raspberry vinegar


“I’m so proud of my vinegar.”  ~Things I Never Thought I Would Say

Joanna gave me this cookbook.  I don’t remember when she gave it to me but it was published in 2012 and I simply LOVE it…the photography is luscious and lovely…and the theme, SUMMER, makes it an obvious month of July choice to pull from the shelf and look through, slowly, out on the porch in the breeze.  Yes, I persue it often at this time of year but I’ve never really tried a recipe until two weeks ago.

On Friday the 13th I found a recipe that excited me.  The date was important, as I knew with that date I wouldn’t forget “WHEN” I started the vinegar.  Friday the 13th is easy to remember.


I’ve been picking cups and cups of wild raspberries, which are like gems, priceless gems, and the unusually generous amount this year gave me the freedom to easily sacrifice one and a half cups to make some raspberry infused vinegar.  The only downfall for me was having to wait the 2 weeks.

However, in typical busy mom fashion, after a couple days of being impatient about waiting, I completely forgot about it until today….two weeks later.


I know the bottle isn’t very beautiful.  I couldn’t even find a mason jar.   But the bottle is BPA free, so………


Right away, I reduced some of it in a pan on the stove in order to drizzle over cantaloupe. And while it was delicious, it looked rather like blood.

The cookbook suggests drizzling it over vanilla ice cream.  Can’t wait!


jam mama (part 2)

Ten years ago almost to this very day I wrote a post on my blog which was untitled but included the words…..JAM MAMA……

“You should have seen small Grace
diving into the warm cup of jam
that I set out on the table,
with a loaf of soft white bread from the bakery.
She tore of big chunks of bread
and dipped the majority of it down
into the bright red jam. . . .
there is just nothing like that warm, strawberry taste
. . . .it’s heavenly.

She called me ‘jam-mama’.”
July 12, 2008

Ten years have come and gone……

Grace is 18 now and was at work (as a cashier downtown at the grocery store) yesterday when I walked up the road to “see if there were any raspberries left”.  I determined to really look and really pick every single good enough berry I could find.  This involved lots of bending over and looking underneath the tangle of vines and briars and taking my merry ol’ sweet time.


I eventually came home with 6 cups.

Incidentally, these berries grow on the side of the road, free for the foraging!  I already have a gallon of them frozen in our chest freezer in the pantry.  Once they ripen, we have to go back every couple of days to pick some more until they are finally all done.  They are productive!

We have a small patch of wild raspberries over by the chicken coop, too, which the chickens love to jump up and eat off the cane.  Then they lay us the most lovely eggs out of appreciation.

The black-cap raspberries grow on the bank by our drive way and under the dead pine tree at the bottom of the yard by the pond.


I always pick clean but you never know what little creatures may have taken a ride home with the berries.  So I dumped them out to look through them.

I put them in a pan and simmered them until they released all their juice.  I strained out the seeds, measured the juice (2 cups) and added them back to the pan with the same amount of sugar (2 cups).  Brought to a rolling boil for 3 minutes and then beaten with the mixer for another 3 minutes.  Done!  So easy, so satisfying.

I was given the recipe by my very own jam mama, Cindy.


Jacob said the jelly would taste good on “that cake you made the other day” and Ethan suggested some other baked good and I said “How about homemade biscuits?” And he said YES PLEASE.

I made a double batch of biscuits and we all ate them up right away with the homemade jelly on top.

Everywhere I looked there were children grabbing  another and another biscuit, slathering it with butter and jelly, and walking away with it………

This morning my feet are sticking to the carpet and the floor.

we saw an Indigo Bunting today!!!!


Better than any argument is to rise at dawn
and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.
~Wendell Berry

I gathered a little lunch snack for Sarah and she ate every single thing but the lettuce.  And then she wanted more peas so she went outside herself and picked them.  She started a project of opening them up to only get the peas out (these are sugar snaps and we generally eat them whole) and she worked until she had about 1/8 of a cup.  Then she ate them.  Parker the dog ate the cases.

I stayed home from church with her while Rich went with everyone else.  I cleaned the kitchen and living room and vacuumed while she rested and kept herself hydrated.  I’m very pleased with how she is doing today.


At one point she said, “I’m so sad because I got that beautiful necklace at the hospital and I never got to wear it.  It’s lost.”  And I said, “No it’s not lost, it’s around here someplace.”  “Yes it is!  Lost is when you don’t know where something is so… it’s lost.”  Then I agreed she was right.  Five minutes later she found it.


As soon as they came home from church Ethan took a nap.

Rest on a Sunday.  It’s only natural.

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I went on the porch to read but I didn’t read for very long because it is a very moth and butterfly sort of day.  Quite distracting.  I went in the house to get my camera and Dave walked around with me to see what we could see.

There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me. ~Thomas Jefferson


The most exciting thing David found was a monarch caterpillar.  We look for them yearly but have not seen any for several years!!


It was rewarding, in a way, because I never ever weed out milkweed in the hopes that we will once again get caterpillars.  The milkweed this one was on grew right through the middle of my lilac bush by the kitchen window.  Can you see the caterpillar?  David spotted it right away.  We couldn’t believe how fat it was.

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We put it, along with plenty of milkweed, in an old empty aquarium.  We will observe it while it forms into a beautiful butterfly….stay tuned!

Naturally, I wanted to go up to the field to try to find more but none of the children would go with me.  I went out to the garage, where my husband was waxing his car, and asked him to go along.  He agreed to go as soon as he was done with the left fender.

I waited for him by the stream.

We picked some wild blueberries (1/4 of a cup) and I put them in my pocket.

We talked.

We were attacked by mosquitoes.

We saw birds and butterflies.

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An Indigo Bunting!


what a heavenly blue


It’s mate was there, too, and they were making all kinds of noise to threaten us so we believe their nest was nearby.


God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther


back home


Sarah’s first day back at home after surgery has been a gift.  Things like this always make me appreciate the little things in life even more.


When we arrived home, I noticed differences right away.

The morning glories are inches further up the sunflowers.
Gypsy moths are flying around.
My gardens and hanging baskets are dry and need watering.
Raspberries are ripening fast.
The grass was longer.

I know my house, my land, my gardens.  My roots go way down.


How to heal a little girl; with snuggles, stuffed animals that fit just right in a small hand, books, back scratches, ginger ale, movies, smiles, brothers and a sister, games, rides in a wheelchair, naps, words of encouragement, leaving the hospital as soon as possible, pain medicine, a nest on the couch, getting clean with a shower, soap, and combed out hair, tempting foods like fresh garden peas and wild raspberries picked by a loving sister and mama.




When your big brother comes in the house with a visitor.


And when your mom and dad leave, just for an hour, to go to a library used book sale.


The top six were for her.

raspberry pancakes



Today I saw a strange little bird,
and I said to the strange little bird,

“Would you like some berries?”
and she said yes.

“Where did you find these yummy berries?” she chirped.  “I want some more!”
“I know right where they are,” I said, “Can I show you?”

so off we flew.




She flapped her wings and sang a song for me.

But mostly she just picked berries.

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little birds love wild berries of all kinds


“I know where some more are, do you want me to show you?”
And she said, “Yes” again.
We walked this time.
We walked up the road together.


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Birds like berries.
Cats like birds.
She ate all the berries, lickety split, making a “yum yum” sound.
I saved mine in my shirt.
Do you know how to do that?
You fold up the bottom of your shirt, and it makes a pocket!

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Back home we went.

She saw the garden.

“Okay. I’m going to pick some peas now,” said my sweet bird.
(she had blue feathers, with silver stars)

“I’m going to do something that starts with a P, too!” I replied.  “I am going to make Pancakes.”

“Raspberry ones!, with the berries we picked.”


I watched the little bird all alone in the garden, picking peas.
I watched her through the window, briefly.
Then I set to work.
“What’s in your shirt, acorns?” her brother asked.
“No, it’s berries.”

I made raspberry pancakes for a snack.

She ate one, her brother ate two.


They ate them with lots of butter and syrup on top.

I think we might dream of berries and pancakes tonight.

day of summer


We went strawberry picking in a quiet open field.  There was a nice lady just down the row from us who was friendly and spoke like she had known us forever.  From the race of Joseph, I feel sure.

They were 29 dollars and 15 cents for 11.2 pounds.

The air was hot and fresh.  The sky was blue.

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I remember standing at Grandma’s kitchen counter when she made a fruit pizza (it was the first time I had it).  I don’t know why I had to make one today but I did, I had to.


Seth seemed to hang in the air as he leapt from the dock into the warm pond.  The boys were happy and carefree.  Everyone is getting browner from the sunshine but Michael’s nose is sun burnt and red.



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Seth found a beautiful insect.

David had a friend over and there was a feeling of celebration as it was the first day of summer and the house was full of people we loved.

Perhaps that is why I felt the impulse to make the fruit pizza?

All thirteen of us, at four o’clock in the afternoon, had a little summer day pizza party.

The moms sat and chatted at the table while the kids all ran off to play games and swim.









“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”
― Susan Polis Schutz


after berries



savor ~ to enjoy food or an experience slowly, in order to enjoy it as much as possible


“If she were seen holding a stem of beardtongue blossoms to admire their color or stooping to touch the spikes of jimson leaves, some would solemnly call her mazed in the head not to know beardtongue when she saw it, and others would wonder, grinning, was she so wit-scoured as perhaps to eat jimson?  Gossip had it that she went about with a notebook and pencil and would stare at a thing–bird or bush, weed, sunset, mountain—and then scratch at paper awhile as if she were addled enough in her thinking that she might forget what was important to her if she did not mark it down.”  Cold Mountain, page 77-78


I was walking around the pond and picked the stems of three daisies to gift to little Sarah, who was playing at the water’s edge.  I thought she would enjoy floating them in the water like pretty little boats.  I happened to see a tiny struggle going on underneath one of the blossoms.  A small red bug was pulling and tugging at a worm smaller even than one of the white petals.  I put it gently on the ground to watch.  A miniature little scene, something real and active, yet silent and easily missed.  Neither one of them wanted to let go…the bug holding the worm, and the worm holding the thin edge of the daisy petal.  But shortly the worm lost it’s hold and the bug moved fast to carry it away.  Of course with the daisy now topsy turvy, it took him a quick second to realize that what was “down” was now “up” and the bug had to run back down from the top of the cut of stem to move off the flower and onto the rock,  heading for the sheltering grass.



With a basket on my arm, I later wandered away from the house alone in the golden ending hours of the day.  I was after berries.  I found a cup and a half of blackberries around the house and garage and wanted to see if I could find more.  I had an idea of where some might be, and perhaps even some blueberries, but the bush I thought was likely blueberry turned out to be something unidentifiable.  It had little white blossoms on it that looked like the blossoms for blueberries, but no berries, instead, little hard seed pods.  I stood in the twilight, letting myself settle into the very quiet of the beaver pond.  Three golden birds sang by with their wings fluttering.


I was wearing flip flops which were now soaked with water but as I looked a short distance down, I thought I could see a blueberry bush, so once again I picked my way through tall grasses, rocks, and branches, basket on my arm, heavy camera around my neck.  Smiling a little smile.



I tasted a berry, there weren’t very many, and held a thin branch of blueberry bush in my hand.  The bark was rough and strong.


Under the bush was like a shelter.  The branches were over hanging, all leaning toward the right, making a roof of green leaves overhead.  I imagined taking the time to gather in under them, to watch the water, the little bugs skimming on top, the birds flying by not knowing I was there.


The path that I took to get to the bottom of the hill, with the water of the beaver pond.




There is something so satisfying about standing still in a lonely spot of nature for a time, listening, looking, wondering.