DIY Christmas Ornaments

Well darned if I didn’t get into the holiday spirit this year! Or, more likely, looking at my sad, tiny fake tree with 5 ornaments on it was so depressing that I had to do something about it. Instead of retrieving the thousands of ornaments stashed away at my parents’ house waiting for me, I figured I’d make some more to add to the pile.

I found some patterns and ideas on Pinterest, naturally (they’re all pinned on my DIY board).

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Know anyone with two tiny hands and an even tinier head?

These tiny mittens (pattern here) and hat (steps here) just turned out so cute! And the best part was that they were so fast and easy to make (as opposed to some of my year-long adult-sized projects). The mittens probably took an hour each and the hat was even faster. These were also ideal for using up scraps of leftover yarn—I didn’t have to buy anything.

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Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how fake are your branches.

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This one came within an inch of running out of yarn. DRAMA.

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P.S. There’s a piece of toilet paper tube under there.

I had been on the hunt at Goodwill for a Scrabble set with the original wooden letters for so long that once I finally found one, I forgot what I wanted it for. So I’ve had a bag of the letters sitting around for a couple of years, and I finally put them to good use!

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Guess which one is my favorite.

These were super easy to make. I just hot glued the letters together and glued a piece of ribbon to the back. Again, a project where I didn’t have to buy anything—hooray! The only thing I don’t love is that the hot glue can look a little goopy in between the letters, so I think if I made them again, I’d use wood glue.

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Snow day vibes.

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Be careful who you give this to. You don’t want people to think you’re calling them fat.

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It had to be done.

Merry Christmas & happy holidays (sung to the tune of the ‘N Sync song, of course)!

Stenciled Scotland Messenger Bag

Have you ever wanted to stencil the name of a country you’ve never been to onto a thrift store messenger bag? I certainly have. So I did.

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Sunday morning in nowhere-near-Scotland vibes.

Like so many of my projects, this one has a long and storied past, but I’ll try to keep it succinct. I’m half Scottish and decided I needed to make a Scotland sweatshirt (I guess I forgot that the internet exists so that we don’t live like pilgrims making all the clothes we desire). I painstakingly made a stencil and stenciled it onto a sweatshirt and, don’t you know, it looked great. Then I washed and shrunk the sweatshirt so it no longer fit me. It was fun while it lasted. But I hung onto the stencil for a long time, just waiting for the perfect item on which to try again to fall into my hands. And then I found this canvas messenger bag at a thrift store. And THEN a few years went by and here we are today.

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The blank canvas (bag), perfect for carrying around heather and haggis.

So that’s what I started with. Actually, I should back up. I started with a printout of a crest and the word “Scotland” in the font I wanted, a blank sheet of stencil material, and an Exacto knife. That’s how the stencil came to be. It took forever, by the way.

I measured where I wanted to put the stencil so it was centered on the front of the bag and pinned it there. A note about this: the first time I stenciled the sweatshirt, I used some sort of temporary spray adhesive that worked great and the stencil turned out perfectly. I couldn’t find it at the store this time and the guy recommended just using push pins. Needless to say, go with the spray if you can find it: way easier, less time-consuming, and better results. I am going to give that guy a piece of my mind if I ever see him again.

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Here are the two stencils pinned down with 8 million stick pins. The pins worked OK but were not ideal.

Once the stencils were pinned down, I used one of those cheap foam brushes to dab on the paint. I just mixed blue and black craft paints that I already had to make the navy color I was looking for. #resourceful. Unsurprisingly, the pins got in the way (and had to be tossed after), another reason the spray adhesive would have worked better.

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Painted but before the big reveal.

But it still turned out pretty well! The fact that the paint seeped under the stencil a little actually kind of gave it character and made it look not-so-perfect, in a good way (or so say I when I’m justifying why it’s not perfect). But, baby, it’s perfect to me.

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The finished product. Imagine me on the floor of the coffee shop taking these pictures to get the full visual.

The good news is that the design is actually legible, and I can reuse the stencil again and slap something on top of this if I decide that I hate it. But I think I like it. It’s growing on me! They may take my life, but they’ll never take my STENCILSSSS!

The Weekend Antique Hall: The I-Deserve-This Birthday Edition

When your birthday lands on a Saturday and you need to kill time so you don’t start drinking at 11 AM, you treat yoself to some antiquing! I can’t believe how long it’s actually been since I’ve gone. So long so that my favorite antique store somehow managed to move their 8 billion pounds of tchotchkes to a new location. A visit was well overdue and my birthday seemed like the perfect occasion to break all my money-saving resolutions. Now, onto the good stuff.

First up: four vintage London postcards. Some of them even have old-timey cursive writing that I can’t read on the backs! I’m thinking I’ll frame three of them or put them all into a collage of some sort. At $1 each, I’d say these were quite the bargain.

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Fun fact: at one point in time, the Queen had non-white hair! Who knew?

Next, I found a small globe to add to my growing collection. I thought the size and color of this one made it unique and, at $16, who could resist this (self-given) birthday present? I couldn’t. I physically and literally could not stop myself from buying this.

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The fifth globe child in the family.

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Here’s a gratuitous bonus shot of the globe and all its mates on the great globe shelf.

FLAG TIME. I know, I know, it’s the wrong country. Of course I wish it were a British flag, but I like the U.S.A. too, guys. I even live there. For now. I might just have to relegate this one to another less-Englandy room so there’s no conflict of interest. It is a pretty cool flag, though. I don’t think it’s been used, but the colors are worn so that it looks good and vintage. The flag set me back the most that day at $24.

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U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Lastly, I found a whole gaggle of these cute “B” glasses and got four of them. I couldn’t resist since they already had my initial on them, the gold goes perfectly with my bar cart, and the polka dots were so dang cute (and reminiscent of Kate Spade’s style, I think). They’re the perfect size for wine or mini cocktails or giant shots. These guys were just $3 a piece. I love finding good vintage stuff that isn’t priced like some 500-year-old relic.

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B mine, you glasses.

A Pink and Gold Vintage Cocktail Party

It all started with a Facebook article about the lost art of the cocktail party. So I decided to bring it back. And basically start a revolution. Definitely not just and excuse to dress up and have cocktails.

If you’re thinking these pictures look a lot better and more flattering than the normal crappy iPhone ones, you’re correct! One of my best friends and party guests just so happens to be a talented photographer and designer, too! Check out her company, Clark Creative! It’s awesome.

So without further ado, my first annual hello to summer cocktail party.

On my bar cart below, the decanters, pitcher, sign, lamp, and jigger are all antique/vintage. I used a lot of pink and gold candies to decorate for the party. It was an inexpensive and edible way to carry the theme all over my apartment. Plus, it looked pretty!

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Here’s a glimpse of my bar cart, actually made functional for once!

The other main piece I used to establish the theme colors were flowers and vases. Again, it’s an inexpensive, pretty way to add color and life to the party. I spray painted four thrift store vases in different shapes, patterns, and heights gold to make a mismatched set go together but still be unique.

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Some of the details on my bar cart. Can you tell I love gold?

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I’m just so passionate about my bar cart, I had to get a sign to announce it!

Here’s the thrift store tray I spray painted gold and recently blogged about (here if you missed it). Since I’m short on extra space and table room, I made a makeshift mixer table by setting the tray up on a chair. The cocktail tools are vintage.

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Does the tray look familiar?

I think the candy (or gum balls in this case) in martini glasses really makes for a fancy decoration! I’ll definitely use this trick for my next party. (Plus, I get to eat the leftovers!) Paired with another gold vase with pink flowers, the color scheme spreads to all corners of the room.

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Pink and gold all over the place.

Pretty cupcakes are another thing that can be used as a decoration and a snack. I made these strawberry lemonade cupcakes with lemon cake, strawberry frosting (piped on with a cookie decorating set), and a lemon drop on top, just in case you don’t get the clever theme. Also…they’re pink and yellow which is so close to pink and gold!

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It’s not every day I get to break out the tiered serving tray! In fact, it’s been two days, ever.

Now for what’s really important—cocktails! This drink was a hit! Of course I wanted something pink so I decided to make a champagne cocktail. I blended a few different recipes to make my own. I used champagne, strawberry kiwi juice, strawberry vodka, and strawberries to make a lovely, bubbly, pink concoction. It was a hit, if I do say so myself. And of course, another gold vase with pink flowers and the champagne glasses that I decorated with gold paint.

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Cheers!

Nothing on this cheese platter is pink or gold (well, that sausage might be considered pink), but it just looks so darn delicious. While fancy cheeses are pricey, this is a party located in Wisconsin, so it’s always worth it.

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What a dream come true. Just me?

And here’s a look at my apartment living room, all ready for a party! I can’t decide if leaving the lights up year-round is trashy, but I just love the soft light they gave to my cocktail party (and I’m obviously too lazy to take them down at this point).

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Home sweet home. But 100x cleaner than normal.

And I couldn’t resist including this one because I have to show off the outfit I wore! This is a cream vintage dress with orange polka dots that I picked up in Alaska. I also got a chance to pull out the pearls, which is rare. So that’s my party. Now, please, leave me alone so I can sit here staring out the window, drinking champagne in high heels, like I always do.

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Standard Wednesday.

The Weekend Antique Haul: Up North Edition

A Memorial Day weekend at the cabin is just not complete without a visit to one of my favorite antique stores ever. Saturday was a lovely day so Mom and I made the excuse of obtaining rations and went to Cranberry Creek. I was on the hunt (as I remembered once I saw this) for pink dishes in preparation for my upcoming pink-and-gold-themed cocktail party and found this pink depression glass dish.

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Pink depression glass dish.

It’ll be perfect for candy and to establish the color scheme throughout my apartment, but the pink is subtle enough that it can be used any old time (since my life is basically a vintage- and pink-themed cocktail party). This delightful bowl was only $7.95.

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Check out those depressions! Also, someone please teach me what depression glass is!

The next object fits the definition of “I didn’t know I needed it or it existed until I saw it”. It also fits the definition of “I still hardly know what this is, but I love it nonetheless!” (In my defense, my mom bought a noodle drying rack. Hopefully I never have to actually use this defense.) This little sucker is a slide of the steps of mitosis (see also “science”), so it’s a learning tool as well. The slide looks a little blurry but it’s not me; it’s just how the drawings are! I really have no idea where this would have been used or what kind of device it would have been used in, so if anyone can shed some light, please do. And if you’re like “she bought this thing that she doesn’t even know what it is”, you can shut your mouth because it was a STEAL at $5.95.

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Antiquing sure tired me out, so I had to take an overnight break. The next day, Sunday, was a rainy day, so it was the perfect time to go to another antique store. (If you haven’t picked up on it yet, every day is the perfect day to go to the antique store.) Luckily, the antique stores saved the best for last! This is the mug of my dreams. It will be perfect to hold pens, pencils, letter openers, and various antique riff raff on the writing desk that I am currently curating. It’s also another learning item, so I think I can write if off on my taxes or something. It was $11.95 and I would have paid a million dollars for it.

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I’m obsessed with this mug.

All in all, an extremely successful weekend of antiquing! I just cannot wait to incorporate my new treasures into my apartment with never-ending space for objects. And, just for fun, here’s a bonus find that I got for free (FREE!!) at a rummage sale up north.

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The hat may have been free, but the discomfort it caused my parents is priceless.

The Weekend Antique Haul

Oops, I did it again! The funny thing about saving money and not antique shopping is that it’s impossible. Oh well. At least I have cool stuff! Here’s what I found last weekend at my friendly, neighborhood antique store.

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Find #1: A decoratively etched bottle.

Of course I couldn’t take a trip to the antique store and neglect my precious bar cart. Big decanter, meet your new baby sibling! I don’t want the big decanter to get jealous, but the new one is pretty fancy. The search for a different style to complement the round, squat one had been going on for some time, and I think the intricacy of the new one is the perfect fit.

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Welcome to your new home, decanter!

The second find of the day was a time stamp, in the literal, non-electronic sense. Not that I’ve been looking, but I’ve never seen a stamp like this before. The rubber part on the bottom turns with a clock-like dial on the metal part, so one can literally stamp the time on…whatever (I’ll figure that out later).

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Find #2: A time stamp (next to my treasured wax seal).

The real purpose of the stamp is to kick off the theme of my secretary which I hope to style as a vintage writing desk—time stamp and all! (I can’t remember a day I wrote when I didn’t reach for my vintage time stamp.) It’s going to be hard to use this surface for good instead of evil (junk mail) but the stamp and pencil holder are a good start.

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The stamp situated on my secretary desk.

Oh, and best of all. The total for both items? $25

Urban Gardening

That’s right folks—my green thumb is back! What that means is I’ve purchased pre-grown plants from the store and have made a commitment to them, myself, and all of you to try to keep them alive for a while. The weird thing about doing gardening as simple as replanting when you live in an apartment building is that you don’t really have access to dirt. So I took a mixing bowl and, under the cover of night, snuck a few scoops from the front “yard” (about five square feet of grass) of my complex. Don’t tell my landlord.

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I got the idea on Pinterest to reuse tea tins as planters. And since I had a few English teas in cute tins lying around, I bought a couple of ADORABLE and tiny succulents to fill them! Plus, I, of course, love the British decoration of the tins. Here are two succulents sharing a home in a double-decker bus tea tin. (I’m hoping the sparse one recovers after being dropped on its head.)

image6-2   And here’s a solo plant in an English breakfast tea tin.

image3-2There have got to be tons more things you can do with these tins, but I haven’t come up with any other ideas yet. Anyone have some? Just in case, I better keep drinking tea.