Friday, March 20, 2015

I'm definitely planting potatoes again this year!

Last year I had great success planting potatoes for the first time. Well, it was successful in that I actually got potatoes! It wasn't easy to GET to the potatoes and harvest them though! My garden was pretty dense and trip-worthy.

This year, I've been reading more about container gardening and possibly growing potatoes in a trash can or a chicken wire barrel. It's intriguing to think that you can dump over a container and food will just spill out. But hey, if there's a chance that I could have MORE space in the garden for other plants, and actually get as many potatoes in a container that I would in my garden plot, then it's worth a try I suppose.

I know I've had some success plating tomatoes around a structure, although I know this is a little different. My tomatoes were still free to roam some. How big can the potatoes grow if they're all crowded together in one container? Maybe I should grow smaller seed potatoes in the container so I can get more new potatoes?

mmmmm, new potatoes :) I tried a recipe recently that I can't get enough of called Crash Hot Potatoes. It's a pretty simple recipe and tastes amazing. I've also baked sweet potatoes like this, except I top them with cinnamon and sugar instead. Tasty :)

Anyway, back to the container potatoes... if anyone has ever tried this and had success, I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

I want my canning jar back dangit!

Years ago, I realized I needed to do something to get my sister's attention in order for her to return my mason jars to me. So I made a label that said "I want my jar back dangit!" AND it worked! She returned most of my empties. Back then, she wasn't into canning, so it didn't seem to bother her that she was hoarding my jars. But now that she puts up a TON, she knows how important & cost effective it is to get canning jars returned. Canning jars don't grow on trees, so please return my jars to me!

A common complaint from most canners is how many jars they lose each year to folks who don't return them. Maybe the jar is considered a gift too & that's why people don't return them? Hopefully these labels will make returns a little easier for everyone who wants their jars back :)

These are available in my shop in 4 different sayings in both kraft and vintage paper designs.
I want my jar back dangit!
Return jar for a refill
Return jars to keep me jammin!
Canning jars don't grow on trees, so please return this jar to me!

And of course they will be customized with your name so people know who the jar belongs to!

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!