Teen Bedroom Update // $100 Room Challenge

We have a new house and so many projects on the list to make it our own! The $100 Room Challenge couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I’m excited to see just how much we can do with that $100 budget and the month-long timeframe for our Teen Bedroom Update.

The month of August was a whirlwind. We moved into our new house three weeks ago and tried to get settled in as quickly as possible. School started and all has been going fairly smoothly there. And all of the other things that are part of regular life carry on all around it – work, cleaning the house, kids’ activities, and so much more. Life has a lot of moving parts right now.


That doesn’t stop the urge to start making this new house our own. I have SO many plans and ideas. Simply repainting everything is going to take weeks, especially while trying to fit it in among the everyday stuff. That’s not a deterrent, just a consideration. ūüėČ The motivation and the enthusiasm leave no real room for overwhelm. Besides, the only one setting a timeline on any of this is me.

I may not be able to do everything, but I can do anything I choose to do.

$100 Room Challenge

As luck would have it, September brings with it the $100 Room Challenge. I’ve participated in the challenge a couple of times before, taking one room in the house and updating it in a single month with a $100 budget. It’s a lot of fun working on a project “with” so many other people and I always look forward to seeing all of the different styles and directions everyone takes with the project. And with a brand new house to work with and so many plans already on the agenda, it really is perfect timing.

I spent a couple of weeks letting the ideas roll around in my head, trying to decide which room I want to start on first.

-The living room is the most-used room and the one any visitors will see. But we are buying new furniture and that certainly won’t fit the $100 budget.

-The laundry room seems do-able. I have ideas for a wall treatment I want to try and I could probably stay under budget by finding a cabinet at the ReStore instead of buying a new one. But it hardly seems like a room that should take first priority.

-I know what I want to do with a mud room style area in the garage and the stairs leading into the house. I think we have enough supplies left over from installing the shelves in the garage to get it all done on a small budget. But the projects would require the husband’s help and he doesn’t have a lot of free time this month.

-The family space downstairs has so much potential. It includes a media room with a kitchenette (actually, it’s larger than the main kitchen) and a bonus area we don’t quite know what to do with yet. The rooms are full of possibilities. It’s such a large space, I considered taking a different track with the project and seeing exactly how far I could get with the $100 budget, knowing none of the rooms would truly be finished at the end of the project.

The room I chose is…

Kaitlyn’s bedroom!

Yep, I’m doing a Teen Bedroom Update for the $100 Room Challenge.

My daughter is just as excited as I am to make the house our own. Kaitlyn is almost 17 and takes after her mom in so many ways. It’s no surprise that she has ideas for her bedroom and would love to tackle it as soon as possible. She was right there with me, grabbing handfuls of paint samples at Home Depot the weekend we moved into the house. ūüėú

Teen Bedroom Update // Before Photos

Before I put on my paint clothes and get to work, let me show you the room!

We’re working with a pretty blank canvas here. The walls are kind of a cream color, leaning toward yellow, and the ceilings are the same color. The color is definitely not my favorite.

Kaitlyn’s bedroom is the smallest of the four bedrooms in the house. The closet is small as well. (The closet would be the door on the left.)

The bedroom has its own attached bathroom (the door in the center), which just happens to have the best shower in the house – so that more than makes up for the smaller bedroom. Her room is also the only bedroom on the lower level, so that holds a lot of appeal for a teenager.

That space in the corner behind the door is kind of awkward. We’re still working on a plan for that area.

The house is also very brown. Kaitlyn’s room is in the basement, so we want to brighten it up with some color on the walls. The doors and trim will be going white.

As for the rest of the plans for the room, I’ll tell you about those as we go forward with the project. Spoiler alert – the bedroom update obviously involves a lot of paint, but considering our schedule for this week, I don’t think we’ll tackle painting the room just yet!

I’m excited to see which rooms the other $100 Room Challenge participants have chosen! You can check them out here:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

I’ll be back next Wednesday with a progress report on the Teen Bedroom Update – stay tuned!

Getting Back to Blogging

Hello! Hi! How are ‘ya?!

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post.

That didn’t really happen on purpose. Life gets in the way and other things take priority. I’m sure you’d all nod along with me if I start listing the reasons and the ways in which that happened – life is busy and full and Moms just can’t do everything! ūüėČ

So here I sit at 4:11 AM (yes, you read that right. The husband just left for work and I can’t get back to sleep. Though it wouldn’t be unusual for me to be awake at this time of the morning…but that’s a whole other blog post!), for the second morning in a row, thinking about how many things I’d love to blog about.

So I’m just going to take that leap.

For a while there, I not only thought about, but really did put some time and effort into blogging. It wasn’t enough to turn it into a “job” but I was working on heading that direction. But…

Oh so many “buts.” The reality is that eventually the list of things I wanted to blog about far outweighed the time and energy I had to devote to it. And the more I learned about SEO, and Alt Text, and the best images for Pinterest, the longer it took to write a single blog post. When it came time to renew my blog hosting, I simply let it lapse. And despite twinges about letting it go and all of the content disappearing, it just didn’t make sense to pursue something that, in that time and place, wasn’t a priority. It didn’t even make it on the Top 10 list.

That was somewhere around the beginning of the year, and over the months, the urge to blog would appear here and there – especially when I would see people repinning (on Pinterest) my blog posts that were no longer attached to actual content! That is where I found myself again yesterday morning, thinking that “eventually” I would…

Well, that I would do all kinds of things. Because frankly, early mornings like that are when you can often find my brain whirling with ideas.

I ran across a concept months ago about how we all get so much INPUT every day, consuming social media, and emails, and podcasts, and reading books, and interacting with people, and so on. About how easy it is to let that be how we live life, with all of that coming into our heads, especially as the first thing we would do every day. And instead, it was suggested that starting the day with OUTPUT, like writing or journaling first thing in the morning, might be a better option.

That made SO much sense to me, and although I’ve never considered myself a writer, my life right now does involve a lot of writing, I also read a few books on writing and found one of the consistent suggestions was having a dedicated time and place to write. So, at some point, I decided that all that quiet, empty time early in the morning, when the house was dark and I couldn’t do anything “productive” would be a good time to write (stuff for work, journaling, scrapbooking, etc – not specifically blog posts).

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually followed through with that goal, but in my head, it still remains something I want to do.

Then the A-ha moment yesterday. Blogging doesn’t HAVE to be done any certain way. I don’t have to either post consistently or not at all. I don’t have to pursue putting it out there or getting more followers, if I don’t want to. I can simply take it back to what I spent years doing as a hobby – sharing things when I felt the urge to do so. And I don’t have to rein in the rambling, if I don’t want to ūüėČ

All of that to say, I’m reviving the blog here – on a free, “unprofessional” site! – and I’m just going to let it be what it wants to be.

So, let me give you a picture of what life looks like right now for me.

We are in a season of so many transitions right now. My kids are both teenagers and I’m actually loving these ages. They have their ups and downs and I’m learning a lot. (and feeling the urge to share some of that insight – so you’ll probably see some blog posts about that)

We just moved into a new house. In fact, it was three weeks ago yesterday. The whole process was both something we had been thinking about for a while, and also an unexpected, crazy-fast whirlwind once things got started (and not without its hurdles – you’ll probably see some blog posts about that).

We unpacked pretty quickly and are mostly settled in. Those that know me well will already be predicting that I have a mile-long list of projects and ideas for the house. (You’ll definitely see some blog posts about that!)

We walked through some really interesting houses…
(seriously, doesn’t everyone need a pink and purple claw foot tub?!)

We moved back to our home town about 6 years ago (wow, time flies!), with the intention to build our dream house on the family farm. That still hasn’t happened (it’s on the list!), but we did end up buying a Fixer Upper and doing SO much work to make it our own. (I would love to share about that – you’ll probably see some blog posts) But, the house was pretty small, and we wanted a little space to spread out. In my head, I just figured we would probably end up with another Fixer Upper and have to put in the work again. The housing market here is crazy though. Almost anything that goes up for sale is snapped up in no time and you never know what will be available at any point. We walked through some really interesting houses with huge potential (and needing SO much work!). The house we purchased is actually NOT a Fixer Upper, which is kind of a relief. As I’ve already mentioned though – I have SO many ideas for making it more functional for our lives, more our style and taste, etc, etc.

I may not be pursuing my own blog as a career right now, but I do maintain websites/blog/social media for a couple of people. I have also been dipping my toes back in the Interior Design world. It’s interesting how things come around again. I went to school for Interior Design and did that for a few years before I decided to be a full time stay-at-home-mom when my youngest was born. Now, I semi-regularly help out a long-time friend (and college roommate!) with her design business. All of these pursuits are kind of evolving as we go along, and I’m getting a lot of practice at letting life flow, taking things one step at a time, prioritizing different things on different days…

As I said – transitions.

It also happens to be the end of August and I can see Fall on the horizon. The kids are back in school and that is going to be an exercise in flexibility and changes on all our parts. With the restrictions and considerations of the pandemic, things work differently for school and sports and all the things. We’re all figuring it out as we go.

I think that can be said for everything in life right now. I’m just figuring it out as I go.

Last Minute Halloween Prep

fall-sunrise-alaynascreationsLife can get crazy-busy very quickly and it is so very easy to let it take us for a ride – which is exactly what has happened to me in the two months or so since my husband got home from deployment. ¬†First, we spent a few weeks all wrapped up in enjoying having him home and doing all of the family stuff still on our bucket list. ¬†Then we jumped into a massive remodel of my parents’ kitchen (so many blog posts to write!) before the husband had to return to his civilian job. ¬†Plus, school started before that project was completed and we have all been doing our best to get back into the normal routine of work/school/extra-curricular activities.

And now?  Now we are knee-deep in October which is Birthday Month around here (7+ birthdays to celebrate Рmore on that soon!) and I suspect things are going to keep moving just as quickly.

Which brings me to today’s project, or rather yesterday’s project – my son’s class party for Halloween. ¬†His teacher has developed her own traditions and one of them is performing a Mad Scientist show for other classes in the school. ¬†I’ve known about this for weeks – after all, I’m the Room Mom this year and my job was to organize the parent helpers and donations to provide lunch for the class in the middle of their busy day of Mad Scientist shows. ¬†So it really shouldn’t have been a surprise when my 9-year-old came home the night before the party talking about turning a shirt into a lab coat.

I guess I had just figured that a pair of safety goggles and some crazy hair would be a “good enough” costume (and really that would have been fine) but my little guy wanted something a bit more.


(ah boys – he was dead convinced that Mad Scientists don’t smile and I couldn’t manage to get him to pose any other way)

An old shirt and a Sharpie saved the day.  In less than 5 minutes (and $0!) we were able to transform a shirt he no longer wanted to wear into a lab coat by simply drawing a few lines on it with a marker.


It turned out cute, he was pretty excited about it  Рand after seeing all the other kids, some with full wigs and everything, I was glad we put in the little bit of extra effort.

Tyler received plenty of compliments on his costume and it had me wondering…I bet that’s not the only costume that could be pulled together in a pinch with just a shirt and a Sharpie. ¬†Any ideas for other options?!


April Showers Bring May Flowers – Spring Tulip Wreath Tutorial


That clich√© about April Showers? ¬†Yeah – totally true to form this year. ¬†We have had a very wet April and just come off more than a week straight of rain and snow (sometimes both in the same day!) and today’s wonderful sunny weather has been such a welcome change. ¬†Hello May.

Spring is my favorite season from the slightly warmer weather and everything starting to turn green and grow to that uncontrollable urge to freshen things up. ¬†Around here Spring Fever has turned into what I am now officially terming Spring DIY Fever. ¬†Forget the Spring Cleaning, over the last few weeks I have been systematically giving my parents’ house an update. ¬†Painting walls, patching holes, even minor electrical fixes – all by my little self! ¬†As of last week I have completely repainted all of the rooms in the basement and have moved on to the upstairs bathroom this week. ¬†(Tons and tons of blog post fodder there – bet you can’t wait!)

April Showers Bring May Flowers Tutorial for Spring Tulip Wreath
In among all of that I have missed working on some smaller craft projects so I took some time out from the DIY and whipped up a knock of version of the Spring Tulip Wreath my mom has been eyeing at Pier 1.  Or does that count as DIY too?  Either way, I did it and am happy to share not only the wreath but also a quick tutorial for the wreath to Рjust for you!  And did I mention it costs less than $20?

Make your own spring tulip wreath similar to Pier 1 for under $20 AlaynasCreations

First item of business was of course, to acquire copious amount of tulips in shades of pink and white. ¬†The cost for silk flowers can add up really quickly so I hit up the dollar store. ¬†They actually have pretty decent flowers for $1 a bunch, but selection can vary quite a bit. ¬†The store only had 2-3 bunches of tulips so I picked up the most tulip-looking bunches of roses I could find too. ¬†The cashier thought he should point out that Valentines Day was long over – guess he doesn’t run into crafty wreath makers like us often enough ūüėČ

Materials needed:  1 grapevine wreath frame from the craft storeand 10-15 bunches of flowers.  At $4 for the grapevine wreath base and $1 per bunch of flowers that puts your total cost under $20 Рas promised!

Spring Tulip Wreath altered dollar store silk flowers alaynascreations

Once I sat down to work with the flowers I decided the roses could use a little tweaking to look even more tulip-like so I removed some of the interior petals, cut off that spiky green stuff around the base of the flower and removed the leaves.  Not bad for a quick fix, eh?

Tutorial How to Make a Spring Tulip Wreath like Pier One for Under $20
Step two:  grab a grapevine wreath form, heat up your glue gun and start layering the flowers onto the wreath form.  I just picked a place to start and worked my way around the circle, making sure to vary the colors and flowers for a random effect.  I removed the leaves from the tulips, but I do like the look of the greenery in among the flowers so I kept the rest of the leaves on the tulips and added in some grassy pieces that had been in some of the flower bunches.

Pretty soon the wreath looked like this:
Making your own Spring Tulip Wreath is easy and inexpensive using this tutorial AlaynasCreations

Spring Tulip Wreath Tutorial is quick and easy and inexpensive AlaynasCreations

Pretty. ¬†I might have to make one for myself next year. ¬†I just might…

Oh and in case you haven’t thought about it – this would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift, wouldn’t it? ¬†That’s coming up in less than a week – can you believe it?!

As always, if you create your own wreath I would love to hear about it and see photos. ¬†Comments always welcome ūüėČ


Easy Christmas Gifts for Teachers and Classmates – AND a Giveaway!

Easy Christmas Gifts for Teachers and Classmates with a little help from my Silhouette

15 days ’til Christmas! And yes the title DID say GIVEAWAY! Keep reading ’til the end to not only see what my Silhouette Challenge buddies and I have been up to, but to get a chance to win some Silhouette goodies of your own! (Giveaway is now closed)

I have spent a lot of my free time the last week or so writing lists, double checking lists, running errands and shopping, and rewriting lists…that’s how the holiday season goes, right? ¬†When December hit I was feeling pretty behind on things but the more I cross off the list the better I feel and the more excited I get for Christmas.
This year my son’s classroom is doing the 12 Days of Christmas, so each of the children are assigned a specific day to bring in their classroom gifts and my son was assigned one of the first of the twelve days. ¬†It just happened to be the day before his birthday and I was neck deep in party prep, so I knew that I needed something that didn’t require a lot of time or effort to put together. ¬†But fankly, it’s me and we all know that even when I want things simple and inexpensive I also strive for a bit of creativity and cuteness.

Easy Classmate Gift idea that even the kids can do themselves
It took a bit of thought, but I finally settled on snack-size bags of microwave popcorn.  My kids are HUGE popcorn fans (and kept trying to steal the bags while we were assembling the gifts!) and I figure the popcorn is a nice change from the typical candy canes and Christmas pencils my kids usually bring home.  And dressing them up was a snap Рwith a little help from my Silhouette (die cutting) machine and my kiddos.
Quick and Easy Christmas Gift for Classmates using microwave popcorn and construction paper
So there is a look at the supplies I used for decorating the popcorn bags.  We dressed half the bags up as reindeer and half as Santa.  This is the point to which I prepped the supplies before enlisting the help of the munchkins.
snack-size microwave popcorn
preprinted adhesive labels: ¬†Mine say “Here’s to a Merry Christmas and a Poppin’ New Year, Love, Tyler” and are printed onto a sheet of Avery address labels. ¬†You could substitute any kind of tag you want to use.
googly eyes
construction paper:
-brown for the reindeer and red for Santa, cut into strips (construction paper is 9″ x 12″ and I found that cutting it into three 4″ wide strips was a perfect fit)
-also a piece of black paper cut into 1/2″ wide strips (by 9″ long)
Santa belts made out of construction paper using the silhouette machine
-white paper cut into squares (1″ x 1″) with two cut lines in the center for Santa’s belt. ¬†I used the Silhouette to do this and it saved a lot of quality time spent with an Xacto knife, but that’s certainly an option. ¬†I was planning to have the kids thread them onto the black “belts” but quickly found that I had cut them to fit pretty tightly and my 8 year old was likely to tear half of them trying to put them on so I did it myself. ¬†So when cutting yours out you may want the cuts to be a full 5/8″ to allow the 1/2″ black pieces to slide through more easily.
Reindeer Antlers for Christmas projects cut with the Silhouette Machine
-dark brown paper (I used cardstock as I’ve found the thicker texture cuts better for projects like this) cut into cute little reindeer antlers. ¬†These are approx 2 1/2″ high. ¬†I’m sure you can find a cut file somewhere but I decided to create my own using some antler clip art (just google it) and the trace feature in the Silhouette studio. ¬†You could also just hand-cut them, though I was happy to not have to do that particular step.
-oh! ¬†And don’t forget some red circles for the reindeer noses!
Cute and Easy Classmate Christmas Gifts the kids can assemble themselves
Assembly went pretty quickly and the kids were easily able to do it all themselves. ¬†They just wrapped the larger strips of paper around the popcorn bags and secured it on the back with tape (I had them tape one side directly to the bags so they wouldn’t slide out of the wrappers), then added the embellishments and stuck the address label “tags” on the back.
Assembling these cute classmate Christmas gifts is so easy even the kids can do it
We made sure to attach the antlers to the back of the brown strips before wrapping them around the popcorn bags for the reindeer, but other than that the assembly is much the same. ¬†Add the google eyes (we used glue dots for that), the noses, and the sticky “tag” on back and you’re done!
Santa and Reindeer Decorated Popcorn Bags make a great Christmas gift for classmates or neighbors
Mini bags of microwave popcorn dressed up like Sant and Reindeer make great Christmas gifts

While I was at it, I put together the gifts for the kids’ teachers as well. ¬†I found these adorable mason jar shaped drinking cups on clearance at the craft store after Thanksgiving and knew I just had to do something with them for Christmas.
Mason Jar cups filled with school supplies and hot chocolate mix make a great Christmas gift for teachers

I rounded up some red and green colored Sharpies, green post-its and some great hot chocolate mix (looking at the photo I’m wondering why oh why I didn’t get a few extra so I could try out the toasted marshmallow flavor?!) to put inside the cup. ¬†¬†And I wanted a bit of customization (when in doubt – customize, right?!) so I fired up the Silhouette machine again and did some cute labels using the teacher’s names.
Decorative Teacher Name Labels cut with my Silhouette machine to dress up Christmas Gift

Embellished mason jar mug for teacher Christmas gift using vinyol and Silhouette machine

Mason Jar Gift for Teachers Christmas or Teacher Appreciation Gift in a Cup

Done deal!  The kids are now all set for Christmas festivities at school, which is great since we are down to only ONE more week before Christmas vacation!  (oh boy!)

Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration!

Easy Glitter Snowflake Ornament Ornament Surprise Box Merry & Bright Christmas Stocking Gift Card Holder Holiday Projects with Heat Transfer Vinyl Christmas Tree Card Display Easy DIY Hello Kitty Ornaments Fa la la Christmas Shirt Make Printed Holiday Tea Towels Christmas Tree Countdown: December Silhouette Challenge Modern Advent Calendar 'All is Calm, All is Bright' Canvas Sign Tutorial DIY Faux Aged Copper Snowflake Ornaments from a Cereal Box! Sew Easy Pillow Covers Easy Gold Striped Monogram Ornament Monthly Dry Erase Planner Handmade Christmas Tags Cactus Gift + Printable Buffalo Plaid Gift Tags Coffee Mug Gift for the Star Wars Geek Hot Chocolate Stirring Spoons & Gift Tags Cut File Merry and Bright Christmas Pillow Damask Reindeer Print Ikea Star Ornament DIY Etched Nativity Ornament Fa La La La Pillow {Tutorial} DIY Split Monogram Pillow Fun Holiday Gift Tags - Free Print and Cut Etched in Glass DIY Easy Red and White Christmas Pillows 3 Easy Ways to Create Christmas Baby Onesies with HTV Easy Christmas Gifts for Teachers and Classmates

1. Beauty in the Mess // 2. JustTyra // 3. Dream a Little Bigger // 4. Simply Kelly Designs // 5. The Stamp Doc // 6. From Wine to Whine // 7. TheKimSixFix // 8. unOriginal Mom // 9. HaberdasheryFun // 10. Tastefully Frugal // 11. Sisters, What! // 12. Small Stuff Counts // 13. Where The Smiles Have Been // 14. Whatcha Workin’ On? // 15. Designed Decor // 16. Architecture of a Mom // 17. Decor Adventures // 18. Create & Babble // 19. Tori Grant Designs // 20. Tried & True // 21. The Thinking Closet // 22. Creative Ramblings // 23. Get Silvered // 24. McCall Manor // 25. Cutesy Crafts // 26. Ginger Snap Crafts // 27. My Favorite Finds // 28. Cupcakes&Crowbars // 29. Pineapples & Pinecones // 30. The Crafting Nook // 31. It Happens in a Blink // 32. Alayna’s Creations

Silhouette Giveaway


And I‚Äôve saved the best for last. ¬†My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I in partnership with Silhouette America are hosting a mega-huge giveaway …. Giveaway is now CLOSED.

Avengers Birthday Party Invitation – with Tutorial for Miniature File Folders

Avengers Birthday Party Invitation Tutorial

We now interrupt our scheduled holiday programming…
That’s kind of how it feels to have a son with a birthday in December. ¬†My brain is set to be all gung-ho with Christmas but I have to back off and plan a party instead. ¬†Not that I want my little guy to feel like his birthday gets rushed or glossed over in any way – I try hard for that not to happen. ¬†So of course he got exactly what he wanted for his birthday – an Avengers Superhero Training party. ¬†It was actually a lot of fun to plan and fairly easy to execute. ¬†I will share all the details soon, but thought I’d start out with the invitation.

As with all parties lately, I started with a Pinterest Board for inspiration and went from there.  Tyler really liked the one with the Top Secret file folder and though I tried to convince him a manila envelope would work just as well, I ended up figuring out how to make mini-sized file folders for his invites.
How to Make your Own Mini  Top Secret File Folder for Avengers Birthday Party Invitation
Easy enough – I simply cut down some file folders I already had on hand, making sure to leave a tab on one side then completing the look by rounding off the corners. ¬†The overall size is 9″ high by 6 1/2″ wide (cut down to 6″ except for where I wanted the tab) because I wanted them to fit a half-sheet of paper but these would look absolutely adorable in a smaller size as well.

Iron Man Dress Up Photo for Avengers Birthday Party Invitation
I knew I wanted to use a photo of Tyler in his Iron Man costume from Halloween for the inserts. ¬†Cute right? ¬†He’s quite a ham when he wants to be.
The rest of the inserts came together pretty easily with all the party details and a bit of clever wording. ¬†I wanted it to look like a “report” you might find inside a Top Secret folder, right? ¬†Then I simply printed them off two to a page.

Super Hero Training Birthday Party Invitation Iron Man

The fonts used are Bernard MT Condensed and Baskerville Old Face.  The Avenger logo is simply clip art I found online.  And the fun Avengers clip art along the bottom was part of a printable pack I found HERE and turned to black and white in Photoshop.  The printables are great РI used them again for a lot of the party supplies as well.

My 12 year old helped me assemble the invitations by stamping Top Secret on top of the folders and attaching the inserts inside the folders with paper clips (I didn’t want them to fall out!)
Avengers Birthday Party Invitation with Top Secret Mini File Folder TutorialMini File Folders for Avengers Birthday Party Top Secret Invitation
Tyler was happy and the whole thing probably took me an hour, tops, to pull together.  Total win!
Now you’re excited to see the rest of the party details, right?! ¬†I’ll share them soon – promise! ¬†The kids had a blast and, like most of my parties, it was simple and inexpensive to put together. Stay tuned…

Linking to:  Tip Me Tuesday, Made By You Monday, Learning from Each Other, Pretty Pintastic Party, BFF Open House,

Elf Antics – 7 Top Tips for Hosting Your Elf on the Shelf

7 Top Tips for Hosting Your Elf on the Shelf

Have we hit the week of Thanksgiving already?! ¬†Yikes. ¬†It’s really time to start getting serious about prepping for Christmas isn’t it? ¬†Since I’ve been jotting down gift ideas as I go the last few weeks, what is actually topping my list of Things To Do for Christmas is make up my Elf List for the year.
Are you in on the Elf on the Shelf trend? ¬†I actually ran across the idea a year or two before they made the official kits and everything (awesome right? ¬†I’m a trend-setter! ha!) and we have had elves visit our house every December since then. ¬†I’ve found it to be a fun tradition and one the kids really look forward to but I also know that it’s a lot of work and I have found myself popping awake at 5AM thinking “oh no! ¬†I didn’t move the elves!” ¬†Thus the Elf List. ¬†I collect elf ideas whenever I run across them (yes even in July!) so I have quite a few on my Elf Pinterest Board – feel free to check them out if you need inspiration.
Elf on the Shelf Ideas Our elves decided to help feed the dog using the toy backhoe

December is a chaotic time of the year with a lot of time spent trying to simplify without missing out on the magic of the season.  Over the years I have developed a few tricks to make this Elf thing as easy as possible and thought I would share them with you.
1. ¬†Plan ahead. ¬†Collect ideas then make a list. ¬†I usually sit down a couple weeks before December starts with a paper numbered 1 through 24 and a calendar. ¬†Then I pencil in things I KNOW I want the elves to do on specific days. ¬†Our elves arrive on the first of December, always with a Hello letter and a few new stamps on their passports. ¬†The 24th is also a given as they need to bid the kiddos good-bye for the year. ¬†My son’s birthday is on the 5th so I always plan something related to that on that day.
Life is changeable so while I do schedule certain days, I don’t schedule something on all of them. ¬†I make a secondary list at the bottom of my paper with quick and easy ideas if I need to change something at the last minute.
2. ¬†Set a reminder on your phone. ¬†You DO NOT want to be scrambling to move the elves at 3AM when you wake up and remember you didn’t do it before you went to bed, or to have to try to come up with a reason they didn’t move when the kids discover it in the morning. ¬†So set that alarm on your phone and never forget the elves again. ¬†I usually set mine for about half an hour after we put the kids to bed so they have enough time to fall asleep but it’s still early enough that I am not too tired to make the effort.
3. ¬†Enlist help. ¬†Sometimes it’s as simple as telling the husband it’s his turn to move the elves. ¬†Or it could be that you have a friend that also has elves at their house and you coordinate a night or two with them. ¬†A couple years ago our elves had a Skype session with their friends at a neighbor’s house – we simply did a screen shot of them on Skype and emailed it to each other then it was a simple matter to put the photo on the screen and set the elves up in front of it.
And never underestimate the power of a brainstorming session with someone. ¬†If you don’t have a buddy doing Elf on the Shelf I do have a Facebook group set up for exchanging ideas.
4.  Free printables.  Love them!  Elf on the Shelf is very popular and there are so many great blogs out there with ideas and even some with printables.  I used THIS one and THIS one last year and am figuring out how to incorporate THESE this year.
5. ¬†Buy things when you see them.¬† I always try to have a couple of things on hand that the elves can “give” the kids – a mini Christmas tree, a tiny craft kit, a puzzle, a new game. ¬†This is one of those cases where the fact that the stores start setting out Christmas stuff before Halloween works in our favor. ¬†I have found it’s easier to run across something cool and fun than to get an idea and then try to head out searching for it. ¬†So hit that dollar section in Target or the craft store or the dollar store itself and grab a couple of items.
Elf on the Shelf Ideas the elves took selfies on the kids tablet and used them as the new background on the desktop
6. ¬†Work with what you have. ¬†Our houses are stuffed with inspiration, we just have to be open to it. ¬†And the kids get a bigger kick out of personal things. ¬†So grab your daughter’s favorite doll and let the elf have a tea party. ¬†Pull out the Lego sets and have the elf build a Lego christmas tree. ¬†Have a pair of hand weights gathering dust in the closet? ¬†Maybe the elves need a workout.
7.  HAVE FUN!  This is supposed to be an enjoyable thing for you and your family so allow yourself to get carried away with it.

All right, everyone even more enthused for their elf visits this year?  I know I am!  I will be using the rest of this week to post some of my Elf Antics from Christmases past and will like those posts here soon!  In the meantime, do you have some favorite Elf ideas you would like to share?!

Linking to:  Tip Me Tuesday, Lou Lou Girls,

Cupcake Ruffled Apron – Easy Sewing Tutorial

Ruffled Cupcake Apron for Cupcake Wars Birthday Party Easy sewing tutorial

Phew! ¬†Birthday month is over and what a busy, fun October is was! ¬†But before I put it completely behind me and dive headfirst into all things Christmas I wanted to share a little bit more about how we made these adorable Cupcake Ruffled Aprons for Kaitlyn’s Cupcake Wars Birthday Party (which was a total blast! ¬†You can check out the rest of the party details HERE).

Easy sewing tutorial for ruffled cupcake aprons All you need is an inexpensive apron from the craft store and some fabric for embellishment

We started off with an inexpensive white apron from the craft store.  This not only made the whole sewing process easier and faster, but with a 40% off coupon on a pack of three it was probably less expensive than buying the fabric and sewing it ourselves.  Then I took my time wandering around the fabric section and selected some fabric that went with our party theme and colors.  I ended up with a yard of the striped fabric and 1/2 yard of the other four fabrics.  This was more than enough fabric for all four aprons.  If you are only sewing one apron you would need 1/4 to 1/3 yard in each of three different fabrics.

Sewing Tutorial for semi homemade ruffled apron for Cupcake Wars Birthday Party ruffle detail

Isn’t the glitter in the fabric pretty? ¬†I thought it was perfect for preteen girly girls.

On to the sewing process! ¬†We decided that 4″ was a good length for the ruffles so I cut the fabric into strips 4 1/2″ wide, three strips per apron (one of each color). ¬†One strip turned out to be the perfect length to go across the apron when ruffled so no piecing was needed for that. ¬†I simply ironed the bottom of each strip 1/4″ for the hem, turned it another 1/4″ and ironed it again, then gave it to Kaitlyn who sewed the hems herself. ¬†(Did I mention she is 12? ¬†She loves this crafting stuff) ¬†We did the same method for hemming the edges of each strip and since the top of each ruffle wasn’t going to be seen we simply zig zagged along the top edge of each fabric strip. ¬†Once all the edges were taking care of, we sewed on a couple of gathering threads along the top of each strip (about 1/2″ down from the top) and gathered the fabric.
In order to sew the ruffles on straight, I drew a line with a pencil 3 1/2″ from the bottom of the apron, a second line 3 1/2″ above the first, and the third line 3 1/2″ above the second line. ¬†This allows the ruffles to overlap each other. ¬†Experiment a little bit with yours to make sure that the spacing allows enough overlap so that your upper edge with the gathering threads is fully covered.
The guide lines need to be drawn on both the front and the back of the apron.  You use the lines on the front of the apron when you are pinning the ruffles on to keep it straight.  We found that it was easier to sew the ruffles on with the BACK of the apron on top as it goes through the machine, which is why you need to draw a second set of lines on the back of the apron.
Start with the bottom ruffle and pin it on the apron (keeping the pins pretty close together so the ruffles won’t move) then sew it on. ¬†Repeat with the second and third ruffles.

Embellished apron for Cupcake Wars Birthday Party sewing tutorial waistband detail

In order to cover up the top of the final ruffle, we decided to add another strip of fabric as a sort of belt or waistline. ¬†So, cut a strip out of one of your fabrics – 2″ high, by the width of your apron (plus 1/2″ for hem allowances). ¬†I folded over the sides 1/4″ (this gives you a nice clean edge on both sides without hemming) and ironed it down. ¬†I also ironed a 1/4″ hem along one side of the fabric strip (let’s call it the top). ¬†Using the second (unironed) side of the fabric strip, we sewed it up-side down on top of the top ruffle. ¬†This allowed us to then fold it over, right-side-up, along the seam and iron it flat. ¬†It is then a simple matter to top-stich along all four sides of the fabric strip to form your belt.

Ruffled Cupcake Apron detail photo of ruffles added to inexpensive craft store apron easy DIY sewing tutorial

The final touch was the cupcake applique. ¬†Kaitlyn did the entire applique herself, so trust me it’s easy (as long as you get the fusing on the correct BACK side of the fabric). ¬†We just printed off some cupcake clip art to use as a pattern and traced the outline of it onto the backing of the Iron-On Adhesive (we used an adhesive product similar to THIS). ¬†If you are unfamiliar with the use of iron-on adhesives, they are pretty easy to use. ¬†You just iron the adhesive onto the back of your fabric (holding the iron on for the number of seconds specified in the directions), peel off the backing paper, then iron your applique directly onto your project. ¬†The key to this process is that after you trace your stencil onto the backing paper, roughly cut around it leaving just a little space outside the lines of your stencil. ¬†Once you iron the adhesive to your applique fabric, cut along the lines of the stencil before removing the backing paper. ¬†This gives you a cleaner line along the edges of the stencil than trying to cut the fabric to match the shape of your adhesive. ¬†As you can see, we cut two different pieces for the applique using one fabric for the top of the cupcake and another fabric for the bottom. ¬†Then just placed them on the apron and ironed both pieces on at once.
Finish it all off by top-stitching around the edges of the applique.

Cupcake Applique for ruffled apron Party favor for Cupcake Wars Birthday Party

Then have your adorable, newly-minted 12 year old proudly model her creation! ūüėČ

Cupcake Ruffled Apron party favor for Cupcake Wars Birthday Party easy sewing tutorial

Cupcake Wars Birthday Party Aprons were made specially for the party with ruffles in colors and patterns that coordinated with the party theme The birthday girl helped do a lot of the sewing herself

And there are the happy bakers at Kaitlyn’s Cupcake Wars Birthday Party.

Ruffled Cupcake Apron for Cupcake Wars Birthday Party Easy sewing tutorial DIY

As always, if you are inspired by this project and use it to create something of your own I would LOVE to hear about it!  (and see photos!)

Linking to:  Tip Me Tuesday, Learning From Each Other, Made By You Monday, Merry Monday, Snickerdoodle Sunday,

Halloween Monsters – A Quick and Easy DIY Project

Easy 2x4 Halloween Monsters Tutorial for DIY Wooden Halloween Craft featureing Frankenstein Witch Pumpkin and Mummy

Hello Monday! ¬†Is everyone having a good day? ¬†Usually Monday is a pretty good day for me, at least where motivation and productivity are concerned. ¬†I think I get more done on Mondays than I do any other day of the week – and twice as much as I accomplish on Fridays ūüėČ ¬†But. ¬†Today wasn’t one of those days. ¬†In fact, I felt like I spent the entire day dealing with not-so-pleasant things and not much time at all on the glorius Monday To-Do List. ¬†My little guy developed a fever yesterday and and I kept him home from school where he has been fighting the fever and watching Justice League cartoons. ¬†The big truck that was scheduled to pick up the calves that my dad is selling this year moved up the timetable three hours and I was the only one home that could go out and help him round them up, and trust me – he wasn’t exactly in a good mood about it. ¬†Plus other problems I really just don’t even want to think about right now. ¬†So in an effort to raise my spirits a little before I meet a friend at the gym and work off some of my frustrations I decided to blog. ¬†Aren’t you lucky? ūüėČ

That leaves the question – what to blog about? ¬†I’m in full-on birthday party prep mode over here, with my daughter’s fun Cupcake Wars party starting in T-minus two days and while I will have plenty to blog about the party on Thursday, none are ready to blog right now. ¬†Pinterest and the blogosphere are still flooded with Halloween ideas and the post getting the most hits on my old blog this week, last week, and probably the week before is another of my Fall craft days…so I’d better share it here, right?!

Here we go – a simple tutorial for quick and easy Halloween Monsters.

Fall Craft Supplies for 2x4 Wooden Monsters DIY

I believe I’ve mentioned that I love to turn crafting into a social event. ¬†In fact, it’s been a great excuse to get to know people better and I met some of my closest friends because one of them wanted to learn how to make a wreath. ¬†However, wreaths can quickly become more expensive projects and the supplies add up pretty fast, so wooden crafts are usually my go-to when I want to pull something together inexpensively. ¬†For this project all you need is a 2×4 and some craft paint and a couple of random things from around the house.

Supplies for Craft Day Halloween Decorations DIY Wooden Monsters and Witch

Like googly eyes and nuts and bolts

Vinyl Shapes for 2x4 Halloween Wood Craft

and a sheet of vinyl cut into to some geometric shapes.  I used my Silhouette machine but you could just as easily cut shapes with scissors or paint them on.

2x4 Wooden Crafts For Halloween Frankenstein and Mummy Easy DIY

For ‘ole Frank up there I painted the block green then added the hair and face with black paint. ¬†Add on some googly eyes and a couple of bolts and he’s all set.
The mummy block was painted a coat of white first then I wrapped it with strips of scrap white fabric, glueing it down as I went. ¬†If you tear the fabric strips instead of cutting them, it gives them a nice “aged” texture along the edge.

2x4 Wooden Crafts For Halloween Witch and Pumpkin Easy DIY

The witch hat is simply a piece of the 2×4 turned sideways, topped with another block of wood cut into a triangle. ¬†I used raffia for the hair but you could easily use straw or yarn. ¬†And Mr. Pumpkin over there is the easiest with a coat of orange paint, the vinyl shapes for the face, and a piece of green ribbon tied in a knot and glued on top for the stem/leaves.

*Quick tip:  you can use a number of adhesives like hot glue and craft glue but one of the best adhesives to use when trying to adhere anything to wood is wood glue.  It takes longer to dry, but holds really well.

DIY Wooden Halloween Decor Monsters using 2x4s includes tutorial

These guys liked to sit on my mantle or on the decorative ledge by my stairs and every time I passed them by I was reminded of the fun we all had the afternoon my friends and I got together to craft. ¬†That’s the bonus with DIY projects – they all have a story, don’t they?

In the mood for a little more Fall/Halloween crafting?  Check out some of my other creations.

Halloween Front Porch Decor includes pallet pumpkins deco mesh wreaths and swags and wicked witch wooden sign with broomstick Make the switch to Thanksgiving easy with double sided sign

Front porch decor, including a witch wreath and Boo swags, wooden pallet pumpkins, and the double-sided Halloween/Thanksgiving sign.

Double Sided Wood 2x4 Craft for Halloween and Thanksgiving Beware of LIttle Monsters Thanks for little blessings

Double-sided Halloween/Thanksgiving blocks.  This one was another fun Craft Day project.

DIY 2x4 Pumpkins Make your own wooden pumkins with this easy tutorial

2×4 Pumpkins (see? ¬†2x4s are one of my favorite craft supplies!)

Linking to:  R&R Wednesdays, Inspire Me Monday, Merry Monday Halloween Features, Made By You Monday,

Double Sided Fall Decorations For Halloween and Thanksgiving

If it weren’t for other people, I don’t know if I’d manage to work in time for “fun” crafting very often – especially right now when I seem to spend most of my days in the garage working on laundry drying racks or running kids to swim team practice or karate. ¬†However, I get pretty cranky when all I do is “work” so when I was asked to put together a craft for the women’s group at a local church (last year) I was pretty quick to agree. ¬†I love introducing people to one of my favorite hobbies!
Double Sided Wood 2x4 Craft for Halloween and Thanksgiving Beware of LIttle Monsters Thanks for little blessings
It didn’t take us long to decide on an easy (and hopefully quick!) 2×4 craft for Halloween and Thanksgiving – yes, it’s double-sided! ¬† ¬†The easier it is to change out holiday decor and the less space it takes up in storage, the better, right? ¬†The front side reads “BEWARE of little Monsters” and the back side says “THANKS for little Blessings.”
We ended up with almost 30 people signed up for the craft – Yay! ¬†I was told most of them have never done anything crafty so I¬†thought¬†extra hard about how to have it all go as smoothly and easily as possible. ¬†I ended up pulling together a kit for everyone and while I was at it I figured, hey, why not pull together a quick How To for the blog. ¬†I haven’t done one of those in a while.
Halloween Thanksgiving Double Sided Blocks Kit
In the kit they found the wooden blocks, vinyl lettering, patterned paper cut to size, a couple of pieces of ribbon (which I forgot to put in the photo!) and even a nice little reference sheet with step-by-step instructions. ¬†I took the extra time to type up the reference sheet because 1) a few of the people wouldn’t be able to make it to the craft session but still wanted to make the craft on their own and 2) with that many people they may not be able to have the example blocks right in front of them and I wanted them to at least have photos for reference and 3) some people learn better/retain things better if they can read it instead of just listening to a quick explanation.

*For those of you that are going to ask (and I know someone is going to ask!) here is a quick run through of the sizes for the wood pieces. ¬†You can use a 2×4 for all pieces (I got 2-3 sets out of one 2×4). ¬†Cut out two pieces 7 1/4″ high, two pieces 4 1/8″ high, and two pieces 3 1/2″ high. ¬†For the base block I cut it 14″ long then ran it through the table saw (or rather, my awesome husband did) so that it was 2″ high.

The rest of the process is pretty easy:
-paint all sides of all wooden pieces.  (Actually I would have preferred to stain them, but the stain has to dry overnight and it really messy so I figured paint was a much better option for craft day)  It will probably take two coats.
-cut your patterned paper slightly smaller than the size of the blocks.  Adhere patterned paper with Modge Podge or similar adhesive
-apply vinyl lettering
-apply another coat of Modge Podge over the top of everything, including the sides that are only painted (this keeps the finish consistantly glossy on all sides).  When I craft at home I also add a coat of poly which really helps protect everything, but as it takes longer to dry I skipped that part and was sure to tell them they could do that on their own later if they wanted to.
-when dry, attach ribbon embellishments using wood glue or a hot glue gun.

Told you it was easy! ūüėČ ¬†Now for the beauty shots.

Halloween Double Sided Craft Beware of Little Monsters with another saying on the back for Thanksgiving Made with wood 2x4 pieces and patterned scrapbook paper

 Halloween Wood 2x4 Craft Beware of Little Monsters Double Sided for Thanksgiving too
Beware Little Monsters Wood 2x4 Craft for Halloween Double Sided for Thanksgiving too
 Thanks for Blessings Wooden 2x4 Thanksgiving Craft
Thanksgiving Wood 2x4 Craft Thanks for Little Belssings Double Sided for Halloween too

Thanksgiving Craft Blocks Double Sided

The big craft day went great! ¬†Of course it took a little longer than the time we had planned, but everyone was enjoying it and that was fine. ¬†I spent my time wandering from table to table answering questions and getting to know everyone. ¬†Most of the women had been able to arrange child care but one baby was too little for that and I happily carried him around with me half the time so his Mom could have her hands free for crafting. I’m always happy to be the “extra hand” when I am crafting with friends that have little ones because I remember how hard that used to be when my kids were tiny. ¬†Now that my kids are older I know that if I don’t get my own craft finished before they get home it won’t be a big deal to finish it on my own – with or without their help! ūüėČ

Wow. ¬†I just realized how long it has been since I had a craft day with friends. ¬†Do you like to craft with friends? ¬†Has it been a while since you’ve done anything crafty? ¬†Maybe we should challenge ourselves¬†to make a couple of phone calls and get a craft day on our calendars!?!

Linking to:  Pretty Pintastic Party, Your Turn to Shine, A Little R&R Wednesday, Made By You Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Merry Monday, Sundays Down Under, Learning from each other link party, BFF Open House, Tip Me Tuesday,