Sunday, December 28, 2008

Refrigerator clips

A great way to recycle those annoying ugly advertising magnets
Use them to hang to do lists, coupons or grocery lists in easy access place

Clothes pins
Advertising magnets or craft sheet magnet

Paint clothes pins (you can leave them whole or pull the hinge off by twisting wooden end. If you take them apart re assemble when dry)
Let paint dry
Place clothes pin along edge of magnet
Draw a line outlining pin
Cut magnet inside pencil line
Glue printed side of magnet onto flat side of pin
Hold in place with another pin until dry
Place on refrigerator or other metal surface

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

decoupage tins

Snow days have us spending a lot of time indoors. What a great time for crafts.
Every year I try to have my son make a gift for the extended family. It has to be something simple and fun since he has to do 5-10 of them depending on if we give one to each person or only one per household.
Last year we did a great pillow for each.
I don’t know about you, but I keep every box or tin that I come across. I never know when it will come in handy. With the snow this week, we haven’t been able to get out to the store, so these were made from things we have around the house.

Tins (various sizes and shapes. Could also use glass bottles)
Permanent pens (I tried it with water based and they run a bit – can be a nice look if you want. My son was horrified so we used sharpies)
Decoupage medium (You get it at craft stores. I happen to have a couple of jugs around but you can use white glue in a pinch, though it yellows with age.)
Stiff paint brush (don’t use a nice one, no mater how careful you are, some of the decoupage will dry on it making it stiff)

Clean and dry tins
Trace lid tops on paper
Draw images on paper inside tracing
Cut out inside pencil line
Erase any pencil left over
Paint back of paper with decoupage medium
Stick onto tin
Let dry
Cover top of image with decoupage medium
Can swirl paintbrush to make nice patterns in decoupage
Let dry
Add another layer of decoupage if needed.

Wash paintbrush between uses. Do not let decoupage dry on paintbrush.
Can neaten up decoupage medium with wet cloth before it dries.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Orange centerpiece

Beautiful practical decoration
Brings color into the house without any waste

Glass vase or bowl
5-6 Satsuma oranges – washed with stickers removed

Place oranges in vase or bowl
Display bright orange color, eat and refill

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ornament party

I got to participate in an ornament making party at my sister’s house this weekend.
It was a lot of fun with 3 – 2 ½ year olds and my 6 year old. We made dough ornaments only we decided to pre-color the dough with food dye to cut out a step for the young ones. The finished color isn’t as vibrant. The favorite tool was a garlic press to make “hair”.
The other ornament we made was a glass ball hand prints.
I made these with my son a few years ago and it is fun to see them year after year. Although his favorite color is red and there is some “bloody handprint” aspect to them, so I suggest a different color.

Glass ball hand print

Craft glass ball ornaments (I found mine at a craft store 4 balls for $2.50)
Tempura water based paint (we used a jell finger paint for the party)
Ribbons (4 12” pieces)

String ribbon through ornament metal wire and knot
Brush paint on child’s hand
Gently place hand onto ornament
Gently remove hand from ornament
Hand ornament to dry
Wash hand
If using small hands, can repeat with other hand on same ball
If doing multiple young children at once, have large pot of warm water nearby to rinse hands.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dinosaur terrarium

My son loved doing this “set up” after being assured that he could get his dinos back whenever he wanted them. Materials:
Used clear plastic takeout container (washed)
Moss and other plants (I gathered mine out of my yard)
Assorted small plastic dinosaurs (could also use fairies or other favorite items)

Place layer of dirt on bottom of container
Arrange moss and other plants
Arrange toys
Water so dirt is moist but not standing in water
Close top and enjoy

Will self water but may occasionally have to add more water.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Search for an organic Christmas tree

I desperately wanted an organic tree this year. I started my search on Thanksgiving. Normally we get the tree the weekend before Christmas and my husband chops it up and puts it in the yard waste on Christmas day. Last year that was way too short. I barely felt we had Christmas at all.

After a quick search online, I came up with two possibilities, each about 40 miles from us. I knew there was no way I could drag my family all over the state on a wild goose chase. So I emailed the stands.

The one in Arlington had a beautiful website that made me want to go out there for the other stuff. Plus they are certified organic. They also replied to my email with in an hour even though it was 9pm. So I really wanted to get my tree from them. They only had living trees. That sounded really appealing. We could have it inside and then plant it to enjoy all year around, the best way to reuse a disposable item. But my husband wisely inquired how we would get a potted tree 40 miles home in our little wagon. I imagined strapping it to the rooftop upright driving along I-5 and emailed the other place.

They took a day to respond (must not have a computer out in the u-cut field). They clearly state that they were not certified, but they did not spray their trees. Good enough.

We headed out Sunday afternoon. It was a nice drive from Seattle to Fall City. We peered through the fog. The signage wasn’t clear, but the family who ran the stand was very friendly. They handed us a sharp saw and a mat to keep the mud off our knees, very thoughtful. I went straight to the discount trees. I excitedly noted that many were $20 or under, one with a huge ball of bird droppings was free. But I didn’t find the kind I like. My husband reminded me that I only like the nobles and pointed to where he thought he saw some. After almost 20 years together, sometime he does know me better than I do.

The regular trees price are marked with a colored tag, yellow - $30, red - $40 or blue - $60. The nobles were all blue tags. I went stomping through the farm wanting to look at each one and get the best one. My six year old son, prompted by his dad, stopped at every tenth tree and declared it perfect. But I kept dragging them through the mud in the search of the perfect one. And then I found it. It looked like a noble but it had a red tag. It was a little crooked, especially the top. But I knew it was too tall for our ceilings so I figured we would chop that off anyway. So as I wandered just a little further, my husband started sawing. So knew I had to come back. We were committed.

I got back to the tree just as my son was screaming for me to hold it up. His dad was almost through and it had started to lean over. So I grabbed it. It was heavier than I thought. Standing next to it, it must have been 9’ tall. Oops way to big. Last year we got a 5’er and it was great. I guess it’s true they look smaller in the forest.
While Dad paid and loaded the tree inside the car, one of the owners proudly showed my son a deer skeleton she had found in the field. She hypothesized that it could have been hit by a car and dragged itself into the field to die.

We stopped at a playground on the way back to the freeway.
When we got back into the car it was swarming with little flies. “Guess the tree really was organic”, Dad smirked. As we were merging onto the freeway, my son, stuffed between the branches, started to scream. My heart stopped. Dad was trying to drive and he calmly asked “what’s the matter?” It sounded like something was stinging him. He screamed “spider!” I looked back and a single baby spider, barely the size of a gnat hung from the ceiling inches from his face. I asked Dad to open the window and baby spider got to fly. Problem solved. Nice to know the tree is organic.

Dough ornaments

To go along with the new tree, my son and I made dough ornaments. It was a first time for me. So I decided to make play dough and bake it a very long time.

1 cup salt
2 cups flour
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Parchment paper (keeps bottoms from burning)
Cookie sheets
Paint – water based is fine
Ornament hooks

Place dry ingredients in a bowl
Add water and oil
Stir until blended
Knead until smooth
Form ornaments
Place on parchment paper on cookie sheet
Bake at 250 degrees until hard (1-2 hours depending on thickness)
Let cool
Paint or otherwise decorate
Tie with ribbon or glue ornament hooks if desired (I made candy canes so they don’t need hooks)
Let dry
Hang on tree

Will keep in dry place year after year

Friday, November 28, 2008

A-symmetrical Shibori scarf

A great way to use up that left over strip of fabric. Whenever I make a garment, I am left with a long strip of fabric. With this scarf I left the irregularity as part of the charm of the scarf. It can be an elegant, low-active-time, artistic gift.

Strip of loose woven wool (about 60” or longer, can use full width of fabric – will shrink dramatically)
18-24 buttons – assorted sizes
Thread – strong coat weight
Washing machine

Wrap buttons in wool spacing variously or in straight line at about 3” intervals
Wrap thread around shank 3 times, pull tight and knot.
Wash whole thing 2-3 times in hot water
Dry high heat
Clip threads and remove buttons
Trim edges of fabric
No need to finish edges, wool threads knit together in hot water and won’t unravel

Dry clean only. Water will remove shaping.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reuse popsicles

My son loves to open a juice box, take one sip and declare himself full, never to touch another sip. It drives me insane. What am I supposed to do with the remaining 7.75 oz.? I often stare enviously at his friends who finish the whole box.
I came up with this way to get him to eat the leftovers…

Organic frozen juice cups

Opened juice box
2 small paper cups (we had some left over from his 3rd birthday party)
2 popsicle sticks (I have been methodically saving them all summer to mark the seeds in the garden.)
2 squares plastic wrap or waxed paper
2 rubber bands
4 pieces tape

Squeeze remaining juice into cups
Cover top of cup with plastic wrap or waxed paper
Secure with rubber band
Poke small hole in middle
Place stick through hole
Touch to bottom then raise ½ inch and secure with tape
Place upright in freezer over night

To remove from cup:
Remove plastic wrap, band and tape
Run lower outside of cup under running water
Do not get water inside cup
Gently giggle stick until whole thing pops out
May microwave up to 20 seconds if rock hard

Reuse all materials:
I keep open juice boxes in refrigerator and refill cups as they get eaten.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tank top bag

A great way to give new life to old clothes or keep that adorable out grown outfit

Tank top (woven or stiffer fabric works best)
6” x 20” piece of stiff canvas
Sewing machine
2 – 8” to 10” sticks or pieces of bamboo (my neighbors grow bamboo along our property line. I just clip any sticking under the fence or out of the foundation…)

Cut tank at shoulder seam
Fold over edges to leave 1” loop and stitch down
Cut base of tank at each side seam 2 ½” horizontally and 3” vertically
Using ½” seam allowance, sew together hem of tank
Open up corners and sew horizontal cut to vertical cut
Be sure to backstitch for strength
Turn right side out
Place canvas over inside bottom and stitch down to reinforce
Place sticks in each loop for handles

Now you are ready to carry or embellish

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fresh Sprouts

My son will only eat veggies he has picked from the garden. He won’t even eat veggies from the farmer’s market. I think he really enjoys watching his food grow and then harvesting it.
So as the winter comes closer and the garden is sparse, I worry. I wonder how I will get him through the winter.
Then I bought him some new underwear. Underwear is something I have to buy new, but only after he held up his favorite pair and counted “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 … holes”. Then I realized it had been 2 years since I last got him new underwear. They must have grown with him.
The underwear came in this beautiful plastic clamshell.

Voila, inspiration for growing winter vegetables.

2-3 tsp sprouting seeds – I used red clover because I had 5 lbs. leftover from last winter’s cover crop.
1 clear plastic clamshell
Fine mesh sieve – I used one made for tea leaves.
Paper towel

Place seeds in fine mesh sieve
Rinse until water runs clear
Cover bottom of clamshell with paper towel
Place seeds in shell
Be sure paper towel is damp but not soaked
Close clamshell
Place on window sill
If you have nice sills (I don’t) place a towel or plate under to protect
Wait 3-10 days to sprout
Enjoy fresh homegrown sprouts
Note: to have fresh sprouts all the time, wait a week and plant new clamshell. Then you can alternate and have a set growing while you are eating and then replant that one…

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Elementary school Holiday Bazaar

My son’s school is having a holiday bazaar. They will be selling donated stuff from 50 cents to $2. I think the goal is to enable the kids to buy gifts for all their family using their own allowance or money they earned themselves. The school gets the proceeds and it’s a win-win situation.
Ever since the announcement came home, I have been racking my brain to think of something simple yet fun to make. Something I wouldn’t mind getting as a present…
I live in a precipitous area. When it rains, I put my scarf over my head. My neck gets wet.
I came up with these fleece hooded scarves. They are so much fun to make. They take very little sewing. They use about ½ yard of 60” width fabric.

½ yard double sided fleece
Scissors (rotary blade and mat if you have one)
Sewing machine
Large paper and ruler (optional – can draw directly on fabric) I used paper I got in a shipping package. You know the stuff they use instead of the awful peanuts.
Nice oversized hood with single seam down the middle

Fold hood in half
Straighten line from mid-head to back neck
Draw line perpendicular to that line
Draw another line 6” above that line ending at front hood
6” parallel lines mark scarf
Now have rough shape for ½ of hooded scarf.
Fold fleece along grain line (selvage to selvage)
Place right angle of paper pattern on edge.
Cut the scarf to full width of the fabric.
Be sure not to cut center back neck fold.
Cut with a rotary blade and cutting mat if you have one, otherwise cut as carefully as possible with scissors. Try to get a smooth edge.
With sewing machine on zigzag mode, overlap center hood seam about ¼” and sew from center back neck to front of hood. Be sure to back stitch to secure.
Carefully clip all threads, excess seam allowance and selvages.

If you don’t want to do all the pattern work, for $5 plus $3 shipping I will make/send you a copy of my pattern.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Story telling

My son loved story day at his preschool. Where they got to write stories and then the teacher would read them to the whole class. He misses it a lot. So I fixed up this book for him to write his own stories in.
I used red paper for his. Red is his favorite color.

1 – 8 ½” x 11 piece of paper
Exacto blade
Glue, pens, stickers…

Fold paper in half lengthwise
Fold in half widthwise
Then fold in quarters widthwise
Back fold creases.
Slice center along crease line from fold to fold
Pop middle up and fold into 4 page book.

Have fun helping or watching child decorate book