Instant Gift: Leftovers Labels

We have all done it – stuck something in the back of the fridge or freezer without a label and then… time goes by. What is this stuff? Is it still edible? How long has it been here? Is this cooked or raw? And after all of those doubts crowd in we throw out the food, because why risk food poisoning?

Or we label things poorly – a piece of scotch tape half-sticking on, written in fading ink. We still have no idea what the thing is. We still pitch it out. There must be an easier way! Oh wait, there is – with simple leftover labels you can write the name of the food and the date right on the containers!

And with a little thought, you can even turn these handy little labels into a practical, appreciated Christmas gift that I think most people would love and actually even use. First off, print of a sheet (or twelve) of the leftover labels –

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Then make them gift-worthy! Here are a few suggestions –

  • Package them up with some cute magnets (either DIY some or buy them from a crafter) so the recipient can stick their labels right on the fridge.
  • Bake something tasty and use a label to identify what it is. Include a couple of sheets of blank labels for the giftee.
  • Put together a lunch kit – a reusable lunch bag, some reusable snack bags, and an insulated container/mug (all of which you can either make or buy) and of course – a couple sheets of labels.
  • For someone setting up house for the first time (college kids, first apartment, etc.) put together a kitchen basics gift basket – some wooden spoons, towels, mixing bowl or two, some food containers with lids, and a set of the labels.
  • Make an organizer kit – this is perfect for people that love to organize. Include a calendar, some chalkboard labels, chalk pen, an assortment of tags, colorful twine, and some leftover labels.

Don’t be afraid to give practical gifts to those on your list this year. Put some thought into what people need and they will certainly appreciate getting something they will actually use – just make the presentation fun and well-considered, and you can’t go wrong. Happy giving!

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Instant Gift: DIY Seed Packets

Christmas is fast approaching, but there’s still time to put together a thoughtful, handmade gift for the gardener in your life. All good gardeners like to share seeds – it’s a thing. Why not have a convenient, yet pretty, way to package up seeds to pass along to friends, or in an organized seed swap? With supplies that you likely have on hand, you can spend an hour or less on the perfect garden accessory – seed packets. You won’t break the bank doing it, and hey, they might just think you picked up their perfect little gift from a fancy boutique shop too.

You’ll need the following supplies –

  • Computer printer with paper
  • X-acto knife or fine-point scissors
  • Fine-point black marker
  • Scrap cardstock, cardboard, or plastic (old notebook covers work great for this) measuring at least 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches – to make a reusable template
  • Pencil
  • Scrap paper – newsprint, seed catalogs, kid’s art, old maps – whatever you like. Each piece should measure at least 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches (a quarter of a piece of printer paper)
  • Glue stick or rubber cement (regular white glue is too wet for this)
  • Optional – Avery label sheet (to add a label to each packet)

Step 1 – Print out a seed packet template. If you’re using card stock for your template, you can print directly onto that, otherwise print onto regular paper (scrap paper with stuff one one side is fine). Use the X-acto knife or the scissors to cut out the the seed packet shape, leaving all of the edges intact, like a stencil. The cut-out shape is your fold guide for assembling the packets, so keep that handy, but set it aside for now.

Step 2 – Lay the stencil onto the template material, and use the marker to trace around the inside. Then use the X-acto knife or scissors (thick material is much easier to work with using the X-acto knife) to cut out the seed packet shape again – now you have a reusable template.

Step 3 – Lay the template onto the scrap paper, and trace it lightly with the pencil (don’t use the marker – you want light lines that won’t be visible after you cut). Using either the X-acto knife or the scissors, cut out the seed packet. Repeat this step for as many packets as you need – twelve is a nice number for a set.

Step 4 – Using the fold guide you cut out in step one, fold along the bottom and side tabs of each packet. Apply a light coat of glue to the smaller left-side tab and press it down onto the larger right-side tab, to form the back of the packet. Apply a light coat of glue onto the bottom tab and press it down onto the sealed back of the packet. And that’s it – you have a finished seed packet! Repeat this step with the remaining packets until the set is complete.

Optional Step 5 – If you’d like the packets to have a more finished look, and to provide a space to write the seed type and year, affix a sticker label to the front of each envelope.

To package for gift-giving, be creative. Put them into a berry basket, a decorated paper lunch bag, or make a “gift bag” by tucking them into a pair of gardening gloves with some plant labels – you’re only limited by your imagination. If you have seeds from your own garden to pass along, gift some of those too! So if you’re short on time and funds and you’re nowhere near done with gifts yet, don’t despair – pull out your craft supplies and whip up some custom seed packets for the gardener on your list.

DIY Graveyard Terrariums

I have always loved dioramas and terrariums. Making them in school was one of my favorite projects every year? Do kids still get to do dioramas in class? I really hope so. At any rate, grown ups can make a diorama any time the mood strikes, and the mood struck me for Halloween. What’s neater than a graveyard terrarium, or three?

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Here’s the close up photos (glass is so hard to photograph, especially if you’re lazy like me and using a camera phone) –

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Not only were they incredibly easy to throw together, they were also affordable. The large glass bowl I found at a thrift store for $2. The small glass bowls were at Dollar Tree for $1 each. The Spanish moss, wire tree, gargoyles (comes in a 3-pack) and graveyard fence (in the large bowl) were all picked up at Dollar Tree for $1 each. The Lemax Spooky Town coffins were scored at Michaels with a 40% off coupon for $3 for a 3-pack (and they are currently on sale for an even better price of $2!). The coffins are also Lemax Spooky Town from Michaels, and I picked up a 5-pack for the same price (and they’re on sale for $2 right now too, for an even better score).

All I did was plunk a handful of Spanish moss into each jar and arrange the stuff on top until I thought it looked interesting. So for five minutes and $15 you can have a trio of spooky grave yard terrariums to deck out the house for Halloween.

Pinterest Project: Halloween Crystal Ball

Every once in a great while, I dig deep and muster up some motivation to actually do a project that I pin on Pinterest. Friends, today is that day. I’ve been talking about making these awesome crystal balls (at Flamingo Toes) for Halloween for at least a few years now –

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I haven’t made a whole ton of them yet, but I did get one done and I’m supremely pleased it with. It cost me less than $5 to make – I picked up the candlestick and the transparency sheets (a huge box) at a thrift store for just $2. And the clear plastic ornament I got at Michaels for just under $2 as well, though they do sell these at Dollar Tree for $1 each now as well. The black spray paint we had on hand already. I just sprayed the candlestick black (it was brown wood before). Then I printed the images on a transparency sheet, cut out the one I wanted, gently folded it to put into the globe, and hot glued the globe to the top of the candlestick. Pretty simple! So, how do you think my version turned out?

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Easy Halloween Decorating

Halloween is just around the corner in a few weeks, so I thought I’d show off some of the decorating we’ve done around the house. I didn’t do much in the living room since the walls are still unfinished, but the dining room is sufficiently decked out for my taste.

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I did more the orange sign down behind the village since it wasn’t readable up top, but that was pretty much the only change to the hutch. I’d love to find either an old silver or mirrored tray with a metal edging that would mimic a wrought iron fence for the village to sit on, but I haven’t found the right one yet. And I left off the spider webs that I used as fog last year since it’s a pain to work with if there’s nothing to anchor it too.

I also put up some lights in the kitchen window. All of the lighting I scored last year in the post- Halloween clearance for 50% off. I’m hoping to score some more sets this year because they are perfect and it would be great to have some for the living room and the porches.

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And I did a little something in the living room, with some DIY graveyard terrariums (stay tuned for the close up pics in the how-to post) –

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And we’ve got pumpkins, gourds and beautiful orange mums on the porches, but I don’t have a good photo of that since it’s dark all the time when I’m home on weekdays now!

Old Lamp Makeover

I think I have been talking about doing a makeover on this lamp for years now. Well, I finally did it, and I couldn’t be happier. And because I had the spray primer and spray paint on hand from other projects, I basically got a brand new lamp for $5.00 (more on that in a minute.

Here’s the before picture –

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Not ugly, but very outdated with it’s blue and brass color scheme, and pleated shade. It’s actually got good bones, with a really classic shape and style. So it’s nothing a little spray paint and a new shade can’t fix! First, I ditched the shade and bagged up and taped off all of the parts that I didn’t want to get painted. Then I sprayed on a coat of primer. I used gray because that’s what we had on hand –

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Once the primer was dry, I applied two separate coats of oil rubbed bronze spray paint for a nice, classic finish –

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And once that was dry, I brought it inside and put the shade on. And that’s it – here’s our brand new lamp –

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The lamp shade was a thrift store find at Savers, for just $5.00. It’s a very smooth burlap, which I had been hunting for, for months on end. I never found one in the right size, or that was in a good condition until last month, when I snapped it up.

So even though we still have to finish the walls, re-do the flooring and upgrade the furniture, this lamp epitomizes the look we’re headed to in the end. We’ll getting closer, one lamp at a time!

So This Happened…

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I’ve been scoring fabric every time I go to the thrift store, and I’ve bought a few things at online sales… some of what you see is earmarked for blouses, pants, and infinity scarves for Christmas gifts. This is in addition to the trunk full of fabric living in the basement too.  So I suppose it’s time to pull out the sewing machine and start working through this stuff. If I can find it under this avalanche, that is.