My awesome grandparents live in a retirement community nearby. Momoo, my grandmother, is in large part to thank for my craftiness and creativity. So, it’s only fitting that she be the recipient of some of my handmade creations. Thus, I’ve taken to making Momoo and Daddy Tom seasonal wreaths for the door of their apartment. I mean come on, what is better than having the best looking door in the retirement community AND be able to brag that it’s your granddaughter that is responsible. It’s grandparent heaven and fun for me too.
My previous wreaths have mostly been concoctions made up of faux florals and doo-dads from the seasonal aisle at Michael’s. Not so steal-worthy, my friends.
You can steal this blogger’s instructions for making felt flowers here and use these adorable baubles for all kinds of applications. I really like this craft because you can cut and fashion the flowers while sitting on the couch (felt sticks to itself – so with just a round object to use as a template, a pen, and some scissors, you can make a whole mess of these little flowers before you ever get out the glue gun).
Once I had them all rolled up, I moved from the sofa to the dining room table and in 30 minutes, they had all been hot glued to the grapevine wreath. I decided that some leaves were in order so I halved some green felt, placed a towel over it and ironed a crease before cutting out the leaf shapes (I learned the hard way that the towel is a big deal – synthetic felt does not like heat!).
Pop on over to Little Things Bring Smiles and steal some inspiration for a lovely Valentine’s Day gift!
Remember how I made custom cornhole bags for my friend Sarah’s wedding? They made their debut in Folly Beach this past weekend. Sure, they were cute and fun. But not nearly as cute and fun as the bride and groom.
The Saturday before Valentine’s Day I got an itch to make a homemade Valentine for my hubby. He’s a man who has everything and we’ve never made much of a big deal over Valentine’s day. In fact last year we had Will’s delicious chicken marsala on our good china by candlelight. It was honestly a perfect evening. That’s one of the great things about my husband. He’s an excellent cook and it’s totally sexy!
The week before Valentine’s Day, my friend Jaime from Prudent Baby wrote a post on Valentines Poems for Every Personality. And on that list, I found one that was PERFECT for him. It’s called The Love Cook by Ron Padgett and it goes a little something like this:
Let me cook you some dinner.
Sit down and take off your shoes
and socks and in fact the rest
of your clothes, have a daquiri,
turn on some music and dance
around the house, inside and out,
it’s night and the neighbors
are sleeping, those dolts, and
the stars are shining bright,
and I’ve got the burners lit
for you, you hungry thing.
HOT! HOT! HOT! I love it. And I wanted to do a little something more with it than write it on a card. But what to do? Put it in a frame? Hand-embroider it on a dishtowel? Paint it on a utensil holder at one of those paint-it-yourself places? Of course I came up with this idea on approximately February 12 so I had to work fast.
Enter Prudent Baby once again! They were featuring a potholder contest at the same time for a chance to win a Brother sewing machine. That’s when I saw this:
And I decided that yes in fact a potholder can be sexy. So I went to the fabric store and picked out some Valentine-y but not too girly fabrics and some notions. Then I ran on over to Michael’s and grabbed some heat transfer paper and I got to work using the instructions that Prudent Baby provided for their contest.
You are definitely going to want to click on that hyperlink up there and look at Jaime’s tutorial for sewing a potholder if you are going to tackle this yourself. But below I’ll summarize the steps with a few tips on what I learned in the process. I must admit – sewing a potholder is a very satisfying little project. It really only takes an hour or so and with some cute fabric, what a sweet little hostess gift or thank you gift it could be.
Here’s how it goes:
1. Cut two 8″ squares of fabric, two 8″ squares of batting, two 5×8″ rectangles of fabric and two 5×8″ rectangles of batting. Pin batting to each fabric piece comme ca:
Now the fact is that you could just use one piece of dense batting in between two pieces of pretty fabric and that would be just fine. But the batting I bought was light so I wanted the extra layer to protect against heat. I was also planning to applique the heart to the potholder and I didn’t want the thread to show through on the other side. That’s why I opted to quilt each side separately, which brings be to point #2.
2. Place a pretty fabric square on a batting rectangle and quilt. I chose to do 1″ parallel lines which I estimated using my little handy ruler. (This is, by the way, a great project to practice sewing straight lines if that’s an issue for you – not that it is for me (cough).)
3. You’re going to do the same parallel line quilting on your second fabric square and batting set. Then move on to your rectangles. The rectangular fabric cuts will be used for the little hand mit portion of your potholder. Since my mit rectangles weren’t getting any appliques or special decoration, I just sandwiched the pretty fabric on either side of 2 pieces of batting, pinned it tight, and quilted away. Jaime says a walking foot for the sewing machine is great for this. I didn’t have one and I did just fine.
4. What you’re going to do next is press your message on to a heart-shaped bit of fabric using heat transfer paper. I didn’t get any photos of this but it’s pretty easy. Just make sure you give yourself some leeway to do a little trial and error with the transfer paper as it is NOT an exact science.
5. Then use the satin stitch setting on your sewing machine to applique the heart on to one of the fabric + batting squares. You’ll wind up with something that looks like this:
5. Now you are going to sew some bias tape to your rectangular pocket on one side and then base the rectangle on to the square while basting the squares together. If you have never sewn with bias tape (I hadn’t), check out Prudent Baby’s tutorial here. But be forewarned, you may become obsessed with bias tape as I now have. Bias tape makes me want to sew a LOT more often because it hides the ugliness! But I digress … here’s how we’re looking now …
6. Now it’s time to apply the bias tape all the way around. Don’t forget to make a provision for the loop to hang you pot holder with. And again, if you haven’t already, check out Prudent Baby’s Bias Tape Tutorial.
7. And that just about wraps it up!
8. Unless of course you are me and you have already decided in your head that a set of pot holders would be way cuter than just one.
I thought the conversation heart motif was kind of fun. Do you see that that one actually has iron marks on it? I suppose maybe the iron was a little too warm, the press was a little too firm, and the hold was a little too long on that heat transfer. But I decided that especially given the message of this pot holder that the iron marks give it more character. So I decided to go with it!
My Love Cook loves his new pot holders. And for less than $25 (I had to buy every single thing I used here … no scraps to be had), I made a cute, custom and funny valentine for my love. Handmade gifts are fewer and far between these days. Who better to give one to than the one you love the most?
Thanks, Prudent Baby, for the poem and pot holder inspiration. Clearly, I was inspired!
Did your elementary school have a fall carnival? Mine did and I LOVED it. There was a haunted house, a cake walk, a fish bowl ping pong toss, potato sack race, hula-hooping contest and of course the perennial favorite, the bean bag toss. These days, the bean bag toss has seen an incredible resurgence at beer-drinking events for the adult set. No serious beach day, steeplechase, tailgate, or cookout is complete without it. Game sets are available for purchase online and decorated with every imaginable team logo. And it’s also gained a more mythological name: Cornhole.
What sparked the Cornhole epidemic? According to Wikipedia, the tipping point came in the 1990′s when kids at Miami University made Cornhole a mainstay as a casual drinking game. And I am proud to say that yours truly (Miami Class of 2001) certainly fanned the wildfire’s flames.
This spring, Cornhole is getting an even more impressive promotion when it will be featured at my dear friend Sarah’s wedding (another Miami alum). Sarah and her beau Kevin are marrying at Folly Beach, South Carolina. Their fete will be casual, elegant, and beachy with Capsian Blue bridesmaid dresses from J.Crew and yellow accents.
Sarah asked if I might know how to make custom Cornhole bags. I said “I do”.
My mother-in-law and I whipped these up over the Christmas holidays using the directions at the appropriately-named CornholeHowTo.com. I saved this project until I was visiting her since she has an embroidery machine and I thought it would be necessary to create the appliques. However, I learned that any machine with a satin stich will work for applique. Here’s a quick summary of what we did:
1.) We followed the directions at Cornholehowto.com to make regulation 6×6″ bags filled with 1 lb. of hull corn each.
2.) Before assembling the bags, create and apply the applique. First I hand-sketched the whimsical K and S seen above on stiff paper and cut each letter out as my template.
3.) Using standard blue cotton duck and an upholstery print called Good Vibrations (that I can’t find anywhere online!), I traced the letters onto the right sides of the fabric.
4.) Next, iron Heat ‘N Bond to the backside of the letters.
5.) Now it’s time to cut out each letter and center it on the 6×6″ fabric squares. Peel away the paper backing on the letters and press them to the fabric.
6.) Now just run around the border of each of the letters with a satin stitch. I confess that my mother-in-law was much more skilled at this than I. However, I would tackle it again knowing that even though I might have to rip out my stitches a time or two, I could get it looking pretty darn good.
Sarah is making her Cornhole boards herself! I’ll be sure to post pics of the set in action at her wedding this spring. I think they are super cute and I’m wishing we had not hastily purchased a Tennessee Vols Cornhole set this past summer and rather made our own! Maybe that set will make it’s way to Craig’s List …
Project #2 of that famed flea market run from so many weeks ago has finally come to fruition, folks! Let me tell you, travelling for business does not a happy idea thief make! PHEW! Read on to find out how I’ve created this Stylish Bulletin Board Alternative (with custom decoupage clothespins, I might add)!!
Today I’m ripping off an idea from one of my very favorite catalogs – Wisteria. You see, my office is on a lovely sun porch which makes me feel like I’m working in an aviary (I adore this fact) but leaves little room for getting rid of clutter. So when the space between my lamp and my phone started to look like this ….
… I decided it was high time to find a place for all of my “fun mail”. You know all of the baby announcements, wedding invitations, sweet cards and photos that I just can’t throw away … at least not yet. But I didn’t want a traditional bulletin board that would block the view and the light. When I came across this on Wisteria …
… I knew I had found just the right concept. But I’m not crazy about chickens and $39 seemed a little steep. That is when the hunt for the perfect frame began and by golly if I didn’t find a beaut!??!
All the gory details on what you need to get from flea market to fabulous are just below.
Flea Market Frame
Spray Paint (I chose an Heirloom White in Satin finish and Gold Leaf for the clothespins)
Floral Wire (mine was wrapped in neutral raffia from the floral department at Michael’s)
STEP 1: PREP YOUR FRAME
I started by giving my frame a nice bath with a damp cloth. Next it was on to removing staples, nails and tacks with my handy needle nose pliers and below a screwdriver to pry off the name plate. I even sanded down the back of my frame since it was going to be hung on a window but if yours is going on the wall then why worry with that?!? My frame was super old so we put a little bit of caulk in the corners just to smooth things out a bit.
STEP 2: COAT THAT BABY WITH PAINT
Not much to say here except follow the directions on the spray paint can! And even though I’m painting at night here, the second and third coats had to happen during the day to get a nice, even spray on all of those little nooks and crannies. I’d like to thank my good friend John Deere and my husband for collaborating to make me this fancy painting platform.
STEP 3: MEASURE FOR YOUR “CLOTHES LINES”
I ended up spacing mine 10″ apart but it’s worth noting that I think it looks best to have the top one about an inch and a half from the top of the frame (it looks like 2 inches here but see how that lip of the frame takes up 1/2 an inch – that will make a big difference in the look). Wouldn’t want to waste a whole bunch of space up there but wouldn’t want it crowded either. Mark where your tacks will go on the backside of the frame.
STEP 4: CUT, WRAP & NAIL THE LINE
(Just don’t Walk the Line … that’s never fun.)
This floral wire wrapped in a raffia-like material that I was using was heavy-duty stuff. I needed the needle nose pliers to manipulate it, no doubt. The idea is to create a little loop that you’ll wrap around the tack on one side and get that hammered in. Then, cut the line so it’s just slightly beyond your marked spot on the other side of the frame. You’ll use the wrapping action to wrap it just tight enough that the wire is taught. You can always give your pliers a little bit more of a turn if you need it a hair tighter. Pull, pull, pull and then nail in place. Here’s a shot of those tacks (available at your home improvement store) as well as what it looks like to wrap the wire around it.
Use your pliers to make a little loop that a tack can just barely fit through. If your raffia stuff starts to fray like this did, trim and secure with a piece of scotch tape. It’ll be on the back of your frame anyway.
Then slide that tack in there:
And nail that puppy in place (and I mean the tack, not actually the puppy! see my old boy snoozing in the background of the pic above – such a sweet guy he his):
You will notice that all of that care that I took to sand the back of the frame and paint it got just totally demolished by my hammer. Oh well. Our neighbors will forgive the ugly view. Oh and I suppose you could use twine and spare yourself all of this wrapping and pulling taught. But to me, it just seemed like the wire would provide a more sturdy foundation for the mail and keep things from tipping this way and that. I like to think my selection makes for a tidier presentation in the end but who really knows. If you’ve got the twine already, give it a whirl!
STEP 5: HANG ‘ER UP
Forgot to get a pic of this step but I happened to already have some hooks hanging in the metal frame of my sun porch for a Christmas stained glass window so I used some fishing wire to loop the frame to the hooks. If you are hanging your creation on a wall, you can easily add a picture hanger. Just choose the kind with the little jagged teeth that doesn’t use a wire.
STEP 6: SECURE YOUR GOODIES TO THE CLOTHESLINES
Clothespins are easy enough to find but with all of that fancy carving, a plain one just seemed BOR-ING. I thought of just giving them a coat of paint and calling it a day. But then I remembered seeing these cute clothespins on Etsy:
You can buy those at The Papered Crown on Etsy if you like. They are only like $8.
When I remembered those, I realized I could do anything I wanted to complement my new frame remake. So I purchased some mini clothespins, sprayed them down with a little gold spray paint (mostly just on the sides so there would be a little shine) and then decoupaged them with this cute, muted, floral craft paper that I found at Michael’s. Here they are on the tray drying after their decoupage treatment.
Kind of cute, huh??!?! And I had never decoupaged before but let me tell you it is really easy and really, really fun. I just used these instructions. I pretty much feel like a 1960′s housewife but I might be hooked on the decoupage now. Eeeks! We’ll see if it becomes a new blog category. HA!
So let’s have a few final shots of my Wisteria rip off before we close down this post. Hooray for cute, custom, DIY organization!
Will and I got engaged in November of 2007 on a magical European vacation with our families. The day of our engagement, we opened up a bottle of champagne in celebration and I’ve been saving our treasured cork ever since.
Er, um, ok so that’s not exactly how it went. We did get engaged on a wonderful Mediterranean cruise with our families. And we did open a bottle of champagne not long after Will popped the question. And I did save the cork. And then I lost it 36 hours later. But, in true glass-half-full style, we just used that as an excuse to order more champagne and do more celebrating. ;)
But what to do with them? I came up with an idea that I think is totally genius. Christmas ornaments! Don’t you love to go through the ritual of pulling out your Christmas ornaments each year and remembering who gave them to you or who made them for you or where you bought them? Well now you can remember those special occasions by immortalizing your champagne cork as a festive ornament for your tree. Here’s how:
Champagne Cork Ornament
1.) Start with a clean, dry cork with the muselet still attached.
The muselet is the wire cage that secures the cork to the bottle (I just learned that term tonight – fancy, eh?). If you want to work with a wine cork that naturally does not have a muselet, you might try threading some fishing line on a needle and pushing it through the cork. I haven’t tried this, but it seems like it would work.
2.) Shape a bow using some cute, festive ribbon.
I chose ribbon that’s Christmas-y but it would be just as cute to match the ribbon to the occasion. So if you opened a bottle of champagne on the day your baby girl was born, make it pink. It it was the day your hubby got into business school, find ribbons in colors that match the program.
3.) Shape a bow, don’t tie a bow.
I’m using grosgrain ribbon here and it doesn’t exactly make the most gorgeous bow because the ribbon has so much body. But it’s just too darn cute to pass up. So, I shaped the two “ears” and two “tails” of the bow and pinched it with my fingers.
Then I used a stretch of fishing line to tightly cinch the center of the bow. Next, I used a 1-inch long stretch of ribbon and a little crazy glue and covered up my fishing line. Grosgrain ribbon will fray so don’t forget to singe any loose ends with a lighter so that the fibers melt together just a bit.
4.) Attach the bow.
Bend the muselet back to make a little spot for the bow to rest. Give it just enough room so it’s snug. I added a little crazy glue to the cork right where the bow would fit to keep it extra snug.
5.) Make it hang-able.
I used some fishing line to make a loop through the ring of the muselet so it can be hung from the tree! Our tree is already down for the year so here it is, hanging from a nail in my office wall. Trust me, this will be WAY cuter once it has a Christmas tree limb to dangle from.
I’m going to try to remember to do this as a follow up from showers, weddings, engagement parties, New Year’s Eve parties, and the like. Wouldn’t it be such a fun idea to steal a cork from a party you attend and surprise the guest of honor with a little momento at Christmastime? I could kick myself for not nabbing a cork from an engagement party I went to this weekend.
One of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, does a similar application with the chop sticks from their ritual New Year’s Eve dinner. You can read about that here. They also mention framing their old house keys in that post but wouldn’t old house keys make great Christmas ornaments too? Maybe with a sweet little hand-written label that gives the address of a much-loved house and the years that you made memories there. Such a fun thing to pull out every holiday season.
So Corks for Christmas – totally a Julia Original! Enjoy!