Monday, January 31, 2011

Vintage Chair Love!

These past two weekends have been a whirlwind of activity. Last weekend was spent scouting, sourcing and redesigning my bedroom with one of my dearest friends (pics to come later this week) and the weekend before was spent antiquing in Niagara, which totally paid off...S and I found a set of five dining chairs to refinish for $25 each! Needless to say, we were thrilled...They weren't QUITE gorgeous when we found them, but I knew that with a little elbow grease, they would really show their potential.

The set only has one armchair, which is totally fine because we want to get two upholstered chairs for end chairs to go with the table we want (to be revealed later on this week, since S got a night school job, it's totally a "go!")

I decided to refinish the single armchair to use as an occasional chair in our bedroom. It got a few coats of high-gloss black lacquer, and I recovered the cushion with a silk blend and added a bit more padding...Since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, feast your eyes if you will:


Nice "neutral" fabric on the before chair, right? HA!


Done and Done !


Look at the pretty trellis detailing!! It makes me so happy!



Stay tuned later this week for the bedroom reveal! I PROMISE it'll be worth it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ode to Spoonflower

Spoonflower is a website that allows members to create their own fabric from any image that can be scanned. Members create fabric from paintings, photographs and photoshop drawings. For my wedding I created fabric out of the paper that I used throughout. The fabric turned out quite lovely, but I didn't end up using it for the day.

Many Spoonflower fabrics are made by independent designers, graphic designers and other industry professionals, but I love the fact that anyone with an image to upload can crank out some custom fabric. Probably the best part about Spoonflower? You can purchase fabrics designed by other members...

Here are a few I've had my eye on:


How delicious would this Cake fabric be in a shabby-chic dining room as a runner, or place mats or even upholstery on some vintage reupholstered chairs...Nothing takes the "stuffy" out of your grandmother's antique dining set like a touch of whimsy!


You know I had to...this Queen Daisy the Boston Terrier fabric is soooo cute! I can imagine it in a little girl's bedroom or on a cute bag.


This Puppachutes and Flying Piggies would be lovely as an accent in a little boy's nursery.


I would love to see this Sterling Rose fabric on some accent chairs or pillows in a grey and butter yellow living room.


The Mustache Gallery is adorable...although I have yet to come up with a practical use for it...perhaps just frame it for a piece that brings a smile.


This Cherry Blossom fabric is a contender for the reupholstered chair to go into our bedroom.

All designs are available in a variety of fabrics (including linen blends and silk crepe de chine) at a variety of price points. Checkout the Spoonflower website for more information.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bedroom Redux!

Hello-hello!

After a very involved FB discussion about paint colour, S and I decided to go with a colour that is almost IDENTICAL to what we have on the wall...'cuz we're just THAT brave.


The colour is called Wheat Sheaf by Benjamin Moore.

So with that decided, we are off to the races. Here is the inspiration board for the bedroom. The palette is chocolate and pink and cream...

bedroom

We scored some GORGEOUS vintage chairs from the antique store by my parents house. We got five for $125! Considering our first choice costs almost $200 each, I think we did OK. Only one of the chairs has arms, so that one is getting refinished to go in our bedroom. The others are in storage chez mes parents until we have a table.

I'll keep you posted on our progress!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tutorial: Cashmere Hand Warmers

I was totally inspired by these gorgeous mini hand warmers by Restoration Hardware this past Christmas:



The thought of toting around those adorable little cashmere gems in my pockets, keeping my fingers toasty on a blustery day really appealed to me for obvious reasons. What did not appeal to me however, was the $35 price tag...no matter how cute they were. I resolved to make them myself using the same principles as making a heat pack.

This easy little project can be completed in under thirty minutes with things you have around your house. I used remnants of the felted cashmere sweater I used on this cashmere water bottle cover.

You will need:

- Four pieces of felted wool 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches (cashmere is obviously what I used, but you could use any type of wool or fabric you have around)
- Flax or rice to fill your warmers (approx 1/2 cup per warmer)
- Sewing machine
- Needle and coordinating thread
- Straight pins.



Directions:

1. Pin two of the pieces of wool together on three sides leaving one of the short sides open. Be sure right sides are facing:



2. Stitch all the way around three sides of the bag, leaving the one unpinned short end completely open.

3. Turn the bag right- side out and fill it 3/4 full with the flax or rice. Be sure not to overfill the bag. I used a paper funnel for this.

4. Tuck both raw seams in and pin. Be sure both warmers are the same size.



5. Using a needle and thread blind stitch the seams together. I am out of practice so please forgive my horrendous technique.



6. They should turn out something like this:



and if you're more careful with your blind stitching, they will look even better...

To use them, put them in the microwave for 45-60 seconds, then simply pop them in your pocket. They'll keep warm for at least an hour. These would be great for hockey games, outdoor sports and sporting events, yard duty (for us teachers) and after dinner winter walks.They'd make a cute gift, too!



**I sincerely apologize for the terrible pictures in this post. The lighting is horrendous, but as it gets dark around 4pm and I'm a procrastinator, it'll have to do.**

Friday, January 14, 2011

S'mores Galore



Today I'm on snack duty at work, and since I have been meaning to make s'more cookies since the Everyday Food recipe was featured in the Toronto Star in December, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity.

S'mores are, bar-none, the most delicious campfire fare out there. I feel qualified to say this as a former Girl Guide...we ate a LOT of campfire food...I can even make a griddle out of a coffee tin for making pancakes, but I digress...I have also made this Bobby Flay barbecue s'more recipe for a cookout I hosted one summer. They were a MAJOR hit.

Naturally I altered this recipe slightly (especially the process), but it is adapted from this one by Martha.

Ingredients

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 large milk chocolate bars divided into 24 squares (or 24 Dove individually wrapped pieces)
12 large marshmallows, halved horizontally


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse oats until finely ground. Put the oats into a large mixing bowl and add flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; whisk to combine.



2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla, scraping down side of bowl.



3. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture just until combined.



4. Drop dough by tablespoons, 1 inch apart, onto a baking sheet. Bake just until lightly golden, 7-9 minutes.



5. Remove from the oven and top each cookie with a chocolate square. Return to the oven for 3-4 minutes. Remove cookies from oven again; heat broiler.



6. Top each cookie with a marshmallow. Broil until marshmallows are lightly browned, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.



These are soooo delicious.



Nom Nom Nom Nom

Thursday, January 13, 2011

J Crew Necklace Craft...

Okay, people...I can hardly CONTAIN my excitement!!!! I just found the prettiest blog with the best tutorials EVER!! The blog is called Ruffles and Stuff and the author, Disney (I know, right?) is gorgeous, thrifty and super-crafty...and not stupid-crafty, good-crafty...like here's-a-tutorial-for-a-Banana-Republic-inspired-bib-necklace good-crafty! Can you tell I'm kind of over the moon right now?

What really prompted me to write this post was this necklace:



Which is her version of this necklace by J Crew:



I absolutely LOVE this necklace, but it's gone now...so I was SURE I missed the boat when I came upon this blog completely by happenstance...Serendipity? You bet.

Find the step-by-step tutorial here and join me in making one this weekend...Bead Girl, here I come!

On an even happier note, how excited are you that J Crew is finally coming to Canada? Looks like our "strong" economy in spite of the economic downturn has spurred them (and Khols and Target **happy dance!!**) to move onto our turf. I see more cardigans and affordable designer fashions in our collective futures!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Super-Easy 1940's Vegan Cake

Okay, so the fact that this cake is vegan has less to do with any type of ethical conviction and more to do with necessity. The recipe was borne of the need for something delicious, while still adhering to familial rations of the war era...and it doesn't disappoint...It's an excellent, budget-friendly snack cake that I'd recommend for an anytime treat. I iced mine with a sour cream icing (just used what I had on-hand) but for an everyday treat it can be eaten without the icing. It's a nice "surprise" in your lunch box...that you put there yourself...

You can find many iterations of this recipe online...I can't even remember where I found this one...It's scribbled on the back of a used envelope, as I am wont to do.



You will need:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp vegetable oil (I used butter, as we are not rationing :)
2 tsp vanilla (pure)
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup cold water

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350*. In an 8 inch square baking dish, sift all of the dry ingredients together.

2. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.

3. Stir to combine.

4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

While you are baking the cake, why not whip up this delicious Sour Cream Icing I found on Cooks.com

You Will Need:

1 cup chocolate chips
6 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c sour cream
2 1/2-2 2/3 cups icing sugar

Directions:


1. In a double boiler set over (not in) simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth.

2. Remove from heat and add vanilla and sour cream. Beat with electric mixer until combined.

3. With the mixer on low, slowly add the sugar 1/3 cups at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved. If you put this icing in the fridge for a few hours, it will firm up nicely.

When the cake has cooled, spread with the icing and enjoy...I know I did!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Adorable DIY Favour Ideas!

I think that favours are probably my favourite wedding element. They not only help you personalize your special day, but they're also a lovely way to thank your guests for making it so special. I have compiled a few of my favourite wedding favour ideas from my favourite wedding bloggers.

This first idea combines my love of favours with my love of terrariums. It would be simple to do with some fishbowl vases from your local craft shop and some succulents from your local garden store. Throw in a few shells or river rocks, and voila! I was considering this as an option for my own wedding, but I think it would be really well suited for an eco-conscious wedding or a woodland theme. Find out more from Martha...it's her idea after all!



This lovely idea would be the perfect way to showcase fabric or paper that incorporates your colour palette for your day, and as a bonus, it would double as a centrepiece...just be sure there's one per guest (vary the height and volume for visual interest) and be sure guests know they're meant to take them as they leave. I found this idea at I Do It Yourself...check out this resource...it is amazing and invaluable with tons of free printables and great ideas.




These DIY ice cream favours from Style Me Pretty would be perfect for an outdoor summer wedding.



These matchbox covers are a classic idea...You can find the template here and you can mix and match computerized fonts and designs or you could go really wild and calligraph your own..hooray for typography!



Finally, since the importance of presentation cannot be overstated, I have found some lovely cut and fold boxes (including the butterfly one below) here to put something lovely into...like, oh, I don't know...some truffles or Parisian macarons...



Happy crafting!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Simple and Delicious: My Mom's Apple Crisp

Nothing warms a home like the smell of cinnamon and apples baking away in the oven. I sincerely love making apple crisp...especially this recipe.

For the topping you will need:

1/2 c all purpose flour
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar
1/3 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c cold butter cut up

For the filling you will need:

6-8 Granny Smith apples (enough for about 2 inches of apples in an 8 inch square baking dish)
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350*

2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the topping except the butter and stir to combine.



3. Add in cut up butter, and using your hands work the butter into the ingredients until it is well-integrated. The topping should form pea-sized crumbs.



4. Set the topping in the fridge until you are ready to use it.



5. Peel the apples (bonus points if you can peel them in one coil...it's a game I like to play...I know...but I can't help it)



6. Core the apples. I use a melon baller for this task...waaaay easier.




7. Slice the apples, and in the baking dish, toss them with the sugar, flour cinnamon and nutmeg meant for the filling.



8. Dot the apples with the butter for added richness...or skip the butter...it's optional. Sprinkle the reserved topping on the apples.



9. Bake at 350* for 50-60 minutes



10. Enjoy!



This is delicious served with vanilla ice cream as a simple dessert. It's also stellar for using up apples that are too soft to eat out of hand...I've been eating it for as long as I can remember and it never gets old.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Welcome 2011

I must admit, I am sad to say goodbye to 2010. With a wedding, honeymoon, new job, lots of new friendships forged and the acquisition of a soda stream, it will be hard to top. I am moving forward into 2011 with the sole resolution to get more organized...luckily for me, an unfortunate NYE accident has rendered me house-bound, so I'll have a lot of time this weekend to put my plans into action. Lots of closets to clean out, and unused items to give away.

As you may know I love to meal plan, I am currently using this lovely scribble menu planner from the lovely, artistic folks over at Ollibird.



I am planning to make it more permanent by printing it onto magnet paper and laminating it, so it can hang out on my fridge.

This lovely alternative option offers a bit more space and more organizational possibilities.



Click here for the link to download these yourself and laminate them or throw them into picture frames to track your own meals. Also, visit Ollibird for more cool downloads (free!) and tutorials. Their Etsy shop Loveland Miscellany by Ollibird is also worth a visit...it has some super-cute, unique and affordable art prints for sale.