DIY rustic heart wreath in 10 easy steps

This time last year I was newly unemployed, and there was a lot of extra free time for things like cooking, yard work, and some amazing craft projects (of course there were other moments filled with resume tweaking, job searching, panic, anxiety, and lots and lots of yoga)   After trimming most of the fruit trees in my yard, I was looking for something creative to do with the branches… I made a few arrangements, gave some away to people to use in weddings, and then finally settled into making these super simple heart wreaths.

With Valentines day right around the corner, and tree trimming season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to have a crafternoon and make a rustic heart wreath or two. Last year I handed these out as my valentines, and this year I’m actually selling them at Red Hills Market in Dundee. If you don’t feel like making one yourself, you know where to go.

rustic heart duo

rustic heart duo

 Rustic Home Made Heart Wreath in 10 Easy Steps.

What you will need:

  • Twine wrapped wire
  • Floral wire
  • Hot glue gun/ hot glue
  • Spanish moss
  • Approximately 6 branches/twigs
  • Wire cutters
  • Optional: brown floral tape

phonto

I recommend using fresh cuttings as they tend to be a little more bendy/ pliable. However, trimmed branches that are left out in the elements/ rain for a few days will probably work just as well. This year I’ve been using apple and Red Twig Dogwood.  Other suggestions would be cherry, plumb, crab apple or forsythia.

Prep.  Take a handful of reindeer moss out of the package and place it in a bowl.  Lay out branches in a neat pile.  Turn on some music, and if you are over 21, pour yourself a glass of wine.  Crafting is so much better with a glass of wine.

Step 1) Decide what size wreath you want to make.  (this may depend on the size of your cuttings etc.)   Cut the twine wrapped wire to desired size and make a circle, wrapping the ends together.

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Step 2) Form the wire circle into a heart shape (does not have to be exactly the shape you want the wreath, its just a guideline)   Then measure the distance between the dip of the heart and the bottom point of the heart.  Cut another piece of the twine wrapped wire and anchor the dip and the point together.   *This step is actually pretty important, because the branches have a lot of spring to them, and without the anchoring of the two points, the branches will start to pull the wreath back into a circle.

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Step 3) take the floral wire, and one of the branches, and start wrapping the wire around the branch, attaching the base of the branch to the base of the heart frame.  Make 4-6 loops (this depends on how thick of a branch or twig you are using… it doesn’t need to be perfectly secure, as we will reinforce a little later with hot glue) Cut the wire, and smooth the edges down as much as possible. You will be working on one side of the wreath with this branch, and then starting to build the second side with the next branch.

attaching the branch to the frame

attaching the branch to the frame

Step 4) Repeat step 3 higher up on the frame, securing the branch to the heart frame fairly close to where the frame begins to curve.

Step 5) being to bend the branch to make a half heart. At this point the branch doesn’t need to follow the lay-out of the heart frame. Secure the branch to the frame close to the dip of the top of the heart. And once more on the center anchoring wire close to the base of the heart.  (Since you need the anchoring wire, I like to make the branches come all the way through the middle of the heart)

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Step 6) Repeat steps 3-5 on the second side.  Keep in mind, you will be covering the wire with moss when the wreath is finished. You should decide if you want the mossy patches to be symmetrical from side to side or if you want them to be a little more random. This will dictate where on the wreath you secure the branches to the frame.

Step 7) Take the next branch and begin to repeat steps 3-5 on the first side. Trying to wrap the wire in the same places on each side. This will get a little bulky as you keep adding branches, but keep wrapping and pulling the wire tight to secure the branches. Repeat on the second side.

Step 8) Keep repeating until the wreath has reached the desired size.  I recommend using 3 branches on each side, but this depends on the side and width of the branches, how big the wreath is, and the effect you are going for.  After you have finished assembling the wreath, plug in the hot glue gun.

terrible shadow... oops

terrible shadow… oops

Step 9 ) If you would like to further camouflage the floral wire, you can wrap the wired sections of the wreath with brown floral tape.  This step is optional.

Step 10)  Take the hot glue gun, and begin attaching small clumps of moss to hide the wire.  The glue will also help reinforce the wire and keep everything  together. A little moss goes a long way, and since the Spanish moss is fairly long, you can let some of it dangle, or even weave some of the moss up the branches.  Start by hiding the wire on the front and side of the wreath, and if so desired you can also put moss on the back side of the wreath. If you used the floral tape, this probably isn’t necessary.

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Voila! You now have a rustic heart wreath, and its pretty charming.  And now you probably want to make at least seven more because you realized how easy it was, and how stinking cute they actually are.   Hang one on your front door, in your kitchen, on your back porch, give one to a friend, give five to different friends, or maybe even sell them on ETSY, because earlier when I was trying to figure out how much to sell them for I did a search for comparable items, and apparently no one is actually making  rustic heart wreaths these days. You are welcome.

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Jay’s Mid-centuryModern Kitchen

So a few months ago, I applied for a Freelance position at The Kitchn.com I Just got the official word this week that I didn’t get it (not like I was holding my breath) but since I did have a lot of fun writing this sample kitchen tour/ the kitchen of my dear friend Jay is awesome, I wanted to share it on my blog.  I had so much fun writing this/ taking all the photos, and this whole project was a huge creative outlet for me over the winter when I was unemployed, bored, a little heartbroken, and in desperate need of a project. I hope you all enjoy this brief little glimpse into Jay’s kitchen.

Jay’s Eclectic Mid Century-Modern Kitchen

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Exposed brick walls, turquoise tile, bright Descoware pots, a mis-matched four-pane window and a vintage Vitamix are just a few of the quirky features/items you notice when you walk into Jay’s kitchen. He has spent the last few years tweaking this Mid-century modern space into a room that feels casual, and functional while keeping with the era of the house. Jay is a huge fan of clean lines and minimalism, but the kitchen has just the right amount of personality to make the vast brick house seem cheerful and inviting.

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When Jay moved into his home in McMinnville, Oregon the kitchen was the only area that needed a lot of work. The house was built in 1949, and the kitchen had a drop ceiling, florescent lights, and some interesting features (pink and yellow cabinets, gaudy wallpaper, and a washer and dryer just to name a few). With a fairly conservative budget (the entire house ended up needing to be re-piped, which slightly hindered his kitchen remodel plans) and a little bit of manual labor, Jay has transformed his once cavernous feeling kitchen into a wonderfully charismatic and functional space.

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While the rest of the house is very minimalistic, the kitchen has a lot of personal touches, and pops of color. Never keen on having the same items as everyone else, Jay has spent several years acquiring some great finds at antique stores and thrift shops. He’s left most of the cabinets exposed so the unique pieces can be truly appreciated. My favorite thrift store purchase of his is a metal filing cabinet that serves as a creative wine storage rack.  Jay has also replaced a lot of the original cabinetry with a wooden potting bench, which is his favorite (and dare I say, the most functional) item in the kitchen. It serves as a great prep area, is awesome for storage, and adds a genuine splash of personality to the room.Kitchn 24

 

I sat and chatted with Jay as he skittered around the kitchen prepping a salad and re-heating some tacos for us to enjoy. The kitchen feels really comfortable and homey… which is one of the reasons he spends quite a bit of time in there. He typically eats his meals at the kitchen table while reading vintage cookbooks (sometimes out loud to his dinner guests, which is ridiculously charming).

 

10 Questions for Jay

1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?

Basil! No joke. I always have basil in my home and think that most every dish is enhanced with a fresh herb. My go to dinner is a Caprese sandwich, roasted vegetables (usually broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms & kale- roasted at 450 until they have good color!) and a salad. I eat this at least 2-3 times per week. It’s simple, fresh and I still feel as though I’ve “cooked” without a ton of effort. I also get a lot of ideas from vintage (and current) cookbooks. I’m not a recipe-driven cook, but I love reading about food trends from different decades. Just yesterday I picked up a vintage hors d’oeuvres book at an antique store.


2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?

Salt jars. I have three of them full of kosher salt strategically placed around the kitchen (one by the stove, one near a prep area and one on the little dining table). There’s something very satisfying about salting food with your fingers rather than a shaker. And, the jars, all with wood tops are really cool.
3. What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever cooked in this kitchen?

Quite recently my closest friend came over for home-made tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I learned of the soup recipe while listening to Tom Douglas on The Splendid Table radio show. When the host asked Tom what kitchen gadget he couldn’t live without, he noted an immersion blender. He explained that he never really saw the use for one, but is now a believer. I thought: “I have an immersion blender. This sounds delicious. I’m going to make it tonight” Let’s just say the immersion blender couldn’t be found (probably still packed from the move), a food processor was used, tomato soup ended up everywhere, sandwiches burnt and the wine was delicious.
4. The biggest challenge for cooking in your kitchen?

Not having an oven hood.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

Fewer lights. The fixtures I chose have three spotlights each and I installed five of them. It’s not a big kitchen. I have no idea what I was thinking.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:

A double convection oven.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?

I’d like to install some sort of shelving or cabinetry next to the fridge, and eventually I’d like to put in a new floor.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?

Fresh, not complicated, open-minded.

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9.Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:

Use kosher salt.


10. What are you cooking this week?

Caprese sandwich, roasted vegetables, salad, soft-boiled eggs… I may also make peanut bread for the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Vision Board Project

I created my first Vision Board almost five years ago…I think this was right around the time The Secret was at its height in popularity. And though I never read or watched it…everyone knows the basic principles… you have to put out there what you want back. AKA go boldly in the direction of your dreams…  Miraculously I have moved this poster board with me 4 different times  ( clearly I have issues with getting rid of things).  Currently, that original vision board lives in my storage shed… but a few months ago when I stumbled across it, I realized it might be time to make a new one. After all, my life has been in a huge transition period, and also just about everything on that original board I’ve already accomplished. Time to start new!

My Vision Board from 4+ years ago

My Vision Board from 4+ years ago

I always struggle with getting a little too specific… I think it is great to manifest something, and work towards things and sometimes that is exactly what you need… and with my last vision board it actually worked really well… I did get a bulldog named Toby, I went to Fenway Park, I got my RYT certification, and I am blogging… I didn’t get the tattoo that I was planning, but I got one I like better, and sure, I don’t have a kumquat tree… but I’ve had 3 Meyer lemon trees in the meantime, so I think that counts for something! Some stuff on there is stuff I no longer really want… like attending the University of Montana, or weighing 135 pounds (ok I still want that, but it probably doesn’t need to go on a vision board… Being motivated, sure. Healthy choices. Yes. Having perfect abs? Not so much…Ha, what was once important to me at the age of 23 now seems a bit shallow, go figure.)

This time around, I’m not as worried about specifics, as I am trying to manifest a direction I’d like my life to go in, and focusing on the things I value and things I want to incorporate more of into my life. Creativity, Love, developing my yoga practice, creating a home…  These last few months I’ve had to really take a step back and completely revise what I want to do with my life and kind of start from scratch  as far as how I identify myself and what goals I want to work towards…it’s a bit challenging to manifest specifics when life seems to be going in every which direction… so I’m going a little more abstract… and what I found was that as I was searching for materials, I was less drawn to pictures, and more drawn to words… which as a writer, I think this makes a lot of sense.

I also did a little “research” on vision boards, and actually found this article on Oprah.com really interesting.  Like its important not to over-think it, and just go with what you are drawn to. “When you start assembling pictures that appeal to this deep self, you unleash one of the most powerful forces on our planet: human imagination. Virtually everything humans use, do, or make exists because someone thought it up. Sparking your incredibly powerful creative faculty is the reason you make a vision board. The board itself doesn’t impact reality; what changes your life is the process of creating the images—combinations of objects and events that will stick in your subconscious mind and steer your choices toward making the vision real.” ( by Martha Beck. Read the full article here.)

And I think this is mostly true… for me going through old magazines and finding those few things that jump off the page is really therapeutic. And I think that is probably a huge part of the vision board, is trying to focus in on what things resonate with you, and taking the time to cut them out, consciously making a decision that “yes, this is something that I want to focus my energy on.”  Cutting stuff out, and finding those key pieces is the hard part… gluing things together is where it gets a little more creative.  I have been assembling collage supplies for years (just ask my parents how many magazines I have refused to let them recycle/ how many folders of things they had to move out my childhood home.) I started making collages when I was in high school… I even have a collaged bookshelf sitting out in my garage… (and that has moved with me 11 times… 11. It’s not even my aesthetic anymore, and wouldn’t really fit anywhere in my home, but I cannot part with it! )  and today I went through a few of the folders just making sure I didn’t have something perfect for my vision board squirreled away. It was pretty hilarious to see some of the stuff I’ve cut out over the years. Some things are very much what you would have expected a 15-year-old to hang onto (I really can’t even tell you how many magazine cut outs of Prince William there are… it’s pretty sad)  but some of the stuff just made me think “yup, I’ve always been an old soul.” And then there was an awkward moment when I started to sift through things and realized that stuff I had cut out of fashion magazines is actually now currently living in my closet… I guess manifestation really does work… because the amount of things I had cut out that I now actually own is a little creepy.

I literally have over 10 years of collage materials (condensed into one expandable folder, for the most part), and I am happy to say, that today upon the completion of my vision board, I actually recycled all the old magazines I had around the house. I’m slowly purging… it’s the little victories in life.

Once I had everything cut out, I tried to organize the pictures and words into categories or pods. There are basically 3 main themes running through the board… Yoga, Love, and Everything else (meaning, working on me, life, motivation, goals etc.)  And I tried to arrange them on the board in a way that they were concentrated in their groups, but also connected with each other, so it had a natural flow… And here it is… here I am, putting these thoughts, and this energy out into the universe, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes back as I’m starting this new chapter in my life.  It is definitely a little busy, so I tried to get some different sections so you can see more of the details.

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Turning Point (not to be confused with the ballet movie from the late 70’s)

Finally, I’ve reached the turning point. The point I always knew I would reach, the point that everyone has been telling me to get to for the last month or so. The point where I’m finally done mourning the loss of my job, (and the relationship) and I’m finally realizing that having free time at this moment in my life is actually a huge gift.

I knew I would get here eventually, but like every journey, it isn’t really something you can rush. I needed a little time to process, to hang out in the void, to wear a lot of yoga clothes and sit on my couch… and frankly, I think that is healthy. I think it is good to mentally take a step back from where you were, and take some time to really figure out where you want to go… and it takes some of us longer than others… Honestly, I’m still not entirely sure of the where part… but I’m finally not terrified of exploring that.

A few weeks ago, when my lack of a job was still very raw, someone asked me “If you could picture the perfect job for you, and the most ideal situation, what would that look like?” and I panicked… I mean almost completely shut down panicked, because I realized that I had no idea. Like, not even a little bit of an idea, and it’s a pretty scary thing when you realize that you can’t even imagine what you want your future to look like. (I’m 27… I should have some grasp, right?) I’ve always believed in the 6 month plan… 6 months is manageable, 6 months is safe, and at the end of 6 months you can reevaluate, and tweak and reorganize as necessary. And I’ve been living on this 6 month plan for almost 6 years. I take a beat, I reevaluate… and most every 6 months I decide that things are going pretty swell, and I don’t veer too far of the path I’m already on. That is until last October… that is when I changed everything…  Suddenly I had new goals, new dreams, and a new plan… and it didn’t even remotely resemble my old plan. It was fresh and exciting… and the really scary thing is that it felt 100% right. But life kept happening, and plans changed again, and suddenly I was back where I was… and it felt a little forced, and boring, and even a bit frustrating, but hey at least it was safe. It was money in the bank, it was familiar, and there is something to be said for settling back into a routine.  Well the universe once again had other plans, so there I was staring change in the face, and fighting it kicking and screaming… (and crying, there was a lot of crying) So I took a few weeks, I readjusted, I mourned, I settled into the fear… and tried to get a grip.

Through all this I felt a little pathetic. I mean I have a tattoo on my foot that is supposed to be inspiring me every day to live the life I want to live, to follow my passions… and for a really really long time, people would see this tattoo and ask me “so what is the answer for you? What do you want to do with your one wild and precious life?”  And the answer was always the same “get a bulldog, name him Toby, write something amazing, be happy” So what are you supposed to do when you are heartbroken and out of work, and you realize that you already have a dog named Toby, and you are trying to write, and have been mostly happy, and that it’s not quite enough? Furthermore, what do you do when you realize that the one thing you actually want to do more than anything else you’ve ever wanted to do is no longer an option? I’m all for wishing, and setting goals, and visualizing what you want, but at some point you just have to let it go.  You have to realize that the person you want to spend your life with doesn’t want to spend his life with you; it’s probably prudent to get a new dream. Which is easier said than done. (and then you also have all the girly baggage of realizing that if this person doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life with you, he isn’t worth your time… but you can’t get over it just like that, so it just makes you feel bad about yourself, and like you aren’t empowering yourself, and that you are in fact pathetic for still being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back… trust me, being a woman, and being in your head is a dangerous dangerous thing… then add to it the extra free time, and the not having a job thing… and I’m actually amazed it has only taken me a month to start snapping out of things… )   Most mornings I would wake up, and it would take just about everything in me to try to focus on other things. My morning mantra became “find a new dream, move on.” And I’m still working on it…

But Friday morning, it finally hit me… You know like when you are running about 20 minutes late for work and you suddenly get inspired to bleach all the grout in the shower and deep clean every room in the house? That is what it was like. I was getting ready to head to the unemployment office for my mandatory visit, and suddenly all I wanted to do was get my life in order. It’s not like I had an epiphany or anything, I’m a practical person, and I did in fact realize that I should be working on something productive with all of my free time (and several of you have been hinting at this for quite a while) but it finally all clicked together somewhere in my psyche. What better time to actually completely the millions of projects I have to do around my house? What better time to get serious about writing? What better time to be creative?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I have completely stopped working on myself over the past month. In fact that opposite is true… sure, I’ve been a sad moping version of myself, but I’ve also been exercising a lot, taking vitamins, drinking more water… I might have had a grey cloud following me around, but at least I was being physically healthy… and now it’s time to work on the mental stuff.  I’m still definitely in a transitional period in my life. Fingers crossed I will hear something about graduate school by Friday ( at least about my application to the Peer Mentor Program, which will at least be some sort of news!), but in the meantime I’m working on all the projects I’ve been putting off.

I’m writing more. Because I have the luxury of time. And it’s not always good, and it’s mostly quite rambly (current post included) but it is writing none-the-less. Ask any writer, and I guarantee he/she will tell you the importance of writing every single day… making sure you carve out time, and write just for the sake of writing… so I’m writing. And I’m reading more, and I’m looking for creative outlets. I’m trying new recipes, getting ready to start collaging, I’m making lists of house hold projects, (I think it is finally time to paint the kitchen cabinets!)  and I’m starting to do some deep cleaning and purging.  I’m taking this time off, and I’m going to make the most of it.  I actually cleaned off my desk today, and got my home office set up and ready to go. I updated my chalkboard calendar, and sucked it up and erased the corny little heart he drew around the day we met. I’m ready to be inspired, and have a clean and cheerful place to settle into! (I even burned some sage).  I really want to grow my blog, expand my readership, and hopefully start submitting pieces elsewhere.  (this is the part where I shamelessly ask you to share my blog with others, like the facebook page, and send me good thoughts and positive writing vibes.)

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I share an office with Toby… he doesn’t spend a lot of time in his crate (mostly for sleeping and time outs) but he was hiding from the vacuum…

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The corny heart. I didn’t keep it for sentimental reasons, I really just hadn’t updated my master calendar since September… shows you how much time I have been spending at my desk.

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Clean Desk, Fresh Calendar, Can’t Lose.

I’m also going to be following another passion of mine…Several months ago, after a particularly great day of teaching yoga, I had a moment when I thought “wouldn’t it be great if I could just teach yoga, and be a stay at home dog mom, and work on my writing?” Of course I promptly filed that thought under “yeah, wouldn’t that be a nice pipe dream” and let it go… and now I’m pulling it back out re-filing under “holy-s*%$, this is my reality!”  I have no idea if I can make a living off of teaching yoga… but what better time to try? I’ll be getting unemployment to supplement things, and I have time, actual time to devote to planning classes, recruiting students, and cultivating a dedicated and meaningful practice in this community, and it’s something that I am actually epically excited about. Especially at this time in my life when I’m feeling so off kilter, and like I’ve lost part of my identity. I’ve always felt that I am the best version of myself when practicing yoga… and it’s time to get back to that self.  For the rest of the month I’m experimenting with becoming a “full time” yoga teacher at 4 elements yoga.  I’m going to be teaching Power & Hatha Yoga on Monday mornings, two Hatha classes on Wednesdays and I’m also going to be subbing for Slow Burn Vinyasa, and Back & Shoulder care yoga for a few weeks.

Sure, they are all baby steps, but baby steps in the right direction.