Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

Top 10 Creative Holiday Gifts

Friday, December 2nd, 2016
  1. These Whimsical Parchment Cheese Leaves

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    For your fanciful loved one we have these adorable and food friendly parchment leaves. Whether you gift the leaves themselves or use them to construct one of the centerpieces above, these table decorations give any holiday table a festive aesthetic without being too “campy”. I use mine to serve appetizers to guests, but there are a ton of creative crafts you can use them for as well as decorating your table (without having to actually use dead leaves – yuck!)

    2. This Rustic Acacia wood Cheese Paddle Set

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    The holidays are a time for family, friends, and appetizers. When I hosted my first holiday dinner I had poured my all into the menu, without giving any thought to how I was going to actually going to serve my delicious dishes. Save your new host/hostess from scrambling around the kitchen with this live edge cheese paddle, that is sure to give your holiday cheese log that festive country-chic vibe.

    3. This Acacia Wood Condiment Set

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    These are perfect for the person in your life that is obsessed with that ‘food blog’ look (or like me just can’t stand to see plastic bottles on a beautifully set table). Get them all set up for an Instagram worthy table top with these guys.

    4. This Mortar & Pestle with a Potted Fresh Herb

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    Fresh ground herbs are a gift in themselves (fresh ground mint in green tea is one of my favorite things on this planet), but I also love the action of grinding my own herbs. Mostly because I enjoy pretending I’m on chopped as soon as I step into my kitchen, but also because it makes the herb brighter in whatever dish you add it to (at least in this poster’s humble opinion). Pair one of our mortar & pestle sets with an herb of your choosing (I always suggest mint or basil), to help your host/hostess discover their inner Chopped contestant this holiday season.

    5. This new Fusion Wood Serving tray

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    If your friend has a family like mine, then you spend your holidays with about 50 plus people. When the bird comes out everyone makes a mad dash for the aluminum tray (that inevitably ends up leaking from all the knives/forks stabbing into the bottom) and results in a cleaning nightmare that not even Martha Stewart would want to deal with. Save your loved one the hassle with this beautiful Fusion Wood (blend of Black Walnut, Oak, Ash, Hard Maple, Acacia, Sapele & Teak) serving tray, perfect for this holiday’s main entrée.

    6. These 4 section Acacia wood serving trays : Get the first one Here, and the second Here.

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    Does your loved one have kids who are picky eaters? Are they themselves picky eaters? This tray is perfect for them! Aside from being the perfect snack tray, it’s a great way to pile on your dinner feast without any of the foods touching each other. Or if you’re like me and can never decide between salsa, guacamole, or queso now you can have all three (ITS LIKE GROWN UP LUNCHABLE NACHOS- You’re WELCOME).

    7. The Movie Night Bowl “basket”

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    Let’s face it, going to the movies is now more expensive for two people than tickets to Disneyland (ok-slight exaggeration but I miss the old days of $5 movie tickets). I love doing movie night at home, and what better surprise for your newly married friends or your parents (or friends with kids even) than with their own home movie night! Get a big ‘Popcorn’ bowl, throw in their favorite movie (or if you want it holiday themed hit the $5 dollar movie bin for some seasonal favorites for cheap), some popcorn & snacks, and maybe a bottle of wine. Then poof! You’ve got your very own adult movie night set (side-note you probably shouldn’t share the wine with the kids- but hey you do you). 😉

    8. Guys Night Out Bowl

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    My husband used to get together with his buddies for poker night once a week when we all used to live closer, and his game nights are the main inspiration for this “basket”. For this gift stuff the bowl with the mixings for some good Dark ‘N’ Stormy’s (one bottle of dark rum & ginger beer), a deck of cards (or Risk), poker chips, chips dip and other assorted snacks, a few cigars if that’s your bag, and follow it up with a Die Hard DVD (in my opinion the best Christmas movie ever made). The men in your life will thank you, I promise.

 

  1. Girls Night Bowlk0475 9509632741_d8e4c32522_b

    This is gift is all about treating yourself. Stuff our Acaciaware ‘popcorn’ bowl with snacks, movies, a massage coupon, and a mandala coloring book and your girlie best friend will be in heaven! Throw in one of our mortar and pestle sets so she can make her very own face masks from scratch. Give her the ultimate night of relaxation and self-care, I bet she deserves it!

Happy Holidays! Here’s Our Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe.

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

With just a week until Christmas, isn’t it time that you have a foolproof sugar cookie recipe?  This recipe makes fantastic cutout sugar cookies that hold their shape and don’t need to chill first – a huge bonus if you’ve got impatient kids, or if you’re just busy. ‘Tis the season of busy, after all.  Read on for a fantastic Christmas cookie recipe that we hear Santa loves! We’re also going to link you to some of our favorite cookie baking and decorating tips from around the web. Huge bonus – even if you’ve got ZERO time to go Christmas shopping, everyone loves a box (or Kilner jar) of cookies. And these are not only super easy to make and highly delicious, but they’re inexpensive – a great way to save some money during this expensive time.

How to make Christmas Cookies, How to make sugar cookies

Items Shown: Acacia Wood Plate

Of course, if you want to buy a gift, we’ve got options, and as long as you place your order by December 23rd, there’s a way to get it to you for Christmas (Call us or Live Chat us for details – Ground shipping WILL NOT necessarily do the trick, depending on where you’re located.)  Check out our Odds-and-Ends section for really cool one-off pieces up to 50% off, or take a look at our Holiday section for gifts and table decor. Or, you know, feel free to browse our entire site. We’ve got some INCREDIBLE gift ideas. Got a baker on the list? We’ve got cake stands.  A holiday junkie? Consider a Mason Cash Christmas bowl. A tea drinker?  Give them a beautiful new teapot!

But enough talk. Let’s bake instead! What makes these cookies extra special? You don’t have to chill the dough before baking. You can freeze the cookies OR the dough. They hold their shape without being too hard. They bake quickly. But most importantly, they’re super-tasty.

Our signature christmas cookie recipe

Items Shown: Holly Leaves, Wood Plate

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of one tangerine or small orange
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 (unless you’re making and freezing the dough.)
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer (or with a hand mixer if you want)  cream together the butter, lemon zest, tangerine zest and sugar until the mixture is well combined.
  4. Add the egg, scrape the bowl, and then add the vanilla extract.
  5. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Don’t over mix or you’ll ruin the texture,  but scrape bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
  6. Once dough is barely incorporated (It’ll still be crumbly, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead it lightly with your hands to combine, then roll to about 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Cut into shapes and put on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown, or freeze flat with parchment between cookies.
  9. Decorate as you see fit! I use a quick royal icing (powdered sugar, lemon juice, egg white) to ice my cookies. Sometimes I go crazy with the sprinkles.

See below for more cookie baking, decorating and gifting tips!

decorated christmas cookie ideas, PLUS christmas cookie decorating tips, tricks, and recipes

Photo Credit: Bake at 350. Check it out – she’s ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!

Need some cookie decorating inspiration?  The Brilliant Bridget over at Bake at 350 (hello, alliteration!) has a killer holiday cooking guide – everything from recipes to tips to decorating ideas all in one place. Click here to be absolutely wowed!

Invisible Outline with Royal Icing_3

Photo Credit: Sweet Sugar Belle!

How about some flawless icing?  This post (and hello, video tutorial) over at Sweet Sugar Belle will have you making professional looking iced cookies in no time!

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Photo Credit: We are Not Martha

Need a pretty cookie that packs? We are Not Martha suggests these sandwich cookies – Check them out at the end of the post, packed in cute holiday gift boxes!

Photo Credit: The Purl Bee via The Kitchn

Need more cookie-wrapping inspiration? Check out this post over on The Kitchn. Everything from jars (hello, Kilner) to take out containers to brown lunch bags can be made into beautiful gift containers with a little ingenuity.

So there you have it, folks. It’s not too late to make (and give) a fabulous holiday gift – I mean really, can you think of anyone who doesn’t like cookies? Whether you’re making our cookies or favorite recipes of yours, whoever is on the receiving end is going to be one lucky friend! And, since it’s a week away, Merry Christmas. If that’s not your thing, Happy Holidays, happy winter, happy day!

 

 

Caramel Apple Recipe and Tutorial: How to Make Caramel Apples

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Can you believe we’re halfway through October? Just two weeks until Halloween. What are you dressing up as? Scroll to the VERY bottom of this post to check out the owner of our company in his costume. ANYWAY, one of my favorite things about this time of year is all the special treats, especially things made with apples. They’re SO good right now being as they’re in season. I can’t get enough apple cider, apple fritters, apple pie, apple cider doughnuts, and especially, caramel apples. They’ve been a favorite since I was a kid and I used to buy them all the time. Now that I know how to make caramel apples at home, they’re a favorite party treat, especially in the mini size shown here; what a perfect serving size! If you’re looking for a Halloween party food, a dessert buffet idea or just a fun lunchbox treat, consider making caramel apples!  Read on for the caramel apple recipe and some tricks and tips, such as how to make the caramel stay on your apple!

Ingredients:

  • 8 large apples or 16 small lady apples (shown)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large pinch sea salt.

Optional Ingredients for toppings:

  • Sea salt
  • Chopped peanuts or almonds, toasted
  • Minced candied ginger
  • Sprinkles
  • Finely chopped chocolate

Special Equipment:

  • Craft Sticks, strong wooden skewers or other sticks for handles
  • Heavy Bottomed non-reactive saucepan
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Bowls large and deep enough to submerge the apples in (to roll toppings)

Instructions:

  1. It’s honestly incredibly easy to make candy apples with the right ingredients, a little patience, and a little know-how. Really, it’s all in the prep. One of the most common pitfalls is making your beautiful caramel and having it slide off the apples. Why does caramel fall off your apples? Simple – most commercially available apples are lightly coated in wax.  To remove the wax, either scuff the surface of the apple with sandpaper or submerge apples in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Like magic, your caramel will stick.
  2. Dry each apple completely and put a stick into the stem end, making sure the stick is solid and secure. Hot caramel burns and you don’t want to be fishing your apples out with your fingers. Craft sticks work better on larger apples, but on our lady apples, wood skewers cut in half did the trick!
  3. Arrange your toppings in bowls. Fill them half to 3/4 of the way full with the toppings of your choice. Chopped peanuts are a classic candy apple topping but my favorite is diced candied ginger. SO spicy and nice for the fall. Also, prepare a tray lined with a piece of parchment paper or greased wax paper. This is where your finished apples will hang out to dry.
  4. Time to make the caramel! Add  your corn syrup, half your heavy cream, your sugar and your butter to a saucepan, making sure the pan is half full at most. Cook over high heat until it is a rich golden color and measures 250 degrees on your candy thermometer.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the heavy cream, vanilla and sea salt, stirring to combine. The mixture will spatter and foam up. That’s normal, and that’s the reason you gave yourself extra room in the pot. Once all the cream and vanilla is incorporated, it’s time to dip.
  6. Dip and turn your wax-less apples in the caramel to coat completely. You may need to tilt the pan to get all the way up on the sides. Hold the apples over the pan and twirl them on their sticks, letting the excess caramel drip off, and back into the pan.
  7. While the caramel is still warm, roll in the topping of your choice and set on the parchment to cool completely. Keep going until you’ve run out of apples or caramel. If you end up with extra caramel, just spoon it into a Kilner jar and pop it in the fridge. Rewarmed, it’ll be amazing over ice cream or your morning yogurt.
How to do the caramel apple dip

Items Shown: Delicious Caramel Apples!

See? Not too hard. And those pictures are making your mouth water, right? This time of the year, there are so many types of apples available, and they all make pretty good caramel apples. But, in my (totally awesome) opinion, the best kind of apple for caramel apples is either granny smith (that sour apple/sweet caramel contrast is amazing), golden delicious, or little tiny lady apples like the ones pictured above.  If you’re serving bigger apples at a party (especially to kids with loose teeth) consider slicing them up for ease. The little ones are easy to bite into so you can skip slicing. And remember, these make a fantastic party favor. Put them in a cellophane bag and tie a ribbon around the stick for instant cuteness.

Oh yeah, I promised a picture of Bruce, President of Pacific Merchants, dressed up for Halloween. Because I ALWAYS keep my promises, here you go!  He takes Halloween very seriously. Can you blame him? It’s the best.

mr peanut

How to Have a Spa Day at Home: Homemade Sugar Scrub and Avocado Honey Face Mask

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub

It’s time to start your home spa journey. Are you ready? Deep breath in! *hyyouuuuuuuuuuuuuuu* Deep breath out *haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa*. Now we’re talking. It’s time to get luxurious in the comfort of your own home.

Whether you’re throwing a spa party for a small group of friends, or enjoying a day off of work and some alone time, you can never go wrong with a spa day. We’re really excited to share both our Homemade Sugar Scrub Recipe, and our delightful Organic Avocado Honey Face Mask. They both take ten minutes or less to prepare, make a great gift for friends and family, and save you tons of money on skincare. I guarantee–if you use this scrub 2-4 times a week and follow your scrub sesh with the avocado and honey face mask application, your skin will feel softer and more hydrated than it has in years. I gave a sample to my mom last week and she is absolutely in love! This is a woman who does not cheap out on her skincare regimen, and who I’ve been trying to convince for years that she doesn’t need anything fancy to upkeep her -already- beautiful skin. Last week she finally used some of this magic scrub, and her mind totally changed:

Mom Sugar Scrub Screen Shot

Mom approved! #Score #ImDoingSomethingRight

The benefits of avocado and coconut oil for skin are endless. If you’re looking for a cheap, easy and healthy way to cleanse and hydrate your skin, look no further.

Sugar Scrub Ingredients

Featured Items: Kilner Blue Top Jars (Made in the UK!), Acacia Wood Round Calabash Bowl, Acacia Wood 12″ Square Plate

Hydrating Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub

What You’ll Need:

1 cup white sugar (you may use brown, but I like to use white for citrus scents.)

1/3 cup coconut oil (found at most local grocery stores these days! People also use coconut oil for hair maintenance, butter substitution in baking and cooking, etc.)

Zest of 1 lime (may substitute with 1/2 grapefruit rind if you would like a noticeably sweeter scent or like this scent better. It will also color the white sugar a lovely coral color.)

5-15 drops lemon or lime essential oil (lemon is easier to find.)

5-10 drops coconut essential oil (optional)

Sugar and Coconut Oil

1. Combine sugar and coconut oil. If it’s too dry for your taste, add more coconut oil and if it’s too oily add some more sugar! The consistency is totally up to you. The nice thing about coconut oil is that it’s almost entirely unscented, so it won’t make a difference in the scent if you add more or choose to dilute it with additional sugar.

Lime Zest

Featured Item: Acacia Wood Round Calabash Bowl

2. Add the grated lime zest to the sugar coconut oil mixture. We actually chopped up our lime peel to make it more chunky, but zesting is recommended and preferred. You can also add lime juice, or even lemon juice/zest. The goal of this scrub is to be generally citrus-y, so if there’s one citrus fruit you prefer, this recipe is definitely flexible! The benefits of lemon and lime include preservational qualities and natural antiseptic properties. By adding a little bit of lemon or lime juice to this scrub we are not only extending its shelf life, but also providing the benefit of a deep, thorough skin cleanse that will kill off many unwanted “germs”. Pretty awesome that this is a natural attribute of the fruit!

3. Add your essential oil drops, and stir thoroughly. If you actually want to smell any coconut you’ll have to add a coconut essential oil. Otherwise, as mentioned above, the coconut oil is basically scentless. This allows you to add as little or as much scent as you want according to personal preference! Brilliant.

Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub

4. Pack your Kilner Jars full of your homemade sugar scrub, and voila! Gift, or keep for yourself. This is a great party favor or group activity for a spa party, wedding shower, or craft day. It’s also entirely edible, so it’s safe to make both around and for kids! If you skip on the coconut oil, this also makes a great “rim sugar” for beverages. Our adorable Blue Top Kilner Jars come in a vast array of shapes and sizes, from a sample size to a more hefty pot of scrub.

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Honey Avocado Face Mask Ingredients

Avocado Honey Face Mask

What You’ll Need:

1 medium to large avocado, preferably ripened

1/3 cup honey

1/2 a lemon or lime (to squeeze!)

1 Kilner .25L Preserve Jar

Scooping Avocado

1. Scoop the avocado into an Acaciaware Bowl from its shell. This recipe makes 1 small jar of face mask, which is good for personal use. If you’re making a larger batch, simply multiply the ingredients by the number of jars you’d like to make.

Add Honey to Face Mask Mix

2. Add the honey. At this point it’s also time to add that squeeze of lemon or lime; this will keep the mix green/fresh for a longer time due to the acidic properties of the juice.

Mash the Avocados for Face Mask

3. Mash the avocado honey mixture with a spoon or with your hands! This part is fun. How easy is this?! If you’re looking for an extremely smooth avocado face mask, put the mixture into a glass or metal mixing bowl and use an immersion blender to smooth out/puree the avocado honey mix.

Finished Honey Avocado Face Mask

4. Apply liberally to your face after using the coconut lime sugar scrub. That’s literally it! The face mask has a shelf life of about 3-5 days in the fridge. Sometimes it even lasts a little longer. We’d love to know how you like both the sugar scrub and this face mask: please tell us in the comments, or shoot us an email at social(at)pacificmerchants.com!

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Last but not least, no home spa day is complete without hydration. Staying hydrated is a great way to make your skin truly glow, and your body function at its full capacity. Your body works so much better when it has water! Sometimes drinking plain water can be boring though, so we decided to try out a flavored water recipe.

Flavored Water

Featured Items: Kilner Vintage Clip Top Bottles, Kilner .5L Preserve Jars, and our Acacia Wood Baguette Tray.

Strawberry Water

Featured Item: .5L Kilner Preserve Jar

Simply add quartered strawberries and sliced lime to your water for a lovely and naturally sweet-sour flavor, or a combo of basil and cucumber for a crisp, savory flavoring. Do this in a Kilner Bottle, and keep refrigerated for a few hours before serving so the fruit has a chance to more greatly flavor the water. Serve in our adorable .5L Kilner Preserve Jars, and garnish for insane cuteness. I am seriously obsessed with jars, it’s a problem. #JarHoarder

Me (warning: this is terrifying):

Jar Hoarder

Feeling a bit more relaxed? We hope so. Hopefully the above photo didn’t jar you too much on this day of relaxation (get it, get it?).

Let us know how your projects turn out, and if there’s anything you tried that you liked better! Also tag your photos on Instagram with #pacificmerchants to show us what you’re up to. Remember people…it’s all about enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Everything else falls into place.

Love,

Pacific Merchants

Pacific Merchants Presents: DecoLeaves Cheese leaves

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Leaves for food presentation. Foodsafe cheese leaves parchment leaves french leaves

We’ve got exciting changes afoot here at Pacific Merchants! If you’re a regular on our website, you may have noticed a few new items, and even a few new categories!  Over the next week or so, we’re going to be featuring a ton of new items, so get ready!  First up, we’re thrilled to introduce our new line of DecoLeaves – totally food safe parchment cheese leaves to amp up your food presentation.  Whether you’re decorating a table or lining a cheese board, these beautiful, detailed leaves and flowers will add color and visual interest to your table! Plus, they’re made and packaged right here in the USA!

leaves for cheese, food, table decorations

We’ve got cheese leaves (and flowers, too!) for all seasons.  If you want to deck a spring table in roses  and sunflowers, we’d love to help you. If you’re putting together a wine and cheese tasting, we’ve got the perfect grapes and grape leaves to compliment your spread. If you’re already planning that perfect summer luau, we’ve got banana leaves and tropical leaves to help you decorate. Bonus: our cheese leaves and flowers compliment our acacia wood trays SO perfectly. If you’re putting out a cheese board or a tray of appetizers, look into acacia (if you haven’t already!) We’ve even got leaves for holiday decor, though we know that’s a long way off.

foodsafe parchment leaves decoleaves euroquest leaves, french leaves

No matter what kind of gathering you’re planning this spring/summer, make sure to invite decoLeaves! They’re an easy way to add a splash of color to even the most casual barbecue or picnic, and they’re a beautiful way to bring a touch of whimsy to more formal affairs! We’ve even seen them incorporated into gift wrapping or used for crafts!

party supply leaves, party decor, decorations, cheese leaves

 

 

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

Friday, March 7th, 2014

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 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 pincushion from a #kilnerjar – it doubles as a 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.

 

The Pacific Merchants Guide to Gift Wrapping: Gift Wrapping Ideas that Pop!

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Sure, putting a bow on it may not be quite as hip as, say, putting a bird on it, but creative wrapping sure makes gifts stand out! Now that we’re stocked up on carefully chosen, lovingly made ornaments, we’re all about putting as much care into the wrapping as the gift itself. It really is an art form, so we scoured the internet looking for great gift wrapping ideas!

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First up, gift wrap doesn’t have to be pricey to be beautiful. Check out these totally recycled, totally free ideas from Martha Stewart. Wrap in maps (free at a lot of tourist information centers,) newspaper, and even brown paper bags. When packed with a pop of colorful ribbon, a contrasting gift tag, or even a little twine, they look SO unique.

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Of course, a gift doesn’t even have to be all wrapped up to be wrapped. A beautiful, re-usable container, like a cookie tin or Kilner jar, a pop of colorful ribbon, and a pretty gift tag are all it takes to turn a gift festive. And you can pack anything, from cookies to tiny toys in jars. I mean come on, who doesn’t want a big jar full of hot wheels?

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Gotta wrap a gift at the office? At home without ribbon? Substitute colored paper. This super-cool idea from Real Simple Magazine features plain white paper and a contrasting paper “ribbon” that’s simply a strip of colored paper with holes punched in it. Could it BE any easier?

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One of our favorite blogs, Garland of Grace, featured one these oh-so-classic “brown paper packages tied up with strings” recently. I love the perky addition of gold paint and fresh greens to wrapping so traditional it’s immortalized in song.  Plus, you can do this with brown paper bags, making it a recyclable idea. I wonder if Julie Andrews has a song about recycling.

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Another one of my absolute favorites, Styling My Everyday, featured this chalkboard inspired paper.  I’m loving the chalkboard trend right now (stay tuned for some chalkboard-inspired products in the new year) They used black kraft paper, and a white paint marker to create some totally unique gifts – And check out the way the ribbon pops against the black and white!

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Last but not least, another one of our faves, How About Orange featured these snowflake-adorned parcels. Still not quite as hip as putting  a bird on it (HUGE Portlandia fan here,) but in sun-soaked California, these snowflakes are a welcome addition to an otherwise green and sunny Christmas!

What are some of your favorite ways of wrapping gifts? Let us know in the comments! I’m always looking for beautiful ideas!

A Very Homemade Christmas – 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 christmas gifts that’ll thrill even the trickiest folks on your list. So break out your Kilner jars and put those crafting hats on!

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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!

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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 – Christmas Crafts and Decor

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.

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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?

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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 [email protected]  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!


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