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Fireweed Jelly

I recently made a YouTube video about fireweed titled Fireweed Jelly, how to pick it, and then how to make the jelly. Here are the written instructions to go along with the video. These instructions are more specific than the video, as I had a larger quantity of fireweed. I also tend to wing things quite regularly. The fireweed jelly turned out great though, but here are the basic instructions.

8 cups fireweed blossoms – not packed in tight, but not just loosely thrown in either.

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 1/2 to 5 cups water

2 packages Sure Jell or other pectin

5 cups of sugar

Pick, wash and measure 8 cups of blossoms. Place in a large pot and add the water and lemon juice. Boil 10 minutes and strain the blossoms out of the juice. Rinse out the pan and return the juice to the pan. Juice should be a very purple color, if not, you need more blossoms.

Add the pectin to the juice and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar all at once and bring back to a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat and fill clean, sterile jars. Place in hot water canner and boil for 10 minutes ensure seal. Remove from canner and leave to cool overnight. Check seals to make sure they have sealed. Label and store in a cool, dark, dry location.

One note – I don’t like to use the full 2 packages of Sure Jell as it makes the jelly set up fairly hard, to the point of tearing fresh bread rather than spreading on top. After you make the first recipe, you can start to adjust to your liking and consistency.

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Break

This week I tried a number of new workouts. I used to pay for a subscription to Beach Body, but I have found that YouTube has so many free workout videos that are just as good (if you need something new it’s a great place to look). By about Wednesday I could tell they were all new workout however because I was starting to get a little bit sore in a few places. It’s a good sore, but I started thinking again about breaking down in order to build stronger. Creating a strong body is a process of working the muscles to the point of fatigue so that they get the idea they need to build back stronger, as the muscles build back stronger, the bones also begin strengthening so that they can withstand the pressures of the added muscle. It’s a great process, and helps us see the reasoning behind hard things in life as well.

As I pondered upon this concept this morning again, I was thinking about personal struggles throughout my life, and a couple this week. Nothing huge or momentous, just things I have to work through sometimes. It’s not fun to go through hard times, but as I look back at where I began, I see so much growth and strength from those struggles. If I hadn’t gone through those incremental struggles all along the way, that seemed really hard at the time, I may not be able to withstand the struggles that cross my path today. Now, there are things that naturally happen in life that I can roll with, that I know how to handle, that 20-year-old me probably would have gotten really overwhelmed with. I am grateful for trials and challenges.

So many times, in life I hear people say that if God were real, He wouldn’t allow this or that to happen. Life is definitely hard. But that’s kind of the point. I’m sure sailing through life without a care in the world might seem like the perfect way to live, but how would you ever know to appreciate that kind of a life if you never experienced anything else? How could I appreciate being physically fit if I never had to struggle to get to that point? There is a purpose to the struggle, and even when we feel sore from the constant struggle, we can appreciate the fact that we are becoming better in some aspect of our lives. It doesn’t always make it easy, but it does give purpose to the struggle, which can help us look at the challenge differently, and not just endure, but endure well.

What are the things I do to help me through challenges? One thing I have learned from the workouts I do is that you can do anything for x number of seconds, or for a minute or a specified timeframe. It’s something I always hear when I work out, and it’s true. When we have a set amount of time, it helps us focus and get the most out of every second because we know it’s not going to last forever. And striving to get something out of the challenge changes the dynamics and makes it easier to endure. But sometimes trials seem to go on and on and on. What helps then? Eternal perspective. We aren’t going to be living in this fallen world forever, and with the next life come healing of all kinds, for everyone. Sometimes just that added personal perspective makes a huge difference in our ability to endure. One thing we read in the scriptures, and often just kind of skip over, but you find it all over the scripture, is the phrase – “And it came to pass…” Everything will eventually come to pass. This is one of the most comforting phrases in the scriptures, and it’s everywhere, because our loving Heavenly Father wants us to know it will all come to pass.

Viewing the hardship as a challenge to be overcome. Often when things get hard, we kind of grit our teeth and just try to endure. But when we start to see things as challenges to be overcome, we open our minds to possibilities. Maybe there is a solution, but we haven’t even thought to look for one because we chose instead to just keep our heads down and deal with it. Sometimes it takes persistent study, gaining more knowledge, things that we haven’t looked for. Challenges in life give us opportunities. I know that pain, hurt, injury, these are the times when I seek answers, when I look for information. I never learned anything about healing tendons until I broke my ankle and sprained all the tendons around my ankle. I never learned anything about eczema and how to treat it until I got it. I knew nothing about anti-inflammatory foods, and how inflammation affects every aspect of our bodies and health until I had to figure out how to reduce inflammation in my own body. And because of the knowledge I have gained in all of these and many other situations, I have been able to help my family through similar trials, feed my family better, and help people around me as they went through similar struggles.

We all have and will go through challenges and hard times. But they don’t have to be unproductive times, and they can not only benefit you over time, but people all around you as well, as you share your experiences and the knowledge you gained through the process.

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Certainty

There is nothing more certain than change. I have recently been thinking a lot about my business, what I want to do with my website, how better to advertise, what exactly I wanted to sell. I love looking for new products and new ways to display art, I love trying them out, but it all costs money. I have been reading about business practices and advertising strategies, as well as continuing to read the book Thinkertoys. As I have pondered, coming up with new creative ideas, a new idea struck me – Simplify.

This past week I have been looking at my stats, what sells, what doesn’t, as well as marketing and advertising ideas and strategies. I have come to the realization that I don’t have a very clear objective when it comes to products. I find something I like, and I just jump in with both feet, adding to everything else I have, but never really looking at the stats, the market, etc. So many different products make it hard to pinpoint one market and advertise. So, this coming week I will begin thinning my products, my website being the beginning of this thinning process. I will still have all the same items I now have for local markets, at least until those items are gone. But I am not going to order new products, and I am going to cut out some of the things I make and do as the items sell out.

So, what am I going to keep? I love painting, and that is what started me out on my business journey. I will still be selling prints and originals of my artwork; however, I will be removing from my website older, less popular pieces. Any prints that I have left of these pieces will be sold at a discounted rate. I will be removing the stickers from my website, although, they sell well locally, and I wholesale stickers to a number of gift shops, so those will continue to be available in person, but no longer on my website. Note Cards are my number one best seller both online as well as in person. Those will continue to be available across the board, however, I am still thinking about the ways I want to sell on my website. We’ll see what inspiration comes as I proceed. Fabric is another great selling item both locally and online, so that will remain on my website as well as sold in as many stores as I can get it in to. I am still trying to figure out the best market for my books. I am not sure if I will keep those on my website or simply try to get them into the bookstore markets. That will be a process all on its own.

I will be adding one component to my website however, and this will go along with my YouTube channel. With many of my videos I have been adding a blog post with written instruction. I feel that it is cumbersome to try finding a single recipe or page of instruction in all of my blog posts, so I will be adding a page for YouTube instructions so that they are easier to find. I will also maintain my YouTube channel button for easy access.

Change is constant, and sometimes uncomfortable. But it is through change that we grow and become better. I am excited about these changes. I don’t look forward to the tedious process of revamping my website, but I do look forward to the finished product, at least for the time being.

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Bio

I hate writing artist bios. But a lot of the shops that I have my work in require them. So, I write them, and I rewrite them, and every chance the shop gives me to modify if I want to, I do so. But I have yet to write one that I like very much. My problem is, I don’t have a lot to say. I know you might be laughing about that, as I usually have a lot to say here, but I don’t have a lot to say about myself. Unlike this quote above, I think that my art should speak for itself, regardless of the artist. But I have been learning, as I learn about good business practices, that people don’t just want to purchase a product, they want the story behind the product as well.

So today, I have spent over an hour sitting at my computer, creating another bio, that is a short paragraph long. As I sit here and ponder, I wonder how much of a difference knowing the artist, the creator, or the backstory of any business is? But then I am reminded of how many businesses I have looked up on the internet to read their backstory, their “About” page. I also look at my stats for my website fairly regularly, and I have noticed that my About page gets more views than any other page on my website. As I have pondered on this today, I have decided it is because we like connection. We are looking for similarities in thought, belief, or experience. When people find that connection, they are more likely not only to purchase a product from you, but to be a repeat customer, as well as pass on your information to others.

Making those connections is important, not just in business. I was reading the news headlines today, which I try to avoid for the most part. But as I was reading, and seeing the divide in our country, I thought about connection. I believe we all have more in common than we may realize, but when we disagree with someone, we cease to look for the connections, the similarities. We see only those things that bother us about someone else. We see this in marriages, in families, in communities, everywhere. Instead of setting aside differences and finding good, we tend to plant our feet and dig in. The other problem is, finding connections requires effort, judging people from a distance requires no effort at all. But finding those connections and finding the similarities, working on the differences in a productive way, those are the things that will heal our nation, will unify us again. It requires communication and actually learning about people.

I think it would be very interesting to be able to read a short bio about everyone we come in contact with, a personal bio, what they have experienced, what they have had to deal with in life that has brought them to the point they are at. Everyone has a story to tell. I would love to hear those stories. Which brings me back to the bios. I guess that it’s about time that I also revisit and rewrite my About page. So, if you’re interested in who I am, at least as a business, I would encourage you to go and check out my About page in a day or two, hopefully I will have it done, or redone by then!

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Dads

Today is Father’s Day! First off, I would like to wish all the dad’s out there who take such great care of their families, as well as new dads, and those struggling dads who never give up, a happy Father’s Day! Dads are so important, and I am grateful to all those dads who show up every day and try hard. Dads and moms together are so important in the lives of children, and having a dad present in a child’s life makes such a huge difference! There are so many statistics that show the importance of dads, but you can research that on your own. Today I would like to tell you about the dads in my life.

First off, my dad. My dad was such a great example to me. He has worked and supported our family all throughout his life, and when he was done at work making money, he came home and continued to work. He kept our home, and still keeps his home in great shape, fixing whatever needs fixing, painting, changing as he and my mom made their home better, etc. He also fixes the cars and keeps them running well. When my daughter went to college, she stayed with them and bought a used car. My dad took care of her car and made sure she was always good to go wherever she needed to go. I was grateful to know he was there and she didn’t need to worry. My dad taught me to enjoy this life, this world, and the many good things in it. He was always exploring and trying new things. He always made sure we got our work done, but when we were done he made sure we went and did fun stuff as well. He loved to go to car shows, and I have loved old cars ever since. I am grateful for his zest for life, and grateful that some of that has rubbed off on me.

My husband – Les. I guess I should start with his dad. His dad did a great job raising him. He taught him the importance of being a dad and taking good care of his family. He taught him many skills that bless our family every day, recently the skill of fixing our cars. My husband gained that love of fixing and tinkering from his dad, and Les has been passing that love on to our boys. Les is a great father. He enjoys spending time with his boys, he is supportive of all of them in their varied interests, even when he doesn’t know much about those interests. I remember when our boys started rock climbing. He wasn’t sure if that was the best fit, but he supported them. He has been to many competitions, learned about the sport, and gives them ideas as he watches, and cheers them on, just as he has always cheered all our children on in their endeavors. He has taught our kids to work over the years, it didn’t matter if it was daughters or sons, they all learned how to work. When our oldest daughter broke the side mirror off one of our cars, she was out helping repair it, when we haul wood, everyone works. He has even taught our daughters how to run chainsaws, not because they have to do it every time we cut wood, but because it’s a good life skill to have. I am grateful for his desire to be fulfill his responsibility as father, and for the great job that he does.

My Heavenly Father. We knew our Heavenly Father before we came to this earth, but we had to forget to be here. But even though forgetting was part of the deal, at least initially, I know that coming to know Him again while we are here is all part of His plan. I am grateful that He remembers me, that He knows me, and that no matter what, He has my best interest at heart. I am grateful that over the years I have been able to get to know Him again, and that He extends tender mercies to me on a daily basis. And even though I may not be able to see Him, I can feel His love for me in so many different ways. I know that He loves me and that He is interested and a part of the details of my life. I will end with this quote. This quote is in my bathroom for my kids to read every day, because I want them to know who they are, where they came from, and where they should be striving to go. I am grateful for Father’s, and especially the ones who have influenced my life. Happy Father’s Day!