Gumdrop Wreath


I first made a gumdrop wreath in college.  It was an idea from a Martha Stewart magazine of course.

It was actually quite fun to do with my kids.  Bridget is 4-1/2 and was able to really help.

We used small cutters to cut the toothpicks in half (it would be quite difficult to break in half as suggested by MS.)

It is important that you use the round larger toothpicks because the small flat kind are not strong enough to hold on the gumdrops, which are a heavy candy.

It is also important that the point end of the toothpick go into the wreath.  If you use the end that you cut, it does not grip the styrofoam.

We are celebrating advent this year by using both the traditional advent wreath with five candles and a Jesse tree.  Each night we light our candles and remember what each one represents and then we hang our ornament on our Jesse Tree (or in our case faux white branches from C&B.)  The children get to eat a chocolate gold coin while we read the corresponding scripture for each ornament to remind us that God’s word is sweet and worth more than gold (and to get them to sit still.)  I am excited because even though they are young (two and four) they completely understand that we are getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus and that he came to bring light in the darkness.

While we still have fun with the spirit of Santa, Paddy is expecting a baby Jesus to show up Christmas morning.  Speaking of Paddy, he took me by surprise and completely potty trained himself recently.  He also had his first haircut. The  picture below  will explain why I finally had to do it. . .

mason jar snow globes


Sometimes you see things and think “I could make that.”  And sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.  Sometimes it ends up being difficult and more expensive than anticipated- that does not mean it wasn’t worth it, but saving money is not always the goal when you make things.

I saw these snow globes at anthropologie and loved them, and then I saw the price.  I thought “I could make that”  and I did and it cost me about $1 per globe.  I found the trees at Wal-Mart and I already had jars and glitter.

 

it may not be cheaper to make your own cushions. . .


I made a bench cushion for my 81″ long bench in my kitchen.  Cushions always seem to be expensive, so I made my own.  The foam alone was well over $100 and that was with a 40% coupon.  The foam is a petroleum based product which accounts for some of the cost, but foam is just expensive.  Then I purchased 3 yards of sunbrella fabric so that it would be easier to clean.  I spent about $200 on just the materials, and I still had to make it!

I used an envelope method (where it overlaps in the back)  that my sewing teacher taught me in Oak Park.  It is easier and quicker than a zipper pillow. My first cushion I made was for my outdoor bench:

 

I made the cover too big and had to buy another piece of foam to put in it so that it would fit.  Fortunately, I had purchased 2″ foam, so that the final product was a nice comfy 4″ cushion.  for my Kitchen bench I purchased 4″ foam to start with, so I had to measure very carefully to make sure it was the correct width and length.  I did have to rip out one seam, but overall it went much smoother this time around.

My bench seat is 19″ deep, and the fabric had enough width to it that I could simply finish both ends, and there would be enough to wrap around the width of my cushion and leave a nice overlap in the back.  I then added 4″ to the 19″ to account for the height of the foam and folded the fabric so that it would have the appropriate width after it overlaped.  I then sewed up one end and boxed the corners. This is a good link from Craft Apple on how to box corners.  It is the final end that you sew that is so tricky.  I had to double check my cushion length and again add the 4″ to account for the height of the foam.   I sewed the seam and boxed the corners again, and viola, a very expensive homemade cushion!

This is the underside so you can see the seams, boxed corners and how the envelope opens in the back.


Just some random cuteness.  I found my children sitting together on the same chair (not using the 6 foot long cushion I just made!)

also, anyone remember Shirt Tales?

 

my “new” sewing chair


I finished my upholstery class at modhomeec and my teacher featured me on her blog!!  So here is my finished chair


Taking the class has inspired me to look for some vintage chairs to re-upholster to complete my sitting area.  I did find a computer cabinet on craigslist to use as my sewing cabinet


I got the idea from Heather Ross in her book Weekend Sewing to use a computer cabinet for sewing:

We have been loving this Indian Summer we have been having.  Yesterday Bridget and her friend from next door played “ninja” with shields and swords. . .

fall yumminess


I am loving this beautiful fall we are having, and I am finding myself making the two below recipes multiple times each week.

The Chai recipe comes from a dear friend from Oak Park and I love how my kitchen smells when I make it.

Chai recipe

Concentrate
4-5 cinnamon sticks (each 3″), broken
1 vanilla bean, split in half or 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole nutmeg, coarsely chopped
6-8 cardamom pods (1 teaspoon whole seeds may be used)
3 whole star anise, roughly broken
2-4 tablespoons finely shredded ginger (I use 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
3 black peppercorns, bruised
3 whole cloves
pinch of sea salt
6 cups filtered water

place all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil

reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes. strain through a fine strainer or sieve. If there is a lot of sediment try straining through a strainer or sieve lined with cheesecloth.  The brew may be simmered longer to reduce volume and concentrate flavor.

Note: the spices may be used again for a second batch, reducing the water by half

Makes 1 quart

Chai Tea

2 cups chai spice concentrate
2 tea bags (green, white or black tea)
2 Tablespoons honey
2 cups milk of your choice

In a saucepan, bring the chai spice concentrate to a boil and turn off heat.  Steep the tea bags in the concentrate for 3-5 minutes.

Remove tea bags and squeeze out any liquid into the tea. Stir in honey to taste, add milk.  Warm over medium-low heat until piping hot.

caramel sauce

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream

in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/3  cup water over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.

Using a pastry brush, coat the walls of the saucepan with water to melt any sugar on the sides.  Increase the heat to high and cook, undisturbed, until amber-colored, about 5 minutes.  (I let it cook longer until it is more burnt, for more of a burnt caramel taste).

wearing oven mitts, slowly stir in 2 tbsp cream, 1 at a time. Using a wooden spoon, stir the remaining cream into the caramel.  Cook, stirring over low heat until combined, about 3 minutes.

This recipe goes great with freshly picked apples.  Apple picking is on of my favorite fall family traditions.  Our orchard of choice is Stuckey’s (which is where my parents took me when I was a child).  We also plan on checking out Tuttle’s this year after I run the Indianapolis mini marathon at Fort Ben in two weeks. . .

a lost month


Time has a way of always moving forward even when your life seems to stand still.  August came with many changes for my family.  Some happy and others incredibly painful.  It is hard to believe how much can change in just one month.

As we prepare to say goodbye to August and unofficially  start fall, I want to remember that we did make it to a beach this year, even if the water wasn’t salty.  It never feels like you had summer if you don’t spend some time at a beach.

 

Both of my children are now in preschool.  Bridget goes three days a week for pre-k and Paddy goes one day a week to mother’s-day-out.

Today was the first day they both went to school for a full day.

I felt both elation at having a day to myself for the first time in 4-1/2 years and also that pang in your heart knowing that your babies are no longer babies.

I am using the first six Wednesdays that they are both in school to take a beginning class in upholstery at ModHomeEc.

This is the chair I am going to paint and recover.

This is how the chair looked after our first class. The first step is to remove the existing upholstery and I sanded the chair down so I can paint it.

So as something ends, something also begins.

and now the after!


Our kitchen remodel took an amazing 38 days from start to finish (that includes weekends!)  This is pretty amazing considering some of the stories I have heard about it taking months and months and because it was a complete gut!

The finished product

This was our first major home renovation project and I learned a lot going through the process.  It was challenging enough to make all of the decisions about one room, I don’t think I could ever build a custom home, because I would not be able to make the decisions about design, lighting, floring, etc. for an entire home.

I wanted a slate floor, but my contractor convinced me this porcelain tile that looked like slate was more durable and easier to care for.  I also wanted Carrara marble and was told it was too difficult to care for with small children, so we went with a white and gray granite (cashmere white.)

We chose white shaker style cabinets.  The one thing I changed my mind on after the installation, was the flat front drawers – I think it is too plain, so we reordered shaker style drawer fronts that will be installed in a few weeks along with the cup pull hardware (which is why the drawers are missing their hardware in the photo.)

I love my white cast iron enamel Kohler apron front “farm sink.”

My contractor also suggested doing the window ledges in granite and I love it!

We choose a simple white subway tile backsplash with a dove gray grout.  I LOVE my new 6 burner 36″  pro- range.  Notice it even has a window with a light!  After cooking on a  cheap electric range for a year, I am so happy to have gas again!

The window seat is already a favorite!  We are planning on having a table made to fit in the eat in space, using the bench as part of the seating.  I wanted a TV in the kitchen, so Patrick bought the biggest one possible for the space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wine cabinet sits where a big butcher block and our trash cans were.  Our trash cans are now hidden in the island –  another favorite feature!

Our fridge and microwave are where the old built-in used to be.  We were also able to gain about 16″ of space by moving the wall back, which really made the kitchen feel bigger.  The cabinet on the left is a pantry with pull-outs and under microwave is a little catch-all space.  The DVD and cable box are hidden in the cabinet above the microwave.

The view from when you enter from the mud-room.  I love the school-house pendants we got from Rejuvenation. They are period appropriate to when the house was built in the 30’s.  We painted the walls a light gray called Icicle from Sherwin-Williams.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures, but better yet please come visit it in person!

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