Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 10 Projects of 2012

In a cruel twist of fate, my favorite projects are without fail the least popular posts here on my blog. So instead of sharing my top 10 most viewed posts of the year, I’m sharing the 10 I personally enjoyed making and sharing the most. They might not be the ones that are getting pinned and commented on the most, but they’re the projects I found the most joy in creating and using.

top10

Sidewalk Shawl—possibly my favorite crochet project to date. It was an enjoyable challenge to crochet, it’s fun to wear, and I love the look and feel of it.

Sidewalk Shawl by Maybe Matilda

Turning Bootcut Jeans into Skinny Jeans—by no means a complicated project, but one of my most practical this year, since I was able to turn a pair of rarely worn flared wonders into one of my favorite pairs of perfect-fit skinnies.

Turn Bootcut Jeans into Skinny Jeans

Pink Granny Square Blanket—I spent a long time resisting granny square blankets because they seemed so, well, granny. But this fun pattern made up in bright happy colors has changed my mind about granny squares. Just like grannies, they can be cool.

Pink Granny Square Blanket by Maybe Matilda

My DIY kitchen makeover—as a new homeowner who has tackled numerous DIY home projects, I can honestly say I don’t enjoy working on home projects. But the agonizing work was worth it to transform my kitchen.

Gray-and-Yellow-Kitchen-Renovation_t

Winter Ripple Blanket—I don’t seem to be capable of going too long without trying out a new blanket pattern. It’s a weakness I don’t mind indulging. This blanket was one of my first projects of 2012, and I still love looking back at the photos of it.

Winter Ripple crochet blanket

3-Step Infinity Scarf—sometimes the quick projects really are my favorite ones. This quick and simple infinity scarf is a breeze to whip up. I’ve loved wearing it this year, and always have an eye open for cute clearance fabrics so I can make more.

3 Step DIY Infinity Scarf

Queen-Size Lacy Ripple Blanket—you saw this one coming from a mile away, I’m sure. I loved making this blanket, and now I love seeing it in my bedroom every day. I’m very proud of this one!

Crochet Bedspread

Turkey Handprint Thanksgiving Shirt—another quick and easy project that was both fun to make and fun in action. Forrest and I actually had a good time making it together (shock and awe), and he looked so adorable on Thanksgiving, wearing his little turkey shirt.

Turkey Handprint Shirt

Speaking of quick and easy kiddo projects . . .

30-Minute Baby Lounge Pants—another easy one that is so useful! I used an old t-shirt to make a pair of jammie pants for the little guy, and it was a great way to give new life to an item that otherwise would have ended up in the trash while stocking the pj supply for this fellow. I actually have a stack of shirts in my craft room right now that I need to turn into comfy pants, because a certain 2-year old in my house has developed an inexplicable hatred for his footie pajamas and refuses to wear them. New PJ pants on the way.

T-shirt into Baby PJ Pants

Crochet Camera Strap Cover—I came up with this easy pattern on a whim one boring afternoon, and I’ve been so happy with it! A simple, cute way to perk up a plain camera strap, and it’s incredibly comfortable to wear around with your camera. Win.

Crochet Camera Strap Cover

Happy New Year, folks!

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

No nonsense Tights/Leggings Review

This post brought to you by No nonsense. All opinions are 100% mine.

I was sent a package of goodies from the folks at No nonsense to take for a test ride and talk about here. I received a pair of No nonsense tights and leggings and was really happy to see that they are both items I would be happy to wear in real life.

As a stay-at-home mom, I tend to keep things pretty casual. When I know I'm not leaving the house today, or am only making a quick run to the post office or something, I don't see much of a point in getting totally gussied up. But on the other hand, if I don't get ready to some degree--putting on actual clothes and doing something with my hair and face, even if it's not very fancy--I have a hard time being productive and getting things done that need to be done. So these leggings and tights actually fit in really nicely with my style--they're comfortable and easy to wear at home as well as out and about, and they let me step things up a bit from the never-varying jeans and t-shirt Mom look.

I received a pair of No nonsense Denim Leggings and, to be 100% honest with you, kind of cringed when I first took them out of the box. I am a fan of leggings, but I haven't ventured into jegging territory. They scare me. But you know, after some careful consideration, I'm coming around. These ones don't look cheesy and 'fake' the way that some denim-look leggings do, and they actually provide a really simple and comfy way to look like you're wearing something a touch fancier than you actually are. Sadly, my pair was simultaneously too short and too large for me  (I'm 5'8" and received a size medium, and they're a good inch or two too short on the legs and a bit baggy around the knees and, uh, crotch-al region), so instead of a real picture, I just collaged them with the sort of outfit I'd pair them with. Casual and comfy for wearing around the house, but a step up from your standard black leggings or mom jeans. Comfortable for wearing at home, but cute enough to wear while running errands, too.

Cute casual outfit with No Nonsense Denim Leggings

My favorite was the No nonsense Diamond Mesh Tights in black. Subtle and simple and comfortable to wear, but the pattern adds an extra touch to an outfit. This is more or less the outfit I wore to church the Sunday before Christmas, but of course everything in the pictures is a way cuter version of the not-as-cute things I actually own. And the booties are straight up wishful thinking. Wo is me.

No Nonsense diamond tights

I love that the tights added a little something to the outfit without being loud or distracting--just stepped it up a notch by adding a little more pattern and texture. I loved wearing them!

I'm sure I can hear the rattle of your car keys as you scurry to the door to get your own. And you know I love a bargain--you can find No nonsense tights and leggings all over the place at food + drug stores as well as mass retailers, so you probably don't need to make any special trips out to find a pair, and they won't cost you an arm and a leg like some pricier brands. And of course, you can like No nonsense on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for news, new products, etc. And Jill Martin, the author of "I Have Nothing to Wear", is pairing up with No nonsense, which seems like a good fit--she's all about making the most out of your closet without spending a fortune, so I'm expecting more good things to come with her on board.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas (plus Christmas card photo fails)

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas (or very merry religious celebration, or, if all else fails, a very nice Tuesday)! For your viewing pleasure, our Christmas card this year:

Maybe Matilda Christmas Card 2012

I love sending out Christmas cards. Come on, it’s a chance to show off your cute kid without anyone rolling their eyes at you for embracing every possible opportunity (and inventing some opportunities of your own) to show off your cute kid. Plus, the sad truth is, if I don’t send out Christmas cards, I don’t receive any. I am very popular indeed.

I used a few of our family photos taken in April on the card (which is just an inexpensive stock template from Walmart, by the way—I’m so fancy!), but I really wanted a big cute Christmas-y looking one of just Forrest, so a new photo it was. But surely you know by now that a cute picture is never a given in this family, and is only won after a hard-wrought battle with many tears and casualties involved?

For your viewing displeasure, the battle to get a decent picture of Forrest looking Christmas-y:

I set up a chair in front of the tree and set Forrest on it, dressed in an adorable holiday bow tie I made for him. Jeff stood behind me, dancing around like a maniac to try and get him to smile. Forrest was mildly amused, but mostly looked awkward and uncomfortable. I can’t blame him, I feel awkward and uncomfortable watching Jeff dance, too.

Christmas card photo fail

And it didn’t take long for him to get bored and sullen with us for making him sit there instead of letting him play, despite our not-so-hilarious antics (enjoy the non-matching socks—it’s all about the details, people).

Christmas card photo fail

Perhaps the basket of ornaments from my Christmas display will make a cute prop and keep him busy/entertained!

Christmas card photo fail

That’s a negative.

Christmas card photo fail

Okay, maybe if we give him the precious comfort blankie, we’ll get a few smiles.

Christmas card photo fail

Sigh. Nice smile, sure, but you can hardly even see him behind the blankie and fingers, and you can’t see the bow tie at all (which is, of course, the star of the show).

We took the blankie away and entered an unfortunate nose-picking photo series. This boy thinks the funniest thing he could possibly ever do is pick his nose. And if you pull his finger out of his nostril, he thinks he’s only being stopped because his finger doesn’t belong in his nose, so he’ll just grab your finger and try to dig around with it instead. Christmas card gold, right here:

Christmas card photo fail

We finally admitted defeat. We are not entertaining, we are not funny, and our son is clearly  not male model material.

Until Jeff brought out his inner genius and employed a simple trick to get these adorable shots:

Christmas card photo pose

Christmas card photo

What did he do, you ask? He gracefully acknowledged the fact that our child will never willingly give us a cute smile, and instead pulled up Curious George on the laptop and held it up behind my head while I took pictures.

You win this round, George. And every round.

I picked a favorite and sent it to Chelsea at Two Twenty One  to work her Photoshop magic, and she certainly delivered. I think it came out beyond adorable:

Cute Christmas card photo from Maybe Matilda

A perfect Christmas card shot. And now you are the secret-keepers of this precious, frightening knowledge: he’s only cute and happy when he’s watching Curious George.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

What I Read in 2012

I set myself a goal this year (on Goodreads!) of reading 50 books, and I finished just in the nick of time! I love to read, but it’s something I often need a little push to do . . . if it’s been too long since I’ve read a really really great book, I tend to get discouraged about it and kind of give up for a few months and not want to read anymore. So this goal really helped me to keep reading and searching for new books, even after a lousy one would creep in (and they always do).

Here are the 50 books I read this year, organized by how many stars I rated them on my Goodreads account. (If you’re seeing this in an email/reader, I think you’ll have to click over to the actual site to see the book lists.)

5 Star Books (loved it)

4 Star Books (really liked it)

3 Star Books (liked it)

2/1 Star Books (it was ok/didn’t like it)

What was your favorite book in 2012? I’m always looking for suggestions!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Handmade Gift Idea: Make a Coloring Book from Family Photos

(This was originally posted a few weeks ago on Eat. Sleep. Make. as part of their Stuff Your Stockings series—check it out for more great handmade gift ideas.)
 
You know how I love making handmade gifts for loved ones for Christmas, but there is a slight problem when it comes to a certain little cherub I know: he has hated just about everything I've ever made him.
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I know. With a face like that, it’s hard to believe, but it's the sad truth. Over and over throughout the past 2 years, I've spent hours and days and weeks making something special for him--whether a crocheted baby blanket or handmade clothing or toys or crocheted sweaters--that he promptly tosses and shouts at and becomes infuriated with when I finally present them to him. It's depressing, and I must be a slow learner, because I keep trying and getting rejected.
 
So for this Christmas  I thought maybe I'd fool him into thinking I didn't make his homemade gift. I'm hoping that if he thinks I didn't make it myself, maybe he'll like it better. So I took a different route and stepped away from my typical crocheted and sewn creations, and tried my hand at something new, something he wouldn't recognize as a DIY project at all . . . a personalized coloring book made just for him using photos of himself and loved ones.
 
How to make your own personalized coloring book
 
This project was as easy and quick as a DIY project can possibly be, required almost no skill or knowledge whatsoever (other than the ability to upload pictures to a website, print them out, and drive yourself to an office supply store), and looks absolutely adorable. And I think he'll even like it. (Fingers crossed.) Ever since he was born, I've wanted to make a little book of his family members, near and far, so he could learn their names and faces (especially for family members who live far away and don't see him often), so I went with a "Who Loves Forrest?" theme and included pictures of his grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins for him to color in this book.
 
Here's how I made Forrest's coloring book:
 
1. Head over to Coloring Page Creator and set up an account (it's all completely free!). I believe you can also make a coloring book without actually setting up a membership and joining the site, but it probably won't save your work if you have to step away from the computer.
 
2. Start uploading the pictures you'd like to include in your book, and the site will automatically transform them into black and white coloring pages. I learned that some photos work better than others--it's best to stick with close-up shots that don't have a lot of background action happening. For instance, take a look at this picture of Forrest with his Uncle Jake: it's a tight, close shot of faces without much happening in the background, and it turned into a really crisp, clean coloring page:
Make your own personalized coloring pages
And compare that to this one, which is kind of busy with all the trees in the background and grass in the foreground--it still made a decent coloring page, but it's busier, distracting, and not as crisp-looking. I'm  glad it's part of the book since he is crazy about his "Elmo and Papa" (grandma + grandpa) and will be out of his mind with excitement to color them, but you can see that certain pictures transfer to black and white outlines a little more nicely than others.
DIY Coloring Pages made from Family Photos
3. Click the "Create a Coloring Book" tab and add your pictures to your book! When it's all set up how you'd like it, you can save and download the book as a PDF.
 
4. Print your pages. Here's what I liked so much about the site Coloring Page Creator--there are quite a few websites out there that will turn your photos into coloring pages, but I loved that I could print them out right at home without their logo on the pages. Many sites automatically include a watermark or a logo or their site name printed somewhere on the page. I loved that with this site, there was nothing added to the pictures at all. Just your photo, as a coloring page, period. (And they're not paying me to recommend them, by the way--they don't know who I am--I just was very happy with the site and with the end result!)
 
5. Bind your book. If you'd like, you can certainly staple the pages together or bind them however you'd like at home (I think it would be neat to slip them into those plastic sheet protectors so it becomes, more or less, a 'dry-erase' book--kids could color right on the plastic protector with markers, then wipe it off and start over later). I headed over to Office Depot and paid about $4.50 to have my pages spiral bound with a clear, hard plastic cover. Then I just packaged it up with new markers and it's ready to stick under the Christmas tree!
 
DIY Coloring Book
 
(To make the "Who Loves Forrest?" text and image for the front, I just uploaded a photo of Forrest and my husband to PicMonkey, added the text, saved it, and then uploaded that image to Coloring Page Creator. Easy as pie, and it makes a nice cover page!)  

Hopefully I’ll finally fool him into enjoying something I made for him. As long as he doesn’t read this post, I should be okay.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Day of Silence

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Deck the Halls Features

Once again, so many awesome projects and ideas were linked up to this week’s Dare to DIY challenge! Hop over to this post if you want to visit the link list for dozens of great holiday ideas. I loved so many of them, but here are 3 of my very favorites.

DIY Seasonal Art from Andrea + Kris + Our Chaos:

Her regular art didn’t jive with her holiday colors this year, so she just whipped up new art. I can’t even imagine how this project would look if I attempted it. Wait . . . yes I can. A million points to Andrea for being awesome!

Santa Wreath from Cindi at This is My Life:

Such a cute, different take on a traditional Christmas wreath.

And I must have wreaths on the brain, because I was also really drawn to this Winter Wreath made by Naptime DIY:

I love her untraditional color choices—they look perfectly wintry, so this wreath will make great décor even after Christmas!

Thanks to everyone who participated throughout the Dare to DIY series . . . I loved the extra motivation to create during this busy time of year, the inspiration of seeing your ideas, and being able to check out your great work! Thank you all for joining in!

dare to diy 675x675 pixels (1)

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DIY Removable Lampshade Accessory

As promised, here is my little secret for making removable décor for your lampshade. What has my life come to, that the most exciting thing I’ve done recently is come up with a way to add and remove accessories to/from my lampshades? Don’t answer. I’ll just ponder that one alone for a few minutes, maybe over a bowl of ice cream. This feels petty. But it’s pretty. Pretty makes petty a little better, right?

On Friday, I shared my Christmas vignette. Here is the vignette sans-lampshade spice.

Christmas Vignette

The lampshade matches the burlap runner too closely, and it looks sorta blah when everything else has layers and pattern and texture and glitz and all. I thought it needed a little of the Christmas-y red to tie it in to the rest of the vignette. I wanted to add some felt flowers, but couldn’t think up a way to attach them that wouldn’t ruin the lampshade if I wanted to remove them after Christmas—hot glue would be a disaster when I want to take the flowers off, and even something less permanent like pins or heavy duty tape might damage the fabric shade. Then, inspiration. And a purposeful lack of google/Pinterest searching, because I’d like to just claim this idea for once without having google/Pinterest prove yet again that I never have any original thoughts.

The answer: magnets.

Use magnets to attach flowers to lampshade

I made two little flowers out of felt (tutorials abound on the interwebs for felt flowers, so I won’t contribute a new one here) and gathered up 4 magnets that have been sitting in my craft room for ages. They aren’t anything special or super powerful—just part of a big package of cheap magnets I got from the craft section at Walmart months and months ago.

Just cut a small felt circle to fit the back of your flower, and hot glue it on.

DSC_0294

Then glue one of the magnets onto that circle.

Use magnets to attach flowers to lampshade

And shazam! You’ve got yourself some easily-removable, regret-free, no-lampshades-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-Christmas-vignette lampshade spice. When you want to get rid of them or switch them our for something different, they’ll come right off with no damage whatsoever to your shade, and you can make them in various colors to fit your ever-changing décor or different seasons/holidays. Just use one of the magnets inside the lampshade, and place the flower on the outside. They’ll hold together and should stay in place just fine.

How to make removable no-harm-done lampshade flowers

Don’t you think they add a little something to the look? I think they make the lamp look like it belongs in that vignette, and not like it’s just an extra piece just floating around in there. Sitting awkwardly outside the group, trying to join the conversation. Middle school flashbacks, anyone?

Rustic Woodsy Christmas Vignette

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Dare to Deck the Halls Link Party

Here we are, the fourth and final week of Dare to DIY. I hope you guys have enjoyed it—I’ve loved having this extra bit of motivation to celebrate and get creative during the holidays.

This week’s theme is Dare to Deck the Halls, and the 4 co-hosts shared our projects on Friday.

Michelle sewed some burlap stockings for her holiday mantel:

Kim created a Noel sign and shared her outdoor décor:

Chelsea decorated her card catalog for Christmas:

And I showed off my first ever attempt at Christmas décor . . . a rustic, woodsy vignette:

A DIY Woodsy Christmas Vignette by Maybe Matilda

And now it’s your turn to share . . . did you Dare to Deck the Halls?

DIY something new to deck your halls. Did you find something in a catalog that you wish you had? Wreaths, stockings, pillows or advent calendars? Make it! Inspire us all to do the same.

You can link up on any of our four blogs listed above (Décor and the Dog, NewlyWoodwards, Two Twenty One, or right here at Maybe Matilda). Link up as many projects as you wish, as long as the posts correspond with the theme of the week. The linky below will stay live through Wednesday. This Thursday, each of us will spotlight at least 3 projects we loved from the week on our blogs. We'll also pin those projects on our shared Pinterest board.

The only rules:
1. Please follow the Dare to DIY theme of the week (this week is Dare to Deck the Halls).
2. Please link back to Dare to DIY on one of our blogs.
3. Please go to at least one other blog and comment. This is a party. So get to know a few other bloggers.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Dare to Deck the Halls: Christmas Vignette

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t do much holiday decorating. After 5 years of marriage, last year was the first time we ever had a Christmas tree (when you live in a shoebox-sized apartment and eat mostly student-loan-flavored Ramen, it’s kind of hard to get up the motivation/funds to decorate the aforementioned shoebox). But since this is our first Christmas in our new house, and we finally have some space and slightly less poorness, I knew the time had come. Time to stop being a grinch and start decorating a bit for Christmas. It. Has. Been. Awesome.

Here’s what I came up with to Christmas-ify the buffet table in my living room (and luckily, my decorating falls right in line with this coming week’s Dare to DIY theme: Deck the Halls).

Woodland Christmas Vignette

I’m awfully pleased with it. I think for this entire first year in our new house, I’ll just continue being overly-impressed with myself for doing totally average things that I’ve never done before due to lack of space/house/money/etc. Don’t burst my bubble, I like it in here.

It all started with this little reindeer . . . I snatched it up in an instagram sale from Nicole (here are her blog and shop) and decided to let it be the inspiration for all of my Christmas décor. I love that it’s modern and fun, but still has an old-fashioned, rustic, traditional feel to it. I figured that would make a good décor theme—modern woodland? Fresh rustic traditional? Do these count as theme names?

Rustic Reindeer + Coffee Filter Christmas Wreath

It looked kinda teensy and lonely on that window all by itself, so I layered it on top of a wreath that had been hanging in my bedroom. It’s one of those DIY coffee filter wreaths you’ve probably seen all over the place. I love all the texture between the ruffly wreath and the reindeer itself, and a little burlap runner on the top of the buffet adds some more homespun rustic texture as well.

DIY Posterboard and Fabric Tree Cones

I thought some little trees would fit the whole modern woodland look nicely. But those styrofoam ones at the craft store are ridiculous. I’m not paying that much just to do a DIY project. Isn’t saving money practically the whole point of doing crap yourself? It is for me, anyway. So I made these bad boys out of posterboard and covered them with fabric, and I love how they came out! Pre-made cones this large would have cost me a small fortune (goodbye Forrest’s college fund), but altogether, the 3 of these cost something like $6-10 total.

DSC_0314

On the other end of the table I’ve got a lamp and Scentsy warmer that are always there . . . I just tossed in a little basket full of ornaments, and added some felt flowers to the lampshade. I’ll show you in another post how I attached the flowers to make them completely removable without damaging the shade. I kind of feel like a genius for thinking this up. And I’m purposely not googling it, because even if someone else thought of it first, I’d like to maintain the illusion that I am creative and original, thank you very much.

Modern Woodland Christmas Theme

I sewed together a little garland made from circles punched out of an old book (after cutting and sewing so many circles, I feel like I’ve read A Farewell to Arms . . . war, a lot about someone named Catherine, blah blah blah. Literature shmiterature.) and strung it behind the wreath, along with a super-long matching garland to go around the Christmas tree (which I am apparently incapable of taking a decent picture of, so you’ll just have to take my word for it: it looks nice).

And before you even enter the house and spot my lovely vignette, I kept up the rustic theme for the front door with a homemade and homey-looking star wreath.

DIY Rustic Star Wreath

How cute is that? I’ll share more details on it later, too. I can’t say I’m a big fan of our 90s-relic front door, but I do love all the light that comes in through that goofy mottled glass portion. And it looks an awful lot better with that cute star wreath hanging there.

So in conclusion, after 5 years of a very Grinchy attitude towards decorating, I can totally see why people love Christmas decorating and put so much effort into it. This is super fun, and it’s going to be a sad, sad day when I have to take my little Christmas vignette down.

I can’t wait to see what you’ve made to deck your halls on Monday!

Make sure to stop by and visit Décor and the Dog, NewlyWoodwards, and Two Twenty One to see their Dare to DIY: Deck The Halls projects, too!

I’m linking this project up to Home Stories A to Z, Tatertots and Jello, House of Hepworths, The Shabby Creek Cottage, Tidy Mom, Liz Marie Blog, Craftomaniac, The Shabby Nest, Positively Splendid, Whipperberry, Funky Junk Interiors, Classy Clutter, Today’s Creative Blog, Uncommon Designs, Live Laugh Rowe, Miss Mustard Seed, and Serenity Now.

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