Tag Archives: DIY

ZOMG, cupcakes.

I’m a little obsessed with cupcakes.  I think they’re just about the cutest things to ever grace bakery shelves, and these days they can be found just about everywhere from wrapping paper to jewelry.  Yes, even Tiffany’s is in the spirit. 

So when it comes to throwing parties, I like cupcakes to take center stage.  I recently had a blast hosting a baby shower for my good friend Katie.  Katie decorated her nursery in yellow and lavendar gingham with butterflies.  Using that as my inspiration, I made lavendar gingham invitations, yellow and lavendar butterfly garland, and various other paper goodies.  The piece de resistance?  Giant cupcakes with yellow frosting and lavendar butterflies made from edible paper.  Seriously.  The butterflies were edible.  I was in love with these cupcakes.



Then fast forward to today, when I just finished what might just be my cutest project ever.  My adorable niece Morgen turns two this December, and what better theme for a 2 year-old’s birthday party than cupcakes?  We’ll be celebrating on Thanksgiving since the whole family will be together — a rare and special occasion.  Not only did I wrap her birthday gifts in my favorite cupcake paper, I made tags to match, complete with glitter.  Then I decided to try my hand at a party hat.  I’ve seen many DIY hats on paper crafting websites so I decided to make one decorated with what else — a cupcake.  And ZOMG is it cute.  Although Andy begged me not to, I made Steve model it for me.  It’s like he knew it was pink — he ran the other way when he saw it in my hand and you can just tell from the expression on his face that he’s pissed at me. 

Well, anyway, I’ll have to post pictures of Morgen wearing it at her party.  I’m hoping she’ll like it more than Steve does.  Until then — have a cupcake!  They’re not just cute, they’re delicious too!



Simple and inexpensive throw pillows

I love how a few really great throw pillows can transform a piece of furniture and really make a room.  A store that always does a great job of using throw pillows to make a piece of furniture look amazing or tie together a room is my beloved Pottery Barn.  Although I have bought my fair share of pillow covers there, it’s typically only when they are having a sale.  And even then they can be pretty pricey.

If you are looking for throw pillows in bold, interesting prints, take a stroll through your favorite home store.  Go past the bedding and head straight to dining.  There you will find linen napkins in a wide array of colors and prints which are perfectly sized for an 18″ x 18″ pillow cover.  I happened to be shopping at Pier One recently when I fell in love with some aviary print napkins that happened to be perfect for my basement.  $5 later I was walking out with the start to a pretty new pillow.

I bought a run-of-the-mill 18″ x 18″ pillow insert from Jo-Ann Fabrics (with my 40% off coupon, of course).  I don’t sew (believe it or not) so the next step was to sweetly ask my mother-in-law if she wouldn’t mind helping me out.   She’s an expert at sewing, but even novices tell me that making a pillow is a piece of cake. 

Instead of dabbing mouths at the dinner table, the napkins that I fell in love with are now poised and ready to collect drool on the couch.  The best part — the whole project cost less than $20.



My latest obsession: Etsy.com

As a DIY’er, I have a huge appreciation for things that others have made with their own hands.  I’m in heaven on State Street in Madison where you can find tons of handmade items in various little shops.  It was at a shop in Madison that I got the inspiration for my magnetic photo frames.  So when I discovered Etsy I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

purseThe self-described place to buy and sell all things handmade is a mecca of cool stuff.  From photography to jewelry, all items are created by the people who choose to sell their items there (similar to ebay but without the bidding).  Many sellers even offer custom made items.  When I was looking for a chic purse in black and white, I stumbled on AbbaDabbaBags.  She didn’t have any bags in black and white at the time so I contacted her to tell her what I was looking for.  Not only was she willing to make the bag to my specifications, she was enthusiastic and had it done and shipped within a week.  I even got to choose the color of the lining (Tiffany blue, of course).  And all for about $40.  Seriously.  That’s my purse to the left.

Then I discovered the Scrabble tile pendant rage.  Seller HomeStudio makes some sweet designs for an sweeter deal — 032209-007choose any four pendants for $28.  This was the perfect package because I would not have been able to choose between the four I fell in love with.  I have worn the bird pendant a few times since getting them and have gotten several compliments.  And this seller was equally great to work with — when my package arrived postage due they not only reimbursed me the $0.34 due, they refunded the original shipping costs.  It’s pretty rare to get service like that anymore.

032209-0041Etsy is also a great place to satisfy my cupcake obsession.  I am in love with all things cupcake — wrapping paper, cards, baby onesies and even the real thing on occasion.  I saw that some sellers offer felt cupcakes that can be used as pincushions.  Adorable!  Determined to try this out, I bought a pattern from seller Umecrafts.  I don’t sew, but her instructions were easy and she even offers additional tutorials on her blog.  Again, another great buying experience.  My first pincushion turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.

Etsy is my “happy place.”  A place where creativity and consumerism converge for the ultimate shopping experience.  Check it out and I guarantee that you too will be hooked.


Decorating tip: Pottery Barn “on the cheap”

I won’t pretend that I’m not flattered.  I have had several friends tell me that they dig my taste when it comes to decorating.  Some have even asked if I would come over and decorate their houses.  I wish they weren’t kidding.  The idea of spending someone else’s money to redecorate an entire room is my idea of the ultimate fantasy.  While I am no professional decorator I have found that friends like my ideas so I have decided to share some of my favorites here on my long-neglected blog.

I get a few catalogs that I like to think of as my own version of porn.  One example is the aforementioned Paper Source catalog.  But paper isn’t the only thing that gets me hot.  Picture me turning a Pottery Barn catalog sideways, carefully eyeing the gorgeous subject of a photograph from every possible angle, mumbling “Oh yeeeeeaaahhh” to myself.  That, my friends, is the life of a home decor junkie.

But let’s be real.  Pottery Barn is generally pricey — some would say overpriced — and I sometimes just can’t bring myself to pay their prices for the objects of my desire.  So I find an alternative or — no surpise here — do it myself.

Take for example these framed photographs that caught my eye this past summer.  Lovely, yes?


But this set of six framed photos will run you around $199 (although I think they’re on sale now).  Since something like this was perfect for the family room I was decorating I decided to create my own framed photos of nature.

While on vacation in Marquette I did some hiking in the woods behind our house, snapping photos of pretty greenery.  I tried to take advantage of the sunlight whenever possible.  I also took some pictures on the beach of Lake Superior.  Back in Waukesha I took some photos of plant life while walking Steve at Minooka Park.  I am not much of a photographer, but when all was said and done I had several great photos to choose from.

I enlarged the photos to 8″x10″ and purchased simple black frames with a white mat from Kohl’s.  A grand total of $40 later, I had my own series of framed photos .  These photos are not only special because they were taken in a place that is important to me, they look pretty darn good on my wall (if I do say so myself).


I would advise that if you decide to do a similar project that you order matte prints.  They look much nicer in a frame.  I neglected to check that box when I ordered these and I couldn’t bear to waste these prints.

Anyway, if this idea floats your boat but you don’t want to wait until spring to take your own photos, feel free use these photos that I took and never used.  And if you love the look of the apothecary jars, go to TJ Maxx or Marshall’s.  They have a wide selection at very reasonable prices.

Happy decorating!





Your magnetic photo frame questions answered

Hello!  Here are answers to some questions I have gotten about the magnetic photo frames.  If there are more questions ask away!

1.  What type of marbles do you use?
For the magnets, use the decorative marbles  or “gems” that craft stores sell in the floral section.  One side is flat so they are ideal for making magnets.  You can get them at Jo-Ann and Michaels.  Tip: make sure you use clear marbles — not the kind with the pearly sheen since it will make it hard to see the image below the marble.

2. What kind of magnets/what strength magnets are you using?
I finally found magnets that were strong enough at my local ACE hardware store.  FYI: I was not able to find them at Home Deopt.  They are small, round magnets.  I threw away the packaging so I do not have a brand name for you. 

3. Do you cover the whole piece of metal and how do you adhere the paper?  Did you use a roll paper or just single sheets of scrapbook paper?
Step one with the frames is to wrap them in solid color text weight paper — whatever color matches the patterned paper you use.  An 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper will not cover the frame completely but that’s fine — the objective is to cover the sharp edges.  Then I cut the patterned paper to size (usually from a 12 x 12 sheet of scrapbook paper) to cover the front and back.  Sometimes I use a solid color on the back.  Either way, I recommend text weight patterned paper — cardstock tends to be too heavy for the magnets.  I have tried different adhesives with the paper, but for the first layer but what seems to work the best is the glue I use for the marbles – E6000 craft glue.  To adhere the front and back panels I use double-sided tape since I am adhering paper to paper.  The double-sided tape keeps the surface smooth and free of the puckering that glue can sometimes cause.

Tip: If you are making a hanging frame, don’t forget to poke holes through the paper as you adhere the layers so you can keep track of where they are.  Putting the eyelets in later will be tricky otherwise!


Magnetic picture frames, part deux

Since my last magnetic picture frame post I have been perfecting the art of making them.  Not only have I come up with some cute new ideas, I also found some hardware that is perfect for making a desktop/standing frame as opposed to just a hanging frame.

Here is one of my recent favorites:

I also owe an answer to an important question.  Some of you have asked what the metal piece is called so you can find it at your local hardware store.  I got my metal pieces at Home Depot in the lumber section.  They are Simpson Strong tie connectors and the part number is TP57.

I don’t have photos of a desktop frame yet, but when I do I will be sure to post them along with the  name and number of the part that holds it up.


DIY magnetic photo frames

Here’s a cute idea that is a change from your typical picture frame.  This was one of those ideas inspired from a cute little boutique with overpriced gifts.  I saw it and loved it.  Then I thought, I could totally make that.  

Here’s how to make your own for under $5 each (a lot less than what the boutique charges):

1. Find an ordinary piece of magnetic metal from a hardware store.  I chose this piece for reasons that will become obvious later.

2. Cover the piece of metal in attractive paper then poke holes an equal distance apart through the paper.  Tip: don’t use thick paper (i.e. card stock). 

3. Put eyelets through the holes and secure.

4. Thread ribbon through the holes and tie in a bow.  Or don’t.

5. Visit Not Martha for instructions on how to make cute marble magnets that complement your frame.  Tip: look for strong magnets. You will have the most luck at a hardware store.

6. Secure your favorite photo to the frame with the magnets and hang.


Admire your work.