January 24, 2014

A Winter ONEderland Birthday Party

My baby girl celebrated her first birthday a few weeks ago, so you know I got all crafty for her party. I figure this is the only year I'll get to decide on a theme (I have visions of purple horses and princess butterflies as themes for future parties). Since she's a winter baby and the theme is all too perfect, 'Winter ONEderland' it was. There are a ton of cute decorations and ideas on this theme on Etsy, which I was very tempted to do...but I wanted to be crafty and spend as little money as possible.

The party colors were going to be pink and silver, so that was my starting point for decorations. A trip to Michaels for scrapbook paper inspiration led me to these fun pink and gray patterns. I bought some matching solid color stock as well for the lettering panels. Total cost for 8 sheets of paper was under $5. I then made two templates (from a cereal box) - one for the larger triangle on patterned paper and one for the smaller triangle on solid color paper.

Making birthday pennants for ONEderland party  | A Crafty Wife

I opted to hand write the letters on each flag with a Sharpie for simplicity and time's sake. Then, using a sharpened pencil, I poked a hole in the upper corners for the ribbon to go through. 

Poke hole with pencil for ribbon to go through on ONEderland birthday bunting pennants | A Crafty Wife

I happened to have some white rope-like ribbon and used that, but you could use anything. A little threading and they were done!

Patterned scrapbook paper in party theme colors  | A Crafty Wife

For extra decoration, I made smaller flags with the leftover paper and hand threaded these with a needle and thread, alternating the paper colors/patterns randomly. I made about 8 of these to hang around the dining room and kitchen during the party to tie everything together.

Make smaller pennants for table decorations, high chair, and wall decoratinos for ONEderland party | A Crafty Wife

Can you believe I didn't even get a good photo of the finished birthday banner? You can see part of it in the background here behind peewee. The mini-flags are also on her high chair tray, although they look pretty ragged in this shot.

Winter ONEderland birthday girl and pennants | A Crafty Wife

Besides the baby, the highlight of the party (any party) is always the food. I wanted everything to tie back to the Winter ONEderland theme, be easy to eat (read: finger food), and not break the bank. I did a lot of searching on Pinterest for clever food (and some decor) ideas (like this and this and this). Here was our final spread.

Winter ONEderland first birthday party food spread ideas | A Crafty Wife

Snowman parts, reindeer snacks, cold cuts, snow covered strawberries (they were supposed to be dipped in white chocolate, but I burned it during the melting process so it ended up being drizzled), cheese ball snowman, Santa's B-Team (meatballs - think about it. Wink wink), chicken & tuna salad snowiches (sandwiches cut with snowflake and snowman cookie cutters), and pigs in a blanket.

Winter ONEderland first birthday food- snowman parts | A Crafty Wife
Winter ONEderland first birthday food - reindeer snacks, cold cuts, snow covered strawberries | A Crafty Wife
Winter ONEderland first birthday food - cheesy snowman, Santa's B team | A Crafty Wife
Winter ONEderland first birthday food - Chicken and tuna salad snowiches | A Crafty Wife

For beverages, we had melted snow and melted yellow snow (a thematic favorite), Coke/Diet Coke/Cherry Coke, and hot cocoa with toppings and adult additives. 

Winter ONEderland first birthday food - hot chocolate bar, melted snow, melted yellow snow | A Crafty Wife

It may not be the prettiest Winter ONEderland first birthday party on Pinterest, but I had a fun time making everything, and our guests seemed to enjoy themselves. Happy Birthday to our little girl (and to this mama)!

January 17, 2014

Best Homemade Gift Ever

This by far was the best gift I made for Christmas this past year, and it's something anybody can do. It can be totally customized into anything you want - personal, funny, thematic and is perfect for any holiday or gift-giving occasion: photo magnets.

Photo magnets make wonderful personalized gifts for Christmas, holidays, anniversary, birthday, Mother's Day | A Crafty Wife

There are smartphone apps out there that will let you make magnets from Instagram photos, but my best photos are not from Instagram, so I thought I could tackle these myself. These 2" x 2" mini-canvases and tacky (self adhesive!) magnetic dots are from Michaels. The canvases come in a bunch of sizes and in black or white. I debated between the 3" x 3" and these 2" ones - in the end I'm glad I went with 2" because the 3" ones are a little too big for fridge magnets (especially once you have a dozen on the fridge!)

Blank 3x3 canvases and Aleene's tacky magnets for photo magnets | A Crafty Wife

I use Picasa at home to manage my photos, so I went through and selected my 12 favorites from my daughter's first year. I used Photoshop to size them to 2" x 2" each and formatted the page so I could print 6 pictures in a 4" x 6" standard photo size. If you don't have Photoshop, you could make this work in PowerPoint or Word with some finagling. I uploaded these to our local Walgreens to have printed (if you have a photo printer you could just print these at home).

Size photos to fit on canvas and print at local drug store | A Crafty Wife

I carefully cut each photo out using a Xacto knife and ruler (sidebar - this pink Xacto cutting mat from Walmart is the best $10 I ever spent on craft supplies) so that each photo was just barely smaller than the front of the canvas. Some of the canvases were a bit irregular, so I did have to test each one to make sure it would fit.

Use Mod Podge to glue photos to canvas for photo magnets  | A Crafty Wife

A little Mod Podge on the back of each photo and careful pressure to make sure it would stick to the canvas and voila!

Use Mod Podge to attach photos to canvas for photo magnets  | A Crafty Wife

I let the Mod Podge dry for a good hour or so just to make sure everything was set. Then the easiest part of the entire project was putting on the magnets. The backs have adhesive on them already so it was a simple peel and stick in the center of each canvas back. You'll notice I also added the date each photo was taken to the back of the canvases.

Aleene's tacky magnets are easy to attach to photo magnets  | A Crafty Wife

I found some really cute lacquer boxes at Target that I used as the gift boxes for these. I made one set for my parents and one for my in-laws as Christmas gifts...let's just say the tears were flowing when they opened them! I customized some of the pictures for each family so they were in some of them, which added a nice personal touch. 

I had a lot of fun making these, and the possibilities are endless. They'd be great for a Valentine's/anniversary gift for a special someone (photos of you two over the years, special spots that mean something), Mother's Day, a handmade housewarming gift for a friend, Christmas, birthdays...you name it. You could use drawings, landscape photos, landmarks, etc. I will definitely be making these again as gifts. I would love to see how creative you guys are with this!

January 5, 2014

Finally Putting All of Those Bottlecaps to Use

If you're like me, anything that gets used in your house that remotely looks like it could be useful for a craft project gets saved. I had been saving beer bottle caps for about a year, fully intending to make something like this with them. But when I decided to have a DIY crafty Christmas, I needed something more manly to make for my brother. And it had to be with components we already had at the house.

Enter: concrete bottle cap coasters. 

Note: sorry for the bad photo here. I forgot to take pictures of the finished item before I wrapped and gifted them, so I had to settle for a slightly blurry cell phone picture from my brother. But you get the point, right?
Use beer bottlecaps to make concrete coasters - great for man gift | A Crafty Wife
I bought 4 mini gift boxes from the dollar bins at Target around the holidays - they were the perfect size. Hubs helped me "wrap" the inside of the lid in wax paper so it would be easy for the coaster to pop out as it dried (and not stick to the paper box). The thought was to then put the bottle caps upside down in the bottom of the lid and cover with concrete. Once they dried, pop them out of the box and clean up the top side.

We did a trial run on 2 coasters to see how it would go. On one, I put a dab of hot glue to hold the bottle caps to the wax paper. Our concrete mix had some big chunks of rock, so I filtered those out using some chicken wire hubs had in the garage. I mixed it up until it was the consistency of peanut butter.

Use chicken wire to filter out large chunks in concrete mix for bottlecap coasters | A Crafty Wife

After slopping enough concrete into the forms to hold the caps in place, I used a trowel to tamp it down, going left to right across the box and then top to bottom. Then I picked up the box about 6 inches and dropped it onto the work surface, just to make sure the concrete got into all of the spaces around the caps. (SIDEBAR: in the actual ones I made to gift, I also cut a small square of the chicken wire and sandwiched it between layers of concrete to give the coasters some extra stability. So in order in the box form: bottle caps, thin layer of concrete, chicken wire, another thin layer of concrete.)

Small gift boxes make perfectly sized forms for concrete bottlecap coasters | A Crafty Wife

After curing for about 18 hours, I took the coasters out of the box and carefully tore the wax paper off. They weren't fully cured yet, but they were solid enough I could clean up the tops. Using a copper wire brush (aluminum may scratch the bottle caps - be careful if you use this!), I lightly brushed the tops until all 9 bottle caps were visible.

Use copper wire brush to carefully scrape off concrete from bottle caps before it sets up | A Crafty Wife

I also checked for level (important if you want these to hold a drink!). On the ones that were out of level, I brushed the bottoms a bit to get rid of some of the concrete until they were good to go. (NOTE: this step works best when the concrete is still soft and not totally set up yet).

Concrete bottle cap coasters in various curing states | A Crafty Wife

Then it was back to the table to sit for another few days. It took about 72 hours for the coasters to fully cure. When they were dry, I hot glued a thin piece of cork (leftover from one of those make-your-own bulletin board packs) to the bottoms. Total cost for me was $4 for the boxes - everything else we had on hand (if you don't count the beer).

Concrete bottle cap coasters make a great gift for boyfriend, husband, brother, or man cave housewarming gift | A Crafty Wife

In hindsight, I should have used the dab of hot glue on all the bottlecaps. In the box lids I used for the non-test batch there was a lot more room and the caps slid around too much (as you can see in the photo above). I thought about re-doing them, but it was too close to Christmas and the concrete wouldn't have had time to set up. I also like the random pattern in the test batch better too (the coaster in the upper right corner in the photo above). Now I know for next time. My brother loved them just as they are - they are perfect for his bachelor pad!

Anybody else have a creative use for old bottle caps? Or other crafty 'trash' items you can't bear to part with?