DIY Slime

Looking for a great rainy day activity? DIY slime is sure to keep your kiddos busy when they can’t get outside for the day. It’s sensory play and when you add things to the slime, it’s perfect for imaginative play!

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DIY Polymer Clay Pens

 Last Christmas (“I gave you my hearrt!”) I had an obsession with polymer clay. I made some ring dishes, Christmas ornaments, thought about jewelry (probably the only craft I haven’t done). So I have tons of it in my craft room.

I also love pens. I think I pick some up each time I go to the office supply store. Pencils too. I saw somewhere that you could put polymer clay onto pens, bake them, and bam. You have these super cute pens!

*Polymer clay
*Ballpoint pens (where you can remove the ink)
*Sharp knife
*Wax paper
*Cookie sheet
*Aluminum foil

First you need to choose the colors you want to use for your pens. I had Dylan choose the first one so of course, it was purple. I had some clay that was already mixed together from previous projects so I used some of that or added a solid color to it also. They turned out so cool that way.

Remove the ink barrels from the pens.

I used Sculpey III clay. When you take it out of the package, it is already scored in 4 different quarters. Cut one quarter in half and start rolling it in between your hands.

You’re going to feel like it’s not getting soft, but with the heat of your hands, it will. Roll it into a “snake” (as we call it here). Make it about the length of the pen.

Now take your second color and do the same. Lay them next to each other and grab the ends.

Now twist the ends as much or as little as you want. The less you work your clay, the less intricate your designs will be (I’ll note at the end how I did each one).

After you are done twisting, roll it on the wax paper so it smooths out.

Fold it in half and twist again. Now roll it until it’s smooth. Again, the more times you twist and roll, the more intricate your design will be, so do it as much or as little as you’d like. Once you have it where you want it, roll it out to the length of about 2 pens. 

Take your super sharp knife and slice off the end; about 1/16 – 1/8 inch. Now make slices that same size of the rest of the “snake.” You should get about 2 pens worth.

Once you’re done slicing, push them onto the pen until they stick. Place them randomly along the pen. (Don’t worry about white space. We will work on getting that closed next.)

Once they’re all placed, roll the pen on the wax paper. You’ll notice that the white space gets filled in with the clay pieces.

Keep rolling until there is no white space. Lay them on the foil lined baking sheet (not touching each other) and bake them for 20 minutes at 275 (or whatever the directions say on the package). Remove from the oven and let them cool before handling.

And of course, since I’m “playing” with my clay, Dylan needs to do the same. He loves this stuff.

I am OBSESSED with how these colors came out!

These orange and red ones – the top one I twisted and smoothed out one extra time than the bottom to show you the differences.

This is from leftovers of 2 of the other ones.

The top one I didn’t twist and roll. I just sliced up a solid purple and a solid teal and placed them on the pen. The bottom one I twisted and rolled once.

This is leftover from a ring dish I did so it was already twisted and rolled and flattened, and then I twisted and rolled it once. I love how this one turned out!

This is my “bacon pen,” haha. It was a piece of red and white left over from a ring dish and then I twisted and rolled it with a pink one.

Love all these colors! You can do many colors, fancy designs, whatever! There is no right or wrong way!

DIY Baby Headband

We love headbands in our house for Reagan. I even got Dan on board with picking one out when he gets her dressed – and he’s pretty good at it!

My best friend had a baby in June and when she posted her big reveal picture of her, she had the sweetest headband on. It was tied into a perfect little knot. I knew I had to have that for Reagan!

Beautiful Baby Brooklyn! Welcome to the craziness!

So, of course, I set out to create an easy, cheap DIY. The elastic that I used can be purchased at the fabric store, but I grabbed mine at the Dollar Tree because I pretty much live there, and I didn’t need to go to the fabric store because I already had the fabric I wanted to use.

Could you die with this fabric? It was a fat quarter bundle from my new favorite fabric store – Wal-Mart! And I am obsessed with it.

Here are the elastic ties….(I just untied the knot).

These are just basic black, but if you’re looking for super cute colorful ones, look no further 😉 (Promise, it’s not a shameless plug for myself! Use coupon code UNDERCONTROL for free shipping!)

You can do this with a yard of fabric, but I wanted to do the tutorial with a fat quarter. It’s totally up to you. Here’s what you need:

*Elastic (the kind for headbands) at least 7 inches long (these are 8.5)
*2 pieces of fabric – 3.5 inches x 11 inches each (pressed and ready to go)
(Fat quarters say they’re 21 inches, but they’re 22)
*Sewing machine and all its components

So, to get that size fabric pieces, I cut one of the quarters 3.5 x 22 inches, then cut it in half.

Take one of your pieces of fabric and fold it with the right side in, long ways.

Pin it along the open side and put your last pin in about 2 inches from the end. This is where you’re going to bring your seam inward toward the fold to make the ends pointed.

Start sewing and curve in when you get to your last pin (about 2 inches from the end) and pull it in just under the corner. Back stitch over it.

Cut off the extra so it’s not keeping the inside bulky when you flip it right side out.

Flip them right side out and fold the seam about 1/4-1/2 inches in. Put 2 pins on the elastic so that you have 2.5 inches showing in the middle.

Sew along the edge to sew it shut.

Now you can decide where you want the knot at the top of the headband. Wrap it around her head and knot it. I went based off of her other headbands – they are 14 inches.

I have already made her 2! Such a fun way to get some more color into her outfit 🙂

DIY Paper Plate Bird Feeder

We have tons of critters in our backyard. Mice (shudder), chipmunks, raccoons, squirrels….and birds. OHMYGOD the birds. They are everywhere and they are always in the back. I can hear them and see them. So, in hindsight, this is probably not the best idea. But they don’t bother me. We like watching them.

I wanted to include Dylan in this because if I don’t, he comes running in halfway through and demands that he be included and he can’t believe I would do something without him! True story.

I found a 3 pound bag of bird seed at Dollar General for $2. They had bigger bags too but I knew I didn’t need that much.

The paper plate, paint, toilet paper roll and hemp cord were already in my house. So that was no problem!

I started with asking Dylan to pick 2 colors to paint the plate. He chose purple (it’s always purple) and blue. But a light purple and light blue.

The painting actually brought on a lot of conversation. He told me the paint was smooth and we talked about how mixing the 2 colors kind of looked gray. All brought on by him. He’s definitely my kid.

I let him paint the top and bottom of the plate. To be quite honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do after and how I was going to put this thing together. So while he painted, I brainstormed.

After the plate dried (we let it sit outside so it would dry faster), I took a pair of scissors and poked 4 holes around the plate.

Then I took the hemp and threaded it through the hole from the front so that it was supporting it
under. I used 2 different pieces so they crossed over on the bottom and tied up at the top.

Then with the toilet paper roll, I punched 2 holds opposite each other and measured how long the string had to be to just have it sitting on the plate. The birds will stand on the plate and eat off of the plate or the toilet paper roll.

Smear peanut butter all over the toilet paper roll.

Give your “helper” some peanut butter to snack on. Because, peanut butter.

Sprinkle some bird seed out onto a paper towel and roll the peanut butter covered toilet paper roll in the bird seed.

Re-string the roll and tie it up at the top so it sits nicely on the plate (full disclosure, mine was too short so I hung them on different branches which ended up being perfect.)

Now we sit back and watch the birds fly in for a snack!

Pantry Organization from The Dollar Tree

A while ago I did a little teaser on my Etsy Facebook page about reorganizing my pantry.

It was a waaaaaay premature post.

I was not ready.

I am really good at that. I like to get really excited about stuff, tell people, and then it fizzles out. What can I say? I get really excited when I get new ideas. Which is literally every day.

I bought the bins from the Dollar Tree to use and it was going well but then we went grocery shopping so I had to reorganize again. And again. And again.

But, here we are, months later, with a plan! And I want to share it with you.

I always saw pins on Pinterest that said “organize your entire house, car and office with 1 trip to the Dollar Store!” And with excited eyes (and probably a beer), I would click on said pin and it would do 1 of 2 things – be a dead end or take me to a blog post where I didn’t have that dollar store or they lived in Canada or not everything was from the Dollar Store or they just LIED. So I took my happy self to The Dollar Tree and got to work.

As much as I hate it, I do have a disclaimer. These stores have random bins in random colors, which is why not all of my colors are the same. I wish they were, and I strive to have them all the same colors, but I just couldn’t on my couple of trips.

So here’s a picture of my pantry…

And I’ll break down each bin I bought there (all the containers you see in here were purchased at The Dollar Tree (in Villa Park, to be exact).

First up are probably my favorite containers. They have them in 3 different sizes. These are the medium sized ones – 3 quarts. They fit an entire box of cereal or bag of pretzels / chips (right now the veggie straws have taken up residency). We buy goldfish in the big bulk box and they don’t all fit in there but after we’ve snacked on them for a few days, we can fit them all in. I just take the rest of the box and store it at the very top of the pantry with all of my extras that are not currently in use.

The next one is the rectangle boxes. I have one on the floor with fruit cups and 2 on the shelves. One holds rice and potato sides and one holds pasta. I buy mac and cheese from Costco (don’t judge) so I keep a few boxes in with the pasta and the rest up top with things that I am not currently consuming.

The 2 blue ones are stackable ones. They don’t have them online but they are in store. The top bin is candy and the bottom bin is peanut butter cracker sandwiches. We eat those on the regular here.

Then I use these for Reagan’s snacks. Anything she can have goes in this basket. I also have some in the cabinet for granola bars and one for fruit snacks.

Aren’t those purple snack cups cute?! Use coupon code “CUTECUP” in my Etsy shop for FREE SHIPPING on them!

If you actually browse the organization aisle in the Dollar Tree, you can find lots of other bins that might work for you. Just measure your shelves first before you go! 🙂

DIY Garbage Disposal Tabs

 My garbage disposal stinks. And I’m sure yours does too. If you tell me it doesn’t, I am calling you a liar.

I used to buy these little things that you drop into your disposal to make them smell fresh. But I ran out and couldn’t find them at the store anymore. I also knew I could make them at home because I have loads of baking soda (like, pounds. Thank you, Costco!) and baking soda is life when you are trying to clean at home.

I have a silicone candy cup mold that I use for home stuff (no food) so I busted that out for my molds. It has 12 cavity holes and this recipe filled it perfectly.

*1 cup baking soda
*1/2 cup salt
*3 tablespoons plain castile soap (I got mine at Target and it lasts a pretty long time)
*About 1/4 cup water
*Essential oils (I used about 15 drops of sweet orange and 15 drops of lemon)

Mix together baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl.

Add castile soap and mix well.

Add the water in tablespoon increments. I ended up using about 1/4 of a cup. You want it to be the consistency of wet sand that you can clump together. A little bit more moldable than good sand castle sand.

Add your essential oils and mix well.

Divide up the mixture into your molds (you can also put them into a tablespoon and drop them onto parchment paper).

Pack them super, super tight! The smaller you make them, the quicker they will be ready.

Let them dry in a cool, dry place. Which in Illinois in May is, like, nowhere. I made these on a rainy day so they took about 3 days to dry out completely. I put them into our spare room (which made the room smell nice and fresh!) and shut the door.

When you feel like your sink is getting smelly, just drop one in and run the disposal with hot water. I am so glad I made some to keep at home and don’t have to keep buying them from the store. They do work just as well. I store them in a mason jar (because I bought an entire case for my Memorial Day party decor) on the counter by the sink.

DIY 4th of July Party Decor

Before I get into this one, I have to confess.

These decorations were not used for a 4th of July party. They were for our Memorial Day party. Almost the same concept, right? I mean, it’s not, but the color scheme is the same.

Anyway, they were super easy and pretty cheap.

The smaller mason jars I had on hand from freecycle (if you’re not on freecycle, you should be) and the larger ones I bought (Ball jars) from Wal-Mart for less than $1 a piece. I think it was $10 for a box of 12.

For the sand layered candles, I just bought 3 containers of sand at Hobby Lobby and layered them in the jars. Also, a tip about buying colored sand from Hobby Lobby – I am not sure if craft sand ever goes on sale, but the wedding sand does and it is exactly the same thing, but cheaper if it’s on sale. So if it’s wedding sale week, check out the wedding aisle first. This also goes the same for other wedding stuff – ribbon, tulle, organza bags, table runners, etc. Always check the wedding aisle first. You’re welcome.

The candles were bought from Wal-Mart – also super cheap; and the hemp cord was brought up from my basement. Like most of my craft items. It is a mini Hobby Lobby down there, I kid you not.

When you layer your sand, be careful not to let it brush up against the side. It will stick. Then you’ll have to brush it down with a paint brush or pastry brush. I didn’t brush mine down because I didn’t realize it rubbed on the side until after I added the white. And I used all my sand. So once you start this, you can’t start over.

Then I just plopped the tea light candles in and tied the hemp cord on. Storing these bad boys until next year’s party is going to be a pain because you really can’t shake them up. Right now they’re just sitting in a spare room in the basement.

For the utensil jars, I found some ribbon at Wal-Mart (their craft section is awesome) and just hot glued each layer to the next. So simple!

I plan on reusing these every year for our Memorial Day party. The table cloth was just 2 yards of fabric (from Wal-Mart!) that my talented mommy added more fabric to and give it some extra length.

Pipe Cleaner Fishing

As I’ve mentioned in posts before, I have a difficult time getting Dylan to write his letters. I gave up when he started preschool and just let them take care of it. Then I made his letter flip book and the interest peaked. I thought I would continue by giving him some more fine motor activities to strengthen those muscles, thinking maybe writing just makes him uncomfortable.

Enter pipe cleaners!

Pipe cleaners are so versatile. You can bend them into any shape, which means you can make this activity suit your needs and your little ones’ interests. Dylan is really into fish animals right now (his favorite thing to do is “ask google” to show him pictures of underwater sea life.) Not on the computer – we have to physically ask google on my phone to pull pictures up for him. But don’t worry, all the sharks are “friendly.”

I grabbed a basket from the basement (because when we moved and unpacked I realized I had A TON) and a bag of pipe cleaners. I bent the pipe cleaners into different fish shapes and took one pipe cleaner and bent the end so we had a fishing pole.

Here is my shark:

And here is my whale:

And then I just let Dylan (or in this case, Batman) go to town. He loved dipping the pole into the basket and pulling up different kinds of fish.

If your focus is letters, you could bend the pipe cleaners into letters. Or shapes. Or numbers. Really anything!