Valentine’s Day Decor Project

Ok, I know it’s a little late to be making Valentine’s Day decorations, but I felt like I needed to put something love-y up in honor of the day.  Because I ended up having to work today, added to the fact that we are crazy busy with getting some things in order in our house and moving furniture around, I decided I could pause just long enough to pull something from the archives that most of you probably haven’t seen (and it is a pretty fast project!)… enjoy!

Rochelle and I got together over this past weekend and decided we needed to add some LOVE to our home decor for Valentine’s Day! Here is our “heart-themed” result:

I had this old frame from the dollar store, and its backing was really really warped. I ended up taking it off, along with the glass, and giving it a good spray down with some black spray paint. Then I was left with a very empty (but much more attractive) frame.

I thought it would look really cute with something hanging from the top part of the frame, so that’s what led me to this idea – I’ve seen this technique done on wreaths and things like that, but I thought I would try it on a heart!

Here’s how to make this:
1. Trace a heart onto some cardboard from an empty cereal box, and cut it out.
2. Cut out circles about 2- 2.5″ in diameter from desired fabric (I should have counted them, but I would say it was at least 50 circles).
3. Point a pencil into the middle of the circle and pull it tight around the point (so it looks like a cone), and apply hot glue to the end; then stick the circle on the heart, and repeat, adding the subsequent circles close together, so if has a very dense “petal-like” texture.
4. I added the red border, but you could just keep it all one color, or try multiple colors!
5. To hang, I used some ribbon – just made a loop over the frame and hot glued it to the back of the heart. Easy!
6. To hang the frame, same idea – I just glued the ends of some ribbon to the top corners of the frame, and voila! You have a brand new Valentine’s decoration, for FREE!


Do you like?

Here is Rochelle’s version:

I used the same cardboard base as Marissa, but cut out a heart from the center. Then I cut 1- inch wide strips from three different fabrics; a white muslin, a red and white gingham, and red cotton jersey from an old T-shirt (I ♥ recycling!). I tied the strips in tight knots around the border, 3 in a row of the same color, then alternating colors. Lastly, I trimmed all the strips to be the same length. I can’t decide if I like it more with the knots in the back or in the front. I kinda like both ways!

Here’s with the knots in the back…

And this is what it looks like with the knots in the front.

Super easy, and since we used what we already had on hand, we didn’t spend a dime! Now that’s what I call a sweet deal!

DIY Guy Gifts : A roundup of my favorites

Let’s face it: It’s easy to come up with fabulous handmade gifts for girls and women, and there are even quite a few great handmade gift options for little boys, but thinking of things to make for the men in our lives is… not easy.  I was talking with my friend Danielle about this last week, and after thinking of the things I have already done or have bookmarked to do, and doing a little research, I have come up with a list of my favorite DIY guy gifts.

There are actually a whole bunch of ideas for handmade gifts for men out there, but I’ve found many of them lacking… I realized that I have a few “requirements” that must be met any time I consider making something as a gift for someone.  If these requirements aren’t met, there’s a high probability the gift I lovingly toil over will end up at the thrift store, or in my craft stash, never to be finished.  So to be considered by me, any and all handmade gifts must meet these three requirements: 1. Must be useful or attractive; 2. Not a knick-knack; 3. Must be realistic.  Also, big points for not having to spend big bucks. 

So with that in mind, I am ready to share my favorite DIY guy gifts and the source you can go to for the free tutorial!

Sew

The Best Men’s Tie Pattern @ Puking Pastilles
Neckwarmer Tutorial @ Skip to my Lou
Flannel Shirt Lunchbag -right here @ Home Sweet Homebodies… tutorial to come!
Emergency Car Kit @ Holidash

Sewing Honorable Mentions:
Baseball Applique Pillow @ Better Homes and Gardens
Monogrammed Neckties @ Martha Stewart
Fabric Luggage Tags @ Skip to my Lou
Great Outdoors Fishing Vest @ Sewing.org

Crochet/ Knit

Crochet Mens Slipper Pattern @ Simply Home Made
Extra Warm Men’s Scarf @ Cotton and Cloud

Cook

Spicy Terriyaki Beef Jerky @ FOODjimoto (By the way, jerky can be dried in the oven too.)
BBQ Spice Rubs @ Kojo Designs
“Dessert of the Month” or “Breakfast in Bed” Coupons -see ideas @ Spray Paint Queen

Craft

Lego Belt Buckle and Tie Tack @ Kojo Designs
Car Shirt @ The Blue Basket
iPhone App Magnets @ Infarrantly Creative
Rolled Paper Chess Set @ Paper, Plate, and Plane

Crafting Honorable Mentions:
Upcycled Bicycle Handlebar Bag @ Giver’sLog
DIY Monogram Mugs @ Design Mom

Here are two more great ideas: The first is from Charmed Goals, and she writes about “Boy Balm and Leather Food”- a beeswax & olive oil blend scented with manly essential oils that can be used for lips, dry skin, and polishing leather.  The second is from Fortuosity, and it is too late to do this year, but you could plan to do this for Christmas 2012:  “A year in the making”– this awesome wife bought a hardcover planner and filled it with pictures, mementos, recognitions, and notes all year long for her husband, and presented it to him at Christmas time.  There’s a lot of love behind a gift like that!

By the way, Kojo Designs is also doing a Gifts for Guys series this month, so head over and check out some of the other ideas they are featuring.

I hope this was helpful for those of you planning to handmake gifts for the men in your lives!  If you’ve got a great idea to add to the list, leave a link in the comments so we can all check it out!

“Drive-by” giving

For our third month of Making the World a Little Sweeter, we will be helping the homeless and/or stranded. You know the ones- they sit on the side of the road with their cardboard sign that says “Trying to get home. Anything helps” (or something equally as heart-rending) and you rummage in your purse but then the light turns green and you haven’t found anything, and you have little pangs of guilt as you drive away. Sometimes you turn around and go back just so you can give them something, but other times you have nothing available, so you tell yourself for the hundredth time that you are going to put some things in the car that will be ready to grab and pass out the window.

Image from http://www.images-graphics-pics.com/signs/

I know there are lots of different feelings out there about helping beggars/ panhandlers, but my own personal feeling is that I don’t know why they are in the situation they are in, and I don’t know what they are going to do with the handouts I give them, but I will help anyone who asks in whatever way I can so that my conscience will be clear. I believe I will one day be responsible for my actions, just as they will be responsible for theirs. So I don’t worry about whether or not they are going to use money I give them for purposes I may consider less- than- worthy. (That said, a guy approached me a few weeks ago straight out asking for $2 to buy some vodka…. I gave him a granola bar instead…) I’m not saying this approach is right for everyone and every circumstance, but think about it and decide what you are comfortable with, and feel good about doing.

So, as you may have guessed, this month we are going to put together some little packages that can be stored in your car or bag and can be quickly pulled out to give away to people in need. The beauty of this project is that there are so many different ways you can do this, taking into account your own personal circumstances and beliefs.

Here are some ideas:

  • A granola bar or other food item rubber-banded with a small amount of cash (whatever you feel is realistic and affordable for you), or perhaps a fast food gift certificate and an inspirational quote.

    • Raid your sock drawer and pull out all those long-mismatched socks. Tube socks would work great. Fill the sock with things like small cash bills, compact food items, sample soaps or toothpaste etc.

    • Personal care bag: people away from home or displaced are likely to be lacking some of the basic hygiene stuff we take for granted. You could pick up packs of these items at the dollar store and make several little bags to give. I made some drawstring bags using leftover fabric and grosgrain ribbon. I got an assortment of tissue packs, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash (hey, I’m big on dental hygiene), deodorant, soaps, hand sanitizer, etc. I also have a good sized bag of hotel soaps and shampoos I have collected over time that are mostly unopened- and I bet you do too. Those would make a great addition, and you get to purge some of your bathroom clutter- win/win!

      Most of you probably already know how to make a simple drawstring bag, but in case there are any new seamstresses out there, here is a quick rundown:

      1. Find a rectangular scrap of fabric large enough to be a bag when it is folded in half.
      2. Fold the fabric in half, right sides together, and stitch the sides closed.
      3. Make a casing at the top for a drawstring by folding down the edge 1/2″, and then another 1″ and pressing. Unfold the top and add grommets or buttonholes through only one layer- these are the openings for the drawstring to come out.
      4. Fold top back down and sew all the way around for casing.
      5. Thread ribbon, shoelace, or other drawstring through holes. Ta-da!
      6. Start to finish = less than 10 minutes.

      It might be a good idea to compile a few local resources (i.e. for health care, food, shelter, mental health, job resources, etc) on a little card and add that to the package. Now, if you don’t sew, or want to take a simpler approach (because realistically, if this is something you continue, it may not be practical to sew another bag every time), why not just put the goodies in a ziplock bag and call it good?

      The last but very important step is this: when you are finished making your packages- whatever form they may take- remember to put them in your car/ purse/ bag/ whatever so you can easily and quickly pull one out next time you need it! I promise if you do this, you will bless someone’s life, and you will feel so good! 😀

      P.S. Be sure to enter our giveaway for a free crochet pattern!

      A few Christmas gifts

      We’re back! After an exhausting but fun- filled out- of- state vacation, we are ready to go again! Did you all have a good time during the holidays?

      I’ve got some fun projects that I am just itching to share, but first I want to show you some of the things I made for Christmas this year… ready?!

      I created a “Nativity Story” binder based on one my mom made when we were young. It was something we read out of on Christmas Eve and the children acted out the story as it was read. It was a tradition that I loved, and have missed it since I have been away from home, so it was time to make one of my own.

      It includes the Christmas Story from the Scriptures, Christmas Hymns, and beautiful artwork which I was able to get off the internet- legally, I might add, as all the art was either public domain or explicit permission given for downloading and printing. Score!

      I spent 20+ hours compiling and beautifying to my satisfaction, and getting it ready for printing. I had it printed on glossy cardstock and put it in page protectors in a three- ring binder. I covered the binders with fabric, decorated, and gave several away as gifts, as well as keeping one for myself.

       I referenced this tutorial at whipup.net for the binder cover, and this one for the ornament embellishment.

      My son needed a tiny pillow for sleeping, because he is old enough to need/ want a pillow, but regular sized pillows usually have too much loft (at least after washing them so many times) so they aren’t comfortable, so I bought a little pillow which is a decorating pillow meant to be covered, and I cut down a regular pillowcase and embroidered his name on it.  Overkill?  Probably.  What two year old is going to appreciate that kind of detail?  The truth is it is for me.  I like that kind of stuff.  So there.

       My mom requested an eye pillow/ cover thingy, so I drew one out and this is what I came up with:

      Crepe backed satin on the front, and also for the elastic casing, and a sateen finish cotton from the extra pillowcase fabric for the back:

      I saw this cool idea on Poppies at Play and promptly made some of these stylish washer bracelets for my youngest sister.  I liked the idea of giving her a variety of colors and patterns, so I mod podged different papers to both sides of the washer, and used a variety of ribbons with the idea of making it all interchangeable.

      Here are the other sides of the washers…

      And here she is modeling how cute the bracelets are on…

      I decided to add the option of a necklace…

       Fun and easy project!

      For our Christmas Eve pajamas tradition for my boys, I made these Superman PJs out of Marissa’s husbands PJs that he got last year which were too big for him.  Didn’t cost me a dime!  My husband got similar PJs at the same time so all three of my boys had Superman pajamas!  Oh the cuteness!

      I used pajamas my boys already had as patterns for these.  I used the tutorial for the 90 minute shirt from made for the baby’s shirt.

      As a companion to the pajamas, I made these Thomas the Tank Engine slippers for my toddler.  I made these slippers so they wouldn’t slide off his feet, and they keep his feet so toasty warm!  I am putting together a tutorial/ pattern which I will share if I can ever finish it.

      Action shot!  Toddlers are not very cooperative models, but you get the idea.

      Well, there’s more, but this post is getting long, and frankly, I am tired (only been home 24 hours, and fairly sleep deprived).  I will post more of my Christmas projects and stuff soon, and then we will get to some new stuff- yay!

      Plastic zipper bag to shower caddy

      Why buy a travel shower caddy when you can make one using two things you already have in about 10 minutes?  I made this for my husband because it drives him crazy when we visit my family and we share a bathroom with my sisters… and they only have lady- scented body wash.  Haha.  So now he can easily bring his manly soap and whatever other masculine things he needs to be comfortable in a girly bathroom right into shower.  My man can smell like a man even on vacation.

      You can make this super fast and easy project too!  All you need is a plastic zippered bag (the kind sheets, curtains, pillowcases, etc. come in),

      and a hanger you don’t need any more.  Any of these types of hangers would work.  The bottom three are baby hangers. 

      I settled on the dry cleaning hanger (with cardboard tube removed) because I could bend the metal without using tools to get the shape I wanted.  Easy button easy!

       Next decide if you want to keep the little plastic hanger that is attached to the bag already.  If you don’t cut it off.  I decided to keep it because it increased the number of options for hanging.  And I am a girl who likes options.

      Next, I laid the hanger on top of the sideways bag to figure out where I would need to punch a hole for the top of the hanger to come through.  I marked that with pen, and used a hole punch to make the hole.  I was going to use a grommet, but I didn’t have one that was big enough.  Oh well, that’s ok, because it would have added at least 5 minutes to the project, and I promised a 10 minute project!  You may want to punch a couple of other holes if you think water will need to drain from your bag.

      Secure the hanger in the bag so it doesn’t slip.  You can do this any way you want; I used hot glue- just be careful because hot glue melts plastic a bit, so whatever you do will be permanent!

      I promised options!  Try hanging it on the shower curtain rod… (That is my stuff in there, not my husband’s…)

      Or around the shower head…

      Hang it on an existing shower organizer…

      Use the little hanger if you want…

      So many possibilities!  Jazz it up a bit with cute fabric, or by sewing dividers in so there is a little more organization.  Or let your kids decorate it with permanent markers.  It only took 10 minutes to make, so any extra time you put into it can be justified!

      P.S. Mom, don’t worry about the bathroom, BJ is just fine!

      Easy fabric- covered styrofoam wall hangings

      There have been some great tutorials out there recently on making beautiful, inexpensive wall hangings (check out homemade by jill’s tissue paper art post, or how to make fabric panel wall art on How about orange). I wanted to do something similar, but wanted a slightly different look. I was waiting for the perfect fabric to present itself before spending time designing something- waiting for inspiration, you know? My husband bought me a beautiful comforter/ pillow/ curtain set for Valentine’s Day because I was desperately wanting to give our bedroom a facelift and make it feel more cohesive and elegant (more on that later). Anyway, the set came with curtains and valences for up to 4 windows (who has 4 windows in their bedroom?) and I only have one window that I wanted to cover- SO- I had extra fabric that matched my comforter and of course I realized that that would be perfect for my project!

       

      My husband liked the idea as well, but there was a catch. I wanted to hang the panels above our bed, but we have never been able to hang pictures or anything above our bed because my husband has a phobia of pictures falling off the wall in an earthquake and hitting him in the head while he sleeps (not completely irrational, as we live near a fault line). So, using the wooden boards or frames with sharp corners like most of the wall hangings I have seen out there was not really an option for us. Not to worry, though! I realized that Styrofoam would work just as well, and my husband gave it the stamp of approval!

      I bought 2 sheets of styrofoam (each about 36 inches long, and an inch thick) and marked out the dimensions of the wall hangings I envisioned. I don’t have the benefit of lots of power tools or a shop where I could cut the styrofoam, so I just used a serrated bread knife, and it worked just fine, not even too messy. I decided to do a cluster of 3 panels, but I had enough styrofoam to do 4.

      Then I cut up one of the window valences so I had rectangles big enough to cover the styrofoam panels I had cut. I actually bought a coordinating piece of fabric on sale at Jo Ann Fabrics, so I covered one panel with that fabric, and the other two I covered with the valence fabric.

      I wrapped the fabric tightly over the styrofoam, and used my hot glue gun to hold the fabric in place. I went through a LOT of glue. The backside isn’t pretty, as you can see below, but once it is up on the wall, no one will ever know!

      I love the fabric, so I liked how the front of the panel looked, but I wanted to add a little dimension, not to mention some color to my room. So I thought of making the wall hangings into picture frames. I had a few of our favorite pictures printed out in 8×10 size. I liked the idea of doing a picture from the day my husband officially proposed, a picture from our wedding day, and a more current picture of the two of us.

      The picture frames also needed to be lightweight, so I cut some pieces of cardboard and marked lines around the edges where I was going to cover them with fabric. I used the new fabric I had bought as well as the extra valence fabric, with the idea of making the frame contrast with the panel it was on.

      I cut the fabric into strips, ironed them in half, then hot glued them around the edge of the cardboard, with raw edges facing out. I then folded the strips around to the back of the cardboard and hot glued. There was plenty of room to wiggle the pictures in, and I think the fabric strips would have held the photos in fine, but I secured them in place with photo adhesive squares so they wouldn’t become crooked or anything.

       

      After I hot glued the frame onto the styrofoam panel, I glued a ribbon across the back to hang it by.

      I love how they turned out! It took me a couple of hours one afternoon (during baby’s nap and snack time) to get all three of them done, but I was pleased with the finished product- easy, no- sew, and matchy! I think they add a lot to the room.

      Ugly mousepad no more

      Since I love “Before” and “After” pictures so much, here are some for you:
      Before:

       

      After:

       

      I have hated this eyesore of a mousepad for the last 5 years (I know, sad, huh? You would think that I would get a new one at some point- but no need now!). I found this cute and super easy craft on one of my favorite craft blogs, Make It and Love It. Click here to see the tutorial.