4-Leaf Clover Art

After having a nagging urge to paint for a couple of days last month, I finally found some time to sit down with my watercolor supplies, to create something. As usual, I wanted to make something that would have a purpose; as opposed to just painting for the fun of it, and then wondering what to do with it. (I don’t really like this quality in me, by the way. I’d rather be more creatively spontaneous. So I am working on that in another creative process.) As I figured out what to paint, I realized it was almost the month of March, and so almost time to change our home’s February/Love themed double-mantels.

March….the beginning of spring, and St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t think there is a lick of Irish in any of us, but I decided to go with the theme somewhat anyway, and make a piece of art for our March mantels.

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I had a vision in my head. I got my hues of green ready to go in my palette, and then free-handed a 4-leaf clover, on my ~11×14″ watercolor pad.

As part of the art, I wanted to include a phrase [Read more…]

A Simple Buttons and Love-Themed Craft Project

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I have promised myself that this year, I will spend even more time in the space in which I get so very much enjoyment and fulfillment in; my art studio. And so this past Sunday, that’s just what I did for myself!

In anticipating our home mantels decor, for the month of February, I wanted to create something love-themed, in celebration St. Valentine’s Day, of course.  I chose to do this simple project, using buttons. I have a certain kind of love-thing, for buttons!  Do you, too? [Read more…]

Printable Valentines (free): Crazy Straws, Socks and Guitar Picks

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 Last year I designed some last-minute valentines for my kids to give to their friends, that go with a fun little ‘extra’, most of which can easily be found at a dollar store.
I think they are cute and clever. Although I have always said, “Nobody think my jokes are funnier than I do.”

This year I am offering them to you as free printables.  Aren’t I nice? :)  You will see that there is room for your child to write their friends’ names, after Valentine and before the comma, as well as a space for them to sign their valentine in the bottom right hand corner.
The link to the printables will be available at the end of this post.

02_valentines-free-printable-socks I found fun kids’ sock in different sizes at the dollar store. They came as 2 in a set (different patterns), for $1.
These would be for girls, but….

03_valentines-free-printable-socks-2 ….they also had some sets for boys.
We attached the socks to the valentine card using colorful paper clips. 
Worked like a charm. Or, a paper clip.  But with socks.

04_valentines-free-printable-crazy-straw This valentine was designed to hold a crazy straw.  All you need to do is cut a slot at each heart, and insert the straw.
A while pack of straws can be bought for $1 also at, of course, the dollar store.

05_valentines-free-printable-guitar-pick This is the perfect valentine for any little friend who is a budding musician of any kind!  If they have an appreciation for music, they’ll have an appreciation for this valentine.
I picked up the picks at a local music store.  They were for coin change.
We just stuck the pick on using a 2-sided sticky tab.

 If you like them, they are all yours!

They come 2 on a sheet for easy printing of a standard sheet size of 8.5″ x 11″ of heavy stock paper. Just cut along the center line for two!
So the individual valentines are about 8.5″ x 5.5″.  Yes a little large, to accommodate the socks and straws.

>>>>>>  You can get all of these printables HERE. <<<<<<

Click on the one you want.  Then look for options for actions, download to your computer, and print them from there.
(Any problems, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll see if I can help you.)
You can also share this offer on Pinterest or your other social networks for me, using the image below.

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ENJOY! 
- Laura -

A Christmas Cards Display Idea

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 When the Christmas season arrives every year, and the cards start coming in the mail, what do you do with them?  Do you just put them in a pile and let them stack up? Or do you like to display them somehow, for all to see?  If you display them, how do you manage that? I bet you all have had some pretty creative ideas yourselves.

We’ve had a few solution ideas of our own over the years, for the Christmas cards we gratefully get in the mail. Way back, we just put them in a beautiful Christmas basket. That was kind of sad though, as we know many are really excited about their cards every year, and we’d hate for them to be hidden. Especially the ones with photos of kids and families, or the special notes.
We’ve also just tied a pretty ribbon across a beam in our main living area, and let them hang on that.
Getting more creative still, for a few years, we stood a white folding accordion door in the corner of the room, and the louvers (slats) worked beautifully for hanging cards. Of course, like with the string idea, the vertical cards hung horizontally. It was still a nice way to display everyone’s cards though. 

Last year though, I came up with a new idea, that I think we’ll stick with for some time. It’s very homemade and rustic, and I just love it.
Take a look . . . .

01_Christmas-cards-display-idea What do you think? 
It was actually just a long scrap of plywood we had on hand. (Repurposing at it’s best!).  
This one happens to be about 11″x 76″.   You can use any similar long board though.  You just want to be sure it is thin enough to be able to clamp clothespins on.

03_Christmas-cards-display-idea We also used some rough rope, in which I intertwined some thin satin rope around, just to add some pretty to the rough look.
The roping is mostly for decorative purposes, though. It will hold some horizontal cards well enough, but if it slides, it knocks other down. And that’s just frustrating.
I like the look of the clothespins, and it helps secure the cards of all sizes.

02_Christmas-cards-display-idea So this scrap board was painted white and then rough sanded. I didn’t put a lot of effort into that wood-finishing part at all, because really….I was hopeful that if enough people thought of us whilst filling out their Christmas cards, most of that board would be covered, anyway.  ;)
The scrap blocks of wood (you see) on the back, at the top and bottom of the board, not only add stability to the board for it to sit well on the floor and lean against the wall.  There is a notch cut at the top and bottom of the board, for the rope to wrap around to the other side inset, and then there is hole through the block for the rope to go though and be secured to the other side. It sounds complicated, but it really is simple in design.  Sorry I forgot to get a pic of the back side for you. If you are confused and  have a question on this, go ahead and ask in the comments.
04_Christmas-cards-display-idea Completely optional tidbit:  I soaked my clothespins in tea water overnight, to try and antique them some. It worked; but honestly, it’s too subtle for the effort in my opinion. Maybe I did it wrong?
I think at some point I will take these clothespins, and revert to what always works beautifully for me; a touch of my Annie Sloane Dark Wax. Love-that-stuff!

05_Christmas-cards-display-idea To really dress up the top, I added these large rusted-looking jingle bells, hung with twine. I love jingle bells! 

CONSIDER THIS:  You could use this whole idea, and change the whole style of it depending on how you finish it and what you use as detail elements!
For example: paint a smooth new board with a clean white paint, omit the sanding, putty and paint your screw holes, and use a wide frilly ribbon down the board, with a big fancy bow at the top!

06_Christmas-cards-display-idea But the rustic, farmhouse look suits us just fine.

07_Christmas-cards-display-idea Yes, just another crazy idea, from our house to yours! 
If you love it, bookmark it! You could try the idea yourself this year or some other coming year. Or simply share it with your friends who follow you on your social networks.  They’ll love you for it.
  And hey, while your here, say hello, and share your thoughts.

Hope your homes are feeling a little bit of your Christmas love!
These are the little things that make any house, a home, for the ones you love.
~Laura

Reversible Fall toThanksgiving Home Decor Blocks Craft Tutorial

 I’ve got one last Fall-themed project to share with you this season, before I move on.
You may remember I shared these happy Fall blocks in this post, in which I was giving you a little close-up tour of my Fall mantels. I mentioned that I had made these blocks, that they were more versatile than they appeared, and that I would share why when I got to that project post.

Well this is that post!

01_Fall-Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial Here are the blocks already shown to you.   They were created to look well worn, long loved, and a bit old.
Just how I like everything.  :)

And shown here, are the blocks backsides . . . .
13_Give-Thanks-Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial I made the block to transition from every day Fall, to a Thanksgiving-themed message for those weeks in November.
What do you think?  Nice surprise? Good idea?  I was thinking so!

They are really simple to make.  I just found making these blocks fun and relaxing.
I tend to get a little Zen, working in my studio anyway.
So if you think you’d like to make some, sometime, I’m going to show you just how I did it, right now.

02_bare-wooden-block I started out with 10 blocks, just like these.
Well, actually, I started out with 8 blocks just like these. Then 9. And finally 10. But that is a frustrating story I’ll tell you about later on.   But the project took 10 blocks, anyway.
These simple wooden blocks come in various sizes; these are the 2″ blocks.   I got them at A.C. Moore’s. They are not available at my local Michael’s, anyway.
They are smooth and finished-feeling on 4 sides, except for what I considered the tops and bottoms.

03_brightly-colored-painted-blocks I chose my favorite Fall hues of acrylic paint, and painted them all. They did take two coats.

04 Next I had Michael cut two inch letters out of vinyl, and weeded out the letters.

05 After covering that sheet with transfer tape, I cut each letter block to size.

06 Peeling off the back, I then applied them well to a face of each block, one at a time with a squeegee, and pulled off the transfer . 
It was important to make sure the rough surfaces were not used. The vinyl would work as a mask.

07 I had a pile of scraps that looked like I had been working really hard, so I photographed it, and left it for awhile. :)

08_white-paint-on-paintbrush White acrylic paint and flat brush, ready to go.

09 All painted in.  I think it required two coats.

10 Before the second coat dried all of the way, I carefully peeled off the mask.
Now while painting them was rather enjoyable for me, these next steps are the part I really love to do….
11 But I didn’t really photograph those steps. :/  Sorry!   It’s easy enough to tell you about though. 
I’m talking about sanding and aging the blocks.
To sand, I used 100 grit sand paper on a sanding block. I use the sanding block because it keeps my sanding surface flat and hard, for my uniform sanding.  Also, it’s a lot easier on my fingers, which get torn up very easily.  Where do I sand?  I like to hit the surface, to wear that a little. But I really go at the edges and corners, where they would normally wear the most.
But after sanding, we are left with clean, bare new wood. Not good, for antique blocks. Right?
So next I rub around some dark wax, with an old t-shirt rag.  I-love-this-stuff! It really does age the look of the paint, and just dirty things up just right.
You rub it on and essentially, rub it back off to. While working not as hard to get it off, where you want to leave more.
Make sense?  The stuff is messy, as you might guess from that rag up there. And it stinks to high Heaven. But, somehow I don’t mind it much, working with it. It’s like the smell of creativity, at work!

Here’s a closer look at the effects of my sanding and waxing . . . .
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And now, my blocks all on display . . . .
13_Give-Thanks-Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial Ta-DAAA!!!  I was so happy not to have to put my blocks away, to make room for some Thanksgiving decor.
I’m already pondering making more block sets for other holidays and seasons. In fact, actually, I already have a set for spring (in a very different finishing style and size) I made last year and never shared. I plan to come spring though.
But, back to the here and now.

14_Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial Of course, you can set up your blocks, and utilize them in any way you’d like.  Here is another arrangement I played with.

Because it’s the details I worked so hard for (in a fun/playing sort of way), that make these blocks look like maybe one of our grandmothers passed them down to us, I couldn’t stop photographing them . . . .
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16 Ok enough of that. Now, you can skip this little story-paragraph if you want, right down to after the next photo.
But I’d like to explain the story of the 10th block:  For weeks, I only had 8, and then 9, blocks. Because that’s all there was at the store!  In fact the first trip, I bought none, because there wasn’t enough to spell what I wanted!  I needed 10 to do this project. I inquired though, and the lady assured me that if they were low, more was coming in the next day. So I returned the next day, and there were still only 8!!  So I figured…I need to buy those, so they be sure to get more! (Because supposedly, it’s all electronic.) 
Next trip, the bin there was still empty. I was desperate!! So I plopped down on the floor and pulled out all of the other sized blocks onto the floor, hoping to find some 2″ers  in the wrong bin.
And I found ONE!!  ARRGGG!!  So I worked with the 9 I had. I got those all done, and had enough to make my HAPPY FALL.  But I’d need that last one to complete GIVE THANKS.  
Finally, a new shipment of them came in, and I got my last block, which I did start to finish, all by itself, just in time. It was the “A” in THANKS.

What to do with the other side? . . . .

17 I made an exclamation point!  To use from then on, with my HAPPY FALL(!).  Because if you all know me, you know it’s worthy of an exclamation point.  I do love Fall, that much!

If you love what I’ve done here, believe me when I say, (if you have a vinyl cutter of any kind), you can do this!  And if not, other crafters will love you for sharing the idea! 

So go ahead and PIN the image below on Pinterest!

Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial
That’s a wrap for projects for this season this year. ( I think. ;)  )   Time to start thinking about Christmas!
Thanks for making my day, and coming by!  Hope you take a moment to share your thoughts, and say hello!
~Laura