DIY

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Don't you just love washi tape!? It's pretty, it's inexpensive, it adds instant character and charm to anything you stick it on. But once you have collected a few rolls (see my little collection above), they can become a storage problem. Shoving them in a box under a cabinet is not the answer because I like to keep them handy for all my little scrapping & journalism projects.  And besides, they're pretty!

 

Then I saw this pin on Pinterest  from the website http://safieh.wordpress.com and I knew the problem was solved.

 

 

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Did you know Walmart carries these straw dispensers? And better yet, they only cost about $8!

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Just lift up the lid and the whole "holder portion" will come out.  Twist to unscrew the bottom from the rod.

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Turn the holder over and slide the tape spools over the rod.  Screw the bottom back onto the rod.

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Flip the holder over and slip it back into the dispenser!  Look at the pretty washi tape! And using them is as simple as pulling up the lid and tearing off a bit.

I just love easy solutions!!

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Last year  on the ATC Facebook Page, I posted a link to a tutorial on diy knotted flip flops.  That tutorial caught my eye because it reminds me of my Steve Madden flip flops that I l-o-v-e:

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But in my busy-ness I never got around to actually doing the project and forgot about it.  That is, until a FB page follower asked me to repost that tutorial, which I did this morning.  And that’s when I remembered how much I loved that tutorial so I raced down to Walmart and picked up a pair of cheap flip-flops.

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I already had some scraps of fabric to use so this project cost me a whopping $2.50!  You can see the original tutorial over at The Mother Huddle or you can following along with my version below.

You will need:

  • 1 pair of cheap flip flops, something you can cut the straps out of and not feel guilty
  • 4 strips of thin fabric, preferably something silky like polyester.  Cut the fabric into 4 strips that measure 24”x4.5”
  • Some craft or kitchen scissors

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The first thing you have to do is clip off the “plugs” on the bottom of the shoe, the part that holds the strap onto the shoe.  Just push the straps down and the “plug” will pop through the bottom.  Snip-Snip!

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So now you’re left with strapless flip-flops.  You may proceed.

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Cut each end of each strip of fabric to a point. This will make it easier to thread the fabric through the holes.

Take two strips of fabric, line up the point ends, and push the point ends through the top hole (the one nearest the toe").  Push it through till there is about 3-5 inches of fabric coming through the bottom of the shoe.

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Tie a knot on the bottoms of the shoe by separating the 2 strips of fabric and tying a knot as close to the hole as you can but also keeping the tails as short as you can.  In the picture above, my tails are too long, I should have made them shorter.  Tie a basic ole double knot, making sure it is tight.  Then snip off the tails.

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Flip your flip-flop over so you are looking at the top.  You should have two strips of fabric coming up through the hole.  Keeping those strips together, tie another knot about 1 inch from the shoe. The 1” surplus is what will go in between your big toe and the knot will keep it in place.  I put it on my foot, then measured where the knot would go, tying off the knot with the shoe still on my foot.  It just made more sense to me that way instead of trying to guess.  You can add a second knot just above the first knot, if you choose.  That’s how The Mother Huddle did hers, I only did one knot because my fabric was textured and a little bulky.

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Next separate your strips so that there is a right and a left.  Cram the right strap down into the right hole so that it pops out underneath.  Do the same for the left.

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Once again knot the fabric so that it will stay secure, snipping off the ends when you’re done.  I put mine on my feet and measured, just the same as before.  You want the knots to be snug because fabric will stretch over time and you don’t want loose flip-flops.  You will probably have to do some adjusting, untying the knots, retying, tightening, etc. until they are just the way you want them.  Once you have them perfectly snug, snip off the ends and you are DONE!

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The whole project took about 30 minutes and I couldn’t be happier.  They are comfy, they were cheap and I can make many, many more versions.  All I have to do is switch out the fabric.

If you so desire, you can use smaller strips of fabric, you can finish the edges (I left my edges raw) or you can experiment with different fabrics, ribbon, rope, etc.  The Mother Huddle also shows a version with tie-backs on the heels.  You could even add embellishments like a flower or shoe clip.  It’s up to you!!

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Some of you will remember the gift I made for the Pinterest Party my sisters and I had a couple weeks ago.  Today I’m going to give you a short tutorial on how I did it.  BTW, as you read this short tutorial, you will see that about halfway through I switch from telling you what I did to telling you what you should do… my brain is like popcorn sometimes and I’m just too danged lazy to go back and correct my grammar!  Sorry, Ms. McDonald.

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I started out by reading this tutorial on Martha Stewart’s website to get the “gist” of it.  Now, clearly I did a one tone ombre instead of the 2 tone shown in the above photo.  In hindsight… it probably would have been a more interesting finished product if I had gone with the two tone but I always seem to err on the side of caution so, one tone it was.

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As you can see in photo 1, I used good ole liquid Rit dye.  Thank you Michaels for the 40% off coupon.  I simply used the instructions from the Martha Stewart instructions to fill the tub with the whole bottle of Rit dye plus a few gallons of hot water.  I also added about 2 cups of salt. In photo 2, my lovely assistant (my sister Natalie) stirred it all up until the salt dissolved and everything was well combined.  Lastly (4) I added a dash of dish soap to the water.  Apparently this breaks the surface tension of the water thus allowing the color to blend gradually.   Oh, and be sure to use rubber gloves because YOU WILL get dye on your hands.

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I used flour sack towels I bought at Target for like $4.  I love flour sack towels, in fact I sorta collect them.  You can’t have too many flour sack towels.  (5) Before you start dipping your towels you must dampen them with water.  And when I say dampen, I actually mean soak them through then wring them out.

(6) Now you are ready to start dipping!  Lower the towel into the dye just up to the lower 3rd of material.  Then for 10 minutes, you are going to raise and lower the towel so that the bottom 3rd of towel gets exposed to the dye but does not stay put in the dye.  If it stays put for any length of time you will end up with a hard line of color instead of a gradual ombre effect.  I figured this out the hard way.  I actually had to dye my towels twice to get rid of the noticeable line from the first dip.  Live and learn.

(7) After 10 minutes you move on to the 2nd third (the middle) of the towel, dipping & dunking for just 5 minutes.  Since you are just dipping this section for 5 minutes it will have a lighter color while the material that was dipped for 10 minutes will continue to get darker.  That’s ombre!

After 5 minutes of dunking the middle section, just dunk the last bit, the top of your towel, once or twice to be certain the whole towel has touched the dye(not pictured).  Then pull the whole towel out above the basin and start wringing the dye out, allowing it to drip from the top (lighter portion) to the bottom (darkest portion).

The next phase is the washing & rinsing phase, where I should have continued to wear my rubber gloves but I didn’t because I’m a Cotton-Headed-Ninny-Muggins… so I ended up with blue fingernails.  For a week.  Nice.

Take your dyed towels and rinse them in cold water until the water runs clear.  This step will take about 15 minutes depending on how many towels you dyed.  I dyed 8 so it took a while.  After the water runs clear (ish) drop those babies in the washer on the warm water setting and after they are done dry them in the dryer.

After they come out of the dryer you can iron them to make them look extra crisp and lovely.  Or not.  It’s entirely up to you.

Overall, a fun (and messy) project.  Ombre is so popular right now and there are a hundred different ways to use it, I hope you try it!

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First I had to keep it a secret because I didn’t want to spoil the surprises for anyone. Then I had to keep it a secret because I didn’t have time to edit the pics off my camera.  The life of a blogger, sheesh!  This is going to be the world’s longest post, but I don’t want to split it up into 2 or 3 posts so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy as I take you through our evening.

My sisters and I have been talking about doing a Pinterest Party for… forever.  We are all on Pinterest, pinning this and that, following each other’s boards, experimenting, etc.  We wanted to throw a party where everything was inspired by the things we saw on Pinterest: we would cook Pinterest recipes, decorate with Pinterest decor & give gifts of DIY Pinterest.

Finally Natalie pulled the trigger and said, “My house, be there!”  So last Friday night we finally had our Sisters Only Pinterest Party!  I will try to link you to our “pins” that inspired all this merriment.

Natalie & I worked on the decor earlier in the week.  Our goal was to keep the decorations, foods, gifts, etc. fun but still simple & inexpensive.  So we used picture frames we already had and printed out the Pinterest logo (which they so willingly provide on their website) to fill them.  I created a simple “Welcome to our Pinterest Party” sign that sat on the main table along with some pretty PInterest inspired vases that Natalie pinned.

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And see all those little “p’s” on the table?  I just used a template from Avery for 1” circle labels then used my 1” circle punch to cut them out.  Instant Pinterest confetti!!  We spread them all over the room.

At each place setting Natalie placed a little card of her favorite Pinterest quotes. 

The food, oh the food!  When you combine 6 girls who love to cook (and eat) you are going to get one crazy good meal.

We started out with appetizers from Adrienne and beverages from Andrea.  The appetizers were bacon wrapped jalapenos with a cream cheese filling. Oh...my...goodness.  I could have eaten the whole plate.  But those other 5 couldn’t keep their hands off of them either, darn it.

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Andrea made not one, but two beverages:  a blueberry lemonade and a pear sangria.  Both good to the last drop and I can’t wait for summer so I can enjoy them again and again.

 

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Then there was the main course by Natalie: grilled spice rubbed chicken, veggie couscous and grilled asparagus (which we forgot to serve, oops!).  Really tasty, but also really easy to put together. I don’t have her pins for those, maybe she’ll share later.

Each of us brought a small gift for each of the other sisters, which of course, was inspired by something we had pinned on Pinterest.  My gift was hand dyed ombre tea towels, inspired by this pin:

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I hope to share that project with you soon!

Natalie made 3 little presents (cheater): a little bracelet made with embroidery floss, a paint-chip bookmark and lavender salt & sugar scrubs.

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Here is a group photo of what the rest of the sisters made:

I’ll try to point them out to you separately…

See the dainty little ric-rac ring and button bobby pins?  Amy made those, inspired by these pins:

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The mug was hand stenciled by Andrea, a project I have meaning to do and just never got around to.  Now I don’t have to!  She was inspired by this pin:

Source: designmom.com via Erin on Pinterest

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Adrienne created the hot cup cuff with the most amazing fabric! I’m not exactly sure which pin she was inspired by but it might have been this one:

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The last gift was from Angela and you might not be able to tell what it is from the photo above.  Just below the mug you will see a pink-ish rectangular item.  Know what that is?  It does this:

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Clever, no?  She used this pin for inspiration:

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After our little gift exchange, Amy presented her sinfully delicious dessert, which somehow I didn’t get a picture of.  Must have been the food coma.  But I’m pretty sure she pinned it here:

Source: annies-eats.com via Amy on Pinterest

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They were sweet, salty, buttery… all the things a dessert should be.

It was a fun night of sharing, gabbing, eating and just being sisters.  We plan to have more Pinterest Parties in the future, this was just the trial run.  But it was so much fun and I look forward to the next one!

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This is a big spoiler.  Because my step-sisters were sick at Christmas and I haven’t seen some other family members yet, they haven’t received their gift.  And I know they are reading this so…surprise!

One of the things I love about my family is that we are really very simple people.  It’s the seemingly common things in life that make us the happiest.  We can be just as happy with a thoughtful, inexpensive gift as an expensive present at Christmas. We truly enjoy exchanging homemade gifts, a tradition we unofficially adopted after the kiddos started coming along.  This year cousin Ashley made homemade ranch dressing mix, Andrea made salt caramels, Amy made delicious jams, and so much more.

I wanted my gift this year to be something my siblings could enjoy for a long time and I landed on custom kitchen towels.  Originally, I wanted to imprint something Christmas-y on flour sack towels.  They are so useful and are easy to clean.  But I was having trouble finding a suitable size towel and then one day I stumbled on these lovely, almost vintage looking tea towels, with blue threading.  I just loved the texture and the color.  Not that I’m a cheapskate, but I do have a rather large family, so I was able to buy a big stack of towels for, get this, $10! 

Next I had to decide what I wanted to put on the towel.  It was harder than I thought it would be.  Some of us really get into the whole Santa-thing, while others not-so-much.  “Merry Christmas” was just too obvious and I was worried that a picture of a Christmas tree or holly would get too muddled over time.  The towel had such an Old World feel to it, I wanted an Old World graphic to match.  And that’s how I landed on “Joyeux Noel”, which literally means “Merry Christmas” in French.  I chose an Old English type of font to print the words out onto plain old paper.

Are your ready for the transfer process?  It’s super easy.  I took pictures of the trial run on flour sack towels with a different graphic, so don’t be confused!

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This is the finished practice-towel.  I have tried several different transfer methods and so far this is my favorite.  I don’t know if it will work with a color print…hmmm… might have to try that some other day.

Citri-Solve Transfer

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This is the stuff, CitraSolv.  It’s an all natural cleanser/degreaser, I bought mine at Whole Foods ages ago.  It’s strong stuff so don’t go splashing it around!  And you’ll only need a little bit for this project.

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You will also need a graphic, printed with a toner-based printer or copier.  An ink-jet printer will not work hereImportant: you must reverse your image, particularly if there are letters or numbers involved.  If you don’t mind if the project comes out backwards, then it doesn’t matter so much.  As you can see here, I have printed this pretty label out backwards (I think this graphic came from Graphics Fairy).  Cut your graphic out BUT leave about and inch border of paper around so you can tape it down to the towel.

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After you have taped the graphic face down to your towel, with a small paintbrush “paint” a small amount of CitraSolve onto the back of your graphic.  You don’t want it soaking wet with solvent because your image will bleed and get sloppy.  It should look a bit like an oil-stain.  As soon as you’ve applied the CitraSolve, grab a spoon.  Using the back of the spoon you will rub or burnish the back of your graphic into the towel.  Use small, swirly motions and be sure to travel the spoon over the entire graphic.  It takes about 1-2 minutes, depending on the size of your graphic.  Be careful, you don’t want the graphic to slide around because it will cause your graphic to transfer unevenly.  This is not always a bad thing, but if you are transferring letters or small details they may not be the most clear.

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As soon as you are done burnishing with the spoon you can carefully peel of the paper, your image will be transferred…ta-dah!  But you’re not quite done.  Now, I don’t know if this part is necessary, but someone else told me to do it so… just do it and don’t ask questions!  Place an old rag, dish towel, scrap of fabric, etc. directly underneath your newly transferred image and run over the top of your transfer with a hot iron.  Supposedly, this helps dry up any excess CitraSolve.  I have no idea if it’s true, but it smells good!

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Here is my image, fully transferred.  You can see that the small lettering gets a little muddled, mostly due to the texture of the towel but also because of the burnishing.  I don’t mind it, I think it lends to the vintage look.  If I wanted perfect letters I would have to do silk screening, something else I’m dying to learn.

Over time, especially with the use of harsh detergents or bleach, this transfer will fade.  But again, I think that lends to the antiqued feel of it and I like it.

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So that’s my last Christmas Project for this year!  I vow to be better prepared next year and get some of this stuff done e
arlier than the night before Christmas.  Who am I kidding, I will procrastinate next year just like always.

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If quoting movies were a recognized language, my whole family would be considered bi-lingual.  We quote movie lines to each other constantly!  Christmas movies are our all time favorite movies to quote, especially Home Alone I & II.  In fact, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know the line “Merry Christmas you filthy animal…and a Happy New Year!” 

Another ritual in our family is a little tradition we call Cousin Christmas.  My cousin Jill, my sister and I take one evening the week before Christmas to exchange gifts with each other and we always get each other a special ornament.  I had a hard time finding a good ornament this year so instead, I made my own…. inspired by a favorite movie quote… from Home Alone II!

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I swear, I’m not doing a paid advertisement for Michaels but I found these little porcelain Christmas trees in their clearance section for less than $1.  I grabbed those up and knew exactly what I was going to do with them.  I printed out the movie line that we have repeated to each other a hundred times, if not more, and the date to commemorate our 2011 Cousin Christmas.  I tried printing it several different ways but finally landed on white lettering on a black background.

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I put down a light coat of Mod Podge, pasted the letters down and set them aside to dry.  Then I realized I put some of the words on backwards, had to peel them up, reapply the Mod Podge, and let them dry once again.  I do things like this on a regular basis.

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They dried in less than an hour and they were perfect!  Total cost for both ornaments was less than $3 but worth so much more!

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canvas all

I loved this project, transferring a photo onto a canvas but in all the craziness, I didn’t take a final picture of this project so I’ll have to show you an example from one of the tutorials I referred to:

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I used a picture of my Grandma when she was a toddler and her father, my Great Grandfather, and transferred it onto an 8x10 canvas using gel medium and water. It is a really easy project, you can read the general directions here, but I will tell you from experience that 1) an inkjet photo will work just as well as a laser jet photo, 2) you can use Mod Podge or some other decoupage medium, you don’t have to use gel medium. 

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The process is fairly simple, the hardest part is waiting for it to dry.  First you put down a thin but even layer of gel medium or Mod Podge.

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Next you lightly spritz the photo (on regular paper, not photo paper) with water.  You don’t want it soaking, just barely enough water to soften it a bit.

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This is the most important step: first lay your picture face down onto the canvas and then carefully scrape the back with a piece of plastic (old Starbucks cards are perfect for this) to make sure that it lays down smoothly and that all the bubbles and excess gel medium are squeezed out the sides.  You must be patient when doing this.  Start from the center and gently scrape out towards the edges.  Wipe up any excess gel medium that squirts out the edges.  Now let it dry.  I think it’s best to let it dry overnight but if it’s a small project sometimes you can hurry it along with a blow dryer.

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After it dries completely, your picture will be visible through the paper backing, having been transferred to the canvas.  All you have left to do is spritz again with water, and begin scraping back the paper backing.  This takes some time, I find using my fingernail is the most productive but you can use your plastic card again to help.  The more you scrape, the more distressed your photo will become.  Keep spritzing with water and scraping until all the paper is gone.  After it dries I use some light sandpaper to further rough up the edges and make sure all the bits of paper have come off. 

The final step is to apply a thin layer of matte Mod Podge or other decoupage medium to seal your canvas. 

I made two canvases, the one of my grandmother and also one of Santa.

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I used them in our family gift exchange and as I knew would happen, there was little bit of good natured bartering over them, nostalgia being a hot commodity in our family.  My grandma was shocked to see herself on a canvas!  I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but I need to make another one for my sister so I’ll be sure to photograph that one.

All in all, it’s a cheap project.  Michael’s runs deals on their canvases all the time, you just have to keep your eyes open and wait for a sale.  Or use their mobile app to get coupons, there is as new one almost every week.  I always have Mod Podge on hand and printing the photo onto plain paper from my inkjet printer was practically free. Another under $10 project that was a big hit!

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hohoho

Another Christmas has passed, I hope yours was as great as mine.  With the exception of all of my step-siblings missing out on Christmas Day because they were either sick or working, it was a whole weekend of celebrating with friends and family.

I wanted so badly to share this year’s Christmas projects but it would have spoiled the surprise for a lot of the recipients so it had to wait.  So this week I will share my little projects with you, starting today with this one:

PROJECT #1

Some of you will recall me mentioning Older & Wisors 31 Ways to Wrap Your Crap and this tag idea she featured. As soon as I saw it I knew which picture I wanted to use:

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This is my dad dressed up like Santa Claus, circa 2006ish.  Who better to put on your tags than Santa?!  And since I already had the photo, it was FREE.  I like free.

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I resized the photo and printed multiples out onto white cardstock.  The white cardstock cost me a couple of bucks for the entire pack because I found a small pack at Michael’s on sale.  I think I used 3 sheets of the cardstock so the cost for this project was pennies.

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I bought this tag die cut at Michael’s right after Thanksgiving with a 50% off coupon, I think it cost me about $7 and I will get so much use out of it.  Using the die cut I punched out the tags and attached them to the gifts with ribbon.

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It took people a few minutes to recognize the photo but once they actually did they were cracking up laughing, especially my dad.  A few people even saved it after they opened their gift.  I thought it was as special memory and a nostalgic way to celebrate yet another year of giving.

So there was Project #1!  Using my Michael’s coupons wisely I was able to recreate this project for less than $10 and have cardstock and the die cut to use for future projects.  Stay tuned for the rest!

photo courtesy of skip to my lou

I've had this project saved in my "files", just waiting for the perfect time to share it with you. The time is now! I spotted this DIY project over at Skip To My Lou and I think it's really fun.  With some oil cloth and a sewing machine you can create some really bright, fun and useful book covers.  You could make textbook covers or you could create journal covers or a Bible cover or even a magazine-folder.  Add a bigger pocket if you need to stash bigger items or leave the pocket off for an even quicker project.  And if you are one of my 15 sisters, don't be surprised if you get one some Christmas or birthday....

Here's the link to the instructions from Skip To My Lou,  go make something pretty!

Just like trends in clothing, there are trends within the DIY crowd. One particular trend I am intrigued by right now is the repurposing of wooden crates. Wooden crates are not expensive, easy to find and apparently very versatile. They already have that worn-in-charm and the color of the wood is aged and rustic. Besides the adorable little bench above, check out some of the DIY projects I've found:

What a fun way to plant a garden?!

If you are looking for something economical for the patio, how about a table made out of palettes?

How about a funky headboard?

A wooden accent wall made out of palettes would be fun for a bonus room; or on an outside wall as a photography backdrop.

I really like the rustic look of this storage/bench area! I love the color of the wood.

Pretty clever, huh? Wooden palettes, who would have thought....