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Hello Sugar Pies! My oh my! I’ve been busier than a bunny in a carrot patch! I’ve been traveling a bit and when I’m home I’ve been kissin’ grandbabies and fluffin’ up my nest! The days have just flown by!  But you know, as this warm and sunny season begins to wind down and thoughts of Autumn are swirling around my head like wind-blown leaves, I’ve been trying to savor every last drop of summer’s sweetness. It’s become a tradition now for me to make my most favorite plum jam.

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There is something so delightful about putting up perserves. There’s this delicious anticipation I get as I imagine the scrumptious flavor of the end result and the soothing contentment of seeing my sealed jars sitting neatly in row. I keep a few of  jars of my jam stored in my pantry to enjoy throughout the fall and winter, but I give most of them away, which delights my heart even more! Making plum jam also brings back wonderful memories of  my Aunt Jen, Uncle Al and my cousins Marlene, Jimmy, Fran and Gracie. When I was growing up my family would often drive up the coast of California to Santa Cruz to be with them as  part of our family’s summer vacation.  After we’d been there a few days we’d all jump in our station wagons and go plum pickin’ together. Once we got back to the house Aunt Jen and my mom would get busy chopping the fruit, sterilizing jars and stirring the sugar-plum jam in big pots on the stove. The house was filled with joyful clatter and the most luscious aroma ribboned it’s way through the rooms and into our hearts. Looking back, as I  peek through the window of those memories, I can see the women-folk bustling  happily in the kitchen, chatting, stirring and pouring while us youngin’s played nearby.  I so cherish the warm sense of home, belonging and well-being that I felt through those experiences as young girl.  Loving, comforting, cheerful, cozy, homey…those are the words that discribe what was poured into my heart and are also what I strive to instill every day in my own home.

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Vintage homemaking is one way to make home loving, comforting, cheerful, cozy and homey. Doing things the way they were done “back in the day” when life was simpler. Not that life was easy back then, but it wasn’t as complex and full of as many distractions as we have now. Internet, cell phones, ipads, ipods, T.V. Although I use and enjoy these electronic goodies in moderation, I am all for bringing back  and preserving simple joys. Making jam for my family and friends is one of those simple pleasures. Come peek inside my Sugar-plum-jam-makin’-kitchen…

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It’s best to start any cooking task by putting on a cute apron and playing some endearing music. My choice of music for the end of summer and throughout the fall is the soundtrack of “Little Women”. Pure bliss my sisters! Pure bliss! Just listening to it makes me want to start my fall decorating! But alas, I shall wait until September.

Little Women: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Soundtrack to Little Women is wonderful background music when fluffin’ up your vintage nest! I’m also looking forward to a crisp fall evening when we’ll put on a fire, pop some corn and watch the Little Women movie…the old one and the newer one! Now, back to my Sugar Plum Jam makin’…

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Gather all of your ingredients…

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Take some fresh plums…the ones with red goodness on the  inside…

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Some sparkling clean jars that will need to soak in boiling water to sterilize…

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A big Ol’ Graniteware Canner and rack

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Jar Rings and brand new lids…I found these cute ones at Walmart! I love gingham!

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The Plum Jam recipe I use is provided in the Certo Pectin package:

what you need

4-1/2 cups prepared fruit (buy about 3 lb. fully ripe plums)
1/2 cup water
7-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
1 pouch CERTO Fruit Pectin

Make It

BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

PIT unpeeled plums. Finely chop or grind fruit. Place fruit in saucepan; add water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 min. Measure exactly 4-1/2 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot.

STIR sugar into prepared fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

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I keep my opened pouch of Certo Pectin in a cup so  it’s ready when I need to add it in a hurry.

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Before you know it, it’s time to funnel the hot sugar-plum goodness into the jars!

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I made two batches in two separate pots. The jam experts say you should not double the recipe, so I had two pots to stir at the same time.

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Ahhhhhhhh! (singing in an opera voice!)

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Sugar plum heaven!

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We need homemade biscuits to go with that jam!
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“I like my biscuit the way mama fixed it” ~from a cute T-shirt

You may have noticed the jam recipe calls for a lot of sugar. I mean a lot!  According to the experts the reason is the sugar acts as a preservative and it also increases the pectin’s ability to jell. Without the sugar bacteria can set in and spoil the batch. It got me thinkin’…when we add sweetness ( love and grace) to our homelife it preserves our family, draws us closer and makes our home a nurturing and emotionally safe place. Without it  joy and peace cannot thrive, instead, bitterness, loneliness and anger are likely to well up, making home a harsh place to live.  Sugar Pie Darlin’s that’s not what we want! What’s a gal to do to sprinkle sweetness at home? Here are some ideas…

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Choose joy: As mama’s we have the choice to be a nurturing, patient, loving presence in our home. A cozy glowing light in a dark world for our family.  But how can we choose joy when life is sometimes so hard?  Ask God to be your strength and to help you.  He will, dear sister. Think about what you have been blessed with. You woke up this morning. You’re blessed Sugar. You can see to read this. You’re blessed Honey. There are people who love you. God loves you more than you can imagine! YOU ARE BLESSED DARLIN’!  We need to lead the example for our family and talk about what we are thankful for instead of complaining. Choose to speak kind words in a loving tone. Be an encourager. Hug a lot.  Plan ahead for things so you’re not running around like a headless chicken becoming stressed and agitated. It’s the mama that sets the tone for the home. Change your thoughts, change your life. Proverbs 3:27 says “As a man thinks in his heart so is he”. Make up your mind to be the kind of mama and wife that  blesses your loved ones, lifting them up instead of tearing them down. Choose joy so that home will be sweet.

Memorize these scriptures and keep them in your heart:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

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Be A Blessing: In the morning while you’re getting dressed, as yourself the question: How can I be a blessing to my family and friends? Little things mean a lot. It doesn’t take much to show someone you care.  A word.  A note. A kind deed. A smile. A phone call. A text. It might be just the thing that will hug a heart hungry for a little lovin’.

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Give your family that “Welcome Home” feeling! Greet them with a kiss, a hug and a smile. Let them know you are glad they’re home. Write “I love my family” on a chalkboard for them to see.  Have the table set for supper early…it sends a sweet message to your dear ones that they are cared for…it tells them “Mama’s fixin’ to cook up a tummy-warmin”-lip-smackin’-mouth-watering-hearty dinner soon! Let your honey’s know that everything’s gonna be alright now that their home. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…make your house a place your family wants to come home to.

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” ~Calvin Trillin

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Say the words… ” I love you”…”I’m so proud of you”…”I’m sorry”…”Please” and “thank you!” …”I forgive you”.   These are vital to a happy sweet home.

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Eat together and make Suppertime enjoyable!

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Bake a pie! Or a sweet treat every once in a while!

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Take time out. Turn everything off (computers, TV, –any noise) Listen to the quiet.  Listen to the birds, hear the breeze rustle the leaves in the  trees or the low rumble of a distant storm. Gather your thoughts. Listen to your heart. Take a deep breath. Get refreshed. Have a little talk with Jesus.

Bring beauty into your home! A vase of fresh cut flowers. A bowl of fruit. A lit candle. Keep your home tidy and smelling sweet. Make it a rule in your home to pick up around the house and make sure the kitchen is clean before you go to bed at night. I love the Fly Lady’s advise to end the day with a clean kitchen sink. I scrub my sink every night with Comet. I do love natural cleaners, but for my sink and toilet I use Comet. It feels good to know that all germs and bacteria have been eliminated. I also empty the kitchen garbage after dinner so my kitchen doesn’t smell like garbage the next day. Gals, don’t we want our kitchen to greet us with a spic and span smile each mornin’…all shiny and bright and smellin’ sweet? Yes we do!

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Go on a date! Keep your romance alive. Or go have coffee or tea with a friend.  It’s good to get out and be with people you love and when you return you’ll feel the wonderful comfort and  joy of being “Home Sweet Home”.

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Keep a song in your heart! Find a song that makes you feel happy and sing it! I have many songs that I sing… old hymns, new praise songs, golden oldies and Christmas carols! Singing Jingle Bells just makes me plum happy! I even hum it to myself when I’m grocery shopping! LOL! What can I say? I’m just a sillyheart!

This is what I read today in the book Splashes of Joy. by Barbara Johnson..so cute! Hope it makes you smile!! :

“After leading twelve thousand women at a Women of Faith conference in a rousing chorus of “I’ll Fly Away” this anonymous note was left at my book table:

—Just wanted to tell you how big of a smile was on my face as we sang “I’ll Fly Away.”…My mom…told us the story of my grandmother singing “I’ll Fly Away” at the top of her lungs. When she got to the chorus, she had forgotten the words, but that didn’t stop her. She just improvised and kept right on singing. When she got to “When I die…” she sang, “When I DO, hallelujah, DOO-DEE-DOO, I’ll fly away.” My sisters and I will sing it that way ’til the day we “DO” (I mean “die”).

—-”I’ll never hear that song again without thinking of that spunky grandmother belting out her homemade lyrics with great joy and gusto!” ~ Barbara Johnson

Daily Splashes of Joy: 365 Gems to Sparkle Your Day (Johnson, Barbara)

The book Daily Splashes Of Joy by Barbara Johnson is filled with 365 daily devotions. One short little reading a day will go a long way to make your heart sparkle with sweetness and glimmer with joy.

I love that story of the “spunky grandmother”!!  Singing is a good thing! My hubby and I have always made up songs with our kids names inserted (kids love to hear their name in songs and stories!).

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Well Sugar Pies,  the key to a sweet home starts inside your heart. The way to keep it sweet is to allow God to fill your heart with His lavish love for you. The book “Beautiful In God’s Eyes” by Elizabeth George will bless your heart as she explores the beauty, joy and contentment of the Proverbs 31 woman. It’s an easy read and rich with wisdom and guidance for today’s homemaker.

Beautiful in God's Eyes: The Treasures of the Proverbs 31 Woman

Beautiful In God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George…one of my favorite writers! She’s a blessing to homemakers everywhere! Good books like this are a blessing! They have helped me become a better mama than I would have been! Thank the Lord for godly women clearing the path for us!

God Bless your Darlin’s Hearts Sugar Pies! Thank you so very much for your comments! I wish I could get back to everyone of you, but please know that I read them, and pray for you! They encourage me to keep this blog going…I love to know that you are out there reading this and if it is helping you.

Be sure to come chat with me on FACEBOOK!

Hugs to y’all!

Aunt Ruthie

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