Thursday, February 25, 2010

Homemade Greenhouse

Even though the snow still a foot deep, we are starting to get a little spring fever. We love to start growing seeds. It makes you feel like spring is here, even if it is only indoors. Not to mention these boys love dirt. We had just bought some small pots and seeds at Target when we found this homemade greenhouse project on It seems like a perfect spot to start our seeds. Plus we love that it is made from recycled materials. This project can be made by older kids. Younger kiddos might need some adult help.

What you need:
  • half gallon milk or juice carton
  • 7 bendy straws
  • 2 large plastic bags or other clear plastic sheets
  • tape (we used packaging tape)
  • 2 pennies

We used straws and plastic bags that had been used before and washed. This was a nice project to recycle straws that we didn't want to drink out of anymore, but we wanted to use again.

First we cut the carton in half.

We folded the top of the carton back down.

Then taped it closed to make a rectangular box. This will be the base of the greenhouse.
You could cover the outside with paper and decorate it at this point.
Then we taped a straw in each corner of the base.

Next we bent the tops of the straws toward each other. This will be the frame of the greenhouse.

Then we taped the last three straws to the top and top sides of the frame.
Don't worry if it isn't perfectly straight or if some of the tape shows.
Then we traced the sides and cut plastic out to cover the sides. (Again you don't have to be perfect) Next we taped the sides to the straws.
We took one of the plastic bags and cut off the zip lock. We also cut the sides open making a large plastic rectangle. We placed it over the top of the frame and trimmed the extra from the sides. We taped the plastic to the back of the frame and to the top of the frame. We left the front flap loose so the kids can water and tend to the plants.

We taped the two pennies to the bottom of the front flap to weigh it down. Now all we needed was some plants.

We can't wait to watch them grow.

Place the greenhouse in a well lit area, but out of direct sun. Follow your seeds instructions for watering.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

How To Fuse Grocery Bags

Before we get to the tutorial, we need to let you all know that we have not heard from reader and giveaway winner Don & Jill so we have been forced to pick another winner of the African Violet Pincushion and Decorative Pin Givaway. So our new winner is commenter #50, Deedles! And thank you to Mau for telling us the secret to showing the Number Generator!

Now on to the tutorial!

In our town, the only way you can recycle plastic grocery bags is by taking them back to the store - our curbside recycling service won't pick them up. As a result, we have massive amounts of these plastic bags stored up, and have been trying to think of creative ways to reuse them. Our favorite: fusing them! Fusing grocery bags is nothing new, but it was a project that we have been wanting to try for a long time. After trying it out and seeing how easy it is, we thought we'd share our method with you!

What you need:
  • 3 plastic bags (rumor has it #4 bags work the best, but play around with different bags and see what you like best.
  • iron
  • parchment paper
First, open a window. Plastic releases toxic chemicals, and heating them speeds this up. Next, cut the bottom seam off of your bags, as well as the handles. Then layer the bags on top on each other, making sure that any pattern or logo you want will be facing out.

Sandwich your bags in between two sheets of parchment paper. Do not use newspaper, as the ink will transfer onto your plastic.

Set your iron for it's "Rayon" setting. Once it is heated up, begin ironing on top of your parchment paper. Iron one section at a time for about 15 seconds (being careful to keep your iron moving at all times), then move on to another part. When you have ironed over the whole thing, flip your parchment/plastic "sandwich" over and repeat the ironing process.

Peel the parchment paper back and check your plastic. If it is not fused, replace the parchment and iron some more. We found that we had to slightly increase the heat on our iron just a smidge. Once your plastic is completely fused together, you are finished and ready to use your fused plastic on one of many fun projects! Stay tuned, and we will share some of our ideas later!

Have fun...but watch out! It's addictive!
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snow Paint

Chicago has been very snowy this year, like much of the country. Our kids love it and want to spend lots of time in it.
Here is fun outdoor art activity we did with ...

We started by picking out different colors of kool-aid. We made them with half the water and none of the sugar. We filled clean spray bottles with the kool-aid. We added some food coloring to the weaker shades. Later we realized sugar free might have worked better, since it comes with sweetener in it. The kids of course ended up eating the colorful snow which was a little on the sour side without the sugar. Next we made stencils out of construction paper. Cardboard would work better if you wanted to reuse them another day.Then we bundled up and started spraying anything white!

The stencils worked great!
And the snow tasted great!!!!
Even the bushes got a makeover!
We all had so much fun! Give snow paint a try!

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

Yes, we have a winner in our African Violet Pincushion and Decorative Pin Giveaway! But before we announce the lucky person, we wanted to thank everyone who entered! It was so flattering to see that so many people liked what we made! And it was so heart-warming to read about the wonderful memories the pincushion invoked! Thank you so much for sharing!

So now, without further ado, the lucky winner is...Commenter # 38 (Sorry - we don't know show the actual number generator from! If anyone can tell us how to do it, we'd appreciate your help!) who was Don & Jill who said, "This is adorable. Looks easy but I am sure the crafter made it look that way. Great job :)" So nice!

We were unable to find your contact info, so please shoot us an email at and let us know how we can send your prizes to you! If we don't hear from you by the end of this week, we will have to draw another winner.

Thank you again to all of you who made our giveaway so successful, as well as to all of our wonderful readers! We cannot express how much we appreciate all of you!
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Soft Baby Ball

As we mentioned in an earlier post, a friend of ours had a baby and we were looking for some cute homemade gift ideas. Our mom had given Maggie a bag full of colorful flannel scraps that would be perfect to make a colorful, soft baby ball! We found quite a few tutorials out there, but found that combining a couple of them worked out best for us.

First we cut our fabric into eight pieces using this pattern for a medium-sized ball.

Next, we pinned four of our shapes together (right sides together), forming the first half of the ball. Then using the technique found in this tutorial, we sewed those first four pieces together, being careful to line the points up as best we could (although perfection isn't required). Then pin and sew the other half of your ball, paying attention to putting your color pattern in the same order as the first half. Finally, pin and sew your two halves together, leaving a small opening.

Now turn your ball right side out and stuff it really well! At this point, you could also insert a jingle bell or other small noisy object. Once it is stuffed, hand stitch the open seam. Our points at the ends of the ball were not perfect, so we also sewed small, brightly colored patches over them. They were cute and hid our mistakes!

Now your ball is finished and ready to play with!
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Decorative Pins

As you know, we are giving away that pretty violet pincushion with decorative beaded pins. And since we've shown you how to make the pincushion, we thought we'd show you how easy it is to make the pins yourself as well! And when we say easy, we mean embarrassingly easy! Actually, when we came up with the idea to make the pins, we hopped online to see if we could find a tutorial for ourselves to use. We found plenty of people selling them , but couldn't find any tutorials for making them. So this is what we came up with, although we're sure there are probably more sophisticated and craft-savvy ways to do it:

What you need:
  • straight sewing pins
  • beads
  • Crazy Glue (we found that one that came with a brush worked great and kept us from gluing the pins to our fingers - if you can't find this kind, just grab an old, small paint brush)

Thread your beads onto your pin, but don't move them all the way to the end. Using the brush, apply a small amount of glue to the pin head. Slide your first bead to the end, then apply a little more glue to the other end of that first bead. Slide the second bead into place. Finally, dab a small amount of glue to the end of that last bead. Hold your pin upside down for a minute or so, then stick it into a piece of sponge or foam to allow it to dry completely.

How easy is that? So easy, that we made a few more pins, and instead of giving away six pins to our lucky winner we've decided to give twelve! So if you haven't entered our giveaway already, be sure to do so by Sunday the 14th, and we'll announce the winner on Monday the 15th!
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

African Violet Pincushions & GIVEAWAY! *CLOSED*

We found these sweet African Violet pincushions that verybigjen makes. She makes all different varieties of African Violets. She made them out of soda bottle tops, but we wanted a pincushion that was a little bigger so we followed the same steps using baby food jars. They came together very quickly. You can use any colors of felt that you like.
Here is how we made ours ( but if you don't feel like making one yourself, how about winning one of ours? Check out the giveaway details at the end of this post! Sorry...we know it's a long one):

What you need:
  • felt for the flowerpot, dirt, leaves, and flowers
  • small jar
  • embroidery floss in brown, green and yellow
  • stuffing

To make your pattern, trace around the bottom of the jar. Cut out a piece of light brown felt for the bottom of the pot using this circle.

Cut out a circle of dark brown felt for the dirt about 2 1/2 times as big as the lid of the jar.

Cut a piece of light brown felt for the side of the pot that reaches about an inch over the top of the jar and all the way around the jar. (should be a rectangle)

Your pot pieces should look like this.

Sew the bottom to the side of the pot using two strands out of the six of your brown embroidery floss.

Now sew up the side of your pot.

Fold down the top to make your pot. Stuff your jar.

Now sew a quick running stitch around your dirt circle. Pull the thread to make a cup.

Stuff the cup with fiber fill or scraps of your felt.
Now place dirt over the top of your jar and tie the thread closed.

Pull the top of the pot over the edge of the dirt.

Now sew the pot to the dirt using the embroidery floss. You can also sew the bottom of the rim of the pot. (2 strands)

For the leaves you need to cut 2 squares of dark green. The squares should be an inch bigger than the pot on all sides.

Now cut four slits in each square like this. This will be four leaves.

Round out each to make four leaf shapes.

Sew the first set of leaves onto the dirt. Pull the stitches tight to cur and shape the leaves.

Then sew on the second set of leaves. Pull these tight as well to make them look more lifelike.

Now for the flowers. Cut three squares of each shade of purple. Each square should be about an 1 1/2 inch square.

Cut these the same way as the leaves.

Round out each petal.

Do the same for all six pieces.

Lay out your flowers like this.

Using yellow embroidery floss (all six strands) sew the flowers onto the leaves.Spread the stitch out a little like we did hear.

Tie the floss tight. This will shape the flower. Snip the floss leaving about a centimeter of each end.

Do the same with the other two flowers.

And you are done!!

Since this happens to be our 100th post, we want to offer our fabulous readers a chance to win this pretty pincushion (international entries are of course welcome - we love all our readers!)! And how about we throw in the six sparkly decorative pins you see below? All you have to do is leave us a comment by Sunday Feb. 14th and you'll be entered! Want another chance? Followers of our blog get a second entry - just leave us a second, separate comment and let us know you are following! A winner will be chosen by , and announced on Monday the 15th.

Good luck!
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