balsamic.onion.jam

What the hell is onion jam? Think of carmelized onions in a concentrated and ready to go form. Spread it on burgers, fancy sandwiches, plop it on an over the top boujie pizza. You name it, you should eat it. And you know what? It’s super easy to make.

Rough cut 9-10 large onions. Feel free to use whatever you have around or mix and match red, yellow, white, etc. And if you have some shallots or garlic kicking around? Chop those up as well.

Put your cut onions in a large pot or dutch oven with a large half cup of brown sugar.

Cook these down until they are browing and you start to get those yummy fronds on the bottom of the pot. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the water content in your onions. Stir as needed.

When your onions have cooked down, add 2 cups red wine (straight outta the box, yo!) and 6 TB of balsamic vinegar. Add 3/4 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp pepper. A little bit of thyme would probably be a great idea because thyme is amazeballs.

Cook this down until it reaches a nice thick consistency and add to sterlized jars. Water bath for 10 minutes.

Allow to then sit for 24 hours before storing, gifting, or stuffing face.

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rhubarb.sauce

It is the end of the season and thus the rhubarb has been culled.

After all the bits and ends were trimmed, I ended up with about 20 pounds from 3 plants. Crazy, right? And after passing off a few stalks to a friend, it was time to make some sauce.

Trim the icky bits and wash the “nature”‘off of your stalks, then cut into 1 1/2 – 2 inch chunks and drop into a pot.

Add 3/4 – 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water.

If you over estimated your strawberry consumption and have some dying in the fridge, add those to the pot as well….

Bring to a simmer and stir every few minutes until the sauce reaches the consistency you like (probably about half an hour).

After your sauce is finished you can freeze or can….personally I don’t like rhubarb that has been frozen – I find it gets kinda woody and string-like even after being cooked. However, I also don’t like pulp in my lemonade or nuts in bread….so maybe you don’t notice…

This stuff is great just like applesauce. My favorite? Warm a bit in the microwave and add a spoonful of ice cream….just like amazeballs pie ala mode. Yum!!

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raffle.ticket.hack

So, I’m a sucker for a good raffle. I mean, you have the chance to win something cool AND you are helping a worthy cause or organization with your dollah billz. It just so happens that I share this love with my mother. But for years, her method of filling out tickets (you know, the important contact info so they can call you and tell you that you won) was a little embarassing….she always has extra return address labels in her wallet. And what do you know – they come in crazy handy. When I was filling in all of my tickets purchased at the fair last weekend, I was wishing I was more like my mom. (And yeah – you can totally tell her I said that.)

So now I will definitely be stashing some labels in my wallet. You never know when they will come in handy!!

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cherry.jam

Wow. Do we acknowledge the elephant in the room which is pointing judgey fingers at me for not posting in so long? No. Probably best not to and just move along like there is nothing to see here…

Anyhoo. Whilst shopping at Costco a few weeks ago I noticed a great deal on a 3 pound container of cherries. I love me some cherries. A lot. To the point where I actually have to count out how many I am allowed to eat in a single sitting lest I make myself super sick. Throughout the week I ate about a pound (don’t you dare judge me) and the last 2 were just dying to be made into jam.

And do you know how easy it is to make cherry jam? Stupidly easy. As in, no Sure Gel or pectin of any kind needed. Just some pitted cherries, sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and some time.

 

 

  • Half 2 – 2 1/2 pounds of cherries and remove the pits (Or get smart when you buy the next batch of 6 pounds and invest in a cherry pitter. That thing is life changing) and add to your favorite pan or dutch oven.
  • Add 2 1/2 cups of sugar and 2 good squirts of lemon juice to the pan, and simmer while stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes

 

Note on simmering time: depending on the water content of the cherries and the viscosity you like your jam, this may take longer. My 6 pound cherry batch took about an hour and a half – no joke – because they were super fresh and I like a thicker jam.

When your cherries have cooked down to a consistency you like (think about the juice in between) you have a choice: leave the cherries chunky or zip the mixture with an immersion blender. I do the latter, but don’t smooth the whole batch. I like a surprise cherry chunk here or there, but not a whole jar full. (And of course if you go the immersion blender route, please, BE CAREFUL. That shit is hot. Like, nearing magma levels of hot and we don’t need any burns from splattering cherries. It’s just not really a good story.)

After you have your cherry jam cooked, zipped and finished, you’re ready to water bath! Now of course you could eat this right away, but I prefer to preserve it in the cupboard, so into a 10 minute water bath it went, complete with all the safety protocols for canning blah blah and blah.

 

See how easy it is? And now you have homemade cherry jam to crack open when the wind is howling and you don’t want to leave your house for comfort food in a few months. Thinking ahead is so smart.

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life.hack:save.to.travel

The husband and I just returned home from just under 3 weeks in Ireland. And it was awesome!


See? Pretty.

And back in September I took myself on an epic birthday trip for 2 weeks in England.


See? Also amazeballs.

So many of our friends and acquaintances are just baffled how we are able to travel so often. We aren’t doctors (C’mon now – I’m a crafter!) and neither of us inherited large sums from Great Auntie Puddy Pop. So how we do it? Who does our budget? How long do we have to save for each trip?

Really. There’s no big secret. We just spend differently than most people. It’s super easy to save pennies which turn into dollars….which you can later turn into Euros, Pounds, Pesos, Krona, you name it!

  • Stop going out to eat so much. Food is one of the biggest places to save money. Really. Go out to eat on special occasions. Or when you need pho or you are going to die (the latter happens to me a lot). And when you do? Don’t go crazy. Do you really need an app and a dessert? Booze is way cheaper elsewhere. And soda in a restaurant? Please. Just set your money on fire with the candle on the table.
  • Make a menu at home and stick to it. Buy only what is on the menu. And when you are menu planning, take stock of what you already have. If you need to buy 17 things for that 1 meal, you already shot yourself in the foot.
  • Shop at Costco. Really. There are only 2 of us and we do 90% of our food shopping there. You probably don’t need the 4 gallon bucket of chili for 2 (Or maybe you do. I don’t know. I don’t judge.), but you can use the package of chicken breasts or the big bag of frozen peas. Buying the same thing at a regular grocery store costs more and you get less.
  • Stop buying your lunch. Pack that shit. Take leftovers to work. We cook enough for dinner that we each get leftovers to take to work the next day. Let’s say you spend a conservative $8 a day for lunch….That’s $40 a week. And $2080 a year. That could be an around the world airline ticket. For realz.
  • Don’t buy processed foods. They are more expensive than the ingredients to just make it yourself. And when you make it there aren’t all those preservatives and chemicals.
  • Stop buying things you can make. Why pay $3.50 for a jar of strawberry jam when you can spend $10 on strawberries and sugar and make 10 jars of your own?
  • Learn which stores are cheaper. Want super cheap yet huge quantity produce? Check your local Asian market. I bet you are surprised.
  • Cut the cable. In this day and age where everything is streaming, do you really need those 400 channels when nothing is ever on them anyway?
  • Slim down your wardrobe. It’s ok to wear the same thing more than once (even in a week!) and do you really need ALL those shoes? Invest in something you really love and wear it to death.
  • Go to the movies on the cheap night. Instead of paying $40 for 2 tickets and some popcorn, go on the discount night. Many theaters only charge $4 or $5 for the same movie you would see for $15 on another night. Here, we go on Tuesdays. And one of the theaters (only $3.50 anyway) gives a huge popcorn discount with their rewards card (a bucket for $4)
  • Stop buying books new. Now, I love books. And I kinda maybe hoard them…but no way am I buying them new. Shop the library book sale, your used book store or, *gasp* the library (That last one is free. Really.)
  • Make your own coffee! Do I really need to explain this one? $4 a day at your local coffee joint equals $20 per work week, and $1040 a year. That’s a ticket to Amsterdam.
  • Keep an eye on air deals. If you can be flexible with your dates and even your destination, you will get more bang for your buck. We have a list of 10 or so places we would like to go. If there’s a screaming deal, that’s where we are going!
  • Cancel those subscriptions you are only “meh” about. If you aren’t reading those magazines, why get them? I had a stationery subscription for $18 a month, and while the cards were super cool, I realized I have somuch stationery already. And $18 a month for a year is a good deal ticket to Boston!

I am totally not saying that we scrimp and save every penny. No way. We go out. We buy beer in restaurants, we splurge on things. But it’s not an all the time thing. Since our day to day expenditure is well thought out and pretty minimal, there’s money in the account to buy that plane ticket to Europe when it has to be booked within 48 hours (this happened this summer). And of course not all of these things will work for you. But every little bit helps. And taking a step back and looking at where you spend, helps you to cut costs and save for super cool things.

So, where are we going next? Who knows! But we will be ready!

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egg.water.plants.love

A quick tip to make your plants extra happy? Save the water you boil your eggs in and give it to your green things. Vitamins and minerals and good stuff comes from the egg shells when they cook, so by putting them into your soil, it’s a great extra boost for the things you are growing. 

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yoga.block.travel.hack

I did it. I cracked the code. I have finally figured out how to be comfortable on long flights when one has short legs. And you won’t believe how simple it is.

Sadly, not all airlines have those little foot rests that swing down for the plebeians in coach (that’s a first class perk – I’m looking at you Delta and Virgin Atlantic), and when one is a) short and b) flying a distance further than 30 air miles, it is nice and probably better for one’s health to be able to prop those feet up. Now, I know I should get up and move around more (yeah yeah yeah) but it seems that damn seat belt sign is always on or that drink cart is rattling around (I swear they time that thing to coincide with when I have to pee), so I spend most (all) of my flying time in my seat. This last trip took me from Seattle to London Heathrow direct (So. Awesome.) but that is a bit of a flight – a little under 10 hours. After digging through the house and the internet (last minute of course) to come up with something to prop my feet up rather than stomping my carry-on to death, I came upon my husband’s yoga blocks. I promptly kidnapped one and took it out of the country.

yoga-block

And you know what? It. Was. Amazeballs. That little foam block is the perfect height to bring my legs up to a normal almost level with the seat position, is light and (so far) TSA approved. Guys. The next time you fly you absolutely MUST pack a yoga block with you. And if you actually do yoga, I guess you could use it for that later too.

Oh, and you wanted to see some pictures from my epic trip too? Ok!

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