DIY PROJECTS

The Art of Hand Lettering
Hi, friends! We are pretty much in love with hand lettering. Aren't you? Gorgeous hand lettered signs are flooding our Instagram feed, and we've even tried our hand at it a few times. The lettering always seems so well thought out and perfectly executed -- sometimes even like something we can't achieve. Except we can! And so can you! Did you know that hand lettering is actually an art? It just takes a little knowledge of technique and some practice, and voila! You'll be creating gorgeous chalkboards, signs and notes in no time! We've invited a friend to the blog today to share the ins and outs of hand lettering along with some helpful tips on technique and a template. We are so excited to welcome Alexandria from FTD Fresh to SLB!!!
  There are many people who might confuse hand lettering with calligraphy. However, it’s important to note their differences. Calligraphy is a traditional form of handwriting that involves forming letters in a deliberate fashion. When practicing calligraphy, it is also important to maintain a rhythm to create consistent strokes and shapes. Calligraphy also involves the use of a nib pen. Hand lettering, on the other hand, is a form of handwriting that involves drawing decorating letters. Compared to calligraphy, you can have much more freedom with the interpretation of letters, shapes and sizes. You can also use just about any kind of pen, including felt pens, brush pens, markers, and even ballpoint pens. You may have noticed that hand lettering has become increasingly popular and can be seen all over social media. From wedding invitations to creative signs for your home decor, hand lettering is perfect for adding a personal touch to any project. Learning the art of hand lettering is all about getting the basics down. That’s why we’re featuring this helpful hand lettering tutorial by FTD to help you get started! Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be on your way to creating your own beautiful words and phrases and in your own personal style!

A List of Hand Lettering Materials

Here is a list of tools we recommend specifically for beginners to help you start your hand lettering journey.
  • Marker paper – Marker paper is specifically designed to be non-bleeding, making it perfect for hand lettering beginners. The surface is particularly smooth, allowing for smoother strokes due to the low friction.
  • Ruler – In the beginning, you’ll need a ruler to keep the shapes of your letters consistent by establishing your first guiding lines for practice, which we’ll dive deeper into later on the guide.
  • Pencil – A pencil is helpful for drawing the above mentioned guiding lines so that they can easily be erased after you’ve written down your first few words.
  • Brush pen – Use a brush pen that has a medium-length brush. A pen that has too short of a brush will make it difficult to create pretty flowy strokes, and a pen that has too long of a brush will give you less control.
  • Stationery card – After you’ve completed this tutorial, you’ll need the perfect stage on which to show off your newfound skills! You can download the featured card for free here.

Basic Hand Lettering Terms

Here are a few terms that you should know before you get started:
  • Cap line – This line establishes the height for capital letters.
  • X-line – This line establishes the height for lowercase letters.
  • Baseline – This is the line that your word or phrase will sit on.
  • Flourish – Flourishes are what make hand lettering so much fun! These are the strokes that are added to letters to make them more decorative and dynamic including loops and swirls. The point of hand lettering is to get creative with these and develop your own personal style!
 

Getting Started

Beginners, you’ll want to refer to this hand lettering video tutorial that demonstrates step by step how to write your first few letters and phrases. To help you follow along, here are the steps listed below that are featured in the video. Step 1. Practice cursive
  1. Establish a cap line to mark the height for uppercase letters.
  2. Establish an x-line to mark the height for lowercase letters.
  3. Establish a baseline upon which your letters will sit.
  Step 2. Applying pressure
  1. Apply pressure on downward strokes (thick lines).
  2. Release pressure on upward strokes (thin lines).
  Step 3. Play with heights and baselines
  1. Make the word more dynamic by drawing outside of the guiding lines you established earlier.
  Step 4. Play with loops and flourishes
  1. Have fun by varying your loop sizes and flourishes.
  2. For repeat letters, change up the shapes and sizes for the loops.
  3. The more you have fun with it, the easier it will be to develop your own personal style!
 

Alphabet Practice Chart

To help you continue your hand lettering practice, here’s a handy alphabet chart that you can reference. You can download the free 8.5” x 11” guide here. Now that you’ve got everything you need, it’s time to get started! Armed with these handy tools, you’ll soon be on your way to creating beautifully written letters and phrases just like the pros! Remember, the key to mastering the art of hand lettering is to have fun with it, so feel free to come up with your own personal style.
About The Author: Alexandria enjoys writing on a variety of topics including floral design and wedding inspirations for FTD Fresh. When she's not writing, she can be found at the beach or hiking.
DIY Coffee Sack Upholstered Bench
Have you guys seen all the grain sack goodies that are coming out in the home decor department? Grain sack upholstered chairs, pillow covers, tea towels ... the list goes on. It's farmhouse decor at its finest and definitely should have been included in our farmhouse decorating post last year! At the time, we were hopping around various coffee shops and breweries in and around Lexington, though, so we had coffee sacks and burlap on the brain instead. After we visited Nate's Coffee Roastery, he gave us some coffee sacks along with a bunch of other awesome freebies which we weren't sure what we were going to do with at the time. Fast-forward to Christmas, and Amanda made some really cute stockings out of hers! I still had mine sitting around, though, begging to be used! Well, y'all, I finally got around to it! I've been wanting to upholster this bench that I made that sits in our entryway, but had just never found the time to sit down and do it {even though it's a really quick process} because I had so many other projects lined up. That is, until now! This entire entryway will be one big DIY, so be sure to head over here to check out how to frame your own canvas art. Before I dive into this super simple upholstery tutorial {which doesn't require any sewing, by the way}, let me give you a little history on this bench. It was one of my first builds and isn't really a stellar one. You can see the screws aren't even embedded into the wood because at the time I didn't know what a pocket hole was. All I knew was I wanted a bench and I wanted it to be white. So I used what I had on hand -- the top is MDF, the frame is 2x4 pine and the legs are 4x4 posts. Zero consistency in those materials. I even used a screw that was just barely too long to attach the top and ended up having to shave off the top of the screw that poked out of the bench seat. I didn't even do a great job of painting it! I filled no cracks... nothing. Not my best work. This bench holds special significance to me, though, because it represents all the mistakes I made early on and how far I've come since I started woodworking a few years ago. So you can see why I wanted to keep it around. The top and apron needed some desperate help, though, so out came the coffee sack and supplies, and this cute upholstered entry bench was born!

Supplies

  For this project, you'll need:
  • 1" foam {or 2" depending on your seat cushion preference}
  • Batting or white material {I used one yard for a 30" bench}
  • One coffee sack
  • Staple gun
  • Scissors

Instructions

The first step for my particular bench was removing the legs. If you've purchased a bench that you're recovering, check to see if the legs unscrew. Some do, and some don't. If they don't, not to worry! You can still fold the liner and burlap around the legs and staple them in the back. I recovered my dining room chairs this way with no problem. For any spots that the staple gun couldn't get right, I used a hot glue gun to hold the fabric in place while I stapled the other sections. They've held up really well. Next, I cut two pieces of 1" foam to lay over the top of the bench to give it some cushion. The lines don't have to be perfect when you're cutting. Just be sure to completely cover the corners and edges. Wider is better than not wide enough. Because grain sacks and coffee sacks are generally made of a looser stitch, I'd suggest using a liner or batting underneath them to hide the color of the foam. My foam was a really ugly yellow, so I definitely didn't want that showing through. I did not measure ahead of time. I just laid out the liner fabric and cut it to fit the bench. My bench is 30" long, so I got a yard and a half of fabric to work with. Once the fabric was cut, I made a faux hem by folding in the edges and stapled all four sides to the underside of my bench. Then I repeated the exact same step as above but using the burlap. In order to fit around the extra thick apron of my bench, I had to cut the coffee sack sides so it opened lengthwise which gave me plenty of extra fabric. To give the upholstery a clean lines look, I folded in the corners and pulled the short sides straight so the overlap didn't show in front -- kind of like wrapping a gift. The best method I have for this type of upholstery {thanks to trial and error after recovering four dining room chairs} is to start with one of the long sides. Pull the burlap taught, tighter than you think you need to, and staple in place. Do the second long side next, then move on to the short sides. If you removed the legs from your bench, make sure to leave holes in the fabric where the legs will need to reattach. You can do this with the end of scissors or a screwdriver. Once I had all sides secured, I flipped my bench top right side up and made adjustments as necessary. Then I just screwed the legs back on, and it was ready to go! I love that I have this little piece of pretty imperfection in my entry as a reminder of my progress over the last few years as a DIY-er. Do you have a special piece that you can't get rid of because of what it means? Have a happy Tuesday, friends! xoxo    
DIY Distressed Herb Pots
We had so much fun making these pots as part of a crafty afternoon with friends! You can too! These DIY distressed herb pots are the perfect "make in an afternoon" craft to get ready for spring. With minimal supplies & minimal effort even a newbie crafter with little to no creativity can do this. Ha! Does this sound like you? Let's get started!

Supplies Needed:

3 Clay Pots Chalk Paint (white & gray) Foam Brushes Sandpaper Tiny Letter Stamps Stamping Pad Potting Soil 3 different herb plants (found in the produce section of your local grocery store) - we used mint, basil and cilantro.  

Step 1 - Paint Your Pots Gray

Your colors are honestly up to you. But we chose gray for our bottom coat. You could just as easily use black or another color entirely. Just keep in mind that this color is the one that will show through after distressing. This coat of paint doesn't have to look pretty since you're only going to paint over it.

Step 2 - Add Vaseline

This is the part that makes distressing a breeze! You've probably seen us distress this same way in several of our previous projects. Using your fingertip, just dab a little Vaseline on random spots over the outside of the pot, choosing a few areas along the edges. This doesn't need to be an exact science, and definitely not too symmetrical. The more random the better!

Step 3 - Add the white paint

Ok this coat of paint is the one that counts. You may need two coats to achieve the color and look you want. Paint right over the Vaseline spots. We painted down inside the pot as well, at least a little bit, so that the color would look uniform from any angle (see photos).

Step 4 - Distress!

Once your paint is completely dry, it's time to grab your sandpaper. Just rub the sandpaper all over your pot, paying a little extra attention to the spots where the Vaseline is. The paint should come off of those places fairly easily. Although you may have to use a little elbow grease.

Step 5 - Stamp!

We chose some plant appropriate words for our pots such as: grow, bloom, blossom, live, herbs. You can choose any words you want! Just place your stamp on the stamping ink pad and then place it directly onto your pot. It's pretty straightforward! Tip: We would suggest using some type of waterproof sealant on the inside of your pot, or simply lining it with plastic. The clay pots are pretty porous and the water soaks through. This created some water damage to our original paint jobs. While we love the look of the chalk paint, another type of paint may have different results. Let us know if you try something different and have better results!

Step 6 - Add plants

Fill your pot with soil, add in your selected herb plant, add more soil around it. I mean, listen. Six steps may look like  a lot, but how simple are these steps?? So easy! Now you have a beautiful touch of green and white to brighten up your home and add a touch of spring. There's something about green, living things that really beautify a space. We hope you'll gather your girlfriends, grab a cup of coffee and de-stress while you paint and distress the day away. Maybe if we keep adding green to our homes, spring will come faster? At least maybe it will feel that way.      
Decorating with Fresh Flowers
It has been unseasonably warm for February here in Kentucky {and I am so not complaining!}. I love spring! It represents new growth and fresh starts and means the start of gardening season. Y'all, there are few things quite as awesome as being able to pick fresh fruits and veggies from the garden. If you're not a gardening fan, trips to the Farmer's Market are just as rewarding. You're shopping local, you know how and where your food was grown and you get to visit an outdoor market which is just nostalgic for some reason! One of my favorite parts of the farmer's market is all the flowers. I have a thing for fresh flowers, especially in the in-between seasons like we're in right now. Not to mention that fresh flowers feel like a luxury, even though they don't have to cost a ton! There are so many ways to use fresh flowers in your home decor -- everything from the various containers you can put them in to arranging styles -- so today, we're talking all things fresh flowers.

Where to buy them.

I have two favorite places, outside of the Farmer's Market, to buy flowers and one place to get them for free. First up, Trader Joe's. Y'all, they have bunches of flowers starting at $3.99 and organic herbs for even less. I bought hyacinth, daisies, carnations and mint there for less than $15.00!!! Before I go further, let me point out that I overbought flowers simply for this post. Like, my whole house smells like flowers now because I had so many, but I wanted you guys to see various ways to pot them so I needed a ton extra. One bundle will last you two weeks. That's $4.00 extra every two weeks. I can totally afford $8.00 a month for an indulgence like fresh flowers. How about you? My second favorite place is Kroger. Their floral department is awesome, and they almost always have bunches on clearance. Not to mention they have what they call "growers bunch[es]" that cost $5.00 or $6.00, and they do not scrimp! The purple flowers pictured are from Kroger, and I got enough to use in five containers. FIVE. Finally, you can get flowers for free! I love growing tulips in the spring and daisies and sunflowers in the summer. They're easy to grow and easy to maintain, and the more you prune the daisies, the more they'll flower! Just start them from seed or as transplants in pots, and you'll have beautiful flowers you can cut and use inside through the warmer months for free! Okay, you might have to pay $1.00 for a seed packet. Totally doable.

How to treat them.

Most store-bought flowers come with a food packet that helps your flowers stay fresh longer, but there are other ways you can encourage your cut flowers to live well past a week. Here are my favorites:
  1. Cut stems at an angle.
  2. Remove the leaves from the stem [any that will end up submerged in water].
  3. Add apple cider vinegar and sugar to the water.
  4. Replenish the water every few days.
  5. Store flowers in the refrigerator overnight then set them out again the next day.
  6. Prune the bottoms of the stems every few days.
  Some flowers do better than others. I find that daisies and carnations and similarly petalled flowers do really well for a few weeks. Roses and tulips are generally done about a week to 10 days after being purchased. Herbs are another beautiful display with the added benefit of providing seasoning for your food. For example, I have mint all over my house because it's extremely forgiving. In the summertime, I make up sweet tea and add a couple leaves of mint to it. It's delicious! Rosemary, thyme and basil are also easy to care for and great for seasoning meat and side dishes. The caveat with these is they need sunlight, so if you store them indoors, be sure they get plenty of access to natural light.

How to display them.

This is the fun part -- how to display your flowers! There are two parts to this: container and arrangement.

Containers

Literally just about anything can be a container for flowers. Gone are the days of vases only. Heck, I actually use a Rae Dunn dog food canister as a vase! And I love it! I'll point out a few that I used for this post, but it's not all inclusive so feel free to be creative! Olive buckets are an awesome way to display cotton stems or herbs or any other type of greenery. I picked this one up at Hobby Lobby, but you can find these in antique stores as well. Can't find an olive bucket? A coal bucket will work, too! Or really anything galvanized! Clear or tinted jars are amazing containers for flowers. Of course, they sell these at home stores and flea markets, but the best place I've found for clear jars is the grocery store. I know. It sounds crazy, but this clear jug was actually a gallon of apple juice {fully unconcentrated, too!} that I bought for my daughter. I took the label off and voila! I found cotton stems at Hobby Lobby, and you can also make your own! Check out this tutorial. Mason jars are a never-fail option for flowers or greenery year-round. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors and are pretty cheap, so there's something for everyone. not to mention you can dress it up a little by tying twine around the lip with a cute bow. Other options for all you farmhouse lovers out there are milk bottles and pitchers. I found both of the ones pictured above at Big Lots, believe it or not, and there are plenty to be found in antique malls and flea markets not to mention home stores like Home Goods. These generally have narrower necks which don't allow for a ton of flowers, but I honestly love the simplicity of having just a few. It lets the bottle/pitcher act as a statement piece! We've got a fun DIY coming up next week where we'll be distressing clay pots to use as herb planters, one of which I used for the mint from Trader Joe's seen above. I can't wait for y'all to try this one out! {Head here to subscribe so you don't miss it!} Of course, you can always build your own flower containers, like this distressed pallet planter {details on how to do it yourself here}. I have mint planted in two mason jars in mine and added flowers to a taller center mason jar to make a rustic centerpiece for my dining room table. And if you don't want to build your own, these are available in our Etsy shop. Last, but certainly not least, this wooden beer box made a really cute sectioned planter for our den. It came from the Target Dollar Spot -- not even joking, y'all. I originally was thinking I'd put crayons in it and use it a la Joanna Gaines for my daughter's art table, but she's kind of in a phase where everything ends up on the floor right now so I opted to use it as floral decor until she grows into it. The small jars are from Bed Bath & Beyond, and are actually mini milk bottles!

Arrangements

I do not claim to be awesome at flower arranging. In the interest of full disclosure, I struggled for the longest time, until I figured out two key things:
  1. Arrangements do not have to be complicated.
  2. There is a 3-step process to arranging flowers that works every time.
 

Arrangements do not have to be complicated.

I love the simplicity of white flowers in a mason jar tied with twine. They just are what they are. No frills, just pretty. So if the idea of making up an arrangement with four or five different flowers intimidates you, don't worry! You can absolutely keep it simple. My go-to flowers are white daisies, carnations or tulips, and I don't add in any greenery or other accents. They go in mason jars and pitchers, and I call it a day. Sometimes, I feel a little more fun and want some color, so I'll mix two colors but keep the arrangement simple. Take these pots, for example. I found white and green carnations, cut them all to similar lengths and set them in simple white pots on this hanging table on our patio {tutorial on the table here}. That's it! The hyacinths in our den are even simpler. I simply cut the flowers and leaves to the height I wanted and put them in milk bottles. Easy as pie and just as beautiful as a full arrangement.

3 Steps to Flower Arranging.

Here's my secret to flower arranging for the times when you're feeling fancy and want a full bouquet for that vase. Arrange by height. That's it. Super simple.
  1. Start with your tallest stems. In the video below, I used white daisies as my starting point and moved them to the back of the lip of my canister.
  2. Add some middle height. The purple accent flowers and hyacinth were added to the middle tier of my canister, cut low enough that the daisies were still visible.
  3. Finish with a short layer and accents. I added the white carnations as my lowest layer to fill in any blank spots where stems were showing. The green leaves from the hyacinth were tall enough to be used as accents in this arrangement because I felt like the overall look needed some greenery.
  https://youtu.be/JeqGj0lkP3Q Flowers really are that simple, easy to take care of and inexpensive! Do fresh flowers feel like an indulgence to you? I have flowers for days now, but the house sure does smell amazing! Happy hump day, friends. xoxo
DIY Farmhouse Server Furniture Flip

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I'm probably a coffee snob. Okay, I'm definitely a coffee snob. I have some amazing friends here in town who brew their own blends of coffee {complete with roasting imported beans and all}, and now that I've had those, it's not the same to have just any old cup of coffee. That said, I love my Keurig, you guys. I got the Keurig Hot for Christmas {in white, of course} and some Starbucks pods to go with it, and it's been amazing! Yes, I still kept my coffee pot. I've got bags of Nate's Sumatra blend and, most recently, a bag of Dry Stack Nicaragua {thanks to my friend Liz for sharing that with me!} in the pantry that I absolutely love! And since I don't have one of those refillable pods yet, I'm keeping the coffee pot on hand for my favorite blends and for those days when sleep seems elusive, which are more often than I thought with a toddler.

No one tells you that when you get past the baby phase and enter into the toddler and then little girl phase, sleep gets less frequent. I thought it was the opposite! Lawsy. Ash has been in bed with us almost every night by 5:00 a.m. and waking up every few hours with nightmares leading up to that {any advice for how to help with that would be greatly appreciated. I feel helpless except to reassure her that I'm there and she's safe}, so I'm not sure I really remember what a full night's sleep is. At least this time around, I'm not nursing, so I can have as many cups of coffee as I need want the next day! When number two comes along... well, I don't know what I'm going to do. Anyway, back to the coffee, I've always had a dream of having a coffee bar. We don't have a terribly large house {::read:: it's small}, but something about having a dedicated space for coffee just appeals to me. Not to mention, it means I don't necessarily have to have yet another appliance sitting on my countertop which is also not all that large. So when I got the Keurig for Christmas this past year, I decided it was time to make the coffee bar happen! I'm pretty sure this piece of furniture is called a server... but it could be a sideboard or even a buffet. At any rate, I'm calling it a server because I'm using it as our makeshift coffee bar in the dining room. I'm honestly not sure which gets more use -- the coffee bar or the dining room table, but it's going to be close either way! I head to this sidebar first thing every morning to brew the perfect cup of coffee {served in a Rae Dunn mug that states clearly my mood for the day, of course}, so it's a pretty integral piece of furniture. When I first got this cabinet, it was solid black with glass front doors and a beadboard backing. I love the doors and the beadboard, and at the time, black was totally my furniture color of choice. Since then, though, I have done a complete 180 style-wise and now want everything white with maybe a few black accents. The doors on this cabinet and that beadboard, though... I couldn't get rid of it. So I decided to flip it! Why not? This was such an easy flip, too, because all it required was a paint job and some chunky legs and voila! Farmhouse at its finest! I found the legs at Home Depot for a little over $2.00 each. Add in two cans of Rustoleum primer and two cans of Rustoleum satin enamel spray paint, and you're looking at a complete transformation for less than $20! Before I painted anything, I took the doors off the server and removed the shelf. Then I flipped it upside down and drilled holes for the leg bolts to thread into using a 1/4" drill bit. I had to be a little careful to avoid the grooves for the doors to slide in, but that wasn't too difficult to get around. Once the legs were connected, I used my vaseline trick to mark spots where I wanted distressing to occur. There is a benefit to the server already being black. I didn't have to spray those spots first! Next, I sprayed the whole piece with primer, waited 30 minutes then sprayed another coat. Once that had fully dried, about two hours, I sprayed the server with two coats of enamel in bright white then sealed it with a clear coat. While that was drying, I did the same to the doors, taping off the glass, and the shelf. I didn't distress the shelf because not that much of it is actually seen when it's inside with the doors closed. That was it! Of course, I could barely wait until it dried to take it inside and set up my coffee bar! I made the coffee bar sign using our transfer paper method and the same distressing method as the server. The boxwood wreath came from At Home a few years ago, and I used the chalkboard sign I made for my cider bar this past year as a backdrop.

I found the wooden toolbox turned coffee pod holder at Michaels a few years ago on clearance. It's served many purposes over the years, but this one is probably my favorite! Now I just need to find some cute baskets/bins to go in the cabinet to hold all of our not-so-attractive stuff, and the area will be set!

Do y'all do the whole coffee bar thing in your homes? My sister-in-law has this cute coffee station set up using an antique metal table she found, and she hangs her mugs from a pot rack. I love seeing pieces used in unexpected ways! What's your favorite farmhouse {or otherwise} piece in your home and why? I have a feeling this server will be with us a long time now that it's been transformed, and is quickly becoming one of my favorites!

As a quick side note, we IG'd a couple weeks ago about some herb planters we made {which will be up on the blog soon!}, and I had some leftover mint that made needed a home. You might remember these DIY pallet planters we posted last year, which are also available in our Etsy shop. I don't think I ever envisioned them quite this way, but I put that mint in the planter and am using it as a centerpiece for the dining room and L.O.V.E. it! As soon as it's warm enough, I'm probably going to make another one for the farmhouse table on the patio and fill it with succulents. Bring on the spring!

You also may notice that my dining room table looks a little different since my last dining room post. It got a makeover while I was going all white paint happy on the server/sideboard, and it turns out, it's one of those things where it looks like it should have been all white all along! We don't have tons of natural light in our house thanks to smaller and really spaced out windows, so all the white is really working for me in there. I've recently painted our den and am slowly making my way around the house to help brighten things up as well. We're going with Almond Wisp by Behr which sounds tan but is actually pretty greige thanks to its purple base {it sounds awful, but y'all, it's dreamy!} and is light enough that my 2-year-old thinks it's white. I'll be sure to post updates as I make progress.

In the meantime, I'm working on framing some canvas art I got last weekend, and will show you the tutorial on that tomorrow. So, hey, let's go enjoy some coffee! That's where I'm headed. Thanks for following along!

 

Fun & Easy Valentine Crafts for Kids

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We all want to be that Pinterest mom and make fun holiday crafts with our kids. But who has the time and energy? Well, I'm going to show you how easy it can be and why is looks so awesome in photos, even if said craft lasts for only 5 minutes. I tend to overdo it with...most things. Lol! Even when I tell myself to go the simple route, I still end up trying to take on too much and get stressed and overwhelmed (imagine if I didn't aim for simple!). We planned a Valentine crafting playdate with our kids and I set out to find a few fun crafts and activities. I think we did 2 out of 5 crafts I came prepared for and one activity. Lol! It's hard to let that preschool teacher mentality go - always have more activities planned than you need!  These are a few fun things we found.

Valentine Crafts & Activities

Sensory Rice Bin

This was probably the most involved activity as far as preparation, but don't let it intimidate you! It was also the most "worth it". Even though it was a bit messy, the kids absolutely LOVED it and spent a good amount of time playing in it...at least 20 minutes, which is hours in toddler time. They would've played longer, but the rice was having trouble staying inside the box...by which I mean, the kids were throwing it everywhere. So be prepared for that possibility! I grabbed a 5 lb bag of white rice, mixed up about a half a cup of white vinegar and 20 drops of food coloring and mixed it all together in this plastic bin. More vinegar and food coloring would get you closer to red, but I was out, so we settled for this light pink color. The red measuring cups and glitter heart table scatter were from the dollar store. The heart shaped cookie cutters and measuring spoons I already owned. Anything heart shaped or pink can go in the bin! Anything they can scoop with or pour out of is a great toy to add. I also threw in some essential oils to cover up the vinegar smell. It turned out pretty well! This can be a really relaxing activity - best for one or two children at a time.

Heart Shaped Sun Catchers

This is my absolute favorite craft to make with little ones. You just take some clear contact paper, cut it into a heart shape, peel back the paper and stick! We used tissue paper squares and sequins to decorate. Sandwich with another heart shape of contact paper and hang in your window! All of these items were found at the dollar store so this craft cost a whopping total of $3 and there were plenty of supplies left over. I found dollar store GOLD with these tissue paper squares that were precut in a package! Amazing! You can certainly buy tissue paper and cut it yourself (it isn't really that difficult) but I am all about eliminating a step in the pursuit of simplifying my life.

Love Bug Paper Crown

Our lovely friend Erin came across this craft and we all fell in love with it. I'll just be honest, by the time we got to this craft the kids were over it. It was getting close to naptime and they were happily playing. We took this opportunity to sit down at the table and make them for the kids ourselves! With some white construction paper, stickers, markers and pipe cleaners, it's another simple, easy craft. Especially for preschool age or older children, it's a quick little craft that's really fun to make AND wear. So that's about all we got to do. It was plenty and we all had a blast! I'm not gonna lie, I didn't sit down much during our playdate. With two little ones, and facilitating crafts, I stayed pretty busy. But after the experience and the photos we were able to capture, I'm so glad we did it! Here are a few tips I'll leave you with if you decide to do something similar with your kiddos.

Tips for Being That Pinterest Crafting Mom

  1. Keep it SIMPLE. Seriously, do. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant. At the same time, just a little extra thought and effort can produce something super cute. So take it a step beyond paper and crayons and make a love bug crown! Or make a potato stamp and let them go to town with some {washable} paint.
  2. Make it age appropriate. If you mess this one up, you'll know right away. If you're both frustrated and no one is having fun, it's probably not an age appropriate craft. Always go younger than you think they are ready for and you'll probably be right on track.
  3. Be realistic. Don't plan 5 different crafts for toddlers (like me!). It may only take a few minutes to complete each one, but one or two are plenty for any one given day.
  4. Let them be kids. Let's just be serious. They aren't going to do it "right". That's ok! It's much more about the experience and the time spent together than the finished product. Keep that in mind and you'll be able to do number 5.
  5. Relax and have fun. This is really important. If you can't do this then it really just isn't worth it. Go do something else you enjoy with your kids! Not everyone has to be a crafting mom. Some moms are cool sporty moms or cooking moms or storytelling moms. The point is that you are doing something you both enjoy together.
  6. Instagram it! We all know this is part of being "that pinterest mom". Go ahead! Show it off! You worked hard for that 5 minutes of crafting. You deserve some recognition and come on, who doesn't want to see those cute kids model their love bug crowns, am I right?? Let people wonder how you can be such a cool crafting mom. And then direct them to this post so they can do it too. 😉

Happy Valentine's Day!

   
How to Declutter Your Life

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My husband watched this documentary the other day about minimalism, something I've honestly never even been remotely interested in. Why? Because I love to create things, so the idea of having very little seems foreign since making stuff is kind of what I do. Plus, I love pretty things. It's a struggle. The issue with loving to have a cute house/cute clothes/{insert your favorite cute thing here} is it can become more than just enjoyment. It can become an obsession. I'm not talking, "I'm a little obsessed with Rae Dunn mugs and love to collect them." I'm talking, "I just spent every last penny from my paycheck that didn't go to bills so that I could fill my house with cute stuff." It leads to this unhealthy place of defining yourself by what you have or what you look like or what your house looks like or how you measure up to so and so's Instagram feed, etc. There's way too much in life that we'll miss out on if we constantly play the comparison game, so let's take the New Year as an opportunity to move past all that and make a commitment to enjoying life! How do we do that? By decluttering it! While I certainly would not call myself a minimalist, the underlying concept is something we can all use: fill your life with what brings you joy. The less things you have, the more you'll enjoy those things. For me, this centers on a few changes that are initially kind of annoying but pay off big in the long run.

How To Declutter Your Life

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism

Trash It or Donate It

When's the last time you actually wore that shirt in your closet that you didn't think would shrink but did but it's the perfect color so you don't want to get rid of it? How about the tupperware that are missing lids -- when's the last time you used that? Or the socks that the dryer must have eaten because you literally haven't seen the match since you wore them eight months ago? I don't love getting rid of things, y'all. I am the, "I'll find a use for it," person, but it creates chaos and a mess and, believe it or not, will add to your stress level. Get two trash bags and label one "donate". Tackle a new area of your home each day, throwing away items that don't have matches or are unusable and donating the ones that you haven't used in the last 6 months or that you have multiples of. Trust me. I know what you're thinking. "But I absolutely need two of these shirts." You don't. You have a washer and dryer. Use it. I'm telling you, you get rid of one and start having to wash that shirt in order to wear it again later in the week and your laundry pile is going to be smaller than it's ever been!

Get Organized

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism We've already written a post on how to get organized here, but let's review the main principle. Everything has a home. When I first started organizing our home, we had nail clippers everywhere.  Why we needed 10 pairs of nail clippers, I don't know, but there were some in each bathroom, some in the linen closet and some in the drawer of our nightstand. It's a small item, but we really only needed one good pair and one place to put them. The same deal goes for clothes, toiletries, cleaning supplies, backpacks, dishes, etc. Give it a home and return it to its home when it's not being used. If you're a labeler, label away! I am, and I have cute little white tags tied with twine on each bin in our closets that lets everyone know what goes in that bin. The next time you need it, you'll know exactly where it is without having to ask, "Hey, have you seen {insert random item here} lately?" Don't forget to clean out your inbox, file folders and junk drawers. They totally count!

Spring Clean Then Stick To A Schedule

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism One of my least favorite things ever is to spend six hours on a Saturday cleaning the house. By the time I'm done, I'm ready for a nap and the day is halfway over. #adulting It's a huge bummer, especially on the weekend! Thankfully, this one's easy to solve! Pick a day and spring clean. We're talking baseboards, carpet, upholstery... everything. Don't want to do it yourself? Chances are there's a housekeeping service near you that's run by one or two local people who will give you a fair price to come in and take care of all of it for you. It's a one-time deal, so regardless of whether you do it yourself or have someone else come in, be sure you don't skip this step. Once you've spring cleaned, break down the typical weekly tasks you would need to handle to keep your home clean into seven separate days {or use our cleaning checklist here}. Take 30 minutes each day to tackle the tasks for the day, and you'll get to enjoy those Saturdays and every other day of the week with a clean house and no feeling of wasted weekends!

 Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism

Meal Plans

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism If you've been around SLB for any length of time, you've heard me say that I am not a great meal planner. That's mostly because life gets in the way of my good intentions and I won't be home one or two nights or I'll feel lazy one day and we'll end up ordering in or snacking. I have found, however, that planning out my meals on paper a week ahead of time and ordering my groceries online have saved me significant amounts of time and money {you can read about saving at the grocery here}. Also, my crockpot... it saves me so much time! If the "lazy" bug tends to hit you in the afternoons, the crockpot is for you, my friend. Toss in whatever you're eating in the morning, and it's done by dinner time! Amanda told you last week that we've opted to go Paleo as one of our resolutions, and gave you access to our meal plan here. Take 20 minutes once a week to go through and plan your meals/order groceries or create a grocery list. Ordering online saves me at least an hour of shopping and ends up saving me money because I don't impulse buy. This means our pantry isn't full of unused items which means less clutter which means a more relaxed you!

Carry A Planner or Use A Digital Calendar

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism I do splurge once a year and buy a new planner to get my life organized. It brings me so much joy to have everything in one place that I can reference and carry with me wherever I go, and it's fun to go pick out a new pattern/color scheme for the year. {Some of my favorites have been from Target and Marshalls!} If you're not a paper calendar type person, utilize your digital calendar. Playdates, coffee meetings, blog hours, family functions... all of these things go on my calendar so I know exactly how much extra time I'll have each week. It's so easy to get bogged down with little things that add up to zero time for yourself, and decluttering your schedule is just as important as decluttering your home. Having a game plan that you can constantly refer back to will help you say no more often when you really need to, and give you the peace of mind to say yes as well!

Make a Budget

Is decluttering on your to-do list? Us, too. We're going through all the steps to declutter your entire life, not just your home! Check out the details here along with a free printable! #declutter #decluttering #cleaning #cleaninglist #freeprintable #printable #checklist #newyear #resolutions #minimalism Yes. Decluttering your life includes a budget, and I'll be totally honest, y'all. This is not my strong suit. I wish I were that frugal person who did not feel compelled to shop for the best deal, buy supplies for my latest project or craft and make umpteen trips to Lowes for paint or sandpaper or whatever it is I thought I had but don't to get the job done. The thing is, we're all different. So the best way to find a middle ground and regain control {::read: destress financially::} is to make a budget. Add up all your income and all your monthly expenses so that you know exactly how much is left over at the end of the month. Use it to pay off debt, save it or spend it -- regardless of how you use it, you'll have a lot more peace knowing exactly how much is in the bank, how much you owe and how much is left over at the end of the month. If you struggle with spending, try going on a spending freeze. I know, it sounds awful, but it will give you a whole new perspective, friends! And since we're working on decluttering here, we're focusing on less stuff, not more. So save up for that new light fixture you've had your eye on or set money aside for your mug collection, but buy intentionally, not impulsively. Does spring fever hit any of you around this time of year? If you're ready to declutter your life, feel more at peace in general and spend less time doing those chores and tasks that aren't fun, then let's go! We're doing all of the things mentioned above, and we'd love for you to join us. Have some tips you would add to this list? We'd love to hear about them in the comments below! xoxo jess-signature
Deck the Halls Holiday Home Tour

Welcome to Our Homes!

Hello! Thank you so much for joining us on our "Deck the Halls Holiday Home Tour"! If this is your first stop in the tour, let us tell you a little bit about it. There are six other lovely blogs involved outside of this one. These ladies each posses their own personal style and eye for what makes their home beautiful and unique. We invite you to follow the link at the end of this post to the next stop along our tour. There is plenty of festive holiday decor to see and some really gorgeous photos. Keep going and you won't be disappointed! Amanda's Home I love when the time comes to decorate our home for Christmas. If it were socially acceptable to decorate on November 1st, I would do it. I force myself to wait until the day after Thanksgiving (I still listen to Christmas music throughout the month of November!). The first thing you will see when you step in my front door is my mantle shelf. It unfortunately, does not hang above a fire place. One day, perhaps it will, but today it sits above the couch. The shelf itself was a $20 find at a thrift store in Atlanta, GA. I've toyed with the idea of painting it white, but there's something about the wood that just won't let me. img_7940 The little Christmas trees were a Marshals find for $9.99 a piece. They were the first thing I bought with this year's Christmas decor budget. My favorite thing about them are the tiny pinecones scattered throughout their branches. Pinecones give such a rustic, natural feel. The chalkboard...is kind of a long story. But suffice it to say, it was once a table top. It also functioned as the one year milestone chalkboard for my son's first birthday. Now it is the focal point of the mantel. It was originally purchased from Goodwill. Also from Goodwill are the PEACE stocking hangers, which were a total of $3 for the set. I've thought about spray painting them a different color, but for now, I like the silver. img_7937 The wreath I made myself, from some greenery I found outside our apartment. I'll be posting a tutorial next week, so be on the lookout for that. Next is the best part of Christmas decor in my opinion: the tree!! A fir is my favorite kind of tree to get. They tend to be a tad more expensive than a traditional pine tree, but the look is just so elegant. If the tree decorations look a bit sparse at the bottom, keep in mind that we have a three year old and a fifteen month old who like to rearrange the ornaments frequently. That's just real life. Ha! img_7874 I originally bought the PEACE stocking holders with the intent to hang our stockings from them (crazy idea, I know!). However, I can't currently hang them there for fear that one of my children will yank them down onto their head. So that caused me to get a little more creative with our stockings. We found this wooden ladder for $8 at a thrift store in Nicholasville, KY. img_7880 The stockings I made and you can find the tutorial here. The wooden letters labeling our stockings are gift tags from Target, $1 a piece. The printables are from Nest of Posies and in dollar store frames. This next area of my home is one of my favorites, decor wise. It's such a strange little area. Just a tiny dining room off of the living room, leading into the kitchen. But the blank canvas of the wall has become a space that has evolved over time into something I love. The chalkboard was originally a mirror with airplanes around it in primary colors that looked like it belonged in a little boy's room. It was purchased at the same thrift store in Georgia for around $12. img_7876 The wooden boxes were built by Jessica for our launch party this past May. You can see how she made them here. You can also check out our launch party, to see how that went if you missed it! The boxes were originally on our back patio and filled with soil and annual flowers. I promptly killed the flowers as I do most plants. Something about watering them on a regular basis escapes me (thank goodness the hubs has been taking the lead with watering our tree!). I cleaned out the boxes and replaced the flowers and dirt with trimmings from our tree and pinecones the kids and I collected outside. img_7877 My absolute favorite part about this room is now my dining room table. It's a true antique at 100 years old and it was a 2-3 day project that took me MONTHS to complete. Why did it take me months you ask? Because I have a bajillion projects on my to-do list and two toddlers who take up any spare time. However, I did finish the job on thanksgiving and was able to put this beautiful little table in my dining area. img_7875 That wraps it up for the Zopp homestead. Enjoy Jess' beautiful home! She has been such a home decor inspiration! Amanda Signature   Jessica's Home Hey, y'all! I, like Amanda, would decorate on November 1st every year if time allowed. I usually don't find a spare weekend until halfway through November, though, and I keep changing things up a bit over the course of the next few weeks until I get it just right. My aunt has this philosophy that each year you use last year's decor, making sure to add just a few new things {and recycling old ones} to keep up with the trends. I love that idea, so each year brings a little something new! The first stop on our tour is our entryway. It's a continual work in progress and will soon be painted white {with hopes one day to shiplap}, but in the meantime is decorated as is. I absolutely love the blue of our front door. I generally use very soft, almost neutral blues in my spring and summer decor, but Christmas doesn't lend itself to blues in my humble, farmhouse-style opinion, so the porch kind of stands on its own. I do love the way this flocked wreath looks against that blue for Christmas, though! I built the bench in our entry, and the "welcome home" sign is an old piece of art that I painted with chalkboard paint and hand-lettered. {If you need help doing your own, check out our hand-lettering tutorial here.} I ordered the Merry Christmas pillow cover from Amazon for $4.00 and picked up the table runner that's draped on the bench in the Target Dollar Spot. I am a huge fan of greenery, and you'll see these little Home Goods trees all over the house this season! The silver reindeer is from Walmart, and the wood slice, well... it's from a tree! holiday-home-tour-2 The living room has always been where we put our tree {we do a live one every year... anyone else for Team Live versus Team Artificial?}, but we converted that space to an office last year. Fitting a tree in proved a bit interesting this year, but we made it work! The old window I put together {tutorial here} then hung some Hobby Lobby picks on as well as a Hobby Lobby magnolia wreath. The wood Merry Christmas sign is available here, and the reindeer pillow tutorial is here. I just love the way the white and green and red are brought out so much more this time of year! This is arguably my favorite room in our house. holiday-home-tour-10 holiday-home-tour-4 Taking my aunt's advice, I add new things to our tree each year. The bow topper I made from a spool of Walmart ribbon, and I found the berry picks at Lowes. My three favorite things on the tree this year are the galvanized ornaments which I found at Hobby Lobby {50% off, people!}, my grandmother's antique white glass ornaments and these gold antlers which I found at Lowes. holiday-home-tour-1 I'm also a little partial to these chalkboard wood slice ornaments which I made using a tree limb, some chalk paint and a white paint marker, all tied with twine. We're making these at our upcoming workshop which you can sign up for here! holiday-home-tour-3 On the other side of our office/living room is one of my favorite thrift store finds ever! I picked up this green storage bench in Nicholasville with the intention of painting it, but love the green so much with our decor that I've never touched it except to clean off the cobwebs. I loaded it up with some grain sack pillows, a faux fur blanket, wood crate, lantern and sign and called it Christmassy! Hanging above it is a wood reindeer sign I found at Marshalls and a wire basket from Tuesday Morning. Oh, and there's that greenery again! This garland is from Lowes, and I've used it in our archways and on the soffet in our kitchen. holiday-home-tour-16 I picked up two boxwood wreaths {live, of course} at Trader Joe's this past week after hearing about these 22" ones for only $10! They look amazing even after they've dried, and I'm pretty sure these aren't going to come down when the rest of the Christmas decor does. holiday-home-tour-5 In the hallway, I recently repainted our large mirror, which used to hang in the office. In all its chippy goodness, it now hangs above an apothecary cabinet filled with Rae Dunn mugs. The three wood tree signs Amanda and I made. The books are thrift store books wrapped in white paper and tied with twine, and there's another little miniature tree from Home Goods! holiday-home-tour-9 holiday-home-tour-6 The last room on the tour today is our den. This stone fireplace is one of the features that sold us on this house, and I love decorating it each year. I found these miniature trees at Kroger and flocked them with sprayable "snow" from Walmart, then lined the mantle with garland and pinecones and added our stockings and stocking holders. The color-blocked letters were a bit of a splurge at Home Goods for almost $10 each, but so worth it! Our reindeer bust stays up year round, but definitely fits the theme! holiday-home-tour-13 holiday-home-tour-14 I built an entertainment center for our TV because I was craving open shelving in this room {mostly to show off the board and batten... I admit it}, and it was another new and fun thing to decorate this year. I added a set of three Hobby Lobby white and gold trees, two flocked trees set in wicker baskets and, my favorite item on the shelves, this red and white print from the She Reads Truth advent study last year. The two gold and white square canvases were a Gabriel Brothers find for $6 each. It's hard to see, but one says Merry Christmas and the other says Peace on Earth in gold print. **Sidebar: If you have not checked out their site or their app, She Reads Truth is a beautiful site that provides inspirational stories and devotionals for women {they have a parallel site, He Reads Truth for men} written by women, and these ladies have so many truth nuggets to share! I'd encourage you to check them out!** holiday-home-tour-12 Finally, there's this ladder! If you haven't seen my dining room storage ladder tutorial, head over here. This is the other half of that old ladder I found in our basement. I simply painted it white, and added a TJ Maxx blanket! holiday-home-tour-15 I'll be sharing our dining room and hot cocoa bar next week, and can't wait to show you all the DIYs and frugal finds to help you set up your own, so stay tuned! In the meantime, head over to Hartley Social, the next stop in our Deck the Halls Home Tour! Katie is a fellow Kentucky girl and friend of ours who posts some of the most gorgeous photos!!! She is a thriving entrepreneur, and we just think she's one of the sweetest, most supportive friends we know and, y'all, she knows her stuff! So stop by her site and show her some love! Merry Christmas! jess-signature
DIY Christmas Gifts
I am always on the hunt for cute, yet simple & easy holiday gift DIYs. There's something so personal about creating something for someone else. It takes more time, thought & effort than going to the store to buy something. It's also usually a little easier on the budget. Here are a few of my favorite ideas this holiday season.

Chalkboard Picture Frame

fancy-chalkboards-4 Christy at Confessions of a Serial DIYer found these amazing frames at an Estate sale for super cheap. You could do your own thrift store shopping for frames or even redo one you already own. The great thing about them is that a fresh coat of paint covers a multitude of sins. She used hardboard & spray chalkboard paint. Adding a a few pieces of chalk, tied in some twine, is a lovely finishing touch to the gift.

Hand Painted Coffee Mugs

sharpie-and-glitter-mug I love these. First of all because I always love a new mug for my daily coffee. And second of all, the possibilities are only limited by your creative mind (or the minds of others). Kellie at Nest of Posies blog gives you the complete & very simple tutorial for her sharpie & glitter mug pictured above. Glitter isn't your thing? No problem! Find your favorite phrase or design and get to it. You can use the sharpie method, or even grab a paint pen for more color. Not confident in your handwriting? Check out this hand-lettering post our friend Liz did a few months back.

Cinnamon Stick Candle

cinnamon I don't know about you, but I love candles. They are so warm & inviting and instantly give a cozy feel to any space. Candles make a great gift, but they can also get pretty pricey. These only require a simple vanilla candle, easily found for cheap at the dollar store or Walmart. Head on over to SheKnows.com for the full tutorial. It's so easy!

Holiday Throw Pillow

diy-reindeer-pillow Did you see this tutorial on the blog yesterday? So cute! And so easy to do. Check out Jess' post for her awesome DIY project that's as easy on the budget as it is on the eyes. Who wouldn't love to receive one of these adorable throw pillows this Christmas? And it's easy to customize with your own design.

Wood Sign

img_6975 Every one loves a wood sign. They are so simple to make! Just grab a slab of wood, stain it, use our awesome transfer paper method, & paint. You can literally use any phrase you want. Just find the font, print it out and you're good to go! No hand lettering required! You can find our wood sign tutorial here. The sign pictured here is part of our craft night, hosted by Daily Offerings Coffee Roastery on December 20th. If you haven't signed up to join us yet, please do! Salt & Life Blog will be supplying everything you need to make a wood sign, miniature boxwood style wreath, and wood slice chalk ornaments. Make sure you register here to reserve your supplies! There are so many more ideas out there, but that's all for now. I hope you're able to check at least a few names off your Christmas list. Be sure to share with us your photos of any completed projects. We would love to see how they turn out! Merry Christmas, Friends! Amanda Signature