Christmas & Everyday Cards from Scraps, 2 Styles, Easy, Made them During Quarantine

I made two styles of cards from scraps..One was influenced by Lindsay the Frugal crafter, and the other, the starburst design, is a favorite go to card for me.

I wanted to start by showing a lot of the cards I’d made for all occasions from my normal scraps of card stock. The process to make these cards is the same as for the Christmas cards, that I describe in detail below. On the all occasion cards, I used: Birthday diamond art from to add to the fronts of several of the birthday cards I made…Here’s a link to them if you are interested.

Paper clips w/ cute leather-look tassels from the Dollar Tree. link:

To make Christmas Cards:  First, I took my scraps and separated them by primary background colors….green, red and light blue. I then took the (for example) red scraps and organized them by the color tone so that when I made the starburst cards, colors next to each other would coordinate. Then I took each scrap and cut part of it into strips of varying widths, then made the rest into diamond/triangular shapes. I found the guillotine trimmer was the easiest for cutting triangular shapes..Mine is from Fiskars and I like it a lot. Link:   You’ll need at least three triangular shapes for each pattern for one sunburst card.

I used glue sticks from the Dollar Tree on the Christmas cards. Link:

I used two sheets of 8 1/2″ x 11″ white Pen Easy cardstock from Walmart, link: to cover with scrap strips. On the all-occasion cards, I used wet school glue and it made the cardstock really waffly, so when I made the Christmas cards, I changed to glue sticks. I hope the glue sticks hold the cards together until Christmas.

Making the cards from strips, I laid the strips in different directions until the card stock is completely covered in card stock.

Starburst cards: Used an A2 sized card base 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ scored on the 8 1/2″ length at 4 1/4″  Fold the card base and then using your diamond shaped scraps, lay your first diamond so the point isn’t exactly in the center of the card base. Lay each diamond shape so they completely but up against the diamond before it, making sure that the edges of the card is covered. Once you’ve covered the entire front, you’ll let the glue dry and then turn the card over and cut off the excess cardstock. Then put a sentiment and some kind of image on the front over the point where all of the diamonds come together.

Back to the full sheets that you’ve covered with strips.  Let them dry, then cut the sheets so there are four pieces that are 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″..I then put them into an (Darice’s Tribal Background or Snowflake) embossing folders and ran it through the Vagabond to get the impression on the cardstock.

I cut them down to 4″ x 5 1/4″ to lay on top of an A2 sized card base. I used different stamps and sentiments that I had accumulated in my stash. I made a reindeer card on camera, and I don’t know who made the reindeer stamp, but I colored it with alcohol markers and die cut it with a postage die, and then put fun foam under it and attached it to a card base. Then for the sentiment, I used Spellbinder’s Dear Santa chipboard stickers, link: Attached it to the card, and it was done.

Next, I made a card with Stamps of Life Light for Xmas stamp set. I stamped then with Gina K’s Amalgam Jet Black Ink, then clear embossing powder, then heat set them. Watercolored the lights w/ Viviva Colorsheets and brushes from Grace Art link: I used a tag die and cut out the sentiment, then colored it with the same green as the bulb, then used fun foam under it, and tied black embroidery floss to the tag, then wrapped the floss around the card and glued it down and glued the bulbs over it. I glued a metal snowflake to the tag and the card was finished.

I had a lot of loose embellishments that made this process SO much easier than it could have been. Unfortunately, I don’t know where I got them, as I found them in my stash..It was a great find, but sadly, no packaging..



I have had a great few days of craftiness.  I went to a garage sale on Friday, where they were selling a matted frame from IKEA for $2.  I had finished a diamond painting for our great niece of a bulldog…It happens to be her university’s mascot, and I’ve been wanting to frame it to send it on its way.  It looks like this before it’s framed (OK, and a lot more 5D Diamond Painting Kit- English Bulldog – Diamond Art Painter

like a diamond painting.)  I thought the frame would fit two owls leaning into each other, but when I looked through my finished diamond paintings, saw the bulldog and thought, this is it!  I couldn’t believe that it fit perfectly into the mat, and I mean perfectly…That never happens to me, so I was thrilled.  Finding frames for diamond paintings has turned out to be the toughest part of making them.  I’ve bought a lot of frames, but I think most of the ones I’ve bought are too big…darn it.  I need to check the size on this one and buy more like it (size wise.)

I’ve been wanting to finish the art journal I’ve been working on (forever, it seems,) and I had done one page that I absolutely HATE.  It’s the hot mess below.

It was one of the first videos I did, and I am now on the last page, but couldn’t finish the journal without re-doing this page.  And wait until you see how it looks now.  I’m no longer embarrassed about it, and am actually pretty proud of it.  Now all I have to do is the back cover, and my work here is done.  I promised a friend that I would send it to her (she wanted to buy it, but I’ve never considered the things I’ve made worth buying, so promised it was hers.)  I was tickled that she wanted to buy it…but seriously, with that hot mess in there, it was definitely a freebie…..and I know the technique I replaced the hot mess was one she really liked, so I hope I get it to her before the video of the replacement goes live…It’s going to be a sweet surprise for her.

I also started working on the album I’m making our great niece.  I wanted to make it for her for her freshman year, but missed that boat, so hoping to get it to her before her sophomore year begins.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be for the kids in college today, not knowing what’s happening with classes, and not seeing their friends.  I loved my college experience.  It was the best four years of my life, and I feel so sad that kids are missing it…even the half semester they’ve already missed…it’s just such a shame.

I’m trying to make sure there are lots of spots for photos, and different pages for holidays etc.  It will be fun trying to find all of the things I want to include in her album.  I’ve already worked on little bits and pieces of it, and now it’s time to really get serious about it.  The album is constructed, now all it will take is the decorating, and if you’ve ever made an album, you know decorating is the hardest part..

Turning a Passport Cover into a Credit Card Wallet

I was asked by a viewer to turn the passport cover I received from (link) into a credit card holder.

The paper I used was from Love Nicole called Medallion Wallpaper and is 12″ x 12″ paper pad…Love Nicole was an AC Moore brand, and they’ve been sold to Michaels, so unless you find this paper on ebay or etsy, I doubt you’ll find it.

Start with two pieces of 5 1/8″ tall x 7 1/2″ wide score on the 7 1/2″ length at 3 3/4″. Score on the reverse of the paper you want showing.  To make this easier, (which I should have done with the first cut, but didn’t) lay the paper with the 5 1/8″ tall facing up, and make marks on the right side of the fold at 1 1/2″, 3″ and 4 1/2″ Then put the paper in your trimmer unfolded, with the marks you made closest to you, then put the mark in the cut line at the 1 1/2″ mark,  cut from a little past 1/8″ to about 1/8″ from the center fold. Then move the paper up in the trimmer about 1/16″ and make another slit the same length, then using scissors, snip the ends so you have an opening for your card. Move the paper to the mark you made at 3″ and repeat what you did at 1 1/2″ and then do the same at 4 1/2″. After you’ve made your snips with the scissors, make sure a credit card will slip in and out of the cuts you’ve made. If they do, go on to gluing it shut. If the slits aren’t long enough, take your scissors and snip a little longer until the card does slide in without a lot of effort. To glue it shut, use tear tape or some other type of non-wet adhesive. Wet glues are a mistake. (and I’m trying to save you from my mistakes.) Run a line of thin tear tape, 1/8″ if you have it, above each of your openings for credit cards and then around the outer edge of the side with the slits cut into it, then remove the backing and carefully close it so there aren’t any gaps.

You’ll need another piece of matching paper that is 7 3/8″ x 5 1/8″ tall scored on the 7 3/8″ length at 3 3/4″. You’ll have one end that is shorter and one longer. Glue the back of the longer piece to the back of the piece you’ve cut slits into with the shorter piece sticking out the left side of what you’ve glued together…Then cut angles off top and bottom of the left piece and slide it into the passport cover. If the cover doesn’t close, cut a little strip off the left edge so it slides into the cover further.

Taking the second piece of cardstock that you cut to 5 1/8″ tall x 7 1/2″ wide score on the  7 1/2″ length at 3 3/4″..cut a notch out of the center of the left edge with a round or oval punch, punching only a portion of the oval or circle. Then place a folded dollar onto the left side where the notch is, and put a line of tear tape below where the dollar is, so the dollar doesn’t go where you can’t reach it. Tear tape the center fold, the top and bottom edges, but don’t close it yet, as we need to add magnets. Put tear tape on the back of the right side of the fold (on the back, so it can be glued to the other papers) and glue it to them. Then add a magnet link: to the top and bottom of the left paper that you cut angles and on the inside of the dollar holder. The magnet in the dollar holder has to be glued to the side with the circle notch, so it doesn’t glue shut the dollar bill holder. Glue the dollar holder closed.

If you want to make the credit card holder for the other side of the passport cover, the papers are the same, but everything is in reverse, as you need to slide it into the right side of the cover, vs the left side. You’ll need the same three pieces of paper, two that are 5 1/8″ tall x 7 1/2″ wide score on the 7 1/2″ length at 3 3/4″ and another that is 7 3/8″ x 5 1/8″ tall scored on the 7 3/8″ length at 3 3/4″. The first 5 1/8″ x 7 1/2″ is now going to be marked at 1 1/2″, 3″ and 4 1/2″ on the left of the fold, then open it and put it in the trimmer and cut like you did before. Once the cards fit inside, put tear tape along the sides and directly above each of the slits. Take backing off tear tape and close this and add tear tape to the back. Take the piece of cardstock that’s 7 3/8″ x 5 1/8″ tall scored on the 7 3/8″ length at 3 3/4″ and glue the longer side to the back of the piece with slits in it, with the shorter side sticking out the right side. Cut the right side top & bottom angles and make sure it fits inside, then add magnets close to the angle cuts you made..(other 1/2 magnets are below) Then take the other 5 1/8″ tall x 7 1/2″ wide paper, score on the 7 1/2″ length at 3 3/4″ glue the left side to the other papers and cut a notch in the center of the right side with a circle/oval punch, then lay a bill inside and put a line of tear tape below the bill, on the center and on the top and bottom, then add the other half of magnets to the right side where you laid the bill (make sure the magnet’s glued to the side with the center notch).

Add ribbon under the inside flaps of the passport cover and tear tape it under the flaps, making sure it’s long enough to tie in a bow.

How to Fix Freezer Jam that Won’t Set, Without Adding More Sure-Jell

I made two batches of freezer jam using Sure Jell, and neither batch got thick, so I found this solution .

Using corn starch as the thickening agent….

I used: 3 cups of runny jam

2 Tablespoon corn starch liquefied in 2 Tablespoon cold water— I try to use any runny jam left in the freezer containers to replace the water, as it’s flavor that is left behind after dumping the jam into your measuring bowl. Mix with a fork to ensure you’ve removed all lumps…and make sure you only use COLD water, as warm water causes issues.

Note: I started with 2 tablespoons of corn starch, because you don’t want to start with too much, as the amount needed may vary based on how humid it is where you are, and how hot. I didn’t want to ruin anyone else’s jam, so as I do this, I continue to add corn starch and cold water until it thickens to the degree I want. My jam didn’t get thick enough with the initial corn starch, so I added another 1 1/2 teaspoon corn starch and the same amount of cold water.  Even with the additional corn starch,  your jam still isn’t thick enough, add another small amount of corn starch mixed in cold water until you get to the desired consistency (once it’s boiling–corn starch doesn’t get to it’s full potential until it’s boiled…)

Note: I started with two batches of jam with Sure Jell in them, and combined them into four or five batches when adding corn starch, as it was a lot easier to boil in smaller batches. I used a 2 qt sauce pan on medium heat, stirring constantly..Once it starts to boil, add the corn starch mixture and continue stirring. If you don’t notice it getting thick once it’s at a full rolling boil (boiling even while you are stirring), you’ll want to add more corn starch/cold water. Take your pan off of the heat while you’re preparing more corn starch. Put the pan back on the heat and add your corn starch mixture. I always use a fork to make sure I get rid any lumps, and you must use COLD water, as warm water will give you lumps too..

After adding corn starch, if you have a batch that’s overly thick, remove about 1/3 of the thick jam from its freezer container, and put that back into your sauce pan, and when that batch gets a little thick, take your ladle and add the 1/3 back to your freezer container, mixing it in so the whole container is the same thickness.

I use a wood spurtle to stir the jam (I recommend any material that’s not metal for the utensil you use to stir with–metal gets hot) a ladle to skim any foam off and a small bowl to put the foam in a plate to house my utensils while stirring the hot jam (as this can make a big mess and the plate will hold any jam left on your ladle a funnel used in canning Freezer safe containers for the hot jam…don’t wait until your jam is cool to put it into freezer safe containers, as it will difficult (or in frank terms, a nightmare) to remove once it’s cooled.

After putting the jam in freezer containers, wait until it has reached room temperature, then put into the freezer.  I put one container in my refrigerator and showed the results after about 10 days…Here are the notes I thought you might want to consider before trying corn starch to thicken your freezer jam.

End results to consider:

1. I found my jam to be nice and thick, but had a slight “skin” on top of some of the containers. It’s easy to stir the skin into the jam and it doesn’t cause any issues by leaving it there, but I wanted to make sure you knew it might happen to your jam.

2. The jam has a more starchy consistency and taste. It’s not significant, but I wanted to make sure I noted it.

3. My jam seems like it’s more tart once I added the corn starch, and if you don’t like a tart jam, you might want to add more sugar when you are heating it (and before you add the corn starch), as the sugar needs to be completely dissolved before adding the corn starch.

I’m happy with the end result, and if you think you can handle the three points I mention above, you might want to try this remedy for runny freezer jam…


I hate it when I forget to write in the blog…Geez…Sorry about that.  Let’s start by talking about the evening of the 4th of July.  There’s a church about 1/2 mile from us that had fireworks, and it sounded like they were in our backyard, they were SO loud.  Honey lost her mind, so we spent the evening in the basement with the door shut, and we don’t have windows in the “man room” part of our basement, so she doesn’t see the flashes of light (that also upset her.)  If you’ve never seen our basement video, here’s the link.  I tell some funny stories about how some of the basement components came to be, including one involving sugar packets and our contractor..Let’s just say, that poor guy put up with a lot from me.

We went to bed around midnight, and then our neighbors decided that was the perfect time to start setting off fireworks, so Rich and Honey headed back to the basement..It was a tough night.

On the 5th, we spent the day with our close friends at their house.  We’d intended to spend he 4th with them, but I’ve been having an issue with nerves in my elbow, shooting what feels like electric shock to my hands, and the night before the 4th, I couldn’t sleep, as every time I moved, my arm would send a shock to my hand, and I’d wake.  It wasn’t the greatest, but when you have RA, these things happen.

It was a nice relaxing day, and it’s always nice to spend time with good friends…We got home around 7PM and the dogs were ecstatic to see us, as they don’t normally spend very much time alone, and this was a long day without us.

I spent the 6th mostly reading.  I’m enjoying a series of books by Nick Petrie, featuring Peter Ash.  If you’ve ever read the Jack Reacher series, these books have a similar feel to them.  I really enjoy them, and can spend a lot of time reading, and during the quarantine, read a lot.  I haven’t been reading as much this summer, but when I can, I can get lost in books.

I had an appointment with an oral surgeon yesterday.  I have a hole in the side of my tongue from two things.  First, there was a tooth that rubbed my tongue, and second, I have a dry mouth from arthritis.  The dry mouth made it so every time my tooth rubbed the tongue, there was nothing wet to help, so the hole was created.  I went to the oral surgeon right before quarantine, and he ground the tooth so it no longer would rub as much.  It felt a lot better, but he warned that tongues are really hard to heal.  So here we are, four months later, and it doesn’t look much better.  He said he could take a biopsy to make sure there’s nothing wrong, but he’s had tongue biopsy’s take years to heal.  No thanks.  This hole is bad enough.  He also said that sometimes hole from the biopsy rips open..Yikes…..He said it didn’t look cancerous, just worried that it hasn’t healed.  He knows I take prednisone, which is tough on healing, and gave me a prescription for a medicine that I swish around that aids in healing.  I’m really hoping that helps, as I’m not up for the whole biopsy route.

I played in my craft room, which is threatening to get me on the show “Hoarders.”  It’s SO bad right now, and I just don’t have it in me to figure out how to beat it into submission.  I can’t describe how terrible it is, I just let it get out of control.  I have been wanting to finish the art journal I made from a children’s book, and so I did a two page spread in that, and then decided I’d do the back page with my gelli plate.  But when I pulled the gelli plate out of its packaging, it appeared to have tiny hairs on it.  It didn’t have them on it when I actually removed it from the packaging, I just thought it did.  It acquired those hairs from the overhead fan and the big dog I had laying behind me.  Her tiny hairs swirl invisibly around me, and landed on the gelli plate and stuck there.  I had to spend the rest of the evening cleaning, re-cleaning, then watching YouTube videos on how to clean it.  The answer (I haven’t tried it yet,) is packing tape.  You cover the gelli plate with packing tape, really rub it onto the plate, and then tear it off, and it’s supposed to take everything that’s on the plate, with it.  I really hope this works, as regular washing didn’t take them off.  I believe this issue is that these hairs are really fine and hard to see until you look closely at the plate.  Then you can’t tell if they are on the side of the plate facing you, or on the other side.  It’s so frustrating, and I really hope the tape works, because I’m out of ideas if it doesn’t.

I gave Rich two memory cards and at least five or six videos to upload.  I apologize for the gap between videos, and hope he’ll be posting a bunch of them soon.  I have some fun ideas and hope you enjoy them.






I watched this video, and thought maybe others might be inspired by it as well.  It’s actor Sam Elliott (unforgettable voice from most notably, “A Star is Born”,) paying tribute to one of the Americans who came ashore at Normandy.

It’s a really moving tribute to the men of that generation, and a perfect video to think about on this day of our country’s independence.

I realize that I’m older and out of step with today’s reality, but hope you’ll understand when I say that I love this country, with all of its warts, and understand that our history  defines us.

I can’t listen to the National Anthem without crying, and I don’t know why, maybe because it’s talking about with the “bombs bursting in air,” and “our flag was still there,” in wartime.   I listened to the telling of that day on Normandy Beach, and I think about the men and women who have put their lives at dire risk so our flag is still here.  And although it’s every American’s right to kneel before the flag, I would never consider doing it, as it would be dishonoring those who have lost their lives in service of the flag and the Anthem.

I am hoping that whoever reads this understands that this is only my opinion, and on this day when we celebrate our Independence, we take a minute to reflect on what it’s cost, in terms of those who’ve come before us, to be Americans.

Alternate Framing Look for Round Diamond Painting Kits

I wasn’t crazy about the way the Mother Mary diamond painting frame looked once hanging on a wall.  Frankly, I thought it looked outdated, and I wanted a more modern look for my sister’s image.  I thought about the options, and decided on this approach.

Here’s what it should have looked like if I used everything that comes in the kit.

The Mother Mary diamond painting came from and here’s a link to it. Link:

I first cut the image on the lines provided so it fits perfectly onto the styrofoam-type backing provided with the kit. I added a lot of lines of double sided tape to the back of the image and laid Mother Mary centered on the strofoam-backing and rubbed it with the side of my hand to ensure it is well adhered, and there are no bubbles in the image.  I  took the plexiglass provided, cleaned it, then laid it over Mary, and laid the black frame  (that also comes with the kit) over all of it. To get them to stay adhered, instead of using the tassel hanger that comes in the kit, I used hot glue. Laying Mary so she facing down, pushed the back as hard as I could, to get the styrofoam backing inside the frame, then squirted hot glue all along the inside back edge of the frame to hold it in place. I inserted one pin with a pearl top into the top and one into the bottom to ensure the hot glue didn’t seep out of the back of the frame as it dried.  (The pins hold the styrofoam in place at the top and bottom, but aren’t sufficient to hold the entire image so it is tight against the plexiglass.  You don’t need to leave the pearl pins, but I thought they were pretty, and not very noticeable, so I left them in place. Then I added a picture hanger to the back of the image, and my framing was complete.  I used a hanger that looks like this, that should hold her on the wall, as she isn’t very heavy.  10PCS Self Adhesive Wall Hooks Hangers Heavy Duty Wall Hanger ...


I showed the topper I made for my glue bottle and if anyone wants to see me make one, leave it in the comments below the video, or leave a comment here, and I’d be happy to show you how I did it…I’ve lost so many needles that I had to come up with a solution that worked for me..

Comparing 2020 Blending Tools to the 2019 Model

We’re comparing last year’s vs. this year’s new blending tools.

Gold Handled brushes from 2019:

Aliexpress link: Cost per brush: $1.43 + .73 shipping (from China)

Ebay link: Cost per brush $1.46 (you can make an offer, so might be able to buy if for a little bit less)…still comes from China, though

Amazon link: $2.59 + .99 shipping (from China)

Mushroom Shape Foam Blenders (I apologize that I refer to them throughout the video as a foam brush.)

Aliexpress link: Costs have risen since I bought these blenders, and they are now between $1.24 and $1.34 each, depending on the color of the foam. (from China)

Ebay link: The price varies..if you buy one, it’s $1.43, and if you buy two, the price drops to $1.40, and if you buy three, the price drops to $1.37 (from China)

Large Black, Flat Head Blending Brush

Aliexpress link: The cost has risen since I bought mine, and they are now $4,02 each. I paid $1.88 when I bought mine (from China)

Ebay link: Cost $3.50 for one, $3.40 for two and $3..30 for three. (from China)

Amazon: Cost, $9.00 but overall best price on Amazon, as you get a set of four tools, but only one is the blending brush I use in the video....This is also the only product I’ve found that comes from Amazon Prime, so you can have it in as little as two days.

Inks Used:

Wendy Vecchi Blendable Die Ink (Poppy color) Link: Price $3.79 from + shipping

Wendy Vecchi Poppy Ink Link: link: Price $3.99 plus shipping

Ranger Distress Ink (Picked Raspberry) link: Price $5.69 plus shipping link: Price $5.99 plus shipping link: AmazoPrice (on sale now) $4.19 plus shipping

Amazon Prime link: Price: $6.18

Papers Used:

Canson XL Watercolor Paper Link: Walmart, Cost $5.97 (online)

Michaels Recollections Heavyweight Cardstock link: Cost $15.99 (use a coupon to get the price around $10 per pad)

Neenah Solar White Classic Crest 80lb. (Sorry I didn’t give the correct information in the video about the name or weight of this paper) Link on Amazon: Price $32.34

Walmart’s brand Pen Gear link: Price $5.92

Results from each tool:

Best Performance using the 2019 Gold Toned Blending brush: I still really like this tool and recommend it much more highly than the black handled similar looking tools…You need to buy separate brushes for dye based inks and oxide/pigment inks, and if you don’t want to clean them in between uses, I suggest you buy one for every color family, for example: red/orange, pink, purple, green, yellow, blue, gray/black, browns…in the end, you might decide you don’t blend much with some of these colors, so could buy 5 for dye inks and 5 for Oxide and pigment inks, for a total of 10 brushes. Please be sure to label them for either dye or oxide inks so you don’t confuse yourself and not be able to continue using a brush for what you’d intended.

With Wendy Vecchi Blending Ink in Poppy:                                                                     Neenah Classic Crest Solar White 80 Lb.                                                                          Canson XL Watercolor Paper

With Distress Oxide ink in Picked Raspberry:                                                                Walmart’s Pen Gear                                                                                                                      Canson XL Watercolor Paper

Best Performance with the Mushroom Shaped Foam Tool: Note, this is a foam tool, and worked much differently than the other tools. If I would offer a suggestion, it would be to skip buying these, as I don’t think they bring much to the table in the way of blending.

With Wendy Vecchi blending ink in Poppy:                                                                        Canson XL Watercolor                                                                                                                    Pen Gear from Walmart

With Distress Oxide in Picked Raspberry:                                                                                    Canson XL Watercolor                                                                                                                  Michaels Recollection Heavyweight

Best Performance with the Large Black Flat Head Brush: This gives a lighter blend than the other tools. To clean this, you’re supposed to simply wipe it on a cloth, but I found it required a little cleanser and a rinse instead. I recommend you buy two of these tools…one for Oxide and Pigment inks and one for Dye based inks.

With Wendy Vecchi Blending Ink in Poppy:                                                                      Canson XL Watercolor                                                                                                                Michaels Recollections Heavyweight

With Distress Oxide in Picked Raspberry:                                                                      Canson XL Watercolor                                                                                                              Michaels Recollection Heavyweight

I hope this helped you to decide if you need a new blending tool, and if so, do you like the paper you’re currently blending on. 


Yesterday I fixed the jam!!!  I watched a bunch of videos on how to fix runny jam, and read every Google article I could find, and all of them said I should buy more Sure Jell, and if everything works well, it will get thicker, but not as thick as it normally would…Seriously? I spend another almost $6 for more Sure Jell, plus you add a lot more sugar, and you still might not have jam?  I was so disgusted, and called my sister whose made strawberry jam from, wait for it, green tomatoes and strawberry Jello.  She said you would not know the difference…Yikes…..Can’t begin to tell you how unpleasant I thought that sounded.  But, we started talking about thickeners, and she suggested I just add a box of strawberry Jellow to my jam, but again, that adds a lot more sugar and I wasn’t sure I’d want an overly strawberry tasting jam….That probably sounds odd to you, but when you think about anything you eat…If it’s too strong with one flavor, it can be gross, and after I’ve invested this much time into this jam, I wanted it to taste good.

We continued our discussion, and she said, “How about corn starch?”  Genius!!!  I know it doesn’t add any additional flavor and no additional sugar, so thought I’d give it a whirl.  I spent most of the afternoon, fixing the runny jam, and decided to video the affair.  I figured if I needed the help and couldn’t find it, someone else might benefit from it as well.

I’m happy to say that my jam is now thick and in the refrigerator…Life is good again.

Today I had my annual physical…and we all look forward to that.  You know when you walk in and the first thing they do is weigh you?  Geez….my Corona chubby is clearly not going away.  Darn it…The appointment was fine, and to top off my day, we went to Walmart to run some errands.  I know it sounds like I’m making a big deal out of going to Walmart, and I am.  We have not stepped foot inside any Walmart since the beginning of February, when we left for vacation..When we came back a week later, the world was focused on the cruise ship off the coast of Japan whose passengers had been diagnosed with something called Corona virus….We had no idea what it meant, and we so glad it was on the other side of the world from us, so we didn’t truly need to worry about it, or so we thought.  Little did we know that we’d spend the next few months, quarantined, with thoughts of little else beside the Corona virus, whose name changed to COVID-19.

As soon as we knew the virus was in PA, we decided the worst place to go for masks and social distancing would be our Walmart, so we just stopped going.  Today was our first visit, and I was surprised how some shelves were empty, things you wouldn’t think would be something people would hoard.  Like bars of soap and vacuum cleaners, and paper plates….I expected a shortage of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, but the hand sanitizer people have wised up and are now charging a lot of money for hand sanitizer…It’s ridiculous the lengths people will go to, to make money.  I heard of a couple of people who bought $17,000 worth of Dollar Tree hand sanitizers and were selling them for $35 each.  Thankfully, they were caught and shut down, but probably not before they made their investment back (and maybe a lot more.)  So now you pay $9 at Walmart for “premium” hand sanitizer, that’s ridiculous….isn’t that a little like the people who bought the sanitizer from the Dollar Tree and resold them for $35 each?  It’s still price gouging….and with Walmart remaining open throughout the quarantine, it’s not like they need the money…It just bugs me when they can’t just sell a necessity item like hand sanitizers at a reasonable price.  I realize people can use soap, but if you have a family and go anywhere (other than your home,) you’d want to be able to clean all of their hands, so hand sanitizer becomes a necessity..and $9 a bottle is highway robbery for people who are out of work and still trying to make ends meet during this outbreak….I’m getting off my soap box, and I’m sure, for all of you it wasn’t soon enough.



Yesterday was all about strawberries.  I wanted to make jam, and although we live in a rural area, have no place within twenty-five miles that sells local strawberries.  I knew they normally sell them twenty-five miles away, so we got in the car and were on the hunt for them.  We found a farm that used to produce Troyer Farm Potato Chips, but stopped maybe ten or fifteen years ago, and now, they use a portion of their property for strawberries…..Unfortunately, the sign said “U-Pick,” which Rich was completely opposed to….I asked him to drive up to the building and ask if they had any already picked that we could buy and they had just run out, (darn it!) so the only option was to pick our own.  Oh, and we followed a detour that took us ten miles out of our way, only to figure out that we missed the “real” detour, and had to double back….so there was no way we were going to drive around to find another strawberry farm.  We got out of the car, and the workers explained the picking system (little did I know there’s a system that involves flags…you start where the flag is and take the flag with you, then plant it where you stop, so they know exactly what parts of the fields have been picked.) Let’s just say the flag system is genius, and within ten minutes…count them, ten minutes, Rich had picked four quarts of strawberries.  I originally was helping, but the way their fields are set up, they mound the strawberry plants and then there’s a small trench on either side..The trench is filled with hay, so you can’t see any uneven areas, so it was hard for me to navigate.  Rich was worried I’d fall, so sent me back to the car…(and frankly, it was much faster going without me slowing him down.)

We went out to dinner and as soon as we got home, I made two batches of jam.  I make freezer jam that should be perfect every time, but somehow, this time, it didn’t seem to get thick….I read online that if it doesn’t get thick in two weeks, I should take it out and put it in a pot and boil it to thicken it.  I really followed the directions, so am not sure exactly what I did wrong…and when both batches didn’t firm up….not sure what the problem was.  I know if you buy old pectin, it won’t work, but I just bought mine, and I used a timer for boiling time and stirring time, and tried to be completely accurate with my measurements, but still, runny jam…Darn it….

Today we met our close friends at a local spot that is unique to our area.  It’s called the Spillway at Pymatuning Lake.  This video says it all.  It’s a spot in a large lake where you are allowed to feed bread to Canadian Geese and Carp.  Carp are large fish that look like really ugly Koi fish….there seem to be a million of them, and feeding them is a lot of fun, as they all shove each other out of the way for bread, and they are BIG..It’s kind of gross to watch, but you can’t take your eyes off of them.. You need to watch the video, as my words don’t do this justice.  Any way, our friends and Rich are from a larger city, Youngstown, Ohio.  They’d never seen anything like it, and when Rich and I were in college, I took him there for the first time and he was mesmerized.  This is the second time we’ve taken our friends there, and they love watching the display like we do.

Our friends brought a lunch and we brought a lunch, so we social distanced food, and then we both brought desserts that could be eaten without touching each others food.  Of course, I brought a big bag of kettle chips, because what’s lunch without chips?  And then I realized I forgot to bring bread to feed the fish. How dumb was that?  There used to be a shed that sold bread about a mile from the fish, but our friends drove in that way and said it wasn’t open….so no bread…bummer.  We brought subs, and I didn’t eat half of mine so we’d have a little bread to feed them, and that was enough to make us all happy.  We got a big laugh out of an entire loaf (in the bag) of bread that fell into the lake..The carp were trying really hard to open the bag, but sadly, the bag won and the carp were still working at getting inside when we left.  It was a nice day and great to see friends during social distancing.