Posts in DIY 2
Going Laminate

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot.

Where have you been, friends? It's so good to see you! I'm really looking forward to catching you up on all the going-ons. . . but in the meantime, I'm hopping right back into the swing of things. 

We've been busy, busy around here re-imagining our home. Our suburban colonial was built nearly twenty years ago and though we are only the second owners, we have definitely, errr, made our mark on the place. Take for example, our carpeting. Our second floor has had the original ivory-colored carpeting in the bedrooms and hallways (thankfully not the bathrooms), and ivory it was no more. And despite our vacuuming, spotting, and shampooing, two decades of wear and tear had rendered our carpeting pretty gross. 

Thanks to the good people at The Home Depot, we were able to make a great change!! We selected a beautiful Pergo laminate flooring and installed it ourselves over a series of weekends! I am a lightweight DIY pro. I can craft with the best of them, but ripping out carpeting, pulling up staples, and laying down a floating floor was out of my comfort zone. But there's strength in numbers, and two heads are better than one, so my husband and I (maybe more him than me) set our sights on a whole new look for our entire second floor. Head over to The Home Depot blog to see our how-to and reveal!!

With a new dog, a renewed love for houseplants, and a 20-year old carpet, I was convinced that we needed new flooring!

With a new dog, a renewed love for houseplants, and a 20-year old carpet, I was convinced that we needed new flooring!

I wanted a clean break from carpet and a fresh feel for our second floor. All of our bedrooms are on the second floor, and our kids sleep and play in their spaces so easy-to-clean was a top priority for me. With our new dog (there she is, that's Cozi!) and new plants, I wanted something durable.

I'm really happy with how the flooring has refreshed our space. 

Our master bedroom had become too much of a catch all for items no longer needed elsewhere. My first big step was a major re-organization. Once we de-cluttered and removed excess, I began to see the potential for this space. Our master has a beautiful vaulted ceiling, plenty of floor space, furniture that I love, and three large windows that brighten the room for most of the day.

Our master bedroom got a refresh all around with new paint, fresh pillows, and new accents. It feels better than ever!

Our master bedroom got a refresh all around with new paint, fresh pillows, and new accents. It feels better than ever!

Thanks to the recommendation of designer Jeran McConnel, we also decided to repaint our room. It had been cool green shade called Rejuvenation by Sherwin Williams, and we opted for a clean Alabaster shade (also from Sherwin Williams). Alabaster is a warm white that feels like a color and not the blankness that concerned me when we first considered going to white.

We still have a gallery wall to install, and I'm creating a painting for above our bed, but I already love how our once-dated space feels like an artist's loft with the dark floors and white walls. And I am quite partial to artist's spaces.

Today's laminate, like the beauty of Auburn Scraped Oak from Pergo, feels and looks authentic.

Today's laminate, like the beauty of Auburn Scraped Oak from Pergo, feels and looks authentic.

I reshaped and recovered our nursery glider with this great fabric from Minted artists. Now it feels as comfortable as ever but has a graphic quality that matures it for our bedroom space.

I reshaped and recovered our nursery glider with this great fabric from Minted artists. Now it feels as comfortable as ever but has a graphic quality that matures it for our bedroom space.

We also re-imagined some furniture in our space like the baby glider. Anyone have one of those??

When our first child was on her way, we wanted one of the infamous baby gliders. Five years later, not only had the glider outlasted its purpose, but we were left with an eyesore. I can't deny that the chair is really comfortable so I attempted to repurpose the glider for the sitting area of our bedroom. I added foam to reshape the traditional lines, and I recovered the whole thing in a graphic pattern from the artists at Minted. Now, along with a floor lamp and great gold pouf, the chair makes a cozy hideaway in front of our windows. It's a lovely spot for morning prayers and journaling as well as a late night retreat for final emails or great books (like this one that I'm loving right now).

This soft shag rug from The Home Depot grounds the room in comfort, and the translucent curtains remind me of summer even in the perma-gray of winter.

This soft shag rug from The Home Depot grounds the room in comfort, and the translucent curtains remind me of summer even in the perma-gray of winter.

Our new white shag rug grounds the room in comfort and luxury. The philodendron (which I've named Phil) is a great touch of green. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy having plants in my space.

I have more to share!! And I'm looking forward to giving you more peaks into our space. I have some projects that I think you'll love, and I'm happy to be back on the blog with you. Thanks for sticking with me and for supporting this blog and small business for so many years!!

Onward and upward - xoxo, MJ

 

 

I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with me to participate in this Laminate Flooring Installation ("the Program"). As a part of the Program, I am receiving compensation in the form of products and services, for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

Watercolor Resist Banner
The grand reveal of a resist technique make them a lot of fun for kid creations. Try this process to create a letter banner from washi tape and watercolors.

The grand reveal of a resist technique make them a lot of fun for kid creations. Try this process to create a letter banner from washi tape and watercolors.

We've been out enjoying the weather as much as we can this week, but we've had a lot of rain mixed with warm temperatures so we had some great time indoors working on summer reading and this fun watercolor resist banner for Father's Day.

I'd seen some of the incredible posts that Jean from The Artful Parent has created with resists. We decided to give it a try, making our own letters from washi tape and then applying them to watercolor paper.

The grand reveal of a resist technique make them a lot of fun for kid creations. Try this process to create a letter banner from washi tape and watercolors.

The grand reveal of a resist technique make them a lot of fun for kid creations. Try this process to create a letter banner from washi tape and watercolors.

Any image or shape can be used. We decided to make our own letterforms to spell out Happy Father's Day. Using parchment paper as backing, we created the letters with tape. Once they were the shape we wanted (good practice for my 5-year old as he solidifies his formation of letters), we trimmed and embellished the edges to add some flair.

Next we stuck each letter to its own piece of watercolor paper. The children decided that they wanted each letter to be one color, and we practiced using the watercolor paints. It was a tough adjustment for some since our usual painting process involves putting a blob of paint on and smoothing it around. Watercolor is much more fluid, and the brushstrokes can be a lovely part of the finished product. We're still working on our technique.

In the meantime, we created a colorful banner, which was a lot of fun to peel and reveal. I holepunched the top corners of each letter, trimmed them into a slightly more angular shape, and tied them together for celebrating.

The kids were pretty proud to see their teamwork adding joy and color to our space, and they're ready to paint some more.

Have you tried watercolor resist before? With your children?

xoxo, MJ

P.S. If you're following along with the 18 Summers Challenge, we're making classic balloon rockets tomorrow. Join us!

Rock the Clock game
Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

We're learning the fun way this summer! And what could be better (or easier) than rocks and some paint? I'm so excited to share with you our favorite new learning activity for preschoolers/K, early elementary, and even middle schoolers.

Sometimes my children stare at an analog clock, trying to read it quickly. It feels a bit like a foreign language since our electronics and nearly every clock in our home is digital. We created this game to help them be able to take on time with confidence and to have some fun with it in the process.

To make a Rock the Clock game, you'll need a square canvas, 24 rocks (12 larger, 12 smaller), rainbow paints, a white paint marker, and craft glue/hot glue. As the backing, I used a canvas I found on clearance at a craft store. Its image is not one that I wanted to hang, but I knew the canvas frame would come in handy. Using the frame like a tray, I painted the edges black to contrast with the rainbow rocks.

Sorting the rocks into two main piles, large and small, I selected one from each pile to paint a shade of the rainbow. Remember that the large rocks will be numbered with hours and the small rocks will have the minute numbers on them. I recommend two layers of paint on your rocks to make sure that the colors are nice and saturated.

Once the rocks are painted and dried, add numbers with the paint marker. Let that dry and then glue the rocks onto the canvas. In the center, you can paint or place a simple circle or press a blob of playdough to hold the hands of the clock. We made our hands from two twigs and painted them in different stripe patterns so that it's easy to talk about the big hand (that's black and white) or the small hand (that's orange and blue).

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

DOWNLOAD ROCK THE CLOCK FOR EARLY ELEMENTARY

For L, our emergent reader, we used the elementary version of Rock the Clock. A stack of cards, with times of o'clock and thirty are an easy way to begin. I sat next to him as he showed me on the clock what the time on the card said. I was amazed how quickly he wanted to move into the quarter hour times because, with the visual of the rocks and the numbers, he understood how the big hand works. Learning is amazing to watch.

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

DOWNLOAD ROCK THE CLOCK FOR ELEMENTARY

For C, our new 3rd grader, we made a new set of cards. Her times are set to the 5-minute increment. She wanted to be a bit more independent so I offered her the option of taking a photo of the clock and the card next to each other and sending it to me!

This is a great idea for working parents!! Ask your child to set the clock to the time they woke up and text it to you.

Also, to challenge her further, the second set of cards asks her to calculate how much time has elapsed from a start time to an end time. She can use the rock clock to count through the minutes and hours and write down her time.


DOWNLOAD ROCK THE CLOCK FOR TIME ZONES AROUND THE WORLD

And for M, who wants to travel the world, I adapted this as a learning tool for world time zones. Using the printable map, she can discover new countries and relate to how life might be the same or completely different there. I have a lot to learn on this one, too, so I'm excited to learn side-by-side.

We think we may turn the game into a working clock at summer's end since we can't resist a good rainbow craft, but who knows. Simple tools like this are amazingly helpful to boost learning and take understanding to a whole new level.

Know anyone who might enjoy creating and playing with Rock the Clock? Send this post along!

XOXO, MJ

Citrus Floral Centerpiece

Good Monday morning! I'm delighted share a special project with you that is featured in the second issue of a fabulous online magazine called Merry, created by my friend Melissa of The Sweet Escape.

Slices of citrus add the color and the vibrancy to summer's blooms!

Slices of citrus add the color and the vibrancy to summer's blooms!

The toughest part of this centerpiece is finding just the right vases. You're looking for two that fit nicely inside of each other, with a quarter to a half an inch gap where you can add in the fruits. Oranges, grapefruit, limes, and lemons will last for a few days with no maintenance.

Some of summer's best treats come in the warm temperatures, the sun-kissed colors, and the gorgeous florals. Using two glass vases of similar shapes, you can create a lovely combination of all the bests of the season. With a mixture of grapefruit, orange, and lemon slices, the walls of the centerpiece become a showcase of citrus. Pair these circular slices with voluminous peonies for a blend of beauty and a delight for all the senses.

Pairing similar tones makes for a sweet bouquet of freshness. Consider also a sharp contrast with an aloe plant or tropical variety for the inner vase!

Merry Mag is a beautiful online magazine showing you the best projects for the sweet summer hours. Browse through the 98 pages of goodness at  Merry Mag .

Merry Mag is a beautiful online magazine showing you the best projects for the sweet summer hours. Browse through the 98 pages of goodness at Merry Mag.

Congrats to Melissa and to all twenty contributors on a lovely summer resource. Head on over to Merry Mag to see ninety-eight pages of photos and projects to make you swoon!

xoxo, MJ

P.S. If you're joining us for the 18 Summers Challenge, we're making music tomorrow with water and glasses. Break out the food coloring!

Painted Terra Cotta Pot Garden
Take a great recipe to the next level! Plant a pot full of the ingredients and add the ingredient list, handwritten on the pot. A fabulous teacher present, too!

Take a great recipe to the next level! Plant a pot full of the ingredients and add the ingredient list, handwritten on the pot. A fabulous teacher present, too!

Summer is the best time to be outside! We love getting to know local plants and flowers and planting our family garden is a highlight of the summer's start. Frequent visits to the nursery for vegetable and herb plants are just a part of our summer ritual. The kids love to touch and to smell each plant, and I love that they are more interested in the meals and dishes we create with the plants that they have grown (bonus!)!

As a fun extension of our usual veggie patch, we decided to make a special garden for one of their new favorite foods - salsa! Tacos, burritos, and guacamole have been added to our menu planning, and the kids expressed interest in making our own version.

Add your favorite recipe with a paint marker and plant a garden just for this dish! Makes a wonderful hostess gift or teacher present.

Add your favorite recipe with a paint marker and plant a garden just for this dish! Makes a wonderful hostess gift or teacher present.

With so many great salsa recipes out there, you likely already have your own blend, but if not, try this one from Lulu the Baker or Cooking Classy's restaurant style. We know that not every ingredient is readily available locally so we put together what we could find.

The supplies are simple on this one: one large terra cot pot, outdoor paint (one that seals the pot for you), a white paint marker, and your plants. Perhaps your garden will be an Italian selection for pesto or a French selection of tarragon. Pick your recipe and then select your plants, keeping in mind that some might need to be transferred as they grow larger.

In our salsa pot, we have roma tomatoes, two cilantro plants, and a few yellow onions. It smells so delish! And it's already brought so much happiness before we even get to the final product. Seeing my children enjoying the gifts of nature is a fabulous part of our 18 Summers Challenge. And M loved making one as a year-end present for her teacher, too!

Give a mini garden of all the best ingredients for a wonderful salsa and write the recipe right on the pot! Great teacher gift!!

Give a mini garden of all the best ingredients for a wonderful salsa and write the recipe right on the pot! Great teacher gift!!

What would you plant?

xoxo, MJ

P.S. Are you joining in the projects we're creating for this summer together? Up tomorrow, a fun game called Rock the Clock. Get those stones ready.

P.P.S. If you want a sneak peek into all that's ahead, including supply lists, subscribe to the Pars Caeli newsletter by adding your email below.

Strawberry Shortcake Stars

It's strawberry season! And picking time is our favorite. Today we're enjoying the sweet flavors of strawberries with a fun take on a traditional strawberry shortcake that leans a bit more to the messy and child-loving side.

Strawberry Shortcake Stars are a treat perfect for July 4th or any star-studded celebration, like the end of great day!

Strawberry Shortcake Stars are a treat perfect for July 4th or any star-studded celebration, like the end of great day!

The kids and I love to bake together so we'll be sharing more recipes like this during the 18 Summers Challenge, and we all love strawberries so this was a win win for us. Not every day is a great baking day, though, (remember those ideas I gave for having success with your kids in the kitchen?) so I waited until L and I had some time to ourselves to create treats for the rest of the family. Give yourself about an hour from start to finish for this recipe and enjoy the mess of flour and dough. It will happen. And the messy will likely be your child's favorite part so do your best to set aside the need to keep tidy.

Take a plateful (or about 4 cups) of sliced strawberries to make a family portion of Strawberry Shortcake Stars.

Take a plateful (or about 4 cups) of sliced strawberries to make a family portion of Strawberry Shortcake Stars.

Preheat your oven to 425ºF. We adapted this recipe for easy strawberry shortcakes from Just A Taste, Here's what you need:

  • 4 C sliced strawberries - we cut ours super small for little mouths and hands
  • 2 T sugar

Mix these two together and set aside while you're making the rest of the recipe.

  • 2 C flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C heavy cream, plus additional for brushing on shortcakes
  • Sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 C chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 C sour cream
  • 4 T sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
Mix these strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar together and set aside while you're making the rest of the recipe.

Mix these strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar together and set aside while you're making the rest of the recipe.

Stir together the sliced strawberries with the sugar (a great job for little hands). Set aside. Be sure to take in the delicious smells of fresh berries.

Mixing and kneading are great skills for children to accomplish. Make these yummy Strawberry Shortcake Stars with your kids!

Mixing and kneading are great skills for children to accomplish. Make these yummy Strawberry Shortcake Stars with your kids!

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.

Add the heavy cream. Form the dough into a ball within the bowl and then move to a lightly floured surface for kneading. Not much is necessary, only one or two pounds to be sure you don't have tough cakes.

Roll the dough to about 1/2-inch thick. With a star cookie cutter (we used one 3" wide), cut out shapes and transfer them to the baking sheet. We were able to make 10 stars from our batch. Gently pour less than a teaspoon of heavy cream on each and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until they're golden brown.

Cookie cutters are handy all year round! Strawberry Shortcake Stars.

Cookie cutters are handy all year round! Strawberry Shortcake Stars.

Let those cool while you put together the cream. Make sure the ingredients here are very cold. We had ours a little warmer and the cream was extra melty but still delicious!

Mix the heavy cream, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract with a mixer on high speed. Continue until peaks form.

Strawberry Shortcake Stars are a treat perfect for July 4th or any star-studded celebration, like the end of great day!

Strawberry Shortcake Stars are a treat perfect for July 4th or any star-studded celebration, like the end of great day!

Creating your shortcake is as wonderful as sandwich making. Slice the stars horizontally to create a top and bottom piece. First add a layer of cream, and then 2-3 spoonfuls of strawberries. The amount of cream and strawberries you add makes it more or less a sandwich treat. Some enjoy shortcake with a fork anyway.

This easy recipe for strawberry shortcake is one that you can do with the kids! Find more info on Pars Caeli.

This easy recipe for strawberry shortcake is one that you can do with the kids! Find more info on Pars Caeli.

Little fingers won't be able to stay away from these delicious strawberry shortcake stars, the simple, delicious way to use in-season berries.

Little fingers won't be able to stay away from these delicious strawberry shortcake stars, the simple, delicious way to use in-season berries.

We loved eating these as open face treats, too. This allowed for extra dollops of cream and more heaping helpings of strawberries!

Have you made any strawberry treats this season?

XOXO, MJ

P.S. For those following along with the 18 Summers Challenge, we'll be going on a hunt in nature tomorrow! Printables, printables, printables!!

5 Ways to DIY: Wood Trays

It's a great week, friends! We're kicking it off with a fun new series. I'm teaming up with four makers to show you how to DIY the same object five different ways. And we want to see how you'd create one, too, through a fantastic giveaway!

Here's our team:

  • Laurel from A Bubbly Life always brings the party with her, and it was her crafty mind that brought all of us together. She did a great wood burned love message on her tray, and I'm itching to give wood burning a try. Have you ever done it?
  • Sarah of Sarah Hearts put together a signature polka dot tray that bursts with cheer. Sarah's projects are always filled with color and vibrancy. Click over to see how she created her tray (and check out her studio door that coordinates oh so nicely).
  • Jeran from Oleander and Palm chose a rich stain to color her tray and then she added a modern touch with her handles and triangle design. Her styling is global and sleek and kind of transformative for a simple wood tray.
  • Rachel of The Crafted Life covered her tray in vibrant fabric. In her style, she made a big impact with process that we can all give a try! I love how she makes the most beautiful projects approachable and awesome.
PC_5waystoDIY_woodtray.jpg

For my wood tray, I wanted something white and patterned. The final product is a white washed, hand-drawn patterned bedside tray. The process is foolproof (perfect for me) and quick to complete.

All you need is a small can of whitewash stain and an oil-based gold marker. I used a fine tip gold Sharpie. Paint the entire tray with the whitewash. Let it dry overnight and add a second coat.

Create an easy patterned tray with oil-based permanent markers and this simple geometric design. #5waystoDIY

Create an easy patterned tray with oil-based permanent markers and this simple geometric design. #5waystoDIY

Once the second coat is dry, you can begin drawing on the tray. For this pattern, I drew the vertical lines first and then quickly added in the diagonals. Don't fuss too much with perfection and let yourself just doodle and enjoy the repetitive motion back and forth. Hand-drawn patterns have become a favorite of mine, and they're totally on trend right now!

Paint markers can add a gilded finish to a simple wood tray. #5waystoDIY

Paint markers can add a gilded finish to a simple wood tray. #5waystoDIY

To finish off the tray, I painted the interior of the handles with the gold Sharpie and called it complete. I love working with the fine tip paint marker, the flow is consistent and precise, and the shimmer of the gold is just enough.

Be sure to click on through all the ways to recreate a wood tray, AND enter below to make your own. I'll be teaming up again with these great ladies (Luck-y me!!!) for another #5WaystoDIY so look for the hashtag and let us know what we should take on next!

And thanks for joining in the fun!!

xoxo, MJ


Paper Straw Easels
Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

I can't help it. I love all things Valentine. The burst of reds and pinks in the middle of dreary gray winter is perfect-o. Today we're going all out with striped fun and a quick, easy project made from the classic paper straw.

The mini easels are fabulous for a romantic message, your child's adorable valentine, or your party's place cards! You can whip these up in ten minutes, too, so no extra stressing involved (fist bump).

For each easel you need two straws, a small piece of thin wire, scissors, and a bit of glue.

Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

You have two straws. Take the first and bend it in half. Flatten the straw a bit at the fold. At the point of the fold, make a small cut that goes not even halfway through the straw.

Cut the second straw in half. One piece will be used as the back leg of the easel. With the other small piece, bend it in half to use as the base for the front of the easel.

Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

Take the long, bent straw and the back leg straw and feed a small piece of wire through the leg and one of the sides. This will give you some control of how your easel stands. Trim the wires right at the bottom of the straws and curl them over the bottom edge of the straw.

Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

Stand the tripod easel. With the folded small piece. glue each end to the front of the easel so that it creates a v-shaped shelf in the front for your Valentine message!

Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

Paper straws as easels! The perfect place for your favorite sweet message and a great place card for your Valentine celebration.

We've made a set of these for a Galentine party for my oldest. The easels have enough celebration in them to set the whole tone of love and friendship for any kind of festivity!

Happy celebrating!

xoxo, MJ

Conversation Heart Brownies

Conversation hearts are the iconic candy of Valentine's Day, but candies themselves could use a taste boost. What if you could send sweet nothings and enjoy some chewy chocolate, too? These brownie hearts are easy and charming for an after school treat or a romantic finale to a dinner in.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Pull out your heart-shaped cookie cutter, a box of brownie mix (or make from scratch if you're ready for that), and bamboo skewers. These arrow skewers are my favorite! Use a permanent marker to change their natural tone to something more heartastic for Valentine's.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Bake your brownies as usual and let them cool completely. Press cookie cutter into the brownies and remove onto another plate.

To stencil on your message, download the svg file Be Mine and Hug Me. Cut these with your Cricut Explore or with a sharp craft knife. Sprinkle powdered sugar into the stencil and carefully press the sugar into the letters.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Finally, put on your cupid wings, and push the skewers through the heart, like arrows, and present to the one you love.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Looking forward to sharing another Valentine treat with you tomorrow! It's become a favorite at our house.

xoxo, MJ

P.S. If you're looking for an easy way for your child to bring in classroom Valentines, turn one of her or his shirts into a fun, no sew bag!

Housewarming Party for New Year's Eve

Welcome back, friends! I hope you had an awesome Hanukkah or Christmas celebration. My house is still recovering from the messes of presents, big meals, and guests, but I'm a happy camper for all of the good times celebrated! You can catch all of our adventures on Instagram using the hashtag #parscaeli_christmas. The days of Christmas will continue tomorrow with a few more surprises and special moments, but today, I have a New Year's treat for you! I'm teaming up with Wayfair to host a Housewarming Party with some great ideas for your New Year's Eve celebrations! 

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Here are my top six picks from our Wayfair bloggers as well as one of my own! Tell me what are your plans for the holiday?

1. RASPBERRY CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL from Conni Jespersen. Conni has mixed together some fabulous flavors for the perfect NYE bubbly to enjoy with friends. I think raspberries are the perfect mix!

2. NEW YEAR'S EVEN CLOCK CAKE on 'A Casarella. Elena made these charming cupcakes for one fabulous birthday party/NYE theme. I love that everyone can enjoy a bit of the spirit of counting down to the new year. Or, you could enjoy one for each hour all by yourself!

3. NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY CROWNS on DomestiKated Life. Kate made these fun glitter crowns by cutting out just the right expressions for NYE! Her mix of colors is spot on, and these are easy enough for your guests to even create their own.

4. NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION BRACELETS on Tried and True. Vanessa has crafted something I never imagined in these focus word bracelets. Using the same idea as shrinky dinks, you can make your own bracelets to wear or hang on your mirror to remember and to choose to focus on all of the right things for the new year.

5. NEW YEAR'S EVEN PARTY HORNS on DomestiKated Life. Back again with Kate for some fun party horns. Add your own expression to these horns for a truly unique engagement.

6. DIY ROARING '20s NYE PARTY by Andrea for Cricut Design Space Star. I love the 20's flair that Andrea created in her banner. Aren't metallics perfect for the sparkle of New Year's Eve? Check out all of the accessories she created that would coordinate perfectly for your party.

+1. NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS PRINTABLE by MJ of Pars Caeli

We are busy talking about our favorite moments of 2014 in our home. Every year we make a family sheet of the bests of the ending year. It's a fun way to remember the big and small events that might have been forgotten and record it for year to come. We're also planning for 2015 and thinking about what we want to stop and what we want to start. Sometimes our lives can be just that simple if we take the time to reflect. I created this great printable for Modern Parents Messy Kids that you can print free and use with your family to talk about memories and goals.

Housewarming Logo.jpg

A big thank you to all of our fabulous bloggers!! I'm hosting a family NYE party at our house, and I'm grateful for all of these fabulous ideas. What do you have planned for these last days of 2014?

xoxo, MJ

Create Your Own Christmas Tree with Painted Glass Balls
PC_glassornaments.jpg

It is the season. Frenzy has set in around here. Not full-on panic, but excitement, merriment, forgetfulness, and binge eating at weird hours of the day. Deep breaths. I am excited to say that we have whipped up a handmade tree that I am all sorts of in love with.

It's like Pars Caeli reincarnated in tree form. My oldest daughter and I went shopping for the supplies together and selected the palette which ended up looking a whole lot like this one here. It's the first time I've gone non-traditional, and the colors pop with the festivity of the season.

If you're looking to create a themed tree or something unique, try this easy method that is friendly to ages 3-133 as long as everyone is careful with the glass ornaments!

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These are magical in their final form, even better than I had hoped. And I can't wait to show them all to you on the tree, but, first, I have a few more additions to show you to our that include a few super easy projects!

Check in tomorrow to see the best ever pink and orange ornaments for our fanciful tree.

Also, starting later this week, a return of one of my favorite times of year! The 12 Bloggers of Christmas will be sharing with you their favorite holiday traditions and projects/recipes that have kept them excited about the holidays in the midst of frenzy! I'm delighted to have their personalities here to share with you.

xoxo, MJ

DIY Photo Bow
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Whether you're an early shopper, almost done with your Christmas lists, or a timely purchaser (see how positively I spun that for folks like myself?) waiting until the big sales hit the shelves, now is the perfect time to get your creative wrapping ideas together.

A present wrapped with extra attention and fine details speaks to the recipient and says that they are different and special. Such a lovely gesture, right?

How about making a bow that is completely personalized with photographs of the giver or the receiver or even special places visited together? Photo bows are easy, and they can make you look like a super thoughtful crafting whiz in no time.

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I created these bows for grandparent presents! For the first, I created a montage of photos of my son from this last year. The finished bow is colorful and a scrapbook unto itself.

For the second, I used all of the same family photograph. This finished bow lent itself to a more sophisticated color palette, and it allows you to coordinate bow to paper a little bit easier.

Typically I'm a fine ribbon kind of gal, but these bows inspired me to learn how to make a paper bow. I was a little shocked by how quickly they come together.

First, in a photo program, align strips of photographs. I printed all of mine on one sheet of paper so I made each strip .75 inches wide to fit on the page.

You'll need three long strips, three medium strips, two short strips, and one mini strip.

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Cut these out. If you have a great stapler, grab that to create your bow. If not, strong craft glue or hot glue work really well to create a neat, compact look for your bow.

To form each row of the bow, simply create a loop that crosses on itself. You can find a great photo guide over on Milomade that explains this step clearly.

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Make loops out of all of your strips except the min strip which will become a circle that goes on the top to cover staples or glue.

The largest three are set equidistant from one another on the bottom. Then the same star shape is created with the medium loops. The small strips will create a cross once attached. And finish off with the mini loop in the middle.

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I can imagine these used on anniversary presents with special wedding photos on them. Or used to show an ultrasound photo to announce a new baby to relatives and friends!

Create a wrapping that means something to you and your loved one - make a photo bow!

xoxo, MJ

Paper Christmas Trees
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For this month's project, I created these fun message Christmas trees that shout out the joy and revelry of the season! I've been using my drawing tablet a ton (for a new, very special project yet to be revealed), and I want to experiment with creating my own text. So using my tablet, I wrote out the text and made an image of it. I wanted the words to hang on the tree like an ornament or garland might.

Within Illustrator, I created an altered a three-dimensional tree (from the Cricut Design Space offering) to have more of a hook end to each branch. These little trees make great stands for mini garlands, uber tiny ornaments, or in this case, happy phrases that have you hanging on every word. :)

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Silver and gold and white fit in every room, every decor. Using metallic and glittery paper in cardstock weight, you have trees that can stand on their own and make super additions to the mantle and the sofa table.

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The Merry Christmas sign can be hung on the branches from the curves of the letters. They could also be used as table confetti around the trees or adapted to read "Merry, Merry."

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I am a Cricut affiliate, and I did receive a machine to make these projects. And, it's been fun. Thanks to all who have thrown their support and help along the way. I hope that you'll enter our giveaway and make along with me using the Cricut Explore. If you're a crafter, it's incredibly handy to bring dreams to reality in a really easy, efficient way.

xoxo,

MJ

 

Snowflake toppers
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Even though we're in the throws of October and fall, I wanted to show you a super cute gift topper that can transition us right to the winter holidays. As a part of this month's Cricut Design Space Star challenge, along with my Lucky 13 Team Members, I set out to create some Holiday decor and gifts that show off sparkle.

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You need to click around to their posts and see some of the great creations this month, from window clings to pallet creations to Advent calendars and party hats.

1. The Sweet Escape Glitter Cut Out Card

2. Pretty Providence Nativity Board

3. Petit a Petit + Family Winter Wonderland

4. Andrea's Notebook Advent Countdown

5. Simply Sadie Jane Corn Tassel Banner

6. Pars Caeli Snowflake Toppers

7. East Coast Creative Geometric Christmas Ornament

8. Suburban Bitches Let It Snow

9. That Girl Katie Party Hats

10. Sew Creative Let It Snow Recycled Pallet

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Since I love the art and process of paper snowflakes (remember these snowflakes that adorned the tree last year?), I wanted to create a project that utilized some of the amazing images that Cricut has in their design space. You don't need to recreate the wheel when there's beauty before you. These ornate snowflakes are even made to be three dimensional.

I used glitter paper, some wood beads that I'd painted gold, pinecones, and twine to blend Holiday Sparkle with the natural beauty of the season.

You only need one 12"x12" paper for a set of six three-dimensional snowflakes. It's amazing the detail that the Cricut can handle. These are really mini works of art when complete.

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They make a fun banner strung with the wooden beads. And the metallic tones add a fresh touch to the traditional holiday decor.

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Cricut recently something really fun for the Cricut Explore! You can now Print and Cut. Print any image on your printer and then cut it with your Cricut Explore. Oodles of possibilities!

xoxo, MJ

**I did receive a Cricut machine for free and may receive prizes in exchange for winning projects. I am under consideration for a prize with Cricut Design Space Star. All opinions are my own.

Halloween Games and Crafts
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'Tis the season for ghoulish delights and ghastly scares. But sometimes children (and adults) enjoy the light-hearted festivties rather than the fear-inducing elements of Halloween. We celebrated my 5-year old son's birthday, and I put together a few hours of crafts and games that are easy and sure to delight! The beauty of all of these is that they are simple, use mostly what you have around the house, and your kids can even help to create them.

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A twist on a classic - Halloween Bingo! Try using candy corn to mark off the Halloween objects and characters. Even the children that don't shout Bingo when with their extra treats on the board! My favorite Halloween printable board is from The Artsy Fartsy Mama. It has beautiful illustrations, and it's easy enough for our 5 and under crowd to understand!

How about a retake on the classic ring toss? Sometimes Creative had the best idea to use witch's hats! Since this was an afternoon celebration, the room was dark enough to show off our glowstick rings that made the tossing even more fun (and not dangerous for any by-standers). This would be really fun using glow in the dark (sorry, we are all about it these days) paint or tape on the hats, too, and playing it as a night-time game with the older set!

The easiest jack o'lantern treat bags can be made with an orange sack, a hole punch, some black paper, and a green pipe cleaner for the curly stem. We stuffed ours with candy, Halloween stickers, and a special ghostly flashlight! I used the same face shapes for all of the bags so it was a quick assembly line of glue to get them all in order.

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An easy craft for little hands to master? Bat sitters. These are construction paper, paint, pipe cleaners, and a tp tube. Buggy and Buddy made these adorable hanging bats, and we used the same process! To make the creation go easier for the children, I painted the tubes beforehand. I also glued on the eyes and cut out the wings. So, it was their job to attach the wings, and thread through the bat legs for a final winged character.

Talk about using items found around your house... how about a little pumpkin and ghost bowling with toilet paper? I saw these all over Pinterest and had to give it a try. Helpful hint here: have a real pumpkin with some weight to it to toss at the ghosts because that solid three-wide stack of toilet paper is a pretty solid force to knock down. We changed the game to a throw rather than a bowl so we could watch the the tower come down.

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Hanging ghosts and jack o'lantern clementines and cuties are fun to have around (party or not). I've found myself drawing on our oranges even days after the party as a fun way to add the joy of the Halloween to the kids' lunches. In fact, I even got this from my 5-year old:

"Mommy, are you really going to draw on everything?"

"Yes. Yes, I am."

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And why should the fun stop when the party ends? We needed some fun thank you cards after the celebration, and I thought these black cats from Parents Magazine were so clever. We made one the way the free printable (!) shows you and the other, we turned its head so that it could easily fit into an envelope. These are so fun to sit around on tables and shelves. If you run out of googly eyes (like we did) use foam stickers to make your cat have glowing eyes!

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We loved having our friends over to create and play! It's a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween. You can put all this together for a playdate this weekend!

Our costumes are ready. We have a ninja turtle, a Harry Potter character, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and lucky me is Glenda the good witch this year. How will you be celebrating Halloween this year?

xoxo, MJ

Halloween Hanging Ghosts
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Ready for a really easy Halloween decor with high impact? Let's make some Halloween Hanging Ghosts. These are an awesome addition to your party and interior decorations for the season.

Inspired by these twirling spiral ghosts, I created these ghoulish creatures that are now hanging from chandeliers and pendants all over our house.

I love how simple they are to create from cardstock, scrapbook paper, or posterboard. You need something that will give you extra weight so that gravity can do its thing.

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You can cut the design with scissors or upload this ghost file on to your Cricut Explore. I mass produced these ghosts so that we could have some hanging from the chandelier in the dining room and the kitchen pendants. These were created from 12" x 12" white scrapbook paper.

This swirl can be transformed into candy corn stripes or the twirly stem of a pumpkin, too! The best part about hanging ghosts is that they catch the wind easily and spin in the air. I attached ours to the ceiling lights with invisible beading string for a fun "magic" appearance.

Have you decked out your home for Halloween yet?

XOXO, MJ

The Great Pumpkin Round-Up and a Glow-in-the-Dark Pumpkin

Pumpkin decoration has become a hobby unto itself. Between painting and carving and dyeing and covering, the pumpkin shape is quite the autumnal muse.

This year we purchased our pumpkins early, and before we carve them, we're having some glow-in-the-dark fun with sllly expressions. These faces have the jack-o-lantern charm. I love how they add the festive fun of Halloween during the daylight and some of the freaky during the dark.

I'm over at Classic Play showing you how to make these glowing faces as well as giving you only the best of the best for The Great Pumpking Round-Up.

How are you decorating your pumpkin this year?

XOXO, MJ

3 Steps to Create an Art Caddy for Kids
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Sometimes you run across a loved object and know that it's just perfect. But, you can't quite put your finger on what it is or what it will be perfect for...

This is.... a chicken feeder, used on farms, and it's seen a lot of good use and has an interesting patina to it.

So, I picked it up at a bargain price.

And we have repurposed it for the perfect art caddy for the kids! It fits in so well with my goal to live in every room.

In every room of our house (save the bathrooms), we have art supplies. We also, of course, have an art room where all major art projects happen. Sometimes my adventurous children want all of the supplies wherever they may be, inside or out.

We've always enjoyed the joy of spontaneous and mobile creation. I have many happy memories of bobbling toddlers and determined preschoolers walking around with buckets of crayons, as my daughters or my son would decide to plop anywhere and draw.

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Now we have a chicken feeder converted to art caddy extraordinaire. Here's what every great caddy needs:

1. Portability:

Whether it's a bucket or a shelved unit like ours, a great caddy needs to be easily handled in small hands. Sturdy buckets with strong handles work well indoors and out. Ours is a big piece so the handle bar at the top is helpful, as well as felt pads under the caddy to allow even small people to push this one easily from room to room on our floors.

I love seeing one of my kids creating, with the caddy pulled up right alongside.

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2.Select the best of the best supplies:

When children are young artists, they may focus on one medium more than another. Until preschool, my kids were all about crayons. Now everyone has their sophisticated choices for what they want to use.

Our caddy currently holds:

  • Scissors with many different edges
  • Hole punches of various shapes
  • Glue sticks and white glue
  • Tape
  • A ruler
  • A bucket of colored pencils
  • A pencil sharpener
  • A stack of small notepads (always ready to be doodled upon)
  • Three crayon buckets (now that everyone is older, we sort them by primary colors for learning and ease of use)
  • A pack of markers
  • 3 small packs of crayons (great to grab if you're headed to the car)
  • Finger paints
  • Stapler and staple remover

We rotate the caddy supplies in and out as favorites come and go.  What's most used in your house? Make sure your caddy is well stocked for a great invitation to create.

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3. Make storage within the storage.

The dollar section at Target or any dollar store have great options for small storage. Keep old Easter baskets, sturdy gift boxes, and even plastic containers to help your caddy stay clear of clutter.

It also allows for easy sharing. One child can grab the bucket of gluesticks and basket of scissors to create out of construction paper, while another takes the box of markers and a hole punch for a birthday card.

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Such a beautiful and clutter-free caddy might just inspire the grown-ups in the house to create and to bring that sense of spontaneous art making anywhere you go!

xoxo, MJ

We're Going on a Leaf Hunt Wreath with Classic Play
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Celebrating fall for all the right reasons - the smells and the flavors, the sounds and the feel. I created this easy Leaf Hunt Wreath with my youngest last week, and I'm delighted to be over at Classic Play sharing a group of mini projects that ended in this.

We're still working out the kinks in the back-to-school schedule, trying to fit in all that we'd like to do without becoming totally exhausted. Sometimes a group of smaller projects works best for us... like this one. Over a series of days, we went on a hunt for fresh fallen leaves, we sorted and pressed them, we admired and painted them, and then we created the indoor fall wreath to show off all of our work and time together.

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The final creation is a colorful addition to your home's fall decor, and your little ones can feel good about their time spent, over many days, hanging out with you!

Happy fall!

xoxo, MJ

If you're looking for more great ideas, check out this easy pumpkin decoration and follow our board for all your fall and Halloween brainstorms!

Flower Lights: A Floral Affair
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Lights. Miniature lights, strings of lights, twinkling lights. No matter the season, to me they say, "there's a party going on right here." For this month's Cricut Design Space Star challenge, I wanted to work with light to make a unique party addition.

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Beginning with a 20-count pack of battery-operated lights, I decided to play with the Something Blue idea for a special bridal shower or an anniversary dinner party. Blue flowers, with a few exceptions, are tough to find, so we made some.

To create your own, you'll need a light strand, hot glue gun, vellum sheets, and scissors or a cutting machine (like a Cricut!). I created some petal shapes in three sizes, but all within an inch of one another.

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I uploaded the .svg file to the Cricut Design space. I set my Cricut to cut the vellum petals. I love the translucency of the layers of the vellum in light. To assemble, begin with the inner-most layer and glue the petals into a curling pattern around the center bulb.

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A really simple project, and since these are battery-operated, they sit nicely around a table setting, or down the center of a table, displayed around a cake, or even strung to add life to a boring corner.

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Another Lucky #13 Cricut Challenge is coming your way, friends! This time our team created wedding and party decor. And I do have to say, I love all the possibilities!

Happy weekend, friends! Check out all of these wonderful projects from my teammates...

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  1. The Sweet Escapes Floral Cake Topper
  2. East Coast Creative’s Photo Backdrop
  3. Andrea’s Notebook Floral Pinwheel
  4. Sew Creative’s Paper Bridal Bouquet
  5. Pars Caeli’s Flower Lights
  6. Petit a Petit and Family’s Birthday Kit
  7. Suburban Bitches’ Floral Chandelier
  8. Pretty Providence’s Simple Elegant Thank You Cards
  9. The Sweet Escape’s Wedding Cake Topper
  10. That Girl Katie’s Floral Vases
  11. Sew Creative’s Flower Girl Barrettes
  12. Simply Sadie Jane’s Flower Stamped Cake and Flower Party Hats

Also...

Cricut has just announced the second phase of the Cricut - I Made It! contest and this time they’re awarding one winner their own Make it Now™ project line to be sold in Cricut Design Space™!

To help create your line, Cricut will fly you to their headquarters in Salt Lake City to work side-by-side with their design team.  Then you and a guest will enjoy an all-expense paid stay at the Grand America Hotel – a luxury resort in Salt Lake City, home to the best skiing in the world.

The winner will be featured on Cricut.com and every time a Cricut user purchases your project, you’ll earn money. Cricut will even help with your publicity.

To enter the Cricut - I Made It! contest, all you need is a photo of an original project. You can upload up to five photos (which can be five individual projects or multiple photos of one project).

You have until September 30th to enter.  What are you waiting for? It’s time you Made It big! Head to cricut.com to enter today.