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Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Year ...



2010 has been a wonderful year for Live A Little Wilder! I love how the blog has really taken off with lots of craft tutorials and decor ideas. Thanks so much for continually following, reading and crafting right along with me. Without all the great feedback and comments from you guys, I wouldn't do this.


Looking back ...
Live a Little Wilder has added followers from twelve different countries in 2010! Most are from the United States, but we also have France, South Korea, Canada, Brazil, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Croatia, Austria and the Netherlands represented here too! {To my one little follower from the Netherlands, you're awesome and I love you!}



The majority of the traffic on the blog comes through Facebook and Twitter. Thanks friends!! I also get a lot of keyword searches for different craft projects. My favorite key words that brought someone to the site were "turkey eyes baby"  {what were they looking for??}


I pulled off one tutorial series this year:
{boy was that a lot of work or what?}


I hope to do more of these in 2011 {just maybe not five days in a row, whew!}, so be on the look out! Or better yet ... what would YOU like a series on?? Let me know!





These were the most popular tutorials this year:




And this one was my favorite ...




I got the most wonderful feedback on this post:
{surprisingly not a craft post!}




Over all, Live a Little Wilder had over 20,000 visits this year. Most of those are really from mid October until now. To the big sites, that's nothing. But to me ... well, I think its pretty stinkin' awesome!


My posts have kind of dropped off a little lately with our move to the new house and the holiday madness. After the first of the year I'm excited to jump back into things. I have tons of great ideas and a whole new fabulous house that needs decorating! I'll try to be as consistant as possible with posting, but sometimes I disappear a little. I do have a real life, you guys know that right? Kidding ...

But seriously...


Can I ask you guys to do something for me in 2011? {deep breath ...}  
 A fellow blogger put it best, I'll paraphrase:

Having a blog that people may or may not read is tough. Especially when you have no monetary incentive. {and spend a lot on your craft addiction, haha} You find yourself craving feedback. That feedback is really the only thing that keeps me going. Its nice to know that someone was inspired, encouraged or maybe even just cheered up. Heck, you can even be pissed, annoyed or irritated. As long as it mattered. So if that is ever you, just let me know. Leave a comment on the blog or shoot me an email. Or better yet, tell someone else. We tip waiters, hair stylists, and even the pizza delivery kid when they do a good job. Don’t ever be afraid to throw a digital tip–a retweet on Twitter or FB post or email forward–in the direction of someone who’s created something you liked.
 
Okay, it took me a whole year to work up the courage to self-promote. So if you feel violated and spammed and hate me now, well…sorry. 

I know some people think blogging is vain and egocentric. And maybe it is. Most days I would probably use those two words to describe myself.... But I also happen to believe that every person has something to offer this world. And that you don’t have to be an “expert” or have 30 years experience in something to be able to write about it. Just go do!



I love you guys. Here's to wonderfully exciting 2011!! 




Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Did Your Christmas Look Like?

I hope your Christmas was full of lots of wonderful blessings. Mine was filled with family, friends, love, food, gifts, snow, laughter, and an overwhelming appreciation for God's love and grace.

Here's what my Christmas looked like:


 We woke up to a beautiful snow on Christmas morning! For those of you from the South, you know how amazing this is!


First Christmas at the new house


Snowball fight included



My sweet pups have had the best time out in the snow





We went through two boxes in a week!




I was overwhelmed by your Christmas cards! Had to move them over to the banister. 




I love giving gifts. Wish I'd had more time to shop for everyone this year.




The birth of Christ is the real reason for the season. My family starts every Christmas Eve with the reading of Luke 2. It's become one of my favorite Christmas traditions.


You all know I was busting my butt to prepare my new house to host a big Christmas Eve dinner party. I had 14 days to move, unpack and decorate. And ladies and gents, I do believe that I just barely pulled it off! Here's a sneak peak of the finished dining room before the big event.





My last minute place cards turned out wonderfully. I made these on my computer, attached them to some forest green card stock, then tucked them into a single jingle bell at each seat. Love love love.


My server has quickly become one of my favorite pieces of furniture.
I love how all the details came together to decorate it too.

I'm to the moon and back about how the dining room turned out! Its by far my favorite room in the house. I'm currently attempting to come up with an excuse to host another dinner party asap!

Thank you guys so much for your patience over the past couple of weeks. I definitely missed out on more than a few Christmas crafts that I wanted to get in this year, but with the move and the holidays, there just wasn't time. I'm hoping that means I'll have a double dose saved up for next year.

Maybe by now you've taken the tree down, put up the presents, and cleaned out the fridge. You're prepping for your New Year's resolutions and headed back to the office to start 2011. Amidst all the hustle and bustle to get back to every day life, don't forget the magic of the season and overwhelming love it represents. My best to you all!





Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!





Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Poinsettia Gift Garnish! - tutorial

Alright, are you still wrapping gifts and stashing things under the tree? If so, here's a great idea to pump up the craftiness for a couple of those special presents!







Materials:
 - scissors
 - a needle and thread
 - hot glue gun/glue
 - a small piece of felt (6”x6” will do)
 - an assortment of buttons.








Freehand a small petal outline, like the one above. Mine are usually about 2” long, and 1.5” wide, but you can create a larger or smaller template based on what size flower you'd like.


 Lightly trace the template onto your felt, creating five petals. Then cut out each petal, being sure to cut off or carefully erase any leftover pencil markings.


 Knot one end of your thread, and thread your needle. Using a simple stitch, place two stitches at the base of each petal, one right after another, stringing together all five petals. Knot the needle end of your thread and cut off any excess.


Now slowly pull one end of the thread, allowing your petals to pucker and bunch. Keep pulling until the petals are closely bunched. Then, tightly tie both ends of the thread together to keep the petals in their new floral shape.



Simply hot glue your button to the front your flower, and attach to your package! Ta-da!


     

Here's hoping the outside of your presents are as fabulous as the presents themselves! 

Merry Christmas!!

 

Friday, December 17, 2010

How Do You Display Your Christmas Cards?

I love Christmas cards. Really love them. 

The husband and I like to send out a picture card {with the pups} each year. I love taking the picture, designing the card, and ordering them {always from tinyprints- they're awesome!} I love making out my address list each year and addressing the cards. I love comments from people telling me that my dogs are HUGE and we have a cute family {we do make for handsome photo}.

But my very favorite part is getting Christmas cards in the mail from other people!! Going to the mailbox in December makes me a little giddy. So far this year I've gotten some fantastic cards. Minus the one from an old family friend asking me three times when the husband and I are going to have kids {really?? pressure in a Christmas card?? sheesh.} Anywho, so I'm working on some display ideas now.

How do you display your Christmas cards? Here are some favorite designs ideas I've found!








Oh Martha, you would know how to make a beautiful Christmas card tree! Click on the picture for a how-to at her website.


Love, love, love the vintage shutter idea. I've been wanting to do this for years but can never seem to find the right shutter!


And remember guest blogger Erin from last week? Here is her Christmas card display:




Love the twig frames!

What creative card displays have you seen this year? Do you have a fabulous display to share?





Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Countdown Blocks - tutorial


This tutorial is about 15 days late ... dadgum ...

But still so fun! I'm a sucker for Christmas advent calendars. Here's a super fun and easy way to make your own countdown for Christmas.





Materials:
- 2 Blocks*
- Modpodge
- paintbrush
- Christmas scrapbook paper
- scissors
- Sharpie

*My blocks are 4"x4" and painted white. I couldn't find these in a store so I actually had my husband buy a 4"x4" timber and cut some pieces off for me. He's the bomb!


First, cut out your squares. Each block will need six squares, for a total of twelve pieces. I cut mine to about three and a half inches square, but just make sure you measure your own block. Leave a little space on the edges.


 Label your squares. I used a simple sharpie and hand wrote mine, but you can use vinyl cutouts, stickers, stencils, etc.
The first block will have the numbers: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


The second block will have the numbers: 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9


Paint the back of the number with mod podge and attach it to your block.



Continue adding your numbers to the sides of your blocks. Make sure you line them up facing the same direction ...




And badda-bing! Countdown blocks! It would probably serve you best to put a layer of mod podge over the entire block after you add all your numbers (it will dry clear and glossy). 

I love Christmas!! And only 11 more days! I'm hosting a huge Christmas Eve dinner party at my house this year. Yes, my new house that I moved into only 4 days ago ... All prayers for hasty unpacking and quick yet beautiful interior designs are appreciated!!



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Guest Blogger - Salt Dough Christmas Trees - tutorial

You guys know that I'm up to my ears in boxes, packing tape, and misplaced furniture. Moving is a nightmare, but J.B. and I are oh so happy about our new digs. Life is consisting of long days and lots of stress, but life is good.

Having said that, my craft stuff is on the shelf for a couple more days. Fortunately for me {and you!} a friend and fellow crazy crafter approached me the other day with a new craft she was trying. She asked if I'd like to her to make a tutorial of it for the blog. My answer? "Please and thank you!"

So without further ado, here's Erin with a tutorial on her Salt Dough Christmas Tree centerpiece. Take it away Erin!:

Hey guys!
I LOVE Christmas. The lights, the decorations, the music- everything about it. Sarah often gives me a hard time about starting Christmas too early, but every year I just can’t wait to get started. I have wanted to do this project since May. The wait has been excruciating, but it FINALLY time to bring out the red and green. This project is the perfect addition to my kitchen table!






Start with the salt dough recipe:
 - 2 cups of all purpose flour
 - 1 cup of salt
 - 1 cup of water








Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Knead the dough with a spoon until smooth for about five minutes


Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This step is really important. It will make the dough much easier to work with. 

Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and then spray the pan with a non-stick cooking spray.  



 Spoon some of the dough on the cookie sheet. Spread it to cover the cookie sheet. The dough should be about ¼ inch thick.


 You might want to sprinkle some flour over the dough to make it easier to spread. I started out with a spatula, but quickly started using my hands. It’s not edible anyway.


I made this next step harder than it had to be. Instead of using cookie cutters to get my Christmas tree shapes, I used a sharp knife. It took some time to get the right shapes and to separate the dough, BUT my trees were quite a bit bigger than any cookie cutters I have seen. Its totally up to you as to how you get your shapes.


If you DO chose to use a knife, use it to push the dough away from your Christmas tree shape


Then pull the surrounding dough away



You can probably get four trees out of one cookie sheet, but you only need three. If you are using a cookie cutter, you can get a lot more. Leave your tree shapes on the cookie sheet. Don’t try to move it onto another pan. 


Then let your oven work for a while. Bake your Christmas trees at 200° for about 2 hours. Make sure the trees are hard before you take them out.
I ended up making a lot more than I needed, BUT I wasn’t sure how many I would need in the end.



You’re almost done!!

For the next steps you will need: 
 - Elmer’s glue
 - Paint brush
 -  White glitter or white course sugar (I used sugar)
 - One wooden dowel for every Christmas Tree you are making.
 - Glue Gun
 - About a pound of Jelly beans. (preferably in Christmas colors)
 - 3 small containers to hold your finished product
 - 3 pieces of floral foam


I’m an amateur at this and failed to take a picture of all the things you will need… For this I apologize. Sarah, Readers, Please forgive me. 
Let the Christmas Trees cool down to at least room temperature before you start to decorate them. If you are impatient like me, you can put them in the fridge for a while.
Now reach deep into your brain to retrieve your gluing and glittering skills from kindergarten. Using the paint brush, completely cover the front side of the tree in Elmer’s glue. 

Then sprinkle the glitter or sugar over the glue. Make sure you cover it really well. Don’t be stingy!


Then pick up the tree and dust off the excess glitter. Careful, they’re fragile! 

Now comes the fun part- Decorating!! I tried this two ways;  first, I put the glue on the jelly bean and then put it on the ree. Then I put the glue on the tree and put the jelly bean on the glue. I found that the second way worked a lot better.
  
  



When you are done decorating with the jelly beans, turn the trees over to glue the wooden dowels on.


When you’ve got your Christmas trees looking just right, put the floral foam in your containers and put the trees in the foam. I used three small terracotta pots that I spray painted white. (I used to heavy duty Rust-oleum® Appliance Epoxy. I covers much better than regular gloss spray paint and gives you a nice glossy finish) Then fill the containers with your left over jelly beans.



And donzo! It’s kind of a long process, but it’s SO cute! I put mine in spray painted wooden tray to really make the white pots pop.
Merry Crafting! 

 - Erin



Thanks Erin! Its great to have some new ideas. And with this tutorial and salt dough recipe, you can make all kind of lasting decorations for the house! Hope you guys have fun crafting with this one!