Inspiring Optimist: Meet Marisa McClellan

April 28, 2015

Q&A with the writer, author, blogger and canning expert behind Food in Jars who's no fear approach to canning has inspired us to roll up our sleeves and small batch flavorful wonders in any size kitchen. 

Marisa found a passion for food writing while working as a freelancer at Flash Foods. She wanted to stay involved with food writing and quickly saw the need for specialization in the blogging community. She was already aware of her Mason jar obsession and with a no fear attitude began canning, preserving and telling stories. By 2009 canning was a hot topic and she was positioned in the space to respond to her reader growth. Marisa’s no fear approach to canning is what has inspired many of her exciting recipes and she enjoys sharing with her readers when it is okay to go ahead and experiment in a recipe. You might be surprised to learn she accomplishes all of her canning wonders on the 20th floor, 1000 sq. ft. apartment in a high-rise building! 

Marisa put her own spin while handcrafting her own Bright Side Glass Cleaner using lemon infused vinegar. You can read her full post here

Devin spoke with Marisa recently to discuss inspiration, passion and of course optimism! 

Q: What does optimism mean to you? 

A: The combination of hopeful action and a good attitude.

Q: What aspect of your work are you most passionate about? 

A: I am most passionate about the writing; I have a master's degree in writing. I also recognize my site is a service site. Customers are looking for regular content and I need to balance interesting writing and making it clear and understandable. 

Q: What is the moment you had an idea that would inspire others? 

A: I had no fear about canning and many people do. I was not scared and said, “of course!” I knew enough to inspire but also aggressively self-educated. In the beginning, I was not scared and had a level of comfort doing it. I like to educate others on when in a recipe you can experiment and when you cannot. I give knowledge and understanding to what is happening behind the scenes. 

Q: What tools do you use to stay positive and motivated? 

A: I find Instagram is a great tool for staying positive and seeing beautiful images. I am a very visual person. I try to go for a walk everyday. If am loosing my optimism, getting overwhelmed, going for a walk and changing the air and environment makes a huge difference in changing my outlook. I do a photo a day project that I do not promote but I do for myself so that everything I create is not just for the blog. I really believe in doing things for yourself as your small business can turn into everything you live and breathe for and you need something outside of the work to keep you motived. Every time I am out of ideas, I think I have written every recipe, I have nothing left, I find working on a project that is not for the blog and is just for myself opens up the flow of ideas.

"Preparing food for your family is investing in the future and to prepare is inherently an optimistic act."

Q: How would you describe your DIY style?

A: My DIY style is fast but good. I am not a perfectionist and am of the school of good enough. When I am doing stuff at home 75% is good enough. I use Mason jars for everything, leftover storage, drinking water, I don’t like rendering them obsolete like painting them that diminishes their ability to used as a jar. My husband even has a Lego mini figure collection and they live in a jar. I tend to gravitate towards old crates and in college my whole room was filled with old crates.

Q: What would be next if you had no fear? 

A: More video and video blogging, I make lots of excuses for not doing it, which has a lot to do with my fears. That is what should be next.  

If you are ready to try canning for the first time or get inspired by new recipes, make sure to check out Marisa's cookbook Preserving By The Pint. She even has a new cookbook coming out soon and we can't wait! 


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