Friday, December 30, 2011

Flea Market Bling

The monthly flea market is one week away, and I can hardly wait! Especially since I will be introducing my 2012 shopping challenge next week-and the flea market will be a big part of it! I picked up these goodies last month for $1 each! I've been wearing them non-stop and nothings been broken or lost (yet...knock on wood)!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Clearance Couture: American Style

Had a fabulous time browsing after Christmas sales (extra 50% off!!!!!!)  the other day. I found and couldn't resist a handful of items Urban Outfitters. A few safe bets, and a couple of risky items. But I will share those (the risks) when I actually wear them, waiting for that perfect day, ya know? 
It's a disease.
Pinned Image

I am super excited to bring out these classy ladies, that I purchased for a cheap date price of $9.99

And this patriotic bag for $9.99. Nothing like a bit of summer to brighten up gray December (we don't get snow or real winter here).

The combination of these two leaves me feeling very American. 
Just need my Coca-cola and I'm all set!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Wrap-Up & Personalized Monograms

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and were able to celebrate with all those you love! It's always a whirlwind season for me, and this year was no different. But I do think this year was pretty succesful! I feel super spoiled by all that I received this year. And I'm pretty sure I say that every year!
My family pretty much rocks.

Whenever I give gifts, especially when the gift is something I've made, I get horribly anxious, worrisome and a bit panicky for about 24 hours before giving the gift. And, again, this year was no different! I'm so grateful my hubby knows me well enough to quickly calm me down and bring me back to planet Earth before I cause too much damage.

We didn't stick to strictly handmade this year, like we did last year. I threw in some giftcards & a few quirky items and there was lots of bark too!  I also allowed others to make my gifts for me by purchasing jewelry from a fair-trade craft show (this one).
The jewelry was definitely a hit and with the huge selection, I was able to find items that fit each woman.

For our brothers, we made Personalized Monograms with trinkets representing their interests. I purchased shadow box frames, cut poster board to size and krazy glued/hot glued pieces to form the first letter of their name. It went a little something like this:
"A" out of internal computer parts.

"J" out of guitar picks.

"C" out of legos.

and "M" with a bike chain (which I failed to get a photo of....)

I was honest-to-goodness freaking out over these because a) in my head the idea looked way cooler and b) these guys like functional things, and these were decorative...But I'm excited to say they were all surprised and happy! And I was surprisingly happy. I like to think I know them well enough to know it was genuine!

And now that all is said and done, I am exhausted.
And I can't wait for next year already!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Brown Paper Packages, Tied Up with Strings.....

This week took on the tone of a handmade holiday, so why not round it out with DIY giftwrap? I focused this year on one of my favorite looks, brown paper & string. It's simple, a little rustic and totally budget friendly.

For my first round I re-used a paper grocery bag. Then, for a bow I typed out "Merry Christmas" in a festive looking font and colored it green. I cut the printed paper into strips and twisted each strip into a figure eight, securing with tape.  And for the center I cut a piece of tinsel and plunked it down in there.

And for my second go-around, I used brown paper lunch sacks. I bought 100 of them for $3! So ya'll are going to be gettin' your gifts in brown paper sacks for a while! And used plain old bakers twine for my bows.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More DIY Gifts

Last year was our first Handmade Christmas. We made a variety of items, mostly edible gifts. The one I did manage to get a picture of was the coaster sets my husband and I made together. We came across some scrap wood and cut it into 3x3 squares and covered them with spray shellac. Then we put clear furniture feet on the corners of the bottom of each one.

We packaged up sets of either 4 or 6. We had six types of wood, so each set had one of each: oak, pine, redwood, padouk, birch & mahogany. Both my husband and I come from carpenter families, so this was an especially fun gift to give. Plus, it was an occasion where my husband was more involved with the gift giving and knew what was wrapped under the tree!

I also made a set of wine charms by cutting rings off a mini-slinky (found at Beverly's craft store) and strung on a different color bead to make a set of 6. The end result was very similiar to these:

I also purchased some plain glass containers and gave out a few different goodies: Grandma's Chex Mix, a dry bbq rub and peppermint bark.

Last, we purchased some un-treated cedar fence boards and cut them down to size for grilling planks. And then I wrapped everything in re-usable shopping bags. This year, however, I have not been so energetic in my handmade gifts. I will fill you in after Christmas--don't want to give too much away! Are any of you making anything for Christmas gifts this year?

Monday, December 19, 2011

DIY Christmas Gifts: Kid Friendly

A few weeks ago I attended a Christmas Tea at church as part of a girls youth group for grades 1-8.  The annual gift exchange is a highly anticipated event, and the gifts the girls make are always outstanding! This year there was a great mixture of stress-free projects. I forgot to bring my camera to the event, so I found links with tutorials instead!

Towel Angel (tutorial here)

Yarn Wreath (tutorial here)

Readymade Scrapbook (I didn't find a tutorial for this one. But the idea is to decorate scrapbook pages and leave room for the receiver to put in their own photos. Pic found here)

Fabric Ornament (tutorial here)

Scrap Paper Ornament Framed Art (tutorial here)

Quite frankly, you don't have to be a 'kid' to enjoy making or receiving these gifts. And they can all be easily personalized for the receiver just in choice of color and pattern. These five projects barely scratch the surface of simple  DIY gifts, its exciting to see that this style of gifting is still going strong.
 Do you have a go-to DIY gift?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Clearance Couture: Family Photos & Goodwill

On one of my inevitable Goodwill stops, I found a lumber-jane jacket! And I just had to have it. Counted out $7.99 and the 'theme' of this years Christmas photo was inspired, planned & shopped for in about 3 minutes. Allow me to explain, my husband has many nicknames. Most of them revolve around the outdoorsy-man's man sort of thing: Mountain Man, Lumber Jack, Wyoming (since his name is Cody), etc. And to top it off, he happens to wear boots and those plaid, insulated jackets quite a bit. So when I spotted a female lumber-jack jacket (aka lumber-jane), it was a MUST-DO! A good friend of mine, who also happens to be pretty darn good at photography (lucky me!) took our photos. I couldn't be happier with the results. 

Ashley (AshWhitePhotography) is so creative and keeps everything fun and flowing. The result: candid-real-smiling faces. And on top of that, she was totally patient with our ADD dog. Tanner was terribly distracted by sticks and leaves and squirrels and the occasional car. Watch this:
"I smell something!!"

"What's over there?!!!!"

"Please guys, let me go get it!!"

(Panting in anticipation and straining against our death grip.)

"Fine, I will look at you (camera)"

"I'm done"

Haha! I love that Cody and I are in the exact same spot with the exact same smile and Tanner is all over the place. I know I'm going overboard a bit showing you a bajillion pics of my doggie, but he's our baby. See?

Doesn't this give you the "look at our new-born baby" vibe? Ahhh...someday...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Easy Christmas Sweets: Peppermint Bark & Dipped Marshmallows

I had a baking day last weekend with my childhood friend-for-eva. Except she did more baking and I did more melting. It was actually a great combo. We each got oodles of cookies & candy at the end of the day! Peppermint Bark is a staple around here for the Christmas season. And nobody lets me 'forget' to make it. But I did want to change it up a bit this year. Basically, the standard method goes like this:

Prep: Bags of white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is the best & its usually goes on sale for the month of December, I stock up by buying a few bags each week), bottle of peppermint extract (almost always out of stock in December, so buy in November!), candy canes & wax paper.

This would be far more interesting and fun if I had taken pictures during all this, but your hands get suuuper sticky (at least mine do!) so I try to avoid touching anything I don't have to! So I don't blame you if skip down past all my blabbing and just photo gaze.

1. Unwrap your candy canes (about 1 box of 12 per 4 bags of chocolate sounds about right). Put your unwrapped candy canes into a gallon size baggie and place this in a tupperware container because the bag will tear a bit as you break up the candy. Call on your little-big brother(s), husband, dad or anyone really and have them smash those canes to pieces with a mallet, muddler, rolling pin...whatever works. This is definitely a part of the process people don't mind helping with. Or if you're feeling particularly
 stressed this season, have at it yourself!

2. Put 1 bag of  white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and add a couple drops of peppermint extract.

3. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir.

4. Microwave again for 20-30 seconds. This is usually enough for the chocolate to be melted and not burnt. White chocolate burns QUICK. Thus, I melt it in the microwave, it's much easier to control the amount of heat exposure vs. using a double-boiler. You may still have a few lumps after two rounds in the microwave, but if you stir, they go away. Avoid re-heating a third time, it pretty much always ends in brown, chalky used- to-be chocolate.

5. Spread the white chocolate out onto wax paper (think like you're icing a sheet cake, not too thick & not too thin). Sprinkle with candy cane bits & dust and let cool. It only takes thirty minutes or so for the chocolate to be hardened up enough to break into pieces.

Isn't it so festive looking? It's also very festive smelling.

And for the change-up this year, I made a few batches like this:

I purchased a snowflake candy mold from Micheals (by Martha Stewart, $1.49 on clearance!!). I put the candy pieces in first and then spooned in the chocolate on top. I added some milk chocolate too, from another experiment, and I put the left-overs in as a middle layer between the candy cane bits and white chocolate. Since these were pretty thick, I cooled them in the freezer. 

One last thing. I've been admiring all these cake pops that seem to be popping up everywhere. But I'm a little intimidated to try making them just yet, so I'm easing into it with dipped marshmallows. 

Melt milk chocolate (pretty hard to burn, so zap it or double boil it). Stick lollipop sticks (also found at Michaels) into the marshmallows, dip in chocolate and sprinkle with candy cane bits & let cool. Bonus: the lopsided marshmallows become round and plump again with the chocolate coating.

So, there it is. Two easy Christmas treats. And these aren't too particular in method, so you can kick back and visit with a friend, family member or offspring while creating. Nothing better than chocolate to bring all your loved ones together, right?!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gone and Done It

Remember that sweater at Old Navy that I fell in love with? 
This one? Yeah, I couldn't stop thinking about it. But don't freak out, I didn't drop 50 big ones for it. Nope, found a pretty good substitute at Burlington Coat Factory for the half the price! 
So its not exactly a stellar example of a totally similar look. But its close enough for me: its gray, long, comfy and has those geometric-tribaly shapes.

 $25 is certainly more than I like to spend on anything, really. But I guess sometimes we all get hooked and suckered into things.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Endless Inspiration at the Flea Market

I could talk to death over ideas flowing from these photos. So instead of totally blabbing your ear off today, I'm going to try this 'pictures say a thousand words' thing and not interrupt. 

China & Glassware (spunk up your collection or use for crafts)!

Dessert stands from china & glassware ready to-go 
if you're not ready to DIY it.

Jewelry! Wear as is, or dissemble & reassemble as you see fit.

Grab a vintage fur coat to go with your jewelry!

And a belt! (or add jewelry to the belt...!)

Time for the garden. Or rather dream of growing a green thumb someday.
I should try cacti, I bet those are hard to kill.

These planter boxes are totally inspiring. Both to DIY and to plant.

Home decor should always include a bit of nostalgia...Coca-cola in my case.

Or Pyrex.

Or a Navajo rug.

And how cool are these already worn in bats & gloves!

Hope you enjoyed the tour!