Author Archives: jane

How To Make Fun Recycled Sweater Beach Ball Pillows

Girl in a pile of beach ball Pillows

Fun with recycled sweater beach ball Pillows.

I made a whole bunch of these pillows; they make great gifts!

Beach Ball Pillows made from recycled sweaters.

Add a little fun to your home decor. Perfect for children’s rooms!

Beach Ball Pillow with Nautical or patriotic look.

Using the right sweaters you can create a pillow with a nautical or patriotic look.

 How-to:
1. Set aside unwanted or damaged sweaters in desired color(s). Keep in mind that thinner sweaters are easier to sew.

2. You will need a Beach Ball pattern.*

*Because it takes a tremendous amount of time for me to develop projects like this, design and draw a pattern, test ideas, make, take pictures, edit pictures, write the how to, etc… I’m asking for a mere 2 dollars (see side donation button for quick payment with paypal). E-mail me and I’ll e-mail you the pattern in two sizes (large and small).

 Print out the ball stencil that I made and use it to make your own stencil out of a cereal box or other scrap cardboard.

Size: The large ball is about 11 to 12 inches tall and the small pillow is about 6 inches tall. The size of your pillow will depends on how stretchy the fabric is and how much you stuff it.

3Make your own recycled sweater beach ball pillows..

Use your stencil, a rotary cutter, and a cutting matt to cut out the pieces of the ball. If you don’t have a rotary cutter yet, trace the stencil and use fabric scissors to cut them out. You will need 6 pieces per pillow. In addition, you will need two small circles: one for the top and one for the bottom. I just free hand cut the circles two at a time so they are the same size. Alternatively you can trace a small glass or other small round circular item. Keep in mind that the circles have to be bigger than the desired finished size because the raw edges are turned under.

4. Lay out the pieces in a flower shape to help you visualize the pattern and to see how the colors look together. I suggest you find 3 colors that look nice together and then cut 2 pieces of each color or pick 6 colors one piece of each color.

Sewing a Beach Ball Pillow.

5. Stack the pieces in the pattern order of your choice. Take the first two and sew (right sides together) along one side leaving about ¼ inch seam. Then sew the next piece on and the next until all 6 pieces are together. Don’t bother to place pins because sweater fabric is so stretchy and each piece might stretch a different amount. Also don’t worry if you have a bit of a hole on the top and bottom of your ball because these spots will be covered up by the circles.

6.Sew up the last seam (ball should still be inside out) leaving about 3.5 inches un-sewed.
7.Turn your ball right-side out and add stuffing through the hole you left.

8.The last part is to hand-sew the stuffing hole closed and hand-sew the “buttons” on the top and bottom. Turn under the raw edge as you sew along.

Blueberry Crisp Made From Locally Grown Blueberries; From Our Backyard

summer

Glorious blueberries!

We were very excited this year when we finally had enough blueberries from our bushes (at one time) to make a blueberry crisp. I’ve been waiting many years for our bushes to get big. In the past at best we would get handfuls per day. I can’t wait until next year when I hope to have all we can eat with many more to freeze besides. That last sentence reminds me of one of my most favorite children’s books, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. You might want to check it out.

If you haven’t tried it, try freezing some blueberries. We call them popsicle berries: for a cool treat pop one or two in your mouth. Delightful! My kids beg for more.

Go ahead, plant some blueberry bushes is your yard and invest in your future.

Blueberry Pickers

I was going to get a picture of the crisp when it was fresh out of the oven but it was gone so fast I missed my chance. I enjoyed this dessert even more because I knew that the berries came from our back yard.

BLUEBERRY CRISP

Blueberries- enough to fill the pie crust, ¼ cup organic sugar, and 2 Tbs. cornstarch then 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (Sugar, cornstarch and lemon are optional.) I usually skip the extras here.
Combine (with a pastry blender) 1 cup organic unbleached flour, ¾ cups organic oats, ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ cup packed organic brown sugar and ½ cup (1 stick) cold organic butter.
Tend your blueberry bushes all spring and in the summer when they become dotted with flavorful blue dots, go out in the yard and pick enough blueberries to fill the pie pan. Bring them inside, wash and remove any stems. Preheat oven to 375 decrees F. If it is important to you to thicken the blueberry juice and add even more sweetness, stir granulated sugar and cornstarch and then lemon juice with the blueberries. Put the blueberries or blueberry mixture into a pie pan.
I use a hand-crafted-in-Vermont pottery pie pan given to me by my father early in my marriage.


In a bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Combine ingredients with a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingers, mix until coarse crumbs form. Top your blueberries.
You will want to put a cookie sheet underneath the pie pan. Bake crisp 35 to 40 minutes or until it looks good. The fruit should be bubbly. Cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Slugs In Your Garden? Use Beer Cans To Lure Slugs Before Recycling

Even the beer residue left in a can or bottle need not be wasted. In the evening, if you have an “empty” beer can or 2 or 3, try to remember to place them in your vegetable garden or among your landscape plants like hosta (slugs love to eat your hosta). During the night, slugs will go inside lured by the beer. In the morning, remove the cans from your garden. I don’t even waste the slugs because I feed them to my chickens. After shaking the slugs out, I rinse out the cans or bottles and put them in the recycle bin.

This Super -size slug was found outside my vegetable garden. Thankfully! Do you see the slime?! Check out the breathing pore.

C. Bennett wrote to let us know what kind of slug was in the above picture.

“It’s a leopard slug. Limax maximus to be precise…

I think their kinda pretty. And they eat other slugs!”

Firefly Lanterns Powered By Bioluminescence: Made From Glass Juice Bottles and Salvaged Wire

Catching fireflies is the quintessential children’s summer evening activity. Every new generation is captivated by these magical blinking moving lights and instinctively wants to know the source.
Make one today or If you are having a summer party that will continue after dark, make a bunch for your young guests.

How to make a firefly lantern:

Save your empty glass juice bottles. Take off the label and clean it.
Use scrap electrical wire to make the handle for your lantern; you will need a piece about 30 inches long. We had some pieces left over from an addition to our house. You might try calling an electrician in your area; maybe they could give you some scraps that would otherwise just go in the dumpster. How-to make the handle:

1. Start on one side of the lamp (point A), go half way around (point B).
2. At point B, bend the wire up for the handle. After you form the loop for the handle, you should end up on the other side of the bottle (point A; where you started).
3. At point A, bend the wire end around the handle loop to secure it.
4. The wire will continue around the neck of the bottle and attach at point B. Use wire cutters to trim off extra wire.

It is a lot easier done than said.

You will want to cover the top of the bottle to prevent the fireflies from prematurely escaping. You could put holes in the cap and use that. Or trace a large cup on a scrap piece of fabric and cut out with pinking shears if you have them. That circle of fabric is held in place with an elastic band. I have a little stash of elastic bands that came off of vegetables or other packaging. You will find a second use for them in projects like this and many others.

Did you know that there are thousands of different species of fireflies? Fireflies blink to attract a mate but some mimic the blinking pattern of a different species of firefly in order to lure them near so they can eat them. Yikes!

Did you know that Fireflies produce light via a chemical reaction?

Find out more about fireflies at The Firefly Files or National Geographic.

Have any other bright ideas or a clever variation? Send me an e-mail and I will pass on your great ideas.
Are any of the directions unclear? If you have any questions about this project or any other, send me an e-mail. -Jane

Make Your Own Clipboards Out Of Scrap Boards To Display Children’s Artwork

To make your own clipboard, you will need to find a thin scrap board. If it isn’t the right size, you will have to cut it to fit standard office paper. If you don’t want to bother cutting your board, ask around until you find something approximately the right size. Paint it with spare paint from your shed or leave it natural. When it dries completely, attach a clip like the one in the photo. The clips can be found at office supply stores.

These clipboards make excellent frames for displaying artwork. The clips already have a hook which makes hanging up easy.

Also see: Adding pictures to clips, clipboards made from scrap wood, and salvaged laminate flooring clipboards.