Shine a little light

IMG_0437Decided to join the fray and tackle my own set of Mason Jar Solar Lights using Walmart 99 cent solar lights (folks also use Dollar General and such lights). The bottom just pulls off the purchased lights easily. For Mason Jars, Classico spaghetti sauce comes in a mason jar – although where and when you got it means a different size jar. The grocery store has the new smaller one on the left above and the standard mason jar lid no longer fits that narrow one. The middle is the size it was forever and the big ol one on the right is a new bigger size in the Costco 3 pack they started last year – wider jar but still fits the basic mason jar lid.

I’d spied a few versions running about on Pinterest and tweaked the concept to get something I like. For a good tutorial, start with the This Old House version. I can never let anything be simple enough, so instead of the acrylic they used, traced the solar charging cell’s top square opening on a piece of paper, cut that out and drew it on each lid, then dragged out my Dremel tool to cut into the lid (with my handy safety glasses as I don’t need bits of metal in my eye, thank you very much). I just cut an opening – if you don’t go really slow there are sparks, so after I had an opening in the lid I used my meal snips to cut out the rest of the square. Spray painted the lids black.

Got out the E6000 glue and put a bit around the inside of the lid where the square cut is – I want to glue the lights but not get the glue over the solar panel. Craft wire is wrapped tightly around then lid, then heavier copper wire from Lowes (#6, the same that I used for the bird feeders) makes a lovely hanging loop. Pliers will help you get that loop tight and clean looking AND you do need good wire cutters to cut through the number 6 copper.

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I decided to leave the plastic light covers on to refract the light in the jars.13331116_1363113813704185_7424668232788152522_n

Pretty metal hanging hooks complete the look.

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I LOVE how bright these lights are at night! And, they are solar!! I have them on every other fence post and can now see across the yard easily even in the wee hours of the night (remember, rural here – we have a few bears, rather large mountain lion and other critters – if you hear a noise, so much safer to peer out than step outside with a flashlight!). Only one was dull and shut off earlier than the others – for the 99cents, I just replaced it. The next step I may need before the winter rains is to go over each one and coat the edge of the cut lid with a bit of outdoor silicone – otherwise, with a wet winter they could end up with a bit of sitting water in that spot. This is one project I highly recommend to those of you who enjoy crafting.

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sunday in My City – pop on in to see what other folks are up to when they have a bit of time off. 

Victory in a Jar

I enjoy writing. My days are spent in business where good business writing is concise, clear, three points, short words, never confuse anyone with multi-syllable words, descriptors are clutter to the message and sentences should be short. This is important with global audiences where English is a second language to many. For my blog, I love the freedom of “stream of consciousness” (sounds more intelligent than run on sentences, doesn’t it?) and like to push myself to remember simple things like adjectives and descriptors. When pondering terms to use for this post, antediluvian is what I settled on. It means “from the time before the biblical flood”. Marvelous word – don’t you think? Why is this post antediluvian? Because this post is about Mix in a Jar recipes.

Why victorious for my title? Because this mix in a jar recipe is sheer bliss once it’s made into a loaf. Victory, found what I needed, settled on my “theme” to work up (baskets, various wrapping ideas and the theme with another recipe in a future post; you may want to subscribe so you don’t miss it J  I will tell you that for folks I know, I like to include a baked version, plus the mix for them to make and enjoy again later ). If there were blog police, I think they should go after anyone who posts mix in a jar recipes and hasn’t actually made and eaten them or has not posted pics of the finished cooked/baked product. I want to know there’s firsthand experience and what I’m gifting isn’t some gummy oily monstrosity once baked. So, I’m Maggie and I approve this recipe.

Sunset’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Quick Bread in a Bottle 

My slight variation, substitute some of the white flour with whole wheat and use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips:

Dried Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Quick Bread (or Raisin Walnut)

Layer:

 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries, lightly chopped (or raisins) 

Follow Sunset recipe for wet. For gifts I recommend you add the notation that 1 ½  TBL vinegar added to 1 ½ Cup milk can be substituted for the buttermilk (not everyone you gift may have it handy and although buttermilk would be a smidge better, this will still make a fine loaf). * Since originally posting this, I’ve become a fan of dry buttermilk (once the America’s test kitchen folks gave it their approval, I gave it a go. I now add the buttermilk powder to the dry and the corresponding amount of water to the wet. Follow instructions wiith the brand you get for amounts.

 At first I was very concerned. The batter seemed MUCH looser than most tea breads I make. I was reaching for the flour thinking just another ¼ cup but made myself resist as Sunset is usually pretty reliable. I truly had my doubts when putting these into the oven that they wouldn’t be a bit soggy. No worries – do not give in to the temptation to add flour, it bakes up beautifully.

 

 

As I’m testing out gifts, I thought about making the loaves just a tad easier to wrap by lining the pans with parchment (long side only see photo. I didn’t bother with the pan that was for me). As the cooking sprays come out pretty wet – I usually tip the pans over and let them drain a tad, figure the manufacturer doesn’t want any sticking, thus the heavy hand – I placed the parchment in the wet pan then turned it over so batter side had some of non-stick goo. I also sprinkled the tops with a light dusting of white sugar as I like the little extra crunch it gives the final product.

 

My smaller pans took about 40 minutes (I am in the mountains and seem to have to cook all baked goods a tad longer). 

Jars

I realized I wanted to do another wash of my jars (they’d gotten dusty), so you won’t see mine here. But they are something you can ready ahead of time. A nice add is to check the expiration on the flours you use and note that expiration date on the bottom of your recipe cards.  For jars, I use thoroughly cleaned Classico sauce jars (get the sauce in a 3 pack from Costco).  Yes, linking this post to food sites and I have jars of premade sauce confessed to in it. Just mush a few olives, capers and caper juice into it and it transforms. So, the jars – I like that the Kerr regular lids fit precisely and there are no vendor marks on the jars. You might have to use an adhesive remover to get the labels off. A final run through your hot dishwasher and your jars are probably more sterile than what you buy.  I know some paint and reuse the sauce lids, but new Kerr lids cost virtually nothing and take the package up a notch.

 

Wrap

 Experimenting with wrapping alternatives and found another keeper. These loaves can be boxed in one 8 ½ X 11 sheet of cardstock (U.S. Letter). My example is showing you only the cardstock “plain” (having guests for U.S. Thanksgiving and am not dragging out the Christmas stuff yet). Crafters reading this post will realize the decorating ideas are endless – they include paint (simply sponge or wash your holiday colors over the paper and let dry), rubber stamping, pen and ink, decoupaged tissue, composing whatever combo you like and running your sheet through your printer, purchased cardstock or downloadable sheet images. I used a heavier cardstock and scored all lines using a clean pan as my guide. No tape – the ribbon at the end holds it together. Plan to make and print round labels for the tops (something original like “From Maggie’s Kitchen” in holiday hues). I’ve scanned the folded one so that I can work the pattern in my design programs.

         

 Special thank you to ‘SnoWhite’ for featuring this post on her blog.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.