Please pardon my prolonged absence! March has been flying by for me. My husband, an engineer, has been working turnaround at his plant. For those of you who haven’t grown up around engineers, turnaround is basically a time where the plant shuts down and the engineers have to work 24/7. He is home and awake for about an hour or two every day.
This has left all the cooking, cleaning, and household duties to yours truly. And…if you know me, you know I don’t cook. I don’t really know how to cook honestly, so this month has been interesting for me because as a good wife I need to put food on the table for him to eat every night after a long day at work! Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve been able to find some recipes that even someone as kitchen-challenged as me can handle.
So, to sum up what I’ve been neglecting to blog about in March, here we go in photo form.
This was the first dinner I attempted. Probably not the best idea. It was a good recipe and I allllllmost pulled it off, but I have no experience baking chicken. I left it in there for the amount of time the recipe called for, but I apparently over-cooked the chicken. The crust was still totally yummy, but the chicken itself was really tough.
This recipe was great. I’ve never made soup before (did I mention I’ve never made like…anything before?) So getting the flour base down and all that was a challenge. But the soup turned out great. I even heated a couple frozen pretzel rolls to go with it. Success!
I am also taking a beginner’s sewing class this month. It’s been very interesting, and not nearly as intuitive as I thought it would be. This is the pattern I’ve started out with. I had no idea it had so many pleats…and pockets…I’m still working on it. I have all sorts of dreams of making purses, dresses, etc. etc…
I’ve also been really obsessed with coral lately. I got coral shorts, two coral tops, a pair of coral shoes, and finally this light coral polish from Essie. It’s going to be all the rage this spring/summer I swear (I hope). See my coral treasury:
This was big-time for me. Chicken lasagna! The recipe was actually not too difficult, just very time-consuming. I used a grocery store rotisserie chicken for it. I also did not use any of the low-fat versions of the 270 cheeses that went into this recipe, I went with the real deal. But the husband loved it! I will admit, I was pretty impressed with myself for pulling it off haha.
For some reason I’ve always been in love with the idea of pasta salad. Plus, a couple days after I made chicken lasagna, I thought a pasta salad would be nice and easy to make. I didn’t realize it’d take me an hour just to chop up all the dang veggies. Also, I seem to have no concept of how much food a recipe makes in the end, so we ended up with about 2 pounds of pasta salad. Luckily, it turned out to be pretty good.
Omg, the weekend after my husband’s birthday, I made him this oreo peanut butter pie. It was seriously SO GOOD. And easy enough for me to handle. This was the first time I’ve ever made a homemade oreo crust, which was basically just melted butter and crumbled up oreos. I’m pretty sure I’d like a pie that’s just all oreo crust. That was the best part…
I also bought my tickets to the Hunger Games yesterday; we are going on Saturday. Super pumped! I will admit to buying a few of the Capital Couture nail polishes as well…I’m hoping they come in before the movie.
Last night I attempted chicken, mushroom, and spinach quesadillas. Everything went fine until I put the finished creation into the skillet and attempted to flip it with a spatula. Disaster!! I cannot flip quesadillas. Most of the filling ended up on top of the tortilla. But it still tasted good!
Today I’m tackling sloppy joes! So as you can see, I’ve been keeping busy, and it’s been all good. I’ve really enjoyed the feelings of creating and providing. It feels good to take care of someone (and myself). What have you been up to this month?
I get dressed and accessorized in my bathroom. The problem is, all my jewelry holders and boxes are on the dresser in my bedroom…not exactly a long walk away, but my favorite pieces of jewelry tend to wind up on my bathroom counter, so while getting ready I usually just pick up whatever is around in the bathroom. Thus, I frequently neglect all the fun jewelry that’s sitting in the jewelry holders in the bedroom nearby.
I liked the idea of this antique rake jewelry holder because I can utilize the limited wallspace in my bathroom to hang some more jewelry in there, and then I’ll be more likely to wear more of what I own, since it’ll be right there in my face!
I didn’t have any cool antique rake heads lying around, so I decided to buy myself some since I liked this idea so much. I found not one, but two awesome rake heads for sale on Etsy at thejunkman.
After bothering my handy husband to attach them to the wall, I went to town hanging all my necklaces. Here’s the final result (I apologize for the awful shadows):
The silver single pearl, antique gold knot, and fabric rosette necklaces are all from Etsy.
The two long strands of pearls, large teal crystal,bird’s nest, and purple gem necklaces are all from Etsy. The aqua necklace is similar to one I have for sale in my shop.
I think now I might add a length of twine or ribbon across the top of the rakes so I can hang even more dangling earrings in here. Exciting!
So I guess my blog has not been very heavy on the tutorials, but I do have one DIY project I did (with the help of my husband) that I’d really like to share! So here goes my attempt at writing a DIY tutorial.
When my husband and I first moved into our new house last year, we were excited by all the space we were going to have. Going from a 1300 square foot apartment to a 2500 square feet home meant lots and lots more space to enjoy!
However, one thing that sort of confused me was the fact that we were going to have two “living” rooms. Living room, den, family room, whatever you want to call them, our new house had two. The back of the house has an open kitchen, a breakfast nook, and a large space for an open living room. This is sort of the heart of our home, and we chose this living room to be the place where we set up our nice, big comfy u-shaped couches and our entertainment center with the television.
That left us with the question…what do we do with this huge front living room? When you enter the front door of our house, you are greeted with a large open dining room and living room (a column separates the two areas), along with the stairwell going up to the second floor. Since we already had our couches and media in the back living room, we weren’t sure what to do with the front one.
There were lots of possibilities, but I eventually decided that I’d like to make it a library of sorts. The wall of just the living room section was about 15 feet long. I envisioned a posh space with a couple of fun couches, floor lamps, a cozy rug, and a long row of lovely custom built-in shelves filled with books and other special mementos.
Back to reality, we just dropped our savings on a house. Not really any spare pocket change for fifteen feet of nice custom built-in wall to wall bookshelves.
Enter our Ikea hack. We are definitely not the first homeowners to have used Ikea bookshelves to create built-in looking bookshelves, but I like to think we put our own special touch on the project.
Here’s how we did it:
1. First, we bought lots and lots of Billy bookshelves. I spent a while on the Ikea website looking at the different variations and measurements of the Billys that are offered. Billys are pretty much the most basic shelving system Ikea offers, you could go with some of the other choices if you preferred, but we wanted something simple that we could add on to however we wanted.
The Billy system comes with lots of options. You can have skinny Billys, wide Billys, Billys with glass doors or wood doors. Billys in all shapes, sizes, and colors!
Your basic Billy bookshelf
Skinny Billy on a diet
We lucked out because for our space, a combo of four wide Billys and three skinny Billys fit almost perfectly. If you want to try this project, make sure you measure your space first. Ikea even offers a build your own option on their website, so you can see what combo of shelving units will work in your space and what it will look like.
We also bought the height extension shelving pieces for each unit. This was basically just something that added an extra shelf to the top of each Billy, making our wall-to-wall bookshelf a little taller.
How exciting, a Billy shelf extension unit
Most importantly, do NOT forget to include the baseboard molding in your calculations. Your wall-to-wall length may be 15 feet, but you need to subtract a couple inches to account for your molding, unless you plan on removing it to slide your bookshelves in. I’ll tell you how we dealt with our molding soon.
Altogether, the purchase of the shelves cost us just under $500. Not cheap, but when you consider you’re getting fifteen feet of bookshelf, not too bad either (especially when you think about how much custom work would’ve cost).
2. My next step was to assemble all the bookshelves. This was not fun. Mostly because there were 7 of them and it was pretty overwhelming.
I really wanted to add something special to these shelves. The back of a Billy bookshelf is basically a long sheet of particle board, aka, cardboard. It doesn’t look nice. White painted creased cardboard doesn’t fly with custom built-in bookshelves.
I knew I wanted to decorate the backs of the shelves, but did I want to paint it? Wallpaper? Fabric? My first instinct was to wallpaper them, but I had a hard time finding some economical wallpaper. Plus, I’ve never worked with wallpaper before in my life…so I went with fabric. I figured I could staple or glue fabric to the back of each board and give my shelves some extra pizzazz.
My next challenge was figuring out where in town I could by fifteen square feet of the same fabric. Not sure why I didn’t just buy online, but I ended up roaming through JoAnn’s one day. I couldn’t find several bundles of the same fabric, but I did find multiple bundles of the same pattern in two different colors. I bought everything they had and hoped it’d be enough. Obviously I’m really good at well-thought out projects, right?
I set to work on covering the particle backboard of each Billy with fabric. I placed the fabric pattern-faced down on the floor, put the particle board on top of it, and cut the fabric so it had about two inches of excess on all sides. I then hot glued these edges on the back of the particle board, being careful to evenly stretch the fabric as I glued.
Two things here, first, I don’t know if I’d recommend using hot glue as I did…How long will hot glue hold fabric to cardboard? These book shelves are here to stay, so hopefully my fabric will stay in place…forever. I would maybe add some staples or something to make this more permanent. Second, be careful what sort of fabric you choose. My fabric was heavily patterned, and any extra stretch in one area was really obvious in my final product, making the pattern not line up all the way across my shelves sometimes (but nothing too bad, no worries).
Once I got my backing all situated, we could finish completing the assembly of each unit. You sort of slide the cardboard backing in notches on the back of the unit, so that will also help hold my fabric in more permanently.
Here’s my husband nailing the back board to the shelving unit. You can see my fabric edges peeking around.
3. Next it was time to set up all the units on the wall. Nervous! Will they fit? This can be slightly stressful because, let’s face it, you’re working with Ikea products here. Plus you put them together. Things can be a little crooked, a little uneven, etc. Luckily, we didn’t seem to have any major problems…
My husband used L-brackets to attach the top of each unit to the wall, just to up the safety factor. Especially needed in houses with small kiddies or rambunctious doggies.
Work in progress
Ta Da! Do you spot my serious mistake?
Here is our new wall-to-wall bookshelf. It took me a while to figure out the best color pattern, but I think it worked out well.
At this point, I realized I had put one of the pieces on backwards (see top right corner skinny shelf), but as everything was all nailed together and what not, I could not fix it. No biggie since we planned to cover the shelves with trim and molding.
Bonsai doggie Leo is a shelf accessory
4. Once our unit was up, we measured the gaps on the ends between the shelves and the wall (caused mainly by our molding on the baseboards), measured the distances between shelves, and measured the distance from the floor to the top of the bottom shelf. This way we knew how big/small the trim we bought needed to be. We spent a long time at Home Depot mulling over what sort of molding and trim we wanted. We went with a really basic trim for all the edges except the bottom, which was more substantial.
One weekend when I was miserably working at the office, my loving husband spent an afternoon painting all the trim white and nailing them to the shelves. Basically the edges of each bookshelf got trim, so there was “double trim” between shelves, does that make sense? You could also buy thicker trim that covered the edges of two bookshelves totally. We didn’t put trim on the edges of the shelf ledges themselves, since most of them are movable and we might want to adjust them someday.
Here’s the unit once we added molding and trim:
Leo admiring our handy work (no he just loves those peacock feathers for some reason).
Please ignore the paint splotches on the left, we were still figuring our what color we wanted!
You can see we still have a slight gap between the wall and the unit. It sort of ruins the custom built-in facade, but the logistics of getting it perfectly flush with the wall were too difficult and we think it looks just fine 🙂
5. To complete the look, my husband wired in some overhead lighting. Before installing the last shelf, he dropped a plugged-in extension cord behind the shelves so we could have some lighting.
6. Decorate, decorate, decorate! I spent a long time playing around with the adjustable shelves. I didn’t want the unit as a whole to look too symmetrical. I made sure to put my heaviest books and display items along the bottom or middle shelves, the ones that weren’t adjustable, since they are probably the strongest. I had a lot of fun just going to Hobby Lobby and buying cute items for display – vases, frames, bird cages, candles, bookends…My favorite item is the turquoise vase with the peacock feathers, right in the middle of the unit. You may also notice that many of my display items are things I’ve bought from Etsy!
Once I put all my books on the shelf, I was amazed at how it suddenly looked like I owned no books, just because the shelf was so huge. I look forward to having tons of space for our library collection to grow.
Other than painting, this was the first major project we undertook for our new house. It was a lot of work, but definitely worth it. I love the extra pop that the fabric backing adds to the shelves. When we have guests over, the wall-to-wall library is usually one of the first things they notice. We finally got couches (like, 11 months later!) for the room, so hopefully we will be getting more use out of our library soon.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Please let me know if you have any questions.
I’m so excited to share my Pinterest Thursday: I Tried It! Project with you all today.
In preparation for my upcoming craft shows, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I can display my jewelry at my booth. Since I’m sort of just testing the waters here, I don’t want to spend too much money on jewelry display items and new pieces. So, I’ve been trying to figure out inexpensive ways to set up my booth and show off my inventory while still having a cute, unique, attention-grapping display. I’ve been gathering ideas at my Craft Show Display Ideas board on Pinterest (check it out!).
I’ve got of all sorts of frames and boards and foamy things to hang my necklaces and earrings from, but rings are a different story. Bring in this wonderful little pin I found:
The pin is for a tutorial on how to make your very own ring display box/tray/thing from a cutlery tray. Now rewinding, when we first moved into our house, I bought a new cutlery tray for the kitchen, only to find that it was slightly too big to fit in our drawer. I threw it in the back of my car to eventually return to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but let’s face it, that place can sometimes seem like the 6th circle of hell, and I don’t like going in unless I have $250 lying around that I want to throw away.
Thus, much to the annoyance of my husband, I never made it around to returning the cutlery tray. Fastfowarding, when I saw this tutorial, I was like, AHA! Finally something I can do with that tray! Now I can make a super cheap ring display box AND avoid ever stepping into Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
The main two items you need are any sort of cutlery tray type thing, or just a plain tray, and some upholstery foam, which I found at Joann.
Some scissors and a box cutter or a knife are also helpful, along with some relatively thick fabric. If your fabric is too thin, you’ll be able to see the green foam through it.
Use your scissors or a knife to cut out foam pieces to fit in the cutlery tray divisions, or, if you’re lucky, one big piece for a regular ole tray. In the pinned tutorial, she uses just one big tray, so it’s a lot easier. Sadly I was working with a tray with lots of divisions, so I had a lot of cutting to do. I was sort of worried my final result might look odd with all the divisions, but I think it turned out just fine (you’ll see soon).
Here’s my box with the foam pieces fitted in. I then took my box cutter (you could use a sharp knife too) and started slitting lines through the foam where I wanted to be able to sit the rings. I sliced the lines about half-way into the depth of the foam, and I tried to keep my lines straight (but didn’t really succeed) and evenly spaced.
After I was done cutting lines, I took my fabric and cut it into pieces, and basically stuffed in into the sliced lines, folded it under the pieces of foam, and stuffed it all into the box. I used the point of my scissors to really stuff the fabric in there and make it as taut as I could get it. I chose a basic neutral colored muslin fabric. I planned to paint my tray a bright green and I really wanted my rings to be able to pop against a non-distracting background. Obviously, you can have fun with the fabric and color scheme and make it match your bedroom or branding or whatever.
After spraypainting the tray green (and thus restuffing all the foam pieces), this was my final result:
Yeah, some of my lines aren’t straight, and my fabric is a little wrinkly in places, but once this baby is full of rings I think it’s going to look great! I also love the green color. I can’t wait to see it on my craft show table full of shiny things! The only bad thing is that when I made it, I realized how many rings I need to make to fill it up! I put EVERY ring I currently have for sale on it in this picture, and you can see it’s like….1/5th full! I have a LOT of work to do!
I think this is a great project even for non-craft show vendors. You could make one of whatever size you want for your own personal ring collection and show it off on your dresser or vanity. It’d also make a cute handmade gift for a friend!
Maybe you have noticed I don’t talk too much about *cooking* or *baking* or *recipes* like lots of other lady blogs out there. Unfortunately, I was never blessed with the strong desire to cook. I love, love to eat. In fact, eating is one of my all-time favorite things…but I just don’t really enjoy cooking. Probably because I’m so lazy (hence, lazy owl).
But, I do love cupcakes, and I’d been eyeing this pin for sometime…
Click on over to Baked Perfection for the full tutorial with ingredients. It was easy enough for an inexperienced baker like me to handle…basically a doctored chocolate cake mix (add sour cream and instant pudding mix), plus some real simple cream cheese frosting. I adore cream cheese frosting. I’ve never been a fan of buttercream because it’s just so sugary and sweet, so cream cheese frosting has always been my fave.
My result, ooey gooey oreo deliciousness
The additions to the cake mix made the chocolate cake super moist, and I added bits of oreos to both the cake and the frosting. My only hiccup was during baking, I was not quite sure if I baked them long enough. The cake was so moist it was hard to tell, but regardless, they turned out delicious!
All for me?
It’s difficult to bake for a family of 2…24 cupcakes without any kids to feed or a party to host was a bit overwhelming (and way too tempting). I think I’ve eaten about 10 of them myself, because (not to toot my own horn) they are pretty darn good. I caved and brought 8 to work and they quickly disappeared.
I highly recommend this recipe, and I’m happy I took a step out of my comfort zone and tried some baking for once!
This concludes this week’s Pinterest Thursday: I tried it!
As per usual, I’ve linked up to the Pinterest party at bythebookpaper, check it out!
This week I wanted to try a cute pin I found a while ago on Pinterest, of a map made out of scrapbook paper for each state. [Edit for update – unfortunately I can no longer find the original pin on Pinterest, so this post doesn’t make as much sense, but you’ll get the idea!]
We travel a lot (or so I thought, until I made this haha), so I thought it would be really cute. We also just moved into our house in December, so we still have a lot of empty wall space to decorate. I thought this cute little handmade map would be unique and a great way to personalize a room.
I followed the original instructions with just a few changes. Here are my materials:
16×20 canvas from Hobby Lobby (I got one there pretty cheap)
A bunch of cute scrapbook paper, if you’re like me you always have some lying around!
A handful of miscellaneous cute small buttons, you can use all matching ones or a hodge podge
Paint for the canvas,
A pack of wooden letters, also from Hobby Lobby
Modge Podge, or another similar clear adhesive glue or spray
Print out of a US map (link below)
A lot of patience and time (to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right)
Oooh a bunch of scrapbook paper…
I knew it would take me a good while to cut out all these states (curse you, New England). One weekend when the husband was out of town, I had yet another TV marathon (I think this time it was Fringe) cutting out all of the states.
I started by printing out a blown-up map of the US here. I printed to poster size, so the states would be big enough to fit on my rather large canvas. Play with your printer settings to get it the right size for whatever canvas you’ve chosen.
Then, I cut out each state from the map itself (that took forever). Next, I rotated through all my scrapbook papers and traced each state on them using my state cutouts. Since I didn’t have as many papers as I did states, I just made sure to keep all the patterns spread out (does that make sense?). I didn’t want the same paper to be used for two states that bordered each other. Then, I cut out the states on the scrapbook paper.
I painted my canvas blue. You can see in the original tutorial she uses a more neutral beigey color, but I love bright blue and I thought it’d look ocean-y. After it dried, I glued on my states as precisely as I could. I then modge podged over the entire map to give it a nice glossy look and hold down any curling ends of the paper. I used the glue adhesive, but I think spray would be good too.
I debated adding any words or a title to my map. I didn’t really want “Oh the places you’ll go”, which is a Dr. Suess quote the original tutorial uses. We don’t have any kids yet so I just wasn’t feeling the Seuss. I decided on “Wanderlust”. I painted the letters a bright green and glued them on my canvas.
The finishing touch was gluing my little buttons on the map for the places we’d visited. My husband and I agreed on some ground rules. I could only “button” places we had both visited together, and we had to have stayed overnight there (not just driven through). Only one button per state, even if we’ve been to multiple cities, and I put a heart button for the two cities we’ve lived in — Baton Rouge and Houston.
Ta da! Sorry for the crapola picture. Really bad lighting.
Turns out the only states we’ve visited are all the southeastern ones….plus Massachusetts (where the button is practically bigger than the state).
I sort of start rushing when I get tired of working on a really tedious project, so I wish I had taken more time with the letters at the top. I painted and glued them on before they were totally dry and got some green smudges on my canvas…but oh well 🙂
I’m really glad I made this, and I can’t wait to be able to add more buttons to it! Hopefully someday one day it will be full!
And that conclues this week’s Pinterest Thursday!
Do you want to participate in Pinterest Thursday? Feel free to join me and link up at bythebookpaper!
Today I’m trying something new! Kristen over at bythebookpaper had the most excellent idea to start a weekly blog series on Pinterest. If you’re like me, you may have a giant Pinterest board of DIY craft projects or recipes that you’re longing to try. Well, Kristen has decided to encourage us to actually *do* all these pins that we’ve spent hours diligently pinning. Each Thursday, I’ll try to post a pin from my Crafts & DIY pinterest board that I’ve successfully attempted (key word being “attempted”).
This past week, I tried to recreate a pin I’d been eyeing, and really an item I wanted to make for a long while:
I love yarn wreaths. I have some others pinned also. I’ve bought a few off of Etsy….they are just so fun and colorful and happy…they add a little bit of childhood cheer to your house or front door :)So this weekend is my mom’s birthday, and we happen to be traveling to Dallas for the LSU-Oregon season opener football game. So I decided to make her an LSU yarn wreath based on my pin!
You can see I started out with pretty much the standard materials — a foam wreath form I got at JoAnn, some yellow felt for the pom pom flowers, yellow and purple yarn, a hot glue gun (represented by two hot glue sticks haha), and scissors (unfortunately not shown, but I think you can figure it out).
You can follow Mrs. Priss’ tutorial. You simply wrap your yarn around your wreath form in whatever design or pattern you want. I didn’t use an exact scientific method, just lots and lots of wrapping until everything looked relatively even. It takes a long time to finish a whole wreath. I must have watched 5 episodes of Buffy. Now I understand why some people charge upwards of $50 for these babies on Etsy. Happy birthday mom.
You can decide how you to finish of the ends of the yarn. Simply tying it is an option. I tied and then hot glued the knot for extra strength, but that gave the back of my wreath a slightly funky look. You could even use pins to hold everything down if you wanted to.
And voila, a nifty cute lil LSU wreath specially for my momma. I made the yellow pom poms with some felt. Unfortunately I have no pics of the process, but that’s really easy also. Just cut out two inch strips of felt (the longer = the bigger the pom pom). Fold in half and glue along the edges (not on the inside). Then, make little cuts every half inch or so along the strip on the inside (non-glued side). Start on one end of the strip and being rolling around and around the center, gluing where you want to, then glue closed. Instant pom pom!
Now I’m excited to try more wreaths…one for every season and every holiday and some just for fun!
I hope that made sense, let me know if you have questions! This concludes our very first Pinterest Thursday. One pin down, many many more to go!
Want to join in? Let me know what you’ve made from Pinterest!
Feel free to follow everyone’s progress by clicking the button bellow: