Tag Archives: DIY

DIY: Paper Cone Wreath

You may have had the chance to read my feature in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, but I will bear the risk of sounding repetitive: this wreath is just gorgeous. This year I was inspired to use vintage book pages to make a few holiday crafts with timeless appeal. This wreath was a big project, but it was totally worth the work. Plan on this taking you about four hours. I had to work on it in shifts, since I rarely have a big block of uninterrupted time.

Supplies you will need:

  •  Straw or foam wreath form. Mine was an 18″ form, but a smaller one would take less time and material. I left the plastic wrapping on my straw form, for less mess.
  • A vintage book. Mine was about 500 pages, and I used every single one, plus a few pages from a larger old book, to create longer cones at the back of the wreath. The smallest pages measured roughly 8 1/4″ by 5 1/4″.
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Stapler
  • Metallic gold craft paint (optional)
  • Paint brush (optional)
  • Twine or ribbon for hanging




I wanted my wreath to feel a bit festive, so I painted a shimmery gold stripe down the middle of each page. This added to the overall time, to allow the pages to dry, so you can skip this step if  you want to simplify.

Roll a bunch of cones until you have a huge stock pile. This is a step I should have done, but I just rolled, as I went. It surely would have saved time to just have a big pile of cones to grab from, then glue onto the form. Play around with your rolling technique until you find a cone shape that you like, whether wider and more open or tighter and longer. Use a stapler or the glue gun to secure the cone at the bottom. I wasn’t very methodical with the rolling, so my cones ended up being sort of random widths and lengths, but I like the effect. If you painted the gold stripe, you can roll the page with the paint facing out or facing in, your choice. You’ll see it either way.

Lay down your wreath form on a large work surface. Tie a length of twine or ribbon around the wreath form, to use for hanging later. I forgot to do this at the start, and it was a bit difficult to get it on at the end!


The first layer you do will become the back of the wreath. Begin gluing cones, so that their ends are pointing in, and the openings are pointed outward. Cover the entire back surface of the wreath. Flip it over.


Next, you’ll want to glue a row of cones on the inside of the form. They will look like they are standing up, with the openings pointing out.

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Now,  you are going to fill it in. Bend down the end of a cone and fold it. Glue a row, with the ends folded in, close to the outer layer.

Continue to fold the ends and glue the cones to cover the whole wreath. You’ll notice holes to fill in with cones as you go. This process is a bit free form.

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Hang your wreath! You might even notice a few holes once it’s hanging, so just stick a cone in where you can to fill it out!

Ultimately, I needed a place to put my lamp and radio, so I ended up moving the PEACE letters after I took photos for the Sunday edition.
Ultimately, I needed a place to put my lamp and radio, so I ended up moving the PEACE letters after I took photos for the Sunday edition.
The wreath, pictured here with the decoupage letters featured in Sunday's paper.
The wreath, pictured here with the decoupage letters featured in Sunday’s paper.

Next up: directions for making the decoupage letters pictured above and the book page garland, both from Sunday’s column! Stop back later this week for those project directions. Happy crafting!



DIY: Dining Room Table Refinish

The table before it was refinished.
The table before it was refinished.

So, this dining room table refinishing project has been years in the making. And by that I mean, it’s been needing to be refinished for years. Poor table. Our family was totally abusing it. The protective finish wore off a few years ago, and stains were settling into the bare wood grain. With lots of messy baby feeding days looming in the not-so-distant future, I finally tackled it this summer.

I’ve painted lots of furniture in the past, but this was my first time refinishing and staining a piece. I’ve been known to bite off way more than I can chew, so I spent lots of time researching exactly what stain and finish I wanted and studying the steps carefully. I learned a lot, and I’m proud of my results. I’ll share my process with you.

The left hand side has been cleaned with the vinegar solution, the right has not. There was such a build-up of oils and newsprint ink.
The left hand side has been cleaned with the vinegar solution, the right has not. There was such a build-up of oils and newsprint ink.

First I cleaned the table with a water and vinegar solution, so as to remove any stuck on goo and help neutralize any grease or oils.  I used about a half cup of white vinegar to a half gallon of warm water. The wood grain was already starting to open at this point, so I didn’t want to completely saturate the table, and used a light touch with the solution.

Next I started sanding. I would recommend using a small belt or power sander, but my workshop is in the basement just underneath my daughter’s nursery. She’s usually asleep when I am working on projects, so a loud sander wasn’t an option for me. Whether you use a palm sander or do it manually, cover up anything nearby that you don’t want to get dusty. Wear safety goggles and some type of protective face mask. If your table still has a good layer of old varnish on it, you’ll probably want to strip it before sanding.

The table after a few sandings.
The table after a few sandings.

With sandpaper, the lower numbers have a coarser grit and as the numbers get higher, the finer the granules are. This table is a soft wood, perhaps fir, so I didn’t want to bite into the wood too deeply with a super coarse sandpaper. I started with 100, stepped up to 150, and then finished with 220, so that the surface was a smooth as possible. Be sure to sand with the grain of the wood, so as not to scratch or damage it.

In between sanding stages, I removed the saw dust with a tack cloth. Be sure to do a very thorough job of it after the final sanding. You don’t want the dust to mar your stain and top coat.

Fill any cracks or holes with a stain-able, sand-able wood filler. Use a plastic spackling knife and follow the directions on the tube. I used Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler MAX.

An optional next step would have been to apply a wood conditioning product, which helps the stain soak into the wood grain more evenly. In retrospect, I should have done this step, but chose to skip it in the interest of time.

The products I used for my refinishing project.
The products I used for my refinishing project.

I wanted my table to end up with a slightly white-washed look. I chose Minwax Wood Finish in Pickled Oak. (FYI, don’t bother looking for this color at Home Depot, just stop by Ace Hardware in Bremerton.) I applied the stain, going with the wood grain, with a synthetic brush and let the first coat sit for 15 minutes for maximum absorption. I removed any excess stain with a soft, dry rag. After letting it dry for five hours, I repeated this process one more time. Make sure to have proper ventilation in your work space for this step.

The first application of stain, settling into the wood, before being wiped off.
The first application of stain, settling into the wood, before being wiped off.

For my top coat, I used Minwax Water Based Polycrylic, in a satin finish, for low odor during application and easy clean-up. Wait 24 hours after applying your last coat of stain before  you layer on the top coat. Apply a thin, even coat with a synthetic brush. Don’t over brush. Let it dry for two hours, and lightly sand with a 220 grit sandpaper. Remove all dust. Repeat this process, as many times as you see fit. Since this is our main dining table, and I wanted to ensure extra protection, I did five coats.

The after. The table is stained and sealed, so it can't be damaged by our normal wear and tear.
The after. The table is stained and sealed, so it can’t be damaged by our normal wear and tear.

I’ll admit that this project was very time consuming, and took me the better part of a week, because I needed to care for my children and run a household in between steps. That said, I am so glad I did it, and am very happy with the way it turned out. Our table is now ready to withstand our daily wear and tear for quite a few more years. Next up- refinishing the dining bench to match!

The table looks great now. I'll tell you the tale of the white painted chairs another day...
The table looks great now. I’ll tell you the tale of the white painted chairs another day…
The bench is next!
The bench is next!

If it’s time to refinish your dining table, you might just be able to squeeze it in before you host Thanksgiving!

DIY: Under-bed LEGO Table

Living in a 1920’s house has its charms and drawbacks. Storage space is tight, and rooms are small. I have two small children, and as you might know, they come with lots of stuff, and more specifically, lots of LEGO. My basement is mostly unfinished and therefore, I have no dedicated play room. My oldest is very nearly five years old and my youngest is eight months old. LEGO and babies don’t mix. So, the house rule is that LEGO bricks stay in Thomas’ bedroom.

Since Thomas’s bedroom is pretty tiny and floor space is limited, I needed to come up with a solution that could, quite literally make the LEGO bricks disappear at night. My theory is that creating a dedicated play area for these tiny pieces, makes their migration into common areas of the house a little less likely.

The under-bed space is largely underutilized as storage in general, and Thomas’ room is no exception. Since most LEGO play time happens on the floor anyway, I had it in my mind to create some type of surface that could slide under the bed at night. This is what I came up with.

Using a scrap piece of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), I had on hand, I crafted a rolling LEGO table. It was pretty simple to make, and you could make this piece just about any size you want. It took four easy steps.


  1. Screw in four swivel casters with brakes. I used casters with brakes so the table won’t slide away from Thomas as he is playing on it. The only down side to this is that they are a bit tricky, so I have to help him set and unlock the brakes.IMG_0756
  2. Use a miter box to cut trim for the edges of the table. The last thing you want is for the LEGO creations to go careening off the side of the table when you push it under the bed at night. Meltdowns will ensue… I used a 1″ square cedar trim from Home Depot, but almost any type of decorative trim or quarter-round would work.
  3. Adhere the trim to the table. I used Gorilla Glue with clamps, then secured the trim with finishing nails.photo (17)
  4. Paint it. I used two coats of Behr’s Ultra White primer and paint in one. Of course, I had help, I’d be nowhere without my little shop assistant! If you wanted to, you could paint some streets on the surface, or glue down a few of those green LEGO building plates. We are not quite so sophisticated yet.IMG_0799

Done! The only challenge left was getting it to fit under the bed. Thomas’s bed is low to the ground, so I spray painted a set of bed risers that were collecting dust in the basement. We effectively gained a few more inches to accommodate those taller LEGO structures.


I know that the LEGO obsession is likely going to last at least another nine or ten years, if not more, according to my teenage nephews. In that time, we may very well move to a different home with more room to set up for hobbies and play,  but this solution is working just beautifully for now.