Monthly Archives: November 2014

  • Arts & Crafts: Creative DIY Holiday Decorations

    Putting a personalized touch on holiday decorations is a great excuse to get friends and family together. You can express creativity with craft projects. Spending time together and making memories is what the holidays are all about. There are many arts and crafts decorations that can be done by individuals, regardless of age. Whether you are making generic decorations, or celebrating Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa, here are some festive DIY decorations to consider making this season:

    Holiday Decorations

    Golden Leaf Garland: Incorporate the colors of fall for your Thanksgiving dinner with various shades of golden leaves. Buy artificial leaves and use a paintbrush to apply a layer of glue. Next, sprinkle each leaf with glitter. Using various shades of gold and copper glitter will add more “glam” to the garland. Shake off the excess glitter and punch a hole at the top of each leaf. Attach a ribbon and hang all pieces from a large strand. Hang on the mantel, over a doorway, or on the wall.

    Candy cane wreath: Supplies needed are one white Styrofoam wreath form, about 10 packets of candy canes (depending on the size of the wreath), white glitter, white craft glue, a hot glue gun, low temp glue sticks, and ribbon. First, hot glue the candy canes one at a time around the wreath. Make sure that the ends are tightly glued and secured against the opening of the wreath. Rest each hook of the new candy cane on top of the previous one. Once you’ve gone around the entire wreath, apply craft glue to the outer and inner edges of the wreath and sprinkle with glitter. Attach a ribbon and hang your homemade wreath.

    Wood Pallet Christmas tree: If you have a collection of scrap piled up in your backyard or garage, this project is perfect for you! You’ll need about 8-10 pieces of wood, depending on how many levels you want the tree to have. Use a long piece as the vertical tree branch, and use a circular saw from to make the horizontal pieces – you may choose to keep the ends at 90 degree angles or 45 degree angles for a more triangular look. Once you’ve cut all the required pieces, use a drill to secure the pieces to the vertical base. You can leave it unpainted for a rustic look, paint on a message, add ornaments, or add lights.

    Kwanzaa Corn Husk Vases: Corn traditionally symbolizes the circle of life in Kwanzaa celebrations. Using cornhusks to create vases merges culture with décor. You’ll need corn husks, wood stain, paper towels, scissors, a glue gun, a short drinking glass, and colorful braided yarn. Use a drop of wood stain on the paper towel and rub onto one side of the husks to create an attractive color. Cut the husks based on the proportion of the glass, leaving them about half an inch taller than the top of the glass. Use the glue gun to attach the husks to the glass, overlapping pieces until the glass is covered. Trim off the excess from the top and wrap about three layers of yarn at the base of the vase, securing it with glue. Add flowers and this vase can be used for the Kwanzaa table.

    Wine Bottle Menorah: Spray nine empty, clear wine bottles with paint in the color of your choice (or use a different color for each bottle). Insert a candlestick into each one and situate on your mantle or windowsill. Visitors will admire the creativity of this easy arts and crafts project.

  • Weekend Warrior: Prepare the Lawn & Garden for Winter

    To protect the year round wellbeing of your lawn and garden, you must prepare for winter. Failing to do this work before it gets too cold may cost you in the spring, as small issues often turn into major problems. Here are several tips for preparing the lawn and garden for winter:

    • Mow the lawn until the grass stops growing. Doing so will make the grounds more attractive and make raking easier. Mowing will also give the yard extra nutrients. Purchase your mower at
    • Rake leaves to prevent certain areas of the lawn and garden from not getting enough sunlight.
    • To keep trees and bushes healthy, remove dying and decaying branches.
    • Those in regions with mild winters can continue to water the lawn every 2-3 weeks, depending on rainfall.
    • When the first hard freeze arrives, apply 2-4 inches of mulch around plants. Distribute the mulch evenly over the soil, but refrain from packing it down too tightly. Mulching helps prepare the yard for winter by guarding against colder temperatures and harsh weather.
    • Start a compost pile in order to put the yard waste to good use as a soil supplement. Keep your compost pile close to the garden. Doing so will allow you to easily carry material back and forth.
    • The first layer of the compost pile should be green material, such as leaves, clippings, and other non-meat kitchen scraps. The second layer should be brown material such as garden soil, brown leaves, straw, and coffee grounds.
    • Turn your compost mound throughout the winter. If the mound gets black, crumbly, and sweet smelling, it is ready to be used as garden fertilizer.
    • Remove annuals that are not at their peak – leave their roots to decompose and enrich the soil.
    • Pull leftover leaves from the garden and clear out any other debris from the beds and borders of the garden. Doing so will prevent mold, mildew, and other problems that can result from stagnation.
    • Turn water off to outdoor spigots.
    • Protect outdoor spigots with insulated foam covers.
    • Clean out gutters.
    • Clean garden tools, and remove dirt, grime, and rust. Doing so will keep your tools ready for use next season.
  • Polar Vortex 2.0 (Infographic)

    Last winter was one of the coldest on record thanks to the Polar Vortex that enveloped most of America. This year is shaping up to be just as, if not more frigid than last. How is a Polar Vortex formed and what can you expect this winter season? We've compiled some facts and figures about the upcoming Polar Vortex 2.0 to get you prepared for the long cold months ahead. Continue reading

  • Arts and Crafts: Autumn Inspired Arts & Crafts for Kids

    Arts and crafts allow kids to express their imagination and accomplish their goals, through project completion. Incorporating prominent aspects of the autumn season into arts and crafts allows youngsters to explore ideas and concepts within a specific theme. As a learning activity, crafting projects can boost the development of a child in areas like music, science, math, and nutrition. Here are some fun fall oriented arts and crafts projects to keep kids busy this season. It is recommended that supervising adults purchase the equipment at and try out these projects ahead of time. Autumn

    Tissue Paper Wreath – Easy and beautiful, this craft is best for toddlers and preschoolers. Items needed include paper plates, colorful tissue paper, glue, a brown paper bag, and artificial flowers/leaves. First, cut out the center of the paper plate to use as the base for the wreath. Tear the brown bag into strips that look like twigs or branches. Glue the strips around the wreath. Next, crumple 3x3 inch squares of the colored tissue paper and glue the pieces to the wreath. Using a low-heat glue gun, add a few artificial leaves to the wreath, as well as a ribbon for hanging.

    Autumn Night Lights – This project involves the use of candles. Make sure an adult is present when kids are at the final step. You’ll need dried fall leaves, some mason jars, mod podge, a paintbrush, and votive candles. Start by coating the outside of the jar with a layer of mod podge. Arrange the leaves on the outside of the jar and then coat them with another layer of mod podge. Arrange the leaves in an overlapping manner, to create a pretty pattern. Allow the jars to dry overnight. The next evening, have a supervising adult place a lit candle on the inside. The simplistic beauty of this project will amaze kids. Best of all, parents can proudly display these night-lights throughout the season.

    Autumn Leaf Sun catchers – This activity can be started by an adult and finished by kids. Necessary materials include paper plates, scissors, transparent contact paper, fall leaves, markers, a hole punch, and yarn. First, cut out the inner circle of the paper plate. Second, cut circles from the contact paper to fit over the opening. The contact paper should be cut about half an inch wider than the inner circle so that it overlaps. Allow the kids to arrange the leaves on the contact paper in whatever pattern they wish. Next, add another circle of contact paper over the top to protect and hold the leaves in place. Fun for the kids, the paper portion of the plate can be decorated with paint, markers, or crayons. Finally, make a hole at the top of the paper plate and insert yarn to hang the autumn leaf sun catcher.

  • Arts & Crafts: Crafty Uses for Mason Jars Around the House

    Mason jars are highly versatile and can be utilized for various purposes in and around the house. They are also a great medium for packaging presents - particularly useful with the upcoming holiday season. At their most simplistic level, Mason jars can be used for preserving food items or holding drinks. Beginner DIY enthusiasts can get crafty with these glass jars and elevate them into something special. The tools needed for the projects below can be found at

    Mason Jar

    Vase – While people can add water and flowers into a plain Mason jar, a recent trend has been to paint and decorate the exterior of the glass based on a particular theme or color. There are infinite possibilities including fall-inspired designs, snowman vases, and candy cane themed options. Gather chalkboard paint, sandpaper, a paintbrush, chalk, and wax paper to give your painted Mason jars a distressed look. Working over the wax paper, add the first coat of chalkboard paint. Allow the paint to dry completely and then add a second coat, if desired. Once dried, sand the exterior of the jar, especially at places where there is a raised logo and at the mouth of the jar. To finish the look, rub the entire jar with chalk. Wipe away the excess chalk dust and do one more application of chalk. When these steps are finished, you’ve got yourself a vintage vase!

    Glass Jar Photo Frames – You can turn Mason jars into picture frames to add a modern edge to any décor. There are two main ways to bring this vision to life. First, print out the images in sizes that will display fully within the Mason jar. Second, hold the jar opening upside down and insert the image. You will then be able to place the jar on any ledge, desk, or shelf for display. The other option is to insert your image into the Mason jar with the jar sitting upright. Next, pour enough vegetable oil inside the jar to cover the image completely. Add some dried flowers to the oil and tighten the lid. The vegetable oil will allow the image to be suspended in the jar without doing any damage to the photo.

    Seasonal Snow Globes – Create a mini winter wonderland within a Mason jar in just a few steps. Using waterproof glue, attach a few small holiday figurines such as pine trees and reindeers to the inside of the Mason jar lid. Fill the jar with water, silver glitter, and a few drops of glycerin, if you want to make the glitter fall more slowly. Place the lid on the jar and screw the cap on. Turn the jar over, shake, and you’ve got a snow globe. (You can also do this project without water in the jar and use the finished product as décor on the table or around the house.)

    Liquid Soap Dispenser – You’ll need a Mason jar (with the lid), liquid soap, a hammer, nail, hot glue gun, and spray paint if you want to add some color to the jar. Punch a hole in the lid for the soap pump using the nail and hammer – start with a small hole since you can always make it bigger. Spray-paint the outside of the lid pieces if desired, and fill the jar with soap. Hot glue the dispenser around the base of the pump. Now, your dispenser is ready for use!

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