Category: Craft Projects

I love DIY and craft projects and am always in the look out for my next weekend project. Here I share my recent home improvement endeavors, DIY decorations for showers and parties, as well as the artsy things I come up with to try and entertain my kids.

Living in 1400 square feet with a family of four, plus two dogs, has encouraged me to be creative with our space. Over the years I have found new ways to maximize our space and keep our home updated. In addition to my side job as DIY home improver, I am also an art teacher and mom. I often take the projects I teach in my high school classroom, and make adjustments for in home projects to encourage creativity and play in my kids. My art teacher background also spills over when I plan shower, birthday parties, and other events. With two siblings and five sibling-in-laws we have had a number of bridal and baby showers over the years. I can’t host one of these events without throwing in my own DIY spin on things. Read about these topics in the posts below.

Do you have a great project you would like to share? E-mail me at [email protected] about teaming up for a guest post.

Weekend Projects: Converting Our Dining Room to a Playroom

The chalkboard wall I added to my kids' playroom.

A little over a year ago we handed over another room of our tiny 1400 square foot house to our little boy and it all started with a teepee.

While deciding what to get Cooper for his first real Christmas (the previous year he was a tiny 6 weeks old) I discovered the most adorable (and on sale) teepee from Crate and Barrel’s The Land of Nod. I had to have it.

When the teepee arrived it came in multiple, very large boxes, and it occurred to me that we didn’t have a single spot to put the very adorable teepee. Cooper’s room was already at the brink of full with his crib, changing table, and glider. Our front bedroom was still functioning as a guest bedroom, and a teepee didn’t quite fit the decor.

As I looked around, brainstorming ideas for where this was going to go, I really began noticing the overflowing basket of toys in our living room. I realized this was just the beginning. Cooper had only just learned how to walk, and already our house was overrun with his stuff. It was just going to get worse. I told Nick that I was going to try rearranging things and he was just going to have to trust me. I promised we would put everything back if it didn’t work.

But really, what we both knew was my mind was made up. We were saying goodbye to our rarely used (but nice to have around) dining room.

Our dining room before it was converted into our kids' playroom.

Our house was built in the 1940’s with a screened in porch on the side. We aren’t sure when, but at some point before we purchased the house the porch was converted into an interior space. It still has the feel of a former porch, it’s long and narrow. You have to step down through the doorway to access it, and the windows are big and beautiful, letting in amazing natural light. It isn’t very poorly insulated. As Nick likes to put it, in winter you can feel the heat leaving your body if you are sitting next to the doorway to the room.

The only time the room was used was when I was making art and we were entertaining guests. I couldn’t justify the space we use most, our living room, continuing to fill up with Cooper things when we had this space that could be better utilized. I started by moving the cloth covered chairs pictured above and the adorable white, round table that I loved in our kitchen (read about it in a visual journal post here) to our attic. I mourned the loss of those pieces of furniture for a moment before moving onto my next task, telling myself one day in a bigger house they would once again see the light of day. I moved the farm table and benches to our kitchen and paired them with the blue chairs that were already in there. The table ate up the small nook in our kitchen, but I ended up painting them white to help it feel less full.

Next, I added the cushy, letter and number floor mat to cover the hard tile. I cut them to make sure every inch of the tile was covered. When Nick saw me cutting up the mats I had just bought to “test whether or not this would work” I think he realized it was a done deal whether he liked it or not. The floor mats have served two useful purposes in that room. They help Cooper from getting less injured when he falls and it helps insulate the floor.

I already loved the turquoise color in the room, so I opted not to repaint the entire room. Instead, I added a full chalkboard wall to one wall. Cooper loves scribbling on it, and I loved adding the “Cow Jumped Over the Moon” poem to it.

The chalkboard wall in my kids' playroom.

We even have a space where we mark Cooper’s height. Kennedy will be up on the board before long! I also mark it on the door molding with a sharpie for a more permanent record than chalk.

After floor covering and painting, all that was missing was Cooper’s stuff. I didn’t realize how much stuff he actually had until it immediately filled up the room. We added a shelf for books and toys, as well as various baskets. His teepee looked amazing in the corner. I still haven’t figured out how to keep the room looking neat with all the scooters, bikes, and toys lining the walls, but if I am being honest with myself a playroom really shouldn’t ever look clean.

I kept a shutter that Nick found on the side of the road propped up against the wall. Someone painted “free at last” in purple on it. I love it. I have thought about adding to it, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. I love that this is exactly the way we found it, and I can’t decide if I want to touch it. I imagine the original artist painting the vines and text, only someone in good spirits would paint “free at last.” It adds good vibes to the room. Around the shutter I added some artwork that I have traded for at festivals over the years. One of my favorites is a piece by Lovely Bones Illustrations (follow her on Facebook here and Instagram here), a little creature painted on a cut piece of wood.

Cooper’s teepee fits perfectly in the corner and is always full of pillows, stuffed animals, and a Cooper from time to time.

While I wish we still had a more comfortable place to sit and break bread with friends, I would never go back on covnerting the playroom. Having a space where Cooper can play freely is invaluable. It also helps to have a room where I can toss his stuff without thinking twice about the way it looks.

This is Cooper Christmas morning when he got his teepee:

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Check out my other chalkboard paint project here. Want to read more? Get these posts delivered right to your inbox by subscribing in the form below. Thanks for stopping by!

Homemade Valentines with a Toddler (and paint)

This year is the first year Cooper gets to celebrate Valentine’s day at school. Last year, as a one year old, he was a little too young to participate in the festivities. But this year, he gets to exchange valentines in the big kid room. We were asked to bring in 19 valentines to exchange with all the students at his daycare. I decided while he is still young enough to not have an opinion about what valentines to bring, we would make our own. Plus the art teacher/mom in me thought it would be fun to have a craft project over a very rainy weekend. 

We started by using the easel he got for Christmas. I limited his color choices to pink, white, and silver, gave him two brushes, and let him go to town. I did encourage him to cover the entire page, but other than that, this was 95% Cooper painted. I decided to use the paper that came with his easel since it was large and already attached to the easel, but if I could go back I would’ve used a thicker paper instead.

We painted two large sheets of paper using pink, white, and silver, then let them dry overnight. The next day we flipped them over and painted the back of the sheets with red and glitter red paint. I was much smarter first time around, having Cooper paint without a shirt on. I forgot to take his very white shirt off before painting with very red paint. Luckily, we were using washable paint, so the paint that inevitably ended up all over his shirt came out after just one wash.

After we finished painting and the paint had dried, we started adding some other decorations. One of Cooper’s favorite parts was stamping with the heart stamp.

Next, I began cutting up the sheets of paper into smaller valentine size pieces.

After cutting and folding them, we punched out heart and star shapes. I kept the pink and white on the outside and red on the inside so the heart cut outs would pop. The heart puncher was very hard to push down, so I handled those, while cooper added the stars.

After we punched, added a few more stamps, and some colored pencil scribbles, I had Cooper put a sparkly heart sticker on the inside of each one.

This year I handled the name signing. We will work on his alphabet so maybe he can sign a few next year.

To finish them off we stuffed them in envelopes with a handful of sparkly, foam, Valentine themed stickers.

I love the homemade look of these valentines. I know this will probably be one of the only times I get the chance to do this. I’m sure Cooper will be seduced by the action heroes, minions, and other fun characters that cover the not as fun and unique valentines in the stores. Until then, I will soak up every minute of craft time with my little.

I hope you enjoyed this Valentine post on Valentine’s day. Help me spread the word about crafting with littles, art, visual journals, and all things crafty by sharing it with others. Thanks for stopping by!

Adventures in making homemade valentines with a two year old, and paint, and stamps, and stickers, and so much more.

Five Years of Quirky Christmas Cards

Five years of DIY quirky Christmas cards. These Christmas cards are not your typical perfect, smiling family. Instead, they look to make you laugh through the creative ways the entire family (kids, dogs, chickens, and all) are are put together.
FIve years of Christmas cards.

For the past five years I have been making my own Christmas cards to send out to family and friends. I enjoy putting my own spin on the traditional and I didn’t want to fall into the cookie cutter family photo and generic message that I found time and time again while perusing templates online. As the years have passed my cards have become more quirky and silly. Every year I look forward to compiling images into a new card design and every year I make sure to include the entire family, chickens and all.

Handmade Christmas card
A handmade Christmas card

The very first year I sent Christmas cards out was in 2013. Nick and I had been married two and a half years and I decided it was time to start a new Christmas tradition.

My very first card was my most complicated, I made everything by hand then scanned the completed card into the computer before sending it off to be printed. For the base, I collaged old book pages on a 8.5″X11″ sheet of paper. I then printed the words “Merry Christmas” in different fonts onto the collaged paper. Next, I ripped it up and layered it on card stock cut to the size of a postcard. I then printed one of our engagement pictures on a laster printer, and created a Mod Podge transfer of the image. Read the specifics on how to create Mod Podge image transfers here. I wanted the edges of the image to blend into the background, so I matched the color in the picture with colored pencils and scribbled on the edge of the image to blend it out. I then layered ripped up book pages, pieces of the printed image, and discolored paper on the right side of the front to create a space to put text. I did the same on the back of the card to create another space for text. Once the collage was done, I scanned it into the computer. I then used Photoshop to add the words on the front and back.

When my creation was finally complete, I sent them off to a local printer and had them printed out postcard style, with the image on the front and back.

For Christmas 2014, I did more digital editing on the front of the card, while I kept the collaged look on the back. For the back, I once again printed a sheet of paper that had “Merry Christmas” repeated. I glued this to a postcard size base. I then ripped up book pages and off-white paper to create a space for text. Next, I cut out pictures of our two puppies and 4 chickens, a new addition to our household. I glued the cut out images to the back then scanned the image into the computer. Once the image was scanned in, I used Photoshop to add the text.

For the front of the card I used another picture from our engagement photo session. I added the green scribbles using the paintbrush tool in Photoshop. I then scanned in a strip of ripped up book pages with a strip of off-white paper glued on top. I took the image, removed the background, and layered it on top of the green scribbles. I then added the text on top.

Once Christmas 2015 rolled around I decided it was time to move away from the book page collage look and try something new. Both the back and front were completely done using Photoshop.

For the front I simply added text on top of a picture of our newborn son, Cooper. For the back I added text around one edge of our family photograph. I added pictures of our chickens and puppies on the right side, to help balance out the text. For the animal pictures, I used a magnetic lasso to cut them out, then removed the background. If you save a file as a .png, it will keep the background transparent when you add it to another file. It took awhile for me to cut out each animal head, but the end result was worth the time.

Once the images were complete, I send them off to my local printer. I did have an issue with the text being cut off, a hard lesson to learn. For future cards I tried not to put the text so close to the edge.

The Christmas 2016 card is still my favorite to date. I love the simple, yet quirky look. Like my 2015 card, I layered text on top of a picture in Photoshop. For the back, I cropped pictures of all our chickens, dogs, and Cooper to squares and converted them to black and white images. It ended up being the perfect number to fill the space. Our little family grew between 2015 and 2016 from 4 chickens to 11, 2 dogs to 3, while our child count stayed at one. With so many new members of our family to include, it was a bit of a puzzle to work it out. On the right side of the card I included another human only family picture. There was just enough space between the two sections of pictures to include the text.

This year, our family once again grew with the addition of baby girl Kennedy. I love this card mainly because of the amazing Santa picture, thanks to Jeff Roffman. I wanted a picture with Kennedy, Cooper, and Santa on the front, but the picture of Cooper and Santa was too priceless to not include it. I opted to make it the main picture, and added a smaller circle cropped image of sweet Kennedy snoozing with Santa. Needless today, neither child told Santa what they wanted this year. The circle picture and text were both added using Photoshop.

On the back I once again ventured into the world of picture cut outs. I once again used the magnetic lasso tool in Photoshop to remove the background of pictures of all our chickens and pups. I wanted it to look like they were sitting behind Nick, so I layered one version of our family photo in the background, added the animals, then layered another family picture on top, with the background cut out where the animals were placed. I then added a transparent white rectangle on the left and layered text on top.

In addition to Christmas cards, I have also designed my own birthday and shower invitations. I have plans to create a post about all the crafts I did for Cooper’s first birthday. Be on the look out for that in the near future. The bottom image is a shower invitation I designed for my brother and sister-in-law. I created blog posts about a fabric tassel and personalized photo banners I made to decorate for their shower.

Check out my other Christmas crafts below:

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Thanks for checking out my blog post about my annual Christmas cards. Help me spread the word about Christmas crafts by sharing on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!

Five years of DIY quirky Christmas cards. These Christmas cards are not your typical perfect, smiling family. Instead, they look to make you laugh through the creative ways the entire family (kids, dogs, chickens, and all) are are put together.

Baby’s First Christmas Ornament

We welcomed baby number two, sweet Kennedy Elise, into our family on November 21st, 2017. Cooper was born almost exactly two years prior, on November 12th, 2015. After Cooper’s arrival, I realized I needed to get a “baby’s first Christmas” ornament for him. After a great deal of research and browsing, I came up empty handed. All of the ornaments I found were either too cheesy, too frilly, or too cookie cutter. I decided that rather than buying something pre-made, I needed to put my craftiness to use and make my own.

I found a beautiful, handmade glass blown ornament from an Etsy seller, which was much more my style than anything I had seen up to that point. Once the ornament arrived, I painted Cooper’s foot, pressed it to the ornament, and wrote the date. In less than five minutes (not including baking time to set the paint) his personalized ornament was complete. I blogged about the process here.

When Kennedy was born, I decided it was time to plan for her ornament as well. I found another amazing Etsy seller and purchased this glass ornament from Oregon. I didn’t want the standard pink just because she was a girl, and instead purchased this beautiful iridescent ornament. Once it arrived, I collected my other supplies: white paint (choose a type that sets on glass when baked in the oven), a medium sized paintbrush, a thin paintbrush, and a baby foot.

STEP ONE:

Wait for your sweet angel baby to fall into a deep slumber.

STEP TWO:

Paint the bottom of the foot using the medium size paintbrush and quickly press it to the ornament.

STEP THREE:

Clean up any smears, etc. and add the birthday using the thin paintbrush.

STEP FOUR:

Follow the instructions on your paint bottle on how to set the paint on the glass surface.

Hang your ornament and enjoy!

STEP FIVE:

Get those sweet baby snuggles.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about craft projects, Christmas cheer, and all things artsy by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!

Check out some of my other Christmas crafts below:

A Felted Christmas: DIY Christmas Garland

There is nothing I love more than a holiday craft project, and every year I look for a new craft project to add to my Christmas decor collection. After pulling out my hand me down fake greenery garland from the mid 1990’s, I decided it was time for an upgrade. A do it yourself Christmas garland was bumped to the top of my craft to do list.

FELT GREENERY GARLAND

I love the look of crafty and homemade (while still looking well made) decoration. For me, felt embodies that look. For both my greenery garland and ball garland, I selected felt as the base material.

SUPPLIES:

  • Two different shades of green felt
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine (optional, although recommended)

HOW TO:

STEP ONE: Cut strips of the felt into 1/2″ wide sections. The length doesn’t matter, although you want it as long as possible to save time connecting pieces together. The strips of fabric will serve as the base to connect the felt leaves to, to create the garland.

Select one color felt to use as the base, or alternate between the two colors.

STEP TWO: Connect the ends of your 1/2″ strips together to create one long piece. Use a sewing machine or hand sew the pieces together. The length of the garland is up to you. I created one long piece, approximately 5 feet long, and two shorter pieces, approximately 2 feet long.

STEP THREE: Cut the rest of the fabric into leaf shapes, ovals with pointed ends. For my garland, I wanted larger leaves so I cut them approximately 2 inches wide, at the wides point, and 3-4 inches long.

STEP FOUR: Sew the leaves onto the strip of felt. For a cleaner look, keep the leaves pointing the same direction, but alternate which side of the felt strip you connect the leaves to.

STEP FIVE: Hang your garland on your fireplace, around your bannister or place it on a shelf for an easy, festive look.

FELT BALL GARLAND

SUPPLES:

  • 1″ red felt balls (you can easily change the size depending on the look you are going for)
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread

HOW TO:

STEP ONE: Thread your needle, knot the end of the string, and string the red balls together.

STEP TWO: Hang your garland! I opted to spread the red balls out along the thread in order to make it stretch further. If you want a solid string, plan ahead and order enough felt balls to do that.

tip: To avoid a tangled garland use thicker thread, hemp, or similar to string the felt balls. Plan ahead and have a larger eye needle on hand. 

Combine the two Christmas garlands together to create a red, green, and festive look.

tip: for storage, wrap the red ball Christmas garland around a wrapping paper tube. Tape the ends down to keep it in place. 

Thanks for taking the time to check out my two DIY Christmas garland projects. I look forward to using these year after year and adding to them with future holiday crafts. Help me spread the Christmas cheer by sharing on your social media of choice. Thanks for stopping by.