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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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

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

Easy Spring Porch Decorations

Easy Spring Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

I’m a little behind this year (just like Mother Nature it seems) but my front porch is finally ready for spring. As usual I kept things simple, opting for a few hot pops of color rather than a big collection of flowers and “stuff”.

I started with the same rug I painted last spring. You can see it’s faded a bit over the winter but other than that it’s in great shape. No holes or snags or frays. I think this summer I may tape the stripes off again and hit it with a can of black spray paint just to give it a face lift.

I used a chair again like last spring but instead of stealing it from the back porch I used a roadside redo this time . More on it’s transformation in another post but for now behold it’s newly-found beauty.

Easy Spring Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

And that popping pillow? I made it with a bit of outdoor fabric I scored at Jo-Ann’s for 50% off. (I bought a full yard so you’ll probably see it in some other projects soon.) Oh, and thanks to Josh, it will never blow away in the Chicago wind. He had the great idea to add these ties to the back. That’s why I love him.

Easy Spring Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

The colors in the pillow inspired me to buy these red and yellow flowers from Lowe’s which I transplanted into a pot I use every year.

Easy Spring Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

Then I finished up this side of the porch with my favorite cement flower pot and a little plant I can never remember the name of. Is it Creeping Jenny or something like that? Anyone? Bueller?

Easy Spring Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

The other side of the porch has to stay small and simple or people can’t get in the door. So I picked up a big hanging basket, cut off the hanger, and put it on a plant stand. Done.

Easy Spring Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

And that’s it. No muss, no fuss. Just some bright, cheery color and a place to sit and have a drink. What else do you need for spring?

Easy Spring Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

Easy Spring Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

Just as a tease, here’s my next project in the front yard. Can’t wait until it stops raining so I can get started.

Easy Spring Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

What are you getting ready for spring? Any pops of color or roadside redos?

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations

Last week I shared my finished fireplace and mantel and gave you a sneak peek at my spring mantel decorations. Today I’m showing you how I put them all together.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Before we talk birds and flowers we should revisit the aged wood background that everything is hanging on. I made it HERE for about $20 and I love the texture it adds to the room. It seems to be the perfect backdrop, no matter what season it is.

Now for some flowers. Bright yellow Forsythia leaves scream spring so I hit Michael’s during a 50% off sale and grabbed a handful of “fakeys” and a grapevine wreath. All-together I spent $17.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

This is the part where I admit I totally faked it. I have no idea how you’re supposed to make a wreath. All I did was cut off the sprigs with a pair of pliers, jabbed them into the grapevine, and wrapped some floral wire around it in random spots. Does that count as a tutorial? Maybe? No? Either way, I’m happy with how it turned out.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Oh, and as for those empty mason jars, I have a plan for those. How perfect will THIS be in them? I can’t wait to try it. I’ll be sure to post an update.

The gold cage and birds were the most challenging part of this project but they’re also my favorite things on the mantel. I started with a plain artist’s canvas from the craft store. (I had one on hand but you can pick them up at Michael’s or JoAnn’s.) A coat of primer and two coats of Clark + Kensington Blue Jolt paint and it was ready for a cage.

I wish I could offer a stencil or pattern or something but I found THIS clip art online and just sketched it out one night while my daughter was at swim practice. (Sorry for the fuzzy iphone pic.)

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Once my sketch was done I used a gold paint pen to trace the lines and my favorite gold leaf paint from THIS project to fill in the bigger areas. Voila!

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Up next – birds. Here’s how I made them:
1. I started with THIS clip art and enlarged it on my monitor to the size I wanted.
2. I taped a piece of paper to my screen and oh-so-delicately traced the outline.
3. I cut out the bird and then used it as a template to trace the same shape onto a piece of heavy cardstock. This would ensure it was stable enough to stand up to paint.
4. I cut out the cardstock bird and painted it with the same gold leaf paint I used on the cage.

Obviously I did this twice, making the second bird smaller.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Did you notice how the bigger bird is layered in front of the canvas? I tried to give him some depth by gluing a piece of folded cardstock to his back so it created a tab that sticks out perpendicular to the body. I slid that tab between two of the wooden slats and it created the “flying” bird effect. This might have been Josh’s idea but he can never prove it.

The last element was the easiest. A simple frame, a coat of cheery coral paint, and a scrap of fabric leftover from THIS project.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Add a gnome candle and an an awkwardly empty vase which I promise to fill it as soon as something blooms around here, and you’ve got a mantel all ready for spring. (You’ll see some votive candles standing in for the mason jars in some of these pics.)

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.comI love the bright colors and the look of spring when I walk in the door even though my furnace has been running all day. Sigh.

What are you decorating for spring? Any birds or flowers made their way into your house? Any bright pops of spring color?

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?

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

THE GOOD NEWS: This project went together in about ten minutes and cost me $0.

THE BAD NEWS: I have no idea how I did it.

I honestly just grabbed some ribbon from my stash and started cutting and tying and looping it together. The frame and greenery/pine cone are held on with hot glue and duct tape – because that’s how I roll.

So if you’re looking for a tutorial, I’m sorry. This is more of an “idea” post.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

My inspiration came from another blog called Nell Hill’s Blog. Her version is much fancier than mine but the concept is the same.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

I filled the frame with a picture of my daughter but you could use your favorite Christmas wrapping paper or a monogram for the person staying in that room over the holiday. Or you could skip the frame altogether an use an ornament instead.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

Another idea from Nell Hill’s Blog is to hang small stockings filled with goodies on each of the doors so when your guests arrive there’s a treat waiting for them. How sweet is that? It almost makes me want to invite the whole family to my house for Christmas. Almost.

Are you hosting Christmas at your house this year? Will you have treats for your guests when they arrive? Or is letting them stay at your house treat enough?

This post is Day 12 in the series “12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating”. Click these gallery pics to see all the projects in the series.

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12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Gift Bag Wall Art

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Gift Bag Wall Art | laughingabi.com

Have you ever noticed how gorgeous some of the Christmas gift bags are? They’re like miniature pieces of art. Really, really cheap pieces of art.

So why not cut them apart, pop them in a frame, and hang them on the wall? I used one bag from this set of two to finish off my mantle. It cost $1.50 for the pair.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Gift Bag Wall Art | laughingabi.com

After I cut out the “face” of the bag I flipped it over and carefully snipped the paper strip covering the handles. Then it was easy to peel the handles off and trim away any excess paper that was adding bulk.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Gift Bag Wall Art | laughingabi.com

I did a bit more trimming to get the size just right and then it was ready for framing.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Gift Bag Wall Art | laughingabi.com

For this piece I used a frame without any glass or backing because I wanted the wood to show. I used two t-pins and a rolled piece of painters tape to hold the art in place.

My favorite gift bag wall art is made from plain brown paper gift bags my sister-in-law, PiperEdison, drew specifically for each member of our family. (Some of you might recognize these from last year.)

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Gift Bag Wall Art | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Gift Bag Wall Art | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Gift Bag Wall Art | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Gift Bag Wall Art | laughingabi.com

Yep, those all started as plain brown paper bags. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away so I trimmed, laminated, and framed them. Voila – handmade gift bag wall art.

Do you love gift bag designs? (I know I’m not the only one.) Do you save pretty bags? Have you repurposed them for something other than gift giving?

This post is Day 11 in the series “12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating”. Click these gallery pics to see all the projects in the series.

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12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: More Christmas Porch Decorations

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: More Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

Welcome to day five and more Christmas porch decorations. This time I started with four things that were all TOTALLY FREE.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: More Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

Now listen closely because I’m going to tell you the secret to putting all this together and making it look amazing.

1. Put all the crap in the bucket.
2. Done.

That’s it. No magic. No detailed instructions. Just move things around until you like the way it looks. Oh, and I did find some red ribbon in my stash so I tied it around the bucket for a pop of color.

One of the things I like most about this project is it looks pretty during the day and during the night. Here are some daytime pics.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: More Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: More Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: More Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: More Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com
And here are some nighttime photos – with one little addition. I was digging through my Christmas boxes and found these oversized ornaments. I couldn’t resist the red and gold so I snuggled one down in the branches. Love it!

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: More Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: More Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

So pretty. So simple. So FREE.

Do you ever gather things from the yard (or neighbor’s yard) to put together outdoor decorations? Do you end up liking them better than the expensive, store-bought version?

This post is Day 5 in the series “12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating”. Click these gallery pics to see all the projects in the series.

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12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

Welcome to day four! Today we’re taking it outside and adding a little Christmas to the front porch. I scored this old sled at a thrift shop forever ago.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

I don’t know the story behind it but this stamp on the back lets me fantasize that wee children in Paris once used it to fly gleefully down a hillside.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

I used to just hang a swag of greenery on it and prop it on the porch. Then somebody gave me these.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

They were supposed to be for my daughters but I was afraid they would get blisters and be cold and possibly fall on the ice and get permanent brain damage. So for the sake of the children, I took them for my holiday decorations. Best mom ever.

I also changed them up a little to make them more festive. A $4 investment transformed them into this.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

To attach them to the sled I just tied the laces together and hung them over the middle bracket.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

Then I dug through the Christmas boxes and came up with this little wreath that used to hang over my shed door. Looks much better here and finishes off the whole thing.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating: Christmas Porch Decorations | laughingabi.com

PLAN B:
Can’t find a sled? Any tall skinny piece would work. Maybe an old, recycled shutter. Or you could buy a few cedar fence pickets (about $3 each), screw them together and hit them with a coat of paint.

PLAN C: 
No spare ice skates floating around your house? (Or maybe you actually let your kids use theirs.) Try using a pair of mittens from the thrift shop.

What do you use to decorate your front porch? Do you use the same thing every year or are you making something new this time?

This post is Day 4 in the series “12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating”. Click these gallery pics to see all the projects in the series.

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