Category Archives: Free

March Blooms

Bradford Pear

Just had to stop and capture the beautiful Bradford Pear trees in bloom at the city complex in Grapevine on Sunday.

All this beauty is free, but temporary.

Blossoms were already gently falling on the breeze; it was like something described in a Jane Austen book. I took a video, but it doesn’t really capture the feeling.

Bradford Pear Blossoms

The white petals were pooling around the base of the tree.

Lovely!

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Filed under Free, Springtime, Texas

Mini Altered Book

My sister is an uncommonly thoughtful gift-giver. As a small Thank You, I made this little altered book for her a couple of years ago.
The F is for Fran and the running themes throughout the little book are the Christian faith and cats. Using black acrylic paint, I stenciled an F onto a piece of bookpage, then used a Sharpie to outline it with dashed lines. After gluing it onto cardstock, I distressed the edges in pink, as well as the edges of the whole cover. The kitties are stamped and are repeated on the back cover.


Backgrounds: magazine clipping and book page
Embellishments
Calendar – the Scripture
Magazine clippings – house, jewelry and butterfly; the stylized heart was cut out from a James Avery jewelry catalog
Stamped – the little heart, glittered swirl, girl’s face and clock
Photocopies – 1950’s girls were reduced from an old dress pattern
Sticker – cat
Misc. – swirls from a mini punch, daisies from a glitter set, vellum from a junk mail envelope, canceled postage stamp, colored paperclips

Here again, magazine pages were used for the backgrounds, as well as part of an old book page. The F was cut from a map in an old Book of Knowledge and glued onto cereal box chipboard; the pansies were from a stationery package.
Calendar – Scripture
Photocopy – little girl
Old greeting card – bird


Magazine – back of F, teapot
Stamping – cat
Calendar – Scripture
Misc. – canceled postage stamp


Magazine – Twinings tea ad, keys, cat, coffee cup
Calendar – Scripture
Sticker – cat with feathered hat


Backgrounds – jewelry/flowers from magazine; bookpage, and red cellophane from Valentine candy box
Magazine – 1950s Harlequin glasses, flower, ruby slippers, key
Catalog – jewelry from James Avery, then glittered
Stamping – You’re the cat’s meow!
Misc. – paper strip cut with decorative scissors, glitter, Kansas from Book of Knowledge


Backgrounds – gardening pages from magazine
Calendar – Scripture
Sticker – butterfly
Magazine clippings – basket of flowers, Attracting Birds and Butterflies, teapot
Stamping – cat
Misc. – canceled postage stamps


Backgrounds: magazine pages with jewelry,
Catalog – cross from James Avery, stylized flower from Avon book
Fabric – blue gingham ribbon, pinked edge drapery sample
Sticker – cat
Stamping – Everday is another chance to make your Dreams come true.
Misc. – plastic flowers, flower from old book, teapot from Bigelow tea box


Background – pink cardstock
Stamping – little girl praying, kitties
Misc. – colored paper clips, pink polka dot ribbon for binding

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Filed under Altered Books, Book Page Projects, Cats, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Faith, Free, Scripture, Thrift, Using What You Have

New Curtains

This morning I’ve renewed my efforts to do something different for our kitchen windows. For several years the kitchen theme has been a red/white/green cheerful, kind of a 40’s look. Red rick-rack and all that.

But then, as women do, I started thinking about something different. Although not something so different that would require wall painting, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – the kitchen could certainly do with a new coat of paint, but I just can’t face packing up everything and all the rest of it that goes with a painting project.

So, I’m going to be contented (for now) with new curtains, potholders, and a few other things.

Our dining table was the one that my parents bought in 1965 from a discount furniture place in Tulsa. Can you imagine yourself 46 years from now still using a table from a discount place?

I guess they don’t even make discount furniture like they used to.

Anyway, the table (which you may have seen in some of my photos under some of my projects) has a brown, woodgrain formica top with a house and trees painted in 2 opposite corners. The accent paint color is kind of an aqua.

Then our son’s girlfriend gave me a cat and fish wind chime for Christmas, which is Very nice and she really shouldn’t have spent that much money. But it is nice and I really like it. The colors are the same as in the table. So the blue/green/aqua colors of the mid-60s are what I’m going with for the new look.

To fit in with my “Using What You Have” thoughts for this year, the curtain fabric is some that my sister gave me.

Now, Don’t have a cow: it’s fleece.

I know, I know. Fleece just isn’t curtain fabric. But it is in my house.

Our kitchen windows are on the south with no shade, which is nice in January, but not in Texas in August. And the window shades just weren’t very effective, besides which, they’re shot.

My sister pointed out that fleece is too bulky to make the rod pocket, and I don’t want to do tabs, because that would let light in around the tops and I’d have to buy new curtain rods (or come up with something else), so….

I’m hand printing/stenciling cats and coffee cups in green and turquoise on a piece of old sheeting to add to the tops for rod pockets. One thing I’ve learned with using acrylic paint for fabric painting: it helps to thin it a little bit with water, but not too much. I had too much water in the mix and then had to add more paint. But with it thinned a little it helps it to look more like fabric dye than gloppy paint. I tend to buy only basic colors, so I had green, but not the turquoise. For it, I mixed the green with some dark blue, then a little white to lighten it. Amazingly enough (thank you, Lord!), it is exactly the color of the fleece.

Yesterday I tried sewing a patchwork top on, but it just didn’t look right.

We’ll see how the hand printed fabric turns out.

So far, so good.

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Filed under Crafts - Cheap, Free, Home, Kitchens, Making Do, Thrift, Thrift, Using What You Have

Household Greenery, Using What You Have

For years I’ve seen the hint in magazines and books about growing herbs and things on the kitchen windowsill, but they usually instruct one to purchase all kinds of things, like an already growing plant (have you seen the price of the potted herbs at the grocery store?). And all the special starting pots and fertilizer, etc. Not my way of doing things, so for years I didn’t even try it.

Houseplants don’t fare well in my care, so I quit buying them years ago. However, I still like them and decided to try and see what I could do with … well, with nothing fancy.

So I got to thinking about what I could do with what I already had; for instance that sack of old seed packets in the closet. (Even when I buy good quality seeds, my good intentions don’t always get me very far – like into the garden plot. But I’m too cheap to throw them away, because one never knows. Maybe they’ll grow even if they’re old. Well, they did!)

Obviously nothing was purchased for this little experiment. An empty tuna can, green beans can, a few old book pages, and some white glue. And thankfully, some leftover, good quality potting soil. Oh, yes, and lettuce seeds that were at least 5 years old.

While I honestly don’t recommend searching for outdated seeds, why not use them if they’re just sitting around?

Very pleased I was with the results!

Except that the can with the plant in it looked a little naked so I covered it with book page paper also.

Be sure to hammer a few nail holes into the taller can so it can drain.

What I learned from this step was to not cover the whole can down to the bottom with the paper. This puts it into the water line and it wicks up and stains the paper.

Voila! Edible houseplants! For free!

Update: For outdoor ideas of a similar nature, go to this post on Make Mine Beautiful. Polly is a professional and shares tons of ideas.

This post is linked to:

Food on Fridays @ annkroeker

Frugal Friday@ Life as Mom

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Filed under Book Page Projects, Free, Gardening, Home, Making Do, Thrift, Thrift, Using What You Have

Custom Made Chipboard Box (Book Page Covered)

On a recent visit, my sister left one of her alphabet rubber stamp sets. Their original box was the clear plastic kind which collapsed. I had put them into a sandwich bag, but since I’m not diligent about cleaning them after every use, they rubbed against each other and got pretty messy. Not only did they need to be thoroughly cleaned before I returned them, they also needed a new box.

First, I poured a little rubbing alchohol into a saucer and let them stand to soak off the dried ink. Then I used an old piece of cotton flannel rag (dipped in the alcohol) to clean the ink off of the wooden sides. I’m guessing that cleaning rubber stamps with alcohol is frowned upon by stampers deluxe. However, it works for me. It’s cheap, fast and it usually effective.

For the box, I realized that a macaroni and cheese box was the right depth (if laid down flat), but too long, so I emptied the macaroni into a clean jar and set aside the cheese packet.

Then I cut off the end of the box, leaving an extra 3″ (approximately) to fold back in to make the fourth side. After folding it in, I secured it with masking tape.

The lid was made with an extra piece of the box cut to width and long enough to cover the top and go over the back edge. I affixed it with masking tape, also.

Then came the fun part of cutting old book pages to cover the box, both inside and out, including the bottom of the box. Now I can’t remember if I used the JoAnn’s brand of tacky glue or the clear, fast drying Beacon’s, but it was one or the other.

To make a fastener, I punched small holes in the lid and another right below that one on the front. I threaded a bread wrapper twist-tie through the holes and then twisted the ends together.

My plan is to make a special twist-tie out of fabric for it, but I haven’t done that yet. I got the idea for the decorative twist-ties from Zakka Life. She made some from the decorative Japanese masking tape.

And speaking of cheap (this chipboard box project cost absolutely nothing), that work surface that the box is sitting on is indeed an old phone book. It’s ideal for me. When gluing, I don’t have to be too careful; if I get glue onto it (and I always do), I just tear off a page and then I have another clean, glue-free surface.

And free is a fitting word to use for this project in general.

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Filed under Book Page Projects, Crafts - Cheap, Free

“Thank You for the food we eat”: a Dick and Jane Altered Book

Mother, Jane, Father, Sally, and Dick

Dick and Jane readers were a wonderful part of my childhood – I still get such a cozy feeling just looking at them. So, when my sister, Abby and I decided to exchange little handmade Thanksgiving books last year, I chose the Dick and Jane theme for the “We Give Thanks” book I made for Fran.

Dick, Jane and Sally

Thank you for the food we eat,

Spot, Tim and Puff

Thank you for the world so sweet,

Jane, Sally and Dick

Thank you for the birds that sing,

Mother, Dick, Sally and Tim

Thank you, God, for everything.

Jane

Amen.

First I photocopied illustrations from a Dick and Jane reprint that I’d bought a few years ago at Wal-Mart (these reprints were from the 1950s’ editions). I also have 2 copies of original editions, and I wish I had used them to copy because the pictures are much better. A copy of a copy is very often not a good thing. But anyway, I selected pictures that I thought would illustrate the prayer we learned in Kindergarten at Mingo School (before our schools became so God-less).

The title “We Give Thanks” is in keeping with the Dick and Jane series, for instance, “We Work and Play”,  “We Look and See”, “We Come and Go”, etc.

To give it the feel of a board book, I made my own chipboard pages from a Coca-Cola carton. I probably should’ve rounded the edges slightly.

The background layout for the illustrations were enlarged and photocopied prose pages from the Dick and Jane books.  The edges were distressed with blue ink; brown might’ve been better.

For the prayer itself, I photocopied a page of old penmanship-style scrapbook paper. Now I realize that I could’ve bought a whole tablet of that paper at Dollar General for about $1.00.  Anyway,to get the look of children’s printing, I used a pencil in my left hand (I am right-handed). As you can see from the “Thank you God for everything” page, I accidentally wrote “Lord”. I need to fix that.

To finish, I punched 3 holes on each page and used blue gingham ribbon to bind it. On the back I used a “Handmade by” stamp and signed my name.

Now I think I’ll make one to keep for myself.

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Filed under 1950s, Altered Books, Books, Children's, Cozy, Crafts, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Faith, Free, Mingo, Thanksgiving, Thrift

Co-ordinated Bookmarks

Many of the books I read (both fiction and non-fiction) were either written in the past or are about the past. And since I’m very interested in cultural history, I like to make bookmarks that co-ordinate with the time period I’m reading about.


Last week, I re-read “Julia’s Hope”, a novel by Leisha Kelly, set in 1931.


I am currently reading “So Well Remembered” by James Hilton. It was published in 1945, but most of the story centers around 1921. When I looked in my paper stash, I found this image from a John Peacock fashion book and it just fit. The tag was one that an ebay seller enclosed with my purchase.

It’s a free craft because I use only what I already have and it adds a little extra pleasure to reading. And opening the book to a co-ordinated bookmark is a lot nicer than opening it to an old receipt or envelope (which I’ve employed many times).

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Filed under 1921, 1930s, Books, Crafts, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Fashion, Fiction, Free, Thrift, Using What You Have