Mardi Gras Wreath with Deco Mesh Spirals

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I'm not into the crazy and wild celebrations that are normally associated with Mardi Gras, but I learned something after my in-laws lived in Lousiana for two years, and that is that most people in Louisiana love Mardi Gras (which I always assumed) and actually treat it like any other holiday--by decorating their homes and more noticeably, their doors, for the occasion.

You guys. These decorations are BIG. They are grand, layered, beaded, glittered, and colorful. Also, I'm pretty sure deco mesh originated in Louisiana because those people use it with some serious skill.

(If you are from Louisiana and are thinking, "Um, no", I apologize. :) BUT this is what I've gotten from my few Louisiana visits.)

SO. I took all of my (limited) Louisiana knowledge as inspiration and put together a fun deco mesh wreath in honor of Mardi Gras to share right here on the blog.

I've never used deco mesh before but I can see why it's so popular in craft and decor world. Super fun and very forgiving. You can use the steps to make this wreath and change it to fit any holiday by adding different embellishments.

Speaking of embellishments--in true Mardi Gras fashion, there are A LOT. I learned from my LA trips and Pinterest that you pretty much just keep piling it on until it basically falls off the door. ;) I'm only kind of kidding.

Here is your supplies list (and you's all from JoAnn):

-18" wire wreath form
-3 rolls 10" deco mesh (greens and purples)
-4 rolls 1.5" wired ribbon (various patterns and colors--make sure to get some gold)
-Big pack of black pipe cleaners (they are apparently called chenille stems now)
-25 gold pipe cleaners chenille stems
-12-14 decorative balls (I used gold Christmas ornaments on clearance)
-Pack of Mardi Gras beads
-Large ribbon for bow
-Hot glue gun and sticks
-2 movies because this is the perfect craft to do while watching a movie (and it takes about 3 hours)

Take your wreath form and the black chenille stems. Zig zag the stems all the way around the wreath, one zig zag line on the outer circle, and one zig zag ring on the inner circle. You will use about one chenille stem per section of the wreath. This prevents the mesh from sliding later on.

Now get your mesh. Cut the mesh every 10" (this should make it a square, since it is 10" wide) You can use a ruler for this, but I really just eyed it since you want to make it a square. Easy. You will need about 30 of each color.

Next is your ribbon. Take all 4 rolls and cut 12" strips. You'll want to cut a "v" into each end as well. Set aside.

(It wouldn't be a good craft post without some awkward monster hand photos. There isn't a good way to do this.)

Take a mesh square and roll into a little burrito, but not too tight. You want it to be about 2 inches in diameter. It's best to do this part on the floor because you are going to want to place the rolled mesh under your knee to hold in place. I suppose you could pinch it with a clothespin if you wanted as well. Do this same thing for the other 2 colors and kind of overlap them under your knee.

Take one piece of ribbon and layer it over your 3 pieces of mesh. Pinch tightly in the middle and wrap with a black chenille stem.

You'll want to fold your spiral bunch in half around the chenille stem, pull tight, and wrap the stem to secure, like a bread tie. Hope that makes sense.

You are going to need to make 30 spiral bunches. Have fun. :)

(Excuse my lighting in the next few photos, Bryan was out of town so I was kind of doing this all day while baby wrangling and I ran out of daylight. SO fun.)

Now for the fun part. Take a spiral bunch and wrap the chenille (tightly) around the outer ring of the wreath. Repeat all the way around the outer ring, spacing about every 3 inches.

Here is a photo of the back. Not pretty, but you can see how I spaced the stems and where I tied them.

Once you are finished with the outer ring, do the same on the inner ring of the wreath. Try and fill holes here, too. You will need about 20 spiral bunches on the outer ring and 10 bunches on the inner ring. Fluffing is key here, ladies.

Now you can be happy! The rest is easy.

Take your gold chenille stems and wrap them around a pencil to make a spiral. Pull the spiral a bit to make it long and loose. Evenly stick the gold spiral stems around the wreath, being sure to wrap around the wreath form to secure.

Next, take your ornaments and hot flue evenly around the wreath.

You are probably thinking something along the lines of, "I am the crafting QUEEN!" at this point and could really call it good, but since it's Mardi Gras, you may as well go ahead and add the beads. Drape them around the wreath and tuck into mesh spirals.

Now really, by this step it is perfectly acceptable to say that the wreath is finished. If you want it be finished, go right on ahead. If you want to add more Mardi Gras bling, read on.

Spray paint your mask gold. Hot glue your feathers to the back as well as about 10 strands of beads and ribbon to either side.

Make a big layered bow with some glitzy ribbon (I chose a very french looking scroll pattern with purple velvet...oh yes.) I need to post instructions on this (sorry I forgot to take photos), BUT I do have this hair bow tutorial that I did many years ago and it's basically the exact same thing, just a bigger version. You will secure the center with a chenille stem and fluff. Bow-making 101.

Hot glue your mask to the center of the bow. Use chenille stems to secure the bow to the top of the wreath.

Step back and enjoy the wonderful gaudiness of Mardi Gras!

Whew. That was the longest tutorial I have ever written. Gold star for to you (and maybe some beads) for getting through this!

Seriously though, this wreath is really easy once you know what your are doing. And as usual, I will be showing the steps in person for Joann on KAMR today at 4:00!

Updated: The segment can be watched right HERE.

A Home For Us.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I have mentioned a few times about our plans to move. We have been going back and forth with working on this house and decided (after a lot of exhaustion and stress and just being over it all) that it would be in the best interest of our family to just move into something that was "done". I really want to focus on these precious years with our children and to be more present both at home and in creating these businesses that I've started, and living in a constant work zone kind of took away from that.

At first, we were going to build with a professional builder, but after running the numbers about a million times and having to downsize, and downsize, and downsize some more to fit it in our budget we decided to back off. The whole point of this thing, after all, was to get to a place that we could just "be", without having to worry about moving know, something that our family could grow in to.

SO. So, we backed off and kind of dropped it for a few weeks...and then lo and behold, Bryan found a lot. Like a legit, for sale lot. Come to think of it, I have no clue how he stumbled upon it, and when he first brought it up I was all "UM NO", but we eventually got into the crazy conversation of building this thing ourselves. Now, you guys.  I completely realize that this is kind of counter-active to the whole "being done" and "saving on stress" thing. But here's the deal: We have always talked about doing something like this. And to be honest, the only way we can get into a house that won't require a lot of work and that we can stay in for the foreseeable future (or even forever) would be to do it ourselves. AND: I think (I don't know, but I think) that there is a huge difference between living in a construction zone (think renovations) and working on one while living elsewhere. And also, this lot is perfect. Two acres, backs up to a little farm, in a really great neighborhood, great schools, etc.

So, we are building a house. (!)

At least we will be if everything goes according to plan, which so far it is, so that is a great sign.

We plan to close sometime in February, and will put our house on the market sometime in the next month.

We have been obsessively searching house plans online and I am SO pumped to get this show on the road. My personal dream has always been to live in a two-story with a wrap-around porch and dormers (oh, the dormers!), so that is I guess what we are looking at for the most part (but with more brick because we live in Texas and that's what everyone uses). The wonderful thing about the neighborhood is that all of the homes are different sizes and styles, so we are pretty free to do what we want. (There is a committee that has to approve our elevation, just FYI.)

Here is my tentative wish-list:

1. Lots of windows and light

via (And a TOTAL dream....right?)

2. Formal dining room

3. Larger laundry with some counter space and utility sink

4. Plenty of counter and cabinet space in the kitchen

5. Higher ceilings in some of the rooms

6. Bonus room for a play/game room

7. I would really like a desk/command center built in somewhere if there isn't a study so I can have a workspace.

8. Plenty of closet space...ideally a big closet to store alllll of my craft supplies (I've already accumulated a lot this year with MOPS and Joann, and I had quite a bit to begin with!) and also my seasonal decorations.


My inspiration photos are way too extreme for us....but a girl can dream! Ah. So fun.

What are things you were happy you put in your home or wish you had? I would LOVE to hear suggestions!

Let Me Tell You About My Husband. And Marriage.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Today is Bryan's birthday. He is 29.

He would be so embarrassed if he knew I was writing a post about him. He is good and humble, and hates a lot of attention. (I've specifically been instructed NOT to throw him a 30th birthday party next year under any circumstances.)

Bryan's family moved to Colorado from Texas a few months before mine did. We never went to school together, but met in youth group at church. Actually I take that back. I don't remember meeting him, but I do remember the first time I saw him, and I specifically remember thinking (in my 13-year-old very practical head), "If I had to marry any boy in this room, it would be him." Oh goodness. When my parents told me we were moving from Oklahoma to Colorado, my little world basically ended. I was not new to moving, but being in the 8th grade and really needing my friends made it a lot harder. I remember my Dad trying to make me feel better by saying something along the lines of "Maybe you will meet the boy you will grow up to marry." (It didn't work, I probably just started crying and stormed off mumbling something about how there were plenty of boys in Oklahoma to marry.)

So anyways. Bryan was the cute boy in youth group. SO cute. I believe the word we frequently used was "hot" but I digress. He was quiet but a good leader, and played baseball, which I liked. I had a crush on him on and off for the next few years (along with a few other boys) but never even halfway expected for him to like me back.

To make this long, fairly cheesy story short, Bryan did (for some strange reason) take an interest during my junior year of high school, we started dating (a little over 11 years ago), and the rest is history.

(I tried to find an old photo of us and this was the best I could do on short notice. Freshmen/Sophomore year. Also, the titles and captions of my early Facebook albums are 100% embarrassing.)

I remember teachers, friends, and other adults telling me that our relationship wouldn't know, that we would both change too much and want to date other people. That maybe we should take a break from each other....experience life on our own. We ignored them for the most part, aside from a two week breakup in college (that made me feel like I was missing my arm), and eventually got married a few months after I turned 21 and Bryan had graduated from college.

I never, for a second, had cold feet, and didn't think a thing of it when we walked down the aisle.

BUT. Since then, in the last six years, I would be lying if I said that I haven't questioned if those people who warned us were right more than a few times. Marriage is....not hard, but it forces compromise, selflessness, and forgiveness. I could go all Christian on you and say it forces you to be like Jesus, which is true, but we've all heard that sermon. It forces you to look at the ugliest parts of yourself, and unfortunately tempts you to look at the ugliest parts of your spouse. You all know this, I'm sure.

The wonderful thing about marriage and all of its challenges is that you get to keep trying. And you get to try with this person that you picked. And if you picked a good one, you get to learn and grow and experience a beautiful, ordinary life that is full of huge ups and deep downs but that you weather together because you've learned to try together.

I am realizing more and more each day and each year that most of my qualms with Bryan and with our marriage are no fault of his but are faults of my heart and my perspective. That could sound really crappy for me, but really, when considering the importance of my marriage, it's the best thing I could know. (And I am constantly learning this, there is no end to my flaws.)

I picked a good person and have always known it. You guys. Bryan is a good, good man. He helps me without being asked to, he is the first out of bed and home after it's dark and bathes the kids and puts them to bed and does the dishes each and every night. He is calm and genuine and refuses to be jealous or petty. He is a better, more patient parent than I ever could be and is always content with what he has. He is so sensitive to me and to what I feel and to what I am struggling with. He gives me so much grace.

We have been through a series of highs and lows throughout our relationship (I'd like to think there have been much more of the first and much less of the latter), and I pray for many, many more. The highs are fun and the lows make us stronger, and teach us to love harder. We are in a nice little high right now, so things are easy and low-key and I am so thankful, but mostly, I am thankful for this man I married. He has taught me so much and loves me so well and I am so grateful to God for creating him and for him being born on this day, 29 years ago.

Happy Birthday, Bryan! Thank you for loving me. And for giving me some really cute kids.

Command Center and Card Organization

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hi guys!

I had a big post written for Monday to recap last year in our family life but it got so long and was crammed with so many things that it made me tired. Thought I would spare you that. So here I am! Happy New Year! We had a wonderful break and are now (somewhat unwillingly) back in our normal routine.

I've got another JoAnn's craft for you. Hope that is alright. This is becoming a thing and I am so thankful!

They wanted me to share a bit about organization with it being the new year and I was all like, "Um, YEAH!" I am a command center nut. We don't really have cabinet space to spare in our kitchen but I was very adamant that a set of cabinets should be devoted to all of our office supplies, mailing supplies, cards, calendars, bibles, to-do lists, bills, stamps, newsletters, etc., etc. It is so much easier than walking around the house looking for things that we need to run our home and since we are in the kitchen all.the.time. it just makes more sense to keep everything in this category there as well.

I want to talk specifically about how I have decided to organize all those cards and invitations we get from loved ones throughout the year, and the cards we want to send out as well. There are really a gazillion different ways to do this, but I'm sharing my three favorites below.

1. Greeting Card Organizer:

My New years resolution this year is to send out cards on time. I've always wanted to make a card organizer and finally did it this weekend. You guys. This is the best. And super easy. I've tried a few other things in the past but the best way to do it is to keep it simple; something you can easily grab and easily sift through.

I used a little cute photo box, took the top off, and decorated like crazy. I made DIY dividers by cutting 2 pieces of scrapbook paper to fit and then gluing them back to back. Add a cut pre-cut label, stick on letters, washi tape, and a few other other paper scraps to embellish and there you are. My categories are as follows: Birthday, Baby, Anniversary, Sympathy, Wedding, Thank You, and Blank Cards. I may also add a Mother's and Father's Day section but I ran out of letters so that will have to happen later, ha!

This is so easy and even leaves room to stick your return address stamp and mailing stamps. I already ordered a bunch of cards to cover the year and am waiting for FedEx to bring them to my doorstep. #goals

2. Nail Head Bulletin Board

The front of our fridge isn't magnetized so I had to figure out a different option for displaying all the cute invitations, announcements, and flyers we get for upcoming events. I found this craft a few years ago and fell in love. Serious: this is my favorite craft ever. I have one of these already hanging in my house that I use frequently.

I feel like it has a very non-DIY look with the nice fabric and nailhead trim, which makes me like it more.

This takes about 30 minutes to do. Get yourself a big framed cork board, 1/2 yard of fabric (Always look in the remnant bin, the rolls are 50% off!), some spray adhesive for fabric, and about 3 packs of upholstery tacks. Super cheap. Maybe like $20 with coupons.

Spray the board with the adhesive and lay your fabric on top (iron it first to get out wrinkles). Smooth everything out, make sure it's centered, and then flip it over. Take a staple gun and pull the fabric tight to staple all the way around. Take the tacks and push them into the corners (right against the frame) and then space them evenly in between. You can use a rubble mallet or hammer, too. I space them about two finger-widths apart--no need for a ruler!

So easy, right?

And the last one....

3. Holiday Card Memory Book/Organizer:

If it's getting to that time where you're eyeing your holiday cards hanging on the wall or fridge and wondering what you should do with them than I've got you covered. I found this cute little silver foil kraft binder in the scrapbooking section and made it into a memory book where you can store all of you holiday cards from years past.

The key here is to keep it simple! Just decorate the front, guys. Put your family's current card on the front and have fun. Resist the urge to go crazy and decorate every page---it won't happen. You have a life. You need your sanity. :) Tape or glue your cards to some 8.5x11 cardstock and place in clear page protectors. That's it. You can add on to this every year in about 5 minutes and it store it away until the next Christmas season. It makes a great coffee table book to leave out and look through during Christmastime!

So that's what I've got for today. As always, I will be showing these on KAMR today at 4:00 along with a few other command center tips. :) If I remember I will come back here and post the segment!