Easy Earring Display Idea

I’ve just finished all my custom orders for the moment, so I thought I’d write a quick post to share a super easy DIY idea – an earring holder made from a window screen.

  

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of earrings. I used to have to dig for the pair I wanted when deciding what to wear.

So when I saw a tutorial or two for using screening to turn a picture frame into an earring rack, I decided to make an even simpler one with some window screens I had lying around from another project.

I can’t remember how much they cost but probably not much. And all I did was put the little bracket things on the corners, tie some cord around them, and cover up the ugly label. 

You could certainly make the edges prettier with some fabric, lace, scrapbook paper, paint, etc. But I’m lazy and I think the earrings add plenty of color.

  

Hang this in your bedroom or bathroom and you can see all your favorite pairs of earrings when you’re getting ready. I actually have a second one in my studio that I use for stuff I’ve made.

Well I hope you like this idea! How do you keep your jewelry organized?

Craft Room Organization – Work Tables

There are a lot of expenses to consider when you’re running a handmade business. On top of supplies, tools, and packaging, you have to think about things like furniture, technology, and website/shop fees. 

So I try to work with what I have and just upgrade when necessary (besides my love of trying new tools & materials whenever possible). For a year or so, my main workspace was a little wooden table left by the previous owners of our house. I could fit most of my clay and clay tools, but found myself having to move around the room to finish pieces that included paint or jewelry findings. And as I accumulated new supplies, I began to run out of room.
I wanted a folding table so I could also bring it to craft fairs, but decided to be cheap and buy a thrift store desk instead. It’s actually perfect because it has extra shelves and fits pretty much everything I need for the whole clay jewelry making process, plus I wouldn’t really want to move all my stuff now that it’s set up.

 

My workspace before & after (the “before” got a lot more crowded than it is here).
 
But when my husband insisted on buying me my folding table (thanks babe), I also got to upgrade my shipping station (previously on an old TV stand that wasn’t quite big enough for everything or tall enough for sitting in a chair). Now I can have my printer and all my packaging supplies in one place, and get my items ready to go at the table instead of on the floor. 

 

My shipping station before & after (ignore all the nail polish; that’s for another project).
 
So I guess if there’s a point to this post (besides “yay, new stuff,” haha), it’s this: if you’re on a budget, you still have options for making your business or hobby work. But if you have some extra money or you use something a lot, a little upgrading & reorganizing can make your life a lot easier. 

Spring Butterfly Wreath

I have a minor obsession with butterflies at the moment. Maybe it’s because of all the gorgeous species we have here in North Carolina, or maybe that one scene in the Hobbit, or maybe they are just magical, but I love them.

I am also redecorating our bedroom. It was time for a new bed set and I decided on an enchanted cottage theme (more on that later) and somehow got the idea to start making a bunch of butterflies. And then I found this fabulous wreath idea on Pinterest, so of course I had to make some more.

The original wreath project, seen Here at Up to Date Interiors, uses butterfly images printed from the internet. I did the same thing but with black outlines I could color, because printer ink is flipping expensive and I like my new markers. I made some in every color and divided them into coordinating groups for each project. It took at least a few hours between the coloring and the cutting (not that I mind, cause I was also netflixing), but I am really happy with the results. 

I’m glad I stumbled across her post, because I may have had a wreath in mind but I wouldn’t have known what type of wreath form would look best or how to attach the butterflies. Also I love her color scheme. 

Stay tuned for details on my bedroom update! 

DIY Cat Tent Bed

This is my third project with my new sewing machine (the first two being throw pillows and pajama pants). I never bought Boots a bed because cats notoriously sleep wherever they want – in his case, the bed, the couch, the floor, or his favorite chair (formerly my studio chair, but it’s okay, I have two).

But it was getting cold enough for him to actually sleep next to me instead of at the foot of the bed, and I kept seeing him lying next to his toys even when he wasn’t playing with them, like he wanted something of his own. I was probably overthinking due to liking my cat too much because I spend more time with him than with other people. But even if he didn’t like it, I didn’t mind having another just-for-fun project to do.

So I browsed Pinterest for some ideas before making my own pattern. I wanted it to be covered, tent style, so I could stop leaving cardboard boxes in the living room for him to sit in. And I ordered some adorable fabric from a shop on Etsy, because making my own meant I could make it super cute. Also if I’d bought one, I probably would’ve had to look in the dog supplies, because I have a huge cat.

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I lined the whole thing with white cotton broadcloth and filled the bottom with a few layers of quilt batting for even thickness. It has a zipper that is actually up-cycled from one of those plastic bags that sheets come in. The “tent poles” are old wire hangers – I made a casing on the seams between the two layers of fabric – and I made a binding around the doorway.

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Boots was all over it during the creation process, but once I finished, he played in it for a few minutes and then seemed to lose interest. Until the next day, when he couldn’t go outside because of the rain and decided to sit in his tent bed instead. So we will see if this thing gets any use, but at least it looks better in my living room than a cardboard box.

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Here are links to the ideas that inspired me, including a very budget-friendly no-sew version, and some photos of the finished product.

Mini Tent Tutorial This one seems significantly smaller but has detailed instructions.

Pyramid Cat Tent This tutorial is explained simply by the photos.

Puppy Hut (& dog leash) A free project pattern from Bernina.

Cat T-Shirt Tent Basically free and no sewing skills required! Bonus: 26 Hacks for Cat Owners

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New Sewing Machine & Sewing Projects

A sewing machine is something that’s been on my craft wish list for a while. I keep thinking of all the projects I could do if I had one, but then other stuff adds up and it gets pushed to the bottom of the list. That’s the problem with doing multiple kinds of crafts, sometimes you have to pick & choose your supplies.

But my husband and I decided to give each other spending money for Christmas – we’re kind of bad at picking gifts for each other, except maybe fun little things – and I made sure to to leave room for the sewing machine. I even got some gift cards I used for paint, canvas, and clay stuff.

You can always get a used sewing machine on eBay or Craigslist but, little did I know, you can get a decent new one for less than a hundred dollars. They go as low as about $50 at Walmart, or as high as hundreds or thousands. There are all kinds of fancy machines out there, but I’m going to use it for pretty simple stuff. So, after talking to a friend with more experience, I settled on the Brother Basic Sewing & Mending Machine, normally $130, for $70 on Amazon (or at Target or Home Depot).

I’d kind of forgotten most of my sewing experience since using my mom’s Pfaff as a kid & teen, and later a friend’s Singer. But after buying some fabric and finding my sewing accessories, and with a little help from the manual, I practically finished my first project the same day my Brother arrived.

Of course, throw pillows are pretty easy – I didn’t even need a pattern, just measured as I went – but I did do buttons and a zipper and had no trouble switching stitches & presser feet.

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Above: setting up the machine, Boots helping me work, and the finished products.

Now I can’t wait to make curtains, and maybe a cat bed and some clothes or re-fashions. I’m happy to say that I still have pretty regular Etsy sales this month, but it’s nice to have projects to do just for fun too (at least, until I mess up my pattern because I’m impatient, or the thread tension goes wonky, or my giant cat will not move but I feel bad for being annoyed). And I love having the option of customizing my clothing & home decor, and/or saving a little money by making them myself.

Adventures in Gardening

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I really love this gardening quote that I borrowed from Better Homes and Gardens. There’s just something about nurturing a little tiny seed into a plant that bears fruit – or vegetables – and of course, being able to walk outside and grab something fresh and delicious to add to a meal.

We decided to try it last year to see if we could save money on groceries, since, being on the paleo diet, we eat mostly meat and fresh produce. Or maybe I just wanted another project. There’s another saying that goes, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.” Let’s just say, if that really works, I should do lots and lots of gardening. And I could probably use a little sun, too.

Anyway, we didn’t have a whole lot of experience, and it was kind of last minute. I bought a bunch of seeds, some soil, bird netting, stakes, etc and put some cinder blocks around the one little part of our rental house backyard where I wouldn’t ruin the lawn. I started the seeds inside in egg cartons. They’re free, assuming you buy eggs, and the plastic ones make perfect little greenhouses with the tops on (the cardboard ones are decomposable but they steal moisture from the plants).

Out of probably a dozen varieties, the only really successful edibles were tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. But hey, at least we like those a lot, and they make for delicious salads. I didn’t realize the mixed flowers I bought would be four feet tall, so my pretty little border was a little out of control. But it did attract some beautiful butterflies.

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In Northern California, where my Dad and I tried our hands at gardening a few years back, the problem – once you break through the rock hard ground – is watering enough to keep things alive, and keeping the deer away. Here in North Carolina, it’s kind of the opposite. Your plants grow with little trouble once they make it past transplant stage, but so does everything else. Meaning weeds, weeds, weeds. Also bugs, and rotting from excess rain. It has been a weird couple of years weather-wise.

Nevertheless, I wanted to try again this spring. We’d bought a house and had a perfect spot for a garden, much bigger than the other one, and a little more knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. So I gathered my supplies, bought some new ones – including a few new plant varieties – and got started.

Despite some setbacks such as bug holes in my broccoli plant and only male flowers on the pumpkin one (from what I understand, it’s the females that bear fruit), I am happy to say we have not only cucumber, tomatoes (just turning red!), and basil, but also squash, bell pepper, and parsley/cilantro (are they supposed to look and smell exactly the same??).

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The great thing about gardening is that you can totally scale it to your available time, space, and budget. You can have a few plants in containers, or fill your backyard – it’s up to you! I’ve even experimented with growing from kitchen scraps. Has it really saved us money on groceries? Probably not yet. But I’ll take the cheap therapy, and the satisfaction of watching something grow.