Quilting with 1canoe2 Fabric

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My friends Lyndsay and Eric recently welcomed their first child, and in the months leading up to the due date, my group of friends hosted the sweetest baby shower. I wasn’t a part of the party planning, so I decided to use the time to create a baby quilt. And luckily, when this idea came to me, 1canoe2 announced a sale on its fabric.

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I am a big fan of 1canoe2. For several months, I participated in its greeting card subscription, and I’m pretty much obsessed with its new collection of fabric bags. But with this quilt, it was the first time I purchased 1canoe2 fabric.

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Because its simple and easy, I decided to make the quilt using half triangles. I love this pattern because there are so many ways that you can arrange the different fabrics.

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It’s funny. Now that I am looking back through the pictures, I actually prefer the option abovewith the light blue in the center. But I must have known deep down that they were going to have a girl. (The gender was surprise.) The final version has the link pink fabric in the center.

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I love it when you find the perfect fabric for the back of the quilt, and I feel like I hit the jackpot with this teal moth pattern.

Dried Fruit Wreath for Christmas

IMG_3253It’s a known fact about me: I loving giving gifts. And each Christmas, it brings me a lot of joy to make presents for my family and friends. My mom calls it my “Christmas ambition.” Starting around October, I make a list of the things I want to make during the Christmas season. I have yet to complete this list, but I strive each year to cross off as many items as I can. This year, the list had a bit of a theme, embracing dried fruit and cinnamon sticks.

IMG_3231.jpegI’ll confess, the idea to make a small wreath using dried orange slices, apple slices, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks is not an original idea. I saw it in an Advent devotional book someone gave me in November. But the craft is so simple that you really don’t need step-by-step instructions. It can be done in a number of ways.

But first, you have to dry the fruit. I do not have a dehydrator, so what I did was place the orange and apple slices on cookie sheets and left them in a 200 degree oven for 5-6 hours, flipping them every 2-3 hours. I made my best batch at night, turning the oven off before I went to bed and leaving the fruit in the oven while I slept.

IMG_3235.jpegWith the fruit dried, it simply becomes an assembly process. I used floral wire as my “base,” stringing the fruit, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks in an alternating pattern.

For the cinnamon sticks, you could drill a hole in the stick and string it like normal, but I was a little lazy. Instead, I tied red and white baking string around the stick and then tied it to the wire. I liked the look of the extra string hanging down.

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IMG_3243.jpegOnce I strung enough fruit, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks, I use pliers to twist the two ends of wire together. In my first few wreaths, I left a small hole in the center (to look like a traditional wreath), but in the final ones that I made, I pulled the wire tight, making the wreath appear more like a ball. I thought this version looks so much better!

IMG_3247.jpegThe final element was adding a touch of ribbon. I played with wide and narrow ribbon options, and in my opinion, I liked the narrow ribbon the best. But both options were fun to wrap up and give away. The beautiful smell of the wreath will hit the recipient’s nose as soon as he or she removes the lid from the box. Enjoy!

Something New

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While graduate school has consumed much of the spare time that I used to spend on my Etsy store, the fact is, there is still a lot of felt fabric left in my house. And several times a year, I have the great desire to pull it all out and make something new.

This time, it was to make felt crowns.

The idea was inspired by a birthday party. I live in an affluent neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama, and over the past year, I’ve been blowed away by the elaborate birthday parties my neighbors and friends host for their young children.

After looking at a Facebook post from a friend, the idea came to me: What if you made felt decorations that could be used at children’s birthday parties (replacing its paper equivalent). I thought about decorations, like banners, but I quickly fell in love with idea of felt crowns and hats.

So I pulled out all of the felt and started to play. The first crown I made used pink felt and purple pompoms, and while I continued to make other crowns using other themes (like a pirate crown, butterfly crown, birthday crown, etc.), this first version remained my favorite.

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With one more year to go on my graduate program, I don’t think I’ll be reopening my Etsy shop anytime soon. But I will always appreciate a free Saturday afternoon when you can just let you mind wander.

Stages of the [Felt] Moon

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Oftentimes, when an idea pops into my head, I question its originality. People say there’s no such things as an original idea anymore… right?

After finishing this project, I have seen so many references to the moon phases in others’ craft projects and art pieces. Original… maybe. But the truth is, we all influence each other.

To be fair, I have always had a love of space (as several posts on this blog can prove.)

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After the idea came to me, it only took 30 minutes to complete this simple project. I had circle of wood that I mounted the felt to with Mod Podge, and I used tape to attached the circles on the string. (My 8th grade science teacher should be proud that I remembered the moon phases without having to reference the Internet.)

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Here Comes the Bride Banner

I assure you, my hiatus from blogging was unintentional. I’ll keep my excuse short: I started a new job, and it took up a lot of time and energy. But I am officially on Christmas vacation, and work does not start back until Jan. 4. So let the blogging begin again!

To kick things back off, here is a project that I made with my friend Katelyn for her wedding this September. Together, we made this beautiful banner and two pillows for a “ring passing” ceremony.

Way back in June, Katelyn came over and we made this banner together. We used a linen fabric for the banner and a black cotton fabric for the letters. Katelyn found two fonts that she liked, and we used Heat ‘n Bond to cut out and adhere the letters  with an iron to the banner. We decided to not sewing over the letters – though it would have secured the letters in place. We figured if a letter fell off between then and the wedding, Katelyn could cut out another letter and iron it on. Luckily, everything stayed in place, and the banner looked stunning on the day of the wedding.

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Instead of flowers, Katelyn had her flower girls carry the banner  right before she walked down the aisle. (The above and below photos are by W&E Photographie.)

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I especially loved how during the reception, the banner decorated the gift table. We also made two little pillows for a “ring passing” ceremony. The pillows were very simple, but by using lace, I feel like they really became something special. We also attached little satin ribbons that they used to tie down the rings.

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Smitten Kitchen’s Cinnamon Toast French Toast

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Last week, I came home from the library with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, a book that came highly recommended by a friend. These days, my day job keeps me well stocked in cookbooks, so when it comes to purchasing one myself, I like to test it out first. Based on a blog, this cookbook is wonderfully visual, and it lays flat (which I love in a cookbook). My first recipe to try was its Cinnamon Toast French Toast, and to put it simply, it was a winner!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • about 1-pound loaf white sandwich bread (I used 12 slices)
  • butter or margarine (to spread)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Maple syrup and strawberries (for serving)

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My no. 2 reason for loving this reason (no. 1 being how delicious it turned out) is the fact that I can make most of it ahead of time. The night before I made the cinnamon toast.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Place the slices of bread in a single layer on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Spread butter on the top  of each slice of bread, and sprinkle with a spoonful of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Toast the trays of bread, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove for oven, and let cool.

Generously butter a 9- x 13-inch backing dish. Arrange the bread in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.

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The next morning, I let the pan come up to room temperature as I whisked together the milk, eggs, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl. I then poured it evenly over the cinnamon toast and let it sit for 15 minutes (to give the bread time to absorb the custard).

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Next, bake for 30 minutes, until golden and egg mixture looks firm. Cut into squares and serve.

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For garnishes, I went with something simple: sliced strawberries and warm syrup. I set out extra cinnamon-sugar, but I don’t think anyone went for it. (The recipe has enough sugar as it is.)

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The same weekend, I tried a recipe for Brownie Roll-Out Cookies that turned out equally delicious. So long story shot, the book is in my Amazon shopping cart (just wanting to qualify for free shipping)!

 

 

 

DIY Ombré Crate Bookshelf

Four crates, three pieces of wood, a handful of nails, a tube of liquid nails and vintage wheel casters: the ingredients I used for my first attempt at carpentry. I will tell you this, it was not easy, and I was quickly frustrated by the frequency of my mistakes. But the end product is something I will always treasure.

This is how I built a bookshelf out of wooden crates (along with the lessons I learned from doing it wrong).

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Lesson #1: It is stupid to paint the wood before you start building.

Just stupid. Before I even bought nails, I painted two of the wooden crates, which proved futile. I ended up having to sand and paint them again once the bookshelves were assembled.

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Lesson #2: Liquid Nails are great, but make sure you have several wood clamps if you decide to use it.

Being new to the world of power tools, I saw Liquid Nails as an easier option – compared to learning how to use the power drill my father gave me. And yes, Liquid Nails are super easy. Using a caulking gun, I evenly distributed the glue, leaving an inch margin around the edge.

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I had two clamps (see the picture below). The wooden clamp on the right worked great, distributing pressure relatively evenly. The problem is, I needed like four more. The metal clamp did not apply pressure evenly. It really wasn’t that helpful. The other issue I faced was separation on the back side of the crate.

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Lesson #3: Wood sizes are not the same as the advertised measurements.

To make the bookshelves more sturdy, I decided to use three planks of wood – one below, between and on top of the crates. To do this, I purchased one 10-foot long 1×10 wood board. When I went to the cutting station at Home Depot, I had him cut the board into three 3-foot long pieces. And because the width of the crates is 9 inches, I needed him to cut one inch off of the width of the boards. Sadly, the Home Depot employee said he cannot do such a shallow cut.

I felt defeated. I do not own a saw – of any sort. These planks were going to jet out a whole inch. The perfectionist inside of me was going crazy. The Home Depot employee must have seen my face. “Well,” he said, “you know wood is not the exact size we advertise. It’s a known thing”

I look him in the eyes. Obviously, I did not know that. Sure enough, we measure the wood, and it is exactly 9 inches in width. The wood turned out to be perfect.

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Lesson #4: Don’t be lazy. Use painter’s tape.

I love the look of natural wood, but I wanted these bookshelves to have a pop of color. So my goal was to paint only the interiors, leaving the edges and outsides raw wood. I started out being a little overly confident, thinking I could paint within the lines. But quickly, I made a few mistakes here and there. Luckily, sanding the wood once it drys can remove the paint, but I learned that painter’s tape is the easiest, time-saving solution.

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Lesson #5: Craft paint is not ideal for this type of project. 

Though the small bottles of paint were nice to test paint colors, they definitely did not provide enough paint for the entire project. I had to go back to the store to buy several more bottles, proving to be less cost-efficent than if I bought a small can of paint from Home Depot.

I decided to use two different color to create an ombré effect (because Pinterest tells me it’s so trendy). I was hesitate about it at first, but the two colors I chose ended up being a perfect combination.

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Lesson #6: It’s important to buy the right size screws.

Though I did not make this mistake, I recognized that this is an important thing to consider. In my case, I did not need the screw to connect with the second piece of wood. I just needed to attach the wheel casters. With a 1 inch-thick piece of wood, I used 3/4 inch-long screws.

I found my wheel casters at construction warehouse sale – 4 wheels for $5. They were rusty and had flattened sides. (I liked how it provided some character.) But you can purchase brand new wheels at Home Depot for around $5 each.

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Securing the wheels in place, I made sure to measure off their placements first. (No one wants an uneven bookshelf.) I used a 1 inch margin from the edge.

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Finally, after a weekend and a few weeknights, the bookshelves came together to be the perfect addition to my apartment’s living room. And with my college days behind me, I’m sure it won’t be long until they are full of all the books I am reading “for fun!”

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