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The DIY Life: an upcycle for canning rings

4 Jan

So, ya. Canning rings, or bands. Whatever you call them, I have a plethora of them. I have dented ones that get beat up from use. Rusty ones from old canning jars that people gifted me. Gold ones. Silver ones. Tarnished ones.  A LOT! When a canning ring gets rusty, or dented, you are supposed to stop using it for actual canning since it can cause issue with your jars sealing properly. Instead of tossing them, I string them onto a piece of ribbon and keep them separate from my good canning rings. The beat rings are the ones I use when I need to secure the lid on an open jar (I don’t give a rats ass if it’s dented for in fridge food storage!). I’ll use some of the rusty and tarnished ones as a craft jar option. But I STILL have a shit ton of these things. So, I decided to get crafty with them. But it had to be an easy craft. Otherwise I get bored and abandon the craft. With the front porch bench bare now that the holidays are over, I needed something to put on it. And my mason jar holding the lone candle just seemed, well, sad. All alone on that big old bench. It needed a buddy. Someone to snuggle up with.

This craft is so stinking simple it’s ridiculous. You could do this blindfolded, with one hand behind your back and it would still rock.

The “directions” are as follows: I strung together the rusted, dented, beat up canning lids onto a piece of ribbon. When putting them onto the ribbon, I made sure they were all facing the same direction. Once they were all on the ribbon, I pulled the ribbon tight- SUPER tight, double knotted it and cut off the excess. Once the excess ribbon was gone, I fixed up the canning rings making them all nice and orderly. Then I jammed my mason jar “candle holder” into the center and stuck it on the bench. TA-DA! When I told you I generally stick to easy crafts, I wasn’t lying to you. The only way a craft can get any easier is to not actually craft anything. Really.


I was tempted to put it on my kitchen table, but it looked out of place so I stuck with my original plan as an outdoor decoration. I think it looks lovely. And I am digging that rusty patina from the old rings. If you do this with new canning rings, it will still look nice. Want that weathered look? Hang the rings somewhere outside where they will be subjected to the elements. It will give them a nice weathered patina.

The DIY Life: Deco Mesh Tomato Cage Christmas Tree

3 Dec

Ever since we went from having a few tomato plants in pots to a full-scale garden, I’ve had some tomato cages laying around the yard – for years – doing nothing but letting the grass and weeds grow around them. I’ve been seeing Deco Mesh taking over all of the craft stores – everywhere you look there is SOMETHING made out of them – wreaths, flowers, snow men, ginormous bows, trees. I saw some Christmas Tree versions floating around both Pinterest and the craft stores, so I decided I’d re-purpose one tomato cage into a Christmas tree as a sort of test run. Since I am cheap and generally lazy when it comes to craft projects ( I tend to lose interest pretty fast, so it needs to be a completed project pretty quick), I wasn’t interested in doing any of the versions where you used multiple rolls of deco mesh ($7 for 1 was about all I was willing to spend!) and were twisting and tying for HOURS. So I purchased some floral wire, 1 roll of sparkly green deco mesh, a tin star and a small container of ornaments. Surprisingly, it’s a pretty simple project and doesn’t really require any particular set of skills – unless you consider using wire cutters a skill – and some time. I’d recommend wearing gloves because I tore the hell outta my hands from the floral wire ends. I used green stranded white lights for mine because I wanted the sparkle of the lights to shine through without the wires really showing. I like the end result of it so much I’ll make another one with the remaining tomato cage! Who knows where I’m going to put it, but at least it’ll be made and can be gift ready should I need it to be!

So, here is what you will need for the basics:

Tomato cage – whatever size you like

1 100 light strand

floral wire

1 roll deco mesh – 27 x 10 yards

wire cutters

tree topper – optional

small ornaments – optional

Start out by tying up the top (which is really the bottom) ends of the tomato cage making it look like a tepee. This will keep everything nice and together. For your lights – start by taking the outlet end of the lights (not the part you’ll plug into the wall!) and let it dangle into the interior of the tomato cage so it’s hidden. I secured all of my lights INSIDE the tomato cage, zigzagging back and forth and randomly securing them to the tomato cage with small pieces of floral wire. Once you have that all done, plug the light strand in so you can make sure the bulbs still all work and you didn’t knock any loose while securing them. (Believe me, it’s a bitch messing with them once that cage is covered in mesh!)

Now it’s time to secure the deco mesh. I started by making a little puff of it that I draped over the tepee top of the tree cage and then wrapped the floral wire AROUND the mesh, securing it to the cage in two places. Since the wire is visible with this method, you’ll want to be sure to drape the mesh in such a way that it covers the exposed wire.

For me it was easiest to get the mesh wrapped around the tree to the base and then go back in and secure it with wire once I had the look I was going for. While I was wrapping the mesh, I did little twists to give it some texture and depth. I had a little bit of extra mesh so I took and looped it around the base and made a sort of knot with it, stuffing any extra fabric up into the tree.

If you don’t want to add ornaments or a topper, stop here. You are done! If you do want to, secure them THROUGH the mesh to the cage to hide the wire. I basically threaded the wire through the holes in the mesh pattern and it kept all the wire hidden.

These look great inside, but are also safe to use outdoors. Since they are so light, you’ll want to anchor them so they don’t blow away.

The DIY Life: Mason Jar Storage and Organization

29 Aug

If you’ve been reading this blog since it started or just browsed it for the last 5 minutes, or know me personally,  it’s pretty easy to see that I have an obsession with all things mason jars. I just can’t help myself! BUT it’s not like I need an intervention or will show up on an episode of hoarders any time in the near future. I hope not anyway. There is no other item that you can have in your home that has SO MANY USES! I use mine for the obvious reason they were created – for food preservation. But I use them for a multitude of other things. The older jars I use for things like foaming hand soap dispensers or homemade sugar scrub storage. The antique blue ones are used for storing sugar, splenda and ground coffee beside the coffee maker. I also use them on my shelving rack to store pasta, beans, and corn for popping. A big jar holds baking mix. Inside my cabinets, they hold all of my baking items: sugars, flours, grains, chocolate chips, nuts, baking soda, homemade vanilla extract, rice and other grains, homemade taco seasoning, dehydrated herbs. They are our drinking glasses for everything from beer to wine. Small portions of leftovers get nestled into them so they can easily be reheated for lunches the next day. Our freezer contains (freezer safe)  jars full of yumminess like pesto , squash spread, and creamy limoncello/tangicello. I have a light fixture by the sink that has old mason jars with stars on them as the glass over the bulbs.

I did this consolidation a couple of years ago because I was tired of all the boxes, bags and various containers holding all of our foodstuffs – raw material and ready to eat. I was so over going to grab the box of rice or pasta for a meal only to find there wasn’t enough. With the limited cupboard space we currently have, it was well overdue to start getting down to organizing everything. And not just the boxes. Because let’s face it – those box/bottle/bag laden shelves only stayed nice and organized for roughly 1 week after all that work. Being in a hurry to get dinner on the table meant things just got shoved back in where they fit. The canning jars saved the day! I’m not stuck on using only canning jars. The clear glass jars from Target are large enough to hold a 5lb bag of flour or sugar. Bigger barrel jars from the discount stores hold bulk egg noodles. A large apothecary jar holds homemade oatmeal.

The beauty of this type of organization is that it’s very easy to see how much of an item you have. There’s no guesswork if you have enough rice on hand for dinner that night. You’ll know if you need more flour for weekend bread baking just by looking into the cabinet. Because the jars are uniformly sized, there will always be a niche in your cabinet to put the jar you were using back where you found it, making it easier to keep your pantry organized.

I have a label on top of each lid that tells me what the jar contains. I will cut the directions off of the bag or box for items I’m not confident I’ll remember how to make and stick them inside the jar. Jars that contain items I don’t use weekly will have an additional label with the expiration date or I’ll cut that off the box/bag and tape it to the interior lid.

Always remember to use the items up before refilling – oldest out first. What I sometimes do is transfer the older contents to a smaller jar and put it on top of the bigger jar so I know to use up the small jar first and can get rid of those bags and boxes before they have chance to clutter up anything. This system has worked out so wonderfully for me. Christmas baking has become so much more efficient with everything so easily seen. People ask me how I don’t freak out about the jars sitting out because they are so easily seen and can get dusty. It’s simple – when I go to use the contents of that jar, I wipe it down with a wet dishcloth. The jars that sit out are the ones that I use pretty regularly so the odds of them getting visibly dusty are slim. They become part of the kitchen decor, but they serve a purpose.

How do you use mason jars in your home?

The DIY Life: Invitation Ornaments

11 May

It’s that time of year again – Wedding Season! And what do we get when wedding season begins? Invitations to the weddings! What do we generally do with them? We throw them away!

Now that we all know what time of year it is again and what we do with invitations, onto a way to repurpose those invitations into a gift your friends and loved ones can cherish forever!

Invitation Ornaments – Most craft stores sell clear glass ornaments. The kind you can paint, fill with glitter, whatever your heart desires. My desire was to fill them with curls of the wedding and shower invitation for one of my good friends as a gift for her wedding. To me, a handmade gift is a wonderful thing. I love getting homemade gifts. It means someone not only thought of me but took the time to create something for me. It’s a wonderful reminder that people care about you.

The ornaments I bought are little glass squares and totally adorable. Since the opening in the top of the ornaments was small, I cut my invitations into thin strips so they could easily fit.

I then wrapped the strips around a pen so they would curl, and curled them through the opening at the top of the ornaments. Reassembled them, put them back in their snug little box, and my gift is ready for wrapping!

The process is simple, quick, and the cost is rather inexpensive. It’s a great way to give a gift that can be cherished for years to come. I recently found a copy of my wedding invitation, so I’m going to make a set of these for my Christmas tree!

Some tips – when cutting the invite, try to keep the words from the invitation visible. It’s awesome to look into the glass and see a name, date, or place.

Buy the clear glass ornaments. Frosted ornaments won’t let you really see the invitation curls.

The DIY Life: Burlap Candle Wreath

16 Jan

I am a country girl at heart. I  may not live in the actual country, not enough into the country anyways because I can still see other houses, cars, and people from my windows, but I love all things country. I love that cozy home decor style. I want people to feel comfortable when they come to my house. Relaxed. At ease. Not like a guest, but like they belong here while they are here. And I think they do. At least people say all the time how cozy our house is.

Now, with all those warm fuzzy words, burlap does not itself emit warm and fuzzy feelings. Not by itself of course. BUT, turn it into a candle wreath, light the candle, viola!!! Warm and fuzzy. I found this wreath through pinterest, and I had pinned it planning to get to it eventually, and originally it was meant for a door wreath. But my friend Kelly utilized it as a centerpiece on her holiday table with a hurricane and candle. And I was once again inspired to make it. I plan on making another one as an actual door wreath, and instead of pinning burlap all around it, i’ll wrap the foam wreath ring in fabric and then pin the burlap loops to the front so it lays nicely on the door (our door is a big window that we would be able to see the back of the wreath, and green foam is not so nice to look at!).

This project is simple, requires zero sowing, but patience and some time. And LOTS of pins. Make sure you purchase the extra long silver pins. Otherwise you’ll go through even more pins attempting to keep the burlap squares in place. In the tutorial links below, they used the pins with the colored heads, I avoided this because there are sections where the pin is not totally hidden and I didn’t want any random color tops popping out.

You will need one yard of burlap cut into 4×4 inch squares – don’t worry about it being a perfect square. burlap is a pain to cut, so you’re going to have some oddball pieces. it works.

pack of extra long silver pins

foam floral wreath, in whatever size you require. I used a 12 inch wreath to fit my needs.

Here is my candle wreath:

And here are links to a couple of the tutorials. I wasn’t that worried about making it look neat and organized like the first tutorial. I like that mine is a little rough and loopy as the second link is. Just like me!

And here is the latest update: I made the actual door wreath – still using the same materials called out for the original burlap candle wreath, but I wrapped the foam ring in 3 strips of burlap so when looking out our door the back looked as pretty as the front. I used 1 1/2 yards of a flowy material to hang the wreath, leaving the edges of the material raw and frayed to go with the rustic look of the burlap. I just tied it into a pretty bow and twisted the loose ends of the fabric to make it look nice. I love the result!