Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gift Giving Idea #6

Emergency Desk Kit
At the beginning of last school year, I put together a little kit of essentials to keep in my desk drawer for those days I had to stay late at school.  I purchased a small plastic container and filled it with travel sized items like toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, hairspray, floss, nail file, hair brush, stain wipes, hand lotion, lint roller, pocket tissues, and hand sanitizer.  I cannot tell you how many times I have used something in that kit!  It is convenient to just grab the whole container and take it to the bathroom to 'freshen up' before parent conferences, open house nights, etc.  I decided I would make a few kits as gifts this year.    I added a cute little label that I made in Photoshop and printed out on sticker paper.

 You could also add a sewing kit, band-aids, medications, or anything else one might need.  Each item was around $1 or less so this makes a really inexpensive yet practical gift!

Gift Giving Idea #5

Recycled T-Shirts
While renovating the flip house this summer, I went through countless number of rags (wiping up paint and general 'messiness').  I had purchased a couple bags of rags from Goodwill, which were basically just old t-shirts cut up and put in a bag.  Well, for the last year and some odd months, I have had a entire pile of t-shirts sitting in my classroom just waiting for a second chance to be useful!  I am co-advisor for the Class of 2012 and the class officers had ordered t-shirts last year for homecoming.  Several students ordered shirts but never paid for them and/or never came to pick them up so, alas, they have been collecting dust and taking up much needed space in my classroom since September of 2009.  Finally, after giving as many of them away as I could (and keeping several for myself...painting shirts, workout shirts, gigantic XL sleepshirts) I decided I would cut them up and give them to my dad as part of his Christmas gift since I know he will definitely use them in all sorts of ways.

Viola!  A recycled and useful Christmas gift!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gift Giving Idea #4

Hand Dipped Pretzels
Each year I try and make a treat to bring to work for some coworkers and students.  This year I decided to make hand dipped pretzels.
Supplies needed are a tub of pretzel rods (I prefer the kind in the tub as opposed to the bags because the ones in the bags tend to be broken), 1 bag of each kind of chocolate you'd like to dip the pretzels in, and any kind of coating to sprinkle on top.  The kinds I made were white chocolate sprinkled with nonpareils, semi-sweet chocolate drizzled with white chocolate, chocolate coated with crushed peppermint candies, and chocolate rolled in Heath toffee bits.

I used a double boiler on the stove top to melt my bag of chocolate.  This was a really tricky process...I wish I could share some words of wisdom when it comes to melting chocolate but it was pretty much trial and error.  I will say that my first batch seemed to melt quickly then harden up before I could get it off the stove but adding a splash of canola oil seemed to smooth it out again making it easy to dip the pretzels in.  After dipping each pretzel and coating it with candy, I placed them on wax paper to cool.

Putting them out in the cold garage firmed them up quickly and then they were ready to be packaged.  I bought little bags at Wally World (I think a package of 20 was $1) to put them in for gift-giving. A tasty, pretty, and inexpensive gift!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gift Giving Idea #3

Luggage Handle Wrap
This is a great gift idea for anyone who travels.  You can easily make this gift for guys, too, by using a fabric print that is 'masculine'...whatever that means!  Here is a set that I made for myself before my trip to the British Isles this past summer:

You can find the tutorial for this craft at Little Birdie Secrets.

Gift Giving Idea #2

Book Plates
My next gift idea is from one of my favorite crafting sites called Skip to My Lou.  This is a great idea for a teacher gift or really for anyone who likes to read.  As they mention on the site, you could print out these labels (although I would just print them on sticker paper as opposed to buying the sticker medium) and give them with a gift card to a book store. 

Gift Giving Idea #1

Wondering what to give for gifts this year?  Well, I've compiled a list of affordable gift-giving ideas that you can make (mostly) at home!  I'll be posting them periodically over the next couple weeks so stay tuned!

 CD Sleeve Cookies
Materials Needed:
-1 box of paper CD sleeves
-Sticker paper (bough mine at Staples)
-color printer to print the labels
-parchment paper (to line the inside of the CD sleeve so grease marks don't stain the paper)
-ingredients to make your favorite cookie recipe

I gave these out last year to my coworkers and some of my students.  First, bake slightly oversized cookies (I just used trial and error to get the correct size for my oatmeal raisin cookies), then line the paper sleeves with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Next, print out the labels onto sticker paper, cut out and affix to the to of the packaging, half hanging over the front, the other half hanging over the back. I originally saw this idea on but created my own sticker labels in Photoshop. You can download my template (but you'll have to click on the link twice) for the labels HERE. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Teacher Crafty Lady

Soooo, I should probably change the name of this blog to TEACHER Crafty Lady from September to June because the role of high school teacher has taken priority over my craft time!  This school year has been just crazy so far and I honestly haven't had that much time to craft.  It probably all began when I moved my sewing desk out of my craft room and into the flip house to stage the office.  When I brought it back in school had started and I hit the ground running grading papers and planning lessons.  Also, I have been cheating on this blog with this blog.  So I guess I have technically been crafty and creative, just with another purpose in mind!  I promise I will post more crafts soon!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Flip House is Finished!

I closed on the 'flip' house on July 15th, worked tirelessly throughout the summer, and now she's complete!  Yay! My budget was $10,000 to transform the whole house and my time frame was a month and a half because I wanted to be finished before school started up again.  I ended up staying $500 within my budget and finished on time. What I didn't spend on supplies went to labor.  I did as much as I could by myself but hired out work that I couldn't do.  My dad and uncle gave me great deals on labor so thanks, guys! Without further ado, here is the transformation:

Updates included replacing the old kitchen cabinet doors with new ones (less expensive than replacing everything).
-New appliances...they are stainless 'look' not real stainless so they were more affordable and they are much easier to clean (I know because I had this set in my old condo).  The line is by Frigidaire (bought them at Lowes).
-New counter tops...the piece along the wall was on sale for under $50 which helped make up the difference in price for the custom peninsula piece that had to be ordered. If you look in the before and after pictures posted below, you can see that we actually had to build out the peninsula piece because we needed to add a dishwasher.
-New sink and faucet set (sink was $99 at Lowes and tax free since I bought it in North Conway on my way back through from my road trip to Montreal)

Dining Area
I painted the dining area a nice neutral color called Sand White by Glidden.  I guess this is an old color in their files so you have to ask for it by name.  The dining set was only $259 from WalMart with $.97 shipping!  It is a really solid set, surprising for the price!  Look for my review on the name is "AbeLincolnIsMyHomeboy"!  The mirror is from Lowes as is the chandelier.

Living Room
The biggest change in this area was the removal of the wall that separated the dining area and living room.  With the wall gone, it creates a really great open space between all three areas (kitchen, dining, living) and lets so much more light into the other side of the room from the large picture window in the living room.  The old brown paneling was removed as was the wall paper.  The walls behind the paneling were in pretty rough shape, so I decided to have white beadboard put up.  The wall color is Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore matched to Glidden paint from Home Depot.  The living room (and all three bedrooms) already had nice hardwood floors so I didn't have to do anything except give them a nice cleaning!  I had ceramic tile installed throughout the rest of the house. I found tile at Home Depot on clearance for $.67/square foot!  Score!

I had the floor tiled in the bathroom and also had the tub re-glazed instead of replacing it.  It cost $495 for the treatment but ripping out the old tub and replacing it would have been so much more work!  The tile on the walls was in decent shape so I just had to clean it a bit.  I kept the vanity base and painted it black then added new chrome hardware.  I ripped out the old vanity top and sink and replaced it with one solid white piece.  The faucet was changed as well.  The light sconces were already there so I just replaced the old mirror with a nice black one I scored at Marshalls for $25!  The paint color is Rainwashed by Shirwin Williams.

Office/Bedroom #1
The paint color in this room is Light French Gray by Behr.  In all three bedrooms, I painted the ceilings, the trim, and the walls, and had the closet doors changed.  Then I staged them to help people envision their own things in the space!
Bedroom #2
Paint color is Dusty Miller by Glidden.  Love this's a green/gray/blue.  The entire bedding set was only $35 from WalMart.  I propped two air mattresses up on old paint cans for the bed! 
Bedroom #3
Paint color is Pussywillow by Shirwin Williams and the bedding set was $35 from Target.

We've reached the end of the house tour makeover!  I kind of don't want to sell her...but I will and then I will work on having my own house built!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's So Easy!

Simplicity has a line of patterns called "It's So Easy, It's Simplicity" and most of these patterns are fairly easy for a a novice seamstress such as myself.  A couple years ago I bought some fantastic fabric from WalMart (who don't usually have a really great variety of fabric choices) and I just had to use it for something that I could actually get use out of before I used it all up on other projects!  This is what I made:

Isn't it cute?? Here it is up close (the fabric is a really pretty cherry blossom to make larger):

And here is the pattern I used to make it, so you can make one too, if you choose:

A perfect 'back to school' top!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Growth Chart Tutorial

For the past few days, I have been working on creating the growth chart pictured above.  I didn't use a tutorial, I just used my imagination (which is probably why it took my so long to make it)!  But, since I've already done all of the work, I thought I would show you how to make one of your very own!

-one vinyl pull-down window shade (minimum 12" across)
-craft paint (and brushes)
-Modge Podge
-rotary cutter & mat
-scrap book paper (and either scissors or a craft cutter...I used my Slice machine)
-sewing machine and thread
-small dowel or stick from outside

Step 1:
Take the shade and cut out a piece that is 12" in diameter and about 42" long, being sure to start cutting at the bottom of the shade (the bottom is already 'hemmed' and has the space to for the plastic rod that comes with the shade).

Step 2:
-Take your craft paint and paint the entire shade. Mine took about 3 coats.  In the future, I would probably try spray painting it as an alternative to see if it was any faster. 

Step 3:
Once the paint is dry, you will need to fold each of the sides 1/2" over to the back and then sew up each side.  You must do this because after you've painted the vinyl, the sides curl up as they dry.  BUT FIRST, you must cut the plastic rod that came in the bottom of the shade to fit the size of your chart bottom and thread it into the bottom BEFORE you sew up each side. So, it will be the length of your bottom minus a half inch on each side where you will be folding and sewing the sides.  Then at the top, fold over 1/2", then 1" and stitch .  You are forming a little pocket at the top through which you will thread your ribbon to hang the chart.
Step 4:
-Next you can decide what design you'd like to paint on the chart.  I chose to paint a simple tree.  I used templates cut out of paper because I don't trust myself to do it free hand!
Just trace your design on the chart with a light pencil, then paint away!

Step 5:
-Once all your paint is dry, next comes measuring and drawing on your lines for the chart.  Overall, you need enough room for 3 feet (plus a few inches on the bottom and top) of lines.  The chart should be hung two feet off the ground so I started with 2 and ended with 5 feet.  My lines for the feet were 
2 1/2", and my lines to mark the inches were 1/2" each.  I used a ruler and a pencil to mark my lines first, then used a black sharpie to mark the lines.  Measure twice, draw once!!!  I did try using a black paint marker first, but it created a huge mess that I had to go back and fix, so I would just stick with the sharpie!
Step 6:
-Once all your lines are done, next is creating the numbers and embellishments.  I used scrapbook paper to cut out the numbers with my Slice paper cutting machine.  You can also just print numbers and images from your computer on to card stock and then trace onto scrapbook paper and cut out (you know, the old fashioned way)!  My numbers were about 3 1/2 inches tall.  I chose a nature theme so I also cut out butterflies, birds, flowers, and a rabbit in different papers. 
Use Modge Podge to glue the cutouts onto your chart and then spread a thin layer of it all over the entire chart.  This will dry clear and act as a sealer.  I also used another product from Modge Podge that you spray over the entire thing to seal it up and keep it get rid of the tacky feeling.

Step 7:
-Use ribbon to thread through the top of the chart, tie in a bow.  Then insert either a small wooden dowel or a straight stick from your backyard into the top to keep the sides from bending in when you hang it. Voila!  a beautiful and one-of-a-kind growth chart!
Alternatively, you could also get a piece of lumber from the hardware store and paint/embellish it just the'd just have to drill two holes at the top to thread the ribbon!