DIY Jar Lids
Even though I haven’t finished unpacking our boxes (…oops), I’m looking to add the decorative flourishes that turn a bare-bones room into a lived-in space.
Today, I cozied up our kitchen with a simple DIY craft. These simple jar lids make a kitchen counter pretty and functional.
- mason jars with lids
- rubber cement
- a pencil
- patterned paper (downloaded a free template from lovelydesign)
- Modge Podge
- a foam brush
- Unscrew the mason jar and trace the lid on a piece of paper
- Cut out
- Glue down with rubber cement
- Seal with Modge Podge (if you cut the paper circle a little too big, no worries: just use Modge Podge to smooth the edges down underneath the bottom of the lid)
Easy! I filled these with flour and sugar, but they’d also look great filled with textured grains like lentils or couscous.
Check out my first post for Parents.com to learn how to make these delightful waterless snow globes!
If you’re still trying to scrounge up some inspiration for easy, homemade gift ideas, try a snow globe! They’re pretty fool-proof, and super festive.
Here’s what you need:
- A baby food jar, mason jar, or other glass jar with tightly-sealing lid
- Little figurines
- Water and a drop of dishsoap
Here’s what you do:
- Glue your figurines to the lid of the container. Let dry—allow them to set for at least 30 minutes.
- Add some glitter to the jar. (Not so much that it will obscure your cute little figurines in a blizzard—just enough to give them a dusting.)
- Fill the jar with water (stop about 1 inch from the rim).
- Add a drop of dishsoap.
- Turn the lid upside down and screw onto the container. Twist tightly.
Let It Snow
I love a nice winter craft, and a paper snowflake garland definitely fits the bill! Here’s one method for cutting festive flakes:
- Trace a circle on a piece of paper using a bowl, large candle, or flowerpot.
- Cut out the circle.
- Fold in 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 (you can fold into 1/12 if you want to make an even-more-intricate design)
- Snip shapes like semicircles or triangles (if you want a hole in the center of your flake, chop the bottom point). Unfold to see the pattern you’ve made.
- Loop yarn or twine through a hole in each snowflake, and tie a knot to keep each in place.
- String up anywhere you want to spread some cheer.
Yes We Can
Whether you’re trying to preserve the bounty of your backyard garden or farm share or just starting to squirrel away wintertime snacks, fall is a great time to stuff food in jars.
There are many ways to preserve food, including curing, salting, or smoking meats and cheeses, dehydrating fruits, and pickling veggies. Modern canning was developed in 1795, when Napoleon sponsored a competition to devise a way to prevent military supplies from spoiling. When done correctly, the canning process destroys fungi and prevents mold growth. The little dude’s plan to out-eat the enemy didn’t lead to victory for his troops, but it does enable us to eat pickles today. Vive la France!
Canning might conjure images of perfectly-coiffed 1950s housewives, and there definitely is something quaint and delightfully nostalgic about the practice of “putting up” fresh food. But even if you’re not into prancing around in an apron, there are lots of reasons to can. When you preserve your food yourself, you know exactly what’s in it and where it’s coming from. This means that there are no surprise preservatives or veggies that have spent most of their life trucking across the country. Jars of veggies also make great (and cheap!) homemade gifts. Just dress them up in their holiday finest with some hand-stamped labels and some colorful yarn or twine.
Eugenia Bone eloquently articulates another reason to can in her lovely book Well-Preserved: “The craft of home canning slows down my relationship with food. Preserving is not about immediate satisfaction…It’s about anticipation. And in that sense it’s an act of optimism. Yes, the world will be here in two weeks when my marinated artichokes have finished seasoning. And no, life is not slipping away unacknowledged or un-revered.” There’s a kind of meditation in working with your hands, experimenting within a recipe, and yielding something sustaining.
Ready to give it a try? I was psyched to attend a gratis Greenbridge workshop at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where I learned how to pickle green beans and tomatoes. Similar workshops are held at community gardens throughout the city. Want to go it alone? Check out this yummy dilly bean recipe. Follow the instructions carefully, and be sure to maintain the rolling boil—this ensures that the water has heated up enough to kill pesky bacteria that can cause dangerous (and unappetizing) botulism. These delicious pickled green beans can sit on your shelf for months to soak up the flavors of the garlic and dill—just hide them from impatient snackers.
DIY Wall Art
A few years ago, the now-defunct Blueprint Magazine, the whimsical, accessible home-decor arm of the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia franchise, published a story about creative ways to show off your young child’s artwork. The editors suggested tacking up some protective sheets—the kind you insert into binders—to safeguard each finger painting or sketch and make it easy to perform a quick switcheroo. It made so much sense to me. Kids constantly return home from school toting new masterpieces. It’s pretty adorable to take a walk down memory lane and revisit kids’ projects through the years (case in point: the proto-Cubist ceramic face I made in 2nd grade, complete with misshapen eyes and awkwardly small ears). But it would probably be preferable to be able to complement these retro works with some made after a kid gains enough manual dexterity to actually complete a drawing without accidentally stabbing herself in the palm with a sharpened pencil (and I’ve got the scar to prove it). Even major museums rotate works of art on gallery walls to show off the depth and breadth of their world-class collections. Showing off a kid’s art work throughout the years is sort of akin to ticking off their height on a wall: it’s a record of their growth.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to adapt this art hanging idea to my own life. In some ways, being a twenty-something trying to decorate her own apartment presents similar difficulties. On one hand, there’s an impulse to nest, to settle in, to personalize a space so that it feels like home—a haven, or a safe, soft place to land after a crazy day that’s left you feeling utterly untethered. A part of me wants permanence. On the other hand, I know that there are many changes up ahead: new jobs, new favorite artists, and probably, new apartments. I don’t want to put a ton of holes in my wall when I’m not sure how long this wall will be mine. This part of me wants to be able to pack up and move on to bigger and better.
I think I’ve found a solution. I took the basic Blueprint idea—easily-changeable wall art—and interpreted it to fit my aesthetic. I strung some yarn between two nails and used clothespins to hang photos, crafts, and pressed leaves. This is also a great way to display prints, dried flowers, or beautiful pages from books. It’s easy to change the size and number of objects at any time, without having to contend with a wall that looks like Swiss cheese. Whether getting taller and better at art or just older (and hopefully wiser), this art-hanging strategy makes change easy and welcome.
Love rummaging through the booths at the Brooklyn Flea? It’s a great place to scout for handmade goodies or score some affordable vintage finds. The Flea is also an awesome spot to find ideas for your own projects!
I’m very excited to be the Flea’s newest blogger. Please check out my bi-weekly posts about cool crafts. Feeling crafty? Visit the Flea and let me know which vendors’ work inspires you. Maybe I will feature them in an upcoming post!
DIY Planter Pick-Me-Ups
There are tons of ways for frugal plant fanatics to get crafty on the cheap. These easy DIY projects will take basic terracotta pots up a notch.
Add a cute pop of color to a clay-colored pot with a swath of bright paint. I scored a tube of this weatherproof periwinkle shade at Pearl Paint. Line the base of the planter’s rim with masking tape and dab on two fast-drying coats with a sponge brush. To keep the paint from dripping, wait a few hours before potting or watering.
Vintage containers like this old-school creamer can also be repurposed as plant homes. Check out thrift shops for colorful steals. Grow the plant in a tiny terracotta pot and nest it inside of the cool container. This will give the plant room to drain post-watering, and help prevent root rot.
Bookish plant geeks can channel grade school days with chalkboard paint planter labels. Download a stencil from this DesignSponge feature, or get creative with a pair of scissors and make your own pattern. Grab some chalk and doodle the name of whatever you’re growing, or scrawl a sweet message and tote the planter as a homemade hostess or housewarming gift.
Whiling away a lazy afternoon with some craft projects: playing with the letterpress letters I scored at the Flea last weekend and pressing some flowers.