Mrs. Crabapple

I made crab apple jelly! In all my years of cooking and baking I have never once made preserves of any kind. Until today. I feel so relieved to have finally overcome my canning fears, it’s like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Okay, that’s a little melodramatic, but it really does feel quite satisfying.

Growing up, store-bought jam was a foreign concept, something to be withstood when dining out. My mom made strawberry jam every summer and it was the best stuff on earth. After I moved away from home my mom would still take care of my home-made jam needs. I’d get a jar at Christmas and any time I visited. Now I have the good fortune to receive blackberry jam from my mother-in-law as well.

But, like sewing, making preserves was something I felt I should know how to do. I even went as far as looking up a recipe and buying cheese cloth last year, only to chicken out at the last minute. Well this year, damn it, I made jelly! And now I’m going to share my experience with you.

Disclaimer: I am not a food stylist, nor do I own a fancy camera, so please bear with me on the photo front.

Step 1: Harvest 8 cups of crab apples. It is recommended that you do not allow your toddler to climb the ladder behind you as it could result in a fall… just sayin’.


Step 2: Wash, de-stem and quarter the apples


Step 3: Cover apples with water until you can see it, but not so much that the apples are floating

Step 4: Bring the apples to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes until apples are soft (and your kitchen starts smelling yummy)


Step 5: Place a double layer of cheese cloth in a large bowl. Pour the stewed apples into the cheese cloth.

ImageStep 6: Gather the edges of the cheese cloth and tie with string (or non-minty dental floss if you don’t have string). Tie it to something that allows it to hang over the bowl and allow the juice to drip. I hung it from the handle on my cupboard door. Let sit for a few hours until it stops dripping.


Step 7: My recipe said I should have 4 cups of juice but I only ended up with about 3.5 cups. However much juice you have, place it back in the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 8: Since I didn’t have the right amount of juice I winged it and adjusted the sugar accordingly. For 4 cups of juice I would have added 3 cups of sugar, but since I only had about 3.5 cups of juice I added a little less than 2.5 cups of sugar. Either way, add the sugar, stir until it dissolves and boil the mixture until it reaches between 220 and 222 degrees (since I’ve broken every candy thermometer I’ve ever owned, I used my digital meat thermometer instead). Skim off any foam that appears.

ImageStep 8.5: In the meantime, sterilize your bottles and lids by immersing them in boiling water for 10 minutes. I sterilized a bunch but only ended up needing 3, better safe than sorry though. I also sterilized the ends of my tongs so I could use those for handling the bottles.


ImageStep 9: When the jelly reaches the right temperature, remove from heat and pour into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.Tighten the lids really well. I had two full jars and one about a 1/3 full. The partial jar is for use over the next few weeks so I skipped step 10 for that one.

Step 10: Fully immerse jars in boiling water for 10 minutes to seal them.

ImageStep 11: And this is the best part. Take the jars out of the hot water bath and let them sit to cool. As the jars cool the lids will suck in and make this great “ping” noise which lets you know that the jars are properly sealed. That noise brings back some great memories of helping my mom make jam when I was little.

ImageStep 12: Enjoy!


Recipe adapted from Mary Wynne’s Crabapple Jelly Recipe.

Thanks to Mom for answering all my questions!

The Other Person Who Lives Here

I’ve already introduced you to my kids so now it’s time to tell you about the other VVIP in my life, my husband C. He is a mild-mannered scientist by day and a mild-mannered sports-fan by night. He is an incredible father who took paternity leave to be a stay-at-home-dad while I finished university. He really is my “better half” as he possesses all of the important qualities in life that I lack. Like, say, organizational skills, money skills, anger management skills, garbage removal skills. Girls really do like guys with skills!

He’s also very knit-worthy. He has already worn through the first pair of socks I knit him and is pestering me for more. His Rogers-esque Cardigan Jacket gets worn a lot. The sweater was pretty labour-intensive, with a lot of seams and a lot more stitches than your average cardigan, but it was worth it. The look would not have been the same if it had been a simple top-down raglan. We both love how it turned out, and I’ve been known to steal it from time to time.

Mr. Handsome masquerading as Mr. Rogers

And Sometimes I Sew

I learned the basics of sewing back in junior high school home economics.  I actually got a C- in that class, which is pretty ironic given that my current occupation is home-ec in a nutshell. I hope I’ve improved, but I guess it is possible that I’m still barely-passing. My husband would never tell me if it were true, and that’s just one of the things I love about him.

Though I learned to sew way back then (more years ago than I’d like to count), I never had my own sewing machine and didn’t feel like I was missing anything. But then I became a mom, and lived in a house that wasn’t a glorified bachelor pad. Suddenly it seamed like a sewing machine was something I was supposed to have. So last Christmas I asked for one and, lucky me, I got it! It took a while to get my sewing mojo as it required taking some of my precious free-time away from knitting. But once I got started I was off to the races. I’ve finished a few projects since then, and I’ll share some of them with you in the coming weeks.

This afternoon I was inspired to show off my most recent project,  the Urban Unisex Hoodie by Heidi & Finn. I got some cute pictures of A wearing it while running around at the park and wanted to share them with you. My choice of fabric (a light-weight fleece and lightweight jersey) wasn’t the greatest as some of the seams got very thick and my machine had a hard time getting through. I also think the nap on the fleece bunged-up (that’s a technical term) the machine so I had to do some impromptu manual-reading to learn how to clean it.  The thread frayed and split a lot, which I’m chalking up to bad thread choice for the fabric, though that is a highly uneducated guess. In the end, I’m eager to try the pattern again with different fabric as the finished product is quite cute.


Urban Unisex Hoodie

Who Are “They” Anyway?

As the tagline says, I knit when They let me. In my case, They refers to the two mini-people who inhabit our home. A is my 3.5 year old boy. He is a cuddly, sweet, charmer who is sharp as a tack and has a very quick wit. P is my 1.5 year old girl whose sweetness is mixed in with a bit of spicy. She is feisty, stubborn and independent, three qualities that I think will take her far in life. They are pretty awesome if you ask me.

I get to knit on the rare occasions when they aren’t demanding 100% of my attention. When I do get to knit  it tends to be projects for them. I love the instant gratification of kids’ knits, and they are by-far the best models. But really, I’m just taking advantage of the young years when they don’t yet have an opinion about what they wear. I’m sure it won’t be long before there is a moratorium on wearing anything made my mom.

Until then I can do this…

A in his Playground Shirt

And this…

P in her Louise Cardigan

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You…

This blog is going to be the launching-board for my explorations into knitwear design. I’ve got a pattern almost ready to go and lots of ideas festering. I’ll be linking to my patterns for download on Ravelry as well as blogging about the creative process along the way. I’ll probably also talk a bit about my other domestic adventures in sewing and cooking.

And now for a sneak-peek at what I’m working on right now…

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Everyday Hoodie, photo by Ryan Barr