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Make It Monday – Simple, Elegant Holiday Earrings

A pair of simple, sparkly earrings made using vintage beads.

If you’re looking for a quick, festive holiday accessory or a simple gift or stocking stuffer for female family and friends, a pair of earrings is a pretty safe bet. Provided one of your friends doesn’t have piereced ears (you could always invest in some clip-ons), it’s the one piece of jewelry that women are most likely to accessorize with. Even if they don’t wear necklaces, bracelets or rings, they’re likely to put in (and probably keep in) a simple pair of earrings that go with everything. Start an assembly line of beads and wire for this project, and you’ll be done in no time!

Here’s what you need:

Earring hooks in silver, gold, or steel

Matching headpins or wire

Decorative beads (plastic or glass; clear, silver, and gold are classic choices)

Round nose plyers

Needlenose plyers

How to make the earrings:

Step 1: Once you’ve decided which beads to use, place them in the order you like on a headpin. You can play around with shape – use 3 different size beads (small to large) to creat a teardop, for example. Repeat for the second headpin. If you’re planning on making all of the earrings the same, go ahead and repeat for all of the headpins.

Step 2: Taking a beaded headpin in one hand, use the round nose plyers to grasp the open end and curl it into a loop. Before you’ve closed the circle completely, bend the plyers back in the opposite direction a bit, so that the wire at the bottom of the circle is crimped. This centers the loop above the wire, gives the earrings better balance, and makes them look more professional.

Step 3: Place the earring hook in the circle you’ve made, and close the wire using needlenose plyers to gently push the end in.

That’s it! You can customize the length of the earrings by clipping the headpins to different lengths with wire cutters, or leave them long for a dangly earring with lots of motion, adding as many or as few beads as you like. You can place the earrings in jewelry boxes to giftwrap, or punch holes in cardstock squares to insert the earring hooks and attach to packages (a needle works well; the closer the hole is to the size of the hook, the less likely it will be that the hook slips off the card.) The ladies in your life will appreciate the beautiful jewelry, and you’ll appreciate spending less money and less time searching for the perfect gift!

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Chelsea

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Favorites & Freebies – Wooden Wonderland

Happy Friday, everybody!  This week, our newest favorites are all things woodsy.

Graphicspaceswood is an awesome woodshop with eco friendly and modern nursery and children’s furniture that’s so cute, you just might buy something for yourself.

Woodland Forest Friends Bookends

If you like wood so much you want to wear it, check out VectorCloud, a laser cut jewelry maker with an assortment of other cool products.

Rocker Baby Brooch

On to the freebies!

In need of some unique Christmas cards this year? TheDreamingDragonfly has a set of reproduction Victorian cards that are sure to make the recipient swoon. All you pay is shipping!

Chilly? Win a “bundle yourself up” set by de*nada.

Enter to win this hat, cowl, and glove set in purple and black.

Hint: If you’re on a budget this year (who isn’t?) and have a little free time, enter some giveaways! Don’t just enter for things you like, but things your friends and family might like. It’s a fun way to do a little “shopping,” and if you win it doesn’t cost you a thing. No one will ever know!

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Chelsea

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Thoughtful Thursday – There’s No Place Like (A Thrifty) Home

I am finally done with our Wizard of Oz themed Trunk Or Treat decorations and costumes! This is definitely the hardest I’ve worked for Halloween so far. I had short notice to get everything together – a little over a month – and I wasn’t sure if I’d get everything done, and within our budget. With a little craftiness and thriftyness, though, you can make big projects fit into a small budget. Since today is Thoughtful Thursday, I thought I’d share my thoughts on putting together an inexpensive Oz themed Trunk Or Treat.

First, you need a plan. If I hadn’t had a plan, I don’t think I’d have gotten everything done. We figured out which characters we wanted to be (hint: if you don’t have much time, I’d say the scarecrow and Dorothy, or maybe the witch, are the easiest costumes to put together.) Then I planned what I wanted the trunk to look like. I knew I wanted the yellow brick road leading to the Emerald City, and the idea grew from there. I realized I wanted a rainbow, and for the yellow road to extend out from the trunk. Be realistic about what you can achieve, and consider the materials you already have before you go out and buy a ton of stuff.

For the background, I used white posterboard, sketching the scene from movie stills, then used acrylic paint and glitter glue I have in my craft stash to paint the city. I cut out “hills” from different shades of green cardstock I already had to fill in the field. I decorated poppies I bought from the dollar store with the glitter glue, and glued them onto the background for a 3D effect. Also, using foam board, I cut out a rainbow shape and painted it. Here’s how it turned out:

Actually, I ended up clipping off the “Oz” lettering to leave less white space, and outlined the city with glitter. I think I might attach the letters to the rainbow, and add clouds from leftover white poster board. I’ll hang the leftover poppies from the top of the trunk with fishing line to fill in some of the empty space on the sides of the background, and place a blue plastic tablecloth (from the dollar store, of course) behind it all, with a light source (ahem, a flashlight) behind that. I’m hoping to use some fake plants to create a forest-y effect, and I’ll extend the yellow brick road from the trunk using cutouts from yellow posterboard. Altogether, the decorations for the trunk only cost $10 because I used paint, glitter, paper and glue that I already had. I’m pretty proud of the way they turned out!

I confess, I bought the Dorothy dress for fifteen bucks. Although, I think it was a Juniors size, so it was a little short when I tried it on. Since it was such a great deal (no thank you, $45 costume,) I just sewed some lace to the hem to lengthen the dress, bought some white socks for a dollar, and my mom helped me make these awesome ruby slippers from $5 silver shoes from Wal Mart. I bought a picnic basket for $1.75, and added the leftover lace from the dress to make it match. Add some blue ribbon to tie around my pigtails, and I’ve got an entire Dorothy costume for a little over $20. Color me stoked!

The scarecrow costume was relatively easy. My husband already had a green shirt and black sweatpants to use, and I had muslin scraps to make a headpiece, fleece to make a hat, and jute to use as rope. All I bought was raffia to tie around elastic bracelets and anklets for a stuffed-with-straw effect, and the face makeup. I made the hat by dividing the circumference of his head by 4, then cutting triangles that had that length for the base, and were about 8 inches tall. I stitched them together with embroidery thread, then glued the top of the hat onto a round brim with hot glue, accenting it with a piece of jute. The muslin is basically just a large circle with an opening cut for the face, tied with jute around his neck. We’ll tie jute around his wrists, ankles, and waist, and I’ll probably add some patches to his pants and call it a day. His costume cost $3 – one for the raffia, and two for the makeup. My inner thriftmonster is soothed!

There you have it. That’s the entire process, minus a few gory details, of making our Trunk Or Treat theme. I hope the kids like it. No flying monkeys, no witch, no haunted forest, so hopefully they won’t think the scarecrow is scary! We were Thing 1 and Thing 2 a few years ago, and some of the kids were scared of us – I think it was the blue hair. Anyway, it should be a blast. We’ll see how it goes when we actually set everything up in the trunk. I hope it looks as good then as it does in my head now.

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Chelsea

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Make It Monday – DIY Cleaning Products

I may sound like a hippie when I say this, but with the current “green movement” I think it’s appropriate: I haven’t used normal household cleaning products in over a year. “Her house is probably gross!” you say?  It’s not – I just use store-bought ingredients to make my own. It’s not much more time consuming than having to shop the store, and is usually much cheaper. (Plus, many of the ingredients can be used in other ways, like in edible recipes!) All you need to keep your home clean is Borax, washing soda, baking soda, white vinegar, lemons or lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, olive oil, some essentail oils if you like, and bar or liquid castille soap.

Washing Powder 

Combine 1 cup grated castille bar soap (use a cheese grater and a measuring cup, turn on your favorite show or music and it’ll be over in no time), 1/2 cup washing soda (find it on the same aisle you’d find other detergents), and 1/2 cup Borax.

Use 1-2 tablespoons, depending on the size of the load. Of course, you can double the ingredients to last longer, but just a small amount goes a long way! We store ours in a labeled tupperware container with a measuring spoon right above the washer.

Glass Cleaner

In a labeled plastic spray bottle, comine a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, add a little essential oil (peppermint works well.) Shake, spray directly onto glass, and wipe with a clean dry cloth. Use a piece of crumpled newspaper to remove any streaks.

Frost-Free Windshield Solution 

Vinegar and water also work to keep your vehicle’s windsheild frost-free. Mix 3 parts vinegar and 1 part water, and clean your windshield the same way you would use the glass cleaner. Pour the remaining liquid into your windshield wiper fluid container under the hood, and use it like any other wiper fluid.

Bathroom Mold Cleaner

Instead of using harsh chemicals like bleach, all you need is a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. Spray it on, then wait at least 30 minutes before rinsing.

Deodorizing

Instead of masking smells, get rid of them by sprinkling baking soda or borax in the bottom of garbage cans, and sprinkling baking soda on the carpet before you vacuum. Grind lemon rinds, or add a little lemon juice and baking soda to your garbage disposal and run it. Swab a couple of drops of essential oil, like peppermint, tea tree, or lavender, onto your light bulbs a couple of times a month.

All Purpose Cleaner

Mix 1/8 cup of Borax to 1 quart of hot water (1/2 cup to 1 gallon.) Mix and let Borax dissolve completely. Spray on surfaces to clean and disinfect, then wipe with a clean, dry cloth.

Other Surface Cleaners

Use baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar to clean your sinks and tubs. Sprinkle baking soda, borax, and vinegar or lemon juice in toilet bowls; let sit about 10 minutes, then use the brush to clean. Polish wood with some olive oil and a clean, dry cloth (an unwanted sock works well!)

There are tons of other uses for these products, but that covers the basics you’ll need to keep your stuff clean. What are some of your favorite DIY cleaning tips?

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Chelsea

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Make It Monday – Halloween, Shmalloween

Don’t have time to go out and buy, or stay home and sew a costume for yourself or your kids? It’s okay, neither do I. Over the years, though, I’ve learned that most of the things I need for a good Halloween costume can be found in my home (or someone else’s, if they’ll let me raid it.) It’s free or close to it, environmentally friendly, and easy. So, don’t give up on Halloween. Just turn to the darkest, spookiest corners of your closet for some classic inspiration.

Black Cat

You’ll want any combination of black, form-fitting articles of clothing (shirt and pants/skirt, dress, pantsuit, leotard and tights, etc.), black shoes, black headband or hair clips, black felt or paper, black eyeliner, a black marabou feather boa or other black fabric for the tail, and a hot glue gun.

Cut triangular ears from the felt or paper and glue them to the hair clips or headband. (If your costume includes a black hoodie, you can safety pin or stitch the felt ears to the hood.) If you have enough marabou, you can glue some around the edges of the ears to make them fuzzy, then take the remaining maribou and safety pin or stitch it onto the area of clothing that lays on the small of your back. Use the eyeliner to blacken the tip of your nose, draw whiskers, and create a “cat eye” effect when you line your eyes. A sparkly choker “collar” is a plus. Purr and meow your way through the streets.

Fairy or Bug

All you need is 1-2 pairs of pantyhose (black or white won’t require any spraypainting), 2-4 wire hangers, duct tape, ribbon, maybe that glue gun again, and a matching outfit. Any frilly dress will work for the fairy – have an old bridesmaid dress hanging around? Green, blue, and black colored clothing work for the bug. (If you already have a black and red polka dot or black and yellow stripe outfit, you’re an instant ladybug or bee!)

Straighten the hooks of the hangers. Bend the triangle of the hanger into any shape you want – round, oval, etc. You can use 2 hangers – one hanger for each side of the wings by creating and “m” or “w” shape with each hanger, or you can use 4 hangers – 2 top wings and 2 bottom wings. Wrap the straightened hooks together to attach your wings together, then wrap with duct tape to secure any sharp edges. Cut the pair of pantyhose in half so that the 2 legs are separated, then slide the legs over your wings. You now have 3 choices: you can trim the excess hose and glue the ends down to the hanger (very carefully!) with your glue gun, you can tie the two ends in a knot around the straightened hooks of the hangers and trim off the excess, or you can wrap the ends around the straightened hooks and duct tape them down. Once the pantyhose are on the wings, wrap ribbon around the middle, where you’ve wrapped, duct taped, and glued. Create tight loops with the ribbon to go around your shoulers like the straps of a backpack. You can decorate the wings with sequins, glitter, or glow in the dark paint to add a little pizazz. Make buzzing noises while walking quickly around the room.

Gypsy or Fortune Teller

I’m doing this for a party this year! Just dig in your closet to find bohemian clothing to layer, and embrace some dark eyeliner and bright lipstick. Guys can be gypsies, too! A billowy shirt with a vest, long pants, bare feet, and some eyeliner goes a long way.

Layer a vest over a flowy top, or two skirts in different lengths on top of each other. Tie scarves or shawls around your head and waist, and pile on the jewelry – hoop earrings, and lots of bracelets, rings, anklets, and maybe a toe ring. Go barefoot, and apply some smoky eyeshadow and liner with red or a berry-colored lipstick. Shroud yourself in mystery and tell people their (very vague) fortunes.

Ghost

Far from the classic white sheet (though there’s nothing wrong with that if you don’t mind cutting holes in them!), you just need some white clothing. Billowy and ethereal is nice, but not a must. You may have to buy some white face paint for this one, but that’s all you’ll need to buy.

Go corporate in a white button down, formal in a white dress, or comfy in a white robe or nightgown. If it’s white, it works. Use white grease or cream paint for your face and neck (be sure to cover your lips and brows), and go as a very dead “whatever.” For a little more dimension, break out the trusty black eyeliner to smudge under and around your eyes and under your cheek bones for a hollow effect. Moan and float around to the best of your ability.

Pirate

This popular theme only require a billowy or striped top paired with a skirt, or khakis/jeans/Dickies and a bandana. Smudge your eyes with black eyeliner, and add a few smudges to the rest of your face while you’re at it. Tie the bandana around your head (bonus points if you have a captain’s hat, eye patch or parrot laying around), carry around an empty bottle and “yaaargh” a lot!

All of these costumes apply to both sexes, so they make couple and family costumes easy! Get creative with your props by digging through toys and using your imgination, and have fun.

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Chelsea

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