Category Archives: Do-it-Yourself

Your Go-To Guide for Mason Jar Crafts!

Mason jars have been a kitchen staple in America since 1858. With hundreds of uses, the Mason jar is still the holy grail of containers even 158 years later.

9781591866527Joann Moser considers the glass container to serve more than just a jar for preservability. Using her style and creativity, she has envisioned several unique creations from the Mason jar.
In Mason Jar Nation, Moser, the “DIY Maven” explores the history of Mason jars and then twists their usefulness to fun crafts. The book shows more than 50 Mason jar projects that are perfect for eager DIY-ers!

It begins with the impact of the jar on America and its major uses throughout the years. In recent years, the Mason jar has been repurposed as a material for hundreds of crafts. Moser also gives advice on collecting jars and technical information for crafts.

The second half of Mason Jar Nation features over 50 new ideas for the jars. These crafts are demonstrated with easy to follow photography and step-by-step directions by Moser. Her original crafts include Mason jars for the garden, kitchen, storage, and even lighting.

Purchase your copy of Mason Jar Nation here or visit our Facebook page for your chance to win one!

 

Written by Stacy Shrader

Serve It Up Sassy!: Berry Delicious Summer

Summer means flip-flops, fireflies, and fresh ripe berries!  When you pick the first ripe berry and the sweetened juice pops in your mouth, it’s time to make your favorite summer berry delicious desserts. Blueberry Swirl Pound Cake and a Strawberry Tart are two simple desserts to have on hand for all of your summer entertaining. These berry-inspired desserts are bursting with the sun-kissed flavors of the season.

Swing open the French door to your patio and layer your picnic table with vibrant summer colors and delicious berry desserts.  We kept our seasonal table casual with red and white checked napkins, bright yellow sunflowers, and mason jars wrapped with twine.  The desserts and sunflower arrangement take a stand as the table centerpiece. Repeating the checkered napkins and single sunflower stem at each place-setting, as well as the white dinner plate emphasizes the easy-to-create table color scheme and décor.  Two white ruffled cake pedestals display the Blueberry Swirl Pound Cake and the Strawberry Tart.

table to benchEven more fun with function, we turned our seasonal bench into our picnic table. Our outdoor bench turns into a half-sized picnic table when the bench back becomes the table top. Every back yard, park and grill master should own one or more of these benches-to-table.  If two tables are put together it creates one regular sized picnic table.  These tables are build to last and can be used for all of your seasonal entertaining, not just for summer. Where do you get one of these bench-to-tables?  Glad you asked.  Boy scouts from troop #135  Sulphur Springs, Tennessee are building these bench/tables to raise money for a once in a lifetime high adventure camp called Florida Sea Base.  The bench/tables are available for purchase with 100% of the proceeds going to the boys attending the High Adventure Camp.  You can contact Doug Bushong, my husband and scout master* for troop #135 to order your very own bench turned table or any boy scout from the troop will be happy to assist you.

Your guests will enjoy the taste bud-tingling blend of blueberries and cream in the baked blueberry swirl pound cake.  The pound cake features a delectable golden crust with a moist tender center that will make this cake your new- go-to dessert for any season. A lightly sweetened blueberry puree is layered in the cake batter and gently swirled before baking.  This pound cake is perfectly wonderful all on its own, but when topped with a handful of fresh picked-ripe berries it becomes a sensational taste of summer.

The Strawberry Tart is a chilled summer pie with show-stopping presentation.  Fresh whole strawberries are de-stemmed and sit pretty with pointed ends up on top of a lemon and whipped cream filling.  The prebaked sweet pastry crust is made with real butter and confectioner’s sugar making every bite of this tart one to remember.  Both desserts are make-ahead with the Strawberry Tart being refrigerated for a few hours.

blueberry pound cake slice with watermarkBaking with berries can be a bit tricky. Blueberries can make your muffins and cake batter turn purple if you don’t coat them in flour first before baking. Coating in flour will prevent the berry juice from spreading into the batter.  Strawberries are almost 90% water and dark fuller berries have a higher concentration of water inside.   This leads to a sticky unexpected soggy baked dish. To prevent a soggy baked dish select berries that are just slightly under ripe, having passed the stage of development where a white ring appears around the hull.  For more information about strawberries and blueberries, how to grow, where to pick and health benefits, check with your local county extension agent or office.  For more entertaining ideas and recipes go to www.lizbushong.com.

Berries are beautiful!  Whether you are picnicking at the beach or in your own backyard go out and play; put on your flip-flops, watch the flickering lights of the fireflies and eat all the fresh berries you can.  This is going to be a berry delicious summer!

blueberry swirl pound cake with watermarkBlueberry Swirl Pound Cake

The Swirl:
1-1/2 cups fresh pureed blueberries
2 tablespoons cold water
1-tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch
3-tablespoons granulated sugar

Cake Batter:
1-cup butter, softened and no substitutions
3-cups granulated sugar
1-(8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
6 large eggs
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
1-tablespoon crème bouquet* extract
1-tablespoon grated orange zest
3 ½- cups all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
1-teaspoon salt
1-cup heavy whipping cream

Garnish:
Buttercream Orange Glaze
Fresh strawberries, blueberries, & mint

Preheat oven to 325. Coat 12-15 cup Bundt pan with shortening and coat with flour.
Blueberry Swirl: In small mixing bowl, whisk together cold water and cornstarch until smooth. In small saucepan, stir together blueberry puree, 3 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil over medium high heat stirring constantly. Boil blueberry mixture until thickened, set aside and let cool.
Cake:  Measure flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer at medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add softened cream cheese and beat until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition. Add extracts and zest, beat to combine. Gradually add flour and cream, alternating with cream, beginning and ending with flour, beat just until combined.
Spoon 1/3 batter into prepared pan, spoon 1/3 blueberry swirl over batter, repeat layers ending with batter. Using a knife, swirl batter, but not too much. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert cake on cooling rack cool completely before glazing.
Buttercream Orange Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1-tablespoon heavy cream, 1 teaspoon orange extract. Drizzle over cake. Garnish with individual blueberries on top of cake. Serve with fresh strawberries, blueberries and mint sprig per serving.
Yield:  8-10 servings.  *Crème bouquet can be found at the Gazebo in Kingsport, TN or online.

Berry Delcious! (1)Strawberry Tart

Crust:
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2-teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, shredded and chilled
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon chilled water
2 tablespoons strawberry jam- melted

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling
1-3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
¾ cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream + 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ pounds fresh strawberries, stemmed
¼ cup current jelly
1 tablespoon orange juice

Prepare crust:  Sift flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Grate butter and place on parchment then pop into freezer for 20 minutes. Add chilled butter to flour mixture, combine with hands or forks until crumbs resemble breadcrumbs. Mix egg yolks and water together, sprinkle over flour mixture to make soft dough. Knead a few seconds, flatten dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes.

On floured surface, roll dough to ¼” thickness. Press dough into bottom and sides of an 8-inch tart pan. Line crust with aluminum foil and add pie weights or dried beans to foil. Chill another 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400. Bake tart shell for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake additional 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven and brush baked shell with melted strawberry jam. Set aside to cool.  (Crust recipe will make two-8-inch tart shells).

Filling: In food processor, process cream cheese until fluffy. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar. Process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl. In medium bowl, whip cream to soft peaks, add confectioner’s sugar, beat to firm peaks. Fold cream cheese mixture into whipped cream. Spoon filling into one tart shell. (Double filling ingredients recipe if making two tarts.) Cover filling with plastic wrap and chill 3 hours. Just before serving, arrange whole strawberries, pointed ends up, over the entire chilled tart in concentric circles. In microwave proof glass, add currant jelly and heat 12-15 seconds until melted, stir in orange juice. Remove from heat and let cool about 2 minutes. Stir jelly occasionally to prevent film from foaming. Spoon or brush warmed jelly mixture over berries and serve immediately.
Yield:  8-9 servings

Liz Circle 2013 smallHelping you Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours!®
Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tricities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine. For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com.

*Bench/table: Doug Bushong-Scout Master-Troop #135 –Sulphur Springs, Tn.  E-Mail: dbushong17@gmail.com 

Bringing Your Garden To Life

What sets a beautiful, manmade landscape apart from a natural field? Often times it’s the hours of gardening, strategic placement of flowers, and unknowingly, counter-productive methods of groundskeeping.

Such a predicament has left professional horticulturists like Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher scratching their heads, searching for a compromise to the problem – how can one intertwine beauty and fruitful landscaping practices?

As Thomas Christopher outlines in the preface of his new book, Garden Revolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change, he believes that gardeners should be able to construct intentional scenes of art, cultivated in a way that allows the greenery to evolve naturally and in an environmentally-positive way.

When Christopher, author of Essential Perennials and The New American Landscape, met Larry Weaner, professional gardener of 30 years and founder of the New Directions in the American Landscape conference, he immediately recognized a complementary spark.

Weaner had been creating natural landscapes for years, distinguished on a national scale for his intertwining of art and environmental science.

61J0jcnLj-LTogether, Christopher and Weaner joined forces to create Garden Revolution, a collaboratively-authored book of designs, influences, applications and pictures released in May 2016. The book depicts the story of Weaner’s hybrid landscaping work, while simultaneously illustrating Christopher’s dream to cultivate a garden that gives back.

The book is broken down into four core sections: “The Learning Process,” “Design,” “In the Field” and “Postscript.” Vivid photographs of the men’s work enliven each section of the book, all incased within the subtle green flower-print of the hard-back binding.

The book, published by Timber Press, currently retails at $39.95 and is available for purchase here. However, you can enter to WIN a copy of your own on our Facebook page!

Written by Emily McCaul

St. Patrick’s Day Sips

We know that the St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown over the weekend was a hit, but we also know that you probably had your fill of all the green beer you can stand. So, the Bella girls set out to find some delicious green cocktails for you to enjoy this Thursday!

blarney-stone-cocktail-5The first comes from Jenny B. at Honey and Birch blog, “Blarney Stone Cocktail.” If you love whiskey as much as the Irish do, then this is the cocktail for you.

 

 

sparklingshamrock5However, if you want something a bit more girly, then check out “The Sparkling Shamrock” from TarynWilliford.com. This cocktail is served-up in a champagne glass with the perfect amount of melon liqueur.

 

sangria-683x1024Or, if you love wine as much as we do, try this “Green Apple Sangria” from made with chardonnay and ginger beer from MadeWithHappy.com!

 

 

Irish-Julep-FEAT-2Lastly, if mint is your thing, try this new twist on an old classic from RealHouseMoms.com, “Irish Julep.” This drink is made with Irish whiskey and mint leaves for some sweetness that’s just right! Give these cocktails a try and tell us which drink was your favorite!

 

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Winter Organization!

With the start of a New Year, most of us will go through our homes or work to evaluate how to make this year even better than the last.
Everyone would like more organization in their lives; we are so busy with our daily activities that sometimes we tend to neglect the obvious. Fortunately, the solution to organizing the chaos is easier than you think.
The first step is to purge! This is such a difficult word to some people. We hold on the materialistic items and get too comfortable in our surroundings. Ask yourself a few questions about each of your belongings:
Can I live without it?
Does it make a statement about my personality or lifestyle?
When is the last time I used it?
These questions will work when deciding on furniture, clothing, books, and even collectible items!
Next, let’s tackle organization tips for mail, magazines, and types of paper. Functionality and creativity are important. For example, if you have room for a small table at the entry way– have decorated baskets to collect the type of paper that makes its way to the home or office.  Baskets are a wonderful asset for any storage solution.
One of the biggest obstacles we encounter is what to do with an item that is not working for us. Some items will need to go to one of the many organizations in our area that collect clothing and other goods for those in need (like women’s shelters). Make sure you also check out consignment shops like The Golden Shoestring and EuroExclusives. The extra cash for items you aren’t using can really be helpful for the start of the year.
Finally, decide on presentation. There are endless possibilities for organizing your remaining items like baskets, shelving, hooks, and trunks. Make it simple or elaborate—a true reflection of your style. Check out our Pinterest page for DIY ideas!
This opportunity can lead us to establish better habits and find what we need to make our lives more productive. All you need is time, commitment, and ability to follow through and create your own organized space. Have fun, be creative, and remember: organization can be a positive adventure!

Written by Diane M. Straub

DIY Memory Jar

Have you made a DIY Memory Jar yet? They are perfect for the end of the year (or difficult moments during the year) to reflect on all of the moments that have brought you joy. We went with a simple design that is easy to recreate or modify to fit your personality!

IMG_1241Start with any type of jar. You can even go green and use one from pickles or jelly!
Get creative! If you are starting a memory jar with your family, decorate it together. The beauty of this project is that you can cover your jar with anything from scrapbook paper and stickers to photos and ribbon. Just be sure to include 2016 on it!
Cut up small strips of colorful paper and place them next to the jar to record your memories. (You can even use Post-It notes for this part.)
Collect all of your joyous moments (big and small!) throughout the year in your jar! At the end of 2016, open it and reflect on all of your memories.

Happy 2016!

Written by Kristi Hall

Fear of Frost?

Tips to keep your garden growing through fall’s chill

As warm weather begins to fade to memory and frost threatens, even avid gardeners may be tempted to pack up their trowels and call it a season. You may think it’s better to leave the victory garden gracefully, than risk the disappointment of watching crops wither in chilly temperatures. But fear of frost and failure don’t have to stop you from enjoying a fruitful fall garden. With the right plant choices and a few tricks, producing a hefty harvest can be easy.

A few facts about frost
Frost occurs when temperatures drop enough to condense and freeze the moisture in the air. In fall, when air temperatures sink, it’s common to find frost layering the ground, leaves and crops. Frost may occur frequently in the fall before the ground really becomes frozen — known as a hard freeze.
While a hard freeze generally heralds the end of the growing season and frost can harm warm weather crops like oranges, some veggies actually do very well — and taste better — when nipped by frost. By stocking your fall garden with frost-loving varieties, you can ensure your garden remains victorious and bountiful right up to the first hard freeze. Not sure when the hard freeze will occur in your region? Check out the USDA Freeze Map.
When you consider the many advantages of fall gardening, frost shouldn’t be feared. Cooler temperatures mean you’ll have a more comfortable experience while working in the garden, and you’ll have fewer insect pests and weeds to deal with.

Frost-friendly choices
Just because the growing season is over for summer crops like tomatoes, you don’t have to give up gardening before the cold winter weather. Instead, clear out the remnants of summer plantings and debris and get the ground ready for fall favorites like spinach, cabbage, collards and kale. These hearty, leafy vegetables — available from Bonnie Plants — actually like the chill weather and can stand up to some frost.
Certain root veggies, such as radishes and turnips, also do well in cooler temperatures. All are packed with nutrients, so you can plant them knowing you’ll be filling your dinner table with fresh, nutritious, great-tasting veggies this fall. For a list of fall-weather favorites, tips and harvest advice visit www.bonnieplants.com.

21637979Get a good start
When planning your fall garden, time is of the essence. Start with well-established, vigorous plants like those Bonnie Plants offers in some regions at garden retailers.
Starting out with more mature plants not only allows you to get your fall garden growing faster, it helps ensure your vegetables are strong enough to endure unexpected or extreme temperature variations. And remember to choose short-season varieties that will produce quicker in fall’s shorter growing season.

When frost arrives
Even though your fall vegetables might be able to handle the cold, you may want an extra layer of protection for unseasonably cool nights. Fortunately, you can do a lot to protect plants from sudden dips in temps.
Growing veggies in the right spot can make a big difference. Choose a location for your garden that gets plenty of sun, especially in the morning when you’ll want plants to quickly shake off overnight chill. Planting in a raised bed also helps insulate plants and their tender roots from ground freezes. Container gardens are also great for fall; when a severe frost or hard freeze threatens, you can bring plants inside, overnight for protection.
Sometimes you may want to cover plants against extreme cold. One option is a cold frame. Typically constructed of wood and glass or plastic, the frame sits over plants like a portable mini greenhouse. You can build your own — an online search will yield plenty of how-to plans — or purchase a prefabricated one. For less severe situations, simply turning a pot or bucket upside down over tender young plants can be enough to shield them from cold.
When fall arrives, you don’t have to fear frost, or give up your garden. Success starts with choosing cold-hearty varieties that prosper and produce well in cool weather. Visit www.bonnieplants.com to learn more about fall vegetables.

Sew Quick, Sew Cute Giveaway

sew quick sew cute wrap skirtIf you want to learn how to sew without taking expensive sewing classes, pick up a copy of Sew Quick, Sew Cute by Fiona Goble.  This book teaches you the basics of sewing with a machine and by hand. It also shows you the basic tools and materials that you will need and how to use them.

It’s thirty projects start from the basics and work up, for you to practice you’re new sewing skills.  The projects include a pincushion, Christmas stockings, an apron, a child’s sundress, and more! They yield cute and practical objects that you will want to show off to all of your friends.
The instructions are comprehensive but easy to understand, and the illustrations and pictures help you visually match what you are doing.  The book comes with sewing templates that you need to scan and blow up in some cases to make the correctly sized items.

This book is great for anyone just learning to sew, wanting to learn to sew, or even a pro.  With adult help and supervision, this book is great to teach kids how to sew as well.

If you want to learn a new skill, and impress your friends with all of the awesome things you can make, pick up a copy of Sew Quick, Sew Cute today. Or enter our Facebook contest to win a free copy.

 

Written by Krista Knauer