Category Archives: getting crafty

DIY paper mache bowl - the sweetest digs

a craft basic: a paper mache bowl

27th February 2014

Before diving into this week’s crafty stuff – I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you guys for the overwhelming support on my post about my breastfeeding experience on Monday. I was completely surprised about the number of comments, facebook messages, and even private emails that I received from other parents out there who could connect in some way with the post. Clearly we need to talk about this stuff more, and throw all of that judgment out the window! So anyway – thank you. It was lovely, humbling, and touching to hear from so many of you.

Okay – back to the usual fare around here. We are kickin’ it old school today, guys. Remember how you used to make paper mache as a kid? Well I don’t quite know why I got a hankering to do some recently, but I did. I kept it to a basic bowl… but you know what? I’m kinda loving it.

DIY paper mache bowl - the sweetest digs

First up are the supplies. You can make your own paper mache solution with flour and water, but had some modpodge hanging around so opted to use it instead. Along with that you need a balloon, some newspaper, and a paintbrush unless you want to get messy and use your hands (this is admittedly the more fun option!).


It’s pretty simple. Smear modpodge on the balloon, put your strips of newspaper down, and cover them with more podge. If you had a bowl of the flour and water paste, you just dunk in the strip and then stick it to the balloon. I would do a layer, let it dry overnight, and then do another. In total I did 4 layers as I wanted the bowl to be reasonably sturdy.


In a craft fail, the smaller balloon did not hold up. When I popped it, the whole bowl collapsed into itself (you can see it on the right). Good thing I had that bigger guy to keep me going. After you pop the balloon, you need to cut around the edges of the bowl to get it smooth.


I got all the bits of the balloon out from the inside, and then gave the exterior a coat of white paint. It took a few coats to totally cover up all of the newspaper.


I had planned on doing the inside in gold, but then was craving a little black + white action, so did the inside in a matte black. I loved the look – it’s pretty striking – but it was lacking a little something.


Time for some stamping! I cut a sponge into a triangle shape, dabbed it into my black paint, and stamped around the edge of the bowl.


The result is actually pretty cute. I had totally thought that this might end up in the ugly craft category, but I’m happily digging it. I like that the stamps aren’t totally perfect, and that you can see the texture on the bowl. I haven’t put a coat of a sealant on it, but might down the road if I notice it’s getting marked up.


I haven’t quite figured out where I like this guy yet, so have been moving it around from spot to spot over the last few days…



So easy, right? And for free? Love those kinds of projects.

Have you done any paper mache-ing since graduating from 8th grade? Any stamping? Any other little crafts lately? 


how to make a diaper “cake”

18th February 2014

The other weekend I was going to a friends’ baby shower (well actually, a “welcome to the world” celebration, as the baby has already been born). My girlfriend has a lot of stuff for baby already and didn’t register for anything in particular, so I decided to have a little fun with her gift. Have you ever seen those “cakes” that people make out of diapers? They are totally cheesy, but I thought it might be kind of fun to try making one myself.

First step was to roll up a bunch of diapers. I had some decorative washi-style tape from the dollar store, so decided to use it instead of elastics (mostly because I didn’t actually have enough elastics at my place). I did a test one first to make sure that the stickiness of the tape didn’t ruin the diaper, and since it’s a pretty low-tack tape, it wasn’t an issue.

You want to roll up the diaper like in this pic, and then just wrap a piece of tape around the middle of it.


After a while, you’ll start to have a big stack…


I knew I wanted to make three tiers, so I counted out how many diapers I had and then split them into three groups. I can’t remember the exact number, but it was something like 60 for the bottom tier, 40 for the middle, and 20 for the top.

I took a cardboard tube leftover from a roll of paper towel to use as the middle of the cake. Then I would place rolled up diapers upright around the tube, and tie a piece of ribbon around them quite securely.


After that, it was just a matter of doing another layer on top of another layer, etc etc, until you end up with the size of base that you want. You need to make sure they are quite tightly tied on so that the shape really stays in place, and you don’t have rogue diapers dropping out from below.


I made a second tier on top of that one in the same way, and then the top tier. I stuck a single diaper in the top of the cardboard tube so that it wouldn’t show, and then took a wood skewer and popped it in the top. Cut out a little flag out of cardboard, taped it around the top of the skewer, tied some fancy ribbon around the three tiers to dress it up, and it was looking cute and festive!DSC_1084


I wanted to include a few other goodies as well, so squeezed in a few of my favourite baby products around the cake.


A piece of cardboard from the recycling bin cut to size made the perfect tray to hold the cake on. DSC_1092


It ended up being a big hit! And hopefully all of those diapers will hold her over for a little while. Diapers are one of those things that are so annoying to constantly buy, so getting a bunch for free is always nice.

Ever made a “diaper cake”, or received one? Any other favourite creative baby gifts? 

kids gift idea in a mason jar

kids gift idea: mason jar “loot bags”

10th February 2014

We’re all about the good, bad, and the ugly around here… so guys, here is my latest pinterest fail. It’s definitely not all perfect buntings and room makeovers around here. This past Christmas I was trying to come up with a gift idea for all the nieces and nephews in our life – and between my family and Dan’s, there are close to 20 of them. Not a small number, so it had to be something relatively easy to make and budget-friendly. I had seen mason jars with little animals on the lids that were super cute – like these and these. Well, I thought it would be fun (and easy?) to make each kid a special jar like that, and then fill it with little goodies. Ha. Famous last words.

I bought a pack of plastic dinosaurs from the dollar store, got out my hot glue gun, and got to work. I glued each dinosaur on, held them down for 30 seconds, and then let them dry for a few days. You can see them on the table here, while I had all my craft stuff out…


Then I gave them a few coats of light blue and green spray paint. And can you guess what happened? Those damn little dino’s started popping off one by one. Ugh. I tried to re-do them using super glue, again to no avail. I ended up with one big ol’ mess, and a pile of dinos ready for the dump.


I still don’t know why exactly it didn’t work – maybe I should’ve roughed up the tops of the mason jars with sandpaper first? Who knows. In any case, time was running short and I needed to get these gifts done. I had already bought all of the “littles” to put in the jars, so I wasn’t ready to give up on the jar idea.


Speaking of the goodies for inside the jar, I bought some big packages of foam stickers that were different animals. Can anyone tell me what this brown thing is supposed to be? My girlfriend and I had quite a laugh trying to decipher this guy…DSC_0858

Anyway, I filled each one with little pressies – kinda making these like mason jar “loot bags”, which I figured was fun. I then hunted through my fabric stash to find some good fabric to use as lids. I couldn’t do the usual scrap of fabric under the lid and screw the round part on like you can with mason jars, because all of the lids were toast from my dino-fail, so I had to just tie string around the fabric. A little finicky, but not a huge deal.

Throw a nametag on each, and I ended up with a table full of these…


Cute, right? The little kiddos had stickers, bouncy balls, bubbles, etc, while the older ones had craft supplies, necklace pendants, funny erasers, beads. etc. The excitement of all the little goodies inside is the best. I found that buying bulk packages of things at the dollar store and then breaking them up so each jar got a few was the most economical way to go. I spent about a total of $40 on everything, so the price per jar was only like $2. Win!

DIY mason jar loot bags for only $2 each - via the sweetest digs

So there you have it – a salvaged pinterest fail. Have any of your own pinterest fails lately? Please tell me I’m not alone. If you have made those cute animal-topped jars… what’s the secret? 

pinterest challenge: painted mason jars

11th July 2012

It’s that time again folks… Pinterest Challenge time! A “kick your butt into gear and stop pinning, start doing”.

Last time around I stenciled some curtains, and the time before that I whipped up a yarn wreath. For this summer version, I didn’t have too much time on my hands so I thought I would check off one of those projects I have been meaning to do for ages: spray-painted mason jars. You can see the pink ones I pinned here.

I had some of the big mason jars leftover from our wedding last year and some blue spray paint kicking around, so this was a zero-dolla no-trip-to-the-store kind of project. The perfect kind of project, if you ask me.

I started out with a light coat of primer (Tremclad’s gray primer).

Then some fun preppy blue in a satin finish. I didn’t want anything too glossy, since I wanted these little guys to look sort of aged and chalky. You know what I mean, right? I think I did about 4 really light coats – just misting basically. Any little drip would be super noticeable, so I tried to be really careful.

And here they are all done! I love them. So cheerful and sweet.

I didn’t have any flowers on hand for these photos, so I just used some grasses (arghm… weeds?!) from the lawn. Just try to imagine how cute they would be with a few white flowers.

There you have it! A super-simple project you can do in an afternoon. I still have to spray a coat of clear sealer on the jars (so that they don’t chip), but I can’t wait to dot them around the house with some fresh flowers.

Now go check out the rest of the pinterest challenge entries over at Young House Love, Bower Power, Centsational Girl, and Ten June. Have fun!

the DIY files: a paint chip mobile

9th July 2012

One of my latest design projects is a nursery room. Two of our BFFs are expecting a little guy this fall so I’m helping them get the room all ready for the new little dude in their life. I love doing kids rooms – you can have so much more fun with colour and pattern, and people are usually way more up for out-of-the-box stuff!

Anyway, I’m chipping away at the room and so won’t have any big before + after’s for you for a while, but I thought I’d share this little mobile project I whipped up recently. I have a weird addiction of collecting paint chips, so I’m always looking for fun projects to use them on (case in point: my wedding seating chart, and art project). I saw a couple of paint chip mobiles on Pinterest and fell in love with the idea.

First up I gathered up all of my blues/turquiose chips (the colours for the room are lime green and turquoise). Then I pulled out my hole punch and punched out a ton of circles. You can get shaped punches like this at any craft store.

Then I used the same technique that I had used in my faux capiz shell chandelier: I pre-cut pieces of string, put little dots of hot glue on each of the paint chips, and then stuck the string down in place. I then put on some more glue and pressed a second paint chip on to cover up the string and the back of the other chip. Make sense? I ended up with a dozen or so strings of circles.

Once I had all my strings done I needed to figure out how I was actually going to hang them. I needed something rounded, so when I spotted this embroidery hoop, I knew it was just the thing. I had one in my craft closet already, but these things will run you no more than a buck or two.

I wanted to gussy it up a little so grabbed an old pot of a turquoise test paint and slapped it on.

Then it was just a matter of tying each string to the hoop. I triple-knotted it so that everything would be super secure.

I also tied four strings that come to a point at the top to make it easy to hang. The hubby was a smarty pants and grabbed a washer which we tied the four strings to – now it’s just a matter of slipping the washer onto a hook in the ceiling.

And here it is! I love how the blues are all a bit different. It’s like a pretty ocean wave.

I think it’s really fun to look up to. We’re going to hang it in the corner above the crib, so the little guy will be able to stare up at the twinkling circles.

The budget breakdown was a nice big zero, but if you didn’t have any of the supplies it might run you $10-$20 or so for the supplies (hot glue, string, embroidery hoop, circle punch, and some stealthy paint chip hoarding like yours truly).

Fun, right? Any of you guys been up to any paint chip projects lately? Or any other DIY mobiles out there that have been easy and inexpensive to make? I’d love to hear about them! 

party decor: getting crafty

14th June 2012

I was recently asked by a fabulous not-for-profit organization I used to work for (PPO) to do the decor for a big 30th anniversary gala they were hosting. My answer was a very quick yes, and I happily got to work on crafting a few things for the big ‘do. There was a very limited budget to be spent on the decor, so I had to get clever about getting big impact on small bucks.

The venue was a room in City Hall that had soaring ceilings and huge windows. This meant that there wasn’t much we could do in terms of lighting or draping, so I wanted to get creative about the the table decor. There were going to be cocktail tables, long tables with silent auction prizes, and buffet tables. Fresh flowers was going to blow the budget and I wanted something with a pop of colour, so I ended up with tissue pouf centerpieces. Sounds weird, but stay with me for a sec and I’ll explain.

First I started out with the base. I grabbed a bunch of terra cotta pots and painted them turquoise, some wooden dowels, floral foam, and white gravel rocks (all items purchased from my local dollar store).

I cut the foam into pieces and stuck them into the base of the pots. This would be what the dowel would stick into, and covered up by the white rocks.

To put together the tissue poufs, I used this tutorial. It has super clear instructions, and the whole process was a lot easier than I imagined (tissue paper and wire are the only things you need). Once I had the poufs ready, I just wound the wire around the top of the dowel, and voila! Some cheerful and ultra-cute table toppers.

Since I was doing all of my decor shopping at the Dollar store, when I came across these little glass spice shakers, I couldn’t resist. They were 3 for a $1 and I knew would make cute little vases. By taking off the shaker top and cutting up a $1 fake flower bouquet (another dollar store special!), we ended up with some sweet little buds to dot around the room.

A paper bunting with patterned paper was another easy little craft project. Just like this one I made for valentine’s day.

We also threw in a photobooth for good measure. Who doesn’t like to goof around with their pals in front of the camera? Some hanging fabric and colourful balloons are all you need for this crowd pleaser.

The whole evening went off without a hitch. The mood was fun, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, there was some fierce silent auction competition, and money was raised for a great cause.

What about you guys? Helped out with any party decor lately? Any good budget-friendly or DIY tips to share? 

getting crafty: a wedding card booklet

21st March 2012

So if you’ve gotten married, had a big birthday, or celebrated any other type of occasion, you’ll know that you can end up with a stack of cards after the fact. Since we got married last August (you can check out all the details of the day here), I have been keeping all of our cards in a drawer. In a big messy drawer, and it just wasn’t cutting it. The cards are lovely and have such sweet messages, so I wanted to make sure I did something with them so they didn’t get lost of damaged over time.

I wanted to do something simple, so I decided on just binding the cards together. The first step (not pictured since I didn’t have enough hands..) was to 2 hole-punch all of the cards on their “spine” end (so that you can still flip through them). To do this I used my 3-hole punch, but just made sure to use only 2 of the holes (none of the cards would have been big enough to hit all 3 anyway).

I grabbed these book rings from Staples for about $5. It was a mixed pack since I wasn’t sure what size we would need (I ended up needing the biggest ones). Then I just threaded all of the cards onto two rings.

I realized I wanted a front and back cover to make sure the cards were protected, so I grabbed some white foam board from the dollar store and cut two pieces to size (one for the front and one for the back).

Then I hole-punched the covers to match up with the rest of the booklet. The foam board was too thick to get into my 3-hole punch so I had to use my single one and just made sure to mark the spots first.

Then I grabbed some gift wrap I had and covered the two pieces. I wrapped them just like a present and used some double-sided tape on the front so that the paper would really stay in tact.

Then I re-hole punched (to make holes in the paper I just wrapped), threaded the two new pieces on to the binder rings, and added a little title place card. The end result is actually pretty cute!

What’s nice is that it’s super easy to flip through all the cards. That way, 20 years down the road, the hubs and I can still flip through for a little trip down memory lane.

And that’s it, folks! Just an easy little craft project for your Wednesday afternoon… and only 7 months overdue (we got married in August – eek!).

What about you guys? Done any crafting lately? Had any brilliant ideas about organizing your cards? Do tell. 

the DIY files: bunting love

13th February 2012

To celebrate valentine’s day this week, I thought I would add a little touch of love to our living room with a sweet little bunting (remember this burlap one I made for our wedding?).

I grabbed an old music book from the thrift store for 50 cents and then had the rest of the supplies on hand (scissors, cardboard template, hole punch, coloured paper, glue, and string).

I cut out eight triangles of the sheet music (based on my cardboard template) and hole punched in the two top corners of each. Oh I also cut out eight small hearts (four in pink and four in pistachio green).

Then I just glued the hearts on and strung some jute through each triangle.

..and ta-dah! A sweet little bit of looooove.

Sweet, right?

This took all of 20 minutes… so if you want to add a little festivity for your love day tomorrow, throw one of these together. Instead of sheet music, you could use newspaper or any other decorative paper you have lying around.


Oh, and congrats to Jenny who won our stella + dot giveaway. Hope you enjoy those lovely Chantilly Lace earrings, Jenny!


gettin’ spicy

16th January 2012

Last week I posted about a little message centre we put together for our previously cluttered kitchen (check that out here). You may have noticed we also added a little wall-mounted spice rack at the same time, so here’s the scoop.

Firstly, let me back up and show you our pathetic spice “rack” (ie. various spice shakers shoved in a corner of a cabinet):

Not pretty. It also made all of our travel mugs taste slightly spicy. Ick.

So, when I spotted the magnetic ‘Grundtal‘ tins at IKEA, I figured that they would be the perfect solution. I grabbed a couple packages of them ($9.99/3 pack) and the white magnetic board IKEA sells (called the ‘Spontan‘ for $14.99).

I wanted to label the tins, so I got out a roll of adhesive blackboard that I had sitting in our closet (originally purchased for a buck at the dollar store).

I cut the blackboard adhesive into small labels, and wrote the names of each spice with a white gel pen. Then it was just a matter of filling up the jars and sticking them onto the magnetic board. Easy, peasy.

Not only has it freed up some space in our cabinet, but we’ve also been finding that it’s good to have the spices out on display because we use them more that way.

So there is it. What about you guys? Done any kitchen organizing lately? DIYed a spice rack? Speaking of spices, any amazing recipes you’ve tried recently? Do tell. 


the DIY files: a message centre

13th January 2012

Our kitchen (which we haven’t done anything to since we moved in – you can check it out on the home tour here) was starting to get seriously cluttered. We didn’t have any kind of message board or system of organizing cut-outs, coupons or other small papers, so we inevitably ended up with a stack of junk lying on top of the microwave, or lists galore taped up on the fridge. It just wasn’t working. So I figured it would be good to spend a little time creating a little message board area. We decided it would be most useful to have a bulletin board to keep all of those coupons, lists and cut-outs in one spot, and then have a writing board (either chalk or white board) to do our weekly meal planning. So when I spotted a cork board and an old framed whiteboard — both around the same size — at the thrift store for a buck a pop, I snagged em and got to work.

First up was the cork board. The frame was pine, so I gave sprayed it with a high gloss white paint.

I had a scrap bit of fabric leftover from an old project, so I decided to cover the board with it (which would also add a pop of colour and pattern to the pretty boring white wall). Since I wanted the white frame to show, I tucked the fabric under the frame instead of carrying it over to the back, like I did in the jewelry board project a few months ago (see that here). I cut my piece of fabric to size, applied some spray adhesive to the board, lined the fabric up, and then tucked it under the frame. I used a knife to really get the fabric to go smoothly underneath. You want to make sure that there aren’t any wrinkles in the fabric, so you have to pull it pretty tight.

I wanted to make sure the fabric was really going to stay put, so I decided to add in some decorative push pins around the border. I didn’t have a ton of pins (and didn’t want to go out and have to buy any), so I made sure to space them out evenly before pushing them in. Once they were in, here’s how she was looking…

Not too shabby.

Next up was the chalkboard. I got out the frame/whiteboard that I had grabbed and decided to pry off the white plastic part. It was pretty badly dented, which I knew a layer of chalkboard paint wouldn’t cover.

After prying, I was left with the hard backing of the frame (it’s some sort of pressed wood).

And two coats of chalkboard paint later, this puppy was ready for some meal planning. When you are painting a chalkboard, you need to prime it for chalk when you are finished. This means taking a piece of chalk, rubbing the side all along the new board (covering the whole surface), and then wiping down with a damp cloth. Then it’s ready to go!

Here’s how things were looking after hanging them up in our kitchen.


It’s become a super-functional space in our kitchen. Oh and I’ll give you the scoop on those tins in the pic above shortly. Stay tuned!

Psssst — Our giveaway to Easy Canvas Prints closed last night. Congratulations to Joanne (comment #3), who is going to use the free 8×10 canvas for a photo she took along the great ocean road in Australia. Sounds amazing!