Archive for category Artfully Repurposed
How many of you actually open commercial preserve jars you receive as gifts during the holidays? Raise your hand. No one sees you. It’s OK. Alright, a very few hands went up way in the back. Hardly noticeable. The rest of you probably mean to use the preserve, but later, much later find it still sitting in the back of the fridge or cupboard. It will make a perfect last-minute gift sometime this year, so it can sit a while longer in someone else’s cupboard.
Now, if it is true that it is the thought that counts, then it stands to reason that a jar of preserves or vegetables that was made with care and attention by a family member or friend has that extra ingredient, that touch of warmth, that unspoken whisper that says, “I made this one for you because you are a gift in my life.” This will not sit on a shelf for too long. In fact, you might make tea or coffee and share it with your friend right there and then. You just know how good it is.
All this to say that presentation matters. So don’t you doubt yourself twice if you were about to gift some of your canned peaches or dilly beans or pickles or preserves this holiday season. Do not assume this may be perceived as not being a real gift. You know how much work you put into your canning projects and you know how it fills your heart to think about the people with whom you are glad to share your stash of preserves.
Not convinced? Perhaps you’d like a few presentation ideas. First, forget the immediate meaning of the words “gift wrapping.” I will ask you instead to adopt my definition (as a Granny I can make such rules). Gift wrapping, then, is about presentation. It is about the added touch that takes a simple gift and gives it new meaning. Here is what I mean.
To a jar of home-made apple sauce… add a loaf of home-made whole grain bread and a wine from a good local artisan. Wrap the package in a colorful table-cloth. Secure with a bow.
To a jar of your canned peaches… add a novel by their favorite author (one they have read years ago and have been looking for ever since is even better). To this, add a lap desk with lamp. Wrap (actual wrapping paper this time) the jar and book and place them on the lap desk, which will then be used as a gift serving tray. Add a colorful ribbon if you wish.
To a few jars of your tomato sauce… add their very own Squeezo Strainer (it includes a recipe booklet), a colorful pasta serving bowl and pasta. Arrange the jars and pasta in the bowl, perhaps with some playful shredded raffia. Add a card that provides instructions to go to this or that closet to discover the rest of the gift. The Squeezo awaits there, of course, conventionally wrapped.
To a few jars of your home-made fruit preserve… add a warm sweater and some gourmet coffee. Fold the sweater. Place the coffees and preserve on top of the sweater and secure with a large ribbon.
To a jar of your canned tomatoes… add tomato seed packets, a growing kit and food preserving book. Secure the seed packets to the tomato jar, perhaps with twine for a rustic look. Add a large cut-out of a tomato with instructions to find the matching tomato somewhere else in the house or room. You will have attached the identical tomato cut-out to a colorful fabric-wrapped package kept in another room.
Finally, if you happen to run a tight ship (I am with you there), you can save a lot of money by giving home-made gifts and foods. And, if you happen to experience an occasional bout of the holiday blues, finding creative ways to “wrap” your gifts is actually quite uplifting. You’ll get back in the spirit the moment you begin.
The weekend is a good time for grazing. This is a summary of some of the delightful Blog articles I have been reading during the week. I invite you to graze through these, and also through the archives of the creative writers who wrote them.
Food canning equipment, tool carts, compost bins, growing kits, cider and fruit presses, the Squeezo Strainer, food dehydrators, juicers, smokers, cold frames, greenhouses and so many more innovations contribute to making our lives organized and healthier and to turning our homes and properties into an oasis where the living is good.
All of these things exist because we are creative and because we have a unique ability to adapt to our environment. In truth, foodies, homesteaders and gardeners who write about their experiences are telling the ongoing story of our inventive spirit. On their pages, every tool and appliance is like a paint brush; ready to express a new vision.
You can access the entire Weekend Highlights series to date by clicking on that category in the sidebar at left.
It has been a while since I’ve acknowledged new bloggers who have added their names to the list of followers who keep an eye on what is going on here at Granny’s Parlour. Let’s do that right now. Here are three, selected very randomly.
I found these mouth-watering pickles (don’t you just love the label?) on the Obsessive Canning Disorder Blog. “OCD for the canning obsessed,” specifies the page header.
“I watched my Grandmother can in the early 70′s, and watched my Mother can between that time and thru the 80′s. Canning was a way to preserve the harvest, and for me, it’s a way to preserve their history and to continue sharing this way of life with my family. It’s also ‘food insurance’ for the long run…” explains the author. “I can to preserve what we have in abundance for times when we won’t have abundance. I can to make gifts, and I can just because I CAN!” she adds.
Article categories feature, among other titles: Cookin’ up a storm, Friends and The Monkey Crew & More, which includes musings about the trials and tribulations of everyday family life, and, of course, the OCD segment, with photo upon photo of completed canning projects. They will make you want to reach in and grab a jar for a taste.
“Food insurance for the long run.” I like that. Explore.
Next, we pop over to Patina and Company, for inspiration on Arranging Autumn Indoors.
“For 22 years I have been developing my skills in creating and renovating gardens, interiors and construction projects… I have designed, sourced, researched, managed and physically worked on almost everything, from furniture and accessories to driveways and drainage,” explains Leslie, the author.
The article that caught my attention, because I felt it provided an accurate portray of the overall atmosphere of the blog and the character of its author, begins with these words: “Everyone who reads my blog knows I love autumn. However, it is one of those seasons like late winter or early spring when there are certain days you have to enjoy it from inside the house.”
Reaching for a good book and a cup of tea might come to mind, but the author is of a mind to bring carefully selected samples of the outside beauty inside, to adorn the house in time for the Canadian Thanksgiving. This article will provide inspiration as our own Thanksgiving approaches. It offers tips for selecting proper vegetation from the garden and for arranging it for a stunning, uplifting effect. Rule number one: “What looks great together outside will look great together in your bouquet.” There is more. Explore.
“In the early 1970s, my parents were part of the ‘Back to the Land’ movement and built a geodesic dome – without electricity or running water - in rural Nevada County, California. That’s where I grew up, climbing trees, riding my pony, eating from the garden and wearing (painfully unfashionable) hand-sewn clothes. Eventually I went away to college… and to law school… in 2011 I realized I’d had enough of law firms and skyscrapers, …I moved back to the dome with my rescue-mutt Lola…” – Sara – Domesteading – Single girl goes back to ‘Back to the Land.’
Now you and I know what Domesteading means. And there is more. Once you get to this blog you must read the great little story of Henge and Hollow Farm. For now, I invite you to read the most recent post, titled On a Day Like Today. I like a good musing post and this happens to be just that.
“It starts with kicking off the covers, slipping on my boots and hoodie, descending the squeaky stairs, pulling open the heavy back door and heading up the path to the barn. Every morning I use this time… to assess the day: the temperature, the clouds, the wind, the subtle changes in air pressure that one feels with her bones instead of her skin… As I approach the barn I hear the hens fretting about the day’s agenda in their usual manner. They jostle on the ladder inside the coop like commuters on a train platform…” Continue Reading
Thank you for stopping by to read this Weekend’s Review. Please take a moment to leave a few words on the Blogs you enjoy, if you feel so inclined that is.
It finally arrived. Your new dehydrator, juicer or grain mill showed up at the door or at the post office. If you are like me, you brought it home and set the box aside for later, after work, when chores are done or after the kids’ dinner. But it is hard to resist a new toy.
I usually give in and find excuses. I was going to break for tea anyway, so I might as well take the juicer out of the box, just so that’s done. Or I can’t focus on my work or the chore I am trying to complete, so I might as well take the dehydrator out of its box. In fact, I might as well plan on dehydrating some fruit today for the dessert I will make for a weekend potluck.
We know exactly what the new appliance looks like and what it does. We’ve done our homework and found everything there is to know about the grain mill and how it adjusts to any desired coarseness or how easy it is to clean the juicer, but we absolutely cannot resist touching it. It is here. We’ve earned it. We commune with the things we bring in our lives. We embrace them. We have worked hard and this is our reward. This, I think, at least partly, is where we re-channel our childlike wonderment.
As for the box, by now we know the drill: break it down and add it to the recycling. End of story. May I suggest another storyline, while we’re in a childlike mood anyway?
There is another common trait amongst Americans in the kitchen: We use the refrigerator as a billboard and art display. Here is what you can do with the dehydrator, juicer, grain mill or other appliance box and here is what you will need.
An old garden catalog
Magnets (I recycle mine)
And Children (though it is perfectly acceptable to do this by yourself)
- Cut the box by roughly separating each panel. If it is a large box, cut panels down to about the size of a sheet of paper (8 1/2 ” x 11″).
- On the plain side, use a marker to draw the outline of a figure, as if you were drawing one of those paper dolls to dress up. Draw a face (preferably smiling) and hair.
- Cut out the figure.
- Select colorful pages from the gardening catalog.
- Use the cut out figure to outline pants, a shirt, a skirt, a hat…
- Cut out the clothing items and glue them on the figure.
- Glue magnets on the back.
- Proudly display on your fridge door.
- Make a smoothie or dried fruit snack. Stand in front of your artwork. Enjoy the moment.
Each figure could represent a member of the family.
A variation: Affix a small paper envelope to each figure where you can leave each other memos and thank you notes.
Another variation: Add twigs, twine, dried leaves and flowers…