Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Save those wine bottles!!!

I came across a video( Unity Stamp Co.) the other day showing how to make a beautiful winter centerpiece from empty wine bottles.

Pin ItCenterpiece I made

   After I was done watching it I thought I have to do this.  I emailed the link to my mom.  By the time I talked to her my dad was already working on building a tray!

It was a fun and easy project!

You will need:
 3 empty wine bottles
White flat spray paint
Mod podge or a spray adhesive
Epsom salt
Misc. filler, sprays, candles, etc.
Tray to hold creation

First, spray paint your the wine bottles. 
After they have dried cover the bottle with glue from the neck down.
Roll in Epsom salt.
That's it!
Well, pretty much it.  After the bottles have dried from the glue you can go crazy on making the centerpiece however you fancy.

We made two centerpieces, so six bottles.  One can of spray paint was plenty.  You also use very little Epsom salt and we used mod podge to glue it on.  

We picked up flameless candles at menards.

Wood tray my dad made from some scrap wood he had.

Epsom salt


Here is another link to the same project found on pinterest.
Cleverly Inspired Blog-Wine bottles

Monday, November 5, 2012

Upcycled/Repurposed/Pinterest/Dollar Store Vignette

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My winter vignette.  
(Don't worry the snow will be here soon enough then "winter" won't seem out of place.)

My old wreath with a few dollar store accessories and some antlers.

It's never too early to get started on handmade stuff!

Bottle Cap Ornaments

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My main craft was the bottle cap ornaments.  I found the idea on pinterest.  I would link to the source, but the picture on pinterest doesn't direct me to a website.   I winged it on directions.

I have been collecting bottle caps all summer for something like this.  The supplies I used were:
piece of wood to pound on,
pliers(handy if you can get two) 
bottle caps, 
jump rings, 
rock gems you can get at the dollar store, 
variety of papers, 
and I also had a machine that cut nice perfect circles and letters for me.

Awl, hammer, board, bottle caps, jump ring, and pliers.

 Hammer some holes on two opposite sides of the bottle cap.  Just big enough to fit the jump ring through.
With your pliers attach the jumpers.  For the inside of the bottle cap use your creativity.  

I was able to use a die cut machine to cut out my circles and letters.  Modge podge or a glue gun worked.  Adding the dollar store gems gives you a magnified look.

And who doesn't have a few buttons to spare?  

I also added a little interest by attaching a wire of beads to a jump ring on the button.  

Last year we had fun making our own ornaments for our Christmas tree.  So much so that we are doing it again this year.  Some might think its a little early to get started on Christmas but when it comes to handmade Christmas I don't think it's ever too early!

One ornament down!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Caramels Revisited: Apple Cider Edition

When life brings wonderful people into your viewfinder, people with apples, people with apple cider presses--one just needs a way to say thank-you.  We had the great fortune to press cider a week and a half ago--that cider has been enjoyed chilled, warmed with cinnamon sticks, a gallon is fermenting it's way in to a hard cider, we've used it to make a braised red cabbage. Today, I turned a little of that liquid gold into caramels.  And these little gooey gems will make such a nice little gift!

I found the recipe on Pinterest (I know, I know... people who are 'on' Pinterest never stop talking about it...that's because it's an ingenuity aggregator...what's not to love, people?).  Here is the original blog post with the recipe:


These caramels are unique.  The first flavors are a riot of 'pumpkin pie' spices going all fireworks-like in your mouth and then the backside gives you the tang of the reduced apple cider.  Delish!  For my next batch (and you'd better believe there will be a next batch) I think I'll leave out the allspice and nutmeg and just make a cinnamon/apple caramel.  I'm thinking a layer of crushed/roasted peanuts on the bottom of my pan would make a fun 'caramel apple' twist.

Below I've attached a few pictures from our cider pressing day-- Great fun was had by all and with such spectacular results!

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hair! Shining, gleaming, streaming--flaxen, waxen...

Barrettes, Headbands, and Elastics, Oh My!

Mauren & Zoe with our DIY back to school project du jour!

With Kindergarten right around the corner and some school shopping money from an auntie, the girls have more hair accessories than they had a couple weeks ago.   To get the glitter and glamour under control, we looked to Pinterest for some inspiration for a DIY hair accessory organizer!  This is our result!  We had a lot of fun, used a power tool and we're happy with the result, too!

We started with some frames I'd picked up at a rummage sale years ago that had been DIYed into bulletin boards.  We removed the back on one of the frames. 

 We took some spare chicken wire and clipped it to approximate size. 

 Then we took some ribbon and hit the sewing machine.  

We folded the ribbon over on itself and sewed a seam, then repeated two more times.

Next we used the staple gun to staple multiple ribbons in a criss-crossing pattern. We then used the staple gun to staple down the chicken wire.

Following that step, we nailed some pilot holes and screwed in some cup hooks on the bottom to hang elastics and skinny hair bands.

We had to go looking for all the hair accessories next!

...and here's our finished product!  The girls can clip their barrettes to the ribbons or the chicken wire. We had a lot of girly fun on quiet time today!

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Saturday, August 25, 2012


My basil has grown really well this summer.  It was time to take my nice full basil bush and make some pesto.  Pesto is really simple to make and can add SO much flavor to any dish.  
You need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Pine Nuts
Parmesan cheese
Lemon juice
and Basil

Exact Amounts for a recipe that should give you 2 cups of pesto
4 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
2 T. of lemon juice

This whole process is super simple if you can use a food processor.

Chop up pine nuts, oil, and garlic.

Add basil

Then blend in cheese and lemon juice.

If you aren't going to use the pesto soon.  Freeze in ice cube tray.  When frozen pop out and stick in zip lock bag and stick it back in the freezer to use when needed.

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When we make homemade pizza I love to make my pizza with pesto instead of pizza sauce.  Add some grilled chicken, MMMMmmmmm!

Another favorite recipe of mine is grilled chicken with pesto spread on top and a slice of melted mozzarella cheese on top.  Served over pasta tossed with lemon....my mouth is watering just thinking of this.  Doesn't help that my hands still have the wonderful smell of garlic and basil : )

My pesto recipe was found on http://www.pickyourown.org/pesto.php.  This is my go to website for anything that has to do with preserving.

The pesto chicken and lemon pasta were inspired from here:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Birthday Bonanza... A [diy] blitz!

Pin ItSummer Birthdays... Summer Craftingdays...

It's been a hot, hot, hot summer.  That's saying something when you live in the 'Air-conditioned City'.  We've even turned on our air conditioning. Once. 

We've also been turning on the creativity.  We have a lot of trips around the sun to celebrate these long, stretched out, summery days.  With twins with summer birthdays and lots of friends with sun-drenched birthdays, I thought I'd highlight some gifts we've given and some the girls have received!

Somewhere, Over the Rainbow....

...skies are blue.  And if you dare to dream it, you can make a 'rainbow' piñata to add to the Wizard of Oz themed party you're invited to!  Here are some pictures of the piñata we made.  I used cardboard to create the form and paper-mached over the seems.  I tried to needle felt polyfil to the styrofoam I put on the clouds, but hot glue made it a little more secure.  Oh, and you know we filled this bad boy with lemon drops and skittles.  Why not, right?

What's an Oz themed party without a set of costumes for some latecommers to the Zhu-zhu pet craze? Mo & Zo just had to make a whole series of velcro-enabled costumes for one of their best buds.  We also made a witch costume, but it didn't make the picture!

Beach Bums

Summer in Duluth means hittin' the beach.  We get down to the shores of ol' Gitchagumi every single chance that comes along.  Why not, right?  For our beach lovin' friends, the girls and I put together some 'Beach Baking' kits.  When the girls were just a couple years old, they received this as a gift from a dear cousin with a creative mama.  You put together a bunch of dollar store cooking/baking items and voilá, you have a beach baking kit.  We added in a chef's hat and I made up some recipe cards (pictures of which are below) with sand inspired recipes to round out the gifts!  Super fun!

For a Cool Chick 

For a really cool chick celebrating her birthday with a chicken themed party set in her backyard coop, I made a paper-mache chicken. A little newsprint, some paper toweling, some wire and some liquid starch and you've got yourself a cute little bird for a cute, artistic chick.  Add in some paints, feathers, sparkles, jewels and sequins and it's a fun gift you can make that the recipient can embellish! 

Fort Fun

Summer days are great for spending each possible moment filling one's lungs with fresh air.  But, although it seems that February is light years away, the realist buried somewhere inside knows that less desirable conditions are due their day.  For their birthday, Mauren & Zo received a 'Fort Kit' from their friends the Gorts.  It included clothes pins, some chip clips, a skein of rope and a large vinyl tablecloth.  It has been well-used already on some cooler mornings.  It's fun for the boyscout of a dad we have in this house, too.  He loves practicing his knots!

 A box full of letters, you might like to read...

Another inspired idea the girls received was a homemade sack filled with stationery.  And not just your run o' the mill stationery.  This included note cards, envelopes, stickers and the much loved, homemade address labels with their names on them.  The girls were able to use some for their thank you cards, and they have fun playing 'post gal' on the homefront.  Such a great idea-- who doesn't love sending and receiving 'real' mail? 

A fist full of dollars? 

Chad received a duct tape wallet made by Ducti many years ago from his lil'  sis, Suzy.  When it wore out, I tried my hand at making the wallets from scratch.  I'm out of practice, but it's come to my attention that a pal o' mine's old duct tape wallet I made him several years ago is on it's last legs.  So, I tried to polish off my rusty skills to make him a new one.  Pinterest is FULL of fun ideas for duct tape accessories, many of which come with tutorials.  All the new patterns and colors of duct tape can add some flair, but for this dude, I think simple is okay.   The picture below shows the wallet I made and Chad's old, retired Ducti wallet.

And this is what we've been up to-- a whole lot of fun for some fun people!


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