Saturday, April 25, 2009

Apple Pizza Pie

Ever the happy homemaker and ever the eager experimenter, I found a fab recipe for Apple Pizza Pie from King Arthur Flour. My boyfriend's favorite dessert is Apple Pie and I haven't quite gotten up the nerve to learn how to make a traditional apple pie, so I settled on this little recipe. Since I'm not sure about copyright infringement on recipes, y'all are just gonna have to email me or call me for this one. King Arthur Flour has graciously posted the recipe for the yummy crust used in this recipe on their website here.

Before & After Photos

I made this for Jason to take along to a meeting at work this week and it was a big success! And Jason's assured me I can make it for him anytime! I used Macintosh Apples for this recipe, it's our favorite. This could be served drizzled with caramel sauce (yum!) or coupled with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! And keeping with Wisconsin legal tradition, one could even serve it with cheese... Check out this article from the Wisconsin Law Journal. It used to be illegal for Wisconsin restaurants to serve apple pie without cheese! Ya gotta love the Dairy State!

And I can't wait to go Apple Picking this Fall! Imagine how even yummier this recipe could be with fresh Wisconsin apples! Jason's mouth is already watering.

Stayed tuned for the results of our very first blog contest!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Crafty Quick Fix: Kitchen Update

Last week along with the help of four young & talented cousins and one handy boyfriend, we updated this once washed out kitchen into a cozy, welcoming space. In under two days, we turned white, uninspired cabinets into masterpieces of antique charm. The simple procedure called for removing all doors and hardware before any painting could get started. Jason soaked and scrubbed the old, original hardware in chemical solvent to remove any old paint and buildup. The kids and I painted two coats of Macadamia Nut paint from Benjamin Moore over all of the doors and cabinet facing. After allowing that to dry overnight, we then applied an easy colorwashing technique to give the cabinets depth, contrast, and added color. This technique also hides any imperfections in old cabinets. I also found that kids (with proper supervision) are the perfect applicators for this technique, especially when you have more than one child to help! Randomness in strokes enhances the effect and what better way to achieve random than by enlisting a couple of unique individuals with unique styles to help?

See below photos for a step by step guide to colorwashing.

In the first image, you can see the drastic difference colorwashing made to the cabinets. The left hand door was only painted with the Macadamia Nut while the right-sided doors were given our glamorous colorwash treatment. And in the second picture: the end result - a beautifully simply update to brighten any one's day.


1 Gallon of Basecoat (More or less may be needed depending on the size of your kitchen)
1 Quart of Glaze (Found in the painting aisle of most fine hardware stores)
2 3 oz. Paint Samples (One a shade slightly darker than your basecoat and the other slightly lighter than your basecoat)
Paintbrushes (at least 3 - one for each paint color)
1 Softening Brush (like this one available at Lowe's or any inexpensive alternative with relatively firm bristles)

Day One

Step 1: Remove all doors, drawers, and hardware (hinges and handles)

Step 2: Apply basecoat(s) (and primer first if necessary) to all cabinet doors, drawers, and facing. A light shade like Macadamia Nut here works well, but a pastel blue, green, or yellow could also be used. Allow about 4 hours dry time between coats (more time if humid). Allow basecoat(s) to dry overnight before moving onto colorwashing.

Day Two
Step 3: In small containers, mix 4 parts glaze to 1 part paint for each of your sample colors. These samples are now available at almost any paint retailer and only costs about $4 each. You save money and you don't get stuck with lots of leftover paint. I recommend using plastic spoons for the 4 to 1 measuring and mixing only small quantities at a time. It's easier for the kids to handle smaller amounts and it easier to prevent heavy application on any one area of your cabinetry by overly eager Picassos.

Step 4: Create an assembly line of three people. Person A brushes on darker glaze. Person B brushes on light glaze. Person C uses softening brush to blend and give texture. I've found it helpful to demonstrate the process to each individual involved, so they know what important part their role is.

Step 5: Person A brushes on the darker glaze in random areas, using criss-crossing "X" motions. Only a small amount of glaze mixture is needed for each door/drawer. Only allow the person to use what paint is on the brush after one dip in the glaze. This too prevents overly eager Picassos. There's no need to cover every square inch of the cabinetry, as Person B will come in to help fill in spaces. Have Person A move down the assembly line, adding their glaze to each door/drawer.

Step 6: As soon as Person A finishes their first door/drawer, have Person B follow suit and use the exact same procedure only using the lighter glaze mixture instead. Fill in spaces Person A left free, but feel free to leave some of your basecoat color shine through too. Allow Person A to also glaze directly over some of the areas covered my Person A's fabulous criss-cross glaze work. Have Person B move down the assembly line like Person A.

Step 7: Person C will now come along and use a dry softening brush to blend the glazes and add texture and depth to the treatment. Like Persons A & B, Person C will use criss-crossing "X" motions all over the cabinetry, varying between long and short strokes. Random is key! Have Person C follow Persons A & B down the assembly line.

Step 8: Allow glazes to dry at least 4 hours. Assess your handiwork. Feel free to repeat Steps 5-7 if you desire a darker or more enhanced effect. Tip: Have kids trade rolls this time so that Person C gets the opportunity to apply glaze.

Step 9: After glazes have dried, reattach hardware and reinstall drawers and doors.

Step 10: Step back and admire your new space!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Inspiration: Thrift Stores

With the world faced with economic recession and unemployment rates on the rise (with even your favorite blogger searching for one of those non-existent jobs!), any opportunity to save a penny or two is welcomed with open arms. That's why I'm advocating to all of you to run (don't walk!) to your nearest community thrift store! Not only can you find some amazing bargains, incredible one-of-a-kind items, and hilarious nostalgia from yesteryear, you'll also be helping a worthy cause and the positive missions of non-profit organizations with your purchases! It's also one of the greenest ways to shop since you're reducing the production of new products, reusing new-to-you items, and recycling usable materials with the donations of your gently used items. Remember: one person's trash is another person's treasure!

Just check out some of these great thrift store finds I've recently run across:

1) I'm sure you recognize that big guy in back from a previous post about Inspiration. He's my Owl Coin Bank. And he's now watching over the small flock of owls I've found at some local thrift stores! Each one is distinct and special in their own right. And not a single one of them cost me more than $0.99 a piece! These will some day look great scattered among books on built-in shelves in a living room or personal library. (A girl can dream, can't she?)

2) This perfect set of brand new dishes was purchased for only $10 from Goodwill. Stores like Target and Kohl's often donate unsold seasonal or returned merchandise which are then sold at incredibly reduced prices. These will look great in a future dining room or on display in a modern kitchen.

3) This smattering of matching frames was all purchased for under $12.00 at a Goodwill. Sizes range from Wallet to 8x10 and prices ranged from $0.49 to $1.99 a piece. Sometimes it really pays to scour thrift stores for these one-in-a-million opportunities. I especially love the rich teal stain of the wood. It will make a great accent color in our living room. The frames can be used for photos or remnants of decorative fabric or even swatches of coordinating scrapbook paper or wallpaper. Endless possibilities!

4) One valuable lesson thrift store shopping has taught me, is that nothing is strictly as it appears and all things have untapped potential. When it was sitting on the shelf, this homemade welded wonder took a second glance to realize what a find this was! Picture this: an intimate dinner party with a few of your close friends, laughing over plates of Chianti-marinaded pot roast, and sharing stories by candlelight - candlelight that is being provided by this funky chandelier. Those six rings could contain glass-blown votive holders and be hung from the ceiling with a coordinating steel chain or placed on the table as a casual centerpiece. We've also considered using this in the kitchen as a pot rack hung from the ceiling. There's nothing like repurposing thrift store bargains!

And 5) This unusual find really caught the eye of my boyfriend, and no wonder! It's a candle wall sconce that uses a large magnifying glass to magnify the illumination of the single candle's small flame. How unique! This solid brass piece is one of two that I purchased as part of an early birthday gift for Jason. Once we find a proper home for them, we might silver leaf them to match our tastes and decor better. We love the eclectic-ness of them and are looking forward to using them in the near future!

Hope you found these thrift store discoveries just as inspiring as I have! Now run out to your nearest thrift store, Goodwill, or Salvation Army and happy bargain hunting!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Crafting for Charity

As I mentioned in the previous post "Martha Had a Little Lamb", I had been working on a project for the non-profit St. Paul's Childcare Center located in Winneconne, WI which provides childcare and education services for low-income families and residents of the village of Winneconne. These little lambs were presented to some of the students as an Easter gift. A cotton calico was chosen by my aunt for the bodies of the lambs, while a pink batik fabric was used for the inside of the ears. I made seven of these softies all hand-sewn without the aid of a sewing machine. I'm old school when it comes to stitchin' and sewin'.

I also decided to design my own label so that I can market my items some day in the future. I used a tutorial I found online to make my very own fabric labels, like those sewn into shirt collars or sewn into stuffed animals. I love how they turned out! I can alter the colors using computer programs so that they can match whatever fabric I'm using. Genius! I plan on incorporating this logo into every piece I create from now on. A girl has to get her name out there somehow!

Don't forget:
Got any ideas for a t-shirt (or tea-shirt!) you want to see made? Send me an email at with your design idea. It can include text or images or even just a simple description of what you want it to look like. Bonus points for wit and ingenuity!
The contest winner will be announced next month when they see their design made into a t-shirt and featured on this blog. The winner will also receive the one-of-a-kind t-shirt sporting their design as a prize.
Submissions must be received on or before Friday, April 24, 2009 to be eligible.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's A Tea Shirt... and a Blog Contest!

Once again the users of came through with an awesome tutorial on how to design your very own t-shirt. Sure there are plenty of do-it-yourself printer paper methods of making your own shirt, but this one is way more deconstructive and therefore way cooler to make! I got the idea from this tutorial on Crafster. It uses bleach to literally bleach out any image or text you choose to design. My wonderful boyfriend is a bit of a tea drinker, so I thought we'd be clever and make him a Tea- Shirt. Ha ha.

Playing off the old "It's 5 o'Clock Somewhere" gimmick used by college students, vinos, and alcoholics the world over, we came up with this shirt:

Any true tea lover will recognize the reference to English tea time which is traditionally served at 5 o'clock in jolly old England. The image of the teakettle and teacup was adapted from clipart we found. I'm still amazed at how clean the lines turned out on it. The text was a bit trickier to work out, what with its small scale and all. Next time I try making a shirt using this method, I'll plan on increasing the font size a bit.

Got any ideas for a t-shirt (or tea-shirt!) you want to see made? Send me an email at with your design idea. It can include text or images or even just a simple description of what you want it to look like. Bonus points for wit and ingenuity!
The contest winner will be announced next month when they see their design made into a t-shirt and featured on this blog. The winner will also receive the one-of-a-kind t-shirt sporting their design as a prize.
Submissions must be received on or before Friday, April 24, 2009 to be eligible.

Good luck!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Design Medley: Black, White, & Red All Over

An embarassed skunk.
A sunburned Penguin.
A Zebra with diaper rash.
A Nun rolling downhill.
A Newspaper.

Remember those silly jokes when we were kids? The ones we loved to tell but never got the punchline and delivery quite right? The ones grown-ups cringed during but laughed at anyway, causing us to aspire to be the next Bob Hope or Eddie Izzard?

Well, this Blog may not be about one of those jokes but it sure resembles them in a chromatic sense.

I've recently fallen in love with the color combination of red, white, and black. Its simplicity yet stark contrast lends itself well to a variety of mediums - home decor, scrapbooking, quilting, fashion, product packaging, etc. Here I've chosen to highlight some of the cards I've designed following this color palette.

My first two examples are made from embellished pre-fab cards. The same silver-striped notecard was used as the foundation for both. The first thank you card uses my ever favorite ribbon in red and a black & white printed paper in a large diamond motif. The fine lines of the striped card and diamond motif contrast well with the bold wideness of the red ribbon. The second thank you card was inspired by the card's sentiment "Thanks a Bunch" from a rub-on transfer I had. The large black & white floral print is positioned at an aschewed angle to make the striped card more pronounced. A red bejeweled floral charm was added to the flower bunch provided in the rub-on transfer. It adds a touch of elegance, inspires a three dimensional element, and ties in the large floral print a bit better.

Undertaking a mixed media approach, the third example I'm calling "Baroque Greeting" also takes advantage of the black, white, & red color combination. Although its difficult to distinguish in the image, the black and white background is actually achieved by weaving strips of paper together. I then layered on red accents made from paper, red jewel charms, and bead-strung wire. I used black ink to distress parts of the card. This was also my first attempt at hand-lettering on a card. I prefer stamps, rub-on tranfers, or computer generated text, but overall I am quite pleased with this card.

The final card in today's post is my favorite in this black, white, & red design medley series.

Look for future posts about my Design Medleys! Like Inspiration, I anticipate posting occasional montages that adhere to a design theme: color, pattern, shape, theme, etc. Sometimes I love a pattern or a fabric or a design element so much, I can't stop using it. It would be unprofessional to post the same thing over and over again... That's where Design Medley comes in!