Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dust off those Cookie Cutters

Let’s face it, we all have large tins of various cookie cutters that we can’t bare to part with, but at the same time may use every other Christmas, if that. Or maybe I’m the only one guilty of that. Even so, there are plenty of other uses for cookie cutters that span not only food uses, but also some fun non-cooking uses.

Cooking Uses:

Shaping Eggs- You can buy an egg shaper made out of the same metal as your trusty cookie cutters, but why not have fun shaped eggs? A lot of cookie cutters even have little handles to make this an even easier project. Just make sure you only use metal cookie cutters and use every precaution to keep yourself safe.

Sandwich Shapers- Stores are making money off of basically selling cooke cutters for sandwiches. While they may be specifically shaped for sandwiches, why spend the extra money if you already have cutters at home?

Bento Boxes: There’s limited room in every lunch box, whether you have a special bento box or just plain tupperware, but cookie cutters help make the most of that space and keeps the foods separate. Not only that, but it helps bring a little bit of colour and flare to any lunch.

Non-Cooking Uses:

Ornaments- Whether you just tie a ribbon on them or actually drill a hole for a ribbon, cookie cutters make awesome ornaments for any holiday, party or day that just needs a little bit of decoration. Best thing is being able to still use them for cookies after.

Soap Molds- Making soap is fun in general, but making shaped soap just takes a little bit more effort and makes the soap more interesting. I wouldn’t recommend using the cookie cutters on food again unless you’ve done a heavy duty cleaning on them, but if the cookie cutters are rarely used for food anyways and you’ll use them on soap making more often, then go for it.

Cross-Posted on my other Blog

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paper, Paper, Paper

If you’re like me, you write on every piece of paper you find and generally lose gumption to type it up after the initial spurt of activity. Or you just write every down so you don’t forget anything or you have to do lists that just sit there. So this bring up the questions: Does creation stop after the story is over? Or does that piece of paper still have potential to be more? Can that potential to be more the push to actually type up your pieces in a timely manner?

No, yes, yes. At least, that’s the answers I’ve been finding lately. So here’s a fun list of things you can do, including some links on instructions:

1) Paper chain folding: This type of paper chain folding is usually called “Starburst paper folding”, because of the publicity it got when a mom made her daughter a prom dress from Starburst wrappers. In actuality it’s been around forever, originally done with gum wrappers. People mainly use it to make bracelets and other jewelry, however I’m in the process of using my writings to make a picture frame and hope to make a box soon after. It’s fun, simple, quick, and if you have small paper, it works wonders. Be forewarned that it does not make quite as sturdy/neat looking chains as starburst wrappers do, but it just takes a bit of practice to find the best way of cleaning it up.

How to make a chain from Starburst Wrappers

2) Origami: This is pretty much a given, let’s face it. Cut the paper to the appropriate size and make that story into the best object that represents it. I am horrible at origami, but I guess this means I can get some practice.

Origami Fun

3) Paper strips: This is what I’m doing with my to do lists (if I finish them); I make paper strips and turn them into something, currently a bowl. Take a piece of paper, cut it into approximately 1 inch strips, fold into a third, and fold one last time, matching the side edges together. This should make a strip. An easier way to do this is by folding the paper in half and in half again. Either way, make sure to glue the edges together so that the strip is easy and firm to work with. Now comes the fun part: make something. Coasters, bowls, art pieces, etc. Anything you desire, just remember to seal the pieces afterwards and that unless you find yourself a really special sealer, don’t use any items for unwrapped foods that could damage the piece (i.e. These bowls are not soup bowls). If my directions are hard to follow, just google it and you’ll find plenty of directions. This is just how I learned it.

4) Envelopes: Don’t you dare ask me what an envelope is, you’re old enough to know. I’ve been doing this to old magazines that I haven’t gotten rid of for one reason or another.The easiest way to do this is to find an envelope the size you want, then carefully pull the pieces apart. Once the envelope is completely unglued, trance it onto the paper that you want to make an envelope (personally I glue two pieces of paper together so that I get an extra thick and sturdy envelope). Once trances out, cut it out and glue the proper pieces together. I also use blank envelope stickers to have a clear cut spot for addresses and since these come in various colours it can look really cool. If my directions are hard to follow, just google it and you’ll find plenty of directions. This is just how I learned it. As with the paper strips, if my directions are hard to follow, just google it and you’ll find plenty of directions. This is just how I learned it.

There are plenty of other things that can be done with the papers (like home made recycled paper, decoupage, etc), but these are some of the easiest and least messy things that can be done.

P.S. Glue sticks work best for most of the paper crafts listed.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Creating for Self-Fulfillment

My Dear Fellow Travellers,

Admittedly, there are a million reasons to create. Some reasons good, some bad, but more than anything, there’s one reason that rises above the rest:

Create for yourself.

Creating shouldn’t be a chore, it shouldn’t be a hardship or something that just gets done. There should be a self-fulfillment of some sort attached to it.

Sure, there may be bigger reasons, like political stances or statements for equality., but the reasons for making such statements should be for you. It should be because you believe it, because it means something to you.

If it doesn’t, that makes your creations hollow. Sure you could be writing or painting because some one inspired you, but if that person is standing behind you, forcing you to work, then your work isn’t for you, isn’t fulfilling of some innate need inside yourself.

The examples of people creating for their own fulfillment is vast, from the silly to the serious. Lady Gaga wants to be unique and create astonishing pieces that shock and amuse people, she, from all assumptions, enjoys this. Martin Luther King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, because he believed in his cause and he could not fulfill himself if he didn’t push for it. But how many people go that extra step, push for something so hard, if they don’t find some type of self-fulfillment from it? If creating does not help them towards their own goals and dreams?

Sara Barielles has a song, called “Love Song”, that says, “I’m not gonna write you to stay/All you have is leaving/I’m gon’ need a better reason/To write you a love song today.” That quote sums up how we should feel about our creativity: that we should not feel forced to create, but rather that creation should be part of our own self-fulfillment.

This does, however, bring up questions about self-fulfillment, that I may or may not address at another time.


Love Song by Sara Barielles

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Make the World Suck Less with out Getting off Your Ass

Fellow Travellers,

We’re all busy people. So when we get home at the end of the day, who wants to do anything but sit in their pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers? Trust me, I get that, but there are some things we could all be doing from our couches to help the world suck less.

This website has you play a quiz game that for ever correct answer, 10 grains of rice is donated to the World Food Program. I’ve been using this one off and on for years and just recently discovered that if you create an account, you can friend users and compare scores. Groups can even be created and even teachers have classes doing in groups for class projects. With the variety of subjects (from vocab to science to other languages), it’s hard to get bored and can even get rather addicting. Think of it this way, you’re not only promoting your own brain health by exercising it, but you’re also helping feed people in need. There are other sites out there like this, however, few are as trustworthy. So if you find other sites like this, make sure to check them and even contact the charities they say they’re supporting, just to make sure they really are doing what they say.

I would be a lousy blogger if I didn’t mention Kiva. The site’s premise is simple: loan an amount of money to some one in the world struggling to make ends meet with their business. The person you lend to could be opening a clothe shop in a nearby town or trying to start selling dairy products and are in need of a cow. Best part is, you get to choose who you lend it to. Each borrower puts up why they need the loan, how much they need and when they expect to pay it back. You choose where your money goes. Now, once the money is repaid, you can either loan it out again or take it off of your account. In essence, you can keep giving and giving and with a 98.9% repayment rate, the chance of your giving actually costing you anything is slim. Think of it as banking with out the annoying fees.

You may not believe in what the government has the military doing, but that doesn’t mean that any person should go without mail. Or to better put it, that doesn’t mean any person should go without friends. We don’t know their reasons for joining the military, there are so many, but a situation like many military members are put in daily would be hard on any one, for any reason. Write a soldier, if only once, to show that we’re not just living our lives and forgetting what they’re doing. Every one deserves some friendship, some comfort. is a wonderful website dedicated to the online mentoring of teenagers and students. That’s right, you could mentor some one from your couch. Through the website, you can either mentor some one for a year or answer questions on a random or “spontaneous”, as they put it, basis. They even take into account the safety of every one involved, monitoring, filtering the conversations and limiting what person information can be shared. Schools can sign up for these programs and a mentor signed on for a year will be that school mentor. There’s a series of mentor’s classes to take, but it can all be done online fro your couch. You could help shape a teenager’s future.

Last, but not least, is Good Search. This is simple: you search, the organization of your choosing gets a donation. I’m not a fan of yahoo search engine, but I am a fan of helping out charities. There are literally thousands of charities to choose from, everything from cancers to schools to youth programs. You have your free rein of who to donate to. Personally, I donate to a different charity every month, though, I always stick to Michigan charities (Charity begins at home and all that). The one issue I’ve found is that they monitor your searches, so if you search “too much” they cancel all the proceeds your charity. I search a lot due to research for my writing and classes, so I actually split my search time between Good search and Google, just to make sure my donations don’t up and disappear.

These are some of the easiest/best ways to donate from the couch that I found. always has new opportunities coming up, online and offline, so search there often!