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Friday, July 31, 2015

A Berry Sticky Day

It's 5:40 in the morning and I'm looking at two and a half GALLONS of juiced blackberries gazing back at me with ferment...err contempt after being picked last night. They need to be used within the next eight hours or we will have blackberry wine on our hands instead of blackberry jam...but we don't have pectin...and the baby is already awake...and the three year old has VBS today...30 minutes away.

So I do what any ridiculous person would do, rather than throw away the free blackberries (granted they had already incurred quite a steep bill for labor between picking and juicing time) I put a plan into action. By 9:15am I have dropped Capper off at VBS and am purchasing $38 worth of pectin at the store, who knows, I might decide to do this project again someday...when I forget how much work it is. The baby naps on the way home and wakes as I drive into the driveway foiling my plans to accomplish anything while Capper is gone. I manage to wash and sterilize all my pint size and smaller jars along with enough lids and rims. And I do math! My middle school teachers could have created an entire lesson out of all the math I do...the recipe called for 4.5 cups of blackberry juice, but that included a cup of water, but then boiled for 5 maybe I'll say it is 3.75 cups of pure blackberry juice. So I have to add .75 cups of water for every 3.75 cups of juice...but how many cups are in a gallon?? In the end I decide to add 4.5 cups of water, 6 boxes of pectin, and...well you don't want to know how much sugar. Let's just say I was glad I bought a bag of it at Costco on Saturday! Good thing I chose the "lower sugar" pectin or even my Costco bag would not have been enough!

Alarm going off! Forget the sugar it's time for the hour drive there and back to get Capper from VBS! Again, Evie takes a short nap in the car, ruining her second sleep of the day. But Capper is thrilled to have had another fun morning at sports camp so we get home and he eats, and I eat, and Evelyn eats again even though I've been feeding her all morning to keep her occupied.

OK I MUST get this jelly made or it will ferment. It's already starting to smell a bit like beer (forget that detail if you ever get any of it as a gift). I decide to let the kids tear apart the house and pull out just about every toy imaginable so I can boil water and jelly on the front porch because it's far too hot to be doing this job inside and heat the house. But of course I don't make it long before I have to intervene with the kids and rescue a crazy climbing one year old or help a three year old set up his Legos on the table so they don't be destroyed by the monster baby. Back to my boiling jam, I have to stir constantly for the next 10 minutes so I strategically set them up with toys I think will keep them occupied...but in the end the baby is crying because she is tired and Capper is crying because he tried to help her but tripped and slammed his ear into the corner of the picnic table and I can't stop what I'm doing because I'm trying to guard the area surrounding the open flame of an outdoor stove. And my shoulder is aching from stirring with a normal spoon in a 6 gallon pot without a stepstool.

10 minutes are done, I pay Capper his two nickels I promised when I asked him to go inside and get me a wet washcloth to wipe the sticky blackberry mess off my hands before touching the baby. The reward helps him start to feel better, Evelyn gets her blankie and gets put back in bed because clearly she needs a nap. Nope, evidently it's hard to go to sleep when you create the biggest load in your diaper. Maybe I should limit her plum intake. Time to change the sheets! 

Well, the nap never happened but I've gotten a couple batches done, some of it while the kids play inside, some of it while they play outside. Boil empty jars, fill jars, wipe rims, boil filled jars. Burn myself with hot water plenty during the process.

Oops! The grief counselor is here to play with Capper, is it really 3:30 already??

I've canned before. Every time I think, "That wasn't so hard? Why are people so intimidated by canning?" I get it now. Those people must try to do it with kids helping.

The day is done, I have one last batch to boil. Capper wants to go on a walk and I agree because he's hasn't had much of my attention today. It's going well and I've prepped him with the fact that we need to turn back when my alarm goes off. The alarm. We turn around. He crashes. He cries. He insists on WALKING his bike the rest of the way home. 

Too long, one jar exploded in the water. Oh well, glad my piece of glass is in the bottom of the canner now and not earlier. Glad my water is filthy now and not earlier.

And then I hear it...CLICK! The satisfying pop of sealing lids. And it seems worthwhile. Those jars full of crimson delight. I can't wait until morning when I toast a piece of bread and slather fresh blackberry jam on top! If only we had bread...maybe I should bake some!


  1. Omg that made me laugh. Woman Thou Art Awesome.... Craziness = Great Family Stories. Thanks for sharing

  2. Lindsey Royal, you are amazing and a nut and I love you! You've always been super woman to even in your most chaotic moments, you still amaze me. Thanks for being so reflective on your days and sharing them so beautifully here. I miss you friend!