Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The $25 Quick & Easy Reupholster

Many years ago, B.K., (that's Before Kids), hubby and I bought a cute little dinette set for our condo. I loved the simple, yet elegant lines of the chairs, and the light beige of the seats that went with just about any color theme I had picked for my dining room.

Of course, now I have two very sticky fingered little boys and my light beige fabric was definitely beginning to show it's age. It didn't make sense to buy a new dinette set and I certainly didn't have the money to have the chairs professionally reupholstered. What's a gal to do but go to her local fabric store, keep her fingers crossed and hope for the best?

With one of my best friends and the unscrewed chair bottom in tow, I checked out JoAnn Fabrics' offerings. I was immediately drawn to a beautiful paisley patterned cloth. But the $54.99/yard sticker price had me running to the clearance section!!! There, my friend found dark gray fabric that was perfect for masking accidental spills, and with it's $8/yd price, it was perfect for my budget.

The staff at JoAnn's were really helpful. They patiently explained which type of cloth would be best suited for my project; and since I brought the seat with me, they were able to tell me exactly how much fabric I needed. If you're a novice at fabrics, I highly recommend this store.

1.5 yds of fabric (for 4 chairs)................$12
Heavy duty staple gun............................$10
Heavy duty staples.................................$2.25

The staple gun and staples originally cost $20 and $4.50, respectively; but, while we were in line, my friend downloaded JoAnn's mobile app and I got those two items at 50% off. Moral of this story, don't forget to bring your smartphone when you're out shopping!!

Below are the steps we took to reupholster the chairs:

You'll need, of course, your fabric, staple gun, and staples. I used 1.5 yds, but, be sure to measure your seats prior to purchase. I included how much I used to provide you with an estimate.

Next step, unscrew those seat cushions!!

Now lay the right side of the fabric facing down on the floor. Position your seat as show below. It order to keep this project easy for a newbie like me, we kept the old fabric on the cushions. Make sure your old cushions are clean. Stains, obviously, are okay. :)

If you're using a patterned fabric, please remember to have your designs all facing the same direction!!
Staple each side down as shown below. After you've down this, you'll be able to finish stapling each side down without worrying about your seat moving off of the center of the cloth.

After you've stapled down the side, pull the corners tightly back and staple them down.

Repeat this process with the other 3 corners.

And voila!

Sorry, couldn't rotate this pic!!
Here's a side by side comparison of the old and new fabric.

New life breathed into my old dinette set, and for just under $25.

Please check out my very talented friend's website. I think you'll like it.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

DIY Snow Globes

Looking for a fun way to spend a lazy afternoon in with the kids? Looking for an easy Christmas project?Make snow globes!

You'll need:

Epoxy glue
Glass jars
Glycerin (or baby oil)
Distilled water
Plastic or ceramic figurines


You can find glass jars at your local craft store or recycle old glass food jars. I used an old spaghetti sauce jar and an old jam jar. If you go the recycle route, you'll have to first clean and remove the labels from the jars.

To remove the labels, put the jars in a pot of water and dishing soap and bring to a boil.

Once the water boils, remove it from the heat and wait until the water cools enough for you to handle the jar. At that point, use a stiff bristle brush to scrub away the label, glue, and the "best by date" stamp.

Using sandpaper, scratch the inside of your jar's lid and glue your figurines there. Make sure you purchase the quick drying epoxy glue or it may take hours for the glue to dry. I got mine from AC Moore, and using the 55% off coupon I found in the paper, I got it for just under $2.50.

In order to raise up my snowman and elf, I cut the top off of Archer's plastic  Danimals  smoothie container. I glued  glitter on it and now it looks like a snow covered mound.

Alternatively, you can also glue the figurines to the bottom of your jar for a different look.

Hold the figurines in place for a minute or two to make sure it doesn't move while the glue dries.  Set bottle aside until the glue fully dries.
After 5 minutes have passed, turn the figurines upside to make sure the glue has dried.

I didn't do this, but I also suggest gently tapping the figurines. I  thought my figurines were secure, but as you'll see in  subsequent  photos, I lost my snowman!!
Fill the jar with distilled water. If you put your figurines on the lid, remember to leave enough room for them when you screw the top back on.

You can either buy distilled water from the grocery store or make your own at home. Just boil  water and let it come back down to room temperature.
Add as much glitter as you'd like and about a teaspoon of the glycerin for a small jar, more for a larger one. The glycerin will slow the fall of the glitter and make it look like it's really snowing. If you don't have glycerin lying around, you can also use baby oil. Seal the lid with the epoxy. You can also add glitter to the sides of the lid for a more dramatic effect.

As you can see, my snowman didn't make it into the jar!
You can leave your globe as is or add a base. I glued my snow globe to an old wine glass.

This project might be better suited for older children, but my 3 year did have fun choosing the figurines at the store and dumping the glitter in the jar. And of course, he had a great time shaking the snow globe and watching the "snow" fall once the project was complete. 

The great thing about this project is that you don't have to limit this to just Christmas. If you're going to a baby shower, glue a plastic baby to the lid and add plastic baby shower themed confetti to the jar. If it's for Halloween, use a spooky figurine and black glitter. If you're passionate about animals, make an animal themed one. The possibilities are endless!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Personalized Ceramic Gifts

What exactly does one give to the grandparent that truly does have it all? I racked my brain trying to think of what the boys should give their grandpa for his birthday this past week. A google search of grandfather gifts offered up the suggestion of a "I'm the Grandpa" shirt, "World's Best Grandpa", and others of the ilk. I though how much more fun and meaningful would it be if I had the boys make their own "Grandpa" shirt.

But then I envisioned poor Grandpa out in public sporting a shirt that looked like it was designed by a 3 and 1 year old, (you know, since it was designed by a 3 and a 1 year old).

I did like the idea of the boys personalizing the gift for Grandpa, so I decided to pursue that line of thinking.  I thought what can I have the boys make that Grandpa can take out from time to time to admire, and would not detract from his style. I thought, how about his very own plate and mug designed by his favorite baby Mondriaans?

You'll need:

Ceramic paint markers - This 4 pack normally costs $15, but using a coupon from the Michael's flyer in the Sunday paper, I was able to get snag them for around $9.
Ceramic dishes            -  Found the plate and mug at the local dollar store. Can't beat that!

The paint is non toxic, but I still felt a bit ify about having lips or food touching the marker, so....

...I taped off the rim of the mug...
...and covered the middle of the plate with newspaper.
Archer painted the mug and Alexander painted the plate. I think the set turned out really  nice!
Bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. I'm not sure if this is dishwasher safe, so I recommend hand washing only.

And of course, this idea is reserved only for the kiddies. You can make your own personalized plates for any occasion. You can design your own wedding shower plates complete with the wedding date painted on the rim; instead of placecards for a dinner party, personalized plates with the guests' names on it; etc. There are a million ways to use this idea!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Angry Birds Pizza!!

My three year old loves, loves, LOVES Angry Birds. He loves it so much so, that when I asked him last week if he wanted to eat pizza, he replied that he wanted to Angry Birds pizza. So, I rolled up my sleeves and gave it a crack. Archer loved it, and I think your little one will too!

First, roll out your favorite pizza dough and transfer it to your baking sheet.

No need to make the edges pretty!! 
Using a dull knife, sketch out the shape of the red angry bird into the dough. The nice thing with dough is if you make a mistake, it's ok, it's a very forgiving medium. Just be sure not to cut the dough until you're happy with the shape of your angry bird, or you make have to re-roll the dough. Once you have a decent angry bird sketched out, cut it out, and remove the excess dough.

You can see some old sketch marks. That's ok, they'll be covered by the sauce and cheese.
Add sauce and cheese.

Next, add the pepperoni for the birds feathers. You'll have to cut some of the piece to size. Overlap the pepperoni. I find the pepperoni tends to slide towards the edge of the pizza resulting in gaps in the bird's feathers. Overlapping will resolve this problem.

Now it's time to add the bird's features. Use sliced black olives for the bird's eyebrows and pupils. Use mushroom caps for the eyes. For some reason, the grocery store didn't have yellow bell pepper the day I went shopping, so I used yellow squash.

Bake at 425 degrees until the cheese melts and the crust is golden, about 12 min. This pizza does take a little longer to prepare than a normal pizza, but, if your kid loves Angry Birds as much as mine does, it'll be well worth the time.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Personalized Name Tags

Here's a fun and creative name tag to attach to any gifts you may be giving, plus, you'll have a nice little art project for the kiddies.

You'll Need:

3/4 c salt
3/4 c flour
1.5 tsp veg oil
1/4 c water
baking tray
wax/parchment paper
glitter (optional)
strips of wire (optional)
varnish (optional)

Add salt, flour, oil, and water in a large bowl and mix until combined.
Mixing with your hands can be more fun than using a spoon!
Roll out dough and use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes.
Cut a small length of wire and curve it into a "U" shape and press the side of your tag. If you don't have wire, you can use a paperclip as well. This piece of metal will provide you a place to tie a string so you can attach it to your gift.
Place the tags on a wax-lined baking sheet and  place into a oven preheated to 350 degrees.
Personalize your tag however you'd like, paint, glitter, varnish, etc.
If you have any leftover dough, put it in an air tight container and save for another day.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Backyard Scavenger Hunt!

Looking for a fun outdoor activity for your little ones? Try taking your children on a backyard scavenger hunt! This activity will require a little prework on your part.

First, eat 12 eggs and save the egg carton. :)

Next, grab your camera, go outside, and take pictures of 12 different items that your find in your backyard/neighborhood. Make sure these items are small and can fit in one of the hollows of the egg carton.

You'll need an empty egg carton and 12 pictures of items found in your backyard.

I pasted the 12 pictures onto a word doc and shrunk them so that the picture would fit inside the egg carton. Cut out the pictures and glue to the inside of the egg cartoon lid.

Hand the egg carton to your little one and let them go exploring!

And here is a completed scavenger hunt!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sneak in Those Veggies!! (With or Without a Pasta Machine!)

I have a problem most parents experience in preschool aged children...Archer refuses to eat. And when he does eat, he refuses to eat healthy. In an effort to avoid a battle at every meal, I decided to sneak in some veggies into a format I knew Archer would love...pasta!

Making pasta may seem intimidating if you've never made it before, but it is relatively simple to make once you've gone through the process. Granted, it does require more effort that reaching into your pantry and pulling out a box of store made pasta, but the taste of homemade pasta is worth tenfold the effort.

You'll need:

1 - 10oz box frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
5 large eggs

1- Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Once water is boiling, add the package of spinach. Let it cook 45-60 seconds. Pour contents of the pot into colander and run it under cold water for a few sec. Once the spinach cools down, squeeze it until you remove all moisture.

2- Crack the 5 eggs into a bowl, add spinach, and a little salt. Whisk together.

3- Place the flour on a mat or clean working surface, make a well in the flour. Pour in the egg mixture. Slowly push in flour from the inside of the well into the egg and mix. When half the flour is incorporated, start kneading the dough. Once the dough has formed set it aside and scrape away any flour that was not incorporated.

4- Lightly flour your workspace and begin kneading the dough again. Knead until the dough is soft and smooth and just slightly sticky. It should not stick to the counter or your hands. This should take 5-10 min.

5- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

6- Now you're ready to roll out your dough. You can either use a pasta machine or roll it out by hand. A pasta machine will more quickly and evenly roll out the dough for you and will also cut the dough as well.

If you don't have a pasta machine, you can roll it out by hand, but it will take longer and you may not be able to get it as thin as a pasta machine. Flour the dough before rolling to prevent it from sticking.

If you want to roll the dough out by hand, make a small ball out of the dough and flatten it with your hands as shown in the upper righthand side of the pic. Then finish rolling it out with your rolling pin.

Again, a pasta machine will cut the dough for you, but if you doing it by hand, use a knife to cut the dough in your desired shape. (Or with your child's favorite cookie cutters!!)The thinner the pasta, the less time it takes to boil. Also, the thinner the pasta, the less it tastes like spinach and if you're trying to use this to sneak veggies into a young child, this is a good tip to remember. Trust me, thick spinach pasta will be sent back by a discerning 3 year old!!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Personalized Match Boxes

Here's a fun, easy project the kids can help you complete. And since Father's Day is right around the corner, these would be great for the kiddies to hand out to daddies and granddaddies.

You'll need:

Modge Podge
Match boxes
Your favorite pictures
Small brush
Magnet sheets (optional)

After selecting your pix, (Archer had a lot of fun helping me choose the pictures), use the match box to outline the part you want to cut out.
Using the brush, apply a thin layer of Modge Podge to the front of the match box. Here is a pic of Archer helping me apply the Modge Podge. Firmly press your picture to the match box. Apply a thin layer of Modge Podge on the the picture. Apply a second coat 15 minutes later to seal the photo.
Here's the finished product. I also cut a magnet sheet to the size of the boxes and glued it the back of the boxes. Now these match boxes double as cute magnets. This will come in real handy during a black out and you're looking for matches in the dark. You'll know exactly where they are!

I got a 10 pack of match boxes at my local grocery store for $.69. I bought the Modge Podge at Micheal's for $4.50 after using the 50% off coupon found in the newspaper. The 10 pictures cost under $1. I simply re-purposed a magnet sheet I got in the mail advertising pizza. So all in all, the whole project cost about $6.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Semi-Homemade Wrapping Paper

So, I'm the type of person who wraps a gift literally 3 minutes before heading out the door to get to the event. I was recently invited to a birthday party that was to be held on a Wednesday morning, and since hubby would be at work at that time and would not be able to help me get the boys ready, I thought it would be best to wraps the presents the day before.

I go to my stash of wrapping and discover that I only have Christmas paper left. I really didn't feel like loading the kids into the car just to pick up wrapping paper, so I decided to improvise. :)

I measured and cut the paper to fit the gifts and flipped the paper over and had Archer paint the blank side.

Archer loves painting.

Here's the finished artwork.

These gifts look really nice in their Archer originals!
To make the gift more fun for the 4 year old birthday boy, instead of attaching a card, I added a children's book and noted on the inside cover who the gifts were to and from. I also attached a sheet of stickers, because what 4 year old doesn't love stickers? If you're wrapping gifts for a little girl, another fun addition would be to sprinkle glitter to the paint while its still wet. :D

Now, this semi-homemade wrapping paper may not be the most appropriate paper for a child's gift, (and was done since I was in a bit of a pinch), it IS a great idea for wrapping the Father's Day present your child intends on giving his daddy in about a week. You can also use this idea to wrap gifts intended for mothers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, godparents, etc. They love this kind of stuff! ;)


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homemade Honey & Oil Hair Mask

Here's a great homemade hair mask that I use to not only condition my hair, but to increase it's shine as well. It takes only 2 ingredients and 30 minutes.

Put 5 tbsp olive oil and 4 tbsp honey in a microwave safe bowl. (Add the olive oil first, that way the honey will glide right off the spoon.) If you have short hair, you can half the amounts.

Microwave honey and oil. I microwave it for 30 seconds, but microwave it to a temperature that works for you. Mix to combine.

Add to hair and scalp and cover your head with a shower cap. If you don't have a shower cap, a plastic bag works great. After 20 minutes, shampoo out. (It may take two shampooing to get all the mask out.)

Prepare yourself for some incredible hair that cost only pennies to get!