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DIY Patriotic Plates (Under $1 Each!)



I have a problem. If I had to diagnose it, I’d call it I-can-never-find-premade-holiday-decorations-that-are-not-tacky-so-I-HAVE-to-make-them-osis. I think most everyone else would just call that OCD.

That diagnosis is also only 80% true – 10% of my decorations are brand new, store bought items that I run myself ragged trying to find and the other 10% are thrifted pieces that every time I buy I can hear my husband as a little voice in my head saying, “don’t we have enough Christmas decorations?” No, sweetheart, and we never will. 🙂

Independence Day happens to be one of those holidays were literally every store bought decoration is just caked with glitter. (No, Smash Mouth, all that glitters is NOT gold.) I do have a handful of 4th of July decorations that I’ve picked up after HOURS of slaving over a hot PC, using my horrible Google-fu to come up with 100 different versions of “patriotic decor” and Hobby Lobby has a decent selection of things I would consider to be my style but my house is still lacking the usual amount of holiday spirit.

One of my absolute favorite things to decorate is the hutch at the head of our huge, nine foot farmhouse table. It lets me keep decor on the table simple because I want lots of room for food on my table! For each holiday, I have three corresponding centerpiece plates that get switched out – and the majority of those, I DIYed using the same technique I used for my 4th of July plates.

Why not just buy plates? Because I’m picky and not just any plate will work; when I find something that I fall in love with, I can’t go back and just settle for something else. What did my countless hours of Googling “patriotic decor” find me? The most amazingly perfect plates for my 4th of July hutch…with the most ridiculous price tag. I immediately fell in love with the Stars & Stripes dinner plates by Polish Pottery – but at $34.50 each, um, no. So I took the inspiration from the plates I fell in love with and made my own version for under $1 each!



items needed:
white dinner plates (I use the $0.88 Mainstays dinner plates found at Walmart)
red and blue Sharpies (I used the dark blue)
circle templates in 7.25″, 6.5″, 5.5″, 4.5″, 3.5″, 2.5″ and 1.5″
star template found here (I printed mine in wallet size)
rubbing alcohol
cotton balls/swabs


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStarting with the 7.25″ circle, trace all your circle templates in order from largest to smallest, taking care to center each template. Use the blue Sharpie for the 7.25″ circle and the red for all the remaining circles.

Color in your center circles using the red Sharpie. You’ll want to color in the sections between circles 6.5″ and 5.5″, 4.5″ and 3.5″ and 2.5″ and 1.5″. (See photo above.)



Using the blue Sharpie, trace as many stars as you’d like around the outer edge of your plate. I just eyeballed the space between mine and ended up with 12 stars total. Color in the outer edge. For me, I could not get my blue Sharpie to go on smoothly, so if you look closely, you can see streaks through the blue – but when they’re in the hutch, you can’t even tell.

If you have any stray marks from your Sharpies, less than perfect lines or you totally screwed up a portion of your plate, fear not! Wet a cotton ball or swab with a little rubbing alcohol and easily wipe away any unwanted Sharpie and start over.


As a last optional step, I retraced all the lines of each star without the template. This gives the stars a nice, sharp edge. I highly recommend taking the extra time to do this step because 1) the lines are REALLY hard to get perfect between tracing, coloring in the border and then using rubbing alcohol to clean up and 2) it will be almost impossible (and extremely time consuming) to try and use a cotton swab to make those lines super crisp.

I like to wait 24 hours before baking my plates to let the ink really dry. (The range seems to vary from tutorial to tutorial, so if you’re concerned you can let the plates dry up to 72 hours.) After the drying time, place your plates in an unheated oven and set it to 350 F. Bake your plates for 30 minutes (again, the time varies here in different tutorials up to an hour), shut off the heat and let your plates cool in the oven. At this point, the design on your plates should be permanent and will withstand handwashing. Personally, I have NEVER washed my plates because they are purely decorative, so I can’t tell you my experience with washing.

Like I said, I have different versions of Sharpie plates for almost every holiday; they add such a nice touch and people always comment on them. For under $1 each, you really can’t go wrong!

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polish pottery red stripe mason jar    star runner  sharpies


1 Year Anniversary!









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I try not to think about our wedding day. Don’t get me wrong, it was the best day of my life, but think about all the details and the stress I was under gives me a mini panic attack. However, today is our anniversary and I will remember. As much as I give myself hives thinking about the hurricane and the little things that I had no control over, it all goes away when I think about the underlying meaning of our wedding day.

We’re married. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. We have experienced so much together and there is not a single person I’d rather be jumping in feet first with. My husband is the most amazing man I have ever met. I am so blessed to have someone who truly completes me and has helped me create a life I never thought I’d have. He allows me to be a stay at home wife (and one day a stay at home mommy), focus on what’s important to the two of us and to go on trips I’d never be brave enough to take myself.

My husband is a million things to me, none of which I could ever put in words accurately enough to even begin to cover it. He is my logic and my comedy, my strength and my weakness, my greatest support and my most honest critic, my protector and my encourager. Without him, I wouldn’t know what to do.

Our first year of marriage has been full of adventures. We spent our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, we bought our first house and in two weeks we will be heading to Ireland for nine days. This year has just flown by and I am truly looking forward my second year as a “Mrs”!

Almost all of our wedding was DIY. From the flowers, to the cakes and pies, to the signs and placecard holders, we did it all! If you all are interested in a more detailed DIY wedding write up, I’d be happy to do it! Just let me know.

*All photography was done by Glimpse Photography. They have since retired.

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Food & Parties

DIY Dinosaur Birthday Decor Under $50







This past weekend my nephew turned one! Well, he turned one Monday, but his first birthday party was on Saturday. Being the Martha Stewart I am, I was enlisted to help with party planning and although there were some setbacks, we managed to pull everything off under my sisters’ budget. (And try not to mind the photos – it was super bright outside the pavilion, super dark under it, the wind was insane and I was stressed to the max trying to get everything done before guests arrived.)

First, let me start by saying the budget was a challenge. I was given a food budget of $50 to feed the entire invited number of 86 people, of which about 45 came. Still, $50 for 45 mostly adult people is not a huge number to work with. But that’s for another post. Our decor budget was really low and although a number was never given, we gave it our best to stay as low as possible.

A major tip when planning parties is to shop your house first. You need a banner? See if you have some unused construction paper or cardstock lying around from another project. Need party plates? Check your stockpile that you have filled with FREE paper plates instead of spending $1 per pack of eight for a certain color – nobody really cares what color your plates are.

Dinosaur Banners
Budget: I already had a roll of twine, some construction paper and white acrylic lying around so we only bought a pack of kraft cardstock using a 40% coupon from Hobby Lobby. Total out of pocket for our party: $2.50 and there’s plenty leftover for other projects. If you had to go buy twine, construction paper, white acrylic and kraft cardstock your out of pocket would be about: $12. (And you would have plenty left over to do a load of other banners!)

Craft: We cut the kraft cardstock into 5x7s (you’ll need enough of those for letter and print parts of all the banners) and then 6 6x8s for the dinosaurs on the ends of each banner. We then used a stencil (I already had these – you can purchase or make your own) to write out “Parker’s one!”, “gifts” and “candy brawr!”. Using these templates (t rex, stegosaurus, diplodocus, footprint) we traced, cut and glued down the accent pieces – remember to use your 6x8s horizontal for the dinosaur ends! Finally, we punched holes in all the pieces and threaded the twine through. Easy peasy!

Dinosaur Balloons
Budget: Here is where our budget doubled overnight and if you don’t do what we did, it won’t happen to you! We bought three packs of balloons for $1 each at Dollar Tree (that was the first mistake – they just don’t hold the helium well) and got them filled at our local Food Lion for $0.80 each. We decided on six bunches of three and one extra of each color should we have some deflating issues. We filled the balloons at about 8pm the night before the party and by the time I got up at 5:30 the next morning half the balloons were down and by 10am the rest had deflated as well. IF YOU USE CHEAP BALLOONS DO NOT MAKE THESE IN ADVANCE! We ended up having enough leftover balloons to not have to buy more, but still had to pay $0.80 a balloon AGAIN and they still hardly lasted over 5 hours. Total out of pocket for our party: $41.40 ($3 balloons, $16.80 for helium the first time and then $21.60 the second time because the employees at Food Lion did not listen to “fill up six of each color and ended up filling all the balloons we gave them”) If you do not have our problems your total out of pocket would be about: $21.80.

Craft: Using the leftover construction paper from the dinosaur banners, we cut out dinosaur body parts using the following templates: t rex, stegosaurus, diplodocus. Before you begin you’ll want to cut any string they may have tied to your balloon because you won’t be having them float the “correct” way. Position your balloon in a way that resembles whatever dinosaur body your trying to create. For a stegosaurus, it will be totally horizontal, where for the rex and diplodocus it will be more diagonal. Tape your dino parts on your balloon and then tape the string underneath the dinosaurs’ body so he’ll be right side up. For a visual on what I mean by body positioning, check out this post.

Party Dino Centerpieces
Budget: These dinosaurs are only $1 at Walmart and if you don’t want them as toys after the fact, give them away or sell them at a yard sale and make some of your money back! We ended up having six tables, with three on each making that 18 dinosaurs. We also picked up a pack of mini pom poms at Hobby Lobby for $1.99. Total out of pocket for our party: $19.99.

Craft: Using more of the leftover construction paper, my sister cut out mini party hats using this template. She hot glued the edges, added a pom pom to each hat and then hot glued them to the dinosaurs’ heads. Really simple and really cute.

Our total out of pocket for the party decor (had we not had to refill balloons with helium) was $42.29. Issues happen and you have to deal with it, but for the sake of this post, we’ll pretend it didn’t. 🙂

If you all are interested in hearing more about how we fed 45 people for under $50 (not including cake), please let me know! To see my outfit, read this post.

And remember, I’m running a giveaway through September 28th, so be sure to check out this post as well! Good luck!

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