Tip #149 : Use What’s Useful
“Bread with butter. And jam. Yes.” Faye repeats the phrase, smacking her lips in the identical way almost every morning of her life. Jam gets spread onto bread and cheeks and fingertips. Rinse. Repeat.
James’s bread baking habit, and Faye’s lip-smacking habit means that lately we have a preponderance of Bonne Maman jam jars in our apartment. (No time for homemade jam in this season of our lives.) I’m not complaining. All it takes to give a jam jar a second life is a run through the dishwasher. The hot water lifts the paper wrapper from the jar and washes the glue residue away, no scrubbing required.
The short and squat size of the jars make them useful for anything from stashing half a lime to mixing salad dressings. There’s almost always a leftover portion of morning oatmeal tucked into one in hopes that a 6:00 am call for breakfast can be quickly satisfied.
And of course there are the dry goods: Used up half a mason jar’s worth of rice? Pour the remainder into a jam jar and I gain a larger jar for storing an extra night’s worth of soup. Overconfident in the bulk section? I pour the overflow tablespoons of dried beans into a smaller jar. Stopped myself from eating the last handful of almonds, but now I need the quart-sized jar for self-care tulips? Whither the Bonne Maman?
If you’re beginning to wonder, the answer is yes, I rather enjoy spending an undisclosed amount of time shuffling the contents of jars in the name of space efficiency.
More than only being helpful for food stuffs, jam jars are helpful for kitchen miscellany of the non-edible variety. Like the tiny bags we use to keep cabinet clutter wrangled, glass jars get put to work as tiny kitchen storage. Most recently, I rearranged a kitchen cabinet to pull glass baby bottles and nipples and bottle caps from the impossible-to-reach top shelf where they’ve been hiding for the past year and half, to one that’s more readily accessible. (Can’t climb on a stool every time I need a bottle; can’t have those damn nipples flying out of the cabinet every time I open it.)
Outside of the kitchen, jam jars store toddler pencils and pencil shavings. They wrangle combs and hair elastics. They give an air-tight home to that last bit of paint, just in case a wall needs touching up. (And there’s a toddler in the house. The walls need touching up.)
But for all of my love of jam jars, there’s a caveat: One can become compulsive about saving jars or other maybe-I’ll-use-this-one-day things. Before you know it, you’ve got a cabinet (or a basement) overflowing with neatly stacked jars awaiting their eventual use.
So here’s my advice: use what’s useful, but don’t let yourself drown in potential usefulness. Jars piling up? Plop a few flowers in them and surprise your neighbors with a spring bouquet, no need to return the “vase.”
Everything in moderation, including jam jars.