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The Ultimate Fall Bucket List

Here are the 20 activities that I am most excited about doing this Fall.

Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. Unfortunately, last year I was unable to enjoy many classic fall activities as I had undergone surgery on my ankle. Therefore, this year I am looking to make up for all I missed out on last October and November. Here’s my ultimate fall bucket list, which I will be checking off on the blog throughout the season.

 

  1. Bake a pie
  2. Make a DIY fall wreath
  3. Try the velvet fashion trend
  4. Go apple picking
  5. Carve pumpkins
  6. Host a fun Halloween for neighborhood kids
  7. Eat maple candy
  8. Go to a farmers market
  9. Go on a hike
  10. Enjoy the fall foliage
  11. Try the metallic beauty trend
  12. Get lost in a corn maze
  13. Visit a winery
  14. Plant for next spring
  15. Read a great book
  16. Make a dinner with buttersquash as an ingredient
  17. See a scary movie
  18. Invest in a comfortable pair of all-weather booties
  19. Visit the beach off-season
  20. Make caramel covered apples

What activities are you most excited about this Autumn? Comment below!

DIY Wedding Countdown

After seeing a “Days until” wood and chalk board sign at Michaels Craft Store this past weekend, I got on an “I-need-to-make-a-wedding-countdown” kick. At first, I looked to buy one, but my handwriting is not good enough to actually write the numbers out in chalk and I just didn’t understand the ones with the blocks (doesn’t a cube only have 6 sides?) My final concern was convertibility. I love the idea of having this for my wedding, but it would be great to reuse for birthdays, vacations and other special occasions as well.

Supplies

  • A pack of at least 20 gift tags – I chose mint
  • Number stickers – I chose white (you will need at least two sets of 0-9)
  • Special occasion stickers – I purchased wedding-themed ones
  • Photo frame (glass removed) – I found this 5in x 7in one at a local dollar store out of all places! It was complete coincidence how perfectly it matched the gift tags.
  • At least 2 hooks with screw backs – I chose straight gold ones but there are also silver and curved options below.
  • Masking tape or another easily-removable tape
  • Pen or pencil

All of the items I purchased for this project were on clearance (mint gift tags from Michaels), on sale (40% + an extra 20% off stickers from Michaels), or regularly under $2 (frame and hardware from a dollar store). Making the grand total for this project less than $10!

Step 1

Number hangtags from 0 to 9, with one number centered on each tag and making sure that the punched hole is above each number. Repeat until you have two sets of tags labeled from 0 to 9. If you are intending to count down more than 99 days, feel free to create a third set.

Step 2

Disassemble your frame. I flipped over the image my frame came with to reveal a clean white page to use as a background for my hangtags. I laid out two hangtags and marked where I wanted each to hang in the frame (aka where I would later insert the screws) with a pen. Please note, you will need to leave extra space above the hangtags for your occasion stickers.

Step 3

Next, I removed the hangtags and lined up the white sheet with the inside of the thick cardboard backing of the frame. Then I delicately taped the corners of the white sheet and backing together with (my favorite) chevron masking tape. The purpose of this is to make sure the two don’t become misaligned and the white sheet does not tear when you twist the screws through.

Step 4

I will admit, this took a little more effort than I thought, and I would have probably been better off making a tiny drill hole with a power tool, but nevertheless, I twisted each gold hook into the white paper and cardboard where I had previously marked. The screw portion of my hook just pierced the back of the frame (but not enough to cause any sharp edges). The screw portion of the hooks I purchased is about a half inch in length.

Step 5

Put the frame back together. I chose to keep the “mat” that came with the frame, as it was white on white, but feel free to discard if you like or don’t worry if yours did not come with one.

Step 6

Hang up your letters. Use the occasion stickers to “title” your countdown.

And voila! Let the countdown begin!

Feel free to replace “Wedding” sticker with “Vacation,” “Summer,” “My Birthday,” or any other occasion you can’t wait for!

Quick and Easy Valentine’s Day Banner

Looking for a last-minute Valentine’s Day craft? Whether it is a quick and easy project for your kids, students, or just yourself, this Valentine’s Day decor banner is the perfect!

Supplies

  • Banner Paper or Pad (Also feel free to cut your own banner pieces from construction or scrapbooking paper)
  • Alphabet Stickers
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Ribbon

I had clear tape, ribbon (I used 1/4 inch pink satin ribbon, but feel free to use thicker ribbon or a different color), and scissors at home. Since we recently painted our walls, I used removable masking tape to hang the banner to prevent any damage when the decoration was taken down. I purchased the pad on clearance at Michaels Craft Store and used a coupon on the letters – bringing my total out-of-pocket cost of this project to about $7.

Step 1

My pad has three different types of paper – polka dot, striped and solid. So first, I decided on the pattern I would like my banner pieces to follow. Then I tore each page I was using out of the pad. I was very impressed with how easily and cleanly they tore out!

Step 2

Choose your saying (and make sure you have the letters to complete it). I chose the words “I LOVE YOU.” Peel off each letter and place one letter on each triangular page. Leave a blank banner for space between each word.

Step 3

Lay out your saying banner. Then flip over each banner page. Leave yourself about 6-12 inches of ribbon to hang your banner with before taping the ribbon down to the wide end of each triangle. I placed 2 pieces of clear tape on each page – one on either side about a 1/4 inch from what would become the “top” of the banner page when it is hanging.

Step 4

Leave about a half inch between each piece of paper and continue taping the ribbon to the back of each banner page. Leave another 6-12 inches of ribbon before cutting the ribbon.

Step 5

Use masking tape to hang up and enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This Week’s Pet Project: Personalized Dog Toy Box

Even though my home needs a lot more work (for example, I have plywood instead of a counter on one side of my kitchen), I am trying not to focus on just the big projects. Therefore, this weekend, I took a trip to Michaels Craft Store to load up on picture frames (on sale, of course) and supplies for “little touches” around the home. My first project: personalizing my dog’s toy box.

I found this great wooden box during Fall Clearance at Michaels Craft Store and instantly knew it would make a great toy box to keep in my living room for my lab, Sandy. She’s fallen in love with it too — constantly emptying out her toy box all over the room!

I decided to liven it up a bit by adding Sandy’s name and a design underneath. As it was my first time using decor stencils and chalk paint, I definitely learned a few good tricks and a few things not to do along the way.

Supplies

  • Letter stencils
  • Design stencil (I chose one with an arrow to include under Sandy’s name)
  • Chalk Paint
  • Paint Sponge
  • Wooden Box
  • Masking Tape
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors

The box, masking tape, tweezers, and scissors I had at home. All other supplies I purchased from Michaels Craft Store.

Step 1

First, choose a letter and accent design that you like. For this project, I used two different types of stencils. The first one required the letters be peel off and the second just required the design be placed over the the destination.

Step 2

As mentioned, my letters were of the “peel and stick” variety. Since I wanted to minimize the space between the letters, I trimmed the sides, as shown below.

Step 3

Arrange letters how you would like them to appear. I used masking tape as a guide of how to center the letters as well as to hold them down once I peeled the backs off, as the adhesive on the letters was weak. The advantage of this though is that I was able to lift and arrange the letters several times before committing to a spacing.

Step 4

Use the sponge to gently dab paint over each letter. Once done, let dry.

Step 5

Peel off the masking tape and stencils. Here is where I made a beginners mistake — I let the paint dry too long or pressed down too hard and some of the blue stencil stuck to the white paint when I lifted the stencils. But picking off the sticky blue lines with tweezers was a quick fix!

Step 6

I repeated the same steps for the second stencil — an arrow which I placed under Sandy’s name. Since this stencil did not have an adhesive, I used masking tape to keep it in place while I painted.

Step 7

After removing the tape and the stencil, I cleaned up the edges a bit with a fresh, damp sponge brush and voila!

Easy Lettered Frame

Recently my sister adopted her first pet, a rescue puppy. While I bought (and made) all sorts of toys and goodies for the puppy, I wanted to give my sister a “Congratulations” gift as well. So I lettered a picture frame and inserted a photo of her new furry baby.

When my fiancé and I adopted a rescue lab last year, I made him a similar frame with her name, “Sandy,” spelled out. Especially since puppies grow so fast, it is fun to remember their first weeks with the family via a photo in a living room or on a desk.

The lettered frame is super easy to put together and the supplies I purchased to make it would have cost me less than $10 even if I had paid full price.

To make your own, follow the instructions below!

Supplies

  • Picture frame with a flat front
  • Wooden letters (I chose 3/4 in tall)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Tweezers
  • Masking tape or painter’s tape

Step 1

Find the letters you need! Because Daisy’s name is so short, I had plenty letters left over to make her another frame or to use on future craft projects.

Step 2 (optional)

Originally, I was going to paint the wooden letters black. But after laying everything out, I decided to apply them to the frame unfinished instead. Depending on the color of your frame and its recipient, feel free to decorate the letters however you like!

Step 3

Layout the letters along the bottom, center of the frame. Use a removable masking or painter’s tape to mark off where you want your letters to start and end. This way, when you pick up the letters to add glue, you still have a guide for spacing them.

Step 4

Pick up each letter individually and flip it backwards. Hold each letter so that you have a good grip on it but don’t risk burning yourself with the glue gun. Apply three or so small dots of glue to the back of each letter. Make sure that the dots are small enough that when pressed in they do not exceed the width of the letter, as you don’t want globs of glue showing on your final project.

Step 5

Quickly (before the glue hardens), but carefully, flip the letter, align it and press down so that the glue adheres the letter securely to the frame.

Step 6

Repeat for all letters. If you don’t press down fast enough, wait until the glue drys, peel it off and start Steps 4-5 again.

Step 7

Use tweezers to remove any glue “cobwebs.”

Step 8

Fill the frame with a photo and enjoy!

5-Minute DIY Holiday Wreath

This holiday season I was proud of myself for starting (and finishing) some holiday tasks early, but I was also disappointed for not giving myself as much time as I would have liked to spend on other tasks. One of the projects I waited to complete until the last minute was creating a wreath for my front door.

As a result, I designed a wreath that had all the elements I wanted but took only about 5 minutes to complete once I had all of my supplies.

Supplies

  • 18 inch wreath
  • Old Christmas ornaments
  • 2 bunches of seasonal stems
  • 1.5 inch wide red velvet ribbon or pre-made red bow
  • 1/4 inch red ribbon optional
  • Glue gun and glue sticks

All of the supplies other than the glue gun/glue sticks and the old Christmas ornaments, I purchased at Michaels Craft Store.

Step 1

Separate the branches of the seasonal stems. I found it easier to peel the sections apart as opposed to cutting them.

Step 2

Arrange the seasonal stems on your wreath.

Tip: Take a photo of your arrangement. That way, you can test out a few different arrangements, compare the photos, decide which you like best, and easily recreate it if needed.

Step 3

Add Christmas ornaments to the inner and outer sides of the wreath. Last year, I had a mini Christmas tree, for which I bought smaller ornaments. Now that I have a larger tree this year, I had no use for the smaller ornaments. Rather than discard of them, I keep them with my craft supplies should I need them for a DIY holiday decor project like this. I alternated between silver and gold balls.

Step 4

Once you are satisfied with your arrangement, use a glue gun to secure the seasonal stems and ornaments to the wreath. I picked up the branches, applied glue underneath them and repositioned the branches after to ensure no globs of glue were visible on my completed wreath.

Step 5

Use the velvet ribbon to tie a bow and to glue it to the top center of the wreath. I chose to use several pieces of ribbon to make my bow and secured them together with a 1/4 inch red ribbon. Feel free to also use the velvet ribbon to secure the bow or to use a pre-made bow to complete your wreath.

Step 6

Remove any glue webs.

Step 7

Hang up your wreath and enjoy!

DIY Pinecone Ornaments

This past weekend we finally got around to decorating our Christmas tree. While the tree is usually an assortment of miscellaneous ornaments, I wanted to have more consistency in the decor this year and a classic vibe. To achieve this goal, I made these simple handmade ornaments from pinecones.

Supplies

  • Medium-size pinecones
  • Red pre-made ribbons (I actually found these at a local dollar store! Feel free to vary color or make your own)
  • Pearl beads
  • Fishing wire or clear string
  • Scissors

I purchased the pinecones and beads from Michaels Craft Store. I had the clear string and scissors at home.

Step 1

Remove the twisty ties that hold together the pre-made bows.

Step 2

Cut a piece of clear string about 8 inches in length, string on a pearl, and tie the string in a knot around the bow where the twisty tie used to be.

Step 3

Adjust the pearl to be centered on front of bow.

Step 4

Secure bow to pinecone by tying clear string around center core of pinecone and knotting the string. Because my pinecones were small compared to the size of the bows I was using and because they were more round than long, I chose to tie the bows to the top of the pinecone as opposed to the bottom, which is most often seen (because it mimics how the pinecone would hang from the tree).

Step 5

Use remaining string to create a loop on which the ornament can hang from the branch of a Christmas tree. Make sure knot is tight before cutting off any excess string.

Repeat until you’re satisfied with the number of ornaments you make! I made around 20.

Cooking at Sur La Table

My mom is an excellent cook. For as long as I can remember, she feels at ease in the kitchen and is always challenging herself to learn new techniques and try new recipes. While I have always admired her passion for homemade meals, I sadly am inexperienced in the kitchen (except when it comes to baking).

Therefore, every few months, I like to treat my mom to a cooking class. It is a great opportunity for both of us to learn together, despite our different levels of expertise. While we have explored a number of cooking schools over the past couple of years, a favorite has become Sur La Table.

On Saturday, we took a Homemade Ravioli Workshop. The chef leading the class provided a booklet with instructions, a live demonstration, and answered all of the questions our small group had along the way. In this particular class, we made a smoked salmon ravioli with a vodka cream sauce and a sausage ravioli with a tomato sauce.

The class was two hours long with a short break in the middle. At the end of class, we sat down and enjoyed the ravioli we made. I was surprised to find that pasta dough and ravioli were a lot easier to make than I expected. It was great motivation for me to try new recipes, which I am excited to do for Thanksgiving next week.

While a full price classes can be expensive (this class was $69 per person), Sur La Table often has specials like half price classes.

Here are some photos from the class:

Rolling out the pasta dough was a process! All hands were on deck for this portion of the class.

We made both round and square ravioli. While the square ravioli may not be as pretty, it wasted a lot less dough.

The final product! First, salmon ravioli and below it the sausage. The salmon was definitely my favorite. At first, I felt like the salmon and vodka sauce seemed like an odd combination, but it was absolutely delicious! I can’t want to make the recipe for my fiancé!

Have you taken a class you love? Feel free to share in the comments.