Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Let them eat cake

Chocolate sour cream birthday cake, to be presise! One word for you, “Yum!”

If you want to make this scrumptious cake you will need
-1 small box of chocolate pudding
- 1 box of chocolate cake mix
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup oil
- 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two nine inch pans. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl on low for one minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue mixing on low for two more minutes. Pour batter into pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Frost as desired. Since I made this cake for my mother-in-law’s birthday, I went with her favorite (and Brad’s too) chocolate on chocolate!
I tried this tip to keep the cake plate neat. Lay two sheets of waxed paper on the plate.
Place the cake on the paper and frost. Grap the edge of each sheet of paper and quickly pull. Ta-Da! No frosting mess on the edge of the cake plate.
Do you have any great cake tips? Please share!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Stuff on the fridge

It’s time for a little DIY Day spring cleaning! This post is for anyone who has ever had a hard time finding the fridge under the mound of papers and magnets.

Exhibit A. Clearly, I had a bit of a problem.
Exhibit B. Yep. The problem wraps around the side of the fridge.
I’m aware that it’s terribly uncool and a big decorating no-no to stick things on the fridge, but I don’t care. I’m a real person and I like keeping photos, notes, and invitations in plain sight. The fridge reminds me to pray for my missionary friends, RSVP for an upcoming wedding, and smile at my cute little cousins. However, things had gotten a bit out of control. Plus, I’m pretty sure Brad and I are too old for Family Guy magnets.

So, I pulled everything off the fridge and made three piles: magnets, keep, and toss.
Next, I cut up my old magnets into circles, big squares, and little squares.
I cut the same shapes out of pretty scrapbook paper.
I used a brush to apply Mod Podge to the back of the paper and the front of the magnet. After fifteen minutes, I applied a top coat. Fifteen minutes after that, my fridge looked like this:
I feel like the de-cluttered look is much easier on the eyes! Is it crazy that part of me wants to scan all those photo cards and print them out in black and white on photo paper?
Still, I think this is waaaay better!
Do you have an area in need of a mini spring cleaning? Any tips for keeping the fridge from paper overflow?


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!
I think I’m generally a happy person, but there are seasons of discouragement in my life. The economy has hit the school systems hard, and it is discouraging to know that Brad and I will both take home smaller paychecks next year. We feel discouraged in our search for strong friendships with other couples in our area. Some days I’m even discouraged by silly things like blog inferiority complex. There are so many little things that can cause me to skip a beat in a normally joyful life.
I was thinking this morning about finding hope in the midst of disappointment and discouragement. On the very first Palm Sunday, after watching and waiting for ancient prophesies to be fulfilled, a people in the midst of discouragement far greater than anything I will ever know, saw hope show up – riding on a donkey. Not a king on a white horse or a soldier in a chariot but an ordinary looking man on a donkey. And they sang and rejoiced and laid branches at his feet. They didn’t even know how the story would turn out, but still they praised.
Here I am, over 2000 years later. I know how that week plays out. I know the victory of the empty tomb. So today, I remember that even my gloomy days should be like Palm Sunday. Every day, I should pick up my palm branch and shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who was and is and is to come!” Because hope showed up and saved the day, and He has been saving it ever since.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Good Read

Have you ever read a book so good you just had to tell everyone you know to go out and read it? Well, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is that kind of book. Set right after WWII and written in letters, it tells the story of Juliet, a new author who had a good deal of success with her first book but is terribly stuck when it comes to writing a second. A letter from a stranger introduces her to the people of Guernsey, a small Island in the English Channel. As she learns more about the Island, its literary society, and its struggles under the occupation of the Germans during the war, she knows she has found the subject of her next book. As Juliet comes to love the people of Guernsey, so will readers. Their quirks, love of books, and inventive spirit make for a highly entertaining read that is sprinkled with humor and a dash of romance. If you love Jane Austen, the Mitford books, or Garrison Keillor, you will find something to love about this book. Click here if you’d like to read an excerpt, but I have to warn you, you are likely to get hooked!

What’s the best book you’ve read lately? I’d love to add some new titles to my reading list!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Off the Cuff

I guess it’s not a secret that I’m a tad infatuated with ruffles. But, did you also know that I have a crush on ruffle’s older cousin, the pleat? I think pleats are just a bit more dignified, but still plenty of fun. Of course, being more mature, pleats are also more intimidating. Ruffles take hardly any skill to create, but pleats require a little precision. Still, I was dying to try them, so I decided to start with a small project, a simple, pleated cuff bracelet.

I’ve hardly taken the thing off for three days, so I think I’ll call it a success! To make one you need fabric (about a yard in length and an inch or so wide. Treat cut edges with stop fray or clear nail polish), elastic, and felt or a little extra fabric.
Start by creating your base. You want this to be thinner than your pleats and just barely too short to wrap all the way around your wrist. I would suggest making this from felt or a heavy fabric. If you would like to waste an hour of your life, you can do what I did and make a skinny fabric tube instead. Sewing the tube was easy, turning it right side out made me want to cry, bang my head on something, and laugh – all at the same time. It would have been much easier to just use a strip of heavy fabric.
Once you have your base, pin your long strip of fabric to one end. Pin and pleat until you reach the end of the base.

Sew right down the middle of the pinned pleats. I opted to use thread in a contrasting color.
Cut a strip of elastic about two centimeters long and use a zig zag stitch to sew to the wrong side of each end of the cuff.
Stretch over your wrist and enjoy! I’m linking this to DIY Day at Kimba’s :-)


Monday, March 22, 2010

ruffle it up

With spring in the air, DIY Day felt like the perfect time for a little wardrobe update. A little time at the sewing machine took this shirt from winter ehhh…

… to spring ahhhh!

My first step was to cut off the sleeves and the Henley neckline. That left me with this,
Next, I took in the shirt under the arms, and sewed up the front.
Then, it was time for some ruffles! I used the red stripes from the sleeves to make ruffles for the tuxedo front and neckline. I good rule of thumb is to cut the fabric twice as long as the desired ruffle. I set the sewing machine to a long stitch, and sewed straight down the middle of the fabric, without backstitching. Then, I just pulled the bottom thread to ruffle. To finish the shirt, I pinned the ruffles in place and sewed them on. This project was a little bit time consuming, but super easy!
If, like me, you’ve been admiring all the ruffle projects around blogland, jump in and try it!
I’m so glad I just went for it, even without knowing exactly what I was doing. You can do it too!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

After a Fashion

Well, I promised you pictures of my skirt redo in action – so here ya go! First off, I would like to explain that Brad took these photos while talking on the phone. Let’s just say they are not the greatest ever.
I paired my skirt with a baby blue tee I’ve had forever. I threw on a white sweater from h&m because it’s still chilly outside. I think my face says, “Did you take the picture?”
I added a brown belt to break up all the blue. I did not wear the brown heels to work all day, but they are pretty cute with this skirt. Painful, but cute! This face says, “What is going on?”
I’ll leave you with a slightly grainy close up of the skirt. After wearing it all day, I have to say that it’s very comfy and I even got a few complements from some coworkers.

So, if you’re thinking of tackling a skirt refashion, I say, “Go for it!” and also, “Is the weekend here yet?”


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Skirting the Issue

Wanna know how I turned a too big sheath dress,
into a punchy pencil skirt?
Good, because I’m going to show you. Note: real seamstresses, avert your eyes!

Normally, I wouldn’t attempt to create any kind of skirt not involving elastic, but because the dress was made from a stretchy cotton blend and had a zipper up the back, I figured I could try for something more fitted. Plus, I found the dress for about a buck at Goodwill, so if the skirt turned out to be a train wreck, I wouldn’t have to cry about it!

Step 1: Lower the zipper, turn the dress inside out, and ransack your closet for a skirt to use as a pattern.
Step 2: Lay the skirt over the dress. Cut the top off of the dress where you want the waist of the skirt to be, leaving an extra inch or so for a seam allowance. Measure about ¼ of an inch out from the edge of your pattern skirt and pin.

Step 3. Sew up the sides. Try the skirt on. If it fits, go ahead and trim off some of the excess fabric from the side seams.
Step 4. Fold the waist of the skirt over twice, pin, and sew.

Notice, I didn’t do anything special to the zipper. I probably should have done something special, but I didn’t know what. I just cut off the top of the zipper flush with the waist of the skirt. The folded waist band seems to be keeping the zipper from zipping right off the skirt, so I’m OK with it.

Step 5. If you have a serger, go ahead and serge those side seams to keep them from unraveling. I don’t have one, so I just did a zig zag stitch right next to the raggedy edge of the fabric.
I LOVE this fabric so much, and the skirt is very girly and fun to wear. Check back Friday if you want to see what it looks like on an actual person!


Monday, March 15, 2010

You can bank on it

I hope you’re in the mood for a little DIY day copycat action! On a recent visit to a well-known home décor “Barn” I spotted some fun antique inspired banker’s boxes. I loved them, but I knew I could make something similar for much less.

That’s how this old band aid box...

became this swanky faux banker’s box. . .
Here’s how! First, I used my trusty Rustoleum to give the box a coat of spray primer and a coat of matte nickel.
After that had a chance to dry, I mixed a tiny smidge of brown acrylic paint into a blob of black acrylic paint. I dabbed a foam brush in the paint and blotted it until only a tiny bit of paint remained on the brush. I wiped this on the box with big up and down strokes until I liked the look.
Once I had the patina I wanted, I used a tiny brush and some white paint to freehand the “No 1.” If you have a white paint pen, I highly recommend using it for this kind of thing, because my less than steady hand + perfectionism nearly ruined this project. I painted the “n” just fine, but the “1” kept getting fatter and fatter. It didn’t look right, so I tried to cover it up with some extra black paint. Of course, that looked weird too, and I ended up wiping all the paint off and starting over again. For the sake of what little sanity I have, I probably should not try to freehand anything else in the near future!
I do love how it turned out!
What should I keep in here? Secret treasure? Chocolate kisses? Love notes? Hey, Brad! I need you to write me some love notes!
What would you keep in your nifty little bank box?


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Easter Parade

Last week I showed y’all how I made some super easy vintage-looking eggs for Easter. This afternoon, I added a smidge more Easter décor to the roost when I dug out a few extra little decorations, this time with more sentimental meaning. I grouped them all together to create this sunny scene.

Don’t you just love this vintage basket? My mom gave it to me last year with the sweet bobble head chick.
My mom made the vintage-looking Easter eggs. I really like the muted, antiqued colors.
She also made the bunny. I just love his serious face! He’s made of tea-dyed flannel and is super soft.
When I was little, I used to make stuffed carrots like these so I’d have something to sell in my parents’ booth at craft shows. I just turned them inside out and stuffed them, but I felt like I was really “making” something.
I like how all the items in this vignette have fun memories attached to them. Decorating is always so much more interesting when stories are involved!

Just for fun – what’s your favorite Easter animal? Fluffy chicks or furry bunnies?