3 things to do with glass jars

We’ve taken to reusing our glass jars out of necessity because our drinking glasses kept breaking. Jam jars, ball jars, and other random jars don’t break as easily and I’m a sucker for most anything in a miniature form. (Jam jars, check.)

learning how to make Italian Soda's

But then I was looking through my old pins and boards on Pinterest and came across this lovely idea.

I have those jars, too.

details of remodel

Currently housing my thank-you cards for easy access and a beautiful, texture filled display.

I’ve used this jar for years – it’s been filled with Fall Trail Mix, cookies for a bake sale, and homemade hot chocolate mix.

Fall Trail Mix!

Cookies, each sold seperately

Hot Chocolate

And any way, it got me thinking. I haven’t put plants in them yet. You guys, you can buy these jars (in different sizes) at Walmart (no this is not an ad).

Jar with lid at Walmart. Under $10

2 Gallon jar – $9.97

1 Gallon jar – $7.44

And we all love the Terrariums you see, but how easy is this? Stick a potted plant (even in a bowl) in this jar and it’s an instant center-piece. Did your Easter gathering just get interesting?

I think mine just did.

So, to recap because I used a number in the title of this post … here’s my 3 ways to use glass jars.

1) Store pretty textiles in them. Cards, paper, stationary. Tea towels, cheese cloth (or if you’re a cheesemaker, your own little haven of tools/special items), your fabric or knitting supplies.

2) Store foodstuffs! Any foodstuff will do. (I’m a sucker for layering color and texture, or very neatly stacked rows of miniature cookies.) ((Miniatures, it’s like catnip.))

3) OR! Make an indoor garden or fool-proof terrarium with out the mess.

When you’ve conquered your center-piece you can move on to this easy and adorable gift for the little bunnies in your life. I know I will.

Gimme s’more

GIMME s'more-ah that smoothie.

Here, we made you something.

There’s a skating party tonight (!!!) and that called for whirley-pop popcorn as an after-school snack and a chocolate shake. Only, we don’t have any ice cream. Or chocolate syrup.

So we made it up and it was goooooood.

delicious

Grab a couple banana’s, some crunchy peanut butter, nutella or hazelnut spread, a few ice cubes and a little coconut milk.

smoothie

Top it off with a small handful of mini-marshmallows and a sprinkle of chocolate chips or whatever you have on hand. Some whipped cream would be awesome, or nothing at all … and take a gulp.

smoothie

I closed my eyes and pretended I was barefoot on the grass and I could smell spring. It was probably the best idea I had all day.

Happy slurping.

How and why we’re doing a no-spend month.

I’ve casually mentioned the fact that we are doing a no-spend month on Instagram and gotten some questions about it. I planned to write a recap before the end of the year but thought I could tackle some of the FAQ’s here before the end of the month, while I’m still in the thick of it.

So, What exactly is a no-spend month?

To be overly simple, it’s a month with no extra spending. Keeping the lights on and food in our bellies isn’t part of the “No-November” for us. If we have a bill, we pay it. If we need groceries, we pick them up. If there was a pre-planned event, we attend. It’s not saying no to having fun or being social, it’s just taking a month to recalibrate and evaluate where the funds are going by stopping the flow of all the extra’s.

No coffee’s from Starbucks, no lunch dates or dinners out, no last minute “I’m bored” spending on the weekends. Just, not this month. Not right now. No.

I’ve read about something similar before, doing a spending-ban for a period of time and then Young House Love did a shopping ban for a month on home-related stuff and talked about it on their podcast this summer (or within the last year, I maybe just finally listened to them in the last few months). And that was definitely in the back of my head when coming up with the how’s and why’s for us, too.

Why November? Why now?

For us, it’s when we needed it. We had a couple home updates happen quicker than we anticipated them coming due, even though we were planning ahead for them and we knew the next few months there would be higher-than-normal spending in a few different areas. So, it was basically “can we do this” and “now seems like a good time to try.”

How are you getting your kids on-board with the idea? Are they participating?

The first couple weeks there was a lot of reminding them that this was No-November. As in, they would have ideas for things to do as a family (or even with a friend) and we would have to offer up alternatives because this month, we would remind them, we weren’t spending money on those kinds of things (We wouldn’t be paying for the trampoline park, bowling, going to movies, family dinner out or snacks from the gas station …). Which didn’t mean we couldn’t have any fun or go out or have a social life. It just meant we had to be a little more creative with how we did those things.

With our kids at ages 13 and 10, they get to decide whether or not their personal finances are something they’re limiting this month, as well. So, no, we aren’t making them do it. If they want to get fro-yo with a friend, they absolutely can … if they have the money to pay for it themselves.

This weekend we ventured out to a winter market downtown where we live – most of us just looked and enjoyed being out without buying anything or spending money, but our daughter wanted to purchase some small items, and she did. She was very pleased with her purchases and it was fun to watch her make those decisions with her money.

What are you doing, instead of what you normally would, to save money?

We are having so much fun! Instead of grabbing coffee at a coffee shop (save for Aaron, more on that soon) I’m inviting friends over or meeting up at a park with coffee from home and it’s been SO RICH. Instead of an annual shopping trip with my mom, this year, we did a game-day and baking-day at her house, and do all the shopping online with the help of coupons from the CouponsCollector site online. Instead of restaurant meals we hosted a game night with family & friends. Instead of buying holiday-themed items to decorate, I’m making what I can with what we have, like this wreath. I made it out of what we had laying around in the yard. All of it.

Wreath made from what we have laying around in the yard

Our daughter did a “Chopped Challenge” with a friend one weekend with items we had in our pantry or freezer that needed to be used instead of renting a movie. We are definitely going out on the weekends – we just go to look, if it’s a market or craft show, we go for hikes, we go for drives.

I mentioned earlier that Aaron is still getting his coffee at the coffee shop, here’s why: Monday-Friday this is a business expense but the weekends he still makes his daily stop at the coffee shop and I will never not let him do this. It’s one of the small joys that just doesn’t cost enough to say “we need to do without this” and the whole “No-November” isn’t really a challenge for him. He says no to himself and his wants almost exclusively.

How do you think you’ve done so far? Have you noticed a difference?

Honestly, it’s been fun and not that hard. Now – with that said, I think we probably will end the month spending more in groceries than normal because every. single. meal. is being made at home (maybe the hardest part for me). My kids eat hot lunch at school about 50% of the time between the two of them.

We’ve “messed up” a couple times, too. The very first day of November I went to lunch with a friend and the morning of our son’s 5K this month was a cold and blustery morning and we stopped for to-go coffees for my daughter and I to stay warm. The “whoopsies” totaled less than $30 all together.

I definitely think about what I’m buying, or about to buy, every time I’m standing in a check out lane. Grocery stores sell more than just groceries, which has been a weird loop-hole I keep finding myself in. Somehow I think I can justify extra’s if they end up on the grocery bill … but I think I’ve talked myself out of every one so far. Except for the special trips for the ingredients to queso. I don’t know what to tell you there. It’s probably filling the need I have for a trip through a drive-through or convenient food-grab.

What do you miss the most?

Clearly, I miss convenience. About once a week I would run through Jimmy Johns for an un-wich for lunch, and now I stare into my fridge hoping an arm will just extend with a ready-made option for me. I’m tired of making everything. And it’s been interesting to realize how often we would spend money before we’d think about other, possibly free, options.

However, I’m glad Aaron is usually up for my hair-brained ideas and there wasn’t any arm-twisting involved in setting this month up for success. If a month is too long for you to consider, try one weekend, one week or even something like Monday-Thursday of no spending at all.

If you try it, let me know how it goes for you! I’ll update this post at the end of the month with my final thoughts (and conclusion).

Fall Trail Mix [recipe]

You’re right, I’m hardcore ignoring the literal mountain of laundry to fold, the dinner that hasn’t made it in to the oven (yet is prepared) and a to-do list of emails, contracts, homework, work and other general life stuff to bring you this trail mix. I’m also ignoring the thousands of Spain photos I have to touch and the ginormous photo-storage problem I’ve accumulated over the last 7 years.

Because I have to start somewhere. And the trail mix won.

Fall Trail Mix!

You’ll need a few things:

Pretzels
Candy Corn
Sesame Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
M&M’s
Raisins

Fall Trail Mix!

I had a handy little 5-year old helping me draw, he traced a pretzel for you. He also ate the little pile of them. Research.

You could add other nuts but both kids have rules about tree nuts and peanuts in their classrooms so I left them out. Go crazy with the dried fruit, pineapple? DO IT. Make it to your liking, there are no rules.

I dumped everything in a huge bowl and stirred gently with a wooden spoon til combined then I dumped it right into my large canister (bought at Walmart. It was probably $12, I can’t remember.) and set it out on my counter. The kids can have it as a snack after school or in their lunch and it’s festive. When it’s gone, I’ll replace it with the Homemade Haut-Chocolate.

Enjoy!

Homemade haut chocolate.

haut

This homemade hot chocolate mix is a family favorite. We had it out at the Holiday Open House and I promised the recipe. A few of you went to the store that night 😉 (How’s it working out??)

hotchocolaterecipe

It’s a 4 ingredient winner every time.

homemadechocolate

I’m a good half way through my recipe for the year – when you first make it you’ll want the biggest bowl you own, then you’ll need to find a bigger one. This recipe will fill my glass jar almost to the top. Maybe 3/4 of the way … I bought the glass jar from Walmart and the scoop as well.

Then, you wait for the first snow storm of the year which will mean it’s a snow day.

snow day

And no you did not cry when your husband woke you up this morning with that news, you didn’t. You couldn’t have because all this snow and being stir crazy and stuck in a house with your kids for ANOTHER day is exactly what you wanted to do today. I promise.

You go ahead and prepare the water because when it’s ready – you pour. And everything will be ok.

add water

no you stop

You can add your favorite marshmallows and let them melt just so. Then you can pop the question.

hotchocolatevalentine

I’d say yes. Then we could wear fuzzy slippers in front of the fire while the snow falls outside.

You’re welcome.