Summer Tag Banner Tutorial!

Having a mantle to decorate has been such fun for me this past year since we moved into our house! When I took down our winter banner and left the hooks blank for a while, the boys decided they would take a turn at sprucing up the area…

Boys Banner

Not really my style, but they are creative! I did want to get them involved with making our summer banner, and our brand new Cricut from Staples was just the thing to help us!

Cricut

I’ve been wanting this bad boy – the Cricut Expression – for a while now and we are having so much fun using it! I’m really looking forwards to using it for school projects this next school year as well – I have lots of ideas!

But let’s get back to this summer tag banner so you can make your own!

Summer Tag Banner

What you’ll need:

  • Cricut machine {or other die-cut machine or scissors!}
  • Colorful paper – we used construction paper and magazines! Scrapbook paper works really well, but we used what we had!
  • Mod Podge or glue
  • Twine or string – whatever you want to use to string up the tags!

What to do:

Choose a tag shape for the base of your banner. The tag reminded us of travel and we do a lot of that in the summer, so it seemed like a good fit! The boys chose yellow paper because of the summer sun! We used the tags on the Plantin School Book Cartridge and made them 6 inches tall.

Cricut Cartridge

The Cricut Expression came with two cartridges – the basic font one shown above and one with one designs called Accent Essentials. There are tons of other cartridges to buy, but we’re having fun with these for now! With three boys in the house, I might have to get this All Sports cartridge someday!

After cutting out your tags – we made six for the letters of SUMMER and two for decorative tags at each end – do a test letter of your biggest letter to figure out a font size. We used the M as our test letter since it was the widest. This part will take a little experimentation.

Cricut and Magazine Paper

We also decided to use old magazines for the letters. Honestly, it probably wasn’t the best choice because they didn’t cut well every time, but I had the boys pick colorful outdoor scenes out of the magazines to give the banner another fun dimension! I really like how the letters turned out once they did work! You could pick fun summer scrapbook paper to achieve a similar look without the difficult cutting!

After cutting out the letters, the boys chose a couple of sun patterns from the Accent Essentials cartridge. I think they made cute book ends to the letters! You can spruce yours up however you want!

Cricut Sun

The letters need to be attached to the tags now. I opted for Mod Podge, but glue would work just fine. To make sure the banner would keep well for possible later use, I also laminated each tag, but this is not necessary. I just like to laminate.

The last step is to string those letters up! String, twine, yarn – any of these would work. I have a ball of twine I’ve been using for all of my banners and I like the earthy look, especially for this outdoor-inspired banner!

And voila! Here is our finished project…

Summer Banner Up Close

I loved that we worked on this together – the boys were able to pick out paper and designs and push buttons on the Cricut while I dealt with the actual loading of the machine, Mod Podge, and banner hanging! It makes me smile every time we walk in the room!

A few words about the Cricut:

Easy Cricut

I was actually quite surprised at how EASY it was to get everything set up and running {of course, that button has been pushed to death by the boys – and maybe the adults as well}! I had read some negative reviews, but I’ve loved working with the Cricut Expression! We’ve found lots of different ways to use it and it has performed very well at cutting everything we’ve tried! I’m thinking about ordering some iron-on paper to make some fun t-shirts for the boys!

Staples carries a wide selection of Cricut items – from machines to cartridges to replacement blades and mats! And I’ve been really happy with the customer service I’ve received from them, both in the store and online! They’re fun to tweet with as well at @Staples!

What kind of summer decorating have you done?

Full disclosure: Staples.com provided me with these products for review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own. Feel free to shop their entire line of crafting and back to school supplies online.

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Big, Beautiful {Paper} Snowflakes! {Tutorial}

No real snow around here yet, so the boys and I spent the morning making different kinds of paper snowflakes! We did some of your basic fold-and-cut variety, but then I decided to get a little craftier.

My friend Donna made some beautiful snowflakes for a MOPS Christmas party a few years back and I knew I wanted a few of them hanging up in the house this winter! They were really much simpler than I remembered – I think you’ll have fun with them!

Here’s what you need:

Supplies: Paper, scissors, tape and/or stapler

I used regular copy paper, but you coud you wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, anything! The important thing is to have six equal-sized SQUARE pieces of paper. If your paper is NOT already a square, it’s easy to make the squares…

After you have your square pieces, fold the paper in half once to make a triangle, then in half once more to make a smaller triangle. Just two folds!

Now to cut…

You will be making three cuts, spaced equally, cutting PARALLEL to the longest side of the triangle.

Start at the folded short side and move towards the open short side. DO NOT cut all the way through – I left about a 1/2 inch uncut.

This is what it will look like after you cut, first while folded and then unfolded…

Pretty painless so far, right? Let’s keep moving!

You’ll need tape for this next part. Some tutorials mention glue with this project, but I think it is too messy and doesn’t dry fast enough!

Starting with the smallest square, bring the two points together and tape so they form a roll.

Now, FLIP YOUR PAPER OVER. Do the same thing with the next square, bringing the two points together and taping them.

FLIP YOUR PAPER AGAIN. Tape the next square in a roll.

And, you guessed it, FLIP THE PAPER one last time and tape the points of the outside square in a roll.

This is what it will look like when you are done…

Doesn’t that look fancy?! Way to go! You’ve completed one part! Now do everything I just said five more times!

{I’ll wait while you finish.}

You should have six “arms” of the snowflake now – time to put them together! This is where I prefer to staple because tape doesn’t get all of the layers as well…

Line up the points of three of the “arms” and staple them together! Do the same with the other three “arms.”

The two sets of three now need to be joined to become one snowflake…

I used the stapler for this part, as well as for the last step…

Each arm needs to be joined to the arms on either side of it to achieve the full, fanned out look! Notice in the picture above how I’ve just brought the sides of two together – put another staple there, repeat all the way around, and here you go…

Big J proudly helped me along the way – folding this, holding that, and so on – so I let him show it off to all of you!

I realize it may seem like a lot of directions, but this was our second one of the day and it went super fast! It really isn’t that hard and gets even easier the more times you do it!

The first one we made has already found its place hanging near the Christmas tree…

I think I’ll whip up a few more to hang around the house because they are Just. So. Pretty. And can you imagine them made with some sparkly wrapping paper?! Gorgeous!

Make a few this weekend and turn your home into an INDOOR winter wonderland!

{Please let me know if you have any questions – I tried to be as clear as possible, but I’m happy to help if anything is confusing!}

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Family Thanks Banner! {Tutorial}

I’m enjoying having a mantle to decorate this year! Fall is the first season I’ve really taken advantage of decking out this area.

I want the mantle to be a beautiful place that brings joy and inspiration to our family!

I had the boys help me make a THANKS banner to hang to celebrate the coming holiday. It was so easy and the boys love having their artwork hanging above the fireplace!


Here’s what you need:

  • White cardstock
  • Watercolors and paintbrushes OR finger paints
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn or string

The first step is the easiest and the most fun – have the kids paint all over the cardstock! The boys did watercolors, but younger children could easily do this with finger paints! I had them use only “fall” colors – orange, red, yellow, brown, and green – but color choice is totally up to you!

For the word THANKS, we painted three papers and then cut each paper in half.

Draw block letters BACKWARDS on the back of each half sheet of paper.

You could draw the letters lightly on the front with a pencil, but I wanted to avoid all pencil lines, so I chose the back.

Your letters will look something like this when they are cut out! I love the colors!

Use a hole punch to put two holes at the top of each letter.

Thread yarn or string through the holes of each letter.

Make sure the letters are in the correct order before you start! One of my kids had been looking through the letters and I almost put them on completely out of order!

All that’s left is to hang it on your mantle or anywhere you choose in your house…

A beautiful family handmade reminder to give thanks and THAT brings me joy!

{Let’s just forget the fact that I had to pull down one of the pumpkins from the mantle just before this picture because it was completely rotten, ok?! Thanks.}

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I also printed out Ann Voskamp’s beautiful {and FREE} Thanks Giving Tree printable to reflect on gratitude this month. I look forward to reading the verses and sharing thanks with our family on the leaves she has provided!

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How do you decorate for Thanksgiving?

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Button Monogram Art!

Our new house is so different from our old house in many ways. One of those is the number of spaces to decorate! Coming up with art or decor for the various shelves and walls can get very expensive, so I’ve turned to my bloggy friends and Pinterest for help!

I loved Myra’s button monogram tutorial and had everything in the house to give it a try which made it FREE! I love free!

Instead of tracing a letter like she did, I printed one off in grayscale.

Then I started adding buttons, noting her suggestion to cover the outside first if possible! Just keep layering until all of the letter is filled in – you really can’t screw this up!

I went with neutral colors and a few red buttons for a little “pop of color!” The neutral palette means I can easily move it round the house if I so choose!

I put the finished product in an 8×10 frame without the glass and placed it on a shelf on our landing!

I love how it looks, especially with my book wreath above it!

Isn’t that fun?! Make sure you check out Myra’s tutorial for more details!

Now, back to searching Pinterest for more inexpensive decor ideas!

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Don’t miss this great deal from What’s in the Bible?!

The boys and I are headed out for a little road trip to my parents’ house for the weekend while The Hubby is on call, and this road trip calls for a What’s in the Bible? marathon! We’ll be watching Volumes 6, 7, and 8 for sure! We love these DVDs so much! {Yes, I actually laugh out loud at them on a regular basis AND learn things!}

You can get any of the What’s in the Bible? DVDs for just $10 each right now! AND when you click on use these links to purchase through, you will get 20% off as well! You may never get a better price on these DVDs! This deal only lasts until July 26th, so get your DVDs now!

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Fourth of July Fruity Ice

I found some star ice cube trays in Target dollar aisle {LOVE that place!} this weekend and I knew I would find something fun to do with them for this 4th of July!

A little water in each star…

A berry in each star {I used raspberries & blueberries – perfect size!}…

And look at these cute party ice cubes!

Throw a few in a glass of Sprite or lemonade…

And you’re ready for a refreshing, festive Fourth of July drink!

Now, hurry over to Target to get your own star ice cube trays before tomorrow!

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What kinds of patriotic food or drink do you enjoy for Independence Day?

I’m linking up with Tasty Tuesday over at Beauty and Bedlam today! Join the fun!

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The Great Water Balloon Alternative

Broken water balloon pieces, be gone!

I really do think the idea of water balloon fights is fun, but I DO NOT like picking up the pieces afterwards. I know, I’m such a party pooper.

But alas, I have found an alternative and the water fun can commence!

Sponge Balls!

I saw this idea on Pinterest, but none of the links I found had tutorials, so I made my own!

Here is what you need:

Colorful sponges, twine or string, & scissors

And here is what you do:

While the sponges are damp, cut them into strips the long way. Make sure they are damp when you do this – dry sponges are not fun to work with! You can cut the sponges in fourths or fifths or sixths – it’s up to you! I did some in fourths and some in sixths – they all turned out fine!

Pick up eight to ten sponge strips and hold them in the middle.

Use a piece of string or twine to tie the sponge strips together TIGHTLY. The tighter the better. And make sure you knot it well!

Trim the string or twine and you’re done!

Stick the sponges in a bowl of water…

And let the water games begin! We used these for Little J’s backyard birthday party this past weekend and the kids LOVED them! Sponge balls would be really fun to take in the pool as well!

Grab some inexpensive sponges and make your own sponge balls today!

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What are your favorite water activities with your kiddos?

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