Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March Photography: Classes and Challenges



Like I mentioned before, I have a new camera and have been itching to use it (better).  I have signed up for a photography course at my local community college and will posting my "homework" assignments over on new photography blog: A Camera and Iced Coffee (since you all know of my unbelievable love for iced coffee).

I also have signed on to do the photo a day challenge from Fat Mum Slim (although whenever I read her blog name I always say "Fat Muslim" in my head! 

Here is the assignment sheet in case you are interested:



Be sure to check out my other blog for the results! 

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Dyed Coffee Filter Wreath


Coffee filter wreaths have been circulating around Pinterest for a while now, but I didn't want a white wreath, a little too bridal for my taste.  So I thought I would mix it up (just in time for St. Patty's day and Easter) by dying mine minty green!



I found this pack of 700 coffee filters at Costco for less than $4 (and I only about 1/3 of the package for this project)  

Take approximately 300 filters and placed them in a bowl in order to soak them in water tinted with green food color


I also added about 1/2 a cup of vinegar to the water as a dye fixer

Let them soak until they are as dark as you like.
Also note: Because I didn't fluff them apart, the ones in the center of the stack were much lighter since the liquid didn't penetrate as well. I liked the different shades of green. If you want them all the exact same color, you need to make sure you separate the filters before dying them.

Drain the filters in a colander

Seperate them and allow them to dry. At this point many of the filters may stuck together in small stacks of 3-4. If you want them to dry faster you can take the time to peel them apart one by one, or let them dry a little and they will peel apart much more easily.  The less filters per stack, the faster they will dry.  
 



To form the wreath,  I picked up a piece of plumbing pipe insulation at home depot for $1.97 (much cheaper than buying a wreath form)


Just cut it to length and tape it into a circle.

  To make the ruffles, first fold the filters into quarters.

Twist the folded corner and fluff the little floret.

Using a hot glue gun add the filters to the wreath form.

Stuff them in pretty close together, to give you the fullest effect

Continue all the way around the wreath. 

If you have any extra filters at the end, you can go back and fill in any areas that may show a gap or that don't seem very full.

To hang the wreath I used a small segment of ribbon, attached with two straight pins. Add a drop hot glue to the pins so they don't pull out.

And there you have it! 

I love how it turned out, and I LOVE the fact it was only $4! 


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This post was shared on:  notjustahousewife homestoriesatoz  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Organizing My Sewing Studio & Fabric Stash

I am still working on my sewing room.  It is a big project.. 
no it is HUGE.

I have a lot of junk in that room that needs sorting, organizing and pruning.  The kids can barely walk in there:

Remember how I was going to paint that big IKEA Expedit system white and fill it with my stuff?  Well... that didn't work out.  After I lived with it for a while I hated the white.

So I still had the big.blank.wall. yearning for some color and a garage full of white MDF.
After hemming and hawing over the adjoining master bedroom color
 I settled on Bleeker Beige by Benjamin Moore:
 
I was originally going to paint the entire room, but really liked how painting only two walls accentuated the weird high ceilings and strange little interior window.

 I then decided to paint the entire Expedit system the same color and set it up in that open space:
 I spent 8 (YES EIGHT) hours folding all my fabric using this technique that I found on Pinterest. It was great to get my fabric out of the plastic bins and where I could see it.  I had forgotten about a lot of half finished projects that had been hidden away for years.
I really liked how the shelving unit receded into the wall and that the color fabric is what you focus on.  I am glad I didn't leave it white.
On top of the shelf I added a bunch of my antique sewing tchoskies.
And at the ceiling hangs my $1.05 chandelier.
 I am LOVING it.

Now that I have organized all my sewing stuff, the built ins on the other side of the room are much more open.  But they are screaming for a coat of paint. Now that I have seen how nice the other unit looks and how the actual items on the shelves are the focus and not the shelves themselves I am more convinced then ever that they need a paint job.
 And I thought folding that fabric was a lot of work!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate Coated Strawberries for $5


It is Valentine's Day, which means we are being inundated by advertisements with various ways of spending money to prove your love for your sweetheart.

Well.. that doesn't work on me.  Because I am cheap. SUPER CHEAP.  One hubs favorite V-day treats is chocolate dipped strawberries..
 ..but there is NO WAY I am shelling out $30 for a dozen chocolate dipped strawberries! No way.

Especially when they are super easy to make (seriously, less than 10 minutes) and cost about $5 for the exact same thing. You don't think you can get a dozen professionally looking chocolate dipped strawberries for $5?
 
I beg to differ. 
Plus, if you use my method, you have ZERO clean up.  YES. ZERO.

What do you need?
 
Strawberries (Fresh & Easy: $2)  
Baker's Dipping Chocolate (Target: $3.19) 
Zip-lock bags
Waxed Paper

This is what you get:
How do you do it?  

Wash and dry the berries. (I place them on a plate on a paper towel in a single layer.)  It helps to chill them in the fridge before dipping since the cold berry helps the chocolate stick and gives you a thicker layer.
 
Microwave the dipping chocolate (right in the container) until it is creamy, mixing every 30 seconds.  Dip the chilled berries into the chocolate (let the excess drip back into the container.) Once they are done dripping heavily, twirl them around before placing them on waxed paper to harden.

When you have dipped them all, put the remaining (still liquid) chocolate into a ziploc bag and cut a teenie-tiny triangle off the corner of the bag.  Drizzle the chocolate out of the hole and back and forth over the chocolate coated part of the berry.

When they have hardened (less than 5 minutes) remove the berries onto your plate (or whatever you will be presenting the berries on)

Throw away the waxed paper (after peeling off and eating the extra chocolate of course) as well as the zip-lock bag and chocolate container.  The only dirty dish you should be left with is the spoon you used to stir the melting chocolate.

Total cost: $5.19

 I made a dozen and probably had enough chocolate to do a few more.  These were really large berries.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Spring is here!

It has been an unseasonably warm and dry summer here in the Bay area this year, so the flowers are already staring to bloom and the trees are budding out.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to try out my new camera that I got as an (early) Valentine's day gift.


 I walked around the yard and found flowers I didn't know we had:



A bunch of the shrubs have already put out fruit:


I then walked over to the mall and took some shots of the wildlife:



  The mall was fun because there were a bunch of waterfalls which gave me a chance to mess around with my shutter speeds:

To catch the duck taking off I set my shutter to 1/200s

To show the water flow (over the same rocks as above) I lengthened the exposure to 1/20


Here is another example (Remember to increase the aperture to make up for loss of light with a shorter shutter speed):


I am slowly learning to use my camera, and it is amazing all the things you see when you looking through a viewfinder.  


  I know this blog is really more about my home improvement life, so I may start a new photo blog elsewhere, especially since I am considering a 365 project (a photo per day for a year) but for the time being, I thought I would throw a few photos on here. 

Bear with me.
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Pinterest Recipe Round Up

I have been using Pinterest a lot lately in order to pick recipes. I posted a few of them here, here and here.  But that is only the tip of iceberg. I thought today I would post a few more that I have tried along with my opinion of them.

These are actual pictures of the recipes that *I* made. The links will take you to my pinterest pins and from there you can find the entire recipe. 
Super Easy Cinnamon Rolls: And they really ARE super easy.  This is my favorite food pin on Pinterest thus far. 

Girl Scout Samoa Bars: A great alternative to the Samoa cookies I made previously (pre Pinterest)

Buttermilk Carmel Sauce: This was really good, and it made a TON. I was able to fill my old maple syrup jar with it.  One thing that wasn't noted in the recipe, but that happened to mine, was that it tended to solidify when I stored it in the fridge.  I have to microwave it to pour it but the flavor is great

Nantucket Cranberry Pie: Originally from the Pioneer Woman. The recipe called for fresh cranberries and I used frozen.  They floated to the top of the "pie" and it wasn't nearly as pretty as Ree's, but it tasted good. 

Honey Whole Wheat Bread: This was a great recipe.  Mixed it in the bread machine and baked it in the oven (the photo is only the dough. It baked up to a nice golden brown) I liked that it had really common ingredients that I always have lying around.

Buttermilk Pie:  This is from Paula Deen and so you know it must be fabulous.  I actually decreased the sugar to 1 cup and it was plenty sweet.  A great way to use up buttermilk

Apple Cranberry Pie with Streusel Crust:  This was good.  Too tart for the kids, but a nice alternative to  apple pie. I was able to use up leftover cranberry sauce which was a plus

Hasselback Potatoes: These were only okay.  The edges were crisp while the centers were flavorless and mushy.  The kids liked them, but I wasn't a fan.

Icing worthy sugar cookies:  These were highly rated and so I gave them a shot. They weren't super sweet which made them perfect for icing.  Overall they were good, I would make them again.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcake Cake: I made this for E's birthday party.  Not really a recipe, but it was Pinterest inspired.  

They went along with these cupcakes that were baked directly in ice cream cones (just make cupcakes in muffin tins without wrappers and stick a cone upside down in the batter):

Overall, I would say about 80% of the recipes I have tried thus far have been at least okay.  I have only had a few total failures, which is better than my track record for google.

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