Archive | July, 2011

I am a Crafty Beaver!

27 Jul

Yes, it is official, I have joined the Crafty Beavers.

Crafty Beaver Chicago

Crafty Beaver logo

What is that, you may ask yourself?  Well it is a group of amazing young women that meet once a month for charity, crafting, creativity, cocktails and conversation!  Read more about the group and how crafty creator, Kyra Phee, came up with the genius idea here.   Last night I went to my first “Crafty Beavers Chicago” meeting where the motto is “making arts to fill our hearts!”  My cousin invited me to join this fabulous group, and I am so glad that I went.   Basically everyone meets at a bar/restaurant and pays a small fee.  Together you make a craft, eat, drink and socialize; proceeds go to a charity of the groups choosing.  Last night we made scented bath salts and a sugar body scrub.  I regret not taking more photos, but good ‘ol Martha made some bath salts here…

bath salts

via Marth Stewart

These little jars would make wonderful gifts and they were so easy to make.  All you need to do is gather your supplies and get mixin’!

Supplies:

  • Cute jars with air tight lids (Walmart has some inexpensive ones, or you can use some recycled ones)
  • Epsom salt and/or sea salt
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Essential oils (you can find these on various on-line retailers and they come in tons of scents.  Last night I made lemongrass scented salts which I am pretty excited about because I just looked up the benefits of lemongrass and the endless list includes:  analgesic-like properties and the ability to fight cellulite-HA!  We’ll see about that second one!)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Olive oil

Mix it up!

For the bath salts:  Add about one cup of salt to your jar, mix in one tsp of baking soda (optional), then add 3-4 drops of oil.  If you would like colored salts, add a few drops of food coloring, then mix.  That’s it!  Done!  Go take a bath, or screw the lid on tight and give it to someone who could use a relaxing spa-like escape!

For the sugar scrub:  Add about one cup of sugar to your jar, stir in some olive oil (I eyeballed this-add and stir until it is the constancy you like, then add a touch more because it may dry up a bit), then add a teaspoon or two of the vanilla extract.  Stir it up and start scrubbing!  Could that be any easier?

Vanilla Sugar Scrub and Lemongrass Bath Salts

I found quite a few recipes for homemade salts and scrubs out there.  Check out this link I found for  Tip Junkie’s list of 14 different scrubs!  They all make me want to go relax in the bath =)

I hope everyone had a relaxing day!

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Adventures in Sewing

25 Jul

Happy Monday everyone; I hope you had a great weekend.  Mine was filled with more birthday cake and birthday parties; almost everyone in my family has a birthday at the end of July or the beginning of August.  So far we have had three, and there are still four more to come!

I did manage to squeeze a lot of sewing in on Sunday.  I can’t say that the majority of it was a success…but I did get an ‘A’ for effort.  I decided to try to make slipcovers for my Pier 1 parsons chairs that I got a few weeks ago (more talk about dining room chairs here and here).   Last week I found the perfect fabric to compliment the seat cushions on my other chairs.

"yellow and gray print fabric"

Fabric for white chairs

yellow and gray bird fabric

Fabric for parsons chairs

The photos look a bit off…the colors match.

Anyway, I also got some cheap fabric to make a trial slipcover first.

I thought I could drape the fabric...

add a side panel and pin...

and pin some more...

Then sew along the seams, but it turned out really lumpy at the top!

bumpy lumps

So on the other side of the chair I did…

a seam at the top first...

Then I sewed the sides, but that still wasn’t working quite right…

Time for the seam ripper!

I tried again by sewing smaller pieces together along each side.

Front pieces sewn to a side panel (instead of wrapping the fabric around the top)

Front with two side panels...

I then added a back and even a seat.  Everything was going ok; then I tried to add a side to the seat.

putting on the lower side...

And that was lumpy and bumpy also!!

blah, blah, blah

After all of my hard work, this is what I came up with today:

An accent pillow!

For our bedroom (more here, here and here) =)

Success!

I want to make two of these, but after all the mishaps with the slipcover I only had the energy to make one.

I think I am going to have to either buy a pattern for the slipcover or just purchase a ready made one at Pier 1 and take it apart to figure it out.  I am hoping a basic pattern from the fabric store will work okay because I have a feeling deconstructing an existing cover may not work as well as I would like it to.

The moral of this adventure in sewing is:  if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (and again), then give up and do something else.  😉

1/2 thrift 1/2 knit Pouf

20 Jul

Today was the Pouf-a-long and I just finished my pouf!  Nothing like waiting till the last-minute.  My excuse is last week’s power outage and all the birthday fun put me a bit behind in the crafting department.  Check out Welcome to Heardmont, It’s Great to be Home, and Newly Woodwards for other poufs!

This was probably my favorite pouf when checking out ones on-line:

CB2 Knitted Pouf...how cute is that?

I used that CB2 ones as my inspiration, and without further adieu….

knitted pouf

MY POUF!

I should probably back up and explain how I constructed this knitted masterpiece (actually half of it may be crocheted, but I am not sure).    A week or so ago I took a trip to the local Salvation Army in search of pouf making materials. I was actually looking for some old knitted sweaters that I could transform, but I came across this cute little blanket…and for $3 it had me at hello:

green and white blanket

Hello Green Blankie

I decided to transform this into my pouf with a little extra yarn and creativity.  I set off to JoAnn and picked up some apple green yarn.  I wasn’t exactly sure if the blanket was crocheted or knit.  I started using a crochet hook, but I am not very good with those so I gave up and went with the knitting needles.  I casted on loops all the way down one of the long sides of the blanket with a circular needle.  This was one big experiment.  I was hoping to make a perfect circle, but I couldn’t get the stitches right.  Because I am semi type A, I may actually take my pouf apart and start the top over again…but for now I will tell you how I did this one.

So….I knitted in the round along the length of the blanket and decreased by one stitch each row (I found out after hours of knitting that this was not enough decreasing and I should have decreased 5 or 6 per row probably).

knitted pouf

The opening is starting to get smaller...

knitted pouf

After more rows it is ready to be closed...

When the size looked to be about right, I sewed up the loops and cinched it up.  Next I stitched the side seam and filled ‘er up!

I used 3 toss pillows and some polyester filling

I stitched up the bottom and now have a pouf!

knitted pouf

Pouf in my Office/Craft Room

knitted pouf

Top 'o' the pouf

Success!

It’s a touch lumpy so I may open it up (remake the top) and stuff it with something better, but like I said, it works for now!

So, what do you think of my 1/2 Thrift 1/2 Knit pouf?

Carrot Cake and Beaded Cake Server

19 Jul

Hi everyone!  This past weekend we celebrated Kevin’s birthday.  We had a lot of fun packed into two short (extremely hot) days; I finally feel like I am recovering from the sugar overload.  We had our family over yesterday for birthday cake, cupcakes, brownies, laughs and just good times.  The hit of the get-together was the made from scratch carrot cake-Kevin’s favorite.

carrot cake

How do you like my nutty letters?

Here is what you need to make this delicious cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces neufchatel cheese, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups chopped walnuts

And here is what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and dust with flour two 9″ round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in walnuts. Pour equally into prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake and decorate with remaining nuts.

This recipe is a slight variation of the one found on www.allrecipes.com

Once the cake is made, do you have something cute to serve it with?  Never fear, I am about to show you how to make a custom beaded cake server like this one:

DIY beaded cake server

Gold beaded cake server

I have found that this little cake server is a great gift (birthday, shower, housewarming, hostess, etc).  I made a pretty pink one for my mom a few years back (and she still uses it for every birthday party and/or holiday).  When I gave it to her, I put the server on 4 clear glass dessert plates and tied it with a pink bow.  You can select whatever color beads you want…perhaps you can find dessert plates first, and go from there.  Check out these cute little gnome ones I found at a gift shop the other day:

Gnome plates

Brightly colored gnome plates

These would look so cute with a red and blue server.  Gnomes are almost as cute as owls…

Anyway, let’s get to the instructions:

DIY supplies

Gather your supplies

You will need assorted beads (I just used some gold ones from an inexpensive tub of glass beads), the metal server (got this one at Bed Bath & Beyond for $9.99), thick 20 gauge wire, and possibly some jewelry pliers (helps, but not essential)

Bend wire

Place bent wire along back of handle and wrap wire around a couple of times.

Now you are ready for beads!

Add one bead, wrap around back, add another...

And another...and another...

Once you get to the end wrap the wire around a few times and secure it in the back.

What the back looks like...

And there you have it:   A DIY beaded cake server, perfect for gifts or just serving up a beautiful birthday cake!

beaded cake server

Close up of the finished piece

DIY beaded cake server

Gold beaded cake server =)

You can apply this same technique to any type of serving piece.  I have made serving spoons and cheese knives…but the possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!

Green with Envy

16 Jul

Wow, it feels like forever since I have made a post…eek…it has been a few days!  Thankfully our power came back on after about 2 days in the dark.   It was just enough time to ruin all of our food and make the house hot and sticky =(  We are back to normal again and I have been thinking Green.  Not “re-use, reduce, recycle” Green (however I should probably think about that more often),  just the color Green.

My thoughts of Green started while knitting some Green yarn.  It just happens to be that I was working own my pouf at the time, so here is a sneak peek:

"green pouf"  "green yarn"

I still have a lot of work to do!

While I was knitting, my Green zebra print purse was sitting next to me.  We have these wonderful stores in Chicago (I think they may have a couple elsewhere) called 1154 Lill Studio where you can custom make your own handbag.   It is such a cute idea; they have tons of options for bags and thousands of fabrics.  It is a little pricey so I only went in there when I scored a groupon to it.  I just loved this green zebra fabric and I thought it would look cute with the watermelon-y pink strap…

"green and pink purse"

My summery Green purse

It was fun to pick and choose from all the fabric…and even more fun to see what it turns out like =)

After seeing those things I started to think about Green.  I have pretty Green dishes from Crate and Barrel:

Crate and Barrel Green dishes

Crate and Barrel

Someday my kitchen will be Green and white and black…just like this:

via homeanddecor.net

I absolutely love this kitchen.

Here are some other fabulous Green things:

Pretty Green stripes and accessories via countryliving.com

Green trim via countryliving.com

I would never have thought of painting woodwork Green, but it looks so cute!

Kitchen Aid Mixer via Amazon.com

I have a beautiful sparkly black mixer that reminds me of a bowling ball (that I searched high and low for), that I love, but if I ever lost that 30 lb thing I would get this one.

Green Pillow

Crate and Barrel

Now that is a fuzzy Green pillow!

textured Green pillow

Pier 1

This textured Green pillow is equally as cool as the fuzzy one.

Z Gallerie

These napkin holders are adorable…I bet you can make something like that with a little thinking!

Pier 1

What a sweet little plate.  This would be cute hung on the wall in a mix of white plates.  They actually make a yellow one that may end up in our dining room.

green knobs

Cost Plus Worldmarket

This pretty little knobs are just begging to go on a pretty white nightstand or dresser.

And lastly:

West Elm

These are clearly not Green, but they are Gray, and I love them.  Have a great weekend!

We have no power =(

12 Jul

Hello!  Yesterday we had a huge storm come thru our  town and it took our electricty with it.  As I am patiently waiting to get my computer going again I can only do this quick post.

Yesterday my day was brightened by a box of lavender sent straight from California.  I won the Centsational Girl lavender give away last week; thank you to Kate!  I took a pic of it, but unfortunately I can’t load it until we get power.   Right now the lavender is drying in a dark place; hopefully I can make some scented bags or something creative with my winnings.  I will keep everyone posted!

Today I linked my Dining Room Chair re-do up at Thrify Decor Chick.  Take a look at all the fabulous Before & Afters over there.  I love the coffee table she transformed.

[beforeAndAfterButton3.gif]

After work I plan on knitting via candlelight; I have a lot of work to do on my pouf!

Have a Happy Tuesday 😉

I am joining the pouf-a-long!

10 Jul

I stumbled on a great blog the other day called Welcome to Heardmont…I am so new to the blogging world I find something new everyday =)  Meredith and two other bloggers (It’s Great to be Home and Newly Woodwards) are hosting something call The Pouf-a-long on July 20th-check out their blogs for more info.   It’s all about Poufs:

Tasi Designs via Louloupear.blogspot.com

Flora Pouf ($549 of pouf) via http://www.casasugar.com

CB2 Knitted Pouf...how cute is that?

Moroccan Pouf from Amazon for $240!

What is a Pouf you may ask?  It’s a lot of things: floor pillow…ottoman…doggie bed…place to set some magazines…one more cute thing to trip over…

I have decided to DIY my own pouf and post it here on July 20th.  I hope my little plan works!