Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DIY Growth Chart!

Am I the only one who feels time is passing by much too quickly? Has anyone else noticed little shoes are too tight, pants are too short, and ideas too big? I feel like somewhere along the time my daughter was born, time was set to fast forward. She is now 7 and my baby is almost 2. How I ask you is this possible?? 

I love little mementos of those tiny fingers and toes, and this growth chart is perfect for keeping track of those inches that accrued over night! Pottery Barn was the original product, and then Etsy shops started duplicating them(still $75!). I saw this growth chart on Pinterest and thought, "Yes!! I can do that!" Such a great way to chart their growth and take it with you no matter where you go. We have moved at least once a year over the last 5, so this IS a big deal! Ha! And it was the easiest craft I have done. Seriously!

Have I mentioned this is a super cheap project? $20 tops, depending where you get your supplies!

The original Pin:

You can visit the site and they sell this product too!

1) Wood board. (Mine was 6 ft tall x 7 and a 1/2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Approx $6 at Lowe's)
2) Your choice of wood stain.(I used Golden Pecan by Minwax. Approx $3.99 from Walmart.)
3) A paint brush(Approx $2 from Walmart)
4) damp rag
5) Black Sharpie pen(mine was just a fine point. Nothing special)
6) Measuring tape
7) Vinyl numbers( I used 3 inch Helvetica. $6.99 from Michael's. Comes in a pack of the whole alphabet.)

How To:
1) Make sure wood is clean and dry. My wood was new so I had no need to sand or anything. You may need to if its still rough or splintery.
2) Apply stain according to directions. Let dry. I wasn't going for really dark. I like the look of the natural wood grain coming through.
3) Once all dry, mark off the "feet," using a measuring tape and pen. PLEASE NOTE: Your first foot is not a full 12 inches! Its going to be hanging on a wall somewhere. To accurately measure your children's height and not be taking it off the wall all the time, start at 6 inches.  Then hang accordingly.
4) Once all the "feet" are marked, measure out the "half feet." Hint, that's every 6 inches. So that's all the middle marks between each "foot."
5) Now continue to mark every inch.
6) When everything is all measured out and marked, us a black sharpie and a straight edge to draw on the lines permanently.
7) Place the vinyl numbers according to their places. Make sure they are pressed on well and no bubbles.

Finito! Growth chart complete! I have seen all sorts of ways to mark the growth of each child from photos at each age, to dates written in fun colors, and one used a small nail and charm with the date and initial. This project would be great for a salvaged piece of wood that's in good condition. The aged look would be incredible! Its also on the cheap for those crafters with a Cricut. Either way, I am really excited about this little project and can't wait to add their first marks!

Happy pinning!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Frost a Cake with a Paper Towel and make it look like Fondant!


If there was an award for World's Worst Baker, I would have a shelf full of trophies! Some people are born with the gene, but I didn't manage to get it. Ha! I can burn a batch of cookies with no effort and ruin bread before it even has the chance to rise. I consider myself a fairly decent cook when it comes to meals, but over the last few years have tried to challenge my lack of baking skills. Not sure I am winning the war... hehe.

I stumbled upon this great blog through a Pin on Pinterest. She has all sorts of tutorials, and one of them is how to frost a cake using a paper towel to make it look like fondant. I have never been a fan of fondant(it tastes funny to me), but its so dang pretty on cakes. My daughter's birthday was approaching and I decided for her birthday cake to give it a whirl. Worst case scenario, I would find a bakery to save the day!

Not to toot my own horn, but I am beyond pleased with myself. Ha! Not only did I not burn the cake, but it turned out pretty dang close to the way it should. That's a major feat, you have no idea! I used her frosting recipe and the paper towel technique and I will never go back to store bought again! Its not any more effort and it turns out looking so cute and is so yummy. We actually looked forward to the left overs after the party. Ha!

The Original Pin:

If you couldn't tell it was a Hello Kitty party and while its not as perfect as the Original Pin(at least it wasn't a fail!), it turned out quite smooth. A few more tries and maybe I will be on my way to having at least 1 baking skill! Ha!

Her recipe is for White frosting, so I just put 2 drops in of light blue food coloring for the sky blue I achieved. I used a regular non-edible ribbon at the bottom, and then used a star shaped attachment with a pastry bag along the outside of the ribbon. I sprinkled some sugar pearls on top, and using lollipop sticks, stuck the Hello Kitty toppers on. For the Hello Kitty toppers, I just used scrapbook paper, and stickers from Michael's. And of course a #7 candle to finish it off! 

Visit her site for the video tutorial and all sorts of other great tips and tricks! I followed her recipe and instructions to the T.  I think I may eventually get one of those cool frosting spatulas she uses, but I was very happy with how it turned out. I am still thinking about....cake! 

Happy Baking, and Happy Pinning!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to Refinish a Table, No Sanding!

Alright, I have had a few requests about our table after I did the fun cabinet, so here it is....How to refinish a table with NO sanding! This is the very first project I ever did and it has a special place in my heart. :) It kicked off several other projects and helped me realize that old pieces of furniture can be made new again. And not just new, but fabulous too!

I found this table at a garage sale for $30. Can you believe that?! It's solid maple and in great condition.  Its only flaw was a few scratches and that its color was faded and outdated. It was just what I had been looking for. So we hauled it home and then I contemplated all the things I could do...I decided to do distressed white with a grey/brown chalk board top. Pretty ambitious for a first timer! And I was about to learn a few lessons. Ha!

Lesson #1: Spray evenly and allow each coat to dry. I used a spray primer/paint in one. It was the Rustoleum Brand Universal paint and primer from Lowe's.(pictured below). It makes a big project like this SO much easier and faster! Like days faster. But you need to evenly coat and then let it dry or it drips and cakes. If this happens, you're "no sanding" project all of a sudden has sanding. Ha!

Lesson #2: Don't skimp and go for the cheaper spray paints! I did this on another project and spent twice as much because you  get what you pay for! Nightmares just thinking about it! lol. Trust me on this one!

Lesson #3: Don't panic if it doesn't go perfectly at first. I distressed mine for a shabby look and used a little square of sand paper to take off paint in areas. If I got too much off, I would lightly spray a little over again. There, all better!

Lesson #4: Top coat! Top coat!  Top coat! Cannot stress this enough for furniture that is going to take a beating. Dining room tables or coffee/end tables are going to get hit, kicked, spilled on, etc. Top coat! Make sure you use several coats and let them dry. Top coats harden to ensure your paint stays safe underneath!

Lesson #5: Not all top coats are the same! Most oil based top coats dry with a yellow tint. Not good for a white project! and they are super sticky!!! I started with one and in five seconds realized it was a problem and tried to take it off with a damp rag.  The good news was I got it off in time. The bad news was it coated my hands for 2 days, even after a long soak in acetone! Use a water based polycrylic like MinWax. Its not sticky and dries crystal clear.

I did this project back in July and it is now January.  I have had no problems with chipping, flaking, or anything like that. I did use chalk board paint on top so I am careful to use pot holders and place mats so that it doesn't bubble from the heat. It's the only part that is not top coated, but it has been quite sturdy. It has held up to my son who bangs on it, rolls cars on it, and wipes his food on it. Ha!

Original Pin:

So here's my how to:

1) Rust-Oleum Universal Paint and Primer all in one-White.($6 each at Lowe's)
2) A fine-grain sand paper block if distressing.($2)
3) Medium size angled paint brush($2)
4) Small paint roller.($3)
5) MinWax Polycrylic Clear Top Coat.($15)--This dries crystal clear!
6) Chalk board paint. --I used Martha Stewart brand from Michael's ($5.99)
7) Damp rag

1) Find that piece of furniture that inspires you! This is BEFORE.

2) With a damp rag, wipe down all the pieces to make sure they are clean and free of dirt, food, dust, etc.
3) In a well ventilated area(I suggest outdoors!), use your Rust-Oleum Universal paint and primer in one. Use as directed!! Spray at enough distance that the paint does not drip, but that it is coating evenly(12 inches or so). 

4) Let each coat dry completely. Repeat. Make sure all areas are covered, even those nooks and crannies! You can see it would have been cute just solid white too!

5) If distressing, use a sand paper block of fine grain in areas that you want to make shabby.

6) Wipe down again to get all the paint dust off and make clean for top coat.
7) Using a brush, apply top coat. Let each coat dry completely. Use at least 3 to 4 coats on furniture that will be used frequently.

8) If doing the chalk board top: Using a small roller brush, paint the top with the chalk board paint. Let each coat dry. Use several coats for best results. To condition, rub chalk all over the top and then wipe off with damp cloth. Its ready to go!

Ta da!  This table took me a total of 3 days. I did about 2 coats of the spray primer/paint, about 4 coats of the top coat, and about 3 coats of the chalk paint. Follow paint instructions for drying times!

Our table is used everyday and we love it. Especially my daughter who loves to draw. Its a fun item in our house!

Hope this helps alleviate your fears of a big project! Happy Pinning!

If you liked this, you may also like How to Refinish Laminate furniture, No Sanding!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The BEST-EVER Chocolate Chip Cookies!

My sister is a chef and after eating her cuisines and baked goods, I get very spoiled! Then I get depressed because I am no where near the cook she is. Ha! I cannot duplicate her mouth watering meals and scrumptious desserts, but I think I just found a simple recipe that I can finally use to impress her on her next visit. And its so simple!  The Best-ever Chocolate Chip Cookies! 

I have tried so many recipes I could have my own book. And like us all, I have a go to recipe I generally use because its safe, but its not great. Then I stumbled upon this recipe(Thank you Pinterest!) and it changed my life! Okay, not literally, but it is by far the BEST chocolate chip recipe I have come across. They are so soft and chewy, and there is no way I can be left alone in the kitchen with them! If your idea of a perfect chocolate chip cookie is crisp and stale, please walk away now... Ha!

I have a few extra tips to add to her recipe....

1) I use an air bake cookie sheet. They are not expensive or anything. Just a type of sheet that has air inbetween its layers for the best baking possible. No big deal if you don't have one! Just experiment with your baking times depending on the color of your baking sheet. Those darker ones usually cook faster.

2) Assume your oven is hotter than it thinks it is. Reduce your cook time by a minute or two or heat it to 340 instead of 350. You run less risk of over-baking. However she has modified her bake time for us. I found her 8 minutes to be perfect for mine.

3) I rolled the dough into balls instead of using a scooper or spoon. Just seems to make a prettier cookie.

4) And lastly, I don't have a fun KitchenAide mixer or one like it. I just used a good ol' hand held mixer.

The original Pin:

She has a very cute site and many more recipes! Go take a look!

The recipe:

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 c. brown sugar 
1/4 c. granulated sugar 
1 egg 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 c. all purpose flour 
2 tsp. cornstarch 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Then add the egg and vanilla.  Mix well.

3.  Next, stir in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chunks. Please note that the dough may seem crumbly. That's okay! Keep mixing! Once rolled they form great! ( If it really is dry you may have under-measured the butter. Add  a little more, but don't use more than 1 cup in total.)

4.  Using a spoon or scoop to measure, roll dough into balls and drop onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (Please note that the tops will not brown. Do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)

5.  Let cool on the sheet or on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely. 

This recipe makes approx. 24 to 36 cookies depending on how big you like them. 

*Small warning! Do not eat even one if you're on a diet! It will be all over! Ha! Wear stretchy pants! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

DIY Dino Hoodie!

Am I the only one who loves making fun crafty gifts for the kids?? I will admit I am the worlds worst seamstress, but I saw this Pin for a Dino Hoodie over the summer and could not wait to do it! It was July at the time, and even here in Washington, far too warm for hoodies. For me, Fall could not come soon enough! I decided I would make it anyway and then give it to him at Christmas. So for 3 months I waited in high anticipation! He opened it up on Christmas morning, took a look and....threw it to the side totally uninterested. Ha! It was not a toy car or Mickey Mouse, but I knew he would be lookin cute in it whether he liked it or not. And he certainly did. :) I am happy to report it grew on him and he is now wearing it everywhere!

p.s. Did I mention this project cost me less than $10?!

The original Pin:

1) Hoodie (bought mine at Walmart for $8)
2) 4 sheets of felt, color of your choice(bought mine at Michaels for .10 cents a sheet)
3) Sewing machine if you have one (This is an easy sewing project that can be done by hand)
4) Needles and Thread
5) Scissors

How to:
1) Cut diamond shapes from the felt. They can be all the same size or you can switch it up with different sizes. Enough of them to go the length of the hoodie from head to "tail."
2) Pin each diamond down the center of the hoodie from front of hood to bottom of jacket.
3) Using your sewing machine, sew straight down over the centers of the diamonds.
4) Take each side of the diamonds and sew together along the edges so that now the shape is a triangle.

Ta Da! Dino hoodie!

The original Pin has photos of each step which are very helpful. You can also visit her blog for more embroidery, garden, and DIY ideas!

Hope everyone had a Happy Holiday and safe New Year!