Monday, September 30, 2013

Scrapbook States!

You may have noticed by now that I really love maps, especially outline maps.

If you haven't noticed, there's plenty of proof here and here. There are so many amazing home decor projects on blogs out there but very few of them are possible for those of us renting. This isn't a huge project by any means, but could definitely add some color to plain beige, unpaintable, apartment walls. The secret? Removable glue dots. Those things are tiny dots of magic that hold forever and come right off when it's time to move on.

You will need:

Scrapbook paper, leftover scraps work great
a large map printout
removable glue dots

Print out your map. I believe the link included above is a public domain map. I printed it out over multiple sheets using Microsoft Paint because I'm high-tech. It seemed to work best printed in landscape, 3 sheets across and 3 down for a total of 9 sheets. Tape the 9 sheets together and cut out the large outline. I had to sacrifice Alaska and Hawaii in this... sorry.

Cut out each state from the big map and use as a guide to cut the state from the scrapbook paper. I didn't find it necessary to trace them beforehand. Helpful hint: As you cut out the states put them back together like a puzzle on a cookie sheet, it'll be much easier to transport them from your work space to the wall where you want to mount them. This whole process took about 2 hours, but I got distracted frequently. Thanks Netflix.

Add a glue dot or 2 to the back of each state and put 'em on the wall. I kept a quote on the wall with them for at least 9 months in my Montana apartment and when they came down they left no residue whatsoever. Not even a grease spot like sticky-tac tends to.

Basically, I hold a little bitterness to the New England area right now but I'll get over it.

If you invest in removable glue dots now, I've got some seasonal decorations coming up that will be able to use them as well ;) What are your favorite temporary decor projects? Any tricks up your sleeve for making a rented home feel homier? I'd love to know!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Small Batch Apple Butter

On a scale from "I could explode" to "I'm a robot and have no feelings," how excited are you for Fall to be here?

I'm pretty darn excited, but I'm not quite ready to jump on the pumpkinize everything bandwagon. That will come soon I'm sure. In the mean time, this small batch of apple butter was just the taste of Fall I was looking for. Since I live alone and don't know many people in the area, I didn't want to make a whole ton. Plus I mostly just wanted to use up a few apples that were getting past their prime. Ready to make your own? (I adapted this recipe from Sweet Style CA)

You Will Need:

-5 small/medium apples, I used Gala
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-2 tbsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp cloves
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp grated ginger
-a little lemon juice, if you're fancy

Put sauce pot on low heat while you are peeling and chopping the apples into small chunks. Add the apples to your pot as you chop them and stir occasionally as you go. I found it helpful to keep the lid on the pot when I wasn't adding apples so they steam could help tenderize.

After all the apples are added, stir well and add brown sugar and spices. Let simmer on low for about 15 minutes while you try to figure out how to work the immersion (stick) blender. Or real blender. Or potato masher. Whatever you've got.

Once the apples where good and soft, which is easy to tell if you taste one, pour the contents of the pot into a bowl or blender and mix until a smooth texture is reached. This is the first time I've used my immersion blender and it's a pretty stinkin' awesome little gadget, if you're thinking about getting one.

Next, put the apples back in the pot for just a few more minutes (about 10) on low heat with the lid off this time to help it thicken up. I forgot to add any lemon juice to mine like the original recipe calls for and so far it hasn't been a problem. I have a feeling that's meant as a preservative though so it might a good idea to put in a squeeze or two from a lemon and add more cinnamon to cover the taste.

It's all ready to slather on some toast and enjoy! Or just eat it from the jar. Let's be honest here.

Hope you enjoy this little taste of Fall. I have a feeling Greenville will be beautiful when all the leaves change colors so I'm excited to see it. What are you looking forward to most? Any traditions to help welcome the new season? I'd love to know!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Weekend Inspiration: Plastic Cards

RIP pretty Florida driver's license. As of this morning, my driver's license no longer pictures a beautiful beach scene in the background, and a picture of a very excited 16 year old Sheila in the corner. Also, 16 year old Sheila found a way to turn an "A" into a star in the middle of my signature. No regrets. Now, my driver's license has a big ol' palmetto in the middle, a picture that actually looks like me and a signature that you would see on an official document or check from me. All important things to update but if you've learned anything about me by now it should be that my sense of nostalgia is a major motivation behind almost any action.

In honor of surrendering the old state license to obtain the new, this Weekend Inspiration is plastic cards. By plastic, I mean old gifts cards, expired credit cards, the junk ones from the mail, anything like that you might have piled up around the house. Or am I the only one who holds on to stuff like that?

Can we just talk about how cool this is for a minute? I'm not even sure what to call it (tapestry? mosaic?), but it's made from plastic cards, and I like it.

I couldn't find a good link to the source for this plastic card map, but it's so impressive it needed to be included as inspiration.

If you play the guitar or ukulele you could be set for picks for life.

This earrings were made using plastic cards as a sturdy base.

These equally awesome earrings don't even try to hide their humble plastic card roots. (Linking to pinterest here because the original source is in Bulgarian. Not sure how helpful that would be to most of us. They look fairly self-explanatory.)

If earrings aren't your thing, how about this bracelet?

Paper clips! You can make fancy paper clips/bookmarks! This is possibly my favorite simple discovery.

And if you just don't want to deal with any of this, apparently there are ways to recycle them by just mailing them in.

Any exciting plans for this weekend? I'm planning to hang a bunch of pictures and add other homey touches. Maybe I'll buy running shoes... Any recommendations? Hope your weekend will be more exciting!  :)


Monday, September 16, 2013

New Apartment Tour!

I've now lived in my new place for just shy of a month. It's been an interesting month; I've had electrical problems, plumbing issues, and some other little things that have made me think it might be an interesting year. Aside from those things, I LOVE the location and the lay out. I thought it might be fun to give you a little glimpse of the empty apartment through this little video I recorded for a friend the very first day I was here.

It cut me off a little at the end (let's be honest, I wasn't even really sure I was recording). Since this video was made, I'm happy to say I now have a bed AND a couch. Because those are things grown-ups have. Still working on the rest of it... 

Any suggestions? I'd love to know what you think!


Monday, September 9, 2013

"Oooh, You Make Me Live..."

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I sure did! 

I met up with some of my closest friends from childhood. I met these girls in elementary school when we were all doing children's theater. Now we're all approaching the big 2-5 and I'm the only one who isn't a professional actress! It's amazing to have friends that are inspirations. It's a special friendship that survives across vasts distances and times to create inspiration. The inspiration to create. To risk. To be the best version of myself. To be the friend they deserve. Being able to get all 4 of us in the same place (heck, in the same state!) was nothing short of a miracle. It was pretty much the greatest.

I've come to the realization that I won't have as much free time in the next few months. Many events are on the calendar in my professional and personal life. I've made the decision to enjoy writing the blog but not stress about posting regularly. I may be trying not to stress about it, but I will probably still be posting at least a few times a week. Learning how to balance is a fascinating lesson and so far I need a lot more practice!

Any recommendations on time management? If you write a blog, how did you find your happy medium? Any friends who are inspirations to you!? I'd love to know :)


P.S. Aren't we just so stinkin' cute?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Make Your Own Crayons

How wonderful was your Labor Day? I'm going to go ahead and assume. Pretty wonderful. My Mom came to visit me to explore Greenville and help me get my new place a little more put together. We accomplished a ton and somehow it seemed to create all the more work. 

It made me think of when I was home just a few short weeks ago and helping Mom prepare for the start of the school year with her new Kindergarten class. We just happened to take pictures of that adventure if you care to make your own crayons, for a classroom or yourself.

You Will Need:
-Lots of crayons, old ones that are broken or unused are the best kind. Also, Crayola seems to melt the nicest.
-Molds, either candy molds or fun ice trays
-Empty clean soda cans

Start by peeling the old crayons using a knife down the wrapper. It's best to sort them by color while you're peeling them. It's fine to have a pretty broad spectrum of the same color but if you mix too many outside colors with this method the final color can turn out a little brown-ish. Break the crayons into smaller pieces.

After you're finished peeling and snapping crayons (which is oddly satisfying), fit as many crayons as possible into a soda can. Make sure the can is as full as possible or it will want to tip over when you place into a small pot of boiling water. This little hack makes what is essentially a disposable double boiler. Later as the crayons in the can start melting you can add any crayons that didn't fit into the can on the first go. It takes about 10 minutes or so to get the wax nice and melted. Make sure to use a pan that is not your favorite in case you accidentally get a little wax in there; it's not the easiest thing to wash off.

Mom collects blue apples and they are a part of her classroom theme so the blue apple crayons seemed like a perfect welcome gift for the new kindergartners. Once the wax melts, pour the contents of the can slowly into your chosen molds. Mom used an oven mitt at first but then decided the can wasn't actually that hot and just used her bare hands. I was too much of a pansy to touch it. I don't have that magic force field yet that moms get around their hands to protect from heat, etc.  The wax in the molds may start to dent slightly in the middle. That shouldn't matter, but if it bothers you pour in a tiny bit more wax to fill it. Put the molds in the freezer for about 20 minutes to let the wax harden.

Pop 'em out and you're done! If you get any spill over, it's best to let it harden and then gently trim it with scissors after the crayon has been removed from the mold. You can reuse the same can over and over for the same color. You probably shouldn't use whatever mold you used to make the crayons to hold food again...

We did this all the time when my sister and I were younger--Mom knows all the fun activity secrets. Have you ever made crayons before? Any other tried and true methods to share? I'd love to know!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

If today is a wonderful day of rest for you, I hope you're enjoying every minute of it. If you are in a field that doesn't give much attention to such holidays, like retail or restaurants, I hope you find an excuse to have a nice restful day sometime this week. 

If, like my Mom, you spent the long weekend making a trip to spend time with a loved one please drive safe today on your return!

I'm off to finish building the mound of Ikea purchases made this weekend...


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