How To Make Paper Fiesta Flowers For Hanging

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Ready to make a festive paper flower garland for your next fiesta? Here are step-by-step directions with photos to help you make decorative paper flower pom-poms which can be hung on a string, from the ceiling, on tree branches or wherever you like! (It’s a great craft to do with your niños!)

How To Make Paper Fiesta Flowers

What you need:

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Crepe paper (Tissue paper will probably work but that isn’t what I used.)
Wire (Small children may feel more comfortable working with pipe cleaners.)
String
Scissors

Directions:

1. Cut 4 sheets of crepe paper to the same length. (Mine were about 9 1/2 inches by 22 inches.) As I mentioned above, this will probably work with tissue paper but I use crepe paper because it’s stronger, doesn’t tear as easily, and has a little added texture compared to tissue paper.

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2. With the sheets of paper lined up on top of each other, fold width-wise in 1 1/2 inch fan/accordion style folds.

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3. Secure in the middle with a length of wire about 7 inches long. Don’t secure it so tightly that you crush the paper too much. (It should now look like a bow tie.)

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4. Spread out the fan folds.

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5. Carefully separate each layer. Fluff and adjust as needed on each side so it is round in shape.

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6. Secure the wire to a long length of string. Repeat until you have the garland as long as you want it.

7. Hang up your garland of pretty pom-pom flowers and throw a fiesta!

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How to Make a Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic

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As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

The Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network challenge for July is “outdoor art.” I decided to pay tribute to one of my favorite artists, Fernando Llort. When we went to El Salvador in 2011, we visited The Catedral Metropolitana in San Salvador – a cathedral full of history and which featured a colorful tile mosaic façade by Llort. Months after we returned to the United States, that façade was thoughtlessly torn down. It’s difficult to say how sad and angry this made me – it still upsets me to this day. Making a replica of part of Llort’s mosaic felt like the right thing to do.

The cathedral before its destruction, and the section of the mosaic I decided to replicate.

A photo I took of the cathedral before the mosaic’s destruction, and the section of the mosaic I decided to replicate.

This project is time-consuming but worth it. Here’s how to make your own Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic.

How to Make a Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic

Materials:

square white ceramic tiles (amount depends on desired size of mosaic)
glass paint (gloss opaque in desired colors)
fine tip paint brush
ruler
rubbing alcohol
cotton balls
1/2 inch deep wood board cut to desired size (depends on desired size of mosaic)
screwdriver
2 screws
hanging wire
Gorilla Glue
needle-nose pliers
scissors
pencil
colored pencils
permanent marker
plastic gloves

Instructions:

1. Choose a design for your mosaic. This can be an existing design you want to re-create or one you created yourself. Decide how many tiles wide and high you want your mosaic to be and using a ruler and pencil, divide your image into a grid with an equal number of blocks. If your image is small, you may have to re-draw it larger. I recommend doing this the old-fashioned way instead of blowing the image up and applying a grid through computerized image editing, since the old-fashioned way gives you practice drawing the design. Use colored pencils to lightly color in the image if desired.

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2. Number the blocks on the grid and the backs of the corresponding tiles to keep things organized in case you don’t finish in one sitting. (If your tiles come attached to each other, separate them and remove as much of the glue as possible using pliers.)

3. Screw the screws into the top edge of the board. Later you’ll tie the wire on but do this part now. You don’t want to do this after the tiles are attached and have the board crack.

4. Clean the surface of each tile with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol and then allow each to dry before applying paint. You can use a pencil and/or permanent marker to draw the outline of your design before you paint it.

5. Paint each tile, referring to your grid as a guide. Allow to dry.

6. To cure the paint on the tiles, place tiles in a cold oven on a foil-lined baking sheet. Set oven to 350 F, bake for 30 minutes. The foil is especially important if there is still glue on the backs of your tiles. This glue will melt in the oven and the tiles will attach themselves to your baking sheet! Turn oven off, allowing tiles to cool completely inside the oven before removing. Note that your tiles go into the oven when it’s cold and come out when it’s cold. They must be allowed to heat up and cool down properly. If you have a lot of tiles, you may have to do this in batches. Note: When moving tiles be careful not to chip the paint. The paint is not permanent until tiles are cured. If you do chip the paint, touch it up and wait for it to dry again. The tiles, (I believe because of the glue), smell strongly while being baked. I recommend having a few windows open while baking.

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7. Now you’re ready to assemble the mosaic and attach it to the wood. Put on some plastic gloves to avoid getting Gorilla Glue on your skin. Lightly moisten the back side of each tile with a damp paper towel and apply a very small amount of Gorilla Glue. Place tiles on your piece of wood in order using your grid as a reference. (Remember to check that the screws are at the top before attaching tiles!) Carefully place a flat heavy object, such as books, on top of the glued tiles to apply pressure. Wait 30 minutes until dry. If your mosaic is large, I recommend doing this step one section at a time. Note: You may want to test this process with extra tiles and a scrap piece of wood. Gorilla Glue expands and what you may think is a small amount, will be too much if you aren’t experienced in using it.

8. Wait 72 hours to be sure that paint and glue are fully cured before tying the hanging wire to the screws and hanging outside.

9. Optional: For a more finished look, you can glue thin pieces of wood molding around the outside of your mosaic. To make the mosaic more weather-proof, you could apply a ceramic tile surface sealer but I did not attempt this and can’t tell you whether it would affect the appearance of the painted tiles.

Note: Although the paint and glue are permanent, harsh weather will take a toll on your mosaic. Consider bringing your mosaic indoors during cold or rainy months, or display it in a sheltered area, such as a patio under an awning.

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What will your mosaic design be?

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

Quince Countdown!

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As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

It’s June which means we have only two months to prepare for my 14 year old son’s quince.

Yes, that’s right – I said “son’s quince.” We have decided to have a quince party for our son’s 15th birthday with some traditional elements re-imagined, (since the celebration is usually reserved for girls in Latin America) – More on all of that another day.

For now I want to show you some of our preparations, (besides making a list of all the foods I want to serve which so far includes tamales, yuca frita, pupusas with curtido and tres leches – an already exhausting menu considering it’s just me cooking.)

Since our son’s birthday is in August, an outdoor party seems to be the way to go. We want to have the quince in our backyard in case it’s too hot or rainy, that way we can always take it inside – (besides, we don’t plan to go crazy and rent a location, hire entertainment or have catering. This is going to be a modest celebration compared to most quinces.)

The problem with having the party in our backyard is that our backyard isn’t very conducive to entertaining. We have two “mini-patios” – if you can even call them that – at each rear door, and it’s not inviting at all. A large patio would work much better for a quince and any other little backyard party we want to have in the future, but on our budget that means doing it ourselves with very affordable materials.

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The first stage was brainstorming and daydreaming. I had a million ideas for a new patio, from the types of pavers I wanted to use, to the design, to the furniture and everything in between. In my mind, it’s a sunken backyard oasis, shaded by tropical plants, (nevermind the fact that palm trees wouldn’t survive a Mid-Atlantic winter.) Okay, time to get realistic about not only our skill level, but our budget.

The first step was to pick the pavers and measure the area we wanted to cover so that we knew how much materials to buy. We chose red square pavers, which weren’t my first choice, but they worked for our budget and in the end, I liked how they look. (Not to mention, working with squares made things less complicated.) In addition to the pavers, we purchased gravel and sand.

Once we removed the old patios and outlined the entire area with mason’s string tied around stakes, we began the very boring task of digging out the grass. Next we added gravel which we tried to distribute and tamp down in such a way that it was level. To be honest, I’m really impatient when it comes to this sort of thing but this is one step you really need to do right or it throws off everything else.

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(For more detailed steps, two helpful articles on Lowes.com include: Design a Paver Patio and Build a Brick Paver Patio.)

Next you can lay down the pavers, making sure they’re level as you go along. After all pavers are in place, sweep sand into the cracks and then mist lightly with water from the hose.

Add some furniture and landscaping – maybe some pretty hanging lights, (which will be my next step!) and you’re ready to party.

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Remember the beat up dark green chairs from the "before" photo? A neighbor gave those to us a few years ago. With a coat of Valspar spray paint for plastic, they look brand new and I chose a much happier color!

Remember the beat up dark green chairs from the “before” photo? A neighbor gave those to us a few years ago. With a coat of Valspar spray paint for plastic, they look brand new and I chose a much happier color!

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What else do you think we need to do to prepare the space for the party?

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

How To Make Your Own Fútbolito (Table Top Soccer Game)

I’m excited to show you the project I made for May as part of my partnership with the Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network and I think you guys are going to love this one, too.

Remember a couple years ago when I went to El Salvador and one of the souvenirs I came back with was a “fútbolito” (little table top soccer game)? … I mentioned in that post that we had actually always wanted to make our own “fútbolito” and so that’s what I decided to do for May’s project.

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For the month of May, the challenge was to use the PANTONE Universe’s Color of the Year, Emerald Green, (available exclusively at Lowe’s in Valspar Signature Paint.) … The color kind of reminded me of a soccer pitch and with my older son trying out for the soccer team again this summer, fútbolito is what came to mind!

To make your own, check out the directions below!

Make Your Own Fútbolito (Table Top Soccer Game)

You Need:

green paint (I used PANTONE Universe in Emerald, satin finish)
white paint (I just used craft paint)
a wooden board – 10 inches wide x 14 inches long x 3/4 inch deep
1 1/4 inch nails (I used white-colored nails but you can use nails of any color)
coffee straws (optional: Use different colored straws for each team)
hammer
pencil with eraser
scissors
medium flat paint brush
fine tip paint brush
ruler
protractor
drinking glass
white mason line (string)

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Directions:

1. With medium flat paint brush, paint the wood board green, allow to dry.

2. Measure and mark lines in pencil. (Refer to or print the diagram I made below!) Use the protractor for the half-moon at the front of the goal box. If you don’t have a protractor, you can use a drinking glass. Also use the drinking glass, (or a drafting compass if you want to be technical), to draw the circle in the center of the field.

(Click for full size version)

(Click for full size version)

3. With fine tip paint brush, paint lines white, allow to dry.

4. Mark spots for players, goal posts, and border in pencil as shown on the diagram.

5. Gently hammer nails into spots marked for goal posts and border. Note: Be careful not to crack the wood. This is more likely to happen when you’re close to the edge.)

6. Cut coffee straws into 3/4 inch sections. Slide a piece of coffee straw on each nail for players before hammering into place. Optional: If you can find two different colors of coffee straws, make one team one color and the other team another color.

7. Wrap string around nails on the outside line and around goal posts. I don’t have an exact method for this. Just tie the string on one corner nail and start going nail to nail, keeping the string taut, wrapping the string once around, before going to the next nail. Go around the entire perimeter and goal posts 4 times before tying off. Note: On your last pass over the goal posts, criss-cross at a diagonal as seen in the photos.

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8. Erase stray pencil marks.

9. To play with your “fútbolito” (table top soccer game), you can use 2 popsicle sticks and a marble or other small round ball that will fit inside the goals. Another option is to use a penny or other coin and take turns flicking it.

10. Feeling extra creative? Paint or decorate wide “jumbo” popsicle sticks with brand names to make it look like the advertisements you see along the sides of real stadium soccer fields!

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Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, (Hashtag: #LowesCreator), watching their videos on YouTube, re-pinning them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s to purchase products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

Re-Landscapeando

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As I announced last month, I’m now a member of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network which means that each month I’ll be participating in creative home and garden improvement projects which I’ll share with you here.

For the month of April one of the challenges suggested was to do an outdoor mini-makeover. Our entire yard could use a complete overhaul, to be honest. Years ago, (around the time I started this blog), Carlos was laid off, and that lay off lasted for a year. That chapter of our lives is far behind us, (and hopefully never repeats itself), but our yard is still telling the story of what happened. During that time we couldn’t afford to do a lot of things and when the choice was to feed our niños or re-mulch the garden, you better believe that keeping up the yard was not on our list of priorities. People who are lucky enough to have never gone through this don’t realize, it takes years to finally get back on top of things once you fall behind.

So, that brings me to this month’s project, “re-landscapeando” (re-landscaping for non-Spanglish speakers), which has given me and Carlos immense satisfaction.

Every day that we leave our home and come back, we walk past the side of our house. There is a row of Hydrangea bushes we have to keep constantly cutting because they grow way too wide during the summer and block our sidewalk – but worse than that, the black landscaping fabric is showing through since there isn’t enough mulch to cover it. As you can see in the photos below, it’s not terrible from far away, but up close, it’s super feo!

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Ya ves? It’s depressing, bad feng shui and just a general reminder of how far we had to let things go. This spot has been bothering me for a long time.

My plan was to dig up the Hydrangea bushes and give them a new home, plant smaller bushes which won’t grow so wide that they’ll block our sidewalk, pull out the landscaping fabric, and re-mulch. I also wanted to replace a nearby Rhododendron which just hasn’t done well in that spot.

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Here’s instructions for what we ended up doing in case you need to “re-landscapear” también. (I promise I did my part even though it’s Carlos working hard in all the photos!)

Mini Re-Landscape

What you need:

Gloves
Shovel
Trash Bags
New Plants (We chose “Dwarf English Boxwoods” to replace the Hydrangeas and a “Big Twister Rush” to replace the Rhododendron)
Measuring Tape
Rake

1. Wearing your gloves, dig up the bushes you want to replace and carefully pull from the ground.

2. If you want to re-plant these elsewhere, (my mother adopted my Hydrangeas) – and don’t want to kill them, try to dig deep and wide to get as much of the roots as possible. (Also, watch for wires and such if you’re anywhere near your electric meter, TV cable and telephone box.)

3. Pull out the old landscaping fabric and discard.

4. Put the root ball of the plants you want to re-plant into a trash bag for transporting if necessary. Re-plant as soon as possible.

5. Use a rake to clean up rocks, roots and other debris while moving the dirt to make it even.

Now that all the mess is cleaned up, you can plant your new plants. Follow the directions on the plant’s tag to dig an appropriate-sized hole, make sure that the location is good for the new plants as far as their preferred amount of sunlight and the type of soil. All this information is on the tag attached to the plants at Lowe’s.) Tip: Use a measuring tape to evenly space plants and give them enough room to grow.

Note: If you choose to put in new landscaping fabric, this should be done before the new plants are planted. If you choose to mulch, (we ended up deciding not to because there was plenty of pretty dark earth beneath the paper we pulled up), you can mulch after the new plants are in place.

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Here’s the finished look! We’re so happy with how it turned out and can’t wait to re-landscapear other parts of the yard.

Which mini-makeover are you most eager to do in your own yard this season?

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, (Hashtag: #LowesCreator), watching their videos on YouTube, re-pinning them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to at LowesCreativeIdeas.com.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s to purchase products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

Todo Me Parece Bonito!

Winter-Blogger-Badge_Square.jpg.jpgI am super feliz to announce that I’m now a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network – What this means is that each month I’ll be participating in creative home and garden improvement projects which I’ll share with you here.

We’ve been Lowe’s customers for a long time, (remember the video we made a couple years ago about how all the signage at Lowe’s is bilingual?) – and like most homeowners, we have a long list of things that need to be fixed – so somos una pareja perfecta (we’re a perfect match!)

For the month of March the challenge was to either bring spring indoors or do some spring cleaning and organization – I ended up doing a little of all of that. We live in a small house, (1,144 square feet to be exact), so the family computer is located in a corner of the living room – and it wasn’t a very pretty corner. I decided to salvage the beat up desk and chair by painting them a bright color, add potted plants, clean up the clutter, and change up the wall art. Here’s the result!

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What do you think? If you like any of these changes and want to re-create them in your own casita, here are some step-by-step directions to help you out.

Potted Plant How-To

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What you need:
Pots of your choice (I chose the 3-pot herb tray planter, $9.97)
Plants of your choice (I chose lavender, $3.48 each)

Directions:

This is pretty easy! In my case, I chose lavender because not only is it pretty but it smells good so it works as a natural air freshener. Lavender is also known to de-stress, and since this computer area is used for stressful things like filing taxes and doing homework, I figured we could all use a dose!

The Lavender came in biodegradable pots which can be planted directly in the ground, but because I re-planted it in ceramic pots, I cut that part away and simply put the biodegradable part outside in the garden. If the plant you chose came with too much dirt, remove as much as needed to make it fit. If the opposite is true, (the plant didn’t come with enough dirt to fill your pot nicely), you may need to purchase a small bag of potting soil and add as needed.

Beach-style Sign How-To

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What you need:
A piece of lumber, 1 to 2 feet long
Screws, screwdriver
Hammer
Paint colors, (your choice)
A large paintbrush for the background color
A very fine paint brush for lettering
Picture wire ($3.18)
Wire cutters
Ruler
Pencil with eraser
Sandpaper (optional)

Directions:

1. For the piece of lumber I actually bought a “mailbox mount board” for $3.47 because it was the perfect size plus it came with a little bag of screws. Paint the board whichever color you like. I chose Valspar semi-gloss in “Sprinkler CI 250.” Choose a word or phrase and then measure lines lightly marked in pencil to guide you. (The phrase I chose, “Todo me parece bonito” ["Everything seems nice to me"] is from a Jarabe de Palo song.) Allow to dry before moving on to the next step.

2. I chose to hand letter my sign, but you can use stencils. Use a pencil to outline the text lightly and then you can paint them in. (I just used basic white craft paint which, like many of the supplies I didn’t price above, I already had on hand.)

3. Allow paint to dry completely and then gently erase any pencil marks that are still showing. Optional: If you want your sign to look more weather worn, lightly hand sand it with fine sandpaper.

4. I wanted my sign to look kind of casual and hastily made, like a real sign you might see on a beach, so I chose to make the screws and wire visible. If you don’t want the hanging mechanism to be visible, you can do it on the back side. To make your sign like mine, measure an inch in on each side of your sign on the top edge. Mark a dot at each end, which is where you’ll place a screw. Tap the screw with a hammer so that it stands on its own, and then use a screw driver to drill it in deeper, but not all the way.

5. Use wire cutters to cut a length of wire that is a couple inches longer than your board on each side. Tie the wire to each screw and wrap any extra length around the screw. Your sign is ready to hang!

Desk & Chair Makeover How-To

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What you need:
Paint of your choice (I got a gallon of Valspar semi-gloss in “Sprinkler CI 250″ – cost $34.98)
Paint brushes ($2.98 to $3.98 each, depending on size)
Sandpaper ($5.97)
Cloth rags
Old newspapers
Eye protection
Face masks – aka “respirators” (3 pack, $5.97)
Candy (to “pay” your kids to do the dirty work)
Optional: electric sander

Directions:

1. If you can, take your furniture outside when you sand it – this saves you from making the house all dusty. The purpose of sanding before you paint is to help the paint adhere better to the wood and it will save you from having to do a second coat. Use eye protection and a face mask to keep the dust from sanding out of your eyes and lungs. You can sand by hand or use an electric sander. (If you hate sanding like I do, hire your kids to do it. Mine work for candy, which Lowe’s conveniently sells.)

2. Wipe the furniture down with old rags to remove all the dust.

3. Open the paint and stir. If painting inside, spread old newspapers under the furniture to protect your flooring. If painting outside, you can do the same if you don’t want your grass painted. A gallon is more than enough to paint your average-sized desk and chair – You will have plenty leftover for other projects.

4. Allow paint to dry completely before moving your furniture or putting anything on it.

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Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, (Hashtag: #LowesCreator), watching their videos on YouTube, re-pinning them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to at LowesCreativeIdeas.com.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s to purchase products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.