May 18, 2012

No Corrosion for Mason Jar Pump Lids

Corrosion and rust--these are common problems with soap dispenser lids. Our Carefree version is the ultimate solution because there are no metal parts! I think we should take advantage of the shiny white surface, get a Sharpie marker and decorate them! I'm sure you can be a lot more creative than I am. How about your child's name on her own personalized soap dispenser? These would be adorable for baby shower gifts!

November 27, 2010

Handmade Christmas: Salt Shakers into Tree Ornaments

This is a simple way to turn your way-cool vintage salt and pepper shakers into hanging ornaments. 

Here's how to make them:

Cut ribbon (1/8" wide) into 14" lengths. Slide a silver bell to the center of the ribbon. Position the bell inside the jar and hold the ribbon in place on each side of the shaker as you screw on the lid. Tie the ribbon ends together so the jar hangs straight. That's it! You have an instant (and adorable) little ornament. You could embellish them more with greenery or a bow around the neck. 

see our Etsy shop for more info!

November 20, 2010

Midwest Finds Mentioned in Country Living Magazine!

Have you seen the November 2010 issue of Country Living? On page 132 there is a box acknowleging the Etsy shops that were featured in their House of the Year. And who is listed first? Midwest Finds! That's only because our last name starts with B. :)

So, yes, we have made the Big Time. And generations from now, we can prove that we had a noteworthy Etsy shop (as long as we store this magazine well!).

How did we get in Country Living Magazine? Last winter they asked Etsy to send them ideas for items to put in their House of the Year. Etsy sent them pictures from our store, and they liked what they saw. They asked us to send them the items, and as a result, we got in a mention in this issue.

I learned two things from this experience. The first one is that photography is everything. Country Living chose our items based on photos alone. The second thing is that Etsy marketing is invaluable. They promote their shops like crazy.

Making the Most of Etsy's Promotional Machine

Right now, the best way to get noticed is to be tagged to match the daily Etsy Finds email. Be sure to sign up for those emails, then click on links to see what tags they are using. Sometimes they link to items with a certain tag, and sometimes the links to go treasuries with a certain tag. As soon as you see what tags the email is linked to, go add those tags to your appropriate items and treasuries! You'll instantly be attached to that email, which has thousands of readers.

About Treasuries

You shouldn't make treasuries with your items in them, so pair up with a friend and make treasuries for each other, giving the treasuries tags to match the emails. Etsy also has treasury teams you can join. The key to strangers finding you and using your items in their treasuries is to have great pictures (make bright, neutral background photos) and to have tags that match the Etsy marketing plan for the month.

May you have many happy visits to your Etsy shop.

July 15, 2010

Light-Weight Clay Flowers for Your Hair

Diane Phillips of DK Designs uses our jars as the base of some of her flower creations. They are unbelievably life-like. She specializes in flowers for weddings.

She created gardenias for our Jar Gems. They look like they are floating in water.

Last week she sent us a gardenia with a hair pin attached. Gorgeous! Thanks Diane!

July 5, 2010

What I Do On Vacation

Our shop is on vacation right now, which just means that it's closed--no one can buy anything. We had to take that step to give us a few days to deal with some health issues in our family, catch up on orders, and reassess where we want to go with this thing.

Midwest Finds started as a way for us to make a little money to fund our hobby and have some fun together. Now it has taken over our lives!

I just need to set boundaries. I need to pick a day or two each week to wash jars and not let that be the center of my life. I am very picky, so I wash more than I let on the shop, but hey, that's me, and that's our shop distinctive--mason jars that are sparkling clean and in better-than-average shape.

So, in this space of rest, I have hope. I'm finding the time to explore our basement and discover new and interesting things to add to the store. And I'm already thinking of CHRISTMAS! If you know you want to buy some of our stuff for Christmas, please don't wait until the last minute. :)

You can be notified when we reopen by signing up here.

June 24, 2010

Why I Have Dishpan Hands



I hand wash all our blue jars. And some are pretty gross! I've found all sorts of barn refuse inside our jars. But I scrub and dry, then look closely, scrub some more, dry some more, and try to determine if our buyer will be happy or not when they pull this particular jar out of the box.

I'd say for every jar we send off to a new home, at least four are rejected. It can be very frustrating, especially when I'm trying to work quickly to fill orders. It can be quite disheartening to clean 20 jars (or more!) only to get five usable ones. In the jars pictured above, the pints were good, but the quart had a ding in the heel and had to be rejected.

The tools of the trade? A nice and strong Scotch-Brite Pad, a toothbrush, dishwashing soap, and vinegar. If you have any sticky residue on a jar (like tar or old jar rubber), soak it in pure vinegar awhile (maybe even overnight) and the stuff just falls off.

When all the frenzy hit last week, I started to complain a little. Melissa, our 16-year-old told me firmly, "I don't want to hear it. You brought this on yourself." Teenagers. Gotta love 'em.

June 22, 2010

The Difference Between a Pint and Quart Ball Jar

If you are wondering how they compare, here's a pint on the left, and a quart on the right. The pint stands 7" tall with the pump, and the quart is 9" tall.

Of all the jars we have, the blue quarts are in the roughest shape. They have seen a hard life for decades. But since our buyers are trusting me to pick out their jar, I end up washing 10 before I find one that is acceptable. And even then, it's scratched, and maybe a flea bite or two on the rim. Honestly, it drives me crazy!!

My dream is to find an unopened box of blue quarts, all in brand new, never-used condition. That would be a feat, considering Ball stopped making them in 1937. But I can dream, can't I?

June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

We are still digging out from all the orders we received from our Featured Seller slot last week! Even when we got off the front page, we continued to have record days. So, to save our sanity, we made the very difficult decision to close our store for a couple days (we've never done that!).

We will reopen late on Tuesday June 22. And do you know what Bernard wants for Father's Day? He wants everyone washing jars.

So here I go!

This is a picture of the truck bed with an auction haul. Not every jar is good enough to sell in our store--we scrub and scrutinize each one.

June 16, 2010

Featured Seller on Etsy

From June 14-16 our shop sat on the front page of That is a VERY long time at a VERY busy place.

Wow! That was a wild ride. It felt like we were at Six Flags for two days, then on cleanup duty afterwards! I sat glued to the computer the whole time (except for the few hours I had to sleep), answering questions, getting special order details, and keeping the shop stocked. Bernard printed orders and started shipping. The kids washed jars and made boxes. Whew!

Now we have a couple days worth of jar washing and packing. We tried to work ahead, but we've already used up those jars. Thank you to everyone who made it such a success.

Did you miss our Featured Seller interview? Here it is.

June 13, 2010

Our First Year

It's hard to believe it's been a whole year since we started putting jars on Etsy. It started as a way for us to do something fun together--go to auctions and buy fruit jars for our new hobby. Little did we know blue mason jars had become hot decorating items!

And it gave us a great excuse to keep buying jars. We've had a lot of fun learning about jars and household vintage, going to sales, researching our finds, putting them on the shop, and seeing them sell!

Good thing we live in a really big house. We have 7,000 square feet, and we're putting it to good use. :)

In 2005 we bought a century-old church building and the mission style house attached in back. The church had long ago removed the kitchen and bathtubs, but we put them back in by the end of the first year. The house in back has four bedrooms, and the church part serves as office/business space. There's no grass associated with this property (the building takes up the lot), so I tell people the sanctuary is our front yard. Instead of mowing, we vacuum.

Yesterday reached 1800 sales. That just blows my mind. Thank you to everyone who trusted us enough to buy our stuff online.

What's in the future? We're starting to recycle unusable jars and broken plates. Bernard is quite the craftsman, and it's been fun to see that side of him grow.

We look forward to more finds and more adventure!

Bernard, Jena, Meg, Melissa, Peter
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