Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Caroline’s First Birthday: Good Ideas

Friday, December 16th, 2011

This feels a little bit self congratulatory (especially since the party hasn’t even HAPPENED yet, so I have no proof these things actually WERE good ideas) but I am pretty excited about some of the stuff I’ve put together. This is the 4th party I’ve thrown since I discovered how much I LOVE hosting, and I’m finally getting the hang of it. And by “getting the hang of it” I mean “not spending a zillion dollars on unnecessary crap” and “make sure the guests have fun instead of just making the pictures look good”. So here are a few of the details I think are worth explaining a little more in depth than the coming soon post-party picture post.

DIY lace paper

A fancy hole punch can make regular paper look expensive. I bought this Martha Stewart edge punch at Michael’s with a 50% off coupon I tore out of a magazine. I’ve had it in a drawer for months and has started to think it was a dumb purchase, but it ended up being PERFECT for Caroline’s invitations. Then I carried the pattern over to the signs for the cocoa bar, food labels, cocktail recipes and the favor bags. One $10 box of blank invites and one package of white cardstock was the only other cost. There are tons of patterns that would be cute for other party themes, but the lace worked nicely with my snowflake decorations.

Party favors

I’ve spent a lot of dough (PUNNY!) on stupid crappy plastic party favors in the past, but I’m really excited about this idea. I made two double batches – one pink, one blue – of sparkle play dough (using this recipe I found on Pinterest), divided each color up into 10 smallish balls, popped them in sandwich bags and stapled on a label. It worked out to pennies per favor and I think they kids will really like it. I also made a triple batch of plain white glitter play dough I’m going to have out with a bunch of plastic cookie cutters for the kids to play with at the party. They’re all going to be COVERED in glitter but I figure then they’ll just match my theme better.

Christmas tree turned into a Caroline tree!

Twinkle picture in action

I figured since the Christmas tree was already prominently featured as part of our decor (because it is a GIANT TREE covered in lights in the middle of the room where we have parties) I should make it more Caroliney for her birthday. I am very conscious of the “My birthday never felt special because it was too close to Christmas” problem EVERYONE I MET told me about when I was pregnant. I dreaded telling people I was due December 26th because they always told me about their mother/brother/cousin/dog who was born that week and has hated it their whole life. My attempt to prevent that feeling in Caroline is why we are having this party at all, so I’m doing my best o make the day ALL ABOUT HER. But really, photos + clothespins on the tree is a cute idea with ANY photos.

Which reminds me I made this:

I crack myself up.


DIY Pull String Pinata

I think this is the project I am most excited about. Ever since I saw Young House Love’s party post about their daughter’s 1st birthday I’ve been dying to try making my own pull-string pinata. The idea is a one year old is too young to smack a pinata with a stick (and also hello December birthday in New England, we’re INSIDE, maybe giving kids bats to swing isn’t the best idea) put they can pull a ribbon and have the treats fall out. To make the base, I followed their tutorial here. My original concept was a giant snowball or snowflake but I like how this ended up even better. I just folded coffee filters in half and glued them around with hot glue, overlapping layers.

Close up of the coffee filter petals

My last good idea isn’t so much a really good idea as just a “Why didn’t someone TELL me that before?!” I bought a small glass pitcher at Goodwill to put the cream of coconut in for my grown-up drinks. I figured no one could identify white stuff in a glass pitcher as cream of coconut, so I was just going to write on the glass with a black sharpie and it would be my cream of coconut container FOREVER. But it turns out magic eraser takes permanent marker off of glass super easily.

p.s. I have terrible handwriting

It also worked on clear plastic, which is perfect for my dipping sauces. Regular dry erase would get smudges and illegible as soon as it got dripped on/touched but I tried smudging the sharpie and I can’t.

I’ll try to have a full party recap up on Monday, unless I am so exhausted I end up sleeping straight through Sunday. It’s entirely possible.

Thirty Hand Made Days

Thankful Day 14: Crafty Inspiration

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I saw these adorable felt trees in my Garnet Hill catalog and decided I wanted them:

But $20 seemed pretty steep for felt and glue, so I set out to make my own (Also, they’re out of stock).


It was a LOT harder than I thought to a) get the cones the right shape b) get the felt tiers even and c) not burn the crap out of myself with hot glue. But after a couple of hours I came up with my own version which I think is just as cute as the original AND won’t make you throw your scissors across the room in frustration:

You could make them in any color combination to match your Christmas decorations (what, you don’t pick a new color scheme for your holiday each year?). Felt comes in TONS of colors and costs about 30 cents a sheet. I bought 11 sheets total but used only 8 of them for both sets of trees – plus lots and lots of mistakes. The only other cost was two 99 cent sheets of poster board, so DIY was DEFINITELY cheaper than store-bought. (I already owned a glue gun. Duh.)

If you want to do it the easy way, just buy a few foam/florist foam cones from the craft store. They run between $3-$8 each but there are always coupons and sales.

If you want to make it the cheap way, you’ll need a couple pieces of poster board. Trace something large and round (I used my egg plate) and cut out the circle. Then fold your circle in half, then in half again so you have lines showing 4 quarters.

Cut out one of the quarters and roll the board into a cone. The more it overlaps the pointier the cone will be. Use various size circles to make different sized cones for a staggered look or the same size a bunch of times for a more uniform look. I used a line of hot glue to secure the cone, but tape would probably hold just fine.

For the felt leaves, fold a square of felt in fourths (just like how you started your cone). Cut the outside into a scalloped edge (or points, or use pinking sheers, or fancy patterned scissors) then cut the center out so it’s a ring. Cut through the ring in one spot so it becomes a strip. Glue one end to your cone and wrap the felt around so it overlaps up the cone.

Repeat with more felt, varying your colors and lengths. Try to line up the ends so you can have a “back” that is less pretty and can face the fall.

To make them fancier, paint on a little clear glue with a paintbrush an dust with glitter, add beads as ornaments, or add construction paper stars to the top. So cute, so easy. At least now that I know what I’m doing.

Today, I am thankful for my creativity, perseverance and that cold water soothes hot glue burns.

Painted Shoes

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Because I’m too poor for real Louboutins and don’t really wear that much red anyways.

The trick is to find shoes with a) leather soles (as opposed to rubber or some other synthetic) and b) the right shape. The bottom needs to have a distinct edge, so you can paint just the sole.


Small amount of paint (I bought 2 colors but only used the blue for these shoes), cute but sort of boring pair of shoes (these Hollywould for Target, bought on clearance years ago but only worn once or twice), sandpaper, trim roller, small brush, acrylic sealant (meant for wood, found near the stain at the hardware store).

A note about the paint: You could probably use any paint you happened to have – this is from the hardware store, the kind you get mixed at the counter, but you could probably use craft store acrylics too. The important part is sealing it.

1. Wash off the bottoms really really well.
2. Sand the whole surface down so the paint sticks better.
3. Use a trim roller to get good, even coverage without any brush marks. The roller also lets you get right to all the edges without accidentally painting the side of your shoe too. Use a small brush to do the heel and along any of the spots you can’t reach with the roller.  I used 2 coats of paint and felt like that was enough coverage. Wait at least a few hours for it to be totally dry – I waited overnight.
4. With a wide brush, give the soles a coat of polycrylic sealant. The directions call for 3 coats, so I did all three, with a light sanding in between. Wait for them to dry completely. Sand it just a little more so it’s not too slippery – you don’t want to fall on your face.

5. Wear your cute new shoes.

Remember, you’re using paint, not magic dirt-repelling fairy dust. They’re still going to scuff and get less pretty if you wear them outside. The good news is you can sand off some of the crud pretty easily or repaint them for a special occasion.

My plan was to wear my adorable new shoes for BlogHer, but all the advice I’ve read recommends comfort over style. So if you see a girl limping around barefoot and CARRYING her patent leather heels with bright blue bottoms, come say “Hi”. And also “Wow, you sure are dumb.”


Thirty Hand Made Days

DIY Patio Makeover

Monday, June 13th, 2011

At this point, I’ve talking about the NEW PATIO and the BIG REVEAL so many times I’m afraid this is going to be sort of a let down to everyone expecting a Yard Crashers style makeover complete with water feature and hot tub and 12-foot fireplace. It is not that crazy. BUT. If you consider this was all done in 1 week by hand by two guys, two women and a toddler, THEN it is impressive. Two guys, two women and a toddler, who, I might add, have never built a patio before. Now you can be impressed.

One more time, BEFORE:






Good changes, yes?

The rock wall for the side garden is built out of the flagstone that used to be in our walkways. All the plants in this garden were transplanted – either from my own garden or from my friend Merin’s. The lights closest to the ground are actually solar powered. The lanterns on the poles are for candles – you put these little blue things in the top and they’re supposed to repel bugs (I think the definitely help).

Dining table from Walmart, dishes/glasses from Target. The adorable “floating” shelf was the result of a joint brainstorming session, where E and I decided we needed a buffet for dinner parties. E made it out of scrap wood from our basement and attached it to the fence with chain I spray painted green. Then I used some tape and 3 more cans of spray paint to make the design. It folds up flat against the neighbor’s our fence when we’re not using it and can easily be removed and stored in the winter. Roses & hydrangeas are from my garden, displayed in tin cans (spray painted of course).

Seating set, end tables & throw pillows from Target, firepit from Home Depot. Throw blanket is from Pier 1. Flower pots are from various places (including some I already owned & spray painted). Tray (that I spray painted) and mugs are from Goodwill. See that dark purple vine in the blue pot? It’s called “Sweet Caroline”.

Did you enjoy my attempt at a Martha Stewart worthy photo shoot? It’s been pouring rain for two days so everything is sort of damp and grey but it still looks pretty good. For a little reality check, here’s the patio during dinner on Sunday night:

And now for my absolute favorite part of the patio: nighttime.

String lights are from Target and plug into a super handy outlet right inside the garage window. The fire pit actually gives off enough heat to make a cool night comfortable and is PERFECT for s’mores making.

Showing my appreciation for all E's amazingly hard work


In case you were wondering, the total costs of the project were:

$2016.26 for the patio itself, including all the supplies, tools, stone, sand, gravel and plate compactor rental. (Not included: lots of pizza for the workers).

$1841.77 for EVERYTHING else, from the furniture and pillows down to the candles and plants.

Grand total: $3858.03.

We estimate that if we’d hired someone to do all the work for us, the labor and material total (not counting any of the decor or furniture) would have been at least $8,000. It was a LOT of digging.

Special thanks to my mom and dad who did at least 50% of the work on this and only had one night to enjoy it. I can’t wait until they come back again for more s’mores and wine on the patio.

Edited to add: You can see the much less glamorous doing-the-work photos and information here.

Thirty Hand Made Days


$0 Spring Wreath

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Sticks. Trash. Should be thrown away or at the very most turned into mulch.

I was out in the garden this week, cutting back a stupid useless vine of some sort that keeps trying to grow up the side of our house and stuffing it into a trash can to haul out to the dump. I looked at the bendy, twiggy vine all curled up in the can and thought “hey, it looks kind of like a wreath.” And then instead of doing the TOTALLY NORMAL PERSON THING and throwing it away I cut a few more branches, dragged them inside, trimmed them up and made a damn wreath.

I started with some long ones and just twisted them together. I used an extra thin twig to tie the ends.

By hand. With sticks. Sitting on the floor of my living room. When I could have been doing something useful like knitting or blogging or picking my toenails.

Then I twisted different sized twigs around and tucked in the ends until it was wreath-sized.

Oh but I didn’t stop there. I dragged out my craft box and glue gun and the felt flowers I made last year and decorated that bitch right up.

Junk I keep in a box for moments like this where I lose my mind.

I started with some ribbon and tulle and yarn, because those look nice on a wreath, right?

I really half-assed it on the bow

Then I used the glue gun to attach some felt leaves and flowers.

Hot glue: the lazy crafter's best tool

And because, hey, naptime lasts forever right? I’ve got all the time in the world to waste! I stitched up couple of little buds to fill in the gaps.

Just makin' it up as I go

A little more hot glue, a loop of ribbon for a hanger and BOOM. My front door has been spring-ified for exactly zero dollars.

Too bad I made a brown wreath for a brown door. Stupid.

Take your $6 stick wreath and SHOVE IT, craft store. Ain't got nothin' on me.

And that’s the end of today’s craft project. I’ll be in the kitchen, drinking wine straight from a bottle and wondering when my life became so boring this is what I do for fun.