Thanksgiving Burlap Wreath
According to my schedule, I should be sharing a Side Dish Roundup today.  But, I have so many projects I’ve been wanting to share with you that I’ve decided to stray from my schedule a bit to get caught up.
 
Earlier this year, I made a simple burlap wreath to use as a backdrop for seasonal decorations in my home.  Each month, I am changing the embellishments on the burlap wreath to create entirely new wreaths to celebrate holidays, seasons, etc.  
 
Here is how I embellished my burlap wreath so far:
July
August
September & October

For November, the focus of my burlap wreath is Thanksgiving!  Most of my Thanksgiving decor is neutral in color with lots of orange pops.  So, I decided to use some orange and brown burlap ribbon I already had and picked up a patterned burlap wreath to add some dimension.  I debated on what to write on my sign and ultimately decided to keep it simple with “Happy Thanksgiving”.  I really love how it turned out.  Simple, colorful and festive!

 
 

Here’s how I made it…

Materials:
Burlap Wreath
Burlap Ribbon in brown, orange and plaid pattern
Happy Thanksgiving Sign

 

How I did it:
I just arranged my three ribbons around the wreath tucking sections through the burlap and into the wire frame to hold.  Then, I made my sign by printing “Happy Thanksgiving” in brown onto a cream colored card stock.    I cut card stock out to make it look more like a banner.  Then, I settled it into the burlap.  Done!

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FR-AMILY = Friends So Close You Consider Them Family
Do you have fr-amily in your life?  You know, friends so close that they have become an extension of your family?
 
We have four individuals in our world that we love so much that they have become part of our inner circle and whom we lovingly refer to as our fr-amily.
 

While we were blessed to make close bonds with several families here in Arizona, we found ourselves gravitating towards one family, in particular.   The M’s had similar interests, enjoyed the same foods, traveled to similar places and had the same easygoing approach to things as My Love and I.  Plus, like us, they had moved to Arizona and did not have family in town. 

 
Since neither of us had family around, we spent many holidays together as well as with other mutual friends, when we weren’t traveling ourselves.  It started with an Easter celebration one year, then the next year we spent Easter and New Years together.  The following year, we celebrated Easter, Thanksgiving and New Years together until, eventually, we had shared every major holiday with our good friends, the M’s.  
 
After many holidays, the births of several kids and a handful of vacations together, the word “fr-amily” was born.  While we weren’t related biologically, we cared for each other deeply and stepped in for one another where family normally would.  So, the name was fitting. 
Kelly and I met at book club 7 years ago
Our hubbies became instant friends when they met at a bowling alley
and our girls have grown up together
 
Unfortunately for us, the M’s got the opportunity to move back to their hometown last year so our fr-amily holidays together were numbered.  This will be the first year that we have not shared a single major holiday with the M’s and it has been an adjustment.  We miss them dearly and holidays just don’t seem the same without them.  While we are happy that they were able to move back home, selfishly, we wish they were still here.
 
Our girls saying goodbye at the airport
We wanted the M’s to know that we’ll be thinking of them this holiday season and how thankful we are to have them in our lives, so we decided to send them a care package.  We normally exchange Christmas gifts so I thought we could just send our gifts a little early this year. 
 
In addition to Christmas gifts for their children, I also really wanted to make something homemade for the family that would call to mind Arizona and/or some of the holidays we shared.  I knew I found just the thing when I saw these DIY Snowman Sharpie Mugs online. 
 
cups
I followed the instructions provided here but made them even more personalized by adding a little note on the bottom of the mugs.  It makes me happy to think that they’ll be reminded of us every time they tip their cups up.
 
recipes

I also made some hot chocolate recipe cards that reminded me of some of the holidays we shared together.
 
 
Gingerbread Hot Chocolate  – This reminded me of the first Thanksgiving we spent together.  We hosted at our house so the M’s joined in on our Graham Cracker Gingerbread House tradition.
 
Peppermint Hot Chocolate Affogato –  We served this for dessert a couple years ago when we had the M’s over for Christmas dinner.
 
S’More Hot Chocolate – This reminded me of the last New Years we spent together where the kids (and some of the adults) made s’mores over a warm fire before lighting up some sparklers.
card
Lastly, I included this adorable card that I created at Treat. by Shutterfly.  It captured our feelings perfectly while allowing us to personalize the card and completed the package in just the right way.
 
I packaged everything up and shipped it off to our amazing fr-amily.  Hopefully, they’ll feel the love (and warmth!) we send them from Arizona! 
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Last Halloween, on our way out of our local pumpkin patch I noticed some pumpkin stems for sale in a basket.  The whole way home, my mind was racing with things that could be done with those cute pumpkin stems.  Sadly for me, I had to wait a whole year to get my hands on them.  I knew just what I wanted to do with them… Fabric Pumpkins to use as decorations around the house.  I couldn’t wait to work on this project!!
Have you ever had something on your mind for a whole year?  It’s excruciating!  You think about it, then rethink it and then over think it.  Then, when the time finally comes to execute the idea, you have anxiety that it won’t turn out the way you’ve had it in your head for the last year!  Lucky for me, these little guys turned out exactly the way I had hoped! 
I love how the rich fall colors and heavy textures (tweed, crushed velvet, corduroy, etc.) came together around the stems.  The pumpkins add a great punch of color to my fall decorations and I love that I can reuse them every year!  The pumpkins are so easy to assemble and didn’t break the bank.  I found the stems at a few different pumpkin patches.  Some places charged a minimal fee and others let me have them for free.  Plus, I happened to hit Joann’s when they were having a massive sale, so I got all the fabric 50%+ off.  I considered using scrap fabric but I really wanted to use some heavier fabrics that felt more lux to me.  So, I splurged a little and am so happy I did.  I love my new decorations! 
DIY Fall Pumpkin Decorations


Here’s how I made them:

Materials:
Fabric – various fall colors, patterns and textures between 1/3 and 1/2 yard
Fabric pencil
Scissors
Needle
Thread
Foam beads or batting – I used both because I ran out of beads
Hot Glue
Pumpkin Stems – available at most pumpkin patches

Instructions:
1.  Fold the fabric in half and then half again.

2.  Starting at the corner where the folds meet, measure out between 2-4 inches along one crease and draw a quarter circle ending 2-4 inches along the other crease.
NOTE: For thicker fabrics, you will want to make smaller circles, hence smaller pumpkins, as when you get further in the process the fabric won’t bunch as much and you won’t be able to close the seam around the stem.  Then, you’ll be forced to pull the string out and start all over.  Not that I know from experience.  Fine… fine… I know from experience. I pulled the string out of two pumpkins and started over because I couldn’t get the seem to close.  Do as I say not as I do!

3.  Cut the fabric along the line you drew.

4.  Open the fabric with the exposed side facing down.

5.  Fold the edges down about 1/4 inch.  You can press it to keep it in place.  But, I just held it down as I went along.

6.  Thread the needle with a length of about 10-12 inches of thread.  Do not knot the thread.

7.  Using a basting stitch, run the needle all the way around the very tip of the folded edge, leaving about 2 inches of thread where you start the stitch (see below).

Notice the 1-2 inches of thread I left out where I started the stitch.

8.  As you continue along, start pulling the fabric to bunch it together, making sure you don’t pull the exposed thread where you started through.

 9.  Once you get all the way around, your fabric should look like this.

10.  Fill the fabric with beads or batting.

11.  Once the fabric is full, gently pull the threads from both sides to tighten.  You want the hole to be slightly bigger than the size of the stem you will be using.

12. Apply hot glue across the bottom and around the edges of the bottom of the pumpkin stem.

13.  Nestle the pumpkin stem inside the fabric then quickly but gently tighten the thread so the fabric forms around the stem.  Carefully press the fabric into the stem to attach it to the glue.  

14.  Gently tie the thread into several knots, then trim the excess thread.

You’re done!  A cute and festive pumpkin!

 Aren’t they so cute?!?

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One of my most favorite Thanksgiving traditions is decorating Graham Cracker “Gingerbread” houses after our Thanksgiving feast. It is such a simple activity to pull together and it creates hours of fun for all ages. 
Graham Cracker Gingerbread House Decorating | The Lovebugs Blog

Here’s what you’ll need:
Cardboard Cake Circles or paper plates to build on
Graham Crackers – each house needs at least 6 squares
Frosting – recipe below
An assortment of candy to decorate with
Instructions:
1.  Assemble the house using the frosting as glue.  Make sure you let the walls of the house set for 5-10 minutes before you add your roof or the whole thing will fall apart. You’ll need at least four graham cracker squares for the sides, then 2 graham cracker squares for the roof.  Let the assembled house sit for at least an hour to allow the frosting to set. 
This can be done in advance so guests can just decorate. We typically build the houses before dinner, then decorate after dinner. 
2.  Using frosting as glue, add decorations to your house and yard.
3.  We use these beauties as decorations in our home.  But they are completely edible, so feel free to snack on them! 
Here’s Lovebug decorating the house I put together for her last year.  She was 2 years old and did great!  Of course, she ate more candy than she got on her house. 🙂
Here is the house I made, using mostly frosting to decorate.

 And here is my husbands creation.  He’s a bit of an over-achiever.

We’ve done this for large gatherings and small.  We’ve even posted pictures for family members to vote for the best one. 
Give it a try and let me know how it goes. 
Hope you enjoy!
Frosting Recipe:
Ingredients:
3 egg whites
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar*, if you have it
Instructions:
1.  Place egg whites in a heat safe bowl.  Emerge only the bottom of the bowl into a pot of boiling water.  With the bowl emerged in the boiling water, whisk the egg whites for about 3 minutes, until they are frothy and hot to the touch.  This will kill any bacteria and make the frosting safe to eat.
2.  Add the powdered sugar and cream of tartar (if using). 
3.  Whisk the mixture until combined.
4.  Run a paper towel under cold water and wring out excess water.  Place the paper towel directly on top of your frosting to prevent it from drying out, until you are ready to use it.  (If you are making the frosting far in advance, you should make sure that you keep it damp so that it doesn’t dry on top of the frosting.)
5.  Make your gingerbread house.  I usually keep the frosting under the wet paper towel and pull out just enough for us to use so that the frosting doesn’t thicken too much.
*  Please don’t go out and buy cream of tartar if you don’t have it.  The frosting works just fine without it.  It only serves to make and keep your frosting white.
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I Heart Nap Time

Lil'Luna

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I bought large felt leaves from the Dollar Store last year and used them as table decorations in the past.  This year, they didn’t fit in with my table décor but I still wanted to use them.  So, I came up with this fun decoration to embellish our door.  I made it in about an hour and it cost me just over $5 to make.  I love the little pop of color it gives our door and I feel like it makes our home more inviting. 
DIY Fall Leaf Door Deocration | The Lovebugs Blog

Materials:
* 3 Large Felt Leaves in various colors – I got mine from the Dollar Store but Michael’s carries them too
* Scrap Cardboard – I think mine are inserts from sheet packets but you could use a box as well
* Yarn
* Hot Glue
* Ribbon

Instructions:
1.  Draw your letters on the cardboard, using a ruler to make sure the sizes are roughly the same.  It doesn’t have to be exact as the yarn will forgive any imperfections.
I found making my own cardboard letters was lighter (and cheaper!) than purchasing paper mache letters from the store.  You want the letters to be as light as possible so they adhere to the felt and don’t fall off.
2.  Using a utility knife or scissors, cut the letters out.  
3.  Using this method, wrap the cardboard letters with yarn.
4. Layer your leaves in a design you like then glue them together with the hot glue. 
* Note there are some slits in the felt so make sure you have something underneath your leaves so you don’t ruin your table!

  5.  Put hot glue along the back of your yarn covered letters and adhere them to the felt leaves.  I made mine look like they were falling, but you could do any design you like.

* Again, make sure you have something protecting your table from any glue that might seep through the gaps.

6.  Using hot glue, attach a ribbon along the back of the three leaves to help hold the weight, being sure to extend the ribbon a foot or so beyond the top of the decoration.  Tie a loop at the end of your ribbon to hang your decoration.  Add a bow to cover your knot.

7.  Hang your fun fall decoration on your door.
Enjoy!
I linked this project on:


Lil'Luna

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