I Love Friday!…and Gallery Walls

We have a split-level entryway in our twin home — which, by the way, I despise. First of all, the person that decided that a 4×5 space was sufficient enough to enter into and take your shoes and coat off did not have children. (I will admit that the real-world dimensions of the space may be bigger than my perceived mental measuring tape.) We come home and perform an assembly line: “Okay, you go!” as child 1 takes off his shoes and coat and rushes up the stairs, while I stand waiting at the storm door, then send child #2 in to do the same, before I enter and try to juggle a baby, purse, lunch box, and diaper bag. On those occasions when we all try to stand in the entryway together, someone is at risk of falling perilously down the stairs. Sure, we may only fall down 7 stairs rather than a full flight, but I’d rather the chances be more slim (especially since I’m somewhat famous for falling down stairs). Another peril of the split-entry is that in the passage from upstairs to downstairs, your socks will get wet, specifically in the winter and spring seasons.

Okay, a lot of my split-level hatred is due to the fact that our house is a small twin home design. Sometimes,  the architects did it right. I have a friend whose split-level entry is rather roomy and even includes a closet on that level for coats and shoes. All I know is that when we look for our next home, it will NOT have a split-entry.

Now that you’ve suffered through my lamentations, onto the home decor and gallery walls!!!!

Separating the upper-level living room from the staircase in the entryway, there used to be a railing. Since we’ve redone our flooring, the railing didn’t match, and it seemed rather unsafe for children because it was getting loose. For a long time we talked about replacing the railing, but we couldn’t decide what to replace it with. About a month ago, my husband came up with an idea: drywall a half-wall up there. Duh! Many split-entry homes simply have a half-wall going up the upper staircase side. The moment I stared at that spot, picturing the new wall, was the moment I realized I will finally have my entryway gallery wall.

My husband is a rather talented dude for not having any professional instruction in home repairs or construction. He built, drywalled, textured, and painted the wall, and created a trim piece for the top ledge. This is my blank canvas (via a crappy phone photo for your viewing pleasure):

We still have some trim left to do along the stairway and the top ledge, but you get the idea.

I’ve loved gallery walls for a long time. I also love the unique things so many crafty people include, and somehow it all works together. Let me expand on my love for gallery walls! (As always, click the photo to follow the source/link!)

This gallery wall includes things, which I think is great:

This one also includes a mix of family photos and things you may not ordinarily find hanging on a wall. See that little concave, rectangular shaped piece below the flowers? I have been trying to decide how to repurpose a back-of-the-toilet tray that once held seashells. I suspect this piece was once the same thing:

This one is my favorite, for the mixture of colors and frames that somehow fit together:

And I especially love the unique items in this gallery wall, and the center monogram:

I love the angles that a staircase allows – your items don’t have to be perfect or symmetrical. I love when mismatched things somehow match.

But…I have a fairly small wall space to work with. AND I don’t want people to walk in and see a cluttered entryway…I already mentioned that we’re working with a tight space.  And how do you decide which photos to hang? And how do you decide how many? And how do you find cool little things to include, like the vinyl monogram above, or the doorknob hook, or the keys, and just know that they’re going to work out together?

So maybe I could go with something more clean, steamlined, and safe? Like these:

I plan to work on my gallery wall this weekend! I’ll keep you posted. :)

Handprint Christmas Ornament

I needed the traditional “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament for my 10-month old son. These great handprint ideas have been floating around Pinterest all season:

 

There are a few different ways to pull this off. You can use clear embossing ink to make the print on the ornament, then glitter it. I’ve never used embossing ink — that’s probably some new thing I should try out one of these days — so I wasn’t sure about it. Or you can use a paint made for glass. There are jars of glass paint that require baking to be hardened. But I wanted a glittery paint!

I found Martha Stewart’s new line of multi-surface paint at Michael’s, which comes in glitter colors! I also had a Sharpie paint pen from a previous wedding project.

I used my stepson as my guinea pig so I could perfect the project before trying it out with my baby.  I “painted” his hand with the glitter paint, which tickled and made him giggle. After a few failed attempts at the hand print on the ball, I discovered the easiest thing to do was to let him keep his hand still in a small bowl shape with fingers out, and I rolled the ball carefully onto his hand to make the handprint. When I tried having him close his hand around the ball, he was squeezing too tight and smudging his fingers together.

Once the handprint was painted, I hung it upside down on a wood skewer that I had placed in a drinking glass to dry.

This is my stepson’s ball (I apologize for the terrible lighting — it’s really hard to take a good photo of a clear ball!):

 

 

I used the Sharpie pen to write his name and 2011 on it.

 

I considered “filling in” the handprint a little bit more, but I kind of like the more homemade feeling of a TRUE handprint on it, so I think I’ll leave it. I may also go over the writing with a black marker instead, so that it stands out a little. Another idea for an older kid would be to use a Sharpie paint pen to outline the hand (the kid could hold it while you trace the hand), then fill it in with glitter paint.

Next step: Try it on the baby. I painted his hand and he giggled and squished his fingers together – I was praying he wouldn’t try to eat it. Then I pried open his fingers, quickly placed the ball on it….and then he tried to squeeze the ball and smudged it. Rinse, dry, repeat. Rinse, dry, repeat. Rinse, dry, repeat. I really don’t know how those Pinterest people got them so perfect!

I have yet to conquer the “Baby’s First Christmas” handprint ball, but I’m going to attempt it one more time tonight. I may have to do it when he’s sleeping. :) I’ll update this post if I have some success!

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

UPDATE:

I managed to get somewhat of a handprint. But I had to cheat. I cleaned it up a little bit with a Q-Tip and then actually used my paint brush to sponge on the handprint a little better. It is still his handprint – the size and shape and such, but I just made it a little better-looking. It’s really hard to get a good photo of it, though!

 

Wyatt’s First Christmas:

The Ugliest Christmas Stars You Ever Did See

Remember how I told you I am not Martha Stewart? Just checking to make sure you remember. I have a Christmas decor project that turned into a horrendously ugly waste of time.

Let me first say that I thought, Hey, I can be one of those people who just thinks of something clever and beautiful and puts things together that are mismatched but somehow look great! Who needs Pinterest!

After perusing the clearance aisle of Hobby Lobby, I found these star-shaped boxes. They are supposed to be wooden boxes with lids that fit and are magnetized. However, the lids didn’t match up, and the magnets didn’t stick…therefore, they were only $.79. I excitedly perused the scrapbooking aisle and found some beautiful pieces of paper, thinking I would mod podge the stars and actually hang them individually. Two boxes = 4 stars.

Hooray for creativity!

I cut strips of paper and spent an hour or so after my little guy went to bed, mod podging the paper onto the stars. (Side note: Apparently “podging” is not a word.) The next evening, I cut the letters for my Christmas-y words: joy, peace, love, and hope. The red star uses the same paper as my smallest Christmas tree cone.

And here it is — the finished, horrendously ugly waste of time Christmas project that I will never hang in my home:

Where did I go wrong? There’s nothing worse than wasting your time, energy, and money and not being happy with the results.Is it the color choices? Should I have gone with two colors rather than four? I was trying to be all kitschy-cool and stuff.

Maybe I do need Pinterest.

 

I Love Friday!…and Reindeer

Who doesn’t love Friday? Okay, maybe if you work during the weekend you don’t have the same infatuation with Friday as I do. But you can still love the other things that I love, right? Every other Friday I’m going to feature a theme of things I love (besides Friday!).

Today — and this Christmas season — I love reindeer.

As in all of my blogs, click on the picture to follow the source.

The Handmade/DIY:

 


The Beautiful:

 

The Funky:

 

The Dreamy:

 The Clever:

 

The Unique:

 

The Edible:

The Adorable:

 

The Real Deal (look at that rack!):

I could really go on and on….reindeer and Fridays rule! :)

Tsumami Hair Flowers

One of my favorite wedding projects was creating these pretty tsumami (not to be confused with the natural disaster) flower accessories for my bridesmaids. They are much easier than you would think, and you can get really creative with the fabrics, colors, and buttons you use. You can find a few different tutorials on the web, but the easiest one to follow (and the one I used) is THIS ONE. I’m going to break it down further, as I did get a little confused in a few areas.

Materials Needed:

Fabric (see more details on the types to select below)
Iron
Starch
Needle & thread
Button
Hot glue gun
Alligator clip, hair comb, or other hair attachment

Instructions

1. Select your fabric: You can use just about anything, but keep in mind you need to iron, fold, and manipulate it, so lighter cottons and satins are best. How much you need depends on how large of a flower you are making, how many “petals” you will use, and if you are making more than one. For just one, you will only need to request about one foot of fabric. You could do a double-layered flower like the silver one here, or leave it with one layer of fabric.

2. Starch and iron your fabric. You can flip-flop this step with #3 if you want. Keep in mind if you are using a delicate fabric like tulle, you will need to use the low-heat setting on your iron.

3. Trace and cut circles. At first I used a formula can as my stencil, but that circle ended up producing a rather large flower. I found that a 3″ circle is the perfect size for a hair flower. For the silver flower, I used a 3.5″ circle for the satin and a 3″ circle for the tulle. You will also need to decide how many petals you want on each flower – I used 9 for no specific reason! Five petals would create a pretty star-like effect.

4. Fold your circles in half and iron the fold. 

  

5. Fold them in half again and iron the fold. You now have a small triangle shape:


HINT: If you are using 2 layers, this is where you put your top layer over the bottom layer – make sure the rounded edges match up.

6. This is where the explainin’ gets tricky. Make sure all your little triangles are ready to go. Also have a needle and thread (about a foot of thread) ready to go. Pinch the middle of the triangle (both triangles together if you’re using 2 layers), where I’ve drawn the purple line (I’ll use a little help from the tutorial) :

7. Now pull the two edges into the center part that you pinched, and pinch it all together:

8. If you are ambitious, sew the whole end shut exactly as it looks, repeat with all the petals, and move to the next step. Or just move to the next step.

9. String the petals onto your needle and thread. Don’t push it all the way to the knot, though, leave some room there. Make sure you push the needle through the middle fold of the fabric (that part you pinched in step 6) or it will lose its shape. Also, make sure you poke the needle through in the same spot on each petal.

10. Tie your string ends together and pull tight! Knot the string and cut off the excess.

11. This is where I did some extra sewing on mine. I sewed on the inside of the flower, connecting each petal to the one across from it until it was all very tight and none of the petals moved around individually. I found at this point that if you sew from the back side, the flower will lay flat, and if you sew on the front side, the flower petals will put into each other and create a more raised effect. For a smaller flower, I’d recommend the latter.

12. You can try to sew in your button into the center, but it’s easier to just hot glue it down.

13. Cut a small circle of your fabric to cover up the ugliness of the back side, and hot glue that on. I am obviously not very talented at free-handing a circle, but you don’t see that side anyway:

14. Hot glue your hair piece to the flower. You may have to play around with the type you need for your hair – the alligator clips are actually more secure.

My matrons of honor wore the silver hair pieces at my wedding, and I wore a white version made from a sheer fabric. I actually made the center button for my own hair flower from the extra packet of beads that came with my dress (hot glued onto a bead cap):

Kyle Smith Photography

I think I’d like to try a few cute and fun tsumami flowers for gifts for the little girls in my life. :)

 

UPDATE: I made these fun ones for my stepdaughter, the one on the right is to match her Valentine shirt. You can see that using less petals makes a more star-like effect.

Check out these versions:

   

 

FYI: Sometimes Chapstick Looks Like a Glue Stick. (and a little shadowbox gift idea)

A few weeks ago, I made a “How to Make Your Own Shadowbox Kit” for a coworker-friend’s baby shower. I was cutting a pretty little butterfly with my Slice machine, and I realized I needed a glue stick. I tore open the junk drawer and found a large stick. It had no writing on it – as if the label had been peeled off. It used to be in my stepdaughter’s backpack, but it fell out and was transferred to the junk drawer. I opened the cap and it was a light pink color. It smelled like strawberries. I thought, “How do they expect kids to not eat glue if they make it smell like strawberries?” and moved on with my project.

The glue seemed slimy, but did that stop me? Nope. I thought, “Cheap kid’s glue sticks, ugh.”

I glued a butterfly to a piece of paper, and glued some letters to another piece of paper. I noticed they weren’t really sticking so I stuck them between the pages of a book to help it stick. I rubbed the slime off my fingers with a towel.

Twenty minutes later, I peeled the paper from the book page, and the small bits of paper fell apart! Still slimy! I realize I’m admitting to a major blonde moment here, but it was only then that the light bulb turned on: this was Chapstick. Not glue. No chance of it creating a bond. And my paper was not saveable, as it was all greasified.

*Sigh*

I proceeded to cut new letters and shapes, the scent of strawberry on my glossy lips.

On to the Project:

My inspiration came from many places on the web (click the photos for the source):
  
 

 

And the gift my mother-in-law made for my new niece:

 

In the shadowbox kit, I included 4 pieces of paper in pinks and browns (the colors in her nursery), a piece of paper that I made repeating the baby’s name in different fonts, flowers and baby embellishments I found in the scrapbooking aisles of Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, mounting tape, brads, and ribbon.  After I put all the “ingredients” into the shadowbox, it wasn’t all that photo-worthy, but here is the instruction/idea sheet I included:

 After baby Lillian comes, I’ll try to post a photo of the finished product. I’m also planning to do my own baby shadowbox (better late than never, right?).  I think this is a great gift idea for someone who isn’t necessarily ”crafty” but would adore a keepsake like this.  

 

My New Favorite Paper

I wanted to share my new favorite – and easy – and cheap – use for paper. You can use this for scrapbooking, matting in a frame, mod podge, or any craft you would need paper for.

Open up Microsoft Word (or whatever document program you use), set your margins to narrow, and set your alignment to justify. Copy and paste your favorite song lyrics, type and repeat a name, or write a letter. Alternate fonts for every line or every few words.

For my first craft with this paper idea, I was originally trying to emulate this ornament. It uses actual book pages, so I just changed it up:

 I copied the lyrics from the song “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard (I walked down the aisle to it at my wedding).  I chose just two fonts, Amerigo MD BT and ExPonto Regular, alternating at each comma or natural break in the words. I printed it on leftover wedding paper (linen-style cardstock). Here’s what the page looked like:

 
I cut out different flower shapes and sizes with my Slice machine, layered and glued them, curled the edges by wrapping them with a toothpick, and put a silver brad through the center. Because I didn’t have a tree up yet, I had to find a place to display the pretty flower. So I slapped a magnet on the back and attached it to my refrigerator!

I put the same method to work on my coworker’s shadowbox kit gift (will blog about this soon!), using the little girl’s full name in five different fonts and printing it in pink. Then I cut out various shapes from it.  I plan to do the same thing with my baby’s shadowbox.

I may also use this sheet for my baby’s shadowbox – it has the song lyrics from Taylor Swift’s song “Never Grow Up”:

How else could you use this method?

Beaded Cascade Earrings (Tutorial)

Time out: Let’s do a non-Christmas post!

I made these cascade earrings as gifts for my bridesmaids. They do require patience, tools, and some basic jewelry-making experience. Similar earrings sell on Etsy for $20-50. I spent only a few dollars per pair and even used sterling silver metals.

Supply List:

Chain (I purchased a very dainty strand at Hobby Lobby)
Swarovski 4mm crystals (If you are making only a couple of pairs, buy these at a local beading store for the best deals. If you are making many like I did, purchase in bulk on eBay.)
6mm pearl beads (or smaller)
Standard headpins (I used sterling silver which are a little more expensive, because they were a special gift)
Earring posts or loops (I also used sterling silver findings as I had some bridesmaids with sensitive ears)
Jewelry-making tools: Pliers, Snips/wire cutter, and Round-nose pliers
Stand-alone magnifying glass – this is not necessary but would help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions:

1. Put a crystal on the headpin. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2.  Holding the bead between my index finger and my thumb, I used my thumb nail to manually bend the wire to one side.

3. Using round-nose pliers, pinch the wire at the bend, and wind the wire around the nose to make a loop.
4. Cut the excess wire off and you are left with a loop. Don’t worry about closing the loop yet. Also, don’t worry if your loop looks funny (this one was actually the prettiest loop I’ve ever made…the rest are not this pretty!). I also realized at this point that I should have purchased shorter headpins so there would be less waste.
5. Repeat this process for the remaining beads you need. I used 11 crystal beads and 6 pearls (per earring). This is time-consuming.
6. Cut approximately 1 inch of chain. I have 13 links of chain on mine. (Your first try you may want to add more chain — you can cut it off later.) Attach the earring finding to the end of the chain by opening the loop, hooking it on, and closing the loop with your pliers.
7. On the first chain link closest to the finding, put the first pearl on. Close the loop by pinching it with the pliers. This is where a stand-alone magnifying glass would be nice.
8. Attach a crystal loop to the same loop that holds the pearl. (On the first chain link you now have two beads, one pearl and one crystal.)
9. On the next chain link, attach a crystal loop.
10. Repeat down the chain. I drew up a VERY CRUDE version of my pattern, but you could change it up and the result would be pretty any way you do it. Because the chain itself turns, you do not end up with all pearls on one side – it will naturally fall “right”. You could also add more beads for more of a cluster effect.
11. Make the final pearl on a chain link by itself. Then space out two chain links before you add the final bead. I did this because I wanted it to create an upside-down teardrop effect, and also because the crystals are smaller than the pearls. The final crystal was getting lost in the pearl if I didn’t do that. A suggestion here would be to actually add a LARGE bead as the last one.
12. Done!

Total Time Per Earring:

At first, it took me about 25 minutes PER EARRING. But once I got the hang of it, I was able to get that time down to 15 minutes an earring. 

Suggestions:

If you are purchasing jewelry-making tools, I recommend the full-sized tools as opposed to the mini-tools. The mini tools are great for small projects but they can really hurt your hands when you are doing projects as detailed as this.
You could also use a variety of beads and colors. I think if I were to start over I might use a clear Swarovski crystal. You can also use a variety of sizes. I’ve seen some that use larger beads at the top and smaller beads towards the bottom (or reverse). Also, you could use a pretty bead cap on the end of each pearl to add more detail.
One of my bridesmaids keeps asking me to show her how to make these because she says she wears her purple and silver pair almost every day. :) Here you go, Courtney!

Three of my beautiful friends and their earrings:

Update 8/17/2012

Bridal version, used with extra beads that came with the wedding gown:

Glittered Ball Ornaments: Easiest Project EVER!

Glitter and Christmas just go together, don’t they?

When I moved in with my husband, I “inherited” a beautiful set of Christmas tree ornaments and decor. He had previously purchased a completely decorated tree. However, I am NOT a gold and copper kind of girl. When the tree is all decorated, it’s quite beautiful, so I haven’t done much to change it up. The only issue is that I brought along my – mostly silver – Christmas decor. Silver and gold? I feel like they clash.

This year, I’m determined to find a way to make the silver and golds of my Christmas decor mesh together! I decided I needed more “in-between”  items. Hence, the silvery-gold glitter ribbon on my largest Christmas tree cone. I also started keeping my eye out for some silvery-gold ornaments to add a bridge between the silver and gold colors on the tree. 

Then, Pinterest happened. By the way, I think that will be the new excuse for every new project: “Pinterest happened.” 

You can see the tutorial for these ornaments here

The four things I LOVE about this project:
1) It’s incredibly easy and fast. The hardest part was finding the Pledge Future Shine — they say you have to buy that exact kind, but I’m clueless as to why another floor shine product wouldn’t work.
2) It’s completely customizable: pick your glitter colors and GO! I already had my Martha Stewart glitter pack. You can custom blend colors and create awesome combinations. I love the way my red/copper/gold one turned out.
3) The glitter is on the INSIDE of the ball, so it’s not going to leave a glitter halo around your Christmas tree.
4) They sell the clear plastic balls too, for those of us with children. However, I used glass. Silly me.

I originally bought all the supplies, thinking it’d be a great project to do with the kiddos. While they were showering one night, I decided to do a test run on one ball just to get the hang of it. I could hardly believe how simple and fast it was, and I couldn’t stop! I created all of these within the time frame that the kids were in the shower:

Then I felt bad. So I frantically cleaned up the mess so they wouldn’t know that I did a project without them…but of course, my step daughter came out and saw them sitting prettily on this plate and said, “Did you make those?” I nonchalantly said, “Yes, but I want to make more so we’ll do those next week.” I couldn’t break it to her that I’d had a craftaholic moment and hadn’t included her. Lucky for her, because it was such a fast project I do feel like I need to make some more! :)

Here’s another photo with the flash so you can see the silver-copper-gold combinations a little better:

How much did I spend? Under $15 for 12 ornaments, but the cost will be half that the next time around because I already have the Pledge product and glitter, and only need to purchase new ornament balls. Time commitment? 4 minutes.

This weekend, my husband lamented, “I’m sick of going to work and everyone telling me I have glitter on my face.” Poor fella.

 

 

Christmas Tree Cones

I have more Christmas spirit than I’ve ever had before, and I believe the reason is because this will be my baby’s first Christmas. And I also blame Pinterest. My first Christmas craft this year was decorative Christmas cone trees. Here’s the source of my inspiration, which has been pinned and re-pinned on Pinterest numerous times:

How do you make these beautiful trees? First, find that dunce hat you wore for most of second grade:

Oh, you didn’t save your dunce hat? In that case, follow this tutorial on how to make cones from poster board. (Hint: buy your poster board from the Dollar Store – it’s cheaper, even if it’s only a few cents. I also considered using cereal boxes.) For an alternative, you could use paper plates like this tutorial does, but to me this version actually looks like more work and less perfection. You may be thinking, Psht, who needs a tutorial on how to make a cone? Believe me, if you want your cone to sit straight, you want to follow the instructions!

Or, if you are willing to spend a little more cash, you can buy paper mache cones from a local craft store like Michael’s or online, like the ones here.

After you make or purchase your cones, make sure you try them on as hats first and laugh with your kids. My 4-year-old stepson thought they were great!

What can you cover your trees in? Practically anything. Flat sheets of fabric, bunched up fabric, strips of paper (you could mod podge and glitter!), ribbon, twine, foil, garland, pine cones, rocks, tissue paper, silk flowers – anything you can glue to the cone! What should you use to attach the “stuff” with? I’d say a hot glue gun is your best bet, but you could use spray adhesive if you want a smooth effect, like the inspiration photo.

For the largest tree, I wanted something glittery, a cross between gold and silver. I found this beautiful ribbon at Michael’s. The large cone was the most difficult to do — not only was it the first cone form I made from the poster board, but I had to completely revise how I planned to attach the ribbon. I originally thought, I’ll just wrap the ribbon around it – that will be awesomely easy! WRONG. When you wrap something straight around something cone-shaped, you end up with bunches and weirdness. I wanted it to lay flat, sleek, and smooth. It took a lot of cutting and gluing (and burning my fingers) to do it this way – with the ribbon running vertically – but I like the final product.

For the middle cone, I planned to use up some leftover white satin ribbon and do a similar wrap technique. Well, now that I realized that was a pain in the you-know-what, I had to be creative. I realized I also had some white satin left over from the wedding hairpieces I made for myself and my flower girl (will blog about those in the future!). I cut the satin into long, skinny strips. Starting at the top of the cone, I bunched and glued and bunched and glued, making sure any frayed edges were hidden.

The smallest cone was made specifically the right size to be covered in one piece of 10×10 paper. I found the beautiful, red, velvety-patterned paper at Hobby Lobby (originally $1.99, but of course it was 40% off). It was a very thick paper so I actually used the hot glue gun to adhere it to the cone, carefully cutting off the excess. Here’s a closer look:


I decided the hat/cones needed something extra. So I perused my ribbon drawer and found the silver and gold ribbon that I used as the “garland” around the cones. Voila! I do feel that I could add some more bling, but they’re okay for now.

I placed the white cone on top of  a pillar holder I already owned, and I love the effect. When the Christmas decorations come down, I’ll be able to nest these inside each other and store them.

How much did I spend? Under $8. Time commitment? About an hour.

What will/would/did you use to cover your Christmas tree cones?