Seasonal Wreaths

Updated May 2018: For my final ‘quarterly’ wreath, I’ve made something to take my door from Memorial Day to Labor day. These are probably two of my top holidays, as I love how they bookend the summer. Also, it probably helps that the hubs’ birthday is right by Memorial Day and mine is right by Labor Day, so those are also a nice way to kick off and then finish a great summer.

My theme is red, white and blue (Americana, if you will). Most of my supplies were Dollar Tree acquisitions (the red/white/blue stars, the ribbon at the bottom, the silver star garland). Come to think of it, the wreath was the only thing I didn’t get there. Anyway, as always, I laid out the wreath first and then we back through to glue everything in place. Here’s the final product:

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Update March 2018: I hate overly long blog posts where there is endless scrolling, pictures and ads. So, I’ll be brief. If you haven’t read the below, I’m a (relatively) new homeowner and have decided I want to be a ‘door wreath person.’ To minimize the number of wreaths I need to store year round, I’ve identified 4 types of wreaths that will get me through all the seasons and holidays in a somewhat neutral way.

You can see my Fall and Winter wreaths below. Today Spring has sprung and I’m excited to share my March/April/early May Spring/Easter wreath. To start, I selected an oval shaped grapevine wreath. I was tickled to find this at Joann Fabrics as I thought it would lend well to the season and holiday.

I knew I wanted to go with pastels for the color scheme. I found the cat tails and green balls at the Dollar Tree, which is what ultimately led to me choosing a yellow base flower and white accents and finishing it off with a pale blue ribbon. Don’t be afraid to mix and match types and styles. Let’s be serious – if someone walks up to your door and thinks ‘This wreath is a real mashup of flowers from different terrains and seasons.” you probably shouldn’t worry too much about what they think. Clearly they don’t understand creative liberty.

Anyhow, here is the wreath. With all of my projects, I start by laying out my materials and staging the craft. I then like to take a photo of the final product before I pull it apart to build it. The left is my staging (sans ribbon) and the right is the wreath in action!

 

Original Post: I was never a fan of door wreaths – I think it’s because my mom never had them on our front door growing up, so I just always thought they were unnecessary (similarly to yard flags). Anyhow, now that I’m a homeowner, I decided to make 4 wreaths to hang year round:

  1. Fall (mid-September through end of November) – see below for my Fall wreath
  2. Winter / Christmas (December through mid-March) – see below for my Winter wreath, along with two other examples, one of which is more ‘Christmas’ than ‘Winter’ if you like a wreath for every holiday
  3. Spring (mid-March through mid-May) – to be created; I’m envisioning something that feels like Spring / Easter with pastels and some light-hearted decorations
  4. Summer / USA (mid-May through mid- September) – to be created; this wreath will be red, white and blue to honor the summer holidays of Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day

When creating any type of wreath, I would highly encourage to follow the below steps:

  • Figure out the ‘top’ of the wreath – place the bare wreath on your hanger (try Command Strips Wreath Hanger) and see how it naturally lays. Mark the top of the wreath so you know where to place your decorations in line with the way the wreath falls.
  • Lay your wreath on a flat surface and start the design process. Don’t get frustrated and try things in different places. I also find it helps to look at other wreaths on Pinterest to get an idea of how to lay it out. Make sure it feels balanced on both sides / top and bottom.
  • Start at the base of your decor and built up. It’s always easier to glue something on top than to try to dig down layers and glue something underneath something else. I would recommend hot glue for wreaths – it does a nice job of sticking to anything and is good at dripping in between the twigs of the wreath to create a strong bond.
  • Don’t overthink it! Sometimes, when I spend too much time staring at a project, I have to walk away because I start to obsess over the most ridiculous things. Take the time to make it right, but don’t go overboard. Otherwise, you could end up screwing up a really good thing!

For my Fall wreath, I started with a 12″ grapevine wreath. I used a big flower from Joann Fabrics (the cream), along with some little glittery pumpkins and spirals and fall colored ribbon I picked up on their Halloween clearance (which, oddly enough, was available BEFORE Halloween). I also snagged a bag of pine cones, which pulled double duty between my Fall and Winter wreaths. Finally, I purchased a wooden S (for my last name….I’ll never tell!), also from Joann Fabrics, and then used some glittery leaves I had left over from another project (these were from the Dollar Tree, my main spot).

FallWreath

For my Winter / Christmas wreath (far left), I again started with a 12″ grapevine wreath and used some fluffy ball decorations and a hanging snowflake ornament from Dollar Tree. The rest flowers and silver balls are also Dollar Tree scores. The pine cones were leftover from my Fall wreath and the green leaves / brush came alongside the flowers I purchased. All in all, this wreath probably cost $10 tops. The middle and far right wreaths are products of my niece, who seems to have been bitten by the same creative bug as me. You’ll see more of her work popping up across the site soon. For the middle wreath, she kept it more simplistic and classic with a grapevine wreath base pre-built with tree brush and pine cones. She added a pretty, plaid ribbon, some small red berry picks, red flowers and a hand-painted white ‘K’ to round it out. The far left wreath, much more ‘Christmas’ than ‘Winter’ was a gift she made for her grandmother and is made entirely out of ribbons and various red and green picks. She used a foam circular base to build the fun ribbon creation.

ChristmasWreaths

Check out the featured image for a easy, space saving way to store your extra wreaths when they aren’t adorning your door!

Q4 Craftiness

Credit where credit is due – I saw a version of this on pinterest and have since created both a copy cat and bastardized version. This is a fun project to make for your own home, or for those of your loved ones. It’s a relatively simple project with just a few required materials (all of which are pretty cheap). And BONUS, it is a decoration for both fall AND winter. Gotta love a good 2-for-the-price-of-1.

Materials:

  • Wood pieces (for the Happy Fall / Let It Snow set, I used 2×4 boards cut into two 6″ sections, two 4″ sections and one 5″ section; for the Happy Autumn / Believe set, I used 2×2 boards cut into two 5″ sections, one 6″ section and five 4″ sections)
  • Sand paper
  • Paint (in whatever colors you want to use – I used primary colors only and mixed all the rest, like brown, orange, etc.)
  • Paint brushes & pallette or equivalent
  • Paint markers (optional) – I used a few paint markers throughout this project to make some of the letters easier; Specifically, I used paint markers for all of the Autumn / Believe letters and the black and silver on Snow

First, figure our your design. If you want to go with a different message, get creative with how to split the letters, how many blocks to use, and how to arrange the pieces. Then, cut all your boards and make sure they fit nicely together and are smoothly sanded. Since you’re creating a double sided decoration, you really need to make sure they’re evenly sanded on all sides.

After you’ve prepped the wood, cover all the blocks in white paint all the way around. This will give you a nice even base to start with and will ensure you have clean lines at the top, bottom and sides (especially if your wood has rounded corners). Once the white has dried, you can mix up your colors and paint the blocks accordingly. *TIP, try to pick something that goes with your house decor while still keeping in line with the holiday color scheme.

Finally, once you’re SURE that the paint has COMPLETELY dried (at least 24hrs), go back through and start to add the letters. If you’re using paint and a brush, I would recommend using a white colored pencil to sketch out your letters. This can also be a good idea even if you’re using paint markers. Then, let that dry and voila, a beautiful new, custom decoration for your house that will last you through ~6 months of the year, depending on where you live!

HappyFallLetItSnow

BelieveHappyAutumn

Home Command Center

This is a simple craft that has really helped me stay organized in a few different ways. It has allowed me to keep track monthly events, weekly meal plans, daily to do lists and even upcoming items or other important information to have handy. It’s very easy to create – you just have to start with the right base of materials. I used a 21″ x 15″ marker board that has a cork board edging. It came with a couple of magnets, some magnet clips, and four magnetic dry erase markers with erasers on the ends. To supplement the base board, I’ve added two magnetic notepads – one has rows for each day of the week (I use this to plan my meals) and one is a combo notepad with perforation in the middle – the left side is rows with the days of the week (where I write my weekly to dos by day) and the right side is a shopping list (where I write my grocery list once I make my meal plan). Below are the instructions for how I went about setting up the board.

  1. Decide your main division of space. I knew I wanted to have part calendar, part free space for my notepads and the markers to hang. I decided to do a little over half the width as the calendar – my exact split was 13″ calendar, 8″ free space. I marked the dividing line at the top and bottom and then used a permanent black marker to draw the line. *Tip, you can use whatever color marker you want – I used black because the dry erase markers I have are various colors. When you erase dry erase marker, your permanent market lines will (mostly) stay. (After a few months, you may need to redo your permanent lines because applying dry erase marker over permanent marker and then erasing (on a dry erase surface) removes the permanent marker too – good thing to know if you ever accidentally use a permanent marker!)
  2. Plan your calendar spacing. I wanted to divide the height into 7 spaces – one larger for the month, one slimmer for the days of the week, and 5 equal height for the weeks. For the width, I wanted to do the same thing, but with 7 equal columns for the days of the week. Since I had a total of 13 by 15 to work with, I divided the width (13″) into seven 1.85″ spaces and the height (15″) into one 2.5″ space (for the month), one 1.25″ space (for the days of the week) and five 2.25″ spaces (for the weeks in the month). *Tip, I didn’t carry my columns to the very top so I’d have a nice open space in which to write the month and year. I marked all my lines at the top and bottom – be sure to mark using a ruler the SAME WAY at the top of the board as at the bottom, otherwise you will end up with crazy crooked lines! After marking everything, I began drawing the lines working from one side to the other.
  3. Add the days of the week in the appropriate boxes using permanent marker.
  4. Finally, you’re ready to add the final details. This includes the Month and year and the individual dates. Be sure to use dry erase for this so you can easily change each month. Then, add any of your accessories to the open side and any additional important information around the edges. In the below picture, you can see I don’t have my magnetic notepads up yet, but instead I have some random notes in my open space.

Punch-A-Present

This is a throwback post. I’m probably going to have a few of these over the next week or so because I’ve recently gone back through old photos and found a lot of crafts I’ve done or parties I’ve thrown. Also, I have a few ‘irons in the fire,’ so to speak, with different ongoings in my daily life, so until those are post-ready, I’m bringing out some old goodies.

Punch-A-Present was something I decided to create for my husband’s birthday one year. I can’t really remember why, but well, it’s me and I like to do weird stuff for fun. So, the concept of Punch-A-Present is this – you punch into a hole that has slip of paper inside that leads to a prize. Whatever you find behind the hole is what you get. If you’ve ever seen The Price is Right, this should sound familiar to you, like the game called Punch-A-Bunch. Unlike in that game, you only punch one hole at a time. You could use this craft in a few ways. As I said, I used it with my husband by purchasing 6 individual gifts (you could do whatever $$ or type of gift you wanted – even like individual packs of his favorite snacks, etc.), numbering them, and then putting a number (1-6) behind each hole on the board. He then got to punch one hole a day to claim whatever gift matched the number behind the hole. You could also use this to award prizes randomly (bridal/baby shower, in a classroom, at a children’s party) or as part of a game night to pick clues for things (same concept as on Jimmy Fallon when they play Pictionary).

Materials:

  • Tri-fold board (I usually pick mine up from my local Dollar Tree – it’s my jam, if you haven’t noticed)
  • Fun colors of tissue paper (or not, ya know, whatever you want to do)
  • Sticky notes
  • Marker
  • Scissors or Exacto knife + cutting mat
  • Cup or bowl with the circle size you want for your holes
  • Pencil
  • Tape (ideally something stronger than scotch, but not as strong as duct – masking, maybe?)

Layout your board. This step includes a few sub-steps:

  • Add your title – I kept it simple with ‘Punch-A-Present’ but you can write whatever you want….or…nothing at all! I recommend starting with this step for two reasons. 1. I find it easier to write on a smooth flat surface and 2. I like to base the spacing of the rest of my board on how much room is left after my title, rather than trying to fit my title in after the fact.
  • Trace & cut your holes – The trick for getting good, evenly sized circles is to trace. Find a cup or bowl that has the right size mouth and trace (in pencil). Once all your circles are laid out, you can go back through and use your scissors or Exacto knife to cut them out. Make sure to move your cutting mat as needed to avoid ruining your work surface!

Add the tissue paper. I used 6 different colors, but you could absolutely use all the same color or more of a theme. Fold your tissue paper into squares that just cover the circles with a little overlap around the perimeter. You will want to make sure you have a few layers of paper for each circle so you can’t see through, but not too many layers that it’s hard to punch through! Then, tape around the edges of the square. Be sure to tape it securely, otherwise the excitement of the punch will be lost when the fist doesn’t bust through, but instead pulls the whole thing off.

Prepare your presents. Once you’ve got your prizes or gifts ready and wrapped, use sticky notes to number them 1-6. Then, on the inside of the tri-fold side flaps, label the spaces next to the holes with sticky notes with numbers 1-6. (In my version, I made things a bit more complicated by adding little shelves on the back of the board under each row of holes. This is where I placed my numbered sticky notes so they could easily be found through the hole. This approach also gave the setup more stability, so you could go this route if you wanted. I used some foam board pieces from a sheet I bought at the Dollar Tree. I cut it into slices the same width as the main portion of the tri-fold and about the same depth as the flaps. I then used a bunch of tape to put them into place. Basically, I taped the edges of each shelf to the outer wings and taped the back of the shelf to the back of the section with the holes.) Once you’ve got your numbers in place, you’re ready to play!

I have to say, even this may seem corny or juvenile, it’s a super easy way to make someone special feel just a little bit more special / have just a little bit more silly enjoyment in life. Just go for it!

 

Custom Coffee Cups – Cats

I’m toying with the idea of making this into a series of sorts and doing other custom coffee cups applying different techniques than those used in this post. Let’s hope I do it – I guess you’ll have to come back to find out (if you’re into coffee cup crafts, that is…). This craft is pretty easy if you just take your time, relax and enjoy the experience. I made a few of these for Christmas for my siblings-in-law since we decided to not exchange gifts this year. I thought’d it’d be a fun way to still give them something to open. Plus, I filled them with candy, so they were an easy hit. The below design is for a cat face, but you could customize for any animal face (or design, really). I even made one cup that was a deer face and neck for a hunter we know.

Materials:

  • Clear coffee cup (I found mine at the Dollar Tree)
  • White scrap paper (5.5″ x 8″ approximately)
  • Permanent marker (I used black)
  • Paint set with appropriate colors (I got mine from the Dollar Tree with red, blue, green, yellow, black, brown and white)
  • Paint brush
  • Mod Podge (Dishwasher safe)
  • Pencil

First, take the paper and put it inside the cup and press it against the side where you want to put the image (consider which hand your user will drink with if you want to do a face design). Mark the edges of your coffee cup ‘canvas’ (aka the design area of the cup) on the paper so you know how big to make your design. Then, draw your design (cat face, deer face, etc.) within that area of the paper. I looked at a couple of different photos for mine and did some editing to my drawing before I was ready to put it onto the cup. Once you’re happy with the design, put the paper back into the cup with the design pressed against your ‘canvas’ side and trace the design onto the cup using the permanent marker.

Once your design is on, you want to paint. I had two different colors to do – white and pink, so I used my batch assembly approach and drew on all of my cups, then painted all the cups with white and then the pink paint (which was a blend). You may have to do a couple of coats of paint to get the desired opaque. Once your paint is FULLY dry (I did this over 2 days, I think) go over any areas with your permanent marker, as needed.

The final step is to Mod Podge over the whole area. I used my clear dishwasher safe Mod Podge from my Photo Coasters post. You want to apply 2-3 coats of Mod Podge so that your user doesn’t have to worry about throwing the cup in the dishwasher (because NOBODY likes hand wash only items).

Voila!

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

Christmas 2016, although technically my 2nd Christmas in our new home, was the first year I actually decorated and set out presents (we moved in 4 days before Christmas in 2015). Normally, I buy some cute / festive wrapping paper and just pick out a few patterns or designs that I like and go for it. This year, I decided to do something a little bit different. If you’ve read my post about Thanksgiving crafts, you’ve learned about my giant and mysterious roll of brown paper that I found in the attic of my old house. I used that same role for ALL of my Christmas gifts (and still have a huge amount of paper left – it’s crazy). Since this was my first year decorating, I wanted to have stylized wrapping for the gifts under my tree. And, since we have four kitties who LOVE to eat curling ribbon, I am a bit restricted in what I can put on gifts that I’m going to set out. Therefore, due to a combination of factors, I landed on the below wrapping design this year:

Materials:

  • Plain paper (you don’t have to use brown- you could use any matte paper color you find – so long as you can find a complimentary ink color, of course!)
  • Stamp ink – I used a combination of red, green and black (I bought a multi-pack with these colors)
  • Letter Stamps – I got a great deal on my set by using a 40% off one item coupon
  • Ribbon – I used a variety of designs with the same general color scheme; see below for my thoughts on the best size/type to use

As I’ve said before, I find the most effective way of doing things to be the batch assembly (unless you have others involved and then the assembly line is my preference). So, to start, I would pick a group of gifts I wanted to wrap, go through and wrap them all in brown paper, and then choose what ribbon to use for each. Each ribbon has a coordinated stamp color that I liked to use, so I would batch the same type of ribbon and color of ink to avoid having to clean the stamps a bunch. In selecting ribbon, I found the following things to be true:

  1. 1/2″ thick satiny ribbon is probably the best, even with designs on it. It’s easy to tie and make pretty bows with. You will need to spend a little bit of time to get the bows right, but once you do, they’ll stay in place really well, which is helpful when you need to transport gifts to other places
  2. Glittery ribbon is a pain in the butt. You won’t see this in any of my photos because it was the hardest to work with and get it to look good. I would not buy this ribbon again for future projects.
  3. Really thick (2-3″) wired ribbon can also be a great choice, but use for smaller gifts because it takes a lot of ribbon and it can be more expensive than other thinner ribbons

I hope you’ll give this design a try!

Treeandgiftwrap

Photo Coasters

This is a classic craft that you can find a lot of places and one that I find works great in a pinch, especially around the holidays. It’s very simple to put together and requires cheap and easy to find materials, some of which you probably already have in your craft room/area/toolkit.

Materials:

  • Mod Podge – I like to use the dishwasher safe Mod Podge for this one so I can wipe down the coasters without worrying; it looks pricey, but I’ve had the same bottle for 10+ projects and still have about half a bottle left!
  • Plain white 4″x4″ tiles – I usually go to Home Depot to get mine – they run about $0.20 -$0.40/tile, so a decent size set of coasters is still super cost effective
  • Cork – I like to line the tiles in a cork bottom to protect whatever your coasters may be sitting on; this cork has a nice grid backing which makes cutting perfect and consistent squares a cinch
  • Printed photos cut to 4″ x 4″ – I’ve found that the online ordering at Target is the easiest/cheapest/quickest when I’m using photos from my phone
  • Hot glue & gun
  • Alcohol and paper towel/cotton ball/equivalent

First things first – you need to choose your photos. This will determine the number of coasters you want to make and therefore the amount of supplies you need for the rest of the project. I like to gift coasters in sets of 4, but I have actually done a gift set of 5 (it was photos of the couples in one family). I have a set of 8 coasters because my dining table has 8 seats. Anyhow, my point is – you can do whatever you want – just determine that up front. When you’re choosing photos, make sure you consider the amount you will have to crop the photo. When you print at somewhere like Target, your photos will come out as 4″x6″, so you’ll need to crop out 2″ from the longer side. This is especially important for photos with faces – you don’t want to have to crop out a forehead or chin.

Once you have your cropped photos and other materials, the first thing to start with is the cork bottom. Use the grid lines on the paper backing to cut out the appropriate size square to cover the bottom of the tile, leaving a little bit of room around the edges so it doesn’t overlap the sides. You should cut one cork square for each tile. Once all your cork is cut, then you want to start applying. Flip all the tiles over and use your hot glue and gun to apply the cork to the bottom. Don’t forget to remove the paper backing to reveal the sticky side of the cork. The hot glue acts as an extra bond to ensure the cork doesn’t come loose, especially since the bottom of the tile isn’t smooth.back of coaster.jpg

**Note, I can’t stress enough how batch working is the way to go when doing crafts, especially when you have repetitive actions like cutting out a certain number of the same thing and applying a step to multiples. This type of organization will save you time and stress and will also ensure your creations are made consistently.

Once all your cork bottoms have dried, flip your tiles and use your alcohol and paper towel/cotton ball/equivalent to clean the top of the tile. Rubbing alcohol is fine – you really just need to remove any oil / hair / finger grease from the area where you’ll be applying the Mod Podge, which is the whole top of the tile. Once you’ve alcohol’d all tiles, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to each and place your pictures on each. I like to use a tissue or equivalent to place between the picture and my fingers so I can press down the whole area of the photo without leaving a bunch of fingerprints. Just be careful not to get the tissue stuck to the Mod Podge! Allow your Mod Podge layer to dry for a few hours and your picture to set into place. Apply 1-2 additional thin layers of Mod Podge to the photo and tile, allowing each layer to dry in between. When you’re applying, it may look streaky. Don’t worry – Mod Podge dries pretty clearly, so you won’t see this. It’s probably a good idea to use uniform straight rows, but you won’t notice them in the end.