3.24.2013

For the Love of Labels


If there's one thing the people who love me and live with me can tell you, it's that I enjoy labeling things.  I have, in fact, become the butt of many a family joke as a result.  (If you look closely at the image above you will notice that my husband has labeled the label maker for me.)

But that hasn't stopped me from putting my mark on just about anything worth marking.  From the shoe baskets...


...and hat baskets in the closet...


...to the shelves in the pantry, few areas have escaped my wrath.


It should come as no surprise, then, that when I received my Silhouette for Christmas I would regard it as a kind of label maker on steroids.

Look what I was able to do with my Silhouette, some vinyl and some painter's tape:


These are the drawers in my "craft room" (aka my corner of the garage).  And yes, they make me happy every time I walk past them.

Totally worth the ribbing, don't you think?



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3.20.2013

A Hostess Gift For Easter


If you, like me, are lucky enough to be invited to someone else's house for Easter, you might be looking for something to bring.  (You know, a little, "thanks-for-cooking-so-I-don't-have-to," gift.)

This year I decided to make my own using my favorite plants: succulents.  (Read more about that passion here and here and here.)


The concept is simple.

Take a ceramic egg crate (you can buy your own here)...


...and fill it with cactus soil.


Then remove the succulent from its pot and insert it in the egg crate.  (You might need to brush some soil from the circumference of the roots to make it fit.)


Repeat with the rest of the succulents until you're happy with your arrangement.


Eventually you might want to re-pot them in a bigger container...


...until that time you can mist them with water from a spray bottle (in lieu of watering).


Happy early Easter to all!





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3.12.2013

Pick Your Plum!

Are you familiar with Pick Your Plum?

If so, you already know how awesome it is.

If not, I am thrilled to be the one to enlighten you!

Pick Your Plum is a daily deal site that peddles my favorite kinds of wares: craft & baking supplies, home decor, clothing, and more.

The quality of their product is high, and I say that as someone who has purchased numerous items from the site.

What have I purchased?  Well, the Baker's Twine and alphabet stamps from my Valentine's Day post are both from PYP.  (I was *so* excited when I saw those alphabet stamps in a fancy-pants store for more than twice what I paid for mine.)


I've also gotten a huge supply of Washi Tape, adorable chevron printed paper bags... and the list goes on and on...

But here's the catch: the deal goes up in the morning (7 a.m. Mountain Time) and they only sell it for the day (or until it's gone... whichever comes first!).

The good news is that you can check the daily deal via my blog every morning so you'll never miss out!  There's a link on my sidebar.  See the arrow in the picture below.


Are you as excited as I am?  

If not, you will be once you've made your first purchase!

Enjoy your plum!

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3.11.2013

Ditch Your Plastic Drinkware


Walk into any home with young children and you're likely to find a cabinet full of plastic drink ware.  Up until recently mine was no exception.  I mean, let's face it: plastic ware bounces when you drop it, glassware does not.  And if there's anything worse than mopping up spilled juice it's mopping up spilled juice mixed with little bits of broken glass.  Not fun..   

So despite the fact that health experts are strongly suggesting that we limit our use of plastic ware, lots of people haven't been able to find a suitable alternative. 

Today I am pleased to share my solution to this dilemma.  

In addition to the fact that I have young children, I also have a pool.  (I know, I'm very lucky.)  But if there's one thing that most pool owners know, it's that pool decks and glassware don't mix.  If broken glass on the kitchen floor is a hazard, broken glass on the pool deck (or, heaven forbid in the pool) is ten times worse.  

For that reason, my family used the cups pictured below for years.  


Then, awhile back I was at a friend's house and she gave the kids some water in a small metal cup.  When I saw it, my wheels started turning.  What an amazing alternative.  Why had I never thought of such a thing?  She told me that her sister bought them for her in India and she would get some for me. I was thrilled when, a few weeks later, she presented me with four of these:


And they were great!  But as much as I loved them, they were tiny--too small for an adult--and there were only four of them.  

So I did a little research and ordered myself four additional stainless steel cups:
You can order your own here.

And they've been great too--durable, safe--everything you'd want for your kids.  But for me one thing has been lacking: appearance.  They just aren't very pretty.  And let's face it, someone who spends her days blogging about "pretty stuff" cares about this kind of thing.  Not that it's been enough to make me revert to plastic, but I've always been on the lookout for a more attractive, unbreakable alternative.

I finally found it in the form of the enamelware tumblers pictured below.  They're pretty (to me), sturdy, safe, and as an added bonus, they remind me of my grandmother's enamel cookware, so there's a sentimental element as well.



If you're interested in buying your own you can do so here.  And if you have another unbreakable alternative to plastic ware, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.  

(Oh, and, as usual, no one paid me to write about this stuff.  I just thought some of you out there might be interested.)

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3.07.2013

Mason Jar Twine Holders


Not long ago, while browsing the internet, I came across a brilliant storage solution.  (Pinned here.)  I happen to be a huge fan of brilliant storage solutions so I knew I would eventually try it.  


The idea was simple: store baker's twine in a mason jar topped with a daisy cut-out lid.  (Buy them here (gold) or here (with jars) or here (silver) or here (choice of three colors).)  Then thread the string through the cut-outs for easy access.

If you've been keeping up with things around here, you're probably aware that I have a dozen vintage Ball jars in my garage just waiting to be filled.  (And it probably comes as no surprise that I happen to have daisy cut out lids and baker's twine as well.)

The problem is that my baker's twine collection is an assortment of small spools.  Putting one tiny spool in a 32 oz Ball jar would look ridiculous and putting multiple spools in at once would be a hot mess.

That is, it would be a hot mess unless I found a way to keep the spools organized inside the jar.  With a little creative thinking (and a trip to Home Depot) I came up with the perfect solution:  

At Home Depot I picked up a few 1/4" x 6" Hex Bolts, some 1/4" Hex Nuts, and a handful of 1/4" Cut Washers. 


The first step was to thread a bolt through the center of the daisy lid:

(I may or may not have added a jewel sticker to the top of the bolt to jazz it up a bit...)

Then I flipped the lid over and placed a spool of twine and a washer on the bolt.  I continued to alternate washers and spools until I had six spools of twine on the bolt.  





Finally I added a nut at the bottom to keep the spools from falling off.


And here is the end result:


As you can imagine I am very excited about this...



(Clearly it doesn't take much ;)


Update:  I would like to address the two biggest questions I've received regarding this project: 

Question #1.  Where did I get the daisy lids?  I have included three links above where you can purchase them.  One link takes you to gold ones, one takes you to silver ones, and  another takes you to a link selling the lids with the jars. 

Question #2.  Does the thread get tangled as you pull different strands through?  So far the answer is no.  And by "no" I mean that you can keep pulling strands through the lid and they all come out smoothly and uninterrupted.  They do, however, seem to get twisted around one another.  The twisting does not seem to be an impediment, though, as the strands still come through the holes just fine. 

I don't know if this is because of the washers I put between each spool or if there's some other reason it's working for me, but I have almost completely unraveled a few of the spools in order to test it out.  I hope it works as well for all of you!


Great News:  I'm now selling Mason Jar Twine Holders in my etsy shop.  Check them out HERE.


Looking for more fun mason jar projects?  Follow these links:


 






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3.04.2013

When Life Gives You Too Many Lemons


Back in July I wrote a post about the fruit trees in our backyard.  In it, I expressed my profound gratitude for their very existence.  I love being able to pluck a lemon off the tree any time I need some lemon juice or zest.  


But sometimes life gives you too many lemons--way more than any recipe could possibly require.     


And that's when it's time to get a little creative.  You might remember my penchant for filling ice cube trays with fruit.  Well, I've done it again, but this time with lemon juice and now I have two full trays.  That's 28 (2 Tbsp) cubes just waiting to be popped out and put in a recipe or beverage.

I guess maybe there's no such thing as "too many" lemons after all...  



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3.02.2013

DIY Camera Bean Bag



If I were to pick the single biggest improvement in my blog since it began, I would have to choose the photography.  Now I'm not exactly Ansel Adams over here, but when you compare this...

Original post here.

...to this, for example...

Original post here.

...you can tell that there's been progress.  

There are a number of things that account for the change but most significant is a photography class that I took last month.  It was only nine hours total but it was a good starting point and helped me get over my fear of the camera's manual settings, etc.

On the last day of class, the instructor took questions about equipment.  One of the questions that came up was about tripods and whether or not to invest in one.  While the instructor didn't try to dissuade us from purchasing a tripod, he did recommend something we could use as an alternative.  

He suggested that we make a "Camera Bean Bag."  All you need is some neoprene fabric (because it's "grippy") and some lentils.  He told us to create a pocket with the neoprene, fill it with the lentils and sew the whole thing up.   The bean bag then serves as a stable place to put your camera if you want to take pictures using your timer, etc.  And because it's filled with lentils, it's malleable, which enables you to point the lens exactly where you want it.  

Of course doing this on my own would have required me to take my (six-year-old) sewing machine out of the box... and learn how to use it.  And since I can only handle learning one new piece of equipment at a time, the sewing machine (and thus the bean bag) was going to have to wait.  

But then I had an epiphany!  On a recent trip to Marshall's I had admired a neoprene bag designed to protect an iPad.  I set out to find another one and see if it could save me from the clutches of my sewing machine.

Imagine my delight when I found one at Tuesday Morning.  (You know how I love Tuesday Morning!)  And check out the price:  

Hmm... this picture is kind of crummy.  Let's just pretend I was trying to be ironic.

That's right, $4.99.  As my husband likes to say, "I couldn't afford not to buy it!"  (<-- He usually says that while making fun of me, but I digress..)

(As an added bonus, it's pretty!)

Shortly after finding the bag, I hightailed it over to Smart & Final for some lentils (which they were out of) so I got myself some split peas instead:


Then I poured them into the bag and zipped it up, no sewing required!  (I ended up supplementing with some rice since I was short on peas.)


And that's it!  Now I have a stable place to rest my camera until I'm ready to pull the plug and buy a tripod.



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