To be totally honest, I’m not a big bath and body person. In fact, I don’t even like baths. They make me tired. Yesterday I was watching RV tour videos (more details on our RV move soon!) and a lot of people had installed door organizers for their bathrooms. I thought, well, that’s one less thing that I need because I make my own shampoo, deodorant, detergent and some other things. I don’t wear makeup. If I do it’s mascara and chapstick, the only makeup I own. I just like to keep it simple.
However, I had three boxes of tea that I didn’t like. I tried them out and, while I loved the smell, I didn’t love the taste. Plus I want to switch back to loose leaf tea only. So I tried to think of ways to use up the tea and decided on the ever popular scrub. I’ll be using the scrub on my feet because frankly, I don’t take care of my feet all that well. They’re often dirty from walking outside barefoot and a bit rough around the edges. So I concocted a way to use up what I didn’t want to go to waste. Here is my recipe for an orange (because I had an old orange sitting out) green tea scrub.
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons Epsom salt
10 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup
3 green tea bags
1.5 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tsp lemon extract (I used my homemade lemon extract)
orange zest (optional)
Just mix everything together. Make sure to open the tea bags and dump them in. And scrub, scrub, scrub.
Made myself a quilted and zippered laptop sleeve for my Macbook Pro. The outer is quilted floral scrap fabric that I got for $1 at a vintage shop. The inside liner was a bed sheet that was outside of a thrift store in a box labeled ‘free.’ So I snagged them both, washed them, got some batting (turns out batting isn’t cheap), a zipper and stayed up until 1 am sewing like a madwoman. I’m so happy to now have something to protect my laptop and be proud of.
Went to my first ever corn maze, a five acre Willie Nelson themed one. We had the option of using handouts as guides. But me, I wanted to get lost. And that is just what I did. At one point I was busy oogling the many grasshoppers that I lost Matt. Maybe once we get our RV we’ll make it out to Cool Patch Pumpkins in Dixon, CA which has a 45 acre corn maze!
Stopped to smell the roses. No, really. Saw a random bush, pulled the car over and inhaled their simple beauty.
Curled up with Dexter and watched The Way Way Back (loved it!). Writing a lot. Enjoying the 70 degree tank and sandals weather with some open windows. Well, the weekend isn’t quite over and I have a few more things I’m itching to do.
Speaking of creativity, I want to share some ways I am able to stick to my budget and monthly allowance of $50 while still being crafty.
1. Used Bed Sheets - Fabric can be expensive. Save some money by purchasing used bed sheets from the thrift store, estate sales, or garage sales. All of the sheets in the first picture were $2 or less. Some were large dresses, which are nice because then you can reuse the zippers, buttons, and other parts. White sheets are great because they are blank slates that you can make your own.
2. Branch Buttons - I do a variety of things with branches (which is why my future shop is called A Fallen Branch) but one thing I do is make wood buttons. Simply use a hack saw and a drill for the holes. Voila, buttons.
3. Stuffing - This one may be controversial but I’m putting it out there anyway. Stuffing is also very expensive. One day I saw a couch near the trash. It was missing some pillows but in good condition. So I went back, got some reusable bags and my Gerber knife and cut the couch, pulling out all the stuffing. If it was raining, the couch looked gross or smelled of smoke then I wouldn’t do that. I think we forget how much fabric protects what’s inside and that our handy dandy eyeballs can check for bedbugs. I did get a few looks, cutting open a couch, but I do now have 8 full bags of fresh looking stuffing to make some pillows with.
4. Repurpose - What do they say, ‘one person’s trash is another’s treasure.’ When you see something by the trash ask, can you break it down and use the parts? Fix it up? Or heck, resell it and use that money for craft supplies? The fourth image is the tray I use for my laptop when I’m in bed. I took the top of a tv tray, sanded it, sealed it and now have myself the perfect sized repurposed tray for my laptop.
5. Work with Nature - Similar to the tree branch, one of my favorite necklaces was made using an acorn I found. I love collecting acorns. Not that long back I collected feathers and plan on doing a project with them. Nature inspires me. I get out every day, otherwise I feel a bit disconnected, and have come to love the beauty of working with it.
There are loads more ways to save and I hope to share some more projects in the future doing so! I also realize that all of these suggestions are repurposing, but I wanted to get specific on some.
Every now and then I like to share how to make things I enjoy creating. Well, one of my beginning posts on this blog was a look back at some past projects I’ve done, which featured my first wood burned project (and still my favorite). I want to introduce you to the world of pyrography (translated to fire writing, also known as wood burning).
I’ve made tons of wood burned brooches (and I’ll talk more on that at the end) but after many requests, I’m going to show you how. So if you want to sport your favorite character, quote, book, show, your love of nature or whatever your heart desires, you can!
A wood pog │A practice piece of wood (see the one with markings in the image above)│A pyrography tool (I use this one, which you can find at Joann’s for half the price with a coupon- always use a coupon at Joann’s)│Pyrography tips and metal holder (they come with the set if you buy it)│Container for hot tips (I highly suggest ceramic- I use that white bowl I got for free)│Tracing paper│A piece of foam with a hole the shape of your pog cut out│Scissors│Tape│Pin backing│E-6000 Glue
Note: Skip Steps 1-9 if you are drawing your design directly onto the wood before burning. These steps are just for transferring your design.
STEP 1 : Using your tracing paper, pencil and pog – trace around your pog on your paper. This is to let you know how much space you have to work with for your design.
STEP 2: Draw your design and then erase that circle you drew.
STEP 3: Select a flat tip. Starter kits generally come with two types of flat tips, either will do. Screw it on, plug your pyrography tool in and let it heat up. It should take a couple of minutes.
STEP 4: Scan your image into Photoshop
STEP 5: Darken it by going to Image ->Adjustments-> Levels. Once in Levels move the bar over to the right until it’s nice and dark but not blotchy.
STEP 6: Flip the image (especially if you are doing words). We are doing this because we’ll be transferring the image onto the wood. To do this go to Image -> Image Rotation -> Flip Canvas Horizontal
*If you don’t have Photoshop, any photo editing software will work that will allow you to darken and flip it. I darken it so that it’s more likely to transfer.
Now you are going to transfer your design onto the wood. This makes it easier for your wood burn to be accurate.
STEP 7 : Print out the image you scanned and edited (using an inkjet printer). I recommend printing it out on tracing paper because if you use thicker paper it will likely not transfer and will just burn the paper. Also, it allows you to see through a bit so you are aligning it over the wood properly. Then put a piece of tape at the top of your printed design and put your pog in the hole you made in your foam. This hole is meant to keep it in place so that there is no smudging during the transfer.
STEP 8 : Using your heated pyrography pen, lightly press and do circles on the image so that it starts to heat transfer. I recommend doing one press on your scrap pog/wood because it’s going to be very hot.
STEP 9 : With one finger holding the back, peel it back to see how much has transferred. Then go over it until enough is transferred to burn.
That’s what your pogs should look like after transferred. It won’t look perfect but it will give you enough on to have a nice base for burning.
Okay, ready to burn?
STEP 10 : Switch to your classic tip. It’s a tip that comes with every kit out there and looks like a crease. Use that to wood burn all outlines and lines in general.
STEP 11 : Switch to your rounded tip to do filler and shading.
:: GENERAL WOOD BURNING TIPS ::
When switching tips (this is very important) make sure that you let the pyrography pen cool down all the way, then switch. I unplug it between switches. I once read an ‘expert’ say that you can use pliers to take the tip off when hot and switch it. I did that and it killed the inside of my tool, and so I had to get another one if I was going to keep wood burning.
Before you put your pen to the wood, always test it on a piece of wood. The tool cools down when used so when unused it’s really hot.
Once you put the pen to the wood, try what they call the ‘landing method,’ where you lightly touch and then glide. This is to prevent globs.
The longer the line you are burning, the quicker the pen is going to cool down. So you are constantly going to be gliding the pen and lifting, gliding and lifting. Every time you lift it regains its heat.
Be patient- Pyrography is not a quick, throw together project.
I recommend wood burning pens that let you adjust the heat. I’d avoid ones that have only one setting. However, once I do find my setting, I put tape over the adjuster so that it doesn’t move when I’m burning.
STEP 12 : The final step is to make it a pin. E-6000 is probably the most popular jewelry and accessories’ glue. Take your glue and put it on the back of the pin. Make sure the pin works first. Then, making sure your pin is in the position you’d like it, push the pin on with the glue. I smudge it around a bit because no one’s looking at the back and we want to make sure it’s nice and secure. Let it dry and voila, a brooch!
Like I mentioned, I’ve done a lot of these. That’s because I started an Etsy shop a while back dedicated to ‘geeky’ wood burned pins. I only kept it open for four months but either way it was a blast filling orders. Below are just some of the ones I made from Dexter to How I Met Your Mother quotes.
Whew. That was a lot of steps. Even with all of those steps, do not be intimated. Anyone can wood burn. There are masters of this craft doing some really neat things. Give them a look up, but if you want something simple to share with the world, go for it!
And here are one of the pins in action. ^__^
Some other uses for a pin/brooch are on bags, on a hat, tie, to hold together a scarf (instead of a knot) and darn near anywhere else you’d like!
It’s no secret that wood is one of my favorite materials to work with. I saw, sand, stain, and wood burn. But now, I carve! Matt had a set of wood carving knives from art school. So I went at it. I had found a broken tv tray and one of the pieces of it was the perfect width for this project. So I sawed that part off (as seen in the first photo) and, over a span of a day and a half (on and off), I carved the heck out of that thing and made myself an incense holder!
I used these tools for carving, marked where I wanted to cut (as I went) with a pen and carved, switching between knives. I used 120 grit sandpaper for smoothing it out, gave it a nice groove down the middle for the burned particles to fall into, drilled a hole for the incense to go through, and topped the whole thing off with a clear sealant. My knives are now dull and I’m looking to get a curved knife for a project I have in mind, as well as sharpen the ones I used. Oh I just love learning new things! I was going to wood burn a design on top of it but I decided to keep it Plain Jane because I liked it like that.
I also went with all natural, chemical free incense. Sometimes incense irritate me and are too smokey, though I love their smell, but I found that putting it up high somewhere reduces irritatation while still getting the smell and ambiance.
I’ve recently become a lover of old postcards. Ever since I found this little corner of history in an antique mall in Austin, I fell in love. I’d just sit down and flip through thousands of postcards, as hours passed me by. It’s not about the thing, the postcards themselves. It’s about the stories they tell. They inspire. They bring back. They give us a glimpse into the past and what life was like ‘back when.’ My favorites are postcards of painted places. And so I’m going to share a tutorial with you for making postcard pendants. Maybe you have a favorite place, a dream destination. With this tutorial, you’ll be able to wear that place around your neck as constant inspiration for dreaming big.
Hammer │ Chisel │Mod Podge – Dimensional Magic │Postcards│Scissors│Necklace Supplies │An old pendant (either earrings or a necklace pendant will work – preferably used, so as to upcycle and make use of what is already available) │A pin
STEP 1 : Peruse through and pick out your favorite postcards.
STEP 2 : Find an old pendant. It can be in the form of earrings (which are great because then you can make two necklaces) or a necklace. I found these at a local thrift shop. The best places are thrift shops, garage sales, estate sales and Craigslist. As with all of my tutorials, everything is as repurposed as possible.
STEP 3 : Use your chisel and hammer and gut out the inside. Just make sure it’s as flat as possible. You’re not always going to be able to get all of it out though, and that’s okay.
STEP 4 : Pick out a spot that you want to use in your post card for the pendant. Here is a trick (which I didn’t include in the supplies because it’s optional) – create a stencil for the shape you need. I found an old plastic bottle and cut my needed shape out of it. Clear is best because then you can be sure what you are cutting out is what you want.
STEP 5 : Cut out your piece and put it in the pendant. If it’s nice and snug, then it may be fine. But just in case, use some glue to get it in. Otherwise it will rise and bubble when you add in the mod podge.
STEP 6 : Take your dimensional mod podge and slowly fill the pendent, covering the image completely. Use the pin if you get any bubbles. Your finger will also suffice. It will be very fuzzy at first. Let it sit for 3 hours and you will have a clear postcard pendent, turning the discarded into the cherished.
For the curious: The other postcard I used is an old car driving down Big Foot Pass in South Dakota.
What place would you choose for a postcard pendant?
Also, after a lot of thinking and messing around with my shop website, I’ve decided to hold off on the shop for a few reasons. Mostly, I’ve had an idea for a different shop for a long time that I’m super stoked about and I’ve decided to focus on that idea. So I’ll share that once it comes to fruition. In the meantime, I’m going to share what I hope are original and helpful tutorials. If you see what you like, I’m willing to sell them and will only charge for the cost of the items and shipping, so as to cover my costs.
I had every intention of making my first knitting project be a scarf, though I was considering doing a cowl. I was even onto my second ball of yarn and just going at it, while watching movies. I was a little less than halfway to the length I wanted, now at 24 inches long (and 10.5 inches wide). I laid it down on my desk and took a break. The next thing I knew Jasmine was on it and curled up in a ball. She has seriously only left this blanket for food, the bathroom and bedtime (when she comes to bed with us). As I write this, she is falling asleep purring on it. So I made the executive decision to let it be hers. I binded the yarn off where it was at, darned the tails and let it be Jasmine’s cat bed/blanket. I do just love how it turned out and think I did a damn good job for being my first knitting project. I even kept even tension throughout.
I’m not sure what I’ll knit next. I have quite a few things on my list and a scarf still is one, though I think I’ll do a skinnier one this time. The one I was working on was thirty stitches wide and was a bit too wide for a scarf. This project was using just the knit stitch, though I did learn the purl stitch and will be using purl in some future projects.
Boy, for a minimalist who has sold and donated nearly all of our stuff lately and with the intention of having everything but necessities gone come RV time, most of my posts have involved making things. At least they were using things I already had, give or take. I just really love to learn new skills.
And yay for happy cats and wonderful businesses like Stitch Lab, who taught me how to knit!
Hi, I'm Aubrey, a small town girl looking to travel the country in an RV, with my husband, four cats, few possessions, daily cup of tea, a heart for adventure ,while reading, writing fiction and living simply.