Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ghostly Spools

After making the jack 'o lantern spool craft, I wondered what other Halloween decorations I could make with the plethora if wooden spools into house. I came up with ghosts. The instructions are the same as for the pumpkin spools: you'll need white acrylic paint, a black sharpie ( or black paint if you've a steady hand ), modpodge and twine. 

Begin by painting the spools white and allow to dry. You may need several coats. Then draw on desired ghost features and apply one coat of Modpodge. When dry, thread one spool  onto the twine and knot the bottom. Make sure the knot is large enough to hold the spool. Then spread the remaining spools and make a loop at the top. My ghost decoration is only five spools long, but a longer one could be a lot if fun.

Ta da!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wild Grape Jelly

It's amazing what you can find if you just open your eyes and look around a little. While on a walk on the trail with my husband and son, we saw what looked to be wild grapes.
 My daughter and I returned the next day to pick all that we could reach. Some vines grew much too high while others were too far in the brush.
 We ended up with a nice haul! After soaking the grapes in water and vinegar (weak) to kill the spiders (gross!) I drained and rinsed them. Then I sorted the grapes while watching television. I learned something, too: it's always important to remember you have a bowl of grapes on your lap when the phone rings, especially when you have light carpet.  Luckily, I had some carpet cleaner hiding in the cabinet. 
Then it was time to make jelly! After cooking down the grapes and smashing them (using a recipe from and then draining the juice, I ended up with about 4 1/2 cups of juice. I had to add a little water to obtain the required 5 cups, and then made the jelly. The recipe made 7 half-pints of jelly.

The jelly turned okay, but when I bought pectin, I didn't know there was such a thing as low-sugar pectin. After I got over having to add SEVEN cups of sugar, I resolved to be sure and buy the low-pectin next time, or not use it at all.

No-pectin jam is possible, because I also made blueberry-elderberry jam and just did the spoon test to see if it had jelled.  Not sure I'll do that again, because sorting elderberries is extremely tedious, and I only got 1 1/2 half-pints.  It certainly makes a nice gastrique!

I'm really enjoying this canning thing, and now that I have 9 gallons of Bartlett pears in my kitchen, I'm ready to make some more jelly!