Sunday, January 27, 2013

Recycle your old Christmas cards

Collection of six years Christmas cards
It is the end of January and high time already to take away from the shelves all the Christmas cards from last year. 

But what to do it them? 

Hmm....if you are a sentimental pack-rat, like myself :) you can collect those cards, put them in a box and occasionally have a look at them remembering the years back.... 

... or you can throw them away ( I am not even going to comment on the horror that option brings me-  :)))))

... or you can give new life to those cards, which is a nice compromise and a fun project to do. 

So in this post I will offer you three ideas how to give new life to your last year's Christmas cards. 

Or I will show you how to make: 

Reuse your old Christmas cards

1. Paper ball

2. Paper heart 

3. Paper Wreath

These are very easy to complete projects. It took me around half an hour for each one of them with the cutting of the cards, which I am  not a very big fan of. 

Cutting the cards into pieces

As I mentioned before, these are very easy projects and the hardest thing to do for me actually, was selecting the cards I needed to destroy. As I could not make that choice, so I simply used cards I've bought few years back, before I discovered my passion for paper-crafting, but have never sent them to anyone. 

So, simply pick up few cards and cut them into straight lines along the length. I used my paper cutter for that purpose- easier, faster, less headache and always straight lines.  If you don't have one, no worries, a ruler and a pencil will supply you with directions for the necessary result and if you have steady hands, which I don't (so I have a paper cutter :) ), then you are all set. Once cut, then choose theme and color compatible pieces to achieve a nicer effect. 

Generally one card is enough for making the ball and the heart, but the wreath took almost two large ones.
And here they are, the instruction by a project: 

Project number one: Paper Ball 

Paper ball as a Christmas tree decoration

Needed materials: 

12 - 13 pieces of an old Christmas card cut into 10 cm x 1 cm 
Fast drying glue
a ribbon for a hanger
optionally - additional decoration (I used a button)

I will suggest you to use fast drying glue, because you really do not want to hold the peaces together for more than a minute or two. The additional decoration is optional, I just thought that this button looks nice there. I tried to document all the instructions with step by step pictures, so I hope you will find it easy to follow.

Steps to make a paper ball from last year's Christmas cards

Project number two:  Paper Heart

Paper Heart

Needed materials: 

Old Christmas cards cut into: 
  two times 20 cm x 1,5 cm - for the stem
  two times 10 cm x 1,5 cm - heart fold number one (the smallest)
  two times 15 cm c 1,5 cm - heart fold number two (middle)
  two times 20 cm x 1,5 cm - heart fold number three (the biggest)

I tried documenting the steps again, but when putting the instructions together, I notices I have failed to document all steps. 

However, if you follow the steps in the picture, it's very easy to make the hearts. I made the stem of the decoration two sided, so it will be nice to be seen from both sides, but when I was done with the hearts, I thought that it could be nice to have the hearts two sided too. On the other hand, my cards were empty, and when you use really mailed Christmas cards, there will be handwriting or post stamps left overs in the inner side, which is nice too. 

One advice, I would give is not to cut the pieces too short as cards are usually made of thicker paper or card board and small pieces are hard to bent in circular shapes. That is why 10 cm length was the smallest I could use. 

Making a paper hearts Christmas tree decoration 

And here it is....

Project number three: Paper Wreath 

Paper Wreath
Needed materials: 

Two old Christmas cards cut into: 
  18 pieces cut into 10 cm x 1 cm - level one of the wreath
  18 pieces cut into 10 cm 0,5 cm  - level two of the wreath
  12 pieces cut into 2 cm x 0,5 cm - for the center of the wreath
cardboard template cut into wreath shape - or a doughnut shape 

Steps of making a paper wreath from old Christmas cards 

Follow the instructions in the image to achieve the desired result. The third level of the wreath (with the small pieces) is not necessary but it gives a great finishing touch. You can achieve that gluing a ribbon, or buttons or anything else theme suitable as well. 

Well, this is it this time. Rather long, but I hope inspirational for you post. And remember you can use these instructions for any other seasonal or non-seasonal projects you have. I just thought that these three items make wonderful Christmas tree decoration and this way all the nicest wishes your friend put into sending these cards to you will still be there with you every Christmas. 

Good Luck! 

New life for your old Christmas cards

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Easy decoration for a frame

In this post, I would like to show you a very easy way to decorate and personalize a frame.

I like experimenting with new techniques and this is what came up when I decided to combine acrylic paint, a rubber stamp and a frame. This project was a part of the 'Thank you' gift for my yoga teacher, with which I started my blogging experience. If you are curious to read, simply scroll down and you will see it - post Number One

I wanted to have similar elements at the picture frame and the card, that is why I used the same rubber stamp and white acrylic paint.
Similar patterns
Although, the rubber stamp contained detailed instructions with what brand of ink I SHOULD be using it, I did not follow the instructions. I am not a big fan of branding instructions and with experience in marketing, I really really know what's the catch all about. So, I tried my own technique. And it did work! 

But, please do not accept that as an anti-branding propaganda, I just think that sometimes it's nice to try something else or new, though I need to admit, I have ruined projects by not following the instructions. Ops! (an ashamed face emoticon would be an appropriate one right now :) ). 

Well, well, anyway - this project succeeded nicely and was very easy to make. And it is wonderful! It just brings such a nice personal detail to a frame. 

So, needed materials:

Needed materials for decorating a frame

an wooden frame
rubber stamp
white acrylic paint
a brush to lay the paint on

Why acrylic paint?

Well, due to its properties, acrylic paint dries fast and you can achieve a nice relief of the service. Usually acrylic paint does not washes away easily with water, so it is perfect for purposes like this one.

Applying paint on the rubber stamp

Apply the paint over the rubber stamp, making sure that there is not excessive amount of paint on the stamp. Too much paint will smudge the image, too little will make it look pale. I would recommend you to try stamping few times on a separate piece of paper beforehand, so you can get a grip of the amount of paint you need to use.    

Applying pressure

Once you have mastered the technique, just bravely stamp over the frame. Apply pressure and wait for 15-20 secs before you separate the stamp from the frame. Leave the paint to dry as much as it needs - that usually depends on the amount of paint you have applied. If you are in a hurry, you can help the drying process with a hairdryer, but do not use it for cards. And I would really recommend to leave a day until you can use the frame for the necessary purpose. 

And this is it! You are ready! 

The frame ready for adding a painting

Add your picture, painting, photo, fabric, whatever you like.... For my yoga teacher, I also painted this picture of flowers. I used to like painting when I was a child, and decided to reconnect with that hobby of mine. 

Easy and lovely hand decorated picture frame
Easy and lovely hand decorated picture frame
It's easy and the result is wonderful! 

P.S. I made the explanatory images with another wooden frame, as you probably see, but today when I wanted to up-date the blog, I realized that I haven't taken these pictures, when I decorating the frame. And the frame is already with my yoga teacher. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

No sugar and no flour 100 % oatmeal home-made cookies

Strange title for a post in a crafts blog, isn't it? Well, you are correct :), but as you have noticed I left a tab for the so called 'Kitchen crafts', in which I could also include my kitchen crafts ideas as for example the curtains in our kitchen, which I made myself,  but this post will include some recipes, which I love making and happily share with everyone. 

Although, this is not culinary blog, along with crafting I do enjoy cooking as well and most of all I love baking. 

100 % oatmeal no sugar cookies
I bake cookies, cakes, muffins, strudels, biscuits (both in the American and British meaning of the word), focaccia, scones, breads, pies, quiches, tarts, tartalets, eclairs, etc.... ,everything that has to do with dough, and you need to begin from scratch. And I love it! A baking challenge? I am in, and although it may take few attempts till it looks and tastes right, I don't give up.

It could be a hereditary skill. My favorite grandmother is a great baker. I still keep in my memories the smell of freshly baked bread served for dinner or the view of the ready home-made filo dough, which we were not allowed to touch, so we would't damage the tender surface.

So, occasionally I will add here some of my favorite baking recipes and I hope they will inspire you too.

Choice number one has been rather humble as the title suggest. I am giving you my favorite recipe for no sugar no flour 100 % oatmeal home-made cookies.

But how did I come up with that recipe? A friend of mine visited me when I was in my ninth month pregnancy and brought freshly baked wonderful banana bread. I can't describe the smell and the taste of that bread :) but I can describe my disappointment as I could't have any of it - with the nine month big belly, I really had to avoid flour and sugar. So then I decided to make my own version of the banana bread. The result was this recipe.

No sugar and no flour 100 % oatmeal home-made cookies 

(makes around 14 pieces, 55 ccal/per one)

No sugar no flour cookies

The ingredients are literary what you see on the image above :).

2 eggs
150 gr. oatmeal
5 tb.s. plain yogurt
1 banana (or 1/2 banana + 1/2 red delicious apple)
30 gr. raisins

20gr. linen seed

Mix the eggs together. Cut the banana (apple) into big chunks. Add all the ingredients together while mixing with a fork. Wait for a bit till the oatmeal soaks the yogurt and eggs. The consistency of the mixture can be seen in the picture under.

Consistency of the dough

Once ready, spoon the mixture onto baking paper and shape into cookies as much you can achieve such form :). Try to add at least one visible banana piece and couple of raisins per cookie.

Optionally, decorate with sesame seed.

Bake in pre-heated oven on 175 C, for about 15-20 minutes. Do not wait for the cookies to turn into golden brown, then it's too late and they become too dry.

Serving suggestions: as they are or with coffee, tea, or I like having them with my dried plums no sugar jam (dried plums softened for for 5 minutes in boiling water and when chilled mixed-in with a hand blender), but I strongly recommend you to try them as they are first. You will be surprised how sweet they are without any sugar added.

No sugar no flour 100 % oatmeal cookies

These cookies are simply your oatmeal porridge morning breakfast, but just in a different shape :). Rich on fiber, and with natural sweetness from the fruits they are perfect for your morning coffee break or afternoon tea time. If you wish to lower the calories, you can substitute the banana with an apple, the raisins with dried plums cut into pieces and use low fat yogurt. 

Bon App├ętit!