Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Frame Job"

When we moved into our house, we painted everything and I mean EVERYTHING!  So, by the time we were nearly finished, we were so sick of painting that we hired out some of the final work.  One of those jobs was the hallway.  Two ladies came in and painted some closets and the hallways, and clearly they didn't remove the thermostat before painting, they just painted around it.  A few months later, when we upgraded our furnace, we also upgraded our thermostat.  As you can see, the old one was round and the new one was a rectangle - thus the illustrious marks on the wall.

A few months ago, I saw a photo of someone's thermostat and it had a frame around it, and while I'm sure they did it merely for aesthetics, I wanted to do it to cover up the huge flaw on my wall.  I never could find a frame that suited my needs (or my budget - I wasn't spending big $$$ on a frame for my thermostat, no matter how much I needed it), so when I stumbled upon a cheap wooden frame at Michael's I was thrilled.  I had every intention of painting the frame, but ultimately decided I liked the natural wood appeal.  So, below is a picture of the thermostat sans frame.......

And above, is the thermostat with the frame.  Using cardboard, I created a mat and covered it with a neutral fabric and then hot-glued the mat to the frame.  Personally, I think it dresses up the thermostat, and hides the ugliness of the former one quite nicely!  And the best part?  (besides the fact that my wall is significantly improved) it cost all of $1.99.

I'm linked up here:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Soda Cake FAIL!

The internet and Pinterest are replete with recipes for soda pop cakes.  The directions are simple.  Take one can of soda (any flavor, diet or regular) and add it to one cake mix.  That's it.  The photos show gorgeous, fluffy cakes that look as if they could melt in your mouth.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong!

Last Wednesday, when my sister and I decided upon an impromptu joint-family dinner before church, I was determined to whip up one of these delightful, two ingredient cakes to lavish on my family.  They would be so impressed and in awe of my culinary abilities that once they found out it was two ingredients, they would rush home to make their own decadent cakes.

I quickly decided that Coke and chocolate cake would be the most palatable concoction so I mixed it together, excited for the outcome.  I followed the directions perfectly.  In a mixing bowl, combine one can of soda pop with one cake mix.  *Do not add egg, oil or water.  Pour soda SLOWLY to avoid too much fizz.  Whisk ingredients together.  And there was a note....."this mix will be thicker than a regular cake mix." That sentence right there should have been the big red flag signaling my embarkation on disaster.   My cake was not only NOT thicker than usual, it was thinner - a lot thinner!  Not to be dissuaded however, I persevered.  I poured the cake mix into my lightly greased 9x13 pan, and slid it into my perfectly, pre-heated 350 degree oven.  I set the timer for 35 minutes, the exact time it should take to bake, and went about my business.

When the timer went off, I returned to the oven, the smell of chocolate cake hanging lightly in the air, and I opened the door to peek in on my masterpiece.  What the?!  Are you kidding me?  My "cake" if you could even call it that, looked more like a giant oil slick at the Indy 500, with bits of rubber floating on the top.  Either that, or a big, brown Earth with sludgy oceans and continents showing no life whatsoever.


I instantly decided, despite the instructions, that I hadn't cooked it long enough, so I returned it to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.  Then 5 more minutes.  Then I quit!

I tipped the pan sideways so you could really see just how liquid it was.  To be honest, I STILL have no idea what I did wrong.  I didn't know you could mess up a TWO ingredient cake.  I figured, even with my limited cooking abilities, I could handle mixing TWO ingredients together to produce a satisfactory product. Ugh!

Ultimately, I scratched the whole thing, whipped up another chocolate cake mix, this time WITH eggs, oil and water and voila!  Whaddya know?!  It produced a gorgeous, chocolate cake that sprang back at the touch and sat majestically in the pan, awaiting my homemade chocolate, buttercream frosting.

Whew!  Crisis averted.  And lesson learned.  The moral of the story is, at least for me anyhow, when baking a cake, don't try to get tricky, cut corners or leave things out.  Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines KNOW what they're doing - don't mess with them!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Repurposing a Tee-Shirt!

After repurposing tee-shirts into bags at co-op this morning, I was inspired to create yet another draw-string bag for each of the girls.  Using a couple of tees that Cayla had outgrown, I made the first bag for Cayla.  Tutorials aren't really my gift, but I tried to include a lot of pictures and will try to explain the steps - I know how I LOVE a basic tutorial when I'm ready to make something, so I assume there are others out there just like me!

This tee had a ruffle at the bottom, so I immediately cut that off with the intention of using it later for the draw strings - but we'll get to that.

I then cut off the top of the tee, right underneath the arms - this way you're not dealing with the neckline and odd proportions from the sleeves.

Once you've cut off the top and bottom of the tee shirt, you should be left with something like this - a big tube of fabric.

I turned my tube inside out, so the flowers were on the inside, and then I rolled  the fabric down a little to make a casing.  I have no clue how big this casing is because I never measure anything.  I then stitched all the way around the turned-down part of the casing, so in essence, I have a little hem at the top.  I always like the hem to be 'crisp' so I create another stitch at the top of the hem.

If you click on this photo and enlarge it, you will see that I have two stitch lines at the top around the casing.  The stitching at the very top is not necessary, it's just what I prefer.  Anyhow, after making the casing, flip your fabric around and sew the bottom of the bag closed.  I usually use a zig-zag stitch here and I go over it twice to reinforce it.

These little pieces are from that ruffle that I cut off at the beginning.  You can use ribbon or  new shoe laces or anything you want for your draw string, but I was experimenting with the same fabric as the bag just to see how it would turn out.  I basically just took the ruffle and cut two long strips.  Your draw string needs to be the width of your casing (width of your bag) DOUBLED, plus a little more to tie off.

Once you have your draw string ready, place a safety pin on it to ease in threading it through the casing.  Slip the safety pin through the hole in your casing (if you forgot to leave a hole in the casing, no big deal - it's jersey knit - just go back and cut a tiny one, I promise, it won't matter with this fabric and no one will notice).

Here is my first drawstring - I ran it through the hole on one side of the casing/bag, and continued all the way around the casing until it came out the SAME side.  Now take your other draw string, attach the safety pin and run it through the other hole.  Be sure to go all the way around your casing and come out the hole where you started this string.  Now you have a double draw string.

Here are my drawstrings after they've both been run through the casing.  The one on the left started in the left casing hole and came out the left casing hole.  The one on the right started in the right casing hole and came out the right casing hole.  Trust me, it's easier than it sounds.  I mean, you have seen a draw string bag before so I'm sure you get it.  (You can also have a single drawstring by running one string through the casing and leaving it at that - but I like a double one because then you can firmly grasp a side with both hands and really yank it closed.)

Once the strings are in place, tie a knot in the ends of each set of  strings to prevent them from slipping back into the holes in the casing.

That's it!  The instructions make it seem a lot more complicated than it is - but trust me, it's simple.  I basically learned to do it by just trial and error.

I decided I didn't care for the draw strings made of the tee shirt fabric because knit has a propensity to roll up and this one chose to roll the WRONG way, so it looks like I used white draw strings instead of matching ones.

Autumn's bag is the exact same style and size however hers has drawstrings made from coordinating pink and blue gross grain ribbon.

I have made countless draw string bags and they're ideal for just about everything - but mostly my kids love them because they have an extreme fondness for bags, just like their mom :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comic Relief!

Because my stress level is nearing maximum capacity.....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Paper Roses!

Last night I selected a free 'on demand' movie and set out to make some enduring Valentine's roses.  They're fairly simple to make, but I won't lie, they're a bit time consuming.  I started with red construction paper that I cut into a circle.  I then cut the paper in a swirl fashion so I'd end up with a long, curly, strip of paper.  After that, I wound the paper around a pen to form the rose shape.

Once the rose was formed, I removed it from the pen and then slightly released it so it would open up.  Then I flipped it over and hot glued it on the bottom so it would retain its shape.  The roses were cute enough, but they needed a little something more (I say that a lot).  Glitter!  Yep, I hate to work with it, but I LOVE the way it looks.  So I spread a little Mod Podge over the tips of each 'petal' and dipped the head in red glitter.  

This morning, once they were dry, I sprayed some clear sealer on the roses so the glitter wouldn't flake off all over the place.  And there you have it.  I only made 10 and I wish I'd made a couple dozen more, but they were so time consuming that's all I could turn out.  Maybe another day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tiny Heart Banner!

I saw a super cute heart banner on Pinterest.  It was made using a heart-shaped craft punch to cut hearts from paint samples, and then strung together with thread.  I pinned it, but didn't figure I'd make it since I didn't have a heart punch.  Then, upon opening my craft cabinet it was sitting right there......the Martha Stewart Heart Punch my sister had included in my Christmas gift.  It was a glorious moment indeed as I realized a plethora of Valentine's crafts had just been opened up to me.

I began by gathering my supplies; craft punch, mod-podge and a variety of V-Day appropriate scrapbook paper.

Since my scrapbook paper wasn't double sided, I cut  two hearts out of each paper pattern and mod-podged them together so the banner wouldn't 'have' to be hung against a wall - if it were hung in the middle of the room, the hearts would have a print on both sides :)

Not being very ingenious, I hung it against a wall :)

Here's a close-up of a few of the hearts.  I actually mod-podged the fronts and backs once they were stuck together, just to make them a little sturdier.  I love that the craft punch had a pattern in it instead of being a solid heart.  It made it easy to thread a sheer ribbon in between the holes of the hearts.  The ribbon was just tight enough that I could slide the hearts exactly where I wanted them and they stayed put.  I think my ribbon was 3/8" but don't quote me on it - I'm bad with measurements :)

The best part about this project was it was not only quick, but it was made with supplies I had on hand.

Happy "Heart" Day!