Gratitude Journal Day 17

Today I am grateful for:

  1. getting to have breakfast with my dad before he went to work. I’m usually never up that early.
  2. finishing the book Safe Haven, by Nicholas Sparks. It was so good. I’m thinking about posting a review on it. Comment below if you’d like me to!
  3. going to Dovewood Court. It’s a court in Orangevale, California that goes crazy with Christmas lights and decorations. I go every year, and I made my annual trip tonight.
  4. going to Dovewood Court with people I love. It’s always nice to be in the company of family and friends.
  5. remembering to bring home my little box of Christmas decorations from college. Although I can’t decorate a whole house this year, I managed to finally trim my little pink tree and add a little holiday spirit to the room I’m staying in.
  6. the world still spinning. I have to admit, 12/21/12 had me a little on edge.

Cover of "Safe Haven"

Dovewood Court

Dovewood Court

What are you grateful for today?

DIY Framed Bulletin Board

Framed Bulletin Board

When thinking of frames, pictures usually come to mind. However, sometimes frames come to life when they hold things other than pictures, or even nothing at all. Deanna is a sales associate at Aaron Brothers Art & Framing in San Luis Obispo. … Continue reading

Thanksgiving Banner

In my last post, I talked about using bunting and banners as holiday decoration. Now I can show you how easy and fun they are, because I made my own!

Thanksgiving Banner

This banner was super quick and easy to make. I think it took me less than 15 minutes.

I had some extra scrapbooking paper on hand, so I picked out a few patterns that reminded me of fall. Then, I cut the same size triangle out of all of them.

Scrapbook paper cut into flags

(A good tip: figure out how big you want each flag – or triangle – to be with your first piece of paper and then use that as a stencil for the rest.)

Then, I wrote out each letter on a separate flag with metallic gold acrylic paint.

This paint is great for fall. I’ve been using it in all of my crafts in the past few weeks because I love it so much!

Folkart Metallic Gold Acrylic PaintGold "E"

After the paint dried, I outlined each letter with a brown sharpie to make the letters stand out against the busy patterns.

Then, I punched a hole in each corner of the flag and threaded yarn through each hole.

Its so simple and it was a free and festive decoration since I had everything on hand!

What do you have in your craft stash that you could transform into fun holiday decoration?



It’s That Time of Year!

Happy Halloween! It is officially the holiday season, which means lots of festive decorations and gift ideas to come from Martha: The College Years.

Paper Halloween Banner

Photo by Karina Bunches and Bits (

Decorating for all of the festivities in the next few months is a blast (especially for those of us with DIY addictions), but “decking the halls” for each holiday can get a bit pricey.

Banners and buntings are a great way to decorate your home on a budget. They’re easy to make and can easily be interchanged for different upcoming celebrations.

“A banner alone can make a whole room look festive.”

  – Katie Combs, Cal Poly Physics Student    

Banners can be made out of a variety of materials. The Halloween banner in the picture above is simply made out of basic construction paper in various colors and shapes.

Bunting can also be made of fabric. How adorable is this floral bunting? These colors would be great for Easter or spring.

Colorful Fabric Bunting

Photo by sweetjessie (

A recently popular material in the DIY world is burlap.

The rustic and utilitarian look of burlap adds texture to decorations. Many decorators use this to contrast soft elements in their decor.

“There has been a huge increase in the popularity of burlap lately. Once people realized what a universal and inexpensive material burlap is, they found ways to incorporate it into their design aesthetics.”

– Sara Arroyo, Cal Poly  RPTA Student

Burlap Heart

Burlap is a great fabric to use for banners because:

  • it’s fairly inexpensive
  • it compliments many different colors
  • it can be used for almost any holiday or event decor
  • it’s trendy
  • it’s easy to work with (you don’t have to hem the edges)

(click here for more DIY ideas that use burlap)

Banners are also a fun way to display messages. Kelsey Soderstrom is a floral and decor assistant designer at Adornments Flowers & Finery. She says,

“There is an endless amount of ways one could incorporate bunting/banners in an event or household decor. I think my favorite way is with sweet words or sayings. They can really add a sentimental feel to any decor.”

Because bunting can be made with diverse materials and customized in so many ways, they are a perfect holiday decoration. Just string a holiday banner across a bare wall and feel the room come to life with festivity!

(Click here to read an article about the bunting & banner trend on

What materials are you making your holiday banner out of?

Check back on Martha: The College Years to see my holiday banner along with a ton of upcoming DIY gift ideas.

Target Bookshelf Makeover

“I used my bookshelf as a nightstand, a vanity, a place to hold all my school supplies in my tiny dorm room. It was a place for everything. But I think bookshelves are very bland and simple and they could easily be beautified.”

– Elise Kiland, Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering Junior

Bookshelves are wonderful means of organization, but unless you want to spend hundreds of dollars somewhere like Pottery Barn,  they’re not particularly pretty to look at. This tutorial will show you how to take an ordinary bookshelf and turn it into a piece of statement furniture.

Bookshelves are a staple of college dorm rooms – probably because they are generally inexpensive, they save loads of space, and they are great for storage. Because they are under $50, bookshelves like this one from Target and this one from Wal Mart are typical dorm room buys. Jennifer Dragan, a Barnes & Noble Bookseller, is constantly surrounded by bookshelves in her workplace. She owns the Target bookshelf and says:

“As someone who loves books and wanted to fill my college ‘home-away-from-home’ with them, the Target bookshelf was really cheap and the dark oak finish that I have makes me feel like I’m in my own private library. It looks really nice and it’s quite functional.”

This tutorial will use the bookshelf from Target mentioned above. Currently, it’s on sale for $26, making one of the least expensive 5-shelf bookcases available nationwide.

What You Need:

Here We Go!

Step 1: Take the shelves off of the bookshelf and set them aside.

Step 2: Cut a piece of the paintable wallpaper to the approximate height of the bookshelf (longer is better than shorter).

Step 3: Use spray adhesive to adhere the strip of paintable wallpaper to one side of the bookcase. Line up the edge of the wallpaper with the front of the bookcase. There will be leftover wallpaper hanging off of the back.

Step 4: Using scissors, carefully cut off the excess wallpaper from the back of the bookcase.

Step 5: Repeat this process with the other side of the bookcase and the top. Make sure the edges are glued down, touching up with the spray adhesive as you go.

Step 6: Tape off the front edges of the bookcase with painter’s tape so the paint doesn’t get onto the front of the cabinet.

Step 7: Paint the wallpaper in the color of your choice using the cabinet foam roller. Note: The paintable wallpaper has a spongy texture and soaks up the paint. Be liberal with your paint. You may need to do two or three coats to get maximum coverage.

Step 8: Let the paint dry and remove the painter’s tape.

Step 9: Cut strips of contact paper to the approximate width of the inside back of the bookcase. (Again, too long is better than too short.)

Step 10: Adhere the contact paper to the back of the cabinet using spray adhesive. There will be excess on either side of the cabinet.

Step 11: Using scissors, carefully cut off the excess contact paper so that it is the exact width of the back of the bookcase. Go back and make sure all edges are glued down, touching up with spray adhesive as you go.

Step 12: Repeat until the inside back is covered with strips of contact paper.

Step 13: Replace the shelves and add your favorite books and decorations to them.

 Easy as 1, 2…13 !

“As a freshman living in the dorms, being organized is one of the key factors in being successful. Bookshelves are a great way to accomplish organization. They allow you to see everything, while also allowing you to make organizing fun by cutely arranging your books, notebooks, and binders!”

– Katy Hovious, Cal Poly Business Freshman

Tips, Tricks, and Advice:


  • If you can find contact paper that already has an adhesive backing, you will save yourself half of the work. The contact paper linked in the “What You Need” section above is already adhesive.
  • You do not need contact paper to add color to the back of your bookshelf. Think outside the box and get creative. You could use: gift wrap with a fun pattern, your favorite posters, wallpaper, scrapbooking paper, fabric. The possibilities are endless!
  • The paintable wallpaper on the outside of the bookcase adds great texture, but if you’re in a time or budget bind, opt to just add some color to the inside of the bookcase. This will draw people’s eye to what is displayed on the shelves.


Take a Blank Wall from “Blah” to Bright!

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Fabric-filled embroidery hoops are a great way to brighten up any plain wall. They’re cost effective and you can hang them without damaging walls. This makes them great decorations for renters and college students.

What You’ll Need:

How to Make Them:

Step 1: Place your fabric in the embroidery hoop and tighten the closure so that the fabric is taut.

Step 2: Flip the hoop over and cut the excess fabric, leaving a half-inch border of fabric.

Step 3: Hot glue the fabric to the inside of the wood embroidery hoop so that no excess fabric will show when you flip it back over.

The embroidery hoop is now completed. The next step is finding the perfect spot to hang it. I recommend using the small command strip hooks pictured above. They’re great because they hold the light-weight embroidery hoops while leaving no permanent damage when you remove them.

The best part about this DIY project is that it cost less than three dollars per hoop. Beverly’s in downtown San Luis Obispo sells discounted fabrics for less than 4 dollars per yard. Embroidery hoops usually cost about one or two dollars each.

That’s an easy way to take a blank wall from boring to bright and colorful.