Tutorial Tuesday # 11 (On Wednesday) - Faux Trees

Since we were snowed in over the weekend, I thought it would be a good time to try a DIY project that I'd had supplies for since way before Christmas. Natalie from the Vintageporch on Instagram shared how she made trees from faux olive branches from Hobby Lobby and since I had everything I needed I thought I'd give them a try.

Here's Natalie's dog Chester with the olive tree she made. If you don't follow Natalie you definitely should. Not only is she super sweet and talented, but I think she is one of the funniest gals on Instagram. Natalie always brightens my day.

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Since so many of my little flocked Christmas trees came wrapped in burlap this year I thought it would be fun to do an olive tree wrapped in burlap, kind of bare root style, if you will. You could totally put them in terra cotta, an olive bucket or a decorative pot, whatever fits your style.

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Here's the same tree in a metal planter that I had

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and an olive bucket from Hobby Lobby.

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You will need three olive stems from Hobby Lobby, (with the 50% off discount they came to $10.50 for the three and they measured about 24" long), a plastic pot to "plant" them in, and a decorative container or a square of burlap just large enough to wrap around and cover the plastic container.

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You will also need plaster of Paris, a small block of Styrofoam, floral wire and floral tape, white glue, paint and coffee grounds.

Glue

To start:

Bundle the three stems together and wire them together securely using 28 or 30 gauge floral wire.

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Next wrap the stems with the floral tape covering the wire.

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Hot glue a piece of Styrofoam in the center of your plastic container and once cool insert the olive stems into the center of the Styrofoam.

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This will keep the stems upright and centered while you add the plaster of Paris.

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Fill your container to the top with the plaster, following the directions on the package. Allow to thoroughly dry. I decided to try and add a bit of texture to the stem so I coated it with white glue and sprinkled the wet glue with coffee grounds. I liked the darker color and the added texture that the grounds created. After that was completely dry I painted the stems with a bit of dark green and burnt umber acrylic paint. You could eliminate this step but I just liked how it added some character and realism to the tree trunk.

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If you cover the base with burlap there is no need to paint the plaster, but if you want the look of exposed dirt, paint the plaster with glue then sprinkle more coffee grounds on the wet surface for the look of potting soil. You can also add paint as you did on the stems and even some moss if you'd like.

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If you are wrapping the base with burlap, add just a bit of stuffing around the pot then tie the burlap with jute twine around the stem. I didn't take of photo of this next step, but you will want to apply the coffee grounds to the stem and paint it before wrapping the base in burlap.

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I had so much fun making the olive tree that I decided to try making a lemon tree from stems I found at Kirkland's. I did this tree exactly like the olive tree and love the pop of color that the fruit adds.

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I hope you found this tutorial helpful and I would love to know if you try these. These little trees create such a bright and cheery spot in your home, especially this time of year when our homes seem to suffer from the wintertime blahs.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tabletop Tuesday - Transitioning from the Holidays into Winter

After the trees are down and Christmas is packed away, I typically like to decorate our main dining table for winter. The house always seems so bare and blah and honestly, the thought of tackling the entire house seems overwhelming to me. Somehow a six foot table just seems more doable. 

I absolutely LOVED the neutral decor that I did this year for Christmas and wasn't quite ready to jump right into the Valentines Day reds and pinks, so I decided to go with a more neutral palette for this transitional tablescape; pulling in natural elements along with tarnished silver and winter whites.   

I found this wooden box on clearance after Christmas at Joanne Fabrics. It had wood dividers so I asked Bill to remove them so I could fill it with plates, candles and silver flatware. I added a faux narcissus that I found at Target for just the slightest nod to Spring.

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            Look #1 - December 28th, 2018

I carried out the vintage postcard and photograph theme from Christmas at each place setting.

 

The wooden chargers and napkins are from Home Goods and my plates are by Pioneer Woman for Walmart. My older twig placemats are from World Market. You can see from the photo below that almost everything is exactly the same as in my Christmas tablescape, proving that you don't have to always buy new pieces. By just adding or subtracting a few key pieces you can get a whole new look without spending much money. 

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I added a few eucalyptus sprigs among the existing cedar for some added texture. 

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        Completed look #1 - December 28th, 2018

I was happy with the way the table looked until I was asked to join some other Instagram accounts for a tour featuring table top decor that showed how we tradition from holiday into winter. I started thinking my table may look too Christmasy, so I subtracted some silver and added winter fruit - citrus. (You can take the gal out of California, but you can't take the California outta the gal). Smileyface

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Did you know that you can't buy ordinary white grapefruit in Kansas? Well, at least I couldn't. I searched three stores and could only find pink grapefruit and I hated how the pink of the grapefruit looked with the yellow lemons so...

CUTIES!! (See how the cuties and grapefruit pull from the pillows on the two chairs in the living room? A happy accident!)

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               Look #2 - January 4th, 2019

Coincidentally I had previously ordered melon striped towels from William Sonoma and they arrived the day I did the photo shoot. I love when things like that happen - another happy accident.

Then... we had a snow storm and I was stuck inside for two days and needed a project, so I created a lemon tree from some lemon branches from Kirklands. (I'll do a blog post on Wednesday to show you how I made this tree along with an olive tree if you're interested).

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         Final look #3 - January 12th, 2019

All in all, I'm very pleased with the way my final look turned out and the best part was that the only real expense was the fruit (which I have been enjoying).

I hope this gives you some ideas on how you can cozy up your home for the winter months ahead, but a word of caution: Tablescapes tend to have a mind of their own and can change - often!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne
 

 


Favorites Friday - Everything but the Bagel Seasoning

Jumping on here really quick to share a current favorite with you all.

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I feel like everyone may already know about this, but just in case you don't, you NEED to try it! I love it on avocado toast and bagels with cream cheese. It just makes ordinary seem so...extra! Lot's of garlic flavor and sooo yum. I even used it as a stocking stuffer at Christmas last year.

Let me know if you've tried it and how you use it. I'd love to know.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Favorites Friday - French Farmhouse Napkins

This is a Friday feature where I share some of my favorite finds.

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I know I'm probably opening up a big ol' can of worms here because we all know that no two Home Goods have the same inventory and sometimes finding what you want at your HG store can be challenging, but I'm just so thrilled with these cloth napkins that I had to share. (Whatever floats your boat, right?)

Anyway, If you're a cloth napkin kind of gal like me you may want to be on the look out for these darling ruffled French Farmhouse styled cotton napkins from Home Goods.

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If you've been following along with my Tabletop Tuesday posts over on Instagram you know how I love to set a pretty table which always includes cloth napkins. The problem is, most cloth napkins need to be ironed. Since these are made of a flour sack type fabric they have a very relaxed, casual feel and best of all they look fantastic right out of the dryer!

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These measure 19" X 19", are 100% cotton and a pack of 12 is just $16.99 - that's just a little over $1.40 each! (I hate to admit that I've paid as much as $9 for one napkin at Pottery Barn and they always have to be ironed!) Cry


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For me, these fabulous cloth napkins are a game changer. I just wanted you to know.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tutorial Tuesday #10 - Scalloped Edged Kitchen Towels

I'm sure there must be a dozen ways to add a scalloped fabric strip to a towel but I'm going to share with you how I did it. I wanted this project to be fast and fuss free and honestly, I just made it up as I went - never dreaming anyone would ask me for directions. Now that you have, here's how I did them:

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I recently found these darling kitchen towels at World Market and thought they would be sweet with a fabric band across the bottom and maybe some rick rack and a few buttons. They are precious as is but since I love to embellish, I wanted to add something to give them more of a handmade look and I thought the scallops just made them a little more fun than a plain, straight band. This time of year we are always in need of a hostess gift or something small for a neighbor. Added to a tray of cookies I think these would make a perfect inexpensive gift.

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The first thing I usually do after purchasing my towels is to dig into my fabric stash and audition some creative possibilities. I've found taking a quick photo with my phone gives me a good first impression of how it will all look together.

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Once you've made your selection you'll need a strip of fabric about 10" wide by 22" long or two strips 5" wide by 22" long. (I was using scraps so I sometimes had to have a seam across the top instead of the preferred fold).

If you don't already own Lori Holt's Circle Rulers you might want to put them on your Christmas list. I find myself reaching for these so often (I use the larger  9" one for my round Mug Rugs and the loong overdue second part of that tutorial is up next - I promise).

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Making the paper pattern:

For those of you that don't have the Circle Rulers I've come up with a way to make the scallops with a Solo cup (you could also use a clear drinking glass). You will need a 4" circle for this project (although really any size can work - that's just the size I used here). 

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In the photo above you can see that I cut the white rim from a Solo cup (you'll want to be able to see the center of your circle so cutting it away helps that). I was trying to replicate the Circle Ruler, so I marked the horizontal and vertical lines with a sharpie on the plastic rim. You will need these marks later to make your scallops.

You can see in the photo below more clearly the marks I made. I think the easiest way to do that is to draw intersecting lines on paper, then center the circular rim on the lines and mark the four quarters. As you can see, the Circle Ruler has done all that for you, plus it has a center mark, so it just eliminates all that work. Dear Santa... Smiley

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I then taped two sheets of legal sized copy paper together so that they would be slightly longer than my towel was wide (24") then I cut the long strip of paper 4 1/2" deep and ended up with a strip of paper 24" X 4 1/2". Graph paper would be great here, but I didn't have any).

Next I folded the paper strip in half and drew a line down the middle 2" from the bottom edge*. see note at the end of this post

Starting at the fold I marked a quarter circle. Notice how the vertical marks line up with the fold and the horizontal marks line up to the line down the middle.

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Next I marked the second scallop but learned the hard way to leave a 1/4" space between the scallops. Your scallops will not lay flat if they don't have this space between them (at least mine didn't). Cry

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Continue to mark your scallops on the paper. You should have a total of two and a half scallops from the fold.

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Next you will cut the paper scallops on the drawn line. It should look like this when opened - a total of five full scallops plus those little tabs at the ends.

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Once the pattern is made you're ready to sew. Remember this pattern can be used over and over so although it takes a few minutes to make, the whole project goes quickly once it's done.

Sewing:

Pin your paper pattern to your fabric with right sides together. If you had fabric that is 10" wide place the long straight top edge on the fold. Otherwise you will have a seam across that edge. I've done it both ways and it works fine either way.

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Now, simply sew around the paper. No need to trace the pattern. I did shorten my stitch length a bit. 

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Be sure and leave the tab ends open because that's how you'll turn the fabric right side out.

Trim seams 1/8" from stitching lines and clip those spaces between the scallops with a V cut up to the inside points.

Turn right side out through one end and using a Point Turner, coax the seams open. Need an inexpensive little gift for a sewing buddy? This is seriously my favorite sewing notion and has been forever! 

Press.  

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At this point you'll have a finished strip about 4 1/2" wide and slightly longer than your towel with raw edges on each end.

Match the centers of your towel and fabric strip and pin the strip to the towel with the top of the strip at the hem line of the towel.

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Tuck in the extra fabric at each end of the strip and press. The fabric strip should now be the same length as the width of the towel.

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You can now insert rick rack or lace 

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then top stitch close to the edge, connecting the fabric strip and trim to the towel. Top stitch the two folded ends closed.

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You now can add buttons and some hand stitching if you'd like. I think the big stitches add so much but you could certainly top stitch the scallops on the sewing machine if you're short on time.

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*One more thing. You can vary the depth of the scallops by how far up from the bottom of your pattern paper you mark your center line as shown below.

Pattern

You can see the difference in the two patterns below. No right or wrong, just slightly different.

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I sure hope this was clear. I am not a pattern writer (boy could I share stories to prove that fact), but I wanted to share with you how I added the fabric to my towels. Please let me know if you have questions.

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Season's Greetings friends and Merry Christmas!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne




 


Raspberry Walnut Thumbprint Cookies

I've been making these fabulous cookies since our boys were in preschool. It just wouldn't be Christmas without them.

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This is a delicious cookie to add to a cookie tray. They are fun to make and almost fool proof while the dollop of red raspberry jam adds a festive touch. You can find my recipe for the Mini Pecan Tarts here.

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Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Mini Pecan Pies

While going through my recipe boxes for old family recipes to display with my Christmas decor, I came across this one. I've been making it at the holidays for over forty years. These bite sized mini pastries make great gifts for friends and neighbors and are a nice addition to a cookie tray.

Mini pecan pies

I've had some questions about what a cube of butter is. I'm so sorry for the confusion, but mom always called a stick of butter a "cube" of butter so it's not my fault - it's mom's. So, whether you call it a cube or a stick, each one is a quarter pound and that's about what you'll gain around your middle when you eat one of these scrumptious morsels. Now that we've cleared that up...let's B A K E!

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Do you have tried and true family recipes that you make year after year? I'd love to hear about your favorite food traditions.

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Grandma's Christmas Fudge

When I posted this photo on Instagram

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I had no idea so many of you would want the recipe. Grandma called it "See's Fudge" but I'm not sure that is where the original recipe came from. All I know is that it's easy and pretty much fail-proof. This recipe makes about five pounds of fudge so it's a great one to share with neighbors and friends.

Make it with your kids or grand kids and make some yummy memories.

 

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Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tutorial Tuesday #9 - No-Sew Santa Bag Pillows - part 1

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I know it's Wednesday when I'm posting this, but I couldn't wait until next week to show you these darling $2 Santa Sacks that I found yesterday at Michael's.

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How cute are these for just $2 each?! (The Christmas decor at Michaels isn't on sale yet but they will probably put everything on sale in the coming weeks). 

They come in three sizes, (this is the smallest, measuring 7.5" X 10.5") four styles and are made from an unbleached osnaburg type fabric for a farmhouse vibe. I thought they would make fun no-sew projects.

Here's how:

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1. Give the bag a good ironing.

2. Above the line that says "recipient", write with a fabric marker or embroider a name. It would be fun to do a family name or a teachers name as I did here.

3. Add about a cup of Poly-Pellets stuffing beads for weight, then stuff the bag full to the top with poly-fill.

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4. Pull the drawstring closed and carefully hot glue it shut.

5. Add any embellishments that you'd like (optional) holly sprigs, jingle bells etc. then add a gift tag.

That's it, a cute personalized gift for under $5 - done in minutes.

Fun, right?

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 


Tutorial Tuesday #8 - Sewn Silk Velvet Pumpkins

 

A few of you have asked how I made these silk velvet pumpkins so before I move on to Christmas (you know it's coming) I thought I'd do a really quick tutorial here.

First off you guys, I love this silk velvet from prismsilks.com! If you like the luxurious look of these I definitely think this fabric is worth the splurge. Look at their iridescent velvets. So yummy! You will need at least an 18" square of velvet for this size pumpkin so their fat quarters are perfect for a pumpkin like the one below with enough left over for acorns. Get 10% off your order with code "prism16".

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I've learned a lot this fall while making so many pumpkins and wanted to document it here.

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Any size works so use all your scraps and make various sizes. A seven inch round makes those tiny pumpkins like you find in the grocery store.

Using super heavy thread or dental floss, gather 1/4" from the raw edge of your circle. 

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You can fill it completely with pellets if you'd like. Experiment.

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Then finish off with fiberfill.

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Pull your thread tight and sew the opening closed. Knot thread and cut.

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I used a doll needle to sculpt my pumpkin - just pulling the stuffing up toward the top. This is optional since they are cute just as they are.


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Apply hot glue to the dried pumpkin stem and hold it while it dries.

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That's it! It takes about thirty minutes to make one and with the beautiful array of colors of silk velvet that's available, you can make them to match your decor. Because you're using real pumpkin stems, no two will look alike. So fun!

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Don't forget to save your pumpkin stems from this years jack-o-lanterns for next years elegant velvet pumpkins.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne