Woodsy Boutonnieres, (Fake) Flower Crowns, and How To Arrange Bouquets at Home

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I talked all about my wedding in my last post (Oh Sweet Love – I’m Married!) and I’m going to talk about it just a little bit more in this post. What can I say, the post-wedding-bliss just hasn’t died out yet. In this post I want to talk specifically about three things: handmade boutonnieres, handmade flower crowns, and bouquet arranging at home.

I will not claim to be a flower expert. In fact, all I know about flowers is that they are gorgeous, and about 90% of the time they look beautiful without ornament of any kind. Traditionally at weddings, flowers abound. However, hiring a florists often ends up costing as much the venue itself, and this was just one vendor I didn’t particularly care to invest that much in.

A florist’s goods include bouquets, flower arrangements (center pieces, etc), boutonnieres, and the occasional flower crown (this is a rather new fad, though). One of the iffy things about fresh flowers is that they last only so long – timing is key. A florist has to make sure the flowers (boutonnieres and flower crowns included) are prepared well enough so that they will not wilt during pictures and during the pre-wedding bustle.

My thoughts on all this were: What is the point of fresh flower boutonnieres, anyway, when they wilt and die and are consequently thrown out? (Not like boys like wearing flowers anyway. Girls love ornamenting themselves, even if it can only be for a couple hours, but boys…no.) Flowers crowns are pretty, but like the boutonnieres, wouldn’t I rather be able to keep what I wear? and, How hard could flower arranging really be? If you’ve got the goods, then surely the flowers themselves do most of the work. On this account, I was right.

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So I decided to make lasting keepsake boutonnieres for the boys. I really like the look of the paper flowers at Hobby Lobby, and they also have lovely dried baby’s breath there, which was the perfect pop of filler. What I like most about the paper flowers is that they are realistic looking enough (they don’t look plastic like a lot of fake flowers) but they retain a certain degree of whimsy that sometimes isn’t even attained with fresh flowers.

To arrange these flowers, I simply cut the stem to the right length and wrapped them in flower tape (also from Hobby Lobby, in the flower arranging aisle). It took maybe five minutes.

As for the precious wooden deer pin (the best man’s boutonniere was a bear, and my sister’s similar hairpiece was a bunny): Sketch.Inc on Etsy is how that happened. Becky Kemp, the shop owner, hand makes a plethora of animal pins that are simply perfect for a woodsy affair.

I put a dab of hot glue on the back of the pin to attach the flowers, and now I have an extra something to remind me of my perfect wedding day. I probably won’t get Grant to ever wear it again, but pictures are proof he did it once, and I guess that’s enough for me 😉

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Now on to my flower crown. This was more labor intensive than the boutonnieres, but that’s okay, especially considering how it turned out. Let’s just say I was pleased. I used the same paper flowers from Hobby Lobby, and as you can see they look surprisingly similar to the real flowers I used in my bouquet. My photographer actually mistook the fake flowers on my headband for real. “I’m surprised those flowers haven’t wilted at all in the sun!” she said after taking about a hundred photos of Grant and I in a field. I laughed.

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To begin, I bought a thick lace headband, flowers and greenery, ribbon, and a large lace flower appliqué (all from Hobby Lobby). I used needle and thread to attach two pieces of ribbon to the headband (long ribbon, to be braided in with my hair). This way, there was more structure for the weight of the flowers without compromising flexibility. I deconstructed the green roses in order to attach them and make them more pliable. For the most part, I sewed the flowers on with thread, but for extra protection I used hot glue dabs on each flower. I didn’t want flowers raining down as I walked down the aisle.

For my woodsy wedding, this fake flower crown was just perfect.

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Now on to the flower/bouquet arranging. There was a lot of risk in this decision. Think of all the ways it could go wrong – the flowers come wilted, they wilt during the festivities, the bouquets get too cold/hot, there’s not enough time for arranging flowers with everything else. Yes, we kept this all in mind, but in the end we decided to take a chance (kind of like choosing to have an outdoor wedding at the end of July, and we all know how that turned out!).

We ordered the flowers online from a site called fiftyflowers.com. They have every type of flower imaginable; roses of every color, asters, snapdragons, tulips, dahlias, and hydrangeas, galore! In fact, the first time I looked at the website I was so overwhelmed that I had to shut my computer off and bake a cake. But nevertheless, after hours of painstaking decision making, I finally decided on a few beautiful blooms: Green Lisianthus, Pink Ranunculus, Pink Matsumoto, Poppy Pods, White Aster, Scabiosas, and Maidenhair Fern. I stuck with light pink and white for colors, because I am a big fan of simplicity. Too many colors can cause confusion.

I made up the bouquets (one for me, one for the maid-of-honor, and two backups) two nights before the wedding. It took a while, considering I was new at the whole wedding-bouquet-arranging thing. Then right before the rehearsal dinner, me and an army of my friends made the flowers into simple arrangements for the picnic tables. We had at least 50 mason jars to fill, and it took probably three hours. Though it was time consuming, it was an enjoyable job.

The morning of the wedding we had an unfortunate happenstance with the bouquets. Before the rehearsal dinner, some kind-hearted friends of mine placed the bouquets in the fridge because they figured they would keep better in there. No one knew that the fridge was closer to a freezer, and I didn’t have the hindsight to check on the flowers before bed. By morning they were popsicles! So when we awoke at 7, we were in a mad scramble to remake at least 3 more bouquets…luckily I didn’t have a thousand bridesmaids! With the help of my faithful friends and sister, all went well, and the new bouquets turned out even prettier than the first (which, believe me, didn’t seem possible).

We finished off the bouquets with a simple bow of thick crochet lace. We left the stems rough because I like the look of wildflower bouquets – organic, natural. All the flowers turned out lovely. I don’t think I could have been happier with a florist!

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So overall, doing your own flowers comes with risks. The real question is whether you are willing to take those risks. If you are inclined to crack under pressure, then making your own bouquets is probably not for you. Likewise, if you don’t enjoy the simple pleasure of arranging flowers, don’t do it. However, I will always advocate boutonnieres that will last and headbands that can be worn again. Those keepsakes are just priceless.

🙂

Oh Sweet Love – I’m Married! (This Post Is All About My Perfect DIY Wedding)

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Ten days ago I became a wife and, needless to say, I am currently residing in a quagmire of marital bliss. Life is fantastic as a married woman so far. Apartment decorating, making roasts in the crockpot for my husband, etc etc. All I can say is ❤ ❤ ❤

I would like to take this post to brag about my perfect wedding. Essentially the whole shindig was Do-It-Yourself, so this post will contain a plethora of sneak peaks for DIY posts to come. It’s more about the day, though, than the crafts. It was a beautiful wedding, and I kinda just want to talk about it.

Notice my headband and his boutonniere. *Handmade items; post to follow*

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First off, every one always said I was a courageous soul for planning an outdoor wedding at the end of July in Iowa. Normal weather conditions: HOT, humid, windy. It was a risk, but I wanted what I wanted, and the chance was well worth the worry. The day was a perfect one for a wedding – mid 70s, slight breeze, and not a drop of rain in sight. The hollyhocks and sunflowers were blooming in the garden and storms from the week before had revived the grass to a vibrant green.

So a utopian day was the backdrop to a painstakingly planned event – a whimsical, woodsy affair, complete with homemade jam, papier-mache woodland creatures, and yard games.

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We got married amid the flora and fauna of Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids, Iowa. Our ceremony overlooked the rolling hills carved out from glaciers thousands of years ago. The long grass danced in the wind behind us as sweet words were spoken about the roots of love and glorious blessings of the One above.

I walked down the aisle to “Liz on Top of the World” from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, which has been my favorite musical soundtrack since eighth grade. It’s only fitting I would walk down the aisle to it. If I had to name a favorite part of the ceremony, though, it would be the Tree Watering Ceremony. Instead of the Unity Candle, we decided to go with a Unity Tree – to symbolize the growth of love, the endurance of it, and the fruits it can produce (ours is an apple tree). I had a great time painting the pot. It is simply a large plastic planter from Lowe’s that I adorned with florals and deer and our wedding date.

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The ceremony was literally straight from my dreams. Every part of it was magical, even when I was hidden on the second level, screened-in porch right next to the ceremony site, spying on guests as they sat and watching the grandparents, parents, and wedding party walk down to “Secret Life of Daydreams” for the processional. Then, being pronounced Man and Wife was probably the happiest moment of my life. Thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes.

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Much fun was to be had at the reception as well. We had bean bag toss, yard scrabble, badminton, croquet, a plant-your-own-flowers stand, and a little bit of dancing. For guest favors, my mom, sister, and I slaved for hours on some homemade jam! Of course, being who we are, we could not settle for mere ordinary flavors. Our flavors were:

  1. Honey Peach Vanilla
  2. Beet Apple
  3. Vanilla Grapefruit Marmalade
  4. Maple Strawberry Vanilla
  5. Blueberry Peach (sugar free)
  6. Apple Tomato Lemon
  7. Perfect Peach
  8. Strawberry Marmalade
  9. Blueberry Lavender

Experimenting with flavors was 90% of the fun. Making jam itself is such a great time, too, though!

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Finally, for our masterful cake. You may recognize the cake topper. It worked absolutely perfectly on this traditional Norwegian cake called Kransekake. It is not your normal cake – fluffy, sinfully sweet, etc – but rather more similar to a cookie. It is made out of almond paste, sugar, and eggs. That’s it, and it is delicious. While I myself did not bake this cake (a friend of my grandma’s did), my sister and I put it together on the morning of the wedding. Funny story, actually. The wedding was at 2. We were supposed to start getting ready with the photographer present at 10:00. All morning we were so busy decorating and making bouquets that we completely forgot about constructing the Kransekake! At 10:15 we rushed into the kitchen, and yet it still turned out absolutely lovely. I couldn’t have paid a million dollars for a prettier cake.

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With all that said, all that’s left is: BAM! happily ever after. Hopefully the rest of our life together will be as breathtaking, whimsy-full, and perfect as our wedding day was.

Poppyseed Havarti Banana Bars

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I’m getting married to this man in less than two weeks!!!! It seems sooo crazy, and apart from planning, working, and of course running fabulous races full of color, I don’t have time for anything. My apologies for the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks, and there is a strong possibility that this lack of posts will endure until after my wedding. But that’s all right; a lot of good things are happening in my life.

Of course, getting this close to the wedding, I’ve been having quite a few weird, wedding-related dreams that have me in a panic from the first minute I’m awake. For instance, last night I dreamed that Grant and I and my whole family didn’t realize it was 1:47 pm, Sunday, July 28th (13 minutes before the ceremony is set to start) and we were still at home in Texas (13 hours away from where we were supposed to be). I wasn’t dressed or make-upped; the only thing ready was my hair, which, I must admit, looked fabulous. Of course, later in the dream we found out that it was not actually Sunday but rather Thursday. Crisis adverted. Dreams are weird.

With all this craziness going around, baking still sets my mind at ease, and though I don’t have much time for it at the moment, I still manage to get some sort of treat in every once in a while. My recent treat was Poppyseed Havarti Banana Bars. I couldn’t resist buying the 99 cent bag of bananas from fareway the other day, which resulted in having three bunches of overripe bananas. These bananas bars have a twist with the havarti (one of the best types of cheese in the world) and are heart healthy with oatmeal and pure maple syrup for a subtle sweetness. Great for breakfast or dessert.

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In other news, I had a grand time running the Color Run in Des Moines this weekend with my sister, Papa, and fiancé. Though most of the people participating in this “race” walked the whole way, it was an exhilarating run – especially when we came to the clouds of color dust.

Here is a before and after picture; so clean before, so colorful after!

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If you ever have the chance to run the Color Run you most definitely should! It is a little spendy, but it makes for a great Saturday.

But back to baking. Here is my fantastic Banana Bar recipe. And also, don’t forget to vote for my Honey Fig Tea Cake on Narnia’s Facebook Page for The Great Narnia Cooking Contest!

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Poppyseed Havarti Banana Bars

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups oats, finely processed
1/4 cup walnuts, finely processed
2 mashed bananas
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup shredded harvarti cheese
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp poppyseeds
1 egg
1/4 tsp almond extract

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mash 2 bananas. Combine bananas, syrup, vanilla, egg, and almond extract. Stir well. In a separate bowl, combined processed oats, processed walnuts, salt, baking soda, and poppyseeds. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and mix until well combined.

2. Fold shredded havarti into the batter until evenly distributed.

3. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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GIANT SCRABBLE!

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To all of you who are getting married in the near feature, don’t steal my idea. Yards games at the outdoor reception! Okay, fine, I guess you can steal my idea if you want. It is a really great idea. I’m known for those. So yeah. Yard games. I cannot wait for my wedding day because I just know it’s going to be the loveliest, most fun day imaginable (barring rain, knock on wood). The ceremony will be overlooking a garden and a valley of gorgeous hills and the reception will be part in a barn (where the dancing will happen) and part in the glorious sun.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

I’m planning on croquet, badminton, bean bag toss, and of course this stroke of genius (courtesy of my sister) – giant scrabble!

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The pieces are remarkably easy to make. Just hop on over to your local Lowes, go to the wood section, and choose the kind that is half an inch thick. My terrific fiancé cut all the pieces to size (6″ x 6″) and then sanded the edges. I finished the wood with wood stain and then painted on the letters and score points. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Took a while though.

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The reason I chose to have this game is that word games are the most fun games in the world (in my humble opinion). My personal favorite is actually Boggle, but free style scrabble, also called Take 2, is a close second. A normal game of Scrabble has 100 tiles, and  each letter has an appropriate proportion of the total (based on how common the letter occurs in English). It was actually somewhat complicated to figure out what ratio of letters we needed to make, considering we have significantly less tiles than 100. Nevertheless, the game will be grand fun! Just one more reason to be counting down the days till I’m an old married woman 😉

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Homemade Books are Magical, and Bookish Terminology

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I love books for both their content and their aesthetic form. If I wanted to just read all the time I would merely own my ebook and chuck the rest, but that’s just not the thing. I have hundreds upon hundreds of books because a house doesn’t seem homey without them. I like the way the stacks look on the shelves, I like how they make up the main part of my decor, I like how they smell and make lots of thoughts run through my head and how the covers make patterns from a distance.

I LOVE BOOKS.

So last fall I had an epiphany. I make a bunch of stuff – crafts and the like – but never had I made my own book. Because, I mean, come on, it’s a book. Yet books are my favorite form of art and my most treasured possessions. Maybe I hadn’t ever thought about making one myself because they are so revered in my mind. But when I started to realize all the possibilities, I just about lost it.

Obviously, thoughts aren’t pre-collected in the books I am binding, they are blank, but that’s okay. They can be filled with art or words or anything really, and the best part is that everything that goes into making one is essentially scraps (cardboard, white paper, leftover fabric pieces).

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Look at this beauty. Okay, so maybe only a devoted book lover would actually go to the trouble of binding her own notebook. Sure you could buy one at Barnes & Noble that would probably look more slick, but I like choosing exactly what goes on the cover and knowing my own hands hewed it. This specific book (which says “Oh Sweet Love” not “Oh Sneet Love” as my brother initially thought) is going to be used as a guest sign-in/words-of-wisdom book for my wedding.

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Teaching myself how to bind books was really fun because I learned all sorts of bookish terminology. For instance, the cluster of pages pictured in the image above is called a signature.

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The page edge opposite the binding is called the face. Because I don’t do a final trim of the face, the edge is rough. This is called a deckle.

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Sewing the books together in signatures rather than all at once is called oversewing, and is practiced to allow more flexibility to the spine.

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Of course there are lots of terms that I won’t mention here because I don’t want to bore you. But I do want to say that I love seeing the way the cover looks before it becomes a cover, and how the spine is glued to the fabric first.

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Essentially this process of learning how to bind books has caused me to deeply examine not only the form of the book, but of the mechanics behind the book as well. It makes me greatly – and I mean greatly – appreciate those dedicated souls in the olden days who hand bound everything. One book takes me half a day to make, and this is at a relatively brisk pace. It’s a lot of work, and yet we have millions of books in print today. This amazes me. Not to mention, binding books that are printed are waaaaay more complicated – you have to number the pages, within the signatures…Makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

If you’d like to try your hand at binding books, this tutorial, The Basic Binding of Books by Jamie Butler, is a great one to use. Happy booking!

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Pretty Paper Lanterns

I feel as though I’m in a bit of a lull right now. I don’t have any concrete goals, and it makes my life seem rather bland. I mean, sure, I do cool things: like roaming the Des Moines farmer’s market in the cold rain, watching my cousins capture about a thousand toads in a bucket, meeting with wedding planners and going to nature preserves… Life is good right now, I just want a little more direction. Complete freedom only goes so far.

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Sometimes doing hours of mundane craft works to get me out of lulls such as these. Not to say the end product is mundane, but the process can be rather arduous with these paper lanterns. It’s a lot of cutting. This craft is much easier, however, than my fabric lanterns, which is why I promised to post about it.

All you need is paper, scissors, an exacto knife (I used the tiny swivel blade kind), a stapler, and string.

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As long as you’re willing to put in the work, it’s really easy. Cut three pieces of paper in lengths that get progressively shorter. Scallop ends and with exacto knife cut out hearts. Staple the sides together and make your other sizes. When finished, staple a separate length of rope to the top of each cylinder and then take a longer strand and tie each one together. You can make these lanterns varying sizes.

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Don’t forget to save your cut out hearts and do something cool with them. If nothing else, use them as confetti!

Now, I think I might go bake something.

Welcome Wreaths and Raffia Obsessions

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Welcome!

Ahhhh, there’s just nothing like feeling wanted as soon as you walk through a door. That’s why I love wreaths! Even if they don’t physically sport the word “welcome” they are a feast for the eyes and a hug for the heart. As long as they’re pretty, that is. This wreath was actually in my grandma’s garage sale pile before I snatched it away. It was covered with that fake ivy stuff (which isn’t the best, but it definitely could have been worse) so I deconstructed it and redecorated it in a fashion that I would like to see before walking into a room or a house.

That moss stuff you can buy at Hobby Lobby is just great. I hadn’t used it until I made my wedding cake topper, but my crafting life has truly changed since then. I love this stuff, and with the hot glue gun it’s like magic. Raffia, too, is something I will never go without again. It’s fantastic and adds the perfect touch of garden whimsy to anything.

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The letters are the best part of my wreath though. They look great but  are simply cut out pieces of cardboard, covered with mod podge. That’s it!

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In the spirit and style of my wreath I decorated this forgotten little bird’s nest. It has lived undressed in my grandma’s house for years, and I figured it was finally time to give it something to be proud of. I’m not yet sure what its use will be, but I’ve thought about it long and hard. It would make a great ring holder for my wedding ceremony, but as we have no ring bearer I have a feeling that’s not going to happen… It would look rather silly for the best man to walk down the aisle with a dainty bird nest in hand.

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Finally, for my stick bundle thingy. I know there is a technical term for these things, but for the life of me I cannot think of the name. I wracked and wracked my brain, but to no avail. This is why I am constantly worrying about my mental health. But I digress. I also reconstructed this bundle from a previous state of bland. Raffia and moss and precious little flowers and BAM beautiful. Now I have a set of pretties, to be strategically placed around my home. This is why I love crafts, old stuff, and generosity.

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Fabric Lanterns (For Decoration, Not Light)

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Maybe it looks like there’s a bulb inside this charming little lantern, but there’s not. It’s just the light from the fixture it’s hanging from. Even so, I call these lanterns because I can’t think of a better name for them. They were inspired by the Chinese paper lanterns that always show up at parties or on pinterest, but I wanted to do something a little less chinese and more whimsical. Something more me, and as is the pattern, that culminated in a scalloped, hearted, frilly thing.

The lantern pictured above was the first one I made and a little rough around the edges, but I still really love the way it looks. They’ve gotten much easier to make and better looking as I’ve gone on, and also the choice of hoop (metal or wood) really makes a difference with the finesse of the end product. The first one is made out of thin metal hoops I found at Hobby Lobby, while the other two are fashioned with wooden embroider hoops.

As always, choice of fabric is really what makes a difference with these lovely little creations. Be sure to have on hand three hoops of diminishing size, three types of fabric, thread and a sewing machine, string or rope, and a hot glue gun.

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The process is a rather long and arduous one and it took me forever to figure out a good way to do it. No shortcuts on this one, I’m sad to say. I recommend starting with tying the hoops together. Cut three long pieces of string and double knot onto the hoops in a downward fashion with about four inches of space between them, making sure to get each of the three strands even. This is important, as if it does not hang even it will look rather awkward.

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Next, cut out your fabric pieces, making sure to cut them long enough to fit around the entire circumference of your circle.

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Scallop the ends and cut heart patterns out. I’ve also considered cutting out stars, but I will admit that stars seem a lot harder to cut out than hearts. Not to mention, with the fabrics I used hearts are better suited anyway. The cutouts are pretty important for the final product, though. They really add something to the lantern – they make it more a little more light-like and carefree (if a lantern can be carefree).

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When you’ve finished with the cutouts, sew the two ends together with a neutral thread. Finally, hot glue the top of the fabric to the hoop. Glue to the backside and fold the fabric over, making a clean finished product.

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And viola! Two hours later and the lantern is complete! (Maybe it wouldn’t take you two hours, but I guess I’m a slow worker… slash perfectionist?)

I have dreams of making like a thousand of these lanterns and hanging them up at my wedding, but I must admit that the labor- and time-intensive process gets me down at times. To remedy this situation, I’ve created a different lantern of the same shape and spirit but in paper form, which is much quicker and easier, and almost as pretty. It garners the same effect, at least. I will post a tutorial for my paper lanterns later.

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Papier-Mâché Woodland Creatures, Part 3: Oregano the Doe

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Spring is here, flowers are blooming! Oregano the Doe got a taste of balmy air and pollen this morning. As did the other animals. Welcome to your natural habitat!

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I don’t have certain plans for my animals yet, but they may serve as centerpieces on the tables at my wedding reception. There’s nothing I like more than the whimsy come from woodland creatures and floral fabric – it’s a recipe for perfection! In conjunction with real flowers, crepe paper flowers, jars, and tea lights, visions of my wedding are dancing in my head…Three months away! I can hardly wait.

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On another note, the flowers are blooming just in time for summer. I have one week left of class – freedom is on my tongue.

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