Small Kitchen? Maximize Your Space!

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Happy Monday, friends! First off, I apologize for my absence. Had a bit of a family emergency but everything is looking better now. So I’m back to provide you with some fun ways to organize your kitchen!

I’m going to brag for a moment. I have been blessed to live in a lovely, LARGE and affordable apartment in Chicago-land. There really is only one thing I don’t like about it and that is the size of the kitchen. I love to bake and am getting more into cooking as I age so the lack of counter space has been a real challenge for me. There is also fairly limited storage space. Because of this, I am always looking for ways I can make the most out of the least space.

One problem with my storage is that I LOVE coffee cups; the geekier, the better (which explains my absolute and total adoration of the lovely HandPainted Nerd whom I’ve featured on this very blog). But I find I am running out of room in my cabinet for all my pretties. Some of the mugs are larger than standard size too. So when I saw this wall mount, I thought, “What a gorgeous idea!” Not only would this clear up some cabinet space but it also creates some awesome decoration for my blank walls in the dining area and puts all my beautiful mugs on display.

I also don’t have a lot of under the sink space and this is where I keep both my garbage can and recycle bin (so my HeloKitteh can’t get into them). Right now, I have sponges, scrub brushes and extra rubber gloves along with bottles of cleaning solutions just sort of strewn about under there. However, with some adhesive hooks and plastic baskets attached to the insider of the cabinet drawers, all those sponges and gloves can be put in one, easy-to-reach spot and never get lost in the bowels of the under-sink. Using an adjustable curtain rod can give you a place to hang those bottles out of the way. Doing this allows me space to put my dish drainer under the sink when not in use and opens up a bit more counter space.

One other thing I struggle with is where to put my fruits and veggies. Sure, some of them go into the fridge but the majority don’t require refrigeration so they end up on my one already small counter top.

This is where the wonderful ModernMomLife comes to the rescue. This tutorial walks you though an easy and inexpensive way to get your produce up off the counter. And it looks great too!

But what about those fruits and veggies in the fridge? Some of our readers my have gorgeous new appliances with crisper drawers and the like. My fridge is older than God so it’s pretty much just wire racks. Solution? Office supply store! Plastic desk organizers can be re-purposed into your very own fridge separation and organization.

 

 

The other thing that takes up a lot of space in my kitchen are my baking and cooking supplies; namely the baking sheets, muffin tins, and pots & pans. Now, the pots and pans can nest and for the most part, don’t take up a lot of room. But those lids…there’s just no easy way to stack them. So I say, don’t even try! You can hang a magazine rack or even a metal towel rung onto the insides of your cabinet doors or a wall in the kitchen and just slide them onto it. For the cookie sheets and muffin tins, a simple wicker basket from Target will suffice and you can mount a floating shelf on a door (if you have high ceilings like me) to store it out of the way.

              

There are always very simple and easy solutions to maximizing your storage space. I hope today’s blog helped someone out there to really open up their kitchen.

Happy Organizing, people!


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


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

 


Light Bulb Ornaments

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It’s just another Manic Monday, fellow crafters! The last one before Christmas Day! So I thought I would focus on the holiday that is quickly approaching.

If you celebrate Christmas, you no doubt have had at some point in your life, a Christmas tree. And you probably were really excited to decorate it too, right? Except ornaments (like so much else during this holiday nowadays) can end up costing you quite a bit of moola. And that’s money you could be spending on presents for your loved ones. But you don’t have to sacrifice your decor just so you can put presents under that tree. If you have old burned out light bulbs, you can decorate with your own personal flair. Heck, you can do what store bought ornaments don’t always allow and customize your tree to whatever your holiday heart desires.

All you need to accomplish this goal are those burnt out light bulbs (and don’t limit yourself to regular sized incandescent light bulbs! You can also use candle, flame, candelabra or even classic Edison style bulbs). You will also need a selection of different sized paint brushes, acrylic paints in the colors you plan to use, and some ribbon and a hot glue gun. I personally also like to keep some colored felt, puff balls, and scraps of old fabric to use, should I be so inspired.

If you don’t feel particularly good at coming up with ideas on your own, here are a few you can try. Christmas ornaments don’t just have to be Christmas-related, you can also do winter themed ideas. So in addition to Santas, Rudolphs, and elves, you can also make snowman and penguins! Really, you can make whatever you want to decorate your tree with. Maybe you want to go with a ballet theme to your decorations this year…paint a Nutcracker’s head. My mom’s house always has references to a Winter Wonderland…this would be a great theme to incorporate snowman and penguins and maybe even a narwhal into.

The penguin would probably be the quickest and easiest to paint. An upside down light bulb already resembles a penguin, you really just have to color it in. Go as simple or as exquisite as you want. You can make a simple cartoon penguin or a regal Emperor penguin (if you are a slightly more talented painter than I, that is. I’ll stick to the cartoon-y one). And you don’t have to add anything to the top to hide the metal portion, you could just paint it black. But I personally like the idea of giving your chill little friend something neat like a hat.

For you Santas and your snowmen, you have a couple different options. Stick with either the head only (easier to paint in the long run in most cases) or make the full body too! Again, adding little touches like a flannel fabric to Santa’s body (Santa Jammies!) or a tiny yarn scarf around your snowman’s neck can give your ornaments that something special, a little personal flair.

While I personally love this idea for decorating your tree each December, decorative bulb ornaments don’t stop at Christmas. You can make dreidels as well for Hannukah. You can make turkeys and scarecrows for Thanksgiving, witches and jack-o-lanterns for Halloween and bunnies for Easter. And you don’t have to hang these from a tree either. You can hang them in doorways (just warn your taller guests of the potential hazards), dangle from the front of your mantelpiece or even hang in your windows.

This is not only a great way to decorate with your own style and flair, it is also an inexpensive and relaxing way to holiday up your home. Enjoy sitting down with a few old light bulbs, some paints and your imagination and see where the day will take you.


DIY: Mosaic Tray

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers!

I have a tutorial for you today from Sand and Sisal to make a sea glass mosaic serving tray. You can find the original post here.  What I love about this tutorial is that it’s a basic tutorial that doesn’t have to be applied to only sea glass. You can use tiles, flat stones, flat glass tiles, or broken plates. This process can be applied to anything you’d like to turn into a mosaic, which is possibly why I love being able to write about a process like this.

For this you do need some specific supplies, but they are things that you might have lying around, or they’re easy to find at any hardware store. You’ll need a wood serving tray (you can buy one new or you can check second hand and vintage stores to see what’s around), spray paint, enough sea glass or tile to cover the area of your tray, some ready to use tile adhesive, premixed grout, a toothed trowel, a pallet knife, a rubber tile float, and a sponge.

Your first step – if your tray has been finished, is to sand the tray with 100 grit sand paper to remove any shiny lacquer.

Your next step is to give the try a couple coats of the (wood suitable) spray paint in the colour of your choice.

With a toothed trowel, apply a thin coat of adhesive to a small part of the tray base and comb the teeth through the adhesive. If you’re using a large trowel, you can use a pallet knife to spread the adhesive into the small corners and edges, and then comb it afterwards.

For the best result, try to work in small sections. It’s important that the adhesive is applied in a thin layer. you don’t want it oozing over the tiles. Start pressing your sea glass (or other tiles) into the adhesive. The tile should sit about half way in the adhesive.  Follow the package directions for the adhesive to set up.

After you’ve placed all your tiles, you can pull out the grout. Put some grout on the float (the rubber scraper thing) and start pressing  and smearing it into the sea  glass so that it gets into all the crevasses and into the edges. Don’t worry about smearing it on top of the glass – it will be smoothed and wiped off the top later.

Once your tray is covered, scrape any excess grout off the top with your float.

Your last step is to clean up that mess! Use a wet sponge to clean up the edges of your tray and to remove the layer of grout from the top of the sea glass or tile. When it looks mostly clean, let it dry. When it’s dry, the glass will look a little dusty, and this is when you can take a clean, damp sponge and buff the glaze off the glass to let it shine.

Et, voila! Your tray is done and ready to be used, or gifted to some lucky friend.

Happy crafting!

~Megan

 


DIY: Wine Bottle Chandelier

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Hi there Thursday Crafthackers!
I have for you a super cool tutorial that is relatively easy but still will take some time and some tools. The end result is super cool, and there are a number of different ways that you can do something like this.

There’s a number of different styles, and a number of different complexities in doing the electrical wiring for this. I thought this one was super cool. To do this you will need wine bottles – these ones were clear and then painted for colour, but you can absolutely do regular wine bottles if you like the green/brown hues.  If you’re liking the look of this (the original can be found here at Mod Podge Rocks Blog), and others like this tutorial, you might need this previous post on how to cut bottles safely. Make sure you follow the steps to sand down the edges, and if you would like to take any labels off, now would be the time.

This tutorial uses Mod Podge sheer colours, but there are methods to make the colours yourself with just one jar of Mod Podge (see if you can find a sheer one) and food colouring. You can find my tutorial for the ratios and the how to on the colour here (including how to set it). Use whichever you have the time and comfort level for. You’ll need the basics of the world of crafting, so craft paper/wax paper or a non stick craft mat, a craft knife, and you will also need the pendant light hardware kits which you should be able to find easily at any hardware store, or at an online retailer like Amazon.

Whether  you make your own colours or buy pre tinted Mod Podge, your first step is to get the inside of your bottles covered. You can do this by adding a generous amount of glue/colour to the inside of the bottle and swirling it around inside until it is covered. Try to get as far up the neck as possible so you get consistent colour all the way up. Do this to each bottle. Whether you use the same, themed or different colours is up to you. If you’re making your own colours, remember that you can change your one batch of colour just by adding other colours of food colouring to change the tints. You’ll either need to follow the directions in the previously mentioned tutorial for baking the wine bottles, or you will need to let them dry overnight (sitting on the mouth of the bottle to get maxiumum air flow) After they’re dry, if you want to add any stencils or glitter, now is the time.

The original poster used a light fixture like this. They didn’t use the switch on the cord, and cut the cord before that point since they manually are wiring everything together.

The wiring was cut about 2 feet from the bulb socket base, but you can do them longer or shorter based on the needs of your space. If there is a switch on your fixture, you can cut below it if you aren’t using it. Above if you would like to keep it.

Run the cut end of the cord up through the neck of the bottle so that the bulb socket fits nicely in the taper.

Expose the ends of each of the wires using your wire cutters to peel away the plastic coating (there will be 12 wires, hot and a neutral for each lamp or 18 if the kit is wired for a ground). This tutorial used a room that already had a simple ceiling fixture on a wall switch. This made it easy to take down and I just used the existing junction box and cover plate from the old light to mount my wine bottle chandelier. With the wall switch OFF (throw the service breaker for extra safety) take down the old ceiling light and find the white (neutral), black (hot), and green (ground) wires. Pull them down out of the box and make sure you have enough room to go back with the new wire bundle you’re going to create.

Next, combine all the neutral wires from the lamp kits together into one pigtail. Do the same for the hot and the ground if present. Use some electrical tape to help hold them all together while you get ready to connect them to the junction box. Using an appropriately sized wire nut, connect the white pigtail of the lamp kit to the white (neutral) wire from the ceiling. DO the same with the Black (hot) and ground (green, if present). Carefully push the wires up into the junction box and allow the weight of the lamps to be carried by the bundled lamp cords over the junction box support bar.

Slide the fixture cover you used from the old light up into place to cover everything.

You should be able to flip your switches and bring light! Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and remember to work safely with any electricity!

Happy crafting.

~Megan


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