From the category archives:

make something

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Here’s another super cute option for your Valentines this year! All it’s an easy one too. Print and trim the free printable, and attach an inexpensive rubber stamp. That’s it! Yes, it’s candy free, and yes, it’s appealing to all sorts of kids. Who wouldn’t love a little stamp with animal feet!

And bonus, the printable is a little ruler, so your kids can measure any real animal footprints they come across. Best valentine ever!

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Before we jump into the instructions, I have a quick question. How are your schools handling Valentine’s Day this year? Since it’s on Sunday, will your classrooms be celebrating on the Friday before? Or the Monday after? For us, it depends on the teacher. One is skipping a Valentine’s party altogether (though the kids are allowed to exchange valentines), another is having the celebration on Monday, and I’m not sure what the third one is doing. I better go check!

Now, let’s get to it!

Printable and sources below. Click here.


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By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Oh my goodness you guys. This is the cutest little project! I’m basically in love with it. And even if you are not crafty, this is doable, I promise. Can you print things out? Can you buy chocolate? Do you have scissors and tape? Then you can make these! You’ll love writing sweet messages with them, and so will your kids.

As you can guess with the timing of this post, these wraps were originally brainstormed as a Valentine’s Day project. But once the chocolates starting getting wrapped, it became clear that these wraps would be adorable any time of year! Write messages for Mother’s Day, for birthdays, for book club, for a baby shower. Wrap up initials as place markers at a dinner party. Drop off a sweet chocolate note for a friends who is having a hard day.

You simply can’t go wrong with these happy little wraps!

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Amy Christie led out on this project and here’s what she says:

This project is probably one of my favorites ever. It’s the colors, the cuteness, all the possibilities of messages to write and it’s chocolate!! #winning to the max. And while this week is all about Valentine’s Day, like Gabrielle said, these sweet treats can be used for any occasion throughout the year! New babies, dad’s day, kid’s day, after-surgery day, teacher gifts, a treat for the mail carrier. Even a ho-hum date night. Everyone, EVERYONE, will love this.

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We picked fab colors and all you have to do is print, cut and wrap. If you sneak a few chocolates while you’re working, that’s okay too.

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Brush up on your proofreading skills and let’s get going.

Click here for instructions and the free printables!


Creating a Bathroom Pantry

February 8, 2016

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Photos and text by Gabrielle. Photos of me were shot by Maude Blair. This post is brought to you by IKEA.

So I’m totally into this project! I can’t wait to tell you all about it. IKEA issued the Daily Creativity Challenge: Take one area of your home, and organize it or make it more efficient, so that it frees up a few minutes of your day. Then take those minutes and use them to focus on a creative pursuit. Awesome, right?

I love this, because I’m always up for making the house run more smoothly, and because making the most of small chunks of time is something that has been on my mind. I have a lot of very different projects I want to take on this year, and I’ve been thinking about how to divide my day into small segments — each segment dedicated to a different project — in order to move them all forward. So this challenge really came at a perfect time.

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I thought about this challenge for awhile, and decided that at our house, something that could really help free up some brain space, and keep our mornings running smoothly, would be to create a “bathroom pantry” for the kids. If we don’t stay on top of our supplies, it totally causes preventable stress — like having Olive realize mid-shower there’s no more conditioner, or hearing Oscar report that we’re on the last role of TP and wondering if it will last until I can get to the store that evening.

Historically, we’ve been pretty good about staying stocked up on bathroom supplies, but in this house, we don’t have much in the way of cupboard space in the kids’ bathroom, and it’s been more challenging. So I figured we could use some blank wall space to add some shelving and create a bathroom pantry.

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Yes, it’s out in the open, which is tricky, because bathroom supplies aren’t necessarily handsome, but IKEA is actually perfect for that sort of challenge — they’re all about affordable storage solutions! That fantastic red shelf? It’s called VITTSJÖ and it’s $49 bucks! That green rubber laundry basket? It’s called TORKIS and it’s $4.99!

And it turns out there’s actually a big benefit to having everything out in the open: It’s much easier to stay aware of our stockpile. I’ve instructed the older kids to text me whenever they see any bathroom supply hit the 50% mark. Then I just copy the text to my ongoing grocery list and — tada! — we’re doing a much better job of staying on top of our supplies.

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If you’d like to use this idea, here are the products we’ve found most helpful. The VARIERA bins. We used these for the TP, and for general supplies. I like the red and blue interiors combined with the high gloss white — such a fun way to add a color accent. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but they coordinate really well with these GESSAN boxes. Plus I really like the nesting blue PALLRA boxes. These are great for storing things like first aid items and ointments that call for more privacy.

More product links, before and after photos, plus the project I’m working on with my newly free minutes — click here!


Edible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine! | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Happy February! Pull out your red construction paper and your pink glitter and your heart stamps, because for the next two weeks it’s all about Valentine’s Day. Are you excited? Neutral on the subject? No interested at all?

Well, wherever you fall on the Valentine’s Day spectrum, you’ll like this project. It’s all about how to print out and fold this handy little wrap-style envelope. Yes, this envelope is perfect for gently wrapping up a Valentine sweet, but it’s also useable any week of the year, and can be printed on any colored or patterned paper you like.

Edible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design Mom Edible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design Mom Edible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design Mom

Use these simple envelopes to wrap up a note, the pony bead necklace your son made for his aunt, cookies or chocolates, a set of coasters, friendship bracelets — really, anything that’s small and relatively flat. These are so simple and so useful! You’ll want to make a stack to have at the ready.

Bonus: Amy Christie shot the photos for this project and made awesome initial cookies from font printouts. So you can learn how to do that in this post too!

Edible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design Mom Edible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design Mom

Before we jump to the how-to, I’m curious. When prepping for Valentine’s Day, do you make valentines for your friends? And have you ever heard of Gal-antines Day gatherings? The idea is to celebrate your gal-friends on February 14th instead of focusing on who does or doesn’t have a love interest at the moment. I’m thinking these little wraps are perfect for cookie deliveries to your circle of friends.

Okay. On to the instructions!

Click here for the tutorial, recipe and notes!


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By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Facing another snow day? Well I’ve got the perfect activity to keep the kids active and happy — and the main thing you need is old markers. Emphasis on the old! Before you throw away that set of neglected/mostly-dried out markers, give them one more shot at artistic glory. Use them to make snow paint!

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As you can imagine, Oakland is not snowed in at the moment (or ever), so I asked Minnesota-based Amy Christie, to help us out with this DIY.

The photo turned out so wonderfully! They make me want to load up the car and head to Tahoe so we can have a snow day too — snow painting, sledding, making a snowman. Hmmm. We don’t have school tomorrow because of a teacher prep day, so maybe we can really make this happen!

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Before we jump into this very easy DIY, I’d love to hear the snow situation in your part of the world. Are you snowed in? Stuck at home? Or are you seeing all the snow photos on social media and wishing you had an excuse to pull out your mittens and snow boots?

Click here for the simple tutorial!


Wood You Be My Valentine? | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

It’s been a whole year since I pulled out my wood burner/etcher. But I’m feeling the burn once again! So I was brainstorming possible wood-etched crafts with Amy, and she happened to mention there are metal initials you can use with your wood burner. They attach to the wood burner, heat up, and then “brand” the wood.

Well, that pretty much blew my mind, because trying to write with a wood burner is super hard and I generally avoid it, but now that I know about wood burning letters, it opens up all sorts of awesome possibilities!

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Awesome possibilities like these wooden initial pins! We’re calling them heart flair. (Did you ever see Office Space?) And the concept is pretty simple. Take pre-cut wooden hearts, burn in the initials of your true love (or all your 3rd grader’s classmates), and then glue a brooch pin on the back.

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You’ll find links to all the supplies below. Plus! There’s a super cute FREE printable to go with the pins!! Wood you be my valentine?

Get your etching tool plugged in and let’s get started.

Full tutorial straight ahead!


Knitted & Felted Seat Pad | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Anette.

Remember that big knit mega scarf that I shared in November? Well, Anette sent me another chunky knit project, and I immediately wanted to share it with you. I continue to find big knit everything hugely appealing.

In this case, the project is for your home. It’s a thick wool cushion for your chairs, and it looks so cozy and easy to make — Anette knits these with her fingers!

Knitted & Felted Seat Pad | Design Mom Knitted & Felted Seat Pad | Design Mom

I want 8 of these, pronto, for our kitchen chairs. Or maybe to use as a stack of floor cushions!

Before we jump to the how-to, I’d love to know, have you ever knit something with your fingers? And do you know how to follow knitting instructions — chains, rows, casting on, etc.? I have experimented a bit with knitting, but I’m a complete novice. I usually depend on my daughter Maude to help me with knitting projects because she’s taken more lessons. What’s your take on knitting?

Click here for the tutorial!


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By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

I was brainstorming DIYs for this month with Amy Christie, and she brought up craft paper punches. And I basically responded, “Paper punches? I think I have like five. I used them to punch the edge of some stationery once, and now they’re just collecting dust.” And Amy told me she was about to blow my mind, because she’s been playing with hers and figured out how to really maximize their possibilities. To which I replied, “Bring on the DIY!”

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So think of this as a double DIY. Yes, you’ll learn how to make pretty votives, but even more awesome: you’ll learn a whole bunch of new tricks that you can do with your paper punches.

And dang I love stuff like that! I love making the most of tools I already have, and re-thinking how I might use them.

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If you are the proud owner of paper punches, then this tutorial is especially for you.

Click here for the tutorial!


Have a plain brown paper package? Here's a few ideas how to dress it up! | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

I’m in love with this post! It’s not really a how-to or a DIY post. Instead, it’s designed to inspire and spark ideas. It’s all about how to embellish simple brown wrapping paper, and it’s chock full of examples.

How to Dress Up a Brown Paper Package | Design Mom

Even if you don’t have any of the add-ons featured in the photos, you probably have something similar. Raid the junk drawer and the craft cupboard. Scour your yard and the recycling bin. There’s a good chance you’ve already got everything you need to wrap your gifts up gorgeously this year.

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Ribbons, paints, jingle bells, pom poms — dressing up the wrapped gift is almost as fun as giving it in the first place! Let’s get wrapping. This is going to be fun!

Click here for notes and ideas!


Colorful Bauble Gift Tags - Print them yourself! | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Stephanie Lee for Design Mom.

Let’s talk holiday colors for a minute. When you pull out your boxes and bins of decorations, what is the main color you see?

At our house, I would say brown is one of the key colors since we’ve moved to the treehouse — wooden ornaments, pinecones, kraft paper wrapping, burlap ribbon — that sort of stuff. But I’ve tried a few different things over the years. Gold was definitely the key color for the first years of our marriage, and I still have the gold-gilded, papier-maché fruit ornaments I made for our first Christmas together. I also have a long-standing thing for the traditional red and green — in fact, if you were at my house right now, you would see a lot of red and green mixed in with the brown.

Free Colorful Printable Bauble Gift Tags | Design Mom

In addition, there’s one big ornament bin that has less-traditional colors. Pink and turquoise and yellow and purple. It started with a string of lights. In the late 90s Nordstrom based their holiday decor on the book, Olive The Other Reindeer, and they had these awesome lights to match. Globe bulbs in really interesting color combinations. (Does anyone else remember these?) I bought a string and wrapped it around a wreath, and hung it in the kids’ room.

Then, my friend Denise Daniel gave me several boxes of vintage ornaments she found in the very old house she bought — an assortment of gorgeous metallic pastels. I still have every one. They are like treasure! More recently, our daughter Olive added strings of pink lights that she used in a Taylor Swift costume.

Free Colorful Printable Bauble Gift Tags | Design Mom

It may be too late for this year, but I keep thinking I want get one of those bright white artificial trees and fill it with all my pinks and yellows and vintage blues. It would be a totally different look than what I’ve got going on right now, but would look fun in our family room against the colors in this wall map.

And speaking of non-traditional colors, Stephanie Lee, a maker in Australia, sent over these awesome printable gift tags in sherbet shades. They would be perfect under a pink-lit tree! Plus, they make a really good last-minute addition to your packages. Just print, trim and go!

But before we get to printing out gift tags, I’m curious. Do you have a particular color scheme you prefer for the holidays? Do you lean more traditional or more non-traditional? And have you ever switched it up?

Gift tag download and instructions when you click here.


DIY: Stamped Wrapping Paper

December 9, 2015

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Oh my goodness. Amy Christie texted me a photo of some stamped wrapping paper she was working on and I fell in love! I immediately begged her to share it on Design Mom. It looks so dang cool — that perfect combination of handmade and chic — and it’s made using pretty much the easiest (and kid-friendliest!) technique in the world: stamping.

Even better, the simple “stamps” are made from bits of cardboard! There’s probably some sitting in your recycling bin right this minute.

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Here’s what Amy says:

As you can imagine, I love when things look handmade which means I love the look of hand-stamped wrapping paper. It looks a little more rustic and imperfect and it feels like it means just a little more because someone spent time on it. (This is not to say I don’t love store-bought wrapping paper. There is some gorgeous stuff out there!) At least once a Christmas season, I try to make a few versions of hand-stamped wrapping paper. I don’t always use it all each season so I have a small collection of paper I’ve stamped. I’ll be honest — some of it I’m finding it hard to part with. Haha!

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This time, when I went to my craft cupboard to make some stamped wrapping paper, I didn’t have the supplies I thought I did so I improvised. And they turned out great! Just proves you don’t need lots of fancy supplies to make cool things.

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Stamped wrapping paper is a great project for everyone in your family. It’s a basic process — covering the stamp in paint and pressing it on paper — and there is no stress to make it perfect. Irregular prints and patterns just make the paper more interesting. If children are joining in, think about protecting the work surface with paper, and the ground below (just in case). Then let them stamp. It will be enjoyable for all!

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Roll up your sleeves and let’s get started!

Click here for the tutorial!


One Holiday Entry, Three Ways - see the same space, transformed for the holidays, in 3 different styles.

Photos and text by Gabrielle. Video by the amazing Gusto Life in Digital. This post is brought to you by Pier 1 Imports.

I’m so excited to share this project with you! I worked with Pier 1 to create a video showing how to put together a holiday entry in three totally different styles. This project was so much fun! And the video is pretty darn adorable if I do say so myself. (Watch for the hedgehog!)

Do you have a particular holiday style? There are so many different things I like, so I’m the kind of person that seems to change it up every few years. Sometimes I go for a homemade feel, other times it’s more glamorous — in France, I worked in some French Industrial touches. And there are years when I crave the colors and style of my own childhood holidays.

In the video, I share 3 distinct styles, and I’m so curious which one appeals to you most! First, I show a theme I’m calling Natural Holiday. Then, I focus on Classic Christmas. And I finish up with Winter Sparkle. The whole video takes place in the entry, and I focus there for two reasons: 1) It makes the first impression! I want my entry to greet people with seasonal cheer, and give a happy holiday feeling to everyone who comes to the front door — neighbors, family, even the UPS delivery guy. And 2) because my mother always did the entry up beautifully. Still to this day, it’s wonderful to visit her home during the holidays and simply walk in the front door.

One Holiday Entry, Three Ways - see the same space, transformed for the holidays, in 3 different styles.

Here are a few of my best tips when you’re putting together your holiday decor:

- To make guests feel really welcome and comfortable, think about the five senses. When they walk in the door, make sure there is something beautiful for them to SEE — a holiday display, a bowl full of ornaments, a garland with lights. Think about what they’ll SMELL as they come in the door. Maybe a scented candle, or something simmering on the stove. Prep a cheery playlist so your guests ears will fill with something wonderful to HEAR. Keep some holiday treats at the ready — peppermint bark, hot cocoa, clementines — so you can offer visitors something to TASTE. And finally, add cozy throw pillows and throw blankets to your seating (and think about extra seating for surprise guests!), so that guests can make themselves comfortable and FEEL at home.

- To make it really magical for the kids, I like to add little surprises for them to discover. Like a woodland creature hidden in the display. Or a little toy wind up toy that they’ll know is meant for them. Or maybe a children’s holiday book to catch their eye.

One Holiday Entry, Three Ways - see the same space, transformed for the holidays, in 3 different styles.

- If you like to keep the holidays homey, I recommend taking inspiration from the Natural Holiday theme in the video. Start by gathering anything beautiful you’ve found outside‚ things like green boughs, pine cones, and a stack of firewood. Then add natural textures like burlap and wool, and rustic accents like a metal bucket to hold your pine boughs. Finish off with candles to add soft light. I love this them because it brings a cabin-y mood to your home.

We’ve celebrated two years in this house, and used nature as our inspiration both years. This place is called The Treehouse for a reason, and nature always looks good here! : )

- When budget is a concern, I like to focus on one color. It’s the most effective way to make a big impact! In the video I focus on red for Classic Christmas, but really you could focus on any color you crave during the holidays.

Pull out anything red you already own in your holiday decorations, then gather red things from around the house (like red books or red boots!), and put them all together in a fun display. Focusing on one color is also a great solution when you’re too busy to spend time thinking about holiday decorations. The color makes all the decisions for you. I should also note, this one color trick also works for parties and gatherings all year long!

One Holiday Entry, Three Ways - see the same space, transformed for the holidays, in 3 different styles.

- Though I have loved all the different decorations we’ve used throughout the years, I definitely think my first instinct for holiday decorating is metallics. Silver and gold. Anything shiny or shimmery or glittery. And that’s what I focused on in the Winter Sparkle section of the video.

I love this look! Pulling all those shiny surfaces together, and adding lots of candlelight or twinkle lights to bounce off their surfaces, makes for a pretty magical mood. I loved adding in my sons’ trombone and trumpet, and also pulling in family photos with frames in silver and gold.

One Holiday Entry, Three Ways - see the same space, transformed for the holidays, in 3 different styles. One Holiday Entry, Three Ways - see the same space, transformed for the holidays, in 3 different styles.

- Whatever your holiday decorating style, Pier 1 has something you’ll love! Their holiday collections are so good — I had the hardest time narrowing down which products I wanted to show in the video. I wanted to show one of everything!

Now it’s your turn. Do you feel like you have a preferred decorating style for the holidays? Or do you like to mix it up like me? Did one of the styles in the video appeal to you the most? Do you bring in any nostaliga to your holiday decorating? Like maybe an ornament from your childhood? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — Here is a small selection of some of my favorite Pier 1 products from the video. From Natural Holiday, don’t miss the Merry Christmas Burlap Banner, the little Hedgehog Ornament, the shimmery Pinecone Garland, and the Oversize Gift Tags.

From Classic Christmas, definitely check out the Sweater Pom Pom Teapot, the light-up JOY Marquee Sign, the Glitter Berry Wreaths, and this Peppermint Creme Scented Candle

From Winter Sparkle, there’s the amazing Capiz Sleigh, the Metallic Ornament Wreath, the Beaded Garland, and this Glitter Candle.

I featured a ton of other Pier 1 products in the videos, so if you’re curious about anything in particular, let me know and I’ll see if I can find the link.


DIY: Stamped Clay Place Cards

November 24, 2015

Stamped Place Cards for Your Holiday Table | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Do you use place cards at your formal meals? We rarely have. But I feel like we should use them more often, because they can really make set table feel extra-special. As a guest, seeing a card with my name on it, made for me, in a spot set for me, is delightful. Proof someone thought of me! : ) I loved seeing a place set with my name as a child, and it’s pretty darn wonderful as an adult too.

Stamped Place Cards | Design Mom

This particular place card idea really caught my attention, because I love the mixture of materials — clay and twine with a touch of metallic. And I could imagine my kids working on these and having a wonderful time.

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So Amy Christie whipped up some samples and we’ve got an easy tutorial for you today. Here’s what Amy says:

On Thanksgiving when I was young, my mom would bring along a project for all the cousins to do while we weren’t eating. Painting salt-dough turkeys, and making a large banner about thankfulness, are the two I remember most. It gave us something to do, inspired by the holiday, and it came in handy when the weather was inclement.

Stamped Place Cards for Your Holiday Table | Design Mom

If you are looking for an easy and simple and fairly clean project for the little ones celebrating with you, these stamped clay place cards are a great choice. And if you have any budding spellers, this is extra fun! Bonus: if you worry about misspelling names, these place cards are easily fixed. Instead of throwing out the whole thing, just toss the erring letter (or two) and add in the corrections.

I also love this project because I’ve always been a fan of place cards. Over the years, we’ve made several versions for our tablescapes, holiday and otherwise. Even in their simplicity, I liked them enough to keep a small stack of the ones with my name in my childhood desk drawer.

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Want to try these? Let’s get started.

Click here for the tutorial!


DIY: Easy Half-Moon Pendant

November 18, 2015

Half-Moon Pendant | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

I’m so excited to share this project with you. Amy Christie and I have been talking about it for months! We saw this gorgeous half-moon pendant necklace by Winifred Grace and we both went all heart-eyes for it. Alas, it’s no longer for sale, but Amy reached out to Winifred and asked permission to try and recreate something similar in a DIY post, and Winifred said yes! Which means, lucky us! We can all learn to make one. We can make one to bling up our own holiday wardrobe, or we can make a bunch and gift them to all of our favorite people.

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Here’s what Amy says about the project:

With an eight-month old on my hip, I rarely wear jewelry in my everyday life, aside from simple studs in my ears. It can get in the way so it’s easier to go without. However, the holidays inspire me to elevate my attire, step up my getup. From family dinners to holiday parties, I dig out my trinkets and add a sparkle and shine to my outfits.

The half-moon pendant is right up my alley. It’s simple and clean and goes with just about everything. I do not have the skills or materials for metal work but I can create a half-moon pendant necklace with polymer clay and gold leaf. And you totally can, too.

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Polymer clay is the chameleon of materials; it can be made to look like so many substances. For this piece, the gold leaf does the work, giving the half-moon a metal-like appearance. Add a couple of jump rings and a length of leather cord and this inspired necklace is ready to wear in no time.

If you’ve ever wanted to make your own jewelry with polymer clay, this is the tutorial for you. It’s super easy and in no time, you will be all shiny for the holidays.

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Let’s get to it!

[click to continue…]


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By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Last Thanksgiving, I put together an easy centerpiece for the table. I gathered greens and leaves from the yard, placed them in a big circle in the center of the table, and then nestled an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables (plus some twinkly votive candles!) into the greens.

I love how it turned out! You can see a peek here. It gives that cornucopia feeling of plenty. You can use all the fruits and veggies when it’s done being a centerpiece — so nothing goes to waste. And I love that it sits low on the table, making it easy for people seated across from each other to have a conversation.

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Some years, we have the food in the center of the table, and we have to keep the centerpiece much smaller. But when “the family” expands to 20+ people, and spills to more than one table, we keep the food on the kitchen island and let guests serve themselves buffet style. In those situations, the center of the tables remains open, and I get to be more generous with the table decorations.

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Thinking some of you might want to try a centerpiece like this too, Amy Christie offered to recreate something similar, and photograph the steps as she went. Hooray! Here’s what Amy says:

Yes. Thanksgiving is about family and food. But at our house, Thanksgiving is also about a beautifully set table to hold the food and feed the family. It’s the day the extra special dishes are used, maybe the real silver silverware and the vintage table linens. I remember setting many holiday tables and it all began with asking my mom which plates to use, the fancy white ones or the fancy china ones with the tiny blue flowers. Either choice was good, either choice made for a beautiful table.


There are so many ways to decorate a table, and this year, I am in love with this idea for a colorful, natural, mostly edible centerpiece. The produce stacked with the natural pieces, the leaves, grasses and berry sprigs, is fundamental fall and will definitely give our Thanksgiving table a serious upgrade.


The how-to for this table centerpiece is a subjective sort of thing. Use what you like and what you can find. Adjust it fit the table, while making sure to leave space for the place settings. And, most importantly, make it look good to you. It takes some moving things around to figure out the right balance but the end result is gorgeous.

I have tips for you below so don’t sweat it. It’s a cinch to put together.

Click here for the tutorial!


DIY: Giant Knit Mega Scarf

November 4, 2015

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By Gabrielle.

Oh my goodness. My obsession with giant knit blankets and poufs and pillows continues. There’s just something about those oversize stitches! The texture is pretty much irresistible — it demands to be touched and cozied up to. If you’re trying to communicate comfy, any oversize knit piece will do so immediately.

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I’m always on the look out for giant knit projects when I’m on places like Pinterest. And when I saw the work of Anette, I begged her to share one of her tutorials on Design Mom. Happily, she said, “Yes!” So let’s whip up chunky knit scarves for everybody!

Here’s Anette:

Hi, my name is Anette. I’m a German born and raised, award-winning jewelry designer who also loves wool and fibers and handwork of all kinds and have for as long as I can remember. It all started in my mother’s kitchen where little me used to crochet endless meters of chains. After spending many years on California’s beaches with my husband and our two children, we recently moved back to a city loft in northern Germany. My days are now spent with happy, busy hands — creating, styling and photographing for clients.

I created this scarf because I love the unusual, esthetic and artsy look of items created with super chunky yarn. It’s so much fun to work with and really inspiring to use to create very unique things.

Make a Chunky Knitted Mega Scarf | Design Mom

The scarf was knitted in a garter stitch from about 2kg (4.4lbs) felted Little Dandelion Merino yarn with over 1m (1.09 yards) long knitting tubes that have a diameter of 50mm (1.9″).

The finished scarf measures about 25cm (9.8″) wide and 2.70m (2.95 yards) in length. Aren’t those gigantic stitches beautiful?

The classic garter stitch looks so cool and modern because of the unusual dimensions. I think everyone must have a special scarf like this and, to make it with interesting materials and tools, makes it extra special.

Click her to see the giant knitting needles she uses!


DIY: Moonlit Mummy Lanterns

October 27, 2015


By Gabrielle.

I like to keep a few last-minute decoration ideas on hand for any given holiday or event. Some years are busier than others, and I can’t always go all out with preparations. But if I have some easy ideas in my back pocket, then it’s much more likely that I’ll be able to add some instant magic to the house.

My internet friend Amy, just came out with a book called Washi Tape Crafts. It has tons of ideas for cute ways you can use washi tape, and even offers technique guidance — like how to get a good precision tear, how to weave with washi, and how to create specific shapes. Most of the ideas are for anytime crafts, but some are centered on specific holidays, and when I saw the mummy lanterns, I thought they were a perfect last-minute Halloween idea!


Happily, Amy sent over the instructions so I could share them here.

Fast and easy DIY instructions when you click through.


Homemade Pippi Longstocking Halloween Costume DIY

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

On Saturday, we went to our church Halloween party. It was a “trunk-or-treat”! If you haven’t heard of a trunk or treat, it’s basically a chance for all the families in our congregation to get together and see the kids dressed up in their costumes. Our congregation covers a big area geographically, which means we don’t all attend the same schools or live in the same neighborhoods, and won’t likely get to see each other on actual Halloween, so this is a fun substitute.

Families gather in the parking lot at the church and the kids go from car trunk to car trunk trick-or-treating. Some people decorate their trunks, but it’s not a requirement. I especially love trunk-or-treat for very young kids. It happens in broad daylight, in a contained area, with no moving vehicles, and there are lots of familiar faces — so it’s less intimidating for little ones than actual trick-or-treating from house to house, and it doesn’t take up a lot of time.

Homemade Pillow Monster Halloween Costume DIY. Cheap and easy!

The only downside of our trunk-or-treat, is that it moves up our costume deadline by a week. That’s not really a bad thing, in fact, I like that I don’t have to think about costumes this week — we’re all set for the school costume parade on Friday and for trick-or-treating on Saturday. Feels good to have that marked off my to-do list. The earlier deadline just means we have to get working on costumes a little sooner in October than we probably would otherwise.

Here’s a little report on what the kids wore:

Homemade Mermaid Costume DIY for a Little Girl. Perfect for Halloween.

Flora June Blair. Mermaid.

Homemade Mermaid Costume DIY for a Little Girl. Perfect for Halloween. Homemade Mermaid Costume DIY for a Little Girl. Perfect for Halloween.

For this costume, I found a sequin dress in the women’s dept at Goodwill, then remade it into a skirt and added the tulle. I used extra material from the dress to sew “seashells” onto one of her gymnastics leotards. June’s original vision for this costume was to have a true mermaid tail. When I explained she wouldn’t be able to walk for trick or treating, she thought about it for awhile and then told me she had an idea. “Let’s make a glass bathtub and I’ll lay in it with my mermaid tail and we can fill it with water, and Oscar and Betty can carry me to each door.”

Homemade Mermaid Costume DIY for a Little Girl. Perfect for Halloween. Add sequin "seashells" to a leotard.

June likes this costume very much but not-so-secretly wishes it turned her into an actual mermaid. Also, for the photos, she wanted to have a sort-of serious expression. I think she feels mermaids are very solemn.

Full costume report and lots more photos when you click here!


DIY: Wired Word for Your Wall

September 23, 2015


By Gabrielle.

My friend, Anne Weil of Flax & Twine, just came out with a new book that I can’t wait to tell you about! It’s called Knitting Without Needles. If you’ve ever wanted to try knitting but feel a bit intimidated, then this book is for you. Because it’s made for Non-Knitters and Knitters alike! The projects are totally doable, and because so many of them use big yarns, they make a big impact.

When you’re thinking about making gifts for the holidays, this book is a fantastic resource for easy and quick projects. And Knitting Without Needles is a great way to bring chunky knits (which are all the rage!) into your home without the big price tag.


The book is filled with tons of cool projects, including this happy throw rug and these chunky pillows:

knittingwithoutneedles_floorrug KnittingWithoutNeedles_chunky-pillows

I’m feeling like a lucky duck today, because I get to share instructions for one of the projects from the book with you! You can make the fantastic Wired Word shown at the top of this post! I think it would be so cute in a nursery or a reading nook. Bisous means kisses in French, but you can write anything you like. Any word, any color, any script. The possibilities are endless!

Click here for the tutorial, and to see the floor pouf project from the book in my living room!


Homemade and All-Natural Skin Care Recipes - made from ingredients you already have at home!

Photo and intro by Gabrielle. Expert advice by Rachael Weesjes. 

My new friend, Rachael, is an esthetician. In April, she generously shared her best skin care tips, and lucky for us, she also offered to share her fabulous at-home concoctions to solve our skin concerns. These are natural, food-based, creams and cleansers — I’m betting you’ve got all the ingredients you’ll need in your kitchen right now. So let’s get started! Glowing skin, straight ahead!

A lot of people avoid the word oil when it comes to buying products for their skin. They think they have oily skin already and that’s a bad thing, so adding more oil to it will make it worse. But I wish everyone would throw that mindset out the window today and never let it back in!

Oil dissolves oil. Say it with me: Oil dissolves oil. Cleansers for oily skin tend to be drying, so your sebaceous glands, which are microscopic glands in the skin that secrete the oil, are going to go into overdrive because they are getting the message that all the oil is gone and they then produce even more oil than before. That leads to more blocked pores, more blemishes, more oil, more cleansing, and round and round it goes.

Let’s start with a cleansing option. You’ll need two oils for this part. First is castor oil. This is your base oil and you will not be using a lot of it. For oily skin you will use 30% castor oil to 70% of your secondary oil choice. You might want to tweak the amounts depending on your own personal results. You know those travel-sized shampoo bottles? Perfect size in which to mix your cleanser.

Your secondary oil will be a vegetable oil or sunflower seed oil or sweet almond oil. I like extra virgin olive oil. Castor oil will remove the impurities in your skin, has anti-inflammatory properties, and will heal your skin as well. The EVOO prevents dryness. Remember, if you use too much castor oil you will end up with super dry skin.

Once it’s mixed, pour a puddle into the palm of your hand, rub your hands together to warm it, and start to massage your face. For the castor oil to do its job properly, massage for five minutes. I say five because everyone always does three! Then, take a hot washcloth and lay it over your face, leaving it there until it’s cool. Wipe away the oil with the washcloth. You will probably have to repeat this step two or three times to make sure you’ve removed all the oil. This is actually where many people stop because they find that their skin is moisturized enough just from the cleansing. And you can stop here if this is how you cleanse your skin frequently, but if you want that little extra treat of a facial you can continue with the next steps. I will add that if you start to do the oil cleansing method, you really should do it only at night before bed;  if you are washing your face at night, there is no need to wash it in the morning. And bonus! A lot of people don’t find the need to cleanse every night once they start with this method.

Next is toner. Mix two teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar – it must be organic – and two teaspoons of tap water. Dip a cotton ball into the mix and wipe your face. If you find the vinegar too strong of a smell, wait five minutes after toning and then rinse with water. Otherwise, continue on with the facial. If you find your skin reacts to the vinegar, dilute it more with the water.

On to exfoliating! Grind one tablespoon of oats, add one tablespoon of honey, apply to your face, and rub in gentle circles for three to five minutes. Rinse off with water.

And now for the mask, which is my favorite step because you get to be a scientist and mix up ingredients any way you want! This one is a lemon and egg-white mask. Lemon is rich in Vitamin C, it’s great for getting rid of sun spots and uneven skin tone, and it will help exfoliate. You will notice tightness once you apply the egg whites, but that will go away once you remove the mask.

Beat one egg-white until it’s frothy. Add lemon juice (the equivalent of half of a lemon) to the egg-white, apply it to your face avoiding the eye area, leave on for 15 minutes up to 30 minutes, and rinse off with warm water.

I like to use coconut oil as a finishing cream. Choose the organic, unrefined kind. It is a hard white substance when cold, but at 24 degrees Celsius it melts and becomes oil. Melt about half a tablespoon in your hands, and massage your face with it.

You may find that your skin will get a bit worse before it gets better. Apple cider vinegar will definitely open up blockages and a lot of oil will be released, which can cause more breakouts. But be patient: it will subside once your skin adjusts to how nicely you are treating it!

Solutions for dry and aging skin, just ahead!

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