How To Make Blueberry Jam

Blueberries

Blueberries are one of my favorite summer fruits, and I wait all year to enjoy them at their peak. This year, I decided to preserve their freshness by making jam. This was my first attempt at canning, and although somewhat time-consuming, it was easier than I thought. I think having the right supplies really makes a difference. I bought a starter canning kit which included really helpful tools, such as a funnel and tongs, made specifically for jars.

The jam turned out great and all of my jars sealed! I searched around for some recipes, since I haven’t made jam before, and the one I chose, from Fine Dining Lovers, stuck out because of its uniqueness. The subtle spices really added to the flavor of the jam. I also loved that it used honey instead of sugar. Enjoy!

Blueberry Jam Recipe (from Fine Dining Lovers)
Ingredients
- 910g fresh blueberries
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 pinch salt
- 108 g honey

Directions
Wash and rinse blueberries. Place them in a stock pot with a cup of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat. Let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the spices, salt, and honey. Simmer, uncovered, on low heat, until the fruit has cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir periodically and taste towards the end of cooking. Add more honey if desired.

While jam is cooking, sterilize jars and lids by placing them in the sink, pouring boiling water over them, and draining them on a clean dish towel. Separate oven racks so that a jar fits in between them and line the racks with cookie sheets. Preheat oven to 200°C. Ladle hot jam into hot jars. Make sure you leave 5 cm of head-space from the top of the jar. Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space as needed. Wipe any jam off of jar rims and put lids on jars. Screw bands down until tight.

Turn off the oven. Place jars in oven and leave them in for 6 hours or so. Test jars by pressing on the top to make sure that the lid is firm. Repeat the oven canning process for any lids that are not firm. Label jars with name and date, place on pantry shelves.

4th of July Pom-Poms

Pom-Poms

Fourth of July is just around the corner (can you believe it?), and I thought this very simple craft would be a great way to make your home or party a little more festive. You can play around with metallic paper and/or where you display them, to make them unique. I love how they look like little fireworks. Happy 4th!

4th of July Pom-Poms (from MarthaStewart.com)

Materials
- A few sheets of paper in red, white and blue
- Scissors
- Wood skewers
- Double-sided tape

Directions
To make pom-poms, below middle, fold a 3-by-15-inch piece of vellum in half twice lengthwise. Cut slits every 1/8 inch, leaving inch at the top uncut. Unfold the paper, and attach a 1-inch piece of double-sided tape to one uncut corner; adhere to a bamboo skewer, and wrap the paper around several times. Once you reach the other end, use another piece of double-sided tape to secure. Curl the lower strips with the edge of a scissor blade, as you would a ribbon.

Minty Lemonade Recipe

Minty Lemonade

Here on the East coast we are on the brink of a heat wave, which coincides with the official start of summer. To prepare you for the hot summer days ahead, I’ve concocted a delicious and refreshing drink recipe. What better way to cool off than with an ice cold, minty lemonade?

I love lemonade and I particularly like to make it from scratch since you can adjust the sweetness to your taste. The addition of mint to the drink makes it that much more refreshing. This is a simple recipe to start your summer. Stay cool!

Minty Lemonade Recipe
Ingredients
- Lemons, mint, pure cane sugar, water (amounts vary depending on size of glass or pitcher)

Directions
First, make a simple syrup to sweeten the lemonade. To do this, measure one part sugar to one part water. The amount of syrup you will need depends on how sweet you like your lemonade and how much lemonade you are making (you can save leftover syrup by putting it into a container and storing it in the fridge). Add sugar and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Mix until all the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Next, you’ll want to juice the lemons. The number of lemons you will need depends on the size of the glass. For the glass pictured above, I used the juice from 2 large lemons. Pour lemon juice into the glass until it is about two-thirds full.

After the simple syrup has cooled, add about a handful of mint leaves to the syrup and muddle. Add the mint leaves to the lemon juice, as well as the syrup to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons of syrup for the glass pictured above).

Mix the juice and syrup together and then fill the remaining part of the glass with ice cubes.

Garnish with a lemon slice and mint leaves.

Interview with Smudge Ink

Tides Invitation

A few weeks ago, I headed up to New York for the Stationery Show. It’s heaven for anyone who loves stationery! One of the things I was most looking forward to was to finally meet some of the interesting people I’ve been in contact with through the blog. One being, the women behind the Boston-based letterpress studio, Smudge Ink. They not only produce beautifully designed stationery, but are cognizant of the environment, using mostly recycled paper and soy inks and also work closely with their local community.  They were so nice to take time away from their busy schedules to answer the questions below.

Read on for an inspiring interview with owners, Kate Saliba and Deb Bastien. Enjoy!

1. Tell us a little about Smudge Ink and what your studio does.
Smudge Ink is a design and letterpress-printing studio run by two women: me (Kate) and Deb Bastien. We spend our days creating fun and brightly colored greeting cards and other paper goods like wedding invitations, calendars, gift tags, wrap and all sorts of holiday products. All of our letterpress-printed cards are printed here in our Boston studio, and our offset printed items are made in Maine (wrap, calendars, some boxed notes).

2. What drew you to opening up your own letterpress studio? What were you doing beforehand?
Throughout college and into my 20′s I had been designing and dabbling in all sorts of art related projects like painting canvas rugs, building adirondack chairs, and designing greeting cards. When I learned the process of letterpress printing in Portland, not only did I fall in love with the process and the result, but I saw it as a scalable way to produce my work. I was hooked. Ten years ago, I moved back east to pursue this business after quitting my job as a User Interface designer at Nike.com. When I arrived home, I apprenticed for almost a year at EM Press (New Bedford), waited tables at night, and began laying the ground work for what is now Smudge Ink.

3. Why did you choose letterpress as your print technique of choice?
Over the course of two years I spent a lot of time experimenting and learning about the process of letterpress printing. I remember being taken by things like the smell of the rubber based ink, the peaceful rhythm of a long run on the C+P (Chandler & Price is a type of press) and the beautiful, tactile result. As I started to become serious about starting my own business, I ultimately chose letterpress for two reasons: how the impression enhanced the design and for the ability to keep inventory somewhat under control.

4. We love your use of bright colors, florals, and fun greeting card sayings. What are some sources of inspiration when you’re conceptualizing a new design or collection?
We draw much of our inspiration from everyday life (as boring as that may sound!): being mothers (Deb has two, I have one), conversations with friends and family about card + gift categories we don’t cover (our pet sympathy card line is a recent example), family walks around town — I took a picture of this flowering dark pink tree recently which I want to work into our next boxed note release, and doing what we love: gardening, skiing, hiking and being near the water. Often we find our most creative moments are when we’re not in the studio but rather out in the world.

5. I was able to view your beautiful new wedding line at the Stationery Show. What was your goal for producing this extensive range of invitations?
Designing and printing wedding invitations has always been one of our favorite parts of the business, and we’ve been fortunate that we’ve managed to continue to do this mainly through word of mouth. This year we seized the opportunity to expand our reach and release an entire wedding collection which brides could view online. We offer a mix of designs to complement the wide range of wedding styles we cannot keep our eyes off (and there are many!). We always strive to come out with fresh and modern takes on the classics, while still honoring the traditions of handmade correspondence.

6. What inspired you to proactively work with the community in your WE CAN and Circle of Women projects?
We had been talking for several years about how we could get involved with our community and give back to them in a meaningful, helpful way. We both feel fortunate for what we’ve created here at Smudge Ink and the support and encouragement we’ve received from others in the Cape/Boston area. Just as we were figuring this out, we were introduced to Circle of Women and worked with them to produce our first “community” line of cards. After this positive experience, we decided to build out the project and add WE CAN to the mix. This organization has particular meaning to me because I started Smudge Ink on the Cape and wanted to give back to this community. We plan on working with more non-profits in the coming years.

7. It seems like you’ve created a fun and inviting place to work based on you “About Us” section on your website. So what do you like most about your job/work?
Working as a team on the project of the moment is probably my favorite part of my job. This could be the launch of our wedding line, getting to a trade show or figuring out a social media strategy. I like pooling ideas, figuring out what will be most effective, and then making it happen.

8. What is the most difficult part of your job/work?
The most challenge piece for me is making the time to do strategic work.

9. What’s next for Smudge Ink?
Lots of new beautiful wedding invitations and some more desk products.

10. Do you have any suggestions for our readers on ways to tap into their creative and artistic selves?
Be curious and pursue all worthwhile curiosities. You never know where it may lead you.


(All images courtesy of Smudge Ink)