A Fund for Jennie: Custom Labels


I’m sure this isn’t the only food blog you read. So, assuming you’ve been surfing about in the food blogsphere at all, you’ve heard about Jennie. About the sudden death of her husband Mikey. About thousands of peanut butter pies made in his name. About the aftermath of sudden and unexpected death: not only crushing grief, but mortgage payments, legal and tax issues, health insurance woes. Fear. Worry. And an overwhelming feeling that now you must face these myriad problems alone: that the person who promised to be there always, to face life’s challenges with you, isn’t there. It’s heartbreaking.

I don’t know Jennie. Until Mikey’s death, when the food blogging community exploded with an outpouring of love and sympathy for her, I’d never heard of Jennie’s blog. But, I’m a woman, a food blogger, a wife, a New Yorker. I’m human. I can imagine all too well what I would go through in her situation, and isn’t strange, yet wonderfully human, to have wept so many tears in the past few weeks over a woman, a man, a family I’ve never met?


As much as I sympathize with what Jennie is going through right now, as much as my heart breaks over her girls growing up without their Dad, I have to admit that I identify with Mikey. Because as terrible as it would be for me to lose the love of my life (and I can’t type those words without crying) even worse would be if I were the one to go; to go and to know that I was leaving behind the crushing grief, the aching loneliness, the unholy storm of financial and legal issues that would ensue. I could only hope that friends and family, the bonds we’ve forged in our life together, would rally ’round and help him in his time of need: with, yes, hugs and tears and shoulders to cry on, but also time and space and freedom from anxiety. With time to adjust to a new normal, without the fear of losing his home. With space to grieve for all the things that we would never do together, without worrying about the bills piling up on the counter. With breathing room. If I put myself in Mikey’s place, that’s what I would want (short of coming back to my family, which clearly, is beyond any of us): breathing room. A little space of time between dealing with the emotional upheaval of loss and dealing with the mundane, but important, aspects of a new reality. It doesn’t seem so much to ask for, does it?

I don’t care much about money. I don’t play the lottery, don’t lust after millions: it’s just not my bag. But this is one of those times that I wish I was rich. Really rich. Bill Gates-rich. Because it would be so easy: I would just say “Jennie, don’t worry. Here’s $100,000. Take 6 months, spend your time grieving and sorting out a new life for you and your girls. The mortgage, the health insurance, the bills – we’ve got you’ve covered.” And I would think “Mikey, don’t worry. We’ve got your back. Your girls are going to be OK.” Sadly, I am not Bill Gates-rich; not by a long shot (and if I were, I’m sure there would be a million Jennies with a million heartbreaking stories; I’m not naïve enough to think it’s that simple). So what can I, a complete stranger, and a not-rich one at that, do? What can I do to help Jennie? To help Mikey? Luckily, I don’ t have to sort that out for myself: Bloggers without Borders has done it for me.

Modern Text.

They’ve set up a fund: A Fund for Jennie. Again, assuming that you’re out there in the blogosphere, you know this already. What’s amazing is the incredible support it’s received: in only two days, they’ve raised nearly $15,000. There are approximately a bazillion fantastic auctions out there in support of the cause, with new ones being added by the minute. So, I donated, what little I could, like hundreds of others have done so far. And as a thank-you to the many who have donated, and to encourage others to open their hearts, and their wallets, to offer up whatever they can to the cause, I’ve created my own auction of sorts: a set of custom canning jar labels.

Here’s the deal: the first 5 people who donate $25 or more and who comment here will receive a PDF of custom-designed labels, made by me, just for you. For a $25 donation you can select one design. Donate $50? Pick two designs. Want to label your whole pantry? Fantastic! Dig deep, donate generously, and I will make your canning pantry the envy of your block. You can choose any of the three designs pictured above: Circles (as featured on The Kitchn and Pimp that Preserve!), Typewriter, or Modern Text (also shown here and here), and I will incorporate your specifics: maybe you want labels for a particular recipe; maybe you’ll be giving out holiday gifts, or bridal shower favors; maybe you want a generic “from Sam’s Kitchen” with a space to write in the individual preserve. Whatever it is, I’ll work with you and do my best to make it happen, as a thank you for supporting a great cause. As additional incentive, the contribution with the single largest donation will win a set of labels, and I’ll hold a random drawing from the comments here of anyone who donates, any amount large or small, for a total of 7 winners. I’ll keep the auction open for one week, until midnight (Eastern Standard Time) August 30th. Simply click on the BWOB button below to donate.

Seven sets of labels. It doesn’t seem like much: but it might buy a little breathing room. Don’t worry, Mikey. We’ve got your back. Your girls are going to be OK.

Donate to Bloggers Without Borders

I should note that I assume you will want to print the labels yourself, hence I will plan to email a PDF file, which you can use again and again. The file should work with any 2 and 1/2-inch round label, but I use Avery, which are available in white and 100% recycled Kraft brown. Should you not have access to a printer, or be unable to source the labels, I am happy to print some out (within reason) and mail them to you.

Disclaimer: I’m not a graphic designer. I mean, I work in MS Word, which is more than a little pathetic. But people seem to love the labels, so I thought it would be a nice way to say thank-you. I’ll do my best to design a custom label that you love; but I can’t work miracles. I’m just a science geek, after all.


    • No worries Casey. I *just* published, so I’m probably not up on the round-up yet. Does clicking on the BWOB button not take you to the PayPal donation page? At any rate, I will forward the link to your email address.

  1. Hmm. You know, I did hover over that button before and would swear that it didn’t work, but now that I try it again, there it is.

    In any case, here’s my donation: Confirmation number: 9A1562928T9385338

    You can put me at the end of the list of people to focus on for labels. I DO intend to claim them since they are so terrifically awesome, but have had a very paltry canning summer, sadly, and don’t want to waste them.

    My heart aches for Jennie, and for her children, and at the suddenness of it all. I also don’t know her, but am a wife, a mother, a New Yorker… I can’t imagine such a shattered reality. This donation is the least any of us can do. Thank you for YOUR efforts, too!

  2. Caroline MacMoran

    Beautiful labels, and a much-needed cause to help us remember how human and vulnerable we all are. Thank you.

  3. Just stopping by (for the first time) to say wow. Thanks for a beautiful post. I totally relate to your POV and the concern you’d have if YOU were the one who left this world too soon. Thank you for your generosity of spirit and of beautiful MS Word designed labels! They’re adorable.

  4. Kathleen Clark

    Kaela: thanks for the added bonus to contributing to Jennie and her girls. I, too, have cried a river of tears for them. So bittersweet, this life. Loving, losing, such sorrow, and then this moment to join hands and pull together for a total stranger – because she is me, is you, is us all. -Kathleen
    Confirmation number: 29738120U82853237.

  5. Thanks to Marissa and foodinjars.com I found this site.I found this post and my heart sank when I clicked over and read a handful of Jennie’s post.My step-dad died suddenly on New Year’s Day 2009 and my mom’s world wil never be the same. My heart breaks for her and Jennie. I hope my donation ( $50) will help. Confirmation number: 1SL5684911999261M -Meredith

    • Meredith,

      Thanks so much for your generous donation, and so sorry to hear about your step-dad. I’ll email you shortly to discuss label design. Congrats on being winner number 3!


  6. I just donated…this is really sweet of you, I have admired your labels for a long time!! She has my very best wishes, we never know when we might be in the same spot…do you need the confirmation number? Wendy

    • Redsoxgal,

      Thank you so much for your donation, and I heartily approve of your taste in baseball teams. 🙂

      I’ll email you shortly to discuss logistics and label design. Congrats on being winner #4!


  7. Melissa B

    How wonderful of you, I love your site. I made a donation, here is my confirmation code 679653288U979084M. It was for $25. I like the modern text. Thank you

  8. Sandi

    I heard about his sad death, but didn’t know that a fund was started. Thank you for letting us know. I never met the family either, but I understand the last thing they need right now is to worry about bills or the future. I just donated $50.

  9. Kaela,
    You put into words what I searched for. The reason we all give, financially and in items to auction, is for that burden that is weighing down on Jennie to be lifted just a little bit. I imagine it in a very literal way, and bit by bit, we’re giving Jennie the space and ability to inhale, exhale, process, and continue living.

    Look how you’re inspiring me to ramble further about this. Anyway, thank you for giving, and such an awesome gift at that!

  10. Hey Kaela, I have been checking out different food blogs for the past week or so for the first time. Didn’t realize there were so many great recipes out there!!(well more so, people actually writing about it) . I love your site and I want to thank-you for your blogs and recipes and other useful info! I saw the post about Jennie’s husband by way of FB and felt so bad for her! I hope my donation of $25 helps out.(conf.#504771938D066134A). Don’t really need the labels but if I win then eh, I will put them to good use on my jars of jam and salsa(my first canning experience btw).
    I will also put in a prayer or two for her and her family. That is so sad and God bless all who have made a donation!

  11. grace

    Wonderful thing you are doing! In the wrong order I have just made a contibution, Confirmation Number: 2NP77916Y32762152 .
    Sometimes from bad, good things come and this is one of them. You are helping many open their hearts to a woman, mother, friend, in need.

  12. Caroline MacMoran


    Since I’m new to this, I didn’t understand about leaving the confirmation number, etc. I see now that there are already 5 people, but I wonder if you might be willing to consider including me (I think I was actually #2…). If not, no big deal, I wanted to contribute anyway.

    Conf. #9AA484089V536025C

  13. Thank you so much for doing this. This is the second blog I’ve donated through. My donation for your blog is $25.00, confirmation #8KM65711CB1003139. God bless Jennie and her girls, and you, and the food blogging community,too.

  14. Debbie

    I am new to this food blogging and love to follow you all. I was very saddened and can not even begin to imagine being so young and having to deal with a heart wrenching situation as Jennie’s. May God grant her strength and courage every day. She is already blessed with wonderful friends and support.

    Thank you all for being so generous for a friend in need. My donation confirmation # 5YC12376VD6446402.

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  17. shellee machado

    Hi, regarding those fantastic labels, I didn’t think to give you my Transaction ID #74788672FC210153T for the donation for Jennie that was made on Aug 25 @ 1:24am.

  18. Thank you for the beautiful words and for the opportunity to do something, anything, for Jennie and her girls. We were happy to contribute through your site – so grateful to be a part of a beautiful blogging community.

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  23. Jenny L

    Hi –

    I was wondering if you are still doing the labels. I believe you are on the east coast and so understand that things may be a bit hectic with everything you’ve experienced with the storm.

    The labels are adorable and I would love to create them for my sister-in-law!!

    Hope you are doing well.

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