Category Archives: Crafts

Denim Pennant Gift Toppers

My stack of ripped denim jeans is piling up, folks. At this point, I’m just shaking my head like, “REALLY?!?

But ripped jeans are in style, you say!

Perhaps. However, these jeans of Handy Husband’s are ripped in a rather unfortunate location. Do you get what I’m saying?

The jeans aren’t really fixable in any way that says you should be wearing them to work for Casual Fridays. It’s not THAT casual! I need to throw them away or repurpose them.

The repurposing issue is a challenge because most denim projects seem very dated or way too country western for me. I’ve lived long enough to know that if I procrastinate long enough wait awhile these projects will cycle back into style.

However, patience is not one my virtues, so I’ve been challenging myself to come up with crafts using these denim jeans that seem acceptable for this decade.

At Christmas, I wrapped some presents and made a name tag out of a strip of denim. I just wrote on the denim with a Sharpie marker. Super easy.

(These were the fake presents, by the way. The real presents with the real name tags went to our neighbors and I didn’t take pictures of those.)

I liked the denim gift tag idea because it was different, unexpected and only took 10 seconds to do.

Then I said to myself, “That was a good idea, Self. Now can you make this project NOT AS QUICK and EASY?”

And I replied, “You bet I can!”

I started thinking about pennants because a big college football game was in the news. One thing led to another and I was cutting a pennant shape out of a pair of denim jeans.

And, yes, cutting the pennant out required some math. So, kids, if you’re sitting in class wondering when you’re ever going to use geometry, let this be a cautionary tale lesson.

Instead of a school name, I wrote the gift recipient’s name on the pennant. I tried a paint pen first. That didn’t saturate the color as much I wanted. Maybe my pen was running out of paint? I switched to a fabric marker. That worked pretty well, except I only had a yellow marker, so it wasn’t bright enough for what I wanted. Finally, I switched to white fabric paint. The white paint provided a nice contrast with the dark denim.

The trial and error part of this craft made the process not as quick the first time. I was cruisin’ by the time I made the second one though!

With the fabric paint method, I found it was easiest to first sketch the letters on with a pen and then paint over the lines with a small paintbrush. I just freehanded the letters.

(I’m painting over the fabric marker in this picture, but the second time I just outlined the letters with an ink pen. Pencil would work too if your denim was light enough.) 

I decided to finish off the pennant with a strip of ribbon from my craft stash.

You could glue the ribbon on with fabric glue. That was my original plan.

Since I had my ironing board out for actual ironing (UGH), it was faster for me to just use a strip of iron-on hem tape to secure the ribbon. Do not get your iron too close to the fabric paint. It can cause it to warp a little.

I debated on how to attach the pennant to a gift bag.

In the end, I decided not to overcomplicate things (for once!) and just used a staple to attach it.

If you’re putting the pennant on top of a wrapped present you could probably just use a few pieces of tape to secure it.

What I like about this gift topper is that if the recipient wants they can keep the denim pennant and hang it on a bulletin board. Or do whatever it is people do with pennants.

If they don’t want to keep it – no biggie.

I’m not particularly concerned with what happens to the present after it is gifted.

These sorts of projects are fun for me. A way to relax and be creative. It’s a bonus if something useful or pretty comes out of the process. Ha!

I think I might be done with denim pennants and other denim crafts for awhile though. Probably. Maybe. We’ll see.

Happy crafting, everyone!


If you liked this post, here are some other DENIM CRAFTS and GIFT TOPPER ideas:

Denim Braided Pumpkin

Denim Striped and Flower Petal Pumpkins

Repurposing Denim Belt Loops to Hang Towels

Junky 4th of July Wreath

Perler Bead Gift Topper

Pom Pom Initial Gift Bag


 

*affiliate links used in this post*

 

 

 

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What Should I Do With This Junky Treasure?

If you’ve been following along on this blog – and thank you for doing that – you’ll remember I talked about our sidewalks being torn up and the amazing memento I now have from the tree that was cut down during the process.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but our driveway apron was torn up too.

A few weeks after the new concrete was poured, I cleaned out the flowerbeds next to the driveway.

Yes, I occasionally do tend to my flowerbeds. I swear!

Do you know what I found when I was weeding that day?

A glorious junky treasure!

Talk about chippy perfection!

It’s a piece of gate hardware that was embedded in the concrete at the base of our driveway. Part of a latch, I think. We no longer have a gate, so it was not a necessary embellishment.

The city workers tore it out when they removed the old concrete and tossed it aside in my flowerbed. Bless them.

I cleaned it up and for that last 3 months have been moving it around my house trying to figure out what to do with it. I KNOW I can do something fun with it. I just haven’t figure out what – yet.

Perhaps you have some ideas?

I measured the hardware for you. It’s roughly 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches.

(As a total side note: Does anyone from the Pacific Northwest remember the Sprouse-Reitz stores? The last ones closed in 1994. That ruler in the above picture has a Sprouse sticker on the back! No joke! So, of all the things I’ve lost or discarded over the years, somehow I’ve managed to keep a ruler from when I was a kid? It’s got to be 25 – 30 years old! )

At first I thought the hardware could be a stand for a book or a 4×6 photograph, but it’s so deep I think it looks a little weird. It’s also not quite tall enough to be a cookbook holder.

I also thought it could be an industrial letter J.

But! The hardware is top heavy, so I’d need to weigh it down to make it stay in the J shape.

It’s heavy enough to function in a hook or stocking holder-type capacity if I had something lightweight to hang off of it. Maybe necklaces? Or a placard of some sort?

I also need to seal it so that the chippy, rusty goodness doesn’t keep creating a mess.

Now, let’s just all assume I’m not crazy for thinking this thing has potential.

I need some ideas on what to do with this junky treasure. What am I missing? Send me your ideas! Please!

Thank you and happy brainstorming!

 

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Christmas Tree 2017

I was gung-ho to decorate for Christmas this year.

Then I opened the Christmas boxes stuffed with holiday decor.

I looked at all the glitz and glitter and did not feel that burst of fa-la-la-magic. Instead, I felt like a tall, curly-haired grinch. Minus the green complexion.

However, the kids were excited to douse the house in Christmas everything! Even though I FELT like a grinch, I didn’t want to BE a grinch. So we blasted Christmas music and got to work spreading holiday cheer around the house.

I set the Christmas tree up in the living room in front of the big window. Then I just looked at it like, “What am I going to do with you now?”

The glitz and glitter, the shine and sparkle was not what I was in the mood for this year. At all.

My son kept asking me when we were going to hang the ornaments on the tree. It only took him 7 1/2 minutes to hang all of his ornaments on the tree in his room, so he was back in the living room ready for more Christmas action in no time.

Imagine how confused he was when I said, “let’s cut up Daddy’s shirt and make ribbons for the tree!”

“Why? We have shiny ornaments!”

It’s a fair point.

It’s hard to explain to him how my minds works. I barely understand it myself!

Understated ribbon on the tree seemed like a good idea because it was the opposite of shiny ornaments. I didn’t have any understated ribbon, but I did have one of Handy Husband’s shirts in the donation pile that would work for making something ribbon-like.

After I tied the newly-made “ribbons” on the tree I decided the tree needed some filler. So I found all the fake flowers and other nature-y things I had and shoved strategically placed them in the tree. I even used some fabric backing material…anything and everything not shiny was fair game. Antlers? Sure! Throw those on there too!

It was at this point that I had the brilliant idea (sarcasm alert) to make ornaments out of my son’s building blocks as a way to give the Christmas tree that handmade touch.

The ornament project took a couple of days to complete though and in the meantime, we weren’t spending any time around the tree! ZERO!

All the effort and none of the enjoyment.

Why? Well…

Our home is the opposite of open concept. Every room has at least one door. Even between the kitchen and dining room there’s a door. This is pretty typical in older Irish homes as it was a way to save money by only heating certain rooms.

It turns out, at this stage in our lives, this particular home’s layout does not work for us. At all. I’m not saying that as a complaint, but more as an interesting observation of our habits and how we live in our space.

The living room is the one room in our home that rarely gets used and THAT’S where I put the tree. Why? Because that’s where Christmas trees go! Or, at least, that’s where I’ve always put our Christmas tree.

This house is much different than all the other places we’ve lived, but I was treating it the same.

No wonder I was feeling like a grinch. All the work to make the tree pretty and we weren’t even enjoying it. In hindsight, my aversion to the shiny ornaments was probably my brain’s early warning system.

After I had this realization, I knew there was a solution. Move the tree to a room where we spend our family time.

Oh, boy. Let me tell you! Dragging a mostly decorated tree across the house and through two doorways without causing major damage is not the easiest thing in the world to accomplish by yourself. Also, just a friendly reminder to unplug the dang tree before you pick it up and start that awkward shuffle to the next room. Not that I know from experience or anything.

Eventually and with the utmost thanks for no photographic evidence of the feat, I was able to get the tree situated in a corner of our dining room. Instantly, I felt SO MUCH BETTER. No more grinch. And no more ridiculous mental drama over a dang tree.

When the kids got home from school that day, they said, “Oh, mama! Now we can eat breakfast AND open presents!” My thoughts exactly, kids.

The dining room is where we spend most of our time as a family. For meals, of course. But also for homework, games, artwork, etc. It makes sense that the Christmas tree should be located where we spend the most time. It might not be the most conventional or make for the best photo op, but it’s what works for our family at this moment in time.

To me, creating spaces that live well for us is part of what makes a pretty happy home.

While I love our un-shiny tree, my son just asked me, “can we hang the shiny ornaments now?”

Sure, buddy.


P.S. I swear our tree does have a top. Apparently, I just didn’t take a picture of it. Also, there is only one real present under the tree in this photo. The rest are fakes to hide the light cords.

P.P.S. Here’s our tree from 2016. Here’s more info about that stool – it was originally made in high school shop class! Our stockings are a partial DIY.

P.P.S.S. While the tree looks close to the fireplace, it really isn’t. Plus, we don’t burn wood in that fireplace – just an occasional candle. So no one freak out.

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Turn Building Blocks Into Christmas Ornaments

Some people do crossword puzzles to keep their brain sharp. I constantly thinking of ways to repurpose items in our home. Totally the same, right? Hmm. The latest idea was to turn my kids’ natural wood building blocks into Christmas ornaments.

Why?? Let me explain…

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the artwork my kids bring home from school. I’ve saved some of it and every year when I open the holiday boxes and see something they made with their cute little toddler (now big kid) hands, I melt into a pile of mom goo.

This is one of my favorite pieces of foot-made handmade artwork.

If handmade items bring me so much holiday cheer, then it stands to reason our tree needed something handmade too.

Like I do with most of my projects, I shop my home for materials first. These wood building blocks “Santa” is playing with were just begging to be repurposed into ornaments.

The building blocks were made by Handy Husband for our son quite awhile ago. Here’s the info on how he made them. We have a huge basket full of them. These are similar, but with more shapes.

Now, I swear I didn’t rip the building blocks out of his little hands simply for my own crafty purposes.

This time. Ha!

Fact is, like so many toys, our son hasn’t played with the building blocks in over a year. At least.

Repurposing 12 of them for a Christmas ornament project didn’t seem like too much of a stretch.

I asked Handy Husband if he would cut the wood blocks in half and drill a hole in the top of each block. He said, “You want how many?” “Sure honey, anything for you.”

The BEST PART of this process was that our son wanted to help daddy.

The kiddo didn’t use the saw, but he helped with measuring, sanding and with supervision he helped drill the holes in the building blocks.

Handy Husband picked up a lot of his DIY skills by watching and helping his dad. Now I see it happening with the next generation and, yes, it’s another ‘melt into a puddle of mom goo’ moment.

After sanding off the rough bits, I added two coats of stain to the blocks using a rag.

For certain projects, especially small ones, I find using a rag to apply the stain is better in terms of ease-of-use and clean-up. I just throw the rag away when I’m done.

Also, I’d definitely recommend using gloves when working with stain. It’s just not fun to wash it off your hands.

In case you are wondering, I use old cutting boards as a work surface for all our small crafty projects that are done in the house. As you can see, they hold up to a lot of wear and tear!

Back to the project…

When the stain was dry I used a paint pen to add a holiday message to the wood block ornaments.

I kept it simple because hand lettering is not my strong suit, but here’s how they turned out.

While I’m using these as ornaments now, in the future I can repurpose them as gift tags!

I do like a versatile DIY project.

Next week I’ll show you how these building blocks, I mean, Christmas ornaments look on our happy little tree! Let me just take some pictures first…

 

*affiliate link to Amazon used in this post

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5 Easy, (mostly) Recyclable Halloween Decorating Ideas

My interest in holiday decorating comes and goes.

I’m not sure why. Different seasons of life, perhaps?

My interest or lack thereof in storing A TON of holiday decor is more steady. I like to keep some Christmas and autumn decor, but I don’t have space or the desire to store items for all the other holidays.

If I can make it and recycle the decor when I’m finished, I consider that a holiday decorating win. 

Here are 5 easy Halloween decorating projects that are low-on-cost, high-on-impact and (mostly) recyclable.

I should note that after I wrote this post, I was doing a little fact checking. Yes, I do aim for accuracy over here. Crazy, I know. Anyway, not all municipalities consider heavily colored or dyed paper recyclable. A few of these decor ideas do involve colored paper. In the event colored paper is not considered recyclable in your area, I’ve tried to offer an alternative. Please craft responsibly. The fate of the planet may depend on it! Or something slightly less dramatic…I didn’t fact check that part. 


PAPER BATS

My kids LOVED coming home to a wall full of bats last year! It was fun to surprise them.

All you need for this craft is construction paper/card stock, scissors and tape. If you don’t have black construction paper or card stock, you could print out bats on regular computer paper too. It will just take a lot of ink.

I printed off a bat outline I found on the internet, traced it onto a bunch of black card stock I had in my stash and then started cutting. Trace, cut, repeat.

The bats are simply taped to the wall.

If you bend the wings on the paper bats slightly it gives a nice 3-D effect.


DIY BOOK COVERS

More construction paper for the win! Use black or brown colored paper to cover books on your shelves.

Then you get to be creative. Use a white colored pencil or crayon to make up faux book titles.

Your book titles can be as chilling or as benign as you want them to be.


PRINTABLE LUNCHBOX NOTES

Alright, this one isn’t home decor, exactly. But it is fun, recyclable and adds some flare to a child’s lunchbox.

You can print out free Halloween lunch box countdown notes here.

Or you could just use this idea and make it your own! A handwritten countdown on a sticky note will be just as memorable for your little ghouls and goblins.


GARDEN MATERIALS BROOMSTICK

Scour your yard or garden for anything you could use to make a broomstick!

I used a long branch and a bunch of palm leaves, but small twigs would work too. Secure the “broom” to the “stick” with hot glue and twine. Tutorial here.

When you are finished with the broom, dismantle it and dispose of it in your yard debris or compost container.


PAPER PUMPKINS

Paper pumpkins are probably my favorite Halloween craft because they can be used through the entire fall season.

Plus, these pumpkins are just so stinking cute!

Also, you don’t have to stick with the classic orange pumpkin!

I’m a big fan of white pumpkins and computer paper works great for this project.

All you need for this project is paper, scissors and tape – lots of tape. Every time you roll up the paper or fold up one of the strips, it will be secured with clear tape. If you don’t have green paper for the stem, you could just color it in with a marker.


I have not gone crazy on Halloween decor (so far) this year. I’m happy to stick with pumpkins this go-around.

In case anyone is wondering, today was the first day I’ve seen real pumpkins for sale in Ireland. This drove me nuts last year, but I’m adjusting my expectations and ‘trying’ to live like a local! Thank goodness for my stash of faux pumpkins. Who knew those would be a necessary item when I was packing up all our earthly possessions for our overseas move. Got rid of the couch, but I kept the faux pumpkins. Clearly, I have my priorities.

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MultiTasking Fail and a Rope Planter

Moms of the world, I hope I’m not the only one think you can relate to this scenario.

One simple thing you have to do. That’s it. One. simple. thing. And you pick a time to sneak away to do the one simple thing when both kids are entertaining themselves. They are old enough to do that now – thank goodness.

My one simple thing was to do something with this planter. It was pink and I started to paint it, which I realized was not going to help. This needed to be a complete cover up job if I wanted to keep the planter.

But the project goes sideways because in the midst of doing that one simple thing Child 1 wants to tell you a story. Verbal feedback is not enough. Child 1 is convinced you can’t actually listen without making eye contact. So you hear, “mom. Mom. MOM. MOOOOMMMM!” over and over again. Even though that child is standing right next to you and tugging on your shirt.

So you’re in the middle of the one simple thing. You’re also trying to make eye contact and listen to the story about whether or not the Titanic can crush a diamond.

Then Child 2 starts calling, “mom. Mom. MOM. MOOOOMMM!!!” from another room. This upsets Child 1 who now has to restart the entire story (See? I was listening.) about the Titanic and diamonds.

Never mind that hollering “mom” from the other room if no one is bleeding is expressly forbidden, which means I have to ignore the yelling until Child 2 gives up and comes to find me, interrupting Child 1’s story AGAIN to ask why I couldn’t hear them calling “mom.”

*sigh*

That’s when I rotated the planter, looked down and realized my cover up job that involved glue was looking less than covered up. While my perfectionistic streak does not run deep, it runs deep enough to know I’d need to start this project over.

I’m sure there are a whole host of things I could have done differently in this scenario.

Sometimes people on the internet are very helpful to point out all those different things. So helpful.

I’m just going to call this a multitasking fail.

The important thing is family harmony was restored and it wasn’t too difficult to fix the error.

Ah, much better!

If you want to try this project yourself minus the drama, all it takes is rope and hot glue. I used 1/2″ Twisted Sisal Rope, which is the same rope I used on this mirror makeover.

Just pay attention to all sides of your project as you glue the rope to the ceramic or plastic planter. Scroll up if you’ve forgotten.

To make the ends blend in a little better, I cut them on an angle. This helped hide where the rope started and finished.

I’ve been using this planter for several months and so far, so good on how it is holding up. I will say I am careful when watering the plant. Also, this planter doesn’t have any drainage, so it is functioning as a shell around a smaller planter.

I’m just so darn happy I’ve kept this plant alive since the spring. That’s six months longer than I’ve kept any other indoor plant alive. Go me!

The only thing left to resolve is COULD the Titanic crush a diamond?

 

 

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Pom Pom Initial Gift Bag

I confess. I’m a gift bag re-user.

I’m sure you are all SO shocked to hear this news.

Reusing gift bags has its limits though. Especially when your kid notices Santa uses the same gift bags that mom uses for birthdays.

EEK!

That’s just one of the reasons why I keep a stash of plain gift bags on hand.

White or brown paper bags work for every occasion. Girl birthday, boy birthday, teacher gift, special gift from the jolly man in a red suit, etc.

The other and perhaps larger part of why I like having plain gift bags on hand is that I have fun decorating them.

No surprise there.

A 10-year-old kid doesn’t care too much about the bag a present comes in.

No surprise there.

So if I’m going to make the effort for something that’s considered disposable by many people, it’s because I enjoy doing it.

For real.

Now, this is a project you can do with kids.

Because all it involves is glue and pom poms.

The only reason I have 5 MILLION and 26 pom poms to use up is because of my kids.

Regular glue works, but takes longer than I wanted to wait forever to dry.

Hot glue gets instant results and you’ll know if the pom poms are sufficiently attached to survive the trip to the party. That’s my barometer of success for this project.

For these particular gifts, I decided to use the first initial of the recipient’s name. A number could work too. For instance, if someone is turning 29…again. It would be just as cute to randomly glue the pom poms on the bag polka-dot style. A line of pom poms around the top of the bag would be fun too.

I could go on with these ideas, but I’m sure you get the point.

I wouldn’t go out and buy pom poms just for this purpose, but if you’re like me and have some you feel guilty throwing away, this is a fun, quick, easy way to use up 25 of them. Now I only have 5 Million and 1 to go!

In case you think I’ve lost my marbles (I probably have), I just read that Domino Magazine thinks pom poms are the new tassels! Well, that’s a happy bit of validation yes, yes they are indeed.

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Striped and Flower Petal Denim Pumpkins

Bet you were hoping I was done with the denim projects, huh?

Nope! Hahahaha!

I’m 97.328% sure this is the last post about denim pumpkins though, you lucky ducks!

You already know all about the braided denim pumpkin.

I don’t like to play favorites, but there is a reason I shared its textured gorgeousness first.

It wasn’t my first trip to the denim pumpkin patch though!

On my first trip I created a striped denim pumpkin made out of strips of cut-up jeans. I didn’t measure. I didn’t worry about straight lines. In other words, a project right up my alley!

The only thing you’ll need to make this pumpkin is a styrofoam pumpkin, old jeans (or those new ones that look old), scissors, hot glue and twine.

I used shorter strips of denim to cover the majority of the pumpkin and then finished with longer strips to cover up the remaining bits. The longer strips then became the foundation for the stem, which was just wrapped in twine and sealed with a bit of glue.

The last denim pumpkin I made was what I’m calling a flower petal pumpkin. Or maybe it has a slight acorn vibe to it?

I actually like this one more in person than I do in the pictures.

Most everything is better in real life though! Except skunks.

I gave the pumpkin a quick coat of really dark blue paint.

Then I hot glued denim circles around the top of the pumpkin and added a branch for a stem.

Faster than you can drink a pumpkin spiced latte it’s DONE!

These Dollar Store pumpkins are hollow, so it’s easy to cut off the stem it comes with and add a branch instead.

Not going to lie – it was fun to experiment with this project!

It’s a shame I ran out of pumpkins because I do have a few more makeover ideas.

Plus, a half a pair of jeans left!

These pumpkins might not be everyone’s jam. Shocking, I know!

I’m cool with that though.

I hope when you read posts like this one, you might feel encouraged to challenge yourself to reuse or repurpose something in a way that brings you a bit of happiness when you look at it, use it or gift it. You never know where the creative journey might take you!

 

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Horseshoe Pumpkins Go Mainstream

Questions have come up recently about my DIY horseshoe pumpkin.

This is, in part, because my braided denim pumpkin and the horseshoe pumpkin by extension were honored with a Salvaged Junk feature on Funky Junk Interiors last week.

You know how much I love salvaged junk, so this really made my day!

When I told my 7-year-old son about this good news, I thought he’d say, “cool.”

Instead, he reached over, patted my shoulder and with all sincerity said, “I’m happy for you.”

This might not seem like a big deal to you, but I’m living through a very long season of fart jokes. In that moment, hope sprang eternal that he might someday grow into an emotionally mature young man.

That was, by far, more rewarding than any work accolade.

In the two years since we made our horseshoe pumpkins out of authentic, seen-some-trail-time-on-an-actual-horse horseshoes, it appears this idea has made it into the retail mainstream.

It doesn’t take them long, does it?

A friend messaged me this past weekend with a picture of a horseshoe pumpkin she scored at a store called Real Deals. It looked really cool! It was a little more symmetrical and less rusty than my version. I loved it.

A reader asked me if it was possible to make a horseshoe pumpkin without using a welder.

My gut reaction was “no.” I’m still leaning hard in that direction.

My second reaction was “maybe” because I can’t discount the ingenuity of a determined and creative mind!

It wouldn’t look like mine or any others that are for sale right now though. The horseshoes are heavy, so keeping them in place would be the tricky part. Perhaps you could do it with a heck of a lot of wire and a dowel for the stem? Horseshoes are magnetic, so maybe there’s something possible with magnets? Perhaps you could create a discreet base to secure the horseshoes?

I’m sure someone will figure it out!

Here’s the step-by-step of how we made our version. It’s a lot easier if you have 8 horseshoes that are the exact same size and shape, which you can see, we did not.

If you are intent on making one yourself and don’t have a welder, I think any auto/machine shop in town could weld one together for you in 10 minutes. Perhaps someone in your neighborhood has a welder that you could trade a plate of cookies in exchange for this very easy welding project?

It’s worth a shot! Everyone loves cookies!

Or, you could try Etsy. I found a bunch of sellers there offering horseshoe pumpkins for $30 – 40. I liked this rustic one and this painted one was nice. If Amazon is more your style, this mini rustic horseshoe pumpkin was less than $15 earlier this week.

This is the third year I’ve pulled out our horseshoe pumpkins and they still make me happy! Hurray for dumpster diving and all the salvaged junk projects out there!

 

 

affiliate links used in the post

 

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DIY Geometric Mirror Using Children’s Blocks

A friend and I were discussing DIY fails the other day. Always a cheery topic.

The reality of my life is that some projects turn out and others…not so much.

She mentioned that IF I have flops, I don’t share them on the ol’ blog.

Well, duh! I don’t share pictures of the gravity-defying things my hair does when I wake up in the morning either. But maybe I should. It would certainly shock and awe.

I do try to share the foibles that inevitably come with most of my projects though.

Today I’m sharing a project FILLED with foibles. It’s cup runneth over with what NOT to do.

But if you stand about 10-feet back and squint one eye at the finished product, you might say, “Dang! That looks sweet!” If I’m being brutally honest, a lot of days, that’s good enough for me.

Here’s how the project started…

My daughter has had the same small mirror in her bedroom for practically her entire life. It’s not a good mirror. It has a cheap frame around it and the finish was made worse by me letting a 5-year-old “help” paint the mirror from pink to purple. If you haven’t let a 5-year-old help you paint yet, you’re smarter than me really missing out.

A combination of time, a few moves, cheap construction and a bad paint job made the mirror less than ideal.

This is, to me, what makes a mirror a good candidate for a DIY experiment. One of those crafty ideas you’re not sure will work, but if it did work I would be sure to humble brag about it it would be pretty amazing.

My crafty idea was to see if I could use these children’s geometric blocks to makeover the mirror. Pretty much every preschool classroom on the planet (I hardly ever exaggerate) has a set of these wooden pattern blocks.

My kids loved them so much at school that I bought a set for home use. The kiddos hardly ever used them at home, of course have outgrown the wood blocks, but they are really cool!

Just the wrong color for what I had in mind.

Here’s some more brutal honesty. When my DIY projects flop, it’s usually because I lack the attention-to-detail the project requires. Meticulous measuring? Not my thing. Fine precision? Not my thing. More than 3 steps? Not my thing.

If I had calculated the trajectory to the moon, you would have ended up on Jupiter instead. I would have said, “Ah, close enough! At least you made it to space! I was worried there for a second when you blasted off!”

But I digress.

I started out by playing around with the various shapes trying to see what might look interesting and what might actually fit on the mirror frame.

Then I drew a template and traced it onto the mirror frame. So far, so good.

But! There’s always a but.

It ended up being just a tad off.

If you are a perfectionist you might want to skip over this next part.

Instead of starting over and redrawing the template, I just fudged the blocks a little to make it work.

Classic me.

Adhering the blocks to the mirror frame was a bit tricky. They are slippery little suckers! It was hard to keep them in an exact position. That’s why I decided to use hot glue. Once I attached them, they weren’t going to move.

Hot glue has three downsides for this project

1. Once I attached the blocks, they were weren’t going to move. HA! It was good if I put the block down in the exact right position. It was bad if I didn’t. Please refer to the above list of why my projects flop for an indication of how well this part of the process went.

2. If anything happens to the mirror – Say it gets a hard jolt while falling off the temporary place you’ve hung it, some of the shapes can easily pop off. Yes, this happened to me! And it wasn’t immediately after hanging it. It was 20 minutes later after I’d done the victory dance. I just had to shake my head when I heard the crash.

3) The glob of hot glue raises the blocks up ever-so-slightly. It’s not noticeable until you go to paint the mirror and realize it doesn’t have a clean finish because a shape here and there is slightly higher than another one.

(I think the below picture is from before I glued everything down because it looks wonkier than the final version. Wonkier is a technical DIY term.)

After the blocks were glued onto the mirror frame, I taped off the mirror surface so I could spray paint the frame and finally finish this project!

In hindsight (and by hindsight I mean immediately after I started painting), I would have painted the frame and the blocks separately.

It was a pain to get the spray paint in all the nooks and crannies of this project. And if a block falls off, then you have an unpainted surface underneath and special care has to be made to replace the block in the exact same position.

It also made it difficult to sand any imperfections between paint coats. By imperfections I mean the dust particles or bugs that landed on the mirror. So. many. bugs.

By the way, when the blocks fell off, I had the opportunity (see how I made that a positive thing?) to reattach them with an all-purpose, heavy duty glue.

In small batches, this approach seemed to work well and those blocks are much more secure now. Lesson learned.


I’m laying it bare with how this project went because I want you to know that DIY projects (mine and I’m willing to bet most people’s) are not picture perfect processes. Things happen. Mistakes are made. This particular project had more hiccups than most. 

But! There’s always a but!

That’s how I learn. Fail. Try Again. Fail. Adjust. Readjust. Tweak. Improve.

It can be hard to go through that process in the public eye. No one wants to share how their freshly spray painted project got attacked by a swarm of gnats because they left it outside to dry! Twice. Okay, three times.

I have to laugh at myself and not take things too seriously. It’s not like I’m sending people into space.

The Internet needs to come with a warning sign similar to the one on car mirrors. “Projects on this website/blog/social media may appear way more glamorous than real life.”

Real life DIY can be messy, imperfect and an oddly-satisfying experience.

I’m not entirely displeased with how this geometric mirror makeover ultimately turned out. Especially if I squint and stand 10-feet back from it!

Most importantly, I learned from this experience and know how to do it better next time.

And there WILL be a next time.

After all, I have an entire bucket of blocks to use up!

Happy creating, everyone!

 

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