Wine Bottle Christmas Decor

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World Market is a dangerous place. My roommate and I spend an hour last night wandering through its aisles, collecting an array of fun things for our home and our stomachs. Knowing I had a Christmas party to attend this weekend, I grabbed a bottle of wine for a hostess gift and turned to find a display of fun wine bottle decorations – like little scarfs, Christmas sweaters, etc. all sized down to fit a wine bottle.

Miniatures are simply the cutest! I picked out three different items that I was very tempted to buy. But I held back when I realize (like I often do) – I could totally make this!

And though I didn’t end up knitting a miniature scarf, I decided to make a pom pom one. Super easy and cheap to make. And as you know, I love making yarn pom pom. (See video for tutorial.)

Rosemary Wreaths

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Growing up, my mother had the best mottos to live by. My favorite: “Always know what makes you happy.” So when the struggles of life seem too much to handle, you know what activities or items can help pull you up. For me, crafting is my go-to tool for happiness.

My Thanksgiving was a week of personal struggles. I had to have surgery on my left eye. The anticipation was a heavy mental burden, and the post-op pain and physical injury was not easy either. So on Sunday after my surgery, when I was finally starting to feel more normal, I sat down and created a simple rosemary wreath.

I didn’t worry about taking pictures of my process (sorry), but trust me, rosemary wreaths are so easy to create. And I was able to use items I already had available.

I used an embroidery hoop as my wreath’s base. (You could use so many other forms, but this is something I already had at the house). Using more heavy-duty scissors, I cut 8-inch sprigs of rosemary from my parent’s garden. Then I made small bundles (with 2 or 3 sprigs each) and use a rubber band to secure each one. Then I used floral wire to secure each bundle to the embroidery hoop. And if necessary, I used the floral wire to secure a few odd sprigs that didn’t flow well in the circular shape.

And that’s it. The 30 minutes it took to create this wreath did wonders for my overall well-being. Plus, it made the room smell so wonderful! Pardon the cheesiness, but these moments of happiness are the best kind of medicine.

Etsy: A Relaunch

For those who follow me on Instagram, I have been teasing you for awhile with my felt food creations, but now I am excited to announce that my new-and-approved Etsy shop is open for business with felt sandwiches, Popsicles and even  s’mores.

I made the decision to relaunch my Etsy shop after talking to several people who have been on Etsy for awhile. They all found success by being specific – picking a single category or item and running with it. My original shop was a modge-podge of my creations. Naturally, the things I loved (and had a hard time parting with) sold within seconds of posting them, while items I wasn’t crazy about remained untouched.

After the amount of buzz I received for the felt food I made my nephew, I decided that felt could be my niche. The materials are inexpensive to purchase, and I’m able to produce each item in a reasonable amount of time. (Not to mention, felt is what inspired me to create this blog, and I would consider this a successful venture.) I relaunched the sho

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Check the site our for yourself – http://loveoffelt.etsy.com

 

 

Quick & Easy Birthday Cake Topper

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Every good bundt cake needs a little decoration. For a recent birthday dinner party, I made the Buttermilk Pound Cake with Buttermilk Custard from Southern Living’s The Southern Cake Book. Topped with fresh berries, this summery dessert is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

To match the simplicity of the cake, I created a cake topper that didn’t require many materials and is quick to make. First, I found a free printable for Chalkboard alphabet bunting online.

After cutting out the flags, I attached the letters using Elmer’s glue to red and white baker’s twine. Then I tied the garland to wooden dowels I purchased from Hobby Lobby. Carefully, I inserted the dowels into the cake. Simple, easy and quick!

* Sorry for the black and white photo. Living in the moment, I forgot to take a picture, but luckily a friend was able to send me this one.

** Also, in my search for a free printable, I found this really cool Fiesta Bunting I hope to use very soon!

A Custom Felt Playmat for my Nephew

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The brainstorming process for my nephew’s 2-year-old birthday present began about 2 months ago. I had seen ideas for a “quiet book” on Pinterest. Mostly made from felt, “quiet books” are these cute flip books filled with little activities that are meant to entertain and keep your kid still and quiet. I liked the idea (especially since Josiah is quite the jet-setter), but I wanted something bigger! (He’s my only nephew to make things like this for!) That is when I had the epiphany to create an awesome, felt play mat – customized for his life.

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I started by purchasing a yard of green fleece. In my opinion, fleece holds up better over time than felt. (Felt can shed and eventually start to ball up.) Though I planned to use felt for the details, I knew fleece would be a better foundation. Plus, fleece is much softer in case my nephew every decides he wants to use the mat as a blanket.

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Cutting out the streets and the buildings took a few days. (And as you can see, I let it take over the floor of my kitchen.) I cut everything by freehand, so I did experience some trial and error. Initially, I cut the streets pretty wide, but as I cut out more and more building, I made the streets skinnier to fit everything on the mat. (Plus, I found this cute wood cars that were the perfect size for my smaller roads.)

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With everything cut out and in place, I used no-heat sewing glue to glue everything down. The glue left marks at first, but they go away as the glue dries.

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Despite everything being glued down, I wanted to secure the felt pieces in place by sewing everything down. (I am giving this to a 2 year old.) I used clear and white thread, and it took about a week to finish since I sewed everything by hand. I also used embroidery floss to add a handful of details – like a sign for the gas station and items for sale at the market.

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The back side of the fabric shows all of the work, but no one wants to see that. So I found this adorable fabric at Joann Fabric that I used as a back piece.

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I customized this mat for Josiah, picking places that he would recognize from his everyday life. And from what I’m told, Jo loves some pizza and ice cream.

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Since they live right on the ocean, I added a beach with the surf club my brother belongs too. For the zoo, I decided to leave the space blank since Josiah has so many small, plush animals he could place there.

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I totally took this gas station/car wash idea from Pinterst. I’m obsessed with the car wash. It’s my favorite element on the whole mat!

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Dad’s office on the left, and a school on the right.

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Their local grocery store is Carrefour. I tired to copy the store’s logo. Though looking back, I’m bet I subconsciously picked a green roof because I shop at Publix. And then with a little extra space, I placed a blue U.S. mail box!

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The train station was a must! And this too is an idea I found on Pinterest. I cut rick rack into piece for the railroad tracks, and then used felt to create an accompanying train station.

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Last time I went to visit my brother and sister-in-law, we walked into the same music shop everytime we walked by it, so it was also a must-have. Plus, I think the little guitar and bongos look super cute in the windows. The fire station was added because I think it’s pretty iconic.

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These three buildings represent Josiah’s apartment on the right. His grandparents’ house is in the middle. And I added a house I thought could represent their good friends, the Wallaces. (Plus, I wanted to use the silhouette of that archway somewhere on the mat since it ties in so closely to where Josiah is growing up.)

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Finally, I added a Medena, or a little market. Of course, this is a lot smaller than the ones Josiah goes too, but I thought it was a needed detail.

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I attached the back piece of fabric the same as if I was making a quilt. I used basting spray to attach the two pieces together, and then I used denim fabric cut into 2-inch wide strips to bind the edges.

DIY Giant Jenga

Let me tell you about a bandwagon you need to jump on asap – Giant Jenga! After playing a couple of rounds at Good People Brewing Company in Birmingham, I created a set for my dad’s birthday (with lots of help from my grandmother). And it proved to be a crowd favorite when a bunch of family came to visit for a weekend in June.

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I credit my grandmother for constructing the wooden blocks. When the idea came to me, I faced the set back of not having access to power tools. I knew that if I had a circular saw, the project could come together quickly. When my grandmother heard about my dilemma, she offered up the services of the woodworking shop where she lives, and before I knew it, she had turned my idea into a reality.

Since I didn’t cut the blocks myself, I’m a little vague on a few details, but for the most part, the guys at the woodworking shop used my original instructions:

First, my grandma purchased 2x4x10 pieces of wood. (I believed she purchased white pine, but I could be making that up.) Then, using a circular saw, they cut the wood until 10.5-inch long pieces. Once cut, they sanded the edges, which my grandma said was a pretty laborious step.

They made 72 pieces, so when stacked in rows of 3, the set would be 24 blocks high.

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I went back and forth about painting the blocks. (I saw one idea on Pinterest that only painted the ends. Then by creating a corresponding wood dice, it created another version to play the classic game.) But in the end, I decided I liked the look of the untreated wood.

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Trust me, this game is a crowd favorite. It’s fun to join into the games’ strategy, and it’s hilarious to watch the huge tower come tumbling down.

DIY: Candy Buffet

At the bridal shower previously mentioned (see here), my friends gave me the task of creating a candy buffet. It was a causal request via text, but you know me, I naturally took it as a challenge to create the cutest thing possible.

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Choosing your containers: Every website I went to when researching candy buffets said the same thing: pick you container first. And in my experience, I completely agree. Before you take a step into a candy aisle, know how many containers you have and their sizes. (A game plan helps make shopping feel less overwhelming.)

And do not buy containers. Even if you don’t own them, ask around and borrow them. I went home and raided my mom’s collection of glassware. She had several of the round vases from my brother’s wedding. My grandmother gave me taller vases. And the bowl of pretzels is a salad bowl I use almost everyday.

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My mom also had these adorable letters from Valentine’s Day with ridges perfect for holding candy. And it was her idea to put the Swedish Fish in a glass fish bowl.

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Picking the candy: My initial problem was figuring out how much candy to get. I set a budget of $35 (though I did end up going over it), and we were planning on having 30 to 40 people in attendance. I avoided the candy at Sam’s. It was more candy than I needed, and each bag cost around $10. So I decided to pick a mix of name brand candy and cheap generic candy. M&M’s, Swedish Fish, Smarties, Sweet Tarts and Kit-Kat Bites covered the name brands. Gummy worms, Peach rings and lollipops were cheap and helped fill in the gaps. Plus, I decided to make chocolate-covered pretzels, which ended up being the most popular treat.

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Decorative touches: With your containers selected and the candy purchased, the rest is in the details. I found rolls of polka-dot brown wrapping paper at Target for only $1 that I used as the table covering. And then using string that I had around my apartment, I tried to decorate each vase to add touches of color. I found the candy scoops at Party City. I didn’t purchase a scoop for each container of candy. I figure since it was a relatively small party, people could share.

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To go bags: The candy buffet was set up in the middle of the party. So as the afternoon progressed, everyone came around for a handful of candy here and a few chocolate-covered pretzels there. But you could see it in everyone’s eye that they were hoping to take some home. For to-go bags, I found these cheap favor bags at Hobby Lobby. After buying them, I realized that they did not come with twist ties, so I set out of roll of washi tape to help secure the bags.

If you haven’t already noticed, my candy buffet uses several cigar boxes. Below, I used one to help store the bags and washi tape. Others were used to add a little height to some containers.

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Come with a plan: The day before the party, I mocked up the candy buffet to see what it would look like. I filled each container with its respected candy to make sure I had enough, but more importantly, I was able to think things through and play with different placement options. I’m so glad that I did this because when I showed up to help set up the next day, it was a little chaotic. People were running around everywhere, but since I knew what I wanted to do, I was able to set everything up in 10 minutes.

Plus, I made sure to bring my own essentials – scissors, tape and a sharpie – just in case. Since the party was not at my house, I was able to set up the buffet without having to search for these things. I just threw everything in a box and brought it to the party.

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Some people want their candy buffets to be themed in specific colors. Obviously, I didn’t go that route. I love how my candy buffet turned out so colorful and sweet. And it was so fun to pull it all together for an event celebrating such a close friend.

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A Simple Arrangement of Sunflowers

This past weekend, my friends and I threw a bridal shower for my friend Caroline. And though the entire shower could be described with words like adorable, sweet and beautiful, this idea for displaying sunflowers, I think, took the cake.

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I am obsessed with how simple the arrangement is. The trick is owning 11 bud vases that can support the weight of a sunflower. If you’re like me and do not, I’m thinking about investing in a dozen of these from Ikea. (only $1.99 each)

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DIY Ombré Crate Bookshelf

Four crates, three pieces of wood, a handful of nails, a tube of liquid nails and vintage wheel casters: the ingredients I used for my first attempt at carpentry. I will tell you this, it was not easy, and I was quickly frustrated by the frequency of my mistakes. But the end product is something I will always treasure.

This is how I built a bookshelf out of wooden crates (along with the lessons I learned from doing it wrong).

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Lesson #1: It is stupid to paint the wood before you start building.

Just stupid. Before I even bought nails, I painted two of the wooden crates, which proved futile. I ended up having to sand and paint them again once the bookshelves were assembled.

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Lesson #2: Liquid Nails are great, but make sure you have several wood clamps if you decide to use it.

Being new to the world of power tools, I saw Liquid Nails as an easier option – compared to learning how to use the power drill my father gave me. And yes, Liquid Nails are super easy. Using a caulking gun, I evenly distributed the glue, leaving an inch margin around the edge.

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I had two clamps (see the picture below). The wooden clamp on the right worked great, distributing pressure relatively evenly. The problem is, I needed like four more. The metal clamp did not apply pressure evenly. It really wasn’t that helpful. The other issue I faced was separation on the back side of the crate.

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Lesson #3: Wood sizes are not the same as the advertised measurements.

To make the bookshelves more sturdy, I decided to use three planks of wood – one below, between and on top of the crates. To do this, I purchased one 10-foot long 1×10 wood board. When I went to the cutting station at Home Depot, I had him cut the board into three 3-foot long pieces. And because the width of the crates is 9 inches, I needed him to cut one inch off of the width of the boards. Sadly, the Home Depot employee said he cannot do such a shallow cut.

I felt defeated. I do not own a saw – of any sort. These planks were going to jet out a whole inch. The perfectionist inside of me was going crazy. The Home Depot employee must have seen my face. “Well,” he said, “you know wood is not the exact size we advertise. It’s a known thing”

I look him in the eyes. Obviously, I did not know that. Sure enough, we measure the wood, and it is exactly 9 inches in width. The wood turned out to be perfect.

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Lesson #4: Don’t be lazy. Use painter’s tape.

I love the look of natural wood, but I wanted these bookshelves to have a pop of color. So my goal was to paint only the interiors, leaving the edges and outsides raw wood. I started out being a little overly confident, thinking I could paint within the lines. But quickly, I made a few mistakes here and there. Luckily, sanding the wood once it drys can remove the paint, but I learned that painter’s tape is the easiest, time-saving solution.

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Lesson #5: Craft paint is not ideal for this type of project. 

Though the small bottles of paint were nice to test paint colors, they definitely did not provide enough paint for the entire project. I had to go back to the store to buy several more bottles, proving to be less cost-efficent than if I bought a small can of paint from Home Depot.

I decided to use two different color to create an ombré effect (because Pinterest tells me it’s so trendy). I was hesitate about it at first, but the two colors I chose ended up being a perfect combination.

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Lesson #6: It’s important to buy the right size screws.

Though I did not make this mistake, I recognized that this is an important thing to consider. In my case, I did not need the screw to connect with the second piece of wood. I just needed to attach the wheel casters. With a 1 inch-thick piece of wood, I used 3/4 inch-long screws.

I found my wheel casters at construction warehouse sale – 4 wheels for $5. They were rusty and had flattened sides. (I liked how it provided some character.) But you can purchase brand new wheels at Home Depot for around $5 each.

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Securing the wheels in place, I made sure to measure off their placements first. (No one wants an uneven bookshelf.) I used a 1 inch margin from the edge.

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Finally, after a weekend and a few weeknights, the bookshelves came together to be the perfect addition to my apartment’s living room. And with my college days behind me, I’m sure it won’t be long until they are full of all the books I am reading “for fun!”

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