Cheap, Stylish Gift Wrap Ideas

Has anyone else noticed how ridiculously expensive gift wrap is?

Sorry, friends. I’m not paying $6 for like five feet of wrapping paper that will only cover a few gifts and then just rip the minute I start covering the edges of my boxes.

The other problem I have with traditional gift wrap is that I like my gifts to all look a little unique. This means I end up buying several different prints of wrapping paper, thus spending even more money.

This year, I’m trying something different! Maybe it’s Pinterest or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve gotten a heck of a lot craftier in the past few months but I’m going to wrap my gifts in stylish but cheap ways this year! Check this out:

Brown Shipping Paper

That is what they call brown shipping paper or craft paper. The name brand stuff is about $5 for 30 feet. They sell it online, at WalMart, at Target and pretty much everywhere else.

It looks boring, but I promise you – if I can make pretty gifts out of this stuff, so can you!

I’m going to be using a little white craft paint, some sponge brushes and some green, red and gold ribbon.

Don’t believe me? Here is my inspiration for gifts this year!

affordable brown paper gift wrap

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cheap brown paper gift wrap

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brown shipping paper gift wrap ideas

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affordable gift wrap ideas

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stamping on brown paper gift wrap

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brown paper and red ribbon gift wrap (via)

That last one is definitely my favorite! I’ll be using it for some inspiration, while mixing in a few more holiday colors.

How are you wrapping your gifts this year?

DIY: How To Paint Wood Furniture

Today I’m going to share something not quite related to fashion. I just finished this little DIY project for my new St. Louis office and I just had to share it with you all!

About 6+ months ago I saw this amazing little mid-century mod end table on Craigslist for just $15. The listing mentioned it needed a little TLC, but I loved the bones of this piece so I had to have it. Once I arrived at the previous owner’s house and saw it, I still loved it but it quickly became obvious that ‘little’ was a very subjective word! The top looked pretty rough and had some deep gashes in it.

EndTable_Before

I’ve been meaning to refinish it for a long time but never really got around to it. Now that we’re getting settled in our new home and I have an office of my own, I knew I needed to take the plunge and do it!

For the most part, I followed the fabulous Kate of Centsational Girl’s step-by-step directions on painting furniture.

First, I started by removing the hardware (see above) and then I gave it a good sanding. I just bought a medium 80 grit sanding block and went to town. This piece had a bit of stain on it, but overall it was easy to sand. I didn’t worry about getting all of the stain off. I just sanded it enough that it was rough all over.

This is after my sanding. As you can see, the top really needed some TLC!

 

(Ignore the mess in the background. I just moved, remember?)

To repair these gashes on the top, I used some Elmer’s Wood Filler. This stuff is pretty cheap and makes a HUGE difference. Basically, you just slop a bunch on with a putty knife and then smooth it out. Let it dry according the to directions and use your sanding block to remove any chunks that may have formed.

Once you finish that, I took a slightly damp paper towel and wiped all of the dust off of the table. This just makes sure it’s a clean surface for painting.

Then, begin priming! Following Kate’s recommendation, I bought the Zinsser Cover Stain with the brown label. Warning: This stuff stinks! Use in a well ventilated area. Brush that stuff on covering every place you intend to paint. I wasn’t sure if this would be necessary, but it really did result in a super smooth table. Another tip for less experience painters (like myself): don’t forget to buy ‘mineral spirits’ to clean your brushes after using this stuff. Apparently latex paints require a special solvent to clean your brushes. I didn’t have this and ended up scrubbing brushes for a long, long time. Just buy it!

Once that dried, I began painting. I just bought your standard flat house paint in the colors I wanted. I also mixed each quart with a tiny bit of Floetrol. This stuff is supposed to reduce paint streaks and must have worked pretty well because I have very few drag marks.

I ended up painting two coats of paint to get the color I wanted.

I let this get really, really dry before I started my next step – stenciling.

I had bought a wall stencil awhile back from Cutting Edge Stencils to use on this and I love the one I chose.

To paint the stencil, I used painter’s tape to hold it in place while I brushed on my second paint color. While I typically use lots of paint on my brush, it’s really important to have almost no paint on your brush or you will end up with your paint bleeding under your stencil. I barely dipped the tip of my brush and then dragged it around on a styrofoam plate until there was no excess paint. Then, you’re ready to gently paint your stencil on. This is time consuming and pretty messy. I ended up with my left hand covered in blue paint. I only needed one coat of this to get it right.

Then, I used two coats of Minwax polyurethane (I used the oil-based because I couldn’t find the water-based) to give it a final protective coat and a slight gloss. I think I bought the mid-level gloss.

Overall, this project took about a full day with dry time. It was very little active work time and I found myself cleaning and watching movies as things dried.

Here’s the big finish!

I bought new knobs super cheap from Target.

That’s it! What do you think?

Have you tried a similar project before? What tips do you have for a first timer?

How To: Make Your Own Peplum Shirt

Have you noticed the peplum craziness that is happening right now? It started with peplum dresses but now I’ve seen peplum EVERYWHERE!

Here are a few of my favorite Pinterest peplums: (Links 1 | 2 | 3)

Peplum and Floral

 

High Waisted Peplum Skirt

 

Flowy peplum dress

 

After seeing all of these beautiful outfits, I was feeling inspired to add some peplum to my own wardrobe! However, I was looking to try out the trend before spending some money. As I was putting this outfit together, I realized that by belting my flowy shirt I could try the peplum look just for a day.

What do you think? Does this touch of peplum do the trend justice or should I invest in something new to really bring it to life?

DIY peplum

Top: Forever 21 | Dress: Forever 21 | Belt: Target | Sandals: Volcom from Zappos

 

In search of some curtains

Ever since we registered for our bedding months and months ago I’ve been looking for the perfect curtains. Our bedding features grays, blues and a hint of yellow.

Kas Maysun Mini Comforter Set, 100% Cotton

With these colors I really wanted yellow curtains. Bright, beautiful, sun-in-your-face yellow curtains. Our apartment walls are white right now so I figured some yellow would help brighten up the room and in our future home we could paint the walls a soothing gray color and the yellow would still be perfect.

I’ve looked EVERYWHERE and have yet to find curtains that I like/will pay the amount they want for them.

As I continue to look, I’m realizing I may have to make my own. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers online make their own using hemming tape and an iron so that’s always an option. Here are some fabrics/inspirations that I’m loving. If you see any curtains around that would make sense let me know and I will forever owe you!

Hedge Fabric - Chartreuse Dahlia Fabric - Dove


After seeing this DIY project I’m tempted to make my own this weekend….. We’ll see!

One last note – a big salute to all of our veterans and those serving in the military today. Thank you for all that you do and have given up for our safety and security. Whether you agree with the politics or not, please support those who have made the decision to fight, protect and serve for us.

How to: Travel with jewelry

As a follow-up to my recent post on how to store your jewelry, I wanted to do a post on how to travel with jewelry. When I a reader asked about this, I realized that I honestly had no clue. I’m guilty of throwing the jewelry I want to take with me on a trip into a plastic Ziploc or two.

So I did some research, including Googling, asking on Twitter and Facebook and just asking some girls I know. Here’s what I found:

First, do NOT use this:

You’re probably thinking: But it’s only $20.. and I can buy it on Amazon…. and it’s cute and small… and…

Nope. This will only result in your jewelry getting tangled, broken, cracked and possibly even lost (when someone runs off with your entire cute, little bag).

These tips will take a little more work, but they won’t cost much, and they work!

General tips for traveling with jewelry

  • Always keep your jewelry in your carry-on when flying. You never know what could happen between you checking your bags and when you arrive at your destination. This rule is especially true for anything with real stones or sentimental value.
  • Always store jewelry in a dry place with low humidity. This goes for home storage as well. When traveling, think about placing your bag near the AC or in an open area – not inside your duffle bag surrounded by clothes and then thrown into your trunk on a hot day.
  • In general, to avoid tarnish, place some moisture absorbing materials, such as white chalk, charcoal or silica gel, in your jewelry bag or case.

Types of Jewelry

Next, let’s look at the individual types of jewelry you might have and what you should consider for each.

Pearls

Because pearls are extra delicate, it’s imperative to store any jewelry with pearls in its own case/pouch/box. A soft, fabric-lined container will keep your pearls safe and looking great.

Silver Jewelry

Silver is also rather delicate to travel with, as it can tarnish quite easily. Believe it or not, but you can actually buy tarnish-free bags to store silver jewelry. They look like your average Ziploc but actually help keep tarnish away from your necklaces and earrings.

Stone-beaded Jewelry

Any of your chunky necklaces that feature stone beadwork also need special care. Wrap these items individually in soft fabric or tissue paper before putting into a bag. This will keep them from cracking or breaking and will keep any painted beads with their full color.

Metals

Any jewelry that is a real metal (gold, silver, etc.) should be stored carefully. Never store different types of metals in the same container, as this encourages tarnishing and dulling. Save your mix and matching for once you get there!

Chain necklaces

To keep your necklaces from getting tangled, use heavy cardboard to keep them separate.

  1. Start with a large piece of cardboard (I’m sure you can find an empty box hanging around – otherwise think about using a box that you would otherwise recycle from food).
  2. Lay the necklace (clasp closed) on the cardboard to estimate the length.
  3. Cut the cardboard just slightly longer than your necklace.
  4. Cut a slit at the top and bottom of the piece of cardboard.
  5. Put your necklace into the slits.
  6. Be sure that this is fairly secure before packing away. (I’d put each necklace in it’s own plastic bag after securing it on the cardboard just in case one falls off.)

Earrings

Using a method similar to the chain necklaces idea, poke holes for each earring on a piece of cardboard. Feel free to put as many as you want into one bag as long as they are made of the same metal. Put them in a bag as well in case one falls off. You definitely don’t want to be chasing that lost earring down in the depths of your luggage.

Watches

Simply wrap your watch up in a sock. You just want to be sure it’s not going to get scratched up.

Anything else?

I’d love to hear from you all on how you travel with your jewelry. Did I miss something? Feel free to comment or shoot on over to Facebook to let me and others know!

Thanks to these sources for providing some of the information found in this article. And a big thank you to all of the girls who let me pick their brains on the topic!

For more jewelry tips, check out my post on how to store jewelry.

Halloween outfit: the ’80s

While I was only alive for a few years during the ’80s, there’s something nostalgic about this era for me.

I love the way this decade is all about mixing and matching things that just quite don’t match. They loved pairing a jean jacket with a pair of jeans of a different color of denim, pairing neon blue with some powder pink. The big hair, the skinny jeans – it’s all so awesome. Plus, this decade was all for overdramatic puff sleeves and you know I love puffy sleeves!

For the perfect ’80s Halloween costume consider these items:

  • Neon colors
  • Plastic jewelry (bangles, earrings, watches, etc.)
  • Sandblasted denim
  • White keds
  • Sony Walkman (for extra creativity points!)

Am I missing anything here? Let me know what you would add!

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Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of the Mad Men: The Illustrated World in my giveaway! Contest ends November 1st, 11:59 pm EST!

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