Quilting made easy with Riley Blake and Cricut – Part 3 of 3

Welcome to the 3rd part of this video and quilting series! Over the past weeks I have been working on making a Christmas Quilt using Riley Blake Fabrics and the Cricut Maker. In Part One I showed you how I selected the fabric and pattern. In Part Two I showed you how all the pieces were cut. And today… today we are piecing the Half Log Cabin Throw quilt top!

Quilting Made Easy with Riley Blake and Cricut PArt 3 - Learn how to piece the quarter log cabin quilt pattern!

 

To finish up this series I’ve created another video. This video is long, but oh-so-comprehensive! I’ll be holding your hand and taking you step-by-step through how to make this quilt. It is always more fun to make a project with a friend, and I hope you’ll stitch along side me as we make this quilt together!

We’ll make the units, put together the blocks, build the rows, and stitch up this quilt top. When we get to adding the borders, I’ll give you some tips on how to get a nice smooth border with no ruffles!


If you’d rather read along, I’ll lay out the basics of making the quilt here. Remember that a full set of PDF instructions is in Design Space that will also help you in making the quilt.

We’re going to start by laying out all of our fabrics. The inner border, outer border, and binding fabric can be put aside. Label the other fabrics by fabric number to make it easier to grab the right fabric as you lay out the block units.

label your fabrics when quilting

Using the PDF instructions, grab a square of fabric one and the smallest rectangle in fabric 8. Place them right sides together and stitch.

(BTW – all seams in this quilt are 1/4″.)

stitch first two pieces

Then press your seam towards the dark.

press first stitch

Add the next size up of fabric 8. Stitch and press. Repeat with the same size of fabric 1, and then the largest strip of fabric 1. You’ll have your first block unit complete!

finished first block

Repeat the process for all the block units – you’ll be making 6 of each. Check the PDF for all the fabric combinations. If you watch the video, I’ll show you how you can save time making these units by strip piecing.

next block

Once you have all your block units, lay out block A. Stitch the top and bottom units together. Press the seam to the right. Repeat with the bottom two units, pressing the seam in the opposite direction. Then stitch the top and bottom together. You can press the middle seam up, down, or spin the seam (watch the video and I’ll show you this technique)! Make 6 of this block (Block A).

putting it together

Now you’ll follow the same steps as Block A, but to make Block B. Which is the same, but with different fabrics.

Block B

Once your blocks are done, stitch them into rows! You’ll have 4 rows, each with 3 blocks. 2 of the rows have a block A flanked by block B on either side. The other 2 rows are block B flanked by Block A on either side. Press the seams of the first row in one direction, and the seams on the other row in the other direction.stitch the rowsThen stitch your rows together (alternating the A row with the B row), and press all the seams in one direction. Your blocks are all together! Now it is time to add the borders! I want to share my special border-adding tip with you.

First we’ll be adding the side borders. Measure both sides of your quilt, then measure the center of your quilt from top to bottom. This tells you the height of your quilt on both sides and in the middle. Add these 3 numbers together then divide by 3. That is the size you should cut your side borders. This will keep you from having wavy borders.

Pin the border in place. First by pinning each end. Then pinning the middle. Then pinning along each half so that the border is smoothly in place. Once it is pinned, you can stitch.

pin on border

Repeat the process of measuring the top, bottom, and middle to cut the top and bottom borders to size. Pin them the same way, then stitch. Repeat all these steps to cut, pin, and stitch on your outer borders. Once your borders are on, your quilt is done!

stitch on borders

This quilt has been so much fun to put together – I hope you enjoyed it, too! I’m considering putting together a bonus video to show you how to quilt this lap sized quilt on a domestic sewing machine. But if you prefer, you can absolutely have a long-arm quilter do the quilting, and then you just have to bind it. You can search this site for lots of tips on quilting your quilt, and binding it!

Thanks to Cricut and Riley Blake for asking me to put together this series! I can’t wait to show you more quilting and crafting fun!

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Quilting made easy with Riley Blake and Cricut – Part 2

I’m excited to share part 2 of my “Quilting Made Easy” series with Riley Blake and Cricut. When Cricut offered to send me a Riley Blake quilt kit of my choice to share with y’all, and show you how easy it is to whip up a quilt when Cricut takes care of the bulk of the cutting, I was excited! I love sharing innovative ways to approach quilting, and these quilt kits are a fantastic way for both beginners and experienced quilters to put together quilts that look beautiful every time!

Last week I showed you how easy it was to pick out a fun fabric kit, and to pick a pattern to go with it. Today I’m opening up the pattern and doing all the cutting.

quilting made easy with Riley Blake and Cricut - part 2 of 3

If you’d rather hang out with me while I go over all the details, I put together a video where I take you step-by-step through the cutting process. You can pause, rewind, and watch at your own pace. I’ve put the video here:

 

If you’d like to read through the steps, I have you covered as well.

First, let’s talk tools. Cricut has some great kits that are perfect for doing all the pre-cutting needed. They have a rotary blade, ruler, and mat set that is exactly right for cutting those large 12″ wide strips needed for the Cricut mat. Be sure to check out the Cricut cutting tools – they are the experts when it comes to sharp blades that cut well!

Cricut tools for quilting

Start by removing the fabric from the zippered bag it came in (by the way, this zippered bag becomes an awesome shoe bag for traveling!), and pull out the paper it came with as well.

planning the quilt

I also printed a screen shot of the cutting instructions, since those are not available as a PDF. I put all the fabrics in order – fabric 1 through 11. I removed fabric 11, which was the 3/4 yard piece of fabric. Beware, it is the exact same as fabric 4, which is a 2/3 piece. Make sure you’re setting aside the 3/4 yard piece which will be used for the binding later.

From fabric 1, cut two 12″ wide strips.

rotary cutting fabric

Cut fabric 4 into two 1/3 yard pieces (1/3 yard is 12″, so you’ll be cutting it in half to make two 12″ strips).

Then from your inner border fabric (fabric 3) cut 5 strips, each 2″ wide.

cut inner border

From the outer border fabric, cut 5 strips, each 5.5″ wide.

cut outer border

 

I know what you’re thinking – this is supposed to be all about how great the Cricut machine is for cutting fabric, and we haven’t even pulled out the Cricut machine yet! Yes, that is true. The Cricut Maker is great for cutting fabric. But for some projects, a little pre-cutting is needed. There are 11 fabrics in this kit. We have pre-cut 4 of them, and put a fifth aside. Now we are ready to pull out the Cricut Maker to do the rest of the cutting for us!

Start by placing the fabric on the mat. Float the fabric over the pink mat until it is lined up on the edges, and the top edge is above the top cutting line, but below the top edge of the mat. Then press it down. You can use the brayer to secure it if you like.

place fabric on mat

Now you are ready to get cutting! For most cuts, you can use a single strip of fabric for 2 mats. The first mat is a 12×24″ mat. Place the fabric on the mat. Then trim off the extra fabric from the bottom. Put this on a 12×12″ mat (or on a 12×24″ mat – you can always use a larger mat) for the second mat of that fabric.

If you didn’t print out the screen shot of the cutting instructions, I’ve got you covered! Here you go:

Fabric 1 – Mats 1 and 2
Fabric 2 – Outer border – was cut into 5.5″ strips in an earlier step.
Fabric 3 – Inner border – was cut into 2″ strips in an earlier step.
Fabric 9 – Mats 3 and 4
Fabric 6 – Mats 5 and 6
Fabric 5 – Mats 7 and 8
Fabric 4 – Mats 9 and 10
Fabric 8 – Mats 11 and 12
Fabric 7 – Mats 13 and 14
Fabric 10 – Mats 15 and 16
Fabric 11 – Set aside for binding

You probably noticed that all those fabrics are NOT in number order. This is because we want to make sure that our light and dark fabrics are balanced in the quilt. Each quilt has those lights and darks set up in a different order, so the cutting order for the fabrics can change.

Once you have your first mat ready to go, you can start cutting the rest of your fabrics! It is lovely to cut it with the Maker, because once you have the mats and fabric in order, you can let your mind wander. When cutting with a traditional rotary cutter and ruler, I have to be vigilant and remember to “measure twice, cut once” or risk a mis-cut! A miscut can mean a waste of fabric – possibly running out of fabric if the miscut is bad enough! I didn’t have that issue with the maker. I kept feeding in the mats in order, and could even hold a conversation with my 6 year old while getting all the mats cut – and I never had a miscut!

cutting fabric with maker

I’ll be back in TWO weeks with the third installment of this quilting journey. Next week I’ll be off at the Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon teaching a class on “How to Design a Quilt Block like a Pro” as well as learning from some of the other fabulous ladies (and gentleman) who are teaching at the event!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.


 

Snow Party

Over the winter break my boys and I had a snow party. A great way to celebrate the winter, any time of year!

Snow Party

The Snow Party Included:

Snowy Decor

Food:
Donuts on Sticks
Cakes
Cookies

Activities:
Snowball Fight
LCR with Snowballs
Coffee Filter Snowflakes
Borax Snowflakes

Party Favors
Mini Snow Dough Jars

Snowy Decor

For the Snowy Decor, I put down a blue plastic tablecloth, with snowflakes I cut with the Silhouette. Here is the snowflake file I used.

supplies for snowball backdrop

For the backdrop, I hung white plastic tablecloth, and strung styrofoam balls onto yarn using a doll needle…

pierce ball with needle

And sprayed with glitter blast.

spray with glitter dust

Then hung in front of the white.

snowball party decor

I also hung these large snowflakes cut with the silhouette from the ceiling.

snow decor

Snow Party Food

For the food, I picked out some white treats. Just simple and sugary.

cakes-and-cookies

I also skewered donuts and donut holes onto bamboo skewers and put them in a vase – food that doubles as decor!

Snow Party Activities

We had a snowball fight with our no-melt snowballs.

throwing snowballs

And played Left, Center, Right (a dice game – find it at Target in the games section), using pom poms as chips.

snowball left center right

We played for about 30 minutes, and the kids loved it! My 3 year old had no problem understanding how the game worked – and even ended up winning!

playing left center right with pom pom snowballs

Coffee Filter snowflakes are simple to make, and cost almost nothing. You just need scissors and coffee filters.

supplies for coffee filter snowflakes

Fold the filter in half, then in thirds.

fold coffee filter into thirds

Then cut away. The more cuts, the prettier your snowflake will be.

coffee filter snowflakes

coffee filter snowflakes

Making Borax snowflakes was lots of fun.

Borax Crystal Snowflake

You’ll need:

supplies for borax crystals

Mason Jar
Borax
Scissors
White Pipecleaners
Measuring Spoons
Pencil
String
Boiling Water

Cut the pipecleaner into 3 sections. Make sure the sections are shorter than the diameter of the jar.

cut pipecleaner

Twist together to make the snowflake. Tie a string to the top.

twist together pipe cleaner

Measure 3 Tablespoons of Borax into the jar, then fill with boiling water (kids don’t get to help with this part!). Stir with the pencil, then hang the pipecleaner snowflake in the jar. Allow to sit overnight.

making borax crystals

The next day, you’ll have gorgeous crystals!

finished borax crystals

And, of course, we needed snowy favors, so I made snow dough.

Snow Dough Party Favors

You’ll need:
2 cups Cornstarch
1/2 cup iridescent Glitter
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil

supplies for snow dough

 

Mix ingredients.

mix snow dough together

Put the snow dough into jars.

I used mini jars I found in the wedding section of the craft store.

fill-jars-with-snow-dough

I foiled the snow dough labels. Here is the printable snow dough label file I used, printed on a laser printer onto OL1762 from Online Labels .com.

snow dough labels

I then used a laminator and Thermoweb Decofoil (in blue) to foil the labels.

run foil through machine

foiled snow dough labels

It adds the perfect touch!

finished snow dough favors

The party didn’t take too long to put together, and the kids loved it! They’ll be asking for a snow party every winter!

snowball party decor

 

No-Melt Snowballs

Want a snowball fight? These no-melt snowballs are perfect for an indoor snowball fight, any time of year!

no melt snowballs

To make these snowballs, you’ll need:

supplies for snowballs

Polyfil Batting
Scissors
Yarn
Rice
Aluminum Foil

Cut squares of Aluminum foil about 6″x6″.

put on rice

Put 1-2 tbsp in the center of each piece. Crinkle into a ball.

Place the ball onto a strip of batting.

strip of batting

Roll up the foil in the strip of batting.

wrap with batting

Wrap with yarn to secure.

wrap with yarn

Tie off the end, trim and tuck the ends.

tie off ends

Then, snowball fight!

throwing-snowballs-3

throwing-snowballs-2

throwing-snowballs-1

The Ultimate Cookie Exchange Recipe Guide

This is the ultimate cookie exchange recipe list. These cookies are all delicious, and there is something here that almost everyone can eat. There are options that are dairy-free, and egg free, and gluten free. If you’d like additional gluten-free options, add Rice Krispies Treats, or baggies of Muddy Buddies (made with Corn Chex).

The ultimate plate of Christmas Cookies! These 6 cookie recipes, and one perfect decorator icing recipie will help you make the perfect plate of holiday cookies. Tips for making all the cookies yourself over 2 days - or divide up the recipes among friends for the ultimate cookie exchange!

I like to add a chocolate-chip cookie to my plate of cookies as well. You can go with whatever your favorite recipe is. I like the one on the back of the Costco brand chocolate chips, but if you’re looking for a more festive cookie, try the pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies.

You can make all these cookies yourself in about 2 days. Or, you can divide the recipes up among a group of friends, each make a couple batches, and share at a cookie exchange party. I put these cookies on a simple decorated plate from the dollar store.

Tip: If you’re going to make all of these cookies yourself, make sure that you have enough ingredients on hand, flour, sugar, eggs, and butter all go fast when making this many cookies! Also, start with the Sugar Cookie and {Almost} Speculaas recipes, because these doughs need to be refrigerated/frozen. I usually make these doughs the night before my big day of baking. I also like to make my chocolate chip cookie dough the night before. I make a double-batch, and freeze tablespoon fulls on sheets of parchment paper. The next day, I throw the balls of dough into a zip-seal bag, and have dough ready to go.

At the end of the first day, I make the meringues. Because it is best for them to slowly cool as the oven cools (so they dry out), I bake these at the end of the first day. When they are done baking, I turn off the oven, and let them sit as I clean up the kitchen and get ready for day two… then I can put them in airtight containers overnight.

The Ultimate plate of Christmas Cookies

 

Meringues

These meringues are simple to make – they’re light, and fluffy, and melt-in-your-mouth sweet! They look fancy on any cookie plate. If you hate tossing out egg yolks, you can poach them and chop them up to sprinkle on salads.

2 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees

On high speed, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Slowly and steadily, add the sugar while continuing to whisk. Then slowly whisk in the vanilla.

Transfer mix into a large pastry bag with a large star attachment, or a large zip top bag (cut the corner off the zip-top bag). On a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, form mounds, each about the size of a tablespoon, and at least 2 inches apart. Bake at 25o degrees for 40-45 minutes. Do not allow them to brown – if you start to see golden edges, turn off the oven!

When they are done baking, turn off the oven but do not remove the cookie sheets. Allow to sit in the oven as the oven cools, or for about 2 hours. Remove and store in air-tight storage containers.

 

{Almost} Speculaas

This egg-free cookie dough is the closest I’ve found to a traditional Dutch Speculaas Cookie Recipe, and uses ingredients you can find at most American grocery stores. I prefer it to traditional gingerbread. It has a great spiced flavor, and is perfect for the holidays. For the uninitiated, I compare it to a spiced shortbread cookie.

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c hot water
1 C unsalted butter, softened
4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mace
1/8 tsp cloves

Dissolve baking soda in water. Beat with butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add dry ingredients until combined. Divide into 3 parts. Place each part on an 18″ length of plastic wrap, and form into a log about 2.5″ in diameter. Wrap tightly, twisting ends. Freeze 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one log from the freezer, using a sharp kitchen knife, cut log into slices about 1/4″ thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 12 to 14 minutes. Repeat with additional logs.

 

Sveta

This recipe is a family recipe. It was given to me by my in-laws, passed down from family friends. It is a Slav cookie recipe, perfect for the holidays! The Nucoa is non-dairy, making these a great dairy-free cookie option.

1 cube Nucoa (margarine)
1 1/2 C sugar
6 eggs
3 C flour
3 1/2tsp baking powder
2 tsp anise extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/4 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream Nucoa and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add in dry ingredients and mix well. Add in extracts. Mix until incorporated. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. When done, the cookies will be soft, and slightly brown around the edges. Sprinkle warm cookies with powdered sugar and allow to cool.

 

D’Amaretti Biscotti

This biscotti recipe, and the one below, are family favorites. Make these two, wrap them up, and you’ll be asked for them year after year! Though biscotti is twice-baked, that doesn’t mean it is twice as hard to make! It is a delicious cookie that stores well for gift giving.

3 1/4 C Flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
3 eggs (plus one egg white)
2 tsp lemon peel, finely shredded
1 tsp anise extract
1/2 C toasted and chopped hazelnuts (if you really can’t find them, you can use almonds, if you must)

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly Grease cookie sheet.

Combine dry ingredients, set aside. Beat butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, lemon peel, and anise extract. Slowly add dry ingredients until well incorporated. Stir in nuts.

Divide douh in half, form into two logs on the cookie sheet, each about 12″ x 2″ x 1″. Beat egg white until foamy and brush over the top.

Bake 20-25 minutes until light brown. Allow logs to cool to the touch. Then cut with a serrated knife at a 45 degree angle into slices, each about 1/2″ thick (like cutting French bread). Lay slices open-faced on a baking sheet. Put them back in the oven for 10 minutes, turning at 5-6 minutes. Let cool. Store in air-tight container.

 

Biscotti Toscani

This biscotti has the extra step of adding a layer of chocolate to one side, making it both delicious and fancy-looking! When you are done adding the chocolate, turn the leftover melted chocolate into hot cocoa! Add 1 cup of milk, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a dash of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Microwave for a minute, stir, microwave for 30 more seconds, and enjoy!

1/2 C Whole Almonds
1/3 C Butter, softened
3/4 C White Sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
2 tsp Grated Orange Zest
2 1/4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

Bake nuts in 325 degree oven about 8 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Allow to cool, then rough chop so the almonds are cut once or twice each.

Lightly grease cookie sheet.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and orange zest. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. DO NOT ADD CHOCOLATE CHIPS.

Split dough into two halves. Place each half on cookie sheet, and form into logs. Each log should be about 1/2″ thick and 12 inches long. Keep them at least 2 inches apart, they will expand a little in baking. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow logs to cool to the touch. Then cut with a serrated knife at a 45 degree angle into slices, each about 1/2″ thick (like cutting French bread). Lay slices open-faced on a baking sheet. Put them back in the oven for 10 minutes, turning at 5-6 minutes. Let cool.

Melt chocolate in microwave. Use a spoon to spoon about 1 tbsp onto one side of each cookie, use the back of the spoon to spread it across and to the edges. Allow chocolate to set. Store in air-tight containers.

 

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe

These sugar cookies are tender and sweet – and keep their shape when cut out with cookie cutters. Decorate using the royal flow icing recipe below, or with your favorite frosting and sprinkles.

1 C Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 1/2 C Sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1/4 C Sour Cream
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Almond Extract
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
4 1/2 C All Purpose Flour

In mixer on high speed, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs until well incorporated. Add Sour Cream and Extracts. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until dough no longer sticks to sides, then STOP! Knead the rest of the way by hand on a lightly floured surface if needed. Do not overmix – this makes the dough tough.

Divide dough into 3 parts, form each part into a ball, then flatten into a 1″ thick disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Once the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick. Cut out with cookie cutters, and transfer to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-11 minutes until edges are *just* starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and move cookies to cooling racks. Wait until they are completely cool to decorate.

Flow Royal Icing

This icing is liquid enough to flow, but solid enough to create outlines, so you don’t need two icing consistencies to decorate your cookies! To prevent bleed, allow one color to set a little before adding a second color.

5 T of Meringue Powder (available at the craft store in the Wilton baking section)
1/2-3/4 C of water
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract (buy the clear stuff when you’re buying the Meringue Powder)
1 T Light corn syrup
Gel food coloring

Add the ingredients, in order, while you mix at a low speed. Once they are incorporated, beat on high for several minutes. Mixed icing should be matte colored and stiff peaked. Keep icing stored in air-tight containers until ready to use. Keep refrigerated, but allow to come to room temperature before using. Add gel food coloring to tint.

Winter Big Stitch Mini Quilt

I had to come up with a quilt to gift at our December Modern Quilt Guild meeting, and for once I didn’t wait until the last minute! I still need to add a little label to this mini quilt… but other than that, it is all done!

Making a mini quilt is a fun project, and a great gift. You don’t have to commit to a large project (or commit all the  money to a large project). It also doesn’t take the kind of time commitment a big project does, either. Which is a big deal for me. I have so many projects going that I can’t commit to another big one!

modern mini holiday quilt

I was doing some traveling last month, so I decided to quilt this one using big stitch quilting. I was able to hang out on the back patio at my mom’s house, watching the kids play in the backyard and keep her company doing yard work… and get this mini quilted up! And I think that the big stitch really adds a lot of character.

Making this mini is simple. You need:

7 charm squares (5″ squares)
3/4 yard solid fabric
Batting
Perle Cotton
Big Stitch quilting needle.

I started by cutting the charm squares in half, and lining them up to decide their order.

rectangles for mini quilt

I added a small strip of blue to one side, and a large strip to the other. I basted the top, batting, and backing, sketched on a basic snowflake design, and started stitching!

add big stitch

then trim it…

trim up mini quilt

… and bind it!

bind mini quilt

This is part of a series I’m doing with Niki from 365 Days of Crafts… sharing a new gift idea each day… and we’re having some of our blogging friends share handmade gift ideas as well! By the end of the week, we’ll have over 99 gift ideas! Check them out:

 

Holiday Table Runner

After making my Christmas Tree Quilt, I had leftover quilt squares. There are so many fun things to make with Half Square Triangles… I decided to whip these into a fun table runner. A simple quilt-as-you-go runner.

Quilt as you go table runner

I started with HSTs and strips of fabric. Batting, and backing fabric.

supplies for table runner

I stitched the HSTs into strips.

line up strips

Then used the HST strips and fabric strips to make a quilt-as-you-go runner. Trimmed it up…

trim and square up

Bound it…

stitch on bindingstitch binding to back

Quilt as you go means it is quilted and pieced at the same time!

back of table runner

easy, peasy… done!

completed table runner

Easter Tree

spring table decor

I made an Easter Tree. My husband has never heard of an Easter Tree, and my son thinks that an Easter Tree should look a lot more like a Christmas Tree… but I forged ahead. When I grew up, we had an Easter Tree on the table at Easter breakfast. I remember putting all the tiny wooden ornaments on the white branches of the little tree. So when I was at a lunch over at The Pinning Mama‘s house, and saw that she had a branch that had been cut off her tree, ready to be thrown away, I did what any crafty blogger would do. I asked if I could have it.

I took it home and spray painted it white. I used Krylon Matte paint. My branch was large – it took a whole can.

spray paint branch

When you spray paint a branch, match your strokes so they are parallel to the branch. Going up and down to paint across a vertical branch wastes a lot of paint.

I supported my branch on a couple tomato cages so that it wasn’t in the dirt. I waited about 30 minutes for the paint to dry a little, flipped it over, then painted the other side.

To display my Easter Tree, I shoved a block of Styrofoam into a large yogurt container. Then I shoved the branch into the middle of the styrofoam. The yogurt container was put inside my large glass vase, then the shredded paper was packed firmly all around that. The tree is VERY top-heavy, so I needed a lot to support the base. Instead of shredded paper, stones or glass pebbles would be a great idea to add more weight.

Now I’m in the process of making ornaments to put on the tree. I’m looking forward to coming up with lots of fun ways to decorate it!

spring decor

Behind the tree you can see my Spring Banister decor.

Spring Staircase Decor

Spring Banister

I don’t have a mantel. I don’t mind not having a fireplace, but not having a mantel does bug me. Especially when I see so many adorable mantels done up. My next house will need a fireplace, just so I can have a mantel. In the meantime, I’ve come up with some mantel substitutes. I used to use my banister to hang stockings. After we bought our china hutch, it made the perfect place to hang stockings. Though I still love banister decor.

This year, I’m having fun bringing spring into the house, so I thought that a Springy staircase would be fun! It was super simple to put together, and it adds just a little bit of color. If you pick brighter birdhouses or flowers, you could add a whole lot of color!

supplies for banister

To decorate your banister like this, you need:

Wide Burlap Ribbon
Large Gerber Daises
Mini Clothespins
Krazy Glue
Mini Birdhouses – WITH LOOPS (I had mine already painted)
Ribbon

 

 

Start by prepping the daisies. I pulled them off the stems, pulled up the green bit, added a little Krazy glue, and stuck my clothespin between the petals and green.

glue clothespins

They were done in no time.

attach clothespins

While they dried, I wrapped the bannister in burlap.

wrap burlap around banister

Twice. Just big loops around the railing. Nothing fancy.

wrap banister

To add a little color, and tie it all together a bit, I criss-crossed ribbon down and back up the bannister.

wrap ribbon around

Then I tied on the birdhouses. I used about 8″ of ribbon, and just tied them on the railing, threading the ribbon through the loop at the top of the birdhouse. If your birdhouses don’t have loops, glue the ribbon on.

add birdhouses

By now, my daises were dry, so I clipped them on the burlap.

simple spring banister

They make a great backdrop to my Easter Tree – that I haven’t shared here yet!

spring decor

Are you having fun decorating your house for Spring?

Organizing Holiday Cards: Christmas Card Book

Holiday Card Storage Book

Every year as I take down my holiday decorations, I take down the display of Christmas Cards, put them in a pile, and want to DO something with them. I love getting Christmas Cards each year (and I love sending them out, too), but after the season is over, I have no way to store them… until now! Several years ago I saw a similar idea to bind Christmas Cards into a book that can be enjoyed for years… and thanks to the inspiration brought on by this week of cleaning and organizing that I’m hosting with Angie from The Country Chic Cottage and Gina from the Shabby Creek Cottage, I have my First Annual* Christmas Card Book!

Holiday Cards

chipboard book coversTo make your own Christmas Card Book you need:
Chipboard Covers (with rings)
Mod Podge Hard Coat
Washi Tape (optional)
Scissors
Paintbrush
Hole Punch
Pen or Pencil
Ribbons (optional)
All your Holiday cards from this year
The Card you sent out this year
Your holiday letter (optional) shrunk down to size

I started by Mod Podging my card to the front cover. It was a little bigger than the cover size I chose. I could always go with a bigger cover, but I liked this size. After Mod Podging the card on, I just trimmed off the excess.

Mod Podge onto Chipboard

I had some of the chipboard showing over on the side where the holes were. I could have just left that part plain, but it felt… well… too plain. So I covered it up with some Washi Tape. Then I put Mod Podge over the washi tape to really secure it – Washi Tape has a habit of becoming un-stuck over time, and I want this book to really last.

Washi Tape and Mod Podge

I used the back cover as a template to mark where the holes needed to go on the cards.

Use cover as template

Then punched holes in the cards. I had fun with this part. I knew some of the cards were going to stick out – so I embraced it. I let cards stick out on the top, bottom, and right. Not all the cards are perfectly centered. I think it adds to the fun.

punch holes in card

I always think it is a shame that I don’t store a copy of our holiday letter somewhere. Sure, I could look it up on the computer, but what fun is that? I shrunk down our holiday letter to 60% so that it would fit on the back cover, then Mod Podged it in place. I used Mod Podge Hard Coat because I find it dries less tacky, and that will keep it from sticking to the cards as it goes into storage for the next 11 months or so.

Christmas Letter shrunk down

Once my covers were dry, I put it all together. For a little extra flair, I tied ribbons to the rings.

Store and Organize Christmas Cards in a cute book

I’m looking forward to keeping up this tradition each year, creating volumes of Christmas Cards from all of our family and friends that we can look back at.

 

*Yes, I know “First Annual” isn’t an actual “thing”. But I’m ok with that.