Spanish Class

We've had our first week of Spanish. It's not so bad. We don't appear to be too far behind. Well, I am not too far behind, Jeff appears to be well ahead of what we are working on. Our instructor is young with an quirky sense of humor that promises to keep class interesting. The packet of required reading material which included, text books, lab manual, work book, and answer key was $200 at the bookstore. That's almost as much as it costs to take the class. So I just spent some time hunting down the pieces and we have the all the books coming separately to us from various places around the US for a total of $52.33 and that's with shipping. It makes me wonder how many student buy at full price. I guess there must be suckers out there.


Waking Up Cold

Last night we slept with the windows open per-usual. We haven't been running the air conditioner to help save with energy costs and acclimate us to doing with out. This morning it was cold. I normally cuddle up to Jeff when I fall a sleep, but shift to sleeping on my back some time during the night. This morning I woke up completely wrapped around him. He makes a great heater. According to weather.com the over night low was only 60. Maybe I'm getting soft to cold weather. I haven't been through an Iowa winter in two years. Although, it's pretty sad if 60 feels cold.

I have been working on botanically correct embroidered pillow cases recently, but they may get put on hold so I can start a nice warm quilt. I planned to use the miss-matched napkins from our wedding to make the quilt. I've never tried to make one before. I'm sure it is one of those things that will take a lot longer than I think it should. If I am lucky I might get it done before we go on Peace Corps.

Writing of which, we start our Spanish class tonight. It should be interesting. I hope we aren't too far behind.


Making Wild Grape Jelly

My mom and I are making wild grape jelly today. Last weekend they went canoeing for wild grapes on the Skunk River. They picked two five gallon buckets almost full of grapes. My industrious mother boiled the grapes and hung them up in cheese cloth to drip out their juices.

Now we are boiling the juice with lots of sugar and some pectin. There are seven cups of sugar to the five cups of juice. Wild grapes are sour. Then we will pour the hot jelly into jars and give them a hot water bath to seal shut and that's how you make wild grape jelly. For a full recipe on how to make cooked wild grape jelly click here.

No one else I know of makes grape jelly. Mom says she doesn't know anyone else other than her mother who canned grape jelly from wild grapes.

I looked up wild grape jelly online and a place out of Montana sells it for $1 an once. That is the only place I can find that uses Vitis raparia to make their jelly. The other "wild grapes" used are concord or some other more or less domesticated grape. They are calling any grape with seeds wild. My definition is grapes you didn't plant that are growing wild.

If we could sell all this jelly for a dollar and once, we'd make over $400. Anyone want to buy some wild grape jelly?

According to my internet sources, the wild grapes around Iowa are known as the fox, skunk, or riverbank grapes. Apparently they are called fox or skunk because the skin of the fruit smells like wet fur. Interesting, I never noticed that.

Wild Grape Jelly

This recipe yields 7 cups of jelly.

  • 5 pounds wild grapes on stems
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 7 cups white sugar
  • 1 packet Sure-Jell
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil (optional)
  • Jelly jars for 7 cups of jelly
  1. In the Midwest wild grapes usually ripen in August. Take a canoe trip down the river or walk the banks and fill your old 2-gallon ice-cream bucket with grapes. Use a produce sale to weigh the grapes stems and all. A full two gallon bucket should be about five pounds.
  2. Wash the grapes gently in cool water. Remove any damaged grapes and leaves. Don't worry about taking the grapes off their stems; it's a lot of work and it doesn't affect the recipe.
  3. Put the grapes in a big pot and add 3 1/2 cups water. Simmer covered for 20 minutes. After boiling pour through a cheese cloth or a strainer to remove the stems and grape skins. Do not press or force the grapes through this will give you cloudy juice.  Just let it sit a couple hours or over night even and you will be left with a clear juice.
  4. Measure how much juice you have made. You should be close to 5 cups juice. It is important to be exact. If it is over 5 cups discard the extra. If it is not enough add water to reach five cups. It is key not to dilute your juice. If you are more than a half cup under, boil more grapes or reduce the recipe accordingly. At this point you can save your juice and make jelly another day or you can keep going.
  5. Get out your canning jars, lids and the canner. Start by filling the canner half full with water and bringing the water to a simmer. Keep the water simmering while you make the jelly.
  6. Sterilize your jelly jars and their lids by either running them through a hot dishwasher, or washing them in soapy water and then carefully pouring boiling water over them. Keep the jars clean by placing them upside down on a clean towel. Avoid contaminating them, do not put your fingers, or tongs inside the jars.
  7. In a 6 or 8 quart sauce pan add the 5 cups juice and the packet of pectin. At this point you can add the vegetable oil if you want. It will help reduce foaming so the jelly has a nice smooth surface as it cools and make it more manageable in the sauce pan. Measure out the white sugar and have it standing ready.
  8. Over high heat bring the juice and pectin to a full boil, stir constantly with a metal spoon. Pour the sugar in and continue stirring. When the jelly returns to a rolling boil, time exactly one minute, then remove the pan from the burner. Use the metal spoon to skim any foam off the top.
  9. Working quickly pour the hot jelly into the jelly jars. Leave at least a quarter inch between the jelly and the rim of the jar. If needed with a clean towel wipe the lip and rim of the jar clean. Then cover the jar with the lid and screw on the band tightly.
  10. Carefully remove the jar rack from the canner and place the hot jars into the jar rack. Lower the rack into the canner. The water should be 1 to 2 inches above the tops of the jars. Add more hot water if needed. Cover and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes.
  11. Using tongs and hot pads, remove the jelly jars from the canner and place upside down on towels to cool. 
  12. When the jars are completely cool check the seals my pressing on the lid. You should not be able to depress the lid. If one of the jars doesn't seal put it in the refrigerator and use it first. Store your jelly in a dark, temperature controlled place. The jelly will be good for years, but I doubt it will last that long.



Today was drive everybody's car around and move furniture day. From this we benefited an ivy quilted, polyester, extra-long sofa. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? It's now in our living room. I'll have to post pictures of it soon. It is better than our two twin beds stacked on top of each other sitting area. Now I just need to get that coat rack from Clarissa. (She might think I have forgotten about it, but I haven't. I am just waiting until she moves to her new place, then I'll get it.)


Fair Time

Wednesday Jeff and I ventured down to the Iowa State Fair. We did all the things we like to do at The Fair. (By we, I mean what I like to do.) We started by going through the 4-H Building, then the horses, biggest bull, and biggest boar. Of course we had to go through the Agriculture Building and see the Butter Cow and all the open class produce. Our last stop was the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon. I think their quality is getting much worse. I know I have seen better stuff there in the past. Maybe it was just a bad year.

While walking through the 4-H Building I saw a project that was two of these Church Lady Aprons. They were so cute. Much cuter in person than the pattern shows and they look really easy to make. I love the tulip pocket on the upper one. I think I will have to look and see if Jo-Ann's has this pattern, otherwise I'll order it. Just what I need another unfinished sewing project!


Picnic Weather

Today is beautiful and it is August. Now I am not saying it was a beautiful day for August. I am saying that no matter what month it is, today was beautiful. What is more amazing is it took place in one of the hottest, highest humidity months Iowa has. In fact it’s during the notoriously bad Iowa State Fair time. I took advantage of the perfect temperate and sunny sky by eating lunch outside. Then I came home and made Jeff put pants on, so we could picnic in the park. I guess he wouldn't have to put pants on, but when eating hot food it is generally advisable.


More, more Pictures

Finally after posting scads of friends' photos, and our photos, the professional photos of our wedding have arrived.


event ID: ledges

Mark Kegan did an excellent job. He got a lot of the pictures we didn't have yet. There are some that are so picture perfect they look posed. But they're not; the only posed ones are the group family shots and a couple of us showing our rings or flower bouquets. The best part is we own all the rights to the photos he took and we have them in gigantic format on a dvd plus 4x6 proofs as well. I would highly recommend Mark.


Lost and Found

It happened today. I looked down and there was no ring on my finger. I had moved my wedding band to my middle finger earlier in the day because it was loose. Of course, right when I was helping a customer, I noticed it was gone. So I couldn't just drop to the floor and search for it. Once the customer was gone, Mel helped me and we searched all over. It didn't take more than 15 minutes to find it in the bottom of a crate of arrangements I had just packed up.

I had a couple of momentary flashes of what if my ring is gone forever? It made me really sad. I like my ring, I like the fact Jeff cast in out of the same batch of metal with his ring. I like they are a match set out of an unusual metal. Getting a new ring just wouldn't be the same. Not to mention kind of expensive.

Now that I have it back, I think my ring might need to be resized. I don't want to go through that again.


Over the Hedge not a bad movie

Jeff and I have been taking advantage of the dollar theater. Boy did I miss that. I think I saw two or three movies in as many years while in Savannah and Pennsylvania. We could buy the movie for the price of admittance in Georgia.
However, the dollar theater is only a dollar on Wednesdays. So on Wednesday we went to see Over the Hedge. We chose that movie mainly because the other options were crappy. Although for some reason I kind of wanted to see The Fast and The Furious Four or what ever number they are on. Don't tell anyone though, someone might get the idea I like bad movies about cars.

Over the Hedge was cute. It had a surprisingly poignant plot about how suburban growth is destroying wild habitat and how consumerism can be well consuming; while at the same time being funny. There was some cheap humor for the kiddies, but there was enough intelligent references to video games, Futurama and literature to make it engaging. For being something I expected not to care about, it was decent.


More Pictures

We could have hired Kathleen to be our wedding photographer. Check out the really nice pictures she took at our wedding:



Junk Mail

I normally just throw junk mail in the recycling bin, but recently we received a West Elm catalog to current resident. I always like sleek modern furniture, and this company has some really well designed furniture. I really liked this: Not only is it pretty and functional, but it would be wonderful for moving around and fitting into new spaces. I love the square pull details. The only thing I would change is I would make it of a natural maple wood. Perhaps I can convince my dad to help me make it. It doesn't look too complicated.


I asked Jeff to get basil when he went to the grocery store. It cost $4 for 2 onces. I miss my basil plants. I hope someone in Georgia is enjoying them or at least watering them.

Tonight I stopped by my parents' house and got a couple pots, potting soil and herb seeds. Hopefully we'll have some plants before it freezes.

Jeff just updated our wedding website with pictures from the wedding and honeymoon. So if you haven't seen enough of them... FoyandJeff.com


Summer Tomatoes

The best part of summer is home grown tomatoes. Luckily for me, my mother planted some this spring. They are so flavorful and juicy. Last night Jeff and I had a delicious meal of White Bean Tuna Salad with cherry tomatoes on toasted rye bread topped off with fresh grated parmesan.

First Day of Work

This is the first day I have worked a full eight hours since May. I had a nice two months off, but now it is high time I started replenishing the bank account. I remember most things about working at the flower shop.

I seem to have almost a root memory for a lot of the computer tasks. If I get started right, I can get through to the end; but if I start wrong or get interrupted I have no idea what I am doing.

My design skills do not appear to have suffered during the hiatus. I turned out several quality arrangements in a timely manner. There are only three full time florists including myself and we won't get any part-time help until ISU starts. I should have no problem getting 40 hours a week.


We are back again

We are back, again. This time from Adam and Emily's wedding. We drove to PA on the 26 and 27 of July. Then we had one nice relaxing day in the Amish Stay Vacation House before the masses arrived. The house Adam had rented was really nice. We had a completely furnished kitchen, nine beds and three full baths. However, even a five bedroom house feels crowded when you get 17-19 people in it. Most of our friends car pooled or flew or took the train in. So for all these people we had four cars. Mine was one of those cars. My car was picking people up at the train/bus station or taking people to rehearsals and dinners on what felt like an hourly basis. Luckily other people drove it, some of the time. It was just a matter of keeping track of the keys.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I forgot to put on deodorant when I was getting ready for the wedding. What’s a girl to do? With the limited bathroom space, I tried to be speedy in my toiletries, but why is it always the deodorant that I forget? Of course, it was hot and humid. I spent the whole wedding with my arms slightly out to better increase circulation. Luckily one of Emily's friends came to the rescue and snuck in some antiperspirant from her car.

Despite my armpit faux pas, I enjoyed the wedding. I tried to take a picture and my camera just wouldn’t cooperate so I am sponging this picture from Lisa’s blog.

The ceremony was really nice and there was one point, right after the vows, where the entire congregation was a chorus of sniffles. The reception was very romantic. I met more of Jeff’s family. I can’t keep track of them all. My feet were very tired by the end of the night. After a little clean up, it felt really good to go back to the house and take a shower.

Monday morning we all packed up, dropped off people at the train station and drove back across the country. Back at the ranch, we are recovering from our travels and tomorrow I will start work at Mary Kay’s Flowers.