Friday, December 20, 2013

Easy Christmas Garland


Happy Friday!  Is school done for your kiddos?  Lil' A has been sick with the flu all week but was able to go to school today for the Christmas party - yay!  Now we have 3. whole. weeks. without school.  3 weeks.  Can anyone hear the desperation in my voice?  What are we going to do for the 3 weeks?  I don't know - I have no clue!  I'm sure it'll be filled with Lego creating and some fun outings... we still haven't seen Frozen, have you?  It's on our to-do list though.

Anyways- today's project is a two-fer.  A two-fer you ask?  Yes - today's project is easy enough for your Little to make while helping their fine motor skills!  a two-fer!  And it's inexpensive.  And cute.  And quick.  So maybe it's a five-fer?  A fiver?  Maybe I should just call it awesome.

Here's what you'll need:
- Striped Paper Straws (I got mine from Target)
- Bakers Twine (or regular twine)
- Wooden Balls with wholes drilled
- Scissors

First you'll want to cut enough twine for where you want to hang your garland.  I was super scientific and grabbed my reel of twine, walked over to the mantle, pulled the string across as far as I wanted, as many times as I wanted and then cut. 

Next you'll want to cut your straws into pieces.  I cut some very short, around 3/4" and others longer, around 2". 

Grab one end of your twine and one of your wooden balls.  Lace your twine through the ball.

Since we don't want the balls and straws to slide right off our twine, lets tie it off.  I re-threaded the twine through the same hole so that it goes through twice.  Then tie off a knot at the end, remember to leave a tail so that you can hang your garland once your done. 

Now just keep going, repeating whatever pattern you want.  I did a wooden ball, long straw, wooden ball, short straw and over and over and over... and over.

Just keep going until you've used all your supplies or until your out of twine/string.  Tie it off at the end the same way you started.


Oh, I almost forgot- the two-fer!  You can let your little do all of the lacing!  Have your Little lace the twine through the balls and straws to help build their fine motor skills!  I ended up wrapping the end of the twine with tape so that Lil' A could lace it through easier, which helped in the frustration department!

That's it!  So easy, I think the project cost me under $3 and I have left over straws for our Cocoa Station!  I love the wood balls, it fits with my more natural look, but if you don't like that, you could always paint them before you string them!

I have a few more projects I want to share so I'll be back Monday and Tuesday before Christmas with some more fun, easy and quick projects for the last minutes before Christmas!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Salt Dough Ornaments


Happy Thursday!

Today I want to share a fun and easy project you can do with a special little kiddo... or on your own, whatever floats your boat.  I, of course, did this project with Lil' A, who's been home with a stomach bug this week and we both had so much fun!  I love the way his turned out, they look so cute on his tree... oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself!  We made...

Don't you love the Moose?  Adam's Moose - bottom right corner - is my favorite!  Want to make a Moose of your own?  Or some cute ornaments to use with your Christmas packaging?  Let's get started then!

Here's what you'll need:
1.  4 C All Purpose Flour
2.  1 C Salt
3.  1.5 C Warm Water (I ended up using closer to 2 C)
4.  Mixing Bowl
5.  Rolling Pin
6.  Cookie Cutters
7.  Silicone Baking Mats or Baking Parchment Paper
8.  Cookie Sheets
9.  Toothpick or Skewer
10.  Bakers Twine, String, Ornaments Hangers
Optional:  Paint, Paint Brush, Viva Paint Pens, Markers, Sharpies, Glitter, Glue


Find the cutest Little EVER.  Have him put on his Gingerbread apron and look cute.  Grab all your supplies.

Mix 4 Cups flour, 1 Cup Salt together in a large bowl.

Slowly pour in WARM water and knead dough, mixing well.

Do you see that face?  The disgusted one?  Ya, my Little does NOT like to get his hands messy.

Once it's all mixed, shape into a ball.  Well, it's kind of a ball...  It's supposed to be a ball... looks more like a clump...

I ended up using 1/2 the dough and saving the other half in an air tight container.  Put the dough on a non-stick surface (add a little bit of flour if necessary) and start rolling it out.

Try to get it around 1/8" thick and as even as possible.  I am not very good at rolling dough so ours was a little uneven...  The dough is super thick, so this part is a good arm work out!

Grab your cookie cutters and start cutting!  Try to position them so that there's not a lot of wasted dough.

Once all your shapes are cut, put them on your baking sheet (I kept them on the silicone baking mats, you can use parchment paper instead) and poke a hole at the top of the shape with either a toothpick or wooden skewer.
Now place them in the oven at 300 degrees for 1 hr.  Check on them at the hour, leave them in a little longer if they're not as hard as a rock.  I was amazed at how our cute little ornaments felt like cement!
Once your ornaments are done and cool, you can start decorating them!  Grab whatever you think you'll want to use: paint, paint brush, glitter, glue, sharpies, Viva Pens, water colors... options are endless!

Now start having fun! 
These will be used with Christmas packaging...  I used the Viva Pens to create the little dots around the edges of the scallop shapes. To make the letters, I used super small letter stamps and pushed them into the dough to leave an impression BEFORE I baked them.

I wasn't sure how detailed to make my Santa.  I ended up using a red Copic Marker to color in his hat, a black Millennium Marker for his boots and the White Viva Pen for his hat and beard.

I painted all of these ornaments with the Tattered Angels Glami Gold Glitter Paint.  I like that it's not a heavy paint, it's pretty sheer, so it gives it a nice sheen while still looking a little rustic.

I painted one of my Moose's with Antique Gold paint on his antlers and feet - I wanted him to have a dipped look, even though I couldn't actually dip him in the container due to his size.

Here's a close up of our forest friends...

Lil' A used water colors to paint all of his ornaments.  I LOVE how they turned out!  The color is so vibrant and fun and I love seeing how his little imagination worked with the different colors he used! 

I had him sign his name on the ornaments he made... I love that the "d" is backwards...

They are so cute on his tree, I love them!!  He does too!  He was so excited today when we were putting the strings on the ornaments that he was ready to make 100 more batches!

These are great little gifts, great time-pieces that we'll always be able to look back on and an inexpensive and fun Christmas décor!

Let me know if you get a chance to give these ornaments a try! 

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kid's Puppet Theater Gift from Oliver+S and the Silhouette Cameo

Good Morning!

If you read my post from Monday, you'll have heard my Christmas Confession.  That I'm lowering my standards for Christmas this year... that I didn't make every gift I'm giving (even though that was kinda my plan and I bought a book to do just that), I didn't decorate like I normally do, didn't make Christmas Cards, keep up with my December Daily (I'm actually pretty bummed about this one), haven't been super great with our Elf on the Shelf (we told Adam that he's like Rango, our tortoise, and gets too cold to move sometimes)...  And that I'm trying to be fine with all of it so that I can enjoy the season instead of stress-out and be super cranky over the season.  No one wants a cranky Christmas mommy!

But, I did make one gift and that's what I'm sharing today!  I LOVE IT; love the way it turned out, love how easy it was to follow the instructions, love that I was able to use my Silhouette Cameo and some Silhouette Heat Transfer Material to make it a little easier for me.

I used the Puppet Theater Pattern and Instructions from Oliver + S Little Things Book (you can find it here)- which is FABULOUS (said in my Oprah voice)! 

I initially bought it for the Hooded Cape Pattern and the Penguin Backpack pattern... like I said, I had big plans to make all of the kids gifts this year, but ended up falling in love with all of the projects!  I decided to make the Puppet Theater for my good friend, M's Little's, for a few reasons - they have a limited amount of space and with the two Little's, I knew that they were already overflowing with toys so I wanted something that was easy to put up, take down and store.  I wanted something that could be for both the Little's, one is a funny little 2.5 yr old boy and the other is a sweet 4.5 yr old girl, something that they could use for years and at the same time and something to take advantage of their awesome imaginations.  The Puppet Theater meet all of my requirements and then some!!

(photo courtesy of Oliver + S)
You use a tension rod to hang the Puppet Theater in a hallway or doorway, which helps make it easy to put up, take down and you can just roll it up to store!  Awesome sauce!
Here's how mine turned out.  The picture is horrible, I know, I'm sorry.  I did take photos with my camera... I just didn't have the memory card in it.  My bad.  So the pics I took with my phone are pretty special... it doesn't help that it was dark outside so I had our lovely yellowish lights on in the hall and dining room.  Anyways - enough disclaimers!!! 
Instead of using a drop cloth like the instructions say, I used a flat sheet for my base.  I was able to take out the top, side stitches where it folds over and make that into the pocket for the tension rod.  I followed the instructions for every thing else tho.  To create my windows, door, flower boxes, etc. I used my Silhouette software, Cameo and Silhouette Flocked Heat Transfer Material.  I created my door, windows, flower boxes, etc per the books measurements.  Once everything was cut, weeded and laid where it was supposed to be, I ironed them on using the instructions on the Heat Transfer Material box.  It was so much fun seeing the little house take shape!

Here's my little guys peeking through the curtains for the puppet theater - I heard a lot of "Is that for us?" and "Let's do a show!" until I dampened their hopes and said "It's not for you guys - it's a Christmas present!".  But I am excited to make one for Lil' A in the shape of a police station for his birthday!  I was even trying to figure out if I could make a reversible one... we'll see what I end up with.
We gave the Puppet Theater with a Melissa and Doug Puppet for each of the Little's.  I gave a princess puppet to the Little Lady and a dragon puppet to the Little Guy- guess I should've made it into a castle instead of a house??  Maybe it's a fairytale set in modern times?  The options are endless with this puppet theater - you can make it exactly how you want it!  And don't worry if you don't have a Cameo and Heat Transfer Material, the instructions call for fabric backed with fusible interfacing to create your windows, door, etc.  I just choose the option that worked best for me!
Oh!!  I almost forgot, if you want to make the puppet theater but don't want to purchase puppets, a hand-mitt puppet project and pattern are included in the Oliver + S Little Things book!  You can literally make everything for an amazing gift of imagination using the same book! Win-win! 
Hope you have a wonderful day!
See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wooden Sign Tutorial


Good Morning!

Are you doing any last minute present shopping or crafting?  If you're looking to combine the two and make a special gift for someone, this post is for YOU!

If you read my post from yesterday, you know that I'm feelin' the wood look this season... and if you follow me on Pinterest, you'll have seen a ton of pins with wood slice cake stands, candle stands, coasters, etc.  So, of course, I took it a step further.  Here's what I ended up with and I'll tell you my other ideas along the way!
So here's what you'll need:
- Wooden Slices found at your Local Craft Store (I purchased mine from Joann's - don't forget your coupon!
- Paint (I used black and white)
- Metallic Sharpies OR Vinyl
- Paint Brush or Sponge Brush
First you'll want to unwrap your wooden slice and wipe it down with a damp cloth.  Let it dry completely and then start painting.  I like to avoid additional mess so I poured paint directly to my wooden slice.

I originally went from the center out with the paint but the second time I made one of these, I made an outline with the paint and then worked from the outside in - I felt like it gave me more control with my edges.  Anyways - paint it however you like and wait for it to dry.  I think I did 2 coats?  The wood soaks it up pretty good!

Now it's up to you... I'll tell you what I did.  I grabbed a white marker (not the sharpie) and did a rough sketch of my wording/branches etc - hoping to then go over my rough outline with the gold or silver metallic Sharpie.  I DID NOT LIKE IT! - my sketch was crap!!  So I painted over it again in black and did another sketch... which was also crap!!!  So I decided to go the vinyl route, creating a cut file with my Silhouette software and cutting different designs from the gold vinyl, applying it to my wood slice and viola!  A cute Christmas décor and/or gift.  But my goal was to freehand it with my Sharpies.
My other ideas are to turn this wood slice into a chalkboard OR paint it, attach a clip to the top of the slice and use it as a picture frame that you can switch out as the mood strikes you!
I LOVE the way these turned out, even though they weren't exactly what I planned on.  If you don't have an electronic die cutting machine but have a hand crank die cutting machine, you can do the same thing with different fonts and shapes.
Hopefully this sparks a creative fire and you breeze your way through any last minute handmade gifts!
Have a great one!

Monday, December 16, 2013

{Partial} Holiday Home Tour


Happy Monday!  And this Monday starts an entire week of posts!  Yay!  This is what me-organized, looks like!  It won't happen again until after Christmas... or New Years to be honest.

Last week I was busy decorating the house.  It took all week, and not because our house is grand or because I did both the outside and the inside, I just wasn't feeling it.  I had my husband get down the boxes from the rafters and they sat there and sat there and sat there.  I figured I should clean the house first - because you should always clean the house before you destroy it?  So that took a day (yes, a DAY).  Then I decided the only way to decorate was to take everything down that I had up - fall décor, plates, cups, junk mail, random school projects -  this makes sense, right?  But for some reason, I liked it that way.  It looked so clean and minimal that I didn't want to put anything else up.  I'm sure I sound bah-hum-bug-ish, I don't feel that way, I feel more like the Grinch when he realized that Christmas came without boxes and bows.  I decided that I didn't need to put out every piece of Christmas décor I owned for it to feel like Christmas.  I also gave up on my idea to make every gift for every child on our list - my goal was to enjoy Christmas, not be so stressed about making it look "perfect" that I was miserable and made everyone around me miserable.

So, here's what I did.  I left all of the boxes in the garage and went through them there.  If I wasn't feeling a certain Santa or Reindeer, I didn't bring it in the house.  I also changed my décor a little - I normally have a white, silver and red them with a little bit of turquoise mixed in but this year I wanted something a little... warmer?  So I decided to add in more greenery, gold and wood.  I LOVE it, my husband loves it and it just feels comfy.

My first inspiration was this wooden Marquee Ampersand I bought at my last Boutique.  It's from Junk Art Gypsyz and I knew it was versatile enough for me to use all year long in different rooms and different ways.  This piece was where the idea of using more nature inspired items, i.e. greenery, wood pieces, came into my head. 

I love the way the mantle came out. I used non-traditional Christmas décor mixed with Christmas goodies.  The wooden Metronome is an Antique that my parents found when I was young.  Once I moved out and took my piano with me, the Metronome came too!  I'd had the mercury candle pillars for years - they make an appearance with every holiday and just hang out and look pretty the rest of the year.  I added a fun snow globe that Adam picked out from Target (Threshold) and one of my vintage cameras with lots of greenery.  I stuck in some picks of bright red berries here and there to make the greenery pop a little more.  Easy, warm and personal.
Once I had it in my head that I wanted to use the ampersand above the mantle, I started thinking of Christmas phrases with "and" in them... Merry and Bright seemed like the obvious choice since the ampersand lights up the room.  I used the Silhouette Premium Vinyl in Gold for my phrase and mixed two different files for the wording, one for Merry and the other file for Bright - I did double check and measure the opening that I wanted my saying so that I'd have the dimensions correct for my words. Once everything was formatted with my Silhouette Studio Software, I cut it out with my Cameo, used the Silhouette Transfer Paper and stuck the wording down.  I hung the ampersand with a nail and stood back with a huge smile on my face!  I love it when a project exceeds my imagination!

The next area I wanted to share is the Dining Room Cocoa Station.  I saw an idea for this on Pinterest and loved it - again, something about a cocoa station seemed cozy to me - so I grabbed a an old tin picnic basket and started from there...

I used a KPS Burlap Runner with metallic gold dots and then started layering from there.  I put out the picnic basket, filled it with greenery and a Santa Plate and continued adding.  I like the mix of fancy-pants mercury and my rustic picnic basket.  I think they play nicely and give my vintage Santa's/Snowmen a good backdrop.  I also used my Reindeer Subway Sign from last year on the buffet - it's one of my favorites and when I couldn't figure out where to put it in the living room, I knew I had to create a spot for it in the dining room.

And last, but not least, is our dining room table.  Normally I strew Christmas items all down the center, but this results in me redecorating it almost nightly after dinner so I went with simple this year, put a glass apothecary in a wooden Coca Cola Crate (I've been "borrowing" it from my Parents for the last 3ish years) covered the bottom with greenery (seems to be the word on the street today), put some snow and a set of Santa & Mrs. Claus Salt and Pepper Shakers inside the glass and called it good... Sorry that Paddy Wagon the Elf is in the photo - he was naughty and was using the Christmas Bunting from the Playroom as a rope to scale the dining room table.  Mischievous Elf.

We have two trees, Adams in the playroom that he decorated all on his own (while I sat on my hands and told myself that it was HIS tree and that it didn't matter if every. single. ornament was on the same 3 branches or not) and our family tree that sits atop our Christmas Train and watching over all the gifts... pretty because they display our memories so nicely.  And, of course, there's a ton of Red Chevron and Turquoise Patterned Pillows covers our couches - courtesy of KPS.

It sure is nice having a store in your office!

I hope you enjoyed our partial Holiday Home Tour and that you decorate (or not decorate) exactly how you want and not by what you think you should do!

Have a good one!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lifestyle Crafts Studio Design Team Project Reveal


It's December.
Did anyone else realize that?
Its. December.
And by extension, Christmas is in 22 days.

I'm still without a computer (do you think Santa frequents blogs?) which makes blogging challenging, to say the least... but I am so excited about the outcome of my 1st Studio Design Team Project that I couldn't wait to share it with you all!  After all, sharing is caring!

Here it is!

For some reason, I knew exactly what I wanted to do as soon as we got the go ahead to create a December project.  I gathered my supplies and started die cutting, and die cutting... and die cutting.

Here's what you'll need to get started:
1.  Evolution
2.  Nesting circle dies (I used the pinking edge circles, but any will do)
3.  Chipboard
4.  Tissue Paper
5.  Adhesive (I used a glue gun but it's up to you)
6.  Paper Trimmer
7.  Cardstock and Patterned Paper
8.  Plates to trace (for snowman outline)
9.  Winter Wonderland Pocket Kit
10.  Flower, Greenery
11.  Dimensional Tape
Let's get started!
After gathering my plates, I taped 3 pieces of 12" chipboard together on both sides.
I then grabbed my largest plate and traced it on the chipboard.
Continuing this until you have 3 sections of your snowman.
This is how mine ended up looking when I was done tracing all of my plates.  I used the two outer rings of the bottom circle for my snowman's body and the top ring for the head.  Don't worry if your rings aren't perfectly even, you'll be covering them up and you won't be able to tell when we're done.
Cut your rings out and lay them out, overlapping  each other, to get your snowman.  Tape your rings together on the front and back.
Now the fun part (not tedious at all) - grab your tissue paper and lay out your dies to see how wide you need to cut your strips.  Go ahead and cut your strips, trying to keep all your layers of tissue together.  I used probably 15 pieces of tissue.
Using your Evolution and platform, start die cutting your circles.  I love that the platform is magnetized so your nesting circles won't move around!  Here's how to use your Evolution - lay your dies face up on your platform.  Lay your material to be cut on top of the dies.  Place your cutting mat on top of both the dies and material you want cut and place into machine, gently pushing it into the opening until you meet a little resistance.  Now start cranking your handle and watch as your platform moves through the machine.  Easy!
Say hello to your die cut circles!  Now repeat until you've cut all your tissue!  This may take a while, but the snowman it totally worth it.
When you're done die cutting, grab your piles of tissue circles, your glue gun (or adhesive) and your snowman so we can start making him all fluffy!
Grab 3 pieces of your tissue circles.
Make a little stack of the and place your thumb in the center.
Gently push down on the center with your thumb so that the edges start curling up.  Once they're concave, grab the center from the bottom and pinch together.
Twist the bottom so that it creates a little flower looking guy.  Twist it nice and tight so that you have a little stem.  This is what we'll be gluing to the chipboard outline.
I liked to put a little bit of hot glue on the chipboard and then stick my tissue to that spot, but you do it how you're comfortable.  Once it's glued on, go ahead and gently pull the different layers apart, giving it more fullness.
Keep going, butting each new tissue flake next to the last one.  Depending on how fluffy you want your snowman, you can leave more or less space between each flake.  I also liked alternating the pinking circles with the regular circle - I thought it would make it interesting.
Just keep pinching and gluing...
pinching and gluing...
Until you have this guy!  Yay!  He's starting to take shape!  Notice how I left a section at the top bare?  This is where I'm going to put my stove pipe hat!
Which we need to make!
Grab your chipboard again and cut 2 rectangles, one measuring 6"x7" and the other measuring 2"x8".  The larger of the two will be the top of your hat while the smaller becomes your rim.  Tape them together with the top piece centered on the rim.  Tape the front and back.
Do the same with black cardstock, but don't bother taping them.
Grab your adhesive and glue your black cardstock pieces to your chipboard pieces.  I used my StickyThumb tape roller for this.
Here's what you'll end up with - don't worry about the seam, we'll cover it up with our hat band (sorry about the glare in the photo, the weather hasn't been supportive of picture taking!).
Now you can start playing!  I cut a 1.5"x6" strip of patterned paper for my hat band and added some washi tape for extra umph (super technical term).  Now, if you know me, you know I like to take out a ton of different elements and just play with them before I glue anything down - sometimes what works in my head doesn't work on paper.
I ended up making a little pocket with coordinating paper and my QuicKutz Pocket die from the Winter Wonderland set.  I grabbed an extra tissue die cut and gathered it behind a paper flower, adding some greenery that I'd dipped in "snow" and sprinkled glitter on.
I also glued some green ribbon to the top of my card that sits in my pocket and then punched a hole through it with my crop-a-dile to add a button
When it came time to glue my hat to my snowman's head, I realized how uneven my surface was.  I didn't want to smooch down the tissue flakes but I knew it needed more of a solid surface if I was going to hang anything from it, so I decided to build up my base before gluing down my hat.
To do this, I cut a long strip of cardboard off a box.  I then cut it into smaller strips that I could glue to my snowman.
Using hot glue, I stacked my pieces of cardboard on each other until I was almost flush with my tissue flakes.
I glued my hat to the cardboard base and viola!  A stove pipe top hat!  I added a little bit of snow to the corners and edges of his hat... he is, after all, a snowman.
I could've stopped there, but what snowman is complete without his scarf (I know, you may have been thinking of practical things like eyes... carrot nose... coal mouth but that's where you went wrong!)?  I cut a 2x36" piece of scrap fabric I had laying around and tied it around his neck, making sure the tails of the scarf were hanging down and facing the right way. 
Doesn't it just make you want to start humming Frosty the Snowman?  Hmm Hmm Hmhmhm...
If the entire snowman body seems a little too much for you, just do the head!  You could use the same basic idea, use a paper plate for his face and just do his face and hat.  You'd even have a solid enough surface to add eyes, nose and mouth! 
That's all for me today!  Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoyed the tutorial as much as I enjoyed making this fun, flaky and cute guy!
Have a great day!