Monday, 21 January 2013

Designer labels

Designer labels

So, these arrived in the post today:

It's hard to find anything that costs £2.99 that amuses me as much as these do. And they work brilliantly.

So simple, but so pleasing. A good start to the week.

If you want some for yourself, you can get them here: just choose a design and email them with your choice of wording.

Following the last post about the dearth of nice jam jar labels, I’ve now discovered that there are hundreds of talented designers out there, creating fantastic labels that you can download for free and print yourself, assuming your printer is up to the job.

These, for example, which you can download here:

And I found these vintage labels, and lots more like them, in an inspired collaboration between an independent designer and a stationery website:

They are designed to fit a particular size of pre-cut label, which I can get from my local stationery shop and put through my printer. Brilliant. The website also offers instructions on how to customise them.

So I hereby withdraw my previous whine that there are no nice labels out there. There are hundreds; I was just looking in the wrong place.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The importance of labels

Find me a label

I've mentioned before the importance of the marmalade label - how it conveys the very character of the marmalade and, possibly, the character of the person who made it. Which is why it's always annoyed me that I can't find any decent labels for homemade marmalade.

A brief trawl of the internet for jam jar labels plunges me into a depression. They are, almost without exception, bland, twee and folksy. There's a predominance of gingham and polka dots (I have a strange loathing for polka dots) and a lot of badly drawn flowers and oranges. There's also a lot of tartan, as if suggesting that the Scots invented marmalade, which we all know they didn't. It is as if the designers think that everyone who makes their own marmalade is woefully lacking in sophistication. Which, having met a lot of marmalade-makers, I know is not the case.

And then I found these.

At last, a bit of wit! I can't quite work out how HW Designs gets past the copyright issues, as they bear a remarkable resemblance to some very well-known brands, but that's their problem. I chose Design 4 (bottom right-hand corner - we'll call it 'Cooper Style', I think), and asked if I could change the wording from 'Homemade with Love', which is a bit hokey for me, to 'Handmade in Tufnell Park', which they did in a trice and posted the labels out the same day. Full marks. My undressed jars of marmalade are trembling in anticipation.

I also quite liked these, by Samantha Barnes - at least they are bold and colourful rather than twee and pastel.

But what I really yearn for is something like this, from Nutley's Kitchen Gardens. Something a little decadent and Art Deco in tone. Rococo, if you like.

I shall keep looking. But if you know of a good source, please do tell.

Friday, 18 January 2013

January brings the snow

January brings the snow...

Today, to my son's delight, it snowed - and to mine, as it's the perfect backdrop for the first marmalade session of the year. Standing over a bubbling pot of oranges as the snowflakes drift down (covering up all the rubbish in our untidy garden, excellent) is rather pleasing.

After last year's tribulations over recipes, I've reverted to my mother's recipe and am being very particular about following the instructions. I put in less sugar - just 2.5lbs sugar rather than 3lbs to 1.5lbs of oranges - and avoided stirring it as it cooked, as that lowers the temperature, thus increasing the overall cooking time (which is probably why it's often overboiled). I also tested it on a saucer placed in the freezer rather than the fridge. Success - it was setting beautifully after 20 minutes. I recommend this as a good way to spend a snowy morning. It makes one feel very mellow.

This is the batch destined for the World Marmalade Awards in March, so it has to be good - I was awarded 16/20 last year, and am keen to find out whether I've improved at all. It smells heavenly and is a beautiful colour. But those WI judges are tough. We'll see.

Marmalade on film
Spent a nice evening at the Everyman Theatre a few days ago, drinking wine in comfy seats (they are the best cinemas) and watching Quartet with my sister. After enjoying Tom Courtenay playing the perfect gentleman for the first half hour, we were startled when he suddenly shouted 'Bitch! Frog!' at a pretty French girl who works at his retirement home. Maggie Smith's eyebrows shot up. 'She won't give me marmalade at breakfast,' he spat, by way of explanation. 'She gives me [withering tone] apricot jam.'

Later on, Maggie Smith buys gifts for her friends to make up for being a bit of a cow through most of the film. Her present to Tom is a jar of lime marmalade. It is the perfect gesture; by the end of the film they're in love and singing beautiful operatic arias together. Such is the power of marmalade.