Favorite Holiday Decorations from the Blogosphere!

There are so many gorgeous decorations out there… I expect I’ll be spending a lot of time in the next few weeks sharing some of my favorite finds!  Many of these will be DiY and very inexpensive – or at least have the potential – because of course we need to go a little easy on our wallets!  Enjoy!

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I LOVE this simple, elegant, informal willow and eucalyptus wreath from Seahorse.  Unfortunately, it’s a UK product, so hard to get to the US in time, but why not do up this one yourself?

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Hello?  How about the old classic, paper cut-out snowflakes?  Make bunches and bunches of them for this intense, festive statement!  And the cost?  Pretty much free!

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These absolutely charming ornaments are something I know I’d love to give or receive.  Using metal stamps (like the ones I use to create my wordspell pieces), you can share messages and wishes on antique silverware.  No time for that?  Pick these up from the Hammermann shop at Etsy!

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Advent calendars are one of those charming and oh-so-easy touches that I often sit here going, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  I love this effortless, timeless example from Rachel!

What’s your favorite frugal project this holiday?

Beg, borrow, and steal!

It’s a mantra we use as teachers that really applies to good teaching strategies that we can learn from others and then use… but I think it has good applications for crafters, too!  I’m taking a few cues this holiday season for my décor from fellow blogs!

imageFirst, I just arrived home from a trip to my local Family Dollar!  Fellow frugalese blog Dollar Store Crafts is constantly touting the benefits of shopping at this super-discounted location, and for once-a-year decorating it can save a lot of money!

I’d started out with a classic gold and silver theme, and then while taking a walk down the floral aisle, I caught sight of the fruits and veggies pictured to the left, and I had a brilliant idea!  A fruit-filled and fluttery tree filled with faux fruit and birds of all colors and sizes.  I also added in the element of white flowers to fill in the lacking spaces in my somewhat sparse (and secondhand) tree.  I’ll also include some of my keepsake ornaments that were handed down from my parents.

imageThe other project I’m looking forward to is this silvery, lighted branch that was posted over at Remodelista.  I love the simplicity and natural flavor of this simple-to-create project.  It seems to go along the lines of the outdoorsy, natural feeling I’m pursuing this season (apparently!).  I’m thinking about giving this one a home on the mantle above the fireplace… it would make a nice foil to some stockings hung by the chimney with care!  I could also go dark green or brown to follow the accents of the red camellia branch curtains in the living room.  So many possibilities!

I like that both of these are not limited to the winter holidays.  A lighted branch is a lovely accent any time of the year, and faux fruit can be a great part of everyday décor or specifically for Thanksgiving.

I admit…  I’m a fan of the winter holiday season!  I love all of it, the decorating, the parties, the lights, and just the overall feeling of wonder and delight.  Oh, and did I mention winter vacation?  Gotta love it!

What fun projects are you finding in the blogosphere this season?

The Mighty Apron!

As crafters and creators, we tend to be messy people.  We also have stuff all over.  Where are my scissors?  Oh nuts, they’re on the floor under that pile of fabric (not that you knew that until after 20 minutes of searching).  An easy solution?  The versatile, useful apron!  As both a fashion statement and practical tool, the apron serves as both protection and storage while you’re busy being brilliant.  Check out these fine specimens!

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The totally adorable “Pink Chocolate Flirty Apron” apron, for about $30 at overstock.com.  Definitely a must for the party hostess, this leans more toward fashion, but still serves the necessary purpose.  Also, I cannot say no to chocolate and pink, not to mention the stripes and polka dots!  So cute!

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How about this witty waist apron?  The “Grania” style apron over at Retro Electro is a play on the cocktail apron style, with just the right amount of smarts and whimsy to make them perfect…  Perfectly sassy, that is!  What else would they be stating “How about a little drinkie winkie?” on the pocket?  There are several styles at about $36 each.

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The vendor apron may perhaps be the handiest for crafters – I even know teachers who wear these to keep supplies always at hand!  What a great time saver!  Check out this adorable one at Etsy!

Or you could always whip one up yourself from the over 51 free patterns at Tip Nut!  What’s your favorite?

Quick and Easy Day of the Dead Costumes

deaddaySo my attempt at Han Solo and Princess Leia costumes failed with an overwhelming week prior to Halloween.  We didn’t even make it to the main party we usually attend, and we missed our friends bunches!   We did make it out for a short trip to another party on Saturday, but I struggled to come up with a last minute costume for each of us.

Climbing into the costume closet, I returned with all the pieces of black clothing we owned and proposed a fitting Dia de los Muertos theme!  I printed out these decorated skull images (or calaveras) and mounted them on cardstock and construction paper to create handheld masks for each of us.  With a little coloring, they really popped!  A few flowers borrowed from Ophelia completed our costumes.

The outfits were a big hit (and they go really well with the black and white floor at my friend’s house!  Heehee!).  I’ve seen a lot of similar costumes created with makeup and really incredible styling, so that’s another option you could go for!  I liked this option for us because we didn’t have the makeup available, and we didn’t run the risk of scaring the host’s 8-month-old daughter.  It’s also interesting to learn more about Dia de los Muertos!

How was your Halloween?

And by adorable I mean creepy.

My reader is currently overflowing with Halloween crafts, much to my delight.  This one struck me as especially cool and creepy today!

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Heather at Dollar Store Crafts has constructed this fantastic faux taxidermy crow!  And the cost of this unique decoration is firmly placed between about $1 and $3 (depending on what you have on hand)!  Incredible, and eerily adorable!  Easy instructions and images can be viewed at the post over on Dollar Store Crafts.

What’s your favorite creepy craft for Halloween?

Whew! Catching up…

I unfortunately do not have a substantial post this Wednesday; having been away from home for five days, only to immediately go to school and class, I’ve found myself shorthanded.  But even so, there are a bunch of things coming up that I’m excited to do.  So since I haven’t been able to do them yet, I’ll share what I’m looking forward to doing!

Chalk Board Speech Bubble

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I have no idea WHY I want to do this other than it seems amazing!  What a fun project (and easy and cheap, to boot) for classrooms, photos, even weddings!  All you need is posterboard, chalkboard spray paint (I just love this stuff, so versatile!), and a craft knife or box cutter.  Check it out over at Make and Takes!

Chalkboard Clock

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A related item, this chalkboard clock is another item that’s charming in so many settings.  I love this for a classroom, but it would be equally suitable in a kitchen or even a kid’s bedroom.  This example over at Apartment Therapy is $79 for the clock with four magnets, but I think you could work this out DiY without much trouble at all!  Chalkboard spray paint to the rescue again!

Pom Pom Name Pennant

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This is something I’d like to work on for the baby of a friend.  It’s such a simple, charming idea and inexpensive to complete.  Homemade by Jill has all the instructions!

What’s in your plans?

Happy little scarves

I am super happy that it’s getting to be fall now (Hear that, Colorado weather?  FALL.  F-A-L-L.  So knock off this whole state being on fire crap.  It is not cool.), because I always miss the layering and sweaters during the summer.  But even when things are still a little warm, I like to add a little color or texture to an otherwise plain outfit with scarves.

IMG_2407Fortunately, this is really easy!  Soft, light scarves are popular even in summer, and for great prices (I found one recently at Walmart for just $5!).  But then I thought, what the heck?  I know how to sew, and there’s tons of great fabric out there, so why not make something personalized and unique (and did I mention super simple)?

I worked with a few fabrics I’d picked up from remnants and came up with this simple plan: working with about a square of 54” fabric, I could get two long rectangles, or one big square.  I have both in my closet already, but since I thought I’d try a few different techniques, I opted for the long rectangle.  One I sewed into a big tube with the selvages on the ends, the other I roll-hemmed on my serger all the way around.  Ta da!  Two nice black and silver scarves!  This was a little more substantial fabric, but if I’d had something a little softer and thinner, I would like to do a full square.

Here are some things to think about if you do this project:

Look at the fabrics being used for commercial scarves.  They’re super light, and have a very soft or silky hand (that means they’re kind of slinky, soft, and not stiff at all!).  Look for fabrics that have a soft hand to make your own.  This will ensure you have a nice soft, drapey scarf, rather than a stiff bunch!

Look at the fabric width (the measurement from selvage to selvage).  44” will make a nice ascot style, 54” and up will make a good scarf length.

Feeling ambitious?  Add tassels or other decorations to the ends!  Go for it!  Don’t have a serger?  Pick up a cute hand stitch like the blanket stitch and use that!

TT: The Creative Classroom

I spent a wonderful day yesterday visiting a teacher friend of mine – and helping out with her adorable 5 month old daughter! – and helping to set up her first grade classroom.  She teaches a delightful first grade class, and I was excited and honored to be a part of getting things ready for them to come back to school in a little while.  One of my charges was to make the welcome bulletin board; she said she wanted to make use of my creativity!  What a kind thing to say!

For my part this school year, I’m going to be a part time guest teacher in Denver and a full time graduate student, so I’m going back to school on a lot of levels.  Creativity has always been an influence on my education; with my background in music and visual arts, I find myself often considering ways to inject art into learning.  As a teacher, it seems like a natural solution to offering students choices in projects, problem solving, and integrating subjects.  There’s math in music!  Art in science!  Not to even begin to mention the possibilities of technology: video, audio, graphic design, photography…

Why is that important?  Because creativity can support ownership and meaning of a student’s learning, which is what makes that learning stick!  We know that when a concept becomes personal and meaningful for a student, they remember it (Piaget calls this assimilation, making something a part of your personal universe by linking it to other important concepts).  Can you remember the formula for finding the circumference of a circle when given the radius?  I remember that it’s twice the radius times pi because it’s something I use to make circle skirts.  That particular formula has meaning and importance to my life, so I remember it!  So, if we can use crafts, technology, anything we can get to give concepts meaning and application for their real lives, students will remember – and even better, be able to use! – these important ideas.  What better way to do it than to let them build, paint, cook, sew, sing, play, and create?

What have you learned due to your creative hobbies?

You never know when you might need it…

apron01I’ve been working on my Ophelia dress the past week or so (I will share more about this Tuesday!), and as I was working through my pattern alterations I had my sort of shell of the scrap I used for fitting the pattern pieces left, and as I kept staring at it I thought… that really should be an apron.

I did not previously own an apron, but I can think of at least a dozen instances where having one might have spared a shirt or two from a stain.  I also know of a second grade teacher in my district who wears one (very similar to server-style aprons) daily, filled with typical classroom needs: pencils, markers, crayons, sticky notes, band-aids, hand sanitizer, etc!  Really great at meeting those everyday needs.

So, my post-fitting scraps were hanging out on my dressform (affectionately named Sophie), so I pulled it down and trimmed away the excess fabric.  Since I knew it would need to be tied in the back, I basically eliminated the back portion entirely, easing into the top so the shoulders would still be there.  Once I had a good free shape, I serged around the entire thing, arm holes included, and stitched on some grosgrain ribbon at the waistline on each side of the back opening.  And there you are!  Nothing fancy, and no lace as of yet, but I think a few pockets might be a good addition!

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What have you unexpectedly created while working on another project?

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