Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hair Bow Holder, Part Deux

About a month and a half ago I posted about the adorable, handpainted, personalized hair bow holders my cousin made for Ada and Ellie.  Scott's cousin, Erin, saw the post and requested a similar bow holder for her darling daughter, Erlianyss (Erli for short).  Erin said not to worry about matching to a bedroom color but to go with something "girly" and also pointed out that Erli has a lot of big hair bows.

So..."something girly."  Seemed to me like pink was in order, though I know this is an uber-stereotype.  But, like it or not, strawberry pink kinda screams GIRL!!! so that's the color I based the bow holder around.  I purchased all of my supplies at Michael's, starting with a wide wood plaque.

I went with a wider version of Ada's and Ellie's bow holders so I could space the ribbons out a bit more, given the tip from Erin that Erli has a lot of big hair bows.  Since the plaque itself was wider I bought wooden letters to spell out her whole nickname instead of just an "E."  I painted the edges of the plaque and the wooden letters strawberry pink.  Then I used a small foam roller and some leftover pale yellow paint from our kitchen walls to paint the top of the plaque.  After the yellow had dried I taped off one thin line on each side of the plaque and added a brighter yellow accent line.

After the yellow lines had dried I brushed on some gloss varnish I had left over from...I kid you not...a college art class 14 years ago.  I bought this bottle in a tiny art supply store in Gettysburg, PA and it is still perfectly good.  So if you want to buy a bottle of the stuff, well, it should last you a long, long time.  The varnish gave the whole thing a nice soft sheen.  I used wood glue to attach the letters to the plaque, centered between the yellow lines, and then added the little felt-and-wood-button flower accents, which I found in the bridal section of Michael's.

Next up were the ribbons.  I layered two together by running a strip of Aleene's No-Sew Fabric Glue down the center of a yellow floral ribbon and pressing a thinner strawberry pink ribbon down on top of the glue.  I tried putting the glue on the pink ribbon and then pressing it down but I found it was easier, less messy, and more exact to run the glue down the bottom ribbon.

After the glue on the ribbons was completely dry, I turned the plaque over and marked three equidistant spots near the bottom to attach them.  I added a bit of glue to each spot and pressed the ribbons into place.  At the top of the back I attached two metal hanging loops (found them in the picture frame section of Michael's), spacing them equal distance from the outer edges to make sure the plaque would hang straight on the wall.

Once the glue holding the ribbons to the plaque was dry I added a few final accents to the front of the ribbons.  I took three more of the felt-and-button flowers (green leaves removed because I liked the look better) and glued them to the bottoms of the ribbons.

I made three small bows out of yellow ribbon (be sure to use some kind of anti-fray product at the cut edges of the ribbon) and glued them to the tops of the layered ribbons.

I packaged the whole thing up and sent it on its way, and a few days later Erin sent me a photo of Erli's new hair bow holder hung up and in use.

And here I thought there was going to be sooo much extra space for future hair bows! 

p.s. I'll be signing off the blog world until next Monday.  The girls and I are spending the rest of the week with my parents and grandmom at my family's mountain lake house and there is little cell reception and no internet.  Enjoy the end of June, friends...didn't I just write "happy June??...and I'll see you back in full force next week.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pool Party and a Christening

Scott, Ada, Ellie and I hit the road mid-afternoon this past Friday to drive to Pennsylvania, about 40 minutes northwest of Philadelphia, where I grew up and where most of my immediate and extended family still lives.  My parents throw a couple of family reunion parties every summer - one with my dad's side of the family and one with my mom's side - and this past Saturday was the gathering with my dad's side.  The parties are always a great time and have become especially lively in recent years as the little-person ranks have grown.  The pool practically boils with activity, everyone chips in favorite dishes to make up a delicious meal, and it's just so much fun spending the day with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece, aunts, uncles, cousins, and all of their sweet children.


Ada splashing around with my brother, Matt

My soggy girls

Setting up for our annual family photo...final shot not in hand yet!

Yesterday was my darling, spirited, joyful niece's baptism, and Scott and I were so touched when my brother and sister-in-law asked us to be Lily's godparents.  I realize I'm not entirely objective here, but is this child not gorgeous??

Wearing my baptismal gown from...ahem...34 years ago.

Ada loves - LOVES - being the big cousin

A busy weekend for us, but filled with lots of fun time with family.  Spending time with Lily is always a bright spot and we loved being a part of her christening day.  We'll be spending the rest of this week in PA, including a few days at my family's lake house.  But more on that later...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fresh Margaritas

Fresh, homemade margaritas have become one of our favorite weekend cocktails.  After I made these margs for the first time, with freshly-squeezed lemon and lime and not a drop of pre-packaged mix, it was all over for me.  I've never been able to go back to a pre-made mix.  It's hard to put into words how much better these are...imagine the difference between a Twinkie and a freshly baked cupcake with velvety buttercream and you're close.

It takes a little elbow grease to squeeze the citrus, but I promise you it is worth every twist of the wrist.  If you have an electric juicer (and, seriously, why do I not have an electric juicer??) you'll be sipping a refreshing cocktail in no time.

Fresh Margaritas

1 c. white tequila
1 c. triple sec
5 limes
4 lemons
*simple syrup

In a large pitcher, mix the tequila, triple sec, and juice of 4 limes and 3 lemons.  Add simple syrup to taste - I add about 1/4 c.  Dilute with ice cold water to taste.  Slice the remaining lime and lemon into thin rounds for garnish.

*For simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar in a microwave safe bowl or in a saucepan and warm in microwave or on stovetop until sugar dissolves.  I usually do 1 c. sugar and 1 c. water and keep the extra in the fridge - it's great for iced coffee!

Click here for printable recipe.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Healthy{er} Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach artichoke dip is such a crowd-pleaser, and this version is a whole lot better for you than the usual dip - delicious for sure - but loaded with mayo and sour cream.  This one is pretty well full of vegetables and much of the traditional mayo and sour cream have been replaced with yogurt and neufchatel cheese.  I like to serve it warm with whole grain crackers and sliced dipping vegetables, like carrots and cucumbers.  I prep everything in the food processor so it goes together super quickly.

Healthy{er} Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 c thawed, whole leaf frozen spinach
1 c thawed, frozen artichoke hearts or 15 oz can artichoke hearts, drained
6 oz neufchatel cheese
1/4 c plain yogurt
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/3 c grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
few dashes of hot sauce
english cucumber, sliced into rounds
carrots, peeled and sliced into sticks
Whole grain crackers

Preheat broiler.

Pulse spinach and artichokes a few times in a food processor to chop.  Warm neufchatel cheese in the microwave until soft, then add to food processor with all remaining ingredients until vegetables are moderately chopped and ingredients are combined. Spoon into an ovenproof dish and place under broiler just until top begins to brown.

Serve with whole grain crackers and sliced vegetables.

Click here for printable recipe.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Embellished Photo Frame

I'm definitely more handy than I am crafty and usually feel like my "craft" projects come out looking just eh.  But this one I'm actually pretty happy with and am already cooking up plans for a larger manifestation on a mirror in the playroom. 

Course, I can't take all the credit here...I saw this amazing idea for a mirror frame on rachelbishopdesigns.com a little while ago and have been thinking of trying it out since then.


How amazing does it look on that mirror??  I think it almost has a capiz shell look.

But back to my small little experiment with the technique.  I had "interviewed" Ada for Father's Day and wanted a cute frame to put it in.  I bought a very plain white frame from Michael's.

The only small circular wood shapes they had came in a combo bag of about 9,623 assorted shapes, but I was under the gun and so bought it, spent about an hour sorting circles out of the melange, and wouldn't you know, there weren't enough to go around the whole frame.  So I just lined the top and bottom by spreading some wood glue across the frame, laying two side-by-side rows, and then spread a line of glue down the middle of the rows and lay a single line of circles on top.  

I spray painted the whole thing glossy white after the glue was dry.
The interview looks cute in it for now and we can use the frame for a photo down the road.

I did spot this collection of wood circles online that would probably make the sorting process a bit easier when I get around to trying this process on the playroom mirror!

p.s. Can you make out Ada's response to how much her Daddy weighs?  Yeah.  "The same as Mommy."  Nice.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

This strawberry tart looks rather majestic all piled high with glossy strawberries on a footed cake plate.  But it is actually so easy to make.  It's nothing more than a food-processor tart crust, pre-baked, and then filled with a super simple mascarpone and cream filling and topped with fresh strawberries.  You brush the strawberries with a little jam to get that beautiful shine.  Its taste is reminiscent of strawberry shortcake, which I've mentioned before is one of my most favorite desserts, so this appeals to me for obvious reasons.  I'd recommend making this when you have enough people to gobble up most of it the same day it's made.  It's still okay the next day but the strawberries start to get a little watery, so it really best showcases all that's wonderful about summer strawberries the same day it's made.

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

For crust:
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp cream

For filling:
1 c. mascarpone cheese
3/4 c. cream
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

For topping:
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 tbsp. strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 400.

For crust, pulse flour, powdered sugar, and salt once or twice in food processor to blend.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Whisk egg yolks and cream in a small bowl to blend then add to processor with motor running and process until mixture just starts to come together.  Pour into a tart pan with removable bottom and press gently, making sure dough goes up the sides.  Line the crust with nonstick foil (nonstick side down!) and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and lower heat to 350.  Remove the foil and pie weights and return crust to oven for about 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden and set.  Let cool.

 For cream, beat all ingredients with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

Spread the filling into the cooled crust.

Remove the crust from the tart pan and place on a cake stand or plate.  Scatter the strawberries across the top and brush with jam.

I made this when we had some longtime friends over for dinner recently and my friend, Stacey, made this amazing fresh strawberry and rhubarb pie.  So we had a little strawberry-tasting party.  I will never turn down double desserts.

And totally unplanned, Ada and their youngest daughter, Sadie, had matching strawberry pajamas on that night.  How's that for a theme coming together?

Click here for printable recipe.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Master Bedroom + {DIY} Euro Shams

Yes...I have just finished making more pillow covers.  What can I say, I'm a fool for pillows these days.  Seems to come in waves, I've barely made any in the last couple of years and suddenly half the rooms in our house are bedecked in new covers.  Hopefully you are enjoying the glimpses into different rooms in my house amid all of the pillow talk.

So here we go in the master bedroom.  This is what the room looked like when we bought it (with the previous owner's furnishings).

During the late summer of 2008, about 6 months pregnant, I installed the woodwork treatment on the walls and painted everything a warm cream color.  We had the white and cream colored bedding by then as well as a cream area rug.  So, a lot of cream, and while I do like neutrals, I was feeling like the room needed some color.  When I came across this upholstery fabric from Pottery Barn I loved it instantly, but was hesitant to bring orange into the room.

I'm typically drawn to blues and greens and whites so this was really out of my comfort zone, but in the end I really just loved the fabric and so took the leap and have not regretted it a day since.  To me, the chair feels like perfect mix of contemporary, classic, and whimsical.

Pottery Barn had these orange and cream embroidered pillow shams around the same time I had the chair upholstered and so I added them to our bedding...and this is how the room sat for the next 3.5 years.  I just sort of lost steam and direction on it as other projects (and 2 babies) took over.

So this past month or so, finally, I regrouped and decided to finish the bedding.  I kept coming back to this ensemble from Serena & Lily:

I wasn't in the market for a new duvet, and wasn't sure I wanted quite that much navy in our room anyway, but I did like the play of orange and navy and so set out with my orange embroidered pillow shams in hand to track down a navy fabric from which to make three euro shams.  When I came across this fabric by P Kaufmann (Jacobean Batik Floral - Inoteca Indigo) I knew instantly that it was what I wanted. 

The drapes in our room are a textured cream, the rug is cream, the background of the chair fabric is cream, so this navy on a cream background felt right, even though I love the crisp look of navy on pure white.

I washed and dried the fabric before cutting anything because I wanted to be sure to get any shrinkage out of the way before making my shams, then followed the same process as in this post.  The fabric for each sham was cut to 28x60".  And a little tip for you if you need the actual pillow forms - they can be a bit pricey, but Sears, via kmart.com, sells a nice firm one for $9.99.  Even if you have to pay shipping (and they often have free shipping promos) this is far, far cheaper than anywhere else I've seen.

My initial thought was to use the orange shams with the blue but it wound up feeling like way too much.

I tried the quilted king shams with the blue euro ones and like the look much more.  They coordinate with the other colors in the duvet cover and match the quilt exactly so it made the whole bed feel more cohesive to me.  And I still had the bit of orange in the lumbar pillow to tie in with the upholstered chair.

The lumbar pillow was a bit of a DIY as well.  I made it by hacking up an old sham from Anthropologie I had stored in the attic.  It started at 22" square, but the newly finished size is 12x22".  I bought a cream velvet fabric to make back panels for an envelope closure back.


And so, after all these years, I feel like our master bedroom is just about finished...at least until I decide to change something else.  I've recently been obsessing over the idea of converting our headboard to an upholstered one to break up all the dark furniture in our room.  But my to-do project list never seems to shrink, new items just get tacked on the bottom, so for now I will just lay back and enjoy my comfy and colorful new shams.

*To see an update to the master bedroom, click here.