Experimenting with Mason Jar Salads

During the summer, I crave salads of all kinds. Discovering the trend of Mason Jar Salads or Salad in a Jar was like a godsend for my summer work lunches. These have been all over Pinterest lately. They caught my attention because they looked like an effective way to bring an interesting salad without having a lunchbox full of separate containers for each ingredient. — So, I had to do an experiment to see if these salads in a jar would actually work.

One of my mason jar salads

One of my mason jar salads

I didn’t go out and buy mason jars. I live in the South and I’m crafty – I just used spare mason jars that I had hiding out in my kitchen. A lot of blogs posts about these salads marvel at how cheap these jars are. Yes, you can get a dozen for approximately $10.00 – but make sure that you pick up a set with both jars and lids. From my experience, the jars and the lids are usually sold separately.

Most of the salad in a jar recipes called for quart mason jars. Using a quart mason jar for a salad just seemed like a little much to me (that is 4 cups of salad!); instead, I used pint mason jars (only 2 cups of salad). After eating my very filling mason jar salads, I cannot imagine having a quart jar full of salad for lunch.

From jar to bowl - and only two cups

From jar to bowl – and only two cups

I made each of my salads the night before but supposedly, these can be made days in advance if you layer correctly. Based on my experiment with these salads, I would only make a lot in advance if you have very fresh ingredients.

How to Layer Your Jar Salad

The key to these salads is to keep the greens separate from the liquid or dressing. The Skinny Mom’s Kitchen suggests giving the jar a quick wipe with a paper towel and completely drying all ingredients before you start to assembly (to reduce the liquid in the jar). Try to not get the dressing on the sides of jar – or your salad will wilt before you eat it.

This helped me a lot in making my salads in a jar.

The basic layering of the salad in the jar is dressing, hearty bits, lighter bits, and greens on top. The Paleo Mama blog suggested that cut tomatoes should be at the bottom of the jar due to their higher water content — which worked perfectly! Whatever you put near the dressing, be prepared to have it marinated in the dressing. I had to push my cut tomatoes into the dressing to get enough lettuce for a healthy salad. A few blogs have the lighter bits (such as nuts, seeds, or cheese) on top of the greens, but I like the look of having those ingredients just below the greens.

None of the blog posts that I found mention cutting your greens prior to putting them into the jars.  However,  if you cut your greens, then you can put more into the jar and get a fuller salad.

Once you finish layering your jar, you store it up-right in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat it.

My Experiment Experience

By using the pint jars, I didn’t have any difficulty in getting the jars to stay up-right in the commute to work. The pint jars are small enough to fit into a lunch bag and still have room in the bag for dessert.

I didn’t notice any texture or flavor issues. By making the salads each night, nothing stayed too long in the dressing. I didn’t have any issues with the bacon but I made sure to place it closer to lettuce than the dressing. I like chewy bacon and my bacon seemed to stay chewy.

I didn’t use any recipes for my salads. I just layered whatever sounded interesting each day. Of my more interesting combinations, I ended up with a caesar turkey club and southwestern turkey salad.

My favorite part of these salads is pouring them out into a bowl at lunch. Due to the layering, the salads look like something you would get at a restaurant. It wouldn’t be impossible to eat the salad out of a wide mouth jar but I prefer eating it out of a bowl. To ease the hassle of carrying two containers for your salad, you could buy some paper bowls to keep at work.

Absolutely delicious!

Absolutely delicious!

Advertisements

Breakfast Miracle or The One Where I Invent a Recipe

The other morning, I was craving something easy for breakfast that Z didn’t have to cook – and I thought of a pinterest recipe that I saw a few months ago with a bacon cup. However, I couldn’t find the recipe that morning [or since then] and ended up producing this breakfast miracle.

Breakfast Miracle!!!

Ingredients

  • Bread slices, toasted [One slice makes two]
  • Uncooked bacon sliced [I used center cut bacon]
  • Shredded cheese
  • Eggs
  • Canola spray
  • Optional: Salt, pepper, or chives
  • Muffin tin
  • Small cookie cutter

Directions

  1. Using a small cookie cutter, cut out toast.  Pre-heat oven to 350-400.
  2. Spray the inside of the muffin tins and place a toast cut out into the muffin tin.

    Toast First …

  3. Wrap bacon around the edges of the muffin tin.

    Bacon next …

  4. Add cheese to the toast.

    Ignore the blurry cheese

  5. Crack one egg into each muffin tin.  Add cheese and any other optional ingredients.

    Everything else pre-baking …

  6. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Serve with coffee and OJ.

Z and I were treated to one amazing breakfast that I could eat without silverware.  I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.

Crafting: Vintage Bridal Shower Decorations

Apron Garland

I am in charge of the organization for a bridal shower. After the theme of vintage kitchen/aprons and the color scheme of red, orange, & blue were chosen, the best part was getting decorations ready.

The inspiration for this project came from a Craftster post. I knew immediately that it would be perfect for the shower.

What I used:

  • Decorative Cupcake liners, folded in half
  • White Cupcake liners, folded in half
  • White Mini-cupcake liners, folded in half
  • White Cardstock
  • Blue letter stickers
  • Ribbon cut into 2 inch pieces
  • Hot Glue gun

What I did:

  1. Build your aprons. I used one decorative liner with two white liners underneath and two mini liners on top. If you use stickers on the aprons, put the stickers on at this stage.

    Bride To Be

  2. Cut out the bodice of the apron from the cardstock. I cut one piece of cardstock in the shape of a hourglass and then folded the cardstock in half.

    Cardstock and ribbon

  3. Hot glue the cardstock together with the ribbon ends between the cardstock.
  4. Hot glue the inner liners to the outer liners. The best way is to put the hot glue on the edge of the liner fold and insert one liner into another.

    Separate the Liners

    Hot glue liner to liner

    After the apron liner is glued, glue the dress liners

  5. Hot glue the bodice to the decorative liner.

    Almost there …

  6. Hot glue the mini liners on top of the bodice glued to the decorative liner. I only put glue in the area of the liner that would have been the base of a cupcake.
  7. Enjoy the beautiful vintage decorations.

    Ta-da!!

Sweetgum Holiday Wreath

My mom used to change the Christmas holiday decorations every year.  Every year, there was a new theme with new homemade decorations.  It appears that I have the same condition.

Last year, I made an amazing Paper Cone Christmas Wreath.  However, I saw this wreath from Martha Stewart and had to make something similar. I gathered as many sweetgum balls as I could from those that fell on our balcony [I refused to pick any off the ground due to the neighbors with dogs].  I ended up with 2 gallon-sized freeze bags full of sweetgum balls and this beautiful wreath.

My sweetgum ball holiday wreath

What I used:

  • 10 inch straw wreath
  • 2 gallon-sized freeze bags full of sweetgum balls
  • Floral wire cut in 1.5 to 2 inch pieces
  • 2 cans of metallic gold spray paint
  • 1 container of coarse glitter
  • 2 inch wide ribbon
  • Hot Glue gun
  • Optional: latex gloves for spray painting

What I did:

  1. Cut off the sweetgum ball stems. Hot glue one piece of floral wire into one of the sweetgum ball holes.  Let dry.

    Sweetgum balls with floral wire

  2. In a ventilated and prepared area, spray paint the sweetgum balls.  Sprinkle glitter on a portion of the balls immediately after they are spray painted.

    Spray paint & glitter

  3. Spray paint the wreath.  This ensures that any holes from the placement of the sweetgum balls will not look awkward.
  4. Insert the floral wire into the wreath.  Be careful when you do this or the wire will bend.  Bent floral wire is harder to insert into the straw wreath than straight wire.  I only inserted sweetgum balls into the front of my wreath to ensure that it hung flat against the door.

    Almost complete

  5. Hot glue ribbon to the back of the wreath.  Let dry.

    Ribbon mission complete!

  6. Hang and enjoy!

    Glitter, gold, and red make for a beautiful holiday season!

    Hipstamatic Print of the Sweetgum Ball Wreath

DIY: Valentine’s Day Wreath

After making a unique wreath for Christmas, I wanted to make something adorable for other holidays. This is our Valentines Day wreath.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Materials Needed:

  • Size 2 knitting needles
  • A frame
  • Ribbon (any variety, any size – you pick)
  • Pink or Red worsted yarn (I used Loops & Threads Impeccable Solids in Rogue and some yarn from Cosymakes Knitting Kits)
  • Black  worsted yarn (at least 24 inches in length)
  • Embroidery floss in the desired eye color
  • Yarn needle
  • Batting (Poly Fil)
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun

Preparing for Hot Glue

Directions:

  1. Remove any backing or glass from the frame. Make sure that everything is removed  so that the frame will lay properly on the door or wall.
  2. Knit 2 hearts using Anna Hrachovec’s free heart pattern and size 2 knitting needles.  You must make 4 sides for 2 hearts.  Do not felt these pieces.

    One heart down, One heart to go

  3. Sew the hearts together and stuff with batting.
  4. Embroider eyes as desired.  I used the Japanese anime style of happy eyes and used our eye colors to designate us.

    Blue eyes for me, Brown eyes for Z

  5. Thread your yarn needle with black yarn.  Insert the needle into one heart just a little below the eyes and push the needle through.  These will be the arms for the hearts.  Cut the yarn with a very long tail.
  6. Repeat #5 for the second heart.
  7. Knot the ends of the black yarn between the hearts. Determine the amount of hang you want between the hearts when the wreath is hanging.
  8. Hot glue the other end of the black yarn to the  frame.
  9. At this point, practice hanging the wreath to see how your hearts will hang.  If needed, hot glue the hearts to the frame.
  10. Hot glue the ribbon to the frame.
  11. Let cool, hang, and enjoy!

    Ta-da! Cooling down before hanging!

    A bit blurry, but shows the effect

    Hipstamic View of the Wreath

     

Christmas Crafting: Ornaments

Usually around Christmastime, I don’t decorate a lot, but this year, I was bitten by the holiday bug.

Exhibit A: Our Paper Cone Christmas Wreath.

Exhibit B: Our 6.5 foot Christmas tree.

Undecorated Christmas tree

This tree is pretty old and has some branches that aren’t quiet connected like they should be … but this is the first traditional Christmas tree that I or Zach has had in years.

Exhibit C: Crafting ornaments.

Homemade Musical Ornaments

These ornaments are not based on any other design in particular.  They are just something that I decided to experiment with after I put up the Christmas tree.

What you need:

Ingredients for Ornaments

  • Sheet Music (3-5 pages depending on how many ornaments you want to make)
  • Craft glue
  • Small cookie cutters
  • Cardstock in your colors of choice
  • 1/4″ inch ribbon
  • Scissors

How to do it:

  1. Pick out your cookie cutters and trace them on to your sheet music.

    Ready for tracing

  2. Cut out the design.

    Christmas tree ornaments ready for cutting

  3. Flip your cookie cutters over and trace the design on to your cardstock.  Cut out the design.

    Trace again

    There should be a little extra cardstock on the sides of the sheet music

  4. Cut a length of ribbon to hang your ornaments.
  5. Glue the sheet music to the cardstock with the ribbon in between them.

    Almost finished ...

  6. Let completely dry and decorate your tree!

    Ta-da!!

    The tree topper is simply a free-handed star cut from two pages of sheet music and glued together.

    The other ornaments are gold bells with red ribbon.

    Bells and Ribbons

    The best part about these decorations is that I didn’t have to buy anything!  I already had everything that I used on the tree!

     

Paper Cone Christmas Wreath

Sharing a home with Z makes me want to do all of the traditional holiday decorating that I have been bypassed for the past few years.  So, finding the perfect Christmas wreath for the apartment was easier than I expected.  I had narrowed the wreath choices down to two paper wreaths (one using book paper and one using sheet music).  Z was floored when I showed him the sheet music wreath (probably because he is a musician).

The Etsy wreath made by RoseFlower48

I decided that the same effect could be done cheaper than buying the one on etsy.  So I purchased 50 vintage pages of sheet music from LoveDove Trading on Etsy and the tutorial began.

Our Finished DIY Paper Cone Christmas Wreath

What I used:

  • Pages of Sheet Music (I used approx 25 pages)
  • Craft Glue or E6000 (hot glue could be used as well)
  • 2 inch wide ribbon
  • Cardboard circle base
  • Cardstock
  • Stamp and stamp ink
  • Embossing glitter
  • Embossing gun
  • Optional: ribbon

What I did:

  1. In order to get proper paper cone shapes, I cut the sheet music to 8.5″ x 8.5″.

    Sheet Music

    Sheet Music should be cut into 8.5" x 8.5" squares

  2. Start making cones out of the sheet music squares using glue on the outer corner to seal and hold the shape. Be prepared to make several trial cones to get the right size.  The size of the cones will determine how many you will need for your wreath. As I made the cones, I placed each in a circle so that I would know when to stop.  If you use vintage paper, be very gentle because the paper will  tear in this process.  Do not fold vintage paper unless you want it to tear.

    Prepping the Paper Cone Wreath

  3. At this point, I used a Dos Equis box to get a circle cardboard base.  I used a regular cd to get the basic shape and size.

    Cardboard base cut

  4. To maintain the shape of the wreath,  I placed glue all over one side of the cardboard base and then began placing the paper cones in groups.

    After the gluing process

  5. After forming the wreath shape, I cut a cd sized circle from the cardstock paper.
  6. Taking a holiday stamp that I used on our Christmas cards last year, I stamped the center of the cardstock and poured gold embossing glitter over the top.  Be use to shake the excess glitter off before you emboss it (or you will get the excess embossed glitter like I did).
  7. Emboss the stamp.  Be careful how close you hold the embossing gun to the paper.
  8. Glue a short ribbon to the cardstock (or whatever you desire) and glue the cardstock circle to the wreath center.

    Close up of the center design

  9. To hang the wreath, I glued the longer length of ribbon to the cardboard base and up one of the paper cones for added support.
  10. Wait for the glue to completely dry. Decorate your door, home, or office.

    Waiting for the Glue to Dry

Finished and Hanging on Our Door

The total project took me roughly 3 hours (not including time spent waiting for the glue to dry completely or time spent watching Z play Kirby’s Epic Yarn while crafting).  Using the sheet music cut to 8.5″ x 8.5″ resulted in a wreath that is about 22-23 inches wide.