Winter hanging basket

I found a picture online of a great winter greens hanging basket, so I enlisted the help of my Aunt (who is a florist) for some help on this.  We gathered greens and berries from the grounds of a historic home in Louisville.  I think it’s a great way for you to teach kids about nature as well as get their help to put these great baskets together.

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Chalkboard Wall (guest post Corey & Cambrey Little)

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Chalkboard Wall

When building our new house, my husband and I knew we wanted a chalkboard wall that we could draw on, have our guests sign their names, create cool holiday messages, make grocery lists, etc. We can thank Pinterest for the inspiration! Lucky for me, my mom’s a teacher and my husband is a designer. So we had this one in the bag. My mom is an old school at that. It is 2012 and she still uses chalkboards in her classroom. She swears they are better than any white or smart board on the market. So thanks to her advice, and my talented husband who is a graphic designer/web designer/architect/creative extraordinaire (shameless plug – www.coreylittle.com), we were able to come up with the perfect Christmas chalkboard design.
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Here are the steps we took to achieve it:
1. After we chose the wall we wanted to paint (that took some serious contemplation), we set out to buy some chalkboard paint. We found a can at Home Depot for about ten bucks.
2. Paint the chalkboard wall (a no-brainer, right?). Quick tip – we didn’t use a primer. Just used 2 coats of chalkboard paint. The wall was light grey before.
3. Buy some good chalk. Any kind will do for the “seasoning” (see step 4) we got some really good colored chalk from Michael’s. The brand is Artist’s Loft (blue box) and it had 24 pieces in it.photo 3
4. After the paint has dried, you’ll need to “season” or prep the wall (think like you’re prepping your brand new cast iron pan). Basically all you need to do is cover the entire wall in chalk and then wipe it down w ith a damp cloth. This makes it easier to erase any future design and keep it erased for good. Remember in trigonometry class when you could faintly see the unit circle on the chalk board even though it had been erased weeks before? Anyone? Maybe that was just me. Moving on.
5. I mentioned earlier my husband is a graphic designer. He whipped up a really cool Christmas design in photoshop then had it printed on a transparency at Fedex Office. His dad happened to have an old light projector lying around and gave it to us. We used that to project the design onto the wall and trac ed it out with chalk. Voila! A fancy looking (but super easy) Christmas message on our new chalkboard wall.

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I can’t wait to see what we come up with next!

Christmas Gift Wrap

Last year I decided I was not going to give into the Christmas wrapping paper.  I really don’t like 99% of it and I wanted to spend my money on something creative rather than wrapping paper.  I found some butcher paper (or you can use craft paper).  Then I discovered that I could use my scrap booking tool, Cricut machine, to create a wonderful gift tag.  I got some great festive gold, red, white & silver scrap booking paper.  Then I made all the cuts I needed to  and used my sticker maker.  Some of the gifts I used initials and others I used the whole name.  Then for the final touch I used different textures of ribbon and yarn to create bows.  These gifts ended up looking more like my christmas decorations than cluttered gifts below the tree.

Burlap Wreath

Nothing gets me more excited then being able to create and give a gift to a friend.  I will confess that because I enjoy this so much that it’s very difficult for me to just buy a gift I don’t get excited about, espically by a certain date.  So this is why I’m always late on your gift or one time you may get something amazing and the next year I may completely forget your birthday… I apologize in advance!

All of that brings me to our project today.  It has been my stable, my GO TO gift for baby showers (espically little girls) over the last year.  My friend Ashley showed me last year how to start these wreathes.  The one below is my very first attempt, you can see how much better I’ve gotten over the last year!

Without you knowing this I’ve been building up to this blog post.  I felt like these wreaths offer so many options that I couldn’t give you 3 tutorials in one day so I have already outlined several elements I have already taught you!

Check out these posts for ideas-

Yarn letters/numbers for your wreath

Cloth letters/numbers for your wreath

Supplies:

Straw Wreath (For your 1st attempt I would start with a smaller one)

Burlap (caution: Red burlap fades if used in direct sunlight)

Scissors for cutting Burlap (I have a old back up pair because the material tends to ruin your scissors)

Scissors for cutting cloth

Hot glue gun

Lace or Ribbon for making hanger (I like wide lace the best!)

Fabric 1/2 yard per fabric should do for most wreaths  (I use between 3-5 different types and textures of fabric)

Ribbon of different textures

Quilting pearl pins

Tutorial:

-Cut long stripes of burlap, between 4-5 inches wide

-Hot glue one end of the burlap stripe to the back side of your wreath from the inside out, at a SLIGHT angle

-Wrap the burlap around the wreath working from inside out

-When you come the end of your strip of burlap hot glue it to the back of the wreath

-Start a new stripe of burlap until your whole wreath is covered

-Attach any letters/numbers you would like to with the hot glue gun (if you are doing a large letter in the middle you can save this for last)

-Cut your fabric for the flowers, free hand cut circles in different sizes of all the fabrics

You can see from all the various wreaths that for some I only used a few of these circles in small clusters, but like the one above I think I cut circles for 2 hours.  What look would you prefer? Some like to cover their entire wreath in these circles!

-To start this process I will take 2 different fabric circles (I like to start with larger circles) and grab them in the middle making a sort of stand up cone.  I put these two together on one of the pearl pins and pin it to the wreath at a angle.  I continue this over and over again until I achieve the look I desire, the great thing is you can remove any pins you want!

-After you have all your little round circles pined to your wreath take a step back and see how you like it, I always end up cutting a few more circles and adding more!

-The final step to your fabric circles is to secure them with a dot of hot glue.  I typically leave the pins in and just add dots of glue to secure the fabric to the burlap, don’t forget a circle, if you put this on the front door those pins can come lose easy with a strong wind.

-Cut your ribbon to hang your wreath from, like Steph said last week I don’t really love my wreath hanger I had so I just hang my wreath from a nail on my front door

-If you check out the first wreath in this post you will notice I also cut some small lace ribbon and burlap type rope to wrap around my wreath for additional texture, my friend Ashley has done this with leather ribbon and it looks awesome!

There really are a million different ways you can make these wreaths, I have friends that hate burlap and they have done virtually the same thing with cloth covering the wreath instead.  Let me know if you have questions or suggestions.

Brown paper packages tied up with string…


Try this project next time you have a gift to wrap. 

The 1st picture is my very first try, so it could have been better!  The picture at the bottom of the post is our Christmas gifts, you can tell experience helps. And yes it is cheaper than gift bags or wrapping paper.

Supplies:

Heavy Duty Craft Paper

Ribbon/Yarn/Bow (You can buy a bow as I did in the first picture or check out the picture at the end for other ribbon/yarn options)

Scissors

Tape, I like packing tape

For Letters-

Colored card stock paper (I like scrap booking paper)

A Cricut machine, die cutting machine

Sticker Machine

Alternate for letters- You could also buy scrap booking stickers if you do not have these sticker making tools or the time to do your own letters

Tutorial

Step 1: Wrap in Heavy Duty Craft Paper. (Price this out, the cheapest I have found in a retail store has been $3 a roll, it may be cheaper online). I let my husband wrap a couple and he isn’t the world’s best wrapper but with this paper it actually doesn’t look too bad.

Step 2: Cut yarn or ribbon for each package, depending on the size.  If using yarn I like to use at least 5-6 pieces per package. (If doing a series of gifts, I love having different textures of ribbons, different thicknesses etc.  I thought it gave it all some depth.)

Step 3: Tie ribbon or yarn around packages. (Or attach bow)

Step 4: Cut letters with Cricut using card stock paper.  I like to use shadow letters and normal letters, your Cricut should be able to give you instructions on how to do this.

Step 5: Feed letters into sticker machine.  If making shadow letters I advise making the shadows first, then make the actual letters in a different color.

Step 6: Put letters on packages.

Let me know if you have questions on any of these supplies or steps.