Repurposed Flower Vases

We own two actual vases. One was a gift from a friend, and the other is a memento of a wonderful day with my stepson during a vacation in Colorado years ago. We took him to see a glassblowing demonstration at a studio in Frisco, and since we were the only people in attendance, the artist asked my stepson to help. He was a teenager then, so he was generally unimpressed with anything. Throughout the trip, I kept giving him the same scenario: “If your happiness were a gas tank, where would the needle be pointing right now?” The answer was almost invariably “about 1/4.” It always stung a little, as my answer was consistently “3/4 at least.” He was so engaged in the glassblowing, though, that when I asked my question that day, he said, “Gas is spilling out of the tank.” I was beaming. So when we went back to the studio two days later to see the full results of his work, I had to have that vase.

I pull out these special vases every once in a while, but most of the time, I like to use funky vessels for little flower arrangements that I can dot throughout the house. I value frugality over most things, so when I see a food jar that has a unique shape, I’m sure to save it once it’s empty. These set-aside jars are also very handy whenever I want to surprise friends or coworkers with a little bouquet. And since we live in an area where there is no glass recycling, I’m always happy to keep a jar out of the landfill for as long as possible.

Removing labels can sometimes be tricky, though. The green olive jars I buy have plastic labels that peel off relatively easily, but they leave a lot of sticky stuff behind. The best way to remove the adhesive is to pour a little canola oil onto a paper towel and rub all over the jar. Then it just needs a soapy wash and rinse.

For others with paper labels, I have to soak them in soapy water for an hour. Doing this releases most labels, but with some, like the lemon curd jars I love, there’s a lot of adhesive left behind that the canola oil trick doesn’t address. Then I have to take slightly more dangerous measures (dangerous because I am especially accident-prone).

Once I remove the label, I just use the sharp edge of a knife to scrape the remaining adhesive off. Then a little scrub with soapy water makes the glass perfect. Just be super-careful if you try this.

I also love finding little things like small creamer pitchers or mugs at thrift shops. I’ve even been known to make little arrangements in cordial glasses. Anything that can hold water and a flower or two has the potential to brighten up someone’s day without breaking the bank. A quick search at a thrift store, garage sale, or even around the house with that in mind yields a lot of possibilities. The little bouquets can have such a big impact.






And then, on days when I need to be reminded that I once saw someone’s happiness tank fill to overflowing, I pull out the big vase, fill it with flowers, and make mine overflow again, too.

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