Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Tree Card Holder

I use to tape my Christmas cards to the blinds on the back door.  I never found a card holder that I particularly liked-- one that look good with or without cards.

Enter some sticks, hot glue, and twine-- all things I have on hand in my craft room and outside on the ground.

I measured the blank wall I have in the hallway and broke my first stick to that length. Then I worked my way up, laying the sticks out on the driveway, making sure my sticks laid pretty flush to the ground (and thus the wall so I wouldn't inadvertently skewer someone).  I little hot glue and then some twine for extra security.

I love it. Now my mom wants one.  I love almost free crafts!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Christmas Candles

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas... and it's not even Thanksgiving! I don't think I'm going to be able to wait to decorate until after Thanksgiving.  I had to sneak in a little Christmas project and the 's Christmas Decor Challenge sponsored by DollarTree was the perfect excuse!

I was wandering the isle of my DollarTree when I came upon a new item. I snatched up 3 right away.  Faux wax LED Candles! They are plastic dipped in wax so they really feel/look like candles, except lighter.  Do you recognize them from my previous post on my new mantel?

I made them new collars in anticipation of my Christmas mantel. Here's what I did.

3 Faux wax LED candles ($1 each)
1 bag mints ($1)
2 sheets cardstock (red, white; on hand)
tissue paper ($1, on hand)
hot glue

I cut a strip of cardstock and glued it so it fit loosely around the candle--I wanted to be able to remove it. For the first candle, I hot glued mints around that cardstock collar in 3 rows.

For the second candle I cut strips of tissue paper sheets (about 2.5 inches wide), twisted them, and glued them around another cardstock collar.

For the third one, I used a glue stick to glue printed tissue paper around yet another cardstock collar. You could also use Christmas wrapping paper.  (Missed the picture, but you can see it below)

That's it... super easy, huh?

Then, do you know what I discovered? By setting the candles on a small objects of varying heights (I used a small playdough container and a cooking spray lid) and sliding the cardstock collars down, you create the illusion that your candles are different heights!

There are so many ways you could decorate the cardstock collars to change out your candles for the different seasons and occasions. Like these ones on my Thanskgiving mantel.

Happy Crafting!
*Linking up to Holiday Decoration Challenge

I Hate My Mantel...Remake

Yeah. It's looked about like this since we moved in. I keep finding things that I might want to put there, so there they sit. Maybe about that...this is cute...what about this here... ugh! I couldn't commit to anything. And nothing was coming together.

So it all came down!

I decided that I might have a commitment issue. I'm going to try switching out my decor for the seasons... then I only have to commit to 3 months (or less!). I don't want to break the bank, nor do I want to create a storage issue.  My goal is to have easy to store and/or versatile decor.

Here's what I came up with, and I only spent $4.50, with most of it coming from things I had around the house.

My friend gave me these cute indian corn cobs-- they are actually popcorn, and yes, I saved some to try and pop!  I took some cardstock to make a collar around these Dollar Tree candles.  A little hot glued and these faux wax LED candles look perfect. Best of all I can slip them out and make new collars for all the seasons. 

I saved the husks and glued them aroung a cardboard circle. My small pine tree was kind enough to lend me some pinecones for the middle of the flower.  I cut some colorful branches for the vase and tossed in some pumpkins to finish off the look. 

No time to create the fabulous large wood plaque I envisioned, so I covered my large picture frame with kraft paper and painted a thankful message.

I'm excited about how it turned out. Even more excited that I'm only committed to it for a few more weeks. You'll have to stay tuned for my Christmas mantel!  Christmas goes up the day after Thanksgiving at my house... how about at yours?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Wreath

Have you seen those creepy grapevine wreaths with the snakes. It's all painted black and super spooky. Yeah, I made one of those, except I haven't made it to the store to get black spray paint so it sits in my crap craft room in all it's naked snake glory. Can't put THAT on my front door!

I needed a quick wreath so I skipped holidays and went for a fall themed wreath. I was inspired by 's Spooky Ribbon Wreath only I didn't have ribbon--but I do have lots of fabric scraps!

A while ago I picked up an embroidery hoop at the thrift store--one hoop can make two wreaths using the inner and the outer circles! I rolled up newspaper and used twisty ties to secure it to the outside edge of hoop.

I cut strips of scrap material and tied them around randonly.  After they were tied I trimmed them and attached some indian popcorn (they are small cobs than regular indian corn) at the top. Quick and easy and it gave my hands something to do while my ears listened to the media's opinions on last tuesday's debate. Good times!

As soon as I get some paint I'll swap the wreaths out and then post a picture of the snake one!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crispy Crockpot Chicken

Crispy? Yes, you read that right! Here's how you do it.

I took my whole chicken (innards removed!) and gave it a rinse. I plopped it in my crockpot. Next comes my favorite part-- my little secret that I'm going to share with you.

Have you seen these?
See all the fantastic flavor options? And this is ain't all of them!

I'm in love with them. Oh, so tasty. And I use them for more than just marinating and grilling!
Tonight I picked Mojito Lime. Mmmm... I just sprinkled 1/2 the package on top of the chicken. No rubbing or anything fancy. I rolled up the seasoning to save for another time.

Turn on your crockpot on low and cover. Cook for 3 hours. Now here comes the crispy part. Ready?

Stick a wooden spoon under the lid for the last hour. Getting that steam out will allow the skin to crisp up. Now we aren't talking Kentucky Fried crispy. It's more like rotisserie crispy. But that's a ton better than slippery, slimy! 

Now my chicken was just under 5 lbs. It cooked a LOT faster than I thought it would (I was planning on it taking 6 hours!). It's been done since 4:00 and dinner can't be for at least another hour. But that's the lovely thing about crock pots. I've left it plugged in and vented with the spoon. It'll be fine.

See. Mmmm... Please pass the rice!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Costume for a dollar, or less!

Need a costume quick? Don't have much time or money? Here ya go!

What you need:
Laundry basket ($1 at DollarTree, on hand)
Scissors (on hand)
Assorted clothes (on hand)
Empty laundry detergent bottle ($1 at DollarTree, on hand)

How To: I'm sure you can figure it out from the picture above! With heavy duty scissors, I cut out the bottom of the laundry basket. Mine snuggled perfectly when pulled up to my hips but if yours is loose, make two shoulder straps from two long-sleeved shirts with the sleeve cuffs safety pinned to the front and back of basket. Stuff with random clothes--personal preference is clean clothes so I would not have to smell dirty socks all night, but if you're brave enough to go authentic, go for it!
Grab a bottle of laundry detergent, a stain stick and or dryer sheets (hey, these might make your dirty clothes smell tolerable!).  Feel free to really heap the clothes as much as you want. You'll be toasty warm if you safety pin more clothes to your shirt and/or hat.

Need a couples costume. Decorate a box to look like the washing machine for your other half!

Mr. L2D says he'd like to use this idea for Halloween, so I guess I need to make a washing machine for me.

**Enter in 's October Craft Challenge, sponsored by DollarTree.**

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

School Time: Color Activities

I've decided my kids need online names.  LegoLad (#1) and GameBoy (#2) are named for their interests, and #3's nickname is BusyBee 'cuz she is always on the go! You already know Mr L2D. Besides 5 fish that live in upstairs, that's our family. Pleased to meet you, too!
Well, school's started. LegoLad and GameBoy are gone all day and all morning, respectively.  It's just BusyBee (she's 20 months) and me. Time for some fun with a little learning snuck in!
Today we sorted colors.  She aced this, so I need to step up my game. Here's what we did.
I put a bunch of colored pompoms in a box. I spread out corresponding colored papers for the 8 colors I had.  I picked a color, named it and put it on the correct paper. By the third one she had taken over. She had to think a bit about some, but got every one correct!  Every time she picked up a color I named it for her--"Ooo... red. Where does the red go?" or something similar. 

Here's some other color activities that we did or are planning to do soon:
Dyed Pasta Stringing:
      --I love how bright the colors turn out when you use rubbing alcohol.  I had BusyBee thread them on a bamboo skewer stuck into a blob of homemade playdough. I keeps her occupied for over 30 minutes while I make dinner.

**After dying the noodles and carefully scooping them out, I put about a half cup rice in the bag and there was enough "juice" to dye it, too.  BusyBee loves scooping/pouring the rice into different containers.  
Fruit Loop Rainbow:
     --Sort and glue fruit loops into a rainbow. (Also can sort and string.)
Torn paper art: Tear construction paper into small pieces. Glue pieces on a paper shape. (Blue on a rain drop, yellow star, red heart, green leaf, white cloud, black wheel, etc…)

Lacing Cards: Glue construction paper onto a cereal box for strength. Cut out shape. Punch holes along edge and use as a lacing card with string. Cover with contact paper for more durability.

For Older Kids (Preschool)--
Chameleon Hunt:  After reading Leo Lionni's book A Color Of His Own, cut out chameleons from different colored papers. Take turns hiding each chameleon on an object that is the same color.
What's Missing? Game:  Fill a cookie sheet with 5-10 objects, all the same color. Have the children identify each object (i.e. toothbrush, sock, toy car, crayon, hairbow, cup, etc.). Cover the sheet with a towel and secretly remove an object. Uncover and have the children guess what's missing.  Adjust number of objects if the game is too easy or hard.
I Spy Book: Have kids gather as many objects (even magazine pictures) that will fit on one 8.5x11 sheet of paper.  Without touching, play “I spy with my little something that…(give a clue)”. Take picture of these color pages to make quiet books—I would put photos in inexpensive albums and give as Christmas gifts.
Iron-on Shapes. Have kids color a shape cut out of sand paper. Use lots of crayon! Turn upside down a white sheet of paper and cover with another piece of paper and iron.  You can buy iron-on fabric crayons to transfer to t-shirts or kitchen towels.

Cookie Cutter Painting: Place a small amount of paint on a plate. Show kids how to dip in paint and press on paper.

Color Wash Painting: Color a picture with crayons. Thin tempra paint and have children paint over the entire picture.  Paint won’t cover crayons making the drawing show through. Large paint brushes are best for this.

Dot Painting: Use bingo markers or ends of crayola markers (or glue sticks, pencil erasers, q-tips, etc) dipped in paint to create a picture with dots or to fill in a cut-out paper shape.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Garden Veggie Quiche

Mmmm... was dinner yummy! 

Here's the recipe.

Shredded hasbrowns, enough to cover bottom of pan
4 large eggs, (I used 5 medium)
3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
pinch of rosemary
pinch of thyme
chives to taste (I used 3 fresh "leaves?")
1/2 cup ham
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided.
1/2 to 1 cup of shredded zuchini

Press thawed hashbrowns into bottom of a well greased pie pan. Set oven to 400 and place hashbrowns in oven while it pre-heats.

Meanwhile, beat eggs, milk, rosemary, thyme, and chives. Chop ham and shred zucchini (I also peeled mine to make it more kid friendly.)

When hashbrown crust starts to brown around edges (about 30 minutes), remove.  On top of crust layer 1/2 cup cheese, zucchini, ham, and remaining cheese. Pour egg mixture over top.

Bake 400 for 30 minutes or until top is brown and eggs are cooked.  I can't use the "knife comes out clean" method for quiche, because I'm not smart enough to know if it is juice from the zucchini or ham or if it's melted cheese stuck to the knife. I bought a thermometer and religiously use that for testing meat and eggs-- 165 is considered safe for most foods.

Next time I'm going to remember to put some of my dried tomato slices on top. They'll help absorb the extra moisture, too. If you don't have dried, just use fresh.

VERDICT: I loved it. Gameboy ate it--which completely surprised me-- and so did BusyBee. Eldest LegoLad tried it but did like it. Mr. L2D said "yeah" when asked if he liked it. 4 out of 5 is better than most meals I make! Woohoo!  I made one for my gluten-free neighbor, her family loved it too!


**linked at Frugal By Choice's Mostly Homemade Monday

Friday, September 7, 2012

Jazzed-up Jeans

Got a pair of jeans that are just plain 'ol blah?  Head on over to your local Dollar Tree and jazz them up with a pair of woven trivets. WHAT?! you say. Read on and find out how.

Pair of jeans- on hand
chalk- on hand, $1 a box
woven trivets- $1 a pair
scissors- on hand, $1
pins- on hand, $1
needle and thread- on hand, $1 (in sewing kits) [or sewing maching]

First you have to unravel the trivet. Do so by carefuly cutting the zizag stitches you can see in the photo. Remove bits of strings from resulting "rope."

Trace your pattern onto your jeans with chalk. While wearing my jeans, I drew my pattern standing in front of a mirror.

  Lay your rope along the design and giving yourself a bit extra for good measure, cut the rope to desired length. At this point, you'll want to pull out the foam middle, unless you want a puffier design. (The top scroll on my jeans still has the foam. I preferred the look without on the following scrolls so I will be picking that one off and pulling out the foam and then restitching it.)

Trim one end of the woven rope straight and tuck end inside itself.  Start with the tucked end and pin the rope onto the design.  When you get to the end, tuck the end into itself again, trimming if needed, and secure with a pin. 


Just stitch it on, with matching thread.  Or if you're an even stitcher, you could go bold with a contrasting color!

The design possiblities are endless. My store had multiple colors of trivets which you could stitch on a variety of clothing articles in an endless array of designs. How about even on a table runner. I'm thinking my solid colored comforter might even need some sprucing up! What will you do?

**linked up to for their September Craft Challenge sponsored by

EDITTED TO ADD: I picked off the top scroll and liked my jeans better without it. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Backpack Hooks

My kid walks in the door and immediately drops his backpack in the middle of the kitchen floor on his way to the pantry for a sanck.  #2 had his first day of Kindergarten and came home and did the same thing. This bugs me, but aside from hanging them on a chair or stuffing them in the hall closet I recognized there wasn't a better solution-- believe me I tried several things last year.  We don't have a mud room. The garage door opens directly into the kitchen. The front entry is tiny.  I had a choice to make-- backpack hooks in the kitchen or in the front entry. 
When a guest arrives at your house, do you really want them to be greated by a row of backpacks? I don't think so. Decorative front entry means backpacks in the kitchen--it really wasn't a choice. 

I tried to make them nice. Mr. L2D made sure I attached them to wall studs. It is by far better to have them hung than strewn about the floor. And I learned it is impossible to match stains.

I found these hook racks at Honks All A Dollar. They were a buck. I bought 8! I bought them for the hooks alone--I have purchased hooks before and the cheap, plain ones are about $3 a piece.

I spray painted the hooks black (I'm in love with wrought iron) while they were still on the board. Once dry I removed the hooks and tossed the cheap board.

Time for a confession: I love Home Depot. I haunt their Paint Opps! section and also back by the cutting table in their scrap wood bins. I've made some scores there, including this board for 51 cents! I picked up some stain in what I thought would be the right color for under $5. One corner of the board was ruffed up along the edge. Easiest way to ruff up the other side to match was to rub in against the concrete driveway-- just a bit! It's much faster than sandpaper and gives a much more random rough look.

I gave it two coats of stain. When that was dried, I added the hooks. With Mr. L2D's stud finder I located the studs. I double checked them because they were not the standard 16" apart. Rather than using a nail and leaving a big hole, I pushed a pin through the drywall and it stopped against the stud. Sure enough, 19" apart-- who built this house! Anywho... I marked and pre-drilled the holes in the boards. I even drilled a larger hole at the surface to allow the screw head to sink flush with the board. Aren't you proud of me, Mr. L2D?!

Here it is! Mr. L2D came home and said it looked nice, which is high praise indeed from a "plain-blank-wall" kinda man.

The double hooks will allow jackets and coats to be hung up, too! And until #3 is in school, there is even a place for my purse. The whole thing cost me about $6 bucks, but there is a ton of stain leftover. That means I don't have to try to match stain for my next projects!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nifty Thrifty Thursday: Key Kaddie

I found this spice cabinet a while ago at one fo my favorite thrift stores, Value Village.
 I had hubby remove the bottom shelf. We added cup hooks to the now bottom shelf. Hung right by the garage door, it's perfect for hanging keys and stashing sunglasses or those old clip-on garage door openers. Keys aren't pretty decor for me, so I close the doors and they are hidden away.

Quick. Easy. Functional. The perfect thrifty re-purpose.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nifty Thrifty Thursday... Display Cases

I needed to go to the bank, the grocery store, and Wal-mart all before lunch... with 3 kids... so a thrift store visit wasn't going to happen. My kids survived the trip (amazingly behaved and I didn't have to threaten their lives once-- knock on wood and granite, metal, plastic, and cotton just to be covered!) Can I tell you how excited I am that in one week I'll be able to run errands with only my toddler in tow-- and she loves to shop! My bank account is in trouble. But I digress...

As I was checking out at Walmart, two employees made my day. When I said I'd like to price match the grapes at 88 cents, she said I'll give them to you for a better price and showed me some store's add for 69 cents a pound! woohoo! Thanks.  Then the gentleman that was changing over the display case said I could have these empty display case boxes. Double...make that, quadruple... thank you!

Oh, do I have plans for these.  They involve contact paper ('cuz really, who has time to modge podge scrapbook paper on 'em) and closet shelves. The Dollar Store has contact paper. But then again, school starts in a week and I just might have time-- Oh, the possibilities...

Stay tuned for more pictures when they get pretty! (Can you spray paint shiny cardboard? hmmm...)

Monday, August 20, 2012

DIY Slushy Drinks

As seen on TV, only cheaper! In fact, this costs practically nothing. I bet you have all the supplies and ingredients in your kitchen right now. (This eliminates the leaky zip-sealed bags of other DIY methods!)

You need:
-1 Mayonaise plastic bottle  (yes, I did scrap out the 1/3 cup or so left and put it in another container)
-1 small water bottle (you, know the 1/2 size kind-- make sure yours will fit in your mayo bottle)
-salt (about 1/2 cup)
-drink to slushify (that's the new word for the day!), we used kool-aid

The How To: It's basically the same concept as the old fashioned ice cream makers. 

1. Wash bottles clean (I removed my labels for better viewing).
2. Fill your tiny bottle 3/4 full with your drink of choice. Secure lid tightly and place it in the Mayo bottle.
3. Fill Mayo bottle with ice and dump in salt, err on the side of too much, it's not going to hurt anything.  I also added about a half cup water to help mix things around.
4. Secure lid tightly and shake-- probably a bit longer than the tv commercial suggests of 1 minute. I wrap mine in a kitchen towel, 'cuz, man, that thing is cold!
5. Remove inside bottle (mine's a tight squeeze, but it does come out.) and shake well to break up the ice inside.
6. Pour into a glass-- the bottle will taste VERY salty so you won't want to drink straight from it-- and enjoy.

If you are quick, you'll be able to make two in succession before the mayo bottle needs to be frozen again. Don't dump it out, just freeze as is. You'll be able to add your small bottle and shake for the next time. (Technically fully saturated salt water will not freeze in your freezer but it'll get very cold and slushy-- which works just fine.)

We haven't tried any other drinks besides Kool-aid. Let me know what you try!