DIY Sun Hat String (aka Stampede String)

It’s summer vacation guys! I'm ready for sun, sand, unlimited ice pops, and best of all, sundresses! And, the perfect addition to a summer dress is a stylish sun hat. Unfortunately for me though, I have a super small head and they always end up flying off! I got tired of holding them down and/or chasing them around, so I wanted to create a solution that would keep my hat where it belongs- on my head! Here's the super easy, genius DIY so your hat can stay on all day long- a stampede string! PS- I wore the string behind my ears/hair, this way I didn't look like a total dork with a string below my chin! You couldn't even see it.

*This post contains affiliate links.

 Tired of your sun hat flying off your head on vacation? Me too! Add this stampede string to your hat to keep it on your head where it belongs. Click for the DIY.

You will need:

Sun hat with an elastic rim (mine is from Target)
Suede cord (similar here)
Wood bead (similar here)
Flat pin (similar here)
Scissors
Felt Scraps

Directions:

 Tired of your sun hat flying off your head on vacation? Me too! Add this stampede string to your hat to keep it on your head where it belongs. Click for the DIY.

 

  1. While wearing your hat, find the point near your ears and mark on the inside where the strings should go. 
  2. Take your suede cord and make a hole for your pin near the top, leaving a little extra on the end so it doesn’t break off. I found that it was a bit hard to use the pin to make the hole, so I suggest using a safety pin or thick needle
  3. Repeat for the other side. 
  4. String a wooden bead through both pieces of suede and tie a knot on each string so it doesn’t slide off. 
  5. Using your felt, use a small piece to cover both sides of the pin. If felt is too thick, you can use some regular fabric with fraycheck on the ends. Repeat for both sides. Note: This step is optional, but I realized on the trip that my hair would get caught in the pin and it would hurt when it pulled. 
 Tired of your sun hat flying off your head on vacation? Me too! Add this stampede string to your hat to keep it on your head where it belongs. Click for the DIY.
 Tired of your sun hat flying off your head on vacation? Me too! Add this stampede string to your hat to keep it on your head where it belongs. Click for the DIY.

Although this isn’t 100% foolproof (especially if it’s super windy!) this strap will help you to keep your hat on if a big gust of wind comes your way. I know that without it, I definitely would have had to wave my hat goodbye as it flew down the street. It was already flying off in the Target parking lot after I purchased it!

 Tired of your sun hat flying off your head on vacation? Me too! Add this stampede string to your hat to keep it on your head where it belongs. Click for the DIY.

I left my bead natural wood, but you could totally paint it to match the string, the hat, or to add an extra pop of color. If you're looking for something to do with those extra beads, try this necklace DIY. It's one of my faves!

So what do you think about this hat string? Are you ready to add one to your oversized sun hats? Or, do you have another hack that's even better? Let me know in the comments below!

Wire Cactus Potted Plant

Although I am creating life within me, I am absolutely terrible at keeping plants alive. I even got succulents because I thought they were supposed to be easy to care for. Um... nope. They all dried up and died! In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! They’re actually really simple to make, so its pretty funny that I started working on them about a year ago (!!!) and never got around to finishing them. Since one of my 29 goals for this year is to finish what I started, it seems like an appropriate task to cross of my to do list! After all, it’s been on there for so long. So grab your supplies, and maybe a friend, and let’s get crafting! 

 Do you somehow kill all your plants like I do? In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! This wire cactus is perfect for your home. Click for the full how-to!

You will need:

Wire (similar here)
Styrofoam Cones (similar here)
Acrylic paint (similar here)
Ceramic pots (from the local craft store)
Aquarium rocks (here)
Small flowers (similar here)
Glue gun (similar here)
Wire cutters (here)
Long knife or small saw (similar here)

Directions:

 Do you somehow kill all your plants like I do? In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! This wire cactus is perfect for your home. Click for the full how-to!
  1. Paint your ceramic pots in your choice of color and let dry. 
  2. Take your styrofoam cone and place it inside your pot, starting with the smallest one. Mark where you need to cut. 
  3. Using your knife or saw and a cutting mat, carefully cut the styrofoam cone in a straight line. Test that it fits, and adjust if necessary. Repeat for all 3 pots.

Directions: Small Cactus Plant

 Do you somehow kill all your plants like I do? In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! This wire cactus is perfect for your home. Click for the full how-to!
  1. Take your wire and fold it in half. Cut the wire. Repeat so you have 4 parts. 
  2. Fold your half wire loosely into a U shape and place into the styrofoam. Take another piece and do the same, crossing over the first piece of wire. 
  3. Repeat for the remaining pieces. Adjust if necessary. 

Directions: Medium Cactus Plant

 Do you somehow kill all your plants like I do? In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! This wire cactus is perfect for your home. Click for the full how-to!
  1. Take a long piece of wire and fold it in half. 
  2. Turn the wire so the curve is at the top. Bend the wire up then down to create cactus arms. 
  3. Take a new piece of wire. Fold it in half, and measure so that it covers the arm cactus. Trim. 
  4. Place the arm cactus into the styrofoam, then add the loop you made to fit. 

Directions: Adding the Rocks

 Do you somehow kill all your plants like I do? In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! This wire cactus is perfect for your home. Click for the full how-to!

Once you are happy with the placement of your wires, you’re ready to add the rocks! 

  1. Using your glue gun, add a small patch of hot glue in the center of your cactus. 
  2. Cover your glue with a hefty handful of rocks. Press them into the glue gently. 
  3. Give it a moment, then tilt the plant to get rid of any excess rocks that are not glued on. Repeat until your styrofoam is covered. 
  4. Note: for the large cactus, I had to remove one side to create a hole big enough for my hand. Just make sure you remember to put it back before you cover the whole thing up :)
  5. Add a few small flowers on your wire to dress up your cactus. 
 Do you somehow kill all your plants like I do? In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! This wire cactus is perfect for your home. Click for the full how-to!

Artwork can be found here and blocks DIY can be found here.

 Do you somehow kill all your plants like I do? In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! This wire cactus is perfect for your home. Click for the full how-to!

Love it! Here are some photos of the cacti in action at the Cinco de Mama party.

 Do you somehow kill all your plants like I do? In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! This wire cactus is perfect for your home. Click for the full how-to!
 Do you somehow kill all your plants like I do? In an effort to save the plants, I’ve decided I’d better stick to fake plants from now on. So, I decided to make these little beauties! This wire cactus is perfect for your home. Click for the full how-to!

This plant is perfect for those of us who don't have a green thumb. You can make them as big or as small as you'd like, in any color you want. You could probably even use pipe cleaners if you wanted to! 

So, what do you think of this wire cactus? Perfect for your home, or do you prefer real plants? Let me know in the comments below!

DIY Rainbow Alphabet Blocks

Call it a mother's intuition but I made this project before I even knew I was pregnant! I wanted them for an Instagram challenge I have since put aside, but hey... they're pretty cute and I've used them for a few blog posts already too! You probably saw them make a cameo in my Easter party post, my baby post and my Painted Notebook post. They're too awesome (and useful) to resist. Find out how to make a set for yourself!

 Colorful rainbow alphabet baby blocks? Yes please! Find out how to make a set for yourself. Click for the full how-to!

Disclaimer: I do not have children, and therefore I do not know what age this would be for. I’m going to say 3+, but please use your discretion! Mine will be mainly for decorative purposes. I don’t want any children getting hurt with toxic paint or swallowing a loose letter. Please use caution when giving this project to children!!!

You will need:

1.5" blocks (here)
Painter’s tape 1 inch (here)
Paint in your choice of colors (similar here)*
Wood letters (from Michael’s, similar here)
Paintbrushes (similar here)
Super glue or wood glue (here)
Newspaper or similar to cover workspace

*My colors were Martha Stewart Pink Dahlia, Apple Barrel Pink Parfait, Martha Stewart Wild Salmon, Martha Stewart Yellow Jacket, Martha Stewart Diving Board, Apple Barrel Parrot Blue, Apple Barrel Bimini Blue, Craft Smart Grape Taffy

Directions:

 Colorful rainbow alphabet baby blocks? Yes please! Find out how to make a set for yourself. Click for the full how-to!
 Colorful rainbow alphabet baby blocks? Yes please! Find out how to make a set for yourself. Click for the full how-to!
  1. Pick the colors for your paint, and decide on whether you want a pattern. I wanted to do a rainbow, so I assigned each letter a color and counted out how many of each block I needed from that. 
  2. Find the best side of your block to be the front, and add tape to the center as a “stripe”. I did this on two sides so that I would have the ability to add extra letters or something else to the back. Or at least, if gave me an extra option in case one side looked funky!
  3. Once you’ve taped a few (or all) of your blocks, begin painting them. Each round, I painted the “front” of the block with two stripes, 2 sides full color, and the “back” with two stripes. I did the stripes first, then the sides, and went and did a second coat on the stripes before letting it dry. 
  4. Peel your tape off your blocks and save it for round 2. Make sure your blocks dry fully before doing round 2! 
  5. While your blocks dry, start painting your letters. I did the front and all the sides with a few coats. 
  6. Take your tape, and reposition it on the sides with the stripes, this time going the other direction to form a “border” of color around the edge. Paint the stripes on the front, back, and opposite sides. And let dry fully. 
  7. Glue your letters into your blocks and let dry according to directions. 
 Colorful rainbow alphabet baby blocks? Yes please! Find out how to make a set for yourself. Click for the full how-to!
 Colorful rainbow alphabet baby blocks? Yes please! Find out how to make a set for yourself. Click for the full how-to!
 Colorful rainbow alphabet baby blocks? Yes please! Find out how to make a set for yourself. Click for the full how-to!
 Colorful rainbow alphabet baby blocks? Yes please! Find out how to make a set for yourself. Click for the full how-to!

Alternatives:

  1. For a safer alternative, you can paint or stamp the letters onto the blocks so that there is no choking hazard
  2. Instead of matching all the blocks and letters, try mixing them up or color blocking with different shades of the same color! I tested that below.
  3. Add stamps to the sides of the blocks for extra learning fun! 
  4. Add numbers for a complete block set 
 Colorful rainbow alphabet baby blocks? Yes please! Find out how to make a set for yourself. Click for the full how-to!
 Colorful rainbow alphabet baby blocks? Yes please! Find out how to make a set for yourself. Click for the full how-to!

Ahhh! I mean, how stinking cute are these!? They'd also be really cute as decor with just the letters of your baby or child's name. I love love love these! Are you planning to make a set for your kids? Let me know in the comments below!

My Favorite Photography Items for Beginners

One of my favorite parts about blogging has become photography. I love seeing my DIY ideas come to life through my tutorials. I imagine people seeing the photo on Pinterest or Instagram, getting that excited feeling in their chest, and excitedly clicking on the link to see more. I remember the days before I had a blog, going onto Pinterest for hours and browsing all the amazing ideas on there. I also remember wishing I could have my projects on there too. The fact was though, my photos were NOT good enough to be on Pinterest. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I didn't want to be up there unless I could be as good as everyone else. I knew my craft ideas were good enough, but my photos were not.

I had a few skills I had learned over the years, including some from an intro to photography summer course in college. We learned a bit about the features of the camera, but we only used auto mode, and were told never to use flash. The class focused on teaching us about the composition of a photo (and what makes a good one) rather than really getting into the nitty gritty of how to use the camera. So while I took some really cool photos in this class, I found that my skills were really only good for taking cool photos outdoors.

When I started working on my blog around April of 2016, I used a few of my basic skills to take my first set of photos. Now, while the photos weren't necessarily bad, they weren't good either! They were dark, unevenly lit, and a bit blurry too. Not exactly the makings of a professional blogger! While they say comparison is the thief of joy, for me it was the catalyst to improve my photos...Right away. I upgraded all my equipment and finally started to see some major changes in my blog photos.  

Since I had a very limited budget for my photography upgrades, I found some decent equipment (mostly on amazon!) and made the most of it. I have to say though, these upgrades, along with new editing skills, took my photography game to a whoooole 'nother level. So, without further adieu, here's what I use (and love) for my blog photography.

Photography Equipment.png

Backdrop Stand- Since my attic has some lovely sloped walls, I needed something to give the illusion that they were totally normal, flat walls. I decided the easiest and probably cheapest solution was to go with one of these backdrop stands. It's been helpful for so many posts in conjunction with a seamless vinyl backdrop. I used to put it up only when I needed to take pics, but since I have the space, I just keep it up all the time. Sometimes I trip over it (ugh) but it's worth it to have the photo studio ready to go at any moment. This set comes with fabric backdrops, but I use a vinyl one which doesn't have wrinkles. See below for that!

Softbox Lights- In my honest opinion, these have been the most helpful change I made to my photo setup. Before I bought these lights, I couldn't take bright, evenly lit photos no matter how hard I tried. I was rejected from craft sites due to my photos and I didn't understand how I could possibly fix it, until I started using these lights. They are seriously a game changer, and they do fold down pretty small, so they can be stored in a closet or something. If you're serious about photography, I highly recommend getting them and finding a place to store them. I also suggest buying an extra set of bulbs. I accidentally knocked my lamp over and shattered a bulb and couldn't work for a few days while I waited for the replacement!

Seamless Vinyl Backdrop- This seamless vinyl backdrop is perfect for using as a backdrop on photos! I've used it for DIY's with larger items like my Cricut and for photos of myself. It's most useful for party posts, because my studio is in the attic with sloped walls, which don't look fab in photos. 

White Backdrop - for small desktop items, I purchased this small white backdrop. I put it on my desk/folding table to have a crisp white surface for photos. It's easy to clean and reusable, so it's perfect for craft projects. I do recommend covering it if you're doing something really messy though. One time I spilled oil paint on it and the stain couldn't be cleaned. But, for everyday stuff like glue, acrylic paint, or glitter, it's perfect!

Step Stool- If you are taking any kind of overhead photos, please oh PLEASE invest in a small step stool. DO NOT USE A CHAIR. I used a chair at first, whatever, I don't want to go downstairs and get the step stool. However, I did fall down and fractured my toe, and couldn't walk for a month! Then I had a walking cast for another month. Not worth it. Chairs are meant for sitting. So park your butt in your chair and order the step stool :p

Desk/folding table- To take all these photos, you'll need a nice, empty surface. I recommend having a dedicated desk for photos if you have the room. Otherwise, purchase a folding table so that you can have a dedicated surface when you need it, then put it away when you're done. Don't go too cheap with a folding table, because you don't want it to tip sideways or fall over if you accidentally bump it. This folding table is cool because the height adjusts! 

Canon Eos Rebel T6- In December 2016, I switched to this camera and it made a huge difference! This camera packs a lot of bang for your buck and it's a nice size. I didn't have a huge budget, so I use the 18-55mm lens it came with. Somewhere down the line, I hope to get a fancier lens, but this one works just fine for now. I hoarded gift cards for a while to buy this camera! If you've got a gift-giving occasion coming up (Christmas, birthday, graduation) be sure to spread the word that there's a camera you've got your eye on, and that all you really want is some assistance to purchase it! Or, have a family member (like a sibling or husband) suggest Visa/Mastercard gift cards to family members so that you can purchase it. If there's a will, there's a way.

Adobe Cloud- Aside from using Photoshop to edit photos (which works amazingly!) I use Bridge to sort my photos and Lightroom to do a tethered capture. This allows me to see my photos on my laptop screen and be able to assess them before I need to edit them! Since I'm usually doing DIY posts, my camera is way up and I can't see the viewfinder or screen at all. For only 10 bucks a month, these programs have made a world of difference for me!

Horizontal Camera Mount- ok DIY bloggers, this one is going to blow your mind!! You honestly need this if you're doing overhead shots! It's perfect for recipes, step by step tutorials, party setups, or any type of flatlay you can imagine. It's lightweight and perfect for getting a shot with your hands in it! 

Seamless Backdrop Paper- I purchased some backdrop paper in Tulip and Baby Blue and I want all the colors now! it's great for changing up the look of your photos or even your room. I used it for my Pink Disco NYE Party and my Polly Pocket Iron On Tee pics. It's not super cheap, but it comes with quite a bit of it!

Lens Cleaning Wipes- These are amazing for cleaning your camera lens, laptop screen, or even your cell phone. They don't leave streaks, dry quickly, and are lint-free. Plus, since they're individually wrapped, you can pop them in your camera, purse, laptop bag, desk... anywhere you may find yourself needing a screen wipe!

Mouse & Keyboard- When I use my laptop, I usually use it on my lap (hah) and use the trackpad to get everything done. But, when I'm taking photos, I use the tethered capture and have my laptop across the desk from me. So, I use the mouse to get everything done! I use it to click open apps, zoom in, and press the button on Lightroom to actually take the photo. The keyboard is obviously used for typing, but it's also good for zooming into pics with the space bar, or for rotating images without needing to right click and squint to see the options.

Inexpensive Tripod- If you're just getting started, I recommend starting out with an inexpensive tripod. I used this one for months while I browsed Ebay to find an affordable fancier one. But honestly, this one did a great job! It was able to hold my horizontal camera mount, and was perfect for taking photos horizontally. I mostly upgraded because I wanted to get a camera mount to take vertical headshots and photos.

Wrapping Paper- For smaller items or messy craft projects, I like to use some cheap wrapping paper to add a pop of color. It's easy to throw away and cheap enough that I don't mind. I buy mine at the dollar tree, but you can find them almost anywhere. I recommend something slightly matte so that it doesn't reflect too much of the item on it.

So, there you have it. My favorite photography items for beginners and bloggers! What are your must-haves for your photos? Did I miss anything? Any questions I can answer? Let me know in the comments below!

DIY Affordable Book Art

As I mentioned in my last post, I've got a serious lack of artwork in my home! I wanted to find some cute and colorful cocktail-related images for above my bar, but everything was either cheesy or expensive. Also, the space is a weird size- there's a light fixture above and a light switch below, so I only had about 2 feet in between for art. I had a book of cocktails that I rarely used, which had some GORGEOUS photos inside. That's when it hit me- why hide the images in the book, when I could display them proudly on the wall?! I went to Michael's to pick up some cute and simple white frames with a mat so the images would take up enough space while also "popping" against the frame. I'm sooo happy with the result that I decided to show you guys exactly how I did it.

 Got a spot that needs some artwork? Why not save some money and use some artwork from your books?! It's affordable and easy as can be. Click for the full how-to.

The best part is that you can use any type of book or magazine that you have. My suggestions? HGTV books and magazines for cool and colorful homes, Cooking Magazines or Recipe Books with tasty recipes for the kitchen, and Artwork Books and Magazines for the rest of the home. Even National Geographic would be great with its artistic animal photos!

*This post contains affiliate links

You will need: 

Frame (from Michaels, similar here)
Books (here)
 

Directions:

 Got a spot that needs some artwork? Why not save some money and use some artwork from your books?! It's affordable and easy as can be. Click for the full how-to.
  1. Flip through your book or magazine to find your favorite images. Tear them out as close to the spine as you can.
  2. Remove the back of your frame and take out the placeholder image and the mat.
  3. My mat was double layered white and gray, so I carefully pulled off the gray one from underneath to leave only the white one. It worked perfectly!
  4. Position your artwork within the mat, and tape in place if needed.
  5. Place the mat and artwork into the frame, and close up the back. Make sure there is no dust or hairs on the inside of the glass before you do!
 Got a spot that needs some artwork? Why not save some money and use some artwork from your books?! It's affordable and easy as can be. Click for the full how-to.

I mean... how cute does this artwork look?! This is such an affordable way to add some artwork to your home, especially if you have gorgeous books that you occasionally look at but don't use. This way, everyone can see the beauty within- right there on the walls! I also styled my bar with some really cute, colorful stuff. That blog post is coming later this week, so stay tuned!

Are you planning to create your own book art for your home? Let me know what you plan to use in the comments below!