Christmas Unwrapped

Hi. My name’s Daisy, and I don’t do wrapping paper. I have a problem in general with single-use items. Plastic grocery bags, plastic spoons, straws, the works. I’m constantly working at eliminating or at least minimizing the impact we have on the planet.

Back to wrapping paper. It’s single-use at its worst. I was almost excited when I saw a post from the county’s Recycling and Solid Waste’s Facebook page.

I can hear you now. “Recycling and Solid Waste? She saw something exciting on the garbage department’s Facebook page?” 

Take a look. Here’s a quote.

Avid recyclers know that wrapping paper and tissue are not accepted in our local recycling program. Local paper mills that recycle the paper we sell them ask us not to accept wrapping paper. 

Do I need to go into the reasons? Okay, I didn’t think so. This totally supports my philosophy on wrapping paper. Which is…

  • I won’t buy it. It’s a waste of money and a waste, period.
  • I will, however, reuse wrapping paper. I’m one of those people: I unwrap gifts carefully and set aside the paper for reuse.
  • I reuse gift bags multiple times.
  • That tissue? I reuse it, too. When it’s no longer in good enough shape to stuff a gift bag, I use it to cushion ornaments and decorations when we put them away.

And so it goes, my friends and family. I am a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to wrapping paper. I love Christmas, I do. But where commercial wrapping paper is concerned, I’m the Grinch.

40 Bags in 40 Days

Final Jeopardy Category was Religion. The answer read, “Famous Catholics who’ve publicly answered this question include Susan Boyle (sweets) & Paul Ryan (beer).” The question?

“What are you giving up for Lent?” Of course. Now if you’re not Catholic (I’m not), Lent might not be a time of personal sacrifice. In Wisconsin, Lent might be an opportunity to find the best Friday Fish Fries.

Let’s go a different angle on the “giving up” philosophy. I’ve been slowly and steadily de-junking and de-cluttering our home. My process is fairly simple. I keep an old, worn out laundry basket in my closet, and every time I find something to donate to a thrift store, it goes in the basket. When the basket is full, I take inventory and go to a donation site. The basket doesn’t come home, either – it was worn out or breaking apart, anyway.

I saw the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge and thought, “Sure, why not? This will speed up the process of what I’m already doing. Maybe my blogger and reader friends would like to join in, too.” So just in case you’re interested, here are the main links.

Here’s the basic explanation.

You can also like or follow her Facebook page.

Rather than throw out or donate a full bag each day, I’m either throwing something away, tossing a stack into the donation basket, or setting aside something for a potential summer garage sale. No matter what, the “something” will be significant. A tiny key ring or scarf will not be enough to qualify. Can the significance be emotional rather than size? Maybe. I’ll see how it goes.

I started today by sorting through a basket of linens I bought at an online estate auction. The napkins I’ll keep. The bandannas from various fundraisers will go in the donation basket. The basket itself will go out in the sale in June. The scarves? I don’t know yet. I might run them through the laundry and then decide if I’ll wear them, sell them, or send them off in the basket.

I’m not ending with a question for you, readers, not this time. I’m asking myself: can I make it? My prediction is yes. After all, I’m still making room for all the canning jars I bought a few months ago.

Jar Variety

The batch of jars from a recent estate auction contained some interesting variations in size and shape. Several were the basic half-pint jelly jar size and design. Some were different.

Milk bottle, perhaps?

Milk bottle, perhaps?

Old fashioned lid - slightly odd shape

Old fashioned lid – slightly odd shape

Some had the word “freezer” embossed on them. Most were Ball; a few said Kerr. Two or three lids, the solid gray lids – does anyone know what they’re made of? I’ve seen lamps and hanging lights made from jars with this type of lid, so I’m not quite ready to throw them away.

For now, I’m sorting and storing those that are clean and suitable for food storage. The others might become…well, who knows? It’s all part of the fun of finding and procuring and using old jars.

Fun with Canning Jars

The project started like this.

Jars from estate auction

Jars from estate auction

Then we gave the dishwasher a try.

They all fit!

They all fit!

Almost all came out clean. Those that didn’t, well, I might scrub or soak them, or I might just use them for something other than food preservation.

Then we visited one of my favorite vintage and antique stores. I saw all kinds of ways to use canning jars – other than canning.

What is the candle sitting in? More wax?

What is the candle sitting in? More wax? I have marbles. I could do the one on the left.

Simple. Clean them up, surround them with greenery.

Simple. Clean them up, surround them with greenery.

And people are charging amazing amounts of money for these. To give you an idea, the two blue jars surrounded by pretty green decorative wreaths were priced at about the same amount of money that I paid for the entire table full (see top of post).

I can do this. The only question is – will I do it? Will I make the time to do it?

Stay tuned, readers. Daisy has a project in mind.




Top shelf, left to right: salsa; jams and jellies galore.

Lower shelf, left to right: applesauces (in at least three variations); juice concentrates; pickles, dill and sweet.

Expanding to a second set of shelves

Expanding to a second set of shelves

Bottom shelf: canning pots and a pretty blue aluminum stock pot.

Middle shelf: tomatoes; more tomatoes; enchilada sauce; tiny jars of jellies and jams, perfect for gift giving.

Top shelf: apple preserves (a.k.a. pie filling), more applesauce, and pear sauce.

Highest shelf: old laptop computers. This will eventually (hopefully) get cleared off and ready for more canned goods. Next year. Maybe.

This used to house small containers.

This used to house small containers.

Now it’s tomato sauce, tomato sauce, and more tomato sauce.

But where did I put the awkward and odd shaped small containers?

In my older, worn canner and a spare I picked up thrifting.

In my older, worn canner and a spare I picked up at a thrift store.

There you have it, folks. Storage, Daisy style. One problem: I don’t have room for the empty jars. Not that many jars are empty at the moment.

The Search for the Perfect Pot

Stock pot, that is. For cooking. And canning. You didn’t think I was aiming my gardening talents in a new direction, did you?

I have an ordinary kitchen stock pot. It’s a good size, heats up evenly, and cleans fairly well, too. BUT – the nonstick coating is wearing through. I don’t really know what the coating is or was, whether it’s toxic or fine, just fine. I’ve made many, many jams and jellies in it. Now that the underlying material is showing, I don’t know if it’s safe for canning anymore. So let’s look at the rest of my stock (pun intended) in the basement.

To the right of my hot water bath canners...

To the right of my hot water bath canners are two other pots.

The one in front, next to the bright blue, heats quickly: too quickly. It allows applesauce or pear sauce to burn to the bottom of it before the mix boils down, and that’s not a good trait. It may be aluminum, too, which would take it out of the “non-reactive” category most canning requires. Lovely though it is, this pot might go to the thrift store with the next donation batch.

I found the bright blue in a second hand store. It heats quickly and evenly. It has thick sides that keep the heat in, and I haven’t burned anything in it – yet. BUT – this lovely stock pot has a few weaknesses, too. The handles heat up, which means hot pads on both hands whether I’m stirring or lifting or dumping. It’s nonmagnetic (except for the handles), meaning it’s most likely aluminum, too. #*@&!

I won’t even analyze the cast iron Dutch oven. We love it, but it’s heavy and it can be difficult to clean. I season it every time I use it, hoping the cast iron will eventually have just the right coating. Cast iron, like aluminum, is also reactive.

So, my friends, there you have it. The search, so far unsuccessful, for the perfect stock pot. When I find the perfect match, I’ll use it for jams, jellies, butters (not you, Buttercup, so be quiet), pickles, salsas, and more.

Lots of Crocks – the results After

I have a 3 gallon Redwing stoneware crock that I bought at an antique mall. I also found a very large (6 gallon, I estimate) that had a huge crack in it. I caulked the crack in the crock, and then set it aside. I plan to plant in both crocks. You can see the #3 at the back of the table.


the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

Here’s the “before” picture outside on the deck in better light.

Here they are in the sunshine.

Here they are in the sunshine. Some are in better shape than others.

And now, the “After” picture. I was pleasantly surprised with the condition after cleaning. Most were just dirty, not damaged.



Readers, I’m thinking of planting chives in the #2, and maybe succulents in the cheese and butter crocks. What do you think?


Crocks for Planting: The Auction Chapter

I have a 3 gallon Redwing stoneware crock that I bought at an antique mall. I also found a very large (6 gallon, I estimate) that had a huge crack in it. I caulked the crack in the crock, and then set it aside. I plan to plant in both crocks.

I lost out on a few crocks in online auctions, and I was bummed. Then I saw a generic label of “Lots of Crocks” in another auction. On closer examination, I recognized that one was a 2 gallon Redwing crock, dirty and possibly cracked. The others might or might not be good enough to use as planters along with those I already had, but it was worth a try.

Yesterday I brought them home.

the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

You can’t get a good look at them in the dark garage, so I moved them outside for some natural light.

Here they are in the sunshine.

Here they are in the sunshine. Some are in better shape than others.

Kaukauna Cheese!

Kaukauna Cheese!

Did it cost one dollar and 59 cents, or one and 59/100 of a penny?

Did it cost one dollar and 59 cents, or one and 59/100 of a penny?

Butter from Sheboygan; and a lot of stain or rust.

Butter from Sheboygan; and a lot of stain or rust.

And finally, the crock that led me to bid on this lot.

And finally, the crock that led me to bid on this lot.

My plan: with baking soda and salt, perhaps a vinegar/water rinse, and a lot of bow grease, I’ll see how these pretty little crocks clean up. Then I’ll decide what to plant in each one. Chives might do well in the #3.

What do you think, readers? Do you think these crocks have a future? Do you have advice for cleaning them?

Fun with Planters

Folks who’ve been reading me for a while might remember that I had a papasan turned planter in my front yard. I now have a new-to-me papasan and a few more goodies.

Fun with flowers!

Fun with flowers!

On the table: a few herbs and an experiment: hula berries.

On the ground: purple hued grasses, hopefully due to grow taller. In front, the puppy with geraniums in place of doggie dishes. The puppy (a thrift store fun find) has faded in the years I’ve had him/her in the rock garden, but it’s always fun to find a pot or two to display in the pup. The other pot on the ground is actually a wooden bucket surrounded with what looks like bamboo or rattan. I picked it up at a rummage sale and thought it might look good next to the papasan. The table, with its rattan trim, came from the same sale.

I think this scene, so to speak, will evolve as the plants grow. I’ll share, I promise!

Election on the way: Paranoia Sets In

Maybe it’s Trump. Maybe it’s the dystopian novels I read so often. My inner paranoid streak or doomsday prepper is begging to get out and take action.

Here’s an example. Trump claimed today that if he carries Wisconsin in the primary, he’ll go to a Packer game in the fall. Does he have any idea how hard it is to get tickets? Or how long the waiting list is for season tickets? Never mind. Don’t answer that.

Our primary election is next week Tuesday. The airwaves are full of campaign ads. The one that makes me slap my forehead and shout “Doh!” is Ted Cruz’ commercial that announces he is the only one who can beat Trump. “Do the math!” the announcer demands while showing a bar graph. Frankly,  the best candidate to beat Donny Boy isn’t on the same primary ticket. Do the math? Someone forgot a variable.

I spent a bundle to restock our medicine cabinet with supplies for spring allergy season. It was costly. It would be more costly if I hadn’t stocked up and had needed a last-minute run to the store. By planning ahead, I was able to use two coupons and buy generic store brands. When all the allergic folks start breaking out in sneezes and wheezes, the shelves will be empty except for the expensive varieties.

I’ve used up the corn in the freezer. If we want corn, we’ll have to buy it from the store. We have one container of peas left, and several of beans (green and yellow). We salvaged the last two squash from the basement and noted that next year we need to cook them sooner, not later. I guess the vegetable of choice for the time being will be beans. As the summer arrives, I’ll put up more corn, an equal amount of peas, and beans? Let me think about it.

Meanwhile, I’m hearing about schools getting budgets zapped, stripped to the bone. Layoffs are rampant. My job is fairly secure, at least for the time being. I just did a promo for open enrollment a few days ago. Maybe it’ll help keep our enrollment up.

But when I go in to vote on Tuesday, I’ll have all of these issues on my mind – and more. All politics may be local, and it’s also personal. Very personal. Do I need to stock up on toilet paper? Build a chicken coop? Hide my retirement fund in a mattress?

Readers, help me silence my inner doomsday siren. Promise me you’ll do the most important prep of all: you’ll vote.