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

Fall Leaf Gift Tags

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Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year. Kickstarting the holiday season with my birthday, followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve, I’m rarely seen without a beaming smile on my face. When I was younger, admittedly, one of my favorite parts about this season had to do with gifts. I can still remember the uncontained excitement having just opened my Barbie Dream House at my 6th birthday. And whenever my parents left me alone with the Christmas tree I’d sneakily shake my gifts hoping to discover their contents.

As I’ve grown older, gifts have remained a major highlight in my holiday celebrations, but I’ve become more interested in giving them than receiving them. The act of searching for the perfect gift that will make someone smile or laugh is so fulfilling and I honestly get more excited watching others open gifts than I do opening my own.

Personalized wrapping is the best way to elevate gifts, making them even more special. These leaf gift tags are the perfect addition to any fall gifts, whether it’s tied onto a Thanksgiving hostess gift or attached to an October/November birthday present. My sister, Nicole, recently moved to Oakland with her boyfriend and these leaf tags were a nice touch to the housewarming gift I sent.


Materials:

  • Paper (I used red and brown cardstock, and white and gold striped wrapping paper)
  • Scissors
  • Gold leaf pen  (I swear by this one here)
  • Pencil/pen for tracing
  • A leaf to trace (you can print a cutout if you don’t have one)
  • Hole punch
  • Twine
  • Wrapping paper

Trace the leaf onto each of your pieces of paper, then carefully cut them out. I used three but feel free to add or remove layers depending on what you like. Stack the leaves and punch a hole near the stem.

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Add the gold details to the leaf cutouts. On the red leaf I painted half of it solid gold. Be generous with layers to avoid streaks. For the brown leaf I did a simple gold outline, which gives plenty of room to write a note for Nicole. I left the gold and white paper alone since it already had plenty of gold sparkles.

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Wrap your gift and tie with twine. Then stack the leaves once again and loop the twine through the holes before you complete the knot. I love the simple, rustic look of plain white giftwrap and twine, but the subtle sparkle and color in the leaves gives it a warm holiday feel.

 

Happy gifting!

 

-Michelle

Sorting Hat Cupcakes

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This week was Michelle’s 21st Birthday (woohoo!!) and we all celebrated like we were turning 21 again. We had some friends over for drinks and gifts before heading out to bars in Santa Monica.

As the biggest Harry Potter nerds you’ll meet, we used the occasion as an excuse to make a craft we’ve been excited about for ages. All of our guests bit into these sorting cupcakes to find out which Hogwarts house they belong to. As proud Hufflepuffs in our every day lives, we were reluctant to abandon our yellow for Slytherin, but it was fun to venture into the dark side for a night.

These cupcakes were so easy to make and were a huge hit amongst our friends. To make it even more fun we proceeded to play games throughout the night, scoring house points for our teams. It was a hilarious way to spend a night out with our girlfriends.

As busy college students on a budget, we have no shame admitting that we sometimes make our desserts from a box. These were done with Betty Crocker cake mix and vanilla frosting and were delicious. But, kudos to anyone who makes them from scratch! We’d love to see your versions.


Materials:

  • Cupcakes (1 box Betty Crocker vanilla cake)
  • Frosting (2 containers Betty Crocker vanilla frosting)
  • 5 large ziplock bags
  • A large star-shaped frosting tip
  • Scissors
  • Food coloring (red, yellow, blue, and green)
  • A sharp knife
  • Toothpicks
  • A printer & computer

Scoop 2/3 of the white icing into a piping bag (we use large ziplock bags and cut a small hole in the corner) with a star tip.

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Divide the remaining 1/3 of the icing into four separate bowls and dye them red, yellow, blue, and green. Red dye is particularly tricky to mix, and our secret is to dye it pink first before adding red. It requires less dye and is much faster. Then scoop the four colors into piping bags with normal round tips.

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Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a hole in the center of the cupcakes. Only cut 2/3 of the way into the cupcake, careful not to cut all the way through. Save the piece of cupcake that you remove. Divide the cupcakes into four groups for the four houses and pipe the icing into the holes, filling them half way. There should be an equal number of cupcakes for each house. Gently place the removed piece of cupcake back on top, concealing the icing beneath it.

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For decoration, create a template of Hogwarts crests (we used Microsoft Word), then print and cut them out. Glue them to toothpicks with a hot glue gun and set aside.

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Pipe the white icing onto the cupcakes. By now you should not be able to tell them apart. Insert the toothpick decorations into the cupcakes. Careful not to remove the toothpicks before taking a bite though, they will ruin the surprise!

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Happy sorting (and 21st birthday to Michelle)!