Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some final thoughts for the year

2013 started with a challenge to create a recipe and craft that I had found on Pinterest for every week.  Well, 2013 is ending and I didn't quite make it.  I was able to get 39 crafts and 30 recipes posted.  Truthfully, I was able to get through the 52 crafts and 52 recipes, I just wasn't able to write about all of it.

Why, you ask?  Some of the crafts fell into the "epic fail" category.  My favorite was the cement jack-o-lantern.  Here's the original from fox hollow cottage:

…and here's mine:


Not so great.

Some of the crafts I did just like the post, so there wasn't any point in re-inventing the wheel.  Most of the crafts I just didn't take the time to take photos as I went along.  If often wasn't practical (hard to take a picture when you need both hands to be working on the craft), or I was covered in glue/paint and didn't want to stop, clean up and snap the picture.

My favorite craft this year was a mixed media piece I made based on the inspiration (and great tutorial) from Christy Tomlinson's website.  Her Christmas tree was amazing, so I thought I would give it a whirl.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Week 39 Craft: the Green and White Wreath

I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of a green and white Thanksgiving!  There were such beautiful centerpieces out there on the world wide web.

 from Sonja Bannick

I couldn't find original websites for these two, but inspiring just the same:

My old Christmas wreath was starting to show some wear and tear, so I thought I would update it this year, and that green and white theme was still rolling around my brain.  Here's what I put together:

I just love it!  Both Michael's and Hobby Lobby seemed to feel that shiny was the way to go this year, so who am I to argue?  

What you need:
1 bush Pointsettia flowers (Michaels)
2 sprigs of frosted pine cones (Michaels)
3 Bushes of frosted white fern (Michaels)
 14"Styrofoam wreath (Hobby Lobby)
Jingle bells (I had mine from last year, but you can find them anywhere)
Assortment of Christmas balls (raid your supply)
Crystal snowflake (Hobby Lobby)
Glue gun
Wire cutters

How to:
1. Cut the fern stems off the bush and glue around your wreath form.  Start with the widest part on the inside and let the tips hang past the edges (it makes your wreath look larger).  NOTE: Love these ferns, but expect your work area to look like a strip club for the next few days.  There was glitter EVERYWHERE!!
2. Cut the stems off the frosted pinecones and glue around your wreath on top of the ferns.  I didn't want anything to be too "matchy-matchy" so I spaced then unevenly.
3.  Next layer is the poinsettias.  I used the rule of three and again didn't space them quite evenly to make the wreath look more natural (wait...glitter and crystals natural?)
4. Time to start tucking jingle bells and ornaments in to peek out from the poinsettias and pinecones.  Put as many or as few as you like.
5. The finishing touch was to add the crystal snowflake.  I did want this to stand out a little, so I glued it in a somewhat open area.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week 30 Recipe: Welsh Rarebit with Tuna and Peas

Growing up my mom used to make this wonderful concoction of cheesy, gooey goodness that she always called welsh rarebit.  Recently, I went on an internet search to locate this recipe.  How sad it was to find out that what my mom made had very little in common with welsh rarebit!  But, how happy I am that I get to share her recipe with you.

Ingredients for 2 servings:
1 5oz can of tuna drained
1/2 of a 7oz can of peas drained
4 oz of sharp cheddar cheese shredded
2-4 T of milk (I used 2%)
1T of flour
1T of butter
salt and pepper to taste
Two slices of a nice, hearty bread

Over medium heat in a small saucepan mix the flour and butter to make a rue, cooking for several minutes.  
Lower the heat and add 2T of milk to the rue.
Slowly add the cheese.  Stir until it melts before adding more cheese.  At first it will look like this:

Be patient, in a minute or two it will look like this golden goodness:

Add additional milk if your sauce seems too thick.  You are looking for a nice, ribbon consistency (like cake batter).

Stir your tuna in and add salt and pepper to taste.  When you are happy with the consistency and seasoning add your peas (stir just to combine) and remove from the heat. 

Toast up some of your favorite bread; while your bread is toasting heat up your broiler.  Pour the mixture over the toasted bread and place under the oven broiler; remove it once those heavenly brown spots start showing up on your cheese mixture.

Remove and enjoy.

Week 38 Craft: Distressed Sled

Ah, Christmas.  The house smells like balsam (thanks to my Bath and Bodyworks plug-in), all the decorations are up…and new craft ideas call my name.  I thought I had my supply purchasing addiction under control until Michael's introduced their new email program.  A different sale every day?  How can I possibly resist?

This week's project comes from a great post by kristieshelton.com  These distressed terra-cotta pots look amazing, and the tutorial is very easy to follow.

Hope I'm giving the proper credit; I always try to link back to the original source, but sometimes that's not always easy.  Anyway…I ran across the balsa wood section at Michael's and thought I'd try these mod-podge transfers out.   Here are what my two projects turned out like:

Here's what you need:
Unfinished sleigh (found mine at Michael's on sale for $3.99)
White cutting board (Michael's again for $2.99)
Jingle Bells (Michael's one more time…what can I say…they had a great sale!)
Craft Paint
Mod Podge
Sprigs of faux greenery (I snagged a few from an existing garland)
Pinecones (snagged from a neighbor's yard)
Glue gun

1. Open a word document and type in your favorite Christmas sentiment in your favorite font.  For my project I used "Harrington" in a size 72.  Make sure you reverse the phrase before printing; I have a Mac, so I had to convert the document to a PDF and selected "preview", then "layout" and "flip horizontally".  

2. Cut our your letters.  Because mine were relatively simple (and because I wasn't placing them on a white background) I removed all the white around the lettering.  NOTE: because my letters were simple, and solid, I didn't worry about smearing.  If you have detail you wish to remain crisp DO NOT use a laser printer. 

smearing :(

3. Sand your wood.  This isn't totally necessary, but it seems like the balsa pieces are always rough.  It's also nice to knock off the sharp edges to help with the overall distressed look.  On the white cutting board you want to sand just to expose some of the raw wood.

4. Paint your wood.  I started with burnt umber on the sleds of the sleigh and then covered the whole piece in a taupe paint.  For the cutting board I used a dark green and once that dried used a very dry brush to apply some of the taupe over the green.
5. Once the paint is totally dry sand your sled (or cutting board) to give the piece a distressed look.  Think about where the most usage over time would show up (edges).  Don't worry, you will distress your lettering as well.  But, if you waited to do the sanding until after you applied your lettering the lettering would be sanded off before you got to the paint below.

6. Now it's time to modpodge your lettering in place.  Start by doing a dry run and decide where it will look best.  

Apply a layer of modpodge to the INK side of the lettering and press onto your sled (or cutting board).  Let this dry….COMPLETELY.  You will be tempted to start removing the paper layer, but if you don't wait 5-6 hours (even better to leave overnight) you will end up rubbing the ink right off.  And you will be sad.

7. Once COMPLETELY dry it's time to get the paper wet and CAREFULLY rub it off the wood.  Slow and steady wins the race here, and even then you will most likely remove some of the ink.  Lucky for you this project is all about looking distressed, so it's no problem.

8.  Time to let everything dry again!  

9. Once dry go back in with very fine sandpaper and distress the letters even more.  Expose some of the paint beneath.

10.  Now grab your favorite stain and cover your sled (or cutting board) with a thin coat.  Don't saturate the piece up like you normally would, use a small amount.  

You also don't want to leave it in place for a long time.  Like Daniel san in Karate Kid - wipe on, wipe off.  The stain further distresses the piece, softening the color of your paints, staining the raw wood, and adding overall a nice "depth" to your project.

11. Time for more drying.  This time you definitely want to wait overnight.  Ugh. 

12.  Polyurethane your project and guess what?!?!  More drying!  Don't skip this part; you want your project to last year after year.  Here's the sled ready for it's bling.

13.  Dealer's choice on this one.  I added greenery, some twine, bells and pinecones.  

14.  Time to stand back and admire your handiwork!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Just for Fun

Sorry, I've been busy building inventory for my Etsy shop for the holidays.  So....check this out just for a laugh: Epic Dog Beards 

And here's just a sweet picture:

And if you are looking for a gift for that special someone, check out my Etsy shop.  Here's a few of the new items I'm listing:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Week 37 Craft: Rustic Fabric Christmas Tree

OK, it's happening.  Halloween hasn't even passed and I've already moved on to the Christmas crafts.  Personally, I think Tim Burton got it right with Nightmare Before Christmas - just combine the two!

This week's craft was inspired by my need to seriously whittle down my stash pile.  Like most of you I buy fabric because I can't pass up the great price, or the great print, always with the best intentions of using it.  And like most of you the latest inspiration NEVER seems to fit with the fabrics on hand.  Sigh....So here is a project that will help clear up at least a little of that long forgotten pile of fabrics.  As a matter of fact, this gives you a chance to use up some of your ribbon and paint stash too.  The only thing I bought for this project was the peat pot.

What you need:
mini peat pots
acrylic paint (pick a color that coordinates with your fabric)
cotton fabric scraps
ribbon scraps
large upholstery needle
branch from one of your trees (or a small dowel or wilton lollipop stick)
glue gun

1. Separate you peat pots.  They break apart quite easily either by folding the seam back and forth, or by cutting with scissors.  I found mine at Home Depot.  I think I paid a whopping $3 for 50 of them.  50!!  You can make a whole forest of trees!  The top is 2" square, so these will be petite.

2.  Paint your pot(s).  You only need to paint the outside.  I chose burnt umber to keep with the rustic look of the fabrics I selected.

3. Sort through your stash and select at least five fabrics.  I decided to stick with greens, but these would be super cute in hot pinks and purples, or black and white, or whatever colors your heart desires.

4.  Cut out two squares of each color.  My largest is 3", then 2 1/2", 2", 1 3/4, 1 1/4" and 1".

5. Place your squares wrong sides together and using a 1/8" seam allowance sew all four sides.  Leave a small opening on one side for stuffing.

6.  Now it's time to distress the edges just like you would for a rag quilt.  Get your squares wet and wring them out.  Now is not the time for being gentle.  Really rub them around in your hands to help with the fraying.  Toss them in the dryer with a few rags and let them dry. I don't really think you needed photos for this part, but who doesn't love a "water action shot"?

7. Once dry, loosely stuff your squares.  Don't over do it; you just want a little dimension.  Sew the opening closed.

8.  Time to sharpen your stick/dowel/lolli.  Grab a knife and whittle it to a point.  Be careful!  I'm guessing you could use a pencil sharpener if you're worried about cutting a finger off.

9.  Grab your upholstery (tapestry?) needle and work it through the center of your largest square.  The large needle is to create an opening so the stick fits through easier.  Don't have an upholstery needle?  Use the tip of sharp pointed scissors.  Once you have a hole work your stick through.

10.  Work your way through the rest of the squares except for the smallest one.  With a glue gun, glue the final square on top instead of poking it through.  Trim your stick to your desired height.

11.  Drip a big bunch of glue from your glue gun into the bottom of your peat pot.  Place your stick into the glue and hold in place until it hardens.  I propped mine between two glasses so it would stay upright while the glue hardened.  While your tree doesn't have to be perfectly upright you do want it to stand on its own, so take some time to make sure it is balanced.

12. Grab a few small stones or some dirt to place in the peat pot to help with the balance.  Glue some moss on top to cover the stones/dirt.

13. Once the moss is in place add some ribbon to give the peat pot a little bling.

There you go!  These make the sweetest little trees; mine ended up at about 6 1/2".  They are so petite they would work as unique little place cards on your holiday table.  

I left space between my squares so the "trunk" showed more, but you could easily place the stuffed squares one on top of the other.  If you did it that way, you wouldn't even need the trunk - you could just glue the tiny pillows together and glue them on top of the peat pot.