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  1. Yellow Tomato Basil Jam

    November 14, 2011 by Scooter


    With the abundance of tomatoes and basil we had in the garden this year, I started to do some research as to what to do with it all. This summer, we picked up a pressure canner at the thrift store and suddenly a new hobby was born. Spending time clicking through search engines for different and unique jam recipes, I came across a Yellow Tomato Basil Jam recipe over at Food In Jars… This is a great blog on canning with many recipes!


    Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam
    makes 3.5 pints or 7 half pints

    4 pounds Sungold or other yellow tomatoes
    3 cups granulated sugar
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    zest of two lemons, divided
    1/4 cup roughly chopped basil


    Cut Sungold tomatoes in half, or, if using larger yellow tomatoes, chop them into smallish pieces.

    Combine chopped tomatoes with sugar in a large, non-reactive pot and stir. Let sit for at least one hour, or until the tomatoes release their juice.

    When ready to cook, prep canning pot and jars and place jam pot over high heat. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil.

    Cook at a boil for 30-35, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have softened and the syrup has gotten thick. Check set with plate test. Once you’re satisfied with the set, remove the pot from the heat and stir in half the lemon zest and chopped basil. Taste and add remaining lemon zest only if you feel the jam requires it.

    Pour jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

    When time is up, remove jars from pot and let them cool on a kitchen towel. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use promptly. All sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

  2. Chocolate Raspberry Jam

    November 7, 2011 by Scooter


    This summer, we picked up a pressure canner at the thrift store and suddenly a new hobby was born. Spending time clicking through search engines for different and unique jam recipes, I came across a Chocolate Raspberry Jam recipe over at Epicurious. This jam has been by far our favorite!


    Chocolate Raspberry Jam
    makes 6 pints

    6 Cups frozen raspberries or 7 pints of fresh raspberries
    3 (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate squares
    4 cups granulated sugar
    1 (1 3/4 ounce) box dry pectin for lower sugar recipes
    1/2 teaspoon margarine or butter


    1. Crush berries thoroughly, 1 cup at a time. If using frozen berries, use both liquid and solids; they were all part of the orginal fresh berry. (sieve 1/2 of the pulp to remove some of the seeds if desired)

    2. Make sure your canning equipment is scrupulously clean, and place 7 pint or half pint jars on a rack in a boiling water canner. Fill the canner with water, adding a shot of vinegar to prevent mineral buildup, and bring to a boil while you prepare the jam. Allow it to boil for 10 minutes to sterilize the jars, then turn heat down to keep the jars hot. Remember to keep a kettle of water handy, and a saucepan of boiling water for your lids and rings.

    3. Measure 6 cups of crushed fruit into a 6-8 quart heavy non-reactive saucepan. Break the chocolate squares into smaller pieces and add them to the saucepan.

    4. Measure sugar into a seperate bowl. Mix 1/4 cup of the measured sugar with the pectin powder in another small bowl. Stir pectin-sugar mixture into fruit in a saucepan. Add Butter. Bring quickly to a full rolling boil. Boil for EXACTLY 1 MINUTE, stirring constantly.

    5. Remove pan from heat. Skim off any foam and ladle the jam into hot sterilized pint or half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

    6. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

    7. Remove the jars to a towel, newspaper lined surface, invert for 10 minutes, and allow to cool. Label the jars and store in a coll dry place for up to 1 year.


  3. Shipping Pallet Compost

    October 31, 2011 by Scooter


    Fall is here and the leaves are falling… and what else makes for great compost… but leaves!! Not wanting to have any of our newly raked piles go to waste… we spent an afternoon building a compost bin in hopes that some of that leafy mulch will turn into gardener’s gold come spring!


    $$ – (Under $26)


    4 shipping pallets – Side of the road… (free)
    8 wooden (or metal) stakes/ posts – Habitat for Humanity Outlet… ($)
    Window Screen (optional) – Home Depot … ($)
    Wire – Home Depot… ($)


    Staple Gun



    We picked up 4 old fencing posts and decided we could cut them in half to get the 8 stakes that we needed… compost_assembly

    Next, we stood the pallets up on their sides to form a square and then hammered in the posts at each end of the pallets. We also drilled 3 of the 4 pallets together for extra stability. The forth pallet gets wired to the other three on the one side to act as a hinge for opening and closing.


    Since we have dogs that like to eat just about anything, and squirrels that make a mess of our yard… we decided to line the inside with screen mesh to help prevent spilling out… Using a staple gun, this was secured down…keeping in mind of the pallet that will swing open.



  4. Zombie Pumpkins

    October 24, 2011 by Scooter


    Its a week until Halloween!… and we live in a house, in a neighborhood, with lots of kids… so lets google zombie pumpkins and see what comes up:)… I found this Zombie Pumpkin Project over at Martha Stewart.


    $$ – (Under $15)

    2 White Pumpkins – Grocery Store/ Pumpkin Patch… ($6)
    Plastic balls – Thrift Store… ($3)
    Paint/ Markers – Lying around the house… (free)

    Knife / Miniature Saw

    zombie pumpkins_white

    zombie pumpkins_eye_holes

    I found these beautiful white pumpkins while grocery shopping…

    For the eyes, hold saw at an angle and cut 2 cone-shaped holes into the pumpkin. The diameter of the holes should be slightly smaller than the eyeballs’ diameter.



    Since I could not find plastic eyeballs, I ended up picking up a giant bag of colored plastic balls (like the ones you jumped in as a kid) at a thrift store. I had markers and paint in the closet, and decided we would have a little art project making these eyeballs 🙂

    zombie pumpkins__eyeballs

    Next, carve a mouth… There are templates over on Martha’s website…



    She also did this Mouse Motel which I had to throw into our mix! I found the mice at a halloween store for under $1 each..


    Of course, the neighbors had warned us that the squirrels will eat the pumpkins if we leave them out… sure enough, within 24 hours the zombie pumpkins had their eyes gnawed on, which zombie-fyed them even more :)… But we brought them inside to enjoy until Halloween night 🙂

    zombie pumpkin_all

  5. Concord Grape Jam

    October 18, 2011 by Scooter

    Concord Grape Jam_Jars

    This weekend I decided that I wanted to make Concord Grape Jam after reading the tutorial on it over at  The Hungry Moose Blog. As detailed as their recipe was with all the visuals… I still managed to mess this one up. Mine came out way too runny and only managed to make half the amount :(… Though it was still delicious, I may need to invest in a better strainer (this was the part I found to be the most difficult)… or possibly a food mill.

    Concord Grape Jam_Grapes

    Concord Grape Jam
    makes 4 pints


    3 lbs. concord grapes
    3 cups sugar
    2 Tbls. lemon juice





    1. Skin the Grapes

    Concord Grape Jam_Skinned

    Concord Grape Jam_Seperated








    2. Puree the Grape Skins
    Put skins and 1 cup of sugar in the food processor and process them on high for a minute or two.

    Concord Grape Jam_Food Processor

    3. Cook the Concord Grape Jam
    Put the pureed skins, peeled grapes, lemon juice and the remaining 2 cups of sugar in a medium pot over high heat and bring it to a boil. Stir occasionally.

    Once it reaches boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

    After 20 minutes, your jam will have thickened and reduced.

    Concord Grape Jam_Boiling
    4. Strain the Jam
    Before you start, grab a plate and put it in the freezer. You’ll need it to test the jam in a few minutes.

    With a spatula, push the jam through a strainer in a large, heat-proof bowl. You should be left with seedy pulp…

    5. Run the Plate Test

    6Jar your Jam!

    Ladle your warm jam into clean, sterilized jars. Let them cool to room temperature, then cover them and pop them in the fridge.

    Concord Grape Jam_Finished

  6. Halloween Wreath

    October 10, 2011 by Scooter

    Halloween Wreath_Putting on snakes

    This project was inspired by the Wriggling Snake Wreath over at!

    $$ – (Under $26)

    black acrylic paint – Hobby Lobby… (under $3)
    vinyl snakes – Halloween or toy store, we found a bag of 8… (under $10)
    Floral wire, 20-gauge – Hobby Lobby… (under $3)
    Black water-based spray paint – had around the house… (free)
    18-inch grapevine wreath – .. (under $5)
    1 75pk of creepy creatures – Big Lots… (under $5)


    Halloween Wreath- Grapevine Wreath

    Halloween Wreath- Spray paint

    Paint grapevine wreath using water-based spray paint; let dry.

    Halloween Wreath- Painted Black

    Halloween Wreath- Vinyl Snakes

    Halloween Wreath- Acrylic Paint

    Paint vinyl snakes in assorted shapes and sizes using acrylic paint; let dry.

    Halloween Wreath- Pug

    Halloween Wreath- Painted SnakesHalloween Wreath_creepy creaturesHalloween Wreath_Finished

    Attach snakes, spiders, bats and any other creepy crawly creature to wreath: For flat snakes, twist floral wire around in 2 places, thread wire into wreath, and secure at back. Coiled snakes can simply be wrapped around wreath.

    Halloween Wreath_On the Door

  7. Spoon Mug Wall

    October 3, 2011 by Scooter

    Spoon Mug Wall

    This project was inspired by the Snug Mug Spoon Wall over at ReadyMade!

    $$ – (Under $45)

    scrap cabinet grade plywood – found in alleyway… (free)
    assortment of spoons – thrift store… (under $4)
    Nuts, Bolts, and Washers – price depends on size. we wanted large, so spent a bit more… (under $10)
    2 36″ square steel tubing – $5.57 each… (under $12)
    2 Flat Brackets – depends on size of your board. We went with 48″ brackets @ 6.51 each.. ($13)
    Steel Adhesive – we went with SteelStik… (under $6)
    Burlap Coffee Sack (optional) – had around the house…(free)


    Spoon Wall - Nuts and Bolts

    Spoon Wall- Spoon with fan reflection

    First we arranged the spoons and the steel bars on the board…

    Spoon Wall- Spoon Materials

    Now, take a hacksaw and score the spoons and the steel tubing where they will attach. Next we took SteelStik and adhered the spoons.

    Spoon Wall- Scoring

    Spoon Wall- SteelStik

    Spoon Wall- Adhesive

    Spoon Wall- Placing Spoons

    Spoon Wall w/ Pug looking on...

    Set up the brackets and mark where you would like the bolts to go… We did 4 on each side between each bar.
    Next, drill the holes…

    Spoon Wall- Drill Holes

    Spoon Wall- Trim Brackets

    We then set it up and trimmed the brackets. We had a coffee sack lying around that we thought would make for a nice cover to the board.

    Spoon Wall Mockup w/ coffee sack
    Last we added some mounting wire onto the back and the spoon mug wall has been created!

    Spoon Wall- Mount

    Spoon Wall- Bolting it down

    Spoon Mug Wall