Surprises Come In Many Forms!

Surprises come in all forms, and I’ve experienced many just recently.

The three different jalapeño jellies I made.  “Grinch Glob,” (green in color and the hottest) “Cranberry Christmas Jam”  (mild heat) and “Holly Jolly Jelly” (medium heat).

Surprise # 1

Most notably for me, someone who is pretty much clueless when it comes to technology, the change on my website.  I didn’t create a new post for, like ……….. 3 weeks, and they change the format (Is that what it’s called?) without asking me first?

Introducing, Moose, the newest addition to our family.  My daughter and her fiancé rescued him just after they moved into their new house.  They decided to take him in when they found him wandering the back roads near their homestead.  Moose was quite the surprise, and such a sweetie.

Not cool!  I’m an “old dog” ya know, and not very well versed in “new tricks.”  Just when I was becoming an expert on my own site, it seems as if they changed EVERYTHING.  🙁    

I’ve been working on this post, for what seems like, forever because I am having trouble navigating the changes. “Aggravated” doesn’t fully describe my frame of mind but, a few choice words come to that same mind. 🙂

And …….. I can’t find the “Spell Check” button. Argggg!

It’s going to take me awhile.  Patience, Katy ………… 

Surprise # 2

I would have preferred to spend last weekend in my new favorite t-shirt, (compliments of my friend, Trudy), curled up on the chaise with a hot beverage, eating (not baking – explanation forthcoming), Christmas cookies and watching my favorite channel but, ahhhhh, it was not in the cards for me.

 If you have been following me, you know that my favorite channel, especially this time of year, is the Hallmark channel.  Both the regular channel and the mystery channel!

I have a friend, Trudy, that lives in Ohio, who also loves the Hallmark Channel and, although we don’t see each other very often, when we get together it’s like we’ve never been apart.  

Trudy and I met, and became fast friends, when our daughters ice skated competitively for the Oxford Ice Crystals.  It was a club consisting of multiple levels of synchronized skating teams, which their home base was the rink on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Last year, Trudy and I met at Roscoes for coffee and then headed to the park to walk.  One of the things we have in common is our love of exercise and staying fit.  When our daughters had skating practice, we always hit the streets to power walk.  We also tried to scheduled their skating lessons at the same time so we could dump those kids at the rink and get our “sweat on!”  It was great fun.

Trudy and I spent many hours together over the course of 11 years.  We probably spent most of those years discussing the Hallmark Channel programming.  I’m just kidding of course, however, we both share the same obsession.

Out of the blue, with no warning, this showed up in in my mailbox.  🙂

The t-shirt with Trudy's Christmas card on top of it.
My new favorite t-shirt Trudy sent me. It says, “All I want to do is bake cookies, drink hot chocolate and watch the Hallmark Channel.”

Love me some Trudy. 

Surprise # 3

Poo and I spent last weekend running errands and making sure I had all of the supplies needed for our annual hot pepper jelly canning event.  This year was quite the success, I might add.

You might remember from my “How Do You Use Your Jalapeños?” post, I stated that I wanted to grow red peppers in my garden this year so I could make Red Jalapeno Jelly.  The last several years I have been making Green Jalapeno Jelly and although it’s been very good, I thought the red would be more festive to give away for the holidays.

These are the three varieties of red jalapeno peppers I grew in my garden this summer, which I used to make the jelly.

In the spring, I planted a total of 13 pepper plants, four of which were green and, in all, I had four different varieties.  Two of the green pepper plants and one red pepper plant succumbed to summer related elements but, because I planted so many, I still reaped the rewards.

Those rewards were huge.  Over two gallons of rewards!

We started the canning process on Sunday afternoon about 1:00 and six hours later we had canned 57 jars of various pepper jelly.  All but 7 jars were the, ohhh so pretty, color of red.  The other seven jars were green in color.

I say “we” because I could not have managed to can that many jars without the help of Poo. While I was preparing the next batch of jelly and getting them in the jars, he is presiding over the canning process. It goes so much faster with his help.

57 jars later ……..

Working at such a brisk pace, and four batches later, I suddenly realized I hadn’t made any medium or mild heat jelly.  I was mixing up the batches with such enthusiasm that I forgot to take the seeds out of the peppers.  But ……… what the heck ……….. hot pepper jelly is supposed to be just that, HOT.  Right?  

After I had used up all of the red peppers, I decided to keep going and make a batch of Green Jalapeño Jelly.  I figured, at that point, if I went to all the trouble of canning and making such a big mess, I might as well do it all at once, and if we had started earlier in the day, I would have canned more jars.

Holy Moly, what a mess!

After I cleaned up the kitchen and had everything put away, I found this hiding in the very back of my freezer ……………

Another 1/2 gallon of red jalapeno peppers spotted in the back.  Yesssssss!


But, the real surprise of the day was something I tried “off the cuff.”  

I’m calling it, “Cranberry Christmas Jam.”  It’s the perfect blend of cranberry flavor with just the right amount of heat.  Neither ingredient overpowering the other. You first taste the burst of cranberry and, then comes the heat. Perfect.

Isn’t it the most vibrant color of red you’ve ever seen?

It really is fantastic, as is, right out of the jar. Yep, just a spoon and your mouth. However, try it on toast, turkey sliders, or any sliders for that matter. Or with cream cheese and crackers.

My creative experiment came about because of a recipe I found on Pinterest about two years ago, and although it was good, it really didn’t deliver the balanced blend of the two major ingredients.  My brother, Dan, told me it was really good but not quite hot enough.  He was right, it wasn’t noteworthy.

The batch I made filled 9 – half pint jars and there was just a little left over for taste testing. Omgosh ………. so very yummy!

This one is …………. I promise.

Cranberry Christmas Jam


  • 6  c.   fresh cranberries  (2 small bags)
  • 12 oz. red jalapeños, seeded
  • juice from 2 limes or 1 healthy squeeze of key lime juice
  • 1  c. water
  • 1  c. apple cider vinegar
  • 4  c. sugar
  • 2 pouches of liquid pectin

Prepare approximately 9 – 1/2 pint jars and lids according to canning directions.  (You will prepare this recipe much like my jalapeno jelly recipe)    In batches, blend cranberries, peppers, water and apple cider.  Put blended mixture in a pan, on the stove and add sugar.  Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add pectin and return to boil.  Boil hard for 1 more minute.  Remove from heat and ladle into jars as directed.  Process for 10 minutes in boiling water, as you would other jellies.

“If the lid fits, Can it!”

xoxo, Katy