Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Upcycled Tabletop Christmas Tree

Need a few tabletop decorations for the holidays...or something to keep the kids busy (with a little adult help)?  This is a pretty inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to accomplish both of those things. The only thing I needed to purchase was a dowel.

Here's what you'll need to assemble this tabletop tree

1.  Magazine pages in Christmas colors or black and white or anything that works for you.  I was gifted a Paula Deen Christmas edition magazine that had several pages that looked like wrapping paper so I used those along with a couple of sheets that had pictures of Christmas trees
2.  A drill with a 1/4" drill bit
3.  A 1/4" dowel, cut to the height you'd like your tree (I bought mine pre-cut)
4.  A larger plastic lid, I'm using one from a 20 pound jug of cat litter.
5.  And a few basics; scissors, hole punch and a glue gun

To get started, you'll need to assemble the base.  To make sure that your drill doesn't slip off center in the next step, use a hammer and nail to punch a starter hole in your plastic lid.  Now, use that hole as a guide to drill your hole.

Insert your dowel into the lid, set it on a flat surface and make sure your lid and the dowel all touch the surface.  Now add a bunch of hot glue all around the dowel, on the under side of the lid, to keep it in place.  Quickly place the base back on a flat surface and be sure the dowel is straight before the glue dries. 

Now you can start building your tree.  Cut your magazines pages along the longest length of the page into 2" strips, bring the two ends of one strip together and punch a hole.

Slide it - gently, it will be a snug fit - onto the dowel to the point were the "bough" just touches your work surface.

Continue to add strips to the dowel and space them out until you have the fullness that appeals to you and then add a bead of glue around the dowel both on top of and beneath the boughs

Now start on the second row.  You'll want to snip off about 3/4" from both ends of the strips that you use in this row, so bring the ends together as you did above and snip at 3/4".  Then punch a hole and slide it on to the dowel just the place where the bough touches the first row.

You'll add another layer that is the same length as the second row.  Then for rows 4-5 you'll snip about 1 1/4" off the ends and for the sixth row, slightly more that an inch and a half.  Of course, you can adjust these as you like.  Once you get to the top of the dowel, you can finish the top off with a holiday decoration or a vintage wooden button as I did below.

Make a few in different sizes and deck those halls!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Weekend Wrapup that Includes a Little Extra Gift

I'm really getting a lot of use from packing material this holiday season and we'll utilize more of it today along with a few other things from around the house to make this beautifully wrapped holiday gift!

You'll need packing paper, an old T-shirt, an aluminum can, a hole punch, an alligator style hair clip (the only thing you'll need to buy) and something to cut your can with.

There are a few handmade components to this gift wrap, so first we'll make a gift tag out of a beverage can.  After you've cut and cleaned your can you can either use your favorite die cut machine to cut the gift tag of your choice or cut one out with a pair scissors.  Then just use a hole punch make a hole near the top of your tag and add a tiny scrap of t-shirt ribbon.  You can use a sharpie to mark the back side of your gift tag.

Once you've wrapped your gift, you'll need to cut a few strips of your t-shirt to make a ribbon long enough to tie around your gift.  If you need a little help making the ribbon, I put together a YouTube video to show you how or you can just pick some up in my Etsy shop.   Okay, wrap your ribbon around the gift.

Now for the final touch, the reusable embellishment - the little extra gift.  Cut another strip of t-shirt that's about 2" wide and a circle that is about 2" in diameter (you can adjust this to other sizes depending on the size of your gift).  Follow the instructions in this tutorial that I found online to make a fabric rosette out of your t-shirt material:

Use a little hot glue to attach an alligator clip to the back side of the rosette.  You'll want to pinch your alligator clip open while you press it into place, otherwise you'll end up glueing the whole thing shut...learn from MY experiences people!

Tie the gift tag to your gift and then clip on to the t-shirt rosette.

Once your gift recipient has unwrapped their gift they still have a beautiful rosette that they can use in the their hair clipped to a headband, clipped to a handbag or even on a jacket lapel. And yes, you can just pick up these fabric flowers in my Etsy shop as well.

Happy Wrapping!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up with a Little Comic Relief

Have an odd shaped package to wrap?  Here's a fun little solution that won't cost a cent.

Gather up a few supplies; the comics section of the newspaper, a pair of scissors and a couple old t-shirts

Take one of your t-shirts and fold it in half lengthwise twice.  Cut 1/2" strips along the bottom and open up the strips so that you're left with a loops of tshirt material.

Take each loop and pull it through your hand to make the edges curl inward.  Then you you can cut that to the lengths that you need for wrapping.  Need a visual?  Check out my video tutorial here.

Now just take a handful of your curled up strips and wrap them around the neck of your package.  Don't make it a habit of keeping old t-shirts laying around?  That's okay, you can get them from my Etsy shop.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Upcycled Napkin Rings for the Holiday Table

I have found a great many uses for those pesky non-recyclable little plastic rings that are left behind when you open a plastic lid for the first time (like around your water/soda bottle).  For my holiday table, I'll be using them to make napkin rings and I'm going to show you how you can to.

The basic supplies that you'll need - a bunch of plastic rings, a glue gun and a coordinating fabric that will match your table setting.  I'll be using my mom's quilting scraps in just a plain color since my dishes and napkins have plenty of pattern all on their own.  When selecting your rings, be sure to check that they fit nicely on your napkins.  I'm using rings from gallon milk jugs as they are a bit bigger than those from a water bottle.

You'll need some embellishments for your napkin rings.  If you want to make it a quick day of crafting you can simply use some leftover buttons or you can make your own embellishments.  I use a method very similar to this video tutorial to make rosettes out of scrap material.  So, to get started, cut a strip of your fabric that is about 3/4" wide and about twelve inches long.  You may need to adjust the length depending on the circumference of your ring and how closely you wrap your fabric around the ring.  Now add a dab of glue to the end of the fabric and attach it to the inside of the ring.

Wrap the fabric 'round and 'round your ring.  When the ring is completely covered used another dab of glue to hold down the other end of the fabric.  Then trim all the little threads from your napkin ring.  Now you're ready to attach your embellishment (with one last dab of glue).

 And viola!  Now you have a beautiful addition to your holiday (or anytime) table.

Monday, November 14, 2011

DIY Cinnamon Pinecones

I took this picture more than a month ago in my local craft store...long before Halloween:

I'm pretty sure the price tag said $6 for these two gigantic cinnamon scented pinecones.  While I don't have pinecones that big in my neighborhood, I figured I could do something just as nice and better for the environment at home.

Pinecones are found in nature so how bad can they for the environment, right?  Compared to other manufactured holiday decorations probably not too bad.  But if you consider the excess netting, paper price tags, artificial scents and the pollution caused transporting the pinecones from one person's backyard to store shelves, wouldn't you prefer to head outside and collect your own while you enjoy the beautiful Autumn weather?

All you need are some pinecones, a plastic bag and cinnamon essential oil (you won't need a jug of it as in the picture, common jars come in 1 and 3 ounce sizes)

Place a few drops of essential oil down inside the pinecones, you can use a dropper or just pour some into a soft plastic container that you can squeeze to form a little spout. You can use your sniffer as a guide to how much oil to add, but just 3-4 drops per pinecone should do the trick.  You can always add more essential oils when the scent fades.  Then place them inside a plastic bag overnight to give the oils some time to absorb.

Now just place them amongst your garland or other holiday decorations

You can even just pile them into a bowl and place it anywhere you'd like to freshen your home.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Wrapup: For Those Already Dreaming of Spring

This is the perfect wrap for those who love spring, butterflies or the garden!  If you need some help making your butterflies from beverage cans please see my YouTube video.  Just want to purchase the butterflies?  You can find them in my Etsy shop.  Okay, here's what we're aiming for:

The supplies are few.  Just gather up some floral themed magazine pages, soda can butterflies and foam tape (and if you're wrapping a package that requires more than one magazine page to cover it, you'll need a sewing machine):

Piece together the magazine pages and sew them together into a sheet similar to wrapping paper:

Wrap your gift and use your foam tape to apply your butterflies to the gift.  You can even use a Sharpie to mark one of your butterflies with the gift recipients name:

And viola, a no cost but beautiful and environmentally friendly way to present a holiday gift to a loved one!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More Upcycled Storage Compliments of Starbucks

It's true, I'm a junkie and I don't always have my reusable cup with me when I'm jonesing.  Here are few storage solutions that I get from my Starbucks cold cups.

They are great for storage of small items, like these buttons (or in workshop for nails, nuts and bolts)

Or to sort plastic lids

I even use my leftover cups to submerge my paper beads.  When I'm done I simply snap the lid on and cover the straw opening with a piece of tape to keep my leftover adhesive and varnish as fresh as the day I poured it into the cup.  These would be great for storing leftover kids paints too.

Do you reuse your beverage containers for anything else?

Starbucks Blonde

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Weekend Wrap Up: Part 1

Welcome to the first in a series of Weekend blog posts that will walk you through how to have beautifully wrapped holiday packages using only stuff headed to the recycle bin or trash can...dare we call it Upcycled Stuff?  Before we get started, take a look at this really nifty tutorial and learn how to make a gift box out of a cereal box.  Once you have the right size box made you can wrap it just as you would any other gift.  Need ideas?  Here's one:

For this gift, I am using paper that was used to cushion a recent online purchase, a flower embellishment made from an Arizona Ice Tea Can and double sided foam tape

Once you've flattened out the paper, wrap your gift (I used an iron on medium heat with no steam).  Then add a small square of tape to the back of the flower

Finally stick your flower to your gift and write your gift recipients name right on the package!

You can check out my YouTube tutorial if you need some help making those flowers OR you can pick them up in my shop:

See ya next week with another creative, earth-friendly gift wrap idea!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Long Overdue Walk in the Park

As I was running to the post office today, I realized that Autumn had happened and I almost missed it.  I've been working too much lately and decided right then and there that I had stop and take a break.  I looked over at my copilot ...

and said, "Chico, do you want to go to the park?"  It was a unanimous decision, so off we went.  This is one of my favorite parks, Paris Mountain State Park.  Isn't it beautiful?

 And Chico was incredibly happen to have new stuff to sniff (and even more pee on)!

While we were there I picked up several pinecones in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.  You can bet there will be a couple quick craft tutes in the coming weeks.

I also found some beautiful acorn caps that I plan to make floating candles from for the holiday table.

When it was time to go....well let's just say THAT wasn't a unanimous decision!

Do you see him?  He sat down and watched me walk all the way to the car!

Can't see him?  How but now?  Can you see how clearly he is asking me, "Seriously mom? We're leaving?"

And, no, I didn't tell him to stay - I don't bother because he doesn't listen anyway.  Stubborn as him mom! 

I hope you have a chance to go and enjoy some of the beautiful fall foliage!

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