Fun is Where You Find It (Part 8)

One of  the series of posts that I’ve produced that have received the most comment and views is the Fun is Where You Find It series. This series of posts is designed to help you do something fun for next to nothing. The fun today was started when someone gave me a basket filled with goodies for a special event. The basket is really interesting because it looks like a little house. Rather than put the basket aside as a means for packaging someone else’s gift, I decided to make something interesting for me in the form of a basket with silk flowers to decorate the house. Silk flowers are especially nice during the winter months because they perk the house up when there aren’t any real flowers available (except at a premium rate from the florist).

The basket was free, of course, and I did find a few flowers in the craft closet, but this turned into one of my more expensive projects. I spent about $20.00 in total for the supplies that I used for the basket. The first need is floral foam to use to hold the flowers in place. Floral foam comes as dry and wet blocks. For a project of this type, you need dry blocks. The blocks will require shaping. All you really need is a good utility length knife. Carefully cut the foam to fit the inside of your basket.

Of course, you also need some silk flowers and greenery. A friend and I went to a craft store and had a wonderful time perusing the assortment. I tried to shop carefully. It almost looked like I had too many flowers at first, but I amazingly didn’t end up with much left over. The flowers are always provided long, so you need a diagonal cutter to safely clip the stems to length. The diagonal cutter was the only tool I needed to get the job done besides a good, sharp, knife. Here’s the results of my efforts.

A flower basket in the shape of a house with a springtime arrangement.
Re-purposed Flower Basket

Even though this isn’t one of my less expensive projects, it should provide a nice decorative element for my home at a price far below what I would have paid for a finished item at the store. Let me know about your latest crafting project at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Fun is Where You Find It (Part 5)

Last year about this time, I posted the original Fun is Where You Find It! where I discussed the egg decorating kit we purchased for Easter. Of course, it’s a fun activity, so we did it again this year with Paas Basket Buddies egg decorating kit. Imagine seeing the cutest kittens and puppies on your Easter eggs and you’ll have an inkling of the results of using this kit. The online price of $4.99 is a little more than the $3.99 price we paid at our local store. The kit is on par with last year’s price. Eggs are a lot more expensive though at $1.59 for large eggs.

FunisWhereYouFindIt0505

The dyes used in this kit are a bit better than last year’s kit—I’m not sure why. It could be that the tie dye kit instructions were designed to produce better mixed results. We did use the vinegar method described on the box and soaked the eggs for around thee minutes each to obtain the results shown here.

FunisWhereYouFindIt0501

For once, our results actually matched those on the package for the most part. The six colors are: red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and pink. No matter what we tried, we couldn’t get the pink to turn out right. You can see the single pink egg in this dozen is speckled. It’s a pretty egg, but not the results we anticipated.

This is the kit to use if you have young children and don’t want any kind of a mess. Except for dipping the eggs, there really isn’t much risk of creating any sort of damage to clothing or furniture and an adult could perform the dipping part. The kit does come with 9 Eggarounds, which are wraps you put around your eggs, and then shrink into place. The Eggarounds look like this initially.

FunisWhereYouFindIt0502

Notice the somewhat tight fit. You have to use large eggs with the Eggarounds because they won’t shrink enough for medium eggs. On the other hand, some large eggs proved a little too large. Still, in the two dozen eggs we made up, there were plenty of eggs the right size. The box talks about two methods of working with the Eggarounds—the water shrinking method is messy and proved unsatisfactory. Using a blow dryer works as advertised. Here are the results we obtained from our eggs:

FunisWhereYouFindIt0503

You can see that our first egg has a few ripples in the surface. Playing some with the technique produced smoother results as we went along. I don’t think it’s possible to get a completely smooth surface without a lot of practice. However, the results are eye pleasing and fun to work with.

The kit also comes with 90 stickers. The Eggarounds took care of the decorating needs for 9 of the 24 eggs we cooked up. That left 15 eggs or six stickers per egg, which really isn’t enough to do the job. We decided to leave the pink eggs as they were, speckled, because they really are eye pleasing that way. Using eight to ten stickers per egg produces a nice result. Here is a typical result using eight stickers:

FunisWhereYouFindIt0504

Overall, we found this kit extremely easy to use. It required about 2 hours worth of effort for us to complete the 24 hard boiled eggs—making for some extremely cheap fun that we can benefit from later. The kit won’t support more than 24 eggs unless you don’t mind having some undecorated eggs at the end (colored, but without stickers). What sort of results do you get out of the egg decorating kits that you’ve tried? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Fun is Where You Find It!

There are many aspects to the self-sufficient lifestyle. One aspect is that you don’t have a lot of money for entertainment. However, if you’re self-sufficient, you quickly find that the fun aspect of entertainment has nothing to do with cost. Rebecca and I often entertain ourselves for free (or at least, next to free). So it was this past Saturday as we prepared for Easter. Every year we decorate some eggs for ourselves. Last year we used bought a glitter kit from the store, which didn’t work out as well as we would have liked (the glitter ended up on everything), but did produce a nice result. (I definitely wouldn’t mind trying it again, but would probably do things a bit differently this time.)

This year we used a Paas tie-dye kit to create some colorful eggs that are far less messy and store well too. Our total cost was about $4.00, including the eggs and we ended up with a second set of dye pellets leftover. Perhaps we’ll dye some eggs using the extra pellets during vacation this summer. The tie-dye kit was a tiny bit messy, so I wouldn’t recommend it for younger kidsat least not if you don’t want everything, including the kids, dyed spectacular colors. Here are the results we achieved:

EasterEggs

As you can see, they’re quite fancy and looked nice displayed in egg cups on the table (the holder shown in the picture was used only for drying). To get this effect, you wrap a piece of material around the egg, place the egg in a special holder, and inject colors using a syringe type device into holes in the holder. It took between 2 and 3 hours for us to complete the task. During that time we had a lot of fun and laughs, especially when a set of colors would produce unexpected results. We found that you need to leave the egg in the holder for a few minutes after injecting the colors to obtain optimal results. The bottom line is that you can have a ton of fun for nearly nothing if you try. So, how do you have fun on a budget? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.