Category Archives: Crafts

Working On My Crafty Side (or Starting Off Halloween Season!)

I love Halloween. I don’t know if it started because of working at Halloween Horror Nights or the amazing Halloween parties that my friends have thrown, but I love Halloween time. I remember when I was growing up that my parents would get the Halloween box out of the garage and we would spend an afternoon decorating the outside of the house. Now that I’m in my house, I really don’t decorate the outside but I’ve tried to be better about decorating the inside. I’m not the most crafty person, but I’m good at shopping and have found some cute decorations that work in my house.

But my friend Anne is probably one of the most crafty people I know and is amazing at decorating! She decorates her house based on the season and changes out things seasonally so that everything reflects what she is decorating for! I met Anne when I went to the blogger event a few years ago about the Hard Rock Cafe 5K and we’ve stayed in touch ever since then. We don’t get to see each other that often, so when she invited me to a crafting party at her house, I immediately RSVPed yes!

The plan was to decorate styrofoam pumpkins and she would have all the crafting supplies for us. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t know what to do with the pumpkin but I knew there would be so many creative people there that I could learn from and hopefully I would be inspired and could make something cute.

When I got to the party, Anne had all the crafting supplies out by the tables she set up. I was so impressed by everything that she had for us and even more impressed that this was all stuff that she already had in her house!

There were so many things on the table to use to decorate the pumpkins! I honestly didn’t know where to start. The only thing I knew I didn’t want to use was glitter because it gets everywhere and I try to not have glitter things in my house (I guess that proves I’m not into crafts since I don’t like glitter). But there were so many paint options, ribbons, gems, door knobs to use as stems, and other things to choose from so not using glitter wasn’t going to limit me.

Other people started to grab paint, glitter, and other things to decorate and I took a moment to observe and see what everyone else was doing. A lot of people were painting their pumpkins another color and then were going to work on decorating on top of that, but I knew that it wouldn’t be what I would do. So I took a look carefully at the supplies table and got inspired by some gem-type ribbon. Anne got a glue gun out for me so I could glue it down, I grabbed some gems to go with the ribbon, and I started working.

I covered the stem of the fake pumpkin with the ribbon and then wrapped it around and glued it down. Then I took some of the gems and put them randomly around the pumpkin. I was liking how it looked and decided that because I’m such a big Disney nerd that I needed to add a few hidden Mickeys to my pumpkin. And I was so happy with the end result!

It’s the perfect mix of Halloween and Disney and it will look so cute on my dining room table! And it’s simple enough that as I get more decorations that it should still work with everything. And because Anne had so many extra pumpkins, I took another one and took colored gems to create a pumpkin that was just Mickeys.

As expected, everyone else was so creative! The pumpkins looked like things you would buy in a store and we joked that we should create a shop to sell what we made. I wish I could be as creative and crafty as everyone else, but that’s just not a skill I have right now. I probably could be better if I worked on it, but I don’t have a lot of opportunity to do that.

And when everyone was all done, we had to get all the pumpkins together for a photo. That’s what happens when you are in a room of bloggers, social media specialists, and marketers.

I do feel like mine are the least fancy of the bunch, but I am still proud of what I made and that they did turn out cute. I was not competing with others to make the best pumpkin, I just wanted to do something that I could be proud of and that didn’t look ugly. I accomplished both of those goals.

I’m so glad that I went to the pumpkin party because I got to meet so many amazing people and I got to spend an afternoon being creative. Even though my creativity isn’t usually in crafting, any time I get to be creative is a good thing for me. And it helped me kick off Halloween season early so now I can take the rest of my Halloween decorations out and start getting my house into the Halloween spirit!

Adding Gadgets To My House (or Tools To Help Me Out)

While I’m trying to cut back on my spending and bringing more things into my house, sometimes you need to break that rule to make things better. It’s a hard balance to figure out because I’m sure I can justify spending for stuff I really don’t need. So I’m trying to be very picky and making sure that it’s something that I really need and not just something that I want. But there were two gadgets that fit into that rule that I ended up buying this week.

The first thing I got was a lamination machine for my house. Usually when I need to laminate stuff, I go to Staples and pay to get it done. I normally only need one thing or one page so it never seemed worth it to me to have my own lamination machine. But my mom has had one for a while and loved it, so when I was thinking about getting stuff laminated this week I looked into buying one for myself.

I did manage to find one that was heavily discounted on Amazon that would arrive that day at my house (thanks Amazon Prime)! And it was perfect because I have been working on my meal planning and wanted to create a nice reusable meal planning guide.

The machine I got is really easy to use and it came with a bunch of the laminating pages so I don’t need to buy any for a little bit. And I have been able to use the meal planning page I created each day (although I’m still trying to figure out how I can write on this without ruining it). And it’s small enough that it fits into a shelf on my desk so it is out of the way when I am not going to be using it.

The other new gadget I got this week also has to do a bit with my challenge to work on meal planning. I’ve thought for a long time that my kitchen was perfectly set up for me to cook, but I’m aware that I set it up based on what most people need and not what I need. I’m a pretty decent cook and my knife skills are ok, but when I have to cut up a bunch of stuff I’m not so great at it. So I have been looking casually at ideas to make chopping stuff easier and decided I needed to invest in a new cooking gadget. So I went out and got the Vidalia Chop Wizard.

I got it yesterday and used it last night to cook dinner. I made meatloaf muffins and this was perfect for chopping the onions and mushrooms I use it in. It was so much easier than chopping things by hand and everything was uniform so I didn’t bit into a huge piece of onion while eating dinner. I know that this can be used for a ton of stuff and I have a feeling that I will be discovering ways to use it on a regular basis.

And besides the new stuff I bought this week, I’ve been rediscovering stuff in my kitchen to help me with my food goals. I’ve been using my slow cooker (and I found my slow cooker liners so I don’t have to do much cleanup) to make easy meals and I’ve found recipes that don’t require browning food or getting another pan dirty to make the meal (my slow cooker pet peeve). And I’ve been using my food processor regularly the last few weeks and have started to think that maybe I need to buy another food processor bowl and blade so it will be easier to use it multiple times a day.

I know that I can do a lot of the work I’ve been using these gadgets for by hand, but why should I? This is making cooking easier and seems like I could be more likely to keep things up in the long run. The only downside is that I do need to go through my kitchen now and figure out what I really want to keep and what I can give to others because my kitchen is super tiny and lacking storage space. I don’t know where to put everything just yet (there are things all over my house that could live in the kitchen if there was space), but that will be something else I need to work on with organizing my house.

But for now, I’m just so glad that I was ok spending a bit of money to try to make things better for me with figuring other things out in my life.

Westside Wonderland (or Hanging Out At The Mall)

A fellow blogger had posted a giveaway that they were doing for an event at a mall near my house. I entered, but since I never win much, I didn’t pay too much attention to the details. A few days later, I got an email saying that I won, so I decided to do a bit more research to see what I had gotten myself into.

The event was Westside Wonderland, a shopping evening with food, drinks and entertainment.

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The contest I won was for 2 tickets, so I texted my friend Rayshell to see if she was free and wanted to come along. She could, so on Sunday she met me over at my house and we headed over to the event together.

We got there a little early, but we were able to check in and get our wristbands. We had a few shopping errands that we both wanted to run, so we went and did our shopping first. Then we decided to see what sort of offerings there were at the event.

There was a jewelry store that had some veggies, brownies, and sparkling cider so we hung out there for a bit (the jewelry was pretty awesome too but neither of us had the money to spend on it). There was also a photo booth set up and a DJ in the middle of the mall.

Then we noticed a crowd toward the other end of the mall so we headed there.

We knew that there would be food, but we had no idea that it would be like this.

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Fill R Up was there making these amazing savoy (and some sweet) Brioche donuts that were filled with savory foam and topped with lots of yummy things. Then, they were torched right there in front of us to be cooked!

It was so cool to watch, and everyone wanted a bite. We tried the Filly Tank (a Philly cheesecake style donut) and the Caprese Tank (which tasted like a pizza to me). Then we got some dessert with the Campfire Tank which was like a deconstructed s’more.

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We hung out at that food station for a while, but it was so good that we kept wanting to try more!

After that, we decided to head back toward where we started to see what other things were going on. We were both getting a little tired and didn’t have a lot of money to spend. So we were thinking that we were getting ready to leave soon.

Back near the entrance of the mall, there was a lounge area set up for attendees of the event (the mall was open to regular customers while we were there, so that’s why we needed the wristbands).

In the lounge area, Fleurish was there to help us all make our own flower arrangements. I had never heard of Fleurish before, but it’s such a cool idea! You get to make your own arrangements with the help of the employees in their studio and you can even take classes to be able to make arrangements at home!

Rayshell and I both wanted to make a little arrangement. And with some help from a Fleurish employee, I think we both did a pretty awesome job!

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After making our flower arrangements, it was time for us to head out. While we didn’t stay a long time at the event, we both had an awesome time and we got some shopping done and got some wonderful things to eat!

Chalkboard Placemats (or Successfully Being Crafty!)

Thanksgiving this year is being held in La Jolla. My parents are renting a house and hosting it there. Since my parents are hosting and they are driving to the location, I offered to try to help out with whatever I could.

I was able to go out and get the tablecloth for the adult table as well as get some of the food things that my mom needed. But I wanted to see if I could do something really awesome.

I’ve seen so many pins on Pinterest about what you can do with chalkboard paint. I’ve always wanted to try one, but I never knew what exactly I should do.

But then I saw an idea about making placemats with chalkboard paint. The ones I saw on Pinterest were made out of a fabric placemat where someone glued posterboard on it and covered the posterboard with the chalkboard paint. But since I had seen some other ideas about using the paint on fabric, I decided to try it but skip a step.

First, I went to Bed Bath and Beyond to get the placemats. While I knew it didn’t really matter what pattern I bought since one side would be covered with the paint and I thought that some of the paint might seep through to the other side, I still got the matching pattern to the tablecloth I bought.

Then I went to OSH and had a nice chat with the employee in the paint department. He was actually super helpful and said that as long as I did thick coats of paint on the placemats, the regular chalkboard paint would work and I wouldn’t have to do any fancy primers on it. I got the regular chalkboard paint and had it done in black since I didn’t know if I would want to do a coordinating color to the placemats.

Finally, it was time to attempt the project.

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I got a bunch of ads from the mail and covered the concrete in front of my house with it. It’s really good that I did this step because I was a sloppy painter.

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The first coat of paint went on pretty nicely. I did it really thick and used a lot more paint than I thought I would. But I wanted to make sure that I covered the entire thing and none of the colors were showing through.

I let it dry for a day and then went to work on the second coat of paint.

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I didn’t have to do this one quite as thick, but I still wanted to make sure that there was good coverage over the entire placemat.

I let them dry for another day before I got out the chalk that I bought to see if these were a success.

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And as you can tell from the happy face I drew that they were! They aren’t super easy to wipe off, but if you get a damp cloth it isn’t too bad.

I’m excited to see how the kids like these at the kid’s table at dinner. I’ll have to do an update when I do my Thanksgiving dinner recap!

But at least these were a Pinterest win and not a Pinterest fail!

Pinning And Not Doing (or The Hazards Of Pinterest)

I’ve been pretty active on my Pinterest page lately. I’ve been pinning a ton of recipes and craft ideas and I’m super inspired to do all of these ideas.

Except I’ve done none of them.

I went back through the recipes that I’ve pinned lately and they all look amazing to me. I want to make all of those meals now. Some of them are even slow cooker recipes so I can cook them while I work (but I don’t feel comfortable leaving my slow cooker on while I’m not home yet).

But then I look at the ingredients and realize that I have to do a shopping trip just to get those things. I don’t keep a very stocked fridge or pantry, but I feel like  I have to do that so I don’t go crazy with food. So I can’t just “throw something together” because I don’t have the something to throw together.

I’m trying to do some planning about maybe going to get the ingredients on a day that I can make the dish, but then when I get to the store, I’m just motivated to get the things I usually eat (lots of salad ingredients and frozen chicken).

I’m not sure if my lack of motivation is due to not wanting to make the food or the cleanup involved afterwards. It’s also not motivating when I’m just cooking for myself. When I have company, I’m happy to cook.

Crafty ideas I’m getting a bit better about. I saw a pin about cute placemats for Thanksgiving. I went out and got all the things needed to make them and I’ll be working on them on the weekend (it involves multiple coats of paint so I want a day that I’m free to work on this). I’m much more willing to fail with crafty ideas than I am with food.

Everything looks so beautiful on Pinterest and not necessarily achievable by “normal” people. There are even websites devoted to Pinterest fail. I understand that with many things that are pinned on there, failure is almost inevitable because many pins are done by professionals.

I just have to get over myself and take the risk at making these foods I’ve pinned and maybe I can become a Pinterest success story!

Minor Remodeling (or Putting My Parents To Work On Their Vacation)

Whenever my parents (or just my dad by himself) come to visit, there is always a list of things that I’m hoping to get done at my house. A lot of times it’s minor things like help hanging things on the walls (I have weird walls in my house and my dad has a special drill bit that we need to use to put screws in). But this trip, we had bigger things in mind.

It started with my birthday couch. When the plan was to get something from IKEA, I knew that my dad and I would have to put it together. But since I got a different couch that came delivered all put together, that was one thing that we didn’t have to do.

But I knew that my mom would have some ideas about how to reorganize my house to make the couch fit in better. There aren’t a lot of ways to organize furniture in a 400 square foot house, but my mom has a way of figuring it out.

When she got to my house, we moved the lounge part of my couch to the other side right away. Then we looked at moving my TV around. Finally, my dad and I took the doors off of my entertainment center because I never close the doors. After lots of deliberation, I had an entirely new looking living room just by moving some furniture (and getting the new couch).

My living room went from this:

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To this:

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I know it’s a little tough to tell the difference from the pictures, but trust me, it’s made a huge difference! My living room looks much bigger now and the flow of the furniture makes more sense.

The next project that we thought would be a huge project involved my dining room chairs. My dining room set is from the late 1960’s or early 1970’s (there’s some debate on that). My aunt actually got it for herself and then she gave it to my dad. My parents had it in storage for a while until I got my first apartment in 2003. Then they gave it to me.

I absolutely love my dining room set. It’s simple and classic and it’s so well made that it doesn’t look as old as it is. The only thing that was bugging me was the cover that each chair had. It was made of black vinyl and all the padding that was there (if there ever was any) was gone. One chair had a little tear in it, but besides that they still looked decent. The chair covers were the original covers that they came with when my aunt bought the set. So my parents agreed with me that it was time for an update.

We headed to a fabric store near my house and found a wonderful fabric that matched my house really well. And it was in a clearance section so it was only $5/yard (compared to $38/yard for another fabric we loved). My dad brought his staple gun down so we were planning on figuring out how to cover the chairs ourselves.

While in the store, one of the employees asked my dad if we needed any help so my dad explained what we needed. Turns out, that employee does chair covers on the side! He would take the fabric we purchased, remove the old fabric, add new padding, and cover it all.

That was so much better of a plan than my dad and I winging it! I’m sure we would have done an ok job, but why not leave it up to the professionals!

We dropped the seats off on Saturday and they were done on Monday morning. While I was at the dentist my parents picked them up for me and came over to my house to put the chairs back together. When I returned home, my parents had done all the work!

The chairs look amazing.

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The fabric really goes with the style of the chair and they are so much more comfortable now! I have some of the scraps of fabric from the cushions and I really want to do some sort of project with them. There isn’t enough to make a table runner, but I’m thinking maybe figuring out if they could be turned into placemats (anyone know anything about doing that?).

Besides our decorating work, my dad also washed all the outsides of my windows and my screens so my windows are super clean now. We also did some work with the plants in the front of my house (my dad brought me another bark planter and we did some touch up work on the old one).

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Considering I live in a rental house and I can’t do a ton of work to the inside, my parents have really helped me make the space my own. And after living here for 4 1/2 years, having things freshened up really makes it feel new again.

And I’m so lucky that my parents are both willing to help me fix up my house, each in their own ways. My mom is such a great decorator (so much of the artwork in my house was either originally my mom’s or she got them for me), and my dad is an awesome handyman (who only charges me in beer).

At Home Manicure Time (or I Actually Made My Nails Look Cute)

As much as I am a girlie-girl, I’m not very good at doing beauty things. I just didn’t get the hair and makeup gene. I can do basic things, but usually when things are more than using concealer or putting my hair in a ponytail I’m pretty much a failure.

When I was in college, I used to get my nails done fairly regularly (maybe every other month or so). Back then, $10 manicures weren’t much since I didn’t really have bills to pay. Nowadays, I can’t afford them (especially since they seem to chip right away), so when I do get my nails done, it’s a pedicure not a manicure.

But I still like my nails to look nice, so I’ve tried to do at home manicures. Normally it looks like a 5-year-old coloring outside the lines. So I pretty much stick to just putting some top coat on my nails so they are shiny (and a little stronger since my nails tend to peel).

But a while ago, I saw an idea online to make patterns on your nails using blue tape (also known as painters tape). So I decided to try it out and it worked really well!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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Base Coat, Top Coat, Color of Choice, Blue Tape, and Decorative Hole Punch.

First step is to do a basic base coat on all of your nails.

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Next, tear off some of the blue tape and use your decorative hole punch (mine was a star shape) to punch a hole in the middle of the piece of tape.

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Then, put the tape on the nail that you want to have the design on. Press the tape down so there are no air bubbles next to the hole (that would ruin the design).

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Take the nail color of your choice (mine was a silver glitter) and paint over the piece of tape. I did 2 coats because I wanted it to be very sparkly.

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Then you need to let the colored polish dry. And once you think it’s dry, let it dry for a few more minutes. If it’s even a little bit wet still, the borders of the design aren’t going to stay clean. Trust me on this. I made that mistake on my first attempt.

After the polish is dry, peel off the blue tape and you can see if you need to do any touch-ups.

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I thought that it looks pretty good as it was, so I didn’t do any touch-ups. Also, I’m sure if I tried to do a touch-up, I would screw up the design.

After the touch-up, paint all your nails with a coat of topcoat. You might have to do 2 coats on the nail with the design for it to feel smooth.

That’s it! I have another decorative hole punch that make a heart design (I bought the set on Amazon), but I’ve also seen a design that uses a bandage to make polka dots on your nails (I might try that one in the future).

While I might never really be able to do a full at home manicure, at least I can feel cute and girly with designs on my nails.

Dot Art Mugs (or A Pinterest Win!)

I haven’t had the best luck with being able to create things I see on Pinterest. And the things I’m able to do aren’t necessarily the most impressive things (when I was sick, I combined an empty tissue box with a full one to have a trash can in easy reach).

But when I saw this blog pinned on Pinterest, I thought that maybe I could do the dot art mug. And I’m happy to say that it was a success!

It’s a super easy craft, but I think it look pretty impressive, as you’ll see at the bottom of this post. And you don’t need too much to do it.

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First, you need a plain mug. I bought this one at a kitchen supply store, but I think I’m going to look at IKEA for more. You also need a sticker to create the negative space. And finally you need an oil-based Sharpie (you can buy these at craft stores, just look for the marker to say “oil-based”).

To start, I put the “J” sticker on the mug where I wanted the plain space to be.

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Then using the oil-based Sharpie, I put dots all over the sticker, putting more dots closer to the sticker and putting them farther apart the farther I got from the sticker.

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I then let the marker dry for about an hour before removing the sticker. I would recommend waiting longer as my dots got a little smudged.

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The final step (which I haven’t done yet) it to put the mug in a cold over, turn it on to 350, and letting it bake for 30 minutes. I’m going to do a few more mugs before I bake them (might as well be energy-efficient!).

I did a second mug after my “J” one and I think the heart looks even better!

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I’m thinking of maybe making some of these for anniversary gifts (sorry to spoil the surprise for anyone who might get one from me).

And if you don’t want to do dot art, you can still follow all the same steps to make a custom mug/plate/bowl/serving dish. The possibilities are endless!

And now I have something crafty to keep me busy while I’m out of work!