Mason Jar Lanterns: DIY Design Tutorial



I am totally enamored with these beautiful blue mason jars from Ball. You may remember that I used them for gifting cookies to friends and family over the holiday. Now that the weather is *finally* warming up, I’ve turned them into lovely little hanging lanterns for my backyard. It’s super budget-friendly DIY Design project that any of you can do; here’s how!

What you’ll need:

-Mason Jars: 1 per lantern

-Kosher Salt (or other large-grained salt): enough to fill each lantern about 2/3

-Votive or tea light candles

-Chain of choice, cut into 2-foot pieces (available at Home Depot, etc. I chose the smallest silver chain they had available. They’ll cut the chain for you on the spot in the store.)

-18-gauge wire, ideally same color as your chain

-Pliers (mine, pictured below, also cut wire. But you can just use needle-nose pliers and a pair of scissors if you don’t have the fancy wire-cutting kind.)

– Optional: Strong scissors (if pliers don’t cut wire).




Fill your jars with enough salt to make it easy to reach the candles for placement and lighting. But make sure the salt level is low enough that the wick is beneath the top of jar. The whole point of the lantern is to keep the wick protected from the wind! I usually fill the jars about 2/3 of the way with salt.




Cut a piece of wire that is 2-3 inches long. Take one of your 2-foot pieces of chain; starting with one end, loop it around the jar so it lays as flat as possible underneath the grooves at the top of the jar. Then loop the piece of wire through the links so that the chain is hugging the jar very snugly, and twist once to secure tightly in place.




Using your pliers, tighten the wire loop and then twist the ends tightly two or three times. Once the wire is twisted tightly into place, cut the excess length off of the wire. The little twisted link that you just made will blend right into the chain. IMG_3489IMG_3490

Now you have a nice snug necklace wrapped around the top of the jar, with one long loose piece of chain hanging off of it, like so:


Take the last link on the loose end of the chain and fasten it to the exact opposite side of the jar opening using the same technique described above, forming the loop that you will use to hang the jar.


And that’s it! Hang from tree branches, a shepherd’s hook, your fence, or anything else that protrudes and is strong enough to securely hold these babies.

IMG_3493  IMG_3496

My Radio Debut!

I’m SUPER excited to announce that I’m going to be doing a weekly Dining Segment on WTOP News Radio! The segment debuts today – click on “Click to Listen” to (duh) have a listen!

Dining al fresco: The top 5 restaurants with fire pits

Patio dining heats up this fall

WTOP’s Rachel Nania reports.
Click to Listen

Dinner, served fireside on D.C. patios

WTOP’s Rachel Nania reports.
Click to Listen

Saturday – 11/9/2013, 8:10am  ET


The dip in temperatures doesn’t mean you have to take your dinner inside. A handful of D.C. restaurants are getting cozy around patio fire pits. Here are the top 5. (Rachel Nania/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – It’s just about that time of year when restaurant hostesses stop asking, “Would you like to sit inside or outside?” But before you settle for the two-top by the bathroom, know that you still have outdoor options.

A handful of D.C.-area restaurants are not taking down their patios, even in the brisk, autumn temperatures. Instead, they’re lighting fires.

“Everybody just kind of cuddles around and gets a little bit snugglier,” says Alia Khan, dining editor for Bisnow Media.

“It’s just such a quintessential fall experience, and I love that there are restaurants in town that are offering people the chance to have this experience if you don’t have your own fire pit in your backyard that you can enjoy.”

Bisnow’s dining publication recently listed some of the top picks in D.C. for fireside dining, and Khan sat down with WTOP to discuss the favorites.

Poste Moderne Brasserie

Located in the Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter, Poste’s patio does not disappoint.

“They’ve just transformed it into their winter lounge … and the fire pits are wood-burning,” Khan says. “Nothing really compares to the crackling of the logs and the actual, you know, smell of the smoke wafting up, it’s just so darn cozy.”

The staff at Poste regularly comes out to the patio to throw wood onto the fire to keep things going. “You don’t need to worry about tending to your own fire. You can just relax,” Khan says.

Bourbon Steak

Known as one of the area’s best restaurants, Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown has an outdoor ambiance as good as its dry, aged meats. The patio has a few fire pits in the outdoor lounge, alongside heat lamps and cozy patio furniture.

Room 11

Located on Columbia Heights’ hip 11th Street strip, Room 11 elevates its cozy ambiance with outdoor fire pits and blankets. The fire-side menu also includes warm, seasonal drinks, such as a mulled cranberry-apple cider spiked with bourbon.

Art and Soul

Chef Art Smith’s Union Station-area restaurant makes Southern comfort food a little more warm and comfortable with its outdoor fire. Make sure you catch a view of the Capitol in the glow of the embers.

J&G Steakhouse

Leave it up to a restaurant inside the W Hotel to put a modern spin on a fire pit. “They’ve got these beautiful glass cases that sort of enclose the fire, but they’re still super cozy; they’ll offer blankets.” Khan says.

As Dining Editor for Bisnow Media, Alia J. Khan writes about the business side of DC’s restaurant industry. Check out Dining Bisnow for handy listicles and the latest on hot new openings, trends, and innovations in the DC Dining Scene. Peruse the archivessubscribe, or follow @DiningBisnow on Twitter. Alia is a recovering attorney turned restaurant writer, realtor and yoga instructor. You can reach her at


Top 5 Spots in DC to Work Remotely

This town is chock full of folks who work remotely: consultants, freelancers, realtors, and  entrepreneurs – just to name a few. I’ve learned the hard why that while setting up a home office can be great, it can also be a great recipe for cabin fever. So I’ve put together a list of 5 of my favorite places in town to turn into my mobile office when I need a change of scenery from working at home.

My criteria:

1. Free Wi-Fi that works consistently.
2. Comfy chairs and tables that are a decent size: your drink, snack, and laptop/books/papers all fit comfortably.
3. Staff that doesn’t give you the stinkeye for camping out for awhile.
4. In addition to quality caffeinated beverages and baked goods, they offer solid breakfast and lunch options should you need to work through mealtimes.
5. Bonus: They all have outdoor seating. After all, one of the best things about working remotely is not being trapped in an office when the weather is beautiful!

Tryst: 2459 18th St. NW (Adams Morgan)


I would argue that this was one of DC’s true coffeehouses – i.e. a comfy place to actually hang out for a bit, rather than grab some joe and go. I love this place – it reminds me SO much of Austin. Comfy, cushy sofas, mismatched furniture, communal tables, and an all-around chill atmosphere. Tryst turns off their Wi-Fi on weekends. After years of permit battles, they’ve finally been allowed to set up patio seating out front.

Click here to check out listings near Tryst!

H Street Coffeehouse & Cafe: 1359 H St NE (Atlas District)


Formerly known as Sova, this coffee shop was taken over and made over by the owners of the neighboring Biergarten Haus earlier this year. The two establishments share the back patio, so coffeehouse patrons are only allowed out there before 4pm. So far I’ve only tried the coffee, but I’ve got my eye on those jelly doughnuts…

Click here to check out listings near H Street Coffeehouse! 

Pound the Hill: 621 Pennsylvania Ave. SE (The Hill/Eastern Market)


Nutella is king at this Capitol Hill institution. There’s nothing like a steamy, creamy Nutella latte to warm you up on a chilly day. Or, if you’re seeking carbs rather than caffeine, give the Nutella scone a try. The shop has a fairly extensive food menu and actually converts to a table service restaurant at dinner time, but I wasn’t thrilled with my dinner experience there.

Click here to check out listings near Pound!

The Coupe: 3415 11th St. NW (Columbia Heights)


The Coupe is three establishments in one: coffee bar, diner, and full bar. The space is huge and divided up effectively, so it’s possible to get work done on one end while folks are drinking at the other.

Click here to check out listings near The Coupe!

Bar di Bari: 1401 R St. NW (Logan Circle)


This Italian-inspired cafe from Aaron Gordon (Drafting Table, etc.) offers a small selection of hot entrees and wines in addition to the usual coffeehouse fare. This is a great cheaper, chilled-out option in the midst of the 14th Street upscale-casual frenzy.

Click here to check out listings near Bar di Bari!