A Day in the Life


So yesterday I was in the midst of a huge blackberry jam-making session. I made regular blackberry jam, then I made blackberry-brandy jam, then I really got on my high horse and made spiced blackberry-rum jam. And I was thinking about whether if I just sat down and ate all the jam at once, would I get drunk? My mind is occupied with very philosophical things all the time. Then somebody came to the front door.

They were driving this car.

Which I instantly decided should be mine.

Although I think Coco wanted it, too.

But aside from the fact that the car was way too cool to be on this road, I know what it means when strangers come to the door. Strangers have come to the door exactly twice since I moved in here and both times they were here to complain about 17, who drives too fast and makes too much noise and is too much of a teenage boy. (Nothing makes you more popular when you move in somewhere than to bring teenage boys with you. I try! He’s a teenage boy!!!)

And so, of course, I was not eager to go to the door. Since 52 was on the front porch at the time, I decided he could intercept the latest memo to the complaint department and I would finish making my last batch of jam. I’d just started working on the first boil. I noticed he was taking a long time out there and I thought, wow, this must be some complaint! But wild horses couldn’t have dragged me out there. Besides, I was working on jam and I hadn’t even had a shower. It was only noon! I do anything involving sweat or grime before noon. I don’t take showers that early! People are lucky if I’m wearing pants by then, and it just so happened I was. (Miracle!)

Thirty minutes later when I was about done with the jam, 52 came inside and said, “That’s Jerry Waters out there. He came here to meet you.”

If you are not from West Virginia, Jerry Waters is a retired radio talk show host and photographer for the Charleston newspapers as well as a founder of Bridge Day (a huge event in this state).

Oh, sure. So totally my life. A well-known person in West Virginia media comes to my house and I totally ignore them for thirty minutes and I haven’t had a shower. However! Not to be deterred by MY LIFE, I scampered out to the porch and shook his hand with my blackberry-stained fingers. Then I showed him around the farm like I was guiding him through exhibits at the World’s Fair.

“Behold Spartacus the chicken! Behold Coco the giant puppy! Behold Clover the goat!”

And then this man, who is actually a professional photographer, took pictures of my farm animals. (He also took the above picture of me showing him the chickens.)

I think Clover was impressed with his camera. Or maybe that was the cookies I handed him to give her. (He took this picture of Clover, too.)

Then I gave him a jar of fresh jam and he drove away in his very cool car and I went inside to take a shower. And I thought, I oughta put pants on more often.


  1. Kim A. says:

    An entire 30 minutes? I hope you gave him some of the brandy and/or rum-laced jam, Suzanne. 😆

    So, what publicity are you getting out this?

    As for wearing pants….That’s overrated. :rotfl:

    -Kim A.

  2. Cat says:

    So, will your farm/blog be featured in the Charleston newspapers?

  3. jane says:

    And you thought no one knew the road to your farm!!! I am sending you all out there cake in a jar recipes. these are great gifts and for craft sales too. Spice Cake In A Jar

    2/3 c shortening 3 1/3 c flour
    2 2/3 c sugar 1/2 tsp baking powder
    2 cups applesauce 1 1/2 tsp salt
    2/3 c water 1 tsp cloves
    4 eggs 1 tsp cinnamon
    2/3 c chopped nuts 2 tbs baking soda

    cream shortening and sugar; add applesauce, water and eggs and mix well. mix dry ingredients in another bowl and add to first mixture. add nuts or raisins if desired.

    spray clean wide mouth pint jars with Pam or other spray. Fill each about 1/2 full. this will make 6-8 jars. bake at 325 for 40-45 min. Check at 35. remove jars one at a time and quickly screw the lid and ring on each one. let set until ready to eat. Date these bec they last about a year. great gift ideas.

    if you go to gifts in a jar on the internet there are more recipes for jars. I love it.

    keep us informed as to what this all means for you and if there is an article or something. I would love to taste you blackberry jams. the animals looked like they were having a fun morning with the guests too

  4. Carolyn A. says:

    Suzanne you looked fine. Wish I looked as good after sweating most of the morning. Was that actually a smile on Miss Clover’s face? Did she let him touch her magic udder? You are a lucky lucky girl. xxoo

  5. Suzanne McMinn says:

    No, this wasn’t about an article or anything. I believe he’s retired.

  6. Jerry says:

    Suzaane, it was a delight meeting you. I now feel more famous than the 10 years I spent on radio! (seriously). I really envy people who can do what you’ve done, and then on top of that, be gracious to perfect strangers. I’m saving the jam as one might save a trophy! :thumbsup:

  7. Jerry says:

    Spell check! Spell check! Hahaha! :rotfl:

  8. happyathome says:

    It makes you think about when you are still in your pajamas at 11am, you never know who will come to the door! Nice picture of clover!

  9. Blaze says:

    :mrgreen: WOW!
    You never know who will show turn up on your front porch.

    And hey spiffy new pictures of the goats to boot!

  10. Katharina says:

    Doubly blessed. Showed up at your front door and in your comments. WOO-HOO! Congratulations, Suzanne. We would all show up at your front door if we could. Just to rock on the pie porch, rub Coco’s speckled tummy and watch the goats.

  11. Fannie M Wiggins says:

    Jerry sure doesn’t look old enough to be retired. That is one great car he drives. Wow. It was good to have him validate all you have worked so hard for.(not that you needed it). The cake in a jar sounds delish. As does the jam. There are some seriously talented people who visit here. Have a great day and :hug: to all.

  12. wkf says:

    So if we drive to your house you’ll give us jam? :flying:

  13. Shari C says:

    Wow! So very cool! Are you and your jam going to be famous now…especially the blackberry rum jam and blackberry brandy jam…sounds really good.

    I agree, that is a really neat car.

  14. Suzette says:

    Hmmmm….loving the car, while trying to figure out how he found you. Did someone put a sign out on the main road that says, “This way for free jam!” ??? However it happened, it sounds as if you’ve made a new friend. Welcome to the farm, Jerry! You’ll love it here.

  15. kacey says:

    Man, I’m coming by to get some of that jam!! That was one sweet car… very cool he stopped by. Not that I’m for people just stopping by, it bugs me. But cool that he did.

  16. J says:

    :shimmy: :rockon: :bananadance: whoot whoot He must have smelled the jam and followed the scent to your door :mrgreen:

  17. Gail says:

    Sounds like a guest spot on “Oprah” may not be far off. Just think, she’ll serve everyone in the audience a slice of your Grandmother bread with Blackberry Brandy jam! That’s one show I would trek to Chicago to go see…or better yet, it will be filmed in Stringtownand the audience will be all of your blog fans! Can you share with us how you add the alcohol in the jam and still get it to set up?

  18. heidi says:

    I had to laugh at your description of your showering schedule( as I sit here in my jammies and fill my morning with “to dos”
    to finish before my midday shower.) As for pants- they are overrated unless you need to interact with strangers!

  19. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Gail, I added one cup of brandy for the Blackberry-Brandy jam and I added it right in with the blackberries and the pectin (before the step where you add the sugar). I did the same thing with the Spiced Blackberry-Rum jam. I added one cup of rum, along with 1/2 cup of ground cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of ground cloves, right in with the blackberries in the first step. It was much thicker, because of the ground cinnamon, but once I got it to a boil and added the sugar, it went to the consistency of regular jam by the second boil. I’m thinking maybe I should add the ground cinnamon and cloves along with the sugar instead of in the first step. I’m going to experiment with that next time. The jam came out fine, but it was just difficult to deal with in the first step because it was so thick, that’s all. I think it might be easier to deal with adding the cinnamon and cloves during the second step. In either case, adding the alcohol in the first step works great! It set up just fine.

  20. Lora says:

    Wow, Suzanne! That was an experience. Glad you had your pants on and were doing something farmish when he came to call.
    I think Spartacus needs the car. I sort of picture Coco in a pink cadillac convertable with Clover in the back seat…strictly a girls day out, sun glasses and nail polish, ears flying.

  21. Kim W says:

    That’s SO cool! If an article DOES come from this, you’ll have to be sure to put up the link.

    Blessings from Ohio…

  22. Jill S. says:

    I’m so proud you were wearing pants.

  23. Maureen says:

    Wow! You and the animals are famous.

  24. Beckynsc says:

    Glad you had your pants on, Suzanne! That could have been a recipe for disaster, having an unexpected famous visitor show up to take pictures.

  25. Nancy says:

    Thank goodness; I thought I was the only one who didn’t shower and get dressed before noon!!! Of course, in my case it’s because I’m hanging with my computer. Emma, my cat, :purr: usually decides when it’s time for me to quit playing around and get serious about the day…. so glad you had interesting unexpected company!

  26. Donna says:

    First of all, I LOVE the picture of Princess with Coco – that Coco is so PRECIOUS and notice how Princess’ shirt says “Cohort” – she is a Cohort to Coco frolicking and playing! LOL

    Wow, that was a nice little surprise Suzanne! As exciting as that is, maybe one day you can install a gate with an intercom – so visitors can’t show up unannounced – at least you would have TIME, if nothign else to put on pants. LOL I am just thankful that 52 was there, and it was not a visit from the people that suffed your gate lock with wood chips, kind of thing.

    Yet, how exciting and all the little farm crittes look sooooo adorable in all the pictures – Dukie at the chicken gate is so precious and then all of them together are so cute!!!

    Your jams sound DIVINE and you know what I do with my mother in laws jam, if I am out of ice cream topping???? Yes! I put it on the ice cream – that Blackberyy spiced Rum jam would be a nice treat on say ice cream on top of your chocolate lava cake. Can’t you just taste that now???? Or on the blackberry crumble!!! That photographer sure got a nice gift, for coming unanounced!!!!!

    I see great things coming for Stringtown Rising! Who knows, even Turtle lady may end up brown nosing you! :mrgreen:

    I sure know about teen boys – I have three teen nephews – no, make that 5, including both sides of our family. I love them to death!

  27. Crystal B. says:

    How cool.
    I bet your jam is good.

  28. mary beth says:

    You’re life is just too cool. Thanks for sharing it, Suzanne. 🙂

  29. Judy Clear says:

    How do you get blackberry stains off your fingers? I feel like I have to explain to every young Wal-mart clerk that”my fingers aren’t really dirty, it’s just blackberry juice…no really,I picked a gallon of wild blackberries last night…really, I have the chigger bites to prove it. See right here,they’re itch’in me to death…Oh never mind!” Just found your site and I love it.
    Miss Judy

  30. Suzanne McMinn says:

    I don’t know–my fingers are still stained! I just wait for it to wear off.

  31. Jyl says:

    Isn’t it funny how when you live in the middle of nowhere getting dressed goes WAY down on the priority list? I have been caught still in my jammies many times…and I end up telling people that if they were willing to come this far without calling first then they just have to sit and wait for me to get presentable.

  32. Jean says:

    Great picture of Clover! You could offer some of your jam as a prize next time you pick a random comment. I’m trying to get my daughter to move to Stringtown – so far, no luck.

  33. Blaze says:

    Lava soap might get the stains off your skin.
    Though it might actually just take off some of the skin..but either way no stains!

  34. Jennifer Robin says:

    This post just cracked me up, you sound so much like me. I was thinking the same thing about pants just the other day. Living out in the boonies the way I do, showering and getting dressed is not always highest on the priority list for the day, but inevitably, the day you have not yet “gotten your pants on” 😮 is the day someone comes calling! :shocked:

  35. Tori Lennox says:

    Hey, y’know Katie Holmes was going around with purple hands for awhile. I bet SHE wasn’t making blackberry jam. *g*

  36. JenniferB says:

    Hey, pants are only for the weak. Well, I give in, I’m wearing pants ’cause my SIL is here and I don’t give free shows. I hope you have a great day and continue to tell us all about it!

  37. Susan says:


    I love your site. I read it all of the time. I am going through similiar situations. I am divorced after 26 years. My children are grown. I am living in my Grandparents home, trying to live a simplier life. I got baby chicks, day old, in March. I have my first eggs today. I am so excited! I just wanted you to know. That might give you some idea as to how soon you might expect to gather eggs. Life is good!


  38. Shimmy Mom says:

    lol, I never shower before noon either!

  39. Donna says:

    Here is the Thumbpring Cookie recipe for that wonderful jam you make. It’s out of my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookie book:
    Thumbprint Cookies
    1/2 cup shortening (part butter or marg.)
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1 egg, seperated
    1/2 tsp. vanilla
    1 cup flour
    1/4 tsp. salt
    3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (you get to use your hammer Suzanne)
    jelly or jam
    Heat oven to 350. Mix shortening, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. Sift flour. Blend flour and salt; stir in. Roll dough into balls (1 tsp. per ball). Beat egg white slightly with fork. Dip balls in egg white. Roll in nuts. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet; press thumb gently in center of each. Bake 10-12 min. or until set. Cool. Fill with jam or jelly. Makes about 3 doz.

    They look like little birds nests and are so cute. We made them some around Christmas.

  40. Cama says:

    Well, that’s the way it goes! Company always shows up at my door on the mornings when I decide to sleep in, get in the shower or just want to be lazy. Just to let you know, you look great in your picture! I never manage to look put together when company arrives on short notice.

  41. Jean S says:

    I have to say I love the pictures of Coco and the goats. That would be so awsome to wake up to everyday.

  42. Bertie says:

    Makin jelly without pants could get dangerous! Glad you had your “bases” covered!

  43. Patty says:

    I love reading about your life. Sounds like it’s never boring! You’re getting more famous every day! I want Jerry’s car too.
    I read the Pesky Coco post to my family and they wanted to hear more. My kids love the pictures and the little stories.
    Oh, and I saw your tweet about having to get up early for football practice. Our first day of school here is Thursday. 4 giant over-stuffed backpacks are already piled up by the front door. I want summer back too!

  44. Susan says:

    Suzanne, you are famous! :shimmy: The the picture of Princess with Coco is terrific.

  45. sunnid755 says:

    ah, teenage boys, there’s nothing like it. Nice car coming down that road, glad it wasn’t wet and muddy. Love the pics of giant puppy and goats. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and I hope the jams turn out good.

  46. Estella says:

    A shower at noon is better than no shower at all.

  47. Egghead says:

    How fun was that? Jam, a famous visitor, cute animals, no complaining about 17 and you were wearing pants. You are so funny.

  48. Brandy says:

    Too cool! Sounds like you fascinated him enough to visit you! *G*

  49. Veggie Mom says:

    Wow–you’re a celeb AND you can make your own jam? I’m mighty impressed! BTW, Uncle Lynn has given me the go-ahead to do another Great Pop’rs Giveaway–it kicks off tomorrow, so please tune in!

  50. kens_jewl says:

    I think its so funny when you speak of wearing pants…cause i’m the same way…usually just running arouns in a long t-shirt. I was making cranberry-jalepeno jam the other day, very simple recipe out of “Canning for Dummies” book. I miss my goats and milking is easy, just relax.

  51. Kathy R says:

    You should have just given him some of your photos. They are better than his.

  52. DeeBee says:

    How cool! What’s it like to have someone deliberately stop by your house just to MEET you? I can’t imagine, but I think it’s awesome for you.

  53. catslady says:

    We’re going to be able to say “we knew her when…” :mrgreen:

    Donna, I make the same cookies except I use almond extract instead of the vanilla.

  54. Donna says:

    catslady…that sounds good. I’ll have to try that!

  55. Jerry says:

    “You should have just given him some of your photos. They are better than his.”

    Now THAT I agree with! :yes:

  56. Suzanne McMinn says:

    I gotta try those cookies!

    And, aww, thank you, but that photo of Clover is awesome! She is a primadonna now, LOL.

  57. Jake says:

    Happens every time.

    Get showered, dressed, make-up and hair perfect and nary a soul will come to the door. The day you decide to clean house with your hair pushed back on top and sticking straight up…Everyone comes to visit! LOL!

    If I want company…I don’t shower and clean house.

    If I don’t want company…I get dressed.


    Suzanne ~ You are already famous You write absolutely wonderful books. Now you are expanding your horizons in an absolutely wonderful way. You go girl!!! :thumbsup:

    Love all the pic’s.

  58. tom says:

    OK I jumped the gun we did do a story on ya, on my birthday none the less. But not to worry I’ll link ya.

  59. Carole says:

    I also have a son that most neighbors complain about his driving or the sound of the car, so I would have probably done the same thing. I am also sitting at the computer in the afternoon, not having even put a hairbrush through my hair yet…but I have fed the chickens!

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