My Pinterest Challenge Project (Fall 2011)

As I’ve mentioned before, I love pinterest! And I’ve actually done a few projects from it before, like my chalkboard paint and my fall wreath, not to mention a ridiculous number of baked goods that have been made (including cookies today. Oops).

So when Sherry from Young House Love and Katie from Bower Power Blog posted last week about their second installment of their pinterest challenge, obviously I was game! Basically the challenge is to just actually MAKE something that you pinned.

I had a few ideas on which project to do, but I was feeling kind of lazy today so I decided to go for a project I thought would go pretty quick. Surprisingly though, I LOVE the result and I am so excited about this project!

Let’s get started. Here was my inspiration:

Unfortunately I caught this as a re-pin and it was not linked to original source material. If anyone knows where this came from originally let me know and I’ll source it! (UPDATED! SOURCE HERE)

It’s a little surprising that I liked this photo so much because in general, I hate hearts. I hate heart jewelry, I hate heart decorations, I’m not a valentines girl. But something about this just caught my eye. I think because from a distance it doesn’t look like much, but when you get closer it is a very personal and graphic representation of the course of your relationship. And I’m still in a bit of that newlywed glow that makes me a little too excited about all things relationship-focused. Plus, I’m planning to do a gallery wall going up the stairs in our home and I wanted to have varied things in frames so it wasn’t just all photos.

My goal for this project was to spend $0. I have a closet upstairs full of random decorating stuff that I’m not using, which is where I scavenged all of the frames for my gallery wall project (that is ongoing). One tip that I’d give people is to not focus JUST on picture frames, but also framed art that people give you that isn’t necessarily meant to be replaced. This is what this frame originally looked like.

I hope no one thinks I’m horrible for repurposing this… but it just wasn’t our style. I can’t remember where I got it either. I think it was maybe part of a gift for my wedding shower? But I wasn’t digging the colors or the overtly religious tone. So I ripped off the wood backing (it got destroyed in the process, oops), and spray painted the frame oil rubbed bronze. I actually did that before I snapped the photo above, the frame was originally a medium wood tone that matched nothing in our house.

Next, I pulled up maps of where we got engaged, married, and honeymooned on google maps. I actually searched for the addresses because I wanted the little red “A” bubble. If you don’t want that, you can just zoom in to find where you want. Then, I took a screen shot of the map (shift + command + 4 on a mac). I printed the maps on some resume paper I had because I thought it would be thicker and hold up a bit better over time. Then I free-handed a heart by folding a square in half just like they teach you in 2nd grade. And traced the heart over each map.

I cut out the hearts, and then glued them to a larger piece of card stock I had left over from making our wedding ceremony programs. One great thing about weddings (particularly if you DIY’d them) is that you have a huge stock of crafting supplies left over for future projects! Glueing the hearts was a little tricky. Ideally I’d have used a glue stick because they stick well and don’t wrinkle your paper. Unfortunately I used up my last glue sticks on a wedding project and I didn’t want to go out and buy more just for this, so I just used some plain white glue I had laying around. I tried to apply it very thinly, but the hearts still wrinkled a little.

As for the writing beneath the hearts, I didn’t love how the labels were on a different piece of paper on the inspiration photo. I wanted them written directly onto the “mat.” The problem is that my hand writing is TERRIBLE. And not in a unique and kitschy kind of way that is hard to read but pretty. More in a it-looks-like-a-five-year-old-wrote-this kind of way. So I downloaded a free font that I really liked that looked like handwriting (here), and typed out what I wanted and then printed it. Then I just put the printed words behind the mat and traced over them with an acid-free fine tipped marker. Printing on the bottom, my tracing on the top. Not bad, right?

Then I re-assembled my frame with the glass, mat/hearts, and I just flipped over the previous art as a backing. I needed something else to use as backing as well, however, because the current backing wasn’t thick enough. So I cut out a piece of cardboard to the right size and taped it on.

And that is it! Well, mostly, I still need to get some mounting hardware (although I have seen online that you can use pop tabs as diy’d mounting hardware so I might try that) and get it hung. I probably won’t do that until I’m ready to do the whole gallery wall though. But just so you can see how cute it looks against the blue wall…

I love it! It honestly turned out better than I even expected.

Someone in the house was slightly less than impressed though. He would like the world to know he finds my crafting boring. Yawn.

Quietly judging me from the top of the stairs.

You’re so boring.

Even so, how cute are those ears?!

I’m sorry, but this is what happens when I have a camera in my hand. It is inevitable. I have like, 2000 photos on my iPhone. Almost all of them of the pets.

ANYWAYS! Back to the topic at hand… I am calling this project a total success. I love the outcome, and I love that it cost me $0.

Anyone else participate in the pinterest challenge this week?

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I <3 Pumpkin Seeds

Do you make pumpkin seeds every year at Halloween? If you don’t, you should. It is kind of ridiculously easy, but for some reason there is also wide disagreement about how it should be done. If you google recipes online for roasted pumpkin seeds you’ll find instructions about cooking them on low at 250, or high at 400, or boiling them first. There are also lots of recipes including spices and various sauces to flavor them.

In my opinion? Simple and easy is better. So here is my recipe– if you can even call it that because it is so ridiculously easy. We absolutely love pumpkin seeds, and they might even rank above pumpkin flavored coffee from Tim Horton’s to me as a favorite fall treat… which is really saying something.

Ingredients:
fresh pumpkin seeds
extra virgin olive oil
PAM spray
kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 325. As you take your seeds out of your pumpkins, try to pull off as much of the orange goop as possible, but they don’t have to be 100% clean. I always put them directly into a strainer. Once you’ve harvested them all, rinse them with cold water. At this point I try to pull off any extra orange pumpkin goop I see. Shake the strainer to get as much water as possible out, but you don’t need to dry them or let them dry.

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil, and spray with PAM (I use the extra virgin olive oil kind). If you don’t have spray, I’d just spread a little olive oil on the pan.

Pour the seeds onto the cookie sheet. They will still be a bit slimy. That’s fine. Drizzle olive oil generously over them. I never measure it, but if I was forced to guess I’d say about 1/4c per 2 cups seeds. Just put enough on that they’re mostly thinly coated. Salt generously with kosher salt (regular is fine too, but I prefer kosher). Stir the seeds around to make sure they all get coated with oil.

Bake for about 40 minutes (stirring at 15 and 30 minutes), until the seeds are dry and light brown.

Enjoy!

The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back (Because apparently I am un-embarrass-able…)

This blog post was born for several reasons.

1) I haven’t posted for a while because I haven’t much done much around the house in a week. Which led me to wonder… what free things around here need to get done and won’t take long?

2) The reason I originally started this blog way back when was to encourage me to do small things around my house to keep myself organized, rather than letting everything build up until the whole house is a mess.

3) My parents got me a clarisonic for my birthday. It was an awesome gift because I’ve been wanting one but they’re more than I would usually spend on a beauty product, and it even came in a fun pattern!

But it was also something else to put on my bathroom counter. Which is an area that I always struggle to keep clean. I just have too much STUFF. And I had made a habit of tossing random half used (or almost empty) products under the counter in no particular order which meant I never wanted to put stuff I actually used much under there or else it would be lost and never found again.

And yet once I got the Clarisonic set on the counter, it was just one too many things and I couldn’t handle it. I felt like I couldn’t grab anything without knocking something over.

And this is an area that always annoys B. You’ll notice his half of the counter is completely empty.

So, I decided to finally do something about it. Go through everything under the bathroom counter, toss the old stuff and the empty contact solution boxes (seriously there was like 4 under there, what was I thinking?), and come up with some sort of organization that would allow me access to what I needed without keeping everything up on the counter. And because I am (apparently) un-embarrassable, I thought I’d share the before/after with the world (or um, approximately 40 people that wordpress tells me stop by every day). Lo and behold…. my super crazy messy bathroom cabinets completely uncensored:

Everything is all piled on top of each other without regard to whether it is for hair, makeup, body, or bath. I kept all of the makeup and face products I wear on a daily basis in the pink flowered bag because it had a zipper and I knew anything outside of that bag might never be seen again. And every time I tried to pull out the blow dryer three bottles of one thing or another fell onto the floor tangled in the cords. Ugh. Chaos!

So I pulled everything out, and started tossing everything that was either old, almost empty, or I simply had no intention of using. Then I organized things by purpose. When B got home from work last night, this is what he walked into:

At first he was a little concerned at the mess but I told him things had to get worse before they could get better. Then he tried to help but he kept knocking things over so I banished him from the bathroom.

It took a bit of strategizing, but I finally figured out a system that made sense to me and got it all put back together:

While it might not look that much less crowded, everything is now organized in a way that I know where it is and I can get to it. I have a small wired basket on the far right that holds my hair brushes, and the wicker basket immediately to its left holds all my hair products, blow dryer and straightener, and all my hair ties/clips/head bands in the pink flowered makeup case. Behind that are my less used hair items (hot rollers, travel straightener, velcro rollers). In the middle are extra bath products (shampoo, conditioner, and body wash I’ve not yet opened) and bubble baths. On the left side in the back is a basket that has my less-used face and body products like face scrub and sunscreen, and it also has my travel bags and all my travel sized toiletries so I don’t have to buy all new ones every time we fly (how many mini bottles of hair spray does a person need?). And in the front left corner is a tray with all of my makeup, which I organized into types:

This was most exciting to me because it has been SO long since I’ve been able to find most of my makeup. I now actually have choices when it comes it eyeshadow! Most of the eye shadows in there have actually never even been used, so its kind of like I just went shopping. For free. In my own stuff!

The best part is that everything is organized into baskets so that I can easily pull out one at a time and then replace it when I’m done. And doing this freed up a ton of counter space, leaving just the stuff that I use every single day out on the counter.

So, that’s how I spent 2 hours last night. It wasn’t fun but I’m super happy to have it done and it always makes me feel good to tackle a really unorganized area that I encounter every day. It almost makes me want to clean my closet. (I said almost). Anyone else do any organizing recently?

Random Ring Tip

So I’m kind of dumb sometimes. Shocking, I know. When I got home from work on Monday I gave the picture frames for the gallery wall another quick once over with spray paint. In my work clothes. I KNOW. But they were already in the garage (not windy) and I was being careful so I was like whatever it’s fine.

And I didn’t get any paint on my clothes (I don’t think?). But yesterday morning I was sitting here working and I noticed my rings. They had spray paint on them! Ack! Not a lot, but tiny little splatters on the side including UNDER the solitaire. I freaked out a little.

Then I remembered a tip I read online (I wish I could remember exactly where!) about a home method of ring cleaning. I put some tap water into a mug and heated it up in the microwave. I added a squirt of liquid dish soap and some windex, and stirred it up. Then I dropped my rings into the steaming water and let them soak for a few hours until the water was cold.

When it was time to take them out not only did the paint come off, they were every bit as sparkly as when you get them steamed at the jewelry store! Amazing!

Now I wouldn’t warrant that this method is absolutely safe because I don’t know a lot about jewelry, but I figure that its kind of hard to hurt diamonds and platinum so I’ll probably keep doing it.

Lessons learned?

1) Don’t spray paint with your rings on.
2) If you do, hot water + liquid dish soap + windex = miracle!

Chalkboard Paint: How to (and how not to)

As I said yesterday, I’ve been seeing homemade chalkboard paint around the web for a while now, and I decided to give it a try myself. Which was kind of a fail, except now?

Yay! So here is the story. I used this tutorial, which seemed to be the easiest one on the web. I’m all about two ingredient recipes. This one simply called for any interior house paint of your choosing and unsanded grout. I was a little leery of the grout because I didn’t know what it was exactly or how much it would be, but it turns out that it only cost $1.88 at Lowes. I have tons of left over paint from getting our house painted, but rather than even crack open one of the extra gallons, I decided to just use the test pot of the light blue color that I bought when I was trying to decide on colors. Some tutorials say that you have to use flat paint. Maybe that works better? But my normal eggshell worked fine. Here are the supplies.

First step was the clean the door. The blog didn’t mention this, but because it was a shinier surface I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t any grease or fingerprints on it. I just used a normal house cleaner.

Then I taped the door off so I’d get nice crisp edges.

I didn’t want to measure how much paint was in the test pot, but it seemed like it was probably somewhere between 3/4 and 1 cup, so I just added 2 tablespoons of the grout mix directly into the pot (note: I have a TON of grout left).

I sacrificed a chop stick because I didn’t know what else to stir it with. It stayed kind of clumpy in texture but the directions said that was okay.

And, just as the directions stated, it did go on sort of clumpy but the clumps somehow melted away as you brushed it on.

I did three coats and sent B out to get me some chalk (okay so I didn’t so much send him out for it as I asked him to pick it up while he was out buying kitty litter, but whatever). Aaaaaaaaandddddd….

FAIL. See, he bought me colored chalk. I didn’t specify what kind and colored chalk seemed fine with me. The directions stated not to use a chalk pen but didn’t mention colored chalk. Well…. it does not work. When you try to wipe it off it just smears everywhere and refuses to wash away! See?

Grrrr… Stupid dark blue chalk. I washed it off as best as I could, and let it dry. Then I painted on two more coats of chalkboard paint and baked a pie.

Today on my way home from work, I stopped to buy some white chalk, hoping the issue was the chalk and not the paint itself, and it was! The white chalk works great!

Yay!

A few notes:
– If I did this again, I would use a roller and not a brush. The brush left brush marks which makes the surface not as smooth to write on.
– This isn’t *exactly* like a real chalkboard. It is definitely less smooth and the chalk doesn’t wipe away quite as easily. It does wipe off with a damp cloth, but it isn’t like a real chalkboard where you can just rub something away with your thumb.

So, for $1.88 spent (plus $2.07 for two packs of chalk), I am calling this project a totally fun success.

Also, just because I already had the paint made, I decided to paint a mirror to make a mini chalkboard:

Inspiration here. But this mini-project is not quite done. I want to paint the frame of the mirror as well. I’m thinking dark blue maybe? Or maybe the same green as our bedroom so it blends into the wall and is just a cool textural element? Also, I think I might permanently paint on the words “I love you because” and then just let the bottom part be the chalkboard. Any thoughts? What color would work best for the frame?

Rustic Apple Pie

After my semi-project fails today, I felt the need to make a pie. Well, also because we went to an apple farm yesterday to pick our own pumpkins and came home with a big bag of honeycrisp apples. Mmm…

I thought I’d share my pie recipe because it’s a bit different from other apple pies I’ve had. It isn’t from any one recipe, but rather kind of pieced together from other recipes with my own preferred ingredient ratios. I call it rustic apple pie. Because it is kind of ugly and when something is ugly but tastes good, you call it “rustic”.

It’s basically a cross between a classic apple pie and an apple crisp. I started making it this way because I make my own crust (not a fan of store bought), but I wasn’t very good with it and could never get the top crust to work. I’m much better at making crusts now and could probably handle a double-crust pie… but this is really the best of both pie and crisp worlds in my opinion, so I just keep making it this way. Without further ado:

    Ingredients:
    Crust

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup crisco (butter flavored)
1/4 tsp salt
4-6 tbspn ice cold water

Filling

6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

    Topping

1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter (melted)

1. Mix flour and salt for crust in medium bowl. Add crisco and cut in with pastry cutter. Add ice cold water (I keep a cup with water and ice in it nearby) 1 tbspn at a time, and mix until just combined. Around 4tbpsn the dough will probably come together enough to form into a ball, but if not add a little more water. You want just enough water to keep the dough together, but not enough to make it sticky. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk, then wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate.

2. Wash, peel, and thinly slice 6 apples. Toss them into the same bowl that you used to make the dough (I’m all about not having to wash extra dishes and a few tiny crust pieces in the apples won’t matter). Add four, sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Toss. Now would be a good time to turn on the oven to preheat at 425.

3. Take dough out of the refrigerator. Roll it out according to your preferred method. I like to flour the top of the disk, and also the rolling pin, then roll it out right onto the saran wrap I used to wrap it up. Roll it out to 1/4 inch, and transfer to pie pan.

4. Dump apples into pie crust and smash down so that they lay as flat as possible.

5. Put butter in microwave to melt. Meanwhile, put oats, brown sugar, and flour into (you guessed it) the same bowl you used for the crust and apples. Mix them up. Add the melted butter and mix well. Dump on top of pie, and smooth out so that it covers the whole pie.

6. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 and bake for another 40-50 minutes. It is done when the crust is browned and a fork inserted into it doesn’t meet any resistance/crunchy apples.

7. Try to distract yourself by writing a blog post for the hour it will take for the pie to cool. Serve and enjoy!

Sometimes you win, sometimes you get rained on.

I had two projects in mind for the day.

The first was making my own chalkboard paint, which I’ve seen all over the blogosphere and pinterest lately. I was tempted to just buy chalkboard paint because I didn’t care *that* much about making my own color, but a quart of the pre made paint is $15 and me, being the cheapo that I am, didn’t want to pay for it.

So I bought what I needed and thought this would be a super quick project. Well… long story short… it didn’t work. Sigh. Don’t you just hate that feeling of putting your effort into something and having it be a complete flop?

Anyways, I have one more idea of how to make it work, but I can’t do it today. After I buy what I need and see if I’m right, I’ll do a full post this project and whether or not it worked.

The second project was to get things started for my gallery wall up our stairs. This actually wasn’t a flop… but it was (of course) more difficult than anticipated. I scavenged some frames I had sitting around unused, and found 12 in various sizes. It is only a half stairwell, so I’m hoping that it is enough.

Then I wiped them all down (a lot of them were upwards of a decade old and VERY dusty), and popped the backing and glass out of each. Which only worked some of the time. Let’s just say there were pliers involved. And also simple ripping apart of pieces which will later need to be glued back together.

I bought some Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint, because I wanted all of the frames to match in color. They were originally plastic, metal, and different shades of wood. Then, because it was a beautiful sunny afternoon with barely a cloud in the sky… I laid a large piece of plastic (leftover from painting our house) in the driveway and laid out all the frames. I applied two thin layers of spray paint, and then went inside to let them cure. I set the timer for 45 minutes.

When the time was up, I headed back outside and….. total grey skies threatening to rain any moment! Freaking Ohio. I swear. So I quickly got two more thin layers onto the frames and then dragged the entire plastic into the garage behind B’s car. I no sooner got the garage door shut than it started raining.

I’m going to let them dry a few hours before I bring them in. I am just hoping that my four thin layers of spray paint will provide enough coverage. It looked like they were covered, but it was so dark out by the time I was finished it was honestly hard to tell.

Next up for this project is figuring out what to put in all the frames, and then actually deciding on an arrangement and hanging them up!