Make Something Monday Part 1: Phonebook Wrapping Paper

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Happy Green Monday! To be honest, I didn’t really even know that was a thing until this morning – and I guess its just a…second cyber Monday? Hm-kay. Well, we’re celebrating “Green Monday” AND our usual Make Something Monday with TWO, count ’em TWO simple and lover-ly holiday projects that will leave you with the cutest darn eco-friendly gifts you ever did see. So if you by chance are not standing in a line somewhere waiting to see Star Wars tonight, grab your kiddos and make these with us!

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Tonight I’m finishing up  2 projects – one is a wrap and one is a gift, and they go sooooo well together!

While cleaning out the kitchen recently, I ran across a stack (not just one) of old phonebooks – the bane of my existence. Low on brown paper, and needing to get some gifts out the door, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and turn those lame old doorstops into something cool and useful. I loved the pattern the print on the phonebook pages made and using bright colors turned something dull into something bright and cheery!

Phonebook Wrapping Paper


THIS is SO EASY. And SUCH a good project for kids and SUCH a good way to repurpose an old around-the-house item.

Here’s what you’ll need:


  • An old phonebook (or even just pages you never use…the X’s?)
  • Paints (I used old samples of exterior paint – this actually worked way better than I thought it would! Any old paint that isn’t TOO water soluble will do though)
  • Paintbrush or stamping tool or even just little fingers!

So this isn’t a project that really requires any instruction, just have fun painting! I’ll share a couple quick tips though…

Although you can’t see through the paper once its on a package (which is kind of amazing) it takes just the slightest breeze to blow it around while you’re working on it. For kids especially, a little painter’s tape or some paperweights at the edges while  working and drying is a great idea. I paint on the back of old cookie sheets because they’re super easy to clean off. This also makes it easier to move them if I need to do that for drying. Also, leave PLENTY of time for that – there’s nothing worse than getting wet paint on a new gift. (*shudder!*) After they’ve dried completely, flatten out any crinkles by letting them sit underneath a few heavy books for about 20 minutes – the paint I used didn’t stick, but you may want to put some wax paper between pages when you do this depending on the paint). Use as is, or tape a bunch together for larger-sized gifts.

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VOILA – super fun upcycled custom gift wrap! And the phone company generously supplies you with a gazillion pages! 🙂  I like to “garnish” with some green clippings and twigs from the yard and twine – super simple and super cute.

Sit tight for Part 2, coming tonight: ADORBS mini crocus and paperwhite garden gifts!

Make Something Monday: Festive Felt Garland

Monday, November 30th, 2015

For all of you still celebrating a little break from over-excertion, we have the PERFECT weeknight activity to do with your kiddos. It takes only 3 supplies and 2 steps and in about 20 minutes (less with more helping hands) you’ll have a very fun, tres chic holiday decoration you can put just about anywhere and reuse the whole year round!

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How cute is that felt garland?? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • About 12 pieces of felt
  • Twine or yarn
  • Scissors

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  1. Cut each 8 1/2 x 11″ piece of felt in half length-wise, then cut every 1/2″-1″ to make about 20 rectangles from each piece of felt
  2. Knot each rectangle around a length of twine or yarn (I’d keep it on a big ball until you’ve used all your pieces, then cut at the end).

BOOM. That’s it!

Every part of this project is kid-friendly (except for maybe the cutting depending on age, because you’ll need some sharper scissors).  Its super fun for kids who want to pick their own colors and patterns, and is great practice for cutting, tying and pattern-planning. Best part: this garland can be reused for any special occasion! Happy garlanding!

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Printable Play: Winter Forest

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

YAY! Our very first free printable is here – just in time for holiday play!

Thor’s winter forest – inspired by one of our very own (extremely drool-y) team members.

(Hint: he’s the one with the festive antlers…)

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Print it out and play away! (Please excuse the fuzzy pics – technical difficulties – we will be updating the imagery on this post as soon as we can!)


Download the files here: Printable Play: Winter Forest Set

There are 3 documents in the zip file – a PDF of the printable with animals and trees, a PDF with the background mountains, and a text document with our terms of use (*please read!*)

The PDF printable of the animals and trees has 2 pages – print page 1, then print page 2 on the REVERSE. Just a note, you don’t have to print on both sides (especially if you’re using this for any of the remixed ideas below). I printed this on a super-thick cardstock to make it a little more durable, but you might want to print out a quick draft first to double-check how your printer handles the reverse printing.

These are not mean to be perfect, so don’t break a sweat over cutting perfectly. As a general rule, the trees and mountains are GREAT practice for little hands still learning how to cut – the animals may take a bit more patience and are better suited for adult skilllzz.

If you have any questions or issues please leave it in the comment section below – I’ll get back to ya!

Here are some remixed ideas – the deep cuts of paper playing…

  • Mod Podge onto some big plain wooden blocks  (perfect for smaller hands that play less gently)
  • Print out some superfun temporary tattoos (using something like this)
  • Make a magnet set (using something like this)
  • Stickers! (using something like this)
  • Frame a winter scene with your own backdrop in a shadow-box

*For all of the above options just remember you only need to print 1 side – Page 1 only!*

And let’s just break here for a second to interject some planet-saving-ness (our word…probably not a real one) – did you know there are companies that sell eco-friendly, soy-based ink for your home printers??? OH YES. Yes, there are. A couple examples: Inkpal or Tonergreen – they’re not available for every single printer, but I was actually pretty impressed with their array.

We would love love LOOOVVE to see how you guys are playing with these – so snap some pics and send them our way! If you’re on instagram you can tag us (@barleyandbirch) or use the hashtag #barleyandbirch – and want to take our original creation to the next level? You are welcome to get as creative as you want and share away! Our only request is that if you repost somewhere – could you please include a shout-out back to us with the original link to this post instead of a direct link to the files? We would so appreciate it!

Alright paper warriors – play on!

Make Something Monday: Cardboard Castles!

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Holy cardboard castles in the sky. By picture alone, is anyone else wishing they were of an acceptable age to abandon everything, drop to castle-level and immerse yourself in this for an entire afternoon? First of all – you are always of an acceptable age. Second – believe it or not, this is cardboard and masking tape. It IS!!!! It really is – and for all of you (me included) who have felt a pang of sympathy every time you see a well-intentioned Pinterest fail – this actually works out JUST as you think it will – there is a template, and thanks to Marilee’s pics, a lot of inspiration and direction beyond that.


SO – here’s what it requires:

  • Sturdy cardboard (Marrilee used 10″x10″ pieces – so 20″ all together)
  • A Cutting Tool (good pair of scissors or X-acto knife)
  • Colored Tape (Marrilee used Duct Tape)




Find the full instructions + a template here at the very amazing (and visually scrumptious) Mer Mag site  – such creativity!

And for a totally different take on how to decorate your mini-mideval fortress, take a look at the illustrator Rob Dunlavey’s Crystal City Sculpture – if tape isn’t your thing, just draw or paint right on the cardboard. Oh MONDAY, so much to have fun with, so little time!

*Pro tip: we’ll be posting our own b&b original printable this week and it goes sooooo well with castles. Just sayin’ (check back tomorrow – we’ll also add the link in this article)! *

– love, Amanda (long-time friend of b&b’s, now permanently behind the scenes! Hi everyone!)

Ridiculously easy way to make your house smell like Christmas!

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

We LOVE the spiced smell of Christmas. What’s better? Here’s a ridiculously easy way to bring that wonderful smell to your home for the holidays!

cool company: fat and the moon

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

wow wow wow. we LOVE it when we come across a cool new company and we are DROOLING over the awesome products at Fat and the Moon.

Fat and the Moon makes all natural, veggie-based, healthy beauty products with the obsession-over-ingredients of a witch doctor.

Based out of Oakland, they are stocked in a bunch of Bay Area stores but we found them on Etsy!

We can’t wait to try them out.

Tasty Tuesday: Applesauce Bites

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

We saw this post on Mom-dot-com  and were amazed at how clever it was! Trisha simply poured little dots of applesauce onto a wax-paper covered cookie sheet and placed it in the freezer overnight… AND NOW HER TODDLER (who isn’t that great with a spoon) CAN ENJOY APPLESAUCE AS A FINGER FOOD!

Genius, right?

You can do it with yogurt too!

We’d write some more, but now we’re going to see what fruit and yogurt combinations we can throw through the blender and into the freezer for snacking during all-night work sessions.

Make Something Monday: No Sew Beaded Tutu Bedskirt

Monday, March 18th, 2013


We saw this tutorial written by Beth of Free Stylin’ and HAD to share it.  It’s such an easy, cheap way to make your little princess/dancer/mermaid(think blues!)/fairy’s room super cool and special.



What You’ll Need:

  • A ton of tulle fabric
  • A fitted sheet
  • Beads (optional)
  • A hot glue gun OR a needle & thread (to go with optional beads)
  •  A ruler
  • A pencil
  • Scissors

Directions are HERE.

still obsessed: jen loves kev

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

We know we’ve mentioned it here before, but we have been digging the recent posts on Jen Loves Kev so very much lately. If you haven’t been over lately, you should.

We love Jen and her writing continues to inspire us all on a lot of levels.

Happy Saturday!

“the scared is scared of all the things you like”

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

This video is darling. If you are in a grumpy or grouchy mood, it will pick you right up. Kids are amazing. Major thanks to our friend Amanda for sharing.

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.