Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

I’m so excited to share my Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes with you! We built the boxes a couple summers ago but this is the first year I’ve decked them out for Christmas.

It all started when I saw this garden flag at Lowe’s. You can’t see in this pic but “Team Nice” is on the back. Cute, right? I didn’t have a place in my yard that would show off both sides so I decided to buy two and use them as features in my window boxes. Of course they would require some modifications first. Here’s what I did.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

I started by shortening the stand so my flag would hang at the right height for the window box. I marked approximately where I wanted to cut.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Used a hacksaw to do the deed.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

And taped off the rough ends with electrical tape.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Then I was left with two pieces that looked like this.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

The last step was to put the two pieces back together with a few more strips of electrical tape. (I am a little worried about the tape holding up in the Chicago weather. I might go back to reinforce things with zip ties if I need to.)

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

With the stand finished it’s time to start filling the window boxes! Luckily I have neighbors on one side who let me cut branches from their evergreen tree and an abandoned house across the street where I can do some “volunteer pruning”.

Before I started putting in my live greens I lined the top of the boxes with this super cheap, super fake-looking artificial garland. This serves as a filler to hide any gaps or holes in my finished arrangement. Then I put in the flag – on it’s new, shortened stand.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

The next two layers are branches that hang over and spill down the front of the boxes. (Wish I knew enough to tell you what kind of tree these come from. Anyone?)

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

To hold everything in place I used these wood picks I bought at Michael’s.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

They come with floral wire already attached so all you have to do is wrap the other end around your branch and stake it in the dirt.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

After two layers of draping greens I added just a few straight, non-hanging branches for some height in the top of the box. These metal landscaping pins came in handy for this step.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

You might have noticed some tiny lights in the last photo. They’re actually part of a garland Josh bought at an after Christmas clearance sale last year. They aren’t super bright but they do add a sweet twinkle to all that green so I layered them on top, pushing them toward the front so they could be seen from the street.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Almost done! After walking out in the yard (in the rain) a dozen times to see how things were looking I decided to add a pop of color. I used ornaments because they’re cheap and easy to find. I attached them using the same wood picks as before.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

And with that last touch of color- they’re done!

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

I should point out that I had a third window box to fill. I used the exact same greenery, lighted garland, and ornaments but added a Santa hat in place of the flag. It’s held in place with more wood picks/floral wire that I simply threaded through safety pins.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

naughty and nice collage

I’m so far behind with my holiday decorating that I almost didn’t do this project at all. I’m really glad I did though. It makes a big impact and looks so cozy when I pull up to the house every day.

Do you have all your decorating done? All your presents bought? I’ve started but I’m soooo far from done.

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Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

ALTERNATE TITLE: Holy Crap It’s December 1 and I Haven’t Made My Advent Calendar Yet!

A more organized, on-the-ball blogger would have shared this project a couple weeks ago. But the truth is, I just put it together this morning in a fit of last-minute panic. I was inspired by this idea I saw last year and decided better late than not at all.

The most appealing part of this calendar is it uses things I already had around the house – perfect for a procrastinator like me. First, an over-the-door shoe organizer, which was holding a bunch of random junk.

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Next, some paper treat bags I had in my stash. If you don’t have these you can easily cut holiday wrapping paper or scrapbooking paper down to size. (These aren’t the exact ones I used but you get the idea.)

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Grab some old-fashioned clothespins (or tape if you don’t have any), tissue paper, and your advent gifts, and you’re ready to put it together. (TIP: You don’t have to have all your gifts ready on December 1. I usually buy things throughout the month and add them as I go.)

Oh, I almost forgot my favorite part! These FREE advent countdown tags from SimpleAsThatBlog.com. They’re absolutely adorable and Rebecca has done all the work so all we have to do is download, print, and cut. Thank you Rebecca!

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Assembly is pretty self-explanatory. The treat bags or wrapping paper serve as a decorative front in each pocket. Then the advent gifts are wrapped in the tissue and placed in next. Lastly, the clothespin holds your tag in place. (I added a piece of washi tape to mine – couldn’t resist a red chevron.) And you’re done!

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

I’m really happy with how it turned out. And the best news is both of my girls came home from school today and said, “I love it!”

DIY Painted Mugs That Won’t Wash Away

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

You’ve all heard or read how to draw your own designs on a coffee cup then bake it in the oven to make it permanent. And half of you have probably tried it only to see your beautiful masterpiece wash down the drain – literally – even though you followed all the directions, used an oil-based marker, and gently hand washed the darn thing.

Well I have the secret solution just in time for the Christmas gift-making season – these magical glass markers from DecoArt!

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

 

I know they don’t look like anything different but I promise they work miracles. I bought mine at Michael’s but you can find them at most craft supply stores or online.

I won’t bore you with a “draw-n-bake” tutorial since they’re all over the internet (this is one of my favorites although I don’t know anything about the markers they use) but I do want to share some tips I discovered when working on these mugs for a client. (My first custom project! Go me!)

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

TESTING

First things first. If you’ve been burned on a DIY marker mug before you might be a bit gun-shy to try another. I get it. I was too. I recommend doing a test draw then. Turn your mug upside-down and make a mark on the bottom. I wrote the year. Then bake it and wash it. Once you’re sure it’s really going to be permanent you can get down to serious creative business.

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

ERASING

Before you start drawing gather up a few items from around the house. These supplies, along with some warm soapy water for drastic cases, are your “erasers”.

  • rubbing alcohol
  • cotton balls
  • cotton swabs
  • paper towels (I cut mine into little squares so they’re easier to work with.)

Let’s say you’re writing “Merry Christmas Uncle Joe” on you mug and you accidentally end up with “Uncle Joo”. No worries. Simply dip a cotton swab in the rubbing alcohol and carefully wipe away the mistake. It may smear the ink and seem a mess at first but that’s ok. Just keep dipping and wiping until your mistake and any smears or haze are gone. Let it dry, then grab your marker and try again.

You can use the cotton balls and paper towels the same way. It all depends on the size and detail of your mistake.

What if you totally screw up and think it’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen? Just go to the sink and scrub your mug with warm soapy water. Voila! You’re back at square one with a new blank slate.

WAITING

So you’ve finished your masterpiece and now you’re itching to pop it in the oven and make it permanent. WAIT! The ink needs to cure for at least eight hours first. Set it aside, go to work, run your errands, drink a few pots of coffee – whatever you need to do – then come back and get your bake on.

BAKING

There are a few baking rules which are all printed on the back of the marker for easy reference.
1. Don’t preheat your oven. Put your piece in first then turn on the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Set your timer for 40 minutes AFTER the oven has come to temperature, not when you put the mug in.
3. Don’t take your mug out when the timer goes off. Instead, turn off the oven and open the door. Let the mug cool as the oven cools.

Again, all this info is on the back of the pen in case you forget. So convenient.

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

I hope you decide to give these markers a try. I’m so happy to finally find something that works although I will admit I haven’t tested any pieces in the dishwasher yet. I’m content to wash mine by hand just to be safe. I’m planning to try some plates next then glass canisters. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget

Welcome to Day Four of “Five Days of Fall”. Instead of my usual one post this week I’m writing five, each with a different fall-themed idea. Nothing fancy, just some simple, inexpensive ways I cozy things up around here when the leaves start to turn.

Today I’m sharing my itty, bitty, teeny, tiny Autumn Entry. The only thing smaller than this space is my budget for decorating it so I had to get creative.

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

In the end I only spent $2.50 for that little white pumpkin. Everything else I found around the house. (Are you noticing a theme in my decorating style? Maybe I should rename the blog “usingthecrapihave.com”)

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

For example, that orange and white chevron? That’s actually a scarf I pillaged from my closet. And the driftwood branch? It used to be in our lizard tank. Oh and my favorite part is the photo. We took it when Baby Girl was in kindergarten and we were making an alphabet book together – A is for acorn. I love seeing her pudgy little fingers and remembering how much fun we had walking the neighborhood searching for things that started with the letter A.

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

The pedestal is actually a thrift shop wine glass and platter that I glued together. It floats from room to room depending on what random thing I decide to use it for. I topped it with a few fake leaves for more color, added my splurge of a pumpkin, and called it done.

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

Simple but sweet. And cheap. Can’t ask for more than that.

Catch up on days one through three here:
Day One: Fall-Inspired Bookshelf
Day Two: Fall-Themed Chalkboard
Day Three: Pumpkin Flavored Bagel Schmear & Apple Dip

Pumpkin Flavored Bagel Schmear & Apple Dip

Welcome to Day Three of “Five Days of Fall”. Instead of my usual one post this week I’m writing five, each with a different fall-themed idea. Nothing fancy, just some simple, inexpensive ways I cozy things up around here when the leaves start to turn.

Today I’m jumping on the pumpkin-flavored bandwagon with a recipe that does double duty as a bagel schmear and an apple dip. (Note: I did not create this recipe. It’s from a 2004 edition of Cooking Light magazine.)

Pumpkin Flavored Bagel Schmear & Apple Dip |laughingabi.com

This is one of the easiest things you’ll make this season. If you can use an electric mixer you can do this.

Pumpkin Flavored Bagel Schmear & Apple Dip

  • 6 ounces lo-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Mix cream cheese, brown sugar, and pumpkin with electric mixer until well blended.
  2. Add maple syrup and cinnamon. Beat until smooth.
  3. Chill for 30 minutes and serve.

Pumpkin Flavored Bagel Schmear & Apple Dip |laughingabi.com

Pumpkin Flavored Bagel Schmear & Apple Dip |laughingabi.com

You have to try this one. I promise it’s the perfect balance of sweet and creamy and fall flavors. Mmmmmm. I hope you love it as much as we do.

If you missed Day One and Two you can find them here.
Day One: Fall-Inspired Bookshelf
Day Two: Fall-Themed Chalkboard

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard

Welcome to Day Two of “Five Days of Fall”. Instead of my usual one post this week I’m writing five, each with a different fall-themed idea. Nothing fancy, just some simple, inexpensive ways I cozy things up around here when the leaves start to turn. Today we’re talking chalkboards.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

If you’ve been here for a while you probably recognize this chalkboard that hangs right inside my front door. Last October it looked like this.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

But this year I wanted to go with a Fall theme, something I could leave up through Thanksgiving. I was searching for inspiration one day and spotted this on Instagram.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

Super fun and super simple. Perfect for us.

After experimenting with different fonts and sizes I came up with a layout I liked then used this method to transfer it to the chalkboard.

NEW TIP! Did you know you can sharpen chalk with a pencil sharpener? True story. Find one of those cheap little sharpeners with two holes (you’ll use the oversized one) and give it a try. You won’t believe how much easier it is to draw with.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

I added some freehand swirlys and leaves to fill things in and it was done.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

I’m really happy with how it turned out and I love the playful message. I almost changed it to “get off the computer, put down the phone, and go jump in the fling-flanging leaves” but it wouldn’t fit.

(My apologies to those of you who were expecting something pumpkin flavored today. I had it all ready but then my photos turned out kind of suckish so I’m going to try again. I promise it’s coming soon.)

If you missed Day One you can find it here.
Day One: Fall-Inspired Bookshelf

My Fall Mantle 2014

I didn’t think I would ever get in the groove but Fall decorating is finally happening at our house!

The name of the game this year is simple and cheap (a recurring theme around here) and the most obvious place to start was the new fireplace.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

I’m proud to report I only spent $6 on this year’s mantle. Everything you see except the cornstalks was in my prop closet (aka the basement bedroom I took over for storing all my pretties). And if I were a patient woman I could have gotten the corn for free from a local farmer but obviously I’m not. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So first let’s talk about my inspiration. Check out this perfectly simple Pallet Wall Art from Allison over at The Golden Sycamore.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

I fell in love with it the minute I pinned it and knew I wanted to recreate the same clean, modern-rustic feel for my mantle. I already had the DIY wood backdrop so it was time to start layering some Fall on top of it.

Hanging wall vases and corn stalks. (The vases were a gift from my cousin but the labels say Home Interiors if you’re looking for a set.)

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

A wreath that’s survived years and years of use and a yellow garland for one more pop of color against the dark wood.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

And letters printed and cut out of cream colored scrapbooking paper.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

That’s it. Super simple. Super cheap. My kind of project.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

Are you decorating for Fall? I feel like I’m the last one to start but the good news is I’m really on a roll now. I have a new Fall chalkboard and an updated bookshelf to share next week. And maybe some window boxes too. Until then I’m raising my Pumpkin Spice Latte to you  – cheers!

Fall And Halloween Idea Galleries

Creative blogger confession: I’m not feeling it people.

Halloween is just over a month away. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are steaming on every corner. And the trees in my yard are turning shades of red and yellow. But I cannot seem to get into the Fall decorating groove.

Normally I would go on a Pinterest binge, searching for inspiration. But instead I decided to take a look back at my own blog and check out some of the decorating ideas I’ve shared in the past. Here’s what I discovered: my holiday posts are an unorganized mess! How can I expect you lovelies to see my ideas if you can’t find them?

Fortunately the solution was easy. I created a Halloween and a Fall/Thanksgiving idea gallery! Hover over any thumbnail image to see the title and click on it to read the original post. I also created a “PROJECT GALLERY” link in the menu bar at the top of the page so you can get there without having to find this post again.

HALLOWEEN

Previous

THANKSGVING/FALL

Previous

Some of the oldest ideas are still my favorites like this witch toasting her favorite holiday with a martini . . .

Fall And Halloween Idea Galleries | laughingabi.com. . . and this wicked Halloween chalkboard.

Fall And Halloween Idea Galleries | laughingabi.com

I’m including this screen shot so there will be an image of the gallery if you’re trying to add it to your Pinterest board.

Fall And Halloween Idea Galleries | laughingabi.com

Oh, I also set up a Christmas/Holiday gallery so when you find yourself humming Jingle Bells you can go check that out.

I hope this makes it easier to find inspiration when you need it. Take a look and let me know what you think. I always love hearing from you guys.

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine’s Day Decorations

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

Today I’m sharing a few last minute Valentine’s Day decorating ideas from my entry – in case you’re a last minute kind of gal like me.

Of course I started with my favorite chalkboard. (Here’s how it looked last time you saw it.) I love this simple message for any family and friends who walk through my front door.

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

Next, a few things I “shopped” from around the house. The love bird plate is one from my collection. The vase, a thrift shop score, is filled with paper flowers from my sister-in-law’s wedding. And I stole the candle from another room because I wanted a pop of red.

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

And since I live in Chicagoland I thought it would be appropriate to decorate with some winter gear. (#chicagowinterfromhell) I pieced together some plain black boots and this fleece shirt from a local thrift store.

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

A few snips and a handful of straight pins transformed them into this.

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

A side note: I searched and searched for boots like these during the holidays. I wanted to make something like THIS. I never found them (for less than $20) so I moved on. Then a few weeks after Christmas my neighbor stopped by and handed these to me. “Someone gave them to me but they don’t fit. Can you wear them?” Really?! I don’t even know what else to say about that.

The pink boots are just a pair I found in my kid’s closet. They were too small so I claimed them.

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

That’s it for my Valentine’s decor. Super cheap. Super simple. Super sweet.

Simple, Sweet, Last Minute Valentine's Day Decorations | laughingabi.com

Do you decorate for Valentine’s Day? Or are you still trying to get the Christmas boxes back up in the attic?

My Christmas Mantle

My Christmas Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Christmas Mantle | laughingabi.com

I am in love with my Christmas mantle.
In. Love.

When I started planning it I had four goals in mind.
1. Add texture.
2. Add dark color to tie in with our dark brown leather sofa.
3. Add pops of red, my favorite accent color.
4. Find a way to marry rustic and modern.

My Christmas Mantle | laughingabi.com

1. Check.
2. Check.
3. Check.
4. Check.

The weathered wood backdrop was inspired by this photo from Kim at Too Much Time On My Hands. I searched and searched for some old fencing but couldn’t find anything that had the look I wanted.

So I made my own. (I promise a separate post with all the details soon. It’s so easy and so cheap!)

Then I went on the hunt for a white, modern deer head to mount on my new/old fencing. Once again, I couldn’t find what I was looking for, at least not for less than $100.

So I made my own. (You guessed it, a tutorial is coming your way.)

My Christmas Mantle | laughingabi.com

Obviously this isn’t a ceramic or even paper mache deer head like in my inspiration photo. At first I was pretty disappointed that I had to settle for a different version but turns out I actually like it better because it lets me add some color.

The teal color is leftover paint from an accent wall in the room and the red is . . . well the red is just because I love it. Oh, and this photo is where I got the idea.

My Christmas Mantle | laughingabi.com

You may recognize the gold frame from my 12 Days Of Easy Christmas Decorating series. It’s something I picked up years ago at a garage sale and constantly shuffle around the house when I get these strokes of genius.

And that red poinsettia tree? You’re not going to believe this. I found it at a holiday craft show for $6. I don’t know if the woman was trying to get rid of stuff or just not good at math but I very quickly paid her and scurried away with my treasure.

The bells, candles, and greenery are all from the boxes and boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations we have stashed in the attic. The bells have always been one of my favorites. I’m so glad they found their way to the mantle this year.

Here’s a few more pics.

My Christmas Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Christmas Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Christmas Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Christmas Mantle | laughingabi.com

What did you do with your mantle this year? Something new? Or do you have a mantle “tradition”?