Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Decorating Just For Us: Christmas Pretties & Sillies

I wasn't sure how much I'd want to decorate this year, since no one was coming over to see our house. In the end I'm glad to say John and I focused on just the things that made us happiest: trees, garlands, and silly stuff:


Normally Claptrap gets banished to the garage, since he hasn't matched our party themes. This year he got a colorful strand of lights and Junk Lady's old Santa hat, and he's made me smile every dang day.

Then this view fills me up every night:

Ahhh. So glowy and cozy. This view has been blocked by giant walls or gingerbread houses the last few years, so it's been nice to have it back.

That fluffy owl on the radio was my moment of weakness at Walmart; I couldn't resist the FLOOF.

 The owl is technically a tree topper, but the base is so huge you could just about fit a basketball in its butt - which, as you might imagine, looks super weird on a tree.

Oh well, I almost made it without buying any new things for Christmas this year.

I love this vignette. The hot air balloon was handmade by a reader, and those are my two grandfathers' pocket watches in my Dollar Tree cloche. All I did to make it Christmassy was swap the owl for the picture frame that's usually here, then add some spriggy bits.

I have one last tree I haven't shown you yet, in the back room. We left it bare for several weeks, because all I really need are these twinkle lights:


Eventually I decided it could use a little dressing up, though, so I went SUPER old school and pulled out the book paper garland and ornaments I made back in 2013:

Monday, December 28, 2020

Eric, The Half-A-Tree

If you've been here a while you know my Christmas decorations usually involve some big builds, like the illusion wall from Labyrinth or a life-sized Thestral.

This year was far more chill, of course, so John and I only had one project we wanted to experiment with, just for fun. It was nice having zero pressure, what with no parties to host, and this actually turned out kinda cool!

So here, let me take you on the hilarious journey of Eric, the half-a-tree.

We have a new roll of mirrored Mylar on hand for a future geek build (awww yeeeah), and that got us thinking about the small back corner in our dining room.

The Mylar is thin as tissue paper, so our first challenge was getting it smooth on the wall. I figured we'd have to glue it to a giant piece of Masonite, but that sounded like way too much work, so instead we tried just taping it up:

...which  looked terrible. So many ripples!

But it was a start.

Next I put on a pair of cotton gloves and helped smooth the Myler in each direction by running my hands over it, while John pulled on the edges, to tighten it up.

That made a HUGE difference; now it was almost mirror-smooth!

Considering how much giant mirrors cost, I'm shocked I haven't seen any DIYer's playing with this.

Next, we unwrapped one of the Tree Pops from the garage:

(I HIGHLY recommend our shrink-wrap method when you pack up your trees. You can leave the lights on, which saves a lot of setup & take down time.)

This is a cheapie $30 tree from Walmart, which meant the metal hinged branches are easy to bend around... LIKE THIS:

Friday, December 25, 2020

My Grandma Rocks & A Wonderful Wonderland Tree

Merry Christmas, bots! I thought I'd share a little happy nostalgia with you today, plus some Wonderland eye candy.

This Story from last week jogged a lot of memories out there; I got so many great messages! How many of you have relatives who made/make beaded ornaments like this?

I'm also getting requests for a tutorial - so Grandma, when you read this, have Uncle Russ film you making one for us, K? :)

Grandma is my only living grandparent, and I just want to thank every one of you who messaged to encourage me to call her more often, and to never take her for granted. I'm going to try, I promise. (Also giant squishy internet hugs to those of you missing your grandparents and parents today.)

This year I tried not to buy anything new for Christmas: I wanted a low-key, low-cost holiday using stuff we already had, and maybe crafting a few new things for fun. This is our first Christmas with the new Wonderland room, though, and while we had a little 3 foot tree for the table, I didn't have anything to put on it:

This was a fun challenge, and let me tell ya: $3 at the Dollar Tree goes a long way. I grabbed 2 garlands of red tinsel and a deck of playing cards, and just those filled the tree most of the way:

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

10 Christmas Tree Alternatives To Get You Thinking Outside The Boughs

Am I the only one who doesn't want the holidays to end this year? All my social media feeds are full of the coziest eye candy, and I could look at pictures of quirky menorahs and woodsy Solstice wreaths and twinkly Christmas trees forever. Ahhhh.

I know Hanukkah is over, but the other week my friend Jarrett dubbed this his "Menorahsaurus" and it demanded to be shared.

Oh! And then there are all the crafts and foods and crafty foods. Apparently John and I have to make something called Christmas Crack? Have you heard of this?

Anyhoo, since I can already see staying on topic is going to be a challenge today, let's get right to it. In case the dinosaur didn't tip you off, I love quirky holiday decor, so I've been saving pictures of fun and funky tree alternatives all month to show you bots. It it too late to actually make any of these? NEVAHHH. Maybe. If so, then just enjoy the pretty pics.

Oh, and I gave them all punny names, because, me.

Starting with an oldie but a goodie:

- Oh 2D Tree

I've always gone heart-eyes over Suessical and/or cartoon styles, so this has been one of my favorites for years. It also reminds me of Borderlands. Add in the fact that all you need is scrap cardboard and paint, and I'm all in. Love me some cheap builds.

Next, cue the Will Smith song:

- Gettin' Twiggy With It:

(By Brocante Ma Jolie on Etsy)

Na na na na nana na

You're welcome for the ear worm. This one could potentially be another no-cost craft, if you have a bunch of branches in the yard and some spare twine.

- A Step Above

Monday, December 21, 2020

Extreme Room Makeover: Remodeling An Office/Excercise/Craft Room

Ohhh, y'all. Y'ALL.

I'm excited about this one.

Our friend Sue works from home, but also uses her home office as a place to exercise and do her crafting. That's a lot of time in one not-so-large room, and when I first walked into the space about two months ago, I immediately saw why she'd asked for help. Let's get right to the "before" shots, and go over what we wanted to change with this makeover.

First, since I'm no good with suspense, here's the big Wow Factor before-and-after.



::happy chair dancing::

Of course that "After" doesn't include the brand new craft room we built in her closet, but you already saw that a few weeks ago. (Or if you didn't, click here!)

Let's look again at that Before:

Right off the bat you can see this room is a mish mosh with no clear purpose or zones, and the furniture placement isn't doing it any favors. The bike and divider screen are right smack in the middle, making the room seem smaller than it is, and the two bookshelves are both too big for where they're placed.

My first priority was to shift the furniture to fit the room better, and to establish 3 separate zones: work, exercise, and crafting. Within 15 minutes John & I were moving furniture around, and you can already see a big improvement with just a few tweaks:

Sue only had the divider screen in there so she wouldn't have to look at her desk while she cycled. So with the bike turned this way, no need for a divider! This also makes a much clearer zone for exercising in that corner.

This bookshelf right inside the door made the entry so tight that Sue's husband couldn't even get his wheelchair past. So that definitely had to move!

Friday, December 18, 2020

SPOOOOOON! Turning Plastic Spoons Into Shiny Angel Ornaments

You ever find a craft that makes you feel like a kid again? That's this one for me: hard to screw up, lots of ways to customize it, and ultimately it's just plain fun to do.

I give you, SPOON ANGELS!

These are thanks to my friend Karen, who came over for a craft night and made that first one on the left. I was so inspired I made several more, all with slightly different wings and decorations. I love how shiny they are: no matter how much hot glue you spooge all over these, they're still going to look amazing, I promise.

All you need to make your own is a pack of these plastic spoons and a pack of plastic trophy favors from Dollar Tree:

You'll also need hot glue, a little wire for the halos, and any extra embellishments you want like ribbon or rhinestones.

Snip the base off the trophy and flip it upside down, and you've got an angel torso:

If you want the legs to dangle, tie a thread through the neck hole first like I'm doing here. I've found that's more trouble than it's worth, though, so I recommend just hot-gluing the legs on later.

The rest is easy: snip apart the plastic spoons and hot glue in place to make the head, limbs, and wings. You can also add a skirt, like this:

I'm amazed how much this looks like real metal.

Or leave the skirt off, and your angel will look more like a bell:

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Dollar Tree Quick Craft: Sparkly Christmas Trees 2 Ways!

I have a somewhat love/hate relationship with Dollar Tree crafters on Youtube, gang. I love some of them, like Do It On A Dime and Glue Guns & Roses, but others make me yell at the screen, "YOU JUST REPAINTED A SIGN THAT'S NOT A CRAFT," until John gently suggests I go back to watching Critical Role and stop scaring the cats.

Anyhoo, so this month I've been having way too much fun trying to brainstorm my own original crafts using unexpected Dollar Tree materials - and I promise, none of them are repainted signs. :p

This first DIY is so easy and pretty I'm shocked I haven't seen anyone make it yet - but then, I rarely see Youtubers using party favors to craft with. So head to that aisle at your local Dollar Tree (it's where the kids toys are) and grab these two packs of party favors:

Those are tiny party hats and plastic noise maker thingies, BUT...

::singing:: Do you see what I seeee?

Take off the party hat elastics, which are only held on with clear tape, and now all you need is a straw. Any straw. They sell packs at Dollar Tree, but I happened to have some funky polka-dotted ones, so I used those:

Eyeball the length you want, and cut the straw to size. Then squeeze one end of the straw together, and jam it into the end of the noisemaker:

There's a plastic slot in there that perfectly grips the straw, no glue needed!

Now plop your little party hat on:

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Our New Year's Card Is A Pop-Up, Light-Up Dumpster Fire With Dancing Raccoons. Want One?

I've been searching for weeks to find some crafty way to commemorate 2020, and eventually decided John and I would have to design something from scratch to really do this year justice.

This has taken at least a dozen prototypes, testing cut files, colors, papers, and overall design, but I'm delighted to finally unveil our finished New Year's card! Woohoo! Can I get a trumpet fanfare?

Omigosh, that's even better. Thank you, John.

So as you can see, the front and back are super simple:

Because this card is all about the inside:

Pop in a battery-operated tealight, and that's when the magic happens:

Obviously this card isn't for everyone, but if you have a twisted sense of humor - or just really like trash pandas - then our pop-up light-up dumpster fire is for you. And good news! I convinced John to put in the extra work to make his files available for you bots. It's taken several days, but he's done all the hard stuff, designing & formatting & adding handy placement guides. So now all you have to do is download our files, print, cut on your Cricut or other cutting machine, and assemble.

Oh, and the downloadable version doesn't have any words inside, so you can choose to add your own message or leave the inside blank.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

An Interesting Mix Of "Holiday" And "Mildly Horrifying"

Wassup, 'Bot fam? How's your week going? How's your stress level? You remembering to breathe today?

Well listen, I don't know what kind of day you're having, but I can almost guarantee this roly-poly toad ornament is going to make it better. 

HEEEE! Omigosh. Y'all. Y'ALL.

The more I look at this face, the better my day gets. Can you feel it?

::Kronk voice: "Oh. I can feel it."::

Check out the side view on this bad boy:

This amazingness is by Beatrix Cromwell, and you can check out her Etsy shop here. Last I checked she doesn't have any of these toadies left (SOB) but she has plenty of other cool creatures!


Kleo over on Weird Secondhand Finds posted about her new chair, but as usual, I was immediately distracted by the thing next to it:

Oooh, that fabulous pink plant! Reminds me of Doofenshmirtz's giant blue palm/flower thing:

Kleo later said in the comments that she'd used an old thrift store plant and 7 cans of gloss spray paint to make it that pink, and omigosh. I... I think need to do this. Not only is it fun and cartoony and modern, I bet the gloss paint makes it easier to dust. BONUS.

Hmm. Let's see, I have an interesting mix of both holiday and mildly horrifying stuff today. (Aha! POST TITLE, BABY.) So which do you want next?

Holiday? Really?

Ok, party pooper, here:

The Christmas gnome trend has reached new heights:

This pic is all over Facebook and Pinterest, but I can't find the original source. Anyone know?

I'd love to do this with our own stubby front tree, but then our gnome would have more of a bowler hat and a pencil neck. Which, you know...

Right. MY TURN TO PICK. Brace yourself:

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Before & After: Transforming A Spare Closet Into A Secret Craft Room!

For our latest big project John and I've been working on an old friends' home office, which needed a complete overhaul. Sue works from home full-time, but she also needs her office to serve as both an exercise AND craft room.

I can't wait to show you the whole thing - because sweet Stay Puft did we pull off a dramatic transformation - but for today, let's focus on... THE CLOSET:

Dun dun DUNNNN

This closet was a GOLD MINE of under-used space, plus Sue had already purged a massive amount, which helped even more. Since this closet was never going to be used for clothing, I know immediately I wanted to turn it into a crafty workspace.

As always John and I worked with things Sue and her husband Ken already owned, to keep the cost down. And as luck would have it, they were just about to give away a small desk that fit perfectly inside this closet:

Aha! Clearly meant to be.

Now all we needed was custom shelving, which John got to work designing and building out of MDF:

He graduated the three shelf widths from 12 to 10 to 8 inches, and extended the sides to make better use of the corner spaces:

Like so.

I'm ashamed to say we did not paint the entire closet, but we at least added that band of pink inside for a pretty pop of color. The rest of the white walls will be mostly covered, so it won't look this bad at the end, promise.

The lowest shelf is the most shallow, only 8 inches wide. That's so we could install LEDs on the outer edge of the middle shelf to light the work space below.

Hi, John! I think he's running the wire here: we ran a power strip under the right door from a nearby plug.

We tried 3 different types of LED lighting: the first were battery-operated puck lights that died within a few days, and the second plug-in LEDs didn't have a true white setting, so the color cast was too blue. Happily the third LED bar we bought from Lowe's was juuuust right.

Ready to see it all finished?

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Orlando's Festival of Trees 2020, Part 2: Wreaths, Trees, & Tablescapes

Ready for more Festival of Trees eye candy?


Part 1 was all trees (click here if you missed it) but I have lots more photos and fun design ideas to share, like this sparkly silver tablescape:

All these cool grays and silvers with the bare garland are heavenly - plus the clear glass adds to the sparkle.

Let's jump over to my top 10 wreaths, though:

Nothing too unusual here, but WOW does hanging a wreath on a mirror turn the glam up to 11. I need to start watching for thrift store mirrors to do this.

This metal deer head gives off more of a gothic skull vibe... and I kind of dig it?

Also these colors! I'd never think to add green ornaments or ribbon to a green wreath, but this mix is fantastic.

Always a fan of classic black-and-white on wreaths:

And don't you just want to hug this one?