Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Retro, Vintage, Old

Vintage is the new buzzword for old. It’s true that everything old is new again, especially if it has a certain retro or vintage vibe to it. The stuff our parents threw away because it was ugly, or no good, or didn’t fit in anywhere…what I wouldn’t give to have some of those things now.

Over the weekend I was gifted with vintage canning jars; four dozen jars that had been in storage for decades, packed carefully between layers of yellowed, crisp newspaper. The jars are Ball and Kerr, mostly pre-1960, some from the 1970's, as far as I can tell. Some are in excellent condition, others have a few nicks and scratches, not enough to warrant tossing them, but they won’t be up to a hot water bath again. Those jars, the ones likely to break in the pot, are still perfect for dry storage. A pantry full of jars is much prettier, and more efficient, than one filled with rubber-banded plastic bags and boxes that won’t stay shut. I can see exactly how much rice is left and if there are enough split peas for soup.

Of course, the decorating and other storage options are endless too: flower vases, candle holders, buttons, marbles, pens. Some people use them for drinking glasses, but I prefer my wine glass with a little less heft.

Not all of these jars will make it to my pantry. Even fewer will end up in the canning pot. I’m finding homes for some of them with canners as crazy about old glass as I am. I’m glad they didn’t get thrown away.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bay Rum Aftershave

Grand ideas sometimes come out of nowhere. Or maybe it just seems like it, when actually they’ve been hovering just over our shoulder, nagging for attention. This week I stopped in my tracks to listen and good things happened.

In the past week I’ve made a batch of soap, a dozen or more herb filled microwave heating pads, worked on some mixed media projects, and started two batches of Bay Rum Aftershave. Each project is worth a post of its own, but today’s is about the aftershave. My husband likes the refreshing feel and scent, and especially that he doesn’t feel perfumed. I love the way it, and he, smells.

I first learned about Bay Rum probably thirty years ago when I took a class given by Rosemary Gladstar, but didn’t get around to making it until last year. Turns out it’s simple to make and requires only ingredients most of us have in our kitchens already. The hardest part is being patient while it steeps long enough for the fragrance to develop.

After poking around the internet for recipes, I found most of them to be the same. The one I chose was repeated most often; I like a stronger bay scent, so I added more bay leaves and let it steep for much longer.

Here’s the basic formula:

Bay Rum Aftershave

½ cup Vodka

2 Tbs. Jamaican Rum

2 dried bay leaves

¼ tsp. whole allspice

1 cinnamon stick

Zest of one small orange

Put all ingredients in a jar, close the lid and place it in a dark place for at least two weeks. Strain through cheesecloth and pour into a clean bottle. Give it to a man you love.