Upcycling Your Halloween Pumpkins

Posted on September 22, 2015 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

If you’re anything like me, the easier it is to decorate for any holiday, the more time you’ve got to actually enjoy the holiday. And this is especially, for me at least, during Halloween. Now, I know, that there are literally thousands of ideas you can find online but I don’t have the time usually or the inclination to do much searching. I tend to get a bit dizzy and need liquid refreshment to help me out. So, as usual, I rely on my readers to help me out. This year this faithful band sent me loads of images and links.

I especially liked the ones that saved me having to carve up the pumpkin and whenever possible, able to use what I have on hand for the decoration – no heading to the mall or the dollar store for me. By the way, I’m not a great fan of the truly creepy and ghoulish, so my likes are usually pretty – well, actually – just pretty.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Office Supply Pumpkins

No doubt the easiest to do as you can be as klutzy as me and still create something beautiful. I happen to have loads of brads and pushpins on hand and will find these a delight to make. And, oh, goody, you can dress up your office desk in five minutes flat. Here's the link.

Fanciful Pumpkins

A lovely Halloween centrepiece and so easy-peasy to make. I've masked a lot of pumpkins in the past but haven't used butterflies as well. It may be a bit of a pain to cut out all those butterflies but hey, it looks great. Any guests of yours will be envious of your talent. Of course, if you're a purist,  you could substitute bats for the butterflies. To check out these pumpkins and 46 more pumpkin decorating ideas, click here.

Lace Pumpkin

Definitely a more romantic way to decorate your pumpkin. This one is covered by a lace stocking but you could also use lace doilies, etc. Whatever you've got on hand is the idea. Check it out here.

Washi Tape Pumpkins

No fuss, no muss. These little pumpkins are decorated with double-sided tape and patterned ribbon but washi tape would do the trick as well. For this idea and more no-carve decorating ideas, click here.

Book Page Pumpkin

So what happens when you haven't had time to get to the market to pick up some pumpkins? Don't you worry, don't you fret - just head for your bookshelf and see if you've got a long-neglected, unread book taking up space. Et voila, a pumpkin centrepiece like not other. And you can use it for Thanksgiving, too. Find out how here.

Construction Paper Pumpkin

One for the kids - a pumpkin made from strips of orange construction paper. Easy-peasy instructions here.

Disguised as Pumpkins

My own version of faux pumpkins. I got a good deal on grapefruit at the market recently and decided that before being eaten, a few could easily substitute as wee pumpkins. Adding a witchy paper hat and mask was an easy way to make these look a little sinister - okay, they're not scary, just cute.

Ikea Inspiration & More

Posted on July 30, 2015 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

It's way too hot to do anything today (31 deg C / 48 deg C humidex) so I'm inside in front of my $10. fan, having decided to spend my afternoon with Ikea - not the shop - it's way too far to traipse over to the wilderness where the store is located. I just don't have the energy. Fortunately, I do have access to Ikea online, both to its Livet Hemma site and the 2016 catalogue. The catalogue is the US version.

Upcycled Pallet Patio Hanging Bed


A nice Ikea idea – if you have the skills – create a hanging bed on your balcony or patio or in the garden, recycling wood pallets. And, of course, decorating your new 'bed' with Ikea linens!!!

How to Do It

I myself would not attempt this as you know I am a klutz. The bed would probably fall down on top of me before it was finished. But if you are keen (and skilled in all ways carpentry), Oklahoma photographer Sheryl Salisbury provides very clear step-by-step instructions for making a pallet swing, which can be used as a bed (with photos). For instructions, click here.

Or you could also follow the instructions here from the Merry Thought gal. 

Recycle Fabric Strips for Balcony Privacy

If you have a balcony that overlooks a busy street, your next door neighbour, or an ugly view, why not hide what you see with this neat idea. Not only will you gain a little privacy but you'll finally find a use for all those unused bits of fabric you've got stashed away. I did something similar when I had a balcony that overlooked the back of a number of restaurants.

How to Do It

Simply rip strips (2-3 inches wide) of any brightly patterned fabrics that you won't be using and tie the strips to your balcony railing. You can also use any lengths of ribbon instead of fabric.

Create a Giant Notice Board

I can never have a big enough notice board so I really liked this idea from the Ikea 2016 catalogue - creating a giant one using several small cork notice boards. This one was designed for a boy's bedroom but I can see it almost anywhere including my studio! You can often buy these notice boards at charity shops - so keep an eye out for them.

I recently found a very large notice board (but not big enough!) for $4.00 at my local church charity store. Because I don't especially like the look of cork, I recovered mine with a piece of pinstripe fabric purchased at Value Village last year. I'm now on the lookout for another similar notice board to increase the size of the one I already have.

Too hot to go on, so I'll say ciao for now.

Recycling my stuff

Posted on June 26, 2015 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

In yet another effort to downsize and organize my studio (and myself), I've been selling off a lot of things that were just stored away and never in view. Since I almost never buy anything new, most of the things that I am selling is vintage with a few genuine antiques amongst them. When I was a student I couldn't afford a lot of new decorative accessories or even essentials, so charity shops, flea markets and garage sales were the mainstay for my shopping adventures. Now I'm glad that I did what I did back then as I had no idea what my odds and ends would fetch today.  

I was lucky enough to visit Europe over the years and haunted the flea markets in France, Italy, and the UK, bringing home souvenirs of my trips. Few of these were actually tourist souvenirs, just bits and bobs I simply had to have - dozens of Eiffel towers in various sizes, terracotta cannonball (that's what I call it - these balls were actually used to hold down netting over berry bushes), pair of brass candlebras from St. Paul's church in Paris, an antique pewter measure, loads of old wooden boxes, and even a military cadet's wrought iron bed which weighed a ton. As it was foldable, I brought it over as luggage and the guys at Customs just shook their heads in amazement. No way could I do that today!

Over the years I have sold a lot and some I miss. So, I am a little reluctant to sell off all of my James Keiller & Son marmalade crocks and have only put two up for sale (both went quickly). Usually I only have bought what I really, really, really was drawn to (and still do) even back in my university days and I remember exactly where and when I made my purchases.

Funny how things can evoke such strong feelings but there it is. How about you, do you feel the same way about stuff that you've loved and lost (I mean, sold)?

6 Ways to Upcycle Your Easter Eggs

Posted on April 1, 2015 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Real or faux - you’ve dyed them, decoupaged a few, painted some, dipped even more so do you really want even more ideas for decorating Easter eggs? Well, I ask "Why not?" Scouring the internet I’ve found a few egg-citing (get it??) projects that tickled my fancy and might even tickle yours (fancy, that is).

Easter egg decorating is always a great way to entertain your little ones but these ideas might even be fun for older kids or teens who may be getting a tad old to be excited about this festive holiday.  So here we go.

1. Brownies in an (egg)shell

A delightful way to creating edible Easter eggs without the yolk (that's a joke!). The blog is in Spanish but a click on the English icon provides you with a good translation for these yummie treats. For sure, I will be attempting to make these using a favourite family brownie recipe - but with my baking skills ...

2. Clever disguise!

Cute as a button (or an egg), this is a very doable project. You can create your own little egg characters. I make these as little witches every Halloween topped with little witchy hats and filled with ghastly goodies!

3. Help, there's a (gummy) bear in my egg!

Let your little ones think that all they're getting this Easter are hard-boiled eggs then, surprise - once they're cracked, the little ones will forgive you. This post (also in Spanish but with great photos to follow along), shows the eggs filled with confetti if you're not partial to sweets. You can also fill them with little toys and stickers.

4. Emoji me!

Bright as can be. You don't have to be a Picasso to make these. This post provides you with easy step by step instructions for drawing emoji images on your eggs. 

5. Grow your own

This blog post shows you how to grow wheatgrass in your emptied eggshells. TIP: Once the wheatgrass is ready for transplanting to larger pots, remember to gently squeeze the eggshells to crack the shells as this makes it easier for the roots to get out into new soil.

6. Hipsters

In this blog post, Autumn uses tattoo paper to transfer the image onto the egg. If you can draw, you can create your own characters - maybe family members?? 

So - Happy Easter to all. Happy eating and playing. Don't forget to empty and rinse out the eggshells before using!

March Break - Inspiring Recycling Projects

Posted on March 11, 2015 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

March Break is next week here in Ottawa and I've put together links to a few of my favourite kids' projects which will appeal to both kids and parents (I hope). All of the sites shown here have tons of projects and enough ideas to keep you and the kids busy all week long and are worthwhile exploring. I haven't noted any age categories although some are easier to make than others. I think kids any age would enjoy these (even me!!). 

Most call for stuff that you no doubt already have around the house: i.e., newspapers, milk cartons,  popsicle sticks, cardboard, etc.

For the Architect

Source: Paper Houses

For the Gardener

Source: Garden Plot

For the Musician

Source: Harmonica

Source: Drum

For the Mad Scientist

Source: Science Fun 

Source: Balloon Fun

For the Rocket Scientist

Source: Zoom, zoom 

NOTE: Both the above sites have projects that both girls and boys can enjoy. 

For the Structural Engineer

Source: Instructions for this bridge can be found at the following link:

For the Sailor

Source: Spanish Galleon

Recycling - Cardboard City Inspiraton

Posted on March 3, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

If you're gobsmacked by this little cardboard city as much as I am, I'm not surprised. It's the creation of Evgeny Kudryavtsev (aka Cardboard Dad) an architect and the father of a little girl, Ira, for whom he invent toys made from recycled cardboard and scrap materials. He crafted this mouse-sized cardboard city as part of a commission for German publisher Fordevind. The bright colours and graphic details that he added to his city makes it irresistable to any mouse or child (even a few adults). It just shows you what you can do with something as common as cardboard. 

Take a wander through his blog (it's in Russian) and you’ll be tempted to break out the cardboard and create a city with, and for, your little ones. To view Evgeny's blog and his mouse-sized city landscape, click here

Evgeny has an online shop selling his own designs. His current DIY kits include a cardboard house and a rocket, both customizable. To check out his wares, go here.