DIY Jewelry Tree

On my most recent trip back to the "states", Mom and I hit JoAnn Fabrics (whoop!). The hardest part about living overseas and having an addiction to DIY projects is the ability to find the supplies you need. I usually end up ordering on-line and waiting .... waiting ... waiting for the delivery ... or I make a list of projects and supplies then wait until I travel back to the U.S. and make a GIGANTIC purchase! Either method requires waiting ... and I don't like waiting!

Anyway ... I found this Valentine Tree at JoAnn's for $4.99 plus 40% off ... yippee! When I saw it I immediately thought "jewelry organizer". My only regret is that I didn't buy more! A few coats of black paint and the transformation from Valentine Tree to Jewelry Tree was complete ....


Valentine Tree (JoAnn Fabrics is having 70% their Valentine decorations ... so go! go! go!)
Black Paint (I used spray paint)

Jewelry Tree

I place my "everyday jewelry" on the tree for safekeeping and quick access

Before ... Valentine Decoration (ho-hum)

After ... Sophisticated Jewelry Tree (cute!)

Top to bottom ...
(no, I don't keep my jewelry on the floor by our wine crates ... this was just the best lighting in the house)

The kiddo came over while I was taking photos and said "oh, nice" ... nothing like a little approval from the little one!

Then he decided I needed to wear ALL my jewelry ... so sweet!

*This project was originally shared on my family blog, Our Journey*

Our Home Theater

Presenting "Cinema 1" ....

We have been waiting to build a home theater for about 5 years now and we've finally had the space in a house to do it! Minus a few finishing decorative touches; we are finally done with "Cinema 1".

Seating for 6 ... Thanks IKEA!
Shag Rug ... IKEA
Curtains ... We already had these!
I sewed coordinating pillows ... Fabric from IKEA
Blankets ... IKEA
Popcorn Buckets ... Christmas Gift from Family!
Candy Cups ... IKEA

Screen and "Computer Cafe"
Bar Stools ... I re-upholstered chairs we already had
Bar Table ... IKEA

120 " Screen

Another view ...

This area was my hubby's idea! Go hubby!

One of the best perks about the Home Cinema is that we can bring the party to us! It's hard to get out with a toddler but we really enjoy the company of friends ... our solution ... the home cinema. It's also fun to have a "date night" at home! Believe it or not ... we did this entire project (including the screen and projector) for less than the price of the TV in our living room. We did budget for this project and did a lot of price comparisons ... we are bargain shoppers! If it weren't for IKEA this would probably still be an empty room!

*This project was originally posted on my family blog, Our Journey*

DIY Family Tree

This was one of my first DIY decorating projects in our current home ... a family tree that grows and moves with you! I originally posted this projected on our family blog, Our Journey. Since then it has also been featured at RoomMates, both here and here.

Our DIY Family Tree - It's over 5 feet tall!

In an attempt to "warm-up" one of the walls, I had remembered seeing removable, peel-n-stick "wall art" back in the states. I came across the the Roomates Tree Branch Wall Sticker and new I had a perfect place for it. Waiting impatiently for my wall stickers I had a "Whoa! What if I do this!" moment ... turn the wall sticker into a family tree! Not sure what to expect I waited until it arrived and put up a few test branches to see what options I had. After literally weeks of trying to find the right mini-frames (and trying to be cost-conscience) I stumbled across the Puzzle Photo Frame ... not quite sure if it would work, I ordered it anyway ... 8-frames for $7.49 (I ordered 3 for a total of 24 mini-frames)! I waited 3-weeks for for this shipment ... all the while staring at the "test-branches" on my wall and overlooking my husband's "what the heck is that" look. I'd say, "trust me, it's going to be AWESOME"! So ... I finally received the frames, tore the large frame apart to get to the "mini-frames" ... and perfect!

Construction of the Tree

Tree Branch Wall Sticker: The wall sticker does not come "assembled", the branches, leaves, little twigs, etc are all separate stickers. After trial and error I decided to place the tree branches the way they were on the package. They really do hold up well to removing and "re-sticking" ... we have highly textured walls and though they do not recommend textured walls for this product ... they work great! The leaves were the last touch ... after the photo frames!

Frames: These frames are about 3x3 and weigh next to nothing. For ease of positioning and to avoid excess nail holes I used thumb-tack putty to stick the frames to the walls!

Pictures: The most time consuming part of this project was finding pictures of each family member ... in fact if you look close you'll see a few "blank" frames. After finding the right pictures, I edited them to black and white, brightened the photos and cropped them down to approx. 2.5 x 2.5 inch squares.

Letters: Just added! During our recent trip back to the U.S. I spent a considerable amount of time "stocking up" on craft supplies ... the letters being one of them. I bought these paper mache letters for 50% off, spray painted them black and used thumb-tack putty to adhere them to the walls. I would have preferred slightly smaller letters for this project ... but I used what I could get my hands on!

Photo Placement: After a lot of deliberation (of which I will spare you) .... the right side of the tree is "my side of the family", the left side is "my husband's side" and the center branch is "us". Each sibling and their family has their own branch. The tree progresses from the "bottom up" ... grandparents at the bottom, followed by parents and then siblings in birth-order. From there the tree grows "out". The sibling towards the base of the branch and their children in birth-order growing "out" from the branch base.

Supplies: If you want to create your own family tree with the supplies I used, save yourself hours of internet shopping! Here are the sites you can order your supplies. The thumb-tack putty can be found in just about any store.

Puzzle Photo Frame
Paper Mache Letters

My Thoughts: No doubt, next time we move I may display our family tree a little different, change around the placement, maybe play with colored photos. What I really like about this project is that it is versatile and easily changed! You can literally do whatever you want with this tree to make it your own.

*This project was originally posted on my family blog, Our Journey.*

Orange, Bay Leaf and Cinnamon Garland

Last Christmas I made Orange, Cinnamon, and Bay Leaf Garland as gifts for our neighbors and Keltys' speech pathologist. I have to admit they turned out pretty darn cute and I realized after I made them that they can really be used year-around ... bonus! Who doesn't love the smell of cinnamon! I was pretty proud of myself for using an alternative to cinnamon sticks ... using a recipe for Cinnamon-Applesauce Ornaments, I made hand-rolled spacers! Super cute, super easy, super CHEAP, and they smell FABULOUS! I had everything on hand ... so I guess you can say this project cost me nothing to make!

Here's what you need ...

5-6 Oranges
1 Package Dried Bay Leaves
1 Container of Ground Cinnamon
String ~ I used beading cord
Ribbon ~ Whatever you like!

Making Dried Orange Slices

I chose Clementine Oranges because I didn't want to "lose" the cinnamon spacers between huge orange slices. You can use a dehydrator to dry your oranges slices, but I don't have one ... the oven method worked great.

(1) Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees.

(2) Slice your oranges about 1/4 inch thick and pat with a paper towel to soak up as much moisture as possible.

(3) Lay orange slices in a single layer directly on oven rack (or place on a wire rack and put rack on cookie sheet). You want to expose both side of slices to the heat and air flow to prevent burning.

(4) Leave in oven for 4-6 hours ... turning occasionally. Ok ... I cheated a bit and turned up the oven to 250 after the first 2 hours .. they didn't burn so just use your instincts!

Voila! You have dried oranges slices!

Making Cinnamon Applesauce Spacers

(1) Dump the entire container of ground cinnamon in a bowl (I used the 4.12 oz container but we also made ornaments).

(2) Add just a tablespoon or so of applesauce to the bowl of cinnamon and mix. Add applesauce one spoonful at time and mix after each spoonful ... you want to end up with a "dough" that you can roll out and handle easily. I also added in a bit of flour to help make the "dough" easier to handle. I ended up using about 3/4 cup of applesauce and just a smidge of flour. It doesn't take much!

3) For "round spacers" ... pull off a small chunk of cinnamon dough, roll in the palm of your hands to form a ball, use a toothpick or thick needle to poke a hole through the ball so you can "thread" it onto your garland when it's dry. I also made "disc" spacers by rolling a ball then smushing it with my thumb. Super cute, super easy!

4) Lay your ... umm ... "balls" on a wire rack and let dry overnight. Flipping over as needed.

Voila! You have cinnamon spacers!

Assembling The Garland

Take your desired length of cord/wire/etc. and knot it at the bottom. Thread on your orange slices, cinnamon spacers and bay leafs in any order that makes you happy! (Don't forget to poke a small hole in your bay leaf so you can thread it too!). When you've reached the desired length (I made mine about 10 inches long) ... tie off the top with a loop, add a bow using your ribbon and stop to admire (and smell) your garland!

Interchangeble DIY Dry Erase Board

Originally inspired by Lynette over at Get Your Craft On; I finally got around to making a few Dry Erase Marker Boards this Christmas! Did you know that glass makes a great dry-erase surface?! I changed up the materials a bit to give it my own spin; this is literally a 5-minute craft! These make a great last-minute Christmas gift!

I used double sided scrapbook paper so you can switch out the paper whenever you're in the mood for a fresh look. Simply keep the other papers in the frame behind the front paper and you can do a switch-a-roo in seconds! I bought a scrap pack that came with the tag and used my Sizzix to cut the letters "n-o-t-e-s" to embellish.

I have several variations, including interchangeable "embellishments" so stay tuned for more.


Picture Frame - I used an 8 1/2 x 11
Scrapbook Paper
Dry Erase Marker

DIY Marker Board w/ Interchangeable Papers

Make sure your other papers still coordinate with your embellishment!

4 looks in 1

*This project was originally posted on my family blog, Our Journey*

Not Your Average Clothes Pin

I desperately needed simple storage and easy access to my clothing patterns ... patterns are so hard to store nicely! I decided to hang them on the wall in my craft room, but it needed to look cute. I strung two rows of twine on the wall, decorated the tips of the nails and then decorated the clothing pins to coordinate. I'd like to do something similar in my sons' room to hang his artwork ... or hang snapshots in the house ... or who know what else!

Not Your Average Clothes Pin

... aww, they're cute! They just make me smile!

... now put those clothes pin to work! Here they are in use on my "line of twine" holding up my pattern instructions. The patterns are hanging further down the line and on the 2nd line below it (sorry, couldn't get a good snapshot ... the lighting was terrible). See the decorated nail head?!

DIY Instructions

These are very simple at very quick to make ... seriously, REALLY simple! In the time it takes you to read this tutorial ... you could have made one!

You'll need ...

Clothes Pins
Hot Glue Gun
Scrap of Ribbon
Scrap of Fabric

Look! Only 4 pieces to this little project!

Cut your ribbon just a smidgen longer than the face of your clothes pin and glue it to the face of the clothes pin ... wrapping the extra "smidgen" around the top of the pin (I thought this finished it off a little). I used a narrow ribbon and it fit the width PERFECT!

Glue the fabric shape on top of the clothes pin, near the bottom. I used my Sizzix machine for the flower shape but you can hand cut any shape that fits your style. My Sizzix machine will have a little post of it's own ... it's my new obsession!

Glue on your button!

Ta Da! You're done!

*I originally posted this project on my family blog, Our Journey*

Felt Tot Wallet

My toddler has been holding interest in wallets, purses man bags, ID's, and $ for a while now. In fact, every time we drive to the base he must present his IKEA Card ID Card to the guard and promptly salute. It was painfully apparent ... it was time for my son to have his own wallet.

So ... I set out to create my own tot wallet, because that's what I do! I couldn't get the vision of a little "peek-a-boo" monster out of my head so the little Money Monster made his debut. The wallet is a really simple design and I think I'll tweak it a bit here and there if I make more, but for a "1st try" I'm pretty happy with it ... and most importantly, so is my son!

Open at your own risk!

This seriously makes me laugh. It's as if this little googly-eyed monster is saying,
"Ahh, take it all ... take all you want!"

There is one long pocket for the "bills" and two pockets for cards/ID's. I considered a coin pocket but opted not to include it as I don't feel comfortable with Kelty and coins.

Who could be afraid of a cute face like this? Poor little monster can't even see straight.

TUTORIAL is in the works ... coming soon!

*This project was originally posted on my family blog, Our Journey*

Embellished Inspirational Canvas

This project was special to me for 2 reasons ... 1) I asked Al to come up with 3 inspirational words for our family and he came up with "take the time". I immediately loved it ... it has such a broad meaning. Take the time ... to enjoy each other, to relax, to sit, to do something for yourself, to enjoy the weather, to enjoy family, finish a masters' degree, it goes on and on! 2) See those cute buttons I used as embellishments? Those were my Grandma Reichlins' buttons from back in the 40's/50's! I never had the honor of meeting her as she passed away before I was born.

Look at that beautiful leather-wrapped button!

I needed something in the corner adjacent to my wreath ... and of course it had to coordinate. I think that's enough "color/fabric coordination" for this area now!

I found plain, "burlap-esque" (new word!) canvases for 1.40 euro and new exactly how I wanted to use them!

I mixed up the textures to make it interesting. This set of letters was cut in felt, I scrounged through my stash for some dainty ribbon, grabbed some burlap, leftover fabric from the wreath and bench, dug out one of my Grandma's buttons and VOILA!

I used fabric glue for the letters and hot glue for the rest.

Mixing up the font and fabric ... all with the Sizzix baby!

Tada! No more ugly, empty wall!

Mixing up the font and making each canvas different was actually a step outside my comfort zone ... even though they all "coordinate" they are all different ... I have a serious problem with everything having to exactly match... it's my biggest challenge.

* This project was originally posted on my family blog, Our Journey*

Homemade Play-Doh

In an attempt to encourage "quiet" play time, I decided to make homemade play-doh for Kelty. If you consider the end result of driving the play-doh around in the trunk of toy car and rolling balls of play-doh across the floor "quiet" play time, then it was a success. In Kelty's defense, he did sit at his table and play with it for about 5-minutes before finding other uses for this wonderful little substance.

I decided to make Kool-Aid Play-Doh, based off the recommendation of another mom I came across in the store. Let me tell you of this encounter .... Cream of Tarter (don't cheat and peak at the picture below), I have NEVER used Cream of Tarter for anything and to be honest I had NO clue where it was in the grocery store ... was it a liquid, a powder, in a bottle? I decided to scour the condiment (surely it's not Tartar Sauce, right?) and baking isles ... no luck. Apparently the look on my face caught the face of another mom and she said "it can't be that difficult" ... I responded with "cream of tarter, what the heck is it" ... she laughed and showed me where it was in the SPICE section (sure, whatever!). She immediately said "you're making play-doh aren't you" ... I responded with a proud "yes".

It will take you longer to read this post than it will to make the play-doh, seriously ... it's that quick and easy! It took me about 5 minutes from start to finish ... including digging the ingredients out of the cupboard.

Ingredients for Kool-Aid Playdoh

1 cup Flour
1 package Kool-Aid
1/4 cup Salt
2 tablespoon Cream of Tarter

1 cup Water
1 tablespoon Veg. Oil

Mix dry ingredients in saucepan, add liquid ingredients and mix well. Stir continuously over medium heat until ball forms, remove from pan and kneed until smooth. Store in air-tight container. Voila! (and it smells good too!)

Tip: I used a stiff silicon spatula to stir, continuously scraping from the bottom and folding the mixture into itself ... I was left with no mess or residue in my stainless steel saucepan.

The ingredients and the final product ... my first batch was blue.

Cookie Cutters and Play-Doh

Travel Felt Mat ~ Tutorial

Here it is folks ... my Travel Felt Mat Tutorial! I guest posted this tutorial over at Imperfectly Beautiful a while back but in case you missed it, I'm re-posting! If you didn't catch the my original Handmade Travel Toys post ... you can visit it it HERE.

Travel Felt Mat
We live in Europe and do a lot of traveling ... this little fold-n-go felt mat with storage pockets has been a hit with my toddler.

Felt, Cute Fabric, Iron-On Velcro

Step 1: Lay your "cute" fabric face down on your felt

Step 2: Cut your fabric 18" long by 11" wide

Step 3: Sew three of your sides together (both long sides and one short side)
It will look like an inside out "pillowcase"!

Step 4: Turn your "pillowcase" inside out so the printed side of your fabric is facing out. Press with an iron for nice crisp edges.

Step 5: Now, for the little tab that keeps your felt mat rolled-up secure! Cut a scrap piece of your fabric, approx. 10" long by 3" wide.

Step 6: Fold the scrap piece in half (right sides facing eachother) and sew three sides (just like you did for the main piece). Turn it inside-out and iron ... now it will look like the photo above!

Step 7: Now insert the edge of that cute little tab into the open side of your "pillowcase". Now sew your "pilowcase" closed, sewing the little tab into the seam as you go.

Step 8: So lets make those edges look nice ... you're almost done! Sew a nice straight stitch around all 4 edges of your felt mat.

Step 9: Now, let's make that storage pocket! Fold one side of your felt mat in about 4 inches ...

Step 10: Sew up along both edges to make that pocket ...

Step 11: Find your center point of the pocket and make a straight stitch up the middle ... now you have 2 pockets!

Step 12: Now to finish it off! Take a small square of your iron-on velcro and iron it on the inside of your tab (Don't iron directly on the velcro ... just press it from the other side!)

Step 13: Fold your cute little mat in thirds and iron on the the other piece of velcro!

Voila! You're done!

Now find some felt scraps and have fun creating little felt play scenes!

I hope you made it through the tutorial ok! If you have any questions just leave a comment and I'll be more than willing to help you out!