jams across america: can-it-forward day is aug 13

canit

Can you can? Do you kick out the jam? Pickle some peppers? Or do you want to learn to preserve your garden bounty, but don’t know where to begin? Then tomorrow is your day, folks. National Can-It-Forward day is Saturday August 13, and FreshPreserving along with Canning Across America have organized a massive Seattle-based teaching event at Pike Place Market this weekend, — also live streaming from here all weekend at home-canning parties across the nation. Best part, it’s all free!

Last summer, I tried my hand at blackberry freezer jam, but it never set, so I wound up with 10 jars of delicious compote. This summer, I WILL succeed! Do you can? What’s your favorite thing to “put up”? — Megan B.

Jar photo courtesy of TheBittenWord on Flickr.

From our partners

easy diy: homemade sugar cubes

DIYsugarcubes

I came across a beginner level do-it-yourself on the adorable blog Nifty Thrifty Things: homemade sugar cubes. All you need is a little bit of time, sugar, water, and a cute candy mold or ice cube tray. Nifty Thrifty Things’ Vanessa used a heart shaped tray and was so pleased with the results, she promised to experiment with food coloring on her next go! Custom made sugar cubes are an easy, great looking addition to all those prim and proper wedding and baby showers you’ll have to throw this summer. Happy crafting! — Katie D.

From our partners

do you play summer yard games?

RLHyde Croquet Flickr

There’s nothing like a trip home to spark a fierce bout of nostalgia. This past weekend, a short visit to my parents’ out in the suburbs served not only as a brief respite from the congestion of the city, but also as an invitation for the most bittersweet of childhood nostalgias for this city girl: yard nostalgia. The wistful longing for summer nights spent running around barefoot on freshly cut grass. As kids my sister, brother and I would hang around outside with the neighborhood kids playing all sorts of yard games. A favorite was croquet. Even though we didn’t know the rules, we’d often get the set out and knock the bright balls around with the colorful mallets. Bocce was another we played, albeit with our own rules, that has become popular in the city, even with its lack of yard space. Some bars and apartment complexes have designated areas for the sport, but nothing compares to the beauty of an expansive yard in the summertime. If I had one, I’d be right back at it, and would love to introduce some giant, yard-approved versions of table games, like Jenga, which can be made according to this how-to at Instructables, or even this larger-than-life game of Scrabble, found at Sunset.com. Click here to read about an Ohio couple who made an even larger paver Scrabble board in their backyard. How cool is that? Readers, do you play summer yard games? — Sarah C.

photo by Flickr member RLHyde

From our partners

need creative packaging? sew some!

wrap1
wrap2

I had a lovely dinner party last month that included treats for each guest to take home – a trio of roasted and seasoned nuts. I packaged each one in a brown wax bag, tied each with cooking twine, and sealed with a little wax for a fancy touch. But I was at a loss as to what to put the individual packages in. My first thought was take-out boxes, but I couldn’t justify another $5 for a box that was going to be tossed out once opened. Ouch! Time to get crafty … I had a number of brown paper bags left from grocery shopping, and after a few trials I came up with a cute package that I felt good about giving. I cut open each bag and, to mask the fold lines, dampened each a little and crumpled them. (Dampening helps the paper to crumple easier). Then I smoothed, ironed on low, and cut two large rectangles out of each bag. I folded the rectangles in half, sewed on two sides, filled each with the packages of nuts, pinned shut the open side (but at 90 degrees from the first side) and sewed this end closed. Done! The brown paper was a nice complement to my rustic wax paper bags and sealing wax, and at no extra expense. Do you have any crafty wrapping solutions? — Rebecca F.

Photo credit: Rebecca Firlik

From our partners

easy diy: canvas drop cloth tablecloth

diy tablecloth
tablecloth done

I love the idea of using drop cloths in place of linen. Not only because I of the texture and color, but because fabric has become ridiculously expensive. To make a Provencal-inspired tablecloth, I bought a $9 canvas drop cloth. The painter’s tape and fabric paint I already had, I just need to mix to get a deeper red. You’ll also need a small tape measure and because the canvas resists moisture, a wallpaper tool or other straight edge to smooth down the tape as you paint. (You can see the tape starting to pop up in the first picture. As long as you work in sections and smooth down first, you shouldn’t get any bleed.) Once you measure out your lines, it goes quick. And since the ends are hemmed, I only needed to finish the edge I had to cut. All totaled? $9 for the cloth and about an hour of my time, which included fighting with the sewing machine. After the paint sets for three days, I’ll be able to back and iron and call the project truly done.

Other creative tablecloth ideas?
• Paint a train track down the middle and line up toy trains for a kid’s party.
• For a casual outdoor wedding or wedding shower, drape cloths over the front of a gift table, so that it touches the ground. In script, have the word “gifts” painted on the front.
• For a family reunion, arm everyone with a Sharpie and ask them to sign and write their name and add important dates.
• For Thanksgiving, have everyone write what they are thankful for on the cloth.

If you give this idea a go, remember to put a piece of cardboard or towel under your line. I found out just in time that the paint goes through. Other ideas? Let’s hear them. Add to comments. — Sarah L.

From our partners