Friday, April 28, 2017

Easy Update to a Tile Back Splash

When we bought our house, the tile back splash in the kitchen featured a pastel floral pattern. This dated pattern was definitely not our style, but we didn't want to go through all the hassle and expense of removing and replacing all the tile, so I got creative.

It is possible to paint tile and seal the paint to make it extra durable, but my solution was simpler and easier: contact paper. Available in an endless number of colors and patterns, contact paper can be easily cut with scissors and sticks to all sorts of surfaces.

The kitchen tile transformation was so great that I later covered the back splash tiles in our bathroom to give them an easy update and make the irregular pattern look even.

- contact paper
- scissors
- ruler, measuring tape
- pencil
- exacto knife

(I did all the "easy" tiles first, then measured, cut, etc. the irregular ones.)

1. Decide whether you want to cover the entire tiles or just a part. Carefully measure your tiles or the height/width of the areas you want to cover. 

2. Mark the measurements on the back of the contact paper. Remember to reverse any shapes that aren't square/rectangular, such as L-shapes. Double check your measurements and shapes. If your contact paper has a pattern that your hoping to match up, label your pieces so that you can keep track of where they go.

3. Carefully cut out the pieces of contact paper.

4. Apply the pieces of contact paper to the tiles by lining up the top edge and smoothing it downwards. Smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles. Continue until you have all the pieces applied.

5. Use an exacto knife to carefully trim any edges that need adjustment. DONE!

BONUS TIP: If you have older outlet covers inset in your tile back splash, it can be hard to find modern replacements that fit the space. An easy way to update these covers is to remove them, wash them thoroughly, and spray paint them. You can also spray paint the tops of the screws, just poke them through a cardboard box so that the tops can be easily sprayed and the threads are protected from the paint. Allow all the paint to dry as per the manufacturer's instructions, then carefully replace the cover and screws.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hockey Season Scarf or Afghan

While browsing on Pinterest last fall, I came across the idea to crochet or knit a scarf or afghan that shows a record of events. People do a variety of different things, but the basic idea is to add a row each day or so that records that day's event. Here are some examples:

Each day, add a row corresponding to the weather for that day.
- white = snowing
- yellow = sunny
- blue = raining
- light grey = cloudy
- dark grey or black = thunderstorm

Each day, add a row corresponding to the temperature for that day.
- red = very hot
- orange = hot
- yellow = warm
- green = cool
- blue = cold
- purple = frigid

The idea is to keep adding to the scarf or afghan for a year to create a piece that tells the story of that year. These would make great keepsakes or gifts to track the first year of a baby's life or a couple's marriage. They are also just a fun way to motivate yourself to do something creative every day.

Inspired by this concept, I adapted it to fit one of my biggest interests: hockey. By using my favorite team's colors, I made myself a scarf that shows a record of the wins and losses for the season. With an 82 game regular season, I chose to do double crochet for my rows (15 stitches wide) to make sure that the scarf was long enough to be useful. If you're doing a scarf or afghan for a team with a shorter schedule, you may want to do two rows per game to make sure it's long enough by the end of the season.

Each game, add a row corresponding to the game result.
- win = team's primary color
- loss = white
- overtime or shootout loss = team's secondary color (optional)

You can make these to commemorate your child or grandchild's hockey season, or adapt it for other sports that they play or you enjoy watching. The key is to make yourself a guide of what each color represents. It's also handy to have a reference for the game results in case you aren't able to work on the scarf or afghan for a while so that you don't miss any rows or forget the results.

For the post-season, I added metallic silver craft thread to the rows. Alternately, you could do a row of grey/silver or another color to show the division between the regular season and the post-season.

What other events or stories could be told in yarn? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Boring Boxes to Stylish Storage

As far as I'm concerned, you can never have too many storage solutions, or too much craft supplies, so when my existing system wasn't working anymore, it was time to get creative. I dug through my stash of cardboard boxes, grabbed a few old road maps and a roll of craft paper tape and got to work.

You can use any type of cardboard boxes that you have, although I like heavier ones rather than the cereal box weight. You can also cover them with a variety of materials, from duct tape to magazine pages, so you can make them fit any decor. 

For these, I used spray glue to attach the maps and craft paper tape around the top and bottom edges. I also used the craft paper tape around the sides of the lids. On other boxes I have used contact paper on the box sides and top of the lid and duct tape around the sides of the lid. The possibilities are endless, as long as you have the glue/tape to hold your material in place.

- cardboard boxes, flat cardboard pieces
- exacto knife, scissors
- tape, glue
- decorative paper, contact paper, wrapping paper, fabric, or similar

1. Cut the top flaps off the boxes. Remove any labels or loose tape. Ensure that the bottoms of the boxes are sturdy and secured.

2. Measure the height of the boxes. Cut your paper into strips slightly wider than that measurement.

3. Wrap and secure (i.e. glue) the strip(s) around the box, overlapping slightly at the seams/ends. I like to have the bottom edge of the strip flush with the bottom of the box and a bit of paper sticking up above the top edge of the box. You can trim away the extra bit of paper or leave it and cover it with tape like I do.

4. Wrap tape around the top edge of the box, with approximately half of the width of the tape extending above the edge of the paper. Slice the corners vertically.

Fold the four sides down inside the box.

5. Wrap tape around the bottom edge of the box, with approximately half of the width of the tape extending past the edge of the box. Slice the corners vertically.

Press the tape down onto the bottom of the box.

6. Measure the width and length of the top of the box. Add 2.25" to both measurements. Draw and cut out a flat piece of cardboard that size. Mark 1" in from all four sides. Score along those lines. Cut a thin wedge out at each corner, creating 1" square flaps. Fold along all the score lines.

NOTE: For larger boxes, you might want the lid to be deeper, which is easily achieved by adding more width and length to your original measurements and making your cut and score lines further from the edges.

7. Glue the little flaps to the insides of the lid sides. Hold with binder clips while the glue dries (if necessary). Once the glue is dry, you can cover the top of the box with paper, etc. if you want to. Wrap tape around the sides of the lid, with approximately half of the width of the tape extending above the edge of the lid towards the inside. Slice the corners vertically.

8. Fold the tape to the inside of the lid. Flip the lid over and put it on the box.

DONE! Complete the rest of your boxes, fill them with treasures, label them, and stick them on a shelf.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


To pair with the Lego "NEXO KNIGHTS" shield that I made for my son, I also designed and built a sword. These instructions can be adapted to make all sorts of designs.

- cardboard: flat pieces, scraps, 1" tube
- scissors, exacto knife
- white glue
- glue gun and sticks
- grey/silver duct tape
- colored duct tape
- ruler, pencil

1. For the blade and tang (section that goes inside the handle/hilt), mark and cut out four pieces of cardboard that are 16" in total length, 3" wide for 10" of length (blade) and 1" wide for 6" of length (tang). Mark the center at the end of the blade and 1.5" down each side, connect to form two triangles, and cut away the triangles to form a tip on the blade.

2. Glue the four pieces together.

3. Wrap all the sides and edges of the blade and a bit of the tang with grey duct tape.

4. Cut the 1" tube to 6" long. Trim a bit of the edge off the tang so that the tube will slide over it.

5. For the cross-guard, cut three pieces of cardboard 2" wide by 5" long and trim away a 1" by 1/2" triangle from all four corners. Cut a hole in the center that is just big enough for the tang to fit through (approximately 1" x 1/2"). Check to make sure the tang fits through.

Glue the three pieces together. Cover in grey duct tape.

Slide the cross-guard onto the tang and glue in place.

6. Cut 2 pieces of cardboard approximately 1/2" wide and 5.5" long. Glue one to each side of the tang. Let dry.

7. Cover the 1" tube with colored duct tape. Put glue on all sides of the tang and slide the tube over top. Let dry.


Saturday, April 8, 2017


Ever since my son watched "Lego NEXO KNIGHTS", he has been running around the house slaying monsters, rescuing people, and performing other knightly duties. To help him in his quests, I designed and built him his very own shield.

You are welcome to use the following ideas and techniques to build your own style of shield.

There are tonnes of NEXO KNIGHTS shield crest pictures online that you can print off or copy if you don't want to design your own crest. There are also coloring pages on the official Lego webpage that you can print off and have your kid(s) color and design their own crest.

- cardboard: flat pieces, scraps, tubes (approximately 1" and 1/2", if you can find)
- colored paper: yellow, your main color, accent color
- scissors, exacto knife
- white glue
- spray glue or paper glue stick
- glue gun and sticks
- grey/silver duct tape
- clear contact paper (mactac)
- pencil, ruler

1. Cut 4 cardboard rectangles that are 12" x 8". Mark the center of one 8" side. Measure and mark 3" from that end along both 12" sides. Draw lines from the 3" marks to the center mark, forming two triangles. Cut away the triangles to get the shield shape. Repeat for all four rectangles.

2. Glue the four shield shapes together on top of one another with white glue. Put something heavy on them to keep them flat while they dry.

3. Cut a yellow rectangle that is 12" x 8". Mark the center of one 8" side. Measure and mark 3" from that end along both 12" sides. Draw lines from the 3" marks to the center mark, forming two triangles. Cut away the triangles to get the shield shape.

Cut a rectangle from your accent color that is 11" x 7". Mark the center of one 7" side. Measure and mark 2 5/8" from that end along both 11" sides. Draw lines from the side marks to the center mark, forming two triangles. Cut away the triangles to get the shield shape.

Cut a rectangle from your main color that is 10" x 6". Mark the center of one 6" side. Measure and mark 2 1/4" from that end along both 10" sides. Draw lines from the side marks to the center mark, forming two triangles. Cut away the triangles to get the shield shape.

4. On the back of the main color, mark lines 1/2" from the outside edge on the top and long sides. Mark lines 1/4" from the outside edge on the two angled sides at the bottom.

Around the long sides and top, mark squares and rectangles in 1/2" increments within the 1/2" border you marked. The pattern can be symmetrical or random. Look at pictures online for inspiration. Once you're happy, cut out some of the squares and rectangles from the edge. Cut away the 1/4" area you marked along the two angled sides.

Add your design in the center. I drew mine on the back and cut out the pieces, allowing the accent color to show through. You can draw on the front, apply stickers, or glue on printed pictures.

5. Use paper glue or spray glue to attach the main color shield onto the accent color shield and the accent color shield onto the yellow shield.

Cover the front of the layered paper shield with clear contact paper. I had some with squares embossed on it that gives the shield a digital look.

6. Wrap the edge of the cardboard shield with duct tape.

Glue the layered paper shield to one side.

7. Cover the opposite side of the shield with duct tape.

8. From scrap cardboard, cut 18 rectangles that are 1" x 1.5". Fold the rectangles in half width-wise (to look like little books).

From the 1" diameter cardboard tube, cut two pieces 1/2" long.

From the 1/2" diameter cardboard tube, cut two pieces 1" long.

9. Cover the outsides and edges of 14 of the little rectangles with duct tape.

10. Cut two corners off of each of the remaining four little rectangles. They should look like little shields with a vertical fold down the middle.

Use duct tape to attach one little shield piece to one little rectangle piece (so that they look like a little hockey stick shape), covering the outside and edges with tape. Repeat for a second little shield and rectangle pair.

Use duct tape to cover and attach together the remaining two little shield shapes into a V-shape, covering the outside and edges with tape.

11. Center one of the 1/2" diameter cardboard tube pieces inside one of the 1" diameter cardboard tube pieces. Fill between them with scrap cardboard. Fill inside the 1/2" diameter cardboard tube piece with scrap cardboard. Repeat with the other two tube pieces.

Cover both tube pairs with duct tape.

12. Using a glue gun, attach the pieces from steps 8-11 around the edges of the shield as follows:
ANGLED CORNERS: hockey stick shape
LONG EDGES: rectangle flush with the top of the edge, three rectangles between that one and the angled corner
ANGLED EDGES: two rectangles between the angled corner and the bottom point
TOP EDGE: tube pairs at both corners

13. Cut three 1" wide strips of cardboard: 4" long, 6" long, and 8" long. On the 8" piece, fold the ends up 1" from the end and down 2" from the end. On the 6" piece, fold the ends down 1" from the end. Glue the 6" strip on top of the 8" strip and the 4" strip under the 8" strip, so that the middle 4" is three layers of cardboard, the next inch on both sides is two layers of cardboard, and the inch at both ends is a single layer of cardboard. (I used binder clips to hold the strips while the glue dried.)

Cover in duct tape.

14. Glue and tape the handle to the back of the shield.

DONE! Raise the shield to the air in victory.

Stay tuned for a tutorial on making a matching sword.