Thursday, March 29, 2012

Photo Gallery

Last night I was at Michaels. I always check out the clearance tables, and last night they had some black picture frames that were a little bit dinged up. One was a 5x7 and one was an 8x12, and I got both of them for $3. Well, I was super excited because they were exactly what I needed to finish the photo gallery that I have been working on in my living room. I say finished, but it will probably always be a work-in-progress, because I will continually be updating and switching out the pictures and tweaking it.  I have already re-arranged the layout several time, but came up with something that I am happy with for right now.

The ledge shelves were built from Ana White's plans found here. They cost about $10 each to make, and were easy. As you can see below, they consist of 3 boards screwed together. We bought the boards already the length that we wanted, so there wasn't even any cuts involved. Jared and I built them together in about 45 minutes or so, and then I painted them black.

I didn't intend for most of the pictures to be black and white, but since my photography skills are seriously lacking, most pictures that I take of my girls look better that way. I like the look of it though, and it fits well with the subway art that I talked about designing here.

It definitely draws your attention when you walk in my front door. I am happy with the way things turned out, and I like how easy it is to switch things around.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Doll Crib

So, if you have ever read the title of this blog, you'll notice that motivate is part of it. I have the desire to create almost every day, and I find inspiration to create almost everywhere, but sometimes the motivation part is a little bit harder. Even though I have the desire and the inspiration for creating things, sometimes I don't have the time, energy, money, or know-how to actually complete a project. Other times, I simply have too many things on my list and so some of the projects that I want to do get pushed so far down on that list, that they may never get finished. Part of my hope in starting this blog was that it could help provide some of the motivation that I need to complete already started projects as well as to tackle some that I have wanted to start.

Today, was one of those days where the blog gave me the little extra push that I needed to finish up something. Two years ago for Christmas, we gave our Little Bug a doll crib that Jared built from Ana White's plans, and that I painted and finished up. I made a little quilt out of some scrap fabric and had intentions of making a mattress and a pillow, but ran out of time before Christmas and I haven't gotten around to it since. Today, because I wanted to post this project, I made it a priority, and headed downstairs. I used some scrap fabric and foam that I had in hand and in about 20 minutes, had a mattress and a pillow to finally finish the bedding for the doll crib. Although she had fun playing with the crib before I finished the bedding, she was excited when I showed it to her, which definitely made the extra little effort worth it.

Jared even went the extra mile and made the storage drawer for underneath the crib to store everything that a little girl might need to take care of her baby dolls.

And here is Little Bug trying to burp her baby before she puts her down for a nap. She had fun turning the tables and telling me to be quiet so that I didn't wake her baby up. (Poor girl does get reminded to be quiet a lot when baby sister is sleeping.) 

The crib was fairly easy to make. It was one of the first projects that Jared built using Ana White's plans. Because it was before the days of this blog, I didn't take any pictures of the building process, but the plans are very detailed and easy to follow. We were able to use wood that we had on hand to build it, except for the bars. He did have to make a quick trip to Lowes to buy the 1x2's. He did a great job, and I love that it is handmade using mostly stuff that we already had on hand. 


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DIY- Chevron Striped Pillow

When it rains it pours. The last 12 days have been one wild ride. Allow me to recap (or maybe just make excuses for not posting).

12 DAYS AGO- I catch a mysterious virus that knocks me out for nearly a week

8 DAYS AGO (around 6:00 pm)- I am finally getting home after a long 10 hour day at work catching up, when my phone rings. The conversation goes something like this:
    • Me- "Hello."
    • Ben- "Hey."
    • Me- "How was your ride?" (Ben is down south for a work conference and went for a mountain bike ride after it was over.)
    • Ben- "Uh, I think I broke my shoulder." (Wincing, with a voice full of pain.)
    • Me- "WHAT??"
    • Ben- "Yeah, I went down at the end of my ride. I think I broke my shoulder. I'm on my way to the InstaCare, but don't worry. I'll call you later."
    • Me- "HUH? What happened? Are you ok? Who's taking you? How did this happen? What were you doing?" (Just the kind of discussion a guy wants to have right after his shoulder and ego have been crushed and he's in agonizing pain.)
    • Ben- "I really can't talk right now. I'm with Brimy (a friend). I'll call you later. Love you."
    • And before I could say I love you too, the line went dead.
8 DAYS AGO (around 9:30 pm)- Another phone call. The verdict:
    • Separated Shoulder + Elbow Fracture + Forearm Hairline Fracture + Broken Wrist = one Broken Husband and one Sad Wife too far away to be any help
7 DAYS AGO- My high school hosts an annual Art Exhibit that I am in charge of. This year all of our proceeds go toward Chloe's Sunshine Playground (a 100% ADA accessible park we are trying to build in our community). I am planning on posting about this soon, so I won't go into any details here, but let's just say I logged in a 13.5 hr day at the school.

6 DAYS AGO- I say goodbye to my little brother. I will not see him again for 2 years (talk about an emotional roller coaster week).

3 DAYS AGO- Ben and I both get to speak in our church and I have to prepare a lesson for a Sunday School class full of 6 year olds.

So my life has been a little chaotic. I have meant to post. This little pillow has been made for the last 2 weeks and every day since I have finished it I thought I might find a minute and post. Fourteen days later, I finally found one. 

Without further ado (or excuses) I give you the...

Chevron Striped Pillow
The dimensions for this pillow are for a 20"x20" pillow. 
The Finished Product
1/2 yd  45"woven cotton fabric
3/4 yd 45" coordinating woven cotton fabric
(This will also be used for the two pieces that make the envelope closure on back)
20"x20" pillow form
rotary mat, cutter, and ruler (not necessary but extremely helpful)

Cutting Directions:
Cut 18- 4"x 4" squares from 1/2 yd fabric
Cut 18- 4"x 4" squares from 3/4 yd fabric
Cut all 36 squares in 2 equal halves diagonally creating 72 triangles. 
Pic 1- Cutting, pinning, stitching, and pressing steps for
individual squares.
Cut 2- 15"x21" rectangles out of the remaining fabric from the 3/4 yd (the 15" length should be parallel with the selvage edge). 

Sewing Directions:
Take one triangle from each kind of fabric and pin right sides together along the diagonal edge. (Pic 1- top right)

Using 1/4" seam allowance, stitch together, remembering to backstitch. (Pic 1- middle right)

Repeat on remaining triangles until there are 36 squares once again with each square containing one triangle from each fabric. Press all your seams open. (Pic 1- bottom right)

Lay out your squares so they make the Chevron design, or be creative and feel free to make your own pattern. (Pic 2- top left)

Pic 2- Laying out design, pinning rows, stitching rows, and
pressing all seam allowances.
Begin pinning together your top row going across the pillow. Make sure you are pinning the squares right sides together. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch each square together in row. (Pic 2- top right, bottom left) Press open all seams.  

Repeat on remaining 5 rows.

Once all rows are sewn, pin the top row to the 2nd row right sides together making sure to match up seams exactly. Stitch together using a 1/4" seam allowance. (Pic 2- bottom middle) Press seam open. 

Repeat until all 6 rows are sewn together, creating a 21"x21" pillow top.

To create the back and finish the pillow top, you will be creating an envelop opening using your last 2 rectangle pieces.

There is an excellent tutorial on Sew 4 Home for the envelop back method for pillows. I'm going to send you there to finish, because their directions are stellar and I don't think I can top what they've done. You will want to skip to past step 7 to the At Your Sewing Machine and Ironing Board section on their tutorial.

Pheww! Marathon post! Let me know if there are any questions or problems with the tutorial.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easter Lilies & Paper Lanterns

I love how the internet makes sharing decorating ideas so easy. I also love paper crafts because they are such an inexpensive way to make holiday decorations. I have seen many cool paper lantern and origami projects out there, and have many pinned to my project board, but I have only tried a few. So, here are my inexpensive paper Easter projects from this year and last year.

I actually made these lanterns last year using this tutorial.

They were a little smashed after being stored in a box all year, so I cut some card stock strips to help them back to their original shape.

I also made these lilies last year using this tutorial. The stored much better than the lanterns and didn't really take any fixing.

The subway art is from here. The pastel colors went perfectly with the Easter decorations that I already had. I just printed it from my computer and put it in frame (painted white)  that I already had. The blocks are leftover pieces of 2x4's that I painted and put vinyl letters on. Any other decorations came from after-Easter clearance sales.

And that is the extent of my Spring/Easter decorating for the year. The picture doesn't quite do it justice. I have very limited lighting options in my living room and very few photography skills, but it is bright and cheery and makes me happy that we are having a nice sunny day.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nic and Dave's Salsa

My husband and I love chips and salsa. Recently we decided to begin a quest to find the perfect recipe. We tried a few different recipes online but none of them were quite right for our tastes. So we decided to figure out our own recipe. It's super simple but delicious. It does have a bit of a kick. The measurements on the side (in cups) are about what they were cut up, they are by no means exact amounts, but it's a good ballpark number. Be careful when working with the peppers. The juices can irritate eyes or skin after handling them.

2 Jalapenos (2/3c)
1 Serrano (about 1/6c)
1 Yellow Onion (1 1/2c)
9 Roma Tomatoes (4 1/3c)
Cilantro (1/3c)
Garlic (3-4 cloves)
White Vinegar (just under 2/3c)
Lemon Juice (add to vinegar to make 2/3c)
Tomato Sauce (3oz)
Salt and pepper to taste

Dice up peppers, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro (I use the pepper seeds, I like the added spice. For a little less spice remove seeds). Put into pot. I tend to chop everything by hand, it does take a little longer but my husband and I like our salsa with some chunks. We've found when we did it in a food processor or blender it was too saucy, but either way works. Mince garlic into mixture and stir everything together.

Add vinegar and lemon juice to mixture and bring it to a boil. Once boiling lower to a simmer until salsa reaches desired consistency. The longer it cooks the more saucy it will be. Don't worry about the faded color. It will look better after the tomato sauce is added.

After desired consistency add tomato sauce to thicken the salsa. Allow to cook on low for 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.


-Nicole & Dave

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beadboard Wallpaper Love

I have done a few projects now with beadboard wallpaper. It is pretty inexpensive ($15-20 a roll), fairly easy to use, and can create some great spaces/things. I covered some diaper boxes for Johana's room for organization and was going to do the exact same thing for my nursery. Then I saw a partial roll of beadboard wallpaper that I had leftover from covering the ceiling in the playroom, and I wondered if it would work to cover cardboard boxes. So I took some diaper and wipe boxes, cut off the flaps, and set to work.

I used my rotary mat and ruler to cut a separate piece for each side. I followed the directions on the wallpaper for and made sure to try and let as much water drip off of it as I could before I put it on the box. I had better luck just doing one side at a time. I would put the wallpaper on and make sure that it laid flat until it had dried. I also had better luck if I left a slight overhang on the long sides. Once they dried, I folded them over and hot glued them down to keep it tight. I also ran some hot glue around some of the edges that didn't seem to stick as well, pulling the paper tight as I did so. Then on the short sides, I cut the wallpaper just a little bit shorter than the side and overlapped the flap that I had already glued down.

Here you can see there are a couple of wrinkles because all of the edges didn't stick. This is what I tried to fix by hot gluing the edges down.

To create a basket liner look, I took some cute scrapbook paper and cut it into 4" strips, and then Modge Podged it across the top. I also left a litte overhang to fold over the top of the box. Again here, I had better luck just doing one side at a time, letting that dry, and then moving on to the next side.

Because the paper I used was only 12" long, I overlapped multiple pieces to get it to go around the entire box. Most of the wrinkles fell out of the paper as the Modge Podge dried, and although they are far from perfect, it was an inexpensive way to get some cute storage containers.

Because these boxes are going on closet shelves, you won't really be able to see inside of them, so I didn't worry about covering the inside at all. I think for the next few that I cover, I will make the overlap on the top a little bit bigger so that the scrapbook paper covers a little bit more of the inside.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quiet Book

I have always wanted to make a quiet book. For a long time, I had different ideas going through my head and tried to picture the way that I wanted to do it. Before I actually started I was able to look around at some of the others that had already been made for other great ideas. It took a long time to figure out the logistics and a long time to put it all together. It was worth it though. I like the way that it turned out, and it has definitely been a good church activity for a little girl.

I used canvas for the pages. I cut rectangles out of a canvas drop cloth the size that I wanted the pages to be plus a 1/2 seam allowance on each side. I actually drew the seam allowance lines on so that I knew where to end what I was putting on the pages. I ended up using a combination of paint, felt, and foam to create each page, and then used both magnets and velcro to attach the pieces. When I finished the individual pages, I decided which order I wanted them in and laid them all out. I took the page that I wanted to be the first one, and sewed it right side together with the second page leaving the side open that would be binded to the book. I then sewed page 3 to page 4, etc. I then turned them right side out and used a 2" piece of felt to finish the raw edges. I placed 3 grommets in the overhang of the felt and used 3" binder rings to attach all of the pages together.

Page 1: As you can see is still not quite finished. (a year plus later) I still plan on adding some leaves for fall, and a tent and a campfire for summer. The season names are attached with magnets so they can be taken off and on.

Pages 2 & 3: A barn with finger puppet animals and a duck pond. I got the barn and finger puppet patterns from Homemade by Jill. They are free on her blog. I traced them onto my canvas with a pencil and then painted in the lines. I used felt for the barn doors, the pocket for the animals, and the animals. I also got the idea for the duck pond from her blog, but made up my own pattern for that. I planned on adding some more details to the pond, but haven't yet.

Pages 4 & 5: Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. I used foam sheets to cut out all of the pieces for this page. I originally used magnets to put the pieces on, but they didn't stick very well to the foam so I added velcro instead. For these patterns, I just found an image of the actual toy online, scaled it to be the size that I wanted, printed it out, and cut out all of the pieces to trace onto my foam.

Pages 6 & 7: Color wheel and crayon box. I wanted a fun way to practice learning colors, so on one side I painted a color wheel and on the other I made a crayon box to hold the different color crayons. She can pull them out of the box and match them to the corresponding color on the wheel.

Pages 8 & 9: Doll and wardrobe. For these pages, I made up the patterns myself. I put a foam doll on the one page. She has fun curly fleece hair, and magnets to attach her clothes. The other page is a wardrobe with a pocket and doors to keep her clothes. I have been lazy on this page too though, and have still never made the shoes, soccer shorts, or any other clothes.

Pages 10 & 11: House and tree. I thought that it might be fun to have a house with windows and a door that opened up to pictures of my little girl, our family, and her grandparents. I drew the house on, painted it, and then sewed on felt shutters and a door so that they would open, then I sewed a small pieced of clear plastic into each opening to create a pocket so that I could slide the pictures in. The tree pattern and apples are from Homemade by Jill. 

Page 12: Noah's Ark. I drew and painted the ark on, and then sewed a brown felt piece on to create a pocket for all of the animals to fit in. For the animal patterns, I found images that I liked online, printed them, and cut out the pieces to trace onto felt. I then used felt glue to piece them together.

Page 13: Under the Sea. This page was cooler in my head. It did not turn out like I wanted it to. I wanted it to be more of an "Eye Spy" type of page, but ended up with a clear bag full of sea animals that is too thick to stick on the page. She does have fun playing with and naming the animals though.

Pages 14 and 15: Shape page. For these pages, I wanted to help my little girl learn her shapes, so on the one side I painted the shapes on, and on the other page the shapes are part of a bigger shape. She can pull the shapes out and match them up on the other side.

Pages 16 and 17: Driving map. I thought that it might be fun to create a little city with roads for her to drive toy cars on. This is another one that I just kind of made up the pattern as I went, drawing it on with pencil first and then painting in the details. On the right side I sewed in some felt pockets for her to keep her cars in.

Page 18: Lady bug counting. On this page, I painted two lady bugs on leaves. I put velcro on their spots, and then cut out foam circles to put on the velcro. I put vinyl numbers on each of the circles, so that she could learn her numbers as she pulled them off and on.

That's it. That's my quiet book. In the past 14 months, it has helped us make it through many church meetings, and it has been great to have. I don't know that I am ambitious enough to make more quiet books in the future for other children, but the pages are removable so that they can be shared.

Here are a few links that I found helpful for ideas:

Homemade by Jill
Oopsey Daisy


Linking to: Creative Itch.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Grandma Ruby Hall's Famous Noodles

I love soup. And by far my favorite part of soups are the noodles. A couple of years ago my Grandma Hall gave all of the girl cousins a index box full of family recipes with some information about different relatives on the back of each card. It has been such a fun present to use. A couple of months ago I decided to try making Grandma Ruby's noodles for some chicken noodle soup. They turned out really good and are super easy to make so I decided to share the recipe. I normally double the recipe when I make it because noodles are the best part of the soup, but here is the original recipe:

1 beaten egg
A little salt (I usually do two pinches)
1/2 eggshell twice full of milk or water (3Tbs)
A pinch of baking powder
Enough flour to make a soft dough (about 1 3/4c)

I normally mix the dough by hand gradually kneading in the flour.

The dough should be soft not sticky.
Roll out the noodle dough to desired thickness (about 1/8")

Cut the dough desired width (I usually do mine about 1/4")

A pizza cutter works great for cutting noodles.
Place noodles on dish towel or on cooling racks to allow them to dry for several hours
(If there is not time for them to dry they can be thrown into soup doughy. The noodles will just have a texture similar to dumplings.)
The noodles before they dried.
Noodles after they dried for a a few hours.
After noodles are dried throw them into boiling soup and cook until tender. I prefer to cook mine separate and then add them to the soup. They don't take too long to cook, anywhere from five to ten minutes. They will grow a bit bigger when they are cooked.

Cooked noodles
This time around I made a vegetable beef soup to put the noodles in and it turned out great.



Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Photo of the Day- Dust off those cameras!

So doing the February photo of the day challenge from Instagram made me realize what a slacker I am. I've used my camera phone 28 of the last 29 days in February, number of days I used my 7D- six. And I call myself a photographer!

Three summers ago I spent a month in Scotland on a study abroad for photography. I learned the basics in Scotland and dedicated myself to learning how to really shoot ever since. But lately my photography has been neglected because Hipstamatic and Instagram are just too darn convenient.
Standing stones on the Orkney Islands in Scotland, they are older than stonehenge. The one time in my life I've ever gotten up at four in the morning to take a photo :)

So for March, I am upping the ante. I am taking actual photographs with an actual camera each day of the month. (I know, it's a crazy plan.)

I have come up with my own March Photo of the Day Challenge. I chose a theme for the day rather than something incredibly specific, so get creative and build those photography muscles.

Use Instagram or your phone if that works best for you, but I'd like to encourage everyone to dust off their cameras and put away the smart phones for a couple minutes each day. Your camera misses you!

Feel free share any suggestions or links to your pics. I'll make sure and share mine too. I might even get ambitious when I edit and create some Photoshop actions to share. Happy shooting!

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