Empty Jars: Christmas Edition

As you may remember from this post, we’re saving up empty jars chez Jessen & Hiser for our wedding reception decor.  So far, I think the count is up to 30 – 35 (plus a hefty 50+ baby food jars donated by my good friend Jen – suhweet!).  In addition to saving us beaucoup dollars on decoration costs, I’m finding that having a bunch of empty jars hanging around the house is awesome.  Need somewhere to collect stray pencils and pens?  I’ve got a jar for that!  Need a new toothbrush/paste holder?  There’s a jar for that.  How about a fun candy dish for my desk at work?  You guessed it – jar.

A couple of weeks ago, I put up our Christmas tree and while unpacking everything from last year, I was pleased to find a box full of ornaments we bought in a post-Christmas sale.  Score!  It was like finding a dollar bill in a jacket you haven’t worn in a while.  I had completely forgot about these ornaments.  So, with the tree loaded with these “new” ornaments, I had some extras lying around.  I also found myself with some extra space on the mantel, having removed this DIYed Thanksgiving project.

Of course, I went straight to my reserve of extra jars.  I placed the extra ornaments (which happen to be a smaller size) in the jars and even hung a couple ornaments off the edge of the jars and lined them up on the mantel.  Then, I grabbed an extra string of lights and draped it over the mantel, letting it curl around the jars.  What do you think?

Santa hangs off a trusty jar.

A wider shot of the whole scene. It really warms up the space.

Another close-up of the goods.

The best part about this project is that is was F-R-E-E!  I already owned everything, from the lights, to the ornaments, to the jars.  Also, it only took about 10 – 15 minutes to whip-up and arrange to my liking.  Quite the perfect Christmas decoration, if you ask me.  Especially for a couple who have very little decorations to start.

So, what about you? Have you ever recycled old decorations to make something new? Are you looking to try a new holiday decor project? Share!


Gettin’ Crafty

As stated in this post, I’m planning on incorporating jars and candles into our wedding reception decor.  So, I’ve been saving jars from sauces, pickles, peppers – you name it.  I can’t believe how many jars we are amassing in such a short amount of time!  I’ve no doubt that by next October, we’ll have plenty of jars saved and I won’t have spend a single cent from our wedding budget to buy any.  Suh-weet.

In the mean time, I noticed more than a couple of great ideas on (you guessed it) Pinterest of things to do with these jars and I recently decided to give one a try.  First, let’s take a look at the inspiration photo.


The crafty gal who created these adorable votives added a few drops of  food coloring to Mod Podge, painted the concoction on the glass, et voila, pretty colored glass candle holders.  I thought I would test this project out using the colors we want to use for our wedding – green and blue.

Work Station Set-Up

Here’s a glimpse of my work-station set-up and supplies.  I started with two clean jars, some paper trays (left-overs from our engagement party), a paint brush, green and blue gel food coloring, and hard coat Mod Podge.  This was my first time working with Mod Podge and I have to admit I was a little intimidated when I was at the craft store and there were so many types to choose from.  I decided to go with the “hard coat” because the bottle said it works on glass.  But, maybe there’s another crafter out there who would have recommended another type.

Oh wine...what can't you do?

As recommended from the original source, I added a few drops of food coloring and mixed until I reached my desired color.  At first, I held the jar upside down with one hand partially inside the top opening.  However, overtime I found that things would get a little dicey as I had to paint nearer to the top of the jar.  Enter my friend the wine bottle – the perfect stand.

Finished product

After a couple of coats, I noticed that the brush strokes looked streaky.  So, I switched using an X or basket weave pattern.  I think this would have been a good idea from the beginning.  I think the jars look kinda cool, but I don’t think it’s something I would do for all the jars at the wedding.  And here’s why – look at the photo below with the candles lit.  The color really seems to disappear.

Where'd the color go?

The next time I get some fresh flowers, I will put them in these jars and see how that turns out.  There might be a nice affect with water.  Right now, I have the jars placed against a white wall so the colors really pop, and it’s nice.

Poppin' off the wall.

So, what about you?  Do you have any craft projects you’ve undertaken that didn’t turn out exactly as you hoped?  What do you think about the jars?  Would you give these a try?

Empty Jars

Darrin and I have made very few plans for the wedding.  We haven’t even picked a date.  We know that we want the big day to take place some time next fall.  We also know that the reception will be held at my sister’s house (thank you sister!).  And, aside from the general sentiment (we want it festive and full of love – a big love-fest, if you will) that’s about it on the decisions.

Except for one other thing.  About a month back I saw the picture below on Pinterest and I fell in love.  How soft!  How romantic!  How simple!

Beautiful DIY table setting found at Chelle Paperie.

I quickly decided that this was a route I wanted to take for my own wedding.  So, I started saving every jar from salsa or Trader Joe’s tikka masala sauce or Thai green curry sauce (Darrin’s favorite).  I also put my family on notice to start saving jars from pickles, and jams, and peanut butter – as long as it’s glass, I want it.

Soon, I found I had a sweet little collection of empty jars.  And I recently decided to put them to use, instead of boxing them up in storage for the next year and a half.

First, I bought a small and inexpensive bouquet of hydrangeas.  I then separated the flowers, trimmed them down, and popped them  into their own glass jar.  I think they look kind of sweet.  I love the comparison of the robust bloom of the flower with the simple, stout jar.

The simple arrangement helped breathe some life into our rock fireplace.

For the rest of the jars, I decided to try out their candle-holding skills.  I placed a tea light in each jar, et voila.  I did find, however, that some of the jars have a little inverted hump at the bottom.  This caused the tea light to sort of slip around the bottom of the jar.  If I were to use a larger candle, I think I would need to try putting some sand or rocks in the bottom of the glass to help stabilize the candle.

My new up-cycled mini-candle garden.

Here's a view of both projects on the mantel.

So what do you think?  What other creative ways can I make use of our new collection of jars?  What items have you “up-cycled” that you’re proud about and want to share?

Top picture found at Chelle Paperie’s blog.

A Touch of Glass

Over the weekend, Darrin and I received our first wedding gift.  At least, that’s what I’m calling it.  We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon visiting with my parents.  While visiting, my mother remembered a box of “things” my grandma Mary (my mom’s mom) had saved from her marriage to my mom’s dad for my sisters and me.  So I went into the garage with my mom, climbed on to my dad’s weightlifting bench, reached up to the top shelf and pulled down a very dusty box where I uncovered eight glass “Serva Snack” sets.

One of the "Serva Snack" designs.

These were so dainty and adorable.  They were a perfect little treasure, packed away in their original boxes, safe for my sisters and me to use.  One of the designs has a small, curved indentation on the side which I can only suspect was for setting down one’s cigarette when one wanted to take a bite of the provided snack.  I think I’ll have to find a new use for that indentation – chocolate straws maybe?  I’m already imagining afternoon teas, mother’s day brunches, or a bridal luncheon with these charming glass trays.  And don’t think I won’t be able to serve a cocktail in that darling little cup.

While up on the ladder weightlifting bench in the garage we discovered another box.  It simply read on the side, “grandma and grandpa g bar.”  Grandma and Grandpa G are my dad’s maternal grandparents.  Grandma Ginther is the woman I was named after and while I never had the opportunity to meet her, from what I hear, she was an amazing woman.  To reach this box, we had to call in the help of Darrin and my dad as it was pushed too far out of reach.  This box was really heavy and once it was brought to the floor, we discovered it was full of individually wrapped items.  They turned out to be a ton of various bar glasses.

A number of the bar glasses from Grandma and Grandpa Ginther (pre-washing).

Darrin and I were instantly excited when we saw these glasses.  Two of the many things we have in common are: we like things that are old and things made of glass.  My mom very kindly offered the box to Darrin and me noting that Grandma Ginther would have liked the idea of her namesake having her things.  It was such a sweet moment and such a thoughtful gift.

More of the glasses. They really clean up nice!

When we got home that afternoon, I got straight to cleaning the glasses.  While standing over the sink, I let my mind twist around the history of our new collection.  Where did it all come from?  Grandma and Grandpa Ginther ran and owned a few restaurants over the course of their lives.  Had a few of the loner glasses snuck their way home from Alex & Effie’s restaurant?  What happened to cause some of the sets to be incomplete?  If it was anything like my house growing up, the children may have broken a glass or two.  Did a little Joanne (my grandmother) or Bud or Sunny (my great Uncles) have slippery fingers?  Did Grandma Ginther bring the glasses out for parties?  Did she really use the brandy glasses for brandy or did she break convention and use them for wine, the way I would?

And how will Darrin and I incorporate these new gifts into our lives?  Some of the glasses I can imagine using as vases or for serving a yummy frozen dessert.  I do feel as though I’m more likely to have a luncheon simply because I have to give those Serva Snacks a try.

What about you?  What gifts have you inherited?  What have they meant to you and how have you incorporated them in to your life?