Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

DIY Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas

Monday, December 8th, 2014

DIY Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas

 

I can’t believe that the holidays are upon us and, if you are anything like me, the house is just begging you to decorate it for the season. I love beautiful holiday decorations, but I prefer simplicity, affordability, and smart investments that can be used over and over again. In our house, for example, we are decking it out with my favorite burlap wreath and my handmade yarn trees and we are even buying our first REAL Christmas tree this year (which I am awfully excited about).

I love to make handmade items that we can pull out from year to year so that is why I am excited to showcase some DIY Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas from some of my favorite DIY bloggers.

Check out these amazing DIY Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas on the Goodwill Tips blog today!

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How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship

Monday, December 1st, 2014

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

*This post is sponsored by Walmart

I have had my calendar booked forever for Peter Pan Live! ever since I heard it was the next live theater production to hit television. Did you hear that it is coming to NBC on Thursday, December 4 at 8/7c? The cast includes several of my favorites like Allison Williams, Christopher Walken, Christian Borle and Minnie Driver. In honor of the film, I have crafted up a watermelon boat that you can share with your kids for your family night together. This fun food craft can be created together, adding your own personal pirate touches, or you can create it to surprise the kids for your family night.

Not many people know this, but I did theatre for many years and my favorite type of shows to do were musicals. My love for this started in high school and I took a year off in between high school and college to do more shows. In fact, I even did a show when I was pregnant with my son.  Thankfully, it was of an era with empire waists and flowing Victorian clothing. I miss it a lot and that is, perhaps, why I appreciate the opportunity to catch any production that I can. I also appreciate any opportunity I can get to expose my children to the arts and it is why I put a big significance on this in our home. Not everyone can afford a ticket to see a show and I love that this is an affordable way to enjoy the arts as a family.

Without further adieu, let’s create a fun pirate ship for your family night!

Supplies Needed

1 watermelon

1 pint blueberries

1 pint strawberries

1 pound grapes

1 sharp knife

cutting board

1 piece of cardstock

5 paper straws (I found these in the party supplies aisle)

1 hole punch

1 pair of scissors

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

 

Directions for Watermelon Pirate Ship

1. To help your boat sit upright, slice very thinly the end off of the bottom of the watermelon, making sure not to puncture your watermelon so it can act as a boat for your fruit.

2.  Slice the top half of your watermelon off. Set aside.

3. Using a melon baller, remove the meat of your watermelon. If you do not have a melon baller, you can score the watermelon into chunks and glide your knife all around watermelon to help create the shape of your chunks. Use a spoon to then scoop out the squares of melon. Ideally though, a melon baller makes quick work for your fruit salad.

4. Once the melon is completely hollowed out, slice your fruit and place it inside of your bowl, weaving in your watermelon, to create your fruit salad.

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

5. Now we can make our sails for our ship. Cut out five squares from a single piece of cardstock, any size you wish. I just cut out one square and used it as a template to create the rest of my sails. These do not have to be perfect, in fact, if they are imperfect they look like they are waving a bit in the breeze.

6. Using a hole punch, punch out a punch near the top of the square and then near the bottom to create a place for our straws to slide through. I stacked them all together and then punched them all at once so they would look more uniform.

7.  You will then need to cut your straws are varying sizes. I did one long straw, two medium, and then two short.  Slide the straw through making sure that the straw is peeking out of the back and not the front of that pretty white sail.

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

We hope you love this craft we created in honor of  Peter Pan Live! and we hope you can catch the show with us!  You can learn more about this amazing production here! We can’t wait and hope this idea inspires you for your family night together!

xo

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

If there is one thing this girl loves it is a good yarn pom-pom project. I have created everything from pom-pom Christmas trees to bouquets of flowers for gift-giving. Today I’m partnering with Walmart to show you a fun winter craft you (or your little ones) can create for the holidays to decorate a window, mantel, or pretty up a ledge in your home. The best part is that it doesn’t cost a lot to create and can be used year after year!

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

1 skein (or possibly two depending on your ledge size) Hometown USA Super Bulky Yarn in Los Angeles Tan ($2.97)

Package of 20 Mini Shatterproof Ornaments (in seasonal decor with the mini artificial trees) ($3.48)

Large Clover Pom-Pom Maker (use the blue one) ($6.61)

Scissors

Embroidery Needle

Scissors

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com how-to-use-a-pom-pom-maker-4 Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Yarn Pom Pom & Mini-Ornament Garland Directions

1. Prepare yarn pom-poms as I have shown you in the step-by-step photo tutorial or follow directions on packaging to create your pom poms. Keep making pom-poms making sure to leave enough yarn to string your pom-pom garland.

2. Once all of your pom poms are made, thread them with the embroidery needle onto your yarn. Take the embroidery needle off (the needle head is too large to feed through the mini-ornaments) and then alternate it with a mini-ornament. Keep doing this until you have filled the entire garland leaving a little on each end to hang down. I ended mine with an ornament since it ends the garland securely without knotting.

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

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Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com
Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com
Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com
Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Did you see that I got my first little fireplace? I decided to decorate it with this adorable garland. To tie it all together, I filled glass bowls ($1.97 each) with a package of mini ornaments ($3.48 each) and then stacked them on my little fake logs that I had bought for my fall decorating from the craft store. I found these adorable owls  for $4.98 in the seasonal decor and I love that I can leave these out even when it isn’t Christmas. This mini lighted tree was $9.98 and I finished her with a little pom-pom topper too. Since we took our painting down to decorate, I used the nails I had for hanging another shorter garland above the top to add a little interest to the wall.

This project took me about one hour and I look forward to enjoying it all Winter long and in the years to come.

I hope this frugal idea inspires you in your holiday decorating! Happy Holidays!

xo

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide

Friday, November 28th, 2014

The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide

 

I have been jotting down ideas for this holiday gift guide over the year since each year I aim to create a really useful gift guide that you really will use and love when selecting your gifts. This list is a compilation of my favorite things that have made me very happy and I believe they are the perfect gifts to share with someone you love.

I did not set a dollar limit this year on the gifts because I don’t get the opportunity to share some of the pricier things that I really have used and loved, but the list will offer a range of ideas for your own Christmas budget. I also try to share if I have found them somewhere cheaper or where to snag a coupon to make these gifts more affordable.

Magicbox Speaker

Magicbox Speaker ($29.99)

I absolutely love my Magicbox Speaker for listening to podcasts and music through my iPhone or iPad. This little guy is Bluetooth-enabled so it can connect with your device and charges with a little USB cable that it comes with. The sound is really good- not Sonos quality, but really perfect for my laundry/making dinner/cleaning house needs. I am one happy girl now that I don’t have to hold my phone to my ear to keep up with all my stories and to hear my music.  I really think this is a sweet little gift and I love the price tag.

Blanket Scarves

Blanket Scarves ($15 or less)

Blanket scarves are very trendy this year and are the perfect gift to give for the holiday season. These are also an ideal gift for someone who travels a lot since they fit perfectly in your carry-on luggage and can be wrapped around you when you get cold on the plane or at the airport.  I have an easy tutorial to create a blanket scarf  for gift-giving this year for the crafty and the not-so-crafty.  Head over here and check to see if flannel fabrics are on sale. If not, that same link will provide you a 40% off coupon. You will DEFINITELY want to use this because it makes these scarves budget-friendly for the holidays.

UGG Slippers

UGG Slippers ($55 on eBay)

I wish I could give everyone in the world a pair of UGG slippers because these make me that happy. Every year I buy a cheap pair of slippers from Target that I trash and then have to buy another pair, usually mid-season. I discovered that UGG makes slippers (I know, I am so behind on the times!) and I decided to hunt on eBay to see if I could find a pair of slippers for myself.  I wanted something that looked like a shoe and not yo grandma’s slippers. I found these Gray Suede Driving Moccasins that were brand-new (just missing their box) and bought them for $55. Considering I am probably spending that much on two cheap pairs every year, this is a worthy investment. The best part is that they have leather inserts for warm days and then they have that delightful furry insert for freezing days. UGG Slippers bought from UGG might be out of the budget, but checking eBay might be a great option for brand new slippers at a fraction of the price for someone you love!

Fitbit Flex

Fitbit Flex ($74.89)

I am one of those people that is slow to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to technology and gadgets. Before the Fitbit Flex even launched, my husband knew about it and wanted to buy it for me. Now that it has been enough time for the trend to pass, I figured I would look into getting one and I absolutely love it for motivating me to stay fit and hit the gym.

Several of my girlfriends have these and I tend to have an annoyingly competitive streak so being in a competition for the most steps has been pushing me to hit the gym and go on an evening walk so I can compete against my athletic friends.

The other thing that I love, not fitness related, is the silent alarm feature on the Fitbit Flex. I have to be the first one up in our house and when my alarm goes off, it triggers my husband to wake up and our cat to start the annoying meowing baby cry reserved for the morning alarm. You can set a silent alarm on the app and the bracelet vibrates to wake you in the morning.  I wake up happier,  my husband continues to sleep, and the cat doesn’t start her annoying meowing baby cry until she realizes I am up. Winning all around!

If you are gifting this, consider making a little DIY Fitbit Flex Leather Cuff to go with it- this has been one of my favorite things this year!

Logitech Keyboard

Logitech iPad Keyboard ($49.46)

I used to carry around my laptop when I traveled, but when I got my iPad, I knew that I wouldn’t need to carry that around with me anymore because HELLO…BROKEN BACK. How many pounds is a laptop? Ouch!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand trying to type on the touch screen, particularly when sending lengthy emails or trying to conduct anything for my business. I found this Logitech iPad Keyboard and it has been one of the best tech investments I have ever made. It instantly turns your iPad into a mini-laptop that you can carry in your purse. The battery life lasts forever before it requires a charge with a small cord, making it perfect for me to take to my conferences. The outside of it is metal and durable, helping protect your iPad screen and it latches together magnetically, as though they weren’t meant to be together from the start.

The best part is that it holds my iPad up for me while I am laying in my hotel bed watching Parenthood episodes so that I can hold my Kleenex and cry without having to hold the screen at the same time. Can you just imagine how hard that would be?

But it is also very important for business. Yes, for business.

This American Life

This American Life App ($2.99)

An iTunes gift card makes the perfect little stocking stuffer for the holidays and may I offer a suggestion on how to spend it?  I am an NPR junkie and if  you haven’t discovered it yet  This American Life is mostly true stories of everyday people, and the best way I can describe it is that the show is like listening to a movie about these people.  It is typically told in three acts that all interact around the same theme. It is the best kind of storytelling and usually leads to a beautiful discussion about your own viewpoints after the show. The app is wonderful for listening to all of the Staff Picks and the best of the best in This American Life offerings.

My husband and I sit in our respective chairs and hang on every word. Every. Word. It’s become one of our favorite things to do in the evenings, further solidifying the exciting type of senior life you might expect from us in the future.  If you aren’t listening to NPR, you are missing the boat. And I can say this because I missed the boat for years and now I can’t imagine my life without it.

Faux Fur Throws

Faux Fur Blankets ($15.88)

I was hoping these blankets would be back from Better Homes & Gardens and spotted these faux fur throws back on the shelves this week at Walmart. This is MY FAVORITE blanket and a great gift to give for the holidays.  It is cozy fleece on one side and then the other side is a glorious faux fur.  They even had a free Better Homes & Gardens Magazine subscription attached to it which made the deal even sweeter.  Who wouldn’t love a cozy throw with a gift card to select a few favorite books to read.

Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition Books

Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions ($18 or less)

Every year I ask for one Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition to read.  These books are so beautifully bound and I try to read one classic each year so these beautiful books add a lot of motivation to read them since they are such a treat to page through. This year I have my eye on this Ernest Hemingway collection or to dig into this Laura Ingalls Wilder collection to read with my favorite little girl in the evenings. You will never regret these purchases for our bookshelf. I love all of the Barnes & Noble Collectible editions and even treated myself to The Giver collection this year (which I can’t wait to read!) that I found in my local store. (PS- Check here for coupons!)

Sorel Boots

Sorel Boots ($110 or more)

Five years ago I got my first (and only) pair of Sorel Boots and they still look just like the day that I got them. They have a cozy layer of Thinsulate inside of them that keep my feet toasty and each year a little polishing and waterproof spraying helps them to go strong from year to year. I have never spent a lot on shoes, but after the fifth year of these going strong, I can honestly say that they are a worthwhile investment especially if you live in the Midwest. I am planning to ask for Sorel gift cards to put towards my next pair of boots from my family members so I can pool them together to get another pair.

Royal Fox Print

Royal Fox Print

Royal Fox Print ($45)

My brother is an artist in NOLA and when I came to visit we had the best time checking out all of the art that the street vendors offered as well as the galleries full of unique art. I only brought home one souvenir from my trip and it was this sweet little Royal Fox print that I found  at the Gallery Burguieres in NOLA. The artist was as sweet as could be and has recently had a little drama going on with this fox that has made him rather famous in the Taylor Swift world. This shop is a little NOLA treasure and was one of my favorite galleries we visited and this print makes me smile every time I see it.

Janet Hill Studios

Janet Hill Studios

Janet Hill Prints ($26 or more)

My home is filling quickly with Janet Hill prints and every single piece just speaks to my soul in a way no other artist has ever spoken to me. Each print tells such a beautiful and unique story that I think would resonate with just about anyone. These beautiful prints would be lovely to share with someone you love particularly if you frame them with an inexpensive frame. I took mine to Hobby Lobby to get a matte that would make each one stand out. Of course, Janet Hill is just one of many talented artists that share their wares on Etsy so you if you are unsure of your recipient’s taste, consider a gift card to Etsy to make gift-giving easy and unique.

Knitted Boot Cuffs

Knitted Boot Cuffs ($5)

Our most popular project on the site right now are these knitted boot cuffs that you can whip it up in a mere two hours. I gave these to my best friend Christmas last year and you can make them for about $5 in materials. These are such fun toppers to your boots and would also make a sweet little stocking stuffer. If you are new to cabling, this is an easy project to tackle to master cabling and you can’t beat that these can be created in such a short amount of time.

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of It’s the 3 Little Things for more happiness givers.

 

I hope this little list helps as you plan your holiday shopping. You can also find a great list of 54 handmade gifts you can make for those special people in your life!  What are your favorite gifts you have given or received?

 

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How to Paint a Laminate Fireplace

Friday, November 28th, 2014

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

It has been a dream of mine to have a fireplace in our home.  It started with a faux mantel obsession and endless nights on Craigslist. Then every home improvement show we watched had beautiful restored mantels that made me pine more for a cozy place in our home to sit. When we rented a lake cottage last winter, we all took turns sitting by it in the evenings to warm up. I just can’t seem to get over it.

Walmart wanted to partner with me on a fun winter project and I just knew it was time to pull the trigger.  You know, let the obsessing begin again. This time, I decided to explore the electric fireplace option for our home due to its affordability and ease it would be to add it to a room in our home.

I haven’t seen an electric fireplace in action in many years, but I can honestly say that they have come a long way. The flames are much more realistic than they used to be and you can select if you just want to sit by your little faux fire or if you want actual warmth which warms a room as a space heater would.  It’s definitely not the real deal, but a beautiful substitute especially for small spaces that need a little cozying.

Electric Fireplaces Ideas Under $200

Pictured Above: 1. Electric Fireplace with a 44″ mantel ($199)/ 2. Wall Mounted Fireplace ($124.95)/ 3. Electric Fireplace with 26″ Mantel ($129.99) 4. Electric Fireplace With 38″ Mantel (159.97)/ 5. 26″ Polyfiber Electric Fireplace ($199)

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

This back corner in my craft room/office was intended to be a place to unwind. Unfortunately, unwinding seemed impossible when facing my desk and the corner ended up being a pretty space that was rarely used. I decided that wall would be the perfect spot for our little fireplace and settled upon this Electric Fireplace with a 44″ mantel ($199) for the space. I paid the $5 for swift shipping and the item came overnight- I am not kidding.

This is a build-it-yourself piece of furniture that took a couple of hours to put together. I must admit, my husband was not on board at this point with my decision to bring this into our space, but I knew it could anchor this corner better and would be a lovely treat in the winter.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

That same evening (a late night Instagram capture), I rearranged the furniture and the kids raided their library books and spent the evening cozy by it.

I loved the cozy space, but felt that the fireplace could look a little better with a little paint and creating a brighter focal point. I decided that I would paint it white to brighten it up and also to camouflage that this is a laminate wood piece. Have you ever painted laminate wood before?  It really couldn’t be easier with these three simple ingredients.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture in 3 Easy Steps

1. Paint on a Coat of Zinsser Primer- I became a fan of Zinsser Primer when I painted our kitchen table (she still looks great!) and could not seem to remove the layers of poly that had been applied to the table. In the same way, Zinsser makes a laminate surface accept your paint. If you don’t use this as a sealant before painting, it is likely that your project will begin to bubble and it will not accept the application of paint. Zinsser dries very quickly and is easy to apply to the surface. Once it is dry (usually within an hour or two), you can begin painting your furniture

2. Next, you can apply your paint. I have been painting like crazy over here and so I had a gallon of paint on hand that I could dig into for this project. Since the laminate wood was so dark, I used my Benjamin Moore Paint (the paint color is White Dove) that included a primer already in it.  With the addition of that, plus the Zinsser, I only needed one coat and a little more for touching up.

3. Finish with two coats of Polycrylic in a Clear Satin. I have a very sad, sad tale to share soon about two pieces of furniture that were ruined by an oil-based poly. In fact, they yellowed within a single week. Please if you do one thing, take my advice and use Polycrylic to finish your project. It is clear, it doesn’t smell as awful as the oil-based, and this product WON’T YELLOW YOUR FURNITURE.  Allow each coat of poly to dry for two hours before reapplying. Allow the piece to dry overnight.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

The white paint definitely makes this fireplace the focal point of the room. I have already decorated her for the holidays and will be sharing my mantel decorating ideas on the blog next week that I created in less than an hour. This space is truly the happiest corner in our home and has been a wonderful place to unwind in the evening hours or for a break in the office during the day. I can’t believe how affordable this solution was and I love that I added my own touches to it to truly make it mine.

As you can see it, it is a hit with the whole family even our cat loves it and cozies up with us here. I highly recommend a little Bing on the record player to really bring this corner to life!

Happy holidays, friends!

xo

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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How to Make a Blanket Scarf

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

How to Make a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

I am madly in love with blanket scarves. My obsession started as all good obsessions do. It began on Pinterest. All of these fabulously fashionable women were rocking these gorgeous scarves, but they were out of my price range or lacked the fullness & beauty that was captured online. I decided I wanted to make some for my minimalist wardrobe because it would add so much. Did you know you can make a blanket scarf with no sewing skills required?

Let’s begin by taking a peek at the coveted $44 Zara scarf (that sells out in minutes, not kidding).  I want to zoom on in it so we can take a closer look.

Zara Blanket Scarf

The thing I want you to see is that the edges are frayed on their version too. Guess what? You can achieve that with a little flannel and pulling. The best part is that this version will cost you quite a bit less than $44. I am going to make a big stack of them to show you and then I am going to show you some fun ways to tie them.

How to Make a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

The first thing you will need to do is shop for your fabric which is so much fun. I went to a few shops to check out fabric and ended up finding it at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  Head over here (a great coupon affiliate of mine!) and check to see if flannel fabrics are on sale. If not, that same link will provide you a 40% off coupon. You will DEFINITELY want to use this because it makes these scarves budget-friendly. Don’t forget your coupons.

Head over the Fashion Flannel…at least that’s what they call it in Mishawaka (oh-la-la!). Select your favorite patterns,tell them the amount you need, have them tell you they don’t have that much on a bolt, go grab another one, try again… Be annoyed. Decide to do two sizes because you want you what you want, that’s why you brought it up there. Got it?

I am going to show you what a 2 yard scarf looks like and then I am going to show you what a 2.5 yard scarf looks like below. I love them both for different reasons and what you can do with them. The price (with no sales or coupons) is $8.99 per yard. That’s why it is great to see the two version (for cost-savings) and also really great to bring a coupon to save a bit on the fabric.

I wouldn’t recommend anything more than that or your scarf will choke you and you will die from scarf blanket suffocation. It will be all over the headlines. They will be laughing at you in those ridiculous segments on the radio where they try to shock you at the stupidity of Americans.  Your family will miss you. It would all be very tragic.

How to Make a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

1. Purchase 2-2.5 yards of flannel fabric (the flannel printing is on both sides).

2. Using the patterned flannel edge as a guide, trim the edges of each side of your scarf.

3. Grab the loose threads on the side and pull them down gently, fraying the edges of the scarf. Keep doing this until there are no loose threads and you have a beautifully frayed edge. Repeat on each side of the scarf. DONE!

How to Make a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

This is what TWO YARDS of fabric looks like. You can see that it has a lot of fullness, but is not as long or as much to tie or knot around. Do you want to see how to tie it to look like this? Okay then.

How to Tie a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

How to Tie Your Two Yard Blanket Scarf

1. Fold the scarf in half, lining the edges up evenly.

2. Make sure one end is shorter than the other and tuck it up over your shoulder.

3. Loop around once with the long end (or possibly twice depending on your neck size!).

4. Fluff and puff. Fluff and puff.

how-to-make-a-blanket-scarf-9

How to Make a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

Here is the same size, just not puffed up so much. Seriously, cute stuff!

How to Make a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

How to Tie Your 2.5 Yard Blanket Scarf

No need to reinvent the wheel…I just headed online to figure out a couple of fun ways to tie these longer blanket scarves. I tried this braided technique on Classy Sassy and really loved it. It is a little more complex than the one above, but it adds a beautiful detail to the styling.

How to Make a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

This half-tied technique couldn’t be easier and was a cinch to pull together and added just the right amount of fullness to the neckline.

How to Make a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

Here are a few other blanket scarf techniques I am looking forward to trying!

This one is similar to the half-tied technique, but no tying, just tucking. I can do that!

This chunky scarf technique would work really well with a 2-yard scarf so you could let the ends hang.

The 2.5-yard one would look great as a poncho or even pulled together with a belt.

This poncho style leaves the scarf folded making a smaller poncho version.

How to Make a Blanket Scarf from MomAdvice.com

I’m Petite & Want to Make a Smaller Version- What Can I Do?

I’m pretty petite, but I know big scarves aren’t for everyone!  Shave 6-7 inches off the width on a 2 yard version to make a more petite version of this scarf with a little less bulk or experiment with your own sizing by creating your own custom version. Just cut, try on, adjust. There are no wrong or right lengths- it is what fits YOU or your recipient best!

I hope you have a blast making these quick scarves for yourself or for holiday gift-giving. Check out this list of 54 handmade gifts you can make for the holiday season to inspire you even more! Happy crafting!

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Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

This post is sponsored by Walmart AND ALL PROCEEDS WERE DONATED.

I feel like such a lucky mom to have so many incredible women in my life. Most of these friendships started when I was a new mom still trying to figure out the ropes of motherhood.  Now my kids are growing up, but I need them as much as I did in the early days. Unfortunately, our schedules have all become so crazy that it becomes nearly impossible to get our group together anymore. I decided a few weeks ago that I really wanted to see them all before the holidays took over and we all began to hibernate for the Indiana winter. I invited them to my home for my first annual Friendsgiving feast to share in a meal together before the holidays and I couldn’t wait to share about it with you.

Let me disclose by saying that I wanted to make this as easy on myself as possible and, if you are considering hosting a feast of your own, I would advise you do the same. I wanted to do it on budget, make it as effortless as possible, and I wanted the cooking to be easy too.

Here is how I executed the world’s easiest Friendsgiving Feast and helped give to our community in the process.

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Create a Facebook Event (And Get Positive Responses)

Like I said, my friends are crazy busy and getting our group together is nearly impossible. Instead of setting up an event and shooting blindly in the dark for a date or receiving a million responses and being responsible for sorting people/dates, I utilize Doodle to schedule get togethers. Simply plug in the dates and times that will work for you and send out the link to the scheduling tool for each person to vote for the days that work best for them. Once you receive the responses you can set the date for the one that received the most positive response.

Once you have the date, it couldn’t be easier to invite your friends especially since everyone (at least in my group) is on Facebook. I just put up an event and asked that everyone respond there. It was easy to create, to monitor, and gave me an accurate headcount for making food purchases. Make sure that you set the privacy to, “Invite Only” for viewing otherwise everyone who is a friend can see a response (and might not be included- ouch!) I admit, the only time I wish I had a bigger house is when I host events like this. Believe me, Invite Only for viewers is the way to go.

Herb Roasted Turkey

You Supply the Turkey, They Supply the Fixins’

Last year I hosted my family for Thanksgiving all while photographing each and every dish for the site. This year I wanted to take an easier approach so I offered to supply the turkey, gravy, and stuffing, but requested that each person bring their own dish and a bottle of wine to share. To make sure all the categories were filled, I utilized Jooners to create a sign-up sheet for dishes. Be sure to specify what you need under the, “Needed,” box. That is where I asked for side dishes, desserts, bread, and appetizers. This will help you have a well-rounded feast and since everyone can fill in the dish they are bringing, it  helps cut down on anyone bringing the same dish.

Not only did I do store-bought stuffing and gravy, I purchased turkey breasts (here is my favorite method of preparation) instead of dealing with the bones and carving. It killed me a little bit to do this when I know I could do so much more, but this also helped me to truly enjoy the evening with my friends and allowed me to not worry about laboring over dishes and missing out on all the fun together. Not to mention the cost factor that I saved on by having everyone help me with dishes and drinks.

Decorate Store Bought Pies

Of course, there is always our make-ahead feast that gets you out of the kitchen that day altogether!  Here are my make-ahead mashed potatoes, make-ahead fresh green bean casserole, make-ahead gravy, make-ahead stuffing, make-ahead cranberry sauce, make-ahead appetizers, make-ahead rolls, make-ahead pie crust, and even some great make-ahead ways to dress up a store-bought pie… just to name a few!

Knitted Leaves Centerpiece

Invest in Smart Party Supplies That You Use Over & Over Again

Over the years we have hosted so many gatherings that I have accumulated an arsenal of tools so that I can pull a get together at a moment’s notice.  I honestly didn’t buy a thing other than disposable cups for our get together, but that is because I have invested over the years and I try to create handmade items that can double as centerpieces if I don’t have time to run out and purchase fresh flowers.

The things that I have used the most over the years:

Centerfold Table- I bought this three years ago and I use it at least three times a year. It has a handle on it and folds down the center making it easy to pack up and take it if you need to and also making it easy to store when you don’t.  I purchased this tablecloth (you can see it here in a game day party I did awhile back) because it was stain-resistant.  To save on time ironing, I just wash it and then spread it on the table the night before since it is so lightweight and dries quickly without even going through the dryer. It helps cut down on wasting time ironing and is wrinkle-free in the morning.

friendsgiving-2

Elegant Plastic Dishes- Elegance and plastic might not seem like they go together, but plastic dishes have come a long way. I hosted a shed-warming party (totally a thing!) this summer and since we had so many guests coming, I decided to buy twenty of these dishes. If you go to Walmart, you can purchase the plates individually, which is exactly what I did.  Unfortunately (but then fortunately), they didn’t have enough in a single style so I ended up getting three different styles which adds a bit of fun to the dinner table. I love that these are lightweight and can be reused over and over again.

DIY Bar Cart

Bar Cart- This summer I transformed a tool cart into a bar cart and it is truly one of my favorite entertaining tools. Since we live in a small home (which we are very committed to) we don’t have a lot of counters or surfaces to use for putting out drinks and food. My bar cart resides in my shed, but I wheel it in when I am entertaining and it offers a fun place to tuck bottles of wine and glasses.

Inexpensive Silverware- I actually hit our local restaurant supply store for inexpensive silverware that reminds me of some of my favorite diners. There is never a shortage of forks, spoons, or knives at our home.

Decor That Can Be Used Over & Over Again- I love to craft and in the back of my mind, I am always thinking how I can weave these items into our seasonal decorating especially when it comes to the holidays. For our Friendsgiving feast my Knitted Leaf Centerpiece was perfect for my table (and is on display year-round in my craft room). This winter the table will be adorned with these Yarn Pom Pom Trees that I made. Think of creating something that you can get out every year and that can save you money when entertaining.

Friendsgiving

REALLY Make it a FriendsGIVING

I have some truly generous friends so I called upon them to assist me with giving back to our community.  First, I asked each of them to take a moment to clear out their pantries so that we could make a donation to my church’s food pantry. Right before the holidays is a great time to clear some space and make room for all of those items you will need to tackle your holiday baking and dishes.

The shelter that I have helped in the past where we achieved our MomAdvice Big Give, the Elkhart Faith Mission, is a charity that I love to support. Longtime readers may recall the MomAdvice Big Give we executed with them. Here is a little throwback footage for you.

It costs a mere $.1.79 to give a Thanksgiving meal to one person at the shelter. I left an envelope out and asked if anyone felt like giving that they could donate as little as two bucks to give someone something to look forward to for the holidays.

Consider making a true FriendsGIVING experience and find a scraps of life way to give back or gather together to make care packages for the homeless.

Faith Mission of Elkhart

Each year I like to dedicate one post from Walmart to those in need and today’s post is for the families heading to Faith Mission that need a holiday dinner to look forward to.  

I understand that sponsored posts aren’t always the favorite posts here, but the proceeds from this post today and the donations I collected fed 187 PEOPLE a Thanksgiving meal and many of our posts this year gave a community of  people clean water this year.  How cool is that? Please support our sponsors because they do help many- perhaps, more than you realize! 

I hope my Friendsgiving inspires you to give back to your community and to throw a get together with your own amazing friends!

Have you ever hosted a Friendsgiving? Any tips or tricks you would like to share!

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Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

As part of the BHG Live Better Network, I am partnering with them this month to showcase a beautiful way to entertain for the holidays utilizing products from BHG that are available at Walmart.  Have you seen the woodland creatures line of dishes? Swoon- I am IN LOVE. These items are over in the seasonal display section of your store.  As someone who couldn’t be fonder of foxes or owls, I was so excited to see these beautiful dishes at the store and most of these items are under $3 each- what a fun way to dress up your table.

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

I used my basic white dishes as I do for every holiday and keep things economical by adding a fun design to my salad plates for the holidays each year. These owl plates are so sweet and add a little pop of color to my table. A natural table runner like this one helps add texture to my table and I used owl mugs to hold our forks and spoons for our dinner. The foxy salt and pepper shakers add a little woodland whimsy to round out the table.

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas I used driftwood log cuts from our craft store to add different dimensions to the table, added a jar of branches from our backyard, and then added my DIY thumbtack pumpkins to finish the table.

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Crisp napkins made of stain resistant fabric are always top on my holiday shopping list for replacing each year. I found these over in the clearance section priced at a mere $1 each. I bought a package of rosemary, which adds a beautiful fragrance and a touch of green to the table, and clipped it with our free printable, “give thanks,” napkin tag and a mini clothespin.

You could also tie these napkins with a little jute twine and then clip the rosemary and, “gather together,” napkin tags to them, placing these on top of your owl plates. Print out all one variety of tag or use them both, alternating them at the place settings.

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Even with my burlap runner, this entire table setting (minus my white dishes) costs just a little over $30 for everything. I love an affordable touch and really love these trendy pieces that BHG is offering this year for the Thanksgiving table. These would also be adorable for a kid’s table for the holidays!

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

We also have these beautiful woodland printables that you can print and hang in your kitchen or foyer to welcome your guests to match with the rest of our beautiful printable offerings this year! To help your guest feel warmly welcomed, my amazing designer & contributor, Sarah Milne with sarah m style, has created these amazing printables that you can share with your guests for Thanksgiving Day.

Grab Your FREE Woodland Creature Printables:

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

DOWNLOAD HERE

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

DOWNLOAD HERE

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

DOWNLOAD HERE

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

DOWNLOAD HERE

Catch up on my other projects with BHG at Walmart:

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (Free Guest Room Printables)

BHG Live Better Style Showcase

BHG Live Better Network

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

DIY Decorative Thumbtack Pumpkins

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

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I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for new ways to decorate the holiday table that are festive while staying easy on the budget. The gold trend has really been catching my eye this year so I wanted to create something beautiful and gold that anyone can do, no matter what your craft level. Today’s tutorial is for a decorative thumbtack pumpkin that requires just two items for a fun and festive touch to your table.

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog to learn how to make these easy ZERO CRAFTING SKILLS REQUIRED DIY Gold Thumbtack Pumpkins!

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Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Some people lean towards the spooky decorating for Halloween. This girl leans towards a more classic look from dressing up my front door for the season to the small nod to autumn through our home decor. I have loved our knitted leaf centerpiece so much that I thought it would be fun to add some knitted pumpkins to the mix this year. Since Walmart challenged me to take on a Halloween craft, I thought it would be the perfect time to try something new. Not only are these a knitted stuffed item (something new for me), but they are also felted.

Before you run away, I was SO scared of felting that I have thought about felting for years and never tried it. Seriously, folks, could NOT be easier.

This project is super fast to create and will get lots of love in your home as a fun addition to a bookcase, a cute centerpiece for a Halloween party, or could even make a place card holder for the Thanksgiving table.

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Supplies List

4- US Size 11 double pointed needles (I prefer bamboo for their gripping ability in this project)

4- US Size 6 double pointed needles

Natural Fiber Yarn (any color) that will shrink (Walmart offers this inexpensive option for wool)

Poly-fill Stuffing (something like this)

Free Miniature Felted Pumpkin Pattern FOR FREE HERE

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Skills Needed to Tackle This Project

You need to be able to knit in the round- This is much easier than knitting a hat and can teach you how to increase and decrease your stitches.  If you have never knitted in the round before, check out this picture tutorial that I created to help you navigate the tricky terrain of 4 needles.  You will need to be able to knit both the body and the stem in the round. I actually find the stem to be more difficult due to its size.

You need to be able to i-cord- The first time I i-corded, I was like…”That’s it?” Seriously, it sounds complex, but it is just moving your stitches back and forth on a double-pointed needle. This is a fantastic video tutorial if you are trying to get the hang of it.

You need to be able to felt- Again, this one was a new one for me, but the pattern I shared offers some great tips for felting. I will note below how I did this in my front-loader.

 

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Words from a First-Time Felter

As you can see, wool shrinks up beautifully. I wanted to still have a little bit of stitching showing, but you can continue to shrink your piece if you want it to be completely smooth. For these pumpkins, I knitted them loosely (advice given by my wise knitting pal, Deb) so that the stitches would shrink well. For my front-loader, I placed these in the washing machine with two pairs of my jeans to help create agitation and friction on the yarn. I used the Whitest White cycle (which is the hottest cycle on my machine) and let the machine decide the level of water.  For detergent, I just used a small amount of Woolite (or you can use Eucalan Woolwash). To replicate this, I just ran the cycle for ten minutes and then hit cancel.  I then ran a spin & drain cycle just for a few minutes to get rid of the excess water and then stuffed my pumpkins while they were still damp.

You can read more about felting in the pattern above.

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

 

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Aren’t they adorable? Feel free to friend me on Ravelry and visit the Knitting section of our site for more cute yarn-lovin’ projects!

 

Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Check out my Knitted Princess Leia Hat, fun ideas for DIY Halloween Costumes, paint up some Chalkboard Pumpkin People, make pumpkins out of duct tape, throw some pumpkin chili in your slow cooker on Halloween night, and whip up some glow-in-the-dark JELL-O for dessert!  Happiest of Halloweens, friends!

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