Matchbox Gifts

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My mother is absolutely obsessed with match boxes and the things you can put in them, so I kind of had a lightbulb moment when trying to figure out a present for her birthday last week (normally I handle the cake but this year my dad insisted that he had it under control). If you have a mother with a similar fetish, maybe this will work out for you for a nice Mother’s Day present.

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For my mother’s wee giftie, it was just a silly little thing: I decided to give her MAGIC BEANS. But instead of magic beans it was actual bean seeds that she could plant shortly in the garden. And then we could eat the beans. I also gave her some rosemary seeds because I killed her rosemary tree while she was in Florida.

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I love these little tiny glass jars you can get at the dollar store.

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Don’t worry, I DID label all the little jars.

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I decided to make a matchbox from scratch so I could ensure it was the right size to fit my beans. In order to do that I downloaded a template from the internet. I cut it out and used scrapbook paper (it’s a decently stiff cardstock) for my boxes.

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I used a craft knife to get things exact, but it’s a pretty easy template to cut out.

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Then a little bit of strategic adhesion with craft glue.

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And the beans, they fit! They’re a little loose though.

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So I padded the bottoms of the boxes with a bit of felt.

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I broke this photo. It’s okay, though, because it wasn’t a very good one anyway.


Then tied up both boxes with pretty ribbon to give to my favourite mother!

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Match boxes (even custom-made ones) are a great creative way to package up smaller gifts of jewelry or what-have-you. Keep that in mind the next time you’re doing some complex wrapping and you don’t have a perfect box to hand.


Tray Cool

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Happy Independence Day to those of you in the good ol’ You Ess of Eh.  On this auspicious day I thought I’d share with you something I did while hiding from the heat on Canada Day.

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I buy a lot of things from thrift stores with a specific project in mind; however, lacking the time or a certain ingredient, these projects sometimes fall to the wayside.  Case in point: that mirror I used for Cait’s Victorian Toilet Paper mirror was supposed to go into something else.  I bought this serving tray with the idea of putting cork on the bottom and painting it with gold leaf stencils (back when that sort of thing was trendy).

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I didn’t do it and so the tray has been sitting with my crafty crap for years.  But the Pie and I were talking about how awesome those Coffee Stirrer Wall Art doo-dads turned out and, having several coffee stirrers leftover still, I put two and two together and came up with this.

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I wiped down the tray and gave it a quick once-over with black craft paint.

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While it was drying I grabbed several handfuls of coffee stirrers and started painting them, too.  I wanted to work with a palette of various greens, mixed together a bit.

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Then, with a bottle of Tacky glue and my trusty poultry shears, I started cutting the stirrers and gluing them to the surface of the tray.

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This takes a while.  This takes a good long while.

I left it to completely dry overnight and then the next day gave it two coats of spray sealant in a satin finish (which will make the tray, if not washable, at least wipe-able). You’ll note I actually did the spraying outside, in a well-ventilated area, and not in my tightly sealed kitchen like I used to. There are benefits to having a backyard …

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And that, as they say, is that.

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I originally planned to give this to someone for Christmas, but the Pie seems to want to keep it, so I guess it will be his …

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Marine Mobile

I haven’t been feeling particularly inspired in the kitchen lately, so the Pie recommended that I make “something like that tea cozy,” which I took to mean he wanted me to get all crafty.

If you know me, you know I am a rock hound.  If you don’t know me, well, now you know that about me.  I love rocks.  I nearly minored in geoscience during my undergraduate degree because I loved them so much, but I didn’t have the physics I needed to take the advanced courses.  So I’m a dabbler, really.

I have a substantial rock collection.  They are in my garden.  They are my door stops.  They decorate my mantle and my book shelves.  I keep them in a bowl in my kitchen. 

And I know where they all came from, too.  Bubbly volcanic basalt and gem-quality chunks of jasper from the beaches of my BC childhood.  Sugary white and rose pink quartz from Algonquin Park in Ontario.  A chunk of slag picked up on the shores of Lake Erie.  River-smooth pebbles from our old cottage at Lavergne Bay, near Arnprior, Ontario.  And some lovely round treasures from our recent visit to Middle Cove Beach.

Spending most of my life near the ocean means I also have a bowl of shells in my kitchen, too. 

Oysters (which I gathered from the beach, cooked in a pail of seawater on an open fire, and ate, how glorious), mussels (I had a massive foot-long complete shell at one point that broke in one of my many moves), periwinkles, limpets, barnacles, snails, scallops, cockles … even a giant moon snail shell given to me on a class camping trip to Denman Island by the first boy I ever kissed.

What you might not know is that in my closet I have a HIDDEN rock collection.  Two little plastic boxes in my office closet, filled with even more rocks, strange found objects like faucets, cream bottles, and artillery shell casings, and mismatched pulleys. 

Twisted segments of driftwood.  The top to some ancient incense burner.  And lots and lots of sea glass.  Bags of it, collected during long afternoons ignoring the rain, scrambling over the slippery rocks by the house, eyes glued to the ground in front of me.

So rather than keep it in the closet, I decided to use some of it to make something.  How about a mobile?  I’ve been toying with the idea of making one for a while.

I sorted through my treasures, and the pieces I chose were solely based on my ability to wrap a piece of nylon fishing line around them and get a decent knot.  So my tools for this were some white glue, a pair of scissors, and some fishing twine.  And whatever else you got.

I’ve never made a mobile before, so it was an experiment in balance for me.  Tying the twine around rocks and pieces of glass was a challenge as well but I managed to get a few strings going.  To make a string, I started with a piece that could form the base and looped the twine around it and tied it tight.

I made sure I had two strings now of equal lengths coming off it.  I measured a random length of twine from the first object, then tied the two pieces together to make a base for the second piece.  Then I tied the second piece on, and so on.

Make sure to dab a little bit of white glue near your knots just to keep things from sliding around.

Balancing things was, well, a balancing act.  I found it much easier to put the mobile together while it was hanging.  I started with this round piece of driftwood I’d picked up in Victoria on the beach in front of my house.  Suspended from that was a piece of shale from Rose Bay, Nova Scotia.  Then a twig I pulled off my lawn here in St. John’s.  And then I worked on my strings.

A stroke of genius was to glue whelk shells (from Holyrood, Newfoundland) onto the ends of the sticks to act as barriers for sliding twine.  I put a few dabs of glue on the sticks as well to hold the lines of pieces in place.

Waiting for the glue to dry (or for everything to come crashing down).

Finished, and hanging in the dining room, the one place where the Pie won’t run into it accidentally.

Crafty Recycled Notebooks

I spent way too much time on the other day and became rather over-stimulated with ideas.  This meant that while I was watching Glee (and I’m not afraid to admit it), I needed something to do.

I work part time as a law librarian at a large firm downtown.  Boy oh boy do lawyers waste a lot of paper.  I save as much of it as I can that can be re-used (at least, the non-confidential stuff).  I have been bringing it home with the intention of turning it into notebooks at the earliest opportunity.  Most of it sits in a pile next to the Pie’s desk, where it gets messed around, rearranged, and buried daily.  The letter-sized stuff I use in my printer, but the smaller stuff, from legal texts and what have you, needed a bit of extra help to get itself organized into something usable.

With some leftover cardstock and fragments of kitchen string from a failed pre-wedding experiment, a stapler, a paper cutter, and some glue and rubber stamps (yes, I have a stamp with my name on it, I’m cool like that), I quickly fashioned my scraps into kitschy little note pads to be chucked in a purse or on a table for use whenever I need them.  Blank usable sheets on one side, legalese on the other.  I think I’ll send some to the grandmas …

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