Super Easy, Super Chic Vase


I’m not really a “chic” person.

I mean…we have really old green leather couches with holes in them.  We have deer heads on our walls and paintings of ducks alongside haphazardly hung family photos.  This isn’t so much due to my lack of taste (I hope) as it is the constant hoping that we will find a new home to move into soon, thus making decorating/painting/trying-hard-to-make-our-little-home-look-nice feel like a bit moot of a point.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t like chic things…especially since creating chic looking pieces is so easy to do on your own!

I was looking for something to do with all my cheap old vases from flower deliveries over the years when I became inspired by HGTV Magazine to make them look frosty and fun.

All you need is rubber bands, spray paint and a vase.

Basically, put the rubber bands on the vase and spray paint it.  Once the paint is dry, take off the rubber bands and…bada-bing-bada-boom…a chic new vase!

For your educational purposes, I’m chronicling a tale of two vases today….because I messed up the first one horribly and don’t want you to do the same.

It’s not so shocking to discover that easy doesn’t always mean fool proof.  And since I’m usually in a hurry to make the most of my kids’ nap times and get things done quickly, I am usually the fool who finds out the wrong way first.


For the second half of this project, I had quite the viewing party…pressure was on to do it right!PeanutGallery

First, do not make your vase look like a glass version of Anastasia from 50 shades of Grey.  No bondage scene needed for this craft project.  A few rubber band goes a long way.PaintedVase1 PaintedVaseSuccess1

Second, when painting, do not actually spray paint onto the vase.  It will run and drip and look so so gross.  As soon as you push the button on the spray can, let up.  Do one small spot at a time and don’t try to actually cover the vase with paint. You’re going for a frosty chic look here.


If you want slightly more coverage wait for the first coat to completely dry  (not tacky-ish to the touch, not mostly dry but dry dry). Hit the clear spots with a quick spot of spray.


Let the vase dry completely.

*As a side note, if you are a multi-tasker like me and cannot simply wait for things to dry, I recommend using this time to check your dogs for ticks.  I found 2 huge ones and used the spray paint can to crush them.  An excellent use of stand-by time in my opinion!*

Once the vase is dry, gently pull off the rubber bands.  Hopefully, you don’t end up with a drippy, over exposed, harsh looking vase – as I did the first time!PaintedVase3 PaintedVaseSuccess6

You could use any color of spray paint you like here.  I think a sea foam green or turquoise would be equally ‘chic’ and fabulous as well.  Or perhaps do bold colors to pop with your white walls?  You could try different designs with the direction of the rubber bands, too.  Whatever mood you’re in, now you can have a vase to match!

Happy spray painting, everyone!

Garden Labels

If you have been following my blog, then by now you know that my ‘weapons of choice,’ when it comes to crafting, are wood and craft paint.  The possibilities are endless if you keep your craft room stocked with these 2 supplies.  Recently, I planted some herb seeds and realized that, *gasp*, I had no way of telling my pots apart. The solution: a craft, of course!  So, I made these cute little labels in only a few minutes.  Here’s how!


Popsicle Sticks (3 for each label)

Hot glue gun and glue

Craft Paint

Paint Brushes

Clear Spray Paint

Begin by gluing 2 popsicle sticks together length wise.  First, make sure they are straight…sometimes they have a little bend to them.

Paint the sticks a color of your choice.

Once dried, use a pencil to lightly write the name of the plant you wish to label. A hint to keeping your lettering centered: Count the number of letters in the word and begin with the middle letter (or middle 2 letters if there are an even number of letters) in the middle of the 2 sticks. Work your way out, one letter at a time on each side, so you can monitor the spacing and ensure the label won’t be lopsided.

I'm switching back and forth between a couple different sticks here...hope the color changes don't throw you off!

Now, paint your lettering using a contrasting color.  Use block letters, cursive, puffy letters, skinny letters, or paint a picture.  Be creative!

While the lettering is drying, paint a single popsicle stick another contrasting color.  No need to paint the whole thing…you’re going to be shoving one end in the dirt.

Once all of the paint on all of the sticks is completely dry, glue the 3rd stick to the back of the 2 conjoined sticks (in the middle).  It’s important that all the paint is dry, otherwise the glue doesn’t stick well.

Now spray paint the entire project with a coat or 2 of clear spray paint.  This helps protect it from the sun and rain…and makes it shiny and finished looking.

Labels drying.

When everything is dry, label your plants and enjoy the extra color in your garden! 🙂

Mason Jar Shell Keepsake

Like most residents of a landlocked state on vacation in a beach town, I am compelled to collect everything I find in the sand.  Pretty shells, ugly shells, broken shells and (on our trip to South Padre Island) I even snatched up a corroded quarter that had clearly spent some time in the sea.  I also grabbed a bag full of sand because I felt as if it were something that simply needed to be done.  However, I soon ventured home and reality sunk in that I had a leaky trash bag of sand and a plastic sack of stinky shells.  Since I am sentimental and had taken great pains to travel all the way home to Iowa with my treasures, I KNEW I couldn’t just throw them away.  So, I did what I always do…and found a way to craft myself into saving them. A ‘Mason Jar Shell Keepsake’ as I’m calling this craft, was easy to make. I’m now sure that I will be bringing home bits of sand, dirt, rocks and shells from EVERYWHERE we travel so that I can start a collection (*my husband grumbles in the background*).  Here’s how I made it:

Start with an empty mason jar (with lid).  Any shape or size.  Get one without the “Ball” label if you don’t like ‘rustic’ look of this one.  You’ll also need a glass pen (to be found at your local craft store) and a hot glue gun if you decide to decorate the lid.  The first step is to get on Microsoft Word (or any computer program with fun fonts) and find a fun way to write the information you wish to have on the outside of the jar.  I went with the name of our destination and the year.  Make sure the font size fits on the area of the jar you wish to label.  Word to the wise: Don’t use and overly crazy font, unless you have a lot of patience.

Next, cut out the lettering and tape it on the inside of the jar on the area you want labeled.  This takes a couple tries to get straight…unless you have super tiny hands (please excuse my bandaid-ed thumb…I have a problem with reaching into the toaster oven without an oven mitt).

Use your glass pen to trace the lettering.  Go over it a second time if you need to (remove the paper from the inside for a clearer view).

Follow the directions on your glass pen for finishing steps.  Mine called for the glass to be baked at 350 for 30 minutes to make the ink set.  After the ink is set…you’re done!!  Now fill it with your treasures (really wishing my sand would have dried out more..and that I had grabbed more of it).

Decorate the lid if you want.

Fun keepsake and now I don’t have bags of shells and sand sitting on my kitchen counter any more. 🙂

Plain ‘ol Bagels

I feel like being able to whip up a batch of bagels is something I should have in my back pocket.  I like a good bagel, but it is one of those items I always talk myself out of purchasing at the grocery store (“Jenny…you don’t need to eat those.  Put them back.”)  BUT, if I make them I can sample one, then give the rest away…this is how I reason with myself.  Don’t judge me.  Or do.  I don’t care (much).

So, here we are on a lovely Saturday (it’s zero degrees outside) and I’m making bagels.  I found this recipe on Tasty Kitchen (printable link here).  Feel free to jazz up with whatever flavorings you choose…I’m simply passing on the ‘canvas’ for you to start with.  If you’re intimidated by the idea of making bagels: don’t be.  It’s easy!  And these are delicious…doughy inside and crunchy outside.  Plus, this recipe only yields a half dozen…so if you mess them up, it’s easy to forget about it and try again (I feed botched breads to the ducks on our pond…they appreciate it)!

*Note* The printable link will take you to the original recipe that doesn’t have a few of the tips I’m including here.  When you print it out, take note of the differences in bagel shaping and cooking techniques.  If anyone can give me advice on how to make my own printable links for recipes, I’d greatly appreciate it!! I’m such a WordPress novice…..

And now, we bake!!

Ingredients for Plain Bagels (nothin’ fancy here!)

  • ⅔ cups Warm Water
  • ½ Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1-½ teaspoon Yeast
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • ½ Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • ¾ teaspoons Salt
  • cornmeal (for sprinkling on the baking stone)

Start by combining the yeast, water and sugar in the bowl of your mixer.  Let it set up for 5-10 minutes; until the yeast is foamy.  Then add the flour, oil and salt.  Mix thoroughly with the dough hook or knead by hand.

The dough should look like this after being pushed around for a while (or kneaded by hand).  Let it rise for 20-30 minutes (although longer won’t hurt it…I let mine sit for an hour).

After the dough has risen for a spell, take it out and – to make things easy – shape it into a log.

Then cut it into 5 or 6 pieces (depending on how big you want your bagels).

To shape the bagels, don’t try to roll it into a snake and then squish the ends together.  I couldn’t get that to work.  Instead, form into a ball and poke your finger in the middle.  Then gently pull it into an even ring, using the widest part of your hand as a measure.  These puff quite a bit, so you want to leave plenty of room in the middle for them to grow.

Shadow puppets anyone??

Let them rise on a lightly floured surface for at least 30 minutes.  However, an hour makes them even better.

Preheat the oven to 425 and place your baking stone inside.  On the lowest rack of the oven, place a pan containing about 1/2 inch of water.

Grab a heavy bottomed pot and start 6 cups of water boiling.  I once heard that boiling food in plain water makes them taste like…plain water.  So it’s best to boil things with some flavor.  Based on this, I’ve added a solid 2 tablespoons of salt to my water.  Add the bagels and boil for one minute on each side, removing them to paper towels when done for water to drip away.  Be careful, though, as these stick to the paper towels slightly.  I suggest not letting them sit there for more than a minute or two.

Once your bagels are boiled, pull the stone out of the oven and sprinkle it with corn meal.  

Place the bagels on the stone and bake for 18-20 minutes.

These save really well…one of the few homemade bread that I’ve mastered which doesn’t require eating immediately.  Enjoy!

Kiddy Coat Hangers: A Tracing Tutorial

I started making these fun coat hangers a long time ago…like…pre-husband and pre-child.  It was back in a day when the most important things I needed to hang up were my purse and the coat that my dog Jimmy wears in the winter time (yes –  have a miniature horse sized coat that I put on my Black Lab/Doberman mix in the winter. He is, after all, my first child).  I’ve had several people ask me for personalized versions of these hooks and there is little more that I love than making things for other people.

Here’s how to make your own, should you feel inspired to do so (and I hope you do!)!

Start with a wooden craft plank.  This one cost me $3.99 at Michael’s.  You can also use scrap wood, like from old cabinets.  Using craft paint (I suggest Folk Art brand as it covers well), paint the base the color of your choice.  This wood typically drinks up a bit of paint, so don’t be afraid to lay it on thick over a few layers.  This will make the rest of the paint take more evenly.  Allow it to dry.

Drawing your own designs free hand is a creative fun way to color your board, but for this project, I decided to paint a clip art cow.  This is where it get easy (as if it wasn’t already).  Go online and find an image you want on your craft.  The key is to keep it pretty simple (or the K.I.S.S. theory, as my mom says -Keep It Simple, Stupid! Sorry…not calling any of you stupid.).  The more intricate and the more colors required, the longer this craft will take you.  You can see by my choice of artwork that I am not very ambitious today.

Once you have your artwork printed out, flip it over and scratch heavily with a pencil over the entire area you want traced onto the board.  Lay it on heavily so it transfers easily.  No need to be exact or precise…just scribble.  Brings out the Kindergartener in ya!

Once you have used up plenty of pencil lead and your wrist is tired, turn the paper back over and place it on the board where you want it to be. Secure the paper in place with tape.

*TIPS HERE*: Make sure to measure (don’t just eyeball it) as it’s a bummer when you get done and realize your image is too far to one side. Also, don’t forget to account for where your hook will be screwed in (I’ve moved my cow up on my board so the hook will sit underneath it).*

Now, simply trace the design.  Use your pencil to draw over the entire drawing.  Press firmly to insure the lead (or graphite, I should say) on the back of the page transfers to the wood.  Don’t be tempted to peek!  You risk moving the paper, causing the artwork to look misshapen after you’ve traced it.

Once you’re done, you should have a very faint outline of your image.

Now you’ve earned the right to paint (the fun part)!!  Start with the larger areas and move to the smaller.  I started with the white…

…then finished with the black.  Easy!

Once the craft paint is dry, hit your board with a coat or two (depending on how much wear and tear your craft will need to bear) of clear spray paint.

Lastly, it’s hardware time!  At your local Target or hardware store, you should be able to find a variety of hooks as well as picture hangers for the backside of the board.  Size small picture hangers suffice for this craft…unless you’re planning on hanging bowling balls from it. Most important thing here: measure, measure, MEASURE.

 Then, attach the picture hanger and hook.  Attach the picture hanger first, followed by the hook (much easier this way).  Depending on the hook you selected, you may need to purchase shorter screws, however most smaller hooks come with short enough screws that will not stick out the back.  And there you have it…a fun addition to your mud room, nursery or bathroom.

How To: Melted Crayon Art

Who loves colorful, easy artwork that’s fun to make?  This girl does!!  And I’ve been dying to take a stab at my own melted crayon art ever since the craze has become popular.  Let me break down the complicated steps of this highly difficult, skill-requiring craft: 1) Glue crayons to a canvas. 2) Use your hair dryer to melt them. 3) Hang it on a wall.

It’s pretty easy-peasy!  Here is a little bit more of a detailed break down for those of you who are wanting to do ‘the melt’ yourselves.

I started out with a 16×20 canvas and a box of 64 crayons.  The whole box won’t fit on the canvas, so pull out the colors you don’t want.  I suggest getting a smaller box of crayons as well, so you can double up on the colors you really want to pop (I didn’t do this…mine are strictly from the 64 count box, but I’m wishing I would have added more of the brighter colors).

You have a choice at this point; you can leave the wrappers on, or take them off.  Totally up to you what “look” you would like in the end.  If you decide to remove the wrappers, simply soak the crayons in a bowl of water until the wrappers slide right off.  Don’t try to peel them off dry…it’ll take you forever.

When you’re ready to assemble, use a hot glue gun to fasten the crayons to the canvas, tip pointed down.  Go ahead and snug the crayons up against each other.  No need to leave room between.Make sure to have your canvas propped up on a flat surface, placing plenty of aluminium foil (or newspaper, I suppose would work) around the area to catch splatters.

Using the highest heat setting and the lowest speed setting, fire up the hair dryer and make those crayons sweat!  The rest happens naturally…it’s a science I like to call “gravity.”

In no time at all, you’ll have a neat work of art!  This one is going to hang in Evan’s room.  I’d like to build a black frame to go around it, but that craft is for another day. 🙂

Christmas Card Hoarder

Hi. My name is Jenny and I can’t throw away anything sentimental.  It’s a terrible problem…one I must learn to deal with before Evan is old enough to doodle and color pictures.  Otherwise, I’m in for a world of clutter and paper scraps.  I guess the good news is that I’ll never have to clean the outside of my fridge again because it will be continuously covered in art.

But, anywho, since I can’t bring myself to throw things away, I am forcing myself to organize them.  Taking my Memory Boxes one step further, I decided to make a yearly Christmas card box.  Holiday cards are such neat snapshots of families as they grow and change…I love comparing them year after year.  Having a pile of holiday cards is like having a loose-leaf yearbook of our friends and family.  This post-Christmas craft is super simple, and it makes me feel organized, which is becoming increasingly difficult as time goes by.

I’ll save you the step-by-step process of this craft…it’s hardly a craft.  I just took an empty box with a lid and wrapped the top and bottom (separately) in wrapping paper, labeled the box “2011” and, boom…I’ve satisfied my need to hoard memories and organized at the same time!. Hope you find this trick useful!  (Gross…these pictures do an excellent job of dipslaying how badly I need to clean the grout in our kitchen.)