6 Nov

Borax Crystal Snowflakes

This project was originally published in November 2013.

When you live somewhere it doesn’t snow, you have to take matters into your own hands.

These two-ingredient crystal snowflakes will transform your house into a winter wonderland overnight.

What you’ll need:

–Borax laundry detergent booster (I found it in the laundry aisle at Target for $5)
–pipe cleaners
–pencil or chopstick

Step 1. Form your pipe cleaners into snowflake shapes. One long pipe cleaner can be cut into six pieces to make a simple star, or you can get fancier if you want. (Just remember that your snowflakes can’t be taller or wider than the container you’re going to pour your Borax solution into.)



If you want to make long, straight icicles, that’s even easier. Just make sure you have a container tall enough that will hold the pipe cleaners without them touching the bottom.


(When I found a pack of pipe cleaners in all those wintry blues and I swear I heard a choir of angels sing.)

Step 2. Use string to tie your snowflakes onto a pencil or chopstick–anything long enough to span the container you’re using.


Step 3. Mix up a batch of Borax solution: 1/3 cup of Borax to 2 cups of boiling water. Stir the mixture until the Borax is dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 4. Submerge your pipe cleaner snowflakes in the Borax solution, making sure they don’t touch the sides or bottom of your container, or each other if you’re doing multiple snowflakes in one pot.



Step 5. Now make like Ron Popiel and “Set it and forget it!” Carry on about your merry way, go to sleep, and when you wake up the next morning check out your awesome crystal snowflakes!





These are a fun little science project, and kids will love that they’re not too fragile to touch and they’ll never melt away. If you’re doing an activity advent calendar, this is a perfect afterschool project. Older kids might want to experiment with different concentrations of Borax solution, leaving the pipe cleaners in the solution for different amounts of time, putting different materials in the solution and seeing what will crystallize (this is my current obsession), and seeing what happens if they try adding food coloring or glitter to the mix.

Screen shot 2014-11-06 at 2.23.51 PM

When you’re done, these look brilliant on a Christmas tree or hanging along a window, and they also add an extra little something to gift wrapping.



These are my favorite things right now. Well…these or the craft coming up for next week. I can’t wait to show you.

6 Nov

TP Tube Turkeys

This project was originally published in November 2013.

Looking for a quick craft to help get your home ready for Thanksgiving? Or maybe you’re in the market for an easy project to keep little hands out of the mashed potatoes while you’re waiting for the bird to finish cooking on the big day. If that sounds like you, here’s a fun and festive Thanksgiving project for kids big and small.


(This might be my favorite craft ever.)


What you’ll need:

–toilet paper tubes
–school glue
–craft brush (a foam one works well)
–googly eyes

This is a three-step project:

1. Cut your TP tube into a turkey shape.

2. Cover the feathers with glitter.

3. Glue on some googly eyes.

What? You expected more from me, the world’s wordiest blogger?

Okay, fine. Here are some specific notes from your favorite been-there-done-that-made-all-the-mistakes host.

For those of us not great at spatial reasoning *raises hand*, I drew on this tube to show what cuts to make in the front (left) and back (right).


Start by cutting the spike for the head and neck, then cut a spike on each side for the wings. (You’ll have two triangular throw-away pieces after this step.) Then all you need to do is make slits for the feathers, which will fan out nicely with minimal coaxing.


Ta da! Two-minute turkey.

Now, you’re going to have plenty of freedom to make your birds look unique once you start decorating, but to help each one really develop his or her own personality, start by being creative with your cuts. Give one of them a big head and a thick neck, give one of them lots of super-skinny feathers. Varying where you fold down the head and wings can also change the look of your little cardboard friend.


And now it’s time to decorate! I used glitter left over from my polka-dot Easter eggs, and the technique I used there is also how I got the polka dots on this fine fellow.



To create the different patterns and colors on the feathers, just apply your glue strategically, one color at a time and then glue on some eyes. (You might recognize these as the ones we used for our pet rocks and our TP tube Halloween creatures.)


I went craaaazy with the glitter, but you can decorate these dudes whatever you have on hand and/or have the patience for. If you’re going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house and you know she’d faint if all the cousins played with glitter in her dining room, set them up with markers or crayons instead. Don’t stress about this AT ALL. ‘Tis the season for taking deep, cleansing breaths. And for eating pie. Lots of pie.



6 Nov

DIY Snowglobe Magnets

Here’s a re-run from last year because people have been asking about it lately. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll respond when I can.

This is the perfect winter craft project for those of you who thought you had run out of time for winter craft projects. Let’s make these adorable snowglobe magnets in the time it takes you to steep a cup of peppermint tea.


What you’ll need:

–magnetic tins with clear lids
–fake snow
–personal photos or pictures from magazines
–kitchen sponge (a new one)


Step 1. Buy these GRUNDTAL stainless steel magnetic spice tins from Ikea. You can find other tins online for cheaper, but these are nice and big and sturdy and they won’t rust and the lids will stay on and the magnets are already on there and you won’t be sorry, I promise. They’re just under three bucks a pop and totally worth it. (Commenters have also reported seeing these at Dollar Tree as of November 2014.)



Step 2. Find an image that will look cute in a fridge-front snowglobe. I didn’t have any personal prints on hand, so I went through my stack of holiday catalogs and found some great stuff. In the image at the top of this post, the heart is a rug, the Merry sign is kids’ room decor, and the baby is from a sample holiday card. You could also print things from the internet if your printer isn’t an old fogey printer like mine is.

Use the clear lid of your container to trace an outline around your image, but then cut about 1/4 inch inside that line so the picture fits in the bottom of the tin. You’ll want it to fit as tightly as possible, with no gaps at the edges, so just cut a little at a time until you have the right size.




Step 3. I found that the finished product looked better if the image wasn’t flush with the bottom of the tin, so to make the picture pop forward, a cut a little square of kitchen sponge, taped it to the inside of the tin, and then taped my image on top of it. If you’re going extra lo-fi, you could also just crumple some catalog scraps and tape the image to the pile.

Step 4. Add your fake snow! It’s not quite as bad as glitter, but it does have a way of getting everywhere, so be ye warned.


And that’s it! Pretty cute, huh?




They’re an easy way to add a bit of winter decor without adding a bunch of clutter, and kids love them. You know who else loves them with a picture of your kids inside? Grandmas. Tie a pretty ribbon around it or rim the side with colorful washi tape and you have a sweet little seasonal gift.


If you like this, you might also like my other winter/holiday/Christmas crafts. Click for the list!