Author Archives: jane

Punched Tin Christmas Tree Ornaments: An Easy To Make Children’s Craft

These vintage inspired punched “tin” ornaments are so easy to make. I’ve been meaning to post this project for ages. I love history and learning about how people lived. Isn’t it inspiring how resourceful and creative people can be. The early Americans were no exception, because glass was so expensive and not very durable, tin was used to make lanterns. Because tin wasn’t transparent like glass, holes were punched in the sides to allow the candle to shine through producing a beautiful display of spotted light. Often times elaborate patterns were made. These lanterns were my inspiration for this project. Although not necessarily tin, these metal tops make perfect sized ornaments. Furthermore, the edges are already smooth.

I hope you spend some quality time with the kids making attractive Christmas tree ornaments using salvaged materials.

These ornaments and many more were done free hand. My girls sure liked making them.

You will need a small hammer, a selection of nails, and a board or other hard surface to work on.

You will also need “tin” tops and ribbon or thread.

To make:

1. Collect the tops and bottoms of cylindrical packaging from chips, crescent rolls, biscuits, dinner rolls, etc…

2. Get a pattern or draw your own on paper (or use no pattern at all). When I make some patterns, I’ll post them here.

3. Hold or tape in place the pattern you are using. The pattern should be centered on your “tin” top.

4. Use a hammer and nail to make holes. Make sure you have a board (or an old cutting board) underneath so as not to ruin your table. Use a workbench if you have one.

5. Add an extra hole in the top for stringing a ribbon or cord through to hang on tree.

Another Spadefoot Toad in MD! Alive and Well

Yesterday my husband found me this live Eastern spadefoot toad in our yard while doing some digging. He remembered my recent post about the dead one I found and knowing I’d be excited, he saved it for me to see. It makes me wonder how many times I’ve come across a toad like this. At first glance, it looks similar to the common American toad. But if you look closer you will see that they look very different. For example, a spadefoot doesn’t have the glands (large bumps) on its head that an American toad has.

A toad that spends most of its time underground is hard to find. Are any of you Marylanders finding this toad?

I love its eyes: amazing!

So cool: I now have live Eastern spadefoot toad pictures to share!

We let it go of course, after this photo shoot.

Time To Install Storm Windows In The Chicken House

Here is a picture of our henhouse which was built almost entirely of salvaged materials.

In the fall before it gets really cold, I like to start winterizing my chicken houses. I cover screen windows with “storm windows”. I get out of storage the pieces of Plexiglas that I made a few years ago for that purpose.

Each window is custom fitted with a “storm window”. Therefore, to make it easier to install, I used a permanent marker to write the location of the window that it fit over.

How to tips: Measure and cut out pieces of scrap Plexiglas. I used a box cutter and a metal ruler to score the lines. Then I snapped it over the edge of a work bench. This primitive technique works well enough for chicken house window covers.

To attach the Plexiglas, pre-drill holes making sure that your exterior grade screws can freely fit through. Plexiglas will start to crack if the drill hole isn’t big enough. (See crack at the top of the window in picture.)Use the kind of washers that are rubbery. That way you can get a snug fit without stressing the fiberglass.

In the spring, I remove these window coverings.

More on winterizing our henhouse in another post.

Eastern Spadefoot Found

Dead toad picture; how appropriate for Halloween!

I found this dead toad on the road near my house in Southern Maryland. I’d never seen a toad like it before so I did what any weird, I mean curious, person would have done. I took a picture and did some research. Notice the strange claw thing on its foot. These toads dig in the ground.

Follow the link below to see pictures of a live toad, to hear its call and to learn more.

Simple Doll Beds Made From Clementine Boxes

It is easy to transform a Clementine box into a charming doll bed. I’ve made two bed styles here to inspire you to get to work.

Lightly sand then paint the Clementine box inside and out. You may need more than one coat.

Sew a mattress and pillow. Use scrap fabric or old sheets.

Find a cloth napkin to use as a blanket.


The braided rug in the picture above was made from braided sheets by one of my talented students.

Bed 1 (with headboard)

Turn the box upside down. Use foam board or whatever scraps you have on hand. I used foam board because I have a friend who frames pictures for people and therefore has lots of foam board scraps that would otherwise just get tossed out. Check your local frame shop. I cut a piece of foam board with an exacto knife and attached it for the headboard. Be creative here. Round the corners if you like and make a fabric covered padded headboard.

Bed 2 (with fancy bed posts)

Make a cradle-like bed by adding finials to the bed posts. I got these beads second-hand. If you are using beads, fill the hole with wood putty and let dry before painting. Glue in place.

Home-made gifts are really nice in my opinion.  You probably know some little girl who would love a sweet little doll bed.

Older little girls would enjoy making their own doll beds. They could pick their own colors, paint it themselves, and even sew the mattresses and pillow. In this way they will learn basic sewing techniques and improve their skills. They will have just as much fun making it as playing with it.