Tag Archives: DIY

Thrifty Living: How To Make A Terrarium Ornament

30 Jan

As you may remember, some friends and I decided to make this year a Handmade Christmas. What gifts I gave were either thrifted or handmade.  While browsing my local craft store for Halloween decorations in September I found a bin filled with these empty plastic ornaments and immediately I knew I’d be turning them into terrariums come December.

If you’ve never made a terrarium before I have a beginner’s tutorial as well as an assortment of terrarium inspiration and information. Terrarium ornaments are simple to make and it was fun to give my friends the gift of something green and growing during the cold winter months. The medium-sized ornaments were a $1.50 at my local craft store, which meant that even I could afford a bunch to give as presents.

Materials:

  • garden soil, preferably damp, hold the gravel
  • plastic ornaments from a craft store, medium-sized
  • paint brush or chopstick
  • tweezers
  • weeds, moss, or other small plants
  • a funnel (or a piece of paper cut to size and rolled to make a funnel)
  • a small shovel

If making tags like mine you’ll also need:

  • decorative paper
  • glue or rubber cement
  • scissors
  • pencil

Instructions:

1. Take your soil and mix in drops of water (or use a spray bottle) until you have damp–but not soggy–soil.  Soil with good drainage works well, so look for the kind that has bits of Styrofoam mixed in or that is specially made for succulents and cactus. Valley soil is perfect because it’s so sandy, but you probably don’t live near me, so look into your local soil first to see if you can use it straight from the ground like I did.

2. Remove the wire topping of your ornament and fill the it a third of the way full of soil using your trowel and funnel. Make sure any rocks or gravel pieces aren’t going in. While they are useful for drainage they also add weight, which we don’t want.

3. Gently pluck some weeds from the ground (or from the fancy container you purchased your plants in) leaving the roots intact. Gently use your tweezers and the stick end of your paintbrush or chopstick to poke your plant through the hole and arrange so the root side is in the dirt. This is the trickiest part, but also why weeds are a good choice: they are used to growing in challenging circumstances and bouncing back even after they’ve been shoved in a jar.

4. Add a few (very few) more drops of water, replace the top, and there you have it–and awesome handmade terrarium ornament that took you all of fifteen minutes to make.

Let’s say you are giving these as a present and want to make a gift tag like I did. No problem, it’s easy! I used the tags that were already attached to the ornaments because they were simple and sturdy.

1. Leaving the tag on the ornament, trace its shape onto a decorative piece of paper using a very sharp pencil. Include a mark for the center hole.

2. Cut out and use that tracing to make two tags for each ornament you are making.  Cut them out.

3. In each tag, cut a slit and a hole for the plastic ring to go through. This is difficult for me to explain, so if you need a visual, click here.

4. Glue the decorative paper to each side of the tag. I used rubber cement and then set a book on top of each tag to prevent warping.

5. Finally, add the person’s name or a holiday message with a pen. A really good idea would be to include simple care instructions on one side of the tag as terrarium maintenance isn’t exactly a common skill. I did not do this because I only just thought of it, but I wish I would have.

I tried making these with both the larger ornaments and the medium-sized ones and it turns out that the medium-sized ones are far better. I wanted the large ones to work because they could hold more plants and maybe even some plastic toys, but the thin wire ornament tops wouldn’t support all that weight and the whole thing kept falling apart. Not a good sign. The medium size worked perfectly.

You can decorate these with plastic toys as long as they are small, lightweight, and will fit through the opening. You can adjust them with your tweezers and paintbrush once they are in. Ribbon would be a lovely way to accentuate and hang these ornaments, too, if you don’t like the look of the plastic ring or the tag. The fact that these ornaments are so simple is what lends them great potential and versatility.

This project was extra thrifty since I had all the materials on hand except the ornaments. If you try this, please let me know! I’d love to hear how it worked for you.

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Guest Post – DIY Projects for the New Year by Kelly of Let’s Die Friends

3 Jan

Today I’m featuring a guest post from the awesomely talented and completely adorable Kelly of the blog Let’s Die Friends. Twitter pals know her as the fun-loving Mama of a nommable two year old who loves food, thrifting, and good design. I admire her deeply for her silly sense of humor, her wickedly keen taste, and because one time she dress up as a Centaur for Halloween. If she seems familiar it might be because her Etsy shop is one of my favorites. I’m working on special surprise for next week, so today Kelly is filling in and bringing you a round up of thrifty and fun DIY projects to try from around the internet. Take it away, Kelly!

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Thrifty DIY Projects for the New Year

Greetings! I am delighted that Miss Carrie Anne asked me to post on her blog. I love her thrift store scores, DIYs, and overall thriftiness. I put all my fresh herbs in water now thanks to her. True story. So in keeping with her DIY spirit, and since it’s the beginning of a new year, I thought I’d round up some of my favorite projects that I am excited to try this year!

This fringe garland from Sunshine and Carousels  is a great idea if you have a lot of fabric remnants laying around. I can think of a ton of uses for this:

  • Party decorations (stay within the colors of your party)
  • Holiday decorations (Red, white & blue for 4th of July. Hot pink, light pink, and silver for Valentines Day. Not just Christmas!)
  • In place of a headboard on the wall behind your bed
  • Kid’s room
  • You can buy waterproofing spray that turns any fabric into an outdoor fabric and make cute patio garlands. (I think I will do this one!)
  • If the vintage look isn’t your thing, you could use newer fabrics or solid colors.
  • Any place you would put a large framed picture, mirror, or artwork.

Here is a tutorial from Ivey Handcrafted on how to make pom pom flowers. Maybe these will finally be flowers my cat won’t eat and puke up later! But the furry idiot did eat and puke up our fake white Christmas tree, so maybe not. These certainly have that “crafty” look to them, but this project could be as subtle or as crazy as you want. Use all yellow for a “billy button” look. All white or cream would be pretty. Do they make metallic gold yarn? Because hellooo. I plan on filling a vase in my daughter’s play area, so I am going to use every color of yarn I own!

I love this idea from Griottes for a small party! Small. Because you’d need a lot of time to make enough for a large party. Perhaps a dinner party with friends? I don’t know about painting or adding washi tape to the parts that go in peoples’ mouths, though.

Okay, I might not actually try this project, because it would require having a place to put it. But it’s too cute to not share, and maybe you do have a place for it! All you need is a large canvas and some fabric. The way it’s used in this photo, behind the seating area, it’s like pretending you have wallpaper, without the commitment. Brilliant. This would also be a great alternative to fill a large area above a fireplace. If you have a lot of different colors going on in your room and you need a way to bring it all together, find a fabric that has all the colors in it. I suppose it doesn’t even have to be that huge. You could do an 18×24 canvas, or a series of small canvases.

This doily table runner from Ashley Ann looks ridiculously easy. The hardest part would be remembering to look for doilies while you’re out shopping. I like this for any tabletop situation, not just a dining table. You could dye the doilies different colors, or keep them white. It would be neat to make a few of these, and then when Christmas comes back around, hang them vertically for a snowflake decoration.

I suppose it would be very ambitious of me to keep going, since I’m supposed to try all these! This is a good start. Aren’t we lucky to have endless amounts of inspiration via the internet? I hope you enjoyed my list and are inspired to try some of your own creative projects this year! To see what I’m up to, visit my blog Let’s Die Friends or find me on Pinterest.

Guest Post: Pom Pom Tutorial by Emily Bilbery

13 Dec

I am excited to present to you a guest post from the lovely and talented Emily Bilbery of Uffda Designs. Emily is a WAHM who sells her crafts on Etsy while watching and playing with her smooshy-cute daughter Poppy. She’s creative and knows how to have a thrifty good time and today she’s going to show us how to make pom poms. Bonus thrifty tip: lots of times you can find donated yarn at thrift stores when people decide it’s time for a de-stash, so keep your eyes open for thrifty deals.

Take it away, gorgeous!

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season’s greetings, darlings! i’m completely honored to be guest-posting here today. little big is one of my all-time favorite blogs, and i’m so very excited to share a bit of crafty goodness with you all. i share carrie anne’s love of all things frugal and i also wanted my craft tutorial to be something that people on any budget and holding any skill level could make. so today i’m going to show you how to make yarn poms, a yarn pom garland and pom-embellished gift wrapping, without any sewing required! you’ll simply need:

* yarn (can be found at dollar stores and thrift shops, as well as craft stores.)

* sharp scissors

* wrapping paper of your choice, if you plan on using your poms to adorn gifts (rolls of plain brown, recycled paper can be found at dollar stores, target & hardware stores. another great option is hemming blocks thrifted/vintage fabric in various sizes to re-use in many years to come! gifts look so lovely wrapped in pretty fabric and tied with ribbon, string or yarn.)

now it’s time to make some poms!

POM POM TUTORIAL

1) first, begin loosely wrapping your yarn around your index and middle fingers, leaving a small gap between…

2) wrap,  wrap, and wrap some more until you have a large bundle of yarn accumulated! use a little more than you think you’ll need, to create nice fluffy poms.

3) next, cut a small length of yarn (around 6 inches) and wrap it under/around the center of your bundle of wrapped yarn, between your fingers.

4) tie in a basic knot.

5) then slip your fingers out, tighten your strings in the center, and double-knot tightly to secure.

6) then, use your scissors to snip through the loops of yarn. work your way around the little donut…

7) and watch it magically transform into a fluffy yarn pom! trim around your pom with scissors until you have a nice uniform puff.

easy-peasy, right?!

if you’d like to make a garland with your poms, here’s a really easy, no-sew method:

POM POM GARLAND TUTORIAL

1) cut a length of yarn that will reach across the area you want to hang it.

2) create poms in your desired colors & quantity to adorn the garland.

3) cut small lengths of yarn (around 6 inches) to match the number of poms you’re using.

4) tie the small length of yarn onto the large one with a basic knot.

5) then tie your yarn pom on through the center, and double-knot tightly to secure.

6) trim off the excess pieces of yarn, and repeat with your remaining poms to create your garland!

7) (optional) if you’re sewing-savvy, you can just grab an embroidery needle, thread it with yarn, and sew right through the centers of your poms to create a garland in no time!

these garlands are so cheerful and can be created to match any decor – try them for various holidays, or to match a child’s room. you could also make a long bunting to adorn a christmas tree! so very festive!

another great way to feature poms is to decorate gifts with them. this year i’m wrapping all of my christmas gifts with plain brown paper, yarn, and yarn poms. there is no limit to the color combinations you could use, or to the number of poms for each gift! they look equally cute with one pom or many. simply wrap your desired amount of yarn around your package, tie into a knot, and use a small length of yarn to double-knot your poms on (just like in the garland instructions above.)

here’s a few additional pom ideas, just for fun:

POM POM IDEAS AND INSPIRATION

* pom-embellished wreath! james at bleubird made the cutest one i’ve ever seen. plain wreaths can be found at dollar stores & craft stores.

* add poms to mittens, slippers or hats! simply thread some yarn onto an embroidery needle, push a generous stitch through the area you want the pom to lie, tightly double-knot the pom into place, and trim off the excess yarn.

* snag an ornament hook onto individual poms to create instant baubles for your christmas tree.

* pom book mark – cut a small rectangle of cardstock, punch a hole in the top, and tie on a pom!

* pom hair pretty – tie a yarn pom onto a hair elastic, or use hot glue to attach one (or more!) to a hair clip or headband.

happy crafting, and happy holidays! thank you so much again to carrie anne for inviting me to guest post. i hope you guys enjoyed this little tutorial!

cheers!

emily

Thrifty Living: DIY Kiki’s Delivery Service Costume

31 Oct

This year is probably the last year I’ll have any say whatsoever in Isobel’s Halloween costume. I figure as parents you get at least two years, three tops, depending on where their birthday falls, to selfishly pick out a Halloween costume to inflict upon your little darling. After that you can prepare for the next ten or so years of haggling the sluttiness level of your daughter’s costume down to acceptable levels. For now, though, Isobel is still learning that the phrase “trick or treat” is a magical gateway to candy, and she had no problem working up enthusiasm to dress up as one of her favorite movie characters: Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Kiki is an adolescent witch spending a year away from home to gain independence as part of her witch’s training. She opens a flying delivery service and, through trial and error, learns to make friends and trust in her own skills and abilities. This is a great movie for little kids as it has no overly scary imagery or subject matter. It is one of three movies Isobel tolerates. (The other two being The Care Bears Big Wish Movie and the lovely documentary Babies.)

(You’ll have to excuse the mediocre photos. I took these while waiting for my mom to arrive so we could head on over to the Library’s Halloween toddler time. She would only hold still if she was actually watching Kiki, which means terrible lighting and a glazed-over expression.)

(Also, she insists the witch’s broom is held bristle-up. Insists. If you try to fix it she will say, “No, not that way,” and then turn it around anyway.)

Unlike last year I was able to find the right dress while thrifting which solved my biggest (and potentially most expensive) problem. We already had the broom so Isobel could “help” clean, and I made the bow and the radio myself. The radio is an old camera I found while thrifting. I used red duct tape over the case. I thought about adding dials by gluing plastic bottle caps on and decorating it with a sharpie, but that never happened.

I made the bow out of a red headband and some lightly wired ribbon from my boyfriend Michael’s (Arts & Crafts). I made a large loop, twisted it, secured it with a smaller length of ribbon, then attached it to the headband with a glue gun.

Since we are schmucks we ordered her an imported stuffed Jiji the cat for waaay more than I felt comfortable paying for, but I couldn’t find anything thrifted that fit the bill. Plus Anthony wanted to spoil her.

Isobel has no idea we are going trick or treating tonight. It’s going to blow her mind.

DIY Kitchen Set

11 May

 

We haven’t gotten around to getting Isobel a full-on kitchen set yet. I know she’d love one, since “cooking” is one of her favorite pastimes, but kitchen sets so expensive. I keep an eye out for them every time I go to yard sales but I haven’t found anything yet. When my Aunt Patricia visited at Christmas time I asked if she’d do me a favor and draw a few burners and a kitchen sink on a couple of large pieces of construction paper. I could laminate it, I thought. She could set it on the coffee table and put her pots and pans on top of it. It’d be neat, I though.

My Aunt Patricia is an artist, you see, and a type A one at that. She wasn’t going to just make a 2D kitchen on a piece of paper for her favorite great niece. Pfff.

The last time my Aunt came for a visit she toted along these two toys she threw together in an afternoon or two.

She molded the faucet and handles (and look at that! a little spray faucet! It comes out so she can use it to clean!) out of self-hardening clay, then painted them a metallic silver, then glazed them. The handles turn like a real faucet. She made the drain out of a lid and the strainer out of a bead and a found item from her studio.

The stove is so fantastic. She made it with working knobs that move a red circle around so you can turn the burners “on” and “off.”

Isobel decorated it with crayons, as you can see. This means she approves.

The knobs are made from wine corks. Genius.

It’s the details that make this set so awesome.

Little Big Links: Peeps

21 Apr

 

I didn’t have time for Little Big Links last weekend, but I’ve been bookmarking some Easter links that I just had to share. Oh man I love me some Easter Peeps. Anthony surprised me with a box the other day and I let Isobel have a few bites and her eyes lit up and she became obsessed. While good “fresh”, I prefer to age them, like a fine wine, and eat them after they’ve gone a bit stale.

WashingtonPeeps Diorama Contest – a total time suck, in the very best way.

Recipe: Easter Peep S’mores – genius! 

DIY Felt Peeps – I guess Peeps last year-round anyway, but these won’t get sticky after a few months.

Peeps Marshmallow Wreath – This may be the best wreath idea of all time. OF ALL TIME.

Peeps of Catan – It’s Settlers of Catan! With Peeps!

Crochet Peeps – An inexpensive Easter basket filler.

How to Make Peeps Sushi – I’m compelled to make some, though I’d never actually eat it.

Recipe: Homemade Peeps Candy – I bet these are wonderful.

The Feasibility of Peeps and Library Usage – Peeps learn about the library. Awesomeness ensues.

For more links, follow me on Pinterest.

Little Big Links: The Patio

26 Mar

I’m a little anxious for spring.

Ceylon Pitcher: Remember last year’s obsession with the carafe? This modern one is amazing, and anticipates my desire to make naturally flavored waters.

How To Build A Patio: Our house came with a gravel pit that’s now a gravel-and-weed-pit. I want do to something like this to save it.

Mason Jar Lights: lighting is my most favorite patio item to shop for.

Japanese Rain Chains: I’ve wanted one of these since before I had a house. Now I just need to pick the perfect spot.

Vintage Yellow Lantern: It’s not even in use and already the place feels brighter.

Make Your Own Copper Wind Chimes: I love wind chimes. This looks fun.

Little Big Links – Fabric & Sewing

12 Mar

Mixed Tape iPod Case – I’m not the only one with a fondness for mixed tapes.

Make a duvet cover out of flat sheets – We are in the market for a new duvet cover. I think I’m going to look for a vintage flat sheet and then other sheet in a matching, solid color.

Custom Fabric Printing – You’ve probably seen this all over the internet already, but this was too amazing not to include.

DIY Mousepad Project – Mousepads get so gross so quickly. It’d be nice to make a stack on a weekend and then just replace as needed. Christmas is a long way away, but this would also be a great handmade stocking stuffer idea.

Make a Cupcake Pincushion – So very cute! also a great stocking stuffer idea.

DIY Placemat Aprons – I see placemats in thrift stores all the time. I want to make one of these for Isobel.

Make a Toadstool Stool – I’m sorry, it’s hard to type, what with all the squeeeeeing.

DIY Own Fabric Wall Decals – Such a great nursery idea, especially.

 

For more links, follow me on Pinterest.

Little Big Links: Cake

5 Mar

Megan Boley’s Demi-God of Cake — When Megan’s husband turned 30, she recreated a cake in homage to one of their favorite webcomics. A citywide search for multicolored marshmallows commenced.

How to make a faux-mercury cake stand— 99% of the time I am vehemently opposed to any craft that makes things look “faux,” but this is truly gorgeous. And real vintage mercury glass is expensive.

Cookie cutter cake — Such a brilliant party idea–cut shapes out of sheet cake with a cookie cutter.

Cloud Birthday Cake — The kind of cuteness that makes me die inside.

Eggshell Cake — Baking a cake inside an eggshell.

Shark Cupcake Toppers — I want to have a boy (or borrow one) to justify making these.

Dog Cakes — I wouldn’t dream of posting cake links without including Cake Wrecks. The white dog? With the brown frosting? Disgustingly accurate.

Angry Chicken’s Starburst Cake — She took Starburst candy, flattened it, then cut shapes out of it to decorate her daughter’s cake.

For more links, follow me on Pinterest.

MONKEY GIVEAWAY

9 Nov

Oh, Little Big readers. Ask and you shall receive. A few weeks ago I found a cryptic note I’d written as a reminder to myself that said only, “MONKEY GIVEAWAY.” I have no idea what that means but often I’ll write notes to myself using only pithy two-word phrases that I’ll expect to remember later. News flash: I never do! Which makes me wonder if I have another personality living inside me that likes to write notes for the sole purpose of confusing the hell of my dominant personality.

When I tweeted the discovery of the MONKEY GIVEAWAY note I think half the internet responded by enthusiastically demanding I give them a monkey. Which put me in a tough position. I needed to find some sort of monkey to give away or else I was going to look like an Internet Scrooge who was hoarding all the monkeys for myself while the rest of the internet remained chimpless.

All this happened around the time I was writing my terrarium tutorial and inspiration posts. While writing I figured out a humane and legal way of solving the problem of a MONKEY GIVEAWAY: vending machines.

While buying cat food I stumbled upon tiny plastic monkey figurines in a vending machine near the checkout lanes of the pet store. This is a particularly sweet vending machine spot because before they were offering monkeys they had offered fake mustaches. Awesome.

To sum up, I bought the hell out of these vending machine monkeys and am offering THREE SETS OF MONKEYS FOR MY MONKEY GIVEAWAY. Which means three of you lucky readers will get a chance to win a set of MONKEYS.

Right now you’re asking yourself, do you have ADD? Because you mentioned something about terarrariums. Yes I did! You guys! Tiny plastic monkeys are perfect for life inside a terrarium.

Winners, you don’t have to put your monkeys in a terrarium, but how awesome would that be if you made a terrarium, put the monkeys in them, and then posted your photos for all to see (and covet)? That would be rad.

To enter this contest all you have to do is:

  1. Leave a comment. One comment. Your chances are EXTREMELY good because there will be three winners. Multiple comments will be disqualified.
  2. Technically, you don’t have to tweet about my MONKEY GIVEAWAY on twitter, post about it on FB or your blog, but it does make you a better person on the inside and does possibly get you in to Heaven. Just saying.

I’ll announce the winners on Saturday morning.

Look at these little duders. How can you not want one?