Crafts & How-Tos

My heart is so full after this weekend. I try to make myself pause from time to time to really take in all the good things in my life and appreciate how fortunate I am, and it’s weekends like this that make that almost too easy to do.

On Sunday, we had a little gender reveal party to find out if our bub is a boy or a girl. I wanted to keep the event small, and had originally planned to hold it in our new apartment, but ultimately had to move it to my in-laws’ backyard due to the water damage at our place. Here’s a little recap of how the party went down — plus the ultimate reveal!

And bear with me…this one has a lot of photos.

My dear friend Michelle and sister-in-law Kelly were HUGE helps to me in planning the party. Kelly helped by creating an adorable Polaroid-inspired photo booth:

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Delicious red velvet cake pops for the dessert table:

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And these amazing flower crowns:

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Seriously, can we get a close-up of those?

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These were all random ideas I had seen variations of online, and I sent them to her hoping she could create something similar. The results totally exceeded my expectations — thank you again, Kelly!

Michelle also had what you might call an important job: creating the reveal confetti poppers! I had seen a similar idea online, but purchasing the poppers pre-made would have cost me literal appendages. Knowing Michelle is pretty dang crafty, I entrusted her to putting the poppers together. And MAN OH MAN did they turn out amazing!

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She also created these adorable bow and bow tie pins for everyone to wear to declare their baby guesses. She used pink and mint construction paper and outlined them with gold marker before gluing each to a clothespin.

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Team Girl!


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Team Boy!

Michelle also made these delicious pink lemonade cupcakes (with surprise centers) to enjoy after the announcement. Joey may have eaten three of them — they were so dang good.

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For the rest of the refreshments, we served a chicken apple sausage pasta, burgers, and a big salad. The drinks were themed (of course); a Baby Blue Punch with Malibu and a Pink Arnold Palmer for those of us who can’t drink. (It was still pretty delish, if I do say so myself!)

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But what am I boring you with party details for? Let’s get to the good stuff!

For the actual reveal, we gathered everyone around Joey and me, including my parents who FaceTime’d in on Joey’s laptop.

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Then there wasn’t anything left to do but pop!

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And it’s a GIRL! Even though I had suspected our confetti might be pink, it wasn’t until I actually saw it that everything became real. Joey and I can’t wait to meet our daughter in less than four months!

Thank you again to everyone who helped make this party a success — we are so happy we got to share the moment with you. And to our little girl: Honey bun, we can’t wait to meet you!

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When it comes to decor, I’m pretty sure it’s mostly a giant game of one step forward, two steps back. In most cases, new ideas just beget other new ideas, adding to your already never-ending to-do list. And in some cases, just when you think you’re getting close to finishing that to-do list, something comes along to throw a big, fat fly in the ointment.

Oh, am I being vague again? I’ll elaborate.

This weekend, the person who lives two floors above us flooded their apartment. The apartment above us was also flooded. We were spared the brunt of the water damage, but we do have three lovely nipple-shaped pockets of water on our ceiling right now. Two of them broke through and mostly drained out, but there is still visible damage. Fortunately, our landlord is taking care of it (supposedly today), but it still puts a (literally) damper on my plans to have finished the living room this weekend.

But we’re close, people. So close.

And while I have to throw in the actual towel to sop up the mess for now, there are little signs of progress throughout the apartment. Like this fun little craft I completed a couple weeks ago.

It’s no secret that I love gold details. And since our office area is usually the corner of our home I struggle to make look put together, I thought it would be a nice touch to add some gold details. And rather than spend any money on any new chotchkies or whatever, I broke out some spray primer and spray paint I already had on hand to dress up the drawer pull and my cheap plastic push-pins.

how to paint gold push pins DIY

To paint the push-pins, I stuck each of them through a piece of scrap cardboard and primed. This step is key — most metallic spray paints I’ve used won’t stick to naked plastic. Let dry for a couple of hours in the sun.

gold push pin DIYNext, it was time to go for the gold. This painting portion actually took about four steps/coats because the pushpins are such a weird shape. I have to spray from each side as well as the top to make sure all the rainbow-bright colors were completely covered up. Then I let them dry for a full 25 hours outside to cure any stickiness.

gold push pin DIY

Ta-da! I love the finished result — it makes the whole bulletin board look more pulled together.

I used the same technique to paint the drawer pull, and it also turned out nicely. (It’s just hard to take an inspiring photo of a drawer pull.)

So there you have it — the easiest little decor DIY ever.

What is everyone else working on?

Landscape

Mean muggin.

I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with Craigslist, but I am. I’m apparently so taken with the online marketplace that I write about it on this very blog — quite frequently.

But while I’ve discussed how to be good at Craigslist, what I hate about Craigslist, and how to NOT rent an apartment on Craigslist, there’s one aspect of buying and selling that I have no yet addressed: the art of the Craigslist negotiation.

Fortunately for all of you (right?), I’ve garnered many a cautionary in my many years of buying and selling, and now I’m going to share them with you. Here are a few signs you might not be so good at Craigslist negotiating.

1. You seem to think this is Macy*s.
Listen, I get it. You paid hundreds of dollars for that [insert name of furniture/appliance/etc.]. It hurts your heart — and bank account — to even think about selling it for half what you paid for it. But you know what? You are not a department store. I did not drive to your establishment, park in your sprawling parking complex, and brave a stroll through your perfume department to get to this [furniture/appliance/etc.], whereupon I then bought it brand new out of a box. I found it on a semi-shady, over-grown garage sale website. After you had used it for a couple of years. So, alas, you cannot sell it to me for what you paid for it.

There’s nothing worse than a Craigslist seller who won’t budge on their listing price. This is why I always list at least $10 higher than what I ultimately want to get for the item — that way, I can negotiate without feeling too great of a loss. Any time I encounter a seller who won’t drop at least $10 from their price, I immediately move on. Stop acting offended and remember where we are right now.

2. You think you have Jedi mind control.
There are few things more annoying than a buyer trying to trick you into a low-ball offer. When you email me and just say, “What will you sell this to me for?”, my immediate mental response is to send you a “Let Me Google That For You”-type response where I just re-send you the original ad. Howsabout we start at that number, huh pal?

As I just said, I have no issues with haggling. I encourage it, in fact. But you have to at least make me a real offer. You’re not going to fool me into giving my best and final right off the bat. This ain’t my first rodeo, cowboy.

3. You take the low-ball offer to a subterranean level.
I feel like I should repeat the fact that I am not above bargaining. I expect you to reply to my ad with an offer. What really irks me? An offer that is 50 percent or less than what I listed for.

Come on, guys. Be respectful. If I really didn’t care how much I sold it for, I would just drop it in the free section to be done with it. I make a habit of offering at least 75 percent of whatever it was originally listed for, in expectation that the seller will come back closer to 80-85 percent. The only exception is if something is already priced super low — then I might just offer whatever it’s listed for (because I’m not a psychopath).

There’s nothing more annoying than listing something for $80 and getting an offer for $30. Like, what do you think this is? And stop acting wide-eyed and shocked when I say “no, thanks.”

I feel like I may have exhausted my Craigslist tips at this point, but I’m sure there are more great ideas out there. What are your best buying and selling secrets?

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It has been a while since we’ve had a good, ol’ fashioned how-to on the blog. Lucky for you guys, a fresh move is rife with possibilities for DIY. (I know, don’t you feel lucky?)

Anyway.

Before I begin the how-to, I have a confession: Joey and I are one of those horrible American couples who eat most of our meals in front of the TV. I know. We’re single-handedly breaking down humanity. I’m sorry.

We started our marriage with good intentions. The first couple of weeks, we ate dinner at the dinner table. Like grown-ups.

Then…we got cable.

And then we became your worst sitcom nightmare, slowly drifting closer and closer to the tube, plates in hand, promises that “it’s only this one time” drifting from our lips. By six months of wedded bliss, the “dining” table was used mostly for holding paper work or as a surface for whatever craft I was working on at the time.

RIP, dining table.

By our second apartment, we downsized to a small white kitchen table mostly for the sake of appearances. After a year of little to no use, I sold it and used the space for kitchen storage. I had no regrets.

So when we started looking for our next place, I made an agreement (with myself)(in my head): I would only buy a dining table if our apartment had a designated dining space. Otherwise, why bother with the pretense. And then…we succeeded in getting pregnant.

And when we found our sweet little 2-bedroom, definitely lacking in specific dining space, we were faced with a choice: pass on our bad habits to our offspring, or get creative with our furniture arrangement. Because, really, what kind of grown-ups are we if we can’t manage a family dinner at a table like the surgeon general has begged us to do?

But no amount of good intentions was going to expand our apartment, so we needed to think small. I started looking for tables on Craigslist that either came petite or had the ability to be folded down in some way. After a couple of weeks of scouring, I came upon a sweet little round number with fold-down sides — perfect. The only problem? While the legs were white, the top was that pale tan wood that I associate with farm tables from the early ’90’s. Definitely not going to work in our strictly white-and-dark-wood household. (Furniture colors is a household divide worthy of fair Verona, in my humble opinion.)

And so, after roughly one calendar year of preface, begins our how-to.

I started by lightly sanding (seriously, you’re mostly just wiping it down with a very fine-grit sandpaper) the table’s surface.

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From there, I used a small mohair roller and Glidden Duo Paint + Primer in a semi-gloss. When it comes to picking paint, I always refer to the expertise of whoever is working in Home Depot’s paint department. But in general, you want something with a semi-shiny finish for easy wiping, and a roller is better than a brush for the smoothest finish.

Two coats in...

Two coats in…

Also, don’t go crazy with your coats. It’s so much better to do 3-4 thin coats of paint than to glob on one or two thick coats that will never fully cure. Be patient. (I’m saying this mostly to myself, but it’s probably good advice for you guys too.)

I ended up doing three full coats and one touch-up coat. Don’t freak out if you feel like your roller is leaving a spongy texture in the paint — give it a few minutes to settle and then decide if your equipment is faulty.

You also want to not do what I did and make sure to bend down the sides before the paint finishes drying. This will enable you to paint those surfaces (which will be visible any time the table isn’t fully extended) without have the surface paint dry together over the cracks.

Mind the crack.

Mind the crack.

I had to sand my edges down a bit and then repaint them. Learn from my mistakes.

Anyway, once you’re done painting, it’s a good idea to let the table sit for at least 24-48 hours before putting anything on top. Mine dried fast enough that I could at least attach the legs and move it inside (since the weather forecast originally predicted rain), but I had to touch up the top when I got overambitious and added a vase of flowers so I could take the below photo. Darn me and my incessant staging! But the point is, now it really looks like this:

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Pretty, right? And it takes up very little space, especially with the sides folded all the way down.

I hope this baby appreciates all the work we’re already putting in to being good parents, ya know?

Was anyone else particularly industrious this weekend? Tell me what you’re working on!

 

Healthy Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

What? Two baking posts in one week? Who am I, you guys?

I guess this is me unofficially adding “bake more” to my fall bucket list.

Today’s recipe is technically a cookie recipe, but the health nuts out there will appreciate that it is flour-, egg-, dairy-, and gluten-free. It does have nuts, but those can easily be swapped out if you have an allergy.

I actually made a variation of these cookies a while back (recipe here), but this time around, I made a few substitutions and the whole process turned out a lot better. Here’s how to make them:

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Healthy Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:
2 overripe bananas
1 cup gluten-free oats
1 1/2 Tablespoons cacao powder
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:
Step One: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Step Two: Combine all ingredients, mashing the banana with a fork. Stir until the bananas are completely blended with the rest of the ingredients.

Step Three: Place 2-tablespoon clumps of the “batter” on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. These cookies don’t really spread, so you don’t have to worry about the cookies being close together. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cookies appear slightly crisp on the outside. Let cool and enjoy!

Cacao is one of my favorite chocolate substitutes — it’s high in antioxidants, magnesium, and iron. It adds a rich, chocolatey taste without too much sweetness. (In this recipe, the overripe bananas make the cookies sweet enough.)

Next, I’d like to try a variation of these cookies with canned pumpkin instead of bananas. Stay tuned!

I’ve noticed a few bloggers making bucket lists for the seasons. You’ve probably seen them: In the summer, they want to go to the beach, try surfing, throw a BBQ. In the fall, they want to make s’mores, go camping, wear plaid, etc.

You all know I love fall. And you know I love making lists. So I figured, why not? Here’s what I would put on my fall bucket list:

1. Go apple picking.
2. Make an apple crisp.
3. Go camping.
4. Hike a trail through fall leaves.
5. Drink apple cider.

You may notice a propensity for the outdoors and, well, eating. I am who I am.

And what a coincidence, I’ve already checked off three of those things. Last Friday, Joey, Boges, a few of our friends, and I went apple picking at an orchard upstate.

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Bogey clearly loved it most of all, but Joey and I also had a great time picking our own apples and drinking cider. (Hello, Bucket List Items #1 and #5!)

Last night, I decided to check off item #2 by making apple crisp for the first time evah. Here’s the recipe I used, in case you have your own list to tackle this season. Bonus: It’s also gluten free as long as you use gluten-free oats.

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Whiskey Pecan Apple Crisp
(gently modified from this recipe)

Ingredients:

For the filling:
6-7 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice

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For the topping:
1 cup hazelnut flour
1 cup gluten-free whole oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the garnish:
Cinnamon Whiskey (I used Fireball)
Cinnamon for sprinkling
Vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream (optional…but recommended)

 

Step One: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Step Two: Combine the apples, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 3 tablespoons honey, and lemon juice. Stir until apples are coated evenly.

Step Three: In a separate bowl, whisk the hazelnut flour, oats, salt, remaining cinnamon, and pecans.

Step Four: Use a fork or your fingers to mix in the remaining honey and butter until the topping has a crumbly consistency.

Step Five: Pour apples into two 9-inch pie dishes or baking dishes. Cover with the crumble topping.

Step Six: Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Step Seven: Spoon half a cup to one cup of crisp into a bowl while still warm. Drizzle with 1 oz of the cinnamon whiskey. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, and cinnamon as desired. Enjoy!

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