Craft Projects, Quick and Easy Crafts

Floral Mason Jar Wall Vases

I never really hung up all of our photos and artwork in our bedroom since I painted it, oh, a year or two ago. I love our wedding pictures, but I wanted more color on the walls. And it’s basically taken me forever to do so.

This is what our bedroom looked like in February of 2015.

A Smith of All Trades_Master Bedroom_bed before

We slapped some brighter paint on the walls and got a new bed frame…

A Smith of All Trades_Master Bedroom_final2

Redid the hardwoods and moved around furniture….

Bedroom_final2

And that’s where it’s been since March of this year.

I’ve moved photos around to different walls and our floral painting that used to live in our room now hangs beautifully above our new sideboard.

It was time to make something to fill the empty walls on either side of the window behind our bed. I have wanted to make my own version of these glass bottle wall vases for quite some time, but I didn’t want them white, I didn’t want to use plumbing hardware and I don’t drink Starbucks bottled drinks…. 

So I made up my own. I started with scrap wood that I cut to similar sizes on my mitre saw. I eye-balled the sizes because perfection is overrated.

masonjarflorals_scraps

Once I had the pieces cut, I drilled two different sets of holes in each piece: Two at the top for the hanger and two toward the middle to secure my jars.

masonjarflorals_holes

Then I smoothed each piece down with some sandpaper before throwing a quick coat of stain on them.

masonjarflorals_stain

I let these dry for a hot sec, then started adding hangers to each mason jar floral.

masonjarflorals_twinehanger

Once all six had hangers attached (just some knotted twine), I threaded twine through an upholstery needle and stared attaching the mason jars.

masonjarflorals_twineloops

To do so, I looped the twine through the pre-drilled holes so I ended up with four loops.

masonjarflorals_twinejar

Then I stuck my jelly jar into the loops and started tightening the twine. I am only planning on using these for faux florals, so they don’t have to be able to hold anything heavy. The twine keeps them taught to the wood and they don’t seem to have much risk of coming loose. I’ll let you know if they come crashing out in the middle of the night (that would suck!).

masonjarflorals_twine

Once I got the jar settled, I tightened and knotted the heck out of the twine on the back side.

masonjarflorals_knot

The first one I did wasn’t tight enough, so when it hung I could wobble the jar. I got all of them tight enough so when I wiggle the board, no jars move around. If you have a curved upholstery needle, I think you’d be able to actually do this easier because you could tighten the twine as you loop through the drilled holes. But I wasn’t able to do that with my straight needle.

Once I had all six of these made, I took a bunch of leftover florals and cut them down to make six jar fillers. I made three sets of matching florals for my set of 6 wall vases. I found it was helpful to tie each floral bunch with twine at the base to keep things together since mason jars aren’t really vases.

masonjarflorals_2

Then B and I hung them up on either side of our bed!

masonjarflorals_3

I think they are adorable! Brian had the idea of putting tea lights in them instead, but I don’t think we’d light them often enough to make it worth it. Plus, I like the pop of color.

masonjarflorals_4

Since I had all of these supplies on hand, these didn’t cost me a penny. It took me about 2 hours to make all six, including staining them and making the florals. Not bad!

masonjarflorals_5

Now I just need to find a few more spots in our room to add in some extra color! These little wall vases were a great place to start for sure.

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Canning, Recipes

Shiro Plum Jam – a.k.a. Sour Patch Kids Jam

Have you ever heard of a Shiro Plum? Me either. Not until I stumbled upon them at my local farmers market this weekend. I love buying fruits and veggies to can at the farmers market and went last Sunday morning to pick up peaches for a batch of peach  butter (yum). I noticed these bright yellow plums with an irresistible price tag: $1/pint. I had no idea what they were or what I would make, but I took five pints home with me.

Shiro PlumsEver

After I bought them, I heard the man at the farmstand tell another customer that the Shiro Plums are sour — I was nervous, but excited to try to make something delicious with them.

After finishing up a batch of pasta sauce and a batch of peach butter (yes, I was a canning overachiever last weekend), I started working on the Shiro Plum jam. I looked up recipes online, but most called for way more plums than I’d purchased and vanilla bean. I don’t stock that in my kitchen, so I scrapped those ideas.

Instead, I looked to my trusty canning book, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. If you like canning and you don’t own this book, buy it! No, I do not get money from sharing this book with you — although Ball should pay me to be their spokesperson. I’d rock it.

Anyway, I digress. I found a plum jam recipe and decided to go for it, knowing it wasn’t meant for the Shiro variety. Here is my tweaked version of the Ball plum jam recipe.

  • 5 lbs. of Shiro Plums
  • 50 grams of powdered pectin
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 8 cups of sugar

Five pounds of plums gets you about 5-6 cups of plum pulp. To get the plum pulp, all you need to do is break the skin of the Shiro Plum and squeeze the pulp out. It is super easy, super slimy and super fun. Remove the peels. Remove the pit. No blanching necessary.

When all of your plums are pitted and peeled, I suggest putting your pulp through a food processor. Just pulse it a few times, no need to pulverize it. I suggest doing this because the pulp of the Shiro plum can be a bit stringy — sort of like the stringy pulp of pumpkins.

Then, boil your pulp w/ the half cup of water. When it reaches a boil, turn down the heat and whisk in your pectin. When your pectin has been added back in, add in your 8 cups of sugar. You are probably thinking, “Dear sweet lord, that is diabetes in a pot.” Well, yeah. It is Just don’t eat it all yourself and you’ll be fine. It’s definitely more sugar than a lot of the Ball recipes call for, but I didn’t want to stray especially since the plums are more sour than normal plums.

Cook the jam until it starts to thicken. I learned a trick from my trusty canning book — put a plate in the freezer and let it chill. When you want to test the stage of your jam, place a spoonful on the cold plate, then run your finger through it. If the jam parts like the Red Sea and stays parted — congrats, you are the Moses of jam and it is ready to can! If it closes back up immediately, it need to cook longer before it is ready to set.

Shiro Jam

I canned the jam in 10 8-oz. jars. TEN. That means I paid about $.50 per jar (I’d calculate w/ sugar and pectin added, but I hate math). That’s pretty darn good. Process your jars in your water bath for 10 minutes, then take those bad boys out and they are good to go.

I saved a little of the jam so I could try it without needed to pop open a jar and it is so yummy. SO YUMMY. It tastes like Mother Nature’s version of Sour Patch Kids.

shiro jam2

Ever heard of Shiro Plums? Ever made jam from it? I only saw a recipe or two online using Shiro Plums, so I’m interested to hear if anyone else has discovered these little yellow beauties.

Canning, Garden, Recipes

Mint Jelly

I’ve wanted to make mint jelly for the past few years, but never grew enough mint to make it happen. Mint is basically a tasty weed and takes over a garden, so I’ve never planted mine in the ground. Just in a small pot… and even though I have a green thumb in my garden, I have blacker than black thumb for potted plants.

Lucky me, my neighbor offered me a bunch of hers this past weekend, so I got to try my hand at making some jelly! The recipe I followed was from my Ball recipe book  — I highly recommend their home preserving book. It’s one of my favorites! (I get no money from the sale of this book, in case you care) — and I doubled it to make 9 jars instead of 4 or 5.

The mint jelly recipe was a cool one to try for me because I usually make jam. With jam, you use the whole fruit. With jelly, you are using just the liquid. So I got to use a fancy jelly straining bag for the first time! (nerd alert!)

After boiling the mint leaves in water for a bit, I poured the entire mixture into the jelly bag, which then separated the leaves from the mint water mixture.

mintjelly-straining-web

Once I got the amount I needed, I put it back into the pot and added in the sugar, lemon juice and liquid pectin.

A few things I learned:

1. Mint jelly is only green if you add food coloring. Otherwise, it’s a yellow-y color.

2. Even if you aren’t making a huge batch of jam or jelly, use a big pot! I have a stock pot, but opted for a smaller pot for this batch of jelly. HUGE mistake. The jelly bubbled over at one point and has permanently (or so it seems) stickied my stove. Joy.

3. Follow the recipe, even if your jelly isn’t super jelly-like when it is suggesting you take it off the heat. I have a hard time with this because in my mind it needs to be jelly before it is canned. But once your jelly cools and sits for a few days, it will gel up perfectly. If you over boil, it will be rubbery and gross. Listen to the experts — they know what they are talking about (mostly).

By doubling my recipe, I was able to get nine jars of mint jelly.

mintjelly-web

I got a text from my mom (my biggest jelly and jam fan) this morning saying how good the jelly was on her lamb dinner last night. Glad to have found another recipe that I like for canning.

All in all, this took me about 2.5 hours from start to finish, start being taking out supplies and picking the mint, finish being clean-up and jar storage. Not bad.