Non-Consumer Photo Essay — Canning Jars, Mulchy Goodness & Goodwill Jazz Hands

by Katy on October 30, 2014 · 24 comments

I’ve been having a very frugal month. From keeping a close eye on our food budget to simply not buying anything unnecessary, October has been very good to me.

After investing in a hundred pounds of local apples, the clock started ticking for me to process them before the rot kicked in. I spent an afternoon making applesauce, but had to stop when I ran out of jars. Because I participate in The Compact and buy nothing new, I decided to try my luck at area Goodwills before giving up and buying new. I already knew that some Goodwills charge as much as $1.99 per jar, but I remembered that one particular Goodwill sells them for 29¢ apiece. (Plus they’re not individually priced, so they’re zero waste!)

Let’s just say that I succeeded in my quest for cheap canning jars:

Canning jars

And not to brag too much, but I also scored this still shrink-wrapped box of pint-and-a-half jars, which included the lids and rims. Not too shabby for $4.99. (I didn’t end up needing the jars, but I will use them for bulk storage as they take better advantage of vertical space.

New canning jars

I’m now all done processing my apples. I always worry that I’m going to bite off more than I can chew and end up creating waste. But I’ll save that scenario for another day, as I was miraculously able to can 35+ jars of applesauce. (I did save some Granny Smiths for pie baking.)


When I got home from Goodwill, I saw that a neighbor was having a tree chipped. (We had a big wind storm on Saturday, so our local arborists have been busy, busy, busy!) I walked over and asked if they’d dump the mulch in my driveway.


I’ll use the mulch to freshen up the walkway along the side of our house, as well as under the hydrangeas and any other plant that sits still. And if there’s any left over, I’ll put a free ad on Craigslist. I just love how perfect this scenario is. My mulch didn’t have to be created hundreds of miles away, and by taking it, I save the arborists from having to haul and pay for dumping fees. Win-win-win!

I woke up very early to attend the opening of the brand new Goodwill Outlet across town this morning. (Seriously folks, I was there at 6:30-in-the -freaking A.M.!) Although I didn’t personally do the 7 A.M. ceremonial cutting of the ribbon, I still got to sneak in before the hundreds of people who had been waiting in line for hours. (Don’t get too upset with my unethical line-hopping, as I didn’t actually buy anything. Plus, I was an invited member of the press.)

By 7:15, it was business as usual, with the serious pickers separating the wheat from the chaff.

Goodwill Outlet

I kept to the perimeter and let the professionals do their jobs.

By comparison, I am a rank amateur. I loved just taking it all in, and took many opportunities to talk to the customers and photograph some of the quirkier items:

Jazz hands

I like to call this book, “Jazz Hands: The Body in Action.”

I’ll write up a full post soon enough, but for now you’ll just have to imagine the amazingness.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon H. October 30, 2014 at 9:34 am

That mulch was a super win. Do you have a fireplace or outdoor firepit? I think the bigger bits that resisted the power of the mulching machine would still make great tinder, and allow you to use the smaller bits where you need them as mulch.


Katy October 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm

We do have a fireplace, so that’s a great idea. I’ll remember to set them aside for kindling. Thanks!


Jennifer N October 30, 2014 at 9:34 am

I have serious applesauce envy – I’m going to have to do something about that! 35 jars of apple sauce *might* just make it half a year in my house, but I love the idea of not buying it every week.

Over the past few months, I hadn’t been shopping at Goodwill much, but this weekend my family will be attending a wedding and it’s supposed to be cold and rainy. I scored a sweater dress for $5 (plus a slip and belt) and a cute sweater vest for my 5 year old for $2.50. I’m determined to keep my family toasty!


Katy October 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Great deal, I love it!


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom October 30, 2014 at 10:14 am

How long do you think the 35 jars of apple sauce will last you? That’s a lot of sauce!

Also nice score on the mulch, I’ve been thinking of freshening up the front little garden with something (so far I’ve just ripped half the stuff out before it started to rain one day). Mulch would be an awesome solution to make what’s left look prettier. Maybe I’ll go for a walk the next time I hear a wood chipper in the neighbourhood…


Katy October 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I also use it as gifts. I’ve given small jars to a neighbor and my son’s teacher, and then I gave my father a large jar as a thank you for letting me borrow his applesauce maker. I’ll use them as holiday gifts as well.


Elaine in Ark November 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm

I like applesauce…


AK October 30, 2014 at 11:16 am

You’re my hero!


Lori October 30, 2014 at 11:35 am

Very Cool on the mulch!!!


A. Marie October 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Loud cheers on all counts!

I may have gotten a slightly better canning jar deal at a garage sale this summer ($2 for 2 dozen assorted quart jars), but you completely outdid me (and, I’m guessing, a lot of other folks) on the applesauce project. That sort of thing needs the kind of energy I can’t muster any more, if indeed I ever could. (I scooped up the 2 dozen quart jars for refrigerator pickles and other easier projects.) Fortunately, nonconsumerism isn’t–or at least shouldn’t be–a competitive sport!

Also, those Ball pint and a half jars are a novelty to me. I’ve never seen them around here, and that would indeed be a useful size.


Katy October 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm

My right arm is extremely sore from cranking my “Squeezo-Strainer” applesauce maker!



Kelly in MA November 4, 2014 at 5:47 am

They are hard to find anywhere. I usually get that size on amazon. I gift in them a lot, (apple sauce, caramel sauce, homemade hot chocolate mix, those layered soup mixes…) and the quilted jars are super pretty. All it needs. is a bow!


Groovecatmom October 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm

After Christmas, some towns will mulch Christmas trees that have been dropped off, and citizens can haul it away for free. Also good job on the 1.5 pt jars–those are harder to find and my favorite size! Jealous.


Jean October 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I have serious canning jar envy! And mulch envy! Way to go Katy!


Staci October 31, 2014 at 7:09 am

I notice the little red index box in your kitchen photo. I have one just like it–I use mine for recipe cards and it’s one of my favorite old things. It was my mom’s when she was a girl (she’s now 70) and has here handwritten maiden name on it. I smile everytime I get a recipe out of it. It reminds me that old can be so much better than new! Just wanted to share!


Linda October 31, 2014 at 9:35 am

I recognize The Body In Action from my grade school days.


Michelle October 31, 2014 at 10:52 am

My best canning jars deal was years ago when I was walking with the kids and saw a recycling bin full to the brim with glass canning jars, lots with rings, a few streets over from our house. I did knock on the door and ask if they were okay with my taking them (because I was going to have to go back for the car) and they thought I was nuts, but said it was okay.


Katy October 31, 2014 at 12:07 pm



K D November 1, 2014 at 3:13 am

I have a bunch of pint and a half Barilla pasta sauce Mason jars that I love to use for many things in the kitchen. I love your haul.


Katy November 2, 2014 at 11:42 am

Gotta take pride in my jars! 😉


Dale Emanuel November 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Hi Katy—

Thank you for coming so early to watch the events of the Airport Way Outlet Grand Opening unfold. Your attention to detail and happy energy made my day. (I hope swapping your scheduled Thursday for a Saturday, so you could attend, was great decision in the end). You are such a fantastic gal!


Katy November 3, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Luckily, I’m used to having to be at work at 7:00 A.M., so it wasn’t too much of a shock to the system. Thank you for including me in the festivities!


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