Friday, October 23, 2009

Serging Ahead!

As if I didn't have a long enough list of craft projects and new ideas waiting to be explored, I had to stumble upon a new toy!

Purchased from Goodwill for only $39.99, I knew it was a gamble. But with Goodwill's 10 Day return policy for electronics, I knew it was a sure bet to pick up this Simplicity Easy Lock Serger and give it a whirl. After finding a PDF of the owner's manual online, I knew I was in great shape! All of the original accessories were included (rare!), plus four full cones of black thread - that's $15 in savings right there! After 45 minutes of using the manual to learn how to thread the darn thing, and another 15 minutes adjusting the various thread tensions and stitch lengths, I was finally in business!

Now, I was under the impression machines were invented to make life easier for humans. My new Simplicity Easy Lock Serger does just that - it enhances simple projects and simplifies certain tasks. But on the other hand, a whole mew world of crafting and sewing possibilities open up for me, making my life anything but easier!

I'm eager to try some of the fab ideas in "Ready, Set, Serge!" by Georgie Melot. Check back to see just how I put my new toy to use!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Owl of the Week: Saw-Whet Owl 83163

Title: 83163

Banded: October 10, 2009

October 17, 2009

Gender: Male

Location: Banded and Released at Woodland Dunes Nature Preserve in Two Rivers, WI

Unique Characteristic(s): At this year's annual Owlfest at Woodland Dunes, we had the very unique opportunity to learn about and interact with Saw-Whet Owls. These breath-taking creatures were the star attractions at this fund-raising event. For a small donation, we were even able to "adopt" one of these captivating creatures. We'll be able to track his progress if he's ever captured and released again!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Gourd-geous Designs: Halloween 2009

Check out our two carved beauties we did up for the annual Halloween party!

Pumpkin on the left uses another idea from The Best of Martha Stewart Living: Halloween to create a starry, magical glow. Small round holes are punched over the entirety of the gutted pumpkin. We used a screwdriver. A larger hole is punched unobtrusively in the backside of the gourd, near the base. White Christmas lights are strung through that base hole, and are then individually inserted into each punched hole. Left over lights on the strand easily fit in the center of the hollow pumpkin, enhancing its warm glow. Small hands work best in the confined space, so get the kids to gently assist you on this one. Icicle lights work just as well as single stranded lights do. On a medium sized pumpkin, we punched 50 holes and used a 100 light set.

Our other gourd-geous pumpkin was created by doctoring a clip-art image to suit our needs. This handsome little owl was found doing an image search. It's best to use images with simple lines, few details, and using 2-3 colors in its design. That way, its easier to mark on the image what design elements are cut away and what design elements are formed by the pumpkin itself. We also utilized a linoleum cutter to shave away bits of the pumpkin to emphasize the overall shape and outline of the owl, without having to make intricate slices. If by chance you do cut out an element, say an eye, but want to add back in detail, say an iris/pupil, bamboo skewers work wonders at holding pumpkin chunks in place. Plus, they're relatively unnoticeable!

Hope this gives you a little inspiration to enhance your pumpkin carving. I'm already gathering new ideas for myself...

ext year i just may have to try these little guys!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday's Feisty Feast: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

We get into the festive Halloween spirit with quite a flourish around here! I'm always eager to stumble upon new holiday decorating ideas and new holiday recipes. Today's blog post rolls them both into one!

Browsing the craft section of my local library, I came across The Best of Martha Stewart Living: Halloween. I was very inspired by several of her ideas and used them to carve a few pumpkins for the annual Halloween party we attend. More photos coming soon! We scoured local hardware stores and big-box chain stores for the perfect tool to make 1" round holes in our first pumpkin (see above). Don't waster your time doing the same. Nobody could help us with our carving supply needs. But as luck would have it, we had access to old metal wind chime pipes. This worked far better than expected and produced smooth, round results! A large Phillips screwdriver punched smaller star-shaped holes for a glittery effect around the larger holes. It was gourd-geous! (Get it? Gourd-geous instead of gorgeous? Very punny...)

It's practically holiday law that you can't play surgeon to a pumpkin without properly attending to his innards. That's where today's recipe comes in. Roasting pumpkin seeds makes a great snack, is the perfect addition to home-made trail mix, and is popular with all the boys and ghouls at holiday parties!

Traditional Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1-2 cups fresh Pumpkin Seeds
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Salt to taste (Sea Salt works great!)

Clean pumpkin seeds with water. Easy method: Throw seeds into a large colander and rinse off in the sink. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Add the pumpkin seeds in a single layer and coat with another layer of olive oil cooking spray. Season with salt to taste. Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!

Go Un-traditional! Try some of these exciting twists on this traditional recipe. (Tip:Olive oil or olive oil cooking spray may be used in place of butter in any of these recipes.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Owl of the Week: Dirk the Dutch Style Owl

Title: Dirk the Dutch Style Owl

Late Summer 2009

Ceramic glazed in Dutch blue, light brown, black, and green over an unglazed grey clay

5 inches tall

Currently adding whimsy and charm to our bookshelves

Unique Characteristic(s):
Painted in a style reminiscent of one made popular in 19th Century Dutch Potteries, this colorful and bold bird aptly needed a Dutch name.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Idea Journal = Instant Inspiration

If you're anything like me, you read a magazine or browse a catalog and inevitably find tons of inspiring projects or home decor ideas you'd love to try someday. You tear out or photocopy the items or articles you like the most and squirrel them away in random places around the house. Or even worse, you save the entire catalog or magazine in fear of besmirching it's integrity and the inspiration it contains.

Stop all of that silly nonsense and buy yourself a blank journal. I prefer the orderliness of a lined journal, but get yourself whatever is most functional for you. Gather up all of those random clippings and copies and determine any major themes among them. For me, it's Home Decor Ideas, Holidays, Special Occasions, and Gift Ideas, but for you it could be more specific like Color Ideas and Fabric Samples for the Living Room or Garden Tips or Anniversary Vacation Destinations. Now make tabs for each of your categories by placing same-shaped stickers back-to-back on the edge of a journal page. Space these tabs out throughout your journal and evenly down the side edge of the journal.

Now start pasting in your fabulous articles and pictures, leaving plenty of room to jot down notes. Record your initial reactions or ideas on how to take the project and make it better with your own special touches. And no need to do this all in one day. I continually add to my Idea Journal and use long car rides to do any of the note jotting I need to do.

This is a great way to always have ideas at the ready and to keep control on that inescapable creative clutter!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Crafty Quick Fix: Instant Ensemble

We all have those days... You wake up and realize you haven't a thing to wear, despite a closet bulging with clothes. I've developed a simple way to always have an outfit at the ready for any occasion, without the hassle of trying a dozen things on. Set aside a rainy afternoon, grab your digital camera (or better yet, a Polaroid!), and head straight to your closet! Start piecing together outfits you've worn in the past and have felt fabulous in. Snap a photograph or two of it. Be creative and be daring. Heck, it's only a photo!

The goal here is to create an album of pre-determined outfits you can turn to when you're fashionably at a loss. You can even jot down notes for each outfit, describing what type of occasion its appropriate for, what shoes to wear with it, and what accessories would dress the outfit up or dress it down for a casual event.
"Make it Work." - Tim Gunn, fashion guru

Take it a step further. Invite a best girlfriend over and see what combinations she fancies. She might see potential in that green silk blouse of yours you never had the courage to wear. Even ask your boyfriend or significant other what outfit they like best. Star that outfit in your album and remember to wear it on an anniversary or birthday!

Check out some of the outfits I've created for myself, mixing in some of the tips from Real Simple Magazine's Essentials of a Well-Balanced Wardrobe. Challenge: Can you spot the thrift store finds?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Owl of the Week: Funk the Owl

Title: Funk the Owl (named after the German verb "funkeln" which means to sparkle)

Adopted: Spring 2009

Material: Ceramic glazed in mottled light and dark brown with black metal insert to hold votive or tea light

Size: Short & Squat, approximately 5 inches tall

Location: Anywhere! (As long as its never left unattended when lit!)

Unique Characteristic(s): Includes a metal hook at the top for hanging. Distinctively constructed with no wrong side or backside, i.e. with a face on either side of its body - providing a pleasant visage from any side!

***WARNING*** Geek Tangent: Being the classical mythology geek that I am, Funk the Owl totally brings to mind Janus, the two-headed Roman god. He too had no backside and could face forwards and backwards at the same time. Because of this special trait, he became the token god of city gates and doorways. Our month of January is even named after him, because the month looks back on the year before but also looks forward to a new year. Janus is the god of endings and new beginnings, because as Green Day puts it, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end..."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What A Joy's Real-Ly Simple Wardrobe Guide

On a serendipitous jaunt around the Internet, I stumbled across quite a boon: Real Simple Magazine's Essentials of a Well-Balanced Wardrobe. Like any person of the female persuasion, I already had a hankering for a slight wardrobe update, this list just helps reign me in and focus my spending on items that coordinate well together and with items I already own.

Although Real Simple's ideal demographic is someone with a career and a real income, my ever eco-friendly and money-thrift nature first led me to my own closet to see what goodies were hiding out in there, and then on a roadtrip to the nearest metropolitan spread of Goodwills, Salvation Armies, and generic thrift stores. This method may have taken a little extra gas money and a little extra patience scouring racks of donated clothing, but it sure made up for it in the money I saved and the thrill of spotting a great find. Not to mention, I wasn't limited to the hottest and latest but often hideous fashion trends department stores carry. At a thrift store, I'm able to shop for a style that not only appeals to my personal fashion sense, but also suits my body type and is age appropriate. (I hate being twenty-something - too old for the Juniors section but still feeling too young for the Misses section!)

I've already directed my mother and my sister to try out this guide too! And feel free to edit down the list to only the items you know you would wear. To be honest, I don't quite have any desire or any reason to own a pair of velvet pants as Real Simple suggests. And the idea of wearing a bold patterned sweater instantly causes me to crave Jell-O pudding and do Bill Cosby impersonations! Go ahead and make the list your own!

With all of that said, stayed tuned for Friday's post which exhibits a quirky yet functional way to always know the perfect outfit to wear! And I'll include some sneak peaks at some of the cute new clothes I bought (and their unbelievable purchase price)!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Crafting for a Cause: Cool Rice Therapy Bags

ack in May, I formed a unique collaboration with Heartland Hospice Care. I'm now a volunteer with their organization who gets to spend all of her volunteer time sewing and crafting! What great luck for a craft-a-holic! It's a wonderful way for me to focus my creative energies and as a bonus, patients and volunteers of Heartland Hospice Care benefit from my creativity.

My goal as a "crafter with a cause" is to work with the volunteer coordinator to discover the needs of the hospice patients and volunteers and design a craft project to both fulfill those needs and quench my creative thirst. Thanks to Sew, Mama, Sew, I was able to create these amazing Cool Rice Therapy Bags. I altered the size of the pattern provided by Sew, Mama, Sew and used a medley of fabric scraps and remnants. I tried to achieve a balance of both masculine and feminine color and pattern schemes.

Each Cool Rice Therapy Bag includes a decorative sleeve, a muslin rice-filled pouch, and a tag of directions. The muslin-filled rice pouch contains approximately 1 cup of rice and is to be stored in the freezer. When you're in need of some cool, soothing relief, just slip over the decorative sleeve and rest the therapy bag on your forehead, neck, over your eyes, etc. The flexible rice bag conforms to the shape of your body, providing targeted relief.

For the patients of Heartland Hospice Care I made 10 Cool Rice Therapy Bags, 2 each of 5 designs. Now I can't wait to try my hand at other shapes, sizes, and fabric choices for some Cool Rice Therapy Bags of my very own!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Owl of the Week: Charcoal Owl Candlesticks

Title: Charcoal Owl Candlesticks (pair of)

Adopted: Late Summer 2009

Material: charcoal-black painted heavy metalware

Size: Seven inches tall

Location: Dining Room, as table centerpiece when in use and as permanent decor on dining room sideboard

Unique Characteristic(s): Can be used with slender taper candles or fitted with glass globes and filled with decorative tealights or votives

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Funky Fabric Project Portfolio & Blog Journal

(Click on Photo to Enlarge Image)
Dissatisfied with some of the craft and office supplies available on the market, I seized the opportunity to design my very own, functional Project Portfolio & Blog Journal. I needed an organized space to store ideas, jot down brainstorms, and keep my blog running on schedule (or try to at least). And ever the design diva, this scheme needed to be a stylish one as well!

Here's a short summary of how the "Funky Fabric Project Portfolio & Blog Journal" was created. Check out the corresponding photos too!
  1. 1" x 12" strips of coordinating fabrics are sewn together in a random, alternating pattern to fit the length of the anticipated binder.
  2. Cut thick corrugated cardboard or corrugated plastic as firm center for the binder. Using a bright hued duct tape, adhere two 8 1/2" x 11" corrugated sheets with a 1" x 11" corrugated strip running down the center.
  3. Sew two 6 1/2" x 11" solid colored panels to the ends of the sewn strips. Add velcro closures if desired.
  4. Add coordinating pockets in contrasting fabrics to the left side panel.
  5. Pound two grommets near the top of the binder. Lace with ribbon or embroidery floss and secure a small calender or "To Do List".
  6. Finish off by adding a composition notebook and commence with project planning and blog scheduling!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Crafty Quick Fix: Fabric Storage

Anyone who claims the title of "craft-a-holic", finds themselves casually scouring the remnant bins and clearance racks of craft stores, looking for amazing deals and items to inspire future projects. While its lucky to save money and always be looking ahead to your next project, you still have to find room to store all of those fabric remnants and leftovers from past projects. Storage is a difficult premise for any craft-a-holic, but especially so for an apartment-dwelling one! (For a real challenge, try it in a single bedroom apartment with a roommate and a cat like I do!)

Solution: Purchase a shoe organizer to hang in a closet. Inexpensive yet sturdy, this organizer cost less than $10 and really serves it purpose well. I utilize the bottom boot-size cubby spaces as a colorized miscellaneous fabric catch-all. The upper portion, with shoe-size cubby holes, is the perfect spot to store specific materials for specific projects, like dyes to make custom curtains or fabric & supplies to make plastic bag organizers for a non-profit group.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Owl of the Week: Petite Purple Pitcher

Title: Petite Purple Pitcher

Adopted: Late Spring 2009

Material: translucent purple glass

Size: 4 inches tall, 8 oz. liquid capacity

Location: likely in the kitchen above the oven control panel, next to my grandma's vintage copper kitchen timer

Unique Characteristic(s): includes a slender handle on the back and a slight spout in the top rim, perfect for pouring pancake syrup or creamer for coffee

***This sassy new feature will be a weekly exhibit of some of the unique and charming owls I've been slowly accumulating. I'll also have the opportunity to experiment with photo design and image manipulation software. I'll gladly display for you some of the interesting results. Enjoy!***

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Gift for Grandma

To celebrate my Grandmother's blessed 80th Birthday, I embarked on a grand adventure, fraught with frustrations, perilous pin pokes, and broken sewing machine needles - but ultimately made of love and filled with joy and fond memories. I made my grandma a memory quilt - my very first attempt at quilt making EVER!You can see the charming results above. I collected baby pictures of her children and their spouses, grandchildren and their spouses, and great grand child. After scanning the photos into the computer, I chose to colorize all of the photos in a black and white scheme to compliment the fabrics I chose. White Pima Cotton and Black Cona Cotton accent the white-on-black & black-on-white Moda filigree fabrics bordering each of the family photos.

Over 50 years of my Grandmother's greatest treasures and accomplishments (her family!) are pictured on this memory quilt. And in memory of my late Grandfather, I hand-made appliques of baby red cardinals for family members I didn't have photos for. Crafted from felt, I hand stitched embroidery floss accents and outlines on each gentle birdy. To amplify the black, white, and red color scheme, I added a red satin border on the outer edge of the photograph panels to complement the cardinals.

After 4 months of sewing, ironing, and embroidering, the results may not have been sheer perfection, but sure joy was created in celebrating the wonderful life of my grandmother!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Crafty Quick Fix: Cake Decorating Short-Cut

Check out this crafty and ingenious technique my aunt used to decorated my cousin's birthday cake! Instead of whipping up another color of frosting and relying on a very steady hand to trace Pooh's outline and draw his face, she used mini chocolate chips as the outlining border!

This clever and quick method saves time and aggravation. No need to try and cover up any mistakes. Just re-apply the chocolate morsels! My aunt also added full-size chips to the bottom of the cake, where the frosting meets the serving tray. This visibly adds dimension to the cake as well as hides anything unsightly.

Here's a short list of other creatively cheats you can use to decorate cakes, cupcakes, or even gingerbread houses:
  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Mini M&M's or Regular M&M's
  • Pull and Peel Licorice
  • Butterscotch Morsels
  • Red Hots
  • Jelly Belly Beans
  • Cocktail Peanuts
  • Or any other variety of your favorite snacks and sweets!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

99 Spools of Ribbon on the Wall...

After a gracious gift of spools 'n spools of ribbon from my aunt, I needed a functional technique to store my cherished craft embellishment. Why not make it stylish storage as well?!?

With the clever help of my handy boyfriend, we designed this 2 foot x 3 foot freestanding storage rack for my collection of ribbon spools. Removable dowels hold the spools in place, allowing me to add more ribbon as I acquire it - much to my roommate's chagrin! My boyfriend lovingly constructed this piece for me on our apartment's tiny balcony. What a talented guy!

By using Minwax Water-Based Wood Stain in Island Water, the natural grain of the wood shines through, unhindered by the opaqueness of paint, and the dazzling blue hue makes it a welcome addition to any room in our home. Currently, it rests on a low bookshelf in our hallway, but we specifically designed it to be wall-mounted if space ever became a limited resource for us.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday's Feisty Feast: Jason's All-Occasion Pasta Sauce

I posted this recipe by special request from my little sister. She's perpetually on the hunt for quick and yummy recipes, ideal for the busy and ever-hungry college student!

The immense versatility of this recipe is two-fold: 1) Add any variety of meats, veggies, or spices when you're ready to serve this feast, 2) Serve up this sauce with Pasta-for-One or as a dish to pass at a large dinner party, and 3) Choose your favorite variety of fresh or dried pasta to douse in this sassy sauce!

Jason's All-Occasion Pasta Sauce

1-2 Green Onions, thinly chopped (onion powder may be substituted)
14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes (organic recommended)
28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes (organic recommended)
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic, heaping
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper

If jarring:
add 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Directions: On low, combine tomatoes in a medium saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon. If jarring for future use, add olive oil. If using all of sauce on same day, disregard olive oil. Stir in garlic. Add in onion and Italian Seasonings. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Stir often. Taste and season to preference.

If jarring, let cool and pour in mason jar. Store in refrigerator and use within one month.

To serve: Reheat on low in medium saucepan. Boil pasta as directed. Be creative and add any of your favorite combinations of meat, veggies, or preferred spices to Jason's All-Occasion Pasta Sauce. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, or Jason's Favorite, sliced Kalamata Olives!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My New Toy!

I needed a short break from blogging and from crafting to recharge those creative batteries and reclaim those lost spaces of my home that occasionally get swamped in crafting mayhem. Those die-hard craft-a-holics out there know exactly what I'm referring to! While on that craft-less leave of absence, I made one of my first, real adult-like purchases - my first sewing machine! :)

After scouring customer reviews online, checking out Consumer's Reports, and getting helpful tips from a seasoned sewer in the aisles of Jo-Ann Fabrics, I finally settled on this Kenmore 15343 Model. At an affordable price (under $90!) and with many beginner and experienced crafters singing its praises in customer reviews, I couldn't resist the allure of this sleek machine. When you ease your foot onto its pedal, you can just hear this baby purr!

With summer finally here, I won't be posting as often as I did in June. But do check back often to see how I put my new toy to use! I'll also continue to post random recipes, sources of inspiration, and photos of my finished projects.

Keep this site bookmarked so you too can see just What A Joy you can have when you too let creativity take over!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get Lost!: At the Farmer's Market

Gorgeous sunny days and enthralling summer thunderstorms mean only one thing: ideal weather for perfecting produce. And the best place to purchase the best local produce is at your local farmer's market.
You'd be surprised at the bounty of goods available at most farmer's markets. Sure, fresh fruits and veggies are expected, but anything from fresh baked goods to locally produced honey and honey-made products are usually available for purchase. Even gourmet dog treats and hand milled goats milk soap can be purchased at farmer's markets!
Although its a bit early in the season for most fruit and vegetable delights, check out for harvest times in your area. My boyfriend can't wait for the local sweet bell pepper harvest to ripen. We're already collecting recipes to try out with the freshest local ingredients available. I encourage you to let the fruits and veggies of the season inspire your next menu. Not only is it cheaper to purchase produce when its in season, but you're also supporting the local economy and you're providing your family with a healthier, fresher option.
or some simply yummy recipe ideas, several reads are now on the market specifically written with the farmer's market shopper in mind. We've been going green and saving a little money by using some of the titles available at our local library. Better Homes and Gardens has a few older books available, but one book I'd love to get my hands on is "Fresh from the Farmer's Market" by Janet Fletcher. Some of the reviews on Amazon claim her recipes are a little too restrantry and sophisticated, but I'd love to read what shopping tips she provides.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Post Revisited: Thrift Store Candelabra

Not long ago my wonderful boyfriend made me a romantic dinner. Anybody can cook someone dinner, but it was the little touches that made it the ultimate, romantic meal for us. Not only did he set the table with our new dinnerware from Target by way of the thrift store, but he surprised me with a candlelit spread. And not just any candlelight, but rather candlelight provided by our beautiful thrift store candelabra. He hunted down the perfect red glass votive holders to complete the look. On top of all that, he rigged up a contaption to be able to hang this beautiful lamp over our table. What a lucky girl I am!

Check out the before and after pictures below!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Crafty Quick Fix: Ribbon Calla Lilies

One of my aunt's was kind enough to donate to my card making and crafting efforts, a Hefty bag full of dozens of spools of ribbon in all sizes, colors, and types. My challenge now is to find new was to utilize and incorporate ribbon into more and more projects. is a great source to find new and unique uses for ribbon. I found a simple but charming tutorial for making Calla Lilies (my sister's favorite!) out of ribbon from Posh N Pretty.

Modifying the tutorial provided there, I created this picture frame. Instead of using hot glue to secure the folds of the ribbon, I used a needle and thread to hand sew them together. It prevented me from burning myself on a hot glue gun and it allowed a little more adaptability! Ribbon accents stripe the wooden frame in coordinating colors and bring a feminine touch to a natural frame.

In contrast to the elegant ribbon version of the Calla Lilly, I used the exact same tutorial to make origami lilies out of paper for a sympathy card. Green ribbon was still utilized to make stems for these lilies. The stark purity of the white flowers against this black background visually evokes the same sentiment of the cards written message.

By changing the color of the card's elements, you could easily create a cards to celebrate almost any occasion. Pastels to celebrate a baby shower. Metallics in silver or gold to commemorate a wedding anniversary. Deep jewel tones to recognize a friend's birthday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday's Feisty Feast: Grandma's Tropical Carrot Cake

Celebrating the June birthday of my boyfriend found me consulting my very talented Grandma for a recipe to make his favorite dessert - carrot cake. Her unique recipe uses the juiciness and sweetness of crushed pineapple to create a moist, delectable delight. Traditional cream cheese frosting swirled with walnuts presents a perfectly irresistible topping for this tangy, tropical treat. Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers.

Grandma's Tropical Carrot Cake
1 c White Flour
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 c Brown Sugar
1 c Honey
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 can of Crushed Pineapple with its juice
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 c Chopped Walnuts
4 slightly beaten Eggs
1 1/2 c Vegetable Oil
2 Grated Raw Carrots
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs & oil, mixing well. Add carrots, honey, pineapple, and nuts. Thoroughly combine all ingredients. Pour mixture into the cake pan and bake 50-60 minutes. Allow cake to cool before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting with Walnuts
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 c Butter, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 lb. Powdered Sugar
3/4 c Walnuts, chopped
Using a hand mixture, combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added and well combined, use a spatula to stir in the chopped walnuts. Once the walnuts are thoroughly distributed, proceed with frosting your cake.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Get Lost!: In the City

Great architecture and classic design share a distinctly unique relationship. They can play off of each other, influence each other, and inspire each other much to our aesthetic pleasure. For the cost of a bus fare, metro ride, or parking meter, you too can enjoy the hidden beauty which lies in any urban setting. Grab your camera and capture your favorite shapes, patterns, architectural elements, and design motifs. Challenge yourself to be inspired by them for your next craft project. Or better yet, take some artsy photos, blow them up and have them framed. Give them away as housewarming gifts to new neighbors or present them to old friends that move away so that they may have a lasting memory to cherish and admire.

Check out some of the shots I collected on a recent trek into the urban jungle!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Salvaged Parts: Deconstructed Jewelry

If you're looking for a quirky, low cost way to spice up your cards or add a little bling to your scrapbook pages, hit the thrift store, check out some rummage sales, or rifle through the closet of a family member. Old, unwanted, or broken jewelry can quickly and easily be salvaged for usable charms, chains, and beads. I especially love deconstructing vintage earrings - that way I can make two identical cards using the same design element!
Just look at the treasure trove of inspiring goodies I purchased this weekend from my aunt who sells vintage jewelry. Ideas are already swirling in my head on how to design cards and gift tags inspired by my salvaged parts. Stay tuned to see what I come up with!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

If You're Going to San Francisco...

We spent the weekend celebrating the nuptials of some very dear friends of mine. The ceremony was touching, the bride was beautiful, and reception was impeccable. And we finally had gorgeous summer weather! Yay!

To mark this exciting occasion for Mr. and Mrs. Love, I did what I do. I thought outside the box and came up with a creative wedding gift no one else was sure to copy. I bought the newlyweds a giftcard for their favorite restaurant, Chipotle. And knowing their honeymoon destination (San Francisco and Napa) ahead of time, I got the addresses to all the Chipotles in the San Francisco metropolitan area. How clever! They can share a honeymoon burrito on us!

As detailed oriented as I am, I also designed a San Francisco themed card to enclose the giftcard. Using ribbon, I made a layered tri-fold card, featuring some of the most recognizable sights and landmarks of the San Fran area. Alcatraz, trolley cars, steep hills, and the Golden Gate bridge almost seem to come to life on this one of a kind card.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday's Feisty Feast: Icebox Omelette

Today's culinary delight is as versatile as they come! I've affectionately named this one "Icebox Omelette" because it's a great way to clean your fridge out of leftover vegetables, meats, and cheeses before going out of town. It's versatility also shines through in the fact that omelette's can be created with customizable ingredients to suit individual taste preferences. Vegetarians and meat lovers alike can easily share this same meal too! You can serve one to one-hundred people at any given time, without any added complexity. And thanks to the heartiness of protein-loaded eggs, this meal can easily be served for lunch or dinner. Eggs are not confined to just breakfast anymore!

Icebox Omelette

2-3 Eggs per Omelette
Olive Oil
Filling: Approx. 1 cup total of your favorite vegetables, meats, and cheese (or whatever you have leftover in your fridge)

Suggestions: Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Green Onions, Minced Garlic, Black Olives, Mushrooms, Italian Sausage, Diced Ham, Bacon, Pepperoni, Cheddar Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Feta Cheese, etc.

$*$*Money Saving Bonus: Choose your favorite pizza toppings. Make omelettes for lunch and a pizza for dinner using the same ingredients. Less waste and less trips to the store!*$*$


Dice all ingredients for the filling and set aside. Coat the bottom of a medium sized frying pan with olive oil over medium heat.
Add any meats and vegetables to the oil and saute for 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
Meanwhile, whisk together 2-3 large eggs in a small bowl, adding a splash of milk if you desire a fluffy omelette.
Remove the sauteed meats and vegetables from the pan and set aside.
Return the frying pan to medium heat and add the eggs.
Allow the eggs to cook undisturbed while the bottom begins to set.
Take a wide flat spatula and drag one small portion of the omelette to the center of the pan, allowing the liquid portion of the egg to run in and fill its space.
Repeat this step until most of the liquid has set.
Add your meats and vegetables filling to one half of the omelette, setting aside a teaspoon of filling for garnishing.
Layer on any cheese filling now and fold the bare portion of the omelette up and over the filling.
After about two minutes, flip the omelette and cook the other side.
Once fully cooked, remove from heat and slide the omelette onto a plate.
Garnish with extra filling and extra cheese.
Serve with your favorite variety of potatoes, breads, and beverages depending on the meal you are serving it as.

Breakfast: Hash browns, toast, and orange juice
Lunch: Potato chips, Italian rolls, and ginger ale
Dinner: Mashed potatoes, ciabatta bread with olive oil and vinegar, and red wine sangria


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Get Lost!: At the Zoo

Next time the kids are driving you nuts or you're just antsy to get out of the house, why not make a stop at the nearest zoo? (You can even threaten to leave the kids in the monkey house if they really start to get on your nerves!) Check out the Association of Zoos and Aquariums website to find a zoo near you!

The local zoo also makes for a great "stay-cation" this summer if the travel budget is a little tight. Don't forget to bring along the digital camera to capture some great shots of the exotic animals you're sure to come across. Go ahead and get inspired by the bright colors and bold patterns you see reflected in feathers, fur coats, and hides of the animals you encounter. Find your favorite pattern or color combo and let it inspire your next scrapbook page, homemade card, knitted afghan, or painted piece of furniture. Don't stop there. Let it also inspire your wardrobe and home decor too!

My personal favorite are the jewel-toned colors of the peacock. It's inspired me to work in peacock blue as an accent color in my living room. We already have sage green and dark brown in there. I can't wait to get a house of our own and paint an accent wall in Largo Teal from Benjamin Moore or Bosporus from Sherwin Williams. Throw in a few coordinating photo frames, candlesticks, and toss pillows, and you have a regal, nature-inspired living space.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Craft Quick Fix: Body Scrub Party Favors

At the end of last month my younger sister hosted a small gathering of friends to celebrate her 21st birthday. I am a wonderful big sister and I contributed homemade party favors for her guests to take home and enjoy. I used an idea I found on to make a scented body scrub that any girl will go ga-ga over now that it is flip-flop season again. Epsom salt provides gentle exfoliation while grape seed oil or olive oil moisturizes your skin to a smooth, touchable finish. You can even choose your favorite essential oil for a personalized fragrance. My boyfriend has even requested I try making a scrub for him in his favorite scent, pine-balsam! Check out the recipe here.

Packaging these favors are simply a breeze now that Ball Mason Jars have taken on a fun, contemporary design. Their new line, "Collection Elite", provides the perfect storage for all types of things. I used the small 8 oz. size for these gifts, but Ball Mason Jars also come in a larger 16 oz. Pint size. Their wide-mouth design and platinum lids are a stunning update from the Ball Mason Jars your grandma uses!

This project would lend itself to a number of uses: bridal showers, girls-night-out souvenirs, teacher appreciation gifts, brithday presents, etc. Design your own gift labels to suit your needs. Be creative and have fun with it.

And don't forget to make a little extra for you to use yourself!