Archive for September 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

halloween countdown calendar {tutorial}


Ooh, it's almost October! The leaves in our yard are finally changing colors and starting to accumulate on the lawn (thanks to the crazy wind storm today!), and Halloween is on it's way! I'm counting down, are you? Here's the story of how this beautiful Halloween countdown calendar came to be. . .

A couple of weeks ago I got to attend The Creative Connection crafty bloggers conference in St. Paul, MN. My super-amazing friend Kalli lives there, and St. Paul is just a few hours from me, so it was perfect for a weekend getaway! Her husband even watched ALL the kids while we were gone--could it get any better? We took some seriously inspiring crafting classes and learned a lot from the industry's best craft bloggers. I didn't want it to end! 
Here's the project we made with two of our scrapbooking heroes, Stacy Julian and Wendy Smedley. It's a tufted bulletin board with a spot for a family tree album (I didn't quite finish that part of the project yet, but it will sit nicely at the bottom). Not the best pic--this is from my OttLite giveaway post yesterday, but you get the idea. Cute, right? We did it all--tufted the board, painted/stained the frame, put the frame together, made the collage--whew! It was a major project and so much fun! Here we are with our fabulous teachers. 

We also took a class from Leslie Shewring about creating inspiration boards. We learned about taking colors, textures, shapes, and images and putting them together to help us find our creative voice (and organize projects, which isn't easy for us creative types!). Leslie also challenged us to choose colors we wouldn't normally choose, and I was floored at the results. Very, well, inspiring! She was amazing! Be sure to check out her blog, A Creative Mint, if you haven't before--it is pure eye candy, and she gives lots of ideas for inspiration boards.

After the conference Kalli was going to show me how to make this darling Halloween countdown calendar that she put together, but we just didn't get to it. She created a digital file using digital scrapbooking products with numbers 1 through 31, then attached them to a picture frame with book rings. Pure genius. Luckily I took the stuff home and got it done before October started, which is pretty unbelievable for me. And I love it! I stuck it in my Halloween table display and it worked perfectly. My kids are just chomping at the bit to start turning the cards over!

Halloween Countdown Calendar Tutorial

*5x7 picture frame
*3" book rings (look for these at office supply stores--I found mine at Office Depot)
*Cards with numbers 1-31, cut to about 3" x 4"
*Paper, ribbon, fabric, buttons, etc. to decorate your frame
*Crop-A-Dile or hand drill
*Paper adhesive
*Pencil or pen

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ottlite super awesome craft caddy {giveaway}

One of the best parts of being a craft blogger is being able to tell you all what products out there are actually worth buying (because I'd want someone to tell me!). Recently I received an OttLite Craft Caddy to try and it has taken up permanent residence on my desk. I'm happy to report that this is one craft supply you're going to want to put on your Christmas list this year!

Why is it so cool? Where do I begin? Well first, for obvious reasons, the light! It's awesome, just like natural light, helping you see details clearly and truer colors, which is always good for crafting. 2. It reduces eye-strain, so you can work longer (and later in my case!). Always a plus. 3. It's energy efficient, and bulbs should last up to 10,000 hours!

And last but not least, the base is a caddy (with removable cubbies) that holds your most-used tools! 

But wait, it gets better. It has a handle so you can move it from room to room! I love that I can take mine downstairs to use while I'm crocheting at night.

But wait, IT GETS BETTER! This has to be one of the biggest selling points for me. The base also features an extra outlet for your glue gun, sewing machine, whatever! After plugging in my computer, Silhouette machine, and OttLite, I don't have any extra outlets, so this is essential for me. Brilliant!

So did I convince you that you need one of these? Good, because we're giving one of these awesome OttLite Craft Caddies away! Here's what you gotta do. Check out the OttLite site, then come back here and tell us which feature you'd like best about this awesome craft lamp. I'm also curious about what craft you'd use this most for, if you want to share. Be sure to leave your comment by Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 11:59pm PT for your chance to win! Good luck!

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easy halloween banner and bunting {tutorial}

It's almost October--time to break out the spiders and skulls! This is definitely a favorite holiday around our house. This week I made a quick and easy Halloween banner and a couple of buntings to hang in my kitchen (I don't really hang it outside, I just can't get a good pictures of it because it hangs in front of a window, hence the outdoor arrangement). My boys came home from school, spotted it immediately and said, "Does this mean it's almost Halloween?!" followed by much hooping and hollering. I may have let out a little "hoop" and a "holler" myself. I'm not ashamed to say I'm looking forward to all those Almond Joys they're going to be handing over.

The only thing that could've made this banner (and the accompanying buntings) easier is if I had bought them ready-made! I made it all out of paper supplies I already had, so I saved money, too (all the patterned paper is by Making Memories). That's worth at least a few Almond Joys, right?

I started out by cutting letters to spell "Trick or Treat" on my Silhouette machine. I used the Rococo font found here (and on sale for $1 through today!). The black card stock I had on hand was not Stampin' Up!, which is what I usually buy, so it was a little thinner than I like. I solved the problem by cutting two of each letter and layering them to make them a little stiffer.

Next I sprayed them with spray adhesive (you could also use glittering glue or Mod Podge, but the spray is way faster and less messy--just make sure you work in a well-ventilated area!). I like to spray my things in a cardboard box to make sure the surrounding area doesn't end up sticky.

Then I set it on a paper plate and dumped Martha Stewart's fine glitter all over it. Tap it off and you have a sparkly, happy letter! Love it!

To string the letters, I punch two holes in the top of each letter with my Crop-A-Dile,

 and used a yarn needle threaded with sparkly glitter ribbon to pull the ribbon through the letters.

To make the paper pennant bunting, I cut strips of patterned paper into 2" x 1.25" pieces. Then I cut them into pennant shapes by hand (do it while watching TV and it will be done in no time).

Using my sewing machine, I stitched them all in a row, leaving 2-4 stitches between each pennant. If you haven't tried this before, don't be afraid to try it! Sewing on paper is one of my favorite things to do, and so far I haven't ruined my machine or any needles. I love how this bunting turned out. I wish I could have these hanging all over my house, all year long. . .they're so festive.

For the paper fan bunting, I used the leftovers from my Halloween bat mobile / chandelier and strung them on a piece of thread with a needle. (See our tutorial or video tutorial for the accordion circles for instructions). 

I love the layered look of the three buntings. They are the first thing actually making me excited about fall! Bring on the Almond Joys, baby.
Stay tuned for a fun Halloween countdown project and more glitter coming soon!

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Monday, September 26, 2011

baby blvd giveaway

We are thrilled to have Baby Blvd. back with us again to offer another fabulous giveaway to our readers!

In case you missed it, Baby Blvd. is a great Etsy shop that sells all sorts of wonderful scripture covers and totes. She also sells the patterns for a lot of her items which is great. You can make your own gifts!

I love the fabric on this one. . .

You have to go check out the Baby Blvd. blog. There are always great links, including links to giveaways and coupon codes!

Today Baby Blvd. is giving away a $35 credit to the shop. All you have to do to enter is visit the shop and then come back here and tell us what you would spend the store credit on if you were our winner. The giveaway will end Friday, September 30 at 11:59pm PT.

Baby Blvd is also offering 10% off to our readers until September 30th! Wow! Just enter code BIRDIE at checkout.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

halloween chandelier {tutorial}

Just in time for Halloween decorating, here's our "bat mobile" or Halloween Chandelier project, originally seen on eighteen25!

This Halloween Chandelier would look spooktacular over a dining table, in an entry way, or where it hangs in my house--over my Halloween-loving-son's bed! It just takes a few inexpensive supplies. 
*Embroidery hoop (painted black)
*Black tulle (about 1 yard off the bolt)
*5-6 yards ribbon
*Halloween-themed papers
*Glitter glue (optional)
*Transparent thread or fishing line
*Glue (I like Tombow's Mono Glue)
*2" round punch
*Paper cutter with scoring tool (or stand alone scoring board)
*Double-sided tape
*Halloween-themed brads (optional)
1. Start by making the top of the chandelier. Paint your embroidery hoop black. Cut 3 lengths of ribbon (depending on how low you want your chandelier to hang--mine were about 1/2 yard each).
2. Insert the end of one ribbon in between the inner and outer parts of the hoop.
Place a piece of double-sided tape on the outside of the inner hoop.
Fold the end over and press it down on the tape.
Push the inner hoop back into the outer hoop to secure. Repeat with remaining two pieces of ribbon. Tie all three in a knot at the top for hanging.
3. Now it's time to cover the rest of that hoop! Cut pieces of black tulle approximately 3" wide by 6" long. Tie pieces in a square knot around edges of hoop.

Tip: if you tie one square knot right over left, left over right, and then the next piece the opposite way, left over right, right over left, your knots will be finished at a slightly different angle, which will make for a fuller-looking hoop when finished. 
Optional: hang 3 or 4 pieces of ribbon from the hoop to add fullness.
4. Now it's time to add some fun Halloween elements to hang from your hoop. I used bat cutouts (cut with my Silhouette machine) and accordion circles. Cut 9-12 bats from Halloween-themed patterned paper. Optional: trace the edges with glitter glue for a little sparkle! Cut a matching one for the back (I used plain black paper for the backs of my bats).
Create accordion circles out of Halloween patterned paper (see this post for a step-by-step tutorial and this post  for a video tutorial of how to make these accordion circles). For this project, I cut strips 2" wide by 8" long and scored them every 1/4".
Punch a 2" circle out of coordinating paper (I used sheet music) and push a Halloween-themed brad through the center. Open the prongs and glue a circle to the front and back of your accordion circle to secure.

Apply a little glitter glue around the edges if you like.

I also created some mini accordion fold circles using a 1" x 4" strip and 1/4" scoring lines.

 Lay out your bats and circles in the way you want them to hang.
5. For the end of each string, I glued the transparent thread between two 2" circles. 
Next I glued the front and back bats together with the thread in between in the same way, alternating with the accordion circles. The circles were glued on with a 2" circle of black card stock on the back. Repeat until you have 3 strings of decorations.

Finally, tie your strings to the embroider hoop, spacing evenly between ribbon. 

Hang and enjoy!

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