Tag: Paint

25 Hauntingly Outstanding DIY Halloween Decorations

 

If you aren’t one for cutesy Halloween decor, these 25 scary ideas are for you. These DIY Halloween decorations are hauntingly outstanding!  I hope they scare the pants off you and your visitors.

 

  1. Skeleton Entryway Pots by The Keeper of Cheerios

 

2. Dangling Spider Web by PBS

 


 

3. Zombie Barbies by Crafts by Amanda

 


 

4. Cardboard Tombstone by eHow

 


 

5. Halloween Spell Book by Pop Sugar

 


 

 

6. Packing Tape and Trash Bag Ghost by Monster Tutorials

 

DIY Halloween Decorations: Packing tape and trash bag ghost

 

7. Jack of Lanterns Tv by Crafts by Amanda

 

DIY Halloween Decorations Jack of Lanterns tv

 

8. Apothecary and Potion Bottles by Cathartic Crafting

DIY Halloween decorations: Apothecary jars

 

9. Ghostface Pictureframe by eHow

 

DIY Halloween Decorations : Ghostface Pictureframe

 

10. Paper Towel Candles by House of Dewberry

 

DIY Halloween Decorations Paper Towel Candles

 

11. Creepy Halloween Candles by Cheltenham Road

 


 

12. Life Size Spider Victim from Instructables

 


 

13. DIY Crystal Ball by Atta Girl Says

 


 

14. DIY Giant Spider by Dead and Daughter’s Paul Jones

 


 

15. Homemade Burlap Mask

 


 

16. Haunted Mirror by Life with Lorelai

 


 

16. DIY Spooky Crystal Ball Halloween Candlesticks by Flamingo Toes

 


 

17. Creepy Halloween Well from Halloween Forum

 


 

18. Spooky Book Covers by Cathartic Crafting

 


 

19. Man Eating Plant 


 

20. Floating Head Hanging Ghost by Simply Designing


 

21. Spooky Bat Chandelier by A Diamond in the Stuff

 


 

22. Skeleton Dish by Four Front Doors

 


 

23. Bubbling Witch Cauldron

 


 

24. Pallet Coffin 

 


 

25. Halloween Window Silhouettes by Laughing Squid

 

 

I hope some of those DIY Halloween Decoration ideas struck your scary bones. What’s the point of the holidays if you can’t use them as an excuse to craft!

Use that Hidden Wall Space for a Recessed Bookcase

During our many visits to the build of our new (and now previous) house, I took notice of the framing of an odd space. It seemed like an odd notch to leave, so I assumed it was intended to house ductwork or something of that nature. I kept it in the back of my mind for a future possible recessed bookcase project. As my oldest book-loving daughter crept into her teenage years, she was ready for a change in bedroom scenery. When I mentioned my idea, she wouldn’t stop asking when I was going to complete it. I was finally able to put it on the to do list to complete it over a weekend while my husband was away. That’s incidentally one of my favorite times to get things done because messes stress him out.  This project definitely generated some dust and mess.  

Before Book Shelf

The then existing bookshelf came from my sister when she moved across the country. It certainly served its purpose but wasn’t the nicest piece of furniture.

Blank Canvas for a Recessed Bookcase

I started off by drilling a hole at the bottom of the wall to check the depth of the space. It would have been terrible to start going crazy cutting away the drywall to find I wasn’t actually able to use it. The depth was about a foot, so I was safe.

My dad showed up to lend me some tools to make this job a little easier. One of those tools was a drywall saw. Using a square and tape measure, I penciled the line for sawing. It was essentially the edge of the wall’s 2 x 4’s. The top edge aligned with the door frame. My dad is not great at sitting idle, so he helped with sawing the drywall. I’ll rarely complain about free help. 

And of course, the kid crew sat and watched us work. The oldest monitored the progress to gauge how long until she’d get to load the shelves. 

Look at all that dead space behind the wall! I could have gone with a pull out bookcase with a hidden nook. 

 Can’t forget about the drywall behind the trim! I admittedly did at first but quickly realized it when fitting the shelf frame into the space. Certainly, the other option would be to cut out the trim as well, but I didn’t want to have to mess with cutting and all that extra stuff. 

Recessed Bookcase Shelf Build

Tools & Supplies

  • 3/4″ Plywood
  • 1/4″ Plywood
  • Wood Trim
  • Wood Glue
  • Screws
  • Square
  • Tape Measure
  • Nail Gun
  • Level
  • Clamps
  • Sand paper
  • Stain or Paint

Thankfully, this project didn’t stress the wallet (since it was pre-COVID wood price spike). The side pieces were cut to the height of the opening from floor to top. Then it was just a matter of cutting the top and shelves all the same size to fit in between the side panels.

As to be expected with any build, the level and square were necessary to ensure all the shelves would be level to the floor. The bottom shelf aligned with the height of the trim, so the trim would serve as the front space coverup. I stained all of my pieces with a white stain before putting them all together. With some glue and screws drilled into the shelf from the outside, the bookshelf was almost to the finish line.  

The 1/4″ board was cut to the full width of the shelf and nailed down with the nail gun. Let me tell you what; a decent nail gun makes a ton of difference when compared with a cheapy. It’s on my list of tools to geta better version. There are two types, a brad nailer and a finish nailer. A brad nailer would be best for the structural builds, while the finish nailer is best for baseboards or trim. The higher priced versions are both are likely to be battery operated as opposed to the less expensive, which require an air compressor. Just depends on what level of mobility is desired. 

Final Finishings of the Recessed Bookcase

With the constructed bookshelf in place, it was just a matter of affixing the sides to the existing studs with wood screws. I chose to cover the screw heads with wood filler that I then stained white to keep them from sight. 

Some inexpensive trim was last up. I cut the trim ends at the top at 45-degree angles with the miter saw to create the 90-degree angle. I used the finish nailer to secure it to the stud and bookcase edges. A bit of spackle and white paint was all that remained on the project to do list.

Later, when I wasn’t as happy with the floor ends of the trim being uneven with the floor trim, I decided to fill the space with wood filler. I used the dremel to sand it to a similar shape that melded with the floor. I was glad to have another project on which to practice my dremel skills. It definitely wasn’t excellent, but it did the job well enough.  I also covered the screw holes with wood filler as well. After a coating of stain on the screws and paint on the trim, it was good to go. 

After years of contemplation, it was super exciting to have finally pulled the trigger on the project. The outcome was visually more appealing than the previous bookshelf, a space saver, and my daughter absolutely loved it. Sometimes, I kick myself for waiting too long to try something new that is somewhat scary. I know the project may not always come out the best, but the win is in the free-fall plunge. Check out the rest of the room makeover here and revamp of the old bookcase into a Bakery and Lemonade Stand my 11-year-old used to make money for donation.

Go Ahead and Try Something New Today!

Studies suggest we fear an unknown outcome more than we do a known bad one.

Trying New Things. Why new experiences are so important to have

Benefits of trying something new:

  • Trying something new often requires courage
  • Trying something new opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new.
  • Trying something new keeps you from becoming bored
  • Trying something new forces you to grow

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Ikea Desk Hack for Added Storage and Organization

Last year, my youngest was saddened by the fact that she was the only sister in our house not to have her own desk. As a 6-year-old, it hadn’t been that big of a need in my mind. Regardless, she desperately wanted a place of her own to draw and craft. My sister ended up having an extra Ikea desk ready for the taking. It was thankfully small for her fairly crowded room. My little gal happily filled the one drawer to the max with pencils, crayons, papers, erasers, and all the things.

It didn’t take long for the contents of the drawer to start overflowing onto the desktop and the floor. With the start of virtual school, she needed for it to be clear enough to work off. She loved the idea of adding a little extra storage so away I went with creating a plan for this Ikea desk hack.  

Ikea Desk Type

This revamp is specific to the Micke Desk from Ikea available for the low price of $49. If your child is anything like mine, the drawer will simply not suffice for the amount of stuff desired to be shoved into a desk. 

MICKE Desk, white, 28 3/4x19 5/8 "

MICKE Desk, white, 28 3/4x19 5/8 "

Ikea Desk Hack Supplies

I took my oldest with me to purchase the supplies. While we were there, she accidentally kicked her croc onto the higher stack of wood. I had to ask for a worker to get it and she was mighty embarrassed! Just goes to show that not every Home Depot/Lowes trip is run of the mill! I was just glad the trip didn’t involve a string of complaints about the store and how long I was taking.

  • 1/4″ plywood
  • 1/4″ x 4″ X 6″ Pine board
  • Wood Glue
  • Paint
  • Metal Wire Basket
  • 4 small hinges
  • knob

Tools

  • Sand Paper
  • Clamps
  • Saw
  • Nail Gun

Measurements

  • 1/4″ x 15″ x 13 5/8″
  • 3- 1/4″ x 4″ x 18 3/4″
  • Lid – 1/4″ x 4″ x 19 1/2″
  • Long side – 1/4″ x 4″ x 29 1/4″
  • Short side – 1/4″ x 4″ x 13 11/16″
  • Bottom – 1/4″ x 4″ x 19 1/8″
  • 1/4″ x 4″ x 10″
  • 2- 1/4″ x 3″ x3 3/16″
  • 1/4″ x 5 1/4″ x 3 2/8″
  • 1/4″ x 4″ x 5 3/8″

I purposely chose the four-inch width wood, so I wouldn’t have to cut the depth. The project was a lot easier by primarily only needing to cut the length. After cutting all my boards, it was only a matter of gluing the boards together and clamping them while they dried. Once they were dry, I used the nailgun to secure them together. 

I had to do a bit of searching for a four inch basket that would fit an acceptable amount in it. I finally found a Metal Wire Hanging Basket from Hobby Lobby. Then, I based my measurements on the basket.

So a few cuts with the saw, some wood glue and fires of the nail gun and the build is complete. I affixed it to the desk using only wood glue. I was fully expecting to have to use nails or screws but didn’t want to mar the inside surface of the Ikea desk. I’ve been amazed at how well it’s stayed together with only that! It survived a move, but I’m still waiting for when I’ll have to use some hardware. 

The Disastrous Before…

Aye caramba! All the little pieces!

My youngest struggles more than any of them to keep her room in any semblance of order. As the youngest, she’s generally had a helper for most things and readily provides the excuse “she doesn’t know how”. Such disasters can wreak havoc on your mental wellness, especially when trying to navigate the mess just to say goodnight to them. Routine and set visual instructions (like pictures on bins) will be a great help for any children who struggle with this. It’s also going to be really important to start them with small and easy steps, “like pick up the dirty clothes first”. Anyway, Printable Parents has free printable visuals on the topic if you’re interested! 

The Glorious After

Polka dot paper sorter and rotating pen sorter curtesy of Home Goods! I can’t get enough of them.

A tall paper and book slot. She uses a lot of my 12×12 scrapbook paper so that was why I chose to make it the size I did.

Side Project

My little one picked out some fake flowers on a trip to Walmart and then wanted a vase for them. We had a bunch of fire limbs, so I cut one to size. Using a Dremel, I carved into the wood and used a large 1/2″ drill bit to create the hole for the flowers. It was a snap!

 

And that is a wrap on this easy Ikea Desk hack. A wallet-friendly desk and wood purchase that will give your self-esteem a little boost every time you see what you were able to do. If you’re looking for more ideas for kids’ rooms check out Successfully Controlling Stuffed Animal Clutter with a Craft, Imagination Closet for a Child’s In House GetawayBrilliantly Beautiful Kid’s Rainbow Room Idea, or Crafting a Calming Corner to Assuage Parent and Child.

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Easy Cricut Hexagon Stencil Dresser Refinish

While we discussed the move to our new house, my youngest daughter had a specific image in mind for her new room. She absolutely had to have a hexagon stenciled wall. Thanks so our new homes previously owners, I had four dressers ripe for refinishing, so it was a great opportunity to use another hexagon stencil to spice up a dresser. I did a brief search for a hexagon stencil but didn’t find what I needed. That only meant it was a great opportunity to use my new Cricut to create the stencil for both the wall and dresser.

Prep Work

I love a project that doesn’t involve much prep work. As I’ve stated in other posts, sanding isn’t my favorite thing to do by hand. With my feathered bench refinishing project, I used a deglosser for the first time and found a new love. That same sander deglosser was what I used to take off the remaining shine of this old dresser.  Using a clean rag, the deglosser was rubbed on all the surfaces of the dresser. 

Paint Choice

Paint choice is important and the choices are endless. The fun thing about being in a new town is finding new stomping grounds. My girls and I checked out a nearby antique shop and certified stockist of Annie Sloane paint, called The Farmhouse. The thing about specialty paints, like Fusion Paint and Annie Sloane, is that it can be difficult to find exactly what you want without having to cart yourself clear around your state. I lucked out here with this shop being just 10 minutes away. The pure white paint was calling me, so that’s what I went with for the hexagon stencil dresser. The only other project I’d used Annie Sloan paint with was my Antique Chabby Chic Hutch redo. Many refinishers love Annie Sloan, so I kind of felt obligated to give it a more full-scale try. 

The hexagon color pallet was a given, I used the same colors as the walls in my daughter’s room. 

The handles stumped me a bit on color choice. I didn’t want to run to yet another store to buy different spray paint, so I choose out of my existing stock of colors. The teal was the closest I had to the hexagon stencil colors but it didn’t feel quite right. In the end, the teal is as they remain, although I ended up buying some clearance sea glass at Michaels that may just end up covering the teal at some point. Only motivation and other finished projects will tell!

Paint Application

You hear a lot about importance of the paint brush choice when refinishing furniture or really any other painting project. This rounded paint brush is an Annie Sloan brush. The website description says “Annie Sloan’s bristle Chalk Paint® Brushes are perfect for producing a textured, vintage finish. The bristles are strong, yet pliable, and are made of predominately pure bristle with natural split ends, allowing you to paint expressively. They hold a large amount of paint and can also be used for applying wax.”

I agree it holds a good bit of amount and definitely gives it a textured finish. Pictures below will show proof of it. Since the dresser started out with a dark cherry finish, the first coat of the Pure White Paint didn’t appear too cover much. I ended up doing three coats to get full coverage . It didn’t really feel like much work at all. I would throw a coat on, go complete some other tasks, then return for another round.

Hexagon Stencil

Unfortunately, I realized after the fact I was millimeters off on my wall hexagon stencil so was determined to get this smaller 3 inch hexagon stencil right. I used 12 x 12 Acetate stencil material I bought on Amazon to create the stencil with my Cricut. Here is the stencil pattern if you’re interested. After the tedious work of getting it just right, I went about painting the hexagons. 

The stenciling component was smaller in scale but felt like it took longer than painting the coats over the enter thing. I did one 12 x12 section at a time. Waiting was the name of the game, because I had to wait for it to dry enough to lay the stencil on the next section without creating a mess. After about 15 sections or so, the top was finished! My hexagon loving 7 year old was over the moon. 

The Finishings

The call in me to rough it up a bit had to be reined in to fit the modern look of the hexagon dresser, but I decided to go for a small amount around the drawer edges. This is simply accomplished with sandpaper and muscle. With a less than careful new user, I figured there was bound to be some scratching of the finish in its future. It seemed worth it to give it some of that charm ahead of time. 

As I noted above with the rounded paint brush, there was a definite texture to the finish. This can be seen in the first image below. My daughter was less than keen on the roughness, so I opted to sand down the ridges to a smoother finish. After the sanding, the finish was so wonderfully soft and smooth. The middle and right pictures show the difference. 

And with that, this Hexagon Stencil Dresser Refinish was a wrap. At the time, I didn’t have the right wax on hand. I moved it to the room to get it out of the overwhelmingly messy basement. My little gal loves her room and dresser with all the finishing touches just as she dictated. She’s the same daughter who wanted the Imagination Galaxy closet, which I completed the day before we moved furniture in to our new digs. This is also why she wants no part of giving up her room for the new baby sister due in December. This new room is definitely her safe space to feel completely in her element.

Safe Spaces for your Mental Health

Some of us don’t always have a safe space where we can create things just as we’d like. Sometimes, anxiety or feelings of extreme stress can strike when we don’t expect it in public, at the office, or at home. Not only is it important to create physically comfortable and safe spaces for when the need strikes, it can also help to create safe mental spaces. Using some soothing safe space imagery,

You can train and tone up your imagination like a muscle, so it works for you and not against you, helping you manage or soothe emotions at times of stress or difficulty. This builds inner-confidence and resilience, benefiting your overall wellbeing.

Sarah Rees, CBT therapist

On her website, Sarah Rees offers instructions on 7 steps to Safe Place Imagery Practice. If you’re feeling bogged down by mental madness, why not try to mentally create a place of calm in any situation. I know I benefit from focusing on something specific for a short time to unwind from the stress knots. For me, it tends to be running through how I’m going to accomplish a project that has been pending or is stuck on how it can be completed. I hope you find your mental and physical places of comfortable and calm today!

 

 

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Brilliantly Beautiful Kid’s Rainbow Room Idea

 

As I posted in a previous Rainbow decor and rainbow fan post, my middle child is an avid rainbow lover and has been since she was a toddler. We redid her room for her 10th birthday in full rainbow fashion. Nine months later we were getting ready to move. With the prospect of a new room to design, a rainbow room was still the desire. She wanted a rainbow tree similar to one I painted on a canvas for her. From there it was just a matter of figuring out how to get the rainbow around the room. That’s when the butterfly rainbow room idea was born!

 

Rainbow chair, rainbow shelves, rainbow curtains, and rainbow lamp from our previous room makeover.

Rainbow Room Tree Mural

I also have a lifelong love; of drawing and painting trees. That’s not to say I’m super great at it but it’s been a focus of many of my sketches and paintings. At my daughter’s painting party a few years ago, I painted a rainbow tree for her on a small canvas. We used that as the inspiration here. I started by painting the trunk using cheap acrylic paint. After the base coat dried, I started with the details to give it some dimension. 

Using bunched-up paper towels, I dabbed each color starting with purple onto the wall. I can attest that it’s much easier than trying to paint leaves. After doing a layer of coloring, I did another coat of a dark shade of each color. Again, the idea was some added dimension. That’s all it took to finish the tree.

Rainbow Butterflies in Action

I got a Cricut for Christmas and had been itching to use it for something. This was the perfect opportunity to create sheets of rainbow butterflies to fly around the room. Here’s the template I created, which I’m attaching free for you to use, Butterfly Template.  To start, I bought a rainbow pack of cardstock. With the template created and the cardstock in hand, it was just a matter of waiting for the many sheets to print/cut. 

Butterflies Lifting Off into the Air

Using a double-sided tape roll, I stuck each butterfly to the wall with the wings flapping out. My daughter wanted the 3D effect, which I totally understood. Some butterflies fluttered to the ground and needed a bit more stick to them. I placed a good amount flying out from the tree and then the rest fluttered around the rest of the room. 

Completed Rainbow Room

 

From removing clutter to adding art that speaks to your happy emotions, your living spaces can contribute to your mental health. I know my daughter is completely happy in space being surrounded by the colors and things she loves. As noted in the article, How to Optimize your Space for Your Mental Health,

While there are many ways to improve your mental health including therapy, meditation, exercise, hobbies, a healthy diet, and time spent with loved ones, there are also small things we can do to create a shift in our mood. One of those small things is tweaking the space in which we live and work. These small changes and tweaks can make a world of difference in your overall mental well-being.

Very Well Mind

 

Don’t delay in creating your happy places!

 

 

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

An Inspiring Way to Refinish an Antique Dresser

If you’re anything like me, you peruse the Facebook marketplace every now and again for some “window shopping”. I was on just such a trip when I spotted an antique dresser being unloaded by the previous would-be refinisher. It was a steal! I jumped on that as quick as I could type “interested!”. From there, it was just a matter of my mind diving into identifying just the right direction. Follow along with me on my antique dresser refinish. I really hope it inspires you on your own journey!

Structure Fixes

The top was in the roughest shape. Since much of it was peeling off, there wasn’t much I could do to salvage it. I scraped off the chipping wood and sanded down the top. I considered adding a 1/4″ thick board to the top to replicate the upper layer but made the wise decision to leave it as it was. 

The rest of the dresser was in really good shape. The existing finish was a matte finish so all that was necessary was to clean it. Paint would adhere very well without needing to sand it. In my world, that is the best kind of piece!

The top middle drawer was stuck in there without having a handle to pull it out. I was able to get it out by wedging a tool into the hole and the edges to shimmy it out. 

Breaking out the Paintbrush

I went the budget friendly route on this paint choice and used my favorite 40% off coupons at Michaels to get three colors: Light gray, dark gray, and white. Typically, I try to avoid having to use blue tape (I just don’t like spending the time doing it), but it was definitely necessary for this paint job to create straight lines. I chose to use white as the dominant color and light and dark gray as the border and stencil color.  

Stencils!

My stencil phase was really kicking into gear at the point of this project, so it was a given I was going to do something utilizing the technique. (Check out my other stencil projects: Stenciled Coffee Table and feathered bench.) I again used a Michael’s coupon to get a damask stencil. From there, it was just a matter of letting my imagination go free to determine what I wanted it to look like. When doing the stencil, I did a combination of the light and dark grays to create more dimension. It, of course, would have been fine to do all one shade, but I didn’t want to overwhelm with the dark paint or for it to be harder to see with the light gray. I coated the entire dresser in clear wax to finish it off. The final results are below!

Drawer Liner

Given that the inside of the drawers would be covered with clothes, you may not find it important to use a liner. I liked the fun of the pop of pattern, so I opted to spend a few more bucks to get the drawer liner. I found this liner at Walmart. It has the handle grid on the back for cutting. All it took was to measure the inside of the drawer space, cut the paper to size with the grid, peel, and stick. It can be a bit hard to get completed smooth, but if you continue to rub the bumps, it get’s the job done.

Finishing Touch

The dresser just needed some knobs to call it complete. I searched around for a good bit. Home Goods and Hobby Lobby sell knobs in the stores but the selection wasn’t great to match what I was searching to get. I found these knobs on Amazon:

I loved the look of them and the coloring was perfect. After having used several other knob types, I can verify for you that while these knobs may come loose with use, the screw will not pull out of the knob. The screw can be seen at the front of the knob and goes all the through as opposed to being glued into the knob. It’s much more secure that way. 

Putting the Antique Dresser into Place

The plain jane white dresser was swapped out for the refinished antique dresser.

The canopy bed was one my parents made for me as a child. I made the curtains to appease my little one.

I hope you enjoyed the quick and easy journey. Refinishing doesn’t have to be scary. If you can find one like this that doesn’t need a lot of structure fixing, then you are basically only left to the confines of your creativity. While we are on the topic, check out the benefits of creativity:

Turns out, tapping in to that creative energy can actually improve your overall health. It might sound too good to be true, but simply engaging in creative behaviors (even just coloring in those trendy adult coloring books) improves brain function, mental health, and physical health.

Forbes
5 benefits of Being Creative:
  1. Increases happiness
  2. Reduces dementia
  3. Improves mental health
  4. Boosts your immune system
  5. Makes you smarter

With this benefits, there’s no reason not to let unlock that creativity today! Happy Crafting!

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

The Ultimate Cardboard Gingerbread House for Christmas Crazed Kids

As some of my other posts show, I have a strong love for cardboard. It’s easy to find, it’s free, it’s got a nice balance of flexibility and strength, fairly easy to manipulate, and it’s recyclable. I mean, with all those great characteristics, who wouldn’t love it?! I started just as many other parents, by providing the big box to the child, allowing their imagination to run wild. Since I love allowing my imagination to go wild, that only lasted so long for me. When we moved into our current house, I finally had the open space to run a little wild.
I made my first cardboard gingerbread house about 5 years ago. It stayed up well over a year before we took it down. My youngest spent many hours playing in that little house and why I recommend you make one of your very own if you’ve got the space. I hope my ideas help to inspire your own!

Now onto the Build

Materials:

  • Big and small cardboard boxes
  • Paper towel rolls or wrapping paper rolls
  • Contact paper
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Egg
  • Sticks
  • Scissors and/or razor
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks (check out this link for a cordless hot glue gun, I know what I’m putting on my Christmas wish list!!!)
  • Paint and paintbrushes
  • Fake snow or whatever Christmas element you’d like to add

To start, it’s really up to the boxes you have on hand to determine your eventual house shape. Hot glue is a wonderfully quick and sturdy option to glue your pieces together. Thankfully, I had huge boxes from a refrigerator, a washer, dryer, and couches. I’ve found it’s quite easy to cut at the corners by running a razor down through it. 

I painted the wrapping paper rolls with the candy cane strips before cutting them open in one straight line. This was to open them up for gluing on the corners of the house/box. I truly loved the effect. We made some peppermints out of other bits of cardboard and hot glued them onto the front. From there, it was just a matter of painting the house front as we desired. 

The Front Door: the magical entrance to an imagination space

For the door, I cut out an open panel to let the girls have a spot to look through while in the house. To give it a personalized touch, I used contact paper so my girls could create a little winter scene. I sealed it with a backside of contact paper and glued it to the back of the door. 

For the handle, I knew I wanted to make it able to turn and “lock” into position. Below is what I came up with based on what I had on hand. My motto is generally to use what I have rather than look to buy something. I used a toilet paper roll and two wooden dowels I had for cake stability or some other craft project. It was easy enough to cut the hole for the toilet paper roll and holes for the sticks that would keep the door in place. The problem was that the toilet paper roll wasn’t strong enough on the edge now to be crushed.

A bit of ingenuity

I came up with using an egg out of my fridge. I blew out the innards and then coated it in Mod Podge to seal it and give it some added strength. After that, I stuck the egg into the end of the toilet paper roll. Looking back, I admit it does seem rather odd, but it worked perfectly and lasted a really really long time. It wasn’t until we had some little boys over to play that one egg ended up crushed, cause, you know, BOYS. 

For the chimney, I used a white square cardboard box. It was easy to cut the bottom at the angle of the roof. Then, my oldest daughter helped me to paint the stone look of it. I used some super hard corner cardboard pieces (the kind that comes with appliances or furniture) as the roof seam. 

“He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas

Stepping inside this Cardboard Gingerbread House

Obviously, a cozy Cardboard Gingerbread house isn’t much without a roaring stone fireplace. Using another super-stiff box, I cut it in half and then cut the front down the middle to be able to bend back for the fireplace shape. My oldest was then 7 and really enjoyed helping paint the stones. You can really see the concentration on her face here. Did you know crafting with kids can build their confidence? As they start to see the results of their work, it proves how much they can do just by trying. 

With the fireplace in place, it was only a matter of rolling up some brown cardstock into sticks and cutting and gluing some tissue paper together to create the roaring fire. There were cut off corner pieces needing to be repurposed, so I glued them to the corners as shelves. In the below photo, you can hopefully see I used some bent cardboard as roof supports to keep it solidly in place. It was easy enough to then tuck the light strings into the open spots. 

Just a few hours of crafting and engineering precision, created years of enjoyment for my three girls!

Upping the ante with Cardboard Gingerbread House #2

For my daughter’s 6th birthday, I made a Haunted Cardboard house for the birthday party. Since I’d put so much work into it, we weren’t about to take it down right afterward. Together, we spruced it up to turn it into another cardboard gingerbread house. Because I’m a bit of a hoarder, not really, just an avid “repurposer”, we were able to use the chimney and fireplace we’d created the first time around.

Join me on the Inside

Obviously, the square footage of this house was a great deal more than the previous one. The girls were able to go full-on Christmas on the inside. It was such a fun Christmas activity to get us in the spirit!

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…”

Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas

 

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

How to Throw a Magical Harry Potter Party


My oldest and I were (and still are) true Harry Potter fans, so we planned years ahead that she would have a Harry Potter Party theme for her 11th birthday. I was beyond excited about the idea. I started my Pinterest board and made it my mission to create a fantastical version for my daughter. With her birthday being in mid-September, I started with preparations in July with the wands. My husband may have asked a few times how long I would be working on making wands, but you can’t mess with the artist’s methods and desires. Below is the full rundown on our Harry Potter Party. 

We blew up white balloons and drew owls on them with Sharpies. We attached an owl balloon to each invitation and hand-delivered it to each house for a truly authentic experience.

Harry Potter Party: The Journey begins with Platform 9 3/4

“For in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own.”

Albus Dumbledore

Diagon Alley

I used the same technique for both Platform 9 3/4 and Diagon Alley. This involved shades of brown and shades of red, a paper plate, water, and a sponge cut to brick size. I put a mix of the cheap acrylic paint shades on a plate and thinned them with water in a syringe. The sponge would absorb the color before I stamped it onto the curtain. I used a curtain panel I found at Goodwill for Platform 9 3/4 and butcher paper for Diagon Alley. 

Using cardstock in shades of red, clear fishing wire, and hot glue I made the rotating ‘bricks’ to keep with the authentic Harry Potter Party feel. This may well have been my favorite part of the whole party.

Quick Stop at Gringotts Bank for some Spending Gold

Each wizarding student received a gold coin from Gringotts Bank. On the back of the coin was a unique Harry Potter image. I had printed off images onto one piece of paper and taped them to the back of the coins. This was intentional so there wouldn’t be fighting at Eeylops Owl Emporium.

Eeylops Owl Emporium & Magical Menagerie

In order to keep party costs as low as I could, I asked family to help me check out Goodwill stores for good condition cats, owls and frogs to stock the menagerie. Now here is where the coins came into play. I picked a pet out of the stock and would call out the Harry Potter image I’d placed on it. This matched with the coin. I knew that kids would likely like specific animals and didn’t want to have them fighting over the same one. This pet was one of their party favors as well.  

Monster Book of Monsters at Flourish and Botts

For the full tutorial on my DIY Monster Book of Monsters, check out the instructions here.

Ollivander’s Wand Shop

There are definitely lots of options for you to pick from when it comes to wands. Premade is always an option, but if you’re like me, you enjoy the opportunity to express your creativity and save some money at the same time. I used Long Cooking Chopsticks as the base of the wand. From there, I used a variety of clay, hot glue, spray paint, and paint to create my own wands. The only one I made true to Harry Potter was the elder wand.

My mother in law happened to have a tall wide vase for me to use for the wand to choose the wizard. I used some purchased fairy lights inside the vase and left the on/off switch outside of it for me to be able to control the light. Each little wizard came up to pick a wand. They would continue to touch different wands until the lights lit up to indicate the wand had chosen. It was great fun. 

On to Hogwarts and the Sorting Hat

I seemed to do a fair bit of paper Mache these days. My sorting hat may very well have been the kick-off to that trend. Cardboard served for the brim, butcher paper to shape the point, then newspaper and flour-water mixture as the glue. I rejected not looking at a picture of a sorting hat while doing the face, but it is what it is. It also ended up being slightly small but worked out. 

The Great Hall

I bought battery-powered candles to hang from the ceiling with fishing line and tape.

I called each wizard to the chair and place the hat on their hat. There was a blue tooth speaker behind the chair connected to my phone. Based on the birthday girl’s list of picks, I played the particular Youtube bite on the Wizarding house selection. 

Classes Begin

 

With the wizards sorting into their houses, it was time for classes to begin…

I bought this Marauder’s Map for my daughter. If you really want to up your game though, check out this one: 

Herbology

For Herbology, I bought clay and tiny pots for the wizards to make their own mandrakes. They did a great job with them. I baked them in the oven while we completed the other classes. 

Live Portraits

We were cleaning out a storage room at work which had started to mold. It was just my luck that one of those items that had significant mold was a large painted picture with a magnificent frame. They were going to toss it, so instead, I took it home to take the painting out and repurposed it. It was a perfect set up for some live motion photos of each youth. It’s one of my signature party favors to include a photo of each youth with the theme. Just like in my detective party with the arrest photo.

I did a photo and a boomerang photo as they finished up with their mandrakes, which helped fill in time during the transition to Potions class.

Potions Class

This was supposed to be a growing snake, aka Basilisk, but I can’t say that it really worked very well. I was fairly worried I would set off the sprinklers.

Professor Flitwick’s Charms class

Wingardium Leviosa

Using their wands, they have to say “Wingardium Leviosa” and keep the balloons up as long as they could. The wizard who was able to keep it up the longest was the winner. 

We rounded out the classes with a games tournament. They sorted into their houses and played board games until their was only one winner for each house. Then the house winners, played against each other to get to win the house championship. With classes complete, it was time for a trip to Hogsmeade.

Day Pass to Hogsmeade

Honeydukes

I used Muggle Magic’s Honeydukes Chocolate Frog Box design for these boxes. For the frogs, I used Nerdy with Children’s recipe and tutorial. I ordered the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and the frog mold from Amazon.

Harry Potter Party Must Have: Butter Beer at the Leaky Cauldron

For adult and youth wizards alike, I used this Butterbeer recipe that includes Schnapps. For youth, I obviously took out the schnapps. They weren’t much fans of it, so I had a fair amount left after the party. I will have to use the ice cream version next time.

Next time I do this party (for the next two girls). I may opt for some premade options like Flying Cauldrons Butterscotch Beer.

Dumbledore’s Pensieve

I borrowed this Pensieve idea from Raegun Ramblings. It did not turn out that great, because I was rushing to get it done between getting home from work and the party starting.

To top off the sweets, I made a chocolate book cake to fulfill my cake decorating hobby needs. 

So that’s the rundown, I truly hope you enjoyed it and are able to grab some ideas for your very own Harry Potter Party.

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Budget-Friendly DIY Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter

My oldest daughter and I were super excited to do a Harry Potter themed birthday party for her 11th birthday. As I started on the plans, I knew I wanted a Monster Book of Monsters to be apart of it. From there, it was only a matter of finding the supplies and finding time.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Albus

Materials:

  • Wooden Box
  • Fur
  • Eye Balls
  • Clay
  • Paint and Brushes
  • Craft Glue
  • Hot glue and glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Paper and Printer
  • Mod Podge

Ready, Set, Go

I found a perfect wooden flip lid box at Michaels. I’m not sure if they still have this one, so here’s a different wooden book box that is currently available there.

monster book

I used light brown, red, and white clay for the fangs, teeth, tongue, and gums. First, the teeth were constructed into points. After flattening the red into a strip, I positioned the teeth to lie on the red strip. I layered the back with another red strip before pushing the red down around the teeth to show the ‘root’. The only thing you need to be careful of is not touching the white after touching the red. The picture shows that I did a bit of that. The fangs were super easy. Roll them to be smaller on one end and then curve them and presto!

Monster Book teeth

After baking the clay parts, it’s time to kick them up a notch with some paint to add dimension. I painted a bit of dark red and black onto the gums and tongue. Yellowish-brown served to give the teeth a gnarled look. Next, I painted the box with tan and dark brown to give it the look of pages as well as I could. Given that much of it is covered, I didn’t feel like I needed to give it much attention.

monster book pages

Monster Book Fur Cover

For the cover, I used two fur pieces I happened to find on clearance at Michaels. Crafting doesn’t get much easier than this step. Here it comes; glue the fur to the wood. Then….wait for it to dry. After that, I trimmed the length of the fur, because it was definitely too much. I also cut the perimeter into points and extra shagginess. 

 Those Eyes are Looking at You

Now onto the eyes. I also got the eyeballs at Michaels, but you’re not likely to find them in a store if it’s not around Halloween. I honestly wasn’t sure what to do with creating the eye mount. I thought about using oven-bake clay but was afraid it would melt the eyes. I went with a mountain of hot glue instead. After I piled it up, I painted it brown. I didn’t have enough red eyes, so I also painted the irises red. 

Monster book eyes

The book label was created in Microsoft Word and printed on computer paper. I trimmed the fur shorter in the spots where I was going to put the label before gluing the labels down. I put Mod Podge on the label to stiffen the paper. 

From there, it was just a matter of gluing on the fangs, teeth and tongue. I used hot glue initially, which worked just fine. Over time, the fangs have gotten knocked off a few times, so I’ve recently used super glue to get them to hold. As my girls would say, this DIY Monster Book of Monsters is easy peezy lemon squeezy. 

Spot light monster book of Monsters
Monster Book and wands
Finished Monster Book

If you’re looking for other Harry Potter crafts, try some apothecary bottles for Potions class or get some Harry Potter Party Ideas from my party post.

Spooky Tree Test Tube Holder for a Unique Apothecary

Troll boogers! Snail Slime! Dragon’s Blood! These are three of the Halloween test tubes I’ve for years as part of my Halloween Apothecary. They have been without a stand for years. This month I decided I was going to finally make a science-esk one out of wood. I was still hesitant because it felt too mundane. In the age of Pinterest, it feels pretty darn difficult to come up with something different. Sometimes, I feel stunted by thinking I can’t come up with anything unique. After some contemplation during a drive, I decided to make a spooky tree with curved limbs. Here’s the quick and easy rundown on this spooky tree test tube holder for any are looking to stray from the normal.

Materials: 

  • Wire
  • Wire Cutters
  • Clay
  • Paint
  • Airbrush (if you’ve got it)

For a reason I can’t remember, I’ve had two spools of this wire for years. I’ve used it for several random occasions on other craft ideas. It’s really what inspired me to craft this tree and provide stability. 

All my three daughters all being in fall sports. Sometimes, crafting boils down to finding a way to build in time around events on our schedule. My eldest had a fastpitch doubleheader an hour away from home. I took along my materials to get started on this quick Halloween decor. While the team warmed up for an hour, I worked on my tree in the parking lot.


Building the Base

 

First, I cut 6 wires of similar lengths. Then, I twisted two wires together to start forming the trunk. I added one each additional wire by twisting it around the base and leaving the ‘root’ for the stand and free limbs at the top. I finished it off by twisting two additional wires around the trunk to form curved limbs the would serve to hold the test tubes. Literally, a 10-minute step.

 

Clay for the Tree Test Tube Holder

I had already been making air-dry clay for another project, so I could easily use it for this project. I found this easy DIY air dry recipe from Kitchen Table Classroom to make porcelain clay. It was simple to make from ingredients in the kitchen but admittedly was not as good for what I needed the clay to do. I only used it for the base. I tried another porcelain clay recipe from Natural Earth Paint using only three cheap ingredients; cornstarch, baking soda, and water. This clay was a bit better but still quite loose/limp. 

 

I pressed the clay around all the metal limbs as best I could, adding free-standing clay limbs as I went. Molding the clay for this was unfortunately an example of one of those times when crafting can cause me more stress than alleviating it. I’ll just leave it at being highly perturbed by the difficulties of trying to get the limp clay to stay put. If I were to do it again, I would buy polymer clay from Michaels.  After letting it dry for a day, I started airbrushing.

Airbrushing Zen

 

 

While I completed the many layers of airbrushing in shades of brown, I was mentally focused on the stress I had been feeling around politics and the impending elections. I felt consumed by the emotions generated by the garbage being shared by people I was connected with on Facebook, some of them being relatives. As I slowly watched the paint spray out of the airbrush, I was contemplating how I could make positive steps to shifting others’ views in a positive way. We’ve been doing a fair bit of personal bias assessment as work, so it’s been fully present in my mind to assess if I’m being objective in my views. In fully trying to understand my own thoughts and feelings and contemplate the perspective of others, I couldn’t come to grips with the lies and delusions others allow themselves to believe.

 

Public service announcement on Political Stress

 

To sum it all up, I was feeling oppressive levels of stress around these unending thoughts. After doing a quick Google, I found quite a lot of references to political/election stress syndrome. Even thinking about it now makes my chest tighten. I quite liked this description I found.

Under stress, the Toddler brain (emotional, all-or-nothing, “Mine! No!”) hijacks the Adult brain, impairing its ability to take other perspectives, weigh evidence, see nuance, plan for the future, and create value and meaning. The Toddler brain is highly susceptible to emotional contagion; toddlers take on whatever negative emotions are around them, as any parent who has been tense or irritable near one can attest…

Part of my election stress disorder may be due to the fact that I’m vastly overworked. … Political campaigns set the web of emotion ablaze with negativity.

Psychology Today

If this resonates with you, there are a variety of things to try to combat the feelings. I’ve chosen to focus on the things I can control, to find my Zen in crafting, and to stay away from the offending sources. Although, over the last week I’ve also been immersed in a sea of stressful work deadlines, the political stress remains at bay. 

Back to this Test Tube Holder

I finished it off with a dark brown touch up around bends in the limbs and the roots. I put it with the rest of my Halloween apothecary set up and called it a day. If you are looking for another easy craft to take your mind to another level, try out these apothecary bottles! Happy haunting to you and yours!

RSS
Follow by Email
Pinterest
Pinterest
fb-share-icon
Instagram