Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Thank you so much for following my blog this year! I appreciate all the new followers, and always adore the older ones as well.

I hope to have a full 2011 covering our garden, business & our community. Please be well this season, and keep following us for a long time to come.

Thank you!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Analyzing Google Analytics

I find this to be a great advantage when determining what venue of advertising is working for me. I don't exactly 'take out ads' in the paper. I have the same budget as most other etsy sellers... $0 for advertising! So we take advantage of blogs, twitter, facebook, Etsy forums & what ever venue we can find. The true cost of all that is our 'TIME'. And don't let anyone fool you, running your business is not cheap... and you should put value on your time. I was told that during a meet with Small Business Association Office in Cary, NC.

So how do you know your time is not wasted? Well, Etsy offers you the ability to sign up for GOOGLE ANALYTICS and connect your store to their program. This program will track where your traffic is coming from, and how much traffic is being filtered to your shop from all your free locations.

Here's a reality check... I spend a hour or 2 each (and sometimes every other) day plugging my store. I use my blog, though its main focus is what I love... my passion for my garden, baking & supporting the local/natural food movement. I use facebook, but I have a private page, not a fan page that is open to the public. There is also Twitter, and I have over 700 followers so view & share my store links. A few times a week I post specials on Etsy's promotional forums & I also have listing available on another of my favorite websites BackYardChickens.com (because I will not be happy until there is a chicken in every yard in America!).

So how do I know whats working? That's a lot of hours in addition to my canning, gardening, baking & shipping I already have to do. I'm working at least 50 hours a week, 7 days a week to keep my business going!? How many of those hours could I be spending with my daughter? With my husband?

Well the answers are now clear! Or are they?

Google Analytics gives many charts to show how your traffic has been... it shows what sites they come from... how long they stay on your site... and what kind of return you are getting in traffic for your efforts.

I even get a laugh at some of this! Here's some google search keywords that had returned my Etsy shop, AND even got me traffic... though these keywords almost had nothing to do with my biscotti or jams.

Hippie Wedding Dress? Really? Hahahaha

Oh well, its not the point... it got me traffic... though you can see from the average time they are on my site being in the negative, those are not successful keywords to get me any sales.

Now here's how my front view is. It gives me a nice chart so I can see my traffic really averages from a lot of sources. That lets me know my time is not as wasted as I thought it may have been. My efforts are getting me clicks for sure.

Lets view a 'full report' of those top traffic sites. It appears REFERRING sites are biggest bang for the buck. Direct traffic through Etsy is pretty good too!

2950 visitors it pretty good to me, but knowing I've managed that I think we can increase traffic by focusing on where my greatest number of clicks are coming from. Which is? (After direct which is right on etsy) Its BRONTO email. Now WHAT is Bronto email? Well, I did some research when I came back with that same thing at the top of my clicks in September after I first set this up. It turns out BRONTO is the company that supports the email for Etsy that they use for mailings such as "Etsy Finds". You get that in your email? Well... so do THOUSANDS of other Etsy visitors. All those people who aren't frequenting etsy to catch a 'frontpage' view, can check their email at any time and see you in the 'Etsy Finds' newsletter. If you see the spike in my chart up about November 26th, I had nearly 500 clicks on one page of my store. That day, I had about 12 sales and sold out of Watermelon Jelly. I was featured in a newsletter by Etsy. That would be my choice advertising venue! (The next spike you see in the chart was a frontpage feature I received for another store item.)

I have learned something important here....

First, I am going to go through all my keywords in my listing and make sure they are working for me, and not against me. Secondly, I put more hours & physical time into Twitter to have it be my 7th avenue of traffic on my list. I am going to reclaim that time by only using twitter once a week and not 5 days a week. Thirdly, the BackYardChickens site offers paid advertising... and seeing it does bring me nearly 40% of my new visitors each month, I may go ahead and save me a few hours a week advertsing time, and just pay for a monthly revolving ad, it is very inexpensive! Lastly, I have learned that I adore the Google Analytics. I think you should really truly link your store.... keep up with it... and maybe you too will see how to save not only money... but time... and increase sales to boot!!!

And all this is FREE, Silly... go use it!!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Garden Neglect

We've gotten so busy with our stores... baking & woodworking... that the garden had gotten covered in snow last week before I got all the veggie out! I still have dozens of heads of cabbage, radish & lettuce I hadn't gotten out yet. Some of the cabbage seems fine though, and since its going to be back in the 50's and out of the teens here shortly... I hope they survive & give me a little more growth.

I picked the lettuce yesterday, a lot of it was bruised, but a few heads still had tender leaves. I think I have enough for 1 family salad. Thank goodness :)

I can't remember us ever being so cold in December or having snow this early in eastern/central NC.

Things I still HAVE to do in the garden to be ready for spring:

Till over the empty beds
Lay hay on the strawberry patches
Lay hay on the onion & garlic beds
Break new ground for the new 50' garden plot we have planned
Clear out the over growth near the pond where I want a new wildflower patch

These things will not wait for spring for me willingly. Especially when I have a feeling the strawberry crops in the spring or the surrounding farms may not be ready as early as they used to be. I have to depend on my own berries for Jam. :)

Will go out and photo everything this weekend so you can see how mother nature has beat on my garden beds this year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wand - Wizard Gift Set

Now available for your Harry Potter Fan for Christmas. Hand carved natural hard wood wands. Each coming with details on its materials... each one different! You could get yourself a 10 1/2" Walnut w/ Dragon Heartstring Core or an 11 1/4" Elder w/ Unicorn Hair Core. Stains ordered from oak, walnut & cherry. Some with delicate carved handles, and some with the woods natural curve. (All actually made from natural pear tree hard wood)

Each purchase comes in a gorgeous fabric bag with material tag, AND a "Hogwarts School Acceptance Letter w/ attached School book list for 1st years" - Addressed to your child; Dear Mr. (Your son or daughter's name here).

What a magical gift!

All for $25 + Shipping

Get your order in now before they are gone... and you may have to wait until you're a second year wizard!

Here are some sample pictures of what you could get! (Fabric bag colors vary, and you don't get to chose.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

We made it to Etsy's Front Page!

But it was 1am, and I was so very asleep. So I missed the wonderful moment! It was a great men's treasury too. I did manage to find a screenshot online though.

Don't forget to visit our shop this holiday season, we're having random great sales... don't miss any!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Harry Potter Wizarding Wands

It took a little longer then expected... but Brian and I worked on these wands today, trying to doing something similar to the wands from the Harry Potter Movies.

We stained them up in different shades, and the pear wood we used looks gorgeous.

I think if we had better weather here today we could have done better quicker. However, the winds have been whipping bad. Its barely 5pm, and its already getting dark... so maybe tomorrow he'll get more done.

I have boxes still to pack for orders, so the reality that the holiday is coming is setting in. To bed early this evening we will be going!

These wands are available for sale:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks From Fogl's Kitchen

We want to thank all out followers and customers this weekend with a special gift... we're doing a scavenger hunt for the best deals!

Today through Monday we will be hiding discount codes that range 5%-30% off. If you are good at searching, you maybe the lucky one to find the 30% off... because once its used that's it! Its only good for 1 person's order before its no longer active.

So have fun, check the likely places.

You have my blog, twitter, my shop and etsy's forums! (I will not do this on my facebook page as I keep that private, so it WILL be on a public page!)

Just so you know... if you read this, you are lucky... because here's a 15% off coupon just for you! code: THANKS15

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Been Prepping already today!

So we're one day early on our prep work... but it is so worth it!

Today I knocked out making:

Onion Dip

1 1/2 chopped medium yellow or white onions
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup Mayo
1/2 of a 16oz tub of sour cream
salt & pepper to taste

In a bowl mix sour cream, Mayo, chives, oregano, salt and pepper.

In a hot pan add the olive oil, then add the chopped onion and garlic. Allow to sweat until everything is translucent. Do not caramelize or brown the onion. Remove from heat and then let get to room temp. Then fold into the sour cream mix. Let sit over night before serving for the best flavor!

I had to taste test that dip for awhile... but I'm pretty sure I got it right! Yummmm

Next, I decided to reconstitute 1 cup of dried cranberries for my stuffing, and I just happened to want to make a warm cranberry/apple cider for the kids. So I heated the apple cider on the store add the cranberries, waited until they were nice and soft and the strained them out. They are in the fridge waiting to be added to the stuffing. The cider is back in the gallow jug to go back in the fridge. Thursday I will add some cinnamon, orange peel and brown sugar and warm it through to serve as our special drink. (I add a shot of Apple Schnapps to the adult drinks... here's where we hid that recipe to made our own apple schnapps!) I won't be cutting up the apples for our stuffing until right before I make it, I don't want them to brown.

I also took the opportunity to cut up all my root veggies and celery for the veggie tray. I put them in some  tupperware with cold water and put in the fridge. Its perfect because I made a lot of extra so use to snack on between now and then. Saves me a world of trouble when the little one or I want a quick healthy snack.

Tonight I will boil the shrimp for the shrimp dip... because I would LOVE to test that recipe next. I posted that back yesterday if you want to look back for it.

Lastly today, the turkey is IN THE BRINE! That was also in yesterday's recipes on the blog.

But I think I did good..... I will drain it out tomorrow night and put him in the fridge until roast time.

What a great full DAY!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Thanksgiving Menu - PREprep Items

I am sharing my planned Thanksgiving menu since I'm cooking this year. My plan is to get as much predone as I can as I can spend some of the day playing with the kids and actually getting to talk to my company.

First; the Turkey!

I have a 20lb bird my mother bought and dropped off last week. I took him out and put him in a sink full of cold water last night. He should be defrosted by tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow I have a 5 gallon bucket with Mr. Gobbles name on it!

The Brine:
Heat in stock pot 6 cups of water
1 cup kosher salt
2 cups of sugar
4 fresh branches of rosemary
4 bay leaves

When that has dissolved add to bucket w/ 4 cups of cold water & 4 cups of ice. As soon as that's nice and cool add the turkey and up to 6 quarts of water more. It should just cover your turkey (which may need to be held down with a plate and heavy crock pot or weight).

I do my brine for up to 48 hours before.

Ok, so what else can I do EARLY!

Well if you look back here: The Thanksgiving Bread Recipe
You will see I have my stuffing almost done. I will finish putting that together the night before by mixing my ingredients, stuffing in a casserole dish and then putting in the fridge until I pull the turkey out of the oven on Thursday.

My recipe for this load of bread:
I cube it up, toast it for 5-6 minutes in 325 oven. Then in a big boil mix the bread with any additional seasoning you may like. I like more sage myself. I then mix in chunks of skin on granny smith apples and dried sweet cranberries. (If my dad isn't going to be here I add some celery I heated in a pan with some olive oil on the stove top, you can add that part to the bread recipe above actually, but I don't have it up as my dad is going to be here this year, and he hates celery.)

Now add chicken or veggie stock to your mix, 1/2 a cup at a time until you get a moist consistancy... a bowl of mush! :) Add to a casserole dish and bake 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Night Before Crockpot meatballs:

Now I used ground turkey, its just what I do. I don't eat pork or beef, and once I recreate turkey or chicken, everyone doesn't mind I don't offer red meat.

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 bread crumbs
1/4 cup grape jelly (I do muscadine or scuppernog both available from Fogl's Kitchen)
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Tbsp Worstecher sauce
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
crushed oregano

To the turkey mash together bread crumbs, 2 tbsp tomato paste, oregano, salt & pepper, form into appetizer size small balls. Cover & Fridge.

In a separate bowl whisk together warmed jelly (microwave for 20 seconds), Worstecher sauce & Vinegar (you can always add a bit more salt and pepper here). Cover and put in the fridge to add over the meat balls in the crock pot in the morning. I put this in the crockpot on high for 2 hours and then turn to low. Should be ready in 4 hours at most. Perfect to leave in the crockpot to serve in a room FAR away from where you are trying to work! :)

Though I don't know if I am going to have time to whip this up Wednesday night or not, I MIGHT try it... so I'm going to share it.

Rachel Ray's Carrot Ginger Soup

The directions are on the site and its VERY simple. A good thing to do the night before, and reheat as a starter for Thursday.

Shrimp Dip w/ Sundried Tomatoes:

This is my own creation. Believe it or not, for me, this is me being CHEAP! As I couldn't afford one of those huge shrimp rings my brother and dad love so much. The 2 of them could eat 1 to themselves... and I want to spread out the shrimp a little further. So I found some lovely jumbo shrimp, I bought 1 lb for the dip.

I know sundried tomatoes can be pricey, but if you go back here: Sun drying tomatoes in my car
You can see I am well stocked from my own garden this year.

So, the dip!

1 lb peeled, cooked, chopped jumbo shrimp
Room temp light cream cheese, 8 oz
1/4 cup light mayo
1 tbsp fresh chopped chives
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsely
2 tbsp white wine
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes chopped
1/2 tsp of olive oil
salt & pepper

I mix this all in my mixer with the paddle attachment. I'll make it now, and put in the fridge. I will take it out in the morning to get back to room temp and serve with some toasted italian bread slices.

**note, I'm on a diet... so I do things with light and low fat options so I can at least have a taste too! Which means you can use the regular stuff, light is just a suggestion!**

Ok, that's it for all my item I will get set BEFORE Thursday. I will post later my day of recipes AND what the whole menu will be.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My letter on S. 510 goes to Washington

As there is a fight right now for which congressman will take the seat in Washington, my letter (once again) goes to Bob Etheridge.

Please note if you go back to my august blog posts you can read my correspondence with his office earlier in the year over GMO labeling. He voted in favor.

My letter:
"This is exactly why I didn't vote for you this past November. I wrote your office back in August about the labeling of processed foods using GMO crops. Sadly, your reply was rehearsed and didn't answer my questions. So I replied again with how I felt and why, and how disappointed in your I was I didn't get a straight answer on where you stood. Now I know of course, and I voted liberal for your seat. No wonder you are going to lose your seat now, and I not feel sorry for your lack of concern.

You claimed once you were a farmer, but you no longer do that hard work. You long ago severed your roots from those days. I've talked with a few local farmers who've mentioned you've spoken with, make promises and told them ideas for them that never came to light. Its a lose of faith.

Now this bill S. 510 comes along disguised as a food safety regulation. Problem is we have PLENTY of regulation, its just not enforced as it should be. And rather then do the LEG work, leave it to the government (with $$$ backing from lobbists) to push a pen instead. Later on we will only see small farmers stop growing like they have been, and give ag growing more. This bill just puts up brick wall limits on what a small farm can do before they hit the governments imaginary line. The line that will cost the little guy money he can't afford to try to cross. The farm will never have a comeback they were on their way to having recently.

Have you read this article?

Putting your 'feelings' aside, don't you see the potential growth... and the amount of growth already for the organic and small farmer? These are families. You are trying to stop families from achieving what appears to currently be a possible dream.

I am sorry that you side with big... but their pockets run deep... and you seem to just be standing their holding your hand out for your cut!

Shannon Fogl"

Do not vote for S. 510

Concerned? No? Well, you should be.

So I'm going to take this moment to make a political statement, which generally I don't do much of. I want you to read these 2 very different view articles on S. 510, a bill marked to regulate the heck out of our food from big ag. However, though it 'leave out the little guy' it in facts limits the little guy... including the back yard hobbiest.

So read a coverage store on Grist:

Now read the Wall Street Journel's take:

2 very different minds wrote that... but I want to point out, neither journalist, and pretty much NONE of the senators are farmers. Oh, like Mr. Bob Etheridge once stated to me, he was once a farmer in my state and fights for the little guy... but he is NO LONGER a farmer, and after speaking with a farmer who talk to the man once... like any politician he is NOT a man of his word. Which if you look back at my August blog post, you can see how he never bothered to respond properly to my concerns with our FDA & where he sided, and when I asked for a real response rather then a run around, no reply at all.

So how do you feel about S. 510? What is the amount of money a small farm can make before it is fined and fee'd to death? $100k, $200k, $1m? They say they are leaving the little guy out... but it more likely appears they are limiting the little guys growth and making promises to big Ag, that for the right price each year.... they will earn limitless growth and power over our food supply for many more years to come.

So please, write your rep and let them know that you intend to fight this! The hobby gardener isn't far behind... believe me!

There has been notice the bill is delayed BUT remember... this is not going to keep your food safe. There are plenty of regulations in place already. Maybe they should pass a bill saying they should actually take the time to enforce what is already there before they start asking for more poorly worded regulations to be put in place!


This will not save any lives, but make things difficult for others... just throw it out!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thank You So Much to CityKitten For the Gift Guide Feature!

I think its wonderful that she has featured one of our products on her Holiday Gift Guide: Treats under $25

Please go read her article, click on the shops and follower her blog....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do I ever stop baking?

That answer would be NO! I had 9 lbs of biscotti to bake today for orders, and still managed to make dinner and bake a pumpkin pie.... but not ANY pumpkin pie!

I wanted to try something new, so I did a search online for pumpkin with marshmallows and found a few no bake one's I've seen before. I wasn't too thrilled with the choices, and my books didn't have much. So, I winged it and this is what I came up with.

Marshmallow Pumpkin Pie

1 Package 10.5 oz mini marshmallows
1 cup pumpkin puree (I make my own from roasted pumpkins)
Mix this until a smooth mixture over a double boiler and set aside

In a separate bowl with a mixer combine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin spice (I did Chai spice with some extra cinnamon)
5 oz evaporated milk
3 Large eggs
pinch of salt

Now whip the pumpkin marshmallow mixture into that. 

Add to a deep dish graham cracker crust and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Canning Cranberry Chutney

This WONDERFUL chutney is going to make the perfect thanksgiving left over sandwich. Its sweet, but kind of like a relish.... so it could be a side, but its an excellent condiment! Look out for it in our shop for the holiday.

Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Cranberry Chutney

4 c fresh cranberries
1 1/2 c sugar (I use sugar in the raw)
1 c water
1 tbsp chai spice mix (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, ect)
2 Large Rome apples cored, chopped (skin on)
1 medium yellow onion chopped fine
1/2 c golden raisins
1/4 c regular raisins


In a large stockpot, combine cranberries, sugar, water, & spices. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the cranberries begin to pop, about 10 to 12 minutes. Adjust the heat so the mixture simmers.

Stir in apples, onion, and raisins. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until thick, 15 to 20 minutes longer, remove from heat.

Pack into sterilized half-pint jars, and follow your favorite directions to process in boiling water bath canner. Makes 6-7 half pints.

Whole Wheat Thankgiving Stuffing Bread

Saving myself a few bucks, and some time on Thanksgiving with this one thing ready to go! A loaf of bread with all my seasonings right in it. Just need to freeze it until 2 days before, then take it out and leave it to thaw and the start to stale. Then Thankgiving, chop it into chunks, add my green apples, cranberries and chicken stock before being the dressing into the oven.

Whole Wheat Thanksgiving Stuffing/Dressing Bread:

Prep Yeast Base:

4 Tsp Dry active yeast
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Cups Warm Water
(Mix and let rise 30 minutes)

3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup veggie oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp Mrs. Dash
1/2 tsp rosemary crushed
1/2 black or white pepper
1 chopped small onion

(Mix together in separate bowl, then add 1/2 cup at a time to yeast base until all is smooth)

Knead mixture about 10 minutes (or with dough attachment in mixer is quicker). It will be elastic and smooth.

Cover with a tea towel in a warm spot. Let rise in oiled bowl 20-25 minutes.

After it has doubles in size, punch it down and separate it into 2 loaves. You can manipulate into any shape you want, putting slits in the top, and brushing with egg white to brown. OR you can put them into loaf pans, still putting slits in the top and the egg wash. Your choice!

Let rise another 20-25 minutes and pop into a 375 oven for 20-25 minutes. Top should be a pretty brown.

(For a crustier bread put on a pizza stone in the oven when you free form it.)

Rising beautiful dough:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Husband's Woodworking & Reclaimed Garden Items

The man who has inspired me with creativity and the love of his trees. (He insisted on our fruit trees and still wants more) Goes as far as finding wasted items, metal, wood, ect, from job sites and it turning everything into functional garden items, and home decor! You'll find things such as Mason bee houses, Bird houses, wood buttons, signs and more on his new Etsy store. Special orders are available there... or through me here! :) He's really enjoying what he's doing, so help support his passion and go green at the same time.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Would You Like to Stop in and Eat at Fogl's Kitchen?

 All our friends and family sure like stopping by. They get to taste test so much too. There is always extra preserves, a few extra quarts of pickles to opened, a new pot pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie or biscotti to try! I'm already feeding the masses.

I do all this while trying to support our local farms, and farmer markets. I suggest people stop by many of the places I do as if I was going to the market... like Holland Farms. They've been growing produce and selling it from Holland Rd/Purfoy Rd in Fuquay Varina since the 1700's! Yet so many people don't know its there. I give directs and people have passed it 100 times and never noticed they could stop at the stand and buy the most amazingly fresh produce, eggs, jams, honey and handmade gifts. FOR LESS THEN THE GROCERY STORES!?

Anyways, the economy has made me feel I would never realize my dream to open my own bakery cafe. That internet sales and private orders may be my only venue. But I won't allow that to keep me down, because I know this can and will be a successful business... if it wasn't, my internet sales would not have tripled in these hard times.

So I am here to let you know, we will be collecting donations to start this business! So know that soon you will be able to stop in, say hi, grab some coffee and fresh biscotti and hit the road whenever you like.Though I would love to start a completely new shop w/ all required purchasable items, we're looking at $20k! I am hoping, since there are a couple bakeries and restraunts for sale, for $10k we'd be able to get in on one of those and get a loan to remodel and get into business even sooner.

We've found a way to collect these donations, from people who shares our views and tastes, that makes you know your money is going to the right place. If we don't get enough to get started, you get your money back. If you want to put in extra... you can. Through Kickstarter.com you'll be able to learn more about our business, know they doing to this for a good project, with good food for a good cause.

Here is where you will find our profile: http://www.kickstarter.com/profile/biscottiqueen

You can't donate just yet, we're waiting on approval from the site. We had to prove we're the real deal!

But please... share this with your friends... your family... whomever you think would love to see this grow and evolve. Even if you could never possibly visit our cafe, we will still run Fogl's Kitchen online and will always ship the goodness that is NC to anyone who wants a taste!!!

****Update 11/10/10 **** 
Kickstarter has not accepted us. Though I am told I am not a good food, I have been informed someone with a similar plan across the country has been accepted and I don't think they want the $$$ competition across the site. My plan is to resubmit the plan in Feburary.

Until them I am planning on starting some fund raising on my blog, and maybe through facebook and etsy. All I am trying to do is get a small amount in which to show my seriousness to take out a loan for the rest.

Our plan for a cafe/market place isn't only for our business, but we want to help sustain and raise up the troubled local farms that are part of our community. I want the customers and community members try to keep their $$$ in the community. We want to donate space to local artists to share our walls. We don't only want to be a business, but we want to make a difference.

If you are interested in helping, even donating $1 to try to get this dream off the ground I will be setting up a way to make donations through Paypal. I will be giving coupons and rewards for larger donations!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fogl's Test Kitchen!

Now you have a chance to purchase a 'sample' of our newest inventions rolling through the kitchen. We need tasters to vote on new items before we introduce them to our shop. A tester is 2 pieces of biscotti (either 2 of 1 flavor or 1 each of 2 different flavors). It is $5 to receive the samples, and this does include shipping.

Currently we have 2 test subjects going you can try from; Whole Wheat Honey Cherry Biscotti & Green Tea Biscotti.

We'd appreciate any comments on flavor & what changes you would make to posted to our blog, facebook or private conversation through Etsy. We are proud of our product and we want you to know that you are sampling a product we have not decided is good enough to make it into our line up yet. This is a chance to get your voice and opinions heard though!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Private JAM PARTY 2 Hour Class

Been wanting to learn to can fruit, make your own jams for christmas or birthday gifts? Now is your chance to learn, in your home, and with friends! Have a Canning Party at your own home.

I teach a 2 hour beginner canning course. We set this up as a group course for you and your friends. (5 people minimum) Classes on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon times. You choose.

In the 2 hours you will learn all the basic of Waterbath canning.... sticking to in season produce. Each person in the class with get to keep one jar from the class as well. Take notes during class, but everyone will get a packet to take home as a refresher w/ extra recipes to try!!! All equipment is brought to site, and we clean up after class. We also meet up with your before so you can get an idea of who we are, and what a fun class this will be.

The class is $25 per person and is due at the time of scheduling. If canceling a class, 50% of deposit is not returned if less then 1 week notice on cancellation. (This is 50% less then the county offers for a similar class.)

Its a fun thing to do with family and friends, and get you ready to have the most creative gifts to give this holiday. Next year we'll have advanced canning classes available we'll be holding in Fuquay for larger groups.

This month's canning class will be apples... Fresh packed canned and caramel apple jam. YUM! Get your best friends together and schedule a class now before we fill up for fall.

This class is only available within 25 miles of Fuquay Varina, NC... this includes locations Cary, Holly Springs, Clayton, Apex, Lillington and small surrounding towns. (If you would like me to travel further for an 'afternoon' only class it can be arranged for any extra trip charge.)

I will schedule a meet up with you to discuss what the course offers and if there is anything extra you'd like included.

We have large group specials, if you have the facility to use for the # you want there. Maybe your church would like to set something up for 30+ members. Please contact me for any ideas you may have!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Proud Silkie Mama

Alpha brought us home our first blue ribbon. I now owe him a new girl friend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's not fair!

I'm a little bummed... so far I have entered 12 competitions at the NC State Fair and walked away with NADA. (To the best of my knowledge, there is an issue with the jarred goods and when we went to look to see who won, the names were all covered up.) Tomorrow is my last entry... my sweet White Silkie Rooster 'Alpha'. I'm hoping he's my ticket to my last chance at a ribbon! If he wins, I will be buying him a nice new lady to make me blue ribbon chicks!!!!

Go Alpha!!!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just a Wee Bit Tipsy.

Well make sure you're on my Christmas list this year, I'm gifting the naughty to the nice! Back in August, if anyone remembers, I started taking fruits and soaking them in vodka to create our own fruit schnapps to give as gifts. (Link to the original post here: Fruit Liquors )

Today I have used the bottles we've collected, sterilized them, filtered out the fruit (which were yummy from what I tasted), and poured into the bottles to gift. A couple were sweetened with a homemade sugar syrup so they could be drank as a cocktail. The rest are pure fruit and liquor and are great straight up, or as a mixer.

Not that I have a lot of time lately, but I needed the jars the fruit were fermenting in. I do think 7 weeks was plenty though for flavor. Some sites said as much as 4 months... some said only 4 weeks. I would say 2 months is about perfect using pint or  quart jars, which is what we used here.

I must say " DO TRY THIS AT HOME! "

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I warned you!

I've been so busy working, getting the garden ready for another attempt at fall planting and getting the jars to the State Fair for competition that I've been neglecting my blog audience. Accept my apologies please?! Give me 2 weeks and I'll be back on the ball... I promise!

P.s. - I transplanted the grape vine cutting into its own bed by our driveway fence last week, its finally big enough to be transplanted. I also planted 70 onion bulbs and 100+ gloves of garlic since Saturday. I have MANY more to go, and getting ready to build another raised bed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Catching You Up

Sorry I seem to have been away from the blog. My business really picked up for a short time, and that was followed by more apples, pears and grapes that needed jamming. I'm rushing to restock the very little there is left to do this time of year. As you know, the autumn harvest is heavy, but its short!

Next week also happens to be the NC State Fair. This is huge, the whole state and even surrounding states show up for the fair every year. There are tons of competitions to enter.... from canning... to baking... to animals... to produce... ect. So I have decided to enter 8 of my most popular jams, 1 of my favorite salsas, a batch of my most popular biscotti and I'm even entering my favorite rooster Alpha (a white bearded silkie). So I have 4 different days I have to go up to the fair grounds to get my entries in and judged. Plus I need to make time to take my daughter for the rides on one of those days. My neighbor's business is going to be at the fair from open to close the entire length of the fair (Oct 14-24). That means hubby and I will be their animal care takers. They're dogs, cats, chickens and rabbits need feeding.... and I'll have to water their fall crops as well.

This is all just to warn you, if I disappear again... I will probably return with blue ribbons in a couple weeks! :-D

To catch you up whats been going on at the homestead, other then the above preparing of business and competition, I've found after the recent flooding, a few of my lingering tomatoes finally bulked up what was left on them. I got a few ripe ones, some ripening and a bunch of green. 13 lbs of green ones alone (and if you recall, I've pulled out more then 1/2 of the tomato plants that were done last month). So I'm hoping some time in a cardboard box and tissue paper with finish ripening the harvest. If not, we'll be having green tomato chutney to can soon.

If anyone is interested, I still have 3 Black Tailed White Japanese Bantam roosters looking for a good home. Because if they stay here, they're going to be dinner!

Here's also a sneak peek at some of our newest jams that will be available soon... but not all yet ;)

Plum & Sliced Almond Jam

Vanilla Pear Butter

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Another Feature on Etsy's Finds Newsletter/Blog

How lucky are we? 3 Etsy Finds features in 2 months. We do have some lovely jams, jellies and biscotti... and we're so thrilled to know Etsy thinks so too! So now is a great time to give us try. :D

The wonderful article (which we totally agree with how easy it is to be a little greener): For the Greener Good

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Black Bean Harvest

Thought the plants have died back mostly, there were still come green pods left hanging. I would have felt better if all the black beans had dried on the plant, but only about 1/3 of them did before I harvested. That is ok though, I set up a screen with good air flow to help dry the remainder of the pods so I can shell them all at the same time.

I did 2 harvests of black beans this year. I planted 4 seeds someone gave me and only 1 sprouted. I was a bit bummed, but I got 8 oz of dried beans out of that one plant. It grew, and dried so quickly I was SURE I could get a second harvest. So I planted beans from the first harvest (20) and 14 sprouted to give me this 1 gallon harvest. So I was able to get 2 harvests out of them! I will do this again next year and rotate my crops as well.

Soon I will report back with how many actual dried beans, by weight, I got and if they are enough for my small family. Though I do think I would have used another 20-25 plants to be honest.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Trying New Mixes!

I've been creating jam as if its going our of style! All this wonderful produce coming in and I just can't help myself by making some of my favorite flavors ever while I can. I've put together apple and pear and set it off with a bit of vanilla... I've got some dried cranberries and re-hydrated them in some fresh hot apple juice I made from some of those cortlands, I whipped up a new batch of Cantaloupe and ginger with the last 2 cantaloupes of the year, and today I am taste testing a new flavor 'Mojito' a combination of lime, mint and rum. The limes are imported organic, and the rum... well, its good rum, and the mint is from my garden of course.

So its been a busy busy couple of days around here! Just wanted to share what's been going on. Time to get back to canning.

Cran-Apple Jelly

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's Apple Day!

With harvest season in full swing, today I broke into my second bushel of apples. The first bushel I finished about 2 weeks ago, and those were some super yummy winesap. They were low on winesap and wouldn't be able to get me another bushel for another 2 weeks, so this week we have Cortland apples. Very crisp, reminds me of the apples I grew up in Connecticut with. Much larger then winesap, but hey have a squat donut type shape.

I must suggest this as a MUST try variety. I was told they are an old a variety developed in NY. But not sure about anything with their rootstock. If I knew, I would probably make room to plant a few of these out in our mini orchard. Knowing my area though, for most varieties, I don't get enough chill hours in the winter. These were NC mountain grown.

But for now, I will leave you with gorgeous photos of the apples and the works in progress. Including Apple Jelly, Apple Pectin and Apple Butter in the crock pot!

I am going to leave you with my Crockpot Apple Butter recipe:

(4 Quart size) Crock pot

Peel and core 12-16 apples, chop into 1" chunks
Put in crockpot on high, add Cinnamon (1 tsp), nutmeg (1/8 tsp) and ground ginger (1/4 tsp).
After for 2-2 1/2 hours use a stick blender to puree (or put in your food processor)
Add back to the crockpot on low, mix in 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 cup white sugar and let simmer for 12 hours.
If the mix is still watery remove lid and check every 30 minutes until the mixture is thick and jam like.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall Garden

Well I just planted head cabbage, chinese cabbage, broccoli and carrots in the last 2 weeks. I see next to no sprouts and I am thinking of replanting some things. However, I am OUT of carrots.

Next week I have onions and garlic coming and that bed for those are set to go. I just finished ripping out the corn and watermelon there.

I wanted to show how much of my garden has progressed, and what I am ready to finish with next.

Acorn squash has gotten bigger then baseballs finally, and I even found a couple of new ones on the vine. So I've found a total of 5 squash on one vine. Should I prune some off if I want these to ripen?

Then I was over joyed to see my black beans are done. The foliage is dying back, and that means the beans will start drying soon. These will be storage beans for some of my favorite spanish dishes over the winter.

I did find this funky looking bug on my beans though? What is it? Kinda looks like a lizard of some sort. But honestly, this thing is tiny. like 1/16" the size of my finger nail.

Check this out... my first butternut squash has appeared!!

Now this is my sprite melon... I'm supposed to wait until the flesh is white to pick... so I'm guessing I need to wait like I did with my watermelons. Wait until the tendril starts to brown and separates easily from the melon. It really is tiny cute!!! No bigger then my acorn squash is now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Etsy Finds Blog Feature On Friday September 3rd

Thank you Etsy for another fabulous feature in your Blog on Friday. I've had wonderful sales, and again have met some of the most wonderful people from Etsy possible. Also so nice to talk to people who appreciate homemade items, and crafts.... things made from love!

Here is a link to the wonderful blog topic: HUNTING AND GATHERING

Found out this morning we also had a featured item over on Larks Crafts Blog as well!
 A wonderful autumn theme, with some GREAT items from all over Etsy sharing a common cool weather theme. Now, if only it would cool down more here. :)

Thanks so much to all our followers, customers and people who've hearted our shop in the past year, its you who've made us such a success!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

...And my garden keeps growing!

I've been tied up in jamming and canning lately I've been neglecting and falling behind on the garden chores. I admit, I forget to water, I forget to weed. It wouldn't be a huge deal if I wasn't so 'organic' in everything I do. Which means no spray, no powders... just man power keeps it rolling! So I went out and removed dead and lost plants yesterday, not as bad as I thought it would be.... removed weeds.... not so bad either thanks to lots of mulch this year.... and harvested a good amount of quality produce that wasn't torn up by bugs.

I also had more fall producing items then I thought. I've been a bit behind on planting for fall as well. I have packets of carrots and broccoli I'm still trying to find space for. I ordered garlic and onions... but they are not here yet so no rush there.

So I photoed what shocked me about my garden most after all the neglect... the fact things are growing and producing without me! :)
Beautiful leeks I planted in spring, they went dormant for the summer but I noticed they started back to growth recently.

One of 2 acorn squash on this vine looking happy and healthy. Though I saw ants going to town on the vine itself... I'm afraid there may be a vine borer at work somewhere in the tangle. I already lost 6 pumpkin plants to vine borers this month.
This was a fun little experiment I forgot about. This is a sprite melon. Very popular new breed melon in NC. I bought one at a farm stand and it was a nice melon for the size. About the size of your fist, green flesh, like a mini honey dew. Pretty yum.... so I save a few seeds and threw them out in the yard. Its a tiny vine, Maybe 18" long and it is showing to have 2-3 melons starting on it already. Hope there is enough summer left for them to ripen? We'll see.

I'll share more pictures after today. I made sure there was time this afternoon for daughter and I go out and at least plant her raised bed by her playhouse. She's just not going to be happy when I pull out the pole beans that FAILED to produce a bean larger then a safety pin. :(