Just in case you didn't know it, I got my start writing stacked cookie recipes in mason jars years ago, which led to stacked dinners, stacked cakes, cakes baked in pint mason jar's and the rest was history. I stepped up from hobby, to e-Bay and then off to this site and Amazon. The intrigue with a mason jar is that it offers an affordable packaging solution first and product second. Typically we create products and then are stumped as to how to tastefully and affordably wrap them. At times the packaging can cost more than the product. This is not true with the economy of a mason jar.
This newsletter was not my intended line of subjects for this issue, in fact, I wanted to wait another month to submit this. But so many people are now e-mailing me about what they are making for Christmas and it seems everyone is starting without me! Therefore--this issue is dedicated to those, like me, who have no clue what we plan on giving this coming holiday.
When you make a home made, one of a kind gift, people know you care! Oh, the things we can do with mason jars! Generally found at Wal-Mart, I also look at grocery stores because I have come to like all the brands for various reasons. That would be Ball, Harvest and Kerr. I love Kerr to use as economical and pretty drinking jars, as I have discussed before in other parts of the site. They add such a French Country look and flair to the kitchen, as well as a cute way to store some smaller dry goods I use in the pantry. Harvest has nice mugs with handles and tiny versions for spice mixes, normally used for salt and pepper. I find 17 teaspoons of anything fills up the tiny harvest jars and added my spice mix recipes for that container. To the right is a pretty 4 ounce Kerr jar, I cannot find a photo of the 8 ounce version I use at home. Below is an example of the tiny Harvest salt jar I use for spice mixes. The Harvest line is usually found at Dollar General and how can you beat 50 cents?
People often e-mail me if I carry mason jars. I am not sure I would want the liability of shipping glass, I don't know how the major companies do it with no breakage, and I am not sure I want to know. Beyond The Bathroom Chemist, my best selling book is "The Kitchen Art's Collection" and that is just full of stacked recipes in jars, that I tested endlessly years ago to be sure the final products were awesome. I refer to that book all the time. It is some 200 pages and also includes Mabel's Ten Best Spice Mixes and Dry Drink Recipes, and other gift's in jar ideas. In the last few years I have noticed these filled jars I wrote about years ago in Cracker Barrel and everywhere I turn and usually for $9! Click the photo on the left to learn more about the Kitchen Art's Collection.
Idea's to put in mason jar's?
Some examples include the Herbs de Provence Recipe below, presented in a smaller mason jar such as the one right above, is one unique and cute idea. Dry drink recipes, dip mixes, memory jars are very popular right now, complete with photo's and other goodies that are tailored around things the recipient loves. Candy in bright wrappers, tiny stuffed animals, silk flower buds, toy cars.
I think one of the least known area's of the Mabel site happens to be the holiday recipe postcards that can be e-mailed to a friend. I really enjoyed doing them a few years back, and offered free great recipes right on a very cute card. I would encourage anyone to take a look and consider them one cool thing to e-mail a buddy or loved one. There is no charge. There are also dynamite ones for Thanksgiving and other events as well. Click here to see the line of recipe cards..
The Art of Making and Selling Gift Basket's is one of the first books I wrote and just full of ideas most people would never think of, like where to buy discount items, how to take labels off with a blow dryer and permanent marker off with hair spray. You really do not want people to see you bought there treasures at a discount, if you did. That is just the start of the book which then goes into many themes and just how to arrange everything. I used to make lots of them for my staff, is how that all got started. I could make a $100 looking gift basket for $10.
I tend to give away my work to the Girl Scout's whenever I am supplied an e-mail of proof of a troop. Recently one enterprising troop of Girl Scouts asked me to write more about gift basket making in this issue and also made a clear request for a dry Frappuccino Recipe such as Starbucks offers. Now, I am not sure how old these girls are, but I can only assume the recipe is to make, market and sell to adults or for parents! I just thought that was so cute.
If you cannot afford the e-book or spiral bound book, which I am always referring to myself--there is so many ideas, then here are some flat out basics to assembling a nice basket. I will address the Frappuccino recipe after this article.
Basics of Gift Basket Assembly
Baskets with handles are best. Don't pick a basket too big. Use lots of shred to build the basket up as high as you can because the shred will settle down after the weight of the products are placed on it and you may be disappointed. Build up, not out. After putting in the shred, I place the heaviest items in the middle, such as a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne and I use a thin floral type wire to anchor the neck of the bottle to the basket handle. I buy gold colored wire for this. I place the bottle in the basket at an interesting angle, not straight up. Once the main eye catcher is there, whether it be a coffee cup or whatever your focus, you build your complimentary products around it. Double stick tape helps stick items to other items and helps them stay put, such as if I make a fan of five tea bags, to stick over a large bar of chocolate. I do not always use just discounted products in my baskets, I always add a few items in that I buy retail such as cheese, that would not be able to store well as items like jams and teas would.
It is hard to photograph a basket already wrapped. So the one above will have to suffice to get the idea of "building up." The photo above also has no handle--however the ting ting stick out at an angle gives the piece of art movement. I like a "present within a present" idea and that is where some items are gift wrapped and then placed in the basket in plain view before wrapping of the final present--the basket itself. I often hide another surprise, such a chocolate Twizzlers under the shred so the recipient gets another surprise when they think the goodies are exhausted. I use gold foil candy to fill any bare looking spots and then may throw curled ribbon on the inside attached to the top of the basket handle prior to shrink wrapping. For my three daughter's, I make three large baskets and do them up great so that takes care of one big item under the Christmas tree. Since they are no longer rug runners, and young adults, I have to put CD ROMS and other stuff they like in these baskets. I have not quite figured out how to stick a whole sound system in a basket.
I always have large shrink wrap bags on hand and when I am done, that are much bigger than the basket. I usually need someone to hold the bag open while I set the basket at the bottom. When it is in the plastic properly, I grab the top of the bag, just above the handle, like a tepee and tie it off with a piece of thin wire and then fan it out. At this point the basket does not have to be hit with a blow dryer, but looks nicer if it is done such as they do in the department stores. When using heat evenly and carefully, I have to hold the top so that does not get hit by the heat. I need the top the stay fanned out. Anything can be stuck inside the top, such as a silk flower or ting ting. Then around the neck I do curling ribbon and then a BIG FAT BOW. The biggest pull bow I can find! I like gold foil the best and always keep them around. They come in so handy for last minute situations. I use to spray paint the baskets but that was such a labor intensive practice. Natural is just fine, and so is just natural color shred. It is the products and bow that make the gift a "WOW." Also, when figuring out the design of your basket, try to choose colors of products that do compliment each other no matter what theme you decide. Also 475 Gift Basket Idea's e-Book by Judea Bentley can be found by clicking this link.
Cheeseburger Chowder is Great! by Lynda William's
Delicious raisins and popcorn are the perfect treat for your family ghosts, goblins and princesses. Makes 9-12 balls or 15 bars.
10 cups of popped popcorn, 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of apple juice, 3 Tbsp. butter, 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 cups of raisins, dried fruit, fruit bites, peanuts (optional)
To Make: Butter a very large bowl and set aside, combine liquids and heat until just boiling. Pour over dry ingredients and toss. When just cool enough get ready to make balls!
Click here for a good site to troubleshoot what you should have in your chest and to use more as a reference. I will get more into homeopathic recipes myself, once I understand the science and limitations.
It is just that time of year that the changes in our weather tend to start the cold of flu season. Beyond "Garlic Soup for the Soul" in my Kitchen Art's book as well as free on the "Get Well Soon" Postcard (click here for that) there has been made known a master tonic that is supposed to be so strong, not only will viruses want to leave, so will those who smell your breath! Use at your own risk! The famous tonic is made up of the following:
The decorative mason lids are finally in and will stay in stock even out of season. Our Animal Lover's Treats Cookbook now comes with a copper dog biscuit cookie cutter and we think that is great. We finally located 6" wooden spoons from the Netherlands that go perfect with any stacked cookies or dinners in masons jars being made as a gift. Click photos to buy!
Our Fragrance Oil Blending Chart is now for sale in e-book format and well worth the $29.95 price. Click here to order.
Add Bonus Miles to Your Karma
I read an article about this phenomena and it truly has so much merit. We get caught up in our own problems and life we tend to forget to give a lending hand to others. When I meet "rugged individualists" (see Scott Peck who discussed this type of person and how our society is heading that way) who claim they need no one, and have no duty to help any other person, and their neighbors problems are not their problems----I give them this example: If you are on a narrow road and cannot get around the guy ahead of you who is fresh out of gas and you cannot go backwards, he IS your problem and his problem IS also yours. Must you be on you be in such situations to discover you do need other people and that those people also have needs? Well this sermon is for those who are that above us. The rugged self-absorbed.
Just doing kind every day acts builds up your Karma account, more so if it was the last thing you had time to fit in, like helping someone take groceries to their car--(I know ya got to be careful these days) but if you start lending a helping hand, it is better to not brag about it. You get a minus for bragging. So I am not going to brag either, but I cannot count the thousands of times in my life I had my own despair--took time to help another--and whatever was despairing me resolved itself when I turned back around to attend to it. I always see myself in other people and them in me. We all have the same set of buttons it is just a matter of which ones we choose to push or other people are pushing for us. And when you can say "less the grace of God go there I" and be careful when pointing fingers--you probably reached the maturity whatever higher source you believe in most likely requires. When you help someone else, within reason, you help yourself because the idea is, we are all one.