Friday, November 30, 2012

PERSONALIZED ORNAMENTS {TAKE TWO}


Ugh.  I'm still decorating.  It's going to be good, though!  I'm changing things up from what I've done for the past few years so it's just taking some time to work it all out.  Soooo, I'm giving you my first ever re-run post today.  I wanted to show this one to you early on in case you want to make some for gifts this season. 

I'm amazed every time I see it pinned.  This is by far my most pinned project.  Just goes to show that you never know for sure what people will like!  I'm sure that when I originally posted this last year I only had a few readers outside of my family, so hopefully this will still be new to most of you.

Before I get on to the project, I wanted to give a HUGE thank-you to several people who featured some of my projects this week.  Please check out these lovely blogs-they will be great weekend reading!
  
Lindsay at Better After - Office Re-do and Dining Room Host Chairs
Cassie at Primitive and Proper and Tami at Curb Alert - Faux Deer Head (Both of these ladies made their own versions...so unique!)
Apartment Therapy - Dining Room Host Chairs (I'm still freaking out about this one a bit!  I had NO idea and happened to stumble across it.  Apartment Therapy is one of THE home design blogs!)

* * * * * * * * * *





While on vacation I saw some ornaments similar to these in a gift shop and thought "Those would be really easy to make," and they were!  If you need a last minute gift or just a little extra something to accompany a present or even a few more ornaments to fill out your tree, give these a try.



I purchased a box of glass ornaments and used paint and ribbon that I had on hand.




One trick that I like to use when painting dots is to cut one out of a sponge.  I sponge the dots on (remember sponge painting walls and t-shirts in the 90's?) and then go back and fill them in with a brush.  The sponge gives me somewhat of a template to make the dots uniform and makes the process much quicker since I only have to do a few swipes with the brush to fill it in. 



See my fancy handy-dandy drying rack?  The kids saw them still hanging there in the morning and thought I should leave them.  Maybe that would be a good addition to the decor next year!



My lovely assistant even painted one of her own.



After painting the dots I used a black paint pen and free-handed an initial.  When that dried I went back with a wooden skewer barely dipped in white paint and lightly added the white dots.  Done!




Linking up with:
Hi Sugarplum
Hyphen Interiors
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

FAKE IT 'TIL YOU MAKE IT!


One of the challenges decorators face (if they're like me at least!) is making what you have work if it's not quite the right size or color or height.  As I was decorating last night, I used a few tricks that I thought I'd share with you.

First off, how many of us have countless little projects that would take two seconds to finish but never quite seem to get done?  Yesterday I checked one of those off of my list.  This spot on my brick fireplace has bugged me for years. 


It looked like a bird flew through the living room and bombed the brick.  I always kept something tall there or photographed the mantel from creative angles to try to hide that spot.  It drove me crazy.  

Well, when I started putting Christmas on the mantle, enough was enough.  Faster than the time it took me to gather the supplies, it was fixed.   I found some acrylic paint that was a close enough match and with a damp sponge rubbed a bit over the light spot, then blended and wiped some paint off with my hand.  Done.  


The spot is still there if you want to look hard enough, but it doesn't stand out like a neon light like it used to.


Secondly, I wanted to use this little silver plated cake stand for some candles on my coffee table.  The bottom inside wasn't flat, so I found a wooden trivet that fit perfectly and slipped it inside.  Then, all of my candles were the same height and I wanted to raise one a bit, so a can of tuna came to the rescue!  I covered all of the props underneath with some spanish and reindeer moss.  


This is the ONLY spot in my house that I'll declare done for Christmas so far.  The rest is a disaster and I had to move 4 things out of the shot just to photograph that tray. :)


By the way, have you seen the jumbo plastic animals in the $3 spot at Target?  A little gold spray paint and he fits in perfectly for Christmas.  I want to run back and get the giraffe after spotting one on Cassie's shelf yesterday.


Next up, I wanted some natural looking stems.  I usually go out back and cut fresh greenery, but for this arrangement I didn't want to mess with switching it out when it gets dry.  So, I saw some good long stems at HL for $5 each, but then found these picks for $2.50.  


Not too different from the long stems I found, but the stem was shorter, and I wanted to buy several so that $2.50 difference added up fast.   I'm using them in a big metal vase, so to lengthen the stem I wired it to a wooden skewer.  And, I couldn't find my floral wire so I used a pipe cleaner.   The skewer will stick down in the vase far enough to not be seen, and add the height I needed to the picks.


That's it for today.  I looks like Hobby Lobby exploded around here and I've got to get busy.  Have a great Thursday!
 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FRAMED INITIAL ART


Last month when I showed you where we are so far with my son's room, one of the things you all liked the most was his initials on the wall.


I planned to show you some day how I made those, and that day came sooner than later.  When cleaning some cobwebs above the kitchen pantry the other day, I knocked down a little more than the webs.  The framed "G" that was hanging there came crashing down and the letter broke, but the frame was ok.  So, that's a little blessing in disguise because now I can show you how I put them together.  It's SO easy, and would make such a great (& thrifty) personalized gift.  

The supplies you need are a frame in the size of your choice (mine was 16x20 and only a few dollars from the thrift shop-painted of course!), a backing cut to fit (can be stiff cardboard, foam board, or even a thin sheet of wood), spray adhesive, hot glue and gun, fabric, and a letter (also spray painted if you desire).  Letters can be purchased at any craft store.  I like to use the poly-resin classic style from Hobby Lobby, but they also have some great chipboard 3D and wooden cut out options.  

Making sure your fabric is smooth and free of wrinkles, cut it to fit the backing piece exactly, then use the spray adhesive to adhere it.  


Next, peel back a little bit of the fabric around the edges and run a line of hot glue, pressing your fabric firmly into the glue.  The first time I made one of these I only used the spray adhesive, and after hanging the frame the fabric started to sag and pull because the letter was too heavy.  The bead of hot glue around the edges helps to hold everything in place.


Then, lay your letter on your board and find the center-use a ruler or it will drive you crazy when it's finished if you're a little bit off!  When my letter is in the right place, I like to trace a few of the edges with a pencil (it won't show) so I can get it back into the right position.  Apply hot glue to the back of the letter and press into place.  


Once dry, I used this method to attach the back to the frame and it's all done!




Are you working on any regular projects this week? Or just Christmas?  I think I'm the only person (or blogger!) who doesn't have one bit done yet.  We pulled everything out of the attic last night, but today I'm working the Book Fair at school and helping to decorate at church, so not sure if any will get done today either.  But tomorrow, I'm on it!  

Linking up with:
The Shabby Nest

Monday, November 26, 2012

CANDIED CINNAMON SUGAR ALMONDS


For the present party I hosted last week, I wanted to send my guests home with a little treat.  I found a recipe for candied almonds on Pinterest and though it would be the perfect thing.   

The first batch was made following this recipe, but we found it a bit dry and bitter for our taste.  So, I adapted it a bit and came up with this.  They turned out SO yummy and reminded us of the warm candied nuts that we like to purchase at treat stands.  They are super easy to make, and are actually made in the crock pot!

1 egg white
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1-2 t. kosher salt
3 1/2 cups raw almonds
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 T. cinnamon
2 T. butter (cut in chunks)

In a large bowl combine the egg white, vanilla, and 1/2 t. of the salt.  Pour almonds in mixture and stir to coat.  

In a separate bowl mix the sugar, cinnamon, and remaining salt.  I add about a teaspoon or more of salt here-we like them a bit salty but you can adjust to your taste.  Pour cinnamon and sugar mixture over the almonds and stir to coat.

Turn crockpot on high and add butter to the bottom.  Pour the coated almonds in and cover with lid.  Cook on high for 2 hours, stirring well every 25 minutes.  Towards the end they have a tendency to burn, so stir well and don't cook too long. 

**Edited to add:  One reader who tried these found the recipe as listed to be too salty.  We like them that way, but you may want to cut it back to start with.  Also, I forgot to mention earlier to spray the crockpot with Pam first for easier cleanup.  With a soapy hot water soak when your crock has cooled it shouldn't be too hard to clean up.  


Pour hot nuts out onto waxed paper sprayed with cooking spray and let cool.  Break apart chunks if needed and scoop into treat bags. 
 

When they are in a clear treat bag tied with a festive ribbon, you're all ready to give your guests a yummy party favor!


Just fair warning though...they're highly addictive!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING




In my last post I shared several things I was grateful for, but I left one out on purpose to save for today.

I'm thankful for YOU, dear ones who read my blog every day.  Thank you for your encouraging comments and brilliant suggestions when I'm stuck on a project.  Thank you for spreading the word when there is something you like.  Thank you for taking my ideas and making them your own.  That is my ultimate desire for this blog...that it inspires someone to use their creativity to make their home a little more unique and personal.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your families, or whomever you are spending your day with.  I'll see you on Monday, and will leave you with this benediction:

"Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.  The Lord be with you all.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen."
-2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18 (NKJV)

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

GRATEFUL


Last Tuesday I got the call from the school that no parent ever wants to hear... Come quickly.  Your daughter is hurt.  Unconscious.   EMS has been called.  That was the longest two minutes to the school ever.  Caleb and I prayed all the way there.  We heard the ambulance coming as we ran in the front door.


The fourth grade had been on the stage preparing their upcoming music program.  Emily was standing on the next to the top riser.  Apparently it was really hot up there with the stage lights on, and she fainted.  No one was on the riser behind her, so she fell over the back and hit her head on the stage floor.  The teacher who ran to help her had to call her name several times before she roused.  When I arrived, she was awake but still lying still until the paramedics arrived.  They evaluated her and checked all of her vitals.  They gave us the all clear to take her home if we wished, but advised us to observe her closely through the evening.  Many thanks to the principal and wonderful staff at our school.  They gave Emily loving and cosiderate care until I could be there.   

My attention and perspective made an about face that afternoon.  Before the call, I was busy.  I had important things to do.  Preparations for a party to attend to.  Dinner to make.  Pillows to sew.  A chair to strip down.  Gifts to wrap.  Grocery lists to prepare.  Photos to edit.  A post to write. 

That huge, important (or so I thought) to-do list melted away when we arrived home and walked through the door with Emily-praise the Lord!  We spent the next few hours just sitting. And snuggling on the couch.  And reading together.  She was soon asking to go out and play basketball (a request that was denied for the evening).


After returning home from school the next afternoon, she said all of her sweet friends were concerned about her and wanting to know if she was o.k.  A few even brought her a little something to show they cared.   That warmed this Mom's heart to hear how all of them were so concerned for her well-being.

So today, during this season of Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for good health.  For dedicated teachers and school administrators.  For caring friends.  For a supportive and loving husband.  For an almost 12 year old boy who still laughs his head off at kids' movies.  For having plenty.  For a Saviour.  I'm humbled at how good He is to me and how much I don't deserve one bit of the blessings He pours out in my life.

And, I'm mindful of those who are not so blessed in all the ways I am.  Heavy on my heart this season is our friend Xander, who you all have met in a previous post.  Thank you ever so much for those of you joining me in prayer for him and his family.  Just to update you, it has been almost 2 weeks since his stem cell transplant.  He began the first of 15 radiation treatments yesterday.  In the mean time he is resting and waiting for his body to accept his Mom's stem cells.  This precious family still has a long road ahead-will you continue to join me in praying for peace, comfort, healing, and God's will to be done for Xander? And, if you feel led to help, there is a fundraiser set up for the family that you can take part in.  Thank you.  It's amazing what can be accomplished when we all pitch in together!


 

Monday, November 19, 2012

PLAN A PRETTY PRESENT PARTY


Our church has the best Sunday School teachers EVER and one of my sweet friends (who has taught me so much!) leads a group of young career single and newly married girls.  She is doing an awesome job teaching them some practical things about homemaking, and she wanted to do a "wrap a pretty present" party, which I was thrilled to host in our home.


I wrapped some gifts before hand to give the girls some ideas and taught them how to make a bow.  Most of all, it just takes practice!  We asked the girls to bring a gift or two to wrap, and my friend and I provided the wrapping materials.  If you want to host your own party it would be great to ask everyone to bring some supplies and put them all together to pick and choose from. 

I wish I would have remembered to take a few photos of those cute girls and their packages!  They did a great job!  I can never remember to pull out the camera during a party...but always feel a bit strange doing that anyway. 
   

Who doesn't love anticipating what's in a beautifully wrapped package?  Sometimes the presentation of a gift can be just as much fun as the contents.

Over the last few years I've tried to put a little extra effort into wrapping pretty packages.  Of course, I like to be thrifty with the materials used or it could be easy for the cost of wrapping to overtake the cost of the actual gift!

One of my favorite stand-bys is the traditional brown craft paper.  This can be found with the mailing supplies in most stores, but it's now more readily available with the regular wrapping paper.  I even picked up several rolls at our Habitat ReStore for less than $1/roll.

Pair it with greenery clipped from the yard and some simple trim, and you have a classic gift ready in seconds.  The trim with the red edges is upholstery webbing purchased at Hobby Lobby (about $.60/yard with your coupon) and the white is unfinished upholstery cording (less than $.20/yard with your coupon).  I just happened to have a lot of that left over from my recent upholstery project.  This one is finished off with some rubber alphabet stamps and a red ink pad. 

There is nothing extra special about these gifts for my niece (who IS extra special!), other than this is my favorite ribbon to use on Christmas gifts!  And, these gift tags are adorable if you haven't seen them.  You can download and print them for free from Jones Design Company.  There's even a chevron one that's not pictured here...too cute! 
 

Simple craft paper again, with a pretty ribbon and feathers.  I also like these manilla tags that can be found at most craft stores.  


This idea from Polkadot Notebook is so cute!  Make a word search with the recipient's name and circle.  I also included our family's name so they would know who gave the gift.  I like the mix of wrapping the gift in newspaper, and a big poof of curly ribbon is fun for the kids.  This one was for my young nephew, so I used the "cars" section of the classifieds. 


This gift is for my daughter.  I used a letter ornament for the gift tag and made a felt flower using this tutorial.  An alligator clip is hot glued to the back of the flower to make it easy to attach, but will also allow her to use the flower as a hair clip or to pin in on a shirt or jacket.


 Always stock up on fun ornaments that are left after Christmas when you can pick them up for pennies.  They make great gift tags, especially if you get a variety and can match the recipient with a fun ornament they would like from your stash.  This one was plain white and easy to personalize.

More flowers were made for this package for my Mother-in-law.  The two on the sides are the same as the green one above, and the red one in the middle is a little bit different and was made following this tutorial.  I glued a pin backing to it so it can be reused as well.
     


Another ornament tie-on, but this one was one of those ornament frames.  I just popped out the back and used the alphabet stamps again to label for Caleb & Emily.  The big spools of tulle are also a staple in my gift wrapping supplies.  They offer enough colors at Christmas that I buy several and use them on all of my gifts through the year.  Big rolls can be found at Hobby Lobby for around $5 and they last forever.
 
  
Finally, what would we do without good old burlap?  It is the perfect choice for those odd-shaped gifts that are hard to fit in a box.  With a simple ribbon, tag, and sprig of greenery, it couldn't be easier to present a charming gift.


Throughout the evening I asked a few "get to know you better" questions of the girls, and the answers determined the winners of a few door prizes...


a roll of paper, ribbon, and tape!  

By the way, I always buy those packs of white gift boxes when they are WAY discounted after Christmas, and my family probably thinks I'm nuts when after everything is unwrapped I'm gathering up all of my boxes and ribbon to reuse next year.  The boxes fold flat and I cram it in a tub try to re-roll the ribbon so everything is easy to store.

Have you wrapped any Christmas gifts yet?  I wrapped these for the party, but I'm usually the mom up at midnight on Christmas Eve finishing up!  Hopefully I'll do better this year...


Linking up with:
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia


Friday, November 16, 2012

CHRISTMAS REINDEER TURNED MOUNTED DEER HEAD


Last year I saw this project and wanted to make one of my own, but by the time I looked for the supplies they were sold out for the season.  So this year, I'm glad I remembered to check earlier!  

I've had a blank spot in the living room where I took my antlers down to move them above the back door.  I just wanted a little something fun in that spot, and this project fit the bill perfectly!

I started with this reindeer from the Christmas section at Michael's.  I bought the largest one they had and he was about $10 after the coupon. 


After spray painting him a glossy white, I had to add a little sparkle.  I brushed on a thin coat of Elmer's school glue, and sprinkled some gold glitter on the antlers.


Then,  I determined the angle I wanted and used a sturdy, sharp paring knife to cut his head off.  Sorry- I couldn't figure out a way to sugar coat that sentence! :)

After hammering in a nail to hang him on, he's all set!  Super easy!
  

I searched and am still looking for a scrolled oval frame to surround him, but in the mean time I'm using this old frame from the thrift store.  It has a really pretty black velvet border and after hitting the wood with some Rub & Buff, it looks as good as new.


I hope everyone has a great weekend.  Caleb and I are trying to convince Ray to put up the Christmas lights tomorrow (even though we've promised not to turn them on until Thanksgiving night).  And, I have a fun group of younger ladies headed over tonight for a Christmas present wrapping and bow making party!  More on that next week.  Happy weekend!




Linking up with:
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Curb Alert
Hi Sugarplum

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

THANKSGIVING TABLESCAPE {2012}


I spent some time playing with a Thanksgiving tablescape over the weekend.  My theme was Rustic Glitz and Glam- yes I just made that up.


I saw some gold branches on Pinterest and knew that I wanted to use those, and everything else came together from there.



If you've been a reader for a while, you've probably seen all of these things around my house before.  The shutters were on my mantel last Fall, the feathers and basket were in my Fall decorations last year, and I used the bird nests on my Easter table for the centerpiece.  I like to try to use what I have in different ways.







The basket seemed a little plain.  If this was 5 years ago, I would have tied a bow around it and called it good.  But this time I thought a belt would be a nice twist, and a little bit of leopard never hurts anything!  One of my daughter's old belts was the perfect size.




A few night shots because I was being a geek wanna-be photographer...one word: tripod.  It's crucial. 








We drink "Bubble Pop" (the kids' name for sparkling grape juice) at our special family occasions, and these are my favorite hobnail (candlewick?) glasses to use.  I'm always on the hunt for more.






We're having our Thankgiving meal at my in-laws this year, so I guess my family will have a fancy dinner tonight!