Sunday, June 6, 2010

Busy as a Woman Can Be . . .

Have you ever read "The Giving Tree," by Shel Silverstein?

That's what's been keeping me so busy around here this past weekend.
At the beginning of the spring, our peach tree was a beauty.  But it needed to be thinned right around the middle of April and we were slightly busy around then (Heidi's wedding, in case you've forgotten), so the tree was neglected.
One morning I was looking out the kitchen window when I saw the branches drooping precariously.  One had even split.  But it was too late, I'm afraid.  We thinned what we could, but we were unwise stewards this season.  The tree has MASSIVE amounts of peaches on it.  We picked and picked.  We ate and ate.  We used them as a stop in our backyard obstacle course.  We used them as projectiles (well, the boys did).  But there were still hundreds, so I decided to get busy.  I made peach jam.  And although it's an involved process, it's a beautiful process.

Can you see the difference between the two pictures? When you add the sugar, the liquid immediately clears and takes on this shimmery beautiful quality.
Don't get me wrong.  This was a ton of work.  How much work?  Let's see.  I peeled and pitted and chopped for three hours total.  Then making and bottling took another four.  And then two hours to clean the stove and kitchen. How did I do this with a nursing baby, you ask?  Nope, no magic wand.  No super powers.  Not even a helpful husband (he was gone to youth conference with our big boys this weekend or he definitely would have helped).  This is how: I did all the work in shifts.  I peeled and pitted and chopped at night, then added the lemon juice and some Ever Fresh and refrigerated them overnight.  The next afternoon, while Evie took her good 3-hour nap, I stirred and cooked and bottled.  I did this on two different days--and besides an extremely sticky and messy kitchen (and a broken dishwasher--let's not go there), this is what I got:
Aren't they gorgeous? Is there anything more beautiful that freshly canned fruit (besides a clean house)?  That's
19 pints
56 jelly jars (8 oz.)
12 mini jars (4 oz.)

Exactly 800 ounces of beautiful tasty jam.  And I was so prepared and forward-thinking as I made it.  Methought: Self, what a great gift for friends and neighbors at Christmastime when life is so stressful and you have no time to make something tasty?
I had it all figured out--until I realized that I had miscalculated the sugar in 28 of the jars.  I had doubled the recipe (actually quadrupled it--you should have seen me stirring with two wooden spoons like one of the Fates in Macbeth) but not the sugar.  So, 28 of the jars will not set up correctly.  Doesn't that stink?  It was still just as much work to make "syrup"  as it was to make jam.
Luckily, I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal.  Because this stuff is PERFECT for pancakes, French toast, crepes, and especially vanilla ice cream!  I also mixed a teeny bit into Evie's cereal.  She like!
And although it is a great "invention," so to speak, there's no way our family can use 28 jars of it.  So now you're lucky, too!  I've decided to make it part of my giveaway.  I haven't had a giveaway since Paige and Kristen guessed Evie's birth date.  It's about time, don't you think?

Here are the fantastic prizes:

First, this book by DeAnne Flynn, The Time-Starved Family.  Brad gave it to me for Mother's Day a year ago, and frankly I was offended that he thought we were overloaded.  Didn't he think I was handling things very well around here?  It took me almost a year to swallow my pride and read it.  And I would venture to say that it has changed my mothering perspective this summer.  Maybe even permanently.  I really like DeAnne's no-nonsense approach to managing her family of nine, just like mine!

Second, this quote by Neal Maxwell is one of my favorites.  I've struggled with this concept a lot this last year, and I hope I'm beginning to trust a little bit more.

Third, two 8-oz. bottles of my beautiful, tasty, only-slightly-runny peach syrup.  And you thought Georgia was the peach state, Natalie!  How wrong you were, my friend!

So, what do you have to do to win?
Simply leave a comment on my blog, describing one project you are going to accomplish this summer--big or small.
And if you're a follower, you'll get a second entry, just for posting your pretty face in my sidebar.
If you want to link your blog to mine talking about my giveaway, you'll get a third entry. Leave me a comment to let me know of your link.

None of this facebook/twitter stuff. Sorry. I don't go there.

Winners will be announced next Monday, June 14. I'll have Miss Lily assist me with drawing names. Good luck. And I love all y'all!

I really hope my giving tree survives the season. As much work as it's been, I've loved it. The apricots are next!blogAnd if you know where I live, there are still some left if you want them. More than some--lots. But I think I'm about peached out.

Linking up to DIY Project Parade
Linking up to Motivate Me Monday
And as a special bonus, Tucker's quilt was featured over at New Nostalgia over the weekend. Thanks, Amy!

New Nostalgia


  1. TOTALLY left a great comment, and stupid blogger wasn't working. UGH!

    Anyway, all i can say is, good for you and all your peeling, chopping self. The very thought of that process makes me want to pull my face off. So, mad props go out to you.

    I plan on organizing my pics and old letters this summer. Oh, and also really, REALLY cleaning my house. Hope that counts.

    Proud of you for staying sugar free. I wanted chocolate today, and jere rudely was eating it literally in my face, so I could smell it. Not cool. But I won!

  2. ANd GREAT! My last comment worked! Whatever

  3. That is an impressive amount of jam!! Stopping by from motivate me Monday.
    -Mama E

  4. Oooooh I SO want some of that syrup!! Sounds yummy over some good ol' Blue Bell ice cream. . . getting hungry just thinking of it. . . . .

    My big project for the summer: send out my book proposal. Think I can do it? We will soon see. . . .

  5. i ADORE peaches, so this post made me so so sooo hungry! btw, count this as my entry cause first of all we're cut from the same cloth (i luv the giving tree). my interest has been peaked by the time starved family book....i've done the teeter-totter deciding thing about reading it until i saw an interview with deanne and now i want to read it. just haven't ordered it yet.
    so that's it. enter me!
    and i follow you, but am i in your bar? if not i will be within seconds! =)
    have a great night.
    ::fingers crossed::

  6. First of all..I completely agree. There is no better sight than all those beautiful canned jars of yumminess stacked so prettily in your pantry. (i'm a bit obsessed with haven't actually done it yet myself..but bought all the supplies and just waiting for the right moment..once again you've inspired me!)....and second..would LOVE to read this book! Great giveaway Jen!! Way to go on your canning accomplishment!!

  7. I'm drooling over your peachy yumminess! Peaches in our area aren't ready for a couple months yet. And, I can't wait because fresh peaches are probably my favorite fruit!

    Project this summer for me? Oh, I've got a list. I want to make and can home-made salsa from our home-grown tomatoes this year. I want to paint a couple pieces of furniture that I have. And, I want to do a major house decluttering.

    Have a wonderful Monday!

  8. That's a TON on jam!! You are super woman. I would LOVE some of your rejects. And I hope you got all the sticky off your floor?

    My summer project? I'll be making jam, too. Usually apricot jam, and then hopefully our peaches will do well and I can bottle those.

  9. That's a lot of peaches!...but you're right - it's a great feeling to look at all that bottled sunshine.
    This summer? I have a guest room to fix up before the end of August - that's my big project.

  10. There's nothing better! We have 2 peach trees and a cherry in our backyard. Love to make jam!

  11. Is there anything as good as homemade peachiness? It would have been perfect on the waffles I just enjoyed. I know that is a ton of work. If you really need help eating apricots, we are game. I can even send over a picker who I am sure would be glad to visit anyway :) Have a wonderful day!

    p.s. My project? Gather the "give it" pile in ONE spot and then give it.

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  13. millions of peaches, peaches for free?

    This summer I plan on saving money so we can have a heftier sum in our savings come Fall. Sounds fun, right?

    We're calling it "The Summer of Scant." good times

  14. Wow! That looks like a LOT of work...good for you! I've made strawberry jam before but never peach jelly. I love peaches! I had one the other day that tasted like was so good.

    I'm putting together a "healthy" cookbook w/ motivational quotes for a fundraiser at our local rec center. That's my project. Maybe I will do my first giveaway when it's finished!

  15. Yum. Wish I lived closer! But what I will have to do instead is get lucky and WIN.

    My summer project is to clean out every closet in this entire house. I'm about 1/3 of the way there.


    PS. You are amazing for having gotten all of that done, even with the sugar error...!

  16. i remember my mom making crab apple jelly and it not setting. We loooved the syrup for pancakes. It was such a treat, and oh so good over ice cream too.
    What a great mom, and thank you for the book suggestion. I'm going to see if our local library has it right this minute. A new perspective is always good.

  17. Oh man! Peach jam is the BEST. I remember I was making freezer jam and for the life of me I kept mixing the pectin in like it was sugar instead of boiling it. You wouild think that after ruining 2 batches I would have remembered...but NO! Not me. That piece of my brain must have left me with my third child.
    My project for this summer is to actually PLANT a garden. As of yet it is still in my mind with a side yard full of weeds. This week I am going to do it...I hope.
    Then maybe I can post my canning blunders in the fall. Let's hope for the best. If you wanna get rid of some of that peachy-yumminess, send it my way!

  18. Aw...that is a fortunate bummer! Nothing better than unset jam over pancakes and ice cream. MmMmMmMmMmMmMmMm!!!

  19. This is like a forecast of my upcoming week. Our peaches are prime this week, and apricots hopefully will survive the birds and I can do those in a couple of weeks. Last year I made peach jam as well as: peach-strawberry, peach blueberry, peach raspberry, peach apricot, tropical peach (with mango,pineapple, and papya). I just don't think you can go wrong with homemade goodness! They all went over fabulouslyl! Here's hoping I get a ton of jam too! We may have to come take some off your hands if I run out-don't have as many this year.

    Projects this summer: Getting rid of all the toys we don't use, cleaning out/up all the closets, canning peaches and successfully canning salsa. Haven't had a recipe yet that we love-love some tips on that!

  20. PS--that book sounds fabulous! We should read it for book club, I'd love to discuss something like that.

  21. Oooh, we want the peach syrup! That was a serious amount of work. I'm thinking HOT kitchen. I hate to can stuff in the summer. But I'm totally jealous about the peach tree. We have a neighbor that makes peach salsa from her peaches, I bet that is delicious too.

    This summer, I'm planning on teaching my girls (down to Andria)how to make a simple skirt. First I need to find some time. . . Maybe I need your book?

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  23. Oops. Anyway....

    I am still in awe of all that you do.

    My sole goal for the summer is to implement this in my home:

    "The observance of four simple things on the part of parents would in a generations or two turn our societies around in terms of their moral values.
    They are simply these: Let parents and children (1)teach and learn goodness together, (2) work together, (3) read good books together, and (4) pray together

    -Gordon B. Hinckley

    I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

  24. Jen- that's quite the feat. single handed even!

    I love peaches- sadly we lost our peach tree last year, and I have none to bottle this year (so that's off of my to do list this summer). Have you tried bottling peach pie/cobbler filling- I did 20 jars last year- so luckily I have some peach something to fall back on until we get a new tree.

    I am hoping to get the crap shack cleaned out, basement and all, no more yw storage!

    And preggo, I'm jealous- I love blue bell ice cream- the only place I've ever been able to find it is in TX.

  25. My summer project? To finish painting the dresser for Katie. It's only been 14 years in the making! So here is my comment, I am a follower, and I've done a post linking to your giveaway. Can you tell I want some peachy goodness? Peaches are my favorite! (and the other prizes are good too!)

  26. Keep jammin' girl! industrious of you. I plan on painting all my interior (cheapie) doors BLACK! Hope they are as chic in my home as in mags and other blogs. :) I'm a follower too. Thanks so much for the chance of getting some yummy jam!

  27. i just found you through a friend... and am thoroughly tempted by the jam and a good read.

    so this summer i will be focusing mostly on staying healthy for our first baby (eating well, staying active, etc.)

    i also want to focus getting my house in order! it doesn't sound that stressful, until i look at our calender for the next couple months! hehe.

    Thanks for the great contest!

  28. Look at all that beauty. I love the way canned food looks all lined up. Beautiful.

    My project for the summer is to complete training for a job I just got hired for. The month of June will be spent driving to Draper (30 minutes) and spend 4 hours sitting through training. Since my body doesn't work so good, the sitting is really hard for me. Once training is done, I'll be able to work from home. Yeah! We really need the extra money with the expense of the adoption. So I'm looking forward to completing this and getting a little paycheck!

  29. What a yummy sticky accomplishment!

    Let's see, my big summer project:
    1. Launder every stitch of stinky smokey clothing, bedding, curtains and towels for a family of ten...62loads down and sooo many more to go!
    2. Price 1432 items the fire clean up crew threw away...right down to the sippy cup about tedious!

  30. I cannot believe the picture of that jam! incredible! I would love to taste your peach syrup :) This summer I would love to get our garage cleared out. We moved into this house 5 months ago now and it is a complete disaster and is actually quite unsafe. if we could donate and/or sell at least half of the stuff in there and create a walking path my life would be complete haha! :)

  31. Hooray for giveaways! Love the variety of yours :)

  32. Projects you say? Oh, I have SOOO many! FOr one I'm trying to get matching dresses for my daughters made before going home for visit because my mom has arranged a photo shoot. The biggest thorn in my side right now is a handbag by Heather Bailey that I started and haven't touched in 2 months!

  33. I am completely mind boggled at the amount of peach jam you made! Oh my! You really were a busy person! If only I had your jam making skills...the peach tree in my non-existent back yard would help too.

  34. My summer project: wean my baby in time for girls camp. (two weeks away! yikes!)

  35. i'm a peach freak!!!

    hope ur pantry is huge? i'd kill for a large pantry! now we use ever single space we can!
    i'm begging hubs to knock out a section in the butler's pantry wall...(the other side is the huge space under our stairs) and have a crawl space for more pantry stuff!

  36. are energetic!!

    I am planning on refinishing a dining room table!

  37. Amazing looking jars of jam you made there!! :)
    I'm impressed! It's about all I can do to whip out a dozen muffins in the morning!!;)
    This summer I hope to accomplish a mini-makeover of our basement/playroom! And cleaning out the storage closet would be a bonus!
    Enjoy the night!

  38. I have just finished a big project...fixing the sprinkler/lawn irrigation system...broken pipe. Still got many more to do... ac system, car repairs, and many more.

    Enter me into the contest. I loves teh peach.

  39. Hi! Rearranging the boys room is my project. They want a "Grown Up" room. Taking down the bunk beds and getting rid of baby knick knacks.
    We are almost done!

    Oh....I'll be following for sure!

  40. That is a lot of jam and a lot of work!
    Please enter me in the contest.