Easy Valentine’s Day Home Decor

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When Christmas decorations are packed away and end-of-the year holidays are officially over, your home naturally feels less festive. How to deal with the post-holidays blues other than cleaning, organizing, and purging the closets? Surprise your loved ones with warm and cozy Valentine’s Day decor. You don’t have to break the bank to make someone feel very special, but spend some time to bring love and smiles to your home. We browsed dozens of DIY decor ideas for Valentine’s Day and hand-picked a few tasteful winners from Pinterest that are easy to make but look fabulous.

We love this white mantel decor with a few red accents and delicate patterns! The source provides step-by-step instructions and there is also a tutorial for the wooden panel with letters “LOVE.” No time for panel? No problem? Just use any white fabric stretched over canvas or an old art work and place letters on the top. Chances are, you already have almost all the supplies needed for this project: pick up some pine cones outside, search your craft supplies stash for any red ribbon, use the clear glass vases or bottles you already have with some heart stickers you can find anywhere, and improvise with printed large letters to spell love, if you don’t have wooden ones. Have fun with the special message in a bottle! (Source)

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What if red clashes with your existing decor or you are in a mood for something different this season? Neutral decor easy DIY mantel may be exactly what you are looking for. What do we love about this project? Black, white, and cream colors will go with any existing decor. Elements of this DIY mantel are pretty simple and can be easily assembled or substituted. For candle holders, use any white or neutral candle holders you already own. Note that classy-looking white decorative trees are made from coffee filters, Very creative! (Source)

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Our next pick – red, white, and black mantel. Though simple, it looks very classy and festive. Use your favorite photo in a red frame, empty black frame with some patterned hearts and a red, and white sign (can be ordered on Etsy) to complete the look. (Source)

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Looking for some Valentine’s Day printables? Check these FREE printable signs – they come as high resolution PDF files, ready for download. Love the colors on the watercolor ‘Love & Arrows’ sign – it will look fabulous in a simple frame on your mantel! (Source)


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Comic Relief – Political Humor T-Shirts

POLITICAL HUMOR T-SHIRTS“When I was a kid growing up, I think my instincts always were for the underdog.” – Bernie Sanders

While political pundits bore us with lengthy discussions why the disruptors, like Trump and Sanders, have such grass-root support, it is pretty much clear to your everyday American voter – no matter, what his/her political orientation is. Everyone is tired of the status quo (for both parties), tired of empty promises, lies, and trickery of Wall Street that hurts the ‘little guy’, tired of being called racists and bigots while having a simple human desire of law and order across the land and safety for their families. 2016 will be the year of an ‘underdog’ in politics as people are almost throwing up watching carrier politicians debate each other using cliche statements.

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You may disagree with Bernie Sanders socialist agenda or embrace his promise of free college for everyone but you can’t ignore the breath of fresh air that his campaign brings. BTW, if they have free college education in Denmark and Germany, what prevents America from extending the same benefit to its people?

Monica Crowley wrote in Washington Times: “First and most importantly, he unabashedly champions America — and Americans. He has very effectively turned the tables on the left, which has weaponized its agenda against anyone who dares to disagree with it. We are branded as racists, sexists, Islamophobes, homophobes and bigots, while they use the full force of government to force compliance. Most Americans are sick of being turned into the enemy, stripped of both our hard-earned money to pay for the leftist agenda and our ability to feel good about ourselves in our own country. Further, by turning what Hillary Clinton calls “everyday Americans” into the enemy, the left has made it harder to see and deal with our real enemies… The subtext of Mr. Trump’s message? Stop making us the enemy. That’s immensely powerful.

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That unapologetic, anti-politician, anti-establishment agenda that both Trump and Sanders champion, resonates very well with people across the party lines. How do they express it – with humor, using beloved media for sharp satire of politically-incorrect messages such as T-shirts and bumper stickers. (Someone should do a bumper sticker poll – hint-hint!)

Why do political T-shirts resonate with millennials and young at heart crowd? The trend has been analyzed during the last presidential election campaign:  “Paired with jeans or dressed up with a seersucker jacket and khakis for a night on the town, the shirts are turning up on city streets and retail shelves like never before. Fashion insiders attribute the trend to an emerging young, casual voter — one ready to mix politics with sneakers — as well as professionals who’ve embraced the campaign and are slipping into Obamawear to make a statement as much about their political leanings as their hipness.” (source)

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Meanwhile both ‘underdogs’ Trump and Sanders run as if they have nothing to loose. Bernie doesn’t need the presidency – he is a senator from Vermont. Hilary runs her campaign as she wants it desperately and deserves it, no matter what.

Donald Trump doesn’t need the presidency. With a multi-billion-dollar empire, he’ll be just fine without it. That has liberated him to say and do things that may be unconventional and not particularly graceful, but which resonate strongly with an electorate parched for truth — and for the battle for the future.

The other candidates should take note: Running as if you have nothing to lose may, in fact, be the way to win.” (Monica Crowley, Washington Times)

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Political Humor T-shirts

American election cycle seems too long for ‘an average folk’ and the obvious way to deal with the informational overload and political correctness fatigue is humor. Pundits can criticize Americans’ political apathy and lack of will to educate themselves while comedians are rejoicing in the plethora of free material for the wittiest joke of the day. If you are looking for a special gift for someone who ‘has it all’ or just want to diffuse a heated political discussion at the holiday table with some jokes aimed at both parties, we have searched the web for the best political humor t-shirts for every taste.

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According to Lt. Gen. Clarence E. “Mac” McKnight, Jr., “Americans are the most entertained, and the least informed, people on the earth. They spend their lives watching movies and TV, texting and talking on smartphones, and otherwise roaming at large in cyberspace, but cannot name the vice president or find Africa on a map.” (source) We hope that’s not the case with our readers and you know who is depicted on the red T-shirt…

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Frank Rich from NY Magazine reflected on the Importance of Donald Trump: “Far from destroying our democracy, he’s exposing all its phoniness and corruption in ways as serious as he is not. And changing it in the process.” (source) All we can do is stay informed, read, make our opinions, and laugh it off at the end of the day, so we can survive until November 2016.

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Photo Christmas Cards Ideas

Christmas cards and holiday cards have lived through a lot of transformations since the official first Christmas Card made its appearance in 1843.

According to the U.S. Greeting Card Association (GCA), Americans purchase approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards each year where 1.6 billion Christmas cards are the boxed cards and the rest are attributed to online custom holiday greeting cards.

Many online retailers offer a plethora of print-on-demand Christmas and holiday greeting cards for businesses as well as photo Christmas cards that are growing in popularity with selfie-obsessed millennial crowd.

What are some of the latest trends that are popular choices for photo Christmas card ideas?

Personalized holiday cards capture a moment in time and summarize the year of achievements and events, so you can share it with family, friends, and colleagues.

It makes it fun to tap into the world of current design trends as it says a lot about our generation and what sentiments are important to express in holiday greeting.


Nowadays, year-in-review comes as a photo Christmas card with images that capture our precious moments of the year: engagement, wedding, anniversary, a birth of a baby, first steps of a toddler, a family reunion…

But why are we still so drawn to sending a printed card in the age of smart phones, Facebook, and snapchat? One of graphic designers summarized it perfectly: “I think it is actually lack of heat — the fact that we are a retro product rather than the hottest new thing — that keeps greeting cards hot in the smartphone age,” according to Alan Friedman, president, Great Arrow Graphics. You can’t touch the Facebook post but you can save, frame, and cherish hand-written Christmas card with your grandkids’ faces. The paper makes it real and personal touches make it special, no-matter what century is outside the door.

There are many layouts available online for a perfect year-in-review photo Christmas card. Keep it simple with three to five photos and easy to read, uplifting messages. It can also be a photo collage that gives your card unique and modern look. The design trends are usually more simple, so the photos will not be overpowered by too many details, fonts, and colors. Choose a color scheme and add a few variations to keep it interesting and you’ll have a perfect photo Christmas card that will bring joy to relatives and friends.


There is something magical in black and white design which keeps chalkboard photo Christmas cards ideas at the top of popularity lists. Depending on the font and layout, chalkboard design feels warm and hand-made though setting up a perfect contrast background for the colorful family photo in Christmas red attire. Year after year it doesn’t go out of style for both traditional holiday greeting cards as well as modern and chic. Many designers make the chalkboard message completely customizable so you can add warmth and personality. It is not possible with store-bought generic ‘Merry Christmas’ greeting cards.

Though it is easy to get lost in a sea of options for numerous chalkboard designs, it also makes it fun and exciting to pick something unique that unmistakably compliments your style and personal message. It doesn’t have to be busy-busy as the chalkboard menu of your favorite coffee shop on the corner. Many modern chalkboard designs have only a few words and simple fonts accentuated by holiday details such as timeless white snowflakes on a black background. Be creative and your card is sure to be noticeable addition to the colorful mantle display above the fireplace and to warm up the hearts of loved ones during the Holiday season & beyond.


Rustic and Christmas go well together – we all are longing for that feeling of being lost in the snow at a log cabin by the fireplace surrounded by the loved ones. Rustic photo Christmas card ideas may have wood, stone, burlap backgrounds and more whimsical fonts evoking memories of pancake breakfast after you tip-toe to open Christmas presents under the tree. Colors are more subtle, with prevailing earth tones and occasional black and gold.

Rustic design can also feature popular chalk board and or lace designs, mason jars with colorful lid covers evoking memories of home-cooking and hand-made preserves, snow, sledding, fireplaces – let your imagination decide the subject for your holiday greeting cards. Rustic photo Christmas card ideas can also include beloved family pets playing with children, cute barnyard animals, horses, or reindeers. It all says “Merry Christmas” and suggests fun family time reflected in your holiday greeting cards. If you are running a country store, rustic style would be also appropriate as your Holiday or Christmas cards for business and help you stand out in the sea of similar-looking corporate “Season’s Greetings” cards that inundate our mail boxes in December.


One of the most popular options among photo Christmas card ideas is a great family photo with full-bleed printing thus assuring that it will occupy all the ‘real estate’ of your holiday card.

Add a simple message in one of brushy modern fonts and you are ready to go! This is a great option for those of us having busy lives – you can have more time to spend with family rather than design an elaborate Christmas card. There are many design options available for these holiday photo cards: with variety of simple or not-so-simple borders, fonts, messages, color pallets, and shapes of flat cards. Make sure that your design matches your photo style and attire. If you took a snapshot at the family cabin and everyone is dressed in denim and cowboy boots, pick a rustic style for an overlaying message and font. If it is a fireplace shot with everyone wearing their best dress attire, elegant theme would be appropriate.

Design Buff

The latest trends in holiday greeting cards are stylish designs that are both sleek and modern.

They make your card look more artistic rather than cute. What is hot: a great pattern like chevron, stripes, dots or damasks; watercolor palette or unusual colors combined with cool fonts and a great photo – all that will create a winning combinations for a photo Christmas card that is memorable and unique. Tired of red polka dots and green chevron patterns? Try black & white photo with simple grey background, blue font and white accents. The results may amaze you. Black and white with hues of maple will create the look which is contemporary and sophisticated.

Merry & Bright

The whole holiday season is merry and bright so we all want to reflect that joy in the holiday greeting cards that are sent to friends and family.

Traditional red and green are complimented with a variety of bright colors from pastels to neon-bright that make your photo Christmas cards fun and contemporary. If you family photo already has bright colors, we may suggest keeping your message simple and using complementing colors. Or just use a few bright colors in the same group to accentuate the colors of the photo. White backgrounds work well with this color scheme and give your photo cards a sleek modern look. Bright colors over the black & white photo create an interesting vintage look. Neon colors on a black background create a memorable holiday party invitation.


Creating a funny photo holiday greeting card can be a great way to jump-start your family fun for the season. Start with a funny family photo – pets may lend you a friendly paw that will just do the trick. Dressed up puppies wearing Santa hats will sure win everybody’s smile. It can also be your unique humorous message that makes everyone laugh. Be creative – it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Gold and Shine

Christmas and Holidays go well with gold and everything that shines – and these timeless trends are reflected in holiday greeting cards every year.

It can be a simple word (’Believe’, ’Joy’, ’Merry’) printed in gold foil over the family photo, golden reindeer silhouette on a modern background or shining gold dots on a black background with modern font.

Gold doesn’t have to be overpowering and tasteless – in modern holiday cards, gold is usually just an accent surrounded by negative space or an understatement to create modern look.

Gold foil on white background also looks fresh and festive. Faux gold can adorn frosty snowflakes accents, modern dots, or festive sparkle – adding a little shimmer to your holiday photo cards can go a long way, though actual gold foil-stamped cards may require spending some extra money.

“Merry Christmas” or simple “Blessed” can be printed over your family photo in faux gold foil for some added holiday sparkle as one of popular photo Christmas card ideas.

Quick and Easy Christmas Home Decoration

How to transform your home in time for Christmas?

xmas-decor-artLife gets very busy between Thanksgiving and and New Year, so who has time to create elaborate wreaths, set up Victorian Christmas villages on the mantel, or tie up 50+ custom ribbon bows for a picture-perfect Christmas tree? Not us, right? But in spite of our busy lifestyles and all the hurdles the end of the year presents, we all long for that warm, cozy place filled with the anticipation of a Christmas miracle…

So, let’s see how you can transform your home into a winter wonderland – quickly, effortlessly, and on a budget with a few simple indoor Christmas decorations.

IKEA has lots of genius ideas to help you decorate on a dime. If you concentrate on the space that will be used the most during Holiday Season – your living room – you’ll save time and money . You can change the color scheme of your whole space in just 5 minutes by using inter-changeable decorative pillow cases in your preferred colors. To continue changing with the seasons, decide on a couple of neutral ones that will stay and compliment other accent colors. For example, gold and tan pillows you can keep all year long and just change accents: purple (or red) for Christmas; bright green for spring; blue and nautical theme for summer; and earth tones for fall.

To compliment the look and make it uniquely yours, invest on one exquisite pillow that you can create or order on Zazzle. This will be your special heirloom item that the whole family will cherish. You are done!pillow

Next step – mantel.

Fireplace brings families together during the holidays and lets you create these special moments that your kids will remember when they have their own munchkins! Here are a few simple ideas that are easy DIY projects for the whole family. Too traditional, ornate, and over-the-top decorations may not be your style, plus they take so much time (and space to store!) so why not try understated Nordic-style mantel. Just 4 letters that you can pick up at your local Michaels store (or ask your handyman to make) and decorate or paint yourself, simple wreath, one candle, and a star (antique gold will look classy too) – that’s all you need to create a statement piece above your fireplace. Try letters in different sizes and finishes – you can go classy or rustic.

No fireplace?

Decorate your entrance hall to welcome guests and family. Just use one of plastic battery-operated candles to make it kid-friendly and avoid accidents. You can also spell JOY, SNOW, or XMAS – let your imagination guide you. ‘O’ in ‘SNOW’ can be a small (or medium) wreath – just a hint!



Every festive holiday table needs a centerpiece. It doesn’t have to be over-complicated, expensive, or time-consuming. Our guess would be that you may already have all the necessary pieces . If not, just pick up three green (or red!) pears (or apples) on your next trip to the market.

Bonus: use them afterwards in your pear and Gorgonzola salad. Pick a simple square or rectangular plate, some matching green and silver Christmas tree ornaments, and cuttings from your evergreen cypress or pine – you are done in under 5 minutes! Even a few clippings from a life Christmas tree would do the trick. For an after-dinner treat for your family and guests, sprinkle some foil-wrapped truffles along with the ornaments. The simplicity of this elegant centerpiece is stunning!

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As the Holidays approach, you are getting more and more greeting cards and photo Christmas cards from friends and family – that’s decor that will bring warmth and holiday spirit into your home and takes almost no time to create.  We love this simple and classy display for all your cards – and after New Year use it to display your favorite photos, kids art works, etc.  Tutorial here .

If you don’t want to spend time on mounting boards, you can use some of your existing floating shelves or arrange wire to form Christmas tree shape on your blank wall.


Knitting for beginners: how to knit Garter Stitch (9)

What is a garter stitch? It is the easiest in the plethora of all knitting stitch patterns that you can imagine. You just knit all the rows – on both the right & wrong side of your knitting fabric. The purl stitch will be visible on both sides, as the knit stitches are hidden between them, as you can see on the sample. If you are trying to master the purl stitch, just purl all the rows instead. Your knitting fabric will look the same. No counting, no thinking, no checking the pattern, and almost impossible to mess up. The beauty of a garter stitch is that it creates a stretchy fabric that won’t curl on the edges (as stockinette stitch) and looks the same on both sides which makes it great for reversible projects: easy baby blanket knitting pattern, knitted scarf patterns, and many other easy knitting projects.


Just a note: of you are knitting garter stitch in a round, just alternate knit and purl stitches at the point where you have connected the round. This technique can be used for an easy garter stitch hat, for example, as one of beginner knitting projects.


If you master knit & purl stitches, stockinette stitch, garter stitch, and rib pattern you can let your creativity guide you into creating some of your own simple knitting patterns: just alternate different knitting stitches you already know to come up with unique easy knitting projects such as scarf knitting patterns and baby knitting patterns. Refer to our tutorial on how to knit faster the basic knit and purl stitches and soon you’ll be churning multiple creations at no time.

Garter Stitch
Cast on 20 stitches (or as many as you need for your project)
(check our tutorial on easy and fast cast on method)

1st row (and all other rows):
SL (slip) one*, K (knit) 19 (or until the end of the row).
2nd row: repeat the 1st row

Bind off. Weave in the tails (refer to our how to knit for beginners step-by-step tutorials on these topics and knitting help).

* Always slipping the first stitch of the row creates a beautiful neat-looking edge that has a chain pattern.

You are done! It is that easy.
Happy knitting!

Knitting for beginners: how to knit Rib Stitch (8)

Many beginner knitting projects have a combination of 2 or more easy knitting stitches: for example, rib stitch & garter stitch (or stockinette stitch). The reason behind it is that you need the flexibility of the rib pattern to finish the edges of a blanket, sleeves on a cardigan, or the edge on a hat. You absolutely have to master simple rib stitches in order to understand and successfully implement many knitting patterns for beginners.

If you are new to knitting, start with simple knit & purl stitches. After you’ve achieved speed and can do these stitches with ease, you are ready to try a simple rib pattern. What is a rib stitch? It is combination of knit and purl stitches that creates a stretchy knitted fabric with vertical columns.

1 x 1 ribbing
If you are alternating 1 knit stitch & 1 purl stitch, you have 1×1 rib. It almost looks like a stockinette stitch, but without curling on the edges. If you stretch it a little bit, you’ll see purl stitches on the background as little horizontal lines. Without stretching, you only see knit stitches, as the vertical knit columns contract, hiding purl stitches. This simple rib pattern is very versatile as it creates the knitted fabric that looks the same on both sides. Though each purl stitch looks like a knit stitch on the other (wrong) side and each knit stitch is a purl stitch on the other side, you end up with the same-looking pattern on both sides. It makes it perfect for reversible projects: easy baby blanket knitting patterns or scarf knitting patterns.


2 x 2 ribbing
By alternating 2 knit stitches with 2 purl stitches you create another basic rib pattern that is very popular for scarves, headbands, and hats. With two vertical columns of side-by-side knit stitches surrounded by two columns of purl stitches you’ll have a more pronounced rib pattern that is stretchy but not as stretchy as fisherman rib.


After that, you can experiment with 3 x 3 ribbing, 4 x 4 ribbing, etc – feel free to create the rib pattern that fits best your easy knitting projects. The rib doesn’t have to repeat the same number of alternating knit & purl stitches: it can be 3 x 2 (3 knit stitches by 2 purl stitches) or 2 x 4 (2 knit stitches by 4 purl stitches). Be creative and you can come up with your own simple knitting patterns for scarves, blankets, baby blankets, or warm winter throws.

In a way, knitting is like playing music: first you learn the basic notes and then you can play simple melodies alternating this notes. The more notes (stitches) you learn, more complex your music (patterns) will be.

Knitting for beginners: how to knit Stockinette Stitch (7)

If you are looking for simple knitting patterns, there is nothing easier then stockinette stitch. Every beginner knitter should master it first, as it is a building block for many simple knitting projects. I you are just diving into a new craft, you can start by knitting a simple square or two for a charity organization that collects them to assemble blankets for people in need. It is a great cause and you can master one of the easiest knitting stitch patterns for beginners.

This pattern has simple knitting stitches: KNIT stitches on the right side and PURL stitches on the wrong (sometimes called left) side. You also need to know how to cast on and bind off – refer to our tutorials on these topics for how to knit for beginners step by step instructions.

You need to keep in mind that this stitch is two-sided and both sides look different: right side is smooth and stitches look like little Vs; left side is bumpy due to purl stitches that form it (which look like little rows of dashes). Of course, you can make either side of this fabric your ‘right’ side, depending on your creativity and design. It is amazing how many simple knitting projects incorporate stockinette stitch that you can alternate on the fabric, knit in squares, chevron pattern, or modern alternating rows.


The other feature of stockinette stitch is that it curls on the edges (top & bottom) towards the smooth side. Some designers use this to create rolled cuffs on the sweaters or distinctive design for the hats. If you are planning to use it for an easy baby blanket knitting pattern, make sure you incorporate a garter stitch or seed stitch on the edges to make it lie flat.

Learning stockinette stitch is like learning the notes before you can play a simple music piece (and a symphony later). After mastering the easiest of easy knitting stitches you’ll be ready for beginner knitting projects.


Stockinette Stitch
Cast on 20 stitches (or as many as you need for your project)

1st row (and all odd rows):
SL (slip) one, K (knit) 19 (or until the end of the row).
2nd row: (and all even rows):
SL (slip) one, P (purl) 19 (or until the end of the row).

Bind off. Weave in the tails (refer to our how to knit for beginners step-by-step tutorials on these topics or knitting help).

You are done! It is that easy.
Happy knitting!