Friday, May 28, 2010

MTME Sneak Peek Day 1 - Jam Packed

Edit: Please see bottom of post for my Apple Butter "recipe".

Hello! Happy 3-day weekend! Today is the first day of sneak peeks for the June My Time Made Easy © release! Lauren, Katie and I are peeking the Jam Packed © template and Well Preserved © stamp set. Dawn and Geny are showing off at least one new stamp set, so be sure to visit them to see their fabulous card creations!

I was really excited to see this new template and coordinating stamp set! I started canning a few years ago, and I am hooked! Whenever you can anything, you do it in bulk (at least I do).. which means a great gift opportunity! What is better than a homemade gift? How about a homemade gift with handmade gift packaging...?! This is exactly what I did. Sabrina's last day of school was Thursday, so the timing of this worked out really well for me.

I had both of my Crockpots going nearly all last weekend.. the end result... homemade apple butter.. YUM!! Friday night I peeled and cut up apples, then I cooked them down overnight to make applesauce. On Saturday night I added a little sugar and some spices to it and let it cook overnight and most of Sunday. By the afternoon, I had homemade apple butter and the house smelled wonderful!

My first gift set uses the Jam Packed © template as provided - complete box and lid. I made sure to use a sturdy cardstock for the box since it will hold a half pint glass jar of apple butter. I cut out the template in Couture Oat cardstock using my Cricut Expression and the SCAL software. I decorated the box using some fun new digi papers by Sara Williams. This release you will see a ton of fun papers from her.. This cute row of apples paper is part of the Preserve-It Apples & Pears collection. This is just one of a few different patterns and there are other fruits as well. I especially love the apple designs because it not only fits with the apple butter, but for all teacher-themed gifts as well! You can get a better look at it below:

For the top of the box and the tag, I used the Well Preserved © stamp set. It is loaded with images, words and sentiments (59 in all!). For the top, I used the Well Preserved © cut file for the jar on the top of the lid then I stamped the jar, colored it and stamped the words "Apple Butter". The tag is an Avery manila shipping tag which I stamped the rows of apples and the words "Handmade just for you". Below is a close-up of the jar. The circle and sentiment (that reads "For Someone Sweet") is also from Well Preserved ©.  For the label on the front of the jar, I stamped the label directly onto an Avery shipping label and cut it out since it just fit from top to bottom (if you have a sheet of labels, you could use the Well Preserved © cut file to minimize time spent hand cutting). I stamped some apples, colored them, and also stamped "Homemade Apple Butter".

I thought I'd show you the inside of the box with the jar inside as well. The template cuts a perfect circle to fit a Ball jelly jar (though you could change the size/shape of the opening to suit whatever you want to package). Notice the sides/back of the box are a little taller to make sure the entire jar lid fits inside!

I needed 9 gifts for Sabrina's teachers and para aides, and for them I just didn't have enough time to duplicate the project above. I made a simplified version by omitting the lid and made the box portion only. I trimmed the back and sides so they would be flush with the top opening. I used the same apple paper that I used in the project above as well as another of Sara's papers from the Preserve-It Apples & Pears collection.

To simply top these jars off, I used the circle cut out from the template (the opening where the jar fits). I used the Well Preserved cut file to die cut my jars out of Oat cardstock, then I stamped the jar, the gingham topper and the words Apple Butter. I popped these on top of the jars with foam tape. I also decorated the corners of the box top with stamps from the same Well Preserved © set. Here's the view from above:

Thanks so much for stopping by! The rest of the team will have peeks for two more days, and we will all be back with more on release day - June 1!

I've had a few people ask me to share my recipe for the Apple Butter. I didn't exactly follow a recipe, but I did use this site for reference: Making Apple Butter. I started with 20 lbs of apples (mix of Fuji, Gala, and Pink Lady), peeled, cored and cut into bite sized pieces and added to my Crockpots. I added about a cup of water to both (mine are 6 qt sized pots). I did not add anything else. I let these cook overnight on low. By morning I had unsweetened applesauce. After these cooled, I used my immersion blender to remove any lumps and make it smooth. The next night, I filled both Crockpots (to within 1 inch of the top) and added 1 c sugar and some spices (sorry - I don't measure!) -- lots of cinnamon, some allspice and a touch of ground cloves (I'm not big on cloves, so I went easy on this). I cooked this overnight (with the lid slightly askew so that steam could release) on low. The mixture cooked down and became thicker. Next I added the remaining applesauce to both pots and cooked for a few more hours to let the flavors mix. You could add more sugar if you want it sweeter, but I would taste it first. Apples have a natural sweetness, so the amount of sugar you add is a personal preference. Most of the recipes I found add up to 4 cups of sugar to a pot and to me that was just too much. I added the warm apple butter to hot sterilized jelly jars and processed according to the link above. Hope that helps!

Supplies ~
Stamps: Well Preserved © (MTME)
Paper: Oat, Santa's Beard (Couture), Vanilla Cream (CTMH), Row of Apples, Row of Apple Jars by Sara Williams (MTME)
Ink: Versafine Onyx Black, Memento Tuxedo Black (Tsukineko), Fired Brick Distress Ink (Ranger)
Accessories: Jam Packed © template, Nested Apples, Circle Nestabilities (Spellbinders), Markers (Copic), Swiss Dots embossing folder (Provo Craft), Twine (May Arts), Twill, Ribbon, Foam tape, Thread, Sewing machine.