Posts Tagged ‘diy’

Desk Refresh

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Things have been tough at the old “day job” this year. I work for a large company that I really love, but there have been a lot of changes these past few months and not all of them were positive. For several weeks, I worried that I might be laid off and…well, to be honest, that was genuinely awful. I had six years’ worth of files and desk clutter plus some nervous energy to burn so one day I started to tidy up my desk. That led to purging emails, and that lead to cleaning out cabinets, which led to purging paper files and when I was done, I had an extremely empty desk. I slashed my stash of work documents down to the bare minimum and shuttled my personal items home to sit in a sad heap on my desk.

A few more weeks passed and I was not laid off (although some really amazing people I love were and that was unbearable). In the aftermath, I had to try to find some semblance of normal, but my desk was clinically sterile, morale was at an all time low and all of my creativity was sapped. That’s when I came across a bit of inspiration online entitled 54 Ways To Make Your Cubicle Suck Less. I felt like it was meant for me and I greedily devoured the ideas. Next I hit up Pinterest and compiled a page of inspired office spaces in black, gold and neutrals.

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I chose the color scheme because I liked it and because many of my desk accessories were already black from a prior attempt at improving the space. In addition, I’ve seen a lot of gold in decorating lately and I really like it. I figured with a little gold spray paint I could create some fun pieces to complete the look I was going for.

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First, I built the twine and clothespins photo holder featured in the article that inspired my desk revamp. For this project I simply picked up decorated clothespins and strung them on twine. This allows me to display photos and change them out easily. I have more pins if I want to add more photos and it lets me keep things fresh. One thing I noticed while shopping is that there are a finite number of choices in pre-decorated clothespins. If you find there aren’t any you like you can use washi tape over undecorated clothespins to customize your look.

The moment I saw the gold Nate Berkus stapler was love at first sight. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. My old stapler was a red Swingline and I loved it as well, but this new one was just so shiny. I couldn’t resist. While I was at Target I scored some gold and white washi tape. I used the tape on a great free printable by Nicole Joelle that I framed and then accessorized my pencil cup and tape dispenser with the same tape to tie the elements together.

I may have shared before that I’m a plant slayer. I can’t keep a green thing alive to save my own life…until I met the succulent on my desk. This little guy’s tenacity has earned him a permanent space and I promise to water him once in a while and try really hard to keep him alive. In order to make my hardy little plant fit in with the theme of my desk, I added a few gold touches. For this project, I used a small terra cotta pot (available for less than $1 at Home Depot) and taped off the rim. Terra cotta isn’t easy to paint because it tends to flake so I used three coats of Krylon gold spray paint and Krylon crystal clear as a clear coat sealant. So far, the paint is staying put and it looks fantastic.

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I am fortunate to work in an office that allows pets. Often people will come to visit my desk with their furry little business partners in tow and I like to have something to welcome them properly. To make this cute little treat jar I simply super-glued a miniature dog to a metal jar lid and spray painted over it. In fact, when I first made this a few months ago I used turquoise paint. To update and make the piece sync with my desk refresh, the turquoise paint served as a primer coat for the gold I sprayed over it. It turns out my favorite part of this desk makeover was actually another makeover. If you decide to make yourself a treat jar – think dinosaurs, race cars or other small toys for people treats – be sure to get a spray paint that works well with plastic and metal so that the paint on your figurine doesn’t stay sticky to the touch.

All in all, I spent less than 2 hours and $50 on the projects shown here. The result is a desk that I’m proud to call home for 40 hours a week. It’s clean, functional, and comfortable. Most of all, it has a few special touches that make it all mine. Do you have some favorite items that make your workspace feel a little more like home? We love to hear from you, so please weigh in below in the comments.

Christina’s Project Life Album

Friday, March 14th, 2014

I’m a total pack rat. Throughout my thirty years on this planet I’ve compulsively collected postcards, tickets stubs and dried flowers, expired IDs, sea shells and playbills. Tiny bits that combine to form a mosaic of memories. Scrapbooking has always been a big part of my life. I used to save my lunch money to buy craft supplies. Back then scrapbooking was a humble hobby – within the pages of my early albums created during Jr. High and High School years are lots of photos, stubs, stamps and other little scraps.

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Rob & I honeymooned in Mexico several months after our wedding, it was a dreamy vacation filled with street tacos and cold beer, walks along cobble stone streets and lazy days on the sand. The photos and mementos from our trip have been sitting in a box waiting to be scrapbooked for nearly four years. One of my 2014 goals is to capture more memories – what better way to start than to create an album as special as our trip?

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I’d wanted to try Project Life for a few years now, but was always intimidated by the thought of creating an album that would document a year of my life. I didn’t know if I had the crafty attention span to make it a whole year! After perusing Pinterest, Google images and lots of Project Life-focused blogs I decided to test the waters with a mini album. I put an album, core kit and a few other supplies on my Christmas list – Santa spoiled me and brought everything I needed to get started.

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It took me a few months to unpack all of my goodies and dive in, but for the last few weeks, I’ve had so much fun working on my mini album. I’m using the Project Life Sunshine Core Kit designed by Elsie & Emma from A Beautiful Mess. The cards from this kit feature bright, cheery colors and imperfect, quirky patterns. They remind me of Mexico! I love the pocket pages because I can work on more than one page layout at a time, which is ideal for crafters like me with a short attention span.

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I’ve corralled all of my supplies into a small basket, partially so that I can work on my album in my art room or move out to the back patio when the weather’s nice and partially to keep me from hoarding too many supplies. Aside from the Sunshine Core Kit, so far my favorite supplies have been SN@P! Studio Pocket Pages, my Dymo Embossing Label Maker and the Dear Lizzy 5th & Frolic Stamp from American Crafts.

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I think I love scrapbooking so much because every time you sit down to work on a page layout, you get to relive lovely memories!

Have you tried Project Life before? What are your favorite supplies?

Ginger Whiskey Cocktail

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

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A couple years ago one of my co-workers brought in a few cans of ginger ale along with a box of saltine crackers to ease an office full of upset stomachs – we were all miserable with the flu. I’d never tried it before – but a few sips later my tummy felt a bit better and I was hooked. Ginger ale is a staple ingredient for lots of my favorite cocktails, I use it in my brunch punch and it goes really well with spiced apple whiskey, too. I brought home a four pack of Bruce Cost Unfiltered Ginger Ale a couple of weeks ago and I can’t stop drinking it. It’s more spicy than it is sweet and you get little chunks of fresh ginger in each sip. Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with recipes and loved the way it tasted paired with honey whiskey.

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Ginger Whiskey Cocktail, serves one

Ginger Ale
2 oz. Honey Whiskey
Lemon Juice

Add ice to your glass and fill halfway with ginger ale. Add 2 ounces of honey whiskey. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into your drink and save a slice for the garnish. Stir well and top off with ice and ginger ale.

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Cheers!

P.S. Check out this post for a list of bar cart essentials and tips for stocking your bar cart on a budget.

Upcycled Toys

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Living a more eco-conscious life means looking for opportunities to use what you have more often and buy new stuff less often. Upcycling, or “making stuff” as our grandparents called it, is a great way to use what you might otherwise discard and create a new, better thing from the materials. In my view, to count as a successful upcycle, an item needs to use something that would otherwise be waste and the end product should be different and better/cuter/more useful than the components it is made from.

I scoured Pinterest for cool upcycled toy projects and found mixed results. Some projects were super basic – give your kid a big box and tell her it is a rocket ship. Give her an empty oatmeal canister to use as a drum. That’s cool, but it’s not upcycling. Kids need to play with empty boxes, build forts out of bed sheets, and ward off foes and fiery dragons with nothing more than their courage, a cereal box shield and a wrapping paper-roll-turned-broadsword. Imaginative, unscripted play is vital to the development of a child’s imagination. So, while I 100% support reusing things, for this collection I disqualified pins I don’t see as true upcycles.

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Sumo Bowling Pins — These little guys, made by Leslie at Pink Stripey Socks rock my world. I’m searching fervently for the little aquapod bottles so I can make a set for my daughter. I realize it is technically cheating to buy a product just to upcycle the packaging but these guys are so cute that I can’t resist. I mean look at them! Can you blame me?

DIY TV Toy — This crafty upcycle has amazing DIY instructions to turn a tissue box into a toy TV with customized “channels” for your kiddo to change or create. Playing with this toy is a great way to switch off the electronics and use imagination instead.

DIY I-Spy Bottle — I saw my first I-Spy bottle about a year ago and I thought it was such fun. It was the kind you buy from the store with the little beads and wee plastic tchotchskies inside. Where was this invention when I was a kid on car trips? This version uses stuff you find around the house and in the dreaded junk drawer. It’s made with found materials and if you buy your rice in bulk, this toy will cost just pennies to make.

Super Hero Bracelets — These power cuffs a la Wonder Woman are made from spent toilet tissue rolls, glitter and Mod Podge. The tutorial is high quality and includes some pro-tips from the creator’s experience. Just last week my two-year-old appeared from her room dressed in a Yo Gabba Gabba tee-shirt paired with her Hello Kitty tutu and Darth Vader mask. My husband was never more proud. This is a child in desperate need of Bracelets of Victory to complete her look.

Recycle Sort Game — This is maybe the easiest to make of all of the toys and games I found. I love it for being a practical, customizable teaching tool. Want your kids to understand what goes in the trash and what goes in the recycle bin? Make a game of it – literally.

Do you have some favorite upcycled toy ideas? How about fond memories of playing with a sweet cardboard box? We got a brand new avocado green dishwasher in ’81 and I probably got 100 hours of fun out of that carton. The Wilderness Girls love hearing your thoughts so please share them in the comments below.

Laundry Room Inspiration

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

When we moved into our house in the fall of 2012, none of the walls were painted. The builder wanted to charge a few thousand dollars to paint the interior walls and ceilings. Rob & I were convinced it would be no big deal to do the painting ourselves. We might have underestimated the amount of work that was ahead of us. More than a year later, we still have a few rooms left to paint.

Originally a makeover for the laundry room was pretty low on our home project to-do list. It wasn’t until Rob installed the garage door opener a few weeks ago that it got bumped way up that list. We have to walk through the laundry room to get to the garage and now every morning I walk through that drab, vanilla colored room and think “this room needs color!”

This should be a quick and easy makeover. The room is small and it’s a utilitarian space so no tchotchkes allowed. Instead I’ll focus on adding color to the room through paint and framed art. To keep the room neat and tidy, I plan to add storage bins and hang cabinets. I’ve put together a board that includes the inspiration photos, colors, art and DIY projects that I’ll use to bring the room together.

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1. Make it Yours Print
2. DIY Laundry Soap Storage
3. Brushed Rose by Valspar
4. Plum & Bow Zooey Dot Rug
5. Locker Basket
6. Alabax Medium Light
7. White Penny Tile
8. Nova Trellis Wall Stencil
9. Black & White Wall Hook

I’ve just started this project and I’m planning to do a few update posts along the way as projects are completed. Here is my to-do list:

* empty out room
* paint walls & ceiling
* stencil wall
* hang cabinets
* buy rug
* change out light fixture
* buy new storage bins
* DIY laundry soap storage
* hang art & household organizer
* install tile

Our Favorite Champagne Cocktails

Friday, December 27th, 2013

I can’t believe Christmas is over! Soon, we’ll be counting down – 3..2..1..2014! You’ll need a festive, fizzy drink to toast the new year. As promised in last week’s post, I’m back to share a few of the Wilderness Girls favorite champagne cocktails. Make one the signature drink for your New Years Eve celebration, or set out a variety of fruits (pomegranate seeds, strawberries, raspberries, clementines) and let your guests design their own champagne cocktail.

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Jenny’s Pick: Peach Bellini

6 oz. Prosecco
3 oz. Frozen Peach Purée
Peach Slices (for garnish)

Combine prosecco and peach puree in a chilled champagne glass. Garnish with peach slices.

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Rachael’s Pick: Prosecco with Fruit
adapted from an Italian Bella Vita Recipe

6 oz. Prosecco
2-3 Clementine Slices
Pomegranate Seeds

Place clementine slices and pomegranate seeds in a champagne glass. Pour prosecco over fruit.

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Christina’s Pick: Brunch Punch

6 oz. Champagne
3 oz. Orange Juice
Splash Ginger Ale
Splash Grenadine
1 Maraschino Cherry (for garnish)

Pour champagne into mason jar; add orange juice and ginger ale. Slowly add grenadine and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Cheers!

I Pinned It, I Did It: Memory Jar

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

I am going to come clean with you about something. Two years ago I gave a Memory Jar as a Christmas gift for my wonderful hubs, Bryan. I pinned it, I did it, and it was an utter failure.

The Memory Jar is one of those pins that you see and think “This is so easy to put together. I am on it!” You are right. It is easy to put together. You just need a large jar, slips of paper, and a pen. I even went so far as to order a custom stamp with our monogram on it, and bought fancy-pants cards from a stationary store so that the slips would look pretty all jumbled in the jar.

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Christmas morning came, Bryan opened his gift, and loved the idea. We sat the jar, slips of paper, and a pen on our piano, and there it sat. When Christmas morning 2012 rolled around, we opened the jar, and a sad pile of four cards sat there. All written by yours truly. A far cry from the stuffed-to-the-brim version you see on Pinterest. It was fun to read the memories, all of which we had forgotten, and we swore that 2013 was going to be different.

We were right. This year there is not one single slip of paper in that jar. Zilch. Zero.

I am sharing this story because I think that oftentimes we, the blogging community, post these amazing and spectacular projects, and it may appear that we never fail. Well, guess what? We do. Sometimes spectacularly. I chalk this failure up to my delusion that memories would magically appear in that jar without much effort. Not surprisingly, I ended this year with an empty jar.

What do you do when something you really were excited about fails? You can do one of two things: admit defeat, or give it another try. I am going with the second option. The hubs and I had a talk, and that jar is going to go back on the piano (I put it in the cupboard around mid-November, because looking at it was bumming me out), and we are going to put at least one memory each week into it. That’s the plan, at least. If it doesn’t happen this year, we will finally admit defeat.

Wish us luck!

Thrifty Gifting: DIY Bulk Gifts

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Every year it happens. You make your list. You check it twice. You get gifts for everyone, naughty and nice. Then you walk into work to discover that a co-worker has left a gift on your desk. Panic sets in as you realize that there are quite a few people that you didn’t include on your master holiday list that you will want to give a small gift to — co-workers, neighbors, friends you don’t see on a regular basis, etc. How do you cover all your bases without breaking the bank? The answer: DIY bulk gifts.

DIY bulk gifts are economical, time-saving (because you pick one item to mass produce), and are often more meaningful to the recipient, since you took the time to make the item yourself. Pinterest is chock-full of great ideas for bulk gifts — including many non-food items.

Here are my tips for choosing a bulk gift project:

* Before committing to a project, read the instructions in their entirety. Only choose projects you feel you can tackle. The holidays are busy enough as it is, so choosing a complicated project will only lead to frustration (and, if you are like me, tears).
* Decide how you are going to package your gift. Will you use mason jars? Small glass vials? Tins? Decorative take-out containers? Items like salts or oils can be given in a small container with an air tight seal. Cookies, granola or larger perishables can be stored in a larger jar or tin. Items like soaps could be left open and tied with a ribbon.
* Decide if any supplemental items are needed. Supplemental items include a tag with a list of ingredients in the item, how to use the item, or for items like vanilla extract or infused liquors, the date that the recipient can start using it.
* Buy all your items and pick a date for production. Pick something that you can easily knock out in an afternoon, and book that afternoon for yourself ahead of time. If you have kids, picking a project they can help with will make them feel like they are contributing, and could become an annual family tradition.
* Wrapping the items — keep it simple. With a handmade gift, one of the beauties is that elaborate wrapping is not needed. Print a label, or gift tag, and tie the item with a simple bow.

Below are some of my favorite finds for simple, but awesome, homemade gifts that you can produce for your holiday gifts:

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* Chalkboard Mug filled with chalk, hot chocolate, marshmallows and a candy cane
* Raspberry Lemon Sugar Scrub
* Peppermint Soap
* Spice Rubs/Mixtures (Chicken, Pork, Ranch Dressing)
* Homemade Granola (Make sure to check that your recipient doesn’t have a nut or grain allergy before gifting this.)
* Vanilla Salt
* Poppin’ Pedicure Set (This clever spa kit was created by TWG Christina.)

This year I will be making sets of the vanilla salts and vanilla extract from Joy the Baker’s site because I know a lot of people who love to cook and bake. I will put them in jars, and include a list of ways to use the salt, as well as a recipe for Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies that Joy recommends using the salt with. If you are doing something like a vanilla salt, where someone may struggle with figuring out a use for it, I find including a recipe or list of suggested uses is a great way to ensure that they feel comfortable trying it out.

Have any great bulk gift ideas that you have made or received in the past that aren’t mentioned here? Leave your comments below. Happy gifting!

Quick Gift Idea: Poppin’ Pedicure Set

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Have you ever been handed a sweet little package by someone who wasn’t on your gift list? I just hate that! While I believe it’s the thought that counts, I like to keep a stash of little gifts I can give in return as a way to say thank you.

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Supplies needed: toilet paper roll, gift wrap, scissors, tape, ribbon, nail polish & pedicure tools. 1. Cut a piece of gift wrap a couple inches wider than the toilet paper roll (this will allow you to tie the ends off). 2. Wrap the toilet paper roll and secure with a small piece of tape, leaving both ends open. 3. Tie off one end of the popper with ribbon. 4. Place pedicure tools inside the popper. 4. Tie off the open end of the popper with ribbon. 5. Fluff ends.

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These little pedi poppers would make great gifts for neighbors, co-workers or your boyfriend’s best friend’s new girlfriend. They don’t have to be filled with pedicure tools either. Fill them with candy, art supplies, or even a cute pair of earrings.

I can’t wait to make more!

My Thanksgiving Table: One Place Setting, Three Ways

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

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I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is only a week away! This year, we’re staying in Arizona and will be hosting a small group for dinner at our house. Though we’ll be a tiny bunch, I still want dinner to feel special, and plan to set a charming table.

As I played around with different color and theme options for my table, I thought about my post from last week. I wanted to stay true to my concept of decorating for the holidays by combining pieces I already own with items that can be used throughout the year, for more than one holiday.

I thought that it would be a fun challenge to style one place setting three ways. I started with the basics, a muslin tablecloth, burlap placemat, white dishes, mason jar cup with a black and white striped paper straw and simple enamel flatware.

White, Brown, Gold & Black

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I love that this place setting is rustic with a touch of glitz. The place mat and napkin were both made with fabric purchased from Joann Fabrics, I left the edges raw. The pumpkin is from the dollar spot at Target (I covered it with gold glitter) and the place card was made using a simple manila tag, stamped with a sweet message and tied with twine.

White, Brown, Green & Black

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For this place setting, I flipped the polka dot place mat over to create a more subdued vibe. The napkin was made with fabric purchased from Joann Fabrics. I painted a little pumpkin black and for the place card, I stitched my guest’s name onto a simple manila tag (using embroidery thread) and tied it around a mason jar with yarn.

White, Brown, Ikat & Gold

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This might be my favorite place setting of the three! The simple burlap place mat stayed (though I think it would look great with the polka dot side up too). The napkin was made with fabric purchased from Joann Fabrics. I reused the glittery gold pumpkin and stamped a delicate white feather with the word “thankful”. The place card was made using a simple manila tag, stamped with my guest’s name and tied around a mason jar with yarn.

Are you doing anything special to personalize your Thanksgiving table this year?