Favorite Projects of 2011

I hope you are all enjoying the holidays!  I'm almost too late, but wanted to squeeze in one last post for the year, to share with you some of my favorite projects of 2011.  I would share my top 10 posts, but they are mostly Christmas crafts and I think it's more fun to see projects from throughout the whole year.

When I posted my burlap bubble wreath, I had no idea what kind of reaction it would get.  I joked that I wanted to bring back the 90's bubble wreath and I think it's safe to say now that it's back!   It was so fun to watch it spread through the blogosphere and to hear from those of you who made one!

I love, love, love this shelf!!!  Wish I'd made it sooner.  I also wish I could remember it's there!  
(Be careful of the corners, they will hurt you if you back up into them.  I know!)

I put this together for Spring, but when I saw it the other day I decided it could be a little Winter bird as well and brought it back out of storage to use with my Winter decor. 

This year I completed my goal of making a subway art print for every major month/season, which was quite the task!  These are a few of my favorites. 

Fall Crate

It's hard to imagine that another year of blogging is almost over.  What a fun year it's been!  I've really loved getting to know you through visiting your blogs and through your thoughtful comments.   It's been so fun to find so many of you who share the same love for crafting as I do! 

Thanks for reading and for making this blog such a fun hobby for me!

Wishing you a happy and bright new year!

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$4 Christmas Centerpiece

You may have noticed that lately I've developed a love of using real wood in decorating.  I like the naturalness of it, the color, the texture, and that it makes a nice statement for little to no cost.

This is one of seven centerpieces that I put together to use at a church Christmas dinner.  The cost per centerpiece was only $4, and $2 of that was for the round place mat.

I started with seven slices from a log that were about 2 1/2" thick.  (My Dad was so great and cut them for me, using a chainsaw, on Thanksgiving Day while I was there visiting.) 

The candles are from a dollar store, are battery powered, and are made with real vanilla scented wax.  The candles have little tester buttons on them so you can see how they work before you buy them.  I taped down the tester button so I didn't have to spend money on batteries for just one dinner.  They stayed 'lit' on the little cell batteries through the whole dinner.  (I forgot to take the plastic cover off of the candle for the picture and I also added a jute bow around the candle.) 

I bought round place mats in red and green for $2 each, 2 packages of red ornaments from a dollar store, and $5 for the pine garland.  (I would have preferred real pine, but on a budget the faux pine had to do and will allow us to use the centerpieces again.)

The cute little pine cones are from my grandparents pine trees.  They were packed with thousands of these perfect little cones, it was like I was in pine cone heaven. :)

Since the pine cones came straight from the trees, I didn't want to chance bringing in little spiders and bugs so I followed Alison's directions over at House of Hepworths on how to kill the critters in pine cones and it worked great, I haven't seen any since.  I actually saw some teeny tiny bugs and spiders crawling out of the pine cones so I highly recommend baking them before use so you don't have any uninvited guests at dinner, can you imagine?  Not good!

I hope you are able to enjoy this time with your family and friends and in case you don't hear from me again in the next few days--

Happy Holidays!

Today's Fabulous Finds...How to Kill the Critters in Pine Cones and $4 Centerpieces

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Marshmallow Wonderland Christmas and Winter Mantels

Hi everybody, are you staying busy busy with all your holiday projects?  December is whizzing by so fast that I've only had time to make half of the things that I planned to.  New Christmas stockings for my mantel shelf were on my list of things to make, but they might have to wait until next year.  I'm just about out of time to get them done, it's crazy how fast the days are going by!  As I am writing this, my 5 year old just came in and said  "When will Christmas be here, it's taking for-e-ver."  Lol, wish my Christmas would come as slow as his. :)

Christmas Mantel

So even without the new stockings, I wanted to show you my Christmas Mantel.  It's an expanded version of the Marshmallow Wonderland Vignette that I posted about earlier.  The subway art and trees alone were just not enough for such a large shelf .  I also wanted to display something for December that reflected more of the 'reason for the season'.

Winter Mantel

Here's a peek at how it will probably look in January with the Marshmallow World side of the subway art.  I may switch it up some.  The snowman family is carved from wood and was a sweet gift from a friend.

Scripture Subway Art

When I posted about my marshmallow wonderland vignette, I mentioned that I wanted to add another subway art to the back of the marshmallow world verse.   My sister directed me to a scripture that could be used for both Christmas and Easter or really at any time.  It's found in 1 John 4:9.  I fit it onto the boards as best I could, looking back I may have changed a couple of things, but I really love the scripture and it's message so I can overlook the spacing.

The subway art wasn't tall enough and didn't look quite right, so I set it on four small cut logs to give it some height. 

The rattan balls are from the dollar store and came in a pack of six.  I think they look like snowballs, so they were a fun addition.  They fit better with the Marshmallow World side of the subway art, but I think they still look okay with the Christmas theme.

The garland is from JoAnn's.  I only paid $10 for it on sale and it was enough for my mantel, to run across my stair rail, and also to put over a mirror. 

The 'snow' is just a low loft bonded batting that I cut to fit the top of the mantel shelf.

Berry Twig Wreath

As soon as I saw this wreath at JoAnn's, I knew it was just what I wanted.  I used a coupon and was able to buy it for only $20.

I bought the nest separate from the wreath and added some feathers to it.  I wanted to place a white dove in the nest, but could only find them in a box of 8.   Since I have no use for 8 doves (and the box was still $8 at 40% off,  I'm perfectly happy with just the feathers for now.  They add a little softness to the wreath and who knows maybe I'll find a little white or red bird on clearance to use next year.

Decorative Vinyl Plate

This was one of the easier projects.  I cut out a vinyl nativity silhouette in three colors, then put it on a plate from the dollar store.  The easel is also from the dollar store. The vinyl image is from the Silhouette store.


Click here for tutorials on each of the trees and the subway art.  You can learn how I made the mantel shelf here.

Well, that's it!  It's not your typical mantel, but I think it's uniqueness is what I love the most about it.   I still want to add some battery powered tea lights and of course the new stockings if I can get them sewn in time.   If I get it done I'll be sure to show you. :) 

Today's Fabulous Finds...Christmas and Winter Mantels

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned in this post for free in the hope that I would mention it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe my readers will enjoy. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Two Printable Christmas Countdowns--One Block {Neighbor Gift Idea}

I'm finally ready to show you what I'll be giving as one of my 'neighbor' gifts this year.  Are you ready for this? ...It's not just one Christmas Countdown, it's two Christmas Countdowns...but all in one!  

While one side is counting down to Santa's arrival...

...the other side of the block is counting up to celebrate Christ's birth. 
So as the snowflake falls...the star rises...and as the star rises...the snowflake falls, pretty exciting stuff! :)  Of course it doesn't need to be two-sided you could just use one of the prints and paint the back.  I just couldn't choose and thought why not just use both!

I'm also sharing 8x10 versions that you can easily print and put in a frame.  This countdown starts on December 15th so it's not too late to make one.  Plus it's a good excuse to deliver the gifts early before things get even busier as it gets closer to Christmas.

The marker will end on #1 on Christmas Eve.

(The actual print has a bit more space between the words and the frame, I didn't realize it would be so close when I printed this one.)

All the details...

Paint Color:  Apple 4-sample size from Valspar (Lowes).  It darkens A LOT with the stain over the top of it.  It will take two coats.  I like the uneven aged look, so I just rub it on with a rag.

Stain Color:  Minwax Dark Walnut

Star and Snowflake:  From a local craft store.  You could use anything for the marker really.  There are a lot of very cute miniature ornaments available.  You can even buy them at the dollar store.

Ribbon:  I used 1/8" white.  I tried to use jute and small ric-rac, but they don't move freely enough and tend to catch on the wood.

Eyelets:  Look for them in the scrapbooking section at the craft store.  You can buy gold and silver refill eyelets at JoAnn's in the notion section.

Distress Ink Pad:  Dark Walnut

Photo Paper:  Sometimes you can find it at the dollar store.  I prefer to print onto photo paper because the color is so much more vibrant.  I spray it with a matte clear acrylic sealer as a precaution so the ink doesn't smear when I Mod Podge over it.  I'm not sure if this is always necessary, but I haven't wanted to chance it. 

Updated to add:  I'm making 10 more of these and am having problems with the ink bleeding even with the clear acrylic spray.  The first block I made I used my favorite heavy weight premium photo paper (from Dollar Tree) and didn't have any problems at all.  The prints I'm working with now were printed on regular weight Kodak paper and I haven't been very impressed with the outcome.  (I had to redo them all with the Dollar Tree paper.)  The Kodak paper was thinner so every little bump in the wood showed up and the red ink smeared quite badly because it wasn't a high quality paper that I used.  (If you use a lazor jet printer or have the prints printed professionally at a photo center you won't have any problems with the ink smearing while applying the Mod Podge.)  I would highly recommend using a heavy premium weight photo paper or card stock if you are printing it at home, and spraying it with 3 light coats of Mod Podge's Clear Acrylic Sealer to prevent frustration.  

Block Size:  7 1/4 x 9"  I like to choose 2x8's in the 8' length (Lowe's are 7 1/4" wide, Home Depot's are only 7" wide.) because that length of board generally seems to be straighter.  If you get a really long board, from my experience, it tends to bow and twist.

Painting Directions:  I painted the countdown block using the same technique that I used to  paint my faux window.  It takes some time to layer it, but it's worth it to me because I really like the finished look.  Keep reading for the painting directions.

These prints are to be used

If you would like to share the countdown prints with your readers, I ask that you use one of the photos above and then link back here for the prints.
Please don't post the prints on your blog. Thank you! :)

Prints for a 7 1/4" X 9" Block: 
Print as an 8x10 and then trim to the blue background to fit the block.

Prints for an 8x10 Frame

Download PDF versions here

Edited to Add: At the last minute I decided I needed a poem to go with the countdown to explain what it was all about, so the day that they needed to be delivered, I wrote one. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it so keep that in mind as you read it. :) You are welcome to use it for your personal use if you'd like.

Download/Print the Poem in Google Docs here.

To download: You must first right click on the image and open it in a new window in it's highest resolution. Right click on the image, click on save image as to save it to your computer.  Open the image in your computers picture program.  Select to print it.  Choose letter size paper and then select to print it as an 8x10.  Unselect fit picture to frame if necessary.
Print them onto photo paper for the best quality prints.  (Check your dollar store for photo paper, I buy packages of 8- 8 1/2 x 11 sheets for only $1 at Dollar Tree.)

Assembling the Wood Block Countdown:  This is made in the same way as my Halloween Countdown except that there is a countdown (print and marker) on both sides.  
  • Cut a block that measures 7 1/4 x 9"x 2".
  • Sand it with an electric sander, rounding the corners so they aren't sharp.
  • Wipe the dust off with a damp paper towel and let it dry.
  • With a foam brush, apply stain over the entire block.  Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes and then rub off any excess stain.  Let it dry.
  • With a rag, rub the paint (whatever color you choose) onto the block everywhere that won't be covered up by the print.  You don't need to get the corners and edges much because you will be sanding it back off anyway so keep it light in those areas.
  • Paint two coats and let dry.
  • Sand the corners and edges to distress then wipe the block down with a damp paper towel.  Let dry.
  • With a rag, LIGHTLY rub some stain over the paint.  QUICKLY rub it right back off again with a clean part of the rag, rubbing it in some as you do so.  Let is dry some.  It doesn't need to be completely dry for the next step and can still be slightly tacky.
  • Take a cloth over the tip of your finger and dab it lightly in some white paint.  Don't use too much, just enough that it will leave a small streak when you rub your finger over the block.  Add a few random white accents over the block, rubbing them in a bit as you go.  Let it dry slightly.
  • Once more, lightly rub some stain over the white areas that you painted.  This makes the white look kind of silvery.
  • Spray the block with a matte clear acrylic sealer.

Drilling:  Mod Podge the top print on first and let dry.  When you drill the holes make sure the drill is exactly vertical so the prints will line up on both sides.   Use scissors to punch through the holes of the back print, match up the holes and Mod Podge it on to the back.  

*Please click over to the Halloween Countdown posts for the rest of the tutorial on how to add the print, the eyelets, and the marker.

Note:  If you choose to use a metal marker (the star), it takes a lot of hot glue to get it to stay on.  You may want to use a stronger glue that is intended for metal instead.

I'll be the first to admit that this countdown is a bit quirky, but I think it's fun, I hope you do to. :)

Today's Fabulous Find...Two Printable Christmas Countdowns--One Block.

I'm entering the CSI Projects' Neighbor Gift Challenge.

Visit thecsiproject.com

Linking up here:
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