Tag Archives: Present

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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Crafty: The Heart-Shaped Box

17 Jan

I am so excited to finally share this project with you. I really didn’t do much in the way of handmade gifts for Isobel this year. Focusing on thrifting, hosting Christmas, and just being with my family took up most of my time so I thought I really wouldn’t bother with handmade gifts for Isobel. She is just swimming in toys and things she carries around to play with that aren’t toys, and I knew she’d be getting piles of stuff for Christmas, so it was easy to justify not making her a bunch of gifts. And I’ve already explained my theory of thrifted gifts and why I’m an asshole anyway. But, when the Pixie and I stopped by the craft store a week before Christmas to pick up supplies for the gift I was making my friends, I couldn’t pass up this sweet little paper heart box for 99 cents.

Using craft paint I already had, I used time when Isobel was with Grandma to paint layer after layer of pink paint on the brown paper surface. I decided to paint the inside of the box red to make it stand out more, which I don’t regret but made the whole thing more complicated because each mistake meant waiting for paint to dry to apply another layer to fix the errant blotches.

The craft store also had these fantastic jewels for three bucks, and I can’t think of a more perfect treasure to fit inside. Isobel adores her heart box, and I’m so glad I took the time to make it. Total cost of the project was less than five bucks. Although I made this as part of Handmade Christmas, wouldn’t this be the perfect Valentine gift, or even project, if your little one was school-aged? It could be filled with chocolate and covered with doilies or modge-podge.

Little Big Shop: White Elephant Extravaganza

1 Dec

This year many of you will be invited to holiday parties in which you will be required to bring a gift of questionable taste. Although terms vary from place to place, this is generally what’s known as a White Elephant Gift Exchange. A good friend of mine has participated in such an exchange with her siblings for many years, and each year they try to outdo each other by finding the most ridiculous, most ludicrous gift of them all.

Perhaps you have been invited to such a get together? If so, do I have the Thrift Store Gore for you.

Yes, I’ve seen some pretty awful things in thrift stores over the years. Adult-sized Spiderman Underoos. A luncheon with a cheetah. Whatever this is. But now, dear readers, you can own a piece of Thrift Store Gore history. I have assembled some of my weirdest finds so you can become Queen (or King, we don’t hate) of the Gift Exchange.

These last few months have been spent tracking down the weirdest thrifted items to ensure only the most tasteless and uniquely terrible gift giving possible.

How about a decorative plate, commemorating different school houses that burned down?

Or a  book called “Wild Animals at Home,” a primitive predecessor of LOLCATS, in which someone took photos of animals at the zoo and then wrote offensive, and at times, horribly sexist, captions underneath them.

The author thinks animals really hate Democrats.

It’s a fun read for the kids! (Not really!)

I’m pretty taken with this handcrafted abalone lamp sombody’s cracked-out uncle cobbled together from a sea shell, a light socket, and an electrical cord. Bonus: it might be a fire hazard!

Years ago my friend Stefanie and I found a book called “I Can’t Think Of A Thing To Say!” while thrifting. It gives all sorts of advice on what to say to that boss hunk with the parachute pants.

The inside cover says “Especially for Girls.” It looks like Kotex packaging.

For those with crazy parents, who wouldn’t want to give them a “SPEAKING OF THE GRANDCHILDREN” photo album from 1970? (My mom thought this was a great idea, actually. But since she has only one grandchild I’d have to fill the rest of the album with cat photos.)

Last but not certainly not least, I found a creepy Anne Geddes doll that suggests she may be into furries. Give this to that extra irritating coworker who belches loudly and smells of Redbull, powdered donuts, and hopelessness.

But wait, there’s more! The first customer to purchase something from this section of my shop will get this slightly disturbing sheet of vintage wrapping paper free:

It’s a little crinkled so I’m not selling it, although it’s definitely weird enough to qualify as Thrift Store Gore.

Those of you who’ve purchased from me before know that each order comes with a photo thank you card and these gifts are no exception. Lucky buyers of Thrift Store Gore will get a photo of drunk Santa for your troubles. Someone’s been naughty this year! SPOILER ALERT: It’s Santa.

Stop by the shop and visit the Post-Cyber-Monday Sale, and pick up some Thrift Store Gore while you’re at it. Because you are never too old to be eaten by an Anne Geddes bear.

Flip Book: Monkey

16 Apr

Action Shots

16 Dec

Friend and fellow Etsy Team Librarian member, Lisa Rabey, recently sent me two awesome pins from her shop.  When she first started toying with the idea of opening a shop, I was on hand to critique and offer advice when asked and she repaid me by sending me two of her awesome pins. It was a welcome surprise that I totally did not expect.

She requested I send her shots of me wearing them, but I’d rather do one better and post them here so everyone can see how awesome these pins are.

The first pin is one of her Pride & Predjudice pieces. It’s from one of my favorite parts in the book, when Elizabeth walks the six miles or whatever to Netherfield to check on her sick sister Jane. She arrives flushed from the exercize and thoroughly muddy. Caroline critisizes her actions by saying this:

“I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.”

 

I love it because I’ve known a lot of bitches like Caroline in my time.  How I love to mock them.

The next pin is from her Custom Pin line, which if you have ever wanted a pin like this with your own favorite saying, you’re in luck. These are totally cute and can say virtually anything you want as long as the text will fit. Lisa made me this one by taking a line I said from my twitter stream. It says,

“Print Screen: You Complete Me.”

 

Print screen, you never let me down. You’re probably my favorite keyboard function. Hearts!

Lisa’s shop is called Excessively Diverting and although she’s been busy putting together a large order for a company in HOLLYWOOD she will give equal attention to your order, because that’s how special you are.

Etsy Picks: Toddlers & Young Children

13 Dec

I no longer wonder why so many people create treasuries on Etsy. It’s like window shopping, really, really fun window shopping.  A friend on Twitter recently asked if I could put together an Etsy Picks list of gifts for a toddler or a small child, particularly including items for boys. The amount of awesome stuff I found is staggering, and I had more than a little trouble editing it down to the items listed here.

Etsy, you never disappoint.

1. House Blocks

Create a lovely neighborhood for your hot wheels or littlest pet shop animals.

2. Crayon Roll

Roll up your crayons for easy travel and pull out in case of waiting room or restaurant emergencies.  Or keep them in the roll at home, because those flimsy cardboard boxes never last more than few weeks anyway.

3. Magnetic Fishing Set

Finally! A fishing game I will 1. be successful at and 2. enjoy. Bonus: if you have cats, this is like two toys in one.

4. Lego Crayons

I have a weakness for rainbow colors.

5. Personalized Car Mat

I am definitely ordering this for Isobel when she’s older. This Isn’t just any car mat—it’s your own neighborhood as a car mat. Awesome and educational.

6. Felt Veggies

Start good habits early.

7. Felt Numbers

These don’t have to be so lovely to be so useful, but they are.

8. Wooden Dinosaurs

What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs?

9. Sailboat

These are freaking awesome. Simple, inexpensive, hours and hours of fun.

I want one.

10. Personalized Super Hero Capes

For your little super hero.

11. Robot Woodcuts

I also want these. For myself.

Is that wrong?

12. Scoop and ball

Scoop them! Sort them! Chase them across the floor!

13. Wooden Camera

The with pushable button and adjustable “lens.”

Pardon my drool.

14. Card Table Fort

So. Freaking. Awesome.