Crazy for Canning Jars

Turn canning jars into durable sippy cups (for you and the little ones)! BPA-free plastic lids are dishwasher safe.

Turn canning jars into durable sippy cups (for you and the little ones)! BPA-free plastic lids are dishwasher safe.

Trust me when I tell you that I am seldom ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest craze. In fact, I am a bit of a cultural illiterate when it comes to things like TV shows (the Walking What??), fashion and food fads. I never feel the need to update my wardrobe or my décor to keep up with a trend. If you are looking for a poster child for stuck-in-the-mud and stodgy, then I just might be your girl. So it gives me no small amount of pleasure to realize that when it comes to Mason jars I was way cool before anybody else.

Our candle hooks turn your favorite jar into an emergency lantern or a simple, stunning centerpiece. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Our candle hooks turn your favorite jar into an emergency light or a simple, stunning centerpiece. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

I had long ago realized that Mason jars are far better first cups for kids than any

bright colored, ergonomically designed vessel. The small size fits a child’s hand and they are virtually unbreakable. Add in that they now make dandy lids so drinks aren’t wasted, and you have a winner. The new lid inserts that hold straws are nice if not essential.

Store homemade sauces and dressings easily and serve with no drippy mess! Store and Pour Caps at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Store homemade sauces and dressings easily and serve with no drippy mess! Store and Pour Caps at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Years ago, I cut my own lid inserts out of cheesecloth for seed sprouters, and I always had jars of lacto-fermented vegetables going. The lids that hold airlocks are a real improvement on my method of setting the jars on plates to hold the overflow brine.

Plastic containers? I laugh at the notion of purchasing them. Glass jars don’t hold flavors or odors and as long as you don’t overfill them are great for freezing leftovers. I like the straight-sided, wide-mouth jars for things like a few cups of soup. I freeze them and when I want to make a quick meal for one or two I run them under warm water and the food slips right out.

Purple canning jars and classy stainless steel straws give this brunch table a pop of color and style. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Purple canning jars and classy stainless steel straws give this brunch table a pop of color and style. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

New toppers let me transform my jars into dispensers for everything from homemade lotions to dishwashing detergent. As someone who makes nearly all of her household cleaners and personal care products, these toppers are a game changer.

Pretty labels turn ordinary jars into practical gifts. I have filled them with soup and baking mixes, simple sewing kits and herbal tea blends. I store seeds in them and use them as candle holders during power outages. There is nothing else in my home that is a versatile.

Straight-sided, 1.5-pint jars are ideal for teacher gifts, freezing leftovers and make perfect drinking glasses, too. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Straight-sided, 1.5-pint jars are ideal for teacher gifts, freezing leftovers and make perfect drinking glasses, too. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

New toppers let me transform my jars into dispensers for everything from homemade lotions to dishwashing detergent. As someone who makes nearly all of her household cleaners and personal care products, these toppers are a game changer.

Pretty labels turn ordinary jars into practical gifts. I have filled them with soup and baking mixes, simple sewing kits and herbal tea blends. I store seeds in them and use them as candle holders during power outages. There is nothing else in my home that is a versatile.

This week a friend was moving and he dropped off boxes of jars he no longer has room for. They are old and dusty and some of the lids are rusty. Who cares? A scrub in hot, soapy water and a good rinse and the jars will be good for decades more use. Canning jars could be the logo for reduce, reuse and recycle.

Click here for more ideas on creative uses and accessories for canning jars.

Lehman’s Hacks: Christmas Canning Jar Craft!

Beeswax tealights, Ball® canning jars

Lit with tealights, the jars really sparkle! Find tealights and jars at Lehmans.com.

The first thing we did was look at Pinterest.

In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.

After all, we’re writers and editors here at Country Life, not semi-professional crafters.But we had a great time making our “disco ball jars” as writer Sarah christened the project, and we hope you will too.

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Upcycle Old Tshirts for Thoughtful Gift!

Children's Tshirts

Sure, they may outgrow them, but you can make cute quilts with them afterwards!

If you’re like the folks who work here at Lehman’s, you like to make things with your hands. And for the holidays, you really like to make gifts for those few people who make your life complete.

This year, you might need their cooperation, a few Tshirts, and some basic sewing skills. We love the idea of a quilt made from well-loved or outgrown Ts that aren’t really past their prime.

In fact, one of our own staff members, Elaine, created a beautiful, very warm comforter using the Lehman’s t-shirts she wore to work for years!

Elaine's "Lehman's Ts Quilt."

Elaine’s “Lehman’s Ts Quilt.”

See the tutorial here:
http://www.favequilts.com/T-Shirt-Quilts/Classic-Memories-T-Shirt-Quilt

8 Fun Uses For Strawberry Baskets

Old-Time Poplar Berry Baskets

Old-Time Poplar Berry Baskets

Sure, our Old-Time Poplar Strawberry Basket is great for collecting strawberries–shoot, they’re great for collecting any kind of small produce. But what if you have a few extra? What can you do with them?

Well, in my case, #1 on the list has already happened. I needed a couple of small Easter baskets for the daughters of friends, and I had a few of the strawberry baskets handy. And that got me to thinking…and I came up with eight other uses for these handy baskets.

  1. Small Easter basket–see photos below!
  2. Take-away party favor: you won’t need a box.
  3. Place card: At picnics, include napkins, flatware.
  4. Gift box: Great for odd-shaped small items. Decorate it!
  5. Hair stuff box: pony tail elastics, hair bands, bobby pins, etc.
  6. Craft supplies container–look in the background of the photos.
  7. Pencil cup: I’d line it with fabric; great for deep desk drawers.
  8. Container for small toys; use for children or to corral pet toys

A last minute flash of inspiration:  Use the basket as a base for a giant pincushion! (I’m making one of these now, and will post the how-to and photos when it’s done!)

15 Ways to Transform Your Canning Jars

It’s no secret. Canning jars are for more than canning. They’re super useful around the house and great for when you need a simple, inexpensive decoration. We’ve put together a list of our favorite uses for these jars.

#1: FLOWER VASE
Put flowers inside the jars and tie ribbon or twine around the rims for centerpieces. For more color, you can paint the jars.
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Rabbitry, Part 2: Step by Step Guide to Tan an Animal Hide

Old Hickory Skinning Knife

Old Hickory Skinning Knife

In this article, the author discusses how she’s using the skins of the rabbits she butchers for meat. This article may not be appropriate for all readers.

My adventures in livestock this past season means that I have four sheep hides and four rabbit hides in my basement, waiting for their opportunity to be put to use. I have tanned two rabbit hides so far, with varying success, but I thought I’d add to the many voices online that explain the hide-preserving process.

There are several methods of tanning hides—you can use bark from trees, high in tannins; you can use acid to pickle the hide; or you can use a “brain-tanning” method, which is what I have been doing. The key in the whole process is to take the skin of the animal, which is perishable and will rot, and preserve it by keeping bacteria away and keeping it soft and supple.

Step by Step Guide for How to Tan a Hide:

Ball Preserving and Pickling Salt

No iodine or additives. Ball’s Preserving and Pickling Salt is ideal to help preserve skins. At Lehmans.com and Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

  1. Get the hide off of the animal. If you skin the animal while it is still warm, you should be able to remove the skin with your hands—it is attached only by a thin nearly-liquid membrane called the fascia.
  2. Spread out the skin and flesh it. If you’ve removed the skin using hand power rather than knife power, you’ll have very little flesh left on the skin—mostly just a layer of membrane. When I do a rabbit hide, I spend about half an hour going over the hide with a spoon and making sure any membrane I can get off is off. That helps in the future suppleness of the hide, since membrane left on the hide can harden to a bit of a crust.
  3. Salt the hide. This is an important step, and one I didn’t take seriously at first, for preventing bacterial growth. I lay out the fur, flesh side up and fur side down, and spread non-iodized salt liberally over the whole thing, making sure every bit of the flesh side is covered. The salt will draw out moisture and make the environment inhospitable to the kinds of organisms that would want to eat the hide. (Salt can be re-used, too.)
  4. Let the hide dry for at least a couple days. A rabbit hide should end up dry enough to stay flat when you pick it up. However, a salted hide can stay that way for months and months—it will be preserved and nothing will eat it as long as it stays dry. It just won’t be nice supple leather until the following steps.
  5. Scrape off the salt and soak the hide in fresh, warmish water. Don’t remove the hide from the water until it is soft everywhere.
  6. Tan Your Hide

    Tan any home-raised animal hide! Available at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio and at Lehmans.com.

    Squeeze the water out of the hide and stretch it in every direction. The skin is made up of overlapping and intertwining fibers that go every direction, so in order to have a supple finished product, we need to make sure that the hide gets stretched in every direction.

  7. Mix a solution of egg yolks and water. For a rabbit fur, I use one egg yolk and about a half cup of water.
  8. Rub the egg yolk solution into the softened hide. The oil from the egg yolks is going to keep the hide soft, when it coats all the fibers in the skin. The water is just the vehicle for getting it to penetrate the skin.
  9. Work the hide—that is, stretch it in all directions—until it dries. You’ll start by squeezing any excess egg solution out, and then you’ll stretch it, bit by bit, with your hands. Rabbit skin is very thin, and it’s easy to tear holes in it.  It’s not the end of the world—your first tanning is always an experiment. The hide is dry when it is no longer cool to the touch—it’ll take several hours, and is more quickly done close to a heat source. If you stop stretching the hide before it is completely dry, it will end up hard and not supple.
  10. Re-egg as necessary! The great thing about tanning is that it’s fairly forgiving. If your end product is hard, just do it again and incorporate what you’ve learned into the second time around.
  11. Smoke the hide. Once it is soft and supple, your hide is finished but not weatherproof. Smoking it creates a chemical reaction that will preserve it much better in the long run.  You can smoke the hide over a smoky fire with a skirt around it.  (Disclaimer: I haven’t done this part yet. I’m waiting for spring and a big batch of hides to smoke them all at once!)

So there’s hide tanning! In my experience, you can read about it all you want online, but in the end it makes the most sense to just try one. Once you’ve tried, you will understand the textures that have been described, and the pitfalls. Jobs that involve hand work are best learned by hand work. And when I have access to hides and a willingness to learn a new craft, there’s no excuse not to do it!

Retail Therapy On The Cheap Spurs Creativity

Amish-Made Towel Holders

Amish-Made Towel Holders

I sometimes hear my friends talk about retail therapy, the act of going shopping to ease them out of a funk. I will confess that it doesn’t usually work for me. In fact, it’s just the opposite. If I impulsively purchase something of limited value, I feel terrible. It feels as though I have traded my life’s energy for nothing. It’s disrespectful to me and to the limited resources available to all of us.

Recycled Glass Tumblers

Wine bottles are upcycled into adorable tumblers! At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio or at Lehmans.com.

A bargain, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. I love getting a great deal on something I know I will use all the time or a tool that will make my life easier.

I enjoy the hunt, the sorting through piles of junk at a swap meet or carefully examining a rack of sweaters for the red cashmere twin set that I have been coveting. I also love looking for something that has upcycling, refurbishing or repurposing potential.

The weather here has been just dreadful. It’s twenty below zero one day and raining the next. Continue reading

Connie’s Coverlet Is Warm Tale For Stormy Days

One of our bloggers, Connie, is a brilliant fiber artist. Recently, she sent us pictures of a coverlet that she wove over the summer. It’s gorgeous, and she even shares pattern notes! It was a really special project for her, and in the end, a family member was suprised and overwhelmed.

See the entire story and wonderful photos here on her blog, Ash Lane Farm: Home Of The Spinning Grandma!

Brook's orange peel3

Here’s a peek at the start of her Orange Peel Coverlet–click to her blog to see the whole story.

How To Make a Rag Rug

I was in a large department store recently and saw a huge display of rag rugs – in coordinated colors throughout. They were tightly woven and machine stitched into place, perfect row after perfect row. They were pretty, yes. But there was not a real rag in the whole place.

I can hear you laughing. Of course there were no rags! No one makes rugs out of rags! Rags are for the trash; you buy real cloth to make rugs.

That’s where authentic rugs came from, right? I mean, no one would ever have made rugs from ragsContinue reading