Bottle Brush Tree Mania

Here's a little post that I should have written weeks ago.  

But since I am not one of those bloggers who starts thinking about Christmas in July, I am publishing it today.

On Christmas Eve.  

Merry Christmas.  



Loyal readers (hi mom!) will remember that I recently had the opportunity to teach a session at San Diego's Urban Craft Camp.  I am happy to report that the class was great and people loved their bottle brush snow globes.

And those snow globes whet my appetite for all things bottle brush.  So, inspired by this blogger, I went ahead and whipped up a few of these:

I think this craft is pretty self explanatory so I'm not going to do a tutorial, however if you want more information about how to make one, let me know in the comments.

What I will tell you is that if you use a wide mouthed mason jar like the one below, you can fit a gift card in with the bus.

I also probably don't need to explain these DIY present toppers since I've discussed similar ones HERE.

What I will tell you how to make, however, are these colorful bottle brush trees!

I whipped them up a few weeks ago and have been having a great time sprinkling them around the house.

The first thing you want to do is bleach your bottle brush trees.  (You can buy bottle brush trees HERE if you don't have any.)

I should warn you right now that if you're looking for exact measurements and  precise instructions.... well, you're in the wrong place.

I bleached these by filling a bucket with hot water and pouring in some bleach.  (Maybe half a cup?)

Then I threw in the trees and left them there until they looked like this:

(Kids, don't try this without adult supervision.  Seriously.  Bleach is hardcore.)

After that I filled some old pickle jars with hot water and RIT dye.  Again, no measurements, I just poured in a few splashes of the RIT until I liked the color of the water.  Then I tossed in the trees until I liked their color.

And here are the results!

I love them and I hope you do too!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  



Ornament Full of Memories

Years ago my sister-in-law began making handmade ornaments for her nieces, nephews, and godchildren.  It has always been my intention to do a big post featuring all of the different ornaments but three years into the blog and that still hasn't happened. Yesterday, however, I was playing with my camera taking pictures of the Christmas tree and I found myself focusing on the ones you see below.

I have always loved them, and while they are by no means the most intricate of her creations, they hold a special place in my heart.

To make them, she began—as she often does— by reaching out and asking for some of the highlights of each girl's year.   She then took those anecdotes and typed them on little strips of paper in a pretty font.  Finally the strips were inserted in a clear glass ornament.  I just love pulling them out from year to year and reading those sweet memories.

I'm not sure where she got the idea (or if she made it up herself) but it is so simple and beautiful that I thought it was worth sharing.  It would be a great gift for a child to give to a parent, don't you think?



Thanks Anthropologie!

Last week I got shanghaied into graciously agreed to take three girls Black Friday shopping.

Now I love to shop but Black Friday has never really been my thing.

So needless to say I was a little, shall we say, reluctant... to brave the mall, but all of that changed when I walked into Anthropologie, a store that I just can't help but love.

Sprinkled over the displays that day were walnuts.  Walnuts that had been spray painted gold.

Freaking genius!

(For those of you who are new here, I love to spray paint things gold.)

So naturally I had to copy them.  (And share with you.)

Here's the tutorial:

  1. Purchase your walnuts.  This was probably the hardest part of the whole process.  I ended up ordering some on Amazon (link HERE) because I couldn't find walnuts in the shell anywhere. 
  2. Spray paint said walnuts and let dry for 15 minutes.  (I used THIS paint.)
  3. Turn the walnuts over, spray the other side, and let dry.
And that's it!  The world's easiest DIY brought to you by Anthropologie.  (And me.)

I am setting some of my walnuts out in a bowl.

Others I have glued to the tops of mason jars in which I have stored homemade granola.

Wouldn't that be a cute hostess gift?  

Way to show me the silver gold lining in black Friday, Anthropologie!  



Urban Craft Camp

Back in October I celebrated another birthday, and though I have reached the point where birthdays are often described as "better than the alternative," I have to say that this one was pretty good. Spending my birthday morning at Urban Craft Camp was definitely one of the highlights.

I'm not exactly sure how I first heard about Urban Craft Camp but I'm pretty sure it was through Instagram.  I was already familiar with the craft workshops run by Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day up in San Francisco and Bri Emery of DesignLoveFest in LA, and while LA isn't too far from here, I was beyond excited to discover an option that didn't involve that dreaded commute up the 5.  

Urban Craft Camp is run by Jen Byard, a San Diego creative who also runs Thread and Arrow, a hand crafted goods business.   Each session focuses on a particular craft.  They've done everything from floral arranging to book binding.  

I attended my first session last spring.  It was held at the North Park Nursery and in it we learned how to make succulent wreaths.  I made a conscious decision not to bring my Canon to that workshop.  I really wanted to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand.  Of course now I regret that because my iphone photos are kind of meh, but I must have been doing something right because that succulent wreath is still thriving six months later!

Whenever I attend an Urban Craft Camp workshop I always feel as though I've gotten my money's worth.  Every detail is carefully thought out, from the snacks (there are always snacks, often made by local bakers) to the tablescapes.   Upon arriving at the North Park Nursery I was thrilled to find long tables filled with succulents and succulent clippings.

There were other goodies as well, like these fun scissors from We Love Citrus.  Not only did we use the scissors to make the wreaths, we also got to take them home.  

My next workshop focused on canning—as in canning preserves.  That's right, a craft camp wherein we used mason jars for their intended purpose.  (Genius, I know.)

One of the fun things about Urban Craft Camp is that the location changes according to the craft, making it a great way to experience cool, new spaces around the San Diego area.   This time it was held at Zilaro Cellars, a wine tasting room in picturesque Coronado, California

As usual, every detail was perfect: from the name tags and business cards set out on the front table...

To the snacks...

To the baskets of fruit which we eventually cut up to put in the preserves.

Look at these adorable place settings.  We got to keep the painted wooden spoons, the herbs (mine was rosemary), and the recipe cards.  

The class was run by Betsy from BetsyLife, a food blog I've followed for quite some time now.  (I may or may not have been a little star struck when I met her.)  If you're not familiar with Betsy, you probably are familiar with her Samoa Cake.  (It was pinned about a jillion times on Pinterest.)  And for good reason.  (It's a Samoa Cake, for goodness sake.)  Go look at it now.  Seriously.

And here's a picture of the finished product.  In addition to the goodies mentioned above we also got to take home a jar of our homemade preserves (and they were delicious)!  

My third Craft Camp was a calligraphy workshop held at the gorgeous Central Library in downtown San Diego.  Once again I left my big camera at home so please forgive the small, iphone shots.      

Our instructor was Wendy Ware, a Professional Calligrapher and Illustrator.  Here she is demonstrating her craft.

And here are my attempts.

(And my snacks.  I like snacks.)

For this session we got to take home a ton of goodies including a stylus, several nibs, two types black ink, colored inks, tracing paper, lettering guides, and envelopes.

I'd love to tell you that I've used those goodies to become a calligraphy expert but that would be a lie.  (Still, though, the potential is there. )


The last workshop I attended is the one I mentioned in my introduction.  Taught by the adorable Jonnie of Grey Theory Mill, the focus was chalkboard art.  (Fun fact: Jonnie is an artist at Trader Joe's, as in, she does the signage that you see around the store.  Needless to say, she was the perfect person to teach a class on chalkboard art.)  

Here are a few snaps from the workshop.

This cute sign was stuck in my eraser.  (An eraser that saw a lot of use.)

Everyone got a tote bag emblazoned with this quote:

The workshop was held in at The Moniker Warehouse in the East Village neighborhood of downtown San Diego.  It is an incredibly cool space.

Jonnie brought an impressive array of chalk pens.

There were lots of cool examples to emulate:  

And here are some signs made by the participants.  This one was made by my friend Sabine of House of Danlu.

I'm not sure who did this one but I thought it was really well done.

And this is mine.  I love it and can't wait to put it on display for the holidays.

There were so many great signs that I can't possibly include them all here.  If you're interested in seeing more, check out Urban Craft Camp's Instagram page.


When I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea that I would be ending it with this:  I am thrilled to announce that I will be attending the next Urban Craft Camp not as a participant, but as an instructor.  Join us on December 13th for a Holiday Crafting Workshop.  I will be there teaching people how to make vintage-inspired, mason jar snow globes like the one seen below:

photo credit, Jen Byard

Click HERE for additional details and to register for the event.



Gumball Machine Halloween Costume

Halloween is coming, and I am proud to say that, unlike last year, this year our costumes are finished early.  

This is due in large part to the fact that my girls chose easy costumes (and for the first time ever, they are wearing the same thing).

That's right, it's a bubblegum machine (inspired by the one pictured here), and if you are need of an easy, homemade costume, there is still plenty of time to make one yourself.

I should probably begin by saying that my methods were extremely imprecise.  I did a lot of eyeballing and estimating (which made the whole process very laid back and pleasant—remember folks, it's just Halloween).

Supplies: (Click bolded items below to purchase.  These are affiliate links.)

As you can see below, I began by tracing a large bowl on a plain white tee shirt in order to get a nice circle.  Thankfully I had her try it on before I began adding the "gumballs" because once I did it was obvious that the circle was way too low on the shirt.  (The picture below is of the first circle.  I ultimately positioned it about two inches higher.)  So, dear readers, learn from my mistakes and have your child try the shirt on before sketching the outline of your machine.  

When that's done simply hot glue 1.5" pompoms to the shirt until you've filled the space. Notice that you don't need to fill in the whole circle.  Rather, when your child is trying on the shirt, draw a straight line across the shirt at the waist line.  This is where the bottom half of the costume (the "apron") will meet the gumballs.

 For the bottom of the machine I took a large piece of red felt, sketched out an apron, and cut it out with fabric scissors.  That's right, this is a no-sew costume (because I am a no-sew mom).

Next I took an 8.5x11" sheet of gray felt and glued it to the apron.  Then I drew a knob and the numbers free-hand and cut them out.   I glued the "25" to a small square of white felt (also drawn free-hand) and hot glued that square and the smaller black one (representing the hole where the gum comes out) on to the gray felt.

After that I added red leggings for my younger daughter and a red skirt for my older one.  Red felt berets (buy HERE) finish off the look.

If a bubblegum machine isn't quite what you have in mind, check out these costumes from years past:

American Girl Doll Box Costume:

Happy Halloween, everyone!
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