Using canning jars to store touch-up paints.

So I’m still working on the house, it’s never ending I tell ya! I’m just doing little touch-ups and finally adding stuff to our bare walls.  It is finally looking and feeling like home. Since Christmas I have either painted or repainted 7 of our 9 rooms. With that comes a lot of little touch-ups. So one day I decided to organize all of our paints and make up little jars for all those little touch-ups that are constantly happening. In the past I would put off all of my touch-ups because I would have to get out the gallon paint can. It just seemed like too much work for me. But now these little jars make touch-ups so quick and easy…and I actually use them.Of course I chose to use canning jars with plastic lids to store my touch-up paints in. Did you expect anything different from me?Then I store all of my little jars in a box that I bought in the office section at Walmart. It fits them all perfectly and even has a little extra room for my sponge brushes and paint can openers that always seem to disapear.

The box is stored in the house with all of our office supplies. Kind of a weird spot you would think, but it works for me and that is what is most important.And since we are talking about painting, how many of you have tried Frog Tape? It is the best! Yes, a little more expensive then the cheap stuff, but well worth the extra buck. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of Frog Tape that I have gone through in the past year.So now you can organize all of your paints and keep your walls looking brand new and clean. Gotta love that! Now I’m off to the paint store to buy more white paint for the trim. Like I said, it is never ending!

Using canning jars for weight loss.

So I officially started a diet. Spring weather has already hit here in New Hampshire and I have no clothes that fit other then my black yoga pants. Plus with my belly still being swollen from surgery I am at even more of a loss for clothes that fit. So a diet I will start!

For breakfast I like to have cereal with fruit. But let’s face it measuring out your cereal is no fun, plus looking at that 3/4 of a cup of cereal in a big bowl makes me want to quit my diet already. So this morning I decided to put my cereal in a canning jar. As most of you know the sides of a canning jar have measurements on them, so no need for dirtying your measuring cups. But the best part is by putting my cereal in a canning jar it looks like I’m eating a lot…I like that!

So hopefully these little canning jars will help me loose some weight. Any other great tips for me?

How to make a big kids sippy cup from a canning jar.

You all know my love for canning jars by now, so it is probably not much of a surprise that I came up with another use for our beloved canning jars. A few years ago we started using canning jars as our regular everyday drinking glasses. They are strong, hold up well and we always have a ton of them around. So it was a no brainer when I was in need of some sippy cups the other day to turn our canning jars into sippy cups for the kids.

I know some of you are thinking that I am totally nuts for giving my kids glasses to drink out of but in all reality they have been drinking out of canning jars whenever we ran out of sippy cups anyways and they have yet to have one break. (I hope I didn’t just jinx myself there by saying that.)

As you can see they are super easy to make. All you need is some canning jars, Ball plastic storage caps and some straws. I purchase my plastic storage caps in with the regular canning supplies at Walmart but they can be purchased on-line too. They come in wide mouth and regular mouth sizes, so they will fit whatever size you have on hand.

Once you have all of your supplies, just take a drill and drill a hole into the lid close to the edge or in the middle of the lid. Then take a knife and cut off the little plastic remains if you have any. If your lid splits try turning them upside down and place on top of a scrap piece of wood. Then drill the holes. This should help keep the lids from cracking. Of course don’t forget to wash the lids before using. Then plop in a straw and let the kids enjoy.

The lids are dishwasher safe and are easy to clean. The kids love using the different colored straws and are now fighting over who gets what straw instead of who gets what sippy cup…some things just never change. If you wanted to, you could even use some of those super cute paper straws or some reusable straws. I just happened to have the plastic throw away ones on hand. Of course these sippy cups are not spill proof and may not work for everyone, but they are working great for us and hopefully will work for some of you. I already have a bunch of canning jar cozies on my to do list. They will give the jars a little added protection just in case and will add a little fun for the kids.

I know I have been MIA a bit these past few weeks, sorry. We are doing well and yes the house got finished in time for Christmas. But now I am repainting all of the rooms we had been cramming into before. They are in need of a new paint job and a lot of patching. Plus, those rooms were never fully finished in the first place. Luckily these are little jobs that I can do without the hubby’s help. He needs a break from working on this house and deserves it without a doubt. I still cannot believe how he ever did all of this having never done something like this before. I’m one lucky girl to have such a handyman! Slowly I will be posting pictures of the renovation along with the details. A lot of you were curious on my color choices, accessories and such. But for now, I still have a lot of work to get done and cannot fully rest until it is done. I’m hoping to have it all done and organized in the few weeks and cannot wait to get started on that long list of crafting and sewing to do’s.

How to make a bubble station.

We spend a lot of time blowing bubbles in this house, so in turn we make a lot of messes with bubble solution. You know the deal, each kid wants their own wand and their own glass to dip into…baby included. So this momma fills 3 glasses with bubble solution and in about 2 minutes all of their glasses are spilled over and they are asking for more. Soon that large bottle of bubble solution is gone. So it was either come up with an easier way for us to enjoy blowing bubbles or buy stock in bubble solution. So this is what my never-ending-crafty-brain came up with.

The ultimate bubble station.

It was a no-brainer to use canning jars since we use them for EVERYTHING in this house, plus they are the perfect size for holding bubble solution and are easy for the kiddo’s to dip into. But the best part about using canning jars is that since the kiddo’s wont be spilling their bubble solution, all I have to do is screw the lids on the canning jars once they are finished and we have the remaining bubble solution ready for next time.

I can’t tell you enough how much I love this little bubble station of ours. It has really turned bubble time into something fun and not something I used to dread.

As you can see, the design is super simple. The top board is large enough for 5 holes and thick enough so that the canning jars wont tip over. The bottom piece of wood is a piece of ply-wood and is there just to keep the canning jars from falling out.

To cut the holes, the hubby simply used a hole saw that was slightly larger then a canning jar.

Once the boards were cut out I sanded and painted the two pieces of wood…orange of course. And as you can see, I’m not the best as sanding or rather, I’m very impatient. But really, if you are going to make one, take the extra time to do a better job sanding then I did. You will be thankful you did. Then after a few coats we screwed the boards together from underneath so that the screws wouldn’t show.

And there you have it, our perfect little bubble station!

Of course this little caddy isn’t used just for blowing bubbles. A caddy made for holding canning jars can be used for ANYTHING! Just think of all of the goodies that can be stored in this little caddy. I already have used it for holding candles, flowers, drinks and kids snacks.

Rhubarb {harvesting, baking and freezing}

The rhubarb patch is overflowing, which means it’s time to start filling the freezer with homemade rhubarb goodies again.

For the past few years I have been making all of my breads, pies and goodies while we harvest them from the garden instead of freezing the cut veggies or fruits with great intentions of baking them later. I never did end up baking with them later, so we would end up with a freezer full of frozen fruit and veggies unused. I know shame on me. So a few years ago I decided to make all of our baked goodies or freezer meals once something in the garden was being harvested. So now I spend a few days cooking and baking like crazy once something is harvested and in the end I end up with a freezer full of meals and goodies. Last year I think I ended up with over 40 loaves of breads, lots of cakes, muffins, sweet treats and numerous amounts of freezer meals.

Each year I discover new recipes to try and learn better freezing methods through trial and error. I also seem to get better and faster at baking and cooking all of our goodies. I have learned that cooking in large quantities and spending 1/2 a day cooking it all at once actually saves me a ton of time in the long run.

I wait til I have a good amount to harvest, then pick all that I can, wash it and cut it up. Sometimes I have so much that I cannot cook or bake it all in one day so I simply place my cut up veggies or fruits in the fridge for the next day. Then depending on how much I have cut up, I pick out the recipes that work best together, like having the same oven temp or the same ingredients being used. Then I start mixing and baking, and in a few short hours I end up with an insane amount of freshly baked goodies. But the best part, is that you only have to clean-up once! For me, cleaning up is the most time consuming parts and my least favorite to do. But if you get it all done in one day, then you only have clean up once.

Rhubarb was never one of my favorites but with some newer recipes that I have found over the past few years it is becoming one. I use most of the time while cooking or baking. I like how the recipes are rated, have pictures, and are pretty simple to make. I like to cook and bake, but don’t want to spend a lot of money buying ingredients that I don’t already have right in my cabinets. I also have a few cookbooks that focus mainly on cooking and baking things harvested from your garden.

My favorite rhubarb recipes:

How I freeze my baked goodies:

I like to bake my crisps straight in canning jars or bake them into a large pan and then transfer the crisp into canning jars once cooled. This way it is easier for my hubby to bring to work and they also act as a ice pack in his lunch box. Of course you can bake the crisps in a pan and then place the whole pan into the freezer once cooled. Just make sure that you wrap the cooled pan in plastic wrap right onto of the crisp and cover pan again with some aluminum foil.

I like to freeze my cakes and breads wrapped in plastic wrap. If you want to wrap them in wax paper, just make sure you place them into a freezer bag afterwards. Last year I wrapped close to 20 loaves of breads only in wax paper and they all became dried out and had a freezer burnt taste… so lesson learned.

When it comes to pies, I bake my pies in a pie pan and once cooled I wrap them in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil on top of that. I also have found that some recipes can be assembled ahead of time, frozen and then baked later. Rhubarb pie is one of those. So all I have to do is grab a frozen pie, let it thaw for a bit and then bake per directions.

Don’t forget to label! I have to admit I don’t always do this, but if it is a new recipe, an uncooked pie or covered in aluminum I do. This way I also know what recipes work and which ones don’t.

At the end of the season, you will be so thankful you took the time to bake first and freeze. It is a great feeling to have a freezer full of meals and baked goodies. Not to mention a great way to save money, eat healthy and have some great baked goods when you need something in a jiff.

How to make butter in a canning jar

A few of you wanted to know how I made my butter in a canning jar, so I thought I would share the way I make it. Some people allow their cream to warm to 60′ or room temp, but I don’t. I guess if you allow the cream to warm a bit, it causes the butter to be less sweet. Well I don’t know about you, but I love me some butter, so I keep the temperature of my cream cold and straight from the fridge. I’m not exactly sure on the real process of how making butter works, and I’m sure some of my terminology is not correct, but that’s alright with me. Like I said I, don’t know how it works, I just know that it does works and it makes some dang good butter. This is a great activity to do with the kiddo’s. And if you want to really educate them on how to make butter, just do a little investigating first on the real process of how it works. My kiddo’s are too young to care right now. They just love watching the cream turn into butter and taking little tastes along the way.
Here is what you will need to make your own butter and buttermilk in a canning jar:
*1 pint of cold heavy cream
*canning jar with a lid
*lots of energy for shaking Pour cold heavy cream into canning jar and fill it about 3/4 of the way. Take one last peek at what the heavy cream looks like. Next time you take a peek it will be whipped cream.

Screw the lid on and start shaking. Shake for about 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes unscrew the lid and take a peek…now you have some whipped cream.

Go ahead and take a nibble, it is scrumptious! Screw the lid back on and shake for another 5 minutes or so. If you unscrew the lid now, you will see this. The miracle of making your own butter is starting to work.

Screw the lid back on and keep shaking for just a few minutes. You will be able to feel and see once the butter is starting to form.

Now unscrew the lid and pour off some of the liquid. Make sure you pour the liquid into a bowl and save it. The liquid is actually buttermilk. Just an added little bonus to making your own butter. You can use it to make some buttermilk pancakes.

Screw the lid back on and shake a few more times to make sure you get all of the buttermilk out. Drain the excess liquid again.

Screw the lid back on. In a few more shakes you will get a smooth ball of butter.

Now place the butter into a bowl.

Run some cold water over the butter while mixing the butter around with a spoon to get the rest of the buttermilk out. Drain the liquid off and repeat til the water is clear when drained off.

Now you have handmade butter made in a canning jar.

Place your butter and buttermilk in some jars and place in the fridge.

Why not make up a few to share with others, who doesn’t love and deserve a little homemade butter?! These will make a cute little homemade gift paired with your favorite pancake mix or freshly baked bread. Or snip some fresh herbs and mix it in with the butter to use on top of grilled steak.

embrace the camera {Valentine’s Day 2011}

Valentine’s Day morning started early with two little girls sharing a cupcake on the kitchen floor. This momma was a bit mad, but look at how happy this little munchkin was to get her first tastes of a chocolate cupcake.

I quickly decided to get those cupcakes frosted and out of the reach of little hands. So while my little guy and I decorated our cupcakes and put them into canning jars, this little girl spent her time sneaking another cupcake and eating all the leftover sprinkles.

My little guy took his time placing all of the hearts on his cupcake. He is so unlike his sister and even decided to save his cupcake for later.

And it wouldn’t be a holiday if we didn’t make some type of cupcake in a canning jar.
We made Daddy his favorite treat, raspberry squares.

In the afternoon, once all our baking and decorating was done we gathered all our handmade goodies and delivered them to special friends and family.
Then we came home and just hung out impatiently waiting for daddy to come home from work and see his baked goodies.

At least I got some good snuggles in while waiting!
Once Daddy got home Momma made a scrumptious dinner of Giovonni Shrimp. It was scrumptious but far from being romantic. The baby was either crying or being held for the whole meal. And of course, there was the infamous 1/2-a-glass of milk spilled all over the floor. Oh well, but we sure did enjoy our cupcakes and chocolate covered strawberries. The baby got her first tastes of a chocolate covered strawberry too, thanks to her big sister. I think her sister is quickly becoming her bff.
So how was your Valentine’s Day?

How we are giving thanks this year.

We decided to make everyone little “give thanks” cards.

I printed out a picture of our family and taped them onto white card stock. Then I let my son add the extras. I gave him the choice to use whatever he wanted. He used my tape, scissors, glue, stapler, and hole puncher. He loved being able to use mommas goodies and making his own creations. I just let him do his own thing, nothing being right or wrong. I wasn’t sure how long he would spend on making these, but he took his time. He thought carefully about each card and who they were going to. He definitely has my genes, it’s kinda scary! Before nap time we ended up spending a good 2 hours on them.

I found these cute little “give thanks” printables over at Sweet Craft Cakes. They have some other cute little cards to match. And I think I got the round printables from Tip Junkie, but I’m not positive.

Here they are, aren’t they GREAT? I’m one proud momma!

Once nap time was over and all the glue was dried we used the little owl printables and wrote on the back of the cards telling each person why we were thankful for them. This was my favorite part! I loved hearing my son tell me why he was thankful for each person. He made one for each of his aunts and uncles, one to a neighbor of ours. Another one to a special aunt that always gives him candy and the last one is to a “friend of his” that is still a mystery to me.

And here is the card he made for Mommy and Daddy!
While he was making his cards, I made a couple of picture books for one of my aunts and for one of my husbands aunts. They deserved an extra little thanks for some special gifts they are always sending the kids. They are nothing fancy and were so simple to make. I just made them from scrap booking paper and used some baggies to put the pictures in. I punched some holes on the sides to keep all the pages in place, and of course added a little ribbon.

I also tried my first pie in a canning jar! Yup, simply FAB-U-LOUS! I can definitely add these to my list of canning jar can do’s!

So what are you doing to give thanks? Please do share, I love hearing what others are doing!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Pecan Topping

Now that gardening season has arrived, so hasn’t the time to fill up our freezer with all our extra goodies from the garden. First up rhubarb.
It is not my favorite thing, but nonetheless its growing and I’m determined not to waste anything (or hardly anything) this year. That is a small feat with a garden the size of ours!
Whenever possible I use my canning jars to cook in. Its a great way to store them and even greater way for my husband to pack them into his lunch, just grab and go!

So here is what the recipe calls for:

(Recipe taken from The Gardeners’ Community Cookbook by Smith & Hawken)
Pecan Topping (recipe follows)
4 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2″ pieces
4 cups strawberries, hulled, and halved
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1. Prepare the topping.

2. Preheat oven to 400′ F.
3. Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and orange juice in large bowl. Transfer to ungreased 13 by 9-inch baking dish (or into canning jars) and dot the topping over the fruit mixture.

Pecan Topping:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

*If baking in canning jars, fill jars leaving 1 inch from rim. Cook at the same temp but for less time. I usually can tell the crisp is done when the liquid has started to get thicker, the crisp has lessened by half, and the top is
golden brown. *

Cool slightly and serve. If you baked in canning jars make sure you let the crisp cool completely before placing into freezer.

It is actually delicious! Of all the rhubarb recipes I have tried, this is by far my favorite.

Here are a few extra ones to be given away as gifts. I just placed a piece of fabric on top of the lid and then screwed the ring on. A quick and easy way to dress up your goodies.

Want to share your garden recipes with me. Just send me the link to your blog.