One of the best things about being a writer is being able to write from nearly anywhere. As I type this, I am sitting on the back porch of a friend’s home in Cleveland, looking over the pond and bird sanctuary that is visible from their window. My husband, Scott, and I travel to our hometown at least once a year. This time around, we decided to house swap with friends, Jan and Ken, who makes the same yearly trek to Hawaii to visit family as well.

Jan is a retired elementary school teacher, and her past profession is evident throughout their home. Handmade, personalized teacher appreciation gifts adorn the walls, and Jan’s own creations shine throughout as well. True to form, she also left us handy sticky notes, which let us know which drawers were empty, how to use things like the wine opener and salt and pepper grinders, and how to navigate the televisions. Crafty and creative as she is, Jan also has plenty of mason jars on hand. These versatile items are relatively inexpensive, available in bulk, and offer more than just a place to store food. Consider some of these ideas:

Trap grease


Capture used cooking oil or bacon fat. Simply pour into the mason jar and allow to cool completely. You can save for a later use, if desired, or toss.

Light the way

Place battery-powered tea lights inside mason jars and line your walkway or lanai. Make it easy by using remote-control tea lights, which will allow you to illuminate the path with just the click of a button.


On the bathroom counter, use mason jars for common items like toothbrushes, cotton swabs, cotton balls, bobby pins and hair ties. In the kitchen, use them for dish brushes, paper straws or pens. Leave the jars clear or paint them to match your existing decor.

Add life


Mason jars can double as flower vases or miniature flowerpots. You can also use them to create an herb garden. Mount the jars, if desired, or leave them freestanding so that you can rotate according to various sunlight needs.

Get strung

Punch a hole in the lid of a mason jar. Then place a spool of twine, ribbon or yarn inside. Thread an end through the hole and close the lid. This will help to keep the spool tangle-free.

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