DIY fabric pumpkins (plus a giveaway winner)

Before the Christmas train officially leaves the station next week, I thought I’d share a quick tutorial on the fabric pumpkins I made a few days ago to go along with my Thanksgiving decor.

I started with an extra napkin I had left over from the one-hour napkin curtains I made a few years back. You don’t have to use a napkin for this project; you can use just about any piece of scrap fabric you might have lying around.

I also grabbed a handful of polyester fiberfill that I stole from an old pillow in the basement.

Fabric-and-polyfil

I laid out the napkin, good-side down, and put a ball of fiberfill in the center. Starting at one corner, I began wrapping the fabric over the fiberfill, creating folds as I went along.

Fitting-fabricAt the halfway point, I hand-stitched the top to secure the folds I’d created so far.

Sewing-fabric-around-pumpkinNext, I took a limb from the backyard and trimmed off a small piece to serve as my pumpkin “stem.”

Cutting-limbs

I jammed the stick in the open hole at the top of the pumpkin, then continued folding and stitching the fabric together around it.

Sewing-around-limb

To hide the wonky-looking stitches at the top, I took a piece of burlap garland, folded it in half, cut a small hole in the center, and fit it over the stem.

Cutting-burlap

Finally, I ruched (just a fancy word for bunching up) ;) the burlap by pulling a bit of twine, threaded through a fat needle, through the length of the garland.

Bunching-burlap

Done!

Finished-pumpkin

I made a second pumpkin out of some scrap fabric so I could display a pair of them on the rocking chair on our front porch.

To prevent my pumpkins from getting weather-damaged, I sprayed them with a coat of NeverWet®.

NeverWetThis product repels liquid, keeping surfaces dry and clean. I love this stuff because it dries clear without any noticeable finish, and essentially turns my “indoor” fabric into “outdoor” fabric.

Pumpkins-on-porchWhat do you think of my makeshift Thanksgiving pumpkins?

Now before I say, “Sayonara,” I wanted to announce the winners of the Xcluder Rodent and Pest Barrier Kit:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Special thanks to Rust-Oleum® for providing, at my request, the NeverWet I needed to complete this pumpkin project. 

The hallway molding big finish

Like a lot of folks out there, I’m a great starter but a lousy finisher. Case in point: the hallway molding project I began last winter. Yea … until last night at 10 p.m., it was still not done.

But thanks to the BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish initiative going on right now, I was pretty much forced to get my tail in gear and get it done yesterday. The funny thing? It only took me one day to do it. I’m constantly amazed at how I will literally stare at something and stress about it for an entire year rather than just do the one day of work it takes to get the project finished. Seriously, I should probably see a therapist.

So this project started, ahem, last February, after we put in the hickory floors. I wanted to add some decorative molding to “class up” the entry hallway. I painted the lower portion of the walls in a semi-gloss white paint that matches our window and door trim. (In hindsight, when I do a project like this again, I’ll switch to Valspar’s soft gloss finish; it’s more forgiving than semi-gloss.)

I topped off the strip of white paint with chair rail molding, painted the same color.

Hickory-floor-hallway

And that is where the work stopped until last week when I accepted the BLACK+DECKER challenge.

I bought a handful of 8-foot strips of “picture frame” molding from my local lumber company. I used my paint sprayer to quickly spray them with two coats of Valspar’s paint and primer in one.

Spraypainting-molding

After that, I asked for help from my math genius husband. He figured out where each “box” should go and drew the templates on the walls. Each box was to start five inches in from the nearest edge or piece of molding next to it. I simply used his penciled templates to determine the molding cuts I needed to make on my miter saw. Every piece but the wonky one next to the staircase required a simple, 45-degree angle cut at each corner.

Picture-frame-molding-extreme-closeupI attached each piece of molding to the wall using a nail gun loaded with Brad nails.

Finally, I caulked the nail holes and used my paint sprayer to give the walls and molding a professional-looking top coat of the white paint. I taped off everything first.

Taping-off-wall

I also taped craft paper to the floor. A few spots of paint overspray still got on the floor. But I quickly scrubbed it off; no permanent harm done.

Here’s what my new, finally finished, hallway molding looks like:

Hallway-molding-dining-room-side

Hallway-molding-door-side

Hallway-molding-dining-room-side-closeup

Notice how I had to cut around the air vents.

Hallway-molding-closeup

Here’s the wall before the molding:

Finished-stenciled-coat-rack-2

And after:

Finished-hallway-molding

So … what DIY project do you need to finish this holiday season?

BLACK+DECKER has launched a movement to get all your unfinished home projects moving again. You can join them for the opportunity to win $10,000 cash and products. Plus, they might put you and your finished project on a billboard right in the middle of Times Square! (I would seriously make a trip to New York if my project made it on a billboard!) So while our family may never notice that we finished hanging the molding, millions of others will! :)

For this campaign, there are weekly prizes, and one grand prize of $10,000.

BLACK+DECKER weekly prize packages are comprised of one of each of the following:
• BDCDE120C 20V MAX* Lithium Drill/Driver with AutoSense™
• BDEMS600 Mouse Sander
• BDCS40BI 4V MAX* Lithium Pivot Screwdriver
• BDCDCMT120 Matrix 20V MAX* Lithium Drill/Driver
• LCS1020 20V MAX* Chainsaw
• BDCMTRS Matrix Reciprocating Saw Attachment
• BDCMTI Matrix Impact Driver Attachment

To enter, visit the campaign landing page, and enter your first name, last initial, email, city, state and phone number. Then upload a photo of yourself and your completed project. Or you could just head over to the landing page and look at the gallery of finished projects to get inspiration.

Please note: The BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish contest ends Dec. 28.

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Special thanks to BLACK+DECKER for sponsoring this post and inspiring me to FINALLY finish this project! As always, all opinions (and sweat equity) are 100 percent mine. 

4 ways to take care of yourself this holiday season

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Vaseline. All opinions are 100% mine.

Every year, right before Thanksgiving, I take a deep breath, give myself a little pep talk about how, “You can do it!” and prepare to hook myself up to a continuous, intravenous supply of caffeine until Jan. 2.

This year, however, I’m vowing to hop off the holiday hamster wheel for a few moments to experience the true meaning of the season, and to take care of myself for once.

Today I thought I’d share four specific ways I’m doing that right now. You should try them, too!

1. Stop doing something that’s bad for you. 

We all have those little things we do every day that we know we shouldn’t do. (There is time to tackle the big things after Dec. 31, right?) ;) For me, it’s texting while driving. In an effort to be a safer driver, I’ve decided to ditch the mobile distractions. Maybe I’ll listen to some Christmas music instead …

2. Start doing something that’s good for you. 

Again, these are baby steps … no added stress allowed. In the colder months, I suffer from severely dry skin that becomes itchy and painful. In an effort to improve my problem and pamper myself a little, I recently took the Vaseline 5-day challenge.

I received a Vaseline healing kit in the mail that included Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Fragrance Free Lotion, dry skin test strips, a personalized mug, GODIVA hot cocoa and marshmallows.

I’ve used the lotion regularly over the past week and have noticed a difference in the way my skin feels. The proof is in the strips.

It’s amazing what a little lotion, jewelry and polish can do for my DIY project-ravaged hands.

Vaseline Intensive Care Lotions contain healing micro-droplets of Vaseline Jelly to deeply moisturize dry skin. The Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Fragrance Free Lotion is clinically proven to heal dry skin in five days and keep it healed for three weeks. The 10-oz. bottle I got is about $4.99 at your favorite mass retailer.

3. Express thankfulness. 

I’ve always found it a bit ironic that families spend Thanksgiving Day expressing gratitude for their overflowing, abundant blessings, then immediately rush out the following day to stuff their shopping carts full of more stuff.

This year, I’m spending more than just one day focusing on gratitude. When I can spare 15 minutes, I love heading outside with a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa. I chill out in my Adirondack chair; enjoy the crisp, fall weather; and express thankfulness for this extraordinary life. It’s one way I’m avoiding getting sucked into the holiday shopping vortex.

Aren’t these marshmallows the cutest?

4. Spend one day doing nothing. 

One Saturday a few weeks back, I did nothing. And I can’t wait to do it again. On my “do-nothing” day, I slept in. I didn’t make the bed or do any laundry or dishes. I lounged around and watched movies and played games with my family. I flipped through home magazines and catalogs. My do-nothing day was glorious and therapeutic. Some of my most creative ideas and favorite memories have come as a result of do-nothing days.

The holidays can be hectic and stressful; I certainly don’t have to remind you of that. But I hope you’ll consider trying a few (or all four) of these ideas. They will help to give you the meaningful, healthful and joyful holiday season we all crave.

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