How Mason / Ball jars simplify our lives, inspires us to eat healthier and saves us money

Okay, so its only one wall and we’ve got a long way to go in our little DIY kitchen makeover, but the latest addition to our ever-evolving “Ball Wall,” as we call it, is worth celebrating.

We love the “Ball Wall” solution, but where to store the lids — and to keep with our simplify-simplify-simplify plan, conveniently located with the jars — has been an ongoing problem. Until this evening!

Bob made a wooden lid rack that fits perfectly on the shelves next to the jars! Totally solves the renegade lid problem! I know! He’s so good.

Not only does it conveniently solve the jar lids storage problem, but it looks cool on the shelf. I just love it!

That “Ball Wall” used to be covered in a bank of lower and upper cabinets. We never used the full size counter top on the lower cabinets because we do most of our prep on the island. All of our dishes and cool cooking things were lost behind those cabinet doors (well, sort of. Bob doesn’t close cabinet doors… ahem).

I don’t know why it took us so long to figure out, but after more than a decade in our home with kitchen cabinet doors open all the time, we realized that our forever kitchen wasn’t working for us. But, what to do? We weren’t in any position to take on the expense of a remodel, especially when we had no idea what we would do to make it work even if we were. But, it so happens, we do love to make stuff, especially from other stuff.

We happened also, at that same time, to be throwing in the towel after our first attempt at canning our garden tomatoes, a case of new Ball / Mason jars clean and clear on the counter. What to do with these Ball / Mason jars?

It was a perfect “brain”storm. That was two years ago; and our “Ball Wall” idea turned out to be far more transformational than we ever could’ve imagined. Mostly? We’ve had fun, and still are!

We pulled out the bottom bank of cabinets. Lowered the upper cabinets to the floor (in place of the full size bottom cabinets we’d removed); painted them dark mocha, tiled the tops with black granite tiles and edged it with a long copper tube that Bob heated and hammered flat, then attached it with screws for a rivets sort of look.

He had several gorgeous long pieces of cherry and walnut with live edges in his wood stash that he planed, sanded, stained and finished, leaving the live edges. After texturing and painting the wall where the cabinets were, he installed the flanges, pipes, and copper fittings for supporting the cherry and walnut shelves. (Gives it a hint of that steampunky thing I like.)

Of course, removing all those cabinets meant inventorying — facing and purging — most of the long-unused dishes, glasses, and abundance of cooking things that did not warrant taking up so much valuable kitchen space.

We were on a roll! We pulled out and reconfigured the cabinets on the other side of the kitchen too; but we’re still in early stages of that side of the room, so no photos yet. Let’s just say, our garage sale had a lot of kitchen goodies, including all of our drinking glasses. Yes, we got rid of those too; we drink out of Ball jars now.

The exquisite Nambe metal chili sculpture, a gift from my sister, causes me to think of her every time I see it. And I see it every single day.

We use Ball jars for everything. They’re “simply” perfect. We use them, yes, as drinking glasses, to store dry foods, to mix smoothies (Ball jars fit most standard blenders; turn it upside down and screw it on. Zzzz! Smoothie, straight from the jar), spice blends. Plus, they’re kinda heavy duty, sturdier than drinking glasses. I think we’ve only broken one Ball jar in the past two years. Maybe two. And that’s just a few uses.

Cotton balls on the bathroom vanity? Ball jar. Pencil cup? Ball jar. Votive candle holder? Put it in a Ball jar. Assorted hardware? Ball jar. They sit uniform in the dishwasher, too, for easy and space efficient loading and unloading. And I don’t need separate cabinets for glasses and storage and … One place, one set of jars for everything. We wondered if we’d get tired of them, but we haven’t; in fact, we like them even more.

I think the best outcome of all is how much healthier we’re eating and how little food expires or gets thrown away compared with before the Ball Wall project. We seek out fresher foods (and not just because I can now bring out in the open some of the exquisite hand-made pottery and basket pieces I love so much), for example. And we see what we have immediately. Its like a food gallery, in a way. Little bistro.

The “Ball Wall” allows us to bring out and enjoy many of our kitchen favorites. I purchased this intriguing hand-woven basket from the weaver while on a quick business trip to Charleston, South Carolina several years ago. She’d learned from her grandfather and carries on his legacy by weaving with his techniques today. Her story was not only fascinating, but she had a delightful sense of humor and was very kind. I like this basket to hold our cayenne peppers after picking them from the patio garden.

Oh sure, we have to dust more often, but living in high desert country, we’re used to frequent dusting anyway. And its so worth it.

Finally, our amazing hand-made pottery bowls by artist Tim Wedel are out in the open, gracing the “Ball Wall,” inviting with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Tim is one of our favorite clay artists. We have several of his pieces, all of which are completely functional.

Ironically, for all that we use the jars for, we have yet to master canning. Maybe someday we’ll give it another go.

We’re educated, but not sophisticated nor do we entertain, so good old fashioned tried-and-true Ball / Mason jars have turned out to be the simple and convenient solution we need for everyday living (except canning).

Okay, enough about Ball jars. (For today, anyway.) Snack time!

Photos by Krystyn Hartman (c) 2019

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