New Uses for Old Mason Jars

Repurpose New or Vintage Canning Jars

Mason jars or canning jars have dozens of uses far beyond the basic job of storing preserved foods for the winter. Of course, they still do the job if you want to can your beets or carrots from the garden. I’ve gathered together here some ideas to upcycle or get new uses from those Ball or Mason canning jars.

Gail Lee Martin collected old canning jars and displayed them on shelves above the sink in her kitchen. I have some other suggestions to show off or make useful those vintage jars. One of my nieces used the jars filled with paper flowers to decorate the tables at her wedding.

mason jar table decoration wedding paper flowers

Diana made the paper roses to place in the canning jars that she borrowed from her Grandmother Gail.

Party or Table Decor Ideas with Mason Jars
  • Use them to hold silverware on the buffet table.
  • For a wedding, place jars on each table and fill them with wildflowers.
  • Put a pump style lid on 2 jars for a BBQ and put ketchup or mustard in them.
sunflower-jar pixabay

When eating outside, decorate your patio table with a canning jar filled with sunflowers.

Since you’re visiting this page, I’m guessing that you already have some Mason jars. They may be the more common clear canning jars or the vintage green or blue ones.

With these tops, you can put your empty canning jars to work for many purposes.

Drink, Pour, Store! Wide Mouth Mason Jar Flip Cap Lid with Airtight, Leak-Proof Seal and Innovative Flip CapDrink, Pour, Store! Wide Mouth Mason Jar Flip Cap Lid with Airtight, Leak-Proof Seal and Innovative Flip CapView DetailsMason Jar Soap Dispenser Lids - For all Regular Mouth Canning JarsMason Jar Soap Dispenser Lids – For all Regular Mouth Canning JarsView DetailsMason Jar Shaker Lids - Shake Cocktails or Your Best Dry Rub - Mix Spices, Dredge Flour, Sugar & More - Fits Any Regular Mouth Canning JarMason Jar Shaker Lids – Shake Cocktails or Your Best Dry Rub – Mix Spices, Dredge Flour, Sugar & More – Fits Any Regular Mouth Canning JarView DetailsChalk Tops - Reusable Chalkboard Lids for Mason Jars - 8 Pack - Wide MouthChalk Tops – Reusable Chalkboard Lids for Mason Jars – 8 Pack – Wide MouthView DetailsMasontops Bean Screen Plastic Mason Jar Sprouting Lids for Wide Mouth Mason Jars – Grow Bean Sprouts, Alfalfa, Salad Sprouts and MoreMason tops Bean Screen Sprouting Lids  – Grow Bean Sprouts, Alfalfa, Salad Sprouts and MoreView DetailsMason Bottle Silicone Straw TopsMason Bottle Silicone Straw TopsView Details

The green plastic lids from parmesan cheese containers fit perfectly on a canning jar too. With that, you can store any food that you want to shake out or use the jar for storing craft beads or glitter.

Uses for Newer Canning Jars

For some of the craft projects below, you’ll want to use newer canning jars instead of making permanent alterations to an antique jar.

pumpkin-face-on-jar.jpg

Get out your paints and give a jar a cute pumpkin face. Put a battery-powered votive candle inside for a light.

Make Frosted Jar Lanterns – With these video instructions

You can make one of these. Look how easy it is. I really like video tutorials. Guess I’m a visual learner.

Mason Jar filled with sand for a bookend

Gail Martin filled several of her vintage canning jars with sand. They made great bookends for her cookbooks.

Haunted House in Chelsea, Kansas

manka house card
The old farmhouse in Kansas where the mysterious footsteps were heard night after night. (photo provided by Monte Manka)

Spooky Memories of a Kansas Farmhouse

Do you have memories of something that frightened you as a child? Maybe footsteps on the stairs after you’ve gone to bed? I’m intrigued by octogenarian Monte Manka who taps into his childhood memories from the 1930s for his poems. He grew up in Chelsea, Kansas in the same county where Gail Martin lived later in life. Chelsea is gone now, hidden under the water of the El Dorado Reservoir.

Here’s his account of something that really scared him as a child. The house his family lived in showed signs of being haunted. I’ve also added some memories his younger sister had of that same house. The house is gone now, so was it really haunted or ???

Read his poem describing the spooky events and also the other evidence presented. See what you think.

As for me, I’m sure glad I didn’t have to climb those stairs each night and lie awake listening to the strange sounds.

Who or What Made the Footsteps on the Stairs Late at Night?

haunted manka meme

Those “Spooky” Farmhouse Stairs

A poem by an octogenarian, Monte Manka about his childhood memories

The stairway in that farmhouse

That led up to the second floor

Meant a way to reach my bedroom

Nothing more.

Newel posts, balusters, banisters

Landing, risers, and treads

I used them daily

When heading for my upstairs bed.

As I grew older

I often wondered who

Engineered this marvel

Such beautiful workmanship, too.

That old railing and Newel Post

Were well hand-worn

Solid walnut wood

Built long before I was born.

If I wanted a midnight snack

Down these stairs, I could not sneak

The pressure on each riser

Let out a telltale squeak.

Many times

As I lay in bed

I pulled the covers

Tight over my head

Because in the stillness of the night

That old stairway would creak

From the bottom step to the top

You’d be scared to speak.

Besides, there was no such thing

As Goblins and Ghosts

Looking to do me harm, I said to myself

As those creaky sounds grew close.

I kept telling myself

While shivering in my bed

I was afraid to fall asleep

Afraid I’d wake up dead.

Thank goodness for that Sandman

He saved my life many a night

By putting me to sleep

And keeping me free from fright.

Mrs manka and farm house

Photos of the farmhouse and of Monte’s mother (in the light colored dress). Photos provided by Monte.

An Odd Incident

Remembered by Monte Manka

One night while we were sitting by the pot-bellied stove in the living room, keeping warm, suddenly a muffled noise and the house began to fill with smoke.

Dad finally got it under control. One of the bricks was missing on the chimney on the top and that brick fell down the chimney and clogged up the draft. Dad and the hired man had to take the stovepipe apart and remove the brick and all was well–

Funny no wind that night, no earthquake ????????????? Monte

old stove

A drawing by Karen Martin showing the black wood stove similar to one in the Manka house.

Another Person’s Experience in That House – Monte’s Sister

“Something came up those stairs every night at precisely the same time, around 10:00 or 10:30 I don’t remember which. The footsteps were clear and distinct from the bottom of the stairs to the top.

I am not the only one in the family that heard that either. Ray commented on that very thing. I thought it was just a kid thing and now I know that it wasn’t.

There were other things that went on in that house as well. That house was a haunted house when I was living in it.

Cordially, Carol”

Another Haunted Place in Kansas

Learn about another haunted place in Kansas – YouTube video.

The Manka House Eventually Burned to the Ground

 

fire destroyed wayne manka farm house

The Wayne Manka farmhouse after the fire.

In His 90s Now, Monte Manka Lives in Retirement on the West Coast

Monte Manka

The Old-Fashioned Shed

wash shed.jpg

Back in the Good-Old-Days

Back in our grandparents or great-grandparents’ day, a shed like this served as their wash house. Constructed simply from lumber, it kept the mess of laundry day out of the house. It might have just a dirt floor or possibly a wood floor. Luckily we have electric washers and dryers now so no longer need a shed in the backyard for that purpose.

Now we have so many other storage needs that our ancestors never even dreamed of. Storing the power lawn mower, the leaf blower, the power washer for the deck, the weed whacker, swimming pool accessories, golf gear, and so many other tools that weren’t available back in the 1920s, 30s, or 40s.

The style and materials for a storage space have changed a lot over the years too. Now with rigid plastics, there are many variations to fit our different needs. In the good old days, the size and appearance of your shed depended on accessible lumber and tin.

The one shown here has a stone foundation, a tin roof, and weathered wood for a particularly scenic small building.

Slideshow of photos by Virginia Allain

 

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More About Paper Dolls

Paper Dolls Are Popular All Over the World

My friend, Suzanne, in Australia remembers, “My paper dolls came in books of roughly 10 pages, magazine size, 2 or 3 complete outfits to a page and the clothes would press out although you had to be very careful with the tabs. I would play with them all afternoon.

My mother obviously had a supply of these ‘cut-out dolls’ hidden somewhere for they would miraculously appear on a rainy day or on the odd occasion when I suffered some childish ailment. I kept the dolls with their frocks, hats, and shoes in a shoebox and how I wish that I could pick up that box up again now!”

soldier-paper-doll.jpg

Isn’t this combination paper doll and Valentine a cutie! The doll and the army nurse outfit are perforated for easy punching out. I’m guessing this could be WWII, but don’t have verification for that.

My Friend, Joan, Shares Her Memories

Joan Adams – “We loved to take a shoebox full of paper dolls and clothes out on the screened porch. We played with them for hours and hours. We also cut out dishes and silverware from magazines to pretend to cook. I can remember cutting out pictures of furniture too!

We usually got new paper dolls and new crayons on our birthdays and Christmas time!”

Memories of Paper Dolls from Lois, Lee, and Nancy

Lois Paugh Osteen – “I still have them from my childhood. Some pages of the clothes had not been cut out, my sister and I would play for hours with them.

We would cut pictures from magazines so we could have a big party or a nice house. Our paper dolls were our babies, just like our dolls, love the memories.”

Lee Hansen Hoch – “I had a huge box of paper dolls. I distinctly remember the Patty Page and Betsy McCall paper dolls plus I drew my own and made clothes for them.”

Nancy Julien Kopp – “My cousin and I spent hours playing paper dolls. Loved getting new ones, especially of the movie stars. We cut out all the clothes and then made up glorious stories for those paper dolls to act out.”

Handing Down Paper Dolls from Generation to Generation

Marsha Cooper – “I don’t really remember having paper dolls myself, but I remember my mom’s that she had kept. A lot of them came in the McCall’s magazine and my grandma cut them out. I remember how excited I was to find books of paper dolls for my own daughters. They played with them for hours at a time with their friends. They each had theirs stored in manilla envelopes. We found one of those envelopes in a box not long ago. Now my granddaughters are having fun playing with them. It does my heart good to watch them enjoying the “simple’ things over worrying about getting on the game system or a phone to play games.”

Karen’s Memories of Paper Dolls

Last year, I shared Gail’s little sister’s memories of paper dolls. Now, we have Gail’s daughter with her own memories

Karen Kolavalli – “The paper dolls we had most often were families cut out of catalogs. I remember we would create houses for them by placing books together–each book cover was a separate room and bigger rooms could be created with books that had the same color covers.

I loved Betsy McCall paper dolls from McCall’s magazine and thought Grandma McGhee was very unreasonable when she wouldn’t let us cut them out if she hadn’t finished the story on the other side.

And one special Christmas with all the Martin cousins, my gift was Lennon Sisters paper dolls that came in a cardboard and tin carrying container. I found quite a few for sale online. Apparently, they came out in 1960. I found some on eBay that sold for $31!

Also, I have a vintage sheet of Betsy McCall paper dolls that I have framed. I’ve heard that our generation is buying back our childhoods.

Ooh, forgot the paper dolls from the Sugar and Spike comic books! When we’d go with Mom to the grocery store, sometimes we each got to pick out one dime comic book and I always picked Sugar and Spike.”

Note:

I see there were earlier Lennon Sister paper dolls from 1957 that are just in booklets, not in a nice carrying tin.

Lennon Sisters from the Lawrence Welk Show Paper DollsLennon Sisters from the Lawrence Welk Show Paper DollsView DetailsLennon Stars From the Lawrence Welk Tv Show Paper DollLennon Stars From the Lawrence Welk Tv Show Paper DollView Details1958 JANET LENNON cut-out doll - authorized edition Paper Dolls1958 JANET LENNON cut-out doll – authorized edition Paper DollsView Details

Sugar and Spike

I didn’t remember paper dolls with Sugar and Spike that Karen mentioned, but I sure remember how fun their comic books were. Maybe we should save the topic of favorite comic books for another post, but I couldn’t resist checking Amazon for them. The vintage covers are quite pricey.

Sugar & Spike (Oct. #85/1969) (DC Comic Book, Oct #85)Sugar & Spike (Oct. #85/1969) (DC Comic Book, Oct #85)View DetailsSugar And Spike (Sugar And Spike, No.41)Sugar And Spike (Sugar And Spike, No.41)View DetailsSugar and Spike Dc Comic Books Issue 68Sugar and Spike Dc Comic Books Issue 68View DetailsSugar & Spike (1956 series) #77Sugar & Spike (1956 series) #77View DetailsSUGAR AND SPIKE COMICS #67 (NO 67)SUGAR AND SPIKE COMICS #67 (NO 67)View DetailsSugar & Spike (1956 series) #80Sugar & Spike (1956 series) #80View Details

Tell me about your memories of paper dolls.

Top Ten Posts for 2017

When I shared Gail Lee Martin’s stories in some groups on Facebook, her memory blog and her Facebook fan page gained quite a number of followers. People love nostalgia and old-time recipes, it seems. Here are the top ten posts for 2017.

  1. This post was a big hit with a Depression-era cooking Facebook group. Nostalgia groups also liked the memories it brought up. Saving the Cooking Grease
  2. This topic raised some controversy from animal lovers, farmers, and history buffs. Kansas Wolf Hunts
  3. The third most-visited post with 319 readers combined nostalgia and food, a winning combination. Bean Soup on Wash Days
  4. The post about old-fashioned sayings that Gail used was popular too. A Hitch in Her Git-Along
  5. More food memories that drew the lovers of nostalgia. Fifties Foodsretro fifties foods pixabay
  6. Disasters also caught people’s attention. M Is for Memories of the Flood of ’51
  7. This post caught the attention of a Madison, Kansas group as people dropped by to see if their parents or grandparents were mentioned. R Is for Ruth –  In Sympathy
  8. Hamilton is a very small town, but they have a group on Facebook that sent many readers to this post. H Is for Hamilton
  9. The novelty of this vintage recipe caught people’s attention. Heritage Recipe – Turnip Pie
  10. This follow-up piece with Gail’s own memories drew readers. Gail’s Memories of the Flood of ’51

Over 7,000 individual readers visited the blog in 2017. If you are reading this post, then you were probably one of them. If you missed any of the stories above, I hope you have a few minutes to read Gail’s memories.

gail's top posts 2017

Gail Admired Norman Rockwell

One of the magazines available to the McGhee family in the remote Flint Hills of Kansas was the Saturday Evening Post. This window on the world included serialized novels, articles about celebrities of the day, and a variety of other topics. People looked forward to seeing what Norman Rockwell painting would grace the cover. He contributed 322 covers between 1916 and 1963 to the Saturday Evening Post.

 

I remember my folks (Gail and Clyde) having a stack of vintage Post magazines in a shallow box under their living room sofa. Now and then, we’d pull them out to admire the old scenes of Americana captured in the Rockwell covers and to read the articles from those bygone days.

I recently found that many of those cover images now are available on everything from fleece blankets to cutting boards, coffee mugs, trivets and other useful items. Here’s a sample to give you an idea of the wide range of topics captured the fancy of the artist and appeared on the old Saturday Evening Post covers.

Sport Fleece BlanketSport Fleece BlanketView DetailsTackled Fleece BlanketTackled Fleece BlanketView DetailsDecoys Cutting BoardDecoys Cutting BoardView DetailsRunaway TrivetRunaway TrivetView DetailsRosie the Riveter PlaqueRosie the Riveter PlaqueView DetailsDreams of Long Ago Fleece BlanketDreams of Long Ago Fleece BlanketView DetailsCatching the Big One Fleece BlanketCatching the Big One Fleece BlanketView DetailsThe Fish are Jumping Fleece BlanketThe Fish are Jumping Fleece BlanketView DetailsHollywood Starlet TrivetHollywood Starlet TrivetView DetailsSpringtime, 1935 boy with bunny trivetSpringtime, 1935 boy with bunny trivetView DetailsDoctor and the Doll Fleece BlanketDoctor and the Doll Fleece BlanketView DetailsBefore the Shot or At the Doctor's TrivetBefore the Shot or At the Doctor’s TrivetView Details

Every cover was a delight. Often it featured a nostalgic scene of small-town America. Although many contained an element of humor, the artist could also address serious world issues and capture them in a scene.

Since I’m posting about Gail’s admiration for Norman Rockwell and it is December, I’ll include this classic cover. You can see all the covers at the Saturday Evening Post website.

Norman Rockwell 1930s cover art for the Saturday Evening Post. 1930s Santa.

Norman Rockwell 1930s cover art for the Saturday Evening Post. 1930s Santa.