My Grown-Up Christmas

Driving home just now, Michael Bublé’s Grown-Up Christmas List came on, and I burst into tears. That song has always gotten to me. A few years ago, I discovered it while making a slideshow for my parents, and I came across this photo:

Jen Christmas 1980

Something about pairing the two, even just in my head, now, makes the tears start flowing. It’s something in that first line: Do you remember me? I sat upon your knee. I spoke to you of childhood fantasies. That little girl? She loves her parents completely. She depends on them for everything she has and needs in the world. She knows they love her and that all is right in the world, and that Christmas is wonderful.

She didn’t know that her parents scrimped and saved, and felt badly, sometimes, because there were (in their opinion) meager offerings under the tree. She had no idea how to compare with what others might have been getting, or even any thought in her head to do so. Instead, she was simply thrilled that Santa came, and that he, and her family, loved her enough to give her anything to unwrap.

Last year, our boys turned ten, and while one of them was clearly only hanging on to the idea of Santa because he wasn’t quite sure it was OK to let go, the other was still completely sold. As little as I wanted to take anything so sweet from my child, I worried that kids at school would do it for me, and less kindly. Justin and I decided that we’d write a sweet letter explaining Santa, and put it in our boys’ stockings. I agonized for days over the words—how to explain to our sons the reasons we had perpetuated, in essence, a lie, but express the beauty and magic of it? How to help them understand that so many other things we taught them, which were wrapped up in similar hope and belief, were still true? It was small, but one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to write, and I poured my heart into it. We printed it on parchment paper, and wrapped it with a velvet-strung bell, so they’d remember the message of belief they’d learned from the book The Polar Express.

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I found myself in tears as my boys read those letters. The face of my son who still believed, in particular, was a mass of deep emotions as he came to terms with the truth. This week, as we were cleaning out their bedroom, I noticed that he still had my letter posted on his bulletin board. Those words I had agonized over are on his wall, where he can see them daily.

As I listen to this song, I can’t help but think of my son, his precious faith, and that other carefree little girl in her sweet innocence. There is a tenderness about her that I miss more and more, as I age, and sometimes I feel I’m missing a bit of that magic of Christmastime that only children really capture. But today, I think I realize what the beauty of Christmas is as an adult: it’s parenthood.

It’s loving a child so much that you’ll sacrifice to try and provide whatever you can from their list.
It’s spending time wrapping books so you unwrap one a night and read them together.
It’s rolling out cookie/cinnamon/clay dough to make ornaments or treats as a family.
It’s making special meals or those traditional foods you always have, even when you’re tired after a long day.
It’s combing Pinterest for weird crafts to make together, because they grow up too fast.
It’s watching your husband make snowmen with the kids, and having it turn into a huge snowball fight.
It’s having your Christmas tree undecorated for five days, because the kids really want to help decorate it, and school and activities have kept them too busy all week. Even though you know you’ll just have to move half the ornaments anyway, because they always put them all in one big clump.
It’s singing hymns around the piano together.
It’s driving around and looking at Christmas lights, just to see the wonder in their eyes.
It’s staying up until 2 a.m. to put that playhouse/kitchen/bicycle together, and then getting up again to open everything at 6.
It’s the beauty of knowing that your children, someday, will have photos just like the one at the top of this page. And they’ll be able to look back and remember that you, like my parents, loved them more than they ever could have known.

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Merry Christmas, everyone. Enjoy the season, and your families. May you feel the love and influence of the Savior in your homes at this time of year, and always. <3

Fefferbooks: you know, for book reviews!

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As a lot of you know, I love to read. I usually burn through 60-70 books a year, and I’m a longtime member over at Goodreads.com, where I like to post ratings and reviews of everything I read. I also recently joined BookLikes.com (which still confuses the crap out of me, but I’m there!), but I’ve been thinking for a while now that it might be nice to have a little more freedom of expression for my reviews. Goodreads is an awesome tool for sharing book ideas, and I use it constantly to decide what to read next, but I don’t usually want to express everything I’m thinking or feeling about a book over there. So I started my own book blog. :) Come see me at fefferbooks.com!

If you’d like to follow, I’d love to have you! I’m already in contact with a couple of authors about doing new book reviews/ARCs, and I’m really excited about doing what I love on the web. I’ll still post here–this is my “me” blog, and I’ll be around to share recipes and knitting and everything else I’m up to. But if you like to read, come check me out!

A Birthday of Olympic Proportions!

Because I married The Most Creative Man in the World, when the whispering and weirdness starts around my birthday-time, I always know I’m in for a treat. This morning, they finished up their preparations (“Uh…Dad needs this box, Mom. Um, for work!”) while I was sequestered to my bedroom for a couple of hours. They were at least nice enough to allow me my laptop, so I got some prime Pinterest time in.

I was finally freed around 10:00, and handed a white sheet, a gold laurel crown, and a “torch,” while the Olympic theme blasted from downstairs.

Toga

This picture is so flattering! Hahaha.

So, clearly, I was in for something spectacular.

The backyard was all decked out for Olympic events!

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Archery (with Nerf dart guns)

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Discus throw (with little Frisbees)

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Relays and a long-distance run, in slow-motion, complete with Chariots of Fire soundtrack.

Oh, and check out my official team number:

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Not pictured: beanbag shotput, paper airplane javelin throw (my only gold medal!), equestrian races, cycling, and basketball. My mom, one of the foreign dignitaries, was even able to make it before things wrapped up, and she lasted quite a while in the basketball event. I think my kids were impressed!

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The closing ceremonies involved gifts and Olympic-decorated cupcakes! Yum. My family were good to me, as usual. I got all kinds of running gear I asked for. It was a fun morning!

Watermelon Jam

A thing of beauty is a joy for my tummy

A thing of beauty is a joy for my tummy!

I first heard about watermelon jam last summer, via Pinterest. The picture looked fantastically summery and wonderful, and though I didn’t have the energy to get around to it just then, I filed it away mentally for later.

Last month, I got my chance. I pulled that pin back out, and read up on everything watermelon jam-y. The recipe in that post is based on one from another blog, and after reading them both, I was ready.

Let me just say that that experience was horrific. The recipe calls for boiling until the mixture reaches 220 degrees. At my house, that took at least 30 minutes, and by that point, the whole mess smelled strange and tasted worse. The point of the boiling was ostensibly to ensure that the jam would set, but when I poured it into my jars, it was SO thick that it could have been used to apply wallpaper. Once it had cooled, it tore through toast. We won’t even talk about the flavor. It was just terrible. (I should add that I used 4 cups sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice, like Blondie suggests. Don’t.)

This week, I picked up a sweet and fabulous watermelon, and I decided it was time to give it one more shot. I have a strawberry jam recipe I love to pieces, and I figured just following that might do the trick. Turns out I was right! Thank you, BHG. Here’s the winner, kids:

Watermelon Jam
Based on recipes from Food in Jars and Better Homes and Gardens You Can Can

Ingredients

6 cups watermelon puree (about 1/2 large seedless watermelon)
1/3 cup lemon juice (bottled is fine here)
1/2 tsp butter
1 1.75-oz box pectin
5 cups sugar

5 pint or 10 half-pint jars

Instructions:

  1. Place jars, rings, and lids in dishwasher on sterilize or rinse/dry cycle.
  2. Fill a big, flat-bottomed pot with water, full enough to cover jars, and set it over high heat. You’ll want it boiling and ready fairly soon.
  3. While jars are sterilizing, cut watermelon into chunks and puree using food processor or smash with a potato masher or food mill. You can strain the puree if desired, to get rid of any little seeds, but I didn’t bother. Continue adding puree to make 6 cups.
  4. Check on your jars. They should be about finished in the dishwasher. When they are, leave them in the hot dishwasher, but remove the flat lids. Place them in a small saucepan with just a little very hot water. Place that pan over high heat to simmer.
  5. In a large pot (it can even be the one you plan to process your jars in, if it has to be, but then obviously remove the water), mix puree, lemon juice, pectin, and butter and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Add sugar all at once. Return to a full rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.
  7. Ladle immediately into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ empty space at the top. Wipe any drips from the rims so that they’re absolutely spotless. Using tongs or a magnetic wand, remove a lid from the hot water in the small pan and place it on top of each jar, and then add a ring, screwing on loosely. The rings don’t need to be tight yet.
  8. Place as many jars as desired in the big, flat pot filled with water (it should be boiling softly by now–if it’s at a rolling boil, turn it down. You just barely want water movement). Once you’re finished adding jars, your water level should be at least an inch higher than the top of your jars.
  9. Allow the water to boil very softly for 10 minutes. Then remove jars from water and let them cool on a wire rack.
  10. The lids will pop if they’ve sealed correctly. Sometimes they pop while they’re in the water bath, sometimes right after being removed, and sometimes not for up to a few hours later. If it’s been 24 hours and one hasn’t popped, something bad happened–stick it in the fridge and eat it right away.
  11. After the jars have cooled, tighten up the rings and store at room temperature for up to 1 year.

Note: there was some discussion in the original recipe about how this could take up to a week to set. Obviously, that wasn’t the case with my first attempt. We’ll see how it goes this time. I’ll update you when I find out!

A Little Revelation

I was just downloading photos from my phone and …well…

End of June

End of June

6 mos ago

6 mos ago

So…

…yikes.

I really don’t remember my face looking like that. When I look in the mirror now, I can see a little bit of difference. I notice it under my chin, and it seems like my eyelids are a little less crepe-y. But holy crap. I kind of want to burst into tears looking at that picture. And that’s 40 pounds less than when I looked like this:

Working on Grandpa's house

Sigh.

I’ve been thinking for a long time about writing a post about my battle to lose weight. I’ve hesitated for a lot of reasons. I can’t even seem to write about the reasons themselves without turning it into a mess of circular blather. For now, suffice it to say: it’s a personal fight. And I’m not finished yet.

I’ve posted a little before about my weight throughout the years, and growing up feeling fat. I think most teenaged girls feel that way. I battled weight gain, like most co-eds, but I lost it and came out on the other side just fine. When I got married, I was a good, healthy weight. But then life happened, as it usually does, and I was happy and busy and, honestly? I was lazy.

Between happy, lazy, pregnant, and whatever else came in between, I put on 100 pounds. Actually, if you add things up, I gained a total of  188 pounds. I just happened to lose chunks of it here and there, and then put more on. Over the years, I have tried several diets, several medications, and I’ve learned lots of what doesn’t work. I think it’s time I shared what works for me.

Desire

You have to really be ready to change. That sounds kind of stupid, but it was a HUGE breakthrough for me. I spent a lot of years feeling mostly at peace with how I looked, but then when weight loss or exercise would come up in conversations, I would feel really ill at ease. I felt like there was an elephant in the room (and it was probably me,) and I would start trying to think of socially acceptable excuses for why I hadn’t done anything about my weight. One evening, my (very fit) uncle turned to me and said, “Eh. You know, when you want to, you will.” I felt like he had given me a license to make up my own mind about the whole issue, without any pressure. So now, when I see other people feeling that same awkwardness, that’s the answer I give. When you want to, you will.

Start Small

I think we have a tendency to decide we want to GET FIT WOOHOO! and then throw out all the food and start a new diet and buy new exercise shoes and do! all! the things! It’s a rare person who can keep that up for very long. I’ve found that the most effective changes for me have been realistic, small, and made one at a time. For me, that began with cutting way back on our fast food. Then I started trying to add in more fruits and veggies. Once we were actually eating healthily, then I made the move to reduce my calories. Then I added in exercise.

Now, there’s no reason you couldn’t do a couple of those at once. I just think it’s crazypants to try and do everything at the same time. You’ll go insane.

“Dieting”

I know some people love diets, but whether it’s physical or psychological, they just don’t work for me. Once I know I’m “dieting,” I spend all day thinking about what I’m allowed to eat, and what I’m going to eat next. It basically turns me into a crazy person. I need all foods to be allowed, and to be trusted to make good choices. Um, I might have issues with authority.

I keep track of my calories with an app (Lose It!), but I pretty much allow myself to eat whatever I want as long as it seems generally balanced and healthy. I don’t go crazy about fat intake or how many carbs something has or whether it’s a whole grain. Some people love that stuff. I can’t do it, or I’ll go insane. Remember how we were talking about making changes you can incorporate into your real life? Yeah, that’s not real life for me. If it is for you, go for it! I just don’t have the patience for that. I know I need some protein in my meal or I’ll get a headache. I know I need to get some fruits and veggies every day. I know I always need more water. I try not to eat bread all day long. Those are pretty much my guidelines.

Also? I give myself a cheat day every week. I try to make it a day when I’ve worked out. But you have to live a little.

Exercise

The most disturbing, frightening, world-shattering thing I’ve learned in the last few months? Exercise is the real deal. I know you just phased out, and want me to shut up, now. No one wants to hear it. That’s how I got to be 35 years old and 200+ pounds, friend. Refusing to exercise is just prolonging the inevitable. And that inevitable is this: you can stay overweight (which is cool with me, if it’s cool with you), or you can just suck it up and work out.

I started with yoga. I like yoga because it appeals to my roots in ballet. The stretching and flexibility feel great, and I’m good at it.

But for whatever reason, I got the idea I was going to start running. A bunch of my girlfriends were all running a mud race, and I wanted to do it with them. Then I broke my ankle, had surgery, and had to recoup. It was a year before my ankle was ready. I missed the mud race, but the treadmill was waiting. I’ve posted a bit about my running already, but I’m up to 8+ miles/week now.

Results

Losing weight is hard work. There are lots of sites out there that will tell you it’s all math–a 500 calorie deficit/day = 1 pound/week lost! Yeah…it’s not that simple. Different foods are processed differently, and if you can figure out how to make that work for you, you win. And some people’s bodies just want to hang on to weight more than others (I have PCOS and hypothyroid. Booyah!). But knocking off 500 calories isn’t a bad place to start. I also tried using all kinds of “metabolic rate” calculators, which have you plug in your weight and age and activity rate, and claim to give you the number of calories you need to consume each day just to fuel your body. Apparently, I should be eating 2495 calories. If I did that, I would weigh 700 pounds. So some of it’s trial and error.

Right now, I’m finding myself trying not to be frustrated with the scale. I am, actually, losing an average of a pound a week. Sounds great, right? But here’s what my graph looks like:

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…and there may have been some spikes in there that I just couldn’t record, for the sake of my own mental health. Ahem. My advice? Keep track of your measurements. Even through all of those ups and downs, I was losing major inches. I measure every two weeks, and I’m down at least .25″ on each measurement every time. It’s a great way to stay motivated!

Do What Works for You

Above all, I think you have to make the choices that will work best for you. Just because something is working well for your cousin/friend/husband doesn’t mean it’s going to be the magic bean that makes you thin. Think about your habits, what you love, what you’re willing to give up, and what you’re not. Are you someone who does better with planned out meals, or do you like the flexibility to cook what you want? Do you need some group encouragement, or do you want to be left alone to do your thing? Is there some form of exercise that sounds fun to you? Do that! Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you want to do. If you’re ready, and you want it, you’ll really stick with it.

And I’ll be right here, sweating and cheering you on.

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Go, go, go!

Advice for the New Runner

I have been running seriously for, what? Six weeks, now? So, clearly, I am an expert. No, but really–I have learned some things in those six weeks about what works and what doesn’t, and this is DEFINITELY coming from the perspective of a new runner. I’m hoping I’ll be able to help anyone who’s thinking they might like to get going, but just doesn’t know where to start.

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Hi, post-run! Is my face red enough, do you think?

First: The Shoes. 

If there’s one thing you have to do for yourself, it’s get a decent pair of running shoes. They don’t have to be insanely expensive (I paid $60 for mine), but they do have to be real running shoes–not just whatever you wear to shlep around the mall, and not just something that looks athletic. Even if you’re just barely starting to run, you can still really injure yourself if your body’s not supported properly, and if your feet aren’t supported, then the rest of your body isn’t, either.

My best advice, here, is to find a running shoe store in your area. A good store will, for free, analyze your running gait and recommend a good shoe for you, depending on how badly you pronate and how much support you need. They should also have a good return policy, if the shoe you buy just isn’t feeling right. You can buy your shoes online if you want, after that, but it’s kind of a daunting thing to do if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

I have these ASICS Women’s GEL-Cumulus 13, by the way, and I love them!

Second: The Program

Obviously, you could step outside and start running around your block or neighborhood or the school track or whatever. I say go for it! Personally, I was way too out of shape for that. I seriously could not have run around the block, even once–no joke. That’s why I chose the Couch to 5k program, an interval training program that’s intended to literally get you off your potato-chip-encrusted couch and to a 5k in 9 weeks(-ish). The first day of C25K asks you to run for 60 seconds at a time. I was pretty sure I could do that. And I did! Now I’m running 1.5 miles without a problem. AND I LIKE IT. Who would have guessed?

If you have a smartphone, there are a BAZILLION apps that will help train you through the C25K program. I ended up choosing the one put out by RunDouble. I felt like it had the most options–GPS ability, integration with my phone’s music with a bunch of options, upload of each run’s stats to your profile on the website, and several other trainers that came with, for when I was through the 5k program. Also, the first two weeks are a full program free trial, so you can test all the bells and whistles. It costs a whopping $1.59 if you do buy it. Anyway. That’s just my preferred program.

Next: WATER. 

I. hate. water. I don’t know what my deal is, but with the exception of when I was pregnant and wanted all the ice water that could be found in all the land, I refuse to drink plain water. I’ve found a solution with those liquid water flavors made by Mio and Dasani and whomever. That’s the only way I’ll drink it. I go through about 24 oz of water when I run, and more when I’m done. Please, please, have water on-hand when you run, or you’ll have a headache. Or worse.  UPDATE: Mio now has an electrolyte version called MioFit, which I’m really liking. It doesn’t have that weird salty flavor like Gatorade, and it’s helping me drink less and hydrate more. I was starting to get headaches after my long runs, even with lots of water. This is working better.

Speed

Who cares??

Hahaha. I could just stop there. But let me just say that I run slowly, and that’s ok. I run on a treadmill (for a lot of reasons: toddlers at home, prior injuries, cracked pavement makes my ankles scared, no impact cushion outside…. Also, my parents bought it for me about 8 years ago, so, you know. It’s THERE. :) …Ahem–what was I saying? Oh, treadmill. Because of that, I know I started out running at 4.3 mph. Which is a FOURTEEN minute mile. I’m pretty sure my dad, who has run almost daily my whole life, runs about a 7:00 mile. But is this about comparison? Is this about speed? NO. It’s about being healthy. So none of that really matters. The RunDouble people say they’ve seen some people clock in with runs at a 20:00 mile pace. The point is to do it. Go, you.

Music

The one thing I find really helps me with speed is good music. I love, love, love jog.fm. You can plug in your pace over there and it’ll bring up HUGE lists of songs that match your running pace. You’re guaranteed to have some of them in your music library already, but I found about 30 I wanted to download. Want to go faster? Bump up the BPM over on the left-hand side of the window by about 10. That’s enough to give you just a little gentle encouragement, and not make things crazy.

I’m also finding that the key to good running music is to pick songs that make you smile. For me, that means totally ridiculous songs from the 1990s. How can you not crack up when “Pump Up the Jam” or “I’m Too Sexy” come on? Hello? And because of the cross-dressing video from YouTube, “Call Me Maybe” is my current favorite. I totally forget I’m even running. Awesome! Anyway, Jog.fm can help you find some goodies that are right for you.

The Girls

This won’t be a problem for everyone, but it is for me. I’m extraordinarily busty. I don’t mean DDs. I mean much, much bigger. May I just take a moment to recommend this bra? It’s very comfortable both before and during my run, and that’s about all the endorsement I think it needs!

The Benefits

So, duh. Exercise is good for you. I don’t want to be one of those crazy exercise proselytizers. I don’t love to work out. OK, let me amend that: I enjoy it at the end. I do get a little bit of runner’s high. But it’s not like I wake up and feel like “YAYY! It’s morning and I get to GO RUNNING!!”

Here’s what I do like:

  • My resting heart rate has gone from the high 80s to the mid 50s.
  • My heart rate while working out has dropped from 200 to around 165.
  • I lost 7 pounds in one month. More to come!
  • I’ve dropped an inch from all my torso measurements, 1.5 from my hips (or, more accurately, that horrid bread-dough low tummy my children gave me), and a half-inch from my Relief-Society arms. DUDE. Imagine six months from now. I’ve never seen my stupid post-baby tummy be so flat, in proportion to my body. It’s kind of weirding me out. In an awesome way.
  • I feel like a rock star when I’m done. Seriously. And that’s what makes it really worth it, for me.

So, you know, if you think running might be for you, go for it! I’ve got your back. You have questions? I’ll try to answer. Good luck!

Canning Strawberry Jam

I was just posting on my FB wall that I’d canned some strawberry jam.

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Usually, I just make freezer jam, but lately my kids have decided to rebel against any jam that has chunks, so I decided to make a smooth version, and freezer jam doesn’t work that way. Also, our upright freezer likes to throw things at me–jam containers in particular. So canning just makes more sense, safety-wise.

I know canning seems daunting and like it takes a bunch of foreign equipment and pioneer know-how, but the fact is, it’s actually pretty easy once you’ve done it a time or two. Basically, the steps to canning jam are:

1) Sterilize/heat your jars in the dishwasher
2) Boil your jam ingredients on the stove
3) Fill your jam jars and boil them in water

See? Easy, right? But I’ll walk you through it.

For this strawberry jam recipe, you need about 9 half-pint jars. It doesn’t matter whether you use the taller, narrow-mouthed half-pints or squatty, wide-mouthed half-pints. In fact, you don’t strictly have to use half-pints. If you look at my picture, I used two pint jars and five half-pints.

Jars come with rings and lids. Jar manufacturers will tell you that you need to buy new lids *every time* you use your jars. That’s just silliness. I’ve used my jars at least three times without buying new lids, and they’re still sealing strong. Once the gummy sealing rubber on the back stops feeling pliable, or looks dry or cracked, though, it’s definitely not going to seal. I can’t say, for sure, how many times that will take–just use your best judgment. But if you’re nervous about them, you can always buy more.

The other thing you’ll need is a large pot with a flat bottom that’s a couple of inches taller than your jars, and wide enough to hold several at a time. It’s not necessary to process all of your jars at once, so it’s OK if you can only get five or so in your pot at once. You just want to make sure they’re not shoved in there so closely together that they’ll knock into each other when the water is making things vibrate.

Other canners buy pot racks, magnetic wands, and special funnels and tongs. I’ve tried them all, and now they stay in my closet. I just don’t think they’re worth the fuss.

OK: so you have your jars and your pot. Now, assemble your recipe ingredients:

Strawberry Jam
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens You Can Can: A Guide to Canning, Preserving, and Pickling (a book I can’t recommend enough)

4 pounds fresh strawberries
1 1.75-oz box Sure Jell Pectin
1/2 tsp butter
7 cups sugar

Instructions:

  1. Place jars, rings, and lids in dishwasher on sterilize or rinse/dry cycle.
  2. Fill your big, flat pot with water, about 3/4 full and set it over high heat. You’ll want it boiling and ready fairly soon.
  3. While jars are sterilizing, hull and halve strawberries. Cut away any mushy spots. Be sure to use any that seem under-ripe; the less ripe berries aid in the gelling process of the jam. Using a potato masher, food mill, or some other kitchen tool that’ll smash things, crush the berries. Unless you want a puree, a food processor isn’t ideal–some smaller crushed pieces are good. Continue adding berries and crushing until you have 5 cups crushed berries.
  4. Check on your jars. They should be about finished in the dishwasher. When they are, leave them in the hot dishwasher, but remove the flat lids. Place them in a small pot or pan with just a little very hot water. Place that pan over high heat to simmer.
  5. In a large pot (it can even be the one you plan to process your jars in, if it has to be), mix crushed berries, pectin, and butter and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Add sugar all at once. Return to a full rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.
  7. Ladle immediately into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ empty space at the top. Wipe any drips from the rims so that they’re absolutely spotless. Using tongs, remove a lid from the hot water in the small pan and place it on top of each jar, and then add a ring, screwing on loosely. The rings don’t need to be tight yet.
  8. Place as many jars as desired in the big, flat pot filled with water (it should be boiling softly by now–if it’s at a rolling boil, turn it down. You just barely want water movement. Remember–you don’t want your jars banging into each other. The last thing you want is a broken jar!). Once you’re finished adding jars, your water level should be about an inch higher than the top of your jars. (I have to say, I often can with my water level below my jars, because I can’t ever remember where it needs to be and I can’t be bothered to look it up, and everything turns out fine. It’s not that finicky. So…no great tragedy if your pot is too short or whatever.)
  9. Allow the water to boil very softly for 5 minutes. Then remove jars from water (I use tongs and my silicone heating pad. They do make jar tongs, and those might be worth the investment. I think they’re cheap.) and let them cool on a wire rack. Or the stovetop. Whatever.
  10. The lids will pop if they’ve sealed correctly. Sometimes they pop while they’re in the water bath, sometimes right after being removed, and sometimes not for up to a few hours later. If it’s been 24 hours and one hasn’t popped, something bad happened–stick it in the fridge and eat it right away. But that’s never happened to me before, and I’m over here canning with a stock pot and a pair of OXO tongs, so I promise, you’ll be fine!
  11. After the jars have cooled, tighten up the rings and store at room temperature for up to 1 year.