DIY Kate Spade Glitter Earrings

DIY Kate Spade Glitter EarringsThese DIY Kate Spade Glitter Earrings are a project I’ve wanted to undertake for two years now – two whole years! The backstory is that three years ago, my eyes landed on the originals around the holidays and I put them at the top of my Christmas list for all to see. Though I received some absolutely wonderful presents that yea, as I do every year (thanks, fam!), these multi-color glitter studs weren’t waiting for me under the tree. “Not to despair!” I told myself, “If not Christmas, then Valentine’s Day!” But many others shared my delight with them and they were sold out everywhere by the start of the new year. Insert: sad trombone.

I searched high and low for over a year with no promise of a return in sight, so I planned and I schemed on how I could recreate them – I just needed the perfect base earrings to build my shimmery beauties. You know how it goes though, life happened and other projects emerged and my idea for the recreation sat idling on the back burner. But finally, in December of this year, I took the bull by the horns and bought a pair of matte faux stone studs for $3.51 from Forever 21 and began auditioning my treasure trove of glitter nail polishes for a good combination.

DIY Kate Spade Glitter EarringsI wanted pink to be more present in my pair than in the originals. I mean, if I had creative control of this process, I thought that I might as well shoot for the moon! I settled on some complimentary glitter polishes that I already owned – namely, Sally Hansen’s Cheery On Top and China Glaze’s Shine-nanigans, which has a lot more depth and pinkness to it than the photo below would suggest. I also selected New York Color’s Wine Bar to up the magenta quotient by using it as a background color to the glitters; I applied it as a base coat since the earrings I upgraded were grayish white.

DIY Kate Spade Glitter EarringsThese DIY earrings require a little patience, as it pays to let the layers of color and glitter set up a bit before applying the next coat. I used a small stiff angled brush to more aggressively push the glitter around to the spots I wanted it and, at the end, I also used it alongside some cotton swabs and nail polish remover to clean up the areas where my handiwork got a little messy. I sealed the earrings not with clear top coat, as one might be tempted to do considering we’re working with a lot of nail polish here, but rather with this amazing glaze by Americana. It took about 24 hours to fully cure, but it gave the earrings a smooth, slightly domed finish just like the originals and also imparted some really great shine.

DIY Kate Spade Glitter EarringsFor those of you prepared to leave me a comment letting me know Kate Spade went and did a girl a solid and re-released these opulent little gems this past holiday season, I know! But I have to be honest: for less than a third of the original price (way less if you use nail polish you already own or repurpose an old pair of earrings), I think this DIY version is a pretty fantastic dupe! Within minutes of wearing them out into the world for the first time, I got three sets of compliments from three entirely different, unrelated people – that equals success in my book! My only regret is not buying more pairs of the Forever 21 studs so that I could recreate these for all of my earring-wearing, glitter-loving Galentines out there – lucky for all of us, they’re still online here. Small miracles, I say!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! XOXO

DIY Kate Spade Glitter Earrings
Materials
One pair of cushion-cut stud earrings; I used these from Forever 21
Your choice of glitter nail polishes (consider one with finer glitter and one with chunky, hexagonal pieces)
A nail polish, or acrylic craft paint, to use for your base color (optional)
Small, stiff angled brush
Cotton swabs
Nail polish remover
Americana Triple Thick Brilliant Brush-on Gloss Glaze
Foam or cardboard to poke the earrings into for ease of handling when painting and for elevated drying

Directions
Remove your earrings’ backs and poke the stems into a piece of sturdy foam or stiff cardboard so that there is at least half an inch between the back of the earring and the surface of the foam/cardboard. This will help keep the earrings elevated and make them easier to maneuver and see all sides as you paint them. If your earrings are a light color or a color you dislike, use a nail polish or acrylic craft paint of choice to apply a thin base coat to the earrings. If you want one color in the glitter polishes to really stand out, choose this as your base color. I chose a magenta polish on my pair as the base. When dry, apply your first coat of glitter polish. Err on the side of lighter coats, of which you’ll need to apply several, as opposed to heavy, gloppy coats. The latter, obviously, takes more time to dry, but I also felt like I had less control over the distribution of the glitter when the top of the earring was overwhelmed by polish. The more lightly you apply the glitter polish, the less chance you’ll have of errant glitter getting stuck to the side and back hardware of the earrings. Repeat your coats of glitter polish using the stiff angled brush to manipulate the glitter into the patterns and positions of how you’d like it to appear.

After you’ve applied your final coat of glitter – I used about 5 coats – allow it to dry and clean up any spots or splatter with some nail polish remover and either the stiff angled brush or a cotton swab. Next, apply the glaze. I was more heavy-handed with the glaze because I knew I’d only be applying one coat. Paint it on thickly and make sure the surface is smooth and completely covered. As the glaze cures it will, initially, turn opaque white and then, as it hardens, it will lighten until it eventually becomes a smooth, clear, shiny casing. It’s amazing how much this glaze took these from an obvious (but still pretty!) DIY to something that looks much more, well, polished!

 

Make Your Own Wedding Bouquet

DIY Wedding Bouquet | Femme FraicheIf you’re thinking about making your own wedding bouquet – or a hand-held bouquet for any occasion – but are concerned you won’t be able to hack it, I’m here to tell you to put fear aside and embrace the DIY! Making a bouquet, even a large one, even one for a very fancy affair, is not nearly as difficult as it seems. Truly, the hardest part is standing in front of a refrigerator full of flowers and deciding which ones work best together. Even then, though, I’ve got some tips to make that easier, as well.

Creating your own bouquet, or having someone in your wedding party make one for you, is so much more cost effective than going to a florist and shelling out at least $200. By making the bouquet yourself, you not only save money, but can really customize it to your tastes. With a few tips, some guidance, and patience, you can design a really gorgeous bouquet and for a price so small, you’ll feel like you got away with something really sneaky!

Charlotte's BouquetI recently created a gorgeous bouquet for my friend Charlotte’s wedding (above) and while it was far easier than I anticipated and came together really beautifully, my nerves were sky-high leading up to making it and throughout the process. Of course they were though, right? It’s a big job, and an important one, but also totally overrated in its presumed difficulty. You’ve got this!

Because I was focused hard on creating a beautiful bouquet, I didn’t enlist anyone’s help in taking photos throughout its construction. Curses! Fortunately, though, there were leftover flowers and the next day, I recreated a smaller version of Charlotte’s bouquet in order to lead you through the crafting of your own with some step-by-step instructions and photos. If you’re looking to make a larger bouquet, I’ll note in the tutorial where and how to continue adding flowers to make a very full, formal one like hers. At the end, I’ll also organize a list of some tips I figured out along the way.

I promise you that the hype – and expense! – of bouquets isn’t justified. With some patience and some know-how, anyone can make a stunning bouquet for any kind of special day.

Step 1: Select & prepare your flowers
The first thing you’ll want to do is select what flowers you’re going to use in your bouquet. Consider the head – or flowered section – of the bouquet as needing three distinct kinds of flowers – 1) those that make up the bulk of the head (this can be one or several different kinds of flowers), 2) those that give the bouquet some height or dimension, and 3) those that can be used as filler to bulk a section up or add some contrast. I chose to incorporate some bay leaf in this bouquet to create height and dimension to my bulk flowers – roses & carnations – and, if you look really closely, you might be able to tell that they’re artificial! For filler and stems, fake sprigs can add a lot of variety and drama for very little money.

DIY Wedding Bouquet | Femme FraicheTo prepare your flowers for the bouquet, remove all fresh leaves and thorns below each flower’s head and cut all stems on a 45 degree angle while under running water, then plunge immediately into a vase filled with room temperature water. Cutting the stems under water prevents an air pocket from immediately forming at the cut site, which will interfere with the flowers being able to take in as much water as they need; this is an especially important step when working with roses. As you work, keep your flowers in water and in a cool spot.

Step 2: Build your base
The first step to making a sturdy, tight bouquet is to build a solid base. As a foundation, this initial group of flowers will keep the center of the bouquet together, creating a strong neck by which to hold it. The base is important because it will be what you build out from in order to grow the bouquet to the size of your choosing.

DIY Wedding Bouquet | Femme FraicheCreate the base by pairing 4-5 flowers together in the pattern or arrangement that you like. Starting with the first flower in one hand, imagine it as the very middle of the bouquet. Add your second flower and hold the two tightly pinched between your forefinger and thumb, adding the third, fourth, and possibly fifth flowers in the same way, keeping them tightly gathered beneath the heads of the blooms. Don’t worry if, at this point, the stems are all pointing in awkward directions. All you want to be certain of is that the top of the flowers appears the way you’d like the middle of the bouquet to look and that the flowers are being held together tightly right below the heads.

DIY Wedding Bouquet | Femme FraicheNext, apply the end of a roll of floral tape no further than an inch below the flower heads and, while holding the stems tightly together,  wrap down the gathered stems about two inches. The tape doesn’t have to be perfectly wrapped or look very neat – you’re going to be adding more flowers and then ribbon to cover it all – it just has to be tightly wound, keeping your base very solidly together.

Step 3: Build out the head & tape
Once your base is solidly clustered and taped, the next step is to continue widening and building out the head of your bouquet. Here’s where you decide how big you want the bouquet and can continue adding concurrent layers of flowers accordingly to get the shape and size that you want. Employ the same tactics as above, adding and pinching the new flowers one-by-one around your base, holding them tightly. A loosely held bouquet will shift and appear sloppy, so keep those stems tight and, as needed, apply more floral tape to keep everything sturdy.

DIY Wedding BouquetIf you’re working with a mixture of different flower sizes – for example, in Charlotte’s bouquet, I used roses, carnations, and then large, white hydrangeas – consider symmetry when in doubt about how to further arrange the growing layers. Balancing one large flower on either side and then filling in the two remaining sides with similar, smaller flowers will keep the bouquet round and voluminous. If you don’t like how something looks, rearrange things. Nothing is set until you tape the final bunch and even then, you can unwrap and reassemble, or add additional flowers if they are needed.

DIY Wedding Bouquet | Femme FraicheWhen you have filled out the head of the bouquet to the point where you are satisfied, use the floral tape once more to begin tightly taping the stems together. Start, again, an inch or so below the heads of the flowers and wrap tightly, overlapping the tape, until you’ve reached approximately 2 inches above where you want the stems of the bouquet to end once you are prepared to cut them.

Step 4: Incorporating filler
For some reason, filler is my favorite part of creating a bouquet. I think it’s because of how it takes an already beautiful bouquet to a completely different level, but also because there’s so much you can consider using to add height and texture. As mentioned earlier, I used some artificial options – a spray of bay leaves and a stem of faux white berries – but also incorporated traditional baby’s breath because it’s just so dainty. Consider overbuying on the filler, choosing lots of different varieties, and then experiment once your bouquet is in-hand. You can’t know for sure what kinds of leaves, sprays, or baubles, your bouquet will benefit from until you have everything in front of you. Filler is an opportunity to really add a little extra beauty that is specific to your tastes and aesthetic.

DIY Wedding Bouquet | Femme FraicheDepending on the length of your filler, you may be able to just nestle it between the blooms, as desired, but if the pieces are longer, or fall more on the outside of your bouquet, you may need to, once more, tape the length of the bouquet handle from one inch below the flower heads to 2 inches above where you will trim the stems. If you’re concerned about filler falling out, you can always add a drop of hot glue to the end before nestling it down into the head of the bouquet.

Step 5: Finessing the handle & trimming stems
The bouquet head gets all the glory, but truth is that the handle can also be really gorgeous and eye-catching too. For both Charlotte’s bouquet and this re-creation here, I used a thick navy grosgrain ribbon and pearlized pins for a clean, classic finish. You can use any combination of ribbons, laces, twines, etc. that you can think of, so long as you can easily cover the floral tape and find a way to inconspicuously secure the ends.

DIY Wedding Bouquet | Femme Fraiche
With this bouquet, I wrapped the ribbon tightly over all of the visible floral tape. When I reached the end of wrapping, I cut the ribbon about a half inch too long and folded it under, creating a finished edge, stretched it as far around the handle as it would go, and held it firmly against the handle with my thumb. Using my other hand, I pinned into the fold and then into the stems, angling the pin upward into the handle so that it was securely fastened and safely ensconced in the handle, free from poking through to the other side and injuring someone. I proceeded to do this with several other pins, equal distance from one another, up the length of the bouquet handle. Of course, if pearlized pins are not your style or you’re using a twine or something similar, you could always just hot glue the end and tuck it beneath an area where the handle is wrapped.

DIY Wedding Bouquet | Femme FraicheLast, but not least, trim your stems straight across about two inches from the bottom edge of the handle wrapping. Handle length is entirely personal and, fortunately, something you can customize. Just remember to err on the side of caution and trim less before more. No one wants a stumpy bouquet!

When finished, place your bouquet in enough water to submerge the ends, but not wet the wrapped handle (see tips below regarding flower food). Bouquets can be kept overnight in the refrigerator if made the day before or left in there to keep cool if made the day of the event. Before doing so, verify that the flowers you’re using can withstand the coolness of a refrigerator, though, and are not a variety that will wilt in lower temperatures.
DIY Wedding Bouquet | Femme Fraiche
Tips & Tricks:

  • When selecting flowers, consider sturdier blooms for the bulk, nestling more delicate ones inside the bouquet. For the DIY bouquet maker, erring on the side of stronger, less delicate flowers, will allow more room for rearranging.
  • Finding flowers that are easily accessible and financially within your means are key parts to DIY-ing your bouquet. Google around your area for wholesale flower markets, many of which are open to the public, and also start scouting friends with Costco memberships. Yes, Costco! Believe it or not, they have gorgeous fresh flowers and at really reasonable prices – $16 for 2 dozen roses? Boom. Also check out markets that fancy themselves more “gourmet”-type establishments – Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Kowalski’s, if you’re in the Twin Cities, are all examples. They always have fresh, beautiful flowers available and, often, a wider variety compared to a standard grocery store.
  • Remember that you can always supplement with artificial pieces. I’m not suggesting making a silk flower bouquet, but filler, embellishment sprays, and leaves can be hard to find if you’re working the grocery store circuit for your bouquet. Check out local craft stores a week ahead of time and stock up on all kinds of potential. Save your receipt so that you can return the pieces you don’t use.
  • Use Pinterest as inspiration ahead of time and gather ideas there for flowers that work well together and bouquet handle designs that match your tastes. Print pictures, or save images to your phone, and take them with you when looking for flowers or materials from the craft store.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. This is a new endeavor and while it’s really not very difficult, it requires patience, and deftness of hand; rushing through will end in broken stems and petals askew. Think the whole process will take you 2 hours? Block off 3-4 to be safe. No one wants to have to rush out the door to the ceremony, leaving their kitchen strewn with debris.
  • Pay extra close attention to pets while you’re creating your bouquet. Dogs and cats gravitate toward crunchy, fresh flora, so they may be circling beneath you like sharks or waiting for you to turn your back in order to steal a taste. Because plants and flowers can be really harmful to pets, consider keeping them in another room if possible until you are done with the bouquet and clean-up or enlist a friend or partner to keep their eyes peeled.
  • A bouquet can last well over a week if kept fresh with water and nutrients after the ceremony. Cut the stems on a 45 degree angle under water and then return them to a vase of water that has been fortified with the packets of flower food that come with loose flowers or make your own concoction by diluting half a teaspoon of bleach and half a tablespoon of granulated sugar into a half gallon of room temperature water. The bleach keeps bacteria down (the #1 cause of early flower death) and the sugar feeds the flowers. Keep this mixture on hand and empty, rinse, and refill the vase with new solution every day. Keep flowers in a cool place that receives indirect sunlight and that is far away from fruit, which releases ethylene gases and can cause flowers to shrivel up early.
  • Transporting a bouquet to a wedding venue can prove a challenge. Creating a stable holder, though, takes just a few minutes. Find a box that is wider than the bouquet (for stability), but that is still easy to carry. Next, seek out a jar that is nearly the same height as the box, but no shorter than an inch below, or longer than an inch above, it. You will want a jar that is at least 4 inches wide so that the base is not too narrow to support the top-heavy head of the bouquet. Wrap the mason jar with brown paper or newspaper in order to give it some padding and tape well. Place the mason jar in the center of the open box and fill all open space around it with filler or any kind – again, newspaper works well here. Fill it tightly so that the jar cannot slide around. Close the lids of the box and tape shut, then cut out a square around the mouth of the jar. If the jar is slightly taller than the box, cut the square before putting the mason jar in the box and taping down the lid. Fill the mason jar with water and flower food solution and insert bouquet. Before leaving, loosely wrap a plastic bag around the head of the bouquet to keep it clean. Check out the quick photos I took with my phone for a better idea of how to efficiently transport the bouquet – photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4.

DIY Sparrow Place Cards

DIY Sparrow Place CardsI mentioned in my recent Coconut Chocolate Dipped Peeps post that, for me, Easter is a celebration of friends, family, and spring rather than anything religious. So while I’ve made these place cards for my Easter table, they would be a welcome addition to any springtime, or even summer, event that calls for some table flair.

DIY Sparrow Place Cards, SuppliesLook, the reality is that I’m only having 6 people over for Easter dinner – finding a seat is not going to be a real Olympics of the mind situation. That being said, though, I think a beautiful table is as important as the food you put on it when making a memorable day. In this case, that means having adorable sparrow-shaped place cards adorning everyone’s spot. My goal any time I host a meal or a party for friends, whether it be a small brunch with a bestie or a larger gathering to welcome a friend in from out of town, is to create the feeling that this day is special and that the people attending are cared for.

DIY Sparrow Place CardsEspecially for the queer folks among us whose family situations may be tenuous at best, gathering around a table with others specifically on a holiday can bring up a lot of conflicting feelings – including sadness and even relief. Surely, it’s all a process, but if taking the time and effort to make the day beautiful and the atmosphere warm gives someone a sense of home in the meantime, creating that is important to me. How could anyone see this pretty little thing perched atop their plate and not feel welcomed?

DIY Sparrow Place Cards

What’s nice about these place cards is that while they’re festive and, in many ways, seemingly elaborate, they require little skill and once the parts that involve tracing and cutting are done, they come together quickly. My dear friend, Katie – my co-host for our Easter/Springtime Celebration of Friends – and I knocked these out in about an hour after everything was cut out and ready to go. Another fun fact: they cost only about $1.50 each to make!

We chose sheets of scrapbook paper that coordinated with our color scheme in a variety of patterns – floral, polka dots, and plaid – so that regardless of gender or personal taste, everyone will have a place setting that appeals to them along those lines. Not that I expect the gents among us to really hold on to their tiny bird place cards afterward, but you know, thoughtfulness is next to godliness or something.

DIY Sparrow Place CardsWe really saved here in creating our own nests out of tiny vine wreaths that were about 50 cents at our local craft store, as opposed to pre-made nests of similar materials which were upwards of $3 each. For added realness, we added Spanish moss and tiny eggs to our DIY bird nests, which we would have used to decorate the $3 nests too, so we really did save quite a bit without sacrificing the look we were after or a bunch of extra time.

DIY Sparrow Place CardsWith several days left before Easter and many more days of spring and summer ahead of us, there’s plenty of time to add these sparrow place cards to your dining decor. Whether you’re a table of two, 12, or even 100, these are the perfect way to welcome guests and, simultaneously, tell them where to park it. Two birds, one stone.

DIY Sparrow Place Cards
Yields one place setting

Supplies
1 sparrow template, re-sized, printed, & cut out; I used this.
1-2 sheets of sturdy scrapbook paper; 1 sheet if you don’t mind the back having the same pattern as the front, 2 sheets if you want to combine patterns
Glue gun & glue sticks
Craft glue or Elmer’s glue
Small vine wreath
Spanish moss
One sheet of plain, white printer paper
Sharpie or other thin marker, color of your choice (you can also use the printer for writing names if you’re not great with handwriting; more on that below)
Scissors
Small, plastic bird eggs
Pencil

Directions

Step 1: Plug in your glue gun and allow it to heat up on the high setting.

Step 2: Using a pencil, trace the outline of your sparrow template onto your scrapbook paper so that you have a front and back with the pattern(s) facing outwards. The two cut-outs should be facing the same direction so that when glued together, they match up giving the bird weight and stability to stay upright in the nest.

Step 3: When you have both pieces cut out, use the Elmer’s or craft glue to adhere the front and the back together, but leave the beaks unglued for adding the name banner later. Set aside to dry.

Step 4: Free a small handful of Spanish moss from the bag. With the wreath on a flat surface, apply a ring of hot glue to its top edge and, working quickly, gently apply the Spanish moss to edge of the wreath concentrating the bulk of the handful into the center, creating a bit of a well. Be careful not to burn yourself. Once the glue is more warm than cool, press the moss more firmly into the setting glue along the top edge of the wreath. Allow to dry.

Step 5: Place a small bead or two of hot glue into the middle of the well of Spanish moss and place the feet of your sparrow into it, holding the bird part upright until it has dried and can support itself standing.

Step 6: Add some hot glue into the well in front of the bird, as well as behind and fill any holes or spaces with small bunches of the Spanish moss. You’ll want to partially obscure the feet so that it seems they’re nestled in the nest. Trim stray Spanish moss pieces with a scissor, as needed.

Step 7: Use a bead or two of hot glue to secure two eggs onto the rim of the wreath within the Spanish moss and allow to dry.

Step 8: Lastly, create and adhere the name banner. You can do this one of two ways. Initially, I cut out small banners made of white printer paper and hand-wrote the names, but later chose a font and color I preferred more, printed each of the names out on one sheet of paper, and cut out the banners from there. It’s up to you which option you choose. When envisioning your banners be sure to consider that about 1/4″ of one end will be between the the two sides of the beak, so make sure you cut the banners long enough. With the banners printed, apply a small dot of Elmer’s or craft glue between the two sides of the beak and insert the beginning of the banner. Press the two sides of the scrapbook paper together to adhere them together, setting the banner between the beaks. Allow to dry.

Step 9: Trim any stray pieces of Spanish moss or strings from the glue gun and store until ready to use.

DIY Garden Markers

Let’s pretend it’s for real spring. Like, the kind of spring that blows in with warm days and cool nights, that lasts a few weeks before the temperatures really rise and the humidity of summer is upon us. Let’s pretend the 70-degree days of just this past weekend hung around, that it didn’t drop 40 degrees overnight, and that I didn’t, prematurely, put away the down comforter. Let’s pretend that I was able to spend part of the day outside today turning over my small gardening plot in the side yard, laying down new ground cover, and bringing home my plants from the store. Let’s pretend that it didn’t, instead, flurry this afternoon, forcing me to drag my slippers back out and abandon my pitcher of iced tea in the fridge for the hotter, steamier variety.

Sigh. Let’s just pretend.

You see, I wanted to take photos of these adorable DIY garden markers among the beautiful, green, thriving plants of a garden, but Midwestern weather and I are having a bit of a tiff right now, so that’s not yet possible. For some of you, it may have already happened, while for others of us it feels like a distant dream, but whenever your vegetable garden is planted, consider brightening it up a bit with this simple craft, no? Most of the items needed are available from your local dollar store and the rest, which can be found at a craft store, or even Amazon, will only run you a few dollars more.

The best part about these, aside from being really cute and totally unique, is that a few thick coats of Mod Podge make them washable and able to stand the test of time by not peeling or chipping. They’ll last for years to come, fairly safe from the elements (I can’t yet promise that they won’t fade), which also makes them a really wonderful gift! Did someone say, Mother’s Day?

I just labeled my set with a marker and some cute handwriting, but I can see using a fancy paper cutter, like a Silhouette or a Cricut (oh, how I yearn for one or the other!) to create more elegant lettering, should you have access to one. Depending on fonts, colors, and pattern of paper, the sky is really the limit in how you customize these for your own. Charlotte made the green ones below to match her manicure. How femme is that?!

Since it seems I still have a few weeks to go in prepping my summer garden, I’ll be sending this batch to my mother and grandmother in hopes my good deeds will have me rewarded with some sunshine and warmth. Hopefully, they’re up for the task of growing more than tomatoes and basil this year! What’s on your list to grow this summer?

DIY Garden Markers
Supplies:
Wooden spoons
Acrylic craft paints
Foam brushes
Paper plates for your paint palette
1 piece of scrap paper for the label’s pattern
Craft glue
Mod Podge, original
Scrapbook paper
Scissors
Sharpie marker

Use the outline of a wet spoon on scrap paper to create a pattern for your labels.

Directions:
To create your DIY Garden Markers, first paint your wooden spoons with two coats of acrylic craft paint. As you finish the last coat of your final spoon, place the spoon on it’s back onto the piece of scrap paper to make a mark, as seen in the image on the right. This mark will serve as your pattern for spoons’ labels. Finish painting the final spoon and allow to dry. Cut out the pattern for the label and then use it to carefully cut shapes out of the scrapbook paper for each spoon. When all of your labels have been cut out, use the marker to write the name of each vegetable. Adhere a label to the back of each spoon with craft glue, smoothing out any wrinkles as you go. After each spoon has had it’s label affixed, paint the entire spoon from top to bottom with a fairly thick coat of Mod Podge. Continue applying first coat of Mod Podge to all spoons. When finished, begin again with the first spoon and apply a second coat. You will want to apply a total of 3-4 coats per spoon. When finished, allow the spoons to dry completely. I suggest waiting at least 12 hours before using.

 

DIY Cat Toys, or Superfluous Photos of My Cats

Moving in together is an exciting point in any relationship, but when Bear and I U-hauled it, one of the greatest perks was getting to double our number of meows, forming our tiny family of 4. Since we’re not the kid-having kind, Lula and Ollie are, of course, our less messy, way furrier, substitutes and we’re fairly obsessed with them. I mean, sometimes we make up songs about them. They also each have a (totally fabricated) dramatic backstory of their lives before us and about 14 aliases a piece. Don’t judge. The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

Anyway, while putting the final touches on my Lazy Kitten Sleep Mask two weeks ago, I was swarmed by the fuzzy gray and white duo who had suddenly developed an interest in crafting; or at least in things like spools of thread and the crinkly sound of Velcro. Plying them with treats, nor gentle scolding, really made much difference, so I put my sleep mask on hold to accommodate my two feline assistants and stitched up a quick cat toy for them of excess fabric to bat around the house.

I had no stuffing around to fill the toy with, but being fairly resourceful, I dug out some cotton balls from the bathroom to use in its place. This is just a small toy, so just a few cotton balls did the trick. Before filling the little heart shape I had cut out and hand-stitched together, I rolled the cotton balls in some dried catnip to give the toy a little something extra.

Breaking out the catnip and filling the toy only invited more investigation, so I acted quickly to sew up the remaining open space on the side and tossed it into the living room. There, it was promptly smothered with love before becoming the prize in a mutual game of keep away. Needless to say, they thought it was the cat’s pajamas and that made me feel pretty darn satisfied. Bringing joy in even the simplest ways is truly the heart’s best medicine, no?

Quick Heart-Shaped Cat Toy
Supplies:
Enough scrap fabric to cut out two hearts about 3.5-inches in width and 2-inches in height
Coordinating thread of your choice
Sewing needle
Scissors
Pins
Approximately 5-8 cotton balls
1 teaspoon of dried catnip

Directions:
Step 1: Cut one heart out of the fabric either by freehand or by making a simple paper pattern. Use the first fabric heart as a guide and pattern to cut out a duplicate. Step 2: Put the two hearts together with the frontside of the fabric facing inward and pin together. Step 3: Thread your needle and stitch the heart together leaving a 1-inch opening remaining. Tie off the thread, snip excess, remove pins, and turn the heart right side out. Step 4: On a plate, or in a bowl, place the cotton balls and sprinkle catnip on them until they are fully covered. Fill the heart with as many cotton balls as needed and stitch the remaining hole closed.

Decorate Your Easter Eggs with Sharpies

I feel like I should start this post off by stating, for the record, that I don’t have a pre-existing relationship with the company that makes Sharpies. It’s merely coincidence that two of my craft tutorials so far on here involve them. What can I say? I’ve never met an office supply store or a back-to-school sale I didn’t like. One of my favorite places to lose time on campus at my Big 10 graduate school was in the three aisles of the bookstore that were dedicated to writing implements. Pens in every shade of ink, mechanical pencils, highlighters, and so many varieties of Sharpies. A girl could lose herself and her meager graduate student earnings in there!

My love affair with brightly colored gel pens and markers has not, it seems, gone unnoticed by my family, either. One of my Christmas presents this year was a pack of 80s-glam-inspired Sharpies. But even for an enthusiast like myself, I didn’t know what, when, or how I’d use 24 of them. Turns out, that problem is easy to solve, as they’ve already decorated fancy cards & envelopes, coffee mugs for some besties, and even upgraded my mani by standing in for those awful nail art pens — thanks for the tip, Beauty Department!

Spying them in my craft bin again last week, I wondered what kind of seasonal project I could use them in and the colorful, intricate designs of pysanka, or Ukrainian Easter eggs, came to mind. Have you ever made pysanka? They are not for the weary! They take hours; drawing in the lines and shapes with melted beeswax, dyeing them layer after layer, and then finally melting and rubbing off the final coating of wax. It can take up a whole day just making one! So, needless to say, trying to re-create the detail of these ornate beauties wound up being more labor-intensive than I had planned, even without the wax and the dye! Thus, my Sharpie Easter eggs (or springtime eggs if you’re more inclined) eventually went in a different direction to capture the whimsy of the coming season.

The cold, bleary Midwest has me dreaming of the firsts of spring – robins, flower buds, and that glorious day of the year when the ground is finally released from the grip of winter and the sweet, soddy smell of dirt and vegetation fill the air. Just the thought of it has me feeling positively poetic! Plus, I’ve had this adorable fake robin (of which Bear is all “OMG, I’m in love with a girl who hoards fake, stuffed birds and saves them for a rainy day?!”) in my possession for far too long without it seeing the light of day. Of course I had to heed the advice of Portlandia and put a bird on it! Also, what better way to market yourself? Who needs business cards or search engine optimization? I’ve got self-designed, hand-drawn eggs, y’all!

I used hard-boiled eggs for this project and the ink never reaches the flesh of the egg itself, keeping them perfectly edible. You could, of course, always empty them first and then decorate them if you continue to have concerns or just don’t like eggs in their hard-boiled form. I might make some more for my Easter table with the requisite bunnies, chicks, and resurrection – kidding on the last one! – but am also wanting to do a small set mimicking different cross-stitch patterns. Basically, I see a lot of egg salad in my future.

Sharpie-Designed Easter/Springtime Eggs
Supplies:
Eggs – quantity determined by you
Cold water
Heavy-bottomed pot w/lid that will accomodate your eggs in a single layer and hold enough water to cover them by at least an inch
Permanent markers – I used these
Ingredients for this, optional

Directions:
Place your eggs in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pot in a single layer. Fill with cold water, stopping when the eggs are covered by an inch or two. With the lid off, heat the eggs to a full boil, then cover the pot and remove it from the heat. Allow the eggs to sit undisturbed for 17 minutes. Next, drain the eggs and plunge them into a bowl of cold water. Allow the eggs to cool completely. At this point, you can dry them off and prepare them for decorating or refrigerate them until you’re ready for them. Either way, before decorating with the markers, the eggs must be allowed to warm up just enough to take the cold from the fridge off the outer shell, otherwise they will develop condensation from the heat of your hands making the markers run and skip. When decorating, keep some paper towels nearby just in case, dabbing off the moisture as needed. As you go along, it will become clear how the marker’s flow allows you to draw precise lines, follow the curve of the egg, and apply the ink gently, blending it with your finger, to create shading. When finished, immediately return your eggs to the refrigerator. Eat within one week.

Lazy Kitten Sleep Mask Tutorial

Poor Bear. I’m terrible to sleep with. For all the ease and loveliness I bring in daytime, I run hella short on both when trying to sleep. You could call me fussy, if you were into understatements. Blankets can’t be too heavy, nor too light. Nothing can touch my feet. If it’s not cool in the room, I’m a beast. And light? Forget about light. Any pin prick of illumination that occurs where curtain meets blind makes me stompy. The soft glow from a cell phone lit just to check the time is met with whining. My sleepy self is cantankerous at best, other worldly at worst.

I’ve long wanted a sleep mask, but something flashy and cute that offers something redeeming to onlookers when my evil sleep twin is about. Maybe with a little work, I can convince my subconscious that while feisty, my sleepy self can be more vampy than angry. Harness a little cat woman, or something. Thus, a sleep mask for lazy kittens. Purrr!

This project is quick, makes a great handmade gift, and is low-sew, meaning the sewing is minimal and can be done with just a needle and thread.

Materials:

  • 2 pieces of coordinating fabric, each 12-inches by 12-inches
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Needle & coordinating thread
  • Velcro – Fabric Fusion
  • An iron
  • 3/8-inch black elastic

Directions:
1.
To start, you need to select material for the front and back of your eye mask. You’ll want the back side, at least, to be black. I used simple, inexpensive craft felt for the back of mine and this bold (and totally theme appropriate, meow!) leopard print from the clearance table at Joann Fabric’s. 2. Next, print out the sleep mask pattern I made and follow the instructions for cutting it out and affixing it to your fabric with pins.

3. Fold your fabric in half as noted on the pattern instructions, and align the edge of the pattern with the folds. Pin the pattern in place and don’t worry if you have a few dents or bubbles; just try to keep it as flat as possible when you begin cutting. 4. Cut out each piece, reusing the pattern for the back and front. When you’re finished, you should have two full pieces as illustrated below. Aren’t they so cute already? You can line the two pieces of fabric up here and just double-check your work making sure they’re as close to perfect a match as possible. Trim slightly, if needed.

5. Here’s where the sewing comes in, but no fear. This is going to be painless. You need black thread, a sewing needle that you feel comfortable with, and 3/8-inch black elastic. Measure your head with the elastic from temple to temple. Make sure the elastic is fitted and snug to your head, but comfortably so. You don’t want the band to be tight when you’re trying to sleep, but you want it to be secure enough that it’s not sliding down constantly. For me, this was about 15-inches – I might have a big head – and then you’ll want to add 2-inches to the total and cut your elastic.

6. On what will be the inner side of the back of your sleep mask, pin 1-inch of the elastic into place as seen above. Using your needle and thread, sew the elastic in place. If you’re new to sewing, a little x-shaped stitch – as you would use when sewing a button – is easy to do and will adhere the elastic securely. 7. Next, cut off 1/2-inch pieces of Velcro – Fabric Fusion and follow the package instructions for setting them with your iron, both on the inner back part of the mask, as shown above, and on the inner front side as show below. Velcro has two sides – a softer side and a harder, more plastic like side – which is how they grip to one another. I chose to put the softer side on the inner back portion of the mask and, truly, it can’t be felt against the face and eyes.

Note: If you enjoy sewing or aren’t looking for a low-sew project, you could just stitch the mask together at this point after adhering the other end of the elastic. I like the Velcro option not only because it involves minimal sewing, but because I can pull the halves apart and put in little sprigs of fresh lavender for aromatherapy if I’m feeling fancy. It’s up to you how you customize this to fit your needs.

8. With the Velcro fastened in place and distributed on both inner halves, pin and stitch the other end of the elastic to the inner back side of the mask. 9. When finished, remove pin, affix the front side of the mask to the back and it’s complete! Leave as is or decorate the mask to your liking. I added a tiny bow made from felt remnants. 10. Get your sleep on, kitten!

Long Distance Love Mugs

I will easily get behind any holiday that advocates for reminding important people in your life that you love them. Every time I hang up the phone or part ways with a dear friend I tell them I love them; residual effects of being raised in a loud, Italian-American family who are verbose with their feelings – both good and bad. But even if I remind friends on the regular how much they mean to me, the idea of reaffirming it on Valentine’s Day feels extra special.

With two of my dearest friends on opposite coasts – New York and California – and me, smack dab in the middle, I wanted to make a little care package for each to celebrate the day. While I knew I’d certainly put together some kind of baked good, I wanted to add something even more personal to the mix. I’ve had the tutorial for these mugs pinned for what feels like forever and thought they’d be perfect for a V-Day surprise. I love how these came out overall, though there are a few caveats I’ll get to in a bit. They’re super adorable and deliver the message that, despite the miles, we’re always connected.

The first step in creating a set of these mugs is figuring out how to align your states and the cities you’re each in. Imagine them outlined on the mugs, calculate about where you will place your hearts, and then decide on the layout. For example, if I had made California my left mug and Minnesota my right mug, my dashed line would have had to travel around the bulk of each state to connect and that would, in my opinion, look too busy. Once you have your sides situated, you’re ready to start drawing.

You may think you have to have awesome freehand skills for a craft like this, but you have infinite chances to get the shape of the state exactly as you want it before you finish in Sharpie. The shape is first done with a pencil eyeliner – keep the liquid for your cat-eyes, femmes! – making it easy to wipe off slip-ups. Of which there will, most likely, be many. Don’t fret though. You’ve got this! I practiced drawing the shapes of the states I needed a few times on paper and then with the eyeliner, wiping and re-doing as I went. Eventually, it becomes much more about learning how to control the softness of the eyeliner pencil and the pressure you apply. Just think: the state outline is only a jagged little shape and if you practice on paper first, you’ll figure out its edges and proportions in no time. Patience is key.

Once you have your eyeliner outline of the states complete, go over it with Sharpie. It might seem like the Sharpie isn’t cutting through the grease of the eyeliner completely and in some places that will be true. When your outline is complete, give it a few minutes to dry completely and then go in and wipe the eyeliner layer off with a paper towel. You want to make sure it is completely free of eyeliner. If you encounter some tough, extra smudgy spots, breathe a little hot breath onto it and buff. Now you can go over the Sharpie outline a second time to make it truly opaque and fill in spots where there might have been some skipping. I used a gold and red Sharpie that I had on hand to place the cities, though even a small black heart or asterisk would work if you only have one color. Design the remainder of the mug as you’d like. I couldn’t help adding some sass to the backside of the mug for my bestie in NYC.
Once all of your Sharpie work is complete, allow the mugs to set for at least 24 hours. This allows them to completely dry and set up to prepare for curing. When the 24 hours has passed, stand the mugs on a baking sheet and place them in a cold oven. Set the temp to 400° and allow them to bake for an hour. When time is up, turn the oven off and allow them to cool completely in the oven. This could take several hours, so you should plan to cure the mugs on a day when you’re ordering take-out for dinner. When you remove the mugs from the oven, allow them to sit another 24 hours. You may notice the Sharpie has faded slightly in some spots; my red turned nearly orange and the gold metallic lost a little luster. If this happens, don’t despair. We’ll fix it in just a moment.

But first: most tutorials I’ve read say you’re finished after you’ve let your mugs cool post-curing. Those same tutorials are littered with comments about how the Sharpie rubbed off as soon as they were washed. Not being able to bear the idea of my new mugs being destroyed, I riddled my brain trying to come up with a solution. Then it hit me: Mod Podge! When all else fails, Mod Podge Like a MotherFucker (MPLAMF)!

For those of you new to crafting or who haven’t encountered Mod Podge before, it is a glue, sealant, and finish that dries clear and, depending on the variety, glossy. It also doesn’t wash off with water. At least it hasn’t in my initial tests. It’s perfect for this project and helps seal the Sharpie to stay put. Perfect! Before you MPLAMF though, now’s the time to fix any fading that may have occurred or light spots you may have noticed on your mugs. I don’t suggest major repairs, like going over all of your lines, because you won’t be re-curing and I’m not certain if the Mod Podge is enough to seal the uncured Sharpie. If you notice, however, that the heart faded or you have a knick in a letter, fill it in now.

Ok, now we’re ready to MPLAMF! Take a thin, angled paint brush dipped lightly in Mod Podge (Gloss) and just follow the outline of your states, the dashed lines, cover the hearts, whatever you drew. You don’t need to completely cover the mug, though you certainly could. I find it really hard to get a smooth line with Mod Podge even with a foam brush, so I chose to simply paint the individual marks and not the whole side of the mug.

Can you see the Mod Podge on the finished product? If you look really close, yes, but it’s, essentially, the top coat to the mani! If it makes the design stay and doesn’t alter the finish, that’s more important to me. I did three thin coats, letting them dry to the touch between coats and then let them set another 24 hours. If the mugs are just going to be for show, used for holding pens and pencils on a desk (cute!), you can skip the Mod Podge altogether. But if you want to try and enjoy your favorite hot beverage out of them or share in tea time with your bestie across the miles, take the extra half hour and seal them. It’s important to note these mugs will never be dishwashable – even with the Mod Podge. You will always need to hand wash these gently. They might not last as long as your friendships, but this trick will definitely extend the life of your very fancy new mugs.