Tag Archives: DIY

Simple DIY Winter Hostess Gifts

Valley and Co. Lifestyle DIY ornamentImage via Valley and Co. DIY Lifestyle

It’s always nice to bring a little thank you when a friend or acquaintance goes to the trouble of having guests over for a nice meal.  Here are some simple DIY hostess gift ideas, many of which you can make up now in bulk so that you always have something on hand to give.

Hot Chocolate

homemade gift of peppermint hot chocolateImages via My Recipes

Mix up some fancy cocoa packages to give away, including little extras like mini marshmallows, peppermint sticks, vanilla sugar and mini chocolate chips.  I’ve seen this packaged all sorts of interesting ways: layered in a mason jar like above; with each ingredient in little test tubes; in cellophane cones.

Hot chocolate on a stick, with homemade marshmallow!

Image via Make and Take

If you’re feeling a tad more adventurous, try this hot chocolate on a stick recipe from Make and Take.  This combines homemade marshmallows and chocolate blocks on popsicle sticks that are swirled and melted into warmed milk.  Mmmmmm….


vintage asian tea canistersImage via Bijou Kaleidoscope

A simple selection of individually wrapped teas together with a little jar of honey and other garnishes like lemons, cinnamon sticks, ginger root make a wonderful gift this time of year.  Bonus points if you package the tea in a vintage tea canister or other decorative box.

Scented Sugars

homemade vanilla sugarImage via Hip Hostess

trio of scented sugarsImage via Kitchen Samurai

Scented sugars make a wonderful gift and are perfect in a morning tea, bowl of porridge, or atop fresh fruit.  And they couldn’t be easier to make.  Pick up, or re-use some glass jars with tightly fitted lids, add granulated sugar and an aromatic such as halved vanilla pods, mint leaves, lemon and orange peels, or rose petals.  Let the jars of sugar sit in its closed jar for about one week and ta-dah: A uniquely sweet gift! How awesome too that this gift is shelf stable, beautiful to present and inexpensive to make.

Holiday Ornaments

Got kids or visiting grandkids looking for a fun sparkle mess of a craft, because this one is perfect.  Pick up some simple glass baubles (or a less breakable material like Styrofoam balls if little ones are involved) and create a masterpiece for your host’s tree.

DIY glittle baubleImage via Shelterness

Simply coat the bauble with a glue stick and dip/sprinkle with sparkles.  For a snowball look, coat in Epsom salts.  It’s really simple and fun if you’re a crafter.

snowball ornament made with epsom saltsImage via My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

homemade glitter ornamentImage via Ideas Home Concept


knit washclothsImage via PurlBee

If knitting is your thing (it’s mine!), these charming washcloths by Whit’s Knits are made from a soft machine-wash cotton.  The “log cabin” design makes for a visually interesting colour blocked look that are sure to be soft yet durable.  For the full tutorial with loads of pics, just visit Purl Bee.

Hope you find time to relax and enjoy as the holiday season starts ramping up!

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A Homemade Halloween

Alice in Wonderland homemade costumeDIY Alice in Wonderland via Misha Lulu

5 MORE DAYS!!!!!

Is my enthusiasm coming through? That’s five more days until little ones will be hitting the streets looking for candy and big revellers will be heading to parties and bars looking for grownup fun. I think I’ve already mentioned that Halloween is a big deal in our house. With a little kid around it’s hard not to get caught up in all the spooky excitement.

Some of my favourite childhood memories of Halloween are of the weeks and days leading up to the big event, when my mom and later myself would be putting the finishing touches on my homemade costume. It was so amazing watching the vision I had for what I was going to dress up as come into being. Nothing beats a homemade costume if you ask me. If you’re debating making your own costume for yourself or your family there’s still time, and if you need a bit of inspiration here are some of the best DIY costumes on the web for little and not-so-little trick or treater’s.

DIY owl costumeDIY owl costume by Designing Moms

The owl trend is getting a little overdone but I have to admit I still find those big-eyed birds immensely charming. This is one of my favourite owl costumes I have seen. The combination of fabric feathers and that adorable capelet make it couture worthy.

homemade beekeeper's costumeBeekeeper Costume via Martha Stewart

Costumes for grownups are harder to come up with than ones for kids. I find Martha Stewart manages to come up with creative costume ideas for adults every year and this beekeeper is a great example of what can be accomplished with a few simple materials.

Golidlocks and the 3 bears family costume, handmadeGoldilocks and the Three Bears via A Beautiful Mess

I’ve noticed a number of fairytale and storybook themed costumes popping up online this year. This family’s re-creation of Goldilocks and the three bears is a fun take on the children’s story. It’s more Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mister Fox than Disney, which makes it a bit more charming in my opinion.

painted skeleton costumePainted Skeleton Costume via lookbook

A skeleton is a classic halloween costume that can be done in so many different ways. I love the illusion created by painting on top of a black slim fitting suit. Very Jack Skellington and edgy. If you don’t have confidence in your painting skills I’m sure there are templates you can find online that would create a similar effect.

Bloody Mary Makeup

Sometimes all a simple DIY costume needs to make it become a wower is the right makeup. There are tons of makeup tutorials on youtube for the gruesome and not-so-bloody look you are going for. I am impressed by this “Bloody Mary” makeup job, and all you need for the rest of your costume is an old fashioned dress and some white body paint.

DIY Vincent Van Gogh costumesvia oh happy day

I’m going to file this one under “costumes I will never force any child of mine to wear, but man are they awesome”. Right along with this one (David Bowie in Labyrinth). Who knows, maybe you know a pint size fine-art lover who would be happy to dress up as Vincent Van Gogh.

School Photo CostumeSchool Photo Costume via A Cup of Jo

This costume idea is sure to get a few laughs if you’re going to a Halloween Party. So easy to do, just attach a cheesy cardboard background to your back and put on the nerdiest clothes you can find. Her oversized glasses and nerdy smile really seal the deal.

felt masks, no sew!No Sew Animal Masks via Prudent Baby

Even if you can’t sew you can still whip up a homemade costume before the big night. This template from Prudent Baby will allow you to make a number of different creature masks with only felt, glue and a few simple trimmings. Pair with an appropriately coloured hoodie and attach a tail, tentacles or whatever you need with safety pins to the seat of your kids pants. Voila, instant cute costume!

Happy Friday Everyone!

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Getting Hooked on Amigurumi

crochet hook amigurumiAmigurumi Crochet Hook via Nerdigurumi

Amigurumi is the Japanese craft of making animals and anthropomorphic objects out of crochet. The sculptural capabilities of crochet has drawn many artists to the medium. Today we’ll be looking at some traditional crocheted creations and a few examples of artists who have used crochet and amigurumi to create tactile and sometimes subversive works of art.

adorable mamma and baby amigurumi via tournicote... a cloche piedimage via Tournicote….a cloche pied

Cuteness is one of the most prevalent attributes of amigurumi, and there is certainly plenty of it to spare in this doll duo. Although amigurumi originated in Japan it has spread all over the world; these dolls were made by French doll and crochet artist Lisenn Cabane.

collection of crocheted pearscrochet pears pattern via salihan

Food is a common subject for amigurumi, people have stitched everything from sushi to happy meals. These pears would be an easy first project for anyone starting amigurumi, and I love how much charm they have with their broad smiles.

Amigurumi Toy DesignAmigurumi Toy Design by Chity Soy Yo

Chity Soy Yo is an amigurumi designer who creates friendly-looking toy sculptures that look like they would be perfectly at home in a Studio Ghibli film. I find it amazing how such simple shapes can have so much personality with the right facial expressions and details.

Nathan Vincent's amigurumi taxidermiNathan Vincent

Combining taxidermy and amigurumi, Nathan Vincent creates textile sculptures that are touchable, but also slightly unsettling. Along with these amazing animals, Vincent has also fashioned gas masks, guns and lawnmowers using stitchery, all of which can be seen on his site.

boobs and dinks by Shannon Gerrardboobs and dinks exhibition by Shannon Gerrard

Toronto artist and craftster Shannon Gerrard created these anatomical crochet sculptures as teaching aids to promote early detection of cancer; inside these miniature body parts are small ‘lumps’ that can be found through careful checking.

sculpture by Shawna RichardsonSculpture by Shauna Richardson via Juxtapoz

You are looking at the world’s largest crochet sculpture, made by Shauna Richardson. This lion is one of three that she made out of a mountain of wool for her project Lionheart. You can find out more about Richardson and her work here.

Once you’ve mastered a few crochet stitches you can create anything your imagination can dream up. All you need is a couple crochet hooks, yarn and some stuffing. Two great tutorials I’ve found for creating basic amigurumi shapes can be found here and here. There are places online where you can find free patterns but some of the best patterns can be found in Japanese craft books.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Posted in Culture, Design | Tagged , ,

Scrub-a-Dub: DIY Body Scrub

Spa scrub treatment

Image via Saffron Las Vegas

I love that glowing, tingling feeling I get after some me time in those havens of hedonism also known as day spas? It’s addictive bliss, I tell you. But it’s pricey bliss — which is probably what prevents me from indulging in a massage or body scrub treatment everyday.

There are actually not a lot of things that would stop me or you from getting some of that gorgeous pampering at home. Of course it’s not quite the same level of decadence as getting it in your favorite haven of hedonism, but it should tide you over until your next spa splurge. I’m all for the DIY spa experience, whether it’s creating a spa-like ambiance, learning about massage, or — as I’ll discuss today — making your own body scrubs out of pantry items.

Bali Spa Scrub Components. Via Alam Jimbaran.

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. All it took was a bout of serious scrub craving, some research, and an inventory of the kitchen, and boom! — homemade scrubs! They’re all just combination of three elements:

1. A gently abrasive exfoliating element. This will provide the scrubbing action, such as salt or sugar. This is what will slough of the dead skin cells and boost circulation, which are what create that tingly afterglow. Look around the kitchen and see the possibilities in the things you find there. Test some on the back of your hand to check if it’s not too rough.

Here are some suggested ingredients:

  • Sugar. White sugar will do, but brown sugar has an awesome, subtle fragrance to boot, plus some additional nutrients.
  • Salt. This has the added benefit of being a natural antiseptic and detoxifier, so it kills germs and draws out impurities from your skin.
  • Coffee grounds. Coffee is an antioxidant and the skin can absorb some of that magic. I also hear that the caffeine does other wonders too, like increases blood flow, improve skin texture and minimize the appearance of cellulite.
  • Oatmeal. This one is very gentle and is great for sensitive skin.
  • Ground rice or beans
  • Ground nuts. This seems like such a waste – I would rather use the almonds and walnuts for actual eating. But if nuts are cheap and plentiful where you are, then go for it.

Brown sugar makes a good scrub. Image via Rent the Runway on Campus.

2. A moisturizing element. This provides nourishment for the skin and aids in keeping it soft and supple. Look for liquids or soft, creamy items.

  • Olive oil. A lot of skin care products use olive oil as their main ingredient. It has vitamin E which is a wonderful antioxidant. You don’t need to add too much, a couple of tablespoons to every cup of exfoliant will do the trick.
  • Coconut Oil. This one’s another one of those wonder oils which have tons of nourishing and healing properties.
  • Avocado. It’s a creamy, buttery fruit, and rich it all sorts of nutrients. So if you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself by not using it in a salad or some other dish, feel free to throw it in your scrub mix.
  • Honey. This gives you very light moisturization. This is perfect if you want to avoid feeling too greasy.
  • Milk. This is said to be Cleopatra’s beauty secret — she bathed in it. Charlize Theron as Snow White’s evil stepmother did it too in this scene from Snow White and the Huntsman. The only downside to using milk is that it doesn’t keep, so any scrub you make with it will have to be good for a single use only.

3. Scent. Olfactory pleasure is a key element in the spa experience. This may be unnecessary if your scrub or moisture elements, such as the coffee or honey, already have great fragrances. It is also said that certain scents evoke certain moods — lavender, for example, relaxes you and contributes to a good night’s rest. You can use essential oils to add this element to your scrub, but I like to stick to the readily available, garden (or kitchen) variety scents.

  • Cocoa. Who doesn’t love chocolate? A teeny pinch goes a long way in releasing those feel-good endorphins into your system.
  • Citrus zests. Your skin would thank you too for the Vitamin C, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
  • Herbs. If you’ve got rosemary, lavender, or lemongrass growing in your garden, add them to your scrub.
  • Spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves — raid your spice rack! These would add a dash of the heady and exotic.

Image via Occupy Monsanto

So here’s the basic equation again:
Body scrub = gentle abrasive + moisturizer + scent.

Mix or shake together in a jar. If your using oils, you’re looking for a clumpy, semi-moist. If using any other moisturizer, then it can be more saturated. It’s not rocket science. Winging it is the way to go. It’s all about finding what feels good for you. Just combine 1 or 2 ingredients from each category, put them in a jar, and keep in the bathroom for lovely after-shower body treats. Needless to say, if you’re allergic to any of these foods, then don’t use them as scrub ingredients.

Here are some yummy scrub ideas.

Orange dreamsicle sugar scrub. Via In Between Laundry.

Lemon Sugar Body Scrub. Via The Sweetest Occasion.

Lavander and Coffee Scrub. Via Flickr user Marju Randmer.

Body scrub made with salt, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and olive oil. Via Farmers Market Online.

Spiced Chai Sugar Scrub. Via In Between Laundry.

Posted in Kitchen & Bath | Tagged , ,

How to Frame Art and Photographs

It’s How-To Wednesday!

Collection of Framed Artimage via skonahem

Today we’ll be learning some basics about framing art and photographs. Getting artwork professionally framed can be expensive and learning how to do it yourself is a handy skill for anyone interested in interior design and decorating. Of course, if it’s an original painting that needs to be framed or if you’re dealing with a large or awkward project it’s best to leave it to the pros, but for smaller everyday jobs you only need a few tools and materials to get your art and photos on your walls in no time. Let’s get started.

Via Art.com framed Woman Playing a PoppinWoman Playing a Poppin by Michael Kriggan via art.com

Choosing a Frame

Which frame you choose will largely depend on the image you are framing. The frame should complement the artwork, not compete with it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stick with a simple frame; an ornate frame can show off the right piece of art beautifully. Probably the best tip is not to pick a frame that is too small for the image. The image should have some breathing room.

via etsy.com antique framesimage via etsy

A Word on Vintage or Antique Frames

I love the look of antique frames, but here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing an older frame. Pay attention to how the frame is assembled, some frames are easier to get apart than others. If there is already a picture inside you don’t want to ruin the frame trying to remove it.  Look carefully to make sure the glass doesn’t have scratches. Bring the frame into a bright light so you can see small imperfections that you may have otherwise overlooked.

Map Picture Frame via Martha Stewart WeddingsMap Picture Frame via Martha Stewart Weddings


A mat is a piece of board that surrounds the image. It can give your framed artwork or photo a more professional appearance. Although matboard comes in a range of colours, white and cream are most often used because they allow the images to stand out best. If you decide you like another colour or pattern better feel free to use it. Matbard comes in a range of thicknesses, 2-ply, 4-ply and 8-ply, and you can choose to double mat or even triple mat.

Even if you’re not purchasing a frame most framers will cut a custom mat for you, and sometimes they will even have scrap pieces of matboard that you can get for free if you ask. Generally the rule of thumb for mats is that it should create a border that is equal on all sides, or weighted slightly heavier on the on the bottom side. How much space there is between the image and the frame is largely a matter of preference, but again, I would warn against going too small.

Cutting a Mat via Oh Happy DayCutting a Mat image via Oh Happy Day

Basic Framing 101


linen tape (you don’t want to damage the original so you need something that can easily be removed and won’t stain. Your local art supply store should have tape that is suitable.)

framing wire (you can get this at most hardware stores)

glass, if you’re frame doesn’t come with any (you can get glass custom cut at most hardware and framing stores)

eye screws for attaching hanging wire if you’re frame doesn’t have them

Soft cloth and glass cleaning solution

Small finishing nails and hammer if your frame doesn’t have fasteners to keep it together

optional: mat cutter (mat cutters are expensive and require some practice and finesse but if you plan on doing a lot of framing it may be a worthwhile investment.)

via Seesaw Designs United Measures FrameUnited Measures Frame via Seesaw Design

Putting it all together

1. Disassemble the frame. You should have a frame, backing board, mat board and glass. it’s best to do this on a towel or another piece of soft fabric so nothing gets scratched.

2. Clean glass and make sure everything is free of dust and debris. Put glass inside frame.

3. using linen tape attach the image to the back of the matboard.  This may take a few tries but you want to make sure the image is even within the mat and not crooked.

4. Carefully place the mat, image and backing board into the frame. Before completing the assembly turn the frame over and have a look to make sure the image is where you want it to be and there is nothing trapped between the glass and mat.

5. Secure the glass, mat, image and board with the frame’s built-in fasteners, or with small finishing nails.

6. Attach hanging wire using eye screws.

7. Hang!

Framed Collection on display via Isabel Pires De Lima

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