Rice Packs

I don't know how we would have survived the little bumps and boo boos of the toddler years without a couple of rice packs in the freezer. In my opinion, rice packs are better than ordinary ice packs. They can be used to cool, but not freeze, bruised knees or a feverish forehead or warmed in the microwave to provide relief from cramps and sore muscles.

Rice packs can be made with just about any lightweight fabric you have a few scraps of. It's also fine to vary the size, if you choose. For now, I am going to show you how to make four rice packs with a used, soft t-shirt, some velcro, and of course, rice.

Materials


  • A clean, used, plain colored, adult t-shirt (make sure there is no screen printing on the shirt)
  • Cutting mat
  • Rotary cutter
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • 4 - 5/8 inch wide x 4 inch long strips of sew-on Velcro (the matching loop and hook sides are 1 strip)
  • Sewing machine
  • thread
  • 40-60 ounces of uncooked rice

Directions


Fold the t-shirt in half lengthwise on your cutting mat. Make sure it is smoothed out and there are no hidden wrinkles.








Use your rotary cutter to remove the hem of the shirt.









Cut two 5-inch strips from the shirt. Unfold the strips.









Lay one of the strips flat on the cutting mat. Cut off the seams on each side of the strip, making two 5 x 14 inch rectangles. Repeat for the second strip. You should now have four 5 x 14 inch rectangles.








For the rest of the directions, make sure you do each step with all four rectanges of fabric.


Lay your fabric right side down on an ironing board. Fold each of the short ends in 1/4 inch, press and pin. Sew down each of the ends with a 1/8 inch allowance.








Position the Velcro so that the hook side is centered on the wrong side of one end of the fabric and the loop side is on the other and pin it down. Stitch around each piece of Velcro to secure it.

















Fold your fabric in half with right sides together. Pin the sides. Stitch each side with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.








Trim the seam allowance on either end of the Velcro to about 1/8 inch.

Turn your work right side out. Fill each pack with 10-15 ounces of rice. Secure the Velcro and place your rice packs in the freezer so they are ready when you need them.





When you want to warm the packs, place them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time until they reach the desired temperature.

If they start getting a little dingy, empty the rice into a bowl, wash and dry the covers, refill them with the rice, and toss them back in the freezer.

Next time someone needs a little soft, cool comfort for their boo boo, you'll be ready.

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Glass Engraving

Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending.
-Author Unkown

Engraving is a simple and inexpensive way to personalize items. You could commemorate an event, like a wedding or birthday, or just make a fun home decor item with your favorite quote. Another idea is to engrave your New Year's resolutions onto a champagne bottle.

If you can use a pen, you can engrave. Seriously. For this project, we'll be engraving a quote on a wine bottle that can be hung on the wall.

Materials


  • Clean, dry wine bottle with a hole drilled on the back (How to Drill Through Glass)
  • Tape Measure
  • Quote printed on paper
  • Carbon paper
  • Scissors
  • Ball point pen
  • Tape
  • Safety glasses
  • Towel
  • Pen Engraver

Directions


First, a bit about engraving pens.  I bought my engraving pen at Michael's. It looked kind of chincy but after giving it a try I fell in love. It was inexpensive, it's cordless, it only takes two AAA batteries and it is very easy to handle. You could also try the General Tools 505 Cordless Precision Engraver with Diamond Tip Bit available on Amazon. It looks like a comparable item.





Let's get started. Begin by measuring the engraving area on your wine bottle. Remember, you don't want to engrave over the seams. On my bottle, the area I wanted to engrave on was about 4 x 6 1/2 inches.

You can use a word processing program to print a quote or other words that fit into that area. Pick a nice font and position your words the way you like. If you want, you can use same quote I did. "Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending."

Print your words and cut the paper the same size as your engraving area. Cut a piece of carbon paper the same width as the words you are using.

Prepare your work surface by covering it with a large towel. This will help keep things clean by catching the bits of glass dust produced when engraving.





Position the carbon paper and tape it to your bottle.









Position the words you will be engraving and tape them to your bottle.









Trace over your pattern with a ball point pen.









Remove the pattern and carbon paper.










Before you start engraving, put on your safety glasses. You don't want any glass dust getting into your eyes. Ouch!

As you engrave, you need to be careful not to wipe off your carbon pattern. I do this by starting my work at the bottom of the bottle and working right to left, bottom to top.

For thicker embellishments I start by engraving the outline and will go back later to fill them in.




Hold the engraving pen at a slight angle, push the button and begin. You don't need to press down on the engraver any harder than you would if you were writing with a pen. You can blow off the glass dust as you go if it starts to cover your pattern.







Here's how mine looked after a couple minutes.










Continue engraving your letters and outlining the embellishments.

Once you are done with this part you can go ahead and wipe the dust and what's left of your carbon pattern onto the towel.









This is a great time to take a break. Your hand is probably a little tired, and your engraving pen may be getting warm.

After your break, fill in the embellishments by using small strokes to color in the empty space. Filling in larger areas makes a lot of dust, so you will need to stop frequently and wipe the dust on the towel so you can see what sections still need to be filled.

Once the embellishments are filled, you may want to go back and engrave over your letters one more time. It adds a little more depth to your work and improves the contrast between the engraving and the glass color.



When your engraving is complete, wash all the dust and carbon off your bottle to leave it sparkling clean. Now, you are just a hammer and nail away from displaying your awesome work on the wall. Enjoy your personalized creation, or pass it on to a good friend as a gift!

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How to Drill Through Glass

Glass bottles are such a versatile medium. You can use them to decorate in so many ways both inside and out. I had a couple projects in mind where I would need to drill a hole into a bottle. Unfortunately, I kept having visions of the glass shattering everywhere and the mess and injuries that I would have to endure. So, I was a little hesitant.

But the creative bug bit me and I had to figure out how to do this. It's actually not as hard or scary as I expected, and with a little practice, I am getting pretty good at it.

Materials

  • Clean glass bottle
  • Electric drill
  • Diamond tip glass drill bit
  • Safety glasses
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Non-slip mat or a small towel
  • Packaging Tape
  •  Painters Tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Sand paper (optional)

 

Directions


Before you begin, remember to practice common sense safety guidelines. Always wear your safety glasses when drilling glass. It's also a good idea to wear a long sleeve shirt and pants.

Start by inserting your drill bit. I used a half inch bit, but diamond bits are available in different sizes. Just check and make sure the bit you are using is designed for drilling glass.

Set up by placing something soft like a towel or non-slip mat (like you might use in a kitchen drawer to keep utensils from sliding) on your work surface. It will help keep the bottle from rolling, absorb some of the pressure from drilling, and collect the small bits of glass dust and debris that are produced when drilling.

Next, position the bottle on the mat.




Stick a couple small strips of painters tape in the approximate location of where you would like the hole to be placed. Make sure you will not be drilling over the seam of the bottle. I've never tried drilling on the seam, but it seems more likely for the bottle to break or shatter if you drill there.






With a permanent marker, draw the location of your hole onto the painters tape.









Secure the bottle to your work surface with packaging tape. This keeps the bottle from rolling while you drill. I use a piece of tape along the neck of the bottle and a piece across the bottom portion of the bottle. You will be using both hands to work the drill, so you don't want the bottle rolling around.






Use the spray bottle to mist the area where you will be drilling.










It's time to drill the hole. Start slow.

With the drill at a slight angle and running at a slow speed begin drilling the lower part of the hole. gradually tip the drill so that the bit is perpendicular to the bottle. I think it works best to have the drill running before it touches the bottle.







Once the hole is started, stop the drill, lift it from the surface, and mist the surface with water again. It is important to keep the area where you are drilling wet.

Place the drill back into position and continue drilling. You can gradually increase the drill speed. Remember to use light pressure on the drill. You don't need to press it very hard onto the bottle. It's okay to stop and mist the bottle if you need to.

You will be able to tell when you are almost through the bottle by the sound of the bit on the glass. It will start to get more high pitched.

After you have completed drilling, you can remove the packaging tape and painters tape. Pour the round piece of glass out of the bottle. Carefully flush the bottle and the area around the hole with water until all the glass dust has been washed away. Use a thick rag to dry around the hole in case any glass bits remain.





If you need to, you can use a small piece of sandpaper to smooth the area around the hole.









You can hang a bottle (or three) on the wall to use as a wall vase.

But why stop there? Watch for my next post which will be about glass engraving. If you can use a pen, you can engrave glass. You will be surprised at how easy it is to produce a beautifully engraved glass bottle suitable for display on your wall.

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The Studio Project - Finale

It's almost time for the big reveal. Before I show you the completed room, let's get caught up on the cost so far. My goal was to turn this small (approximately 100 square foot) guest room into a useable studio space for $500-750. My final additions to the studio were a leather chair, a work table, and seating for the table.

The chair was tricky. I wanted something armless for when I am knitting or crocheting. It also had to be small enough and a neutral color so that I could slide it into another room when necessary. Finally, I needed something affordable. After looking at our few local furniture stores and outlets and scouring the internet, I purchased a nice, dark brown leather chair from overstock.com for $140, that included shipping. What a great deal!

I also needed a sturdy folding table to work at. I was looking for something strong enough draw and sew at. The folding part is a must, too, because this room will still be used for guests. When that happens, the table will get stashed in a closet or under a bed. Believe it or not, I got the table from a restaurant supply site, instawares.com, for $125, including shipping.

As luck would have it, I already had a chair that fit perfectly at my new table. An extra chair from my dining set has been stored in my daughter's room. Now it's part of the studio and will go back to the dining room when we need to extend the table for guests.

So the grand total:

Storage - $195
Window Coverings - $37
Leather Chair - $140
Folding Table -  $125

Grand Total - $497

Enjoy touring my new studio.

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McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park


ALL ABOARD!

Before we head back to school next week, my family had a chance to spend a long weekend in Scottsdale. It was a nice escape filled with great dining, swimming, major league baseball, relaxing and even some back-to-school shopping.

One of my favorite stops in Scottsdale is the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. We stumbled across this park a few years ago and try to visit whenever we are in the area. It's not a place you would expect to discover nestled among the fancy resorts and high-end shopping that Scottsdale is known for.

I'm not a train buff, but I can't help but enjoy a stop at The Railroad Park. It's a unique experience sure to delight anyone from 1-100. It is meticulously maintained. There is plenty of open space for little ones to run around and play (and maybe even chase some of the resident bunnies.) If that's not enough, there are walking paths, playgrounds, and picnic areas. But it doesn't stop there. The park is also home to some amazing trains, models, memorabilia, a carousel, and a train ride for all ages. To top it all off, the park also has an adorable old fashioned ice cream shop. Yum!

Every time we have visited this park, we have made some exciting new discovery. This time it was the miniatures that were displayed in one of the building's windows. My pictures hardly do these models justice. The craftsmanship was fantastic. Each scene was incredibly detailed. We were all pretty sure the person who built these must have had a dog, a schnauzer to be precise, because each scene contained the cute little dog.

Now, I love crafting. I enjoy every stitch and every second that goes into creating something by hand. With that in mind, the time and effort that go into miniature making amazes me. The people that build these things are quite talented and must have a degree of patience that I can only imagine.

So if you are ever in the Scottsdale area and looking for some inexpensive entertainment, try the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Next stop FUN!

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Sun Catcher Flowers

My last post was about how to make Crazy Daisies with yarn. I thought I would share another craft you can make with a bloom loom. These fun little flowers are made with wire instead of yarn. They look great in potted plants, inside or out. I even made some for favors at a baby shower.

Materials

  •  Bloom Loom (Get this in the yarn section of your local hobby store)
  • 18 gauge galvanized steel wire (You can get a roll of this at the hardware store for less than $10)
  • Wire cutters
  • Round-nosed pliers
  • glass gems
  • silicon adhesive

Directions


It doesn't matter where you start on the bloom loom. The basic idea is that you wrap the wire around an inner then the corresponding outer peg to make the petals. everything is worked in a counter-clockwise motion.

It's easiest to work from the roll of wire and not cut it until your flower is complete.

You'll want to leave about 7 or 8 inches of wire for the stem. Bend the wire around an inner peg and the corresponding outer peg and back up to the inner peg. Make sure to pull the wire tightly and try to press the wire down onto the loom as much as possible as you work. Yay! You just made one petal.





Bend the wire around the next inner peg to the left, then the outer peg and back to the inner peg. Now you have two petals.








Do it again. Bend the wire around the next inner peg to the left, then the outer peg and back to the inner peg. Great! Three petals.








Continue in this manner until you have made 8 petals. After you have completed the 8th petal bend the wire towards the outer peg and cut it near the outer peg.








Carefully remove your flower from the loom.









Trim the end of the wire (not the stem) so it is about 1/2 - 3/4 inch long.









Using the round-nosed pliers, make a small loop where you just cut the wire.


Gently pull the loop around where the stem and first petal meet. You may need to twist the loop slightly. Tighten the loop so your flower is secure.

This is a great time to straighten out the stem and gently adjust any of the petals if you need to.

Pick two gems that are about the same size and color. Lay one with the rounded surface face down. Set your flower over the gem so it is positioned at the center of the flower.







Use silicon adhesive to stick the flat side of the second gem to the flat side of the first gem so they are secured on either side of your flower.


Whenever the glue is dry, you can plant your sun catcher flowers for a little sparkle.

One variation is to wrap the wire twice around each set of pegs. This looks cool, but it's a little trickier. You will need to leave 3/4 - 1 inch at the end of these flowers to make your final loop.

Another variation is to use silicone adhesive to attach a 3/4 inch magnet on the back of the flower and a gem to the front. Cut the stem to about 4-5 inches and curl it up for a pretty magnetic memo holder.


Don't forget to water the garden!

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