Thursday, December 26, 2013

DIY Christmas Decor Part II

Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!  Here is the follow up to Part I of my holiday mantle makeover. Sorry to post this a day AFTER Christmas, but the holidays are a busy time.  I love that these decorations are inexpensive and easy crafts that have made a HUGE difference in the look of my house.  They've even added to my holiday spirit in that I finally have some Christmas decorations that I love. Note: The photos don't do them justice as they are much more vibrant in person.

First is an idea I found on Pinterest and decided to copy.  I loved the idea of spelling Noel with a wreath and different sizes/fonts for the remaining letters.  To make this, I purchased the wreath at Michaels Craft Store and the letters at both Michaels and Joanns.  I bought red, green, and white spray paint with primer included from Lowes.  This the same spray paint I used to paint my stocking holders (see that post here) and all the other projects for my mantle, so I really got use out of the 3 bottles of spray paint.

The final project for my mantle was inspired by Liz at Naptime Decorator. I saved 3 wine bottles from our monthly dinners and spray painted them in the same paint used in the Noel project. 

When they were completely dry, I wrapped yarn tightly around the bottle.  I used only a dab of hot glue at the beginning and another at the end. Then more glue to adhere a snowflake/tree foam piece that I bought at Michaels.

This is my completed mantle with all my holiday projects.  There is a lot going on, but I absolutely love it especially since all the items match in color scheme.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

DIY Christmas Decor Part I

I  love Christmas and decorating the house, but I have never really liked the holiday decor that we own very much.  I decided to do a little makeover of it this year, so I looked through Pinterest and found some ideas I really liked as well as created some of my own....

Remember my post of the Autumn candles?  Well, here is the change I made to create a Christmas candle set. I put a shot glass in the bottom as a space-filler, and then added the red hots.  A little glitter green ribbon, some holly berries I already had, and white peppermint candles from the Dollar Tree.  That's it.  Super simple.

I originally made them for our mantle, but then decided to move them to our coffee table.  I arranged them in a circular pattern so that it is pretty on all sides AND it hides the ribbon knots in the back. 

My mom and I also made a smaller version of these with votives.  She gave them as favors at a church function.

The family initial inside a wreath was an idea I saw on Pinterest that I really liked.  I was planning to make a wreath, but then I saw this one at Target and loved it.  I looks like scarves or socks that are wrapped around Styrofoam balls and then glued to a Styrofoam wreath.  All I had to do after finding this wreath was spray paint the "C" in green glitter.  Easy-peezy.

This will conclude Part I of my Christmas decor post.  Stay tuned for Part II!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

DIY Christmas Stocking Holders

For those of you who don't follow my blog and/or know me, we have a new addition to our family.  Our daughter, Jenna, was born November 13th.  When December 1st rolled around, we took out our holiday decor, and I began shopping for a stocking and another stocking holder. I had a really hard time finding a stocking holder. I have always wanted them all to match and since we've bought each one individually at different times over the years, they definitely do not.  The only sets of 5 I found were simple silver ones that spelled out the five letters in "Peace."  Nothing against "peace" and all, but this is not what I wanted.  I decided to make them myself....

These were really simple to make, and I love the way they turned out.  The supplies I used were:
  • One piece of 1x6x8 wood
  • knobs (found at Lowes)
  • Screws
  • Green, Red, and White Spray paint (get the spray paint that includes primer)
  • Blue Painter's Tape - for the stripes
  • Plastic Wallet frames - I bought these at Michaels and just pulled off the magnet on the back
  • Super glue
First, I cut the wood pieces.  The bottom piece I cut to be 5 x 2 3/4 inches.  The top piece is 5x5. I screwed the knob into the bottom piece and spray painted it with a few coats.  Then I spray painted the top piece white.  Once this dried, I taped off the stripes and spray painted the red. You could also use acrylic paint for this part.  The spray paint was faster, but it is harder to touch up. When I did the touch ups after pulling off the paint, I did use acrylic paint for the white.  I could not find the correct shade of red though.

Once both pieces were dry, I used 3 screws to drill into the bottom to attach the two pieces.  Lastly, I super glued the plastic frame to the front and placed a photo inside. I am happy with how they turned out, and this was a much cheaper route than purchasing 5 new stocking holders.

We are ready for Santa!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snowman Playdough Gift

With the last day of school before the holiday break approaching, I was trying to think of an inexpensive gift for my daughter and son to give to the friends in their daycare and around the neighborhood. My kids love playdough, so I decided to create a Playdough Snowman kit.

I started by designing a tag on Photoshop and included some simple instructions. I didn't include instructions for the accessories...I think the kids can figure it out or be creative. If you would like a copy of this tag (minus my kids' names of course), comment below and I will send it to you.

Next we made Playdough in two colors.  First, snow-like Playdough with glitter.  Second, green for the kids to make the snowman's hat, buttons, nose, and whatever else they want to make.  You can do any color for this.  We were originally planning to do black, but didn't have black food coloring on hand.  We put these in a sandwich size zip-lock bag.  We used a recipe we found on Jennwa.blogspot.com

2 cup flour
1 cup salt 
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups water
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
Iridescent white glitter

Mix all ingredients except glitter in a pan. Heat over low heat, stir constantly until dough thickens and pulls away from pan (It will look like thick mashed potatoes). Remove from pan. Knead until smooth, add glitter, till dough sparkles like snow. I added glitter 1 teaspoon at a time.

The snowman's accessories we put in a snack size zip-lock.  The accessories we included were two googly eyes, 2 brown pipe cleaners for arms, and a red felt scarf with fringed edges.  We didn't include anything specifically for the nose which may have been a cute addition.

Then we stapled them together with the tag, and they are ready to gift.  This is a fun and easy gift.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Elf on the Shelf 2013

There are a TON of ideas out there for Elf on the Shelf, but if you are like me, you are always looking for more.  This year, I decided to mirror my Elf on the Shelf with my kids advent calendar activities as much as possible.  This has made things a little easier, so I thought I would share.

Advent Calendar: Roasting Christmas S'Mores (use the bar of Hershey white chocolate with red/green candy pieces)...
Elf:  Fold a napkin to look like a tent.  I used Lincoln Logs for the bench and fire along with a battery powered tea light and small rocks.

Advent Calendar: Buy Christmas presents for each member of your family.  *For this, I took my kids to the Dollar Tree and gave them each $6 to spend ($1 per person with the extra dollar for tax).  If you have young kids, you really need to do this.  Last year I took them to Target and had to keep saying "no" every time that picked out an expensive toy, etc.  This was AWESOME as it was totally hilarious what they picked out, but since it was only $1 it really didn't matter.
Elf:  Our elf, Jake, brought an empty box with a note attached.  The note told the kids that Santa got their letters asking for new toys, but that he wanted to make sure they had room for them. It gave instructions for the kids to put toys they didn't need anymore in the box and donate them to other kids that might need them. I also put out the cash register with the money that each of the kids got to go spend at the Dollar Tree.

Advent Calendar: Putting Christmas lights up on our house.
Elf: Our elf taped some Christmas lights to my daughter's Dora house and borrowed the ladder from my son's fire truck to put up his own Christmas lights.

Advent Calendar: Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.
Elf:  Our elf made his own hot chocolate with my daughter's toy coffee maker. He set it up next to our large coffee maker.

Advent Calendar: Going to see Disney on Ice
Elf:  I didn't have time to make ice skates or figure out a way for that to work, so instead I just brought out Mickey for a little game of tic-tac-toe.  This is one of my daughter's favorite games to play right now.

Advent Calendar: Riding the Christmas Train at Irvine Park.
Elf: Our elf borrowed my son's train to set up his own Christmas train loop.  His train passed Christmas trees and stopped to see Santa just like my kids would do at Irvine Park.

Advent Calendar: Get and decorate our Christmas tree.
Elf:  Jake left a note to say he wanted to participate in our tree decoration as well.  He saved himself an ornament to put on the tree before he flew to report to Santa that night.

Advent Calendar: Baking/Painting dough ornaments
Elf:  Jake made a star ornament and stacked up canned foods so that he could reach the counter where my kids were going to be painting their ornaments.  He wanted to be in on the action.

Advent Calendar: Watch a Christmas movie with popcorn
Elf:  Jake borrowed my daughter's doll house furniture to set up his own movie viewing area.  He also enjoyed some popcorn.

These are just some of the days our elf, Jake has done.  We'll see what he does the remaining days until Christmas. Just wanted to put some ideas out there for those of you that need them!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A "Pop"pin Out Party

Since my daughter's due date was the day before Thanksgiving, the monthly dinner girls decided THEY would plan the December monthly dinner. Little did we all know, Miss Jenna arrived 2 weeks early, but the plan was already in place, so we stuck with it.  This dinner party was so much fun and no stress for me!  Some super creative ideas the girls came up with as they hosted a She's
"Popped" Popcorn inspired dinner party.  Here's a photo of my little girl... (isn't she a cutie!)

I am a HUGE popcorn lover, so this theme fit perfectly with my likes. I also "popped" Jenna out after only 3  1/2 hours of labor and only 25 minutes after walking in the hospital, so the theme truly did fit my experience!

Decor:  The table was set with a white tablecloth and popcorn related centerpieces. The main centerpiece was a popcorn ceramic bucket that I received as a gift years ago.  The girls filled it with tissue paper and then popped popcorn on top.  They placed a scalloped vase on each side tied with a red ribbon and filled with popcorn kernels and a tea-light.

At each place setting, the girls used a piece of red and white striped scrapbook paper as a place mat, a red napkin, and a typed menu.

The place card was these super cute popcorn bags filled with popcorn!  Yummy and cute!  The bags were purchased at Michaels.

A side table was set up with two huge bowls of popcorn and salt shakers filled with various toppings.  The four seasonings were cinnamon and sugar, cocoa, Parmesan cheese with Italian salad dressing powder mix, and the cheese packet from a Macaroni and Cheese box.  My favorite was the Italian yummy!  The girls placed favor bags for guests to try out different kinds.  We realized quickly that the toppings didn't stick without butter, so we melted some butter to sprinkle over before adding the seasoning.

Added decor:  The girls had a small baby shower for me a few weeks ago, and each guest made a onesie for Jenna.  Iron-on material was adhered to the back of fabrics and the girls cut out the designs of their choice for the onesie.  My girlfriend, Michelle, the host of the shower, then sewed around the edges to finish each one and make it so they could be washed and not fall off.  She brought these to the monthly dinner and we hung them up as added decor.  I absolutely LOVE this idea for a shower, and I cannot wait for Jenna to wear these cute onesies!

Menu:  The menu was also popcorn inspired. We started with a green salad with "baby" tomatoes. Instead of croutons, we had garlic Parmesan popcorn.  The garlic Parmesan popcorn was delicious on the salad as well as by itself.  To make it, you air pop popcorn and then mix it in a zip lock bag with Italian seasoning packet, Parmesan cheese, melted butter, and a little bit of granulated garlic powder.

For the main dish, we had popcorn crusted chicken tenders, popovers, and "un"popped corn.  The popovers really did look like giant popped popcorn, and they tasted great.

For dessert, we had Nutella "Pop" Tarts.  These were made with short dough, which is like a sugar cookie dough, but a little flakier.  Nutella was placed in the middle and a second rectangle placed on top and glazed with egg wash before baking.

Favor:  The favor was popcorn balls on a stick.  These were like Rice Krispie treats, but made with popcorn.  My friend also added M&M's and peanuts to it.  As you can see, my oldest daughter dug right in and finished it all!  The tag attached to each one read, "Thanks for "poppin" by for the party."

This was such a fun party.  The girls, especially my good friend Deanna who did all the cooking and most of the planning, created such a neat dinner and theme.  The food was delicious, and I absolutely love the creativity.  Baby Jenna and I thank you!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Elf on the Shelf Breakfast

This is the second year our family Elf on the Shelf Jake has visited our household.  With today being December 1st, Jake's first appearance came this morning.  He greeted us this morning with a traditional Elf Breakfast, and my kids LOVED it! The ideas in this post are not my own, but they are a collection of ideas I found on Pinterest and other blogs.  Just look how excited these kiddos were when they first saw the table.

Having a two-week old newborn, I decided to go simple rather than extravagent on the decor and set up of this breakfast.  A simple red tablecloth and some party plates and napkins was all I did.  I wanted to hang red and green streamers from the ceiling and dust the tablecloth with pretend snow, but I didn't have a chance to purchase the supplies.  These kiddos are happy just to see Jake, and my son dove right in to the snowman donuts....

The snowman donuts were made with Skittles and mini chocolate chips.  I think a candy corn or a candy that would stick out a bit more would be better, but I just used what I had in the cupboard. 

The reindeer donuts were made with red M&M's, white chocolate chips, black gel icing, and pretzels. I had the square pretzels on hand, so I used those, but I think the standard-shaped pretzels would be look better.

We also had hot chocolate and mini marshmallows which is a real treat for my little ones.   Oh...and reindeer kisses (white chocolate chips).

Jake left a little note for each of my kids.  The note introduced him and briefly reminded them of why he was visiting our home.  I love the googly eyes added to the note.

Jake also left each of the kids a Christmas tradition...Christmas pajamas and socks. I like giving them on December 1st, so the kids can wear them all month, so this seemed like the perfect way to gift them to the kids.

Welcome to December! Here's hoping Jake helps encourage our kiddos to behave this season and beyond!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Autumn Decor Idea

This post is a bit delayed in that the day I was going to post about this autumn decor idea, I went into labor with our third child!!  I gave birth to our beautiful daughter last Wednesday, and she has already added such joy and happiness to our family. I just love being a mom, and we have so much to be thankful for. 

Now onto this autumn decor idea...

I saw the idea for vases filled with popcorn kernels on Pinterest, but decided to add an extra something to it with the Cricut letters. I wanted to share this idea because it was so inexpensive and easy to do.  The entire thing cost me less than $12 and I finished the project in less than an hour! 

I bought the vases and candles at the Dollar Tree.  I placed a large shot glass in the bottom of the vases to lift the candle.  This also enabled me use less popcorn kernels to fill the bottom.  I tied fake fall leaves to the outside using twine.  Then finished each vase off with letters cut from my Cricut machine.  The photo does not do it justice.  It really pops (no pun intended) on my mantle.

I didn't glue anything, so that I can use these vases for future decor as well.  You may even see a future post with a Winter decor idea!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Catching Fire Fun

I am a big fan of the Hunger Games series and very excited for the release of the second movie at the end of this month.  Many of my friends are too, which made Catching Fire the perfect theme for this month's monthly dinner.

Invite:  Now that I am learning how to use PhotoShop, I am completely addicted! I made this invite and tried to use wording reflecting the theme of the novel. 

I asked guests when the RSVP'd to choose one of the twelve districts and arrive dressed in black with an accessory representative of their District.  This was easy enough for the guests to do and added a fun, creative aspect to the evening.

Entry Decor:  I again called on my husband to help create a fence similar to the electrified fence around District 12 at our front door.  It left room for guests to come in, but got the idea across.

Decor:  I set the table with a neutral colored tablecloth and symbols from the novel.  A big hit was the "Sponsor Parachute" I hung from the ceiling.  To make this, I covered a plastic basket I bought at the Dollar Tree with silver metallic tissue paper and attached a pretzel bun to the sides with grey yarn.  It hung over the dining table.

For the centerpiece, I bought a dozen white roses to represent President Snow's obsession and how it impacts Katniss in the novel. I surrounded the vase with coal to symbolize District 12.  On each side of this, I put the Hunger Games and Catching Fire novels with other symbols -- bread to represent Peeta and arrows to represent Katniss.  I made these arrows with grey felt and sticks the kids and I found on one of our walks.

My place cards were mini bows and arrows. I made these by soaking popsicle sticks in water for an hour and bending them into this shape. I then tied them with fishing line (you could use floss) to keep their shape and painted them black.  For the arrows, I cut the tops of skewers and attached the scrapbook paper.  I downloaded the Hunger Games font free here.  I used this for almost all the printed items for the dinner.

My napkin rings represented the "weapons" for the Quarter Quell. For added color, I used two napkins and just folded one paper napkin to be a little smaller than the red one.

I matched the wine charms with the Districts the guests were dressing as. I downloaded the District symbols from the web and printed them on grey card stock.

Behind the dining table, I covered our family photos with quotes/images from the novel.

These were the wine bottle labels I made on Photoshop and wrapped around the wine bottles.

Menu:  I read Catching Fire a second time to get inspiration for the menu for this dinner.  They serve a lot of dishes at the parties in the Capital, but I decided to theme my menu after food the tributes ate during the Quarter Quell.  I made the menu on Photoshop and then backed it on orange card stock and placed it on each guest's plate.

The main dish was "Peeta Bread Sandwiches with Charred Tree Rat Meat."  This was pita bread sandwiches that I filled with Steak and veggies.  I used a fajita packet to season the meat, red/green peppers, onions, and tomato chunks before putting them in the pita.

As a side, I served "Speared Sweet Raw Seafood" which was really just shrimp I cooked with butter and garlic. I made the skewers into arrows to fit with the theme.

My salad was "Nightlock Berry Salad with Roasted Tree Nuts" to match food items from the novel.  This was a simple salad with feta, blueberries, and toasted almonds. I served it with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

They didn't have dessert in the Quarter Quell, but I wanted to have a cake at this dinner since it happened to be one of my guest's birthday. I made this round cake with Catching Fire flames on the side and the Catching Fire symbol on the top.  To make the symbol, I made a stencil on parchment paper from an image I found on Google.  It took a long time to cut out the parts to make the stencil and some "fill-in" spots later to make the textured wings, but I think it came out pretty good.

Favor:  I made "Sponsor Parachutes" for a favor with silver tissue paper and silver balloons.  Inside the tissue paper, I made these cute cookies...

Again, these were made with a stencil cut from a Mockingjay symbol I found online.  After I made the dough, I put the stencil on the cookie and dusted them with cocoa powder.  Then I baked them.  This is the tag I designed for the outside of the favor...

This was another fun party, and I am really looking forward to seeing the movie in a couple weeks with many of these girls.  Hope you enjoyed this post...HAPPY HUNGER GAMES!!