DIY Christmas Decor: Marble and Gold Letters

So, I told you marble contact paper was addicting. 
Last week was Thanksgiving, and despite the contentions and deep divides around us, I hope you had peace around your Thanksgiving dinner table, and you were able to be truly grateful for those with you and your many blessings.
I think “peace” is especially applicable this Christmas season. As Advent begins, the season of expectant waiting, it’s a reminder that the Prince of Peace did come to this world as a baby, and live with us. He’s the Healer, and ultimate King.
Also, I’m writing this post before Thanksgiving, and I may or may not be listening to Christmas music. Ok, I’m definitely listening to Christmas music. 
Have you seen the Christmas decorations at Target? I fell in love with the marble Christmas trees. Marble matches everything, and is so classy.
I took that marble idea, and expanded on it for these marble and gold letters!
You’ll Need: 

Step 1: Fold your contact paper so that right sides are together, like it is in the image above. 

Step 2: Then trace and cut out your letters. You may need to use a craft knife to cut out some shapes, depending on what letters you choose. “JOY” would have been a bit easier!

Step 3: Peel and stick the contact paper letters to the cardboard letters. Smooth out any bubbles under the surface. This part is the most fun!

Step 4: Paint the edges of the letters gold. I’d tried to use my copper contact paper, but without success. Paint is much easier, and I love the finished result!
Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s now acceptable for me to take down my fall decorations and bust out the Christmas stuff. These will find a new home on my mantle. 
(And if you like that painting … I made that too, and I can post a tutorial for that also. The premise behind it is so easy, anyone could do it.)
So bust out the Christmas music with no shame, and get to spreading that Christmas cheer! Peace on earth, good will to men!

DIY: Make A Faux Marble and Copper Mousepad

In the last post on our office, we were still using a kitchen table and black desk. Someday I’ll have the finishing touches ready and I’ll share the rest, but *spoiler alert* we now have white desks.

I can’t tell you how much I love my desk, but the white surface did create an issue with my computer mouse. For weeks, I couldn’t figure out why my computer would turn on, but the mouse wouldn’t respond. Finally, I mentioned it to Brian, and in five minutes he diagnosed the issue – no mouse pad. He let me use his, which is covered with lovely photos of car parts and Motocraft products. But I wanted something a little more me.

I was inspired by the lovely marble mouse pads I found on Etsy for $20, and figured out how to create my own.

You’ll need:

Step 1: Cut your craft foam to size. 

Step 2: Trace your craft foam onto your marble contact paper. We’re going to add a section of copper, so mark how far you want the marble to come. Then cut it out.

Step 3: Slowly, peel and stick the contact paper to your foam, smoothing out any bubbles.

Step 4: Trace and cut out a section of copper contact paper to fit, and repeat – smoothing out any bubbles.

And that’s really all there is too it!

Want other ideas for using your contact paper? You can trace your laptop and apply it to the back of the screen, use it to give an upgrade to a bland desk lamp, wrap your pencil holder, and add some pieces to your desk accessories, like your stapler or table dispenser. 
Soon, I’ll post a Christmas decor idea using the marble contact paper. But I’d love to hear from you, have you used contact paper in crafts? What other ideas do you have for cool uses for it? Share them with us in the comments below!

DIY: How to Make a Tree Stump Stool for $50 or Less

Side tables: marriage-savers. 
Let me explain. As Edison grew more and more mobile, we quickly realized that we could no longer use the coffee table as a table, since now he could reach almost anything on it. Yes, I know, we shouldn’t eat on the couch in front of the TV, but this is real life, and sometimes after we’ve both had long days at work, the best thing ever is to order a bunch of wings and fries, and settle in on the couch to watch the next episode of Last Man Standing, together, or now that it’s fall, the next Harry Potter movie. Or we might just have leftovers and popcorn for dinner. Don’t judge. 
Not being able to use the coffee table for food meant that we were down to one side table at one end of the couch: my end. That lead to some encroaching, and much annoyance on my part.
So to save our marriage, we needed a second side table. I’d wanted a tree stump side table forever, but they’re not cheap. This one from West Elm is $249
So we made our own, for the total cost of about $50.

You’ll need: 

  • A tree stump that’s 6″ shorter than your sofa arm. Look on Craig’s List for free tree stumps! We found tons of options to choose from. I recommend pine; the bark comes very easily, and on some types of wood, like walnut, it can be really hard to remove. 
  • Wood stain (optional). I used Miniwax stain in “Natural.”
  • Clear polyurethane gloss
  • An assortment of tools for removing the bark. 
  • A sander, or sandpaper blocks. 
  • Foam brushes. 
  • 6″ Hairpin metal legs. I bought these ones from Amazon for $30, and they were the perfect height and look I wanted.
  • Wood shims, unless your log comes leveled already.  
  • A level, in case it doesn’t.
  • Long screws. The screws that come with the legs may not be long enough.
  • An impact driver.
Step 1: After you’ve picked up your free tree stump from someone’s woodpile, the next step is removing the bark. I’d assembled a variety of tools for the purpose, but the bark fell off so easily, I only ended up using the screw driver! It only took a couple minutes to scrape it clean.

Step 2: Sand the top and sides of the stump. Edison was a great helper during this step. Just kidding. He wasn’t allowed near the sander while it was turned on. I, however, did do the sanding, and this is the closest I’ve ever been to using power tools. It was exhilarating!
You don’t need to go crazy with sanding, but just make sure the surface feels smooth. Run a tack cloth over the surface to remove any dust before the next step.

Step 3: Stain the stump. This step is optional – if you like the wood’s natural color, you can skip this. I wanted just a tad richer and more even color, so I used Miniwax stain in “Natural.” Use a foam brush to apply it in a thin layer, and let it dry according to the instructions on the can, which is about 8 hours. Don’t sand it after applying the stain; that will essentially undo everything you’ve just done. 

Step 5: The next day, apply an even coat of polyurethane in the same way. This has to dry overnight between coats. Now, if you find rough areas on the wood – sand these down between coats of polyurethane. You don’t need to sand between coats like you would if you were using paint, the sanding is just to keep it smooth. 
I applied about three coats before I was satisfied with the finish on this stump.

Step 6: Attach the legs. This is the only moderately tricky part. Turn your stump upside down, and arrange the legs on the bottom. I used this set of four from Amazon, but fitting all four was going to be tricky. I was concerned that three might not be stable, but Brian explained that you only need three points to establish an infinite plane, or something to that effect (that’s what happens when you ask an engineer). 

The tricky part about this is making them level. Because we got an already cut stump, and we didn’t want to try to cut it again, because that would make it too short, we used wood shims to level out the bottom.

Hold the level from the end of each leg to the others to check the height, and add shims underneath as needed.

After each point is level, put in at least one screw to hold in the legs. You may need to use larger screws than the ones that come with the legs. Then turn the table over, and check to see if you succeeded.

Perfect!
But what about those unsightly pieces of wood sticking out? To clean it up, you’ll have to flip it back over and trim them off, as Brian is demonstrating with the saw.

Then secure the legs with the rest of the screws.

Step 7: Carry it inside, and enjoy having a place to put your wings out of the reach of your toddler, and having your own spot on the couch back!

We did leave that long branch sticking out, as you can see above, for the only reason that it really helps make it easier to move. This thing is heavy! But at least we don’t need to worry about Edison tipping it over.

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! Now, I’m tempted to switch favorite spots on the couch with Brian … if he’s willing to trade.

#Friday Finds: Things on My Desk

1. This Illume Balsam & Cedar candle. Brian and I both share a love for candles, especially holiday scented ones. He’s very particular about his peppermint scented candles, and I’m partial to a good fir tree scent. This candle is small but STRONG, to the point that I had to open some windows because the scent was overpowering in our office after several hours. So, don’t light it and leave it burning forever – a little goes a long way.

Probably my favorite thing about it is how pretty it is! So fancy. It would make a great hostess Christmas gift.

2. Book Club. I’m looking at the book we just started reading now, and looking forward to curling up with it later today. I started a book club at work with four other girls, meeting over lunch on Thursdays. We finished our first book, “Where’d You Go Bernadette,” and all of us greatly enjoyed it. Now I understand what “dramedy” means. It’s funny, sweet, and poignant, and the mystery really sucks you in. We’ve just started “All The Light We Cannot See,” and even though we’re not too far into it, it’s so beautifully written, I feel like I can already recommend it.

3. I know I talk about Chatbooks all the time, BUT did you see that now you can make a special Christmas Chatbook with Rifle Paper Co. Christmas illustrations? Get your first book free by clicking here.

4. I talked about this little sign in my last Friday Finds, but here’s a shop on Etsy that sells hand painted signs along a similar line. I love the dark wood backgrounds on some of these, as well as the Esther verse sign. 

5. Tailwind. I figured I’d include this, since it’s on my computer, which is on my desk. If you’re a blogger, listen up. You know how much you don’t like to pin a bunch of images all in one shot, but it’s so much work to try to schedule them? Tailwind is a tool that allows you to save images from anywhere and add them to a queue to be automatically pinned to Pinterest. That way, you’re not annoying your followers by flooding their feeds, plus, it’s a lot less work for you – it’s super easy to add pins to your queue at any time.
Those are my #FridayFinds! Happy Friday!
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How to Make a Tiny Hogwarts Robe from a T-Shirt

It was inevitable. 
The stakes were high for Edison’s first time trick or treating, because I knew that this could well be the only year Edison has no say in his costume. So naturally, I took the opportunity to dress him up as my favorite literary character – Harry Potter. Although, you could make the case that he looks a bit more like Malfoy, what with the very blond hair… but let’s just settle for “Gryffindor Student.”
One who specializes in “charms.” See what I did there? 
Here’s what you’ll need to create this almost free costume: 
  • Black t-shirt. The less text or designs on the shirt, the better, but you can make it work if it’s not a blank tee.
  • Hogwarts crest. I used Gryffindor, but you can order all or any of them from Amazon!
  • A snap
  • Black thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Glue or adhesive. I used spray on adhesive which washes off, so I can reuse my Gryffindor crest if I want to on another project.
  • A stick. Just a stick from the backyard.

1. Cut open the front of the tee shirt. I didn’t want to buy a tee shirt just for this, so I used my old high school color guard tee. It was one of my favorites… but it’s for a good cause.
2. Turn the tee inside out if there’s no design on it. If there is, like in my case, we’re actually going to sew on the front, so don’t turn it inside out. Also, pumpkin pop-tarts help this sewing part go better.

3. Mark the sleeve shape, and down the side of the tee, where you’ll be sewing. We need to make the tee smaller, and we also need to create a bell shape. I drew a line from the bottom corner of the tee up to where my pencil is pointing here, and from there, down to the hem of the tee.

Do this on both sides of your tee, and pin it.

4.1 Try to sew along the lines you drew. Sewing machine breaks down.
4.2 Freak out, because trick or treating is TONIGHT.
4.3 Husband tells you it’s just a costume, it’s not a big deal.
4.4 FREAK OUT MORE, because he just doesn’t understand.
4.5 Husband fixes sewing machine. Calm down, and carry on, realizing he was actually right.

5. Trim off the extra fabric behind the new seams you’ve made, and turn inside out. Because my tee has the design on it, the shoulder seams will be on the outside. But isn’t that the perfect robe sleeve?

 6. Spray on the adhesive to the Hogwarts crest, and press it onto the front of the robe.

7. Using a needle and thread, sew on the snap to the collar of the tee.

8. Call yourself Madame Malkin, and take a bow. 

I used a stick from the backyard for Edison’s wand. The photos we took are a little blurry since it was getting dark, but they’re still awfully cute.

I’m wearing my Gryffindor tee, but I can’t find this exact one online anywhere. There’s a surprising variety of Harry Potter tees on Amazon, of all places.

Edison was a big hit in his little robe with all the college students handing out candy at the church Trunk or Treat we went to. He caught on pretty quickly to taking candy and dropping in his little bag, and also figured out that the college students were more than happy to let him take as much candy as he wanted. 
Even at 15 months, he doesn’t take too kindly to seeing mama and daddy take candy out of his bag! Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t figured out any protective charms to keep us out of it. 
Here’s all the steps in one graphic for pinning for next year. 
I hope you and your family had a great Halloween or Harvest Festival!