Category: DIY

DIY Painted Tray

March 3
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A few weeks ago I purchased a new coffee table for my living room. After setting it all up I realized that it needed a little something to brighten it up. After looking at images on Pinterest and Instagram I decided what I needed was a nice tray to hold the little things and kind of break up the space. Now my coffee table is a nice medium wood tone. Because of this I knew I wanted to go with a tray that was not a wood color. I wanted something light-colored but not metal or glass. What I wanted was a white tray.
I did some hunting for the perfect tray but found nothing until, one day while wondering Target I came across a light wooden tray in their craft section. The thing was only $6.99 and perfect to paint.
I grabbed the tray and brought it home. I knew I was going to want to paint this white and distress it to give it a slight shabby-chic farmhouse look.
To achieve this look I started by staining the tray with a wood stain. Although this worked for me, if I were to do this again I would have purchased a gel stain which would have produced a darker result. After the stain tried I covered the tray with a few coats of chalk paint. I make my chalk paint by combining regular interior house paint with plaster of paris. Find out more here. After a few coats I then grabbed some medium grit sandpaper and sanded a few areas of the tray to give the piece some definition and let the stained wood show through. I distressed with the sandpaper along seams as well as throughout keeping a light hand. When this was all done I went back over the tray with an furniture wax to seal the piece and protect it. I then added felt pads to the bottom corners so that it would not scratch the table.
I am using this tray to hold remotes, a book, a plant and a candle. Just a nice little collection of things that are nice and relaxing. My favorite part of this is that if I need to remove the things from the table I just need to pick up the tray and move it to a side table and my coffee table is free for games or whatever. Nice and simple. How do you store remotes and books? Do you use a coffee table or tray?
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DIY holiday centerpiece

December 2
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I was at my parent’s house the other day and my mother gave me a few antique kitchen items and one of the items that stuck out to me was this adorable pie tin. You never see pie plates like this anymore and when she gave it to me I knew I had to find a fun way to showcase it.

Fast forward a week and we were decorating our home for the holidays and I saw the pie tin again. It took it over to my dining table and realized it would make a great part of a centerpiece.

I also knew I wanted something a little bigger than the tin, so I took the round tray I was currently using and placed the tin in the tray. I used a few coasters to raise the tin a little higher to give the centerpiece some, but not too much height. You wanna be able to see the person sitting across from you, right?

I added a set of three candles I already owned the middle as they work great in this space. Once I had my base I added some greenery. I found these sprigs with my holiday decor so I went with them. I wouldn’t mind something less glittery, but I am just going to go with the stuff I already have as it is here and simple. I then added a few sprigs of holly berries and some decorative cinnamon sticks and that is it!

This centerpiece was super simple and made from the pie tin plus stuff I just had around the house. I love thinking a little out of the box and creating like this with things I already have. Hopefully this post can inspire you to look around your home and see what you can use to create your own centerpiece or holiday decor.  If you create something, please tag me in a photo, I’d love to see it! I’m on facebook  @_amberdowns on Instagram.

 

 

DIY farmhouse centerpiece from a vintage pie tin. perfect holiday farm decor for your table.

Diy farmhouse centerpiece

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DIY Popcorn Garland

November 30
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We’re very in to Christmas decorating around here. It is not just me, my husband is 100% in on it too. We love to transform out home in to a holiday escape. In general, most of the decor decisions around here are made by me, but when it comes to the holidays, Charlie likes to have a little more input. So back in October, I asked him what he thought of doing a homemade popcorn garland instead of our usual beads and he seemed interested in the idea, but neither of us did anything about it. Fast forward to the day after Thanksgiving, our traditional decorating day, and as we’re starting to get the tree going, he asks me about the garland. I had forgotten about it until then, but when I saw he was interested I went over to the kitchen, popped some corn, and we went for it. I was lucky that we always make our popcorn from the kernel instead of the bag, so we had plenty on hand. I also had some leftover cranberries just waiting to be used.  So here you have it, our popcorn garland!

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This popcorn garland is super easy to make. In fact, my husband and I whipped it together for our seven foot tree in about an hour.

Supplies:

Note: Popcorn should be plain and free of and butter or oil. We used plain kernels and popped them in our Air Popper. (We LOVE this thing and it is totally worth it if you eat a lot of popcorn.) Day old popcorn will be a little more rubbery and will work better, but we used fresh and it was fine. 

To start grab your needle and thread and make your line. I doubled the thread and knotted it at the bottom to make a thicker garland. We made each of ours approx. 10 feet in length so that it wrapped around well, but wasn’t too long.

Now it is time to start threading the popcorn and cranberries on the line. We did a pattern of five popcorn kernels and then one cranberry, but feel free to experiment with what is best for you. You can even skip the cranberries completely if you’d like. If you find mushy cranberries toss them out.

Keep going until you get to the end. When I get there I used a cranberry at the end and then cut the needle off. I then pulled out of the strings out of the cranberry and tied them together so that the cranberry was a part of the knot.

After we had made out strands we just wrapped them around the tree so that the ends were in the back. Super easy!

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If you wanted to save the garland you could spray it garland with shellac. We skipped this part as I don’t plan on keeping this one; we will just cut it and add it to our compost.

Well there you go, that is how we made this charming garland for our tree. I am honestly surprised it is not more popular of an option with “farmhouse” and “rustic” being so in right now. But hey, more popcorn for me.

Christmas tree diy popcorn and cranberry garland. Perfect for your farmhouse Christmas tree and vintage holiday

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DIY Dollar Tree skull lanterns

October 17
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I usually skip halloween decorations in my home. It is not that I don’t love halloween, I just usually do a generic fall decor that I can keep up until Thanksgiving. I’m all about easy decorating.

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But for some reason this fall I decided I needed to add a little bit of spooky. I didn’t want to get too crazy so I decided to just decorate the porch so I wouldn’t spend an arm and a leg.

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Anyways, I  got a lot of my decor at Dollar Tree and while I was there I saw these awesome skulls. This got me thinking. I knew I had some lanterns at home that it would fit in. How cool would that be?

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So I grabbed two skulls and a set of two flickering LED candles and went on my way.img_3020

At home, I cut the bottoms off of the skulls so that my LED candles could shine through. Then I searched the garage (for far too long.) to find these perfect lanterns. I believe these are from the Target Dollar Spot a few years ago for the 4th of July, but I could be wrong. Anyways, I cleaned them up and then added my skulls and candles.

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I love how these make a spooky centerpiece and I only spend $3 on the whole thing.  It pays to think about what you have around the house before you start decorating. Yes, the lanterns have non-spooky stars in them, but who even cares, right?

 

recipe

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DIY functional Happy Planner dashboard

June 21
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If you’ve spent any time in the planner community I am sure you have seen all the super cute dashboards and dividers people have made. Let me tell you- they are ADORABLE and I love them, but they are usually just not for me. I love dividers, tabs and paper clips because I love getting to the page I want, but I need it to be focused on function, not cuteness. I am sure a cute shaker sheet is fun to make, but it does not help me.

img_0711Anyways, I have stayed away form most dashboards but this month I wanted to try something new to help organize  my lists. I decided to make a dashboard to hold a shopping list that I would refer to throughout the month. One of the things I have been working on this year is reducing the unnecessary trips to the grocery store and I am not doing so great. (Full disclosure, today I had to go to the store at 7:30 am to buy cat food. It is that bad.)  I am hoping that by creating a list that I can add to all week and then have with me I will be able to get everything in one trip and save myself time, gas, and money.

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The dashboard itself is made from a folder from the Dollar Spot at target. I cut it down using my paper cutter and punched it with my Happy Planner Punch. If you only buy one accessory for your planner, GET THE PUNCH. It is worth it! Want to know what size to cut it to? Check out my dimensions post here and find your planner.

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I then cut regular paper down to fit on the dashboard and attach with washi tape. When I’m done with the list I just remove and add another.

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What do you think? Do you have any other creative ways to hold onto a list in your planner?

 

 

Need a punch? I have this one and love it!
The new Happy Planners are out! Grab one here!.
Looking for sticker paper? I buy this one from Amazon.
I cut my stickers with a Silhouette Cameo electric cutting machine.
On a budget? Try the Gyro-cut to cut your stickers.
Looking for more? Check out my archive of free printables.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

Creating an easy DIY Dashboard for the happy Planner

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Hosting an outdoor summer party

June 12
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Last month I hosted a simple little party with my friends to celebrate the beginning of summer. Generally, my entertaining is pretty simple with bags of chips and beer in a cooler, but for this girls only event I wanted to step it up a notch.

One of the ways I like to make a party or event feel a little classier is by the serving items I use. For this party I purchased galvanized steel trays to match the beverage tub I already owned. Although I saw tons of cute summer themed and printed serving items I stuck to plain ones because I wanted items that could be used for multiple parties throughout the year. I mean I love pineapples, but they would just look strange for Thanksgiving.  I also purchased a large mason jar styled water dispenser to keep my guests hydrated.

For the paper goods I just purchased the slightly nicer versions of things. I bought the clear cups instead of the red solo cups and the matching plates, silverware, and napkins from a line at target. I spent maybe a few dollars more on these, but it is worth it for the overall look and feel of the party.

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I live in Florida, here summer starts in the middle of March so I wasn’t sure how I was going to tackle the sandwich station. I wanted to have the supplies out, but I did not want to worry about anything going bad. I stressed about this for a little while until I realized I could create a system where the food would rest on a bed of ice. To make this, I purchased two of the same steel trays but filled one with water and froze it. When it came time for the party I placed the tray with the food on top of the frozen tray and the sandwich supplies stayed nice and cool. BONUS: Now I have two steel trays for a future party.

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My favorite part of this setup was the DIY Mimosa station. I’m sure you’ve seen these all over Pinterest, but I love the idea and wanted to try it myself.

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The sign is made from a precut piece of steel at Michaels and I made the vinyl decal with my Silhouette Cameo.  I also made a matching sign for the front door that said “Come on in” so the guests would know to come in and head to the back yard.

For the drinks I purchased orange juice (no pulp), lemonade, and raspberry lemonade. I thought I had three cute bottles to put the drinks in, but the evening before the party I realized I only had two. I was able to find some of the raspberry lemonade in a similar bottle so I used that, but ideally all three bottles would match.  For booze I bought a few bottles of prosecco and a bottle of rosé for anyone who isn’t a fan of mimosas.

In front of the bottles I placed fruit in three cups to be used as garnish. We had oranges, lemons, and strawberries cut and ready to use. For this party I keep those on ice due to the heat, but generally I’d keep them out front.

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Along with these goodies I put out a veggie tray for guests to nibble on during the party. I offered ranch dressing and hummus as dips. Although I love chip and cookies as easy party foods, I wanted to offer my guests a healthy alternative which I think was appreciated.

Overall this was a great little party for myself and my girlfriends. It was nice to do something a little fancier to kick off summer as I’m sure the rest of our summer parties will be much more casual. Hopefully this information can help you get your summer party of to a great start.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

 

Hosting an outdoor summer party

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Beauty and the Beast Bell Jars

April 28
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Last week at work I had the opportunity to host an event for our volunteers. With the recent release of the new live action Beauty and the Beast movie I had the idea to tie the event to that theme. I mean Bell loves books, right? So of course I wanted to recreate the iconic rose for the centerpeoces. 

After some searching around this is what I came up with. It’s super simple inexpensive which is great if you need several like I did. Read on to see how I made them. 


Supplies:
2 liter soda bottles
1.5 in foam balls 
Black paint 
Black felt 
Roses
X-acto knife
Scissors
Goo Gone

Several hours before you need your completed project paint the styrofoam balls with the acrylic paint. You can use whatever paint you like except for spray paint as it ruins foam. I used the cheap little bottles of acrylic paint from the craft store.

Remove the label from the 2 liter bottle. I cut it off then used goo gone to remove the label. TIP:  If you are just buying the 2 liter for this project select one with a clear label as opposed to a colored one as they seem to leave less adhesive. Next saturate the adhesive reside with goo gone and let sit for a minute. After that use a coin or your nails to remove the goo. Wipe down the bottle to remove residual product.

Next grab an x-acto knife and puncture the bottle near the bottom.  You can then use the knife or good scissors to cut the bottom of the bottle off. I found that many bottles had a little seam there which made cutting easy. After you’ve removed the bottom set the bottle on a table to ensure it is fairly even. Remember that we are using felt on the bottom so if there is a small jagged part it is going to be alright.

Now that the jar is nice and cut it is time to make the lid. Remove the cap from the bottle and the plastic ring. I found that it was easy to use scissors to pry the plastic ring off.

Now you will want to cut your styrofoam balls. I cut mine about 1/3 of the way in. I then gouged out the insides so that it would fit on the top. I used an x-acto knife to do this, just be careful! Next carefully push the ball onto the top of the bottle. If you push too hard it could break.At this point I grabbed some windex and cleaned the inside and the outside of the bottle, removing any remaining fingerprints or debris.

Now it is time to grab your flower. Cut your flower so that it fit in the bottle with the bottom resting on the table and the flower appearing near the top of the bottle. If your flower has movable leaves feel free to move them around to your liking. The fuller the jar looks the better.

It is now time to grab the felt and cut a circle that is about 1-2 inches wider in diameter than your bottle and place the circle under the bottle.

You’re done!


I used these as centerpieces. The tables were decorated with red and dark blue tablecloths with book pages spread like a table runner for accent. Rose petals would look lovely as well.

What do you think? Share below! 
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

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DIY Painted Kitchen Cart

March 8
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A few months ago my husband ran across this cute little kitchen cart at a yard sale. He knew that I was looking for something like this for a corner of our kitchen/dining room area and so he grabbed it for me. I loved the little cart, but I felt that it was a little lackluster and didn’t go with the room so I decided to fix it up a bit.  I recently got a new teal rug for the dining room so I decided to paint the base teal and use an antiquing wax to give it an interesting look. Our kitchen cabinets are a red oak so I purchased a stain for the top of the cart that matched this color.

Materials:
Minwax stain
Chalk paint
Antiquing wax 
Paint brush (These are supposed to be great)
Polyacrylic
Painter’s tape
Fine sandpaper
Electric sander (Optional, but totally worth the $30 investment if you’re going to be doing a lot of projects)

I purchased my paint and wax from Michaels however for simplicity I have linked to products at Amazon.

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The top of the cart is a butcher block and was a little worn so I went ahead and sanded the top down a little bit.  I used a fine grit sand paper. After sanding I wiped down the piece thoroughly so that it was nice and clean and then followed up with a dry cloth.

I chose to start with the stain as I knew I’d be doing several layers. The stain I used stays on for 15 minutes and then is removed with a cloth. Read the instructions on your can in case it is different. Use painter’s tape (or washi tape in a pinch) to keep the stain off unwanted surfaces.

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After staining I started painting the body of the cart. Originally I wanted the exterior of the drawer to be stained to match, however because the wood was different from the top of the piece the stain did not sink in well so I painted over it. I did two coats of paint and then did some touch up in a few places to make sure it was good.

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I chose to use an antiquing wax on this piece to give it a distressed finish. It also muted the color a bit which fit my room better. I found this YouTube video on how to use the wax very helpful.  Remember to read the instructions on your wax, with mine I went back the day after and buffed the piece to finish it.

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The last step was to apply a clear coat of Polyacrylic to the top. This is a clear water based sealant that will protect the surface. You may want to do two or three coats of this.

Overall this was a great project and a great deal. We spent way less on this piece and the supplies as we would a nicely painted new version of this product and we got it in the color we wanted which looks great in the dining room area.

DIY Calk painted kitchen cart. This piece was stained and waxed with an antiquing wax.

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DIY pumpkin face mask for fall

October 20
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DIY pumpkin face mask for fall. Make this autumn inspired diy beauty treatment today!

One of the things I love to do on my days off is an at home face mask. I often purchase these at Ulta or I make them myself. This year I had heard others in the blogosphere talking about pumpkin face masks and I wanted to try one myself. I came across this recipe for a mask and I tried it on a day off recently and really enjoyed it. It left with a smooth clean face but not overly dried out as can happen. Perfect for fall. I have noticed that as I get closer and closer to 30 my face is getting a bit drier and benefits from products geared toward dry and sensitive skin as opposed to the anti acne products of my youth. (Thank God that is over.) If you don’t know your skin type consider learning more HERE. Armed with this information you can make wise beauty purchases and get the most out of your products.

 

Anyways, I prepared the mask and applied to clean skin. Because of my dry skin I mentioned before, I chose to do this in the morning. I washed my face the night before so it was clean. You could get away with washing and applying directly after, it just depends on what works for your skin. :Let the mask sit for about 20 minutes and it will begin to harden.  This is fine.  I then removed it during my shower. You could also remove it with warm water and a washcloth.

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The recipe:
¼ cup pumpkin
1 tsp honey
1 egg

This makes enough for two or three masks so consider getting together with a few friends or sisters. Because this is made with raw egg I suggest using soon after making it and discarding leftovers immediately.

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Did you try this mask? What did you think?  If you have any other fall beauty suggestions share them below!

Six tips for saving money at Michaels

September 2
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If you’re anything like me, then you love craft stores. I am there all the time for planner supplies, personal craft supplies, work supplies, and sometimes just to get some inspiration.  However, if you’ve ever been in Michael’s then you know you can easily drop a pretty penny there. I am going to share with you here some of my tips for saving cash at Michael’s.

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1 Download the app:
The first thing you need to do to start saving at Michaels is to download their app.  The app is free and available for Andriod and iOS devices. With the app you have access to store locations, coupons, and sales flyers at the tip of your fingers.

2. Check the ad:
Michaels have items on sale all the time.  These sales very from 25%-60% off and BOGO Free and BOGO 1/2 off of items.  You may sporadically see B2Get1 Free and other sales throughout the store.  Most (But not all) coupons are for regular priced items.  If you plan to use a coupon you need to check if an item is on sale before you attempt to use the coupon.

2. Check your coupons:
Generally if you have the app all available coupons will show up there.  Of course you could have special coupon from an event, email, or other source. Michaels regularly puts out a 40% off one regular priced item coupon.  This can be found in the app, ad, or on a receipt from a prior purchase.  This coupon can be used over and over again, but is limited to once per day.  Because there is a Michael’s near my workplace, if I need more than one item I just go back the next day or have my husband go with me and buy it.  Be sure to check the wording on the coupon.  Some coupons only apply to one item, some coupons only apply to regular-priced items.  The wording matters.  Many items are regularly excluded from coupons.  These items (currently) include Silhouette, Circuit, Polaroid, and other brands as well as everyday value products and others.  Check out the entire policy here.  Keep in mind these are just the general exclusions, check the fine print on your coupon to see what exclusions apply.

3. Subscribe to emails:
New email subscribers receive a 20% off their entire purchase coupon.  This AWESOME coupon includes sale items. I suggest waiting until the items are want are on sale and then subscribing to the email list to get a coupon to use on top of the sale price.  Example:  Project Life albums are on sale 40% off.  You purchase on that is regularly priced $21.99.  With the sale is it $13.19 and then when you use the 20% off coupon it will come to $10.55.  That is half off.  Awesome!

NEW: Michaels has just started a new rewards program called Michaels Rewards.  This program is free to sign up for and members get exclusive coupons, early access to sales, and more.  Click HERE to register or visit your local store. 

4. Pay with gift cards:
Still want to save?  Pay with a discounted gift card.  Whenever I make a major purchase I check Raise for discounted gift cards to the store I am interested in.  Right now they have discounted cards up to 21% off.  Click here to get $5 off your first gift card.

5. Use competitor coupons:
Michaels, along with other craft stores, accept competitors coupons.  This means if you have a coupon to Jo-Anns for 60% off a regular priced coupon you can use it at Michaels.  Big Deal, I know.  They currently accept coupons from AC Moore, JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, Ben Franklin, and Hobby Lobby.

6. Be aware of sale cycles:
Just like at the grocery store, product lines and categories that go on sale do so on a regular basis.  As I already mentioned, I know that Project Life items regularly go 40% off every few weeks.  This means that instead of wasting my 40% off on one item coupon on an album, I’ll wait for it to be on sale and then use an email coupon or another coupon that includes sale items. Of course some items, like adhesives, never go on sale, so using that 40% off one item coupon on that would be a smart idea.

Have another tip? Share it below!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page.