Thursday, June 30, 2011

She's a Grand Ole' Wreath.

I'm ready to reveal this year's 4th of July door candy.  Wait for it...

She's a beaut.  I'll admit here and now that I got the idea for those toothpick firecrackers from Jess at Two Shades of Pink (she put hers on cupcakes, though).  

Making this baby reminded me how much I like making wreaths - it's an odd obsession, I know.  Moving on...

This is a wreath tutorial in two parts.  First, we must make the firecrackers.
You'll need:
Grosgrain ribbon (I used skinny red, white and blue)
Silver and gold crochet thread
Dowels of different sizes
Spray starch
A baking sheet and tin foil
Toothpicks and/or wooden skewers
Hot glue gun
An oven

So, first, you'll preheat your oven to about 250.

Cut your ribbon into manageable pieces.  The exact length doesn't matter - you'll cut them again later.  While you're at it, cut some crochet thread in silver and gold as well.

Use tape to secure one end of a ribbon piece to a dowel.  Twist the ribbon around the dowel.  Secure the other end with tape as well.  You can overlap the ribbon a bit as you go, but don't scrunch it up or wrinkle it.

I used bamboo skewers for the crochet thread, since it it so small.

I used different sized dowels so that the firecrackers would have different sized corkscrews, but that's up to you.  Lay all your dowels on a tin foil covered baking sheet.  Spray them all really well with starch.  Turn them over and spray again.  (Just ignore those thick ribbons with stars.  They're for a different project.)

Stick them in the oven and bake them for about 10-15 minutes.  Don't over bake, you don't want them to burn.  (I swear, I'm not kidding.  I have burned ribbon before.)

Take them out and let them cool.  Then, slide the ribbon and crochet thread from the dowels.  

Snip the ribbons and thread into smaller pieces - I made two sizes of firecrackers, small with toothpicks, and larger with skewers.  You make them both the same way.  Cut a piece of crochet thread and lay it down.  Lay your corkscrews on top, perpendicular.

Tie the thread around the bunch of corkscrews in a double knot.

Add a bit of hot glue to the end of the toothpick.

Lay your bunch of corkscrews on top and tie the same thread around the toothpick, twice, double knotting.

Shake your firecracker upside down a bit to fluff up the corkscrews so they lay nicely.

For the sparklers, you will only use the crochet thread.  Wrap a bunch of it around your fingers, then slide it off and tie a piece of thread around the middle of the bunch.  Then slide a longer piece of thread through the middle of each loop going through one way and then back the other way.  Tie this in a double knot.

Cut both loop and shake the poof out really well.  Then just trim up any extra long pieces.  

Add this to a toothpick or skewer (depending on how big it is) the same way as outlined above.  You can trim it up even more after you've attached it.

Now you've got all your firecrackers made!  We can move on to preparing the wreath form!

You'll need:
A styrofoam wreath form
Red and white striped ribbon
More red and white striped ribbon for when you run out of the first kind
Gold crochet thread for when you run out of the second kind of ribbon
Star-shaped mardi gras type beads from the dollar store
Hot glue gun

I had a BOAT LOAD of this ribbon which I inherited from my Grandma.  (I mean, literally.  When she died, she left the entire contents of her craft room to my mom, and in turn, me.)  So I decided to cover the wreath with this.

I started by hot gluing one end to the back of the wreath.

And then wrapped, and wrapped and wrapped and wrapped... really regretting my decision to use super skinny ribbon.  Although, I liked the look of the super skinny stripes.  When I got this far:

I realized I hadn't inherited as big a BOAT LOAD as I thought.  So I had to improvise.  I began wrapping the second half in red and white ribbon of a much larger stripe.  I soon realized that I would run out of that shortly as well.  SOOOOO, this pattern was born:

That's gold crochet thread on the bottom.  That took a long time to wrap.  I was intending on doing a portion of the wreath in a lighter color anyway, so I think it worked out alright in the end.

Now, you'll disentangle your mardi gras type beads:

And pick out only the blue ones.  Snip each necklace apart into long strands.

Begin by gluing one end of a strand down to the back of the wreath, on the gold threaded area.  Then wrap on a slight angle, gluing periodically.

That's a dab of hot glue.  I found that I was gluing generally twice per wrap - once on the front and once on the back - sometimes more for a little more stability.

As long as you line your stars up so that the point of one line of stars is jammed up into the indent of the one next to it, you should end up with a fun angled pattern, like this:

And the whole wreath now looks like this:

Just stick your firecrackers in by the stars,

Use a red star necklace and one extra firecracker to hang the wreath,

and VOILA!  Very patriotic.

I'd say I'm officially back in the wreath game.

Happy 4th!

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A guest with some good, simple ideas.

Our guest today is from the super cute blog, A Craft a Day.  I first found Deidre's blog during her "Sew and Tell Challenge," where we had to create an outfit from upcycled clothing either thrifted or in our stash.  (I won't mention that I won... that would be bragging...)  Deirdre has all kinds of goodies on her blog - crafts and sewing, upcycled projects, tips and resources.  Did I mention she was the SYTYC season 3 WINNER???  Obviously, she's awesome.  And on top of it all, she's a professional photographer (which means this is her crazy busy season.  Good thing she could stop by anyway!)

Hi!  I'm Deidre from A Craft A Day!  I'm so excited to be sharing with you all today because this is a topic that fits our family to a T.  

Picnics are not just a once in a while thing for our family.  We often have a picnic at least once a week.  So, I'm going to share with you some of our favorite places to have picnics in our little lakeside town in Wisconsin.

Where we live there are LOTS of big hills along the shores of Lake Michigan which provide fabulous views and a lot of fun opportunities for our family.  We often pack a meal in a back pack and hike to a place to eat.  It's so fun for the kids to scope out a place for dinner or lunch.

We usually just put down our picnic blanket, made from this tutorial (but a bit bigger), right on the ground in a place that looks inviting.

And other times, we just use a nearby picnic table.  Just a tip... bring some disinfectant wipes with you.  Who knows who or what ate there before you!!!

And sometimes we have our picnic in a grassy park where we can run around and play games like tag or catch.

Our most common picnic place is in the grass outside of the COOLEST park EVER!  Possibility Playground in our little town or Port Washington, WI.  If you live in WI or plan to visit WI, it's worth checking out!  It's so fun you can plan on being there for hours... which is why we picnic there often!

So what kind of things do we eat?  We keep it simple!

The kids love their turkey sandwiches and veggies with hummus. 

Dan and I prefer a grown up sandwich.  This one was missing the veggies (just like my husband likes it... ugh... men).  Looks good though, right?  Here's what we do:

Buy a big loaf of ciabatta bread (our store was out so I used what I could find).  Cut it in half and spread pesto on one side (buy or make it) and olive tapenade on the other side.  Then, pile on the hard salami, some provolone, tomatoes, lettuce, and banana peppers.  Let it sit for a bit so the bread soaks up the juices.  It will be ready by the time you get to your picnic destination!

And for dessert we keep it simple.  I cut off the tops of the strawberries and hull them (cut out the middle) and fill them with whipped cream (the stuff in the can - not the best for you, but it's DESSERT!).  It's so simple and before I can finish filling the strawberries, my kids have them gone!

Keep the food simple and enjoy your time outside with the family!

First of all - thanks Deidre for taking some time to be with us!  Secondly, how awesome is that park?  Even without the awesome views of Lake Michigan, you can totally use these tips and ideas.  I love that picnics are a part of weekly life for Deidre's family - they don't have to be a huge affair, just some sandwiches and things packed away in a bag so you can enjoy the sunshine and the fresh summer air!  Basically, you don't need a whole lot to do a picnic right - blanket, no blanket... table, no table... lake, park, trees, whatever!  The point is to get outside and enjoy each other's company.  I love the simplicity of it all - and I, for one, will be trying out that sandwich!

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!

An obsession is born.

Although there has been no talk about it around this blog yet, I am fully aware that there is a holiday approaching.  And with a holiday approaching, you know what I get to make!  Yep - some more door decor!

Remember what started it all?  This cute little book page wreath made out of small circles which I scalloped individually.  Yeah, it made me insane.  But hooked.

Then came this pretty little ode to summertime:

Still one of my favorites.  And then came a long line of holiday inspired wreath-y-ness.  A MOGO Birthday wreath, a Ribbon Spider Wreath, a Candy Corn Sunburst, a Comfy Cozy wreath, Crazy Canes, Vintage Romance... a lot of wreaths.  You may recall that my husband started calling me the wreath lady (calling up images of 80 year old gossips at the church gathering glueing smelly fake flowers to grapevines...), but I've made peace with that.

I missed a holiday.  I fully intended on posting an Easter wreath, but tragedy struck.

THAT, my friends, is one reason you should never spray paint cheap styrofoam.  I guess.

I did find a way around the set back, but by the time the dust had settled, Easter was over.  So you'll have to wait until next year.

That's why I was extremely excited for the 4th.  This marks one whole year from when I first embarked on my door decor obsession.  You can read all about it here.  But for now, I though I would repost last year's "wreath" which was actually not a wreath at all, but rather a found object door hanger.

And later on I'll show you what I made this year!

Well, I’ve only been “on my own” for the four years that we’ve been married.  Meaning I haven’t had much time to build up my stock of holiday tchotchke.  I’ve tried to work on it slowly so as not to overwhelm mr with all of the holiday necessities we are still missing.   He has no idea that you need a different door hanging for Valentine's, St. Patrick's, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Easter, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Hanukah, Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter, June and September.  He also has no idea that you need other holiday inspired decor for each of the above mentioned holidays and more sprinkled throughout your entire house.  And he’s oblivious to the fact that storage space for each said trinket and hanging is secondary and, dare I say it, trivial.  
My front door looked like this:
And it was sad.  It knew a holiday was coming and felt distinctly underdressed.  
So I set to work making what I call:

I wondered if I had anything hanging around on hand that could be put to 4th of July use?
Amazingly, I found a few things I think work perfectly.  If you’d like to create something like what I made above, you’ll need:
8 paint stir sticks
an old hard cover book (like from the 60’s or something...)
red, white and blue scrapbook paper
a paper cutter
mod podge (ha!) and brush
a cropadile (or other hole puncher that is heavy duty)
(not pictured):
a measuring implement of some sort (ruler, dot marker, etc) and marking implement of some sort (marker, pencil, etc.)
thick beading wire
Something sharp and pointy to poke tiny holes with (sorry, I don’t know what to call the actual tool.  I feel kind of dumb...)
white fabric

Just a note: Part of the charm of this project is that it isn’t perfect.  Far from it.  It’s kind of distressed in a crafty chic kind of way.  (At least that’s what I like to think) This is why I used subtly patterned paper - for a little texture - and multiple different patterns per color.  And that’s why this was a good project for me.  No perfection required!
Cut your red and white paper into long strips, altering the width.  
Take the long strips and cut them into three or four short pieces per strip.

Smear mod podge along one side of a stir stick.
Pick a color and lay those strips down on the stir stick, placing each strip right up against the last. 
Keep doing this all the way down the strip until it is covered.
Turn it over.  Trim the ends of the strips so that when they are folded in they don’t hang over the edge of the stick.
Smear mod podge down the back of the stir stick.
Fold down each strip on one side of the stick.
Smear mod podge over the top.
Fold down each strip on the other side of the stick.
Smear one more layer of mod podge over the top for good measure.  (and to seal)
Set aside.
Do this with 7 more strips - four red, four white.
When you’re done, and they are all dry, flip them over to the front (the side WITHOUT the seams where the strips were folded down) and mod podge over the tops of each to seal.
They look like this:
Rip off the front cover of the old book.  (I know, I know.  I desecrate books.  It’s nothing personal.)

Lay this down on some blue paper.
Mark where to cut the paper to fit around the cover.
Cut the paper to size.
Smear mod podge on the book cover.
Place this down on the blue paper about an inch from the top and press firmly.
Mod podge the flap of blue paper on the top down onto the cover.
Mod podge the bottom of the paper up onto the cover.
Mod podge over the whole thing to seal it, front and back (waiting for each side to dry before flipping).
Using the cropadile, punch a hole in the middle of book cover on the top side (this is how you will hang it on your door).
Take your pointy, pokey tool thing and poke two little holes just under this larger hole to either side of it.
Take a short piece of thick beading wire and poke the ends through the little holes from front to back of the cover.  Twist the ends together on the back.
Cut a strip of white fabric about two inches wide and four or five inches long and tie the ends in a double knot.
Thread this through the larger hole and tuck the section on the front of the cover through the loop of fabric strip poking through the back.
Using a measuring implement of some sort and a marking implement of some sort (I used a hole guide and a marker.  Imagine that.) Measure and mark where you will punch holes in the top of every stir stick.

Punch the holes with the cropadile.
Line your sticks up in order under the book cover.  Place them exactly where you want them to go.  Use the hole guide (or ruler) and marker to measure and mark where you will punch holes in the cover in order for them to line up with the holes in the sticks.

Punch the holes with the cropadile.
Cut your fabric into strips - about one inch wide.

Take a strip and poke one end into the hole in a stir stick from back to front.
Poke the other end of the fabric strip through the corresponding hole in the book cover from back to front.  
Adjust the stick to the desired position.
Tie the fabric strip in a double knot.
Repeat this process with the seven other sticks.
Trim the ends of the fabric.
Add some vinyl stars you cut out with your sister’s cricut.  (or embellish in some other way...)
And this is how it looks!  Not bad, huh?
But here’s where the “Nonpartisan” part comes into play... and where you will use that little wire loop you created on the top of the book cover.
Considering I don’t have much in the way of decorations, I just can’t commit to one design.  There are so many different ways to beautify this project, I couldn’t pick one.  So I didn’t.  I remained completely uncommitted.  I created four more designs.  Want to know how? (sorry I didn't get pictures of this part...)
To do this part, you’ll need:
red fabric
one more old book PLUS the back cover of the first old book you already destroyed 
blue scrapbook paper
Vinyl lettering (via the cricut)
white buttons of various shapes, sizes and persuasions
3 white paper doilies
a lime green star Christmas tree ornament
white paint 

Rip the covers off the old book.  
Cut each cover so that it is slightly smaller than the first book cover which is already in use.
Smear them with mod podge.
Cover them with blue paper in different shades and subtle patterns using mod podge.
Smear them with mod podge again to seal.
Using the cropadile, punch a hole in the tops of the book covers, in the middle.
Cut out three strips of red fabric, about an inch wide.
Poke one end of a fabric strip through the holes in the book covers.  Do NOT tie them in a knot.
For the doily “stars”:
Take a doily and scrunch it up into a flower shape - kind of smooshing the sides up so when you look down on it, it’s kind of a “t” shape.
Dab some hot glue on the underside of the “flower” shape, at the point.
Press firmly down onto the book cover.  
Dab some hot glue on the inside of the doily and scrunch the sides together so it makes a rosette shape.
Repeat this with the other two doilies.
For the button “stars”:
Using hot glue, glue your buttons down onto the book cover in a random pattern.
For the letters:
Pick a patriotic phrase and cut it out of wall vinyl with your sister’s cricut (or yours, if you’re lucky enough to have one).  I made one word larger so it would stand out.
Stick them right to the book cover in a spacing you like.  Press down firmly.  Mod podge over the top.
The last design is the easiest.  I simply took the ribbon off the lime green star ornament and painted it white. 
NOW, after creating the alternate designs, you can attach them to the original pennant.  

Poke the red fabric strip on one of the alternate designs through the wire loop on the top of the pennant.  
Tie in a single knot, so it’s tight enough to hold, but loose enough to untie easily so you can switch out the designs when you want to.
(note: for the single star ornament, I flipped the pennant around and hung it on the back so it lays against a plain blue background and not the vinyl stars.
And there you have it!  One project, with five different looks!  It’s very flip-floppy.  A very noncommittal, nonpartisan flag for you.  And all from stuff you’ve got laying around!
I think this one is my favorite.

And this was my view as I left the house to run to a meeting at church tonight.  We’re now, officially, Americans!

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!
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