Posts tagged #DIY

DIY Fresh Greenery Arrangement

fresh_greens.png

I love decorating with fresh greens for Christmas. Adorning the house with fragrant sprigs of rosemary, eucalyptus, and evergreen branches *almost* even makes up for the fact that I will never buy another live Christmas tree!
Here is a simple formula for how to create an arrangement of greens, and my one sneaky trick to make it last all season.

 

1. GATHER A SELECTION OF FRESH STEMS OF GREENERY AND BERRIES

fresh_greens-2.png

Most grocery stores sell bunches of seasonal branches at this time of year. You can also ask your local florist for some greens, or forage in the yard. Pine branches, eucalyptus (look for regular, silver dollar and seeded varieties- all are lovely!) and herbs like rosemary and even oregano will round out a bouquet of pine branches. Grab a sprig of red berries for a colorful accent if you wish.

2. GATHER YOUR CONTAINER & SUPPLIES

fresh_greens-3.png

For my arrangement, I used an old candle jar. Let’s be honest...I loved how it smelled but I would have bought it for the jar no matter what the scent was! Sometimes these jars are so pretty it’s just a shame to toss them when the candle is gone. Those are the times I love to convert them into vases. You can put the jar in the freezer for a while to make scraping the candle remnants out a little easier.

I also find it handy—though not absolutely necessary—to place a flower frog in the bottom of the vase. This is a heavy piece that you can buy at craft supply stores. Any stems that have a hard time staying upright or staying where you want them can be poked onto the prongs of the frog and they will stay in place.

Go ahead and fill the vase no more than half full with water and place your frog at the bottom.

3. START WITH THE HEAVIEST GREENS

fresh_greens-4.png

Place the hardy greens, such as pine tree branches in the arrangement first to create a well rounded base. Try to make your arrangement balanced, but not overly symmetrical. As you go along, mentally leave space for a floral bloom toward the front of the vase.

4. LAYER IN THE MORE DELICATE GREENS

fresh_greens-5.png

Once your shape is established by the heavier foliage, add in rosemary, then eucalyptus and so on, dotting the most delicate greens throughout your arrangement.

5. AND NOW, THE SNEAKY TRICK

These greens, especially in water, will truly last all month. Unlike with fresh flowers at other times of the year, it’s wonderful to be able to create this mess only once and be done! However, nothing adds a wow factor like a beautiful bloom. So, my trick is to add ONE (very high quality) faux flower to the vase. I know, I know, faux flowers are a faux pas! But I really believe that if you buy a super convincing one, and surround it with everything else that is fresh, no one will know. So go ahead and bite the bullet and place your single beautiful rose or gardenia or whatever large bloom you choose right there front and center. (And of course, if you can’t bring yourself to do it, then you can just use a fresh rose and swap that one element weekly when you freshen the water).

fresh_greens-6.png

6. LASTLY, ADD BERRIES FOR COLOR

fresh_greens-7.png

This is optional, but I like to tuck a sprig of berries behind the flower for a pop of color. And you’re done!

fresh_greens-8.png

This is especially pretty in a powder room to add a luxurious feel for your guests. Freshen the water every week or two, and this will be something you can enjoy all season!

fresh_greens-9.png

Merry Christmas!

Posted on December 7, 2017 and filed under Building Your Home.

DIY: Floral Relief Artwork

I’ve been smitten lately with some of the new fabrics I’ve seen on the market. Several that have caught my eye have a strong contrasting background with a relief pattern, and I love how fresh and modern they are! I’ve also noticed a lot of watercolors trending, and floral (which are basically ALWAYS trending).

 

I decided to try my hand at combining a few of these trends and make my own easy artwork. Here’s how I did it:

Supplies:

  • Watercolor art paper (any size you wish)
  • Foam paint brushes
  • Single color paint (I used black poster paint)
  • Flowers and leaves (Mine were shrub roses from my garden)

Instructions: 

1.     Lay the petals and leaves flat on your watercolor paper in a random pattern. If something has real trouble laying flat, you can use a tiny swipe from a glue stick, but go sparingly. Remember, you will want it perfectly white when you remove the petals.

2.              Hold your leaves down in place with one hand while dabbing paint around the edges with the other hand. Yes, this is tricky, and you need patience. Go slow. The dabbing motion ensures the leaves won’t move around, but do mix in some brush strokes when possible so that your final product has great paint texture.

3.              You can remove leaves and petals as you go along, or all together once you’re finished. The goal is to paint all the space between the petals and leaves, and then have blank white spots where they were laying.

 4.              That’s it! Let it dry, find a frame or a spot to display, and enjoy!

Posted on September 7, 2016 and filed under Building Your Home.

Where we've become a Family

There are some people that overflow with creativity and ideas… and yet they don’t have the discipline to bring any of their ideas to fruition! Others accomplish much on their to-do list, yet lack innovation to try anything new. My sister-in-law is one of those rare people that is both creative and diligent. She sees inspiration in the mundane. 

I always love going to her house to see the new ideas she has produced to make her house a home. In seven years of marriage, my brother’s military experience and financial career have taken them all over the globe…. moving twelve times!!! When they put down some roots and purchased a home, boy was she happy! However, she still wanted to memorialize all the experiences they shared. She created a wall of maps--one for each place they lived together.  

She is graciously letting me share her great idea with you today. It’s a perfect project: simple, inexpensive, and meaningful.

where_weve_become_a_family-2.png

Materials:

  • Scissors or Exacto knife
  • Maps of locations you have lived
  • Embroidery hoops 
  1. Place the map on top of the inner hoop, ensuring that the map location you lived in is at the center.
  2. Press the outer hoop over the top of the map.
  3. Trim the back, so that the map does not extend past the hoop.
  4. Hang your work up on the wall!

On the center of the wall is a gift a friend gave them. It is a framed map of the world, including colored pins. Red pins mark the places they have visited together, a blue pin marks the next place they plan to travel to, a yellow pin marks their favorite destination, and green pins point to their dream destinations. I think this would be a simple DIY project as well! It is a great conversation piece, and a great reminder to share these experiences with children.

I will leave you with my favorite verse concerning geography:

Acts 17: 26 (ESV) And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.

Our God is so incredible! He is over all things, and yet He cares about the details of each one of us!

Posted on August 10, 2016 and filed under Building Your Home.

DIY Stroller Restoration: Making Used Baby Gear Look New

DIY_Stroller_Restoration.png

When I was pregnant with my first child, one of my best friends was having her second child. She was going through the stroller transition, and came across a fantastically flexible stroller. She shared with me that in hindsight, she wished she would have ordered this stroller from the beginning as it would work as a single stroller too.

I began to look into it, and though it was pricey, I decided it was smart to invest in one stroller from the get-go instead of buying two (or more) in a short time span. A new stroller of this model was over $700! Yikes! I did a lot of searching and found it on ebay, new and only $400. It also included the extra seat. We decided it was a worthwhile investment.  

We have had the stroller for 5 years now. Long gone are the days we used it to stroll with our first baby.

DIY_Stroller_Restoration-2.png

It has been used to travel across the country, in apple orchards, in forest preserves, in malls, at grocery stores, in libraries, at the zoo, and on countless neighborhood walks.

DIY_Stroller_Restoration-3.png

And when we added a third child under three to our family, we found a way to add a third seat.

DIY_Stroller_Restoration-4.png

The stroller has been well worth its price tag, and it is still in great condition, but despite my best stain-treating efforts, the pale gray seats remain soiled from dirty shoes and snack remnants. (I really wish I would have ordered the model with black seats now. I guess I thought that seemed too hot for babies at the time!)

DIY_Stroller_Restoration-5.png

The other day I had the idea to use a fabric spray paint on the stroller to cover the stains. Whether we keep it, or I try to sell it, I want it to look nice. A year ago, when I was hoping to make my living room look more modern, a friend suggested that I paint my taupe lampshades with a black fabric spray paint. They turned out so great! It was simple and inexpensive so I figured a similar product would work well for the stroller restoration! I used a Midnight Black Upholstery Spray Paint from my local craft store. It was a little tricky to find, so I’ll let you know it was in the “wearables” section. I used a 40% off coupon and bought a can. I was thrilled that my “new stroller” was only going to cost $6.45! However, once I started painting, it was clear it was going to take a few more cans, so I had to go back and buy two more at $9.99. My stroller has lots of fabric, and two large canopies, so it probably required more paint than an average model. I would suggest using a coupon and buying a few cans right off the bat.

  1. Begin by laying down a tarp or large piece of cardboard in an open air space.
  2. Remove the seats from the stroller if possible.
DIY_Stroller_Restoration-6.png

3. Remove every strap or contraption you can! Take a picture if you need so you can remember how to reassemble it later!

4. Follow the can's directions for painting. The brand I used recommended that you use a cloth to blend if the paint flow got too heavy, so I did that at times.

5. Let the stroller dry for a few hours.

6. Come back and add additional coats as needed. I was so surprised to see how much the paint soaked into the fabric. Areas that were jet black upon application, turned a medium shade of gray. If I had known how much it would soak in, I would have considered doing a lighter coat. Since I had already sprayed heavily on some areas, I needed to be consistent and paint the whole thing black. It required three full cans of paint.

7. Let it dry. I recommend waiting a few days if possible. I didn’t want my little ones to inhale fumes, so I chose to be patient on this step. However, the paint was completely dry the next morning.

8. (Optional) Use steel wool to gently brush off any buttons or attachments that may have gotten smudged with paint.

9. Use a black (or matching colored) Sharpie to fix any small crevices the paint missed.

10. Reassemble the stroller!

DIY_Stroller_Restoration-7.png
DIY_Stroller_Restoration-8.png

And it appears it is easier to paint a stroller than to make both of your kids look at the camera! I am pleased with how new the stroller looks, and I’m excited to hit the trails again!

Posted on June 22, 2016 and filed under Building Your Home.

How to fold a towel

Have you ever wondered how catalogs and retail stores have such perfectly folded towels gracing their covers and shelves? There is a simple formula I learned in my days as a stylist for a high end home retailer, and I’m going to share it with you!

 

Rather than bore you with a long-winded set of scary instructions, I’ve made a simple infographic you can pin and revisit with ease. (Because seriously, you are apparently already folding laundry so I’m not here to make your day even worse.)

Get ready to rock your linen closet.

Now your average stack of towels needs no more coddling than this. But a few of you were actually brave enough to install open shelving in your bathroom, and you genuinely want to know how to have PERFECT towels.

For those of you, I will tell you these additional pro tips.

  • Consistency is key. You are looking for stacks of towels that have perfectly spaced, perfectly horizontal lines when you stack them. Poke some; squish others, until they are all uniform in thickness.
  • That little stripe down the outside edge of the towels is called a dobby. Make sure its edges form straight lines from one towel down to the next when you stack them.
     
  • Create the stack of towels before you place them, and set them on the shelf all at once, rather than placing one towel at a time. This keeps them more uniform.
     
  •  Run your fingers along the inside creases so there is no bunched up fabric as you fold.
     
  •  Smooth the wrinkles out at every step in the folding process. Here is where you’ve decided I have a compulsive disorder and you’re never doing this. But trust me, just smooth the wrinkles and it makes all the difference in your end result. Two seconds. You can do it.

And that’s all there is to it. Easy right? Happy folding!

Posted on April 13, 2016 and filed under Building Your Home.

Simple, Sentimental Pillowcase Apron

A few years ago I was shopping at a flea market, and I spotted two adorable pillowcases. They were only a dollar apiece, so I bought them for a rainy day project. I thought they would make a very cute apron. Well, they sat on the shelf for way too long. I uncovered them this week and decided to finally make that apron.

 

It was very simple, even for this novice seamstress. Perhaps you’ve seen the idea before; I am sharing it here because I think this is a perfect use for pillowcases from your daughter’s previous bedding. Kids grow up so fast and move on to the next stage, and sometimes our nostalgic mothers’ hearts want to freeze the season while they are little. Wouldn’t it be great to take some of those sweet patterns and place them in the kitchen to remember… and perhaps even use to cook with your daughter as she grows? Making matching aprons would be very simple. I did not include measurements for a child’s apron because that would depend greatly on your child’s age and size. I would recommend looking on Pinterest for sizing of that. You could also use pillowcases from bedding passed down from your grandmother or mother. What a special way to preserve memories of your family!

This is also a great gift idea. I made the one pictured here for my mom’s birthday.
Last year I wrote a post about using my dad’s dress shirts to make pillows for my sons.
I still had some portions of fabric left over, and I wanted to include a section on her apron. These pictures show the shirt collar attached to the waistband of the apron. If you decide not to include the collar, simply keep your ribbon in one piece and sew it to the waistband by itself.

(Side note: As I mentioned, I am a novice seamstress. I am not claiming these directions will give you a flawless, store-bought-looking apron. If you would like more elaborate instructions, Pinterest will be a better option for you. :)  As with most of my tutorials, I give somewhat loose directions because I want you to be inspired to be as creative as possible, not necessarily to copy me. If you are still interested in a homemade version, read on!)

Materials Needed:

1 pillowcase (2 if you are making one for you and one for a child)
55-60 inches of 1 ½ to 2-in wide ribbon
pins
sewing machine or needle and thread
Optional: collar from a dress shirt, additional rickrack, ribbon, buttons, pockets, or pom-pom ribbon to add embellishments

Time: 20-45 min. (depends on the embellishments you include)

Directions:

1.    Cut the pillowcase along the seam, leaving it in one large piece.
2.    Cut out the shirt collar and/or embellishments needed.

3.    Iron the fabric.
4.    The hem of the pillowcase will be the bottom of the apron. Cut the width to be 25 inches.
5.    Next cut the height of the fabric to 18 inches.

6.    Fold the fabric over about half an inch on each side, but not the top yet. Sew these down to create a new seam. (The bottom hem won’t need to be sewn.)
7.    Now fold over the top of the fabric, about 1 inch.
8.    Fold slight gathers, and pin them down. You can do more dramatic pleats or gathers if you like —a I opted for a loose version.

9.    Cut your ribbon to 55 or 60 inches, depending on your waistline. To determine, just wrap around your waist and tie a bow behind your back. Cut off the ends and untie.
10.    If using the shirt collar, this is the point you pin it to the pillowcase, with the ribbon passing under it. (The stiff portion will be the section shown on the front of your apron. It will just be a flap that sits on the top of the apron. The lower portion will be sewn onto the top seam of the apron. You will not see this section once the collar is folded down.) If you are not using the collar, pin the ribbon to the front of the apron. This will go over the top of the pillowcase fabric, so it adds a fun embellishment and covers up any unruly seam-sewing!
11.    Sew the ribbon to the pillowcase fabric. Remove the pins just before the fabric passes through the machine.
12.    I also added a small ribbon on top of the collar as my last step.

Happy sewing….and reminiscing!

Posted on August 5, 2015 and filed under Building Your Home.

Big City Bakery Birthday Bash

little elliot, big city theme birthday party

Want a guaranteed, simple, adorable way to decorate for a party? Start with a cute item and find a way to combine or group it. And what’s cuter than a cupcake liner?! I had seen a picture or two of cupcake liner garlands, but until I set about creating them, I had no idea how simple they could be. Seriously, they are mindlessly basic!

You can make these while watching a little TV or supervising the kiddos. 

I just threw a First Birthday Bash loosely based on the sweet new children’s book, Little Elliott, Big Cityby Mike Curato, for my youngest son. This picture book features a tiny, unnoticed elephant in New York City in the 1940s...and he’s in search of cupcakes! Such a cute story, I had to capitalize on it!  I made TONS of these cupcake liner garlands to zigzag between the archways, and drape from the banisters in the foyer of our home. A dramatic, festive entrance was created for the guests. Regardless of how you hang the garlands, I really couldn’t encourage you more to give this a try!

DIY cupcake liner garlands

A month before the party, every time I would run an errand, I would search the store for cute cupcake liners. After about five stores I had a great, colorful variety to work with. I also purchased a pack of coffee filters from the dollar store. Lots of online stores sell cupcake liners, but I really don’t like paying shipping if I don’t have to, and I couldn’t find one retailer with enough choices, so I did my searching in person. 

Materials Needed:

Cupcake Liners
Coffee Filters
A needle
String 
Elmer’s Glue
Scissors

how to make a cupcake liner garland

There are so many variations of garlands to make! I started out making thick strands. For this method, you can count on using 11 liners per foot of string. Begin by deciding how long you want your garland to be. Cut the string to that length, adding a foot or two so you have extra string to hang the liners. Thread the needle. You can arrange the liners in a completely random order, or you can use a pattern. I alternated solid liners with patterned, and I did try to vary the color. Stab the needle through the center of the bottom of a liner. Select the next liner. You will thread this one through in the opposite direction (still threading the center of the bottom). Using this back-to-back method, the liners will stay separate, and they will slide up and down the string easily. On some of the garlands I inserted coffee filters, resulting in fuller-looking decor. Every so often slide the liners to the end (leave the last 6-12 inches empty for the hanging space). Continue until your garland is full. 

cheap party decorations DIY

Another option is to create a flat, banner-style garland. This method involves flattening and folding your liners in half. Consider alternating between coffee filters and cupcake liners. You can even glue cupcake liners on top of the filters. 

coffee filter garlands DIY

Another option is to create a flat, banner-style garland. This method involves flattening and folding your liners in half. Consider alternating between coffee filters and cupcake liners. You can even glue cupcake liners on top of the filters. 

cupcake liner garland

Here are a few other fun elements from the party:

*Cherry blossoms and a simple, effective sign adorned the food table.

DIY party decorations

*Most of my work went into this table. My husband said I should include a tutorial for the  painted cardboard buildings, but they were created through trial and error...not a scientific process, so I’ll spare you the details! I also made four types of cupcakes to make it feel like a real bakery. The smash cake was decorated with simple fondant buildings.

DIY party decor

*I also placed a chalkboard easel with the bakery menu beside the front door. In addition I used acrylic paint to create a bakery sign on the glass of our front door. I wanted the guests to be aware of the theme before they even entered. 

*And the top question for every first birthday party: How did the guest of honor like their cake?? Well, he started out timid, but as the guests started focusing on their own desserts, Everett had the ultimate cake smash!

giant cupcake smash cake

Check out another "book-inspired" birthday bash here.

 

Posted on April 22, 2015 and filed under Building Your Home.