Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

Homemade gifts: Army Men Necklace

Posted: December 14, 2011 by emphelan in Crafts, Gifts, Kids, wearables

First, a bag o’ army men.

Bag oh Army men

Of course you need to play with them a bit. MAN DOWN!


Now we need to remove their pedestals. Don’t be tempted to just snap them off, you will take their poor little toes with it. I used a pair of wire cutters, then filed down any points.

Next heat up a needle and stab him in the head with it.

Needle in the head

Not only are you making something cool but you get to relive your tortured toy youth. Ah memories. . . Fun!!

Don’t allow the needle to cool off in there too much, you will have a hard time getting it out. Next you will need a piece of wire, folding it to create a hook to hang the army man from. This too will need to be heated up before torturing your toy. Shove the wire into his head and allow it to cool.

You can stop here and add leather or chain. But I just happened to have a can of Aluminum spray enamel

*insert evil laugh here*

Spray one side of your army man, dry, flip and repeat. Be sure to get his crotch and the top of his head.


They make great ornaments as well.


Patchwork Jeans

Posted: May 9, 2011 by emphelan in Crafts, Gifts, I Can't Sew Club, Kids, wearables
Tags: , ,

We all seem to know that one hippy child in our lives. The one that would love a good pair of patched jeans. However I don’t have one of those kids in my life right now, instead I have a goth or two.

Now this gift is great for that teen that still loves coloring and carries around a Care bear lunch box. The Goth thing hasn’t changed much in the last 15 years.

First you need a pair of men’s jeans. Doesn’t matter if it is going to a girl, actually this present is best suited for a girl.

You need yarn, needles, and odd and ends.

Throw the jeans down and get creative.

Remember I can’t sew.

The first patch here isn’t finished. I need to fix the hair. But it is a decapitated doll, carrying her own head by the hair.

Obviously a Vampire Bunny. Bunnicula LIVES!

And a nice Jester to finish it out.

Creativity is key.

More than likely they won’t wear them, but end up on their wall as a conversation started. I have made similar jeans in the past, for myself (when I was a wee one) and as gifts to friends. They seem to go over rather well. Some where gorier looking than others. It just depends on who it is going to.

Got a creative gift idea? We would love to see it. Email us at and we will be happy to publish it here. (your post stay your property)

A few Mother’s Day Ideas

Posted: May 6, 2011 by emphelan in Crafts, Gifts, Kids

Bread or cake in a jar

bread jar

Bake you bread or cakes in your pint canning jars, and store them in your cool dark cellar.

Use you favorite cake or bread recipe, pour it into the PINT sized wide mouth jar, 1/2 way full, and bake with the lids off at 325 for 40-45 minutes. While those are baking bring a saucepan of water to a boil and carefully add jar lids.

Remove pan from heat and keep hot until ready to use. Remove jars from oven one at a time keeping remaining jars in oven. Make sure jar rims are clean. Place lids on jars and screw rings on tightly. Jars will seal as they cool. Cakes will slide right out when ready to serve. Unsealed jars should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within 2 weeks. Sealed jars may be stored with other canned food or placed in a freezer. A properly sealed quick bread will stay fresh for up to one year. The cake is safe to eat as long as the jar remains vacuum-sealed and free from mold. Keep at a storage temperature under 70F If you are concerned about the safety of storing your cakes, an alternative is to store them in the freezer.


From TXmarina44

tissue jar

“Stained glass” Jar

Here’s an idea for a quick, inexpensive, and easy craft that you can make for just about any holiday. I remember making one of these for my mom for Mother’s day over 35 years ago (and I still have it–it has survived moves that some of my china didn’t). Just coordinate colors for the theme (Halloween, Christmas), or use the recipient’s favorite colors (mine would be in shades of purple, but since my kids aren’t old enough to read this yet, I’m SOL for a good while). If you start this right now (kidding, somewhat), it should be ready for gift-giving the day after tomorrow (for those of you needing a little something for Mother’s Day).

You will need:

clean glass jars

tissue paper (recycle from gifts)

liquid glue (glue sticks will not work for the final coating)

misc add-ons (glitter, stars, stickers, foam letters, dismantled jewelry)

small paint brushes (these may not survive this project without stickiness)

newspaper or other protective material for your work surface

The basics:

Protect work area and clothing of participants (I use daddy’s old shirts)

Tear up tissue paper into 1/2″ pieces.

Thin out glue with water. You can use the lids of the jars you’ve chosen.

Brush glue onto the jar, adhere tissue. Overlap the edges. When it’s completely covered, allow it to dry. Then, paint a final, sealing layer over the entire tissued surface. Any embellishments can be added after the final drying.

If you use baby jars (and now I’m really glad I didn’t give away that batch I cleaned out a week or so ago), they should be the perfect size for candle or LED tealights. The jelly jar I’d given my mom has put in years of service as my favorite pencil-holder.

If I ever figure out how to get my iPhone pics onto Flickr, I promise to show you our results. I’d love to see yours 🙂


Wine Glass planter

wine glass

Have a wine glass with no match, or a candy dish gathering dust? Add a bit of potting soil and some seeds or a plant for an interesting gift.

Pop bottle (or soda) terrarium are a great gift for the ids to make. Simply cut a bottle in half, and dirt, seeds or plant, water and put back together. Have the kids decorate the lower half of the bottle, or add colorful rocks or action figures inside.
pop bottle
You can also punch a few holes around the spout, flip it upside down and insert it into the bottom half, a self watering container.

The garden helper has a few plant suggestions.

Tin can lanterns are another gift mom’s love.
tin can

you will need;

Large tin can, label removed
Nails of different sizes
Small screw-in hook
20-inch wood dowel
Coat hanger
Votive candle

On the outside of the clean, empty can, draw a pattern for the lantern holes.
Fill the can with water and freeze it overnight. When the water is frozen solid, place the can on its side on top of a towel and use the nail tips to hammer in holes of various sizes according to his design. Be sure to make two holes near the top, on opposite sides, for stringing a handle.
Remove any chunks of ice from inside the tin can ( the hammered-in holes will have sharp edges).

Screw the hook into one end of the wood dowel, then string the length of wire through the hook. Wind the ends of the wire through the hanging holes on the can a few times until they are secure.
Use a small bit of melted wax or modeling clay to affix the votive candle to the bottom of the can.

If you have an older more adventurous child, My Upcycled Life has a great tutorial on a very fancy tin can lantern.

Reusing Food Containers

Posted: April 21, 2011 by txmarina44 in Crafts, Kids, White Trash with a Purpose

Living out here, I can’t easily run to the store for plastic containers for the food I want to keep fresh. And, our waste service does not include any sort of recycling. Whenever I finish with a good-sized, sound, plastic or even tin+cardboard container, I keep it for reuse for another food (having given it a thorough scrubdown first, of course).
Back when I was blending my own fruit yogurts for my boy (before we discovered his lactose intolerance), I saved the larger (32 oz.) containers for the various snacks he consumed, and after we started treating his gluten intolerance, they came in handy for the various alternative baking ingredients. One currently holds his animal crackers, and a few others have powdered milk (these are from the dairy days–husband used it in bread machine baking–and need to be emptied). Since we haven’t baked bread in forever, I’ll easily find something else to fill them. I used the single-serve yogurt containers to pack boy’s lunch components in when they still had lids–now that most brands use foil or plastic film, they’re mostly good only for bathtime/water table play. Anyway, I never had to worry about whether or not they returned home (my boy, at age 3, would often forget, and throw them away). Since they hadn’t been an investment, their loss wasn’t as hard to stomach.
I’m a huge fan of Ghirardelli chocolate–it’s part of our family history–it doesn’t use high fructose corn syrup as the sweetener. Their hot cocoa tins are perfect for storing pre-bagged teas that would normally fade in their boxes. I’ve used my girl’s baby cereal tins to store smaller bags of pasta, like stars and alphabet letters. I have old, larger, powdered iced tea tins that are currently storing small craft projects and materials.
Altoid (or other hard candy) tins are popular with the smoking crowd–most of my camping friends always have one on hand to safely stash their butts. I have one in my purse to store the points stickers from our local grocery store for the kids to save up for the cooler prizes. Also, I have a friend who makes micro-altar art pieces with them as the base. I’m rolling around an interpretation of my own in my head. Y’all will be the first to know if I manage to make something documentable.

Anyone remember film canisters? Although not from, nor for, food, I have several in my sewing kit which hold such things as buttons retrieved from worn-beyond-donating clothes, safety pins, and bobbins. I used to keep one full of quarters in my purse when I used to park in downtown Austin often enough to justify maintaining that stash.

Purposeful Jewelry: Wing nuts

Posted: April 11, 2011 by emphelan in Crafts, Gifts, Kids, wearables
Tags: ,

What you need is

16 gauge wire (hot fencing works great)
several wing nuts (depending on size and how big the wrist is)
wire cutters
needle nose pliers
screw driver (Phillips)

I seem to have lost my photos on how to make the rings. If you wire is dirty, use a metal cleaner (lemon juice works sometimes) and clean it up all shinny like. Next start wrapping it around the screwdriver. As tight as possible. Once you get to the end, slide it off, you should have a very tight spring.

Next cut the spring down the middle, making lots of small rings. As most of us do not have the fancy rotatory tools, they will look a little pinched at the cuts.

Next, take a wing nut, and attach 2 rings to one side. Squeezing the rings shut with the pliers. Then add two more rings to those rings, then two more wings, and then another wing nut.


Something like that.

Attach clasps on either end when finished, and Viola!

wing nut braclet