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Kid Project: 5-Minute DIY Fallen Leaf Wreath

We are having picture perfect fall weather here in Oregon right now. Knowing it will disappear all too soon, I’ve been encouraging the kids to play outside as much as possible. Today, after naps, we wandered the backyard admiring all the fallen leaves. We got our baskets and filled them with ones we liked – bright ones, dark ones, crinkled ones, big ones, little ones… we only have one deciduous tree in the backyard, so most are maple leaves unless they blew in from an adjacent yard. Then I tried to think of a project we could make with all of them… perhaps a wreath?

This is just about the quickest wreath project ever. I ran in to get my glue gun, and then remembered it was at a neighbor’s. She brought it over and then I looked around for something to use as the frame. This could be as simple as a piece of circle-cut cardboard, but what we used was the plastic ring from a pack of danishes that I bought from Costco. I used the glue gun to place wads of glue around the ring and Chloe and I would choose and stick leaves on top, being very careful of the hot glue (note to self: get a low temperature glue gun for these kinds of projects). For a consistent look I suggested we place all the leaves face up with the stem toward the inside of the circle. Leo was more interested in running leaves around in his tractor trailer, so he didn’t really participate except for leaf collecting.

Ta da! After just a couple of layers we had a festive wreath to hang near the front door. I think Daddy will be pleasantly surprised to see it there when he comes home this evening, don’t you?


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How to Paint a Craigslist Dresser in 4 Easy Steps

I finally had it one day with our cluttered hallway. It was full of plastic bins, boxes of diapers, items destined for Goodwill, and all sorts of odds and ends stacked precariously. We knew that some day in the future we would make built-in cabinets, but for now it was screaming for some TLC. So I began looking on Craigslist for some possibilities.

Tip: Use a Craigslist mobile app – so helpful when you’re not at a computer.

Step 1: Choose your dresser
Using the app, I found several that suited my needs both aesthetically and size-wise. I was looking for something kid-friendly and streamlined, no knobs or funky carvings. Just basic. One in particular was priced just right at $20, and solid oak to boot! No particle board for me, thanks. Ironically, there were two of the same model of dresser for sale (see above photo). The other was selling for $195 (and in much better condition)!

Step 2: Clean & Sand
After bringing the dresser home and taking out all the drawers, we noticed some mouse droppings in a few of them. Alarming, but not a deal-breaker. I looked on the CDC website how to properly clean and disinfect the dresser, including making a homemade bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. It sucked, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. Then came the sanding. I was expecting to do the work myself, since my husband wasn’t crazy about my plan, but he kindly offered to do the remaining work for me. He used a palm sander and gave it a good once-over. I recommend using a mask and eye protection. A benefit of this dresser’s flat, no frills style is that there aren’t any details that require special sanding.

Step 3: Prime
We have a huge 5 gallon container of primer left over from when we did our home addition last year. Some people skip this step, and that might be okay on rarely used pieces, but this will be a working dresser. If you don’t want to see chips in the paint the first time you use it, or anytime soon, then you need to prime. Tape off any areas you don’t want to paint, or when a crisp line is desired. Use a roller for ease of coverage, but have a paintbrush handy to swipe corners and other details. We decided to not paint the inner drawers, but I plan to use drawer liners. Once the primer is dry, give it a once over by hand with fine sandpaper (and maybe a sanding block).

Step 4: Paint
Because we were looking for a small budget solution, we decided to use the leftover paint from our bathroom – a medium gray semi-gloss with a bit of blue called “Still Creek”. Make sure to roll it on smooth and constantly check for drips. You can see from the photo that David had a little helper. I thought this might leave streaks on the drawer fronts, but it doesn’t as long as you roll over it while it is still wet. Chloe loved “helping” daddy.

Now that the painting is done, don’t rush to use the dresser until the paint is fully cured. The longer you wait, the harder the finish will be – up to two weeks. Otherwise you risk smudges and marks. I asked at Home Depot about a top coat, but he assured us that one wasn’t needed as long as we waited for it to fully cure.

Ta da! Here’s our dresser sitting in its new hallway spot. Soon it will have a framed wall display to go above it, but that project is still in the works. I hope to be able to share it soon. Until then, good luck and happy painting!


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Lavender

Our lavender is in full bloom, making all the bees and butterflies around here crazy happy. It is such a beautiful color. And the smell… gorgeous.

At the end of summer I’ll dry the stems and place the scented buds in my drawers or hanging in fine mesh bags in the closet. I didn’t get around to it last year, so I want to be extra good about it this year. There are about a million things that can be made out of lavender, too – from salt or sugar scrubs, sachets, wands, to even ice cream. So many choices, so little time.

And here’s a whole long list of lavender recipes and projects from Martha Stewart.


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Turkey surprise for the kids

We will be spending our Thanksgiving with good friends again this year, and thankfully, we’re only responsible for bringing rolls and making the gravy. The hostess was considering seating the four toddlers at their own table, and while they are too young yet for popcorn, I thought this idea was a clever way to add some whimsy to a kids table. Instructions can be found here.


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Updated Tutorial & Printables List

I updated my Downloads + Tutorials page (see link under the header bar) with all the project tutorials and printable pdfs I’ve included on this blog. Hopefully they’ll be easier to find and use all in one place. Here are some:

1. DIY iPhone 4 Bumper Idea_2b.jpg, 2. Paper-Wrapped Jewelry Organizer, 3. bird magnets1.jpg, 4. Free Printable Valentine Flower card, 5. Chocolate Gift Jar Oreos.jpg, 6. Baby bib, 7. Halloween “Cauldron Bubbles” Treat, 8. IMG_7332.JPG, 9. “Dad” Father’s Day Card, 10. Cute Baby Hair Clips, 11. Holiday Gift tags, 12. Printable Holiday Gift Wrap, 13. Printable Holiday Cheer game board, 14. Felt photo album cover, 15. Vinyl Record Bowl, 16. Modern Happy Holidays Card


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Bird silhouette magnets + template pdf

I’ve been meaning to make a little handmade something to put in the mail for someone who likes birds. I finally sat down and came up with this – felt bird magnets! After choosing some simple silhouettes, I cut them out of stiffened eazy felt. Then I cut the same shapes slightly smaller out of a re-used piece of adhesive magnet to apply to the back. I hope she likes them!

Would you like to make a set of your own? If so, you can click the image above or download the bird silhouette template pdf here.


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What nifty device can you make with paper, film and a Coke can?

I found a very interesting book on the new arrival shelf at the library yesterday. A book called Build Fun Paper Cameras: Take Eye-Catching Pinhole Photos. My first thought was Hmm, those look pretty cool! My second thought was They still make 35mm film?! It is almost hard for me to believe that everyone just doesn’t use digital these days. I love the instant satisfaction of seeing an image onscreen (especially handy when I notice a detail that needs fixing). Film cameras don’t give you that amount of control, and that idea is… intriguing.

So, I’m curious. I decided to check the book out and experiment. What if I had to physically rely on myself to manage the exposure (and not just tell my digital camera how long to do it for me)? I mean literally open and close the shutter by hand, and not with the press of a button? What would it be like to manually make my own equipment? And wind the film myself? I’m guessing the worst that can happen will be that none of my photos come out, but even so I’ll have made some pretty nifty little paper cameras. So, if you’ll excuse me – I have a Coke can to cut and pierce, film to find and purchase, and 8 sheets of freshly printed card stock to cut, fold and assemble.

To be continued…


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Valentine Idea: Day 5 – Free Printable Cards

Print your own card – I had a little extra time to whip up two cards that are free to download and print! The “Your love means the world to me” flower card measures 3.5 x 5 inches and the diagonal label card that reads “Thoughts for you, my love, on Valentine’s Day” measures 4 x 6 inches. There are two versions of the flower card, one with the flowers printed on the cover and the other with the flowers printed on the side. The side flowers are there so you can cut them out separately and adhere them with foam tape for a 3-dimensional look (like in the photo). Enjoy!


Download version 1 | version 2 (3D)


Download Valentine Label Card

Need some more kid-friendly cards? Try this free Light-up Valentine printable.


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Butterfly Craft Punch

It has taken me a while to write and send out thank you cards for the shower gifts we’ve received. To me, writing a thank you card is serious business. I really want each one to be heart felt, and to let the giver know how meaningful their gift truly is to me. Each card has unique thoughts, and because of this I usually only complete 2 or 3 once I finally sit down to write.

Originally, I bought baby specific cards, but they’re almost all gone. Plus, it is more interesting for me to use different cards, instead of the same ones each time (even though I know they are going out to different people). That is where my new Martha Stewart butterfly craft punch comes in (on sale at Michaels a few weeks ago). We’ve had these cheap, generic thank you cards hanging around for a while. All it took was a few pieces of scrap paper and voila! a new look to otherwise plain cards. I’ve done both glued and sewn versions, as shown above. Also, if you haven’t already seen them, butterfly collages are a really fun way to use this punch, too.


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Resin Jewelry Video Tutorial


Resin and Silver-Plated Rings and Pewter Pendants by John W. Golden

I have always wanted to try making resin jewelry. It seems like it could be such a unique and versatile medium, but every time I try and search for the supplies, like the pendant casings, I never seem to have much luck. I’ve also searched many times for a resin jewelry class here in Portland, but either it my usually superb google skills let me down, or classes like this just aren’t offered in my area. Has anyone else had any luck? Anyway, my interest has once again been renewed by this 3-part Resin Jewelry Making Video Tutorial. It is a little drawn out, but the artist does a great job explaining his processs. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 found on craftstylish.com.


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Making Appliqued Onesies

A couple weeks ago my neighbor had a yard sale where we bought four used onesies for 25¢ each. She has two boys, so most of the colors were blues or boy-style prints. I picked out a few plainer ones, just right for adding a little something “girly.”

Inspired by the many fun appliqued designs I’ve been seeing at specialty shops, on Etsy, and on Martha Stewart, I decided to try it myself. I was considering the many packages of fancy fusibles at the fabric store when a nice sales lady introduced me to Pellon’s WonderUnder, which came paper-backed on bolts at half the price. She assured me they would work just the same


Made from leftovers of this project

Made from leftovers of this fabric

Today I looked through my scrap fabric and found two prints that I thought might work. These are the result – a single pink flower (left over from this Tokyo tie bag project) and a selection of smaller flowers (from this fabric). According to the Pellon instruction sheet, the items can be washed and tumble dried on low, but I eventually decided to hand-sew the edge around the pink one, knowing just how often that might occur. An easy and almost instant face-lift.

Get directions for Martha’s Dog Appliqued Onesie here.


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Free Holiday Cheer Board Game

Holiday Cheer Game

Holiday Cheer Board Game – download free pdf here

A couple of weeks ago while I was shopping at Michael’s I made several spur of the moment holiday purchases, including 2 foamy-style rubber-stamp blocks and 3 packages of epoxy stickers. I have no idea what made me pick these items up because I don’t stamp, or use stickers (much). There was just something pretty and tactile about them that made reach out and place them on the check stand. (Actually, I was just going to buy one stamp, but it didn’t have a sku tag, so the checkout girl asked if I could grab another. Then I heard myself saying “I’ll just take that one, too”). Thank goodness they didn’t cost much!

So I’ve had these foamy stamp blocks on my desk for a while now. David asked me why I bought them and I guiltily mumbled something about probably returning them, or using them for… something. Later, I found myself tossing one around and noticing how it bounced merrily before settling. Then I thought Eureka! I could design a holiday game for my nephew with it! (Okay, so I didn’t say Eureka!, but that word perfectly described how I felt. As in: Whew! If I can make something useful/fun, then I can be excused for making an impulse buy. After all, it must have been fate at work that day, right?).

This picture is misleading. These are the two stamps I bought, but only one is used for the game.

How to Play: Here was my thought process. The foamy stamp block would work like a die that you roll (there is a snowman side, a snowflake side, a kid’s face, the words “Let it Snow,” and two blank sides). Whatever lands face up is the icon that you’d move your game piece forward to on the board. Sounds pretty easy right? The only kicker is that when you roll a blank side you lose that turn and don’t get to move forward. I designed the whole game board with this idea in mind.

I should mention here that I don’t know anything about three and a half year old boys, or any kids at all for that matter (although two of my good friends are now expecting!). Paolo, our nephew, lives in Austin and we rarely see him. I could be totally wrong about skills at that age or his interest in something like this. However, the other night when I explained this game to Marcy, she said it sounded like Candyland, which I looked up and is rated for ages 3+, which is perfect.

To make a long story short, you can download my Holiday Cheer Game here. It’s pretty large, with a full size of 17 x 22″ so it has to be printed out (or tiled) in four sections if you’re printing it out on regular letter-sized paper, like I did. Then I pasted the sheets to a larger piece of thin cardstock for durability/foldability.

Playing Cards: Unless you happen to find the same stamp block at Michael’s, the best way to play is to print out a second set of pages and cut out the squares from the game board to use as cards. Instead of rolling a die, you would set the stack of “cards” face down and each player would draw a card and then move his or her game piece forward to the nearest icon indicated. You would also have to cut out some “blank” cards to use as “lose a turn.”

Holiday Cheer Game

These are the simple plastic playing pieces I made . I would have preferred something more 3D, but they seem to work okay.

Game Pieces: I made game pieces out of Shrinky Dinks plastic (I am having such fun with that stuff!), but any small objects will do. Playing pieces from another game, a set of erasers, coins, bottle caps or anything that will fit on the squares should work.

Advanced Play: Depending on the level of the players, you can make the game harder by adding additional rules. For example, instead of two players sharing a square, maybe the original player gets kicked off his space and moved backward to the nearest same icon. Or maybe he moves all the way back to start! It’s up to you.

Have fun!


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Free Holiday Greeting Card

holiday card

free holiday greeting card

The free offering for this week – a Happy Holidays greeting card. Made of simple shapes and modern colors, it’s just in time to beat the holiday mail rush. Just download, print, fold and trim!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am planning to provide a free download each Sunday Monday from now until Christmas. It’s my way of saying thanks and giving a little back into the blogosphere this holiday. All offerings so far are listed in the upper right of this page. Feel free to check back next week!


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Apron Class

Earlier this month I signed up for an apron class at Bolt. I was thinking it would accomplish two things 1) be my first opportunity to learn to read a pattern and 2) produce a holiday gift at the same time. Bolt has other classes I’d like to try eventually, but they all happen to be waitlisted (which makes me wonder why the apron class is not very popular). What I really need is the Zipper clinic, although thanks to Nicolette, who sent me this tutorial link, I think my next attempt will go a bit smoother.

Sally, the instructor for the apron class, recently emailed the two pattern options and the supply list. Ironically, I was standing right behind Sally during the Amy Karol book signing, although I didn’t know it at the time.

Anyway, the apron pattern choices are:

aprons
Flirty Skirty or French Flea Market Apron

Neither are quite what I had in mind, but I think I’m going to go with the Flirty Skirty. Its full-size seems more useful and it looks like it comes with a version for a half apron. I’m not too into ruffles, except maybe for a little girl’s apron, and I can’t say I’m into ric-rac either. But the experience is really what I’m looking for.

Aprons sites like these are really getting me inspired:

Tie One On, Olive Juice & Co, Hostess Blog mentioning Anthropologie’s Holiday Aprons, and of course, these aprons from Martha


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Easy Halloween Fun on a Mac

inverted mac screenshot

Want to have a little fun by dressing up your mac in orange and black for Halloween (and giving your co-workers and boss a good scare in the process)? Here’s how:

1. Click on System Preferences in your dashboard (the silver rectangle icon with the apple logo on the right and a light switch on the left).

2. Click on Universal Access, shown near the bottom right corner, in the “System” catagory.

3. Now click the radio button for White on Black under the “Display” catagory.

This will automatically “invert” the colors on your screen. For example, anything that was once white, will now be black. If you want to change your desktop color to invert to orange, like the picture above, you have to start with a blue background (because blue inverts to orange).

To do this go to “System Preferences” and choose “Desktop & Screen Saver” near the top under the Personal catagory. Then choose any blue background under “Apple Images.” Repeat the steps above to “invert” and then show off your spooky computer.

To change back, simply click again on the “Black on White” radio button under Universal Access.


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A Modern Gingerbread House

modern gingerbread house

This is the coolest gingerbread house, ever! Hard to believe that no one has thought of it before (at least that I’ve ever seen). I came across it here while perusing Redenvelope.com“Every bit as edible as the original, this isn’t your grandma’s gingerbread house. We gave the classic holiday treat a mid-century makeover, complete with garage and rock garden. A unique gift and sure-fire conversation piece, it comes assembled and ready to enjoy.”

It’s a little spendy at $78 (for an extra $10 you can add personalization, like in the photo above) and it makes me a little sad that you can’t assemble it yourself. Isn’t that the fun part? Seeing this makes me think about trying to re-create one of my favorite modern houses, maybe Michelle Kaufmann’s Sunset Breezehouse or maybe an iconic Portland-area Rummer home, complete with melted hard candy glass windows (see recipe here). Wouldn’t that be so awesome?!


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Famously Creative with HP

harajuku paper doll card

A Harajuku Girl Paper Doll Card from Gwen’s HP site

Check out these two fun and elegant interactive mini-sites (can they be called that?) from HP, one inspired by Paula Scher, principal at Pentagram and the other inspired by recording artist Gwen Stefani. Each presentation includes a short video and customized tools that are great for blowing a little time while “playing” creatively.

My favorite was making a Harajuku Girl paper doll on Gwen’s site. I also found it interesting to watch Paula’s video on brand identity, but think it’s a little weird that she’s providing a template for businesses to auto-generate their own identity system. That just doesn’t seem right, especially after saying a good identity “expresses the specific spirit and tonality and ethics of an organization or individual.” Providing these templates seems to defeat this purpose by only providing a “friendly” or “modern” choice. To be fair, there is eventually a link to the AIGA.

Here’s the overview from HP:

gwen stefani

Gwen Stefani For You
Step inside Gwen Stefani’s world and customize her designs and illustrations to make Gwen Stefani’s style your own. Submit photos to the Sweet Escape tour book, create your Harajuku Girl paper doll entourage, print invitations, greeting cards and check out Gwen Stefani’s baby collection. All brought to you by HP.

paula sher

Paula Scher For Your Business
HP and Pentagram designer Paula Scher present advice on brand identity design, video tutorials for small businesses and brand identity templates for small businesses. View Paula Scher’s best-known work, browse through her exclusive design templates and listen to insights on how small businesses build great brand identity.


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Easy Felt Photo Album – Tutorial

felt album cover

Yay! My first real sewing craft project (okay, not including pant hems or that dog pillow I did in 7th grade)! Anyway, this was so easy. As I wrote previously, sewing just doesn’t come naturally to me. I wanted to start small to ensure at least moderate success on my first foray back. My mom sewed a lot when we were kids, to the point where all three of us had sunday outfits of matching fabric and I wasn’t even embarrassed (hey, I was young!). I wish I had paid attention back then.

I remember seeing these covers somewhere before. The construction seemed fairly straightforward, with only three pieces stitched together. Another bonus is that felt doesn’t unravel, and is forgiving to work with. If I can make this then I know that everyone else can, too! Fun fact: according to Wikipedia, felt is the oldest form of fabric known to humankind and predates weaving and knitting.

Items Needed
2 sheets of felt
photo album insert
thread
embellishment (optional)

Instructions
For the album above, I chose a red embossed sheet for the outside, a smooth dark brown for the inside, and red thread. I’m not sure of their types, but the red sheet was softer and floppy, like typical craft felt, and the brown one was stiffer. The album insert came from Target.

1. Begin by measuring the album opened flat on a table, and add .25″ to the top and bottom and .5″ to the sides for seam allowance. For example, if the opened album measured 10″wide x 6.5″tall then the end measurement would be 11″wide x 7″tall. Cut this rectangle out of the outside felt cover sheet.

2. Measure the front cover. Add .25″ to the top and bottom only. For example, if the front cover measures 4.75″wide x 6.5″ tall, the end measurement would be 4.75″wide x 7″tall. Cut out two of these shapes – one for the inside front cover and one for the inside back cover.

3. Lay the pieces together as shown below (large red outside piece face down, with two brown pieces facing up, matching outside edges). Stitch around the whole perimeter, keeping about .1875″ from the edge and backstitching at the end. I used a sewing machine, but this could be done by hand, too, and might look neat using a blanket stitch. Trim the thread ends.

felt photo album diagram

4. Now tuck the front and back covers of the album into the side pockets. That’s it!

Adding An Embellishment
I happened to have a set of EK Success “Inspirables” metal charms that I bought for our wedding and never used. For this project I chose the “Love” charm. Using the same red thread I stitched it onto the lower right of the front cover for a simple finishing touch. Craft stores are filled with neat ad-ons that could be glued or stitched on. Or simply cut some fun shapes out of the remaining felt scraps and stitch them onto the cover before completion.

The inside. This will be a gift to Marcy so I’ve included one of her wedding photos.

The red thread makes a nice contrast on the brown

Detail of the spine and discreet backstitching to keep the thread from unraveling

Detail of the “Love” embellishment, hand-stitched with red thread


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Recycled Gift Crafts

blog action day

In response to this year’s blog action day on the environment, I thought I’d list 7 recycled craft ideas that I really like, including links to their instructions. Besides ending up with a wonderful, handmade gift (for you or someone else!), recycling also conserves energy, natural resources, saves landfill space, and most of all, saves money! So instead of throwing away that moth eaten sweater, scratched record, old candles, and empty glass jars, use them instead to create these useful recycled crafts…

Recycled Envelopes
Make unique envelopes by recycling calendars, magazines, maps, sheet music or any other unused papers that you might have lying around. There are several places where you can download templates, including here, here or here, or you can simply find an envelope you like, unfold it and trace.

Recycled calendar kitten envelopes from kimmzy’s flickr photostream

Recycled magazine paper envelopes from janick’s flickr photostream

Recycled Sweater Crafts
I can’t resist these projects made from old sweaters. Leave it to Martha Stewart (and her staff and guests) to come up with such beautiful handmade items. Here are instructions on her website to make recycled sweater mittens (including video!), pouches, pillow covers, soft toys and stuffed animals, christmas stockings and a felted knitting basket.

Homemade Gel Air Freshener
Air fresheners are a nice way to reuse smaller glass jars from baby foods, jams, and fancy condiments. You can even learn to punch fancy lid designs by adapting this project. Add a little extra flair with descriptive labels or decorative embellishments.

gel air fresheners

Pinecone Firestarters
Cozy winter fires are so fun. I only wish our house had a fireplace! Nevertheless, its nice to use all those pinecones in our backyard for something. According to Orvis’ website, pinecone firestarters are “an environmentally friendly and totally sustainable way to start a fire,” plus “there is no messy residue because the wax burns away completely.” So save those chemically treated firestarter sticks and use these babies instead! The perfect opportunity to use up the wax from old, burnt-down candle ends. Instead of paying a small fortune at Orvis or LLBean, it’s easy to make your own firestarter gift baskets. Try these directions here, here or here.

pinecone firestarters

Melted Vinyl Record Bowl
This is a project I’ve mentioned before. These bowls are so easy and fun to make, and there are a ton of old records just waiting to be recycled in this way. Because of the hole in the center, these bowls work best for larger items like fruit, or candy, or it can be used as a catch-all for keys and wallets.

recycled record

Recycled Paint Chip Business Card Holder
I’ve also written a post on these before, but I still think it is one of the coolest projects. Plus these could be used to hold more than just business cards – maybe a tiny set of note paper or sticky notes, or a miniature stack of bookmarks made of recycled greeting cards, even toothpicks! The possibilites are endless. Instructions and templates can be found at Designverb.

recycled paint chip business card holder

Plastic Bag Messenger Bag
My husband found this video on youtube for making a messenger bag by ironing plastic bags. It’s a bit more involved, but the result is SO COOL! Check it out:


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Easy & Elegant with Puff Pastry

potato medley puff pastry

I made a super fast and yummy vegetarian lunch today using just two packaged products from the freezer – Trader Joe’s Potato Medley and a sheet of puff pastry. I am a big fan of puff pastry. It simply makes everything seemingly more fancy and “gourmet.”

This is all I used:

potato medley puff pastry

Here’s how: First pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and set out a sheet of puff pastry to defrost for 10 minutes (follow the directions for specific brands). Cut the sheet into quarters and then cut another square shape in the center of each quarter, about 1 inch from the edges, which allows the sides to rise up better while baking. Once cut, transfer the pastry to a baking sheet covered with parchment.

Meanwhile, heat the potato medley in a skillet, about 6-8 minutes, and then spoon the “filling” into the center of the pastry squares. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Once the pastry looks golden, remove it from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. This keeps the pastry crispy. As a finishing touch, drizzle a little olive oil, top with feta, and add sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Voila! My husband loved it.

Variations: Basically, anything can be used to top puff pastry. Fruit, mixed vegetables, pizza toppings… anything that tastes good and bakes well. My favorite summer mix is to use fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden, cut in half, combined with sliced black olives and a little dill or italian seasoning. This I drizzle with olive oil before baking and then with feta or crumbled goat cheese and a splash of balsamic vinegar. The reddish orange and black makes a dramatic presentation and the flavors really complement each other.

Another variation I’ve tried is topping the pastry with cut apple slices fried in butter and cinnamon. Normally I would have added brown sugar to the mix, too, but it was a birthday treat for a co-worker who was diabetic. Delicious and sugar-free!

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