Mary Helen Leonard, author of The Natural Beauty Solution and professionally trained culinary instructor, shares recipes, projects, tips, and stories about living a more natural, handmade, and creative life with her family in Austin, Texas.
Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyWayToVeg #CollectiveBias
Looking for a way to stand out in the lunchroom crowd? I've been seeing a lot of blog posts lately featuring bento bags, cute little lunch sacks that tie shut from the top. Bento bags are Japanese in origin, inspired by the fascinating art of Furoshiki. Similar projects are used to wrap gifts and to hold or transport things in and around the home - in the most beautiful way possible!
Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CreateWithCommand #CollectiveBias
The warm colors of autumn make it the perfect season for handmade decor. Natural materials, like leaves, branches, and acorns make for classic yet compelling subjects - especially with the addition of a little creativity.
This project uses gold and gray craft paint to embellish simple paper leaves. The result is a simple, but modern looking piece of artwork that adds a touch of wistful autumn spirit to its surroundings.
I used paper leaves because here in Austin we aren't blessed with much colorful foliage this time of year. Paper leaves are also a bit easier to work with and come in bright, predictable colors!
If you have them handy, I highly encourage the use of natural leaves for this project. They do tend to be a little more fragile, but their natural beauty is utterly magical and totally worth the extra effort.
If you are using natural leaves, try to pick ones that are thick, small, and sturdy as they will be the easiest to work with.
Autumn Leaf Mobile
1 10-inch wooden embroidery hoop
1 skein cream/gold yarn
1 spool cream colored embroidery thread
Eight leaves (real or paper)
Gold craft paint
Gray craft paint
1 wooden bead
1 3m Command™ Small or Medium Wire Toggle Hook (or Command™ Ceiling Hook)
Paint the tips of your leaves with gray and gold paint. I used gold on half of my leaves and gray on the others.
Wrap embroidery hoop tightly with yarn. Start by fastening a tight knot to the hoop, then wrap the yarn tightly around the hoop, finishing with a second knot at the end.
When the paint on your leaves has dried, use a mini hole punch to punch two holes in the top of each leaf. If you are using natural leaves (or fragile paper), place a tiny piece of clear tape over the area before punching your holes.
Cut pieces from the spool of thread in the following lengths: 28", 25", 22", 19", 16", 13", 10", and 7". (8 total.) Tie one end of each thread to a leaf.
Tie the other ends of the strings to the hoop at 3" intervals. Snip off any extra thread from the mobile.
Cut 3 20" pieces of thread from the spool. Tie the threads to the hoop at 8" intervals, spacing them as evenly as you can. Thread the ends of these threads together through the wooden bead and tie a loose knot to bind them together.
I used 3m Command™ Brand Hooks to hang my mobile. This was a really perfect brand for me to partner with since I truly do use their products all the time.
I love how 3m Command™ Brand Hooks and Strips allow me to re-invent my decor without damaging my walls. This way, I can change up decor for every season, or whenever the mood strikes me.
If I'm feeling creative and I want to craft up a new piece of wall art, a seasonal garland, or feature a favorite photo, I can quickly re-position anything on the wall to make room. Using damage-free 3m Command™ Brand products makes switching up my home's look an easy and painless process.
The best part? No spackle, no touch-up paint, no damaged walls!
Choose a spot to hang your mobile. I used the outer edge of a floating shelf to suspend my mobile over a dresser. Use a wall hook to hang it as I've shown here, or use a ceiling hook to suspend your mobile from the ceiling.
( Keep in mind that 3m Command™ Brand Hooks work best on smooth, finished indoor surfaces. )
Clean the area you wish to place your 3m Command™ Brand Hook and adhere it to the surface using these instructions from 3m.
You may need to wiggle the bead up and down a little in order to make sure your mobile is level. Adjust as needed, then enjoy!
I shopped for this project at my local Target. Truth be told, a good deal of our autumn decor was not made by hand, but in fact purchased at Target. Their seasonal stuff is dangerously cute. You can find a huge assortment of 3m Command™ Brand Hooks and Strips in the home improvement section at Target.
How are you decorating your home for autumn? I'd love to see what you are working on! Share your photos with me by email, or by tagging @MaryMakesGood on social media.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for helping support Mary Makes Good!
Decorating for fall is so much fun. Truth be told, it's my favorite season when it comes to decorations. I love the warm colors, the mellow spicy scents, and the natural themes of autumn. Leaves, feathers, turkeys - fall festivities really line up with everything I already adore. That makes working on seasonal art projects fun and easy.
Another thing that helps keep fall crafting simple is a good craft kit. I picked up this set of wooden garland and a package of foil transfers on my most recent Target run thinking they would be just right for a quick crafting session. The wooden feathers are already cut, sanded, and ready to go - all prepped and ready for color.
I used sponge-tipped markers to color my feathers in a pretty sunset ombre pattern. This same technique could be achieved with watercolor paints as well. Colored pencil, crayon, or tempera paint could also be used to color this garland, but the effect would look very different.
To get the graduated tone you see here, just start with the lightest color (in this case that would be yellow) and color in about 2/3 of the feather. Apply the next deepest shade (orange) to the bottom half of the feather, overlapping some of the yellow. Use you fingertips or a cotton swap to blend the colors a little while the ink is still wet. Last, apply just a small touch of your darkest color (red) to the very bottom of your feather. Again, blend the color a little before it dries.
The last step in decorating the feathers is applying the foil transfer. This kit from Target is very easy to use. Just cut from the transfer sheet using a pair of scissors, remove the paper backing, then lay it (sticky side down) over the wooden feather. Rub the transfer with a popsicle stick, then gently peel away the plastic. You'll need to remove any excess foil from the edges or hollowed out portions of your feathers. You can do this by rubbing those spots gently with your fingers.
String the feathers onto one long piece of twine to create a garland. Or, you can make individual hanging ornaments by cutting the twine into 5-inch pieces and tying the pieces of string to individual feathers. That's a great way to make holiday gifts or gorgeous place cards for a holiday table.
Even little Charlie got in on the decorating fun. I think I might like his feathers best of all.
CC has always been an inquisitive child, but lately his curiosity has really taken off. He inspects everything with such scrutiny. When he discovers anything resembling a switch, button, or dial he becomes obsessed. Scott and I decided to create a little busy board for him so that he could push, pull, turn, and jingle to his heart's content. We bought a large circular hunk of wood to use as the base, then filled it up with odds and ends from the hardware store.
The hardest part was probably drilling out hollows for the light switches to sit into. Otherwise it was just a matter of drilling small holes and screwing in screws. We cut small pieces of wood to create little doors complete with tiny hinges, knobs, and fasteners. I hid stickers behind the doors to make opening them up a bit more fun.
All in all we probably spent too much on the project - around forty dollars. In hindsight, we could have saved a bit of cash by using a plain piece of plywood for the backing or picking up more of the hardware at a dollar store. We did get one portion of the project for free though. It turns out that the key-making station at Lowes has a whole box full of dud keys that are free for the taking! We picked out four keys from the little collection of misfits and added a forgotten spare from a former car that we had lying around to give CC his very own keychain.
Did he like it? You bet he did. He liked it so much that he had to check out every inch, including the underside. After flipping it over he began dragging it around the room to use as a wobbly surfboard-step stool combo. He's crafty alright. Our next step will be attaching this sucker to the wall.
Would you like to make your own busy board? This is a great project because you can really go any direction you like with it. You can include the gizmos that your kiddo would like best and keep the rest as fancy or as simple as you like. Here are some links to help get you started. You can also check out my Busy Board Pinboard on Pinterest for more ideas.