Oh Christmas tree! (the perfect advent calendar for beer lovers)

I love getting into the Christmas spirit!

Shopping and decorating are two of my favourite things, but I try to avoid making our house look like the holidays threw up all over it. For that reason, I try to find unique ways to express my love for Christmas. This is one of those things. Continue reading “Oh Christmas tree! (the perfect advent calendar for beer lovers)”

Crafternoon: DIY Hallway Catchall

Last weekend a bunch of girlfriends and I got together for what I like to call “Crafternoon”. Instead of tackling a project alone, we vote on a DIY that we want to make, I buy the supplies and do a bit of prep work, and we spend an afternoon creating something we can take home with us.

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It’s a great way to spend time together, especially if some of the friends in your group are eager to get into crafting but don’t really know where to start.

IMG_8446This “Crafternoon” we made hallway catchalls. They’re like a little all-in-one station you keep at your entryway to hang your keys and leave reminders for yourself. The perfect solution for anyone who can never seem to find their keys in the depths of their purse (ahem…me…ahem). Check out what an awesome job everyone did!

Are you on board yet?

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You’ll need:

  • A piece of wood at least 6 inches wide and 8 inches long (I cut a 1”x8” into a bunch of pieces so ours were each about 7.5” wide and 10” long)
  • Fine grain sand paper
  • Stain or paint and a foam brush
  • A mason jar
  • steel strapping
  • Wire cutters
  • Hooks
  • Screws that fit your hooks and aren’t longer than your wood is deep
  • A drill (or a screw driver and some elbow grease)
  • A clothes peg
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Something pretty to put in your jar

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1. Start by lightly sanding your wood and painting or staining it a colour of your choice. If you’re making this craft with friends, may I suggest a snack break while you wait for the paint to dry?

2. Using wire cutters, snip a piece of plumber’s strapping that fits around your mason jar minus about 1/4”.

3. Without attaching anything yet, arrange your mason jar, hooks and clothes peg on your board so you can envision what the finished product will look like. You can orient your board portrait or landscape.

4. Wrap your plumber’s strapping around the mason jar to give it a round shape. Drill a screw into the last hole on each end of the strapping so they are about ½” apart on your board. You want to create a ring that is snug enough to hold your mason jar firmly but loose enough that you can slide it in.

5. Using hot glue, stick your clothes peg onto your board.

6. Position your hooks and screw them into place.

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Now all you have to do is put some flowers in your jar, hang the board on the wall by your door and marvel at its beauty while it keeps track of your keys.

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Are you a fan of crafting with friends or do you prefer to Do It Yourself by yourself? What are some of your favourite projects to do with others?

 

DIY clay bead necklace

This is a great craft for those of you who aren’t crafty. Polymer clay is very forgiving. If you’re unhappy with a bead you’ve made, you can squish it all up an start again!

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I made this necklace because I was having a hard time finding something that wasn’t too plain but wasn’t too flashy. Isn’t it great that when you can’t buy what you want, you can just make it yourself?! Budget about two hours and you’ll have a fantastic piece of jewellery that’s read to wear!

You’ll need:

  • a few colours of polymer clay (I like the FIMO brand, you can find it at Michael’s)
  • a skewer or straw
  • a baking sheet lined with foil
  • an oven
  • a piece of leather lace, about 2 ft long

First, decide what kind of look you’re going for. Do you want your beads to look the same or different? Will you be marbling colours? Do you want a rounded or flat edge?

To make a plain bead, pinch a piece of clay about the size of the tip of your finger. Roll it between your palms to warm it up. Once it’s pliable, roll it between the middle of your palms until it’s nice and round. When you’re happy with the shape, carefully insert the skewer through the middle. Make sure your skewer or straw will create a thick enough hole to thread your lace through.

To make a marbled bead, pinch two smaller pieces of clay in different colours. Roll them each into a long snake and wind the snakes around each other. Now swirl the two snakes into a ball and follow the process for making a plain bead until you’re happy with the shape and the amount of marbling. Make your hole and voila!

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To create a bead with a squared off edge like the one in the photo above, roll the bead back and forth on a flat surface once you’ve skewered it. Be gentle, or the hole will get to big. Once you’re happy with the edge, remove it from the skewer.

When you’ve made all your beads, you’re ready to bake! Bake the beads according to the directions on the clay you’re working with (usually in the low 200s for about 30 minutes). It’s pretty hard to mess this stage up.

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Let the beads cool and string them onto your leather lace. If you want to get fancy, you can add fasteners to the ends of your lace for a more sophisticated look. I opted for an adjustable knot that lets you change the length of your necklace depending on the shirt you’re wearing. This tutorial will help you learn how to tie one.

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Now for the best part – wear your handmade necklace and enjoy the oohs and ahhs when you tell people you made it yourself! Have fun crafting!

 

Crafting with kids: DIY Memory Game

This DIY is a double whammy. It’s a relatively mess-free way to get creative with kids, and it’s a challenging, quiet game that will keep them occupied for hours (or at least minutes) when it’s done.

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I came up with the concept when I was brainstorming portable crafts to do with my  11-year old “little sister”. I volunteer with Big Sisters every week at a local school and it can be challenging to find projects we can complete in the hour we have together without making a huge mess. This one was a big hit.

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I’m sure you’ve seen memory games before. You take turns flipping two cards until you find a matching pair. This DIY version can be adapted for different ages by using more or fewer cards.

You’ll need:

  • cardstock
  • coloured cardstock
  • a paper cutter or scissors and a ruler
  • a glue stick
  • markers/pens/pencil crayons

The amount of cardstock you need will depend on how many cards you’re making. We used a variety of colours for the top layer to add an extra element of challenge to the game but you can stick with just two colours if you want. Make sure the bottom layers are all the same colour because they’ll be facing up when you play the game!

Cut your cardstock into equally sized rectangles using a paper cutter or a ruler and scissors. The bottom layer (in our case the cream cardstock) should be about 1cm (1/2″) both wider and longer than the top layer. You want the finished cards to be about the size of a playing card but you can make them bigger if you want so they’re easier for small hands to grab.

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When you have all of your top and bottom layers cut out (we made 36 of each), it’s time to glue. This is a job your little helpers can do. Glue the top layer onto the bottom layer, making sure to get all the corners. Placing them under a heavy book for a while can help to flatten them out.

Now brainstorm a list of pictures you’re going to draw on the cards. Since we made 36, we had to come up with 18 unique items we could draw. My “little sister” and I split the list in half and each drew 9 sets of 2. We decided to draw our sets on differently coloured top layers to make the memory game even more challenging. When your brain is trying to remember a colour, an item  and the location of a card it’s even harder to keep it straight.

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There you have it. Good luck making and matching!