Mod-Podge-n-Yarn candle holders

Guess what?

all three

I just found a cheap, simple, and thoroughly cute craft for any occasion. Found, I say, not invented. My mom introduced me to it over Thanksgiving, but our original source is my friend Renee Shafer (A Beautiful Captivation), and her sister Andrea Graybill.


Renee made these for a bachelorette party two years ago already, so … let’s just say it takes some of us a while to catch on. She and her sis also made them in fall colors this year. My mom, organizing a family craft, chose Christmas colors to match the season.

I think they’re darling.

You will need:

Balloons – any color
Yarn – any color
Mod Podge
Styrofoam plate
Latex gloves (optional)*
Battery-operated tea light

Blow up a balloon. Cover your workspace with newspaper or something disposable to catch drips. Pour some Mod Podge onto a Styrofoam plate and dip your yarn in it to soak, wrapping and crisscrossing it around the balloon. Hang up to fully dry. Pop balloon. Insert a battery-operated tea light into the yarn globe and hang somewhere pretty.

*(We did ours barehanded, but we were sick of Mod Podge by the time we were done, and picked shreds of it off our hands for the rest of the day…)

white one

Now I think that’s a pretty awesome craft, and customizable for any size and season. Thanks again to my mom and Renee Shafer!

portrait against wall


Posted with permission.

If you want some inspirational words for moms in the thick of it, don’t miss this beautiful post of Renee’s: “Why NOW is the Time to Speak.”

Handmade notes of Thanksgiving

Confession: Sometimes I am tired of confessing my idiocies.

If you’re tired of hearing of them, don’t worry—you’re not nearly as tired as I am of committing them. I told Alison this week that “any organizational/ navigational skills I have are a desperate attempt to get a handle on my naturally forgetful and scatterbrained self. True story.”

I planned and planned and over-planned this week. I planned for the ultra-special lunch exchange at my boys’ school; I planned the dishes I’ll bring to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house; I planned the brunch I’m hosting on Saturday; I planned ahead for Christmas. I bought supplies. I made lists. I stocked my fridge and checked my ingredients and made food ahead of time and got on top of everything…

And then this morning.

Ryan woke me in good time and I, exhausted from a late night and then a wakeful session with my crying foster son, fell back to sleep. At 7:37 a.m., I re-woke and staggered out of bed, and as I entered the bathroom this thought came to me, jangling: “What about chapel with the junior high girls, hmm?”

Oh NO!!

Ten bright-faced girls were counting on me to show up. I needed to leave at 8:20, 8:25 at latest. I needed to pack two lunches, prepare my own body and heart, dress and comb and feed two preschoolers, and – oh, newsflash: I had utterly forgotten to brainstorm, research, and concoct the Thanksgiving Craft I promised those girls this morning. I had no idea what we were making.

I panicked.

I spent the whole time I was washing, dressing, and combing groaning to God to help me. I thought and thought. Thanksgiving turkeys? No supplies on hand. Pumpkin praise? I did that with them last year—and I don’t have enough pumpkins. Something with fabric? But what?

As I stepped out of the bathroom, I had another thought… (I need to check that doorway; maybe God is sending me brainwaves and reminders as I pass through…?)

Just this.

card 1

Paper? Check. Sewing machine? Always ready. Scissors and glue? Available at the school.

Oh thank you God thank you thank you.

I still could never have made it without my husband’s generous help through our children’s morning routine. And my hair looked {still looks} like something a pig sat on. And, mercifully, I entirely forgot that I’d done a similar craft with these girls before. And my foster son messed his diaper halfway through our session and I had to put him in the hallway so we could breathe for those last minutes.

But I showed up. And I got to coach them on the sewing machine and oh, we had fun. Some of these pictures include their work.

Here’s how:

1. Fold a paper into a basic card shape.

{This card is made from 12×12 sheet cut in half. Tri-fold to form a pretty flap.}

trifold card

2. Cut or tear a rectangle of colored paper for the face of the card.

3. Machine-sew the colored paper to the white.

{Brown thread looks pretty too.}

card 4

4. Add cut-out shapes to suit the season… leaves, pumpkins, candles.

{Use small stencils or cookie cutters for easy templates, or just have fun freelancing.}

card 3

5. Write a word or two on the card’s cover.

card 2

6. Add a message inside and share with someone who’s blessed you.

card inside

Let your children join you in Thanksgiving. They’re not too little to snip and glue, nor too young to express gratitude. You can handle the sewing machine, or farm it off to your teenage daughter, or skip it entirely.

It’s the season to give thanks. Start with God, and then those He’s placed near you—and if He has preserved your sanity and given you ideas when you don’t deserve them and helped you through harried mornings, say it again. Oh, thank you, thank you…

DIY: Square cushion corners

Confession: I used to think that I was good at finishing projects. When my friends said “I have GOT to get some of my current projects dug out of my closet and finished before I start anything else,” I just smiled. Aww. Poor chicks.


Two years ago I moved to a fixer-upper and did my first paint project, and it all went downhill from there. I immediately became compelled to buy fabric for every known window in the universe and gained [overnight] about four hundred and eighty pounds [no I did NOT say pounds] DIY’s waiting to happen.

I even bought supplies for a couple hundred of them, give or take.

Which means now I gotta do ‘um. I’ve like committed myself.

So I sat down in January—a good time of year for turning over new turtles—[Isn’t that the phrase? Oh, new leaves? Well, leaves don’t bite and some of the stuff I turn over sure does; and then lays on its back waving its legs feebly in the air for two weeks before quietly expiring]—and made a list of my unfinished projects.

There were twenty.

I plan to nail them all. But it’s going to take me a little time.

As an incentive, I told myself that they’d make fun blog posts. So when they pop up that’s what’s happening: Shari is coaxing herself into action.

Today we offer DIY No. 1—How to Recover Ancient Futons. Because I KNOW you’ve got a couple of those on the back porch.

Well on second thought perhaps we could amend the tutorial. DIY No. 1—How to Sew Square Cushion Corners. Because that is a really cool trick and takes only five minutes and my excellent mother taught me how.

1. Sew an ordinary corner seam.

corner seam

2. Standing the corner upright, pull out on the fabric below to create a tent…

open like a tent

3. …And flatten it, so that the seam now runs down the middle of a triangle. Lay the seam allowance to one side.

flatten sideways

4. Measure the depth of your cushion form—in this case, four inches.

5. Using pins or chalk, mark a line four inches long, crossing the first seam at right angles. (Adjust as needed to cross your first seam precisely in the middle.)


6. Sew a straight seam along this line.


7. Invert.


See how pretty it is? Besides cushions, square corners are also useful on the bottoms of homemade bags or totes, just to give the project some depth.

honey hued wood

And since I know you’re curious about the futon [snort]… It went from this–

original futon

–to this. I’m very happy. I intended to paint the frame, but when I started sanding I fell in love with the rich honey tones in the wood. Mmm. Cuppa tea, anyone?

finished futon

Stitches and stacks

Confession: My favorite projects are experiments that happen to turn out well.

Today I tried two.

I found that you can turn a worn out little girl’s dress into a clothespin keeper. I remember my mom having one similar to this, made when I was a girl.

For this one, I cut off the hood and the lining in the V neck, stitched the bottom of the skirt shut, and tacked it to a baby hanger. Then I dumped all my clothespins inside. (It’s important to choose a dress with a front opening, so you can reach in easily!)

I plan to hang it on my clothesline when I do laundry—easy to slide along to the next spot.


And for supper, I tried something new. I wanted to build a sweet potato haystack. We do it with baking potatoes, topping them with meat and veggies. Why not with sweet?

I baked them in the oven, then topped them with:

  • Cubes of chicken breast, sautéed with salt & pepper, cumin, chili powder, and garlic
  • Lots of cheddar cheese
  • Freshly fried and crumbled bacon
  • My favorite homemade barbecue sauce—ketchup, mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, tarragon, maple syrup

It was really good, but I think the sweet potatoes were more a distraction than an asset. I can’t help thinking how much better the dish would be with seasoned russet fries instead…

What would go on a sweet potato stack? Do you have ideas?