The Ball Jar. A post about contained neurosis.

Lately, I've been having purging sessions with my plastic storage containers - replacing them with their glass, eco-friendly, counter parts. Nothing personal, I can just no longer look at their foggy plastic, mismatched tops and lack of fit-continuity. A jimble jamble mess of blue tops and weird shaped bottoms.

here, Martha teaches how to, etch the content's name on the outside of the jar. smart. but too much effort.

It started out for an aesthetic-neurotic reason. Or a neurotic-aesthetic reason. Not that I'm a crazy container aesthete. No. It's just that I have very little space to call 'Pantry' and it was driving me crazy (a very short drive, some days )  to pull open the doors exposing the, 6 shallow shelves and be affronted by ugly, torn open packaging, half empty bags of pasta, top curled over and clamped with a 'chip clip'- was just too much ugly and tended to set my teeth on edge. Particularly when I was feeling a little edgy as it was.

clearly, not my own cupboard, but someone who is equally as itchy as I when it comes to organizing 'pretty'

When I'm overwhelmed I get into what my husband calls an 'anti-hoarder mode'. Everyone around here seems to know when it's about to start. Even before I'm aware of it. Sort of like that yellow stillness before a tornado. You just feel it coming. Take cover, crawl under your desks, cover your heads.  Every man, child and dog for themselves.

This whole storm usually occurs when something in my life feels out of control or several things do and I haven't allowed them to surface. In some ways I find the neurosis very productive. At other times, I think it would be healthier to just give it a good cry, scream or both. Either way, because of it, I cathartictly get my home in order every few months or so. Depending on life's drama at the moment.

she does not look well. But look at her excellent organization and perfect pantry! A for effort my sister.

Back to the glass container thing. My  most recent bent, as I was mentioning, has to do with, no more plastic containers. It's all very  'Joan'. But also, I'm suspicious of all of that, carcinogen leaching you read so much about. That, and they're ugly, mismatched and they add to my already chaotic mind set.

I found these containers at Crate & Barrel:


They nest. This I like. Nesting is nice- space efficiency. Design, well thought out.  I bought a few sets and I'm set. They even make my fridge look a little neater. 

Now on to storage. At my local Craft Store I found Ball canning jars. Cheap as can be and they come in assorted sizes.  Big ones for bulk items, smaller for the above mentioned, pasta and cereal box dregs.

Sur la Table carries much nicer looking ones, but only because the lines are nicer and the embossed art is prettier, oh and the lids are one piece. Italian made. Go figure.

Antique versions with the blue glass can be picked up at any Granny Antique shop. But I'd never feel like they'd be completely sanitary for food ( no, I don't wash my hands compulsively. ) Although I do have a few that I put collections of things in- my grandmother's silk threads on wooden spools from the 30s, my Grandfather's turn of the century marble collection. ( yes, containing the family marbles)

and they come in some crazy colors -which could take the look to a Kountry Kitch-en  look. At least the brown ones do. I'd do the blues, pale greens and lavenders. Those are pretty. But, maybe not empty. They need to fill a purpose.


But really, the Gold Standard, King Pin of these, glass storage jars are those made by Weck. Look how beautiful they are :

You can find these at Heath Ceramics

And sometimes, when you get really crazy and start buying grains in bulk, you get them home, dump the bags into the jars and guess what? Quinoa looks just like Flax Seed and Bisquick looks just like Flour.  So then you come up with a cute labeling system like this:

Of course, for those of you who are singing along with me, this is where we all break into  chorus and sing, "Hallelujah!" all praise the, MUCH published, Emerson Made, freaking, PANTRY OF PERFECTION. uh. give me a break. To this, I aspire.

And maybe, if my crazies get the best of me and I end up with a hoarder's amount of jars, I'll turn to nifty little projects like these; a chandelier made of Ball jars. cute and easy.

or this ever clever little container device made with a few things picked up at the hardware store for under $10.00

In the mean time, my storm has passed and I feel the calm. It's amazing what a little organization can do for a soul. Namaste.


Wow! What a fantastic post! Just so useful!

Loving your blog!

Have a wonderful day!


Luciane at
Love the vintage looks.. the jars and the vintage poster!
JustJoan said…
I love glass jars! I've been wanting to try the Martha project for awhile. Got the etching powder and I'm ready to go...your post has me determined. (I had to show ID when I bought the etching powder at Michaels. Who knew? I guess one can do some damage with it.)
*clicks* - a whole chapter room full of *clicks* on that. Aaaaand, I've taken to the removing all that metal nonsense from those lovely Le Parfait French canning jars.

Yup. Org. Re-org. and I'm all better. And so is everything else.
Anonymous said…
Just ran across a set of 4 of the blue ones, in a corner of my store the other day. If anyone in the Palm Beach area wants to start (or continue) a collection. Cashmere Buffalo in West Palm Beach
I feel ya. I recently needed this sense of order, but I needed SQUARE containers...only SQUARE, dammit!
Otherwise they don't fit in the refrigerator nicely and then I'm even more cranky.
I wish I had Emerson's energy.
Cheryl said…
love this!!
i also build up to a breaking point.
then, everything gets reorganized.
lots of things I have in jars
but after your post i am going
to take a look at organizing a bit more.
that is after i
organize my paper work
schedule my workouts
plan our meals
i'll put this on the list
Silver Magpies said…
This was a great post
a) it made me really, genuinely laugh out loud
b) now I know I am not alone either in my anti-hoarder outbreaks
c) I wish photo 2 was my cupboard
margaret said…
kindred BFF is just like me/us. whenever one of us is stressed our advice to each other is "go clean out a closet, you'll feel SOOO much better!" :) it never fails to work! great post...
yes -i did this last year - ditched all the plastic (actually 'regifted' my old worn out plastic to a friend who was moving) in favor of the new pyrex containers from target. Have you seen them? they're amazing - round or square (square is easy for the pantry -round for fridge) with blue rubber tops. LOVE them
Erik Perez said…
you hit on so many good things here... 1) the need to compulsivly get rid of things. Unfortunatly Paul is the opposite, so we need to compromise a bit...

2) I would KILL for a pantry like these... glass jars are amazing... so clean. I am all about uniformity!
72 and sunny said…
ooh. I need to check out the square. Although I've already committed to the round. So this might throw a wrench in the plan.
katiedid said…
Will you come to my house and stuff jars for me? I promise I will not mind a bit if you are neurotic about it. In fact I prefer it.

Until you come knocking....I am checking out Target.
Lisa Mackay said…
Wow what a great post - this must have taken you forever! I am exactly the same way when stressed - I can't dive into whatever it is until my desk/room/house is in order. Then the work can begin. I love those C&B containers - I may have to go pick some up. Thanks!!
Pigtown*Design said…
LOVE weck! I posted about them a few months ago after I found a whole cache of them at the thrift shop - for about $.80 each!

I feel the same way about all of the plastics. scary
Liz said…
I love the jars, but I never would have thought of using them to form a chandelier, now that is awesome!
I am totally the same way, when things are out of control, I am freakishly obsessed with trying to organize everything...more than usual. My poor family!

Glass is the way to go for all the reasons you stated and I loved all the examples you provided! I have a few C&B small glass jars with red lids, but I like the white you featured are so much better.

I just re-did my floors and had to clear out the pantry. Ironically, I got a quote for new shelves and door for mine a few weeks ago, but haven't given much thought to make the inside pretty...thanks for the inspirational push.
Allison Egan said…
Fabulous ideas! such a clean look! I am an anti-hoarder too!!! Love your blog!
xo Allison

Spicer + Bank:
L said…
neurosis indeed! I am switching out as well. I found a set of 12 blue ones that are decorative for $10 at a thrift store....but now I need functional ones!!

Do you know if it is bad if they have plastic lids? I really like the Martha Stewart ones with the pretty blue rim, but those lids are plastic. Hmmm.

Crate and Barrel has nice refridg. jars. I really like those!
72 and sunny said…
thank you guys, for all of your comments. I'm so happy (but not the least surprised ) to find that you're all kindred, neurotic, spirits.

Meg (pigtown) only YOU would find a lot of Wecks for . 80 cents. Where do I buy that "junk whisperer dust" that seems to oooze from your creative soul?

I find that my family might be my biggest set back on this jar journey. They are not at all cooperative in keeping things, tidy. and even, on occaission complain! the nerve.

I've been in Vegas this week for the KBIS (kitchen+bath show) sorry for the delay in publishing and responding.
Mabel and Zora said…
We need to get organized. Thanks for the ideas. Love the lighting.
Pandora said…
I know this feeling that you get, I get it too! lol
I love the way things look organized yet in a delightful and artistic way and those bottles look gorgeous despite not filling a purpose hahah

Pandora from Home and Decor
Tess said…
love your blog, but i'd love to know the source of some of your photos, specifically the one above of the blue ball jars as a pantry:

where did you find it?
Unknown said…
wooww...impressive. Thanks for your rare ideas !

glass jars
cake stand

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