The Well Stocked Pantry and Repurposed Antiques

I love interesting furniture pieces.  These were cubbies in a hardware store in 1950.  I love the original stenciled numbers.  I bought it at an antique store ten years ago and it was the primary showpiece, holding my tincture bottles, in my shops.  It now holds a place in my kitchen.  I realize that it is getting really dingy looking.  Sixty-nine years of army green can only hold up for so long.  (Spoiler alert!  Next week I am revamping my kitchen.  Can you guess what color the cubbies are becoming?)  I just sold my Hoosier yesterday to make room for my new kitchen idea.  It held glasses and barware.  You can take any old piece and reimagine its purpose.

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I love this idea with the pantry items.  It looks fun and unique while being practical.  Things do tend to get lost in the back of the pantry or spoil.  I end up buying way too many of one thing over time, thinking I am out.  This is a great way to keep track of what pantry pulses I have on hand.  It makes grocery planning easy.  And it serves as dinner inspiration.  Choose a grain or legume, see what veggies I have on hand, think up a theme, and go!  Dinner is on.

Emergency Preparedness with Apple Juice Jugs (storing water)

Two dilemmas solved.

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This is the time of year for jugs of apple cider and apple juice.  I love apple juice and cider, but those glorious glass jugs in the recycling bin seem such a waste.  I will save a few for wine making next year but there will still be empty glass jugs.  Other glass containers make their way to the recycling bin too that could be reused for something.

There are a lot of natural disasters, big and small, when water is not available.  There could be issues with the water company; main breaks or other problems.  If you go and turn on the water and nothing comes out, well, you are going to panic.  That means no coffee, y’all, and that’s a real problem.  We want to be prepared for disasters.  We have lots of food put up, now we need water.

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Now, I tend to think big or nothing which keeps me from doing anything.  I don’t have large barrels of water nor a well with a hand pump, but I do have glass jars.  I have half gallon Ball jars, I have gallon apple juice jugs, and I have other glass containers that pass through the kitchen.  If I just fill those cleaned containers with water I will have emergency water started.

Sources say we ought to put up a gallon of water per day per person to last three to fourteen days.  Just in case.  Most of the sources I have read say to put bleach in the water.  Gross.  I have no desire to add bleach to my water.  There is already chlorine in the tap water so you can store that and it will keep bacteria out and you won’t have to think about it!  (Ignorance is bliss.)  Make sure you start with real clean jars.  Water your trees with the water and refill every six months or so.

Having some emergency water stored will give you a little more peace of mind.  That is the whole point of homesteading, even urban homesteading, peace of mind.

Farming by the Moon and Canning Jar Cloches

It is both exciting and daunting to be farming in a slightly different climate.  We went up one zone and added at least a month to our growing season.  I am attempting Brussels sprouts, artichokes, and sweet potatoes with my new found month.  It is quite hot here in the summer though so this is really all a big learning curve.  As soon as I thought I was pretty dang good at gardening, the new landscape will again be a firm teacher.

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I have been farming according to the Farmer’s Almanac and have been very intrigued by my findings.  As the moon is waxing the above ground crops are put in.  Promptly following the recommended days of planting were three days of rain.  As the moon was waning we planted our potatoes dutifully on the days specified and it was followed by rain.  The statistics and patterns of the earth’s cycles recorded for so very long make it pretty accurate to tell the weather and the best time to plant.  It is a nice way to up our odds in the garden.

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I started seeds in the special little plugs but ran out of money to get one size bigger and the plants were suffocating in their cramped quarters.  When I was speaking at the Sustainability Fair a few weeks ago a woman mentioned that she puts her tomato and pepper plants under canning jars for two weeks and that they do amazing.  “They don’t burn up?” I asked.  She was surprised herself.  She first put the seedlings under the canning jar cloches and forgot them.  When she came back from vacation two weeks later expecting the worst, they were blooming frantically and joyfully under their inexpensive greenhouses.  So, here I am with Brussels and artichokes and a bit early yet to actually put them out but this is all a lovely experiment anyways with these vegetables so let us try it.  Under the free cloches they went and I shall keep you posted on the findings!

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The Great Canning Jar (and all its many uses)

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Nancy sent me this picture.  How true!  Never have I loved a piece of homestead kitchen equipment more than a canning jar.  They are not just for canning, folks!  And for less than a dollar a piece new, free if you find the right person, dirt cheap at a garage sale, you have a heck of a worker.

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Yes, to start, the mighty canning jar is for, well, canning food.  There are over five hundred jars of delicious fruits and vegetables huddled together in my cool basement.  Which means that my grocery bill for vegetables and fruits for the remainder of the winter is about ten bucks a month.  Only because I love fresh cabbage sometimes, or I may run out of garlic.  These jars are truly amazing if you think about it.  They will hold their nutritious contents for me and not let anything happen to them for years if I needed them to.  Now, that’s an investment!

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I don’t have a pantry so I turned a circa 1950’s hardware shelf with cubbies into one.  It holds canning jars on their sides, their lids sticking out a bit with their contents labeled with a marker.  This sure beats my last method.  Pile all bulk bags, and boxes into a cupboard and hope I remember what is in there.  I can easily glance at the cubbies, see what is needed or what I have to make for supper.  The jars keep pests out like mill worms and mice….and the greyhound.  I store flour and larger quantities of pantry staples in larger canning jars.

I received my share of goat’s milk in them all summer.  Half a gallon Mason jars are great for storing milk, juice, or iced tea in.  We fill our half gallon jars up with water, honey, mint, and an iced tea bag, and take it with us to farmer’s markets and outings instead of tinny or plastic water bottles.

Pint or quart jars can be used for gift giving.  Fill with hot chocolate mix.  Or soup fixings.  Or on another note, how about sewing scissors, a cloth measuring tape, straight pins, a pattern, and some cute fabric for a beginning sewing kit.  Or paints and brushes.  Or dog treats.  How about bird seed?

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We use them to water plants, store leftovers instead of Tupperware, to hold our herbal medicines while they brew, our lotions are packaged in four ounce canning jars, and used to hold rubber bands, and odds and ends.  (The four ouncers are darling.)

So, next time you see canning jars, better grab them.  They are a great help to farmgirls everywhere.