When Life Gives You Jalapeño Jelly Rocks

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I have a little pepper garden in the back of my house. It wasn’t supposed to be a pepper garden. Payam built it for me to grow herbs but I threw in a few pepper plants because I wanted to make salsa. Over the years the pepper plants have somehow taken over and the herbs have retreated. I think there is a tiny bit of rosemary that is barely hanging on.

These pepper plants produce! They are small but mighty!  Cody helps me harvest them regularly. I think he forgets he does not like them.

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The other day when I got a big bag of jalapeños in my produce delivery box I decided something had to be done with all these peppers. I decided I would make jalapeño jelly, my favorite thing to put on bagels with cream cheese!

Problem is I’ve never really learned to can. I’ve watched my mom do it a thousand times and even helped her but I never really tried to can myself. So I called up my mom, got the basics down and headed for the hardware store to pick up jars. I chopped my jalapeños (With gloves on of course. At least I’ve learned that lesson over the years.) and started them boiling with all the added sugar. Which is a TON by the way. Maybe I lost track of how many cups I was supposed to put in and put in an extra…I don’t know!

I got distracted LIKE I ALWAYS DO. I am the queen of distraction. I am the absent minded professor of many creative projects going on all at the same time. Ooh, shiny thing! Next thing I know I was in the garage helping Payam with some design options for his cutting board business and when I walked back inside my jelly boiling timer had already gone off. I had no idea if it was one minute over or twenty. That is how deep into distraction I can get. Time is a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff

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Also I may have added two packets of pectin instead of one but I swear the micro-printed IRS form-esque directions inside the pectin box said to. Part one said: add one packet of pectin and then follow the directions to part 2. Part two said: add one packet (total 2). I swear!!! It said “total 2.” But then I threw the directions out because they were all sticky and I couldn’t pull them out of the trash because they were buried under other gross stuff so I can’t really prove anything.

Distraction + a possible misreading directions x2 variable = ROCK HARD JELLY STUCK IN JARS!

The jelly wasn’t hard when I poured it into the jars but I do remember at one point I was on the phone with my mom and the jelly mixture was off to a royal boil and it did sort of smell like candy. That may have been a clue. My gut says the pectin is fine I just over-cooked it. But I could be wrong. Maybe too much sugar, maybe too much pectin, very probably too much time.

So what to do now? I sat on it for a few hours (while social-media-ing the hell out of it of course) and then decided to microwave a jar and see what happened.

Guess what? The sticky rock jelly turned back into liquid! It bubbled and boiled right out of the jar and onto the microwave rotating dish in a royal boil mess! That seems to be a theme with me and canning. I carefully took the bubbling jar, poured it on some wax paper and let it harden.

Some places of my splat of liquified jelly were smooth and others were sticky clumps. The smooth places peeled up like a fruit roll-up when played with, while the clumpy lumps turned into the worst kind of gooey taffy that sticks to your hands and everything else in it’s path.

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Sooooooooo I decided to make little balls out of my sticky mess and roll them up in squares of wax paper. Because why not! I am like a grandmother who lived through the depression and I refuse to waste food!

The slick smooth stuff worked great, the jelly clumps not so much. It was a very sticky afternoon.

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Then because I am me, I did some quick graphic design for packaging (which is so much more in my comfort zone) and wrapped them all up in little bags to take to school pick-up aka parent social hour and handed them out to all my friends.

Guess what? They were a smashing success! Everybody loved my sticky jalapeño jelly balls even if they did have to lick them off pieces of wax paper and get their hands all sticky! They were delicious and spicy! Before I knew it I had handed almost all of them out and people were asking for more.

Now if only I could figure out how I made them!!!

Macromé and Cats Pooping Rainbows Art

big-plans

 

As you know I’ve recently moved and I’ve been all sorts of busy with unpacking and making my new home perfect. This is my happy place and I can put in incredible amounts of work in when it comes to pretending to be a stylist. We’ve been hanging pictures, making shelving units from scratch and cleaning everything from top to bottom. We have a housewarming party scheduled for this weekend and there’s nothing like a time crunch to make it all happen even manically.

I had a crazy cool project in my head. I wanted to create something like this cool all-white sea shell sculpture except I didn’t want to become a ceramist in order to pull it off. ($200 is a out of my budget.) I knew oven-baked clay was a little out of my skill set and play dough would never work so I thought I’d just spray paint the real thing white and it would look awesome! Heh.

Then I took a trip to the shell shop and learned that sea shells are not really collectible any more. You can buy them but it’s not really ethical since so many of them are endangered. You can’t collect shells at our beaches anymore without the park rangers scolding you. It’s such a drag because I remember collecting shells as such a favorite part of my summer as a kid. Maybe someday the weather will change and our beaches will be covered with them again but for now they are on the rare and protected side.

So I only went home with two bags of shells instead of the 20 I needed. I really wanted to make a big piece that would make a big impact on Bug’s wall.

I laid out my wood and started arranging my shells. I had a pretty good stash of old shells in my craft cabinet from other projects but sadly, I just didn’t have enough. Boo.

Time for plan B.

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Macrome! I remember macrame from when I was a kid. My mom had pot holders made out of rope and wooden beads. I can picture them vividly with her tupperware planters with the little water window in the bottom so you could tell if your plant needed water. Remember those? The only one I can find on the net is this one but my mom’s were rust colored and round.

I googled some macrame tutorials and decided to make a simple wall hanging. It’s easier than I thought. As I was tying knots I was thinking I could keep going and make a whole hammock this way. But then I got tired of making knots. So I pushed some beads on there. Tied a few more knots and glued on some shells. Hot glue is great. Especially when you use your handy dandy Tokyo Pen Shop pen to push the rope down into the glue instead of your finger. Not to worry, no pens were harmed in this making. The hot glue peeled right off the pen, good as new.

Then I hung it up in Bug’s room. It didn’t quite make the impact I wanted but she likes it.

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It’s just as well I didn’t end up making a big art piece because she wanted to hang a bunch of her own art including her masterpiece “Cat Pooping Rainbows.” I love that picture. I love it so much I scanned it and put it in my Etsy shop in case anyone else wants to buy it too.

selling-rainbow-pooping-catIf anyone desires such lovely art for their home I will have it printed on cardstock and have it signed and numbered by Bug herself. I figure she can pay for her Shopkins this way.

Coming next: Corners of my house! I’ve been taking all kinds of pictures and I can’t wait to share.