Thursday, December 1, 2011

Everyday I'm Rufflin'

Earlier this week I mentioned that I got a new sewing machine. I've been a busy girl and have completed two projects within a week of having it. Now I'll finally be sharing one of them with you. I was originally inspired weeks ago by this post by The Johnstons for a DIY no sew ruffled tree skirt. I thought it was adorable, but come on, what do I want with a no sew project when I've got such an awesome new toy to play with?

Mine is a bit different, she uses burlap in hers, but I used only a simple cotton (I'm not a fabric expert but it actually feels like bedsheets!). Ashley also started with an old tree skirt that she just recycled. We didn't happen to have one before so I had to start from scratch. I did this by tracing a bowl (we literally have a charlie brown christmas tree so a bowl was the perfect size), cutting it out and also cutting a slit to the center and a small hole there. hemmed up the edges because fraying makes me feel all OCD inside. I then started making my ruffles. I did two different sizes, cutting fabric in 4" and 2" strips. I folded them in half and then roughly hand sewed them in half hotdog bun style (this is a technical term if you're a teacher).

Once I had it sewn all the way up the side I pulled the string so the fabric ruffled on it's own. I'm sure there's a way to do this with the sewing machine, but being new I haven't figured that out yet. Anyone out there know? Here's how it looked after I scrunched it:

Totally looks like an actual scrunchie from the 90's, huh? After that I just sewed the ruffles around the circle, starting on the outside. I didn't even bother pinning it on, and I didn't measure the ruffles. I like the more handmade look of doing it that way. I alternated the rows between the 1" and 2" strips (remember I folded them in half from the original 2" and 4"). If you've got a larger tree skirt you may want thicker strips.

When I got to the center I cut a 3" strip and folded it over twice like this to avoid those dastardly frayed edges:

I'm not sure you understand how giddy I was to finish my first sewing project. This was a great project for me to start with because I'm not a complete novice, but the ruffles covered up all of my not-so-straight sewing lines and allowed me to easily cover up any mistakes I made. Adorable finished product, don't you think?

There's that Charlie Brown tree I was telling you about. I love Christmas just as much as the next person, but I'm not a fan of all the fuss for a bigger tree, nor do we have the space, so this is perfect for us right now. And I think our ornaments and my new tree skirt cuten it up nicely. Have you set up your tree yet? Any homemade creations to make it uniquely yours?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sew What?

Well, if you couldn't tell by the title, this post is about sewing. I'm so sneaky like that, giving hints to the post in the title (insert sarcasm here). Despite the sarcasm, I'm actually very excited about this. The reason for all of my hullabaloo (yes, that's a word, and yes, I'm hullabalooing over here!) is the new sewing machine I just got! (!!!!) It's an early Christmas present from my parents that I know my mom is thrilled about. She got her sewing machine in her early 20's and uses it quite often for big and small projects alike.

Everybody now, "Sewing party over here (woop, woop!) Sewing party over there (woop, woop!)". Ok, I may be overly excited for some of you. Toning it down a bit, I'll let you know that this is my first sewing machine that is mine-all-mine. I've used my mom's before for a few quick things here and there, but never anything substantial. Since the creative bug has hit me so badly lately and I have this little ol' gem of a blog to keep me accountable for actually creating things, I figured it was time I get one. I've been dying to tackle something sewing-related, especially clothes- one of my other loves.

This isn't going to be a long post, but I'm going to give you a sneak peak at some projects I've been working on. I've finished one, and the other just needs a few hand sewing details yet.

Here's a little in progress zoom action of the first project:

And project numero dos:

I can't wait to share them with you, so I hope this little teaser got you just as excited! So let me know, are there any sewing projects going on out there? Any great Black Friday deals? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fancy Feast

No, no, I'm not talking about the cat food.

But I did feel like royalty because of the delicious food D cooked up for us yesterday for Thanksgiving. Let me tell you, that guy can cook! Boy do I know how to pick 'em! For those who are curious, this was the menu he had planned:

  • Peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin with a horseradish cream sauce
  • Pan seared caramelized scallops with lemon
  • Potato pave

Although non-traditional, it was awesome and served the purpose of bringing us together for good food and thankfulness. He's being picky and won't let me post pictures of it because he doesn't believe they're absolutely perfect. Thinking about it, that's probably for the best so you don't ruin your keyboard with drool.

Now if you remember from earlier in the week my responsibilities were setting the table and making dessert. Keeping with our non-traditional theme I decided to go with this recipe from Real Mom Kitchen for German pancakes. In her post she mentioned fruit filling, which immediately made the light bulb go off in my head. My favorite homemade treat is hands down strawberry rhubarb jam made from my great-grandma's recipe. Hellooooo strawberry rhubarb filling! I just followed the recipe for the German pancakes, so I won't go into detail with a tutorial. I will however give you one warning. They turned out fine, but I probably should have read up on them a little more because it was totally not what I expected. While they were cooking I actually thought I was going to have a disaster with batter all over the oven. They turned out fine, apparently they're supposed to do that, but here's what they looked like in the oven:

With the filling, I went rogue- I kind of made it up. I felt comfortable doing this because growing up my great grandma always had a rhubarb plant in her back yard. Even in her 90's she still insisted on making the jam every year. When she passed away a few years ago, my parents took part of the plant to grow in their yard. We still use her recipe and her plant to make the jam every summer. Since I moved to Texas, I've been missing it and have been suffering through grape jelly on my PB & J's every day (yes, I'm in my 20's and eat PBJ every day. Literally). When I thought about a fruit filling this was the first thing I thought of. I went to the store and sure enough, I found frozen rhubarb in the frozen fruit aisle! I took it as another sign that right next to it were the frozen strawberries. I even got the kind that are packed in sugar so I didn't have to mess with trying to figure out how much to add in (rhubarb isn't exactly sweet on it's own). All I did was put the two in a pot on the stove and boiled them down for about 30 minutes until it was soupy, but still had a few chunks in it. Typically to make the jam I'd add some gelatin, but for a sauce I didn't want it to be so firm.

Here's how it started:

And here's how it ended up:

Once the filling was done I made the whipped cream, which is extremely simple. Heavy cream, sugar, vanilla-whisk it up and you've got whipped cream. I then stacked my pieces and my final product turned out like this:

I can't even begin to explain how much I love these! I think it's mostly because I've been missing my favorite jam, but these really are a great, light dessert. Kind of like a twist on strawberry shortcake but sooo much better.

For you cut-to-the-chase kinda people here are the recipes for the filling and whipped cream. Again, you can find the recipe for the German pancakes at Real Mom Kitchen.

Strawberry Rhubarb Filling:

1- 16oz bag of frozen rhubarb (fresh is better if you have access!)
1- 24 oz carton of strawberries in sugar

Put them in a pot together and turn the heat on medium. Stir occasionally until the fruit is broken down, about 30 minutes.

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

Combine the ingredients and whisk in air until fluffy.

I bet your mouth is watering like mine. I'll be going now, time to get some leftover dessert! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Did you have any special desserts? Did any family recipes make an appearance?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Playing Pretend

Don't tell me you never pretended you were a princess or the president, or even a dog walker. No matter what it was, you pretended to be something when you were a kid. Well, I'm a grown-up (debatable) and I recently decided to pretend I was an interior designer. It's something I've always loved, so I figured why not jot down one of the sketches floating around in my big ol' noggin. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gobble, Gobble!

With Turkey Day coming up so soon, D and I have really been planning how we will spend our Thanksgiving. Work has gotten the best of us this year, so it will be just the two of us in our little abode, but we still have plenty to be thankful for. Since D is by far the stronger cook of the two of us he will be taking care of the food. I have taken care of the table setting and will make the dessert the day of.

Today I'm going to share with you how I decided to decorate our table on a budget. We're not typically very fancy when we eat, so I didn't want to spend gobs of money for something that would hardly ever get used. I didn't start with a dollar amount in mind, just that I wanted everything to be relatively inexpensive. Without further ado, I present our table:

It's pretty simple, but still adorable, if you ask me! Now I realize there's a giant flower arrangement blocking conversation in the middle of the table, but know that we will most likely sit next to each other, this just looks so much better for set up. Here is what it will look like sitting down:

I love that the colors are very fall, but still feel a little more fun with the purple placemat. Now, to break things down for you a little more, I'll fill you in on my purchases. To start things off, we already owned the vase, the plates are our everyday dishes, and the glasses were my great-grandmother's (she periodically gets rid of things like this so she doesn't feel her house is too cluttered and it makes for a beautiful heirloom for me). The placemats I mentioned earlier are actually just scrapbook paper that I got in a pack from Target for $1. It's added color that I don't have to feel obligated to use for other dinners. Also from Target is the table runner, which is actually a scarf. It cost $15, but I was fine spending a little more because hello, I get to wear it, too! It will get much more use as a scarf than a runner in the future.

In this closer view you get a better peek at the adorable glasses I mentioned, and also the votives. The red ones are, again, from Target and were $1 a piece. The orange ones came from Goodwill and were a whopping 50 cents each! The wooden bowls on the plates were also only 50 cents each from Goodwill, and the same goes for the branch/wreath/nest thing around the vase. They were the cheapest things I bought, but I think they really make the setting.

The flowers were two separate bouquets from the grocery store that were $4 each, and I also had to pick up some new tea candles that cost $1 for a pack of 9.

Lastly, I also bought this smaller vase at Target for $5. I took another sheet of the scrapbook paper  mentioned above to create little cards that D and I can write things we're thankful for and read while we enjoy our dessert. I'm such a sap but I can't help myself. 

For anyone who's head is spinning with numbers, here's a breakdown of the budget for you:

Scarf table runner: $15 (Target)
Orange votives: $1.50 for 3 (Goodwill)
Wooden bowls: $1 for 2 (Goodwill)
Wreath around the vase: 50 cents (Goodwill)
Red votives: $3 for 3 (Target)
Scrapbook paper: $1 for an 8-pack (Target)
Small vase: $5 Target)
Tea candles: $1 for a 9-pack (Target)
Flowers: $8 for 2 bouquets (Grocery store)
Large vase, glasses, plates:  Free (Already owned)

Total: $36

I probably could have gotten a better deal on some things, like the scarf and the small vase to save an extra few bucks, but I'm ok with the price because I think I got a lot for the money and it can all easily be reused again. I can't wait to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal and spend some time thinking about all the blessings I have in my life. I hope you find time to do the same. Have you been getting anything ready for Thanksgiving lately? Maybe you're in charge of your table setting or the mashed potatoes? If you're in charge of the mashed potatoes I may have to stop by your table!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Making a List

It may be close to the holidays, but that's not quite the list I had in mind. Last weekend I was in the kitchen cleaning and I noticed the garbage needed to be taken out. My first step was to grab a new bag, but when I looked they were all gone! I hate when things like that happen (at least it wasn't the toilet paper!), especially something like garbage bags that slowly deplete over time, leaving room for lots of trips to the grocery store to buy more. I immediately patted myself on the back for slacking so much on my grocery shopping duties. Then I got to thinking about how I could keep this from happening in the future (actually I finished taking out the trash first). If you're on Pinterest at all you've probably seen tons of pins for DIY dry erase boards. If you haven't seen them here's an example (originally from here). They are super easy, much cuter than any office-style version and there are loads of different ways to use them.

Once I settled on the solution I made my way to Target to get some supplies. It was also a necessary run to get those darn trash bags! I first chose my frame. I figured 8x10 would be big enough since I'm not using it for my entire grocery list, just a few things I need to be reminded to buy. I also wanted something a little chunkier to fit in with our other frames and look a little more expensive. The one I bought was about $7. Make sure it's actual glass inside of the frame before you buy it. I've put plenty of dry erase markers on windows and mirrors in my day, but I haven't tried plastic, and I don't think it works the same. I also found scrapbook paper at Target in an 8-pack for 99 cents. You just can't beat that! Ok, maybe you can, I'm not a scrapbook paper expert! Anyway, here are the main attractions I've been telling you about:

Making it was super easy. All I did was trace the glass from the frame onto the paper, cut it out, and popped it in. All that's left to do is make my list and check it twice before I go to the store. Here is my finished product:

And the view from afar:

I had the dry erase marker lying around, so this project cost me a total of about $8. You just can't beat how easy this project was! So what do you say, are there any other list-makers out there? What are you putting on your list with the holidays coming up?

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm Late, I'm Late, For a Very Important Date!

Admittedly, that date is for my posts. Between you and me, one of us has been a little behind lately! You decide which one of us that is. Unfortunately things have just been hectic here so I haven't kept up with my goal of posting at least once a week. Fortunately for you that means I'll be posting twice this week!

Today I'm going to back track a little and give you a quick (and a little late) recap of our Halloween. We kept things pretty low-key but it was fun nonetheless! Prior to Halloween weekend D's little brother, R, came for a visit. I use the term little lightly because he's at least six feet tall! Regardless of size, he had actually never carved a pumpkin before, so we thought it would be the perfect family bonding activity without getting too cheesy. Who doesn't love sharp knives and fruit?? Hello Fruit Ninja!

Each of us came up with very different ideas so we decided to come up with categories for each and call ourselves winners. First up is the newbie, R. He kept it simple for his first attempt and took the prize for the Classic Division.

It turned out great, don't you think? Next up is D. We happened to carve these shortly after Steve Jobs passed away, so he decided to pay homage to them via pumpkin, winning the vote for the Pop Culture Division.

Lastly, I had seen photos online of some intricately carved pumpkins and knew some of it couldn't have been done with knives. I did a little digging and found printmaking tools to be the culprit. I happened to have mine in the closet so I got them out and went to work. Mine won in the Artistic Division.

There was some stiff competition from last year when Diego and I carved for the inaugural Pumpkinpalooza 2010. Yes we have a name for it. Yes we think we're cool. Here is what we were up against:

Since the pumpkins were carved early this year and had actually already rotted in the hot sun on our balcony, we chose to spend our actual Halloween night watching zombie movies and baking cookies. I wanted to get a little creative with the cookies so I chose to do a chocolate chip cookie recipe, hold the chips. That would just be too easy and not festive enough. Instead I piped on some Nutella in some fun Halloween designs like a spider web, zombie, and Frankenstein to name a few.

Ok so they're not great but I enjoyed making them and it gave me a chance to practice my piping skills. And they were delicious to boot! I hope you like our low-key but festive Halloween as much as we did. What did you do for the spookfest? Any trick-or-treaters? Do you like zombie movies as much as we do?