Stir-and-Pour Bread Mix ~ a Great $1.00 Gift Idea

stir and pour bread loaf 4

Wow, Laura. You sure do talk about Stir-and-Pour Bread a lot.

Does this surprise you? Did I or did I not warn you that the Stir-and-Pour Bread would change your life? I did. There’s no way I will ever go back to the “old way” of making bread when this recipe makes a bread just as good with such a tiny amount of effort. I can’t stop talking about it!!!!!

We could talk about the weather if you want. Brr. It’s cold. I could really go for some warm homemade bread.

Well, I tried.

So guess what? All of the dry ingredients for Stir-and-Pour Bread fit in a one-quart jar! This means that you can fill jars with bread mix, tie them up with pretty ribbons, and give the gift that will change people’s lives!

I mean, Jesus is really what changes people’s lives. But Jesus is the Bread of Life, so there is a very deep connection here that we should discuss at length. Perhaps while the bread is in the oven baking???

Stir-and-Pour Bread Mix Gift Jar with Free Printable Gift Tags

This gift idea costs about $1.00 per jar. For a more elaborate gift that is still on the frugal side, how about gifting this jar of bread mix with a new ceramic bread dish? Who wouldn’t love that?? You could include a jar of homemade jelly. Maybe a jug of honey. A stick of butter? Well, that might be taking things too far.

Stir-and-Pour Bread Mix in a Jar

Stir-and-Pour Bread Mix ~ a Great $1.00 Gift Idea
 
Author:
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • 4 cups flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sucanat or sugar
Instructions
  1. Stir ingredients and funnel into a quart-sized jar.
  2. Add gift tag with instructions to add water and bake!

I created a printable with instructions on how to stir together the bread and bake it. Print them, cut them, and tie them onto your gift jar!

Download FREE Stir-and-Pour Bread Tags

Stir and Pour Bread Mix Gift TagsCheck out the other recent low cost gift ideas I shared earlier this week. Tis the season to turn food into gifts, right? Right.

How to Store Leftovers in Jars

This post was originally published in June, 2011. I still love jars.

It is no secret that I love jars.

Big jars, little jars, tall jars, short jars…they’re all useful. One of my favorite ways to use jars is to store leftovers.

Many have asked how in the world it works to store leftovers in jars – isn’t it hard to get the food in and out of the jar?? I have two words for you:  Wide Mouth. (No-no, I’m not calling you a Wide Mouth. Oh dear. I’m just saying that wide mouth jars are my favorite and the most wonderful for storing leftovers.)

The regular jars are fine and I like to use them for canning produce and such, but give me a wide mouth jar and I can do all kinds of things with it. You can fit your whole hand into a wide mouth jar, making it easy to wash or to put food in and take food out.

The best thing about having leftovers (and other food) in jars is that you can clearly see what is in the jar, unless of course the jar somehow got shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten, causing it’s contents to change somewhat in appearance.  Not that any of us would ever let that happen.  But really, I can open my fridge and easily see if I need to make more Ranch Dressing, if we have any homemade sour cream, if we have enough cooked chicken to make dinner and what kinds of leftovers are available for lunch.  As you saw in this post, my fridge is full of jars of all shapes and sizes. Let’s talk just a little bit about those jars, because many of you have asked what kind I have and where I get them.

Pint and Half Pint wide mouth jars are wonderful for storing leftover vegetables, small bits of casserole, little portions of leftover meat, etc. I have a nice variety of wide mouth pint and half pint jars that I can grab depending on what I need to store. These wide mouth pint jars are great for my homemade dressings and homemade peanut butter.

Someone gave me this set of Ball Wide Mouth 1/2 Pint Elite Jars for Christmas last year and I LOVE them. They are short and perfect for small amounts of leftovers. They’re also quite cute, not that it matters, but shucks cute jars are fun.

My favorite, favorite, absolute all time favorite kinds of jars for leftovers are the Elite Pint Sized jars When we were going through my mom’s canning supplies after she died, I found loads of them and brought them home. I love canning with them and using them for leftovers. They are the perfect size for me to use at least 80 different ways in my kitchen. And they are from my mama.  Of course I love them best.

I also use Quart Sized Wide Mouth Jars constantly, both for canning and for storing leftovers. I find the quart sized wide mouth jars work great for storing leftover soup, sloppy joe meat, cooked chicken, creamy mac and cheese, etc.

In addition, I have several sets of Wide Mouth 1/2 Gallon Sized Jars, which I use mostly for our milk, but also for chicken broth and large amounts of soup. I buy these Wide Mouth 1/2 Gallon Sized Jars from Azure Standard, but you can also get them from Amazon or sometimes at hardware stores.

Which leads me to:  Where is the best place to buy jars? That’s hard to say. You can get several different kinds from Azure Standard if this is accessible to you. The best place to find jars for very little money is yard sales or auctions.  I’ve also acquired many jars from people who are simply not canning anymore. It pays to ask around to see who might have jars they’re not using anymore – they are usually happy to get rid of them!

If you’re going to purchase jars, like some of the specialty sizes I mentioned such as the Elite which are harder to find, I’d say you are making a pretty good investment. They’re less expensive than tupperware, and because they are glass, they are safe and will not leach plasticy chemicals into your food. Being able to see your food in the fridge is an invaluable time saver.

By the way, I love having a drawer full of Wide Mouth Plastic Lids, which makes it super simple to fill the jar and throw leftovers in the fridge. I have Regular Mouth Plastic Lids as well, I love having both. They’re so clean and nice!

One last thing:  for storing leftovers like lasagna or hamburger patties – foods that would be hard to put into a wide mouth jar, I love having these Pyrex dishes with lids. They are fantastic for storing leftovers and warming them up in the oven or toaster oven right in the dish.

Phew. Well, you just found out way more about my leftovers than you ever wanted to know. Again, let’s just be clear that I was not calling you a Wide Mouth. Although, after reading my post, you would realize that even if I was calling you a Wide Mouth (which I wasn’t), it would have been a compliment.

How do you store your leftovers?

What You’ve Always Never Wanted to Know About Me

Throughout this week, I’ve been trying to answer questions that I receive frequently. So far, I’ve tackled Why I Don’t Have a Sams or Costco Membership, How I Store Fruits and Vegetables to Keep Them Fresh, and Why We Don’t Eat Many Sandwiches For Lunch. This led me to re-read my FAQs page which is located in the drop down menu bar across the top of my website. I decided it needed updating. I also decided I should share it with you here to answer all those questions about me that you’ve been dying to know – even though I’m absolutely sure that many of you have laid awake at night wondering about none of this.

Heavenly Homemakers Frequently Asked Questions

HOW do you get everything done? It seems like with homeschooling, cooking from scratch, cleaning and keeping up with your website…you must never sleep.

I do work hard – and I bet you do too.  I never get everything done but yes, I sleep. All work and no sleep makes Laura completely unproductive and ridiculously ridiculous when trying to carry on a conversation. So how do I attempt to keep up with all my responsibilities?

Well, for starters, I haven’t cleaned our toilets in about three years. I find that this frees up my time to be enjoyed in other ways – like writing and cooking.

Another way I get quite a bit of work done each day is that I tend to work rather fast – so much so that a perfectionist might watch me work and be very annoyed. I hardly ever measure ingredients when I cook, I don’t care if something I’m making looks perfect, I often leave cabinet doors open, and most days my hair is pulled back into a ponytail which means I can complete my “try to at least look presentable in case the UPS man shows up” routine in approximately 2.8 minutes.

Our four boys are not babies anymore, so I don’t have to watch them constantly to make sure they don’t put light bulbs into their mouths. Plus, all of my boys are old enough to do a lot of work to help out around the house. For the record, they do a fine job scrubbing our toilets. Wow, and here you thought… Have mercy.

How do you pronounce your kid’s names? And, how did you come up with them?

We chose unique names for our kids because when we were in college there were so many people named Matt and Laura. Plus, when I taught school, I felt bad for the kids having to be called by their last name since they were in a classroom with three other kids that shared their first name. We also wanted Bible names for our kids, just because we did. So, unique Bible names it is.

Our four boys are:

Asa (ay-suh)….was a good king (one of the few). You can read about him in 1 Kings 15:8-24.

Justus (jus-tus)…spent time with Jesus and was considered as a replacement for Judas as apostle. (Acts 1:23)

Elias (ee-lie-us)…is another form of the name Elijah.

Malachi (mal-uh-kie)…a prophet, the last book of the Old Testament.

While we’re on the subject, my name, Laura, is pronounced (lah-rah). Like the music note, la la la. It’s not hard, really. Most people pronounce it (lor-ah) because that’s what they are used to when they see L-a-u-r-a. However, my mom was from the south, and she always loved the name Laura, pronounced the apparent southern way, Lahrah. Almost everyone calls me Lora and I always answer to Lora and I don’t fault anyone for calling me Lora because they just aren’t used to it. But if/when people do pronounce my name correctly, I truly do appreciate it and love it. Just a little something to keep in mind if I ever meet you in person, you say Lahra, and I tear up a little bit.

For the record, Matt has said it correctly from the night of our very first date and I’m pretty sure hearing him say Lahra in the college student center is what made me fall in love with him right then and there.

And speaking of Matt, so that he doesn’t feel left out, his name is pronounced (mat).

Is it loud at your house with all those boys?

I’m sorry, did you say something?

How much do you spend on groceries each month? How do you eat such healthy food on such a tight budget?

You can get an idea of what our real food grocery budget was like a few years ago by reading my Getting Real with Food series, and my Feeding the Family series. At this point though, with two teenage and two pre-teen boys – all four of whom are very active and have huge appetites, growing feet, and long, long legs – I really can’t give you an exact grocery dollar amount. I do my best to feed us real food economically, and I believe cooking from scratch and buying in bulk saves us hundreds of dollars each month. As for how much I spend each month, it varies depending on our meat supply and our grocery purchase needs. But let’s just say we go through a lot of groceries. A lot of groceries.  shocking amount of much food. Okay, you get the point.

I want to start feeding my family a healthy, real food diet. Where do I start?

This is a loaded question, and one I hear multiple times daily. That’s why I created a very inexpensive, absolutely pressure free, and completely thorough eCourse to walk you through this process of changing your kitchen into a Real Food Kitchen. Check out You Can Do This! The First Five Steps to a Real Food Kitchen.

What do you feel are the most important aspects of healthy eating?

Another loaded question, which I answer in a total of 31 posts. Wow, someone has a lot of words, doesn’t she? Yeah well, we’re talking about healthy eating here – one of my favorite subjects. Read my 31 Days of Real Food Reality posts to learn what I feel is most important, and how I keep it simple!

Which do you love more – butter or jars?

Oh now, you know I just love me a jar full of butter. I store almost everything in jars, and without a doubt, butter makes everything better…or my name isn’t Laura (Lahra).

So now your turn.  Tell me something about you. How do you get everything done every day? How many kids do you have? What’s your grocery budget like? And I really must know – how do you pronounce your name???

12 Days of Gifts in a Jar…Begins Tuesday {Get Your Free eBook Now!}

Woe is me.  As of late, my life has been filled with difficulty and hardship.  

While I’ve been preparing for this new Christmas feature, I’ve had to do hours of work with lots of jars from my huge collection. I’ve been tirelessly digging through my stash to find jars of different shapes and sizes. I’ve had to experiment with new recipes to see what food items work well to be baked in a jar and what mixes fit nicely in my jars.

As you can imagine, utilizing jars and playing with recipes has just been so very stressful for me (she says, with the back of her weary hand held pitifully upon her pinched up forehead, as she works in vain to hold back her despondent tears). 

I just thought {sniff} that maybe {snort} some of you would appreciate seeing some new and very inexpensive gift ideas. And that maybe some fresh Gifts in a Jar ideas would help you figure out what you could give to teachers, neighbors, co-workers, friends, or that “hard to buy for” person this Christmas season.

And if you really think I’ve been weeping over my lot in life as I’ve prepared for this, you must be new around here. (Welcome to HeavenlyHomemakers.com. We are so very glad to have you here.) 

I LOVE JARS!!!!!  I love recipes! And if you put food in a jar, I get even more excited because those are two of my very favorite things. Put together. In one place. At the same time!!

I think food in a jar looks so pretty and well, when I see it, sometimes I actually do shed a tear.

So thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my happy heart for providing me with this wonderful opportunity to make food and put it into a jar with a lovely ribbon around the top (she says, with the tips of her trembling fingers pressed tenderly upon her smiling lips as she calms her quivering chin and tries to gain her composure). 

All this (nonsense) to say:

Beginning Tuesday, and continuing on for 12 consecutive days, we will be featuring 12 fun, new Gifts in a Jar ideas. There will be fun for all ages and genders. Gifts of food, gifts for the jokester, gifts for the difficult to buy for, gifts for everyone.

And all of the gifts are in jars. It does not get any better than that. (This is where you all just play along and act like you understand how much I love jars even if you really think I am a weird jar fanatic with too much glass in my house.)

I hope to see you all here as we feature all 12 of these ideas. I hope to hear more of your fun ideas as we share ours. And I hope you will all discover some new gift ideas to use this Christmas season.

Want to get started right away? Download this free Gifts in a Jar eBook that Heavenly Homemakers readers helped put together last year. It is filled with fun gift and recipe ideas – great for any time of the year, but especially helpful right now. Read more about the Gifts in a Jar eBook here.

Download Gifts in a Jar eBook HERE

Stay tuned for 12 days of additional ideas. Dust off those jars. It’s gift making time!

Oh Beautiful Jars!! Stocked and Ready For Gawking

One of the jobs on my “To Do” List was to refill all of the jars in my pantry so that I’d have easy access to all of the staple ingredients I reach for so often. Since I typically purchase these ingredients in 25-50 pound quantities, I store them big buckets, and pour a smaller portion into easy-access jars in my kitchen, refilling as needed. (Read more here about where I purchase most of my food, and scroll through these posts to learn more about my bulk shopping and storage.)

My favorite part of this system, besides the fact, of course, that this just makes my life easier and saves us money while we strive to eat a whole foods diet is this:  I love staring at my jars full of pretty food.

It’s a slight obsession. A major obsession? Yeah, probably something like that.

Well, after just a few minutes of going back and forth from storage room to kitchen, lugging buckets and bags of dry goods (a great upper arm work-out!), all of my jars are re-stocked and ready to go. Pasta, sucanat, wheat, salt, beans, corn, and rice. Oh so beautiful.

 This is the part of my pantry I stare at when I most need a fix:

Hey, it’s much healthier than my former Pepsi addiction, right? :)

Gifts in a Jar eBook – the FREE Download is Here!

Our Gifts in a Jar eBook is now complete and ready for download! This eBook is free for everyone and absolutely full of inexpensive and clever homemade gift ideas, inspired by you!

A huge thank you goes out to all of you who took the time to provide wonderful pictures and instructions to include in this eBook. This eBook includes wonderful gift ideas such as pudding mix, bath salts, diaper rash ointment, cookie mix, seasoning mixes, chai mix, soup mixes, facials, hot fudge and much more. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me, and I am very grateful for the help you all gave to make this eBook fun and helpful!

Click the link below to download this free eBook.

Download Gifts in a Jar eBook HERE

 

Announcing: Gifts in a Jar! {A Group Effort}

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this here or not, but I really, really love  jars. Oh, I’m sorry, it seems that I have spoken of my jar obsession one or forty-eight times.

Doesn’t it just make sense then that we put together some posts and even an eBook featuring Gifts in a Jar? Yes, it really does make perfect sense. We’ve decided, since you are all full of so many wonderful ideas, to make this a group project.  Come closer my friends – let me share the details.

During the next two weeks, I’ll be compiling any and all (okay, not necessarily all – see the rules below) of your Gifts in a Jar ideas.  (I will give you full credit in the eBook for your idea.)  While gifts of food and baking mixes are perfect for this project, I’d also love to see your ideas go beyond food. Do you have ideas for natural bath and body or household products? Know any fun ways to decorate jars or use jars for home decor? Oooh, and does anybody have a great tutorial on making liquid soap dispensers out of jars? I’ve seen those before and they are SO cool!!!

The possiblilites are endless for gifts we can put together in jars. With Christmas coming up, the timing couldn’t be better. (Although, I’d love for this eBook to be full of ideas that can be used any time of the year – not just Christmas.)

You may recall a post in which I shared Teresa’s Gift Certificate in a Jar idea. This, of course, will be featured in the eBook.

Here are the rules and guidelines for Gifts in a Jar submissions:

  • You may email me up to three ideas. One idea is fine though, or yes, even two.
  • Email your ideas to laura @ heavenlyhomemakers dot com no earlier than yesterday and no later than midnight on Thursday, November 10, 2011. I’ll probably be asleep by that time though, so as long as your idea is in my inbox by the morning of the 11th, you’re good to go.
  • So that I can keep your idea email separate from other emails I receive, please type the words Gifts in a Jar in the subject line of your email. You could also type Wow Laura, Your Ponytail is Stunning as the subject line, but be aware that your idea may get lost among all of my other hair related fan mail.
  • Each idea submitted must be accompanied by at least one nice picture. Not a picture of your kids, although I’m sure I’d enjoy that too.  I am referring to a picture of your finished gift in a jar. An entire picture tutorial is fine too, but only if necessary.
  • Some of the ideas sent to me will be posted here on my blog, with credit (and blog link if applicable) given to the sender. I won’t be able to post all of the ideas though because knowing how clever you all are, your Gifts in a Jar ideas would probably take over this website, leaving no room for Gratituesday, Crock Pot Recipes or other important posts in which I share about the times birds fly into my face while I’m putting decorations away in the attic.
  • I’d prefer the food gifts and baking mixes to include whole food ingredients – as much as possible. Since these are gifts, I’ll compromise a little on this. But I really shy away from ingredients such as margarine, Crisco and I can’t think of the name of it right now, but it’s that stuff I can’t pronounce. You know what I’m talking about? Yeah, let’s avoid that one.
  • Please include thorough instructions with your idea. For example, if you send me a brownie baking mix in a jar idea, please let me know what exactly is to be included in the jar, the size of the jar needed, as well as clear instructions for the recipient so they know how to actually make the brownies after they take your gift home.
  • Since we all enjoy saving money, I’d appreciate it if the gift ideas you send cost just a few dollars or less. If that’s not an ambiguous amount, I don’t know what is.

Just as soon as I begin to receive your emails, I will begin to compile your wonderful ideas into a Gifts in a Jar eBook, which will be offered FREE to everyone.  This eBook will be ready for release just as soon as I have it finished. If that’s not an ambiguous time frame, I don’t know what is.

Let the creative Gifts in a Jar ideas begin to flow – I’ll be watching for your emails!

Big Jar, Tiny Bananas, and the Nine Year Old Who “gets it”

Okay, everybody…you know I don’t buy stuff. I usually encourage everyone else to stop buying stuff. I recommend that you don’t even look at stuff so that you aren’t tempted to buy it. Buying stuff generally wastes money, needs to be dusted and clutters up a house. Stuff is over-rated.

But…

You know I love jars. Jars are beautiful and jars are practical and jars get used at my house constantly. I’ve been given a countless number of canning jars and storage jars. I’ve found wonderful jars for pennies at yard sales. My house and my pantry are full of jars of all sizes.

But I don’t buy stuff, which is why I had such a struggle at the store the other day. I had Elias (9) and Malachi (6) with me at the time.  We were in the “canning aisle” looking for some more of those nice plastic lids for my wide mouth jars, which unfortunately, they didn’t have.  I was backing out of the aisle when on the top shelf I saw a wonderfully, incredibly cute and fantastically huge jar. It was thick and sturdy and it said “Ball” on it and I fell in love.

But I’m a person who doesn’t buy stuff

So I kept backing out  of the aisle, and the boys followed me. And then I felt myself magnetized back into the canning aisle, and before I knew it, instead of going in reverse, I was moving forward. Suddenly, I was holding the jar, examining it closely. The boys were quite bored with the whole situation, until I exclaimed something like, “think of the cookies we could put in this thing!”  and then they also liked the jar.

I didn’t really need any more jars, and I don’t buy stuff…so I put the jar back on the shelf (I may have hugged it first), and then I backed out of the aisle and walked away.

We went to the produce section and picked up a few things we needed (and now I’m just rambling) but in the produce section we found these adorable, little bananas. I’d never seen such tiny bananas before and the boys thought they were the coolest bananas ever. They were only 97¢ for the whole bunch, so we decided to grab them for a snack.

Now we were ready to check out, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that jar. In my head, the jar was already in my kitchen, filled with delicious treats for my family…or filled with rice or beans and looking cute on top of my fridge…or filled with a nice batch of Limeade with floating ice cubes and lemon and lime slices…

Somehow, for the third time in fifteen minutes, we ended up back in the canning aisle. (Elias and Malachi are great sports…and are also quite used to having a weird mom.)

I made a decision. I was going to splurge and buy that jar. It was $10.47 for Pete’s Sake, which was an excellent price for such a nice jar. It’s not like I was going to be taking the meat and vegetables out of my children’s mouths so that I could “support my habit”.

I put the beautiful jar into my cart, stepping all over myself as I began to launch into a long, yet eloquent lecture to the boys about how we don’t normally just see something at the store and decide to buy it “just because we like it” or even if we love it, because that’s how money gets thrown away and we really want to be careful with money and not wasteful…

And everything I said was totally sinking into their sponge-like brains, I’m sure.

Then Elias interrupted to say, “But Mom…at least this is something you’re really going to use a lot.”

Maybe he was still thinking about the cookies I was going to put into the jar…but yes, he was right. I’m really going to use this little (big) splurge of a jar. Oh look…I already am.

See, isn’t it beautiful?  (It’s okay with me if you don’t think so. I love my jar.)

(And you can’t have it.)  ;)

If you didn’t already know that I am weird and obsessed about jars, now you know. And now you also know how hard it is for me to spend money on things that aren’t food or socks. Shucks, who am I kidding? 

I have a terrible time making myself buy new socks.

:)

What’s your obsession? Do you love jars? Do you drag your children back to specific aisles at the store so that you can hug things? Do you struggle to spend money on socks?

Sniff…

If you recall, this is what our corn looked like just a few weeks ago. Matt babied it and worked so hard to keep it weed free.

garden_four

You can imagine, then, our despair when we woke up one morning this week after a big rain and wind storm to find this:

corn

I saw it first…and I HATED to tell Matt about it. It was probably only a couple days away from being ready to eat. sniff 

We learned a little bit from this experience about creating good hills around the base of the corn to prevent this. Of course, we are glad that it was just a small part of our garden and not our livelihood. But still…

We are now about two days out from this unfortunate corn flattening and since the plants are still alive, it would seem that we may still be able to eat some of the corn. Maybe?!

And while I’m whining, I may as well show you this, which ALSO happened this week:

broken_jar

Apparently I had filled it too full of broth when I put it in the freezer because it cracked quite a lot. Which means that not only did I lose my beloved jar, but I also lost a half gallon of nutritious broth. I mean…maybe I could have strained out glass pieces from the broth…but did I really feel like taking a chance that one of us would have a tiny little piece of broken glass in our chicken and rice? Um, no.

So there you have it. And you thought you visited my blog for a daily dose of encouragement.  Instead, you come visit and Laura is whining about her fallen corn and her broken jar. 

Let’s see…maybe I can come up with some encouragement for you:

  • Sometimes jars break and corn falls over. When this happens you have to throw away a bunch of good broth and bear the bad news to your husband that a lot of his hard work just went to waste. It’s a chance to practice being a good help meet. (That was not at all encouraging.)
  • Sometimes jars break and corn falls over. Broth kinda looks neat with glass floating in it. (Better?)
  • Sometimes jars break and corn falls over. At least the corn all laid down the same way in the garden so as to be consistent. (I’m trying.)
  • Sometimes jars break and corn falls over. It’s a good thing two of my kids aren’t big on eating corn on the cob anyway. (Right?)
  • Sometimes jars break and corn falls over. When I poured the broth onto the ground (in an untraveled area) I bet some raccoon had a really great and nutritious feast lapping it up later. (Always good to help the coons build strong bones and better immune systems.)
  • Sometimes jars break and corn falls over. Eh, I don’t really like jars that much anyway. (Yeah, right.)
  • Sometimes jars break and corn falls over. It’s a delightful chance to talk to your kids about how when we don’t stand with our feet firmly rooted in the strength of Jesus, we just blow over when a strong wind comes. (And then they will look at you with a blank stare because today the wind isn’t blowing.)
  • Sometimes jars break and corn falls over. Basically, you just have to get over it and move on. (Which is real encouragement because it’s the truth.)

And there you have it. ;)