Making: Quick Folded Flowers

Continuing with the flower theme of yesterday's 12 Months of Martha project, I wanted to share a method I stumbled across for making quick and easy paper flowers. I love how you can make a bunch all at once! I happened to see an all-white version of these while passing a Fossil storefront -- they looked whimsy and dimensional at first glance, but up close you could tell they were made using basic origami folds. I knew I had to try them out, so I snapped a photo and Q helped me come up with a similar version.

Even though they were easier than any paper flowers I've tried before, ours still required boring steps like marking specific angles with a protractor, etc. But realizing the 60 degree angles were key (thanks to Q), I did a more specific google search and found this method that goes even quicker (no protractor!). I tried to highlight how simple the folds are below:

-Paper & scissors
-Brads (for holding layers together)
-Pom-pom stickers (for the stamen)
-Leaf ribbon (for creating a garland)

1. Fold & unfold a square piece of paper in half both directions to make light crease lines. Refold in half just from top to bottom.
2. Fold left side down to right, forming an approximate 60 degree angle line from the top center crease.
3. Next, fold right side down over left at another 60 degree angle, adjusting so both folds are centered off that middle crease line.
4. Now the two overlapping folds will form a point. Fold in half side to side.
5. Trim uneven layers off bottom edges in a rounded petal shape (or any shape you'd like).
6. Unfold your new flower! Refold, trim, crisp your crease lines (to give each petal dimension), etc. as necessary to get the exact shape you want, and stack layers together for an even fuller look.

To add more detail, I used the pink pom stickers as a quick 'stamen', but you can also make them from a tiny piece of paper (see above in yellow). I used the same steps as the flowers, but fringed the edges, unfolded, and added a brad to the center before scrunching it back together.

Overall, the flowers take a little bit of trial & error at first, but once you get going they go fast. And it's fun to come up with endless variations -- hope you give them a try!

(This post is part of the 12 Months of Martha, using Martha Stewart Crafts provided for a project each month. I'll be donating/giving away my supplies once the projects are complete.)

Making: Flower Tacks

I mentioned awhile back that I joined the 12 Months of Martha team this year, and I have a few fun craft projects to catch up on sharing here. The first are these flower tacks, which are an easy, pretty upgrade for your real-life "pin" board. I love the simple difference they make!

While these mostly explain themselves, below is a quick rundown (which takes about as long to read as to make). Hope you enjoy.

For the velvety tacks (above):
-flat, round thumbtacks
-flower ribbon
-craft paint (I used pink, coral, & yellow)
Using the flower ribbon (shown above), cut off a single 'flower' and poke a painted thumbtack through the center. Add a tiny bit of glue if you'd like it more secure.

For the gem tacks (below):
-flat, round thumbtacks
-acrylic flower embellishments (or anything similar)
-multi-surface glue
Remove adhesive sticker from the back of flower gem and add a dab of multi-surface glue. Stick the flat top of the thumbtack onto the glue and gently hold in place, leaving it to fully dry before using.

(This post is part of the 12 Months of Martha, using Martha Stewart Crafts provided for a project each month. I'll be donating/giving away my supplies once the projects are complete.)

Goodbye, June

Hi! I still (clearly) haven't gotten back into a rhythm here. But also, where did June go and can it come back for maybe 4 more weeks?

We've been trying to savor this time of year as much as possible... it's nice just going on walks while it's still light out at 9pm (which is also full of bunny sightings in our neighborhood as the sunlight starts to fade). And our peonies are long gone by now, but we enjoyed them both indoors and out while they lasted. So long, always feels short but sweet.

PS. I'll be back tomorrow with some (long overdue) projects to share. So if you're out there, stay tuned. :)

A New (to Us) Piano

This winter we finally got a piano, and I can't believe it took us this long! It has really made this house feel more like home. Piano has been a big part of my life -- I took lessons growing up, and studied it part way through college, playing for various jobs like weddings & church services. After I got married and we moved into a tiny apartment, though, my parents gave me a small keyboard to practice with but eventually I kind of lost touch with playing all together.

I guess something clicked this year (?!), because I was determined to finally get a piano and start playing again. My parents want us to have theirs (that I love) someday, so for now we decided to look for a good deal on one through Craigslist. Our hunt eventually led to this Whitney Kimball, and thanks to some generous help from my dad with moving/hauling it during our crazy winter, here it is!

There was really only one place for it to go, along the wall in our dining/kitchen area, but it fits as if it has always been here and provides a sunny spot for plants too. Besides needing a tuning, the piano is in decent shape, but the keys were covered in old tape (see below), so I thought I'd share the before and after...

I used a scraper blade to remove all of the tape, but there was still a good layer of sticky residue left on each key, so after a quick pinterest search I mixed together a tiny spoonful of baking soda and some softened coconut oil, and rubbed the paste (too generously, maybe) onto the keys. Then I waited about ten minutes and kind of wondered if it was just going to be a big mess.

After letting it sit, I went back along each key with a paper towel, wiping off the paste and scraping thoroughly as I went. It was tedious, and I'm not sure if this was really the easiest method to go with, but after a few rounds the keys looked shiny and new! Plus, they did smell amazing the next few times it was played. So happy that we finally have a piano in our home to enjoy.

New York City

First, I just wanted to say thank you for your kind words last week. It's so good to be back! Since I'm still catching up here, I thought I'd share a trip we took to NYC shortly after Q's homecoming. Seeing the New York City Ballet is one of those things on my bucket list, so we decided to head there and see The Nutcracker!

We were in the city for our anniversary through New Year's, which are just a couple days apart...aka the craziest, busiest time of year to visit. But it was totally worth getting to experience part of the holiday season there (at least that's what we kept telling ourselves!). This trip tested our patience in a lot of ways, navigating the city, crowds & a few mishaps, so it made me all the more grateful we could share in the adventure together. It felt surreal to keep realizing something we'd looked forward to throughout the last months of deployment was actually was really wonderful.

We spent most of our time exploring shops, cafes, & museums (the paintings above were two of my favorites at the MoMA), and also visited Rockefeller Center a few times to see the tree & the Top of the Rock. We loved the bird's eye view of Central Park surrounded by a sea of skyscrapers.

On our last night, New Year's Eve, we headed to Lincoln Center for The Nutcracker, which was amazing -- the dancers, the set design, and even the theater itself. And now, of course, I want to go back!

PS. Above is a glimpse of the tiny apartment we rented through Airbnb while there. It was inspiring to see how the owner lived so intentionally in a small space -- everything had its place and doubled in both form & function, like her bookshelf wall. Also, a couple (grainy) night photos from going atop the Empire State Building as well...because when you travel with an engineer, this is what they like to do! ;)

Making: A Stenciled Chair

Here's my second project for the 12 Months of Martha... I found this old chair on the side of the road a year or so ago (I thought it was cute and could use a new life!), and it needed so much sanding to re-stain it that I spray painted it Lagoon blue on a whim. It looked intense! But I've left it like that for almost a year now, and set folded blankets on the seat to cover the weird holes from removing the upholstery.

When I saw adhesive stencils in this month's supply box, I thought it would be an easy way to add some pattern to the chair, since the adhesive makes it a lot easier to reposition along curves. So I stenciled all along the front edge of the seat, as well as the top of the back rest. It's not perfect, but it was actually really fun and makes me want to start stenciling all kinds of things now. I like how it subtly breaks up the bold chair color...

It also finally prompted me to recover the seat too. I figured the simplest way was with rope, especially since I no longer had the upholstery template around (oops). Q helped me do this to the top of an accent stool once with jute, but this time I used a softer clothesline rope (I also tried tacky glue here instead of liquid nails, and it's definitely not holding together as well). To be honest, now that it's done, I don't love this rope with the paint pattern, but it looks a whole lot better than it did. Not bad for a free chair!

A few things I used:
- free, old chair for experimenting
- spray paint (Lagoon blue)
- paint for stencil (Martha Stewart Craft's blue, happens to be chalkboard)
- adhesive stencil (Pretty Borders) & foam pouncer
- clothesline rope & tacky glue (for seat)

(This post is part of the 12 Months of Martha, using Martha Stewart Crafts provided for a project each month. I'm donating/giving away my supplies and if you know of a local organization in need of craft items, please contact me!)

Making: Memory Gift Boxes

I've got two of these today! Shortly after sharing the Martha Stewart craft post here last October, I joined on with 12 Months of Martha to contribute twelve projects throughout this year. I was grateful to be asked, and knew that if I agreed to do it, it'd be a fun way to share some crafty things here and would give me no excuse not to blog anymore (even if I'm still behind...already!).

This was the first project I put together back in January, so it's somewhat Valentine's themed, but could work for any time of year. I love random bits of ephemera and hoard them just for special occasions, you know, like making memory boxes. ;) I still remember from the book, Modern Paper Crafts (a favorite of mine) how easy it is to make paper boxes using simple origami, so I made a bunch in various sizes. It's so fun to stuff them full of sweet, even cheesy little keepsakes to make someone smile. I had my husband in mind for the ones shown here, and included movie stubs, old & new postcards, and the dance performance ticket from the night he proposed.

A few things I used:
- square pieces of paper (cardstock & Martha Stewart Crafts red graph paper)
- bone folder
- keepsakes, notes, etc. (found items & Love Notes Postcards)

To make, take a square piece of paper (12x12" will make a 4.25" box), and follow these basic folding instructions to make boxes of various sizes. To create a lid that's slightly larger, adjust the folds in the fifth step (the closer to the center, the smaller it will be). These can get addictive once you start making them...I've made some with stiffened fabric, too!

(This post is part of the 12 Months of Martha, using Martha Stewart Crafts provided for a project each month. I'm donating/giving away my supplies and if you know of a local organization in need of craft items, please contact me!)

Hello (& A Homecoming!)'s been a long time, but hi again (if anyone is still out there?)! Boy, have I missed blogging, but I just needed to step away from here for awhile. I'm not even sure where to start -- I've had so many thoughts about the purpose of this space and what to focus on here going forward, but for now I thought I'd share more of a life update.

Q deployed with his unit overseas last May, and made it safely home a few weeks before Christmas. The photo above was from homecoming day as he waited for his bags, and I remember it all feeling so surreal at that moment. Shortly after he deployed, my brother moved to Nebraska for his first call, and my best friend got married & moved farther away as well. I'm so happy for the opportunities they had, but that summer was definitely an adjustment period without them!

While Q was gone, I found myself spending a lot less of my free time behind a computer, and much more of it engaged with those who really made life full in his absence. Technology still played a huge role, though, because this time (several years since his first deployment) I could video chat almost daily with Q (!!), as well as stay connected with spouses in the unit through a Facebook group (which made such a difference as we are spread around the state). And it still amazes me how two bloggers -- Mary and Claudia -- also became such supportive friends who walked through the deployment with me from afar, even as they each were on incredible journeys as military families. If there could be only one takeaway from blogging, getting to connect with women as brave and kind as those two would be at the very top of my list. I am so grateful for what their families (and others like them) do for our country.

So, that is one small window into life last year. It's hard to sum up all of my thoughts on it at once, but I hope to continue sharing bits and pieces of things I learned and experienced, along with other fun adventures and projects from the past year. This post honestly took me forever to write -- every time I started, it quickly turned into a novel (and not the page-turning kind). Anyway, more to come, and happy (very belated) new year!

October & Crafting

My goodness, I can't believe how long it's been since I've regularly blogged here. This season of life has been full in so many ways (more thoughts on that later), but seriously, I've really missed sharing ideas here and keeping up with all my favorite blogs.

The team at Martha Stewart recently contacted me about sharing a craft idea this month, and my instinct is to pass on this type of thing (I tend to freak out and wonder what the heck to make, plus I don't accept freebies through blogging), but I just had a feeling this would be a fun push to jump back into blogging again (and it definitely was -- here I am!). So, they sent a box full of fall-themed MS craft products to create a project with, and after admiring all the goods, I'm planning to donate or pass them on after this. Here's what I put together!

I've had these tiny plain notebooks from the craft store for the longest time, and thought they'd be perfect to decorate as favors or small gifts. I used paper from the MS Halloween pad, which includes textured pages like awesome felted cats (which I cut & glued to one cover), and glittery star paper & other fun designs that I wrapped like book covers. So cute and simple to make!

I styled it into a little table setting using some things I had on hand: a blue table runner, pearly garland, a vase of gold leaves, and pumpkins. I used a MS mini punch to make pumpkin confetti (gluing some of them onto votive holders filled with glitter), and stuck their masquerade masks onto painted skewers along with gold ribbon.

It was fun getting a chance to put this together, so I might share another post using more of the supplies before deciding where to pass them on (thank you again to Martha's team!). And thanks, friends, for sticking by here. Happy crafting and especially, happy October!