Jammin' Like the Old Days

My childhood was filled with fresh vegetables.  My grandparents tended a garden the size of their entire backyard and when that wasn't enough, they crept over to the the neighbors.

I love sliced cucumbers in vinegar and water.  The closest thing to heaven is eating a freshly picked tomato straight from the vine... sliced... with a little salt. 

Seriously salivating right now. 

Everything that was grown, was also canned.  I remember spending days scalding, peeling and canning tomatoes.  We used pie plates for the scraps, aprons tied around our necks and tomato juice dripping down our arms.

Someday I want to do that with my own garden and my children.  But two little ones and a new house with clay soil means it will take me awhile to get to that point.  But in the meantime, I had a hankering to try something.  With recent berry sales at the grocery stores
($.88 and $.99 per pound!),
Strawberry Freezer Jam fit the bill.

My 2-year-old helped...or tried to help.  She did quite a bit of sampling and likes to pour ingredients, but measuring isn't quite her style.  Despite my assistance penchant for doing it her way, by following the instructions on the package of Certo pectin or Ball pectin, we had 24 8-oz jars of freezer jam in a short amount of time.   

I LOVE these decorative Ball jars. So pretty.  I am definitely planning to consume lots of jam, but I also plan to use these as gifts.  These particular set of jars came with labels as well.  I have already passed out a couple for thank you gifts and will probably decorate them a bit more at Christmas times. 

This was my first attempt at this and I am rather pleased with myself.  If catastrophe struck, we may not have alot of vegetables, but we could sustain ourselves for at least a few days on Strawberry Jam. 

Now the biggest challenge will be to not eat it all myself and save some for gifts. Maybe one more biscuit tonight though. :)


Summer Splashing

I saw this on Positively Splendid first in her Summer Survival Guide, but this is originally from House of Hepworths.  I love the simplicity of this. 

 It's like reusable water balloons

You can't replace water balloons, but they do take hours to make and are gone in just a few minutes leaving everyone wanting for more. 
 These fabulous little creations are so simple to make and can be used again and again

I first brought these out for the 4th of July and then used them again just recently for a playdate. 
These have been a hit with little ones and adults alike

The men boys in my family enjoyed them as much as the little ones.  My two-year-old is happy to carry them back and forth from one bucket of water to the next over and over again.  She is too funny to watch and a little OCD at times.  :) 

I found my sponges at Dollar Tree and I am saddened that I can't find anymore of these sponges there.  I am still looking at other stores. 
I like these particular sponges in particular
1) because of their bright, fun colors and
2) because these are more like foam and are very soft. 

The cellulose sponges are more stiff and dry very hard.  I am still on the look out for more. 

I cut each sponge lengthwise into 4 pieces.  Then chose 8 fun color pieces that I liked together and tied in the middle. 
It truly is that simple!

The first time I made these I used fishing line, but the line cut into my fingers as I tried to pull them tight and despite my best efforts, some of them fell apart after a few throws. 
 So I redid them with zip ties.  Using zip ties makes them much easier to construct, but you want to be careful to cut the excess zip tie length as close to the clasp as possible.  Otherwise, there might be a sharp part when being tossed around. 

I love that we will be able to use these for
many ages and stages and when we need more or they need to be replaced it's a quick, easy project