Dream a little dream...

I have been having some crazy dreams. They've been pretty harmless, but they make me worry. I don't always dream so colorfully and when I do, I rarely remember it. So, this is a little bit unusual for me, at least in the last ten or so years. It's probably a weird admixture of horror movies and the fact that my life is a little off-kilter lately. 

Two or three nights ago, I dreamt that I was living in a little house up in Smithfield, where I was trapped inside, held hostage by a very large snake. It was some sort of diamondback-rattle-snake-cobra-hybrid-thing. It had eaten all of the mounted animal heads from the walls, which is ridiculous because I would never mount an animal's head on the wall. It was coming after us, and our diabetic cat, and we were trying to figure out how to get out of the house. As an aside, when I say "us" I mean me and my husband... Derek Hough.

The night after that, I dreamt that someone kept stealing the doors from my car. Every time I'd go out to get in it, there would be no doors and I'd have to get them replaced. My car was parked on top of a parking garage, at an angle like it would be in a car commercial. The doors just kept coming up missing. Everything else was accounted for. It was pretty vivid and ridiculous.

When I told Matt I had a dream that I was married to Derek Hough and that that wasn't even the point of the dream, he rolled his eyes. When I told him about my car dream, he laughed. He's always been a vivid dreamer, having really crazy strange dreams, so he finds it amusing. Looking back at it now, maybe it is a little funny. Clearly, I worry too much.

Being Thankful

Thanksgiving was a tough this year. I learned on Wednesday that my cousin, who was 42 years old, had died. He was only four years older than I am now. While I hadn't seen him in a long time, he had always been such a lovely person. His family is inconsolable over the loss, he and his wife had two children under five. It's been a blow to us all, even though of us who hadn't had seen him in recent years.

A loss like this puts things into some sort of perspective, especially at the holidays. All those things for which I wasn't feeling particularly thankful have fallen away. All that remains are those very basic things we should all be thankful to have, chief among them life. If you can see this, you should feel thankful. Not everyone is lucky enough to do the same.

If you were with your family this thanksgiving, all well, be thankful. If you have a roof over your head, be thankful. If you can hug your spouse, your parents, or your children, be thankful. If you can draw breath into your lungs or gorge on good food, be thankful.

Most of all, don't take for granted these things so many others don't have the luxury to enjoy. Take a minute to really count your blessings and tell your loved ones you love then and are Thankful they're there. You may not have another chance.

Sick Kitty

Our sweet 13 year old kitty, Galileo, has diabetes.

A month or so ago, he began to lose weight. Then he began not to be able to walk well and after a while, he could no longer jump. He stopped using the cat box (instead going for the dog's piddle pads) and has developed an unquenchable thrust. He still has an appetite, but no weight gained back. 

Tuesday, we took him to the vet. A lovely man, Dr. James Israelsen at Mountain View Veterinary Clinic here in Logan, saw him. They took blood work, checked his urine, and said he's diabetic--he was 21 lbs before this thing started and 11 lbs when we took him to the vet Tuesday. He can't walk because he has diabetic neuropathy, which affects his nerves and muscles. 

We've been taking him in for a shot every day since. Today we went in so he could teach us how to give Galileo his shots and take his blood sugar at home.

The cat is on insulin shots and special food. We're hoping to get it under control enough that he'll be healthy again, that he'll be able to walk better.

He's a good kitty. We love him dearly. We're going to do whatever we need to do to try to get him healthy again. ♥ 

Lazy Sunday Morning

It's 9:30 on a Sunday morning. Matt's asleep because he works Sunday nights. Frank Sinatra is on the record player and the windows are all open, because it's a cool 52 degrees outside this morning. Fall is coming to Northern Utah, but right now we're in that weird transitional period when it's cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon. It's supposed to stop that this coming week; I'm greatful.

Fall here is gorgeous. All the leaves change colors and the apples on our tree out front are ready for picking. I start to climb out of my funk as the weather gets cooler. There's just something about fall that makes me feel so good. Maybe that's a little bit manic, since I've been feeling so low, but I'll take it. Fall brings Halloween, which is fun here, and then it brings winter! And winter brings... SNOW! I can't wait.

I spent the morning with my pups, enjoying some time alone, and pulling my files from my old computer. It runs well enough in safe mode to get what I needed. Which would have been great if my new new computer had an SD card reader. An easy fix, though.

For now, Frank Sinatra just finished playing and Matt just got up. It's going to be a nice, lazy Sunday afternoon. The very best kind.

Flavors of Fall: Apple-Maple Jam

We have an apple tree in our front yard and it's starting to feel like fall here. So, while browsing Pintrest yesterday, I can across a recipe for Caramel Apple Jam and knew immediately that I had to make it. But, I didn't have enough brown sugar. So, I moped around for a bit, then went back to Pintrest to find another apple jam recipe that I had the ingredients to make. While researching sugar substitutions, I found a great recipe for apple-maple jam that would do the trick.

Not only did it not require brown sugar, but I could use the bottle of pure maple syrup I had in the fridge. I don't put that stuff on pancakes, it's too expensive, but I had an entire bottle in there. It turned out to be just enough. And, the recipe didn't call for pectin. I made a no-pectin plum jam last year and it came out amazing, so I was eager to give it a shot again. Since apples make their own pectin, and I have a whole tree filled with them in my front yard, it seemed ideal.

I made a modified version of the recipe from Hestia's Kitchen blog and, although she says the recipe makes 8 half-pints, mine only made 6 1/2 half-pints. I'm not sure why, but not matter what recipe I use I've never managed to make as many jars as the recipe says is possible.

Apple-Maple Jam

12 cup.  Apples (peeled and diced)
6 cup     White Sugar
1 tbsp.   Butter
1 tsp.     Cinnamon
3/4 tsp.  Allspice
1/4 tsp.  Ground Cloves
2 tbsp.   Lemon Juice
1 cup     Pure Maple Syrup (the real stuff, not maple-flavored syrup)

Peel the apples and chop them into small pieces. It doesn't much seem to matter what kind of apples you use. I used apples from our tree and I have no idea what kind they are (they're a little tart, maybe Jonathans?). It still came out great.

In a large sauce pan/dutch oven combine apples with all of the rest of the ingredients. It's important that you use a pot that's plenty big enough so the jam can cook evenly.

Cook over medium heat until it begins to boil. When it's boiling, turn the temp up a bit and cook it until it begins to gel, stirring constantly so it doesn't scorch.

When it begins to gel and looks like it's thickening up (took mine about an hour), put some on a glass plate and put it in the freezer for a couple of minutes. When you take it out, tip the plate up. If it's ready, it won't run off the plate (like the pic on the right).

When it's done, take the pot off of the heat and let it cool on a cooling rack (the kind you use for cookies) for about five minutes. This allows it to cool just enough that the fruit won't all float to the top.

In the mean time, wash your jars with hot soapy water and dry, and soak the flat part of the jar lid in very hot water so they'll adhere to the jars. You'll also want to prepare the water bath canner by filling it with hot water and putting it on the stove on high heat to get the water boiling.

At the end of five minutes, fill the jars leaving 1/4 inch of empty space at the top. It's really helpful to have a ladle and jar funnel so you don't make a mess. When I started canning last year, I bought a set of canning tools and I've loved having them. Especially the jar tongs, which allow you to lift the jars out of the boiling water when they're done processing.

Wipe the tops of the jars with a clean, damp towel and place the flat part of the lid onto the jar. Once this is done for all of the jars, add the rings. Only hand tighten the rings, make sure they're secure but not too tight.

When the water in the canner is boiling, add the jars to the rack inside the canner and gently lower them into the boiling water. The jars need to be standing up, so if they fall over, use the jar tongs to stand them upright. It also helps to add some vinegar to the water bath inside the canner to prevent any minerals in the water from sticking to the jars. The vinegar ensures your jars come out nice and shiny.

Process the jars in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes, then gently lift them out using the jar tongs and place them onto a clean towel on the counter to cool.

The cooling process is my favorite part, other than eating the jam, of course, because I love the little popping sounds the jars make when they're sealing. It's got to be the most rewarding part of the whole canning process. It's a tiny little sound that means success!

Once they're cooled, check that the jars sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid. If it's firm with no give, the jars sealed. If it makes a popping sound and springs up, it's not sealed. If one of the jars hasn't sealed, just put into the fridge. But, this shouldn't be a problem, The jars should seal just fine as long as you're using new flats.

I'm so happy with the final product and, as a bonus, while it was cooking my house smelled so fantastic!!