Tag Archives: craft

Halloween Decor: Paper Garland Curtain

DSC_1064 DSC_1106Despite having a cat who has to chase and attack anything that hangs or moves, I love having hanging decor (like these paper bats or floating candles). It’s a bit of a gamble having these in the house with Oliver, but I’ve been able to make it work so far by leaving them just a little too high for them to reach. He’s very upset about this.

With tradition of my love for hanging decorations, here’s another Halloween project that you can reuse from year to year and won’t cost you much at all. You might even have the supplies already in your closet. I made this stitched paper garland curtain to dangle from a tension rod at the opening of my small hallway. It turned out to be a perfect fit and a nice Halloween decoration that is well out of the reach of my cat (despite his best efforts).

Here’s what you need:

  • Tension rod
  • Black thread
  • 1 1/2 inch circle punch
  • Black and orange construction paper or cardstock

DSC_0943First, use the circle punch to cut out as many circles as you can from the black and orange paper. Use what you have – I had black construction paper and orange cardstock, so I worked with them. If you’re buying new supplies, construction paper would be easier to manage because it’s thinner and less expensive, but the cardstock does look a little nicer. I varied my pattern with two columns of black followed by one of orange because I had more black paper than orange, and I thought black had a spookier feel to it.DSC_0967 DSC_0970Once you have a whole bunch of circles, load your sewing machine with black thread, lower the needle into the bottom of one circle and begin to sew down the middle. Go slowly if you can and use a tight stitch. When you near the end of the circle, place down another, lifting the foot if needed, and continue to sew circles together until the garland is about 3 feet long (that’s up to you and the size of your doorjam). At the end of the garland, lift the needle and foot, and pull the thread so that you have at least 5 inches to cut away. You want this extra thread to tie the string to the tension rod, leaving a few inches between each string until your door jam is filled (I used 11 strands).DSC_1097 DSC_1036With that, your curtain is complete and you have a creative way to add Halloween decor to your home, and in my case, bring some excitement to my otherwise dull hallway. Happy Halloween and happy decorating!

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Halloween Decor: Harry Potter Floating Candles

DSC_1102 DSC_1150If you’re familiar with Harry Potter, you probably remember the massive amount of floating candles in the Great Hall. Well, Andrew and I are pretty big Harry Potter geeks, so this floating candle craft turned out to be the perfect decoration for our first Halloween together in our apartment. It’s not too often that Andrew gets excited about crafts, but this one was actually HIS idea, and it came out wonderfully.

Here’s what you need:

  • Paper towel tubes (or wrapping paper tubes cut to size)
  • Clear fishing line
  • Clear thumbtacks
  • White colored paint
  • Cream colored paint
  • Hot glue gun
  • Short tea lights (the tall ones will be very difficult to hang)
  • White cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Clear glue

Paper towel rolls are the best size for these candles, but if you can’t gather enough (we made 7) you can also cut wrapping paper tubes to the size you want (just make sure they are big enough around to fit a tea light). Trace the bottom of the tubes onto a piece of white cardstock and cut out the circles. Use a clear but heavy duty glue to stick the circles to the bottom of each tube.

While the glue dries, paint the entire tube white and let it dry completely. It might need two coats. Once dry, use your glue gun to glue around the very top of the tube and drizzle it down the sides to give the appearance of dripping candle wax. Set aside to harden. One the hot glue is dry and hardened, paint over the drips with a cream colored paint – this will show off the contrast between the candle and the dripping wax.

Next is the hard part because you have to be kind of exact. Hold the tea light in the very top of the tube, where you will want it to sit inside of the candle, and measure where it ends. This is where your fishing line will cross and your light will balance on top of the line, so it’s important that you mark the exact point that you want your light to sit on top of.DSC_1140DSC_1158Using a sharp object like a thumbtack or safety pin, pole one hole on each side of the tube where you measured the bottom of your light. Thread the fishing line through the holes, leaving about 2-3 feet of line for the tube to hang from. Turn on your tea lights and set inside of the tubes, sitting on top of the string. Depending on size, it might not be a perfect fit, but that’s ok! You can use a little tape to hold it in place if needed, but you don’t want to glue the tea light to the tube because you will need to be able to turn it on and off.DSC_1106 DSC_1141Tie the ends of the fishing line to thumbtacks and carefully hang from the ceiling at varying heights. Turn off the lights and prepare to be amazed by the spooky Harry Potterness of these floating candles! We hung them above our dining room table, making our own (very little) Great Hall and creating a gorgeous ambiance. Enjoy!

Halloween Decor: Paper Bat Swarm

DSC_1122DSC_1136I’m a little behind on Halloween decorations this year, so this weekend I upped my game to get ready for our Halloween party this Friday. First up, I made this paper bat swarm in the corner of our living room with a combination of bats stuck to the wall and bats hanging from the ceiling. When it’s dark, it creates spooky shadows on the wall and when it’s light, well, it still creates spooky shadows on the wall.

This one’s pretty easy, and all you need is:

  • Several large pieces of black construction paper (way cheaper than cardstock)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Clear fishing line
  • Clear thumb tacks

First, fold each piece of paper in half. This makes the bat more symmetrical. Then sketch out half of the bat or, if you feel more comfortable, print out a stencil and trace it on to the paper. When you have at least ten bats, begin folding their wings to give them that “in flight” look. For mine, I folded down the very middle of the bat and twice down each wing, meeting at the wing tips.

DSC_1118DSC_1130DSC_1128Use double sided tape to adhere several of the bats to the wall, placing them facing upward so they look like they are flying. Tape toward the middle of the bat to allow the wings to show their shape.

Use a sharp point like a safety pin to poke holes in the middle fold of several of the other bats’ wings. Thread the end of the fishing line through the hole and tie several knots on the underside of the wing to hold it. Allow about 1-2 feet of line before cutting it. Do the same on the other wing and tie both ends of line securely to a clear thumbtack. You can also tie them separately, but I found it easier to hang with only one thumb tack per bat.

That’s all there is too it! Happy Halloween!

Rope Scratching Post

DSC_0582We went a little overboard shopping for Oliver when we found out we’d be adopting him. I’m beginning to understand why parents go so crazy buying things for their kids. I spent 30 minutes just trying to decide which cat food was the best option for our little 4-month-old kitten. In the midst of our shopping, I decided that buying a $25 scratching post was just not for me. Instead, I decided to make one.

Because we have carpet in the bedrooms, I decided to go with a rope scratching post. You’re supposed to choose a type of material that isn’t in your house. For example, if you have carpet and have a carpet scratching post, your cat might think that scratching carpet is okay. We didn’t want that, but rope posts are a tad more expensive, especially for a good one.

Let me start off with a disclaimer – this is not as easy as it looks. What I expected to take me an hour took me three days to complete. Seriously. But it was worth it.

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To make this rope scratching post, you’ll need:

  • Square, tall piece of wood, approx. 2 feet tall and 4 inches thick
  • Square, thin piece of wood, approx. 1 foot across and 1 inch thick
  • Sandpaper
  • Sisal rope (medium thickness and several feet long)
  • Non-toxic wood glue (I suggest Gorilla Glue)
  • Drill
  • 4 long screws

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First, sand down the post and base with sandpaper if not already smooth. My post was pretty beat up (got it for FREE at Home Depot), so it needed quite a bit of sanding, especially around the newly cut area.

Then start gluing the end of the sisal rope at the top of the wooden post. You will slowly continue to glue down rope on each side of the post, wrapping it tightly around the pole. The reason this takes so long, particularly if you use Gorilla Glue, is because it does not dry instantly, and you have to hold it down until it’s sticky enough to stay, which can take a long time. The rope is thick and doesn’t bend and hold easily, so it needs the glue to keep it in place or it will instantly break away from the wood. Gorilla Glue is meant to set permanently after about 30 minutes. Once you have the first row glued down at the very top of the post, it gets a lot easier but is still rather time consuming. This top row will act as an anchor, making the following rows much easier to glue.

I found that doing three sides at a time was the best approach if I laid the post on its side, pushing down one side while the glue dried and gluing two more sides, laying a heavy book on top to hold down the rope while the glue dried enough to hold it in place. I’d let it set for a few minutes and do a few more sides.

It’s a lot of work, but I promise it’s worth it. The glue you choose can make all the difference, but you want to make sure it’s a non-toxic, wood-safe glue so that it won’t harm your cat if they lick the post, which is pretty likely. It also needs to be tough enough to handle constant scratching and pulling. After you have glued down the length of the post (I stopped about 4 inches short of the bottom of the post), you can begin fastening it to the base.

In order to ensure the post is sturdy, I’d recommend using four long screws to attach the post to the base – one in each corner. Position it in the middle of the square base, marking with a pencil and gluing with additional Gorilla Glue if necessary, and drill four holes into the bottom. Use the drill to screw the pieces together. They should feel very secure at this point.

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That’s all it takes. Only a few easy steps, but it can be a long project. Do it a little at a time while you work on other things, and it’ll be done in no time! So far, Oliver prefers scratching my couch, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he warms up to it. Overall this project only cost me about $13, and I get to say it was homemade, which is really the reason I do all of this in the first place!

DIY Travel Laundry Bag

DSC_0231DSC_0217 I’m traveling this week, making stops in Omaha and Chicago for work. Knowing that I’d  be living out of a suitcase for a few days, I thought I’d take a shot at creating a travel bag for my lingerie. Ladies (and gentlemen), you know how it is. When traveling, you have to consciously sort the underwear you’ve worn and haven’t worn on separate sides of your suitcase or in plastic bags to make sure you can keep track. Same goes for socks.

Instead, here’s a solution to, what I shall dub, the “panty problem.” You can create this little zipper pouch with separate compartments for your worn and unworn items. Of course, you could make this on a larger scale for more clothing, but I think the small size is part of its appeal.

DSC_0204You’ll need:

  • Light canvas fabric (approx. one yard)
  • 2 zippers, 7 inches each
  • Matching thread
  • Pins
  • Fabric paint (2 colors)
  • Small paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Iron
  • Seam ripper (if you have one)

First, you may need some basic sewing knowledge for this project, something that I have little of. I enlisted my mom’s help for the sewing portion. She’s the expert. Cut two pieces of your canvas, about 8 inches by 16 inches.

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Run a very wide stitch on the long side of your fabric, leaving about a half inch seam. Then iron the seam open and pin your two zippers side-by-side, zipper sides facing down into your fabric and zipper heads facing inward towards each other. You will use a small stitch to sew them into place, going around the ends in a square, pulling the pins out at you go. I know it seems weird – sewing your zipper down into stitched fabric, but once the zippers are sewn, use a seam ripper or small scissors to cut and remove the original, wide stitch. This will give your zipper the proper look. At this point, open both zippers.

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Then, stitch down the sides and bottom, going around the corners in a square. Once done, pull the bag right-side-out through one of the open zippers. Your seams should now be hidden inside of the bag. Run one more stitch down the middle of the bag, between the two zippers, and then iron out any leftover wrinkles. Not too bad, right?

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The sewing portion of your bag is now complete! Use your pencil to draw what you would like to have on your bag, such as “wash” and “wear” with small pictures like I did. Carefully trace over or fill in with a small paintbrush and let dry, and then you have a travel laundry bag to take with you wherever you go.

I’ve only been traveling for a day, but I love it already! As I’m sitting here in my Omaha hotel, I’m thankful I made it when I did. Plus, it’s washable (assuming you’ve used fabric-safe paint), so you can clean it with your laundry when you get home.

Happy crafting!

Terracotta Pots: 3 Ways

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I’m not really allowed to own plants – they tend to live short lives under my care. To compromise my desire for plants and my lack of adequate plant care, I’ve taken on succulents. They’re small, which allows for easy placement, and they’re relatively inexpensive, which my small budget appreciates. The plants only cost a few dollars, and small terracotta pots with their corresponding trays are even less.

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Here, you see three ways to dress up terracotta pots with only a couple shades of paint, making it an easy weeknight project that you can finish in less than an hour.

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I gave the pink and gold one to my mom for Mother’s Day a while back, but the other two still sit on my dining room table. Amazingly enough, the plants are still alive and well. Let’s hope I can keep them that way!

DIY Personalized Gift Wrap

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IMG_5105I don’t know about you, but I find good wrapping paper expensive and hard to come by. Target (my go-to store for everything) generally has a pretty limited selection, and the good stuff can be pricey. Plus, I don’t always need an entire roll for small items.

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IMG_5088 Enter scrapbook paper and leftover scraps – you can wrap gifts with cheap, patterned scrapbook paper or dress up boring old wrapping paper with personal touches. If you’ve ever tried to nicely wrap something for an adult male’s birthday, you may notice that it’s really hard to find paper that is both not girly and not boyish. Using $.50 scrapbook paper, you can wrap small items with so much more variety than your average grocery or department store has to offer.

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For slightly larger items, take some plain colored paper, or perhaps even the white side of patterned paper, and use paint and a stencil to add the first letter of their name or even their full name. Similarly, dress up plain paper with stamps, watercolors and other embellishments!

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For an added touch, add ribbons and bows (I like to believe that even boys appreciate these things). Even though wrapping paper gets ripped off, people usually appreciate a nicely wrapped gift. Well, I do at least.

With Andrew’s birthday and my aunt’s falling on the same day, we planned a trip to Arizona on the river. Not only did I personalize my wrapping, I made Andrew go on a scavenger hunt around my aunt’s house to find his gifts. We had a wonderful weekend away full of lots and lots of celebrating. His actual birthday is tomorrow, so the celebrations don’t end here!