Strawberry Jam

I think I picked the first and the last of the strawberries at Olivia’s farm stand where she works this summer.  I went when they first opened in April and then again this morning. 8 weeks is a good run for a strawberry patch, so I’m told.

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These are pesticide-free and berries from Whitley Farms in Sharpsburg, Ga.

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And this is a pesticide-free child from my home in Peachtree City.

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I met a friendly fellow today at the farm.  Olivia doesn’t know his name but I’m sure he has one.  He’s a very large but not very aggressive bull.  He frolics with the resident golden retriever.  I always wanted a cow when I was growing up.  I don’t remember now why I wanted one so badly.  I think I liked their faces.  They always seem so gentle and calm.

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When I got home I decided to make some strawberry jam. I enjoy making homemade jelly and jam but I always go overboard.  Today I made 18 jars and I haven’t even made my blackberry or peach jam.  We go through it pretty fast so I think we’ll be okay. Maybe I need a Jam Van to go along with my Biscuit Bus.

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This recipe calls for 8 cups of strawberries and 7 cups of sugar.  SEVEN CUPS!

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We tested it out with some leftover pound cake.  My personal favorite is with homemade yeast bread.  Maybe I’ll make some tomorrow or maybe some biscuits.

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My 18 jars probably won’t last as long as I think they will if I keep making tasty accompaniments!  I hope you get to enjoy summer’s bounty, too.  I’m looking forward to more fresh and tasty foods from our local stands.

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Graduation 2016

Davis graduated Friday night with honors from Starr’s Mill High School. Usually graduation falls on the same weekend as Memorial Day so as a tribute to our armed services, the graduates march in carrying U.S. flags to honor our active military personnel and to act as a remembrance for those who died in service to our country.

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The ceremony was held indoors because of the threat of bad weather.  Normally the graduation is in the stadium.  I must admit I liked it in the gym because we got so be much closer to the graduates rather than watching from the stands.

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Davis was chosen to sing the Alma mater in the ceremony.  He did a great job.  He has a very nice tenor voice and has received a partial scholarship to sing next year at college.  I’m looking forward to more concerts and opportunities to hear him sing.

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Davis is now a graduate and ready for college.

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We rounded up a few friends for a photo.  It was difficult in the crowd but they managed to huddle up a few. When you look below at the guys, keep in mind that Davis is 6’2″.  And now look at his friends.   Can you tell which one is the basketball player?

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Beautiful sunset over the building and a fond farewell to Starr’s Mill High School.z1

 

Baccalaureate

Davis had his high school Baccalaureate this week.  According to Davis’ principal who also agrees with Wikipedia, the Baccalaureate service started in 1432 in Europe when each candidate for a college degree was required to give a sermon in Latin before graduation. This high school service was not in Latin and did not involve all 342 seniors preaching so it was quite a bit shorter than its predecessors..

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Davis got to sing May the Music Never End with his fellow senior classmates in the chorus. He will also be singing as a quartet at graduation when they lead everyone in the Alma mater.  The two guys in the middle and the two girls on the end form the quartet.

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The speaker was Mr. Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick fil A.  He was an entertaining and motivating speaker.

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Here’s a better photo from the internet.  I was pretty far away and behind lots of graduation caps when I took my pictures.  Using my powers of motherly astuteness, I figured I might have embarrassed Davis if I ran to the front of the stage with my camera for the sake of the blog.  It doesn’t take much to embarrass a teenager but cameras are an automatic “I-will-never-speak-to-you-again-if-you-take-that-picture-now” so I sat in the back and took tiny dark photos.

Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A

Dan Cathy gave each graduate a relay baton and encouraged the students to set goals and to work hard to keep achieving throughout life.   Pretty standard fare for a Baccalaureate but he had me clapping along and cheering Eat More Chicken, so I was pretty motivated even if I wasn’t the one graduating.

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The graduation ceremony is tomorrow unless it rains and unfortunately, it is supposed to.  If it does rain, the graduation will be Saturday morning.  Either way, we have a big weekend ahead.

Mushrooms

Olivia is working at an organic farm this summer.  She loves it.  Recently, she brought home a little surprise from the fungus department.  The owner gave her a mushroom log.  She told Olivia that she thought Olivia would make a great Mushroom Mama.

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I like it more as a centerpiece rather than a food source.

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Olivia has to keep it moist and dark.  Not conducive to my middle of the table sunny location.

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I haven’t tried to eat any yet.  After my recent ants on the Peep debacle, I’m not in any hurry to eat anything more exotic than a McDonald’s double cheeseburger, although I’m probably worse off with that than the ants I unknowingly ingested in the dark as I popped a Peep in my mouth while breezing through the kitchen one evening.

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I’ll let you know who is the brave mushroom eater in the house. Personally, I think fungi are best left for the forest floor so it probably won’t be me.  My loss, I know. Picky eaters lead a bland life but that’s okay in my book.

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Weekend Pizza and a Party

As many of my weekends are, this was a busy one.  I started out getting up at 5:30 Saturday morning to head to Kennesaw State University for our Georgia State Elementary Science Olympiad.  My school’s team won our divisional meet so we got to compete in the state meet.

Nothing like being on the Jumbotron at 7:30 in the morning to start your day.  Can you see me?

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About 2500 students, parents, and teachers gathered on Saturday for some friendly science competition and fun.

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We made camp under a gorgeous magnolia tree.  In spite of the fact that the robots were right beside us luring children like the Pied Piper, it was nevertheless a peaceful morning hanging out under the tree.

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The robots tirelessly picked up balls and threw them back at children to either catch or run after.  They had a blast.

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Finally awards time came.  While they tallied up the results we had an interactive science show called the Fun, Weird Science Show.  The scientist had a sidekick who would find volunteers and “voluntolds”  such as myself who had to dance in the teacher dance-off.

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I danced myself right into the bathroom and hid out for a while.  (Just kidding, or am I?)

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We placed in a few events but I can’t show their happy faces as they received their medals because I don’t have permission but you get the idea.

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After the awards I jumped into my car to head to Davis’ graduation party.

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These eight friends held their party together.  They have been best of friends for years and they wanted to share the night with each other.

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We had lots of great food and fun.  The giant volleyball game was a  hit.  If you lost a point, you also lost a player to the other side. It wasn’t long before two dads were holding down a side.

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Davis helped Alex at the net.

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This is a wonderful group of kids and I’m glad Davis has such a nice circle of friends.

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We were home by midnight and I fell asleep exhausted from my big day.  Today, however,  was more relaxing.  The weather was unseasonably cool (yay – I am not a fan of hot weather) and we made homemade pizza.  Super good.  I made a homemade sauce with a can of tomato sauce, fresh garlic, onion, dried parsley, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, pepper, and a little bit of sugar (1/2 teaspoon scant).  Then, we made homemade pizza crust.

Pizza Crust

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F . In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour, salt and oil. Stir until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan.  Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving.

We added fresh tomatoes, 3 cheeses, sauce, fresh basil, and avocado. Olivia topped hers with balsamic vinegar and Davis added meat to his.  I kept mine rather plain and we were all happy!

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Further Proof that I was Born Yesterday

After leaving the bee catcher tent at the Cotton Pickin’ Fair I sauntered over to another vendor tent where I spied an intriguing necklace.  My wallet hadn’t even cooled off from my last purchase.

Olivia is modeling my necklace below after we got home.

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What makes this further proof that I was born yesterday is the fact that this is a bean necklace.  Not BEAD but BEAN.  Look closely because the “beads” are indeed in the shape of kidney beans.  These are necklaces made in Central America from heritage beans.  This is a Dalmatian Bean and Tagua Nut necklace.   I happily plunked down my $$ but later thought – I can’t get these wet….They will dry out eventually because they are beans…They will draw bugs.   Not necessarily a wise choice of neckwear.  Just call me Julie and the Beanstalk with my magic beans.

I Was Born Yesterday

While at the Cotton Pickin’ Fair last Saturday, I made a few purchases.  I will share one of them with you now.  At my house,  I have a problem with Carpenter Bees.  They love my screened porch as much as I do.

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In fact, they love it so much that they like to eat it.

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They are sloppy eaters and leave much of it behind in the form of sawdust.  Lots of sawdust.

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Your science lesson for today is to compare the friendly bumblebee with the destructive carpenter bee.  Basically one has a yellow butt and the other has a black butt. One pollinates and one destroys.  (I’m succinct.)

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So I was at the Cotton Pickin’ Fair and this kindly older gentleman in overalls was tapping away on some wood and beckoned me into his booth of lies.  He said his Carpenter Bee Trap would take care of all of my pesky flying menaces.  I’m a sucker for a handy looking guy with tools so I bought one.

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Now, scroll back up and see how many bees I have caught.   NONE.   You don’t even need to scroll back up because I just told you. Instead, the bees are dancing around their lairs with a sassy little two-step — although I guess for insects it’s a six-step.

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The moral of the story is that when you are tempted by men in overalls, go and get a funnel cake instead.  You will save money and also save yourself from the inevitable buyer’s remorse.

Mother’s Day

If my peonies are blooming, then it must be Mother’s Day!

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I had a fun day. Hope you did, too.

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I usually cut these peonies for a Mother’s Day centerpiece but this time we ate by the pool and we were surrounded by flowers so I didn’t need to.

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I celebrated these two blessings who made me a mom.

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Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a lunch poolside and then came back in to play a few games.

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I picked up a spare child for the day. Olivia’s friend Madison joined us. She lives in Florida so it was too far to drive for the weekend.

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We capped off the evening by putting up Davis’ graduation sign in the neighborhood. I hope you enjoyed your day as much as I did.

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Bridal Shower

I spent a lovely afternoon with my friend Nancy.  Her son Matthew is getting married in a month and I attended a shower for his fiancée.

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Nancy and I were eighth grade cheerleaders together along with several other of the Eating Cardinals. In fact, 6 of our 8 cheerleading squad member are still close friends – me, Nancy, Terri, Kim, Kristin, and Janet.  Just add Cindy, Gina, Joanna, and Nancy2 and you have all the Eating Cardinals.

I enjoyed catching up with Nancy and her mom.  Beautiful ladies and great friends of mine. Sorry about the backlighting.  The photos are a little dark.

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The bride-to-be enjoyed opening gifts and was excited to announce that she and Matthew are very close to reaching their goal to go to Africa on a mission trip.  They opted for mission trip money instead of shower gifts.  A very generous gesture. A few people did sneak in some packages in addition to the donations for the trip.

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Nancy’s daughter Lauren will be getting a sister-in-law soon!

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Warmest wishes to Matthew and Autumn!