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My first ever DIY blog posts appeared in Sunset magazine’s now defunct blog, homebysunset.com. Because Sunset is no longer hosting these projects, I’m making revised and updated versions available here at Crafty Nest. This post comprises Long-lasting cut flowers, Part 1-2, originally published July & November 2007.

CarnationsPhoto by rangerx/iStockphoto.com

I have a love-hate relationship with cut flowers. I love how beautiful they look and smell the first couple days. Shortly thereafter, love turns to hate. That’s when the wilting and stinking phase kicks in.

Worse, my former roommates never changed the water, and they kept the poor, dying blooms around long past their prime. Inevitably, I faced droopy flowers in mucky, reeking water on the dining table while I ate my morning oatmeal. Not appetizing.

Chrysanthemums in a vase

Then I discovered that some flowers last much longer than others. I received a mixed bouquet for my birthday. Over the next few days, I removed each dead flower and changed the water. Soon, all that was left were a bunch of lavender mums. I checked them day after day, and they continued to look beautiful. After I had them for a month, I took the picture above.

That got me thinking. What other flowers are long lasting?

Tips and photos after the jump. Read more »

Carpet sample placemats for Easter

This stack of carpet samples has been hanging around my apartment for three years. I picked them up for free on Craigslist. My original plan was to let the girls at camp paint them to make fun prayer rugs. The problem was that cheap craft paint didn’t work, and we didn’t have the budget to spring for something better. Plus, many of the carpet samples are puke-ugly colors (at least to young girls).

Stack of carpet samples

So I hung on to the little carpets—planning to create area rugs out of them. And they sat. And sat. And then I moved. And the carpets came with me. I finally got tired of storing them, so I broke them out of the closet last week and started planning. This is the first of seven projects I have planned for these rugs. And I can’t wait for you to see them!

Carpet sample placemat

These soft wool carpet samples made excellent placemats. The size was perfect, but the colors were a little drab and mismatched. I fixed that with bright-colored pom-pom fringe. Then I made matching pom-pom napkin rings, which, of course, meant that I had to make napkins for them. Luckily, I had the perfect fabric on hand. (Mitered-corner napkin tutorial coming soon.)

Pom-pom Easter eggs

Then I noticed that my brown eggs looked gorgeous with the colors of these placemats, so I decided to create an Easter centerpiece. A footed bowl, candlesticks, and several more pom poms scattered and glued onto eggs finished the fuzzy tablescape. Happy Easter, everyone!

Tutorials and photos after the jump. Read more »

Easter egg garland close-up

My grandmother and great-grandmother were crafty too. My great-grandmother specialized in tatting, crochet, and ribbon roses. My grandmother dabbled in many handicrafts, including painting china, sculpting clay roses, découpaging, quilling, welding, and making 3D pictures (I’ll teach you the latter someday). She even made adorable miniature Play-Dough Christmas scenes inside gilded duck eggs. Oh, how I wish I had a picture of them.

My grandmother made these decorated plastic ball ornaments for us grandkids one Christmas, and we received another one year after year. She made these for me when I was in my peach faze. Before that was my lavender faze. I soon learned not to choose a favorite color because every gift she gave me (bless her heart) was my favorite color. I got tired of my “favorite” color quickly.

Easter egg centerpiece

My grandmother intended these ornaments as Christmas decorations. I loved them, but I never hung them on my tree because they didn’t seem Christmasy to me. They’re perfect for Easter, though. You can hang them on an Easter tree, set them on candlesticks and group them as a centerpiece, or dangle them from a a gossamer garland. Any way you display them, these clear Easter egg ornaments are fun and easy to make. Click “Read more” to see a two versions of the entire Easter garland. Happy Easter!

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 »

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 »

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 »

Dining room makeover

An update…

First, I know I still have three tutorials to go to finish off my office/guest/craft room makeover series. But they’re going to have to wait, for a couple reasons. I’m once again planning new camp crafts for a girls camp in mid-June. Rest assured that I’ll also blog about the crafts when I get back from camp.

A before…

Second, I’m pleased to announce my next room makeover! American Express has asked me to make over a social space using merchandise available through Membership Rewards points. I’ve been an AmEx cardholder for years, but I didn’t know that American Express launched Membership Rewards 20 years ago as a first of its kind program. Today it offers rewards from over 500 brands.

Best of all, Membership Rewards points don’t expire and you can redeem them for anything from gift cards to movie tickets to travel. Now I buy everything with my credit card (and pay it off monthly, of course) to take advantage of the rewards. Read more »

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