How to Can Green Beans: Canning Tips

July 18, 2006 at 10:57 pm 115 comments

This post gets a lot of traffic and has been helpful to many people.  That’s great!  Let me just address a couple things, however.

1. I have NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE WATERBATH METHOD.  Please don’t email or comment asking me how to do that.  This is the plain ole canning method only.

2.  If your beans turn cloudy or milky, I have no idea why…you’ll have to search further.  I’ve never had that problem.  Only thing I know to suggest is to make sure you are using iodized salt and have your bands tight enough.

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HOW TO CAN GREAN BEANS 

In short:  10 Pounds for 25 minutes

Step by step:

Intro: This bean’s for you.  My mother canned, my grandmother canned, and my in laws all can.  Thus, I can.  We have the best recipe in the world by now, of course!  Here are the details, step by step.

Disclaimer: Note that I am not a professional and am not responsible for misinformation or accidents, though I’ve edited this 4-5 times to try to be sure and have done it many years.  Double check with other respectable sites.  I’m happy to try to answer questions you may have…simply post questions in the comment section.  Enjoy!

1.  Pick, Break, & String the Beans. If treated with insecticide (locally, primarily for Japanese Beatle prevention), wait until after a rain to pick, or according to insecticide directions. Rinse green beans thoroughly and allow to dry before breaking.  Or, some people rinse after breaking to avoid strings sticking to the beans. I use a strainer to rinse green beans for ease–you can just use a clean sink full of cool water.  Cool water keeps the beans crisp.

Stringing: I string by pulling the tip off the end, string that side, then turn the bean to the other end, pull that side.  Now, if the string breaks before it reaches the end of the bean, no problem…as you break the bean, you will also be aware of any string still there and pull it them.  Get all the string off that you can.

Break beans–we break into three pieces.

If it takes a while to break all your beans, and you have the refridgerator space, they stay more crisp and easier to break if chilled.  Cut off bad spots with a sharp knife kept handy.  My younger children pass to me any beans that need trimming, or put them in a bowl for me.

Just peel any very soft, or over-ripe beans that will not break, using only the beans, unless you don’t like the beans.  Discrad any shriveled, “shucky” (very thick skinned, overgrown beans), or overly flat beans–they tend to be chewy.


2.  While others are breaking beans, or during a break if you’re stringing them yourself (bless your heart) begin washing jars in as HOT a sink of water as you can stand…at least rinsing in almost scalding water. If you have a dishwasher, use that to disinfect the bottles.  Go ahead and let them go through the “dry” cycle.  Also, wash any older or used bands in hot water or run through dishwasher.

When you get close to the time of canning, you will put the lids and bands in a pan of simmering water.

3.  Determine if your jars are WIDE mouth, or “regular” mouth jars.  Wide mouth jars, the rims are just about even with the jar…regular mouth jars go in to about 1/3 the size of the perimeter of the rest of the jar.

Buy appropriate lids for your jars, or buy everything together in a box if you are totally new to canning.  Most stores sell them that way as well.  They are not that much more expensive and worth it to continue working rather than wondering about the cost if the beans are ready.  If you find jars at a flea market or yard sale, BALL jars or some other name brand are best…you know they are standard and suitable for canning.

Special note:  if you’ve bought a mixed batch of used jars, please BE SURE to weed out any jars that look like a mayonnaise jar…sometimes they get mixed in and ARE NOT suitable for the pressure of a canner.

If you have jars, find or obtain matching sized BANDS (screw on rings that go over the lids), buy them with lids (they are also commonly available as sets at some farm supply stores that carry canning goods, and our grocery stores also have a section) or send hubby running to your local grocer or supermarket.

To save money, yearly you can buy just new lids and re-use the rings.

If you buy a canner used (often availabe at flea markers, some with great, heavy, wooden handles), we took mine to a cooperative extension office to have them pressure it up for you to make sure the pressure guage is accurate.  Mine was just a few pounds off.  Not enough to worry about as it was over.  I wouldn’t want to underpressure them or blow the rook off the house.  Your canner needs to hold quarts, and it needs to go up to at least 10 pounds.  It will be a pretty good sized canner.  My canner holds seven quarts, I believe.  That’s a great size canner for a good canning.

4.  If you can from year to year, you’ll need to allote time to locate your canner and it’s gasket (check to be sure your gasket hasn’t gotten dry rot.  They are very elastic and prone to breakage if they’ve been stored outside or in a barn.  My advice is to NOT store the gasket outside for this reason.  Leave the gasket in your pans or towel drawer.  Make a mental note and store it in the same place every year.  The year you decide there is a better place to store it, you will probably never be able to find it and it will drive you crazy.

Locate pressure guage (probably attached to the cooker lid of a large canner).  Locate the screw down metal stopper that stops the pressure hold of the canner lid (mine is also attached).  Wash lid, checking to BE SURE the pressure hole is clear of any debris from last year’s canning.

(Note:  pre-test to see how many jars your canner will hold so that you know how many jars, lids, and bands to prepare).

beans6.jpg5.  As you get close to canning, put small sauce pan of water on to boil.  Do not boil lids, but keep them nice and hot at a low simmer for 15-20 minutes…use only the number you need.  This softens the seal on the lids.  TRY NOT TO STACK LIDS, BUT SCATTER THEM, AS SHOWN.  You don’t want them to adhere to one another.

6.  In advance, as lids begin warming, fill your canner about quarter way full of water.  Turn on heat to begin warming the water. Don’t get it TOO hot yet…don’t want to break any jars with too much a temp change as you put the jars in later.  Warm jars and warm lids help ensure a seal as the lids make contact with the water.  I have used clean, room temperature jars with no problems, however.

7.  Obtain/find either plain salt or “canning salt” (for use in #9).

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8.  After you’ve rinsed the beans, fill jars with beans!  I fill to the full.  Some “tamp” beans down with a butter knife to pack them tight.  We never eat a full jar anyway, so I’m not to prone to tamp mine.

beans81.jpg9.  Add desired salt to beans.  I use 1/4 tsp. of canning salt OR 1 tsp. of regular salt PER JAR. Some say regular iodized salt can turn some veggies brown.  I’ve never found with beans and it seems to work, therfore, if I’m short, I exchange.

Add warm water to jars if you are close to time of canning –3/4 full of a WIDE mouth jar, or approximately to the curve of a ‘REGULAR MOUTH” jar.

beans10.jpg10.  With a clean towel, wipe the rim of each jar after adding salt to clean off any granules which may have stuck on the rim BEFORE adding the lids.  Granules of stray salt can keep lids from adhering.

beans11.jpg11.  Lift hot lids out of the water carefully separating with a fork.  Use a towel or fingers to place the lid on the jar.  Add the band tightly while the lid is still hot.

12.  Note:  At each stage, check for integrity of the glass jars.  Old jars CAN crack.  Do not use a jar with a nick in the rim…the lid will not seal. Even new jars can have a defect.  IF a jar cracks when you put it in the water…ALL the food (beans) HAVE to be cleaned back out of it before you pressure up the canner. Otherwise, a bean could stop up the pressure valve release hole, which is not a good thing.

beans12.jpg13.  Lift the jar of filled beans into the warming water in the canner.  Some canners hold 6 Qt, mine holds 7 Qts. (I sometimes use a towel if the water has gotten quite hot in case the glass breaks when it hits hot water).

beans14.jpg14.  After all jars are in place, place the canning gasket in canner lid if you didn’t before. I often do not get mine positioned in the correct groove the first time, but you can tell by the way the lid fits on mine that something is wrong.  There is usually a very narrower groove for it lower– where I’m pointing in the picture. If it doesn’t seem to be coming up to pressure when the lid is on, take the lid back off, using towels on your hands, and inspect the gasket. It may need to be stretched to fit, or have grease or oil added to it to promote elasticity and swelling.  Stretch it using some muscle, but not overly--you don’t want it too loose to fit.  Stretch and re-retry several times until it seems right.  A tiny bit of excess can be crammer in, but not a draping gasket.  Gaskets are also commonly available in different sizes at stores that carry extensive arrays of canning supplies.  I’ve also borrowed family member’s at times.

beans15.jpg15.  Place the lid on the canner.  Turn it to lock it.  Now, usually, there is a “lock” indicator, sometimes with an arrow telling you which way to twist on the heavy lid.  It is cumbersome.  You will have to use potholders, so try not to have the pan too hot.

You can perhaps see if you look closely in the picture where the lines line up on the canner helping you align the lid.  NOTE:  MY OLDER CANNER LID WILL NOT GO ON THE POT UNLESS THE POT ITSELF IS FACING ME CORRECTLY WITH THE WORDS “OPEN” AND “CLOSE” ON THE  POT SHOWING ME WHERE TO PUT THE LID ON.  Newer canners it likely doesn’t matter.   Put the lid on, twist it clockwise slightly and feel it tighten down.

16.  Check to be sure the steam vent value is on the lid and is unscrewed to OPEN position. I’ve put mine on after it starts steaming if I’ve forgotten it, but you really have to watch carefully for steam burns doing this.  It’s advisable to reduce heat before putting it on if you forget.

17. Once the pressure canner starts to steam, allow it to rise to “FULL STEAM” for 3 minutes. Full steam means that you’ll see steam “shooting” out of the canner straight as opposed to little “puffs”.  You’ll hear it no longer sound like a train, but a solid spray of steam.  Be patient and don’t get scared…it’s okay as long as the pressure guage is still at reasonable levels.  What this is doing is getting excess air out of the canner to create the pressure. 

THEN tighten down the steam valve and watch the canner pressure guage closely until it rises to 10 pounds (assuming your canner’s gauge tested accurately, see notes above).  Then tighten down the air pressure valve by turning it with your finger.  Now, the canner is “pressured up”.

Lower your heat to about 1 or LOW on most oven dials.   WATCH CAREFULLY.  DO NOT LEAVE THE KITCHEN OR BE READING EMAIL OR IT WILL GET AWAY FROM YOU.  You don’t want to potentially blow a hole through the room of your home.  Start timer for 25 minutes. You may have to increase or decrease heat to keep it around 10 poundsBE SURE you have turned the heat down before closing off the pressure valve!

18. After 25 minutes, you can turn off the heat, allowing the canner to cool. (During canning,  I usually try to not have the kids running and jumping in the kitchen, just in case.)   Let the canner cool.  DO NOT FORCE THE LID OPEN BEFORE THE CANNER HAS COOLED. You don’t want it to blow your head off or anything ugly.

You may try to take the lid off after pressure is at 0.  I usually try to leave my jars there if I have time and let them sit a while, even overnight or while I’m out. If you need to take them out hot in order to continue canning more beans, use two towels, one on top of the jar, and one supporting the bottom of the jar as you remove the jar from the canner.  If the jar breaks or has developed a crack during canning, you don’t get splashed as debris hits the hot water.  If a jar breaks, take the other jars out, clean out the canner (after it cools and you can handle it, and continue on.

19.  Sit the jars on dry towels folded in half (NOT cool, damp towels!). Jarsy are hot, this gives them a “cushion” when you sit them down.  BE CAREFUL AND GENTLE, THEY ARE NOT YET ‘SEALED DOWN’ COMPLETELY. You may or may not hear “popping” as the lids seal down.  DO NOT TAKE THE BANDS OFF THE JARS UNTIL THE LIDS NO LONGER “POP UP” WHEN YOU PUSH ON THEM and the jars are cooled. If the lids still do not “stay down” after sitting overnight, the jar did not seal.  Just stick it in the fridge and eat it in a day or two if it did not seal, leaving the band intact.

I canned 21 jars and only one did not seal.

20.  Label the lids with a permanent marker with the year (and type of bean, if you use several varieties). After you sample the seasons produce for sun, cook your oldest canned jars first.  They store a very long time…if they are discolored or have a funky smell, you know it’s time to throw them away.

21.  Wash and store canner and bands.  Again, do not store the gasket outside…it’s more prone to dry out.  I take my bands off my jars; some leave them together.  I don’t own that many.  I just take them off and keep the bands and extra lids in a plastic grocery bag with the canner.  You can use the bands over and over through several cannings if necessary.

I hope this has been helpful to you.  Note that I am not responsible for misinformation or accidents, though I’ve edited this 4-5 times to try to be sure.  Double check with other respectable sites.  I’m happy to try to answer questions you may have.  Simply comment.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS PEOPLE HAVE HAD:

I forgot to add the salt, now what? Well, the salt is a biG part of the preservative.  Therefore, you need to set these jars aside on your cabinet and use them first.  They should last a few months, but I wouldn’t store them long term without salt.  Also, bump your seasoning up to compensate as you cook them.  I like to add a tsp of salt, a dash of pepper, and for GREAT beans, a strip of bacon cooked in it, or some left over reserved bacon grease.

I broke a jar, now what? That’s in the article above.  No need to panic.  It happens. Just be careful, and no, you don’t need to eat the beans in the pot, there may be glass in there.  Clean out the canner good before you continue to can with it.  Stray beans can clog the vent hole prematurely.

A jar didn’t seal: Check this article.  Use these beans for supper, or store a few days in the frig.  If there are many, review the process here to make sure you are covering everything.

Why do I hear a funny rattle of jars hitting together inside the canner? Because some jars are narrower than others if you aren’t using standard canning jars.  They will knock against each other until you get the canner up to pressure.  I set the canner to a bit lower heat early on to minimize this and reduce the chances of breaking a jar.

Can I Can Less Than a Full Canner? I usually just fix a big “mess” of beans or share when a neighbor when this happens.  Theoretically, you can as long as the canner is balanced.  Especially if you are only missing the “center” jar, it will probably can fine.  Less than that, and I probably wouldn’t mess with it.

I Can’t Get the Lid ON My Canner! Spin the pot itself toward you and see if your canner requires the pot to face you.  It may have words like “open” and “close” to help you.

All the water drained from my jars! You probably did not screw the bands on tight enough.  Tighten them as tight as you can by hand without over-tightening.  You can still use them, but I’d use them first, as they are prone to drying out faster.

Thanks for stopping by!  Let me know how it works out for you.

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115 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Katie  |  July 6, 2010 at 9:43 am

    To Alana, I, too had reddish/ brown mushy beans(and had to throw out 17 qts.!!) But I found out why- I had not blanched my beans for 2-3 minutes before packing in jars, nor did I use boiling water in the jars. Evidently, an enzyme is released from the bean if you don’t do either of the above. I’m going to attempt to can some this weekend – hope it works!!

  • 2. Debi Vincent  |  July 20, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Canned a batch of beans last weekend. I put the same amount of water in each jar – filled to 1/2 inch from the top. After they had processed, some jars have more liquid than others. In some jars, the beans are sticking up out of the liquid. In other jars, the liquid completely covers the beans. Is this anything to worry about?

  • 3. Maggie  |  July 20, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    I wouldn’t worry about it if they sealed. Sometimes more water comes out of some jars than others before the seal tightens. The ones sticking out will continue to get condensation moisture from the water in the jars.

  • 4. Amy  |  July 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I have pressure canned my green beans forever! We have a new grandbaby and my daughter and son-in-law placed my canned green beans in a plastic bowl (which they have used many times before) in the microwave and they sparked! I tried this at home and my beans sparked too! How would I have gotten metal in them? Could in be in my water?

  • 5. Sonja  |  July 21, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    I have been pressure cooking green beans for years. I have experienced the broken jars, and the water going out of the jars. But what I haven’t experienced is RED. My beans, especially the seeds turned a light red color after pressure cooking them. Do you know why? Are they still ok to eat?

  • 6. Maggie  |  July 22, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I would consult a canning book on this one and would never trust discolored canned goods. Usually a sign of an acidity problem of some kind. Check into this further…perhaps a different variety of bean?

  • 7. Maggie  |  July 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Good question! I’m not sure. Seems something worthy of following up on.

  • 8. Maggie  |  July 22, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    The two last questions:
    I would never trust discolored canned food. You might consider that a different variety of bean may have been used than you were aware of? Check that. If not, I’d think the acidity level was somehow off.

    As to sparks in the microwave, you might be onto something. I don’t generally cook green beans in the microwave, so I’m not sure. You might try a microwave safe dish and see if the same problem occurs. Otherwise, you could follow up with a county extension agent if you have those.

  • 9. beverly  |  August 11, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    i waterbath can my green beans every year!! They seal great, however, my aunt told me to gentle boil them 3 hours.

  • 10. Jaci  |  August 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    This is my first yr canning green beans.. I have noticed that the endof my green beans and the water is a brown color afte I take them out of the pressure canner. Is that the “normal” color the are supposed to be? I dont use salt so its not that… Thank You!

  • 11. Pamela Miller  |  September 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Cloudiness in canning is caused from using regular table salt. The fillers used in it cause the cloudiness.

  • 12. green bean recipes  |  May 20, 2011 at 4:09 am

    I am a fan of canning tomatoes. i will try green beans next. I noticed that the process is just the same.

  • 13. jeannie  |  June 21, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I have a small pressure cooker that will only hold two jars it does not have a gauge can I use it and will it work for green beans

  • 14. Diane  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Have you heard of canning greenbeans in the oven at 225 for 3 1/2 hrs.

  • 15. dawn  |  July 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    how long should i cook my green beans before canning them? or should cook them at all?

  • 16. Cheyane  |  July 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    The salt is not necessary. It is optional, according to USDA standards. The amount used for flavoring in canning beans is not a preservative.

    Also, ten pounds of pressure is not enough to be safe for everyone.

    Here are some great laboratory tested directions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

    http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_04/beans_snap_italian.html

  • 17. Bev  |  August 11, 2011 at 10:59 am

    My pressure canner will hold 9 pints and I was wondering if it is safe to stack 9 more on top to process. There is plenty of room to do this.

  • 18. Tina Frasco  |  August 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I just canned green beans for the first time. I did every thing according to the directions. When I took the jars out of the pressure canner, steam came out around the ring. All the jars sealed and now I can see some bubbles. Do you know if they are safe to eat?

  • 19. Louise DeTomasi  |  August 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I JUST CANNED 36 JARS OF GREEN BEANS AND ONLY PRESSURE COOKED THEM AT 11 LBS FOR 10 MINS. I PRECOOKED THEM IN HOT WATER UNTIL THEY TURNED A NICE BRIGHT GREEN, FILLED THE STERILIZED JARS.. DO YOU THINK THAT 10 MINS OF PRESSURE COOKER TIME IS ENOUGH? IF NOT SHOULD I PUT THEM BACK IN THE PRESSURE COOKER AND COOK THEM MORE?

  • 20. Angela  |  September 16, 2011 at 9:46 am

    First of all … I LOVE you site. It has been so helpful to me. I think I have read it and reread it like a trillion times! I think I was successful on my first batch. I did have 1 of my 7 quarts not seal. I am getting ready to to do another batch and was wondering if you thought it would be aproblem to recook the one jar that didn’t seal. I would put a new lid on it, but was concerned it might over severly overcook the beans. Thanks for all the GREAT information and help!

  • 21. greg  |  February 12, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Pressure canners get water to a temperature above the boiling point.
    Normally the temperature is 240 degrees F or 10 pounds psi. The need to get water above the boiling point is to completely destroy all pathogens, especially those that can cause botulism.

  • 22. Doug  |  February 26, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    My beans were watery and kinda soft when I opened them. I used a pressure canning are there tips to keep them more tasty?

  • 23. Maggie  |  March 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Yes, you can retry. I usually mark the top and use that one first. I will be cooked twice as long, but I generally have to cook down my beans a long time every after canning anyway. No harm in trying! Alternatively, with just one jar, you can cook that one for dinner that night instead of canning it. Thanks for visiting!

  • 24. bobbie jean munn  |  April 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    My beans never stay crisp. They get tough or mushy. If I put a little vinigar in will that help

  • 25. bobbie jean munn  |  April 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    How to keep beans crisp

  • 26. Denise Dixon  |  July 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    After removing my beans from the pressure cooker, the liquid is reddish brown, are they OK? What caused this?

  • 27. Randy  |  July 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    This was very good infro. first year canning thanks for the tips

  • 28. donna taber  |  August 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I have an old fashioned canner. How lo.g and how much water do i cover jars. Im doing all in pints?

  • 29. Maggie  |  August 7, 2012 at 7:35 am

    The instructions would be the same. My canner is very old.

  • 30. Maggie  |  August 7, 2012 at 7:49 am

    You are probably canning them too long or at too high a pressure. Great beans canned do not turn out “crisp” though. You’d probably need to freeze them for an effect similar to grocer fresh. They are meant to taste cooked, but not mushy or soggy at all.

  • 31. Maggie  |  August 7, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Yes. They seal when the lid goes down, most often always as the canner and jars are cooling.

  • 32. Maggie  |  August 7, 2012 at 8:02 am

    They are not precooked. Just rinsed according to this method.

  • 33. Maggie  |  August 7, 2012 at 8:07 am

    No, that is not a pressure canner for canning. It is just for cooking. It is not safe for canning. You need a gauge.

  • 34. Terry Sublett  |  August 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I’m canning green beans in a pressure cooker. Despited tamping them down, they settled a few inches. My recipe had said to add only 3 inches of water. The jars sealed, but the beans are discolored – darker above the water than below. Are they safe to store/eat?
    Thanks!

  • 35. Maggie  |  August 7, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I add about three inches of water to the canner, but fill the jar to the curvature of the jar with water.

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