Thursday, December 19, 2013

Everything's cuter in miniature.

I love nativities.  Big, small, fabric, wood, detailed, simple.  I love them all.  It took years for me to get my first one - an awesome wooden puzzle cut and hand painted by my brother in law.  

My kids adore it.  

I wanted a one with little figures I could set out.  Two years ago my mom gave me the play mobile nativity.  My kids adore that one too.  

Sometimes it includes Batman.  

Sometimes it includes lalaloopsies.  

(and yes, we have to pinch hit for a lost wiseman now - we use a playmobile pirate.)

I REALLY wanted a nativity that was a little more for decoration than playing... two years ago a family in our ward (I don't know who.  Was it YOU???) did the 12 days of Christmas with us and anonymously left us a piece of a nativity every night for 12 nights until we received the baby Jesus last of all. 

It was amazing.  Thanks, whoever that was.

Last year, I was staring at my stash of, well, random stuff, trying to decide on some homemade presents when all of a sudden the random items congealed together in my mind to create this:

Which is interesting since it's pretty rare that the finished product in my head matches the finished product in real life.  BUT there you go!  Here's how to make your very own mini nativity:

1. Two wooden peg people
2. A wooden wheel
3. A teeny tiny wooden ball
4. A teeny tiny wooden spool of thread minus the thread
5. A small wooden star
6. A short wooden dowel that is the exact diameter to fit in the hole in your wheel
7. A hot glue gun
8. Ribbon scraps
9. What is this stuff?  It's like that really fine, delicate yarn stuff that you crochet doilies and ornaments with.  Whatever.  I got it at a thrift store like a million years ago.

So let's make a mini nativity, eh?

Step 1.  Wrap it.
1. Use the thin yarn stuff to wrap the star.  I just wrapped in all directions in between the points until the middle was mostly covered and I thought it looked cool.
2. Wrap the tiny spool of thread minus the thread in a very thin ribbon.  Use the hot glue gun to secure it.  Wrap the peg people bodies in wider ribbon.  You may need to use two strips.
3. Wrap the peg people heads in complementary ribbon.  For Joseph (the brown and green one) I just used one piece and glued it around the sides of the head and then pinched it together in the back and stuck a little hot glue there.  For Mary (the blue one) I glued a piece of ribbon right down the back (starting at the forehead area) and then glued another piece from side to side over that one.
4. To finish off Joseph, I glued a piece of ric rac around his head - you know, like you usually see shepherds.

Step 2.  Unite mother and child.
1. Take the teeny tiny wooden ball and hot glue it on top of the threadless spool of thread.
2. Now hot glue the tiny baby to the front of the Mary peg person at an angle, like she's holding it in her arms.
(Note: I did it this way because I was using wooden pieces I already had in stash.  There are likely baby peg people out there somewhere, but I liked how tiny/newbornish this looked)

Step 3.  Form the base.
1. Hot glue the back of the star to the top 
2. of the front of the dowel.
3. Stick some hot glue on the other end of the dowel and shove it in the wheel hole.
4. That's it.  You're done.

Step 4.  Put it together.
1. Glue Joseph onto the wheel just forward from the star pole.  I glued him to the left of the pole so the baby would be tilted in his direction.
2. Glue Mary next to Joseph.


You could totally glue or tie some twine or that thin yarn stuff (???) to the top and hang this on your tree.  

Or you could just set it out on your coffee table and let people say "awwwww..." because no one can resist a miniature version of anything.

You can also skip the entirety of this tutorial and only do steps three and four and you'd end up with a natural wood mini nativity, which I also like.

And have you seen this one at Target??  So cute!

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Making Spirits B"Write"!

Alright folks. This is my second to last super easy and inexpensive hostess gift idea.  I actually don't know if I'll get to my very last one, since it's getting ridiculously close to Christmas and I still have gifts to make as well as wrap and I'm pretty sure the rest of my days up until Christmas will be a wild, mad dash to finish.  The kind of wild mad dash that leaves your hair wondering when it last saw shampoo and causes you to be pulling off threads and paper scraps from strange places when you finally do go out in public.
Anyway, here's one more:

Today's gift can really only be considered semi-homemade, since most of the homemade aspect is all in presentation and putting it together.  BUT, that's what makes it so easy!

Aren't you LOVING Target's dollar section right now??  I swear I could totally buy out their entire line of notebooks/cards/pens/paper goods/ribbon/etc. at the moment.  And then keep it instead of giving it away because I love it all too much...
If you're right there with me, you will love these cute little stationary sets comprised almost entirely of things from the Target dollar section.

Let's put it all together!
1.  First, washi tape everything you can washi tape.  I put different designs on the plain envelopes to spruce them up.  I also covered the clothespin.
2.  Gather all your ingredients.
3.  Find some twine or ribbon.
4.  Put the cards/matching envelopes together, stack the plain envelopes on top of the notebook.  Tie them together with ribbon.
5.  Put the bigger items (paper and envelopes) in the big zipper pocket.  
6.  Put the pen, stickers, washi tape, and stamps in the little zipper pocket.
7.  Use the clothespins to attach the tag to the front of the bag.
8.  Done!

Target has such cute cards and notebooks right now!  You could make a turquoise and green set!

Or a super mod metallics and off white set!  (PS, those zipper bags were only $1 for both!)

A simple, cute "thank you for hostessing" gesture!

Here's the deets on the "ingredients":
Those envelopes are just your average small white envelope.  ("but they don't look like your average envelope..." yes.  More on that later.)  I have those on-hand, and you might too, but you can get them pretty much anyway.  I get mine at Walmart usually.
The fun graphic notebook, the "Hello" cards, the brown envelopes, the pen and the zipper bag are all from the Target dollar section.  Holla!
The clothespin is your average wood clothespin.  I had them on-hand.  But you can get them at the dollar store.
The stickers are plain gold star stickers that I cut off the pack of red/green/blue/silver/gold sheets of star stickers.  I only wanted the gold ones so they matched.  I had these on-hand too, but you can buy them almost anywhere.  Walmart.
The washi tape was a two-pack I found at Target in the craft section. 

So, the real breakdown here goes like this.

Cost -
Envelopes; Walmart, about $3 for 100 (I included 8)
Notebook; Target, $1
Clothespin; Dollar Store, $1 for 50 (I included 1)
Washi tape; Target, $2 and some change for 2 (I included 1)
Pen; Target,  $1 for 2 (I included 1)
Star stickers; Walmart, $2.67 for 686 (I used one strip of stars)
Greeting cards and matching envelopes; Target, $1
Zipper Bag; Target, $3

Total for 1 Stationary Set: $6.60 

Woo hoo!  Under $10!  I had the clothespins, envelopes and star stickers on hand, so I spent about $6.00.  

Time - 
About 8 minutes for everything, including printing the printable and putting it all together.

I call that awesome.

If you're looking for something even less intensive (not sure how you can get less intensive than 6 bucks and 8 minutes... but here you go.)  You can simply print out the tag and stick it under the pen on a notebook.  That's about $2 and 2 minutes, so I guess you really can't beat that.

 Colorful, cute, and super functional.  

Want to make your own?  Here are some tags to save you some time!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Don't you love pinterest?

I do.  I totally do.  Most of the time.  When I'm not comparing my mediocrity to insanely impractical perfection.  Or worrying that I'm trying to make my own images too "pinteresty".  Or worrying that my pictures aren't "pinteresty" enough.  Or worrying about whether or not my blog gets pinned enough.  Or seeing the same stinking pin over and over and over again in my feed.  Ok, whatever.  On the whole, I love it, and I can't imagine trying to keep track of the inspiration I find all over the way I used to... yikes.

Inevitably, you've run across a pin or ten on pinterest that are just so eye catching, so amazing, so ingenious, that you know you must try it.  

Today's yummy monday post was one of those.  Have you seen it?  It's been pinned to my "To Eat" board for quite a while now.

I know right??

Here we go...

A triumph, am I right?

Now, if I'm being fair - to whoever it was who created that idea and made it to perfection and then posted it in the stylings you can not possibly resist - I likely just did not do it right. It's likely user error - not a misleading pin.  Probably.  Possibly.  Have you tried it?

The problem is that this pin doesn't really lead to a real thing.  And sometimes I bother to look orphan pins up online by google searching the title or something, but this time it seemed so straightforward that I didn't.  I mean, the whole tutorial is right there in the pictures, right?  Not really.

To improve upon my rather disappointing attempt, I should have waited hours before layering on the caramel.  I should have used caramel candies and melted them with some evaporated milk or something instead of using caramel ice cream topping.  

As it was, my failure was so bad it wouldn't even come out of the pan in brownie shaped pieces.

It was so very sad.  And soggy.  Very soggy.  That was the worst part, the brownie batter and caramel syrupy stuff made the pretzels mushy.  Ew.  Grossest texture ever.  There were supposed to be crunchy, right?  And frankly, I don't know how to correct that.

So Even with the ideas for improvement that I've had, I don't think I'll be trying this again.  I mean, I just did so well the first time.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Another wreath.

I don't need to tell you how much I love to make wreaths... You obviously know that from here.  And here.  And obviously, here.

I originally made an ornament wreath a few years ago, using the wire hanger technique.  It lasted for the season but didn't store well (probably because I didn't use much care) and I wanted to update it.  

Here's my more modern take on the ornamental wreath from years ago:

You need:
An 8x10 thick wooden frame spray painted your choice of color
Lots of ball ornaments in your choice of colors and in assorted sizes
Some jingle bells in your choice of color and in assorted sizes
Hot glue gun

1. Take your twine and loop it under the frame, 
2.  at the top of the frame in the middle, pulling the ends through tightly.
3.  Begin gluing your ornaments to the frame with the hot glue.  
4.  Do the corners first, 
5.  to make sure the frame is even, not lopsided, balanced.
6.  Use the large balls on the corners.  Double them up if you need to in order to balance things.
7.  Start adding other balls around the sides.
8.  Hot glue to the frame, and to the other balls to make sure they're secure.
9.  Continue doing this, placing the colors and sizes at random.
10.  Fill up the frame.
11.  Once the entire frame is full, look around and see if there are any blank spots or lopsided areas.
12.  Fill in the big blank areas with balls.  Balance out the frame.
13.  If you see smaller blank areas,
14.  fill them in with jingle bells.
15.  Continue to glue on jingle bells.  You can glue them on top as well.
16.  Make sure everything is filled in.
17.  Add a bit of hot glue to the twine on the back of the frame, just to make it extra secure.
18.  Tie some jingle bells to the twine you've tied around the frame, so they hang down in the middle.
And there you have it.  Hang and enjoy!  Please ignore the unintentional and completely unavoidable selfie.

Yea!  Fun wreath!

You might like this Christmas wreath, too!

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Easy trees.

Have you noticed a trend in my crafting lately?  Namely that they take next to no effort whatsoever?  Like, your average 5 yr old could probably do them?
That's because: 1. It's Christmas time.  I'm usually not even near the blog right now because I'm too busy making gifts I've procrastinated.  The only reason I'm posting crafts this year is because I'm STILL procrastinating.  It's going to be a rough week before Christmas, I'll tell you that.  AND B. My baby does not sleep.  Ever.  Like cat naps, seriously.  When he sleeps for an hour I rejoice.  (No, I really do.  I have a cheer and a dance.  I call it my "he finally slept for more than 15 minutes!" cheer.)  Also, he has decided he must be attached to my person at all times. All of this is totally different from my other two kids and therefore something I'm not used to so it's therefore eating up my time. 

So, enough with the explanation.  The point is, all these Christmasy crafts are EASY!  You can do them in no time flat.  Including this one:

You don't even need a tutorial (once again) but I'm giving you one anyway!  

You need:
Poster board
Felt in your choice of colors
Yarn in your choice of colors
Hot glue gun

1. Make your "tree frame."  Sure, you can use styrofoam cones, but they're so stinking expensive.  And I don't think they come in ginormous.  So.  Buy some poster board, roll it on the diagonal to make a cone-type shape, hot glue it together to secure into said shape, then cut around the bottom to even the base out and make it able to stand.  Bam.  A tree frame.
2. (not pictured, sorry) Cut a strip of felt twice as wide as you want it to be and as long as possible.  Mine were cut at about 4-6 inches wide and, uh, very long.
3. Fold the strip in half the long way (hot dog style) and hot glue the edges together.
4. Make small cuts in the folded edge all along the whole length of the strip.  They look like little loops.
5. Starting at the base of the tree frame, hot glue your strip to the frame.  Secure it by the edge of the strip that doesn't have all the little cuts in it.  Overlap the strip as you wind it around the tree frame so that you cover the edge that is being hot glued down. 

6. When you get to the top, just squeeze the felt together in a kind of flat point.  Do this with all different sizes in your choice of colors.  Fun little loopy, shaggy trees!
7. I will not insult your intelligence by giving you a tutorial for the yarn trees.  Just know that for the turquoise and white one I wrapped the whole poster board tree frame in both strands at once and for the green and white one I wrapped the frame in first white and then green.  The difference is subtle, but it's there.  I used hot glue to secure the ends of the yarn.
8. Decorate with your fun trees to your hearts content.

I know, I know.  They don't have evergreens in Bethlehem.  But I liked this little vignette anyway.  And yes, those pictures have since come down from my wall.  And YES, I need to update them.

I have a little "tutorial" for the cute fluffy lights as well.  Coming up!

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!
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