DIY Home: Front Door Wreath for Under $10

DIY Front Door Wreath
A simple, versatile front door wreath for less than 10 bucks? Sounds pretty good, right? It’s possible–and it’s easy!

A few weekends ago, we decided that our front porch needed a sprucing up. So we got hanging baskets of flowers, replaced the cushions on the loveseat and chairs for something more colorful, and added complementary throw pillows. Those things are not inexpensive. The finishing touch was a homemade wreath hanging on the door. And it cost me less than $10 to make.

All I needed was a wreath form (I bought mine at Walmart for $7–it’s the flat foam kind and it’s 15″ in diameter, but there are many varieties to choose from) and some scraps of fabric from my stash. I chose four batik-y fabrics and cut them into 1.5″ strips, maybe about 12″ long. There’s a lot of leeway here. Choose whatever fabrics match the season, your house, your personal taste…whatever! Then, all I did was sew the strips, small end to small end, with a quick pass on my sewing machine. You’re essentially making one REALLY long, skinny chain of fabric strips. I made a pattern with my colors because I’m a Type A personality, but it can also be random. Remember to turn your fabric ends right sides together so that when you don’t see the stitching from the front. Doesn’t even need to be perfect stitching because no one will see it. I really guessed at overall length here–it’s based on how large your wreath form is and how tightly you’re going to overlap the fabrics. But don’t despair, if you come up short (and I did), you can sew another chain and then attach it to the last one on your wreath.

Next, I anchored one strip to the wreath form using a couple straight pins from my sewing basket. I anchored it on the back of the form so that it would be hidden. Then I wrapped the fabric around the form, overlapping my fabric about half the width of the strips (personal choice). When I got back to the beginning, I anchored the last piece using one last pin to secure it to the back of the form so no one would see it. Finally, I took a larger piece of one of my fabrics (approximately 2″ x 14″) and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together. Then I sewed along the edge and pulled it right side out, making a flat tube of fabric. I used this as the hanger (see picture–I just put it on the wreath and folded the top edges into themselves and stitched). I found a suction cup in our junk drawer and attached that to the glass in our front door. This wreath is very light, so it doesn’t need much to hang. You could also use a regular wreath hanger or a Command hook.

That’s it!


DIY Kid Craft: Circle Punch Artwork

Circle Punch Crafts
I love any activity I can create for my four-year-old son that doubles as artwork for his room when he’s done. Actually, I have a shelf in his toy room where I display continuously rotating artwork.

These circle punch activities help develop hand-eye coordination while working on color sorting and counting. All you need is a ton of paint swatches (from Home Depot, Lowes, etc.), a craft paper punch — I used a 1″ circle punch — and some glue. Punching out all the swatches is the most time-consuming (and painful) part of this activity. I punched out stacks and stacks of swatches and put all the circles in a ziploc bag.

Then, I created some layouts in InDesign — there’s a rainbow, some just for shapes, and some that are a bit more complicated. There’s even one where I put the first letter of the color you’re supposed to use in the circle. CLICK HERE to download the templates I made for my son. (For the page with flowers, I used flower shape punches just to fancy it up a little. But use your imagination!!) Remember, for my templates, you’ll need to use a 1″ circle punch, but you can use anything you’d like if you make your own designs. If you use my templates, I recommend printing them on cardstock and dotting glue in the circles. Then, let your kids go to town!

Once everything had dried, we selected our favorites and framed them for the shelves in my son’s toy room. He had a lot of fun with these activities and I hope your little ones do as well.

DIY Home: Train Table Redo

Train Table Redo
Have an old train table in your house that barely gets any play time? We did! So how about a redo for less than $10? Let me tell you how I did this at my house last weekend.

My son has a KidKraft train table that came with a whole set of tracks. He loved it for about a year, but recently has not played with it so much because he’d rather build his own tracks on the ground than use the pre-made set. So, I was left with this big table taking up space in his toy room for nothing. But the thing he really did like playing with was his airport sets (he has two). The airport sets are rather large, so they used to stay in the closet until requested.

Last weekend I thought about how I could create more space in my son’s toy room to leave the airport sets out (since he plays with them so much). It dawned on me that the top of the train table, while having a specific scene painted on it (see BEFORE picture), is a completely open canvas if you turn the table top over. I went to Home Depot and bought a roll of black “faux leather” contact paper for $8. I know it’s supposed to look like leather, but to me it looked like black pavement, which is exactly the backdrop I needed to create an airport.

I just took the top of the train table off, flipped it over, and covered it completely in the contact paper. Then I put the table top back on, layed down the airport runway poster that came with one of the airports, and put both airport playsets on top. It’s perfect! I think you could also use it as a race track, if you’re confident in your drawing skills (chalk would probably work). Or you could make a racetrack out of yellow Duck Tape. And the best part (besides it costing less than $10) is that it’s still totally usable as the original train table with just a simple flip of the top.

DIY Kid Craft: St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow

St Patty Day

I was trying to come up with a craft for my 4-year-old son (whose name is Patrick, coincidentally) for St. Patrick’s Day. Something that would be colorful and educational. As with most crafts I blog about, it’s easy enough for a toddler to do with minimal supervision and you may even already have all the supplies you need.

One of my favorite tricks of the trade is to use paint sample swatches from the home improvement store for crafts. The colors are beautiful and vibrant, and the paper is nice and heavyweight–great for cutting and gluing. Whenever I’m in Home Depot or Lowe’s, I pick up an assortment of these paper samples in whatever colors attract my eye.

In one of my previous blog posts (CLICK HERE TO READ), I shared my idea of always having some pre-cut 5″x7″ and 8″x10″ pieces of background paper cut and available to your kids. This way, if the create something amazing, it’s already sized for framing.

Here is your supply list:

  • Thick paper cut to 8″x10″
  • Black construction paper
  • Gold glitter glue pen
  • Paint swatch sample cards in the colors of a rainbow
  • Paper punches (I used a 1″ circle punch and 1.25″ flower punch)
  • Gluestick or glue

I cut out a pot and a leprechaun hat from black construction paper and glued them to the page first. It helped my son for me to draw the basic shape of a rainbow on the page. Then, I swiped the glue over the first arch, and he grabbed the yellow punchouts and stuck them on the paper, following the curve (great for color sorting and hand-eye coordination practice). We repeated for each color of the rainbow. He didn’t get the colors in the correct order, but that wasn’t the point–I wanted him to work on sorting colors and following directions. To make the gold coins in the pot, we used gold glitter glue sticks on top of little yellow circles cut from the paint swatch samples. Once the artwork was dry, I framed it and hung it up with my son’s other masterpieces.

Hope you and your kids enjoy this craft as much as we did!

DIY Food: Insanely Easy Low-Cal Pumpkin Spice Muffins

pumpkin muffins
So this weekend, I made the most delicious, moist, low-calorie, low-fat muffins ever! I’d seen some posts on Pinterest with variations of the recipe, but after doing a bit of research and reading people’s comments, I decided that the simplest recipe was the best one. Here’s a list of ingredients:

  • Betty Crocker Super Moist Cake Mix (Spice)
  • Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin (15 oz. can)

That’s the end of the list. Can you believe it? And you don’t even need to measure anything! All recipes should be so easy.

Pour the dry cake mix and the canned pumpkin into a bowl and stir. It will be quite thick and will take some time to make sure all the cake mix has been absorbed. I used a whisk, but I’m sure you could just use a fork as well.

I lined muffin tins with liners and filled them each about 70-75% full. (This mix won’t rise as much as cupcake mix would.) I popped them in the oven and baked according to the cupcake directions on the cake mix box, until my toothpick came out clean. I was able to make 18 pumpkin muffins in total. I decided to put two muffins per sandwich size Ziploc bag and freeze them to defrost at will. I have one with a cup of tea when I need a pick-me-up in the afternoon.

I added up all the nutritional info from the ingredients and divided by 18, and here’s what I came up with for each muffin:

Calories: 97
Fat: 1g
Saturated Fat: 0.5g
Sugar: 11g

Trust me, they’re moist, delicious, and just sweet enough to feel like you’re cheating on your diet. If you are looking for a lot of flavor, you could add some pumpkin pie spice to the mix before baking.

DIY Home: Coasters, Coasters, Coasters!

I came across several tutorials on Pinterest before the holidays and thought that DIY coaster sets would make excellent gifts for neighbors, teachers, and friends. (I also made a couple sets for myself.) I should point out that, in my opinion, this is a very easy craft, but it’s time-consuming, and larger quantities are your friend. I suggest you make a ton at one time because you won’t want to go back and do this over again.

What I love about this project is that you can make it as customized as you’d like. I used scrapbook paper for mine. But you could use maps, wrapping paper, etc. But be warned to not use anything you print out on your home printer because the colors will bleed. Here’s a list of supplies:

  • 4.25″ x 4.25″ white bathroom tiles from Home Depot (I think they’re like 16 cents each…get extra in case you mess up)
  • scrapbook paper (or wrapping paper, whatever…)
  • paper cutter
  • Mod Podge (I got mine from Michael’s and used “matte”)
  • sponge brush
  • clear acrylic sealant (again, purchased mine from Michael’s)
  • roll of cork (purchased at Home Depot by the contact paper/shelf liners)
  • adhesive (I used original Tacky glue in the gold tube)

Note: The cork backing is optional. You could just get some felt and cut it up into small squares to glue to the corners of the underside of the coaster. I prefer to cover the entire bottom of the tile with cork because I think it’s safer for furniture.

I strayed a bit from the tutorials I read, but here’s what I did. I know it seems like a lot of instructions, but I promise it’s really easy!

  1. Cut your paper into squares. I used 4″ x 4″ squares so that my coasters would have a white border, but you could cover the entire top if you’d like.
  2. Spread out all your tiles somewhere you can leave them for a few hours. Spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over the surface of your first tile using a sponge brush.
  3. Immediately place your paper square on top, centering as best you can. You literally have like 1.5 seconds to slide your paper around before it sticks, so place it carefully.
  4. Repeat for remaining tiles, one at a time.
  5. Allow Mod Podge to dry (at least 20 minutes).
  6. Spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface of your first tile (right over the paper that’s affixed there now). Go either left-right or top-bottom and remember which you do.
  7. Repeat with all remaining tiles, applying Mod Podge in the same direction.
  8. Allow Mod Podge to dry (at least 20 minutes).
  9. Spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface of your first tile again, going in the other direction as the first round (if you did left-right before, apply the Mod Podge top-bottom).
  10. Repeat with all remaining tiles, applying Mod Podge in the same (new) direction.
  11. Allow Mod Podge to dry (at least 20 minutes).
  12. Spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface of your first tile again, going in the same direction as the first round.
  13. Repeat with all remaining tiles, applying Mod Podge in the (original) direction.
  14. Allow Mod Podge to dry overnight. The coasters’ surface will be tacky now, but the sealant will take care of that.
  15. Take your tiles outside and lay them all out close together. I did this by placing them on a plastic trash bag in the backyard.
  16. Spray and even layer of sealant across all the tiles at once. Follow the instructions on the can for drying time.
  17. Apply two more layers of sealant, allowing time to dry in between.
  18. Once totally dry, cut cork or felt and glue to back of coasters.

I tie them up with pretty ribbon into sets of four. Good luck! Leave me a comment to let me know how they turn out. 🙂

ADVICE: If you stack your coasters to store them, slip some wax of parchment paper in between to prevent the felt or cork from sticking to other coasters. That may not apply to everyone, but I live in south Florida, and it’s hot and humid here. Better safe than sorry.

DIY Holiday: Kid-Friendly Christmas Ornaments (Part 2)

plastic globe ornaments
Have you read my “DIY Holiday: Kid-Friendly Christmas Ornaments (Part 1)” post yet? (Click HERE to view.) I gave you instructions on some super-easy but surprisingly beautiful tissue paper ornaments.

Now, I have some other ideas to share with you. They’re so easy, and you may already have many of the supplies you need:

  • PLASTIC globe ornaments from the craft store (I get mine at Michael’s and they come in three sizes)
  • Assorted red, green, white, and clear beads (I just used whatever was in my stash)
  • Brightly colored feathers (from the craft store)
  • Glitter balls (I got these at Michael’s after Halloween on clearance–apparently, silver, green, and purple are now Halloween colors)
  • Yarn/twine (I used red and green yarn plus regular old twine)
  • Thin ribbon (to create a hanger)
  • Small-ish jingle bells (optional)

All you have to do is set out all the supplies for the kids. Then, remove the ornament caps and let the kids put everything inside the ornaments. (Obviously, some of these supplies post a choking hazard, so if your kids are really little, you’ll need to be extra careful.)

Then, you can put the cap back on. Again, I like to string a jingle bell onto a ribbon and use the ribbon to make a hanger as an extra touch. And since we’re using plastic globes, even if your kids drop them on the floor while making them (which happened in our house!), they should survive the fall.

There’s still time to make these before Christmas! Good luck!

DIY Holiday: Christmas Ornaments (Part 2)

christmas carol ornament
Here’s an idea for a simple and unique (albeit a bit time-consuming) Christmas ornament that you can make yourself with only a few supplies.

I’d seen this idea on Pinterest as a “kissing ball”, but with plain white paper and yellow pins. I thought it would make a beautiful Christmas ornament instead with a few tweaks. Here’s what you need:

  • Styrofoam ball from the craft store (about the size of a baseball)
  • Sheet music of your favorite Christmas carol (I just printed this out from my computer)
  • Flower-shaped paper punch (I had to purchase that at Michael’s specifically for this project)
  • Straight pins with colored heads (bought on Amazon, but I’m sure you could find them at your local fabric store)
  • Flower-shaped sequins (optional–found mine at Michael’s)
  • Ribbon (to make the hanger)
  • Glue

First, punch out a bunch of flowers from the sheets. Then, thread onto a needle one sequin and then one paper flower. Dip the tip of the pin in glue and insert into the styrofoam ball. Continue until you the entire ornament is covered, being careful to space out all the colors. When you’re done, you’ll need to add a hanger. I used some Christmas ribbon from my stash and connected the ends by overlapping (see photo). Then, I dipped a pin in glue and anchored it that way.

That’s it! These do take a bit of time, but I think the end result is beautiful!

DIY Holiday: Christmas Ornaments (Part 1)

spiral tree ornament
As you know, I really enjoy making my own Christmas ornaments. Here’s a cute Christmas tree ornament I came up with last week.

All you need is some wire (any gauge sturdy enough to hold its shape but pliable enough to be easily manipulated–I just used some I found in my craft bin in my closet), some beads, and needle nose pliers. I used “starflake” green beads as the main component of this ornament. I find these at A.C. Moore and I have them in green, clear, and red. They’re great for all kinds of Christmas crafts and I’ve NEVER been able to find these beads at any other craft store or online. Then, for the “ornaments” on the tree, I used a mix of random red, green, white, and clear beads I found in my stash. The gold bead at the top is a pony bead. If you don’t have gold, you could use silver, clear, or yellow.

For my ornament, I used a total of 30 green starflake beads, 1 gold pony bead, and 16 random smaller beads to represent mini-ornaments on the tree. I cut about an 11-inch piece of wire for that amount of beads (I like to err on the side of caution) and strung the beads on in a random order. You can absolutely use different amounts of beads than I used if you want a larger ornament. My ornament turned out to be about 3.5″ tall.

To start your ornament, I recommend stringing on the first bead (in my case, a gold pony bead), and then folding the wire back over and twisting it to secure that top bead (see picture). Then, just string on the rest of your beads until the ornament is a large as you want it. Then, snip the wire about 1″ from the last bead and twist that wire into concentric circles as far as you can. Then, I use the tip of the needle nose pliers to push the concentric circles against the bottom of the last bead to lock it in place. The final step is to twist the ornament into a corkscrew and add a ribbon hanger through the top bead. Viola!

DIY Holiday: Kid-Friendly Christmas Ornaments (Part 1)

tissue paper ornaments
I do so love making Christmas ornaments. And this year, I realized I have an ornament buddy–my four-year-old son! I had no idea he’d love it so much, but he thoroughly enjoys creating his masterpieces.

So I thought about what kinds of ornaments we could do together. What would be easy, kid-friendly, and beautiful? I came up with several ideas, all of which I’ll post on this blog. (Normally, I only post twice a week, but leading up to Christmas, posts will be more frequent.)

Here’s the first kind of ornament we tried: Tissue Paper Ornaments! They look beautiful on our tree and they make terrific gifts for grandparents as well. These ornaments are so easy that your kids can absolutely do these by themselves. Here’s your list of supplies:

  • PLASTIC globe ornaments from the craft store (I get mine at Michael’s and they come in three sizes)
  • Assorted tissue paper, all colors
  • Thin ribbon (to create a hanger)
  • Small-ish jingle bells (optional)

So what I did was set my son up at the table and lay out all the supplies he needed. I made one with him so he knew what to do, and then he took over. I probably have two dozen of these now. More than I need, of course, but the supplies are so inexpensive and he has so much fun being creative. Plus, he’s so proud to show off his work to anyone who will look.

Remove the ornament caps. Then, all the kids have to do is tear up the tissue paper into small pieces, maybe 1.5″ square (there’s a lot of room for error here). Then they can either squish the tissue paper tightly to form balls, or they can just crinkle the paper enough to give it dimension. Then, just stick the paper in the ornament, piece by piece. Since the ornaments are plastic, you don’t have to worry about glass breaking and any little fingers getting cut. Then, you can put the cap back on. I like to string a jingle bell onto a ribbon and use the ribbon to make a hanger as an extra touch. If you have more than one child, you could get fancy and use a glitter pen to write an initial on the ornament so the kids can tell which ornaments are theirs.

That’s it! Simple, right?