Thursday, October 30, 2014

Autumn Tablescape

I've got roughly three weeks before family begins arriving to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.  My sister made me the official host (which I happily accepted with slight trepidation).  I've never hosted a group or organized a meal quite this big so I'm feeling a little nervous.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes off without a hitch and I don't mean the fire alarm.  A double oven (and a fairy godmother) would really come in handy too.  I can't complain though since my sister will be providing sleeping arrangements for the majority of our extended family.

To get into the spirit of the holiday, I'm decorating my dining room with an autumn tablescape which will still allow people to use the table for the Thanksgiving meal.  I like low arrangements so you can still socialize with the person across from you.  A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a trip to Round Top, Texas for a weekend of antiquing.  I purchased an antique Turkish dough riser to be the year-round centerpiece for my table.  It's unique, makes a bold statement, and decorations can easily be changed throughout the year for each season.

Here's how the table looks at the moment:

So the centerpiece has been sitting there empty save for a couple of candles.  I've been pondering how I could embellish it.  I could have just added small baking pumpkins or ghords to each section but wanted something that I could reuse each year.

Love this little bird

I purchased an 8 pound bag of pinto beans to fill up each empty section about half way.  It raises up the decorations so they can actually be seen.  I found fall foliage pieces (small pumpkin with leaves on a flexible stem) at Hobby Lobby for half off.

I placed one in each section along with a candle or a small bird nest.  I covered any open areas (where beans showed) with wine corks and silk fall leaves.  For the two areas with the large white candles, I placed a few leaves around them.  Although my centerpiece has multiple sections, you could easily do this with an open wooden tray, ceramic bowl, or basket.

I've learned that planning ahead and prepping ahead (when possible) helps reduce any stress.  I'm so happy with how my autumn tablescape project turned out.  It has inspired me to begin planning my menu and putting that fairy godmother to work (once I find her).  Remember...there is always something to be thankful for - especially family, friends, and good food.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

BOO Bottle Surprise

Halloween is just around the corner.  Are you ready to surprise friends, family, and neighbors with a "You've Been Boo'd" surprise?  I've got a spooktacular idea for repurposing those coffee creamer bottles that you'd normally just toss in the recycle bin.

you've been { BOO'd }!

I've been saving these bottles for the last few weeks because I just knew I could use them for something.  I wasn't quite sure what that "something" would be but knew inspiration would hit...eventually.  I was hoping sooner rather than later.  I polled my family for their ideas:
  • container for mixing morning protein shake (husband)
  • snack holder (13-year old son with insatiable appetite)
  • bead holder (10-year old son who also loves projects)
Of course these are all great ideas but not exactly what I had in mind. I saw some cute ideas for reusing bottles as birthday/teacher treat holders.  Then I came across some great ideas for Halloween treats and decorating.  Tis the season, right?  So I thought I'd mesh the two ideas by repurposing the bottles as treat holders for our neighborhood "boo" surprises.  If you don't have bottles or another container you can reuse, you can just fill the white paper bags that I used to cover the bottles to create "ghosts".  My younger son helped me assemble these and love placing the googley eyes in a variety of ways.  I used circle punches for the tag and stickers for the word then attached with a festive ribbon.  So simple and fun!

Leave me a comment (and your email) and I'll be happy to send you the pdf of the "boo" sign and note.  Now, we need to get our scare on and go "boo" our unsuspecting friends and neighbors.  Happy Haunting!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Football Themed Bench

Down...Set...Hut...Hut!!  I've got a great game plan for a football themed painted bench.  

Finished Bench

This past summer I surprised my ten-year old son with a bedroom redo while he was away at camp.  He had grown so much that his feet dangled off the end of his twin bed.  It was high time for a full-size bed and a new theme.  He's very much into football (Go Texans!) and wanted that as the general theme for his room.  It came together like a well executed play...well, once we finally got all the IKEA furniture put together.  We purchased a full-size low profile bed and a console table (with baskets) for his "dresser".  He can sprawl out on the new bigger bed and the cubbie baskets allow his clothes to be easily organized.  The clean lines of the new furniture give the room a fresh modern feel.

We had this simple white bench in his room prior to the redo.  It also worked with the new design as is because we had a few white accents in the room.  But it's been sitting there calling out to me, "Paint me."

As I stood cheering on my son's football team, the white lines of field stood out to me and I thought about that white bench.  I wondered how easy it would be to tape off "lines" and add number stickers before painting the top of the bench green.  In my mind, I would remove the tape and numbers to reveal the white below and a football field bench would be born.

Step One:  I found the center of the bench and placed a piece of tape cut to 4" as my 50-yard line.  I measured over 3" from the outer edges of center tape and placed long pieces of tape edge to edge.  I measured 3" over from that piece of tape for the 40-yard line (short piece cut to 4"). Repeat long pieces then add short pieces for 30-yard line.  I added numbers (stickers I had on hand) for the yard-line markers.  In hindsight, I wish I had traced numbers on (using same technique as chalkboard project) after painting bench green because paint bled under stickers and I had to fix numbers with white paint pen.  

I actually removed the long piece of tape along top edge of bench because I wanted the green paint to extend to edge. 

Step Two:  I painted the bench with 2 coats of acrylic craft paint (FolkArt - Fresh Cut appropriate right?).  I allowed this to mostly dry before removing tape.

The tape was easy to remove but the number stickers were a little tricky.  I ended up making a few scratches in the process but nothing that couldn't be touched up.  The paint also seeped under the stickers so I used a white paint pen to touch that up.

Although there may have been a couple of fumbles along the way, I recovered and the project came together.  It gives Ethan's room that little extra pop of interest.  Now that I made it to the end (zone), I'm gonna go do my victory dance!  
This project could easily be modified to any sport theme that coordinates with your child's room - basketball, baseball, soccer...  No matter what you decide, go BIG or go HOME!! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Framed Glass Chalkboard

Remember those pieces of glass I had left over from my burlap memo/photo board project?  As I sat waiting and waiting and waiting some more (for 2+ hours) while having my car serviced, I put my time to good use and researched ideas to see if anything inspired me.  Although this type of glass has been repurposed in many clever ways - paint pallets, floating frame, stained glass, and even a dry erase memo board - none of those projects really spoke to me.

That's when I got a serendipitous call from my sister who was interested in creating a framed chalkboard with word art for her downstairs powder room.  I immediately thought of my leftover glass and wondered if we could repurpose it as the "board" part of the chalkboard.  I've never used chalkboard paint on glass before so I wasn't sure.  Well, the good news is that there are products out  there made specifically for this kind of project so we decided to  give it a try.  This is what we came up with... 

This is the specific saying my sister wanted for her chalkboard for two reasons:  (1) it was sage advice given at her first (and recent) experience at the shooting range and (2) it's great bathroom humor especially when you have boys in the house. 

So first things first,  I cleaned the glass with alcohol to remove dust and let it dry completely.  Be sure to use old newspaper or paper towel to wipe it to prevent any lint residue.  I decided to try two different applications - Krylon Chalkboard spray paint and Transforming Mason brush application.  I wanted to see which application I prefer.

Next, I sprayed two pieces of glass with the Krylon then waited 15 minutes between 4 coats.  I brushed the third piece of glass with the other application and allowed it to dry completely (at least an hour) before applying a second coat in the opposite direction. 


The is the Krylon spray application.  Although the picture doesn't adequately show it, the finish is very smooth.  The other application has a rougher texture and it does show brush strokes but the color (when dried) looks more gray but very authentic.  The jury is still out as to which one I prefer...maybe by the end of this post, I'll have an answer.  

Okay, I have to admit that I got ants in my pants and attempted to season one of the boards that I sprayed because it had been dry for a while.  I got white chalk from Hobby Lobby but it said "dustless".  I don't know if the chalkboard surface wasn't cured enough (probably) or if it was the chalk (maybe).  It seemed to scratch the surface versus coat in a thin layer of chalk dust.  So I'm going to look for a different chalk and let the surface "cure" for at least 24 hours.  Lesson learned:  don't get ants in your pants!  I ended up respraying the board to correct my mistake.  It looked good as new as if I never had my oops moment.

Take two on seasoning your glass chalkboard:  I got a different chalk from Michael's but it still seemed to kinda scratch the surface but did better than the first.  I think maybe sidewalk chalk would work best because it's super soft.

For the lettering:  I created my word art in power point.  After printing it out, I cut specific word groupings (like "Always" in banner) apart and generously rubbed chalk on back of paper.

I then positioned paper on chalkboard and outlined with a ballpoint pen.  I used the white chalk paint pen to trace the lines.  

Pictures here show how "pointed" looks after being traced with chalkboark pen.  The words "down range" are ready to be traced after transferring from paper. 

Here's how it looks with all the words transferred to board and traced with chalkboard pen.

Before placing it in the frame, we decided it was missing something and added a simple border.

We placed the glass chalkboard in the frame and hung above my sister's powder room potty.  It's sure to garner a few chuckles as guests use the facilities.  The great news is if she ever tires of this "saying" and wants something new - we can simply wipe it off with a wet towel and start fresh!  

So the verdict is finally in...I prefer the spray-on application for this project but be careful when "seasoning" the chalkboard.  Be sure it has dried for at least 24 hours and that you use regular, soft chalk (not dustless).  You want a little dust because that makes it look authentic.  The chalkboard paint pen is very forgiving so if you mess up just get a wet towel and correct your mistake.  Be patient - this project takes a few days (at least 2) so don't get ants in your pants!  

Look around your house - I bet you have an empty frame with the glass intact which you could easily convert into personalized chalkboard art. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Burlap Memo/Photo Board

Several weeks ago I purchased a couple of black wall frames and burlap canvases for a project but ended up going a different way for mounting the art I wanted to display.  Given that I'd already opened everything, I couldn't return the supplies to Michael's so they've been sitting in my office/studio for the last few (okay, several) weeks.  Just sitting...taking up space and collecting dust.  

As I was recently perusing the aisles of HomeGoods (one of  my favorite haunts), I noticed some very cute burlap memo boards and had my Eureka moment.  I think I may have scared the lady who was standing near me when I said (to myself, outloud), "Aha, I've got it!".  She definitely gave me a funny look and hotfooted it off that aisle but I was too excited to care.  I could repurpose my frames and burlap canvas mats into memo/photo boards.

I originally intended to use the framed burlap canvas as a backdrop for a small painted canvas but it didn't come together as I'd hoped.  So here are the supplies I had on hand for my new project:
  • two 12" x 16 " black frames
  • two 12" x 16" burlap covered canvases
  • a few packages of decorative clothespins from scrapbooking 
  • natural jute twine
  • variety of scrapbook papers

I cut scrapbook paper into triangular shape to fold over twine for banner at top of board.  To me the banner gives the board interest and color (and I have lots of scrapbook paper that needs to be used).  You could even add letters to the banner to form a word.  A cute idea for a newly married couple would be to put their initials with an ampersand in between.  Wedding or honeymoon photos could be displayed on the board.  For a child's room, you could do the child's initials as a monogram with upper case letter (for last name) in middle with first and middle initials in lower case on either side.  The scrapbook paper can easily be coordinated to your style or room.  The possibilities are endless!

I tied banner at the top around back of canvas and also secured it with a couple of staples.  I did the same with two more lengths of twine in the middle and at the bottom.  Lastly, I placed burlap canvas in the frame, put backing on, and attached the decorative clothspins. 

This was a quick project once I had my "aha" moment.  I can't believe I let the supplies sit around for as long as I did but I'm glad the inspiration finally came to me.  Now I've just gotta figure out what I'm gonna do with the glass that came out of each frame...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mini Banana Nut Bread Gifts

Well, I don't know about you but I love this time of year.  Fall is by far my favorite season for a variety of reasons - the air is cool and crisp, the leaves are changing, and the football is flying.  What's not to love?    

I especially enjoy baking this time of year.  Well anytime really but I tend to do more of it in the fall and winter because it's just too hot here in the summer for baking.  Sharing goodies with friends, family, and neighbors just makes it all the more fun.  Considering that I had four very over ripe bananas on hand, I decided to surprise my family with mini-sized loaves of banana-nut bread today. When I did an on-line search for recipes, I came across a recipe  (Mini Banana Breads) on the Betty Crocker website but decided to tweak it slightly.  Overall it seemed like a great recipe but I wanted it to have more fall flavor so I added 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 cup pecans (versus walnuts).  My mini loaf pans were larger than the size indicated in the original recipe so it only made 5 total mini loaves (not 10).  I used the handi-foil brand mini loaf pans with lids (5 pack) which I purchased at my local HEB grocery store.  I prefer these because they have the lids and I intended to give a few away as gifts.

My mini loaves required 40 minutes of baking time at 350 degrees.  I started with 35 minutes but they weren't quite done in the middle and the tops weren't quite brown enough.

Here are the supplies I used to "decorate" the loaf tins - fall-inspired 12 x 12 scrapbook paper (cut into 4 three-inch strips), brown grosgrain ribbon, small round gift tags, and leaf stickers.

This is how they look all put together.  I wrapped the paper around the loaf tin and secured with scrapbook adhesive.  I tied the ribbon on and threaded tag through ribbon before tieing it in a simple square knot.  Each tag has a leaf sticker and "Happy Fall".  You could easily modify this to suit your gift occasion.

Here's my modified version of the Betty Crocker recipe:

Mini Banana-Nut Loaves 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 4 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped and lightly toasted (can substitute chocolate chips for nuts)

1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  Spray foil tins with cooking spray.
2)  In a lage bowl, mix sugars and butter.  Stir in eggs until well blended.  Add mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla; beat until smooth.
3)  In a separate bowl, combine flour, spice, baking soda, and salt.  Add flour mixture to wet mixture in mixing bowl.  Combine just until moistened.  Stir in toasted pecans.  Divide batter evenly between 5 mini loaf pans.  Place pans on baking sheet.  
4)  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Place on wire rack to cool.  Leave loaves in pans and place lids on top.  Enjoy or decorate for gifts.

Makes 5 mini loaves (using mini foil pans and lids).   

Note:  I used my KitchenAid mixer with the wisk attachment.  I used a large spoon to stir in toasted nuts then divided batter among tins.

We enjoyed a loaf and I gave the remaining loaves as gifts to friends in our LifeGroup from church but also plan to make another batch or two for neighbors and teachers.  The modifed recipe tasted yummy.  It will definitely be going in the favorites pile!  The bread was moist with the perfect level of sweetness and spice.  Enjoy - Happy Fall Y'all!   

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rolling Gift Wrap Cart

For my first post I decided to share a recent project which involved organizing gift wrap, tissue paper, and curling ribbon - oh my!  I'm up to my eyeballs in gift wrap supplies!  


I like having a good variety of supplies but they tended to accumulate in random places around our home - hall closet, chest in guest room, and even under the bed.  I've tried a few organizational systems but they just didn't work for me.  Either they didn't hold everything or they weren't accessible enough.  I ended up buying more supplies which I didn't need because I couldn't locate the necessary supplies.  It's been driving me crazy to have these supplies scattered all over.  I wanted to have them all together in a central location which was portable (and preferably in my home office/creative space).  Is that asking too much?  Maybe...because the only space available was a small area (16" x 21") next to the built-in cabinets.  I needed a better system that was more accessible.  I've been problem-solving this for a few weeks and was determined to find a solution.

So here's the BEFORE picture of the small area I was talking about - roughly 3 square feet.

But I found the perfect solution when I came across the Raskog kitchen cart and plastic containers from IKEA.  The cart comes in turquoise, dark gray, and cream.  I chose turquoise because it coordinated with my room and the color just makes me happy.

I assembled it on my own in less than 30 minutes.   Super easy!  The cart is small enough that it could also be stored in a closet and it's portable.  It holds everything and I still have room for more supplies.

The bottom shelf holds 15 rolls of curling ribbon.  

The middle shelf holds a variety of paper shreds, 2 small plastic jars (empty for now), a collection of greeting cards (that's a simple project I'll share on another day), and a take-out container box.  

The top shelf is home to 3 magazine holders (which I already had on hand and decided to repurpose) - one holds gift bags and tissue paper, the second one holds small boxes, and the third one holds gift wrap rolls (10 rolls - can you believe that?).

I got lucky when I discovered the small white plastic containers (also from IKEA in the kitchen area) which hang from the end.  These come in a variety of colors so you can personalize this project to suit your style and decor.

These small containers hold: tape/adhesive, scissors, gift tags, pens. Two of them are empty so I have room to grow.


Here's the finished project in all of its organized glory.  It was a fun and easy project and I am thrilled with my new rolling gift wrap cart.  Well, that's a wrap!