Friday, February 20, 2015

Grow it, Can it, EAT it!

Oh, what did we do before Pinterest? I suppose everyone went to the library to gather resources and reference materials, but that was mostly pre-internet. The internet has made it super easy to compile information on just about everything food and garden related. But Pinterest makes it so much more FUN too!

Now that I've quit my full time design job to run my Etsy shop and do freelance design and illustration,  I've been on Pinterest a lot. Hey, I'm doing market research & stuff, not just pinning dog memes. I've been compiling a Pinterest board with a bunch of good canning recipes to try, the best plant varieties, and different gardening tips and tricks. There's soooo much eye candy, take a look!

I have a pretty basic goal list for CanningCrafts this year:

  • I'll be making a bigger effort to keep my blog updated with my garden plans & new recipes I try.
  • I'm definitely getting a website. I've had the domain name for years, it's about time. I recently built a WordPress site for my art endeavors. And while it was far from fun, I managed to do it pretty much all by myself. So doing a new website should be pretty easy.
  • I want to setup at craft shows and farmer's markets! Planning my setup has been fun, but I have a ways to go before I'll be ready. 
  • I'm in the process of developing a bunch of new gifts-in-jars sets for my shop. These have been a big hit, especially during the holidays. I've had requests for scones, pancakes, breads & more! So far, I've added a brownie jar set to my shop! 
And of course I'll have plenty of time to design new canning jar labels. I've added about 60 new designs since the end of last year. It's amazing how much work you can get done when your "side" job becomes your full time job, and you don't have to cram everything in on the weekends.

Double Chocolate Brownies, ooh la la! They are super rich & fudgy!

Brownie mason jar gifts include a recipe card for how to pack the
jars, stickers, cloth toppers, ribbons, baking hang tags, and a shopping list to
make it easy to gather all the ingredients to make 12 jars.
These gingham cloth topper and hang tag sets decorate 6 jars!
They're available in red and blue. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Very Chipotle Christmas

We eat at Chipotle A LOT... too much? No, I don't think you can eat at Chipotle too much. I saved all of our bags last year to create cool Christmas wrapping paper and gift bags because I hate waste. Now we take our old bag into Chipotle for refills so we don't have to use their new bags. Maybe they'll start giving bag credits one day ;)

The bags already have a ton of awesome art on them, so all I really did was draw red and green doodles. Then I used receipts for name tags.

The gingham ribbons are actually scrap cloth I have leftover from cutting cloth toppers for canning jars for my Etsy shop. I buy fabric by the bolt, so I always have about 10 yards of the edge material left. For years I threw it away. But then one day I wondered if I could do anything with it, and it dawned on me that I could repurpose it into ribbon. The edge of most fabric is a bit rustic looking, so it works really well with the kraft paper bags.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Christmas canning jar labels and name tags

I've been a busy little elf creating lots of new Christmas mason canning jar labels. All of these new designs are in the Etsy shop now. Some are on Kraft paper stickers and others are on the vintage paper background.

I've had many requests for oval canning jar labels that work with the Ball quilted style jam jars, so I'm just now adding some of those to the shop. I'll be adding my more popular designs in the oval style throughout the rest of this year.

These retro green oval name tag stickers can also be customized with your name.
You can add your jam name with a pre-printed date of have a
standard to/from name tag label with your name pre-printed. 

Ribbon is pre-cut in 21" pieces—the perfect size for tying bows around your jars. 

Spaghetti Sauce with Eggs

Growing up, my sister and I always thought my Grandma made the BEST spaghetti sauce. I think this hurt my mom's feeling's a little since she thought her sauce was better than her mom's. It was an incredibly simple recipe—a seasoning packet, tomato paste, feta cheese, wine, anise seeds, and eggs. WHAT? Anise seed... and eggs?? Most people aren't sure which is more weird.

Over the years, my mom would get a kick out of telling people about how she hardboiled eggs in her sauce. Most people would naturally turn their noses up which forced my mom to prove them wrong by cooking up a batch of sauce & eggs just so they could taste it. And I can say that 100% of the people who tried the eggs LOVED them. Every time my mom cooked eggs, she would reserve a few for my band teacher & janitor! They were giddy when we came to school with a food container for them.

In college, I remember telling my husband about how awesome the sauce was. We paid a visit to my Grandma so I could get her recipe. She was one of those cooks who didn't measure ingredients, which made it hard for me to jot down the recipe as I watched her cook. She used the same cookware for over 50 years, so she would judge ingredients based on the markings in the pot!

Over the years I tweaked her recipe, so it's more complicated than how she used to make it. And I'm not sure how well it matches in the taste department either since the last time I had her sauce was over 18 years ago. I want to think it's better, but I also still want her sauce to be the best out of nostalgia.

The recipe can be made without the eggs. If I don't have an hour to cook the sauce, I'll usually just omit them. But I'd rather not eat spaghetti without eggs if it can be avoided. I usually crush the garlic in a press because I love how it smells. I'll add a whole bulb sometimes. My father-in-law would say you can never have TOO much garlic. Grandma used red wine in her sauce, but I use sparkling white wine...the cheapest I can find. It's the wine on the bottom shelf all the way at the end of the aisle. We're talking a few dollars a bottle. I don't drink, but I imagine this stuff is pretty bad as a beverage. We dubbed it hobo juice in our house.

I'm not sure if this was just a family recipe or if it's an Italian thing... we've never heard of anyone else cooking sauce with eggs. My recipe card is below. If you try the recipe & like it, I'd love to hear from you! And if you're family ever made eggs in sauce growing up, I'd love to hear about that too. Just post in the comments below.

ooohh... fresh eggs from my sister's hens!
Father-in-law would think this isn't enough garlic,
but you can add as much as you want.

Monday, September 22, 2014

My pumpkins! ARGHH! My Tailbone, uhhhg

I didn't want pumpkins in my garden, but once I realized what was going on, it was too late to stop them. They took over. But once I had them, I was kind of excited. I was thinking of different pumpkins I could carve or ways to decorate the front of the house with them. So since they choked out other plants in my garden, I tried to look on the bright side & think, "Well, at least I'll have some pretty pumpkins." Not so.

At first I noticed a few small gourds had gnaw marks on them, perhaps from a field mouse. I didn't get too concerned. But then I saw marks on the larger pumpkins. That's always the most frustrating thing... there's plenty of food in the garden, but the varmint tends to be drawn to the biggest, nicest looking veggie, only to take one bite, ruin it, then move on. The biggest pumpkin now has crater sized bite marks out of it.

I had dozens of small decorative gourds that were almost all ruined...the seeds were spilled all over the garden. I tried to scoop up some of them, but I imagine I'll have hundreds of gourd volunteers next year. I had harvested a few early for a photoshoot, so the ones left in the garden were free for the taking I suppose.

Oh, and when I was stepping over my electric fence to get a closer look at Pumpkingeddon, my pant leg got caught on a post, I lost my footing, and fell super hard onto the edge of the raised garden bed...right on my tailbone. I'm wondering if my tailbone is broken since it's been several weeks & it's still sore. My sister once broke her tailbone & it was sore for over a month. Her doctor shrugged & said there wasn't anything he could do for it. Apparently you just need to take it easy in order for it to heal.

It's still technically the biggest pumpkin in my garden. 

The pumpkins I salvaged still have a few nicks, but at least I got a few!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pumpkins, and Potatoes, and More Pumpkins... oh my

I've mentioned a handful of times that my garden was a little out of control with volunteer pumpkins. That issue completely overshadowed the fact that I planted potatoes for the first time. I was excited when I put the seed potatoes in the ground because I wasn't sure what to expect. Growing up my family only planted potatoes a handful of times & it never worked out very well. I remember using a pitchfork to dig them up & spearing more than a few.

My dad mentioned we had issues with the seed potatoes rotting & that there were ways to avoid that when planting. I researched a few ways to plant spuds, but in the end, I kinda just threw them in the ground. Sometimes I over plan, get overwhelmed, then just wing it :D

I have only dug up a few plants so far, but we've gotten a bunch of really nice, large potatoes.  I thought maybe there would be more potatoes, but the pumpkins really did take over, so they probably hogged all the nutrients. I know several potato plants were consumed & covered by the pumpkin vines, so I doubt much will come from half of the plants.

Next on my garden cleanup agenda is to remove some of the gourds. Something got into a few of them, and seeds are spilling everywhere. I don't think I'll let a volunteer plant take over again next year, so the last thing I want is hundreds of seeds just sitting in the soil plotting their next takeover :D

The pumpkins were fun to watch grow & take over the fence though. We have gourds on both sides of the fence & they are actually still blooming. It's interesting that the plant mostly seemed to be producing the small decorative gourds, but a few of them are quite large like an actual carving pumpkin. I would have assumed that all of them would be the same small gourds.

Pumpkins on both sides of the fence...hope the neighbors don't mind. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Christmas Jam Jar Cloth Covers, Kraft paper wedding labels and ribbons

I've been a busy bee trying to get all of my Christmas items prepped for the season, but I wanted to squeeze in a few new labels designs before the end of the year.

New to my Etsy shop are my existing wedding jar labels printed on Kraft paper. You can have your names and wedding or shower date printed with either "Spread the Love" or "Love is Sweet." Kraft paper labels are only available in the 2" size right now.

A great match for the wedding labels is a set of rustic lace precut ribbons to wrap around jars. You get jute twine, lace, and fringed ribbon to decorate your wedding or shower favor jars. Of course they would look great for any other occasion too.

Pumpkin Butter, yum! I thought I had volunteer zucchini plants in my garden this year, but it turned out to be gourds and pumpkins. So the little orange guys in the photos took over my garden and strangled all of my tomato plants. Boo. But they do look pretty, yea!

I added 2 new Christmas jam jar covers. Red Chevron would be great for jams and jellies. White Snowflake is printed with gold metallic inks, so it looks really fantastic, especially with red ribbon or jute twine.

Pumpkin Butter canning jar sticker...just in time for Fall
I unwillingly grew these little gourds :) 
Spread the Love and Love is Sweet Kraft Paper wedding favor jar labels
This label looks really good with jute twine and muslin cloth toppers also sold in my shop 
Rustic lace and linen ribbon set is precut in 12 pieces to make decorating easy

Red Chevron fancy cloth jam jar covers will be great for Christmas gifts 
White Christmas Snowflake cloth jar covers are printed with metallic ink