Ruffle Curtains Tutorial!

28 January 2013

I have been seeing these amazing ruffled curtains around the internet and I knew I needed to have them in my craft room.  This method may seem a bit complicated, but it is easier than you think!  The ruffle is very forgiving since there is a lot of free-flowing textures, so if your lines are a little off or your ruffles are uneven, it will still look just how it should. 

You will need:
7 yards of fabric - I used a lightweight cotton, but you could use anything that you like
white thread
a sewing machine
a ruler & rotary cutter (you could use scissors, but a quilters set will really make this MUCH easier for you!)

Make yourself a basic curtain.  Just measure your fabric to the size of your window + about 4-5" inches and cut. Use that 4-5" to fold over and make a seem - this is where you will put the pole though.

Next, you need to make your ruffles!  How many ruffles you would like to have is up to you -this part just requires a smidge of math on your part, here's how:

Total length of your curtain ÷ # of ruffles you'd like + 2" (for the overhang of each layer, you could do a little more if you'd like)  = height of each fabric strip.  
The width will be about twice as wide as your curtain.

I liked the shaggy look, so I did about 7 layers of 10", but  you can customize it to your ascetic.

Now, let's start making the ruffles! 

Using a loose long stitch, stitch along the length of top of the strip (about 1/2" down from the edge) - do not backstitch. Now, grab the end of the string at the end and give it a little pull (careful not to pull too hard and break the thread). This will start to give you a ruffle, just keep pulling and adjusting the fabric as you go (don't worry about making it even at this point, you can finess once you start to place it).  I think it's ideal to just do all of your ruffles at the same time, so repeat the process through all your strips.

Once you have the ruffle ready, lay it down on your curtain and adjust it until the width is just right.  Start your first ruffle right about where your seem for the curtain rod is.  Pin the ruffle in place along the line and stitch it in place.  Follow that same process of pinning and stitching for all the layers.  Each of the layers should be set about 1"-2" above where the one above it ends.  You could adjust this overhang to be more or less depending on what you like.

I really like the idea of the curtain looking a bit shabby chic, so I decided that I wanted to leave the bottom raw rather than hemming it.  You could hem the bottom if you'd like a cleaner finish, just add about an inch to the height of each strip and fold over & sew.

You can also use this method to create other projects as well!  I did the exact same process for the dessert table at our wedding - I just started with a premade fitted tablecloth and attached ruffles across the front panel.  I absolutely love how special it turned out!

Now go on, ruffle everything!

101 Adorable Valentine Puns!

24 January 2013

I obviously really like puns & there is no better holiday to break out the puns than on Valentine's Day!  A silly little pun paired with a cute image is a recipe for valentine perfection in my book.  It harkens back to my favorite valentines of the 30s, 40s, & 50s.

A silly pun is the perfect starting point for your crafty valentine making this year, so dive in and shower your friends and loved ones with some punny love!

And so, I present to you, 101 of my very favorite Valentine puns...

Animal puns:
Bat : I am batty about you
Bear :  Can’t bear to be without you
Bees : Bee mine / You are the bees knees
Butterfly : You make my heart all aflutter
Cat : You’re the cat’s meow
Cuddlefish : Wanna cuddle?
Deer : Happy Valentine’s Day, Deer / You're such a deer
Dinosaur : You are dino-mite
Elephant : Don’t forget to be my Valentine
Fish : Hooked on you / You're a catch
Fox : You are foxy
Hippo : I love you a ton
Kangaroo : Hop to it and be my Valentine
Lion : I ain’t lion when I say I love you
Monkey : I’m hanging around to be your Valentine
Mosquito : I can’t resist you
Octopus : I’m a sucker for you / my arms long for you
Otter : Glad you are my significant otter
Owl :  Owl always love you
Porcupine : I pine for you
Sheep : I love ewe
Skunk : I am so scenti-mental about you
Snake : You’re the besssssst
Tiger : You are grrrrreat
Whale : Whale you be my valentine

Button: You are cute as a button
Gardening Tools : I dig you
Glue, Stickers : I am stuck on you
Knitting, Yarn: Wool you be my valentine
Marker or Pen : You are just write for me
Ruler : You rule
Scissors : You're a cut above the rest
Sewing Supplies : Sew in love, I love you sew much (super simple gift idea!)

Apple : You are the apple of my eye
Banana: I’m bananas for you
Berry : You are berry sweet
Cake : You take the cake
Candy : Have a sweet Valentine’s Day / You’re sweet, Valentine
Coffee : You perk up my heart / I like you a latte
Cooking supplies, Stove : What's cookin good lookin
Fortune Cookies : I’m fortunate to be with you
Hot Cocoa : You warm my heart
Hot Dog : Frankly, I like you
Ice Cream : You melt my heart
Mason Jar, Canned Goods : You can be my valentine
Measuring Cups, Spoons, Measuring Tape : Our love is immeasurable
Mints : We are mint to be
Nuts : I’m nuts about you
Olives : Olive you
Orange : You’re my main squeeze / Orange you glad you're my valentine?
Peach : You are such a peach!
Peanut Butter & Jelly : We go together like peanut butter and jelly
Pear : We are the perfect pear
Peas : We are two peas in a pod
Pie : You’re a cutie pie
Plum : You are plum perfect for me
Pretzel : You tie my heart in knots
Soda : I'd soda like to be your valentine
Soup : You’re souper
Tea : You are pre-tea cute / You fit me to a tea / You are my cup of tea

Beaker : You have the formula for my love
Book : You’re tops in my book
Calculator : You + Me = Love
Glasses : I only have eyes for you
Robot : I'm nuts & bolts about you / I like you a bot
Rock You rock my world
Rocketship, Astronaut : You are out of this world / my heart soars for you
Stethoscope, EKG : My heat beats for you
Superhero : I think you're super
X-Ray : My heart radiates for you

Arrow : You make my heart quiver
Band-Aid : I’m stuck on you
Bandit : You stole my heart
Boat : You float my boat
Bowling : You are striking / you bowl me over
Boxing gloves : You’re a knock out
Broom : You sweep me off my feet
Car : You drive me crazy
Chandelier : You light up my heart / I fancy you
Cowboy: Glad to have you as my pardner
Cuckoo Clock : I am cuckoo for you
Drum: My heart beats for you
Dump Truck: I dig you
Fire: You warm my heart
Key : You have the key to my heart
Letter : You are write for me
Lightbulb : you light up my heart
Map, Compass : I’m lost without you
Matches : We’re a perfect match
Mittens : I’m smitten
Motorcycle, Bicycle : I wheelie like you
Pirate : You Arrrrrr Wonderful
Puzzle : We’re the perfect fit / You complete me
Record : Just for the record, I love you
Record Player : I like having you around
Socks : You rock my socks
Typewriter : You are just my type
Umbrella : I would like to shower you with love
Viking : I've taking a viking to you
Watch, Clock :  I love you big time
Woodgrain, Tree : Wood you be my Valentine?
What are your favorite puns?  What did I miss?

Here are a few simple gifts you can make with these cute puns...

Tidy Tuesday: For the Love of Pyrex

22 January 2013

I adore vintage pyrex.  It's beautifully colorful & vibrant and it reminds me of a darling 1950s style.  I have been collecting for a few years and I am always adding more pieces from my thrifting ventures and  every now & then my collection seems a little out of hand.   A little reorganizing really helps make the collection more of a pretty little display piece for the kitchen.

This is not my entire collection, but it is the best of what I could fit on the shelf space that I have at the moment!  I am on the hunt for a new way to redo the kitchen to fit a bigger shelf and I am also trying to pare the collecting down just a but and focus more on the sizes and styles I like most.

Satsuma Cupcakes

19 January 2013

To go along with my Chicken Pad See Ew dinner this week, I wanted to make a bright dessert.  I found some beautiful satsuma oranges at the produce stand and I knew they were destine to be cupcakes!  You could use just about any kind of citrus for this recipe.

The only tricky thing to think about when you are working with citrus in cupcakes is to remember that citric acid responds to milk by making it curdle, so it's important to add it at just the right time after most of your ingredients are combined in order to minimize the chance to have a curdling issue.  I adore these with pretty little satsumas, but you could replace the satsumas with whatever orange citrus looks good at your local market.

Satsuma Cake:
zest of 1 orange
juice of 2 oranges
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix together flour, baking powder, zest and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together milk, vanilla, and juice, mix. cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, and add the eggs. Slowly add in the dry mixture and then the milk mixture. This batter will be thick.
Fill your liners (about 3/4 full) and bake for 20-25 minutes
Let cool before frosting.

Satsuma Icing:
1 stick of butter, softened (8 tablespoons)
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (about 1 orange)
juice of about 2 oranges

Start by beating the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla & zest. Add juice little by little while you continue to mix until you reach the consistency you like for your frosting. If you like a stiffer frosting, just add a bit less juice. I liked a nice flavorful & fluffy frosting, so 2 oranges were perfect for that.

Makes about 15 cupcakes.

I love these cupcakes. They are not super sweet and I just adore the way the fresh satsuma brightens the flavor.

$5 Meal - Easy Chicken Pad See Ew!

18 January 2013

I love Thai food.  One of my favorites is Pad See Ew.  It may not look like much, but it is a hearty & flavorful blend of noodles, chicken, and broccoli...and it is suprisingly easy & economical to make at home!

The only thing that is a little special about this recipe is that is calls for dark soy sauce & oyster sauce.  Dark soy sauce is a little different than your standard soy sauce because it is aged a little longer with some additives to make it thicker & this also gives it a bit less saltiness.  Both sauces are really easy to find at any Asian market &  each cost less than $3 for a bottle.

I usually cook for 2, but if you're cooking for a party of family, this recipe doubles wonderfully!

2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound) - sliced into thin strips - 1.99
4 oz wide rice noodles - .75
1 cup bite sized broccoli florets - .75
2 tablespoons vegetable oil - .10
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce - .07
1 egg white plus 1 whole egg - .20
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce - .25
1/2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar - .10
2 cloves garlic, minced, optional - .10

Total cost - $4.31 for two servings (2.16 per serving)

Place the dry rice noodles in a bowl, cover with hot water, and let soak until soft (but not too mushy) - about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil & cook the broccoli in the boiling water until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat a wok over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon oil. Stir in 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce, the chicken and 1 egg white. Stir constantly until the chicken is partially cooked and the egg white has set. Set this aside.
Now that you've prepped all the parts, you are ready to make the magic happen! Heat the wok over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add all your ingredients - starting with the rice noodles, remaining soy sauce, oyster sauce, & vinegar.  Next, add the chicken and broccoli mixture and stir to incorporate. Cook this until the chicken is white and tender.

What I love most about this recipe is that it is quick, easy, and also really flexible.  You can use any other kind of protein - tofu, shrimp, beef, etc will work just as well!   Traditionally, broccoli is the only vegetable, but you could add variety like bok choy or cabbage.  You could also omit the oyster sauce and use tofu or tempeh to make this vegan.

Makin' Sprouts!

16 January 2013

For Christmas, my husband bought me one of these neat spouters that I had my eye on for awhile.  There is something that I absolutely love about watching a tiny seed turn into a completely new thing and this is as close to instant gardening satisfaction that I think I will ever get!

Day 1

Day 3

Day 7

I bought a variety pack of seeds to try them out from amazon.  I sprouted 4 different types (one on each level) and I have to say - they are pretty rad.  The broccoli & alfalfa sprouts were really successful,  but the bean sprouts were not.   The beans ended up not really sprouting and getting a bit of might have been the seeds or just that they were on the bottom tray.

It was like a fun little science experiment & it's nice to add a good healthy element to our kitchen.  I guess there are only so many things two people can eat sprouts on, but I am up for the challenge.

Tidy Tuesday : Wrapping Paper Organization!

15 January 2013

A few years ago, I bought one of these stand up wrapping paper containers at a yard sale thinking it would make me organized.   In reality, it was just a big awkward catchall for me to throw any and all gift related junk into and it took up valuable closet floor space.   I genuinely love the holidays and making pretty birthday packages and I dream of one day being able to have a gift wrapping station just like Martha Stewart, but that just isn't very practical for now.   For now, I will settle for this handy giftwrap redo.

I wanted something that could hand in my craft room closet and stay out of the way, so I bought this beauty from amazon for less than $10 (beware, you probably should also plan to buy a heavy duty hanger with it as well because if you have an arsenal like I do, your plastic hanger will break in a minute) and I love it.  

Now, I can easily see everything that I own at a glance and just be able to grab and wrap.  It has multiple pockets so that I can fit all kinds of sizes of wrap as well as tissue paper and gift tags.  The only real issue is that it didn't have space for my gift bags or ribbon.

My solution was picking up a swing arm pant hanger (like this) from Target.  It gave me plenty of room to store all of my ribbon & also have a few layers for all my gift bags.

I am pretty excited that I now have extra floor space in my closet and my wrap, ribbon, and gift bags are all perfectly organized.  Never again will I scramble to make the perfectly wrapped gift!

On Fostering...

13 January 2013

I realized a few years ago that I was missing something in my life. Something that expressed gratitude and gave me that feeling of making a difference. I had become so wrapped up in my career and other little things that I forgot to step away. That longing didn't make the other priorities in my life disappear, but I knew I had to make some small actions of volunteerism. I decided then to start working with the local humane society. I have always had a soft spot for animals and it seemed to make sense.

I decided that rather than working in the shelter, I could take on fosters.  We started fostering a couple of years ago.  So far, we have taken in several litters of kittens + two chinchillas.

Kittens must be at least two pounds in order to be fixed and then adopted out, so they sometimes come in underweight and need a place to live until they are ready.  I try to limit myself to just doing a few litters a year so that I don't overwhelm myself (or my husband).

Since I started fostering animals, people often ask me how I do it.  I don't know that I have a good answer for this...I suppose I don't really know how I could not do it.  Sure, there is a little heartbreak when you are with a little furry baby for a month and then suddenly they go away, but they aren't really going away, they are going to awesome homes and going to brighten someone elses life and it makes me feel amazing that I was somehow part of that process.

A sad truth is that baby animals are fragile, so sometimes they don't make it.  We have lost a few in this process and it does absolutely break my heart when that happens, but I think it also makes me stronger as a person.

Mostly though, fostering is full of so much gratification and adorable moments.  I get to have tiny kittens at their tiniest and cutest and I get watch them play and learn to be cats.  I get to relish in cuddle puddles on my lap.  It is also full of learning experiences.   I have learned so many things in my fostering experience - from how to kittens socialize to even being able to put an IV into a kitten to be sure it has fluids.  Each time I foster, I feel more confident in my abilities.

I also had always dreamed of having chinchillas, so when a pair were available for foster I was really excited to have that experience.  It turns out chinchillas are not dream pet, but I am so glad I got to learn that and I did really enjoy their silly dust baths and working with them to help them trust people.

Fostering has given me a chance to experience really wonderful things.  If you've ever considered making a difference with animals, I would really recommend giving fostering a try!  Get in touch with your local shelter!

Tidy Tuesday : Nail Polish Organization!

08 January 2013

A friend recently reminded me that even though the prospect of establishing more organization in my life is a daunting task, it's really just all about the tiny pieces that make up the whole.  And so, rather than some insane life renovation in one day, I will be challenging myself to organize at least one area of my home or life in the next few weeks.   I will win the war on clutter through these tiny battles.

I am starting with my nail polish.  I have a lot of nail more than any person could need in their entire lifetime, but I have come to peace with this obsession.  What I have not come to peace with is the way the nail polish is all over my home and how I probably have 3 of the same color because I can never find it when I need it.

I am embarrassed to say how much thought and research went into this decision, but the system I have decided on is a simple under the bed storage bin that I already had (which just so happens to fit perfectly under my couch in the living room - where I do my nails).  I picked up about 12 clear drawer organizers in a few sizes (I got mine at Fred Meyer, but you can find different styles almost anywhere).  These fit perfectly and allow the nail polish to stay in place when I move the tub and it also allowed me to easily organize by color and have a special place for the konad, stripers, files, and other miscellaneous supplies.

I am pretty thrilled.  I can now see exactly what I have so that the next time I go to the store and see a color I just need to have, I can really honestly tell myself that I have way too much purple and maybe even resist the temptation.  I also love that it puts my hoard out of the way, but I can still access it super easily whenever the mani mood strikes.  

Ellie approves of organization!

12 Nerdy Cupcakes That Any Geek Can Make!

06 January 2013

Two things that I really like are cupcakes and things that are nerdy.  You know what I don't like so much?  Spending hours and hours trying to do detail work on cupcakes.  And so, I give you 12 awesome nerd-tastic cupcakes that are not only awesome looking, but also relatively easy to make!

These amazing Dr. Who cupcakes with free printable wrapper download!

This Storm Trooper cupcakes are super easy to make - just a cupcake + marshmallow + food safe marker = BAM!  I was so inspired, that I made these gems for my coworker's birthday last month!

Harry Potter butterbeer cupcakes 

Super simple Kirby cupcakes!

Easy zombie cupcakes. What?  You don't have a photo of your friends dressed as zombies like I do?  That is weird, but you could just use some clip art, cardstock, and toothpicks to make zombie-riffic cupcake picks of your own.  The blood is just a bit of red gel food coloring + water - take it outside and dip a fork in it for blood splattering fun!

Braaaains...delicious chocolate ganache filled brains!

Nerds cupcakes...for nerds! 

Don't really want to decorate cupcakes at all?  It's ok, just use these rad robot cupcake molds instead!

Now go forth and spread some sweet nerdy love!

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

02 January 2013

I know it sounds cliche, but I am starting 2013 with a truly new start.  This year is about rediscovering a new kind of joy and a new life for myself.  I am challenging myself to not put my whole self-worth into any one thing, but rather into myself and all the dynamic things that make me who I am and that make me happy.   I think this is why am picking up this blog again - it is with a renewed sense of excitement and a new set of priorities.

2012 has been a year full of ups and downs for me.  It has been a year of heartache, lost friendships, health issues, and a recent departure from a job that had grown to be a part of me.  More importantly, 2012 has been a year of amazing and wonderful things & I want to cherish those things.

Highlights of 2012...

Planned my dream wedding & married my best friend
Had surgery to restore my hearing dramatically
Got 2 amazing new tattoos (and found myself a wonderful new tattoo artist)
Had an amazing bridal shower & bachelorette party thrown by 3 of the most amazing friends a girl could ask for
Made massive amounts of jam & some pretty epic cupcakes
Fostered 6 tiny kittens
Visited Atlanta & San Jose for the first time

I am looking forward to 2013.  Though I am feeling a little intimidated by stepping into this next chapter of unknown, I am optimistic.

In 2013, I hope to...
Visit amazing places I've never seen before
Find a job that allows me to have a balance in my life
Rediscover the things I love about my personal life
Be more adventurous & fearless
Make new friends (and appreciate the ones I have)
Get more organized
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