Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Glass Etched Liquor Bottles

I have exciting news:

I bought a Silhouette!

It’s true, I finally broke down and bought one. I’ve been planning projects in my head for months, so with Christmas fast approaching and thus upcoming Christmas presents to be made, I bit the bullet and bought one.

I know, I know, I wanted a Le Creuset dutch oven… So that is now put on hold. The sole reason why my lovely Silhouette beat out the Le Creuset was because I am still decorating my new home, and the Silhouette would play a key role in that. If I bought the Le Creuset instead, my home would remain unfinished.

So when I ordered my Silhouette, I ordered a couple other things at the same time for what I knew just had to be my first project:

Adhesive Vinyl.

Glass Etching Cream.

That’s right! Time to do some glass etching!

In our kitchen/dining area, we have this striking black demilune chest with a matching mirror above it. It’s really a beautiful piece of furniture. Though it was in the living room at our old place, its new location leant itself well to become a small bar area on top. We bought a black tray, and instead of buying fancy liquor bottles, I decided I should make some myself and customize them by etching the glass. Not surprisingly, we have a wine theme throughout the house, so as a twist on the usual liquor bottles, I saved a few different clear wine bottles to use.

Now let me tell you, clear wine bottles are not as common as you might think, so I did actually have to have this planned for a while to get three different clear bottles. But I’m so glad I did, because these turned out fabulous!

So let’s jump in to the project!

I started by creating in the Silhouette software how I wanted each label to look: Vodka, Scotch, Tequila. I wanted them all to be a little unique, but still appear as a set. Once I had it all arranged, I ran the vinyl through the cutter to get my outlines for the etching cream.

I adhered the vinyl to each bottle (all three thoroughly cleaned) and applied the etching cream.

edited Glass etching liquor bottles (1)

edited Glass etching liquor bottles (2)

I applied two applications of 8 minutes each, and washed off after each application **Note – do not wash this off in a ceramic sink. I don’t have a ceramic sink so I can’t speak from experience, but I hear it’s bad.

This was so easy to do, and the results are fantastic! They look both unique and professional, and no one would’ve guessed I made them in my kitchen one Sunday night with old wine bottles. If you have a cutting machine, you have to give it a try!

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Making the Most of Leftovers

Hello from Singapore!

Ok, well, sort of. I’m actually on a plane on the way to Singapore as I write this, but by the time I post it, I will be on Singapore soil, so again, Hello from Singapore! I’m headed out here (and China later) for work for a while, so I planned ahead and edited and loaded some craft and food post pics so I didn’t miss out on sharing any posts with you all! Don’t worry, I brought my camera along, and will be taking pics here to share as well!

A couple nights before I left, Chris and I were scrounging around the fridge, figuring out what in there needed to be eaten, since he probably won’t cook a ton of meals for one while I’m gone. When I’m planning “clean out the fridge” meals, I absolutely love having some leftovers in there. Now I’d like to preface this by saying that I hate leftovers that stay in their original form. The reason is that when you eat a meal, cool it, and reheat it again (especially in the microwave), it is never, ever going to taste as good as it did the first time.

Unless you’re my brother and it’s Kraft mac & cheese. He swears it’s better after being cold, and will actually make a batch, put it in the fridge, and reheat it later. It’s a little crazy.

Anyway, leftovers kinda suck. Anything that was crunchy is now soggy, liquids seem to have disappeared, and don’t get me started on reheated rice.

But leftovers can be fabulous if you use them as a stepping stone to a whole new dish. Got some leftover chopped brisket from the BBQ restaurant? Make chili! Got some mashed potatoes left over from Sunday night dinner? Make shepherd’s pie!

This particular night, we had some leftover mu shu pork, but not even enough for a meal for one. So instead of just throwing it out, we decided to use it as a component in our own stir fry.

We started by throwing some chopped up red and yellow peppers, asparagus, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil in a wok. Flipping them around often, we cooked them for about 5 minutes on their own.

edited Leftovers (1)

Then we added an egg for a little extra protein (since the pork was going to be in short supply), and added the mu shu leftovers, soy sauce, hot chili paste, garlic powder, and pepper, and cooked it all together.

edited Leftovers (2)

And suddenly we had our own stir fry, with fresh, crunchy veggies, in addition to the leftovers that needed to be eaten. Served over fresh brown rice, it made for a great clean-out-the-fridge meal!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Absurdly Easy Fall Wreath

I'm not kidding.

This is so easy, it's absurd.

I had some extra fall leaves lying around after making the Fall Leaves Table Mat, and just HAD to do something with them.

I have seen so many pretty fall wreaths out there in blogland, that I couldn't help myself! Problem was... I had nothing other than the leaves. I didn't have any sort of normal wreath base. Also, I really didn't even have that many leaves!

But creativity kicked in, and this is what I ended up with!

edited Easy fall wreath (1)

Yes, that's a wire hanger. Easily disassembled and formed into a circle, this was the perfect base!

I then just started hot gluing leaves on sporadically.

edited Easy fall wreath (2)

The hot glue actually worked remarkably well on this project, and the leaves easily adhered to the wire.

edited Easy fall wreath (3)

Super cute, absurdly easy! The whole thing took about 7 minutes, and that's only because I debated on the ribbon color for about 2 minutes. A perfect quick way to welcome fall to my door!

edited Easy fall wreath (4)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Leaves Table Mat

The weather is turning, the leaves are falling...

It must be time to decorate my house in autumn decor!

I made a few autumny decorations last year, but not nearly enough. Luckily, every crafty blogger out there is whipping out their best fall crafts, so I have been filing some projects away.

This project is just such a project!

Inspired by the Autumn Table Runner at Make It and Love It, I decided to make a leaf-bordered cover for my wine barrel top lazy susan!

I started by going to Joann's for some fall leaves. I kind of expected to be able to find a bag of them, but to no avail, so I bought the ones attached to stems and peeled them all off.

edited Fall Lazy Susan Cover (1)

I then cut a circle of brown fabric to be just smaller than the lazy susan.

Next, I began pinning on my leaves.

edited Fall Lazy Susan Cover (2)

I went around the circle first with some leaves sporadically placed, and then filled in the holes. I didn't want them to look like they had a specific order, so I made sure to mix up the sizes and layers.

edited Fall Lazy Susan Cover (4)

edited Fall Lazy Susan Cover (5)

Once it was all pinned, I just ran it through the sewing machine to sew all the leaves down!

It was so easy to do, and looks great on my table!

edited Fall Lazy Susan Cover (6)

edited Fall Lazy Susan Cover (8)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pom Pom Fabric Flowers

Pom pom 4

I've been seeing these cute flowers all over blogland/DIYland/Etsy lately. They're so fun and full, and I was dying to find out how to make them!

Then I stumbled upon the Pom Pom Flower Tutorial at A Glimpse Inside, and I could hardly wait to make one myself!

The best part of these flowers is that they are the perfect use for scrap fabric! You just need a long strip, that's all! I highly recommend you hop over to A Glimpse Inside for the full step-by-step instructions.

Pom pom 1
Pom pom 2Pom pom 3

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Padded Headboard Tutorial

Another project that was accomplished during my super-crafty weekend a couple weekends ago was a padded headboard. Since Chris and I upgraded from a one-bedroom condo to a two-bedroom, we suddenly found ourselves in need of a bed, bedding, and a headboard for the extra space!

So we got the bed, and I even found some beautiful bedding at Target. In fact, I secretly wanted to steal it for my own bedroom it’s so pretty!

But alas, I restrained, and moved on to the headboard.

I had always planned to make my own padded headboard for the day I finally got a second bedroom. I have seen them a million times on DIY/Home shows, and for the price you just can’t beat it! So I took some measurements, hopped over to Home Depot to buy some wood for my base (I used composite board), and then got the fabric and batting to accomplish what I pictured in my head.

And now with all the background info… away we go!

Assuming you’ve had your wood already cut to size by the helpful people at the hardware store, begin by cutting your batting to be a couple inches bigger in width and height than the board.

headboard 1

Next, use your staple gun to staple the batting to the board.

headboard 2

I highly recommend you name your staple gun. It’s a super handy tool that can be used for so many fun projects. She deserves a name. Mine is named Sheila. Sheila the staple gun.

Ok, back to the project!

Now grab your fabric. I used a nice, soft microsuede in a lovely gray color.

headboard 3

At this point, if you just want a classic and simple fabric-covered headboard, you can just cut the fabric to be slightly larger than the batting-covered wood board, staple it down just like you did with the batting, and you’re done.

But, if you’re like me, plain is just so… plain.

Before undertaking this project, I thought long and hard about this part. Buttons! No… multiple fabrics! No… Piping! No….

headboard 4


You see, there’s this tiny little pillow that comes with the bedding set which has vertical pleats on it. It’s very cute. I decided I wanted to tie in those pleats with some pleats in the fabric on the headboard. Sounds easy enough!

Ok, here’s where we get to the confession part of the post.

I have a wonderful, nice, super-awesome sewing machine that I received as a wedding gift from a wonderful Aunt and Uncle over two years ago.

Confession: I hadn’t ever used it until this project.

Don’t get me wrong – I grew up sewing; I know perfectly well how to sew. I also enjoy making things with a sewing machine. It’s just that, up until this point, I didn’t really have a very good reason to break it out. I didn’t have anything that needed to be hemmed, I didn’t have a pillow that needed to be fixed, and the place we were living in already had curtains. So aside from getting really ambitious and making my own clothes from scratch, I didn’t really have an immediate need to whip it out. Also, trying it out involved reading directions since I had only ever sewed on one machine in my life (my mom’s), so that was even more of an excuse to put it off.

But it was time. The sewing machine needed to make its grand debut!

I began the pleats by measuring, marking, and pinning a single 1-inch pleat, and sewing it. Then I did another, one inch from the first.

headboard 5

Folded in half, that equals a half-inch pleat each.

Problem is, such precise measuring, pinning, and sewing is necessary when you’re trying to accomplish perfectly parallel lines. It’s also remarkably time-consuming. So after a couple hours, I got to here:

headboard 6

It was just about time to head to dinner, and I was starting to go cross-eyed. I think even Simon had had enough for the day.

headboard 7

The next morning, my friend and I woke up and tackled the rest of the pleats head-on. And I’ll be honest – each pleat did get easier and easier as I became more comfortable with the measuring, marking, pinning, sewing. Soon enough, the pleats were done!

We then ironed them all down so they would be crisp and uniform.

headboard 8


Now, back to our actual headboard tutorial…

Grab your fabric, and use Sheila the staple gun to staple it all down. I chose to staple past the end of the batting so that it would get a slight padded wrap-around effect and thus lay flush to the wall.

headboard 9

Trim all the excess fabric up to the staples. Since I had sewing involved with the pleats, I actually left that part long and just stapled it all down. I didn’t want the sewing to come out at any point!

Next, time to mount the headboard.

A headboard tutorial I had once seen described something called a “Flush Mount” which looked like this weird u-shaped gadget which sort of locked into place. The idea is that you don’t want to just hang it up, because there’s a very good chance that someone will lean up against it, and the slightest shift up could bring the whole thing down upon them. You want this on the wall securely, both top and bottom.

Since the lovely helpers at Home Depot had no idea what I was talking about when I said “Flush Mount” (I even showed them a picture), I had to come up with another plan. I then saw these:

This is a French Cleat. It consists of two metal strips which fit into each other snugly, but are pretty gosh-darn flush. Not to mention the fact that they’re made to hold up to 200 pounds. French Cleats are advertised for hanging heavy paintings/pictures securely on the wall, but I thought they could definitely be used for this! But since I wanted the headboard secured on both the top and the bottom, and I didn’t want it to be able to be accidentally lifted off, I decided to use two: one on the top of the headboard, and one on the bottom installed upside down.

By installing one right-side up on top, and one upside-down on bottom, both the top and bottom would be secured, and I would have to slide it on from the side. That way no one could possibly accidentally knock it off!

So we started with our blank wall, and began some intense measuring.

headboard 11

We then secured the cleats to the headboard and to the wall, making sure that they were perfectly spaced so that they would match up when sliding on the headboard.

headboard 10

headboard 12

We then slid it on, and it went on like a charm! Perfectly secured on top and bottom, and the batting wrapped around the back meets up perfectly with the wall to hide any view of the cleats.

headboard 13

I’m so happy with the result! It goes so well with the bedding, and looks great in the room. And it was all accomplished for less than $100!

headboard 15

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger

I've gotten to the point where I pretty much only read novels that have recipes in them. Don't get me wrong, regular novels are nice too; but food is such a part of my life, that I like reading stories where it's a part of the characters' lives too! And who can go wrong with a few new recipes?

I'm reading a book right now called A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table. It's a cute web of stories that tie to plenty of great recipes.

One recipe really caught my eye though: Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger. The banana bread my mom made growing up always had chocolate chips in it (and no nuts - heaven forbid!), so this really is only a slight variation of my childhood favorite. I loved the idea of adding some chopped crystallized ginger to my recipe for a twist on a classic. Since I already love my tried-and-true banana bread recipe of my mom's, I decided to go ahead and make a loaf, and throw in some chopped crystallized ginger.

The result: wonderful! The ginger is really mild, but adds a wonderful sweet spice to the bread. Give it a try!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, now with Crystallized Ginger!

1/2 C butter
1 C sugar
2 eggs
2-3 ripe bananas (I generally freeze very ripe ones to save for this recipe)
3 T milk
2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 C mini chocolate chips
1/4 C finely chopped crystallized ginger

Cream butter and sugar.

Banana bread (3)

Add eggs and beat well.

Banana bread (4)

Add bananas...

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... as well as milk, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

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Beat until smooth.

Add mini chocolate chips and chopped ginger.

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Fold in with a spatula. Pour batter into a large greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, lower temperature to 300 for another 15-20 minutes, until outside is browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

Banana bread (10)

Hope you enjoy this twist on a classic!

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Chopper Winner!

herb chopper 1

Happy Monday everyone!

This Monday is going to be especially happy for one lucky person! The winner of the double-bladed herb chopper, per the randomly generated number, is...

Random Number 25


Ginny's comment on her favorite meal from the past month....

"We did Corn Beef and Cabbage the other day, normally we save that for St. Pats day but hubby had a craving. I love this knife, so cool!"

Congrats, Ginny! And the corned beef and cabbage sounds wonderful! Shoot me an email to claim your chopper!