Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ombre Pom Pom Centerpiece

I was browsing Pinterest the other day (shocker, I know!) and came across a centerpiece similar to this one that was made with white carnations. Since I am helping my sister with the flowers for her wedding, and we are making them all from paper, I decided to try out a version with tissue paper pom pom flowers. I also wanted to get a little extra fancy, so I did an ombre arrangement starting with a white flower at the top and moving down into a dark blue at the base. This is a pretty easy arrangement to make, and would look great not only at a wedding, but a baby shower or birthday party!

The base for the arrangement is simply a candlestick (I snagged mine at the dollar store!) and a styrofoam ball (mine is 4" in diameter).

You will also need a bunch of tissue paper pom pom flowers, with a wire stem long enough to poke into your styrofoam ball. My finished centerpiece has a total of 25 flowers on it, made from pieces of tissue paper that were 4"x6". I left about 2" of stem on each (to make your stems sturdier you may want to double them over and wrap them with floral tape). Depending on the size of your styrofoam ball, the size of your flowers, and how densely you want to place them, you may need more or less.

I decided I didn't want to glue my styrofoam to the candlestick, so I could use it again later if I wanted to for another project. So to start, I placed my darkest color blue flowers around the candlestick base to hold it in place. I fluffed up my flowers and then moved o the next color. I also placed my single white flower at the top as a reference point so that my flowers wouldn't get too crooked as I built upwards.

Continue placing flowers and fluffing until you are satisfied with your finished product! If you don't want these as a centerpiece they would also be great as decoration on a dessert table, and if you want a taller base you could easily use a tall slender vase instead of the candlestick. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

DIY: Paint Chip Art Journal

I started a series on Art Journaling awhile ago. Then we moved into a new apartment and I kind of let that fade away without getting to some of the finer points. Consider this my attempt at trying to rectify that somewhat. Here you will see how you can turn a stack of just about anything (in this case, sample paint chips) into a bright shiny new art journal.

To make this style of journal you will need:

A stack of old paint chips, or any kind of old paper/cardstock (playing cards would work very well)
a hole punch
binder rings

That's it! Start by deciding where you want your holes punched, and use one card to make a template. You can use this for punching all of your holes in your cards in the same place, simply line up your template on top of your unpunched cards (I only do a few at a time) and punch your holes in the same spot as the original. Then, secure your book together with the binder rings. The thing I love about this style of journal is you can start small with smaller rings, and then if you decide to add more pages later, just graduate to a larger sized ring and add more pages as needed. It also makes it easy to remove a page without tearing anything out. Binder rings...another office supply I like way too much. :)

One great thing about paint chips, is if you are having some trouble thinking of something to draw/write/etc. in your journal, each color has some fancy name that you can use as a jumping off point. Maybe you will draw a tropical lagoon on the card aptly labeled "tropical lagoon", maybe you will decide to make a collage of items in a certain colorway on another page to match (or contrast!). Also, while you can find paint chips in many sizes, most are very manageable as far as fitting a finished book into your pocket or bag to carry around with you everywhere you go. :)

I save everything, so I had a large number of paint chips on hand. If you don't but would like to make this project, ask at a local hardware supply store if you can take some paint chip samples without buying paint. Other options you could use are: playing cards, the fronts of old greeting cards/thank you notes, scrap cardstock pieces from old projects, cut up cereal boxes, etc.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Food Craft: Lime Bars

Finally another food craft! These Lime Bars are not only super yummy, but super easy and are perfect to take to all your Summer get togethers! I made mine to take over to a friend's place for Gin and Tonic (G&T) night. Truth be told, I could have eaten the whole pan myself, they were that good. I am a very unselfish friend sometimes.

I found the original recipe at but naturally tweaked it to my own personal taste, which my pals all seemed to agree with :) To make your own batch of tasty lime squares you will need:

For the crust:

half a sleeve of graham crackers (4.5-5 whole cracker "sheets"), about one cup
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of 2 limes

For the filling:

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh lime juice*

*Feel free to substitute lemon or other citrus in this recipe

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 8"x8" pan. I sprayed some non stick spray on the bottom and lined mine with parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine your graham crackers, pistachios, sugar and lime zest until finely ground and well combined. I pulsed mine until the graham crackers were very fine, but I still had some larger chunks of pistachios. I love pistachios. Add in your melted butter, mix together well and pour the mixture into your prepared pan.

Press mixture into pan and up the sides slightly, bake about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.

To make the filling, whisk together your sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks until well combined. Add your lime juice and whisk until smooth. Pour into cooled crust and spread evenly. Bake at 350 degrees about 15 minutes, until the filling has just set. Cool on cooling rack completely and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. I refrigerated mine overnight (it was a long night).

If you want to make a full 9"x13" pan of these (and why wouldn't you?), just double the recipe :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rain Cloud Mobile

I just found out that not only is my cousin having a bouncing baby boy this Summer, but my brother and his wife will be having a boy as well! SO it seems it's raining men in our family right now! In honor of our new little men, I made this cute rain cloud mobile (you could make it far more pink for the little ladies)!

To make your own rain cloud mobile you will need:

Felt sheets in various colors
String and/or Ribbon
batting or cotton balls to stuff the cloud
Embroidery floss and needle for finishing stitches
Rain Cloud Mobile template (at bottom of this post)
Any additional extras you want to add, go nuts!

Start by tracing your template onto your felt and cutting out all of your shapes. As this is a 3 dimensional project, I cut out 2 of each shape so they could be attached and all sides will look equally pretty, or handsome in this case :) You could easily make one side of your cloud white and the other gray or even black (it can even be an early teaching tool about the weather!).

You can cut out each rain drop once, or if you are like me, cut out a couple extras so you have more than 3 total drops. I decided to go with a mainly blue color scheme here and add in extra colors for some interest. I have to admit though, I think this would look great hanging by one of my windows and I might do an ombre rain drop scheme for that (probably orange)-- babies shouldn't have all the fun, right?

I used a no stitch heat and bond material on my raindrops so I could easily iron them together with a piece of string in between (the heat and bond was on one drop of each pair). I blanket stitched around each drop to add extra color, but it also hides a multitude of sins as far as how nicely each drop was cut out and matched up. If you do a lot of little felt projects, I highly recommend learning the blanket stitch. I found a great tutorial here.

My final assembled mobile looks like this:

It is now making it's way to Wisconsin to rain some love down on a cute little baby boy :)

The template for anyone wanting to make their own version of this:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fabric Covered Flower Pots

When you start a garden, you may be shocked at how expensive decorative pots for your flowers can be. This is a quick and easy way to jazz up your flower pots with scraps of fabric. You could also use paper, just make sure you seal your pot well before planting.

To make these decorative pots you will need:

Plain Terra Cotta flower pots (I got a 3 pack of tiny ones from the Dollar store!)
Fabric scraps large enough to cover the surface area of your pot
Mod Podge glue
A paint brush or sponge to apply glue
Spray on clear coat(br> Paint and Ribbon to decorate pot rim (optional)

To start, I used a piece of plain copy paper to make a template for my fabric. I wrapped it around one of my pots, and pressed against the edge between the pot and the rim, and along the bottom edge of my pot. You will end up with an arc shaped piece of paper, kind of like a rainbow. Then, I used my template to cut out fabric for each pot.

Once the fabric is cut, apply some glue to your pot in a thin coat. Lay your fabric over the glue (I start in the center of my fabric to avoid spreading it out crooked or getting puckers and gaps in the fabric) and smooth the fabric over the glue. Make sure to get glue under all of your fabric so it sticks evenly.

Once all of my fabric was glued down, I applied another coat of Mod Podge over the top of my fabric. Allow this to dry completely. I found it very helpful that I only had fabric going up to the lower rim of the pot so I could rest the pots upside down to dry. I left mine overnight to make sure all the glue was dried completely.

Next, add ribbon, paint or anything else you might like around the rim of your flower pot. You could use chalkboard paint if you want to be able to label your pot year after year. Apply a clear coat to the final pot to seal it and you are ready to plant!

To create the arrangement I have here, I placed one of my pots on top of an old thread spool. :) Don't these look extra bright and cheery? I'm also a sucker for anything teeny tiny, these certainly fit the bill :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dinosaur Garden Markers!

I always peruse the toy section of my local dollar store (you never know when you'll find something cute to send the nieces, right?). This time around, with garden crafts on the brain, I saw these little plastic dinosaurs and was inspired! They make great little garden markers for your plants, and add some whimsy to your garden. In addition, they work well with small potted plants and larger garden plots alike.

To make my dinosaur garden markers all I needed was:

A package of plastic toy dinosaurs ($1/pack of 8)
A permanent marker

Simply write the name of your plants on the dinosaur with permanent marker and allow to dry completely before touching. Place in your pot or in a garden row, and have a cute little dinosaur remind you what you've got sprouting :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Easy Windowsill Garden

One thing that always seems to come at a premium is space, so lots of people think they can't possibly have a garden to enjoy. This post will show you how you can use even the tiniest of spaces, like a windowsill, to plan and enjoy an easy garden of succulents and air plants. These plants are also great for those of us with limited ability to keep plants alive as they don't need the amount of attention and watering many standard house plants do.

First of all, you will need to select your plants. While many stores have a gardening section this time of year, I recommend finding a local plant nursery if you can. Even better, if you have shops that specialize in succulents or air plants (which are both becoming increasingly popular). You will get a lot more help and knowledge from the staff at a nursery then at Wal-Mart, trust me. Make sure to select plants that will fit comfortably in your space. I chose some 2" succulents and a tiny air plant. My grand total came to 8 dollars, shopping at the local specialty store was actually cheaper for me in this instance, so as I mentioned, search them out if you have them!

Next, you want to select your plants' new containers. Don't limit yourself to standard planters and pots, I happened upon these teacups (a vintage Pyrex and a Fire-King coffee cup) at my local Goodwill for 99 cents each. Pretty much every thrift store I've ever been in has a huge supply of old glassware at excellent prices. Why not try a candy dish, fondue pot or tea set? You can often find things of high quality that add extra visual interest to your garden.

The final step: re-potting and setting up your garden. This is where the information you can get from specialists is important. With succulents especially, you will want recommendations on the soil conditions. Plain old potting soil is probably not the route you should go to keep these babies alive. You may find you have to create your own mix of soil, sand and more. You'll also want information on how often to water your specific plants. The internet is a great source of info, but why take the extra time if you can get all you need to know in the same transaction?

As you can see, I placed my air plant in a green glass bud vase. Photosynthesis is actually inhibited by green light, so you may think that my plant might not bode so well. However, the tiny amount of light that comes in through the hole at the top seems to be doing a good job at keeping the plant healthy (all colors of light actually play SOME part in photosynthesis, but a plant could not be kept alive on green light alone). It is also important to point out that I don't really want my air plant to grow a whole lot, just stay alive. If it grows too much it will become way too big for my container, so I am only trying to maintain a balance in which it stays alive and about the same size. If you try out your own air plant, you may want to go with a clear glass container, though they require no container at all. You can simply set it on the windowsill by itself, or even wrap string around it and hang it up. I soak mine for about 20 minutes once every 2 weeks or so, and it's been doing great.

Finally, just sit back and enjoy your cute little garden! This is a great idea for Mother's Day or graduation. Who wouldn't want their own adorable little garden?