Homemade Strawberry Jam

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As much as I hate it, I have this picture of the “perfect mother” in my head. Naturally, there is no way I could ever live up to this image of a woman who can cook, clean and sew (probably at the same time), and who never so much as raises her voice at her adorable, curly-haired kids.

Well I did get the curly-haired kids part right, but aside from that I simply have no hope. In truth, there probably isn’t a mom out there that can live up to that standard (and if you can, please, for the sake of the rest of us, keep it to yourself).

So back in December, I attempted homemade jam for the first time. I was planning a Christmas party that involved homemade bread (that was really the frozen dough that you stick into pans and bake at home so you can feel like it is homemade. Sadly even making bread this way was a lot of work for me), jam and hot cocoa. ‘Tis the season for tight budgets, so I was trying to come up with a menu that was inexpensive, but didn’t seem cheap.

I wanted homemade jam and hadn’t a clue how to make it. So I asked my mother in law (a farmer’s wife and mother of seven who very nearly fits the super-mom description above), if she would give me a few bottles of her yummy jam to take home with me at Thanksgiving. Of course she obliged, but on the 14-hour journey home our ice chest took an unfortunate spill out of the van, and all the jam bottles broke. I considered for about 30 seconds trying to somehow salvage the jam, but there was no safe way with the broken glass.

Back at home, my mother-in-law suggested that I make jam myself and promised that I could do it. Much to my surprise, it turned out beautifully. I had one of those splendid moments when I almost felt like that perfect mom.

I don’t want to dwell too much on how easy it was to make homemade freezer jam because that will only diminish my huge sense of accomplish at mastering such a super-mommish task. So instead, I will share my recipe, and a reminder that it is strawberry season — if you hurry, you can probably get your berries on sale!

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Time Manangement for Moms

It's About Time

It was one of those rare afternoons when both my girls were down for a nap, the toys were picked up, our condo was in some sort of organized and clean order, and I had taken care of the essentials for myself (I was showered and had eaten). I decided I would get started on dinner for the evening.

I looked at my list of dinners I planned for that week, and tonight’s meal was red beans and rice. Running my finger down the list of ingredients on the recipe card, I decided I had the time to chop everything before the girls woke up.

Soon onion, celery, and green pepper were all in neat piles on my cutting board ready to be sautéed and not a peep had come from the girls’ room. I glanced at the rest of the ingredients and read the steps for the recipe. If I worked quickly, I guessed that I could prepare everything now and just let it simmer until dinner. Then all that needed to be done would be to cook the rice. Easy.

I decided to make a go of it. I was excited. I was racing against a clock that had an unknown time limit. And even though I knew the potential for things to get crazy when the girls woke up was great, the excitement of getting something done was too much for me to stop. I grabbed the andouille sausage from the freezer and dropped it in the pot just when my 5 month old Harper woke up. Like most babies who are on a 2 1/2 to 3-hour feeding schedule, I knew Harper would be hungry and not willing to wait until the sausage was a “nice, golden brown” like the recipe called for. But I didn’t want to stop cooking, so I gambled I could do two things at once. I put the lid on the pot, turned the stove to medium-high, and quickly made a bottle for Harper.

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All-Nighter

Pulling an all-nighter has a completely different meaning once you’re a parent. Last night, about 20 minutes after we had …

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One Room or Two?

Siblings Sharing Rooms

I grew up with six siblings so naturally we shared rooms. My husband (also from a big family) and I have often wondered whether our children should share. We’re lucky that our house could accommodate them each having their own room, but we both felt like room sharing as a child was a valuable learning experience.

When my second daughter arrived, I was set on having my toddler in her own room. The idea of midnight feedings and different nap schedules made room sharing seem like a very bad idea. Now that baby is two, and my husband and I have been considering the idea of combining their rooms to create a separate toy room.

Ultimately it was my two year old that made the decision.

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Foody Beauty: Papaya Body Mask

I can think of few things more indulgent than a body mask, but I can think of a whole lot of things that I should be saving or spending money on rather than a trip to the spa. Times may be rough, but you can still enjoy super-soft skin with this recipe for a homemade body mask.

Papaya contains papain, an enzyme that helps to soften skin and aid digestion. It is also a natural source of alpha hydroxy acids, which help exfoliate skin leaving you supple and smooth.

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