The Lighter Side of Laundry

Scenario: My brother bought a new laundry bin for school.

Problem: The new bin is the same color as his roommate’s laundry bin.

Solution: Apply distinguishing feature to bin. This is where I come in.

My mother asked me if I would do the honors; she expected I would be able to do something creative with it. I was not as optimistic. You see, the bin he got is one of those pop-up mesh jobs; I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to design on mesh. Regardless, I agreed to try.

First I needed a good design. Something simple that would show up well. A number of cartoon characters popped into my mind. And then…I saw an opportunity for some humor.

If you’ve never watched classic Disney cartoons, you really must. You can watch tons of them on YouTube, but for now, just watch this 1956 gem. It is necessary for the joke to make sense.


This is one of my family’s favorite cartoons. We sing the song and do the little dance. I also do a mean impersonation of the park ranger. Anyway, it’s a fitting cartoon to reference on the laundry bag, since it’s about tidying up and it’s called “In the Bag.” I couldn’t get a good picture of the park ranger (Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore), so I just went with an image of Humphrey, the lovable bear.

HumphreyDidn’t that turn out so well? I couldn’t believe it. And it still looks good when the bin is full.

HumphreyAre you curious about how I did it? Here’s how:

1. Find your desired image. Remember that you are working on mesh, so it can’t be too detailed of a design.

2. Print it out in the size you want it to be on the bin.

3. Place and tape the paper on the inside of the bin with the image facing out. To be safe you should probably tape the edges from both the inside and outside. It is critical that the design stay put.

4. Trace the design in marker. I used waterproof markers to be safe; sometimes washable markers rub off or fade. (I used my brand new Faber Castell markers my brother got me for Christmas.) Don’t get carried away with coloring. Less is quite likely more. RESIST THE URGE TO PULL THE PAPER AWAY TO SEE HOW WELL YOU’RE DOING AS YOU GO. You run the risk of not putting it back exactly where it was before and making your design look all disproportionate. Just be patient.

5. Pull off the paper and reveal.

This project is perfect for the college dorm and the child’s bedroom!

Time: ~30 minutes

Difficulty: ♦ ♦  This project doesn’t require an excessive amount of dexterity, but it does require forethought and patience.

Cost: ♦  These mesh bins can be purchased for as little as $1 (The Dollar Tree) or bigger/higher quality ones can be found at higher prices (at places like Target).


DIY: Global Organization

What do you get when you combine two instant hot chocolate boxes, an artificial sweetener (yes, I know they cause cancer) box, clear postal tape and a 1970s pocket atlas? Your very own global organization…or atlas-decorated desk organizer. I’m so clever.

Here’s how to make your own:


1. Gather 2-4 boxes. I would recommend using boxes of the same size for the bulk of the organizer but maybe adding a smaller one for little stuff.


2. Cut off the tabs if you want it to be completely open. Leave them on if you want to be able to close your little shelves, just know that it will be more complicated to cover them.



3. Remove some pages from an atlas.Lesson Learned: Little atlases are adorable and more manageable–BUT, larger atlas pages will look better, having less seams.



4. (Optional) “Age” your pages in strong coffee or tea ( I did not do that for this project.) and allow them to dry.




5. Attach boxes of the same size. I used postal tape, but you can use own favorite adhesive. Then proceed to wrap them with your atlas pages. If you have large maps, it will be a lot like wrapping a present. If you have small maps, it will still be a lot like wrapping a present, just like that time you forgot you were out of wrapping paper and had to piece some together out of old wrapping paper scraps.


6. When all your units are wrapped, it’s time to seal the paper. I initially planned to use Modge Podge, but the texture of the atlas paper and the Modge Podge didn’t get along, so I turned to my second favorite adhesive/sealer. Clear postal tape. Cover the whole thing, as neatly as you can, in strips. Add any smaller boxes to your main unit, attaching it and sealing it at the same time.


You can sit the organizer on its side like little shelves or you can sit it upright like a miniature book/paper rack with a pencil cup.













Congratulations. You are now slightly more organized. You also appear scholarly.





Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: ♦  Very easy project.

Cost: ♦  $0-3

First Video Tutorial

You might have seen my post a little while ago about making a laurel wreath headband out of a soda can. (See the post for pictures.) You might also have noticed that I didn’t post a tutorial. Well, I’m correcting that issue now with a video tutorial–check it out!

Make Your Own Angel

There are some things that you just can’t throw away. It might just be really pretty, or it might have sentimental value. Or both.

My mom works at a local non-profit social service agency with a rather close-knit staff. In 2006, they lost a coworker and friend to cancer. Mary Jo was a truly wonderful person.

She also loved to sing, and somehow when she passed, my mom (who is not musically-inclined) got a couple of Mary Jo’s old hymnals. She held on to them, not really knowing what to do with them–and it wasn’t until last week that I had an idea either.

I made this angel out of one of her hymnals and donated it to the agency in Mary Jo’s honor last week.

I didn’t make a tutorial as I went along for that one, but I did make a tutorial as I made a second angel for my family to keep on our piano.

If you’d like to make your own angel and you don’t have a hymnal, don’t fret! (If you don’t have one and really want one, try a thrift store.) You can use any average hardcover book. (If it’s abnormally shaped, your angel maybe be oddly proportioned.)

Step 1- Folding

The majority of this project is just simple folding. To get started, first divide your book into sections. You want to split it roughly into quarters, combining the middle two sections. (You could go right to thirds, but I like the wings to be a little thinner and the skirt to be a little fuller.) There’s some wiggle room here. The top of the hymns on the left and right of the middle section will be visible, so if one of your favorite hymns is just past a quarter through the book, go ahead and use it. It will make it more meaningful. Just place bookmarks in between your sections and turn to the front of your book.

Take the bottom right corner of the first page and fold it up to the spine to make a right angle and flatten the fold. (It doesn’t have to be exactly a right angle, but that will be easiest to replicate.) Turn the page, and repeat that fold with all the pages in your first section. Be consistent–it’s important to make each fold as much the same as possible so that your wings don’t look sloppy. When you’re done with the first section (now your left wing), flip to the back of the book and do the same thing in reverse with the last section.


Now that your wings are done, it’s time to do the body/skirt. It’s virtually the same thing–you just work from the top down now. Fold the middle pages by taking the top right corner of a page and folding it back to the spine to make a right angle. Turn the page and repeat.

When you’re done it will look like this.

You’re now done the brunt of the work!

Step 2- The Head

To make the angel’s head, you will need a styrofoam ball. The one I used was a 4-inch ball, but you need to choose one that will look proportionate to the body. Before you go any further with the head, you need to give it a flat bottom so that you’ll be able to attach it to the body. I used my x-acto knife to just cut a piece off the bottom with a 2-inch diameter, roughly.  (I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of this to show. On the second time around it slipped my mind and I didn’t think of it until later in the process, which was a bit of a headache.)

Now it’s time to cover the head. With the first one, I cut up a few pages of the hymnal into strips. I found that it was frustrating to get them to lay flat against the ball, so this time I cut circles out of the pages, with 4 slits in each circle so that it fitted itself easily to the shape of the ball.

You can use Elmer’s glue to stick the circles to the ball if you want, but it’ll be faster to use a hot glue gun if you have one (you won’t have to waste any time applying pressure until the paper sticks to the styrofoam). Cover the whole ball. When you’re done, give it a coat of Modge Podge.

Step 3- Decoration

While the head is drying, you can “accessorize” your angel. I gave both angels a sort of lace collar and bow. The lace I just situated so it looked nice and then hot glued the ends to the insides of the cover.The bows I just tied around the “neck” after I attached the head. On the second angel, I also added some lace trim to the skirt, hot gluing the ends to the back of the “wings.”

When the head is pretty much dry you can hot glue it on to the body. It may take a little finagling, but if you remembered to flatten the bottom of the head, you should be able to get it to attach rather easily.

After the head is attached, add Spanish moss for hair. (I got mine from the floral arrangement aisle in Wal-Mart.) Grab a clump from the bag and just pull at the edges to stretch it out (like you did with cotton balls to make clouds when you were a kid) and make it less clumpy. Put a bunch of hot glue on the head where you want the hair to go and stick on the Spanish moss. Try to arrange it so it looks as hair-like as possible. This took me some time. I’m not sure if Spanish moss from a craft store would have been more manageable or if it’s always that way. Once you’re satisfied with the hair, you can add whatever head accessory you want. I gave my first angel a gold bow and the second a lace halo/tiara-type-thing. What do you think? I think it’s a perfect gift for many occasions, being lovely and potentially sentimental, yet so simple to make.

Time: Roughly 2.5 hours, depending on the number of pages and on the drying time.

Difficulty: ♦  Very easy. Pretty much just folding and gluing.

Cost: ♦  Should be no more than $4 if you already have a book and a hot glue gun.

Giving a Guitar a New Look

My boyfriend has a hand-me-down Lauren guitar and last week we decided it’d be cool if I put a design on it. (I’d like to put a design on mine, too, but mine’s still only a couple years old and I’m too afraid of screwing up on it.)

We decided on a design with grapes and grapevine. First, I sketched it out on the guitar in pen. The nice thing was that, because of the finish on the guitar, I could actually use a pencil eraser if I wanted to remove a line.

I traced the design with a wood burning tool and shaded it with the various tips that came with the tool. Then I sketched out the rest of the grapevine, and after checking with my boyfriend to make sure it wasn’t too girly, I burned the rest of the design in, too. When I finished burning everything in, I sanded down the whole front of the guitar body with  220 grit sandpaper and then with 400 grit.

I took the guitar downstairs to show my dad my progress and he had an idea, he just wasn’t sure how to execute it. He thought it would be cool if I could add a sort of faint color wash to the design, just to make it pop a little. I agreed and decided to try markers.

It turned out really cool. I didn’t color everything in, just parts. With the grapes I just colored the outlines and did a little shading with some purples. The grapevines I traced in green. I used the same green to shade the leaves, but only around the veins. To make sure the marker was colorfast and wouldn’t just wipe away when I swiped on the sealant, I sealed just the design first with a finer paintbrush. (I used a semi-gloss sealant, but you could choose a glossy or satin finish, too.)

I waited the 3-4 hours between coats that the directions on the back of the can recommended. While I waited for it to dry, I decided to de-string the guitar and repaint the neck with black acrylic (water-based) paint. I also sanded down the brand name at the top of the head. I burned in my boyfriend’s initials.


I finished by sealing the entire guitar with 2 coats of sealant (sanding it down with a 400 grit and a wipe-down between coats) with a 2-inch foam brush. After 24 hours, it was ready for “light use,” according to the can. And it would have been, if it had strings again. Here’s the complete project!

TimeSeveral hours, not including final drying time, depending on the intricacy of your design.

Difficulty♦ ♦    It’s not that this project is extremely hard to do, it’s just complicated and there are several stages. You need to be slow, precise and thorough. Think everything out before you do it–it’s really difficult to correct your mistakes with this project and you don’t want to run the risk of ruining your guitar.

Cost:-to- It depends on what you have in the house. If you’ve already got sealant and sandpaper hanging around and you already work with a wood burning tool, this project will cost you little to nothing. If you have to buy all three of those things, it may cost you around $30. Of course, if you don’t have a guitar already, you don’t even want to know how much this project will cost.

Extreme Makeover: Notebook Edition

I like composition notebooks because of their binding and the way they look. Also the fact that you can buy them for 10 cents depending on the time of year (i.e. back to school time) and location (drug stores always overcharge for school supplies). Never spend more than a dollar on them. I guarantee that you can find a better deal. Anywho, sometimes I like to give my notebooks a new look. Here’s one I made for my boyfriend:

One of my boyfriend's favorite poems is "In a Station of the Metro" by Ezra Pound. It's a short poem so I put it on the cover along with a nifty metro sign design.

I thought you might be interested in seeing how I did this; it’s easy, even if a bit time consuming.

Here’s what you need:

  • A composition notebook
  • a few pieces of construction paper
  • an x-acto knife (If you’re design isn’t too detailed, you might be able to get away with scissors.)
  • glue
  • clear packing tape

To start, pick a design that would look good in only two or three colors. For this tutorial, I’ve chosen to create the Miami Dolphins logo. Why, you ask? I am not a Dolphins fan (Go EAGLES!). I chose it because I only have green, orange and white paper right now.

First, I’d recommend drawing out your design on a regular piece of paper.

Place the design on the colored construction paper you want to be the main color of the notebook. (Don’t put it too close to the edges of the paper–you’ll need some extra space around the outside to wrap around the edges.)  Trace the outermost frame of the design, cutting through both layers with the x-acto knife. NOTE: Place something cardboard or something under the paper so you don’t carve up your table or desk.

Continue tracing/cutting each layer, outside-in, in the proper colors.Keep putting the pieces on your base piece of paper as you go so that you don’t lose them or get confused about where they go.

When you’ve got all the pieces, glue them down to the base piece of paper. When you’re done that, figure out where you want to put the design on the notebook. Make sure you leave enough at the edges to fold over to the inside. It’s up to you whether you want the all of the binding to show or none of it. (It’s also up to you whether or not you paper the inside of the cover or the back.)

The last step, in my opinion, is the hardest and can be skipped,  but I wouldn’t recommend it. Here you use the clear postal tape to “seal” the design. It keeps the pieces of the design from getting accidentally picked off in your bag or getting ruined by rain or coffee stains. You’ll probably use four strips of tape that are slightly longer than the notebook. I usually keep it on the roll, holding the roll in my left hand while putting the tape down vertically and smoothing it with my right. Leave just a little extra at each end to wrap around to the inside. Work slowly and carefully; line up each piece of tape up to the last as closely as you can. Once that’s complete, you’re all done…     

…and it looks awesome!

Time: Roughly 1 hour or so, depending on the intricacy of your design.

Difficulty♦ ♦   It’s not so difficult as complicated…be slow, precise and thorough. Think everything out before you do it.

Cost: ♦  No more than $3, and you’ll have plenty of leftovers to make more notebooks or other cool stuff.