Monday, December 15, 2014

Roasted Veggie and Butternut Squash Soup

I seriously considered naming this post "True Life: I'm Addicted to Soup." Once September hits and there is even the slightest breeze in the air I want basically every meal to be in soup form. This addiction lasts until about April when it starts to get a little too warm in South Carolina to pretend the addiction is justified.

Some soup can be great for you...these are not the soups I like. Give me cheesy. Give me creamy. Give me all things gluttonous. #noregrets Until my pants start fitting a little tighter. #alittleregret Then instead of foregoing Christmas cookies and festive coffee I look for ways to cut calories from the things I want to eat anyway. This roasted vegetable soup in the best of all worlds! It's so creamy and savory but FULL of good things. As an added unanticipated bonus, it's vegan, so you can feel better about your choices all around ;)

Roasted Veggie and Butternut Squash Soup

1 Medium Zucchini, cubed
2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, cubed
1 Small Sweet Onion, diced
4 Cloves fresh Garlic
1 Medium Butternut Squash, cubed
3 Cups Almond Milk
2 Tsp Thyme
1 Tsp Curry Powder
1/2 Tsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Brush a cookie sheet lightly with olive oil and spread your butternut squash cubes over it. Lightly brush olive oil over the cubes and season with salt and pepper before baking at 350 for 45-60 min. Prep another cookie sheet for your Zucchini, sweet potatoes, garlic, and onion. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and 1 tsp of thyme before putting them in the oven at the same time as the squash for only 30 minutes. The fact that both can be cooking at the same time makes it a pretty easy set up.

Once roasted, remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Transfer squash and veggies to a large pot on the stove top set on low. Make sure they are tender enough to mash slightly with a wooden spoon. Add 1 cup of almond milk. Use God's gift to soup lovers (aka an immersion blender) to start pureeing the veggies in with the almond milk. Add more milk as you blend until the creamy texture you're looking for is reached. Add in the rest of the thyme, curry powder, and cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the soup is heated up to the proper temp you're ready for practically guilt free creamy indulgence!

I wish I had carrots on hand to through in. I think that would be a delicious addition. Anything you would add? Do you also need a support group for soup addicts? I'd love to know!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Another Year, Another Trunk or Treat!

Last year, I gently forced everyone in my department to bust out their flannel for a Charlotte's Web themed Trunk or Treat. This year, we were a box of crayons inspired by the book "The Day the Crayons Quit." Children's book costumes ftw!

It ended up being loosely based on the book as well as traditional Crayola crayons; I thought going a little more recognizable might be easier to explain. I made a stencil from an old file folder to paint the shirts, covered recycled cardboard in dollar store yellow wrapping paper and green duct tape, and cut a few generic crayon shapes from construction paper for the logo in the center. It ended up being about $20, including the cost of the t-shirts, and taking about 3 hours, not including drying time.

The kids were adorable as always and definitely make any effort worth it. It was, however, FREEZING. And the wind was trying to tear everything apart, as you can see a bit in the above picture. Next year, I'm going to have to find a book that features igloos so we can all be in parkas just in case. Seriously. So. Cold.

How was your Halloween? Any ideas for a book I should use next year? I'd love to know!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What I learned from my First Garden

It's officially autumn here in South Carolina. The air has a sweet chill in the morning and the leaves have shown a touch of bronze. Coffee is being served hot instead of iced. I'm totally into it. Sadly, some of my plants from my first patio garden started back in April are not enjoying it quite so much.  I've learned a lot from this experiment. For starters, I actually enjoy gardening which was a bit surprising. A few other lessons were more practical and I figured some fellow ambitious gardening novice may actually be able to benefit if shared.

1. Not all plants are friends: I (stupidly) categorized all herbs as being friends. They can all live in the same container and have a sweet, happy herb party together, right? Wrong. Certain herbs, like mint, grow fast and aren't good at sharing. They tend to take over the space they're given with no regard for their flavorful roommates. So the mint got transplanted into a new pot. You'd think that would be enough for me to learn but no, I then found out that certain herbs don't even like to have the same amount of water in the soil. Lavender, apparently, prefers a fairly dry soil while basil likes a little more moisture. Putting them together, like I tried, would be like pairing together a fish and a cat in the same room and expecting them both to survive. Oh wait...I did that too on accident but that's another story (RIP Fancy). All the herbs that survived now have their own homes.

2. Not every blossom will produce: Every time I saw a flower on my zucchini or eggplant I thought to myself "YES. HERE WE GO." Every time. Every flower. Spoiler alert, not one zucchini actually grew all summer. It was disappointing but I've been told that was a pretty common issue in the area. It may have been a lie to placate me but I'll take it. I've heard there are ways to manually pollinate as long as you have both a male and female plant but heck if I know how to spot the difference between the two on a dang zucchini plant.

3. Pruning is more than pretty: I had heard of pruning before. I assumed it was mostly about the looks of plants. Because, you know, they're trying to attract those sexy female zucchini plants ;) Okay, not quite, but I did think it was about looks so I trimmed plants until I was happy with the size and shape and made sure they didn't take over the whole patio. As I'm sure the rest of humanity already knows, that was barely helpful in my gardening mission. The true reason to prune is to make sure the plant isn't wasting unnecessary energy and resources growing and supporting the wait of extra branches or leaves. Each plant has a different method that's recommended but in a nutshell, you want to prune to make sure the main stalk, sprout, shoot, whathaveyous, has enough nutrients before the plant has to worry about supporting offshoots.

4. Aphids are the devil: I can't even express my frustration with these gross little mini-demons. They have attacked a few of my plants and completely ignored others. Because sometimes I overly trust the world that things that suddenly appear must be a good sign, I didn't know they were a pest and I didn't immediately try to eradicate them. Because as you may have gathered by now sometimes I'm an idiot. Eventually I wised up and tried some homemade remedies. They worked okay, but I've had much more success with a product called Bon Neem. It's available at your local nursery, I'm assuming.

So there you have it. It's almost a little embarrassing to admit how little I knew about plant life in general before starting this project. I've gotten rid of a few of the strugglers who didn't like the cooler weather and replaced them with beets, parsnip, kale, and spinach. Don't worry, I actually did some research this time. But I am starting from seed so there's lot of room for error.

Are you planning a fall/winter garden? Any other tips that would seem obvious that you want to share? I'd love to know!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stitches the Pig

First things first, I would like to start this post by giving some amazing reason for my delay between posts. Like, maybe, I was abducted by aliens and just returned to earth. Or bite by a shark and my hands have ben recovering. But the truth is I've just been incredibly lazy at home/busy with work. It's a good thing because I love my job but I also love being able to share crafty things with the internet world. Did you notice the absence? No? Okay, then I'll just move on...

Part of the busy-ness at work has been planning our Piggy Bank Auction. That's right, we auction pigs. Bill Davis, from Thomas Creek Brewery here in Greenville, makes the bare pigs then local artists add their spin. This year I HAD to get in on the action! I wanted to do something that hadn't been done before and eventually decided I would crochet a pig. Because I'm that much of a nerd. 

I started with mini granny squares using remnant yarn, then I combined the granny squares and experimentally added on some ears using the corner spaces of two squares. I made the face by creating a small circle for the nose and crocheting only on the back stitches to make the edges. Stitches were added as they seemed to be needed until it was big enough to cover the whole face and be attached. Of course, the buttons and eyelashes had to be sewn on as well. Lastly I made another growing circle for the bum and little straps to go around the feet and connected everything together. 100% trial and error but in the end I really enjoyed how it turned out. And it sold! So that's a good sign, right?

Here she is in her social debut at the auction. Makin' that coin.

I never really think of myself as being an artist. To me, that seems like a title that has to be earned. Crafter, yes. Artist, not so much. It was fun to pretend though for the night :)

What do you think of Stitches? How would you make a pig if given the chance/choice? I'd love to know!


Monday, August 18, 2014

T-Shirt Pillows

Every so often, a shirt comes around that is just too great to be stored in the closet. You might try to wear it as frequently as possible to share the awesomeness with the world. After all that sharing with the world, eventually it starts to wear out. That, my friends, is a sad, sad day. This is a story of two such shirts.

Behold the awesomeness that is this pink Elvis t-shirt that was a Birthday gift from my best friend, and this Golden Girls shirt my Gram gave me as a Christmas present. I have had a slight obsession with both Elvis and the Golden Girls since high school, if not before. Yup. I’m so hipster I liked these things before it was cool to ironically like them. Adjusts unnecessary glasses and sips PBR.

They’re both made of very thin material and were starting to get a little worn over the years. I was worried that a hole would develop and it might be lost forever. The best course of action was obviously to turn these great t-shirts into great pillows.

You Will Need:

Nerdtastic t-shirts
Chalk or Pencil
Sewing machine (or needle/ thread/ perseverance)
Straight pins
Embroidery floss (optional)

Square Pillow

Lay your t-shirt flat and decide how much of the main image you want to be featured on your pillow. Take a deep breath and thank the inanimate object that has been worn so many times and started so many conversations. Tentatively, hesitantly, and mournfully cut the sleeves and collar from the shirt. Have second thoughts. Decide to continue and tell yourself you’re giving it new life. Cut up the side seams of the shirt and across the shoulder seems, separating the shirt into two pieces, front and back.

Turn halves inside-out, use the ruler and chalk or pencil to draw a square on the shirt featuring the design as desired. Pin the two sides together inside your lines. Carefully cut out your square.

Use your sewing machine to stitch around the edges leaving about 3-4” open at the bottom of the pillow. Remove the pins and turn it right side out. Stuff your pillow A little fuller than you think it should be; the filling will flatten out over time. You can also use a pencil to help get the stuffing all the way into the corners. Once it’s full, use a slip stitch to sew up the last few open inches. You can stop there OR you can add tassels. And when you have the option to add tassels, why wouldn't you?

To make the tassels, don't listen to me. I kind of just messed with embroidery floss until it worked. Seriously. Each one is slightly different. Since I can't be trusted when it comes to tassels, this tutorial will be much more useful. When they're finished, just run a few stitches through the center of the tassel into the corners of the pillow.

Circle Pillow

The circle pillow shares a lot of steps with the square pillow but you have to be extra careful not to tug the fabric while machine sewing the edges or you'll end up with a lumpy circle. T-shirt material is notoriously difficult because it is so stretchy. I used a lamp shade as a guide for a perfect circle because I'm a classy, classy lady. Don't forget to leave a few inches open to turn right side out and stuff. Afterwards, stitch it up and you're all done.

Any favorite t-shirts laying around that need a makeover? Do you know how to make a good tassel? I'd love to know!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Life Day 2014!

Do you know what today is? Today is the second anniversary of my car accident. Last year on this day, I retold the story of the car rolling off the interstate and me walking out (through the windshield) with little more than bruises and scrapes, with lots of pictures and details, and declared August 5th to be Life Day. It seems unnecessary to relive those details this time around but very important to hold on to the ultimate feeling of blessing, joy, and love. Life Day is a reminder to celebrate all the little things around us that make life special that can be so easy to forget and take for granted. It's especially impactful after having spent last weekend with four of my closest friends in the world for our annual Girls Weekend trip.

We just got back yesterday from our long weekend trip in St. Augustine, FL. We had an amazing weekend full of lots of delicious food, amazing adventures, and plenty of laughs. There was one moment in particular that hit me; all four of us were back in the hotel room eating junk food and playing Cards Against Humanity and suddenly we were all laughing uncontrollably. It just got out of control. I laughed until my sides literally ached. What about you ask? Nothing in particular. Just a series of words that all of a sudden were the funniest thing we'd ever heard. At that moment in all the laugher I was crying. Part of it was because of laughing so hard, the other part was because I just felt so incredibly complete around these women and thankful to be there to share it with them. Of course, I said nothing at the time or I would have totally ruined an otherwise hysterical moment with my excessively emotional ramblings.

Since my last Life Day I've moved to Greenville and have become happily settled. I've found a job that I love and created career happiness. I've learned to deal with a lot of the feelings that we were still causing trouble last year. I adopted the sweetest, cutest kitten ever (even if she is nipping at my toe at the moment because she wants me to stop typing and cuddle).  I've met some lovely new people and grown even closer to some already in my life. One bestie is about to have her first baby! Another just got engaged! My family continues to be loving, wonderful, and close even from hundreds of miles away. Big things are happening and I'm so grateful, especially on Life Day, to have the opportunity to take it in. And also, I'm grateful to be able to share it with a group of small but loyal readers and internet friends. Update: Smudge has compromised by cuddling on my shoulder and still letting me type with one hand.

I hope you have your own life day but under much happier circumstances! Anything you're particularly grateful for when you take a minute to think about it? I'd love to know!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Weekend Inspiration: Work Spaces

GUESS WHAT?! I got a new computer! Well, new to me. My old laptop has done me very well but at this stage in it's life it was starting to have some issues. I can't fault it. The technical status of this little 2007 MacBook is beyond vintage, beyond antique, straight into dinosaur classification. It's survived many a late night, 20 page paper writing session. It's had coffee spilled on it. It's been thrown from a moving vehicle IKidYouNot. Then it became the platform for everything posted on this little blog and has done quite well keeping up with the task. As much as I love that little machine, it was definitely time for an upgrade and upgrade I did! The new computer is excessively large but since it was a great deal on it-why not? AND that means lots more pictures of higher quality, more ability to edit them and be detail specific... so many possibilities! The only issue is that this monster of a monitor is way out of place at the moment sitting on my craft desk. The space is going to need some revamping and reorganizing to keep up. With this upcoming task in mind, the weekend inspiration is work spaces!

1. These shelves look like a super simple DIY.

2. Am I cool enough to get away with a quote wall?

3. Love me a good lookin' peg board.

4. A little dark for my taste but the idea of using wire hangers to display things is brilliant.

5. Empty cans? Check. Plain board? Check. All set to make this organizing set up!

6. I never would have thought of using a mug tower for something like this. Never.

7. The look of the stacked books to create the desk leg is gorgeous but not too friendly to re-readers. I guess that's the sacrifice made for aesthetics. Sigh.

Another work space challenge is this little one seen here cuddling with her arch nemesis, the giraffe.

She's been great about really chewing or scratching on things or getting into places where she shouldn't, but at the same time I don't want to tempt her by being overly trusting. She is only 4 months old. So finding a layout and system that is functional, inspiring, but not too kitten tempting is the criteria.

Any suggestions for a craft and kitten friendly space? And changes in technology you want to warn me about from 2007 to 2014? I'd love to know! :)


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Skinny (and Smudge!)

It's been a very busy two weeks! I say 2 weeks because that's how long it's been since I've posted... Sorry... A few big things happened though and I'd love to fill you in.

First, on Friday the 6th I went to an Etsy craft party at Due South Coffee hosted by Jessica of TinOiseux  and Brooke of Juxtaposition. These two lovely ladies know how to throw a craft party! I had so much fun meeting other crafty people and making a personalized Sharpie mug.

Next, I randomly picked the USA out of a bag as my World Cup team in the office contest. And we beat Ghana! I have never cared so much as about any sport as much as this World Cup. That last second goal by Portugal on Sunday almost gave me an aneurysm.

After that, we headed to Atlanta for the National Conference of Volunteering and Service. Y'all. It was inspiring, exhilarating, educational, and most definitely exhausting. It was WAY bigger than anticipated. My favorite session was a "fireside" chat with women with several women with highly successful careers discussing the lessons they've learned and mistakes they've made. It was incredible. I fangirled shamelessly.

Lastly, and most excitingly, I GOT A KITTEN. Her name is Smudge and she's 2.4 pounds of sweetness. A bit skittish, more than a little silly, but definitely the sweetest. Her favorite place to cuddle is on face. It's cool. I've already gone a little crazy with toy buying but the next step is obviously toy-making. I'll be the first to admit I haven't historically been a cat person but Smudge really picked me, and who am I to argue with that face? When I was at the Humane Society for another event I just happened to look in on the animals available. All the other kittens were going nuts from the excitement of the dogs and people outside. All except a little puff butt in the corner cage facing away. She looked over her kitten shoulder at me, got up, and walked over to lay down as close to me as possible. My heart melted and I knew if she was still there after I got back from the conference in Atlanta that it was meant to be.

What I didn't expect to happen is that I was actually really worried she wasn't going to be there when I got back. I called the Humane Society multiple times to check. I didn't even go home first when I got back into town, I went right there and picked her up. Now we've had a nice long weekend of quality time to play and bond. #BFFL

That's it! Lots of new things but all good. Now we're up to speed and ready for the next round of fun, creative posts. Who are you routing for in the World Cup? Any advice for this first time kitten mom? I'd love to know!


Monday, June 2, 2014

Hanging Herb Garden (The Unexpectedly Challenging One)

Last week we talked about 2 different pretty simple hanging planters. Now it's time to up the anti and bring on the macrame. Are you ready for this? *stretches arms in preparation*

When I worked with children back in the day, one little girl came in with a handful of twisted cord determined to make a bracelet like the ones the big kids made in art class at school. All she remembered from the older kid who was trying to teach her were the terms "snake" "lizard" and "tunnel." Filling in the gaps, I figured she must be talking about macrame. Soon all the kids wanted to learn how. The idea of teaching a bunch of boys and girls how to play with yarn was essentially a dream come true. The snake/lizard method was by far the easiest to understand.

That's the primary idea. The lizard will always go under the tunnel and over the snake and the snake will always be opposite of that. If you alternate which reptile goes under and over, then the knots will begin to twist. It's actually pretty cool if you're doing a long project but with just a few knots it looks messy. Just a tip, it's easier to tighten the snake and lizard if you hold the tunnel tightly. Once you've got the basic knot down, you're ready to move on to the planter.

6 Strand Hanging Planter

You will Need:

Small Pot filled with the sun-craving plants of your choice
6 pieces Nylon rope, 72" each
1" Steel welded O-ring (can be bought individually in store for 80 cents)
Lighter (optional)

I chose these pots from Lowe's for a few reasons: cheap, adorable, colorful, self-watering, light weight, annnnd immediately available.

The O-ring should be centered on the strands and secured with a pretzel knot.  Separate the strands into 3 groups of 4 strands. 8" down from the O-ring, you'll add 4 macrame knots into each group. 2" or 3" down from the macrame knots, tie a pretzel knot between the macrame groups using just the outside strands (the center picture). Gather all your strands together. You'll notice that the strands that were the "tunnels" in the macrame knots are a bit longer than all the others. A few inches  below your pretzel knots, grab one strand from each of the tunnel groups and pull them to the side. Those pieces are now your snakes and lizards to make a large set of macrame knots at the bottom of the holder. Knot to your desired length (mine is about 10 knots long) and then tie it off by wrapping all the strands in a pretzel knot. Pull each strand tightly, trim edges to desired length, and finish off with a quick pass of your lighter to keep the ends from fraying.

As mentioned in the previous posts, I wanted my hanging planters short so they wouldn't take up too much space on the patio. If you need longer ones, start with rope pieces longer than 72".

This one might take a little practice, but I think it might be my favorite. What do you think? Have you made one yet? I'd love to know!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hanging Herb Garden (The Ever-So-Slightly More Complicated One)

Remember that time when I promised to publish a series of tutorials on plant hangers? 'Cause that promise was just made yesterday. I'll be referring to it a bit in this post so you might want to check it out first. This planter was the biggest of the three but only took a few more minutes that the first. Lowes only had 2 of the small pots in colors I liked so I got the next size up in this lovely blue. This time there are 5 strands were cut to 108" each. B-t-dubbs, all 3 of these were made with one bag of nylon rope that was 100' total.

You will need:

Small Pot filled with the sun-craving plants of your choice
5 pieces Nylon rope, 108" each
1" Steel welded O-ring (can be bought individually in store for 80 cents)
Lighter (optional)

I chose these pots from Lowe's for a few reasons. As mentioned in the previous post they are cheap, adorable, colorful, self-watering, light weight, and perhaps most importantly they were available exactly when I wanted them.

5 Strand Hanging Planter

Start off by twisting 2 pieces around each other, like hair, for the top 10"-12". Keep that in place by looping the rope at the bottom of the twist and pulling the ends tightly (pretzel knot is still relevant!). 6" down from the first know split the strands of the pairs that were twisted together and pretzel knot them to their immediate neighbors. 4" from that second round of knots, you'll make another set of knots tying the strands back with their original partners. It's basically an on-again-off-again relationship like we've all seen before. 3" down, finish it all with a tight pretzel knot. You can see the whole thing a little spread out in the last picture if that helps for comparison.

I can already tell the sun is making a big difference. The picture below was taken less than a week after hanging the plants. Good thing the mint is in the big pot!

The good news is that the next planter (the one with the pink pot) involves more exciting things than just pretzel knots. The bad news is it's a bit more complicated. If you already know a few macrame knots, you're golden. If not, get ready for more of my made up terms that shouldn't be used in front of people who know what they're doing.

Are you growing any herbs? Anyone want to come over for mojitos? ;) I'd love to know!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hanging Herb Garden (The Easiest One)

Things have pretty temperate here in Greenville lately. Not too hot or rainy and just a little breezy. The long sunny days have encouraged keeping the curtains open as much as possible to let in the natural light. I noticed something that made me a little nervous: the sun was never reaching my herb plants. Obviously, that led to an instant panic that the plant babies were going to die any minute from a lack of sun. Something had to be done.

Macrame and I are old friends going back to the days of summer camp and friendship bracelets. I've seen all kinds of hanging planters on the interwebs and decided it shouldn't be too hard to combine the old skill and the "new" trend. I've been pleased with the outcome since the herbs seem to be much happier and the colorful hanging pots are more fun to see. Because each hanger involves so many steps, I'm splitting them into 3 posts to keep them from getting overwhelming. This first one using 4 strands took about 10 minutes to make.

You will need:

Small Pot filled with the sun-craving plants of your choice
4 pieces Nylon rope, 72" each
1" Steel welded O-ring (can be bought individually in store for 80 cents)
Lighter (optional)

I chose these pots from Lowe's for a few reasons. 1, they were adorable and cheap (that alone would be enough honestly). Second, they were light-weight plastic so they wouldn't weight down the rope or the hooks too much and the sun shouldn't be too drying or damaging. These pots are also "self-watering" which means the pots don't drain on the patio below and it should help protect them from drying out with the dramatic increase in sun. Lastly, I was already there and didn't feel like shopping around anymore. So there's that.

4 Strand Hanging Planter

It was originally hard to see the detail in the pictures with the white rope so I used different colored yarn instead. Also, there were no rings left so I used the ring from a plastic bottle. Because I'm classy.

The first step is to gather all the strands and feed them through the ring. Once the ring is at the center of the strands, you'll tie what I like to call a "pretzel knot." Warning: do not use that term in front of people who know what they are doing/care about technical terms or they will laugh at you. The pretzel knot is the only one you'll use for this whole planter. Just cross the strands over each other and pull through the center. It helps to pull each individual strand as tightly as possible after tightening up towards the ring.

There's now 8 strands that are a little less than 36 " long. About 10" down, tie pretzel knots in pairs. 5" from there tie pretzel knots again, being sure to split the strands that were just tied together and join them with their immediate neighbors (see why the colors made this so much easier to explain?). Lastly, 3" down tie another pretzel knot using all strands and tighten. Finish it off by trimming the ends and using your lighter to melt the tips to keep the rope from unraveling. That's it! Seriously, 10 minutes tops.

The planter is pretty short. Finished it's only about 20" long, which was perfect for what I wanted but you may want to make your ropes longer that 72" to start with if you're looking for something more. They're so quick to make you can experiment. Keep an eye out this week if you're interested in the others which will be titled "The Ever-So-Slightly More Complicated One", and then "The Unexpectedly Challenging One."

Do you think macrame hangers are back in style? Do you know the real name for the pretzel knot? I'd love to know!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mini Garden Tools

In a world divided by so many issues like politics and religion, I think we can all agree on one thing: tiny stuff is freakin' adorable. Babies. Puppies. Kittens. Tiny versions of big things are 100% cuter. It's science.

That said, these tiny garden tools have stolen my heart.

A friend at work recently asked me what I knew about fairy gardens. I knew they existed, but I've really only recently learned to keep plants alive for longer than a week. I have a VERY limited experience base, but as mentioned earlier, anything in miniature means I'm all in. Also, a while ago polymer clay was on sale at the craft store and I thought to myself "I've never used this and have no plans for needing it but it's on sale so I better buy one of every color." Because that's how responsible adults shop. This then became a quest to use the polymer clay for the first time AND make something tiny. Win-win.

You will need:

White polymer clay
Clay tools intended for children (because after buying all the unnecessary clay, why invest in reasonable quality tools?)  
Paint or nail polish or your choice, brown and silver used here
Black Sharpie
Black string or embroidery floss

The first step is to work the clay. Depending on what kind you have, it might take a while. I used a tiny bit at a time and worked in another chunk when the first was pliable. If your clay is super crumbly or stubborn, you can use a tiny bit of Vaseline on your fingers to help. When the clay is easy to mold and smooth, take a piece about the size of your finger tip and shape it into a rectangle.

To make both the trowel and the rake, start by very gently rolling the top half of the rectangle between your fingers to shape the handle. Use the rounded tool to create a dent at the end of the handle. For the trowel, continue to roll the rounded edge until the desired thickness is reached then trim the ends to shape. For the rake, use a cutting tool to remove tiny slivers from the flat end and create the prongs. Use a pointed tool or toothpick to create a small hole in the handle ends.

The watering can is a bit trickier. I started with 3 different sized pieces, 1 about the size of a gum ball, another the size of a lima bean, and the other was somewhere in between the others. The lima bean piece was flattened into a thin circle about an inch across. The biggest piece was rolled into a cylinder shape and then slowly, carefully hollowed in the center using the rounded tool and my thumb. This piece goes on top of the former lima bean piece. Lastly, use the medium size piece to create the spout, handle, and hood: a skinny tube for the spout with ball flattened on one side and dabbled, another short tube for the handle, and a flat semi-circle for the hood. The pictures should hopefully help all this make more sense.

The pieces all stuck to themselves well with nothing but light pressure applied before baking. I used a toothpick with a small clay "pedestal" to prop up the spout and make sure it didn't get droopy before it baked. Put all your tools on a piece of foil and follow package instructions to bake your clay. Fimo required 30 minutes at 230 degrees.

Once they're cooled they're ready to paint! I used an acrylic brown which went on very streaky and gave an accidental wood grain appearance that I love. Finding a silver was a little more challenging. The perfect thing was hiding in the form of metallic silver nail polish which has exactly the galvanized look I was hoping for.

One the paint dries, use a sharpie to add bands around the handles and nail details on the watering can. Lastly, add a short piece of black embroidery thread to create straps on the tools and you're done. Add them to any indoor plant to create a mini garden all your own. And marvel in their tiny, adorableness. 

Would you add this fun touch of whimsy? How would you personalize them? What other tiny things should we make? I'd love to know!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Weekend Inspiration: Lavender

I go home today! I'm so excited! This week has been much quieter after the craziness of the past week. The big event last Saturday went off without a hitch and actually set a new record for the number of people participating (#yay #success)! I've had time to pack everything up and prepare for a lovely Mother's Day weekend in Florida with the fam. While packing, I had to be very careful that any products included were scent-free since my Dad is allergic to perfumes and pretty much anything with a fragrance. Mom will occasionally sneak a light candle or hand-sanitizer but that's about the extent of pretty smelly things in the house. Now that I live far away, I've gone a little overboard with fun lotions, sprays, candles, perfumes... ALL the smells.

Do me a favor please and be sure to give your mother something with an extra lovely fragrance to make up for all the pretty scented things my Mom has given up over the years, just don't let her wear it around my Dad ;) One of my plant babies is a lavender plant that I can't wait to see blossom. With both these things in mind, a Weekend Inspiration theme with lavender was the only logical conclusion!

1. Homemade lavender bath salts (the relaxing kind, not the face-eating kind) would be a great way to relax!

2. While you're add it, might as well include some homemade soap.

3. Lavender sugar is definitely for people fancier than myself.

4. A simple dried bundle looks just as good as it smells.

5. Boozy lavender lemonade. 'Cause you know your Mom deserves a drink.

6. Lavender sachets that cam be used to calm or keep a draw smelling fresh.

7. Ice cream is always a good idea. Especially when it's blueberry-lavender ice cream.

8.  Lavender simple syrup for coffee and tea. Or whatever else you want to use it for. You do you.

Have you tried the lavender flavor and not just the scent before? How do you feel about fragrance? I'd love to know!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Weekend Inspiration: Mother's Day

It's been an insane week preparing for a huge work event. The good news is that because of all the extra time spent at work now, later there will be much, much less. Things will calm down just in time for me to take a quick trip to Florida for Mother's Day. I can't wait to spend the say relaxing and spoiling Mom! Here's a few of my favorite ideas for Mother's Day gifts from around the internet:

1. Can you believe this basket is made from paper flowers? Gorgeous AND long lasting!

2. These sweet topiaries are perfect for a Mom with simple, classic taste.

3. If your family is spread out all over the place, your Mom would loves this bracelet to reflect each person's location.

4. How charming are these mini-birdhouse key holders?

5. A DIY coffee scrub for the Mom who's all about the beauty products... and caffeine.

6. A fold-over clutch can be personalized for any style.

7. This flower monogram would impress any Mom!

8. Sharpie mugs have been around for a little while but would be a simple, customizable treat.

Have you already made or gotten your Mom something? Do you give gifts to other important women in your life on Mother's day? I'd love to know!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Start of an Apartment Container Garden (this could end badly)

Do you ever just get carried away with an idea? Usually, I thoroughly research before starting a project or making a purchases that could fail miserably. For some reason this time I just threw caution to the wind and came home with a sizable collection of baby plants and delusions of grandeur about a patio container garden.

For a beginner, it was bit ambitious but go big or go home I suppose. The collection includes strawberries, banana peppers, green bell peppers, and spinach, plus an "herb shelf" with mint, lavender, and parsley. Y'all. I went all in. But all in, in all the wrong ways. Just in case anyone out there is an naive about keeping plants alive as I am, I'm going to fill you in on all the mistakes and lessons so far so hopefully you won't have to make as many on your own.

For starters,there is a huge difference between garden soil and potting soil, which is probably insanely obvious to everyone but me. I didn't make this realization until reading the bag AFTER transplanting the first few plant babies. This was corrected the very next day with a healthy blend of potting soil and Compost Plus. Needless to say, I also had to grab some gloves since the Compost Plus is fresh off the dairy pasture...

Next, I had bought long, deep canisters called veranda boxes which don't come with the drain holes already popped out. You're supposed to do that yourself. I didn't notice until after filling the containers so fixing that took some fancy finagling. The herbs are in a smaller, shallower window box. Aside from the original drainage issue the boxes are great. They're heavy enough that wind doesn't bother them but light enough that I was able to move them inside when there was a freeze warning the other night.

The last lesson was on overcrowding. I had this image of lush, abundant garden boxes overflowing with edible greenery... I had put 4 pepper plants all right next to each other with about an inch inbetween before reading that they need some distance to allow roots to spread without competing for nutrients. Plants, like people, like their personal space. Who knew?

So in a nut shell: potting soil, draining, and space are the magic words. At least I knew enough to check how much sun they would need! After repairing the many, many mistakes, it was time to add the first personal touch with wood-burned plant markers. Oh, and did I mention they were free? Because starting a container garden is surprisingly expensive if you don't already have a ton of stuff on hand.

You will Need:

Wooden paint stirrers
minimal fear of burning yourself

The nice man at the paint counter of Home Depot didn't even make a face when I asked for 8 paint stirrers without buying any paint. The hardest part of this project is following the curves in letters. Straight lines are nice and simple but even the slightest of curves gets a little complicated. Write out the labels while waiting for the woodburner to heat up, then very carefully go over the pencil with the burner. Watch your hands--that this is NOT playing around. I also recommend having a few extras you can practice on before going for the real thing, but I'm obviously a very novice woodburner so maybe that won't be an issue for you.

They're plain, but sturdy and rustic. If you really wanted to get fancy you could paint them or weatherize them.

You might be proud to know that not only are all of the original plant babies still alive, I actually have some seedlings sprouting for zucchini, eggplants, mini tomatoes, and sunflowers. The professionals didn't even have to start these. Naturally, a gardening Pinterest board was created.

Do you have any gardening experience? Container or otherwise. Any tips or rookie mistakes to avoid? I'd love to know!


P.S. Happy belated Earth Day :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekend Inspiration: Put Some Bunny Ears On It

Happy Good Friday!

The offices are closed today so guess what lucky girl is sitting on her couch with a cup of coffee wrapped in a blanket at 10 am? THIS GIRL. It's pretty much the greatest.

One of the more exciting ideas that's come to mind in this free time is making Easter baskets for friends and family. Baskets for kids are easy: Candy? Check. Adults have more of a variety of passions but everyone can agree that adding bunny ears  anything makes it universally adorable. The basic idea behind these grown up Easter baskets is to take one "big" thing, put some bunny ears on it, then fill the rest of the package with coordinating items. Here's just a few ideas:

For the Craft Beer Connoisseur:

Some other ideas to add would be coasters, a bottle opener, and maybe some Advil (keeping it real). Bonus points if you use the 6-pack box as your "basket."

For the Beauty Addict:

Make sure to use a dry erase marker on the mirror and NOT a permanent marker. The dry erase wipes right off when the novelty wears off.Pack it up with some lip gloss, travel sized hairspray, and fancy scented make up remover wipes. All things that will be useful no matter how much they already have in their arsenal of beauty supplies. A cute make-up bag is an easy choice for a basket substitute.

For the Cook:

Fill out the package with some fancy flavored olive oil and a jar of herbs or spices to coordinate. Wrap it up in a decorative tea towel and you're good to go.

All the bunny ears were cut from plain white felt. Repositionable glue dots held everything solidly in place but also ensure it will come right off when your friends are ready to use their gifts. Obviously this Weekend Inspiration is a little different but when the mood strikes you can't let it pass you by :)

What other themes would you create for a grown-up Easter basket? What other items would you add? I'd love to know!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Send a Smile: Easter Card Printables

There are few things I love more in this world than mail. "Real" mail. You know what I mean. A letter or a card has the potential to make my entire week. A package? I get so stinkin' excited I've been known to call friends just to tell them I got a package (P.S. Sorry if you've ever been on the receiving end of one of those pointless calls...). Luckily I'm not alone in this enthusiasm. Everyone I've ever talked to about has agreed that getting real mail is pretty much the best.

These little notes took just a few minutes to make but will hopefully be just enough to make a friend smile. And because smiling is important, I thought I would share them with y'all in case you know someone who loves mail too.

You can click any link below to download the one you want (if any, of course).

"Some Bunny loves you! ... Spoiler Alert: It's Me." 
"I could just eat you up! ... But I won't. Because I love you." 
"You're one of a kind... And colorful too." 

Printed on regular computer paper, they're quarter folded and then trimmed to 4" squares. You can add any embellishments you want; I tried a piece of ribbon on the peep card but decided to keep the others simple. The slightly more tricky part is the envelope. If you don't have a pre-made one on hand all you need is a piece of construction paper and some tape.

Fold the edges in 2" on each side, then fold the bottom up 4". Fold over the top leftover inches, then tape the edges. I used washi tape but later found that it could pop open pretty easily though so I would recommend using regular scotch tape either underneath, over top, or instead before mailing.

That's it! Then comes the REAL challenge: remember to send it in a timely manner... Does getting mail brighten up your day? What little thing makes you excessively happy? I'd love to know.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Weekend Inspiration: Easter Eggs

Growing up, dyeing Easter Eggs was always a must with my family. Even now that my sister and I live elsewhere I've heard stories that Mom still colors a few and hides them around the house for Dad to find. Celebrating holidays to the fullest extent is basically in my blood. I couldn't let a Weekend Inspiration post go by ignoring it!

1. These Easter Egg cookies are gorgeous. A different kind to decorate!

2. A perfect shabby-chic way to give old plastic eggs a new life.

3. These paper napkin covered eggs are gorgeous and quick. No one would know it took no time at all...

4. Leave it to the Pioneer Woman to create Rice Krispie Treat easter eggs.

5. Remember those salt dough ornaments everyone loved at Christmas? Don't retire it yet!

6. Embroidery floss + balloons + glue= floss eggs

7. I would make this garland, but I'm pretty sure if Home Depot sees me go near the paint samples again they will call security.

8. These braided eggs look amazing, but also a lot of work. I let you know if I figure out a lazy way to accomplish the look.

Are you already preparing for Easter? What's your favorite way to decorate eggs? I'd love to know!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy (slightly early) Birthday to Me!

Tomorrow is my Birthday and I couldn't possibly be more excited. I have amazing plans for an adventure with some of my favorite people. I CAN'T WAIT.  Last night I was reflecting on my first 25 years and thought I would do something a little different and fun. It's a gif list because I'm a millennial after all. Without further ado: 25 things I've learned in 25 years.

1. 25 is still young enough that being carded is annoying.
    2. Sometimes I still think boys have cooties. Other times sometime I know they do.

    Taylor Swift Reacts To Justin Bieber And Selena Gomez Kissing GIF
    3. Calories are sneaky, sneaky bullies.

    Christopher Mintz Plasse Evan Goldberg animated GIF
    4. I have become worse at over-estimating my own abilities as I get older. Or just more stubborn. Same dif.
    Funny GIFs Carrying Grocery Bags

    5. I don't know how to respond to recommendations for anti-aging or wrinkle creams. Apparently now is the time for that stuff. Already.

    7. In the past few years I've found all sorts of new ways and reasons to be confident.

    The Fabulous Alpaca GIF

    8. I no longer feel the need to pretend I'm enjoying things I have no interest in.

    Nobody Got Time For That GIF
    9. I've learned to prioritize, and the importance of saying no.


    10.  I have a different level of appreciation for caffeine.

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    11. I have to admit that some of the best conversations ever will never remembered.

    drunk animated GIF

    12. I don't need to apologize for just being myself. Or to inanimate objects..


    13. We are all emotional about different things that don't seem important to other people. That doesn't mean it's not a valid emotion.

    14. The more money I have to spend, the more likely I am to waste it. 

    Happy Mad Men animated GIF

    15. It's funny to think of the things that are funny now, but were NOT funny at the time.
    Source (language warning)

    16. What other people think about me is not my business. 

    17. Even after years of being away from things, like singing and theater, I still see glimpses of them everywhere and love to support it. You never outgrow the things that are part of who you are. 

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    18.  The only long term plan I can count on is that plans will change. 

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    19. Failure is just a part of life. Avoiding that creates mediocrity.

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    20.  Saying something silly is also, unfortunately, a part of life. Learning to apologize and try again is a continual lesson.
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    21. I used to take time with family for granted. Now it seems like the most precious thing in the world.

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    22. Friends are the best investment one could make.

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    23.  It's okay to show happiness and joy even if no one else is. That's when everyone needs it the most.

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    24. Occasionally I'm stricken with a panic that I've wasted my youth by not being "exciting enough" or not going on enough adventures, and them I remember how young I still am.
    The Daily Doodles animated GIF
    25. Sometimes even we introverts need a night out.


    I'm posting this today instead of tomorrow because I won't want to spend one minute away from the action even if the action is just sitting and talking. Thanks so much for being a part of what made 24 a special year :) What would make your list? I'd love to know!


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