DIY: Update Your Old Christmas Decor

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Happy December!  It’s that time of year again where the red Rubbermaid boxes with green lids come out of hiding and my house explodes in Christmas décor.  I love, LOVE, L*O*V*E this time of year!

Question: Do you have Christmas décor items that you put back in the box year after year without using them in your holiday decorating?  Stuff that you LOVED way back when, but now no longer fits with your Christmas design style or colors?  I decided to update a couple of items that I haven’t used in the past few years and I couldn’t be more pleased!

First, I have this wooden holly swag that my friend gave me many years ago (thanks, Renee!).  It’s super cute, right?

Green Red Wood Holly Swag

I have decorated with it and loved it for more than a decade, but my Christmas décor colors have changed over the years and it no longer matches my style,  plus the raffia was all snarled up.  For my DIY, I removed all of the raffia then painted all of the pieces with flat black spray paint,

Black painted wood holly cutouts

then painted the round “berries” white and the leaves a light greige color.   I did this to both sides to make the finished project look good from all angles.  After the paint dried I grabbed an old spoon and scraped the edges to reveal the black paint beneath for a distressed look.

distressing paint with a spoon handle

Using the spoon handle to distress the paint edges was way faster than sandpaper would have been.  If you notice how I was holding the spoon, it felt similar to peeling potatoes.  I just love the little center vein that was routered down the middle of each leaf.   That, coupled with the distressing, gives these holly leaves nice dimension.

Once all of the pieces were distressed, I grabbed some light blue ribbon and inserted it in the holes.  I added the 3 round “berries” to 3 of the leaves with the ribbon and laid it out on my counter in the approximate way that I wanted it to hang…

wood holly swag

…and then I tied a knot at the top.  So, here is the finished swag:

Just in case you are interested in making a set of your own, here is a pattern for the holly leaves and round berries.  This would make an awesome neighbor gift, right?

My other project was an item that I painted sometime in the 90’s which was in sore need of a makeover in order to come out of the Rubbermaid this year:

Green red wood JOY sign

Again, it wasn’t horrible, just didn’t fit my current décor.  This little “JOY” sign got the same treatment as my holly swag and I kind of love it now:

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I half thought that I would paint the stars with silver nail polish.  Who knows, maybe next year.  I am really liking the subdued whites this year, so for now, it’s just how I want it.

And, here is the final resting place of each for Christmas 2016:

green wreath holly swag

I’m liking the new looks…for now.  Who knows, I may change it back to bright colors in another decade.

So, do you like the before: colorful versions, or the after: distressed shades of white?  What Christmas color scheme are you liking right now?

 

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Creative Tablecloth Ideas

Creative Table Cloth Ideas

I love tablecloths.  I really do!  Do you wanna know why?  Since dining tables are usually at least somewhat large, when you change the tablecloth, you can change the whole look of a room.  Do you believe me?  Think about what a huge difference it makes to throw a different bedspread or comforter on your bed, it’s the same idea.  Bingo!  The whole room seems to change, am I right?  Of course I am!  Changing the tablecloth could almost be akin to painting a wall.  Only much quicker, less messy and, for fickle decorators like me, much easier to change the look of a room on a whim.

I have plenty of tablecloths.  More than I should have, probably.  I’m fickle, remember?  I’ve noticed that in recent months, however, I really don’t use my real tablecloths very often.  I have gotten creative and now use drapes and shower curtains instead and, I must say that I like the look of them so much more than my real tablecloths.  Want to see?

First, my current favorite:

Decorative Shower Curtain Used as a Tablecloth

This Moroccan-looking number is the most amazing shade of blue.  I can’t figure out how to photograph the color perfectly.

Close up of decorative shower curtain

I love how the black flocked design is so bold.  Yep, I love this shower curtain…turned table cloth.

Here is a shower curtain that I bought at Goodwill for $3.  I love-a-love-a-love it!  It is practically dripping with texture:

Decorative shower curtain used as a tablecloth

Close up of decorative shower curtain

I also have some curtain panels that I like to use as tablecloths:

Here are some close-up pics so you can really appreciate the textures:

Yeah…I really like my pseudo-tablecloths.  They don’t look exactly like what I see over and over in the tablecloth departments of stores.  It’s a pretty fair bet that I’m not going to walk into anyone else’s home and see that their table matches mine.  Call me crazy.  Call me creative.  Just don’t call me late for dinner (set on one of these creative table cloths, of course!).

What do you think?  Have you ever stepped outside of the box and used something other than a tablecloth for a table cloth?

 

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Easy Recycled Gift Tags

 

Recycled gift tags

It’s time for Christmas gift buying, gift wrapping and gift tagging.  Don’t you just love Christmas time?   To me, wrapping presents is fun and pretty relaxing, but I’ll admit that one of my least favorite parts of wrapping is tagging my wrapped gifts.  Am I the only one?  I always make sure to buy gift tags at the after-Christmas sales so I have plenty on hand, but the things make me crazy.  The plain ones are often, well…boring and the beautiful foiled ones always seem to repel ink.   Seriously, someone should test those things out before they sell them as gift tags.  It seems that if I can find a pen that actually writes on them, the ink always smears when I try to stick it on the package.   Urrgggh.

This year, I decided to make some more permanent tags.  I went as far as my recycling bin to find my main supplies-  these empty thin cardboard boxes:

Empty food cartons for gift tags

First thing that I did was to cut simple tag shapes, pairing two for each tag.  I made sure that the plain side faced out as I cut them, because really, who really wants a picture of a tri tip sandwich on their gift tag.

recycled cardboard gift tags

The first couple of tags that I made had a layer of flannel sandwiched between them:

As you can see, I used a tiny loop of tape to hold each side of the fabric/cardboard in place, making sure to line the cardboard up well.  Easy.  Next, I took it to my sewing machine and used a long, straight stitch around the whole thing.  I made sure to start at the center-top of the tag and overlapped a few stitches to secure the thread, knowing that the ribbon would hide the cut threads.  Once the sewing was complete, I trimmed the fabric to the actual shape of the tag.  For added effect, I frayed the flannel edges of one of my tags, and the other tag I snipped lots of tiny cuts along the whole fabric edge to create my own fringe.

After doing a couple this way, I got lazy and just ended up gluing the two pieces of cardboard together, skipping the flannel.  I think that I prefer this simpler look, actually, and it makes tag making so much easier and faster.  Once the tag layers were secured, I used my hole punch at the top.

Of course I could have hand-written the names on these, but instead I went to my computer and found some fun, bold fonts which I printed in large sizes and glued on my tags.  I used white paper, but colored or lightly patterned paper would be fun, too.   Glitter, stickers, and other embellishments would spiff these up even more.  Really, the sky’s the limit on what you could do with these.   You can have all of your tags exactly the same, with only the names different, or you can color code for each child/recipient, or you can make each tag totally different.

Gift tags made from recycled carton cardboard

You might think that, with the rush and fun and craziness of Christmas morning unwrapping that these tags will just get tossed in with the other trash.  Maybe…maybe not.  These gift tags are actually very study and feel substantial in your hands.  I don’t think that they will easily get mixed up with tossed gift wrap and bows.  I’m going to tell my children to save them so I can use them next year…and the year after that…and the year after that, etc., etc. .

What started out as trash will be avoiding the trashcan for years to come.  That’s the plan.  Now, I just need to invade my recycling bin again to make a couple dozen more tags.

So, do you have any empty cereal, crackers, or other thin cardboard boxes in your trash right now?  I think it’s time to rescue them!

 

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Organize Your Closet by Color: 10 Minute Tidy

Cover pic organize your closet by color

Ready for another 10 Minute Tidy Tuesday challenge?  How about getting your closet a bit more organized?  I prefer to hang items up rather than fold them and put them away in a drawer.  That said, I have lots of hangers and lots of clothes on hangers.  Years ago I started organizing my clothes according to color and, I must say, it is a HUGE timesaver.   I can easily put together outfits and I never have to look and look and look for a particular item of clothing.  If I know the color, I know how to find it.

I recently switched out my summer wardrobe for my winter wardrobe.  If you don’t do that, I would highly recommend it.  I gave several reasons for doing this seasonal switcheroo here.  I’m not going to lie…that wardrobe switch takes longer than 10 minutes.  BUT, organizing by color does not.  Seriously, go try it right now.  Set a timer first!

Of course you can arrange your colors however you want, but I will share how I do it:  From left to right I organize my clothes in Browns, Blacks, Greens, Aqua and Teals, Blues, Purples, Reds, Oranges, Yellows, Grays, and lastly Whites.  Patterned clothes just go in the color area of the most dominant color in the pattern.  You might notice that I have some short sleeve tops in my closet even though this is my winter wardrobe.  I like to keep a few around to layer under sweaters, ect.

Organize closet by color

Before I let you loose on color coding your closet, I’m assuming one thing…that you already have your closet organized with like items hanging together.  For example, blouses and tops in one area, skirts in another, dresses in another and jackets/sweatshirts in another.  I personally fold pants and sweaters and place them on shelves.  If you haven’t organized like items together yet, there is no time like the present.  Just turn that timer off until you are done.

I don’t recommend emptying everything out of your closet.  You will definitely spend more than 10 minutes if you do it that way.  I would suggest deciding your color organizing order and start on one side of the rod, pulling clothes out and placing them in the correct area until everything is in its proper place.  It’s actually fun.  If you have a huge closet (lucky you!) and lots of clothes, just focus on one area (tops, skirts, etc.) per 10 minute session.

Once your closet is done, go organize your husband’s closet, or your child’s or your coat closet.  You will love the rainbow you see each time you open a closet door. Color coding your closet…10 minutes well spent!

 

10 Minute Tidy: Messy Kitchen

10 Minute Tidy #2

Do you ever look at a task and find it too daunting to do.  You don’t even want to start because you figure it will take for-ev-er to finish?  Or, you know that you are short on time, so you don’t even try?  I’m convinced that at least half of getting something accomplished is just starting it.  Case in point… my kitchen.  I was gone way too late last night and we ate dinner way too late and it seemed way too late to clean up after dinner.  Knowing that I had to get up way too early in the morning, I did some thing that I very rarely do:  I went to bed with a messy kitchen.  This is the kitchen that I woke up to:

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Ugggh.  This is really horrifying for me to show, but I know that we all get messy kitchens.  We’re friends here, right?

See that window above my sink?  That is the front porch.  Translation: anyone who comes to my door can see if my kitchen is clean or dirty.  This is a good incentive for me to keep a clean kitchen!

I decided that this would be a great 10 Minute Tidy activity…to clean up my messy kitchen.

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First, and probably most importantly, I started my oven timer…10 minutes on the clock.  I told myself that when the timer sounded, my work was done.  To be truthful, the dishwasher was already empty, so that helped me out time-wise.  Usually my family puts their own dirty dishes in the dishwasher, but the clean dishes didn’t get removed until, you guessed it…too late last night.  Excuses, excuses!   As I hurriedly cleaned, I kept glancing at the clock to make sure that I would be done in time, and just as I was rinsing out the just scrubbed sink, time ran out.  Perfect.

I’ll be honest.  When I’m trying to beat the clock like this, it doesn’t really seem like work.  More like a game.  Or a race…without a lot of sweat…or shin splints…or calories burned.  Darn!  But, my reward today was a clean kitchen:

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Ten little minutes and I can forget all about it.  Until the next mess comes along because, as we all well know:  A clean house is a temporary thing.

What 10 minute tidy are you going to do today?

 

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Super Saturday Craft Day

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One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to help organize a “Super Saturday” at my church.  Super Saturday is a day where the women from church and their friends, family, neighbors…can come together and craft.  This event is always in November so we can make holiday decorations as well as inexpensive gifts for Christmas giving.  I just thought that I would share what we are doing this year:

This Snowman/Scarecrow craft was requested by someone who had seen a similar craft online using planks.   As you can see, this craft is reversible, making it possible to have it out from October through January.  Love that!  I will do a tutorial on this soon.  Promise!  ***UPDATE: Here is the tutorial***

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This 2 minute craft  is great for display as well as for holding a plate of holiday goodies.  It is as simple as removing the backing from the vinyl sticker that I cut with my Roland Dr. Stika machine, placing the sticker and rubbing it to smooth it out, then removing the masking layer.  Easy peasy!  I love how simplistic it looks.

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I found some little wood boxes that I thought would make perfect little chalkboards.  Before Super Saturday, I will paint the boxes white.  That day we will add a vinyl frame to use as a stencil.  After painting with chalkboard paint and letting it dry (we always use hair dryers at Super Saturday to speed up the drying process!), we will remove the frame vinyl to expose the white below.  I’m also going to do a quick demo about how to easily “write” on chalkboards.  I love that this little guy can stay up year round.  I love, love, love chalkboards and the fact that “art” can change in a matter of seconds.

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We are also going to do a demo of how to make a 5 minute pillow cover.  Soooo easy!  Here is a great video tutorial to show you how it’s done and here is one of the many pillows that I have made this way:

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Lastly, here is a craft that I patterned off of one that my friend found online and loved.  I made sure to use an image that is copyright free of the LDS Salt Lake Temple spires.  We will decoupage that as well as the saying, “Families are Forever”.  This idea can be used in a thousand different ways, using different pics (pics of children and grandchildren, family home…) and sayings.  I drilled tiny holes in each corner of the word wood so I could easily insert little brads for added detail.  I also drilled a couple of larger holes on the top for the ribbon to go in and, BAM! it’s a fabulous item to hang in your own home or to give as a gift.

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I’m so excited for this Super Saturday event…I can hardly wait!  It is so much fun to turn on the Christmas tunes and work and laugh and craft with friends.

Do you participate in a similar crafting event?   If you are not aware of a similar event around you, why don’t YOU get one started?  Grab your friends and family and get crafting!  You just might end up with some pretty cool stuff and warm memories as a result.

 

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Welcome to 31 Days

10 Minute Tidy Bathroom Drawer

TimeToTidy#1

This is my first post of what I plan to make a regular feature at ARMCHAIRDECORATORBLOG:  10 Minute Tidy posts.  Before I get started with my Tidy project, let me explain where this phrase came from.  When my kids were younger, we had a couple of VCR cassettes of “The Big Comfy Couch”.  At the end of each episode, Loonette the clown looks around her messy living room and says, “Who made this big mess?” and then speed cleans it with a “10 second tidy”.  I incorporated this idea as a way of getting my 5 children to help tidy up the house quickly.  The time limit depended on how messy the house was, usually 2, 3, or 5 minutes.  A 2 minute tidy equated to 12 minutes of fast work if you added up all 6 of us busting a move to clean up.  My kids really didn’t complain very much about these “tidies” because they knew that there was a limit.

These days, I still challenge myself to do speed tidies, especially when there is a task that I would rather not do.  The chores seem so much easier, and I swear I work 5 times faster when I’m focusing on beating a clock.  Think how fast you accomplish tasks when you know company is almost due to arrive at your front porch.

So, 10 Minute Tidy project #1 is my bathroom junk drawer:

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Way to much stuff in this drawer.  I have been putting off cleaning it out for a long time.  Realistically, I knew that the job was really not a biggie…it was all mental.  With a 10 minute time frame in mind, I quickly emptied everything out and sorted like items together.

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Ridiculous!  Who needs this many contact lens cases!

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All of those little bar soaps that you get from hotels?  We don’t even use bar soap around here.  Note to self: from here on out… leave them at the hotel!  Time to donate to a good cause.

I started throwing all of the half used hotel lotions in the trash until I came up with a great plan:

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My body butter tub was nearly empty, but after squeezing the contents of all of our mini lotion containers, it was full.  Free lotion!  Those, I will keep bringing home from hotels.

Less than 10 minutes later…

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…my bathroom junk drawer is noticeably less cluttered.  I don’t hate opening it anymore!

What quickie project could you go do right now?  How about a bathroom drawer?  On your mark…get set…TIDY!

 

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