I’m officially back on the East Coast. In all its 34 degree glory. Le sigh.
At least things seem to have continued plodding back to normal. My in-laws have power, the gas shortage is mostly over, and you can get fresh food at the grocery store. The curfew in my town is apparently still on (yay…), and there is still a ton of damage in some areas, but things are definitely going in the right direction.
The only complaint I could possibly have is that my usual train still isn’t running (despite all the other trains on the same line running…?), but I’m keeping that in perspective. There are other trains.
Anyway. Let’s talk about happier things. Warmer, sunnier, happier things. Our trip to California!
We went to see my brother and his newly enlarged family (now plus two twin nephews), and we had a really great time.
Joey and I joked throughout the long weekend that this trip was our peek into parenting. My two nieces are six and four, and combined with two brand-new babies, we got a glimpse of the first few years at least. (Though, in our case, we most likely won’t start out with four.)
We spent most of our time with the girls (lacking a few vital abilities required to keep the boys happy), taking them to a movie and the zoo and playing a few hours of tickle monster.
I had tried to warn Joey before we left that this wouldn’t be a relaxing trip. The kids are high-energy and looking for as much attention as they can soak up, meaning there wouldn’t be a lot of downtime. We fell into bed utterly exhausted around 9:20/10:00 every night. I’m not exaggerating.
Of course, we carved out a little time for grown-up stuff too, visiting a brewery for a beer tasting and eating Thai and sushi just the two of us. All in all, it was a great trip and we had such a wonderful time reconnecting with everyone.
Out general conclusion was (not surprisingly) kids take a lot of work, but they’re still pretty great. (And we definitely want to ease into things with one at a time when we’re ready to start having kids of our own.)(Though watching Joey holding a tiny baby was definitely among the top five cutest things I’ve ever seen.)
For now, we’re very okay with just being the fun aunt and uncle.
**This giveaway is now closed. Click here for the winner.
This post is sponsored by Printcopia. The views expressed are mine.
I love houses filled with photos. When I was little and we would visit my grandparents’ house, I loved climbing their staircase and studying the wall of family pictures. Inspecting every tiny, grainy face was like looking into the past. Did they really wear their hair like that? Look how young my mom is! It was a trip, and it never seemed to get old.
Now I love having photos in my own home. From the ever-evolving gallery wall in the living room to the rows of pictures on top of our book cases to the over-sized shots from our honeymoon in the dining room, I’m pretty much running out of walls to plaster with more memories. (Not that that means I haven’t stopped trying.)
So I was pretty excited when I got an email from Printcopia asking if I would review one of their photo canvases.
Printcopia is a company that prints canvas photos, acrylic prints, panoramic photos, and more, turning everyday photos into works of art. (They also have sister sites where you can create car magnets, custom banners, and inexpensive signs…if you’re into that sort of thing.) Color me intrigued.
They offered me an 8×10 sample to review, so I sent off a photo that my sister had recently taken of us and waited impatiently for the canvas to arrive. And, you guys. It’s so pretty.
Printcopia let’s you choose whether you want to continue the photo on the sides of the canvas or add a solid border. I thought about doing a bold color (neon??) but decided black would probably have more longevity.
Basically, I’m super pleased with the quality.
And, as you probably guessed from the post title, Printcopia is also letting me give an 8×10 canvas away to one of my readers! All you have to do is leave a comment on the this blog post, and you’re in. If you want to get additional entries, simply complete the tasks listed below in the Rafflecopter widget.
That’s it! Giveaway ends Sunday, November 18th at 11:59 p.m. EST.
A while ago, I shared my goal of making the most of what I have (you know, instead of just buying new things). And while I did allow myself a little shopping spree a few weeks ago, for the most part, I’ve stuck to my goal.
And with all the working-from-home I’ve been doing in the wake of the hurricane, I actually had time to work on a few wardrobe updates that cost me less than a dollar. Read on for details.
First, I had a somewhat unfair advantage in beginning this project because I have access to the Martha Stewart Employee Tag Sale. Sorry I’m not sorry.
The point is, at the sale, I picked up a bunch of fabric remnants, ribbons, and other items for around $13. The materials I used for this project were less than a dollar total. WIN.
Without further ado, here’s my tutorial for creating a DIY Faux Fur Collar.
DIY No-Sew Faux Fur Collar
12×12-inch piece of faux fur
12×12-inch piece of backing fabric
1. I started by cutting the faux fur into a semi-circle shape. (Note: One thing I wish I would have done? Used a razor to cut the fur just along the backing material. I cut through the whole piece, fur included, which meant I spent a lot of this project vacuuming up stray pieces of faux hair.)
Also, the below image is when I first cut the fur. I tried the collar on a few times and kept trimming until I got it to a shape that fit my neck.
2. Using the trimmed piece of faux fur as a stencil, cut a piece of the backing fabric into the same shape but slightly smaller.
3. Using the fabric or craft glue, attach the backing fabric to the back of the faux fur.
4. Using books or other heavy objects, weight down the fabric until the glue dries.
5. To create the clasp, I used a small fabric-covered button and a gold lobster claw clasp. I sewed mine on (I know, the name of this tutorial is misleading), but if you really can’t sew a button (first, read this), then you can pin each part in place.
And you’re done!
Pretty cute, huh? And considering the whole project cost less than a dollar, it’s that much sweeter.
(Oh, hey there, bold red lip! Check back on the blog tomorrow for my tips on wearing red lipstick without looking like a clown.)(It has literally taken me over 25 years to figure this out.)
Note: I noticed I had a lot of fabric shedding from the sides of the faux fur piece after I cut it. Based on my Google searching, the only solutions I found for this were a) to be more careful when you first start cutting (d’oh) or to bond the sides with fabric/craft glue. I tried this, but it made the edges a little rough. Anyone know a better way around this?
The craftiness continues on the blog today!
Another project I was able to complete was painting a trio of wooden candle holders I picked up at a tag sale at work for about a dollar.
I loved the shape of the candle holders, but the dull color left a lot to be desired. As soon as I saw them on the table at the sale, I imagined them in a glossy white, grabbed a few cans of spray paint in another bin (all priced at a dollar each), and we were in business.
First, I wiped the holders down with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. I would have lightly sanded them, but I didn’t have any sandpaper on hand, and the point of the craft was that it was only costing me two dollars to create.
After wiping them down, I primed the holders with a white spray primer I had on hand.
Already, they looked loads better. After letting the primer dry for around 25 hours, I added a coat of glossy white spray paint. (Tip: Remember to always keep your arm moving when using spray paint to avoid drips or uneven coverage. As I heard one blogger say once, “If the can is spraying, your arm best be swaying.” Dorky, but true.)
I waited another day to give the holders another coat for good measure. Then, they were done!
Much better, right? Now I just need to get some tapered candles, and it will get all kinds of elegant up in here.
Anyone else getting crafty lately? There’s just something about this time of year that makes you want to make stuff over, amiright?
Side note: I know I keep saying this, but I feel incredibly fortunate that the greatest “misfortunes” we’ve had during the aftermath of the storm is a dent on one of our cars and boredom. It’s the epitome of #firstworldproblems. It’s sort of awkward to maintain a blog that focuses on mostly frivolous things when there are real problems out there. Then again, how self-centered is it to only acknowledge those “real problems” when they’re in my backyard? I guess what I’m saying is, I’m going to keep posting because, hey, maybe we all need a bit of frivolity right now. But I just want everyone to know I’m not sitting in a pile of craft supplies with my eyes closed.
Phewph. That got heavy.
In the name of lightening the mood, I give you a…narwhal-themed craft!
Narwhals have been the unofficial mascot of my blog since I wrote this entirely ridiculous post about them almost exactly two years ago. (OMG, NEW IDEA! Narwhal Day. October 27th on the blog from now until forever. Mark your calendars.)
After I wrote that post, I noticed a bizarre uptick in blog traffic until that post became the single most highly trafficked post on the entire site. This culminated in the post receiving an even weirder number of hits in a single day almost exactly a year ago. (I actually wrote this on Friday, so it was exactly the same day. Spooky.)(That was also the day the narwhal became the official blog mascot.)
The post doesn’t get as much traffic as it used to since I switched to a self-hosted platform (though if I log into the old blog on the WordPress-hosted platform, it’s STILL the only post that gets traffic…people love themselves some narwhals, folks). But the narwhal will always be near and dear to my heart regardless.
It became such a thing for me, that my sister even gave me a narwhal as part of my bridesmaid gift for being in her wedding. (A toy one…but can you imagine if she gave me a REAL narwhal???)
For a long time, he has sat contentedly on my book shelf, guarding my old dictionary and my copy of Jane Austen: The Complete Novels, but lately, I’ve been thinking he could use a bit of pizzazz.
And since I’ve been working from home all week, I’ve actually had time to not only do crafts, but also to take pictures of them in decent light.
I think you can probably guess where I’m going with this.
Without further ado, the easiest craft tutorial ever:
How to Spray Paint Plastic Animals Gold
Plastic narwhal (or, I guess, any other plastic animal you might have lying around…)
Gold spray paint
Cardboard or newspaper for a clean surface
1. Start with a clean narwhal on your painting surface. (I used an old piece of cork I had lying around.)
2. In a well-ventilated area, spray with primer. It’s a good idea to use a color lighter than the gold paint. (Note: I skipped the primer on the first go-around and ended up having to wipe off the bubbled gold paint and start over. DON’T SKIP THE PRIMER.) Follow the drying instructions on the primer. (In my case, a few hours was enough to wait.)
3. Also in a well-ventilated area, spray with gold spray paint. I did a couple of coats, and I had to spray the top and bottom separately, so all together it took about 4 spray sessions. (It’s like a really exaggerated spray tan for you animal.) Allow to dry completely (about 24 hours).
That’s it! How does he look, you ask? Check out this handsome little devil:
Pretty cute, huh? I’ve got a sizable crush on him.
I have a few other crafts I was able to get accomplished while being stuck inside after Sandy, so stay tuned all this week for more.
Thanks for reading one of my blog’s most popular posts! Don’t miss my other DIYs and how-tos here. Welcome to Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One!
Well. Spoke just an eense bit too soon.
After I wrote that post, I made my merry way to the nearby grocery store to pick up a few things. We’re not exactly out of food, but we needed a few staples: milk, chicken, eggs, veggies, etc.
The grocery store was open and with power, but apparently that had not always been the case. Every moderately refrigerated shelf had been cleared out. All the milk. All the meat. All the eggs. (There were veggies…one out of four ain’t bad?) It was a little spooky. (Especially if you’ve been watching as much Walking Dead as I have been lately.)
So I returned home largely empty-handed.
But dinner still had to be made. I found a few chicken sausages in the back of the freezer, I had veggies, but I wanted to add a bit more protein and fiber to stretch out what we had.
Then I remembered that I had two bags of freekeh that I’d gotten off the free table at work.
What is freekeh? According to the website, “Freekeh is a process which means “to rub”
in Arabic. Freekeh was created by accident nearly 2,000 years ago when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their crop of young green wheat was set ablaze. Most folks would sulk over their misfortune, but the crafty villagers rubbed off the chaff, cooked it up and ‘Eureka!’ Freekeh was created.”
Why should you eat it? Because it’s packed with more protein, vitamins, and minerals than other grains. It is low GI, low carb, high in fiber (up to four times the fiber of brown rice) and rich in prebiotic properties. According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, freekeh is excellent for managing diabetes and may diminish the risk of colorectal cancer and diverticulitis.
So…basically it’s really good for you.
PLUS, it’s pretty darn tasty. You pretty much prepare freekeh the same way you would make quinoa or other grains (boil the water/broth, add grain, simmer for 20-25 minutes), and use it the same way you would rice or pasta. Here’s what I made:
Freekeh-ing Good Stir-Fry
1 bag Freekeh (I used the Rosemary Sage flavor, but just about any would do)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1-2 T olive oil
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 large white onion, chopped
4 apple chicken sausage, cut into coins
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
Garlic salt, paprika, cumin, and salt to taste
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Cook freekeh according to package directions.
2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add bell peppers and onion. Saute for about 7-10 minutes. (Add more olive oil as necessary.)
3. Add chicken sausage and continue to cook for five more minutes.
4. Add fresh spinach and stir until it’s cooked down (about five minutes).
5. Spoon cooked freekeh into bowls. Add chicken-and-veggie mixture. Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan if desired.
Have you every cooked with freekeh? What did you think?
(And for the record, I am not getting paid to talk about freekeh. I was just pleasantly surprised with how good it was and wanted to share.)