Stream On

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about our wedding, and I promised here to share details on the DIY projects that made the day happen.  So, in order to not break promises, today I thought I’d spill the beans on the  big focal point of our reception – the streamer backdrop.

I was actually inspired to do this pretty late in the game, with only a few months left ’til the wedding.  But, this project seemed so simple and inexpensive that I simply couldn’t resist.  First, I’ve got to share my inspiration.

Rachel’s (of Heart of Light) inspirational backdrop. Click on the photo to be taken to the blog article at 100 Layer Cake featuring her amazing instructions.

How beautiful is that?!  When I stumbled upon this photo, I was smitten and knew such a simple decoration would fit right in with our backyard reception, while adding some drama.  Rachel created this backdrop herself and provided very helpful instructions.  Please visit the  source article to view those instructions.

Rachel also directs folks to Oh Happy Day, where she learned to make fringey streamers.  This tutorial was also so helpful.  I also found that I LOVED this blog and fell in love with a number of additional articles featured there.  I highly recommend stopping by.

So, with both tutorials at my fingertips, I got to work.  I purchased my crepe paper from crepepaperstore.com per Rachel’s suggestion.  The online store had great prices.  My husband (or fiance at the time) was tasked with buying wooden dowels from the hardware store. We bought four, 5′ dowels for a total of twenty feet of backdrop.  I also bought silver foil curtains from Amazon (it was the same price on Amazon as at Oriental Trading where Rachel made the purchase, but I got free shipping on Amazon).  And I already had hot glue gun supplies.

After my supplies were gathered, I arranged my crepe paper and prepped all of my streamers.  Then I arranged them by color to make it easier for me to see which colors I wanted to use while I was applying them to the dowels.

My crepe paper ready for dowel attachment.

My crepe paper ready for dowel attachment.

I filled one dowel at a time.  I completed the first dowel at my home, attached the foil curtain to the back, wrapped it in a sheet and transported it to my sister’s house (the reception site) – all per Rachel’s instructions.  When I got to my sister’s, and we unrolled the streamers, we found that the foil backdrop had gotten extremely tangled and it took us quite a while to sort everything out.  I was so concerned because everything felt so delicate and I still had three more dowels to complete.  Then, my sister had a bright idea – why don’t I put everything together at her house.  Then we wouldn’t have to worry about transporting anything.  My sister – so smart!!

I spent the next couple of weekends at her house building the backdrop.  I think my favorite part about this project was getting the extra time with my four-year old nephew and ring bearer, Ricky.  He was very interested in what I was doing.  He was caught up in the excitement of the big event taking place at his house.  He assured me that he was going to have a wedding of his own and he was also rather interested in getting one of the streamer dowels installed in his bedroom.  But, of all of our conversations, I think my favorite went something like this:

Ricky: Auntie, you’re getting married.
Me: Yes, I know.  Are you excited for the wedding?
Ricky: Yes. And I’m going to look handsome and you’re going to be beautiful… Mommy said so.

I think my heart about burst out of my chest at that.

But, back to the streamer project.  We finished everything on time.  When deciding where to hang the dowels we discovered that the foil curtain continued to get tangled up whenever the slightest breeze blew, so I decided not to add anymore of it to the remaining three dowels.  My brother-in-law and his dad hung up the streamers the morning of the wedding and it was and is the hit of the party.

This backdrop helped create some of my favorite photos caught by our photographer.  It served as the backdrop for toasts and the dance floor and over all was the least expensive way to add drama, style, to our wedding celebration.

My favorite photo captured by our photographer.  My husband and I dancing up a storm with the streamer backdrop catching a breeze behind us.

My favorite photo captured by our photographer. My husband and I dancing up a storm with the streamer backdrop catching a breeze behind us.

My beautiful sisters, and matrons of honor, making a toast in front of the streamer project

My beautiful sisters, and matrons of honor, making a toast in front of the streamer project.

What do you think?  Do you have any similar backdrops that you’ve created for parties or weddings?

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A Homemade Valentine

Okay, I know this one is a bit late.  But, I didn’t want to post what I was working on until after I gave the gifts I created to their recipients.

Each year, I create little Valentine packages for our local nieces and nephews.  I will usually go to Target and pick-up a plastic bucket from the dollar aisle, add candy to it, et voila a completed valentine for the kiddos.  This year, the only thing I bought from Target was the candy.  I was determined to make my own receptacles for the goodies.

At home, I gathered my supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Colored paper (two shades of red, and a mint green for contrast)
  • Letter stickers
  • Tape
  • Brown lunch bags (of which I have hundreds left over from the wedding)
  • Cellophane bags (also wedding leftovers)

Then, I set to work.  I cut out multiple hearts in various sizes.  I would need enough for five bags (four for the nieces and nephews and one for my folks).

I arranged some hearts on a bag until I found the design I liked.  Then I taped them down.  I added letter stickers for the name of the recipient.  On a couple of the bags (for the older kids) I added a scrapbook sticker with a special quote.

An example of my first treat bag for our niece, Mary.

An example of my first treat bag for our niece, Mary.

Each of the bags only took about five – ten minutes and were rather fun to create.  When they were done, I lined them up and started to divide the candy.  Some of the candy – like Jelly Beans and M&M’s – didn’t come in individual packaging.  So, those went into a cellophane bag.  I ended up adding some other colorful candy to the bag as shown below.

Valentine shades look sweet altogether.

Valentine shades look sweet altogether.

I tied off each bag with a silver tie and added it to the brown bag.  The whole project could not have taken me more than an hour and as I said before was a lot of fun to work on.

Here are some shots of the final products.

Something special for Mary and Jacob.

Something special for Mary and Jacob.

Presents for my other Valentines, nephews Ryan, Ricky, and my folks.

Presents for my other Valentines, nephews Ryan, Ricky, and my folks.

So, what do you think?  Did you make any homemade Valentines?  What did you do?

Easy Come

With the passing of the holidays, it was time to take down my Christmas wreath and change it over to something new.  And that something new would be a Valentine’s Day wreath.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything on hand to aid the transformation.  A trip to the craft store was in order (oh, darn).  While there, I was also able to plan ahead for March and April.

For a quick reminder, here’s how the wreath last looked for Christmas.

The Christmas Wreath

The Christmas Wreath

Pretty simple.  For Valentine’s Day, I went a bit further and purchased some big fake flowers and red ribbon to create this monstrosity:

Valentine Wreath

Valentine Wreath

I’m quite proud of it.  I tried to take pictures of my process for you, but the lighting where I was working wasn’t too great and let’s be honest, I was snapping pictures with my phone.  The good news is, I don’t think it took me more than 30 minutes from start to finish and most of that time was engaged in trial and error.  If you’re interested, you can check out my steps below.

Step 1: I wrapped the wreath in tulle (which I had leftover from the wedding).  The tulle provided various folds through which I slid the flower stems.  Remember that my goal is to add decoration to the burlap-wrapped base without using glue.

Step 1

Step 1

Step 2: Securing the Flowers

After I arranged the flowers to my liking, I noticed some of them felt a little loose (see figure 1).  So, I devised a plan to secure them using an extra strip of tulle. Starting at one end of the flowers, I tied the tulle around the wreath base to secure it.  Then, I began to wrap the tulle around the wreath and through the flowers.  As I brought the tulle around to the backside of the wreath, I was careful to secure the flower stem beneath the tulle (see figure 2).  The flowers in the front are voluminous enough that this extra piece of tulle cannot be seen.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

Step 3: Adding the Ribbon

I completed the wreath by wrapping a spool of Valentine ribbon around the wreath and tying it off in a bow at the bottom.  And the final product again:

Valentine Wreath

Valentine Wreath

So, what do you think?  What do you hang on your door?

Switcheroo

I guess I really caught the craft bug from all the projects we did for the wedding, cause I’ve still been creating.  Sometimes to more successful outcomes than others.

A recent quick and easy project was creating a fall wreath for our front door.  I bought a foam ring from Michael’s for less than a few dollars and gathered the rest of the supplies at home.

First, I cut burlap (left over from the wedding) into long strips while my glue gun warmed up.  Then, I wrapped the burlap around the ring, stopping to glue it down every few inches.  The only tricky part I encountered was finishing the last strip.  If I had it to do all over again, I would have purchased some tacks or pins to tack down the end of the last strip.  Instead, I went a little glue-happy and ended up with quite a blob of glue.  I just have to be cautious that the blob is at the bottom of the wreath (something I didn’t do at first – you’ll see in the pictures).  When my husband first saw the wreath he said, “That’s nice.  Is there supposed to be so much glue?”  Thanks, babe.

Three fall pom-poms.

Three fall pom-poms.

A bundle of wheat to accent the wreath.

A bundle of wheat to accent the wreath.

After the base of the wreath was prepped and drying, I got to work on the decorative items.  I selected three fall shades of yarn and made pom-poms.  I also wrapped some wheat stalks in excess burlap.  Finally, I used bobby pins to attach the decorative items to the folds in the wreath.  I found that the bobby pins actually held everything securely in place.

The final product.

The final product.

Once Thanksgiving was over, it was time for a Christmas wreath.  Instead of creating a whole new wreath (I just don’t have the storage space for that) I decided to update the fall wreath.  So, I removed the decorative items and replaced them with new ones.  Once again, I dug through items at home to see what was available.

Securing the ornaments with bobby pins.

Securing the ornaments with bobby pins.

First, I found a beautiful silver bow in our gift-wrapping pile.  I think this was recycled from my bridal shower.  Then, I selected a few Christmas tree ornaments that complimented the bow.  I once again used bobby pins to secure these items to the wreath.

The Christmas Wreath

The Christmas Wreath

I’m so happy with how versatile this wreath is turning out to be!  I’ve even gotten a compliment from a neighbor.  I’m already starting to contemplate what I’ll do once Christmas is over.

What do you think?  Do you have any recent quick and easy projects you want to share?

Birds of a Feather

According to theknot.com, the average wedding now costs $27,800, but this includes those “lucky brides and grooms who get $40,000-and-up weddings thrown for them” so it brings up the average.  Holy schnikies, that’s a lot of dough!  Having just paid for our own modest wedding, I can’t imagine what the brides and grooms in the $20K and up range are spending their money on.  As stated before, I was a frugal bride and in order to practice such frugality, Darrin and I did a lot of the work for our wedding ourselves.

One way we cut major expenses was on flowers.  Also according to theknot.com, a bride and groom can expect to spend 8-10% of their budget on flowers.  So for those of you keeping track, that’s roughly $2,200 – $2,800 (rounding to the nearest hundred) on flowers for the “average” wedding.  Yowzers!  We decided that 8 – 10% of our limited budget was too much to spend on an item that we felt was a luxury.

While flowers are exceptionally beautiful and add a lot to the decor, we felt we could create the same ambience with less expensive items.  For instance, we used a number of candles for centerpieces at the reception and placed throughout the chapel.

One area, however, where a florist really comes in handy is creating boutonnieres and corsages for wedding attendants and other guests of honor.  This is where I decided to get really crafty and I DIY-ed these items using artificial products so that I could reduce stress by making them well in advance of the wedding.

The Boutonnieres

I had pinned a number of inspiration photos such as this one, this one, and this one and had those on my iPad next to my workstation for easy viewing.  I purchased my supplies from Joanne’s including feathers, seashells, corsage pins, floral wire and spray paint in silver and blue.  At home I already had ribbon, wheat, floral tape and stems, electricians tape, and hot glue.

First, I prepped the wheat and seashells by spray painting them blue and silver, respectively.  The shells came out more of a muted gray which worked out just as well.  I left these items out to cure in the sun for at least 24 hours.  I then hot glued each shell onto a floral stem.

After all items were prepped, I gathered up the rest of my supplies and started to experiment.  I quickly decided that I did not like the look of the wheat – fail #1.  I also found that the floral tape did not play nicely with the feathers.  The glue from the tape left a sticky residue on my fingers that transferred to the feathers and severely disturbed their shape and design – fail #2.

I gave up working with the floral tape and hunted around for an alternative.  I needed something dark that would camouflage behind the color of the ribbons and blend in with the feathers.  Aha!  Electricians tape.  I had it on hand and plenty of it.

Then I experimented with the different elements at hand.  I chose a feather or two, arranged it with a sea shell, wrapped tape around all of the items and finished it by wrapping it in a ribbon and tying it off in a bow.  I then attached each boutonniere to a card with the corsage pins.

The finished product: the groom’s boutonniere, as well as his brother’s and nephew’s.

A father-son combination.

A cool feature with the shells was that I was able to vary them while playing a match game amongst family members.  For instance, both Darrin’s and my nephews were in the wedding along with their fathers.  So, the seashells in the young boys’ boutonnieres matched those belonging to their dads’.

Boutonnieres in action! It’s hard to overlook the adorable ring bearers in this photo, but if you try, you can see two of the boutonnieres in action…not too shabby.

The Corsages

For the corsages, I learned to make fabric flowers by following the tutorial found here.  I had leftover fabric from another wedding project (more on that later).  I also went through my jewelry and selected a couple of old necklaces to scavenge for beads.  I stitched three beads to the center of each flower to create a stamen.

The father of the bride and mother of the bride lapel-wear.

I stitched floral wire to the back of each flower making sure to line-up the center of the wire with the center of the flower.  I bent the wire in half and twisted it to create a stem.  I also reinforced the wire by  wrapping electricians tape (my new favorite tool) around it.  There is probably a more effective way to create a stem for a fabric flower, but I didn’t realize I needed a stem until after I made the flowers, so I had to get creative.

I selected a feather and seashell to arrange with each flower to create a corsage that complimented the boutonnieres.  After all the items were arranged as I wanted them, I secured them in electricians tape and wrapped that in a ribbon which I tied off in a bow.

Like the boutonniere, I attached the corsage to a card with pins.

All of the corsages.

All in all, I spent a solid day working on this project but I saved a ton of cash.  Below is a list of my supplies and expenses.

  • Feathers – 7.99
  • Seashells – 3.99
  • Spray paint (2 cans) – 15.98*
  • Fabric for corsages – already owned
  • Ribbon – already owned
  • Hot glue – already owned
  • Electricians tape – already owned
  • Corsage pins – 4.99
  • Cards for display – already owned
  • Floral wire – 1.99
  • Floral stems – already owned
  • Total: 34.94 (+2.78 tax) = 37.72 for 11 boutonnieres and 4 corsages = 2.51 per item
  • *Total w/ only one can of paint, since I only used one color = 26.95 (+2.14 tax) = $29.09 or $1.94 per item

I found estimates ranging from $5 – $15 for fresh flower boutonnieres and corsages through google searches.  So, I feel pretty good about the savings we generated (even with my mistakes) and I even created some souvenirs for our wedding attendants and special guests.

What do you think?  Have you ever saved big bucks by getting creative?  Did things turn out as you expected?

Thanks for That

You might remember a few months ago when my favorite blogger at Young House Love put out a call to her readers for a Pinterest challenge and I answered.  Well, it’s that time again.  Last week, Sherry announced round two of the Pinterest challenge and I was all too happy to get involved.  On the surface, the challenge is quite simple – choose something you’ve pinned, try to recreate it putting your own spin on it, and share it with the world.

For a while now, I’ve had my eye on a particular pin that welcomed the Fall spirit and Thanksgiving season and the challenge was just the thing to get me going on this project.  First, check out my inspiration photo:

I loved how warm this up-cycled project looked.

The original creator used recycled root beer bottles and vinyl letters (much easier than the route I took – see below) made on a Cricut machine.  To see her detailed instructions, simply click on the photo above to be taken to the original post at choosetothrive.blogspot.com.

Step #1: Collecting Supplies

The supplies I used were amber colored bottles, painters tape, acrylic paint, Hard Coat Mod Podge, a sponge paint brush, a crafter’s knife, and a selection of dried wheat and other flowers.  The first items to gather were the bottles.  Darrin was all too happy to play his part here.  I was able to collect six Samuel Adams bottles, however, after Darrin brought home a pack of Sierra Nevada pale ale I decided that I liked the shape of the Sierra Nevada bottles better.  I saved the Sam Adams bottles for another Pinterest inspired project down the road.  I found that removing the labels from bottles can be quite easy.  I only had a couple bottles to clean at a time so I would let them soak in hot soapy water while I was doing dishes.  By the time I was done washing all  other dishes, the glue on the bottles was weakened to the point that I could easily peel off the labels.  I then scrubbed any excess glue from the outside of the bottle, rinsed it, and left it to air dry.

Some of my starting supplies: six clean bottles, a craft knife, painters tape, and letters. Notice the clean bottles.

Step #2: Preparing the Stencil

After collecting and cleaning my bottles, I needed to prepare my stencil.  I do not own a Cricut machine so I needed to be able to paint on my letters.  I first chose a font I liked (Harrington) and printed out my letters at my preferred height and width.  Next, I cut out each letter.  Then using painters tape, I taped off a section of the bottle, careful to make sure the area I taped was about the same height on each bottle.

Preparing to trace the letter.

The letter is ready to be cut.

The stencil is complete! Now just five more to go...

I then positioned one of the letters over the taped surface where I wanted it on the bottle; I secured the letter with two small pieces of painters tape (the painters tape worked well because I could reposition it as necessary).  Using a thin marker, I outlined the letter.  When the letter was outlined, I used a craft knife to cut out the letter from the tape on the bottle.  What remained was a stencil of the letter on the bottle.  I repeated each step on every bottle.

Step #3: Painting the Letters

Once I had the stencils completed on all of the bottles I was ready to paint.  I used acrylic paint and mixed a little yellow into white paint to create a light butter color.  I was concerned that plain white might be too bright against the amber of the bottles.  I then mixed in a little Hard Coat Mod Podge to ensure that the paint would stick to my surface over time.  Next, I used a sponge brush to apply the paint to the bottles with a light tapping motion to give it an even coating.

Here's a close-up of the texture of the paint on the bottle.

After a few hours of drying, I very carefully removed the painters tape on the bottle.  There were some areas where the paint on the bottle and the paint on the tape were stuck together.  So, when I tried to pull the tape, the paint on the bottle tried to come off, too.  Since the paint was still soft, I was able to place my finger on the paint on the bottle and pull the tape away.  This worked to separate the paint and made sure that the paint left on the bottle would stick.  The next day, all the paint on the bottle was secure and there was no sign of peeling.

The paint dried nicely with a rustic like finish.

Step #4: Adding Decorative Flowers

The final step of this process was to add the floral decoration.  The inspiration photo used stalks of wheat in each bottle.  However, when I went to the craft store to buy the wheat, I was inspired by the different colors and shapes of dried flowers they had for sale.  All I had to do was trim the stalks to my desired height before inserting into the bottle.

The final product on our mantle.

I’m so proud of how this turned out.  I love the warmth this brings to our mantle, which is naturally cool in tones.  I’m also thinking of bringing this decoration back out for our wedding next year, since it will be an early fall wedding.  I can see this display on the sign-in table or somewhere where our guests can see it so they know we are thankful for their attendance and for sharing in the special day with us.

As far as costs, the only thing I spent money on was the wheat and flowers.  I bought them at Michaels and I used a coupon!  The bottles were recycled, I already had the paint, glue, craft tools, and painters tape.  So, all in all, I’m also quite pleased with the cost of this project.  If someone had access to wheat on their property, I’d think they could pull this project off for close to free.

What do you think?  Do you have any projects you’re working on that you’re particularly proud of?  Share!  Share!

Also, be sure to check out what the pros produced during this round of the challenge.  Visit Young House Love to see Sherry’s homemade Christmas ornaments.  Go to Bower Power to check out Katie’s antiqued window project.  Erin over at House of Earnest made a super cool gold lined lamp.  Finally, super-builder Ana White built a pocket bookshelf for a little girl’s room.

Gettin’ Crafty

As stated in this post, I’m planning on incorporating jars and candles into our wedding reception decor.  So, I’ve been saving jars from sauces, pickles, peppers – you name it.  I can’t believe how many jars we are amassing in such a short amount of time!  I’ve no doubt that by next October, we’ll have plenty of jars saved and I won’t have spend a single cent from our wedding budget to buy any.  Suh-weet.

In the mean time, I noticed more than a couple of great ideas on (you guessed it) Pinterest of things to do with these jars and I recently decided to give one a try.  First, let’s take a look at the inspiration photo.

Inspiration!

The crafty gal who created these adorable votives added a few drops of  food coloring to Mod Podge, painted the concoction on the glass, et voila, pretty colored glass candle holders.  I thought I would test this project out using the colors we want to use for our wedding – green and blue.

Work Station Set-Up

Here’s a glimpse of my work-station set-up and supplies.  I started with two clean jars, some paper trays (left-overs from our engagement party), a paint brush, green and blue gel food coloring, and hard coat Mod Podge.  This was my first time working with Mod Podge and I have to admit I was a little intimidated when I was at the craft store and there were so many types to choose from.  I decided to go with the “hard coat” because the bottle said it works on glass.  But, maybe there’s another crafter out there who would have recommended another type.

Oh wine...what can't you do?

As recommended from the original source, I added a few drops of food coloring and mixed until I reached my desired color.  At first, I held the jar upside down with one hand partially inside the top opening.  However, overtime I found that things would get a little dicey as I had to paint nearer to the top of the jar.  Enter my friend the wine bottle – the perfect stand.

Finished product

After a couple of coats, I noticed that the brush strokes looked streaky.  So, I switched using an X or basket weave pattern.  I think this would have been a good idea from the beginning.  I think the jars look kinda cool, but I don’t think it’s something I would do for all the jars at the wedding.  And here’s why – look at the photo below with the candles lit.  The color really seems to disappear.

Where'd the color go?

The next time I get some fresh flowers, I will put them in these jars and see how that turns out.  There might be a nice affect with water.  Right now, I have the jars placed against a white wall so the colors really pop, and it’s nice.

Poppin' off the wall.

So, what about you?  Do you have any craft projects you’ve undertaken that didn’t turn out exactly as you hoped?  What do you think about the jars?  Would you give these a try?