31 December 2012


I do love a good package. One of my favorite parts of Christmas preparation is wrapping up the givings. I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. And may your New Year be happy and bright.

If you find you have nothing to do and would like to wrap up a little something for some close friends or family, here's a Cinnamon Honey Butter recipe and free printable label. It doesn't take long to make and could be done for the New Year.

Makes 3 half pint jars - Double the recipe for about 6-7 jars
1 cup Honey
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3 half pint canning jars

1. Combine all ingredients in bowl. Using whisk attachment on mixer blend until smooth    
    and creamy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
2. Use rubber spatula to pour mixture in to a large pastry bag (or Ziploc bag), cut off tip and     squeeze into half pint jars. (tip: place bag in tall glass for support, or have someone hold     the bag while you pour).

Here's a FREE Printable Label for you.

After printing these labels on sticker sheet paper, use Fiskars Scalloped Squeeze Punch to cut them out. Next cut out circle shapes the size of the jar lid and insert into the jar and stick the sticker onto the craft paper. Add a ribbon and you're done.

Many thanks for a fantastic year of sharing. I've enjoyed blogging my findings and I hope to continue in 2013. Happy New Year!

29 December 2012


When our sweet niece was legally adopted we were fortunate enough to go to the courthouse, witness this and explain to our kids that their new cousin was now legally part of our family. On our way out to the car after, I noticed a ton of acorns had dropped from the trees. As my husband loaded our kids, I gathered as many as I could and shoved them in my pocket. I knew I needed to do something with them to remember her special day.

I love felt ball acorns, I made a bunch for our Thanksgiving table in 2011 and I figured I could do the same with these and turn them into a garland for her baby room. So I ordered several felt balls (my favorite sources are here and here).

Now, just a few words about felting balls... I have tried this... and now I have a ton of roving left over after my sad discovery that purchasing felt balls is much more desirable than making felt balls. If making them with soap and water, it's tough on the hands and worse on the patience level. But I've provided links (above) for those that are feeling the need to learn. There is another method, needle felting that maybe I'll try one day.

After the balls came in the mail, this project took all of 20 minutes.

Acorn Caps
Felt Balls
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
String or Twine - I chose twine which is why I used hot glue.
* If using string, get a Felts Needle to string these through the ball.
Explanation Tag - I created a tag in Illustrator and printed on sticker paper.

1. Line up all of the caps
2. Line up all of the balls in front of the caps to get your color pattern in order.
3. Hot glue the inside of the cap, place the string on top of the glue and then place the ball on top of the string and press into the cap.
4. Repeat this for all of the caps and balls, spacing them as desired. I spaced mine about 1.5" apart.
5. Snip off the stems of the acorn caps if there are any.
6. If you'd like a little tag included place that around the string at the first acorn.

26 December 2012


I love crafting with my kids but I end up with a ton of art pieces that I then need to decide: HANG UP or NO and then there's the KEEP or TOSS. I usually toss the wierd ones after they've lost interest, and I save the really sweet ones. These kids are crafting up a storm faster than I can make these decisions so you can imagine, it's amazing to find a craft that we can do together that I can hang up and they can proudly say "I helped make that."

Bakable Clay - White Sculpey Pluffy
Cookie Cutters - I used a variety of stars
Glitter - Color of choice. I used chunky white
Fishing Line - If you'd like to hang them
Magnets - If you'd like to use them on a magnet board
Elmer's Glue
Paint Brush
Small Mixing Bowl - For glue and water
Baking Sheet - To bake on and contain the glitter mess after cooled

1. Roll them out flat like and cut the stars out with the cookie cutters. Poke a hole in the top if you want to string them.
2. Bake them according to the instructions.
3. Let them cool
4. Mix up a bit of Elmer's Glue and some water and paint the glue on one side of the star.
5. Glitter that side and let dry a few minutes.
6. Flip them over, glue and glitter.
* If we're making magnets we only glitter/paint one side.

21 December 2012


Everybody is sick around these parts. So we're IN for the long haul. I'm fine with it, I've completed my shopping and Christmas to-do's for the most part, but we are running out of things to do.

There are only so many Tinker Bell movies and Peppa Pig episodes one can watch. You know it's bad when the kids are saying, "Turn off the TV". Crafts and TV, that's been about all we've done for four days.

I'm on the hunt for new craft ideas. Toilet paper rolls always have something to offer. We made some cute Thanksgiving People with them a few weeks back. So I figured we could do the same with Santa. This would work for Elves, Reindeer, Snowmen... Here's a quick tutorial for Santa.

Toilet Paper Rolls
Construction Paper - Red. Black. Peach
Cotton Balls - 2 per Santa
Small White PomPom Ball - 1 per Santa
Clamps - If you have them, I use them after gluing to make it dry faster.

1. Cut a 1" Strip of Black (for the shoes). Cut a 2"-3" Strip of Peach (for the face). Cut a 3" Strip of Red (for the body).
2. Glue the shoes to the bottom of the tube and secure. Glue the face to the tube about a 1/2" down from the top and secure. Try to keep all of the end seams in the back.
3. While those are drying a bit, make a cone hat with red. Glue and secure. Glue the small white pompom on top.
4. Glue the red suit to the tube overlapping the shoes and face and secure.
5. Glue the hat to the top of the tube. If some of the the tube shows between the face and hat, that's ok, it will be covered up by cotton.
6. Unravel one cotton ball and squeeze it into a long strip. Glue that around the bottom of the hat overlapping the skin.
7. Draw the eyes and a little smile. This part is what my kids like to do the most.
8. Unravel the second cotton ball and glue the hair around the back.
9. With the last bit of cotton, glue on a strip of mustache and beard.

15 December 2012


My lovely sister-in-law, in all her generosity and wisdom recently provided an affordable way to get The Brown Sisters on a much needed holiday from our daily craziness for just a few days. We four met up in New York, coming from Los Angeles, Dallas, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas.

We stayed at The Nomad, an amazing new hotel in the Flatiron area. I have a soft spot in my heart for Chelsea because I used to work for J. Crew back when it was on 6 Ave. and 18th Street. That was my lunch-time stopping ground. I'd commute via Union Square and grab breakfast at the farmers market. We'd shop at ABC Carpet, Fishs Eddy and Paragon after lunch and I'd often complain of frizzy hair due to the humidity. Probably one of the reasons I wasn't in New York for long. I am not one for the combined extreme temperatures and humidity. I do believe my heart was in San Francisco.

But I made some lifelong friends and wouldn't change that experience for anything. It was nice to go back and be reminded of the good memories. And quite comical to say, "I used to work around here" in just about every area of town that we went too. I had several jobs there, I think six within two years? That's embarrassing. My favorites were Badger Worldwide, now Badger and Winters (for the creative atmosphere and lovely people), J. Crew (for the friendships made), and Prescriptives (for the bus commute -- finally).

New York will always be a place that I think of fondly. To visit is always a pleasure. Even in the cold and rain. I don't care as much about my hair, I suppose.

On this trip we shopped and ate exceptionally well. First night at ABC Kitchen, next night at Locanda Verde and our last night at Cookshop We met the REAL Santa. (Seriously, look at him. He's at ABC) I was able to visit with my dear friend Carlyn (my guest blogger a couple of weeks ago), check out the MOMA and see Once. We walked the High Line at dusk in the rain and stopped in lots of cute shops. Including the Etsy Holiday Shop.

It was the perfect trip and oh, so needed. Thank you Holly! xoxo.

12 December 2012


I feel like I need to say something on 12.12.12. I know I just posted yesterday but I have plenty to talk about after a trip to New York and Christmas crafting a-go-go. I tried to explain to my daughter how the opportunity to see the same triple digits like 12.12.12 is over. We don't have 13 months in the year so this is it. Despite the fact that my other daughter has been sick all day, it's been a sweet day of hanging out with my girls. I missed them so much this last week and with one of them sick, I'm hugging them to bits. I just can't squeeze them enough.

I have a group of friends that get together for DIY night. We've made some pretty amazing things together. Last year's lou-lou was the quiet book. THE BOOK. We each took one page and repeated it 20 times and traded. Another big one was our Halloween glitter house. Many of us bought our houses as a set of three from Hobby Lobby and used the biggest one for Halloween and the other two for Christmas. We all bring our ideas and jiblets and swap and influence each other. It's great fun. I adore my DIY girlie friends.

So here are my houses. They were being referred to as a Winter Wonderland. I like how it turned out. I found most of my things at Jolly's and Beehive Bazaar. I made the scalloped base, the felt tree and I found the two deer in New York and sprayed/glittered them.

Houses (Hobby Lobby)
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
Supper 77 Spray Mount
White Spray Paint
Glitter in Variety of colors, thicknesses
Embellishments for exterior (vintage ribbon, glitter ribbon, little animals spray painted and glittered, mini trees, wreaths, pipe cleaners, berries, old book paper, vellum, fake snow)
Battery Mini Christmas Lights (Target) * Make sure the package says "warm"
Xacto Knife
Felt and Fabric
Book Binding Glue
Paint Brush
Wired Fence (Joann's)

1. Spray the houses white. Dry.
2. Spray the houses with Supper 77 (spray mount). Glitter. I like to put a chunkier glitter on the roof, or something to the roof that is different than the house. With the Christmas houses, I painted the roof blue first, then glued, then glittered.
3. Hot glue various embellishments to the house and around it.

* I wanted a base for these two houses so I could put little trees and animals around so I made a scalloped base. I first cut (with a box cutter) the shape I wanted out of cardboard. Then I covered one side with fabric and the underside with felt. 

11 December 2012


I was out of town last week. It was the first time I've left my kids for more than a day. I went to New York with my sisters-in-law for four days. My husband took two days off of work, but we decided it would be nice for the kids to have some Karolina time too. Karolina is my sister-in-laws nanny. We know her, love her. Karolina is part of the family.

She pulls out amazing kid craft ideas like this Christmas tree made of cupcake liners. I love this idea. I mentioned it to a friend in need of a quick craft for her daughters preschool class. It's a good one and most of the stuff is probably in your house already.

Cupcake liners - 3 per Tree
Construction Paper - Green. Brown.
Embellishments - Anything sparkly used as ornaments
Felt Pens

I wasn't there, but this seems pretty straight forward.
1. Cut a cardstock background piece (half of an 8.5x11 piece of paper).
2. Cut a tree trunk rectangle out of the brown construction paper (or draw one).
3. Glue the trunk to the bottom of your background paper.
4. Fold the cupcake liners so that they are a pie wedge shape. One large, one mid-sized and one small. * If necessary staple the top of each wedge to keep it in place (except the smallest one).
5. Glue the largest wedge first on top of the brown trunk. Repeat the other wedge pieces each on top of the other.
6. Cut and glue a yellow star to the top of the tree (or a sparkly bead).
7. Glue various embellishments to the tree with beads, sparkle bits and ribbon.

04 December 2012


Although the time has passed, I'd love to share a few kids crafts for Thanksgiving. After cooking the big dinner two years in a row, I've decided it's important to entertain the littles and avoid cabin fever. This makes for a sane cooking experience.

The night before I prepped several crafts to do throughout the morning. Each was organized in a large zip-lock bag with instructions, supplies and needed pieces pre-cut. My husband also came home from work with a stack of coloring pages which were very helpful.

I've wanted to do Fingerprint Turkeys for a long time. Gather a few fall colored ink pads, blank cards or folded white card stock and some colored pens. Print out examples of each step or show them if you're able to spend the time.

You could make a colorful Fall Accordion Leaf. Download the leaf PDF here and pre-cut a few leaves for painting. Read through the folding instructions prior. Once the paint is dry, fold and tape together. Then glue on a stem.

Toilet paper rolls always come in handy. I tend to save them for times like this. You could make a Native American or Pilgrim Puppet with them. This activity worked out the best for my four year old. Our two year old needed more help but still loved the activity.

I have always wanted this Acorn Cap pattern by Cate Anevski. This year I finally purchased it and found many uses. I printed some for coloring and a smaller version to paste onto a paper bag for the fall walk. The kids colored those first and then went out for a nature walk to gather small leaves, twigs and other jiblets. I also had a variety of dried beans to contribute. I printed a large turkey image onto cardstock for them to paste all of their treasures onto. Tracing your kids hand onto a paper plate to make a Hand Turkey works great too.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. Ours was surprisingly simple and low stress. Crafts for the kids on Thanksgiving is just going to have to be part of the plan now because it really worked.

21 November 2012


My dear friend, Carlyn and I worked together in San Francisco several years back. We also traveled to Europe together and she taught me to love stamps. I quickly came to adore Carlyn and her style. We had such a great time working together at Man Bites Dog. We even carpooled, a 10 minute drive each morning. She has inspired me continually over the years and I'm so grateful for our friendship. As we approach Thanksgiving, I feel it appropriate to include her on my little blog. Thank you Carlyn! You're just too cool.

Mini-Gratitude-Banner Centerpiece for Thanksgiving Feast!

- Dowel Rod (I got the absolute smallest, thinnest size so I could cut it with a scissor. I found it at the hardwarde store on my street but you can also get them on HomeDepot)
- 3 colors of felt (this bundle is from Purl) which provides lovely color combinations.
- Clay (for propping up the dowel rods)
- String (to attached banner to rods)
- Scissors for cutting small type letters, X-acto and rotary cutter for cutting triangles
- Needle and thread (not pictured)

01. Select your felt colors - 2 colors to maybe alternate with the little flags, and one color for your type - and cut the triangle shapes out. I used a triangle template 2" across on the top, but you can vary it depending on big you want your banner. Plan ahead what word you want to use, so you can count the triangles you will need to cut.
02. Cut out your felt letters. I provided two type templates: one is a more organic, loose typeface that allows you to incorporate the rough edges that come along with cutting out felt letters this small. You can amend that as you go and make it your own. The other typeface is Helvetica - and you can use that if you are looking for a cleaner read. You can pin a copy of the letter to the felt to make it easier to cut.
03. Hand sew a few stitches in a supportive area of the letter to attach it to the flag. Only a few stitches are necessary, this way it "floats" a little on top of the flag.
04. Punch a hole in the corner of the first and last letter.
05. Chain sew the flag together on a machine.
06. String the letters on to the dowel rods.
07. Use clay to prop up the rods (or find another spot to hide them - in a small jar/vase etc.)

Voila! Centerpiece!

16 November 2012


My holiday decorations are pretty simple and usually a bit monochromatic. I don't get too overly colorful. That will probably change soon as my kids express their love of purple, blue, yellow and green. But I'd like to keep it my way as long as possible. I feel the need to hang on to SOMETHING... clothes are no longer my call. Sparkles, crazy colors and patterns are taking over their closets. I'm not quite ready to embrace all things KIDS just yet.

I really liked these gold dipped feathers. I hung them with washi tape and fishing line. They gently spin ever-so-slightly and sparkle. Love them.

White feathers
Gold Paint - Martha Stewart's Metallic Paint (Golden Pearl)
Gold Glitter
Sponge Brush
Tin (or something to contain the mess)
Newsprint (or something to contain the mess)
Wax Paper (something to lay them on to dry)

I saw someone else do this and she dipped the feather in and wiped the excess off... The paint is pretty thick so this created a pointy feather for me. After some playing around, I decided the best way was to paint it on with a sponge brush from the get go.
1. Brush one side of the tip of the feather with the gold paint. Lay out several on wax paper.
2. Glitter that batch and let dry.
3. Repeat for the other side.
* If any are pointed, frayed or not shaped like you want, cut them. I like them to be rounded at the tip so the ones that were pointy, I cut and ended up using them. I also had a batch that was a bit frayed naturally and those looked great too. It's hard to mess this one up.

12 November 2012


We didn't carve all of our Halloween pumpkins so I'm using a few of the small ones for the pedestals I made for Emily's farewell party. The pedestals are made from a vintage brass candlestick and goblet each glued to vintage salad plates. I must confess, I made those on the fly (for a wee $4 total) with just hot glue and they need to be epoxy'd before they fall apart, break, and make me cry. I had no idea how much I'd end up using them and have since fallen in love with them. It's time to make them more permanent.

I also made an acorn cap wreath for our back door. Our front door requires a wreath that can handle the elements which means our options are limited. So our inside back door is my opportunity for more fun decorative wreaths each holiday.

12" Styrofoam Wreath
Wool Brown Felt - Cut into 2" strips
Hot Glue Gun and Glue
Acorn Caps - Approx. 150 (I ordered on etsy)
Wire - I'm not sure of the gauge, I just used what I had. Heavy, but bendable.
Ribbon - At least 2" width, approx. 1 yard

Extra Wool Felt - To cut leaves (Fall colors)
Felt Balls - (I ordered on etsy)
* Felt Balls and felt leaves for alternate cluster at the bottom

1. Cut a 3" strip of heavy wire and bend it into a U Shape. Insert that into the back of the Styrofoam wreath. I also like to hot glue at the entry points just to secure it until it gets wrapped.
2. Wrap the wreath with felt strips using hot glue to start and finish each strip. This can be fairly sloppy, as it will be mostly covered with acorns. The back will be visible though. I like to wrap and glue extra securely around the wire hanger.
3. If needed, sort your acorn caps in small, medium, large. If they're all about the same size, no worries, just start gluing.
4. Glue acorn caps onto the wreath, starting at the top (where the wire hanger is) and glue an entire row all the way around the outer side of the wreath.
5. The next two to three rows will be the most visible so if you have a variation of sizes, use your best caps for these rows, and try to keep the sizing even if possible (Probably the medium/large).
6. The last row will be on the interior of the ring and might need to the smaller acorns. Some people spray paint at this point, but I like the naturalness of the acorns as is.
7. You can use the ribbon for a bow or as a loop for hanging.
8. * I had a few felt balls and left over caps so I used them to make a cluster and cut out two oak leaves in different colors of wool felt.

10 November 2012


I've wanted this tray by Up In The Air Somewhere for a while now. And I love to gold leaf things so I thought this would be a fun and fairly simple project. However, there were some things to learn. So I consider this a trial run. When I do it the next time around, I'll keep these things in mind. 

White tray - I found one at Target for $12
Masking tape
Xacto Knife
Gold Leafing kit - Gold Leaf, Sizing
Small Sponge Brush
Mod Podge

1. First start taping by creating a triangle off of one of the short sides.
2. Use the width of a piece of tape to mark where the next row should go and build out from the first triangle to the long sides.
3. When needed, create a different angle to create some variation in the pattern. This can be altered many different ways.
4. When all of the tape is down, carefully cut around the outer edges. And you know, this depends on the kind of tray you get. The tray that I first fell in love with doesn't have edges, and you'd wrap the tape around, but this tray has sides so I cut them. It was too kooky on the rounded corners to make the tape go up the edge. This is a more functional tray with the edges so that's good.
5.Tape around the interior edge to keep a clean line.
6. Using the sponge brush, apply the sizing and leave on for about 20 minutes. Read the label, this may vary, but the kind I use needs to sit for a few to get tacky.
7. Start laying down the gold leaf. I use a soft brush (It's actually a blush brush) to gently get all of the gold to stick and fill in all of the spots.
8. Gently peal off the tape.
9. Apply Mod Podge or another sealer with the sponge brush.
* NEXT TIME, I'd like to pour in a layer of acrylic to keep it very thick and sealed.

This particular tray has a slight convex bowing and it wouldn't work as well to apply a layer of something thick like acrylic, so I stuck with the Mod Podge. It's not as durable, but very cute and functional for parties and such.

Note - Mod Podge will dull the shininess of the gold a bit so if you don't want that, acrylic spray might be a good alternative. Just be sure to tape off everything you don't want sprayed.

05 November 2012


I bought these a while back but Halloween decorations took over. I love the color combinations and would like to thank Target and Campbell's for bringing a bit of Warhol color to my cupboards. It makes me smile.

25 October 2012


She's obsessed. Ariel is all around as is Belle, Cinderella, Aurora and every other princess conceived by Disney. When I asked my oldest, "What do you want to be" and she said Ariel with a huge grin, I decided I'd better make this one because the purchasable costumes are a wee bit too "show-E" for my four year old.

My littlest wanted to be Belle. That one I could buy but I've found that whatever costume I get for my kids, there's at least some altering needed if not embellishing. That's ok, that makes it their own.

First, I drew up a pattern and measured my daughter's waist, hips, and leg length. She wanted a tail instead of just a pouf skirt so I thought if it ended right at the ground, and came up a bit in the front, maybe she could walk rather than waddle.

Next for the top, I bought a bodysuit from American Apparel and sewed on sparkle purple fabric shaped like the shells and then carefully glitter glued an outline as thin a possible. Then I sewed on a gold fish button. For the skirt, I got "Spirit Mermaid Foil" fabric at Joann's (I actually preferred pale green back-side because the color was closer to Ariel's tail). I basically made a simple elastic waistband skirt that has a glitter fabric fin in the back and it comes up in the front. Then I added a bit more glitter fabric on the back-side and a gold starfish button.

I must admit, this isn't a toss-it-in-the-wash costume, but I'll keep it in the dress up closet after Halloween. She loves wearing it and feels quite proud. Next year, she announced, she wants to be a mermaid every year. Just a different color each time. Uhhhm, no.

The shoes came from the Disney Store, but they were last year's and slightly used for $5.00! Sold! I don't think I've ever purchased anything from that store for $5.00.

10 October 2012


I saw this cute chain in a nearby shop for... too much money... and thought, good grief, that's easy and it was. Takes about two hours to make one chain. So I popped in a movie I've seen about twenty times and started in.

I used less than one package of each and made a 6' chain, a good size for above my daughters door.

Wire Cutters/Needle-nose Pliers
Scissors (that are able to cut through wire)
Orange and Black Pipe Cleaners
Approx. 1" tube

1. Take one orange and one black pipe cleaner, line them up and wrap them together around a 1" tube (your template to keep each ring the same size).
2. Cut the pipe cleaners about 1/4" past the start of the circle. I use my thumb to hold them in place. I can get about three sets of circles per pipe cleaner.
3. I like to cut a bunch of the circles first and have them all ready to link. Use your wire cutters to bend each end about 1/4". I bend the left end back and the right end forward so they can hook together and "catch" each other.
4. Hook the circle by "catching"and bend the tabs down. I use the pliers to smooth down the ends and blend them into the circle a bit so not sharp bits stick out.
5. Repeat by linking the next color, if you started with orange, use black next and keep alternating.
6. Repeat the links about a bajillion times ;) As many as you'd like for your needs.

06 October 2012


This was by far the easiest DIY project I had done in a while. I bought some glass vases at Savers, each only .99 and I have lots of acrylic paints on hand. So for $5.00 and 10 minutes I made several cute vases for a party table centerpiece.

I've seen this around the internets and I think we all agree that the patterned glass and pretty colors are a lovely combination. These can't hold flowers or be cleaned out with water. It's really a nice way to bring in color to a party table.

1. Glass vases
2. Acrylic paint - One color per vase
3. Paper towels - Have a damp one ready to wipe the rim
4. Spoon - To reuse the excess paint that drains out

1. Clean and dry vases. You don't want the inside to be wet so if you clean the inside and  you can't wipe it dry inside, air dry it.
2.  pour in paint and slowly swirl it around the bottom so that all areas are reached.
3. Slowly tilt the vase down so that some paint starts to drain out (about 2-3" in length)
and slowly rotate so that the paint reaches all around the neck of your vase.
4. Make sure all areas are covered.
5. Place it upside down on a paper towel and let it drain out for a few minutes.
6. Carefully pick it up and wipe the rim with a damp paper towel.
7. Spoon excess paint from the paper towel into the original paint bottle.
8. Let the vase dry overnight.

ONE ISSUE that I noticed a couple of weeks later, the paint started to crack slightly in some areas so I'm going to go back and do another coat, possibly seal it with a varnish. I did a larger vase with spray paint and a spray varnish (several coats of both) and that has held up longer.

20 September 2012


My sister-in-law is moving soon to be with the love of her life. She will be missed indeed. Maybe this will inspire some road trips for our family. Hopefully she and Jeff will visit often. At any rate, until she moves, we celebrate her loveliness.

She's moving South so we thought we'd send her off with a bit of Palm Springs style. She actually posted this a while back on Pinterest, so we knew she would like it. Thank you Sarah for your inspiring gold flamingos. And thank you to our fabulous friends, Nicole, Whitney, Carole, Britta, and Angie for the beautiful food and beverages.

We love you Em. xxo

15 September 2012


I am fairly organized. I admit this sickness and people that know me, know this about me. But with all my obsessively organized ways, I have yet to find the best way to organize my recipes. For several years I've spent plenty of time and money trying different methods to organize them so that I can find them easily and deal with the many sizes they come in.

Recipes from emails that I print at 8.5"x11"
Recipes that I find online and print at 8.5"x11"
Recipe cards from Grandma Wright - 3"x5"
Martha Stewart recipe cards - 4"x5"
Williams Sonoma recipe cards - 4"x6"
Magazine recipe clippings - random sizes

1) My sister-in-law has her recipes in pretty file folders and an open top wood bin, I like the looks of this but I want to be able to see the recipes easier and faster.
2) I love all the cute 3x5 recipe card boxes on the market but I have too many recipes to write them all out. Plus I will always be printing things at 8.5"x11" to save time.
3) I used to convert everything into an InDesign file and print those so they all looked the same but who has the time for that? That was clearly pre-kids.
4) Binders! I like this idea so I can flip through them and see the categories easily, but I fill the binders up fast and the tend to fall apart and pop open and all of the guts fall out all over the kitchen floor when I'm in the middle of a crazy dinner rush.

Of all of these options, Binders are the most functional for me, so I will try it again and see if I can make Martha Stewart's Staples products work for me. I like that she has protector sheets with four compartments for her recipe cards and blue protector sheets that I use for my favorite recipes. I put those first in each category so I can find them quickly.

But I have some pet-peeves about binders. I don't like the tabs or any protector sheets to stick out beyond the binder. I also don't like the tabs to be hidden and not stick out far enough from the protector sheets. These seem like simple fixes, but most binders, protector sheets and tabs are not sized appropriately to avoid the issue.

So I altered them. I cut a small opening on the outer edge of a protector sheet (the same width of the tab) and inserted the tab sheet into the protector sheet. This way, the tab is the same size as the protector sheet and the tab extends beyond the edge so you can actually SEE your categories. And they don't stick out past the binders edge. 

So far, I have two binders loaded with five categories each. I'm not going to overload them. They look nice and they aren't popping open. My only concern is that Martha tends to discontinue products so I may purchase a couple more sets for the future so that I can add to this plan easily and have it all match.

02 September 2012


Nina's party was Saturday evening, the ONLY day with rain in the forecast. It had been high 90s for weeks and weeks and of course here we are in the midst of a storm on her party day. What the?!?! So we went about our business and hoped for the best. Because, what else can you do? It's a barbecue and there's no way around it. Food was purchased, decorations were up, people were coming. It was a "Christmas Miracle", (as my husband says) because it didn't rain until after the party. Not only did it rain, it HAILED huge hail balls as everyone was leaving. And then the power went out. It was amazing, the timing of it all.

Many thanks to our neighbors and family that joined us to celebrate our sweet little tweedle Nina who turned TWO!

Here's a sneak peak of our Farmer's Market Birthday party.

Below are some of the preparations:
Name Garland - I painted the invite and scanned in the art to apply to other letters and alternated the color palette colors with the painting letters to spell HAPPY BIRTHDAY NINA.
I cut out the printed letters and glued them to twine. Then I clipped mini clothes pins to the top of each letter.
Rag Garland - I cut 1/2" strips from three different fabrics and tied them to a strand of twine. Easy. Done.
Lollies - I've never made these before, but it was easy. I found a recipe here, bought molds and sticks. The other ingredients I had in my kitchen. Added a bit of color and flavoring. Next time, I'll add less color, a little goes a long way.
Pennant Garland - I cut triangles from three different patterned papers and three solid papers and sewed them together. When I make these, I like to make stacks of each pattern so I can grab the next one easily and keep my machine running evenly.
Party Favors - I filled some canning jars with candy and tied a strip of fabric around the lid. I also inserted a piece of burlap into the top of the jar.
Table cloth - I purchased a cheap round burlap table cloth and some fringe at 1/2 price (because that gets expensive) and then I sewed the fringe on.

The other decorations were things stashed in our basement: wood crates, Grandma Wright's painted vases, old farming crate labels that my husband and I have been wanting to use for something. This was the perfect project. A vintage frame that I wasn't using for anything else, and a wood bowl from Australia.

There's a helium shortage apparently so balloons... I thought I'd have to go without our favorite 36" balloon and blow up the small ones and have them hanging upside down. But then I found someone that doesn't seem to know about this shortage... Thank you Harmons!

A huge thank you to my lovely friend Nicole for making Nina's cute little green tunic. She's so talented and whipped that out in a couple of hours, I'm sure. You can see more of her talents here.

28 August 2012


It's everywhere. Dip dye. I first fell in love with the Casamania Philippe I cafe table and since then, the trend just hasn't faded. Everything from furniture to hair. With eggs, silverware, dishes, mugs, lamps, spoons, clothing, shoes, sheets, shirts, chopsticks, stationary, pillows, scarves and jewelry all in between. Just about anything can be dip dyed, and it seems the long running trend is going to live on for a while. Some of my favorites are here, here, and here.

The one dip dye item that makes me salivate are the Spoons by Ladies & Gentlemen. I wanted to try making it because honestly, I just don't have $38.00 for a spoon.
It's not really dipping though. This process is masking and spraying. Let me preface this by saying these are not dishwasher safe and are best used as serveware instead of daily flatware. But they add a nice touch of color to a party or dinner table. The smaller spoons are perfect for condiments.

1. Stainless flatware spoons
2. Spray paint in desired colors
3. Matte clear sealant spray
4. Masking tape

Mask off the spoon portion to leave the handle exposed. Spray 2-3 coats of color. Let it dry thoroughly between sprays. Spray 2-3 coats of sealant, again letting it dry all the way. Take off tape. Wash by hand and use.

How easy is that? This was an experiment. Although I haven't had any scratches yet with this method, If I did it again, I'd try a primer first. Just to see. This makes any old odd bunch of silverware look cute. Teaspoons in a variety of colors or even white to go with your favorite teacups. There are lots of uses. This could also freshen up the tired wooden spoons in the kitchen.

23 August 2012


It's on its way! See a preview here and here. Can't wait for the tension between these two bitties.

21 August 2012


I have a few rules about Birthday Parties for our kids:
1. Don't over do it.
2. Family up until age three.
3. Friends starting at age four.

This year, when we found that most of our family will be out of town when our daughter turns two, we decided to break the rules and have a neighborhood friends BBQ. There will be lots of kids, mostly older than Nina but just having them all there will feel like her party.

We got a big ol' swingset (in June) and after months of having it sit in our garage in boxes, we finally hired someone to put it together for us. Money well spent, I say. My husband doesn't have to dread the job and I don't have to lose him for many hours to the massive undertaking that would've possibly put him into a mental institution and/or recuperative physical therapy.

So there will be plenty for the kids to do, we'll have some good food, cuppie-cakes, a few gifts but most importantly, because I can't help myself, I get to plan and decorate in a Farmers Market theme. Something I've wanted to do for quite some time now.

Here are some of my first thoughts and inspirations:

03 August 2012


We did it. After neglecting my children to accomplish some serious research on the topic, and discussing the options with my husband. After a few charts and countless articles read, I think we're ready to cut the cable and move on to a more advanced way of using our television.

Our TV is used for a select few (very important) programs: Mad Men, Downton Abbey (among other BBC shows), Modern Family and a few kids shows like Peppa Pig, Charlie & Lola, Curious George and Mickey Mouse. We watch the Today Show in the morning for news and weather and after the kids are in bed, I tend to decompress to reruns of Seinfeld or Friends. That's about it. I do enjoy watching movies but my husband and I seldom watch TV together. One or both of us is usually working on other projects.

That said, we're not the kind of people that NEVER watch TV so this is a move that needs to be thought through. Articles I found particularly helpful, here, here, and here and some other tutorials on how to decide what system is best, here were really what got me going. We don't have Wii, XBox or BluRay so some options weren't available to us. We wanted to keep costs down. We do however already own several Apple products so AppleTV made more sense to us.

Through this process, I have found this decision is very personal to each household. It all comes down to what you watch, where, and how often. How important are these shows to you and can they be found elsewhere.

For us, we were spending $160.00 a month for Comcast (Internet, Cable, Phone) but we don't use a land line and the cable was often a source of frustration. So many channels, still nothing to watch. OnDemand is the most pathetic "perk" ever offered. There's nothing there worth watching and if there is, you have to pay extra for it. Our cable was going out a lot too, so there were many calls made to talk through the technical difficulties. It was just a bunch of waste. And it's hard to swallow the big bill each month amid all the frustrations.

Many friends had already switched and after hearing their feedback, and doing the math, we found that we could save $50.00 a month but cutting out cable, getting AppleTV with Netflix and iTunes to supplement.

Here's what we did:
1. Purchase a Digital Antenna = $30.00 (to get basic HD channels)
2. Purchase AppleTV = $100.00 (the source for Netflix, youtube among others)
That's it for the upfront costs
3. Cut cable and phone from our bundle but keep internet = $80.00 /m
4. Sign up for Netflix = $8.00 /m
* Netflix offers a free 1 month trial. You can't see a list of what they offer on their site without signing up. Many of our favorite kids shows aren't on Netflix but they have enough to replace some them. We can also purchase other favorites on iTunes or search youtube for full episodes.

The one downfall to this plan is we no longer have DVR. I think it's something we'll learn to live without. If it's on Netflix, we'll be able to get to it when needed. But for those times when we aren't home and need to record... there's the negative.

Another possible negative is that Apple will upgrade their product as they often do and we'll need to repurchase. We bought our AppleTV from Best Buy and opted for the $15 upgrade charge. It lasts for two years so if something breaks or if they upgrade, we can trade it in for free.

After one week, I feel like we're really doing well with this transition. It's been good for us. Less sitting in front of the TV channel flipping (something I've mastered over the years). More importantly, less TV in general which is something I continually strive for with our kids.

- On the left we listed the shows we watch.
- The top columns:
How to get our basic channels: Digital Antenna or Basic Cable (through Comcast) - each option offers the same thing but buying a Digital Antenna is a small upfront cost with no monthly charge as opposed to a higher monthly bill.

How would we find our favorite shows: Netflix (had the most for us), Hulu Plus, iTunes (is our best supplement), Amazon Instant Video... there are many others.

How do we connect to these: Again, there are countless other options but AppleTV and TiVo were the ones I narrowed down to.TiVo offers DVR, but costs so much more, we decided to cut the cost and try to adjust our habits.


This has been on my to-do list for months and I finally got to it. It only took an hour. And it looks so nice to see in my daughters crib, it helps clean up her sleep area a bit. Why did it take so long to check this off of my list?

Sewing Machine
Measuring Tape
Cutting Board/Ruler
Thread to Match
Two Patterned Fabrics

1. I started with a small 13"x20" pillow insert. I measured out two pieces of pattern (A) at 14.25"x21.25" and two end pieces of pattern (B) at 14.25"x3.5". I like the manufacturers edging with the designer name, colors etc. and used it as part of one piece (A). If you're using a different sized pillow insert, just allow 1.25" or so on each side for seam allowance and some space to insert the pillow easily.

2. With four pieces cut, I iron 1/4" of one side (B). I pin (B) to (A) patterns facing each other and sew them together. Then I sew the edge of (B) and iron it open. I like to roll over the edge of (B), iron and sew again to give a clean edge. Repeat for the second set of pieces (A) and (B).

3. I also like to give a added security stitch along the outside of pattern (A) the connecting seam where (A) and (B) are sewn and ironed down.

4. With two complete panels, back them up and pin three sides. The two longest, and the short side of pattern (A).

5. Turn inside out and iron flat. I use a chopstick to get the seam to lay flat as I iron. Insert pillow and done.

Cute, cute.