valentine’s day – stamped conversation heart cookies

Happy Valentine’s day everyone!

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This year I decided to make Valentine’s for T to take to work for his coworkers to enjoy. And of course, I decided this yesterday afternoon. Without much of a plan, I ran out to Hobby Lobby with a friend and did some in-store brainstorming. I found a heart cookie cutter which inspired an iPhone google search that turned up this blog post on stamped conversation heart cookies. Perfect! So I also grabbed a set of upper-case letter stamps, a gourmet food pen (which turned out to be THE BEST addition to the cookie recipe), clear treat bags, and some chevron scrapbook paper. I still can’t pass up chevron’s.

Here’s a little step-by-step of how they were done. If you want the actual recipe, go to Lauren’s blog.

Step one – Mix up the dough. This dough has more flour than regular sugar cookies so the letters will hold their shape better.

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Step two – Roll out the dough & cut out the hearts. Place cookies onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

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Step three – Stamp your words into the cookies. I just used “XOXO” and “Be Mine” for these, but I wish I’d also stamped some with “That’s What She Said”. I would err on the side of pushing the stamps in too much rather than too little, since the cookies will rise a bit when they cook.

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Step four – Put the sheets of cookies into the freezer for 10 minutes, then pop them straight into your preheated oven. Cook them however long they need (my thicker ones took almost twice the time as the thinner ones) and then let them cool. You’ll notice the letters probably aren’t as noticeable as you’d like, but should still be there. We’ll fix this once they’ve cooled off.

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Step five – Grab your gourmet food pen – which is basically a marker with food coloring instead of ink – and fill in the indented letters.

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Step six – Cut your scrapbook paper down to smaller rectangles. I started from a 12″ x 12″ sheet and cut it into 6″ x 3″ strips. Score the paper down the middle and fold (when folded it should be 6″ x 1.5″). Place one cookie into a clear treat bag, then fold/roll the top of the bag down until it almost reaches the cookie. Place the folded strip of paper over it and staple into place. Then voila. Valentine treat bags with stamped conversation heart sugar cookies.

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new crafting obsession

It’s winter time, which for the past few years means it’s knitting time. Something about the cold dreary outdoors makes me pick up my knitting needles and go to town. The thing that makes this winter different than the rest is that I didn’t stop at 1 or 2 scarves. No, I got downright obsessed and have made over 10 so far. I made one cowl / infinity scarf out of soft pink alpaca yarn and I was hooked. Since then I’ve been buying all different kinds of yarn and trying out different sizes of needles to get a little variety.

And now these scarves are on my Etsy store – where you can get free shipping for any items until Valentines day with the coupon code VDAYFREESHIP.

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What has your crafting obsession been lately? Or any new winter hobbies?

painting a piano

I’ve wanted a piano for years. I grew up with a gorgeous baby grand but ever since leaving for college, I haven’t had one to play. A couple months ago I got the urge to play that just wouldn’t go away. So I did what anyone looking for a piano would do : I went to a local music store, played several used uprights, and fell in love with one. Except even at the good price of $450, I just couldn’t do it.

Craigslist is really bare here in a small town but I thought I’d at least give that a shot. If I couldn’t find anything there, then maybe I could find a way to set aside the money for the one I liked, knowing it was my best option. But believe it or not, a listing came up for a house full of furniture for sale – including an upright piano. I couldn’t tell how it looked from the dark picture so T and I went to take a look and took it home for just $25, including the bench. After a good tuning a getting a couple keys fixed, it’s totally playable and perfect for what I wanted.

Except I wasn’t in love with it’s appearance.

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It’s not BAD but it’s not my style. It’s way too dark for the room, had scratches and areas where the stain has worn off unevenly. The bench didn’t match. Parts of it are wood (with a dark cherry stain) but the majority of the surface is this weird cardboard wallpaper material with a basket weave texture on it. Staining the piano was out of the question, so I researched all over the web to find more information about painting a piano.

Some people take it all apart and even remove every key before painting it. I don’t know enough about pianos to know how to do this correctly, much less put it back together. I ended up only taking the music stand off and then taping up the insides (beneath the “lid” of the piano), taping off the keys, and taping off the pedals with plastic grocery bags and frog tape. I taped it all off before sanding to keep the piano free of sawdust.

A lot of people also take their piano out into a garage or workspace and spray paint it. You’ll get a smoother and more even finish that way, but I didn’t do that because it’s hard to move the piano, it’s cold outdoors and I didn’t want to mess with the tuning too much with sudden humidity and temperature changes, and that texture over most of the piano would be very difficult to cover with a spray. We just pulled the piano out from the wall and put a plastic tarp underneath.

Once it was all taped off, I began sanding all the wooden parts down enough to rough up the surface.

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Then I put 2-3 coats of primer on it. There were a few areas where the reddish stain would bleed through, so those are the areas with 3 coats of primer.

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When I got to the painting phase, I was still pretty indecisive about color. Yellow would be perfect with the colors in the room, and yellow is my favorite color, so I went for it. But after a coat of paint I realized just how bright it was. And how much attention it would grab. The piano is a shorter upright (technically a spinet) and somehow the combination of it’s shape and the basket weave texture made it feel too mid-century for the room with the yellow.

Instead of being patient and waiting for the next day so I could buy more paint, I realized there was still over half a gallon of turquoise blue paint from the accent wall on the other side of the living room. My 2nd choice of color for the piano would be a turquoise but I was worried about clashing with the accent wall. Since I had the exact same paint already, I went for it.

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The crazy thing about paint is how it can look SO different depending on what you’re painting and how much surface is covered. The piano looks noticeably lighter than the wall but it still looks good across the room from it.

I was pretty scared to take on such a big project but I’m really glad I went for it. I’m loving this turquoise piano even more than I did the day I brought it home.

Here’s the before & after, side by side.

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Anyone feel like painting their piano now? I’d LOVE to see pictures.

pillows

We bought our couch from Craigslist 4 years ago when we first moved to Kansas City. It was only $200, in excellent condition, and came with 4 pillows (oh how I miss Craigslist in a city). The pillows had seen much better days after our dogs got a hold of them when they were little. They weren’t ruined but looking pretty rough… That’s where an impulse Hobby Lobby fabric buy and my sewing machine come in.

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I was really surprised by how quickly this project went by. And I love the results – how can anyone go wrong with chevron? That exact color blue matches our blue accent wall in the living room perfectly.

home-made screen printing

I finally got around to doing this DIY project, and I really love it. No, I wasn’t the clever individual to come up with such a fabulous way to do your own screen printing – this is where I thank Pinterest again. One day I saw this pinned and couldn’t wait to give it a shot.

You can get all the directions you need from her blog, but why not offer up a little tutorial of my own?

Step 1 : Get an embroidery hoop & some panty hose. (Embroidery hoop = $1 from Hobby Lobby. Panty hose = 3 pairs of knee highs for $1 at Dollar General.)

Step 2 : Stretch the panty hose across the hoop and secure. Then cut the excess. You’ll want this to be tight!

Step 3 : Print your design, cut it out, and trace it onto your screen with a sharpie. Also this is about the time where you want to stop and think about this – if you have any words in your design, you’ll need to make sure they’re backward to print forward. Trust me, don’t go any farther until you’ve made sure you’ve got it right.

Step 4 : Start painting everything you want to be left untouched on your final product with mod podge. The mod podge keeps the paint from going through, so whatever you paint on the screen will be bare on the final project.

Step 5 : Let it dry. The mod podge will turn clear and harden before it’s ready to use.

Step 6 : Put your screen face down on your material (t shirt, bag, whatever) and squeeze your fabric paint out inside your screen. Cut out a rectangular piece of cardboard and trim the top 2 corners off. Use this piece of cardboard to spread the paint and push it through your screen. You will definitely want to test this out on a practice piece first to get the hang of how much paint to use, how much to spread it and how much pressure to use.

Step 7 : Carefully pull your screen straight away from the material. And voila. Your finished project.

Step 8 : Let it dry for 24 hours then iron to set the paint.

Last night I stayed up ’till 1am working on some of these.

Yes, it’s taking over my office / studio. Thankfully I just set T up with an office space of his own so we don’t have to share any longer. I’m excited this project has turned out so far and these bags have become an addition to my Holiday Marketplace inventory. We’ll see how mass production goes before I add them to my Etsy store

summer’s over + a little bit of everything.

Today it’s only 60 degrees! And it’s raining. That’s a far cry from the sunny 110+ weather we’ve had here in OK recently. I believe summer is over and fall is officially here, or at least near…

Homemade caramel apples are a fall must – so easy to make and so delicious.

Poor Eber, he loves a brisk fall morning to run and play like a mad dog, but he’s nursing an injured paw. Paws unfortunately take a long time to heal.

With a new season comes the urge to reorganize & redecorate. Even in our last house, my desk has always been facing a window. The other day I had just had enough and needed a change.

And of course, this blank wall has to be decorated.

I know, I know, those cork boards look dumb all clean and unused. But I have been far too busy to tack anything up there since I put this up. Side note : you know you’ve been on the internet too much when you describe your cork boards to your husband as “pinterest boards, but real”.

Want to see a super quick before & after?

I thought so.

Before: A pair of matching frames with water damaged prints from the thrift store.

After: Matching cork boards with weathered white frames.

Bam. That’s my kind of DIY project.

I have some exciting projects in the works – both design related and for my Etsy store. There’s also a craft fair coming up in November that I will have a booth in. Here’s a couple teasers.

reupholstered footstool

I’ve been looking for a footstool or ottoman for my office. Mainly to set my tiny printer on so it won’t have to sit on the floor, but I also want the option to kick my feet up if I’m sitting on the futon. I found the perfect ottoman at a flea market that I was eyeing for weeks. I knew I loved it but couldn’t think of a use for it. When it suddenly hit me that it would be perfect for the office I went to buy it and it was gone. Lesson learned — you have to commit when it’s a flea market or thrift store find. You can never count on it being there later.

Fast forward a few more weeks and I was at the thrift store with a friend when I saw this.

It was super sturdy and a good price. All it needed was some reupholstering. Deal. I wasn’t going to let this one slip past me, too.

I still had some fabric left from the mod podge trays so I crossed my fingers it would be enough for the footstool. Amazingly, I had JUST enough. 1/8th of an inch less and it wouldn’t have worked.

Reupholstering a footstool is easy and surprisingly fast. Besides the footstool and fabric you’ll need a staple gun with staples and a hammer. That’s it.

Step 1: Turn the footstool upside down and onto the unprinted side of the fabric.

Step 2: Starting on one of the long sides, pull the fabric up to the bottom of the stool and staple. If your arms are like mine and not quite strong enough to get the staple in all the way, use a hammer to finish securing each one. Keeping the fabric tight, repeat this on the other long side.

Step 3: Starting at a corner of one of the short sides, fold and pull the fabric up like you’re wrapping a present. I had to do 2 small folds to get this to stay tight enough and not bulge at the corner. Staple in place. Repeat on the other corner of this side. NOTE: At this point you may need to remove the legs (these just twisted off) so they won’t be in your way.

Step 4: Once the corners of the short side are done, pull the fabric between the corners tight and staple in place. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the other short side.

Step 5: Trim any excess fabric, put the legs back on if you took them off, and set the footstool upright. Voila.

You’re done! I can’t get enough of dramatic before & afters, especially when they don’t take a lot of time.

As much as I love how this looks, I’m still considering refinishing the legs a darker stain color. What do you think?

cloth mod podged trays

What do you do when you find 2 plain minty-green cafeteria trays for almost nothing at the thrift store?

Buy them! And then hope you can come up with a good makeover.

Luckily for me, we have a Hobby Lobby in our tiny town. When I saw this fabric, I knew it would be perfect for the trays.

I’ve personally never used Mod Podge before but I’ve seen SO many projects that have used it. It was so easy to work with — I just put down a layer on top of the trays and pressed the fabric down onto it. Then turned the trays over and did the same on the back so it would wrap around the edges.

Here’s the final product!

Posted in diy

grill makeover

When we bought our house, we had a few “extras” lying around from the previous owners. One of those extras was this charcoal grill.



I know it’s not much to look at, but from the eyes of 2 poor newlyweds, this was amazing. This meant we didn’t have to drop money we didn’t have for a grill of our own to use in our new backyard.

Fast forward a few years to our move and this sucker almost didn’t make it onto the truck. I was in the whirlwind of moving without T and in the “everything must go!” kick. I was selling, donating, and throwing out whatever wasn’t 100% satisfactory. But just before I gave the grill up, I realized it had potential. It worked fine but it was ugly, and that’s something I can fix.

All this took was some high heat spray enamel, stain, and polyurethane. Thankfully we had all of that leftover from other projects, minus the clear coat.

One more look at the before.

And now the after.

Not too shabby. The best part is whenever I’m at Lowe’s I stop by the grills and look at how much they cost so I can feel good about my refurbished free grill. And then I can justify spending that amount of $$ on something else, like earrings…

Posted in diy

diy sunburst mirror

The DIYing continues. I’d had such a long break from projects while staying busy with work, the move, and all our transition, now it’s like I’m making up for lost time.

Lowe’s has started selling adorable paint sample jars in a line of summery colors and I decided to pick up the orange one for this project that my friend Michaela and I were going to work on. Unfortunately instead of looking cute and retro, the orange made this mirror look 80’s and southwestern. Not a good combo.

Here’s how it looked mostly orange (I bailed on painting all of the sticks when I realized it was not going to work).

Then I discovered my new love of spray paint. And not just any spray paint. Metallic.

It looks so much classier in this metallic caramel latte color, don’t you think?

I’m already working on 2 other DIY projects which I desperately need to finish before I begin any more. One of them involves high heat spray enamel, stain, and polyurethane. Any guesses?