Monday, December 12, 2011

Handmade Christmas gifts

Seriously... is Christmas less than two weeks away already??? How did that happen? This time of year is so crazy for us anyway as we have a lot of family birthdays crammed into the Holiday madness as well. My poor oldest is that kid who gets ripped off in the party category because his birthday falls smack in the middle of December! I fully intended to do a party this year... then I blinked and his birthday is in two days. The best I will be able to rustle up is Angry Bird cake pops for his pre-school class. Boo!

But  I have been busy at work with hand made Christmas gifts for almost everyone on my list! I am hoping to share at least a couple of them this week! The first is part of the gift for my son's preschool teacher. Since I am new to the whole "school" thing I don't know what people normally do for teachers. But we just love both of his teachers this year. They are so sweet and have made his transition from home all the time to part time school so enjoyable for him! I wanted to do something different than just a treat basket. (My usual stand-by gift). It started with a pin... of course.

Source: via Lori on Pinterest

I wanted to try something similar to this. To be perfectly honest; I got a little too ambitious and it didn't turn out exactly like I had in mind. Once again, I leapt into a project without thinking through all of the details. I think it cam out ok though.

I started with some inexpensive knit fabric from JoAnne. I got four yards and was thinking I could do the teacher gifts plus some for friends as well. And here is where I messed up. Instead of reading the instructions closely to realize I should have used two yards for the length. I figured the width of the fabric (58") would be fine. It is ok, but if you do one I recommend using the 2 yd length instead. I ended up using exactly 1/2 yard of fabric per scarf.

I found a quote about teaching I liked and used a Tee Juice marker (also found at JoAnne) to do the writing. I wrote it out in cursive and then sewed a little pom pom trim onto the ends of the scarf.

Here is the finished product.

Our newest family member trying to check it out. Please also ignore my insanely dirty floors!

I tried it on, but only got an iPhone picture of that. You can see that it is too short to loop all the way around, but I think it still works. 

Let me know what you think. What kind of DIY gifts are you all working on?? Seriously... I need some more ideas! :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Consider my halls decked!!

I've been a busy bee around here trying to get all of my Christmas decorations up. For some reason, this year I wasn't feeling the red pepper berry "theme" I have had the last few years. I don't know, I think at some point I seriously overdosed on red and now I just can't take much of it. Anyway, I have had a fun week trying to reinvent my Christmas decor minus the berries. I looked back, but I don't think I took good pictures of my house decorated last year.

Here is what I came up with for my mantle:

My stockings don't really go with the new look that well, but what are ya gonna do?

To replace my red berry topiaries I found these GIANT pine cones at Nell Hills. They sit perfectly in my Restoration Hardware cache pots. I tied my burlap covered vase with some wired gold ribbon and hung some simple ornaments from the branches. 

Some fake greenery also from Nell Hills, reindeer and my Twas the Night Before Christmas book purchased from the North Pole by my parents when they were in Alaska finish out the other side of the mantle.

I have always tried to keep my tree fairly simple. A couple of years ago I added picture ornaments to my tree and I love them. I love taking a trip down memory lane as we trim the tree. Showing the boys pictures of them when they were younger. I need to get a couple more of the frames I used to make them to add some new pictures this year. I try to add a couple new pics each year. 

This was me like a week before my oldest son was born. It was sweet.... at the time I didn't think I had pregnant face. You sweet blind girl!

And of course we can't forget past years Santa pictures scattered around the house. I love looking back through those. I think we may actually get one with both boys smiling this year..... maybe.

Since the decorating is done, I am excited to start our advent activities with the boys tomorrow. This is the first year I have actually gotten around to printing out all of our activities and putting them in the advent calendar I bought... ahem.... three years ago. I tried to focus on activities that would teach them about serving others during the season. Tomorrow we will go through our toys and pick some out for kids who are not completely spoiled!

Have you got all your Christmas stuff up this year??? What kinds of traditions do you have with your family throughout the season? 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas pillows

For the last couple of years I have seen people changing out their pillows through the seasons. Until recently I had the same red leather pottery barn pillows sitting on my couch since my first anniversary...... yeah I just celebrated my 10th. So I started a few months ago with my easy peasy placemat pillows then  I made these pottery barn knock offs. And let me tell you... since I discovered the beauty of the envelope pillow I have been changing my pillows out almost as often as I change my underwear.... ok that is an exaggeration.... but I change them a lot! If you don't know how to make an envelope pillow LEARN! Here is a great tutorial for them. I love them, because not only are they fairly simple, but it makes seasonal changes super easy. Just remove the cover and all you have to store is a small pillow cover!

Anyway, I wanted some Christmas pillows to add extra festivity! I saw these lovelies from PB!

Just precious! I figured I could make something similar. Mine don't look much like this one, more like inspired by the concept. I found some cute little knit stocking ornaments for $2.00 each at Target. Then I went to JoAnn's and got some trim for each of my pillows. (I made two) 

They turned out like this...

The pillows were made from more left over canvas from a drop cloth I had. I used a wide rick rack on the one with green stockings and pom pom trim on the red. I wanted the pom pom trim on both, but they didn't have the right color green so... whatever! I used embroidery thread to stitch on the lines. I bought a big bag of that stuff a year ago or so and it has been a fantastic purchase! Then I just tacked the stockings onto the front.

I still love the simple look of the PB pillow better, but I still like them. They are festive, and the little bells on the stockings even jingle when you move them around! 

 On that same Target trip I picked up a couple of placemats to turn into pillows as well.

It makes me want to start up the Christmas music... but I refuse until after Thursday.... then game on!

Monday, November 14, 2011

stainless steel stove for less

We have lived in our current home for about a year and a half now. We are blessed to have a large, very functional kitchen. While there is nothing actually wrong with the kitchen, I have known since we moved that I wanted to make some changes. Since we made over this kitchen I have fallen in love with bright cheery kitchens. 

Anyway, I thought I could hold out a while longer, but lately I have really been itching to get started. One of the overwhelming things about starting a kitchen update is the thought that it has to be expensive. Well, I have challenged myself to update our whole kitchen for less than $200! I mean, cabinets, counters and all! 
We shall see if it can be done! I mean a kitchen update for less than the cost of a new iPhone??? 

So, I finished my first project this weekend. I took our two tone (white and black) stove from 1993 to 2011 with........ stainless steel paint! This stove has bugged me from day one! But it works perfectly, so there was   no justification for a new one. Not to mention that blows my whole update budget more than three times over!

Enter Thomas' Liquid Stainless Steel. I had read about this stuff a while ago, but my recent itch for an update finally pushed me to make the purchase. It cost $35.00 with shipping. 

I ordered it online ( and got in on Friday. I started the process that night. The first step was to scrub your stove. Then... scrub it again....and again....and again. This step is not fun! I ended up using lemon and baking soda to get all the grease drippings from down the sides of the stove, between the cabinets and stove. It was during this process that I made a very disturbing discovery! Warning... if you have a weak stomach like me.... look away. 

Yeah.... this little guy was in a trap that we DID NOT place! Which means he has been back there since well before we moved in! Note to self.... clean behind the stove more often. I was gagging and hubs wasn't home so I had to deal with this myself. My boys found this hilarious! Me.... not so much. I am NOT good with this kind of thing!

Anyway.... back to the point! After I figured out a way to dispose of this without ever touching it... or touching anything that touched it (figure that one out). I moved on. Obviously I scrubbed a little lot more. 

Then got started layering on coats of the stainless steel paint. The key to success with this stuff is to paint on VERY thin coats. You actually want to get that streaked look that stainless steel has. So brush on with long deliberate thin strokes. The longest part of this process is waiting for coats to dry. I would brush one on, then go watch an episode of Bones on Netflix, and repeat. Bones episodes are definitely crucial to the process. :)

I ended up doing 4 or 5 thin coats over all. I let that cure over night. It is supposed to be a minimum of two hours before you add the top coat. I then applied three coats of the clear top coat using the same horizontal strokes. I love the finished product!

See how my cabinets match that pumpkin there? Not for much longer!

Stay tuned to see if I can complete my kitchen with the $165 I have left in my budget!!!

UPDATE: Read here for further information about my experience with this paint. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

For the love of Hoodies!

This is actually a project I finished a few weeks ago, but in the spirit of refashioning clothes thought I would share. I don't have a tutorial or anything, but if you all are interested, I think I am going to do a batman one similar for my younger son. So let me know and I will try to document the process better. 

When it came time to pull out our jackets this season, I realized we didn't have a light weight jacket that fit our older son. I went to Target to check how much it would cost to get a new "cute" jacket. They were $30! I really wasn't up for spending that much on a jacket that wouldn't get us all the way through Missouri's cold winters! So I checked the price of their plain Champion brand hoodies. I think this one was either $10 or $12. Less than half. I also purchased a clorox bleach pen... like $3. Those are the only purchases I made for this jacket.

After I made these jeans for my younger son. I wanted to do a Super Hero item for my older one as well. I used the bleach pen to draw some designs on the front and the back. The patch is a piece of canvas from a drop cloth. I drew the spider on and filled it in with embroidery. I also embroidered the Spider Man on the back. I love the end results and so does my son!

Here he is wearing it on his first field trip!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sweater remake

There is something about fall that makes me dig through my closet and scrap basket in the craft room and start playing match maker with items from each! I think it has something to do with the combination of high priced sweaters and spending more time inside because of the weather changes. Who knows... But I have a couple of fun projects to share. The first one is a simple target sweater remade into a lacy cardi with fun elbow patches.

Here is what I started with:

The first step is the scariest one..... Fold the sweater in half and cut right up the middle with a  good pair of scissors. It is at this point that you run around the house like a loon saying things like..."What is wrong with me??? I just destroyed a perfectly good sweater???"

Ok, now calm down.... start digging through the scrap basket to see what you have on hand....

Find some lace and ruffle it. You can do this on your machine, but I chose to do it by hand. 

Then I pinned it onto the sweater and at the same time pinned the hem in place. Pinning is essential!!! Between the knit and the lace it would be very difficult to wing it!

I could have stopped here and I think it still would have been cute.

But I wanted a little more detail. Upon shopping at the local resale shop I came across this cute t-shirt.

I thought the little patches would be cute on the elbow of the new cardigan. I forgot to take a picture before I cut my patches of choice. 

I attached a patch to each elbow. I tried just stitching them directly on.

The fabric was too flimsy to work so I found some heat n bond in my stash and attached them that way. Then ran embroidery thread around the edges.

For one final bit of detail I ran some embroidery thread in four rows around the cuff of the sweater.  

Here is the finished product. 

Warning: Lame pictures to follow!!! Hubs has been really busy lately so I took my own "modeling pictures" in our mirror. 

Stop laughing! 

I mean it!

Anyway. Now that your gut is busted... go find something of your own to remake!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Simple and Cheap wall baskets

I have been eyeing something like this beauty for a while now. I love the idea of carrying storage up onto the wall rather than being limited by what will fit onto your surfaces. While the basket below is a beauty, the price was a little out of my range... especially if I wanted more than one. 

Enter... the target dollar spot! Not exactly the place you expect to find a Ballard Design knock off. But when you are on a budget you learn not to rule anyplace out when looking for cheaper alternatives. Do you know how many talented bloggers out there have filled their homes with beautifully reworked items from the dollar store???? So, back at Halloween time I spotted these babies.

Notice the little ghost and everything on the basket. Now I am not entirely sure what made these baskets.... halloweeny. But they were $2.50 per basket. I walked past them on multiple trips to Target thinking how much I liked them. And then finally I was like.... they are $2.50 per basket!!! Just get them!

So I did. And I hung three of them on my wall behind my desk for collecting mail and other random items that find themselves laying around on my desk.

The only problem with these if you can tell from the above picture is that the bottoms only have wires going horizontally so mail and small items would slip right through. Hmm... what to do, what to do! Oh I know I call on my ever present super hero life saver....... Burlap! Come on.... you knew it was coming! I cut three little rectangles to line the bottom and voila!
Then, just because they still looked a little naked to me, I found some numbered tags at the local scrapbooking store to dress up the fronts a little.

And for less than $10.00 I have pretty little hanging baskets for storage. Now, these are much smaller than the Ballard Design baskets and not quite as charming, but they work well for my purposes.

So do you want to see a picture of my beautifully cleared off desktop???????

Too Bad!!! I don't have one to show you! Baby steps people.... baby steps!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Angry Bird obsession continued!!

As mentioned in this post my boys are currently obsessed with all things Angry Birds. After having bought a couple of costumes at the store for Halloween, they changed their minds and wanted to be Angry Birds instead! Of course they do! Since I am a sucker for home made costumes instead of the off the rack ones, I gladly obliged. I don't feel like I wasted money either. Seriously, boys wear costumes ALL the time, so the store bought ones will get plenty of use!

Fortunately, I am so very blessed with creative family members who are almost always willing to help when they are around. My younger sis came into town this last weekend and was wonderful to lend a hand in creating these "masterpieces". :) There is not a tutorial for this since, like most of my projects, it was a make it up as we go kind of thing. We went to JoAnn's and bought a couple of yards of black and blue felt off the bolt and then a few pieces of different color felt from the craft section of the store.

These are what we came up with!

Because on the game the blue bird becomes three I made a little stuffed one and his treat bag is also a blue angry bird!

couldn't get my little black bird to put his marshmallow down long enough for the picture!

Thanks again little sis!!! Couldn't have done it without you!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gap kids knock offs

A while back my husband and I were looking through Gap kids looking for clothes for our older son. Mostly because we had a gift card. Now, I love me some Gap kids clothes, but our kids are WAY too hard on their clothes to justify paying their prices. Anyway, they had an adorable line of Super Hero clothes, including beat up jeans with Super hero logos and what not. I decided to take a pair of jeans that already had a hole in them and try my hand at a copy-cat pair.

This is the pair I was using as inspiration 

This is what I started with.

I ironed some fabric I had on hand onto the shiny side freezer paper and cut it down to the size of a regular piece of paper. I then found a retro image of Super Man on Google images and printed it straight onto the fabric.

I cut the piece of fabric down to size and sewed it into the hole in the jeans. Not gonna lie.... that was the hardest part. I think they are skinny jeans so they barely fit over my sewing machine, let alone did I have space to move it around to sew all the  way around the patch. But, with some finagling and persistence.... I finally got it!

I used some of the Tulip fabric paint markers for some of the other embellishments on this project. LOVE these things!

After I got the patch in place, I added a little POW and Superman's famous quote "More powerful than a locomotive"

I also added a little Superman emblem on the opposite leg.

My little super hero modeling

Totally had to bribe him with chocolate to get him to do this for me!

Update: There was a question about weather or not the ink from the printer would hold up after a wash and the answer is yes! I just got them out of the dryer and Super Man is unaltered! 

I am pretty pleased with how they turned out. I am only nervous about the fact that I realized too late that I had not pre-washed the patch fabric. Yikes! I hope they hold up after a washing or two!