Author Archives: jane

Empty Boxes Make Great Building Blocks For Kid Fort Building

My daughter couldn’t wait to build herself this hide-away stocked with books, pillows and a flashlight. She even constructed a roof out of flattened boxes.

This photo shows part of a multi-room playhouse.

Give a kid a pile of boxes and he or she will be busy for hours and it doesn’t cost anything.
Such play allows children the opportunity to be engineers, architects, and builders. Boxes stack up to become walls, holes left become windows (or peep holes)… I love seeing all the creative ideas they come up with, such as strings that pull the door closed from the inside and then lock, built-in kitchen cabinets, box tables, and so much more… Today they may choose to build a multi-room palace and tomorrow a cozy reading nook fort. The possibilities are endless.

Are you expecting kids over for the holidays and don’t have any toys or you have toys but want something different to do? If so, introduce them to box blocks.

How to:

Collect the boxes prior to their arrival. Have a few things on hand like scissors and markers. There is nothing more to it!

Store the boxes stacked against the wall in an unused corner or in the garage.
Reuse or recycle boxes when done playing with them.

How To String A Better Clothes Line: Don’t Let Your Cloths Get Rained On


Using a clothes line can save you a lot on energy bills. Better than that, using the sun to dry your clothes doesn’t produce any pollution.

We’ve come up with a clothes line situation that works well for us. First off it is close by: right out my door. Second, it is located under an overhang of the roof so my cloths never get re-wet by an unexpected rain. Third, it is located out on the side of my house so it is not in immediate view of visitors.

A carport might also be a good location for a clothes line if there is plenty of air circulation.

How to:
A. Screw an eyehook(s) into the wall: one for each line you intend to string. Remember to place the clothes lines high enough so you can walk under them without hitting your head.

B. Use a carabiner because it has one side that has a spring-hinge (that opens) making it easy to take down and re-hang the clothes line. (optional)

C. Tie a clothes line to the carabiner.

D. Attach an eyehook to the opposite wall at the same height and matching location on the wall. Lace the clothes line through.

E. Pull the line tight and tie off the clothes line(s) on a cleat.

*All supplies can be found at your local hardware store. Pick out hardware that will be resistant to rust.

Wooden Garage Door Transformed Into Small Greenhouse

I built this small greenhouse out of a salvaged wooden garage door some years ago. I used the existing windows on the door for the front and the top of this box: there is no bottom. Since then, I can really extend my growing season. It warms up nicely inside but when the temperature really starts to drop outside it helps to insulate around the pots with leaves or straw.
How to:
Since the garage doors are made already in strips approximately 20 inches wide, making this box is fairly easy. Take the door apart and cut three 54 inch long sections: top, front, and back. The front and the top of the box should be made from the part of the door with windows and the back without. Also, cut two more pieces 18.5 inches wide and 22 inches tall: the sides. I can’t remember why now but I put two strips along the bottom front and along the back top (see arrows) making a combined height of 22 inches.
Screw the four sides of the box together with exterior wood screws. Next place the top on but do not attach: this design doesn’t use hinges. Use a stick to let out excess heat when needed. The box opens completely for planting and harvesting. Paint or stain the whole thing inside and out. I topped my box with a piece of Plexiglas. This gives an added layer of insulation. To attach the Plexiglas to your top, pre-drill holes in it first making sure that your exterior grade wood screws can freely fit through. I learned the hard way that the fiberglass will start to crack if the drill hole isn’t big enough.
A good place to keep your small greenhouse is up against your house. It will be slightly warmer here. Pick a spot that gets a lot of sun. I like it on my deck for quick harvesting and convenient watering. I use mine in the spring to get an early start growing seedlings. And I use it in the fall and winter to grow lettuce and other cold hardy plants. I also love to keep a parsley plant growing most of the winter: I love fresh parsley. During the deepest part of the winter I store potted plants that have died back but can’t stand excessive cold.

Halloween Mood Lighting: Make Crafty Lights Out Of X-rays!

X-rays from my husband’s head MRI and x-ray from his broken elbow turned out to be perfect for making Halloween themed décor. X-rays by their very nature are great when put in front of a light so it wasn’t much of a leap to come up with these lighting ideas. You will need to ask around for unwanted x-rays. Your friends will think you are weird but who cares? Or, ask your vet if they have any animal x-rays that they will be throwing away.


Night light
How to: Cover a night-light with a portion of an x-ray. I used a creepy head x-ray because of the eyeballs at the bottom.


Candle Votive
How to: Cut the x-ray in a rectangle of desired proportions. The ones pictured here are 5 ½ inches tall. Bring the sides around and overlap a little. You could use a stapler or glue but I used a paper clip on the top and one on the bottom because I can easily unroll them for storage. Inside you can use small jars to put in tea lights or a votive. Be careful of where you place your candles because the bottom of the jars can get hot.
These x-rays are creepy looking and therefore provide great mood lighting for a Halloween party!


Lamp shade
How to: Get a second -hand lamp and use the shade as a stencil to cut out a new shade out of an x-ray. Use black electrical tape along the seam. Also, you can use the tape to trim around the top and bottom of the lampshade.

bones +skulls+innards = Halloween

Easy Ghost String-Lights Made From Recycled Single Serving Milk Bottles

How to:
Set aside suitable single serving milk bottles. Make sure you wash them out really well; old milk smells really bad. I got these bottles at Chick-Fil-A. If you don’t eat at that restaurant, ask all your friends to save them for you or find a similar bottle elsewhere. Depending on your needs, you may want to start collecting well in advance. (I’ve been known to save all year or longer for projects.)
Paint on the faces with black acrylic paint and let dry. Your kids will want to make some too! I accidently discovered that if you paint the face and let it dry a little but not all the way, you can use your brush to slide around the paint to make even scarier faces.
When your paint is dry, use a hole- punch to make two holes at the top of the bottles (see arrows in picture). Then use scrap ribbon or wire to attach your ghosts to a set of string-lights: use the holes you just made. Put one ghost over each light.