Category Archives: crafts (recycled materials)

MYO Magazine Letter Magnets

Magazine letter magnets are perfect for teaching. Use with a child that needs to learn their ABC’s or with a beginner reader. He or she will have fun playing around with these tiles and showing you what words they can spell. Pretty soon they will be making whole sentences!

Use on the refrigerator or on a magnetic cookie sheet.

Note: not for the very young; tiles may be a choking hazard.

Teens and preteens will enjoy leaving messages or sayings for others to read. Or they can make sets of tiles with their friends’ names and gift them. Magazine letter magnets will personalize your friend’s locker.

How-to:

A. Cut letters from magazines. You will find a great variety of fonts in all sorts of colors. Go searching for just the right ones. You may want to find all the letters in the same color or you might want the letters to be as varied as possible. Cut out the letters and make sure they fit on the tiles.

B. I used the tiles from a salvaged My First Rummikub game which was missing some of the pieces. Paste a letter on the front of each tile.

C. The magnets I used are promotional flat flexible magnets. (Promotional flat flexible magnets are often given out by businesses for promotional reasons, are ususally business card size and are easy to cut.) This is a perfect use for those unsolicited magnets. Use scissors to cut a piece large enough to cover the back of the tile and glue it there.

You might also be interested in seeing a related post: Special Valentine Message Magnets Made From Salvaged Materials.

Home-made Sweet Bird’s Nest

You will have fun making your own sweet bird’s nest. They are lovely as centerpieces in a garden wedding or for spring decorating. Nests look amazing displayed under a glass cloche. These nests have all the charm of natural bird’s nests so you can leave the real ones for the birds. (There are laws in the US and Canada prohibiting the collecting of eggs and nests.)

They also make a beautiful gift for an expectant mother. They adorn the nursery with a natural reminder of the new life and the comfort and protection she will surround it.

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How-to:
Step 1. Gather some vines. I made these examples from the vines of the fragrant honeysuckle flower but you could try other vines as well. While the vines are still fresh, twist them around your hand; making tight circles then gradually spiraling bigger until you form the desired nest shape and size. Tuck in the ends to prevent unraveling. No glue is needed.

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Step 2. Add a layer of dried grass and/or dried fall leaves. Look on the side of the road in the fall or early spring for different dried grasses. You might want to put a pouch of rice or sand into the center of the nest to weight it down while your nest dries a bit. Keep it there until it holds its shape on its own -usually the next day. This gives the nest its great cozy feel; like a mommy bird has been sitting in it getting it ready for her little ones.

Step 3. Looking for things to decorate your nest is half the fun. Go for a hike.
Adorn your nest with a variety of native and locally grown ornamental plants including dogwood blossoms, hydrangea flowers, grasses, and herbs. In addition, you could add moss, bark, leaves, and feathers. Don’t overlook the tiny dried seedpods of last summer’s flowers.

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You may try lining your nest with downy feathers like in this nest or use a striking feather as an accent.

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Moss looks very natural in a nest. Moss can be found in shady areas which tend to be damp.

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Flowers like the dogwood blossoms on this nest can be dried in silica (a desiccant). There isn’t much to it really. Just place the fresh flowers in a container of silica and then gently pour more on top until the flower is completely covered. Check it after a few days, if it is dry, shake off the excess powder and you are ready to use them on your nest.

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Try adding fresh herbs to make it smell good. Thyme was used in this nest but I also like Sage.

I think these adorable ceramic speckled quail eggs make a nice addition.

I encourage you to make your own but if you would prefer to buy, you can special order the nests for garden weddings or otherwise from Fun In The Making (contact).

Clementine Box Re-used To Grow Lush Green Grass Or Wheat-grass

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Wheat-grass growing in Clementine box.

This re-purposed Clementine box doubles as an attractive green focal point. It looks great around the house: kitchen, dinning room, office – anywhere you want to be reminded of spring. I love it! I like to jump-start spring by growing grass or wheat grass indoors before the grass outside greens up. It is a super easy centerpiece for a spring or summer party; it looks amazing and is so inexpensive. Use as part of an economical eco-friendly garden wedding. You may also want to try growing a living Easter basket.

How-2: Early in the year, ask all your friends to save their Clementine boxes for you. These boxes have quite a few uses so don’t throw them away after you are done growing grass! Preparing the box consists of lining it with a piece of plastic. Any kind you have handy (a scrap of construction waste, the plastic bag that your bag of dirt came in, whatever). Wait until after you put in your growing medium before trimming off the extra plastic. Next if you are using soil, add a half inch more or less of pea gravel or other small stones for drainage. If using Vermiculite, it is not necessary to add rocks for drainage. Just remember not to flood your container. If you add too much, try pouring off excess water.

growing wheat grass

Wheat berries (also called wheat grass) can be found at your local health food store. This is the stuff that some people juice (with a special juicer) and drink for its health properties. Unlike growing rye grass, you must first soak and sprout your wheat berries before planting. To do this, place your wheat berries (less than a cup for each Clementine box) in a clean jar or bowl and cover with plenty of cool water and let sit overnight. You do not need the lid on at this point. Keep your jar out of direct sunlight and at room temperature during the sprouting process. In the morning rinse with cool water, drain off the extra water and put the cover on your mason jar. You should rinse one or two times that day and the next day. The idea is to have the wheat berries sprout a little root while avoiding mold or slime to form on the seeds. I didn’t have any problems with that. You should see roots forming within two days (more or less). Distribute the sprouted wheat berries across the top of the soil or Vermiculite. They should be sitting right on top of your growing medium. Use enough to cover the surface with some overlapping. Wet the soil/ Vermiculite in the box but don’t drown it. To keep my new “seedlings” happy, I put a clear plastic bag over the top to keep the humidity high. After about two days when the wheat grass starts to grow and the roots have gone into the soil/ vermiculite, you should take off the plastic. Place in front of a sunny window. You will need to check on it and mist as needed.

growing rye grass
Growing rye grass is even easier than growing wheat grass because you don’t need to pre-soak the seeds. Just distribute a layer of seeds across the top of the soil. (I use soil not vermiculite when growing rye grass.) The more seeds you use the thicker your “lawn” but don’t go overboard. Next, I sprinkle just a bit of soil on top. Water, cover with plastic, and mist when needed. Take off plastic when the grass starts to grow. Place in a in front of a sunny window and water when needed. So easy the kids can do it.

“Green” Memory Envelopes

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Yearly Memory Envelopes
These envelopes are time capsules- only easier to stack. I make one for every year, collecting items throughout the year that I don’t want to throw away. It’s like a scrapbook but a lot less work. And you will be a lot more organized. You might include things like brochures from places you visit, post cards, programs, party invitations, birthday cards, letters, movie stubs, relevant newspaper articles…

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Vacation Memory Envelopes
Sometimes a vacation or other worthy event needs its own unique memory envelope!
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How-2
Use an old envelope as a stencil and save it for future use. Trace your stencil onto an old desk-top calendar, posters, tourist maps, old street maps, and/or salvaged geological maps. Cut out, fold and glue.
If you don’t want to make your own, you can find maps made from salvaged geological maps by a clever man in New England at www.eco-artware.com. I also saw some recycled map envelopes at www.jampaper.com.

Make Your Own Envelopes From Salvaged Paper

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If you take a piece of standard lined notebook paper and fold it in half then fold it in half again the other way, it will fit nicely into this 4 x 6 inches envelope.

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You can buy an envelope stencil or you can make your own. Just find a pre-used envelope and use it as a stencil. Better yet use that envelope to make your own stencil out of an old file folder or a piece of plastic. I used an ex-ray from when my husband broke his elbow; I knew I’d find a use for them someday.

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On envelopes that are too dark to write directly on, you can apply sticker labels.

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To eliminate the need for stickers, I like to cut a window in the envelope with an X-acto knife. Children should use scissors. Place your letter inside the envelope and write the address on the back of your letter where it shows out the window.

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A. Cute cat envelope was made from an old calender.
B. Frog envelope was made from a used Ranger Rick Magazine.
C. Jungle envelope was made from a damaged book called Animaze! by W. Madgwick.
D. Farmer envelope was made from a book that was falling apart (Meet Jack Appleknocker by A. Sundgaard).
E. Crocodile gift tag envelope is made from a page in a book called Lyle Finds His Mother by B. Waber.
F. Beautiful Fish envelopes were made by my children out of a book they got at a yard sale: Cayman Underwater Paradise by Pitcairn and Paul.
G. Boat envelope was made from a Baby Einstein Book that was well worn. The image is of a Van Gogh painting called Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

How 2: Easy cat envelope Cut your paper 9 ½ inches x 6 inches. Make your first fold at line b (see image above). The distance between a and b should be 4 inches. After you have made your first fold, you will need to add a small line of glue alone the two sides (or use a glue stick). The flap of the envelope (c to d) needs to be folded down. Easy.

Other envelopes Trace your stencil onto a piece of funny/ beautiful/ cute/ wacky/ or trendy piece of re-claimed paper. Save interesting paper to be used for this purpose. Use Salvaged, damaged, and/or vintage books, fashion magazines, catalogs, calendars, old posters, whatever. Be aware of where on the envelope the image will be. Fold. Use a small amount of glue to adhere it together.