Friday, August 26, 2016

How did you miss this week's post?

Wondering how you missed Wednesday's amazing post?  Well I can promise you that it wasn't because you were too busy at work to see the facebook update (are we really ever too busy for facebook?) or that my scheduled post got transferred to some far off future date (DIY a million years later) no, no... it was none of those things.

Actually, it's because I've been super busy with this...

That's right... baby #2 is a-cookin'.  I've been dying to explain myself but my husband and I don't like to share our news publicly too early.  So all those times I've been late posting a new DIY (or never posted one at all) was probably because I was either 1- spending my time with my head in the toilet 2-laying on the couch like a blob or 3- going to bed at 8PM because I'm just so tired from chasing a toddler all day and being pregnant (seriously, how do you mamas do it?!)

Also- I've been itching to share a DIY table & chairs makeover post with this awesome Rust-Oleum paint that I got but my husband is very set on the "no painting while pregnant" rule.  He and my mom have both offered to come do the project for me as long as I direct them.  Really though, how sweet is that? Nonetheless, it's been a lot harder to schedule the time for that than if I was doing it myself.  (Psst... it uses the table and chairs pictured above!)

Now that you are filled in on my absence, bear with me.  I think I'm finally getting some energy back and occasionally my toddler gives me a break.  Maybe I can get some of these awesome posts to you soon.  I have a notebook full of ideas ready to be created!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Hidden Money" Savings Jar

Sorry I'm a day late posting- every now and then sleep is more important than editing photos!

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Purchasing items through those links pays me a small commission at no extra charge to you.  All items mentioned are products I personally use and trust.  Thank you for supporting my blog!]

Have you ever had to save up money for a "large" purchase- whether it be a vacation, new computer or just something fun you don't usually budget for?  My husband and I budget pretty well overall and set aside money for things like yearly vacations or for when the car breaks and needs a new part (we went through the Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" and use that method of money management).  We even take out $30 a month of "fun money" for each of us to spend on whatever we want- no questions asked.  This can be used on take out coffee, special treats, "frivolous" non-necessities really. I usually spend mine on personal crafting supplies.

For the first time (maybe ever) though, I really want something that's going to cost me several hundred dollars.  It's hard not to spend cash as it sits in my hand so I needed to think of a way to "set the money aside" and stay focused on my goal.  Here's what I came up with: (psst- keep scrolling to see the side of the jar- you wont want to miss it!)

Why I like it:
1. It's a mason jar and I love all things mason jar.

2. You can't see inside it.  Not only is this good because it's less likely to get stolen if someone were to break into our home but it's also less likely to get broken into by me seeing all that cash not being spent on scrapbook paper and fabric! #noselfcontrol

3. Because it is covered in chalkboard paint, I can write little notes on it that continuously remind me of my goal.

4. The chalkboard paint also makes it easy to add a "progress bar" that can be used over and over again (just erase and start over!)

5. It isn't tacky.  I can set this out anywhere in my home and mix it in with the decor and it would just look like another piece of decoration.

Are you on board?  Here's how to make your own.

First, gather your materials:

At the most basic level all you need is:

- Mason jar with lid

Rust-Oleum Chalkboard Paint (make sure you get the black- it also comes in green) Also- it lasts forever so it's worth the money for all the projects you can do with it!

- Sand paper/file

- Paintbrush.  I ended up using a foam brush instead of the brush pictured because I felt like it worked better.

*Optional Materials*

- Chalk

Acrylic Paint

Chalk Marker

- Anything you want to dress up the lid.  Check out this post to see how I made those pink flower tops!

Let's get started!

Step 1: Wash your mason jar so the surface is clean.  Once it is dry, mix up your chalk paint and start painting!
*at first it's going to look very see-through and you will think it's never going to work.  Let dry and put another layer on.  Now it's starting to look like it should. (It says to wait an hour in between coats but that is no necessary for this project.  I don't think I even waited 10 minutes in between them!)

Step 2: Once your jar looks like you want it to and is dry, get out your sandpaper.  Gently sand the lifted areas of your jar (for example: where it says "mason jar" or "ball" or "kerr").  For a distressed look, don't take all the paint off in these raised areas, just spots here and there.

{The darker spots you see are where the paint is sanded away.  That's the glass showing through.}

 Step 3: (Optional) Cover the entire jar with your chalk.  Turn it sideways and rub it on.  This is important if you want to write on it later with chalk because it creates a chalky-base that makes it easier to erase later!  Once finished, gently rub the jar with your hand or towel to rub in the chalk and get rid of the extra.

{I may have used my son's sidewalk chalk for this project when I couldn't find my own!  It works just as well!}

Step 4: (Optional) With the tiniest amount of acrylic paint on your finger, gently brush your finger over the raised areas that you previously distressed.  I like this because I think it brings out the distressing and the raised words better than leaving it with only the glass peeking through.

Step 5: (Optional) I added a "progress bar" to help me keep track of where I am in my saving.  Using the chalkboard marker, simply hand draw the outline and then fill in details with the regular chalk (doing this will allow you to easily erase the "progress" without erasing the progress bar every time you want to start over).  The chalkboard marker is also much brighter so it really stands out!

Step 6: Put your lid on and voila!  Now is the time to personalize your lid by painting it, covering it in fabric or adding a flower on top.  If you are going to be adding money frequently and want easy access without removing the cap, simply drill a hole in the lid before screwing it on.  Then you can roll up your money and drop it straight in!

That progress bar is my favorite part!  I even included a spot to keep track of my current total (since my bar only goes in units of 50)

...and the front again...

That's it!
What a cute and easy way to "hide your money in plain sight"!  I still haven't decided if I want to keep the flowers on top or do something else.  What would you do?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

String Art DIY

Have you ever made string art before?  I'm in love with the look but I wasn't sure I would be able to do it.  There are some amazing designs out there (check out these Etsy sellers below) that are super out of my league but surely I could do a basic design right?

*Seriously though, how amazing are those designs?  I love all things personalized (they make great wedding gifts) and those actual flowers sticking out of the jar?  Adorable!

Well, I could and if I can do it so can you!  I created a sign with one of my favorite quotes and planned to use it at my son's birthday party and to hang in his room as well.  It's an inexpensive craft and fairly easy to do.  Honestly, the hardest part is deciding how to run the string (maybe I'm just too indecisive?) but I think with a little practice these projects could be a breeze!

{I can't believe his first birthday was almost a year ago already!  This sign uses the blue/orange color scheme that looks oh-so-lovely.}

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Purchasing items from those links pays me a small commission at no extra charge to you.  All items are included because I use them and personally recommend them.]

Here's what you'll need:
- a piece of wood in size of your choosing
- Wire Nails (I got mine at Lowe's in size 1/2 x 19)
- Acrylic Paints (I used a combination of brands for this project)
- Foam Brushes
- String (pictured is jute twine but I ended up using DMC thread)

Sorry I don't have step by step photos for you but it's so easy you wont need them!

Step 1: Paint your wood and let dry.

Step 2: Using a pencil, draw out dots to "sketch" your design so that you will know where to put the nail holes.

Step 3: Using a stencil or free hand, add any message or picture you want to show up in paint. let dry.

{Love those colors}

Step 4: Insert the nails, leaving them stick up enough to catch the string.

Step 5: Tie the string onto your starter nail (I suggest a middle point) and start running your string around the nails.  Nothing is set in stone so feel free to play around until you get the desired look you want.  Straight lines are easy because you don't have to weave them but make sure you wrap your string whenever making a turn.  This makes more sense as you are doing it, I promise.  When you are satisfied with the look, tie another knot at the end and trim any extra.

That's it!  Imagine the possibilities!  I thought this arrow design was pretty simple but I'm excited to try some more advanced designs.  What design do you think you would make?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pom Pom Flower Mason Jars

Can you believe it's August already?  For most, school is getting ready to start back up and although Autumn doesn't "officially" begin for another almost two months, there is just something about August that seems like fall.  Don't you agree?  It also means that I have less than 3 months to get everything in order for my son's birthday party.  Sure I promised my husband that birthday #2 wasn't going to be as themed/ornate/detailed (pick one) as #1 was but a crafty girl still needs a theme- am I right?  Plus, at the rate I do things I really should have started 3 months ago.

That reminds me- this summer I put together a bridal shower for my best friend from college.  She is pink-obsessed and the shower was held at a tea house (so quaint!)  Because the location already had it's own "decorations" I was limited on what to do.  However, I think I managed a few cute pieces and wanted to share one of them with you today.

This project is beginner level with an expert look!  It also takes no time at all and costs very little.  Here's what you'll need:

- mason jars
- 6 inch pom pom garland (I got mine at the Dollar Tree for $1 a package!)
- paint for the jars
- hot glue gun
- scissors

I couldn't find a stock photo online of the exact pom pom garland I purchased.  It came in different color options and the garland had 6 pom poms per garland (package).  You can pick up the same thing at Walmart, Joann Fabrics or similar stores as well (but it's much cheaper at the Dollar Tree!)


{Martha Stewart brand via}

The pom poms come flattened and all you do is open it up and fluff out the pieces of tissue paper.  Before doing any of this however, I cut my garland apart, leaving around 4 inches of string on each side so that I could tie them closed and (later) tie multiple pom poms together.  When you have three pom poms fluffed, start tying them together using the rest of the string from the 4 inches you left.  Only the top and sides will show so try to make them as close together as possible from the top view (the bottom will be glued down so it's fine if it's flat).

Meanwhile, pour paint into your mason jars and turn them around to cover all sides of the jar.  If you need to touch up spots with a brush that's fine too.  Leave the jars sitting over newspaper or parchment paper upside down so that the extra paint comes out.  I'll be honest, I didn't use special glass paint- just leftover paint from my son's high chair!

All your parts are done!  Now it's time to put it all together.

With a hot glue gun, glue the lid and ring from the mason jar together.  Don't get glue on the threading though because you will still need to put the lids on the jar.  Next, flip it over and cover the top of the lid with hot glue.  Quickly attach a 3-bundle of pom poms to the lid.  Press firmly and repeat until you have as many as you need.

{The glue doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to hold}

That's it!

Screw the lids onto the jars and voila!  Easy and lovely jars for centerpieces, table decor, or whatever you want. I had so many people comment about how lovely they were and to think- they were just put together from leftover mason jars and dollar store garland!  I love those kinds of projects, don't you?

and a little closer up..

Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Favorite Crafting Resources

Over the years I have had many questions on my craft posts about what products I use.  Sometimes it's specific to the project but many times they are products I continue to use over and over again.  Because of this I've created a brief list of my favorite "go-to" products and why I love them.  Whether you're just starting out or looking for something that works just a little better- I hope you find this list helpful.

[Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links.  I have recommended products and companies that I personally use and trust.]

Paper Crafts:
The #1 rule of thumb for paper crafts (especially if used in scrapbooking) is to always make sure that everything you use is acid free.  If it's not it will discolor your papers and photos over time.

 -Fiskars Paper Trimmer
If you're doing any sort of scrapbooking or paper cutting outside of a snip (or if you can't cut a straight line to save your life like me) you need a paper trimmer.  I've had several over the years and the Fiskars brand has always been my favorite.  The link above will take you to the one I have now and it is SO NICE!  The replacement blades are pretty inexpensive for how infrequently you have to change them out and super easy to use.  I use this for all scrapbooking and paper/photo crafts.

- Tape Runner.
I'll be honest, I've been using a variety of tape runners over the years and haven't paid much attention to it.  I've even been calling them glue runners which is an entirely different thing!  While compiling this list for you however, I wanted to give you the best product out there.  In my researching I have found that the Scotch ATG is the highest recommended product available.  Glue Runners have a history of working well until around the 5 year mark when the glue disintegrates and you have to reattach all your photos, papers and embellishments (grrr!) The ATG is a little pricey upfront and takes a little "getting used to" but I think it would probably be the same learning curve for any new tool that I try.  (psst- this would be a good item to use a coupon on!)
*I will update this section as I try this product out myself.  I wanted to include this however because products like this are THE TOOL to use for applying photos and heavier items to your scrapbook pages.  Glue just will not do the trick and I only use tape runners when applying my photos (plus they are so much less messy!)

Elmer's Glue Sticks
For lighter weight paper crafts (such as the paper pieces on a scrapbook page) I use Elmer's Glue Sticks.  It's the same thing you used in Elementary school.  It's acid free and easy to use and you can purchase them for practically nothing so it's a cheaper option than using the tape runner on everything.  I bought 12 packages of them from the store the other day when they were on super sale for "back to school".  Stock up on them because they do go fast!

-Paper Packs
I am addicted to paper packs!  It's a great way to get a lot of coordinating papers at once without having to buy those pre-designed pages and they seem to have much cuter papers than individual ones in the store.  They usually run about $15-$20 depending on how many papers are in them but I always purchase them at 50% off with a coupon or on sale.  Some of my favorite brands are DCWV , Recollections (fyi they have the best cardstock paper packs for use with the Silhouette. It cuts beautifully!) and Amy Tangerine .

-Ball Point Glue Pen
I actually was introduced to this product about a week ago (thanks mom!) and I recommend it for one reason- scrapbooking.  I like to cut out individual letters for my titles out of paper (which of course isn't sticky) and used to apply each letter via glue stick.  This works fine except my fingers were covered in glue by the end of it.  This ball point glue pen allows me to apply glue in only the spots I need it and nothing extra.  If you don't use tiny pieces of paper in your crafts, it's probably unnecessary but if you're like me this is an awesome little tool!

Silhouette CAMEO 2 (Starter Bundle)

The Silhouette is a wonderful little machine that cuts all sorts of materials (paper, fabric, vinyl, etc) in the exact shape that you want.  And I don't just mean circles and squares people.  It cuts any font you have, detailed designs, logos, anything!  (Check out this Silhouette blog to get an idea of what all it does!) I originally started using mine to cut paper crafts and some t-shirts for family and friends but now I use it for our business to make custom apparel and decor.  I promise you, it is worth every single penny.  The link above is the exact starter bundle I have (except this is the newer version of the machine).  I like this option better than just the machine because it includes vinyl, tools, credit towards their store (which you can use to buy inexpensive pre-made designs) and tutorials.  It's perfect for a beginner.  Note:  I heavily recommend the Silhouette over the Cricut machine because it is much more versatile in terms of creating your own unique designs (and if you do choose pre-made designs they are much cheaper!)  Plus, once you start using it, you'll find it so easy to use!
Edit: The Cricut "Explore" does not require cartridges and has the versatility in designing your own shapes like the Silhouette does. My personal recommendation however is still for the silhouette Cameo.

Fabric Crafts:

-24x36 Fiskars Self Healing Cutting Mat

Yes, it's a huge cutting mat.  I have around half a dozen cutting mats in different sizes and brands but again Fiskars is my favorite.  Even when doing smaller projects (like baby bibs) I still prefer to use my 24x36 mat every time.  Smaller sizes are great for portability but if you are only going to invest in one item- this is it.  I would much rather have this one large one than five other sizes!  It gives you plenty of room to work and measure.  What I especially like about this one is that it is not only made from a "self healing" material (i.e. not as many cut marks = lasts longer!) but its double sided so it's like you are buying two cutting mats.  The price is hefty for sure but if you pick it up at a local store (like Joann Fabrics) and use a 50% off coupon it's not that bad (and definitely worth it!)

-Rotary Cutters (to be used with a cutting mat)

    - 45 mm
The 45 mm blade is my favorite to use as my "all purpose" cutter.  It's small enough to fit around curves in the pattern but large enough that it doesn't take forever to cut!  I have an OLFA brand one that I use most of the time but I also love my Fiskars that is contoured!  Both are great choices depending on which  hand position you prefer. (Both OFLA and Fiskars some in straight and contoured options)

    - 28mm
If you work on projects with tight curves or turns in them, I also recommend picking up a 28 mm cutter.  There is also an 18 mm but I personally find that to be too small to feel like you are getting anywhere with your cutting!  I have the one linked above (Fiskars brand) and it cuts beautifully.

Note: It's always a good idea to pick up replacement blades to have on hand.  They are super easy to change out and they do seem to last a long time between changes.

- Lip Edge Ruler

This is the brand that I've always had and it's lasted forever and is very sturdy.  The thing that sets this apart from the many other rulers/straight edges that I have is that it has a "lip" across the 5 inch side.  Why is that so great?  Because, when I am cutting something on my self healing mat I can just push the lip up to the edge of the mat and know that my ruler is creating a perfectly straight line for my blade to run across.  Trust me... if you are doing any serious amount of cutting (or hate wasting time) there is no need to try and get your ruler straight (and keep it straight while cutting!) if you can just use this ruler instead.  This is truly one of my favorite crafting items of all time.

-Spring loaded scissors

Spring loaded (or "easy action") scissors are the best invention ever to be made to the scissor world.  Okay, that might be dramatic but really, I try to only purchase spring loaded for 'regular blade' fabric scissors.  After you push down to make a cut, a small spring opens the scissors back up for you ready to make your next cut.  It doesn't sound like much but after a long day of cutting and sewing your hands will be thanking you.  They also make them in titanium (some people swear by that, I just use stainless steel and love them) and in a Micro Tip which I also have and recommend.  It is perfect for trimming tight spots and I prefer to use it to snip my thread ends and to take with me if I'm doing any little "hand sewn" projects on the run.

-Coats & Clark Thread
The link above is for a large pack of multiple colors but you can buy them individually as well.  It seems silly to recommend a thread to you but I have purchased "cheapie" threads before only to regret it.  If you want your project to last, C&C Dual Duty thread has been trusted for years by seamstresses everywhere- including myself!  Save yourself the frustration and use this thread for regular (non-specialty thread) projects.

-Bobbin Holder
My mom bought one of these for me and I love it!  The cushioned spots hold your bobbins in snugly and the clear front makes it easy to take a quick glance to see if you have the color you need.  It has a small hook on the top for hanging (I hang mine from a hook on pegboard just above my sewing machine)  The price on amazon is pretty good, especially for two of them.
They also have this Thread Rack for storing your spools of thread.  I think all brands are basically the same but this is the kind I have and again, I hang it from pegboard (but it does stand upright as well)

-Tissue Paper
You know, like for gift wrapping.  Pick up a few packs at the dollar store to have on hand or get this pack of 100 on amazon.  I use these all the time when I create my own patterns.  It's a similar material to an actual sewing pattern so it works great for pinning to fabrics, folding up for storage and for marking on (I make notes on mine like where to pin snaps, velcro, etc. or what direction the fabric should be with a sharpie marker)  Best of all, it costs almost nothing so if you start to wear it down from frequent use, just draw up and cut out another one!

Miscellaneous/Multi-Purpose Crafts:

-Cordless Glue Gun
I never had a preference on glue guns until my dad bought me this one for Christmas a few years back.  I love that it's cordless because sometimes most of the time my project isn't within 2 feet of a plug in.  Cordless glue guns do need to be put back on their stand after each use to keep the glue hot but I personally think the benefits outweigh that small issue.  There are also battery powered glue guns but they are mostly junk because they don't get as hot.
Don't forget to buy extra glue sticks to have on hand.  Glue sticks go fast so I always try to have a bag or two extra lying around.

- Acrylic Paint
If working on small projects that need paint, these bottles of acrylic paint are perfect for almost any material you could imagine (wood, fabric, styrofoam, terra cotta, plaster, tin, etc).  I don't have a favorite brand but here are a few that I trust:Apple Barrel, FolkArt and DecoArt.  If painting something bigger (like a large sign or a chair) these little bottles are not the most economical choice and you are better off getting a sample of paint from the hardware store.  They are great however for small projects and for having a variety of color options without having to buy or store huge containers!
Don't forget to pick up several packs of foam brushes for your painted projects.  They are extremely cheap and I prefer them over paintbrushes for *most* projects.  They can be cleaned a reused a few times but honestly I usually forget and throw them away.

-Silhouette CAMEO
Please see above (paper crafts) as to why I love this machine.  Please note that the link is for the CAMEO 2 which is the newest version.  I have the older version but am sure the upgrade is just a great!

-Printing Photos
I like to get my photos printed at Shutterfly because they frequently have a deal where you can get 101 free prints (just pay shipping).  Hint: If you only get 99 prints you pay less in shipping.  It's easy to upload ahead of time and they ship the photos right to your house.  In a pinch however, I also like to use the CVS photo lab.  You can get your photos printed instantly or in an hour and they are nice quality (I prefer matte finish for scrapbooks) and although a fair price, not as good as the Shutterfly deal if you have the time to wait.

-Mod Podge
First and foremost- if you are going to be a crafter make sure you are calling it Mod Podge and not Modge Podge.  Nothing drives us more crazy than that.  Join the club... say it correctly.  Seriously though, this is a great product for sealing up paper projects so that they last longer (and look nicer).  It comes in a variety of options including a matte finish , gloss finish , outdoor , hard coat and more.

...and it never hurts to have a hot cup of coffee and a cold glass of tea  (that's for my fellow Johnny Cash fans)

If you have any questions, just ask!  I hope you found this list helpful for your crafty journey!