DIY Cocktail Napkins

By Monday, September 22, 2014 15 No tags Permalink 0

Hold onto your pants because I just sewed something that isn’t a pillow! I recently got my hands on some FolkArt stencils and paints and wanted to try something totally new:

cocktail napkins cover

The lightbulb went off when I was digging through the remnant bin at JoAnn (always check the remnant bin!) and I found a piece of white cotton. I mentally high-fived myself and thought, “Self, that would make some mighty fine cocktail napkins.” With the holidays sneaking up on me again, I want to be ready for hosting people well in advance this time.

Here’s what else you need:

— FolkArt paints (available at Michael’s)
— Stencil1 stencils (also available at Michael’s)
— small foam brush
— rotary cutter
— cutting mat
— ruler (not pictured, my bad)
— FolkArt stencil adhesive (also found at Michael’s)

napkins materials

If you already have some plain cocktail napkins hangin’ around and don’t feel like sewing, you can skip right to the stencil action. But if you’re like me and found a remnant that could not be ignored, let’s make the actual napkins. First I cut the material into 10 1/4″ squares.

napkins length

Then I folded a 1/4″ seam all the way around the perimeter, ironed it to keep it flat, and sewed. This makes the napkins 9 3/4″ square, perfect for holding some little appetizers.

napkins hem

Now we’re ready to decorate. Grab that stencil adhesive and dab it on the back of your stencil. This was my first time using this and it was a GAME CHANGER. I’m a total convert. I used to get nervous about stencils with dark colors because I have a knack for scooting the plastic around while I paint, but this kept it on lock down.

napkins adhesive

I could also move the stencil several times before it needed to be re-stickified (an official term), so it didn’t really slow me down.

For my pattern, I used the letter O as a polka dot. I thought about making them random at first, but then decided to go with offset rows. The stencil is semi-transpartent so I had an easy time getting it situated before I dabbed the paint on.

napkins stencil

Once the napkins were full of O’s, I laid them flat to dry for a couple of hours and that was it! Done. I went with gold and black because–don’t laugh at me–I wanted something that could technically work for Halloween OR Christmas. Plus, I love neutrals.

napkins2a

Unintentional bonus: these look a lot like coffee beans, so if you’re in need of a coffee-themed gift for the caffeine addicts in your life, this pattern would also look great in various shades of brown.

What have you been making lately? Anybody else sewing something new? Who’s ready to host a party just so they can bust out some cute cocktail napkins? Do you also like to use letters as a pattern instead of words?

This post was sponsored by Plaid Crafts. All opinions, project ideas, and photos are my own. For more awesome projects using FolkArt and Stencil1, check out the Plaid Palette blog, sign up for their newsletter, and follow their Pinterest boards. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Closet Cleanouts

By Friday, September 19, 2014 12 No tags Permalink 0

Happy Friday! There aren’t any Pinterst Picks this week because I spent some time doing a little organizing instead. Behold the closet in the office/den/former smurf room now that it’s so fresh and so clean, clean:

closet after

Ah, nice and sorted with an easily accessible ironing board. This is where we keep extra bedding, luggage, etc. I knew it wasn’t great looking in there but didn’t realize how hoarder-adjacent we were getting until Hubsey needed a suitcase for a work trip recently. Do you like our method of storing things in piles? And please note how the ironing board is conveniently kept behind a pile of old video games. SMART!

closet before

closet before2

I don’t even know, you guys. It just happened. (That’s the problem with closets; you can just shut the door and be like, “What garbage pile?”) But since I got an eyeful looking for the small red suitcase, I knew it was time. Some of the stuff we clearly didn’t need anymore (computers from college, anyone?), so that got the boot and the leftovers went into actual storage bins. And now I can breathe again.

closet after2

closet after3

While I was at it, I also tackled the closet in the entryway. This one is near the garage, so aside from holding our coats and surplus of scarves, it also became my dumping ground for paint and tools.

closet2 before

Again, a garbage bag-sized purge happened before the winners got new homes in storage boxes. If you need a recommendation, I like these from the blue and yellow palace.

closet2 after

Whew. Much better. I’m surprised it took me so long to get this one cleaned up because I’m in there almost everyday. Better late than never, I guess, and now my eyeballs can have a party every time I reach for the spray paint.

So there’s a nice batch of keepin’ it real to end your week! How’s your closet situation? Do you ever fall into the trap of let’s-just-make-a-pile? Eventually I’d like to get some real closet systems, but for now the ol’ box solution is fine. Which closet at your house is the messiest?

Wallpaper and You

By Wednesday, September 17, 2014 17 No tags Permalink 0

Being a designer doesn’t mean that I love every trend that strolls onto the scene. It’s rare that I actually hate anything, because a lot of stuff can look great if you do it right, but I’ve always given wallpaper the side-eye. I’ve seen some removal situations go horribly awry, so I’m all freaked out about using it in my own house. But! I know that my paranoia doesn’t extend to most people (or does it?!), so today let’s take a peek at wallpaper and how to use it without regretting your decision in five years. Whee!

wallpaper1

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My main bit of safety advice for hopping on the wallpaper train is to keep your arms inside the car at all times use it as an accent. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, rooms that are 100% wallpapered can be a smidge overwhelming. Two, if you change your mind later and want to take it down, it’s way more work to remove it from four walls than it is from one. Maybe my mom will pop into the comments today and tell you some horror stories about trying to remove the pink and blue floral wallpaper she and my dad inherited in their two-story family room. The operative word there is “trying.”

So, with that cautionary tale in mind–accents! A lot of people like wallpaper because it’s bold and you might be thinking that only using it in small doses won’t be exciting enough. I personally think the thrill factor has more to do with the pattern you pick. Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A:

wallpaper2

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SHAZAM! No shrinking violets here. It’s totally eye-catching, very bold, and yet it needs the white walls around it for balance. Think about how, um, eye-watering it would be if ALL of the walls in there had the bamboo pattern on them. It works because they only did a small area.

If the thought of papering even one wall gives you the heebs, there are some other fun things you can try that aren’t as big of a commitment. Adding some to the back of a bookshelf has been popular for a long time, so I thought I’d remind you how cool it can look.

wallpaper3

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Another idea is to wallpaper a backsplash instead of using tile. Maybe don’t do the area behind your stove, unless you’re a wizard who never splatters food, but other parts of the kitchen (or a bar!) would be fun.

wallpaper4

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And if you have some leftover pieces, or are just dipping your toe into wallpaper lake and want to take things slow, I like what some stylish person did to this dresser. You could also stick the wallpaper inside, kind of like a drawer liner.

wallpaper5

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How do you like your wallpaper? As an accessory? All over the room? On the backs of bookshelves only? Some other cool way that I haven’t thought of because I myself am not super into wallpaper? Which of these is your favorite?

Easy Pumpkin Spice Cake

By Monday, September 15, 2014 12 No tags Permalink 0

Easy Pumpkin Spice Cake When I was 13, my parents sent me to a summer basketball camp (this was back when I still thought I, perhaps, had some athletic skills–spoiler: I don’t!) and one of my fellow campers asked me if I liked cake. I was all, “Who doesn’t?!” Turns out she meant the band, who are fine, but I get way more excited about Cake the Dessert, as most people do. You can eat it at work parties, on your birthday, with coffee for breakfast as I have done above; there’s no bad time for cake.

I’ve gotten better at making them lately, too. I used to flat-out refuse because baking a WHOLE CAKE was a lot of pressure for somebody who rarely uses the oven (I’m more of a cook as opposed to a baker), but now I have my sea legs and it’s really not so bad. In fact, I saw a trick on Pinterest a while ago and had been meaning to try it, so I finally did. I call this the can o’ pumpkin hack:

pumpkin ingredients

Literally, those are the only two things you need. Instead of the usual wet ingredients like eggs and oil, add the can of pumpkin to the cake mix. This makes it a little healthier, which is awesome because then I can eat more of it, but the real point is the flavor. Instead of regular old spice cake, now we have PUMPKIN SPICE cake. It’s the dessert version of everybody’s favorite coffee. Holla!

pumpkin2

One tip: the batter will be slightly thicker than usual, which made me nervous for a second because BAKING but it turned out just fine. I think the next time I’ll make this I’ll add some chocolate chips. Walnuts would be really good, too. Of course you could frost it, but I personally find that to be like pouring a bag of sugar into my mouth so that’s why there isn’t any. Naked cakes forever!

Have you been baking lately? Any cake hacks to share? Been enjoying the smorgasbord of pumpkin-flavored foods that pop up every fall? Who else hates frosting?

Pinterest Picks

By Friday, September 12, 2014 13 No tags Permalink 0

Happy Friday, everybody! For your viewing pleasure, I present this week’s Pinterest Picks:

I don’t normally like the “paint your stairs a wacky color!” suggestion that’s been popping up for the last year or so, but this version is actually very cute. My issue with this trend is wondering who would, for real, do that, but I think the white walls and wood stair treads make this feel more approachable. I’m still not into it for the main staircase of a house (yeah, yeah, I’m boring), but maybe going up to a playroom or a workshop?

pin stairs

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I made some cornbread the other day, but this version is better because A) it’s not from a box and B) it’s accompanied by avocado dip!

pin cornbread

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I’ve been debating whether I should put myself on a clothes/shoes/accessories spending freeze until the end of the year, because I honestly don’t NEED anything else and my closet is getting awfully full again for somebody who tries to keep a small wardrobe. (Whoopsie.) So, I’ll do a post about that if I end up doing it, but in the meantime, I won’t deprive you of adorable blouses:

pin line blouse

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Great poster. And that’s a pretty snazzy desk lamp, too. There’s no way I’m instituting a spending freeze for the house, so all of this is fair game:

pin oyster

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Teensy printable gift boxes! Oh, the cuteness:

pin boxes

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So what are your weekend plans? We might be putting more mulch in the yard because we didn’t buy enough bags last time, and then we’re having a couple of friends over on Sunday for football watching and junk food eating. And speaking of food, I have a recipe to share with you next week! It’s easy, even for me, but it does involve using the oven so I’m going to give it points for being fancy, anyway. Ooooh la la.