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Friday, January 30, 2015

{five minute friday} Valentine's Scrabble Coasters

Today's five minute project is all about spreading the love this Valentine's season! I made these adorable Scrabble tile coasters for our living room, but they would make a perfect gift for that special someone in your life!


A few weeks ago, I picked up two sets of unfinished wood squares at Hobby Lobby for just $2 each. They are the perfect size for coasters, and as soon as I saw them I envisioned them as Scrabble tiles.


As is often the case, I impulsively decided to start this project while the kids were eating breakfast, only to realize that I didn't have the color of stain I wanted to use. But then I remembered that I had several stain markers under stored under the kitchen sink - that's right, the very same ones I use to touch up wood furniture and baseboards. I grabbed out the Dark Walnut stain marker and quickly "colored" the coasters. This actually turned out to be really quick and easy {it took me just a couple of minutes to stain all four}, so it was a great solution and saved me a trip to the hardware store.


Best of all, the stain markers take no time at all to dry, so I was immediately able to give each square a really quick coat of sealer. I used the Americana DuraClear satin varnish sealer from Michaels that I often use on painting projects. Since I was trying to make this project as quick as possible, I just squeezed a bit of sealer directly onto the square of wood and used a small paintbrush to spread it around.


The final step is adding the letters and numbers. I wasn't about to paint them on since I wanted to get this project done while the kids were still eating breakfast. Instead, I used some black Expressions vinyl {left over from an earlier project}, and I used my Cricut to quickly cut the letters. This particular vinyl is outdoor rated, so I knew it could withstand a little moisture on the coasters. 


It only took me a minute or two to type in the four letters and four numbers and hit the cut button. And since the sealer I used dries very quickly, by the time the letters were cut, the coasters were dry and ready.


If you don't own a Cricut, Silhouette, or other cutting machine, you could easily purchase black letter and number stickers at a craft store. The squares are 4.5 inches across, so I made my letters 3.5 inches tall, and my numbers 1.5 inches. If you decide to use stickers or an non-outdoor vinyl, it would probably be best to seal the coasters after adding the letters, rather than before, like I did.
And that's it! I just about five minutes {and while the kids were still eating their first bowls of cereal} I created a set of Scrabble tile coasters that look so great on my coffee table that I might just leave them out year round!

 


Here are some other fun and easy projects to help you spread the love this Valentine's...


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

{seasonal style} Kate Spade Inspired Valentine's Decor

Raise your hand if you love Kate Spade. Yep, that's what I thought! Me too! I love all things Kate Spade, but those iconic black and white stripes and gold polka dots are especially swoon worthy! So when I decided to add some quick and easy Valentine's Day decor to our home, I drew my inspiration from Kate.



As you probably know by now, paper mache letters from Hobby Lobby are one of my favorite craft supplies. I've used them for numerous other projects {like the Restoration Hardware knock-off vintage industrial letters in Beckett's room, my Crate and Barrel knock-off HO HO HO letters, and our last name on our family photo shelves}.

There are so many fun ways to use these letters, and they are so versatile since they can be hung on a wall or sat on a shelf or table. I picked up two sets of X's and O's and started brainstorming ways to dress them up for Valentine's Day.


Even though we have pops of hot pink in our living room, I wanted to create some Valentine's decor that departed from the standard pink and red. As I was flipping through a catalog I came across a photo of Kate Spade iPhone cases featuring the classic stripes and polka dots, and I instantly knew that's how I would decorate my letters.

I started by giving each letter a coat of white acrylic paint, front and back.


Once the paint was dry, I started adding black stripes to one X and one O. Rather than trying to paint perfect stripes, I took the quick and easy route, and wrapped the letters in black electrical tape. The paper mache O has is quite rectangular in shape, making it easy to wrap in tape. I simply stuck the tape to the front side, wrapped it around to the back, and overlapped it.


Because of the angels, it was a bit trickier to wrap the electrical tape around the X, but I came up with a quick and easy method. I stuck a piece of tape to the front of the X, then wrapped it around to the side pressing it down flat in the correct position, then pinched the excess tape together at the corner. This is a bit hard to explain, but you'll see what I mean in the top photo below. I used a small, sharp pair or scissors to trim of the excess at each corner. Just be careful not to trim off too much {but if you do, you can cover any white that shows through with a black Sharpie}.


The corners aren't perfect, but unless you inspect them really closely, they look just great!

For the second XO set, I grabbed out the gold Sharpie paint marker that I had left over from my chalkboard globe project, and started drawing quick polka dots.


I carried the gold polka dots around the sides of the X and O, but opted not to draw them on the back {mostly to save time, since I knew I'd be sitting them in a spot where you would never see the back}.

These Kate Spade inspired Xs and Os were so quick and easy to make, but I couldn't be more excited about how they turned out!


I already owned the paint, tape, and Sharpie, and I bought the letters on a half price sale - so the entire project cost me less than $5.


I don't do a lot of decorating for Valentine's Day, but I do like adding a few simple touches around the house to spread the love!



Here are a few other quick and easy Valentine's projects that you might like, including a couple of free printables for you to download...


Friday, January 23, 2015

{five minute friday} Pretty File Folders

My bloggy friend, Melissa from A Prudent Life, and I have so much in common - including our love of pretty office supplies and Gilmore Girls! But since Gilmore Girls is a bit off topic for Five Minute Friday, let's instead talk office supplies...

I have a weakness for notebooks with stylish covers, jars of colorful paperclips make my heart go pitter patter, and pretty file folders can stop me in my tracks! But buying cute, patterned file folders can be expensive, making them impractical for many office makeover budgets. That's why it's a better idea to just make your own!

Melissa recently shared a tutorial for making gorgeous file folders on a dime, and I just knew I had to featured them as today's Five Minute Friday project!


Head on over to A Prudent Life to find out just how easy it is to make your own pretty file folders, and while you're there, be sure to check out her full desk organization reveal!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

{seasonal style} Reasons I Love You Valentine's Day Countdown Banner

This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.
My boys LOVED the Countdown to Santa calendar that I drew on our chalkboard wall for Christmas, so I knew I wanted to create a fun Valentine's Day "advent" calendar for February. When Target offered to send me a box of Valentine's themed craft supplies from their One Spot, I jumped at the chance. As soon as the box arrived on my doorstep I ripped it open and was thrilled to find that it contained the perfect items to create a fun and stylish Valentine's countdown banner!


You've all heard me say a million times that Target is my happy place, and the One Spot is the cherry on top. I've always made it my first stop on my way into the store, but recently the goodies I've been finding there just keep getting better! Seriously, have you seen the adorable wrapping paper and gift tags they've had lately?

For Valentine's Day, the One Spot is stocked with over 40 amazing craft products, ranging from washi tape and stickers, to kraft and chalkboard basics, and even the ever popular striped straws - all for between $1-3! Here's just a glimpse at some of the One Spot Valentine products I received in the mail a few days ago...



I immediately started sorting through all the goodies I received looking for the items that would be perfect to create my Valentine's countdown calendar, and I settled on two packages and white and kraft treat bags, some cute pennant banners, and a roll of red and white washi tape to start with.


After testing out several different metallic pen and marker options to see what would show up on the black pennants, I discovered that the gold Sharpie paint marker, which I had left over from my chalkboard globe project, worked perfectly.


I wrote the numbers 1 through 14 on the pennants, keeping the plastic packaging under each as I wrote to prevent any paint marker bleed through onto my table top.



I then used the washi tape to affix a numbered pennant to the front of each treat bag, alternating between the white and kraft paper bags.


I wanted to find a way to also use the kraft paper pennants, and to take advantage of the pre-punched holes in the top of each, so I sketched out a heart on one - redrawing it several times until I was happy with the shape. I then cut it out and used it as a template to trace and cut 15 more kraft hearts.


Next, I traced one of the kraft hearts on the white cardboard backing from a package of red glitter paper. After tracing the heart, I drew a larger heart around it and cut it out along the outter line {creating a heart template a bit larger than the kraft paper heart}. I then used the template to trace and cut 16 red glitter hearts.


I then used a glue stick to glue the bottom 2/3 of each craft paper heart to the red glitter hearts, leaving the top portion of each craft heart unattached {allowing me access to the holes for stringing up my banner}.


With the treat bags and hearts assembled, I was ready to start hanging my countdown banner. 


I decided to hang the banner in two rows in front of our kitchen chalkboard wall, using the black and white bakers twine that came in the pennant banner packages. I stuck some clear 3M Command strips and hooks to the left side of the wall, and tied one end of each piece of twine to the hooks. I strung the bakers twine through the holes in the kraft paper hearts {8 hearts on each row}, then tied the twine to clear hooks on the right side of the wall. 


Now it was time to fill the treat bags before hanging them on the banner. Rather than simply filling the bags with candy, I wanted to use this countdown banner to tell our boys all the reasons that we love them - from the things that make us proud of them to simply how dang cute they are! I cut 6" by 4" inch strips of the red glitter paper {28 total strips - enough for one note per boy in the 14 treat bags}. I used three cute stamps to decorate the white side of each strip of paper, and then my husband and I wrote out the notes to the boys.



Since our boys are quite young, I don't want them to have too much candy, but I did place one chocolate heart for each boy in each bag. 


Once the bags were filled with the notes and chocolate hearts, I used four packages of glittery clothespins to clip the bags to the bakers twine in between each of the hearts.


I wrote "Be My Valentine" on the chalkboard wall above the banner to complete the display.



I just love the contrast of the white and kraft treat bags against the black chalkboard, and the red glitter hearts and glittery clothespins add just the right amount of bling for mom, without making it too girly for my boys!



I'm afraid that it's going to drive my boys a bit crazy to see the countdown banner hanging on the wall for another week and a half before they can begin taking the treat bags down on February 1st, but I wanted to share this cute project with you as soon as possible because all of these fabulous One Spot Valentine's craft supplies will only be available for a limited time, and will likely sell out quickly!


I still have a handful of cute One Spot craft products that I didn't use for my countdown banner, but you can bet they'll be popping up soon in other projects I have planned!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

{organizing with style} Matching Spice Jars & Ombre Spice Racks In the Pantry


They say time flies when you are having fun, so I must be having a lot of fun organizing our home! I am slowly working to get caught up blogging about projects I completed last year, and, looking at the date stamps on the photos of the spice racks we installed in the pantry, I realize that I've been enjoying this beauty of a project for well over six months now! #badblogger 

But I'm a glass half full kind of girl, so I'll put a positive spin on my tardiness in sharing this project.. After living with our new spice organization for more than six months, I can say without hesitation that this project was a success because it looks just the same today as it did on the day I took the photos! Before I scare you with the before photos, here's a quick peek at the stylish "after"!


Alright, now let's go back to where it all began... spice jars of every shape and size taking up too much prime cabinet shelf real estate, the remainder of which was occupied by bottles of oils and vinegars.


Once upon a time I had attempted to organize this space by adding three lazy susans - two for spices, and one for oils and vinegars. And while this certainly did help, it just wasn't enough to make this space functional. Lazy susans because you can rotate them and nothing gets lost in the back corners of the cabinet. But instead, many of my spices were getting lost in the center.


I knew I needed to find a better way to organize my spices, but we don't exactly have any empty shelves or drawers in the kitchen {quite the opposite in fact}. I knew I was going to have to get creative and create storage space where none existed before - and I realized that the narrow wall in front of our pantry shelves might be just the right spot.


I measured the space and was pleasantly surprised that I had just enough width for the Ikea Bekvam spice racks {only 4 each!}. These spice racks are unfinished birch - which to me was an invitation to get creative.  


I raided the extra latex paint in my utility room and I came out with five shades of teal paint (all left over from painting our ombre striped nursery) and a navy blue (left over from the argyle wall I painted in Beckett's room). I also wanted one more darker shade of blue, so I grabbed a bottle of midnight blue acrylic paint from my craft closet, and then I set about painting seven spice racks.


Seeing the spice racks lined up on the kitchen table after I painted them, it was all I could do to not stare at them all day! I love the ombre effect, and they look even better up on the wall of the pantry... but we'll get back to that.

The next challenge was deciding whether to keep my spices in their current bottles, or transfer them into matching jars. After looking at numerous stores, I determined that spice jars just wasn't worth the $2-3 per bottle. But that made me sad! Before giving up on the idea of pretty, matching spices, I decided to do a bit of online research, and sure enough I found a great option! I purchased four dozen 4 oz. square spice bottles from Sunburst Bottle for only $31 - a steal at just $.65 per bottle!

After sorting through my spices to eliminate any that were expired, I began making labels for my new spice jars using my handy-dandy label maker.


I chose a clear tape with black writing, and when placed on the bottles the tape visually disappears giving them a sleek, custom look.


After transferring all of my basic spices into the jars, I began working on all of my spice blends. Many of  them were originally in plastic bags or small plastic boxes, so transferring them to the jars immediately made things easier. However, I didn't want to lose the recommendations - like, "best rubbed on chicken or pork, or sprinkled on fish and vegetables." To solve this problem, I simply used my label maker to print those instructions in a small font and placed them on the back side of the bottle.


I also printed tiny labels for the bottom of my jars to note expiration dates.


Once all of the spices were in their their matchy-matchy jars, I sat the pretty, painted spice racks on my kitchen counter and filled them with spices to determine how far apart each rack should be placed. I also filled a few of the racks with my oil and vinegar bottles to calculate the spacing of those as well. I decided to place the racks of spices lower on the wall {making it easier for my short self to read the labels}, and to put the large oil and vinegar bottles up higher.

With my measurements in hand, we installed the screws and anchors for the lowest spice rack, then used our laser level and measured up the wall to mark the location of the others.


When choosing the size and shape of spice jars I wanted to order from Sunburst Bottle, I selected the 4 oz bottles because none of the my current spice bottles were larger than that. And I selected the square bottles rather than the round because I knew they would fit nicely side by side without any wasted space.

By angling the spice jars inside of the spice rack, I was able to fit almost double the number that would fit if I placed them flat, but I left enough space between my spice racks that it's still easy to lift out the ones in the back row without having to remove the front bottles.


Please tell me I'm not the only one who enjoys alphabetizing... anyone?! So then it should come as no surprise that it makes me so happy to see my matching spice jars in alphabetical order. But really, it does make it so much faster to find what I need.


And call me silly, but I really just love the way the spices look in these spice racks. I've said it before and I'll say it again - make it pretty to keep it pretty!


I filled two spice racks with my regular spices, and then the next two down with all of my spice blends.


I used the upper three spice racks for my larger containers of salts and peppers, oils and vinegars.


As you can see, installing these spice racks truly allowed me to use every inch of available space on the wall inside my pantry. I suspect you can also tell it is a challenging space to photograph. Here are a few "interesting" angles to give you a better view of the ombre effect.

Here's the view from the top of the pantry looking down...


And here's the view looking up at the spice racks (yup, that's right - the view you'd get if you laid on the floor of the pantry, cause who doesn't do that?!).


And finally, here's the glimpse of the spice racks that you get as soon as you open the pantry door...


This is one of my favorite kind of organizing projects because it checks so many boxes:
  • it's a more efficient system storing and organizing an item I use daily, saving me time and reducing frustration;
  • it takes advantage of a space that was previously unused'
  • it frees up a space that was previously underutilized, and allowed me to find a better use for that prime real estate {see how I organized our sippy cups and water bottles on the shelf where our spices used to be}; AND
  • it's pretty and makes me smile every time I open the pantry door!

Some might say that the ombre trend is on its last leg, but they can't tell me my pantry doesn't look a whole lot prettier now than it did before. Better yet, it's also a heck of a lot more functional. Win WIN!


Looking for more kitchen organizing tips? Click on the thumbnails below for more:



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