Sunday, January 27, 2013

DIY Cafe Mocha

Today I bring to you a different kind of DIY! Homemade coffee drinks like the ones you pay $5 for at Starbucks! We have really been watching our cash flow lately, so Starbucks has been out of the question. I feel like the coffee world is making progress by offering lattes etc. at places like McDonalds for cheaper, but they are full of calories! I still had to go to Starbucks to get my "skinny" versions of coffee. Well not anymore! T.J. and I had another couple over last night and they are so very sweet, they brought us an espresso maker. Better yet, they showed us how to use it!

I am still experimenting, but our friend Scott gave me a good idea for a first recipe to try. This is what I made this morning:

Espresso (filled up to the 2 line)
1 1/2 tbs. cocoa
1 tbs. organic cane sugar
A few drops of vanilla
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk, steamed

I made sure to mix the cocoa and sugar right into the espresso when it came out piping hot so it would dissolve, then I added the vanilla and poured it all into my steamed milk. Pretty darn good I must say! I will continue to tweak and experiment and let you all know how it goes. In the meantime I plan to conquer quite the to-do list today with this extra kick of energy. :-)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nesting Tables

I purchased a set of 3 nesting tables at my Goodwill about a year ago. They have alternatively been sitting in the garage or being used for impromptu tables in the mancave ever since. When I put out the Christmas decorations this year I had to move some things around, so the littlest one got pulled out and used as a plant stand. I loved how it looked! The tables are cute and have really nice lines. I especially love that the smallest one is square (the larger ones that fit on top of it are rectangle). I paid less than $10 for the set of 3.

The table was originally a dark wood color, which I liked, but didn't fit in very well in the light and airy white living room. Now that it is white I like it even better. I was able to spray paint during the winter - which is a rarity and a real treat - a couple weekends ago when it was unseasonably warm. I also worked in an outdoor run with my man (read about it here on his running blog).

The wavy edges on top compliment the wavy bottom of the hutch. 

The fate of the other 2 is unknown, but when I bought them I imagined they would be really cute painted three different bright colors. When time and space allow, we will see!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Cadillac of Dog Bowls

Today I took my grocery shopping to the other side of the river to Target. Target is the best place to buy groceries because there is a ton of other things to look at. Most efficient? No. Most inexpensive? No. But definitely the most fun.

I had been curious about the Neiman Marcus at Target collection since seeing the commercials on TV. When I got there to check it out in December I was shocked. $140 for a blazer? No one at Target is going to pay that. I'm not sure if anyone ever did, but I do know that they had a ton of the items left after Christmas. The day after Christmas my mom and I went to Target to stock up on ornaments and lights for next year. That day the Neiman Marcus collection was 50% off. I thought it would be worth another look at that price. I fell in love with these Oscar de la Renta dog bowls but could not bear the $30 price tag it would cost me to buy two (originally $60!). Maybe if I needed them, but I had a perfectly good and cute set at home. But today, when the big 70% off clearance sign was above the shelf they were sitting on I could not hold out any longer.

I imagine I will have these dog bowls forever! They are gorgeous. Worth every penny of the $18 I ended up spending on them. They are even dishwasher safe. And now when I walk into my kitchen I will look down at them and know that my fancy dogs are eating and drinking from Oscar de la Renta bowls. They have such a cush life! I wonder if she thinks her food tastes better out of such a luxury dish. :-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sewing Room Updates

My sewing room does double duty as my office. I am unbelievably thankful to have a job that allows me to work from home sometimes, so I really need a clutter free space to work and think when I need to. After Christmas gift making chaos, my sewing room was badly in need of some organization. So I took the opportunity to rearrange the furniture and start fresh. The room was just too full - so I swapped out my old sewing desk for a smaller vintage sewing table (with the original sewing machine removed from the inside), which created more space.

I have plans to paint the sewing table white or gray, 
but for now I am happy with the chevron fabric cover.  
I also switched out the knobs in front for two clear ones I found at Homegoods.

P.S. This is my 200th post! Can you believe it?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chevron Napkins

I recently added these to my Etsy store and thought they were just too pretty not to share! 
If you are interested, I have a tutorial for making dinner napkins here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Luggage Organizers

My final Christmas gift post may be the best one... luggage organizers!

This is a great gift because it is useful and was inspired by a real life need. When I traveled to Orlando this fall for work I had very specific outfits picked out because it was a short trip and I had to look very put together. I wanted to keep my top, bottom, tights, shoes, and jewelry all together. Unfortunately, I did not have a good way to do it - so I used grocery bags. Super classy right?

So the idea for better luggage organization was born. I didn't have time to make them before my trip but I vowed to make something afterward. Since it was before Christmas I thought - who else is "crazy" enough to want to organize their lives to this extent? (Note: I use the word crazy with caution here - I admit that I am crazy, but I would never claim anyone else is crazy!) I remembered that my sister in-law often packs my nephews with outfits all folded together ready to go, so I thought maybe she could use some too. I ended up making her some for herself and for the boys. I think they will come in handy. I even had a couple requests for more from other family members when she opened them.

I used mine over Christmas break and they worked great. I might make a few that are even bigger next time. I used a serger to sew them together, but you could easily use a sewing machine. Depending on how big you want to make them, you just cut out one long strip of fabric with one end cut into a triangle - then fold up the bottom to about 2 inches below the start of the triangle and sew up the sides. This will create an envelope of sorts. I chose to add velcro for extra security, but I think they would be fine without it.

My measurements were: 21 inches tall from bottom to top of the triangle, 15 inches wide. The sides before the triangle cut were 16 inches tall, then I cut at an angle 9 inches - I realize this is confusing, so check out my equally confusing picture below. Really - just wing it, it will work out.

Are you crazy organized enough to use something like this?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Running Skirt

I have recently taken up running. One thing that I did not know about running before I started was that there is a whole lot of to-do about races. Including... costumes! Which is something I can get into, especially if I can make my own! (Costumes might be my husband's least favorite part about running... have you seen his running blog yet? It is pretty darn good.)
I made my first running costume for a race I felt pretty safe wearing a costume in... a Halloween 5k. Since then I have worn a few more. Most recently my sister and I wore running skirts in a New Year's Day Resolution Run in Nashville, TN. I was presented with the challenge of making us some sparkly, new year's inspired skirts. My sister found the fabric at Joann's - they have it in tons of colors and it is pretty cheap. I had come across a website that sells running skirts, Team Sparkle, which seem to be pretty popular and work well for running. I decided to follow their lead and make a similar skirt.

I ended up making two different sizes because my sister is teeny, but the pattern was pretty easy to come up with. I cut the elastic to fit my waist, then added 4 inches for the yoke. I sewed that onto the elastic, then cut out the ruffly part. I ended up using the length of the fabric I cut - 55 inches, and gathered it to fit. I sewed the gathered part to the outside of the yoke - something I was nervous about doing because the raw edge would show - but I love the way it turned out. Like a bonus ruffle!

Overall, the race was a huge success, my husband took 3rd, my sister and brother in-law both took 2nd in their age groups. Me? Well, I looked pretty darn cute in my running skirt and that is good enough for me!

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Resolutions

This year I am going to wear everything in my closet at least once. I have often thought of doing this challenge and I am finally ready to take it on - and to see what kind of crazy outfits I have to come up with at the end.

It took me a little while to figure out the logistics of this task. My first thought was just to rotate my clothes to the back as I wear them - but my closet is organized by color. So to avoid wearing black for a month straight, I came up with a different plan.

I decided to tag each hanger and once the item has been worn, the tag comes off. Each day I have to pick at least 1 tagged item to wear. I am only tagging the hanging things in my closet because I am sure I will wear all my pants etc. over the next 365 days. The total count is 130 items. Assuming I wear them one at a time, this will take me until May - just in time for summer clothes. My summer wardrobe is not currently hanging (I switch it out with my winter stuff each fall) so I will have to retag all of that when it comes out. I am looking forward to seeing how everything fits and hopefully donating the items I do not like or fit poorly. One more step toward clutter free living!

Other resolutions:
2. Eat less salt.
3. Lose 10 pounds.
4. Run an 8k.
5. Take better care of myself.

Maybe next year I will tackle the challenge of wearing all of my shoes over the next year. Watch out 2014. 
Wish me luck? What did you resolve to do this year?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Quick and Easy Gift: Sachets

Every Christmas I make a gift that is easy enough to give to everyone on my list. Last year I made business/loyalty card holders. One thing I really love about fabric is that there are a million patterns/textures/colors to choose from. This way I can make everyone the exact same thing, but each is still unique because I picked the fabric just for them.

This year the gift was sachets. I love these little things. I got my first one nearly a decade ago and I still have it. It barely smells anymore, but it is beautiful! I went with an easy 4x4 square of fabric. Sew three sides completely and leave an inch and a half opening in the fourth side. To spice things up I occasionally added lace or ribbon to one side.

I found the filling at Michael's and Hobby Lobby. I picked out a couple "clean" smells like ocean breeze and cotton, but added in pomegranate too for extra fun. :-)

While I hate to say how cheap my Christmas gifts were, these were pretty cheap. Most of the fabric I already owned, I just matched it to the person. The filling for all the sachets totaled less than $15 (and I made about 40). That makes them about 38 cents each and less than $2 per person (for 4 sachets). If I had it to do over again I would have filled them more by adding more filling, but to be honest I don't think it would have affected the scent, just the look. They turned out like flat (but pretty) pillows.

I wrapped them in sets of 3 or 4 for each person. 
It is a gift that keeps on giving all year (or as long as they stay scented!)

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