October 10, 2014

I’m nowhere near done with my Halloween decor this year, and that’s the truth. It’s funny: for as much as I love Halloween, you’d think I would have so many more decorations than I currently do. Honestly, in previous years I really had to keep things at a minimum. Apartment living really doesn’t allow for much in the way of storage, and so I’d find myself only picking out a few small items to display. However, last year when we moved into our house I started to pick up some more odds and ends, and even make some myself! Including this DIY Halloween Poison Bottle I have today!

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

First, I have to make a confession. I planned on making poison/potion bottles like these….last year. I knew I would require empty wine bottles for the project, so I began saving a few outside in our garage to have on hand. A couple of bottles turned into a group of bottles…which then grew to an entire shelf of empty wine bottles. Somehow I just kept collecting the bottles and never made any projects with them. Until now. I have promised myself I’m going to create a bunch of different holiday decorations using wine bottles. That, or I need to fill our recycling bin. Haha!

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

The process for creating this bottle was pretty simple and only required a few materials.

What you’ll need:

Empty wine bottle (clear)
Mod Podge
Sponge brush
Crackle paint
Spooky bottle label

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

To start: a wine bottle! I selected a clear wine bottle for this project because I wanted to be able to see through when the crackle paint was applied. I removed the label from the bottle by soaking it in a dish of hot water for about 15 minutes. It peeled right off and didn’t leave any sticky residue – score!

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

After drying the bottle, I mixed a small amount of Mod Podge with roughly an equal amount of water. I used a sponge brush to paint the entire bottle with the mixture. I allowed it to dry before moving on to the next step.

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

I got my hands on this particular type of black crackle paint from the craft store. It came with an applicator brush attached to the lid, so I used that to paint a thick layer over the top of the Mod Podge layer.

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

It didn’t look like much at first, but as it dried, the cracks began to form! I let the bottle sit overnight to allow the paint to fully dry.

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

To finish my creation, I had to adhere a label. I actually picked up a pack of Halloween bottle labels when I spotted them at T.J. Maxx last year. They are backed with adhesive, so I was able to stick the label to my bottle. However, the label was on the thick side and it wasn’t staying stuck down around the edges. No problem – I painted around and underneath the edges with Mod Podge and smoothed those edges down. Perfecto! If you don’t happen to have a pack of these labels hanging around, don’t fret. You could very simply find or make a printable on regular printer paper, cut it to the desired label shape, and use Mod Podge to adhere it to your bottle.

DIY Halloween Poison Bottle

Once the bottle has dried completely, it’s time to place it on display! I couldn’t resist propping mine up next to one of my newest fall decor finds. I found these beautiful glass pumpkins at Home Goods for $12 a piece. I picked up two white ones and one gold. They are currently serving as a pretty centerpiece on my dining room table, and I love that they will make the transition from Halloween decor to Thanksgiving due to their neutral coloring.

Of course, now that one bottle is complete, I am having visions of filling my side board with a few more. Perhaps I will break out the paint again over the weekend!

Are you creating DIY decor for Halloween?

September 19, 2014

It may not be October quite yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not preparing for one of my favorite holidays: Halloween! I am definitely getting into the spirit and getting crafty with a few items in the house. First up: a quick DIY spiderweb bowl!

Quick DIY Spiderweb Bowl

I love perusing stores for their Halloween decor….and then figuring out how I can create my own versions with a few simple items. One of the most prevalent items I’ve been spotting recently are spiderweb bowls/baskets. These black wire bowls look like spiderwebs, but end up setting you back around $20 or so. As much as I enjoyed them for a bit of Halloween decor, I just couldn’t justify the price.

DIY spider bowl and spray paint

Then: wouldn’t you know it? I was walking through the dollar store’s Halloween section and my eyes landed on a set of PLASTIC spiderweb bowls. For one dollar, of course. Unfortunately, the only two colors available were bright purple and bright orange. No problem: easy solution.

Quick DIY Spiderweb Bowl

All it took was a can of handy dandy spray paint. I debated using black, but then landed on a metallic gold instead to make it pop. I’m telling you – I’m seriously tempted to spray paint everything in sight with this gold metallic…so pretty.

Quick DIY Spiderweb Bowl

After applying two light coats (with 30 minutes in between) and checking to see that I’d covered every inch of the bowl in gold, I let my easy DIY creation dry. Now – it’s good to go on display in my home! Right now I’m using it to hold my Halloween napkins (which have a spiderweb print….how perfect), but who knows what I might use it for as the rest of my Halloween items begin to go on display in our house.

Quick DIY Spiderweb Bowl

Of course, you really can’t beat the price for this DIY. The bowl set me back $1, and the spray paint (with a coupon for 50% off at the store) only set me back $3.50. I didn’t even use half of the can, so it can be utilized for another project or two. So – from a $20 spiderweb bowl at a regular store….to my DIY version for less than $5 – I think I’m winning on this one!

Do you like to DIY decorations for Halloween?

If you’re looking for more Halloween decor inspiration, check out some of my posts from previous years:

Halloween DIYs

Striped Skull Wreath // Skeleton Lawn Decor // Meat Head

August 29, 2014

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you are all gearing up for some fun for this long Labor Day weekend. Although I have to admit: our household isn’t getting a long weekend. Justin has to work on Labor Day – bummer! However, we’re still going to attempt to relax and enjoy the weekend anyway! But first, one of the tasks will probably be tending to our garden – I’ve let the weeds grow in a bit in my attempt to stay inside and out of the really hot weather. Now I’m going to pay for it. On a good note: our garden has been doing very well despite the heat of summer. We’ve been protecting the garden with a shade/screen that Justin constructed! What a crafty guy I’ve got…

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

Last year, we noticed that our plants could not handle the combination of heat, direct sunlight, and rain that we get here in Florida during the summer months. The spot our garden is in is GREAT during the fall, winter, and spring, but summer is a bit of a problem. Justin pondered it for a while; I could tell he was kind of sad that our garden was sitting there, vacant, for a month or so after our spring vegetables were pulled up in the early summer. I can tell when he gets an idea: he begins doing research online, he draws out diagrams, he is ON it. It’s best to let him just go with the idea when he has it, because once he sets his mind on a project, he intends to complete it.

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

Justin decided we should construct a shade/screen to protect the garden – it would diffuse the direct sunlight so the plants wouldn’t burn and would also prevent the rain from soaking the plants constantly so we can control the amount they are getting. Seemed pretty brilliant to me. So, he ventured to the store and came back with PVC pipe, a roll of plastic sheeting, and some rope. He measured our garden area and got cutting – he created a frame with the PVC pipe, along with support legs to prop it up.

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

The trickiest part was creating the screen. I was actually quite impressed when he figured out on his own that he could use our iron for this project. To attach the plastic sheeting to the frame, he wanted to create pockets/loops to slide the pipes through. We set our iron on medium heat, then looped the plastic sheeting around the PVC pipe to create the perfect sized “loop.” We placed parchment paper down on top of the plastic sheeting (so it wouldn’t melt onto the iron itself), and carefully ran the iron up and down the length of the sheeting/pipe. Justin also made a few extra small loops to make sure the plastic sheeting was secure in the middle of the structure as well as on the ends (so it wouldn’t flap up/balloon when wind hits it).

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

After the legs were attached, we stuck our structure over the garden and added a bit of extra security by tying rope around some points and securing them to our garden fence. We set the shade on an angle (angled down at the front edge of our garden) so rain water would run down and off onto the ground in front of the garden instead of pooling inside of our screen and weighing it down. Overall, I think it turned out pretty great!

Protecting the garden with a shade screen

The proof of our screen/shade’s success is now showing in the garden: the tomatoes and zucchini that would now be either drowned by the rain or burned by excessive sun are now thriving. Hooray for handy husbands, right?

Do you have plans to be productive around the house during Labor Day, or will you be taking advantage of extra relaxation time?

July 16, 2014

There are times when you need to take things up a notch. Today I want to share a bit of a project I worked on recently to take my photos up to the next level. My DIY photo board has very quickly become my favorite photography prop in my collection. And it was easy to create too!

DIY Photo Board

Sometimes I find it humorous to track my photo progression over time. Back when I first started photographing food, I didn’t know much of anything technique-wise. I was taking photos of food when it was still in the pan…steam rising from the food and blurring the image. I didn’t know to use small plates and bowls for photos. I didn’t know how to set up a shot. Then things began to click, I got more serious, and my photos began looking much prettier. I’m not ashamed of the past photos; it is fun to look back and see how far I’ve come.

Anyway, I’d been a bit frustrated with my photo setup for a while. I had a few cloths and boards I rotated, but they just weren’t perfect. I wasn’t getting the texture of a wood table that I wanted. Of course, I have an awesome dining room table that would make the most beautiful photos, but the lighting situation in that room isn’t ideal. So…off to create a DIY photo board to mimic a table instead!

There are a ton of different DIY photo board tutorials out there, and I drew inspiration from a few of them (Love & Olive Oil’s was definitely the most helpful). First – it was off to collect my materials!

DIY photo board wood planks

I picked up 1/4″ thick wood craft boards as my main photo board material. I used 6: 5.5″ x 2ft boards and 4: 3.5″ x 2ft boards in order to create a two sided square board. I’ve seen a lot of tutorials with boards not as wide, but I was drawn to the 5.5″ boards for myself since I thought they looked like the slats of a picnic table.

DIY photo board materials

I also purchased wood glue and paint to complete the project. For my base color, I selected Valspar’s English Tea Party. It happened to be out on the shelf with the pre-made paint samples, so it worked perfectly. I thought the smoky brown color would look great…and I was lucky enough to be right. Whew!

Once the materials were purchased, it was time to lay the boards out! I set them on a few layers of newspaper to work. I laid three of the 5.5″ boards in the center, with a 3.5″ board on each side.

DIY photo board layout

The other set of boards was set in the same configuration, but perpendicular to the bottom layer. To glue, I started with the outer two slats to make sure the edges and corners lined up properly. I squiggled a generous amount of wood glue to the edge area, then placed the perpendicular board on top.

DIY photo board glue

I weighed it down with a few heavy books and let it sit for about 30 minutes (I wanted to make sure the ends were secure first). Then, I moved on to glue the center three boards, placing more books on top and allowing them to dry for a few hours.

DIY photo board painting

Once the boards were dry, it was time to paint! I diluted the English Tea Party paint in half with water (50% water, 50% paint….roughly), then used a brush to paint it across the slats. Then, I used a damp paper towel to wipe down the boards. This process created more of a “stained” look than painted. I allowed the first side to dry, then repeated on the back. I have some colored paint for the next version of the board (two sides, two different treatments/looks), but to be honest, I haven’t had a spare moment to finish it yet! As soon as the “stained” look was complete, I started using the board straight away…I need to take it out of commission for a day so I can finish painting the other side!

DIY photo board stained

I actually repeated the same process with a 2′ x 2′ flat board I’d purchased – it is only about 1/8″ thick, and only a few dollars. I also like how it turned out on that board! It’s a more affordable option if you don’t want to spend the money on the wood slats (which were a couple dollars a piece: the entire photo board cost a little under $40 to create). You lose some of the texture, but you still achieve a similar look! Plus, it’s a lot lighter. Options.

DIY photo board example

As for my photos? I don’t know about you, but I think they look so much better with this new backdrop! As soon as I finish painting the back side, I will definitely have to show it off!

Have you created your own photo props?