Garden Work Station

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Wow! It is so hard to believe it has been two years since my last post! Luckily, even though I have been on hiatus, I haven’t stopped crafting, and I have lots of ideas stored up to share with you. Which brings me to todays post: a garden work station!

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A little disclaimer before I get started: I built this about a year and a half ago… the garden station has held up amazingly, but my memory… not so much. Some of the details on how I built this are a little fuzzy, but I’ll do my best to describe it as accurately as possible and warn you when I’m not quite positive ;)

Here’s what you will need:
lumber (I’m pretty sure I picked up some cheap 2×4 scrap wood at home depot)
Small kitchen island
Chicken wire
Paint

Level of difficulty: medium

The sole reason that I rated this as a “medium” level project is that you will need to use a saw. If that doesn’t scare you off then good; thats where we begin. Cut the lumber for the back frame to the right height for you. Keep in mind that if you make it too tall for you to reach, it will be no good to you. The width (make sure to account for all three nailed together pieces) should be about the same size as the island. Don’t nail your pieces together yet. This is when I would paint my lumber. You can wait to do it, but I wanted the rough edges of the lumber to be painted (just in case theres a little crack between the two nailed together pieces), and my nails to be unpainted.

Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the process, I built this so long ago that I’m not sure where they are. This is a photo of the island before I started. I pulled it from the craigslist ad for the island (so no, that isn’t my beer!)

Since you have the paint out, you may as well paint your island. I’ll point out here that you could also probably use a large kitchen cabinet, but it wont look quite as nice or be as functional, and you will probably need to raise it from the ground somehow. Now, back to painting.

I picked up some cheap paint at home depot. (Did you know they have a paint clearance section? They do!) and just brushed it allllll over that island, painting my strokes in X’s for a (dare I say it?) Shabby Chic look. I didn’t sand, didn’t primer; nothing. The reason for this is twofold: first, I’m lazy. Second, the island I was using had a thin layer of protective sealant on it. Since my workstation is  outside year round, though rain and heat, I wanted to keep it as protected as possible. Plus, I like the way it looks with the variations in paint and it helps the inevitable dings and scratches blend in that will befall the poor little thing. Sooo really that was four reasons. I get unrealistically optimistic when I try to be succinct.

Once your paint is all dry, assemble your lumber pieces into a frame shape, nailing the pieces together. You want to make a closed frame. not a U shape, but a box shape. No need to make it perfect. Remember, it is going outside, not in your living room!

Cut your chicken wire to size. Safety first; wear gloves! I am pretty sure I used a staple gun to attach the chicken wire to my frame, but this is where my memory fails, sorry! Then go ahead and nail the frame to your island. This is why we made it a box, not a U. See how easy it is to just nail straight through the bottom of the fame and into the island? Plus it is so much more stable since you can throw in as many nails as you want!

Thats it, your done, and look how beautiful :) I would finish up by throwing some S hooks on the chicken wire to hang your tools and if you have a little rod on the side like mine does, you can put some hooks there as well.

This project only cost me $15! I found the island on Craigslist for free and the other items were very inexpensive. Happy new year everyone, I hope this year I blog more than I have in the last 2 years put together ;)

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Designer Framed Calendar

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Happy New Year everyone! It’s time to start fresh, make changes, and anticipate the events that will be a part of 2012. What better way to keep track of all the excitement than a DIY calendar? I love this idea because its super adaptable; you can switch out the scrap paper to celebrate holidays or match you decor, or use different sizes/shapes/colors of frames to make it yours.

Heres what you need:
Frame
Scrapbook paper
Painters or masking tape
Glass etcher (such as Amour Etch)

Use the paper that comes in the frame to measure out (or fold) seven horizontal sections and five vertical ones. Be sure to leave enough space at the top for the days of the week and the month’s name.

Mark the horizontal line marks on the glass using a dry erase marker and use a ruler to make a straight line connecting the marks with a dry erase marker. This will help you determine the width of your calendar lines.

Tape around the dry erase marker, then erase the marks.

Spread the glass etcher on the lines and leave on according to package instructions. Remove the tape and wash the glass etcher. Repeat the process for the vertical lines.

In order to get the days of the week on the glass in the correct order, be sure to turn the stencil around (mirror image) and begin with Sunday on the right, working left with Monday, Tuesday etc. Be sure to make a mark where you want each letter and center the letter on the mark. Tape each stencil down as you go and remove carefully after you apply the glass etcher, to be sure none of the etcher snuck underneath the stencil.

Wash and dry the frame well.

Place the glass in the frame, etched side in, with a piece of scrapbook paper. Write in your dates and special events, and you are set to go!

Starfish Stocking Holders

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Heres the thing. Well one of many things that you will come to learn about me really. And come to think of it, if you have ever read my blog before, you probably already know this particular thing about me. I’m so in love with where I live. California is so beautiful. Always. But especially in the wintertime. Yet none of the decorations you buy in the store represent our unique way of ringing in winter. I mean really, I think starfish make the perfect Christmas stars and Outdoor shopping malls with kajillions (yes, kajillions) of shopping lights truly get me in the Christmas spirit. I digress. Thats the thing about me… well one of many things…

Anyways! Christmas is almost here and if your stockings are not yet hung by the chimney with care, I have the perfect mid-week craft for you! These starfish stocking holders are ridiculously cheap and easy, plus they are are perfect for those of us who want to deck the halls in a fresh way. Inspired by the lovely California climate that has made my holiday season oh-so-cheery, I present to you these beauties.

Level of difficulty: Easy

So, like I said… this is so easy! The first thing you have to do (assuming you bought your window molding pre-painted white, like I did) is spray paint your starfish and hooks gold; front, back, and sides.

While everything is drying you can stick four cabinet bumpers to the bottom of your moulding squares; one on each corner.

After your starfish are dry, place them on the moulding where you would like them and mark the placement with a pencil. Put a nice glob of hot glue on the spot that you marked and glue your starfish on. Don’t be afraid to use your starfish as a tool to get the glue right… glue will be getting on your starfish anyways.

 

By now your stocking holders should be shaping up pretty nice. It just needs the finishing touch- hooks. There are a variety of hooks out there… just be sure when you are buying them that:
A) they fit on the molding
B) you will not need to put a nail in that somehow sticks out of the moulding, and
C) that you like the way they look. They will be on the front of your stocking holders, after all.
So stick those babies on however the directions recommend…  or use hot glue like i did.

Enjoy your stocking holders and all the goodies they will hold on Christmas day.

Christmas Card Holder

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The Christmas countdown has begun! And despite the slow demise of the post office, one lovely piece of post remains for those of us who look forward to getting snail mail. Thats right, Christmas cards are beginning to flood through the country, bringing a tiny piece of joy to each person who receives one. Don’t you wish you could hold onto that “aww” moment of sorting through ads and bills, when all the sudden a lovely hand-addressed envelope catches your eye?

Make the Christmas spirit last as long as possible by creating an equally lovely Christmas card holder. I seriously think that walking by this holder when starting the morning will help us all to reflect a little less on the materialism that is so apparent during this season, and a little more on the love reflected by the people around us.

So lets get crafting!

For this project you will need:

Level of difficulty: Easy

The first thing you want to do is poke holes in your foam board for the ribbon ties. Make sure they are even and not too close to edges, to prevent tears. Lace your ribbons through and be sure to make them long enough… don’t forget to consider the length it will take to tie bows at the top if you wish to do so.

Next lay out the batting on top of your board; I used two layers for a little extra fluff. Leave a couple inches over the edges. Flip the board over, pull the batting back over the edge, and staple the batting every four inches or so. Pull it tight as you go.

Do the same thing with your fabric. I used felt because I had it left over from another project, but it turned out to be great for this as it is not too slick and is more likely keep your cards from falling off. Staple, staple, staple, pull tight, staple, staple, staple.

Cut your ribbon to the appropriate lengths to make a criss cross pattern. Its best if you can get someone to hold the board, or prop it against something while you do this so that you can see the angles you are tilting the ribbon at. You can use tape to put it in place while you are adjusting, then staple, or you can just use duct tape as a permanent adhesive. I weaved my ribbons over and under… mostly just for looks.

Make a big fat bow, or throw on some other decoration to make your board look like a beautiful present. Heres an easy tutorial on making a bow:

http://www.save-on-crafts.com/howtomakloop.html

Finally Tie up your ends to the appropriate length and loop them onto some over the door hooks, or those fabulous easy release sticky hooks.

Ta da!

Snowflake Placemats

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Now that the turkey leftovers are gone and my neighborhood has begun to glow with strings of lights, my thoughts are of nothing but Christmas. Despite the 75 degree weather, my thoughts are full of gift wrapping, reindeer, and snowflakes. Oh yes, snowflakes.

In Southern California, we rarely experience snow… much less snowflakes. In fact, I have never even seen a snowflake. But oh how beautiful they are. I can imagine them wafting down, kissing my cheeks, each one so distinctly different, yet so perfectly beautiful. In fact, they are a perfect symbol for the holiday season. They remind me that God is perfection and can create perfection, yet he loves me so much that he came to earth to save all us imperfect people.

Which brings me to todays craft. Snowflake Placemats!!! If you have been looking for a craft to do with the kiddos this may be exactly what you need. The kids can cut out their paper snowflakes and you can transfer them to the felt… then you all can decorate the masterpieces together.

For this project you will need

Felt: Approx 1.25 square feet per plate
Scissors
Newspaper
Stapler
Fabric pen
Bling: rhinestones, sequence etc (For decoration)
Glue to attach bling

Level of difficulty: Easy

*A note about felt:
In order to get the cleanest cut possible, a blend of wool and felt is best. Craft felt will work fine, in fact its what I used, but the wool blend tends to cut the sharpest.

To get started, we need to make our stencil(s). If you are not familiar with how to make a paper snowflake… or have forgotten since you last made one in 2nd grade, Instructables has a pretty straightforward tutorial:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-6-Pointed-Paper-Snowflakes/#step1.

If you are making normal plate-sized placemats, use an entire sheet of newspaper (2 pages) for best results. After you make your flake, unfold it and test it on a plate to be sure the size is appropriate.

Cut to a piece of felt to the size of your flake and staple or pin the felt and template together.

Trace around your snowflake with the fabric pen. If there are any parts of your flake that you don’t like, now is the time to make it perfect! Of course if you are feeling pretty confident that your flake is super duper secure… you could skip this step and just cut around your stencil. Heck- if you really want want to live on the wild side, skip the stencil step too and just cut your flake straight out of the felt! It’s your call, but I don’t want to hear you whining if it doesn’t turn out perfect because you skipped a step, wise guy.

Cut out your snowflake using scissors (a heated Exacto knife also works very well if you happen to have one) and marvel in its beauty.

For the finishing touch, decorate your snowflake to perfection.

Enjoy!

Rosette Napkin Rings

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Ahhh Thanksgiving in Southern California… what a beautiful thing it is! The leaves have changed color, the air has just developed the slightest chill, causing Californians everywhere to burrow into a pile of blankets, and the freeways are bejeweled with innumerable headlights… a string of beauty (unless you are trapped in it) to admire as holiday travelers make their way to visit friends and family.

Those of us hosting the feast, however, must claw our way out of the blanket pile and begin the preparations. Ah well, at least it’s an opportunity to blare the Christmas music and- if you need some time to mediate before the onslaught of family begins to interrogate you about you about your failure, yet again, to bring a date to dinner- indulge in a quick project.

Enter:

These are soooo easy to make, I had all these materials on-hand, and I bet you will only have to buy the wire… and it’s cheap.

Materials list 1

Level of difficulty: Easy

To make the ring, wrap the wire around a hard cylinder shaped container three or four times. I used a thicker medicine bottle.

Depending on the look you want, you can wrap it around without crossing (a cleaner look), or wrap the metal across itself for more of a bird’s nest look. Cut the end with pliers. Keep in mind that if you haven’t worked with this material before, you may want to use gloves and goggles- the metal can be sharp. Also be sure to tuck your ends in really well, you wouldn’t want your linens to catch on exposed metal. If you use pliers to loop the metal to itself and squeeze it really hard, you wont have this problem.

Take your completed rings outside and spray paint them in your chosen color.

While you are waiting for them to dry: heat up your glue gun and get your fabric ready. There are many ways to make fabric flowers, and many tutorials on the web, but I’ll include a quick version here.

Cut out four large circles, about 3″ in diameter; two medium circles, about 2″ in diameter; one small circle, you guessed it, 1″ in diameter; and one thin strip about 1/2″ by 1 1/2″. I would freehand the circles, perfection is not an issue here and whatever sticks out can be trimmed off at the end. This is where you will be using the button too so have that handy.

Fold the first circle in half, then half again to make a rounded triangle. glue this to one quarter of the button. Do the same with the other three large circles, so that the button is covered. Fold the two medium circles the same way and layer them on top of the large circles, with the tips at the center of the button. I off-set my layers just a tiny bit so the edges don’t line up. This step is not in the photos, but it’s important: take the small circle fold it up the same way, then place a dollop of glue on the tip and stick it vertically in the center of the flower. Finally put a line of glue on the back of the long strip, roll it up like a taquito, chop off one end at an angle (the one that you don’t want facing out), and glue this straight in the middle of your flower. Trim any excess from the flower, and round out any sharp angles.

 Take the old jewelry or beads that you have collected (if you are stringing the beads yourself, I suggest using plastic string or wire to get the best look) and loop them around three your fingers about three times. Mess with them until you are happy, then glue them to the back of your flower, right on the button.
Do the same thing again with another string of beads and glue, slightly overlapping with the first loops.
Now, arrange your adornment and ring until you are happy with the way it looks. Keep in mind how the beads will fall with the napkin pulled though. Place a large dollop of hot glue on the button and press and hold the ring until it is set.
Now just slip a napkin through those babies, and enjoy the feast!

Wood Burned Spoons

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UPDATE: These are now available in my Etsy store :) http://www.etsy.com/shop/craftycalicottage

I love weddings. It’s true. I am the person that volunteers  to show up early; I say it’s to help with the finishing touches, but really it’s to snag the front row seat before so-and-so’s grandmother gets there.

Weddings are one of those few, almost perfect things in life. A celebration of love and commitment… two ideas that have become increasingly undervalued. But for just one day, these values take center stage.

How do we celebrate this special occasion? By showering the lucky couple with gifts of course! For those of us who are torn between the point-and-choose thoughtlessness of the ever-present gift registry, and the chance that the thoughtfully chosen, beautiful plates we found at Pier 1 might clash with the bride and groom’s new kitchen, I propose a simple solution:

These are the perfect accompaniment to your registry gift. When you set your bag on the table with all the other expertly-wrapped purple and white gifts, your’s will blend in and stand out with the spoons tied on the outside of the bag. A special tribute to a special day.

Heres what you will need:

Carbon Paper
Your DesignsWooden Spoons
Wood Burner Kit
Tape
Scissors
Fine Sandpaper (optional)

Level of difficulty: Easy

The first thing you need to do is print your designs. I suggest printing in greyscale. Not only does it save ink, it also helps when you are burning your design, since this type of wood burning will have a black and white effect.

If you choose to freehand your designs, there is no need to use the carbon paper technique. This results in a more finished look, but if you choose to freehand, more power to you.

I would suggest sanding the spoons a little. Smooth spoons will ensure that your wood burner won’t suddenly get stuck in the grain and veer off course, away from your intended design. I didn’t do this… but for the perfectionist out there, this might be a good idea.

Next, cut your designs apart. Cut as close to the edges of the design as possible. This way you will be able to see how the design is centered on the spoon without much guess work.

Play with your designs. Mix and match and lay them out on the spoons until you are satisfied. Then make a carbon sandwich. Tape the carbon paper, black side down, to the area of the spoon that you will be working with. Tape the design, print side up, on top of that.

Trace the designs through the carbon paper, onto the spoon.

A couple quick tips:

*If you have not worked with carbon paper before, do a test on a piece of paper to get the feel for how hard to press.
*Use a colored pen when you trace. You will be able to tell where you have been.

Peel off the design and carbon paper. You are left with an imprint of your design on the spoon. Heat up your wood burner- I use a thicker tip, it’s less precise but often easier to work with… almost like a ball point.

Trace the design with your wood burner. move quickly so you don’t burn a deep spot in the spoon. You can always go back for touch ups/ a second “coat.”

Ta- Da!

Keep going! Decorate the front, back, handles; what have you. Inscribe the wedding date, cute phrases, bible verses, hearts, patterns etc.

Here are how all of mine turned out:

Last but not least, tie on a bow, and attach to the handle of your gift bag. Enjoy the wedding and the possible adaptations for this fun project.

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