A Simple Silhouette

felt bird napkin ring craft how to easter place setting entertaining ideas

While a simple silohouette can get you kicked off of Lifetime’s Project Runway, using that of a small bird is a creative way to add some spring festivity to your Easter place setting.  Start with robin’s egg blue cotton placemats (a steal at BigLots for $0.50 each!), pair with natural-colored linen hemstitch napkins (see my other post for another place setting using these napkins), and add chocolate brown felt birds perched atop paper-wrapped wire napkin rings.   Paper Source provides a printable bird silhouette that, with some adaptation, is perfect for this project.

bird napkin ring craft felt paper wrapped wire how to easter ideas place setting

Here’s what you need:

  • Brown felt
  • paper-wrapped wire
  • wire cutters and jewelery making pliers
  • sewing machine and contrasting thread (I used white)
  • glue gun and glue sticks

Here’s what you do:

  1. Print a copy of the bird silhouette and cut out.  I removed the legs and branch for ease of sewing.
  2. Fold felt and pin paper bird to felt, cutting out two birds at once.

    bird napkin ring craft felt paper wrapped wire how to easter ideas place setting

  3. Sew the pieces of felt together, trying to follow the shape of the bird as closely as you can.  Clip loose threads.
  4. Take two wires and twist them together.  Repeat with another two wires.
  5. Twist the doubled wires together, then form a ring.

    bird napkin ring craft felt paper wrapped wire how to easter ideas place setting

  6. Use wire cutters to clip to desired length. Remove any sharp edges and use jeweler’s pliers to bend free ends. You should be able to make two napkin rings from each braided strand.
  7. Use hot glue gun to secure felt bird to napkin ring, making sure to cover area where ends of wire came together.

    bird napkin ring craft felt paper wrapped wire how to easter ideas place setting

Tips: Eco-Fi brown felt was purchased at Joann’s in the remnants section for 50% off – I always peruse this bin and pick up whatever I think I might use for future projects – it is an abundant resource!  I only used an 8×10 piece for this project, so I have leftover felt for future projects.  Paper-wrapped wires can also be found at your local craft store.  I happened to have some in my crafting stash from my sister-in-law’s wedding – they were used to create inexpensive, artificial monkey tails for flower arrangements…I kept them because I knew I could use them for some type of craft project! Always keep stuff that has creative potential!

bird napkin ring craft felt paper wrapped wire how to easter ideas place setting

An Eggs-quisite Easter

robin's egg blue easter decorations speckled egg tree tuesday morning crafts

I’ve always loved the robin’s egg blue, earthy brown and soft yellow speckled eggs you can find in the stores this time of year.  This Easter, I designed my decorations around these inspiring little symbols of the season and incorporated natural elements, like fresh willow branches and wheatgrass,  to capture the spirit of spring renewal.  Here are a couple of inexpensive and easy centerpieces ideas for your special gathering.

Egg Tree

easter egg tree centerpiece craft robin's egg blue milk glass vase decoration

Here’s what you need:

  • one bunch of pussy willow branches
  • tall vase
  • one package of speckled eggs

Here’s what you do:

Clip your branches to the proper height for your vase, removing any buds that would fall below the level of the water in your vase.  Artistically arrange your eggs along the branches.

egg hunt centerpiece easter decoration entertaining ideas wheatgrass galvanized metal planter

I found the pussy willow branches at Von’s for $4.99, the vintage milk glass vase is from a thrift store and the high quality speckled eggs (which are also used in the centerpiece below) were purchased at Tuesday Morning for $4.99 for 12 eggs (you can also easily find these at your local Michael’s or Joann’s craft stores).

Egg Hunt Centerpiece

egg hunt centerpiece easter decoration entertaining ideas wheatgrass galvanized metal planter

Here’s what you need:

  • two galvanized metal trays
  • six small pots of wheatgrass
  • one package of speckled eggs

Here’s what you do:

Place 3 wheatgrass plants into each galvanized planter.  Artistically arrange eggs among the blades of grass – I used a zigzag pattern with 4 eggs.

egg hunt centerpiece easter decoration entertaining ideas wheatgrass galvanized metal planter

I purchased my 13×4.5×5.5 galvanized metal planters from Joann’s on a 50% off sale for $3.99 each and found the wheatgrass at my local farmer’s market for $0.99 each.

Tips: Instead of purchasing your eggs pre-strung and pre-painted, you could make your own and it would probably be cheaper, just more time consuming and messy!

Stout Decadence

bon appetit chocolate stout cake st. patricks day dessert recipes ideas

Since my Lime-Pistachio Tart last year was such an ordeal, I decided I wanted to make a different dessert for St. Patty’s Day dinner this year.  I still wanted the same decadence since the main meal is so simple and decided to go the chocolate route.  Bon Appetit Magazine published a recipe for a Chocolate Stout Cake in 2002 that has gotten rave reader reviews on epicurious.com (one of my go-to websites for culinary inspiration), so this one was a no-brainer.  I adapted the recipe to use a bundt pan, and instead of their icing, I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for Chocolate Ganache Glaze.  Serve each slice with a dollop of  french vanilla ice cream and some Bailey’s infused coffee and you’ve got a fabulous ending to a great meal!



  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream


  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

bon appetit chocolate stout cake st. patricks day dessert recipes ideas



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a bundt pan.
  2. Bring stout and butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
  5. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine.
  6. Add flour mixture in 3 parts and beat on slow speed until just incorporated after each addition.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely.


  1. Place chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
  2. Using a flexible spatula, gently stir chocolate and cream until totally combined; begin near the center of the bowl and gradually work your way toward the edge, pulling in as much chocolate as possible, until the mixture is smooth and glossy. (If any chocolate pieces remain, strain mixture through a fine sieve and discard solids.) If not using immediately, glaze can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container. Reheat gently before using.
  3. Pour glaze into a container with a spout (like a Pyrex liquid measuring cup) and generously drizzle over cake.

This recipe creates a moist and dense cake with an incredibly rich and chocolatey glaze.  It will be my go-to recipe for chocolate cakes in the future, St. Patty’s Day or not!

The Leprechaun Made Me Do It

st. patrick's day table setting decoration ideas leprechaun hat napkin ring green linen napkins

I was inspired to create a new table setting for St. Patrick’s Day this year by the looks of a leprechaun hat.  Notions normally used to create belts were fashioned into napkin rings and linen napkins in the perfect kelly green were sewn up in a jiffy.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 yard of Dritz black woven belt material
  • six Dritz gold fashion buckles
  • black thread and needle
  • 1 2/3 yards kelly green linen fabric (Joann’s)
  • kelly green thread
  • sewing machine and pins
  • ruler and scissors

st. patrick's day table setting decoration ideas leprechaun hat napkin ring green linen napkins

For the napkin rings:

  1. Cut belt material into 5.25 inch pieces.
  2. Thread a gold buckle onto each piece of belt material.
  3. Overlap ends of belt material by 1/4 inch and use needle and black thread to sew together.
  4. Cost: $11 for 6 napkin rings

st. patrick's day table setting decoration ideas leprechaun hat napkin ring green linen napkins

For the napkins:

  1. Iron material, then cut fabric into 19×19 inch squares.
  2. Fold over 1/2 inch of material at edge, tucking free edge underneath for a clean seam.  Pin and sew two opposite edges, then repeat for the remaining two.
  3. Cost: $7 for 6 napkins

Tips: This week at Joann’s was Coupon Commotion, where you can use multiple coupons in a single transaction.  I was able to get my gold belt buckles and belt material for 40% off, and my single cut of by-the-yard fabric for 50% off.  Gold chargers and plain black placemats were in my entertaining stash already and were originally purchased at BigLots for cheap, cheap!

A Feast Fit for an Irishman

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the easiest and least expensive holidays to entertain for.  You could pull a Martha and brine your own corned beef, or you can take advantage of the grocery store sales and make your life a lot easier, but equally delicious! Here is a past menu we’ve served for our guests:

corned beef with cabbage, potatoes and carrots

st. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas

  • package of corned beef from you local grocer
  • 1.5 heads of cabbage, each head cut into 6 wedges
  • large package of baby carrots (for ease!)
  • 1 lb red potatoes, scrubbed and halved

Cook corned beef according to package instructions, adding vegetables toward the end of braising, cooking until tender.

homemade irish soda bread

st. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas irish soda bread

A bit of effort, but this bread really makes the meal! (for a detailed tutorial, please click here):

  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup caraway seeds
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) raisins
  • Salted butter, preferably Irish, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix milk and vinegar in a small bowl, and let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in unsalted butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add bran, caraway seeds, and raisins; stir to distribute.
  3. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture; stir until dough just holds together but is still sticky. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat and press the dough gently into a round, dome-shaped loaf, about 7 inches in diameter. Transfer to prepared sheet.
  4. Lightly dust top of loaf with flour. With a sharp knife, cut an X into the top, 3/4 inch deep. Bake, rotating halfway through, until loaf is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Soda bread is best eaten the day it is made; serve with salted butter.

tossed butter lettuce and watercress salad with mustard viniagrette

st. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas salad

(adapted from Martha Stewart):

  • 8 oz fresh green beans, trimmed and blanched
  • pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch (6 ounces) watercress
  • 2 packages of butter lettuce
  • 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with pepper.  Toss with salad and serve.

green beer and black and tans

st. patrick's day party menu entertaining ideas green beerst. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas

Easiest party drinks ever!  Use your favorite American brew (I think we used Bud Light) and add food coloring for the green beer.  For the Black and Tans,  fill a glass halfway with Bass Ale, then add Guinness by pouring it slowly over an upside-down tablespoon placed over the glass, being careful not to mix the layers.

Lime-Pistachio Tart

st. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas lime cheesecake dessert

While this is a gorgeous dessert, I am not posting the recipe because it was a true pain in the arse to make.  For starters, you have to start making the components 2-3 days prior to serving it and heaven help you if you’ve never made homemade lime curd!  Do yourself a favor, if you want to try this recipe, don’t make the curd yourself.  Stop by your nearest Harry and David store and purchase a couple of their premade jars.  You a.) won’t smell like egg yolk after 3 days in the kitchen and b.) will feel a lot better about eating your creation not knowing what goes into making curd!  That said, this is a quite delicious and decadent dessert and a fabulous ending to a simple meal.

Krafty Favor Bags

brown paper lunch sack craft favor bag baby shower ideas

Need a cute, easy and inexpensive way to say thanks to your shower guests?  Generic brown paper lunch sacks transform into chic favor bags with the help of a little ribbon, rubber stamping and decorative cutting.  You could build on these in a number of ways – using white paper sacks with jute twine, or yarn for ribbon would also be cute.  Get creative!

Here’s what you need:

brown paper lunch sack craft favor bag baby shower ideasbrown paper lunch sack craft favor bag baby shower ideas

  • 1 package brown paper lunch bags
  • pinking shears or other decorative scissors
  • ruler and scissors (or a Fiskars Paper trimmer)
  • hole punch
  • decorative ribbon
  • rubber stamps and stamp pad
  • gel pen
  • decorative ribbon

Here’s what you do:

brown paper lunch sack craft favor bag baby shower ideasbrown paper lunch sack craft favor bag baby shower ideas

  1. Trim bags to 7 inches tall.
  2. Measure 5 inches up from bottom and fold over flap to make a 5×5 square.
  3. Use pinking shears to trim cut edge.
  4. Use hole punch to create holes for ribbon.  To create uniform placement, I placed the hole punch midway between the cut edge and the fold, and moved it inward until it stopped.
  5. Thread ribbon through holes.
  6. Write “thank you” near bottom edge of sack with your gel pen.
  7. Rubber stamp your image onto bag.

Tips: I purchased my paper sacks at the 99 cent store and the decorative ribbon at Michael’s for 3 spools for $1.  I had my hole punch, decorative scissors, and gel pen in my armamentarium already, but look for these items in the office supply section at the dollar stores, as well. Use your Michael’s coupons or make sure you shop the sales for the more expensive materials like the rubber stamp and stamp pad.  Each was purchased for 40% off retail.

Crafting with Remnants

Have leftover scraps from your bunting project?  Check out this thrifty way to make your fabrics do double duty as a festive background for signs you might need at your party.  Without the letters, these textured fabric “pictures” would make beautifully simple wall decorations in your own home. Craft on!

party decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture sign

Here’s what you need:

99 cent store craft ideas fabric frame party decoration sign

  • inexpensive frames
  • exacto knife
  • coordinating cardstock
  • omnigrid and rotary cutting mat (or a basic ruler and scissors)
  • glue stick
  • leftover fabric
  • tape or some type of adhesive
  • decorative, dimensional stickers

Here’s what you do:

1. Flip over your frame and use your exacto knife to remove the kraft paper backing from frame.

party decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture signparty decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture sign

2. Remove everything from frame and separate into individual parts – glass, matting, picture, frame and backing.

3. Remove original picture and use tape to secure fabric piece to mat, as shown.

party decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture signparty decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture sign

4. Measure and cut a piece of cardstock to cover original matting.  I used a Olfa rotary cutter and mat and an Omingrid because I have them on hand, but a ruler and scissors would also work well.

5. Glue cardstock mat to original mat.

party decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture signparty decoration 99 cent store crafts fabric picture sign

6. Put your frame back together, omitting the glass plate.

7. Use letter stickers to create your signs.

I have a square motif going with the baby shower and wanted to continue that with my signage. I found my inexpensive frames at the 99 cent store, colorful cardstock from my local Joann’s and my dimensional stickers (called “thickers” – how cute is that?) from Tuesday Morning (my inexpensive craft supply mecca!).

99 cent store crafts fabric frames party decoration sign

Total cost of the project: $4 for two, coordinating signs!

A Bunting We Will Make

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

When I first set out to make decorations for an upcoming baby shower, I had no idea that what I wanted for decoration was called a bunting.  So first, a definition:

bunt·ing 1 (bntng)


  1. A light cotton or woolen cloth used for making flags.
  2. Flags considered as a group.
  3. Strips of cloth or material usually in the colors of the national flag, used especially as drapery or streamers for festive decoration.

The couple is having a girl, and I chose my color scheme based on a home decorating textile found at Joann’s – a modern floral with bright and muted yellows and pinks, lemongrass green and a rich, chocolate brown.

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

Many of the examples of buntings I’d seen were chevron-shaped, but I’ve always been in love with the simple, modern shape of a square.  I cut 6″ x 6″ squares, adding a 1/2″ seam allowance on one side for attaching to a strand of jute twine.  Strung along the wall of an indoor or outdoor area, this decoration gives a festive burst of color, perfect for celebrations.  It also would make a beautiful nursery decoration if shortened, and strung with ribbon instead of twine.

Here’s what you need:

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

  • 1/3 yd each of six different fabrics (yardage needed will depend on space you are decorating – mine was large.  If you are wanting to make something small, do 1/6 of a yard for each)
  • rotary cutter, rotary mat and Omnigrip (wonderful if you are a quilter and have these already, otherwise use a ruler and scissors)
  • jute twine
  • Stitch Witchery by Dritz
  • iron & ironing board

Here’s what you do:

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decorationhow to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

  1. Use your rotary cutter, mat and quilting ruler (or scissors and ruler) to cut 6.5′ x 6″ squares out of your fabrics.  This is done extremely fast and precise with a rotary cutter and mat, so I’d invest in these tools  if you work with fabrics a lot!
  2. Choose a sequence for hanging your squares.  I gave mine a bit of variety by shifting the position of  the inspiration print throughout the sequence.
  3. Attach squares to jute twine, tearing off approximately 6″ pieces of your stitch witchery as you go, and spacing the squares 3″ apart.  To get uniform spacing, cut a business card to a 3″ length and use as a guide to mark placement of your next square – fast and easy!
  4. Hang and admire your craftiness!

how to make square fabric bunting craft party decoration

Tips: Buy fabric on sale, or better yet, shop only the clearance fabrics!  Joann’s was having an extra 50% off clearance fabrics sale that I took advantage of – the inspiration fabric was the only one not on clearance, but it was still 40% off! And don’t forget to check the remnants section – there’s usually some pretty great stuff in there that is less than a yard and 50% off the current sticker price. Stitch Witchery can be found at your local craft or hobby store, as well as places like Walmart.  Jute twine was purchased at the Dollar Tree.  Always remember, shop sales, discount stores and use coupons!

Cost: $10 for a VERY long bunting!
When I first set out to make decorations for an upcoming baby shower, I had no idea that what I wanted for decoration was called a bunting.  First, a definition:

Warm That Winter Chill

I haven’t posted a recipe lately, and with all the recent rain and cold weather, I thought a warming weeknight chili would be a perfect addition.  This is a recipe I found in Cooking Light Magazine a few years back and one that I make at least once a month during the colder months.  It is quick, easy and incredibly flavorful considering it only takes 20 minutes to make!  Best of all, it is made with pantry staples and readily available fresh ingredients.  Don’t forget to bake some cornbread and serve with honey butter.  Yum!

Here’s what you need:

cooking light twenty minute chili recipe

  • 1  tablespoon canola oil
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 3/4  cup  chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2  pound  ground turkey breast
  • 1  tablespoon  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1  (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes with jalapeño peppers and spices, undrained
  • 1  (5.5-ounce) can tomato juice

Here’s what you do:

Heat oil in a large dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and turkey, and cook 3 minutes or until done, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder and the next 8 ingredients (chili powder through tomato juice); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Serve with just-from-the-oven cornbread with honey butter.  Serves 4. Double the recipe and bring it to your next lunchtime potluck!

cooking light twenty minute chili recipe

The original recipe can be found here and includes the addition of cheese and rice.

Money Saving Tips: Purchase ground turkey on sale – I usually try to buy in bulk when it is $1.99/lb or less, then split into 1/2 lb portions and freeze for later use.  Whenever I’m at BigLots, I’ll pick up a can of Rotel tomatoes so I have it on hand for this recipe; V-8 is also inexpensive at BigLots.  And as always, best prices on spices are found at your discount stores – BigLots, Dollar Tree and 99 cent stores.

A Fine Liner

One of the most important tenets of shopping at thrift stores is keeping an open mind.  I always try to look at found objects as having a certain amount of craft potential – whether or not I realize immediately what that potential is, is a different story!  Most times, I get my findings home and they sit for a while until inspiration strikes me.

Such is the case with this yellow floral retro shelving paper I picked up on a recent trip.  I wasn’t quite sure what I’d use it for, but loved the vintage look of it, and at $1.99 a roll, I figured I’d eventually make something out of it!

jute twine cardstock photo bunting party decoration

Well, along came a baby shower for a friend of mine that needs some decor help.  The cheery yellow floral of the shelving paper makes it’s craft project debut as a decorative facing for clothespins, used to secure cardstock-mounted baby pictures of the couple to a twine strand.

It is a modern co-ed shower, so I wanted to stay away from pastels and give it more of a fresh and bright feel.  The couple is having a girl, and while pinks aren’t always desirable, I found a contemporary fabric at Joann’s that incorporates pinks, greens, oranges, yellows and browns and used it as inspiration for a color scheme (be sure to watch for a future post on a fabric bunting made with the inspiration fabric). I chose cardstock based on the inspiration fabric and added charming little clip-art tracings (that I got for free from Microsoft Word!), drawn with a white gel pen on natural butcher paper for some added whimsy.

twine cardstock photo strand craft

Here’s what you need:

  • jute twine
  • 12×12 cardstock sheets
  • color copies of old pictures
  • glue stick
  • white gel pen
  • natural butcher paper (I buy mine at the 99 cent store)
  • enlarged copies of clip art and a nice bright window (free!)
  • rounded corner punch (optional)
  • clothespins (purchased at Walmart for $1)
  • cardstock or some type of material for covering clothespins ( I used shelving paper)
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors
  • paper trimmer (or use a ruler and scissors)

Here’s what you do:

twine cardstock photo strand crafttwine cardstock photo strand crafttwine cardstock photo strand crafttwine cardstock photo strand crafttwine cardstock photo strand craft

  1. Use your paper trimmer to divide your 12×12 cardstock into six 4×6 rectangles.
  2. Use your rounded corner punch (optional) to round the corners of your 4×6 cards.
  3. Measure the height of your clothespin, cut a long strip of shelving paper approximating the height and use your trimmer to trim to the proper height, then cut your strip into same-width pieces.  My finished pieces were 3″ x 7/16″
  4. Use your hot glue gun to secure the strips of paper to the clothespins.
  5. Use a window on a sunny day to trace your clip art onto the butcher paper with a gel pen.  Loosely cut around tracings.
  6. Secure photo to cardstock and arrange clip art tracings artistically. (Note : my tracings are not fully glued down in these photos but they should be)
  7. Use covered clothespins to secure cardstock-mounted photos to strung twine.

twine cardstock photo strand craft

Note: I purchased my Fiskars paper trimmer a few years back from Michaels with a 40% off coupon.  I use it all the time for my paper projects and think it is an integral part of my crafting armamentarium – just make sure to buy one on sale! Cardstock often goes on either 4 or 5 for $1 sales at both Michael’s and Joann’s – stock up at these sales instead of purchasing them at $0.59 per sheet! And finally, I always purchase my jute twine, glue sticks and butcher paper (found in the office section) at either the Dollar Tree, 99 cent Store or Big Lots for $1 each.

got milk glass?

milk glass vase thrifty cheap decoration  decor flowers

Decorating with the pristine, pure white of milk glass is a refreshingly simple way to add some brightness to your home in the new year.  And the best part?  The vintage pieces are readily found at second-hand stores, which makes for a very thrifty decoration, indeed!  Cheery florals, like bright pink mini carnations clustered en masse,  provide a striking contrast with the chalky white and are a favorite of mine for bringing a splash of color into the home.

milk glass vase thrifty cheap decoration flowers decor

Hosting tip: Use this combination for a more modern twist on an upcoming bridal or baby shower, utilizing other brights like orange tulips, yellow ranunculus and lime green mums – each color in a different vessel – for a striking, yet simple, look.

New Year, new purpose

burlap sack seat cushion cover craft

While out thrifting one day, I came across these jute burlap sacks, whose original purpose, I’m guessing,  was probably in agricultural bagging.  When I spotted them, I had no idea what I would do with them, but they were only $1 each and I knew they, or simply their material, would come in handy somehow, somewhere!

As it turns out, I was planning for an outdoor dinner party later that weekend.  I got the bags home and took a look at my patio chair Sunbrella seat cushions, which are roughly square.   How easy would it be to simply slip a seat cushion into a burlap bag, fold the excess end under and  – voila! – instant cushion makeover!  Turns out, the width of the bag was a perfect fit for the width and depth of the seat cushion  – the only excess that remained was at one end, which I neatly folded under.

burlap sack seat cushion cover craft

No sewing or cutting neccessary!  And the best part, when you want to go back to your original cushions, simply slip it off and use your burlap for another thrifty craft!

Cost: $4 for 4 burlap bags (19.5″ x 35″)

O (tabletop) Christmas Tree

This time of year holiday catalogs fill our mailboxes.  Unfortunately for a lot of us, decking the house for the holidays with gorgeous items from Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel and Williams- Sonoma just isn’t feasible.  What I try to do every year is browse through the catalogs and get inspired to create my own decorations and replicate the store’s classic style for much less than retail!

west elm david stark twine wrapped tree craft

Twine Wrapped Tree

If you browse through my other posts, you’ll see that I love to decorate with twine by wrapping it around things.  I love the texture it creates and the organic look of it.  Recently, I was flipping through a West Elm catalog and saw these modern trees (above) and thought, what a great thrifty craft!  And can be made for SO much less than the sticker price!

What you need:

  • craft spray glue
  • newspaper
  • styrofoam tree form
  • jute twine
  • hot glue gun

west elm twine wrapped tree christmas craft

Here’s what you do:

  1. Create a workspace with newspaper.
  2. Secure twine to the top of tree with a spot of hot glue.
  3. Apply spray glue in 2-3 inch sections and wrap twine around form of tree, making sure twine is taut and avoiding gaps between wraps.
  4. Finish by securing twine to bottom edge with hot glue.

Note: It is important to start wrapping from the top of the tree, as wrapping from a larger to smaller diameter direction can be frustrating – the twine will want to roll toward the smaller diameter area.  So, start from the top!

west elm twine wrapped tree christmas craft

Cost: $5! Twine was purchased from the 99 cent store and the styrofoam tree was purchased at Michael’s with a 40% off coupon for $4.  That’s a savings of $45 from the West Elm retail!

Red Berry Tree Topiaries

red berry tree tabletop tree topiary craft

Decorating with red berries during the holidays is one of my favorite looks.  Unfortunately, good quality topiaries can be hard to find, especially if you like to shop the after Christmas sales for your holiday decorations – oftentimes, berries are missing, chipped or scratched. Here’s a way to have a beautiful topiary, on the cheap, with little effort! Comparable topiaries (like the one on the left) can be found at Target for up to $29 per tree!

What you need:

  • wire cutters
  • tree topiaries
  • red berry picks
  • silver (or gold) spray paint
  • bright green reindeer moss
  • terra cotta pots
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks

red berry christmas tree topiary craftred berry christmas tree topiary craft

Here’s what you do:

  1. Use wire cutters to remove berries from their stems. Make sure to save one berry with a 3/4 inch of stem for the top of the tree.
  2. Place sole berry with stem in top of tree, leaving 1/3-1/2 of an inch visible.
  3. Secure first layer of berries below top berry with hot glue, making sure to place them as close together as possible, eliminating as much of the background as you can.
  4. In sections, starting at the edge of your most recently placed berries and working outward, cover rest of the tree with berries.
  5. Spread newspaper to create a large workspace.
  6. Use spray paint to coat terra cotta pots, using short strokes and spraying another layer (after first coat dries) until pot has a uniform coating.  Make sure to flip the pots after waiting for them to dry and spray the upper rim.
  7. Place berried topiary in newly painted, dry pot.
  8. Attach reindeer moss with hot glue in sections to exposed areas of base.
  9. Display and enjoy!

Cost: less than $10 per tree,  not bad! AND you have leftover silver spray paint for other holiday projects!

red berry christmas tree topiary craft

Tip: Michaels has wonderful sales throughout the month of December – most things holiday are often 40 -60% off!  I purchased my red berries at a 50% off sale, so each pick was only $0.49 (I used 17 picks total for two trees).  Spray paint and pots were cheapest at Home Depot – only $5 for everything.  An even less expensive, and less time consuming, way to do it would be to find silver pots that you like at discount stores like the Dollar Tree or 99 cent store.  And don’t forget your 40% off mailer coupons at Michaels for things that aren’t on sale!  My reindeer moss (which is the same color and look of the stuff they’re selling at Pottery Barn for $14 per bag!) was only $3 with my coupon.  Thrift and discount stores (like Tuesday Morning) are also wonderful places to find craft materials for pennies on the dollar – I actually found my topiaries at a thrift store for $1.99 each!

Deck Your Halls with Simple Crafts!

apothecray jar glass ornaments craft

If you check out my Fall crafts posting, you’ll see that I love decorating with this apothecary jar!  It is such a great vessel for displaying pretty things and decorating with it is so simple! No instructions needed, simply fill and display!

What you’ll need:

  • glass apothecary jar
  • small, shiny, glass ornaments

Cost: $3 (+ cost of your reusable, versatile jar – mine was purchased at Ross for ~$8)

pinecones in glass bowl decorating craft

Everyone should have some type of decorative glass bowl in their decorating armamentarium.  Like the apothecray jar craft above, there is nothing easier than filling the vessel with simple and pretty things, like pinecones during the holidays.  Try to look for bags of pinecones in which some are spray painted gold or silver (or do it yourself!) for a more festive touch.

What you’ll need:

  • decorative glass bowl
  • cinnamon scented pinecones

Cost: $2! (+ cost of your reusable, decorative glass bowl – ours was a wedding gift and is from Crate and Barrel)

tree cuttings vase filler craft

Any vase of flowers can have a lovely holiday feel by adding one simple flourish – cuttings from your newly purchased Christmas tree!  Don’t throw those extra branches away when you trim your tree!

What you’ll need:

  • flowers
  • vase
  • cuttings from your tree

Cost: Free! (+ cost of your fresh flowers, of course!)

carnation bouquet christmas craft vellum wrapped vase

I saw a similar vellum-wrapped vase a few years ago in a Martha Stewart Magazine.  While she used gorgeous amaryllis to fill her vase, I opted for a flower that is less expensive and easier to find.   Here, I clustered mini white carnations and large red ones to create a lush focal point for my end table.

What you’ll need:

  • red & white flowers
  • tall, cylindrical glass vase
  • 1 sheet of 12×12 white vellum
  • red embroidery thread
  • vellum tape

Here’s what you do:

  1. Stand vellum paper against vase to determine proper height.  Cut.
  2. Apply vellum tape to one edge of vellum paper and secure to glass, wrap vellum around vase, and secure free edge with vellum tape, overlapping edges slightly.
  3. Find middle of string and, starting from the base of the vase,  wrap string around and up the vase, keeping thread taut and criss-crossing as pictured.  Use vellum tape to secure free edges of thread at lip of vase.
  4. Arrange cut flowers in vase and enjoy!

Fall in Love with Fall

pottery barn vase filler craft projects

Its that time of year again when everywhere you look, the rich colors of autumn abound….if you live anywhere but Southern California, that is!  Unfortunately for us, palm trees stay green and lawns aren’t littered with gorgeous crimson,  rust or gold falling leaves.  So, what’s a girl to do to bring in the fall season?  Get crafting, that’s what!

After last holiday season, I picked up some clearance items from Pottery Barn in preparation for decorating this year.  Among my finds were life-like acorns and preserved leaves in gorgeous hues for only $2.97 a box!  There is so much you can do with these simple vase fillers!  Here are a couple of easy projects to get those creative cogs turning.

Leaf Coasters

photo coaster project pottery barn vase filler leaves

What you need:

  • a set of photo coasters
  • preserved, or artificial, leaves
  • tweezers
  • scotch tape

Here’s what you do:

photo coaster project pottery barn vase filler leavesphoto coaster project pottery barn vase filler leaves

  1. Choose  four different leaf shapes in four different colors, selecting leaves that are comparable in size to that of your photo coaster insert.
  2. Lay your selected leaf on the cardstock insert to position.  If your leaves extend beyond the edges of the cardstock, use scotch tape to wrap the tips around and secure to the backside.
  3. Using tweezers, gently slide the cardstock into the plastic insert, being careful not to wrinkle or damage the secured leaf.

Photo coasters can be found at many stores.  These have a very simple design and were given to us as a wedding gift.  They can be found at Crate and Barrel for $20 for a set of four.

Cost: $3 (with lots of leftover leaves for other projects)!

Golden Wheat and Leaf Wreath

golden wheat grapevine wreath leaf craft

What you need:

  • grapevine wreath
  • dried wheat stems
  • preserved, or artificial, leaves
  • fall foliage craft stems for colorful accents
  • hot glue gun
  • glue sticks

golden wheat grapevine wreath leaf craft

Here’s what you do:

  1. Pre-arrange wheat and leaves to ensure full coverage of your wreath
  2. Hot glue 10-12 leaves on wreath in a scattered, yet deliberate, way, as if they fell on the wreath naturally.  You still want some of the grapevine wreath peeking through between leaves.
  3. Cut your wheat stems to half their original length for ease of insertion.
  4. Insert wheat stems into grapevine wreath horizontally, as close to 180 degrees as you can.  This ensures the wheat lays flat against the wreath and does not stick out.  Use hot glue as necessary to secure rogue wheat stems.
  5. Cut buds off of your fall foliage stems, leaving a 2-3 inch stem. Insert into wreath at various points, making sure to even out the color distribution.
  6. Turn wreath over and snip any length of wheat stem that protrudes from the back or can be readily seen.
  7. Hang and admire your handiwork!

golden wheat grapevine wreath leaf craft

Wheat was purchased at a farmers market for $2 a bunch, wreath and foliage stems were purchased at Joann’s (foliage was 70% off after Halloween!).  Remember to check for coupons for your craft stores!  I was able to use a 10% off transaction coupon the day I bought these!

Cost: $12!

Flowers with Acorns and Lentils

pottery barn vase filler acorn craft projects

What you need:

  • 5″ square vase
  • one box of acorn filler
  • few handfuls of dried lentils
  • plastic water bottle
  • Exacto knife
  • autumn colored flowers

Here’s what you do:

pottery barn vase filler craft projects pottery barn vase filler acorn craft projects

  1. Place plastic water bottle inside square vase, centering it.  Fill square vase with acorns around water bottle to determine proper height, mark.
  2. Remove plastic bottle and use Exacto knife to cut water bottle to marked height.  Smooth cut edges with scissors, if need be.
  3. Center the cut bottle in square vase again, this time filling lower 1/2 inch or so of square vase with dried lentils to stabilize plastic container.  Fill acorns around plastic bottle, making sure there are no gaps where the plastic bottle can be seen.
  4. Fill bottle with water and arrange cut flowers.

Cost: $3 + the cost of flowers

Apothecary Jars with Fallen Leaves

glass apothecary jar leaf filler craft home decoration

What you need:

  • preserved, or artificial, leaves
  • glass apothecary jar

There isn’t an easier craft than this!  Simply take a handful of leaves and place into jar, making sure to fluff them so they are not crushed.  Put on display and enjoy!

Cost: $3 + cost of apothecary jar (check discount stores for deals on these…I found mine at Ross for $5.99!)

eat, drink, and be scary!

halloween dinner party table setting

Dinner parties are a great way to get your friends together for some Halloween fun!  Setting the table with creative, handmade details will impress your guests and satisfy your own creative sweet tooth.  Here is a tablescape that incorporates the littlest pumpkins centerpiece craft and the hand dyed napkin craft as well as a simple napkin ring fashioned from chenille pipe cleaners and mini feather boas.

Here’s what you need for the Feather Napkin Rings:

  • mini feather boa
  • black pipe cleaners
  • scissors
  • ruler

feather napkin ring craftfeather napkin ring craftfeather napkin ring craftfeather napkin ring craft

In order to get the right size lumen for the napkin ring, I wrapped a pipe cleaner around an existing napkin ring and twisted it.  Then, wrap the ends of the pipe cleaner around the diameter of the chenille ring to tuck, leaving a small tail unwrapped to serve as the “glue” for the feather boa.  Cut feather boa into 8-9 inch pieces. Take a strand of feather boa and wrap around the chenille ring in the opposite direction as the tail until you reach the end, bending the pipe cleaner tail around the ends of the feather boa to secure. No glue necessary!

feather napkin ring craft

Cost: $2 for 8 napkin rings! Can’t beat that! Materials were purchased at Michael’s at the regular price of $0.99 each!

Wicked Wreaths

feather wreath Halloween craft

Add some frightful fun to your home decor this Halloween with a couple of spooktacular wreaths!

bleached moss wreath Halloween craft

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • feather picks
  • bleached moss
  • plastic spiders
  • grapevine wreath
  • styrofoam wreath
  • hot glue gun with glue sticks

For the feather wreath, arrange your feathers prior to gluing to make sure you have enough material to cover the entire face of the wreath.  When arranged, insert the individual picks into the grapevine wreath, bend the ends that stick out of the back and secure them with glue.  You can buy more picks to cover the entire wreath, but I think it looks nice with the grapevine background.

feather wreath Halloween craft

For the mossy wreath (original idea from Martha Stewart), as for the feather wreath, lay out your moss prior to gluing to ensure you have enough to cover the styrofoam completely.  Once ready, apply glue to the styrofoam in 2-3 inch sections and press moss  gently against the hot glue to secure.  Adorn the finished wreath with black plastic spiders for an extra creepy effect.

bleached moss wreath Halloween craft

Tip: Make sure to use your 40% off Michael’s coupons for purchasing the wreaths if they aren’t already on sale.  For the feather project, make sure fall accessories are on sale – these were 50% off, so in total, I only spent $6 for 12 feather picks.  The bleached moss was a clearance item at Pottery Barn that I scored for $2.97/bag.  I ended up using two bags on a 12″ styrofoam wreath.

Cost: $10 per wreath!

the littlest pumpkins

Tired of using flowers for dinner party table decor? Capture the essence of the fall season and All Hallows Eve with this creatively simple alternative.

pumpkin table decoration craft

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • low, metal trays
  • dried black beans
  • mini pumpkins, preferably in different colors

The trays I used are actually repurposed, rectangular tart pans from Williams-Sonoma which were the perfect dimension for my rectangular table.  Galvanized metal trays would also work well for a more rustic look.  Simply spread the dried beans into the bottom of the tray and place the pumpkins on top.  Using two different colors of pumpkins gives nice contrast and brings in more colors of the season.  If you want, you can glitter the pumpkins for a magical effect.

I found the dried black beans at Big Lots for a whopping $1.00 per bag.  The small pumpkins are sold at grocery stores.

Cost: less than $4 per tray (after using tart pans I already had in my cupboard)


hand dyed napkin craft

Is it me, or is the trick to shopping the discount stores weeding out all of the tacky stuff?  For people like me, who have a simple design esthetic, I don’t want ghosts embroidered on my placemats or cheesy black, orange and white plaid napkins for Halloween.  I want a simple bright orange napkin paired with a simple black placemat.  I’ll make the tablescape interesting and fun with other adornments, but as a thrifty crafter and entertainer, I think your basic table linen pieces should be able to be mixed and matched with other linens throughout the year, not just for one specific holiday. While it was relatively easy to find plain black placemats (Big Lots, $1.00 each), I had a surprisingly difficult time finding those bright orange napkins.  So, I decided to stop searching and purchased clearance bamboo colored napkins for $0.99 each and dyed them orange with good, old-fashioned RIT.

hand dyed napkin crafthand dyed napkin craft

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a large bucket
  • a wooden spoon (or some other utensil to stir the bath with)
  • a disposable containter, like a 7-11 Big Gulp cup, to mix the RIT in
  • tea kettle or large pot to boil water in
  • gloves
  • salt
  • detergent

Basically, you’ll want to follow the directions on the RIT label for best results.  There was no way in heck I was going to dye napkins in my nice All-Clad stockpot, so I used water just off of a boil to fill a plastic tub that was placed in my sink.  Make sure you dye all articles at once for the same amount of time, otherwise discrepancies in color will occur.

hand dyed napkin craft

Cost: $9 for 6 napkins

Creepy Candy

Need a crafty and inexpensive way to hold all that candy for the trick or treaters?  Try this super easy project to add a little spook to your serving bowl.

Here’s what you’ll need:

halloween candy bowl craft

  • craft spider web
  • wire fruit bowl (this one purchased from Target for the REGULAR price of $2.49!)
  • lotsa candy!

Any type of basket that has natural catches would work well for this project.  Even if your vessel doesn’t have ideal roughness, you can always use Zots to adhere the web to the bowl.  Spread out your webbing, and starting on the bottom of the bowl, use Zots or photo mounting squares to tack down your starting point.  Delicately thread the webbing through and around the wires of your bowl in a non-symmetrical, almost haphazard way, tacking to the bottom of the bowl as needed when you want to change direction.  Finish by tacking to the bottom of the bowl where you started (this doesn’t have to be pretty – no one will ever see the bottom!).

halloween candy bowl craft

Eh, voila!  A cute, easy and festive way to pass out candy this Halloween, with a reusable bowl, to boot!

Cost: less than $4!