Category Archives: Do It Yourself

DIY Teacher’s gift: Super-sized pencil

It’s that time of year when the kids say good bye to their beloved teachers for the summer. The opportunity to show appreciation for the teachers come several times a year and it can be a little difficult to decide what to give. I generally like to give personalized gifts on behalf of my children, but it often requires time to place the orders and can get expensive. Since this was a last-minute attempt, I turned to Pinterest for help. After perusing many great ideas, I came across this pencil gift. Pretty neat huh? You may remember how I felt about crafting after my last DIY post on making a running medal display rack, but I decided to give this a shot…despite my feeling 😉

internet pecil craft When I looked at the original post, however, I realized that I didn’t have nor was I willing to spend money on all the fancy-schmancy equipment needed to make this gift. I decided to attempt it anyway…spending as little money as possible and using my creativity to complete the project. Here’s what I needed:Pencil supplies22The original list also called for a Circle Cutter, Score Board or Paper Crimper and Tear Edger. None of which I have. I cut the yellow paper into 11′ wide x 10.5′ high pieces. I applied the Mod Podge with the sponge brush to the Pringle’s can only. I aligned the edge of the yellow paper under the rim of the can and wrapped it around the can.

Pencil cuttings

I then cut the pink paper 10″ wide x 1 3/4″ high to make the eraser. I also cut out  11″ wide x 1″ high gray paper for the metal band between the eraser and the pencil. Because I had neither a crimper or score board, I used my hand to make tiny fan-like folds in the gray paper, then stretched it out. Pencil crimpled paper Collage

Then I applied the Mod Podge to the back of the pink paper and wrapped it around the bottom rim of the can. I applied the Mod Podge to the back of the gray crimped paper then also wrapped it around the can slightly overlapping the pink paper.Pencil w eraserThen I cut out 9″ wide x 3/4″ yellow paper. Again, using my hand (because I didn’t have an “Edge Tear-er”), I tore the edges to give it a rough look like a pencil that has been sharpened.

Pencil torn edgeNext it was time to make the tip of the pencil. I had to really use my creativity to achieve this. I did not have a Martha Stewart Circle Cutter as used in the original post…nor a circle cutter period. I decided to improvise, adapt and overcome. I pulled out a couple of bowls from the cupboard that looked small enough. I took a tape measure and measured across the top. Wouldn’t you know, the first one measured 5 1/2’…the exact circumference needed. The other two bowls weren’t the exact same size but I used them anyway. Bowls for pencilI traced a 5 1/2″ circle on brown paper (because my pack of construction paper didn’t have tan). I used my 3″ diameter bowl to trace another circle in the middle of the 5 1/2″ brown paper. I also traced a 4″ circle on black paper. Then I cut out all of the circles.Pencil cutout Collage

Next, I pasted the black cut out onto the larger brown cut out, then cut a slit from the edge to the center. Then I made a cone shape from the cut circle, making sure that it can fit in the lid of the Pringle’s can. I pasted the cone to make sure that it kept its shape. (You can trim off any extra layer off the bottom of the cone if you choose.) Using the E6000 glue or a hot glue gun, adhere the pencil tip cone to the top of the Pringle’s lid and let dry.  Then adhere the torn edge paper to the outer lid using either the Mod Podge or glue. (I forgot to take another pic.)

Then I used 2″ and 1″ stencils that I previously had and with a permanent black marker, wrote “teacher’s name” is No.1 (Instead on the standard No. 2 pencil :) …the idea taken from the original post). So here is the final product.Final pencil container layingThen I filled them with some goodies for the teachers.Pencil container(Sorry the lighting is off. I used the flash on the 2nd pic. )

This was a fairly simple project. It took about an hour and a half to complete. It probably would’ve been less if I didn’t have the kids helping from time to time. Because my schedule is so busy, I had to sacrifice a workout and actually cooking dinner that evening to be able to pull this off in the middle of the week.

If you follow this blog, you might remember me saying that I don’t like crafting after my last craft project. Well, I realize that what I actually don’t like is the nailing and painting, but I really enjoy gluing and pasting. I’ll be posting what my kids teacher’s actually think of our little project on Facebook and twitter. So please join the conversation by liking and follow Defining Hope.

What kind of gifts do you give your children’s teacher? Do you give purchased or crafted gifts? Which would you rather receive?

Tweet -Tweet. So sweet.

We are close to wrapping up a week-long blog challenge sponsored by Joi, The Rx Fitness Lady. Today’s prompt is: The thing I wish I had known before publishing my blog (optional tutorial) or Favorite Social Media and Why/Tips. But first, please feel free to check out any of the following posts written for this challenge in case you missed it :) 

twitter tutorial

Up until about two years ago, when I heard the word tweet,one of 3 things came to mind: a childhood hand clapping game called Rockin Robin, the cute baby voice of Michael Jackson singing or simply the sweet song of a bird. Now, almost everything that tweets has to do with the social media twitter. By the way, I’d love it if you’d follow me there. I’m no social media expert. In fact I only joined facebook about 4 years ago and twitter less than a year ago.

I’ve heard so many people rave about twitter and how it’s helped to grow their blog or business but I’m still totally confused. I don’t always know how to filter through all of the tweets so I can focus on the ones that I really want to read and interact with. I recently figured out that I can make lists to group my followers so that I can see twitter feeds specific to those lists. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I like to make lists. I wish I had known about this before I started blogging. I probably would’ve been further along on twitter.

I decided to do a tutorial to show how to create lists to group your followers. I’ll be using my hubby’s twitter account for this tutorial. You can see how active he is on the site.

  1. Every profile on twitter has a little icon/man with a drop down menu next to the “follow” button. You can either go to a person’s profile or choose them from your list of followers. Click the drop down arrow to view the menu.
  2. Click the “Add or remove from list” option. Twitter list tutorial add
  3. You will have the option to create a list if there is none present.
  4.  Once you click on “(1)Create a list” a second pop up screen will ask you to fill in additional information (2). I actually created this list as an example. Click save (3) to continue. Twitter list tutorial add group
  5. To view your handy work. Go back to your profile page, click on lists, then view your list. Voila! You can create as many lists or groups as you like. Select the list to view the tweets for only those in that group. Twitter list tutorial view list

I’ve created lists for my favorite blogs, close friends, businesses etc. You may also choose to make you list public so others can follow your list or you can keep in private for your eyes only. I hope this helped someone out there. I’m sure there are a  million other effective ways to make sense of twitter. If you have tips or suggestions, please share them in your comment.

What is your favorite social media and why? How do you navigate your way through twitter?


DIY: Running Medal Display Rack

As you may know by now, I’ve been participating in a week-long blog challenge sponsored by Joi, The Rx Fitness Lady. In case you missed any of those posts, feel free to check them out below.

Today’s day 5 prompt is: An Appropriate Do-it-yourself project. I am super excited to share this project. I posted a while back that I’m partially motivated by the race medal or “bling”. At that time, I only had 3. Well, over the last year of running, I’ve accumulated a few more race medals. I’ve seen several display racks, but thought to myself that I could probably make one myself; so I did. Here’s what I did.Final Medal Rack CollageFirst, I gathered all of my supplies. I ended up spending about $40 dollars total. It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but I made a few costly mistakes that hopefully, I can help you avoid. Medal rack supply Collage

I spray-painted the edges pink. When it dried, I placed tape over it then spray-painted the surface black. (I forgot to add tape to the supply list because I already had some and didn’t have to buy any) medal rack black

Then I placed the decorative stencil across the center and the letter stencils spelling the word “running” across the top. I used tape to cover and protect the remaining surface from unwanted splatter. (If you look carefully (through all that pink) you’ll see where the stencils were placed)

medal rack stencil paint

While I waited for the paint to dry, I also spray painted the brass cup hooks black.

Medal rack Spray paint hooks

Now for the big reveal! UGH! The spray paint smeared under the stencils. By the way, this was attempt #2. I had to erase the first attempt by repainting it black.

Medal rack bad stencil

I also had to touch up some areas that smeared on the decorative stencil as well. I simply used a black permanent marker to sharpen the edges of the design.

Medal rack save Collage

Finally after getting frustrated with the stencils, I headed back to the craft store. I racked my brains trying to figure out the best and easiest stencil to work with. Then, there they were…wooden letters. Ahhhh! *cues Hallelujah chorus*. I spent about $3 bucks for them, spray painted them and pasted them on with wood glue.


Finally! I have a beautiful rack to display my run medals. I didn’t even realize that I had so many.

Finished Medal display rack

It took about a total of 2-3 hours to complete this project including drying time. But because of work, kids and other responsibilities, I didn’t have the time to knock it out in one shot. It took me almost 4 days of working on it 10 minutes here and there. I learned that I am much more patient with people than projects. Before being married with kids, I’d spend hours on a craft project.  Now, it seems less enjoyable because I don’t have time…unless I’m doing crafts with the kids. All in all, it was fun to tackle and I absolutely love the way it turned out.

How often do you do craft projects? Do you enjoy it? Are you a patient project person?

How to Remove a Security Ink Tag.

Have you ever gone to the store, purchased an article of clothing, got home, only to find out that the security ink tag is still on the garment? Well, it’s happened to me on numerous occasions. Annoyed, I reluctantly dragged myself back to the store, receipt in hand and ask to have it removed. Sometimes it’s not that easy.

steal-signI had reservations about writing this post because I didn’t want to contribute to any criminal activities, but this YouTube video helped me and I wanted to pay it forward. So just a quick warning.       This post was written to assist innocent individuals (like myself) who need help removing a security ink tab from items purchased and NOT to facilitate thieves in  their crime.

Ok, (now that that’s off my chest,) what  happens when an out of town family member travels to the place where dreams come true (Disney World), buys your 6 year old princess the perfect and most befitting gown as a belated birthday present only for you to later discover that the security ink tag is still on the dress? We couldn’t just walk into Disney World and say “Oops you guys forgot to remove the tag.” We didn’t have a gift receipt to take to the local Disney store hoping that they could remove it. We DID have an excited 6 year old who was very anxious to try on her new gown.
The next best thing?…try to remove the tag ourselves…Yikes! We watched a few Youtube videos, found one with a tag just like ours and decided to give it try. Apparently, there are a million ways to remove them (who knew/), but this one was fairly simple.

All we needed was a knife, but we added the tape and garbage bag, not pictured.

1. We put tape over the ink compartments to minimize ink damage just in-case we messed up and the ink exploded. Also as an added precaution, my hubby placed the entire dress in a garbage bag.

2. We used the serrated knife to cut off the top of the non-ink side.

After cutting off the tip of the non-ink side, a spring and a metal disc. were exposed.

After cutting off the tip of the non-ink side, a spring and a metal disc. were exposed.

3. When we removed the tip, there was a spring and a metal disc inside which were easily removed and further exposed 4 tiny metal balls. We used the knife tip to remove (pluck out) the small round metal balls.

Once we removed two balls the other two literally fell out totally releasing the pin.

Once we removed two balls the other two literally fell out totally releasing the pin.

4. When the balls were removed, the top of the tab came off with no problem, leaving the ink compartments in tact. We were then able to safely remove the garment.

ink tab ink exposed editedIt took us about 15 minutes total and that was probably due to me stopping to take pictures every second. Some of the videos we watched demonstrated that once the ink gets on your clothing, it will not come out. Also that there is a bad smell associated with the ink. I wasn’t curious enough to experiment with bursting the ink compartments to test the odor.

The end result was one happy princess. She put on her gown and you would think that she was Princess Tiana herself. ( No your eyes aren’t going bad. Her face is a little blurry. I was playing around with princess edited blur face

The experience of removing the security ink tag myself was worth not having the hassle of figuring out where to have it properly removed. However, I hope I don’t have to do it again.

Have you ever purchased something where the store forgot to remove the tag? How did you resolve it? I’d love to hear from you.