How to Make Sure Jam or Jelly Sets

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How to Make Sure Jam or Jelly Sets

It is always such a bummer when you go to all of the trouble of making jam or jelly only to have it not set.  Even with best laid plans, sometimes, jam just doesn’t set.  Still, there are a couple of ways that you can improve the odds.

How to Make Sure Jam or Jelly Sets

First, the better the pot, the better the boil.  The better the boil, the better the jam.  {Say that 10 times fast.}  A large pot with an extra wide bottom allows the jam to boil faster and stronger.  It’s the whole more surface area touching the hot stove thing—it’s all very scientific and I won’t bore you with the details.  Just remember:  large, wide pot.

Get out a thermometer.  The ideal temperature for jam to set is 220 degrees.  You only need 212 degrees to boil.  There’s a bit of a gap there that could make all the difference between jam and a yummy sauce for ice cream.

How to Make Sure Jam or Jelly Sets

Always test the jam before you remove it from the heat.   Put a little dollop onto a plate and throw it in the fridge or freezer for 5 minutes, if it has started to become solid and goopish, it’s done.  If it is still runny and liquidy {I’m sure that’s a word} then cook it for another 5 minutes or so.

pamonas pectin

Follow the recipe exactly.  I know it is super tempting to do the impossible and make a lower sugared jam/jelly than the recipe calls for, but RESIST changing the ratios.  The pectin needs the exact amount of sugar to do its job—and the pectin wants so badly to do its job.  You don’t want to rob the pectin of its only purpose in life, do you?  I didn’t think so.

For low pectin recipes check out Pomona’s Pectin. I’ve used it a few times and it works great.

What do you think, are there any other tips and tricks you’ve learned to make sure your jam and jelly sets?

~Mavis

See my Canning Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.



Planting Thanksgiving Plants in July {Yes, I’m Serious!}

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digging-up-potatoes

While I love me some turkey and pumpkin pie, seems odd to be thinking about Thanksgiving in July. But in my latest eHow article, Time to Plant Your Thanksgiving Veggies, I’m talking all about getting a head start on planting the veggies you’ll need for your fall garden, just not where you’d think.

I know, it’s the middle of summer, so who wants to think about Thanksgiving? We’re only supposed to be worried about harvesting our tomatoes, potatoes and beans right about now, right? Wrong.

Late July is actually the perfect time to get a jump start on planting your fall vegetable garden. Yep, you heard me. If you plan on serving some homegrown vegetables this Thanksgiving, now is the time to get those seeds planted.

Go HERE to read the full article…

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Amazing Puggle Dog Eats Blackberries, The Blind Cross Stitcher, and The Case of the Missing Stuffed Animals

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lucy the puggle dogLucy the Puggle Dog and I went on a walk last night to checkout the blackberry status in our neighborhood. Last year the HOA chopped down our main supply of blackberry bushes down by the park because they were an eyesore. :( So this year we have to do a little hunting if we want to collect enough berries for pies and jam. BOOO! I posted a little video of the Amazing Lucy Puggle on YouTube if you want to see. ;)

lucy the puggle dog stuffed animals

In other news… The Girl Who Thinks She’s a Bird has been going through all her stuffed animals, weeding out which ones she wants to donate to the thrift store. lucy the puggle dog

Although if Lucy has anything to do with it she’ll be keeping them all. So far 4 plush toys have mysteriously disappeared from The Girls donation box. ;)

rug hooking wool

A giant box of wool arrived yesterday. 13 yards to be exact. I figure it’s plenty to keep me busy and out of trouble through the end of the year. Plus I have a feeling I’ll be needing some more area rugs soon… but more about that a bit later. :) :) :)

a plump wife primitive sampler

I tried my hand at cross stitch but I think I’m just going to go ahead and throw in the towel. I fear if I don’t stop now I will end up with crippled hands and blind. I think primitive samplers a beautiful, I really do, and I applaud anyone who has the patience to finish one but I just don’t think I’m cut out for it. I could never hack in it Victorian times that’s for sure.

beef stir fry

And last but not least, dinner. Holy cow man, are you on vegetable overload lately? Every night around here lately is stir fry night. The HH probably thinks I’ve gone mad. It’s amazing he still eats the stuff.

Ahh summer. Isn’t it grand?

How about you, what have you been up to lately? Have you ever tried cross stitch before? Did you finish it? Can you still see?

~Mavis

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

What Are Your Tips for Raising Nice Kids?

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Tips for Raising Nice Kids

I ran across an article on The Washington Post the other day about raising kind kids.  It got me thinking, we all want our kids to be kind, but how do we teach them kindness and empathy?  I think everyone goes about the “how” a little differently.

The article gave 5 ways to make sure kids learn kindness:

  1. “Make caring for others a priority.”  Basically, putting others in front of your own moods {i.e. treating people with respect even when they are having a bad day} and teaching them to honor commitments they’ve made.
  2. “Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude.”  This one suggested expecting children to pitch in and help, without going overboard on complementing them for it, and giving them opportunities to express their gratitude.
  3. “Expand your child’s circle of concern.”  Talk about the injustices in the world, highlight other peoples struggles, and let kids offer suggestions on how they could make them better.
  4. “Be a strong moral role model and mentor.”  This one is kind of a no brainer, but it did make me think about HOW I treat others and what my kids are seeing.
  5. “Guide children in managing destructive feelings.”  This is one I think most adults don’t even have a handle on.  Stress, anger, etc. are tough to manage.  Giving kids tools to manage them so that they don’t take them out on others is a biggie.

I thought the article brought up some pretty good general ways to teach kindness.  I know I have some amazing readers out there, though, that could totally trump these.  So, how do YOU teach your kiddos to be kind?  How much do you value kindness as a character trait?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

One Grocery Store’s Solution to Food Waste

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A big thanks to my friend Heather who shared this video and article about a grocery store in France on a mission to reduce food waste with me.

Intermarche, a large grocery store chain in France, is taking food waste into their own hands.  Instead of only buying the “perfect” looking fruits and veggies {which as any gardener knows, leaves a lot of “imperfect” waste}, they are buying up the stuff the farmers would have thrown out.  They mark it down, give it its own showcase in the store, and then watch as people buy it up.  They also create in-house juices and soups with it, which apparently fly off the shelves.  Genius, I tell ya.

mutant carrots

I wish they would do something like that here in America {Maybe they do?  Does anyone know of a grocery store that sells the ugly fruits and veggies?}  In America, the average family wastes about 25% of the food they throw out.  That roughly equates to $1500 dollars a year just getting tossed into the trash.

food-waste-in-America-Saveitsunday

Click HERE and check out my food waste experiment.  Trust me, if you haven’t read about it, your mind will be blown.

Food waste is one of those things that just kills me–especially quality, nutrient packed food.  I go to some pretty serious lengths to make sure food doesn’t go to waste around here.  For one, I organize my fridge so that things don’t get lost in the abyss.  Fruits and vegetables that are about to go bad get pureed and frozen for smoothies, soups, etc.  And while I am terrible at meal planning, it DOES cut down on waste.  Plain and simple.  {Check out my tips on reducing food waste for more ideas.}

Preventing Food Waste - Freeze Extra Juice and Make Smoothies

I thought this was another genius solution to a HUGE global problem.  I would totally buy the misshapen fruits and vegetables–especially at a discount.  How about YOU?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Getting Stung by Bees, Doggie Treats, Geese, and That 17 Pound Restoration Hardware Catalog

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getting stung by bees

My neighbor Hulda came down yesterday to pick raspberries and ended up getting stung. Not once, but twice. Eeek! The Girl got stung picking raspberries later in the day as well. :( Do bees make hives in raspberry patches? I’m allergic to bees so I think I’ll have the HH investigate this weekend for us.

I sure hope there isn’t a hive in there… I need more berries!

feeding canada geese

An early morning walk on the beach. The Canada geese around here are way to relaxed if you ask me. restoration hardware catalogs 2014

Did you receive a 17 pound stack of Restoration Hardware catalogs last month? Oh my word! I’ve never even ordered from Restoration Hardware before so I have no idea why they sent catalogs to me.  Do they really think I’m interested in a $5,000 sofa?

Maybe if they didn’t send out 17 pound catalogs they could lower there prices a wee bit.

mud bay dog store

Doggie treats. Lucy is in L.O.V.E. with Paragon Whimzees Dental Chews. She carries her little chewy around with her throughout the house, half playing with it and half gnawing on it. It takes her about a week to go through one of them and it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever to watch.

needle punch thread

The kids and I were at the thrift store the other day and a bag full of Needle Punch thread was calling my name. 30 spools for $3.99. Just one goes for about $2.50 at the shops so I think I made out pretty good.

Of course I have never needled punched anything in my life before… but it’s on my craft to do list. ;)

zaycon foods dishtowel

Hey! I checked my P.O. Box for the first time in 3 months and found some kinds notes, scrapbooking cutouts, a free dish towel from Zaycon Foods, and a Mama Kangaroo from Australia. Pretty neat if you ask me. Thank you friends from the internet, its always nice to get stuff in the mail.

Unless of course you’re that guy from Kentucky who wrote me that long love letter. That was awkward.

oak leaf lettuce pictures

Oak Leaf Lettuce. Ain’t it purdy? Think how much money brides could save if they walked down the aisle carrying bouquets of fresh vegetables instead of flowers.  If I could do it over again I’d totally do this.

But then again, I’m a little odd.

Have a great weekend everyone,

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Working Outside the Home Vs. Staying at Home – Which is More Stressful?

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Working Outside the Home Vs. Staying at Home

I know that working outside the home versus staying at home is an age-old debate.  There are always two camps, each firm in their beliefs.  In light of an article I just read, I wanted get your opinion from a different perspective on the subject.

The article stated that a recent study found that mothers that worked full time {as opposed to part time or not at all} were actually healthier, both mentally and physically, than those who didn’t.  The study tested participants’ {men and women} saliva throughout the day, looking for elevated cortisol levels {the stress hormone}, and found that they were higher during home life than work life.  The article suggested that perhaps the lower stress at work comes from a defined set of expectations and the idea that you could always quit if things got too bad {whereas quitting family life is usually not an option}.

I’m not really interested in starting a debate over which choice is “right,” I really just wanted to hear what YOU thought about the idea that work is a bit of escape from the stresses of family life.  For those of you that work full time, do you find it is a stress reliever?  Do you find you are less stressed when you get home after working versus the days where you are at home all day long with the kiddos and hubby?  I can totally see how having something of “your own” would lead to a more fulfilled human being, but I also have always wondered how working moms manage to get everything done without pulling their hair out.

So, what do you think?  Is work a stress-reliever?  I would love your honest opinions!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Lancaster Central Market – Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

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Lancaster Central Market

I almost forgot to tell you about our trip to the Lancaster Central Market.

Oh my word it was cool!

Lancaster Central Market produce stands

After an amazing homemade breakfast at our friend Zoë’s house, The Girl and I headed off to the Lancaster Central Market in Pennsylvania  for some lunch supplies for our drive to JJ’s house in Virginia last month.

Lancaster Central Market  bakery

The Lancaster Central Market is basically the hub of Lancaster.  In fact it’s the oldest ongoing farmer’s market in the country.  It. Is. Huge.  If you can’t find something to eat there, seriously, you aren’t hungry.

You can piece together a meal out of fresh produce, baked goods, cheese and deli meats, or you can sample a pretty wide array of international foods {German, Greek, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Slavic, etc}.

Lancaster Central Market flowers

The market began in the 1730′s.  It was chartered by King George II in 1742–making the the country’s Royal Market town {a title the residents took quite a bit of pride in}.  The market buildings were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Lancaster Central Market Milk

Each week, about 3000 people visit the market.  Most of them are locals stocking up on their weekly food stuffs {which makes the market waaaay less of a tourist trap and a bit more charming}.

Lancaster Central Market Produce

We gave it 4 thumbs up. Go there. It’s awesome.

How about you, what is the best market you’ve ever stepped foot in?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Clever Way to Keep Bugs Out of Your Drinks

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Clever Way to Keep Bugs Out of Your Drinks

Summer time BBQ’s are awesome.  Bugs floating in your lemonade or vitamin water are not.  Luckily, with some mason jars, cupcake liners, and straws, you can totally keep the bugs out–all while amazing friends and neighbors–like a party throwing magician.

Clever Way to Keep Bugs Out of Your Drinks

You’ll Need:

Cupcake liners
Paper Straws {or regular, but I like the paper ones}
Mason jar {I used pint sized}
Bands for the jar

Keep Bugs Out of Your Drinks

Directions:

Brace yourself, these are complicated ;) .  Starting with a mason jar, flip a cupcake liner upside down and place it over the mouth of the jar, screw the band carefully over the jar, holding the liner in place as you do.  Using a pen, or some other pointy object, poke a hole for the straw and then slide the straw into place.  I know, it’s rocket science.   You may have to read the directions more than once.

Now, go get your outdoor party on.

~Mavis

Clever Way to Keep Bugs Out of Your Drinks

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

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mavis butterfield one hundred dollars a month

Even though I have five years of blogging under my belt, there is one type of comment I get from time to time that I still have no idea how to answer:

I really enjoy your site– you have a lot of great tips to share. One thing I’ve thought about though: how much is your time worth? Of course we all have finite life spans so everything we do is a tradeoff– a portion of our precious life in exchange for something. But on the less philosophical side, how many hours do you spend in gardening, canning, freezing, coupon clipping, etc. , as well as how much money spent on gas/electricity to run a larger freezer, heat canning stuff, etc?

If you subtract the extra money you spend on energy from what you save per month, then divide the result by how many hours you spend in money-saving activities how much per hour you are earning/saving?

Which is more beneficial in terms of dollars per hour– working extra hours at a job or working those hours at home and in your garden to save money? (Not that everything comes down to money— sometimes the satisfaction that comes with accomplishing or creating something is more of a reward than money).

~Beth

canning beets

When I get a comment like that, it is really one of the most difficult for me to answer. Because the answer is complex and personal and unique to just me. Let’s face it, I march to the beat of my own drum. Who else do you know crazy enough to grow 2,000lbs of food in their backyard and try to live on $100 a month and actually find a TON of joy in that. I know that sentiment is not shared by many.

It’s possible I have a few screws loose! So for that reason, I want to scream from the rooftop every time someone asks me a similar question {and it’s more often than you’d imagine}: it’s TOTALLY worth it to me.

My gut instinct is to say I’d spend twice as much time doing just what I do because I love it. I love this lifestyle and I love gardening and I love feeling the dirt between my fingers and knowing I’m doing right by my family.

I SERIOUSLY ENJOY IT. And you really can’t put a price tag on that.

Don’t get me wrong, I do get where people are coming from. I had a friend once who bought a fixer-upper house with her husband a few years back. They decided to do all the work themselves to save money on the renovations. They put so much sweat, tears and hours into that house that when they were done, both would tell you that is wasn’t worth it at all and if they had to do it again, they’d hire almost all of it out. The reason? They didn’t love what they were doing. At all. I do!

A great example of the opposite of that would be my friend Jennifer’s cousin Zoë. She cooks from scratch, cans her extra garden produce, makes oodles of handmade quilts for her home and her shop on Etsy, She’s amazing. And I bet if we were to add up the hours she spends doing those “chores,” it might seem like a waste of time on paper.

But it’s not to her. And it certainly isn’t to me. I know that might seem crazy to some, but if you’re doing something that gives you joy, it becomes less about how much it’s saving you. The fact that I do save a ton of money doing what I do is a big fat bonus. The icing on the cake really.

primitive hooked star rug

We all do all things because we like to do them, not because it’s necessarily cheaper, faster or easier. But because our time is worth something to us. The time, heart and energy I put into something is worth more than the money I can swap out of my bank account for something cheaper off the shelf at Walmart.

Pretty much these days about 75% of what I do is accomplishing or creating something that means more to me than money. Sometimes price tags just don’t matter!

Life is short.

Be happy.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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