Author Archives: jane

DIY Pear Chips: A Delicious Way To Preserve Home-grown Pears

I made these from the pears growing in my yard.

When we moved into our house, we were lucky to find that the previous owners had planted a pear tree. But what to do with all the pears? -dehydrate! I love these dried pear chips. I think they taste even better as chips: probably because the flavor concentrates when dried. The nice thing about dried fruit is that it is very portable. Also, they are a healthy snack to give the kids.

How to: cut off the top and bottom of the pear and thinly slice. No need to peel. You can dry the slices in a food dehydrator but I don’t have one yet. I lay out the fruit in a single layer on cookie sheets and put the trays in the oven set very low. It should heat the air but not cook them. Store the dried chips in a covered container. They don’t need to be stored in the fridge but I often do because they last longer.

The purpose of this post is to inspire you to make some of these tasty treats yourself.

How To Fold Origami Gift Boxes: Easy To Follow Photo Instructions

Origami gift boxes are very versatile: organize your little things, use as party favors, or hold keepsakes. You needn’t spend a lot of money for wrapping paper; they look cool as is. You don’t even have to buy origami paper. All you need is to keep your eyes open for some cool paper just begging to be put to good use. Magazines usually aren’t made with thick enough paper for these boxes but sometimes their covers are.

I made this box from a brightly colored poster found at a garage sale. It was damaged but I only needed part of the poster to make the box.
Cut the bottom square ¼ inch smaller than the top square. (I used an 8.5 inch square to make the top and an 8.25 inch square to make the bottom.

Remember to line up corners and sides exactly and run the back of your nail across the folds.
1. To make this origami box you will need a perfectly square piece of paper. A paper cutter works great but if you do not have one you will need to measure carefully and then cut with scissors.
2. Before doing your first fold, place your square so the back side is up (the good side is face down). Then bring opposite corners together and make a nice crease.
3. Unfold and bring other opposite corners together and make a nice crease.
Your paper should now have fold lines in the shape of an x.
4. Again, with the back side up, fold your paper in half vertically.
5. Unfold. Fold paper in half horizontally. This means fold the bottom corners up to the top corners. (I forgot to take this picture: sorry.)
6. Unfold. Next fold in one of the corners. Point the corner to the exact center of the paper. You will know where that is by looking at the fold lines that you already made.
7. Fold in another corner.
8. Fold in another corner.
9. Fold in last corner.
10. Fold the bottom up to the center as shown in the picture.
11. Fold the top: they should meet in the center.
12. Unfold. Fold one side to the center.
13. Fold the other side. They should meet in the center.
14. Unfold last two folds. Pull open opposite corners.
15. Fold up two (opposite) sides. These will be two of the sides of your box.
16. To finish your box you will have to fold the paper in as shown.
17. I thought another view might be helpful. This is the hardest step to figure out. Hold your soon- to-be box top in the same orientation as shown in the photo and you should be fine.
18. Bring the corners up and around to the inside.
19. Completed box top.
20. Follow the same instructions to make a bottom for your box; remember to cut the square for your box bottom ¼ inch smaller that the square you cut for the top of your box.

Project ideas: Valentine card reused to make origami box, vintage Valentine embellished origami box, and magazine page made into Valentine gift box.

Something Eating Your Cabbage and Broccoli Plants? Cabbage White Butterflies Are Often To Blame

If you are trying to grow cabbage and/or broccoli in your garden (maybe for the first time), it is likely that you have found these caterpillars devouring your would-be dinner. These almost cute green guys are the caterpillar of the Cabbage White butterfly and they are hungry. They love to eat cabbage, broccoli, and other brassicas.

We decided to try growing cabbage as part of our fall garden. Well it didn’t take long before holes started appearing on the leaves. I handpicked the critters off (and fed them to the chickens) but was surprised at how many I collected. I haven’t resorted to chemicals yet. Apparently there is an organic Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis) spray called Dipel (Brand name) which is a microbial spray that will kill the caterpillars. I’m still hoping I won’t have to resort to spray; even if it is organic.

Check your plants daily and hand pick off any of the caterpillars you find. You must check daily!
Other critters like to munch on your greens such as slugs (see my post on slugs) and other caterpillars. You will need to pick those off too.

Easy Ghost Party Favors 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. Alternatively this might be an activity for guests at your Halloween party. Even young children can do this simple craft. Make a few in advance to set out as examples. I accidentally 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.


Print out ghostly messages on your computer, cut into strips and glue to the bottom of each bottle (See photo.) Write “Find a trick or treat inside. Maybe both”. Or write ” No trick, there is a treat inside!”
For fun, you may want to surprise your guests with a “trick” inside. Take a strip of paper and fold it accordion style with the word “Boo!” at the end. Glue the other end to the inside of the bottle cap. Children will find it when they open their bottle.

Fill these Halloween themed party favors with gummy worms or other treats.

How To Make Fun Recycled Sweater Produce Pillows

Don’t be limited by the designs I have here. Have fun! Be creative!

For detailed instructions including ball stencils, check out my post called How To Make Fun Recycled Sweater Beach Ball Pillows.

Be creative and design your own leaves or use the Leaf Stencils for Produce Pillows

To make the leaves on these clever pillows you will need to score a wool sweater from a thrift store, friend or yard sale. It is not uncommon for people to accidentally felt their sweaters by machine washing with warm or hot water. During the felting processes, the sweater will shrink; thus, they end up at donation spots. Sweaters with a hole or stain can easily be worked around. Another good idea is to use an old army green wool blanket. I didn’t use it for any of these leaves but it works great.

Felting Wool Sweaters
You can intentionally felt old sweaters by putting it in the washing machine and wash with hot water and detergent. Not much to it.

Delicious looking Red Apple Pillow
To make an apple pillow, you will need a red sweater or a T-shirt, a scrap piece of a brown sweater and a small piece of a green felted wool sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow only sew on a green leaf cut from the wool sweater. Felting instructions above.


Vine-Ripe Tomato Pillow
To make a tomato pillow, you will need a tomato red sweater or a T-shirt, and a few small pieces of a green felted wool sweater. I used a very thin red sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow then sew on three green leaves cut from the wool sweater. Felting instructions above.


Berry Blue Blueberry Pillow
To make an blueberry pillow, you will need a blue sweater or a T-shirt, a scrap piece of the blue sweater for the top circle and a piece of a blue felted wool sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow only sew the circle on top of the felted piece as in the picture. Felting instructions above.


Autumn Pumpkin
To make a pumpkin pillow, you will need an orange sweater or a T-shirt, a scrap piece of a brown sweater and a small piece of a green felted wool sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow only sew on a green leaf cut from the wool sweater. Felting instructions above.

Orange Grove Pillow
To make an orange pumpkin pillow, you will need an orange sweater or a T-shirt, a scrap piece of a brown sweater and a small piece of a green felted wool sweater. Follow the general instruction on how to make a beach ball pillow only sew on a green leaf cut from the wool sweater. Felting instructions above.