Friday, September 7, 2012

Sharing some exciting news and celebrating my return!

I am not going to get too excited, who knows how long I'll be able to get in to post, but as long as I have access I'll try to keep posting! I was so shocked when I was able to get logged in last night, I almost fell out of my chair!!!

Things have been busy, busy, busy with my Etsy shop the last few months. I have made custom orders for eight events since my last post. I feel such joy and honor to have this tiny part of someone's special event!! Folks have been super creative with their jam, too! Some have gone with custom labels that I have created, others are dolling up the jars themselves. I'll share some photos of their creations soon.

But the most exciting thing for me recently, started when Sarah of Repeat Crafter Me emailed me an idea for a back-to-school teachers gift. I have been following her blog for some time now and give most of the credit for my current following to her. She asked if I could make her Apple Butter minis and shared what her gift idea was. AMAZING!

I'm sharing the picture and link to her post for Plastic Bottle Apple Containers with you all. Be sure to stop by and say hi to her and let her know I sent you.

How adorable are these apples!

Just about the same time I was getting started on Sarah's labels and some party favors for an event in Rhode Island, I got an email from La Bella Box. They were interested in using my mini jars for their October Bella Box.

This is all too unreal. Being given the opportunity to share my items with up to 70 folks who subscribe to La Bella Box, who other wise may have never heard of my little business. How could I say no!
I will be making Apple Cranberry Jam for them and can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of it!

I still have quite a few Summer favorites available in the shop in both mini sizes for Samplers and 4 ounce jars.

In the coming weeks I will be adding Apple Butter, Apple Conserve and Apple Cranberry. Welcome Fall!! Oh, how I have missed you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday II

Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese drizzle

Tea and Testimony was the theme of my MOPS group on Thursday and I signed up to bring three classic Tea items this month. Scones, for me, are super easy to make and I've figured out how to get them nice and moist too!

I'd planned on making Cinnamon Scones, Pumpkin Scones and chocolate biscotti. The Cinnamon Scones were easy and could be stacked on top of each other in a Ziploc since there isn't any topping, so to speak, on them. The pumpkin ones though, they were a challenge. The original recipe which I've tweaked and played with until I got it just right for my palate, calls for a double glaze!! One classic and then a spiced glaze drizzled on top after the first layer has hardened. They are amazing, but hard to pack up and travel with because the glaze softens and starts to ooze when it's covered.

This meeting was my first one in three months and I was super excited! A last minute scheduling change for my husband meant that we were going to have to take him to his New Jersey site, so we would have to leave the house at 4:30am {eek} at the latest the morning of the meeting. I'm  sure you're thinking I'm totally crazy for waking the kids up that early and trecking them 2 hours into another state and then taking them to a church function, but they're SO good about scheduling changes and being in the car!! {we drove straight through to Fairfield Bay AR...19 hours, this september}

I was even more thrilled that I was making these particular treats for the meeting because it meant I could make them ahead of time.

Wednesday afternoon, I was chatting with a friend about something completely unrelated; still thinking about how to make the pumpkin scones special. Then, a light bulb went off inside my head! My father-in-law makes a Paradise Pumpkin Pie which is like taking a classic cheese cake and topping it with a pumpkin pie. . . why couldn't I make my cream cheese frosting that I use on homemade carrot cake and thin it just a little to drizzle on the scones?

This has been one of the best, what if moments I've had in the kitchen in a while!! I didn't taste test any of them because I wanted to save them all for the ladies at church, but I was sure to snatch one at the breakfast on Thursday morning. Oh, good!

Here's what I did:

Pumpkin Scones (adapted recipe from sweetpeaskitchen )

2 Cups flour
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
6 Tbsp cold butter, cut
1 Cup canned pumpkin
4-5 Tbsp half-and-half or milk
1 large egg

Cream Cheese Frosting for drizzle
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 Cup confectioners sugar
a splash of Vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a mixing bowl whisk together pumpkin, half-n-half(or milk) and egg. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Cut in butter with either a fork or a pastry cutter. You could use the paddle attachment of your stand mixer for this part too...
When the butter bits are incorporated and no larger than a small pea, you're ready to add the pumpkin.

Gradually fold the pumpkin mixture into the large bowl, making sure that all of the dry ingredients have been worked in. As you're doing this, it should start to form itself into a ball. If it seems too dry and isn't coming together, add 1 tsp of milk at a time until it comes together for you.

On a greased cookie sheet, pat the dough into a circle (I divided it into two circles) about an inch thick. Cut into even slices with a knife or pizza cutter.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom and cooked through.

Once the scone is COMPLETELY cooled (it's so hard to wait, trust me I know!) you can put the drizzle on!!

Combine cream cheese and sugar, add vanilla and continue to cream together. Add ONE tbsp of milk. If it isn't creamy enough, add one TEASPOONFUL of milk at a time until it is nice and creamy but thick enough to hold it's shape.
Put cream cheese mixture into a plastic baggie and cut a 1/4 inch hole off an end of the bag...Now the fun begins!!

Drizzle the frosting onto the scones in any way you'd like! I went with a simple zig-zag pattern...


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What an honor! The Liebster Blog Award!!

Amy from fAveritte creations has made my month! Truthfully...

Woke up this morning to a blinking BlackBerry. An email alert, okay. . . A FruitfulDelights email alert; oooh, interesting. An Etsy conversation notification; ya hoo!!

Then I read it. Amy chose myself, as well as 4 other bloggers to award the Liebster Blog Award!! What an incredible honor. I'm fairly new to the blogging world, but from what I understand, this is an awesome way to promote your blog and possibly meet other cool and creative bloggers. Well, I'm so happy to pass it on to 5 other bloggers! It is awarded to bloggers with less than 200 followers, and this is how it works:

1. Post the award on your blog

2. Show thanks to the one who chose you by linking back to them

3. Reveal your 5 picks for the award and let them know

4. Kick back, give yourself a pat on the back, and feel the love from the other supportive bloggers in the blogosphere

5. Share the love, love, love!

Please stop by Amy's blog and see what wonderful things she has going on over there!! One of my Favorite things in her Etsy shop is this sweet Gardening Girl Custom Pillow.

I'd like to award these 5 awesome blogs with the Honors!

Sarah from Repeat Crafter Me

Katie from My Darling Days
Maya from BK Inspired

Congratulations Ladies!! You're all such wonderful inspiration to me...

Keep on Spreading the Love!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sneak Peek: Raspberry-Lemonade Jam

In case you've missed the first two in the series. There was Strawberry-Banana  and Golden Raspberry

I am always thinking about what new flavor I can add to my selection. Something different. Something that when you read the label or see it in a listing you think to yourself, hmm...that sounds GOOD!

With the wild success this past year of Strawberry-Lemonade, I quietly thought to myself Raspberry-Lemonade should be tried. After all, it's a wonderfully refreshing summer beverage. One of my favorites for sure (virgin, or not-so virgin) and I can't think of anything better than a nice blend of sweet and tart.

This photo here may seem like an ordinary, delicious jar of Raspberry jam to the naked eye. But, if you look really closely or better yet, pop the seal. You'll see small pieces of fresh lemon zest amidst a sea of ruby red chunks of fresh garden grown Raspberries! Do your best to resist sticking your finger into the jar and grab a spoon.

Raspberry-Lemonade starts off with the sweet, yet mild tartness of Raspberry and as it dissolves off of your tongue you are left with a wonderfully soft pucker of lemon.

I can see this jam working really well with a slice of toasted marble rye or even warmed and drizzled over ice cream. What I look forward to most is spreading it across one of my homemade scones. They have a delicate, buttery flavor that will greatly be complimented by this jam.

 I couldn't resist adding pictures of the boys scraping the bottom of the pot. (yes, have been hanging out in our jammies...sorry!) They both went to town on the itty bitty amount that was left!

Connor was telling me as I took the first picture that this is the BEST flavor he's tasted yet....My husband agrees and he's been my best taster. If he likes it, if he really likes it, it sells!

So, as of now, I feel like Raspberry picking will not be until June or early may seem like a long time to wait, but trust me, it is worth it!

The Raspberries we grow in the garden (where the jam photo was taken) are more flavorful than any other I have tried, homegrown or store bought. They're plump and brightly colored which makes for an eye popping jam!

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about any of my flavors, flavor requests, or just a comment to say hi!

Happy Friday Everyone!!! Hope you enjoy a wonderful weekend with your families. Happy Easter


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Morty the Moose is on the Loose!! Celebrating the boys' birthday

I'm a planner...kinda goes along with being an admitted control freak (yep, it's out now!). Both of our boys' birthdays are in March. Luckily there's three weeks between them (they had other ideas than being born on their due dates which were 3/20 and 3/21) so as they get older having friends over for a small party will not be an issue but for now we do a joint party. Most of our family lives the next state over meaning whatever day we choose will be a big travel day for anyone coming. So I start planning and talking to family and friends who have jobs making it difficult to get time off in Mid to late December for a Mid-March party.

Before I'd gotten my annual ball rolling, I asked Connor randomly what kind of a cake he'd like to have this year for his birthday. He knew right away!! He said he wanted a moose cake. Not Moose A. Moose from Nick Jr, but an actual moose. Okay. . . a moose cake.

Last year he was all about Pirates, and mixed in with the junk mail was a really cute recipe from Parenting Magazine for a Pirate ship cake. It was a huge hit and really easy to do. So I went back to their website hoping they'd have a moose cake. They did, but they were flat sheet cakes looking like Moose A. Moose... Then I came across this ONE. It was a teddy bear.

Confident in my cake building skills ( I don't have ANY), I printed the recipe and began wondering how on earth I was going to make antlers. They'd need to be light enough to stay in the cake but strong enough to hold their own shape. Rice crispy treats? no. Fondant? no. Eh, no biggie. I have plenty of time to figure it out! Cake, CHECK!

On to invitation ideas. . .I've always printed the invitations at home usually finding really nice blank, card stock invitations at a great closeout place by us. Come up with a cute saying which incorporates both child's age and the party and off they go. But this Moose cake, was feeling like it needed a good Moose theme... So I kept my eyes out for cute moose pictures that I could sketch off of, figuring I'd hand draw them.

On a rare shopping trip that I was alone on, I saw a cute magazine which had cupcakes on the front of it. Without really reading the headlines, I snatched it as I checked out of our local store. A few hours later I start flipping through it and I find the cutest Moose I have ever seen!! The template was to be used as a Valentine Goodie bag, but I was able to adapt it to suit my needs. Here's the template.  Invitations, CHECK!

Holy Cow!! I had NO idea what I was getting myself into with these invitations. I used card stock for all of the parts. I sent out 26 invitations. It took me three nights from 8pm until 1am to get them all cut out with an Xacto blade, taped, outlined and ready to go. My hands ached for days, but I think it was worth it! (on the back of the card it read "there's a moose on the loose!! who did deduce, you should join us for a party...maybe even let loose. For Liam will be 2 and Connor will be 4, let's spruce up this caboose, break out the juice, even share some chocolate mousse")

In comes Repeat Crafter Me!! I stumbled across her blog from an Etsy team that we are both a part of and instantly loved everything she blogged about!! One day before St. Patrick's Day she blogged about making Shamrock cupcake toppers and how she didn't need a fancy mold or anything.

TADA!! I can do this to make ANTLERS!!!

Bringing it all together

 The recipe for the cake calls for using something other than cake for the legs. Not knowing how many people I could realistically feed with this cake, I decided to use cake for the legs. I filled two, 8 ounce Ball jars a little more than halfway with cake batter and baked them along side the two halves of the head which were in two small oven proof bowls.

Next I put some of the frosting i was using on the flat spot in the center of the body and placed the bottom half of the head and continued to assemble the head...I did use two wooden skewers to stabilize the head since there were kids around the cake and I didn't want his head falling off!!

Almost done...Right after I took this picture, I realized his ears were making him look too much like a bear so OFF WITH HIS EARS!

Here he is!! Of course his antlers weren't crooked the whole time. Only when I took the picture and didn't even realize it (you know you're trying to do about 50 things at once right now too) until after the party was long over and I looked at the photos...oh well! He's still cute and was DELICIOUS!

 Although usually saved for Christmas, the grown-ups were hard at work figuring out one of the boys new presents and I couldn't resist taking a picture.

When all our friends and family had gone and the house was quiet thanks to sleeping children, I was putsing around the kitchen (making cupcakes for Liam's church party the next day) and I saw the cake...or what was left of it.

what was left...

I think this says a lot about the day!! We are so thankful for having such loving family and friends who would take the time to drive all the way out to see us and were thrilled with being able to spend such a wonderful day together.

Happy Birthday Little Ones!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Orders: March and April

When I started making Jam to sell, I saw it as a seasonal thing. Once winter arrived, I figured my little business would go into hibernation until the next season. Boy was I wrong!!

I was approached by the leader of the Children's Ministry at our church to make Mini Jars to be given as a favor for their Volunteers at the end of the year party. I made 100 jars for them in 5 different flavors!! At the same time, I received and email through Etsy from a lovely lady asking if I gave bulk discounts. She was interested in using jam as her wedding reception favor. What a wonderful idea!!
I had never thought of advertising my products for anything other than every day use, but Bethany had an awesome thought and I ran with it!

She and her husband were married in March and since making Raspberry jam and creating her custom label, I have had the honor of making Strawberry jam for an April Wedding and Apple Butter for a Baby Shower!!
It has been such a humbling experience sending my handmade products all over the country (and even overseas) to help celebrate a life event!! Thank you.

Here are a few photos:

Raspberry "mini" jars

My first wedding client's label. She asked for a Celtic style font and a bible verse. I was amazed that I was able to fit it all onto a 1 inch label!!

Apple Butter "mini" jars wrapped by the client to look like Apples!

 A Book Themed Baby Shower!! What a wonderful idea and Apple Butter worked beautifully to bring it all together.

 (4 ounce jars)

 An April wedding with Strawberry jam. This lovely couple had their own logo created to celebrate their union and asked me to use it in the creation of the label for their jam.

With the new picking season so close, I can only imagine the many ways you will come up with ideas of how to make your next event special with Fruitful Delights!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Re-purposed Jeans (and fleece) saved our Gardens!

My husband is one of the lucky few who gets to wear jeans to work. Being pretty savvy with the sewing machine, I can repair some wear and tear that everyday clothes take. But this particular pair of jeans tore in a way that really was not going to be salvageable. I didn't want to throw them away, so I stashed them on a shelf in the basement until I could think of a good use for them along with almost a yard of black fleece I had left over from a project for Connor.

We went about enjoying the glorious weather of March, amazed at how the daffodils, tulips, creeping phlox and hyacinth were blooming so beautifully, SO early! I don't watch the news, by choice so if there's weather coming, I get notified on my Smartphone. What I was not expecting when the chime went off was a freeze warning! Not a frost advisory, a FREEZE warning. I get notified almost a full day in advance, so my wheels got turning. Of course the potted perennials would come inside, but what about the others! I couldn't exactly dig them all up and bring them in the house.

Then it hit me, the JEANS.

Here's what I did:

the top photo is what this looks like covered

Looked for the most "at risk" of the plants. Many of our plants are protected by other plants, rock beds surrounding them and so forth so they don't get hit by the cold.
This tulip needed a little protection.

I cut the legs into four pieces, tall enough to cover the tulips and others, leaving enough space to fold the top over and clip it with clothespins.

Pretty Easy!

I also recycled some old, cracked transfer pots to cover Steve's exotic hostas...

Here's the results!

waiting to be covered against the winter-like winds

I admit the flower bed looked kinda funny with Pant legs sticking up throughout it, but just look at how happy those flowers looked this morning!!

all wrapped up in denim goodness
For this larger section of plants, I used half of the seat of pants which fit over beautifully. You'll also notice the flipped over coffee container...two delicate hosta eyes were hiding!

The fleece was used in a similar fashion on a larger container with a variegated Hosta that was too heavy to lug into the house...

Good Morning Sunshine 
and Warmer Temperatures

I think they're smiling!

Here's how Steve's favorite Hosta (Sum and Substance) fared the chilly night covered with a simple pot we saved.

What I really like about this is it was quick and easy to do! I can just fold them up and stash them with the garden supplies so the next time the weather may not be plant friendly, we can go ahead and cover them up. Some folks use plastic bags, but I like this better because there's some stiffness to the material and that helped keep the protective covering from touching the plant, decreasing the chance that they'd get frost bitten. There were a few plants that suffered damage from an unexpectedly chilly night which we are hoping will recover and really inspired us to go to such lengths...if you'd seen all the things covered, you'd have laughed!! (our backyard is our escape and we wanted to protect it)

What have you recycled or reused lately?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Here I am and here is April!

Hi!! No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth. Nor did I forget all of you! The last few weeks of March had me buzzing like a bee!

The boys party on the 24th was a huge hit! I'll get photos posted of the cake and they're reaction soon. A few days after the party, the preparation for the event hit me like a ton of bricks. Everyone knows how much work goes into planning a party and cleaning for it, it can be truly draining.
I suffer from Degenerative Disc Disease in my lumbar spine which; especially during times of physical stress, can be trouble. I manage with medication, exercise and extreme care whenever I lift anything (including the kids). Sometimes though, I can not stop the discs from becoming herniated. This past Wednesday was the day they decided they'd had enough! I leaned forward to pet the dog and that was the end of me...

So on Friday, with the physical assistance of my loving husband, I went to see my wonderful Spine Specialist!! He's put me on a medicine which will hopefully get me back on track.

I did get the 75 jars of Strawberry jam made for my most recent wedding client AND just this weekend shipped a few samples out to a couple in Pasadena, CA who are interested in using my jams as their wedding favors. (I'm super excited about this!) Sadly though, I do need to slow things down for a bit which is why I didn't get any blogging done over the last week or so.

I do have a few articles lined up for this week and have my fingers crossed that as every day passes, my back improves and I do not need another spinal injection!

Here's what's on the plan for this week:

Morty the Moose is on the Loose! - how we celebrated the boys 2nd and 4th birthdays with family

How Re-purposed Jeans (and fleece) saved our Gardens! - with the sudden temp change into the 70s and 80s, our bulbs and other spring plants burst into action. Unfortunately though, the March temps returned and we had a number of nights in the low 30s, upper 20s. Here's how we saved our gardens from the cold!

Sneak Peek: Raspberry-Lemonade Jam - a little look into a new flavor I'm launching this season

I apologize for not having anything fresh and new for you lately, but I assure you I have lots in the line up with the new Jam season getting ready to begin!!

Happy Monday Everyone

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Come check out where I'm linking to today!!

I'm trying to "Spread" the word about my little blog and have been encouraged to link up to other people who have graciously set up "linky parties". A place where other bloggers can link their posts and find new friends, followers and share their creativity. Here's where I've linked up today.

White Lights on Wednesday is doing her first Link Party!! If you're blogging and have something to share, come on by and link up! I'm sure we all could use a little extra Blog Love. I know I do!! Thank you Julie for letting us share our creations on your blog.

I also found a few others that I'm following and thought I'd share some of my latest creations. Please stop by, say hi and maybe find even find a new blog to follow!!

Oopsey Daisy

Friday, March 16, 2012

Burgers with Biscuit Buns

The weather here in Pennsylvania has been incredible all week!! May-like temperatures and since we Sprang Ahead, we have even more time to play out in the yard and even enjoy some Grilling!

Tuesday, I had been planning on making Belgian waffles and I wasn't budging on it. I had been thinking about those beautiful, golden brown wonders all day and no matter how nice it was outside, I was making them. Connor was completely shocked when I agreed to eating out back with our waffles. He's gotten so used to me saying no because it's been too cold or DARK outside, so he jumped at the chance to eat out there not caring what it was!!

We may have looked silly sitting at the table with our plates filled with waffles and fresh fruit, but we didn't care. There was a beautiful breeze and we watched the birds in the bird feeders while we enjoyed our waffles.

Coming inside, Steve and I agreed we should grill for the first time this season the next day.

Burgers! What's better than a plump, juicy, flavorful burger grilled to perfection and served up on a nice hearty bun? Can't think of much, except we didn't have any buns. Sure, we could have eaten them bun less again but I was really in the mood for a "real" burger.

I remembered this easy Drop Biscuit Recipe I had in my kitchen binder.They're quick (ten minutes or so to bake), easy and SO good. What if I made big biscuits and served up our burgers on them?


It WORKED!! I was a little nervous because by nature a biscuit is dry and can crumble. These didn't. The bottom "bun" held up really nicely and the top began to crack a little towards the end but with how good it tasted, who cares!

Here's the recipe:

Easy Drop Biscuits (makes approx. 20 biscuits)

4 Cups of Flour (any flour of your choosing)
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C buttermilk (to make your own buttermilk, combine 1/8 cup of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to 1 7/8 milk)
3 Tbsp. oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add oil to buttermilk and pour into dry ingredients. Beat approximately 10 strokes with a spoon or spatula, making sure well combined. (will be sticky!)

You can either roll these out on a WELL floured surface and use a biscuit or cookie cutter to get uniform shapes or flour your hands and scoop them out and shape by hand.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

This recipe can be easily adapted to suit gluten-free and dairy-free diets

I made these large to hold our burgers (which ended up shrinking so they looked kinda silly in those big "buns") and got 6 out of the above recipe.

You could serve just about anything on or with these biscuits. They're incredibly flavorful for so few ingredients and the best part is if you make a large batch of them, you can freeze them for future use. I love recipes that I can freeze. So handy for those days when it's 4pm and you say to yourself, I haven't planned dinner...

Do you have a Go to meal when you've forgotten to plan dinner?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Has Arrived!!

The first day of the beautiful weather that has become the norm, I was suspicious! Connor and Liam played outside all afternoon and were tickled pink to not be trapped in the house anymore which made me worried what the next few days would bring . . . even BETTER weather!!

one of the many beautiful colors in our Spring Garden!
So, let the clean out begin. We leave the fall leaves in our flower beds over the winter to protect the bulbs from the pesky squirrels and the heavy snowfall we usually get. So the last few days I have spent slowly but surely getting them all cleared (and building up a nice sized compost pile in the process!) We're about halfway through now and what a difference the green of the tulips leaves popping up 6 inches above the ground has made to what was a dreary, brown and grey yard!

With the Boy's Moose party coming up in less than two weeks, I am very motivated (probably too much so) to get the yard totally cleared out of the winter debris so we can enjoy this wonderful weather during the party.

My mind has so quickly gone to what we are going to plant in our annual vegetable gardens!! Tomatoes and Bell Peppers are a must. I know for sure we have to plant more chives. I absolutely love them and use them year round. I was pretty sad when we had to start buying them in the store after we'd run out...there's nothing better than being able to use something you grew in your own yard to help enhance the flavor of your meal.

Here's a great idea for getting your seedlings started early!! Reuse Gallon Milk Jugs

Having a fresh vegetable garden is awesome and I love being able to go out and pick fresh veggies every day or so, but my Favorite thing about gardening is my container gardens. I just love being able to have a pot that pops up with the same wonderful perennial and then adding in some new, colorful annuals!! Our container gardens work double duty. They're beautiful to look at and add color to our back porch but they also serve as a "railing" since there isn't one...

Do you have a garden? What are your favorite things to grow?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When your Bread Machine gives you rocks

It's the simple things in life!! I've always been a fan of practical gifts. Maybe it's because we lived a quiet, humbled existence as children or because I'd started working at the age of 13, but I have always appreciated useful/practical gifts. When I got a waffle maker for Christmas when I was 21, I'm pretty sure the friend who gave it to me thought I was nuts because of how truly excited I was about getting it. (I still use it to this day!!)

Steve knows this all too well. So he chose a wonderful gift for our 5th Wedding Anniversary in October!! A Panasonic Automatic Bread Maker. I had been talking to him for a few months about how I'd like to start making our own bread, but doing it by scratch made me nervous with needing the water to be the exact right temperature and how long to knead the dough...I can cook pretty well, but making bread wasn't something I was ready for.

a beautiful loaf

I love how easy it is to use!! After a few tries using the machine to not only make the dough, but cook the bread as well, I learned that we liked the texture better when I baked it myself in the oven. I was on quite a roll averaging a loaf every three days or so (if we had french toast, I needed to make more) and how wonderful does the house smell!!

The flavor is so fresh and light with homemade bread. Even a simple Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich is better on homemade bread. When I use it for French toast, It's heavenly!!

 Then it went wrong

 January was a tough month for me for whatever reason I couldn't remember to make bread, so a few times Steve had to pick up bread at the store. It just didn't taste the same. So I resolved to get back on track!!
Got all of my ingredients out for our favorite Egg Bread. Measured and poured exactly as usual and set the machine on Dough. When it beeped 2 hours and 20 minutes later, it looked wrong. It was too dense, too small and weighed what felt like 50 pounds. I kneaded it a little more to reshape the dough and continued to do what I've always done....that didn't help. I needed a chainsaw to cut through it since it hadn't risen properly and it was hard for the boys to eat being so dense.
I tried again the next day with the SAME results! Now I had to become a detective. What was causing this? I immediately thought of the yeast. I've been storing it in the freezer and using it regularly until my 3 week hiatus. Maybe the yeast went bad. So i replaced the yeast AND flour and tried again yesterday. The photo below is my end result...just like the last two loaves.

the dud
Connor really wanted a sandwich, so I sliced a few pieces for him and kept it open faced, so it would be easier to tear through.
I wasn't going to waste this! One of the biggest reasons we like homemade bread is it's lightened the purse strings a bit, not when I am wasting ingredients though. Sure I could slice it and make sandwiches with it or toast, but it tastes so doughy. Then it hit me! I could cube it up and hold onto it for stuffing. I keep a bag in the freezer of nubs from specialty loaves, bagels that went a little too stale before we ate it etc. All the bread gets tossed together with butter and stock so this would work well since it's so dense...

I'm making another loaf tomorrow. With the new flour, new yeast and real butter. (had used Smart Balance the last three, this may be the problem!) We shall see what happens!!

Have you had any kitchen oops that turned into something awesome?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A New Twist on Dessert

After hearing how many of you really liked the idea of Homemade PopTarts, I was super excited when my sister Leah emailed me another idea. This was using those poptarts!!

Pie. It's delicious, pretty easy to make, smells amazing...but sometimes you want pie without wanting to MAKE pie! The 9pm sweet tooth has gone from a pester in the back of your mind, to the only thing you can think about. You want something sweet and warm, maybe with a scoop of Ice Cream. Oooh, pie! But it's 9 o'clock in the evening. There's no way you're rolling up your sleeves, turning on the oven and starting to peel apples. Who wants to wait hours for it to bake and then cool enough to eat? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE pie! But when my sweet tooth won't back down, I am not staying up until midnight to satisfy it.

Here's the solution to that!! Take one of those magnificent little Homemade PopTarts from the freezer, or make a batch in the afternoon to have ready to heat in the evening. Cook it in the oven according to the directions in the link.
Slice it in half once it has cooled enough to handle, set in a bowl and top with your favorite flavor of Ice cream! Tada!

Since the poptarts are made with pie crust, if you use a jam like Blueberry or Peach, you'll have that rich, thick flavor that you find in pie filling.

When Connor and I set out to make these, we did make them smaller than the standard poptarts. Since I was thinking how sweet these would be as a party treat, I made them smaller so that they could serve a crowd and would fit nicely into a bowl. Of course, you can make them any size you want!

 I also experimented with making Tarts with the filling and the pie crust and they turned out beautifully.

Can't you just picture a nice Ice Cream party or Shower with a selection of two or three different tarts and a few complimenting flavors of ice cream? Everyone gets to create their own dessert.

For the mini Tarts:

1 store bought ready to use Pie Crust
1 mini muffin tin
a rolling pin
knife or Pizza Cutter
Nonstick spray or butter
Your Favorite Flavor of Fruitful Delights Jam

Roll the dough out until it's about half the thickness it started out as. I ended up with 12 after I combined the scraps and rolled them out.

Either spray with non-stick spray or butter the muffin tin to help keep the jam from sticking.

Cut the dough into 3 inch squares and carefully place into the mini muffin cups. Make sure to press the folds that you create to help keep the jam from oozing out.

Once all of your pieces are done, carefully spoon about a teaspoonful of Jam (I used Strawberry-Banana) into each.
(Note: if you have any muffin tin slots that haven't been used, fill them about halfway with water before baking.)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the crusts are golden brown and the Jam is bubbling.

Remove while still warm, but cool enough to touch an edge of the crusts to help keep any oozage from sticking which will make removing these tasty bites quite challenging.

Now is the hard part!! Waiting until it's cool enough to eat!!

I served them warm with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream and they were so tasty!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A whirlwind weekend

Well, what was just supposed to be a "day off " turned into the entire weekend!! I apologize that I didn't get the post up with the new Recipe on Friday like I'd planned. The four of us (along with one of the boys Grandfathers) took a trip on Saturday to Baltimore, MD and visited the National Aquarium.

Connor's first time meeting the fish in 2009
We have been members for the last few years and visit at least twice a year. The boys absolutely LOVE spending the day there. Even if you spend the day walking along the Inner Harbor and never go inside, what a spectacular day you will have. We were so blessed with weather in the upper 50s and the sun was shining! No wonder there were so many people buzzing about.

I'll have the recipe and some sweet photos of our latest Jam involved creation tomorrow.

 Also stay tuned for a new Sneak Peek on Friday!! I'll be launching another new flavor for the upcoming Jam Season. If you've missed the first two, they are
Golden Raspberry and Strawberry-Banana.

Do you have a favorite day trip spot?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Taking a day off...

Since today is Connor's birthday, I decided to take the day and just spend time with him. Whatever he may want to do today, which seems to be being bossy and cranky (it's tough being big enough to have an opinion, but not big enough to always get your way). 

I did want to let all of you know that I have a really fun post coming up tomorrow! To Pie or Not to Pie, that is the question!! Mmm, can't wait to share it.

With March's arrival, that also means some sales will be revealed in the shop. There are a few flavors that I'd like to move out so that when Strawberry season starts in May, I have lots of room for new flavors!

I hope you have a wonderful March 1st. See you all tomorrow!!

I had to share him being silly when he was a baby!! Oh, how quickly their moods change...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Celebration Sale!

Today is my son Connor's 4th Birthday!!

While we sit back and reflect on the journey we've taken together...I thought I'd share our excitement with a Sale!!

Today only you can enjoy 15% off your total purchase* of my Jams. There are still a number of flavors available in the shop. If you see a flavor you like, but want more than one jar, just send me a message and I'll set up a listing for you. I have plenty Peach Jam left!!

 *Wedding/Party Favors are NOT included in the sale*

Hope everyone enjoys this First Day of March!! Come on Spring!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

How I juggle Jam and Kids

Pretty much as soon as I started selling my jam, friends and acquaintances started asking, "how do you find time to make jam?". I'd usually smile, laugh and say something witty in response. Haven't most mom's learned their own tricks to keeping their ship afloat? Why are we afraid to ask or to hear how another mom does it? I felt as sense of shame when I'd see a mom with more kids than I had who always seemed to have it together, always kept her cool and had a clean home all at the same time!!

I thought I'd give a little insight into my own little world. It's not perfect, it's life. Life is not perfect, but I love it! For starters, we're pretty much alone out here. All our family is either in New Jersey, Virginia or somewhere in between. A two-hour drive is pretty standard for a get-together. As lovely as it is being out here, it can be lonely. With it just being us, all the pressure seemed to fall on my shoulders.

 So I'd push myself to be better at the things I used to do well, but after I had babies I had lost touch with (keeping a spotless house for one) and it was the most frustrating time. No matter what I did, something was getting forgotten. I felt defeated and deflated. What I thought was getting back into a groove was making me feel like I was failing at everything.

Finding the Balance

When I became pregnant with Liam the same year we'd bought our house, I had to find a balance. For me, it was either clean house or play with Connor. I couldn't figure out how to do both. He seemed to know when I was hoping to get a load of laundry in, and that would be the day he would scream bloody murder the moment I left the room, or he wouldn't nap making vacuuming or dusting difficult. Knowing baby #2 was on the way, I couldn't let him "win" any more.

SO I started to write down what I wanted to get done in any given week. Simple things such as: water plants, dust den, vacuum second floor...and so on. I broke down each floor of our home and the things that I'd like see done.
I took that list and broke it up among the 5 weekdays (weekends I like to keep things up in the air).

For example:
Monday: vacuum first floor
Tuesday: mop kitchen
Wednesday: vacuum den
Thursday: water plants
Friday: laundry

Suffering a little less than I did with Connor, this was doable. Mostly to make me feel like I was still accomplishing things throughout the day other than getting out of bed and Connor not burning the house down. ( you know what I mean ladies!)

Slowly though, the laundry especially, got out of hand. My anemia was so bad I could hardly walk 30 feet, let alone up and down two flights of stairs with the laundry basket.

When Liam was 6 weeks old, I'd been to the doctor and given the go ahead to get back into my routine, I rewrote my routine!!

What Works For Me

With new ambition I went from a routine to a full on schedule! It revolved completely around the kids day, but still made it possible to get cleaning, cooking and fun all done. I sat down with a notepad and wrote down how the day went, when I was upstairs, when I could fit in laundry without making an extra trip upstairs (risking waking up the baby unnecessarily) and such.

For example:
wakeup-10am: Breakfast, dishwasher (either load or unload), free play
10am - 12pm: Liam up for nap, laundry down and into washer, activity with Connor on and so forth. I have broken it into code though so it isn't so wordy


just because I have a system, DOES NOT mean that my
world isn't full of chaos. The photo to the right is a perfect example of this. I had gone into the dining room (two rooms away) to package up an Etsy order. I could hear the boys talking to each other and having fun, so I took the 3 minutes and got the box taped, labeled and ready for shipping. When I returned to the den, this is what I found...hundreds of little foam letters all over the floor!!

The long of the short of it is, even with a system, kids = chaos! Just today Liam completely emptied out Connor's dresser before he decided he was ready for his nap...clothes everywhere.

A friend of mine said "Cleaning up after kids is like shoveling while it's still snowing."

My Tips For Anyone

We're each in a different season of our lives. My routine wouldn't work for a mother with a newborn who isn't sleeping through the night, or someone who works full time. It's what works for me.

If you are struggling to find balance I have a few tips which may help.

1. Write your goals down!
Seeing what you're hoping to accomplish in a day, week, month; whatever you've written out helps put it into perspective.

2. Start small!
Instead of writing out a goal of "clean the house", try "clean off the dining room table" or "wipe down the kitchen counters". A simple task that won't take more than a few minutes can do wonders for your spirit!

3. Set a timer.
10 or 15 minutes per task. When the timer goes off, you stop or if you've finished before the timer, head to the next thing on the list.

4. Breathe.
If you're kids have full tummies, clean diapers (if you're in that stage still like I am) and are've accomplished a lot! If the sink is overflowing with dishes, Breathe. Wait until there's time to do it. Even if that means waiting until the next day.

I'd rather sit on the floor and play Go Fishing than scrub toilets anyway!! Wouldn't you?

Friday, February 24, 2012

200th Fan Giveaway Contest!!

     As some of you already know, I've had two Giveaways since starting my Fruitful Delights Facebook Page. There was one for Fan #50 and Fan #100.

As of today, I am 8 fans away from reaching 200. I can not believe that there are so many people who are out there supporting this Stay-at-home-mom! I am at a loss for words how to describe how grateful I am for each and every one of you!! Making homemade jam went from my way of treating my family in a healthy way, to spreading into your homes as well, unreal!

As a Thank You to all of my fans, I have created a Giveaway, giving you all a chance to enter and win a jar of my Jam!! I'll also be having a sale in March, clearing out my inventory (perfect time to order for Easter and Mother's day!) and will be offering discounts and free shipping opportunities.

The contest runs into March. Lots of ways to enter.
The winner will be chosen on March 11, 2012.
Please Spread the word about Fruitful Delights and don't forget to enter!!

Sneak Peek: Strawberry-Banana Jam

So many people like Strawberry Jam. It's a classic for sure! How could it not, sweet, red, chunky and it goes so well with Peanut Butter.

Last year my husband asked if I'd make some different varieties. He'd blurt out a flavor combination and we'd think about it a while. Then one day he says Strawberry-lemonade. I liked the idea of this! It was a mix of sweet strawberries and tart lemons. The combination works beautifully as a drink, why not as a jam!

Believe it or not, it was my most popular of the Strawberry Jam flavors I'd sold last year. So once again the think tank went back to work to come up with another winning Strawberry blend and I think we've come across it!


The bananas are added at the end of the cooking process so they keep some of their shape, but spread well. As you take a bite there's a subtlety to the banana throughout with the bonus bite of a piece of ripened banana.

This is a beautiful blend especially when served as a Classic PB&J. Who out there doesn't love a little sliced banana on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Well, now it's already blended in with that sweet Strawberry Jam!!

If all goes as planned, Strawberry-Banana will be available for purchase by Memorial Day weekend. A great kick-off to a wonderful summer filled with fresh fruit and Jam.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Healthy, Delicious smoothie! Yes, you can have both!

I have always enjoyed a good fruit smoothie. There's something so wonderful about blended yogurt and mixed fruits. But most smoothies are loaded with hidden sugar and calories unless their homemade, and even then they're not that nutritious.

So when I saw Money Saving Mom had added the Green Monster Smoothie from Iowa Girl Eats, I was quite intrigued. Cheryl has been really consistent in offering recipes from blogs and websites that are healthy and delicious. But when I first clicked the link...I wasn't so sure. This smoothie is pea green!! Spinach green, actually. That's because it has about 4 cups worth of Baby Spinach in it. Now before you go "eeewwww" (if you haven't already), trust me! It DOESN'T TASTE LIKE SPINACH!!

I read tons of reviews on this smoothie on both blogs and after seeing an amazing pattern of folks saying how unbelievably delicious it was, I was starting to come around. When I read a number of people say that they have their young children (between 2 and 5) who are so picky about veggies, gobble one of these up every day...I was ready to try it!

Spinach is an amazing little thing!! Packed full of nutrients that are so wonderful for keeping our bodies energized and healthy. I like spinach, always have but it seems to get lost in the veggie routine of broccoli, green beans, carrots and such. A shame really, but now that we've discovered this smoothie, Spinach is going to take a front row seat in our fridge! My wonderful husband makes routine trips to Produce Junction for fresh fruits and veggies for our family. Connor and Liam can easily go through 5 lbs of bananas, a container of strawberries and two containers of blueberries in a weeks time...having a store where the prices can not be beat on produce, we are grateful! They had baby spinach when he was there last and I actually had all of the other ingredients on hand.

As soon as I powered up the blender, the boys were in the kitchen asking what I was up to. I agreed to let them each have a sip of the drink when it was done. Well, they were chugging it down, so I gave them their own cups and silly straws (sorry it's Halloween cups, I grabbed the first thing I saw) and away they went. Connor went so far as to say "this is the best drink, ever!" I think that says a lot coming from a 4 year old.

I absolutely loved it!! It tasted like Bananas, with a hint of Peanut Butter. So good. I am planning on drinking one every day for a week to see how it helps with my energy levels and overall well-being. I'm confident though that I have found something that will be a regular in my morning routine!!

Here's the Recipe!!! Green Monster Smoothie

Try it! Feel free to add additional fruits to it if you'd like. I added some blueberries and I think I'll throw in another frozen banana to make it a little thicker tomorrow.

liam licking the smoothie off his lips!
Do you have a Healthy Smoothie recipe that you really enjoy? I'd love to hear about it!!

Coming up later : Sneak Peek: Strawberry-Banana Jam, How I juggle Jam and Kids, My 200th Fan Giveaway!