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!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sneak Peek: Golden Raspberry Jam

I am so excited to be offering three new flavors to the selection of Jams that I will be making for the 2012 Jam season. That will mean there will be 12 Jam flavors for this year!!!

The first one I'm letting you get a sneak peek at is Golden Raspberry.

A little History

The first spring here in our home, Steve went to the local hardware store and picked up three berry plants for a container garden we built on the side of the house. Two raspberry and one Black Raspberry. We planted the Black Raspberry in the middle of the raspberry plants and anxiously waited for the Summer fruit!! To our surprise though, one of the raspberry plants fruit was this pale pink, almost white. The flavor was sweeter than a red raspberry but didn't think anything of it. When we picked the berries, we put all the Black Raspberries together and the Red and "white" together. So when I made red raspberry jam, it didn't taste any different to us but the color was slightly different. We were surprised to see that this plant continued to produce fruit into the fall.
a few berries from our garden

Doing a little research I learned that the "white" raspberry was really Golden and of the Ever-bearing variety. These berries are much sweeter than a Red Raspberry and the plant produces fruit from Summer into Fall making it a great plant for a garden.

Test Batch

Thanks to the crazy winter of 2010-2011, we only got about 1/4 cups worth of Golden Raspberries. Nowhere near enough to make a
batch for selling, let alone gift giving to family. So I held onto them until things quieted down and I could make a small batch for us to taste. I barely got an 8 ounce jar out of the berries but...

Oh, my!! If you like Raspberry Jam, but not so much the tartness of Red Raspberry you will LOVE this Golden Raspberry Jam. It tastes like honey, with a very slight undertone of raspberry tartness. Truly amazing when it warms on toast.

With the crocus already blooming here (opened up today) I am very nervous to see what the berry season is going to be like and am hopeful that I will have enough of these beautiful little gems to make a batch of Golden Raspberry Jam for you!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

feeling blue

Even though we're all slowly but surely coming down with this stomach bug, the boys and I were very excited to give Daddy his Valentine gift!!

A few weeks back, I bought some Turtles from a fellow Etsy teammate, Stacey and just knew they'd be the perfect thing for my husband for Valentine's Day. It was simple, sweet and something he loves but rarely ever eats.

Armed with a box I found on clearance and pink construction paper we'd cut into thin stips with the paper cutter (it's buried under all that paper in the background...she's a workhorse!), Connor and Liam got started on crumpling the paper to make a nest for these sweet little treats. The boys had also worked on handmade cards for Dad earlier in the week and were absolutely thrilled to be able to put their mark on Daddy's gift.

We cut an entire sheet of construction paper and had enough strips left to hide his surprise with some ribbons of paper on top.

For our family, we've always celebrated quietly. Steve's favorite thing was to cook dinner for me for Valentine's Day since I cook most other days. An honest, sincere gesture that shows how much he appreciates me, by cooking for me. I was confident that even though this gift was small, it was going to be greatly appreciated. He absolutely loved them!! As a matter of fact, he's hiding them so he can enjoy them slowly...
 Sadly though, he wasn't able to cook me a special Valentine meal because half of the family is still not eating most foods. I feel terrible that we're still under the weather, but I know he will have his chance to cook me a delicious meal and I look forward to that day. Being Valentine's Day, I decided that if we were going to have homemade Mac n' Cheese, I'd make it Special!! While the sauce was coming together nicely, I added a few drops of food coloring and dyed the cheese sauce pink... Happy Valentine's Day!!
I hope you all had a chance to spend some time with the one's you love this Valentine's Day, which as we all know is celebrated every day when we tell them that we love them!

Coming up later this week: Sneak peek at a New Jam flavor and Sandwich pocket recipe

Monday, February 13, 2012

"fruit on the bottom" Yogurt cups

Here's a fun way to use your favorite Fruitful Delights jam, make your own "fruit on the bottom" yogurt cups!!

If you really want it to be completely homemade, you can also make your own yogurt. I've heard it's amazing and you can make it to whatever thickness you like. I included a link to a recipe, if you'd like to try it. If you do, please let me know how it is. I haven't had a chance to try making my own yet.

 "fruit on the bottom" yogurt cups

Here's what you need:

about 6 ounces of your favorite plain yogurt
a jar of jam (i'm using Red Raspberry)
a container to store it in

Super Easy!!
All you need to do is spoon out about 3 ounces of yogurt into the bottom of the container (I'm using a ball canning jar because I have lots of them, but any container with a good sealing lid will work).

Carefully spoon your jam on top of the yogurt. You can use as little or as much jam as you'd like to give your yogurt the fruity flavor you desire.

Then top with more yogurt. Of course you can put the jam anywhere you'd like in the jar. On the bottom for the real "fruit on the bottom" or even on the top!! I topped mine with some crunchy Grape Nuts cereal making it a wonderful parfait.

Here's the Homemade Yogurt recipe I found on the simple dollar. She does hers in the crock pot, which makes trying this even more appealing!!

Do you have a favorite homemade yogurt recipe? Have you tried this recipe? I'd love to hear your thoughts on any great healthy homemade recipes! Feel free to post in the Comments below

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Comfort food to the rescue

Having two kids pretty close together has had it's challenges, just like anything in life. There are highs and lows and sometimes those lows leave us feeling pretty defeated. We as a family seem to be (for the first time ever) in a cycle of sick kids. Connor out of the clear blue developed RSV and a double ear infection at the same time. Three days later, little Liam wasn't himself, it turned out to not be sickness instead it's his two year molars. Around and around we have gone with the sniffles, dribbles and cranky kids, all of which seems to run relatively smoothly until Liam picked up a stomach bug. My heart broke for this little person, who wasn't afraid of what was going on to him. Steve and I were frantically trying to get him and his bed changed in the middle of the night and the whole time he was saying "okay" and "thank you". Even with his maturity and grace in this situation, for me, it felt like I'd been balancing all of my dishes on my head and this new "plate" brought the whole stack crashing to the floor.

Two days into his feeling icky, I too was feeling wiped out. I can't take this away, make him feel like himself and it breaks my heart seeing him so ill. Sleepless nights have been spent listening to the baby monitor for his stomach to change it's mind about what he'd eaten, even though all day he's kept his B.R.A.T diet food down.

Thursday, we decided we'd make Breakfast for dinner. There's something so comforting about having Pancakes, Eggs, French Toast or any of your favorite breakfast foods, for dinner. So at 11am, I was able to sneak away from the little ones and get the Bread Machine going on some dough for our favorite, Egg Bread recipe. I have tried using the Bread Machine for the entire bread making process, but have found the crust to be a little too crunchy. So I just use the dough cycle and then I let it rise and bake it in the oven.

Fresh, homemade bread is the BEST for French Toast!! You can slice the loaf to your desired thickness, the bread has a heartier consistency so it doesn't get mushy when dipped in the egg mixture and it tastes amazing.

Just the smell of cinnamon in the kitchen was renewing my spirits. Making me feel as though this last week hadn't been as hard on all of us as it had felt. Liam was given one slice, which he ate most of (which was great!), Connor ate 3 slices!! He was a hungry little hippo. A few hours after dinner, with our bellies full and our spirits high, we engaged in a fun game of "keepaway" with a plush basketball. They were chasing each other, blocking, tackling, whatever they could do to get a hold of that ball. It was a wonderful evening filled with smiles and lots of Laughter.

I am amazed at how a simple dinner of egg, flour, sugar, salt, yeast and milk could have such a renewing factor on this family's spirit. Comfort Food. Sometimes that's all it takes.

If you'd like my recipe for Egg Bread, please let me know. I'd love to share it with you!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Not your Grandma's Jam

This fall after we'd picked somewhere around 70 pounds of apples, I had my recipes all lined up of what I wanted to make. Of course there was Apple Butter and Applesauce (my kids LOVE my applesauce), even Apple Peach Jam. After all of that, I still had quite a few apples left so I went digging for something different! I came across this recipe in an old cookbook of mine and it sounded intriguing.

The apples were only slightly cooked, still skinned and cut into bite size pieces. Raisins and Walnuts were the other two main stars of this "Jam". I had to try it! The method of preparing this particular product was a bit different for me, but the end result was something extraordinary. I call it Apple Conserve and it is amazing when served with pork or lamb instead of Mint Jelly.

Having nut allergies in the family, I was very concerned about selling it in my Etsy shop, fearing someone may not see that it contains walnuts. The views of it have been wonderful and I've been amazed that I haven't just sold one jar, but someone came back for a second.

The out pour of support from both Etsy and Facebook has just been so wonderful. I really look forward to announcing the new flavors for Fruitful Delights 2012 season this April. I will have all of the flavors that I currently make, as well as a few new ones and I will also be making many of my flavors in Sugar-Free versions!

Check back on Friday for my post about Sandwich was an interesting experiment!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Homemade PopTarts

I haven't had a PopTart in what seems like 20 years, but I'm sure it hasn't been that long. How could you go wrong with sweet gooey jam wedged between two pieces of pastry!!
I've been thinking of recipes to show how to use Fruitful Delights jam in ways other than a sandwich...there are so many different things you could do. Hoping for guidance with some recipes to work off of, my sister emailed me and told me to check out foodgawker . I must warn you, it can be quite addicting and I recommend looking at it on a full stomach!! (you've been officially warned) After drooling over the amazing photos of these delicious treats, I came across a recipe for Homemade PopTarts. Her recipe is slightly varied and I included the link at the bottom of this post with the recipe.
For someone who isn't an avid baker with pastry, it can seem a little scary, but it's not! Super easy.

 Homemade PopTarts adapted recipe from Will Cook For Friends

Here's what you need:

1 - ready to use, store bought pie crust
2 - Rolling pin
3 - Your favorite flavor of Fruitful Delights jam (we used Peach)
4 - a fork, a knife and a spoon

Let your pie crust come to room temperature. You can use homemade pie crust if you'd like (half a full recipe) but I lost my pie crust making mojo years ago!
With your rolling pin, gently roll the pie crust out to thin it and make a rectangular shape (if you can).
Cut the pie crust into even rectangles. Here's where you go with the flow. Depending on the size of your pie crust and how big of a tart you want, you can get anywhere from 3 to 6 finished tarts. Since I was doing this with my kitchen elf, I kept it simple and cut out 6 rectangles (see photo below)

You can take the excess scraps and make additional pieces by rolling them together, but 4 year olds don't always wait.

Using a Tablespoon, carefully spoon out HALF a spoonful onto three rectangles. Do this twice. Jam is pretty thick and by doing it in smaller amounts gives you more control of where it ends up. Gently spread to even it out. Keep it at least a half an inch from the edges. (see photo to right)

Carefully place the other three slices on top of the jam and press the edges together, stretching the dough if needed. To be sure I had as little oozing of jam goodness as possible, Connor crimped the edges with our fork.

Depending on how many of these you're able to make, you may want to keep the rectangles you aren't using in the refrigerator to keep the pastry cold, but it's pretty cool in our house and we had no troubles with it.
Then carefully wrap each tart in plastic wrap and freeze until completely frozen 2-3 hours. You need to be sure that the jam filling is completely frozen so the inside cooks evenly with the crust.

Once they're completely frozen, and you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Remove each tart from the plastic wrap and put on the cookie sheet, leaving space between them.

If you'd like an additional crunch, you can do an egg white wash and sprinkle some sugar on top of them before putting into the oven.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden and bubbly.

Let cool 5-10 minutes before eating...I'd make a double batch of this next time...there wasn't even a chance to take a picture of one with a bite taken from it. Amazing!!

I love that they can be made to suit anyone's tastes...

You could: make a glaze for the tops (like the toaster kind), sprinkles, any flavor jam or jelly, make them any size you wanted...

It's not even necessary to bake them completely. Let's say you don't want to eat them today, you could bake them partially and refreeze them. Then when you wanted to have one, just pop it in the toaster oven or microwave. I wouldn't recommend the toaster in case of filling oozing out.

Simple, delicious and fun to make. Enjoy!