We’ve known Stephen and his wife Mehgan back when we were all just starting to date, fall in love, and get married. Stephen is the type of guy who is always dreaming and coming up with new ideas for potential businesses. Over the last few years we’ve watched him pursue one of those dreams and that is owning his own food truck. Together, with his business partners, Stephen refinished an old box truck and started selling handheld pies. Based out of Stillwater, OK, Pie on the Fly sells delicious fruit and cream fried pies to a more savory variety for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Plus, who doesn’t just love that name?! Pie on the Fly! So perfect for a mobile food vendor selling handheld pies.
Q1) What inspired you to start your food truck vs. opening a restaurant?
When Alex and I were in our final semester studying entrepreneurship at OSU, we were on a business plan team attempting to prove the viability of retail expansion for a fried pie restaurant. Despite having proved viability, we were unable to find a bank willing to lend funds to a couple of college grads with no experience. We decided to go a route we could fund ourselves: a food truck. After taking on our third partner, Brady, we had enough funds and knowledge to build the truck ourselves.
Q2) How did you develop your menu? What attracted you to handheld pies?
During the summer of 2013, Alex, Brady, and I would spend our days from sun up to sun down building the truck. We would then spend our evenings developing recipes for dough and fillings from scratch. None of us grew up on fried pies; we just knew how much we liked them and that other people would too!
Q3) What is your favorite pie filling, why?!
We get this question very often. My response is always the same: “Our signature savory pie is the sausage mac & cheese. Our most popular dessert pie is apple because everyone loves apple. But what will really get you is the customer created PBCB: chocolate and banana cream inside and then covered with Reese’s peanut butter sauce when it comes out of the fryer.” Truthfully, my favorite is just cherry pie with a side of vanilla ice cream.
Q4) What has been the most challenging, and the most rewarding part about running a food truck?
The most challenging part of running the truck has been figuring out where our product sells. What we have discovered is our truck [product] does better at events and festivals than it does working day to day services. The next challenge is figuring out which events are worthwhile and which just make a lot of noise.
I would say there are three rewards I particularly enjoy about running our food truck. First, I get to see the successful operation of something we built ourselves from an empty box truck. Second, I get to pick the hours, services, and events I want to work. Third, food truckers are their own people and there is a culture among food truckers that is raw and exciting!
Q5) How do you balance working a lot of evenings and weekends while maintaining a healthy and happy marriage?
We have made our food truck a hang out spot. Mehgan has worked alongside me from the beginning doing services and making pies herself. Because of the new job I just took, Mehgan has actually been working more shifts in the truck than I have lately. There are a lot of days we don’t get a lot of time together, but we make sure that we take intentional time to catch up when we are around each other.
Q6) Who is the better food truck driver?
I am. I don’t think Alex or Brady would argue this either. If there is a tricky spot to be parked in, I’m the one that hops in the driver’s seat.
Q7) What has been the best promotional tool you’ve used to get the word out and drive traffic to your truck?
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have been huge as you might expect. Beyond these, word of mouth has brought loads of people to our truck thanks to others who tried our pies and sent them our way. Finally, our big blue graphic wrap thanks to Mitch Johnson at Speedpro Texas has done wonders for being noticed everywhere we go.
Q8) When you get a night off, what does a typical Stephen & Mehgan date night look like?
We usually go for a stuffed crust pizza and a movie on the couch with the dogs. When we want to get crazy, we open up a bottle of wine for Mehgan and a good whiskey for me. Usually these nights end in us both turning in early to take advantage of the opportunity for some extra sleep.
I have been so excited to share with you all our first Food Truck as a Creatives Near You blog feature. Everyday I’m just amazed at all the forms creativity can take shape… like a fried pie of course!
Thanks Stephen for sharing a little bit of how you got started, lessons you’ve learned thus far, and how you and Mehgan find a healthy balance juggling it all! Wishing you all our best.
From The Farm
No related photos.
Once again we managed to cook baby boy #2 till he was nice and crispy! Arriving just at 42 weeks we are so thankful we were still able to get him here naturally and have our second homebirth experience! Even with his big brother James running around, life still feels like it’s slowed down a bit. It’s quieter around here, and the days are bit more peaceful. There are not a lot of life events where you can STOP everything and truly cherish every moment. We are enjoying one of those rare life events right now, and drinking in every last drop.
Suddenly the deadlines, the stress, and the to dos don’t feel nearly as important. Somehow, it will all get done. But right here, right now, for the first time… we are a family of four.
And it’s beautiful.
Welcome Hardy Alan
Born July 24th, 2014
8 pounds 10 ounces
21.5 inches long
We are so excited you are here and feel so blessed and completely overwhelmed that God choose you to be a member of our family!
From The Farm
We’ve been working on a really fun and personal branding project. One of my favorite parts about working with our clients-family, friends, or new acquaintances-is helping them visualize their dreams. Ever since I’ve known Jessie, Cale’s sister, she has dreamt of owning her own dance studio and we are so excited that she is finally moving forward with her heart’s desire. It’s been a bit crazy trying to get a full branding package out the door before baby #2, but we have been working away like busy little bees and coming up with some really fun ideas for the studio interiors alongside our standard branding package.
The first mood board we put together (featured above) is titled; Bohemian. Taking on a very yoga, free-style, feel it’s natural tones and materials are warm and inviting to all age groups. The graphics display a process of growth through movement that is not only physical, but mental and spiritual as well. The casual, family-centric, atmosphere created by the collage celebrates a community-wide love and appreciation for all dance forms.
The second mood board (featured above) is Classic Meets Modern. Through traditional creams, browns, blacks, and golds the rich history of classical ballet is displayed in contrast to bright pops of modern colors. The simple yet beautiful script fonts show movement without the need of a cheesy dance icon. Samples of the studio space are open, clean, and yet suggest that it’s ok to have a bit of sparkle!
The third mood board was personally my favorite to put together because it is truly about the art of dance! As Jessie and I talked through her branding “For the Love of Dance” kept coming up again and again as her tagline. It was perfect and something that just floated out of everything she said when she described her dream studio. For the Love… mood board is cheerful and modern. It’s simple shapes and graphics are playful, colorful, and truly celebrate the love of dance. A heart is such a simple symbol, and yet it says so much! The bright pops of hot pink and teal next to the stark blacks and grays are a perfect blend of the studios academic and recreational dance philosophy; that their students would grow-up in dance with a developed life long love and appreciation for movement.
After reviewing each mood board and deciding on which direction we should take the brand, the final product is definitely a combination of all three, but their was one that remained a foundational element in all our design decisions.
Of course, you’ll have to stay tuned to see how the whole thing comes together, but you can always checkout Ascend Studios’ Facebook Page to get a little sneaky peaky! Lots of great classes for little dancers if you live in the Midwest City, OKC and OKC area starting this fall, 2014.
Find the links to these images and see what else inspired our branding by visiting our Dance Studio Board on Pinterest.
Which mood board do you like the best?
From The Farm
It’s me, Meg’s crazy husband. You’ve heard of me and heard from me in the past. In-fact I was on here quite a lot at the beginning. I’ve been away working a 9-5, as you probably know. But it’s more than that, I’ve been growing, thinking and hopefully getting better at what it is I do. Architecture, design, and general creativity. When Meg approached me about writing again for Bringing Design Home I was thrilled. This is honestly one of the things I miss the most in the day to day of a 9-5. Something about sharing thoughts, hopes, dreams, and connecting to others is lost in that daily grind. You do what you need to do, what you have to do, you work hard and you focus. Beyond the surface, beyond the basic information that I’m married, have a little boy, and another on the way, and that I’m a hard working country boy, that’s all most of your co-workers ever really care to know. They aren’t looking for some deeper connection, because ultimately its just a job, its just getting things done to get home and enjoy the people that really know you.
That’s where this blog comes in. For Meg and I just the surface level info isn’t enough. We care, silly I know, but we do. We want to share, we want to connect, and we hope some day down the line, someone will come up to us and say; “Hey! “I know you, you write that funky family design blog. I just want you to know that I learned a great deal from that last post, thanks!”, or something like that. Those are the great moments for us, the ones where we actually feel like we could change the world just by being here, being honest, and having some fun along the way.
So here I am saying hi again, and looking to “share” once more. I’m hoping to focus on design and architecture most specifically. I hope to give some thoughts and pointers that might make building, buying, and remodeling your homes easier or at least more fun. I also hope to shed some light on that mysterious title “Architect” and what it is we really do. Why we are needed for certain things and why sometimes you don’t really need to consult us.
So watch for my future posts, and let me know if it gets long winded or too technical.
Thanks for listening…
From The Farm
Around Here: Skipping Church/Birthdays/Homemade Sandbox/Waiting for Baby/Fireworks/Pickin’ Peaches/Toddler + Baby Room Sneak Peak
Talk about the ultimate pregnant summer dream… 70 degree weather in July! In Oklahoma!? Believe me, I’m not complaining, I’m bragging and am so thankful. I’m enjoying everyday that my ankles don’t swell up like an elephant’s trunk. I just wish I could be picking blackberries right now! The extended family has banned me from the berry patches. Something about ticks and being pregnant just don’t go together I guess?! Talk about this being the PERFECT berry season though. Usually we only have a 2-3 week window because of the heat, but this year we could get 6 weeks worth of blackberry picking in!
Ok, ok… I gotta stop talking about it. It makes me sad.
What a beautiful summer we are having here in the midwest. It’s been wonderful and we’ve enjoyed slowing life down, even more, and taking in every last moment as a family of three. To be honest we’ve been skipping a lot of Sunday church lately just to enjoy being home and getting things done before baby #2. Although we are thankful for our church home and fellowship, there is something just so wonderful about a slow sunday morning. I love a good excuse to make a fancy brunch so I like having the morning to fix myself something a little special. I used to make enough for the boys (Cale and James), but they are just as excited to eat a bowl of cereal and drink the milk from their bowls.
We continued our Fourth of July tradition for the third year in a row by spending the morning picking peaches at the Wind Drift Orchards in Harrah, Oklahoma. It’s so perfect for the kids cause you can fill up your box or bag in about 30 minutes and spend the rest of the time frolicking and filling your bellies with fresh peaches and nectarines. We only picked enough for one box, but I can tell you it was gone within the week. We made a nectarine cobbler for a Fourth of July get together, grilled some for our favorite summer salad (we add grilled chicken too!), gave some away as the ultimate Fourth of July hostess gift, and saved a few to snack on throughout the rest of the week.
Typically, if I wasn’t 39 weeks pregnant, I would have canned some with honey and fresh basil, but I’ll have to save that for next year!
The summer is always full of celebrations from our anniversary to my birthday. As you get older there are some years where your birthday is a non-event and others, where it just seems to keep going on and on. For me, this was one of those years! I think it was because I’m pregnant, but it seemed like everyone wanted to spoil me a bit extra this year. Cale’s Grandparents gave me a stash of cash (apparently they are VERY excited that I’m giving them TWO Grand Baby Boys!), a girlfriend offered to take me out for pedis, Cale’s mom made me homemade strawberry shortcake, and then my parents visited from KS with a salmon dinner and homemade current wine. They did all the cooking and cleanup, and even helped us get on top of some of the lawn maintenance around here. I know that last part doesn’t sound too exciting, but with Cale working extra hours to meet a big deadline August 1st, we haven’t been able to keep up with some of the lawn maintenance around here. Not only did my parents spend three hours helping us get caught up on weedeating, but they sprayed most of the yard so that the grass would die in certain areas and we wouldn’t have to weedeat those particular areas for the rest of the summer!
It was completely overwhelming to get served in a such away and to have my family gather around us and help us out so selfishly. Just another reason why I’ve learned that the best gift is to be a giver. You just never know when life will pay it forward (see #5 on my 10 Things I’ve Learned).
I think my nesting is getting to Cale now cause he’s getting all the honey do’s that have been on his list for the past year or two completed! And this momma couldn’t be more happy about it! From cleaning out old barns and wood piles to making a sandbox, he’s been going at it hardcore. My favorite part was watching him and James out our kitchen windows dink around and create the sandbox together. Cale is such a great daddy and he just lets James get in there, even at 20 months old, and pickup the hammer and the level and carry em around. He doesn’t know what exactly they do, but he is daddy’s little shadow and is taking in every move he makes.
We kicked off our Fourth of July celebration with our Oklahoma family by making these DIY Firecracker T-shirts with all the kids. It’s hard to believe just a few years ago we didn’t have babies running around and now we’ve completely exploded! It’s so much fun, and a little overwhelming at times, but we love it. As you can see from the photo below, James’ shirt was completely covered in watermelon juice before the end of the night. :/
My friend Shelley took this photo of James and I just can’t stand the way it captures him so perfectly (checkout more of her work here!). We had bought several different types of kid-friendly fireworks, but as you can guess once we did the “firetruck” firework all he wanted to do was play with it for the rest of the night.
Never in my life did I think I would know so many different variations of trucks; dump truck. bucket truck, garbage truck, cement truck, firetruck, flatbed truck…
And lastly, I’m excited to announce that we have officially finished our nursery + toddler room!! Hear that baby #2!? That means you can come out anytime now?! We are ready to meet you! I’m working on editing the photos and can’t wait to share with you all the final design. Cale and I had many
fights discussions about the function, layout, and look. Overall, we are VERY happy with the finished product and feel like it’s something the boys can really grow into… at least until we move into our Modern Farmhouse someday!
We hope to share with you guys more of our process of designing and building our own Modern Farmhouse in the future. Look for more posts from Cale coming up soon.
Happy summer, happy berry picking and preserving, and happy birthday month to our baby boy #2!
From The Farm
Here’s to recipe #3 in our summer canning series! I have to be honest, I am a complete snob when it comes to salsa. It has to be not too chunky, not too watery. Spicy enough that you enjoy the kick, but not so spicy you can’t taste any of the flavors. No I’m not a Mexican, but I love my salsa and I’m picky about how it needs to taste. My father-in-law, Larry Lopp, put this recipe together years ago and it quickly become a summer staple in Cale’s family kitchen when he was growing up. Although I’m typically a traditional Cilantro & Lime Salsa girl, I have really come to love the robust and hearty flavors in this smoky salsa. Larry passed away a few years ago, but his recipe continues on every summer as we anxiously await to harvest our garden peppers.
Some of my fondest memories with Larry include three of his favorite things; family, fireworks, and good food!
This one’s for you Granddad. xoxo
If you have never made a canned recipe in the slow cooker let me tell you it is awesome! Salsa is so hard cause it can take you an entire day to cut everything up and then actually process the salsa. I really love that you can chop everything up, clean up while the salsa is cooking, and get ready for round 2 a bit later in the day. A lot of canning recipes–like jam–force you to be ready to can as soon as the liquid is hot. I love that this recipe allows you to break up the long process so you don’t feel nearly as rushed.
Also, a good salsa has to marinate for a while. With this recipe you can tweak it and add more spices or peppers as it cooks in the slow cooker. This process still gets the liquid nice and hot, but you can taste test it as you go. Just like our Cilantro & Lime Vinegar Free Salsa, this recipe is truly flexible and forgiving.
Smokehouse Garden Salsa
Yields: About 6-8 Pint Jars
- 20 tomatoes (1/2 peeled, 1/2 not, and then I hand diced 1/2 and used the juicer to chop/blend the other 1/2)
- 1 large onion
- 12 jalapeño peppers (without seeds)
- 2 large poblano peppers
- 4 large Anaheim chilies (2 with seeds for heat, 2 without)
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
- 8 garlic gloves
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (gives it that smokehouse flavor)
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 small can tomato paste for thickening (if needed)
STEP 1: Blend and chop the tomatoes, then add to the slow cooker. If you want it really chunky, chop more and blend less.
STEP 2: Blend and dice the peppers and onions together, then add them to the slow cooker. This is where you get a good idea of your thickness/consistency. Feel free to add more if you need too!
STEP 3: Add the salt, chili powder, sugar, garlic gloves, Worcestershire Sauce, and vinegar.
STEP 4: Cook on high for about 4 hours. I know you’ll be tempted to cook it on low overnight, but the salsa will have an overcooked/burnt taste to it. Do a taste test about an hour in, and see if it’s hot enough or needs more? You can always add in more jalapneos, habaneros, or even chili powder to bring up the heat. A good rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t smell spicy it probably isn’t hot enough!
STEP 5: Bring a boiling-water caner or large sauce pot, half-full with water, to a simmer (takes about 30 minutes). Fill a small sauce pan with 1 in of warm water. Keeping it on medium-low heat set the lids in the hot bath until you are ready to place on the hot jars.
STEP 6: Once the water is boiling place as many empty jars as you can (might have to do two batches of jars at a time) in the simmering water. This is a quick way to heat up the empty jars just before you fill them up with salsa. Remove the jars when your salsa is finished cooking for 4 hours.
STEP 8: Pour hot salsa into hot sterilized jars, within 1/2 inch from the top. Remove any air bubbles by moving a wooden or plastic (not metal!) utensil up and down the middle of the jar. Seal with hot lids and apply screw bands.
STEP 9: Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.
STEP 10: Remove and let the jars completely cool and seal for 12-24 hours. If a jar lid still pops up and down when you press on it, after the cooling stage, the jar did not seal properly. Simply place this jar in the fridge and eat first. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.
So far this season we’ve shared with you our Cilantro and Lime Vinegar Free Salsa, Sugar Free Blackberries, and now our Smokehouse Garden Salsa. Both salsas are slow cooker friendly and super easy… as long as you don’t mind the time it takes to chop everything up! And, if you don’t have the patience just put all the tomatoes, onions, and peppers in a blender and you’ll be fine! Your salsa won’t be as chunky, but all the yummy flavors will still be there.
I’ve also found this salsa makes a warm and rich, almost BBQ flavored, chicken marinade! That’s only if it can surpass the chip taste test again, and again, and again…
What’s your favorite salsa recipe? In your eyes, what makes a good salsa?
Happy canning friends! You can do it!
From The Farm
Nothing celebrates a holiday better than dressing up your kids and cousins in matchy matchy outfits and taking blackmale photos for future birthdays, graduations, and weddings.
Or maybe that’s just our family!?
It’s true, we’ve started a tradition monster and it cannot be stopped! My sister-in-law is typically the brains behind these types of operations, but she always finds the cutest ideas online that spark all kinds of crafty creations. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the straw and pipe cleaner firework stamps via Pinterest, but we just decide to take that idea a step further and make them into t-shirts… with glow in the dark paint of course!
I’m not gonna lie, it was messy, and a bit crazy trying to “organize” three menions to stamp things that actually looked somewhat like fireworks, but they had a blast! And we had a blast creating memories with them as a family.
That we have saved and backed up on several digital files until the day we die!
- Plain T-shirts
- Straws (cut 6 slits in one straw at equal lengths to make your firework paint brushes)
- Fabric or Acrylic Paint
- Paper Plates (for paint pallets)
- Small Sheets of Cardboard or Card Stock (place inside t-shirt before painting to prevent the paint from bleeding on the back side of the shirt)
- Roll of Construction Paper (to protect whatever counter top you are doing the craft on)
- Make it Outside: As much fun as this craft is, it can be messy! We just stripped the kids in their diapers and panties and let them go to town outside on the patio. This way we were not worried about them getting paint on inside furniture or their clothes. Although, getting the paint off during bath time was a bit harder than we thought! Might want to make sure they don’t get too crazy and smear it all over themselves.
- Create Different Sizes of Firework Stamps: Your fireworks will be bigger depending on how far down you cut the slits in the straws. Mix it up by cutting some of the straws only an inch deep, and others two or three inches deep. This will add more variety and scale in the prints.
- Mix-Up The Colors: Instead of buying just one large bottle of red, blue, and black paint I purchased several smaller bottles of red, glittery red, black, gray, dark blue, light glittery blue, and even glow in the dark paint! This was just an extra fun touch that made each shirt a bit unique!
- Let the Kids Do It! I know this is hard because the designer/perfectionist will come out, but show them a few samples on their shirt, and then let them do a few on their own. They may not be exactly where you would have placed the stamps, but that is the point! For them to learn and experience being crafty. You can always come in behind them and clean up their firecrackers by adding outlines in glow in the dark paint like we did. This really added an extra depth to their shirt designs, especially for the areas that started to look like blobs of paint. Oh, and don’t freak out if they mix-up the paint cause it’s going to happen! You’re welcome.
I realize this post is a bit late since the Fourth of July was a few days ago, but give me a break I’m 39 weeks pregnant ok!? I still managed to buy all the supplies and actually make the shirts. This close to my due date, I’ll take it!
Here’s to fireworks, matchy matchy outfits, family, food, and a celebration that reminds us how precious it is to have all those things in our lives.
Best of luck on all your holiday crafts and don’t forget to pin this project away for next year!
From The Farm
If you don’t already know Ali, from Gimme Some Oven, is a good friend of mine. No, not the kind that you met via social media, but the kind of friend you’ve gone on ultimate road trips with, who has caught your tears over that boy who broke your heart, and even stood next to me at my wedding. Since we live states away we don’t get to see much of each other these days, but we do our best to schedule in a
girls trip work weekend when we can!
Ali asked me to narrow down the top 10 Things I’ve learned throughout my whole life thus far and share them with her readers! Ok, ok… it wasn’t presented quite like that, but that’s how it felt! I’m not gonna lie I probably stressed over this a bit too much (Cale is nodding his head yes…), but I hope you find some good tidbits and things to help you grow on your own journey. Plus, what is a good interview without a couple of fun stories about Cale and I from “way back when”.
Hop on over to read my 10 Things I’ve Learned and give my good friend some love! Who knows, you may even find a good recipe for dinner tonight as well. SCORE!
From The Farm
Grandpa and I have an on going love/hate relationship when it comes to the blackberry bushes on his 180 acres of land. It seems the blackberries have been planning a field take over for years and he’s constantly trying to slow down their progress by plowing em down with the tractor, spraying em, and even using sheep and goats to ward off their their attack. Although he’s won many battles, as he’s grown older, it’s gotten harder to win the war. I’m sure once Cale and I start maintaining some of the land ourselves we’ll have a good reality check when it comes to the battle over the blackberries, but until then… I love them soooooo much!
I love blackberries on top of yogurt, ice cream, in cobbler and pies, and even just plain in a big ole bowl filled to the brim! Every summer I count down the days and pray for rain till early July so that the berries are perfectly plump. Grandpa still doesn’t get my love for a fruit that only produces 2-3 weeks out of the entire year, but he enjoys watching me spend hours and hours holding back the cuss words as I reach in past the thorns and pluck out the most beautiful blackberries you could ever imagine!
For free I might add!
If you’ve ever been blackberry picking you know they definitely take some work. You have to dress up in long pants and long shirts in the heat of the summer. You also have to watch out for ticks, snakes, and bees, but other then that… they are so worth it! At least for me, I like that they take some work. It makes you truly appreciate each and every berry. Plus the scratches from the thorny bushes and stained purple fingers are mere battle wounds when it comes to the fresh flavor of hand-picked berries!
It’s true, I horde blackberries in the summertime like a squirrel collects acorns for the winter, and preserving my precious (insert Gollum/Smeagol Voice) berries is exactly what inspired this Sugar Free Blackberry Canning Recipe!
For me, its important to find canning recipes that are as flexible as possible when it comes to how I can apply my preserves to main dishes and desserts. This Home Canned Sugar Free Blackberry Recipe gives you just that! It cans plain ole whole berries in water only–not sweetened in a syrup–that you can then apply to any recipe. You can always add in a sweetness later, but you can’t take it out! Canning berries in water allows you to add sweetener to taste just before serving.
Picking fresh blackberries is a lot of work and finding ways to preserve them long after the summer months is what makes it all worth it! I’ve always struggled with freezing my berries because they Inevitability get mushy, take forever to thaw, and seem to bitter in taste from the cold temperatures. Canning your berries not only saves freezer space, but you can easily scoop out as many cups as needed without having to wait for the whole package to thaw. The Ball Canning Guide states that canning your berries in a sugar mixture helps maintain better color, shape and flavor. My results shown in the images of this post were canned last year. Overall I’ve found canning my fruit in water creates very similar results AND still gives me full freedom to add them to whatever recipe I want.
Plus, you can even use the leftover berry juice from the jar in your favorite summertime spritzer or on top of your morning yogurt!
Canned Sugar Free Blackberries
Yields about 6 Quart Jars
- 18 cups/9 lbs of blackberries (3 cups per quart jar)
- 12 cups of water (about 2 cups per jar)
STEP 1: Fill each jar with three cups of berries, or until filled 1/2 inch from the top. Gently shake the jars to pack the blackberries down without smashing them.
STEP 2: Bring a boiling-water caner or large sauce pot, 1/3 of the way full with water, to a simmer (takes about 30 minutes). Next, make a hot bath for the lids by filling a small sauce pan with 1 in of warm water. Keep the small sauce pan on medium-low heat with the lids inside the hot bath until you are ready to seal the jars.
STEP 3: In another sauce pan bring the water to a raging boil.
STEP 4: Ladle hot water into jars, on top of the berries until 1/2 inch from the top. If you run out of water just boil more as needed to fill all your jars.
STEP 5: Remove any air bubbles by moving a wooden or plastic (not metal!) utensil up and down the middle of the jar. Seal with hot lids and apply screw bands.
STEP 6: Process in a water bath for 20 minutes. Remove the canner or sauce pot lid, wait an additional 5 minutes.
STEP 7: Remove and let the jars completely cool and seal for 12-24 hours. If a jar lid still pops up and down when you press on it, after the cooling stage, the jar did not seal properly. Simply place this jar in the fridge and eat first. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.
* The Ball Canning Guide states that preserving berries in water-only will yield a less flavorful result, eventually dull in color overtime, and struggle to hold their original texture and shape. The berries shown in the images of this post were canned last year and I was pleasantly happy with my results. As you can see they have remained plump, purple, and tasty!
** If you are still cautious about your berries spoiling overtime or loosing some of their wonderful qualities I would recommend adding a small amount of sugar to STEP 3. Dissolving a 1 1/8 cup of sugar to every 12 cups of water (or 1/2 cup to every 5 cups of water) creates a ultra-light syrup mixture that will guarantee the best in flavor, texture, and color.
Blackberry season hasn’t fully hit us yet, but we are watching the berries closely as they turn from green to red to black! Last year we had a really wet summer here in Oklahoma so we were able to get four or even five good batches of picking in before the heat burned up the berry patches. Since I’ll probably be right around 40 weeks pregnant when the berries have fully ripened, I don’t plan on doing nearly as much picking as I did last year. My hope is to send Cale out to do some of the dirty work for me! After six years of marriage I’ve found a little cobbler bribery goes a long ways!
Happy picking and canning everyone! You can do it!
From The Farm
Stay tuned for two more canning recipes before the summer is over: Slow Cooker Smoke House Salsa and Canned Three Pepper Jam.
When I started to reach out to different creatives about re-launching our Creatives Near You Series Jana and Vanessa were at the top of my list! I first met Jana two years ago at an evening party at Altitude Design Summit. We instantly hit it off, and although we’ve never been able to meet up since then, I’ve enjoyed watching Jana’s creative businesses grow and change from an Organic Soda Company to running The Vintage Whites Market with her best friend Vanessa. Over the past year I’ve been impressed and inspired with their beautiful blog posts highlighting their homes’, favorite vintage finds’, yummy recipes’, and of course the latest on their Vintage Whites Markets’. Through their love of antiques and the thrill of the “hunt”, they’ve created a truly unique experience that customers look forward to every year. Named one of the top 25 markets to visit in the United States by Romantic Homes & Flea Market Style The Vintage Whites Market is filled with live music, the best vintage vendors around, door prizes, and great food and family fun.
“The Vintage Whites Market started in 2010 in a garage with 5 vendors, and has grown to be one of the most well-known and attended shows in Montana, with over 100 vendors and markets in 3 different states.” – Vintage Whites Market
Planning an event at this scale, with both coordinators living in different states, can be quite the challenge. I asked Jana to share how they break down the different tasks between two best friends and business partners;
“Vanessa takes care of managing vendors, Jana takes care of marketing and managing the website, and we both decorate and brainstorm the pretty stuff!!” – Jana
Q1) How did the two of you meet and develop a friendship?
Jana: Vanessa and I met at church when we were very young. We grew up together! It wasn’t until I moved to Montana that we realized what a great team we make. I love being in business with my best friend!
Q2) What inspired you to start your own vintage market?
Jana: Originally, we were wanting to open up some sort of vintage business, but it was so expensive! Vanessa had a booth at an antique mall and it just seemed like we could do something that would be exciting and make us some money. We started out as a monthly garage sale…literally out of her garage with about 5 other vendors. It was so small, but right away we realized that people were hungry for that type of event!! Within a year, we had outgrown her garage and moved to the field down the road with about 50 vendors. This year, we’ve expanded to three states…over 100 vendors, and growing! We are so excited!
Vanessa: We both were into selling vintage finds. Jana mentioned she had heard of someone who transformed their garage into a store. I knew several vendors that I thought might be interested in selling at a monthly sale. Then the ideas just came spilling out.
Q3) What made you decide to organize a vintage market instead of running your own vintage shop?
Jana: The cost! Eventually we would love to have a storefront of some sort, but for now, the markets are cost effective and so much fun! We love the excitement that our markets bring. I think we really have some of the BEST customers around!!
Vanessa: Its so much easier! And I knew from having a couple of my own “shabby chic” yard sales that people will spend money so much faster at a yard sale…because it’s only there one day. Plus we could spend the time between markets rebuilding our inventory.
Q4) You two live in different states, what advice do you have for building a business with a long-distance business partner?
Jana: Communication! Transparency! Humor! My advice is just to talk. Have regular dialogue with your business partner on how things are going, what you can do to make your business better, and have fun with each other! Finding someone whose business strengths are your weaknesses helps a ton too!
Vanessa: We are always texting about everything. We know that the each other work hard on the market AND have busy lives, so we both know to pull our weight. And we know how to disagree. We voice our opinions, debate, and we each know when to give in a little.
Q5) What has been the best promotional tool you’ve used to get the word out and drive traffic to your events?
Jana: Well, it used to be Facebook! They’ve made it a little bit harder to reach our customers, but in the beginning we relied on that to get the word out! Now, we use Instagram and LOVE it. We post pretty pictures and tell people about our market. It’s so fun!
Vanessa: I think having very attractive promo materials in stores was a huge help. And in the beginning, word of mouth.
Q6) We like the art of bartering, what are some tips for doing it respectfully?
Jana: Be polite, and by no means insult the item hoping that you’ll get a better deal on it. I just don’t understand it when people say things like “well it’s not exactly the right color, and there’s some dirt on the bottom. You didn’t get the paint in ALL the cracks…will you take less for this?”
Q7) What is your all-time favorite vintage find, why?!
Jana: The hardest question ever!! I think for me, it would be this gorgeous wooden shoe mold rack that I found at our market two years ago! It fits in any style of decor that I’ve had, it is SO versatile. I’ve had everything from plates to shoes to clothes on it!
Vanessa: I’ve always heard of these amazing finds that people found for next to nothing or free. Well I finally found my own one day in a habitat for humanity Restore. It was a crystal chandelier for $25.
Q8) List a few ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
Jana: I browse Instagram to keep my creativity fresh! Pinterest, blogs, magazines, music, and traveling also spark ideas. Vanessa and I have text conversations that just spiral into new ideas for shoots, blog posts, party concepts, you name it. They go on for hours!
Vanessa: I seem to get more creative when I have to…when we are brainstorming for something. I look at other ideas…on Pinterest usually, and something I see sparks an idea.
Q9) Describe a typical best friend date night?
Jana: I would have to say a movie, some kind of sugary treat, and a comfy couch! Give us a copy of Austenland and some ice cream anyday!
Vanessa: Shopping side-by-side at The Vintage Whites Market
Creative businesses come in all shape and sizes. It’s amazing to be me to see how an idea can spark from a monthly garage sale, into a full-scale event, on a national level, highlighting all kinds of local vendors and goodies.
Now, it’s time to pack up the gals and a big trailer for a weekend of treasure hunting! Mark your calendars for a show near you!
- July 5th – Downtown Somers, Montana
- Sept 6th – Downtown Somers, Montana
- Nov 8th – Fairgrounds in Kalispell, Montana
- Jan 9-10th – The Ranch in Loveland, CO
- March 13-14th – Utah State Fair Park in Salt Lake City, UT
Thanks for inspiring us Jana and Vanessa! Wishing you all our best as you continue to grow as creatives, business owners, and best friends of course!
From The Farm