Friday, April 24, 2015

My first batch of salsa for the year!

We were running drastically low on salsa! I canned about 45 pints and several quarts back in 2013, but my husband is a voracious Salsasorus. He would've run out of stock within a year if he hadn't periodically interspersed store bought salsa throughout this past year.

My sister supplied me with a bunch of hothouse tomatoes and peppers, so I whipped out my salsa recipe and got to work. Of course my preference would be to use homegrown tomatoes from my garden, most likely Romas or Amish Paste tomatoes, but free tomatoes are hard to pass up for salsa. If I was only going to eat the tomatoes and not make salsa, I would've passed on the hothouse variety because they're hard, too perfect looking (which weirds me out), and often flavorless. But once you mix enough tomato paste and seasonings to the salsa, it's not that bad!

So did my salsa actually win an award? No, but that's what the label says, so people will believe it. But it is actually the best salsa recipe I ever tried, and I've tried many recipes. This recipe came from my husband's relative and is made by many people in his family now.
Award Winning Canning Jar Labels can be customized with your own text 
28 pints, 1 quarts, and 1 very happy husband. Yippie!
The Custom Kraft Paper Canning jar labels look good on salsa :)

Download this chart to keep track of the produce that you can this year!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Weddings and Babies, oh my!

When I first started CanningCrafts, I was primarily focused on designing canning jar labels for those who preserved their own food. I couldn't find any nice jar labels for my salsa that I wanted to give away for gifts, so I ended up making my own.

I never once thought about labels for wedding favors! I've actually only been to a couple of weddings and didn't even realize people gave canned jams or honey away as favors. So once I started getting a handful of requests for wedding labels, I knew it should be something that I should expand into.

So now I have plenty of wedding labels available in rustic kraft paper and vintage style designs. I'll also slowly be adding a few more baby shower favors to the mix.

Can be customized with your initials, wedding date, and saying.
Love is Sweet, Spread the Love, Jam Packed With Love, Happily Ever After,
Love Sweet Love, Forever Begins Today, Thank You, Save The Date,
Custom Jam Name (whatever is in your jar, or other custom text)

Oval labels fit perfectly on the Quilted Ball canning jars.

These baby shower canning jar favor labels come in pink, blue, green, or vintage colors.

I found some great new polka dot pastel fabrics and ribbons great for baby shower favors.

I also have a handful of new cottage shabby chic designs. These would work well for baby showers or jams and jellies.
Cottage Chic Flower Canning Jar labels 

Cottage Chic Burlap Canning Jar labels 
Cottage Chic Plaid Canning jar labels 
Cottage Chic Red & Blue Canning jar labels

Friday, April 3, 2015

2015 Garden

It's Tomato time again!!! Yea! I just started some of my tomatoes today. Since I usually have a number of volunteers from the previous year, I decided to scale back a little on the ones I start indoors. It's fun to see which varieties spring forth in the garden, although they usually tend to be cherry tomatoes. One cherry tomato plant is more than enough, but allowing the volunteers to live almost always means we have more than one cherry tomato plant.

My husband's cousin planted around 15 cherry tomato plants in her first garden. I'm not sure if she didn't realize how prolific cherry plants were or if she really just loved them. Near the end of the season, she was certainly sick of them. But she didn't want anything to go to waste, so she actually made salsa with a blue million cherry tomatoes by squeezing each little one out of their skin. That's a lot of work, but her salsa is the best I've ever had, so it was most likely worth it.

I think I finalized my garden plans. I say "think" because I usually chart my bed out, then once it's time for planting, I tend to toss my chart out and throw stuff wherever I want. So much for the planting chart :D

Here's what's going in this year:

  • Scarlet Nantes Carrot
  • Kuroda Long Carrot
  • All American Parsnip (planting this last year, but it didn't take, so I have new seed to try)
  • Red Winter Kale
  • Frisee Endive
  • Salad Blend Lettuce (Black Seeded Simpson, Green & Red Salad Bowl, Marvel of Four Seasons, Bibb)
  • Little Gem Romain Lettuce
  • Green Towers Romain Lettuce
  • Valentine Mesclun Lettuce
  • Rainbow Blend Swiss Chard
  • Amish Paste Tomato
  • Black Krim Tomato
  • Seed Savers Exchange Organic German Butterball Potato from City Folks Farm Shop
  • High Mowing Organic Rose Finn Fingerling Potato
  • Provider or Blue Lake Green Bean
  • Green onions
That sounds like a lot for a a 6' x 16' raised bed. I'll do succession planting for the lettuce and beans, then probably do some carrots in the fall. Hopefully I'll have a little more room in the garden since I'm hoping to plant the potatoes in a trash can so they can grow vertically. 

It's going to be a year for making salsa, so I plan to do at least 10 tomato plants. Amish Paste is a good solid tomato for salsa. Black Krim is the BEST tomato I've ever planted and really beautiful as well. 

A little bit of Endive and Kale goes a long way, so I don't plan to go crazy there. Although I may try to dehydrate my Kale this year to make my own green supplements, so maybe I can sneak in a few more plants than my husband would like.

I haven't planted the Rainbow Chard before, although I've purchased it at the farmer's market a few times. It's almost too pretty to eat. I'm not a "cut flower" kinda person, but I would totally put Rainbow Chard in a vase for a centerpiece. I've always had success with the Rhubard and Fordhook Chards, so I'm optimistic this variety will be a super star in the garden this year.

I can hardly wait for the season to start!!!

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.