From the category archives:

make something

DIY: Cereal Box Embossing

August 27, 2014

DIY Cereal Box Embossing - Customize all your school supplies!  |  Design Mom

cheerios boxBy Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.  //  This post is brought to you by Cheerios — makers of wholesome, sustainable products that families love!

 

 

When I was in fifth grade, my name written in bubble letters was how I personalized my notebooks. When I was in high school, I covered my textbooks in plain paper and filled them in with doodles — favorite band names and not-so-secret crushes. At the start of the school year, the clean surfaces of brand new school supplies offer such an inviting blank slate. For a sleek, modern twist on notebook personalization, I thought creating a DIY embossing plate from recycled cardboard would be a lovely way to add your mark to your school supplies.

DIY Cereal Box Embossing - Customize all your school supplies!  |  Design Mom

This idea came from a challenge I received from the good people at Cheerios. Cheerios has long had a focus on sustainability. Some of the sustainable features are straightforward — for example, their boxes are made from 100% recycled materials — and have been since the 1930′s!

Other sustainable features I had no idea about, but am impressed by. For example, their Minnesota milling plant uses a bio-mass burner that burns the oat hulls and creates the energy needed to run the whole plant. Then, the ashes from the hulls are returned to the oat farmers. Then, the farmers use the ashes to fertilize their crops. Circle of life! You can see more about their efficiency and sustainability on their website, or check out the graphic I included at the bottom of the post.

So their challenge to me was to create a project that uses their recycled cardboard cereal boxes — something most families have on hand at any given moment. I love a good challenge, and since we’re in the middle of back-to-school season, I immediately thought of this cardboard embossing technique and how it might relate to school supplies.

DIY Cereal Box Embossing - Customize all your school supplies!  |  Design MomDSC_0625-1

Making your own embossing plate out of cereal boxes offers so much variation and freedom. The sky is the limit on shapes and initials. And once the plate is made, you can emboss to your heart’s content — the cardboard form will last a long time!

DIY Cereal Box Embossing - Customize all your school supplies!  |  Design Mom

I did a lot of experimenting to figure out best practices and have detailed them all in the tutorial below. Chances are you have everything you need in your home already  — just pull that Cheerios box out of your recycling bin and let’s get started!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DIY: Cement Pencil Holder

August 25, 2014

DIY: Cement Desk Organizer and Pencil Holder   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie. // This post is brought to you by Office Depot. #TeachersChangeLives and so can you! Go here to find out more.

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It’s official: a new school year is upon us! And like many kids, my children have the itch to make something for their new teachers. A drawing, a little piece of origami, a sweet note. Of course, I always wonder if there’s something we can add, something to go along with the little note or drawing, that their teacher will find useful. A gift card so that their teachers can buy supplies for the classroom is always helpful, but if you’re in the making sort of mood (I am!), I thought this cement desk organizer fits the bill very nicely.

DIY: Cement Desk Organizer and Pencil Holder   |   Design Mom

The project incorporates two of my favorite things — fresh school supplies, and cement. Best of all, it’s not just for pens and pencils. This handsome + utilitarian item can be designed to hold any number and any size of desk accessories. The style and layout is all up to you!

DIY: Cement Desk Organizer and Pencil Holder   |   Design Mom

Don’t be anxious about working with cement for this project. Yes, it requires concentration and muscle (which surely you have in spades), and an odd combination of working fast and waiting. But the end product is worth it. These heavy duty holders would look handsome on any desk!

DIY: Cement Desk Organizer and Pencil Holder   |   Design Mom

Plus, there are lots of ways to include the kids on this project, from gathering supplies, to stirring cement, to decorating the dried organizer with Sharpies (we used silver).

Ready to get to work? Let’s go.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DIY Snack-time Placemats - Free Printable!   |   Design Mom

Photos and text by Gabrielle. // This post is brought to you by Blue Diamond Almonds.

BD Almonds Logo

It’s Back to School season! I love this time of year — really, I love anything that gives a feeling of fresh-starts and new chances and do-overs. One of the things I want to refresh as we head into fall is our snacks. Last school year we made great progress on cutting crappy food from our diet. But our efforts seemed to evaporate as summer came on. Popsicles and ice cold soda and ice cream sandwiches are hard to resist!

DIY Snack-time Placemats - Free Printable!   |   Design MomDIY Snack-time Placemats - Free Printable!   |   Design Mom

There’s no time like the present to reintroduce healthier snacks. Of course, I could just serve them up as is (and probably will on many days), but I thought it would be a fun option to make our after-school snack times a little more playful. So, I drew up some simple illustrations and had them laminated as placemats. A fox, a cat, a man and a woman.

Click here for the full post and free printable!

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Old Navy + PS I Love You01

Images and text by Gabrielle. // This post is brought to you by Old Navy + P.S. I Made This. Dream big and customize your clothes to match your dreams! #PSxOldNavy

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[ Update: the original post included an announcement about in-store events at Old Navy. Total bummer, but the events were cancelled. Sad face. Still want to get in on the clothes personalization action? Check out P.S. I Made This for the coolest ideas. ]

This is so fun! My friend Erica created P.S. I Made This — the popular blog full of DIY and craft ideas. I first met Erica when we were on a panel together at an American Made event. Then, we both worked on a holiday event last fall. And then, I invited her to come Alt Summit in January. Erica is talented and smart and brings the best kind of enthusiasm to everything she does. Her latest project? She teamed up with Old Navy to encourage kids to personalize their back-to-school clothes!

Old Navy + PS I Love You02

To show you what it’s all about, P.S. I Made This & Old Navy sent clothes for the kids plus a box of craft supplies.

Old Navy + PS I Love You03Old Navy + PS I Love You04

The craft box was jam packed with materials — stencils, sequins, paints, iron-on letters, gems, ribbon, fabric glue, a tie dye kit, and on and on. So we went to the park and got our craft on!

Old Navy + PS I Love You20Old Navy + PS I Love You19

Olive bedazzled a dress for June.

Old Navy + PS I Love You05Old Navy + PS I Love You07

Oscar added “Oakland” to the side of a shirt.

Old Navy + PS I Love You14Old Navy + PS I Love You15Old Navy + PS I Love You16

Betty thought about ribbons and sequins and tassels.

Old Navy + PS I Love You10Old Navy + PS I Love You11Old Navy + PS I Love You18

Ralph tie-dyed a white polo in orange and red.

Old Navy + PS I Love You08Old Navy + PS I Love You09

Maude stenciled the back pockets of a pair of jeans.

Old Navy + PS I Love You22Old Navy + PS I Love You17

And painted an ombre shirt with June as well.

Old Navy + PS I Love You12Old Navy + PS I Love You21

Pockets and cuffs were embellished. Messes were made. Clothes were personalized. Fun was had by all!

Want to get in on the action? Your kids can find instructions, and inspiration videos to customize their own kids from Erica and P.S. I Made This team. Now tell me, Friends, do you ever get an urge to personalize your clothes? Maude cut up a basic tee during Girls Camp and it looks awesome. Between that and the new season of Project Runway, we’re kind of on a clothes personalization kick. : )

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DIY: Leather Earrings

July 2, 2014

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Have you seen the new trend in tiny leather earrings? I’m loving it. So I thought it would be fun to create my own — for myself and as gifts. I love the natural texture of the leather and the soft pop of color.

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

Leather is an easy material to work with. It’s soft, but keeps its shape. It doesn’t fray or wrinkle (unless you really, really want it to) and the texture and color options are endless.

I tried a ton of variations and always concluded that simple is better for this particular look.

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

With a few bucks and very little time, you can make yourself a whole new batch of accessories. They’re so simple and easy to make it’s barely a tutorial!

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

Come and check out this easy, satisfying project!!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle. This post brought to you by Quaker Chewy — they’re all about fueling backyard fun. In fact, they’re offering free Nerf toys! Details at bottom.

———

Last week, I told you about the Welcome to Summer party we organized with Liz and Jordan — we had the cousins over for a fun afternoon in the sun to mark the end of the school year. Each family handled two activities, which made for a full, happy, party agenda and eliminated any chance of boredom. Hah! It turned out to be a really memorable event, and I’m sure the kids will continue to talk about it for weeks and years to come.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

I was in charge of Lemonade Toasts and Sun-dye Prints. I’m excited to tell you all about the Sun-Dye process today! Liz and Jordan are writing about their activities too — a Bubble Relay Race, and a Giant Water Balloon Slingshot.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Let me start by telling you I’m kind of obsessed with sun-dyes. They are super cool and feel a little magical. Essentially, they are dyes that are colorless when you apply them, but turn vibrant colors when exposed to sunlight. My mom introduced sun-dyes to me when I was in college and I’ve been going through sun-dye phases ever since.

For this activity, we decided to dye bandanas. I couldn’t actually find plain white bandanas, so we used square cotton dishcloths instead. They’re a generous size and work as head wraps, capes, or can even be tied around the waists of little ones as a beach/pool coverup.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

The only brand of sun-dye that I’m aware of is called Inkodye. It doesn’t come in a ton of colors, but you could do a little color-mixing if you want to expand the palette. The main trick with sun-dye is you need both a low-light area and a sunny area to work in. The dye will start exposing as soon as there’s even a hint of sunlight, so you want to apply the ink, and add any objects that you want to use to block the sunlight, in low light.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Adding objects creates a pattern — we used plants, leaves, even clothespins. Pretty much any opaque object could work. In fact, Jordan told me about a friend who painted a duvet cover with Inkodye, then took a nap on it in the sun, and when she woke up, the imprint of her body was on the duvet. So cool!

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

One of the nice things about this activity is that there is some downtime. After bubble relays and water balloon sling shots, the kids could sit and relax and have a snack while the sun did its work.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

One note: I would recommend having extra dyeable items on hand, because the process is super fun! And you’ll definitely want to dye more than one item. : )

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

I love this project! Even if your kids aren’t artsy, they’ll get a kick out of seeing the colors appear in the sunlight. And it’s pretty much no fail — no matter what objects you add, or even if you add none-at-all, the bandana is going to look fantastic.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Tell me, Friends. Have you ever tried sun-dyes? Is your imagination running with objects you could use to create patterns? (Me too!)

quaker-chewy
Thanks to Quaker Chewy for sponsoring our Welcome to Summer Party and fueling backyard fun! Quaker Chewy gives kids the energy they need to play. That’s why Quaker and NERF are teaming up to fuel backyard fun, helping families get active together, right in their own backyard. When you buy three specially-marked boxes of Quaker Chewy, you can enter the codes online at http://fuelfun.quakeroats.com to get a free Nerf sports item.

Click here for more DIY notes and instructions.

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Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle. This post brought to you by Quaker Chewy — they’re all about fueling backyard fun. In fact, they’re offering free Nerf toys! Details at bottom.

——–

Have you ever thrown a party at the end of the school year? We like to mark the change in weather with an outing or a get together. This year, we had the cousins over for a Welcome to Summer party. Jordan, Liz and I divided up the activities and turned a regular old Sunday afternoon into an epic event! There was lots of laughing, lots of mess, and everyone ended the day with big grins plastered across our faces.

I was in charge of Lemonade Toasts and Sun-dye Prints. I’ll tell you all about one activity today and another next week, in case you’d like try them out at your own parties this summer. Liz and Jordan are writing about their activities too — Fruit Kabob Sundaes and a Giant Color Fight!

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

Lemonade Toasts was Ben Blair’s brilliant idea. It’s simple, adorable, and was a great way to start the party and get people thinking about how much good stuff there is to look forward to in the summer.

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

We printed out a basic prompt on cardstock and cut it into strips. Then the kids filled out the strips. The wording of the prompt is: This summer, I want to ________. Here’s to ______ and ______!

The kids filled them in with things like: This summer I want to go to the beach. Here’s to surfing and sand! Or, This summer I want to read 50 books. Here’s to free time and no school!

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

Then, they took turns standing on a crate and reading their toasts to the whole family — with a fancy glass of lemonade in hand!

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

Things that are awesome about this activity:

1) It couldn’t be easier.

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

2) The kids LOVED it. It gave each child a chance to be in the spotlight. Each child could think about what they wanted to say, and each one received a round of applause when they were done. It feels good to be heard and acknowledged!

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

3) Sometimes, kids doing grownup things (like toasts) is the cutest thing ever. Seeing their faces get serious, so they could concentrate and read the words correctly, then clinking their glasses of lemonade with their cousins, was as charming as can be.

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

4) It’s nice to find out what they’re looking forward to most about the summer!

I highly recommend this activity. Five stars! It really was a wonderful way to kick off the gathering, and was as fun for the grownups to watch as it was for the kids to participate.

Tell me, Friends. Anything fun you’re doing (or you did) to welcome summer vacation?

quaker-chewy
P.S. — Thanks to Quaker Chewy for sponsoring our Welcome to Summer Party and fueling backyard fun! Quaker Chewy gives kids the energy they need to play. That’s why Quaker and NERF are teaming up to fuel backyard fun, helping families get active together, right in their own backyard. When you buy three specially-marked boxes of Quaker Chewy, you can enter the codes online at http://fuelfun.quakeroats.com to get a free Nerf sports item.

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DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Remember the boys’ bedroom? To encourage Oscar’s love of marine biology, I hung posters of shark diagrams and catalogues. But instead of framing them, I turned them into old-school classroom-style, pull-down posters. I was so pleased with how they turned out, I promised to whip up a tutorial, and (hooray!) it’s ready to go.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

There are a few reasons why I’m so pleased with this solution. 1) It’s inexpensive — far cheaper than framing a poster. 2) It’s easy to do and not-intimidating. 3) It looks great — and adds some fun texture to a wall. 4) It’s an appropriate solution for an inexpensive poster or a temporary hobby/interest.

With kids, sometimes their interests change from month to month. In June they love the Olympics, and in July they love antique cars. As parents, you want to encourage their interests, and hang up the latest poster they bring home, but it can be hard to invest in expensive artwork or frames, knowing that their interests will likely change sooner than later.

So for me, this is an ideal solution. It makes the poster look great on the wall, but isn’t a big investment of time or money. If Oscar’s passion for marine biology continues, the posters will continue to look good, but if he decides he’s into something else, it won’t feel like a big sacrifice to say goodbye to the shark posters. Does that make sense? : )

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

I think vintage-style posters work best for this project, because we’re going for a look that is similar to the old pull-down posters used in classrooms. Those posters are what inspired this project in the first place. Anything that has diagrams or notes, or looks like it could appear in a textbook, would work for this. Botanical prints. Biology drawings. Old maps. Stuff like that.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

And the how-to process is as simple as can be. Once it is put together, it can go on the wall immediately. No waiting.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

Ready to get started?

Click here for the full tutorial.

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#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

When I was in 6th grade, I got to take a trip to Hawaii with my dance group (it was called the Super Steppers, in case you’re curious). One of the main things everyone told me I must do in Hawaii is mail home a coconut in its husk. No box. No padding. Just write the address on the coconut with a marker and slap on the stamps. Of course, to my 11-year-old ears, this sounded like the coolest thing a person could possibly do. There’s something so fun and funny about getting a non-standard letter or package in the mail!

These postcards are admittedly not as extreme as a coconut. But. They are made of wood! And they are awesome to find tucked in between the bills and junk mail! I’m a huge fan of photo transfers — they’re practically magic. And I thought image transfers + wooden postcards sounded like the perfect storm of fun, useable, good-looking projects.

To up the charm even more, I used historical images from New York City (available here), and I love how they turned out so much!

#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

I should note from the beginning, these handmade wooden post cards are not the same as paper post cards. Due to their width and weight, they are priced similar to a large envelope or a ‘flat’. But they’re worth the extra stamp — their unique, one-of-a-kind quality makes this snail mail more like art work.

#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

It takes some work and patience but the outcome is definitely worth it!

#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

On to the postcard how-to!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Family Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

Text and how-to images by Gabrielle. Family portraits by Sarah of Modern Kids. | This post is brought to you by Lowe’s Home Improvement — they have everything you need to tackle your own weekend projects, just in time for Memorial Day!  #springiscalling

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There are 3 reasons I’m super excited to share this project with you. 1) It’s awesome! I thought of it last fall, and the whole idea still makes me grin. 2) I’ve been sharing behind the scenes peeks on the Lowe’s Instagram stream for the last few days and it’s fun to get to finally share the finished photos. And 3) We haven’t had family photos taken since the Vintage Car photo shoot in France — 3 Christmases ago! We were long overdue and this was a great excuse/opportunity.

Sarah of Modern Kids did the portraits. She also did our French Greys portraits back in the day. She lives here in the Bay Area and it’s been wonderful to be able to work with her again!

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   Betty Family Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

The idea for The Family Swing Project came to me last fall. We had just started to get to know our yard, and Ben Blair pointed out how pretty the view of the stream was from under this particular tree. He mentioned we should hang a swing so someone could relax and take in the view.

I loved that idea and looked up to consider where a swing should go. And when I looked up, it hit me that there were a ton of options — ten or more branches growing horizontally.

There was a lightbulb moment and all of a sudden I could picture our whole family spending a warm, lazy evening under the tree — each child in their own swing, and Ben Blair and I sharing a bench swing. We could sway and chat and listen to the stream, and just be together.

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   OscarFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

This vision has been stuck in my head for all these months, and this last weekend, we decided to bring the vision to life!

Ben Blair was the how-to master mind. He figured out how to build the swings and get them to swing properly. I’ve included a complete photo tutorial when you click through, so you can see what he came up with (and in case you’d like to build your own swings!).

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   RalphFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

They’ve only been hanging for a few days so far, but they are already a major draw for the kids, for their friends and for the cousins. It’s easy to see they are going to provide hours of entertainment, and a bucket full of memories for our family.

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   MaudeFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design MomBlair Family Portrait in Swings   |   Flora JuneFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

We hung the swings at different heights — one particularly low swing was hung especially for June. And all but two hang from their own branch. The bench hangs from the sturdiest branch and we tried to sort of center it — with the other swings hanging around it.

The project turned out wonderfully, and it feels good to have made a bit more progress in the yard. I already said this, but the whole thing still makes me grin!

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   OliveFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design MomFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

Man oh man, I like those kids.

Would you like to learn how we built the swings? Keep reading.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Craft Books09

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Another pretty craft book I wanted to tell you about. This one is by Petit Collage and it’s filled with happy projects for the home. So many cute ideas! I love the menu chart and the chalk family tree.

Craft Books11Craft Books12

I’m a huge fan of the creator, Lorena Siminovich, and the whole line of Petit Collage products. I think Lorena is a creative genius — and I love watching her as a businesswoman as well!

When I first came across Petit Collage, it was a tiny online shop with a handful of sweet art prints. Now the line includes games, wall decals, mobiles, toys, prints, and the book! And each item is beautiful and made with attention to details and quality — the focus on design is so appealing to me! Plus, Lorena is a parent and creates her products with real kids and real families in mind — and yes, real kids really love them!

Is there a company out there you feel connected to that you’ve watched grow and thrive? It’s fun to witness!

Craft Books13

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Painted Boxes

May 8, 2014

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and Styling by Amy Christie

Sometimes, I’m just in the mood to make something, so I come up with a project just because. This is one of those projects. Happily, this project happens to be stunning, and would make an excellent gift!

The boxes themselves are pretty fantastic, but fill them with some poppy pencils or note cards, and they’re even better. Make one for your mother. For your child’s teacher. For your best friend. Or just keep one on your own desk — they’re so pretty, they’re hard to part with.

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

I wish you could all come to my house to see these because, believe it or not, they are even more beautiful in person. I was even surprised at how lovely they turned out to be. And the how-to is so simple!

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

With a little tape and your favorite color scheme, you’re set to begin making beautiful designs.

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

Come see this simple project unfold!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Images and text by Gabrielle.

As promised, here is a tutorial for the crate shelves we have in the Reading Loft. As you may remember, the inspiration for the shelves was this image. I liked that you can see through them and get a glimpse of the wall color behind. And I liked that there were various sizes.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

At first, I did a search to see if I could find a similar product to purchase — and these shelves from Design Within Reach seemed to be the closest thing. They’re gorgeous! But the price really added up fast when I considered how many I needed. Plus, I wanted more control of the exact dimensions of each box. So finally, I concluded making them was the way to go.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

We work with a handyman named Alex for some of the small projects around the house, and I hired him to help me with these as soon as I knew I wanted to make them. Alex is actually a sculptor (with an impressive portfolio) who does home projects on the side. It’s a huge bonus to me that he’s a sculptor, because it means he has an excellent eye for detail, and he’ll brainstorm solutions with me thinking as both an artist and a builder. And brainstorm we did!

I determined I wanted to use 3/8 inch thick plywood, but Alex was concerned because that was thin enough that the boards could split if we screwed them together. So I considered the thicker plywood, but it just didn’t look right — the proportions were off — too heavy looking. So we discussed ways to make the 3/8 inch plywood work. We looked at metal brackets and all sorts of fasteners. Then happily, Alex came up with this smart format.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Notches were cut out of opposite corners of each box piece, then the pieces were fit together. Simple and brilliant! Interlocking the cubes this way adds stability.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

And I love that we don’t have to mess with the simple profiles of the boxes by adding protruding hardware.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Want to make some shelves of your own? Then, let’s get started.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.  //  This post is brought to you by Office Depot’s #TeachersChangeLives program. Register your child’s classroom, so the students have the school supplies they need to succeed.

The end of the school year is approaching fast and I know you’re  thinking about something nice you can do for your child’s teacher. As you may remember, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about teachers having to buy supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets (you guys left the best comments!), so it won’t surprise you to hear that I think the best gift would be a donation for classroom supplies using Adopt A Classroom + Office Depot!

Final Infographic (new colors)

Teachers buy so many things for their students — from basic food, to warm coats, to field trips — and there are so many good, straight out of the box, practical items that would make great gifts. But I know sometimes it feels special to give a handmade gift, so I thought it would be fun to come up with something that would work at school or at home, and that could be personalized too.

Etched soap pumps fit the bill wonderfully! They’re easy to make, they look great, and you can pair them with a classroom donation, or give them as a stand alone gift.

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

This is a smart, usable gift for teachers, but really, it will work for anyone on your list at any time of the year — a housewarming gift, a hostess gift, a neighbor gift at the holidays — or make some for your own house.

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

The etching is so fun to do, you’ll want to etch every piece of glassware you have. Gather friends and have an etching party!

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

Come and check out this simple project.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Geometric Wire Bunny

April 18, 2014

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Okay you guys, can you handle one more fun little project before Easter is officially here? (Please say yes!) Today, let’s make modern geometric bunnies. It’s a simple idea — wire formed to make the shape of a bunny — but it can be used in so many fun ways!

It was a little bit of a challenge to find the right wire but now that the leg work is done, it won’t be as tough for you. Plus, there’s a free downloadable template to help you out. There are two bunny versions in the photos. One is small and simple — you could make a dozen of these fairly quickly. The other version is oversize. As in 3 feet wide! It’s a little more challenging, but still totally doable.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

The smaller one is pictured here as a napkin ring, but it would also be adorable as an accent on a gift. Or you could hang one sweetly from an Easter basket. Or you could attach a long ribbon and use it as a springtime bookmark!

The larger one is oversize and quite dramatic. Hang it on your door in place of a wreath. Or display it on the wall above the sofa. It looks good as both interior and exterior decoration — and you can customize the color with ribbons!

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

Get ready to flex those muscles, the directions are below.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Easy Cabbage Dyed Eggs

April 14, 2014

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for a Ombre Look. Easy and totally natural.   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

I love the look of eggs dyed with plants and flowers, but every time I’ve planned on attempting it in years past, I get intimidated sourcing dye ingredients and stop myself up. So instead of gathering a dozen different materials and spending too many hours experimenting, I decided that this year, I would focus on one easy to find plant and see what it could do.

The plant? Common red cabbage. Available in every produce department of every grocery store in the country. Yes, it looks purple or sometimes red, but did you know it makes a great blue dye? It’s one of those things that’s hard to believe until you try it yourself.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

I love how they turned out so much I even want to keep the broken shells.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

I felt so much happy anticipation checking and rechecking them to see how the colors were changing. I could hardly wait to see the final results.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

Get the details below!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Project Kid & Wise Craft

April 8, 2014

Craft Books05

Images and text by Gabrielle.

I’ve got two really cool books to share with you. Both are craft books — one for kids, and one for grownups. Oakland has been a rain fest over the last couple of weeks so I’ve been pulling out the craft books for rainy day ideas, and I can heartily recommend both of these volumes. They are chock full of solid, creative ideas!

First up, a book for the little ones called Project Kid. It just came out today so it’s fresh as can be! The author, Amanda Kingloff, was the Lifestyle Director at Parents Magazine for ages and she comes up with the happiest things for kids to make. All the projects are really doable, and they focus on materials that are easily accessible — and that you probably already have at home.

Craft Books06

I think these needlepoint fly swatters are genius — I love crafts that have a practical application!

Craft Books08

And I think these silhouette pennants look so good. You can find more about the book, book related events, plus a cute intro video, at the Project Kid website.

Craft Books01

The second book is called Wise Craft. It’s full of truly useable projects that look chic and handmade in the best possible way. The clever creator, Blair Stocker, focuses on scraps, found materials and thrift store finds for her projects, which means you can make these idea without emptying your pocketbook.

These are more sophisticated projects you’ll enjoy making yourself, and you’ll enjoy keeping around the house for as long as possible.

Craft Books02

Like these handsome felt panhandle covers.

Craft Books03

Or these charming trinket bowls — I want a stack of them!

Tell me, Friends. What’s the crafting situation at your house? At our house, everyone likes to create — whether it’s writing stories, making movies, building forts, or baking cupcakes — but I would say Betty and Oscar are currently the most likely to get crafting (and they LOVE getting inspiration from the Project Kid book, by the way). As for me, my craft-making urges come in waves, and I find myself using holidays as an excuse to get out my scissors and glitter and glue. I can totally see myself using the Wise Craft book for gift giving inspiration.

What about you? Do your kids like to make things? Do you?

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Book Report

March 27, 2014

Super easy! This poster was made from postcards of book covers by Penguin. You can buy a whole box of them on Amazon. Search: Penguin Bookcover Box

Image and text by Gabrielle.

I’m writing this from JFK while I wait for my plane to San Francisco. It’s been a wonderful, jam-packed trip to New York full of get togethers and meetings. And I was able to fit in one more meeting this morning before I grabbed a taxi to the airport — a meeting with my editor at Artisan Books!

Earlier in the year I mentioned I would be giving updates about my book from time to time, and I think today is a good day for one of those updates. Because this very week, I’m handing in the manuscript. That is a big deal! No images yet, just text. An entire book’s worth of text. My editor, Lia Ronnen, will begin reading it this weekend and then the major editing begins.

In this morning’s meeting, we didn’t look at the manuscript at all. Instead, we talked about what size the book should be and looked at a dozen existing books for reference. We also talked about what style the photography should be, and even got into a little bit about what the book design should be — an aspect of this project that I am especially excited about.

We also talked and talked about all sorts of things because Lia is endlessly interesting.

Then I was introduced to 8 people on the Artisan team that will end up helping with my book in one way or another. It was wonderful for me to put names to faces, and being in the office was so reassuring. Artisan is responsible for some of the most beautiful, most useful books out there — like the Kinfolk book and the Remodelista book and the Young House Love book too — and I know they’ll make sure that what I create is remarkable.

One of the takeaways from today’s meeting that I was most excited to share with you is the amazing poster at top. It’s a DIY poster that was Lia’s idea and hangs in her office. She used postcards of book covers from the Penguin collection, and attached them to a posterboard. Simple, genius and beautiful! I love the idea so much. I think I should copy it for the reading loft. I thought you’d like the idea too!

That’s it for today’s book report. And hey, I’d love to hear if there’s anything you’re particularly curious about as for the book goes.

P.S. — If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to in New York, feel free to check out my Instagram stream.

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It's a Mrs. Meyer's #GetMessyContest! Win a custom-designed creativity center, fully stocked with arts & crafts supplies, PLUS a party for up to 30 friends, led by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom.

By Gabrielle.

You Guys! I’m going to host a crafting party at your house! With up to 30 of your friends! For reals!

Here’s the story: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is hosting a Get Messy Contest that encourages families to have fun getting messy together — then enjoy straightening up. And guess what the Grand Prize is? A custom-designed creativity center, fully stocked with arts & crafts supplies, PLUS a celebration for up to 30 friends, led by yours truly. (That’s me!)

Yes, indeed. Mrs. Meyer’s asked me to help host the party, and to come up with cool crafts the guests can make, and I responded instantly, “Yes, please!” So I’ll be at the party too! If you’re the Grand Prize Winner, I’ll be heading your way (by plane or by car, depending on where you live). I’ll come to your house, and I’ll lead the crafting, and I’ll chat up your guests, and I’ll Instagram the whole thing. Let’s take a selfie together at the party!

It's a Mrs. Meyer's #GetMessyContest! Win a custom-designed creativity center, fully stocked with arts & crafts supplies, PLUS a party for up to 30 friends, led by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom.

Want to enter the contest? It’s a really fun one. Snap an image of a messy crafting situation at your house and upload it with the hashtag #GetMessyContest. Your friends and family can vote for your messy picture, and the top 10 finalists with the most votes will receive a Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Gift Bucket and will be entered for the grand prize. From there, the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day team (and me!) will come to the home of the Grand Prize Winner, install the custom creativity center and host a party!! You can find more details at GetMessyContest.com.

The last day to upload an image is March 28th, so you have just under two weeks left to enter. And I hope you do enter! Because I want to come to your home so we can get our crafting on.

I’m super excited about this contest, and happy as can be about working with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. I’ve been using their products for years. I was first drawn in by the vintage vibe of their labels, and kept coming back for the amazing aromatherapeutic scents (lemon verbena! geranium!) and because the products are really hardworking. Bonus, the products are earth-friendly too — biodegradable, made from naturally occurring ingredients, packaged in recyclable bottles, and never tested on animals — for example, their dryer sheets are compostable!

I’m excited to see your messy photos — I’ll be watching the #GetMessyContest photo gallery. I hope you win, because I’d love to meet you! : ) Okay. Now I’m dying to hear what you think of the contest. Are you going to enter? Do you have any crafty messes at your house to take pictures of?

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DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photography and assistance by Gina Vide of Willowday.

My girls have worn their hair long — shoulder length or longer — for years now. It wasn’t always so, and I’m sure it won’t always be so. But for now, like many families, we keep a generous stash of hair bands in our bathroom drawer ready to secure hair into ponytails, braids, and buns as needed. So when my friend Gina from Sweden sent me a photo of wooden bead hair ties she’d made, I had to get in on the action too! They work just like a standard rubberband — you put them on with a typical figure 8 twist, then adjust them so the beads are on top. The beads are such simple accent, but they add loads of charming personality!

Of course, they remind me of the hair bobbles of my childhood — with colorful plastic balls at the ends. But these are much gentler on your hair and more modern looking. Plus, you can make them in any color you like!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design MomDIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

I think a small box with 3 or 4 of these would make such a sweet gift. You could create them in springtime colors and include them in an Easter basket. Or they would be wonderful to make a birthday party — a happy little activity that guests can make and use right away.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

I’m just crazy about the contrast of the glittery band or colorful shiny elastic against raw wood. If you prefer a glossier look, you could paint the beads to match or compliment the elastics. The combinations are endless. These hair twists are easy to make; fun to make alone or with friends on a craft night!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design MomDIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design MomDIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

A special touch for the girls in your house — and for yourself as well. Let’s start making!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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