Monthly Archives: March 2012

Pillow Talk

I did a craft! A pretty big one, too. We bought a cute little pair of couches  just after we moved into our house this summer and they came with about a million pillows. Honestly, we have pillows everywhere. But the fabrics are a bit drab. Just ugly. So not my style, here take a peek:

Anyways, I finally got around to making some covers for them and oh, they turned out so cute!! I just love them.

Here’s what I did…

I spent quite a while playing with my stash of fabrics (I always shop the remnant bin at JoAnns – you can’t beat 50% off!!) and deciding which ones I wanted to put together, then took my measuring tape to those pesky pillows. The majority of them are square, and then there’s one smaller rectangular pillow. Odd tid-bit about this girl – I love to write things down. I make to-do lists almost every day. What I need to clean, who I need to call, what I’m making for dinner, shopping lists, errands to run; all of it gets written down. So, naturally I wrote down all my ideas and pillow measurements.

I decided to do detailed fronts and keep the backs fairly simple with two pieces that overlap closed but have easy access to remove the covers for washing and interchanging. Then came the cutting and sewing and stuffing my covers over the pillows and exclaiming in glee! The first pillow was a simple three pieces. I sewed a little hem on the two edges of the overlapping flaps before pinning and sewing them together. Here’s how my test pillow turned out, what a cute fabric!

And the back, the old pillow is trying to peek through a bit so I adjusted to make the flaps overlap a bit more for the next go-round.

Overall, a success! Then things got a bit crazy. The little oblong pillow got a fat accent stripe and a little piece of lace leftover from an apron project I did a few years ago. So pretty – I used the salvage edge of the orange fabric for a little more character. I love the fringe and the whole look of this little guy.

Then I got the idea to do some ruffles! This off-white linen fabric is so gorgeous, but thin enough that it needed some iron-on interfacing to prevent the pillow pattern from showing through. An annoying but necessary step, and it made this pillow so fancy and thick feeling. And this double ruffle is such a favorite!

Fabric ruffles are super cute and pretty easy to make once you figure it out. Here’s a fast little tutorial of how I made mine…

Cut your fabric strip to double the width you want your ruffle to be. Then cut some elastic (I used 3/8″) about half the length of your fabric piece. This will determine how ruffly your ruffle will end up being; longer elastic will be a smoother ruffle, shorter elastic will be a fluffier ruffle. With your fabric right side down, fold and pin the edges in to the middle. I somehow missed this folding step with my camera but you’ll see the idea in some later photos. You want the seam to be in the middle because then it will end up hidden under the elastic when your ruffle is finished.

Now fold both the elastic and your fabric strip in half lengthwise and mark the middle then line those marks up and pin.

Next pin the ends of your fabric and elastic together – yes the fabric will be bunchy…that is kindof the point of these ruffles, you know.

Then hold where it’s pinned and stretch then pin in the middle. Continue this until there are pins every inch or so.

Then you sew it! Elastic side up and stretch it a little as you go. Then take out your pins and attach to your pillow or shirt or what have you and just admire that ruffle!

It took me a while to come up with another idea and I finally decided to do some quilted stripes with a bunch of the fabrics to tie the pillows together. Here it is in progress.

My new collection!

They’re so colorful and cheery! Perfect for spring and summertime coming up. I keep rearranging them and taking more and more photos! I just can’t get enough!

There are 6 more of these couch pillows in the basement and guest rooms that might get some love soon. I might do a whole different color scheme though, we’ll see.

Is there a craft or project you’ve been wanting to work on but just can’t get started? My advice is to go for it! Just commit yourself and figure it out. Yeah, it’s a little scary at first but oh man, what an awesome feeling to have finished this!!!

Happy crafting! <3

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Red chevron stripes

With the painting of the hallway from last week, I had mentioned I needed more art and decorations so I decided to make something of my own for the time being. I’m really into chevron stripes at the moment and had a few extra canvases laying around to experiment with.

First step, creating a grid of 2 inch squares.

Using painters tape to create the stripes – make sure to push down your tape!

My first layer of paint – I actually went over the whole thing with white, so that anything that leaked underneath the tape would be that color.

Second layer – I used the red that I eventually want to use for the accent wall in the living room.

Peeling off the tape! There were a few sections I had to touch up as well as taking an eraser to the pencil lines.

I love the modern simplicity of chevron stripes.

Hung above the stairs, next to the door to the kitchen. It looks a little small for the space, so I’m considering making another one – quick Photoshop of what it might look like… what do you guys think?

Mock-up?

Also, look who got a bath today?? This is my dachshund, Sidney, who absolutely loathes baths. Look at that face!

 

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Presto! Pesto!

I love pesto. And I mean, LOVE the stuff. Whenever Adam has to go out of town for work, I take comfort in daily doses of pesto noodles, or pesto sandwiches, or just eating it with a spoon. Yeah, not even exaggerating.

I’ve been making my own for a couple months now and I think it’s about time to share the love! Traditional pesto is strictly basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, and olive oil. Easy enough, huh? The fun part of making your own is that you can personalize it to your liking – for example I like to switch out the first two ingredients for spinach and walnuts. I do love basil but it’s a little overwhelming if that’s the only ingredient so I usually do a combo of both when I have them…otherwise straight up spinach. And my version is way cheaper to make! Basil and pine nuts are pricey!

One of our wedding presents was a nice little combo blender and food processor…which I promptly broke. They should make those things out of stronger stuff! Seriously. So we went a couple years without until my dear sweet mama gifted us a super nice one. It’s so heavy I can hardly get it out of the cabinet to use it! That thing won’t be breaking anytime soon. Thank goodness!

As I’ve been thinking of recipes to share I came to the realization that I don’t measure anything. Ever. (And baking doesn’t count.) Not very helpful to you all but I’ll do my best and with most of my ‘recipes’ (I guess I have to use that word lightly now) it doesn’t matter too much. You want yours not so garlic-y? If you find you need to use more oil? Just trust your instincts. They’re usually right…..right?

We’ll do some estimations to give you an idea:

  • 2 cups packed spinach
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2(ish) cup olive oil

Ok so step one is to grind up the parmesan. I like to buy it in the big blocks and then grind it up myself (again, way cheaper). You want to get so it looks to be uniform in size, then add in the walnuts and spinach to break them up a bit.

Once it’s had a chance to get going, throw those garlic cloves in and pulse a few more times. You really need to break up the nuts so just keep going until it forms almost a paste.

And then keep the lid on but take off the little attachment on top and as the machine is running, slowly pour in the olive oil until it’s nice and liquidy but not too juicy. You’re looking for the texture of say, applesauce?

There’s my mini ice cream scoop again. Probably the most used utensil in my kitchen…and here’s my favorite part. Freeze it! I have been finding more and more ways to utilize my freezer to extend the life of a ton of food! We honestly have a whole freezer drawer just for cheese. Probably a good 10 lbs of frozen cheese in there…I’ve got a WI guy, remember. I spent a good 4 hours deep cleaning and organizing our fridge/freezer a couple weeks ago and boy does that help! But I digress, that’s another post for another day and we need to get back on track.

Freezing pesto is also much more practical. It’s simple but does take a little effort to make – mainly a messy food processor and I like to shop at Costco a lot (again why our freezer is essential) so when I make pesto I make enough to feed a small army. Here’s my trick. Use a small scoop to portion it into little muffin tins (these silicon ones are amazing because once it’s frozen they pop right out and clean up nice and easy in the dishwasher) and find a flat place for them in the freezer to hang out for a few hours.

You do have to work kindof fast when transferring your “pesto pucks” to a ziplock as the heat from your hands can start to melt them. Look at these beauties! Don’t forget to date them…yeah I might have a rotating stockpile. This is a serious addiction, I know. I think I would probably have a panic attack if we ever ran out.

Now just because this is making me hungry, here’s a quick look at two of my favorite pesto recipes. First and my most favorite is Chicken Pesto Noodles with Goat Cheese. Even sounds a little fancy, huh? I cook a chicken breast in the oven and then shred it (you could easily use a rotisserie) and cook up some carrots and broccoli or cauliflower until they’re tender while boiling some noodles then combine everything in one big pan and add a couple little pesto nuggets and a bit of the pasta water until they melt then plate it up and add some goat cheese right on top. Oh so delicious!

Yes, this goat cheese came straight from the freezer onto my plate which is so perfect because it melts nice and slow on the hot noodles and you get a little taste with every bite instead of just a mush stuck to one noodle which can happen if it’s so warm and soft.

Another fave is a lot of the same ingredients but on a sandwich. A nice thin piece of chicken, pesto all over one side of the bun, goat cheese on the other, a big slice of tomato and some avocado. Oh and a pickle. Heavenly.

It’s also pretty amazing with some hot foccoccia bread straight out of the oven. All salty and soft and covered in rosemary. Just dunk it right in. Seriously, my mouth is watering right now. YUM! I think I know what’s for dinner tomorrow night!

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Hallway Part 2

I told you I’d be back with another hallway wallpaper update! I tackled the front entryway this week and it turned out to be a hassle for a few different reasons.

A before picture of the front doorway with wallpaper.

Upper level of the staircase that required some innovative engineering in order to get to.

The connecting wall from the stairs. Everything in this picture terrifies me honestly – the fake plant, the mismatched random purple lamp (turns out it wasn’t even plugged in, what the heck was it doing there!?), the sad decorations… But everything was about to change.

Time to start removing wallpaper – and here’s where the first problem started. I discovered that underneath the visible wallpaper was a complete second layer of a different pattern. And look at how crazy it is! Yellow and black florals/stripes/everything you can imagine. So these walls ended up taking longer than anticipated, just because I had twice as much to tackle.

And it was everywhere!

Once all the paper was removed I did one coat of primer. If you’re wondering how I tackled the staircase, here’s the answer:

A precarious yet effective solution my dad created – a 12 foot ladder against the wall, a board placed on the third rung and spanning up to the level stair and then an 8 foot ladder standing on that. I’m actually terrified of heights and get vertigo on regular stairs – so this was a really exciting combination! Especially when you add in a paint roller.

Completed! I carried on the yellow from the other hallway – and I’m actually wishing I choose a more exciting color. That’s always my downfall when it comes to painting. I chose colors too quickly and never go with a bold enough choice. I get nervous about overwhelming the space but I think it would have been much more exciting with something that popped more.

Updated full hallway.

And the most dramatic change on the wall.  The whole space needs more decorating and thought but I just couldn’t wait to share the progress!

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Ombre Cake

We celebrated my roommate’s birthday this past weekend and I got to try out a recipe I’ve been lusting after lately – an ombre cake! Basically, just a layered cake with each in a different shade of your chosen color.

Started by separating my cake batter into 6 bowls.

Colored each bowl with increments of food coloring – started with one drop and the last one got about 8.

Once baked, the edges were browned and rounded, so I cut the tops off not only to level them out but to ensure I stacked the colors in the right order!

Stacking and icing between each layer – I’m embarrassed to say how much frosting was actually used in the making of this cake (3 and a half tubs of store bought!)- but I don’t even think it was enough!

Icing the outside (you can see a peak of the kitchen wallpaper here – as stated in my previous post, every room has some new exciting pattern – be on the lookout for an updated wallpaper post later this week!)

Cut open! It was hard to get a clean photo, the frosting always seemed to smudge on the inside but it was so fun to make and look at that I really didn’t mind. Thinking about making one for St. Patrick’s day – that is, if we can ever get this one eaten!

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Works in Progress

Over the years, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am a severe procrastinator. Case in point, I meant to make this post over a week ago. Nice, huh? Growing up, I ALWAYS left my science projects and papers and semester long assignments until the absolute last moment. Like, to the point where I’d have to stay up more than half the night trying to scramble and finish. I was also the kid furiously studying at lunch and hiding my notes in unrelated textbooks  to prepare for a test that I’d known about well in advance. What I’m getting at is that I am super good at starting projects…but not so great at finishing them. I’ve been working on this little problem of mine for a while and I really think I’m growing up and getting better. Or maybe I just tell myself that….

So, here’s a look at what I’ve been working on lately and maybe this will give me the motivation to get my butt in gear and keep going! I sure hope so.

We bought our first house this summer and we really got a great deal – it’s 5 years old and has some gorgeous wood floors, and a finished basement, and a huge wrap around yard (yaye corner lot!) with a nice patio, and a 3-car garage, and just so much potential! Really, it’s in great shape and there’s not much we need to do to it but of course I have a few wants. We’ve been pretty bad at buying furniture and decorating and my excuse is that I just don’t know where to start. I got a little upset a few weeks ago that we have this big beautiful house but it’s not even close to feeling like ‘home’ yet. Adam came up with the idea that I make a list of everything I want for the house and when I want to get it done and how much I want to spend on each item/project. Genius! He was pretty proud of himself until he saw how long my list was getting. Ha! Whoops. We decided to start small and the smallest room in our house is what I call “the toilet closet” in the master bath. Here’s what it looked like on the day of our final walk through…ugh.

After a lot of taping and painting and doing touch ups, we had a cute little striped room! I love paint stripes but after this I’m not sure if any other rooms will be getting this treatment. I printed out some 8×10’s we took on our trip to Kauai last summer and found some frames at Target then spent forever trying to figure out where and how to hang them and here’s what it looks like now!

So much better! I still really want to switch out the ugly dome light fixture for something easy and inexpensive and way more fun – this is just one tiny room of our house after all…I think one of these would be so perfect!

Something I have always wanted is to have a huge vegetable and flower garden but somehow I was born without much of a green thumb. I always manage to kill my plants. Oh so disappointing. However! This past fall, while mom was visiting she helped me plant some of the bulbs I’d been stockpiling. Just yesterday I noticed that they’ve started peeking out of the dirt! This is beyond exciting and is almost giving me enough motivation to plant more. The problem is that I don’t know where to put them. We have some lovely rock-piles surrounding the house and I’d really like to clear those out and turn them into some nice little flower beds but I just don’t want to do something wrong! Good thing my garden help is coming for another visit next week…oh moooooom! I have an activity for us! Just check out these gorgeous spring bulbs I just bought! (the paperwhite ziva are the ones getting ready to to bloom – so cute!)

As I’ve mentioned, I have a grandmotherly addiction to knitting and here’s my most recent project. I have a lot more things in the works but here’s the project I’ve been most excited about and what has been occupying most of my time.

Gorgeous and snuggly blanket! Look at the pattern, so so pretty.

I just love it! It’s about…half done and I’ve been working on it since probably September. Someday I’ll finish.

Now this is just a handful of my works in progress….and I think it worked! I am itching for some knitting right now so off I go!

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Hallway Overhaul

One of the things that makes me crazy about my house is all the wallpaper – almost every wall is covered. Even the ceiling in the bathroom downstairs! I’m very lucky to have a great house to live in, even more lucky that I’m allowed to make some changes. And stripping wallpaper in favor of paint is one of the biggest  and most dramatic changes, one I actually love doing. (I had a really busy and stressful week and this actually helped me relax!)

In the past year, I’ve tackled the upstairs bathroom and two bedrooms and loved the changes, so I decided to go for the small hallway between the rooms this week.

Fun pattern, right? Even the closet doors were covered.

The stripping actually went really fast and easy – all the rooms in the house have been different. Our bedrooms were horrible, taking days to take down, but this hallway didn’t even take an hour and came away in large pieces. I washed the walls and gave it one coat of primer before the best part – paint! I chose a light yellow that I want to carry throughout the house to the other hallways and living room. A nice warm neutral, with a red accent wall sometime in the future!

With new paint I wanted some new decoration – printed out some of my favorite art pieces I had saved on my computer and displayed them all in different white frames.

Messed around with the layout on the floor until I got something I liked, and transferred it to the wall using newspaper to flesh out the look and feel.

It’s like a whole new hallway! I have to admit, I’ve been hanging out there almost obsessively lately, I love the reward of new projects! Excited to keep working on the house and see more changes. Only one problem still with that hallway, I haven’t figured out what to do with the doors – I don’t want to strip the wallpaper leaving all the glue residue and I’m hesitant to paint over them although that might be the best option. I could always buy new ones and attach new hardware but hopefully will think of another solution.

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Pallets on board!

There is a reason I’ve been MIA for the past week – a pretty big one. I’ve been working on building myself a new coffee table from old pallets! Re-using and re-purposing old pallets has been such a craze lately – I have a huge folder on my computer filled with projects I’d like to tackle. And with the weather being so nice last week, I decided to give it a go and try to fix an area that’s been bothering me in the living room lately – our mismatched coffee tables. These were both just sort of throwaway items that got donated to our house (as is the case with much of our furniture).

Pretty bad, right? Different colors, different styles and different heights, I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

A quick search on Craigslist resulted in a batch of really nice, big and free pallets.

First step was tearing off all the boards – this took quite a bit of time and arm power. My grip strength was pretty much nonexistent after two days of this.

After pulling them off, they went right back on! Hammered out the screws and lined all the boards up as close as possible to create a flat-top for the table.

All put back together, nice and flush. There did end up being about an inch overhang that we took a saw to for a quick fix to even everything out.

Flipped it over and pulled off the boards on the opposite side – did the same with a second pallet, but left the other side with evenly spaced boards for the bottom of the table.

I added 4 extra boards to the bottom outside in order to give it some more height, I didn’t want it too low.

A few passes with the sander to smooth out the biggest problems – pallet boards are notoriously gross and rotten but I got pretty nice boards to start off with.

Then it was time for staining! One coat of Jacobean stain, with a few coats of satin polyurethane finish and then the hardest part – waiting for things to dry.

Once dry, I attached the two pallets with brackets on the inside.

Flipped it over to attach rolling casters. I knew this table was going to be pretty heavy when all was said and done, and these make it so easy for me to move on my own.

And after!! So much nicer, a big uniform coffee table that actually has some personality!

I love the space for magazines or storage between top and bottom, and the different wood grains from each board.

My advice? If you’re thinking about a project like this, go for it! Pallets are easy to come by, and since they’re free you won’t have any guilt over messing anything up. Everyone has to start somewhere.

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