DIY Mother's Day

Posted on April 26, 2016 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

With Mother's Day just a few weeks away, why not make a few things that she would adore (after all, you made them!). Here are a few ideas that I have made for my own Mom (and my daughter who is a Mom, too!).

Let's Wrap Again!

Instead of a humdrum box of chocolates, surprise your Mom with this sweet treat, featuring her favourite photos wrapped around chocolate bars. Easy to do. Remove the wrapping from her favourite bars and measure each one. Next choose your photographs, scan and crop so that these are the same size as the chocolate bar wrapping. Wrap a photo around each bar, and tape or glue at the back of the bar. Be sure to make extra - Mom will want to share!

Top That!

Mom will smile for days when you present her with this cute cupcake (homemade or store-bought) with its vintage topper. To make the topper, copy images from vintage sewing patterns or use images from magazines or your family photographs. Scan the images and then print on card-weight paper (or do as I do, copy image on recycled paper and glue to cardboard). Next, cut out the image, then glue or tape toothpicks on the back of each topper. Insert in a cupcake and serve. Yummy!

Bottle Up

Forget humdrum (and expensive) roses. Instead, head for your local grocery store and pick out a few flowers that you know Mom is fond of. When you get home, raid the recycle bin for suitable bottles, plastic or glass. Wash these thoroughly and dry. Add a bit of water to each bottle 'vase' and plunk in a flower. Group these 'vases' on a pretty plate and finish off with a pretty ribbon tied in a bow. The cost will be minimal but the impact will last for days.

Daffed about You!

Another super easy but low-cost idea for Mom. Again, head for your local grocery store and check out the overgrown daffodils and tulips stuck in the back of the flower department section. The flowers and plants here usually cost very little. Buy one with the best looking blossoms and, at home, remove from the container and wash off the soil from the bulb and roots. Write 'Mom' or her name on a paper label and tie to the flower. Put this on a pretty plate at her breakfast (or dinner place setting and you're done!

Note: When the flower has dried up, cut the stem down and place the bulb in a cool, dark place (such as your cellar) over winter. You can replant the bulbs in your garden in the fall to bloom again next spring.

All these ideas are easy-peasy, low-cost, fast, but look like a million bucks (at least to Mom).

Easter Recycling Projects

Posted on March 21, 2016 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Easter is almost here so I'm throwing out some DIY projects that caught my eye this week. There are literally thousands of ideas online so if none of these tickle your fancy, head out to the Internet and you won't be disappointed - but you just may be waylaid because of the sheer volume!

Stuffed Paper Bag Rabbits

Joanka at Joanka-Z describes herself as a good craftsman who wants to change the world using her hands and a sewing machine. And in this project she certainly succeeds. She shows us how to make a bunny from a paper bag! Now you have a way of upcycling all those grocery bags you’ve been hoarding! There’s even a template for you to copy.

Instructions are in Polish and you will need a sewing machine but otherwise, an easy, peasy project. Click here to make your own. 

Egg Carton Wreath

Rebecca over at her beautiful blog, Sinnern Rausch, loves anything handmade and finding treasures at flea markets. Her egg carton wreath is as elegant as anything you'll find at expensive floral or decorating shops. And is fairly easy to make. You'll need a few egg cartons but if you are like me, you're sure to have an assortment in your recycling bin. 

This blog is in German but the instructions are easy to follow from the excellent photos. Click here to make your own.

Recycled Eggshell Mobile

This mobile idea is a wonderful way to use up those eggs we crack in the morning when making breakfast. Now you can put them to use to amuse the kids and maybe decorate above your Easter table. Angie has loads of great ideas on her blog, Little Inspiration.

It's a brilliant idea and I plan to copy it with my own interpretation - brown eggshells. Her instructions for this mobile are easy to follow - now I just have to find a branch and some plastic toys. To find out how you can recreate this mobile, click here.

Buona Pasqua!

The Art of Improvisation - Faux Cacti

Posted on March 16, 2016 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Spring is always a busy time with March Break and St. Pat’s Day upon us, and Easter just around the corner, I've been looking for a project that could embrace all 3 events in one easy DIY. And here it is! Faux cacti!

No - I didn't come up with this on my own. Every year I can't help but notice that there’s a particular idea or trend that takes off and within days everyone is doing it, posting it, and selling it! One year it was those silly mustaches on a stick. Remember them? You had to be living in Antarctica not to spot them – and maybe even there. Then it was bow ties – everywhere and in every form – gift toppers, hair bands, scrunchies, bracelets, and yes – even as bowties. And I confess, I made more than my share.

This year, the trend is towards succulents – cacti to you and me! I began noticing this when a few interior decorating blogs were showing off their cacti. Even Ikea is featuring succulents and cacti in its Livet Hemma posts and flogging them in their shops. By the way, their live plants are an excellent buy - I have a corn plant I bought 12 years ago from Ikea and it's still growing strong!

Some clever bloggers like Brittany Watson Jepsen over at The House that Lars Built created their own cacti from cardboard. She even provides templates you can use to make your own cardboard versions - a great way to use up old cardboard boxes!

Other bloggers crochet, papier mache and even bake them. Still others like Ernestina Gallina at Sassia Parte improvise using rocks painted to resemble those little desert blooms. The site is in Italian but the photos are easy enough to follow if you are so inclined. 

With all this going on, I, too, decided to improvise. Not having any cardboard boxes or rocks close at hand and not much of a baker, I looked around the studio for material and supplies I could use instead and spotted an egg carton filled with a dozen empty eggshells I had made and saved for some project. Every morning I empty out an eggshell carefully when making my breakfast. These can be used for so many projects - so why not as faux cacti?

But how to assemble those little suckers? I don’t have a glue gun, so, to make a tiered cactus, I had to use craft glue and hold the eggshells in place until the glue dried. No problem as I could watch the news at the same time. For paint, I used some left over from other projects, mixing several colours together to get the right shade of green. I could also have used food colouring, I guess. Would have been easier and faster! 

Once painted and detailed (sort of – hey, I’m no Picasso!) I looked for containers and unearthed my vintage jelly mold collection. I used brown rice to anchor my cacti in these containers. And, oh joy, I found just enough small stones in my gardening bin to top off and hide the rice. Then, for a bit of colour, I added few blooms to some of my cacti by cutting up a deflated red balloon and some yellow tissue paper and sticking on these faux blossoms.

And all my events are covered - easy kiddy March Break craft (especially if you own a glue gun), green enough for St. Paddy's Day, and eggy enough for Easter.

Cost? Zero - not bad, eh!

March Break - Coming Events

Posted on March 8, 2016 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I think it would be a great idea to get the kids to create a few crafts to celebrate the day. Note: You don't have to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick's Day. Here are my own recyling ideas for this very green day.  

Tissue Box Shamrocks

Shamrock Bunting Banner

DIY Leprechaun Hat

Besides these St. Pat's Day projects here are links to my previous March Break posts.

Fun Projects for Aspiring Architects, Gardeners, Musicians, Engineers, Sailors, and Scientists

Rockets and Castles

March Break - Recycling Chopsticks

Posted on March 3, 2016 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Today's March Break project is (you may be surprised) all about learning to knit (even though I'm not what you'd call an expert knitter by any means). To that end, I used a pair of chopsticks for the needles as these are actually a good length for a child's little hands. 

The little guy seemed keen to try his hand at knitting and after a few false starts (and help from me) was able to complete a small square (but then he drifted off back to his regular toys ... )

The chopsticks we had on hand were perfect as is but if you have a pair that are a bit blunt, you can use a pencil sharpener to make the knitting ends more pointy. Note, most chopsticks are made from bamboo so be sure to gently sand over any rough edges. Bamboo slivers are painful and very difficult to remove.

As I don't have a pile of knitting yarn on hand (okay, none!) and didn't fancy having to unravel an old sweater or hat, I used twine as our knitting medium. Because twine is a bit rough for little hands, I had the little guy sprinkle baby powder on his hands as he worked. I learned this trick from my nana who was a prolific and creative knitter. It softens the yarn as you knit. And to keep the yarn from tangling up as he knitted, I put the ball of twine into an empty (clean and washed) plastic latte drinks container. Worked like a charm.

Here's a good how-to knit video.

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March Break - Kid Friendly Recycling Projects

Posted on March 2, 2016 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The weather here in Ottawa has been interesting so say the least - snowstorms, freezing rain, more snowstorms, freezing rain ... As a result my workshops have been put on hold until late March and April. So while I'm getting the details ready, I thought that a few March Break ideas wouldn't go amiss (in Ottawa March 14 to 1). One day I will learn how to give online workshops but meanwhile ...


Most folks send their kids during March Break to various programmes held by the city or schools but what happens when you're snowbound and the buses aren't running? How are you going to keep your kids busy and away from their beloved electronic toys? Most of my projects won’t break the bank since most of the material can come out of your cupboards or recycling bin. So start rummaging through your cupboards and recycling bin for material. Here's the first project.


Super Sleuth

What kid doesn't like to dress up and what's better than becoming a Super Sleuth for a day! All you need to do is help your little one put together a kit that should keep her or him busy looking for clues.

Assembling a Super Sleuth Kit

You can include anything you like (and have on hand) to create a Super Sleuth kit. The little guy and I put together one that included the following: a notebook with attached pen, magnifying glass, small flashlight, compass, tweezers, specimen jars and a matchbook box (again for specimens), a stamp pad (for fingerprints) and, of course a disguise. Later I added a pair of vintage binoculars. Note: I didn't buy a single thing - we found everything we needed at home.  

To make the eye glasses, I made a template from my own and cut those shown above out of cardboard painted black. The moustaches were cut freehand from some fun fur fabric (but you can use felt, too).

Everything (except the binoculars) for the master sleuth was hidden in a book safe that we made from an old Hardy Boys adventure book - don't worry, it was mucked up and missing a lot of pages. 

How to make a Book Safe

To make the book safe, Mom or dad will need to remove all the pages from an old book (don't toss the pages - we'll be using them for a project down the road). Next, rummage through the recycling bin to find a cardboard box (if there's a lid, set it aside for later use) that will fit into the book. Cut the sides of the box down if it's too deep. Glue the bottom of the box inside the back cover. To prevent the book from opening up and spilling out the contents, make tie fasteners by pasting a piece of ribbon inside the front cover and one inside the back cover.

Secret Messages

Every Super Sleuth needs a way to send messages in secret so we created one using white scrap paper, a white crayon, and some water colour paints. Write your message on the scrap of paper using the white crayon (you can also use a white wax candle or a white felt pen). When ready to read the message, use a small brush to paint over your entire message with some diluted water colour paint. The message will magically appear!