Go out on a limb: Try sticks for kicks

The other day, I found myself in a checkout line behind a woman who was buying sticks. That's right, sticks. A nice bundle of them, too -- each labeled with a price tag of $3.99. Were they magical sticks... or at least painted a cool color, with twinkly lights attached? Nope. Just plain sticks. I wanted to grab her arm and say, "You know, you can find a huge quantity of those, free-for-the-taking, right in my backyard... and probably in your backyard, too." But I didn't. I let her walk out with her sticks and realized a blog post was about to be born. (I'm not quite a Craft Interventionist yet, but I'm getting there.) It's the tail-end of winter here in Louisville, Kentucky; and let me tell you, sticks are aplenty. The tree branches are bare... everywhere, I swear! (I've always loved Seuss.) It's perfect stick-gathering time. The snow is melting, and branches, big and small, have fallen. They can either be bundled for the curb or for your own craft projects. I'm choosing the latter. It's always great to bring part of the outdoors inside. Live, green plants are lovely; however, if you're a non-green thumb like me, sticks may be more your style. You can't kill "dead." ūüôā I love the variety of colors, textures, sizes, and shapes. They are versatile for use, as well, and can be placed in mantle vases, floor pots, or even in frames as wall art. If you want to liven things up a bit, you can always spray-paint them, gild them, add lights, or other embellishments. I once mounted a large branch on my daughter's bedroom ceiling using clear fishing wire and a screw hook and, then, hung beautiful bird and butterfly ornaments from it. No cost, no fuss. I realize that not all parts of the world have trees. If you live in such a place, then I guess you are stuck buying them in a craft or home decor store. But if you do have trees, the next time there's a breeze, go out on your knees, and pick up sticks, please! (Ah, Seuss.) As always, send in photos of your creations so that I can share them with others on my blog. You'll be glad you went out on a limb. ūüôā ---------------------------------------- Photo credits in order of display: Home of PrettyEasyLiving.com Blogger; Decozilla; Remade Simple; Sunshine on the Inside; Free Home Decorating Ideas; Curbly - Mod Home Ec Teacher

Update to “Accessible accessories” — Bring back the bling

This blog post falls under the category of "better late than never." ¬†By that, I mean that it's taken me over a year to keep my promise of actually ditching my unsightly old jewelry cabinet in lieu of a more creative way to display my baubles. The cabinet, which I referenced in my earlier post, "Accessible Accessories," screamed '80s country oak catastrophe, devoid of charm, taste, or beauty. ¬†In fact, it was so ugly ("How ugly was it?") that I draped linens on top of it and relegated it to hidden corner of my sitting room, as if I had put it in Timeout. ¬†Then, because it was "out of sight, out of mind," I never opened it up and stopped wearing jewelry! ¬†You may think I'm kidding for comedic effect but, unfortunately, this is a true story of my decline from bling to boring -- all because I procrastinated an easy project! So this weekend, with a bit more time on my hands, I unloaded my jewelry cabinet, apologized to my long-neglected lovely things, and decided to proudly display them so they would be easy to see and select forevermore. ¬†A wooden-framed chalkboard was the unlikely hero which came to the rescue and became the backdrop for my new arrangement. image This was one of the easiest, most inexpensive projects I've ever done -- merely using push pins at the top of the wooden frame and hanging my necklaces of varying lengths upon each pin. ¬†Not only are the necklaces easy to see, but they look like an elegant tapestry of color and texture against the black background. And no more tangles! I placed my bracelets, rings, and brooches in the small metal bins at the bottom of the chalkboard where you would normally find chalk and erasers. Whatever happened to the Cabinet of Shame? ¬†She currently sits curbside where, no doubt, some junk peddler will nab it in the night, thinking he's found a gem...er...gem cabinet which will sell quickly at his store. ¬†Meanwhile, my jewelry is happy and free from its confines, and I'm gonna bring the bling like never before. ūüôā    

Nice flight to 40

Recently, I hosted a 40th birthday party for my boyfriend, who loves airplanes -- especially vintage ones.¬† I wanted to use this as a theme for his party but not in an overly cutesy way¬†that is reserved for the toddler set.¬† With some Internet sleuthing and some ingenuity, I think I earned my wings on this one. ūüôā First, I¬†created¬†the invitation in the style of a¬†vintage airplane ticket.¬†Sealed in a "Par Avion" envelope with a vintage biplane stamp,¬†what better way to set the stage or the... er... runway? InvitationThen, it was all about creating a party atmosphere to drive home the theme.¬† Having a photo booth area in the garage ("hangar") labeled, "Passport Photos," with some great travel-related props¬†was a¬†great way to get everyone in the mood... AND provide some mementos¬†from the evening.¬†¬†Props included a¬†plane propeller, world map poster, actual vintage airplane seats (for only $35 off Craigslist!), a globe, a steamer trunk, bomber jackets, and goggles. Photo BoothPassport Photos Signs also¬†added some¬†whimsy¬†-- "Welcome Aboard," "Baggage Claim Area" (for coats and purses), and "In-Flight Snacks" for food and beverages.¬† I also used a "Lavatory" sign for the bathroom, as well as "Authorized Personnel Only" for¬†areas of the home I wanted to¬†keep private. Welcome SignPlanning the menu¬†was so much fun and gave way to lots of creativity -- including Soda Suitcase (a vintage one bought at Goodwill for $2), Cumulus Cupcakes, Jet Fuel (pumpkin pie martini), and Air-Devil Eggs, just to name a few. Soda SuitcaseCumulus CupcakesJet FuelAir-Devil Eggs               I¬†had planned to use mini-laminated map luggage tags for parting gifts, but they did not arrive in time.¬† Instead, I had a door-prize drawing for a basket filled with travel-sized items and an "In-Flight Movie" (DVD). Travel Size Gifts & In Flight MovieWhen it was all said and done, I think everyone had¬†a good time.¬†All items were purchased or made on a minimal budget, and clean-up was a breeze.¬† A good take-off... a flight without¬†turbulence...¬†and definitely a happy landing. I'm ready for my next adventure.    

Thinking outside the box: Homemade gift-wrapping

Since stores have¬†showcased Christmas decorations since the end of their "Back-to-School" promotions (ugh!), I'm giving myself permission to post a blog about Christmas/Hanukkah¬†crafting pre-Halloween.¬† And this time, I'm asking you to think outside the box.¬† Literally. Years ago, I had a friend who gave me the most amazing homemade¬†gifts. What impressed me the most, however¬†-- and has stayed with me all this time¬†-- is how she packaged everything:¬† With hand-crafted wrapping paper and embellishments. She was my Secret Santa at work and, each day, I found a uniquely wrapped¬†box on my desk.¬† One day, it was a box wrapped in plain brown paper, with white snowflake stenciling¬†and a sprig of evergreen tucked neatly under a ribbon. Another day, it was a package in white, with cut-outs of words and pictures from newspapers and magazines.¬† My favorite was one in which she took three heart doilies¬†and stacked them, with the largest on the bottom, to resemble a Christmas tree; she used different-colored buttons for the ornaments! This "special treatment" is an inexpensive and creative way to show your thoughtfulness and stand out during this giving season.¬† Below are some great ideas to consider. Snowflake or folded-paper cut-outs and doilies make for easy designs.¬† Use a piece of twine or string¬†in place of a ribbon for an old-fashioned look. DIY Paper flowers How cool would it be for your family members to identify their gifts by the photos you used to tag them?¬† (And the photos are¬†gifts, too!) Photocopy photos and use in place of gift tags What about a collage of color photos?¬† Take your design to¬†a copy center¬†to print it on larger sheets of paper. Homeade wrapping paper. Just made this for my boyfriend's birthday! Why not be silly?¬† Clip images from magazines or use stamps to make a repeating design.¬† Perfect for kids and teens. ¬†¬†¬†StampedPaper Give yourself license to do something different this holiday season and wrap your gifts in style.¬† There's nothing like a "grand opening." ūüôā --------------------------------------- Photo credits:¬† DIY Pinterest; Daily Suze; Our Suburban Farm; Originals; Top Inspired; Sweet Paul Mag    

Old Maid new

OldMaidCardWhen my sister and I were kids, we spent countless hours playing cards with our grandmother, affectionately called "Gaga" (long before the pop-star made the name fashionable!).¬† Our favorite game, bar none, was "Old Maid," and oh how¬†we¬†cackled when¬†our worthy opponent drew the unenviable card! This week, my sis turned 40, and I wanted to give her something special -- a nostalgic¬†present¬†that meant something to just the two of us.¬† What better gift than a set of those vintage 1970s Whitman playing cards from our past,¬†in all their¬†whimsical (albeit, now non-PC!)¬†Old Maid glory. When I first saw a set for sale on eBay, I was ecstatic.¬† The colorful playing card "characters," including Diver Dan, Fifi Fluff, and Postman Pete, jumped right off the screen and instantly¬†summoned all my preschool memories of careless days, passing time on my grandmother's screened-in porch. What a bargain for only $6.00, plus shipping & handling! DiverDan¬†¬† FifiFluff¬†¬†¬†PostManPete But rather than simply give my sister the deck in¬†its original plastic case, I wanted to display the individual cards as wall art.¬†¬†After¬†considering¬†a multi-baseball trading card frame¬†(trading cards are¬†the exact size as playing cards), I chose a collage frame which was originally intended for 3x5 photos.¬† Naturally, I made the Old Maid card the centerpiece. ArtWhile good ol' Gaga passed away many years ago, her memory lives on with us in¬†numerous ways -- and now,¬†through this loving keepsake. Maybe this idea has inspired you to take some other retro playing cards and frame them for a child's room, a family game room, or a¬†gift for a childhood friend.¬† Regardless, it's¬†a great way to celebrate a meaningful, perhaps-waning, American pastime in a simple, creative manner. P.S.¬†Sis -- I promise the Old Maid theme was not¬†a jab at your single status on this milestone birthday!¬† Hope you had a great one! ūüôā

Victoria’s secret… for a great Mardi Gras party

Victoria & Me

Victoria & Christy (me)

Last weekend, my friend Victoria threw quite a Mardi Gras bash with her¬†then-boyfriend/now-fiance, Steve¬†-- "title change" the result¬†of¬†a lovely Valentine's Day¬†marriage proposal yesterday.¬† "Party bling followed by an engagement ring"¬†is how this last week will go down in history.¬† And that's a tough act to follow, people! :-)Victoria is a woman who has got it all together.¬† Or if she doesn't, you'd never know because she sure does seem to pull off parties with ease and finesse.¬† And I have the pictures to prove it. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared the idea of draping plastic tablecloths on your ceiling to add festive color to your room?¬† Here they are, Mardi Gras style, in green, purple, and gold.¬† One of the first things you saw as you came through the door,¬†it certainly said, "Let's get this party started!" Mardi Gras Ceiling Tablecloth Decorations Victoria¬†also created¬†a fabulous "mask and bead" board to display Mardi Gras¬†accessories for guests to wear upon arrival.¬† After draping fabric across an inexpensive paneling board bought at Home Depot (you can hot glue-gun or staple the material in the back), she then used double-sided tape and hooks to hold the masks and beads.¬† Functional (albeit temporary) art --¬†my favorite!Mardi Gras Mask and Bead Display Doors (2) I can see similar approaches for other celebrations, with different color schemes and¬†party favors¬†(e.g., New Year's party hats/horns, Santa hats/reindeer antlers, Hawaiian leis, Halloween masks). I could share many photos to make all of you "wish you were here," but I will limit it to just a few more so that you can get the flavor of this party and steal some ideas to replicate or alter when left to your own devices. Dessert AreaDifferent angle of table centerpiece     What did you do for Mardi Gras or Valentine's Day this year?¬† Party photos, crafts, or great recipes?¬† Victoria¬†shared her secret(s).¬† Now you share yours!

Pretty in… plastic?

Like many, I love to entertain.  Also like many, I rarely have the time or money to throw elaborate parties (but still want to at least give the impression that I do!)  One way to add some pizazz to your gatherings is to use simple, inexpensive plastic tablecloths -- and not necessarily in the traditional way of placing them on your tables.

Plastic Tablecloth Ceiling TreatmentTake a look at this easy idea of draping them across your ceiling, canopy-style, with a few balloon embellishments and streamers.  What a great way to add color and texture in a dramatic, eye-catching fashion, with few dollars and little effort.

  This¬†decorating technique could be used for a variety of parties -- celebrating birthdays, baby or wedding showers,¬†and holidays (e.g., Valentine's Day, Halloween, Christmas) --and could¬†feature any number of color combinations to¬†support a range of¬†fun-to-elegant themes. tablecloth door entrancePlastic tablecloths¬†can also be used to create a festive entrance to your party room, by draping them, in swag-curtain style, from your doorframe. Use bows, ribbons, tulle or any other thematic or seasonal¬†flair (pine cones? baby rattles?) to complete the look.¬† Again, you can use one color or many, depending on the design you're after; and these¬†can be pulled to one side only... or hung so that¬†they drape¬†both sides of your doorframe.¬†¬†Maybe you¬†want to drop them all the way to the floor so that they "puddle" like¬†fabric draperies.   Last but not least, who has parties without photos, right?¬† Whether people are taking them for casual¬†Facebook posts¬†or to eventually print and frame as a remembrance of the occasion,¬†snapshots are a given. How about using plastic tablecloths to make an interesting backdrop for your guests?¬† rainbow-photo-booth-backdrop-11Whether you go a bit¬†whimsical with a rainbow design or opt for something more subtle, alternating light colors, this is sure to delight your party-goers.¬† You've¬†not only created¬†a conversation piece but a pseudo photo booth!¬† Add an empty picture frame or other props if you want to allow for more variety.   Whatever your party purpose, plastic tablecloths are an inexpensive and versatile way to add a temporary design to your room(s), without taking hours of preparation to deliver an interesting and memorable effect.¬† What are you waiting for?¬† The Dollar Store is just a few minutes away... ------------------------------------------------------------------ Photo credits:¬† Ceiling canopy photo provided by Toni Roberts (DesignDazzle.com)¬†.¬† Doorway photo provided by Jaime Costiglio (ThatsMyLetter.blogspot.com).¬†¬†Backdrop photo provided by Camille (Makoodle.com). For details on the "how to" behind these projects, please visit these sites.