Friday Eats: Pie for anytime, anywhere

June 4th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Pies in jars, image courtesy of Our Best Bites

Some of you may have been thinking: why on earth are you talking about food on this blog?  While this is a valid question, let me explain.  People work.  People get hungry.  And working people especially get hungry–even us label-making, gift-personalizing, email-writing people need to eat.  So, we love to eat and share good recipes that you can bookmark for later or try out this weekend.

I recently stumbled on Our Best Bites blog, run by two very charming ladies, Sara and Kate.  With busy schedules and a hunger for tasty food, they’ve been posting great recipes and ideas for the past two years, including today’s recipe for single serving pie in a jar.

Imagine the possibilities.  Pie in the car.  Pie on the camping trip.  Pie at the laundry mat.  Pie in the movie theater!

Cherry pie in a jar, image courtesy of Our Best Bites

And not only are these perfect to eat all by yourself (note: we are not responsible if your pants don’t fit tomorrow morning), but they make great gifts as well.  Adding just a touch of personalized ribbon can make these ideal for friends, family, or anyone.

To see the step-by-step recipe for creating these awesome pies, check it out here.

And a big thank you to Kate and Sara for the recipe and images!

8 Natural Cleaners In Your House

June 2nd, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Jar of Rice, image courtesy of Jen Gotch via Real Simple

Some of you clean when you’re totally forced to do it.  Others clean because they’re nervous or bored.  I used to clean before parties, but never after… which I know doesn’t make much sense.  And we all have our favorite cleaning supplies we use everyday.  But what about the big messes that we don’t ever plan for?  Like getting bike grease on your carpet?  Or finding your gardening tools rusted end to end, buried beneath a pile of leaves?

Well next time, before you run out to get grease or rust removers, or heavy duty soaps, see what you have readily available in your pantry or underneath your bathroom sink.  Real Simple has provided 8 great natural cleaners that can solve some of your toughest messes and on the cheap.  For the full read, click here.

Featured: Jackson & Connor

May 31st, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Jackson & Connor Shop, Northampton, image courtesy of Jackson & Connor

Tara Tetreault and Candice Connors, the duo powerhouse hailing from Northampton, Massachusetts, are the subject of our first feature on  We love what they’re doing, think they have a stunning product line at their store, Jackson & Connor, and we’re thrilled that we’ve had the opportunity to do work for them.  Part of the interest in interviewing Tetreault and Connors was also to showcase the success of two women who ventured out into a seemingly daunting project in early 2008 and are now becoming a household name in New England.

Interview with Tara Tetreault:

Beth: It’s a really neat story of how you both came to know each other, and eventually co-own the store.  What prompted you to venture into business together and leave your respective jobs?

Tara: It had always been a dream of ours to own a store separately.  It was nice to find Candice again while she was at Yale and I was a Rep. It sort of came together after I lost my job and couldn’t find another one. I decided to go for it but I did not want to do it alone and that’s when I began to hard sell Candice. Yale Genton was closing so it made sense for her to try something new with me.

B: How did working in New York change your perception of men’s wear and influence what you’ve done in Jackson & Connor?

T: It was great to have a view from the otherside of the biz. It was great to have the entire East Coast as my territory because it gave me a chance to see a lot of the speciality men’s apparel stores that are out there. It is so great to see how different each one is and their interpretations of men’s apparel.

B: Coming up on your two year anniversary of opening the store, what have been two of your best moments in business so far (victories, large or small)?

T: One of my best was winning an award called 40 under 40 put out by BusinessWest Publication in Springfield, MA. They choose from the areas under 40 population and pick 40 who are really moving and shaking out here. It was quite an honor to be chosen especially after only being open for less than a year.

If you google myself, Tara Tetreault or the store Jackson & Connor in Northampton, MA you can find some great goodies there…

Being a part of the community serving on boards and committees to make this a better place is a huge victory for ourselves and the town.

Tara Tetreault, image courtesy of Jackson & Connor

B: Since Northampton is a small town and you both had history there, did you feel more comfortable opening Jackson & Connor there, or more nervous considering you were essentially replacing Taylor Men?

T: Way more comfortable, this is my home and we had a good base from here to start a business.

B: You’ve outlined styling for a Jackson and a Connor, but what inspirations do you draw from to continue building on your styling choices for the men of Northampton and its visitors?

T: Nature, magazines, fashion blogs, the locals, the celebs.

Jackson & Connor Style, image courtesy of Jackson & Connor

B: What have you found to be your most valuable resource, other than customers, for creating a successful and happy business?

T: Being a part of the community.  Putting yourself  out there for people to get to know you.

B: What can we expect from Jackson & Connor in the next few years?

T: More greatness.  More selection.  Perhaps a different location.  Perhaps a shoe store.  Perhaps a women’s store.  WHO KNOWS!!!


Great thanks to Tara from Jackson & Connor for taking the time to answer our questions and give us some insight into her and Candice’s store.  Please check out the latest from them here and also on Facebook, here.

Friday Eats: Canning and Eating

May 28th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Pickled Asparagus, image courtesy of Food in Jars

Today’s post is about meat. And vegetables. And dairy.  And eating… but before you can eat, you must make.

I found Food in Jars last week and it was one of those experiences where I wish I hadn’t in a way, because now I know better about the process of canning (i.e. more responsibility to the food and myself.. and no excuses!).  But on the other hand, I was ecstatic because now I know better about the process of canning.  Catch 22?

Marisa, the writer/ photographer/ canner extraordinaire behind Food in Jars, has been breaking down the canning process on her blog and even teaching classes in the Philly area (if you’re up there, check her out).  When I found her recipe/ instructions on how to pickle Asparagus, I couldn’t resist but share it with you.  It’s not rocket science, I assure you.  And I encourage you to give it a shot because if you do, you can make this: ham, cream cheese, and asparagus wraps.

Ham and asparagus wraps, image courtesy of Betty Crocker

Making these is kind of like taking that canned spray cheese and putting it on a cracker—easy.  Once you have your asparagus, follow these very difficult instructions:

1. Take a slice of ham.  It can be deli ham, but it’s better if you have something like a 1/4″ slice of spiral ham.

2. Take cream cheese (and a knife) and spread it on the ham.  How much?  Whatever you prefer.

3. Take a pickled asparagus spear (or two or three) and place at one end of the ham slice.

4. Roll the ham slice from one end to the other, with the cream cheese and asparagus inside.

5. EAT.  Then repeat process a minimum of three times.  Seriously.

I’ve known this recipe for years, and there are many different takes on it.  You can find people using prosciutto instead of ham here, or even substituting cream cheese for dill sauce here.  Either way, it’s easy and delicious.

Enjoy your weekend!

Spotlight on Neighborhood Living

May 26th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Neighborhood, image courtesy of Scorpions and Centaurs' flickr stream

Do you know who your neighbors are?  When I moved into my first house, I knew the old couple across the street because the woman gardened and her husband always looked a little cantankerous.  And I knew the single mother next door to us because, as our accounts manager David would say, she was an “unfortunate looking woman.”  But I never interacted with anyone on our street because their doors were always closed and none of them hung out on the front porch in groups like we did.

Regardless, as more people flock to the internet for Facebook farming and Skype sessions, maybe we should all make a little more effort to get to know each other.  I’m not saying you have to entertain thirty minute conversations with your neighbor about why his daughter is student of the week at the local middle school.  I’m just saying that maybe it’s time to say hi, or join the local tennis team like our CEO Linda Bryan did.  The warm weather is a perfect excuse to have neighborhood cookouts and softball games and pool parties.  Heck, you could even chat over the successes (and/ or failures) of your lawns and gardens for three minutes, and that would count!

You may end up finding out that your neighbors are caring, funny, or maybe even a little weird (you might like weird).  You may realize they enjoy the same TV shows you do, share your hobbies, or are even capable of babysitting your hyperactive eight year old on a Friday night so you can go somewhere for grownups.

Kyla Fullenwider actually did a great and simple list of ten things you could do to build some community in your, well… community.  And if some of her ideas do not seem apartment complex friendly (like, say, hide and seek), then just start knocking on doors anyway (may be less awkward if you bring baked goods with you).  Click here for the full list.

(For more from Scorpions and Centaurs’ flickr stream, click here.)

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