DIY Polymer Clay Hearts

DIY- Polymer Clay Valentine’s Day Ornaments

I have a small ornament tree that is perfect for year round holiday decorating. I love the idea of hanging small ornaments on it, but hate buying them for all of the various holidays. So, I wondered how could I make Valentine’s ornaments for a nominal cost. Perusing the holy grail of craft ideas, Pinterest, I found polymer clay. That’s all I needed for inspiration.

So, after a quick trip to my favorite craft store, I was ready to get my hands a little dirty.  I set out to create these super cute Valentine’s Day ornaments.

Supplies 

To make them you will need one small package of Sculpey III ®, a heart shaped cookie cutter, a doily, ribbon, a knife and a small dowel for rolling out the clay. I bought the starter tool set for polymer clay, it was all of $10 bucks and I figured I would get a lot of use out of it.  I also picked up wax paper to roll the clay out on.

polymer_clay_hearts

Directions for Polymer Clay Ornaments

Take a little of the clay in your hand and warm it up by playing with it. Think of it as play dough.  Then, place it on the wax paper and roll it out to about a ¼-inch thickness.  Next, place the doily on top of the clay and press it into the clay with the dowel.  This will leave a pattern on the clay.  When you have the pattern the way you want it, cut out a heart with the cookie cutter.  Once I had the heart cut out, I took one of the tools to place two small holes in the tops of the heart to run a ribbon through.

To finish the ornament, bake it in a 250-degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Any longer and it may burn; any less and it may not cure properly.

polymer clay ornaments

Notes

Polymer clay is durable and does not necessarily need to be sealed. It’s plastic clay and is said to hold up to the wear, weathering and washing.  Still, you may choose to seal your polymer clay creations.  To seal it, brush it with a thin layer of a product called Varathane. I would recommend not letting your kids do this part.

For more info check out these resources:  The Blue Bottle Tree and Waterlily Charms

Container Gardens

Selecting Plants for Container Gardens

An outdoor room can be so much more than the furniture and rugs that grace a patio. Like any indoor room, accessories can make or break the space. Creating container gardens for the patio can be a colorful option to completing a look. It can be overwhelming with so many plants available at the nursery.  So, I asked a local horticulturist for a few tips.

Linda Worle, owner of Flowers and Other Things, a landscape and gardening service in Tarpon Springs, Florida, says “Container gardening offers a wonderful way of adding interest to a patio, entryways and pool areas.” There are many containers that can be used, from large terra-cotta pots to glazed ceramics. If a vertical garden is an option, try re-purposing a wood pallet.

Selecting plants for container gardens

Plant Compatibility

She suggests starting with plant compatibility.  For instance, water requirements, light requirements and the PH of the soil as well as drainage all play a role in selecting the right plants for a patio. You can find the find requirements of any plant on a tag included in the pot at the garden center.  As you select plants make sure they all share the same sun light needs and watering needs. Placing plants that need full sun with plants that need partial sun is asking for disaster.

tips for container gardens

Color palettes and plants

In any design project, a favorite color is a great starting point to build on. Beginning with a color palette allows for an easier visit at to the nursery, as most plants come in a wide variety of colors. Mix and match pinks, reds and yellows with a a few neutral whites to create a beautiful display.

Worle says, “Almost anything can be used in a container garden as long as its location is suitable for the plantings with proper light and watering.”  She recommends Begonias, Chinese Hat, or Cape Honeysuckle for a container gardens that offer a little height. For lower plants, she suggests day lilies, cosmos, Canna lilies and lxora.

lantana flowers

If small children or pets are in the home, it is important to select nonpoisonous plants. Worle, suggests, “Plumbago, blue flowers provide color all summer long. Lantana comes in an array of different colors including:  red, yellow, pink/yellow, white and purple… offering color in the garden year round.  The flowers will enter a short winter rest and come back in spring, as long as they have been properly cared for, i.e.,fertilized and pruned”

Following these simple tips and suggestions will let the home gardener create safe, colorful and well suited gardens.

(This post was previously published on Examiner.com)

tips to picking a coffee table

Tips to Selecting a Coffee Table

A coffee table can make or break a room. It can be the statement piece, or it can fade into the design. It is the one accessory a living room must have, in my opinion. Choosing the right coffee table can be an overwhelming experience for some people, though. On the other hand, armed with a few tips and tricks, the process can be down right fun.

How to select a coffee table

Start by knowing what it is you wish to accomplish with your coffee table. Will it be a statement piece, or be more functional? Doe it need to be fancy, or do you want something more simple?  Does the shape or material matter to you, if so how much does it matter?

octagon coffee table

Shape

Coffee tables come in all shapes and sizes. The most common seem to be rectangles. By no means are they the only shape to choose from. There are squares, ovals and rounds. Are there children or pets to think of?  If so, a round or oval table would be best. There are no sharp edges to injure oneself on during a fall or a bump into it.  If you opt for a round or oval shape, make sure you have 30 inches between the coffee table and the television console. Of course if the TV is wall mounted, you will still need to have walk way clearance.

coffee_table_storage

 

Functionality

What functionality is required? Will it house the remote and kid’s toys or just lay books and magazines on it? Some coffee tables have hidden storage, or built in display cases for artwork. In most cases, the functionality is being able to simply set down a drink or a small plate.

coffee_table_tips

Scale

How long is the couch?  Pick a coffee table that is the same scale as the couch. For example, A long narrow couch will look well paired with a long and narrow coffee table. A long narrow table paired with an over-sized couch will look dwarfed in comparison. One rule of thumb is to keep a large scale piece with a large scale piece, provided the room is well suited to large scale furnishings.  Scale is simply the idea that each piece has equal visual weight when compared to each other. You don’t want to pair a delicate love seat with a heavy industrial metal table.

contemporary_glass_coffee table

Material

Then there’s the question of material. Coffee tables come in wood, metal, glass tops and acrylic. The material you opt for will largely depend on your style. Wood is considered traditional, while metal and glass tops fall more into the modern to contemporary style ranges.

Think long and hard about going with a glass top coffee table. Sure they look fabulous and like acrylic coffee tables they visually open up a space. Nate Berkus, though, learned that kids and glass don’t mix well.  His daughter Poppy recently shattered the glass top coffee table in his bedroom causing shards of glass to go everywhere. All she did was innocently slammed a toy down on top.

eclectic_coffee_table

Alternative Options 

If your style is a bit more eclectic, don’t feel the need to opt for a traditional coffee table. There are wonderful pieces that double nicely as a coffee table in just about any eclectically decorated space. I love the idea of turning an old steamer trunk into a coffee table, as long as it isn’t higher than the couch. Another option is to use a cedar chest, or a small grouping of nesting tables.  An over-sized ottoman offers both a place to leave the remote and a tray of magazines, but also provides additional seating when hosting a party.  In a small space, grouping together several garden stools will give the room a casual feel.

Once the needed functionality, scale and design are understood, shopping for a coffee table becomes easier.  Some of the best places to find coffee tables locally are area thrift stores, consignment shops and antique dealers.

A Teal Pumpkin for Halloween

I have been sensitive to those with food allergies since we moved into the neighborhood.  My typical approach has been to have both non-peanut candies and peanut candies to pass out to ghouls and goblins that knock on the door.  This year, I am joining the Teal Pumpkin movement.  I’m inspired to do this for a couple of reasons.  One, toys last a bit longer than candy.  Secondly, not every child can enjoy candy whether it’s a food allergy or a lifestyle preference of a parent.

Let’s face it, it’s fun to dress up for Halloween, but not much fun if you trick or treat and have to toss your loot when you get home due to a food allergy.  That’s where the Teal Pumpkin Project comes in.  It is a wonderful movement started by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) that encourages the giving away of small nonfood trinkets.

I first heard about the project last year when I was blogging for a certified nutritionist.  It’s been around for a couple of years and it looks to be catching on more commercially now.  I spotted many reasonably priced toys in the Halloween section of Target this year.  Their options were impressive, from cups of slime to monster themed erasers.  I scooped up small containers of bubbles to give out this year.  I may still pass out some candy, but rest assured if I do, it will be nut free.

If you would like to get involved, simply place a teal pumpkin or two outside your door to let all the ghouls and goblins know you are passing out allergy friendly treats.  You can turn this into a family affair by having your kids paint plastic pumpkins in shades of teal and decorate however, they wish to. Use the pumpkins again next year as the project grows with more and more families supporting the project.

menswear_decor

Menswear Inspired Decor

Have you noticed more and more men pairing window pane plaids, or gingham checks with bold solid colored ties? It seems they have adopted the pairing of casual yet masculine patterns, rather than the tired look of a solid or striped shirt with a busier tie pattern. Since fashion sets the tone for interior decor, lets’ follow this lead and look at mixing masculine patterns for a gentlemen’s den.

Bennett Check Rod Pocket Curtains with Back Tabs
                                                                                          photo source

Houndstooth, window pane plaids, checks, or pinstripes, all of these are thought of as masculine patterns. They offer strength and steadiness, unlike a feminine floral pattern which is softer.  Incorporating these patterns in to a man cave, or men’s home office sets a rugged powerful tone to the room. But how do you pair these patterns for a cohesive pulled together look?

Pacific Heights Transformations

The trick is to stay within a color family and stick to the color scheme. Brown, beige, gray, and cream are fabulous neutral choices that allow you to bring in any accent colors you may like. When picking out fabric for the window treatments, upholstery or accent pillows, I like to keep the number of patterns to about three in coordinating colors. Using more than that,  can look a little busy and chaotic.

Presidio Heights Project
     Photo source

Another pit fall is not including solid colors into the plan.  A room filled with all pattern can appear dizzying, ans chaotic. Solids allow your eye to rest and not be barraged with pattern all at once. A solid color peppered in with coordinating patterns calms the room down a bit and makes it more pleasing to the eye. Pull a color from the patterns and run with it. Use it for a pillow or two, let it stand alone as the color of the couch, or opt to use it as window treatment.