Recycled Gifts to Warm the Heart

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Happy Sunday, all!

There is only one week left until the big holidays hit so if you still have some gifts to find, I have a few suggestions that are not only budget and environmentally friendly but also rather thoughtful. First up is a tutorial to help you make a nice new pair of warm mittens out of old sweaters:

Just think about how many mittens could be made out of some thrifted ugly sweaters!

Just think about how many mittens could be made out of some thrifted ugly sweaters!

Even if you don’t have many older sweaters to use, the second hand stores (pun intended) should have plenty in all kinds of awesome patterns. One sweater usually has enough fabric to make a few pairs of mittens OR you could use this tutorial to make a matching hat.

So now that you’ve made some gifts to keep warm outside, I think an inside warmer is in order. Let’s make sure that it’s fun and stylish, too! A tea wreath is a cute present for those tea drinkers in your life:

This may also help to get rid of some of that excess tea in the cabinets. Or is that just me?

This may also help to get rid of some of that excess tea in the cabinets. Or is that just me?

Using recycled cardboard, old clothespins, and bright paper with some colorful teabags would make a wonderful, functional decoration. Maybe tea isn’t their thing? How about music? I don’t know about you but my ear buds always get tangled or lost in my purse. I could really use something to keep them contained and I bet others could, too. This earphone holder made from a recycled mint container is just right:

Super adorable and just the right size. No more tangled cords!

Super adorable and just the right size. No more tangled cords!

I think the only issue would be mixing up mints and earphones when digging around in the carry-all. The last tutorial I have pains me a little because it requires you to cut up a book but I think the prospect of “saving” an old book from the trash is incentive enough to make this neat portable art case:

Never fear, the tutorial also includes links to further crafts you can use the pages for.

Never fear, the tutorial also includes links to further crafts you can use the pages for.

Any artist on-the-go should be well equipped with it in hand. So there we are, folks! I hope one of these at least inspires an idea or two for that hard to buy for relative. I’ve got a lot of crafting to do in the next week so I’d better get to it. See you in a week for the big day!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Stockings to be Stuffed

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Hello Sunday readers!

We now have some ornaments and wreaths that have been made out of recycled materials so to make the place even more festive, let’s make some stockings! I’ve seen a lot of tutorials on upcycling sweaters and this one is pretty straight forward:

Super cozy stockings for lots of swag.

Super cozy stockings for lots of swag.

Or how about that favorite pair of jeans that you just can’t seem to part with but have holes in embarrassing spots? Let’s make them into a festive memorial:

More pockets = more room = more treats!

More pockets = more room = more treats!

Do you still have some ties leftover from last week’s wreath project? Use them to make a matching/accenting stocking:

So colorful!

So colorful!

This last one was actually pretty near and dear to my heart. What if you have a quilt that is just so old and loved that it is literally falling apart? You don’t want to completely trash it and there is really no saving it so make part or parts of it into some beloved stockings:

Just don't pack it too full unless you line it with something heavy duty!

Just don’t pack it too full unless you line it with something heavy duty!

So now that you’ve got all of these lovely stockings to hang by the chimney with care, what if you don’t have a mantle, let alone a chimney? There is a recycled solution out there for you, too. It involves an old headboard, paint, and some pegs:

Just make sure to mount it properly otherwise there will be new holes in the wall from the weight of the loot!

Just make sure to mount it properly otherwise there will be new holes in the wall from the weight of the loot!

The whole place should be looking cheery and festive now! There’s only one more Sunday before the big day so I’ll be back next week with some recycled gift ideas.

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Put a Wreath Around It

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Greetings Sunday readers!

I promised recycled holiday goodness and I aim to please! Last week I offered up some recycled ornaments so the next progressive step to decking out the home for the holidays should be fairly easy – a wreath for the door. I had some fun finding a variety of different materials to use while just staring around the house at possibilities. The first and most obvious for me is magazines. We don’t have as many physical subscriptions as we used to but we still get enough to put some solid weight at the bottom of the recycling bin. This first DIY is one of the more time intensive ones on the list but the results are just lovely:

Gardening or floral magazines would work best but even junk mail catalogs could work!

Gardening or floral magazines would work best but even junk mail catalogs could work!

Really, you could probably just use any kind of paper you have laying around for this but I think the glossy paper in magazines give it that shiny, leafy realism. Ok so now I’ve used some of the old magazines up, what else? In the kitchen I have…corks! We don’t drink nearly the amount of wine in this house as beer but we still occasionally bring out a bottle with the evening meal. I definitely have enough to do a slightly larger wreath than this:

This would make a great gift for those wine enthusiasts in your life, too.

This would make a great gift for those wine enthusiasts in your life, too.

I keep all of the corks and bottle caps I want to save in a clear jar on the counter under the cabinets. What’s in the cabinets? I have some canning jars that were used for projects/preserving last year and they have lids. So what could be better than candy-striped canning jar ring wreaths:

We always re-buy the lids every year so I have a ton!

Remember to use a couple for those shadow box ornaments from last week, too.

I wandered into the closets at this point and thought about all of those old ornaments we had packed away that are getting replaced with handmade ones. What should I do with them? Toss them or donate them? No! Let’s make them into another wreath!

You could even ask the parents or grandparents for some of their old sets for nostalgia purposes.

You could even ask the parents or grandparents for some of their old sets for nostalgia purposes.

While in the closet, I had some of the husbands clothes brushing the top of my head and I wondered if there were some cool recycled clothing wreaths out there (of course there are). He’s not really into wearing ties so we’ve accumulated quite a few that were gifts. I think there are enough colors to do a variation on this:

If you don't have enough/any, I'm pretty sure the local thrift store does.

If you don’t have enough/any, I’m pretty sure the local thrift store does.

Whew, not only did we get some great craft ideas but it allowed me to clean out a bit! Just in time to receive more gifts and start the cycle over. Have a great week, crafters and next time we’ll try our hand at some recycled centerpieces.

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Recycling for the Season

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Hello Sunday readers!

Now that all of the turkeys have been eaten here in the US, it’s time to start gearing up for the next round of holidays. This means it’s time for some decorating! But instead of just going out and buying a whole bunch of things, what about recycling some items you may have lying around the house? Maybe you’d like to start small because it really isn’t even December yet, so how about some recycled ornaments?

First, I don’t know about you but I get a ton of holiday cards around this time of year and quite frankly, I don’t know what to do with them. I mean, I know most people don’t expect us to keep them but it seems like such a waste to throw them away. In this lovely tutorial, we are presented with an alternative to that waste that creates a lovely keepsake ornament in the process:

Festive, artsy, and responsible!

Festive, artsy, and responsible!

If you want to bump up the wow and interactive factor a bit, might I suggest this recycled card “shadow box” ornament:

A little bit of snow and 3D thrown in for more fun.

A little bit of snow and 3D thrown in for more fun.

Now I’m not one to dismantle books because of my great love for them. But if I were to “rescue” some that were bound for the bin, this Swedish-style star ornament would be the best way to keep those pages in the house:

The folds are a lot less complicated than they seem.

The folds are a lot less complicated than they seem.

Finally, I used to love puzzles as a kid but inevitably at some point, pieces would go missing. What do you do with a puzzle with missing pieces? Recycle them into ornaments, of course:

I'm sure snow or gingerbread people could also be accomplished using pieces.

I’m sure snow or gingerbread people could also be accomplished using pieces.

These were just a small fraction of recycled ornament ideas I came across in a quick search. There are plenty more, I assure you! I plan on featuring a few more recycled holiday ideas in the coming weeks so stay tuned.

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Unique Little Book Purse, DIY Style!

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Good morning, Thursday Crafters!

Today I have a nice little tutorial for you that I thought was super cool. It is all about finding a great hardback book and turning it into a purse. How, you say? Well I’ll show you. This tutorial is from Instructables, and you can find the whole thing here, though there are many tutorials that float around online.

First you need to find a book that you like. There’s a few really good places to go to find unique, hardcover books. Thrift stores will be one of your best friends as well as antique and used book stores. A lot of them are pretty cheap too, so you shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to get a super cool book to be the cover of your purse.

You will next need to remove the pages of your book. Use an exacto knife/box cutter to remove everything cleanly. If you selected a book with really cool images or you’d like to reuse your pages, there are several tutorials floating around (and maybe I’ll post another one next week) where you can use the pages as a crafting material. You will need to cut a piece of fabric of your choice in the same size as the book cover, fold the edges in 1/2 inch and iron the fold so it will stay.

Your next step (you can skip this if you’re planing on making a clutch) is to get your handles ready. At many fabric or craft stores you can buy purse handles separately. But keep in mind this isn’t your only choice. Keep your eye out in your closet for purses you don’t use anymore or you can even check out the second hand or vintage stores to see if there is anything you can easily take apart. Every set of handles is going to be different. You will basically need a way to attach your handles to your purse, so if you only have metal D rings or places for straps, you’ll need to get creative and buy/make your own (as seen above).

Glue your fabric strips to the book. You can use a glue gun, though I prefer stronger industrial adhesives (like E6000) for things like this.

You will also need to glue your fabric with the fold side down onto the cover, covering the handle straps.

Use a large piece (or a couple frankensteined small pieces, and tracet he cover of your book onto the paper, making sure to MARK both ends of the spine of the book on your paper.Measure the width of one side of the book, and draw a line that is that same length about 75 degrees from where you marked the beginning of the spine.  This angle controls how wide your purse will open.    The smaller the angle the wider your purse will open.

You will need a mirrored image on all the other sides, and you can do so by strategically cutting and folding at the centre lines so that you don’t need to keep finding angles. 🙂 When you’re finished, cut two pieces of lining fabric out of this stencil.

Next you will want to sew the angles that you made to the straight sides with the right sides facing each other. This will help to create a box-like shape for the inside of your purse.

Do the same with the second piece, and then when you’re finished, turn one of the pieces inside out (so you have a result like the photo above).

Put the right side out piece inside the wrong side out piece, and sew around the top edge.  You need leave a hole big enough for you to put hand though so that you can…

… turn it inside out! You will need to seal the hole you used to do this, so you can either slip stitch it by hand or do a neat little top stitch on your machine.

Sew some velcro into this section of the purse so you can close it (or you can improvise and glue a clasp or tie across the top of the book when it’s done… or both)

Your last step is to glue the inside pocket of your purse to your binding. And voila! You have just made a pretty cool book bag. Literally, a book that’s a bag. Love it.

Happy Crafting!

~Megan


99 Bottles of Beer…

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Hello all.

This Thursday’s post is brought is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for someone who is accident prone. There are several ways to try this DIY and I recommend this SAFE tutorial on HowChoo, but the end result will be the same. Beautifully crafted, indie label beer (or liquor) bottles that have been turned into amazing glassware.

No, I’m not joking, it’s a thing. When it’s done correctly, it’s both safe and beautiful and can also be made into gifts for… for… for any occasion, really. I’ve seen some that were crafted by artisan glass blowers at a handcrafter’s market, and they end up being such a neat gift. Now, the process to make them in the hope isn’t too difficult, but it does take a little bit of know how.

The process is all pretty simple and this is a way to do  this without using fire. You do need some specific tools for this, and please make sure you have them. You’ll need some heat resistant gloves. If you’re using oven mitts, please be careful with how you’re holding the bottle and make sure that they have grip so that you don’t lose yours. You’ll also need a bottle cutter (you can check at your local hardware store or you can find them here, here, or here), as well as a large stock pot to boil water and a tall water pitcher (that can fit your bottle plus ice).  You will also need some sandpaper (60 grit and 120 grit – so you can get a soft edge on the bottles), bike chain lubricant, or whatever your hardware specialists recommend for the bottle cutter blade), water, ice and your beer/liquor bottle.

One of the several bottle cutters that can be purchased.

So the process is simple! First, select bottles that have the labels “painted” onto the glass. If you can peel it off, it will not work. You can always find this on Corona bottles, and often micro-brewers will also often do this. They shouldn’t be too hard to find if you have a friend who loves craft beer. You should also wash your bottles before you do this so you can keep your tool clean. Use your cutter below the neck of the bottle so you can get the widest mouth for your glass. Be advised that glass cutters must be at a 90 degree angle to your glass so that it can cut properly, so make sure you’re not moving up the neck and making it more difficult to achieve this. Please follow the instructions on your glass cutter, and also use a test bottle first, so you’re familiar with using the tool.

You’ll need to “score” (make a continuous, light scratch) around the bottle and in glass cutting, the lighter the score, the better the separation, but if you score too deep, then the bottle will not separate. You also need to make sure not to go over your original mark either. As you can see, this is a fine art and it may take a couple of test bottles before you get the score you need. Your goal is to produce a continuous, barely audible scratching noise when making the cut. Apply a small amount of light oil to the cutting blade and holding the cutter securely in your hand, rotate the bottle until you’ve made one full rotation. You should hear a faint yet continuous scratching noise followed by a gravelly noise when you’ve circled the bottle entirely and ended up at the same place where you started your cut. Inspect your work: you should now see a thin, hair-like score surrounding the bottle.

Next is a hot/cold bath to use the power of science to help the scored sections separate. . The sudden temperature change will cause the bottle to separate perfectly wherever you’ve scored the glass. You need a pot of simmering water that’s large enough for the water to cover the score mark (with the bottle held upside down) and to not have too much water displaced so that it overflows. The same with your pitcher of ice water. Which should sit on the counter very close to your boiling water.

First, while wearing your protective gloves, submerge the bottle in the hot water so that the water covers the score line. Hold it for 5 seconds and then pull it out and submerge it into the ice bath for 5 seconds. Repeat these hot and cold baths until you hear a “pop” as the glass separates.  If you have done your scoring well, then it should be a smooth edge. If you haven’t it may be jagged or cracked. Please throw any of those out. They’re dangerous.

Safety is very important. You can use a deeper bowl if you need more maneuverability.

Lastly, before you can  use your fine creation, you need to make it less sharp so that you don’t cut your guest’s mouths as they drink from your masterpiece. Remember, safety first.  So here is where you will need your sandpaper. You can use the paper that came with your bottle cutter or you can use regular sandpaper.  Put some 60-grit sandpaper into a shallow bowl filled with water. Using both circular motions and rotations (like you’re putting salt on the edge of a martini glass), slowly rub the sharp edges of your new drinking utencil on the sandpaper. Always make sure you’re sanding in the water.  Sand the inner and outer lips as well – anything that will touch your lips. Sand a second time with 120-grit sandpaper to make your edges smooth so that your work of art can be used without fear of blood loss.

Image courtesy of College Envy

Also, it should be noted there are tutorials that will teach you to do this using fire. I recommend the safer method that doesn’t have the potential to burn down your building.

And voila. You can make a set for you. For your friends. For your parents. For your siblings. For me.

Happy crafting!

~Megan


A New Spin on an Old Record

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Ever since I can remember, my father has collected music. He has shelves upon shelves full of cassette tapes, 8 track tapes, CDs, DVDs, and of course, vinyl records. He’s the reason I often find myself drifting toward those stacks of lovely plastic treasure at the resale shops. It seems like I just can’t help myself! Sadly, though, there will always be some LPs that just don’t make the cut. Some are just so scratched, so warped, so beat up that that don’t play anymore. It’s probably time to let them finally have their well deserved rest, right? OR how about breathing new life into them with this amazing trend I’ve had come across my craft dashboard lately: vinyl record wall art!

The Chicago skyline on Chicago's greatest hits!

The Chicago skyline on Chicago’s greatest hits!

Some genius out there decided to upcycle some of their old vinyl and we get to reap the benefits! Whether you want to commemorate your favorite city (as pictured above) or immortalize your favorite album, there are plenty of options out there.

Now your poor copy of Thick as a Brick can live on...as a clock!

Now your poor copy of Thick as a Brick can live on…as a clock!

They aren’t limited to just bands, either. Think soundtracks or other fandoms and the possibilities are endless!

VinylArtStarWars  VinylArtLotRClock

I was very impressed with some of the fine quality art that a simple Etsy search turned up! If vintage is your type of thing, I highly recommend indulging in this super cool trend.

See you next Sunday and stay crafty!

~Laura

 

 


What About the Cork?

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Hello Thursday readers!

Since my last couple weeks’ posts were a little complicated, I decided to blog a DIY that is a little simpler and a little easier but by no means is any less cool. So if you are a wine drinker, or if you know a wine drinker – and I’ll bet a dollar that you do, then you’ll have run into the problem of the corks. Especially after a party, there’s corks lying around everywhere! I know that you have been searching for a solution to this problem since it began, but search no longer, for I bring you something awesome.

First, you need to stop throwing out your corks. That’s right, I want you to put them in a bag and start saving them.  You will need a frame, and you can either build a very simple one using wood from a hardware store, or you can find one in a second hand store or even buy one new. If you are building one from scratch, it doesn’t need to be fancy, though it can be thicker, which will change which way the corks are facing. I’m going to give you a tutorial for the easier version, with a bought/found/re purposed frame, that way, you can even feel great about recycling something. So you will need the frame, a glue gun and glue, a ruler and an exacto knife. As well as your corks.  I’ve taken this tutorial and it’s pictures from Makezine, but you can find many around the internet. I found this one had the simplicity and the recycling factor that I was looking for, so I thought I would share this one.

Your first step is to choose a frame and remove everything but the back board, which it is recommended that you glue into place so you don’t need to worry about it falling off. You will need to decide on a pattern to place your corks in. Simple and repetitive is the key. Take a look below.

Before you actually start gluing your corks, if you find that they smell of wine still and that you can smell it pretty clearly, you can treat the corks by soaking them in a mixture of water and vinegar for a couple hours, but be sure to let them dry thoroughly before using them.

Next is the fun part. You can start gluing down the corks onto the board in your pattern of choice. It’s recommended to start away from the edge as that will give you a more natural flow. Try to select shapes that work for your pattern. If you’d like to be more economical but messier, you can cut your corks in half to get more bang for your buck.

When you have fit all the full corks into your frame that you can, this is where you will need to carefully cut the corks to fit to the edge of the frame. The neater they are, the nicer it will look so don’t rush and please try not to cut your fingers off.

When you are finished you may have little globs that spilled out or that left a trail from your glue gun. Don’t worry. Just pull them off to clean it up. The corks should stay put.

Your last step, though it isn’t necessary, will help seal and make the texture of the corks more noticeable. A few coats of a clear gloss will do the trick.

And voila! You’re done. You can place this beauty in your own home or give it as a gift to someone you love very much, because you drank all that wine for this, of course.

Happy crafting!

~Megan


Recycled Suitcases…

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Hey there Thursday Readers

I found a great tutorial that I thought you might enjoy. It’s all about upcycling, but beware, it does use a little bit of hardware, though it’s quite simple and the full tutorial does a really great and thorough walkthrough for what you need to do to make it work. Here’s what I will be presenting you with today:

This can be made either into an ottoman or stool, or into a fur baby’s bed. I am really fond of using this idea for your pet, as if you travel with your dog, then you can fold this up and bring it with you to a hotel or friend’s house.  Alternatively, it also provides you with a way to store your pet’s toys and tuck the bed away.

There are 2 ways you can do this. The tutorial for ottoman/chair is a little bit more detailed, and would turn into a very long blog post. You can find detailed instructions from See Kate Sew on her blog here. See Kate Sew offers a sturdier, slightly more complicated tutorial but there’s lots of photos and details on how to get it done, even if you aren’t the most craft-minded person. The pet bed is the tutorial I’ll be presenting to you, since I think being able to close it up and tuck it away (with toys inside) is just the coolest idea ever. The full tutorial can be found here, further down the page – Variation 1. This site has 2 variations on the original so please scroll through and find one that looks good for you! FYI, this tutorial is a little simpler, and will not be quite as sturdy as See Kate Sew, so please take a look at both of them and see which one would work for you.

Your materials are relatively simple: you will need any vintage (hard shell) suitcase, tools (hammer, drill, and ribbon or strap material), 4 feet (you can use a variety of things. You can buy proper feet at a hardware store. The article recomends using something round with a flat base) Gorilla glue, or another heavy duty glue, 2 large snaps, a pillow (or stuffing) and a pillow cover.

First thing’s first – clean that suitcase! And repair any torn lining. Measure for pillow. Using a tape measure, measure the width plus the depth of bottom suitcase cavity x 2. This gives you the width of your pillow. Then measure the height (from front to back) plus the depth of the bottom suitcase cavity x 2. This gives you the height. You must add the depth of the suitcase x 2 or else your pillow will end up too small. You want a nice fluffy bed for your fur baby. You will need to add an inch to your final measurement and use a 1/2 inch seam allowance when you sew.  Use these measurements to sew your pillow cover, sewing right sides together with a small hole left for you to add stuffing. Turn your fabric right side out, add your stuffing and hand sew that small hole closed.

You can tuft your pillow at this point if you would like (see photo to the right). It’s not too difficult, and can be found on See Kate Sew’s tutorial with all kinds of photos.  Your next step is to attach the strap of your suitcase. The instructions for this are a little difficult, but you can use ribbon or a thin belt or any other kind of strap that can attach or be tied together. Basically, you will need to attach one to the back of the bottom portion of the suitcase, and one to the top so that they tie together behind the lid.  You can follow the guide in the tutorial on how to add straps with snaps, but I found this to be a little too complicated and involved than I would want to do.

You can, however, do the same thing with some strategically placed ribbon and some glue. Think of gluing two pieces – one on the inside front of each lip, where a lock would be, and then wrapping them around the lip, over the ouside of the case, and fastening at the back hinge. You can cut down a belt, you could even use a piece of fabric and some glued on velcro. You want to make something to hold the lid open so that the suitcase doesn’t close on your pet. That would be bad.  Just be aware of what you’re using and if it will allow you to pack and fully close the suitcase afterwards. Alternatively… you can keep your eyes open for a suitcase with locking hinges and avoid this step altogether.

An example of wooden legs you can buy from a hardware store. You can buy any shape, and paint them any colour!

 

Your very last step is the legs.  You can be creative this one or omit it, as you prefer. You can buy leg brackets and legs from a hardware store and screw those into the bottom (before you fasten your pillow down, if you’re going to do that), or you can find something appropriate to glue onto the bottom, if it isn’t going to be handled much. Or you can use no legs at all, it’s up to you.  Again, there’s instructions on how to use the brackets (seen below) here. It really depends on how well you work with power tools. For me? I think I would find some short legs I like from the hardware store and glue them on. If you’re going to be travelling with your bed, then you may opt to leave them out.

Leg brackets that you can find at any hardware store.

I know that was a little more involved of a tutorial, but I think your end result is something that is just so super cool, and if you’re like me who has cats, then you know how much they would enjoy lounging in a bed that used to be a box.

 

I hope you enjoyed it!

~Megan

 


An Ornamental Season

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Happy Sunday, all! I hope our US readers have done some sufficient damage on all of those Turkey Day leftovers by now. I know I still have at least one slice of pumpkin pie still stashed away in the back of the fridge (shhh, don’t tell!). With harvest time over, though, my mind always immediately flows to the next big crafty season: WINTER! Holly berries, ivy, snowmen, hot cocoa, warm flannel, and the smells of peppermint or gingerbread! Can you picture it? No matter what you celebrate in the coming month, there are bound to be some opportunities for a little crafty decorating. How about a fun start with some DIY ornament tutorials?

We’ve had our first snow here already and it was a pretty wet one, perfect packing snow. But I’d like to keep my creations around a bit longer so why not combine some whimsy with a little recycling and make some bottle cap snowmen? These cute little guys from One Artsy Momma are quick, customizable, and easy enough for the little ones to design their own:

From frosty bottles to frosty crafts!

From frosty bottles to frosty crafts!

Ok, you may have noticed those snowmen were missing a little something? A hat perhaps? How about a little more recycling fun for those with a coffee/tea habit? Snowman hats made with K-cups from Pitter and Glink:

From warm mugs to warm hats.

From warm mugs to warm hats!

Or perhaps you would like to cut down on your ribbon and bead stash while adding some holiday cheer to the place? A ribbon candy ornament from Better Homes and Gardens would be right in order:

This looks pretty enough to eat!

This looks pretty enough to eat!

If you are feeling especially ambitious, I must add my own personal favorite from Enjoying the Small Things, campfire and S’mores ornaments:

Did I say the last one looked good enough to eat? This one looks pretty scrumptious, too.

Did I say the last one looked good enough to eat? This one looks pretty scrumptious, too.

Short of the needles needed for some of the details, all of these would make great weekend projects with any of the kiddos in your life. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear some hot chocolate and holiday projects calling my name. Have a great week and I’ll see you next Sunday!

Stay crafty!

~Laura