Holiday Wishes

These last few weeks have been a blur. It's busy at Firefly Fibers year round, but even more so once the weather cools. With the addition of the holiday season, busy is an understatement and it's really been a blur since Thanksgiving. I spent a fair amount of time brainstorming handmade gift ideas - initially I had grand knitting visions and then reality set in and reluctantly, I adjusted. Being that I didn't have a chance to get started on holiday gifts until this last Sunday (yes, 3 days ago and today is Christmas Day), I'm happy to say that I am done and really have enjoyed the last few days at home.


Plans quickly shifted last week from handmade yarn projects to homemade canning projects due to the time constraints - no need to worry, yarn has been assembled into various projects, but I can't divulge details... yet. As for the canning, I went a little cranberry crazy.


I love cranberries! Every year I make cranberry relish in a huge batch when cranberries are in season and freeze for year round enjoyment. I also love the Food In Jars blog and was intrigued when a simple recipe came up last month for Spiced Cranberry Jam. Then, right at the bottom of the post before the recipe was a link to her Pickled Cranberries. After admitting that the gifting plans had to be adjusted, this is what I went back to. And rather than torment myself with having to choose one of the two recipes, I decided both were going on the holiday 'to do' list - in double-batch quantities, of course. 


It felt a little like I was going off the deep end as it was happening, but I couldn't help myself. If one batch was what the recipe called for, it only made 'sense' that I get enough for a double-batch and double-batch I did. After the initial 11 - 12oz bags and a second trip for 3 more, we were set! Really, who wouldn't be set with 10+ lbs of cranberries? I'm now brimming with pride as I see the jars lined up and know I only went a little crazy.


The jam was super easy! After sorting and washing 6 lbs of cranberries, I removed the rind from the lemons and oranges with a veggie peeler, juiced them, added ginger root and let the food processor take care of the 'zesting' for me.Super easy and the finished product is delicious - we enjoyed some last night with cream cheese on crackers!


The pickled cranberries were also easy and I can't wait to try them - they have to set for 24 hours before enjoying to let the flavors do their thing. How am I going to wait that long?!

We finished tying up loose ends last night and we'll hit the road to head north for Christmas with hubby's Grandma this morning. Then Sunday we'll be off to his mom's for a second gathering. Both are sure to be enjoyable and relaxing. I'll report back soon on the feedback on the cranberry concoctions and the other holiday bits I can't reveal quite yet.

Warm holiday wishes to you and yours! Alisa

Homemade is Best

As many do this time of year, we spent Easter with our family this last weekend. Our car trip took us to northern Wisconsin for a small gathering with my hubby's lovely family. The visit was complete with smart talking, delicious food and some education for this lady.

Each year at Christmas my husband's aunt and uncle gift us homemade maple syrup and I always ration it to make it last as long as possible because it is fabulous! As luck would have it, our recent visit had us there while the maple syrup'ing was in progress. I might have been just a little excited about this because I've never seen this in 'real life'.

After eating and getting a couple rows knit on the yellow sweater, we took a tour outside to see things up close. There were numerous trees tapped to collect sap and all were donning these fancy accessories.


If you look closely, you can see the clear sap in the bottom. Hubby tasted it and didn't seem too impressed so I decided against trying it myself.


I discovered that the next part involves lawn chairs and a fair amount of beer. Who knew?!


Once the sap is collected, it's slowly cooked down here over the next 2 days - 40 gallons of sap will yield about 1 gallon of syrup. The cooker was covered with plywood since it had been raining recently, so just use your imagination and pretend that's not there.


When it's almost at the right consistency, the syrup is taken inside for the last little bit of cooking on the kitchen stove. Then it's bottled: image

Store bought maple syrup is no comparison to this golden goodness and I appreciate it even more now. Many thanks to Darla and Bill!

On our way back to the house after our tour of the maple syrup operation, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that spring is trying hard to make an entrance up north with little bits of green peeking up through the ground.


I was even more surprised to see an actual flower emerging!image

Happy spring!

Gift Finish Line

It's the morning of Christmas Eve and I'm finishing up the last of our handmade gifts. I've posted photos of yarn for gifts 1-3 and here's 4-7:





This last week has been a lot of knitting for me and I'm exited to be  wrapping it up. We had our first Christmas yesterday and the smiling faces make it all worthwhile. I'm looking forward to all gifts being completed and gifted so I can share the details of what was made.

With needles in hand, this morning I'm clicking away on #7 with the hope of being done by noon today.