Mason Jars By The Hundreds!

Friday, February 26, 2016

My daughter and I have started the preliminary plans for our 2016 flower farm.  We've purchased our seeds and began working out the details of another summer and what we want to change and improve.  Very soon it will be time to work the soil and get our seeds planted.

In the mean time, there is something that really bothered me the last two summers.  You remember that our bouquets are all arranged and sold in quart size Mason Jars?  The hope is that our customers will return their jars when they come to pick up their next bouquets. And a lot of them do.  So, it is a continual job to wash and store jars for each day.  We are also purchasing jars and accepting donated jars.  Can I just say that it amounts to a lot of jars?  

They end up being stored in my stair closet in bins and boxes.  I am stepping over them, around them, and on them all summer long.   They must be stored inside to keep them clean and also we fill them with fresh, cold water each morning.  So it would not work to store them anywhere but in one of our houses.  

I started brainstorming ideas and looking at book shelves and other shelving systems that I could purchase but nothing was exactly what I wanted.  I decided to draw up my own design and build a jar storage system myself.  

It just so happened that my husband was out of town, so I was really excited to build something!  

I found some plans online for a large storage system and I printed those up and made some modifications to fit what I had in mind.  

I figured up my lumber and I purchased what I needed and got started.   

I think building something is kind of like sewing... measure twice and cut once!  (Or in my case, measure like 4 times!)  

After helping Eldon build our house, I got quite a bit of experience using the saw and the hand tools.  So I actually feel fairly comfortable with it.   I cut all my wood pieces first.

Then I began the assembly.  Because I'm not very good at countersinking my screws, I decided to pre-drill all my holes.  It took longer, but in the long run it made it much easier.  

I built the shelf ends first - they are sort of like ladders that the slats will attach to.  I did not want my shelf to be deep, as I don't have a long of space in my stair closet, so I designed it to only hold 2 jars deep.  I adjusted it until I got it exactly the measurement I wanted.  Then I cut the 2x4's to be the exact measurement and attached them to the outer posts.  

Then I attached all the 1x4 inch slats.  The slats were all 64 inches long -  exactly the length for each shelf to  hold 36 jars.  

After I completed this and set two jars on the shelf to check my depth measurement I realized that just a simple bump in the closet would cause the jars to fall off.  So I made another modification and added a little "lip" to the front and back of each shelf with a 1x2 board.  It worked perfect.

I painted the whole thing my very favorite Annie Sloan Emperors Silk Red and carted it into the house.  

Then I put on a coat of dark wax to antique it a bit and put it in the stair closet.  I used 2 inch screws and drilled them through the back of the shelf into the studs in the closet wall so that there is no chance of pulling the whole thing over!  And then the fun of unloading 144 jars and filling it up!

You cannot imagine how happy I am with it.  It fits snug against the closet wall and since it is only 9 inches deep, it hardly takes up any usable space.  

And I love opening the closet door to all these beautiful Mason Jars!

You can see how the lip is just tall enough to hold them snug.  

My plan for the top shelf is to use that for storing all of our other flower garden and bouquet supplies.  I plan to print and punch out all of our craft labels that we use on the bouquets so that we don't have to do that at all this summer.  We will also purchase the rolls of twine ahead of time.  Those things will all be stored handily there.  There is also room on the top shelf for any boxes of jars that we have to purchase.  

No more stepping on and over jars that took up all the floor space in my closet and drove me crazy!  I'm super happy with how my shelving system came out.  And even though there are all kinds of imperfections... it is okay because I made it and I love it!  

And did I mention it holds 144 jars?  

Secret Swap Part Two!

Friday, February 12, 2016

When I wrote Part One to this Secret Swap story I promised to come back and tell you what I received from my Secret Partner!  I'm so excited to share it with you.

So, one of the questions in the questionnaire that each of us filled out was this:  "What is your favorite style of fabric"?  Mine is, hands down, the 1930's fabric.  Be it original vintage or reproduction.  Some of the reproductions today are so incredible.  I love them all.  Every single color and pattern!

My swap partner hit the nail right on the head with the fabric.  I don't think there is anything that she could've made with these fabrics that wouldn't have just thrilled me.

But... what she did make blew me absolutely away.  

My secret swap partner made me a ROUND table runner!  

Those of you that read my blog know that I have an old round table in my dining room that has given me a lot of grief about what I want to put on it.  I made a farmhouse tablecloth that serves a great purpose and I really love it.  But honestly... it just doesn't light up my day when I look at it.  (You can read that post here.)

When I opened the package from my swap partner I knew immediately what it was and honestly it made me cry it is so beautiful. 

 The workmanship is top notch.   I love the simple hand quilting that is done on it.  There is so much decorative hand and machine quilting done these days with colored embroidery thread and don't get me wrong, I love that.  (I do it myself on projects frequently.)  But this simple hand quilting with one strand of white thread is positively reminiscent of the way they quilted when these fabrics were used in the 1930's.  And I love that.

Even the back is beautiful.  And the binding around those curves?  Gorgeous.

It was begging for an old enamelware pot to go with it!  And that is what I did... put a gorgeous plant of pink Hydrangeas in my special antique chamber pot (smile!) and placed it on the runner.  Oh sigh.  It is so gorgeous.

And the best thing?  When I stand upstairs and look down into my kitchen and dining room, I just smile and smile!  

Thank you Maxine.  I will treasure it forever.  

Secret Swap - Part One!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I follow numerous quilters and sewers (or it is seamstresses?) on Instagram and one thing I've been seeing is that between them they do a lot of swapping of gifts.  I am always so envious (yes, envious) of this and have thought how fun it would be to be a part of something like that - exchanging talent.  Since I am on a little private Facebook group of talented lady quilters I decided to put the idea to everyone about doing a secret swap.  There were 9 of us that wanted to participate, so I spent a little time putting together how I thought maybe it should work.

It went something like this.  I emailed each person a little questionnaire to fill out about themselves and their interests in order to help their secret swap partner get to know them a little bit.  Then I put all the names in a bowl and drew for each person.

I then notified everyone of their secret partner with the reminder to keep it a secret!  My instructions were to make a small hand-sewn item, even just using scraps in their stash.  Small being the key word here.  The deadline for completing our gifts was six weeks and I kept in close contact with each person to make sure we were all on track.  Last week we all mailed out our gifts.  This week, everyone received their secret swap gift in the mail and then began the excitement of sharing with each on our group.

So now, I want to share with you what I made for my secret partner.  First of all, this was extremely hard to choose what to make.  I know from the Facebook group that my secret partner makes QUILTS.  Like beautiful quilts.  So I was immediately worried about what I should do.  I very quickly started getting away from the main word in the instructions:  SMALL!  And started thinking about big things.  Luckily I was able to get myself back to the original goal of small!  

After weeks (yes weeks) of thought I finally decided on a Mug Rug.  So I looked at my partner's questionnaire to see what colors and fabrics she loves and has in her house.  I actually sent her an email saying that her secret partner would like to know her living room colors!  Ha Ha!  She quickly responded with the above Pinterest Board of her colors.

I dug through my fabric and finally settled on some that I had purchased recently and forgotten about!  I know the fabric is Moda, but I can't even tell you the name of the collection.  But it had some nice greens and reds in it, so I decided it would work.

Instead of trying to find a pattern for a Mug Rug, I decided to just come up with it as I went along.  I chose to just piece together different size pieces of fabric to form some random rows of different widths, but yet with a little bit of a consistent pattern to it.

My swap partner had stated in her questionnaire that she likes to drink Cocoa so I decided to embroider a little tag, Cocoa Time, to customize the Mug Rug a bit!  For that I just used a scrap piece of linen fabric that I had.

Putting a tag on projects like this hardly takes any time at all and it is amazing what a fun touch it adds.  It's all in the details they say!  Smile!

I quilted it on my machine in very simple straight lines on both sides of the seams in each strip.  It was very quick and easy to do.  

And then of course a pocket!  Every Mug Rug must have a little pocket!  I have some old vintage buttons, so I added  little tag and button to the pocket just to give it some dimension.

And because Milk Chocolate is my swap partners favorite candy, I had to tuck a bar in the pocket!

Of course you can't possibly send a Mug Rug without a mug can you??  A trip to Anthropologie was a must.  I loved the mug I found - it went with the fabric but yet added a little brightness.

And there you have it.  My gift for my swap partner!

Because I thought I should round it out a bit for her living room furniture (ha ha!) I quickly made a set of four coasters out of the same fabric.

And then?  I had everything packaged up and ready to mail, just waiting for the assigned day to mail it and in the night (all my crazy ideas come to me at night) I thought I really should send her a Needle Book.  Because every quilter needs a Needle Book.  (I promise to do a Needle Book tutorial soon!) I completely changed the color combination the Needle Book because this was just a little added bonus and I love these bright happy colors.  (Of course you already knew that about me!)

There will be a Part Two to this post in a couple days because I know  you are just dying to know what my secret swap partner sent me.  Get ready.... it is AMAZING!!!