Wednesday, December 10, 2014

for the teachers on your list

It's that time of year... time for the crafters of the world to wearily run through the list of people left on their holiday gift-giving list. The long, LONG list of people that you had every intention of crafting some super-creative, handmade masterpiece for. Back in September. So, for once, you could be ahead of the game come December. And, I'm willing to bet that somewhere on that list is penciled... your kid's teacher.

Never fear! I have the perfect solution. Have more than one teacher on that list? No problem! This craft takes barely more than an hour, so multiples are a cinch. So, without any further ado, I present to you...


I first came across this idea via a Hobby Lobby e-mail. It had almost zero instructions. Mostly just a list of supplies. So, I winged it. They used 2 embroidery hoops for their wreath form. I'm not exactly sure why. They carry so many other wreath forms that are WAY more practical... like the chipboard one that I used. They also added a whole bunch of other do-dads that just complicated the whole process: alphabet blocks, tiny clothespins, etc. I simplified it a bit for ya'. So, here's what you'll need...

(1) 12" Wreath Form (I used a chipboard on from The Paper Studio available at Hobby Lobby)
Acrylic Paint (I used red... might go for a lighter color, like yellow, next time)
Foam Paint Brush
(2) Boxes of 48 Count Crayons
(2) Sheets Light-Weight Patterned Scrapbooking Paper (handwriting paper available at Hobby Lobby) 
(2) Sheets of Textured Cardstock (although red is pictured here, I ended up using blue)
(1) Mini Chalkboard (purchased these from Amazon)
Chalk Ink Marker (purchased here at Amazon)
Alphabet Stickers
Stickles or Other Glitter Glue
Hot Glue Gun
Scrapbooking Adhesive (I used my Xyron machine)
Staple Gun

Start by painting your wreath form; set aside to dry. 

While the wreath frame is drying, write your teacher's last name on the chalkboard using the chalk ink marker; set aside to dry. (If you don't like your own handwriting, you can always use white rub-ons as well.)

Sort your crayons, and put them in the order that you want to glue them. The pattern I used was pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black/white/grey... repeat.

Start gluing your crayons to the wreath frame. You'll have to eyeball the placement. I tried to match up the flat ends of the crayons, and place them at a slight angle like so...

You'll want to use the hot glue gun for this, and your line of glue will run about like so...

This is really the only nit-picky part about this project... making sure that all the crayons are facing the same way when glued down so that your wreath doesn't look sloppy. I like them with the "Crayola" logo facing up. 

Next, we'll want to start putting together our paper bow. Start by trimming the light-weight patterned paper. You'll want 2 strips that measure 1 7/8" x 12" for the bow loops (these will be cut with the letters running length-wise horizontally). Another two strips cut with the letters oriented the same way into 1 7/8" x 7 1/4" for the ribbon tails. The final piece will be trimmed to 1 7/8" x 6 1/2" for the middle loop on the bowl, but this piece will be trimmed with the letters running width-wise vertically. 

Now trim your solid colored cardstock into 2 strips measuring 2 1/8" x 12", 2 strips measuring 2 1/8" x 7 1/4", and 1 strip measuring 2 1/8" x 6 1/2"; set aside. Run your patterned paper strips through the Xyron machine (or apply scrapbooking adhesive to the back side of each piece). Center, and adhere them to the coordinating cardstock strips.

Now, we'll start actually assembling the bow. Take the 2 12" loop strips. Make a loop out of each strip, securing with hot glue gun.

Use the hot glue gun to affix the loops together where they are slightly overlapping.

Take the 6 1/2" strip, make a loop around the center of the bow; secure with hot glue.

Adhere the 2 remaining 7 1/4" strips together to form the ribbon tails.

Adhere the tails to the back side of the bow loops.

Adhere the bow to the top of the wreath using your hot glue gun.

This is the point where I lined the patterned paper edges with some yellow Stickles. Although, you can't see it very well here. But, I waited to add it so that it didn't crack while I was assembling the bow. Set the wreath aside, allowing the Stickles to dry. 

Meanwhile, add the alphabet letters to your chalkboard. I used Thickers. And, I secured them to the chalkboard with hot glue. Because, let's face it... as much as we all LOVE Thickers... their adhesive really doesn't have the staying power.

Affix the chalkboard to your wreath once everything is dry.

For hanging, I attached a length of ribbon to the top of the wreath. I adhered it to the back of the wreath using a hot glue gun. Then, for EXTRA hanging strength... I added a couple of staples with my staple gun. 

Voila! One teacher gift ready to go! Now, you can sit back and relax... until the next holiday conundrum befalls you!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Deck the Halls

So, about those wreaths...

Back in 2009, (I'm still having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that 2009 was five, yes FIVE, years ago) I posted a wreath that was made for a DT assignment for American Crafts.

That wreath is my most popular blog post of all time! I still get hits on it everyday. All of the flowers were handmade with American Crafts paper, and Flair. There used to be a full tutorial on how to make your own paper flowers, and instructions for assembling the wreath. But, those have since been removed. Not because I'm a jerk. I promise... I'm not. I'm ALL about sharing the creative process for almost anything that I make. 

Buuuuuuut (and here comes the exciting news), I am in the process of opening my own Etsy shop to sell these babies! You might have noticed that there is a link over there on the right that says "Visit My Shop." And, you might also have noticed that, as of right now... that link leads off into the never never land of the interwebs. I promise, that's changing soon!

As soon as this baby is born (Did I mention that I'm 39 1/2 weeks pregnant?), I'll be more focused on getting it opened. In the meantime, while this baby gets ready to make his grand appearance (I swear, he's never coming out)... I've been making plenty of samples. The files are all ready to go to my shop designer (the fabulous Rebekah from Le Charmed Boutique that is responsible for my beautiful blog redesign). I finally found shipping boxes that are just the right size too! That took a little more time, and research than expected. As soon as they land on my doorstep, I already have a couple wreaths to pop in the mail! Not much left to do!

Some things have changed with the wreaths, though. They are no longer made of paper. That was a tedious material to work with! They are now made of crafting felt, sparkly tulle, and jewels!

The whole idea behind the shop is to have the wreaths available for custom order, made just for you at the time of purchase. You can pick your colors, and prints. In addition to the custom orders, there will be a limited number of pre-made wreaths available for sale. For example, this Christmas design that I finished this afternoon...

When I first pondered opening an Etsy store, it was at the suggestion of my husband and a good friend. A friend who happens to be a fellow cheer mom. People are always surprised to learn that I have a 10 year old daughter that competes in all-star cheer. I don't fit the typical "cheer mom" mold. I get that. But, I'm WAY into it! And, it's a great excuse to craft... all sorts of opportunities there! As a matter of fact, that's how the inspiration for my "spirit wreaths" came about in the first place! I started making these in Hazel's team colors a couple of years back as Christmas gifts for her coaches and gym owners.
So, that was the whole premise behind the custom order spirit wreaths: being able to match them to your team colors. Or your home decor colors. Or your favorite holiday colors. Whatever floats your boat. This wreath below was made for a friend back in North Carolina that owns a cheer gym specifically for military kiddos. Naturally, their colors are red, white, and blue. But, this would also work great as a 4th of July deco... or for any military family on your shopping list...

Their are so many colors that will be available for you to choose from... 

So, be on the look-out for a grand opening announcement in the next couple of weeks! In the meantime, if you have any questions... please feel free to comment on this post or e-mail me at

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Aunt Hester's Snack Crackers

I'm convinced that I was born in the wrong era. When looking back through old family photos, and listening to the stories of my grandparents' epic parties... somewhere between 1930 and 1960 is where I belong. The stashes of old family recipes: appetizers, finger foods, snacks; they all lend themselves to a time where cocktail parties and entertaining people in your home were the height of sophistication. Then again...

Photos of my Nana drinking straight from the punch bowl. Stories of my Pop standing on his head, playing the kazoo. While, perhaps, not the height of sophistication... they were definitely the life of the party!

And, we all know that you can't host a proper party without some tasty munchies spread throughout the venue! Another one of my grandparents' frequent party-goers was my Aunt Hester.

And, with Aunt Hester, came her yummy bite-sized snack crackers! If you're in need of a quick recipe that you can just whip together for those last-minute party invites (or even just a treat that you can snack on while sitting in front of the TV), these are just what you need! 

Start of with 24 oz of oyster crackers, 1 heaping tsp dill weed, 1 heaping tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp lemon pepper, 1 pkg original ranch dressing mix, 1 C vegetable or canola oil, and 2 paper grocery bags. 

Fit one grocery bag inside the other, then start adding the ingredients in the order they are listed above. 

Roll the tope of the grocery bags down, sealing everything up, and start shaking for 5 minutes. Did I mention that this doubles as your arm workout for the day?

And, that's it. Seriously. It. Store the crackers in an air-tight container or Ziplock bag until ready to serve!

Now, since we don't really have any parties to attend this year... excuse me while I pour myself a bowl, and go watch Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with my husband!

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

This ain't your granny's cross-stitch

Paper-crafters have used embroidery floss for years. Whenever I hand-stitched on scrapbooking layouts, I always reached for my rainbow-filled box of DMC. It makes my heart happy just to look at it.
If you're a paper-crafter (or any other kind of crafter), I'm sure you've made your way down the needlework aisle of your favorite craft store once or twice throughout the years. Displays of patterns and cross-stitching kits abound: teddy bears, lighthouses, Precious Moments, baby gifts, scenic views. And, don't get me wrong, these are great patterns. But, they really just aren't my thing. Ya' know?

A couple of years ago, I was playing around on Instagram and somehow stumbled upon The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. Wait. You mean to tell me that there are all of these wonderfully cute, and creative cross-stitching patterns floating around out there on the internet?!? I soon purchased their Woodland Sampler, which was a monthly block pattern that was delivered to your inbox once a month just waiting to be stitched up into a final adorable culmination at the end of the year. And, thus began my cross-stitching obsession.

The Frosted Pumpkin remains one of my favorite companies to purchase patterns from. Their holiday patterns are THE BEST! Here's one of last year's patterns, Christmas on Gingerbread Lane, that I am working on right now. It looks amazing on some Stardust Aida Fabric. Everyone knows how much I love glitter, and the little silver fibers woven into this fabric add the perfect sparkly touch to your holiday projects (it is available in gold as well). Sadly, the sparkle of this fiber is never done justice by photos.
This year's Christmas Celebration Sampler is super-cute too! I just started in on that one as well, but I don't really have enough done to warrant a photo just yet.

Looking for something even more unconventional? Check out Grannie Panties. She describes her patterns as "Subversive and pop-culture themed cross stitch patterns to decorate your life and confuse your family and friends!" Nailed it. After visiting us this summer, and watching me cross-stitch... my brother-in-law requested her "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster" pattern as a Christmas gift. (Who doesn't love them some Office Space... and Geto Boys)? As you wish, Kaleb!

One of my absolute favorite pattern designers is Emma Congdon. Her beautiful typography based patterns are so fun, and colorful. Although I have yet to purchase any of her patterns from her Etsy store, Stitchrovia, there's the occasional pattern of hers offered up through my cross-stitching magazine of choice: CrossStitcher. It's a British publication, and their hard copy editions take a while to arrive in the US. With my need for instant gratification, I prefer to sub to their digital edition. It goes right to my iPad the day the magazine is released in the UK. Plus, I prefer to follow patterns via my iPad while I'm stitching anyway. So, it just works for me.

Anyhoo... I joined this year's Crafty Christmas Swap via Instagram. (Miss the good old fashioned snail mail craft swaps... they're alive and well on Instagram!) So, I needed something to make for my partner. Cross-stitching or paper-crafting? Such a tough decision. But, once I stumbled upon Emma's "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" pattern in CrossStitcher's December 2013 issue (digital subs are a great option for purchasing back issues of mags)... the decision made itself!

I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I hope my swap partner likes it! It was actually pretty quick to stitch up as well!

Another great resource for cross-stitch patterns? FREE! And, who doesn't love free? This takes a little more diligent searching on your part. But, CrossStitcher Magazine to the rescue again! The have a fabulous freebie section on their blog! Sometimes, you're looking for something more specific, though. This year, I tried to make as many handmade Christmas gifts as I could. And, my 8 year old step-daughter is a HUGE Rainbow Dash fan. So, after a bit of Googling... I found a free pattern.

Hope she likes it! And, here's a tip... Perler bead patterns (as long as they are linear patterns, as opposed to the patterns where the pegs are offset from one another) are interchangeable with cross-stitch patterns! We love us some Perler beads around here, so it's fun to switch the two crafts up! Think Perler beads are cheesy? Not so fast! Check out my Perler Bead Templates board on Pinterest for some super-cool outside the box ideas of what you can do with them!

Well, that's it for today. I hope that my post has inspired you to journey into cross-stitching. I promise... it's addictive! It's also super-relaxing. Nothing beats a rainy Sunday with a mug full of cocoa, curled up on the couch with some favorite movies, and your current cross-stitch project!

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