Kaleidoscopes

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This week’s toilet paper roll reuse craft is homemade kaleidoscopes! Who doesn’t enjoy using those bright ever changing toy? I’m still fascinated with the pattern changes…even as an adult.

Supplies:
Paper roll
tape
super glue
reflective shiny paper
small translucent colored items (beads, confetti…)
two pieces of clear plastic (produce containers work well for this recycled project)

Directions:
First you will create a prism shape that will fit perfectly snug inside the tube using the reflective paper. Be sure to put the reflective side facing inward for the prism. You should measure this a few times before cutting it. Then tape the one side all along the outer seam and the inner portion as you need the whole inside of the prism to be reflective for best results. Fit the prism inside the tube. Be sure it also matches the length or is less than a 1/8 inch shorter. At the end of the prism, place one piece of plastic. Use super glue to affix it as tape will disrupt the view. Then place your colorful translucent items on top of that plastic piece. Then super glue the second plastic piece on top of that. Then move it around and just watch the patterns and colors change.

For my first attempt, my cat attacked it before I could get a final photo. I left it out too long looking like a toilet paper roll standing up. I don’t recommend that if you have pets because it is a mess I am sure I will find for days to come. In my case, for my test run, I was just going to use some randomly cut plastic and foil pieces just to try it out. However, this would be a blast to use as a party favor as kids can make their own. I am clearing out some boxes again and found birthday confetti which works perfectly for this. Also, you can always use a hole punch to create your own pieces for themed favors for showers, parties, or holidays.


Tips on tips: Piping tutorials that really help

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Good morning, crafty folks!

Have you ever seen those really adorable cakes and cookies in the bakery and thought, “Those are the coolest, I wish I could do something like that.” Chances are, YOU CAN. Just like everything, learning how to do something requires two things; desire and hard work. A lot of the time, the hard work part is just finding the right teachers to help you learn. So today, I’m going to share a few things that I’ve done in the past to learn and further hone my cake and cookie decorating skills.

I feel like I had a bit of an unfair advantage over a lot of people. My mom worked in a Hy-Vee bakery and as such, taught me some of the more basic techniques at quite a young age. But if you are starting from scratch and have no idea what to start with, your best option is to start with a decorating class. Even if you don’t learn your best in a group setting, this is the best way to get a strong base for your technique. The teacher is not only going to be knowledgeable but also probably have done this for years already. And if you live near a Joann Fabrics or Michael’s, both of these craft stores offer cake decorating classes for reasonable prices. Check with your local bakeries as well, some offer small group classes to the public and this can be a fun way to find a local bakery to support also. Groupon is especially helpful in this endeavor and you can get some really great discounts on the classes. This also will give group ticket options so if you and a friend or family member want to do something new and fun, this is a great (and delicious) option. (You get to keep the items you make/decorate). This is also a fun birthday or bachelorette party idea.

In our internet era, another really fabulous resource at our fingertips (literally, because you can do it on your phone) is YouTube. All sorts of wonderful and easy to follow tutorials are uploaded to YouTube and the best part of this (that you can’t do in a class setting) is the pause button. Having trouble figuring out that one little flick to end a buttercream leaf? You can rewind and re-watch as many times as are needed to get it is just right. This resource is the best for those of us who are very visual learners.

Then there are books and magazines. Wilton Baking Company puts out a number of step-by-step guides that are cheap, easy to follow, and you can own for repeated reference. There are also a number of popular bakers from TV shows (think the Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes’ Chef Duff) that put out cookbooks that contain great tutorials and tips.

But one of my favorite things to do is to watch the TV shows I referenced above. Things that air on The Food Network and PBS are a great way to see different techniques and get ideas for your own piping adventures. I personally always loved Ace of Cakes but they aren’t on the air anymore. Cake Boss was another great one but sometimes the best way to learn from these shows is to watch the competitions. Things like The Great British Bake-Off are wonderful teachers because they are inspiring as well. The contestants aren’t always professional bakers, which I always found to be really motivating to others who may really want to bake but think that they can’t. YOU CAN. These people are proving you can do it if you want it bad enough.

I hope that these suggestions help anyone who is on a baking journey to learn strong technique and try new things. Remember, take chances. You may end up inventing a new piping technique of your own.

~Scribe Sarah~


Art Therapy and Dealing with SAD

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Hey all!

Long time, no type. For real, though, I’m sure some of the usual suspects are wondering where I disappeared to for a couple of Sundays there. The truth is a combination of things but it all boils down to one big, annoying, unfortunately inevitable occurrence for me: seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder or SAD as it is generally called, is essentially seasonal depression. It’s something that I struggle with at about this time every year and it sucks. There are definitely some activities that can help alleviate some of the symptoms, not the least of which is art therapy. The best kinds of projects for this purpose are those that are bright and full of Spring colors as well as being something that you (for once) make for yourself. I’ve rounded up some great Spring-y things to make to hopefully get us passed these dismal and cold days.

To start, let’s turn something usually associated with the snow and cold into pretty flowers with this tutorial from A Fanciful Twist:

So bright and beautiful! Just make sure you aren’t using the cinnamon scented ones.

Just a bit of paint and a sealer and we have pinecones transformed into zinnias! Place a bowl of them somewhere in the house to give it a pop of color and hopefully bring in a hint of Spring. We can also combat some of the doldrums of late Winter with the scents of the upcoming thaw. This DIY Lavender sachet tutorial from Live Simply is just the thing:

Also great for using up some scrap fabric!

If you have a favorite scent, almost any potpourri can be used as a stuffing. Put them in your dresser or in the pockets of any favorite pieces of clothing in your closet for a reminder that the dark doesn’t last forever. Ok, so now we have something pretty to look at, something great to smell, but what about something to make us feel better? I don’t know about you but winter also dries out my skin like crazy. Scribe Sarah’s been providing a bunch of fantastic DIY body care recipes so you can certainly prowl the archives for relaxing (and fragrant) bath salts or face masks. I, however, am talking about a great DIY body butter recipe (also by Live Simply, funnily enough):

If you have a collection of essential oils, this is the place to let them shine, so to speak.

Body butter is rich and lasts much longer than what we would consider traditional lotion. I love to customize scents and have some kind of control over the ingredients I’m smearing on my sensitive skin. Lastly, how about something to just lift your spirits? Something whimsical and fun like this simply adorable fleece unicorn pillow tutorial from Bugaboo City:

I guarantee this will be appearing on our own couch in due time.

If only to remind yourself that you, too, are one of a kind and fabulous, you need this in your dwelling. Hopefully one of these little projects will start to lift you out of the funk. If not, there are actually some very practical tips for fighting the effects of SAD, the best of which is purchasing a lamp made just for this purpose. SADlamps.org has a wonderful list of comparisons for effectiveness and cost. If you still find yourself feeling down in the dumps around this time, I highly recommend a trip to your doctor/therapist. This is a real issue that affects many people during this time period and it could even require some Vitamin D supplements so don’t wait to find some help! For more info on SAD symptoms and treatments, please check out this article by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Now, to wrap up, I did promise a tutorial some time back and now that I’ve taken some steps to combat my SAD, it will appear in the near future. Until then, expect some bunny laced posts since Easter is fast approaching.

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


February Fab Hop Shop

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Have you discovered the Fab Hop Shop yet?

FabShop Hop

 

The concept behind our virtual shop hop is exactly the same as taking a fabric shopping trip by car. On our “virtual” shop hop, however, you’ll leave the car in the garage and can even shop in your jammies! You will have a month to get around to over 100 of the sites to find the “YouFoundIt” Bunnies to qualify to win prizes. There are 12 hops scheduled for 2018.

Tour all the shops participating in the February FabShop Hop!At each site, search for the white bunny with the red and pink background that says ‘You Found It!’ February 1-28, 2018. When you find it; click on the image and complete the prize registration page – enter your email address and click the “register for prizes” button. Once you have done that you will receive an email confirmation that you successfully registered at that site. Then continue shopping on that site or hop to the next one on the List of Shops.

The best part of the Shop Hop other than winning prizes?  The free quilt patterns!

Happy Hopping!


DIY : Upcycled Concrete Vases

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Good morning, Thursday readers!

I have a special love in my heart for upcycling projects. I love the ability to make something old new again, even if it’s a completely different purpose you never would have thought of.  This project is probably not one I would do myself, given my lack of working space, but I think it’s super cool. These vases can be made from old bottles – glass or plastic, and boy do they look awesome. The original article can be found here posted by Brit.Co, who always has some great and unique diy projects.

You will need some tools and supplies: Commercial grade countertop mix in grey and white (you can ask at your local hardware store), plastic or glass bottles with caps, and some pens, candles or test tubes. As for tools, you’ll need a cordless drill, a box cutter and 7 inch diagonal pliers.

If you’re using plastic, you can cut the bottom off to create a large hole to work with, but with glass ones, only use bottles with a wide mouth. Start by drilling a hole in the caps of bottles large enough to hold your hole making device (the pen, test tube or candle) as this will leave a space in the inner chamber for these to be useful vases. Screw the caps back on with the piece inside.

Mix the concrete according to the manufacturers directions. You can use a mixture of different colours if you like as this tutorial used white and grey. For glass bottles, you want it to be a little runnier since the mouths are small and concrete is hard to pour. You next want to fill the bottles, and remember, you will be pouring overtop of your internal space maker. It will be messy. Prepare accordingly with drop sheets and outside spaces.  Tap and shake the bottles to remove air bubbles. If they have caps, screw them back on and let them sit for at least 24 hours, up to 4 or 5 days if you used a glass bottle.

When the concrete is dry and set and you’ve left none of that part to chance, if your bottle is plastic, you can cut away the plastic carefully with your box cutter and pliers. Though it’s concrete, it’s still fragile right now so you’ll have to be careful. If you used a glass bottle, break the glass with a hammer very carefully, and by tapping lightly. If you’re using glass, again, safety first so goggles, drop sheets, outdoor areas, etc.

Remove the caps. If you used a plastic pen or candle to create the inner chamber,  apply heat before removing. If you used a test tube, you can crush it with your pliers and pour out the fragments – by the way. I’ve seen test tubes at craft and dollar stores, so this might be a little easier. Level the bottoms with the knife if you need to, and then you might want to let them sit another day or two if you’re planning anything else with them.

You can add them to your home decor as is, or you can decorate them by painting them partially, or maybe sculpting into the concrete. Dealer’s choice, of course. Be creative!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and happy crafting!

~ Megan


Fun Kids’ Paper Crafting

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This week I hand a brainstorm about things that I save and have several stockpiles of for my post this week.   After playing around in the craft room and throughout the entire home, it dawned on me just how many toilet paper rolls I still accumulate even when give some to my bird to use as a shredding toy.  That being said, I have several crafts so I will highlight one or two for the next few weeks.  These are fund and most items can be found around the home or in a decent craft supply stash you have already.

The first one is came to me as I hung outside with my parrot enjoying the nice weather on the balcony.   With a temporary (although wishing it was long-term) warm up in temperatures, the birds are back in the area and now looking for food.   So for today, the first item is a bird seed holder.

Supplies:
Paper roll (toilet or paper towel will work but make sure they have very little or preferably no glue on them)
Appropriate bird seed – please be sure to check with animal store for a proper seed for the animals in your area
Peanut butter (I’d recommend creamy for ease)
string

Directions:
Lay a decent amount of seed on a plate or cookie sheet to ensure the roll can completely roll around width and length wise. Cover the paper roll with a thin layer of peanut butter. You don’t need a lot but enough to ensure the seed sticks to the roll. Now, you roll the paper roll around in the seed to ensure that it is completely covered on the exterior of the roll. Once it has set, I left mine for about 4 hours just because I had plenty of things to do around my home and lost track of time, I place a piece of string that was long enough to hang it from a tree near my balcony door.


Be sure wherever you decide to hang it to account for sleeping locations and “pest” factor. Also, please take into consideration any rules or regulations where you live when it comes to feeding birds. Some birds are considered pests and can’t be fed based on regulations. It was an issue where I used to live while my current area of residence is a nature preserve so it helps make sure birds are fed when in our area.

The second craft today, is a fun little one that I had seen when hanging out with my nephew a few years back. He was big into dinosaurs and dragons. His preschool teacher tried to ensure to engage her students throughout the day with fun activities all the time and this craft was a favorite…and required frequent restocking of toilet paper rolls in their house as a result. Luckily, all of his aunts and uncles kept his parents supplied with them so no crazy stuff happened as a result. This craft is a dragon mouth!

Supplies:
Construction paper- whatever color(s) you want the dragon to be
Tissue paper- colors should resemble flames (red, orange, yellow)
Scissors
Glue (I’d recommend some stronger glue than regular stick or kids glue for one portion of this)
pom poms
googgly eyes
Toilet paper rolls (or paper towel roll cut in half)

Directions:
First measure a piece of construction paper to cover the entire exterior of the paper roll. Glue that piece in place. Draw two black spots to be the air holes or glue small pompoms for the nose at one end of the tube. Go ahead and glue pom poms for the eye pop outs at the other end. I used a medium size pompom for this. Then I added the googly eyes on top of them looking out over the other end of the tube. Last, but not least, add streams of tissue paper in different colors to resemble flames. Tape or glue these to the end of the nose end on the inside of the tube. When you blow through the tube, it will look like the flames are shooting out.

As I wrote up these instructions out though, it dawned on me there is an alternate way of doing this. You can do a unicorn as well by adding a cone above the eyes closer to that end of the tube. The flames can then be more rainbow colored and it looks like they are blowing a rainbow for their friends. Just a thought since the unicorns are all the rage. Let your child go nuts and have fun!


Baking Tip: The Importance of a Trial Run

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Good morning, Crafty Hackers!

This week I wanted to focus on my love of baking. Last week, my office had a pre-Valentine’s Day Bake-off Contest. I love contests like this for two reasons; first reason, you get to eat a bunch of yummy treats that you might not have otherwise had the opportunity to try. Second reason, you have an excuse to try new recipes.

I sat down with a stack of my newer cookbooks, flipping through to find the recipe I wanted to enter to our contest. I decided on a recipe for “Unicorn Poop Cookies” from Rosanna Pansino’s cookbook, Nerdy Nummies (of which you can obtain a copy here if you are interested). I thought it would be a fun and funny entry to the contest (would make people laugh and would stand out), but more importantly, it appeared to be a simple, easy recipe. Well, while it wasn’t a difficult recipe to follow, it did remind me of why it is always important to do a trial run of a recipe first.

To start, this recipe was a simple cream cheese sugar cookie recipe so it wasn’t hard or expensive to make. What it was, though, was TIME-CONSUMING. Having never made cream cheese sugar cookies before, I didn’t know that the dough was not as tough as a roll-out cookie dough. Had I just been making the standard, base recipe, this would not have been a problem. But to craft these cookies into “unicorn poop,” there were several steps that required multiple rounds of chilling in the refrigerator. Had our contest been on a Monday, I could have used all the Sunday prior to make these and would have had plenty of time for all the steps. But, alas, our bake-off was on a Tuesday and I didn’t get home from work on Monday night until around 5:30 pm. Long story slightly less long, the cookies didn’t even go into the oven until about a quarter after 10 pm. I had pre-read the recipe but didn’t put together in my head how long the process might actually take.

Secondly, the recipe only ended up making 12 cookies. TWELVE. For an office of about 35 people. A trial run of the recipe would have shown how big those cookies ended up being and that minimizing the amount of dough used in the “shaping the poop” step would have yielded more cookies. They also would have baked better if smaller. I noticed that a number of the cookies were still just a bit doughy in the center.

Finally, while the cream cheese sugar cookies were tasty, they were also rather blasé. A test run would have given me an opportunity to taste-test first and decide on little tweaks to the recipe. For example, next time I make this recipe, I’d like to try adding a touch more vanilla extract and some nutmeg to add a little more flavor and pop.

When it comes right down to it, this whole thing was a learning experience but I could have had the lesson, applied what was learned and still won that contest. So next time, I plan to plan ahead and make a test batch first. Who wants to be my taste-testers?

“Piece” out, Crafty Bakers!

~Scribe Sarah~


The Wyrmwood Adventurer’s Arsenal

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Wyrmwood is back with another Kickstarter!

The Adventurer’s Arsenal is the latest modular tabletop gaming system from Wyrmwood, and we designed it to be the perfect companion for players of role playing games.

All three components of the Adventurer’s Arsenal are available in our beautiful line of domestic and exotic hardwoods, with pricing determined by your wood selection.

Want to see more?  Head over to their Kickstarter to take a look!

-Toni


DIY: T-Shirt Rug

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers!

I came across this tutorial and loved it because it reminds me of old rugs that grandparents had and it is a great way to upcycle your old tshirts. The original tutorial can be found here at My Poppet and your supplies are pretty minimal. I’ve posted some pictures here but be sure to visit the original tutorial for lots of other shots!

So, to prep, you’ll need to cut your t-shirts into 2″ strips to make into “yarn”. If you are mixing thinner and thicker fabrics, cut the thinner t-shirts into wider strips so that they will be a little more substantial. Here is a tutorial to follow if you have not made t-shirt yarn. And roll your yarn into balls. You can absolutely make a ball of yarn per t-shirt.

Work with the yarn like you would braid some hair. You can choose if you want to braid and sew the rug as you go, or if you want to finish all the braiding before you sew. To start and change colour you can either sew your strips of fabric together or use a no sew option of making a little hole in one strip and looping the other colour through.

When you’re braiding, think about how you want the rug to look – for solid bands of colour, two of the three strands of braid should be the same or similar colour. If you want a more random look, you can do whatever combination you like.

You can sew a circular or oval rug. For circular, start rolling from one end. For oval, circle around a straight length of your braid. The initial length will determine the final shape, so adjust accordingly. When you lay out and sew your rug, run the new braids clockwise around the rug so that you will always have a small piece of fabric in the space underneath your machine. Start sewing where the arrow is pointing (see photo) and use the widest zig zag stich and a medium stitch length.

Push together the edges of the braid and use the zig zag stitch to hold them to each other. When you get to the first turn (the first end), loop the braid around, and tuck the start of the braid underneath and sew around it to fasten the end. Continue sewing around until you have the size that you like!

Finally, to finish off the rug, just tuck the end under and sew it so that it will be held in place.

And there’s a lovely tshirt rug and it’s a great way to use some old clothing.

Happy crafting!

~Megan

 


Shelf Life of Your Homemade Products

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Good morning, Hackers!

I have posted a lot about DIY and homemade products like bath salts and body scrubs, but I want to stress in today’s post that these products are made from natural materials. Unlike those store bought products, natural ingredients and can and will go bad so, for your health (and the health of anyone you sell or give your products too), it is important to understand what the shelf life of your products will be.

Today, I’m going to focus on two things that can affect your products. The first is mold and bacteria. We all know about these lovely little buggers because we all have bathrooms and no matter how meticulous you want to be about cleaning it, somehow, mold still occurs. That is because water is present. There is nothing mold likes more than moisture.

If you are making products that have water present in them (like lotions or emulsified scrubs), mold and bacteria are likely to occur. In this instance, a preservative should be used. There are a number of preservatives that you can buy to add to your product but if you want to stay as natural as possible in your product, there are two things you need to help preserve you product; antimicrobial preservatives and antioxidants. Coconut oil is an antimicrobial as is the carrier oil apricot kernal seed oil. There is some debate on if grapefruit seed extract is an effective preservative due to the revelation a few years back that most grapefruit seed oils contained other, harmful products. As with anything, be sure you know what you are using/buying. Read the labels, ask questions, sometimes you might even want to call the company that produces the product to find out what may not be listed on the label.

Antioxidants like vitamin E and rosemary oil extract are also great things to add to your products not just for the mold/bacteria repelling properties but because they are good for your skin. Just remember that if your product has food in it, like avocado, a preservative is not going to prolong the shelf life of the product. Make these types of things in small amounts that can be used well within the few days shelf life of this type of product. And remember to refrigerate these types of products or they’ll just go bad all the faster.

The second thing you want to be aware of is rancidity. A lot of people think that bacteria and something being rancid are the same thing but they are not. Your product can grow mold and bacteria at ANY time (because of the water). However, if you use a preservative to prevent mold/bacteria in your product, that product can still go rancid. Rancidity doesn’t necessarily mean your product isn’t safe to use, it just means that the benefits of the natural products may have depleted. (Mold and bacteria on the other hand, DO make the product unsafe and you should chuck it out immediately if you find mold.)

So now you’re probably asking yourself, “how do I know when I should use a preservative and when I don’t have to?” Just remember the water. Anything that doesn’t have oils, butters, waxes, etc in it but is a cream or lotion should have an preservative. Basically, creams, lotions, toners, moisturizers, emulsions…those need preservative. Things like lip balms, salves, ointments, body and facial oils, oil-based body butters… those do not require a preservative.

You can also extend the shelf life of your products by following a few simple steps in your making and storing process. Use clean, sterilized containers and tools, use distilled of boiled water (or water substitutes), and store your products in dark or opaque containers in a cool, dry place.

Making your own products can be fun and easy and safe when you understand what to watch out for.

Stay safe and healthy, Hackers!

~Scribe Sarah~