Monday, September 22, 2014

Make a Simple Wooden Stand

We're really getting into the fall spirit around here.  With an apple picking trip planned for this coming weekend, I felt like it was time to get a little festive inside the house.  I found some beautiful cream and green squash at the farm market and then came upon some cute little pumpkins at the craft store. I knew I wanted to display them all at varying heights so I made this sweet little wooden stand for under ten dollars. It only took about 5 mins to make.

You will need:

-1 extra small round wooden plaque
-1 small round wooden plaque
-1 short wooden candle holder
-Gorilla Glue or Super Glue

Center the candle holder in the middle of the underside of the bigger round plaque and glue down.  When solid and dry, glue the smaller plaque face up to the bottom of the candle holder.  That's it!  You may choose to paint or stain your wooden stand, but I liked mine simple and clean, and left the raw finish.
Add a glass cloche to the top, some mini pumpkins and you've got a beautiful fall display. Cheap and easy, you can't beat that!

How are you celebrating the beginning of Fall?

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nasturtium -Topped Lemon Squares: Last Taste of Summer

It's that time of year when everyone is holding their breath for the official kick-off of Fall. 
I'm just as excited as everyone else, so with the start of September, it was time to say a sweet goodbye to summer.  I figured the sweetest summer flavor is fresh citrus lemon...and sugar, of course. These tart little squares are a bit like lemonade in a baked bite, and are so so pretty topped with the last of our homegrown  nasturtiums. Nasturtium are a wonderfully edible flower, often used on desserts and in salads, so they make the perfect edible decoration here- dusted with confectioner's sugar.

I used this recipe for easy Lemon Bars and then once they had cooled and set, topped them with the fresh flowers and confectioner's sugar.  To use the nasturtium flowers from our garden( this safest to avoid store bought, chemically sprayed flowers), I simply picked them at the base of the bloom, washed them under a gentle spray of cool water and let fully dry on a cloth.  Then I placed them on the dessert and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.
I was amazed at how simple these were to make (this was a first for me) and that the part that took the longest was waiting for them to cool and set. A perfect sensory way to say farewell to the warm summer months of growth and harvest, and hello to our beautiful, crisp season of Fall.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Camp: Sewing Kit in a Jar

I hope you've all enjoyed your holiday weekend, if you're from the States.  We had a little stay-cation here ourselves, but I started dreaming about our next trip away.  Whenever we travel I always bring a little bag of things to keep me busy (hi..I'm five years old).  One thing that's always a little tricky is bringing sewing supplies.  I tend to bring a little bag, which usually results in me loosing needles and my thread in an unraveled, knotty mess. Usually both.  But a needle and thread, and a few other sewing supplies, are the most handy!  Especially on camping trips.  I decided it was time to step up my game and make myself something to house my traveling sewing supplies.  It took about 15 minutes, so you can totally make one too.
You will need:
- 1 small Ball jar
-2 small lid-traced circles of felt
-1 (approx.) 4' x 4' scrap of material 
-Handful of polyfill
-Needle and thread
-Hot glue gun
Start by stitching your felt circles together, with the reverse sides face to face, leaving an open for filling.  Now flip right side out and stuff with stuffing.  Sew up the small opening.  This is going to be the innards of your pin cushion top!

Place the little felt cushion in the center of the square piece of material (my plaid) and draw up the corners into the center. Stitch closed on the back.  Hot glue, with the stitching face-down, to the top of the jar lid.  
Fill with your favorite sewing supplies and you're done! My favorite part is the cute lid and the way it functions as a pin cushion (just be sure to remove and stow away any loose pins when you get back on the road!).  
I know this little guy is going to be coming along on our next camping trip.  I can't wait.
Happy travels!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Stamp it! Personalized Pencil Case

It's almost time to go back to school!! I think for most kids this is the last week of summer , I know my niece can't WAIT for her first day back. She's already got her outfit planned out and all of her school supplies ready.  I remember how much fun it was to pick out cool supplies and to personalize my book covers and binders.  Pencil cases were also HUGE when I was in school, and so I thought it would be fun to do make one now, with a little personal flair. 
 I found these great Styrofoam packing peanuts that screamed "stamp", but you can use anything you have around the house.  Cut a sponge into your desired shape or use a cookie cutter to cut a slice of potato into a fun stamp shape.  Using permanent acrylic craft paint and stamp the shape evenly onto one side of your pencil case.  Allow to dry, flip and repeat!
Someone's initials would be another really fun shape, don't you think?  I picked up my plain cotton pencil case at the craft store.  I wish I'd gotten a few more!  These would make great makeup pouches, emergency kits, or even a little sewing kit!

Happy Stamping!!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Secret Gardens

Saturday was a day just for me, with Nick off on an adventure of his own.  I took the chance to visit a local estate which is open to the public for tours of their gorgeous gardens.  As soon as I got out of the car and saw the entrance tucked into the trees I knew I was in for something special. A gazebo  lead the way through to a boardwalk that meandered through a thicket of trees.  Up ahead the grass began underfoot and I rounded the bend, coming upon the most amazing conservatory I've ever seen.  Half on land, and half jutting out onto a  lily pad pond, it stood in full glory. I was completely smitten...
From there on the walking paths lead me through.  It never really seemed to stop.  Gravel paths and dirt alike winding here and there.  The amount of effort that must go in to every area is evident.  From the greenhouses to the outdoor gardens, I was just amazed.  It really felt like a fairy tale. I could totally picture my five year old self being completely infatuated with this place, hiding out under weeping branches playing with fairies.

The best part was in was just so peaceful.  There were other people here and there - it was a gorgeous day - but everyone was quiet, observing, and I appreciated that.  The whole place felt well cared for and thoughtful, with a humble vibe.  Less manicured than say, the botanical gardens, but in a really great way.  

Just perfect.  I left feeling totally pleased that I had happened upon such a fabulous place all on my own. Very magical. I'm already looking forward to returning during the changing seasons.  Don't you love when things surprise you in such a wonderful way?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How to Press Flowers Using Books

As the summer season begins its final weeks, the gardens will start to peak and I can already feel the sadness that comes with saying goodbye to the blooms.  The most classic way to "preserve" the memory of summer flowers is to press them.  There are many beautiful flower presses available for purchase, but a very simple way to do this at home is to press them between old books.  You may use salvaged books and press them directly between the pages, or you can slip paper into the pages to protect the book.  I went the direct route as these are books I picked up for 50cents each last fall.
There are varieties of flowers that press better than others. Flowers that have thinner petals are great for pressing because they tend not to mold as easily. Flowers with flat faces, like daisy and violets press well as they tend to lie flat, face-down, to the page.  Narrow flowers like lavender also hold up well when dried.  Flat leaves like clover and ferns do very well also and add a nice bit of green.  The best way to start is to remove the stems and unwanted leaves of larger flowers (like the daisy) and to place them face down on the paper making sure all petals are straightened and lying flat...
Leaves may be placed flat as well.  Be sure not to overlap any of the specimens and to leave plenty of room between each one.
When things are placed and ready, gently close the book and lay flat.
Whether you've used one book or several it will be important to apply some steady pressure onto the book to keep the flowers and leaves tightly pressed.  Placing the book under a heavy stack of other books works well, as does a nice rock.  For a stack of books, an old leather belt is a great way to cinch them tightly together for safe-keeping.
After about 2-4 weeks your flowers will be dry.  What kind of crafts and things would you make with your pressed flowers?  I can't wait to see how my batch turns out.  I have a feeling the ferns will be my favorite.


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