Monday, June 20, 2011

Painted Flower Pots

I have what some people refer to as a "black thumb". I absolutely, positively, kill any plant I come in contact with. Last summer I received a gorgeous plant for my birthday and proudly kept it alive for approximately 8 months before it withered into non-existence. This "black thumb" is especially problematic because I would genuinely like to grow some plants. I love flowers, and would adore some fresh grown herbs to cook with (especially since I received a ton of seed packets while I was volunteering a few months back). On my wish list is Dill weed (my favorite to cook with), Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Basil, and Oregano. I also wouldn't turn up my nose to some Lavender and maybe even an Aloe Vera plant! Anyways, after MUCH deliberation, I have decided that the best way to begin this endeavor would be to play to my strengths. So, I'm starting with the flower pots (or herb pots as the case may be). I've always had a things for trees with no leaves. I love the way the branches remind me of lace. So, therein lies my project. Flower pots with trees painted on them! I began by purchasing 4 (to start with) pots at Michaels for 2 dollar apiece. And luckily I already had some white spray paint lying around from a current project I'm working on--spray-painting 2 adirondack chairs that I recently bought on ebay (you'll get to see that project on here soon, as well). So all I really needed to do was make a quick trip to Home Depot to pick up some bronze metallic spray paint for the base and the rim of the pot and a little espresso colored regular paint to use to paint a simple tree design on the main part of the pot . Here is the end result, from the original pot, to the spray-painted pot, to the final product! The tree isn't the most spectacular painting in existence, (obviously) but I'm quite proud of the overall look! Now, I just need to get my butt in gear and grow some stuff!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wine Cork Pendant!

I've been wanting to do some projects using wine corks for quite some time, and finally I've found my inspiration! I have some friends who work at wineries in Walla Walla, Washington and after not too much convincing (No convincing needed at all, really. I have fantastic friends! Be jealous.) they agreed to help me get my hands on a ton of used corks! I started on my first project using said corks a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, this project is requiring FAR more corks than I could ever have imagined, resulting in my running out of them before finishing! Luckily, the very same friends are willing to continue collecting them for me, which is good since I have a few more d.i.y. cork items in mind! (Do yourself a favor and google wine cork bath mat-- Flipping GENIUS!)

For my current project I'm using a styrofoam ball, hot glue, and, obviously, used wine corks! I plan on hanging it from the ceiling, probably, in my living room. (I keep wanting to refer to this project as a wine cork pendant? But, is pendant the right word? It certainly sounds better than "Hanging Wine Cork Ball", doesn't it? I think I'll go with pendant!) I'm posting a picture of how it looks so far, though bare in mind that it's not finished! So, definitely ignore the flower pot that it's in--it's just how I'm storing it until I can collect enough wine corks to finish it! Also, ignore any white styrofoam that might be showing through, I'll be covering that up with paint once I'm done gluing on the corks! Once that's all done, I just need to figure out how best to hang it! I'm open to suggestions!

Friday, June 3, 2011

I put the Dee in DIY!

I adore DIY! It's such a great way to express yourself creatively while also getting something useful out of the deal! And it definitely makes it easier to get that new "something" JUST the way you like it, and for the most part for far cheaper than you would've paid in a store. Not to mention the added benefit of not having to browse through a dozen stores trying to find what you want at a price that you can actually afford!

Here's a few examples of my projects! The picture to the left is of some pillows I made for my parents house over Christmas! Behind the pillows in the picture is a pair of frames I got on clearance. I don't have a picture of the final product of that project, but basically I used the same fabric I used for the pillows as the backing for the picture frame, then I combed a couple of beaches in Maine for a TON of tiny pebbles (roughly matching in size) and hot glued them into the frame in a swirling pattern. It was VERY cheap and turned out quite cute (not all of the projects I come up with do!). The pillows were cheaper than store bought and it wasn't hard to find clearance fabrics. Also I prefer the pillow stuffing rather than the pillow forms because it gives me more control over the size and shape. This is especially convenient when you're not entirely sure what you want to do yet, which is nearly always the case with me! Plus the stuffing can be REALLY cheap. You can also find some very expensive stuffing, but, for me, I don't find it necessary!

The picture on the right is a rug that I also made over Christmas for my parents. It is made with rug canvas, long strips of fabric and a locker hook. It is not the most cost effective project unless you're able to find fabric that you like (this one took 10 yards) for VERY cheap. If you're just looking for a low cost rug then this is not the method I would use. It also takes quite a chunk of time to make one of these, depending of course, on the size you choose to do. However, that's not a problem for me since I enjoy doing them as a mindless activity when I'm watching tv, etc.. This rug is also quite useful if you're trying to match it to specific things. It's also a great way to use up leftover materials as you can change the fabric print whenever you want. I would point out, however, that the rug is substantially easier when all of the fabric is the same type. Cotton seems to work the best, but I'm wanting to try one with jersey, because I think it would be super cozy! let me also point out that the lighting in the picture was terrible and the rug is MUCH more attractive in real life! :) Oh, and did I mention that these can be washed?! Yep. Throw 'em in the wash machines when they get dirty (you should obviously still pre-was the fabric before making the rug, as well!)!

The hat shown below was made using a pattern that I got from a store on Etsy. Etsy is one of my favorite places to shop. It's such a fantastic way for original designers, artists, and, well, pretty much any type of creative person you can imagine, to showcase their work, and, hopefully, make a little cash while doing it. The store that I bought this pattern from is here: I can't say enough good things. I believe that this pattern was called the "Seed Beret". The pattern was straightforward and simple once I got the hang of it. Especially considering that I had never crotcheted anything before in my life (may I recommend youtube instructional videos for learning how to do just about anything)! And whipping out one of these hats is ridiculously fast (last minute gift idea, anyone?!). I just loved the way it turned out, and my friend, Jeanine, didn't mind it at all either!

Well, that's enough DIY talk for one day! I just love how popular DIY has become, and how simple it is to find great ideas for just about anything online! I'm always looking for my next project or inspiration! I think if everyone did a little DIY then the world would be just a little better!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No-Knead Bread is Dee-licious!

Seriously. This is some GOOD bread. The first time I made it I found it frustrating and complicated, and the results weren't the became a sticky soupy mess that made it quite difficult to follow, well, almost all of the steps! However, after thorough research I realized that using bread flour rather than all-purpose flour and reducing the 1 5/8 cups water that many of the recipes call for to 1 1/2 cups water (this is the amount that Mark Bittman used in a video I found online) yielded beautiful results. Easy peasy! Also, I've found that mixing up the recipe in the afternoon, letting it rise overnight and then doing the second raise and baking while I get ready in the morning means that I get a slice of fresh bread to start my day! I've also started playing around with the recipe a bit. I've made one loaf with thyme and rosemary (GREAT!), another loaf with dill weed (a bit bland, this one needs more work), and yet another with craisins (Also GREAT!). I've yet to have a loaf fail (other than my initial attempt) and the mix-ins make it so easy to customize. It's also a super easy and cheap gift to let someone know you're thinking of them! Do it!

P.S. Pardon the picture quality, it was a spur-of-the-moment cellphone shot! ;)