Hospitality: Wine Charms

Here in Switzerland, when you are invited to someone’s home for dinner, you bring a gift; usually it’s chocolate, flowers, or a bottle of wine, though people also bring homemade things like jams, pickles, or – if you know the people well and know what their home decor is like – a handcrafted item.

I love crafts, and recently I started making wine charms again – the perfect gift to take, as those bottles of wine will be enjoyed.  For the presentation, I put together a few of my own cards – pulling graphics from Pinterest and combining – none of the elements are my own design, and if anyone recognises an element as their own work, please let me know so that I can give credit and a link where it is deserved!

To see my collection of ideas for wine charms on Pinterest, click here.  Enjoy!

White Wine CharmRed Wine CharmStain Wine Charm 1Stain Wine Charm 6Stain Wine Charm 5Stain Wine Charm 4Stain Wine Charm 3Stain Wine Charm 2


Plarn Bags, & How to Fold Plastic Bags

I don’t know about you, but I find that plastic bags seem to multiply like rabbits; until they are no longer made, I say that we need to take lemons and make lemonade.  I use bags to crochet “plarn” items, and reuse some as waste bin liners.  This image below is from Pinterest; the source was not attached, so if you know who took the original image, I’d like to credit them for the image below.

I’ve been using this technique for years, and it’s simple, neat, and convenient.  I store my bags in an old whiskey carton; I can then grab a few and toss into the bottom of our smaller bins occasionally.  For larger plastic bags, I have a storage bag; the size of the triangle tells me roughly which size bag I’ll get, so I can quickly find the right size (or colour, if for crafts) of the bag I grab.

The last step is not very clear; it’s simply that you tuck the last fold into the other folds, to keep it from unravelling.  If you find that a bag’s “leftover fold” is too short to hold, back up one fold, fold the top in the opposite direction to form a triangle, and then tuck it in.


Below are a few of the bags I’ve made; the white plastic yarn, or “plarn” is made from the flimsy veggie bags you get at grocery stores.  Cut into one continuous strip; once they’re crocheted, they’re sturdy, and you can toss the bag into the laundry when needed!  The black bag is made from the thickness of bags you get at a clothes shop.  I use that bag to tote reuseable grocery bags in, and I’ve added pockets by ironing (between baking papers) cut-outs of drink plastic wraps (below), and ironing them onto the sides of the bag (be sure to slip baking paper under areas of the label that you don’t want melted to the plarn bag, to create the pocket!).  If you’re interested in doing something like that, there are tons of tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest!!


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Home Craft Idea: Welcome Sign

For a homey craft, here’s an idea I’ve been percolating on for a week or two until I came up with the right solution for our own, personal look:  I took a white wooden welcome sign that I’d purchased on sale; it was originally decorated with Easter-themed wooden flowers and dangles of eggs and birds, so I removed all the extra bits except the five small loop head screws.  If you can’t find such a sign, you could make one with cardboard, hardening it with a couple layers of paper machè before painting it your base colour and attaching the screws.

The sign, I covered by paper machèing it with the inside of a few security envelopes (the kinds you get bank statements and bills in).  Most of the paper beads are also made from the same envelopes.  [If you want to find an addictive craft, paper beads will do it!]  I laid the sign upside down on the outside of the opened envelope and traced the letters, cutting out the paper before glueing it on.  The design can be seamlessly augmented with the security motif, as the sign is longer than the length of an opened envelope laid flat… my seam is overlapping onto the “e” after the “w”, and you can’t see it.

For the dangles, I made the security paper beads, and one bead is made from a magazine picture of the sun; I strung them onto nylon thread (“fishing line”), and used silver beads, cap-beads, crimp beads, and silver charms at the ends.  I then strung a length of black satin ribbon to hang the sign on our door, making sure the length allowed for viewing through the peephole.  I secured the ends of the ribbon to itself with crimp bead covers (also crimp beads, but a “C” shape to clamp around crimp beads).

[If you’re interested, I got all of the jewellery findings and beads online, at]


Kitchen Craft Idea: Tea Caddy & DIY Mod Podge

Until recently, our tea corner was looking fairly, shall we say, “lived-in”.  I’d wanted to neaten it up for awhile, but hadn’t found the right solution.  Then the idea came that, if I couldn’t find anything in the shops, it was time to make it myself.

If you’ve never done paper maché before, it can look a bit daunting; but it’s all about steps:  First you get an idea of what you need, and begin building up the “armature” – the skeleton of what you want as an end-product.  That can change as you go; you can add on in basically any phase you want.  The armature, in this case, was made of boxes and masking tape:  I took square and rectangular tissue boxes; the square, I cut in half across the middle, cutting top from bottom.  I slipped a piece of cardboard into the top’s hole to make a solid base. The rectangular boxes, I cut down to be a bit shorter – these are the side drawers.

I’ve learned to get crisp edges on box projects by pre-cutting the papers I use to the width, length or height of the piece to cover with Mod-Podge & paper.  I used a book I’ll never read, but find that paperback pages are a good thickness, and don’t get my fingers as black as working with newspaper does.  Afer they were dry, I painted them; the drawers are white, the caddy, black.

If you’re interested in getting the metal drawer pulls, I found them at Aliexpress – a great source for craft items, especially for those of us in Europe (which tends to have very little choice of craft items)!  If you type in “Plum handle metal antique vintage”, they’ll pop up.

Below are a few photos to inspire you; I didn’t photograph every stage; if you want to learn more about what you can do with paper maché, just click here to go to my Pinterest board for crafts using paper & cardboard.  I made the “Life is like a cup of tea” image from a few different images; the label was also made from a banner I found on Pinterest; these kinds of things can be found on my Vintage board.

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I lined each drawer with a different pattern of scrap material; you could use paper – it’s up to you, but I think the cloth will be more durable.  I painted it with a layer of homemade Mod Podge, so here is the recipe for that:

DIY Mod Podge

You’ll need:

  • Glass Jar or container
  • Any kind of generic household glue
  • Water
  • Acrylic gloss/glaze paint if you want a glossy finish

Into the container, pour 3 parts glue and 1-2 parts water, depending on how thick you want it.  Add the glaze if you want; depending on how much glue and water you use, you’ll need to adjust how much gloss you add, but I would guesstimate 1 part gloss.

If you’re not yet familiar with Mod Podge, it can be used in so many ways!  I go through quite a lot of it, so I made up a large batch every 6 weeks or so.  I use it both to glue and seal paper maché projects.


115 Ideas for Advent Calendar- and Stocking-Stuffers

Tischibo Advent Calender

Tischibo Advent Calendar

Christmas season is approaching, and here in Switzerland Advent calendars are traditional.  They can be made of anything from a cheap cardboard with fold-out “windows” and nothing but an image hidden, to miniature stockings stuffed to the gills for each day.  Our calendar is made of small cloth bags, similar to the ones pictured.

Sometimes it’s hard to find good ideas for gifts – small things for people who’ve got everything they really need, yet fun and practical.  Below is my personal list from which to draw on each year, and I hope it inspires you too!

Ideas for Advent Calendar Accoutrements:

  • Add a DAIM chocolate, or some kind of small treat, to the advent calendar’s daily contents.
  • Add a coupon for activities to be done together (see ideas below).


Stocking & Advent Calendar Stuffers

Coupons, Gift Cards

  1. Gift card
  2. Gift card for a home pedicure
  3. Coffee shop gift card
  4. Coupon to “watch a Christmas movie” attached to a bag of microwavable popcorn
  5. Time / activity coupons
  6. Coupon for a Christmas picnic
  7. Coupon to go bowling, play miniature golf, etc.
  8. Car wash gift card
  9. Couple time coupon
  10. An activity ticket book – activities to do together
  11. A lipstick kiss:  It costs nothing to give a lipstick kiss to the man you adore.  Find a nice piece of paper and add a cute message, too.
  12. Love letter
  13. Game night – his choice
  14. Coupon for a home-massage or pedicure

Crafts, DIY

  1. Embroidery thread for friendship bracelets
  2. Fancy scissors
  3. Scrapbook paper (rolled up in a paper towel tube)
  4. Scrapbooking ribbons, tags, embellishments, etc
  5. Package of decorative buttons (for crafting)
  6. Knitting needles or crochet hooks
  7. Crochet or knitting pattern book
  8. Beads and elastic
  9. Stickers
  10. Rubber craft stamps
  11. Drill bits
  12. Tool keyring
  13. A jar of essential oils
  14. Tape measure
  15. Nails & screws
  16. 3M hooks


  1. Disposable camera for silly photos
  2. Ear buds
  3. Book light
  4. Calculator
  5. USB stick or memory card
  6. ITunes gift card
  7. Cell phone cover
  8. Camera memory card
  9. Car charger for cell phone
  10. Mini torch (flashlight)


  1. Holiday baking
  2. Beef jerky
  3. Gourmet coffee
  4. Specialty tea
  5. Cookie cutters
  6. Mini bar sized alcohol
  7. Festive nuts
  8. Favorite candy bar
  9. Snack packages (cheese crackers, cookies, etc)
  10. Gum
  11. Hot chocolate packets

Just For Fun

  1. Small plastic toy figures
  2. Fun foam keychains
  3. Pocket Farkle
  4. “Pass the Pigs” game
  5. Dice with cards for individual dice games
  6. Playing cards with rule book for new games
  7. Party popper
  8. Mini Rubik’s cube
  9. Wooden puzzle
  10. Mistletoe – hint, hint
  11. Small bouncy ball
  12. Temporary tattoos
  13. Trading cards
  14. Glow sticks


  1. Kitchen magnet
  2. Earrings or jewelry
  3. Votive candles
  4. Keychain or keyring
  5. Beaded bookmark
  6. Wallet
  7. Small framed photo
  8. A Christmas ornament
  9. Seed packets
  10. Sport paraphernalia: golf tees, golf balls, fishing hooks, sport-related keychains or pens, etc.
  11. Mini flashlight
  12. Money in a creative way: origami, treasure hunt, coin hunt, etc.
  13. Slipper socks


  1. Pencil sharpener
  2. Erasers
  3. A bookmark
  4. Stamps for mailing cards
  5. Mini notepad
  6. Hand written note
  7. Joke or a seasonal quote
  8. Make holiday cards
  9. Stretchy book covers
  10. Diary or pocket calendar
  11. Diary with invisible ink pen
  12. Funky pens
  13. Gel pens and black paper
  14. Box of dollar store note cards
  15. Erasers
  16. Mini office set (tape, stapler, etc.)
  17. Sudoku book


  1. Barrettes / pony tail holders
  2. Comb
  3. New toothbrush
  4. Makeup
  5. Lip balm
  6. Perfume
  7. Nail polish in funky colors
  8. Manicure set
  9. Pedicure egg or pumice stone
  10. Scented hand lotion
  11. Scented hand sanitizer or soap
  12. Facial masque
  13. Fancy hand soaps
  14. Hair accessories
  15. Deodorant
  16. Toothbrush
  17. Dental floss
  18. Underwear
  19. New tie
  20. Tester sized perfume bottles

DIY Sugru – Mouldable Rubber

I stumbled across the term Sugru (aka Oogoo, or Formerol) less than a fortnight ago, and will never look back!  It’s being called the “21st century Duct Tape”, and can be used for just about every conceivable fix-it job around the house.

I ordered some online, but the packages are far too small to be economical for larger needs; so I found a recipe to make my own.  This recipe has variations all over cyberspace, but I’ll give you the result-recipe I tried.  I used it to make a drain cover for one of our showers that was custom-built and thus has an odd size of everything and standard drain covers don’t fit; I took a piece of non-metal screen material and sugru’d the edging.  With the extra bits I made new rubber feet for a heavy glass cheese tray (this is Switzerland, after all), and a few caps for sharp tools in the crafts room (as well as a cap for the opened silicon cartridge).  I think I’ve found my new favourite household elf!

This recipe will give you white Sugru; for coloured, just add a couple drops of food colouring or acrylic paint.  Below is a colour chart for food colouring mixtures to give you an idea of ratios.

DIY Sugrusilicone-sealant-in-a-caulk-gun

What you’ll need:

pure Silicon caulk (found in most DIY stores) (see image)

caulking gun (see image)

corn starch / corn flour (here in CH, I used Maizena)

a plastic cup and plastic spoon or stirring stick

a bit of water

Mix the silicon and corn starch 50/50 in the plastic cup, stirring thoroughly with the plastic spoon (word to the wise:  DON’T use your hands until it’s formed a pliable ball, or you’ll be picking silicon off your fingers for days – trust me on this!).  Once it’s formed a ball, dust your hands generously with corn starch and knead the ball a minute or two to cure it.  Then use it for whatever you need.   Add a drop or two of water if needed, to smooth the mixture.

It will take 24 hours to harden before using the repaired or created object, so set aside your project once it’s done to your satisfaction.

For ideas on how it can be used, just do a Google image or YouTube search for terms like “Sugru hacks”, “Sugru repairs”, or “Sugru craft ideas”.

Food Colour Chart

Craft: Tin Can Embossing

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Now that Christmas is passed, I have been able to take photographs and prepare the steps for you to follow for a great new craft!  I love recycling, and any craft that is practical; I don’t like to make things just to have them stand around.  Here is something you can do for next Christmas, or use this idea to create wind chimes, window decorations, front door decorations, gift decorations, or anywhere else you’d like a unique touch.

Upcycled Embossed Tin Cans


A light-weight tin can (Soda or beer)

Scissors (dedicate a pair to metal cutting)

A straight-edge knife (be careful not to cut yourself!)

Embossing tools (if you don’t have something like the blue “pen” pictured, you can use a simple ball point pen, pressing less hard or you may slice through the tin)

Baking paper for transferring a design, or a cardboard template (as shown)

A piece of foam rubber or a magazine to give yourself a “spongy” base on which to press designs into the metal.  (Pictured below is a piece of black craft foam.)

A strip of fine sandpaper to smooth any cut edges required.

A hole punch

Paint (otional):  Choose a paint that bonds well with smooth metal; the best I’ve found is the touch-up colors for cars; fingernail polish might work as well.  Acrylic paint does not stick well to the smooth surface.


[Always cut metal AWAY from your face!]

1)  Start with a well-rinsed & dried can

2)  Using a straight knife, cut along the position of the red-dotted line in the photograph above; that is, at the top and bottom of the body of the can.  Cut as far around as you can; you may finish it off with scissors if you wish.

3)  Using your scissors, trim rough edges and round off the corners to avoid injury through metal slivers.

4) to “unroll” the metal, rub it smoothly over the edge of a table a few times.

5) If you want, save the tab and trimmed  base of the can for other projects (as illustrated above).

I’ve seen it recommended that you first sand the patterned side of the can down to the tin layer; I’ve never bothered to do this, and it works fine; it’s sometimes a bit more difficult to see the tracing lines (depending on the drink can’s pattern), but not so difficult that I would add that step to the work!

DSCN2090 (1024x827)

For Christmas Decorations:

On the silver side, trace your stencil or pattern through the baking paper, or do a free-hand pattern.  You could also roll a pattern onto the tin using a cuttlebug stencil (I don’t have a machine; I just use the stencils with a kitchen rolling pin).

Once you have your design (not too tight), turn the tin over and trace on both sides of each line; this will give it depth and dimension.  Repeat front and back as often as you need to, to get a clear, neat design.

You can cut the shape out (and sand down the edges lightly) either before or after you begin tracing.

At this point you can paint the patterned side if you want.  Once it’s dry (fairly quickly with the car-paints), punch a hole in it and string or hook it however you want.

These make great gift-wrapping decorations, but you could also make wine charmers, napkin rings, anything you want!  The only limitation is your imagination in a Google Images search! 🙂

Tool - Doming Block

If you get bit by the embossing bug, you might want to invest in a doming block set; this will give you a wide range of possibilities, and it can be used in jewelry-making as well.