I really enjoy being able to put together simple, frugal projects that can be both decorative and functional in my kitchen. The key requirements are that they be quick and inexpensive to complete. I’ve had all kinds of big dreams for my kitchen, since we moved here a couple of years ago — painted walls and cupboards, new light fixtures and new cabinet hardware. Timing and finances have always seemed to be out of sync for those large projects, and as it turns out, we will be moving again sometime this spring or summer. So, when I received the opportunity to preview Ball’s 100th Anniversary Spring Green Heritage Collection Canning Jars, I was excited. We all know that canning jars are superbly suited for canning your fresh, frugal, foodie deliciousness for your family, but their usefulness is not limited to preserving garden produce. The ideas for budget-friendly, functional and decorative ways to spruce up a kitchen with canning jars began to swirl in my already packed too tight brain, as I anticipated the arrival of my jar shipment. I have three to share with you, today, and I hope you’ll find them useful. Enjoy!
Project 1: Decorated Canning Jars for Storage or Gifts
Countertops, cupboards and pantries always seem to accumulate so much clutter and disorder. Plastic bags are convenient ways to ship products to stores, but not so convenient when we’re storing them at home. Whether it’s dry beans, pasta, rice or spices, quinoa, grains or flour, seasoning mixes, potato chips or crackers, there always seem to be partially used bags of grocery items lying half-open or spilled on my shelves. I’m sold on this first project for marrying the purposes of storage and decoration, or at the very least being able to store troublesome kitchen staples in a neat and organized way. This same technique can be used for presenting housewarming, shower, birthday or holiday gifts, as well. The possibilities are pretty much limitless, just by changing what you put in the jars.
I like glass jars for this solution for several reasons:
- They look nice.
- Many of them can be stored neatly in a small space.
- I can see the contents.
- They keep food sealed well, which prevents spoilage and waste.
- I can see at a glance what staples need to be added to my grocery list.
- They are reusable and safe. I have no worries about chemicals leaching from the container to the food.
- They are easy to dress up if I want them to be left on the counter or to be able to give as a gift.
The steps to making these handy containers are as simple as decorating the lid, labeling the jar and adding a bow. For the lid, I place the flat lid insert onto a piece of fabric and trace around it with a pencil. Then I cut out the fabric circle and using plain ol’ white glue, glue it to the top of the flat lid insert. You can match all the fabric circles or cut them from coordinating fabrics depending on the décor you will be placing the jars into. Once the glue has dried, insert it into the ring and screw it onto the jar, as usual.
While the glue dries on your lid inserts, you can begin labeling your jars. You can purchase all sorts of labels and vinyl lettering that would be awesome; and for gifts, that might be the way you want to go. Remember, though, that I’m aiming for budget-friendly. The best option I have found for permanently “writing” on glass is any color of Elmer’s Painter’s Markers and since I already had some in the house, that’s the route I chose. You will need to decide the size and style of lettering for your jar. You could even use a stencil if you had one handy. If you were REALLY professional and perfect about it, you could use some sort of washable marker to create level lines to work on. Or if you’re like me, you can just eye-ball it and keep your fingers crossed. 🙂 Seriously, it was pretty easy to write a single word on the outside of each jar.
All that’s left at that point is to fill the jars and screw on the lids. Then I used twine to tie a bow around the neck of the jar. I wanted the extra decorative touch, but I didn’t want it getting in the way when I was opening the lid. Tying it snugly around the indented neck of the jar worked perfectly. You could use any sort of yarn or ribbon or leave it off altogether. Let your imagination go and create something truly personal.
Project 2: Grow Herbs in Canning Jars
This simple project makes a great housewarming or hostess gift and it’s so much less expensive to grow your favorite fresh herbs on your kitchen windowsill, than it is to buy them in the produce department. They won’t sit and spoil in the fridge if you don’t get to use them right away. You’ll know your fresh herbs haven’t been treated with any chemicals. Plus, your plants will continue to produce new leaves as you harvest the oldest ones AND, best of all, your recipes will taste fresh and amazing! What’s not to love? 🙂
You’ll need some smooth stones (Real or glass work equally well.) I used glass stones since I had some in the house and I like the look of them in the bottom of the jar. The stones are to provide good drainage and prevent plant roots from becoming to saturated. Then cover the stones with potting soil. Fill the canning jar with soil, leaving just enough room to get the roots of your plant into the jar and covered with dirt. Transplant your herbs and press soil in firmly around all sides to finish filling the jar within 1/2 inch of the top. Water the plant and if the soil settles, add a little more, again, until you are within about 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Set your plant in the kitchen window and always have fresh, flavorful and aromatic herbs at your fingertips.
Project 3: Canning Jar Luminary
To create this simple DIY, fill the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the canning jar with rice, sand, lentils, quinoa, wheat berries, etc. — something small, that is easy to “level” by gently shaking the jar. I used rice. Insert a votive (or other small) candle into the jar, pressing it about 1/2 inch into your leveling material, to hold it solid. When it comes to decorating, you can draw designs or print words on the jar with Painters markers or simply add a bow. I even thought it might be cool to use vinyl stencils – stick them to the jar, then using glass etching gel or clear, frosted glass paint, fill the blank spaces. Then peel off the vinyl stickers and have an “etched” glass candle holder. Cool! Get creative and create warm, welcoming and homey lighting for your home or to use as gifts. It’s really easy!
I can’t wait to hear the great ideas you have for organizing, decorating and gifting with canning jars. Will you fill them with your favorite homemade hot chocolate mix? your secret recipe steak rub? or start your own indoor herb garden? Maybe you can decorate the tops for Valentines Day and fill with candy or school supplies for a favorite teacher. The ideas are only as limited as your imagination, so crank yours into high gear and use your great idea to enter the giveaway, below. One lucky Busy-at-Home reader will win a case of Ball’s Vintage Green Quart-Sized Canning Jars and a set of Ball’s new Designer Series Green Lids and Bands.
Giveaway: Leave a comment on this post telling me your idea for organizing, decorating or gifting with canning jars. Then register your comment in the Rafflecopter form.