Spotlight On: Jane Sweet Jane

Dixie Caviar's 'Spotlight On' showcases both established and up-and-coming Southern artisans across a variety of creative fields. We'll be talking shop, the South, and their very best recipes. Read on! I am so pleased to introduce y'all to Miss Jane Randall Jackson of JANE SWEET JANE. (And yes, she has the cutest Southern double name!) The Jackson and Dozier families go way back, and I can 100% say they are some of the kindest, most genuine folks I know. Jane Randall's hand painted pillows, art, and furniture ooze Southern charm and I wish her so much success in her promising career. Read here about the fabulous girl behind the brand and then go check out her site for yourself. (Trust me, you are going to LOVE her!)

Tell me about yourself: My name is Jane Randall Jackson. I was born and raised in Opelika, Alabama, where I currently live after some time away. I attended THE University of Alabama where I rooted for the Tide. But, in 2010, I was "Cam"verted as I call it, and now I pull for the Tigers. Recently engaged to a Mississippi State graduate, I also like to ring a cowbell every now and can be quite addicting!

All in all, I love the south and pull for MOST teams in the SEC. To avoid negativity, I will not mention those teams within our great conference that I do not pull for EVER. The past two seasons, I have contemplated wearing a button that says "MAKE ART, NOT WAR" because I have seen too many arguments take place over football, and to me, it ain't worth it!

My sister (and business partner) is Laurel Jackson Callaway, and she too has returned after time away. She is an AVID Auburn fan! Birmingham Southern grad! The rest of the family are avid Auburn fans. WAR EAGLE!

Tell me about JANE SWEET JANE: (This is from our "about" page on our website!)

"Founded by Southern artist Jane Randall and her sister, Laurel Jackson Callaway, Jane Sweet Jane offers home décor hand-crafted in Alabama. From a very early age, Jane Randall has had a deep love for the arts—and it is from this passion that Jane Sweet Jane was born, bringing you pillows, lamps, and table runners that serve as a homespun finishing touch to any space.

There is a story in every piece of Jane Sweet Jane’s designs—from the vintage buttons Jane purchased from a woman who built her collection from the clothes of her aunts and mother, to the repurposed burlap from her family’s 100-year-old fertilizer business. Raised on a cattle and crop farm in East Central Alabama in a farmhouse built by her great-grandparents, Jane Randall developed a love for nature at an early age, which is apparent in her designs and fabrics. A self-proclaimed Luddite, Jane Randall cuts her stencils by hand and hand-paints every item that leaves her shop, making every piece beautiful and unique.

In addition to lamps, runners, and the general collection of pillows, which changes frequently as Jane Randall draws inspiration from the seasons and her own personal experiences, Jane Sweet Jane offers custom pillows as well, featuring faces of the people and pets who mean the most to you."

Tell me how JANE SWEET JANE got started: I studied art history in college, grew up painting as a child and have always enjoyed life the most when I am creating something. So there has been a natural progression really into what we are doing today. JANE SWEET JANE started when I painted some pillows as a consignment product for a friend's shop. I had painted my own curtains and lampshades and pillows at my home so it was just natural to make hand painted pillows. I actually used leftover canvas cloth from my hand painted curtains, and buttons from my vintage collection. My mom and I got together in my "creative room" and I painted and we sewed them together! It was actually her idea to use burlap from burlap bags at the family business, Piedmont Fertilizer. When they were well received by different shops, my family and I realized there was potential to really run with the idea of making hand painted, hand made, custom home items and decor.

Tell me where you see JANE SWEET JANE in five years: In five years, I see myself and Laurel having little babies running around the shop. That is a hopeful desire. And I always joke that I plan to dethrone Martha Stewart... American needs a fresh spunky Southerner helping them with DIY ideas... I see JANE SWEET JANE being a household name.

What is Southern about JANE SWEET JANE: Well first of all, we are proudly made in Alabama! The south is very family oriented, meaning we all work together in this. We really are "all in." Each family member contributes: we use burlap from our other family business for the backs of the pillow, and the thread used to accent the fronts of the pillows came from our grandmother's needle point collection. It is all very home grown.

The designs are very simple and unassuming. A lot of them even feature subjects found in the south. The name itself is friendly and welcoming, a play on "home sweet home". And if there is one thing southerners are known for, it is being friendly and welcoming!

Tell me who and/or what currently inspires you: The Southern things I see day in and day out—like southern birds, southern flowers, southern animals. I studied art history and am drawn to folk art. It is simple and mostly Southern. I like to keep things simple, straight forward. Family also has a large influence on my drive. I love my family very much. The business oriented and artistic genes found in Laurel and myself come from a long line of business owners and artists.

Tell me about your relationship with food and cooking: We all love to cook. Laurel and I are always cooking! We eat out a few times a month to support local restaurants, but we like trying new recipes and eating at home! Plus, when your dad has a green thumb and a garden that produces enough veggies to feed a village, it is hard to resist eating fresh vegetables at home...

I actually went to a short culinary program and have worked in a few kitchens! I always wanted to open a sweets shop in Opelika when I moved home. But three and half years ago, I was not sure that a gelato shop would survive here! So, like I said, we love to cook!

Tell me your best food story: Every Christmas Eve, our family returns to my parent's home for our annual "Pickle Hunt" (winning prize is always an incentive to find the pickle!), which is followed by a tasty and filling dinner. Menu always includes: Dad's smoked ham, turkey, at least three traditional casseroles, and pecan pie for dessert. The pecans come from the orchard on the farm where we grew up and where my parents still live!

I cannot recall any disasters, but I can recall some torturous experiences of working in restaurant kitchens. I love to cook, but I am too sweet to handle an angry chef!

Any favorite MADE IN THE SOUTH brands worthy of your shout out? Southern kudos to:

Imogene + Willie, a custom jean shop in Nashville, TN Social South Magazine and blog in Jackson, MS Sister Schubert's rolls! Dixie awesome! (Why thank you very much.)

So many artists in the south...soooo many great ones!! And, I am really proud of what is happening in Opelika, AL...this town is legit. So many great new businesses in our historic downtown...that are not chains!

Please share your favorite Southern recipe and what it means to you: I always joke that the cartoon character Garfield and I are kindred spirits...mostly because of our deep, deep love of lasagna. I know it is not what you would necessarily think of when you talk about Southern foods, but it is a lot like a casserole! Put together your ingredients, and put it in the oven. But, it is so much better than a casserole! I think I love anything with tomatoes and cheese though too, so this is a large reason why I love lasagna. At home, I am always coming up with my own variations of lasagna and it always tastes delicious...try eggplant sliced thin for a noodle substitute...or inch long cuts of asparagus instead of meat for a different, textured bite...throw in some fresh slices of tomatoes as a layer. I mean the options are endless!

For this recipe I am sharing, I'm going to keep it simple and keep it classic. This is my Mom's Lasagna Recipe and whenever I need a meal to bring my soul comfort, I make this. Or, if I reaaaaallly need comfort, she will make it for me! And there are always leftovers, so the comforting lasts a couple of days!


Source: Jane Randall Jackson Yields: Feeds a crowd

For the spaghetti sauce 2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained of all fat 1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce 3 packages spaghetti sauce seasoning (McCormick's) 2 cups water

For the lasagna 1-1/2 boxes of cooked lasagna noodles 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 2 cups cottage cheese 2 eggs, lightly beaten Grated Parmesan cheese Spaghetti sauce

For the sauce: Combine all the ingredients and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes.

For the lasagna: Preheat oven to  350 degrees. Combine cottage cheese and eggs until well-blended. In a 9 x 13 glass baking dish, put a thin layer of sauce, followed by a layer of noodles. Now put another layer of sauce, half the cottage cheese mixture and then half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat ending with a layer of noodles on top with remaining sauce. Generously sprinkle Parmesan on top. Cook for at least 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Tell me what you love about the South/being Southern: How many words do I have????

— I love Southern terrain. Maybe it is because I grew up on a farm, but I love farms. I love sunsets on a farm. I love that Southerners are always enjoying the lands that surround them. Farming and growing plants and veggies on your own land are not uncommon in the south. And farmers markets are regular occurrences. As well as fresh floral arrangements from your own garden.

— I love that we are made up of small towns. People still know their neighbor (and even like them most of the time) in a small town. Southerners know how to tell great stories and enjoy doing so. Our heritage and history is important to us.

— I love the people: We are friendly and inviting to strangers. Charming almost always. Our accent is soft and easy on the ears. We are not abrasive or harsh people. And I think a lot of that goes back to the fact that we still cherish good etiquette. In the South, manners matter, yall.

— I love the weather. I would rather be too hot over too cold any day!

— I love the game of six degrees of separation that Southerners play. Whenever we meet someone new and discover where they are from, it is like a game to find one person you know from there and ask if they know he or she as well. Almost always, somebody knows somebody you know...

— THE FOOD! Fry it, boil it, barbeque it, roast it, bake it, how ever you want to make it.... Whatever you are cooking will just taste better when a Southerner is in the kitchen. And you cannot beat sweet tea....

— The music...the world can thank us for blues, jazz, southern rock, classic country... without them many greats would never be. (i.e. The Beatles, etc...)

— Of course, College football. In the South, it is what you plan your fall schedule around and this will never change! How could you not like Southern College's the best!

I could go onnnn and onnn and onnnnnn...

I told you she was the sweetest dang thing on the planet! For more JANE SWEET JANE, follow her on Facebook and Twitter.