Jul 9, 2013

The Croque-Monsieur: une Bonne Idée!

Borrowed from @buvettnyc — follow them on Instagram!
Hop on over to Fifty-Five 18, and check out my guest post on my sister's blog!

Jun 4, 2013

Union Jack Pillow

My kitchen banquette was my first large-scale upholstery DIY.  Since then, I've made Roman shades, panels, shower curtains, pillows, and even hand towels.  When I made the pillows for the banquette, it was really a hodge podge of Hobby Lobby tan-ish and blue-ish fabrics because I was impatient and didn't want to wait for samples.  The more I look at the walls and the counters each day, the more I want the pillows to be tan with some sage green accents instead of aqua blue/turquoise.

My best friend Margaret brought me a fabulous linen stripe from Paris!  She knows me too well... That immediately sparked my next project: updated pillows!  So now that it's summertime (I really am more of a summer blogger anyway), I give you my first sewing project of the season: The Union Jack Linen Pillow.

A while back, I spotted a pillow like this at an antique shop.  I loved the neutral palette--and Union Jack seems to be popping up on pillows, rugs, and dressers everywhere.  My plan was to re-purpose a tan linen drawstring bag as the main body of the pillow.  And I still had a yard of white linen left over from Selah's quilt.  Perfect and re-purposed!

Thinking this would be an easy project, I measured 19x12" for the pillow and added in my seam allowance (1/2" for me, but most prefer 1/4").  I cut 2" strips for the flag stripes and worked on pulling 6-8 threads to make the fringe on each piece.  That was a little bit harder than I thought.

I figured out a little trick that keeps the linen from getting too wonky.  Just like burlap, linen has a loose weave so I pulled a thread at the 2" mark and "ruffled" that thread all the way out.  Once it is flat again, voila!  The line that's left is the cutting line.

Starting with the front of the pillow, I laid out the X pieces, stitched, and then added the cross pieces.  This was pretty simple, but I had to pin it a lot because it kept moving around.

I wanted a flange around the edge to make it a little more interesting.  Wow, I did not know how difficult that would be.  Since the edge was unfinished , I tried cutting 2 1/2" strips and mitering a "frame" around the pillow.  I messed that up so many times I just pinned the "frame" to the front (right sides together), sewed at a 1/2" seem allowance, and then I resewed and trimmed my mitered corners.  This method worked great in the end, but I'm sure there is a more traditional/correct way to do this.

I chose to piece the flange before sewing on the back of the pillow to be sure it would line up.  I even used this pin on Pinterest to do my invisible zipper!  One down, four more pillows to go.


Mar 25, 2013

What NOT to Do While Sewing

Apparently very few people have had actual sewing accidents.  While I was googling the likelyhood of the worst happening to me, I realized most people only know of someone who had a horror story  Well now I have my own to tell.
Yes, look a little closer.  That is a foreign object inside my finger.  More specifically, it is the broken off tip of an embroidery needle.  I thought for sure it was impossible that there was any chance the needle had remained inside my finger.  I kept telling my mom to calm down and get me a bigger band-aid.  Well that was a week ago.  We never could find the broken piece of the needle, and now we know why.  The cut was healing well, so I didn't worry.  Then I noticed a pricking feeling every time I used my finger tip.  Something was not right.  Doctor #1 could not get it out because the scar tissue was too deep and the tweezers were too small.  After leaving with  my lightly bandaged open wound, I am now waiting for the hand surgeon to fit me in.  Praying for quick removal and recovery!

Mar 10, 2013

DIY Gallery Wall

Gallery walls stress me out.  Especially the random 50 pictures in all those different frames.  Scattered.  Without a reason.  Or a purpose.  Yikes!  Somehow, my sister's eclectic style makes it all work, but I would rather paint my walls Home Depot orange.  However, this Phoebe Howard room is a lovely balance of neatness and calm.  My two favorites. 

Since our living room's long and narrow 1950's layout was not made for a TV, we struggled with the layout (Part I and Part II).  The best part of changing moving the cable outlet is the open space.  The worst part is the giant 17 foot long wall behind the sofa.  In a perfect world, my husband and I would agree on an oversize abstract painting of blues, grays, and taupe.  Yeah right.  He thinks a blown up print of the New York City skyline would be just right.  Umm, do we even live in the same house?

Lately I've been eying some different arrangements and thinking about prints.  At first I though I would use some of our photos from Europe, but then I saw a set of bridge etchings or a set of botanical prints.  Wait.  I am not going to use botanical prints in my living room.  I do love all things traditional, and that is standard traditional artwork, but I am 27 years old and do not live at or near the beach.  Good thing Pinterest has a bazillion awesomely styled homes to brows.

Last fall, my friend Jayne kindly gave me an early preview to her moving sale, and I immediately found a set of six Pimpernel place mats straight out of 1980.  Her mother-in-law had given them to her as a Christmas gift, and she never even used them.  As soon as I saw the blues, grays, and greens of the Scottish castles, I knew they would match my home.

Where would I find frames for these odd size place mats?  No way would I pay for custom frames and mats, so I figured Hobby Lobby  may have their 50% off sale.  No luck, but they did have 11x14 mats that looked great.  While I was shopping for a planter for my deck at Garden Ridge, I randomly stopped to look at the frames.  I found six 11x14 frames for $7.99 each!  The only problem was two were pale gold, two were antique gold, and two were brown.  There really was no way I would find cheaper frames with the glass and the backing, so I brought them home and started my weekend project.

 Mismatched colors.

 Equal parts Glorious Gold and Rich Espresso metallic paint. 

 Antique frames using dry brush technique.

Wax paper templates.

All done!!

Mar 7, 2013

The Birthday Boy

How can it be that my sweet Massey is already 8!? We were listing all the things we have done together since we got Massey...college, jobs, graduate school, married, house...looks like there is only one thing left! I love this bear like he is my own baby.  Happy Birthday, Bear!

Feb 25, 2013

It's a Blog Hop!

My sweet sister asked me to do a guest post on her blog, Fifty-five 18. Hop on over, and check out how my ugly green chair turned out!

Feb 4, 2013

It's Time for a Pep Talk

...I've been in a slump; a can't-find-anything-interesting-or-worthwhile-to-post kind of slump.  So, while I stayed at work for an extra hour and half, I got a pep talk. Not cool, Robert Frost.  I wanna be on the road that leads to awesome.  Let's do something awesome!!

Jan 20, 2013

The Small Things

I've had a little case of the doldrums lately, especially since it has rained for the past eight days straight and snowed.  But then the very best thing happened: the sun came out!  It reminds me to be thankful for the present, knowing it will pass.  So currently I am feeling very thankful for seemingly small things that really are not that small at all--except for the quantity in this year's Girl Scout cookie boxes (Seriously?!).

Accumulating snow!  In the South!

Girl Scout Cookies

The Sunshine [finally]

And this new project...
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Jan 13, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings from Scratch!

I try to plan 10 dinners to cook each time we go to the grocery store, and this week I just could not come up with the last one.  Phil decided on chicken and dumplings, which I kind of complained about eating.  It is just so bland and floury!  Honestly I have only eaten this the one time my mom made it in the crock pot. I was about eight or nine, and I remember not liking it.  Of course, Philip almost always orders this if we make a road-trip exit to Cracker Barrel. I found an easy recipe for it in my favorite cookbook:

We received this cookbook as a wedding gift four years ago, and I refer to it all the time!  Instead of using canned biscuits and rotisserie chicken, I made it "from scratch" the easy way.  Here is my adapted and halved  recipe that serves four.

Quick Chicken and Dumplings
2 chicken breasts
2 c. water
2 t. chicken broth base (I like Orrington Farms)
1/3 c. cream of chicken healthy substitute (recipe HERE)
1 1/4 c. cold water
1 t. seasoned pepper
1 bay leaf
1/3 c. milk
1 c. Pioneer baking mix

While chicken boils in a separate pot, bring two cups of water and broth base to a boil.  Mix cold water and cream of chicken mix in a separate bowl until smooth.  Add to broth mixture, stirring until it thickens.  If it is too watery, stir in two tablespoons of flour mixed with 1/4 cup cold water.  Add pepper and bay leaf.  In a separate bowl, mix milk and baking mix.  Roll into teaspoon-size balls and drop into boiling mixture.  Cook 5-8 minutes or until dumplings are done.  Shred chicken (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer--it is awesome for this!), add to dumplings, and serve hot. 

Cooking the chicken takes the longest--20 minutes.  I did this while I was working on the dumplings, and we were eating within 30 minutes.  This dish is very flavorful and hearty!

Jan 4, 2013

Favorite Things

Usually I find myself searching for inspiration to find the perfect gift (see post here).  This year I am looking back on my favorite gifts from the holidays after letting someone else do all the tough planning.  It really doesn't take much to please me, but a lot of people say I'm hard to shop for.  Agree to disagree.  Here are my faves:

I cannot wait to start the second book in this trilogy! Since it also has 1200 pages, it will probably last me until May.  Hooray!

 Ok, this is a gift to me, from me, and it is not so much my style, but I really love the hippie feel.

I received this watercolor painting already custom framed!  Margaret always gives the best gifts!

Technically a gift to myself...  Again, surprising to some, but this Navajo poncho from Orvis (I know!) is so awesome I don't want to take it off. Ever.

 My mother-in-law is the jewelry queen, and she is extra-careful in getting me small and delicate pieces.  I've worn this Shalla Wista triple wrap bracelet every single day.

Oops, not a present.  But it is a gift to have a day to myself to have absolutely nothing better to do than do loads of laundry, fold it, and put it away. And look at this little bear.

HANDS DOWN MY FAVORITE GIFT.  See... I told you I am easy to please!  Hot Booties are the bomb!  I am beyond obsessed, and I cannot get enough of their warm goodness. 

Of course, I loved all of my gifts.  My mother game me a Limoges jewelry tray from Paris that is beyond perfect for my dresser.  Ashleigh knows me so well--she got me a le Pen set and a personalized note pad.  My dad gave me an Army pen that is a "aircraft safe" weapon.  This was certainly Philip's favorite.  Of course.  However, I would not recommend flying with it since it delayed me 28 minutes!

Jan 1, 2013

DIY Decisions...

Every time the New Year comes around, I get excited to clean out the closets, organize under the beds, and start a new project.  After traveling for 10 of the 13 days of my winter break, I found myself daydreaming while I unpacked my suitcase again.  Two years ago, we started the year by renovating this little house (and here).  It took many months to get to this, and then one year ago we changed up the living room.  This year I am satisfied with the furniture, but I am looking to add a little charm.  Thanks to Pinterest, I cannot escape the DIY inspiration.  This is my latest project:

Board and batten in the hallway! I can't wait to add a little architectural detail to the house and an organized place to put photographs.

This is the hallway connecting two of the bedrooms.  I want to have two horizontal rows and a two-inch shelf on the top.  The hardest part is finding the best distance between the battens and the height of the top shelf.  The attic light and the thermostat won't be moved, so there are only a few ways to measure.  Right now the two horizontal strips of tape are at 5' and 4' high, and the "battens" are 15" apart.  I like that the photo frames will be seen from the living room if I don't make it much higher.  The decision part is not whether to go ahead with the project but if it should just be that one wall, the entire hall, or also doing the adjoining hallway.  What to do?