Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Uses for Old Broomsticks!

I picked up a few old magazines from the 1920's the other day for $0.55 cents each at the thrift store, thinking the pages and ads may be fun material to decoupage or make other things with.  Just had to share this little article on "New uses for old broomsticks!"

Whether we call it "recycling," "upcycling," "repurposing," "re-using," or "DIY," it's not a new idea! Too bad so many brooms are made from metal tubes now...a lot harder for the average person to convert into something else!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DIY Scrabble Serving Tray

Just thought I'd share another little project I finished recently...a scrabble themed serving tray!  This will be a Christmas gift to my Grandma, who is both an excellent hostess and Scrabble player, so I think it will fit her well.  Luckily she does not have a computer so I can share this with all of you before Christmas.  ;-)

I picked up this perfect serving tray for $4.99 at Saver's a few weeks ago.  I considered this one perfect for this project for a couple reasons...1) The tray itself is flat, 2) The plastic handles are easily remove-able with a couple screws. I have been scouring the thrift stores for weeks to find an old Scrabble game with no luck...until last weekend when I stopped by a garage sale and found one for $0.25 cents.  Score!!

After giving the tray a good cleaning, I un-screwed and removed both of the plastic handles, with plans to replace them with something more fitting later...

I spread some glue around and stuck down all of the letters.  This tray held one entire game's worth of Scrabble tiles.

Here they sat to dry.

 Next, I thought it would be fun to use the old wood letter trays as new handles.  So, I measured and marked the tray off of the existing plastic handles, and cut them apart with my coping saw.

 Be sure to pre-drill the holes so you don't split the wood when you attach these.

 Once the holes were drilled, I screwed them into place...I think it added a cool touch! 

If you have enough letter tiles left, it may be fun to glue a few into the tray on the handle too.  Maybe even spell something fun.

 The next day, after the glue was really dry, I mixed up a batch of EnviroTex Lite resin to pour over the whole thing.  It's the same stuff I used on the top of my train table.

 I used a wooden paint stir stick to mix the resin and then to help spread it across the tray, making sure all of the tiles were covered.

 As it dries, check on it every few minutes, and exhale over any bubbles that come to the surface...the carbon dioxide makes them pop so you have a crystal clear coating!

Aaaaand, we're done!  Pretty fun project!  If you didn't want to use clear resin, you could also grout it like a mosaic which would also look very cool.  I'd recommend sealing the tiles in a clear varnish before applying any grout, to ensure that they wipe clean and the wood grain doesn't hold onto any haze from the grout.

So there you have it...one Christmas present down, many more to go!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cool Water Bottle Wreath from "Michele Made Me"

Check out this great wreath, made from plastic water bottles!!  Nice work, Michele! :-)  I just stumbled on her blog and will be adding it to my list of favorite links for sure!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Favorite Toy List - 2010

A couple years ago I posted my list of favorite toys, and now that I look back on it, I realize my 2 year old has most of the items on the list!  I have a few more new finds this year that I'm going to put on my list of great toy ideas.  With one child's birthday the day after Christmas and the other's in January, I tend to start my shopping very early to spread out the expense!  It's not often that I buy expensive toys for my boys, because we do so much garage saleing and thrifting throughout the year. But, when Christmas and birthdays come around, that's where I prefer to splurge and buy good, quality toys that I know are going to be around for years to come.

Here are a few toys on my list so far for this year! I'm using a lot of Amazon linked images here so hopefully they work...if not I've tried to include links to the original manufacturer's websites as well.

The constraints of gravity go out the window for your little architect with these little blocks from Tegu which have magnets hidden inside.

The Discovery Set - Tegu Magnetic Wooden Building BlocksThe Original Set - Tegu Magnetic Wooden Building BlocksMahogany Discovery Set - Tegu Magnetic Wooden Building Blocks

HaPe International has some really neat vehicles, made out of bamboo.  I just love how the shape of the bamboo is still present, yet they look like really cool, modern designs.  I already bought a couple of these for my youngest and am stashing them away for a few months until his birthday!
 Hape International Bamboo E-PlaneHape International Bamboo E-TruckHape International Bamboo E-OffRoaderHaPe International E-Racer Suzuka - Green

HaPe also has some really cool doll houses with adorable furniture sets:
Hape Hape Bamboo Sunshine Dollhouse DsHape Hape Trendy Bathroom In BambooHape Hape Trendy Nursery In BambooHape Hape 7 Member Modern Doll Family

Their other brand, WoodyClick, has more really cute construction sets and other wooden vehicles:
WoodyClick Construction System, Construction BobcatWoodyClick Construction System, Construction Dump TruckWoodyClick Construction System, Police HelicopterWoodyClick Construction System, Fire Ladder Truck
I'm such a sucker for wooden toys!! I snatch them up whenever I see them at garage sales.

I've mentioned Sprig toys in my previous list.  They have a really cute dolphin adventure playset now with a little boat.
Sprig Toys Adventures Dolphin Adventure Playset

These "Scanimation" books by Rufus Butler Seder are very cool.  We have the "Gallop" one and there are many more out there now.  The animals move when you turn the pages.  Here is a YouTube video, since it really can't be described without a visual.
Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture BookWaddle!: A Scanimation Picture Book (Scanimation Picture Books)Star Wars: A Scanimation Book: Iconic Scenes from a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

If plush toys are your thing, these Ze Super Zeros toys are super adorable, quirky, and creative!
Ze Super Zeros Zonk The Monkey Plush ToyZe Super Zeros Zipo The Hippo Plush ToyZe Super Zeros Zola The Koala Plush ToyZe Super Zeros Zaza The Mouse Plush ToyZe Super Zeros Zebu The Zebra Plush Toy

Ze Super Zeros Zoco The Crocodile Plush Toy

MiYim also makes some really sweet little organic soft toys, teethers, and blankies perfect for babies on your shopping list.
miYim Organic Plush Fairytale Collection - 9" Baby Fred the MonkeyMiyim Simply Organic Lovie Blankie, Giraffe, 0-3 MonthsMiyim Simply Organic Knit Rattle Teether, Bear, 0-3 MonthsmiYim Organic Plush Storybook Collection - 11" Victoria the Bunny (Pink)

Puzzles are a hit in our house.  I like the idea behind these layered puzzles, where you actually stack the pieces on top of each other.  Learn what's inside your body, how a tadpole grows to be a frog, or even how a baby grows in it's mother's tummy!
Beleduc From Egg to Frog 5-Layer PuzzleBeleduc Wooden 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle, Butterfly Life-Cycle PuzzleBeleduc Your Body - Boy 5-Layer PuzzleHape Beleduc Your Body - Girl 5 - Layer Wooden PuzzleBeleduc / 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle 'Mother Body'Beleduc Your Body - Boy 5-Layer PuzzleHape Beleduc Your Body - Girl 5 - Layer Wooden PuzzleBeleduc / 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle 'Mother Body'Beleduc / 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle 'Mother Body'

Mindware is one of my favorite toy sites/catalogs to browse. There are a ton of cool toys there that will be more appropriate for my boys when they are a little older.  But, these puzzles caught my eye too, as being another twist on your average puzzle, in that they can be assembled in multiple ways, leaving some room for your child's own creativity.  There is a bug and a robot, which is convenient for me, being that we have a kid with a bug themed bedroom and a kid with a space/robot bedroom!

Can you tell I have a thing for wood toys? I think it may be the industrial designer in me who just can't get enough of toys that embrace raw materials.  I just find them refreshing in today's sea of roto-molded plastic toys that seem to get bigger and of of less quality as time passes! That's it so far for my list, but I'm sure I'll come across more fun toys between now and Christmas that I'll be sure to share.   In the meantime, let me know if you have any of these, if you like them, or if you have any other cool favorites!
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