Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

How to Make Pickles: A Tutorial

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

make your own fermented pickles


Cucumbers are growing like weeds around here, and our local markets are selling them cheap.  We stocked up on cucumbers just so we could teach you how to pickle them and how to make homemade pickles! We’re nice like that.  This recipe for pickles is an old-fashioned fermented pickle recipe. These delicious pickles take about 10 days to 3 weeks to ferment.  If you start now you’ll be enjoying tangy, crunchy pickles before May! Since they’re the perfect side for burgers at summer barbecues, we suggest making a bunch and canning them so you and your guests can enjoy homemade pickles all summer long. We’ve even put together an awesome DIY Pickle Starter Kit if you want to have everything you need in one place!

Ready? Let’s ferment! It’s more appetizing than it sounds.

How to can pickles tutorial

Ingredients. – As you’ll see above, it doesn’t take many ingredients to make great pickles. I keep mine pretty simple.  This recipe doubles, triples, or even quadruples nicely.

  • 1 lb of pickling cucumbers, washed
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp pickling spice (optional)
  • 1 head dill (optional)

Equipment

Making Pickles from scratch

Once you’ve gathered your equipment, begin by prepping the cucumbers. To do this, make sure they’re still crisp with no soft spots. Scrub them well, then slice off the blossom end of each cucumber, like you see me doing above. If you’re not sure, it’s the end opposite the stem. You can leave the stem, just snip off a tiny bit of that blossom end. It helps the pickles stay crisp.

how I make pickles

Next, throw some of your salt, any spices you’re using, and about half of the garlic in a clean pickle pot or fermenting crock. You’ll notice I’m using one of our storage crocks in this picture – I wanted to see if it was as good for pickling as it is for storage. And, if you’re wondering, it totally worked!

what is in pickling spice? I don't know.

Once that’s taken care of, add in your cucumbers. Literally, cram as many as you can fit  right on in there. You’ll still have room for the brine and stuff. While you’re at it, add the rest of the garlic as well. Also, if you’re adding dill (that’s how to make dill pickles, folks,) add it now. Once you’ve got all of that in there, it’s time to add the components of the brine: White vinegar and water (or, if you’ve got it, leftover pickle brine and water.) Either works.

How to make pickles, step by stepOnce you’ve added all that brine (I told you there was room,) make sure the cucumbers are covered completely (add more water if they aren’t) and pop a lid on the crock. If you’re using one of our open crocks, cover with a piece of cheesecloth or a muslin square, then top off with a plate to keep it airtight. You’re done for now. Seriously, that easy. Put the whole thing in a place where the temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees and leave it alone.  Every day or two, give it a peek. Skim any mold off the top of the brine (it’ll happen and it’s no big deal) and check that the pickles don’t feel mushy or slimy.  After about 10 days, start checking them for done-ness (they should look translucent all the way through. Cut one open. Taste it. Your homemade pickles are done when you’re happy with them.

Pickles in a Kilner jarOnce your pickles taste to your liking,  keep whatever you want to eat right away in your fridge. If you made a big batch, or if you want to save them for later in the season/give them as gifts, it’s the perfect time to can them.  Just pack the pickles into Kilner jars (our 1 liter jars fit pickles beautifully.)  Top them off with the brine. Pop the seals on the jars, then tighten down the rings until almost tight. Bring a big pot of water to a boil and process the jars in boiling water for 20 minutes. Let ‘em cool, check the seals, and BOOM, you’ve got perfectly canned pickles that’ll keep at room temperature for 6 months. Not that they’ll last that long.

Pickling tutorial

Visit Pacific Merchants at the IHA Show in Chicago

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Where to find us at IHAAre you going to the IHA show in Chicago this year? If you are, make sure to come by our booth – S1667 in the South Building of McCormick Place- to meet the team, check out loads of new products, and maybe even get a special treat!

Once you find us, make sure to track down one of our incredibly  helpful employees or reps and ask about our lines. We’ve brought Kilner canning jars and accessories, Mason Cash mixing bowls and bakeware, Acaciaware® bowls, plates, and serving trays, Price and Kensington teapots, our beautiful placemats, and more!

While you’re at our booth, Make sure to ask about our new products – There’s something new in every single line, so it’s a really exciting time to visit. Also make sure to ask about the special surprise announcement we’re making at the show! You won’t want to miss our exciting news!

Again, we’re exhibiting at the IHA show so make sure to pop on by our booth- we’re in the South Building, booth 1667 – The one highlighted in green on the map. We’ll be there for the whole show: March 15-18, and we’re looking forward to meeting you!

 

When is Spring Cleaning? Right Now! – Spring Cleaning tips, Tricks and Sale!

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Check out our spring sale!Here at Pacific Merchants we’re big believers in getting organized, simplifying, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. One of the ways we’re doing that is throwing an epic Spring Cleaning sale. That’s right, some of our best-selling items are up to 50% off.  Make sure to check out our sale page to see how we do spring cleaning, and how awesome it’ll be for you!  Everything from Acacia to Placemats to Teapots are on sale, so make sure to check them out!

If you’re here to get some cleaning tips, we’re happy to help you out! We’re going to give you our top tips on how to organize a pantry, how to spring clean, and how to clean your house fast. We’ll even give you a truly helpful checklist to help you get organized at home?  Ready? Bookmark that sale page (it’s running through March 19 and we’re gonna put new stuff up all the time) and let’s clean!

somerwhere to put all your stuff1 – Create a landing strip. No, your home isn’t an airport, but it’s amazing to have somewhere to throw all your odds and ends when you walk through the door. I was particularly inspired by this little nook I saw on Apartment Therapy. Check out that big wood bowl for mail. I immediately went home and did something similar with our oval bowl -  it’s the perfect size and shape to hold my mail, but just small enough that I actually go through the mail regularly.  If you’ve got a large space, consider dedicating an small room or closet , but if you’re in a smaller apartment, something as simple as a small cabinet, a shoe rack, and a couple of hooks will suffice.   I suggest 2 hooks per per person (coat, bag/purse) and enough room for a couple of pairs of shoes each, plus a catch-all for odds and ends, whether it’s a big bowl, a sectioned tray or even a Kilner jar. Trust me, it may seem a little dumb, but having a place to dump your stuff when you walk in the door helps if you’re trying to keep your home clean.

Getting organized using Kilner jars2- Pull things off the shelves. You know those cabinets/closets/pantry shelves that are just full to the brim of disorganized odds and ends? Pull EVERYTHING out of those cluttered cabinets. Clean them (trust me, start with a clean slate) and put things back in a neat, orderly fashion. Stack dishes  by size and put them back.  Organize odds and ends in that junk drawer – I use small Kilner jars and label the lids. They’re short enough to sit in a drawer and the labels mean I can easily find those spare keys, rubber bands, loose change, or push pins.

3. Consolidate. This is another great time to break out the Kilner jars. Whenever I go through my pantry and cabinets, I find 3 half-used bags of sugar, the occasional extra bag of flour, and 5 or 6 half-used bags of chocolate chips I forgot I had.  I’ve recently begun combining all these half-used bags in large clip top jars rather than trying to put them back. The stuff I use frequently – cereal, coffee, sugar, pretzels – goes on the counter for easy access since Kilner jars are just so pretty. The stuff that I don’t use as much still gets combined, but goes in the pantry or in my cabinets.  And once you’ve consolidated, you’ll find yourself with more space for sure!

4. Throw stuff out. While you’re organizing your closets, pantries and cabinets, you’ll come across things you forgot you had, like that  sweater that just doesn’t fit or that bundt pan you’ve never used. Time to get critical: If you’ve had it longer than 6 months and haven’t used it, consider donating it – with the exception of seasonal things you actually DO break out every year.  If it’s broken, time to either repair or discard. If that pan hasn’t had a handle for months, it’s just been taking up space.  This is another great way to free up some storage space. kilner storage jars - perfect for organizing!

5. Put everything away. Use this strategy: If you use it all the time, make it the easiest to reach. If it’s one of those things you break out once a year, that highly inconvenient cabinet above the refrigerator is perfect.   If it’s something you use semi-regularly but not daily or even weekly – stand mixer, food processor, spare sheets, consider a less convenient shelf.  Once everything is put away, you’ll be happily surprised by all the newfound space you’ve got!

6. Put away anything that didn’t have a home.  You’ve got room now!

7. Dust and wash surfaces. This won’t be as hard as it sometimes is, since you cleaned those shelves and cabinets when you were organizing. Right??  Right.  Go over everything with a dustcloth first – make sure to pick things up and get under them. Once everything is dusted, give them a wipe down with a damp cloth or some windex and paper towels (where appropriate) until all your surfaces are sparkling!

8. Once you’ve got clean surfaces, move on to the floors. Vacuum where needed. Mop where needed. Make sure to run over your baseboards with a damp cloth.

9. Do your laundry. I always put this off until last since I make laundry the whole way through – All the rags, microfiber cloths and mop heads I own go in the laundry. Wash, fold and put away.

10. Holy crap! Your home is clean!  Kick back, enjoy, and check out that spring sale you bookmarked. Chances are, you’ve cleared off a perfect home for that teapot you’ve been coveting, and magic – it’s 50% off!

 

 

How To Make Jam: A Canning Tutorial

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Blood Orange Strawberry Jam

As our readers know, we spend a lot of time working with our awesome Kilner canning jars around here, but we haven’t posted a lot of canning recipes.  We figured it was time to change that.   Back in April we featured a post on how to make strawberry jam.  It was a basic recipe on how to make jam without pectin. This time, we took our awesome strawberry jam and made it even more delicious by adding juice from some delicious, seasonal, local produce: Southern California Blood Oranges!  The best thing about this recipe is that you can taste the blood oranges and the strawberries equally, and they go really well together.  So let’s get started. This post will teach you how to make your own jam in just a few easy steps.

Sanitizing jam jars

First, let’s start with the basics: How to sterilize canning jars.  No matter which way you choose to sanitize canning jars, you start the same way: Giving them a wash with soap and water.  Inspect them, and hold any chipped, cracked or otherwise damaged jars to the side. Those jars are great for craft projects, but lousy for canning. Next you either boil the Kilner jars, lids and bands in a big pot of boiling water (lined with a towel or a canning jar rack to keep the jars from chipping) or run them through your dishwasher on a sanitize cycle.  You just need to make sure that you time your cycle so that you’re pulling the jars out and filling them when they’re still hot.  I’m lucky to have a really nice sanitize cycle on my dishwasher that actually counts down the minutes, so I can have everything ready at just the right moment.

Strawberry Jam Ingredients

While the Jars are sanitizing, it’s time to make your jam.  We were making this jam for the IHA Show 2014 in Chicago (come visit us at Booth 1667 in the South building!) so we made a TON of jam. Think 35lbs worth of strawberries worth. The ingredients you see above would make a pint or two at most.  For the jam, you’ll need:

how to make jam- step by step

  • 2 10-0z packages of frozen, sliced, unsweetened strawberries OR 20 oz fresh strawberries, trimmed and sliced.
  • 1 3/4 oz powdered fruit pectin – 2 oz if you’re using frozen strawberries
  • zest of 2  blood oranges
  • 1/2 cup blood orange juice*
  • 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar

* Once I zested my blood oranges, I put them through a juicer, pith and all. It made for a slightly  bitter juice, but in the end, the flavor is balanced by the sweet strawberries and sugar whether you hand squeeze the oranges or juice them in a machine.

To make the jam, get out a big pot or a jam pan. Make sure it’s a non-reactive pan to get the most beautiful jam possible. Add the strawberries, the blood orange juice and zest, and the pectin to the pot. Heat, stirring constantly with a large spoon or spatula until the pectin is dissolved. Once everything is dissolved, bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.

Strawberries, orange juice, orange zest, pectin

After the jam has boiled for a few moments, add the sugar, and allow the mixture to come back to a boil. Continue to stir it constantly. It is very important not to add the sugar until the pectin is dissolved or you’ll end up with a delicious jam that won’t thicken. Frustrating, yes? This is one of the most important things my mother taught me when I was first learning how to do canning at home, and when I mix up my order, things go truly wrong. Once the jam mixture has come to a boil, it’ll begin to foam. Skim off the foam with a very fine mesh strainer or even a slotted spoon. It’ll ruin the texture of the jam.  At this point, let it boil around 5 minutes more, skimming as needed and you’re ready to can. At this point, bring another large pot of water to a boil.

how to make homemade jam

At this point, you’re going to need:

  • Sanitized jars, lids and rings
  • Jam tongs (hold these in boiling water a few minutes to sanitize)
  • A funnel that fits your jars (this should also be sanitized along with the jars)
  • Some sort of big spoon or ladle
  • A rag or paper towel to wipe your jar mouths

Pull your jars out of the dishwasher or pot of boiling water and make sure they’re completely empty.  Use funnel to pour hot jam into hot, sanitized Kilner jars neatly, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom for each jar.  Wipe the mouths of the jars clean (the most important thing to remember when we talk about how to seal a canning jar) and place the seals squarely on each jar.  Screw on each band until just tight, then unscrew each one a quarter turn.  Once all the jars are closed, it’s time to process the jars.  Boiling jars for canning not only helps the jars seal but it’s a good way to help making canned food last a long time.

how to prepare canning jars    photo 8

Remember that pot of water you brought to a boil? Time to use it.  Now that the jars are full and closed, it’s time to process those Kilner jars.  When I talk to people about canning, the most common questions I get are “how long do you boil jars for canning?” and “how long does canning food last?”  Time to answer the first of those questions: Once the jars are full, process them at a rolling boil for 5 minutes.  When I say process, I mean put the jars in boiling water for 5 minutes. Make sure the water covers the jars by at least an inch (I prefer 2) and let boil.

how canning works

If your canning goes anything like mine, as you add the jars to the water, the boiling will stop (see above, and pardon the jam-spattered cooktop.)  Don’t start timing the 5 minutes until the water is back at a rolling boil.    The jam may appear to loosen up a little and become more liquid, but don’t worry, it’ll set up as it cools.  After 5 minutes at a rolling boil, remove your delicious homemade strawberry jam with blood orange from the pot (use your tongs, these jars are hot!) and set on a heat-proof surface.  I just put a towel down on my butcher block and lay the jars out on that.

You’ll hear little pings and pops as the jars seal. That’s a good thing.  Let the jars cool overnight, then test the seal of each jar by pushing the center of the lid. If there’s any give to it, it hasn’t processed correctly, and your jar isn’t sealed. I got lucky in that all of my jars sealed. If they don’t seal, don’t worry, all is not lost. You cannot reuse canning lids (I’ve had a lot of people come to our booth at shows asking “can you  reuse canning lids?”) but you can get a spare pack of lids and re-seal your jars. Just wipe the mouths of the jars really clean, and process in boiling water for a little longer this time. Try about 8 minutes and it should do the trick. Once the jars hold a seal, you’re good. The jam should last 6 months at room temperature!

how to make orange jam

I hope that our little tutorial has you inspired to break out some Kilner jars and start canning. It may seem daunting at first, but it’s a really wonderful way to preserve awesome flavors at the height of the season!  Check out our little canning movie on Instagram! If you want to know more about canning with Kilner jars, come visit us at IHA in Chicago in just a couple of weeks. We’re in the South Building at booth 1667 and we’re happy to tell you all about Kilner jars, canning, and, if you’re lucky, let you try some of this totally delicious jam.

 

 

 

How To Make a DIY Pincushion

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Dear readers,

I hope you are all having a fabulous Sunday! This weekend has been a busy one for Pacific Merchants Trading Company as we have a photo shoot tomorrow and a few huge trade shows coming up.  Today I stained wood for tomorrow’s photo shoot, and I also made a #DIY #KilnerJar pincushion and sewing storage kit.

Kilner Jar Crafting DIY Pincushion

This simple project requires all that you see here plus scissors.  So easy, fun, inexpensive and practical!  Makes for a great gift or personal item.  We suggest using our .25L Kilner Preserve Jars, but the .5L Kilner Preserve Jars also work, especially if you want more storage room. For a full tutorial, visit Take Courage Blog.

Kilner Jar Pincushion  Klner DIY Crafting

I had so much fun with this project today.  Did you do anything fun this Sunday?  Talk to us in the comments, and find more photos at the Pacific Merchants Instagram (@PacificMerchant) and Pinterest.

 

How to Cook a Romantic Meal For Valentine’s Day

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

SMALL Heart T&SValentine’s Day is right around the corner, so naturally there are diamond ads on TV, specials on long-stemmed roses, and boxes of chocolate everywhere! If you’re trying to figure out what to do for valentines day,  avoid some of the obvious cliches and pull together an unforgettable night for someone you love! We’re going to teach you how to make a romantic dinner that won’t overwhelm you! It’s even good enough to turn those people who claim they hate Valentine’s day into hopeless, mushy romantics. Ready? OK!

First, we’re going to start with some basics to teach you how to make dinner without making a mess of your kitchen and your clothes. It breaks down to a few simple steps.

 

 

  1. Prep in advance. Chefs call this mise en place, which means “everything in place.” Cut your veggies, season your meat, and even make bread or dessert in advance. Just store all your prepped food in little bowls in the fridge until you’re ready to go.
  2. Consider a 1-pot meal. You’ll have less cleanup later, your house will smell amazing, and you’ll have time to do other important things, like shower.
  3. Set the table in advance. Use pretty dishes. Trust us, you don’t want to be rushing around at the last second. Light some candles.
  4. Do what you’re comfortable with.  You’re creating a special night. You don’t want your date to show up and find you frazzled because the souffle you’ve never made before won’t rise or the suckling pig isn’t done.

With those simple tips, a little kitchen know how, the right tools, and some foolproof, delightful recipes for romantic meals, we promise you, you’re going to have a blast.

I love serving warm bread with dinner, and our Heart Shaped Mason Cash Tear and Share make it as romantic as it is delicious.  We’ve got a big tear and share if you’re cooking for a crowd lady-and-the-tramp(say, Valentine’s Day for a family) or a little one that’s the perfect size for two. The nice thing about bread baking is you can get it done in advance (even a couple days before) and just throw it in the oven at the last minute. Plus, the Tear and Share bread forms come with some truly delicious recipes. Of course, if you’re super busy and need to cook a romantic meal quickly, you could even get pizza dough at the store, roll it into balls (stuff with cheese and sauce for extra points) and just bake that. Even less mess, and just as delicious.  And nothing says “welcome, I love you” like fresh, hot bread!

Second, throw together an entree that’s easy, delicious, and beautiful.  It doesn’t have to be complicated. Personally, I think Lady and the Tramp got it right. It can be as simple as spaghetti, but if you’re with the right person, it’s perfect.  So whip out a big salad bowl (I love serving spaghetti in the Acaciaware Deep bowl) and a set of pasta servers, and go to town.  If you need a recipe for swoon-worthy meatballs, scroll on down to the bottom of this page.  Serve with your favorite pasta sauce and some extra long spaghetti!

Acacia bowl saladOf course, one can’t live on spaghetti alone, so it’s worth serving a side salad, or maybe some grilled vegetables.  I’m partial to a classic Caesar salad (chicken is absolutely  optional) with my spaghetti.  It reminds me of old movies and just feels (and tastes) classic and romantic!  And isn’t that what you’re going for on Valentine’s day?

Of course, bread, salad, and a beautiful spaghetti and meatballs are just one person’s interpretation of a classic, unforgettable romantic meal for Valentine’s day.  But seriously, it’s the simple, intimate meals that are responsible for creating tender memories; consider classic recipes, done perfectly.  To all the ladies out there trying to figure out what to get a guy for Valentine’s day: skip the lines, cook a nice dinner. To all the guys: women love a man who can cook. To all the couples: Try cooking dinner together. It’s a great way to have fun and unwind, especially if you take a moment to open a bottle of wine and toast to your mutual awesomeness while cooking.

And now, without further ado, that meatball recipe I promised you.  I opt for a beef meatball, since I love the way it stays moist, and the way it stands up to a flavorful tomato sauce (see our blog post here if you want to make your own tomato sauce.) You can use whatever protein you’d like. Pork, sausage, turkey and even chicken work pretty well.

Ingredients meatballs -raw

  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef

  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs

  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced.
  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1 tbsp milk

spaghetti and meatbalssInstructions – Can be made a day in advance, saving you a mess on Valentine’s Day.

Throw all the meatball ingredients in a bowl. Ideally a Mason Cash bowl that you chilled in the freezer for 10 minutes.

With your hands (they really are the best tool)  mix all the ingredients until they’re well combined. be careful to mix rather than squish things to get perfectly fluffy, most meatballs and not crumbly meatloaf.

Once everything is combined, shape into balls You shouldn’t be pressing them together hard, just rolling them between your hands until they’re barely holding together. We’re going for meatballs, not meatloaf. This mixture makes 12 golf-ball sized meatballs or more small ones. I suggest doing small meatballs for a romantic meal. They’re easier to eat (one biters always are) and they’re darn cute. Plus you’re making this ahead (right?) so you don’t need to worry about rushing.  Just store them in a covered casserole dish in the fridge til you’re ready to use them.

When it’s time to cook,  Make some sauce (or buy a bottle of really good quality sauce, if you must.) And heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan, let it heat and coat the pan, then add the meatballs in a single layer.  Let cook for 4 minutes before turning.  Let cook an additional 4 minutes, then add the tomato sauce to the saucepan.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, which, coincidentally enough, is time enough to boil water and make pasta.  Add the pasta to your serving bowl, with the sauce, tossing to combine.  Top with meatballs, a sprinkling of fresh grated Parmesan (avoid the green can, please!) and a sprinkle of basil. Serve with that amazing warm bread and a salad you made (but didn’t dress) before even starting to cook and you’re good to go!  Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Lots of Love,

Pacific Merchants

 

 

 

Happy Holidays From Pacific Merchants

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

We hope that you have an absolutely beautiful holiday season!

for email

A Very Homemade Christmas – Gifts

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

There’s just 2 weeks to Christmas. If you’re anything like me, you’re not quite done (or haven’t even started) Christmas shopping. Maybe the easy to buy for folks on the list are taken care of, but those hard to shop for loved ones are still sitting out there, confusing you. If you’re stuck, I suggest making your own gifts.  Nothing says “I love you, you’re awesome” quite like a gift made with love.  This week, we scoured the internet to find some awesome homemade gifts that’ll thrill even the trickiest folks on your list. So break out your Kilner jars and put those crafting hats on!

Kilner jar candle

First, one of my favorites, candles. It’s actually super-easy to make candles, as this tutorial from Martha Stewart explains, and you can get all of the materials online or at a craft store relatively cheaply. Martha makes hers in a teacup, but you can really use anything from a uniquely shaped acacia bowl to a Kilner jar (see image above) to a pudding basin!  With the right scents and colors, these will look good in anyone’s home. Just match your colors to the colors in their home and you’ve got a beautiful, custom gift!

bathfizzies_msliving

Also from the wonderful Martha Stewart, consider bath fizzies. They’re the perfect treat for anyone who likes to kick back and relax in the bath. If you want to get really creative, do a candle with a complementary scent. As seen above, Bath fizzies stored in large jars not only  make a really visually striking gift, but it keeps the fizzies from fizzing from the humidity in the air, instead of in the tub!  Learn how to make them Here, and find the perfect jar to wrap them in here! If you’re feeling like REALLY spoiling someone, you could take it a step further and put together an entire spa in a jar!

 

Hot-Cocoa-Mix-in-Jar

Another great gift (inspired by My Baking Addiction)  is a homemade cocoa mix. If you’ve got someone on your list who is either a hot chocolate or a mocha drinker, consider putting together a Kilner jar full of custom hot cocoa. You can do everything from a spicy hot cocoa to a peppermint hot chocolate or you can make an assortment and give a small Kilner jar of each. Bonus points if you stack the jars and decorate them like a snowman.

 

FNM_120109-Gift-Jars-009_s4x3_lg

If one of your loved ones lives somewhere cold, consider giving the gift of comfort. And by that,  naturally, I mean soup. Now I’m not saying to wrap a steaming hot pot and put a bow on it, but create some really warming soup mixes in jars. I love the curried lentil soup pictured above. It makes even the chilliest days feel warm, and isn’t that what you want in a soup? If you’re feeling generous (and who isn’t this time of the year?) give the soup mixes with some beautiful soup bowls.

output_K2PSjQ

Next up? Cookies in jars.  This is an especially great gift for people with kids, or folks who love cookies but don’t necessarily want to do all the hard stuff, like measure!  We did a whole post on Cookies in Jars just a few short weeks ago, so check it out, get some ideas, whip out those Kilner jars and create your own festive mix. Some of my favorite very merry add ins include: Crushed peppermint candies, red and green M&Ms, Festive sprinkles,  Dried cherries, candied ginger, and white chocolate chips.  But use your imagination. Go wild.

homemade-vodka_300

Our friends over at Real Simple gave us this idea, which we think is an inspired use of Kilner Bottles  and a fun way to beat the holiday stress – Infuse your own liquor (both to drink and to give as gifts.)  They use vodka (see tutorial) but you can use whatever you’d like. Pack ingredients and your liquor of choice into a beautiful bottle  (I’m partial to our Kilner bottles, obviously) and rock out. Some of my favorite combos are tequila with pineapple, gin with lemongrass, vodka with vanilla beans, and bourbon with cocoa nibs, but the possibilities are seriously endless.

As you can see, there are a TON of killer gift ideas out there, and you don’t even have to spend a ton of money to make great gifts. As a bonus, these gifts are so unique that even the man who has everything doesn’t have them. After all, they were  made with love!

Check back in on Friday to get some great, foolproof, crowd pleasing holiday recipes, both to give as gifts (hello apple cider caramels!) and to serve at your Christmas dinner.

A Very Homemade Christmas – Decor and Crafts

Monday, December 9th, 2013

We’re obviously big into baking and crafting around here. Anyone who happens across our blog knows that. And this time of the year, it seems that crafts and treats are absolutely everywhere! Instead of getting overwhelmed by the over-abundance of craftiness, we decided to pare things down a little and put together some of our favorites in an easy little roundup.  Merry Christmas!

This post will cover Christmas crafts and decor, from easy crafts you can do in an hour to crafts that take an entire day. If you check back in later in the week, we’ll be posting a homemade gift roundup and a Christmas treat roundup, so keep checking back.

snowglobes in jars

I absolutely love snow globes. Sure, I don’t have as many as I used to, thanks largely to the TSA not being so fond of me carrying them on the plane, but around this time of the year, I make my own christmas-y snow globes to decorate my home.  I follow this really simple tutorial from the incomparable Martha Stewart and I always get great results.  I use everything from big, half liter preserve jars for detailed scenes to our tiniest blue top jars for snow globes that double as ornaments – Just hot glue a ribbon to the top!

icey luminaries

I’m based out of LA and I totally miss the snow and ice.  To bring a little winter into my holiday decor, I got inspired by this post on Epsom salt luminaries. The effect looks just icy enough to bring a little winter into my apartment without requiring any actual defrosting.  I love doing this with my 0.25 liter Kilner jars. They’re just the right size for tea lights and they look really beautiful with the pine boughs on my mantle.

Sweater-Candles

Now, if you love the idea of luminaries, but hate the idea of bringing even pretend ice into your house, consider a cozier approach, like the folks from Brit & Co did – Sweater luminaries. Lately, Everything from christmas ornaments to pillows have been bundled up in sweater-style knits, so why to create luminaries that do just that?

GlitterMasonJars2

If you’re looking for a festive vase for flowers, evergreen branches or holly, consider a glitter dipped jar, like these stunners from Lilyshop (tutorial here.)  They’re perfectly festive this time of year, look awesome at new years, and really serve as a lively accent all year round!

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Also worth considering is a stunning floral arrangement. We’ve got an easy tutorial for making bountiful flower arrangements work in any sized bowl. Whether you use one of our Mason Cash christmas tree bowls, a large wood bowl, or even a traditional mixing bowl as the base for your arrangement. Pick flowers and foliage that screams Christmas to you (red berries and roses, white lilies, freesia and baby’s breath, evergreen and eucalyptus are a good place to start.) Add in elements of interest, from fruit to christmas ornaments to little bells. Arrange and enjoy, all season long.

We hope that this list gives you some great ideas for decking your halls. If you’ve got any inspired ideas we should feature or if you just want us to share your christmas crafts, email social@pacificmerchants.com.  This time of the year, we’re all about the sharing.   Check back in a couple days to see our homemade gift idea roundup! There are so many great ones!

If you’re looking for more ideas, you can always take a cute from our festive Halloween Painted jars.  Switch out spooky colors for festive ones and jack – o -lantern faces for holiday motifs and you’ve got instant decor!

Cyber Monday!

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Clay Cooker MondayHappy Cyber Monday!  If you’ve been exploring our site, you’ve noticed that we’ve got a TON of awesome specials up on our website! It’s a great day to get ahead on your holiday Bowl Mondayshopping.  We’ve got gifts that are perfect for home cooks, bakers, chefs, entertainers, canners, gardeners, and so much more.  Check out our sale page to see the specials! Discounts from 15%-40% are available. Free Shipping on all orders over $50 for TODAY ONLY!

Our specials include our best-selling Mason Cash Bread Baking set! This set includes a Glazed terracotta mixing bowl that’s perfect for kneading and proofing bread and an unglazed terracotta lid which, when flipped upside-down, doubles as a baking stone!  The terracotta stone makes for a perfectly crisp, crackling crust on every loaf you make, and its ability to retain moisture assures that your bread will have a tender crumb.  The Mason Cash Bread Baking set comes in a full color gift box with a recipe. Any baker would be thrilled to unwrap it on Christmas morning or on any of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Also on sale are beautiful gift-wrapped acaciaware sets, our Clay cooker,  and even all of our Kilner labels! Sure, they may not be the best gift, but if you’re making jams, jellies, or Bread Set Mondayeven candies to give as gifts, they’ll make for really cute wrapping and awesome presentation!