Archive for May, 2012

Ruffles from plastic tablecloths?  Yep.  Easy and darling.  Here’s how I made them for our Activity Day Mother-Daughter Dinner Recognition Night (click here and here for more info).  I saw this tutorial and decided to try it out.  However, instead of needing my ruffles to run down the center of long tables, I wanted them to travel in a circle around the centerpiece of each round table.  This required some adjusting of the instructions.

These took about an hour to create.  I made 8 ruffles in that time.  They were the last thing on my list and after a crazy week, I wasn’t sure if they were going to get done.  After setting up for the evening I had about an hour to run home and make dinner.  Instead of slaving at the stove I decided to see if I could get these done in time.  I did.  And aren’t you glad?  They turned out really cute and were the finishing touch on an already great-looking party.  Give them a try!  They were worth serving PBJs for dinner.

First, cut down the length of a long rectangle plastic tablecloth.  Create 4 strips, all the same width.  I used the fold marks as a guide and it was very easy.  Fold one strip over lengthwise so that you have two layers of plastic, one about 2″ shorter than the other.  This will create your layered ruffle look.

Sew a gathering stitch (longest that you can on your machine) about 1/2″ from the fold.  This stitch will go through both layers.

After stitched along the entire length of the plastic, tie the threads at one end together in a knot.  This will secure the ends so you don’t pull the thread all the way through, leaving you without any stitching.  Next, take one thread from the other end of your plastic and pull gently.  It should start to gather your plastic.  Carefully use your fingers to shift the gathering down the length of your plastic ruffle, spreading out the gathering evenly as you go.  Pull it as gathered as you need it.  I based mine on how large I needed my circle to be.  Gather your ruffle to the length you need it to be and tie off the ends of the string.  Trim threads.

You’re done!  Now you just need a party!  Use these ruffles as centerpiece runners, swag them from tables or walls or other decor to create backdrops.  Attach them to edges of tables or doorways for a fabulous trim.  Whatever.  The possibilities really are endless!  I’m thinking they would look great this weekend at your Memorial Day BBQs.  Enjoy!

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About a month ago my mother handed me a $20 bill and a tiny frame with a little post-it note attached.  It said, “Stop It.”  “Blue and green.” “Small.”

It was her way of telling me that she wanted the words from Dieter Uchtdorf’s latest talk designed in some lovely way for her home and was willing to pay for it.  For Mother’s Day, I made this project for her and wrapped it up in a polka-dot bag with her $20 tucked inside.  To be honest, I love being able to give something that a person really wants so it was my pleasure to create this little treasure for her…minus the frame, minus the payment, and minus the blue and green color combo that she requested.  After all, I had thought of something so much more beautiful.  And cool.  Yes, I had to make my Mom’s gift cool.  She may be in her 70s but she doesn’t act like it so why should her home decor?

This phrase was just a part of a bigger message that has been put together nicely here by Nick Sorensen, but I like these two simple words – I think they can stand on their own.  I believe that everyone has something in their life that they want to change or improve and these six letters are a gentle but clear reminder to stop whatever it is we are doing in favor of making a change.  Chewing your nails, eating a bucket of fried chicken every day, choosing negative comments or thoughts…we have to just stop it, right?  Motivation doesn’t come simpler than that.

My Silhouette files this week were inspired by this project.  You get a variety of Lace Background Patterns (Chevron included) and Stencil Phrases in current themes to pair them with (Father’s Day, Graduation/Congrats, Thank You, Love Life).  I also threw in some borders and blank frames because I know how much we all need those as well.  They match the Artisan Chain design.  Hooray!




How did I make Mom’s “Stop It” wall art?

1.  Scaled Chevron Lace pattern to be 4″ wide and cut it out.  Cut out a background square as well.  White-on-white again – could anything be more beautiful?  And subtle.  She knows what it means and why she is inspired by it.  It doesn’t have to scream at her to get the point across.  Soft, lovely, approachable.

2.  Cut a piece of chipboard 4″ square and mount solid square and chevron pattern to it.  Cut out “Stop It” phrase from “Love Life” shape file.  Remove words from phrase (ungroup and highlight words then delete them) and cut out an extra solid oval.  Mount it behind the phrase so you can see what the words say.  I used a very, very light blue color.  Just a tiny bit of contrast to be able to read the words.  Again – subtle.

3.  Punch two small holes at top of 4″ square and tie a ribbon through to create a hanger.  The ribbon is the pale shade of blue I used behind the words.

Tiny.  Lovely.  Sweet.  Subtle.  Perfect.

She loved it so much more than how it would have looked in her fancy frame.  Dieter Uchtdorf’s wife is her friend so she asked for one more to give to her.  High praise, if I do say so myself.  Use any of the Lace Background Patterns and Stencil Phrases that I have uploaded this week in my Silhouette store to create a project just like this, a card for Father’s Day or Graduation, or just to say that you are grateful.  You’ll want all of the files this week – lots of uses and lots of choices so add them to your library and start creating.  Click here to go to my Silhouette store.

As you can see, I’m in love with white-on-white right now.  It’s so clean and fresh.  Check out this great technique while using color here at Inspiration Ave.

Happy cutting!

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I have lots to share, though so I need to get to it.  Today, enjoy the first installment of our mother-daughter Activity Day Recognition Night.  Seriously, this thing was put together 92% with the Silhouette.  It should be a commercial.

(Click here for Part 2 and here for Part 3 of this activity.)

download jpeg of invite – blank (I used Copperplate Gothic font)

Overview of the evening:
(Click here for Part 2 and here for Part 3 of this activity.)

Click on the following image to download a large jpeg of the logo.

Happily Ever After Circles

Theme: Your Happily Ever After (based on speech given by Dieter Uchdorf here) leading to a focus on PRINCESSES.  Could there be anything better for 8-11 year-old girls?  As you will see, there is not.

Food was involved…salad, yummy biscuits, skewered fruit and daughter-served brownie sundaes.  But I wasn’t in charge of that part and happily put it out of my mind.  Give me the assignment for decorations any day.

Note: If I were doing this activity again, I would skip the dinner and replace that time with a more hands-on learning activity (relating to President Uchtdorf’s talk) and an opportunity for the girls to share their learning about the gospel with their mothers.  Either way is great but after doing activities for the last 2 years, that is something I would have done a little differently now.


(photoshoot as arriving)


Dinner (girls served moms and brought dishes to kitchen before picking up desserts)

Message & Recognition of Activities Girls had done over the last 6 months


Concluding Remarks & Clean Up


1. Cake Stands – a staple in throwing parties and can be used for everything, not just food display.

I used my pink, aqua, lime, yellow and white cake stands (made with a little epoxy attaching a candlestick or dessert glass to the bottom of a plate and spray painting the entire thing with 2X Rustoleum paint) as the centerpieces because….well, because it’s spring and they are little girls and we were doing princess stuff and…it’s what I already had.

2. Mason Jars with Colored Daisies 

Believe me when I tell you that you only need one flower per table to make it work.  Especially when you add a couple of skinny-doweled Silhouette cut-outs to portray the theme.  For me, it meant a crown and a “Your Happily Ever After” label card.  Wrap them loosely in tissue paper to keep them in place and to hide the ends.  Cost: about $1 if you shop sales for the daisies.

click here to download the smaller logo that we used in the layered centerpiece picks

3.  Plastic Tablecloth Ruffles

I saw this idea for creating a table runner using a plastic tablecloth and adapted it to work on a round table.  Click for tutorial here.  Perfect for anchoring the centerpiece on these large tables and making the whole thing look and feel more rich than it cost.  You get 4 ruffles from each plastic tablecloth = that means 25 cents each.  Plus, the ruffles look great draped at the top of my shutter backdrop.

4.  Plastic Tablecloth Chair Bows

I’m sure you have seen these before but they must be done.  An inexpensive way to add flair to ordinary folding chairs and to make the whole place feel like a celebration.  Just cut down the length of a long plastic table cloth (we used the fold lines as guides) and you get 8 strips for bows.  12.5 cents each.

5.  Candy Jars

I’ll post about these in just a bit and give you a quick tutorial but what I will say here is that the girls made these darling candy jars in the activity before our event with the intention of using them as our primary decoration at the Recognition Night.  Click here for instructions.  Personalized, filled with purpose, and the perfect way to reinforce the message of the evening.  More coming on what I mean by that.  These are not your ordinary candy jar.  But let me tell you that the impact of the girls walking into the night with their mothers and seeing their work looking so perfectly lovely and enticing was a highlight of the evening.

6.  Supplies for Craft

Part of our evening included a take-away craft that each girl got to create with their mothers.  After cutting a 2″x6″ board into 6″ blocks, painting and sanding them, they were ready for the night.  Our partners were in charge of that part (bless them) and I tackled 28 sets of vinyl lettering on the Silhouette.  The vinyl shapes are available in my Silhouette store.  Click here for the princess and crown.  Click here for daughter of a heavenly king.  I added some Staz-On ink to the vinyl edges to create a distressed look but it really didn’t need it.  Plain or distressed – it looked great either way. The girls added a little rhinestone bling to their blocks and got to take them home as well to remind them of who they are and why they are here.

Here’s the thing, though.  I like everything to have purpose.  So, I designed the craft supplies to be part of the actual centerpieces of the table.  Large shallow bowls that held the vinyl, craft sticks for rubbing, and rhinestones rested on a cake stand.  Wood blocks were loving tucked under another pedestal and the ruffled tablecloth surrounded the entire thing.  It looked great and there was no time wasted on handing out supplies.  Efficient and beautiful.  The perfect party.

7.  Photo Booth

You first saw my photo booth at Cole’s superhero party and here it makes an appearance so that we could snap a quick pic of each mother with their daughter (probably to be used at a future activity….still working on the exact project idea).  Invites told them that they could come dressed as princesses or in coordinating outfits if they chose.  DARLING!  Some of them really got into it and only added to the feeling of celebration.  Seriously, do this every year, Kolette.

8.  Scallop Wrapping Paper Placemats

The Silhouette didn’t fail me as I cut out a slew of 12″ scalloped circles from a roll of wrapping paper.  I cut it into squares first then used two mats to keep the assembly line going as I cut out all the cute scallops.  We mixed and matched napkins and paper cup colors to keep it all random but coordinating.  They looked great with the green polka-dot placemats.

See, I told you that the Silhouette played a big role in pulling off this evening!  We were so happy to see all the mothers embracing the evening and making it special for each of their daughters.  Whether they dressed alike or worked side by side to complete the craft, it was a beautiful evening of sharing one-on-one time with some of the most important people in their lives.  Thank you mothers!

Click here for Part II and here for Part III of this activity.

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I’ve made about 30 cake stands using this technique so when the idea of creating candy jars doing the same thing, it was a quick yes from me.  You’ll see the cake stands used as the decor in so many of my events and parties because they are super versatile.  Click here for a quick list of how to create them.  Today I’ll tell you how I made our candy jars for our Activity Day Recognition Night.  These are great for any occasion, event, or gift-giving need.  Grad gifts?  Sure. Father’s Day?  Why not?  Just change out the tag, fill it with a favorite treat or small item and it will work for any person or event.

Here’s How:

1.  Gather supplies.

  • candlestick (I purchased mine at Dollar Tree and they can also be ordered here in cases of 12 and delivered to your store for free.)
  • jar with wide mouth lid (Also purchased at a dollar store with squishy veggies inside.  Those got dumped, jars were washed and labels removed.)
  • Rustoleum 2X Coverage spray paint
  • quick-drying epoxy (Gorilla or Hammerhead)
  • E6000
  • small wood drawer pull or wood knob (found at Hobby Lobby for less than $.10 each)
  • ribbon and tag (optional)
  • candy or other treat
  • written notes (optional)
  • tag – jpeg download click here (you can add your own name to the space)

2.  Clean jars.  I chose a short, squatty jar and tall skinny one for variation.  I also tested them to make sure I could get the labels off easily since I was doing so many.  Plus, the lids needed to not stink after washing (so no pickle jars for me).

3.  Attach knob or drawer pull to lid with E6000 (can also use epoxy for quick-drying).  Note: knobs are not meant to be pulled on when opening.  To make them more sturdy, consider nailing a small nail through the lid and into the knob after attaching.

4.  Spray paint candlestick and lid with knob.  Spray lightly in multiple coats for the smoothest coverage.  Be sure to get in all the nooks and crannies.  Dry completely.

5.  Attach candlestick to bottom of jar using quick-dry epoxy or E6000.

6.  Add ribbon and tag.  Fill with candy, nuts, or other treats and treasures.

If you look closely, you’ll see that I used Double Bubble Gum for this project.  To create even more connection to the event, we took excerpts from the message of the evening and little tasks that we wanted the girls to do supporting the idea of their “Happily Ever After” and typed them out onto white paper.  We cut them into strips and had each girl wrap a piece of gum with a strip of paper, attaching one end with scotch tape to the gum then rolling it up and attaching it with another piece of tape.

The girls took their candy jars home that night and were encouraged to take one piece of candy each day, unwrap the task, do it or think about the message while they enjoyed their treat.  Our jars fit about 18 pieces of candy.  This was a great way to take the message home with them and reinforce the principles for over two weeks.  If you are giving these as a gift, consider wrapping each candy with a message of why you admire that person, favorite memories, or reasons why you love them.  Click on the image below to get a pdf of our messages.

If you are using the actual creating of these jars as an activity like we did, plan on having the knobs already attached to the lids and the candlesticks and lids pre-painted so they are dry.  You can have them clean their own jars if you want but we washed them ahead of time and soaked them to remove the labels.  The girls got to choose the type of jar they wanted and the color as well.  They also assembled their tags and tied the ribbon.  Finally, they wrapped each candy in a strip of paper.  Everyone was finished with theirs as well as completing the ones for absent girls within an hour.  We had them keep their jars with us and the next time they saw them it was looking so fabulous at the dinner a few weeks later.

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This week in the Silhouette store you will find my new Pop-Up Card series.  It seems a little confusing at first but after one look at these pics, you’ll be heading to download all 10 files.  Here’s how the 3 components work:

1.  CARD (outer card and inside pop-up card) – cut out both cards and simply fold them in half, popping out the strip that runs down the middle of the inside card, so that you can attach an embellishment to it.

2.  SENTIMENT SET (embellishment & phrase or 2 phrases) – one goes on the front of your card while the other attaches to the inside pop-up card.  You’ll notice I give you some extra embellishments to attach to the background of your card as well.  Hooray!  Any Sentiment Set will fit on any pop-up card.

3.  ENVELOPE – each envelope matches a different card design.  The flap is the same shape as the card but…wait for it…the envelope front has a fabulous matching design cut out of it for a little peek-a-boo fun before the card is even opened!

Here are some examples of how to put together the 3 components.  I am really in to using a white-on-white canvas right now.  It’s so fresh and clean and any color added really pops (pun intended.)  But you can use any color of cardstock to create your cards – contrasting colors look fabulous, too.

Click on the file name of each card to be sent directly to the correct files in my Silhouette store.  Mix and match Sentiment Sets with Cards & Envelopes for lots of different looks.  Enjoy!

Happy Birthday / Cupcake Sentiment Set
Scallop Pop-Up Card Set
Scallop Envelope

How to create this: Place washi tape strips vertically, overlapping the edges slightly.  Cover card base with washi tape at the top and bottom so cut-out shapes show through.  Wrap some ribbon around the whole base for a colorful surprise when the card opens.

It’s Your Day / Party Like a Rock Star Sentiment Set
Crown Pop-Up Card Set
Crown Envelope

How to create this: Ink the card base in the space where the pop-up card designs show through to give shapes a little color.  Use the “Party Like a” banner at the back of the pop-up card to tie the whole look together.  Place a strip of masking tape or painter’s tape vertically on the card front then ink within that space.  Remove tape for a clean edge of ink.  Add thin strips of ribbon to create stripes over the ink.

You’re My Favorite / Hedgehog Sentiment Set
Chevron Pop-Up Card Set
Chevron Envelope

How to create this:  Washi tape is our friend.  Place a few strips on the side of the front of your card.  I had a solid blue tape that I used with a green polka dot over the top of, creating a completely different pattern that perfectly coordinates.  One strip is hanging off the edge to create a tab.  For the pop-up portion, layer washi tape across the bottom portion to help the chevron pattern stand out.  Then use the banner files to create a banner on the back of the pop-up card.  I attached my baker’s twine with a thin line of Elmer’s Glue.  Who wouldn’t love a hedgehog today?

Welcome Little One / Elephant Sentiment Set
Chevron Pop-Up Card Set
Chevron Envelope

How to create this: This is the simplest design but my favorite card of all.  Here I kept the white-on-white and simply left the subtle pattern to stand on its own.  Attach the balloon to the background of the card and use baker’s twine to connect the balloon to the trunk of the elephant.  The interaction this creates between the embellishments is a sweet treat to find inside this darling card.  Then add a wide ribbon around the front of the card for a simple but lovely addition – just like the little one you are celebrating!  Package the whole thing in a coordinating envelope and you have the perfect little treasure.

Click here to see my whole store.  Happy Cutting!

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Honestly, blogging has not really crossed my mind over the last few weeks.  Between crazy work deadlines and beautiful spring weather (i.e. yanking out all the yard muck accumulated over the winter and endless bike rides with a new training-wheeled 3-year-old and his friends), time has vanished into thin air.  I’ve had my Silhouette maxed out on cutting…over the course of two days it ran for no less than 16 hours and went through three blades.  Although I did figure out that a little scotch tape on the back of my nicked mat will give it at least 30 more cutting assignments to conquer.  Good to know.

With spring comes the time to clean out my closet.  I do this a couple times a year and have no problem generously tossing things that I need to move on from but this year it’s different.  Last week was the two-year mark of when pancreatitis struck the Hall family.  It’s taken this long to get back on track.  Throughout the course of the last two years my body has been through the ringer.  I went from gaining 60 pounds of water the first week to being fed through a tube in my arm for months and turning into a human skeleton.  I am finally back to a “normal” weight for me but after multiple surgeries I still have a strange little belly that won’t be taken care of until I decide to do a full tummy tuck in the future.  Since I’m not ready for anyone to go digging around my tummy for a while, this will have to wait.

In the meantime, the way that I have gained my weight back is different than I used to gain weight.  It’s landed in different places that it did before.  Needless to say, I’m totally confused about how to deal with my new body, lumps and bumps and all.  I have a happy life but if I can make something in it a little more beautiful, I will.  Right now, that something is my new body.

So, I decided to call in a specialist.  Tressa is a local personal stylist who, after a lengthy questionnaire, all kinds of measurements, endless rummaging through my closet and a few tears on my part, empowered me with tools for dressing my new body in a way that helped me look my best.  It’s been like What Not to Wear but better because she is also a realist – she let me keep my Athleta pants but just helped me figure out how to make them look a little more put together.  Let’s face it.  I’m a mom. I work from home. I’m not going to dress like I’m going to the office when I’m sitting at my computer or chasing after a little one all day. That’s my reality.  But can I at least look a little better while doing those things?  Yes.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on this project.  Learning.  Marking up my Personal Style Solutions book with all of the things that work “great” for me so that I know exactly where the pockets should land on a shirt or what types of fabric are best for my body. Hence the closet-purging.  Piles were sent to the thrift store or to other people that would look better in them than on me.

And it was freeing.  I am now replacing things step by step with items that work.  Work for me.  I’m figuring out places I can shop (thank you Boden) to be most successful and how to analyze clothes before I even try them on.  My closet is now full of colors I didn’t realize were best for me and being a color girl, I love it.  Since I hate shopping and going to the mall overwhelms me, I have ordered entire stores online (free shipping and returns are a must), tried them on at home and sent three-fourths of it back.  But I feel confident with the things that make the cut.  Come on.  This is cute.  And it actually looks really good on me – Ocean and French Blue now live in my closet.

Once I receive a couple more packages this week I will be setting up another appointment with Tressa to go over what I think I should keep and get a second opinion on my choices and altering needs.  But really I just want to show off some stuff and let her know that I’ve learned something.  I’ve always been a teacher-pleaser that way.

Do I love my strange-shaped belly?  No.  But it’s who I am and at least I don’t dread trying to dress it now.  I love myself and my life, bumps and all.  This is just one way that I can empower myself to make my “place,” my new body, beautiful.  I’m embracing the lovely, colorful, comfortable journey.

Happy closet cleaning – you’ll thank me once you get the job done.

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