I Can’t vs I Can: A Lesson From Fridge Jam

Craft fairs and farmers’ markets leave me with a sense of awe at the creative products that come naturally from local artisans. Whether it is homemade jam or knitted caps, artist demonstrate the end result of an idea that popped into their head and was transformed into reality.

I often leave the aisles of vendors thinking, “I can’t do that. I wish I was that creative.”

Or I should say . . . I used to. Continue reading “I Can’t vs I Can: A Lesson From Fridge Jam”

DIY Canvas Guest Bags

DIY Guest Tote BagsThis week’s Random Creations post was inspired by two blank canvas bags that I purchased for $.25 each at the local flea market. With friends arriving in town for the weekend, I decided to convert the find into a souvenir gift bag for their travels.  While the idea of personalizing a canvas bag isn’t anything new, the idea appeals to me as a method to reduce vacation memento clutter.

A coffee cup here or a shot glass there. Before you know it, every spare inch of your bookshelves are packed full of little items from Belize, Hawaii, Vegas or that quaint Canadian town you visited two years ago. We all do it. From snow globes that have barely survived seven moves to enough metal spoons with state symbols to host afternoon tea for your home town, vacation mementos take over spare space to do little more than collect dust.

I feel the key to purchasing vacation mementos is to find something unique to you or the person you are shopping for that will be used — in the near future. Dusting a miniature Eiffel Tower on your top shelf won’t necessarily bring back memories of the most beautiful sunset in  the city of lights, however, a locally made wine stopper would refresh that moment each time you pop a cork.

And that is where the beauty of a hand designed canvas bag comes into play. It can be used on their trip and after they return to their daily routine at home. Not only will it be reused, but they take a small token from you home.  Plus, I filled it with a few bottles of water, brochures about our home town, locally made chocolate  and a few scones fresh from the oven.

Canvas bags can be purchased at any craft store (Michael’s, Joanne’s) or even through an online retailer like Amazon or a craft warehouse. They can be customized in a variety of ways. If you have a steady hand and enjoy painting or drawing, you can craft a unique design right on the bag. Stencils can make it easy to put your thoughts to the bag.

DIY Canvas Guest TotesI am not artistically inclined so a computer came in handy. Using photo editing software (like Photoshop), Word or any other program that allows you to type and add images can easily help bring your vision to life. All you need is a printer, an iron and some iron-on transfers.

For my bag, I used HP iron-on transfers for light fabrics. This is method gets printed backwards (mirror) and transfers directly to the item. Since a canvas bag has ridges, the transfer will only go on the high points of the ribs — giving it a bit of a rustic quality.

If you want a deeper color or full image, I recommend you transfer it to a flat fabric and sew it on or use a dark fabric iron-on transfer. The dark fabric version means you don’t have to print backwards. (NOTE: Use the full space of the dark transfers or you will see white space around your image).


1) Before creating you image, make sure your program or printer can flip or create a mirror image. If you don’t, your words will appear on your creation backwards.  However, if you are just using photos or graphics, this may be acceptable to you.

NOTE:  Search your program’s help file or online support forums for “mirror” “flip” or “t-shirt transfer”. Often times, text can be flipped by using the TEXT BOX option.

2) Create your design up to 8.5 in x 11 in.  FLIP IT. Test print onto regular paper. Make sure it isn’t cut-off and that the colors come out crisp. Also, make sure the design in BACKWARDS.

3) Heat up the iron — NO STEAM SETTING.

4) Using a hard surface (not an ironing board). Place a pillowcase on the surface and iron out any wrinkles in the fabric (if using a standard cotton tote).

5) Trim the iron-on transfer — removing as much of the blank areas as you can while leaving a 1/4inch border.

6) Position the trimmed transfer onto the bag, image side down. Iron  the transfer right to left (or opposite if you are left) starting at the top and working your way down. Move slow and with moderate pressure. It should take about 20 seconds per pass (for a full image). Give the heat time to fuse the image to your bag.

7) After doing the entire image, I usually do one more pass — just in case.

8) Allow the transfer to completely cool before removing the backing (a few minutes). Test one corner slightly before pulling it all off. If the image still sticks, wait a few moments or do another pass with the iron and then let it cool.

NOTE: If using a canvas or rough textured bag, the image will only transfer onto the highest points. It gives it a rustic flair — but that means some of the image will still be on the paper — don’t worry.

I then filled the bag with locally made goodies, waters and a few baked goods straight from our oven.

Happy creating!


DIY Gift Idea: Recipe Cards

DIY Recipe CardsMy mother is on a new kick that involves making more of the baked goodies she loves to purchase from neighborhood coffee shops in her own oven. From bread to cookies to, yes, even doughnuts,  she is looking to find new ways to bake.

For the most part, it is a money-saving technique. For what she spends on a doughnut at Winchell’s, she could make a dozen of them at home. Personally, I applaud her efforts. While making them at home is a bit more of a commitment than forking over a few bucks to the cashier for a chocolate glaze, it’s also better for her. There isn’t as much fat in a baked donut and not nearly as much preservatives or butter.

For her birthday, I told her I would purchase a doughnut pan to help her in her effort to turn her kitchen into a personal bakery. Since Mike and I have been experimenting with different types of doughnut recipes, I figured I would create a few cards with our favs to get her going.

Continue reading “DIY Gift Idea: Recipe Cards”

Getting Creative with Curtains

They save the true essence of creativity comes from creating with what you have or, in other words, troubleshooting. It may not be developing something brand new but rather inspiration from what you have and can do. This is exactly what occured with curtains.

I recently moved into a new home with theses fantastic windows that separate our living room from our home office.  The glass allows our living space to feel large and open, yet have a definite separation from work and home life. While I love the windows, I felt I needed the option to have a bit more closure from the sun or during television viewing time.

The available curtain holder is one of those old, funky built in options that include really tiny little rings. Needless to say, we don’t have the hardware to make this set-up effective. That’s where the creativity comes in.

DIY Curtains

Until I can Install new curtain rods or purchase some “S”rings to properly hang curtains, I decided to just go for functional.  Using the sheer curtain fabric from our old apartment, I draped the top over the available curtain rod.  Then, using ribbons from our wedding backdrop, I tied the overhang to the curtain and fanned out the bottom.

This arrangement gives a bit more depth to the living room. Should we want to view a flick (which isn’t often) , we can release some of the ribbons and extend the curtains along the rod. For the most part, it still allows for sunshine to filter into the room and maintains the open floor plan feel.

While it may be a temporary fix, it may be how we fashion the curtains once we have the appropriate hardware.

Sometime the best ideas come from finding ways to fix the little issues life throws our way.

DIY Toilet Bombs

The way our washroom is set up, our toilet is between two walls.  This design is not conducive to airflow and thus our toilet area occasionally smells somewhat like an outhouse. To minimize this odor, I usually try to clean it with Comet every couple of days.

I have recently had to up my game. We tendered our 30-day notice to our landlord, which means our suite is being shown to prospective new tenants.  While we do have notice of a possible showing, we don’t always have breaks in our busy schedule to tackle the toilet issue.

It wasn’t until I was searching the web for something completely unrelated that I stumbled upon an article for DIY Toilet Bombs.  Well, I was pretty much sold on the name for nothing short of an implosion would fully disintegrate the odor-causing bacteria.  Or so I thought.

The first recipe I found was on the blog Maria’s Self and featured citric acid and she mentioned using a paper face mask.  It sounded a bit more serious than the quick fix I was searching for, but she does sell her creations online. Bonus for that!

However, I was looking for a quick and easy fix that utilized ingredients that I already have in the house.  There were several recipes that called for the same two ingredients — so I decided that the vinegar and baking soda route may be the way to go.

The vinegar kills bacteria and, since it is an acid, is super-powerful when it comes to eradicating mold, grease and dirt.  It’s eco-friendly and safe.  The baking soda is safe, non toxic and because of its mild alkali qualities dirt and grease are easily dissolved. Win-win!

Here’s all it takes:

1 cup vinegar1 cup baking soda
5 to 10 drops of essential oil (lemon, lavender . . . )

Where does the bomb come in? Glad you asked.  When baking soda and vinegar mix and mingle, there is a lot of foaming action.  This “explosion” is fun to watch, especially for the kiddos.

What to do:

Pour the vinegar into the toilet and let it hang out for a few minutes. Then, add the baking soda and essential oil and watch it fizz.  Once it is done fizzing, scrub down the bowl with a toilet brush and then let the mixture sit in the bowl for a bit before flushing.  El fin.

This powerful combination not only cleaned the toilet, but it eliminated the odor that seemed to cling to the toilet area of the bathroom.

The other bonus to using this route is that the two ingredients are usually in your cupboard — an can be used for a host of other cleaning chores.  Rather than spending money on a mono-use cleaners, like toilet cleanser, invest in some vinegar and baking soda for scrubbing sinks, bathtubs, toilets . . .