Friday, December 29, 2017

Cardboard Toy Box

I hope the holiday season has been good to you and your family. As you're cleaning up and getting back into your normal routine, here's a project that will help the whole family keep things organized in the new year: a toy box.

The first thing that you'll need is a large cardboard box. I saved one from a fax machine, but any large box that you have from Christmas, the office, or the grocery store will work great.

You can decorate the box to match your decor or the kids' favorite characters. You can also use this technique on boxes for other storage solutions.

- large, sturdy cardboard box
- contact paper, wrapping paper, fabric, or other similar material that is large enough to cover the sides of your box
- exacto knife, scissors
- decorative duct tape (optional)
- large letter stickers or stencil (optional)
- white glue or glue gun

1. Remove any excess tape and labels from your box. Cut the top flaps off the box.

2. If your box has pre-cut hand-holds, decide whether you want to trim away the flap (like I did), cover the flap with your paper/fabric, or solidify the flap with tape and cover it. You can also cut hand-holds into the sides if you want them.

3. Tape over any damaged areas of the sides of the box.

4. Glue and/or tape down the flaps inside the bottom of the box.

5. Wrap your contact paper, wrapping paper or fabric around the sides of your box, leaving an inch or two overlap at the top to wrap over the top edge and secure inside. This leaves a nice, finished top edge. You can also stick a strip of duct tape along the top edge or inside the box to secure your paper/fabric if it isn't staying stuck properly.

6. Trim out your hand-holds, if applicable.

7. At this point, your box can be "done", or you can add more to it.

8. I used letter stickers to add the word "TOYS" to one side.

9. I also put a strip of decorative duct tape around the bottom edge.

DONE! Now for the hardest part: getting the kids to use it.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Raggy Tree Christmas Ornaments

These cute, country/primitive style trees are great ornaments for your tree or gifts for friends, family member, and teachers. They are quick and easy to make, but can be customized with a variety of colors.

Tie these on the outside of presents as a re-usable part of the wrapping, attach them to garland on your mantle or stair railing, or make the hanging loop large enough to hang these on your door knobs.

The size of the tree is determined by the "base", a stick of your choosing. Using a cinnamon stick makes a cute little ornament with a wonderful scent.

- wooden stick or cinnamon stick
- strips of fabric approximately 1" wide (various lengths)
- scissors
- string, ribbon or twine
- star or button for the top
- glue

1. Begin with shorter pieces of fabric at the top of your stick and tie them securely to the stick. You can use all one pattern/color of fabric per tree or a variety.

2. Continue tying strips of fabric around the stick until you have about 3/4 of the stick covered.

Trim the ends of the fabric strips so they form a tree shape.

3. Tie or glue on a hanging loop a the top. Glue on a star or button at the top.

DONE! Aren't these cute?! And easy to do. You can add a bit of twine or wire around the bottom of the stick to accessorize the trunk too. Enjoy!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wood Slice Snowman

Snowmen decorations are great because they aren't just for Christmas, you can have them up all winter. These wood slice snowmen can be made whatever size you like and decorated however you want. Not only are these cute decorations for your home, they make great gifts.

The main component is slices of logs. Larger diameter slices approximately 1" thick can be attached to a larger board and smaller diameter slices approximately 1/2" thick can be attached to a craft (popsicle) stick or twig.

You can decorate the snowmen with a variety of items, such as buttons, fabric or ribbon for scarves, painted wood bits, glitter, stickers, and more. Once the wood slices have been cut, kids can help with the assembly and decorate the snowmen.

- slices of logs
- board or craft stick
- glue gun or wood glue
- white acrylic paint
- black and orange acrylic paint or permanent markers
- buttons, "scarf", and other decorations
- string, ribbon or wire for hanging, if desired

1. Cut (or have cut) the logs into slices. Leave natural or paint with white acrylic paint. Water down the paint if you want to allow the natural grain of the wood to show through. Allow the paint to dry.

2. Glue three slices to a board or craft stick. Add a hanging loop if desired. Allow glue to dry.

3. Paint or glue on eyes, nose, mouth and buttons. Tie or glue on a "scarf". Add any other decorations you like.

DONE! Display your beautiful snowman for all your guests to see.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Fabric-Covered Over-Sized Christmas Candies

Here's a cute and easy project that you can do to get in the holiday spirit. Kids can make their own (with supervision or help during the glue gun use) as decorations or gifts, and you can customize yours to suit your style and decor.

These "candies" can also be strung together to make a garland to wrap around your Christmas tree or stair rail. I'm sure you can also come up with other fun ideas for them, like piling them in baskets or tucking them into the branches of your tree.

- empty pill bottles (without lids) or similar sized cylinders
- rectangles of fabric approximately 5" by 6"
- string, twine or ribbon
- glue gun, sticks
- scissors

1. Lay the pill bottle on the fabric and glue gun one edge of the fabric to the bottle.

2. Roll the bottle in the fabric and glue the other edge of the fabric to the bottle.

3. Cut pieces of string and tie them around the fabric on both sides of the bottle. Trim the ends of the string.

4. DONE! You can tie the candies together with more string to form a garland or leave them separate. Enjoy!

Monday, November 27, 2017

DIY Recycled Pallet Trees

'Tis the season for holiday decorations and these trees made from recycled pallets (or other scrap pieces of wood) are a great addition to your holiday decor. You can customize these to fit your style and color scheme, and they make great gifts too.

The possibilities are really endless when it comes to personalizing these trees. You can paint the "branches" whatever color you like (white, silver, light green, dark green, etc.), add wood slice "ornaments" in various colors, paint on your family name or a winter greeting, or even add Christmas lights.

You will need access to power tools (and/or someone who'll do some wood cutting for you) for this project. And always remember your proper safety gear when working with power tools.

- pallets or other scrap wood
- paint
- saw
- drill/screwdriver, screws
- tape measure, pencil

1. Disassemble the pallets and remove all nails from the boards.

2. Measure and cut your boards to the desired lengths. You'll need one long one for the tree "trunk" and three to five of various lengths (between 6" and 18", as desired) for the "branches".

Sand and paint your "branches" (and "trunk", if desired). Lay them on your "trunk" and make sure you're happy with the layout.

3. Screw the "branches" to the "trunk".

4. If desired, cut out a star for the top of the tree. Sand and paint it, then screw it on to the top "branch".

5. Stand your beautiful new tree(s) in the snow, tie or screw them to your fence, or stick them in a heavy plant pot. DONE!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Decorated Jars with Ribbon

Our basement bathroom doesn't get a lot of use unless we have guests staying over, but I like to keep a few things like Q-tips, nail clippers, etc. in there. I wasn't happy with the storage containers that I have been using, so I decided to decorate some baby food jars to use instead.

You can decorate any size/shape/type of jars that you prefer and it's easy to customize them to whatever your theme or color scheme is. These also make cute gifts, both empty or filled with candies, baking, or whatever you like.

Hopefully I can give you enough ideas to get inspired to customize your own jars. There are a million ways to decorate them, but here's what I did.

- clean, dry jars with lids
- glue gun
- scissors
- ribbon
- contact paper or similar

1. Make sure your jars and lids are thoroughly washed and dried. Remove any labels and as much glue as possible.

2. If there is writing on your lid and/or you don't like the color of it, you can either spray paint it or cover it. I chose to cover mine. I cut a circle of contact paper and applied it to the top of the lid.

3. My lid had writing on the sides too, so I used my glue gun to attach ribbon to the sides to cover the writing.

Now the lid is done.

4. To add ribbon to the jar, decide how you'd like the ends to be finished. For some jars I cut the ribbons slightly longer than the distance around the jar and glued the ends flat, just like on the lid. Choose which side will be the "back" of the jar and glue one end of the ribbon there, add glue all the way around in sections and press the ribbon to the glass, finishing by overlapping the ribbon slightly where you started.

For other jars, I cut the ribbons about 8 inches longer than the distance around the jar and tied the ends in a square knot, then trimmed them. (You could also cut the ribbon even longer and tie a knot and bow.)

Start by gluing the middle of the ribbon to the "back" of the jar.

5. Bring the ends around to the front and tie them into a square knot (left over right and under, right over left and under). Add a dab of glue under the knot to keep it in place.

6. Trim the ends of the ribbons. Put the lid back on. DONE.

Have fun creating a variety of beautiful jars and filling them with fun and useful things.

The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Add a Hanging Loop to a Kitchen Towel

I love having my kitchen towels hanging off my stove door, ready to use. Being a high-traffic area though, someone was always knocking a towel onto the floor. My mother and I came up with this solution: sew on a hanging loop.

This sewing can be done my machine or by hand and is a quick and easy way to make hanging your towels much easier. You can also customize some towels as a gift for someone for a house-warming, wedding, shower, birthday, or Christmas. I also did this on the towels in our holiday trailer so that I can easily hang them on the cupboard knobs.

My kitchen is mostly red and white, so I chose tape and ribbon in those colors. I love ladybugs and managed to find grosgrain ribbon with ladybugs on it. It looks adorable with my ladybug hand towels. I also have some towels with a red and black ribbon and some with white twill tape.

- towel
- twill tape or ribbon
- thread
- scissors
- measuring tape
- sewing notions

1. Cut the twill tape or ribbon approximately 8" long.

2. Fold under 1" on each end of the tape/ribbon.

3. Center the tape/ribbon on the edge of the towel just below the hem. This will be the top of the towel when it's hanging.

4. Sew the ends of the tape/ribbon to the towel. DONE.

Now you just hang the end with the loop over wherever you want to hang the towel and tuck the other end through your newly-sewn loop. Enjoy the convenience of your towels being exactly where you need them or get a kick start on your holiday gift preparation.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pony Pinata

Wondering what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy? Here's a fun little project that will take care of that for you: a pony pinata. This technique can be adapted to make other shapes and animals too.

As I've said before, pinatas are great at birthday parties. Kids love them and adults get the enjoyment of watching the kids bash them and collect the goodies. My niece's birthday is coming up soon, so I'm making this pinata as part of her birthday gift from me. As long as you use candy that will last, pinatas can be made well ahead of time.

Pinatas are also a lot of fun at other events where kids will be present. They are both a fun activity and a great way to give candy and small toys/items. Add a real "bang" to your New Years Eve celebration, some genuine Mexican flair to a Cinqo de Mayo (May 5th) bash, or some extra "pop" to a family reunion.

- cardboard
- tissue paper
- string
- marker or pencil
- scissors, exacto knife
- glue gun, sticks
- white glue
- candy, toys, hair accessories, other goodies for inside the pinata

1. Decide on the shape and draw it on a piece of cardboard. Keep the lines fairly straight and the design simple.

2. Cut out the shape. Flip it over and trace around it on another piece of cardboard. Cut out the second piece.

3. Cut a bunch of strips of cardboard. Mine were 3" wide.

4. Use the glue gun to glue the strips vertically along the edges of the pony shape. I didn't do the ear.

5. Fill the pinata with goodies.

6. Cut a bunch of tissue paper strips approximately 2" wide.

7. Snip along one side of the strips approximately 1" deep with approximately 1" spacing. This creates a "fringe".

8. Starting with the stomach and bottoms of the feet, white glue the non-fringed edge of the tissue paper strips to the pinata. 

9. Continue working from the bottom towards the top, overlapping the strips about 1".

10. Continue until you have the entire pinata covered.

11. I added some strips to the back end the look like a tail.

12. Carefully poke holes through both sides of the pinata centered along the back at approximately 1" down from the top edge.

13. Cut a 6' piece of string and feed it through the holes. I used a piece of wire to do this. Tie the ends of the string together. I also tied another knot about 6" up from the pinata.

DONE! Have fun watching the kids smash all your hard work. ;-)