How to Make a Quick Halloween Prop

We all know that the countdown to Halloween has begun, and we know that our time is sometimes limited due to our hectic schedules. But there is a quick and easy way to create an almost free Halloween prop in a few minutes. Let me show you how!


First, grab your branch cutters or a little hand saw and head out into your woods. To make this easy, look first for little branches that might be lying on the ground. If you can’t find any, which I would find it hard to believe that you couldn’t, you will need to saw or snip off a few small branches.

Carry those branches back home and snip off any little pieces of branches so you are left with just one long branch. Now carefully lean them into each other to kinda make a branch t-pee. Once you get them in a shape you like, take some jute and tie them up where all the branches meet. (I would suggest you do all of this “where” you are planning on putting this prop in your yard so you don’t have to carry it afterwards) Make sure you jam each stick a little bit into the ground for stability.

The next thing that I did was bring up one of our black witches cauldron from storage. At first, I wanted to “hang” the cauldron from the sticks, but the cauldron did not have any hooks, so I had to MacGyver something. I took one of our tomato cages and cut off the bottom section with wire cutters and placed the cauldron on top of it. THIS WORKED OUT PERFECTLY!

The next item I grabbed was some fire wood we have behind the garage and stacked them around the cauldron. This is making the effect that the cauldron is stacked on top of wood. Next, I balled up a set of white Christmas lights under the cauldron (inside the tomato cage frame) and turned them on! WOW! When I took this photograph, it actually looks like a fire underneath the cauldron.

I am going to also add an orange set of lights underneath the cauldron too, to give the “fire” a more realistic look. Now comes the fun part…I am going to grab two of our skellies and have them stand around the cauldron! I will have one posed as if he is “warming up his hands” by the fire, and the other one will be “roasting a marshmallow”!

This Halloween prop was made for free, because I already had the cauldron, lights and tomato cage, and the wood & branches were free! Yeah!

Hee hee, don’t you just love Halloween!

Smashed Mailbox Turned into a Flower Container

If it was not for the snow plow drivers continually smashing our mailboxes every winter, I would have never been able to make this, nor would we have a pile of smashed mailboxes in our garage!


I am obsessed with flower containers, and would love to fill the entire yard with them. But who has all the money in the world to buy all the flower containers you really want, and purchase all the flowers either? Not me! So, when I ran across a pin on Pinterest on where they used an old mailbox as a flower container, I was so excited and had to make one for myself!

I grabbed our smashed gray mailbox with the door torn off the hinge and cleaned it up a bit. Then, I wanted to paint it with something bright, and I actually found a full can of yellow Rustoleum and I went to work. I covered up the red flag with some electrical tape I found and worked my way around the mailbox spraying it with the yellow spray paint, making sure that I coated it evenly.


Once it was dry, I removed the black electrical tape, and the mailbox is now ready to plant something in it. I filled it about halfway up with soil. I was going to head to the store and purchase some flowers, but decided that I would transplant some of the wild flowers I had coming up in the other flower bed into the mailbox. This worked out perfectly, as the wild flowers had nice long stems and looked perfect in the mailbox.


So, if it was not for the snow plow drivers error in distance to our mailbox, I would have never been able to create this beautiful wild flower masterpiece!  Talk about repurposing!  I have taken repurposing to the next level with this one, and now I want to paint the rest of our smashed mailboxes just sitting in the garage and create something beautiful.


Nothing screams Summer like a yellow mailbox filled with flowers!

How to Make a Patriotic Table Top


I have always found that sitting in the backyard is relaxing & enjoyable, but I never had a table for our drinks. I needed to change that! I pulled out my sheet of pressed wood yesterday and went to work.


I used my flower container as my guide and traced my circle onto the wood. Of course, I needed the table top to be larger in size than the top of the flower container, so I measured the circle to find the direct center of the circle and hammered a nail in the center. Then I held my measuring tape & Sharpie marker a few inches past my original circle and just basically drew another larger circle around the first one, then cut it out with my Evolv Jigsaw. (you can see my original circle in the photo above)  The table top is 22″ in width, in case you were wondering.



Next, I gave it a good sanding. After all of my wood projects, I always run a vacuum over the piece of wood to remove all the dust particles.


Next, I spray painted my table top red, and gave it a few coats.


After the red paint dried, I brought it inside to stencil on the stars. I used one of my metal star cookie cutters and a Sharpie marker and just traced the stars all around the table top.


I then hand painted the white stars, one by one.


I finished off the table top with a few coats of Polyurathane to seal it from the elements. Now, the table top just gets placed on top of one of my unused flower containers and has been made into a table.

I have now solved my problem of where do I place my drink when we are relaxing in the backyard. So, what do you think? Where do you place your drinks?

How to Make A Clay Bunny Bowl


Some times I don’t have enough time to read all of my emails, and you know what I mean. You get busy. But, I am glad that I happened to open one email from Do It And How blog, who wrote about how another blogger made some adorable bunny bowls. Once I saw this post, I had to learn how to make one, and I was glad that I had all the supplies too!

If you head on over to Alice and Lois, you can see their tutorial on how they created a bunny bowl.  But I wanted to show you how I made my very own! I was just glad that I read this particular email post today!

I got out all of my supplies after reading their tutorial, and was glad that I had everything that I needed. Sculpey clay was used in creating my Bunny Bowl.


Gather your supplies of Sculpey clay in white and hot pink (for the nose). I also cut out a little template of an ear to trace on the clay for the ears.


When you work with Sculpey Clay, it is somewhat solid, so you need to work it in your hands to soften it a bit to get it ready.


Once the clay is soft and in a nice ball, it is time to work with it.


Use a rolling pin and roll your clay out nice and flat.


If you have a circle cookie cutter you can use it to cutout your bunny, if not, just use something round like I did, by using this little metal bowl.


I used my little ear template to cutout two ears from the clay, and then I attached the ears to the bunny by smoothing the clay over the seams, then I added a pink little bunny nose that I cut out of the pink Sculpey Clay.


Now, carefully pick up your bunny and press it into a small oven safe bowl and press it into the bowl. The ears will want to flop over at this point since the clay is soft.


Place in a 275 degree oven for about 15 minutes, but watch it carefully. I placed another pan behind the ears so it held them up a bit while it baked. I thought that the ears would look adorable if I flopped them over a bit too.


If you notice the tip of my bunny ears, you can see that they started to get a little burnt, but I can just lightly sand that off. I took the bunny bowl out of the oven and let it cool completely before I attempted to remove it from the little bowl. Sculpey Clay is not food safe, so please do not place any food on it!  But this is how you can make your own bunny bowl to hold perhaps your rings on your dresser! I will be adding a clear coating to the bowl too, so it will protect the clay from getting dirty.

So, what do you think? Do you have any Sculpey Clay to make your own Bunny Bowl? Just think of all the crafts projects you are missing too by not reading your emails! I am sure glad that I read mine today!  A great big thanks to Alice and Lois for showing me how to make this awesome Easter craft!

How To Make Cement Letters

How to create your own cement letters

It is fun to experiment with new crafts, but it is more fun to see how they turn out.  Some times you may experience an epic fail, but that should never halt your progress, as you should try and try again until you get it right.  I recently purchased from Amazon,alphabet ice cube trays, which I did in fact try making ice cubes and they worked like a charm.  I got the biggest kick out of dropping cute ice letters into my drink, and even shared a few letters in the dogs water bowl too, but I knew what my ultimate craft adventure was going to be for these little molds. Cement letters, of course!


I never worked with any type of silicone molds before, so I was curious as to how easy it would be to remove your item once formed from the mold. Removing the ice from the molds was super easy. I just stretched the sides of the silicone mold a tad, and the letters just dropped out. Now, I am going to purchase another set of these molds just for ice and/or chocolate, and I am going to use the first set for making my cement letters. I read that you can even use these silicone molds to bake right in the oven too (up to a certain temperature) and the molds don’t melt!


Anyhow, with the excitement flowing on how cool the ice letters turned out, I grabbed my silicone molds and headed down to my workshop to whip up a small batch of Quikrete Cement to make some cement letters. I scooped a small amount of Quikrete Cement into an empty plastic container and poured a little water in. Your cement mixture should be like a thick pancake mixture consistency. With Quikrete, you need to work quickly as it hardens within minutes. Once the cement was well mixed, I sprayed the molds with some Pam cooking spray, as this is called a release agent so the cement does not stick to the sides. I poured the cement slowly to reduce any air bubbles. Now, we wait.  Quikrete Cement dries pretty quickly, but I left these to sit overnight, just to make sure.

Im Grand

The cement letters popped right out of the mold perfectly! I just stretched the sides of the mold just like I did with the ice, and the letters dropped right out of the mold! I let the letters air dry a bit more, and if there were any rough spots, I just lightly sanded them with a small piece of sand paper.  The last thing I did was dip them in a cement sealer to protect them. The size of the letters are different per letter, but they are approximately 1 5/8″ in height, 1 1/2″ in width, and 1/2″ thick.


I can honestly say that working with silicone molds is really easy. I will definitely be purchasing another set so I can make some chocolate letters!


Here’e the rundown on what you will need to create your own cement letters:

  • Silicone Alphabet molds
  • Quikrete Cement
  • Water
  • A small plastic container to mix the cement & a wooden spoon
  • Pam Cooking Spray to be used a the release agent
  • Cement Sealer (optional)

At this time, I have almost made the entire alphabet, and looking at the cement letters I have made so far, it makes me think of the game Scrabble. How fun would that be to make enough letters to play Scrabble? Or perhaps make the word “grow” and set the letters in a flower pot?


Here’s some other ideas I came up with to use these little cement letters for:

  • Attach a magnet with glue to the back of the letters to your fridge
  • Hang the cement letters on your Christmas tree with a beautiful ribbon
  • Spell out names in front of your dinner plates as place cards
  • Attach them to your wood tombstones, which is what I am going to do with the “RIP”
  • Spell out your name for your mailbox post


The possibilities are endless!

How to Make Little Gift Envelopes


I can’t stop myself!  I am on a creative roll (no pun intended) on how to use up my wrapping paper scraps!  Ever since I found out how easy it was to Make Your own Gift Bags, I decided that some of my packages needed a “little note” to be attached to them, other than the regular gift tag.


So, I found a small coin envelope that I had laying around, measured it, and opened up my Microsoft Publisher and created a template for the Gift Envelope.  You can download the Gift Envelope template HERE. Now, I could have just told you to find an envelope yourself and trace it, but that is not me!  I wanted to provide you with a template to use!


Open up the PDF, and printout the gift envelope template (I included two on a page) onto card stock paper, then cutout the template.  Use this card stock template to trace onto your wrapping paper scraps, or any other colorful paper, or magazine page.


Next, just cut out the envelopes with either your scissors or x-acto knife, then fold in the two sides, then the top and bottom.  Crease seams.

For my gift envelopes, I just used scotch tape, but you could use your glue stick to close up your envelopes.


Now, the gift envelopes would not be complete without adding a little note inside, right?  Well, you are in luck, because I made six different designs for you to print out and use!  (these are on page 2 of the PDF)

My wrapping paper scraps are almost all gone right now, with all of these creative uses for how to use up the scraps!

In case you missed my post on How to Make Your Own Gift Bags, click HERE for the instructions!

How To Make A Gift Bag From Wrapping Paper Scraps

They say that presentation is EVERYTHING when it comes to gift giving! I would agree.

How to Make Gift Bags From Wrapping Paper ScrapsAt this time of year, admit it, we all have tons of wrapping paper scraps just laying around, just in case we “need” them for a small gift.  I know that I do. Today, I decided to actually use these scraps for something.

Here’s the nitty gritty low down easy-peasy directions on how you can turn those small wrapping paper scraps into handmade Gift Bags!

Materials Needed:

  • Wrapping paper scraps
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Small box
  • Gift Tag

Ok, now that you have your supplies ready, let me tell you how easy it is to make your “own” Gift Bags for those small little gifts.  The wrapping paper scrap that I used for this tutorial was approximately 8″ x 11″ (just in case you were wondering), but you can use any size of wrapping paper scrap.

GIFT BAGS1First, I folded down a little flap at one end of the paper and creased it real good.  Then I put three small pieces of tape across this flap to hold it down.

GIFT BAG2GIFT BAG3I took a small box to use as a template for the gift bag and laid it on the paper.  I folded the wrapping paper around the box like I was wrapping it up as a gift, but kept the box closer to the bottom of the paper since the box was smaller than the paper.  Wrap the paper loosely around box.

Run your fingers over all the edges to create a good crease.

GIFT BAG5Remove box, and fold the paper where you can see the creases.

GIFT BAG4Put box back onto the wrapping paper and tape up the seam and the bottom.

Remove the box from the wrapping paper.  If you wrapped it loosely, the box should slide out easily.  If not, the box might not slide out.

GIFT BAG7Now, you need to make the side creases.  Lay wrapping paper gift bag down and fold the sides in half to crease the sides.  Your gift bag should be able to stand up by itself now.

GIFT BAG8Next, use your hole punch and punch two holes on each side of the bag at the top.  (keep the holes uniform too!)  These holes are for the handles.

GIFT BAG9Cut two small pieces of ribbon (of course, a color that coordinates with your wrapping paper, as we are going for awesomeness here!) and tie the ribbons through the holes.  (NOTE: If you want to add a gift tag to your gift bag, now is the time to do it before you tie the handle on!)

GIFT BAG TAGCongratulations!  You have just made your very own Gift Bag!  No need to head to the store for a gift bag any longer, just use up those wrapping paper scraps that you have laying around the house!

After I made a bunch of these today, I also thought that you could use a sheet of scrapbook paper too, as we all know that you can get them with great designs on them at the craft store, or even an old map!

My finished gift bags from an 8″ x 11″ wrapping paper scrap, made a small gift bag 3″ x 6″ x 2″ in size.  Your completed size will depend on the size of the box you use as your template.

Go crazy!  Go grab your box of rigatoni for a different sized gift bag, or any other box you have and see what size of gift bag you can create today!  You will thank me for actually using up all of those scraps of wrapping paper!

Salt Dough -vs- Sculpey Clay

Hello!  My name is Valerie and I’m a Craftaholic.  This should not surprise you in the least, but I got the chance to try something new this week.  I have been hearing all about Sculpey Clay everywhere, and I wanted to see what all the buzz was about, so I headed off to Pat Catans and picked up some. This is where the fun begins.

Last year I went wild and made some really adorable ornaments with Salt Dough.  They turned out really nice and I love the ones that I have on our tree, and as well, I made a bunch of them for the family too.  Click HERE for my Salt Dough post & recipe.  But after hearing about Sculpey Clay, I was wondering if I was missing out on something, so I had to get some to try.

SCULPEY CLAYFrom what I can tell you, Sculpey Clay comes in many, many, many colors.  The majority of the clay comes in 2 ounce packages for around $2.99/ea, but they do have larger packages of the clay in a 1 pound size for around $11.00.  I picked up the white Sculpey Clay in white in the 1 pound size, and also chose a yellow, a red, and a pink in the 2 ounce sizes so I could experiment with the colors.

So here goes how you use Sculpey clay…  just cut off a chunk of the clay with a knife and knead it in your hand until it becomes pliable.  Next, get out your rolling pin and roll it out on some wax paper to whatever thickness you want.  For an experiment, I rolled my clay pretty thin as I wanted to see how thin I could make something (ie: to use less clay on an ornament).  I then took one of my round cookie cutters and cut a circle out of the clay.  Then I chose a cute snowman rubber stamp and just stamped it in the piece I just cut out.  It made a really nice impression in the clay and I already liked the results.  Then I just took a small skewer and poked a hole for hanging in the top of the ornament.  (As you can see from the photo below, I even stamped one ornament in ink first, then stamped it on the clay)

SCULPEY CLAY ORNAMENTSYou bake Sculpey Clay at 275 degrees for 15 minutes.  (NO LONGER!) Since this was the first time I was doing this, I watched carefully for the entire 15 minutes to make sure I did not burn the clay.  I think I might have even taken out the pieces a few minutes early and just left the cookie sheet on top of the oven.  The pieces were hard, as the clay baked nicely, but if you do take your pieces out a few minutes early and they are not completely hard, they will harden sitting on top of the warm oven.

SNOWMAN AND HOUSE1The results?  I am so impressed with how the Sculpey Clay ornaments turned out and will definitely be making more.  I am very satisfied with Sculpey Clay and I am sure that I can find more items to make with the clay like a stamped bowl or something creative like that.

GINGERBREAD MAN VSo, if I had to compare the Salt Dough Ornaments with Sculpey Clay, I would choose the Sculpey Clay hands down.  What I noticed that happened with the Salt Dough is that most of the time the ornament bubbled in the oven and the surface of the ornaments were not flat.  The Sculpey Clay ornaments never changed shape or size, nor did they bubble when baked.  And, you can make your ornaments thinner with the Sculpey Clay than with the Salt Dough.  The photograph above shows one coat of paint on my gingerbread man ornament and I will be adding one more coat of paint, then I will brush on a coat of clear varnish to top it off.

SNOWMAN COMPARISON1As you can see from the above photograph, the difference in thickness of each ornament.  Sculpey Clay is on the left, the Salt Dough on the right. It was hard for me to photograph the white Sculpey Clay ornaments and truly show you the detail that my rubber stamps made, but you can click on the photographs to view them larger.  If anyone has any questions, let me know.  At this point, I am definitely just a beginner with Sculpey Clay, but at least I can discuss my findings with you if you need some help.

What new product have you tried out lately?

How to Make a Paper Mache Stand

The possibilities are endless when you play around with Paper Mache.  For example, I ran into a little dilemma as I was trying to place my pumpkins in our front windows for display…I had absolutely nothing to put them on.  So, you know me, I had to figure out a way to correct this.


For those of you that know us, we sell tons of seasonal items on eBay. (this is our busiest selling season with all of our Halloween props that we have) With that being said, we need boxes, and lots of them, because you just never know what size of box you need to ship your product out.  Our local KMart has been quite helpful with providing us with boxes, we keep every box from deliveries to the house, and we even have asked our neighbor to give us all of their boxes too! (thanks Steve!)  And, on top of this, I sometimes keep boxes from things that we purchase, just in case I might need them some day….for something.


I started stock-piling some nice perfectly square hard cardboard kitty food boxes and when I saw them, I knew that I could use these to make a little stand for my pumpkins.  Then I pulled out two small UPS boxes that I kept from a delivery and thought that they would be perfect for the top/bottom of the stand.  Now, I just had to get to work!


All I did was use some masking tape (do not use clear shipping tape) and taped three kitty food boxes together to make a little column, then I taped a UPS box to the top and one again to the bottom.  I went over all the seams again with another layer of masking tape to make sure that everything was good and secure.  (note: you could also use your hot glue gun to adhere them together too)  This was the perfect height for our windows for the paper mache pumpkins to sit on!


Then, I just mixed up some paper mache and went over the entire stand with a few layers and placed it in front of my little heater to dry.  Once dry, I took it outside and spray painted the stand all black.  Whala!  Now, wasn’t that easy?  This stand is so cute, that I might even stencil something on it.


The funny thing about this is, that you would never know by looking at it, that this was made from boxes of kitty food!  What have you re-purposed lately?

Paper Mache Pumpkin No. 5

I can’t help myself.  These pumpkins are addicting to make.  I am on Pumpkin No. 5 right now, and have No. 6 in the works.  Pumpkin No. 6 will be a much smaller pumpkin that I am going to pose in the hand on Skully in the front yard as he is holding up my handmade pallet coffin.



Pumpkin No. 5 is by far my thickest pumpkin ever!  I used my Evolv Jigsaw and a drill to carve out the face.  You start with the drill to make an entry point for the saw blade, then slow the speed down on your jigsaw a bit and carefully follow the face drawn on the pumpkin.  


I drew a few mouths and eyes by hand on the pumpkin before I found one that I liked.  I know, they all could have been ok, but since I am perfecting my pumpkins as I work with the paper mache, I am going for perfection.  After I got the face that I wanted, it was time to get to work and cutout the face.


I cut one of my pumpkins with an Xacto Knife, but that took me close to an hour to cutout the face, so I changed to the Evolv Jigsaw to make this part of the process much quicker.  You have to be extremely careful when using any saw, but you work slowly and keep all of your fingers out of the way of the blade, and you will be ok.


I have learned a lot from making all of these paper mache pumpkins, and one thing that I have learned is that you MUST stuff the plastic bag really full of crumpled newspaper so that the pumpkin holds its shape.  This photo shows how much “stuffing” came out of this pumpkin.  When you remove the stuffing (aka, crumpled newspaper) from the pumpkin, you keep it for your next pumpkin.  Why reinvent the wheel and crumple more paper, when you already have a bag full of stuffing!


Since these pumpkins are not sealed for outside weather conditions, we are currently only placing them in our front windows at night so everyone can see them.  If we left them outside, they probably would be damaged due to water or the dew that sets in overnight.  I might try some of that Flex Seal product on one pumpkin before I paint it, to see if that product will work with sealing the paper mache and holding its shape.  Anyhow, with the amount of pumpkins I have now, I wanted to place them in the windows, but had no table to place them on.  Had to fix this problem…

With all of my craft projects, I use what we have around the house.  I save a lot of odd things, just in case I need them, one being the nice hard cardboard kitty food boxes.  These came in handy for making a table.  I just took three empty kitty food boxes and two old UPS shipping boxes and taped them together.  Then I mixed up a batch of paper mache (flour & water) and went to work!  The UPS boxes made the perfect top & bottom to my little table, as the kitty food boxes made the perfect column.


So, what do you think of Pumpkin No. 5?  It still needs to be painted, but it looks great in the front window, even unfinished.  I also used one of our LED camping lights inside this pumpkin instead of the orange Halloween lights which makes it glow differently than the others.  Variety is the spice of life!

Paper Mache Mummy

Geez, I could not resist!  After publishing my last post, and a few people commented on the cute mummy at the garden center, I just had to see if I could create one!  You know me and challenges…. I took it head on and got to work right after hitting “publish”.


It came together quite easily and he now stands 18″ in height and is 14″ in width.  I just basically balled up some newspaper for the body, and did the same for a head, then masking taped them together.  Next I rolled up some newspaper for the legs, arms, and fingers.  I took two small pieces of paper and balled them up for the feet and did the same for the palm of the hands. Then I had a brilliant idea to use my hot glue gun to attach the fingers to the palm instead of masking tape, and I did the same for the arms when I attached them to the body.  (NOTE:  Look at the first mummy on the left…. as you can see, his fingers are bent, so I will still need to do this on mine!  I have to make it look similar, right?)


I am going to start on the first layer of paper mache in a few minutes and once dried, I will place many more multiple layers as I have done in all of my paper mache work.  Then, to finish off the mummy, I will take some strips of newspaper, roll them up, then flatten them, and dip them in the paper mache mixture, and these will be used for the look-alike strips of white cloth that wraps all around the mummy.



So, what do you think?  He came together so fast and will be a quick and easy paper mache project!  He will be a perfect addition to the top of my paper mache fireplace with all the pumpkins!  Stay tuned to see how he turns out!