This weekend I made 30 half pints of homemade blackberry jam. My sweet cousin and his wife have some blackberries that are very easy to pick -- which is another way of saying they are tame blackberries, they mow right up to the bushes and mulch underneath them so no chiggers!!
Blackberry jam is so easy to make!!! Just "mush" up some blackberries, add sugar and pectin, and voila!!!
And I have to say that this Ball FreshTech Jam & Jelly Maker takes all the hard work out of it!!! You can get the details HERE. You just follow the instructions and let this handy dandy machine do all the hard work of stirring for you!! I've had mine for years and highly recommend it!! **
I'm sorry the picture is a little dark, but this is the finished blackberry jam right before I put it in jars. I follow the recipe that is included with the FreshTech and each batch made 5 half pint jars. You work in small batches which takes a little bit of time, but the good news is while the jam is "cooking" you can be doing something else. You don't have to stand there and stir!!!!!
I made 6 batches, 30 half pint jars in all, and canned them using a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, 10 half pint jars at a time.
The jam is just delicious, and so much better than what you can buy at the store. And if you're new to "canning" and looking to get started this is truly the simplest way!!! You DO NOT have to have the Ball FreshTech machine to make jam or jelly, but it sure makes it easier!!
On Sunday I celebrated my 53rd birthday!!! I seriously do not know where the last 53 years have gone? I feel about 25 or 26 years old and I'm not kidding! My birthday was a very busy day!! I got up and walked 3 miles before I headed to church. After church I went to my parents house and cleaned house, changed the sheets, did laundry and fixed them lunch. Then I headed to Wal-Mart and the grocery store for them and for me. Once I got home I made two more batches of blackberry jam, then went outside and mowed the yard and walked 3 more miles (I'm trying to get in better shape . . . I also started a HIIT class which I go to 3 times per week), then jumped in the shower and got ready for my family to come over for a fish fry at our house. My husband fries the best fish and potatoes and onions this side of the Mississippi River!!!! All in all it was a great birthday spent with family. I have my family and my health and I know Jesus as my Savior. Nothing else really matters!!
My mom is doing well. We continue to try and get her to eat more, but it is hard for her. She is walking farther each day (hooray!) and still doing her exercises and drinking her Ensure shakes. We go back to MD Anderson next week for blood work and a new CT scan of her liver, and to meet with her surgeon and oncologist. Then the first week in August we go back down for an ablation of the one remaining tumor in her liver. We are praying that when we get there next week the tumor is GONE and the ablation isn't necessary. Seriously, that is our prayer. I know that is a big prayer, but I serve a big God!! If you believe, as we do, that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, then please agree with us in prayer for complete healing for my mom!!
I hope you can tell from reading my blog that I am a very positive person. I am an encourager. I try hard to always see the "bright side" of things and to look for the silver lining in every cloud. I love Jesus and I trust Him that all things work together for our good and His glory! But I have to be completely transparent with you all and share that I have moments of being very discouraged and very overwhelmed. Being a caregiver is exhausting and while my two sisters help, the responsibility and most of the day to day going and doing for my parents falls to me. Next week I will take them to Houston for the 7th time since last September, and in August I will make the 8th trip for the ablation if it is needed. My mom gets a Lovenox shot in her stomach every evening, 7 nights a week, and will need those shots for several more months, and I give those shots nearly every night. I go to the store for them and try to keep their house clean. My mom gets pretty discouraged sometimes and I try HARD to keep her focused on being thankful and encouraged. I call her every morning and I see her nearly every evening. And I still work full-time and try to take care of my own home and family. So if I sound like I'm feeling a little bit sorry for myself, I guess I am. I'm tired. As I said in a post a couple of months ago, I just want my life back. I want normal back.
I really don't say all this to make you feel sorry for me. Please don't feel sorry for me!!! I AM OK!!!!! I said all this so that if you are going through a rough patch in your life, I want you to know that it is OK to feel sorry for yourself once in awhile. It is OK to feel overwhelmed some days. Just because we trust in the Lord, it doesn't mean that we aren't still human and have all these emotions that can change daily, sometimes even hourly. I have great days, and some not so great days. I have days of being full of faith and confident that God is going to heal my mother and this cancer we see before us we will NEVER SEE AGAIN!!! And then I read about someone dying from cancer, or I hear about someone losing a loved one, and I am faced with the reality that while God hears and answers our prayers, He does not always answer in the way we would want. That doesn't mean we didn't have faith, it just means that He is God and we are not. MOST OF ALL IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE STOP PRAYING FOR THE MIRACLE!! I will pray for my mother to be healed until God heals her or He calls her home. And on those days when my faith is weak and I just want to run away (yes, I have days of wanting to absolutely RUN AWAY) I will pray and ask God to wrap His loving arms around me and remind me that this is His burden to carry, not mine. And He always reminds me that He loves me, even on the days when my faith is weak. His joy is my strength. Even though some days I am more joyful than others.
I can't thank you all enough for sticking with me here at Down On The Farm. I know the past year there haven't been many light and happy posts, and I will continue to share what's going on with my mom and I will continue to be transparent about my feelings. But I am trying to be very intentional about moving on with my life while continuing to do all I can for my parents. I've given this horrible disease the past year of my life, as I feel as if my life has been on hold since July 29, 2016, the date of my mom's diagnosis. And I'm going to try HARD to not keep putting off LIVING AND ENJOYING MY LIFE. That doesn't help my mom, it doesn't help me, and it certainly doesn't glorify God.
So in the midst of updates on trips to MD Anderson, you're gonna see me update my laundry room, so stay tuned! And keep those prayers for my mom, Donna, coming. God is good!
**And just as a disclaimer Ball has NEVER heard of me. I bought this FreshTech Jam & Jelly maker years ago and I'm just sharing my thoughts on it.