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Do-It-Yourself Holiday Tips



The holidays are near and people are starting to think about the important things, such as the loot they'll get. Some are even thinking about what they'll give to others.

If you're the crafty type, the editors at Better Homes and Gardens have "Crafts to Make & Sell" ($30, Meredith Books, 2000). It has more than 1,000 "projects, tips and ideas" for creating items at home that can find their way into gift boxes or be sold.

Chief editor Carol Field Dahlstrom says the projects are relatively easy but they require time and perseverance. The directions, however, are clear, from necessary tools to where to buy supplies. There are also lettering and festive pattern stencils in case you don't want to design yours.

Of course, there are many Christmas-related gifts: ornaments, jars, stockings and miniature trees are a few of the projects. There are also several aimed at appealing to painters, seamstresses, woodworkers and gardeners.

If you don't feel like starting from scratch, a chapter shows how you can turn flea market finds into gift or sale-ready items.

Revive, Renovate

B.J. Berti's "Flea Market Makeovers" ($30, Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2000) enters a growing list of books that takes advantage of the old stuff you've collected over the years. But unlike many of them, it doesn't just toss out ideas but walks you through renovating projects.

Berti details how you can turn many odd objects into a lamp, from the wiring through the external finish. She also explains ways to refinish chairs, tables and any other piece that ends up in the garage.

Trailer Trash Treasures


For anyone who's fantasized about life in a trailer park (come on, really?), Jolene's Trailer Park Haven ( is a salty stop on the net's back roads.

Take a gander at Jolene on the opening page. See that stunned look under her topsoil of makeup? That's the look of a woman who's stared into the face of the trailer park and lived to tell. And does she tell, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, from trailer park etiquette to fashion to recipes to decor.

Want to spruce up that trailer? Jolene suggests creating wooden lawn signs saying things like "I Love Angels!," "Hugz--5 Sents," or "Gone to Wal-Mart." Or make decoupage plates: "Just find magazine advertisements for Franklin Mint collectible plates, cut them out, glue them to a paper plate, varnish, and Bam! fine china for a fine price." Ready to wallpaper? Think shiny: "Reynolds Foil Wrap is your best friend."

Culinary Tips

As for culinary treats, Jolene offers elaborate steps to create Frito pie, spaghetti pie and Tator Tots casserole, among others. Desserts include Kool-Aid Cake and Twinkie Surprise.

A small warning: Jolene's ramblings, while they shouldn't offend anybody who's seen an R-rated comedy, can get earthy.

* To have a book or Web site considered for this column, send information to: Home Design, Los Angeles Times Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Mark Chalon Smith can also be reached by e-mail at

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