Holiday Wreaths

Crafts

If you’ve been following my Instagram, you’ll have noticed that as per usual, I’ve been kicking off the holiday season in full force! In our household, the Christmas season officially begins on black Friday.

I’ve brought out the nutcrackers…

Said to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck, I love filling my home with nutcrackers during the holiday season. #themagicofchristmas

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Designed our Christmas cards…

And spent the last two Sundays making holiday wreaths.

After participating in a craft class three years ago at our local nature center, wreath-making has become a favorite family tradition and was a craft I was able to show a group of friends over a glass of wine and a cheese board.

Whether you’ve made a wreath before I not, I promise it’s a very simple, very rewarding project and encourage you to invite your friends and family over for a jolly-good, wreath-making time.

For full instructions on how to construct your first wreath, click here.

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How to Make Concrete Pumpkin Planters

Crafts, Decorating, DIY

During the fall, most of us are overcome with a strong urge to decorate, filling our homes with fake leaves and throwing Indian corn and scarecrows up on our front porches.

In your transition from summer to autumn, I would highly consider giving this project a try. For less than ten dollars, you can create two beautiful and unique pumpkin planters, pieces that you will be able to use for many years to come!

pumpkin

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 50 lb bag of concrete
  • Water
  • Bucket or wheel barrow for mixing your concrete
  • A concrete-mixing tool, such as a shovel
  • 2 plastic trick-or-treating pumpkins
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Styrofoam
  • Vessels to place inside the planters (we used gatorade bottles, but I would recommend something with straight and smooth sides)
  • An exact-o knife or cardboard cutter
  • Spray paint, acrylic paint and paint brushes (if desired)img_0388

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix your concrete following the instructions on the bag. We mixed our concrete by using a shovel and wheelbarrow.img_0397_
  2. Tape a small square of styrofoam to the bottom of your plastic pumpkins (this will be for the water to drain out the bottom of your planter).
  3. Spray the inside of the plastic pumpkins and the outside of the placeholders (gatorade bottles) with cooking spray.
  4. Set the placeholders on top of the styrofoam pieces inside the pumpkins.
  5. Fill the pumpkins with concrete while holding the placeholders steady. Occasionally shake the pumpkins to ensure the concrete is settling properly.IMG_0398_.JPG
  6. Once filled, leave the pumpkins to set and dry. If able, place them in the sun to speed up the drying process. I would recommend giving them 24-48 hours to set.IMG_0401_.jpg
  7. Once the pumpkins have properly set, cut away the plastic using a box cutter or exact-o knife.IMG_0402_.JPG
  8. Remove the placeholder inside each pumpkin.IMG_0415_.JPG
  9. Cure the planters by placing them in a bucket of water or misting them with a squirt bottle.

DECORATE:

We let our pumpkins sit for about a week, giving the concrete an adequate amount of time to set and cure.

If interested in decorating your pumpkins with paint, I would recommend first spray painting them with orange paint, creating a base layer for further decoration. I would also recommend two coats of spray paint, making sure you are filling in any small pores that may have formed in your concrete.

Once the spray paint has dried, you can use acrylic paint and a paint brush to fill in the your pumpkins’ faces.

FINISHING TOUCH:

Last, but certainly not least, fill your planters with mums or other fall-time plants.

And there you have it: two beautiful planters that you can use year after year for under ten dollars. So, what are you waiting for? Halloween  is only 6 weeks away!

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How to Make a Wreath

Crafts, DIY, Holiday

So, let’s talk wreaths. They are pretty cool right? Festive yet natural. But before you go out and buy a wreath for your front door, why don’t you try making one instead? As I mentioned in my last post, I went to a wreath making workshop this past weekend at my local nature center with my mother and grandmother.

As it turns out, making wreaths is both easy and cheap!

Here is what you need if you want try making one yourself:

  1. Floral wire
  2. Wire cutters
  3. A wire wreath frame
  4. Pine branches (we used frasier fir, but any kind will do)
  5. Decorations (such as bells, ribbons, pine cones, etc.)

wreath decorations

Now that you have gathered your supplies, here is what you’re going to do:

  1. Cut your branches into 5” pieces.
  2. Make small bunches out of your branches (4 to 6 pieces per bunch).wreath bunches
  3. Attach your wire to your frame by wrapping it around the cross section. In other words, wrap the wire where a horizontal wire meets a vertical wire.
  4. Lay one of your bunches down and wrap it twice with wire. Pull the wire tight to ensure it is secure.wreath frame
  5. Place your next bunch so that it is slightly overlapping the first, covering the wire attaching the first bunch.
  6. Repeat this process until your bunches go all the way around the frame.
  7. Tie off your wire, wrapping it around the cross section like you did when you first attached it.
  8. Decorate!

wreath

I wrapped a thick ribbon around my wreath to give it a little flare but you can also go for a very natural look, attaching only dried flowers, pine cones and other natural elements.

]Wreath-making = incredibly simple.

I was truly amazed and impressed when I saw a room full of beautiful wreaths from people who had never made one before!

I would encourage anyone to try this holiday craft. After all, who wouldn’t want a beautiful wreath hanging on their front door during the holiday season?

wreath front door

 

 

How to Find Your Christmas Spirit

Crafts, Decorating, Festivity, Holiday

It’s officially the Christmas season! This means the stores are decked out in Santa Clauses, the radio is blasting Christmas carols and the food industry is swamped with mint and gingerbread.

But what if, try as you might, you just aren’t feeling the holidays?

Well then, I have a solution! Below are a list of suggestions; tactics on how to become excited for the most wonderful time of the year.

christmas spirit 1

  1. Decorate. Personally, nothing puts me in the holiday mood more than decorating the house. Christmas lights especially send out serious holiday-mood vibes. I am also a huge fan of nutcrackers and enjoy displaying my collection this time of year.nutcrackers
  2. Attend a holiday production. This year Andy and I will be attending a production of A Christmas Story in Syracuse, NY as his younger brother will be playing Flick in the play. Most communities put on holiday-themed productions and religious ceremonies so be sure to check out what’s going on in your city! (Check out the show schedule if you live in the Syracuse area and are interested in seeing A Christmas Story).
  3. Do a Christmas craft. Tomorrow I will  be going to a wreath-making workshop with my mother and grandmother at the local nature center (more on this later). Check your local papers and Facebook accounts to see what holiday-themed events are happening in your neighborhood! Or perhaps do what I did below and spend time assembling a classy center-piece.christmas placesetting
  4. Read. Whether it is a Christmas craft book or a holiday romance, I find that seasonal books can not only give you that warm,fuzzy feeling but also help you embrace the season. Recommendation: Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog
  5. Watch a Christmas movie. Gather your family and friends and indulge in a Christmas movie. Classics, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Grinch are always a win but some of the modern titles such as Four Christmases, Elf and Fred Claus are both hilarious and delightful. Make some popcorn and enjoy a night in.

It is only the 4th of December, which means you have plenty of time to get in the spirit and have a fun holiday season. It truly is a magical time of year, so be sure to enjoy it while it lasts! (Just don’t go sneaking for presents like our naughty dog).

auggie and stocking

Feel free to comment below with other suggestions on how to create Christmas spirit!

(Photo credit for the last photo goes to Andrew Janitz)

Happy Turkey Day!

Crafts, Decorating, DIY, Festivity, Holiday

Posting once a week every Friday means that my weekly post will be falling after Thanksgiving on (duh-duh-duuuuh) Black Friday! A day when everyone will be out madly shopping as the Christmas season officially commences.

That being said, I thought I would throw an extra post out there this week to give you some ideas on how to have a creative holiday! While we all have Thanksgiving traditions that we live and die by, it is always fun to try new, creative ideas to spice up already established traditions.

Here are a few creative ideas you can add to your food-filled day:

  1. Homemade placemats. If you read my post from last week you know that homemade placemats can make great holiday gifts. They can also personalize your Thanksgiving dinner and table. Check out my post from last week to learn how to recycle textiles into these woven settings.

woven placemat

  1. Homemade place cards.
    Whether you simply stencil letters onto card stock or use different colored paper and ribbons for embellishment, place cards can add a fun and sophisticated look to your Thanksgiving table.
  2. Try a new recipe! This year I will be making something I have never eaten or made: Frozen Pumpkin Pie! Here is a recipe for one version if you also want to give it a go!

 

So no matter how traditional or trendy your Thanksgiving is, I hope that it’s a good one!

(Cover photo found via Google Images)

 

Woven Placemats

Crafts, DIY

Today I’m bringing some DIY to the site with woven placemats! Having taken a number of fibers courses at SUNY Cortland, I have been looking for a way to incorporate more weaving into my life. I can across this idea in a book and decided it would be a fun and inexpensive weaving project.

True to what I thought, this project was enjoyable, simple and may prove inspirational to those of you who are already planning holiday gifts. Below you will find instructions on how to make these placemats for yourself.

  1. Fabric: The first step, of course, is to pick out your fabric. I used fabric from Walmart, picking several designs from the quilter’s quarters you can find in the sewing section. Of course you can also find fabric at most craft stores or reuse textiles from around your house.woven placemat fabric
  2. Cut: Once you have your fabric you can proceed to rip it into 1”-wide strips.
  3. Warp: In weaving, the vertical strings (or in this case fabric) that you weave onto is called the warp. To make my warp, I tied the fabric strips onto my small tapestry loom which, conveniently enough, is the same size as a standard placemat. If you do not have a tapestry loom, you can make your warp on a cork-board, securing the fabric strips with push-pins.woven placemat on looom.jpg
  4. Weave: Once your warp is finished you proceed to weaving. Simply follow the basic over-and-under weaving technique (like I did) or feel free to get more creative!

(If you are using the cork-board technique you may need to use pushpins to keep your weave in place.)

5.Tie: The last step is to tie the tails of the fabric strips together, giving the placemat a fringe. You can leave the fringe as long or as short as you want.

woven placemat.jpg

So, whether you are making these for your own dining room or plan on giving them away as gifts, these placemats are a fun project that will also give you a sense of accomplishment!