» May 2012 «


Blue Gift Bag + Doily Accent


blue bag gift wrap

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend. Ours was absolutely wonderful–gorgeous weather, great friends, and good food–what more can a girl ask for?

This week we will be staying with a friend as we make the trek up to see my parents. I decided our brief overnight stay required a little thank-you treat. I decided to bake mini lemon cupcakes (you know in those tiny cupcake liners–so cute!). Anyways, I needed a good way to dress up the gift bag. Here’s what I came up with on the fly.

I started with this little blue bag to hold my mini treats. Prior to filling the bag, I used a glue stick to attach a mini doily to the front. Then I filled the bag with treats and tied an aqua bow around the bag to finish off the gift bag decor.

That’s it, a quick and simple way to spruce up small gift decor.


Memorial Day + Decorative Paper Flags


Hello friends! I hope you are all out enjoying your holiday weekend. This weekend the hubby and I decided to throw a last-minute Memorial Day BBQ for a few friends. I didn’t have much time to prep but I thought I should still throw together a few decorations for the event.

paper flag sticks Memorial Day

These fun paper flags are great for either adding color to your table or labeling your food (just stick straight into your dish). If you are baking a Memorial Day cake, consider frosting the outside with white icing and adding the red and blue flag sticks on top in varying heights.

You can also add ribbon to your skewers or dip the edges of the paper into glue and coat in glitter. The possibilities are endless.

The simple version pictured above uses two pieces of 8-1/2 x 11 inch paper. Cut 1-inch strips across the narrow side of your paper. Then fold in half and cut to a point at the end. Last step–use double-sided tape to attach the paper flags to the skewers (just wrap it around the stick). That’s all it takes for these easy-peasy paper flags.

Hope you all have a very relaxing Memorial Day!


Coral Peony Bridal Bouquet


A few weeks ago I had the privilege of helping Linda with flower arrangements for a vintage wedding. If you haven’t figured it out before, it seems the go-to flower for vintage is the beautiful peony. And really, who would argue with that choice? The peony is absolutely exquisite in all colors but this coral color is by far my favorite. I could look at it for hours. Really? Not even kidding.

Here’s another look, in case you too, can’t stop staring.

Alrighty then, tearing eyes away, closing mouth, moving on…

The bridal bouquet was made mainly with white and coral peonies, white stock, yellow, white & peach ranunculus, chartreuse-colored physocarpis, and bells of Ireland.

Bouquets are different than arrangements in styling order. With arrangements you typically want to start by placing your filler since that will take up more of the vase space. With bouquets however, filler is much more scarce so you actually begin with your flowers, and usually the bulkier flowers first to provide support to the smaller stems.

So, can you guess which flower we start with here? That’s right, the peonies! Group a few peonies in the middle, then add a white stock in between each peony. Then add a few Bells of Ireland stems around the edges of the peonies and stocks, follow with an outer layer of peonies in the open spaces.

As you move toward the outer edges of your bouquet, make sure you are continuing to push the outer edges upward instead of letting them fall low. With bridal and bridesmaid bouquets you want to see all of the flowers at the top, not lose them down underneath at the spot where you would hold the bouquet, make sense?

Alright, now all that’s left is filling in the spaces and adding a few pops of color and filler. This bouquet has Phisocarpus leaves placed sporadically throughout for a bit of added filler and little peach, white, and yellow Ranunculus for added color. Hold the bouquet lower on the stems as you add flowers. This allows the bouquet to sit loosely giving you plenty of wiggle room for adding stems in last minute or even pulling a few out.

And of course, if you like the look, add Hosta leaves around the very bottom to create a collar. This gives the eye an end point and keeps the focus on the flowers above the collar instead of trailing off into nothingness.


Purple Gift Wrap


I love gifts. I love giving them, getting them and especially wrapping them. Doesn’t a creative, well-wrapped gift make the exchanging of gifts so much more exciting?! Well, in honor of creative gift wrap (and just because I love it so much), we are starting an exciting new weekly posting: “The Wednesday Wrap” (or some other clever title that I have yet to come up with).

I will be posting a new wrapping idea each week in the hopes of inspiring a little gift-wrapping creativity. Hope you enjoy!

Materials:

Take-out Box (Michaels, $.99)
Lavender Raffia (Michael’s, $.99 clearance bin)
1 mini paper doily (WalMart, $.99 for a pack of 12)
Purple Ribbon (Michael’s, $.99 clearance bin)

And that’s the Wednesday Wrap!


Baby Shower Flowers + Painted Jars


Occasion: Baby Shower with Unknown Baby Gender

Use this bouquet as inspiration for a baby shower with an unknown baby gender.

Stems:

pink/burgundy dianthus
burgundy ranunculi
yellow ranunculi
yellow stock
blue baptisia

Arranging:

Begin with the dianthus as they are both sturdy and full so they will take up much of the empty space allowing you to strategically place the more delicate stems.

Next, add your contrasting colors, I put in two stems of yellow stock, one for height and color and a second to make the bouquet even. Accent the stock with yellow ranunculi spread throughout the arrangement in lower areas.

Fill any holes with the burgundy ranunculi. Pairing different flowers of similar colors in one bouquet gives the arrangement texture and dimension. Finally, add the tall stem(s) of baptisia. More stems of baptisia will give you a more obvious boy/girl theme or you can find another bluish flower to add to the mix like ageratum.

paintedballjar

Centerpiece:

Take four ball jars (or a variety of used jars from your pantry) and paint the inside of each with a different pastel shade: yellow, blue, pink, green, etc. If you don’t have any pastel paints on hand, just mix each color with white until you reach the desired shade.

The first coat does a good job of filling in all white/clear space on the jar, however, if placed in the light it shows the stroke lines of your brush. I tried using a normal painter’s brush as well as one of those Styrofoam tipped brushes, but the regular brush worked much better. Wait 20 minutes for the first coat to dry before painting a second coat that hides the original brush strokes.

Make arrangements to place in your painted jars from the flowers listed above. Add three hosta leaves around the jar rims to form a collar. Group the jars in the center of the table for a beautiful bold centerpiece.

Painting the jars took about 30 minutes total so don’t be deterred by the extra effort of painting clear jars instead of buying colored vases/jars. Trust me, the extra time is well worth your efforts and will not go unnoticed.


Tee to Tank Tutorial


Working on a farm in the summer, in Tennessee, tends to get a little hot and a lot humid. I wish I could say I’ve become accustomed to the humidity but every time I think I’m beginning to adjust, the summer ends and we start the adjustment process all over again the following year.

Is there a point to me rambling about the heat? Why yes, now that you mention it, there is…working on a farm you learn quickly the value of wearing long pants and long-sleeved t-shirts to stay cool and keep yourself protected. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to handle the long-sleeved t-shirt. Maybe its psychological but it feels SO HOT. Instead, I opt for tank tops, lots and lots of tank tops. Of course, that means a lot of shirts end up ruined. I decided this summer, I had to come up with cheaper dispensable farm clothes.

I saw this tee to tank tutorail on Crafterhours, but the idea is from Upcycled Education. Here’s my own little documented attempt at the tank.

First, choose an over-sized t-shirt that you never wear (mine was a $3 pink craft tee from Michaels).

Next, make your cuts.
Cut #1: Lay the t-shirt flat and cut off the sleeves just inside the seam.
Cut #2: Cut a straight line across the top of the shirt just under the neck.

Cut #3: Cut the bottom seam off the tshirt plus another small strip immediately above. The strip with the seam you can throw away, the second strip needs to be cut into 2 equal strips.

If your tee is a bit too large, as mine was, turn it inside out and lay it flat. Place pins 1/2 inch inside the original side seam all the way up to the armpit on both sides. Sew along the pins. Remove excess fabric and turn right side out. Tada!

Hem the top edges of the tee, leaving a 1/2 inch loop. Once the hem is sewn, thread one of the fabric strips from the bottom of the tee through each hem loop. I poke the end of a skewer through the fabric strip and pushed it through the loop, however, the smarter method would be to place the fabric strip on the shirt edge before folding it over for the hem.

All that’s left is putting on your newly fashioned tank and tying the front and back ties together at the height that suits you best. There are lots of ways to tie the drawstring so put on your creativity cap.

That’s it–a $3 tee shirt turned tank that’s loose, comfy and won’t bum me out if it gets ruined on the farm. Tomorrow I’m planning to turn some large print tees into work shirts too, I’ll share pictures soon.

Be sure to head over to Upcycled Education and thank Jen for the great tutorial inspiration and check out the actual tutorial on Crafterhours.


Mother’s Day + Small Tribute


Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. Today is one of my favorite days because I love my mother so very much and I love having an entire day set aside for the sole purpose of honoring and celebrating her life, the sacrifices she has made and the person she is today.

My mom was recently offered a job in the Chicago area, a career opportunity of a lifetime for her. After much deliberation and conversation with my father, they decided she should take advantage of this opportunity, even though it means leaving my dad back home in Oregon until he can retire.

While this decision may sound crazy to most, and at times to our little family as well, I couldn’t be more proud of my mom. None of the decisions she and my father had to make regarding this position were easy. Moving across the U.S. to live alone, leaving the home you’ve poured so much time and effort into in exchange for a small apartment, trading the beautiful greenery and mountain settings of Oregon for the “concrete jungle” of a big city, and of course leaving behind all those you love most to pursue a dream that may or may not pan out…

I know many of you understand what it takes to make difficult decisions like these so you understand what must have gone into making the final decision to move. Despite all the so-called-craziness of this move, I am so proud that my mom took the job. She recognized the rut she was in, the day-in-day-out dead end job (you know the kind), and she took a chance. A very big chance. Decisions like these are the ones that make me respect my mother. Of course, no parent is ever perfect but it is always in the critical moments that I truly appreciate the example she sets.

My mother didn’t just tell my sister and I to follow our dreams and shoot for the stars, she didn’t just tell us to hold our heads high and put forth our best effort, she didn’t just tell us how to be strong confident women–she showed us. She showed us all these things when we were young and she continues to show us still today.

I am so proud of my mom and so grateful for her presence in my life, a gift not all can claim. I am grateful for the example she has set for me throughout the years, the encouragement she gives through every endeavor I undertake, the pride she takes in her family and in her work, her adventurous spirit and her persistent attitude. I am grateful that my mom has taught me to be confident in who I am, be proud of where I come from and to never give up on my dreams.

Thank you mom for all you do and all you have done for our family throughout the years. You do not go unnoticed. We love you more and more each and every day.


Curry Egg Salad Sandwich


Curry is a seriously under appreciated seasoning. While living in Ukraine, I learned many unconventional ways to incorporate curry into everyday recipes. One of my absolute favorite curry recipes is this curry egg salad.

Ingredients:

3 hard-boiled eggs
2 tbsp miracle whip (or mayo)
3 green onions (chopped)
2 tsp curry
pepper
1 leaf of lettuce
1 slice of wheat bread

Directions:

Boil the eggs and allow to cool. Chop the eggs into smaller pieces and place in a small bowl. Add onions, curry, and miracle whip to the bowl. Toast your bread slice. Add a slice of lettuce, the egg salad and a dash of pepper on top.

That’s it. One incredibly simple curried egg salad recipe. All that’s left is digging in! What’s your favorite curry recipe?


How to Preserve Peonies


We all have those favorite flowers, you know the ones you wait anxiously for all year and then it seems as soon as they bloom they wilt away once more. For me, the gorgeous peony is the flower I most look forward to at the beginning of the flower season. Unfortunately, it seems these flowers are gone before I can be out on the farm enjoying their beauty.

peonies

Linda, however, has taught me a few tricks for making peonies last. The peony is a popular flower for weddings so every year we make these beauties last a bit longer by cutting them early and letting them hibernate in the fridge for a few weeks.

For those of you who want to save your peonies for a big event or simply want to keep them around longer to brighten up your home, you can follow these simple steps to preserving peonies.
_
How to Preserve Peonies:_

1.) Cut peonies when they are in the “marshmallow” stage. Squeeze the bud and if it feels like a marshmallow, they are ready to cut and store. The image below is just before marshmallow stage.

2.) Next, place a bunch of peony stems in double-layered newspaper. The image below is marshmallow stage.

3.) Wrap the newspaper around the stems.

4.) Place in a refrigerator to hibernate up to 1 month.

When you pull the peonies out again, they will look slightly less perfect than when you put them in but just place them in water and in a few hours they will start to open up. The only downside to preserving peonies is that their shelf-life post-refrigeration is less than if they were freshly cut–about two days.

Let us know if you have any questions!


Lazy Chocolate Spice Cake


After a rigorous year of classes, I can finally say my hardest year of nursing school is complete! Today was my last final and I can’t express how much relief I am feeling right now. Here’s a small glimpse into my life these past few weeks… as if finals aren’t bad enough with cumulative nursing tests, we had a grand total of 12 tests piled on for our last three weeks of classes. Can we say “insane?!” That’s what I thought. Anyways, it is over and I am relieved and ready to finally be in my final year of nursing. This degree (and the attempted others) has been a very long time in the making and I am so excited to be so close to the finish line.

Now, I say all these details about my finals to butter you up since my posts the last few weeks have been scattered and brief. But guess what? All that is about to change! Jack is helping me with some exciting changes for the blog including, a new title and domain, new categories, design changes and hopefully a much better posting schedule. You can look forward to all these changes taking place in about a month (poor Jack still has classes to finish).

Now on to the fun stuff…

This weekend, in the midst of all my studying, I had one of those moments where I simply couldn’t go a minute longer with being crafty. I settled for baking since it is quick and I get to enjoy it for days to come (this cake didn’t last that long). Since I was short on time I cheated and brought out a boxed (gasp), yes, boxed Dunkin Hynes spice cake. Of course, I couldn’t just make a boxed cake so I added 2 tbsp of chocolate baking powder and 2 tsp of vanilla. I then added all the ingredients on the back of the box (3 eggs, oil, water) and threw it in the oven for 25 minutes.

This was a huge success. I really wasn’t expecting much out of this haphazard baking attempt but the finished result was tasty and moist–really, what else matters? I also had half of a package of cream cheese in the fridge so I softened the block, added about 1-1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 2 tsp of vanilla and a smidge of milk. And voila! Delicious cream cheese frosting (spread between the cake layers). Chocolate spice cake, cream cheese frosting, pear slices on top–trust me, this is a winning combination.

So there you have it, my lazy chocolate spice cake for those of you with crazy lives like mine. Keep checking back with us, lots of fun projects coming up. Happy baking!