january organizing.

what is it about january that makes you want to pull everything out of your house, either clean it or get rid of it & then put it back all beautifully organized & color-coded? maybe it's just me. i usually get a major cleaning & organizing bug right after christmas instead of at 'spring cleaning' time. this year, yet again, there's a bit of baby nesting in the mix- 6 weeks or less to go!

this is actually a project i did a few months ago before we moved, but january felt like a good time to share it in case the organizing bug has bitten you too. remember when i labeled all our kiddo crafty stuff? that's when i discovered this cool organizer/container that my dad's wife [a jewelry designer] was using to store her bead projects-in-progress. it is a "photo and craft keeper," essentially a plastic suitcase with a handle full of little removable sections made for 4x6 photos. each section & the whole suitcase itself snaps together really securely! i immediately started thinking about all the things that could be organized in it...

i held my breath the first time i tried to put one of the chunkier puzzles in a little section- i'm just ocd enough to be annoyed by one puzzle having to live somewhere else when all of the rest of them are nicely organized in one container!

it has even held the 100 piece ones we usually get at the dollar tree. i tear off the edge of the box that shows the finished picture & the number of pieces- you can tuck it right into the section with the puzzle. and kiddos can take one puzzle out at a time to work on it rather than dumping all the puzzles into a big ridiculous mess of lost pieces.
currently ours is storing 5 sets of flashcards & memory/matching card games, 6 puzzles & we still have 5 empty slots to fill as we need them! that's way better than a bunch of torn up cardboard boxes that the puzzles come in, constantly losing pieces & trying to organize those boxes neatly in one place.

my favorite part? it fits perfectly on the shelf of an expedit. you could even fit 2 side by side!

see it hiding there on the top right cube at our old house?

i'm kind-of hoarding these little suitcase containers now- i get them at michael's with a 40% off coupon. i have this one in the playroom, have already gotten one to use for my own jewelry & beading project-in-progress & i'm thinking about getting one to start getting our photos out of cardboard boxes & at least protected, if not organized. but i know the photos will probably take several containers, so i haven't even started on that!

maybe next january...


10 crafty things i always buy at the dollar tree!

i figured while everybody is jumping on the january organizing bandwagon, i'd share some of my favorite dollar store finds while you're there getting organizing stuff! i admit, i'm particular about my dollar store shopping... it has to be the dollar tree! i'm almost always pleased with their quality & they have a good variety of regular stuff & a few surprises for each season. it's not unusual to find dollar tree bags hanging out in my car or on my table when i come home from a 'supplies' trip!

here are the 10 things that seem to always follow me home from the dollar store:

1- wreath forms
these are a little skinny & always need some fluffage to make them really nice & full, but they are oh so much cheaper than the ones at craft stores! there is just so much possibility for all the things you can glue to them to fatten them up & bring them to wreath-y wonderfulness. i can't help but keep 4 or 5 of these wicker wonders hanging on a hook in my craft room basically at all times! [sometimes they have small foam ones, but i find those to be much more illusive.]

here are some wreaths i've made with dollar tree bases:
fabric covered egg wreath:
scalloped paper lunch bag wreath:

snowball pom pom wreath:

2- metal hooks
i'm not sure if these are a new item or not, but i feel like i just recently discovered them... & oh the ideas i have swarming with them! they're only $1 & they come in gold & silver, but you can spray paint them pretty much any color [including oil rubbed bronze] to make them look much pricier than they are. stay tuned for a couple of fun projects i have in mind for these!

3- foam stickers
these are a quick & easy 'good behavior' treat that i can let my kiddos pick out- & they love them! they have a good variety [we've even come across the glitter ones!] in a quantity that would be much more expensive in the big craft stores. besides just using them as stickers, we also made tiny foam stampers out of them!

4- sidewalk chalk
both my kids super big puffy heart love sidewalk chalk & i like having another great non-candy snack i can indulge them in when they've been good on an errand trip. i actually like the soft texture of them better than the more expensive brands like crayola & it comes in little 4 packs of 4 sticks for just a buck! we keep it in a big bucket with our porch/backyard toys & i've even used it on my dining room chalkboard.

5- kiddo craft supplies
in addition to sidewalk chalk, they also carry lots of other great crafty supplies for kiddos! pom poms, foam shapes, shaped sponges, paint brushes, wood shapes, picture frames, markers, crayons, & notebooks are all things we've bought one time or another! it's easy to put several together to give as toddler craft kit gifts! you don't have to feel bad about amassing a great kiddo crafting stash when the whole thing cost just a few bucks.
almost all the same things also work great for operation christmas child boxes, if your family does those! this has become one of our favorite ministries & traditions, we try to do them every year & always have a funny story. it becomes even more fun as our kids start to understand why we do them!

6- other 'hardware' stuff!
it seems like every time i'm there, there's something else that jumps out at me from the hardware section of the aisle- cotton twine, a little spool of jute, clothespins, floral tape, & non-slip rug mats! there's lots of fun things you can think outside the box with- here is a ribbon chandelier i made out of a dollar tree wire trash can!

6- glass vases
the internets are literally overflowing with seasonal & special occasion centerpieces/decor to be made on the cheap with dollar store glass vases! seriously, a quick search will bring up at least eleventy billion [actual statistic]. here are some projects i've made with them:
candy cane vase

easy mantle decor -just add branches & twinkly lights! or table decor!

pinterest-inspired cupcake liner storage

7- baskets! all kinds of baskets/bins/buckets.
dollar tree has come through for me about a billion times when it comes to needing an inexpensive way to store multiple little things in different places. we have their plastic baskets organizing something in almost every room of the house!
they're especially great for kids' rooms, not only since they usually have all the little trinket-y stuff, but also because they come in so many pretty colors! here are a few examples:

8- lots of seasonal decor!
dollar tree has some tried & true favorites they bring back every year, but they also have a couple of surprise elements each year. here are some things i've made seasonal crafts with from the dollar tree in the past:

styrofoam floral supplies into flippy bookpage trees

cardboard party hats into winter table trees

cheapo garland & glitter snowflake into christmas porch trees

styrofoam pumpkins into painted twine pumpkins

9- clothespins & thumbtacks
pinterest is absolutely brimming with cute clothespin ideas- i use them for lots of little jobs around the house. both kinds of thumbtacks are ready & waiting at the dollar tree- the clear plastic tipped ones that i use in a pinch to hang lightweight things on the wall & the flat gold ones that look like nailheads.

the clothespin wreath i made was a fun project, all you need is ribbon, and embroidery hoop & clothespins:

this is a clear thumbtack that somehow accidentally got hit with some spray paint, but you know what i mean:

you can line the edges of a fabric-wrapped cork board to fancy it up:

you can even cut off the pointy part of the tack & hot glue them on if need be, like i did for my front door diy  barn star:

10- birthday & party favor supplies!
the dollar tree especially is a great place for party supplies- they have themed plates/napkins/utensils etc but usually i just stick to the solid colored ones in a coordinating color. that keeps the party from being too character/themed & you can also use the leftovers for other parties or get togethers later. i've also had good luck with their gift wrap and candy/baked goods giving baggies.
very related to kiddo crafty supplies, the dollar tree is also my first stop when it comes to party favors [& some decor!] for my kids' birthday parties. almost every party i've done so far, if it has had a party favor, the stuff in it & even the container has usually been from dollar tree! 2 exceptions were my daughter's sweet shop party where the favors were just bags of serve-yourself candy & my son's bear party where the favors were little stuffed bears from target's dollar spot.

ps- i was not paid or perked for writing the above... just love me some dollar tree! i also love the target 'dollar spot' & other places like dollar general for fun crafty decor & seasonal cheap stuff. [although, i noticed the other day that target's dollar spot used to have things either for $1 or $2.50 & now they've raised the $2.50 stuff to $3. bummer! they must be catching on to us thrifty crafters!]


pillow ideas!

pillow tutorials abound in the crafty world, & it really is true that they're a super quick, easy & fun simple sewing project that can totally spruce up a room! the problem i have though, is that if i'm going to take the time to make a pillow, i want it to be sturdy & washable & not the simple envelope closure style- i want a zipper.

zippers intimidate me. thus, my problem.

our living room has a set of very neutral beige colored sofas. i've been wanting to spruce them up with lots of pillows with a mix of bright patterns & some fun typography [big letters or numbers] for probably years now.  i also keep holding out hope that i'll find just the right thing for almost-free on some magical clearance rack somewhere. it's actually probably good that i haven't taken the plunge yet, because pillows seem to be a thing i change my mind on quite frequently design-wise & i just can't bring myself to pay $25 per pillow, even though that's reasonable for just one.

i did make this one little leafy guy that i love the look of, but i made it with thin quilting cotton & you got it... an envelope closure. i've been planning for forever to go back & add some batting [so the feathers of the feather pillow inside don't keep coming out] & a zipper in the back [so the cover will actually stay on the pillow. details.]
in our pre-move home tour a few months ago, you probably saw the darker green velvety pillows i paired with it- an $8 each target impulse buy- which were also fun when we got the 2 matching vintage arm chairs on craigslist.
the green ones aren't removable covers, but have washed well & are starting to show some lumpy beat up signs of wear thanks to living [mostly on the floor] amongst our toddlers for a few years now.

so yes, time for new pillows!

here are some ideas i've found that i really love the look of. i think i've decided that a big mix of just one of each different bright color & pattern is more fun than a bunch of matching pairs. i'm not bothering with links to sources because almost none of them are still available [they can all be found on my pinterest 'pretty to make' board though].
this one's originally from joss & main & i think could be made with a few strips of cute fabric & burlap [although i'd use unbleached cotton or even a cotton canvas drop cloth for pillows since it's softer & washes better]. you could use any color or pattern & i think that solid strip would be cute done with ribbon!
this one's no longer available at land's end, but could very easily be done with cotton canvas, some fabric paint & a round stenciling sponge [similar to this lampshade].
this one's no longer available at target, but i was thinking, again, cotton canvas + fabric paint + a large stencil of some sort? i've seen this 'cathedral' one by martha stewart in person at michael's & i think it could work pretty well! the tricky thing would be finding/mixing fabric paint in that gorgeous mustard yellow shade.
i originally pinned this thinking it would be cute for my daughter's room. for the living room i wouldn't go hot pink, although a coral color could be nice for spring! this would be easy to do with a pre-made solid pillow that you could find inexpensively at a discount store- then just add your burlap letter or number appliques with heat n bond & stitch around them!
full tutorial at bhg.com
this one is just a printed panel on fabric that runs through your home printer with 4 solid strips around the edges. with all the freebie printables on pinterest, can you imagine the endless options? you could do one for every season!
full tutorial at v & co.
the tutorial here is shown on a tote bag, but i think these would be equally cute on a solid pillow! you could use a colorful solid pillow for the background, or stick with the cotton canvas. the heart shape is cut out of freezer paper & ironed on, you could pick any shape or letter/number you wanted! a star with navy & light blue dots would be adorable for a little boy room & your family monogram in a pretty ombre effect of almost any color would be lovely.

i really like the idea of using a canvas painter's drop cloth as a sturdy canvas base to sew sturdy pillows! they're easily available at home depot/lowe's & one drop cloth would make several pillows, or you could try the 'cheater route' [that i'm strongly considering!] with these blank canvas pillows on amazon. places like joann fabric & hobby lobby both sell cotton 'duck' canvas which is the same thing!


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