pick?  Now you know where the sweat part comes in.

The laughter starts just before the sweat when your trying on everyone’s overalls in the house before you go out.  Older pairs are dug out that family members have outgrown thinking that those would work well.  Until you realize that we too might have outgrown them and should any bending be required, well, lets just go for a larger pair.  How is it that there are no midsize pairs and we are left in gargantuan overalls that fit the six foot guys and we are the more height-challenged Hively(mom’s family) women size?

The laughter continues as we slog through the brier patches catching every extra inch of material on every two inches of the thorny stalks and while it is personally frustrating, it is hilarious to watch the other person.

The real problem with picking fresh berries is that you can always see just a few more really good berries just another step or two into the thicket causing you to get further and further into a trap. Then inevitably, someone in the middle of all the bushes, feeling that they might never dislodge from the thorns sticking into them from all directions, remembers they didn’t go to the bathroom before heading out.  Screams of “don’t make me laugh” are shouted as there isn’t even room to bend over hoping that will help to keep from a leak.

Then there is the “oh heck, I’m sweating so much I can’t tell what’s running down my leg anyway” comment.

The laughter continues once into the house to wash and prepare the berries as probably we are giddy with the sudden weight loss and dehydration of sweating through all of the clothing.

The raspberries were picked when the blackberries were – same kind of routine with thorns and such.  The blueberries were harvested after removing he overalls and the trip to the ladies room.

Each batch varied a little in the proportions of each berry as how will one know what is best if you don’t try all combinations?  They were all so good, we never cared which one was later picked to eat.

The time spent together loving each other’s company and sharing our own stories and faux pas gets infused in those jars and is what sets them apart from anything you can ever buy.

The jam is beyond good and is like my beloved favorite pie in the world – elderberry.  I love the flavor, but it is the knowing that it takes great effort to get the berries, time spent with others in plucking for hours and someone knowing you love it making it for you that makes it the best on earth.

You can buy jam, but it isn’t the same.

Love Sally

 

Great Night on the Deck

06/09/15

I came home from work with the plan of finishing the planting of my flowers.

I don’t know that I recall a year that we have waited to plant this late.  

We had snow and frost right up until June and plenty of hail with spring storms.  Not good planting conditions.

Even tonight just after I got home, we had a storm move through with some tiny hail.  The sun was chasing it away, so if you look closely at the photo below you can see a low rainbow that peaks just at the mountain ridge and ends right into my flower garden.

rainbow into flower garden

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the end of a rainbow that close!

So dinner was made and a bit of cleaning inside done  since the ground was again soaked and too wet to plant.
When it was time to relax, the sun had dried off the wrought iron chairs and I could relax and catch the sunset. 

Nice Evening on deck

The temperature was perfect and no bugs at all to be seen/heard/felt.  I Do love Colorado.

Love Sally

More Mug Memories

06/06/15

keep some souvenirs

Today when #2 son was unloading the dishwasher he noticed a new mug and asked where it had come from.

Patty Rooks mug

It was gifted to me from the friends Jasmine and I went to stay with in Georgia last weekend.  She has her own pottery studio and when they were showing us some of her pieces out of the cupboard, I had said how much I loved this particular one.

The next morning, she served my coffee in the mug and said the coffee and mug were mine to keep.  It will definitely bring good memories and warm my heart each time I use it.

I also have a mug from my incredible Australia trip.  I purchased it when we went to the Blue Mountains early on and the weather was so rainy and cloudy that we couldn’t see anything so we walked around one of the towns checking out the shops and tents set up for local vendors.

I saw the mug and it’s beauty drew me to it, but the words spoke to me directly of the entire journey of that trip.

Adele Basheer mug

 

In case you can’t read the caption, it says: “Live Laugh Love”  “Life is shaped by the moments we dare to create”

I have kept this one in the beautiful box it came in – just a little afraid of taking it out and putting it with the daily mugs.  Currently the mugs are only sold in Australia so what would I do if it was accidentally broken?

But when I showed it to a friend today I realized that it is meant to be used with the other daily mugs as a reminder to dare to do the things I hadn’t thought possible.

ready for another adventure

 

Love Sally

Adjusting our Filters

06/04/15

Burgess falls

When Jasmine and I were at the bottom of the large portion of Burgess Falls on Monday, I was looking for a rock or two to bring home to add to our waterfalls feature in our yard.

It is something we do when we visit somewhere that has some interesting rocks.  A simple way to bring a memory back from elsewhere and add it to a spot we look at and admire.

While at the edge of the water looking through the vast rocks along the shore, Jas took a photo of a large rock.  I joked that I should bring it home, but truth was, it was a nice rock, but not extremely showy or incredible to look at.  I was wrong.

filters

Jasmine went home and adjusted the filters with her photo program to show the beauty she had seen there at the edge of the water.

seeing beauty

What a gift to have.  And when I saw the rock after knowing what I saw for myself in person, it made me realize that she also makes me feel like that rock:  Bits recognized that might be hidden to some.

burgess falls rock

It also caused me to think of those that I am seeing in bad light in my life and how I need to change the filter so that I can see the hidden areas that create a positive emotion instead of a negative one.

What a simple lesson from a rock and a friend.

Love Sally

 

Finally get to a waterfalls

Yesterday we had a nice brunch before heading out to hike to one of the dramatic water falls in the state.


I had thought there would be time to visit many, but time flew as fast as our conversations.
We headed off under soggy skies toward Burgess falls but as the rain increases and the weather app said we might have better luck later, we swung around back to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.


It is a massive hotel complex with separate wings and in between are large atriums filled with plants and water features – a boat ride can even be taken.



Once we had toured all of the areas, we once again pointed the car east toward Burgess state park. The rain continued and even got worse and with four traffic accidents passed – two on each direction of the highway, I began to wonder if maybe it just wasn’t meant for us to go.
Soon our chatter had outlasted the patter of the rain and we started to see some clearing and by he time we reached the parking lot, the sun was working to peek through.
Burgess has a small upper falls,


Followed by a larger middle falls,
Burgess Middle Falls
And then the spectacular lower falls.


I am so glad we had continued on through our doubtful moments to see them.

Left today to make it back to work by mid-day.  A harsher reality to be sure.

Love Sally

 

We go a Visiting

Saturday, Jas and I went down to Chattanooga to visit the folks we would have seen had we been going to support my cousin in his quest.

I had wanted to see a couple that I had liked so well from my first Sun Dance experience that we did not get to see at this past year’s.  It is the son of the Medicine man and his wife that had spent many hours with me during that first Sun Dance and they live in the same area we were going to.

We also wanted to visit and were expecting to stay with the folks who were to have hosted the prayerful time for my cousin.

Sometimes thing then happen to change your plans.  In Native American speak, I mooned out. (Got my menstrual cycle.)  There was another person that had scheduled to come in for his prayers when my cousin cancelled, so I could no longer stay at the house of the destination.  Mooning women cannot be around as they carry their own power during that cycle and it can interfere.

This would also mean that I would not get to sweat in the sweat lodge at either place – both sets of folks we wanted to visit have their own lodges.

So not being sure if we would get to see the folks at the original destination at all, we phoned the others and were graciously invited over there to stay.

It was great.  We sat around and just shared stories, had a wonderful meal, she played her guitar and sang wonderfully for us and we laughed and laughed.


Being with them was so welcoming that it was like being enveloped in a hug the entire time we were there.  Pretty awesome.

The area in Chattanooga is just full of hundreds of different types of deciduous trees that just create this gorgeous canopy of jungle type atmosphere.  I got up in the morning and tried to find any of the seemingly hundreds of birds that were welcoming the day as I awoke and due to the height, breadth and density of the foliage, I could not see any of them.

After sharing another meal, we headed off to see the other group as it was relayed that if I kept to the house, we could come and visit.  Again, we were welcomed with much love and were able to spend a few hours catching up on everyone’s lives before heading back to Nashville.

It was a great weekend for me and of course it also included the “road trip” talk-a-thon that seems to prevail.


Heading out for some more sites today weather pending.

Love Sally