Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve: Decorating for the Environment and for Fun

Ahh, the new year. Out with old, in with the new....wait, hold up just one minute!  You know me better than that, don't you?  If you're hosting a party this New Year's Eve here are a few ideas for greening up the festivities, and I guarantee you'll find an idea or two where the old is just as good as new.

I'm not sure where the tradition of little flecks of debris falling from the sky came from but if you're planning on tossing confetti at the stroke of midnight, consider these options:

1.  Grab the neighborhood kids, several hole punches and some old magazines and let them make your confetti for you.  It's free, it's upcycled and it can be swept up and tossed right into the recycle bin the next morning.
2.  If you're opposed to child labor, are short on time and absolutely must have confetti look for the store bought kind that you can recycle.  No plastic and no tissue paper styles here.
3.  You could also consider dropping balloons when the clock strikes twelve.  Latex balloons are certainly easier to clean up and, once popped, they can be tossed right into the composter.

And what's a party without party blowers??  You can use this tutorial from Martha Stewart but change it up a bit to incorporate reclaimed papers; think magazine paper, leftover paper from scrapbooking projects or maybe some heavier weight leftover wrapping paper.

No party is complete without the party hat.  You can use the pattern for this hat and get creative with your decorations.  No need to make your hat look like the picture, color outside the lines and use whatever upcycled embellishments you can get your hands on. 

However you choose to celebrate, have fun and stay safe.  We'll see you right back here next year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Neighborly Upcycled New Year

Have you dug yourself out from under all the Christmas decorations and the discarded wrapping paper, boxes and bows yet?  Thankfully, I have and am now onto upcycling for the New Year. And this year, I'll start with my neighbor!

I'm not sure when it started but my neighbor and I are both single women who enjoy cooking (when we have the time) but hate the waste of cooking a larger meal for one.  So we've gotten into the habit of creating some fabulous dishes and sharing with one another quite frequently.  Well, if you haven't heard I will be relocating in January and this fun little tradition that we've started will be no more.  So, I've spent the last couple of weeks making some fabulous soups, stews and chillies in the crockpot and started freezing them (in upcycled pasta sauce jars, of course).  On New Years Day I'll deliver a basketful of meals so she has a few to keep her going until she breaks in a new neighbor. What do you think?

Not only is the container upcycled, but so is the recipe card.    Here's how I made it:

1:  Cut a small piece of thin cardboard to size.  I used the cardboard that is often tucked inside of a man's folded dress shirt so it's thick but still flexible.
2:  Use a little Mod Podge to adhere some leftover tissue paper from the holidays.
3:  Disassemble a holiday card and glue a nice blank section to the tissue paper-covered cardboard.
4:  Now just write your recipe on the card and attach it to your jar.

*** Just a word of caution if you decide to make these at home - Be very careful to use a thicker glass jar and leave plenty of room for your creations to expand.  I lost two jars of chili before I finally got it right.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Put a Tag on It

Growing up, I remember early in the evening on Christmas Eve my mom and dad would barricade themselves in the bedroom with a mountain of packages, piles of wrapping paper, too much scotch tape and at oodles of self stick gift tags.  I'm not quite sure if it's because they where last minute shoppers or if they intentionally tucked gifts away until the big night just to cause a scene.  But it DID cause a scene with my brother, sister and I sitting outside the door trying to imagine what was happening on the other side.

The next morning you could always tell when they had run out of gift tags (or simply forgotten to buy them all together) because some of the gifts would be marked with a folded square of matching wrapping paper.  Well tonight's the night!  Just in case you've forgotten to pick up your gift tags here are few handmade alternatives.

Beverage cans can make some really beautiful gift tags.  They are easy to cut and you can write easily on them with a sharpie.

Here's a really simple gift tag that you can make using a clothing tag and a magazine page. Just use a glue stick to adhere your clothing tag to the page and then trim the magazine to the same size as the clothing tag.

And if you want to get a little more crafty with your clothing tags you can use a little gesso (basically an artists paint primer) to cover the writing on the tag, paint them and layer a couple on top of one another.  Add glitter and other embellishments to really personalize your gifts.

Whatever the holiday you are celebrating, I wish it filled with love and family.  Thanks for following along this year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just Giving Cash?

As a kid, I loved getting cash!  As an adult, I hate giving it.  I take a great amount of pride in finding the perfect gift, especially when I can put my own sarcastic twist on it.  But this year mom really wants an industrial sewing machine and she'll be buying used.  So I can't exactly walk into a store and buy a particular brand that she wants or even buy a gift card.  As mush as I dislike sewing, I wouldn't even attempt to find the right used machine either!  So what's a girl to do?  Cash it is, but here is my sarcastic spin:

I know it looks like a jumbled up mess but they really are pretty when looked at one by one.  Each petal is wrapped with floral wire, bundled together with other petals and then attached to a stem.  I've gathered the stems and wrapped them with several strips of T-shirt and used an old spool to label the gift.  I can't wait to see how many bills she tears trying to get the wire off! Mwahahaha!

Oh, and in case you're wondering...I'm not worried about ruining the surprise because mom and computers just don't mix! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up for the Last Minute Shopper

Are you a last Minute Shopper?  Hitting the grocery store gift card section on Christmas Eve?  Here's a way to spruce it up a bit and personalize your gift giving experience.  The best news is that it will cost you nothing to show the thought that you put into your gift.

First grab a magazine that you've already read and find a picture that reflects your gift recipients style, a favorite hobby, etc.  Here's what you'll need:

You'll need to cut four pieces from your magazine; two from the cover or another thick page within the magazine and two more cut from your specially selected page.  For a standard size gift card you'll want to cut your pieces 3" tall and 4 1/4" wide (for other sizes add 1" to the height and width of the gift card).  You'll also need a sewing machine for this one.

Take one of the cover pieces and place it under one of the picture pieces and fold the top edges back  about a 1/4".  Then sew a simple straight stitch across the fold, this will form the clean finished top edge of your gift card holder:

Repeat for the remaining two pieces.  Then place the two joined pieces together with the two cover pieces facing each other and sew them together using the fancy stitch of your choice.  Remember only to sew along the three remaining raw edges:

And viola, now you have a one-of-a-kind gift card holder that you can slip into the branches of the tree, add to existing gift or just give it as is.

Well, that wraps up the Weekend Wrap up for the year.  I hope you enjoyed it and took away an idea or two for trimming the waste from your holiday wrapping.  I'm pleased to say that I didn't purchase a single roll of wrapping paper, bag of bows or box of gift tags this year.  They were all hand made with my gift recipients (and the environment) in mind!

Whatever the holiday you celebrate, may it be all that you dreamed!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up: For the Football Lover

This is a fun way to wrap up a gift for the sports nut (specifically a football fan) in your life and it could cost you exactly $0.00 to pull it off.  The three "main ingredients" are:

1.  The sports section of the newspaper
2.  The drawstring from an old pair of sweat pants
3.  And a soda can (if you can find it, a Dr. Pepper NFL can)

You'll also need a pair of scissors, a sharpie, scotch tape, a hole punch, and a metal file.

 Take the newspaper and wrap your gift just as you would with expensive wrapping paper.

You'll need a gift tag, so grab a soda can that is similar in color to a football.  I happened to have a couple of limited edition Dr. Pepper cans that have the image of football laces down the side. Trace out a football shape and cut and file the shape.  If you need a more detailed tutorial on effectively cutting a soda can, check out my YouTube tutorial.

Once you've filed the rough edges of your football shaped gift tag, use a standard size hole punch to make a hole at one end.  Use your sharpie to mark the back (silver) side of the aluminum with the name of your gift recipient.  Now you can wrap the package with the drawstring, threading both ends through the hole in the gift tag. Tie the two strings together to form a knot on top of the tag.  All set for giving!

Friday, December 9, 2011

DIY Soda Bottle Snowflake Ornaments

This is a fun project for you AND the kids and it's a great way to reuse a couple of items that would have otherwise ended up in the trash or recycle bin.  Here's what we're going for:

And here's my latest YouTube video to show you how to do it.

You can cut the plastic soda bottles into any shape your heart desires but if you're set on the snowflakes, you can pick them up in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up for the Traveler in your Life

If you have someone in your life who loves to travel, you can't resist this gift wrap idea made from an old map, t-shirt and a soda can!

Here's what you'll need; an old map, aluminum from a soda can, scissors, a hole punch, a marker, crazy glue and strips cut from an old t-shirt

Once you've wrapped your gift in an old map, tie a curled piece of the t-shirt around the box.  Instructions for prepping the t-shirt strips can be found on my YouTube channel and you can always pick them up in my Etsy shop! Back to it, here's where we left off before the shameless plug:

Now for the name tag.  I've used an old soda can to fashion a gift tag that resembles a luggage tag.  Cut two rectangular shapes of the same size.  On one of them, draw a 1/4" margin on all four sides of the back side of the can. 

Then fold the can over and pinch in the center as shown below, make and X shaped cut where you pinched it.  This will give you the room you need to insert your scissors and cut out the center of the "frame."

Once you've cut your frame apply a thin layer of super glue (I love this super glue that you apply with a brush) and adhere it to the other rectangular piece of aluminum, trim the edges and punch a whole.

Now simply use a sharpie to name your recipient and tie it to the package.  You can even add a really big loopy bow made from extra strips of t-shirt that would resemble the shoelace bows that people make to identify their luggage among the sea of bags on the carousel.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Upcycled Tabletop Christmas Tree

Need a few tabletop decorations for the holidays...or something to keep the kids busy (with a little adult help)?  This is a pretty inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to accomplish both of those things. The only thing I needed to purchase was a dowel.

Here's what you'll need to assemble this tabletop tree

1.  Magazine pages in Christmas colors or black and white or anything that works for you.  I was gifted a Paula Deen Christmas edition magazine that had several pages that looked like wrapping paper so I used those along with a couple of sheets that had pictures of Christmas trees
2.  A drill with a 1/4" drill bit
3.  A 1/4" dowel, cut to the height you'd like your tree (I bought mine pre-cut)
4.  A larger plastic lid, I'm using one from a 20 pound jug of cat litter.
5.  And a few basics; scissors, hole punch and a glue gun

To get started, you'll need to assemble the base.  To make sure that your drill doesn't slip off center in the next step, use a hammer and nail to punch a starter hole in your plastic lid.  Now, use that hole as a guide to drill your hole.

Insert your dowel into the lid, set it on a flat surface and make sure your lid and the dowel all touch the surface.  Now add a bunch of hot glue all around the dowel, on the under side of the lid, to keep it in place.  Quickly place the base back on a flat surface and be sure the dowel is straight before the glue dries. 

Now you can start building your tree.  Cut your magazines pages along the longest length of the page into 2" strips, bring the two ends of one strip together and punch a hole.

Slide it - gently, it will be a snug fit - onto the dowel to the point were the "bough" just touches your work surface.

Continue to add strips to the dowel and space them out until you have the fullness that appeals to you and then add a bead of glue around the dowel both on top of and beneath the boughs

Now start on the second row.  You'll want to snip off about 3/4" from both ends of the strips that you use in this row, so bring the ends together as you did above and snip at 3/4".  Then punch a hole and slide it on to the dowel just the place where the bough touches the first row.

You'll add another layer that is the same length as the second row.  Then for rows 4-5 you'll snip about 1 1/4" off the ends and for the sixth row, slightly more that an inch and a half.  Of course, you can adjust these as you like.  Once you get to the top of the dowel, you can finish the top off with a holiday decoration or a vintage wooden button as I did below.

Make a few in different sizes and deck those halls!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Weekend Wrapup that Includes a Little Extra Gift

I'm really getting a lot of use from packing material this holiday season and we'll utilize more of it today along with a few other things from around the house to make this beautifully wrapped holiday gift!

You'll need packing paper, an old T-shirt, an aluminum can, a hole punch, an alligator style hair clip (the only thing you'll need to buy) and something to cut your can with.

There are a few handmade components to this gift wrap, so first we'll make a gift tag out of a beverage can.  After you've cut and cleaned your can you can either use your favorite die cut machine to cut the gift tag of your choice or cut one out with a pair scissors.  Then just use a hole punch make a hole near the top of your tag and add a tiny scrap of t-shirt ribbon.  You can use a sharpie to mark the back side of your gift tag.

Once you've wrapped your gift, you'll need to cut a few strips of your t-shirt to make a ribbon long enough to tie around your gift.  If you need a little help making the ribbon, I put together a YouTube video to show you how or you can just pick some up in my Etsy shop.   Okay, wrap your ribbon around the gift.

Now for the final touch, the reusable embellishment - the little extra gift.  Cut another strip of t-shirt that's about 2" wide and a circle that is about 2" in diameter (you can adjust this to other sizes depending on the size of your gift).  Follow the instructions in this tutorial that I found online to make a fabric rosette out of your t-shirt material:

Use a little hot glue to attach an alligator clip to the back side of the rosette.  You'll want to pinch your alligator clip open while you press it into place, otherwise you'll end up glueing the whole thing shut...learn from MY experiences people!

Tie the gift tag to your gift and then clip on to the t-shirt rosette.

Once your gift recipient has unwrapped their gift they still have a beautiful rosette that they can use in the their hair clipped to a headband, clipped to a handbag or even on a jacket lapel. And yes, you can just pick up these fabric flowers in my Etsy shop as well.

Happy Wrapping!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up with a Little Comic Relief

Have an odd shaped package to wrap?  Here's a fun little solution that won't cost a cent.

Gather up a few supplies; the comics section of the newspaper, a pair of scissors and a couple old t-shirts

Take one of your t-shirts and fold it in half lengthwise twice.  Cut 1/2" strips along the bottom and open up the strips so that you're left with a loops of tshirt material.

Take each loop and pull it through your hand to make the edges curl inward.  Then you you can cut that to the lengths that you need for wrapping.  Need a visual?  Check out my video tutorial here.

Now just take a handful of your curled up strips and wrap them around the neck of your package.  Don't make it a habit of keeping old t-shirts laying around?  That's okay, you can get them from my Etsy shop.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Upcycled Napkin Rings for the Holiday Table

I have found a great many uses for those pesky non-recyclable little plastic rings that are left behind when you open a plastic lid for the first time (like around your water/soda bottle).  For my holiday table, I'll be using them to make napkin rings and I'm going to show you how you can to.

The basic supplies that you'll need - a bunch of plastic rings, a glue gun and a coordinating fabric that will match your table setting.  I'll be using my mom's quilting scraps in just a plain color since my dishes and napkins have plenty of pattern all on their own.  When selecting your rings, be sure to check that they fit nicely on your napkins.  I'm using rings from gallon milk jugs as they are a bit bigger than those from a water bottle.

You'll need some embellishments for your napkin rings.  If you want to make it a quick day of crafting you can simply use some leftover buttons or you can make your own embellishments.  I use a method very similar to this video tutorial to make rosettes out of scrap material.  So, to get started, cut a strip of your fabric that is about 3/4" wide and about twelve inches long.  You may need to adjust the length depending on the circumference of your ring and how closely you wrap your fabric around the ring.  Now add a dab of glue to the end of the fabric and attach it to the inside of the ring.

Wrap the fabric 'round and 'round your ring.  When the ring is completely covered used another dab of glue to hold down the other end of the fabric.  Then trim all the little threads from your napkin ring.  Now you're ready to attach your embellishment (with one last dab of glue).

 And viola!  Now you have a beautiful addition to your holiday (or anytime) table.

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