Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DIY Canvas Finger Painting

My oldest daughter has recently become quite interested in doing crafts.  I guess I could be biased, but she is becoming quite the crayon artist!  I love watching her drawings get better each day.  Her sidewalk chalk drawings are also pretty good, and she really loves to paint.  I have to admit the painting doesn't happen as much as she'd like {it's a big mess that I don't want to deal with everyday}, but I try to provide occasional opportunities for that outlet.

We've been working on re-doing the kids' bathroom and I knew that I wanted them to have a part in the decision-making and decorating.  They each picked out a towel in their favorite color {I gave them some options}, and we worked together to make this canvas finger painting.

I had a lot of paint samples in the garage, different colors, so we poured a little of each into some bowls and got our fingers dirty swirling circles onto the canvas.

I helped them to place the circles in a sort of random pattern, using all the different colors.  Then, I went back over it and using green paint, put stems and grass on the canvas.  The girls told me what to do, so I just followed their instructions putting the grass on the bottom and then they really wanted a sun at the top.  I don't consider myself an artist by any means, but finger painting is pretty fun!  And, since the kids commissioned this work of art, I like it even more!  It was an inexpensive way to bring some color into their bathroom and they love it!

Home Stories A2Z

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adding Ribbon to a Shower Curtain

The kids' bathroom upstairs has been a work in progress for quite some time.  It started off builder's grade tan, then I used the same green from the girls' bedroom to change it up a bit {I had leftover paint}.  I didn't like it, though, because with black accents it looked a little too much like mint chocolate chip ice cream.  We finally installed beadboard and I painted the upper part of the walls a nice gray shade, and it's looking much better.

I purchased a white shower curtain sometime last year, knowing that I wanted to dress it up a bit, but not sure how.  While on my trip to PA last month, I found some fabulous ribbon and snatched it up {50 yards for $7!  Anyone need some black and white ribbon?}.  My plain old white shower curtain from Target now has a nice touch of ribbon and I love it!

This is a really easy project, and can be done without a sewing machine!

You will need:

-Shower curtain
-Stitch Witchery {can be purchased at fabric stores}
-Iron and Ironing board
-Damp rag

*Optional:  coordinating thread and sewing machine

First, make sure to wash and iron your shower curtain.  When you apply the ribbon, you want the curtain to be wrinkle-free.

Determine where your bottom row of ribbon will be placed on the curtain.  I measured up 3 inches from the top of the bottom hem, placing it there.

Leaving a bit of overhang on the edge of the curtain, lay the stitch witchery and ribbon at the edge {stitch witchery should be between the curtain and the ribbon}.  Following the manufacturer's instructions, apply the stitch witchery to the ribbon.

This is just to show you what it looked like.  You will obviously need to turn this over so the stitch witchery is in between the curtain and ribbon.

Continue to apply the ribbon all the way down the shower curtain to the other end.  Cut the ribbon and stitch witchery, again leaving a bit of an overhang.

Next, determine how far apart you want the rows of ribbon.  Measure along the top of the first row and apply the next row in the same manner as first.  {I kept an inch between rows and did three rows of 1 1/2-inch grossgrain ribbon}.

My stitch witchery was not the same width as my ribbon, so I chose to go back over the ribbon and sew it to the curtain.  This is optional!  If you'd rather skip this step, simply take the overhang of ribbon/stitch witchery on each end, and apply it to the back side of the curtain.  

If you want to sew the ribbon on, as I did, for extra support and because I didn't use the right size stitch witchery, keep following these instructions:

Turn the curtain over.  Taking the overhang of ribbon on each end, fold the ribbon so that there is a finished edge, pin to the backside of the curtain and sew into place. Stitch a straight seam as close to the folded edge as possible.

After all the overhanging ribbons are sewn in place, top-stitch the ribbon at the top and bottom of each row, about 1/8-inch from the edges, with coordinating thread.

And, you're done!  You could easily add more or less rows of ribbon.  I love that this shower curtain is still a bit classy, but has a playful-ness, too, since it is in the kids' bathroom.

I'll show you some pictures of the whole bathroom soon, but I still need to hang a few things up on the walls and clean a bit more.  It's coming together, though, and I'm loving it!  We just have a few more projects to knock out in the next few weeks before Baby #4 arrives!

Linking to:
Inspire Me, Please
Home Stories A2Z

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Simple Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting, from Martha Stewart

When my Martha Stewart Living magazine arrived in the mail a few weeks ago, the girls loved the picture on the front:

They proceeded to look at the entire copy with me on the bed one day.  It was fun to have my girls interested in home decorating, baking, and gardening.  When they found out that there was a recipe for the cake on the front cover photo, they wanted to give it a try.

We donned our aprons and got to work one morning.  The icing recipe is my favorite ever, I think, as there was PLENTY to generously ice the cake, and there was even some leftover.  After dinner that evening we enjoyed delicious slices of vanilla cake.

This is the perfect cake for birthdays, parties, or just everyday.  It's easy and OH, so much more tasty than a cake mix!

Simple Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for cake pans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
5 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup half-and-half {original recipe calls for whole milk, but I like to use this instead}
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cake:  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans and either line with buttered parchment, or butter and flour pans.  Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined.  Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops with an off-set spatula.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 33 to 35 minutes {If using 9-inch pans, 28-30 minutes}.  Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes.  Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.

Frosting:  Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to medium.  Add confectioner's sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add salt, half-and-half {or milk}, and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  If not using immediately, cover surface of frosting with plastic wrap.  Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week.  Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.

Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top.  Place remaining cake layer on top.  spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, swirling to coat in a decorative fashion.  Cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated overnight.  Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

source:  Martha Stewart Living, May 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's Strawberry Time & a Strawberry Tart Recipe

My strawberry picking this year consisted of driving 5 minutes down the road and carefully selecting eight gallons of pre-picked strawberries from a local berry stand.  The price wasn't that much more, and in my current pregnant condition, the husband forbade me to go to the strawberry patch with the kids this year.  I'm glad he put his foot down!  I spent most of one morning just hulling strawberries and freezing them for a year's worth of smoothies.  I also made two batches of strawberry freezer jam.

Then, I ventured out and tried three new strawberry recipes over the weekend.


These scones were delicious.  They did take a bit longer to bake than the recipe said, but I loved the brown sugar crumble topping.


I also tried the Strawberry Icebox Cake {minus the rosewater and chocolate on top} pictured above and it was wonderful.  I love that it wasn't too sweet and even our eight-year old neighbor boy next door enjoyed it.

The recipe I'm sharing with you today is from Faith Durand's new book, Bakeless Sweets, which is a great cookbook and especially wonderful at this time of year.  This cookbook is full of delicious recipes that are perfect for summer when backyard entertaining is in full swing and no one really wants to turn on the oven.

The crust has white chocolate in it, which is one of my favorites, as well as old-fashioned oats, so you could really say that it's a healthy crust....

The filling is somewhat of a cheesecake/lemon-gelatin combination with some chopped strawberries.  I only had strawberry slices for the garnish, but white chocolate shavings and almonds are recommended in the recipe.

This was super easy to make and was cool and light--the perfect summer dessert combination.

Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate and Oat Crust

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, roughly chopped
4 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
1 generous cup graham cracker crumbs
2 lemons, zested and juiced {I only did the juice part}
2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 pound strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped, divided
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted {I omitted these}

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, then stir in the chopped oats and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the white chocolate and cook, stirring frequently, until it has melted.  Pour the mixture over the graham cracker crumbs in a large bowl and stir until it has a wet, sandy consistency.  Quickly press the warm mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and place in the refrigerator to begin chilling.

Put the lemon juice in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface.  Let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes, then warm the pan over medium heat until the gelatin is fully dissolved.  Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.

In the blow of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese until very light and fluffy.  Add the condensed milk, lemon zest {if using} and gelatin mixture and beat until well combined.  Gently fold in half of the strawberries and spread this mixture into the chilled pie crust.  Top with the toasted almonds {if using}.  Chill for a full 2 hours, or until quite firm.

Serve slices topped with the remaining strawberries and shavings of white chocolate.

source:  Bakeless Sweets, by Faith Durand

Friday, May 17, 2013

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad is a favorite in our home.  Broccoli was on sale last week, so I decided to try a new recipe and see how it went.  I was happy with the results.  I used to prefer the broccoli salad with shredded cheese in it, but I now like just the combination of fruity and salty with Craisins and sunflower seed kernels.  Most recipes for broccoli salad call for sugar in the dressing, but I liked that this one uses honey; it makes it seem not so bad for you.

The other thing I like about this recipe is that the dressing isn't over-powered by mayonnaise.  Sometimes the mayo takes center stage, but it shouldn't.  The blend of flavors in this dish gives each component a role--just as it should.  The original recipe said to serve it immediately, but I think the taste just gets better if you allow it to refrigerate for awhile, giving the dressing time to combine.  Try it both ways, if you like.  And, if you like a dressier broccoli salad, just cut down on the amount of broccoli, or mix up a bit more of the dressing.  You really can't go wrong.

Broccoli Salad

1 head broccoli {or about 5 broccoli crowns}, stemmed and florets cut into pieces
4 slices cooked bacon, broken into pieces
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup Craisins
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 T white vinegar
2 T honey
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seed kernels
sea salt and ground pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, bacon, onion, and Craisins.  In a separate small bowl combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.  Pour dressing mixture over broccoli mixture and gently stir to coat.  Stir in sunflower seed kernels.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

source:  adapted from the Naked Kitchen

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Framed Silverware Tutorial & Dining Room Updates

Our dining room walls have been barren for the majority of our time in this home, a little over two years.  I just couldn't seem to decide what I wanted to do in there, and what I really wanted was too expensive. So, I waited.  Decorating a home on a small budget takes time, thought, and patience.  Sometimes that can be frustrating, but in the end it's rather rewarding when you end up with something you really love and don't have to spend tons of money to achieve.

Last summer my mother-in-law let me go through some of her silverware, I believe it was her grandmother's, and I chose a few pieces that I wanted to use as some type of wall art in the dining room.  I had some old pictures from our first house that weren't being used, so I took those apart to create something 'new' for one wall of the dining room.

This is a really easy project, and not an original!  I've seen various forms of framed silverware all over Pinterest, but here's how I did mine.

You will need:
-thin foam board
-silverware {that you don't intend to ever use}
-hot glue gun and glue sticks

First, cut your foam board to fit the size of the frame.  It needs to rest just inside the edges of the frame pretty snugly.

Next, cut a piece of burlap to fit around the foam and be glued to the back.

Carefully apply hot glue to the back of the foam piece and push the burlap onto the glue.  Be careful that you don't burn yourself; the glue will come through the holes in the burlap.

Position your silverware where you want it on the burlap.  Apply a strip of hot glue and place the silverware directly on top, pushing down to secure.

Allow the glue to dry and hang up on your wall.

I finally took the opportunity to lengthen my Dining Room drapery panels, and I'm glad that I did.  They look much nicer right above the floor, instead of the several inches off the floor before.

And, when returning something to Sears one day last fall, I found two packs of drapery rings on clearance for $.99 each!  I had initially only purchased one package of rings for these drapes, which was not enough, so I was glad to finally have the correct amount, appropriately spaced at the top.  They weren't the right color, but after a little black spray paint job, they were just right!

Lastly, I purchased some matted pictures of peacocks from Hobby Lobby and framed those.  Someone had given me a gift card for my birthday, and these prints were 50% off on the day I went.  I love the pops of color they add to the wall.

Once the dining room table is finished, I'll take some final pictures of the whole room, but here's what it looks like now.

How long does it take you to finish decorating a room?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Snippets from Our Weekend

This past weekend was the first weekend we had as a family, in a long time, without anything to do.  And by anything, I mean no commitments, no social activities, no responsibilities other than whatever we wanted to do with our time.  It was wonderful!

I tried to capture some of our moments because I thoroughly enjoyed everything that we did.  The weather was gorgeous, the kids had fun playing together, and we even tackled some projects around the house.

While perusing the garden, I discovered quite a few English peas that were ready.  It was fun to snap them and I'm hoping to use the few we got in something for dinner this week.

A snapping turtle was crossing the street, so Bradley scooped it up with a shovel and bucket for the kids to observe in our front yard.  This guy smelled something horrible, and was pretty angry to have been taken from the street.  The girls kept an appropriate distance.

If you didn't know, there is an awesome new cookbook out, just released last week, Bakeless Sweets.  The author, Faith Durand, is married to my brother-in-law's brother, and I enjoy following her accomplishments, via the Kitchn   My copy arrived on Friday, and I loved reading through this! I can't wait to make some of her recipes!  You can purchase it here, if you're looking for some fun new recipes for dessert.

The kids' bathroom upstairs is getting a new look.  We had a yard sale a few weeks ago, and some of the proceeds are going to a few projects around the house.  Bradley is installing the beadboard, and then I'll be painting it sometime later this week.

I shared with you last week the desk that Bradley refinished for me.  Well, I happen to be the recipient of an unplanned dining room table re-do.  While we were growing the seeds for our garden in the dining room, the table got some water stains on it {we thought the tablecloth was waterproof, but it was not}.  So, now my dining room table will receive the same look as the foyer desk.

I tried a new broccoli salad recipe and it was delicious.  Recipe coming soon...

Mother's Day was relaxing, complete with naps all around {except for this little girl who was entertained by her Daddy while I rested}.

And, lastly, yesterday marked 32 weeks of pregnancy {or 34 based on some calculations}.  I'm trying to stick with the later due date so that I don't get discouraged, but then when I look at my stomach, and other peoples' faces when they see my stomach, I like to think I'm at the 34 week mark.  Either way, this baby is coming fairly soon and we can't wait to meet her!

So, that was our weekend, what did you do?

Linking up with:


Friday, May 10, 2013

Sunny Day T-Shirt Dress

One of my goals this year has been to make more clothes for my girls.  I have found sewing things for my home to be much more fulfilling up to this point, as I can hide my mistakes a bit more easily and usually don't have to put zippers into my projects.

When I was contacted about reviewing a new book, Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses, I eagerly signed up for the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour, highlighting this new book, and featuring some of the projects inside.  I absolutely love every pattern in this book!  Each dress begins with a t-shirt and some fabric, and by the time you're finished, you have a beautiful new dress.  No zippers, no cutting out pattern pieces, and yet they still look lovely.  It's also great for little girls, because they can get dressed without help.

I've wanted the girls to have new outfits to wear when they come to the hospital to meet their new baby sister {who is due in just 8 weeks!}, so we went to Hobby Lobby the other day, and the girls helped me to pick out some pretty pink fabrics.  I decided to make the Sunny Day dress, as I loved the simplicity and the combination of several different fabrics.  The instructions were easy to follow and I didn't have to rip out any seams in the process of sewing this outfit.

If you're looking for some fun patterns to sew for your little girl, I'd highly recommend purchasing this book.  One of the other great features I like about the book is that the beginning section gives a lot of instructions on basic sewing skills, including information about how to measure for your own t-shirt dress patterns.  Many of these projects could be modified for custom work, or will just provide inspiration to create your own pattern.

Here are some images of other projects in the book:

Bubble Tee

Square Dance

It's a Wrap

Royal Wedding

Thanks, Sweet Seam Studios, for such an inspiring work!

Here's a copy of the blog tour that's going on right now.  I'd encourage you to check out these other blogs; some are even offering giveaways, so you'll want to be sure to put your name in for a chance to win a copy of this book.

May 5  

May 6

May 7

May 8

May 9

May 10

May 11

May 12

May 13

I was given a copy of the book "Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses" in exchange for a blog post.  All opinions are mine.  Photo images from the book, thanks to: Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses by Sweet Seams Studiopublished by Sixth&Spring Books. Photography by Dan Howell and dress design and instructions copyright © 2013 by Sixth&Spring Books/Soho Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Used by permission.