Make Your Own: Popcorn Balls, Knife Holder, Textured Paint

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Make a knife holder from old wooden spools.
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Decorate your Christmas tree with popcorn balls.
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It's easy to make textured paint with cornmeal.

Here are a few more of THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS® syndicated features which have appeared in 100+ newspapers over the past three and a half years.

Make Edible Christmas Ornaments

Christmas always seems more festive when you have a few handcrafted popcorn balls to hang on the tree . . . especially if a certain number of the candied delights contain a little “something extra” hidden away inside.

Pop a half-cup of kernels (they’ll fill a big bowl or medium-size roaster after they’ve split open) and–while the fluffy corn is cooling–place one-half cup of light corn syrup, one-half cup sugar and one-half teaspoon salt in a saucepan.

Cook the mixture over medium heat until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved, then add a few drops of red (or any color you prefer) food coloring and one-half teaspoon of lemon extract. Stir until the flavoring and color are well-spread throughout the gooey concoction and then pour the sticky mixture over the bowlful of popcorn. Stir again, until every snowy piece of corn is coated.

Finally, with buttered hands, form the coated popcorn into “edible ornaments” . . . making sure that a few of the decorations contain a small surprise, wax-paper-wrapped toy or other favor.

Make a Wooden Spool Knife Holder

Years ago, some unknown backwoods farmer inserted a nail through an empty spool and then drove the spike into his outhouse door to make an improvised handle. Ever since, folks have been recycling these wooden castaways from the sewing basket into useful articles . . . and one of the slickest of all the use-’em-again ideas for spools is shown here.

Fasten a row of the discarded thread holders–jammed shoulder to shoulder–inside a kitchen cabinet door and–presto!–you’ve got yourself an instant knife holder. The handles of the cutting tools will rest on the spools while the implements’ blades fit through the gaps between each set of the wooden rollers. It’s a perfect marriage and, once you try it, you’re going to be dang proud of yourself for thinking of the idea in the first place.

Attach the spools to the cabinet door with both screws (through each roller’s center) and glue (on the base of the discarded thread holders) for safety. You may also want to run a second full or partial row of spools under the first as added security for your butcher and other extra-long knives. A coat of varnish, shellac or paint that matches the inside of the cabinet finishes the project.

Make Your Own Textured Paint

The outdoor activities of summer will soon be only a pleasant memory and–before long–we’ll all start spending more and more time inside. Which means that–just to make the long winter’s confinement as pleasant as possible–this is a very good time to give the interior of your home a final sprucing up.

One of the quickest, easiest and most attractive ways to rejuvenate dirty walls and cracked plaster is with a good coat of textured paint. But the “real stuff” is expensive. You can make a very satisfactory and low-cost substitute, however, by adding two cups of white cornmeal to each gallon of latex paint that you use.

Keep the paint stirred in the can (to distribute the “grain” more evenly) and apply the textured coating with an ordinary brush. Then, once the 3-D paint is on the wall, go back over it and “swirl” the texture as you see fit.

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