Monday, December 27, 2010

The calm after the storm

Ahh,the past month has been hectic to say the least. For such a simple event, the wedding took up so much of my time and energy. And then it seemed that as soon as the wedding was over, we started in on Christmas. And now that we are almost done with the Holiday season, I feel like I'm ready to write a few blog posts.

There have been some really great projects happening around here! My favorite was the doll bed we (yes we. My hubby and I both worked on this one)made for Maya. I also made a bundle of these kimono dresses for my Wren and my younger nieces. And of course there are all of the wedding details to share. The dress turned out beautifully, the cake was lovely, and the food was so yummy. I feel like we have so much catching up to do! I shall start tomorrow with one project at a time and hopefully we'll be caught up in no time!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

DIY Ring Pillow

With only 3 weeks left until the wedding, I am suddenly getting my butt in gear. Procrastination is no longer an option. I've delegated some tasks and started in on my last few hand made projects. Last night I finished up our ring pillow.

I wanted the pillow to have a handmade heirloom look to it. Something we would hold on to forever as a memento. I feel that way about a lot of the things I make around here. I value things from my family's history so much. I especially love things that were made by someone and passed down through generations. It's like you have a little piece of that person to hold on to forever.

As far as the construction of this little pretty went, it was fairly simple. The most time consuming part was the embroidered "H" in the center. I hand embroidered it over a few nights while watching television. It sat around for a few weeks after that while I decided exactly how I wanted to use it. The white and tan fabrics are both pieces that are cut from old linen clothing. In fact most of this pillow is made from re-purposed pieces.I ironed the edges of the white fabric down and pinned it to the tan fabric (which measured 12" x 24 " but is folded over in the picture). I used a simple stitch on my sewing machine to applique (which really just means sew one piece of fabric on to another) the white on to the tan. Then I folded the the fabric over so that the right sides were facing each other and sewed around the outside edges to create a pillow, which I then stuffed and hand stitched closed.

The finishing touches were the applique heart, cut from scraps and hand stitched on the finished pillow. And the ribbon (which was salvaged from a piece of clothing), which was also hand stitched on. The rings on the pillow are stand ins for the real things. All in all, this pillow really didn't cost me a dime, I had all the supplies on hand. Now it will wait a few more weeks before it is carried down the aisle by possibly the cutest ring bearer in history.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pesto Pizza

image from

This is my new favorite homemade pizza combination. We made it for our pizza and a movie night this week and it was so yummy. It is such a simple meal and with it's thin crispy crust and small amounts of cheese, it is far healthier than your normal pie.

I use a simple thin pizza crust recipe (found below). A thin layer of pesto sauce stands in for pizza sauce. I use jarred store bought pesto, for the sake of simplicity (I've yet to make my own pesto). Then a light sprinkle of mozzarella followed by thin slices of tomatoes. Finish it off with a bit of parmesan cheese. Bake according to crust directions (or until the cheese is melted and bubbly).

This pizza taste best right from the oven, but the cold left overs aren't bad (I'm eating some as I type this). Really, I don't know how we ever ate so many frozen pizzas in the past when there are homemade recipes that are so quick and simple.

Thin Pizza Crust
(I'm not sure where exactly this recipe came from, but I didn't come up with it myself)

1 package Active Dry Yeast
1/2 Cup Warm Water
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 1/4- 1/2 Cups Flour

Pre-heat oven at 400 degrees. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into warm water and stir. Stir in sugar, salt, and oil. Begin adding flour by 1/2 cup fulls. Begin kneading by hand when necessary. When flour is all added, knead dough on a lightly floured surface for approx. 5 minutes. Roll on to a 16" pizza pan and add toppings. Bake for 15-2o minutes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

20 Minute Cardigan Refashion

Take one ordinary cardigan.

Add a beaded cut from an ill fitting t-shirt. Pin, sew, and...

Bada bing, Bada boom! An embellished cardigan that cost me nothing. Not a Penny! And in less than 20 minutes! Uh huh, that's right.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DIY Wedding Programs

This is the current state of my desk; a drying space for my wedding programs. I have been marking little tasks off my Wedding To Do List, slowly but surely. The dress hasn't been started, but I think we'll get to that this week. But in the mean time, I created these simple, yet lovely programs.

There is no way I was going to pay the cost of printing elsewhere and I liked the idea of creating something that was unique. I found a sample program online that I liked and pretty much copied the format and used similar fonts and styles. Our ceremony is going to be short and sweet, so I didn't need to include that in the program. I wanted to keep it at one page length.

The paper is 4.5" X 6.5" scrapbook paper that I bought for $5 (for pack of 60) at Jo Ann's. The tree stamp was $10 (from Jo Ann's), but I used it on my invitations as well (also DIY) and I'm sure I'll use it again and again. Making it well worth the money.

The front of the paper (I printed on the back) looks like this, all shiny and pretty. It only took me about one evening (while watching T.V.) to get the formatting right and then the length Wren's nap time to print them out and stamp each one. I love how they turned out and the whole thing cost my less than $20!! One task crossed off. The list gets shorter!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Big Girl Bed on the Cheap

My wild little one and half year old recently broke her ancient crib, so instead of buying another one to use for probably less than a year, we decided to pull the big girl bed out of the attic. The bed itself was given to us by a relative, so that was absolutely free! The bed set was a yard sale find. It is in great condition and it only cost me $5.00 for the whole thing! That is sheets, pillowcase, sham, comforter, and bed skirt. Five bucks, seriously!

I like to have some kind of pillow between the kids and the wall because our stone walls get so cold in the winter. I had this long pillow that was originally meant for the hammock, but that didn't work. So, I grabbed some fabric from my stash and sewed up a little pillow case for it.

Wren is so proud of her big girl bed. We pulled Maya's old guard rail down from attic and put it on the bed to keep her from rolling. It seems to be working pretty well so far, although I do keep the upstairs baby gate closed while she sleeps, just in case she is to quitely wake up and creep out of bed unnoticed.Total cost of this brand new (to Wren) big girl bed, $5!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In My Kitchen

I am fully enjoying the start of Fall. My cardigans are so happy to be out of the closet and I'm loving being able to wear them on our morning walks to school when the air is still chilly. This time of year makes me want to cozy up at home and make lots of warm, love filled, delicious food. My crock pot and bread machine are both staples on my kitchen counter right now. And there has been a surplus of yummy baked goods laying around here as well. I thought I'd share a few of our favorite recipes with you, in case you are feeling the a cozy Fall vibe as well.

Chicken Fajita Soup
(recipe from Gara)

1 lb. Chicken, cut into chunks
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
24 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed
3 cups broth
1/3 cup instant rice
1 package fajita seasoning
1/4 cup Velveeta cheese

Chop chicken and veggies about the same size and saute until chicken is about done. Throw in a large pot and add can tomatoes, beans, broth, rice and seasoning. Simmer until rice is cooked. Add cheese. Cook until cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips.

Flax Seed Bread (for bread machine)
(recipe from
1 1/3 cup warm water
2 TBSP canola oil
3 TBSP honey
1 1/2 cup white flour
1 1/3 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup flax meal
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine according to manufactures directions. Select Basic White cycle and press start. Makes 1 1/2 lb. loaf.

Zucchini Cupcakes

(recipe from
3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 - 2 cups powder sugar

In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, orange juice, and almond extract. Combine dry ingredients. Gradually add to egg mixture and mix well. Stir in zucchini. Fill paper lined cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
To make frosting; heat brown sugar, butter, and milk on stove at med. heat until boiling. Cook for 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Let cool and mix in powder sugar until it reaches frosting consistency.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leggings for My Little Fashionista

I haven't been a very good blogger lately. All this wedding planning is consuming a lot of my free time. I have been waiting for a project to come along that not only inspired me, but also didn't take up too much time.

I love to upcycle clothes into a new something usable. It is not only thrifty but it gives you a chance to channel your creativity and make something one of a kind. Not to mention, it usually takes far less time than making something from scratch.

I found this post the other day and loved the idea of turning adult knee high socks into girls leggings. In the original post they turned a pair of socks into leggings for a little girl and also made a smaller version for her doll. That was my original plan as well, but Maya had her own inspiration going on.
I found knee socks on clearance at Target yesterday ($1.40 a pair). I cut each sock just about the heal to make the leggings. And then cut the bottom part of the sock above the toe and below the heal to make the doll legging. Then, following Sand to Pearl's directions, I simply sewed a tight zigzag stitch around the raw edges of each leggings, creating a ruffle (no need to make a hem). Each pair took me less than 5 minutes.

Maya turned the doll leggings into some elbow pad/arm warmer thing, which looked pretty cute.

Then they turned into some kind of cute ankle warmers for Wren.

And then with some true fashion genius, Maya turned her leggings into faux long sleeves to winterize her short sleeve shirts. Smart kid. She has recently informed us that she is going to design Barbies when she grows up. I could see that happening.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And now :: The Cake

Dress making operations are currently stalled while I wait for a vintage pattern I bought online to come in the mail. The pattern is for a 1970's wedding dress that isn't exactly like the one I chose, but I think we'll be able to modify it to my liking. Pictures to come!

So, while I wait, I'm working on other important details. I have found and booked our location. It will cost us a whopping $70 to rent for the day (not bad). And now I am starting on the cake. I ordered a sheet cake from our local Hy-Vee for all the guest to eat. And I'm planning on making a small wedding cake for show. Here's what I've found that I like so far.

Image from

I'm loving the bird cake toppers in this one, but few less layers would be more my style.

Image from
I'm completely in love with how delightfully simple this one is.

Images from The Ivory Dahlia

And again with the simplicity of this one. I think if I had the time to sit here long enough I could find about a thousand cakes that I love. But, the theme that I see throughout all of them is simplicity and of course, pretty cake stands. I think I can handle that. And I am so loving the bird cake toppers. Check out this YouTube tutorial showing how to make love bird wedding toppers. I think I'm going to try it out. I'll post some pictures of these too!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Nifty Thrifty Wedding :: The Dress

Well, the time has come. My partner, Adam, and I have decided to get married! Being a frugal minded couple, we are planning a simple (yet lovely) wedding for this coming November. I have a lot of ideas on how to pull off a thrifty celebration and am excited to make them a reality. I've decided to blog this little journey, mostly because it will be thrifty (fitting with the theme of this whole blog here) and it will definitely be taking up a good portion of my free time in the next few months. And so now, the planning begins.

We have approximately 2 months to put it all together. We'd like to have a crisp Fall wedding and we're scheduling around twin nieces being born and several family and friends coming from out of town (why not tie it in with Thanksgiving and save them an extra trip?). I know most people plan a wedding in about a year, but I think with the level of simplicity we're going for here, 2 months will be just fine. Oh, and did I mention we're setting a $5oo budget? Yep, that's everything for less than $500. I'm talking food, cake, music, venue, flowers, everything!

So, where to start? How about the dress? I did a quick Google search for "boho wedding dresses" and this is what I found. It was one of the first dresses I saw and it is perfect! The website I found it on looks like it is no longer operating. But I suppose that really doesn't make much of a difference anyway, I'm sure I wouldn't have paid the asking price. It is also a 1970's vintage dress, so finding a pattern looks kind of hopeless. But, luckily I have a talented mother to help me create it from scratch! I'm not sure if we'll be able to get the dress exactly the same, but I think we'll be able to get it pretty close. So, it looks like I'll be taking a trip to the fabric store tomorrow to find the perfect fabric to get us started! More to come!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Any Berry Scones

I have been making these fantastic scones almost every weekend lately. We've had lots of fresh berries around and this is a great way to use them up. I've made these with blueberries, raspberries, and even a frozen berry mix. All delicious! I am not even close to a pastry chef and I can make these scones with no problems.

Berry Scones
(makes 8-10 scones)

2 1/2 Cups Flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 TBSP. sugar
1 Cup Berries
6 TBSP butter
3/4 Cup Milk

Preheat oven at 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in Butter. Mix will look like coarse break crumbs. Add berries and then pour in milk. With a fork, mix together until mixture blends. Add flour to your hands and form into a ball. Between 2 sheets of wax or parchment paper, roll out dough into a large circle (about 1/2" thick) and cut into wedges (like a pizza). Transfer on to a greased cookie sheet and back for ~ 12 minutes.

Do we really need more chairs? Yes, always.

This sad little director's chair was a yard sale find. It had been loved to pieces and was ready for a new little one to drag it around,but first it needed a little work. I took a "before" picture, but somehow I managed to delete it. The original was missing the back and the seat was worn and stained.

I took it all apart so that the few loose spots could be glued. Without a back to use as a pattern, I had to measure and create something new (not to difficult with such a simple design, although I did have to re-do the first attempt). I used the existing seat for a pattern and with about 15 minutes of cutting a sewing and putting everything back together, I was done!

It is the perfect size for Wren and she loves it. I don't think it will have a "spot" anywhere in the house, but instead will be towed around from room to room. I can't decide whether or not the frame should be spray painted or left as is. Any thoughts? I was thinking maybe a dark pink to match the pink polka dots or possibly a soft green. The rustic look it has now isn't all that bad either....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Embroidered Pillow

This little pillow has taken me almost 6 months to complete. Not because it was horribly difficult or terribly intricate, but mostly because it was a pain in the butt. The center of the circles consists of lots of little french knots and as I've mentioned before, these are not my favorite embroidery stitch (if you can even call that a stitch). So why did I decide to do a project that was almost entirely made up of dreaded french knots. Because I was copying this. I loved how the design looked and wanted to recreate my own version.

I started out by hand drawing on the circles. To make the circles a little fuller I did an outline stitch all the way around and covered that with a satin stitch. Then came the painstaking process of making 5 Billion tiny little knots. I did this project a little bit at a time. I normally like to sit down at the end of the day and watch some TV and work on whatever embroidery project I have going on. Most nights though, I would look at this one and think "Yeh, right".

In the end I finished it and sewed it into a pretty little pillow that sits in one of my favorite chairs (reupholstered for me by my mom when I was around 14). I do hope those darn knots hold up and this pillow lasts a long time!

Total cost= my blood, sweat and tears :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bowling Ball Garden Art

This little project was inspired by my mother. A few years ago, she covered a bowling ball with shiny pennies gave it a home in the garden where it adds a little glam. I started out making this as a gift for a friend, but after I figured out how hard it was to get everything looking perfect, I decided this one could be practice. This entire project took my about 2 hours to complete (plus drying time). I used premix adhesive grout to make things a little simpler.
I discovered that I am not an expert with grout, by any means. I've watched Adam put up tile before and thought it looked like a piece of cake. But after trying to stick little stones on a round surface, I have gained more respect for his skill. I also ran out of stones half way through and had to go buy a couple more bags, which ended up being a little different in color. But oh well, like I said, this is my practice ball.

I left the bottom clear that that it could easily sit in a stand (which I still need to go buy). If you look closely, you can see where a few of the marbles fell off. So, for the next, non-practice ball, no marbles and have lots of extra stones. Oh well, even though this little project wasn't a complete success, it still looks pretty tucked in among my hydrangeas!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Zucchini Brownies

picture from

We have had so many big garden zucchini given to us recently. We love zucchini around here. I usually saute them in a little bit of olive oil with salt and pepper (add some toasted almonds, yum) or make zucchini bread. But with so many coming through our door I have been trying different ways to use them up. This zucchini brownie recipe is my new favorite. It is so moist and oh, so delicious! I found it at, but added a bit of whole wheat flour to make them a little healthier. They came out yummy and were a hit around here. Maya gobbled them up too, not even noticing the zucchini.

Zucchini Brownies

1/2 Cup Oil
1 1/4 Cup Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. Salt
2 Cups Shredded Zucchini

6 TBSP Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4 Cup Margarine
2 Cups Powder Sugar
1/4 Cup Milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat Oven at 350 degrees. Mix oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add to sugar mixture. It will be very dry at this point. Fold in zucchini. (this will add some moisture). Spread evenly into a 9 x 13" pan and bake for 25-30 min or until brownies spring back when gently touched.

Frosting: Melt margarine and add cocoa. Set aside. Mix powder sugar, milk and vanilla. Add cocoa mix and blend well. Spread on cooled brownies.


Recycled Skirt Dress

In the 30 minutes after breakfast this morning I made this little dress for Maya. I was inspired by this post from to turn a mom sized skirt into a new dress for my little one.

I picked this skirt up from a second hand store a while back for less than a dollar. I kept coming across it in my fabric stash and thinking, "Oh, it would so easy to turn this into a dress". But I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to do it until I read the post at Soulemama.

I started out by sewing the pockets closed and then cutting them out completely. Then I used a seam ripper to take the side ties off.

The waist of the skirt had a bit of stretched out elastic in it already, so I left that in place and used it as a guide for my top casing. I folded the elastic towards the inside of the skirt, creating a casing for my new elastic. I stitched around, leaving about a 2 inch opening to insert the elastic through. Then I used Maya as a model to measure the elastic around her chest (about level with her armpits). I cut about 2-3 inches off the elastic so it would be tight enough to hold the dress up.

I put a large safety pin through one end of the elastic and fed it through the opening in the casing. When it was all the way through, I overlapped the ends and stitched them together. I then sewed the opening in the casing closed, enclosing the elastic.

For the straps, I used the ties that had originally been on the skirt. I had Maya try on the dress and decided where I wanted to place the straps and how long they needed to be. I stitched the straps on the inside of the dress, sewing over the casing seam and criss-crossing them in the back.

All of this took less than 30 minutes and the total cost of the project, less than $1! Not to mention this skirt was saved from a possible life at the dump, thrifty and green!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Colorful Rockers

These sweet little rocking chairs were $5 yard sale finds. Both were good looking as is, but I thought they needed a little color to fit in my little girls' bedrooms.

The blue chair with pink polka dots belongs to Maya. The polka dots are rub on decals that I had left over from Maya's headboard. I love the touch of whimsy they add. And the purple chair belongs to Wren. Who currently loves to climb up and rock with a good picture book. The stickers on hers are wall decals that will come off easily, but they take a little paint along with them. In hind site, I wish I would have used a rub on decal, like on Maya's. But this is what I had on hand. It still looks cute, as long as Wren keeps her little hands off them (so far so good).

All in all each chair cost less than $20. They are both nice, solid wood chairs that will hopefully last forever and can be passed on through generations. That's more than most $20 chairs can say.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chalkboard Fun for Non-Committal Types

When we were re-doing the Maya's room, I wanted so badly to turn her tall closet doors into usable chalkboard space. But we didn't want to ruin the beautiful natural woodwork; which was stripped years ago by Adam's grandmother (with a blowtorch, I must mention!). So with a little internet research we came up with this!

I found chalkboard contact paper online. I tried a couple different brands with poor results (it all fell down within a day or two). I finally used Contact Brand and it has been holding up beautifully for a few years now. It cost around $12 a roll and it took about 3 rolls to finish both sets of doors (with some left over for future use). Maya loves to draw on them and leaves messages for Wren in her room. And when they are older and want a change it will be a piece of cake to tear it all down!