Sunday, December 22, 2013

DIY Christmas Advent Chain Idea & Free Printable!

My family loves the DIY Christmas advent chain... but how do you make it look fantastic? My struggle is that it always looks like some scraggly chain that doesn't fit in with my Christmas decor.

So this year, I used cardstock that matches my home for the chain (as opposed to any old left over cardstock), then made a cute little printable to put in a frame (you can get it too... when you scroll to the bottom)! 

It hangs on the door from a ribbon on a wreath hanger. Then the kids can reach the loops, and it doesn't look like I just taped it to the wall... although I did just tape it to my picture frame. :)

Make your advent chain (many of us already know this tradition, but for those who don't: cut paper strips, write down the number of days until Christmas - one number per paper strip - then staple them in loops in order, and tear off each loop as you pass each day).

Now you need a place to hang it!

Get your picture frame and decide what size of the printable you want on the wall. My frame was square, and much bigger than an 8x10 - but my printer doesn't print any bigger than 8.5 x 11. So I chose a small square.

But my large picture frame needed a matte...

... so I framed my lime green Christmas wrapping paper! Then I added a blue border of cardstock and used my printable for the centerpiece of the picture.

However you choose to doll it up, frame your printable.

Next, hang it up! If you have wall space, great. If not, do as I did - find an empty door and grab your wreath hanger. Use a sturdy ribbon to hang the frame from the wreath hanger.

And last, tape the advent chain to the picture frame. The kids love it. I love it. Actually, my husband thought it looked fantastic too. And I can reuse it again and again. Yay!

In the spirit of giving, here is your free printable!
 And if you ask my daughter how long until Christmas, she'll tell you. Thanks to the advent chain. :)

Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Creative Gift Wrapping

Sometimes you want to give a magazine (or something like that) to a friend.  How do you wrap it?

I have the solution. Wine bottle tube.

 Just roll up the magazine and slip it in.

 I always like to add a little something extra.  Here I felt like a little cookie was just the thing.


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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wire ribbon gift bags tutorial

For Teacher gifts this year, I made little gift bags out of wired ribbon, then stuffed them with pocket size anitbacterial hand sanitizer, Ghiradelli chocolate, and kisses and mint bells.
 This is what I used: Hershey's peppermint bark bells and kisses, Ghiradelli chocolates,  Bath & Body Works pocket bacs, gold wired ribbon, at least 2 inches wide, and tulle on a spool.
Here's how to make it: Cut 28" of wired ribbon. Fold in half. 

From fold, sew a straight basting stitch to the end. Repeat on the other side, making sure to start from the fold, so the bag won't have a pucker toward the bottom/fold. Trim strings.

There's the bag. I slipped the pocketbac in the bottom, and two Ghiradelli chocolate squares. They fit exactly. 

Then topped with kisses and bells and tied of with about 12 inches of tulle ribbon. 
Here they are. Easy and cheap and flexible. Fill with whatever you want.
Happy Christmas! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

How to Thaw a Turkey... and How Long Does It Take to Thaw Him Safely?

Every year I hit the search engines to find out how to thaw a turkey. Inevitably, it's less than a week away from Thanksgiving before I wonder when to set my bird out on the counter... oh but wait! That's bad. Never set poultry out on the counter to thaw...

So I need it to thaw fast!

Once I find the answer, I have to do a separate search to find out how long it will take. That's always different because my turkey is always a different size. One year, it was small 8 lb bird. Another year we bout a 20 lb (ish) bird to share with other families and stash in the freezer for sandwiches. This year, we bought a home grown turkey and dressed him ourselves to put in the freezer. Homegrown turkeys can get clear up to 40 lbs or more! That's one BIG bird.

Then they make me do math. "Multiply your turkey's weight by this number or that number, blah, blah, blah...." I hate math.

So I made a handy little chart for myself. It combines the recommendations which seemingly all experts agree on from the US government to recipe gurus and frozen turkey suppliers. And it gives basic instructions at a glance - which makes this visual learner very happy. :)

So if YOU want to know how long it takes to thaw a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, 
search no more! Just use the chart below.

The top 2 methods are for my memory's sake. I use the "Combined Method" listed at the bottom.

Here's a brief example: my turkey this year is 26 lbs. I got it in the fridge 3 days ago, but I want to brine it tomorrow, so it needs to be thawed today.
  1. Find 26 lbs on the last chart with your finger.
  2. Move across to "3 days" in the fridge and...
  3. Tada! I need to spend 5.5 hours thawing my turkey using the sink method. That means, every 30 minutes for 5 and a half hours, I'm refilling my sink (with my turkey in it) with cold water. 

 Happy Thanksgiving week!  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Faux Wall

When you need a wall and can not have one put in, you get a little creative. 
So, I have this room that had a wall with a fireplace in the center.  It created a round-a-bout.  We could walk circles all day long.  But I had a problem.  I needed two separate rooms. I especially needed a wall.  We are renting this house, so doing demolition and an add on was not in the cards.... and is generally pricy.   I wanted something light weight, but substantial.  Then it hit me.  I could the use the concept of pipe and drape.  PVC pipe and cheep tab curtains I already had.  
Family room side of the faux wall (There is a tiny dog under the black bench)
other side of wall (which is now my craft room)

We made the panels 8 feet high and put them in 3 sections.
 To attached the center sections together, "T" connecters were just the thing.

 For stability and making it a "wall", "u" brackets were screwed into the drywall.

This project is not time consuming and is very inexpensive.  Power tools are optional (but I like to use mine any chance I get!).  Now I can work on my projects without the rest of the house seeing all of my glorious mess.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry Garlic: Halloween/Fall Front Porch, Halloween Wreath

3 different projects are in this picture. The wreath on the door, the aspen or birch branches, the tiny ghosts hanging from the top.

This post only covers the wreath. I will post on the trees and ghosts soon, though you could probably figure it out without any of my help.

 Parts: (All from a craft store):
Glitter Raven,
"Keep Calm and Carry Garlic" sign,
Yellow and black silk "feathers" (in the silk flower section, I think they were meant to be leaves...),
Green floral wire
Wire cutters
Hot glue gun
Hot glue sticks
Burlap ribbon
 I had 4 branches of feathers and I laid them cross-wise.
My pictures are horrible, I'm not a photographer. But the pics help, right?
 Turn the sign upside down and hot glue the branches to the center of the sign, fanning out the feathers to frame the sign. I used TONS of hot glue because my branches were pretty thick.

The back of the sign had hangers, so I wired the raven's legs to one of the hangers. I also strung the green floral wire from one corner to the other, just like a picture frame, leaving some bend in the wire so it would hang over the wreath hook. Then I hot glued the burlap bow to the wreath and hung the wreath up!

Keep Calm and Carry Garlic!

Ripen Green Tomatoes at the End of the Season

 Forgive the quality of the picture, but it's worth a thousand words.

To ripen green tomatoes at the end of the season, cut off the stems holding the green tomatoes, and hang them on a string in a warm place.  They will ripen on their own over a few weeks.

My very good mother did this in my storage room. She used a clothes line tacked into the wall studs. Then she draped the vines over the line, no clothes pins or clips or anything.

2 weeks later, ripe tomatoes were waiting for us! And I didn't have to lose the fruit to cold weather!

All the best!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Painted Dresser Revamp!

Here's another simple dresser refinishing project.

My husband's bachelor dresser needed a makeover in a serious way. It was brown. It was ugly. It was water damaged.

You see? Ugly.

Time to refurbish that dresser! Elephant Gray was the paint color choice, with accents of Brilliant White. With a little PINspiration (which my husband really liked), I chose to add a white pinstripe around the drawers and top. 

This was seriously SO easy! Paint it your solid color (gray). Once it dries, tape off some squares and paint them white.

And there's the finished beauty. I love it. I love, love, love it.
Next up: MY Dresser :)

Happy DIYing!  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Bouquet of Freshly Cut Hearts!

Here's a fun, easy craft idea you can do with your kids for Valentine's day... Make a bouquet of freshly cut hearts! Simply cut hearts out of differently colored and patterned papers, then make 2 slices in the centers.

Slide the hearts onto a skewering stick. Repeat until you have enough hearts and sticks to make a full bouquet. You can also tape together some of the skewers to make some hearts taller than others. We made several of each. You could also use popsicle sticks, or make a miniature bouquet with toothpicks.

Place them in a vase (if you stab the skewers into styrofoam and put it at the bottom of the vase, the hearts stay put, but it isn't necessary) and put them out on display! Add a little note from little hands, and you're done. :)

They could be used for your child's class valentine party, a teacher's gift - or in our case, a fun surprise for Daddy or Grandma. These are also a great little idea for simple home decorating.

Happy Valentine's Day y'all!

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