DIY Covered Bulletin Board

When I shop at our local thrift stores, I will often find really cheap artwork that either has no glass or damaged somehow.  Mostly really ugly artwork.  But, the frames can really be in good shape, and that’s what I look for.  I bought one for $4.99 maybe and it’s approximately 2 foot by 3 foot.

You can really do a lot with these.   I decided to make a bulletin board covered in a cool funky fabric.  Chevron is in style so I picked some up at Hobby Lobby, and used a 40% off coupon, maybe costing $4.00 in the end.  The rest is just a bit of labor and assembly.

I first pulled off the paper backing to reveal the staples that held it all together.  Usually you will find some cardboard that fills the frame, behind the artwork.  This is what I glued the cork to (also purchased the cork at the craft store).  There are different thicknesses, I went with the 3/8th inch thickness.  I glued the cork directly to the cardboard backing.

I had to iron the fabric because it had creases.  I wrapped it around the cork and left about a 1.5 inch margin, enough to glue it to the back.   I don’t have a glue gun yet, so I used Aleenes Craft glue and used the paperclips to hold it down until dries.

chevron

Then, just fold the corners so they look nice, this is optional.   Assemble  the cork inside the frame, and push back the staples so it’s secure.  I will need to mount some hooks to the back, then all done.

Probably a total cost of $15 tops, I got a cool inspirational board.  Now I have a tough decision on where to put it.

Polka Dot Homemade Cards

I attempted to go to pick up a card yesterday at Zandbroz, a downtown unique store.  I totally forgot that there was a St Patty’s Day parade going on.  Luckily, I realized this before I got too close because it would have been a headache getting out of there.  So I didn’t get to pick up my card, so I decided I would just make one.

I always have random envelopes laying around, which is a requirement for card making.  Everything else can be improvised.  I just found some art paper, then pulled out all of my stamps, ink and other such materials that I could use for a card.

I decided to create a texture on white paper instead of using a printed paper.  I pulled out some bubble wrap and made the background as my jumping off point.

polka dots

The rest of the stuff just sort of fell into place.  I created some flowers from my homemade paper.  Used some wire from my jewelry making for the stems.  Jewelry to come in the future.  Then some ribbon that I had laying around finished it off.  Turned out beautiful, I think.  I like that you can use just random materials to create a beautiful project.

card

What other materials besides bubble wrap could you use to create a texture for cards?

1.  Foam

2.  Doilies

3.  Tree bark

4.  Leaves

5.  Flowers

6.  Loofah

7.  Fabric with texture or denim

8.  Eraser on end of pencil

9.  Screen Mesh

10.  Old carpet scraps

11.  Corncobs

12.  Lace

13.  Buttons

You get the picture.  There is inspiration everywhere.  You can make your own card with just about anything laying around!

Homemade Facial Scrub

As long as I remember, I have had terrible skin.  I have battled acne since I was a teenager.  Now 30, I am still battling it.  I have taken all sort of prescriptions over the years that has made me dizzy, left me with horribly dry skin and some just didn’t work.  I think dermatologists lied to me.  They always said that sugar and pizza won’t give you acne.  I think it does.  I have cut back on sugar for weeks and my skin improved.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was better.  Great skin comes from the inside.  It’s what you eat and drink that affects your skin.  There are other factors that play a role in skin health.  My hormones will bring about blemishes sometimes too.

I have found that having a good scrub works.  It gets rid of the dead skin cells that can clog your pores.  I made this scrub today to see if it will help.  It has only 2 – 3 ingredients so it is really easy to make.  I made a single serving to see if it will work, but you can quadruple the batch and give away as gifts.

Here is what you will need:

Crystallized honey

Olive Oil

Essential oil (optional)

mask

1.  I used some honey that I have had for a long time and has naturally crystallized.  This would make a great scrub so I wouldn’t need to add sugar crystals for the exfoliate ingredient.

2.  I added 3 parts honey to 1 part olive oil in a small bowl.  Use a fork to mix well.  Then just add a drop of essential oil if you want.

mask2

3.  Then apply.  Before I apply this scrub, I am going to rest a warm cloth over my face to open my pores.  After a few minutes, I will apply the mask.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Then use warm water to remove.

4.  Give away your extras as a great gift for your favorite lady friends.

*Honey is a great antibacterial and speeds healing of blemishes and olive oil is a great antioxidant which helps prevent cell damage and also has soothing properties.

Homemade Paper Hearts

The blog about paper butterflies was a popular post.  I was wondering if we could make anything else sort of like that.  And I came up with paper hearts.  It basically follows the same steps as the paper butterflies, but you just need half of the butterfly and you just pinch the bottom and round the corners.

I wanted to use red magazine pages, since hearts are red.  You can make these of any size.  It is actually much easier to hang too.

What you will need:

Scrap Magazines

Scissors

Glue

Ribbon

You want to follow the same instructions from the DIY Paper Butterflies.  They are created almost the same way with one less step.

1.  Cut a diamond shape from the magazine, then fold the pages like a fan.

2.  Fold it length-wise, then put a line of glue down the center of the heart, add ribbon on top of the glue, then press together for a moment until the glue adheres.

3.  Fan out the “fan” a bit in order to round the tops of the hearts.

4.  Hang where ever you wish.

Make sure to cut different size hearts, and hang them at different heights for interest.

The picture above is blurry because my kitties thought it would be a fun toy.

One of my friends borrowed me her sewing machine!  I look forward to creating lots of cool things while I have it.  The first thing is t-shirt bags.  Hope you will check in again soon!

Saved From the Trash

Last week was Fargo’s designated Spring Clean Up week.  Our city gives us one week to put whatever we want to get rid of on the boulevard, besides hazardous wastes.  We had a few things that needed to go.  Stuff that was just so run down and trashed that no one would want.  Or so we thought.  You would be surprised what was picked up.  A fridge was the first thing to go.  Gone in about 30 minutes.  Granted it still worked (it was a friend’s and I did ask the husband if we could use a working fridge for our garage) but no one else knew that it still worked.  Also some blinds were taken, the really old fashioned kind.  Ones that were missing a few pieces.

I am a proud boulevard shopper.  I like to look around at what people throw out because you don’t know what will be useful/valuable for you.  I found a good quality desk chair and a laundry basket in good condition that we use frequently.  I am a bit picky with what I take since my husband just thinks it will end up as clutter.

We were putting stuff out and we contemplated putting out these 4 prints that were from the same artist.  I had been with my husband over 9 years now and 5 moves we never had these pictures hanging on the wall.  They were stored in our garage so naturally they got really dirty and dinged up.  I never really looked them over too well until this spring clean up.  I couldn’t throw them away.  I thought I could clean them up and donate them.

I thought once I started cleaning them up I would be disappointed.  On the contrary, I was surprised at what a little patience and cleaner could do to these prints.  Even though they have been in storage for a good decade, there wasn’t any smudges on the prints themselves or on the matting.  I shined them up and put them back together.  The glass was broken on one of the 4 prints so I am going to Hobby Lobby to find a replacement piece.  I am so happy I kept them.  I already know where I am going to hang them.

I love being able to save stuff from being thrown out.  I was a little sad that I didn’t collect as much stuff as I wanted during spring cleaning week.  Next year I will make a harder push to get what I want from the boulevard even if my husband thinks it’s clutter.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

I hate buying vanilla extract.  It is so expensive and you only get a small amount.  Since I like to save money I found a recipe for making my own at home.  All it requires is vanilla beans, vodka, an air tight container and time.  I found some reasonably priced vanilla beans at beanilla.  They have a great assortment of varieties.  I went with the Madagascar Vanilla Beans because a friend told me they were the best.  It really only took about 4 days to receive too.

I purchased 10 beans because it had the best value.  I ordered half for myself and half for my friend.  For this recipe I used 5 vanilla beans.  This is what you need to do to make your own vanilla extract.

Find a container to store it in.  I found an old fashion mason jar.  Even a cleaned out wine bottle would work.  Make sure it’s good and clean.

Cut the vanilla beans in half length wise.  Then use a kitchen scissors to cut them down the middle, to expose the vanilla.

Put them into the container and fill with vodka.  At SimplyRecipes, my inspiration for this recipe,  they use 3 vanilla beans and added 1 cup of vodka.  For me, I had to use a little algebra to figure out I would need 1.666 cups of vodka for my 5 beans.

Then store them in a cool dark place.  I put them in a cabinet in my laundry room.  Make sure to give it a shake every once in a while.  After a couple of months it will be ready.  You will have a dark brown extract ready to bake with.

Add more vodka every so often to keep up a good supply.  I will update this blog as it starts to darken.  I look forward to saving lots of money with this recipe and using my own vanilla.  Not only do I save money, but I reduce waste.  The cap to the vanilla bean extract I purchase in the store is not recyclable.  Making my own helps me to reduce waste.

*Updated 7/15/2012.  Vanilla is now ready to use.  It didn’t take long for it to get this dark brown color, but I wanted to give it extra time to infuse into the vodka.

 

DIY Cherry Cordials

I didn’t make as many gifts as I would have liked this Christmas, but I am going to dedicate a large portion of 2012 in making my own gifts for next year.  However, I did have difficulty finding gifts for my mom this year but I remembered she used to always have a box of Queen Anne’s cherries in her fridgerator.  I decided to give making my own a try this year.   I found a recipe that I thought was at my culinary skill level and got busy.
First the recipe; courtesy of veronicascornucopia.com

2 (10-oz) jars maraschino cherries (you’ll need 40-50)
¼ c butter, softened
2 ¼ c powdered sugar
1 T reserved cherry juice
½ t vanilla extract
¼ t almond extract
1 (12-oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cake paraffin wax, shredded OR 2 T vegetable shortening

*I replaced the chocolate chips and shortening with Baker’s Chocolate.

First step is to get the cherries out of the juice.  I drained it with a colander and saved the juice.  (Do not rinse) I plan on using the cherry juice for something else.  Possibly cherry infused vodka or brandy for another gift.  I placed the cherries then on a paper towel to rid the excess juice.  This helped when wrapping the fondant around them.

In the meantime, cream the butter with 1 cup of the powdered sugar, then add 1 T reserved cherry juice, the extracts, and the remaining sugar; stir until mixed. You may have to knead it with your hands as it will be firm like dough.  I ended up adding about another tablespoon of non-butter (the kind in the tubs) to give it a dough like consistency as I kneaded it.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Take small pieces of fondant, about 1 or 2 teaspoons, and press them flat on your palm. Wrap around the cherries, pinching off the excess before rolling them smooth and placing on the wax paper. Repeat until all cherries are covered with the fondant. Set in the freezer until well chilled. I did this step a day in advance and proceeded with the dipping the following day, so they were frozen hard.

Melt the Baker’s chocolate until smooth. Dip each cherry in the chocolate using a fork, drawing fork across rim of pan to remove excess coating. Drop coated cherry upside down onto waxed paper, swirling a thread of coating from fork across top for a decorative touch.  Once all are coated, place in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set; check bottoms and reseal with additional melted coating, if necessary. You want every part of the fondant covered or it will start to leak out as it liquefies.  Store in a cool place (do not refrigerate) for 2 weeks to form cordial.

I tried mine about 5-6 days after making them and they were not ready yet.  Make sure you give them enough time to liquefy.

Place in a nice tin with tissue paper.  No other wrapping needed.  You don’t want to use wrapping paper that will just get thrown away, do you?  This year I ended up doing all of my wrapping with reused wrapping paper from previous years, bags or tins like for these delicious treats.  Everything can be reused or repurposed.  Hope you all had a Merry “Green” Christmas!

Homemade Magnetic Board – Versatile Gift

My inspiration for this project is a cute little magnetic board that I have at work.  It is a 5×7 size photo frame wrapped in metal and it came with cute magnets.  My friend really wanted one and I couldn’t find where I could purchase one.  So I decided to make one.

Step 1:  Purchase a picture frame.  In order to be green I bought one at the local thrift store, and this one was already damaged.  Who would buy it anyways?  Cost $2.99

Step 2:  Demolition.  You have to take it apart to make it pretty.

Step 3: Voilà.  Not done yet!

Step 4:  Prime.  I used a low VOC primer so it’s more earth friendly.  However, it does still stink.  I primed because the frame was glossy and I wanted my final paint to stick.  Sorry for no picture.  But you didn’t really need a picture exactly as above but in white, did you?

Step 5:  Cut metal to fit frame.  I bought a piece at Home Depot about 12 x 20 inches.  Larger than the frame but not too huge for the trunk of my car.  When you buy metal make sure to pick a metal that is magnetic.  I bought iron.  I also brought in a magnet just to be sure.  I cut the metal with tin snips that I had on hand.  Jagged edges = beware!

Step 6: Iron the fabric.

Step 7:  Cut fabric so there’s enough to wrap around the metal.  I also taped the cut edges of the metal so it wouldn’t cut the fabric after it was all assembled.

Step 8: Glue the fabric to the metal.  This took the longest because I had to wait for the glue to dry before I started the opposite side.  I am a bit of a perfectionist so I folded down the edges so you can’t see any fabric fray.  Tip: This is awesome glue.  I wanted something industrial for the magnets, that I also made for this project, but also that I could use to glue the back of this metal.   It’s low VOC glue and it dries fast.  I couldn’t even smell it.  Awesome purchase.  I remember in my interior design classes we had to buy this 9000 crap which you had to use a gas mask for.  Awful stuff.  Not this!  Two thumbs up!

Sometime between Step 4 and Step 9 you have to paint the frame the color of your choice.

Step 9: Assemble gift.  Just put the frame back together.  Minus the glass.  I also painted the back to this so it looked professionally made.  See the cute magnets?  They are just buttons glued to strong magnets I purchased at the craft store.

My friend who is receiving this gift loves the color blue, so I had to pick a fabric just for her.  You can also personalize this by different size frames, different fabrics and even stamp on some letters to be specific to the receiver.  Your friends will love the homemade-ness of this gift.  I think a boy may even like this!  Pictures of cars and girls I would suppose.