Guest Write

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spotlight On: Handjobs For The Home


Our last Spotlight Interview brought us to Linda of Garden Betty who is located on the sunny coastline of California. This time we're traveling across the country to the Big Apple to visit AJ Simone of Handjobs For The Home AJ lives in fabulous New York City where he blogs about Urban Homesteading from a male perspective. On his blog AJ teaches us some great canning and preserving techniques, fun craft tutorials and neat thrifty tips. Read on to get to know AJ  a little better and then visit him over at Hand Jobs For The Home.

Tell us a little about your life offline

I live in Astoria, Queens, with my wonderful boyfriend Alex, pug Ira, and tabby cat Dudley. Astoria is a wonderfully diverse neighborhood, with an absolutely incredible selection of Greek food. When I'm not blogging, I'm a regular 9-5'er. It pays the bills, and allows me to do what I'm doing, which is most important.

When and why did you start Handjobs For the Home?

I was the kid that was always in the kitchen attached to mother’s hip, helping her whip up dinner during the week, or baking together on the weekends. In addition to my mom being a fabulous cook, she’s also quite accomplished with a glue stick. I remember spending hours on weekends helping her make things—she is my biggest inspiration. When we get together, we’re dangerous in the kitchen (in a good way).

In order to keep my own sense of craftiness alive I decided to embark on this blogging journey last year, at the end of December. I try to post about various aspects of DIY cooking and crafting to get people excited and inspired to make and try new things.



What do you like best about blogging? What are your favorite topics to write about? 
I love being able to share my research and knowledge of food with my readers. This summer I went a little canning crazy, and got a chance to share my successes (and a few failures) in the kitchen. It was a lot of fun to learn a new craft that I'm now totally addicted to. I also love writing my Thrifty Tip Tuesday posts. It allows me share some of my favorite shortcuts in the home and kitchen.

Crafting, cooking and the domestics arts have typically been considered "women's work" What's it like to be a man involved in a community on and offline that is female dominated? 

It’s awesome. There are so many talented female bloggers out there that I am thrilled to be associated with. What I love most about crafting, whether it be in the kitchen or with my glue gun and scissors, is that anyone can do it. It’s such a wonderful feeling of satisfaction to be able to create something. I wish more men would let their guard down and get into it.

Where did you learn how to can and preserve food?

I am actually a self taught canner. Even though I grew up in upstate New York my family never did any canning. This past winter, when I decided that I wanted to give canning a shot, I ran to the library and checked out every possible book on the topic that was available. Then it was hunker down time. I read through every book, front to back. It’s such a fascinating craft that is really coming back full force, which pleases me to no end.


Do you have a favorite recipe or preserve you like to make? 

As much as I love jams and jellies, savory preserves are my favorite. I absolutely adore my black onion relish. I put it on everything I can get my hands on. Plus it can be made at any time of the year, making it a fantastic gift for the holidays. 


What's it like to be an urban homesteader in New York City. Do you find it challenging? 

It can be a challenge at times. Space is really my biggest hurdle, and not having a garden kills me. But I make do with what I have. My boyfriend and I always plant a fire escape herb garden every year right outside our kitchen window. It’s fun to experiment with different herbs to spice up our weeknight dinners. One day I dream of living in an old farm house with a huge garden and some chickens and goats, but for now the city will do.

Your home was featured on Apartment Therapy and you share some fun crafty projects on your blog. Obviously you are a creative person. What inspires you and how do you get the creative juices flowing when you aren't feeling very inspired? 

I definitely have my days where I want to shut off my creative mind and just mellow out, but it’s starting to become difficult. Blogging is always in the back of my mind, and I think I’ve become famous for saying, “I could make that.” I find myself pulling inspiration from everywhere I go.

Don’t get me wrong—I do have the occasional day where I don’t feel like being very crafty, but once I get into it I find myself loving it all over again.


What are some of your favorite blogs? 

There are so many, so I’ll give you a few that I’m loving right now.

Small-Measure
Well Preserved
Design*Sponge
Local Kitchen
Food In Jars
Autumn Makes and Does

What's next for you and your blog? Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like to share? 

I was definitely bit by the canning bug this summer, but canning season will be over pretty soon, at least in New York (though I’ve still got some fabulous fall and winter preserves up my sleeve). My next step is to venture into cheese making, as well as get back to some paper crafts. My glue gun and spray paints are feeling a little jealous

Thanks so much AJ! 

2 comments:

  1. I've really enjoyed meeting AJ - thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fascinating character...love his energy, devotion and creativity!

    ReplyDelete