Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve: Decorating for the Environment and for Fun

Ahh, the new year. Out with old, in with the new....wait, hold up just one minute!  You know me better than that, don't you?  If you're hosting a party this New Year's Eve here are a few ideas for greening up the festivities, and I guarantee you'll find an idea or two where the old is just as good as new.

I'm not sure where the tradition of little flecks of debris falling from the sky came from but if you're planning on tossing confetti at the stroke of midnight, consider these options:

1.  Grab the neighborhood kids, several hole punches and some old magazines and let them make your confetti for you.  It's free, it's upcycled and it can be swept up and tossed right into the recycle bin the next morning.
2.  If you're opposed to child labor, are short on time and absolutely must have confetti look for the store bought kind that you can recycle.  No plastic and no tissue paper styles here.
3.  You could also consider dropping balloons when the clock strikes twelve.  Latex balloons are certainly easier to clean up and, once popped, they can be tossed right into the composter.

And what's a party without party blowers??  You can use this tutorial from Martha Stewart but change it up a bit to incorporate reclaimed papers; think magazine paper, leftover paper from scrapbooking projects or maybe some heavier weight leftover wrapping paper.

No party is complete without the party hat.  You can use the pattern for this hat and get creative with your decorations.  No need to make your hat look like the picture, color outside the lines and use whatever upcycled embellishments you can get your hands on. 

However you choose to celebrate, have fun and stay safe.  We'll see you right back here next year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Neighborly Upcycled New Year

Have you dug yourself out from under all the Christmas decorations and the discarded wrapping paper, boxes and bows yet?  Thankfully, I have and am now onto upcycling for the New Year. And this year, I'll start with my neighbor!

I'm not sure when it started but my neighbor and I are both single women who enjoy cooking (when we have the time) but hate the waste of cooking a larger meal for one.  So we've gotten into the habit of creating some fabulous dishes and sharing with one another quite frequently.  Well, if you haven't heard I will be relocating in January and this fun little tradition that we've started will be no more.  So, I've spent the last couple of weeks making some fabulous soups, stews and chillies in the crockpot and started freezing them (in upcycled pasta sauce jars, of course).  On New Years Day I'll deliver a basketful of meals so she has a few to keep her going until she breaks in a new neighbor. What do you think?

Not only is the container upcycled, but so is the recipe card.    Here's how I made it:

1:  Cut a small piece of thin cardboard to size.  I used the cardboard that is often tucked inside of a man's folded dress shirt so it's thick but still flexible.
2:  Use a little Mod Podge to adhere some leftover tissue paper from the holidays.
3:  Disassemble a holiday card and glue a nice blank section to the tissue paper-covered cardboard.
4:  Now just write your recipe on the card and attach it to your jar.

*** Just a word of caution if you decide to make these at home - Be very careful to use a thicker glass jar and leave plenty of room for your creations to expand.  I lost two jars of chili before I finally got it right.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Put a Tag on It

Growing up, I remember early in the evening on Christmas Eve my mom and dad would barricade themselves in the bedroom with a mountain of packages, piles of wrapping paper, too much scotch tape and at oodles of self stick gift tags.  I'm not quite sure if it's because they where last minute shoppers or if they intentionally tucked gifts away until the big night just to cause a scene.  But it DID cause a scene with my brother, sister and I sitting outside the door trying to imagine what was happening on the other side.

The next morning you could always tell when they had run out of gift tags (or simply forgotten to buy them all together) because some of the gifts would be marked with a folded square of matching wrapping paper.  Well tonight's the night!  Just in case you've forgotten to pick up your gift tags here are few handmade alternatives.

Beverage cans can make some really beautiful gift tags.  They are easy to cut and you can write easily on them with a sharpie.

Here's a really simple gift tag that you can make using a clothing tag and a magazine page. Just use a glue stick to adhere your clothing tag to the page and then trim the magazine to the same size as the clothing tag.

And if you want to get a little more crafty with your clothing tags you can use a little gesso (basically an artists paint primer) to cover the writing on the tag, paint them and layer a couple on top of one another.  Add glitter and other embellishments to really personalize your gifts.

Whatever the holiday you are celebrating, I wish it filled with love and family.  Thanks for following along this year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just Giving Cash?

As a kid, I loved getting cash!  As an adult, I hate giving it.  I take a great amount of pride in finding the perfect gift, especially when I can put my own sarcastic twist on it.  But this year mom really wants an industrial sewing machine and she'll be buying used.  So I can't exactly walk into a store and buy a particular brand that she wants or even buy a gift card.  As mush as I dislike sewing, I wouldn't even attempt to find the right used machine either!  So what's a girl to do?  Cash it is, but here is my sarcastic spin:

I know it looks like a jumbled up mess but they really are pretty when looked at one by one.  Each petal is wrapped with floral wire, bundled together with other petals and then attached to a stem.  I've gathered the stems and wrapped them with several strips of T-shirt and used an old spool to label the gift.  I can't wait to see how many bills she tears trying to get the wire off! Mwahahaha!

Oh, and in case you're wondering...I'm not worried about ruining the surprise because mom and computers just don't mix! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up for the Last Minute Shopper

Are you a last Minute Shopper?  Hitting the grocery store gift card section on Christmas Eve?  Here's a way to spruce it up a bit and personalize your gift giving experience.  The best news is that it will cost you nothing to show the thought that you put into your gift.

First grab a magazine that you've already read and find a picture that reflects your gift recipients style, a favorite hobby, etc.  Here's what you'll need:

You'll need to cut four pieces from your magazine; two from the cover or another thick page within the magazine and two more cut from your specially selected page.  For a standard size gift card you'll want to cut your pieces 3" tall and 4 1/4" wide (for other sizes add 1" to the height and width of the gift card).  You'll also need a sewing machine for this one.

Take one of the cover pieces and place it under one of the picture pieces and fold the top edges back  about a 1/4".  Then sew a simple straight stitch across the fold, this will form the clean finished top edge of your gift card holder:

Repeat for the remaining two pieces.  Then place the two joined pieces together with the two cover pieces facing each other and sew them together using the fancy stitch of your choice.  Remember only to sew along the three remaining raw edges:

And viola, now you have a one-of-a-kind gift card holder that you can slip into the branches of the tree, add to existing gift or just give it as is.

Well, that wraps up the Weekend Wrap up for the year.  I hope you enjoyed it and took away an idea or two for trimming the waste from your holiday wrapping.  I'm pleased to say that I didn't purchase a single roll of wrapping paper, bag of bows or box of gift tags this year.  They were all hand made with my gift recipients (and the environment) in mind!

Whatever the holiday you celebrate, may it be all that you dreamed!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up: For the Football Lover

This is a fun way to wrap up a gift for the sports nut (specifically a football fan) in your life and it could cost you exactly $0.00 to pull it off.  The three "main ingredients" are:

1.  The sports section of the newspaper
2.  The drawstring from an old pair of sweat pants
3.  And a soda can (if you can find it, a Dr. Pepper NFL can)

You'll also need a pair of scissors, a sharpie, scotch tape, a hole punch, and a metal file.

 Take the newspaper and wrap your gift just as you would with expensive wrapping paper.

You'll need a gift tag, so grab a soda can that is similar in color to a football.  I happened to have a couple of limited edition Dr. Pepper cans that have the image of football laces down the side. Trace out a football shape and cut and file the shape.  If you need a more detailed tutorial on effectively cutting a soda can, check out my YouTube tutorial.

Once you've filed the rough edges of your football shaped gift tag, use a standard size hole punch to make a hole at one end.  Use your sharpie to mark the back (silver) side of the aluminum with the name of your gift recipient.  Now you can wrap the package with the drawstring, threading both ends through the hole in the gift tag. Tie the two strings together to form a knot on top of the tag.  All set for giving!

Friday, December 9, 2011

DIY Soda Bottle Snowflake Ornaments

This is a fun project for you AND the kids and it's a great way to reuse a couple of items that would have otherwise ended up in the trash or recycle bin.  Here's what we're going for:

And here's my latest YouTube video to show you how to do it.

You can cut the plastic soda bottles into any shape your heart desires but if you're set on the snowflakes, you can pick them up in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up for the Traveler in your Life

If you have someone in your life who loves to travel, you can't resist this gift wrap idea made from an old map, t-shirt and a soda can!

Here's what you'll need; an old map, aluminum from a soda can, scissors, a hole punch, a marker, crazy glue and strips cut from an old t-shirt

Once you've wrapped your gift in an old map, tie a curled piece of the t-shirt around the box.  Instructions for prepping the t-shirt strips can be found on my YouTube channel and you can always pick them up in my Etsy shop! Back to it, here's where we left off before the shameless plug:

Now for the name tag.  I've used an old soda can to fashion a gift tag that resembles a luggage tag.  Cut two rectangular shapes of the same size.  On one of them, draw a 1/4" margin on all four sides of the back side of the can. 

Then fold the can over and pinch in the center as shown below, make and X shaped cut where you pinched it.  This will give you the room you need to insert your scissors and cut out the center of the "frame."

Once you've cut your frame apply a thin layer of super glue (I love this super glue that you apply with a brush) and adhere it to the other rectangular piece of aluminum, trim the edges and punch a whole.

Now simply use a sharpie to name your recipient and tie it to the package.  You can even add a really big loopy bow made from extra strips of t-shirt that would resemble the shoelace bows that people make to identify their luggage among the sea of bags on the carousel.

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