How to Upcycle a Crystal Head Vodka Bottle Into a Sugar Skull Candle Holder

How to Upcycle a Crystal Head Vodka Bottle Into a Sugar Skull Candle Holder

skull head candle holder

Y’all, I drank some vodka so that my kids and I could make this project. Friends, I am always working for YOU!

It’s October. You need a sugar skull candle holder.

There are skull-shaped vodka bottles for sale in liquor stores.

Let’s play!


To make your own sugar skull candle holder, you will need:

  • Skull-shaped glass bottle. I’m using empty Crystal Head vodka bottles (hiccup!), but there are other skull-shaped glass bottles around.
  • Rust-Oleum Paint+Primer spray paint, heirloom white. I don’t love spray paint, obviously, because it’s not eco-friendly, BUT this exact color in this exact brand is the perfect bone color.
  • Paint pens. We used both Sharpie and Beric paint pens. I, personally, preferred the narrower tips of the Beric pens, but both brands show up well and don’t flake off or smear.

spray painting skull bottles


  1. Clean and paint the skull-shaped glass bottle. There’s a neat trick that you can do to paint a bottle: stick a pole in the ground, upend the bottle over the pole, and get the whole bottle, top, and bottom, in one go! I, however, didn’t feel like digging around for a pole, so I just turned the bottles upside-down after they dried and sprayed on another coat. No big deal.
  2. Decorate the bottles with paint pens. Have a lot of fun with this! Draw patterns and designs or focus on one big concept; either way its going to look absolutely awesome.

decorating skull bottle heads

This is a great project for a kid to do if they can treat paint pens respectfully. Teach them all about the Day of the Dead, let them look at lots and lots of images of real sugar skulls, and then let them be as creative as they like.

If you want to seal your sugar skull candle holder with a clear sealant, you can, but in this case, I don’t really think it’s necessary. I also didn’t want to make my own sugar skull candle holder shiny.

The Crystal Head vodka bottle fits a standard-sized taper candle, and I’d recommend cutting a cardboard circle out of recycled food packaging to fit around the candle so that you’re not in any danger of wax dripping onto your beautiful creation.

finished skull head bottle candle holder

P.S. Want to make a REAL sugar skull? Check out my walk-through here!

P.P.S. Want to make even more types of sugar skulls? Check out some of my other favorite sugar skull projects!


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Four Dozen Eco-Friendly Felt Crafts

Four Dozen Eco-Friendly Felt Crafts

Felt is SO much fun to craft with, and felt crafts are even better when you realize how eco-friendly they can be!

Prefer crafting with natural materials? Wool felt is for you.

Prefer crafting with recycled materials? You’ll love Eco-fi felt, made from recycled plastic bottles!

Whichever kind of felt you prefer, you can settle happily into any of the felt crafts below, knowing that whatever you make, it will be a great choice for the environment:

1. Realistic felt leaf silhouettesYou use real leaves as the templates for these felt leaves, so each one is unique and realistic.

2. Felt piggy bank coin purseThis little piggy is adorable and will keep your change safe.

3. Felt party hatsDon’t waste your money on buying party hats every year–these are cute, easy to make, and will last forever.

4. Felt woodland creature masksIf you’re already freaking out about Halloween costumes, these adorable felt woodland creature masks may just save your month!

This cute little no-sew felt owl is a perfect way to take a break from the summer swelter.

5. No-sew owlThis is a great craft for a kid to make independently–working with felt is great for kids!

6. Plantable felt garden boxSo, this is the cutest craft EVER. If you have a kid who loves play food, that kid is going to LOVE this play garden.

7. Felt play foodI’m 42 years old, and I would still play with felt food–it’s THAT fun.

8. Travel tic-tac-toeHere’s an easy-to-make, easy-to-play travel game!

9. Baby capeOne 9” x 12” piece of felt is the perfect size for a cape for a baby. It’s an easy Halloween costume!

10. Felt sugar skull sachetsI am a firm believer that skulls are a year-round decorating element. Whether you, too, have skulls all over, or if you reserve them for Halloween, you’re going to think that these felt sugar skulls are super cool!

11. Fabric heartsI love mixing felt with other fabrics, and here it goes especially well with cotton prints to make beautiful valentine hearts.

12. Sheep mobileThese bouncy felt sheep will send your baby right to sleep!

13. First sewing project for a kidFelt is PERFECT for a first sewing project for a kid! It’s a real fabric, and therefore not babyish, but it doesn’t fray and is very forgiving. Show kids how to cut out simple shapes and how to thread a needle with embroidery floss, and then stand back and watch them create!

Crafts for Kids: Kid-Friendly Sewing Projects

14. Coffee sleeveYou don’t need to take and waste a cardboard sleeve when your DIY version is this cozy.

15. Felt acorn coasterCool weather is no reason for warm drinks to leave rings on your coffee table!

16. Felt gingerbread manThese little gingerbread men make cute ornaments or gift tags.

17. Felt koozieA felt koozie is easy enough for a kid to make with white glue and a few simple stitches, but you could also make these amazingly elaborate, with lots of details and embroidery. It’s the perfect all-level project!

Handmade Father's Day Gifts

18. Felt mailbox play setDoes your kid LOVE checking the mail? Make them a homemade felt mailbox!

19. Felt succulentsYou can’t kill them.

20. Garland necklaceYou get to whip out your jewelry making skills for this project!

21. CrownAre birthday crowns a thing where you live? They’re not a thing where I live, but I did them anyway when my kids were wee. Felt is a great material to use since it’s so easy to sew, and you can add whatever embellishments you like.

22. Felt heart bookmarkThis corner-style bookmark is the cleverest, and the design meshes perfectly with its function.

23. Felt lollipopMy kid had a candy-themed birthday party once, and these would have made great party favors.

24. Felt storage boxesWith all of the colors that felt comes in, you can have an endless variety of boxes to store all your odds and ends.

25. Car air freshenerFair warning: I have only tried this with wool felt, and so I don’t know how long the scent would last with recycled plastic felt. But this is also a terrific way to get some scent into your car, and especially without resorting to store-bought artificial scents!

Best of Crafting Green

26. Christmas pudding ornamentSo you can have a very British Christmas!

27. Felt peonyAfter you read through this entire round-up, you should be able to make an entire garden of felt flowers!

28. Ice cream broochApparently felt is THE fabric to have when making novelty accessories.

29.  Reusable party streamersThese streamers sew up quickly from even the smallest felt scraps, and you can reuse them year after year.

30. Felt leaf garlandUse these instead of store-bought faux greenery.

31. Felt wedding bouquetI LOVE this idea. I’d love to still have my own wedding bouquet, as fresh as when I walked down the aisle with it!

32. Guinea pig ornamentEverybody should want an ornament that celebrates their own favorite piggy.

33. Pinwheel broochHere’s a silly and sweet accessory for your next date night!

34. Felt bowThese are easy to make as multiples. Party favors, anyone?

35. Felt eucalyptusHere’s another one to add to your felt garden!

36. Rainbow heart bannerI love how colorful this is!

37. Peacock fascinatorNeed another lighthearted accessory? Check out this adorable peacock fascinator!

38. Felt baby shoesYour baby will be the most stylish–and the comfiest–in these homemade baby shoes.

39. Felt hot air balloon mobileOnce you learn how to make a mobile, tons of creative options are open to you!

40. Felt flowers mobileIf your baby doesn’t want a mobile of hot air balloons or sheep, then how about flowers?

41. Felt scraps garlandHere’s another easy streamer to make from all your littlest felt scraps.

42. Christmas pillowOne thing to know about felt is that it doesn’t always wash well, so I’d make sure that this pillow was mainly decorative.

43. Felt doughnutIt’s all hand-sewn, so anyone can do it–the more sprinkles, the better!

44. Felt mitten patternTwenty-four of these mittens lined up in a row would make a super sweet Advent calendar.

45. Felt playsetKids love felt boards for all the ways that they support imaginary play. Here’s how to make a felt playset with all of YOUR kid’s favorite things!

46. Felt corsageIt’s cheaper and more meaningful than even fresh flowers.

47. Felt dove ornamentThis link takes you right to the pdf template, so making this dove couldn’t be easier!

48. Felt tissue holdersThese are perfect for carrying around just a few tissues in your bag.

Do you have a favorite felt craft? Share it with me in the Comments below!


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Three Dozen Free Knit Hat Patterns

Three Dozen Free Knit Hat Patterns

Knitting season is upon us! I can tell, because as I sit here at my writing desk, I’m wearing wool socks, sweatpants, and a fleece hoodie with a giant unicorn head for a hood (it’s for sure my best thrift shop score EVER!), and I’m still freezing. When I go outside later, I will absolutely pull a knit hat on under my giant unicorn head, because in the fall and winter, you can never have too many knit hats.

A knit hat is a great knitting project, whether you’re a beginning knitter or a seasoned professional because there is a knit hat pattern to suit everybody. Don’t have a ton of time? Use chunky yarn! Have ages and ages to knit in? Allow yourself to make the most beautiful, elaborately detailed hat ever! Want to use up a bunch of scraps? Make the most colorful hat on the planet! Knitting for the pickiest person you’ve ever met? There’s a yarn color and weight and fiber for everyone!

So whatever type of project you’re looking for, check out the list below of my favorite FREE knit hat patterns online. You’re going to find something that you’ll love!

1. Classic knit hat Think of a knit hat. Got it? Okay, you’re thinking of this very hat! It’s a classic for a reason, simple in looks, easy to make, and lovely in any color.

2. Easy pom-pom hat on Ravelr If you love knitting (or you’re just learning to love it!), then you need to sign up for a Ravelry account. You’ll find loads of knitting projects and advice on Ravelry, and plenty of well-vetted patterns that are absolutely free–like this one!

3. Easy knit toque Here’s a simple pom-pom hat that’s knit with chunky yarn so it’s quick to make and comfy to wear.

4. Anthropologie-inspired knit hat I have absolutely no problem with seeing something that I like in a store and then heading straight home to DIY it. Here’s a great DIY version of an expensive store-bought knit hat.

5. Stripey knit slouchy beanie This is a cute style that will also stand up to lots of wear and tear and activity.

6. Beanie with a pom-pom This knit beanie is very similar to the one just above, but this one has a POM-POM!!!

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When your oldest friend asks for a Seahawks hat, you oblige even though they cheer for the wrong Birds (FLY EAGLES FLY!!) Crochet Winter Hat Pattern” free on Colors: Lion Brand Hometown USA “Fort Worth Blue” and Caron Simply Soft “Neon Green.” Maybe this will make the end of football season bearable for her 😉. . … #yarnspirations #lionbrandyarn #lionbrandhometownUSA #seattleseahawks #crochethat #crochetersofinstagram #crochetgirlgang #crochetlove #crochetersofig #likecrochet #crochetmagazine #lovecrochet #crochetaddict #crocheting #lovecrochetcom #insidecrochet #crochetgirlgang #crochetfans #happilyhooked #handmade #lovecrochet #knittedpatternsdotcom #yarnstagram #freepattern

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7. Despicable Me Edith hat Have a kiddo who loves Despicable Me and would love to dress just like one of those cute little cartoon kids? It’s now possible!

8. Seed stitch knit hat pattern Not all knit hats are knit with the easiest, most basic stitches. Here’s one that will stand out from the crowd thanks to the seed stitch.

9. Snowy Day hat This hat could not look warmer or more snuggly–it’ll FEEL warm, too, thanks to two strands of yarn knit together throughout the entire hat.

10. Audrey hat for beginners The pattern for this hat was designed with beginners in mind and has helpful written tips just for newbie knitters.

11. Effortless beanie Here’s another free hat pattern just for knitters. The pattern, itself, is free, but if you need even more hand-holding, you can actually buy a kit with all the supplies needed to make this hat right from the pattern page.

12. Baby earphones hat This free hat is sized for 12 months, with other sizes for sale.

13. Braided hat Even those of us with buzzcuts can have long braids for winter!

14. Matching hearts hat The heart earflaps are too cute, and you can even knit them separately to embellish an entire line of matching winter gear.

15. Child’s earflap hat Earflap hats are the warmest, and the little ties mean that you can actually keep this hat ON a kid’s head.

16. Child’s crown I don’t know how warm this will actually keep a child, but it is ADORABLE.

17. Knight’s helmet This WILL keep a head–and face!–quite warm.

18. Creepy critters chullo I LOVE the critters knitted into this super-warm hat!

19. Owl knit hat pattern Like the idea of animals on your head, but you’re NOT into the idea of creepy animals? I think this owl knit hat is going to be just the thing for you.

20. Cupcake hat Your little cupcake needs a cupcake hat!

21. Ombre pom-pom beanie With just three colors of yarn, this beanie hat pattern has the cleverest way to make an ombre effect.

22. Sock monkey hat You need a hat that looks like a sock monkey, and that’s all that I’m going to say about it.

23. Simple texture slouch hat Yarn companies can be a great resource for free knitting patterns, such as this version of a knitted slouch hat.

24. Mummy hat Here’s another yarn company offering–this one a hat that will keep your face and head warm, and make you look quite a lot like a mummy.

25. Chunky knit hat And another yarn company, wanting to show you how to make a chunky knit hat that’s very snuggly and knits up quickly.

26. Daffodil hat This little hat would be so cute on a kid in early spring!

27. Transformers toque This hat is more than meets the eye. It is not, however, a robot in disguise.

28. Four-row repeat hat Here’s an easy technique for making a hat that looks more complicated than it is!

29. Brain hat Why yes, this IS a free pattern to knit a hat that looks like a brain. You guys, I want this hat sooo badly!

30. Snowfall hat If you want something Christmasy but a little more elegant, check out this snowfall hat.

31. Rudolph hat Knit hats are the clothing of Christmas–get a little more festive with a Rudolph hat!

32. Santa hat If someone is going to be Rudolph, then someone else has to be Santa Claus!

33. Belle wig Maybe you can only get your loved one to wear a hat outside in the cold if that hat happens to look exactly like Belle’s wig from the Beauty and the Beast animated film. That’s cool because this knit hat does that!

34. Knitted wig This wig isn’t nearly as elaborate as the Belle wig, above, but it’s still a fun way to keep your heard warm with a faux hair look.

35. Elvis wig Or, you know, you could just knit yourself an Elvis wig.

36. Spock ears hat Or maybe you can only get them to wear a hat if the hat looks like Spock’s ears. Whatever works!

Do you have any favorite free knit hat patterns? Share them with me in the Comments below!


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How to Design a Logo, in 5 Simple Steps

How to Design a Logo, in 5 Simple Steps

Take a quick glance around whatever space you’re in right now. No matter whether it’s a coffee shop, your office, your bedroom, a subway car, or the park, there’s one thing you’ll certainly find: a logo. Be it on a postcard pinned to a corkboard, emblazoned on a T-shirt or hat, driving by on the side of a truck, or tattooed on the arm of the person next to you, logos are the communication currency of the modern world.

Every brand, whether corporate or personal, has a logo. The bands you listen to, the food you eat, the sports teams you root for, the bloggers you follow — all have logos. Logos surround you, wherever you are.

And that’s because there’s nothing more important for a brand’s identity than its logo. A visual symbol, when executed well, expresses so much more than words can about the company, product or group it represents. And the best symbols express so much, in turn, about you, the consumer. Iconic logos like Apple’s, LEGO’s and Levi’s didn’t cement themselves in our culture just because they’re cleanly designed or boldly colored or eye-catching shaped, or just because they contain a company name; they’re icons that consumers are proud to tout in their homes, on their clothing, and in their hands.

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So, if you’re new to this work, how do you go about tackling logo design, given how high the stakes are? Maybe you want to add heft to your graphic design portfolio, or create a personal logo for your own brand, or simply challenge yourself creatively. Regardless, adding logo design to your toolkit will serve you well given how critical these assets are across every industry. Below, your ultimate, step-by-step guide to designing a logo.

Step 1: Deep-Dive Into the Brand

First things first: do a close study of the brand for which you’re designing a logo. Read any materials you can get your hands on, peruse any design guidelines that are available, scroll through the brand’s social media feeds if they exist, talk to people who work for or consume (or would consume, if it doesn’t exist yet) the brand. A powerful logo encapsulates the essence of the brand, so it’s critical to begin the logo design process with an airtight understanding of what that brand stands for, who its target audience is and what its core values are. Collect all of this information into a thorough design brief that can guide your creative process as you begin exploring ideas.

Step 2: Gather Inspiration

The world around you is teeming with examples of great logos. Before you dive into design, assemble a mood board of logos — either physical or digital — that resonate with you and feel relevant for the brand for which you’re creating a visual identity. Check out sites like PinterestDribbble, and Behance, and browse the portfolios and Instagram accounts of designers you admire. Page through magazines, art books, and even catalogs.

Step 3: Start Sketching

Using the inputs from Step 1 and the inspiration from Step 2, start playing around with ideas using paper and pen. Sketching by hand is quicker than jumping right into Adobe Illustrator; you won’t get bogged down in the tiny details and the quantity of your creative output will be greater. You don’t need to be excellent at drawing, either; the sketching phase is just about churning out all stripes of ideas efficiently. As you begin, you’ll want to determine the right aesthetic that fits the brand in question — quirky? classic? retro? — as well as the colors and typography that best communicate the brand identity. In addition, you’ll need to decide what type of logo is most suitable: wordmark, monogram, combination, brandmark or emblem. It’s up to you as the designer to determine the creative direction of each of these elements in combination. At this stage, no ideas are bad ideas. Don’t erase or throw out anything you come up with; you never know what creative fruit may be borne from your early thoughts when you take stock of your work, even if it’s for a future project.

Step 4: Tighten Your Concept

Once you start to get a sense of a few solid options for your logo, hold each up to a strict checklist to ensure you’re headed in the right direction. A great logo must be:

Simple: Is it clear at first glance what the logo is communicating? Is it not trying to do too much? Does it not overwhelm the eye? Will potential customers understand what this brand does?

Memorable: Is the logo impactful? Does it leave a good visual impression?

Versatile: Logos are used in all manner of branding materials, both print and digital. Can this logo design be adapted across a variety of media? Is it scalable, up and down?

Relevant: Does the logo match the aesthetic and personality of the brand? Does it have meaning that’s appropriate to the company or product it’s representing?

Timeless: Will the logo still be effective in 2 years? 10? 50?

Unique: Does the logo take too many obvious cues from similar brands’ logos? Does it have an individualized visual voice?

Use the above criteria to narrow down your designs to 2-5 finalists to show your client, or to consider yourself even more closely if the logo is for your own project. It helps to take a breather at this stage — even just a day — and come back to the designs with fresh perspective in order to select a winner.

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Step 5: Digitize Your Design

There are a variety of ways to digitize your hand-sketched logo, if you want to use your drawing as the basis of the final logo versus designing a new on your computer. The most common route is to scan the sketch, and then convert the image into a vector file in Adobe Illustrator. You’ll also need to export your logo into a variety of file types, depending on the project needs (for example, .ai, .eps, .png and .pdf).

That’s it! All that’s left is to put that logo to use, on everything from business cards, letterhead, email footers and social media profile images to branded apparel, swag and packaging.

The logo creation process can be time-consuming and creatively challenging. But it’s worth the investment of energy and time: a brand is only as powerful as its logo.

Now go forth and design.

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21 Free Leggings Patterns and Tutorials

21 Free Leggings Patterns and Tutorials

mermaid leggings

If you’ve been suspecting that you can make leggings that are just as good as the ones you can buy in stores, then you are RIGHT! Leggings are super easy to sew, very forgiving for the beginner, and best yet, when you’re in charge of making them, you get to choose your favorite prints and patterns, and you get to make sure that the fit and length are exactly what you want.

For instance, those mermaid leggings in that photo above? I sewed them in exactly the holographic blue mermaid scale print that my mermaid-obsessed kid has been dreaming of, and I went up a full size in the length, so that unlike every other pair of leggings that I’ve ever tried to buy her in a store, they actually fit both her waist AND her legs–yay!

And of COURSE, I sewed her American Girl doll a matching pair of mermaid leggings from the scrap fabric.

Making a kid’s dream come true isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Interested in making some dreams of your own come true, or maybe you just want another pair of comfy pants? No problem! Check out my list of FREE leggings patterns and tutorials below, and soon you and your ball-point sewing needle will be cranking out some new favorites.

space leggings

1. Peg Legs by Patterns for PiratesI seriously cannot believe that this pattern is free. It is the BEST leggings pattern, and you can also get free add-ons to it to make it even fancier. It also comes in a huge variety of sizes–my 12-year-old is just barely too small for the smallest size, but my 14-year-old (near the bottom of the sizes) and I (near the top) both love the leggings that I made from this pattern.

2. Easy 18-inch doll leggingsThis is THEE pattern that I use to make American Girl doll leggings. Every time I sew a pair of leggings, I use the scraps to sew a pair for my kid’s dolls. She loves them, and *I* love using up every last bit of fabric!

3. Adult sweater to child leggingsThese kid leggings aren’t stretchy, but they are SO warm and toasty, and the wilder the sweater, the more the kid will love them.

4. Draft your own leggings patternIf you want a real, made-from-scratch DIY experience, why not draft your own pattern? Leggings are so forgiving that this is a great beginner’s project.

5. No-sew braided leggingsYou do have to start with a complete pair of leggings for this project, but it would be a great way to jazz up a boring pair of leggings rather than buying a brand-new pair.

6. Free children’s leggings patternSo many tutorials tell you to make leggings by tracing a pair of leggings that you already own, and honestly, I’m pretty over that. That’s a fine novice trick, but after a while, you really just want a well-drafted pattern with a decent range of sizes. So hallelujah, here’s just that!

7. Knit shirt to child leggingsHonestly, if I had another kid, all I’d do is upcycle old adult shirts into clothes for that kid. Any comfy long-sleeved shirt made of T-shirt fabric can be used to make a comfy pair of leggings for a kid.

8. No-hem bow cuff for leggingsUse this cute finishing technique with any leggings pattern.

9. Skirt + leggingsThis pattern is a great idea for kids who want to wear a pair of leggings under their skirt, anyway. Hint: it makes the monkey bars so much easier!

10. Knee patches for leggingsYou can save yourself a lot of trouble by simply putting knee patches on your kids’ leggings as you sew them.

11. Another free leggings pattern. And here’s another free adult leggings pattern! It’s an embarrassment of riches!

12. Another free kids’ leggings patternI really like the flounced capri option with these leggings.

13. Leggings to shortsRefashioning holey leggings into shorts is super easy, and you always need another pair of shorts!

14. Add ruffles to leggingsThese ruffles would be super cute attached to capri leggings.

15. Size medium leggings patternFree patterns for adult leggings are hard to come by. If you’re a size medium, then you’re in luck!

16. Painted patterns on leggingsHere’s another fun way to embellish a boring pair of leggings.

17. Baby leggings patternIf anyone deserves to be comfy, it’s a BABY!

18. Stretch lace leggingsUse any of the listed leggings patterns with stretch lace, and make yourself a super cute base layer.

19. Anything But Basic leggings patternHere’s another free pattern for adults, and it comes in a range of sizes, too. Yay!

20. Yoga pants to leggingsIf you’ve got yoga pants but you’d rather have leggings, here’s how to make the change.

21. Leggings with ruffled flowersWhen you sew your own leggings, it’s simple to add high-fashion embellishments–like these ruffled flowers!

Do YOU have a favorite way to sew or embellish leggings? Share them with me in the comments below!


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How Creative Routines Improve Your Health and Well-Being

How Creative Routines Improve Your Health and Well-Being

Smoking, jogging, stress eating, meditating — daily routines play a big role in overall health and well-being. But should creative routines also be on that list? Several studies suggest that creative work and creativity, at a minimum, can boost mental health while others argue that art has a physiological effect on the body. But before you swap the broccoli for chocolate and a paintbrush, how, exactly, does creating something affect your overall health? And are creative people more productive?

Many of the 20th century studies on creativity and health (and insights from authors like Mason Currey and Maya Angelou, artists like Beethoven or Mozart and scientists like Benjamin Franklin) stress a growing number of evidence-backed ways that show our health improves as we create. Like other health-boosting activities, many of the studies suggest that repeated creativity creates the biggest benefit. So how do creative daily rituals boost your health? Here are seven research-suggested reasons.

Creativity can decrease depression.

A growing amount of research focuses on the role creativity plays in psychological well-being, rather than physical health. As studies started to suggest a relationship between creativity and health, two researchers decided to look at 100 existing studies to put it all together. One of the several distinctions from the research, published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2010, was that the studies suggested participating in visual arts from pottery to photography to help reduce depression.

The study suggested that daily creative routines could help with the depression that’s often associated with long-term or serious illnesses. But further research points to creativity as staving off negative emotions even for healthy individuals. If you’ve ever felt a creative high after creating something after work or at your day job, you know creativity can help boost positive emotions and keep the negative ones at bay.

Ready to add more creativity into your life? Join the 11K people who’ve taken Tabatha Coffey’s class to get in touch with their true selves.

Creativity can reduce your body’s response to stress.

Adding creativity to our everyday lives can reduce stress and anxiety, too. Engaging in something creative can have a result similar to meditation by triggering the brain into creating more dopamine, a chemical in the brain that’s believed to be responsible for heightened excitement and productivity. This helps put us in a calmer, deeper state.

Creativity can help boost your immune system.

The effects of creativity aren’t solely in the brain. Creative daily routines are also good for the immune system.

In one study of immune-compromised HIV patients, researchers found that participants that engaged in emotional writing had increased levels of lymphocytes. The test suggested that creativity can have a physical effect on our bodies, too.

Creativity can (sometimes) encourage fitness.

Not all creativity encourages a sedentary lifestyle behind a desk or easel. Some creative routines can boost health by encouraging more physical activity. Dance, long walks (or vigorous walks), for example, are an excellent example of a form of creativity that encourages physical health. Long walks aren’t the only daily rituals that can get you moving, however, with other types of creativity inadvertently encouraging exercise. Nature photography can encourage hiking, too. Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, find some time to incorporate creative routines to your day and increase your heart rate!

Creativity decreases the risks of cognitive impairment as you age.

Studies show that individuals with dementia retain creative abilities longer than other skills. As such, art therapy is a popular aid for patients with dementia. But another study by the Mayo Clinic suggests that regularly engaging in creativity can actually delay cognitive decline. The researchers suggested that crafts from painting to quilting for middle-aged adults and older individuals may be able to help prevent or delay common cognitive conditions seen in old age.

The catch? Health can also boost creativity.

Creativity can help reduce stress and depression while boosting the immune system and decreasing other health risks. But the role between health and creativity goes both ways. While creativity itself can help boost dopamine, research suggests creative moments come from a blend of dopamine and serotonin while stress hormones can reduce creativity.

That means that, while creativity is healthy, other healthy habits can, in turn, boost your creativity. Habits like getting enough sleep, regular exercise and a healthy diet (think more protein and fewer carbs) can help boost creativity. With healthy daily routines boosting creativity and creativity boosting health, creativity and health exist hand in hand. Healthy habits, both in the traditional sense and the creative one, can support that cycle.

You don’t have to look to famous creative people to prove that creativity is a healthy habit. Engaging in regular creative routines, from photography to adult coloring books, can help reduce stress and depression, delay cognitive impairment and even aid in fighting some health conditions.

Ready to add more creativity into your life? Join the 11K people who’ve taken Tabatha Coffey’s class to get in touch with their true selves.

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Veterans Day, Every Day

Veterans Day, Every Day

Stacy Pearsall is the creator of Veterans Portrait Project.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the “War to End All Wars” was at an end. The year was 1918 and The Great War was declared over. Americans recognized the date as Armistice Day and celebrated world peace while also honoring veterans who fought in WWI. After WWII and the Korean War, Veterans replaced the word Armistice, and Americans began to observe the designated day as we know it today, Veterans Day. It’s a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

A portrait from Veterans Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall.

credit: Stacy Pearsall

Want to capture authentic emotion in portraits? RSVP to learn how from Stacy Pearsall.

As you may know from my Starting a Personal Project keynote, I began the Veterans Portrait Project while I recovered from combat injuries I’d sustained in Iraq as an Air Force combat photographer. My head was filled with negative words like “can’t,” “shouldn’t,” “restricted.” I felt alienated, helpless and alone. The life I knew and loved seemed to vanish overnight, and all I was left with was a pain-in-the-neck – literally and figuratively. A fellow veteran, who’d fought in WWII, was the inspiration I needed to take up the camera again. I felt his story, like so many other veterans I’d met in the waiting rooms of the VA hospital, was compelling and important to share. Moreover, I wanted him to know that I was thankful for his service and sacrifice. The best way I could demonstrate my appreciation was through my photography.

A portrait from Veterans Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall.

credit: Stacy Pearsall

I didn’t have much in terms of professional equipment, or lighting skills, but I figured it wouldn’t matter to the veterans. After all, the gesture was more important than the imagery. With a clear objective in mind, I worked with the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center’s public affairs office to arrange some portrait sessions. I set up my little makeshift studio, comprised of three Nikon Speedlights on flash shoe Spring Clamps and stands, in the common areas and photographed fellow veterans who were waiting for the medical appointments.

Stacy Pearsall is the creator of Veterans Portrait Project.

credit: Stacy Pearsall

With each veteran I met, I was struck by how similar our experiences were. It didn’t matter they were 40, 50, 60 years older than me. Through hearing their stories, I felt validated. I wasn’t alone after all. They too grappled with their experiences, and often expressed feeling the same emotions. I didn’t realize it at first but while providing empathy and compassion for them, they were healing me in return.

A portrait from Veterans Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall.

credit: Stacy Pearsall

A portrait from Veterans Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall.

credit: Stacy Pearsall

I set a goal that I would photograph veterans in every state and province from which the United States recruits military members. I figured that would take a lifetime. Thus far, I’ve traveled to 27 states and photographed several thousand veterans.

A portrait from Veterans Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall.

credit: Stacy Pearsall

A portrait from Veterans Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall.

credit: Stacy Pearsall

Want to capture authentic emotion in portraits? RSVP to learn how from Stacy Pearsall.

A portrait from Veterans Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall.

credit: Stacy Pearsall

Over the course of my Project, I acquired more equipment, refined my lighting techniques and raised awareness about veterans’ issues. Most importantly, I learned more about human nature and myself. The Veterans Portrait Project has been a journey of discovery, healing and growth for me – a truly personal project.

From the first veteran’s portrait I took in 2008 to the veteran’s portrait I took yesterday, they all mean something deeply personal to me. When standing in front of my brothers and sisters, I’m reminded that Veterans Day isn’t one day a year. Because it’s a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their service and sacrifice, for me, every day is Veterans Day!

Want to capture authentic emotion in portraits? RSVP to learn how from Stacy Pearsall.

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32 Eco-Friendly Halloween Crafts

32 Eco-Friendly Halloween Crafts

Halloween is the BEST holiday, but don’t get tricked into thinking that you’ve got to throw down the bucks in order to celebrate it in style. The truth is that too many store-bought Halloween decorations and accessories are made with unsustainable materials and practices, shipped long distances, and include too much packaging–and I’m not even going to get started on what they’ll do when they inevitably end up clogging the waste stream.

These eco-friendly Halloween crafts, however, have NONE of that nonsense. You’ll love how awesome and unique your Halloween decorations are, and the environment will thank you for not adding one more sweatshopped plastic piece of junk to the landfill in November.

Check out this list of my own favorite eco-friendly Halloween crafts, and get inspired!

1. Upcycled sugar skull candle holderI used empty Crystal Head vodka bottles (hiccup!) for this project, but your thrift store or local Freecycle might have other options for skull-shaped glass bottles.

2.Bleeding candlesThis is a great way to liven up and get some more use out of partially-burned white candles. For an even easier method, use red crayons to make the blood drips.

3. DIY candy holdersParty favors are easy to pass out when they’re popped safely into these DIY candy holders, decorated to look like funny monsters.

Upcycled Halloween Crafts
4. Jack-o-Lantern string artDon’t let string art be a forgotten hobby–it’s super fun!

5. Monster headbandMaybe you’re more into a low-key Halloween costume, and I get that. In such cases, might I recommend the simple, upcycled monster headband?

DIY Monster Headband

6. Flashlight projectorMake trick-or-treating even spookier with these DIY filters to make Halloween-themed flashlight projections.

7. Ghost tasselsThis is a terrific way to use up stash yarn, and bonus–you’ll learn how to make tassels!

8. Milk jug skullsThese skulls are a LOT of work, but they look amazing, AND they’re made from plastic milk jugs!

9. Recycled jar mummyLooking for some Halloween decorations that are a tad spooky but won’t scare the snot out of your kids? It’s the recycled jar mummy to the rescue! For even more fun, turn it into a candle holder!

10. Halloween cootie catchersNeed a quick craft for a children’s Halloween party? Try making Halloween cootie catchers!

11. Mason jar luminaryYou can also use spaghetti or jelly jars for this craft.

12. Magazine collage Jack-o-LanternThis is a great way to use up those catalogs that you’re somehow still getting in the mail, grr.

13. DIY chalkboard maskNot sure what you want to be for Halloween? Be something different every time with this handmade chalkboard mask!

DIY Halloween Decorations: Chalkboard Mask

14. Halloween-themed pallets. There are SO many ways to decorate pallets for Halloween.

15. Scrap yarn pumpkinsOrange scrap yarn can be hard to find a use for… unless it’s Halloween!

16. Upcycled thrift store Halloween figuresHit up your local thrift store for tacky figurines, and transform them into the stuff of nightmares.

17. FrankenbottleIt’s a chilly, rainy, miserable day outside today. Wouldn’t it be nice to stay snuggled up inside, raid the recycling bin, and make some fun Halloween decorations?

Halloween Crafts from Recycled Materials: DIY Halloween Decorations: Frankenstein Bottle

18. Faux taxidermyMy kids have grown out of playing with their billions of plastic toy animals, but they still don’t want them gone. I wonder if they’d mind if I turned them into taxidermy?

19. Spaghetti wormsRemember that old game where you’re blindfolded and have to reach into a bowl of worms? Yeah, there’s a whole new generation that needs to be freaked out by that one…

20. Pillowcase ghost dressWhite pillowcases are a dime a dozen (literally!) at many thrift shops, and they’re perfect for making pillowcase dresses embellished to look like ghosties.

21. Upcycled tin lanternsJust as fun to carve as pumpkins, and yet way less messy, these tin can lanterns are a great way to light the path for trick-or-treaters.

DIY Halloween Decorations: Boo Lanterns

22. Cereal box tombstoneUpcycle a cereal box into a creepy tombstone.

23. Head in a jarThis is my favorite kind of Halloween craft because when you’re done, all you have to do is pour out the water, toss the photo (or save it until next year), and put your big jar back into service!

24. Book page and bat Halloween buntingI LOVE to craft with old book pages, and their black-and-white beauty is especially suited to Halloween crafting.

25. Porch scarecrowKick your Halloween decorations old-school with your very own porch scarecrow. For bonus points, stuff it with fallen leaves from your yard!

Halloween Crafts from Recycled Materials: DIY Halloween Decorations: Drunken Farmer

26.Dryer lint funeral mossThis is so weird and gross, but dryer lint DOES make great moss for decorating fake tombstones, so there you go…

27. Scrapbook paper pumpkin garlandHave too much stash scrapbook paper? Give it a new life in this fun and festive pumpkin garland.

28. Upcycled Halloween village luminariesPut all of your old spaghetti jars into service to make this spookily beautiful Halloween village.

29. Paper luminary coversYou can turn any tealight into a Halloween luminary just be adding a perforated paper cover.

30. Decoupaged Halloween blocksRemember how much I love to decoupage blocks? Here’s a great method for adding some Halloween theming to them.

31. Spinning cardboard ghosts.  Use cardstock to make this easy and fun Halloween spinning ghost, then hang it up in a drafty corner.

32. Witch’s broomAren’t you happy that you haven’t cut your grass all summer?

Do YOU have a favorite eco-friendly Halloween craft? Share it with me in the Comments below!


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13 Ways to Upcycle Eyeglass Cases

13 Ways to Upcycle Eyeglass Cases

It’s easy to donate your old eyeglasses, but what about the cases?

The donation facility likely doesn’t want them. You got a new one with your new eyeglasses, so YOU don’t need them. They’re probably not recyclable and probably made of plastic, so your choices are to toss your old eyeglass case into the waste stream or to upcycle it into something new.

I think you know which of those choices *I* think you should pick!

To make it easier on you, check out this list of awesome ways to upcycle eyeglass cases. Find a project to excite and inspire you, and you’ll be happy to keep your eyeglass case out of the waste stream and make a new, useful second life for it:

sunglasses and case

How will you reuse your eyeglasses case? Kamil Kaczor / Flickr (Creative Commons)

1. Travel sewing kitAn old eyeglass case makes for a super handy travel sewing kit. Keep one in every car, the bag you carry around each day, and the guest bathroom, and you’ll never be unprepared for a sewing emergency. A good travel sewing kit should have a couple of needles, both black and white thread, a couple of buttons, and thread scissors.

2. Travel first aid kitEyeglass cases are great for these types of kits because they’re just the right size. You’ll have no problem fitting some band-aids, antibacterial wipes, tweezers, and a couple of Tylenol and allergy pills into this take-anywhere travel first-aid kit.

3. ClutchFor those times when all you need to carry is your ID, a credit card, and maybe some chapstick, check out this beautifully upcycled eyeglass case clutch. It’s the perfect size to fit easily on one hand, and if you embellish the snot out of it, nobody would even guess that it used to hold your sunglasses!

4. Animal clutchYou’ll need a hard-shell eyeglass case for this project, but when you’re done, you’ll have a great, kid-friendly holder for all sorts of kid treasures.


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Eyeglass case animal clutch diy on the new Make Your Mark on YouTube! #cutest #lastminutegift #kidspurse

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5. Embellish it! Of course, you don’t need a billion eyeglass cases. But perhaps you DO need a couple–one plain one for everyday, and one very, very beautiful one for special occasions. Consider blinging a plain eyeglass case and turning it into the one that you use for special times. It’s nice to have something that doesn’t look like it’s a dime a dozen, and if you know that you’ve got it on hand, then it’s easy to remember to say no to the free eyeglasses case that comes with your next pair of glasses.

6. Jewelry holderAn eyeglass case is a great choice to carry your jewelry when you travel.

8. iPod storageYou’d have to have some pretty big glasses in order to fit one of those fancy-schmancy iPods, but my iPod nano and earbuds would fit perfectly into this made-over iPod storage case.


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Cute way to reuse your eyeglass cases and contact cases. #organization #reuse #eyeglasscase #eyeglasscases #contacts #diy

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8. Manicure kitDo you spend time waiting in the car? Sometimes I feel like I spend MOST of my time waiting in the car! With this DIY manicure kit upcycled from an eyeglass case, you can use that wait time to pretty up your fingernails. There’s plenty of room to hold your favorite nail polish, clear coat, nail trimmers, and a nail file. Add a dotting tool or some glitter polish, and you can use those spare minutes to turn your basic manicure into something fun and fancy!

9. Snack holderDon’t you hate it when your snack bar gets mashed inside your backpack? I have eaten more flat Lara Bars than I can name, and I promise you that they do not taste as good when they’re squished! Save yourself the misery and store your snacks in a hard-shell eyeglass case. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, decoupage old snack bar wrappers onto the outside of the case so that you always know where your nummies are!

10. Mini tool kitThe case used in this project is a zippered sunglasses case. The attached hanging loop lets you add on even more important tools!

11. Altered artTurn your eyeglass case into a piece of art! Here’s another piece of altered eyeglass case art, complete with tutorial. The sky is the limit with these–turn them into shadow boxes, dream catchers, miniature altars, or treasure boxes.

12. Altered eyeglass case boxDid you know that even the packaging that a pair of eyeglasses comes in has its own packaging? Grr! Here’s a fun idea for upcycling the box that a pair of eyeglasses in their case comes in.

13. Train set in an eyeglass caseThis is more inspiration piece than project tutorial, but it’s detailed enough that it should give you a clear idea about how to go about transforming your eyeglass case into an adorable teeny train set. If you’re feeling even more motivated, there’s an intricately-detailed eyeglass case train diorama here. Who knew that this was a thing?!?

Do you have an awesome way to re-use your eyeglass cases? Tell me all about it in the Comments below!


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The Cure for a Blank Canvas: How to Get Creative with Adobe Stock Illustrations

The Cure for a Blank Canvas: How to Get Creative with Adobe Stock Illustrations

Staring at a blank canvas is one of the hardest parts of beginning a new project. Whether you need inspiration or a ready-made solution—Adobe Stock makes the fear of a blank canvas disappear with a single click.

Adobe Stock offers thousands of possibilities in a matter of seconds, whether you’re searching for photos, vector illustrations, video, templates, or 3D renderings. Adobe even goes as far as to provide you with navigation options, online at AdobeStock, or within Adobe Applications like Illustrator, where you can search and license assets from right within the Libraries Panel (Window>Libraries).

Design Assets

Design assets are the unique artistic components that come together to support your project. These could be anything from watercolor bees to abstract shapes and patterns.  As designers, we’re in constant need of assets to bring a project to life and unless you have the time to complete them all from scratch Adobe Stock will serve as a useful asset.

Learn how to navigate the Adobe Stock platform and use Adobe Illustrator to quickly and easily customize stock vector files for your projects.

Let’s say you’re working on a project and you’ve chosen a watercolor theme—but you’re not a painter. From the ‘Libraries’ panel in Illustrator, you can simply type “Watercolor” into the search bar to instantly find ideas and assets to make your project a reality. To narrow down the results to vectors specifically, expand the option next to “Results from Adobe Stock” and click to select ‘Vectors.’

The best part is that when you find something you love but it doesn’t quite fit your project (wrong color, etc.) — you can easily change it in Illustrator, customizing it exactly as you see fit.

You can get specific with your search, too. Let’s say your watercolor project is about bees. If you type “watercolor bee” into the search bar, you will find that someone has already created a variety of watercolor bees for you to choose from. How cool is that?

If you’re having a hard time deciding which file(s) you want to license, it’s easy to drag a free comp into your document to use for placement and testing. (The comp is a low-res JPEG, so while you won’t be able to edit it as a vector until you actually license the file, it’s still very helpful for composition and layout.)

A Creative Jump Start

In addition to simple assets like watercolor design elements, you can find entire concepts ready to use (and customize) in whatever ways you need.

Learn how to navigate the Adobe Stock platform and use Adobe Illustrator to quickly and easily customize stock vector files for your projects.

In my course, we’ll be using a collection of Paris themed assets from a single file to build a menu for a restaurant. We’ll juggle around the different design elements, changing their size and in some cases, their color. In this way, the original design is repurposed for a specific design need. This is a  simple way to incorporate design elements in your project even if your illustration skills are below average.

All-in-One Solutions

Looking for a ready-made wedding invitation? A simple search for “wedding invitation” brings up a number of different templates, each one ready to print with just a simple edit to the specific details. Simply license an invitation file, swap out  the information for your own, and print!

Become a Contributor

“Who? Me?!” You ask. Yes, you! Even if you don’t know a stroke from a fill, or a vector from a pile of pixels, I’ll show you how easy it is to create a simple, seamless pattern and how to upload to Adobe Stock—which could actually earn you real money.

Learn how to navigate the Adobe Stock platform and use Adobe Illustrator to quickly and easily customize stock vector files for your projects.

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