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Painting and decorating wine bottles

Last week as I tossed an empty wine bottle into the recycling bin, I thought it would be nice to repurpose these glass containers into something useful or pretty. Pinterest is overflowing with bottle crafts, and three minutes into browsing, I was hooked. It was on!

I put out a call online for my neighbor’s empties, and went shopping for spray paint. I came home with 10 cans in a rainbow of colors! (Admittedly, I’ve got a bit of a craft hoarding problem.)

The first things I made were these little scented oil diffusers.

I used mini wine bottles and sprayed them white. Then I applied two 1″ Simply Said designs in red that say “Cherish Family.” Raffia is tied around the necks. Inside is a homemade mixture of 1 cup safflower oil, and several drops of lilac essential oil. The sticks are bamboo skewers, the that you can get at the grocery store. Just remember to turn the sticks around each day and your room will be lightly scented!
Once I started spraying the bottles, I couldn’t stop! It was so easy and fun!
I bought this pink color last week thinking I would craft something for a baby girl’s room. However, on Friday, a dear friend of mine lost her battle with cancer. Today, the color took on a different meaning for me and this vinyl design of “Hope,” felt more fitting. Ann was an amazing woman – a fighter who never gave up hope. And who, incidentally, loved a glass of chardonnay. (and whom I named a piece of my chalk painted furniture after in this blog post)
I really love this next one…
This bottle was sprayed metallic gold, with a black Simply Said “Dream” design. I snapped a few dead twigs off a tree outside and sprayed them black. Then I wrapped a few little jewelry trinkets around the neck. You can buy very inexpensive jewelry items like this at your local craft store. 
And here’s a trio awaiting their finishing touch, and what will undoubtedly make them adorable…
Candy corn bottles for Halloween! Why am I making Halloween crafts now – in July? If you wait until October, it might be too chilly outside for spraying and your paint will take longer to dry. Today, when it was 90-something outside, the paint literally dried on contact! But, the real reason is because I just couldn’t wait!  I ordered Simply Said vinyl designs for these, too. And as soon as they come, I will apply them (which takes all of 30 seconds, see an application video here), and share the final photos! They’ll say B-O-O. And I have a pair of goggly-eyes to put inside each O. They are going to be super cute, and make a great table centerpiece!
UPDATE:
Here they are complete with vinyls and eyes!
I’ve got something very similar planned for Christmas with a trio of bottles that will say Peace – Love- Joy. I probably would have started those today, but I ran out of empty bottles. Better get back to drinking!
Here’s to you, Ann.
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I’m Simply Excited About Simply Said!

Simply what now? I know, many of you probably haven’t heard of Simply Said. I hadn’t either until recently. But, now that I’m in the know…you can bet you’re gonna be as excited as I am after I give you the skinny!

I’ve signed on with Simply Said, a relatively new company that sells vinyl designs. That means I’ll be a consultant selling the stuff!  Take a look at how some people are using the designs in their home:

Talk about fun ways to decorate your kids’ rooms! Simply Said offers growth charts, custom name vinyls, fun quotes, and sayings centered around things they love, like sports, animals, etc. The designs offered for nurseries are downright adorable!
 I love, love, love the way these vinyls work with wall galleries. By far, this is my favorite method of decorating with them. In fact, I am working on my own “wallscape.” What’s a wallscape? (other than a word I just made up and you’ll hear me talk about endlessly) Like landscaping that includes plants, flowers, stone, etc in a variety of colors, widths and heights to create a visually pleasing effect, wallscaping is the same thing. You take a variety of elements, like mirrors, frames, canvas-wrapped photos, wooden initials, and any other item that strikes your fancy (right now I’m seeing a lot of nautical-themed items like oars) and put them up on the wall in a grouping. Simply Said vinyl designs are perfect for adding to the grouping. MORE to come on wallscaping – I want to finish my first one and promise to share pics!
 I like these over a mantel, especially on the spacious walls like this. I also love the designs that feature your own last name, with the year your home was built. 
While I think this design is really pretty, it needs a little something more to anchor it. However, I included it here so you can see how the designs can be customized in the color of your choice to match your decor. There’s over 40 colors to choose from!
Ahh that tree! See how its 3 colors? 
You choose the size and colors that work for your space with each design. 

Of course being the bird lady that I am, I adore this one! 
There’s plenty of faith-based quotes and designs, too. (where can I get this big beautiful rocking chair??)

This is so elegant! There’s so many sayings that fit particular rooms in your house. For example in the bedroom: “Always kiss me goodnight.” For the dining room: “Talk much, Sit long, Eat well.” For the laundry room: “Wash your worries away.” There’s something for every room in the house – even the man cave! (think fishing, hunting, camping, gaming-related designs)

They’re great on flat walls, but you can put these on glass, textured surfaces, tile, front doors, even your painted furniture! You know that rocks my world – just wait, I will be doing posts to show you how, and will have a few samples for you very soon!  Think about it – no more time-consuming transfers that need to be printed out, transferred over and painted in. No more stencils with soft bleed-through edges. These look like they are painted on, with the crisp edges I could never achieve with a stencil. For anyone who’s done transfer or stencils on their furniture, you know this will be a huge time-saver!
Isn’t this clever? The wall accents come with the time mechanism, too! Simply Said has lots of artistic elements too – its not just quotes and inspiring sayings.  (see the pic below) They have modern images of trees, floral motifs,   even vinyls that can be written on with chalk or wipe off markers! 
I must do a design on my shower doors. My master bath is the only room in my house I have yet to decorate, and now I have the starting point! You can put any design on glass. There’s cute ones for the front of the washer and dryer, too!

There’s an entire catalog of spanish designs, too. (and aren’t those chairs in front of the bed to die for!)
Here’s probably the best part for someone who’s tastes change frequently – these come off the wall easily without destroying your paint. So, when you feel like redecorating, its a breeze to take off the old and put up the new!
Putting them up is easy easier than I thought. Here’s a quick video to show you how.
You know I love things related to home decor and crafting. And I’ve always worked in marketing and PR, so this job fulfills a part of me that enjoys blogging, Face-booking and planning parties! You guessed it – I’ll be having parties and hoping that my friends will host a party, too. If that sounds like fun to you, drop me a line. 
In the meantime, look forward to my photos and tips on using Simply Said in your home and DIY!
Soon, I will post info about my launch party, and a website where you can see the entire catalog.
Thanks for always following along, and for getting excited with me!

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The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers

What woman doesn’t love flowers? Seriously. I swoon for gerbera daisies. My hibiscus bushes in full bloom are a source of unmatched joy. And any floral-scented perfume is a gift I love to receive.  So when I was told I’d be handling the publicity for a flower-making craft book, I did a little happy dance around my desk.

The book publishes in two weeks and is called The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers (Abrams | STC Craft), by an amazing artist named Livia Cetti.

The subtitle, A Guide to Making Unbelievably Realistic Paper Blooms, is no joke. Livia’s flowers look breathtakingly liek the real deal. Just look at this centerpiece…

And for my northern virginia and DC friends, just look at these cherry blossoms! With our never-ending winter weather, the trees around the National Park won’t be looking this fabulous.

Speaking of DC, author Livia Cetti had the honor of decorating The White House with her realistic tissue paper petals. At the time, Michelle Obama had hoped to bring in hibiscus flowers for a Korean state dinner. But, they were not in season – so the organizers called on Livia to craft the next best thing! How cool, right?

Livia shares her secrets for gorgeous crepe paper blooms. Step-by-step instructions guide the reader through the basics, like bleaching the tissue paper, freehand painting with bleach, painting leaves, working with wire, making pom centers, wrapping stems, and sculpting petals. There’s even photos for each step of the process…

Then Livia gets to the good stuff – making flowers!

(This beautiful photo, taken by Addie Juell, makes me want to lean down and drink in what must be a heavenly scent!)

There’s projects for 25 of the most popular flowers you can think of…Rose, Dahlia, Jasmine, Sweet Pea, Tiger Lily, Tree Peony, Begonia, and more!

Livia also explains how to combine individual flowers to create arrangements with eye-popping color!
There’s an additional 23 projects for arrangements -from garlands and wreaths to wedding flowers, like corsages and cake toppers.

I’ve invited my craft club to come try their hand at making tissue flowers from The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers. As soon as the weather starts to feel like Spring around here, I’m setting the date!
I can’t wait! This book is so inspiring – the styling is simple and modern, which speaks to my home decor style. Of course, what room doesn’t look lovely with gorgeous flowers?

If you want to pick up a copy, here’s your link!
Learn more about Livia Cetti here.

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Handmade for the Garden – time to craft for the outdoors!

Even though its only 30 degrees outside, I know Spring is knocking on the door. Even some of the trees are sprouting little buds. I wouldn’t doubt that green shoots will be out of the ground soon. So, what better time to start crafting items to enhance my outdoor space!

And I have the perfect book to help!

Handmade for the Garden, by Susan Guagliumi. Published by STC Craft | A Melanie Falick Book.

This new book publishes next week and includes 75 do-it-yourself projects for all kinds of pretty and functional backyard goodies – like mosaic pots…

and newspaper pots for starting seeds…

or self-watering planters made from recycled garden hoses…

even a rustic arbor or trellis for your climbing roses and plants!
I especially like this hardware cloth garden basket project – perfect for hauling in my freshly picked tomatoes.

There’s a section of the book that even includes projects for making gifts from your garden, like garlic braids.

And what I really love about this how-to book is that it doesn’t shy away from the seemingly more challenging DIY – it teaches readers how to experiment with cement & hypertufa to make bowl-shaped flowerpots and box-shaped planters, or pretty stepping stones and decorative pieces like bird-baths. There’s also a section on bending and shaping copper to make ornaments for garden stakes or fence posts. And for those readers who prefer the very basic, there’s simple projects for stamping and stenciling pots. The point is – there is something for absolutely every garden enthusiast and every level of maker in this book!
The photos by John Gruen are gorgeous, and the writing is clear and precise. And the author, Susan, is a doll. Seriously, what a nice woman! Just check out some pics from the gardens outside her home!

Susan’s kitty, Buster! (you know I can’t resist sharing a photo of a pretty cat – especially one enjoying a bird bath!)

Lord – I’d love a raised bed like this full of tomatoes!  Guess what – there’s a project in the book for making these grapevine coiled tomato towers!
I just love Handmade for the Garden – it combines so many of the things I adore – crafting, gardening, and a general appreciation for the outdoors. Now to choose my first task!

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March is National Craft Month!

It’s the second day of March and you would think Spring temps might be settling in. But no. Instead we are preparing for another foot+ of snow tomorrow. So it seems fitting that March is also National Craft Month – because we’ll have plenty of indoor time for making stuff!

As a publicist for a craft book publisher, I see plenty of awesome makers, who share their talents with readers. In honor of Craft Month, I’ll be sharing thoughts, photos and projects from some of my favorites – and from those I think you’ll be most interested in.

First off, I want to share some pics from a book that has the coolest concept – it’s called BiblioCraft, and is written by a Rare Books Librarian, from the New York Public Library – Jessica Pigza. Her book includes wonderful craft projects inspired by resources from the library. And the projects were created by some of today’s hottest crafters – like Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney, Heather Ross, Anna Bondoc, Natalie Chanin, Liesl Gibson and many more.

(Published by STC Craft | A Melanie Falick Book, an imprint of ABRAMS. Photo credit: Johnny Miller)

Part one of the book teaches you how to use your library – think call numbers and catalog searches. Part two is the meaty project section, and you see the library resources that inspired the creativity.

Take a look…

This marbled fabric pouch was designed by Jodi Kahn, 
and was inspired by an early 19th century marbled endpaper.
This throw blanket was designed by Natalie Chanin, 
and was inspired by a book of Alabama’s natural history and poetry.
These adorable animal votive holders were designed by Grace Bonney, and were inspired by a book called Historia Animalium, that features artwork of animals as they appeared four centuries ago.
These pillows were designed by the author, Jessica Pigza, and were inspired by handmade sheets of paper that included the animals as watermarks.
All of the projects in BiblioCraft include complete instructions, so you can make them, too. And check out your local library – its probably just brimming with goodies to inspire your next project – perfect for when you’re home-bound in a snow storm!
You can learn more about BiblioCraft here.
Check out the author here.
Check out the publisher here.
Buy the book here.

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A new craft room!

If you’re like me, you have an unused room in your house that becomes the dumping ground for all things that don’t have a place. Storage center, filing cabinet, winter coat closet – these are all apt descriptions of how that room was being used. My husband and I both agreed it should become something functional – and would be my space. (since hubby just got a pretty sweet man cave in the basement)

What did I decide to do with it? Make a craft room of course. Truth be told, I really wanted a room to wrap presents – with one of those handy wall racks for hanging rolls of colorful paper. And I wanted a counter height table for wrapping, so I wouldn’t spend one more Christmas even hunched over the bed, wrapping gifts with an aching back. 
I had a vision in my head of what I wanted, the color scheme, etc. It’s a small room, so it didn’t take more than about a week and a trip to Home Depot to make a reality.
This is probably my favorite part of the room – this pegboard wall with the wrapping supplies. We simply bought two pieces of pegboard and drilled them onto the wall.
I made this craft table and it was super easy! I bought two cube shelves, which form the sides of the table. They sell these at Home Depot – they are 36″ wide and the same exact width of the hollow door that formed the top of the table (also purchased from Home Depot). We used a saw and cut the door down to a good size, so that I could easily walk around the table with plenty of space. I painted and stenciled the unfinished door, and attached it to the cube shelves with Liquid Nails adhesive.
I had an old brown wooden book shelf, and just painted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Paris Grey. The yellow is just sheets of scrap book paper decoupaged on the back. 

A grey linen-wrapped memo board holds items of inspiration, and the white shelves on the left house paint. Furniture painting will not happen in this room, thus big cans are still stored in the garage.

My french chair makeover has found its home! It’s been sitting for a year in my living room, but the grey and yellow are perfect for this room. I shoved a grey-topped IKEA desk into the closet (and took the doors off). Now I have a great place to surf Pinterest!
Isn’t this rhino fun? I found him at HomeGoods, and new he would make a great addition. And I can hang my apron over his horn!

Now you can see the sewing machine, notions and gift bags all shoved down in the bottom!

I’ve had a lot of questions about these frames. They came from HomeGoods. But man, they would be easy to make. They’re just grey-washed boards glued together. The white is foam core, with a small little piece of plastic covering the photos, with screws holding the images in place!

My wonderful neighbor Tara Sutherland took these family photos. What fun!
So there you have it – my new craft room. So far, I’ve made Valentine’s day keychains in this room, and wrapped a couple of gifts. But, I’m awaiting a craft kit in the mail and will work on it in this space too. More photos to come!
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Making a pillow with a step-by-step tutorial

While I’ve been redecorating my front living room, I’ve had lots of suggestions from my Facebook friends on what to do. Someone suggested I needed another pop of my accent color – red. I have a stash of gorgeous red geometric Robert Allen fabric that I’ve been dying to put to use, so I pulled it out and made some pillows tonight.

Sewing definitely is not one of my strong points. I remember learning how to sew by hand from my great-grandmother, and taking sewing in high school home economics – but that’s the extent of my education. Thankfully, making pillows is as simple as it comes, and a sewing machine makes the task easy-breezy. And perfection is not necessary!

So for anyone who hasn’t tried their hand at pillow-making, take it from me, it’s not hard. Here’s how its done…

You’ll need fabric, your pillow insert, or old pillows like the ones I was using (and planning to just recover), a sewing machine, thread, a needle and a pair of scissors.

Lay your pillow down over your fabric.

I left a good two inches around each side of the pillow’s edge and cut. After you cut the first sheet, use it as a template and cut another sheet the same size.

Lay your two sheets down so the printed sides are facing each other.

Sew up the left and top sides of the sheets. I sewed about a quarter inch from the edge. Don’t worry about the fabric not being even. You can cut this away after you are done sewing, and it will be on the inside of your pillow, so no one will know its there!

Once the left and top sides are sewn, tuck the pillow inside, snug against the edges.

Next, using your fingers, gather the extra fabric along the right side of the pillow and insert pins along the edge of your pillow insert, so you know where to sew. (see below)

Now sew along the line you created with the pins, removing each pin as you get to it.

Once the right side is sewn up, again cut the excess fabric away.

Now turn your pillow case inside out, and insert your pillow.

See all the extra hanging at the bottom. We’ll pin it along the edge of the pillow, just like we did on the right side.

Once I had the whole line pinned, I cut away about half this excess, so I was left with about an inch from the pins.

I folded the excess inch under…

And pressed the edges together. I hand sewed this side together. I am not sure what this stitch is called, but basically I went in one side with the needle, and the side I exited from was the side I went back in with for the next stitch. So in and out. On the first pillow I took my time and made very small stitches that were nearly impossible to see.

For the next pillow, I decided I would try that closing trick I see people do online – you know, the pro’s. They sew up the last side of the pillow about half way, and then stuff the insert in, and hand-sew the remainder.

This is how much space I had left unsewn. Maybe a nice soft squeeshy pillow insert filled with features could have been stuffed in there, but my pillow wouldn’t fit. I tried folding it in half, rolling it, pressing it. (I had flashes of giving birth and Saxon’s giant head trying to squeeze through…well, I don’t have to say it, you know what I mean.)

By the time I was done stuffing, I was starting to break a sweat, and I had torn the opening this wide! Oh well, lesson learned. For me, I was doing just as good a job hand-sewing the last side. So, I quickly sewed this shut by hand. Done!

And here they are, adding an extra pop of red to my living room!

Charlotte, the Green-Lantern wonder dog, approves!

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2012 Project Highlights and Tips for Succes

January 1, 2013. Today’s a day to reflect on the past year and plan for the future. And its been a good year filled with many changes. My family is happy and healthy, and professionally I couldn’t be more pleased. The new book publicity job is going well, and this past Spring I rediscovered how much I enjoy painting furniture.

Between custom work for clients, and the pieces I painted to sell, the projects were, for the most part, highly enjoyable (excerpt for painting a few sets of dining chairs – oh they are a bear)! Here’s some of my favorites from 2012 and tips for success:

My FAVORITE furniture makeover was the french chair…

This was so fun – I really loved the upholstery aspect of this piece, and I hope to do more chairs this year. If you’re going to reupholster a piece, here’s my suggestions to avoid pulling your hair out:

1) Invest in a good stapler – at least an electric one, or you will find you need a lot of muscle just to get them in flush
2) Save the pieces of old fabric you tear off to use as a template when cutting the new fabric
3) Buy more fabric then you think you will need

Here’s the original posts for this project if you want to see and read more:
Ripping it Apart
Painting the Chair
The Reveal


The Antique Bedroom Set – a close tie for second!


Oh how I loved working on this set that included a queen headboard, footboard, side rails, a dresser, vanity and two huge mirrors. The furniture was beautiful, with amazing appliqué details, curves and rasters. Did I say I LOVED this set? And after the paint, I loved it even more. 
Tips for success:
1) Tape off your mirrors with green (Frog tape brand) painter’s tape. Do not use the blue kind – or you will have bleeding. Trust me on this!
2) Invest in beautiful knobs – they make such a difference
3) When painting appliqués, use a small artist’s brush and take your time
Click here if you want to see some before shots of these beauties.
Mona’s Sideboard


This console was a custom paint project that I fell in love with. I swear when it was all said and done, I secretly wished it was mine! I hope to find a similar piece some day and paint it for my own dining room.
Tips for success:
1) Frog tape is great for getting crisp lines around edges if you don’t trust a not-so-steady hand
2) Use dark wax sparingly for an aged patina. If you smear it over the whole piece, it will just look dirty.
3) Sometimes the lack of hardware truly makes a piece stand out. Don’t be afraid to take it off and fill in the holes. But be sure you can easily open drawers.
Here’s more photos!

The bench from hell


Sometimes a piece of furniture is so easy to transform you’ll amaze yourself. At others, it’s such a pain in the ass you could cry. This one fell into the latter category. And I have several posts to explain why linked below. BUT, what’s important is that the end result. This pretty piece sits in my spare bedroom and when I walk past the room, I still find myself stopping to admire her. 
Tips (or maybe I should calls these bits of advice warnings):
1) You will get blisters when removing thousands of staples!
2) Upholstery needles are very long and sharp!
More links:
Removing cushions is hard work!
The next step – fabric.
Making the tufted seat.
Little Red Accent Table


Okay, I have a thing for red. Love red accents in a home, and this piece turned out great with its black wood peeking out from underneath.
Tips:
1) Always remove hardware before you start painting, unless of course you plan to paint right over it
2) Don’t be afraid of color. A striking piece will make you smile! The 2013 Pantone color of the year is emerald green – who wants to try it out first??!!
Click to see more photos of red furniture.

Gorgeous Wood Plank Desk


This gorgeous desk was also a custom project. The stunning plank top was to die for! I’m not kidding, I’d go out in the garage and just run my hands over it. Just. Beautiful. Wood.
Tips:
1) The Black and Decker Mouse is an awesome little hand-sanding tool that strips off old surfaces so quick and easy! Perfect for smaller hands and very light-weight. 
2) If you don’t like your wood to have a shiny surface, make sure you use a matte finish. I prefer Minwax Wipe On Poly. They even make a wipe on stain too, that you just brush on, let sit a few minutes and then wipe off. Easy-breezy!!
Annie’s Secretary

This was a pretty custom project I enjoyed doing. It started off solid black. We used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey, and Old White. 
Stenciling tip:
To avoid stencil bleeding, always make sure to wipe your brush on a paper towel to remove excess paint, before you begin stenciling. Each time you reload your brush, wipe first. This will keep paint from seeping underneath the stencil and giving you that blurry edge.

Decoupaged Kitchen Storage Cupboard


This petite cupboard made my favorite list because of the shabbiness and it’s decoupaged interior doors.  Truth be told, I was completely out of Paloma (the purplish color) and Old White paint when I discovered that I had failed to paint the insides of the doors. I was taking this piece to a sale the next day and I had to do something. In a pinch I decoupaged the doors with Modge Podge and scrapbook paper. I loved the surprise of opening the doors and finding the design!
Decoupage tips:
1) Make sure paint is dry before you decoupage over it
2) If air bubbles form, pierce it with a pin, then smooth out with your fingers
3) Avoid using ink-jet printed designs, as the ink can smudge from your decoupage medium
French Coffee Table


The french coffee table was one of my fav’s this year too. The piece was curvy, with scrolls and shell motifs. I chose to dry-brush Old White over Paloma and it created a lovely layered look.
Dry-brush technique tip:
The dry-brush technique is literal – you load a small amount of paint on your brush, and then wipe most of it off onto a towel or rag before you start painting. Keep the brush very dry to deposit very fine amounts of paint on the surface.
More photos here.

Gold Gilding Column Table


I loved this little piece of furniture for its many crevices. Turned grooves allow dark wax to settle in and create such a perfect, distressed and aged look. Gold gilding wax also looked great on those column legs.
Gilding wax tip:
A little goes a long way! Seriously, use a fine-tipped brush and wipe it back to get your achieved luster. Let it set and then buff lightly. Ahhh – so rich!
More photos here.

As I think about the coming year and the things I’d love to take a brush to, a list is quickly developing:
1) A stenciled accent wall in my powder room
2) A mammoth hutch
3) My kitchen cabinets (I just want to wax them. They’re already an antique white color and I think the dark wax would make a huge difference!)
4) I’ve got about 5 pieces of furniture in my house that need a makeover, from dressers to a storage bench.
5) A TV console
6) A mini bar
7) More French chairs
I’ll stop now. Heck, I’ll paint just about anything! Give it a try folks – I think you’re gonna love it!

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Stacked Burlap Tree Tutorial

Recently I received a catalog to one of my favorite home decor retailers. It included gorgeous holiday items, like it does every holiday season. And every year, I sit, turn the pages, and day-dream about decorating just like the pages. (enter the loud, shrieking sounds of a tractor-trailer braking here) Why – because the stuff in this catalog is salty! I mean, geeze, why does everything have to be so friggin expensive?

When I spied their cute stacked burlap trees, I knew I had to have one. But wait, wouldn’t they look much more adorable in a little grove of trees – yes! However, each tree was nearly forty bucks! Damn, to get the three trees I really wanted – I’d have to spend the kind of money I spend on crap like, oh I don’t know – groceries!

So I made them…

Here’s how you can make your own stacked burlap trees, too.

Materials (all purchased at Michael’s craft store):
-Unfinished wooden plaque – I used small oval-shaped pieces – $1.49
-3/16″ wooden dowel (one dowel will make 3 12-inch trees) – $.39
-Wood beads with a hole through the middle – about .10 each
-Burlap – I got 2 yards of the red for $9.99 and a roll of the natural for $7.99 (You can get about 3 trees per yard)
-Paint, if you want to paint the wood base and bead

First, I painted the bases and beads white. After they dried, I drilled a small hole in the wood plaques, which became the tree’s base. Use a 3/16″ drill bit. Then I used a hand-saw to cut the wooden dowels down to 12 inches each. I inserted a dot of hot glue into the hole and inserted the dowel.

Grab your scissors and start cutting! You’ll be cutting and stacking strips of burlap that gradually go from about 4 inches in length down to a half inch. There’s no exact science here, in fact I never used a tape measure. As usual, I winged it.

Find something to make a small hole in the center of each piece. The tip of a pencil would work perfectly.

(okay, my finger nails are really not crusty, I swear – this is white paint!)

Slide the hole down over the dowel.

Start stacking your pieces of burlap. You want to turn them so that they are angled differently with each layer.

Get a good base going, and then start working your way up the three by cutting the strips a bit shorter in length. I used the previous layer’s length as a guide – I laid the last strip against the burlap and just cut the next row about a half inch smaller.

You will cut a lot of strips! While this is an easy and inexpensive craft, it does take time.

By the time you get to the top, your strips will only be about a half inch in width.
If you feel like the tree isn’t graduated enough, take them off and go back. I did that several times!

When there’s about a half inch of dowel left, it’s time to put on the bead.

Insert a tiny dab of hot glue into the hole.

And slide it on the top.

There ya have it!

I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. They look exactly like the pricey-retailer ones. Next I want to find white burlap and make a few more. Enjoy making your trees!

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Making a Sweater Pumpkin

I’ve seen sweater pumpkins all over the internet and Pinterest. They are adorable, especially when made in several colors and textures. And they look so easy. Guess what – they are!

Last night I was in my closet preparing to go to bed. I spied a sweater I’ve been hanging onto since last year, even though it wasn’t even close to fitting. My mind immediately went to the images of the cute, plump pumpkins from the net. Before I knew it, I was cutting it up.

First, I cut one side of the sweater out. As you can see, I cut around the arm openings.

Then I scoured my house searching for something to stuff it with. Ideally, you would want to use fiber fill or craft stuffing. I didn’t have either. But, I had an old body pillow from my preggo days 6 years ago. It’s just been sitting in a closet, so I thought, “let’s tear that baby open!” CRAP! The stuffing inside was a mixture of shredded up paper, styrofoam and craft fill. What a mess I made pulling handfuls of it out!

After I plopped down a few handfuls of stuffing, I gathered up the edges and wrapped my hands around what would become the pumpkin stem. (Wow, I need to work on my photography skills – suddenly the sweater is grey!)

Then I tied a long piece of twine tightly around the stem.

Next, I took the long pieces from the stem and wrapped them down along the sides of the pumpkin and tied them at the bottom.

And like wrapping a Christmas gift, I then wrapped them back up the opposite sides, and made the final knot on the stem. This gives the pumpkin its ridges.

Next, I cut another piece of twine. And wrapped it up, up, up the stem. I knotted it off and that was it!
I also trimmed the tops of the sweater from the stem, so there wouldn’t be so much hanging off.

I had the other side of the sweater, so I made a second pumpkin. I love the rustic, hand-crafted look of these pumpkins – they just feel like Autumn!