Category Archives: Gardening

The Power of Being (I’m not procrastinating…I’m preparing)

Hello Scribes friends,

PJ Sharon here. Some of you may not know this about me, but I can be a bit lazy. I know—you’re thinking, “No way, PJ. Not you! You’re so motivated and productive!” Um…not really. Looking at the big picture, I do seem to manage to keep a pretty steady schedule, meet my goals on a regular basis, and take care of my daily responsibilities while maintaining a fairly decent attitude, so I guess I’m not a total slacker. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that anything I do accomplish is because I know myself well enough to make my goals achievable and realistic, I accept my limitations as an imperfect human being, and I plan accordingly. Being a natural multi-tasker and somewhat disciplined helps too, but these days, I’m less rigid and a much nicer boss to work for.

With my writing, I try to push new limits, set appropriate deadlines,  and stay challenged–since I know these are what motivate me to stay on task–but it would be foolish and self-defeating to expect more from myself than I want to give. You have to want success…and you have to want it bad! And you need to ask yourself, “What am I willing to give up to achieve it?”

Admittedly, I’ve given up a lot to get where I am. But certain things–like time with my granddaughter and at least one day off a week, are now higher on my priorities list. What I also won’t compromise on is exercise. I commit myself to doing 30 minutes a day, five days a week because I know the payoff is totally worth it! When I’m strong, fit, and happy, I feel like I can handle anything that comes my way. If my schedule gets crazy, I let myself off the hook for a day or two, but then I’m back at it. The same applies to diet and nutrition. I’m not as rigid as I once was, but I try to eat high quality, nutrient dense foods that properly fuel my body. I like chocolate and pie as much as the next girl, but I believe in the 80/20 approach to everything. If I’m doing the right thing 80% of the time, I can slack off 20% of the time and I’ll probably be okay. Yay…pie!

For me, first and foremost, my mental and physical well-being are my priorities, and stressing out about what I’m NOT accomplishing only serves to make me feel overwhelmed and down on myself. It has become clear to me that my to-do list will never be done and that if I want to keep my sanity, I have to focus on just a few daily tasks that keep me moving toward my overall goals. It might take me longer to get there, but it’s not a race for me anymore. I’m in it for the long haul, so pacing myself is key to staying the course.

If goal setting isn’t your strong suit, here’s a great article to help you get on track and stay there.

Could I accomplish way more if I didn’t watch twenty hours of television per week or spend time gazing out the window at the lilac buds sprouting? scent of spring Maybe I could shave ten or fifteen minutes off my overly-lengthy shower time, or possibly I could sleep less. It seems changing even a few of these “recreational” behaviors would lead to a tremendous increase in my productivity. Then, maybe I could write five books in a year or spend another twenty hours a week promoting my butt off. After all, I do understand that the success of my business depends on me and how hard I’m willing to work. But how hard I’m willing to work today may be different from what it was two years ago, and will likely be different again a month from now. We each have to decide what’s important to us.

It comes down to perspective and priorities. In my opinion, none of those “recreational” activities are a total waste of my time. One could even argue that I am more productive because I’m living a balanced lifestyle. A full night’s sleep–when I can get it–is an essential tool for weight management, stress reduction, and overall health. I need at least 6-8 hours a night to remain productive and happy. Staying up late to write that blog that’s due in the morning, or waking at the crack of dawn to sneak in some “quality” writing time may help me check off a few to-do’s, but it’s going to leave me cranky and tired, and increase my susceptibility to illness. That’s not worth the trade for me at this point in life. Maybe some of you can live on five hours of sleep, but I’m betting it catches up with you eventually.

As for the apparent television addiction, I do try to limit my viewing to “must see” shows that give me the most enjoyment. I’m not a total hedonist! I TiVo my favorites and dole them out throughout the week as reward for accomplishing my tasks for the day. Getting lost in my favorite shows not only helps me decompress after a full day of massage work or long hours at the computer, it activates my creative brain. I’m constantly analyzing and deconstructing what I watch. I’m looking at story structure, dialogue, characterization, metaphor, etc. My mind is being entertained, but I’m also in my writer’s brain and learning.

The long hot showers, which some may argue are a luxury and a waste of not only water and resources, but are a self-indulgence. I assure you, they are a necessity for me. There are many challenges in daily life, and few “inexpensive” luxuries for most of us. If spending a half hour in the shower (where I do a stretching routine to treat my arthritic neck and back) relaxes me and reduces my pain, then so be it. I’ll take every little bit of relief I can get. Besides, my shower time is the most creative and productive time of my day as far as I’m concerned. It’s like a cup of tea, a soothing massage, and an opportunity to let my thoughts flow freely without my internal editor alarms ringing, all rolled into one.  My best ideas and snappiest lines of dialogue come to me while standing under a piping hot shower. I’ve also been known to belt out a few tunes while I’m there. Singing elevates my mood, clears my lungs, and centers me. It helps me shift from my right sided “business” brain to my left sided “creative” brain so I can get those 1,000 words on the page. The long hot shower is staying!

So, what about the inordinate amount of time I spend staring out the window, walking around my yard to see what’s coming into bloom, or simply sitting on my front porch with a hot cup of tea, paying attention to my breathing for a few minutes and taking time to be grateful for the multitude of gifts I have in my life? Am I procrastinating?

Maybe, but these moments too, are priceless. When I’m not actually writing, I’m usually preparing to write. I’m processing my next scene or coming up with some brilliant twist to my plot. As a writer, my brain is always processing some bit of information that will ultimately lead me to where I need to be on the page.

What it comes down to for me is that I’m a human being first, and a writer second. I NEED to stay connected to my higher self–the part of me that knows how to live in the moment and appreciates the power of just being.teens prayers5 (2013_02_16 17_00_55 UTC) That’s the part of me that inspired me to write in the first place and continues to be the well from which I draw my best work. Whether it’s called prayer or meditation…or just plain daydreaming, we all need it on some level.

I know that nothing can substitute for diligence, consistency in getting those daily word counts on the page, or putting in the overtime, but these quiet moments of stillness and reflection are essential to my sanity and well-being. I know this to be true about myself. Perhaps it’s just an excuse to be lazy or to procrastinate, but I prefer to think of it as “preparing” the soil. The fertile ground of productivity is only as good as what you feed into it. So next time you start to feel guilty for daydreaming instead of writing, or taking a day off to hit the beach, don’t look at it as “slacking”. Consider it part of the process. Tomorrow is another day and there is always more work to be done. Today, take a moment to reconnect to what nurtures and feeds your soul. You may be slightly less productive on paper, but you’ll be happier and more balanced in the long run.

Namaste!

PJ

What are your best “self-care” indulgences? What fuels your muse? What have you done for you lately?

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A Great Whodunit, Sandra Orchard Style

“Step into my parlor for a cuppa tea,” said the spider to the fly.Deadly_Devotion_Sm

I am a huge tea drinker, but Sandra Orchard’s latest suspense series, the Port Aster Secrets, now has me questioning every ingredient that fills my teabags. The titles of the teas on my canisters all sound delightful, but after reading the first book in Sandra’s series, Deadly Devotion, I have to question what exactly goes into my African Autumn Surprise teabags…eeeek!

Deadly Devotion is the first book in a three-book mystery series in which a romance arcs the series, along with an underlying suspense plot. The heroine of the series, Kate Adams, is a research scientist who knows her herbs. She knows which ones are deadly and which ones could go undetected in an blind trustautopsy. But knowing this doesn’t mean she’s safe from their poison–especially when she starts sniffing more than tea leaves. She’s putting her nose where it doesn’t belong, and her amateur sleuthing is going to get her into trouble. Will the handsome FBI agent-turned cop, Tom Parker, be able to help her out? All I will say is they make a great team, and I am looking forward to Book Two, Blind Trust, releasing in January.

If you haven’t read the Port Aster series, you can get started with Deadly Devotion now, then preorder Blind Trust for January. Or see below for a chance to win them!

Deadly Devotion

Research scientist Kate Adams and her colleague Daisy are on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy suddenly dies. Kate knows that if it hadn’t been for Daisy’s mentorship, she wouldn’t have the job she loves or the faith she clings to. So when police rule Daisy’s death a suicide, Kate is determined to unearth the truth.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker finds it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gives him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom’s just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation of her friend’s death, he knows his job is at stake. In fact, despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate looks a bit suspicious herself.

As evidence mounts, a web of intrigue is woven around the sleepy town of Port Aster. Can Kate uncover the truth? Or will Tom stand in her way?

Blind Trust

Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can’t believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker’s investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor’s innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation–and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world–and her budding romance with Tom–begin to crumble. To Kate, it’s clear that she won’t be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster’s secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom?

Sandra_Orchard_3

Sandra Orchard is a multi award-winning author of inspirational romantic suspense with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint, and Revell Publishing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and now writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren.  You can learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at www.SandraOrchard.com or connect at www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

At her website, Sandra loves to offer readers extra bonus features for each of her books such as deleted scenes, character interviews, location pics and even related recipes. And…

Christmas_gifts_pd

…as a special Christmas gift for her newsletter subscribers, she sends them a Christmas short story (this year’s is more like a mini-novella) that springboards from one of her novels.

If you’d like to receive it, click here to subscribe. You will receive a link to her 2011 Christmas story within the next day or two, so if you don’t see it in your inbox, be sure to check your spam folder. Your 2013 story will arrive in your inbox in December.

In the meantime, you can check out the rest of Sandra’s bonus features here:

http://sandraorchard.com/extras/bonus-book-features/

She also has a giveaway going on now until November 26th.

If you’d like an opportunity win a copy of Deadly Devotion (or an advanced copy of the second book in the series, Blind Trust) for yourself or as a gift for a friend, please check out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pumpkin’s Progress–2013

Howdy, all! Oops, just back from my dear niece’s country-themed weddin’ — so much fun and I guess I’m still talking cowboy. I wish Rachel and Johnny many blessings, especially as Johnny heads off to boot camp in a few days to join our armed forces.

Behold, HRH King Arthur
Behold, HRH King Arthur

When we got back to suburbia from our travels, we were pleased to find that this year’s giant pumpkin was doing very well. Giant pumpkins put on weight very, very quickly (up to 20 pounds a day for the size we grow) and it’s noticeable when you haven’t seen it for a few days. As of today it’s about 200 pounds–just a baby in the competitive world. The world record pumpkin in 2012 weighed in at 2009 pounds. Yes, you read that right, two thousand and nine pounds, and was grown in Rhode Island. Click here to see one ton o’gourd.

Last year at our local agricultural fair (Four Town Fair), we were beaten out for King of the Pumpkin Patch by a kid–a KID! (WTG, sweetie!) But Mr. Suze and the Crown Prince, who have claimed for the last several years that this will be the last time we grow them, were undeterred and dutifully ordered seeds and some kind of organic fertilizer, which they apply faithfully. Every day they go out and bury the pumpkin vines as they grow and put down new roots so the plant can suck up more water. And it seems to be paying off. In just a few weeks, King Arthur will be off to sit on his pallet throne and we’ll see who takes home the prize.

So, wish us luck. Wish me luck as I prepare to turn in my first book to my wonderful editor–I had no idea it would be so hard to call it done (for now) and let it go but I can’t wait to see her suggestions to make my book way better. And wish my niece and new nephew much luck and love as they start their life together (or apart, temporarily). And for all of you, dear Scribelings, blessings of the harvest season!

Starting Over

Welcome! It’s another steamy Tuesday in the Berkshires. My garden is well in bloom and loving the sunshine, warmth, and afternoon thundershowers.Garden

PJ here, and I am about to embark on another journey–both on and off the page. I’ll be leaving next week for Atlanta for the National Romance Writer’s Convention. I look forward to filling you all in on the action while I’m away (check out tweets by following me @pjsharon and using hashtag #rwa2013, or catch up with me on Facebook @pjsharonbooks for pics of who’s who and what’s happening). Although I’m looking forward to all the workshops, networking, opportunities, and fun with my writer buds, what I’m most looking forward to is a boost of enthusiasm to dig into my next project, book three in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. Though conferences can be exhausting, I always come home energized and raring to write, so the timing couldn’t be better.

Most writers will agree that the happiest words we write are “THE END.” At the same time, I think many will also agree that the most daunting words we write are “Chapter One.”

It’s hard to believe I’m starting over yet again. I can honestly say it’s still as bitter sweet and anxiety provoking an endeavor as I have ever faced. Sitting in front of a blank page can be the most exciting moment for a writer, or the most terrifying—usually both in equal measure for me. So here I find myself having to put another 80,000 or more words on the page in some semblance of an entertaining tale. Being that this will be the final in a trilogy, I have a lot riding on making this my best story yet. As added pressure, I need to write it and publish it in the next nine months so as not to lose readers who are awaiting the final installment, and to meet the general standards of the publishing industry. It’s tough out there, and to compete in such an overcrowded market, I have to continue to produce quality fiction in a timely manner. That’s the business woman in me speaking—the grown-up.

But when I break down the details of all that needs to go into making that deadline, I immediately want to take another week off and rest up a bit more (my inner teen in total rebellion). “It’s summer vacation,” she whines. “All work and no play…,” she cajoles. I let her have her way for another day and then my inner mom grounds her and takes away her TV until she gets that blog post done and starts outlining her scenes. It’s hard being the grown-up, but somebody’s got to do it.

Since I can ignore the publishing/promo part until about 3-5 months out from deadline, I can focus just on the task of writing the book. Easy-peasy, right? I’ve done this a few times before. A thousand words a day and I’ll have my first draft done in three months. That leaves six months for multiple edits and all that goes into polishing a manuscript before it goes to print. I don’t know about you guys, but each book has been a completely different process for me. Hopefully, my process has evolved enough that this time it will be easier. Of course, this is my first trilogy so that makes it more complicated…a lot more complicated.

I have tons of loose ends to wrap up and have to find ways of weaving bits of backstory in so readers aren’t totally lost if they missed something in WANING MOON or WESTERN DESERT. I have to up the stakes, force my characters to face their demons, and carry them through their arc to completion in this book. They must overcome their fatal flaws, win out over the villain, and find their hopefully ever after, maybe even saving the world while their at it. I could easily stretch this into a series of four books, but since I marketed a trilogy, I’m stuck, LOL. So a lot of what I’ need to do in the planning is narrow my focus to what absolutely has to happen in this book. There will be NO tangential literary diversions!

Luckily, I have a lot of tools to get me started and keep me on track. Casey Wyatt has outlined her method, which appears very straight forward and doable. I am anxious to try her approach, although I’ve learned from so many other great teachers in this business that my process will surely be a hybrid of hers, theirs, and mine. A quick breakdown of my plan looks like this:

1) Summarize the story/create tag line– I totally agree with Casey on this one. It is really helpful to understand the bare bones of what your story is about before jumping in. It saves a lot of writing in circles and editing later.

2) Identification of characters-I know Casey likes a very superficial view at this point, but since I’ve already written two books about these characters,  I’ll use this step to update and add details to my Series Bible (a notebook I developed to keep character traits, appearance, weapons, and world building details straight). I will also take time during this step to begin working on my character grids (outlining each character’s internal and external goal, motivation, and conflict, the inciting incident, fatal flaw of each character–what they must overcome within themselves to find their HEA). By now, I should know my characters well enough that these questions shouldn’t be too hard to answer.

3) Three Act Story structure-Like Casey, I learned the three act play story structure that outlines the beginning, middle, and end of every story, but after taking a Michael Hague workshop several years ago, I had the opportunity to delve a little deeper into how to progress through those three acts. His technique helped me to better understand the structure behind the stories we create. He breaks  it down into stages consisting of SETUP, NEW SITUATION, PROGRESS, COMPLICATIONS & HIGHER STAKES, the FINAL PUSH, and the AFTERMATH. He also taught me that pacing is controlled in part by appropriately placed turning points (a sure cure for the sagging middle). The first turning point, he describes as the OPPORTUNITY (aka: inciting incident), followed by a CHANGE OF PLANS (aka: call to action), POINT OF NO RETURN (about half-way through), MAJOR SETBACK (Dark Moment), and CLIMAX. Working this all out on index cards, a poster board, or in an outline combines Casey’s step four (the meat and potatoes of plotting), and step five (scene development on index cards).

Being a pantser by nature, all of this plotting, planning and prep work requires a bit of self-discipline and a tight rein on my inner rebellious teen, who would like nothing better than to jump in and write willy-nilly in complete denial of the consequences (such as dead ends, tangential diversions, and lots of unnecessary editing later on), but it’s a good thing that grown-up me is in control, right?

Hmmm…maybe I’ll just wait to get started until after I get back from Atlanta. After all…it is summer vacation and all work and no play…well, we all know what that does. I hope to see some of you at the conference!

I’d love to hear your feedback on my plan. Any tips, suggestions, or questions are welcome.

All Jammed Up

Hey, friends, Suze here. It’s June, and you know what that means in New England–fiddleheads, asparagus, and strawberries.

th[1]You don’t know what a fiddlehead is? It’s an edible fern still in its curled-up stage, and, yes, it looks like the scroll-y end of a violin. The season is super short–like about 10 days or so because they have zero shelf life and must be picked locally, one by one. They taste something like a cross between asparagus, green beans, and broccoli. Lightly steamed and tossed with a bit of butter or olive oil and perhaps a bit of lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar, they’re delicious. And all the more delectable because they’re so fleeting. Wait one day too long and they’re a full-flown fern!

But enough about vegetables. Let’s talk about strawberries. How I love those bright red June jewels, sensual and juicy. I love them right out of the garden, their flavor intensified by the warmth of the sun. I love them sliced and tossed with just a bit of sugar, or a drizzle of real maple syrup or honey, to bring out their natural juice and sweetness, or unsweetened and topped with thick, creamy vanilla Greek yogurt. Sigh. If I didn’t have a whole flat of berries in my refrigerator, I’d want to go to the pick-your-own farm right now!

One of my favorite things to do with strawberries (and other berries too) is to make jam. If you’ve never canned anything, it might seem a little daunting, but I’m here to tell you that homemade strawberry jam is the perfect way to start your canning career. With just a bit of advance organization, it’s super easy! One taste of freshly made strawberry jam on a whole grain English muffin and you will never, ever go back to any jam you buy in the store, I guarantee. And if you make a batch or two now, you can give jars away as holiday gifts. This is a perfect recipe for sharing with friends, family and neighbors.

So here’s how to do it:

Buy your jars. I like the eight-ounce crystal quilted jelly jars made by Ball because they’re so pretty! Here in New England you can buy the jars at most grocery stores, as well as farm supply stores such as Agway and Tractor Supply. I think I’ve seen them at Walmart too. The jars themselves are reusable pretty much indefinitely as long as they aren’t chipped or cracked, so when you give away your jam, be sure to ask for your jars back eventually.

The jars will come with a two-piece lid: a metal ring and a round, flat metal top with a special coating on the underside. The metal rings can also be reused unless they are rusty, but you will need to buy new tops every time (you can buy them separately).

Buy your pectin. Pectin is a natural fruit-based gelling agent (it’s abundant in apples, for example). It comes in different forms, such as a liquid, but I prefer Sure-Jel Lower Sugar Recipe (the kind in the pink box). I have not always had good luck with other brands, but Sure-Jel has never failed me, so I stick with it. This is usually found right next to the canning jars, or sometimes near Jell-O and instant pudding in the grocery store.

Buy your berries. Get your fruit from a local farm if you possibly can. You’re supporting your neighbors and small business as well as getting a quality product. Organic is always best! You can either buy the berries already picked and pay a couple of bucks more, or get some exercise and pick them yourself. You will need about six heaping quarts of berries, or about six pounds. (Get another couple of quarts to eat fresh). To correctly pick a berry, hold the stem between your index and middle fingers and pull gently. The berry will pop off along with its little green top. Leaving the top intact keeps the fruit fresher longer.

Which berries to pick? You want them to be firm and bright red–not orangey-red or greenish-white, which means they’re underripe. Not purple-red and mushy, which means they’re overripe. The best way to judge ripeness is to taste one. It should be firm, sweet but slightly tart. If it’s extra sweet and squishy, pass it by. If you’re really not sure, err on the side of less ripe than overripe for the best tasting jam.

Take them home–do not wash until just before you’re ready to use them!–and put them in your fridge for up to a day or two.

Prepare your jars. Run the jars, lids and rings through your dishwasher while you prepare the berries (below). Keep the jars hot in the dishwasher.

Prepare your berries. Fill up your colander with berries and give them a quick rinse under cold running water, draining well. Hull the strawberries by circling the pointy tip of a paring knife around the green top, then discard the tops. Quarter the fruit and place in a bowl. Every once in a while, squish the berries with a potato masher. You want juice and bits of berry to equal six cups. When you get to six cups, you’re done and can eat the rest.

OK, I promise, the time-consuming part is done! Now with a bit of organization, you will have jam cooling on your counter in about thirty minutes.

Set up the following on the counter right next to your stove:

  • Newspaper or paper grocery bags to reduce mess (cover the counter)
  • A plus/minus one cup ladle
  • A long-handled large spoon, wooden or metal
  • A canning funnel, if you have one. Not strictly necessary, but these wide-bottom funnels are inexpensive (get them where you buy your jars or order online if you’ve got the time) and make filling the jars easier. If you don’t have one, don’t sweat it. You can just carefully ladle your jam into the jars.
  • A clean, lint-free dishcloth (the microfiber ones work well)
  • Your jars, still hot from the dishwasher
  • Your metal rings
  • Your flat metal lids, sitting in a pan or bowl of very hot water
  • A bowl containing 3-3/4 cups of granulated (white) sugar
  • A bowl containing 1/4 cup of granulated (white sugar) mixed with the contents of your box of pectin (Sure-Jel)

Now you’re cooking! These last steps go fast, and you can’t stop in the middle of the process, so make sure you won’t be interrupted.

Place your six cups of mashed berries/juice in a very large saucepan (I use my mother-in-law’s old copper-bottomed Revereware dutch oven), along with the sugar-pectin mixture. Give it a good stir and turn up the heat to high. Continue to stir until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil. What that means is that as you continue to stir, the mixture continues to boil. If you stir and the boiling bubbles subside, it’s not there yet.

When you get to the full rolling boil (usually takes about five minutes on my stove), carefully add the rest of the sugar (the 3-3/4 cups) and stir. BE CAREFUL! Working with anything this hot requires caution. Stir the mixture gently until it comes back to a full rolling boil (usually less than five minutes). Now check your watch or the kitchen clock, and boil and stir for exactly one minute, then shut off the burner.

Immediately ladle the hot mixture into one of your jars, leaving about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of space between the level of the fruit and the lip of the jar. Do not fill all the way to the top, and do not leave too much space. Using the lint-free cloth dipped in water and rung out, wipe the lip of the jar. It must be perfectly clean (water droplets are okay) in order to seal. Now place a flat metal lid (shake the water off) on the jar, and screw the metal ring onto that. Immediately turn the jar upside down on the newspaper.

Working quickly, repeat the process until your jars are filled. If you have not quite enough to fill the last jar properly, don’t worry. You will just keep that jar in your fridge and use it first (it’ll probably be gone that same day!). Wait five minutes, then turn your jars right side up and allow them to cool, undisturbed and out of any drafts. Eventually you will hear a satisfying “pop” as the jars seal. In a couple of hours, check your seals by pressing down on the flat metal lid. If there is any play in the lid, your jar may not have sealed and you should put it in the fridge rather than on the pantry shelf.

Caveat: The instructions inside the Sure-Jel package call for you to process the jars in a boiling water bath. This involves setting a rack inside a very large stock pot, filling with water, and boiling the filled, sealed jars of jam for ten or fifteen minutes. Honestly, I don’t do this. The turning-the-jars-upside-down method is an older technique that I’ve been using for years. Strawberries, and other fruits, have a high acid content that naturally inhibits growth of any nasty stuff.

You should make the decision whether to do further processing based on your comfort level. If you’re really worried, you could always just keep your jars in the fridge. They will last a long time.

And that’s it! Ever wanted to try canning? Once you get the hang of it, it’s not scary or intimidating, and the results are so worth it. Let me know if you have any questions about the process. If you’re not interested in canning, tell me about your local farm stand or your favorite place to buy fresh fruits and veggies.