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DIY Felt Flower Wreath

27 Sep

Felt Flower Wreath

In our last two apartments, I’ve avoided putting anything on our front door. I don’t really know why–I’ve seen many a cute wreath, door sign, etc. I think it stems from looking at wreaths in stores one solitary time and seeing high prices. Door decor is not something I’ve ever considered an area I wanted to excel at, so I shrugged off the whole DIY idea as well. I just resigned myself to keeping our front door minimal and empty.

But then.

Then I saw this sweet, welcoming wreath on Etsy.

I was in love. And I said to myself (as I’m often wont to do at places like Anthropologie…and the internet), “I could make that!” Except this time, I actually did.

Felt Flower Closeup

Now, of course the best (and most nicely made) option is to simply buy the wreath, but since the seller is on vacation (and I really did want to try my hand at some felt flowers), I went straight to the craft store.

$4.99 got me an 18″ grapevine wreath, and I grabbed a a spray of 99¢ fake hypericum berries, along with few felt sheets in gold, light/dark brown, cream, and pink. I would have preferred coral felt, but apparently it’s nowhere to be had (not kidding, I checked two Michael’s and two Hobby Lobby. I really like coral). If I’d had more time I would have ordered it from a seller on Etsy, but sometimes you just have to get a project done.

Felt Flower Wreath

I found some great tutorials on making felt flowers, and the round ones were incredibly easy. The puffy ones weren’t quite as simple, but they’re definitely doable. Just be careful, or you’ll end up with some nice hot glue gun battle scars.

Once the flowers were finished, I hot glued them to the wreath, stuck in the spray of berries and hung it happily on my door.

My future sister-in-law (yay!), Angela, recently wrote on Twitter, “Time to flip the switch from admiring to making for the evening. And go.” I’m really glad I didn’t let this DIY project pass through my mind like so many have before. Sometimes, when inspirations strikes, you have to turn off the computer and start the making!

Refreshed Carousel Spice Rack

24 Jan

carousel spice rack

Last weekend, I did some major cleaning. I’m talking the “pull-all-the-appliances-off-the-counters” kind of cleaning (which I admit, is somewhat rare for me). In the process, I had the striking realization that over half the spices in our carousel spice rack have never been opened or used. Since we got it for a wedding present three plus years ago, that means…they’re pretty much worthless.

The spice rack takes up a good bit of counter real estate, and I briefly considered giving it away so that I could have more space. But it was a wedding present! (Ok, not really that important.) But I like the way it looks! And I like the IDEA of having all my spices right there next to the stove, rather than in a cabinet that I can barely reach.

So it was decided–time for a refresh.

old spices

First, I took out all of the spice bottles and gave the rack a good wipe-down. It’s amazing what crud gets on your counter appliances and accessories, but nothing that a little soap and water can’t take care of.

Next came the difficult task of dumping out all the spices in to the trash. I kept the two that had whole unground spices (mustard seeds and coriander seeds) since those are supposed to last a little longer than three years. Even though I knew the spices that were expired had about the same amount of flavor as shaved wood, it still felt painful dumping them in the trash. I know, I’m sad.

spice template

I filled the sink with soapy water and put all the empty bottles and lids in to soak, save one. I happened to have a pack of label paper in my craft supplies, so (using the bottle lid as a stencil) I traced enough circles to cover the lids of all the spices. You can buy simple pre-cut circle stickers (there are even different colors) if you don’t have any label paper laying around. My circles were pretty loose, but I was going for more of a loose, hand drawn look than precision.

current spices

The next part was fun–I grabbed a chair and went through the spices in my cabinet, pulling out all the ones we use on a regular basis. We do use a lot of spices, and I can’t believe I’ve been keeping them way up high for so long. I know that if they’re too close to the stove, they lose their flavor more rapidly, but we go through them so quickly that I don’t think that will be an issue.

spice labels

I wrote the names of all the spices on the circles in ink–again, you can definitely go fancier and print them out, or use letter stamps–whatever suits your taste. I also used a library stamp to put numbers on each of them, just to add some more visual interest. The numbers didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted, but no matter. I can always make better labels down the road. :)

refreshed spice carousel

I rinsed out the bottles and let them dry overnight on a cookie rack. When all the moisture was gone, I stuck the labels on and then used a simple paper funnel to pour the spices in their respective jars.

Voila! A spice carousel with spices that I already own and will actually use. I’ve already been glad that I can reach right next to me instead of wayyyyy up above when I’m cooking. Plus, now my counter space doesn’t feel like it’s being wasted.

There’s no reason to keep things that you aren’t using, but before you throw it out or give it away, stop and consider if there’s a way you can refresh it so that you WILL use it.

The best part? I didn’t have to spend a dime.

Simple Baby Gift: Knit Bunnies

19 Jul

I love knitting things for babies. To start with, babies are small—therefore the projects are small, and are usually accomplished quickly. It’s so nice to start and finish in the same weekend. It doesn’t hurt that babies are extremely cute, so whatever you make for them is instantly elevated by their adorableness.

I came across this pattern when I was looking for something to make for two mom-to-be friends of mine. It’s from a great book called “Vintage Knits for Modern Babies” by Hadley Fierlinger. All the patterns are pretty easy to follow, and the knits are cute and classic. I always enjoy making things that seem timeless, so that hopefully one day I can pass down the same projects to my children.

Knit Bunny looking for carrots

This bunny knits up quickly and is pretty simple. It’s a nice size for newborns because it’s easy to tuck in to their car seat but it’s not so small that it gets lost in a bag. I use natural cotton yarns with the thought that there’s a good chance a little guy (or gal) might be chewing on it at some point.
Nana’s Bunnies
Beginner / intermediate

Finished Measurements
Height: 5½”

Materials
1 65 g skein Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Organic Cotton (100% cotton; 150 yds [137 m]) in #30 Birch (MC)
1 65 g skein Skinny Dyed Cotton in #305 Pink (CC)
US 4 (3.5 mm) straight needles
Yarn needle for finishing
Small amount of organic carded wool or polyester fiberfill or yarn scraps for stuffing
Yarn or embroidery thread and needle for embroidering on face and details
1 (¾” [2 cm]) pom-pom
Tip: The 2 skeins of yarn will make 2 to 3 bunnies, if you want to make several.

Gauge
28 sts and 34 rows make 4″ (10 cm) in St st

Directions

Body
Beg at bottom of bunny. With MC, CO 12 sts.
Row 1: *Inc1; rep from * to end—24 sts.
Knit even for 7 more rows with MC.
Knit 8 rows with CC.
Knit 2 rows with MC.
Knit 2 rows with CC.
Knit 2 rows with MC.
Knit 2 rows with CC.
Next row: With MC, k4, (k2tog) twice, k8, (k2tog) twice, k4—20 sts.
Knit 1 row with MC.
Next row: With CC, k3, (k2tog) twice, k6, (k2tog) twice, k3—16 sts.
Knit 1 row with CC.
Break off CC.

Head
Cont on 16 sts in MC only.
Next row (RS): *K1, inc1; rep from * to end—24 sts.
Work 9 rows St st, ending with a purl row.
Next row: *K1, k2tog; rep from * to end—16 sts.
Next row: Purl.
Next row: *K2tog; rep from * to end—8 sts.
Using yarn needle, thread yarn through rem sts, pull tight, and fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing up the back.

Ear (Make 2)
CO 6 sts with MC.
Row 1: *Inc1; rep from * to end—12 sts.
Work 11 rows in St st, ending with a purl row.
Next row: *K2tog; rep from * to end—6 sts.
BO.

Finishing
With RS together, using long yarn tail at top of head, sew back seam of head and body, leaving bottom open. Turn bunny right side out, stuff lightly, and then finish stitching bottom. To create “legs,” using same yarn, stitch through stuffing up the middle about 1½” (4 cm) or to first band of CC. Join ear seam, stuff ears lightly, and sew to head. Weave in ends. Embroider face on bunny using embroidery thread or yarn oddments. Sew on pom-pom for the tail.

Knit Bunny just chillin'

The pattern is reprinted from The Oregonian with permission from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies. Copyright © 2009 by Hadley Fierlinger, Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

DIY Succulent Planter

8 Jul

Succulents

My friend Nikki’s birthday was Tuesday, and I wanted to make her something fun. I decided to use succulents–they’re fun, organic, modern and best of all, easy to take care of. With just a few supplies and some lovely little plants, I made her a simple succulent planter. I took pictures along the way so you can make your own (as a present or just to spoil yourself).

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Succulent Planter Supplies

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need the following:

• a variety of small to medium succulents (3 to 5 plants works best)
• a container to plant them in (mine was from the thrift store, it was originally a light fixture)
• a bit of soil to fill in the planter
small rocks or pebbles (I used natural fish tank gravel–very inexpensive at your local pet store)

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Succulent Planting

2. Arrange the succulents and fill in the soil

Remove the succulents from their containers and place them in your container. Move them around until you have an arrangement that you’re happy with. Try to vary the heights and sizes to add interest. Once you’re set, fill in the gaps with your extra soil (use an old spoon to get in the sides or odd angles.

..

Pebbles cover the top soild of the planter

3. Cover the top with rocks or pebbles

Use a small amount of your rocks/pebbles to cover over the bare top soil. This keeps the soil from getting too moist, along with preventing weeds (and making it look more polished).

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Birthday present, check!

4. Add a special note and enjoy!

Use twine, yarn, or rope to attach a note (if it’s a present). If it’s staying with you, use a toothpick or half of a wooden skewer to place a whimsical sign in the planter.

Instructions for care:

Lightly spritz or water once every two weeks. Keep in as much sunlight as possible! You may encounter some dried or brown leaves every now and then, just remove them and more will grow.

Simplify Your Skin with the Oil Cleansing Method

17 Jun

Oil Cleansing Method

I’ve never had perfect skin. I’ve also never had crazy skin. In fact, my skin has lived solidly in “average” territory for pretty much my entire life. It went the troubled route for a bit in high school, when I tried all sorts of systems: Clinique, Proactiv, even a fancy routine from Philosophy. But I never noticed much of a difference (luckily, I returned the Proactiv and Philosophy systems, thanks to their money-back guarantee). So I went back to buying whatever cleanser was on sale at the store, with no change in my skin at all.

I’ve continued with a pretty basic routine, especially since I’m now in my mid-twenties and with average skin, that means less breakouts. I didn’t have much of a reason to change, except that as I tried to simplify my life, I knew that there had to be a more natural, frugal way to keep my skin clean.

And, of course, there is–the Oil Cleansing Method.

I first heard about the Oil Cleansing Method from Stephanie at Keeper of the Home (check out her great step-by-step video). It’s simple, super cheap and makes my face happy. It may sound a little strange to clean your face with oil, but oil is not the main culprit when it comes to breakouts and problem skin. Oil is secreted by your pores to protect your skin and keep it moisturized. The real problems typically arise from a mix of trapped dirt and hormones.

The science is pretty basic: the best way to dissolve oil is with oil. At the end of the day, we need to replace the bad oil (which contains dirt and bacteria) on our skin’s surface with good, clean oil. Most manufactured cleansers remove the oil completely by stripping it from the skin, without replacing it with the good stuff. They also contain chemicals and fragrances that can irritate the skin, causing it to act out and get crazy. For even more details on the science, check out this article.

Oil Cleanse

There are a number of step-by-step methods out there, but here’s what I do:

1. Mix the oil

I use a mixture of one part Extra Virgin Olive Oil to three parts Castor Oil. You may find that Castor Oil is a little trickier to get these days–while most grocery stores should carry it, availability can vary. I get mine from Target (they keep it behind the counter at the pharmacy, you just have to ask). It’s a little over a dollar for a small bottle, which should last you at over a month. Mix the two oils in a small container or jar. I use a small capped olive oil bottle (like in the picture above) that I got from Walmart for a dollar or two. Keep your oil out of the sun (mine lives in our bathroom cabinet) so that it will last longer.

2. Massage in the oil

At the end of the day, pour a nickel-sized amount of oil into the palm of your hand and use your finger to massage it into your dry skin–yes, dry. Don’t scrub or press too hard, but take a few moments to gently rub it in.

3. Cleanse

Let the water run for a moment until it gets really hot (but not scalding), then soak a washcloth under it. Bring the cloth up to cover your face, and hold it there until it becomes room temperature (about thirty seconds). Relax and allow the steam to open up your pores. Once the washcloth is room temperature, use it to wipe off the remaining oil from your face (again, don’t scrub, just rub gently). I usually repeat this step twice.

That’s it! You may notice a slight increase in breakouts for the first couple of days as your pores open up, but as they are cleared out your skin will be brighter and more radiant.

The Oil Cleansing Method removes makeup better than any cleanser I’ve used, keeps skin moisturized and soft, and it’s cheap. Happy face + happy wallet = happy me.

Scrub-a-dub-dub: Homemade Daily Shower Spray

8 Jun

Shower Spray

I like daily shower spray. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it keeps me from having to scrub my shower like a fifties housewife (you know, big yellow gloves, hair in a bandanna, etc.).

What I don’t like is spending my hard-earned cash on a new bottle of chemicals every month. Bad for my lungs AND my wallet. So when I was at the end of my bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Daily Shower Spray, I decided it was time to make my own concoction.

I did a little browsing on the interweb and found a few different combination, but the mix below is what I ended up with (after a little tweaking). It works well, smells great and best of all, I can make it with things I pretty much always have on hand.

Homemade Daily Shower Spray

• 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
• 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
• 3 drops dish-washing liquid
• 3 drops essential oil (I like lavender)
• 1 teaspoon liquid spot-free dishwasher rinse
• 12 oz. water

Combine in a spray bottle (I used my empty Mrs. Meyer’s bottle) and shake well. Spray daily after showering and enjoy not having to scrub-a-dub-dub nearly so often!

Note: Keep away from sunlight if you are using a light/clear spray bottle–sunlight causes the hydrogen peroxide to degrade, and makes it less effective as a cleaner.

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