Monday, April 14, 2014

Getting Creative with Wrapping Paper

I spotted this sassy wrapping paper in the dollar bins at Michael's awhile back, and despite my vow to never buy paper again until what I already have runs know how this ends.

As I was in line waiting to check out, a lovely older woman decided to strike up a conversation. Those of you who know me in real life know that I will talk to anyone. It is a great blessing/horrible curse, depending on where we are and which child you ask. The only exception to this tendency is when I am in a craft store line that could not possibly move any slower, ladies are asking to run to the cars to get their coupons while the cashier "holds on real quick" (!!), and for the love of Benedict Cumberbatch, ARE THERE NO OTHER EMPLOYEES THAT CAN WORK A REGISTER?

Suffice it to say, waiting to check out makes me cranky and mumble back one syllable sounds and grunts instead answers to anyone brave enough to start asking me questions, even if that person has the sweetest of intentions, like the darling great grandmother who stood behind me on this particular day. But something this woman said, clearly oblivious to my non-verbal cues that I was clearly sending off in warning, got me thinking.

"That sure is cute wrapping, but I just can't buy things like that. It would be so hard to use."


Granted, it has flowers, so your 13 year old nephew may not appreciate it's charm (even though cute boy presents are awesome), but other than that, just because it has a busy pattern doesn't mean you can't switch up the way you use it.

And thus a blog post is born. Thank you, darling great grandmother at Michael's. Say hello to your son the pilot for me.

 Eight ways to get creative (with the same paper):

#1. Go the no-brainer route with plain ribbon and a tag

This burlap-y goodness was picked up at Costco during the holidays because I knew full well it could be used all year long. Just because the colors are loud in the paper doesn't mean that you have to keep up the theme. Neutral ribbon (scraps of torn fabric would work too) does wonders to defunkify the whole feel.

 #2. Layer it up with some recycled bags

You know how deep my love is for trashy wrapping. This Braums paper bag is the perfect compliment, without matching too exactly. A tissue paper "flower" is made just like the big ones you hang from the ceiling, but instead of using 8 pieces of tissue paper, cut one sheet into eight equal pieces, stack, fold, wire, and twist onto ribbon.

#3. Put your mail to work

This topper is brought to you by a magazine found shoved below a bed in the boys room. Yes, it's from 2007. Judge me.

{Look at those captions: "Dare to Explore", "Flip Me Over". BEGGING to be used on a bridal shower box.}

#4. Stack on a upcycled box

Cereal boxes are notorious for having brightly colored packaging, which is magically delicious paired with a floral foundation (recycled pillow box tutorial here).

#5. Add on MORE pattern

Because sometimes the more friends you invite the better. A strip of leftover scrapbook paper joins the party and makes a cute little belt,

as does a remnant of Target dollar spot paper. Also pom poms make everything festive. But you already knew that.

#6. Make a medallion

Hey look - there's the rest of that book inspired wrapping paper. In this case, the original wrapping paper is transformed into a rosette (tutorial here), and finished off with a faux bottle cap from the old 2001 scrapbooking embellishment box.

Or you could just pull out the Hello Kitty version that was lost in the back of the craft cabinet, which means it took longer to find the scissors than to wrap this thing from start to finish.

#7. Pop on a pinwheel

This one certainly isn't fancy, but a perfect example that you don't need "scrapbook" paper or cardstock to make a topper. This is a square of construction paper from the kids school stuff. Yet another bottle cap covers up the hot glue, and makes you feel less guilty about hoarding them in the first place. Easy pinwheel tutorial here.

#8. The infamous monogram

Print it out using these directions, or be lazy and trace it on a plain piece of paper right off your computer screen to use as a pattern.

Happy gifting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

updating a bathroom on a budget

How do you spruce up a wood paneled, 1960's era bathroom?

Option #1 = For People With Money Trees

 * Rip everything out

 * Put in a vanity that doesn't wake people up/vibrate/threaten to give up the ghost every time you open the cabinet doors

 * Install a lovely new RUST FREE sink 
(but only one...I can't give up 8 feet of counter space for a second sink that would never get used)

* New lighting, mirror, shower get the idea

I consider myself a pretty seasoned DIY'er with a husband that can lift heavy stuff {don't laugh - that comes in handy}, but even using my bargain finding and repurposing super powers, all that's gonna come in at least a couple hundred dollars, on the conservative side, or well over $1000 on the realistic high side.

Who's got a few hundred dollars laying around?

{no really, let me know...I'd love to meet you}

Option #2 = The Festivus for the Rest of Us

And it involves one word: paint.

Oops, I lied. 

TWO words: paint and brush.

{Ideally, when painting wood a dark color, use tinted primer so that your paint
doesn't have to go over bright white, but since when are projects ever ideal?
When there's a whole house of paneling to deal with, whatever is in the garage is good enough.}

That low quality photo was taken weeks after we moved in back in 2008. Here we are six years later. I still loved the warm hue, but after painting out the bedroom last summer (that I'll get around to talking about eventually), the color just read too yellow.

A fresh coat of Glidden's Forest Khaki did the trick. Of course with no natural light, it's hard to tell in photos, but here's the take away: small tweaks make a big difference in the way a room feels.

A piece of wrapping paper from Paper Source (it's here online too) makes for some nearly free art, adding some happy color to an otherwise neutral room.

It's nothing fancy, just the way I like it.
If you look closely you can still see the metal plate that covers up the hole in the soffit
from where the raccoons had to be cut out (I told you I'm behind on posting).  
The design experts say a room should always tell your story...

The total cost for a less dreary, more cheery update: 

some paint and this $17 outdoor rug.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

the paradox of blogging

 To answer some questions:

- I'm not dead. At least as of right now.

- I never thought an "office job" would fulfill me as much as it has. If you get a message on your phone from your State Farm agent and it's some girl singing Happy Birthday, you're welcome. My boss said we need to call people on their special day, I say they also need a song. On a related side note, I may have to start bringing my ukelele to work.

- I haven't been spending way too much time watching every version of anything Jane Austen available on Netflix. Wait...yes I have. But in my defense, what else are you supposed to do late at night while your husband is out of town for what feels like an eternity? Plus who knows when we're going to get another season of Sherlock. A girl has gotta make do.

Here's the thing. As much as I love to be out and about, both online and in real life, there is a huge part of me that doesn't. I'm the most introverted extrovert you ever did meet.

We talked about it last year, and it still holds true more than ever: this blogging thing is a strange creature. The sad truth is that I can't remember life before it. It's been six years, and as much as I vow that I can walk away because everything has been said, there is this nagging. This internal tug that IRRITATES ME TO NO END because the more it's ignored, the harder it pulls. I've come to realize that I spend *more* energy trying to tell my brain to shut up all ready than if I would just pop in once a week and get it over with. That sounds frighteningly like someone who needs an intervention and placement in a 12 step program, doesn't it?

"The emotional obsession is described as the cognitive processes that cause the individual to repeat the compulsive behavior after some period of abstinence, either knowing that the result will be an inability to stop or operating under the delusion that the result will be different." ~AA


Anybody out there know how to fix this?

This book had been sitting on my shelf for awhile, and as I walked out the door to take the boys swimming at our local rec center one Saturday afternoon, I shoved it in my purse to pass the time. It was all fun and games until these words slapped me in the face.

"It takes work to show up, to be present, to engage your ideas and escort them with love and attention from seedling to full grown, leafy, living art. But don't be fooled- it takes work to ignore it too. And that work can be just as painful, if not more so- running from the voice, hiding from the inspiration, denying the way you were made, pretending you don't care about the art. Are you going to do the work of hiding, or are you willing to show up and do the work of the art?"

{A Million Little Ways, by Emily Freeman}

I'm not a crier by any stretch of the imagination, but oh did the tears well up and spill over onto those pages. Followed by feelings of sadness. Anger. Determination. And defeat. All wrapped up in one big emotional cocktail that I still haven't figured out how to swallow.

I look in my post editor and see rough drafts full of things that don't matter. The brief, intentional times I wade into the waters of Pinterest leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth that there is nothing left under the sun that hasn't been beaten to death already. It sickens me to be guilty of adding to all that superfluous noise that we shouldn't even be listening to in the first place. How can somebody contribute to that which they despise?

And then sound of my email notification goes off, and it's someone asking about what to do with ugly paneling in a bathroom, and my spirit stirs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

DIY free necklace under 5 minutes

Sometimes you start a new job and finally get to wear all those chunky $10 necklaces that you've collected over the years. And it makes you so happy.

(remnants of a painted around ikea coat hook rack)

Until you have to untangle the blasted things every morning because you're kind of a SHOVE-r IN-er, and the thin top dresser drawer you use just isn't meant to hold that kind of cargo.


You pull out a piece of that old, scrap wood from your garage hoard, and nail it to the wall. Then you stagger tiny nails every few inches, and load it up.

This probably wouldn't work so well if you had fancy jewelry, or preferred delicate chains instead of sassy baubles, but since there is absolutely zero chance of that ever happening, it looks like I've finally found "a system."

(The two R's = Roger and Rebecca, not "Rest and Relaxation", although who doesn't want that...)

How do you organize your necklaces?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

gift wrap ideas for kids

 There are exactly four things more fun than wrapping up a present for a child,
but one isn't legal and the rest are inappropriate to share.

And when I say "child" that includes the teens too. 17 year old zebra lover? Done.

14 year old Big Mac addict and McRib connoisseur? Easy.

With adults it can be a challenge to lock onto an interest to inspire your presentation, but with the younger bunch, it's often on the birthday invitation itself.

Club Penguin hasn't been played for years in this house, but when Hayden came home with a Penguin Party invite, the excitement returned. Especially once we decided that the gift would be a gumball machine.

Instead of trying to fit it into a box, we just worked with what we had: the perfect shape for a little non-flying friend. The whole thing was wrapped in paper, crumpling the excess to the back and hot gluing so it stayed put, and then two "wings" were created with some sandwiched wire taped between two pieces of glued together wrapping paper.

Freehanded belly, eyes, and beak. Perfection certainly isn't the goal here, especially when you're knocking it out 20 minutes before the party starts.
Who even cares how the back looks when you've got a face like this?
Some googly eyes hot glued onto a rainbow pom create an instant Puffle sidekick because why not.

Princess parties are the perfect opportunity to use up that leftover Dollar Store "Christmas" paper and "Holiday" ribbon. Cut out a tag from the scraps of that bottom paper, hot glue on top, and you're the Belle of the Birthday Ball.

When brainstorming for a Phineas and Ferb shindig, I stumbled across this tutorial for a Perry the Platypus treasure box. Not exactly what we wanted, but only a fool would turn down a free template.

The peacocky wrapping paper is close enough for our purposes, and the other body parts (eeewwww) are scraps of cardstock.With bonus mostly straight marker-ed on texture.

Fun to play with,

and fun to give.

This month people have gotten so creative with making "Valentine Day boxes" for school, which could be translated splendidly into gift wrapping (no cut out holes for love notes required).

Angry Birds from the brilliant Kids & Glitter

Despicable Me minion from Instructables (DUCT TAPE for the win)

Construction paper Ninjago {source unknown...if it's yours let me know}

Or maybe you've got some plain bags laying around that need some fancying up.  Give the kids a sharpie and let them at it. Just keep them away from the couch.

{source also unknown - please claim it}

Got some photos of fun birthday gifts? I'd love to see them.


Today my sweet as sugar/tough as nails Camden turns 12, and the perfect too-cool-for-school (and birthday fuss) gift for him? A bit o' trash wrapping from magazine pages.