Mason Jars

Tis the season for all things Mason— jars that is! Gardens are growing quickly with all of the rain that we have experienced here in Wilkes County over the last few weeks.

I always marveled at my grandparents garden— the soil was always seemingly better than my old, red clay dirt. So the question to Granny became-how did you do this, why is your garden so good? She just giggled and said,” potting soil and Black Kow worked into the soil makes a huge difference”.  I took a mental note that day and used this advice in my own herb/flower garden. It did make a difference!!! I was convinced.

Remarkably, one of the items that we began to sell pretty quickly once we bought Wilkes County Hardware was Black Kow and great potting soil. Our store had never sold anything like this before and the stuff was blowing off the shelves! It is now one of those staple items that we keep in stock, especially this time of the year. Yes, Mason Jars of all shapes and sizes are kept amongst the canning supplies at Wilkes County Hardware.  We can offer up assistance to those who need help with “bringing in the garden”.

Local gardens will start producing and the canning season will begin. I can remember my momma canning all sorts of goodies from the garden when I was growing up. Cucumbers (making pickles), green beans, tomatoes, beets, chow-chow, making sour-kraut, jams, jellies— the list was endless!!!! She and dad worked hard in the garden- weeding, harvesting, preparing to can, and then canning all the goodies.

I do have to admit when you grow up this way, gardening and canning, as a younger kid- I did not look forward to stringing beans to can, and helping in the hot kitchen while mom was canning. Now, I truly appreciate all those great experiences that I had as a kid. We always had plenty of those Mason Jars to fill them with our garden abundance.

Now, these jars have been passed to me to use. I am not one who has a big garden every year. Honestly, time keeps me from doing things like that now. I do have the love to grow things like my parents and grandparents do… flowers, herbs, and even a few tomato plants.

For a while these jars just sat on my garage shelf and I was unsure what I wanted to do with all of them. Now, I have a hard time finding one that is not in use.

What did I do with my Mason Jars? I have used them to store staple items in my pantry- dried beans, snacks, cereal, etc. My son can grab one of those clear Mason Jars  with his snack and carry it with him if he is watching tv- no extra bowls/containers to wash!!!!  Mason Jars are great for shopping too! I can open my pantry quickly and “see” how much of an item I have left before I head out to the grocery store. My refrigerator contains these Mason Jars- great for liquid items— like milk, juice, lemonade, etc. It may not be the same as “canning from the garden”, but my kitchen has that Southern feel even when you open up the cabinets, pantry , or refrigerator.

Mason jars are great for entertaining friends or family. When we eat on the back porch, I will often put foods within the jars to carry them outdoors. It is a great way to showcase a beautiful salad, soups, or even my favorite—ice cream!!!! The uses are endless!!!!

The last few times that I have taken a meal to family who needed a meal due to sickness, I have used Mason Jars in order to transport the food. People are pleasantly surprised with the different way to showcase the food.

Lastly, my most favorite way to use Mason Jars is to display beautiful flowers/herbs. I have several beautiful vases for flowers, and yet I gravitate towards the Mason Jar. To me nothing is so simple as Mason Jar full of flowers. It is true Southern beauty and grace on display in your home. Maybe it is the thought of my childhood and the great memories of those I love that makes it so special to me- a Mason Jar smiling with love.

Now every time that I walk by the Mason Jars in Wilkes County Hardware, I can smile with love and remembrance of a great garden abundance-love.

Morning Coffee

Ahhh… the smell of a fresh pot of coffee brewing in the morning is the best wake up call ever. The coffee beans are freshly ground, the aroma fills the kitchen.

The house is still quietly asleep, with the exception of our dogs. They are always eager to greet me in those quiet times of early morning. I grab one of my favorite pottery mugs (bought at a local shop down the street from our hardware store- Taupe) and then pour the first cup of freshly brewed coffee.

That first cup of coffee is part of my daily ritual, I must confess. One that brings time for me to reflect on the previous day, & to set goals for the new day. I guess I am not unique in that aspect, but I think I enjoy that first cup the most for many different reasons.

One of the best reasons why enjoy the first cup of coffee has to be the sweetness of my husband Richard. He makes the coffee every morning. It has become part of his routine after taking the dogs out early in the morning hours.

(Photo caption information: Rest in Elvis & Gigi we loved you dearly – these two pups were always up early morning to get day started and breakfast eaten… then it was 😴 nap time.)

(Photo caption information: Our sweet Bella… she lost complete eyesight after she was adopted into our family, such a blessing she is to all of us💕)

All I have to do is get up & pour the coffee, no effort involved on my part except to relax and enjoy it. Whether he realizes it or not, he has just added a small joy to my day by doing this little thing- making the coffee.

We do buy our fresh coffee beans at a local downtown coffee shop, Talia. Actually, we are regulars there. It is truly a great coffee experience. The owners & baristas make an effort to get to know you and what you like. So, yes, I love a great cup of coffee each and every morning. Talia has made that a little easier for me to cherish that first cup each day, just like my husband.

Well, lingering around the house is not something that usually happens in the midst of my life. Most days I’m off to school to teach, and out the door no later than 6:30am! Summer, brings a shift in schedule with more time to focus exclusively on the other job title I hold, co-owner of Wilkes County Hardware.

Upon arriving at Wilkes County Hardware, you can easily spot the coffee pot. It is currently stashed behind the wood stove. Richard and I are now in conversation about possibly moving it to a new location within the store, in order to create more floor space for merchandise. This would be a significant change for our staff and locals who frequent our store. Sometimes these decisions are an easy fix, and other times not so easy when routines are changed. But….

The morning coffee is brewed and ready for our first customers of the day at 7:30am. Of course the coffee is always free. That is just common Southern hospitality.

We have regular customers who even have their own cup/mug they keep stashed to use each day as they drink a cup of coffee with us and sit down for a quick visit before resuming their daily activities.

Coffee at the hardware store is a social event. The staff can gather together in the stillness of early morning hours before it gets too busy to do so and just enjoy a casual conversation, laughter, or even share a funny story.

But as the day progresses, others begin to wander in, picking up essentials they need for a job, or to complete a “to do” list at home. Many folks will find that morning coffee pot filled with freshly brewed coffee and just sit down for a few minutes to give themselves a moment of quiet reflection. Just like I have at home each morning 🙂

Daisies

One of my all time favorite flowers is the Daisy. I love the simplicity of this flower. Nothing is more beautiful than a field full of daisies in bloom. Daisies can symbolize new beginnings, purity, happiness, or even motherhood.  I just love that!!!

In 2015,  my family experienced a new beginning with the purchase of Wilkes County Hardware. One of the items at the top of our “to do list” was to make the store more inviting to ladies. I wanted to be a big part of this journey with my husband.

In the former years of ownership, ladies only came into our store to have a key made. By the way, WCH is known for the accuracy of our keys. Very few mistakes are made with our key cutting. If an issue arises with a key, we fix it, no charge!!!  Definitely not like the box store experience… Anyway, one of the first items was to create a more lady friendly shopping experience.  I wanted to keep it simple, like the daisy. Our store is rustic & vintage , like the daisy but it needed to “be soft around the edges” and happy to see you like the daisy. Wilkes County Hardware was no longer a place for just the men to gather, all are welcome!

So as hardware novices, we went off to our first hardware show in New Orleans. One of the our first purchases at the hardware show was Holland Bulbs—- you guessed it, flowers. We came back with lots of ideas and challenges to face. But we “plunged ahead”- no hardware puns intended,  goal one in progress….

Once word got out about the changes in store services, and items available for purchase, women began to shop with us. We began to sell items that had never been offered at Wilkes County Hardware such as, gardening supplies, & gardening accessories. It was a new local shopping experience could not be found anywhere else in our small hometown. Women were steadily coming in and felt comfortable shopping with us!!! Yes!!!! Success!!!

Now we are still trying to keep our message simple like the daisy- welcoming, & happy.  We gladly welcome all who visit our historic hardware store. It is always a pleasure to visit with locals and out of towners. It is definitely a unique shopping experience- not many people get to see a working freight elevator in the middle of the store!

Many of our local residents come by to get the basics they need for their home, or business, or they are seeking expert advice on a specific topic.

It is amazing to see how our “field of daisies” has changed so far… can’t wait to see what else will blossom in the future.

Transitions

Buying a hardware store was a huge transition for our family. Richard had never ventured out into owning his own business, and here we were new business owners of an old historic hardware store! Wow!!!

We went through many transitions as a family, getting used to being local business owners, and also taking full responsibility of the staff who currently worked there. Our store and staff has transitioned-Lots of changes have occurred over the last few years. Customers can now easily find items they need, we made constant updates to our store layout,  &  foot traffic has increased in our store. We are no longer a store of just “bolts, nuts, and keys.

Honestly, we all face transitions in our lives. The hardware business is not unique in that aspect. But, I think our hardware store transitions are constant. I suspect they will continue to be the norm for us as we journey towards a better shopping experience for our local community.

Change is harder for some than others. As a business owner we see which employees quickly adjust to transitions, and we see those who are slower meeting the transitions, in hardware terms “under construction” . The point as an hardware store owner- adjustment made or not?  Those who struggle with transitions may need some guidance on how to meet the new change.

As a mom, I may need some assistance myself, just being truthful! At home, we are again experiencing transitions as a family- our son has completed drivers education class! We will soon have another driver in our family. That is a hard one folks…  I am wishing time would slow down a bit.

The reality of transitions, is that sometimes they happen whether you wish it them too or not. Change is constant. How we decide to meet the challenge or be defeated by the change can influence your outlook.

I have decided to rise to meet these transitions in life. Being thehardwarelifewife a great learning experience for me each day. I am still “under construction” – and a work in progress and I’m ok with that.

Thanks for reading along and enjoy life with all its transitions- under construction or not!

Living the "hardwarelife", join us in our journey of hardware store ownership