Sunday, December 16, 2012

Painted Wooden Letters

Christmas is almost here!  Between attending parties, shopping for family members, making my own wish list and, of course, working, I found a little time to be creative!

I've been planning this project for a while.  I planned to have completed it when I decorated for Christmas (but I hadn't even ordered the wooden letters).  Several months ago, I stumbled upon this site on Pinterest.  It offers completely customizable wooden letters.  You're able to choose the font, height and thickness of the letters that you choose (price depending on height and thickness).

This is what the letters looked like when I received them (above).  It's tough to see in the photos, but the letters have a dark brown edge.  This is due to the thickness of the letters that I ordered.  The thinner letters are cut with a laser (which leaves the dark edge) while the thicker letters are cut with a computer controlled router (all of this information can be found on the website).

To paint the letters, I first painted a thin line of brown around the edge of each letter (this is much more obvious on "Joy" than "Noel" because of the size of the letters).  Then, I painted the entire letter with red or green (not the base red or green - I mixed paints to get the colors that I wanted).  On top of the red and green, I added bronze paint (not all over, just in a few key spots).

I glued the "Noel" letters together using E600 glue, but not the "Joy" letters (because they didn't fit well together).  I learned about E600 glue through a Michael's tutorial.  It's pretty good stuff.  If you haven't tried it, you should!

I hope you found this post inspiring and/or helpful!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Sunday, December 2, 2012

T-shirt Bag

Today was a busy day - church and then leading a team of teenagers to decorate the youth room.  The service was awesome as always (if you're in the Jupiter area, you really should check out Generation Church).  The cheesy Christmas theme in the youth room is complete (though I really wanted one of those old plastic yard figurines to complete my "design").  After dinner I tried making a peppermint chocolate chip milk shake, but we didn't have enough ice cream so it was really just peppermint chocolate chip milk (no shake).  And then, instead of watching the BCS Bowl Selections (because I already knew where Florida would play and who we would play), I decided to let my creative juices flow.

I went upstairs with no plan in mind and ended up with this cute little drawstring t-shirt bag.  I tried drawing on the first one that I made, but drawing on a t-shirt was much more difficult than I expected (I was thinking of writing a name and drawing some sort of small design - I probably could have made it work, but I gave up quickly in favor of the cute red flowers).

This was a pretty simple project.  

1.  Cut a rectangle from a t-shirt.
2.  Place string (could be any type of thick string - I didn't have any so I made my own with a black t-shirt) about half an inch from the top of the rectangle, fold the t-shirt over it and sew the folded piece down (so that the string is kind of inside of a tube).
3.  Fold the rectangle in half so that it's inside out and sew the bottom seam (if you're going to sew anything onto the front of the bag, you'll want to do it before starting step 4*).
4.  With the bag still inside out, sew the open side shut.
5.  Turn the bag ride side out, test your drawstring to make sure it works, and you're done!

* To make the flowers, I cut the flower from a small a piece of felt (freehand) and cut a small dot from a black t-shirt for the center.  I sewed them onto the bag by making a small "X" in the center of each flower.

These bags could be made in lots of colors and sizes and could be used for gift-giving, storage, decorating and many other things!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sights of Christmas

I put up my Christmas decorations yesterday.  I took some photos today so I figured I'd share them.

Find the tutorial for this cute felt and burlap ornament here.

My mom is the queen of bow-making.  I decided to give it a try and think that it turned out pretty well.

It wouldn't be me if it didn't include the Gators!

Trying something new...

This is the centerpiece on our dining table.

I thought the reflection of the tree in the china cabinet was really pretty!

I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Felt and Burlap Star Ornament

I haven't put my Christmas tree up yet so I decided to photograph this cute little ornament on our (fake) palm tree!  After all, we do live in South Florida.  Maybe I should just decorate the fake palm tree (probably not, but it's worth a thought). (Edit - I have since put up the Christmas Tree, and I took new photos of the ornament on the Christmas tree.  I deleted the photo taken on the palm).

This ornament was super simple, and it only took a few minutes to make it (good thing because I haven't even had time to make a second one).  Finally, it's Thanksgiving break, and I have time to write this post!

I searched Google and found a basic star pattern here.  I was afraid that it wouldn't be sized the way that I wanted it, but it printed in the perfect size.

I used the pattern to cut a star out of red felt and and a star out of burlap.  I kind of pulled on the edges of the burlap to give it a frayed look.  I placed the burlap star on top of the felt star (in a perfectly imperfect way) and then used my sewing machine to sew them together.  I sewed a piece of thread onto it to make the hanger (I did this part by hand).  I actually would have preferred to use a thin strip of ribbon for the hanger, but I didn't have any.

Edit - I eventually made 6 of these ornaments.  They were easy to make and will also be easy to store!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Straight Leg to Skinny

I ordered these cords online at Ann Taylor.  First I accidentally ordered regular instead of petite.  Not only were they too long, but they didn't fit.  So, I exchanged them for petite.  The petites fit better, but they were kind of strangely shaped (the photo doesn't show how weird they actually looked on me).  I considered returning them, but I really liked the fit, fabric and color.

Changing the size of the leg on a pair of pants really only requires sewing one seam.  Most pants have a single seam on one side and a double seam on the other side.  On this pair, the single seam was on the outside so I took them in on the outside.  I turned the pants inside out and used a pair of skinny jeans that I like to mark my sewing line.

I took out the seam on the bottom of the pants (only near the new seam) so that I would be able to turn the hem back under after I sewed the new seam.  I sewed along my line and then sewed the hem back into place.

This only took a few minutes, and I'm really happy with the result!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Apple Cider Caramels

I stumbled upon these Apple Cider Caramels from Handle the Heat on Pinterest a few weeks ago when I made my Apple Cider Cupcakes .   I had leftover Apple Cider so I pinned the recipe, hoping that I would find time to make the caramels before the Apple Cider went out of date. 

My school was closed today for a hurricane day (which doesn't exactly make it feel like fall) so I decided to try the caramels (which did make my house smell like fall).

The recipe call for a candy thermometer, which I've learned can be pretty useful.  I took out my candy thermometer and it didn't work (my first thought was that it had something to do with the fact that I dropped in fudge last winter).  It turned out that the battery was dead, and we happened to have another one (surprising since it was a tiny size A13 battery and not a size that we would typically keep in the house).

Note:  The recipe says to heat the sugar and corn syrup to 234 degrees, which I did.  It also says to heat the final mixture to 250 degrees, but I couldn't get it that hot.  It was thickening up and making "caramel" on my spoon rest so I eventually just went with it.

My other issue was that I didn't have parchment paper so I used wax paper (I should have used aluminum foil as the recipe suggests).  The paper stuck to the caramels and I had to scrape it off before cutting them.  I haven't tried wrapping the pieces in wax paper as suggested yet.  I'm afraid that it will stick, but I do plan to try it. (Note:  I did end up wrapping the pieces in wax paper, and it worked very well!)

Apple Cider Caramels Recipe


2 cups apple cider
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Pinch nutmeg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed


In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cider to a simmer and heat until it is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 35 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Butter or spray parchment with nonstick cooking spray. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl combine the heavy cream, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and reduced cider. Set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan combine the sugar and corn syrup. Set over lower heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolved. Simmer the sugar mixture until a candy thermometer registers 234°F.

Remove mixture from heat, remove thermometer, and slowly and carefully whisk in the cream mixture (mixture may foam and splatter, you may want to wear oven mitts - you definitely want to wear oven mitts and add the mixture very slowly). Add the cubed butter and stir until the butter is melted and incorporated. Return the pan to the heat and cook over lower heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thickened and sticky and the candy thermometer registers 250°F.

Remove the caramel from the heat and pour into the prepared pan (again, you may want to wear oven mitts). Let the mixture cool to room temperature or refrigerate until set. Once set, remove caramel from pan and cut into 3/4-inch squares. Wrap each piece in wax paper, twisting each end. Store caramels in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Follow me on Pinterest!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Turtleneck to V-neck

Turtlenecks are one clothing item that I really dislike.  I'm sure they serve a purpose in cold weather, but cold weather is rare in South Florida. I purchased this one at Gap Outlet (even though I didn't like the fit or the fact that it's a turtleneck) because it was cheap and I really liked the color.  Since I don't have the opportunity to wear sweaters often, there's no reason to spend a lot of money on them.  I know I won't wear it with the turtleneck so I came up with the idea to turn it into a v-neck.  Remember, I'm relatively new at sewing (and completely self taught) so I'm sure that I don't really sew things the conventional way.  However, I think that this was a great idea (and it worked)!

Note:  The actual color is closer to the first photo - the lighting isn't correct in the ones below (I probably should have used the flash).

I began by using a v-neck sweater that I like to draw a pattern.  This helped but was not perfect because the neckline of the turtleneck was way bigger than the neckline of my favorite sweater.

I put a piece of paper inside my favorite sweater and traced a pattern.  I cut out the pattern and cut the turtleneck off of the sweater I was re-purposing, then used the pattern to cut the v in the new sweater.

I measured to make sure the v was centered and then cut it out.  As you can see, the neckline of my brown sweater was smaller so I had to make adjustments.  The neckline on the blue sweater ended up being a little bit bigger than I would have liked.  I used strips from the turtleneck to create the edging around the neck.

The first strip that I cut was perfect because it had the finished edge.  I used that piece for the front.  I cut the next piece twice as wide, folded it, ironed and sewed it so that it would also have a "finished" edge (I considered leaving the raw edge showing but didn't like the way that it looked).  To make the v in the front, I laid the two front pieces on top of each other and sewed them at an angle (the angle will depend on the angle of the v on your sweater).  I also sewed the pieces of the collar together, then sewed the collar onto the sweater.

It's not perfect, but there is a much greater chance that I will wear it now than before, that is, when it cools off a little.  I was sweating while trying to take photos of myself wearing the sweater (inside - with the AC on)!!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Door Hanging

On Sunday I challenged myself to create a fall door hanging using supplies that I already had.  I gave myself a time limit of about an hour, but this actually only took about 10 minutes.  I began by grabbing all of the "fall worthy" supplies that I could find.

I knew that I wanted to start with a burlap base, but I didn't quite know how I would create that base.  I began by cutting a strip of burlap that was about 4 inches wide.  I then rolled it into a tube and secured it with hot glue.  Once that was done, I kind of twisted, looped, tied and glued it(I know that makes no sense, check out the photo below).

I glued some small potpourri pumpkins, small pine cones and a fall leaf inside the loop.  Then I tied some ribbon around it, and I was done.  This was a very quick and easy project!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Slow Cooker Roast Beef Au Jus

We've been really busy on weeknights lately, which means that I haven't had much time to cook.  Last week I decided to plan early so that we would have food for the rest of the week.  Gabe wanted Roast Beef with an Au Jus sauce.  I looked up some recipes but eventually decided to create my own version.

I served the beef with mashed potatoes and biscuits.  Gabe really liked it (I liked it too, but I was happy to have his approval).

Roast Beef
Sweet Onion
Garlic (two cloves)
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Black Peppercorn
Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce

Slice sweet onion into rings and smash garlic cloves.  Place both in the slow cooker.  Add water, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix the spices (one to one ratio) and rub onto the beef.  Place the beef in the slow cooker and cook on low for about 10 hours.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Apple Cider Cupcakes

It's fall - though it's actually unrecognizable in South Florida!  It's 85 degrees outside rather than 95 degrees and most Floridians will accept that as reprieve.  Everyone is talking about Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and Apple Pie and decorating their homes with the colors of autumn leaves (though the autumn leaves, and winter leaves for that matter, are green here).  I decided to get in on "fall" by making Apple Cider Cupcakes!

These Apple Cider Cupcakes are filled with Apple Butter and frosted with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting.  I thought the Apple Butter would be tough to find, but after I didn't find it at Publix, I decided to try Carmine's Gourmet Market (in Palm Beach Gardens, FL).  Carmine's was the right choice, they had several kinds of Apple Butter, and it was easy to find.

I had never made "filled" cupcakes and thought it might be tough, but it was actually pretty simple.  I used a round piping tip and a Ziploc Freezer Bag.  Stick the tip in the cupcake, squeeze and you're done (just be sure to stick the tip in the cupcake before squeezing).  I only put a little bit of Apple Butter in the cupcakes.  Of course you could choose to use more or less depending on your preference.

These cupcakes were frosted with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting!

Recipe from Lehigh Valley Live


2 eggs, room temperature
1 2/3 cup flour
1 cup apple cider
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
apple butter

1/4 cup light brown sugar
10 tablespoon butter, divided
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Cupcake Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line 12 cupcake wells. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, then 1/2 of the cider, and repeat, ending with the last of the flour and mixing only until incorporated. Pour into prepared cupcake pan, filling each cup 3/4 way full. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool thoroughly, inject with apple butter in the center of the cupcake, then frost.

Frosting Directions:
1. Melt brown sugar and 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat; remove from heat. Whisk in cream; blend well. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl. Cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally. 2. Place remaining 6 tablespoons butter and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla and salt. With mixer running, slowly pour in cooled brown sugar mixture; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually, beating well after each addition until completely smooth. Chill slightly for a firmer texture, stirring occasionally.

Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Christmas Wreath

I have finally completed the wreath that I have been talking about!  I didn't buy enough ribbon originally and couldn't finish it until I had time to buy more.  I'm really happy with how it turned out.  I know that Christmas is still several months away, but I wanted to do this while I had time.  

Check my previous posts for the tutorials for the burlap roses and the felt poinsettias.  

- Glue gun/glue
- Styrofoam wreath
- Ribbon (about 14 yds of 7/8 in.)
- Decorative rope
- Felt poinsettias
- Burlap Roses

1.  Begin by gluing the end of the first piece of ribbon to the Styrofoam wreath.  Then wrap the ribbon around the wreath.  You will need to pull it tight but shouldn't have to glue again until you reach the end (try to keep all seams on the back of the wreath).  If you use a second color of ribbon, you will want to wrap it after the main ribbon so that it looks like it's wrapped on top.
2.  Wrap the decorative rope in a few spots.  I used it on top of the silver ribbon and around the flowers (attach the flowers before wrapping the rope in that area so that you can use it to fill in the blank spaces).
3.  Arrange the flowers and attach them with glue.
4.  Use a small piece of the rope to make a hanger (glue it onto the back of the wreath).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Burlap Roses

A few days ago I mentioned a wreath that I am making using Burlap Roses and Felt Poinsettias.  I have wanted to make the burlap flowers for several months, ever since I saw this burlap bouquet on Pinterest.  I thought it was gorgeous, and then I saw a wreath with burlap flowers on Etsy (I would add the link, but the item is no longer available - you can find the photo Pinterest account).  I tried following the Snugasabugbaby tutorial, but for some reason, it wasn't working the way it should have (in other words, I was doing it wrong).  Instead of continuing to to struggle with that method, I decided to try something that I had seen on TLC's Craft Wars, where the contestant created roses by twisting and gluing one of the challenge materials (at this point I don't remember what the material was).  It worked!


Pearl Beads
Glue Gun/Glue


1.  Cut strip of burlap the length of the fabric (1-3 inches wide, depending on the size of the flower you want).
2.  Slide a bead onto the wire and fold the wire in half around the bead.  Twist the two pieces of wire together.
3.  Glue the end of the burlap strip to the wire.  Then, wrap it a few more times and secure with glue.
4.  Now begin to wrap the burlap in the opposite direction, twisting as you go.  You will need to secure with glue every few twists.
5.  Continue wrapping and twisting until you are almost out of fabric.  As you glue the last twist, pull the end of the fabric to the underside of the flower and glue it down.