10/17/17

Blueberry Pie! - A 3 year olds First Blueberry Pie (adapted original recipe to include some store bought items)


My little helpers and I made two (2) blueberry pies yesterday!  Although I planned to make it completely from scratch like usual, I realized with a 3 year old and a 16 month old wanting to 'help' and trying to get two dinner meals made (one to eat and one to refrigerate for the next night) AND the fact we weren't starting until about 5:00 that afternoon....  while I was at the store picking up some groceries, I opted for a few 'already made' store bought items that made the fun little project quick and easy for all.

My original Blueberry Pie  Recipe
(originally posted on An American Housewife in 2006 and 2007)

3 pints blueberries - cleaned and stems removed or frozen
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c sugar (I use a mixture of brown and white)
1/4 t cinnamon
2 T butter, cut up

A double pie crust (I don't have time to post the recipe - so use your recipe or just buy the canned or frozen version).

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and then place in the bottom crust. Top with the cut up butter and then carefully place the top crust over and crimp or use a fork to seal the edges. Slice a pretty star shape on the top with a knife or fork to let steam escape. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 for another 30-40 minutes.

Let cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

*Note*
I've listed this recipe on here before but I want to add some notes to this one. You can ALWAYS 'play around' with a recipe and add and delete on a whim. I wanted to let you know what I do to perk this one up sometimes.

lemon rind
orange rind
vanilla
ginger
all brown sugar, no white
a little rum or rum extract

I've used all of the above at one time or another. Just a light sprinkle of one or two of them together really brings out some flavor in this pie. 


_____________________________________________


Adapted recipe to use some store bought items to make it faster and easier

2 cans blueberry pie filling
1 pint fresh/frozen real blueberries
2 packages store bought frozen pie crusts (deep dish style)
1 T sugar
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

Pre-bake the crusts for about 10 minutes for a better textured bottom crust.  Pour the pie filling into the deep dish pie crust. Top with the fresh blueberries.  Use the second crust to turn over, upside down onto the pie/fruit.  If it's frozen, let it set about 10 minutes, if it's thawed, continue right away to crimp the edges to seal.

Slash some holes in the top and mix the sugars together and sprinkle all over the pie.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven about 50 minutes or so.  If the crust is getting to brown on top just place some aluminum foil over the top and continue cooking.  Remove and set aside to let cool completely.

These freeze well.

My adorable little helpers.... snitching blueberries from the pie!


He takes his work very seriously!


Sprinking the sugars are very, very important and shall not be rushed!


So proud!!!  And has blueberry smudges all over his mouth and nose!  Ha ha.  So cute.

Ready to bake pie number one!  We followed up with a second pie as they freeze very well.




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Homemade Blueberry Pie - Easy as.... Pie!


Back during the early days of this website, the internet was a bit different - and hadn't grown to what it is today.  One thing I've noticed is google wasn't indexing a lot of pages like it does in this decade.  There are so many of my recipes that I love and know I had posted at some point, but trying to search for them isn't always easy.  My blueberry pie is one that I always have to search a little bit harder for to find. 

This week I'm out of state - but still doing a lot of cooking and baking.  Just not taking pictures.  Yesterday I did actually take some photos to share with my own family as I helped the 3 year old make his very first blueberry pie.  Since I have some photos and I'd like for my blueberry pie recipe to be easier to find (for me and for anyone else who might be searching for one) this is the original post from May of 2007 (over 10 years ago!) and I'm also going to post yesterdays pie-baking fun next.  



BLUEBERRY PIE (originally posted on An American Housewife in 2006 and 2007)

3 pints blueberries - cleaned and stems removed or frozen
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c sugar (I use a mixture of brown and white)
1/4 t cinnamon
2 T butter, cut up

A double pie crust (I don't have time to post the recipe - so use your recipe or just buy the canned or frozen version).


Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and then place in the bottom crust. Top with the cut up butter and then carefully place the top crust over and crimp or use a fork to seal the edges. Slice a pretty star shape on the top with a knife or fork to let steam escape. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 for another 30-40 minutes.

Let cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.





*Note*

I've listed this recipe on here before but I want to add some notes to this one. You can ALWAYS 'play around' with a recipe and add and delete on a whim. I wanted to let you know what I do to perk this one up sometimes.

  • lemon rind
  • orange rind
  • ginger
  • all brown sugar, no white
  • a little rum or rum extract

I've used all of the above at one time or another. Just a light sprinkle of one or two of them together really brings out some flavor in this pie.
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Cheesy Chicken Lasagna

I'm out of town, (out of state actually) and although I'm still cooking three meals a day and baking up a storm, it's for family and I'm not taking photos as I'm just too busy to even remember!  (Except for the blueberry pie the 3 year old made yesterday - his first!  I'll hopefully find time to post that one!)

This is one from my files... I think back in 2011 maybe?  A LONG time ago.  It's one I'd play with a bit - tweak it as you wish.  Some ideas might be to use an alfredo sauce instead of the evaporated milk if you are pressed for time; or maybe add some jalapeno's or bacon crumbles!

 
Cheesy Chicken Lasagna

24 oz. evaporated milk (2 regular sized cans)
1 pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix
3 c chicken - cooked and diced or leftover from another meal, etc

9 lasagna noodles, cooked just til done
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 c mozzarella cheese, grated

In a pan on the stove, combine evaporated milk and Ranch dressing. Heat and stir over medium low heat and add the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes stirring frequently. In a 9X13" pan, layer 3 lasagna noodles, spread with half the chicken/sauce mixture, and some of both cheeses. Repeat layers. End with the noodles and sprinkle on the last of the cheeses.  Use a bit more if you like.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving to let it firm up.






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10/11/17

How to stop guacamole from going brown? Freeze it!





Avocados can go from unripe and hard to 'over' ripe and stringy in just a couple days.  You have to use them at the height of their quality or often have to toss them in the trash.  When you have a few to use up before they turn, or you just want to have guacamole on hand for a future meal; make it and freeze it!

We almost always have guacamole on hand and frozen in the deep freezer because it's a favorite food of ours.  However, they do tend to disappear when our college-aged daughter comes home for a weekend and 'grocery shops' our food pantry and refrigerator!  (Ha!)

Simply make your favorite recipe for guacamole, or just chop and mash it with a bit of lime juice and a dash of salt and put it into a tightly sealed container with a lid; packed  up to the top if you can to allow for less air - but because it freezes fairly fast, it isn't likely to brown before it's frozen anyway.

I use my Weston Food Vacuum Sealer to seal ours - you can use any food sealer or if you would like to buy one, you can use my Amazon affiliate link to research and review here:  food sealer










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Cosori Cooking: Spicy Chicken and Pasta

A really ugly picture of Spicy Chicken &Pasta with broccoli - My kitchen lighting makes everything tinted yellow!



I don't think I could have snapped any worse pictures for this recipe than I did.  My kitchen lighting turns everything yellow in the pictures I take on my counter and the reflective surface of the pressure cooker made it even worse.

As much as I dearly loved my electric pressure I owned since 2004? 2005?  The plastic lever next to the steam release finally grew brittle and dry with use and age and broke.  Considering the heavy use it had for over a decade, I finally gave in and ordered a new one last week from Amazon.  After a lot of research I went with this one: COSORI 7-in-1 Multifunctional Pressure Cooker.



I was preparing to make a regular dish for dinner this week (this chicken and pasta dish) and saw the new Cosori Cooker on the counter and thought, "Why not?"  So I adapted it a little bit for the cooker instead of the stove top.  In the end it worked out pretty well although with prep time and warm up time for the pressure cooker I'm not sure it saved me too much time in the long run.  Still, it's something I would make again in the Cosori - but I am going to adapt it next time, which I noted below with the *.



Spicy Chicken and Pasta

1/4 c oil
2 T chopped garlic
2 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut to 1 inch pieces*
2 c broccoli florets *see note
1 1/2 c sliced zucchini
1 1/2 t salt
1 lb. penne pasta
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 c water
1/4 c Romano cheese - sprinkle after cooking

Set the Corsori to saute' and add the oil.  Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper flakes, cooking until aromatic (about 30 seconds).  Add the chicken and saute until brown.  Add the pasta, broccoli, zucchini, salt, tomato and water.  

Set to manual cook for half the time your pasta package calls for.  In my case it called for 10 minutes so I set the pressure cooker for 5 minutes.  When it's done and it's on warming mode and slowly releasing steam, only let it warm for about 4-5 minutes and then release the steam yourself if it hasn't, so the noodles are not over done and mushy.  If there are any pasta on top they may be a little less 'done' than the ones on the bottom but mix it up... they quickly absorb the water and are perfect by the time you serve it.  Sprinkle with cheese before serving if you wish.


*NOTE:  Although I love the broccoli in the stove top version of this recipe I will be leaving it out of the cooking process the next time I make this in the pressure cooker.  I found in the pressure cooker, the broccoli broke down too much, and a strong taste of broccoli permeated everything.  Overpowered everything else.  I suggest, while the Cosori is cooking, I will use those minutes to cook the cut up broccoli in the microwave and add it after cooking.

I also chose to use 2 of my homemade chicken sausages in place of the chicken breasts.  Use whatever chicken you have on hand and play with it.



I browned my chicken sausage a bit and then cut it into slices as it's easier to cut that way


Throwing everything in the pot


Press manual and cook for half the time that your pasta calls for. 5 minutes in my case.








The electric multi-function cooker I bought from Amazon -  (although this recipe could be used with the Instant Pot or whatever electric pressure cooker you have by adapting it if you need to): COSORI 7-in-1 Multifunctional Pressure Cooker









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10/10/17

COSORI - The Cosori 7 in 1 pot I bought - (straight out of the box photos) Pros and Cons - My Thoughts


(This is not a paid review nor was it gifted to me - I bought this myself.)

A couple weeks ago I posted that I had to buy a new electric pressure cooker. My old one from 2004 (?) was finally retired. (Well, I ended up dismantling it and throwing away the electric part of it but keeping the pot, strainer and trivet). That post listed a few options but I ultimately decided on the Cosori 7 in 1. I said I would update when it arrived and this is that update.


COSORI 7-in-1 Multifunctional Programmable Pressure Cooker, Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker with Stainless Steel Inner Pot, 6 Quart





Literally right out of the box (I ordered it from Amazon) - it looked great.  Had I not researched it ahead of time, I would have thought the menu buttons (poultry, rice, slow cook, etc.) were able to be pushed in as active buttons but I knew from my research they were just printed on as an easy on-the-appliance referral menu.

You choose the settings by referring to the menu buttons and then use the + and - to choose the option you want from the menu or choose 'manual' and set the cook time.


I loved my old electric pressure cooker but I could not order a new one of that brand as they are no longer in business.  The new Cosori was similar but you can see the difference in the size of the pot.  I have the 6 quart size but as you can see, it's a bit smaller than my previous pressure cooker. 


There is one reason I really wanted the pots to be the same size and that is the awesome strainer and trivet I saved from my old pressure cooker that the Cosori did not come with.  And....  it fits!!!!!!



Because the bottom of pressure cooker is so hot, you often can have burnt foods; for example, potatoes.  Sometimes the potatoes touching the bottom would burn a bit or just become hard.  By using the trivet and strainer pot the foods like potatoes would all cook evenly.  Luckily my pieces fit perfect so I wouldn't have to spend another $15-20 to buy these optional items.


Safety:  This is not your Grandmother's (or mother's) pressure cooker.  It's not a stove top pressure cooker that you have to babysit - watch closely - and adjust the pressure yourself.  It's entirely self-contained and has built in safety features so you aren't going to end up with chicken blown up all over your kitchen (which did happen to my Mom once in the early 1980's with her old, traditional style pressure cooker.)
  • Lid Lock Safety - prevents the lid from being opened while the cooker is pressurized.
  • Anti-Clog Protection - keeps food particles from blocking the pressure release valve.
  • Pressure Limiter - ensures pressure is kept within safe operating levels.
  • Temperature Controller - ensures food is evenly cooked, but not burned.
  • Excess Temperature Monitor - cuts power to temperature fuse if internal temperature exceeds safety limits.
  • Excessive Pressure Protection - internally releases pressure to avoid hazardous situations.
  • Pressure Auto-Control Guard always keeps pressure in a safe range.
  • Electrical Current Monitor - automatically turns off pressure cooker if the current exceeds safe operational levels.
  • Lid Position Monitor - prevents the pressure cooker from operating if the lid is improperly positioned.
  
Here it is plugged in and starting to warm up with our first 'trial' dinner;  my spicy chicken and pasta dish.  Unfortunately my Cosori package did not come with a recipe book and the instructions are rather poorly written.  I am completely comfortable cooking in it right off the bat as I've used an electric pressure cooker for years now, however in my research I found a lot of people posted about how upset they were there were no recipes, nor were the instructions very helpful for those just buying their first electric pressure cooker.

There are plenty of recipe books available online and recipes available online for you to use and easily adapt to whatever brand pressure cooker you own (Cosori, Instant Pot, etc.).



I researched on Amazon that the Cosori comes with a couple different 'packages' - one of which includes a recipe book.  Mine came with a measure cup for the water and 2 plastic utensils.  Still another one has a trivet included.  My readers can judge which version works best for their needs.





COSORI 7-in-1 Multifunctional Programmable Pressure Cooker, Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker with Glass Lid, Extra Sealing Ring and Recipe Book, 6 Quart/1000W


I've used my Cosori a couple times already this week and it's been awesome.  I have no regrets and I love the saute' feature so I can brown the meats before adding the rest of the ingredients and cooking the meal.  It also has a delay feature to cook 'later' so it's done at the right time and it's built-in feature of going into warming mode after it finishes cooking ensures your food stays hot until you can get to it.




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10/8/17

My Grandmother's Recipe Box: Uncooked Fruit Cake




I explained in a previous post how I came to own an old metal recipe box that was my grandmother's.  She just passed away in February and although I've had this box in my possession for a few years, I hadn't used the recipes in it much as I didn't want to keep touching them and flipping through them.

Some are 'newer' meaning; gathered in the 1970's but many are from the 1940's and are handwritten - a couple in 'dipped' ink - and many are so faded I can barely decipher them.

I was going through them this week and lamenting the fact that a couple are ripped and edges breaking off the brittle cards and it suddenly hit me; I need to take a picture of the card and type out the recipe on my site so they are 'saved' not only for me but for my three kids (all of whom love to cook and bake!).  So dear readers, you will be on the receiving end of some tried and true (and loved) recipes straight from my grandmother's recipe box.

This first recipe is neither hard to read nor as old as some.  But I chose it because not only was it easy to read, but the name of my grandma's friend and neighbor is written on it and on a whim I popped her name into the internet search engine and found a wonderful 'background' story about this interesting lady.  I loved learning about her and her family - knowing that she and my grandma were friends and neighbors - having coffee together and swapping recipes.

 


12# Uncooked Fruit Cake

2# graham crax
1# ginger snaps
2#nut meats
1 t cloves
1 t cinnamon
1 t Allspice
1/2 # dates
1/2# fig
1/2# candied cherry
2# raisin
2#red and green gum drops
1 c jelly or dark syrup
1 1/2 c fruit juice

Mix well and press in loaf or shallow pan.  Store in cool place.


___________________________________

This was readily available on public websites and I just loved the childhood stories she told.  The woman who gave my grandma this recipe was born in 1897 and walked 1 1/2 miles to school starting when she was just 5 years old. 

Apparently she wrote out a bit of her life story in 1969 - and her family included it with her obituary on a public obituary page.  I've taken out names - but left portions of it that had some wonderful stories.


The following written by her in 1969:

Born in 1897. Started to school at age 5 years. Walked 1 1/2 mile to school and the same home. In March 1907 the family moved to Montana where Dad homesteaded. We arrived at Mondak where we had to cross the Missouri river on a cable ferry boat. The ice in the river was just breaking up so had to stay there for six weeks until the boat could cross. May 8th we got across and drove all day with our household goods and stock to our homestead which was our home for several years and we children grew up there on the plains of Montana. All open range country at that time with no neighbors for miles.

The first summer a big prairie fire went past our house. It had burned for around 30 miles. My mother must have been scared when she sit in the house with we four children. For many miles around all men were out fighting the fire with barrels of water and gunny sacks. They got it out a short ways past our house. I never will forget how dark it got and how the range stock was running ahead and bawling.

The first school we attended here was 4 miles distant. We drove a horse and buggy. Believe we went there 2 or 3 years then another school was built 3 miles distant. Was in this little country school where all 4 of us graduated 8th grade. Building not very big but a lot of pupils. The teacher then had to walk 1/2 mile or more, build her own fire and do all the sweeping etc., and teach all 8 grades.

In 1916 our neighbors little girl came to live with us. Her mother died when she was born. She lived with another family for about 3 years before she came to us. From then on Mother and Dad raised her to a young womanhood. We all dearly loved her, to this day we still do.




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10/7/17

My Grandmother's Recipe Box... a new series on An American Housewife




I have a new and special-to-me series coming to An American Housewife that I'm really excited about because it's so personal to me.

In February, my Grandmother passed away.  If cooking and baking have any genetic based factors at all, then this is who I got my love of cooking from.  

My Grandpa died of cancer when he was quite young (58) and left her to raise their family solo.  By that time one of her sons had been killed in a car accident at age 19 and my mother as well as three of her siblings had already married and left home but Grandma was left to care for three young adults with Muscular Dystrophy.  Left with no means of income she bought a fledgling restaurant/pizzaria in a nearby town with a population about 700 people.  One of my Aunts care had gotten to the point where Grandma couldn't work full time and care for 3 adults with Muscular Dystrophy so my Aunt was now in a wheel chair went to a care facility and Grandma moved closer to my family so my parents could help.  She returned to the workforce as a dietician and worked as a dietician until she retired and then volunteered as a 'foster Grandma' for the local elementary schools. 

The best cream puffs I've ever had in my life were made by my Aunt (with Muscular Dystrophy) with my Grandmother's recipe.  I've never known anyone who can make them as perfectly, so light, so fluffy and so big as my Aunt D can.  Of course these days she lives in care facility full time as she's been wheel chair bound for years and hasn't much muscle tone left.  But that cream puff recipe is the same recipe I've used forever - since I was a newlywed.

As Grandma moved, she would slowly but surely downsize.  By the time she was moving to an apartment I was excited to receive boxes of cookbooks from her!  So many old 'church' cookbooks from around Minnesota and South Dakota.  Old "Your Neighbor Lady" booklets, Wilton baking and decorating books and more.  But what I loved most of all was just about 10 years ago when Grandma downsized and went to a very small one bedroom apartment, I was given her old gray, metal recipe box. 

In this box are handwritten recipe cards so old they are falling apart.  Mostly from the early 1940's when she was on the verge of marrying my Grandfather; they are so faded and ripped and obviously dearly loved and used often, they are hard to read. 

This week I was thumbing through some of them, trying to read what was on them and lamenting the fact that some of information is now gone forever and the cards will continue to disintegrate, I realized I needed to either scan them or take a photo of them and start to 'save' them on my website!  That's exactly what I started my website for over a decade ago was to save and collect recipes for my personal use.  The website may have grown to have approximately 1.4 million views, with recipes, product reviews and more but it's primarily used as my own personal 'collection' so I can find them quickly and easily.  And my grandmother's recipes deserve to be saved... and cherished. 

As I photograph and copy my Grandmother's collected recipes, I hope perhaps my readers may see an old recipe that their great-grandmother or grandmother made.  Many of these come from very good friends of my Grandma; women she considered very close friends and neighbors.  Often they were raising children together and would meet for morning coffee - always enjoying "something sweet" with their coffee and trading recipes back and forth.  I love these to pieces... almost literally in some cases!  And hope you will too.









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10/5/17

Product Review: Large Canvas Print by Artsy Couture

I received this product as a gift to review in return for my honest opinion of their product.




Background:  Time to update
About two weeks ago I went online to do a search for companies to print a large, good quality but affordable canvas photo print.  We have one currently up on the wall but it's from... 2008!  It was an image we had taken by a professional photographer and even in 2008, cost hundreds of dollars.  It was time to update it but I did not have a professional image, nor hundreds of dollars in the budget.

Researching
I spent two days researching companies and products online. I wanted a good quality product, somewhat comparable to the professionally printed canvas wall decor we were updating and replacing, but I did not have the budget to pay that much this time around.

I needed to find a great product at a fair and affordable price.

In those two days of researching about 12 different companies, I grew overwhelmed with information and notes but in the end, I did not find a company I felt I wanted to use so I decided to put it "on the back burner" for a couple days.

And this is where the neat twist comes in this story.

That very next day I got an email from a company asking me if I would like to review one of their products for free in return for my honest opinion and a review.  Now, I get product review requests often but I don't accept many due to lack of time, not a good fit for me or my family, etc. but when I researched this company I saw they made (among other things) - canvas prints! Just what I had been researching - but I hadn't known about this company so I never researched it. When I did - Wow!  EXACTLY what I had been looking for and more.  Not only quality products at great prices but their primary customer base are professional photographers so I knew the quality would be good.

The company is Artsy Couture

About Artsy Couture  The company was started by two professional photographers with the patent Gallery Blocks (now their Professional Print Wraps) in a two-car garage. Now, they've grown a whole team working together to provide quality products, great customer service; and they operate out of two different production facilities.

This company is primarily used by professional photographers using the ROES ordering system but they also offer ordering using their website so anyone can purchase.


Time to update! The image on the left is a professional print we had done in 2008.

Use a high quality photo image

Our original 2008 canvas was a professional photograph.  This time, I had a picture I took myself, of our family at the beach.  To take it, I set up my camera on the stair of the beach house rental, set the timer and took some photos.  At the time I didn't think I'd be enlarging any prints bigger than 8X10 so I wasn't concerned about the quality setting on the camera.  It was set fairly low to save space on the memory card. In hindsight I wish I had set it for 'high' quality because I loved the pictures we got.  And I ended up wanting to enlarge one big enough for a new canvas print for the wall.

This is important for this review because I want my readers to realize I'm reviewing the quality of the canvas wrap but the original image used was not professionally taken nor was it good quality. This company did a great job in spite of the less-than-stellar image I gave them to start with.

To cut to the chase - This company exceeded my quality expectations.  It is not only comparable to the professional and expensive canvas print we had made in 2008, but in a couple ways it surpassed it.

The Canvas Wrap Wall Decor (comes in a variety of sizes; see their website for a full listing)
  • A solid wood base creates a very durable, no-sag surface.
  • They are the tightest, cleanest canvas corners in the industry
  • Canvas is finished with a thick, black backing that comes standard with hanging hardware and wall bumpers. Your canvas comes ready to hang
  • UV-free protective coating allows the product to be wiped clean with a damp cloth




    The packaging was very basic and I wondered how the product would come out of the box.... would it be damaged?

    I need not worry!  First off it's completely bubble wrapped for cushion and safety! Inside, it's completely encased in heavy duty plastic.




    The. Corners.  The tightest, smoothest, best quality corners I've seen on any canvas wall hanging. Very durable, pretty and tight.



    A closeup of the pattern of the heavy canvas used and the UV free protective coating; which means you can damp cloth wipe it clean.

    Quality hanging hardware! Right into the sturdy, wood frame so the large wall hangings will not rip, bend or fall

    Comes with rubber bumpers for the bottom corners - not only protects the walls but helps your image stay in place and straight.

    I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Artsy Couture to my readers; especially professional photographers or those wanting professional quality products.  Please visit their website to learn more about their full line of products:

    Canvas wraps and Print Wraps
    Professional Photo Prints
    Custom Cards
    Custom Presentation Boxes
    Lustre Prints
    Custom USB Drives
    Gallery Stands
    Photo Cubes
    Print Wrap sets
    Photo Albums and Photo Books



    Thank You Artsy Couture for allowing me to learn about your company and your product line!







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