Global Goods: The Baba Tree Basket Company

Sometimes a photo on Instagram stops me in my scrolling tracks. Does that happen to you too? What stopped me? These smiles! And these baskets!

Baba Tree Basket Company

Baba Tree Basket from Ghana

Baba Tree Basket Artisan

This is the joy! The joy of making things and sharing them with the world. I love the happy colors of their baskets. Here are details of the baskets, all photos from the Baba Tree Baskets Instagram (follow, follow now!):

Baba Tree Basket Company Details

You can find the basket that sings to your own heart, and buy it at their shop online. (go, go now!)

They’re made in Ghana from dyed grasses and reeds. I really like that you can see the artisan who made your basket with such pride, and know his or her name.

So far, I’ve shown you really colorful baskets. They also make beautiful neutral color baskets:

Baba Tree Neutral Color Baskets

I ordered a few orange and green baskets for our living room. Here’s one of them:

Baba Tree Basket Nomadic Decorator

True to my global style, this Baba Tree Basket from Ghana usually holds an alpaca Peruvian blanket we use on the sofa. The basket is in front of a rice god from northern Thailand, which is draped with a huge clay Mexican rosary I found in Old Town San Diego many years ago. My husband said, why did you put a cross on a rice god? (Which I think is either/both Buddhist or Hindu, I’m not sure.) I said that especially in today’s times, we need to mix with people from everywhere, with all backgrounds and all beliefs, all over the world.

Baba Tree Artisan

The baskets are very lightweight. I’m considering getting a big zig zag basket for our apartment in India. Something like this huge Jemima 10 Cows basket:

Baba Tree Website

The baskets are “smoosh-able” so I could fit it in a suitcase. Baba Tree sends instructions to you to put water on the basket and reshape it after shipping, so it retains its original shape.

See, this is how a Baba Tree zig zag basket would fit with all the patterns in our Chennai apartment — yes I have all these pillows and they’re going to India in a suitcase on the next trip!

India Apartment Decor Moodboard

Baba Tree artisans make baskets of all sizes, from small ones that fit in the palms of your hands, to baskets large enough to hold loads of laundry. Some are for storage, some are for display. They make baskets of all colors. Their handcrafted bicycle baskets and baby baskets are so cute. Their small baskets would be great gifts with things tucked in them like creative foods or small clothing accessories.

The Baba Tree Basket Company occasionally runs 20% off sales. Follow them on Instagram to get sale notices.

I should note, this is not a sponsored post. I just loved their Instagram, and I love the baskets I purchased – I thought I’d share to spread the joy of these basketweavers!

 

DIY Glittery Christmas Tree Ornaments That Don’t Make A Mess!

I’m a huge Scrooge when it comes to glitter. Glitter is banned from my house. Yeah, even at Christmastime. All violators must eat fruitcake. Why? Because while glitter brings a festive spirit to a Christmas tree, it also puts the festive spirit in your hair, carpet, furniture, everywhere.

But now, I can put the festive spirit only where it belongs – on the Christmas tree! The solution? Glitter scrapbook paper. The glitter DOES NOT COME OFF. The glitter stays stuck on the paper, not on your hands! Yay! So, today I’ll show you how to make no-mess glittery Christmas tree ornaments.

DIY No Mess Glitter Ornaments

Project SUPPLIES

  • Glitter scrapbook paper
  • Flat ornaments
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Aleene’s Tacky Glue
  • Foam brush

OPTIONAL stenciling (DIY tutorial shared in part 2 of this post):

  • Stencil
  • Stencil brush
  • Paint

How to Find Glitter Scrapbook Paper

First, look for glittery scrapbook paper in craft stores like Michaels, JoAnn and Hobby Lobby. You can find single pieces of glitter paper, and you can buy books full of glitter paper. Most craft stores have aisles for scrapbooking supplies, and you will find these papers and books there. Here are some of my papers:

Glitter Scrapbook Paper Book

Glitter paper can cost a bit more. The regular price of single sheets at JoAnn and Michaels is $1.99, but you can buy scrapbook paper on sale or use a coupon. All craft stores will email coupons to you. And you can use iPhone and Android apps to pull up a coupon on your phone. So any time you want to buy, you should get 40 to 60% off. The price of books of papers is usually $19, but use a half off coupon or buy during a frequent half off sale, and for $9-10 you get a whole big pack of papers. Look at all the papers in this pack:

I’m sorry. I’m one of those people who forgets to hold the phone horizontal for videos!

Scrapbook paper makes affordable ornaments. You can make many ornaments with a single piece of paper:

One Scrapbook Paper Many Christmas Tree Ornaments

I used copper color glitter papers for today’s project, but glitter paper comes in many colors.

How to Find Ornaments with Flat Surfaces

You also need ornaments with flat surfaces, like the ones shown above. You can use paper mache, ceramic, wood or chipboard. You can buy these ornament shapes at Michaels, JoAnn and Hobby Lobby. Again, buy during their frequent sales and use coupons.

Also, search paper mache and unfinished wood Christmas ornaments on eBay and Etsy, under their craft supplies categories. I found there are a lot more choices of unfinished wood ornaments than paper mache.

HOW TO MakE the Ornaments

This is so super easy and fast!

Step 1. Paint the edge of your ornament with a color to match or contrast with the glitter paper color. I’m using copper papers today, so I painted the edges of my ornaments with metallic copper/bronze paint:

Painted Edges

Step 2. Trace an ornament on the scrapbook paper. If your paper has a pattern on it, you might want to center the ornament over the pattern. I usually draw cutting lines on the back of the paper.

Tracing Ornament on Paper

Cut Paper Shapes

Step 3. Cut the shape. Cut just barely inside your tracing line. Because your tracing lane will be slightly larger than your ornament.

Glitter Paper on Ornament

Step 4. With a foam brush, spread Aleene’s Tacky Glue over your ornament. You can use Mod Podge or other glues. I like how Aleene’s Tacky Glue is thicker and tackier, and less likely to wrinkle the paper.

Glue Paper

Glue Paper 2

Step 5. Smooth your paper onto the ornament. Press with your fingers from the inside out, to be sure all the paper adheres to the ornament. Pay extra attention to the edges. Sometimes you will need to press down on an edge for a few extra moments to be sure it adheres.

If any glue oozes out the sides, wipe it away with paper towel. Be careful to not get glue on the glitter paper, because it might make dull spots.

Glitter Christmas Tree Ornament

Now repeat the steps above to apply paper to the other side of the ornament. You can use the same paper, or a different paper, so you can flip the ornament around for a different look.

If any paper is sticking out beyond the edge of the ornament, you can cut it with scissors, or lay the ornament on a hard protected surface and slice the extra paper off with an Xacto knife.

TIP: WORK ASSEMBLY LINE STYLE FOR FAST DIY

Set up an assembly line so you do all the tracing, then all the cutting, then all the gluing, then all the paper-applying. You’ll make many ornaments, fast.

That’s it! You have made a no-mess glittery ornament!

No Mess Glitter Christmas Tree Ornaments

Now have fun decorating and enjoying the holidays, not cleaning up glitter!

OPTIONAL: ADD PAINTED STENCILS

The glittery ornaments are pretty just like this. The Christmas tree lights will bounce off of the ornaments, and make them sparkle. But if you want to add something more, how about painting stencils on the glitter paper? Come back for Part 2 of this tutorial, where I’ll show an optional step … adding stencil patterns with paint!

 

 

How to Give Great Gifts that Also Give Back

Some people are natural born gift-givers. They seem to read deep into minds and hearts. They know what you love when you don’t even know it yourself. And they make this seem so effortless.

I envy those people. I’m not one of those people. But I do know a great gift idea when it’s shown to me. So it’s around this time of year that I start desperately visiting websites to get inspiration for gifts. That’s why when UncommonGoods contacted me, it’s like they read my mind and heart, as the good gift purveyors that they are. I turn to them to solve my holiday gift-giving problems, and maybe they can solve yours too.

Giving gifts doesn’t have to be hard or stressful. Here are four simple ways to find a great gift. Look for a gift that captures one or more of the following elements. I share a few examples for each gift-giving concept.

⇒ Uncommon and Unique

Seek an idea that’s not available at stores a mile away from home. Instead of a commodity everyone has seen before, choose the surprising twist.

Mini Desktop Bowling AlleyAmpersand Cheese and Crackers Board

Why not a little desktop bowling alley, for when the mind needs a break? The surprising twist here is, it’s a common thing made very small and put in an unusual place.

As another twist, the ampersand added to the common wood cheeseboard is creative. Use it for wine & cheese, cheese & crackers. The ampersand makes sense because who fills a whole board with just one thing? It’s always something & something else. This also has practical applications. See how the crackers are propped up nicely in the grooves. The design helps make an easy, attractive display.

⇒ Things That Make You Laugh

Life can get heavy and serious enough. So every home and office should have light things that make you laugh, right? Here are examples of fun decor gift ideas:

Whatever ClockDJ Scratching Pad

Do you know anyone who has given up trying to be on time? This clock is for them. Or, the rebellious (and maybe smart?) people who think the super-busy world around us is crazy.

If you know anyone who likes music and has a cat, this gift hits the jackpot. It gives a new name to scratching some beats. As a decor blogger with nice furniture and two cats, I can tell you, my cats are not declawed and there’s no need to do that. They have cute scratching pads around the house, and they were trained to scratch on those, not furniture. We all live happily together with furniture intact. So this is a gift for people and their pets.

⇒ Sentimental Memories

At any age, people have memories of the past. Just, some of us have more past than others.

Another sentimental angle is gifts that help build closer relationships among family.

80x Mix Tape DoormatMother Daughter Book Letter Set

Anyone who grew up in the 80’s knows what a “mixtape” is. Even Millennials are appreciating the nostalgia of these playlists on actual physical tape. Yes, us old folks, the Boomers and Gen X’ers, we invented the original playlists. And the hand-written mixtape label can be personalized; choose what you want it to say. It’s sold as a mixtape doormat, but it could be cool wall art too.

Another great idea is gifts like the Mother & Daughter Letter Book Set that help build written memories and stories among family – a memento that’s more beautiful, substantive and enduring than text messages.

⇒ Favorite Food

When all other ideas fail you, go for food. Find something related to your intended’s favorite food. Mix in an uncommon, unique or funny element about food. You can’t go wrong.

http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/know-your-knives-cutting-boardDIY Hot Sauce Kit

This cutting board with the “Cliff’s Notes for Knives” is interesting. We have a knife block with a bunch of knives, but I never give much thought that each knife is designed to do a specific job. This cheat sheet on a cutting board will help keep things straight.

UncommonGoods has many DIY food kits, but this caught my eye because with hot sauce, doesn’t it seem like the sauce is either too mild, too hot, rarely just right? Well, make the sauce just the way you like it!

Doing Good with Gifts

Now that we’ve learned how to find great gifts, I’ll raise the bar a little higher. It’s a big bonus when the gift also does good for people or the planet – when the purchase helps support a worthy cause.

To be honest, it’s not lost on me that I blog here about decorating homes, when so many on this planet can only hope to have a home again. Conflicts and severe weather around the world have left millions of people seeking new homes, and even seeking the most basic dignity and safety as they live in transition not knowing their next steps. I’m also an animal lover and I follow the organizations that save orangutans affected by deforestation in Indonesia. The fuzzy orphaned babies, they’re so cute in little diapers, but really they shouldn’t be wearing diapers and they shouldn’t have to be on Facebook. They should be clinging on their moms, learning how to live in the trees. But the safe forest isn’t there. So when I can support organizations working to do good through the gifts I choose to buy, I will make that choice every time.

UncommonGoods has a program that does this. For every purchase, they donate to a partner in their Better to Give program. Through UncommonGoods purchases, you can support a variety of causes: help for refugees, programs for sexual violence survivors, restoring forests on our planet, and literacy and education for children.

International Rescue Committee

Here’s how it works: when you shop, pick a non-profit, and a $1 donation will be made with every purchase. As part of sharing the Better to Give program with you here today, UncommonGoods has donated $50 on my behalf to the International Rescue Committee. The news about refugees and humanitarian crises in the U.S. and abroad has been on my mind a lot this year.

Beyond the social cause donations, as an avid DIY’er myself, I also appreciate how UncommonGoods sells products made by individual makers, artisans, cooperatives in the U.S. and other countries. They support the pride and talents of individual people who make products with their hands.

So, when you’re perusing websites or wandering aisles, searching for the perfect gifts, choose what fits one or more of these:

How to Give Great Gifts


This post was sponsored by UncommonGoods. I own a wall shelf purchased from their catalog many years ago, and yes it’s an uncommon and unique wall shelf, and people always noticed and commented about it. So the company lives up to its name!