Learning to Can, Part 2

This post is part of a series on teaching myself home canning. I decided to do this series in part because the reflection that’s part of learning is really interesting to me, and because I think it’s amazing the things we can teach ourselves when we’re dedicated to it!

Learning to Can, Part 2

So I shared a little while ago that my interest in home canning was connected to both health and a class.

I got this book and started taking notes. But as I tend to do, I got partway through the reading and just started doing it myself.

If you’re interested in home canning, I highly recommend that you don’t go that route because you can screw things up in a dangerous way. I realized that once I’d already kind of started doing things and had to go back to my original plan.

I picked up what’s called a water bath canner at a hardware store. I recommend getting the kit because a) it’s cheaper and b) it’s – legit – everything you need.

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It turns out that home canning is super easy. Basically you fill up a bunch of jars with natural foods that you’ve made, boil them and then wait until you hear them seal. That’s it.

The tricky part is cooking large volumes and knowing the correct duration to process them for (“process” here means heat in the water bath canner). This is why a book is helpful.

I learned how to make Bread and Butter Pickles for my first round of canning!

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Y’all – they were not hard at all. You just chop cucumbers and onions, mix them in a bowl with pickling salt and cover them in ice for a few hours. Then, you mix up some vinegar and spices, bring it to a boil, add the cucumber/onion mix and voila! Pickles!

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I’ll keep you posted on what other kinds of things I test out. This summer I’m hoping to make a red spaghetti sauce, a jam and some apple butter.

D’s brother-in-law has a garden growing, so I want to learn how to preserve things like onions, carrots and green beans.

Seriously though, if you have a little garden, this is totally worth learning. I think I spent about $40 on the canning supplies, and jars are about $9 for 12 jars. But think – that’s 12 jars of homemade, organic goodness. Totally worth it, if you ask me.

What kinds of summer projects did you have? Did any of them turn out to be easier than you thought they’d be? How about harder? What were you most surprised to learn about yourself when you took the project on?

A. Rose (1)

Quick Fix Friday: Trading Spaces

This post is part of my Quick Fix Friday Series. The Quick Fix Friday Series is comprised of cheap and simple tricks to make your life easier. I started this series because I often feel like I have no time to make a change in my apartment, and I wanted to remind myself that it’s true. I also have realized that while there is a plethora of information about quick fixes when you own a house, that isn’t necessarily true when you live in an apartment. Each of these tasks takes under five minutes.

QFF_ Trading Spaces

You might remember my little galley kitchen from my Apartment Tour post.

It looks something like this:

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When you’re a renter, there’s not much you can do about 70’s faux-wood cabIinets with cream counter tops, so you just have to appreciate your kitchen for its’ deep sink, massive storage (relative to the size of the space) and random potato drawer that makes you smile.

I took this photo on a day when things were kind of just how they are – not when I was just done cooking, but not when I had just finished cleaning – because I want this to be an honest space.

So, what’s not lovely is what happens when D comes in and all the things in his hands go on the counter in front of the microwave, which means the microwave can’t be used without moving all those things. I usually don’t notice until I’m in the middle of cooking something and my hands are full. Then, I get frustrated.

So I went through a thousand ideas: should D have a backpack? should I chill out? should I ask him to put things somewhere else? does that fit with my ideas of organic organizing? What about a shelf in the front hall? Do I even need a microwave? The questions kept coming.

Then, one day, I just decided to move the microwave and man-oh-man was it the right decision!

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This may not look like much, especially since there are still items on the counter, but f’rill – it’s a HUGE change. Now there’s space on the counter for dinner dishes that need to be washed; there’s still space on the right side of the sink to prep foods; and, best of all, D’s stack of items is no longer in front of the thing I need.

So just a little reminder that sometimes the best solution is the simplest.

What kinds of things have you switched around that made a big impact?

Quick Fix: Reusable Bags

This post is part of my Quick Fix Friday Series. The Quick Fix Friday Series is comprised of cheap and simple tricks to make your life easier. I started this series because I often feel like I have no time to make a change in my apartment, and I wanted to remind myself that it’s true. I also have realized that while there is a plethora of information about quick fixes when you own a house, that isn’t necessarily true when you live in an apartment. Each of these tasks takes under five minutes.

You can read the other Quick Fix post here.


I talked a little bit in this post about how my reusable bags were taking up precious real estate in my coat closet:

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See that glorious long shelf on the right? It’s the one covered in reusable bags that are lying on their side, taking up as much room as possible. When you live in an apartment, you pretty much have to use every single spot as carefully as possible. This shelf was not a good example of that.

Enter stage left, the White Knight of this story.

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D got me this bakers rack for Christmas two years ago. I highly recommend it if you live in a place without a pantry. Or with. Whichever. It’s amazing. What added some amazingness to it is that the posts that hold the shelves in are not flush with the shelves on top. Meaning they are the perfect place for reusable bags!

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Which meant that this whole open shelf now gets to have important things on it:

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Dryer sheets – super important
D’s work files – super important
Pink bags – super important
Strange collection of lamps??? – super important

& that’s it! It’s amazing how much a little rearranging can do for a space!

What’s you favorite quick switch like this that you’ve done?

P.S. – My sister got me these reusable vegetable bags for Christmas this past year and holy smokes do I love them! I’ve been working hard at decreasing the amount of waste I produce and these totally help!A. Rose (1)