Jar cuffs

IMG_3076 With a growing pile of bag fabric scraps too small for any kind of bag, but too big for my frugal nature to throw away, I started thinking about making jar cuffs.  Considering all my other mason jar items, it seemed a natural thing to do.  Besides, they are cute and keep your hands happy when you are carrying a hot or icy drink.

The process turned out to be sort of a long, bumpy road.  Friends helped me out with getting the right size jars, trying out samples, and taking photos of their findings.  (Thanks, y’all!)  The cuffs themselves have to be EXACTLY the right size, or they just don’t work – there’s not much margin for error (or variations in fabric, or how it takes steam from the iron).  But at long last, there are a few ready-to-ship cuffs to choose from in the shop.  They fit a wide-mouth pint or pint-and-a-half jar.  As much difficulty as I’ve had with my own pattern, I’m not sure if it would be a good idea to sell a pattern for these; we’ll see where the bumpy road leads.

And then another idea came.  Simple, tone-on-tone cuffs with hand-embroidered monograms.  I just love them so much.  I hand-draw the initial before embroidering, so each one is unique and slightly wonky, just like my handwriting.  I can just see these lined up for a bridesmaid luncheon, or for drip-free sipping the morning of the wedding. IMG_0010Or hey, just pick your favorite color, and I’ll stitch your initial on it!  ;)

 

headwear how-to

 

Here’s another free project I’ve moved over from my old blog, original post date was 12/22/09.  Enjoy!

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Today’s quick kids’ gift is actually three – the construction is so similar, I decided to lump them all together. There’s a superhero mask, a crown, and a pirate eye patch. As always, read through the instructions to the end before you begin! I show the project on the sewing machine, but this could be done by hand sewing. You’ll need some pieces of felt and elastic, a fabric marking pen or chalk, and of course thread.DSCN1162

And here’s your pattern, to print. Since the size is rather critical on this project, I’ve included a 1″ square on the page so you can make sure it’s the right size.

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This project is easily made reversible, as each is two layers of felt. Just use different colors for the front and back, and it’s like having two of each! Layer your two pieces of felt (wrong sides together, if it has a right and wrong side) and pin on the pattern. Also pin the fabric together outside of the pattern area. Trace around the patterns using your favorite fabric marking implement. Don’t cut it out yet!DSCN1163

Remove the patterns, but not the pins holding the two layers of felt together. Stitch just inside the lines you’ve drawn, as they are your cutting lines. Leave a gap in the stitching at the areas marked “leave open” on the pattern. This is where your elastic will go.DSCN1165

It should look like this after stitching:DSCN1166

Now we cut. Trim on the drawn lines, being careful not to cut your stitching. Also cut on the lines at the spots you left open for the elastic.DSCN1172

Now measure and tuck your elastic into the openings. Ideally, you should try it on the child; but if it’s a surprise, you can’t do that. Bev’s Country Cottage has an excellent reference page with all sorts of measurements that should help. Remember that elastic needs to be a bit smaller than the actual head measurement to fit well.

A note if you are using elastic cord for any of these, such as shown on the eye patch: since even when you knot and stitch this stuff, it tends to pop out, I recommend you run the cord all the way through the piece, tie the two ends of the cord together with a square knot, and pull the knot back into the center of the felt piece to hide it. You can see the knot in the cord of the eye patch in the photo below, before it was pulled inside. And a tip – sometimes when we buy shoes, they are attached together with elastic cord – always save it! I use that for projects like this.
For small children: To reduce the possibility of strangulation, you may wish to cut the elastic, apply a bit of hook and loop fastener such as Velcro to the cut ends, and use that to fasten the elastic back together. The fastener should give way under pressure.

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Once you have the elastic cut to the proper length and tucked into the openings, take it to the sewing machine and stitch back and forth over the opening to secure the elastic.DSCN1193

And done!DSCN1194

And here’s the reverse side:DSCN1195Feel free to embellish as you like, especially the crown!

 

cupcake in a jar

I may have said this before, but my girls and I are really sensitive to artificial ingredients in food. So I often bring along substitute cake or cupcakes to birthday parties, so we don’t have to pay for it for the next 48 hours. Well, tomorrow is one of those days. So then I thought, “Hey! The current cupcake-in-a-mason-jar craze is perfect for this!!”

I decided upon this cupcake recipe, because it only makes 6. We really don’t need 2 dozen cupcakes sitting around, when we really only need a couple. I didn’t try the frosting recipe, because I already had some left over in the fridge. As utterly delicious as the cupcakes turned out, though, I’ll bet the frosting is good too!

Here’s my 6 little cakes, baked right in the half-pint jars. When they were cool, I turned them out and cut them in half. I put the bottom half back in the jar, squeezed in some frosting, and put the top half in. Then I piped the frosting on top all pretty, and added some pink sprinkles. (I didn’t think about how much grease and crumbs would stick to the side after baking, so if you need them to be really really pretty you’ll want to wash the jars, as in the next photo.)IMG_2881

And here we are! One cupcake ready for traveling, soon as it has a lid. Isn’t it cute?IMG_2884

And for future reference: One half-pint regular mouth jar will fit in a pint single bag along with a Capri Sun and a fork. Just be sure to put the Capri Sun in first.IMG_2893I keep intending to make the 8yo a half-pint 2-jar bag – that would have been perfect for this! She could have brought a drink in a jar too. I really need to do that when I have a minute.

Hey, she knows how to sew now! I’ll just get her to make her own! ;)

 

what a year

Jars to Go BagsWow.  One year ago, the Food in Jars post went live.  I had sold a handful of bags and patterns at that point, but I had no idea what was in store.  Suddenly my little mason jar bag idea was placed before the eyes of people who GOT IT.  Every bag I had in stock sold.  Every bag I could eke out for the next two months sold immediately.  I sewed, ate a little, slept a little, emailed patterns, then sewed some more, and that was life during that season.  It was the most joyfully stressful time I’ve ever experienced as a seller.  I was so afraid that customers would grow impatient with me – after all, it was just me and a sewing machine, and I can only make so many bags in a day.  But the response was overwhelmingly positive.  Most of them had been carrying mason jars all haphazard for years, so I guess they didn’t mind waiting just a little longer.

I was just looking back at the shop stats from that week.  The numbers are just unbelievable.  I owe dear Marisa a great debt.

Over the next few months, I’d get requests.  Some found their way into the shop and patterns – the 4-jar bag, the single bag, quarts, half-pints.  That’s my favorite part of all this, working with people to make exactly what they need.  There’s at least a couple more surprises on the way.  And thankfully, I don’t have to email patterns anymore – instant downloads!

It’s been a fantastic year, but I reckon that’s enough reminiscing.  Onward!

Muffins in jars

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This morning, I felt like making pumpkin muffins. Now, if you know me, you know that normally I just dump the batter into a 9×13 pan and bake it like a cake. But today I wanted actual muffin-shaped muffins.

So there I was, with a good 3 muffins’ worth of batter left, and no more space in the muffin pan. Looking around for other options, I spied the box of cute little 4 oz jelly jars on the counter, ready for the next batch of jelly. Inspired by all the baked goods in jars on Pinterest, I washed and greased a few right quick and divided the batter between them. It works! I think they’re just too cute. I’m thinking of keeping some jars around just for baking – they’re a lot easier to fit into the dishwasher!

FYI, the muffins in the jars were done a couple minutes sooner than the ones in the pan, so you’ll want to keep an eye on them if you try this.

If you’re interested, the crochet flower hot pad is this pattern. They are really fun to make.

meet the assassin bug leaf-footed bug

Oops!  I stand corrected.  These are not assassin bugs.  In my defense, they DO look like the drawing in the book I used to identify them.  But they look even more like the photos of leaf-footed bugs I found via Google.  My bad.  Thanks, Scott, for shedding some light on the subject!  I’m going to leave the bugs alone for now, though, because I’ve never had more or prettier blueberries than I’ve had this year – I’m not changing a thing!

Scott, our commenter, sent me this link to BugGuide.net.  This link will take you to the beginning of the (real) assassin bug photos.

Yesterday on Facebook, I mentioned the assassin bugs guarding my blueberry bushes.  No one seemed to know what an assassin bug is, so I went out to take some photos to show you.  Because they are awesome, and you need to know about them.

Now, these are one of those critters that vary from area to area, so yours may not look just like mine.  They are a beneficial insect, meaning they eat the bad bugs for you so that you don’t need pesticides.  They will also bite you if you mess with them, but I have a healthy respect for them and I’ve never been bitten.  Thanks to them, my blueberries are clean as a whistle, except for the odd spider here and there (also beneficial).  Sorry my photos are a little blurry – these guys like to hide when you come around, plus it’s hard to get the camera to understand what needs to be in focus here.

Here’s an adult.  He flew over to a sad little muscadine vine to pose for me.  (Looks like maybe he needs to spend more time on it?)  The adults fly, but the younger ones do not.  I think they look like a stink bug who’s been working out.  Adult assassin bug

We’ll call this one a teenager assassin bug.  He has more the shape of an adult, but still has the spiny backside like the little ones.teen assassin bug

So I guess that makes these “adolescent” assassin bugs.  Congregating, as adolescents are known to do.  ;)  They are orange-red with black legs.adolescent assassin bugs

And these are the little baby assassin bugs.  Same orange-red color and black legs, but smaller.  You’d almost mistake them for spiders.Baby assassin bugs

I couldn’t find any eggs, but they are kind of odd – the ones I’ve seen look like a 2″ long, 1/8″ wide raised stripe of mud.  I would not have recognized them as eggs if I had not seen baby assassin bugs coming out of it.

There you go!  If you see any of these guys, don’t squash them or spray them with poison.  They will help your garden if you let them!   In light of new evidence, might want to see if they’re chewing on your plants.

I should probably add that I’m not an entomologist.  Almost everything I know about assassin bugs past the initial identification has been by observation.  Ain’t that the truth.

Lessons learned:

  • Assassin bugs are still awesome.
  • These are not assassin bugs.
  • (me) Check out stuff better before you post it.
  • (you) Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.  ;)

ready to mail!

IMG_1712A few weeks ago, I was asked if I’d like to donate an item to a silent auction to benefit the American Cancer Society.  I jumped at the chance.  My mother is a cancer survivor, so the subject hits close to home for me.  Encouraging people to bring a healthy lunch from home, rather than eating out so much, is one of the main reasons I make these bags and patterns.

I tried to think of ways to make it a really special donation.  I asked my Facebook people, and got lots of great input.  My first instinct was to include some actual food, but then I realized that I have to send in the donation months before the auction.  No telling what could happen to it by then.

So then I tried to think about it this way:  If the concept of carrying lunch in a jar was completely foreign to me, what would I need to know, and what would I need to get started?  So here’s what I came up with.

The bag is the blue ticking, my best seller.  I included the napkin, of course; 2 wide mouth jars; a bandana placemat; some simple silverware; and a Cuppow lid.  There’s also a one-page explanation of the mason jar meals concept complete with ideas for what to bring.  And some business cards, of course.  If I have time before I pack it all up, I may print out some recipes as well.  (Does anyone know where that Salad in a Jar diagram came from? I’d love to give credit for it, but I can’t find the original source anywhere!)

Did you notice that thing on one of the jars?  What’s that, you ask?  It’s a jar cuff, coming soon to the shop!  They’ve been a long time coming, and I’m so happy they’re almost ready!  :D

Batik and Red’s First Outing

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Remember Batik and Red?  My family talked me into keeping it.  So sweet of them!  I do adore it, and just couldn’t bear to let it go.  Anyway, on a beautiful spring day a couple weeks ago, I decided the time had come for its first adventure.  We didn’t go far, and it didn’t carry any fancy foods.  But it was a picnic, and therefore was fun.  We packed up, and off to the backyard we went.  (Odd assortment of containers there on top, but the mason jars are in there somewhere!)

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The menu:  Annie’s mac and cheese, clementines, bread, and juice or tea.

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Under a blooming dogwood tree, no less.

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The girls sat in their hammocks to eat – not sure how we managed that without disaster…

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After a bit more exploring and swinging and whatnot, it was time to go back inside.  Beautiful day.  :)

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the berry report

20130507-214527.jpgMy poor neglected strawberry patch. I really have not had time to garden of late, so I decided just to let it go and see what happens. Luckily, they pretty much do their own thing, with or without my input. These will be ripe soon. And after they finish bearing this year, I think I will move them someplace where it’s easier to care for them.

20130507-214758.jpgThe blueberries are still hanging in there!

20130507-215105.jpgAnd this blackberry? Last year I was ready to dig it up, because it has never done as well as the others. And now look at it! From the kitchen window, I can’t even see leaves – all I can see is white blooms!

Guess it just needed a little more time. Like we all do from time to time. :)

in which kim apologizes profusely for her long absence

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Let me say up front that I really do not like blog posts beginning with “Sorry I’ve not written a blog post in such a very long time!” or something to that effect.  But it looks like I’m going to have to write one of those.

I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say that 2013 got off to a bumpy start for me and mine.  Though I love my little shop and my blog, and the friends and acquaintances they’ve brought my way, I had to take a break from all that and just be wife and mommy for a while.  Not an excuse, just an explanation.  But things are (hopefully) settling down for a while, so I can turn my attention to making fun things again.

First up are some jar cozies.  You may recognize these from the free pattern I offer here.  I normally don’t make them to sell.  But we took a long trip (that hopefully I’ll have time to tell you about, because it was great) and I needed a project to take along.  Because if you know me in real life, you know that I don’t sit quietly very well without a project in my hands.  And what I felt like making was jar cozies.  Since I doubt I’ll have time to make them to sell ever again, Maya suggested I call them a “limited edition”.  Here they are in the shop, if you’d rather buy one than make your own.

Speaking of Maya, she has a fantastic new endeavor!  Take a look at her new shop:  French Honey  She’s making pendants, and I think she really has an eye for it.

I’ve also listed a few bags, and there will be more and different things to come.  Thanks for your patience!