Thursday, August 29, 2013

Homemade Concord Grape Jam | Pinterest Thursday | Fayetteville, N.C. Photographer

 Ladies and Gentlemen! Presenting .... Sharilyn Wells Photography's Southern Bell Kitchen!  No, not really ... It's just Pinterest Thursday! Not saying Pinterest Thursday isn't exciting or anything, but I just have been lazy and not actually attempting the pins I've pinned! LOL

Anyway, I FINALLY attempted a pin and I sorta cheated. I pinned it AFTER I picked grapes with my family ... lol. I had to figure out what to do with the 4 pounds of grapes my son and husband picked since when I tried the purple concord grape I almost spit it out. (of course I didn't because I didn't want my son not liking the grapes just because I didn't -- there's something about that tough outside skin and the mushy inside. Blah).

 First, look at my cutie and his bunch of grapes! He was having a blast snipping away at the vines at Millstone Creek Orchards. We picked apples a year or two ago here and loved it ... so we came back for grapes and more apples ... we wanted peaches too, but they were already picked over. Oh well, next year!

Four pounds of grapes, can you believe it?! I was so pumped to just eat them, but I've never had concord grapes before and well, I am not a fan of just popping them in my mouth and eating them. So, we washed them, I pinned a simple recipe from Chef In You  (Pinned HERE) and we made delicious grape jam! And here's how we did it:
Basic Information
Prep Time: Under 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min to 1 hour 
  • 4 lbs ripe Concord Grapes
  • 4 cups Sugar
My assistant for the afternoon ... I love him. (missed focus on him, but he still looks adorable).

1) First we washed the grapes in cold water in a strainer.

2) We then had to squeeze all the insides out of the skin. Pretty gross visual ... son said it looked like alien brains ... I say they looked like boogers ... either way, it wasn't a pretty visual. But, it had to be done.

(My son and I wore gloves so that we wouldn't dye our hands purple/pink from the skins.)

3) Make sure to set aside the skins for later use. The skins are what give the jam a purple tint ... and I 'think' the sweetness ... but I'm not expert on that.

4) In about 30 minutes (me gagging and my son complaining it was boring) all 4 pounds of grapes were skin less and into a huge pot. Next, you need to bring the skinless grapes to a boil. You want them dissolved and REALLY mushy --  I mean, more mushy than ever!

5) Next, you want to pour the mushy grapes into a strainer and mush it through into another bowl. This ensures that you have no seeds in your jam. (If you pick/buy seedless grapes, I'm assuming this part can be skipped.

6) Pour the seedless mush back into your pot and then pour in the skins.

7) Bring to a boil, stir occasionally.

8) This is when you add your other ingredient ... SUGAR. I'm sure you could do without or substitute it with something else, but I followed the recipe to a "T" and didn't deviate (which is unusual for me LOL). Any way, the recipe called for 4 cups of sugar, she used 3. I had an extra pound of grapes than her, so I used 4 cups.

You want to warm the sugar in the oven at 150 degrees for like ... 4 minutes, just enough to warm it. I put it on a cookie sheet and placed in oven. Pull out sugar from oven and in cups, slowly stir in the sugar as the grapes boil (should be a "rolling boil").

9) Continue stirring constantly until jam is thick. The recipe has great tips on how to tell if the jam is ready or not ... I used the fridge test:

"Keep a plate in the freezer and remove it when I want to test. I then pour a small amount of the boiling jelly/jam on this plate and let it sit in the fridge for few seconds. If the mixture gels /mounds and wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it's done. If runny and it does not have a body to it, then continue to cook the jam for few more minutes until it clears the nudge test."
It took me about 40-45 minutes for my jam to be ready. I think it could'av been done earlier but I wanted to make sure those skins were mostly dissolved! LOL

10) Now comes the part I was a little nervous about ... the canning process. I've never canned before but guess what, Chef In You has an awesome canning blog about it as well! Look HERE. (Scroll to the bottom for the process).

I sterilized the jars in the dishwasher and as they were still warm, I funneled in the HOT jam. Watch your hands! You will burn them!

11) Once the jars are full, place lid on top and flip it upside down. I dunno why ... I just follow the directions. (I found that when I flipped them, the jar wasn't all the way full. I dunno how to fix that ... You guys have suggestions?)

12) With jars still HOT, boil another pot of water and place inside. This is the sealing process. I don't have a canner and didn't plan on buying one for my first attempt at canning. I mean, how did our ancestors do it without a specialized canner?! LOL That's why I loved this blog!

13) VERY carefully pull out the jars after about 5-7 minutes. Don't leave in too long or your jam will become soupy ... but leave in long enough so that the lids seal. I just left in for 5 minutes and made sure the lids didn't pop when pushed down. I used an opened jar lid to feel the difference. I also used a rubber, clapper looking oven mitt to grab the jars out of the water. I tried thongs ... but that was a disaster waiting to happen. I placed on a cookie cooler for about 3 hours to set.

14) I placed one in the fridge and the others in my pantry. The web site says they should last 4-6 months if sealed correctly ... but I don't see me going through that much jam. The neighbors may be getting nice homemade concord grape jam for Christmas this year ;-)

This recipe only has two ingredients, but wow! This jam is awesome! It's nice and sweet and *gasp* my son actually enjoys eating it (he's not a jelly/jam person).


Don't forget to:
Follow Me on Pinterest

*** Please remember that all images are copyrighted to Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. Please do not copy or alter any images without SWP, LLC consent. ***

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Belly | Maternity | Fayetteville, N.C. Photographer

My belly is growing day to day ... this was taken a while I was 29 weeks ... I'm 35 now. I'd like to say I'm keeping up with my growing belly ... and I was ... but I've slowed down the bigger I get. LOL!

Most of my images have been on Instagram, so if you follow me on Instagram and you're REALLY curious about how big I'm getting, you'll find all sorts of baby bumps on there. You'll also see some really cool images of the nursery ... well, what we have so far.

We decided not to find out the sex of the baby this time. We have a boy already ... so... I'm just saying. LOL I didn't know planning for a baby (without knowing the sex) was so difficult! I can't buy any clothes unless their REAL gender neutral. (I'm not a fan of the green and yellow outfits.) Planning the nursery was sorta difficult and buying the gear ... well, it's fun, but I'd LOVE to buy a pink car seat or stroller. But alas, this is what I've chosen and I don't regret it. I think the surprise on birth day will be all worth it.

People just stare at me in amazement when I tell them I don't know the answer to the second most popular question I get asked ... "What are you having?" (The first most popular, "When are you due?"). Today's society is soooo used to being handed everything to them and knowing the gender of your unborn child is one of them. After the gasps and "I don't know how you do it." I do, every so often, get "That is sooo cool." Yeah, I think it's awesome. I just want the lil' bugger to get here! I wanna hold him or her ... plus, I'm tired of feeling like a beached whale when I lay down. ;-)

***Do not copy, save or alter these images without the expressed permission of Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.***

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wild Things | Creative Shoot | Fayetteville, N.C. Photographer

So, I haven't been shooting much lately. I had LOTS of energy the beginning of this pregnancy, but now ... ugh. Is it October yet?! LOL BUT I've had this shoot on my mind for a while now and I luckily have friends who were willing to help me make my idea come to life.

Yep, that's a wolf ... well, technically it's a dog ... but it's a wolf hybrid. How awesome is this dog?! LOL He is just gorgeous and this family has three of them! Any way, I had this idea of a lil' boy living among the wolf pack ... Ta-da! ;-) The family not only had a wolf, but a lil' boy too! LOL How cute are they together?!

Now, with all young boys, I knew he was going to tucker out on me ... and I THOUGHT the dog would too, but he was killing it for those hot dogs we were bribing him with ... (metaphorically speaking. No one was harmed during this photoshoot) LOL

But guess what?! The family's eldest daughter ... she had a Little Red Riding Hood outfit. Um, how could we NOT shoot this as well!?

This image a lil' oil painting feel to it to give it the "story book" feel.

And then of course, here's one of the pup himself ... "existing" in the wild. LOL! (Of course there was much more to this photo than the eye can see here ... but if you look below, you'll see that the wolf was on a leash the whole time and like I said ... super friendly. Of course he likes his "people!"

***Do not copy, save or alter these images without the expressed permission of Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.***

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Benevolent | Creative Challenge | Fayetteville, N.C. Photographer

In one of the Facebook groups I'm in I was challenged to photograph the meaning of a word. I was given Benevolent.

According to Google: 
adjective: benevolent
well meaning and kindly.
"a benevolent smile"
kind, kindly, kindhearted, big-hearted, good-natured, good, benign, compassionate, caring, altruistic, humanitarian, philanthropic
I based my concept off the The Benevolent Bhagwan Shri Ganesha in Indian Culture.


So, I came up with my concept. I am a mother. I protect my family, I love my family, I feed my family, and I financially support my family. :-) 

You wanna see a before and after? I was hot, getting bitten by ants and I was grumpy. LOL But my edit came out pretty darn cool if you ask me! ;-)

***Do not copy, save or alter these images without the expressed permission of Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.***

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Little Marine | OpLove: Already Gone | Fayetteville, N.C. Photographer

I was super excited about this OpLove session. First, it was a Marine family. Second, they came all the way from Camp Lejune just to have ME take their pictures! Hello?! No pressure right? Even dad is a military combat photographer! Gah! Well, We got some awesome candid shots for daddy who's deployed and CANNOT wait to hear how he likes them. He's baby boy sure did give me a run for my money! Heavy on the run! ;-)

He was just fascinated by the fountains at Veterans Park, downtown Hay Street. I love this park for OpLove, it's just the feeling of walking around and knowing this was made to honor those gals and guys who have gave so much to this country ... and still do. I just love it.

At the end of the shoot ... or rather lil' man telling us he was done ... Mom and I did a little shoot for her man. Gorgeous right?!

 To learn more about OpLove, visit HERE.

The photos and other content of this publication do not imply any endorsement or recommendation by the Department of Defense.

***Do not copy, save or alter these images without the expressed permission of Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.***

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Film Project | Creative | Fayetteville, N.C. Photographer

The last weekend in July, I got to be the guinea pig, per-say, in a fellow photographer and friend's film project. William Harris of Darkroom Portraits is starting a film mentoring project to help photographers get back to the root of photography, called Digital to Film Project.  I jumped at the opportunity because well, I've always had an interest in film but could never get a darn roll to come out right. LOL! (See HERE of other film shoots I've attempted) So, with William's help, I was finally able to achieve a share-worthy film roll!

Here are some of my favorites: (a special thanks to the beautiful and patient, Patricia Dudley, the model for our session!)

The above image is my favorite! It just came out so crisp. It really surprised me and made me want to see what else I can do with film. (I just need to get a roll in the camera and go for it!)

Camera used was a Mamiya 645 with HP5+ film. I can't tell you much about the film, but William will be able to. You should check out his blog about the session HERE  (a lil' interview with me as well) and HERE (his images). Oh, and contact him to be a part of his Digital to Film Project as well! :-)

Another favorite above. I think I dig the close ups because of the rawness and crispness (if those are even words to use) of the images. Plus, Patricia has gorgeous eyes! Kinda made me kick myself for not using color film! LOL

We shot at Gillis Hill Farms. The place is gorgeous and open to the public for tours of the farm and just relaxing. I highly recommend the family checking out the livestock and maybe having a picnic there. It's like $3 or something to get in ... not a bad family outing. (Photographers have to pay a lil' more if they plan to shoot there.) Plus, they have homemade ice cream. We definitely stopped in to buy some ice cream after the hot and muggy shoot! :-)

I seriously had a blast with both William and Patricia and look forward to other creative (and film) shoots in the future. I have the "bug" now! LOL!

** Please remember that all images are copyrighted to Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. Please do not copy or alter any images without SWP, LLC consent. ***