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Recycling - Cardboard City Inspiraton

Posted on March 3, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

If you're gobsmacked by this little cardboard city as much as I am, I'm not surprised. It's the creation of Evgeny Kudryavtsev (aka Cardboard Dad) an architect and the father of a little girl, Ira, for whom he invent toys made from recycled cardboard and scrap materials. He crafted this mouse-sized cardboard city as part of a commission for German publisher Fordevind. The bright colours and graphic details that he added to his city makes it irresistable to any mouse or child (even a few adults). It just shows you what you can do with something as common as cardboard. 

Take a wander through his blog (it's in Russian) and you’ll be tempted to break out the cardboard and create a city with, and for, your little ones. To view Evgeny's blog and his mouse-sized city landscape, click here

Evgeny has an online shop selling his own designs. His current DIY kits include a cardboard house and a rocket, both customizable. To check out his wares, go here.

March Break - Rockets and Castles

Posted on March 2, 2015 at 7:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Okay, now that you've got your glue and paint ready, it's time to gather up the kids and start creating. Cardboard tubes from your recycling bin are a great material for all kinds of projects. In no time at all, your kids can create rocket ships, castles, even a forest. The following projects are easy and quick to make. Once assembled with a little help from you, let the kids go ahead with the decorating and painting.

Cardboard Tube Rocket Ships

What kid doesn't love the idea of flying high up to the moon and back? Lisa over at her blog Lizon shows you how to make this tall rocket ship. Her blog is in Russian but her excellent photographs are easy to follow. For Lisa's rocket ship, click here.

If you prefer your how-tos in English, check out the rocket ships over at Sweet Paul has a similar version of a rocket ship. For instructions, click here.

Cardboard Tube Castles

We all love the idea of living in our very own castle. The MollyMoo craft blog has a very easy-to-make castle made from a cardboard box and toilet paper rolls. Quick and very simple to make. The how-tos can be found here

Also very easy is this castle from Incy Wincy Art Club team. The castle is easily put together with a variety of toilet and kitchen roll tubes, all held together with craft glue. 

Cardboard Forest

Any little girl or boy will tell you that every castle needs a forest where fairies, unicorns, and other mystical creatures frolic. Here's one from Maija's Finnish blog, Ukkonooa, that is quite charming - bright and cheerful. The instructions are in Finnish but, again, the photographs are very easy to follow. To create this magical forest, click here.

There are thousands of sites that show you how to recycle cardboard tubes; these were among my favourites. I like them because they are quick, easy and so inexpensive to make.

March Break Eco-Friendly Craft Supply Recipes

Posted on February 28, 2015 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

March Break is just a couple of weeks away here and some parents have nowhere to send their kids (not there, silly!) and take time off to spend with them. If you've decided to forego the trip to Disneyland or Cuba, and, if you're in a tizzy and too busy to look up some ideas to keep the kids occupied, I'm here to help.

First up are a few links that give you easy-peasie instructions to make your own (MYI) glue, paint, play doh, even Mod Podge (so easy, you'll fall off your chair in surprise!). All the 'recipes' are environmentally friendly that you can make at home. No need to head for craft or dollar stores: most call for ingredients you've already have in your kitchen cupboard and are easy enough for kids to make under your supervision. So, here we go!

Homemade Craft Glue

This craft glue recipe comes from Moms over at Paging Fun Mums and is very simple to make. When I made mine, I never thought to use vinegar as the preservative. Good idea. For the how-tos, click here.

Mod Podge

Great recipe for decoupage crafts. Mod Podge can get expensive so these two handy MYI recipes come in handy. They're from the wife and husband team over at Painted Furniture Ideas. I tried the simple solution one and found that it worked beautifully. For both recipes, click here.

Homemade Playdoh

Almost everyone I know has a recipe for playdoh. But the two offered by Instructables are by far the best I've tried. There's one recipe for cooked which they say has a better texture and another one for uncooked playdoh. The choice is yours. Cooked or uncooked?

Homemade Finger Paint

I found oodles of recipes for finger paint and choose the following because the recipes included ingredients I already have in the cupboard (and a neighbour kindly took down for me as I'm still pretty much unable to stretch!). Anyway ...

The first finger paint recipe is via Stacey from The vG Huis blog. It includes sugar as an ingredient so don't tell the kids. They may want to eat it! Just tell them that it's a secret ingredient that you can't divulge. Kids love secret ingredients. For the instructions, go here.

Melissa from the Fireflies and Mud Pies blog claims to have a taste-safe recipe for finger paint. It doesn't include sugar but uses Kool-Aid instead of food colouring to colour the paints. I didn't attempt to try tasting but I do admit it came out nicely and really worked well. The recipe is here.

Homemade Water Colours

Your older kids might like to use brushes instead of their fingers to create their masterpieces. Here's an easy recipe for water colours from Amy, a blogger over at All Parenting. If you don't want to (or don't have an extra) ice cube tray, use a muffin tin instead or small jars. For recipe, click here.

I hope you find these links useful as well as both time and cost-saving. There's nothing better than creating and spending time with your kids. They grow up so fast!

Manoteca Pezzo Unico - Door to Table Upcycling

Posted on February 21, 2015 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm a great fan of all things Italian from architecture to design to food and even Italian detective programs such as Il commissario Montalbano (especially the Young Montalbano series - only on BBC unfortunately), Il commissario Franco Soneri, Provaci ancora prof (a teacher who detects TV series). So, when I was looking for a work table to replace my wobbly Ikea ones, I was pleasantly surprised to come across Elisa Cavani's furniture site - Manoteca. She's a creative and gifted Italian furniture maker specializing in one of a kind (pezzo unico) items including tables and wonky but endearing tricycle 'libraries' with headlamps (Il Fausto - she also gives each of her creations a name).

Much as I would love to own one of these tricycle libraries, it is her Elisa's work/study desks/tables that caught my eye - each desk is a work of beautifully functional art. When opened, a desk features a hand-sewn leather pocket and a wooden drawer. When closed, the desk can function as a dining table. The pine wood doors, hinges, and latches are all authentic early 20th century pieces. Each completed desk is a one-of-a-kind item.

Here's an example of her latest work, the Windoor, a small work/study desk made from vintage wooden window shutters.

To find out more about Elisa, go here.

To see the entire Manoteca collection, click here.

Plastic Bread Tags Recycling

Posted on February 20, 2015 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Having to stay home and in bed most of the time because of my back injury, I'm finding that I'm limited by what I can do. No more dashing down to my storage unit to rummage through boxes for something I need; no more reaching up in the closet to bring down a few items; no more bending down to grab something that's fallen. So coming up with ideas for the little guy's birthday in March was a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, I had already assembled his gifts - I normally send a box full of wrapped gifts to be opened over a period of days (although my daughter, his mom, tells me they never wait that long). All I needed to do was wrap up the gifts and get a kind neighbour to post the box. The gift wrap wasn't a problem as it was already close at hand but finding gift tags for each of the gifts needed some creative thinking.

Enter the humble plastic bread tag. I found a dozen of so in the bottom of my bread box. To make, I cut out small pieces of gift wrap, glued these on bits of cardboard (recycled from a cardboard tea box), trimmed to the same width a the bread tag and glued each one on. A little note on the back of each - something witty like "Don't Open Yet!" - and I was done. Cost? Zero! (And they can be reused over and over - just peel off the cardboard paper bit and replace with a new one!) 

4 Ideas for Valentine - Use what you've got

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Uh, oh, I know that it's only three days away until Valentine's Day but I'm still flat on my back and unable to reach up or down and haven't been able to make anything.  I can, however, peruse the web to find some quick and easy ideas for you and the kids to make. So hang on, here we go:

Valentine Balloons

I've actually used an idea like this one to make a pirate-inspired invitation balloon cards for the wee guy in my life. Tonia at The Gunny Sack created this Valentine version you can quickly put together for the day. Use up any balloons and ribbon you've got on hand and, if you have no treats, just insert a little paper birthday wish,  roll it up and put inside the balloon. What could be easier? Tonia's instructions and download are here.

Valentine Flower Holder

Just have time to buy some flowers, get home, and what - no vase? Improvise with this idea - grab an umbrella and use that to display your flowers. Wrap the stems in waterfilled plastic bags (check to ensure the bags don't leak, first!) and stick them into the umbrella. Add a ribbon and you're done. You do know that grocery store flowers are way cheaper than the florist shop, right? So save your cash for a night out and head out to your local store to pick a variety of blooms (they don't have to be roses, either).

This idea comes via Gina over at Random Thoughts from an Incoherent Mind. Although it is self-explanatory, if you're anything like me, you might need some how-tos, so click here.

Paper Heart Garland

This Valentine paper garland would look sensational if you make several and stick them up to hang in a doorway. I spotted a similar paper heart garland in the window of Boogie and Birdie, a local shop that sells the kind of expensive stuff you wish you could afford (and I go in occasionally to steal ideas - I mean - for inspiration!). Best thing about this garland is that you can make it from any kind of paper you have on hand: gift wrap, old letters, envelopes, even book pages. All you need is a stapler (and staples, natch!). No stapler, just glue the thing together!

Easy-peasy instructions come via Craft Stalker.  The original post appears to be Japanese (or Korean) but the steps shown look pretty easy to follow (even for me). To view, click here

Paper Flowers

Good news, paper flowers can also be made out of any type of paper (as long as it is foldable - I wouldn't recommend cardboard). When we were kids we used to make tissue flowers for friends' weddings. These went out of fashion for a while but now seem to be in again. For a twist on the old tissue paper, I like these sewing pattern tissue ones that I found at the Rural Bride site. You can use the tissue paper patterns  that you won't be reusing or that are too worn-out to be used again for sewing purposes. These can be made exactly like the traditional tissue flowers, just fold, tie up, and spread out! For instructions, go here.

No sewing tissue patterns on hand? Use paper coffee filters instead. These are made exactly the same way as the sewing tissue paper shown. And, or course, gift wrap tissue paper another way to go. For the coffee filter flowers, Sneaky Spoons shows you how here.

If you are looking for more last-minute inspiration, just enter "last minute valentine craft ideas' in your browser Search box. As for material, look around the house and see what you've got before heading for the store. Remember you can make something from anything. You just gotta figure out how.