Jun 29, 2011

{Ball Jars...The Best!}

Being born and raised in Muncie, IN, which is a small, hardworking, Midwestern town, you learn to appreciate Ball jars.  I wouldn't consider using anything else other than Ball jars for my canning.  Muncie, was at one time the headquarters for Ball Corporation.  There were five Ball brothers, four of which founded and worked for the company in Muncie, IN, the other was a private physician, but still worked for the company in some capacity.  Ball Corporation was started with a $200 loan from one of their uncles.  There were two Ball sisters, but you don't hear too much about them. 

So why Muncie, IN?  Muncie was an attractive site because they needed natural gas in the production of the glass, and therefore they moved the company in the late 1800's. 
In my opinion, Ball State University is really the heart of Muncie.  A lot of my friends' parents were employed at Ball State, my mom included.  Not to mention, football games, the "village", and homecoming gave us stuff to do.  And everyone I knew was born in Ball Hospital, including yours truly!

Ball Corporation officially moved their headquarters to Broomfield, CO in the late 1990's.  My uncle has spent his entire career working for Ball Corp, starting in Muncie, and then moving to Colorado.  My grandpa tells me that Ball Corp is now one of the largest manufacturers of cans in the world (next to Coca Cola)...pretty impressive.  My uncle still works for Ball Corp today!

I was surprised to find out that if you have questions about an old Ball jar that you have found, and want to know what it is worth, you still direct questions to Muncie!  You would contact the Minnetrista Cultural Center at 1200 North Minnetrista Pkwy., Muncie, IN 47303.  A fun fact that I found through researching the Ball Family, was that Minnetrista was given its name by the two Ball sisters.  Minnetrista literally comes from the Indian word minne for “water” and the old English word tryst for “agreed meeting place.”  One of the Ball brothers built his house on the site that is now the Minnestrista Cultural Center (the original house was torn down).

Recently, Justin and I took a trip to Northern IN to visit his family.  Out in the country we came across a tin shed filled with antiques.  Most of the merchandise was glass, china, or old cigar boxes.  I of course stopped at the collection of Ball jars.  I love the blue Ball jars, but rarely can find them...although Ebay, Etsy, and other online merchandising sites have a lot of listings.  I like to see mine in person before I purchase.  I purchased two for $2, including the old zinc lids.  I love the bubbles and little imperfections you find in the glass.

My plan is to display Ball jars on my new console in the kitchen nook.  But I also plan on using one vintage Ball jar to make a soap dispenser.

Here's how to do it...

You will need: one vintage ball jar with a 1 piece zinc lid, an old plastic hand soap pump, a drill with a hole bit, scissors or Exacto knife

Before you begin...empty the soap bottle you will be using.  I just invert the bottle into the jar, and it is usually totally empty when I've drilled the hole in the lid. 

1.  Cut a hole in the center of the zinc lid.  Make sure it is big enough to fit the size of the pump insides.

2.  Next, cut off the top of the screw piece on the top of the old plastic hand soap pump.  Careful...you don't want to cut yourself!

3.  Fit the screw neck into the hole of the zinc lid.
4.  Thread the pump part into the screw neck.  Twist to tighten!
5.  Fill the jar with your favorite hand soap.  I am a big fan of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Baby.  It has a fresh scent that my whole family loves.

6.  Screw the lid, and all of its parts back on the jar!

It's so simple.  Plus, I think it's so sweet and charming next to my sink.  It's a little ode to my roots...and I love it!

Other uses for ball jars (some are more obvious uses than others)...

 Gorgeous, right?  What a great table setting for a dinner party or a wedding.

 Lovely...just lovely.
 Beautiful.  My cousin's table settings at his wedding were Ball jars filled with wild flowers.

What will you use your Ball jars for?

{Osnaburg fabric...the poor man's linen}

My new obsession...Osnaburg fabric.  I've dubbed it the "poor man's linen." 

It's lovely, isn't it?  With it's nubby, imperfect, rough goodness. I want to use it for everything now and at $3.99/yard, I can, because it's so affordable!  I got a few yards at Michael's and I have a few projects in mind.

I made this "Osnaburg" linen pin board for my mom.  I plan on making another one for our kitchen, but I just haven't found the time, yet.

I used it to make euro shams for our guest bedroom.  I just sewed the sides together to make the pillow, and then made cute little ties out of some extra lengths of fabric to tie them closed.

Next, I think I am going to make pillows with it for our family room.  I love the idea of using the neutral fabric as a backdrop to other colorful pillows that can be easily changed to suit my mood.   And according to Justin, my mood changes often, so I may be switching pillows out a lot.

Jun 23, 2011

{Making Pillows}

I've been busy lately with swimming and soccer lessons, a trip to Memphis to see The New Kids on the Block and Back Street Boys (which was fantastic by the way, and I'm not even a huge fan, but just being with girlfriends was good enough) and Graceland, and visiting with family and friends during our summer vacation.  I feel like I have been working on this post for such a long time, but really it's just that I haven't had time to actually post it!

One thing I love...pillows!  But honestly, I hate the price.  I was flipping through a shelter catalog the other day, dreaming, and admiring all their pillow covers, but totally blown away by the price.  $29, $39, and even $99 for JUST THE COVER!  Crazy, right? I just cannot pay that kind of money for a pillow, that quite honestly, I will probably get sick of it within the year.  Not to mention the pillow inserts are anywhere from $10 (for a super small one) to $99. 

The solution is NAPKINS!  Yes, wonderful, 100% cotton napkins that you can pretty much find anywhere.  I recently picked some up from World Market and Pottery Barn's sale section for about $3 each.  I also just recently came across some napkins (as set of 8) at HomeGoods for about $10.  That's 4 pillow covers for $10!   And the result is fantastic...

Here are some napkins I picked up from World Market for $3 each...

And here is how to make a napkin pillow cover...
What you will need: 2 cloth napkins, scissors, pins, hem tape or a sewing machine

1. Cut one napkin in half.

2. Lay the napkins on each other, with outsides or patterned side (the purty side) towards the inside.  Place the sewn edges of the cut napkin to the inside and overlap (cut sides go out towards the seam, they will be sewn in place and never seen)...this will not be sewn and will be the envelop for your pillow insert.

3.  Sew all the way around the pillow.

4.  Turn right-side-out...and admire your new pillow cover.

If you don't like to sew...just follow the same instructions as above, but instead of sewing around the edges, use iron on hem tape (that you can find at Michael's, Hobby Lobby, WalMart, or JoAnn's).  Just follow the instructions of the brand you choose and iron away!

Pillow inserts can be found at JoAnn's (or any craft store).  I have found the best feather down inserts from IKEA, for about $7 each.  The regular polyester filled pillow inserts at Ikea are $3.99.  That is SO cheap!  Or you could just cover the pillows you already have.

FJÄDRAR Inner cushion $6.99
I hope you enjoy making pillows!  This makes it so easy, and affordable to change out pillows for the seasons, for the holidays, or for any reason you just want a change.  I love that I do not have to a whip stitch to close them, because of the envelope closure.  I also love the fact that I can take them off easily for laundering.  Plus, since the napkin edge is already hemmed, it's so easy and quick to put them together!

Here are a couple more I just sewed in a matter of minutes...

I think they are fantastic!  Try them, I think you will love the results.  Check out Censational Girl's post on the no sew version.  She's awesome, isn't she?

{And the WINNER is...}

Sally!  You have won a set of FIVE chalkboard and burlap tags.  Congratulations!

They will be sent on Friday, June 24, 2011!

Thank you to all who posted a comment.  Your kind words were so nice, thank you!

How did I pick, you ask?  I put each of your names on a piece of paper and had "The Kid" pick one piece of paper from the bowl.  First thing he said to me was, "What do you have in there, Mommy?"  I know it isn't very technologically advanced, but please know that it was legit!

Jun 18, 2011

{Burlap Chalkboard Tags and a Give Away!}

Some of my favorite things; burlap and chalkboard. Now, I have them all together in one thing...a tag to label all of my junk that is in my new Ikea baskets I recently painted for our kitchen (read about that in this post).

I thought the tags turned out pretty well, and I thought I would post on how I made them if you wanted to try it yourself. 

In celebration of this blog, I also thought I would do my first little "give away"!  Read below for the details!

What you will need to make these super cute tags:
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Jute string
  • A piece of balsa wood (I got mine from the craft wood section at Hobby Lobby)
  • Burlap
  • Fray Check
  • Hot glue
  • Scissors

Mark the balsa wood.  I marked at 2 1/2 inches, but your markings will depend on what size you want your tags.

Spray the balsa squares with spray chalkboard paint.

While you wait for the spray paint to dry, cut the burlap.  I just cut mine about 3 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches tall.  Again, I just went for about a 1 inch overhang, so you sizing will depend on your wood sizes.

 Use "fray check" to make sure the burlap doesn't fall apart.

Once the spray paint dries, use hot glue to attach the burlap to the back of the little chalkboards.  On the back of the burlap, use a blob of glue to attach the jute string as a tie.  Instead of the jute string, any ribbon color or design would be a super cute alternative.

Tie them to a basket!

And now for what you all have been waiting for... 

{A Charming Nest} Give Away!

In celebration of {A Charming Nest} blog and the idea of possibly starting an Etsy store (if I can find the time), I will be giving away one set of FIVE chalkboard tags to ONE {Charming Reader}!  All you have to do is leave a comment to this post by Thursday, June 23, 2011 at Midnight, 12 am, Eastern Time.  We will then pick the winner randomly and announce the winner on Friday!  We will ship your tags to you!

Here's what you could win...
I could see them as a great addition to any kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room.  Good Luck!

***Posting a comment...Do not leave your address in the comment.  I will publish your name to {A Charming Nest} blog on Friday, June 24, 2011.  If you are the winner, you will need to email acharmingnest@gmail.com your address.  We will communicate privately through email about how you would like me to send the tags to you.  Just make sure you include your name in your comment so I know who the winner is when I choose randomly! 

Jun 15, 2011

{Berry Picking and Jam Making}

What are summers made for, you ask?  My answer would be: sunshine, swimming, friends and family, berry picking and jam making. 

My grandma Joan always had homemade jam from the berries that she grew in her garden.  I remember her picking red raspberries from the bushes and then turning them into jam in the summers when I was a kid. 

We always had homemade yeast rolls (which I still do not know how to make), real butter, and her homemade raspberry jam at Thanksgiving.  It was the best. 

Recently, my mother taught me the secret to making her jam.  Up until now, I made cooked jam using the Sure-Gel recipe in the box of pectin.  It was good, but I was always worried about the sterilizing and sealing of the jars, and then I would stress about if the jam was setting correctly.  Just last week, I had a failed batch of cooked jam because it didn't set (but I fixed it, which I explain at the end of this post). 

Now, I make freezer jam...and it is so easy, takes no cooking, and the jam has a fresh berry taste.  It's what my grandma used to do, and if it was good enough for her, then it's good enough for me!

First, I pick my berries at Spencer's Berry Farm in Noblesville, IN.  It's an awesome U-Pick farm that has berries and other goodies all summer long.  I want to start my own berry patch here at the house, but our "to-do" list is quite long, and a berry patch isn't a priority right now.

Wash and de-stem your berries.  I usually fill a bowl with cool water and soak them.  This method seems to really get the berries nice and clean.

I do sterilize my jars, even though with freezer jam it isn't totally necessary.  I just boil my glass jars and let them air dry on a towel.  I have also used the plastic freezer jam jars that Ball has in the canning section of the grocery.  They are nice, easy to use, and stackable in your freezer.

Once the berries are clean, I crush them with a potato masher.  I like my jam kind of chunky, so I don't mash too much.  Once the berries are smashed, I follow this recipe (which comes right from the jar of the instant pectin):
  1. Mix together 2 tablespoons of Ball Instant Pectin and 2/3 cups of granulated sugar or Splenda (this makes a dry mixture) in a bowl.
  2. Add  1 2/3 cups of crushed berries to the dry pectin and sugar mixture.
  3. Stir for 3 minutes
  4. Ladle into jars.
  5. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  6. Enjoy right away or freeze for later.
Freezer jam will last for about a year in your freezer, if it's not eaten first!

Photo shoot crasher...

"More toast and jam, please!"  The jam doesn't last long in our house!

*Tip:  You MUST use the instant pectin for this no cook method, not the classic (which requires cooking).*

How I fixed my cooked jam:
  1. Mixed 1/4 cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of instant pectin. 
  2. Pour the contents of 3 jars of jam into a clean bowl. 
  3. Slowly add the sugar and pectin mixture. 
  4. Stir for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Ladle into jars, and place in freezer.  This jam is no longer pantry shelf stable, and it will need to be frozen due to the compromised seals.