The Best Laid Plans…

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry (John Steinbeck). I had big plans for new recipes and marmalade and reduced sugar jam in January and February.

Then life happened.

First up, my annual work trip to Little Rock, AR to meet with my awesome co-workers for a few days. It was a little bitter sweet because my friend Leslie was missing this year. She’s now working at a non-profit in her local community, which is good. But I still missed her.

The Amaryllis bulb I potted up in November bloomed.

Then the flu happened. I’m talking bronchitis plus a fever of 101 for three days straight. It was very inconvenient and a terrible waste of paid time off that could have been used doing almost anything else more fun. Also, I wasn’t able to finish the batch of orange marmalade I prepped.

But then good news, my short and sweet Iris bulbs bloomed. Flowers make me so happy!

After the flu, on my hunt for a recipe to compliment my Pomelo Marmalade, I made cinnamon rolls. Unfortunately, I did not calculate the temperature of the milk which caused the yeast to rise incorrectly. So dense and flat cinnamon rolls came out of the oven. Sigh.

After getting over the flu, I celebrated Valentine’s day with delicate French pastries and wine tasting with my new boyfriend John.

It’s possible, just the tiniest bit, that I may have overdone it. The past week, I’ve been trying to catch up on my life from being sick. Honestly, I’ve also been having a super good time catching up on the fun stuff I missed out on.

I feel like this blog post is a series of random events and excuses for not doing much of anything related to jam the past few weeks. Also, I don’t know how to make it end. Maybe my mojo is off. So I’ll end it with the best, most awesome text ever from by 4 year old nephew Lincoln. As an intro, Lincoln has an imaginary sister. Because he doesn’t do things half way, his imaginary sister is Katy Perry. Now that you have the background, the text will make more sense.

Lincoln: “Hey Becky baby should come to my house sometime….my sister Katy Perry is not like my sister. Katy Perry doesn’t really like anyone in this world except me.” And that is all my friends. I promise to up my game for the next post.

Pomelo Marmalade

It’s marmalade season! In addition to Meyer lemon and navel orange, I’m adding Pomelo marmalade to the mix. Pomelos are enormous! And I am not exaggerating! Okay, I get it, too many exclamation points. But seriously, they are ginormous! Here’s a picture of a Pomelo cut in half next to a naval orange.

IMG_1842

Aunt Becky’s Pomelos are grown at Pearson’s Ranch in California. You can even order your own if you want.

IMG_1841

Pomelos are the largest fruit in the citrus family and ancient ancestors to the common grapefruit. Pomelos are sweet with little to no bitterness. A fresh segment has the flavor of a grapefruit with the sweetness of an orange.
IMG_1868

It has been a while since my last post. One of the projects that I completed was hanging up a new light over the sink in my kitchen. I like the look of these glass lights with the halogen bulbs.
IMG_1885
The new light really shows off the lovely pinky-orange of the Pomelo Marmalade.

IMG_1884

Pomelos are given during the Chinese New Year as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. Pomelo marmalade would be an excellent substitution to the fresh fruit for Chinese New Year or a delicious addition to your marmalade loves.

If You Give A Girl…

If you give a girl a Harry Potter t-shirt that says “Muggle-born” for Christmas, she’s gonna wanna make a sign with a Harry Potter reference and a nerdy, yet awesome, joke.

 

2015/01/img_1672.jpg

2015/01/img_1557.jpg

2015/01/img_1655.jpg

Once she makes a sign for her laundry area, she’ll want to sew a new cover for her ironing board.

2015/01/img_1657.jpg

2015/01/img_1659.jpg

2015/01/img_1658.jpg

When the ironing board cover is done, she’ll want a little flap for her hose connectors.

2015/01/img_1665.jpg

After her pretty fabric square is installed, the girl will notice the floor doesn’t match very well. Since the laundry area is so close, she’ll notice that the floor in her powder room doesn’t match either. So she’ll decide to paint both floors at once. That’s right! Paint!

She’ll make a trip to the craft store for supplies. The girl will weave her way around a small, very articulate, little girl picking out craft paint colors to find the perfect stencil. It will be the stencil she was looking for! The girl will laugh at her Star Wars! reference.

After the craft store, the girl will go to the home improvement store for paint to go with her new stencil. She’ll select a dove gray paint for the floor and a snow white paint for the stencil. For the time being, she’ll buy the products the guy at the home improvement store suggests.

The girl will decide to do things right. First she’ll apply a deglosser/sander. She’ll wear safety goggles and gloves because she’s a teensy bit prone to accidents.

2015/01/img_1666.jpg

Then she’ll prime both floors. At this point, she will be feeling nervous about the end result.

2015/01/img_1667.jpg

Then she’ll paint two coats of flat gray paint. She’ll feel very nervous.

2015/01/img_1668.jpg

The girl will use her fancy stencil and brushes to stencil the flower pattern using the white paint. She’ll be excited about the look but not sure about the finished product.

2015/01/img_1669.jpg

Then the girl will go to the locally owned hardware store next to the sketchy comic book store. This time, she’ll pick out a water based sealant made especially for floors that dries “crystal clear”.

The girl will read the instructions and use a basic foam roller to apply the polyurethane. (She’ll have to look up how to spell the word polyurethane.) The girl will plan another trip to the home improvement store to return the fancy brush and the oil based polyurethane another day.

The girl will apply four coats of polyurethane to the floors. After each coat dries, she’ll add the next coat.

2015/01/img_1670.jpg

The girl remembers the trick her Uncle Randy taught her for painting. She’ll wrap her wet foam applicator in a plastic bag and place it in the fridge to stay wet between coats.

When the floors are dry, the girl will try hard to wait to use them. She will fail. It won’t matter. She’ll replace her washer and dryer without scratching her new floor.

The girl will hang up her sign and her lovely ironing board with its new cover.

2015/01/img_1671.jpg

After all that crafting and painting, the girl will watch a Harry Potter movie to rest and relax.

When she watches the Harry Potter movie, she’ll want to wear her “Muggle-Born” t-shirt.

When she wears her t-shirt, the girl will want to start a project…

Space Lift

Happy New Year! When the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, the urge to clean, organize and redo is overwhelming. Often time the post-holiday blues hit as well. For me, these two conflicting feelings work together. Cleaning and revamping makes me happy and the physical exertion helps me not feel quite so depressed.

Up first up was my “Jam” room. Aunt Becky’s utilizes my somewhat funny shaped room off the dining room. I think it was originally part of the garage. At some point, a previous home owner added a laundry room on one end and a small powder room at the other end. My first project upon move in was to replace the hollow core door with a fireproof door and install a decent lock. Then I painted the walls a purple/lavender color like hydrangeas. I’ve been quite happy with the color and focused on other areas of the house and garden.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f36/57334448/files/2015/01/img_1617.jpg

As you may have guessed, purple/lavender, even the lovely color of hydrangeas. does not match Aunt Becky’s color scheme. I’ve been itching to paint. I chose a fairly standard flat white for the ceilings. Boy, painting ceilings is unpleasant. But the clean crisp white without any soot stains looks beautiful.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f36/57334448/files/2015/01/img_1618.jpg

I painted “Blue Bird” on the walls. It’s always nerve wracking in the middle of a color transformation.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f36/57334448/files/2015/01/img_1619.jpg

In the end I love it. If I’m feeling grouchy, I think it has a slight toothpaste tinge. But mostly I love that it matches my overall decor. Plus I moved my seashells and related art to compliment the color.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f36/57334448/files/2015/01/img_1620.jpg

The laundry area and powder room are in process. I’m currently waiting for the paint to dry on the linoleum floor. Hopefully Pinterest didn’t steer me wrong. Ha ha ha

Be on the lookout for a new line of reduced sugar jam from Aunt Becky; Hood Strawberry and Grape Jelly will be the first two flavors offered. With a freshly painted room, the creative jam ideas will start to flow as well.

 

 

 

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. If you purchased or received a jar of Spiced Currant and Cherry Sauce as a gift this holiday season and it says it expires in 2014, the correct expiration year is 2015. You’re welcome to contact me directly if you’re still not sure or want to confirm. I apologize for the confusion.

I made another mistake this week while feeding baby S in the middle of the night. Since he’s not adopted yet. I can only share a picture of his sweet baby hand. I’ll describe him so you get a bit of a mental image. He’s 5 months old with beautiful nut brown skin and brown eyes. He has fat baby legs and little feet. He is a very happy baby. Baby S is also a very easy baby. He smiles a lot and his laugh sounds like a dove coo. His fat rosy cheeks and sunny disposition draw you in. Then he spits up on you and laughs about it.

Baby S

I promised to take over feedings one night so Heather and Matt could get a full night sleep in. My instructions were to feed him 3 times when he woke up and cried. Heather made up two bottles in advance and I just needed to make up the last bottle. Since he has frequent tummy problems, he gets a combo of formula and oatmeal cereal which helps keep down the food. Because of the oatmeal, the nipple on his bottle has an extra large opening. This causes him to suck down his bottle at an alarming speed. He barely breathes and just chugs it. It’s quite sweet and funny. All he needs then is a quick diaper change and about 2 minutes of soothing and rocking and he goes right back to sleep. For you non baby people, Baby S is incredibly easy.

The night in question, I fed him at 1:30. He woke up again at 5:45 and I fed him again. The next time I heard him cry, I woke up and put a bottle into his mouth. He chugged down about 3/4 then kind of played with it. I checked his diaper and it was mostly dry. That’s when it occurred to me to look at the time. It was only 6:45. I stuffed two full bottles (5 oz each) into that kid in an hour’s time. Again for the non baby people, that’s like eating a full lunch and dinner within an hour of each other.

Heather laughed when I told her about the bottles. She was a little put out that he slept so good for me, but figured he knew it was amateur hour. Baby S went a little longer than usual before he was hungry again.

Aunt Becky’s in the Last Minute Shopping Guide

Aunt Becky’s is privileged to be part of the Last Minute Shopping Guide. Check out idea 48. December 21st is the last day for local delivery and online Etsy orders for guaranteed Christmas gifts.

Starting December 21st, I will be taking a much needed vacation from all things jam and focusing instead on all things about being Aunt Becky. I get to see all of my nieces and nephews this week and I could not be more excited! First, we’ll make Christmas cookies! Then we’ll wrap presents and color. Then we’ll snuggle!

special jam

The Remix

My niece Anna loves music and was born with a song in her heart. Aunt Becky’s flavors are going through some updates and changes. In order to make it fun and brag about just one of my amazingly talented nieces, I would like to first showcase Anna’s love of music.

Anna loves music! When she was 3 she often asked her mom to turn on the “moose-kick” when they were driving. Ariel has always been her favorite Disney princess; Ariel is a mermaid with a beautiful singing voice. Anna has been singing in “wee sing” at church since kindergarten.

anna wee sing

Anna enjoying an after performance candy cane.

She started playing piano in the 2nd grade. Anna participated in her 3rd grade class recorder recital (almost too awesomely nerdy for words). She also went through a thankfully very brief season in the 4th grade where she wanted to learned to play the trumpet. She practiced with my Grandpa John’s trumpet that he used when he was in the Navy in WWII. Every day I joked with my sister Heather and asked if her ears were bleeding from the sound of a small girl practicing her trumpeting skills.

One of my favorite memories of Anna’s musical talent was watching the much anticipated video of her playing the Star Wars theme on the piano on the night of Halloween while wearing her princess Darth Vader costume. Priceless!

princess darth vader

Because of her love for music, Anna also received a keyboard and headphones for composing songs in her room. She would stand in front of her keyboard with giant headphones on and a pencil and paper composing her own original works. A couple memorable titles are “My Dad Rocks!” and “How Great is Our God, The Remix”.

And here we come to the changes, Aunt Becky’s Remix. When a flavor is developed, it then goes to market. The process is pretty simple. I sample 14 rotating flavors at every farmers’ market and craft show. Certain flavors are wildly popular, like Marionberry Jam and Cherry Pie Plum Fruit Spread. Other flavors are not as well loved. In order to whittle down the list of offerings to open up opportunities for new flavors I’ve decided to discontinue several flavors (on the left) with the sister flavor that made the cut indicated next to it.

  • Spiced Apple Pie Butter = Summer Apple Butter
  • Peach Fruit Spread = Peach Bourbon Jam
  • Red Raspberry Jam = Raspberry Jam with Pear Brandy
  • Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Quince Vanilla Sauce = Cranberry Orange Sauce
  • Strawberry Wine Sauce = Hood Strawberry Fruit Spread
  • Blackberry Jam = Blackberry Merlot Jam

I’ll continue to develop recipes and flavors for currently offered and new fruits. If you have a suggestion or a favorite, I would love to hear it. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy The Remix and have a song in your heart, just like Anna Banana Cakes.

40

Yep I’m 40. And I like it. Think of all the things I can do in this decade! Be comfortable in my own skin. Not worry so much. Change. Embrace imperfections. Surround myself with people who love me just as I am. Enjoy my nieces as they grow into young women and my nephews as they enjoy being boys. Create new jam flavors, including a new line of reduced sugar jam. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Cook and bake and craft. Paint my little house classic yellow with white trim, the white color is called Icing. Grow more tomatoes and peppers in the summer. Watch my little espaliered fruit trees bloom and produce luscious plums and apricots. Travel to England and France and Italy. Keep laughing at the silly things I do and learning from my mistakes. Let it go, all the things that make my anxious. Laugh…a lot! Love and love and love and never stop, even when I get hurt. Keep my heart open and tender and have a good cry when I need it. Keep loving anyway. Live in freedom and joy. Smile like I did when I was 8.

IMG_1096.JPG

Cranberry Orange Sauce

On November 1st I saw a Christmas commercial on TV. How did we skip Thanksgiving?!? When did we start the holiday season so early and why? Do we really have to have two months of shopping and activities to cram it all in? When does life get so busy that it stops being fun?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Black olives on each finger, a turkey leg, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and pies are my must haves.

Aunt Becky’s Cranberry Orange Sauce is my latest creation just in time for my favorite holiday. Freshly squeezed orange juice softens tart Oregon cranberries and lends a very delicate orange essence to the each jar.

IMG_1062.JPG

IMG_1063.JPG

Thanksgiving is also about hanging out, wearing pants with an elastic waist and watching football or going to the movies. There’s always one or two rowdy kids and persnickety family members. A stranger or acquaintance gets invited at the last minute and becomes a part of the family. It’s about being thankful for the people who love us and we have the privilege to love year after year.

So wear your stretchy pants and play dominos or Uno. Hold new babies who are enjoying their first Thanksgiving. Be who you are. Love the people in your life.