Doable Detail: Block Letter Gift Wrap

Block Letter Gift Wrapping

I love hand wrapping gifts. Yes, I know gift bags are much more convenient and there are thousands of super cool printed wrapping papers, to say nothing of the adorable tags, bows, and other adornments. But I suspect I am some kind of gift wrapping masochist. Why, oh WHY, in the midst of all these beautiful wrapping choices must I insist on making my own? Nevertheless, I do, and if you happen to get the unreasonable urge to decorate a package by hand, too, here’s an easy tutorial for making a custom block letter gift wrap.

I made this for a very special young man’s first birthday. Can you guess his name? I started by wrapping the gift in plain brown craft paper. I keep this on hand at all times. You can buy enough to gift wrap a small imported sedan for about $10.

Block Letter Gift Wrapping

I then cut a strip of contrasting paper (white) long enough to wrap around the package. Weighing it down with needle nose pliers while blasting Wolfgang on your (very fingerprinty, ew) Ipad is optional.

Block Letter Gift Wrapping

Next, either free-hand sketch out the block letters like I did, or use a stencil. Either way, make sure to use a pencil. Carefully cut out each letter using a craft knife. Then go back and erase any pencil marks that might be showing.
Block Letter Gift Wrapping

Pick out some paper scraps in whatever colors and patterns you desire. Cut them down to size to fit behind each cut out letter.
Block Letter Gift Wrapping

Flip the paper with the cut out letters to the reverse side. Tape down the patterned paper over each letter. Repeat until each letter is covered.

Block Letter Gift Wrapping

And there you go, an adorable, custom, hand made gift wrapped package! Who needs cute wrapping paper anyway?

In Season: In the Orchard

In the orchard

Well, summer has gone with nary a peep from me on this blog. So, my friend Jen, of Cook It, Click It, Eat It, and I decided that we both could do for a little motivation (and accountability) to kick start our blogs again. We came up with the idea of choosing a seasonal theme and each doing a post around the theme. Jen will be focusing mainly on delicious seasonal recipes and I’ll be concocting beverages of all sorts and possibly some quick crafty projects. We’ve mapped out seasonal themes through the end of the year, and TA-DA! Today is the first!

In the orchard

Even though it was in the upper 80’s here in NC over the weekend, the calendar says fall has officially arrived. And nothing quite says fall to me like apples. And decorative squash. And sweaters. And warm bowls of soup. And impending death to mosquito kind. But, back to apples. Apple cider, that staple of fall drinks, is quite a versatile cocktail ingredient. A steamy mug with a shot of rum and a cinnamon stick is just the thing for a cool fall evening. But not so much when the thermometer is still pushing past the 80 degree mark. So I set out to find an apple inspired drink that is also cool and refreshing. A little cider, some bourbon, and a hint of bitters solved my hot-weather, fall drinking woes.

In the orchard

Apparently, there is some confusion over apple cider versus apple juice. I have no desire to enter into the debate, but I will say that I used Martinelli’s Apple Cider for this drink for two reasons. One, I was very taken with the attractive leaf motif on the glass jug. Yes, I admit to occasionally choosing grocery products based on prettiness. I am a shallow consumer with a weak spot for attractive packaging. Second, it was a lovely, clear, pale yellow, not dark brown and sludgy like some ciders. Not that there’s anything wrong with sludgy ciders (other than saying ‘sludgy cider’ makes me throw up in my mouth a little), but I wanted a clean, un-sludgy apple taste for this drink. If sludgy ciders are your thing, though, by all means feel free to substitute.

Bourbon & Apples

1/2 cup apple cider

1-1/2 ounces bourbon

dash of aromatic bitters

Combine all ingredients over ice and serve immediately.

In the orchard

I’d been kicking around ideas for a quick and easy apple craft for this post, too. I came up with a clove-studded monogrammed apple, mostly because I have a baggie full of cloves (don’t ask) that need using up. It was incredibly easy to do. I can just see these used at a fall place setting, lined up on a mantel, or nestled into a wreath. To make your own, lightly trace the letter onto the apple with a pencil. Then, using a toothpick, prick small holes about every 1/4″ along the letter outline and insert whole cloves into the holes.

Don’t forget to click on over to Jen’s blog at Cook It, Click It, Eat It and check out what kind of apple-y goodness she has going on for this themed post. I got a text from her with a sneak peek photo and it looked yummy! And stay tuned for more joint posts. Coming up next…OCTOBERFEST! Happy fall, y’all!

Doable Details: DIY Waterproof Party Hats

Henry rocking a waterproof party hat

Sometimes I really wonder about myself because my brain is a very weird place. I have no idea how it conjured up the idea for waterproof party hats, but once it did, I was in the grip of a DIY fury. The occasion that prompted this craft was an indoor pool party to celebrate my friend Amanda’s birthday. Of course, my brain didn’t decide I needed to make these until a few days prior to said pool party. Below is a recap of a conversation I had with the husband when I revealed the ‘plan’ for the hats.

Me: I don’t suppose you’d like to go to Lowe’s with me right now?

The husband: What do you need at Lowe’s on a Tuesday night?

Me: I’m going to make waterproof party hats for Amanda’s indoor pool party so I need flexible plastic sheeting of some kind. I don’t really know what will work yet, but I’ll know it when I see it.

The husband: Are you saying that you’re going to wander up and down the aisles at Lowe’s until you find something that will work?

Me: Pretty much, yeah.

The husband: Ok, I’m in.

You can see why I love him. Also note that he did not at anytime question and or ridicule the idea of waterproof party hats. He has developed a very high threshold of tolerance for my ludicrous ideas over the years. I think it was the suggestion that we rent a lion for our 30th birthday party that really broke him.

ANYWAY, back to the party hats. The mystery flexible plastic sheeting turned out to be heavy duty plastic shelf liner. Flexible, easy to cut, impervious to water, and a cute dotted pattern, score! I may or may not have done a little dance in the aisle at Lowe’s.

Waterproof party hats

After figuring out what kind of plastic would work, these hats came together really fast. Below is a list of materials needed to make your own. On a scale of 1 to 10 in craft difficulty, I would put these hats at about a 7, mostly because making the pom poms is kind of fussy. Feel free to leave them off, though, if you don’t feel quite up to the extra effort!

1 roll heavy duty plastic shelf liner

template for a party hat (I rolled a piece of paper into a cone shape and then cut it into a hat shape. I would recommend using this one instead of my technique)

Sharpie

Sharp scissors

staples and stapler

Craft knife

elastic, each hat will need about a 10″ piece

1 plastic grocery or shopping bag per hat for the pom pom on top

Waterproof party hats

Trace the template onto the plastic shelf liner using the Sharpie. Cut out the template. Roll into a hat shape and staple to hold shape. Use the craft knife to cut a small slit on opposite sides of the hat to hold the elastic about 1/2″ from the bottom of the hat. Slide the end of the elastic into the slits and tie in a knot to secure.

Cut the handles and bottom off each plastic shopping bag. This should leave you a tube of plastic. Starting at one open end of the tube, cut a notch about 1/2″ deep  into the plastic. With the scissors parallel to the open side of the tube,  cut a long continuous 1/2″ wide strip in a spiral manner down the plastic tube. This is a hard thing to explain without being able to show you, check out these instructions, too, for more info. Repeat for each bag.

Once you have your plastic ‘yarn,’ make a pom pom by wrapping the yarn from one bag around four fingers and then tying off in the middle. Cut the ends and fluff out the pom pom (There’s a good visual tutorial for the technique at Craft Stylish). Repeat until you have an equal number of pom poms and hats. Staple a pom pom to each hat. Put on finished hat and parade around kitchen while husband rolls eyes and dog barks maniacally (optional).

Just for proof that these actually ARE waterproof, here’s a picture of the husband and I in a heated battle of Don’t Let the Beach Ball Touch the Water wearing the hats.
Waterproof party hats in action

Dressed Up Cups

Dressed Up Cups

The holiday season has descended! I’m in full-on party prep mode for our annual holiday party. One of our traditions for the party is my husband’s wicked delish spiced hot cider. He makes about two gallons every year, we set it on the stove at a simmer with a decanter of rum next to it. It’s always a hit and we have never have any left at the end of the night.

Every year I weigh the options for cups for the cider. Since it’s hot, normal cups won’t really cut it. In years past, I’ve made tags to decorate our regular mugs and used plain Styrofoam cups. But, we don’t really have enough mugs for the number of cider drinkers and Styrofoam is plain old boring. This year, I bought some festive red paper cups at the dollar store, but I thought they needed some jazzing up. Hence this super easy DIY, which really makes the cups special!
Dressed Up Cups

Supplies:

Paper cups

White card stock

Self adhesive mini ribbon bows (check out dollar or big box stores for cheap options)

Scissors

Nice pen

Cut the card stock into 1″ x 2″ strips. Cut a V shape out of the bottom of each strip. Write each guest’s name on a strip (or numbers if it’s a big party). Peel backing off a mini ribbon bow. Center a strip under the ribbon and press firmly to a cup. Repeat for each cup.

I love, love, love how these turned out. They’re the perfect (easy) detail to dress up a plain cup. They look really impressive, but don’t take much time or money to whip up. Keep these in mind post-holiday, too, for birthday parties or baby showers!

DIY fall centerpiece

Fall placecards and centerpiece

Remember last week when I suggested you whip up a few extra fabric leaves? Well, if you did, honey, you’re so close to having this easy centerpiece completed and a totally coordinated fall table! Yippee!

Fall placecards and centerpiece

 Materials:

Fabric leaves in fall colors (see tutorial here)

Apples

Ribbon

Tall glass vases wide enough to fit an apple (I got mine from the dollar store and they were the perfect size for Macintosh apples)

Water

Fill vases with water and then float an apple in each. Use the ribbon to tie on a fabric leaf or two to each vase. Extra leaves also look adorable as apple ‘stems.’ Group together the vases and apples with stems in the middle of the table (or on a mantel would be a-dor-able, too). Throw in some votive candles if you’re so inclined and admire your mad skills at creating a charming fall table!

Fall placecards and centerpiece

DIY fabric leaves place card

Fall placecards and centerpiece

I was laughing with my sister this weekend about how it was just Halloween last week and now there are Santas and snowmen everywhere you look! The time between Halloween and Thanksgiving sometimes feels like a long pause leading up to the Christmas rush. I think fall, and Thanksgiving especially, deserves to be honored and not just swept over while waiting for Santa. So, here’s an easy DIY to dress up any fall supper. This would be great to pretty up a Thanksgiving table if you are hosting guests this year (or a thoughtful offer to bring if you are NOT the host). Even better, these can be made from scraps just hanging around, so they are thrifty AND easy. (Please tell me I’m not the only one with a huge scrap stash!)

Fall placecards and centerpiece

Materials: fabric scraps in fall colors, pinking shears, green or brown pipe cleaners, scraps of card stock and ribbon, scissors, hot glue gun, nice pen

Fall placecards and centerpiece

Fold over a scrap piece of fabric and use the pinking shears to  freehand cut a pointed oval leaf shape. You will end up with 2 pieces the same size and shape per cut, these will be the front and back of each leaf.

Fall placecards and centerpiece

Fire up the old glue gun. Carefully run a line of hot glue down the middle of one of the fabric leaves and press the pipe cleaner into the glue.

Fall placecards and centerpiece

Repeat with the other fabric scrap leaf and carefully press together,

Fall placecards and centerpiece

After making a few (three really is a magic number), stack them together and tie with a little ribbon and piece of card stock with the guest’s name.

Fall placecards and centerpiece

Ta dah! A lovely fall place card full of fun texture and details for NO money (assuming you’re a stash hoarder like me).

While you’re at it, make a couple more of the fun fabric leaves and next week I’ll show you how to make a super easy but totally chic centerpiece to coordinate with these place cards! Viva la Fall!

Spooky DIY Feather Chandelier

Spooky Halloween Feather Chandelier

As I hinted on Friday, I’ve been kicking around the idea of some kind of spooky hanging chandelier. My first idea was a BIG leaf chandelier, but I didn’t get any further than a bag of black spray painted leaves (and fingers)!

So I rethought the initial idea. Rummaging through my craft supplies, I found a half-forgotten bag of black feathers and BOOM, mini feather chandelier it is! A few rhinestones add some satisfying bling and upgrade this DIY project into gothic glam territory.

Supplies:
Bag of black feathers
Black cardstock
Rhinestones
Hot Glue
Black Ribbon
Tape

Spooky Halloween Feather Chandelier

Cut the cardstock into two pieces, one 12″ x1″ and one 8″ x1″. Hot glue the feathers to each strip.

Spooky Halloween Feather Chandelier

Curve the cardstock into a circle with the hot glued feathers facing the inside. Glue the edges of each piece of cardstock together to make two circles. Giggle because they look like the indian headreses you made in 2nd grade.

Spooky Halloween Feather Chandelier

Cut three 6″ pieces of ribbon. Tape to the inside of the two circles so that the smaller circle hangs underneath the bigger. Cut another piece of ribbon about 24″ long and tape to the bigger circle to hang. Hot glue rhinestones around the paper circles for that extra sparkly kind of spooky!