Decorative Letters

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Throughout our college careers (as is the norm for most college students), we’ve constantly been on the move — in and out of dorms, sorority houses, apartments. Each new school year comes with a new place and new people to call home. While definitely exciting as each place will inevitably bring new memories with our friends at school, it makes it a little harder to create that “home away from home” feeling.

When we moved into Towngirls (the 4-girl room in our sorority) together sophomore year, we decided to make a little housewarming gift for our roommates to brighten up the standard white walls and grey carpets of our room and make the place feel a bit more lived-in. Since then, it has been a tradition to begin each school year with this housewarming gift for our new roommates.

This craft is unbelievably easy to make (you’ll be surprised) and can be tailored to each person’s favorite color, pattern, etc. These letters make the perfect housewarming, birthday, holiday gift for friends and family — really, it’s great for any occasion!


Materials:

  • Cardboard letters (we got ours on Amazon, here)
  • Acrylic paint/paintbrush (you can also use spray paint)
  • Decorative paper (we got ours at the Paper Source, here)
  • Modge podge
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

After carefully peeling off all the price stickers from the cardboard (you want to begin with as smooth a surface as possible), we began to paint the letters completely. Two layers ensured a rich paint color. Let dry completely before moving on!

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Next, we flipped the letter upside-down and traced onto the matching decorative paper with a pencil. It’s really important to make sure you are tracing the letter backwards onto the back side of the paper — we don’t want to pull a Karen from Mean Girls!!

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Then, carefully cut out with scissors. Make sure to stay as close to the pencil line as possible so that the paper lines up with the letter so there is no excess or shortage.

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Finally, we painted Modge podge onto the front side of the letter so we could attach the decorative paper. Carefully lay the paper onto the Modge podged surface so that there are no wrinkles. Press down firmly to secure.

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Now you’re ready to keep ’em, gift ’em, hang ’em on a wall – whatever your heart desires!

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Happy Modge Podge-ing!

– Kirby and Michelle

DIY Twine Bowl

twinebowl-6-of-12When we first lived together sophomore year of college, our sorority made us choose a theme for our bedroom. Yes, you read that right. And to be completely honest, we were pretty psyched. Remember those home improvement shows for kids where they went all out on the themed rooms? Well that’s what it felt like. After much deliberation (and accepting that a Harry Potter theme probably wouldn’t fly in the sorority house), we chose “country rustic”. We’re still not quite sure what that means other than we probably spent too much time looking at Pinterest weddings.

Anyways, to make this story somewhat relevant, this craft made us giggle because it’s very “country rustic”. If you put twine on anything you can call it rustic, but make a bowl out of it and use it to hold your farm fresh eggs, and now you’ve got country rustic.

But really, this craft is so simple (it’s only made of two materials!) and is a beautiful addition to a kitchen table when filled with fruit.


Materials:

  • Twine
  • Two bottles of Elmer’s school glue
  • Water
  • Two bowls (on for the glue and one for a mold)
  • Plastic wrap

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Pour 1 1/2 cups or so of water in your bowl and mix in both bottles of glue. Stir the mixture together until well incorporated.

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Unravel as much twine as you can and soak it in the glue.

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While the glue soaks, turn your bowl “mold” upside down and cover it with plastic wrap. You don’t have you use plastic wrap but it makes for easy clean up!

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Now wrap your glue-soaked twine around the bowl over and over again until there are a few layers of twine. The more you do this, the stronger the bowl will be. If you want to, you can be strategic with how you wrap it – you can make pretty loops or be very precise so that it is all really even. We opted for a more rustic feel, because you know, that was our theme. One you finish, patiently wait for the glue to dry. You want to wait at least 24 hours. The twine should be rock hard.

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Gently peel off the plastic wrap and any pieces of glue that are still stuck to the bowl.

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It makes for a great hat!

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Just kidding. Fill it with fresh fruit or whatever pleases you – because your bowl is ready to go!

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Happy glü-ing!

-Kirby and Michelle

 

DIY Cactus Rock Garden

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I am all on board the succulent train. I have one on my desk, I have one on my bedside table, and I’ve managed to convince both of my parents to plant them in their gardens. They make me smile when I see them along the walls of trendy L.A. coffee shops, and I must talk myself out of buying more whenever I pass the aisle at Home Depot. You get it, I like succulents.

So this past weekend when I went over to my friend Evie’s house and saw her homemade cactus rock garden, I got very VERY excited and she kindly showed me how she made it. This craft is perfect for kids, but also perfect for 22 year olds like myself. There is something about the smooth weight of the rocks and the way you can move them around in the sand/gravel that is so therapeutic – kind of like those zen sand trays. I could rake that sand for hours.

It’s a super cute addition to a book shelf or a coffee table, and the best part is we didn’t spend a penny to make it. This craft makes me smile. So thanks Evie, you’ve brought much happiness into my week.


Materials:

  • Smooth, somewhat flat rocks (we went hunting in the neighborhood)
  • A container (we used a recycled tomato can)
  • Sand or small pebbles (we used aquarium gravel)
  • Various shades of green paint
  • A sharpie
  • A glue gun
  • Pink embroidery thread
  • A fork
  • Scissors

First pick your rocks. You want to test them out with your container so that they aren’t so big that they fall out, but also aren’t so small that they look disproportionate. We used a large tomato can, but this craft could be done in any sort of container! Evie’s original was in a cute homemade box, and my next go at this will be in a wide but shallow ceramic pot so that I can use a lot more rocks.

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Fill your container just below the rim with gravel or sand.

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Mix your various shades of green. We did a different shade for each rock (and ended up omitting the neon green rock).

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Now patiently paint your rocks. I say patiently because you must do at least two coats and you have to do both sides. It takes forever and is pretty boring. It’s like watching paint dry. hehe.

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But the wait is worth it because now you have beautiful green stones. I loved them so much like this I was tempted to just leave them so that I could just look at them and hold them from time to time.

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We used a small stone and a big stone painted the same shade to make a cactus with a branch (that sounds wrong… is there a better word for that?). We simply glued it on with hot glue.

At this stage Evie turned to me and said “now  just make your pom pom.” Like I know how to make miniature pom poms… does anyone just know how to do that? Needless to say, I had her very carefully walk me through it and to be honest, it’s quite easy and now I can confidently make mini pom poms.

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So here are the secrets. Get a cute tiny fork with a cool swirly handle (or probably just a normal fork), and wrap your thread around it until it forms a thick bundle. Next, gently weave the end of the thread through the fork tongs underneath your “bundle”. Pull it through and tie it into a tight knot around the bundle. It should look like a oddly shaped bowtie. Remove it from the fork and cut both sides of the “bowtie”. Use your fingers to spread apart the threads and voila! you’ve got a little poof.

 

Glue your pom pom to the top of one of the rocks.

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Use a sharpie with a fine tip to draw on the thorns. We used a variety of patterns to depict them, including stripes, crosses, “v”s, and little lines that look like sprinkles.

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Now you can arrange your rocks however you would like in your little garden. And then you can rearrange them when you get bored. And then do it again. That’s the beautify of this sweet little craft.

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Happy “gardening”!

 

-Kirby

Wooden UCLA Sign

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This is a really exciting time of year to be a UCLA Bruin with the Men’s Basketball team ranked *3rd* in the NCAA. Woohoo!!! Although, to be honest, is there ever a time we’re not trying to show off our Bruin pride? No. As we’re both graduating early and in our final quarter of school (aaah!!!), we’re trying to make the most of our time here – taking advantage of our Den passes to watch the Men’s Basketball team dominate in Pauley Pavilion, enjoying the 70˚F “winters” on campus by Janss Steps, and spending every night with friends who will soon be going their separate ways.

We decided to step up our school spirit a bit with these wooden, distressed UCLA signs. It’s a perfect way to decorate a college apartment and sturdy enough to last forever once you become an alumni. While we’re obviously partial to UCLA, this craft can be tweaked to represent any school/team you desire…even that school across town. 😉


Materials:

  • One 4 x 2 (we used Pine wood)
  • Sand paper
  • Wood stain and rag
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Acrylic paint: white, blue, and gold (yellow)
  • Water
  • UCLA cutout
  • Pencil
  • Paintbrushes
  • Sawtooth picture hangers or command strips to hang

Locate a piece of wood that allows you enough space to decorate to your liking. We opted to cut a 4×2 into four equal-length pieces which we glued together because it adds a little extra texture and character to the final product. Sand down so that the edges are smooth before staining.

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Once you’re happy with the surfaces of the wood, wipe it down with a wet rag to remove leftover wood shavings. Now you are ready to stain it! To get the color the correct richness, it usually takes three layers. Rub it on the wood with a rag and let it dry for 15 minutes. Then, rub off the excess stain with a damp rag and let the leftover stain dry for three hours. Repeat three times for best results.

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After the wood has been stained and dried, sand down the pieces. This wears down the wood and stain a little bit to create a more distressed, vintage look.

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Next, mix the white acrylic paint with water. Our mixture was one-part water, one-part paint – feel free to play around with your own mixture depending on how distressed you want your final product to be (the larger the ratio of water to paint, the more diluted the mixture will be). Once the mixture is to your liking, rub onto the wood with a rag. Let dry.

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With wood glue, glue each of the pieces together on the long end. Hold pieces together with a clamp while drying so that they are secured and will not come apart with time.

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Once all the wood pieces are secured to each other, carefully trace your UCLA cutout onto the wood with a pencil. We taped the cutout to the wood in some places to make the tracing process easier.

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Paint inside the lines of your UCLA tracing with yellow paint. For better results, we painted three layers of yellow onto the wood. The more opaque the yellow paint is, 1) the better it looks against the wood and 2) the fewer number of layers you will need of blue paint on top! Let dry.

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Next, trace the inner part of the UCLA logo on the wood. You can print a shrunken-version of the original cutout to trace or estimate depending on what you are most comfortable with. Paint within these new lines with blue paint. We painted three layers to really ensure there were no spots of yellow shining through.

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From here, you have a few options to hang the sign on the wall. You can install sawtooth picture hangers (like these here) onto the board and secure on the wall with nails. This is the sturdiest option. Because of our college living arrangements we were unable to nail into the walls. Instead, we used command strips.

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Now you’re ready to hang your work and show off your school spirit!

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We chose to hang ours above another craft that showcases some of our favorite UCLA memories. It’s a simple craft that involves many of the same steps as the UCLA sign. Once the wood pieces are secured with wood glue, attach wire to it with small screw eye bolts (like these). Then, hang pictures from the wire with small clothespins.

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Go Bruins!

– Kirby and Michelle