DIY: Make Beautiful Beads from Recycled Newspaper

I saw these beautiful beads made from recycled newspaper and decided to try and make them. They reminded me of the lovely paper beads that Katie teaches Ugandan ladies to make and sell for sustainable living. I haven’t done anything creative in awhile and my daughter and I were itching to get our hands dirty.

This is a messy project that takes place over a couple of days, but I thought it was surprisingly easy, fun and creative.

Step 1: Shred newspaper and put it in a large stock pot.

Step 2: Cover the paper with boiling water and let it sit for one hour.

Step 3: Drain off extra water and stir with spatula to help aid the process of breaking up the paper.

Step 4: Stir in white Elmer’s glue (enough that pieces pulled off stick together).

Step 5: Pull off small pieces (however big you want the beads to be) and roll them in the palm of your hand to form a ball. Squeeze out any excess water. Set on a cookie sheet to dry (for at least a day and a half or until hard).

Step 6: The balls need holes to make them beads. There are two ways to do this. You can poke a toothpick thru them while they are wet.  I didn’t like this way very much. I chose to wait until they were dry and drill a small hole thru each ball.

Step 7: I used finger nail clippers to trim away the edges created around the drilled hole. You can sand the beads to make them smoother, but I didn’t.

Step 8: Paint your beads. I love the way these beads turned out with marble-effect.  But I couldn’t quite master it. I tried a lot of different colors, using a sponge brush.

Step 9: Once your beads are dry, (you may have to poke a safety pin thru to unclog the hole) they are ready to be strung. I used an old ball chain necklace I had for one and heaving fishing line for another.

Step 10: Once the beads are strung, hold one end and dip the entire strand in a can of clear varnish. This final step seals the paper-mache like beads and gives them the pretty shiny-look. I used heavy duct tape to hold the strand on my kitchen cabinet and let a paper plate catch the excess varnish.

Once they dry, they are ready to wear!

And Now, I’d Like You to Meet: My New Home Office

Our house is definitely not big, but it’s right for us. We use every spare inch of it, except for one room: our formal dining room. We just aren’t formal kind of people, but even rarely used, it holds an old table and thrift store chairs. And dust.
I’ve been itching for a home office for months. We can’t justify moving and I simply don’t want the expense or headache of one.
[I couldn’t find a lot of inspiration for such a transformation. I googled and asked friend’s opinions, I made my hubby move furniture in and out and was actually unsure of this idea.]
But I finally got up the courage! So. I talked my hubby into letting me change our formal dining room into a home office. (He was very agreeable, he just didn’t think it would look that great).
Before:

(Yes, that’s the table that got hung in the doorway at midnight. It was hilarious, but only to me. My hubby did not laugh one bit).
After:

This is now the busiest room in the house! My hubby included (yes, he loves it!)
What I did:
I kept the paint, curtains, rug the same and two of my dining room chairs. I just didn’t want to spend more money than needed. I also kept my dining room hutch.
Nearly everything else came from Ikea! You can really stretch a dollar in that store. We bought the gorgeous chair, shelves, desk (which is really a $69 dining room table!), and storage boxes. I got the desk lamp and skirt around the desk (which is actually one curtain panel I cut and velcro’d) at Target.
This room inspires me.
Who knows, I might even write a book in it!

Creating a Family Mission Statement

Our family sat down after dinner the other night with paper and pen.
I read this wonderful article on creating a family mission statement and knew it was something we should do!
Why write a mission statement for your family? Because it asks the question….why are we doing this? Let’s face it, we have busy lives, pressed with pressure to fill every hour of every day.
With a family mission statement, it helps us remember that everything we do should have a purpose.
We started by brainstorming some goals we’d like to accomplish as a family. We talked about diverting our normal vacation money towards a goal of going on a family mission trip and making a point to have fun on a regular basis. (My kids threw the word adoption in there, too, and we suggested they pray for their Mommy and Daddy).
Goals are different than a mission statement. Goals are things you want to accomplish/do. Mission statements are they whys behind what you do.
In this article, How to Write a Family Mission Statement, there are practical ideas and examples with this formula–

To…. (Do something)

In such a way that….. (Quality of action)

So that…. (We gain these results or benefits)

Here’s what we came up with:

To make a difference in the world, a single light, shining brightly in such a way that we keep Jesus our focus, listen closely to His voice & enjoy life. So that we can say at the end of the day, we’ve touched others & thrived.”

I printed the words out and gathered some scrapbook paper and a frame I never used on an older project:


I glued the words to the paper and framed it:

Just having those words down on paper makes me feel we’re on the right track!

DIYP-Easy Gift for Kids to Make

I like for my kids to give each other gifts they can make themselves. Since I’m their employer and I don’t pay well (it’s all about Benefits around here), I provide the supplies and they provide the labor.
But don’t turn me in, k?
Their baby sister is turning 3 in a few days. And since I found a Dora the Explorer (try to read that without singing the theme song, I dare you) large fleece scrap at WalMart, we decided a lap blanket would be a perfect gift.
Especially since my baby could also be known as Linus and because we lost (for good this time) her blankie somewhere between here and Louisiana.
This is such a fun, easy gift and it brought my big kids so much satisfaction to make a blanket for their sister’s birthday.
Double your fleece and lay it out (you can buy two different patterns, one for each side, but we just doubled and cut). Cut the fold, so you have 2 pieces the same size:

Cut even fringe strips around all four sides of both pieces of fleece. I cut about a two inch strip, about an inch in width. (I did a few to get my daughter started on cutting the rest). The great thing is it really doesn’t have to be perfect).
Next, tie the pieces together into a knot from the top/bottom fringe strips. 

With the leftover fleece, they made a small pillow too. (Same instructions, only leave a few ties open to stuff with fill and then tie closed).
My kids are already asking when they can make another one!
Have you tried making fleece blankets?

DIYP-Guest Post from Bake at 350

I am so excited about today’s post! My next door neighbor, Bridget of Bake at 350 is not only adorable and classy, she has become my friend (remember when we met?) and if I need a cup of sugar, I think I’m all set.
Don’tcha think?
Because, hello, have you seen her cookies? 
Oh, it gets better, you can actually taste them in her Etsy bake shop.
And I live for her “mistakes.”
Since her mistakes are 100 times better than my cookies on a good day, I give you:


Hi, We Are THAT Family readers!!! I am so tickled to be here today. I’m even more tickled that I live NEXT DOOR to Kristen (how lucky is THAT) and that she invited me to guest post today.

Cookies are the ultimate DIY gift! Who doesn’t love a cookie? They make perfect gifts for teachers, neighbors, friends and family.

I’m going to share with you a simple and fun decorated Christmas cookie idea.


First, you’ll need a Christmas light cookie cutter (check craft stores, kitchen stores and even the grocery store) and cookie dough. Here is the recipe I use, but I won’t tell if you buy it from Pillsbury. ;)

Once your cookies are cooled, make up a batch of royal icing and tint in the colors you’d like. (I used AmeriColor Gel Paste food colorings in egg yellow, super red, leaf green and regal purple.)

Now the fun begins:

  • With a #4 icing tip, use a zig-zig motion to make the light bulb base in yellow (AmeriColor Egg Yellow).
  • Using a #2 tip, outline the bulb shape in color of your choice.
  • Thin the bulb color icings with water, a little at a time and stirring, until they reach the consistency of thick syrup. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest several minutes.
  • One color at a time, stir gently to break up large air bubbles that have risen to the surface. Transfer icing to a squeeze bottle.

  • {I work about 3 cookies at a time when filling.}

  • Fill (or flood) in the outlined area. Use a toothpick to guide into edges and fully cover.
  • Let dry at least one hour.
  • Again with the #2 tips, add a little curved line for detail on the bulb.

Stop here, they are perfectly cute OR the next day….


…mix a little meringue powder with water and paint it (with a child’s paintbrush) on the line detail and shake on sanding sugar (turn upside down to remove excess)….

…OR, coat the entire bulb with the meringue powder/water mixture and shake on sanding sugar.

OK, who’s ready to make some cookies?!?