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 thread”), 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 Aliexpress.com.]

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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.

 

Life Hack: Onion & Garlic Odours

When chopping onions and garlic, your skin can easily pick up their aroma; sometimes it’s not a bad thing, but it can be overwhelming, or even unwanted when you’ve moved on to preparing dessert!

To get rid of the odour without paying money for those little steel “soaps” marketed for the purpose, try the following trick:  Wash or rinse your hands, then rub them along your kitchen sink’s stainless steel faucet (water tap); rinse again, and smell your hands (before and after).  You’ll notice a huge difference!  If a residual odour remains, rub them once more and rinse.  It works every time, and requires no special soap or gadget.

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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

Electronics

  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)

Foods

  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

Practical

  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

Stationery

  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

Toiletries

  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

DIY Dry Shampoo

Let’s face it:  All of us face those days when we simply don’t have time to wash our hair and get it dried in time to head out the door.  A shower is one thing, but long, thick hair?  That takes a bit longer.  Or maybe your hair just needs a bit of a freshener-upper; washing the hair too often strips it of its natural oils, and can lead to dry, dull hair.  The water where we live is fairly mineral-rich; my skin and hair are both much drier since moving here, so I try to wash my hair as infrequently as possible.  On more than one occasion, I’ve been glad for the help of a dry shampoo.  It removes excess oils from the hair while avoiding the harsh stripping that hot, soapy water can cause.  Instead of buying an expensive aerosol product that damages the environment in more ways than one, make a dry shampoo yourself with two simple ingredients!

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

DRY SHAMPOO

empty baby powder or spice container, or simply a glass jar

1 C. ground oatmeal flour (you can use cornstarch, or cocoa powder for dark hair, etc.) *
1 C. baking soda
Mix the ingredients together in a bowl thoroughly and then transfer to a clean, empty container.

When you need to skip a wash, just sprinkle the dry shampoo at your roots (either through the spice container’s lid, or apply with a large makeup brush if you have it in an open-top container); rub it out, as if you would rub your scalp to get beach sand out of your hair.  Brush your hair to get the remaining “dust” out, and then style your hair as you normally would.

You can mix any amount together, even parts, to suit your needs.   You could also add a dash of cinnamon or a drop of essential oil for a pleasant aroma, but neither are necessary.

*I would NOT recommend wheat flour as a substitute, as it tends to cake; you’d probably have a lot of hassle getting it all out!