One Year Of Jam

Home-made jam || by marion

Wild blueberries || by marion

Raspberry and blueberry jam || by marion

Raspberry bushes || by marion

Wild blueberry and raspberry jam || by marion

Wild blueberries in the forest || by marion

Blueberry, raspberry & plum crisp || by marion

Blueberry picking forest view || by marion

Little jars, big milestone!
Last August, I made jam. August is there again: here in the north of Sweden, raspberries and wild blueberries are ripe and delicious. There’s still a jar of jam left from last year, and now I’m making more. Full circle!

On this journey to growing & foraging more of my own food,  the most important lesson I’m constantly learning is to lower my expectations and set reasonable goals.

Making one year’s worth of jam was my goal for last year. It was reasonable: raspberry bushes grow on their own in our garden, requiring zero maintenance except one yearly trimming. As for blueberries, well, the forest all around is full of them.

We’re celebrating the new berry season with Natalie’s fruit oatmeal crisp. Let me tell you, it’s delicious. After investing in a berry-picker comb, we set a new reasonable goal for this year: make another year’s worth of jam, plus freeze some fresh berries to enjoy next winter.

This is nothing like self-sufficiency, but there’s something so deeply satisfying about seeing those jars pile up. Not too little, not too much, just what we need plus some to give as gifts. Growing our own food, one little step at a time.

My super simple wild blueberry/raspberry jam

  • Servings: about 3 jars
  • Print

This is how I make my summer berries jam. I don’t even use any special jam sugar or additional pectin, but usually it sets just fine. I reuse peanut butter jars (such as pictured above) I save all year long. While I cook the jam, I sterilize the jars by putting them in the oven at 100°C for about 20 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 800 g crystal sugar (I use organic white sugar)
  • 1 kg fresh berries
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large pot. While stirring, bring to a boil, boil until a foam forms, rises on the sides of the pot and falls again. Reduce the heat and boil for a 5-10 more minutes while stirring. Pour still hot into sterilized jars. Close the jars and put them upside down to cool. The jam will seem liquid but will set as it cools.

 


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Woodworking

woodworking

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
{Inspired by SouleMama}


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What Pallets Will Become

rusty old nails

pallet

When (while wasting time surfing the web — ahem) I discovered the world of pallet furniture (so, then it wasn’t really a waste of time, was it?), I sworn that when I would have a little red house in the North, I would give it a try. In the meantime, we found an abandoned pallet next to our building and carried it up to our apartment. We installed it against the wall in the hall were it served quite honorably as a shoe rack for two years.

disassembled pallets

One day last December we drove home to our little red house from my brother’s place, the car crammed with pallets he had rescued from the trash and saved for us. They’ve remained stacked in a corner since then, waiting for us to find time to disassemble them. And now this time has come.

pallets03

There’s so many things we want to build with this wood. Bookshelves, definitely: our temporary cardboard boxes pileup is really collapsing now. Shoe racks would also be nice. And boxes for all the woolly winter hats, scarves and mittens. Desks. We’ve been dreaming of desks for so long. Desks on which whatever we’re working on can stay there when we’re having diner — luxury! A lid for the compost bin. Shelves for the bathroom. Sliding doors. Wooden walls. We’re not lacking inspiration. Now where to start?

pallets01


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Shovelling snow and making pillows

shovelling02

shovelling03

shovelling01

There was a sunny day last week, and then it started snowing. It didn’t stop until yesterday. Now the pile has reached the bottom of the living room windows.

***

I haven’t drawn in a while. Soon I’ll start making new bookworms to keep this one company. But these days, I’m shovelling snow and making pillows.

What’s better that turning old checked shirts into pillowcases on a snowy day? Often I think: I could do that for a living. I want to practice a little more, but now I’m running out of old shirts. How about a swap: you send me a bunch of old shirts, I send you a pillowcase back, and we’re quits. Yes?

***

And now? More snow shovelling.

shovelling04

shovelling05

shovelling07

shovelling06


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a writer needs warm hands

mittens-bymarion

More november gloom, and still no snow ahead. I’m spending long hours writing these days. Stirring up memories from days at the lab. My hands hurt from so much computer time. But, well, I guess it’s a good sign. And somehow, between pages, I managed to knit my first mittens to keep them warm.

on an unexpected yard sale and building a chimney

achievement-bymarion

When we moved into our tiny red house, we brought with us a toolkit containing one screwdriver, one hammer, one set of pliers, and that’s about it. While this had been quite enough to tackle any home improvement we had been facing in rental apartments where hanging a picture on a wall was taking the risk of loosing a substantial security, it soon appeared to be slightly too little in this new situation.

One day as we cycled through the neighboring village, we saw a sign saying “yard sale” in front of a beautiful old house, and stopped to have a look. We found nice little glass jars for our kitchen, and were about to leave when I asked the lady who lived there if, by any chance, she didn’t have any tools for sale. It turned out that she did. Her husband opened the garage for us to see if there was anything we would find to our taste. He explained that he and his wife were moving into a small apartment and that everything we saw was for sale.

As we were unable to know what to buy, we told him a price and asked what we could get for this. While we went to withdraw some cash, he put together three big toolboxes for us.

Long story short, we had never used a jigsaw before. And now we’ve installed a chimney and a wood stove.

It must have been heartbreaking for this couple to leave a house like theirs, and all these things, a whole life, behind. I hope we will bump into them again, so we can thank them once more, and tell them about this little achievement. For we can tell, now, how generous this man has been. There was everything, everything we needed in these toolboxes.

on not buying stuff and hot water bottles

hot-water-bottle-bymarion

Soon (hopefully), our little house will have a brand new wood stove. While we’re longing for a crakling fire, our stay-warm strategy is all about fine-tuning the electric heaters so as 1) not to freeze and 2) not to get a heart attack when receiving electricity bills.

A while ago, as I was getting ready to go to bed after a cold and white day, I found myself dreaming of a nice hot water bottle.

The next day, I did some research to find out what a hot water bottle is called in this country, and then where to buy one. The pharmacy. That is, at least, a one hour drive.

Luckily, as Gregg points out in this brilliant post, “most often the best alternative is to not buy anything”.

And, after all, a hot water bottle is not much more than a bottle of hot water, is it? I just love it, really, when that happens.