DIY Homemade Paper

I have always wanted to make homemade paper.  There are so many things you can make with paper, and what a wonderful way to reduce garbage from going into the landfill.  In my case, the past couple of years I took about 10 bags of used Christmas
wrapping paper to use just for this purpose.  My whole intention is to make a butt load of paper.  I found some great sources to guide me along in my journey of becoming a paper-maker.  But instead of going there, follow my easy instructions with photos here!

Materials:
Waste Paper
Blender
Water
Wood Frame
Screen
Roller
Food coloring (optional)
Racks (optional)

Step 1:  Collect paper.


Step 2.  Get rid of tape. I’m not sure if taking off the tape does anything but common senses makes me think that it’s a slippery surface and if left intact the final paper product may not stay together.

Step 3:  Cut into small pieces.  Easier to stuff in a blender.

Step 4:  Fill the blender about 1/2 to 2/3 water and start adding paper.  I add a handful at a time because if you add too much it could make the pulp too dry, and cause your blender to stall.  If it get’s too dry, just add more water.

Tip:  Collect brightly colored paper that can’t be recycled (at least in our city) and add to your blender to add color.  By adding a teal envelope to my pulp I ended up getting light blue finished product.

Step 5:  Prop the screen over a surface that’s okay to get wet.  I put mine over the ledge of the tub.  I have a handy hand sprayer to help me clean up the mess.  Over a sink would do just fine.  I found an old window screen on the boulevard during spring clean up.  No purchase necessary.  I used some tulle because I though the holes on the screen would be too big.

Tip: You can buy wood frames made for making a canvas at a craft store, then buy screen and staple around the frame.  I have had trouble finding screen in my town so I used a window screen that I had on hand.

Step 6:  Dump pulp over the screen.

Step 7:  Lay a towel on top of the pulp.  In my case I used an old Tshirt that was destined for the garbage anyways.  (this blog is about being green, reducing waste :))

Step 8:  Roll out the excess water with the roller, this also flattens it.

Step 9:  Gently lift screen off sink, holding the towel/t-shirt steady to release from screen.  Once dry enough, lift paper off towel/old T-shirt.

Step 10:  Place on rack to dry quicker.  Once dry, place under heavy books to flatten.


Some things you can make with this paper.  Stationary, gift tags, cards, use in scrap-booking and ornaments.  I intend on blogging about what I make with my homemade paper once I accrue enough.  So please come back!  See you soon!

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.