Charity Giraffe Stuffed Toy

I find that crafting for charity is very rewarding, as I can enjoy the creative process as well as the idea that the item I’m making will go on to bless and encourage someone in need. It also provides me with a constant creative outlet without having to save every single item that I craft. (The struggle is real)

Finding a solid local non-profit to support is wonderful because of the chance it gives you to have a relationship with the people you are helping, and to become involved  in your own community in other ways as time goes on. I’ve been crafting for a wonderful non-profit called Step By Step that supports mothers and babies in need in my immediate local area.

I also like the idea that each item I create with love, care, and prayer will go directly into the hands of a mother or child in my community. I may never know the full effects of this, but to me it makes it all much more personal than sending it off somewhere.

Recently the leaders of Step By Step reached out to request more of my fabric stuffed toys to sell at a Mother’s Day fundraiser event coming up, so I thought I’d include you in my process and share my simple sewing pattern with you.

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I like to use colorful vintage fabrics or fabric scraps left over from other projects and salvaged clothing items that my family no longer uses, because I think it adds character and makes each item more unique. Many of the fabric scraps I’m using today are from my grandmother’s fabric collection which has sentimental value for me. Plus it’s free!

I drew up the pattern for these toys myself, and I’m making it available to you for free as a printout in case you want to make any of your own for your kids, for charity, or for gifts. (I do kindly ask that you refrain from selling my pattern or items made with it, as it’s my original work and I want it to be given freely)

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Directions

First you will want to print out the pattern in the desired size (my giraffes are about 6 inches tall) and cut out the pattern.

Then choose your fabric and fold and pin it into two layers with the right sides facing each other. Using the paper giraffe pattern, trace the shape onto the fabric and cut it out carefully, cutting through both layers of fabric.

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Make sure both layers are pinned securely together, then sew around the outer edge of the giraffe , leaving an opening of an inch to an inch and a half for the stuffing.

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Turn the giraffe right side out and add the stuffing or polyfill through the opening in the back. Be careful to make sure it gets into the ears, head, and legs and adjust the amount of stuffing to desired firmness or softness.

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Once you have it the way you want it, stitch up the little opening in the back by hand in a coordinating thread color as shown.

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…And repeat as desired!

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Click here to download and print the pattern for your own use

What is your favorite local charity or non-profit in your area? Comment below and let me know why!

Dying Faded Jeans

I hate it when my jeans get all faded out before they really need to be replaced. I prefer that super dark, super crisp, clean look you get with a new pair of jeans. I wear my jeans to work and they get dirty, so I end up washing them nearly every time or every other time I wear them, which means they fade out super quickly.

I am trying to be more conscious of where I spend my money and who I am supporting with the purchases I make, and jeans from a good quality, ethically made, fairly traded company can be really expensive.

However, the very best way to reduce, reuse, and recycle is to keep what I already have and make into something I love again! So instead of just buying new jeans, this time I decided to dye them.

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The ones on the left were originally a bright aqua color. The other two weren’t TOO much darker than they are now, but they have weird faded out bits around the pockets, waist bands, cuffs, and especially the knees. I hate it when the knees get all whiteish and worn looking.

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Faded knees. Ick.

So I picked up a few bottles of Rit dye at the grocery store, which was actually super cheap. The bottles were $3 each and the box was $1.50.

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I’ve never dyed anything before, so I was kind of nervous. It sounds hard to do and potentially could make a huge mess.

But I have to say, it was a lot easier than I was expecting. The most important things to note were that (A) I wore rubber gloves and (B) I read and followed the instructions, which is something I skip occasionally. Not this time!

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These are the colors I decided to use on each pair of jeans.

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I decided to use the “bucket method” of dying, because that’s what was recommended for a single item like a pair of jeans. I let the the first two pairs sit in the dye for the full recommended 30 minutes, and the third pair I only left in the dye for 15 minutes because the navy blue dye turned out a lot darker than the other colors.

The instructions recommend washing the newly dyed jeans separately than the rest of my laundry for the first 3-4 washings until the dye isn’t going to run much anymore to protect my other laundry from stains.

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And here is the end result! I’m super happy with how they turned out, especially the colorful aqua jeans! This is nearly the same color that they were when I first bought them. And no more faded knees on the other two pairs. They all look like new!

I feel like I could get really into dying things. This was fun.

Making Sustainability Easy

Happy Earth Day! Here are a few (super easy) ways my family and I have been working towards going green and reducing our waste recently.

It really is so easy to move towards being a better caretaker of the world God entrusted us with. For my family, the key has been making it convenient and simple. Daily life gets busy! Let’s be honest… when we don’t have the extra time it takes to change our habits, it just doesn’t happen. But when the system is already in place, it doesn’t take any extra time at all and my family is happy to participate. When one person takes a few minutes for thought and preparation it can make all the difference. Will you be that person in your family?

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:28 NLT)

As a Christian, I’m always disappointed when I hear people teaching and repeating that we don’t need to worry about reducing our destructive impact on the world because God is in control and the world is just going to burn in the end anyways. That makes exactly as much sense as a young person saying that I’m going to eat fast food for every meal, quit showering, and sit around on the couch smoking, drinking, and doing drugs all day because I’m going to die eventually anyways. We would all agree that it’s a tragic waste of life.

To me, that line of thinking has always been pretty revolting. The Bible is sprinkled with many rich descriptions of the beauty and treasure and value of God’s creation. The earth is the artwork of God! Think about that. What message are you sending to an artist if you use their painting as a door mat? Or in contrast, what are you saying by hanging the painting on a wall in your home in a place of honor? If we really live to honor God, we will also honor his creation and treat it with respect.

The Bible also contains reminders of the importance of good stewardship, and caring well for the things God puts in our power to care for. We have the high calling of doing every task in our lives as if we are literally working for God, because we are. God has put the earth, his creative masterpiece, in our hands as caretakers and we will be held accountable for how we use what we’ve been given according to the knowledge that we have. (Check out the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. (Colossians 3:23)

Now I don’t want anyone to feel like they need to change their lifestyle out of guilt or fear, but the purpose of me writing this is to combat the false ideas about our role as human stewards of God’s creation that I’ve heard tossed around in Christian circles.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few ways my family is making sustainability easy and doable for us!

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1. Cloth Napkins

This month we switched to using cloth napkins instead of paper ones. With a toddler, meals are a messy business and we end up wasting a lot of napkins. (Just trying not to use napkins at all really isn’t a practical option for us anymore)

But these cloth ones are infinitely reusable! We just use them like a regular napkin, then after dinner instead of tossing them in the trash we toss them into the washing machine and run it when we get low on clean napkins.

I bought this set of napkins on Etsy and there are infinitely more options on there as well if you do a quick search.

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2. Paperless Paper Towels

Did I already mention that we somehow have constant messes around to clean up? We were using a lot of paper towels and disposable cleaning wipes, and every time I used them I would feel a twinge of conviction but continue to reach for them out of convenience in an urgent clean-up situation.

So for us it was really a matter of making it more convenient to use a rag and some eco-friendly cleaning spray than to keep grabbing for the one-time use stuff. That meant just putting a nice stack of clean t-shirt rags and a spray bottle in a cute basket on the kitchen counter where the paper towels used to be. We already had everything we needed for this one, it was all about making it accessible.

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3. Cloth Diapers

Obviously this one only applies if you have a baby or toddler.

Originally the choice to use cloth diapers instead of disposables was a financial decision for us. The difference in cost is astronomical! This particular change is probably one of the most monetarily lucrative on my list.

But once our daughter was born and we started using all the cute cloth diapers we had been collecting, we began to understand just the sheer number of diapers that you use up on ONE baby. It’s insane! And as that started to sink in, I realized that all those diapers were not going to sit forever in a landfill because we were using cloth. Now we are hooked, and committed to keep cloth diapering until our daughter potty trains.

My favorite brand of diapers is Thirsties, because they are a company that empowers mothers by allowing them to work from home flexibly and they are 100% made in the USA so I know for sure I’m supporting fair wages, job benefits, etc. They are also an excellent product with a wide variety of options to suit every family.

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4. Menstural Cup

Okay, so I debated whether or not to include this one in my list, because, well… periods.

But they happen! And we can make them have ZERO negative impact on the environment by using an awesome reusable menstrual cup instead of lots and lots of single use (and expensive!) feminine hygiene products over a lifetime.

If you haven’t already considered making the switch, do some research and I promise you’ll be impressed with what you learn.

There also are many different varieties available to choose from, so something for every(woman)!

Like many items on my list, this one is a small financial investment initially, but pays off over time because you only buy it once.

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5. Grow a House Plant (or twelve)

I love house plants! They are like cute decorations that keep us alive!

A house plant naturally converts the carbon dioxide we breathe out into the oxygen that we need.

Certain house plants can also absorb toxins from the air inside our homes and improve air quality. Some plants are more effective at this than others (such as airplane plants, certain types of ferns, gerbera daisies, and aloe vera) but any green and growing house plant is a good roomie for a human.

Did you know that having house plants around can also lower stress and put you in a better mood? (And many other health benefits as well)

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6. Plant a Tree

We recently planted a nectarine sapling in our back yard, and I’m so happy to report that there are tiny nectarines growing on there already! Aren’t they adorable? On top of being super great for the environment in general just because they are trees, fruit trees also produce healthy organic food (depending on how you care for them)

Trees produce oxygen, reduce pollution, combat soil erosion, lower stress levels, increase productivity, increase property value, and can decrease the amount of energy needed for air conditioning in the summer if planted in the right place.

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7. Plant a Vegetable Garden

Growing your own vegetables, herbs, and fruits rather than buying them from a grocery store they were trucked to reduces a great amount of carbon depending on how far your veggies traveled from. It also saves YOU the trip to the store!

Growing your own food can be healthier than buying commercially grown produce, as long as you are growing them organically.

Growing fruits and veggies in your yard can also help boost and support your local bee population!


If you’re like me, you might be happy to learn that a side effect of reducing waste in your home is that you also save money when you cut out some of those items that you have to keep buying and using up and throwing away! Some of them can be an investment initially, but save you more and more money over time and with repeated use.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to live more sustainably, these are just a few things that my family has been working on currently.

What are some ways that you make going green easy and convenient? Please share in the comments!


 

Easter Egg Knitting Pattern

Here is a quick Easter egg knitting pattern I whipped up. These colorful eggs can be used for Easter decorations or included as non-candy gifts in an Easter basket. My toddler will love playing with these for sure.

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Materials

STUFFING – You can use any type of leftover fabric scraps, yarn scraps, cotton balls, or regular polyfill for the stuffing.

YARN – I used a double strand of acrylic worsted weight yarn. I wanted mine to be nice and sturdy for my toddler to play with.

NEEDLES – This pattern is written for a set of US size 6 double pointed needles. (Of course this can be adjusted if you are an experienced knitter)

GAUGE – Gauge is not really important in this pattern as it’s not a sized clothing item. You can really use any size of needles or type of yarn that you have on hand, and your Easter eggs will just end up being a slightly different size than mine.

DSC_0451Abbreviations

ITR – in the round

RND – round

INC – increase by knitting the horizontal strand between two stitches

KF&B – increase by knitting the front and back of a stitch

STS – stitches

K – knit

K2TOG – decrease by knitting two stitches together

DPNS – double pointed needles

Pattern

(Using size 6 DPNS with a double strand of worsted acrylic)

Cast on 4 STS

KF&B of all STS and join ITR

K 1 RND

INC 8 times – 16 STS total

K 1 RND

K1, INC 1x in each of the next 3 STS, K1 (Four times in this RND) – 28 STS total

K 3 RNDS

(Change to stripe color if desired)

K 1 RND

K1, K2TOG, K4 (Four times in this RND) – 24 STS total

K 2 RNDS

(Change back to main color)

K1, K2TOG, K3 (Four times in this RND) – 20 STS total

K 2 RNDS

K1, K2TOG, K2 (Four times in this RND) – 16 STS total

K 2 RNDS

(Add the stuffing)

K1, K2TOG, K1, (Four times in this RND) – 12 STS total

K 1 RND

K1, K2TOG, (Four times in this RND) – 6 STS total

(Adjust the level of stuffing if needed)

Cut the yarn leaving about a 12 inch tail, and thread through the remaining 6 STS. Pull tight and sew in ends. You may need to stitch the hole at closed the cast on end.

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This project goes wonderfully with my DIY t-shirt yarn Easter basket if you want to get really creative!

 

T-Shirt Yarn Easter Basket

Another t-shirt yarn project in honor of Easter coming up this weekend! I realized yesterday that I haven’t put any thought into an Easter basket or goodies for my daughter, and I didn’t want to make an impulse buy so I decided to put my creative energy to use and get out my hot glue gun.

fullsizeoutput_147dI dug out a few of the more Easter-y colors of shirts from my fabric collection and cut them into strips each about a foot long.

fullsizeoutput_147cThen I braided them all into one long continuous braid. The braiding took a little time, so I put on my current Netflix obsession and set up my craft supplies on the coffee table. It was done in maybe half an hour or a little less.

fullsizeoutput_147eAfter the braid was completed I got out my hot glue gun and started glueing the braid into a circle, winding it around a little bit at a time and allowing it to naturally start to curve upward into a basket shape when it wanted to.

I went back every so often and tugged at the completed parts, making sure everything was well put together and adding a bit more glue where ever it was needed to make sure it would be decently sturdy.

fullsizeoutput_1482As I continued wrapping and glueing, and neared the end of the braid, I kept back twice as long as I wanted the basket’s handle to be, and doubled it up and glued it together in the middle to create a wider handle. I then glued the ends of the handle on the inside edges of the basket, making sure it was well secured.

fullsizeoutput_147fI love the braided texture and rustic uniqueness of this basket. Maybe I will knit up some soft toy easter eggs to go with it.

My toddler found her basket this morning and carried her sippy cup around in it for quite awhile and it held up well. I’m glad she likes it!

Let me know in the comments if you made your own Easter baskets this year!

I also ordered these plant-based Eco Eggs so we can do a little egg hunt on Sunday! I’m planning to save them and reuse them for next year.

What are some of your favorite sustainable or DIY holiday traditions?

Sand & Water Play Table

Here is the simple sand and water play table that I created for my toddler out of an old coffee table that I got for free on OfferUp.

I also bought:

  • two bins with lids
  • play sand
  • spray paint
  • polyurethane weatherproofing spray
  • sand toys

DSC_0370Here’s my lovely 1980’s coffee table that I got for FREE! (My favorite thing is getting stuff for free)

DSC_0371DSC_0372Because it’s going to stay outside in the weather, I wanted to make sure and get the underside of the table and the feet sealed really well with the spray paint and weatherproofing spray. The photo above is how it looked after one coat of paint. You can see it was still a little thin in some places. I used two coats of paint and two coats of weatherproofing on the whole table.

DSC_0385Here is the table after painting was complete. The poly spray gave it a nice glossy coating and it made the texture of the table feel like it was almost made of plastic.

DSC_0405Here is the table all set up with the sand and water bins! I didn’t manage to get a “perfect” picture before my daughter dumped some sand into the water, so you get the realistic picture instead. Proof that it was fun!

DSC_0432And this is a super important feature… Lids! Our neighbors have an amount of cats that  I still haven’t manage to count. Needless to say, everything in our yard has to be cat proofed. (I cover my garden beds in chicken wire)

Plus this is great to keep the rain and bugs out when it isn’t being played with.

DSC_0406DSC_0396Hours of playtime potential right here!

DSC_0393After awhile if she starts getting bored with the sand and water bins, I can easily switch them out for other sensory bins like colored rice, different themed activities, etc.

Check out my sensory bins board on Pinterest for some cool ideas!

What are some of your favorite backyard activities for kids in the Spring and Summer?

Ratty Patio Update

We really need to completely replace our current back patio, but to be honest that’s just not high on the home improvement priority list. But my point is, since we are planning to tear it out eventually anyways, why not do something a little offbeat and exciting and add some color to an otherwise super ugly random assortment of uneven bricks and pavers?

DSC_0374So I started by scraping off the dirt and moss that have built up on the pavers over the winter and sweeping it off as thoroughly as I could. (It wasn’t a super thorough cleaning job in general, but I’m proud of myself for trying at least)

DSC_0376Then I got out some masking tape and taped off some random squares. I was feeling a little bit Piet Mondrain and just went with it.

DSC_0384I checked out my odds-and-ends-of-spray-paint-left-over-from-other-projects collection, and decided I’d just go ahead and use all of the different colors I had on hand. Why not? Once I used up all the paint I was able to recycle the empty cans, which was nice. I hate throwing something away before it’s 100% empty and spray paint can be a tough one to use 100% of without misjudging how much you needed for a project and having to go back and buy another whole can.

DSC_0382I don’t think it turned out too bad! I mean, it can’t be worse than it already was. And now it’s colorful. So, definitely better than before.

DSC_0380The masking tape actually didn’t stick that well to the concrete, so I used a straight piece of cardboard I dug out of the recycling bin as a guide as I went along the edges to get the sides straight. One of the squares didn’t turn out as perfect as I was hoping, but I might go back later and clean up the edges a bit.

DSC_0398I feel like it adds a needed splash of color to kind of a weird/boring part of our yard. And hey, my toddler likes it! Maybe we will actually start hanging out on the patio now.

Crochet T-Shirt Rug Tutorial

I’ve been working on a large crochet rag rug for upwards of two months now and still going strong, so I put together a video tutorial for those of you who want to learn how to start your own rag rug. (I’ll have to share an update when I finally get mine finished)

A side note: Don’t be dissuaded by the word “crochet” in the title. I’m really not a crocheter, but I was able to figure out enough to make some good headway on this little rag rug project and it was really quite simple. If you want to figure it out, you definitely can.

How to Crochet a T-Shirt Yarn Rag Rug

 

I love that with this method you can choose contrasting or complimenting colors of t-shirt yarn and regular yarn to use together and really add a pop of color to your project.

If you decide to make a larger rug like the one I’m doing, you will probably have to spend some time blocking the rug once you get it finished to make it lie flat.

This method can also be used to create other items such as:

  • drink coasters
  • pot holders
  • hot pads or trivets
  • place mats
  • cat beds
  • mats for house plants
  • small bathroom rugs

And whatever else your creative mind comes up with!

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Here is my rag rug mid-process.

Whenever I work on my rag rug project, I remember reading about Laura and Mary making braided rag rugs in the Little House on the Prairie book series when I was a kid. I was so fascinated by how different everything was. Back then, that was really the only way to get a new rug or carpet for your house when you needed one. Only the very rich would be able to purchase something like that already made. I’m thankful our house has cozy, warm carpets here in the (often) dreary Pacific Northwest. Life has changed so much.

But I think we can learn something by looking back at how our ancestors lived. They didn’t throw anything away. Absolutely everything they owned had a purpose, and when it had outlived its purpose, it was made into something else to use and enjoy and add comfort to life. I’m not saying that we all need to start living in this starkly minimalist way again, but we certainly should reevaluate how much waste we each produce just going about our usual business. Whenever we can reuse and relove something we already possess rather than throwing it away and buying something new, we are reducing our individual waste impact.

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Here’s one last photo of my rag rug with a lovely accent beagle!

T-shirt Yarn Projects to Try

I’ve searched the interwebs to put together this list of my favorite projects using t-shirt yarn! (If you want even more inspiration, check out my Pinterest board)

I love that all of these projects can made from recycled materials. It is super easy to make your own recycled t-shirt yarn. In case you missed it, here is my post on how to make your own t-shirt yarn.

Not only are these all wonderfully reloved items, but they are also classy, fun, colorful, useful and customizable to your personal taste and most of them would be great as gifts.

Square Basket

If you can crochet, check out this pattern for a square basket crocheted from t-shirt yarn. This would look awesome on a table or coffee table. (Note that the original pattern is not in English, but you can translate it using Google Translate)

Crochet basket

Knit Pillow

This awesomely chunky t-shirt yarn pillow is for the knitters! I didn’t find many knitting projects for t-shirt yarn (probably tough to do because of the bulkiness) but this one is a winner!

knit pillow

Plant Hangers

These look super easy to make! If you can tie a knot, I’d recommend giving it a try. I’m picturing several of them in different bright colors hanging around my porch this summer.

Take a look at these darling t-shirt yarn plant hangers.

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Headbands

Can’t keep your hair out of your face while you craft or work in the garden? Try out these t-shirt yarn headbands! These would be amazing to make with (or for) your kids as well.

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Rosette Necklace

I love how simple and comfortable this t-shirt yarn rosette necklace looks. It could be made all in one color or with a variety of colors to suit your style.Tshirt DIY necklace

Fluffy Rug

If you have a lot of time on your hands and want an awesomely dense and fluffy rug, check out this t-shirt rug tutorial. It looks like heaven for the feet! You could probably make a smaller version if you don’t have as much time to spare. The post says that it is an easy skill level, so there’s no reason not to give it a try.

t shirt rug

Dog Chew Toy

This one is awesome! If you are an animal lover, or if you have friends who are animal lovers, you should give this t-shirt yarn dog toy a shot. The pattern reminds me of those woven plastic keychains we all made at summer camp as kids. Not too difficult!

dog toy

Pom Poms

If you are hosting a shower or a birthday party soon, these t-shirt yarn pom poms are adorable and I have to say, very classy! To be honest, I didn’t realize just how classy a t-shirt could be before I started researching uses for t-shirt yarn. Love it.

Pom Poms

Hot Pads

These nifty crochet t-shirt yarn trivets are the perfect gift for your tea-drinking friend. This one is a pattern that costs $2.47 so if you want to make this one it would be a minor splurge.

crochet hot pads

Tassel Garland

If you end up with a lot of neutral colors of t-shirt yarn this garland would be an amazing addition to a nursery or child’s room, craft room, teen bedroom, or anywhere else in your home that you want to look exceptionally romantic and breezy. (This pattern will also need to be translated, but you can just click the handy Google Translate button and let them do all the work)

Garland

Neon Bowls

I love these little fabric bowls from The Red Thread. These could easily be made using your new t-shirt yarn. These would be perfect to hold all the little odds and ends on my crafting desk. Maybe I’ll give it a try!

bowls

Have you ever made a project you loved out of t-shirt yarn?

Comment below if you decide make any of these projects or invent one of your own!