Tag Archives: DIY


Seed Bombs – Do It Yourself Planting

Submitted By Andrea Austin

Do you have a green thumb or a black thumb? If you’re like me, you can take one look at a plant and next thing you know the poor plant is sucking in the last breath of carbon monoxide just to live another day. I know plenty of gardeners that are leaders in their talent. I’ve often been envious of the beautiful gardens that grace the property of many of my friends. Oh, how I’ve longed for the ability to envision and bring such beauty to life.

One summer day, my daughter and I were riding along in the car and she looked out the window and gasped. There was a beautiful garden that was so vibrant in its colors that it was honestly breathtaking. I could see the amazement on her face. Knowing that she wasn’t accustomed to such a color palette in our own yard, I could see inspiration strike her immediately.

“Mom, did you see that pretty yard?” was the next thing out of her. “Yes, I sure did. It was so pretty,” I replied. “Mom, why can’t our yard look like that?” she asked.

Now, the maternal side of my body halted and took a huge gulp as I knew this was something I wouldn’t be able to do for my daughter without paying someone to make our yard a masterpiece. “Well, honey how about we get some seeds and try and plant some flowers of our own?” I asked, knowing deep down inside I had zero ability to make that happen and even if I knew what I was talking about, surely I would kill whatever I touched.

I rushed home and started thinking of ideas on how I could give my daughter the most beautiful yard with vibrant and pastel colors. Soon I realized that it just wasn’t in me until I came across an article online about local elementary students who were giving back to the earth by making a bed of flowers that would attract beautiful butterflies.

That was it! I could help my daughter plant her own little garden, a garden that she could be proud of because she was the one who put in the hard work. But somehow I wanted to make it more special than just tossing some seeds into some dirt. After doing a little more research about plants that are butterfly friendly, I was prepared with a new idea. The following weekend we hopped in the car and headed out to buy seed packets of the plants necessary to attract butterflies.

Then we bought some air dry clay and potting soil. We headed back home with a unique idea that wouldn’t require dredging an entire garden, but would still give her the pretty plants she so wanted. With all the supplies ready to go, we started making seed bombs.

We took the clay and pounded it out just like play dough, making a ball and then flattening it like a pancake. We put in a little bit of moisture-rich potting soil and a pinch of the special seeds. We wrapped the pancake of clay around the soil and seeds and then gently pressed it flat until it looked like a smushed ball. Then we used a rubber stamp that we had around the house and stamped the clay.

The clay took a few days to cure, but when it was hard and all the moisture was gone, we took several of the seed bombs outside. With a small shovel and potting soil in hand I let her pick the perfect place she wanted to put her garden in the yard and we started digging small holes. My daughter was only 4 or 5 at the time so a small hole worked just fine. We dropped the seed bombs into the ground, covered them with soil and added a little water.

Each day we would visit the garden and add “liquid grow” — water as the rest of us call it — to the seed bombs. She would pick weeds that would start growing around the small freshly covered holes. She tended the garden with the same care someone would tend a community size vegetable garden. After about a week or two the small covered holes started to sprout. You have never seen a little girl so excited. We continued to water the baby sprouts each day until they developed into newly budding flowers. The young flowers were starting to mature and they would soon show us their gorgeous faces.

Soon they opened, and lo and behold it surprised even me. In our big yard we had made our own little piece of heaven. It wasn’t much larger than a 3-foot by 3-foot area, but to the two of us it was a 100 acre field. As the flowers started to bloom, the butterflies started visiting and my daughter would go and visit the garden on her own every evening.

I always heard that famers talk to their crops. As the summer went on and more of the seed bombs grew I would have told you she was a flower whisperer. The flowers were so beautiful, and the winged friends that would come and sip the sweet nectar were vibrant as well.

Who would have thought an afternoon drive would have turned into such a remarkable memory for both me and my daughter? Seeds bombs showed me that regardless of the color of my thumb, it is possible to grow your own piece of heaven in your own backyard.


To make your own seed bombs you’ll need:
4oz Air Dry Clay
1oz Potting Soil
1oz Flower Seeds

Spread out the clay to be large enough to pour the dirt on it.
Pour the dirt on the clay and then pour the seeds on top of it.
Fold together and then knead until the mixture is thoroughly mixed together.
Roll out into a 3/4 inch log and make a cut every 1/2 inch. Roll each section into a ball.
Let sit in the sun to dry out if necessary and then toss where you’d like the flowers to bloom. You don’t have to bury
in the ground like we did. You can simply toss and go with this recipe.



DIY: Unique Photo Display Ideas

Make Memories that Last: Unique Ways to Display Photos

We all want to keep our family photos and portraits and see how we’ve changed over the years, but what is the best way to keep them out of the storage box in the attic? It’s a familiar tale that I’m sure you know all too well. We have many great family photographs, but we can’t display them all. Here are a few Do It Yourself projects that will keep these candid memories out in the open in unique and different ways.

Vintage Photo Pillows

A keepsake that can be passed down for years to come, these black and white images will add style to your couch, sitting area, bedrooms or anywhere throughout your home. It sounds complicated but it’s very, very easy. Shhh, don’t tell your friends! They’ll be amazed at how creative your decorations can be.


  • Cut two pieces of fabric and a piece of freezer paper to 8 1/2 x 11 in.
  • Next , iron the freezer paper to the fabric. The shiny side of the freezer paper will be down and you will be ironing the dull side. You won’t need to iron that long. Check to make sure the freezer paper is attached.
  • Once the paper is attached, put the fabric and freezer paper in your printer. Turn the paper/fabric in the printer so that you will print on the fabric side. The freezer paper is just there so that your printer has something to grab onto. We’re actually tricking our printers to think they’re printing on paper! How sneaky!
  • Next, make the pillow. Put the two right sides of the fabric together and sew around the outside, leaving about a 3 in. gap so you will be able to turn the pillow right sides out.
  • Stuff your pillow with polyfill and sew the pillow shut.
  • Place the pillow in a fun location for everyone to see and enjoy!


Wood Transferred Photos (images for DIY located at: http://wendysheafferphotos.com/2012/08/30/photo-wood-transfer-tutorial/)

This is a great way to display your photos and fill up a little wall or mantel space with a creative touch. With this method you can use black and white or color images.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Photo(s) to transfer
  • Wood, cut to same size as photo, or larger
  • Scissors or x-acto knife
  • Straight edge
  • Laser printer
  • Foam Brush
  • Matte Gel Medium (I used Liquitex)
  • Credit Card or flat piece of plastic
  • Towel, dishcloth
  • Mod Podge


Step 1. Choose your photo(s) and crop or size them to desired dimensions. Note that it’s important to reverse the image in your photo editing software, especially if your design contains lettering or anything that is not exactly symmetrical. Next, print your photo on a laser printer. This transfer will ONLY work with laser printers, not ink-jet printers. The thinner the paper the better.


Step 2. Trim out your photo. I used my x-acto knife and T-square to cut off the white around the photo edge, but you could also leave a white edge if you choose to have a natural wood border around your photo.


Step 3. Wood preparation: You can choose any kind, but a fine grain works best. Cut the wood down to the size you prefer. I bought a 4′ x 2′ of birch plywood at Home Depot and our example shows two 11″ x 16″ pieces. Be sure to avoid wood with very large, dark knots since the grain will show through and may be distracting. Before the gel step, you’ll need to sand the surface as smooth as possible, including any rough corners or edges.


Step 4. Using your foam brush, apply a layer of matte gel medium to the wood surface, coating it evenly all the way to the edges.


Step 5. Slowly place your laser print photo face down on top of your wood block. Be careful, because once it’s down it will be hard to remove without damaging the image. Once in place, use a flat, hard object (credit card or, in my case, a cake decorating tool) to flatten the paper and remove any air bubbles that may be trapped.


Step 6. Let it dry for at least 10 hours in a safe place. Overnight is great.


Step 7. Soak a cloth with water and dab all over the surface of the paper. Your image should begin to show through. Keep dabbing with water for 2-3 minutes until the paper is fully soaked.


Step 8. Here comes the fun (and messy) part! Once the paper is good and damp, use your fingers to rub away the paper fiber. It should come off pretty easily in tiny little rolls, as shown. Be sure to lay a towel under your project to collect the paper bits to make for easier clean up. You’ll be left with your laser transfer underneath!


Step 9. Keep rubbing until your fingers get tired! Take a break, then get back at it again. It took me about 20 minutes to get all of the paper off each of my boards. The picture shows my progress about 3/4 of the way done. If you can still see some spots, go back and continue rubbing to remove all of the paper fiber.


Step 10. Once the paper is rubbed entirely off the wood block, it’s time to seal the transfer. I used the same foam brush (after washing it completely clean) to apply a thin layer of Mod Podge on the top surface.


Glass Photo Box

Make a picture pop with a little added design. Here’s what you’ll need for this mantel show stopper.


  • A glass block that allows the inside to be accessed. You can find these at a craft store. Make sure the glass block has a large enough hole or opening to add all of the elements you want to include inside.
  • Inside decorations like beads, rocks, sand, Legos or any other small items for the foundation.
  • Photo and frame to fit photo.
  • Ribbon, bow or outside block decoration.




  • Insert the photo into a frame of your choice and set aside.
  • Add foundation elements to the bottom of the glass block. Adding sand for summer pictures, Legos for kid pics or rocks for family portraits are just a few suggestions.
  • Once the foundation elements have been added, put the image in the frame inside the glass block. Make sure to set the photo and frame in a secure spot as you’ll have to move the glass block to its display location.
  • Close the glass block and it’s time to decorate the outside. Add a cute bow or simple ribbon over the top to hide the block opening and tah-dah! You’re done!


Photo Luminaries


Who doesn’t love the soft glow of candlelight during the holidays or on a cold winter night? Here’s a way to jazz up your candles with the warm love of family and friends.


  • Blank sheets of vellum (available at craft stores)
  • Photo printer
  • Double sided tape
  • Round glass hurricanes, mason jars, etc.
  • Tea lights or battery powered candles



Use a photo printer to print a variety of photos onto vellum. You can use color or black and white images. Cut images to fit the dimensions of your glass jars. Cut just a hair short on the bottom and top to insure the photo fits the glass correctly. Use double stick tape to secure the photos onto the glass. Place tea lights inside the containers and light the candles to make your images glow.


Family Yearbooks


Trying to figure out which images you want to print and use each year can be a task, and then keeping up with them is even more difficult. Try making a family yearbook each year and hold onto them for years to come. Here’s how:


Create a folder on your computer called “Yearbook.” Each month go to your favorite social website or photo file and pull over images that you want to keep and add to your Yearbook. Pull 8-10 different images that are your favorites.


There are several sites available that you can use to build your own photo book. At the end of the year, upload your favorite pictures from your Yearbook file and it will make the process super easy.


Design your book, place your order, and your yearbook will arrive at your doorstep.


DIY – Outdoor Lighting

The summer is all about spending time outdoors and soaking up the warm weather. There’s nothing better than spending an evening with friends and family outside during a barbecue or social gathering, but it’s no fun if you have to sit in the dark. Lighting an outdoor area can sometimes be challenging and expensive, depending on the type of lighting you need for the area. We’ve found some great cost efficient ways to dress up the outdoors by adding a little ray of light without digging deep into your pockets.

wine-glass-table-lampsWine Glass Tabletop Lighting:

This might be one of the quickest and easiest ways to add lighting to tables on your deck and patio. You’ll need:
Wine glasses (number depends on the amount of area you need to cover)
LED or tea lights (one per wine glass)
Craft paper or Vellum (8.5” x 11”)
Lamp Shade Pattern (optional)
Hot glue gun

Directions: This is so simple! All you need to do is to cut the craft paper or vellum based on the size of your wine glass. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting the shade freehand, you can do a simple online search for lampshade patterns and all different kinds will show up. You can also cut the shade with decorative scissors to add an extra touch to the look of your lampshade. Then simply connect the two ends of the paper and attach together with glue. Let dry and simply place over a wineglass. You can either use tea lights or LED battery operated tea lights. Arrange on the table or sitting area and you have a unique lighting display all your friends will love.

Floating Pool Lanterns
If you’re gathered outside around the pool and need a little extra light or want a decorative pop, you can do this simple lighting project that everyone from kids to adults will enjoy! You’ll need:

Balloons (any size, shape and color)
Glow sticks or battery operated LED tea lights

Directions: Activate the glow sticks or turn on the LED lights and insert into the balloons. Blow up the balloons to desired size and tie to secure balloon closed. You can place these balloons in a pool where they will float or scatter them around your outdoor space for a fun pop of color and a sure conversation piece. Tip: If using as floating balloons in a pool, you can add a slight amount of water to each balloon to help it stay in the pool. If the wind blows, keep in mind you’ll need a little extra weight to keep the balloons from flying around. If adding water to the balloon, make sure to use waterproof battery operated LED lights or glow sticks for this project.

bottle_torchesBottle Tiki Torch
Save your old glass wine bottles or glass beverage bottles for this project. Then sit back and relax while staying bug free at the same time! You’ll need:
1/2″ x 3/8″ copper coupling
Tiki replacement wick
Nylon thread seal tape
Recycled wine bottle or beer bottle

Directions: Wrap the pipe wrap around the copper reducer many times. The opening on a wine bottle usually requires about 15 times around so that it will stick and you can actually insert the smaller 3/8″ side into the bottle as the 1/2″ side didn’t fit. You may also want to try it in beer bottles for smaller torches to place around the yard, but you’ll need to adjust your coupling size and the thickness of the wick accordingly. Insert the wick into the reducer. Fill the bottle with Citronella and insert wick. Let the oil be absorbed into the wick before lighting. Now enjoy! For a touch of decoration, you can purchase glass colored rocks from a dollar store and add them to the bottom of the bottles. Make sure that you use clear glass bottles if using decorative items in the bottom.

Garden Globes
This is an interesting way to add a pop of color to garden areas or lawn space. This project is perfect for dark landscaped areas around your home. You’ll need:

Light globes (the kind from bathroom light bars or old ceiling fans)
Battery operated Christmas light strands (50-light small strands work best)

Directions: Take the empty light globes and add the string lights to the inside of each. Make sure you keep the on/off battery box near the opening for ease of turning the globes off and on. Now arrange them throughout the outdoor space and enjoy! Using both large and small globes looks great. If you want to add some color, you can paint the globes a light acrylic paint color that will illuminate when the lights are turned on.

Solar Lamp Reno
Turn your outdoor seating area into an inviting evening seating space for you and your friends.
You’ll need:

Solar landscaping light
Lamp base (about $5 at Goodwill)
Lamp shade with socket frame

Directions: Snip off the electric cord at the base of the lamp. Unscrew the socket and pull out the remaining cord. Cut off the cord at the base of the socket. Remove the metal bracket and screw the socket back on the threaded post. Place the shade down over the socket. Make sure the wire shade frame is snug on the socket. Remove the plastic spike from a landscaping solar light. Place the top of the solar light (with the small solar panel facing up) snugly into the socket. My light fit pretty well into the socket, but if yours is wobbly, try using some padding in the socket around the light base. A folded-up piece of scrap fabric, foam or even florist’s putty would work well. Now, sit back and enjoy!

With these great outdoor lighting ideas you can turn any space into an inviting area for all to enjoy this summer. Share your DIY projects with us on Facebook.com/ReadFocusMagazine or simply comment below.