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Greeting card advent calendar

Remember when I told you three years ago that I was going to make an advent calendar the same way I made my hanging postcard collage? Well, I finally did it! Apologies for posting so late in the season. You probably already made or bought an advent calendar this year. But you can start saving Christmas cards to make one next year. The beauty of this design is that it rolls up and stores easily to be used year after year.

Candy tucked behind each card

Slip a thin, wrapped piece of chocolate (Ghirardelli Squares work well) or note behind each card for a daily Christmas treat. I cut out a square from the inside of each card, including the signature, and pasted it on the back so I will always remember who gave that card to me. You could also decorate the cards with glitter, brads, eyelets, ribbon, etc. All you scrapbookers know what I’m talkin’ about.

Tutorial and photos after the jump! Read more »

Decoupage plates

Last week, I blogged about Carol Endler Sterbenz’s new book Homemade: The Heart and Science of Handcrafts. This week, I’m honored to welcome Carol as a guest nester! This decoupage plate tutorial is just one of the many fabulous projects in her book. Carol writes, “Of all the DIY techniques I have learned or been inspired to try, few have equaled the beauty and ease of potichemanie, a form of decoupage where prints are glued behind glass so that they gleam like fine porcelain.

“This straightforward technique can be used to decorate plain glass plates in any style or size you want. Begin by decorating a small dessert-size plate and then, when you are ready, decorate larger pieces, such as a platter or other serving piece. The top surface of the decorated plates can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Do not submerge the plates in water.”

Tutorial and photos after the jump! Read more »

DIY Kitchens and Paint Projects

I’ve always been a fan of BH&G’s Do-It-Yourself magazine, so when I heard about two of their new books, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. Do It Yourself Kitchens: Stunning Spaces on a Shoestring Budget and Do It Yourself: 100+ Paint Projects didn’t disappoint.

DIY Kitchens

Budget kitchen

I’ll start with DIY Kitchens. It’s a handy—and beautiful—resource if you are contemplating a kitchen remodel, large or small. With big pictures of gorgeous kitchens for nearly every budget, I had fun picking my favorite one (pictured above). Even the kitchens that I didn’t like had great storage and decorating ideas I can steal. Read more »

Monica's birdhouse

I learned my lesson last year at girls camp. I spent the entire week teaching step-by-step instructions for most of the crafts, which left me exhausted and sick of my own voice. So this year I chose a few crafts that didn’t require constant instruction from me. Birdhouses was one easy solution. And I even had time to paint my own birdhouse (above) at camp.

Row of birdhouses

The essentials for this project were paint, creativity, and unfinished wooden birdhouses. Then I let the girls loose. And boy did they let loose. I’ve never seen so many bright-colored, creative, and unique birdhouses.

More photos after the jump! Read more »

Dining room makeover - the table

Dining room makeover

American Express asked me to make over a social space using merchandise available through Membership Rewards points. I chose to make over my dining room. Deciding what to buy with 150,000 Membership Rewards points and dozens of fabulous merchants to choose from was a challenge. But I persevered!

Ok, so what are Membership Rewards? You earn points through everyday AmEx card purchases like gas, groceries, and phone bills and redeem them for things you need or want — it’s a world of possibilities, and the choice is yours.

AmEx has a Facebook page, where Cardmembers can share stories about what they bought with their Membership Rewards points. While you’re there, enter the Million Points a Day Giveaway (through the end of June)!

Now that I’m back from girls camp and all my dishes have arrived, my dining room is ready for the reveal. Because this is a social space makeover, I chose what I most needed for entertaining: tableware, table linens, and somewhere to store it all.

With my AmEx Membership Rewards points I bought: Oneida “Shaker” flatware, white Fiesta dishes, rattan placemats, yellow napkins, whitewashed wooden stands, drawer pulls, and Martha Stewart taupe curtains.

More photos after the jump! Read more »

Chandelier - after

old chandelier - before

I’m happy to report that most of the work is done on my dining room makeover that American Express generously sponsored. Unfortunately, however, I ran into a few snags. The dishes I ordered using my Membership Rewards points arrived broken, and other items were backordered. The replacements are due to arrive when I’m away at girls camp. So, my big dining room reveal is postponed until June 20.

Until then, I wanted to give you a peak at one part of the room: my sparkly chandelier. I bought this old chandelier years ago for $20 at a salvage yard in Berkeley. I cleaned it up, and my brother rewired it. I’ve never been a fan of brass, so it got a fresh coat of paint. Read more »

The plan…

Dining room makeover - the plan

UPDATE: Click here to see the “after” photos.

Wow. I should ask for reader input more often. You gals shared some great ideas! I didn’t think it was possible, but you changed my mind about some of my original ideas for this dining room makeover sponsored by American Express. After careful consideration, I chose products to buy with my Membership Rewards points, and I made a sketch of my plans—many of them inspired by you.

It’s amazing what you can buy with American Express Membership Rewards points. It was a difficult choice with so many great options. In the end, I chose items that I most needed for entertaining: tableware, table linens, and somewhere to store it all. After all, Membership Rewards points are intended as a social currency that helps bring people together. Read more »

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