Handmade Christmas Ornaments

So, every year I like to make a new batch of ornaments for the tree. I don't mind store bought ornaments but in truth, I'm usually too cheap to fork over good money for things that may or may not fall apart after a year, and I like the idea of there always being something handmade on the tree.
When my girls were younger it was fun making ornaments together. We've made cinnamon ornaments many many times. We've made glittered snowballs and crystal stars, we've made dough ornaments and painted ceramic ornaments. We've even made ornaments out of tin can tops. And for the most part they have lasted year after year and are some of our favorite ornaments.
 Alas, my girls are teens now.
So, this year I was on my own for making ornaments.

So, of course I chose to make ornaments out of toilet paper rolls.
Something they would have turned their cute little noses up to anyway.
I'll show you!
Ironically, these toilet paper roll ornaments have become my favorite so far. No, they don't smell like cinnamon like the cinnamon ornaments we make every year, but they're pretty because they're simple and (I think) elegant. I found the idea on Pinterest. Here's the link:
Couldn't be easier! I added a little white glitter to the edges after gluing it all in place. Just do a Pinterest search for toilet roll ornaments and you'll find so many ideas!
Another easy and fun ornament to make is out of little mirrors. We found these in Hobby Lobby for under $3 for a pack of 10. Use a 40% off coupon and they're almost free. I'm just saying.
What I love about the mirrors is how they reflect the colors and lights from the tree. Just put a ribbon or string in between two mirrors and hot glue the two sides together (so there's a mirror on each side).
Another fun Pinterest project I found was making paper owls. I knew I wanted a woodsy animal theme somewhere on the tree but couldn't find any owls I really liked at the stores (or that were in my budget) so I decided to make my own.
Originally I wanted to find wood cutouts of owls and paint them white and gold and cover them in glitter. But, of course all the wood owl cutouts were sold out that day, so I settled on these paper cutouts. I then went on Pinterest to see if there was a way to make them look more owly. I spray painted them glitter gold and added white glitter to the white ones (they came white in the pkg, which I think was like 20 for $1).
But they needed eyes or feathers or something.
I used an exacto knift and cut the eyes and feathers and suddenly they looked like owls!


We decided on a real tree this year and since we have tall ceilings we got a 9ft fur. I didn't think we'd have enough ornaments since we've never had a tree this big, so even with my owls and mirrors and paper roll flowers I decided to make just a few more things.
Every year I also try to have a food element on the tree. For many years it was strings of popcorn and occasionally we'd add strings of cranberries. The popcorn, BTW, will keep fairly fresh year after year if you store each string in a separate Ziploc bag. Ours lasted about 6 years.
But my TEENS pooh-poohed my cranberry/popcorn string idea for this year

So, I decided on dried orange slices instead. I just sliced about 5 medium size oranges and blotted them dry on paper towels. I then put them on a cookie sheet in a low heat oven (275 degrees) for several hours, turning them occasionally till they were nice and dry. Then put ornament hangers in them and put them on tree. Very easy and cheap and adds a lovely natural element to the tree.  

The last ornament I made were these little pillow hearts. I wanted to make them out of recycled flannel but time got away from me and I ended up settling for a yard of red plaid.
I cut them into hearts, sewed up the sides, stuffed them with leftover pillow stuffing, and added a hanger out of some leftover yarn.

These took the longest of all the ornaments I made this year, but I think will last the longest as well. Plus, it's plaid! Who doesn't love plaid?
My oldest is a cat lover so she made a few of these in square shapes (using some of my leftover fabric), stuffed them with stuffing and CATNIP, and sewed them shut. She then wrote each of her cat's names on them (we have 3 cats, lord help us) and put them in their stockings. Every year we make some version of these catnip pillows and the cats go nuts drooling on them and carrying them around the house for days afterwards. It's truly an easy to make treat for them! I think it's because my daughter puts A LOT of catnip in them!
Now, on to baking!
Merry Christmas!!

Teen Room Makeover Part 1: DIY Tufted Headboard

So my daughter turned 13 this year (officially a TEENager! Gah!). And one of the things she wanted for her birthday (along with mascara, lipstick, eyeliner, ya know, the essentials) was a more grown up bedroom. We had painted her room BRIGHT GREEN when we first bought the house not quite a year ago because that was the color she HAD TO HAVE.
Even in the closet. Just, whatever.
 We also painted her attached bathroom turquoise because green and turquoise should always be together. Again, whatever.
But that was when she was 12.
She's 13 now. 

So, we just MUST paint her room a mature color. Again. Including the closet - which, I'm just going to go on record saying that I no longer paint closets. I, in fact, QUIT all jobs from this point forward that require closet painting. Just don't even ask me to do it because I QUIT. Closets should just stay whatever color they are till the end of time.
The only satisfaction I can truly say I got from all this painting of the closets is that she admitted, like, in person, to me afterwards that I was right and she should have listened to me the first time when I said you probably won't always want your closets painted BRIGHT GREEN so it might be a good idea NOT to paint them? To which she responded with "I want my closet BRIGHT GREEN!"
Whatever. She's still a unicorn. I mean, what teenage girl tells her mother she's right?
So, in addition to painting her room, she also wanted to update her furniture and bedding, including a new headboard. So, we poured thru Pinterest looking for ideas and decided to make a tufted headboard. Now, I've never made a tufted headboard before. I've made cushions and I've done some upholstery type stuff, but a tufted headboard...

Sure! Why not!
So, here's what we did. We got a large piece of plywood (I had Home Depot cut it down to the size I needed) and my handy husband jig-sawed the shape at the top.

I then laid it on the foam and batting (cut to size) and stapled all of that to the back.

Then stapled the fabric to the back. The corners were tricky, but well, who cares. As long as it looks good from the front.
Now, the tufting!

My handy husband had a great idea to use washers and large screws so the fabric wouldn't rip through. I had googled all the different ways to make the tufting and we even tried a few other ways, only to have the fabric tear.

His idea worked perfect and created a nice deep tufted area around each washer.


My daughter wanted some bling on the headboard so she picked out these crystal thingies to go on top of the washers.

We just hot glued those suckers!
Perfect! (Except where it's not perfect, but hey, from here it looks perfect!)
And here's how it looks on the wall! I love it so much I'm going to make one for our bed! We made a hanger for it using some screws and wire so it hangs kind of like a picture from the back, but is flush with the wall.
We had some foam and fabric left over so we recovered an old wood chest she had to match.
Just took the top off the hinges and stapled the foam, batting, and fabric on the back just like we did the headboard, cutting out a small square area where the hinges were. Reattached the hinges and now it's a great little sitting spot by her bed...for her cat.  
Aside from painting some furniture, creating a reading nook in her closet using old cabinets, and updating some of her wall art, the only other 'crafty' project we worked on was updating her lamp. We were going to spray paint it with a glittery gold paint, but it didn't cover the black. So, rather than toss it and buy a new one, we decided to add trim to it and make it more feminine.

Trim + hot glue gun + clip on hair bow = brand new (not new) lamp!

We also added another one of the crystal thingies to the bow to match the crystal thingies in the headboard.

Yay! We did it! And she's happy with it so that's what matters. Well, that and the fact that her closet is no longer BRIGHT GREEN.
Now to find a swinging chair to hang from the ceiling!

Kitchen Renovation Part 2

So, here's our nearly finished/newly renovated kitchen!
Still a few projects left, but for the most part it's DONE!
Here's a few reminders of the before.
The wall that was on the right, separating the living room and kitchen, is gone!
We took all the uppers from the left side down and replaced them with brick pavers and open shelving.
From the column over to the right is where the wall was. We added pendant lighting and a granite topped island there instead. We pretty much only eat at the bar now, so we've decided our kitchen table is fairly useless unless we have company over. I think we're going to turn that area into a coffee lounge! Actually, I think we're going to build a bench seat and put in a farm table there, but that's a project for another day!
The bricks were a bit ambitious for us. And if I'm being honest, I won't do it again.
Like, ever.
It was a lot more work than we anticipated. And fairly costly.
I love the way it turned out! I just didn't enjoy the process.
It was hard!

We thought we would save money buying the bricks in whole form (since we couldn't find pavers ANYWHERE!) We chose old bricks. These actually are 100 year old bricks that came off a warehouse in Chicago. You can still see the paint and mortar still on the bricks. These were hand scraped and salvaged and were absolutely gorgeous and shabby and just the look we wanted for our wall. But had to be cut in half...twice. So we were able to get two pavers from each brick.
This meant standing in front of a wet saw for 8 hours a day times 3-4 days. In the rain. In the cold. Getting covered in brick soot. Ears ringing.
I was nearly in tears after the first day and finally gave up saying I was way too old to work this hard!
So, my man took over.
And he cut and cut and cut and cut. Until finally, some 500 bricks later...

We were able to start putting them on the wall.
I started off slow but then got the hang of it and within a few days I managed to get one full section done. After that I decided to pace myself and did about 30-40 bricks per day. Letting each section dry before starting a new section to make sure our rows were level.

Since we wanted to remove the vent hood, we had to cut out some drywall over the stove and re-wire for a new light, and then brick around it.
I then sealed each brick...twice. With a 'before grouting' sealer, and an 'after grouting' sealer. These sealers were $30 each. But they did a fabulous job of making the bricks waterproof (especially for around the sink) and smooth (nothing flakes off when you run your hands over them). Love love this product.
But, like I said, this was a big expensive project. Don't google DIY brick walls and be fooled by those folks out there saying it's easy and inexpensive. They're lying. The results are gorgeous. But it's not cheap and it's not easy. And grouting those 3/4 inch grout lines was messy as hell. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to quit and just go buy the plain white subway tiles and be done with it! I mean seriously...we did this entire wall all the way to the ceiling! On both sides of the kitchen!
But, it's unique and gave our boring old kitchen some much needed character!
And I love having the open shelves. In a small galley kitchen like this it makes it feel much more open and roomy. We don't have much 'stuff' in our kitchen so storage wasn't really much of a concern. In fact, the open shelves hold more than the previous cabinets did and with the addition of the island, we now have several empty cabinets and drawers. We're pretty good at only having what we need, and having less storage space forces us to keep the clutter to a minimum. It works for us.

We continued the brick onto the opposite wall over to the fridge. We, ahem, haven't grouted any of that side yet. We sorta came down with renovation burn-out. It'll get done in a few weeks (wink wink)
The column that we left when we removed the wall got a fresh coat of chalkboard paint. We left it as plain drywall (rather than putting texture on it) so we would have a smooth surface...

So we could use it as a chalkboard and leave notes to each other. The kids get a kick out of it.

Found this idea on Pinterest. Found the magazine racks on Amazon. Works great for produce and saves us the counter space.

The apron sink is my favorite part of the reno. We're still working on the framing that goes around it. I'll post pics when it's completed.


The island was built out of the upper and lower cabinets that were removed when the wall came out. The uppers were a different height, so we took the doors off, painted the inside, and built a box under them to raise them up.
Once it was all painted and the kick panels and trim work was added, you can't tell it was even two pieces, much less recycled cabinets!
Overall, while it was a lot of work, we are happy with the results and even happier that it's OVER!
Now on to the next projects! :)