Category Archives: holidays

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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Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail 2017

We are counting down the days until we celebrate our second Christmas living in Ireland!

Last year I didn’t know what to expect as far as the holidays go and I was pleasantly surprised to see that everyone – including retailers – really get into the Christmas spirit here. This makes sense given the heavy Catholic influence in Ireland.

There is no “buffer holiday” between Halloween and Christmas in Ireland, so the holiday decorations starting going up in early November. As an example of how early festivities start, the tree lighting event in our town was on November 18. Santa arrived on a Harley Davidson (why not?) to turn on the town’s Christmas lights. Then there was a fireworks show, which we watched from the pier along the bay. It was pretty fantastic!

Retailers get in on the action too. They don’t miss an opportunity! Perhaps it is no surprise then that Black Friday IS a thing here. It came to the U.K. and Ireland not too many years ago due, in large part, to the influence of American retailers. It happens on Thanksgiving weekend, just like in the U.S.

Today, as I did last year, I am sharing some pictures of Christmas in Irish retail. Mainly just storefronts because I avoid actually going IN stores for holiday shopping as much as possible.

These pictures were taken on my daily commute around South Dublin. The lighting and conditions are less than ideal. Terribly, really. So, in the spirit of the season, please forgive the quality of the images and ALL the window glare!

Come along on my walk…


Here’s a children’s clothing retailer riffing on the magic of the season.

Right next door is a men’s clothing store giving me ALL THE PANIC.

You’ll see why…

Really, people? Really? That typo made me hightail it out of town the mall!

Kidding, but I did leave town to get pictures of the Blarney Woollen Mills during our visit to Blarney Castle.

This is the largest gift shop in Ireland according to their sign.

If I’m going to be in a store this is the type I’d choose!

The Christmas decorations were among the best I’ve seen this year.

The store had a mixture of high-end clothing and home goods coupled with your traditional souvenir tchotchkes.

Closer to home, here’s the sidewalk outside of a cute flower shop.

I see this every Wednesday when I drop my daughter off for her painting class.

An outdoor retailer opened a new location near us and this is their Christmas display.

It’s been quite cold lately in Dublin, so I’m sure their business is hopping!

I’m pretty sure I shared this one last year, but it’s just such a sweet window.

The animals all move and the kids love it.

This cafe is never open when I walk by early in the morning.

That’s a shame because look at their tree!

You know I’d like to make one!

Handy Husband is a little bah-humbug on the idea. He says things like, “what would we do with it?” And I say, “hang all of our leather flipflop keychains let’s not worry about the details.”

Here’s one of the windows from the bookstore, Eason.

Eason is like the Barnes and Noble of bookstores in the U.K. and Ireland. This is also where you buy things like office and school supplies.

Even thrift stores get in the Christmas spirit. This one is run by St. Vincent de Paul.

There is not one dominant thrift store retailer like Goodwill or Savers in Ireland. Instead, every single charity runs a tiny thrift store. I might have to write more about that at some point.

I also shared this storefront window last year. I just love what this high-end women’s clothing shop does to decorate for Christmas.

You can see a very nice reflection of a church in the window too. These pictures…oh well.

I’m not exactly sure what this place does, but they sure like cold weather creatures.

Not a storefront, but the best use of a trash can I’ve seen in awhile!

Also, they call them bins instead of cans. So, a garbage truck is a bin lorry.

I love the use of greenery on the front of this cafe.

It’s hard to tell in this picture, but they have blankets on each of those barstools so you can wrap up while you drink your latte. I like small touches like that.


As I finished typing this post, I looked up and IT WAS SNOWING! Teeny tiny flakes, but it was snow! That counts. Being right on the Irish Sea with moderate temperatures, it is really hard for it to snow in Dublin.

My kids are at school and I just hope they got to see it. It lasted maybe 10 minutes and, of course, did not stick. My son put a wish for snow on the wishing tree at a local church last week and he would be so happy to see his wish come true.

P.S. If you want to see last year’s Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail post, click here.

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Board Games Even I Enjoy

I’m not sure what you guys lie in bed at night watching.

Game of Thrones? Friends reruns? Stranger Things? The 10 O’Clock News? This Is Us?

Do you want to know what I fall asleep listening to Handy Husband watches?

YouTube videos of people playing board games.

Try not to be jealous of my life.

This is akin to my kids watching YouTube videos of people playing Minecraft instead of just playing Minecraft themselves.

I’m giving you this window into my very glamorous life to illustrate an important point. When Handy Husband takes on a hobby, you can be guaranteed that he will take that hobby on 110%. There’s no half-way. All the research is done. I kid you not there’s probably a spreadsheet somewhere detailing spreadsheet-y board game things. He will read game reviews and participate in online discussion forums. Yes, they have those for board games. All of this activity is before he’s even ordered the game.

Handy Husband is fighting an uphill battle because while the kids LOVE playing board games with daddy, I’m not so much into board games. Finding a game that kids, adults and non-game players enjoy, well, that’s the kind of challenge he likes to tackle.

For this Cyber Monday, I’m sharing 5 board games that kids of all ages, from 7 to 70, have enjoyed playing at our house lately. Even me. Chances are you’ll enjoy them too!


Tsuro: The Game of the Path

Tsuro is a tile laying path game for 2 – 8 players. Lay a tile ‘path’ for your game piece to follow and if you are the last one on the board – you win.

This game is a nice balance between luck and strategy. Luck with what tiles you draw and strategy for the order in which you lay the tiles down.

board games Tsuro

I have videos of my 7-year-old son and my 71-year-old father playing this game together that make my heart ache with happiness to see those two matching wits.

board games Tsuro play shot

The other thing I really appreciate about this game – parents, I know you’ll get me – is it doesn’t take long to play!

Handy Husband wants to get Tsuro of the Seas next because it adds a dice element to the game. I’ll keep you posted on that one!


Onitama Board Game

This 2-player game has won an award for best abstract game, which might make it sound hard to play, but it’s not. If my 7-year-old can do it and teach his buddies how to play, so can you!

board games onitama box

Onitama has a bit of a chess feel to it in it’s simplicity and timeless feel. You can move your pawns around the game board, but your moves are restricted to the instructions on the cards you hold.

As an added twist, the card (or move) you play will go to your opponent next. So you not only have to strategize how the card will impact your pawns, but also your opponent’s pawns.

board games onitama play shot


Sheriff of Nottingham

Here’s the manufacturer’s description of this game: “You have come to Nottingham with your goods on market day, and the only thing standing between you and your hard-earned profits is the Sheriff. All you need to do is bluff or bribe your way past him…or maybe, tell the truth!”

board games sheriff of nottingham box

I’m not sure which is funnier – when Handy Husband plays the role of sheriff in this game or when my kids do!

Either way, to see my kids try and bluff their way through this game is equal parts funny and scary!

Sheriff of Nottingham does require some set-up, so it isn’t the quickest game to play straight out of the box. If you’re giving it for Christmas, you might want to read the directions before you wrap it up.

board games sheriff of nottingham play shot


Love Letter

Next up on the list is Love Letter!

Here’s the game set-up from the manufacturer: “In the wake of the queen’s arrest, all the eligible young men of Tempest (and many not so young) seek to woo Princess Annette. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and everyone must rely on those within the palace to bring their romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first?

Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck, for 2–4 players. Get your love letter into Princess Annette’s hands while keeping other players’ letters away. Powerful cards lead to early gains, but make you a target. Rely on weaker cards for too long and your letter may be tossed in the fire!”

 

board games love letter shot

In full disclosure, it took 4 of us adults one and a half rounds of playing this game before we understood the rules. Basically, we were WAY over-thinking it. (I think know my kids caught on faster.) After that, it clicked and it was a breeze.

The entire game fits in a small pouch, so this is a game that travels well. It also doesn’t take long to play a round because there are only 16 cards.

2 players can play, but it is much more fun with 3 or 4.

board games love letter play shot


Deep Sea Adventure by Oink Games

Last, but certainly not least on my list is Deep Sea Adventure by Oink Games.

In this game, each player is an undersea explorer with dreams of striking it rich by finding treasure. Unfortunately, each of the explorers is still poor and their budgets (or lack thereof) mean they have decided to share a submarine and a single tank of air on their next deep sea dive.

They have to collect treasure and get back to the submarine before they run out of air.

board games deep sea adventure box

This “push your luck” game is interesting because there can be a bit of cooperation at the beginning, but then everyone develops their own strategy of how much treasure they want to collect at the expense of their companions.

The other pro to this game is it is compact, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space on the shelf and it travels well. The game is played in multiple rounds, but each round doesn’t take long to play.

board games deep sea adventure play shot


Let me wrap this post up by saying I still don’t consider myself a board gamer. After all, I’m the girl that collects decks of cards, but rarely plays a card game.

But!

When Handy Husband goes to the trouble to find board games we ALL will enjoy playing together, I will happily give them a chance. With busy lives and electronics vying for our attention, encouraging quality family time with shared experiences seems more urgent to me lately.

Handy Husband has picked board games that make us think, laugh and don’t drive me absolutely nuts. If you’ve ever played seemingly endless games of Candy Land with a preschooler, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

This week we are learning a new game called Mysterium. If it makes the cut, I’ll tell you all about it later.

 

P.S. The YouTube series that plays through all these games is called TableTop with Will Wheaton.

*affiliate links to Amazon used in this post*

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What I’m Thankful For Ain’t On No List

First of all, apologies to my Grandma Olsson for using the word ain’t in the title of this post.

I’m fairly certain if she could reprimand me from heaven she would! That was NOT a word we were allowed to use as grandchildren of a teacher. I think it was right up there with naughty words or ‘barnyard talk’ as she called it. Maybe worse!

Since she was the sweetest grandma to walk the planet (I’m not biased or anything), I think she would forgive me just this once because I’m merely quoting a song written by Trisha Yearwood.

Yes, I’m trying to get off on a technicality.

The first stanza of the song, What I’m Thankful For, is how I’m feeling this week of Thanksgiving.

What I’m thankful for ain’t on no list
For it only in my heart exists
For time has helped me understand
The things I can’t hold in my hand

My heart is full right now because our dear friends from Atlanta are spending Thanksgiving Week with our family.

These are the friends that made Georgia feel like home and the friends that really made it hard to leave and come to Ireland.

Plus, they adopted our cat. If that doesn’t say sucker friendship, I don’t know what does.

We have no plans for the week other than their kids are going to school with our kids today!

I don’t even know if we’ll have a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. Mainly because I don’t want to carry a turkey home in my backpack turkeys are trickier to find until Christmas time here in Ireland.

What I do know is we will have endless amounts of fun catching up and showing them around the island. Every moment will be one I’ll tuck away in my heart and I know saying “see you later” at the end of the week will be hard.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the U.S. Thank you for being one of THE BEST PARTS of my world.

I will see you back here next Monday.


P.S. If you want to print off that Thanksgiving card, here’s the link.

P.P.S. If you haven’t heard What I’m Thankful For, here’s an all-star lineup singing it.

If you like a classic country voice, this cover of the song is top notch.

 

 

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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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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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Braided Denim Pumpkin

I have these illusions that I’m an unique, one-of-a-kind, broke-the-mold sort of person.

But I’m really just like most people. In fact, I’m just like the MILLIONS of other crafty people in the world who have fallen down the rabbit hole known as The Dollar Store and emerged with a styrofoam pumpkin.

Okay, okay. I have six Dollar Store pumpkins. Six. But that’s all, I swear.

And you can’t just buy a Dollar Store pumpkin and be done with it. Nooo. No way. That’s against the code. Something crafty must be done with those Dollar Store pumpkins or you develop an eye twitch and bad luck for 7 years.

Or so I’ve heard.

I decided my Dollar Store pumpkin was a good candidate for a denim makeover. If you’ve been reading this blog in the last few months, you will know I have been repurposing Handy Husband’s old jeans. I’m determined to put this material to good use and this might be my favorite project until the next one yet. (I say that every time!)

To make a braided denim pumpkin, gather up your supplies: old jeans, styrofoam pumpkin, scissors, hot glue gun, needle and thread.

Then you’ll begin the most gratifying part of this project – cutting up a pair of jeans!

It feels a little naughty the first time you do it. Then, it’s sort of empowering. Like you are a superhero saving the entire neighborhood from an accidental flash of your husband’s boxer briefs from the blown out crotch in his jeans saving the planet by repurposing an item destined for the landfill.

You’ll be cutting the jeans into long, thin strips. I pretty much winged it because this is not a project you should over think. It’s a Dollar Store pumpkin, not the Mona Lisa. My strips were approximately 1/3-inch wide by 10-inches long.

I’d say this project took a good chunk of the right leg of this pair of relaxed-fit jeans. Plan accordingly if you are working with skinny jeans.

This next part may or may not have been necessary. It’s just what happened while I was winging my way through the process. Since I didn’t want my braid to come unraveled before I attached it to the pumpkin, I held the 3 strips together and secured them with a couple of stitches of blue thread. I probably could have used hot glue, but this just seemed easier and less glue-stringy at the time.

Then I braided the denim and secured the other end of the braid with a few more hand stitches.

I repeated this process about twenty or so a million times.

The last part of the process was to hot glue my braided strips onto the pumpkin.

I did not want to add bulk to the bottom of the pumpkin, so I never glued an end of one braid on top of another braid. No overlapping, I did get the braids as close together as I could though to hide the orange styrofoam.

As the gaps between the glued-on braids started to close, I ended up cutting my braids to size because I didn’t need the final braids to be as long as the ones I started out with.

My original intent was to trim the very first and longest braids to fit close to the stem. However, I decided I liked the curly-Q effect, so I left a few.

Here’s how it turned out…

I also gave this faux pumpkin a stem upgrade! It’s super easy! I used a craft knife to cut off the styrofoam stem.

It turns out the pumpkin is hollow! That’s one mystery solved.

Then I shoved carefully inserted a branch into the pumpkin to act as a stem. I had intended on glueing the branch in and may need to in the future as the styrofoam breaks away, but for now, it doesn’t need it.

I love the texture the denim braids provide.

And since denim goes with everything, this pumpkin works with a variety of color schemes.

I’m smitten with this pumpkin. Absolutely adore it.

Beyond that, I’m happy I took an hour of “me time” to sit down and create something pretty for my home. This time it was a braided denim pumpkin. Next time…who knows?

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Golf Ball Pumpkins

How does a non-golfing family end up with a bucket of golf balls?

I imagine it’s the usual way.

We scavenged for them.

In our version of “I Spy” we search the beach at low tide for golf balls hidden under rocks. At the top of the cliffs above the beach there is a park and it seems some golfers like hitting balls into the ocean. Naughty, naughty.

Collecting the golf balls is great fun, but I needed something to do with the growing collection other than take up an expensive hobby play golf.

My daughter and her friends transformed the first bunch into emojis.

That project was super cute, but it did not deplete the golf ball reserves.

As the days on the calendar moved closer to autumn, I knew there was only one thing to do…turn the rest of the golf balls into mini pumpkins.

And it’s so easy. Paint the golf balls and then hot glue on a stem! That’s it!

But because I like to hear the sound of my own typing, I’m going to riff a bit on this project.

First and foremost, no matter what type of paint you decide to use, painting round objects takes time.

So. Much. Time.

Pull on your patience pants because you cannot rush things. You need to make sure the paint is fully dry – not just dry to the touch – before you rotate the golf balls to paint another section.

Now, it turns out that plastic shot glasses make a perfect pedestal to hold the golf balls while painting. Again, just make sure they dry FULLY before you rotate.

Otherwise, the paint will get dinged up and that little fiasco will make you want to use those shot glasses for their intended purpose. Not that I know this from experience or anything.

Spray paint with primer would work great for transforming the golf balls into pumpkins. I ended up not finding the exact spray paint color I was looking for, so I decided to experiment with mixing acrylic paints to achieve a custom color.

What happened next was a happy accident. I didn’t really know how much paint this project would require. Covering over the writing on the balls ended up taking several coats of paint. I didn’t count, but 4 or 5 coats maybe? And this was over the course of a few days.

Essentially, I was mixing the paint each time I brushed on a new layer. So that meant the balls ended up with slightly different colors. Pumpkins aren’t uniform. In fact, they are imperfect and quirky, so this worked for me.

I excel at justifying my DIY outcomes.

The pumpkin “stems” were procured from a shrub growing in my garden. I trimmed the twig to my desired size with scissors and glued it on with a dab of hot glue. I added the green twine (also with hot glue) as I thought it made my pumpkins look a little more pumpkin-esque.

Beware! The glued-on stems are a bit fragile. So if you’re going to take photos of your cute pumpkins and one rolls off the table…the stem is probably going to pop off and you’ll need to glue it back on. Not that this happened to me or anything.

*cough* twice *cough*

As I prepare to bathe the entire house in pumpkin-everything, I think my new golf ball pumpkins will find a home in a pretty bowl in my living room. Or on the dining room table. We’ll see.

Also, if pumpkins aren’t your thing – don’t tell anyone – that could turn ugly!

But if pumpkins really aren’t your thing, you could paint the golf balls red instead and make APPLES!!

Wow. That was a happy little plot twist. This blog. Always keeps you asking why on your toes.

 

P.S. Please don’t buy new golf balls for this project. Ask around first. Golfers will often have a ton of practice balls that aren’t in great shape that they will be willing to part with for free or cheap.

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