Blogging about a variety of things I enjoy. Also peddling my wares at Thicket and Thistle on Etsy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

diy decorative tissue box holder

I recently discovered papier mache tissue box holders at Michaels and decided to cover one in a heavy-weight Japanese paper I bought at Paper Source.  Tissue boxes occasionally are decent-looking but sometimes I can't stand their generic, muted pseudo-florals.  This paper is a tiny bit grandmotherly but really pretty, with a hint of metallic gold.  Here's the how-to:

Step 1:  Gather your materials.  Papier mache tissue box form (from Michaels or elsewhere); pretty, fairly thick decorative paper; tape measure/ruler; scissors; Mod Podge (not pictured) or other craft glue; foam paint brush (not pictured); paper plate or other surface to hold glue (not pictured); paper and pen to jot down measurements.

Step 2:  Measure each side of the tissue box form - in this case, the top was slightly smaller than the sides and the sides were equal.  Add 1/4" to each edge of the top section dimensions.  This gives you the measurement for the piece of paper needed to cover the top.  For the sides, multiply the width of one side by 4 and add 1/2" (for a little overlap when gluing).  Then add 1/4" to the height measurement.  This gives you the total length and width of the piece of paper needed to cover the sides.

Step 3:  Measure and cut two pieces of paper:  one for the top piece (dimensions plus an extra 1/4" on each side) and one for the sides (length should equal the total perimeter (width of one side x 4) plus 1/2" and height should equal the height of one side plus 1/4").

Step 4:  Apply an even layer of glue to the top of the box and place the cut piece of paper for the top over the glue, allowing about 1/4" overhang on each side.  Carefully glue down the overhang, folding down the corners evenly.  The oval opening for the tissues will be hidden for now.

Step 5:  Apply an even layer of glue to one side of the box and place the cut piece of paper for the sides of the box over the glue, positioning your starting edge toward one corner and ensuring the paper comes right up to the top of the box, just above the bottom line of the top piece of paper.  There will be about 1/4" overhang along the bottom.

Step 6:  Continue applying glue one side at a time, smoothing the paper over each one and ensuring the paper is aligned evenly with the top of the box.  Glue the paper to the fourth side, over the starting edge of the paper.  

Step 7:  Turn the box upside down.  Apply an even layer of glue to the inside bottom edge of the box (about 1/4"), then carefully fold the paper over the edge and press down the corners, applying glue as necessary to tuck them in.

Step 8:  The exterior of the box is now entirely covered.  Using scissors or a craft knife, cut into the paper over the oval opening, using your hands to guide you.  Do not cut flush with the opening; cut a smaller hole to start. 

Step 9:  Apply an even layer of glue to the inside of the box, just around the perimeter of the oval opening.  Very carefully fold in the paper covering the opening until it is flush with the perimeter.  You may need to cut slats perpendicular to the edges of the opening to be able to maneuver the paper better.

Et voila!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

wine charm wedding gift

In preparing a small collection of wedding gifts for someone, I wanted to make a set of simple wine charms.  Wine charms are a little cheese-tastic by nature, so I thought it best to keep them super simple.

I used silver earring hoops from Michaels and an assortment of seed beads I've collected over the years.  I simply strung the beads on the hoop and left a wee bit of wire free to bend up with a set of small pliers and form into a hook.

Then I punched small holes in a piece of navy cardstock from which to dangle the charms.  There's no question these are homemade but they're a little colorful extra something to include with a wedding or bridal shower present or give as a small hostess gift.

I originally thought I'd do a little French beaded "charm", which I've used before on homemade cards, but I didn't like these quick prototypes.  A very simple square might work better.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

weekend baking

In honor of a house guest the other weekend, I tested Smitten Kitchen's peach pie and Martha Stewart's ham and cheese strata.  Both were super tasty and resulted in several days' worth of breakfast (yeah, pie for breakfast).  On my list for next time is Smitten Kitchen's peach hand pies - the sour cream dough looks mega delish.

Bread pudding rules, no matter if it's sweet or savory.

Monday, June 17, 2013

shopping finds at chain stores

We went shopping for a little patio table the other weekend and I found this fun peacock wicker hanging chair at Pier 1 ($299).  If I were between the ages of 4 and 14, I would want it desperately.  Chairs that hang from the ceiling (or a stand; whatever allows them to swing) are automatically fun for kids; my kindergarten teacher had one in our classroom and it was a special treat to sit in it.  The peacock motif of this chair adds extra flair and the cup holders...just stop it.  I've seen lots of hanging chairs lately, including a fabric type that's similar to a hammock folded in half.

Why do you refuse to stay right side up?  Oh, well. You get the idea.
I also spotted these pretty grey side tables ($70) from the Threshold collection at Target.  There are so many great items in this collection, like this pseudo sawhorse desk ($110) and this desk ($170) and pretty much all of the home decor.  I'm hankering for some translucent turquoise glass vases ($30 for the 15.7") but can't justify the clutter; they are such a pretty color in person, though.  Window shopping, it shall be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

diy birthday card

I have so, so many cards, both RTW (ready-to-write) and supplies.  The problem is I'm lacking in cards specific to occasions.  When someone's birthday is coming up I stare blankly at my boxes and boxes of pretty everyday notecards, none of which is quite appropriate for a birthday.  I recently decided to start making my way through my supplies more diligently, as opposed to buying more, which is what I really want to do.

I decided to use some leftover Paper Source blank flat cards and envelopes from a bridal shower invitation project I did last year and made my own birthday, Father's Day, and bridal shower cards.  Using Microsoft Word Publishing Layout, I inserted a double-lined border and a double-lined multi-point circle, then a small text box with the appropriate message in this Parisienne font.  For this birthday card, I stuck on some rhinestones, too.  Everyone with a big event happening in the next month is getting a yellow and grey card; I just have to remember to whom I send one so I don't repeat. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

diy bridal shower gift

I like to justify my large quantities of craft supplies by making gifts for people.  For a friend's bridal shower next week, I painted some pre-cut cork coasters from Michaels with pale blue Martha Stewart good-for-everything paint using an initial stamp I picked up for a dollar, also at Michaels.  The coasters are a pretty good deal; I think they were two or three bucks for four. 

I used a paint brush to paint the stamp itself, pressed that on the cork, then delicately filled in the impression with more paint.  Cork is porous and has a mottled texture, which worked for and against me.  Even this fairly straightforward stamp gave me some trouble so a more intricate image definitely wouldn't work well.  I didn't do the best job of painting but I think the graininess of the cork actually hides some of the imperfections.

I'm going to tie these with a little ribbon and give them as a supplementary present to break up the (enjoyable) monotony of opening gifts my friend specifically registered for.  A pretty easy and inexpensive outlet for my craft craving.

Friday, June 7, 2013

getting in the spring of things

Spring showers are getting a bit of a late start here but we're getting our money's worth now; the forecast shows lots and lots of rain in the next week.  The rain is certainly good for flowers, though.  These peonies at Fresh Market are luscious but I'm happy with the multicolored bouquet of lilies that my husband got me this week.

For a Memorial Day barbecue, I made this veggie orzo pasta salad.  I was craving fresh food and this packed it in.

I used Giada's red wine vinaigrette from here (with vegetable oil in place of olive since I'd run out of the latter) and customized my salad components.  I boiled a pot of water, scalded some very thin Peruvian asparagus, then dumped a package of whole wheat orzo in the asparagus water.  I chopped the asparagus into 1-inch pieces, about half of an orange and half of a yellow bell pepper, about a third of a red onion, half a pint of grape tomatoes, and a zucchini.  Once the pasta was cooked, drained, and cooled a bit, I mixed everything together, sprinkled in most of a small container of crumbled feta cheese, and drizzled enough of the vinaigrette to coat and flavor everything.  I had a little bit of orzo and vinaigrette leftover, which I used the next day with the rest of the uncut veggies.  This is best served room temperature or only slightly chilled so you can actually taste everything.  Yum.

P.S. I'm pretty sure I spotted these white mixing bowls (blue lids not pictured) on the latest "Keeping up with the Kardashians" in Bruce's man-house.  Also a bottle of, I'm pretty sure, Pace Picante salsa.  This tells me that even rich guys would live like college kids without their spouses to surround them with high-end accoutrements.  I once saw the family use a set of black and white plastic Missoni for Target tumblers but that was more about employing the high-low trend.  Pace is pretty much low-low. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

today's goings on

Last week I went to a paint-your-own-pottery place with a few other ladies.  I browsed around for a good while weighing my options, most of which were too expensive and kind of random.  I finally settled on a ring holder, which I've wanted for a while now.  The other women were a little ambitious with their color choices.  Since paint-your-own-pottery tends to turn out kind of streaky, I went as light and simple as possible, with a pale, almost-Tiffany blue and white polka dots.  It only cost me $12, which is less than most options from Etsy I'd been considering.  I picked it up today and promptly used it while doing dishes.

As I walked up to our door, I spotted this *huge* butterfly (moth?) in the hallway.   I told him not to mind me and he didn't.

Then I proceeded to make three things:  salsa; Jell-O (yeah!  It had been so long.); and Rice Krispies Treats.  Old school.  I decided to mound the Krispies on a baking sheet rather than pile them into a baking dish.  Kind of like how Ina Garten makes her meatloaf.  It worked nicely.

I've had a lot of time to cook and bake (and do the ensuing dishes) lately but I really *don't* need to eat entire batches of cookies and RKTs and scones by myself.  Luckily I can send my husband to work with the majority and feel better by just eating a few.  It's hard to part with these puppies, though.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

daily reading material

Pink calla lilies (and assorted other flowers) at The Fresh Market
I try to avoid reading the news.  I know it's a bit willfully ignorant of me but I just don't want to know most of the time.  I do, however, make habitual pit stops at these blog sites:

A Beautiful Mess (their output is impressive and so varied)
A Cup of Jo (she has her finger on the pulse of, like, everything)
Boxwood Clippings (I love that they love Target as much as I do)
Little Green Notebook (one of the coolest ladies ever; no idea how she does all that she does)
Look Linger Love (Charleston, art, clothes, and occasional profanity - done)
Lovely Indeed (cheerful and full of everyday projects)
Oh Happy Day (mother of all DIY garlands, photo backdrops, and party hats)

Weekly stops include my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen and Spoon Fork Bacon.  Understandably, neither blog has daily entries but the weekly wait for the next recipe is kind of exciting.  It's the little things.

These are among the many blogs that I'll stop by when I feel the need for inspiration (/distraction).  Over the years my regular blog choices have changed and there always seems to be another awesome site to discover.  This sounds so cheesy but the collective creativity out there is so awesome.  What if we could harness it to bring peace to the world?!  Somebody should get on that.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

more on rifle paper co.

Over St. Patrick's Day weekend I found myself in Winter Park, FL, and happily discovered the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival taking place along Park Ave.  It was beautiful weather and there were tons of people out and about, looking at art, sampling the fair foods (we had fried Oreos and they were super amahzing), and patronizing local restaurants and shops.  The intended purpose of going to Winter Park was not the festival, though we were led there eventually by the smell of a multitude of deeply fried food.  My main goal was to visit the worldwide headquarters of Rifle Paper Co.  And it just might be my most favorite place on Earth.

Rifle Paper Co. had a little sidewalk sale going on in honor of the festival.
I broke into a sweat upon entering their store, which also serves as their studio.  Being surrounded by all of their products was overwhelming.  The shop girl and I bonded over blogs when she complimented me on my Boulevard purse and I told her it was Little Green Notebook who had posted about it years ago (I got mine from LA Plates but Tuckernuck now sells them in a few different colors).  Anyway.

Vintage stamps and some notebooks in the background.
I love Rifle Paper Co. products because the color composition is always perfect.  Their stationery and notebooks and illustrations have a hipster-vintage feel but not too much so.  They're cute but not cutesy.  They're clever but not so much so that I don't get them.  They're printed in the United States, which I appreciate.  The quality is high.  The founder, Anna Bond, seems like a mega cool person and is successfully running my dream business.  If only I had her talent.  At least I have a talent for spotting talent?  Here's what I bought during my visit:

My love of stationery is insatiable.  I'm considering framing the pug card.
I definitely don't need another notebook but I really need *this* notebook.  Plus this cute gold spoon!  Por que no?
I joked to the young woman working in the store that day that I planned to use the gold spoon for caviar.  I don't even eat fish, let alone fish roe, but I would start if it validated this purchase.  These beauties have been added to my existing collection of RPC cards and a cities-around-the-world calendar I received for Christmas.  Such a successful shop and a personal triumph to visit one of the stationery/design businesses I admire most. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

wisteria in the wild

I've been doing some driving up and down 95 lately and I love seeing wild wisteria growing amongst the trees.  The purple vines make the highway a lot less ugly.  They're also nice against a whitewashed manse in DC (even on a cloudy day):

I like to daydream about owning a beach house one day and I'm pretty sure I want the landscaping to consist of purples, greens, whites, and some yellows.  Wisteria will be a requisite for sure.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

mirror, mirror on the malm

I popped into Ikea last night (as one does on a Friday) primarily to decide whether I could live with Ikea dining chairs (yes) but of course I picked up a few random things (an extendable arm bathroom mirror, heart-shaped ice cube tray, cork stopper for my old but still in production carafe) and slowly browsed the whole store just to see what was new.  It was rather enjoyable to be one of the only people there.  In the bedroom furniture section I discovered they now make mirrored Malm dressers but I can't figure out whether I love them or think they look cheap.  In person, the mirrored effect is slightly wavy, along the lines of cheap pretend makeup compacts for little girls, where the mirror is really just a piece of moderately reflective, adhesive plastic. 

Overall, though, they're pretty hot.  I took the liberty of digging my fingernail into one of the floor models to see how tough the mirrored coating is and I didn't leave a mark, so they appear, at least in that one regard, to be pretty solid.  Reflective anything seems to be really popular right now - sunburst mirrors, distressed mirrored tabletops, etc. - and for good reason, since they reflect light and make virtually any space brighter.  These Malms are pretty mod; perhaps too mod for my place (not that I need any more furniture, anyway - except dining chairs!) but still a cool feature, especially since so much widely produced, inexpensive furniture - Ikea and otherwise - is so boring.  These definitely make more of a statement than most other pieces.  I bet if you laid some painted (black?) fretwork on the drawers, you wouldn't even be able to tell the dresser was from Ikea.  I'm considering ordering decorative fretwork for my own Malm (in Ikea's iconic "black-brown" - ha!) from O'verlays.  Such a smart idea to offer professional means to an Ikea hack end.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

springtime in savannah

The other weekend I took a day trip to Savannah with my mom and sister.  For the third trip in a row, I started off my visit at the Paris Market & Brocante.  So I was told, brocante means a sort of second-hand/vintage/flea shop.  There's a cool mix of new (Bellocq tea, Tocca perfume, washi tape, soft knits for babies) and old (vintage beads, china and glassware, canes, animal x-rays) all jumbled together in a two-story corner lot.  Oh, there's also a little cafe that serves Italian sodas and coffee.  The place is a bit like the home section of Anthropologie with a heavier focus on interiors (they offer some design services and sell really pretty linen-covered pillows, chairs, and sofas).  This time I left with a vintage mink stole courtesy of my mom, a few French salted caramels, two rolls of washi tape, a brass bead, and a starburst wall ornament (like the cheaper ones mentioned in this March 2012 post).

(This photo of amazingly beautiful silver, domed egg cups is from my February visit.)
After making pit stops at Sweet Carolina Cupcakes (the whoopie pie I tasted was yum but I heard the cupcakes were too sweet) and the gleaming Tervis store (a store devoted to cups; somehow it works and is awesome), we had a light lunch at Gryphon, staffed by SCAD students and housed in an historical building.  Initially I was drawn to the place because they serve afternoon tea, though I ended up with a salad.  And scones as an appetizer.  The interior is dim and book-sy.  We love, love, loved the studded green leather banquettes. 

We then popped into shopSCAD and bought a few cards and screenprinted tea towels.  They have some neat jewelry, super hot leather tops by student designer Brooke Atwood, and lots of other things.  So great to see students' creations sold commercially.  On the way out of town we saw a few shops and a gourmet grocery in what appeared to be a converted gas station; they'll make the itinerary next time, after the requisite visit to Paris Market.

for the record

For years I've been wanting to host a doughnut party.  For years my family and friends have scoffed at me.  Doughnuts weren't hip enough for them, evidently.  And yet, now we find ourselves witnessing the eclipse of the cupcake.  Welcome, fine doughnut shops across the land.

Astro Doughnuts does doughnuts and fried chicken, which I saw being pulled upstairs on a dumbwaiter into their tiny store front like the Phantom of the Opera.  Line out the door and down the block in its first week, which was last week.  Co-owned by a former Caps player.  Done.

I have yet to try GBD in Dupont but it does doughnuts and chicken and stays open well past midnight.  Quite the niche market.  With Krispy Kreme brick and mortars few and far between these days (although there is one in Dupont...), it's comforting to me to see the next generation of shops specializing in sugary fried dough.  It's really the American version of the European way.