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.


  • 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!

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

DIY Housewarming Basket

My best friend, Danielle, recently moved out of her parents home and into her own townhouse. While I knew Danielle had stocked up on kitchen supplies and the like prior to moving in, I was unsure of anything she really needed. Therefore, instead of buying her one big housewarming gift, I decided to put together a basket of smaller home essentials. Many items of which would still be nice and useful even if she already had one.

Here’s the breakdown of the basket:

1. Decorative “Basket”

Instead of getting a traditional basket or storage container (which would be another great idea), I chose a decorative wire basket from And That!. The rose gold basket is a great item she could display on her coffee table and use to minimize clutter on it. I paid $4.99 for mine. Here is a small storage option from Target, that would also make a great base for a housewarming gift and could then be reused by the homeowner in a closet, bathroom, etc.

2. Kitchen Towels

Something I learned quickly as a new homeowner is that you can never have too many towels! I found these nice gray striped towels at Home Goods. The color is neutral, so she can use in pretty much any setting. Luckily, she had a gray-themed kitchen as well. Similar ones are available at William-Sonoma.

3. Candle

Since my friend is a teacher, I thought a “Snow Day” scented candle would be a cute and humorous choice. The scent was also light, which would appeal to a wide range of tastes. I found this item at TJMaxx.

4. Aromatherapy Hand Soap

Coming home after a long day is such a nice feeling. Like many, the first thing I do when I walk in the door is wash my hands. Therefore, I found a Stress-Relief Hand Soap at Bath and Body Works as a first step to relaxing after a long day. The dispenser would be perfect for any kitchen or bathroom setting.

5. Aloe Plant

Personally, I think it is so important to have house plants. And often, a plant is a common housewarming gift. Aloe has many uses, so I thought I would get Danielle one. It was a little difficult to track down one in winter, but I ended up getting the very last one that Home Depot had.

6. Quote Sign

I saw this little sign at Michaels Craft Store and just had to get it! The sign reads “HOME is the nicest word there is.” I thought it was perfect for a new homeowner or really any homeowner for that matter! Such a sign would also be super easy to make if there is a specific quote or words of wisdom you’d like to share (just print it out and frame).

7. A Mini Champagne Bottle

Moving or buying a home is a big undertaking and a big accomplishment. It is definitely worth celebrating. I personally am not a big alcohol drinker and my friend lives alone, so I got a mini Barefoot Pink Moscato Champagne bottle. A similar option should be available at a local wine or liquor store.

As a housewarming gift-getter or gift-giver, what would you add to my housewarming basket? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

15-Minute + $15 DIY Autumn Wreath

The previous owner of our home did not invest in exterior improvements within the past decade or so and in the months proceeding our purchase, even the lawn went uncut. As a result, the outside of our house needs a lot more than just maintenance.

Much of the work my fiancĂ© and I have done to the house and much of the budget we established up to this point have focused on the interior — refinishing the floors so we could move in, fixing the leaks in the bathroom walls, and moving the house’s stove from the basement to the kitchen. With Fall among us and several other projects needed to prepare the home for winter, improving the home’s exterior aesthetic will most likely not happen until 2018.

That being said, I find joy in little touches that make the house look lived in and cared for to the outside world. One of the recent projects I completed was to decorate a bit for Fall — pumpkins and mums line the front steps and a budget-friendly handmade wreath hangs on the door.

Below I share instructions for making your own autumn-themed wreath. Not only is the wreath quick to make, it won’t cost more than a few pumpkin spice lattes!


– Wreath

– One bunch of large fabric flowers

– One bunch of small fabric flowers

– Hot Glue Gun and extra glue sticks

On the price of materials: I purchased a 14-inch Ashland wreath from my local Michaels store. Originally, the price was $4.99 but one of the great things about Michaels Craft Store is a coupon is almost always available. With my 25% off coupon, I paid $3.74. Having used my own glue gun, my total cost of materials from Michaels was less than $15.

You’ll notice in the photo, I have ribbon. Should you not have a wreath hanger that fits over your door, you can always use a little ribbon and a nail to hand your wreath. A deep red ribbon like the one shown would look great with the color scheme I used!

I ended up having enough left over flowers that I purchased another Ashland wreath and made a second wreath for my mom.

Step 1: Pull the flowers and leaves off the stems. Heat up your glue gun.

Step 2: Find an arrangement you like. I think this is the most time-consuming part. I like to take a photo of my flowers arranged a few different ways and compare the photos before deciding on the arrangement I will glue down.

Step 3: Glue down the leaves first, then the bigger flowers, and the smaller flowers last.

Step 4: Add extra glue to any loose flowers and remove any hot glue “cobwebs” like those pictured below.


Placement of Glue: I tried placing the glue on the wreath first and also placing the glue on the back of the flowers. I thought it was best to put the glue directly on the wreath. It helped me be more accurate in where I wanted to place the flowers and helped them stay better.

Mistakes: Mistakes happen. Whenever I didn’t like the placement of a flower, I gently pulled it off and glued it down again.

Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!

Feel free to comment with any questions you may have or to tag me in your finished photos on instagram (@homesweetgomez). I can’t wait to see them!