Christmas Recycling - Delivery Truck Fleet

Posted on December 21, 2015 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

This past weekend I designed and made my final Christmas kits - Fleets of Delivery Trucks, using milk and juice cartons (empty and cleaned out, of course). These little trucks are intended to keep little ones busy during the day on Christmas Eve or during the days between Christmas and New Year's. I made over 30 of these - believe me it took a lot of milk and juice cartons. Besides my own contribution, I asked neighbours for any they had - and, boy, did they deliver!

As the trucks are intended for kiddies age 7 and under, I did the majority of work in constructing each 'truck' since using utility knives and other sharp tools was involved - something even I try to avoid. I also added the 'wheels' (made from plastic lids). Each child gets a fleet of three that they can share with any guests. And it's up to them on how to decorate (and use) these little trucks.

Most kids have ample art supples somewhere at home but during this time of year when everything is so hectic, I try to save the parents some time by filling up each truck kit with small containers of washable acrylic paint, glue, brushes, washable felt pens and/or crayons, and washi tapes. The colours of the paint  and washi tapes varies to give kids some choice in which ones they want to use - what I really mean is that I supply what I find on sale at my local hardware store. It's sometimes surprising what is squirreled away in odd corners of the shop but I always manage to find something interesting. 

More Christmas Real Estate

Posted on December 3, 2015 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

It seems quite a few of you have a bit of Bob the builder in you as I've had requests for more Christmas houses. You just can't seem to get enough of these sweet holiday decorations and, I admit, they do look nice when a few are grouped together. There are tons of Christmas putz house templates out there - the drawback to a lot of them is that you need to decorate these and who has time? But there are many that you can simply print out, glue on to your recycled cardboard and voilà - your're done. Note that a few of those listed below are actually meant as gift boxes but would easily work as little house decorations.

Row Housing

These were designed by Gabrielle Blair, the talent behind Design Mom as gift boxes. And, okay, these do require a bit of a paint job, but, hey, the template comes with a cute little wreath for the front door! Click here for template and instructions.


Yup, more gift boxes which again look just like little putz houses. These are from Design is Yay! and come ready to use once assembled.  Wita, the site's owner offers loads of free printables for all occasions. She's even got Christmas tree templates that you can print out and make to go with her little houses.

Get the info for these houses here.

Upmarket Parisien Dwelling

This one from a French website Sanglota is a bit more upscale but ooh, la, la. It's easy to cut out and assemble because it's a simple rectangle form you can paste on a box - would make a nice gift wrap as well. There are loads of other free printables at this site - Alice and JB are the creative team that make up Sanglota! 

Check out these Parisien beauties here.

Two-Stories Plus Attic

If you like your houses a bit bigger, the template for this one can be downloaded from Lutz Kaspers Papiermodelle. It's a German site but you won't need to read any instructions as the template is fairly clear about how to assemble this model. You'll have to scroll way down to find it but it's worth it! There are a few other models (a ship) that would be fun to make if you are so inclined. This little building would make a great dollhouse if you increase the size of the template.

Click here for the house template.

Non-edible Gingerbread House

None of the above have much to do with recycling unless you glue the printouts to any cardboard you have in your recycling bin. However, this one from the delightful blog, The House that Lars Built, is made using cardboard boxes - you know you've got some.  Brittany Watson Jepsen, the blog owner, explains how you can turn any plain old cardboard box into a cute little gingerbread house. Lots of good photos to follow. She also has info there where you can get free coupons for something but I didn't read it all.  You do have to decorate this one but you only have to have a chalkboard or felt pen to do it.

This is a great site and you may spend some time there. By the way, you can get free boxes (if you don't have your own) from any store. I got three today from a local gift shop.

Click here for Brittany's instructions.

TIP: Most of these houses print out on letter sized paper: i.e., 8 1/2" x 11". A nice size for an ornament - however, if you want a bigger model, increase the print or copy size to 140 percent to print out on 11" x 17" paper.

Christmas Putz Houses 2015

Posted on November 11, 2015 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

What is it about those little Christmas putz houses we all love so much? Much as I'd like to show you oodles of examples and links to templates, I don't have a lot of time right now as I am working hard on my new workshop online location. Luckily I found Russian blogger, Tanya Ukhova, who provides dozens links to little putz houses that you can print out and customize. As I said, the site is in Russian but the links to the houses are in English. I guarantee you'll find something you will love and just have to make.

To get there, click here.

If you don't have time to browse all the links on Tanya's blog, here's the link to that perennial favourite - our Lady Martha's Christmas village (shown above).

If, on the other hand, you'd rather buy than make a few little Christmas buildings, what about these lovely buildings from Etsy seller, Holiday Spirits Decor? Gorgeous or what!

Last Minute Halloween Upcycling

Posted on October 30, 2015 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

A friend called me yesterday evening for last minute Halloween ideas. As a working mom she had little time to whip up a costume and no time to hit the shops for something her child would like. And, oh, yes, Sylvie needed a trick or treat container as there was nothing suitable in the house.

Little Sylvie is a bigtime magic fan so I thought that a magician costume would be perfect. Luckily she's got the cape and the magician's wand- all that was needed were a few accessories, including a moustache and bowtie which Sylvie insisted every proper magician could not do without. 

Fortunately, Sylvie and her mom had almost everything we needed in their recycling bin. I alsow brought along a few items from my own bin. When I arrived, we set to work. We made the little top hat using a cardboard paper towel roll and cardboard from a cereal box. The hat band is actually a paper straw cut open and flattened. The paper bowtie and glasses (instead of a mask) were made using templates I found online and the moustache was cut out freehand from a bit of fuzzy fabric and backed with double-sided tape. 

Next up was the trick or treat pail for Sylvie to use when she and Mom went trick and treating tomorrow evening. This is the before and after shot. The pail is actually a plastic coffee container and the handle is a wire coat hanger (of course!). 

While we were waiting for the paint to dry on the pail, Sylvie's mom asked if I had any ideas for some decorations we could make. I thought that a rosette garland using pages from a discarded paperback and cutouts from some wrapping paper I brought. The garland would decorate their windows and the front door. Sylvie cut out the skull illustrations out of wrapping paper while we adults folded. Then we all assembled the rosettes, attaching each one to length of a jute twine. 

Except for the paint, glue, and tape, everything we made came from discards in the recycling bin. All you need is a bit of imagination (or desperation!).

TIP: The trick to making rosettes quickly is to stack several pages together - 3 or 4 depending upon paper thickness - and fold all together. Easy-peasy! By the way, once Halloween is over, the garland can be reused for Christmas by simply removing the skull images.