Hobbies

Mod Podgin’ It

Posted on June 20, 2013. Filed under: Hobbies, Home, Purdy Things |

Sometimes good intentions don’t guarantee good results.

Case in point:

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My scrapbook paper wall tiles

If I’m going to be honest, they never really lived up to my expectations and then they got worse. The sheets came off and I’ve had to glue them back on so many times.

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Not to mention that people sitting over there are afraid twelve pieces of pine are going to wop them on the head. We could get sued.

So I decided to embark on another craft project that involves scrapbook paper and glue. I know. I never learn.

I wanted to work on a mosaic with a Moroccan trellis pattern using different pieces of scrapbook paper.

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Here’s how it goes:

1. Purchase big giant canvas (hopefully with a coupon)

2. Purchase enough scrapbook paper to cover canvas (plus extra since you’re cutting it to pieces) in the color scheme of your choosing

3. Find a template on the internets of the repeating shape you’d like to use.

(It helps if it tessellates. If you don’t know what that means, go back to high school and take geometry. I’m kidding. I was the worst math student ever. Here’s a link to Wikipedia for you.)

4. Do some computer magic to make it the size you want.

5. Print template, trace onto thick paper and cut out for your stencil.

6. Trace stencil onto scrapbook paper (I’m sure you can guess what comes next…)

7. Cut out shapes (you’re so smart!)

8. Make a grid pattern on your gigantic canvas with a yard stick and a level (this will keep things from getting all sorts of crooked and help you to start at the center.

9. Arrange the shapes on your canvas the way you’d like for them to appear starting at the center.

10. Break out the modge podge and your inner craft.

11. You know what to do.

Now you can carry the mosaic onto the sides of the canvas if you’d like, or you can wait until it dries, trim the overhanging pieces, tape off the surface of the canvas, and paint the sides black or gray. Or you can leave the sides unfinished. I chose to leave my canvas unfinished because one, I didn’t have enough of the right-shaped scraps to use on the sides and two; it would have looked weird to have black sides when all the colors I used were light and bright.

I tell you what. This project turned out so much better than the tile project. I know that these little pieces of paper aren’t going anywhere because I modded til I podged-ed. The quatrefoils are adhered with mod podge and then I painted 2 coats of podge over them.

Here’s the final product:

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It’s a big improvement. So shiny! Yes, there are itty bitty white spaces between some of the shapes, but I think it adds character. Call them grout lines if you’d like.

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I do feel bad for asking Adam to mount 9 squares in a grid pattern only to change my mind later. But it’s better to accept failure and make it better than to live with it. This is what happens when you DIY. Some things work and some things don’t.

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Though we are in the midst of a master bathroom renovation, we do have plans for our den. They’re small, but a lot of small changes can make a big difference. I’ll let you know what’s in the works soon!

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Spring Has Sprung a New Wreath

Posted on March 11, 2013. Filed under: Hobbies, Home, Uncategorized |

I love me some wreaths, but they are so expensive. No wonder my mother always makes hers. I have a fall wreath, I have a Christmas wreath I bought at Pier 1 on sale, but that’s it. Time for a spring/summer wreath.

Materials:
Styrofoam wreath form
Brightly colored yarn (I have 2 colors)
Coordinating fabric scraps (about 3-5 different fabrics at 1/2 yd each)
Hot glue gun
Straight pins
Scissors

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1. Tie the end of your yarn around the wreath and affix the knot with hot glue

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2. Wrap the yarn around the wreath form covering all the styrofoam, hot gluing every few inches.

3. Switch colors when you like. Tie different yarns together and glue knot to wreath form on the back of wreath

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4. Once you’ve finished wrapping the wreath, straighten any overlapping/criss-crossing yarn.

5. To make your fabric flowers, I followed Katie Bower’s tutorial.

6. I used straight pins and pinned the flowers to the wreath in an arrangement I liked.

Voila!

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Posted on February 1, 2012. Filed under: Hobbies, Home |

I’m back with more curtains. You’d think I wouldn’t be so eager to go through this again after I lost 30 hours of my life on the last set of curtains. But here I am. It’s almost like I have a sick addiction.

We have a bay window in our breakfast room and window over the sink. That equals 4 curtains.

Don’t mind the clutter in this picture. We were still doing pre-move renovations.

Some people might say: “Meredith, that equals 2 curtains.” Yes, it could. I debated doing a tension rod across both openings with panels, or a ruffle, or a swag; Adam said no. I don’t think he has any idea how much easier that would have been. Boo! That’s okay. I like Roman shades better too. I’m just not fond of the labor they require. (Note: I started this project at Thanksgiving.)

I’ve been looking for the perfect fabric for months now. I’ve scoured every fabric website and hit up a few stores around Atlanta. I finally found something that I really liked.

Better Homes & Gardens Jayda Bramble

It was 50% off. And I had a 10% email coupon. Score. I bought 6.5 yards of fabric and 6 yards of lining and crammed it in my Honda.

The oversized floral print is nice and airy for a kitchen. It has bits of the wall color in it along with limier greens, blues, browns, and linen. It’s purty. But since the pattern is so large and open, I knew it would be less forgiving. This fabric was tricky to get lined up across all three side-by-side windows. And the folds had to be even across all three shades as well. If it wasn’t, it would look weird. My mom came over after I bought it and gave me that valuable advice. Thank goodness I hadn’t already started. The drop on the fabric is quite large too – about 20 inches.

To make sure I had enough fabric, I decided to fake it with the shades. I planned all along to make fixed Roman shades – meaning they won’t raise or lower. We have blinds on these windows, so the shades would more or less serve as valances. Since they are phonies, I cheated the lengths. The bay windows are 55” long. I cut the fabric at a yard – 36” including hemlines. I planned to have 17” in final length – about 1/3 down the window. I made the center shade first since it would require the whole width of the fabric anyway. Then I made the left and right windows. Lastly, I made a panel for the window above the kitchen sink.

Materials:

  1. Fabric
  2. Lining
  3. Scissors
  4. Chalk pencil
  5. 1×2 mounting board for each curtain cut to width of curtain (we had to use 1×4’s for our windows. More on that later…)
  6. Staple gun
  7. L brackets (we had to use Molly bolts and screw the boards into the ceiling. Again, more on that later)
  8. Screws
  9. Drill
  10. Thread
  11. Sewing machine
  12. Dowel rods (optional)
  13. Spray paint (optional)

Cutting the Fabric:

This fabric is dry clean only, so I did not pre-wash it. I cut my fabric to length allowing 2” for hemlines on all sides. The last curtains I made had bigger hem allowances, but I didn’t think I had the luxury of extra fabric with these shades so I skimped. Plus, they will be stapled to a mounting board at the top and folded at the bottom, which will weigh them down and hide the hems. I didn’t make them to hit the inside of the window like other Roman shades because our blinds are mounted on the outside of the window. They had to be wider than the blinds.

I cut the lining a little smaller than the fabric pieces: it was the same width as the finished shade and 1” shorter than the fabric. By doing this, I will have a ½” overlap of fabric on the wrong side of the curtain on all sides and ½” disappears to the seam allowance. That’s 1” of fabric on each side. That equals 2”. See now why I had an extra 2” for the width of the fabric? And because I wanted a ½” overlay of fabric on the wrong side, I cut the lining to the width of the finished curtain so ½” of lining on each side would disappear due to hem allowances. Make sense? No one should see any lining peeking through from the right side.

Let’s Get Sewing:

1. Lay down fabric right side up. Lay lining down on top of fabric right side down, wrong side up. Line up lining on fabric along the right side and pin with ½” of fabric margins at top and bottom.

2. Sew with a straight stitch with a ½” margin down the right side of the curtain.

3. Lay fabric and lining back down with the lining side up. Pull the lining over flush to the left side of the fabric. Pin making sure the ½” margin of fabric at the top and bottom is still there.

4. Sew left side of curtain with straight stitch, ½” margin.

5. Lay fabric and lining down and play with it until you have ½” of fabric margins down the sides of the back. I pin these margins in place and press the sides with a hot iron to create a stiff crease for your sides.

6. Press fabric and lining if wrinkled. You want everything to be smooth before you sew the top and bottom hemlines.

7. With your curtain lying right side down, fold the bottom of the fabric in a ½”. Pin and press. Fold it in another ½”. Pin and press. It should overlap your lining.

8. Sew bottom hemline of curtain with straight stitch as close to the fold as possible.

9. Repeat 7 through 8 for the top hemline.

Creating the Folds:

And this is where it gets a little organic because there is no right way to make these folds and no set formula for how they should be spaced out. It’s all about your taste. It took me a lot of experimenting to get it right. And then I still had to tweak everything once the curtains were mounted… Ugh. It was frustrating.

1. Lay your shade down right side up, preferably next to a tape measure or cardboard ruler mat.

2. Play with the folds until you get the curtain looking the way you want it at the length you want it (that’s why the tape measure is there).

3. Pin the folds in place across the width of the curtain.

Use the first curtain as a template for the others if you are making multiples. Measure your folds to make sure they are even across all curtains and the pattern matched vertically.

4. By hand, sew the folds. I tried to avoid sending thread through the front of the curtain, but after sewing across all layers but the top, I knew I had to do it for proper reinforcement. Luckily, my thread was a perfect match to the buff-colored background color, and there were a lot of places to sew the folds together all the way through without the thread showing on the front side.

***I can safely say that I wouldn’t labor over sewing the folds too much until the curtains are mounted and in their vertical position. I sewed all the folds by hand, so it wasn’t that difficult to stand on a step stool and make adjustments once they were hung side by side. I really regretted all the time I wasted sewing them while they laid flat. You just need to sew enough to roughly hold the folds in place before you mount them.

Bring it On Home (for Windows with Plenty of Wall Above Them):

1. With your sewn and folded curtain, staple the top hemline on the back of your mounting board. You want to staple it on the narrow side. If you’re using a 1 x 2 or a 1 x 3, you staple your curtain right side up to the 1” side.

2. Pull your fabric over the top of the board like so:

3. Screw L brackets into the wall or window frame for the mounting board

4. Mount your shade!

5. For added structure, you can insert dowel rods into the folds of the curtain

Bring it On Home (for our unique situation):

We have bay windows that are under a drop ceiling. There is only 1 ½” of wall above the window frame and the drop ceiling. It blows. It really makes window treatments űber complicated. Because of the shortage of wall, we had to mount the window blinds onto the window frame. Therefore, the body of the blinds sticks out pretty far – about 3”.

In order to have the Roman shades come out over the blinds, they had to be mounted to a bigger board: a 1 x 4. It would look weird if we mounted them on a 1 x 2 or 1 x 3 and there was a bulge where the top of the blinds were. When you mount a bigger board, you have to have a bigger L bracket. We simply did not have enough space between the top of the window frame and the ceiling to mount a large L bracket and a 1 x 4. Wop wop.

So we bolted our valance boards into the ceiling with molly bolts. We were scared. We’re still afraid they’re going to come crashing down. But we had no other choice. Here are our steps:

  1. Pre-drill holes into your valance board
  2. Line up your finished curtain around the valance board where you want to staple it. Mark on the curtain where the pre-drilled holes are.
  3. Sew button holes on the curtain where the bolts will come through to prevent strain and tearing of fabric.
  4. Staple your curtain to the valance board right side out on the back side of the board – the narrow side making sure that your button holes line up with the pre-drilled holes.
  5. Bolt your valance board into the ceiling.
  6. Make adjustments as needed.

So there you have it. It was a long process, but not too painful. The hardest part was getting the folds sewn evenly across all 3 bay window curtains – even folds and making sure the pattern matched up vertically all the way across. I think I got it lined up!

Sorry about the lighting in these pictures. I couldn’t seem to get it right…

You may notice that I sprayed the ends of my mounting boards with white paint so no one would catch sight of raw wood.

And here’s the window over the sink! I went for a simple abbreviated panel. It’s on a tension rod that fits snugly between the cabinets

And I’m not sure why the fabric looks so grainy in this picture. It is not like that in reality.

We are toying with the idea of inserting dowel rods into the folds (the width of the curtain) to give them a more rounded definition. The wide shade is a little wavy simply because it is so wide and heavy. I think if we put dowel rods in it, it will straighten it out a bit. Right now, I need a break from these babies.

I love how this room is coming together! Yes, we plan to re-do the kitchen a few years down the road, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t decorate it now. And who knows? We may keep the paint color and window treatments. The kitchen has come a long way in a few weeks: kitchen table, chairs, and now curtains! Next up is building/finding a wall-mounted plate rack and hanging some artwork.

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For the Recipe Box…

Posted on December 9, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Hobbies, Home |

It’s time for another run-down on some recipes we’ve tried and loved in the past few months. I have sources listed for all and links to the recipes if they’re online.

Chicken pot pie – from Southern Living Comfort Food

½ C butter

½ C all-purpose flour

1 ½ C chicken broth

1 ½ C half-and-half

¾ t salt

½ t freshly ground pepper

2 T butter

1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms

Salt and pepper to taste

1 small onion, chopped

1 C frozen green peas

3 ½ C chopped cooked chicken

2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1 (15-oz.) package refrigerated pie crusts

1 T whipping cream

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Melt ½ C butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat whisk in flour, whisking until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add chicken broth and half-and-half; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in ¾ t salt and ½ t pepper; set white sauce aside.

Melt 1 T butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper, and sauté 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Don’t over-stir. Add mushrooms to white sauce. Add remaining 1 T butter to skillet. Add onion; sauté until tender. Stir in peas. Add vegetable mixture, chicken, and chopped eggs to white sauce.

Preheat oven to 375. Fit 1 piecrust into a 9” deep-dish pie plate according to package directions. Spoon filling into crust; top with remaining piecrust. Trim off excess pastry. Fold edges under, and flute. Cut slits in top. Combine cream and egg; brush egg wash over pastry.

Bake at 375 for 30 to 40 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Yields 6 servings.

To make individual pot pies, spoon filling into 6 lightly greased 1 C baking dishes. Line dishes with piecrust slightly larger than the diameter of the dish. Top each dish with a round of dough; fold edges under, and flute. Cut slips in tops. Brush with egg wash. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

We make these in individual cocettes. It’s great to control the portions since there are only two of us. Chances are we wouldn’t eat all of the leftovers if we made a big pie. We usually get a whole chicken and cook it to eat for one meal and we use what’s left of the bird to make the pot pies.

Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta – from Giada de Laurentiis

I love prosciutto, mozzarella, and asparagus. This recipe combines them all and it’s so easy. I will say that it doesn’t keep for very long if you have leftovers – maybe 2 days at the most.

Quinoa Salad – from Pinterest

This is so easy: quinoa, black beans, chopped peppers, lime, red pepper, cilantro, tomatoes. And you can really omit or add anything that strikes your fancy. After we make this, I always have enough to bring to work for a lunch.

Image courtesy of Eating for England

Macaroni and Cheese – from Southern Living Comfort Food

This mac ‘n cheese is different from the Peppadew one I shared a while back. It’s pretty yummy and uses a dash of nutmeg to give it an interesting depth of flavor.

1 (8 oz.) package penne pasta

2 T butter

2 T all-purpose flour

1 ½ C milk

½ C half-and-half

1 C (4 oz.) shredded white Cheddar cheese

¼ C grated Parmesan cheese

2 C (8 oz.) shredded Gruyere cheese, divided

1 t salt

½ t pepper

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Prehead oven to 350. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and half-and-half; cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 C Gruyere cheese, and next 3 ingredients until smooth.

Stir together pasta and cheese mixture; pour into a lightly greased 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Top with remaining 1 C Gruyere cheese.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Yields 4 servings

Southwest Chicken Wraps – from Pinterest

This is a really good recipe and different than your typical taco night. If you don’t have a Panini press, you can definitely use a griddle on the stove.

Image courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen Café

Beef Short Ribs – from Bon Appetit

This is what we prepared when we recently had company. The best part about short ribs is that you can get them started about 3 hours before everyone arrives and then you get to LEAVE THEM ALONE while you tie up all the other loose ends that come with entertaining. Short ribs are almost impossible to mess up as well. It helps to have a Dutch oven. Also, check out your local farmer’s market for the meat. That’s what we did and we saved quite a bit of money and got better looking beef.

Image courtesy of Bon Appetit

I think we eat pretty well at our house. We make an effort to try new recipes once or twice a month so we don’t get stuck making the same meals all the time in rotation. I wanted to make an apple pie from scratch this fall but never got to it. I discovered at Thanksgiving that while I can make a mean pie crust from scratch (vodka is a secret ingredient that I got from America’s Test Kitchen), I really struggle with crimping it around the pie plate. It’s embarrassing how bad it looked. Pies are complicated and I’m not ready to try it quite yet. Anyone out there that can make an awesome pie that tastes and looks good? Want to show me how? I’ll pay you in pie.

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Wow! That’s a lot of Progress!

Posted on November 30, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies, Home |

It’s November almost December and the home-related projects still exist, but we’re tackling them a bit slower due to lack of daylight and BO. That’s burnout, people. And in case you’re wondering why we may be burned out, we’ve had a pretty eventful Summer/Fall:

  • Closed on our house
  • Painted 2 bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room, a closet, a pantry, and we’re working on the halls
  • Installed some blinds
  • Made, bought, and hung curtains and rods for the master and the den
  • Acquired new throw pillows for the bed and the sofa
  • Made some throw pillow covers
  • Made a fall wreath and table runner
  • Planted flowers in assorted pots
  • Ripped down the playground
  • Dug/chopped up a bush
  • Seeded for grass
  • Ripped out ivy
  • Painted and stained door and trim in den
  • Moved in our house – that’s a BIG one
  • Made some artwork
  • Started stenciling the wall — very hard to see in pictures

  • Removed the rose garden, graded the slope, and planted Camellias – more on that coming soon

  • Purchased and installed a new light fixture in master bath
  • Spray painted a floor lamp and dressed it up with a new shade
  • Purchased and assembled a storage cabinet for master bath
  • Patched and painted over various holes in the wall from pictures and shelves
  • Installed lighting over kitchen sink and under overhead kitchen cabinets
  • Got a new kitchen table and chairs from Adam’s parents

Looking back, that’s a lot of accomplishments for two people with full time jobs and pretty full social lives, in my humble opinion. Naturally, we’re exhausted and lacking inspiration. And we’re less ignorant of the amount of work it takes to do things. Therefore, we’re not as motivated or excited to tackle the next big project. Besides, we have been spending a lot of time in the yard this fall. I have blisters from the leaf blower and the rake. Fun times. We live in Georgia and do not have a single pine tree in our yard. How weird is that? I swear every tree we have loses it’s leaves. It’s a constant battle from October to December. Don’t believe me?

This is our deck – under 6 inches of leaves.

And the backyard. This was 3 days before we raked. It got worse. I don’t know how that’s possible. The oak trees still have about a third of their leaves left.

Soon, we’ll hunker down for winter and it will be easier to find time to do a few of the smaller things on my short-term wish list:

  • Make curtains for the kitchen – I have purchased the fabric, but my sewing machine and I are having tension issues. Ugh!
  • Finish stenciling accent wall in living room – this is painful
  • Finish painting halls – 2 down, 1 to go
  • Make curtains for guest room
  • Hang things on the walls for goodness sakes!
  • Treat deck
  • Furniture shopping
  • Buy grill

And while we’re still checking the small stuff off the list, we’re starting to seriously think about the BIG projects. We’ve lived in this house for 4 months now. We’re unpacked except for one measly box. (Yes, it’s been sitting in the corner of our living room untouched all this time.) We have a routine. We have a better understanding of what we’re lacking, what we’d like, and how flexible our house/layout would be to change. So in the next few weeks I’ll be sharing what we’re dreaming up. We’re not ready to pull the trigger on any big project yet. Some of these ideas will take time, thoughtful planning, resources, and require the advice of professionals. But we’re totally excited about DOING a lot of the work ourselves. A sampling of the BIG ideas in our heads:

  • Adding more shelves and functionality to the laundry area along with a utility sink and additional lighting
  • Master bathroom and hall bathroom re-do
  • Total kitchen re-do that will most likely require some load bearing walls to come down. Ai yai yai!
  • Running a gas line to the stump of a lamppost we have now and topping it off with a lamp
  • Landscaping the slope in the backyard formerly covered in ivy with various shrubs and ground cover

I’ll be back with the deets on all of the above in due time. We’re looking forward to slowing down for the rest of year. We plan to start more projects in 2012.

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Ombre, Hombre

Posted on November 16, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies, Home |

Jackson Pollock, eat your heart out. There’s a new girl in town. And she is a virtuoso.

A few Sundays ago I got my paint on and created this masterpiece:

Yeah. I did that. Woo to the hoo. And I don’t consider myself very artistic. Translation: It wasn’t too hard.

So here we go with the instructions…

Materials:

  1. Canvas
  2. Paint Brush
  3. Drop cloth
  4. Cup of water
  5. Paint tray – I used a disposable plate
  6. 2 colors of paint – one light and one dark, preferably in the same color family

Method:

  1. Mix a medium paint (for the middle) by adding a little of the dark paint to some of your light paint. Play with it until you get your desired color. (Note: it’s always easier to add dark to light, not light to dark)
  2. Dip your dry brush into the lightest color and start painting the top third of the canvas, starting at 1/3 of the way down and blending the paint upward, allowing it to gradually lighten.
  3. Dip your brush into a teeny, tiny bit of water, dab it off, and use it to pull paint up to the top of the canvas. This will dilute the color toward the top, creating a nice fade out effect.
  4. Dip your brush into the middle color and start painting in left to right strokes 1/3 of the way up the canvas (the middle), blending upward. You will overlap some of color 1.
  5. Dip your brush into the darkest color and start at the bottom of the canvas working up into the middle section.

Some other helpful tips:

  1. Use less paint the further up you go in each section.
  2. A little goes a long way when it comes to water. Damp bristles should suffice, not dripping wet.
  3. Paint the sides of your canvas for a finished look. You can carry the painting around to the sides or paint all the sides your darkest color.
  4. Don’t overwork the paint. Eventually, the paint will lift off the canvas if you keep working it. It cannot be manipulated as well when it dries.
  5. Left to right strokes all the way from side to side.
  6. You may need to go back to another color and add it in to improve your blend in between sections.

Obviously, there is an ombre craze going on out there. If you don’t believe me, here’s some proof:

image from the Beauty Department

I have been affected by the ombre, hombre. I just had to have something ombre. I cannot commit my lovely lady locks yet. Maybe I’m too old-fashioned since I still believe that your roots showing is trashy – even if it is “so HOT right now!” according to my hair stylist. So I went for some ombre in the form of home décor. I was able to make this in less than an hour for about 30 buckaroos. Buying a piece of artwork this big would be a few hundred dollars. Yay me! Dyeing my hair a la ombre wouldn’t be cheap and could be emotionally damaging as well. I asked Adam to hang my ombre art in our master bedroom. I think it’s just what this blank wall needs.

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Do note our new pillow acquisitions: two Euro pillows and a gray feathery pillow. Doesn’t it look comfy?

Update: Milk & Honey Home are also digging the Ombre craze! I officially feel cool and justified in my love for ombre.

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Envelope Throw Pillow Covers

Posted on November 14, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies, Home |

Just in case you didn’t take me seriously when I said I’ve been getting my craft on lately, here’s further proof…

I ordered extra curtain fabric for the den curtains so I could make throw pillow covers. I probably have enough fabric left to dress all the von Trapp children. Well, that’s Adam’s plan for the curtains once we get sick of them. I just hope he doesn’t want me to pop out 7 little Austrian kids. Not gonna happen – the 7 kids part or the Austrian part.

I told myself that if I could make 6 fully lined curtain panels with zero experience, throw pillow covers would be a cinch. And they were. If you know how to sew a straight stitch on a sewing machine, you can do this.

  1. Measure your pillow form. I had 2 pillows that were 18” x 18”. Add 1” to the length and to the width for seam allowances. For me this equaled 19” x 19”
  2. Calculate measurements for your back pieces by using the same width above. For length, multiply the length of the pillow by ¾ + ½” for seam allowance. My pillow length is 18” x ¾ = 13.5” + ½” = 14”.
  3. Cut out your fabric. 1 square piece (19” x 19”) and 2 rectangle back pieces (19” x 14”) per pillow. If you have patterned fabric, make sure you’re making your cuts appropriately – i.e. not sideways. My fabric had these large damask pineapple thingies. Thankfully, I realized BEFORE I started cutting that the front piece of the pillows should have the pineapple centered on the finished pillow. For the back, it didn’t matter as long as the fabric was facing the right direction.
  4. Line up your back pieces the way you want them over your pillow. For one of them, you will be sewing a hemline on the bottom. For the other, the hemline will be at the top. Pin your hemlines for both back pieces at ½” and press. Pin and press again at 1”.
  5. Sew your hemlines on the back pieces with a straight stitch.
  6. With your front piece face up and with the print in the right direction, lay your back pieces face down on top of the square fabric with their hemlines in the middle. If you want the top part of the back to be the outside part of the envelope, lay it down first. Line up the sides of the first back piece and pin. Remember to keep wrong sides out, right sides in, and that your fabric is facing the right direction.
  7. Sew first back piece to front of pillow case with a ½” seam allowance remembering to reverse stitch when you start and stop.
  8. Line up the sides of the second back piece – it will overlap the first back piece – and pin.
  9. Sew the second back piece to the front of the pillow case with a ½” seam allowance.
  10. Flip the pillow case right side out and insert pillow form!

The back side of the pillow

Easy, peasy. This little project took about an hour and a half. It could probably go quicker, but I was watching TV too.

I didn’t pre-shrink the fabric this time. I was impatient and wanted to get these bad boys made. I plan to scotch guard them. If anything gets past that, they are small enough to hand wash in cold water.

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A Fall Wreath and Other Related Projects

Posted on October 31, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Hobbies, Holiday, Home |

The DIY in me has emerged. My inner craftiness has been dormant for so long. It’s such a relief to finally let it all out. Now that we have a house where there’s room to store craft supplies and easily display craft projects, there’s no holding this chick back from making pillow covers, table runners, leaf art, and wreaths. So get your glue guns out and your wire cutters ready, because the holidays are upon us (Happy Halloween!) and we’s gots some craftin’ to do!

This post is brought to you via Pinterest inspiration, or shall I say Pinspiration? Sounds sweaty…

Materials:

  1. Grapevine wreath or similar
  2. 2 yards of burlap
  3. Wooden letter of your choosing
  4. Paint for wooden letter
  5. Glitter spray paint
  6. Wheat or straw or something earthy
  7. Ribbon in a fall color scheme
  8. Fake flowers
  9. Beaded wire
  10. Floral wire
  11. Scissors

I got all my materials at Michaels except for the burlap. I purchased that at Hancocks. By the way, my Hancocks Fabrics has some lights out in their sign for the letters H, A, and N. It makes for an interesting store front… I’m so immature sometimes.

This wreath is fairly simple. I cut out 4” wide strips of burlap and accordion folded them. I placed them on the wreath form to figure out how many strips I needed. I needed 4. I still had a little bit of a gap, but that’s okay because that’s where I put my flowers.

Once I accordion folded a strip, I stuck some floral wire through it and secured both ends to the wreath, spreading out the burlap to the desired length and volume. I did this for all of the strips.

When it came to my flower bundle, I gathered the blooms into a compact bouquet and wrapped floral wire around the stems as close to the blooms as possible. I used wire cutters to cut off the excess stems. I used floral wire to secure the bouquet in the lower left portion of my wreath.

For the wheat and the beaded wire, I experimented around with different arrangements until I found something I liked. Then, I cut everything to the proper length and used… you guessed it… floral wire to secure in place. The great thing about the burlap is that it can hide all the ends of your decorations if you position them underneath the folds.

I painted my letter with two coats of bright orange paint and let it dry. Then, I took it outside on some newspaper and sprayed it with 2 light coats of gold glitter spray paint. I won’t lie. It was fun. Who doesn’t like glitter? Who doesn’t like spray paint? Whoever decided to combine them is a genius and sounds like a really fun person. I let it dry overnight. The next day I used my fall ribbon (which I got on sale in the Christmas section – go figure) to secure the letter in the middle of the wreath by tying it underneath the burlap at the top of the wreath.

And here is my version:

Me likey. The sparkly orange S really stands out from the street. One of these days I’m going to get a spotlight we can put in the yard so it’s easier to see the wreaths I hang up around the holidays.

And just for kicks, here is the table runner I whipped up last week:

I set the table all pretty for these pictures. Believe me, it’s not always like that.  The runner is double-sided in case you didn’t catch that. Fall leaves are on one side, gobbling turkeys on the other. Yay me!

Oh! And some cupcakes I made for all of our work colleagues:

Mummies!

Happy fall! Happy Halloween! Can you tell it’s my favorite time of the year?

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Hey Kids, Don’t Try This at Home

Posted on October 21, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies, Home |

I don’t know what it is about women and curtains, but I’ve caught the bug. Can you tell by the second consecutive post on curtains?

Yesterday, I shared the curtains we picked out for our master bedroom. “Picked out” are golden words. And I don’t say them casually. There’s nothing like being able to buy pre-made curtains at an affordable price.

For the den, it was a different story. I wanted some yellow and white patterned panel curtains. You can check out the color palette we’re going for here.

There was an overwhelming amount of apple green and tan in the room so I thought the best way to bring in some yellow was with window treatments. Unfortunately, all the pre-made yellow window treatments I looked at were very juvenile. I suppose it’s a pretty popular and androgynous nursery color. Then one day, I found this image on Pinterest from this lovely blog:

These curtains happened to be made out of the very same fabric I was eying on fabric.com. Coincidence? I think not! I ordered two samples of fabric so I could be sure before I ordered 20 yards of it. Here are the samples:

Hmm… Adam and I both scratched our heads. Eenie, meanie, miney, moe. The one on the top was the winner due to the ratio of yellow to white and it had a more even pattern. I also knew what this fabric would look like 8 feet high and 4 and a half feet wide.

We have 3 windows in our den which means I would need to make 6 panels. Figuring in hemlines, shrinking from washing, fabric for coordinating throw pillows, and some extra “oops” fabric, I ordered 20 yards of fabric and 16 yards of lining. We want the curtains to be good blockers of light since this is our TV room. The fabric was approximately $160 with an online promo code and sale – down from over $200! Adam had sticker shock at first, but I think it’s because he’s still learning how much home-related things cost. If I’d had these professionally made, it would have cost a couple hundred bucks per window. If I purchased them pre-made from the store, it would have cost $300+. So even though Adam thought it was pretty expensive, and one hundred and sixty doll-hairs isn’t something to sneeze at, we’re still saving money. And yes, we need curtains in there in order to watch movies on Sammy in the D.A.R.K. Plus, they make a room look so much better.

I inspected the fabric for imperfections and cut out my 6 panels at 8 feet exactly giving myself plenty of extra in case of shrinkage. I thought about washing the whole bolt in one piece, but decided my washer would not appreciate 300 square feet of fabric in a single load. I washed it on a cool gentle cycle with Woolite; it recommended a mild detergent. I washed the lining in a separate load. I gently dried the lining, but my drapery fabric instructions said “DO NOT DRY”. I let it line dry overnight and put them through the dryer on air dry for a couple of rounds. When they still weren’t dry, they went a few rounds of the “less dry” setting on the lowest heat setting our dryer has. The point was to pre-shrink the fabric before sewing. And let me tell you, that 100% cotton fabric shrank. All of the panels shrank by about 6 inches. Thank goodness they weren’t any shorter. But they’re all set for Spring Cleaning time when I’ll take it down and send it through the wash again. Here’s a toast to wishful thinking!

I think it’s imperative to let you know that I logged about 5 hours on a sewing machine before this curtain project. It’s safe to say that I have absolutely NO experience. I cut the lining 2.5 inches longer than my finished panel length (84”+ 2.5”=86.5”) and 3 inches narrower than the existing width of the fabric – 51”. I worked with the width the fabric came in, a standard 54”. Then I really got started. If I knew sewing required so much of my least favorite household chore – ironing – I wouldn’t have been so eager beaver. Really, my Saturday went like this. Wash. Dry. Dry. Dry. Iron. Measure. Pin. Iron. Measure. Pin. Iron. Sew. Repeat. So here is what I did step-by-step. I followed the advice of Midwest Magnolia and Orange Sugar. My method is a mish mash of their methods, so I give them all the credit. Check out the links. They took step by step pictures. I didn’t.

Curtain Panel How-To

*all stitching was with a straight utility stitch

  1. Cut fabric to length. Adding 2” total for top hem (1” folded over twice) and 4” total for bottom hem (2” folded over twice). If you’re pre-washing after cutting it, read your care instructions and add some extra inches for safety’s sake.
  2. Double fold bottom hem. Wrong side up, fold bottom hem over 2”, pin and press. Fold over again 2”, pin and press.
  3. Stitch bottom hem close to hemline – about 1/8”. Be sure to reverse stitch beginning and end of seam.
  4. Measure and cut lining. Lining should be cut 2.5” longer than your finished curtain length and 3 inches narrower.
  5. Double fold bottom hem in lining. Wrong side up, fold bottom hem over 2” and press. Fold over again 2” and press. Pin in place
  6. Stitch bottom hem in lining close to hemline – about 1/8”. Be sure to reverse stitch beginning and end of seam.
  7. Placement of Lining onto Fabric.
    1. Place fabric right side up and lay lining on top of fabric, right side down. Wrong sides out.
    2. Line up bottom of lining 1.5” above bottom of fabric.
    3. Line up right side and pin.
    4. You should have 2”+ of fabric at the top hem. This is good
  8. Sew right side of lining to fabric using a .5” seam. Remember to back stitch. It’s a long curtain. So be patient and go slow.
  9. Pull the left side of lining over to line up with the left side of the Fabric. Remember that the lining is 3” skinnier than the fabric and will need to be pulled and pressed into place. This is okay because the fabric will overlap on the lining side once you turn it right side out. Pin in place.
  10. Sew left side of lining to fabric using a .5” seam. Remember to back stitch.
  11. Turn fabric out and iron — This will take some maneuvering to get an even amount of fabric on the back side of the curtain, but it is pretty easy. Press edges in place.
  12. Miter bottom corners. Take the bottom corners of your sides on the inside side of the curtain and fold them under. Press and blind stitch them in place.
  13. Double fold top hem. Fold top hem over 1” and press. Fold over again 1” and press. Pin in place. It should cover the lining now.
  14. Stitch top hem close to hemline – about 1/8”. Be sure to back stitch beginning and end of seam.

So here are my yellow beauties in all their sunshine and glory:

Things to consider:

  • Patterned fabric requires more work. I did not get too particular about matching up my patterns. For instance, all 6 of my panels do not start and stop at the same point in the repeating pattern. I did, however, make sure that my hemlines were even based on the repeating pattern. This wasn’t too tricky. I made sure to cut my fabric as straight as possible. The only panel I had trouble with was the first one off the bolt that I’m guessing some cross-eyed idiot at the warehouse cut. No bitterness here. I just had to spend a lot of extra time cheating some hemlines on that panel to make it look straight.
  • Use painters tape to clearly define your seam allowance on your machine. This was so helpful. Having a giant piece of bright blue tape to guide me instead of a teeny little tick mark was one secret of my success.
  • Forget about sewing 7 foot long curtains at your little sewing table. I set up shop on our dining room table. I needed every bit of the surface.
  • Take a page out of Sherry Petersik’s book and use an area rug as a straight edge for cutting your fabric. Such a great trick!
  • After sewing the sides of the lining to the fabric, I laid the whole curtain on the floor, lining side up, and pulled at it until I had a 1” border of fabric on each side of the lining. I pinned it in place so I could press the sides easier.
  • THESE CURTAINS TOOK ME FOREVER. FOREVER AS IN OVER 30 HOURS OF LABOR. I was probably a lot slower since it was my first rodeo, but just be warned…
  • Materials you will need:
    • Sewing machine
    • Extra machine needle
    • Thread
    • Fabric
    • Lining
    • Rotary cutter – good for cutting the lining, but wasn’t sharp enough for my thicker curtain fabric
    • Cutting mat with measurements
    • Sharp set of sewing scissors
    • Straight pins
    • Measuring tape – not the kind you get at the hardware store. The ribbon kind.
    • Iron and ironing board
    • Seam ripper – if you mess up, it’s no big deal. That’s what a seam ripper is for.
    • Tape measure – the kind you get at the hardware store for cutting out really long pieces of fabric

Not to toot my own horn, but I am super proud of these babies. They were time consuming yes, and frustrating, but they turned out so well and I did them all by myself. I know that yellow isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Heck, I’ve already said I don’t like yellow walls. But I really like these curtains. They cheer up such a rustic room with all the wood paneling.

Do we plan to paint the wood paneling? No. I really like our paneling. It has these fluted grooves and it feels more solid than a lot of paneling from the mid-century. Plus it’s in a basement room, so I think it’s rather fitting. You know? It’s lodgey. And that’s not a word. It would kind of be a shame if us youngins’ came blazing in there and painted 50-year-old wood paneling. I mean, who do we think we are? It would be no easy task, either. I’ve heard about the horrors of seepage, not to mention that this room is humongous. No thank you.

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A Books Review

Posted on September 21, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies |

One of my sorority sisters invited a few of us to join her book club that meets monthly for wine, goodies, and discussion. I love books – always have. I find it so refreshing to be able to talk about them with my closest friends. You can learn even more about your friends by their reactions and insights.

 I attended my first book club meeting at the end of August where we discussed The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

The Paris Wife is historical fiction about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hattie, and the years they spent in Paris together. Not everyone in my book club liked it. Some people said they just couldn’t get into it and it started pretty slow. I had a fair understanding of Ernest Hemingway, his life, and his death. So I knew going in that this book wasn’t going to be a happy story.

I really appreciate how the author wove in her own story through factual events and relationships. She did her research. I have always viewed historical fiction with awe. It’s intriguing to me because if it’s done well, the reader cannot separate what was true or what was a creation of the author. Historical fiction brings real people to life with scenes and dialogue even if it isn’t completely factual.  And props to the author again. Even though I knew how this story would end, the way McClain delivered the ending brought tears to my eyes.

If you like Americana and books written by authors from the 1920s and 30s, you’ll enjoy this peek into Hemingway’s first marriage.

For September/October, we are reading S.J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep.

This psychological thriller has a similar concept as Momento. Because of an accident, a woman wakes up everyday and cannot remember much about her life. She re-sets. At the recommendation of her doctor, she starts journaling everyday and hides the journal from her husband in an effort to gain some of her memories back. What follows is a horrific discovery of clues and deceit.

This book is such a page turner and you don’t know which characters to trust, even the lead protagonist. The author is genius in his placement of quasi-clues. I say quasi because you don’t even realize they are clues until you get near the end or finish the book entirely. The main character has some serious flaws, but you cannot help but feel pain for her and her situation. Yes, this book was dark. But it was more suspenseful than disturbing.

If you like suspense or psychological thrillers, you will like this.

For the holidays, we decided to pick lighter fare since we’ll all be preoccupied with family and holiday parties. We are reading The Hunger Games trilogy.

 I know, I know. I’m way behind on this craze. I think I was planning this little shindig wedding of mine at the height of Hunger pandemonium. I just started the final book of the trilogy today. I can already tell you that The Hunger Games are right up there in the world of Harry Potter for me. That’s saying something. Of course, nothing could match Harry, but they come closer than any other book I’ve read. Sorry Twilight peeps.

I can’t offer a full review yet since I haven’t finished, but they’re amazing and so difficult to put down. The series is based in post-apocalyptic America, a communist nation known as Panem divided into 12 districts that have a specific industry – manufacturing, coal, agriculture, etc. I found this handy map of Panem created by Maria Rizzoni:

Because District 13 revolted against the Capitol (the capital district of communist leaders) hundreds of years ago, Panem holds the annual Hunger Games to remind its citizens who is still in control. Each district sends 2 representatives, one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight to the death. Whoever wins will win wealth for themselves and lifetime of security. They will also win food for their district for an entire year. I can’t get into it too much without giving it away, but the plot is thicker than the Hunger Games itself. Strong themes are politics, survival, loyalty, humanity, power, society, and sacrifice.

The books are a quick read because they were written for a young adult audience. However, the themes translate to adults and are probably better appreciated by a more mature audience. I recommend these for anyone who likes a good book. It’s got love. It’s got sentimental backstory. It has a survival of the fittest theme. And it’s great for anyone interested in social or political science.

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