Sunday, March 25, 2012

A couple of other quick uses for leftover scrapbook paper

Peanut can upcycled into a pen caddy
I needed a few things to help me organize my desk at work last year.  I didn't have much money and needed to get creative in order to create a few items that would work for me.

I needed a couple of pencil holders and ended up grabbing an empty peanut can and I also found a nice lidded can that originally held plant seeds.  Both items were destined for the recycling bin.  Then I also needed a way to organize a few files on my desk, so I found a metal organizer at my local Goodwill Store (which I try and shop at whenever I need items for my home or office - before I go to regular retail stores!).  While at Goodwill, I also found a nifty little cardboard drawer set (perfect for holding my chapstick, paper clips, and other little items since I don't have a desk drawer ).  The little drawer set was covered in a red and black/Asian theme which didn't work with my preferred color scheme.

Once I had all the desk items I needed, I wanted to have them look coordinated instead of looking like a bunch of garbage that should have been tossed out.  I initially decided to paint them.  I did end up painting the metal file organizer black with flecks of teal, but I found it rather boring looking.  So then, I decided that I would decoupage them with some coordinating scrapbook paper scraps (I certainly had PLENTY of scraps to choose from!).

File Organizer painted black with flecks of teal.
I ended up finding a very cheery set of papers which had the colors: lime green, aqua/teal, and blue.  I cut the various papers to fit the cans and glued them down using Modge-podge glue.  Then I cut out some of the cute flowers from one of the coordinating papers and glued them on as well.
I really love the look I ended up with!!  It's a bit young perhaps - but it added a nice feeling of fun and vibrancy to my desk at work (and believe me, my sad desk needed it!).  This little project has motivated me to look for other items to decoupage,  I just need to find the time!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Portable Card-Making Box

Some of my scrap book left-overs
Do you have a lot of  left-over paper from scrap booking?   If so, then you're probably aware how easily they can be turned into greeting cards, but do you take the time to do so?

I love to scrap book and end up with TONS of small scraps of paper which I try to use up doing my scrap booking.  However, I still end up with a lot of scraps and after doing a page or two or three with the same papers, I get tired of trying to incorporate my left-overs.  Instead I do a quick sort (patterned scraps vs solid-colored scraps), and then stick them into baggies and throw them into my portable card-making box.
Ikea Box
I found my box at IKEA (love them!).  My card-making box is is big enough to hold a large selection of small paper scraps, a good selection of card made from card stock or scrap booking paper, some scrap booking tools (like scissors, glue, pens), and a bunch of accessories (including: some white silk flowers which I can color with chalks or ink pens, chalks, a few stickers - mostly with pre-printed sentiments on them like "Happy Birthday" or "Thank-You", and a variety of ribbons).  I keep everything in clear baggies which not only helps keep things organized and clean, but also makes it easy to find the item I am looking for.  Right now I actually have too many things stuffed into the box and will either have to do some careful editing or I'll have to find a bigger box.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mardi Gras Masks

I found a pattern for a simple Mardi Gras mask online (I can't remember where - sorry!!).  It was just a basic/simple shape.

My original plan was to use the pattern to make simple masks for my students to decorate - and we did.  I started off using cardboard from recycled cereal boxes for my two masks (which was perfect - stiff enough to support lots of paint and decorations, and yet thin enough to cut out with scissors).  However, cutting the cereal-box cardboard with scissors was pretty hard on my hands and the thought of having to cut out over 25 of them for my students was rather daunting.  I ended up switching to old, recycled file folders.  The file folders are a little stiffer than card stock but a lot easier to cut than the cereal box cardboard. Personally I prefer the cereal box cardboard and it's not too hard on the hands if you only have to cut out one or two.

The steps I followed:
  1. Print off the template (these ones are not exactly the same but you can find tons of templates online if you do a search for Mardi Gras Mask template).
  2. Cut out the template including eye-holes.
  3. Place your template on top of the cardboard you want to use for your mask and trace with a pencil.
  4. Cut out the cardboard mask.
  5. Glue a Popsicle Stick to the back/side. 
  6. Decorate.
Simple right?  Well it really was that simple.  All of our students (from our low-functioning to our high-functioning) had fun decorating the masks with paint, glitter, and feathers.  I too, had a blast decorating the masks.  So much so, that I had to make 2 masks (and really wanted to make more but didn't have a reason to).

Butterfly Mask
My first mask was decorated with blue paints, silver glitter glue (which was used to apply glitter dots on the lower part of the mask, and glitter lines down the center lines and around the eyes), and feathers. Fun and pretty, and looks a bit like a butterfly.

But my favorite ended being the owl mask.

I used shades of aqua paints.  I did add little aqua glitter dots in the corner of the faux-feathers. But my favorite part is the faux-feathers which I painted in gradually-darkening shades of aqua.  The faux-feathers are actually a bunch of the cardboard eye-holes which I cut out from other masks. 
Owl Mask
A mask made by a co-worker
 Our students loved this craft and it certainly made our classroom festive.  I can't wait to do it again next year!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hiring differently-abled people

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I work with differently-abled young adults who are transitioning out of school into the adult world.  The program is a really fabulous opportunity for these students.  Our state requires 3 additional years of transition training for students who have gone through 4 years of high school (so our program is for 18-21 year-old's).  What we really do is job training and life-skills training. 

I love working with these young people and am thrilled to be part of helping them learn to be independent!  Working with them has really opened my eyes as to their incredible strength of spirit and amazing resilience.  If so-called "normal" people had half of their inner personal strength, I think a lot more would get done.

I am wondering though, why so many businesses view them as less-valuable than "normal" employees?  In reality, many of my students can do jobs as well as "normal" people - they may require a bit more investment in time and training at first.   Yet in spite of their dedication to their jobs, our students are often the first ones let go when a business starts experiencing money problems.

I am examining my business and product ideas to see if I can find ways to create jobs for them (in the future, when/if my company becomes a bit more successful) that will not only benefit them - but my company as well.   As an example of a win-win situation, there is a business owner who sells Mason Bees and Hives online.  He brings in supplies for my students to put together into hives which the owner then sells.  His business is booming and our students are gaining valuable work experience.  What an awesome opportunity for both sides - the students and the business owner! 

I challenge you to do something similar!!  Think outside of your "normal" box when looking at potential employees.  Hire a differently-abled person (or two!) and I bet you'll be wonderfully surprised by what happens.

If you'd like more information, here are a couple of links for programs in Washington State and/or National Programs.

*Or feel free to contact me and I'll do my best to point you towards additional resources.

WISE - Washington Initiative for Supported Employement

Best Buddies International  (

Gladnet  (

JAN (Job Accommodation Network)  (

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability   (

U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy  (

Office of Employment Support Programs  (

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bellevue Botanical Gardens Holiday Lights

Bellevue Botanical Gardens 2 phnpicIMAG0024IMAG0030IMAG0037IMAG0011IMAG0013IMAG0012
Bellevue Botanical Gardens Holiday Lights, I didn't get around to sharing these earlier - but the are so lovely.  These are just a few pictures from our annual holiday trip to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens in December 2011.  The lights are SO lovely and most (or all?) are now LED which is a lot more environmentally-friendly. 

I've looked closely at the light displays and many of them are not at all hard to make.  Every year I swear that I am going to make a few of the flower-shapes for my own yard, but I never get around to it.  I guess for now, I'll just have to make do with visiting the Garden. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A cheap and simple picture frame re-do

A few of the framed items on my wall, a couple
are still waiting for artwork to be made
I have been re-framing some of my photos and artwork in an attempt to unify and coordinate them.  After doing some research and talking to a few artists, I decided to frame most of my pictures/artwork in frames that are colored "museum black".

Folk Art Pure Black Paint #479
I will admit I did buy a few frames (mostly from my local Goodwill Industries store) - but most of the frames I used were frames I already had.  I simply painted them all black.   I used Folk Art's Pure Black acrylic paint #479.. which is not only inexpensive, but it also looks great on the frames (it's a nice pure black but dries in a flat finish, which is perfect for the frames!).

I think these frames look great!  I painted all of these except the memo board and 2 larger picture frames.

frames waiting to be painted, and waiting for artwork
I even took an old white poster frame (which had a nasty pink-toned matt) and I painted the frame with the Pure Black paint and then I used Folk Art's White paint and painted over the nasty pink matting (similar to the nasty faded-green tone in this other frame awaiting painting).

I ended up using the newly painted matting and frame to frame a map from an old atlas.

I think it turned out awesome -it's even hard to tell it's a crappy, cheap, plastic frame!  Gotta love simple, easy, and cheap makeovers with big impacts!

My newly framed map page

Friday, March 9, 2012

I love this orYANY purse!

I found (or recovered - teehee) this purse for $12 at the local Goodwill Industries.  I loved it for it's fun colors inside and out (inside it's a lime green, outside is a bright aqua).  It's leather and has a bunch of wonderful details including a chain and clasp.  It has multiple pockets inside (which I adore!), and has 2 handles plus a shoulder-strap.  It's big enough to hold all of my stuff (which I will admit, is a lot!), but not too big (like hobo bags).

I looked inside and found out that it is an "OrYANY" purse - which I admit, I have never heard of.  After doing a bit of research, it appears that the brand OrYANY is a very nice brand which is carried at nicer retail shops (for example Nordstroms).  Is this purse an original? I don't know.. but based on the quality of the leather and the high number of quality details, I believe it is. 

I just love it when I find such a great bargain!!!   My daughter thinks I should post the purse on E-bay and "make some moolah".  Personally, I just love having and using it!  It's perfect for my needs and I get a lot of compliments whenever I use it.

My thanks to whomever donated the purse to Goodwill!!  I LOVE my new purse!

Postcards for people who are moving (repost from my old blog Giftbaskets4fun)

Just finished making 2 new sets of "We've Moved" Postcardsn (available in sets of 8 for $8.00)  and posting them at

I love making these postcards.  Not only do I get to use my rubber stamps and inks, I also get to break out the heat-gun and use my embossing powders, and my deckle scissors too! 

I originally started making them for a friend who's a realator and wanted to give them to her client who had just bought a house.   I think they're a lot nicer than the postcards available at the Post Office!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Barnes and Nobles Recycled Paper Basket

I just love it when I find something new created out of old or repurposed items!!  I was shopping at Barnes and Nobles bookstore a few weeks ago and ran into a collection of items made from recycled goods.  I love ALL of them!  

They had baskets/bins made out of recycled newspaper (which was rolled into long thin tubes and then folded into a square/star design) - what an awesome design/look!!   (And it looks GREAT on my bookshelf! - yes I had to have one!!).

They also had some boxes that the fabric was woven with tubes of newspaper.  I liked them, but wasn't as enraptured with them as I was with the baskets.  I still think they are awesome!

And then they had little coin purses which were created from used food wrappers (I got one of these for my stepmomma who is a fiber-artist and loved it!). 

What an awesome collection of items!! Keep it up Barnes and Nobles!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

World Globe Lampshade (reposting from my old blog Giftbaskets4fun)

I was going through my shop and my craft areas and found quite a few vintage world globes.  I had originally bought them with the idea of making them into lampshades for friends and family (over 10 years ago).  I had made myself a pair to put in my living room, but the rest have been sitting and waiting for me to work on.

I have finally started working on them again (hooray!).  I just finished one lampshade and have posted it on Etsy for sale.  I like how it turned out and am excited to work on some more (I have several different colors of globes and a couple of different sizes as well - next will be a brown-colored globe). 

Thinking about other ways to use the globes, I realized I could make the bottom portion of the globes (which I do not use for lampshades) into bowls.  So keep an eye open for an upcomming post about the bowls.  Who knows, if they turn out well, I may try selling them on Etsy as well. :)

Re-covered Bookcases

Bookcases with salmon trim
trim repainted dark mohagony red
I re-covered these bookcases from a thrift store, and other than an odd shade of trim (salmon-colored), they were awesome!  I'm not sure why someone would want to get rid of something so functional and great looking (but I'm sure glad they did!!). 

I painted the trim a dark red/brown (similar in color to my mahogany dining room furniture) and presto! the bookcases now tie in beautifully with my the rest of my furniture.