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!