Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stationary Basket

Stationary baskets make such nice gifts!  I've given them as thank you gifts, hostess gifts and birthday gifts.  They're quite fun to make!


To make this particular container you will need:

Metal container.  I used an oval shape.
Fake flower of some sort
Rhinestone for the center
Hot Glue Gun and extra glue sticks

You will start by pulling one of the blossoms off from the stem.  Flip it upside down and remove the back.



Pull the front off and you will be left with multiple layers.

Start gluing each layer on to your bucket with the hot glue.  Only glue one layer at a time.

Keep gluing, stacking each layer on top of the rest.  When you run out of layers, glue on your rhinestone.


Easy, peazy!  You are done!!

The fun part is finding things to fill the bucket with.

I had a lot of fun making different cards out of scraps of paper and some embellishments I had laying around.  I made two sizes - the traditional sized card that fits an A-2 envelope and smaller cards that fit the florist envelopes.  The smaller cards are perfect to put on gifts.  They're much classier than the scrap of wrapping paper with "to" and "from" hastily scrawled on the back!  I also added a stack of tags and some matching ribbon to attach them to gift bags.  Finally, a pretty pen is added.

Variety of cards. . . .

Teeny cards.  I put them in a cello bag with their envelopes.

Tags and ribbon.  This is in a plastic pillow box I happened to have laying around but they are easy to make.  I will post a tutorial soon on these!

Pen.  Check your craft stores or the dollar section of Target.
Into the bucket. . . .
. . . and ready for gift giving!



If I do it again:

1.  No more curling ribbon.  I made seven of these and my thumb was cramped when I was done!
2.  This could be filled with store bought cards or any sort of stationary product.  It would also be fun filled with a note pad, box of crayons and stickers for a neat gift for a child.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wrapping with Cello and Fun with Curling Ribbon

If I had a nickle for every time someone asked me how to wrap with cellophane, I'd have ten cents.  Since I'm sure this amounts to half my readership,  I will go ahead and post an entry about it!

I love cello!  Cello is that crinkly, clear plastic that you see wrapping those high end gift baskets.  It dresses up every gift and is inexpensive to boot!  I like to buy my rolls of cello at the dollar store and on clearance after the holidays but you can grab it in the gift wrap section of your stores if you need it quick.

My latest gift basket wrapped in cello:


Quite easy and fairly inexpensive.

You will need a roll of cello and some twist ties.  The twist ties will make this job SO much easier so make sure to grab them.  Also grab a pair of scissors and something to stabilize the items in your basket.  I use tissue paper.






I crumple up a piece of tissue paper or two and add it to the bottom of my basket.  You can use re-positional glue dots to hold some of the items in place if you wish.  I don't.


Cut a square of cello about four to five times as wide as your widest point of the basket.  Put your basket in the middle.


Draw up the four corners working in opposites.  For example, draw up corner one and three together and then add corner two and four.

This photo is a great example of why I need a professional photographer!  Using both hands (and an additional pair or two if you have them) smooth up the rest of the cello and gather any parts that gap.  Put your twist tie on.

Now decorate!  I usually wrap a piece of ribbon around the twist tie and then glue or wire on a bow, a flower or another piece of decorative embellishment.  For this basket I made an embellishment out of curling ribbon. 

You can buy curling ribbon in the gift wrap section of your store.  Make sure it says that it's "curling ribbon".  I used four colors.

Decide how full you want your bow to be.  I cut off two pieces of each color for a total of eight pieces.

Stack your pieces and eyeball the half way point.  It doesn't have to be even since you are curling these!  Tie a piece of ribbon at the half way point.

Fold the curling parts of the ribbon together (my original eight pieces) and staple.


Now curl the pieces!  You open a pair of scissors and use your thumb to hold the ribbon to the blade.  Pull and your ribbon will curl.  BE CAREFUL!
Remember that the faster you pull your ribbon through, the tighter your curl will be.  If you go slower, your curl will be looser.  You can re-curl your ribbon up to three times without it falling apart (usually).  Also try to curl in the direction that the curl was on the roll.  This means that you will put the "wrong" side of the ribbon down on the blade so that the natural curl of the ribbon is over the blade, not away from the blade.

Keep curling each piece of ribbon.

When you are done,  take the two ends of the ribbon you tied on the middle and wrap it around the twist tied part of your basket.  This will effectively cover up the twist tie.  I wrap it around and then tie it back in the front so that each piece of ribbon goes completely around the tie, not just half way.  Either snip those ends or curl them, too.

Example of a basket with tight curls:

And with loose curls mixed in:

Either way it looks nice!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Post About Deodorant

When I told my husband that I was going to blog about my deodorant, he gave me a weird look and said "whatever, Jen".  For those of you who know my husband, you know that his response doesn't really mean "whatever".  "Whatever" generally means "what the hell are you thinking?" in Brian speak.

So, in an effort to put his mind at ease (if he ever decides to read my blog) I will give this disclaimer.  He is more than happy to purchase antiperspirant for me.  I just don't want it anymore!

I now make my own deodorant.  I have been wanting to switch to something natural for some time because I know that they're suggesting that the aluminum in regular antiperspirant may be linked to breast cancer.  Who wants that?

I've tried lots of all natural products in the past and none have worked.  I'm someone that has four different brands of antiperspirant in my bathroom and I would rotate every other day the type I was using.  If I didn't do this, my body would get used to a brand and I would have a deodorant failure.  This was such a common occurrence for me that I carried a stick of antiperspirant in the glove compartment of my car.

My other issue is my sense of smell.  It's very acute.  I use it as a source of good to catch evildoers who don't brush their teeth before bed and who sneak cookies before dinnertime.  I can smell a curling iron that has been left on accidentally and I know exactly when the luncheon meat in the fridge needs to be tossed.  There's no fooling my nose.  I could usually tell the second my antiperspirant decided to quit working. 

I found this recipe online and read rave reviews of it.  The only complaints I read was that it is a little harsh on the skin.  Since I have been known to wipe my underarms with Listerine to get rid of smell, this did not worry me.

Here's the recipe.


1/2 c baking soda
1/2 c cornstarch
2T coconut oil
15 drops essential oils

You will combine your baking soda and cornstarch.  Add your essential oils.  I used 10 drops of tea tree oil and a few drops of ylang ylang and myhrr.  Melt the coconut oil and drizzle into the mixture while beating.  Put into a container.

I keep it in a cheap sugar bowl on my counter and just scoop a pea sized amount out and rub it on to my underarms every morning.  I know that some people put it in an empty deodorant bottle but my bathroom tends to be too warm and the deodorant is soft in heat. 

The neat thing about this is that it's not an antiperspirant.  Antiperspirants work by clogging your sweat glands.  This stuff lets you sweat.  It just doesn't stink.  Really.  And, believe it or not, I don't sweat as much as I did with my antiperspirant.  I'm sure there's a reason for this but I really don't care why.  I'm just thrilled it happened.

The only issues I had with it is that, for the first week of use, it stung a tiny bit when I applied it.  I've been antiperspirant free for over six weeks and my underarms look better than they did before.  It doesn't irritate my pits and I don't stink!  Yeah!



If I do it again:


1.  I'm adding Jasmine oils next time just because it's my favorite scent.  I will still add the tea tree oil since it has antibacterial properties.  The Coconut oil is also an essential part of the recipe. . . it, too, has antibacterial properties.  I will probably leave out the Ylang-Ylang oils since I decided I don't particularly like the scent.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Repurposed Hangers = Chip Clips

This will be a quick post today.  It's more of a tip vs. a project but it's a good one, I promise!

Take this:


And make this:

The clip, not the chips.

This is much cheaper than the chip clips you can buy at the store and if you lose one, no big deal.  Just cut the ends off the hanger with a regular saw (I used elbow grease, not electricity) and sand the rough edges down.  It literally took less than three minutes to make two.  Recycle the middle part because I haven't figured out what to do with that yet and you are finished!  This grabs nice and tight so we use them on the carrot bags in the fridge, the bagel bags and our chip bags.  Loads of uses.

So the next time you go to buy clothes and they ask you if you want to keep the hangar, say yes!



If I do it again:

Just a tip. . . do sand the rough cut edges a little.  It doesn't take much sanding to smooth it and plastic can be sharp if you don't!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Porcelain Look Flowers

I saw a few really beautiful fresh flower displays at the grocery store and they used simple white vases.  It's a great idea. . . the white is simple and brings out the beauty of the flowers.  It also compliments all decor.  I wanted to copy it but didn't want to pay the grocery store prices.

I found these at Target in their dishware section.  I love the shapes and thought they'd look nice for what I wanted them for.


I got them home and realized that they were too simple for my taste.  I've been wanting to try out some stone clay, anyway, so I decided to jazz them up.  Here's the results:



Start by taking a big lump of your clay.  I chose to use the premier brand.


Flatten it with your hand and cut out your shape.  I used a little round cutter.  A cookie cutter, biscuit cutter or clay cutter would work.  You could also use a butter knife.

Take the circles and pinch the bottom.  This makes your petal shape.


This is where I got stuck.  I couldn't figure out how to get all the petals to stick to each other.  I finally settled on sticking them to another round circle.  This one isn't cut out, just squished.


Put them all on your circle and gently squash the point area on to your circle.  I squashed as I went and then adjusted the petals.  I'd recommend putting them where they need to go then squashing.  I think spacing would be easier that way.

Another view. . . .
Roll up three small balls and put them in the middle.  Gently squash those.


Done!  Let air dry.  It takes 24 or more hours, depending on how humid your area is.  I got antsy and put mine in a dehydrator.  When dry you can sand it to smooth it.  You can also paint it.  I wanted white on white so I ended up giving it a coat of spray primer.  The clay is white. . . just not WHITE white.  When it dried, I gave it a quick spray of clear sealer to give it the shine.

Glue on with your E6000 glue or a special glue for glass and ceramics.  Fill with flowers!

If I do it again:

1.  I wouldn't play with the clay as much.  The more it was played with, the more it lost that really smooth, soft texture I was going for.  This would require me to be much more organized and to have a design planned out prior to the actual crafting.
2.  I would try another brand.  I was hoping for a really solid piece, like porcelain, but this feels almost soft to me.  Don't get me wrong. . . it's solid. . . just softer than the vases, if that makes sense.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Packing for an Impromptu Summer

Every once and again I feel like posting a tip or a recipe instead of the usual projects I've done.  Today is one of those days!

With the warmer weather here to stay, I've taken the winter emergency supplies out of the trunk and replaced it with my summer bag.  The summer bag was born into existence after I quit carrying around a huge diaper bag with supplies for every possible contingency I could imagine.  I packed the summer bag and it's been a part of our trunk ever since.  Here it is!


It is not a survival bag.  Your survival supplies still need to be in the car.  Don't toss out your jumper cables because I didn't put them in my bag.  They're still in my van, next to the tool box, heavy duty flashlights and the jack.  Be smart and be prepared!!!

A lot of our summer is spent exploring the city and taking advantage of all of its fine, free resources for kids.  There are many times we don't reach our destination and choose to do something else instead.  Yes, sometimes it's because of my poor navigation skills but sometimes it's because we find something better!  This is what our summer bag holds.

A blanket. We have access to Symphonies at the Park, a Twilight Theater and an outdoor movies all summer long.  A big blanket also comes in handy at the beach and for picnics.


A fitted twin sized sheet.  Grab a fitted one!  The twin sized sheet fits perfectly over the top of a picnic table to act as a table cloth.  The wind can't catch it and blow it off and it's really easy to launder. 

A stack of grocery bags.  These are a must!  They can be used to collect wet clothes, to carry the questionable souvenir, to double as a garbage sack, to put over car seats when said children are wet, to pick up doggy doo (if dogs are tagging along). . . . lots and lots of uses!  We keep six in the bag, just in case.

A flashlight or two.  These are not to be confused with your survival flashlight.  We have a small flashlight for each of the kids in our bag.  We hand them out when we take advantage of some of the night time activities at the park.  The kids love to play with them before the show and it makes them feel important when they get to lead us back to the car with their lights.

Water bottles.  We keep two per member of the family.  Again, these aren't for survival but for fun!  We've had many an excursion that ended up outdoors and dehydration is a serious issue, especially for kids!  If we keep the water bottles back there, everyone can grab one and go play.  Make sure to replace when they are used.

Sweatshirts.  We keep a zip up sweatshirt per member of the family in the bag.  These are great for nights that turned chilly and for covering ourselves up with after getting wet.  A lot of our summer finds us wet and these help ward off the chill in the van when the AC hits us!

Sunscreen and Bug Spray.  Keep a bottle of each back there.  We always try to sunscreen up before we hit the road but sometimes we're out longer than intended.  Sometimes we forget.  Bug spray is nice to have just in case we have a need.  It's no fun to have to quit a hike early because the bugs are feasting on you!


Box of Baby Wipes.  This is another one of those versatile items.  We use them for everything!  Ever go into a porta-potty and found that it wasn't adequately stocked?  Ever treat everyone to ice cream on a 110 degree day and watch how much faster it melts than it's eaten?  Ever watch your kid go down the slide face first and end up with a mouthful of dirt?  Baby wipes.  They can take care of the muddy, the sticky and the dirty!  They're also disposable so you don't have to take your mess with you.

That's what's in our summer bag.  I have it all packed inside a tote that sits in the trunk of the van.  If we decide to take the car for the day, I move it to that trunk.  It isn't designed to take the place of good, planned family outings but it is designed to allow for some impromptu fun.


If I do it again:

Please note:  We also have a nicely stocked glove compartment so I don't have to put things such as a first aid kit or hand sanitizer in my summer bag.  If you don't have those things, make sure to add it!  Customize for your family!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Shrinky Dink Flower Barrettes

Remember Shrinky Dinks?


Did you realize you could make these with it?




I think they turned out nice and it was a quick, easy and fun project to do.

Take a sheet of Shrinky Dinks and cut out two four petal flowers for each flower.  I used my sizzix and the die labeled "Flower Layers #2".  Don't forget that these will shrink. . . a lot. . . so you want to go much bigger than you really want.  I used the second largest cut out.


You will end up with this:


Color them!  You need to use an alcohol based paint marker.  I used these:


Color in what you want colored.  I decided to cover the entire area.


Now shrink!  Bake at 325 for about three minutes.  You can watch it shrink.  Pull it out and either shape the petals or don't. . . . I didn't.  They had a natural curve that I liked.


Layer one on top of the other and glue with E6000 glue.  Put a dab on both surfaces to be glued together.  I put the colored side down because I liked the super shiny "rear" side.  I also added a rhinestone to the middle.


Check your dollar store for super cheap barrettes.  These were already covered in glitter but you could do that very easily with some glue and your favorite glitter colors.


Glue your flower to the end of the barrette and you are finished!  Let it dry completely before using!


If I do it again:

I would pick a few different shapes to layer.  These are a tad boring.