The goal of this quest is to complete 20 little homemade projects that are useful (and fun). Some projects might call on skills you don’t yet posses. It’s your mission to figure them out, and complete them anyway. If you’re not having FUN with this quest – stop! It’s suppose to be enjoyable, expand your skill set, and find confidence in your abilities. It should actually be more fun, for those who don’t know how to do-it-all. For those that have more skills – this quest might be boring?!
1 CROCHET DISHCLOTH/FACE CLOTH/POT HOLDER/COASTERS
Pretty much all the same thing! Doesn’t have to be square. Doesn’t have to be “perfect” – it’s about getting a skein of yarn, a crochet hook, and doing it! Don’t buy thin/fine yarn, and a tiny hook (unless you’re skilled) – stick to chunkier stuff…it crochets faster!!
Honestly – I don’t really know how to crochet ‘properly’. I know how to HOOK! 😛 The think I love about crocheting (as opposed to knitting), is you really don’t need to know more than the one one hook stitch, and it’s less regulated. You start with a chain of stitches, and just keep building on that ORGANICALLY as you want. It’s much more ‘artistic’ than knitting, as you can allow something to create itself as you’re going along. Plenty of times…I’ve sat down to make a tote, only to wind up with a funky-fairy hat!! LOL – have fun with it. You can gain skill in something if you don’t try it.
If you don’t dig this video – find another one…there’s tons on Youtube!
2 – UPCYCLED BOTTLE VASES
Another project to help you start seeing things with new eyes. Glass bottles and jars abound, everything from beer, soda, jelly jars, and pasta sauce jars get tossed all the time. With a little paint – you can give them a second, purposeful life. In the pictures below, some bottles/jars are painted on the outside, some on the inside. Both are beautiful. I really love the look of the mat ones though. Spray paint is easiest if you’re painting the outside – to get a nice even finish. If you’re painting the insides – just add paint (has to be somewhat runny) and turn bottle to coat. You’ll have to add some sort of plastic liner if you want to use it for fresh flowers, as most paints won’t be able to withstand water…this is perk to painting the outsides.
The mason jars in the picture below have a weathered/shabby look. Allow the paint to dry, then buff off high spots with a rag. You can seal paint with a clear acrylic spray (mat or gloss), but not necessary. Add dried flowers, fresh cut, candles, or dried branches, and display proudly!!
3 – CHALKBOARD
I don’t know who wouldn’t want a chalkboard for to-do, and grocery lists, be back soon or I love you notes, but if you don’t have use for one, consider making it for someone else. You can make a chalkboard by painting on a smooth sheet of 1/4″ plywood, or directly on the wall. You don’t have buy expensive chalkboard paint, and you don’t have to go with the classic green or black….you can choose any color you want (as long as there’s contrasting chalk to go with it).
Chalkboard paint is basically FLAT paint with some added fine texture. You can achieve the same results by mixing 1 cup of flat paint (any color) with 2 tablespoons of UNSANDED tile grout. If you’re using black paint, go with black grout. Mix up small batches at a time, and apply with a foam roller – allow to dry, and apply several layers for a nice, solid, even finish. If you’re painting over gloss surface like plastic, metal, or glass – use a heavy coat of flat primer to cover those surfaces.
When dry, smooth the entire area with 150-grit sandpaper, and dust off. Prime your chalkboard by rubbing chalk over the entire surface, and wiping off with a barely damp sponge. If you want to make a free-standing chalkboard – go to Goodwill where you can find a huge selection of framed artwork. Remove the picture from the frame, and replace with the same size of 1/4″ plywood (smooth on one side). You can also paint a section of wall, rather than a complete wall….and frame with trim. In the picture below, chalkboards are painted on the inside doors of cupboards, on platters and baking sheets, table tops, doors, and fridges! The only limit is your imagination.
4 – SUNCATCHER
Get together some transparent/translucent, colored plastic trash – or you can buy some colored plastic cups. Leave whole, or cut up into pieces, and place on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment) at 250 F. Keep a close eye on it – it melts fast! Remove from oven, let cool and assemble into a sun catcher! Not much to this project, but the enjoyment of looking at the art you created – dangling in the sunshine…just that you made it….is a good thing.
You can also buy a big jar of clear, colored, plastic beads from Walmart for $3 (1500 beads). You can melt these in cake pans, muffin tins, or arrange lose on cookie sheet. The picture below shows a necklace made from green plastic…gives you an idea of what can be created.
5 – CINNAMON VANILLA SUGAR SCRUB (bath/beauty)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup olive. almond, or coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. Cinnamon powder
This is a simple recipe that uses ingredients you should already have on hand. You can use 2 cups of white sugar, if you don’t have raw. If you only have raw – and don’t want to use it up on this recipe, consider making half a batch.
Nothing to this. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and store in an air-tight container. Use in the shower to polish and exfoliate. Add a ribbon for a last minute gift! If you have other essential oils that you prefer…you can make up a different scent, by replacing the cinnamon &/or vanilla. As a cheaper alternative to essential oils, you can use extracts from the grocery, or kool-aid packets (the kind where you have to add your own sugar)…Try lemon, and add a tablespoon of lemon zest, and a half teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.
It’s all about being creative and using your imagination!
6 – NEEDLEPOINT SAMPLER
The oldest surviving samplers were constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries. As there were no pre-printed patterns available for needleworkers, a stitched model was needed. Whenever a needlewoman saw a new and interesting example of a stitching pattern, she would quickly sew a small sample of it onto a piece of cloth – her ‘sampler’. The patterns were sewn randomly onto the fabric as a reference for future use, and the woman would collect extra stitches and patterns throughout her lifetime.
These samplers were stitched using a variety of needlework styles, threads, and ornament. Many of them were exceedingly elaborate, incorporating subtly shaded colours, silk and metallic embroidery threads, and using stitches such as Hungarian, Florentine, tent, cross, long-armed cross, two-sided Italian cross, rice, running, Holbein, Algerian eye and buttonhole stitches. The samplers also incorporated small designs of flowers and animals, and geometric designs stitched using as many as 20 different colors of thread.
The sampler above is a ridiculous example of how extravagant hand stitchwork can be. If you find enjoyment in needlepoint, this is where it can take you, and beyond….of course, just for fun and as something to passed down as heirlooms. I don’t think anyone makes a decent living off needlepoint. There’s just a certain energy something carries, when it’s been stitched by hand. The same with hand knitting vs. machine knits. They cannot be compared.
Buy a yard of some beautiful linen, or embroidery cloth, a selection of needles, and an array of needlepoint thread, and a hoop. A nice pair of fine scissors doesn’t hurt either. That’s it. Everything can be kept in one small basket or box, and pulled out while watching TV, listening to the radio, or relaxing outside. Crafts like this, along with knitting and crocheting – help you take time out for yourself, and relax! Your first sampler is just for practicing basic stitches, and combing various stitches to come up with new ones. Of course – the same is true for the following samplers, but getting a little more elaborate each time.
There is really no better baby shower or wedding gift….or anniversary gift, or something for your own child – like their family tree…leaving room for them to add on to it as time goes by, It doesn’t fit with “functional”, but it WILL be cherished for generations upon generations, I guess till it eventually disintegrates and turns to dust. Stitch the married couple or childs name, date(s), and a sweet saying, surrounded by embroidery doodle. 😉
I’m not going to walk you through all the stitches – that’s something you’re going to have to seek out on your own. There are TONS of stitch instruction, tutorials, and workshops online. The easiest way to go about learning – is to use a fine-tip marker (test them on a corner to make sure they don’t bleed) – sharpies are good. Draw out your stitches first in marker on your fabric. You can also use a pencil. Make sure to write the name of the stitch, so you’re learing that as well. You can stitch the name to make it nicer. Once you’ve completed all your marked stitches, you can continue to fill in with your favorites – or not. Tuck it away, and start your next sampler. When you’ve completed 3 or 4, go back to your first to compare how much more accomplished you are!! Just another old world talent you have under your belt!!
7 – MAKE SOME MAGNETS
Another super easy project to stretch your creative noodle! Buy a package of magnets (Walmart craft section), and look around for some stuff to glue to them. If you’ve got kids – make them kid friendly. Got a drawer full of cheap plastic toys? Get together with your kids and glue magnets on the back. Maybe the alphabet, adding, multiplication, or periodic table magnets. Or print out a good map of your country, and cut into states/provinces….but anything goes. It might just be bottle caps, or shells you picked up at the beach. Below are some pics for inspiration.
For the cool animal magnets below – you’ll need a hacksaw (or similar), cut down the mid-section, glue magnets, and spray paint whatever color you want…or leave the way they are. This technique is great for dinosaurs, tool soldiers, etc.
Glass magnets are popular, and easy to make. You need a bag of clear, glass drops (Walmart flora/craft area), some glue and an exacto knife or razor blade. Since all drops vary slightly in size…it’s best to cut out the approximate circle, glue onto drop, and then trim away with the razor blade – after it’s dry. Beautifully simplistic over old text, hand-written script, pieces of old map, etc.
8 – MACRAME PLANT HANGER
I’m bringing back Macrame!!! Is someone else already doing that? Well – I need your help. We all need to elevate this wonderful craft, back to where it should be – embraced & loved……and gracing everyone’s homes!!! I remember how proud I use to be of my finished macrame works of art, as a kid. Where did they all go?? 😉
This isn’t my tutorial – I’m sending you elsewhere. Don’t think I’m at a point where I can instruct others, and the pictures and steps are nicely laid out on this site. I searched a good while to find an intricate hanger, that wasn’t just a few knots. That’s not macrame!! One thing I will say – I HATE ‘Macrame Cord’!!!!!!! With a passion! Just looking at the picture makes my skin goosebump! EEhhyuhck! I can’t stand nylon like that. Anyway – I’m sure it’s cheaper – if you can find it, but for sure I suggest going with some nice natural cord (the same approximate thickness).
And – you don’t have to use a ball planter. A normal terra cotta pot should fit. And – no fake ivy!!
PLEASE post pics or links to your finished macrame!!! I’d love to see them! xoxox
9 – HOMEMADE CHUTNEY
Chutney is a brilliant and impressive way to use up fruit that’s nearing the compost, and another project that makes an amazing last minute gift! If you don’t like curry, you probably won’t care for chutney, bcuz curry is the main seasoning. You can use any fruit you have on hand – a variety of fruits is best – apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, mango are the most common.
Peel fruits – for thin skinned fruits, blanch them for a minute in boiling water, and the skin will slide off easily. Chop small & uniform. Heat a saucepan with a couple Tbs. oil, and saute some finely chopped onion, red pepper flakes (optional), red bell pepper, ginger and curry. All to taste, with some salt and pepper. Add your fruit, some brown sugar, and cider vinegar (again – to taste). Throw in some dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, figs, etc). And cook down, on simmer, till thick and soft – like jam. It will firm up some at it cools.
There’s no real recipe for chutney, as long as you know what “taste” you’re aiming for. It’s to use up ripe fruits, with a mix of savory ingredients, into a wonderful condiment for just about anything. Great spread on sandwiches, topping eggs, with meat dishes, and fish, and of course – to help calm down hot curries. Personally, I think anyone benefits from having a skill at sauces and condiments, as they not only enhance the flavor of a dish, but dress it up with something more lively, and usually make it extra healthy. Especially in the U.S. where condiments and sauces, tend to add excess processed-junk to the table…chutney’s are an excellent way of getting in some delicious extra nutrition. If you’re a parent of a child, that only takes to meat and starches – you can sneak in a a good amount of fruits, veggies, and herbs with chutney! Great for dipping grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, and frnech fries.
Allow to cool, and store in a jar in the fridge. If you do want to follow some recipes (there’s no end to the variety of chutneys both cooked and raw/fresh) here’s a link: 21 Easy Chutney Recipes.
10 – HOT/COLD COMPRESS
Got 5 minutes? Make a hot/cold sock compress! I know you have a sad, lonely sock somewhere – that’s lost its mate! Put it to some (really) good use, by filling it with rice, and tying a knot in the end. Keep it in the freezer…or make 2.
One can stay in the freezer, and one can go in the microwave for a few minutes to heat up. Let it cool to a safe temp. before applying – especially for children. If you want to go that extra inch – you can sew the ends, so its a little prettier, but not necessary. These are great to have on hand, and cost about 10 cents to make.
11 – APPLE HEAD DOLLS
The Seneca Indians are credited as being the first to carve apple head dolls…a craft that was later passed on to the settlers of Appalachia, but back before Barbie, Bratz, and Cabbage Patch Kids…for every child that grew up on a remote homestead, to parents that couldn’t afford to spend the amount of their annual income on a porcelian doll….there were apple head dolls, to cherish and love.
Interesting is the thought of children playing with dolls that resembled the oldest members of their family/community…where we now have dolls that twist and distort ideas of perfection, in mutant, unattainable form. Such progress! Not!
I started making apple head dolls around 8 yrs old. Fun, easy, and impossible to fail at. If you do somehow manage to make a ‘major’ mistake – you can eat it, grab another apple and start again. No special tools are required, just a paring or exacto knife, and…what could be easier on the hands, than whittling apple?? The hard part is waiting for the head to dry, but everyday there’s a little more change in the features, so it’s not too bad…and I suppose you could use a dehydrator – especially if you were making a bunch at once.
Simply grab some large apples (they shrink a good bit as they dry), a knife, a potato peeler, a bowl, a comfy chair – and get to carvin’. After peeling the apple, all you’re doing is carving in rough, basic features – eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. You don’t want to add any finer details, and keep your features pretty much the same depth when carving. You can add smile lines, and crows feet with the tip of your knife…just scoring the apple…they’ll get more prominent as they age. The apple will take care of all the finer features. Each one will dry differently – creating the most wonderfully unique faces!!
You can roll them around them around in a little lemon juice and salt to keep them from getting too brown or molding/rotting, but I’ve never found that necessary. I like the look of the leathery, weathered faces…like old folks that have spent the majority of their life (working hard) in the sun. Finish your head, by pressing two apple seeds into the eye sockets. Hang your heads in a window to dry (no direct sunlight), you can push a small piece of looped wire into the top of the head, and add string to hang. Sitting your heads on a flat surface, can cause them to rot, as the moisture collects at the bottom.
It will take 2 – 4 weeks for your heads to dry.
You can finish your dolls further by using some wire coat-hanger to form a skeletal body, padding it a bit, and dressing it up….the less you do to these doll the better they look. I like them just strung on some twine – they make a great halloween decoration. A few cute additions are cotton batten hair, wire rimmed glasses, and babushkas….or for Halloween – little witches hats made out of black construction paper.
12 – HOMEMADE FRUIT LEATHER
13 – UPCYCLED MARKET BAGS
Go throw your clothes and pull out some old t-shirts – the bigger the better. Simply cut around the neck, and cut off sleeves, if they’re tank tops – you can skip this step. Then – sew the bottoms closed. That’s all there is to it!! Yay – no more plastic grocery bags overflows.
14 – HEALTHY BANANA POPS
Simple, nutriush snack! Cut fresh, ripe bananas in half (width-wise), insert popsicle sticks. Melt (semi-sweet) chocolate chips, baking chocolate, or chocolate bars. Dip in your bananas, and freeze. You can forgo chocolate, and dip your bananas in fruit yogurt, roll and freeze. For extra tasty pops – after dipping, roll in crushed nuts, toasted coconut, crushed pretzles, m&m’s, or sprinkles. You can also smear your bananas with some nut butter before dipping! Yum!
For party treats, cut the bananas into 1 inch chunks, and use toothpicks to hold. Freeze on parchment lined cookie sheet. Or, you can skip the freezing altogether, and just chill in the fridge, till chocolate sets up. Or – for even more party fun (or a fun dessert) – skip the work, and put all the fixin’s on the table for a mini fondue (below/right).
15 – POPSICLE BRACELTS
Get a package of craft popsicle or tongue depressor sticks (yes…Walmart). Boil some water in a pot, and toss in a dozen sticks. Let boil 30 minutes. Allow to sit in the boiling water for another 30 minutes as it cools. Set oven to 200 F, and get some drinking glasses (preferably not your best ones). Bend the sticks so they fit inside the glasses, and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You want them dry. Allow to cool off, remove sticks – and decorate however you want. You can seal the bracelets with clear poly, but not necessary….good idea if you’re using fabric though. Decorate with paint, sharpies, glued on glitter or seed beads. Can also apply a nice even coat of glue, and cover outside with pretty fabric.
16 – MysticMama Goddess Glow Facial Scrub
You need a spice or coffee grinder for this recipe. Exact measurements are necessary. Grind up a 1/4 cup rice…any kind is fine, but jasmine or basmati are nice. Empty grinder, and grind 1/4 cup of rolled oats, with 1 tsp. sea salt. Empty all contents together into air-tight container, and mix in 3 Tbs. of bentonite clay, and 2 Tbs. organic turmeric powder. You can use this scrub as is – mixing it with your favorite facial soap, when you wash
your face. For better results, mix as needed (before washing your face with some milk (preferably raw goat or cow, or coconut) but any will suffice, you just need a dash, and a drizzle of honey. If you’ll be using this everyday, you an mix all the ingredients in one go – making a thick paste, and store in container. Lasts about 2 weeks in fridge, or 1 week left out.
Apply scrub/mask to face – working well into skin to buff. Depending on how fine a grind you can get – if there feels to be more grit, use lighter pressure. Leave on face 10 – 15 minutes (or longer), remove the bulk of mask with soft circular motions, then rinse off residue.
Keep a spritzer bottle filled with distilled water and raw apple cider vinegar – to balance pH after washing. If you don’t have a spritzer bottle, just apply on cotton ball and wipe. If you don’t have a grinder – you can buy rice powder/rice flour at the grocery. You can omit the oatmeal, replace bentonite with any clay, add some fresh mashed fruit. Be creative and have fun.
17 – Clove Oranges
I don’t see why this has to be a Christmas craft – They last year round. I just remember making them with my mom when I was little, and thought it would work here. Again – simple, doable projects – that have a lot of energetic effect without costing a lot. This is actually probably one of the more expensive projects. You need at least one pretty orange…make a dozen if you want. As far as your cloves will take you. You need full cloves – not broken or ground. Another project you can do in a big comfy chair, or sitting in the grass outside. Simple poke your cloves into the skin of the oranges – in whatever pattern you want. Add some ribbon or raffia attacked to the top of the orange by looping some wire, or a paperclip…and poking into the orange to make a loop. Hang in a window, or forgo the ribbon, and toss in a basket, or one of your dresser drawers.
18 – MAKE AN ARTSY LAMPSHADE
I’d really like to post a tutorial for a super funky stain-glass looking lampshade, that’s just colored tissue paper, Elmers glue, and wire, but…I haven’t put it together. So, until then……I’m giving links for 3 cool lampshades that are also easy, affordable, and darn cute! Make one of these, find another idea, or come up with one all by yourself – remember to post pics of you finished product! You do that in your profile activity stream (if you’ve registered)(look for link top/right/bar/corner). If you’re not registered – leave a link in the comments section (for any of the projects you’ve completed)!!
19 – Make some lovely nature wall art
20 – Personalized Mugs
Finally made it to 20 projects. That took a lot longer than I thought. This final project is adorable and easy, and a perfect way of speaking of your truth. It always great to have some crafty skills to create wonderful gift for those you love and appreciate, and this is (another) one of those! Pick up sweet looking plain mugs whenever you see them on sale, and keep a store of them for gift-giving occasison. Maybe stash away a Sharpie as well – I know I can never find any of mine when I need them!
You need to use OIL-BASED SHARPIES for this project. Not the regular permanent ink ones! I haven’t tried this project yet, but I’m assuming that Micheal’s is probably your best bet, or a Dick Blick. If your just doing this project for yourself – try the regular Sharpies if you have them around. Some people say it works. Make absolutely sure there’s no oil from your hands on the mug!!!!!!!!! Wash really well in hot soapy water, and dry with clean cloth, maybe even a bit of rubbing alcohol. Then go over your lines/design, 2 or 3 times, to make sure it’s nice and thick!!!I’m pretty sure the metallic colored Sharpies are oil-based paint – so if you get black or colored mugs, that should suffice (come in silver and gold). Walmart has the oil-based sets, but not in all stores…they’re about $15, and can get them shipped to store for pick up, or mailed direct.
Bake for 30 min. at 350 F. Dishwasher safe.