Saturday, November 26, 2011

Peppermint Lovelies!

With the halls in the house official decked, now it's time to start adding the flavor of Christmas into the kitchen. I already had a package of easy "just add eggs and water" brownies at home, and I decided to see if I could spice those up a bit. It was a hit!

Take your basic brownie mix, and follow the "cake brownie" directions. Instead of baking them in a 8x8 or 9x13 pan, roll them into 1" round balls on a cookie sheet. Bake about six minutes--just long enough for the edges to set. Move immediately to a wire rack.Onto the icing! Now, I'll ease myself out of making brownies from scratch, but canned icing is just not my thing. Here's the easiest homemade icing ever--and it's tasty!

You'll need:
4 cups of confectioner's sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of milk
1 tsp of peppermint extract

**Start with 2 cups of sugar. Mix in the softened butter with the sugar, vanilla, milk and peppermint extract. Add the additional sugar until the icing has the right consistency.

Spoon icing on top of brownies/cookies. Sprinkle crushed peppermint on top of the cookies, and serve!

Enjoy these sweet treats!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sending Spooky E-Cards

I love paper products--I love the designs, I love the thoughtfulness, and I love the details. Napkins, invitations, cards, wrapping paper...not sure why it's an obsession, but I have drawers in my house that are dedicated to it.

I love sending holiday cards, too--Valentines, Easter, Halloween, get the picture. But if you're like me lately, and time is too close before it comes to the top of your list, send an e-card. They're easy to make, cheap, and they don't require two days of delivery time.

One of my favorite sites to get free templates is They always have great templates that you can use, add your own pictures to, personalize the message, and attach to an email. They make my life easier:)

Here's my little Halloween treat that I made:
Just save their template as a picture. I generally layer the template and my picture in Adobe Photoshop, but you can do similar things in Paint, Powerpoint, etc. It's just a matter of grouping everything together, then saving it as one large jpeg. Then email away!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reuse, Revamp, and PAINT!

So, I confiscated an old pie safe from my parents' house a few weekends ago. I'm getting a major urge to redecorate, but to alleviate a massive stroke on my husband's behalf, it does not involve any major purchases or much elbow grease on his behalf. I should get extra points for that!

This was really one of the easiest projects I've tackled...and for the biggest impact! Although it's a three-day project, just a few hours each day will get you completely done. Love that!

Here's what you need to make your own creation:

-A signature piece of wooden furniture/frame

-Quart of Oil-based primer

-Quart of Paint (be brave!)

-A hand sander

-Sandpaper or steel wool

-Hardware as needed (new knobs, pulls, etc.)

Like I said earlier, visit your nearest antique store and let your imagination run wild. Pie safe, end table, chest, or an old wooden fram. They're all great conversation pieces when you add a bit of your personality to them.

Day one: Sand, sand, sand! If your old piece of furniture has any paint, poly, or finish, save yourself the trouble and grab a sander. My starting pie safe had a coat of poly on it that was about 35 years old. I literally had the piece sanded down to the wood in less than 90 minutes...a quick wipe down, and I'm ready for Day #2.

Day two: OK, I must admit that picking out paint colors is one of my all-time favorite things to do. The brighter the better--you are talking about the woman with an orange kitchen:) However, my first color green was more the preceding color to a toddler's sinus, we went for a second coat of a less-chartreause color. Don't forget to use an oil-based primer ahead of makes for fewer paint coats. Let is dry completely overnight!

Day three: Sandpaper in tow, it's now time to mess up your painting! Sand the edges, rough up the finish...anything to make it look worn. Use your judgement here--I used a bit of steel wool around the detail to make sure that it looked a bit worn. After a quick wipe down when you're content with your amount of wear, it's time to sponge on a stain. (I used Minwax dark walnut). Again, you'll can apply this as dark or as lightly as you'd like--just make sure that you're consistent!

A quick dry overnight, adding new hardware...and I have an extremely fun addition to my already very bright kitchen--and it cost me less than $25.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recycling with Style!

I've taken on a little bit bigger than normal... My parents have a pie safe (yes, that's an old Southern term for furniture that goes in the kitchen). It's soooo old--and it has just been catching dust in my parents' laundry room for years, so I stole it. And I'm giving it a facelift!

Ideally, this is a three night project, but I've not been as dedicated as I needed to be. So, it's turned into a week. One night for sanding, one night for painting, and one night for staining.

Have a old piece of furniture in the attic that has seen better days? A table, a chest, a stool, an odd chair--a little bit of sanding, a bright color, some elbow grease..and you have a great conversation piece.

I've spent a bit tonight roughing up my beautiful lime green paint job, so stay tuned for the final product and your "how-to". It is going to be SASSY! And, I promise it's easy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dinosaurs can be Cute!

Birthday dinosaurs. Yes, my child is three and he LOVES dinosaurs. Our lives are filled with them--and I don't mean the sweet, cute and cuddly kind. My little man loves the hard, plastic dinosaurs...the more realistic the better. Not my idea of fun birthday cuteness.
So, when we (and I really me I) delved into the world of three-year-old parties, I combed the globe for cute dinosaurs. Found these on, and loved them. My love of etsy led me to a super-talented graphic designer at Sweet Papers, and she takes my crazy thoughts and puts them to life. My finished product: signs, banners, silverware wraps, drink tags, thank you postcards, and cupcake toppers. A quick print of the laser jet, and my house turned into a craft store.
So, we had a dinosaur dig--the kids grabbed a bag, sand toys and binoculars when they arrived. There was also a egg hunt and a place to make dinosaur rubbings. Seventeen kids means multiple venues of entertainment:)

I'm not super artsy, but I do like to paint a bit. So, I made these for decoration...

I wanted to have a table with monthly pictures of my little man. In lieu of running out of tables, I came up with this easy concoction to remedy the issue. It's a piece of 6 foot x 1 foot MDF board that I spray painted with chalkboard paint on EACH side. I attached two hooks to the end, tied a piece of twine to it, and hung pictures with clothespins. So, I can use it again and again! I had even thought that it would be a cute and unique way to display some of Max's artwork.

One of the easiest last minute projects that I threw on my plate.
When you need extra decor--always go for the tissue lanterns. They're very inexpensive and the primary colors coordinate so well!
Our Sugar Shack...a fun little treat to leave the kiddos with lots of energy!These little customized signs helped to add some fun to the afternoon...

Although my husband was not a fan of the twine tying, I love the little details on the drinks. Plus, who doesn't love the inappropriateness of drinking out of a jar? It's the one time, as southerners, we can get by with it-ha!I grabbed these finds on clearance at the local Dollar Tree. Best part?? The bottom screws off the bottle for your snacks!Thank you tags for the bags and the sugary treats...The binoculars were a hit!!I wanted so bad to have a photo booth, but I worried about dowel rods and three year olds. So, they turned into stationary centerpieces for the kid tables. There's always next year!
Thanks to Meghan Granito Photography for the wonderful pictures!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mantle Decorating!

It's all about taking inventory of what you have and getting creative!

Thanks to Pinterest, the ideas of mantle decorating this year have been immense. But, I have to be honest, if I need to make a storyboard for my decoration shopping--it's a no-can-do for me. So, this year, I grabbed a couple of pictures, took inventory of what I already had, and made it work (with a few newbies, of course). Just call me Tim Gunn.

I started with two red vases, a myriad of mistmatched pumpkins, random candleholders, and an old window that was a great antique store find. Add in a new handmade wreath, two bunches of tall branches/wheat, and a cream pumpkin (yes, I added the polka dots), and you have your complete decor list.

I'll admit that I moved it around dozen times before I loved it at last touch with a bit of fall foliage, and I have a new mantle!
Here's the finished product!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Burlap Happy

I have a love/hate relationship with fall!

First, I LOVE most all things that come with the season. I love the weather, I love football, I love s'mores, and I love pumpkins. The not-so-loving part of this comes with the ridiculous allergies that generally plague me this time of year, but I happily manage through the season with a cocktail of medication. And, yet it still makes me happy!

In the process of decorating, I found this wonderful picture of a burlap wreath...and it just wheels started turning. The best part--it's easy, it didn't cost much money, and it is a do-able craft project to start and finish while the little guy is napping. Score for all the mommies!

And, it's fall appropriate, so you can use it until Thanksgiving...even bettter!
Here's what you need to get started:
-2 yards of Burlap (About $8 at Hobby Lobby)
-14" straw wreath (Another $4 investment)
-Hot glue gun
-Scrap fabric for flowers
-Needle and thread
Start with your burlap. It needs to be cut in four strips (so, you'll have extra) that are about 6 inches x 72 inches. If you're a precise measurer, I would advise taking a deep breath and chilling out first...burlap is messy and rugged by nature, so there's no point in killing yourself by ensuring that your strips are perfectly symmetrical. You'll use two strips to wrap around the wreath to cover it completely--secure with a few small pins.
For the next step, you'll need to make a ruffle. Don't worry, it's EASY! Layout one strip of burlap, take your needle and thread, and start at one end--making a very loose top stitch. Once you've made a stitch on one strip of burlap, pull both ends of the thread while pushing the burlap closer together to make a ruffle. Viola!
Measure your ruffle around the front side of the wreath. Remember that since you'll make two ruffles, you'll want your bottom ruffle to be secured in the center of the width of the wreath. When the ruffle fits, tie off your thread and secure with a few pins. Once your ruffle is semi-secured, grab the hot glue gun and start gluing the ruffle completely to the wreath. Repeat the ruffle making step again, then secure the second ruffle closer to the center of the wreath's circle.
Now, you have two ruffles on your wreath--how easy was that?

Next, we're going to decorate a bit. I grabbed four pieces of scrap fabric--the larger pieces are 8"x8", and the smaller fabric is 6"x6". This looks more complicated, but I promise it's just a matter of folding (over and over and over again). Just need to secure the center of your fabric flower with a pin. And make sure that your frayed edges of the decorative fabric are folded in. Once you pin the flowers to the wreath, you might have to do a little adjusting to make certain that the flower is the right shape. Adjust and pin as needed!
Now, I added a "D" for a fun addition to the door wreath. A little hot glue, and it's finished!