When I was a kid my grandma would make us the best Halloween Costumes. She’d take us to the fancy fabric store and we’d spend hours looking at all the books with samples of the different patterns. It was always really hard, but eventually we’d narrow it down and she’d make our costumes completely from scratch. Now these were not your flimsy Big Box Retail Costumes, these were handcrafted, tailored, pieces of art that were made with lots of love (and blood, sweat, and tears I’m sure!). Back then we actually got to wear our costumes to school, which was always my favorite part. For a whole day we’d get to prance around in our homemade garb as a pretty witch, a silly clown, or for my brother; Captain Planet (which included a fabric six pack of course)!
Unfortunately my kids won’t have the same quality handmade Halloween Costumes I had as a kid, but I’m gonna do my best to make something a little crafty and original. The last few years we’ve participated in our church Trunk or Treat. As a family (including Cale’s five brothers and sisters and children!) we’ve done everything from the Super Mario Brothers to a Bakery complete with the most adorable cupcakes and cookies! This year everyone’s schedule is a bit more crazy than usual so we are trying to keep things fairly simple (although we say that every year!). I love a good hoodie costume cause you can buy the base at a thrift shop, purchase some felt for simple handmade add-ons, and finish with some fabric glue baby and you are good to go! Even if you’d don’t have a sewing a machine you can still create something unique and fun for your little minions that’s simple and one-of-a-kind.
Below is a roundup of links to some of my favorite easy handmade costumes. I’ve been searching for a particular hoodie tutorial myself, but you’ll have to wait until after Halloween to see our final costumes and theme this year!
- Care Bears by See Vanessa Craft
- A Minion from Despicable Me by Not So Idle Hands
- Octopus by dollarcraft on Instructables
- Unicorn by Fiskars
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Vanilla Joy
- Knight by fjnorm on Instructables
- Shark by Fiskars
- Little Red Ridding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf by Martha Stewart
A little bit of forethought goes a long ways! Halloween might be a week away, but I promise you’ve still got time to create you own costume that is way cooler than something from the store (and probably a lot less expensive too!). Get together with some of your friends for a craft night, and cut and glue your own hoodie costume together. Who knows, the materials you need may already be in an old box just waiting to be used.
What’s your favorite handmade costume? Leave us a link in the comment section.
From The Farm
Ok, here comes the real deal! Adjusting to two kids has been harder than we thought. I honestly don’t know what we expected?! It’s double the diaper duty, double the mouths to feed (with both boys being on very different diets… milk vs. solids), double the mess, double the laundry, and unfortunately double the exhaustion.
The first 6 weeks of Hardy Boy’s life have been tough, but we are slowly getting caught up on sleep, house duties, and a even fitting in a few blog posts here and there (Yay!)! On top of juggling a newborn and a toddler Cale has been working 10 hour days trying to finish a big project at work so things have been beyond stressful! I don’t know how we would have survived without the support of our amazing family and friends. They’ve rallied behind us and brought us meals, played with James so I could rest, folded laundry, changed stinky diapers without even questioning what we’ve been feeding our toddler for the last few days, and been that encouraging word and/or swift kick in the booty when we’ve really needed it!
My mom has reminded us over and over again; “Focus on what you have control over and let the rest go!”
And that’s exactly what we’ve been learning to do.
It’s ironic cause “control” is the last thing you feel right after having a baby. If anything the only thing you have “control over” is letting go. We’re learning to be ok with throwing all plans out the window, no matter how stacked up the dishes may be (or stinky), and being ok with resting instead. If momma isn’t healthy and happy she won’t have any patience (or love) to take care of two little minions, let alone motivation to do anything else!
Lets just say sleep has become an important part of our nightly AND daily routine. When the heavens open up and decide to give us a few minutes to a few hours we take it! We take it and refuse to feel guilty about it!
Everyone asks how is James adjusting? Big brother is doing better and better. Other then the typical smothering and randomly hitting baby with a car… for the most part he’s learning to share and is pretty sweet about the whole thing. I’ve been teaching him how to swaddle his stuffed cow and sing him to sleep along with Hardy Boy. There are days where the details of being a mom of two are a blur, but occasionally you’ll have these moments open up where time stands still and you know you are catching a moment that will never be again. Those are my favorite moments. When I have the camera phone down and I take a mental image that I’ll carry in my heart forever.
Hardy Boy is growing like a weed. At six weeks he’s already in 3-6 month clothes and seems to be too long for even some 9 month onesies! We are thankful that both of our boys have been good eaters and breastfeeding, for the most part, has been really smooth.
Some of the things we love about Hardy… He is a lover for sure. A snuggler that likes to sleep on our chests. I picture him as this big ole Oklahoma boy with a heart of gold, who likes hugs, and has a deep belly laugh. He’s not nearly as serious as James. James is gonna figure things out while Hardy Boy will just jump in and go for it. I already see it now. It’s amazing, beautiful, and a bit overwhelming! Pray for us as we learn how to shepherd these unique spirits we’ve been given!
Rest and good coffee to you all!
From The Farm
The crazy thing about social media is meeting people online that inspire you, that you get to actually chat with and follow their life on a daily basis, but yet you may never actually meet in person! Tamara Staples is one of those people in my life. She first stood out to Cale and I when we featured her beautiful Chicken Photography as an Everyday Design Blog Post. When I reached out to Tamara to ask for her permission about using her photographs we started emailing back and forth and following each other on Facebook. I love it when you reach out to an artist or maker and they actually have time to engage in real conversations with you. No matter how much traffic your feature may or may not send to their site, you can just tell when someone is genuinely thrilled that their work caught your eye and that you want to showcase it. I immediately felt that response from Tamara and have since then really enjoyed following her work as an artist and a commercial photographer in Brooklyn, NY.
I asked Tamara to give us the low down on what exactly it is she does when it comes to photography and her day to day life as a professional, mom, wife, woman, and friend.
“My usual schedule includes regular photography assignments such as book covers, magazine photo illustrations and other assorted jobs, for instance, a non-for-profit shoot about organic-raised chickens.
When I’m not in the studio, I play mahjong with a group of ladies, run 15 miles a week and enjoy time with my 8 year old son, Emmett and my husband, Bill Newell.” – Tamara Staples
Q1) What was is it about photography that made you want to pursue it as a career?
I’ve loved photography since childhood when I pinned a picture from a box of Girl Scout cookies on my wall. In this photograph, a young girl kneels in the sand behind her tripod and camera, staring out into the distance waiting for something to happen so that she might capture it. This girl struck me as a confident person, the kind of person I’d like to be, who was able to observe life around her in a non-threatening way.
Q2) What are some of the key factors that helped shape and develop your photographic eye?
I’ve always loved Irving Penn as a key source of inspiration, but for me, I need a variety of inspirations. All of life’s rich experiences influence my work.
Q3) What has been the most challenging, and the most rewarding part about being a full-time freelance photographer?
Free-lancing has its ups and downs. At times I’m so busy I can barely keep it all straight, and then there are times when no one is calling no matter how much I reach out to market myself. I can get a little blue, but my husband is always reminding me not to equate my self-worth to the momentary lack of work. The upside of the free-lance gig is setting my own schedule. I have the freedom to be with my family when I want or need to be.
Q4) How have you found balance running your own business and maintaining a healthy family life?
My husband works a healthy 75 hours a week so he’s not able to contribute to the day-to-day domestic duties. My photography hours pale in comparison, but when you add the care of my 8 year old, the domestic chores, my fine art work, marketing, my weekly Mahjong game and a 15 mile-a-week running schedule it can get very hectic. I’m incredibly independent, so it works for us, but not without a lot of juggling.
Q5) As a freelancer what advice do you have for networking and building a consistent client base?
Finding new clients outweigh the actual work by a wide margin, so when I get new business, it’s gold. The best advice I can give for building a consistent client base is to service each individual client with the best you can give, no matter the circumstances. I hire a lot of other free-lancers and if they are on set complaining about other clients, I generally won’t hire them again.
Q6) How has being a mom changed or shaped you as a creative person?
As a parent, I’ve become particularly efficient. And because I adore being a mom, I’m a happier, more fulfilled person. But being a parent is a difficult job. Figuring out how to be a good parent is ever changing, there’s so much to consider. When I go to work, I almost feel like I’m on vacation!
Q7) What are some tips for approaching publishers for a book deal?
There are many ways to get your projects in front of publishers. The most popular way lately is to attend a Portfolio Review. They are seemingly everywhere these days, but beware: they are expensive. However, you will meet face to face with the very people who could help you. Exposure is very important. Submit work to contests and the research to find the right people and contact them directly. I find the shotgun approach works best for me.
Q8) What is your favorite leisurely activity you do at home with your family?
We live in Greenwood Heights on top of a hill that happens to be the tallest point in Brooklyn. This apartment is new to us in that we purchased it in May of 2013. The reason we chose this apartment is because of the large balcony on the top floor with sweeping views of the harbor, the Statue of Liberty, a huge chunk of Brooklyn (including the BQE) and all of Manhattan. Every night after dinner, we rush to the balcony and watch the sunset. This is our favorite family activity. Nothing to do but watch the colors collect in the sky and the lights coming up in the city.
Q9) How do you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
Lately I’ve been shooting with a tungsten light that will focus. I love how the subject matter will sparkle and I especially like the sharp black shadows that instantly create a sense of design. Most of these images are “experiments” or “tests”, as we call them in the business. I’m showing my clients how this lighting looks great for the right project. It’s so important to try new things, to stay fresh and to challenge yourself.
Now, let’s all take a breath and savor each of these beautiful photographs! I just love the layouts and the way she makes you wanna study and see the art forms in ordinary objects. Truly amazing!
Thank you Tamara for taking the time to share more about your life and your work. I hope our paths do cross Tamara and maybe you can teach me how to play mahjong sometime?! I love card games. We play a mean game of pitch here in Oklahoma!
From The Farm
The beauty of a home is what it says about you. Why you like it, what it means and how that all reflects your values, lifestyle and culture.
Since meg and I are even now embarking on the journey of designing, building and living in our very own “modern farmhouse”. I thought it would be fun to collect a few plans that have at least inspired our thoughts, and impressed our eyes. I hope you enjoy these, I’m always browsing around the internet plan rooms looking for fun new designs and something with the proper rural charm that meg and I enjoy.
This home is the most contemporary design I’ve selected. I really like the play on verticality with the vertical cladding that runs from the peak of the roof to the foundation. It gives the home a sense of grounded-ness that I like, as if the building were growing out of the ground.
Breaking that verticality are two elements which are a lot of fun but could detract from the country charm that we like. These are the monolithic entry awning that expresses itself as an L covering the entry. Not sure what material they are expecting a simple country boy to use there. Also the white slats on the side of the home. I wish the slats had a little more purpose. They just kind of appear there.
All in all it’s a beautiful home that has inspired the shape and form that meg and I want to use. But we might “play” with the materials a little more.
The cottage, I had to include a home like this, it just wasn’t right not to. The truth is, a big front porch, a simple roofline and that “sit and chat for a while” charm is what we all remember about the farmhouses we love. So this one made the list more for what it represents than any specific design feature.
I hope to take the feel of the home above and blend it with the style of the first house we looked at. That to me is the true “modern farmhouse”.
So note the big porch, and the quaint feel, and let’s keep moving.
Nicohlas Lee (below and cover photo)
The home in the cover photo, and the one above are almost the same design. The one above is the jumbo sized version of the cover photo. I wanted to show that simple doesn’t always mean small. Think about a castle, since meg and I want 3-4 bedrooms many people kinda laugh when we say it will be simple. The truth is simple has nothing to do with size, it has everything to do with function and composition.
The long low profile of the house above inspires the prairie, much like Frank Lloyd Wrights prairie homes. Horizontals can be fun, and even awe inspiring. I like the way this home starts to open up and welcome people in, the full length porch begs for someone to sit on it, and a rocking chair would just look great right there.
I want a little more verticality, meg and I are working off of a two story idea at the moment, so we want to see the home rise above the plains a little more than this one does. But this inspired our heart for the farm, for the comings and goings on the porch and the early mornings or late nights sitting looking across the land.
I like how this plan orients each room to a porch access. Privacy isn’t a big deal when you live in the country, but independence can be. I also like the central hub that is the kitchen and living space. Everything moves off of that, and our home will be the same.
I’ll be back to share more as we continue to work through the design. I hope to share the Pinterest boards that we are building and the mood boards as we work through them. Stay tuned for more as we unveil our process and our home.
Thanks for reading.
Share some of your favorite home design links in the comments section.
From the Farm
With baby #2′s arrival we are still putting the final touches on Ascend Studio’s whole branding package, but we just couldn’t help but share a little piece of the finished product.
Ok, well… the logo is a pretty big part of that, but still!
At Green Couch Design we start every new job with a brand questionnaire that helps us outline initial expectations and project objectives. This process ensures that our final design compliments short and long-term business goals, provides basic brand standards, and simple verbiage that can be implemented into all aspects of our client’s brand.
“At Ascend Studios everything we do is for the love of dance.
We provide a space open to all academic dance and recreational dance classes, & small local events. By creating an environment that respects and celebrates the true artistry of dance we aim to educate and inspire a community-wide love and appreciation for dance.
At Ascend Studios one-hundred percent of our time and focus is on developing teamwork and technique. Our classical ballet curriculum provides foundational training that allows our students to excel in all dance forms and classes. We believe that dance is about more than a status symbol or a trophy; instead, it’s the combined reflection of our five Core Values: Discipline, Art, Technique, A Good Attitude, and A Love of Learning. Whether it’s ballet, jazz, tap, modern, yoga, ballroom, or country and western our goal is to inspire dancers to dance because they love it!” – Ascend Studios
The new dance studio logo is simple and classic in it’s flow and movement, yet showcases a bit of artistic flair and fun with a pop of coral pink. It is definitely feminine in curves and color, but still approachable to male audiences through it’s structured and clean aesthestic. Since the term “dance” is not directly in the business name it was important to help make that connection through the icon in the logo. Instead of using the typical cheesy dance symbols, the final icon can be interpreted in many different ways; as a tiara, as inward growth and strength, as reflection, and as a group of people working together as one. All these meanings, paired with the tagline, present the studio as equal parts fun and work, academic and recreational, and overall represent Ascend Studios’ ultimate goal of growing a community-wide appreciation for the art of dance.
If you live near the Midwest City, OK or East OKC area join us this Saturday, August 16th at 10am for Ascend Studios’ Open House! Meet Jessie in person, tour the space, enroll your wee ones, order dance wear, munch on goodies, and enter to win some great giveaways! If anything you can see the newest addition to our family and just say hi!
We’d love to see you there!
Can’t wait to see how the rest of this brand unfolds!
From The Farm
After many late night design discussions, floor plan ideas, garage sale hunts, IKEA pitstops, Home Depot trips, and Saturday mornings painting, sewing, sawing, and nailing things to the wall we are finally DONE!!
Our original nursery for our first born was a combination room shared with our laundry and dryer. We live in a small house so we have to take advantage of every square foot. When we found out we were pregnant with baby #2 we knew it was time to move the kids into a more permanent space that they could really grow into. Our friends, Andrew and Crystal, fit three little minions in one room so surly we could figure out a way to design and organize a space for two?!
We were originally going to share a lot more design thoughts and details of the room in this post, but felt like that was a whole nother post once we started it writing it all out. Instead, we just want you to enjoy these yummy photos and find some inspiration for your own kids room. Other then a few side notes we’ve added underneath some of the photos, we’ve kept it simple.
Toddler bed was a garage sale find for $10.00 while the white chest of drawers was a hand me down. We just painted the handles orange and called it good.
Buying baskets and/or buckets to fill all 4-6 slots seemed ridiculously expensive. Instead, we made these simple storage units out of old diaper boxes, craft paper, and orange spray paint. Look for a DIY on this project in the future!
Instead of plastic diaper pales we used 6 gallon metal trash bins with locking lids for dirty cloth diapers, laundry, trash, etc.
We used the same handmade curtains from our original nursery, but made another set to cover all the windows. Who needs fancy curtain rods when you can paint chunky dowel rods any color to match your room!
Small metal pails picked up at a hardware store were purchased to match the trash cans. They are perfect for storing and organizing tiny toys.
The whale poster is a free French Paper Sample that Meg had been saving for a few years now. It just fits perfectly in our adventure themed room!
These knitted mini puff balls bring a pop of green to the room, but also make great side tables, stools, and throw around pillows for the kids. Chairs are nice to have in a kids’ room, but they take up a lot of space. We probably could have figured out a way to make these ourselves, but since we were hand making everything else, we decided to splurge a little!
Even though our plywood accent walls were built to help insulate and cover up an unused exterior door, they also help separate private and play space.
We re-used and added a few more blue/gray shelves and orange hardware from our original nursery design.
Our old farmhouse doesn’t have closets in most of it’s bedrooms. Luckily, we have two boys so they don’t have a lot of hanging items. We made a make-shift area behind the door to hang a few fancy shirts, jackets, and daily travel/diaper bags.
It was a lot of work, but something we are very proud of. Cale got his white walls, while Meg got to have fun bringing in color through books, toys, and artwork. We’re working on a post now that will hopefully give you some design tips and rules to creating a shared kids’ space that is functional and fun! In our opinion, it doesn’t matter how “cool” it looks, if the space doesn’t work properly, it’s not doing it’s job! We love every nook and cranny about this room and are very pleased with how it works in the daily rhythm of our family.
We shall see how things progress as the boys continue to grow! Look for a more detailed post with our design breakdown of what makes a great shared kid space soon!
What is your favorite element of the new room!?
From The Farm
I haven’t met anyone yet that doesn’t love the thrill of the chase, the joy of finding that perfect home, or that first pass of the bulldozer for your new homes building pad. But very often, sometimes long before that moment, we lose sight of some very important pieces to this puzzle.
There are three things that are key in my mind to a successful and productive home selection process if you don’t know these three things, and have them written down you inevitably fall short of your expectations in the final product.
Home buying or home building either one requires focus, and it requires a set goal. Most people see that goal as a number of bedrooms, or a neighborhood they want to live in, but I say that it should be more than that, it should be more detailed and more intentional, thus the three things.
So here are the three things that Meg and I are considering as we make plans to build our home, and how I believe that they will help you in just about any purchase you ever make.
1) TIMEFRAME: This is a huge factor in any purchase, but especially in the search for a home. Whether buying or building your timeframe tells you everything about what you can and cannot do. It sets the field, and it defines the level of compromise you will be willing to make with the other two elements I’m going to share. You must define your timeframe and then depending on how long you have, set some intermediate goals within that overall space. This will give you benchmark points that help you to know if you are on or off of schedule overall before you get to the very end.
A schedule, which is ultimately the vehicle we use to define a timeframe and set goals/benchmarks along it, is a simple thing to create. If you are purchasing a home it might look like a set of dates with a number of homes that you want to look at by each of those dates. You could then include some time for closing, and final details, as well as move in. If building the schedule becomes even that much more important because you are in complete control of the timeline, and your decisions with your designer or homebuilder are key to how quickly they can move your design process and subsequent construction along. For those building I would set a timeframe in number of months. If it’s July of 2014, and you want to be in your home by July of 2015 then you’ve got 12 months. Make sure that your designer/homebuilder agree to the schedule and work with you on it. You can then set goals with the team you’ve hired so that you have goals for each month of the process. I promise this sounds like a lot of work, and this is not nearly as much fun as picking out bathroom fixtures or going shopping for furniture. But it’s worth it and it’s part of the recipe that will take you from we like this home to we love this home!
2) BUDGET: You knew I would go there… Budget is probably the number one hardest piece of the puzzle for those building or buying a home. There are so many little things that come up in the day to day process of finding a home or designing one. Then you catch yourself stuck in that moment where you’re out of money, but that fixture is exactly what we want, so it goes on the credit card, or pulled out of savings. It’s very easy to spend thousands more than planed especially when building a home, because all the pieces aren’t right there and easily identified.
One of the ways to define your budget is to determine an ultimate “not to exceed” amount. This is your bottom line, if you spend more than this you’re losing money on the deal. Then once that initial budget amount is reached pull back 10-15%, this is your contingency. You have 15% of your total budget dedicated to the unforeseen expenses. Then go through the remainder of your budget with your team, realtors, designers, architect, home builder, whom ever. Detail the rest of that money into the design, you can show a spreadsheet or just a general list of items and costs, depending on how involved your process is. For home buyers the list of items and costs will usually work great, if you’re building I recommend a full breakdown and cost estimate from your designer/builder. This will ultimately lead to you picking and choosing where you want you’re money to go. Unless your Mr. Trump, or related to him in some way, you probably won’t have the money to get everything you want exactly as you want it. Thus the compromise comment in the budgeting paragraph. Staying focused on your budget and making those hard decisions of where to spend the money will be easier with the next and final piece of the puzzle.
3) DEAL BREAKERS: Yep, just like a mate, your home buying/building experience has deal breakers. Even the most laid back and easy going shopper wants something specific. SO write it down. The first thing you should do, especially if you have a wife, husband, or significant other working through this process with you is to write down and discuss your deal breakers.
It can be white countertops, or 4 bedrooms, it can be a neighborhood, or certain kitchen appliances. But you will have deal breakers, and they will be important to the process. So every one involved should take a moment, a day, a week, to write down your deal breakers. This isn’t a dream list, this isn’t a Pinterest Board, this is your I can’t live without this in my life list. It’s the big stuff, it should be simple, straight forward and clearly defined. These are the things that you spend your money on, these are your priorities. Before you go looking at houses, before you run off to hire John Doe Custom Homes, you need to know that if it doesn’t have these 5-8 things you don’t want it… No matter how good the deal is.
To help you out in this, think of the things you love about where you live now, those are probably deal breakers, they are a part of your culture now, a part of your family process. Next think of the things you really wish you had, these are probably deal breakers as well. Now all of this must be considered within reason, you need to discuss these with a good friend who will; “put you in your place”, as Meg likes to say. Don’t be silly, and don’t be stupid. A hummer, or a private lake isn’t usually a legitimate deal breaker. So start there and see where you end, if your list is longer than a page, you’re probably asking too much, and you need a real honest review session. If it’s two items you might not be digging deep enough. I can’t tell you a magic number there isn’t one, but you’ll know it when you reach it because in that list will be a home, it will be all you know you want and need.
Are there other ways you have organized your process for a home?
From The Farm
Sadly, for those of us here in the Midwest, we’ve reached the end of our summers bounty. It’s always during this time of year when the heat starts to really kick in and the only thing left is your feisty pepper plants. I’ve always had a hard time figuring out how to preserve that last batch of peppers until I recently started experimenting with pepper jams. I don’t know if it’s because I’m pregnant or what, but I’ve truly fallen for any and all kinds of pepper jams–and any other types of spicy foods really! After staring at a giant bowl of peppers leftover from our garden I decided I had to do something! I couldn’t stand the injustice of just letting them go to waste, so I came up with this lovely Three Pepper Jam that is so versatile, and forgiving… even the worst caner in the world can make it!
The thing I love about this recipe is that you can seriously mix and match whatever peppers are leftover from your garden. All you need is three cups of chopped peppers. Personally, I try and break it down some so that I have a good mix of sweet, medium, and hot peppers, but you can mix and match however you’d like! I’ve even chopped and blended cups of peppers at different times and frozen them until I’ve had four cups of peppers to make the jam. Pull out those freezer bags of pepper juice on a cold winter day and I promise this Three Pepper Jam will not only help heat up your house, but your heart as well!
If you have never made jam before this is the perfect starter for you! It’s very forgiving and I love all the warm flavors that come out of it. Enjoy!
Canned Three Pepper Jam
Yields: About 8 Half Pint Jars
1 1/4 cup of sweet chopped peppers (banana peppers, green, red, yellow, or purple bell peppers, etc.)
1 1/4 cup of medium chopped peppers (jalapeno, Anaheim, etc.)
1/2 cup of hot chopped peppers (cayenne, habanero, Serrano, etc.
1 cup White Vinegar
5 cups of sugar
1 box of Pectin
STEP 1: Bring 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 let the lids sit in the hot bath until you are ready to seal the pepper jam into the jars in STEP 8.
STEP 2: If needed wash the jars with hot soap and water. Place as many as you can (might have to do two batches of jars at a time) in the simmering water without lids or screw bands to heat up the jars. Remove when you are ready to pour the pepper jam into the jars in STEP 8.
STEP 3: Wearing gloves stem and half the peppers in three separate batches. Discard seeds. Blend and pulsate each batch at a time in a food processor or blender until smooth and chunky. You’ll need to blend enough peppers for three cups of pepper juice.
STEP 4: Blend together all three cups of pepper juice and the white vinegar.
STEP 5: Measure exact amount of sugar into a bowl.
STEP 6: Pour the blended pepper juice and white vinegar, and sugar into a large sauce pot. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
STEP 7: Once the mixture is boiling mix in the box of pectin. Let the pepper jam return to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute, and the remove the pot from its heat source. Quickly skim off any foam from the top of the jelly surface.
STEP 8: Pour pepper jam 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 10 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 up to 1 year.
* WEAR GLOVES! The first time I prepped the peppers I didn’t think I needed gloves. Thought I could muscle through it and I swear my fingers burned for two days! Seriously, just wear the gloves. You’ll thank me later.
This summer we’ve canned some of my favorite salsas ever! From our Cilantro & Lime Salsa to our Smokehouse Garden Salsa we’ve used up as many peppers as we can. I also use peppers in our Canned Pizza Sauce and Tomato Soup & MORE recipes, but those dang peppers still keep growing! If you find that your tomato plants are finished and all you have is a bunch of peppers, I promise you won’t be let down by this wonderful Three Pepper Jam.
PLUS you can pour it on top of a block of cream cheese and it makes this amazing creamy and spicy treat that will have all your friends talking! It’s sooooo good and such an easy party treat to throw together without having to heat up the house or cook a thing!
How do you make the most of your last few garden peppers?!
From The Farm
(NOTE: Our baby boy #2 arrived healthy and happy exactly at 42 weeks! Even though I wrote this a few days before that, I still wanted to share it for those mommas that need an extra boost of encouragement and humor to get them through those last few days of waiting for baby. Hang in there!).
I’ve fought against sharing with you all that I’m over my due date (again). Not just over my due date, but approaching the 42 week mark (again). A lot of people freak out about this, so I’ve been a little hesitant to share my exact status, but you know what… it is what it is. I can’t help it that for whatever reason both my pregnancies have ran late. Either way I’m thankful to be surrounded by a birth team of professionals that I trust, that are willing to wait alongside us, and do all that we can to naturally let my body do it’s thing. Apparently our babies like to bake till their extra crispy, and outside of our septic tank collapsing into a giant sink hole in our backyard, the wait hasn’t been that bad! :/
It’s true… you can plan and plan for the perfect birth and yet the most random things will happen. We are doing our best to be patient and trusting this process. Even with this being our second time around, it’s still a day to day struggle of looking at the positive side of things. That in the end, someday… we will laugh about the poop hole in our yard right now (even though I may or may not have been crying about it earlier today). And that someday, like in the very near future, all that will matter is that we have a healthy baby and a new septic tank!
16 Positive Sides to Carrying Your Baby Well Past Your Due Date:
- You get everything done on your “nesting” to do list!
- You get to add more to your to do list, and then even MORE to that to do list!
- You are ready for labor! No matter how hard it is gonna be, you are willing to do whatever it takes to not be pregnant one more day!
- You are a master at prepping meals in bulk. The last few weeks have come and gone and each week you prepare a handful of crockpot and throw together meals for when the baby gets here. They are of course quickly gobbled up within the following week of “waiting” for the baby to get here. The pattern continues… you buy, you cook, you plan, and then you eat. Push repeat.
- Your friends on Facebook who had their babies “early” (and were due after you!) start sharing encouraging status updates about their babies being close to a month old (awesome!)! :/
- Any maternity shirts that have not already been stained on, have fully been worn to the point of being worn out and covered in stains. Meaning next pregnancy you’ll be due for a good shopping trip!
- You have a copy and paste message ready to go for when people text you and want a status update!
- You give yourself permission to take more naps. What else are you gonna do when you’ve finished everything on your to do list and your ankles swell up like vienna sausages within 30 minutes of attempting any other kind of physical activity?
- You begin taking on new crafts and planning for a “Homemade Christmas”… thinking this will be the year you make ALL your gifts from scratch (until baby gets here of course)!
- Since you are already peeing every 30 minutes and having to switch sides every hour during the night your body is prepped and ready for the 2 1/2-3 hour feeding/sleeping cycle when baby gets here! You’re gonna rock this breastfeeding thing!
- You have time to visit all the antique malls you’ve been wanting to checkout all year long. Where else are you gonna walk this baby out in the heat of July!?! Plus, your husband doesn’t question any weird vintage purchases you bring home, he’s just happy that you are happy!
- You get to eat your own words about “not skipping the process” (see #4!). :/
- You get some extra one-on-one cuddle and snuggle time with your first born (been enjoying that a lot)!
- You are an encyclopedia of momma information (experienced or not) because you’ve had time to read and re-read any and all books on baby, birth, breastfeeding, sleeping, and any other problem that could ever come up within your child’s first year. Guess you could always get a head start on potty training ideas…
- You get the royal treatment by total strangers who constantly offer to help you carry your bags and open your doors because it’s that obvious that you are indeed THAT pregnant!!
- You can sell off your newborn clothes and use that money to buy yourself a BIG FAT ICE CREAM CONE, cause let’s get real… you’re not birthing a 6 pound baby!
Whether you find yourself approaching 40 weeks, or well past… hang in there mommas! They can’t stay in there forever!
I’d love to hear some of the positive things you’ve experienced going over your due date or just general encouragement really!?
Happy waiting, and laughing, and crying… xoxo
From The Farm
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