Monday, August 14, 2017

Up-Cycled Snack Containers to Custom Canisters

Some of my toddler's favorite snacks come in these little cardboard cans with plastic lids. They're fairly sturdy, so I decided to reuse some as food storage canisters. I had some "Star Wars" wrapping paper that I have been saving for a fun project and this seemed perfect.

You can use whatever kind of paper you like, as long as you have enough of it to cover the cans and glue that will hold it in place. You can also use fabric instead of paper, or duct tape, or contact paper. Whatever you choose, this is a super easy project.

- empty food cans with lids
- wrapping paper or similar
- glue
- labels (optional)

1. Thoroughly wash and dry the cans and lids. Don't soak the cardboard as it will deteriorate. I let the cans air dry for a day or more to make sure they're completely dry.

2. Lay the can on the paper and wrap the paper around it to determine how long of a strip you require. Leave enough extra for the ends to overlap. It's better to have a big overlap than a gap.

Measure the height of the can with a ruler or by placing it in the paper. You want the strip to fit between the top and bottom raised edges. Cut out the strip.

3. Wrap the strip around the can to make sure it's the correct size. Trim if necessary. Glue in place. I used an ordinary glue stick. The top edge of my cans was rolled up a bit most of the way around and I rolled it up in the places that it wasn't, because that made it easier to get the strip of paper positioned properly.

4. That's basically it! Didn't I tell you that it was easy?

OPTIONAL: Add labels to the sides and/or lids, if you want to. I printed labels off my computer using a font that looks like the "Star Wars" logo.

OPTIONAL: To make the canisters more durable, you can also cover the paper with clear contact paper or packing tape. I suggest applying the label before you do this, if you want a label, since it might not stick as well to the contact paper or tape.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Painted Mason Jars

Mason jars are such versatile items for both functional and decorative purposes. Jars of all sizes and shapes are very popular in decor right now, but you don't have to break the bank to add some awesome jars to your home.

Dollar stores, garage sales, and thrift stores are all great sources of cheap jars. Check them thoroughly for chips and cracks before you buy them. You can also save jars from food that you enjoy, like pasta sauce, salsa, jam, and other sauces and spreads.

Once you have your jars, decide on the colors you'd like them to be. Be bold in gold or timeless in white. Paint a set in Halloween or Christmas or Easter colors. These jars are done in a single color, but you could layer more than one on your jars. Get creative and have fun.

- glass jars (mason or any style you like)
- sand paper
- acrylic paint
- sponge
- optional: ribbon, twine, tag, fake flowers, glitter, or anything else you wish to add to your jars
- optional (for lids): chalkboard paint, drill and drill bit

1. Thoroughly wash and dry the jars. Completely remove any labels, stickers, and sticky residue.

2. Use sandpaper to sand off any existing paint. These jars had been stamped with the details of an event, but the sandpaper easily removed it.

3. Using a small piece of sponge, dab the paint onto the jar. Don't try to cover it too evenly or too thick. Turn the sponge frequently so that the paint coverage is nice and random.

4. Apply additional coats, if necessary, to achieve the color you're looking for. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly.

5. Use sandpaper to carefully sand the paint off the raised areas of the jars, if desired. This lets some light through and makes the design stand out. Add any embellishments that you desire, such as ribbon or twine. DONE.

OPTIONAL: Drill a hole in the center of the top of the lid that is large enough for a straw. Paint the lid with chalkboard paint so that you or your guests can write on the top of drinks.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

DIY Wall Mounted File Organizer

In an attempt to organize our kitchen a little better, I designed and built a wall mounted file organizer. I had looked at buying one, but couldn't find anything that fit my needs and the space where I wanted to put it. I wanted to mount it on the side of a cabinet, so I also wanted the organizer to be light weight so that I could use 3M strips to attach it, rather than screws or nails. I used foam core board, but you could use cardboard. You could also use thin wood if you want to get really fancy.

- foam core board
- white glue
- ruler, pencil
- exacto knife
- acrylic paint, brush

1. Determine what size you want to make your organizer and how many "pockets" you want it to have. I wanted a letter-size piece of paper to fit "landscape" in both pockets. I chose two pockets: one for papers to be filed and one for papers to go out (letters to be mailed, coupons, etc.).

The base of my organizer is 11" wide by 14" high. I started with two pieces of foam board this size and glued one on top of the other to make a base two boards thick.


I glued 1/2" strips of foam board all the way around the front edge of my base.

2. Decide how deep you want the pockets to be. On my organizer, the bottom pocket is 4.5" deep and the top one is 5" plus it extends down inside the bottom pocket a bit.


I made the top opening of my pockets 2" from the back/base.

Draw out your side pieces so they look like two overlapping right-angle triangles. Measure the lengths of the two angled edges - these measurements will be the height of your front pieces. My front pieces are 10" wide.

3. Hold one side piece in place and mark on the top pocket front where you need to notch it so that the bottom edge of it will fit down inside the bottom pocket. Mark the opposite side of the front in the same place. Double check, then trim away the two notches.

Test-fit the pieces and make any necessary adjustments.

4. I glued a 1/2" strip on edge across the bottom of where my bottom pocket sits because I had a bit if a gap there when I test-fit the pieces.

Glue the side pieces in place. Use the fronts to ensure that you have them at 90 degrees to the back/base.

I used some more 1/2" strips inside the pockets to make the sides sturdier and ensure there weren't any gaps at the bottoms.

Glue the fronts in place. Allow all glue to dry thoroughly.

5. Paint and decorate the organizer however you please. Label your pockets, if you want to.
(The paint warped my fronts a bit, but I don't mind.)


What fun ways did you decorate yours? Chalk paint? Your last name? An inspirational quote? Did you label the pockets with your family members' names? I haven't decide what else to do on mine so it's still just boring and white.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Birthstone Bracelet

My grandmother had a ring with her children's birthstones on it and I always thought it was such a beautiful way to represent your loved ones in a piece of jewelry. Now that I have kids, I wanted to make myself a piece of jewelry with my birthstone and theirs. I decided to add beads in the birthstone colors to my favorite style of woven friendship bracelet, and I'm very pleased with the results.

You can make this bracelet for yourself, your mother, your friend, or anyone else who has kids or grandchildren. It would make a wonderful Mothers' Day, birthday, or Christmas gift. Since this bracelet has seven strings, you can use up to seven different colors. If you don't want to match the strings to the birthstones the way that I did, you could do as many beads as you like, just put more than one on a string.

I used three birthstone colors (mine plus two kids') and matched three strings to my beads. I used a silvery grey string for the four other strings. Here's a list of months/birthstones/colors for you to reference.

January = garnet = red
February = amethyst = purple
March = aquamarine = light blue
April = diamond = colorless
May = emerald = green
June = pearl = white
July = ruby = red
August = peridot = olive green
September = sapphire = royal blue
October = opal = colorless, white, yellow, red, orange, green, brown, black, blue, pink
November = topaz = brown/dark yellow
December = turquoise = turquoise/teal

- 7 strands of embroidery floss (or similar string) that are 26" long (or longer if you're adding more than 5 beads, you'll need the extra length for the knots)
- a circle of cardboard approximately 3" in diameter
- scissors
- beads

1. Start with the beads and matching colored strings. Choose one bead to be the center of the bracelet. (I used my birthstone for the center.) Slide it onto the corresponding colored string and center it. (If you're doing an even number of beads, position the bead slightly to one side of center.) Using all the colored strings, with the ends aligned, tie a single knot on both sides of the bead. Slide the next bead onto the corresponding colored string, push it against the knot, and tie another knot on the other side of it. Repeat for the next bead on the other side of the center/start bead. Repeat until all the beads are added, separated by knots.

2. Align the ends of the "background" strings with one end of colored strings. Use the background strings to tie knots around each of the previous knots.

3. Visit this great tutorial for how to weave your bracelet: Pull the beaded section tight to the underside of the cardboard circle, with all the loose strings above. As you weave, the beads will get further from the circle.

4. When you're about 3" from the ends of your threads, pull the bracelet off the cardboard circle.

5. Tie a knot at the end of the weave. Trim the extra thread tails.

6. Repeat steps 3 - 5 for the other side of the bracelet.

7. Tie one end of the bracelet into a knot around the other end.

Pull the knot tight.

8. Repeat for the other end.

These knots will slide on the weave, allowing the bracelet size to be adjustable. DONE.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Star Wars Quilt Patterns


Our whole family loves Star Wars so I decided to sew some Star Wars quilts for our holiday trailer. I wanted to make "rag time" quilts and couldn't find any patterns that I liked, so I designed some. I made several different designs with the same number of blocks so that I could do a different design on each side. I started with R2-D2 and BB-8 and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

I like the "rag time" quilt style because it's simple and fun. I did 8" square blocks and 1" seam allowances. Instead of quilt batting inside the blocks, I used a square of flannel. For fabric, I used a mix of flannel, flannelette, and jersey (t-shirt material). I even cut up some old t-shirts to get all the colors that I wanted. You can also use other heavier fabrics like denim for these quilts.

You can use whatever colors/patterns you prefer for the "background" blocks. There are tonnes of different Star Wars fabrics available. I thought that a star print would be fun. I used a camo print for the background on the R2-D2 quilt that I made.

Here are the patterns that I came up with. Some use 88 blocks and some use 99 blocks. Feel free to use them to make your own quilts. I thought that these patterns would also work for perler beads, cross stitch, or even tile mosaics.




Poe's X-WING


REBEL logo

Vader's TIE fighter

I'd love to hear what you think of these patterns and see pictures of your quilts. Are there any other characters/ships that you'd like me to attempt to make a pattern for?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Reinforce and Redecorate a Storage Box Using Duct Tape

My niece was recently given a ukulele. It came in a fairly nice box, which she will be using as a case for carrying and storing her new instrument, but in her excitement to open it, she tore the box a bit. Naturally, I stepped in with a quick and easy way to make any storage box stronger and prettier: duct tape.

You can use this technique on any box. Duct tape is so versatile and comes in so many colors and patterns that you can easily upgrade a boring or flimsy box to fit your decor and needs. Who says that a storage box has to be boring?

Have a race car track in a box? Use black and yellow tape to look like a road around the sides. Have a punch bowl set in a box? Use colored tape to match your kitchen, dining room, or favorite beverage. Saving keepsakes or schoolwork in boxes in your kids' rooms? Use duct tape to make the boxes part of the decor. Have a ukulele in a box? Use your niece's favorite color duct tape to make it extra special for her.

- box to be covered
- duct tape (I also used brown kraft paper tape but you can just use duct tape)
- white glue
- scissors

1. Start by repairing any damaged areas with tape. I like to tape both the inside and outside of any tears or cuts.

2. Reinforce the corners with white glue (allow to dry thoroughly) and tape. If the box is two pieces (like this one), make sure that they still fit together properly.

3. Wrap a strip of duct tape all the way around the box (I did just the lid for this one), lining the edge of the tape up with the edge of the box.

4. Wrap additional strips of duct tape all the way around the box, using the first strip as a guideline. I try to slightly overlap the strips so that no cardboard shows through. Use as many strips in whatever pattern you like to cover the box.

5. DONE! (I have found that some brands of decorative duct tape don't stay stuck, unfortunately. If you notice your tape lifting off at the end, just tape across it with some clear scotch tape or packing tape.) Enjoy storing your special items in their beautiful and sturdier boxes.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Triangular Storage Boxes (for awkward and unusual spaces)

We have a wooden corner unit in our basement that has these triangular shelves on both sides. They're great for displaying things but I wanted to add some closed storage to the lower shelves, so I had to design some custom boxes.

Once you figure out the angle, which isn't difficult, it's actually pretty easy to make the boxes. I covered mine with wrapping paper but you can decorate yours however you choose.

- cardboard box approximately the same size as the shelf
- flat cardboard pieces
- paper
- exacto knife, scissors
- ruler, pencil
- glue gun, glue sticks

1. Place a regular piece of paper on the shelf with one edge tight against the side. Bend the opposite side up so that you can press the paper tightly into the corner. Fold the paper firmly so that the folded edge is tight against the side of the shelf. This will be your template for creating the box.

2. Cut the top flaps off a cardboard box (and cut shorter than your shelf space, if necessary). Place it upside down on your work surface. Put your template UPSIDE DOWN on the bottom of the box with the 90 degree angle against one corner. Trace your angle, using a ruler to make the line longer if necessary. Cut this line and down the sides of the box at both ends of the line.

NOTE: If you have other shelves that are exactly opposite the one you start with, you should be able to use the same template, just place it right side up on the bottom of the box instead.

3. Measure the angled edge of the box at the inside of the bottom of the box. This length will be the length of the side piece of cardboard, plus an inch or so for flaps on both ends (for gluing). Measure the inside height of the box. This will be the width of the side piece, plus an inch or so for a flap along the bottom (for gluing).

4. Inside the bottom of the box, trim the inside flap(s) back from the angled edge to make space for the gluing flap on the side piece. Glue down the inside flaps. Check the side piece for fit, adjust if necessary, and glue in place. I glued the bottom edge first, then one side, then the other.

If you don't want to make a lid, skip to decorating and using the box.

5. Place the box upside down on another piece of cardboard and trace around it. Use a ruler to draw lines about 1/8" outside of the traced line (for folding). Draw more lines an inch from these lines (or more if you want a deeper lid). Cut on these lines. Cut some of the ends to make small flaps (for gluing). Fold on the fold lines.

6. Check to make sure the lid will fit. Glue the small flaps to the insides of the lid edges to form the lid. I also taped the corners that I felt needed a bit of extra reinforcement.

DONE. Decorate/cover the box however you like, fill it up, and stick it on the shelf.

(No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you - we painted the corner unit before I finished the boxes.)