25 Simple Things You Can Do To Go Green

April 25, 2011

We've been very busy talking about Easter projects and goodies these past few weeks, but I didn't want this day to go by without mentioning it.

This past Friday, April 22nd was the 41st anniversary of the first Earth Day. Earth Day is a day that was founded and is intended to raise awareness for our Earth's natural environment and promote green living.

As the population increases at a mind-boggling rate, more and more people are becoming increasingly aware and concerned about the threat to our world's natural resources.

Both BigSis and I have committed to making 2011 the year that we make going green a part of our daily lives. It doesn't take a lot of effort, but simple things we do every day can make a huge impact!

Did you know that you can run a TV for six hours on the amount of electricity that is saved by recycling one aluminum can? And by recycling one glass bottle, you save enough electricity to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

I've put together a list of 25 very simple things you can do right now to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life.


  • Bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping.
  • R, R, and R. Reduce consumption, reuse whatever possible, and re-purpose old items.
  • Know what can and can't be recycled in your area.
  • Use a reusable stainless steel water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles.
  • Buy recycled products.
  • Before you throw something out, research online to find out if it's recyclable. Items such as yoga mats and old gym shoes are now being recycled to make new products.
  • DON'T throw batteries or electronics into your trash.
  • Recycle your cell phones and computer equipment.
  • Give your gadgets a new life and fight e-waste by trading on Ebay Instant Sale.

Save energy.

  • Turn off all lights when not in use. (This is my biggest pet peeve and my hubby hears about it every time I walk in a room where he's left the lights on.)
  • Change all light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps, CFLs.
  • Unplug all electronics when not in use.
  • Lower your thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer.
  • When time to replace an appliance, choose one with an Energy Star Approval.
  • Wash as many clothes as possible in cold water.
  • Hang clothes on a rack or clothesline whenever possible instead of using the dryer.

Save water.

  • Switch to a low-flow shower head.
  • Repair leaky faucets.
  • Turn the water off when you brush your teeth.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry.
  • Take shorter showers. (This will lower your water bill and energy bill.)
  • Plant drought-tolerant, native plants in your garden.

Save a tree.

  • Convert to online statements and payments for as many bills as possible. To organize, just set up email folders for payment statements and confirmations.
  • Instead of tossing tons of paper, tissue, and gift bags each year, get creative and try packaging gifts in reusable items like tea towels, scarves, or bandanas.
  • Instead of buying boxed or bagged items, switch to glass storage containers and buy staples such as cereal, nuts, lentils, and rice in the bulk section of your store.

I hope this gives you some ideas of simple things that you can start doing today in and around your own home. Most of these can be done on a daily basis without too much trouble and when you GO GREEN, you SAVE GREEN!


We have another Winner!

March 26, 2011

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to enter into this giveaway!

This week's lucky winner wins all three of these beautiful Country Living books!

The winner was chosen randomly by random.org.

Congratulations to Patty, who left comment #7 !!

(Patty, I'll contact you via email for shipping instructions!)

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Origami Gift Packaging for Painted Glass Marble Magnets

March 23, 2011

Origami Box Tulle Done

Last time, I showed you how to make painted glass marble magnets, and I promised to show you how I package them for gifting, so let's get started.  We have a lot of cute stuff to do!

The first component is the paper mache boxes.  Here's what you need:

Glass Marble Paper Mache Boxes

  • Paper mache boxes: I like the smooth paper wrapped ones that you can find at most craft stores.  They usually come in a couple of small sizes, and if you're lucky you might find them packaged in lots of 6 including a heart, circle, oval, square, octagon and rectangle.
  • Parchment paper or round labels, and laser printer
  • Glue: Any glue suitable for paper, like Sobo or Elmer's

Glass Marble Stamps

  • Stamps: I painted crosses on my marble magnets, so I'm keeping with that theme with my stamp choices.
  • Pigment ink pads
  • Embossing powders
  • Embossing heat tool
  • Tongs

Make the scripture circles:

Choose any scripture (or quote) that you like and type it up.  You can do it two ways.  You can buy a sheet of laser-safe Avery round labels and use the formatting template that comes with them in order to line the text up with the labels.

I like to go another way.  I print my scriptures on tan parchment paper to coordinate with the natural color of the paper mache boxes. I think I've seen kraft-colored round labels online, but I've never ordered them.

Glass Marble Scriptures

Use software that will allow you to draw circles; I use an old copy of Adobe PageMaker, but PowerPoint or a drawing program will work. Draw a bunch of circles on your page (check the size of your box lid to determine the circle size), fitting as many as you can on one sheet of paper.  Then type your scriptures into the circles, and print them out.  Carefully cut out the circles just inside the lines with scissors.  I like to use deckle-edge scissors for an uneven shape.

Add a bit of glue to the back of the parchment circle, smear it around evenly, and place it on the inside lid of your box.  Smooth it down so all edges will adhere.  Allow to dry completely.

Glass Marble Paper Mache Box Msg

Decorate the top of your boxes:

Glass Marble Believe

Choose a stamp that will fit the size and shape of your box.  I'm in love with this “believe” stamp.  if I ever got a tattoo, it would probably look like this “believe”!

Glass Marble Purple Cross

Apply the pigment ink to the stamp and then apply the stamp to the box with even pressure, but don't press down too hard or you'll crush the box.  Try not to rock the stamp back and forth. Lift the stamp carefully off the box.

Glass Marble Purple Cross Embossed

Sprinkle a generous amount of embossing powder all over your stamped design.  I like to do this over a paper plate to catch the excess.  Use a different plate for each color of embossing powder. When you're finished, just bend the paper plate into a pointy little funnel and pour the powder back into the jar.

I'm crazy about a couple of embossing powders from Stampendous: Pearlized Carnelian (it turns all gold and gorgeous when heated) and Copper Tinsel (it goes all shimmery glittery).  I love how they look on the paper mache.

Glass Marble Emboss Color Change

Holding the box top with tongs, turn on the embossing heat tool. Hold it a few inches away from the stamped image, and move it back and forth until you can see the embossing powder has melted evenly all over the image.  It won't take very long;  maybe 10 seconds, depending on the stamped image.

Some powders – like the Pearlized Carnelian ad Copper Tinsel – will magically change color.  Be aware that some powders are very susceptible to scorching if they are heated too long, especially the glittery ones.  I've done it, so learn from my mistake!

Glass Marble Paper Mache Box

Your paper mache box is finished! The bottom of your box is still blank at this point, so you can write something there (“Love, BigSis”), or glue on another parchment circle with a message on it (“Merry Christmas 2011”).

Now for the origami box you'll snuggle the paper mache box into!

All you'll need for the origami box is cardstock, a paper trimmer, a bone folder, two-sided tape, a ruler and a pencil.  Easy enough, right?  If you're a scrapbooker or a cardmaker, you already have these supplies on hand.

You'll need two pieces of cardstock for each box.  You can use solid colors, coordinate a printed top with a solid bottom, or use two coordinating prints.  With the paper trimmer, cut one 8-1/2″ square for the top, and one 8″ square for the bottom.  This will give you a finished box top that is about 3″ square, and a bottom that is about 2-13/16″ square.  I've seen some stacks of cardstock at the craft store that are already 8-1/2″ square, and that would be perfect for this project.

Origami Box How 1

With a ruler, lightly draw a diagonal line in pencil from corner to corner.  Some tutorials for this box will have you fold the paper corner to corner, but that will leave an “X” shaped crease on the top of your box, and I like for my box to be smooth, smooth, smooth on all 6 sides.

Origami Box How 2

Working on the wrong side of the sheet, take one corner and fold it up to the place where the two pencil lines meet in the middle of the page.  Unfold.  We're going to call that fold you made the “first crease”.  Do the same thing for the other 3 corners, so you'll have a “first crease” for all 4 corners.

Origami Box How 4

Next, take a corner and fold it up past the middle of the page to meet the “first crease” at the pencil line.  Unfold.  Do the same thing for the other 3 corners. Each time you make a fold, crease it down sharply with the bone folder or the edge of a pen.  Doing this will make the shape of your box more crisp.

Origami Box How 6

For your last fold, take a corner, and fold it down to meet the “first crease” that is closest to it.  Unfold.  You're not going across the middle of the page for this fold.  Do the same thing for the other 3 corners.

Origami Box How 7

So, you made 3 folds with all 4 corners:  up to the middle of the sheet, across the sheet to the “first crease”, and then down a tiny bit to it's own “first crease”.  Your page should look like this.  You have a nice grid of even squares, with a bigger square in the middle.  This is your box top or bottom.

Origami Box How 8

Now we'll take this creased piece of paper and turn it into a box. You're going to fold two opposing sides of the page into a little valley shape, as you see in the photo.

Origami Box How 9

Add a tiny bit of double-sided tape to the bottom of the point, so it will stay in place on the bottom of the box.  Do that for both sides. Do you see the box taking shape?

Origami Box How 10

On the ends, you want to have a smooth finish so you need to make a “valley fold”, tucking the end pieces under.  This is hard to describe in words, so please see the photo below.

Origami Box How 11

Attach tape to the bottom of these points on each end, and adhere to the bottom of the box.  It might help to run the bone folder along the top edge of the box, to get a nice sharp edge there.

Origami Box How 12

Voila!  You just made a box out of nothing but paper and a bit of tape!  All you had to invest was about 8 minutes of your time per box!

Origami Box Butterfly Inside

This is the inside of your box…

Origami Box Butterfly Done

one side of your completed box with it's solid orange bottom…

Origami Box Butterfly Done Side

and the other side.

You have all of these cool components; what do you do with them all?

You have painted glass marble magnets…

Glass Marble Done Group 2

paper mache boxes…

Glass Marble Paper Mache Boxes

and origami boxes.

Origami Boxes Done

Let's put them together into a beautiful little gift that some lucky person will adore!

Origami Paper Mache Open 1

Origami Paper Mache Open 3

Origami Paper Mache Open 4

Take a paper mache box, add a little paper shred, and choose a marble.

Origami Paper Mache Open 5

Origami Paper Mache Open 6

Origami Paper Mache Open 7

Tuck your paper mache box into a drawstring bag.  Some of the bigger boxes won't fit, but that's ok.

Origami Paper Mache Closed 1

Origami Paper Mache Closed 2

Origami Paper Mache Closed 4

Place the paper mache box into the origami box, adding a little more shred around it if you want to.  Put the top on, and add a tulle bow.

Cut a piece of tulle that coordinates with your box color.  For this 3″ box, I used a piece around 6″ x 30″.  You want plenty of it to get a pretty full effect.

Origami Box Tulle Up

Tie the bow on as you normally would, and then cut the loops. Pull the cut loops and the loose ends straight up, and cut them straight across to be even. Pull each of the 6 ends out to open them up, and arrange into a poofy bow. Ends cut shorter will make a tighter looking “poof”, while longer ends will look fluffier.

Origami Box Tulle Done

There you have it!  Your pretty painted glass marble magnet is nestled in shred inside a box with a message inside a box with a bow!

Before I go, I want to give you some ideas on what you can do with these.  Of course, you could sell them.  I sold several hundred to an organization for their annual meeting a while back. Each participant got their own as a thank you gift for attending. I've also sold them a few at a time for Christmas gifts; they make awesome stocking stuffers and gifts for pet sitters, hairdressers, coworkers, or your kids' friends.  They're also great little non-edible treats to tuck into Easter baskets.

My favorite thing to do with these is to randomly give them away. One year on Valentine's Day, I took a whole bag of  them to the cancer floor in a local hospital, and let the nurses distribute them. I've also given one to the person working the drive-through at a fast food restaurant who seemed to be having a bad day. I've given them out to employees of a drugstore who were having to work on Christmas Eve, and I've also given them to the volunteers on my team at the church preschool.

I don't tell you about these things to boast or to glorify myself; I just want to give you some ideas and start you thinking.  I bet you can come up with many more ideas.  If you keep a few in your purse or in your car, you'll be surprised at the occasions that arise when a little gift of encouragement is needed.  I bet you'll be glad you have them, as I have been!  One little note: when I'm putting them in my purse or car, I just put the paper mache box in a drawstring bag, and skip the rest of the packaging.

I hope you enjoy this little craft project as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you!  If you make any of these items, please send me a photo!


How to Make Painted Glass Marble Magnets

March 20, 2011

Glass Marble Done Fav Green

You've probably seen tutorials for making adorable magnets from the flat glass marbles that are used as filler in vases of flowers. Most of the instructions I've seen involve gluing paper of some kind to the back of the marble: scrapbook paper, gift wrap, newsprint, hand-drawn images, whatever.

Glass Marble Done Group1

I think those marble magnets are really cute and easy to make, but I like to do mine in a different way.  I like to paint them!

There are probably lots of ways to do this, and you can absolutely inject your own creativity.  I'll show you the method I came up with, and then you can take off with your own ideas.

Glass Marble Done Group4

Let's start with the supplies you need:

  • Flat glass marbles: Available at craft stores, discount stores, pretty much everywhere. I buy the clear ones because I can see my template through them, but you can also find really pretty blue, green and amber colored ones.

Glass Marble Paint

  • Glass paint: I prefer the air-dry kind that doesn't require baking.  I use FolkArt Enamels, Americana Gloss Enamels, DecoArt Ultra Gloss Metallics (these might be discontinued), and Delta PermEnamel.  My favorites are PermEnamel Shimmers and their Iridescent Glass Paint.  Delta PermEnamel is the glass paint equivalent of MAC eyeshadows: they come in jillions of colors, have great textures, apply well and look beautiful!
  • Glass painting kit with tips, adapter caps and plastic bottles.

Glass Marble Tip Kit

  • Grid paper:  To make your painting template.
  • Swarovsky crystals: Find them in the jewelry-making aisle at your craft store.
  • Tweezers: To apply the crystals.  Just raid your bathroom drawer, don't buy special jewelry-making ones.

Glass Marble Magnets Glue

  • Magnet “buttons”
  • Glue: Strong glue for slick surfaces, like Aleene's Glass & Bead Adhesive, E6000 or Bond 527.
  • Magnifying craft light: If your eyes are “mature” like mine.  This is close work, so don't be too proud to use it!

The first step is to create a clean painting surface, and sometimes these marbles are a little dirty.  I give mine a quick rinse in straight white vinegar, but you could also use alcohol.  I use a large plastic container, and fill it with the marbles.  As you remove the marbles from the bag, be very careful.  They're glass, of course, and it isn't unusual to find a broken or badly-chipped marble.

You'll notice that I'm working with a lot of marbles.  It makes sense to me to paint a large batch at one time, since I already have all the stuff out.  Changing paint colors requires washing supplies, so I might as well do several marbles of each color while I'm at it. For this tutorial, I painted 7 dozen marbles.

Add vinegar or alcohol to cover the marbles, and let them sit for a few minutes.  Scoop them out with a slotted spoon, and lay them out on a thick towel in a single layer.

Glass Marble Magnet Wash

You can blot them a little or just let them naturally dry.  I've never had a problem with spots forming, so air drying is usually fine. You definitely want the marbles to be completely dry before you start painting.  Try not to touch the surface of the marbles from this point on, since the natural oils in your fingers could interfere with the paint adhering.

Once they're dry, remove the marbles from the towel and place them on an old foil-lined cookie sheet or tray.  I also cover another tray or sheet with foil to have a place for the marbles as I finish working on each one.  This 7 dozen is all lined up, ready to get dolled up!

Glass Marble Magnet Dry

You may be able to freehand your design, but I can't.  Years ago, when I came up with the idea of painting these, I tried freehanding and it wasn't pretty.  I'm crafty, but not artsy, so I need a template.  I like to paint crosses, so it was very easy to draw a cross template on a piece of gridpaper.  Can you tell how well used/loved this template is? 🙂

Glass Marble Magnet Template

Once you get your design drawn out, attach it to a piece of cardboard so it's sturdy.  Here's a trick for you.  Cover the design with a few pieces of removable two-sided tape.  This semi-sticky surface will hold onto the marble just enough to keep it stable and in place while you're painting on it.  When the tape eventually gets covered with cat hair (or dog hair or lint) you can easily peel it off and replace it with fresh tape.  It really makes a big difference.

If you need the magnifying light, now is the time to pull it out. Place your template on your work surface, and choose a marble, any marble.  Imperfections are common in these guys, so don't expect a perfect flawless one.  That's part of their appeal.  Discard chipped ones or any that just aren't pretty to you.  Center your marble on top of the sticky template.

Here comes the fun part…painting!  Select the color you want to paint your crosses.  I love metallics: gold, silver and bronze.  I also love the gorgeous shimmery opalescent colors from Delta PermEnamels.  You can customize the color of your marbles for the occasion or the season, or just use the colors you like.

Glass Marble Magnet Tips

So how do you get the paint on the marbles?  Using a brush is too tricky for non-artist me, so I went looking for an easier solution. What I found are these brilliant metal glass painting tips that look like little ballpoint pen tips.  I've seen a couple of different kits at the craft store, and the tips may vary a smidge, but they always include the tips, small plastic bottles, and the adapter caps that screw onto the paint bottle.

The little metal tips snuggly screw onto the plastic adapter caps. I find that they also fit perfectly on the caps of some paint bottles.  If you're using paint that comes in a chubby jar like the Delta PermEnamel, you'll need to pour a bit of it into a small paint bottle that fits the adapter cap.

Glass Marble Tips on Caps

Once you have the tip securely on the paint bottle, test it out before you paint.  I keep a paper plate and a paper towel nearby for this purpose. Draw a line of paint on the paper plate to make sure the paint is flowing smoothly, and then wipe off the tip cleanly.

These painting kits also come with a little piece of wire that you can use to dislodge any clogs that might form in the tips, so keep this little jewel on your paper plate too.  Some paints are really bad about clogging, but others don't clog at all.

And a word to the wise, when you change paint colors and switch to a new tip, be sure to drop the used tip and cap into a cup of water.  If you let it sit and dry out, you'll pretty much be up a creek and have to toss those pieces.  You'll never get dried paint out of that skinny little tip.

Now, back to painting.  I start at one end of the marble, and just follow the template, filling in the design.  You don't want to squeeze the paint bottle really, just hold the bottle like you were holding a marker or pen, and guide the paint around the template.  The paint shouldn't be so thick that it will drip or ooze, but you do want good even coverage after two coats.

Glass Marble Magnet 1 Coat Metallic

Don't drive yourself crazy by striving for perfection, especially with this first coat. After the second coat, you'll be happy with what you see, so don't worry.  The main thing is to keep within the lines, and have fun!  If you make a mistake, you can try to clean it up with a toothpick.  If it's a doozie of a boo boo, just toss the marble and move on to the next one!

Tada!  First coat complete!

Glass Marble Magnet 1 Coat Close

Let the first coat dry thoroughly; I prefer overnight.  For the second coat, you won't need the template, so just make sure you stash it in a safe place for next time.

Take the same color paint, and add your second coat.  You can smooth out any rough edges and fill in any sparse areas.  Once you're finished, allow the second coat to dry overnight again.

Glass Marble Magnet 1 Coat Wide

Did you think we were finished?  Oh, heck no.  The fun's just starting!  We're going to add a background color to the BACK of your marble.  You can skip this step if you want to, and sometimes I do, but I think it really adds a lot.  It gives dimension and depth to the marble, adds a contrasting or complementary color, AND hides the magnet you're going to glue on the back. Go a little crazy with your background color, or just let the design color be the star.

Glass Marble Magnet Back1

For this step, I use a small flat paintbrush.  And…you got it, let it dry overnight.

Glass Marble Magnet Back All

If you've chosen a sheer color, like my pearly white, you might want to add a second coat after the first sets up, but it isn't necessary.  It's up to you!  If you want to see how a color might look behind your cross, just hold up your marble to the bottom of the paint bottle, like this.

Glass Marble Magnet on Paint2

Glass Marble Magnet on Paint1

We're coming down the home stretch, so stay with me.  You have two coats of color on your cross, plus a coat or two of background color on the back of the marble.  I like to add a magnet at this point.  If I do it now, I don't have to rest the marble on it's frontside after the delicate little dots are applied, and risk smushing them down a bit.  I like for the decorations to be as dimensional as possible.

Glass Marble Magnet Glue

To attach the magnet, add a tiny dot of glue to the magnet and to the back of the marble, and allow it to sit for a minute or two (check your particular adhesive for directions).  Any longer and the glue may dry too much.  Attach the magnet, and set aside to dry… overnight.

Glass Marble Magnets All

Now the last steps!  It's time to decorate the front of the marbles.  I do dots because they're easy and I like how they look, but you could do squiggles or lines or anything else your imagination can conceive of.  Choose any color!  I really like adding a dot color that coordinates with the background color, but other times, the dot color just comes out of the blue.

Before I add the decorative dots, I add one teensy tiny dot of paint (you could use glue, but you already have paint in your hand) to the center of the cross and carefully place a swarovsky crystal with the tweezers.  Press it down very gently.  Then just add dots here and there all over the marble, in any pattern you like.

Glass Marble  Magnet Done Fav Gold

Voila!  Your marble magnet is finished! Do you love it?

Glass Marble Magnet Done Fav Pink

I love to give these painted marble magnets as little gifts, so they need to be packaged up cute.  I've seen people put the paper-backed magnets in Altoid tins, and it's kind of cool that they stick in place and don't rattle around.  You'd have to decorate the tin though, and you have to deal with the raised logo on the front of the tin unless you buy flat new ones.

Glass Marble Magnet in Altoid Tin

You could also put the marble magnet in a little drawstring bag with a bit of pretty shred.  This is kind of sweet and Eastery-baskety.

Glass Marble Magnet Favor Bag

What I like to do though is to take this beautiful marble to the next level by customizing a little paper mache box for it, with stamping, embossing and a scripture hidden inside.  Then it goes into the drawstring bag, and then into a handmade origami box. And if that isn't enough, we'll then wrap up the whole thing with a tulle bow.  Overkill?  Nah!  There's no such thing as overkill when it comes to giving gifties!

I'll show you how to do all of that next time, and share some of my favorite ways to give these away!  Til then, here are a few more of my favorite marble magnets from this big batch.  See you soon!

Glass Marble Magnet Done Yellow

Glass Marble Magnets Done Blue

Glass Marble Magnet Done Fav Silver

Glass Marble Magnet Done Black

Glass Marble Magnet Done Gold

Glass Marble Magnet Done Fav Red

Glass Marble Magnet Done Purple

Glass Marble Magnet Done Fav Green2

Glass Marble Magnet Done Pink


We have a Winner and a new {Giveaway}!

March 19, 2011

First of all, thank you to everyone who took the time to enter into the contest! We appreciate you!

Restore. Recycle. Repurpose, {Create a Beautiful Home}

The lucky winner of this lovely book; Restore. Recycle. Repurpose.: Create a Beautiful Home (A Country Living Book) chosen by random.org. is Chandel, who left Comment #11.

Chandel, be sure to email me your shipping information so I can get this lovely book on it's way to you!

If you entered last week's contest but didn't happen to be the lucky winner, don't worry, you can enter again this week. And this week's contest is super special because we decided to give away two Country Living books instead of one!  We've chosen these two beautiful books for this week's giveaway!

Country Living The Handmade Home: 75 Projects for Soaps, Candles, Picture Frames, Pillows, Wreaths & Scrapbooks

This book contains 75 crafty projects such as aromatic candles, superb soaps, family keepsake book, wreaths, herbal bath bags and several projects for framing, just to name a few.

A Very Modest Cottage (Country Living)

A Very Modest Cottage
This is a beautifully illustrated story about how one woman saves a 1920's cabin and moves it across two states to give it a new life. The cottage is now restored as close to it's original condition as possible, and filled with vintage pieces found at thrift stores, yard sales, and even dumpsters. Her story shows that the right attitude and a willingness to roll up your sleeves makes pretty much anything possible.

So, there you have it!! Both of these books could be yours! The details of the contest are the same. You can do any or all of these for a chance to win:

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Remember; even if you already Like Us on Facebook, Follow Us on Twitter, Subscribe to our Feed, or Subscribe via email, you can still leave us a separate comment for each one of those letting us know that you do! 🙂

This giveaway will officially end at midnight on Friday, March 25th and the winner of these two books will be announced on Saturday, March 26th.

(And, again, if you follow us on Twitter or Like BigSisLilSis on Facebook, we’ll be giving you some bonus chances to enter during these next six days.)

Have a great weekend!


{Book Giveaway} Restore. Recycle. Repurpose. Create a Beautiful Home.

March 16, 2011

Restore. Recycle. Repurpose. {Create a Beautiful Home}

First of all, if you've found your way here after reading about our Natural Dyed Colored Easter Egg Project in the April issue of Country Living Magazine, we'd like to extend a HUGE WELCOME to you! We really hope that you enjoy reading BigSisLilSis!

And, just in case anyone missed our announcement this past Saturday, we're giving away a copy of this beautiful Country Living book to one lucky reader! The contest will officially end at midnight this Friday, March 18th and the winner will be announced on Saturday, March 19th.

This book is full of beautiful photos and inspiring ideas on how everyone can create a home that’s as harmonious with the environment as it is beautiful. The book is jam-packed with great, practical advice on ways you can “go green” in each room of your home. BigSis and I have committed to work harder at becoming more earth-friendly in our own homes, and this book tells you how you can do it without spending a fortune.

Want to know how you can enter to win this gorgeous book?

Here are the details!

You can do any or all of these for a chance to win:

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  • Like us on Facebook and leave us a comment on the post letting us know that you Like us.
  • Tweet about the contest and leave us a comment on the post that you tweeted it.

You can enter up to seven times! Since the winner will be chosen at random.org; obviously, the more times you enter, the better your odds of winning this beautiful book.

At the same time we announce the winner of this giveaway, we'll be revealing our next book giveaway. Since the Editors at Country Living were so kind to donate four books, we decided to have a book giveaway every week for four weeks.

So, don't miss out on your chances to enter! We've made it really easy to leave comments! 🙂


My Inspiration Board

March 3, 2011

I've been wanting to create an inspiration board for a long time but I've never managed to set aside the time to do it. Thanks to my dear friend, P, who gave me a great IKEA desk, I finally carved out a little corner for myself in our guest room to use as a combination office/craft area. Having my own space got me really motivated to get my inspiration board made so I could hang it right above my desk.

And since March is National Craft Month, I thought this would be the perfect time for this project. BigSis and I are both crazy about all different sorts of crafts and we recently decided that we want to start sharing more “DIY” crafts with you here on our site.

This bulletin board was Bry's when he was in high school over ten years ago and I've had it stashed in the back of a closet ever since just waiting to be transformed.

This is what it looked like when I pulled it out of the closet.

Inspiration Board

The first thing I did was clean it up and paint the frame a glossy black.

Inspiration BoardI found some nice, thick Scrapbook paper at Jo-Ann Fabrics for a great price, so I bought four 12″ x 12″ sheets with a scrolly design for the corners and four more 12″ x 12″ sheets of a pretty cursive handwriting design to fill in the center and cover all the cork.

Inspiration Board

Once that was done, I just gathered some of my favorite photos and items that inspire me and make me happy. Here's a little something about what some of these mean to me.

I've wanted to go to Italy for many years and BigSis & I hope to some day take a two week dream vacation across Italy.

Inspiration Board

I've talked before about how badly I want to see the Sistine Chapel. This is at the top of my bucket list.

Sistine Chapel on Inspiration Board

Maui happens to be one of my most favorite places on Earth. Just the thought of sitting outside on Kaanapali Beach having lunch at Hula Grill or strolling the artsy/fartsy streets of Pa'ia always makes me smile. These are just a few photos from a previous vacation.

Inspiration Board

I'm inspired by a lot of different things when it comes to my passion for art. Scents, colors, textures, and creative people inspire me. And reminding myself not to worry so much helps keep my mind clear.

Inspiration Board

I collect greeting cards designed by the amazing artist, Josephine Wall and these are just a couple of my favorites. I've made four sculptures that were actually inspired by her cards and my Mermaid was the first and inspired by this card.

Inspiration Board

My ‘Shell Queen' sculpture that I created several years ago was my first to ever be exhibited at a gallery show and she was inspired by another one of Josephine Wall's gorgeous creatures, “Shell Child”. I'm now in love with “My Lady Unicorn” and I think she may be my next sculptural inspiration.

Inspiration Board

And, I also mentioned my love of these bookshelves on our site a couple of years ago. I'd love to have some floor to ceiling bookshelves like these so I think if I keep looking at this photo and visualizing it, maybe I'll have some like this some day!

Inspiration Board

Yoga is a big stress buster for me and I want to be able to do this version of the pigeon pose one day; I came close a few years ago. This photo just inspires me to continue with my yoga practice.

The ceramic cross hanging in the corner is from a series I sold to an art gallery years ago. I have a goal to get back in my clay studio to start producing some new creations before the end of the year and this helps to inspire me.

Inspiration Board

This was such a fun, inexpensive project! I bought some ribbon and some small, headless pins in addition to the scrapbook paper, but the cost was still less than $10.00 since everything you put on your board is either an inspiring photo or an item that you already own.

I just finished my board today and I'm so anxious to get it hung so I can look at it every day. Why didn't I make time to do this sooner?

Inspiration Board

It was probably because I didn't have one single space in my house that I could call my very own. Now, I do. And it makes me very, very happy! 🙂


Clean Floors without Cruelty!

October 22, 2010

It seems like my weekend shopping trips are lots more challenging these days since I can't just breeze through Target and mindlessly grab my usual products.  Making a commitment to purge animal-tested products from my life has been a real project, but I'm committed to it, as LilSis is also.

I've had a longtime love affair with my Swiffer WetJet since the day I laid eyes on it, but alas, Swiffer is a Procter & Gamble company.  Procter & Gamble does animal testing, so Swiffer is out of my house, which made me sad at first.  I envisioned returning to a drippy string mop or sponge mop with a big steaming sloshing bucket full of Pine Sol.  Gah!

Rubbermaid Reveal MopThankfully, there are other alternatives, and I found a nifty one. I bought a Rubbermaid Reveal Microfiber Spray Mop during my last trip to Target.  How much do I love it?  Let me count the ways:

  • As far as I can see, Rubbermaid doesn't do any animal testing.  If I'm wrong, someone please correct me!
  • There are no expensive disposable pads to buy.  The Reveal Mop comes with a microfiber pad that is washable!  Brilliant!  You can buy replacement pads if you ever need to.
  • You can use any cleaning solution you wish!  Brilliant again!  Not only are you free of the pricey Swiffer solution, but you can use a completely environmentally-friendly, green solution!  Use plain water, or water with white vinegar, or buy a natural cleanser from Method, Mrs. Meyers, or Caldrea.  You choose.
  • Another cool thing?  You can buy extra refillable spray bottles so you can switch out your solutions for different surfaces: tile, wood, vinyl, or laminate.
  • No batteries required!

Even though I imagined the worst (stringy ol' yarn mop), what I ended up with is better in many ways than my old Swiffer!

Before you even think about mopping though, you need freshly-swept floors right?  This is the perfect time to introduce you to my new electric broom; the Electrolux ErgoRapido Bagless Cordless Handheld/Stick Vacuum Cleaner.Electrolux Ergorapido

My last electric broom lasted for probably 10 years, but it finally got weary of sucking up all that cat litter and hair, and it just passed away.  After a ton of research, I decided on the ErgoRapido and I'm so thrilled with it:

  • It works well and has good suction.  It will occasionally take two passes to pick up some of the fine bits of clumping cat litter, but I think that material is a real challenge for any sweeper.
  • It's lightweight, cordless and rechargeable.
  • There are no bags, and the canister is easy to empty.
  • It's a stick vacuum cleaner AND a handheld vacuum all in one.
  • It looks really cool!

So with both of these tools in my cleaning closet, there's no excuse for a dirty floor, right?  Now, all I have to do is teach my furkids to sweep and mop while I'm at work, and we're all set!


Inspiration Bookshelves

September 14, 2009

I've been daydreaming about a new office for several months now, and in my dreams, my office would have floor to ceiling built-in bookshelves. I've flipped through magazines and browsed the internet for ideas, but ever since I found this photo on  ZOKK Furniture, I knew that these were my inspiration bookshelves!

I can't even imagine what it would be like to have all my books and favorite magazines together on an entire wall of bookshelves! I'm totally in love with these! A girl can dream, right?

“If you dream, dream big, it just might come true.”


It’s Time for a Trip to The Container Store

August 21, 2009

Yesterday, BigSis mentioned The Container Store and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.  A few weeks ago, I accidentally received someone else's happy organized home sale catalog in my mail box. I've looked through it several times and have been drooling over a few products that I'd really like to have, yet I haven't found the time to make the trip down to the store. Even though 45 minutes to an hour isn't really that far to travel for a great shopping trip, I have yet to make it to our San Diego location in the seven years that we've lived here.  That's about to change! 😉

I've mentioned how the whole back to school thing makes me want to reorganize a bunch of drawers and cabinets. And not just the drawers for school supplies, I'm even dying to reorganize my makeup drawers. These Acrylic Trays with Removable Dividers will work perfectly for both!

Acrylic Trays with Removable Dividers

Acrylic Trays with Removable Dividers

These trays come in three different sizes. The large are on sale for $17.99, the medium are $12.99 and the small are $9.99 each. Here are the same Acrylic Trays shown being used to organize cosmetics.

The same acrylic trays shown as cosmetic trays.

Acrylic Trays with Removable Dividers

And as long as I'm reorganizing my cosmetic drawers, I'll need to work on the cabinets under my bathroom sink. I love these 2-Drawer Stackable Organizers with the slide out drawers. These are on sale for $7.99 each. These would be perfect for all the hair products and lotions that I keep under my sink.

2-Drawer Stackable Organizer

2-Drawer Stackable Organizer

These Clear Stacking Bins could be used in so many different ways! They come in five different sizes ranging in price from $3.49 for the small to $9.99 for the Extra Large. I'd love to have a few small and medium ones to hold desk supplies.

Translucent Stacking Boxes

Clear Stacking Boxes

For some reason, I've always had a hard time finding a good hat rack that will hold quite a few hats. BigT went through a little phase of liking certain sports caps, especially ice hockey teams, and BigGuy always had a few favorites, like Notre Dame and ‘Da Bears, but HayHay is way over the top with the hat thing. He's pretty obsessed with the Boston Red Sox hats, golf hats and Billabong hats and has at least a couple of dozen.

Since the hat racks with pegs never hold enough and I don't want two dozen hooks all over the wall, I'm wondering if this Canvas Hanging Storage Bag might work well for hats. He could stack several on top of each other in the six compartments. This is a pretty good price at $12.99.

6-Compartment Hanging Canvas Bag

6-Compartment Hanging Canvas Bag

And while I'm talking about getting HayHay organized, I wonder if he would actually hang up his towels if I had one of these Overdoor Towel Racks on the back of his bathroom door? These are normally $24.99 and are on sale for $14.99. At that price, I'm willing to take a chance that it might help keep towels off the floor.

Bungee Overdoor Towel Rack

Bungee Overdoor Towel Rack

These are just a few of the products that I'd really love to get while this sale is going on. The only problem is that once I walk in that store, I just know that I'm going to want to go crazy!