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Monday, July 22, 2013

Crafty Back-to-School Supplies

This year give your school supplies your own personal twist with these school supply craft ideas perfect for back-to-school.

Changeable Carryall Tins
Need a handy place to stash lunch money, notes, or other small but important items? These personalized, changeable tins are just the thing. What you'll need:
Small, empty metal box, such as the kind Altoids mints come in
Adhesive-backed magnetic sheet
Colored pencils or markers
How to make it: Trace the top of the tin onto both the paper and the magnetic sheet, then draw and color a design on the paper. Cut out both shapes, remove the backing from the magnet, and stick the drawing to it. Set the decorated magnet on the top of the tin, then fill the tin with all those very important things.

The Colorful Coverup Notebook
Here's a fun and fuzzy way to dress up your plain notebook. What you'll need:
Spiral-bound notebook
Tacky glue
Pipe cleaner
Colored paper
How to make it: Spruce up a plain spiralbound notebook with bold stripes by using tacky glue to stick pipe cleaners (the extrawide, fuzzy type work especially well) onto the cover. Fold the pipe cleaner ends against the top and bottom edges of the inner cover, then conceal them with a glued-on sheet of colored paper.

Magnetic Book-Page Marker
Here's a magnetic marker that will be sure to stick on the last page you visited. What you'll need:
Colored paper or card stock
Magnetic strips
How to make it: Cut 2 rectangles (14 by 3 1/2 inches and 11 by 3 inches) out of contrasting shades of colored paper or card stock. Glue the smaller atop the larger to create a place for your child to keep a running list of the books he reads. Glue matching magnetic strips (sold at most office supply stores) to the ends. Fold the marker in half and decorate the front flap. To use the marker, simply fold it over the page you wish to flag; the magnets will hold it in place.

Tee Is for Tote
When your child outgrows her favorite shirt, use this easy craft to turn it into a handy tote bag. What you'll need:
Old T-shirt
Needle and threat (or fusible bonding web, such as Super Weight Stitch Witchery)
Fabric glue (optional)
How to make it: Cut off the shirt's sleeves, collar, and bottom as shown. Turn the shirt inside out and sew up the bottom hem (or close the seam with fusible bonding web). If you like, prevent the shoulder seams from unraveling by putting a few dots of fabric glue on each seam end. Turn the tee right side out, and it's ready to tote!

Lunch Money Holder
With this clever change purse, your child will be able to keep all his cafeteria cash up his sleeve until he needs it. What you'll need:
Toddler-size sock
Tacky glue
Wooden hand (available at many craft and fabric stores)
Magnetic strip with adhesive back
How to make it: To create the sleeve portion of the holder, cut off the foot of the sock across the heel, and discard it. Then hem the cut edge of the sock tube by turning it under and gluing it in place. Apply more glue inside the hem and sandwich the wrist of the wooden hand between the front and back of the tube. Firmly press the layers together, making sure the sock is sealed all the way across. Cut 2 pieces of magnetic strip to fit across the inside of the sock's open end. Remove the backing and, making sure the strips are aligned, stick them to the fabric. These will function as a clasp to keep the money inside.

Book Blankets
Give favorite books the protection they deserve with these felt book covers. Customize your cover with a notebook pocket, faux button closure, or penholder. What you'll need:
Embroidery thread and needle
Button (optional)
Self-adhesive Velcro dot (optional)
How to make it: To make a cover, open your chosen book and measure the width and height. Add one inch to each measurement and cut out a piece of felt with those dimensions. For the inside flaps, cut two additional pieces of felt the same height as the main piece and two-thirds the width of the closed book's front cover. Lay an inside flap on top of each end of the main piece and pin the flaps and the main piece together. With embroidery thread, sew a running stitch about 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch from the edge around the entire border. If you like, add one of these extras, Notebook pocket: Before attaching the inside flaps, cut a piece of felt that's 1 1/2 inches wider and 1/2 inch shorter than your notepad. Sew it in the center of what will be the front cover of the book. Faux button closure: Before attaching the inside flaps, cut a strap that's 1 1/2 inches wide and as long as the width of an inside flap. Sandwich the strap between the back flap and the cover and pin it in place, then sew around the entire edge of the cover, as noted above. With scissors, round the end of the strap and sew on a button. Affix a self-adhesive Velcro dot to the strap and the front of the cover. Penholder: After the cover is finished and on the book, cut a 1 3/4-inch square out of felt. With the book cIosed, lay the square over a pen on the book's spine and pin it in place. Take the cover off the book, then sew on the square.

Personalized Notebooks
Customize plain notebooks with collaged covers tailored to each recipient. Brown paper bags make sturdy covers, and they're free! If you have guests, make sure there are enough scissors to go around. What you'll need:
brown paper bags
scrapbooking paper and colored card stock
glue dots
blank notebooks (such as composition books)
glue stick
How to make it: Trace a notebook onto a paper bag. Cut out the shape and use a glue stick to adhere it to the front of the notebook. Cut shapes from the decorative papers and arrange them on the notebook, adhering them with a glue stick or glue dots. Helpful Tip: THE 3-D VERSION: To add dimension to your collage, bend up the edges of your shapes before gluing them to the cover. Use this method to create a flower with pop: glue petaled circles in a stack from largest to smallest. MONOGRAM: Top your cover with simple cutouts of your recipient's initials.

Colorful Containers
Want to send your child to school with a lunch that's picture perfect? Just pack it in a whimsical hand-decorated container that will be instantly recognizable should it end up in the lost-and-found bin. What you'll need:
Disposable plastic containers
Permanent colored markers
How to make it: Make sure the container and lid are clean. Then use the markers to embellish their outer surfaces with simple, playful drawings. For a fun effect, you may want to decorate the underside so your child will discover the design looking through the empty container when he's finished his lunch. Just remember to print any words backward so they'll be readable. If the drawings fade after multiple washings, simply retrace them.

It's a Stretch Notebook
This notebook is great to keep paper in and school supplies on the binder. What you'll need:
Thin, braided-elastic headbands
Three-ring binder
Writing utensils
How to make it: Crisscross a dozen or so thin, braided-elastic headbands around the front cover of a three-ring binder, and your child can tuck writing utensils and reminder notes under them, as shown. Crisscross a dozen or so thin, braided-elastic headbands around the front cover of a three-ring binder, and your child can tuck writing utensils and reminder notes under them, as shown.

Carton Wallet
Recycle a milk or orange juice carton into a clever carrying case for change, trading cards, and more. The carton's cap keeps the wallet closed. Download the Wallet Template HERE. What you'll need:
Half gallon milk or juice carton with plastic cap, rinsed
Paper towels
Wallet Template
Ballpoint pen
Craft knife (optional)
Butter knife
How to make it: Cut open the carton so it lies flat, as shown; put aside the cap for now. Dry the inside with the paper towels. Tape the template on top of the carton so that the top circle lines up with the spout. Mark the outline of the template with a ballpoint pen. Using firm pressure, trace the lower circle and the dotted lines of the template so that they transfer to the carton. (This will score the lines for easier folding.) A ruler will help you mark the straight lines. Cut out the shape from the carton. Use scissors to cut out the lower circle as marked. (Tip: To make cutting out the circle easier, first make an X with a craft knife.) Use a ruler and a butter knife to further score the fold lines. Following the fold lines you marked, create an accordion fold on each side of the wallet. Tightly squeeze the accordion folds. Fold the top flap down, pushing the spout through the hole. Screw on the cap to keep the flap in place.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Clever Ways to Repurpose and Upcycle Old Things into Coffee and End Tables

Don't go out and buy something new ~ find ways to upcycle old furniture and turn unwanted junk into funky new treasures.

Lawyers' Bookcase ~ This antique cabinet serves as a handy nightstand with its ample storage, wide counter space and tons of character.

Wood Soda Crates ~ Four old soda crates make a combination coffee table and shadow box. The crates were attached to an old table base, then a piece of tempered glass is laid over top.

Reverse Stencil ~ There's almost nothing paint can't fix. Floral patterns were blocked out over the original wood finish while the whole table was painted white. The results are earthy-looking flowers on a crisp white palette.

Pinball Wizard ~ An old pachinko game was repurposed into a conversation-piece table. To make the transformation, ornate legs were simply fastened to the bottom of the game.

Outdoor Table ~ Old coffee tables are a perfect addition to a front porch. Look for a flea-market special and use a high-gloss, exterior paint that will stand up to the outdoors.

Front Door ~ An old door finds new life as a coffee table. The rustic finish is perfect for a family room -- you can put your feet up, spill soda on it, not use your coaster – it doesn’t matter – it'll all add to the natural, rich patina.

Log Slice ~ With the natural-wood top and retro legs, this table combines earthy-contemporary design with a mid-century modern aesthetic.

A Coffee Table That Grows ~ On a warm summer's evening, an outdoor coffee table filled with sod is the perfect place to put your feet up and feel the grass between your toes.

Pink Spool ~ A little pink paint helps turn an industrial wire spindle into a combination coffee table and book rack.

6 Signs You Need to Stop Talking

Have you ever wished you’d stopped talking about five minutes before you actually did? Well I’ve been there... A LOT and want to share with you signs to know when it’s time to stop talking before the embarrassment or hurtfulness is unleashed from our lips.

Sign 1: You’re Complaining, Not Explaining
There’s a subtle difference. Explaining is simply telling someone about your situation and complaining is when you have an attitude that says “I’m being inconvenienced.” Philippians 2:14-15.

There are times when keeping quiet in order to avoid complaining seems so hard I almost can’t stand it, but God will always give us the grace to do it. If we ever want to arrive at our Promised Land, we need to stop complaining about the way God’s getting us there.

Sign 2: You’re Criticizing Somebody
Picture this. Someone says or does something we think they shouldn’t have done and all of a sudden, we’ve got about a hundred opinions about them that we want to talk about!

First Thessalonians 4:9 says, “But concerning brotherly love [for all other Christians], you have no need to have anyone write you, for you yourselves have been [personally] taught by God to love one another”. In other words, sharing our critical opinions about other people is always a mistake. We need to cover one another with love, instead of uncovering their weaknesses and pointing out their flaws.

Sign 3: Your "thinking" God Is Too Small
Whenever we say, “I can’t do this” or “It’s too much for me to take,” we’re actually defeating ourselves and we’re not trusting God to get us through it.What we need to say is, “God is bigger than every issue I will ever have to face, and I can do whatever I need to do through Christ who strengthens me.”

The Bible says that David ran quickly toward the battle line to face the giant Goliath. Sometimes we stare at our circumstances too long and end up scaring ourselves half to death instead of believing God will give us the victory when we face our giants.

Sign 4: You’re Self-Inflated
We like to boast about what we’ve done, what we can do, and what we’re going to do. If we’re not careful, we can even take credit for things God did!

"Everything we do, we should do it as unto the Lord." Colossians 3:23. I don’t think we can even begin to know what God would do for us and the things He would allow us to participate in if we would learn to keep our successes a secret between us and God, unless He specifically gives us permission to share them.

Sign 5: You’re Standing in Judgment
Matthew 7:1 (NLT) says, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” I think this is really important for Christians because we can get our religious, snooty noses up in the air. And if somebody does something wrong, they’re out of the group.

We can look at everybody else through a magnifying glass when we’re a mess ourselves and can’t even see it. So we need to remain humble before God and before others.

Sign 6: You’re Just Being Negative
The world is full of negativity ~ instead of adding to that negativity, Christians need to be positive about the problems and circumstances we face.

We may not get everything we want, the way we want it, when we want it, but God will take care of us and give us grace to have joy and be positive in the midst of any situation, AND that’s an awesome way to live!

Dear Heavenly Father, Help me know when to stop talking! Thank you for holding my right hand and putting the other over my month. I ask that you help me to only speak Christ-like words so that you will be reflected everything that I say. In your precious name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Home Decorating Projects Under $20 ~ These improvements may not cost a lot, but they'll make a big difference in how your home functions.

Update with Paint
Breathe new life into an old piece of furniture with a fresh coat of paint. For wood pieces, remove dirt or wax buildup with a household cleaner and rinse. Sand rough areas and wipe away dust. Apply two coats of stain-blocking primer and allow it to dry between coats. Roll or brush on two coats of latex paint in the direction of the wood grain, and use a brush to finish the surface with smooth strokes.

Replace Switchplates
Replace a plastic switchplate with a wood, metal, or ceramic cover to make a visual statement. Some switchplates are even textured to blend in with marble, tile, or stone surfaces. Do this for light switches, electrical outlets, and phone and cable jacks.

Step Up Storage
Plastic bins are a versatile and inexpensive way to restore order in almost every in-home trouble spot. Using clear bins for storage in a garage or for a closet gift-wrap station, for example, is an easy way to take inventory and identify items at a glance. Use labels to ensure everything stays tidy and easy to access.

Replace a Window Treatment
Has the window shade above your kitchen sink been marred by repeated exposure to splashes and cooking liquids? Replace a stained window covering with an inexpensive fabric treatment and see your kitchen in a whole new light.

Update Door Hardware
All it takes is a screwdriver and few minutes to give your front door a facelift. Change clashing or poorly operating door hardware, make house numbers more readable, or add a doorknocker.

Revive Outdoor Furniture
Capture the feeling of a sunny summer day with colorful outdoor furniture. In less than a weekend, you can give outdoor furniture a color makeover with paint. Find a set of inexpensive deck chairs, or recoat faded, chipped, and drab-looking outdoor furniture. Many deck and siding paints come in a variety of colors and finishes. Choose a paint that can endure weather and temperature extremes, as well as UV rays.

Create Eye-Catching Curb Appeal
Amp up your exterior color palette with a punchy door color that complements your home's character. Painting an exterior door is an inexpensive, instant update that can be changed with ease. A cheerful, glossy red door extends a warm welcome to visitors and ensures the yard has year-round color.

Bench Drop Zone
A small bench inside a garage or entryway provides a convenient catchall for grocery bags and drop zone accessories. Add hooks above the bench to hang hats, coats, and seasonal gear within easy reach.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Design on a Dime ~ Decorate with What You Have

Decorating is easy and affordable when you build upon what you already have. See how you can take ordinary items and work them into your decor with a few easy tricks, updates, and simple supplies.

Family Pictures
Display favorite memories and photos in a vignette that is personal and welcoming. Get a streamlined look by using fewer photos printed at larger sizes. Use frames you have and paint them the same color for a unified display. Or invest in inexpensive, basic black frames for a polished look.

Remove Cabinet Doors
Sometimes decorating is just as much about subtraction as it is addition. Examine the inside of your cabinet boxes to determine if they are display-worthy. The insides may need a fresh coat of paint or just a good cleaning. Remove doors and fill any holes with putty and paint or stain to match the cabinet box. Display favorite dishes, utensils, and cookware or large jars filled with pantry staples, such as flour, pasta, and rice, inside the newly exposed cabinet.

Add Height with Curtains
If your drapes have enough length, consider moving the curtain rod to the ceiling, which will give the room a greater sense of height. Before you make the move, measure your curtains to make sure they will still graze the floor if you move the rod. If you need a little extra length and your drapes currently hang by a rod pocket, invest in drapery clips, which will make the drapes hang a little bit closer to the floor.

Paper Updates
Wallpaper, fabric, and wrapping paper remnants are all perfect fodder for lining the backs of boring bookcases or built-ins. Score a discounted material and start lining for an easy, instant update.

Draped in Style
Bring a blanket out of storage to add an extra layer of color to a living room or bedroom. Fold a throw over the back of a sofa or the edge of a bed, allowing any pretty edge detailing, such as trim or fringe, to be visible.

Kid's Art
Kids bring home a plethora of finger paintings, construction paper creations, and carefully colored drawings. Instead of stowing away these masterpieces, put them on display in pretty frames. Plus, with the ongoing influx of artwork, you have a constant resource for changing up the gallery.

Mismatch Plates
Turn a hodgepodge of plates into a fun display. Use items from your own collection and scope out inexpensive companion pieces at thrift stores. Plan out your arrangement before you start hanging to avoid making unnecessary holes in the wall.

Household Hunt
For another way to wake up your bookcases, incorporate objects from throughout your house into the display. That serving platter you love, but never use? A horse figurine from your daughter's past fascination with all things equine? Anything with an interesting shape or design can be a candidate. Look for objects that have commonalities, such as white finishes, to create a more unified display. And resist the urge to add "just one more" item. If you have a large collection, rotate objects in and out from time to time, rather than displaying everything all at once, to ensure the vignette strays from cluttered territory.

Pillow Makeover
Pillows can be pricey, and if you are getting weary of yours, consider pillow covers in the same size as your existing pillows. The old pillow can act as an insert, and when zipped or buttoned into a fresh cover, no one will know that your new green pillow was once red. If you're handy with a needle and thread, make your own pillow covers.