the not-so-ruffled skirt


A few days ago, I came across this tutorial on Craftaholics Anonymous.  A simple skirt with a super-cute ruffle on the bottom?  No zippers required?  Yes, please!

 I used fabric I had on hand (got it at Walmart on clearance a few years ago, actually), so all I needed to get was the elastic for the waistband.  The body of the skirt was so easy, but I ran into a snag with the ruffle for the bottom.  I tried it several different ways, but for the life of me I could not produce any kind of ruffle.  The thread would break when I pulled it, or my sewing machine would suddenly generate really jacked-up stitches, so after a long struggle (we're talking maybe a combined two hours over a couple of days!), I let it go.  I found leftover ribbon from my bathroom window valance and sewed it around the skirt, and added a little bow for where the ends of the ribbon overlapped in the front.  After that, I added the elastic and that's all there was to it!

So there you go.  The not-so-ruffled skirt.  I really like it.  Especially when paired with a $3.88 tank top from Walmart.   

And no, I have no problem coordinating with my bathroom window valance as long as I look cute doing it.

Linked up to Creations by Kara!


thrifty finds: decorative shelves

About a month ago I found a set of three shelves at Goodwill.

They were white and pretty scratched up...but for less than three dollars I figured I could fix them up a bit.

I wiped them down and then spray-painted them dark brown since I wasn't really digging the white color.  I had some issues with the paint bubbling up on the smallest shelf (I think maybe I held the can a little too close to the shelf while it was spraying), so I sanded it down once it was dry and added another coat.  You can still see it a little, but it's not bad.

Since I have no idea when I'll get around to hanging these up (which means, I have no idea when I'll get around to nagging my husband to help me hang them up!), I'll show you the finished product now.

Not too shabby.  And they definitely give me a good excuse to look for more cheap knick-knacks like this vase and candleholder (found at Goodwill and Ross, respectively).  I'll have to post another picture when they're all hung up!

Linking up with Creations by Kara and A Little Tipsy!


small changes...bigger results

So here are a few changes I've made in our home that are so quick and easy, they don't really warrant blog posts all to themselves!  For example, we have a key holder in our mudroom that I basically got for free (that's what happens when you stay in the same apartment for four years during school.  Roommates come and go, and usually when they go they leave some stuff!). 

I like it, but given the fact that brighter colors were appearing in that room in the form of hanging vases, a mail holder, and a frame, I decided to give it some love.  Spray paint was on sale at Hobby Lobby last week, so I got a great shade called "Lagoon" and sprayed a couple of coats on.

Much better.  And yes, it is odd that for a household with only two adults, we have this many keys.  And no, we are not custodians.  :o)

And then while I was at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago, I found these cute hangings for my kitchen.  They kind of complement the other vintage-y looking stuff I have in there, and the set of three was only a few bucks.

And lastly, a cute dry erase board.  Just grab a frame and a pretty piece of paper to put in it, get a dry-erase marker, and write right there on the glass.  Easy peasy.


I actually did this several months ago, but since that was before I had this blog, I figured I'd add it anyway.  I found several tutorials where you can do this with fabric, but I found it much easier just to cut a piece of scrapbook paper to fit in the frame instead.  Plus that way, I could easily switch it out for another piece if I wanted.  So much prettier than the standard white dry erase board.  I just make sure the Sharpie's are nowhere near this thing.  :o)


my first painting attempt

So we have this blank wall in our living room that's been bugging me.  But I couldn't find anything that I liked to put there, so I decided to take a whack at painting something myself.  Please note that while I consider myself a somewhat artistic person, painting is NOT my forte.  Or something I even do...at all.  Usually fabric or scrapbook paper are my media rather than brushes and paint.  But for this I decided to go outside the box.

About a month ago Michael's had all their canvases on sale so I got a double-pack of them for really cheap.  They also had acrylic paint on sale too....score.  I liked the pattern on the placemat pillows I made a few months ago, so that was my inspiration:

Of course my finished product looks a tad different, wouldn't you say?  :o)

I wanted to use other colors that were in the room, so that's why there's green and a little red in there too.  Plus I searched online on how to create that cool textured look rather than having a flat, boring canvas.  Turns out all you have to do is glob the paint on the canvas, and then paint over it once it's dry.  I did that yesterday to make sure that heavy layer of paint globs got a chance to completely try, and then painted this stuff today.  Here's a close-up of one of the paintings since it's hard to capture them with my camera:

I tried to use a variety of shades and brushstrokes to make it more interesting...hopefully I achieved that goal.  So although I will never be art gallery material, at least I have something to hang on my living room wall now.  :o)

Linked up to Creations by Kara!


eat your veggies: sweet potato "fries"

Yep, another sweet potato post.  But sweet potatoes are one of the few veggies my husband will eat, and our son pretty much loves them, so I try to use these whenever I can.  Here's a good recipe for oven-baked sweet potato fries that I use all the time.

The Ingredients.

2-3 sweet potatoes, depending on size (just eyeball it once you cut them up...if you think you need more, cut up another one!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cinnamon to taste

The Method.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray the foil with nonstick spray and then set aside.  Wash sweet potatoes, and peel if desired; we usually leave the skin on, but it gets kind of tough in some places so kids may not like them this way.  I usually peel them for my son once he's about to eat them.

Then the business of cutting the sweet potatoes into fries...kind of a trial and error thing.  You have to work with the shape of the potato (long, skinny potatoes work best), and that means there's really no tried-and-true method for cutting them.  I usually just make sure my fries are about 1/4 inch thick, and two to three inches long.  You can make them thicker if you want, but they might take longer to bake or else just be mushy.

Anyway, once you have all the fries cut, put them in a bowl and drizzle them with the olive oil.  Add in the salt, pepper, and cinnamon, and then shake the bowl around till all the fries are coated.  Empty them out onto the baking sheet and spread them out until they're in a single layer.  Bake for 20 minutes, stir them around, and then bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown and crusty around the edges.  Be sure to watch them at this point; they seem to go from "golden brown" to "black" pretty quickly!  Let cool for a few minutes, and then serve with ketchup.

You can eat these without much guilt since they're sweet potatoes (which is basically the BEST vegetable for you out there), they require very little oil, and they're baked instead of fried.  I've come to prefer these to regular fries (unless you're talking about the waffle fries from Chick-Fil-A.  No comparison there).  I hope you like them!


diaper box storage bins

If you're like me, you always hesitate before throwing away a perfectly good box.  And over the last eighteen months, this problem has gotten worse with a kid in diapers.  These boxes are great for storing outgrown clothes, but so far that's the only use I could find for them.

Then I saw this post on a blog called Positively Splendid.  Of course.  Turn those ugly boxes into something I could always use more of...storage bins!

Let me just say this before I continue...I rushed through this project so it's not my best work.  If I had been more careful and took my time, they may have ended up as pretty as the ones on the other blog.  But really, the main place that needs storage options right now is our guest room closet:

Um yeah.  Hideous.  One day we will invest in some more shelving, but for now this is what we have to work with.  So I figured I'd make a couple of these storage bins and see what happened.  And the fact they were going to go up on a closet shelf made my approach to this project kind of lax and "who cares."  :o)

First, I found a couple of diaper boxes.  Then rather than spend a lot of money on canvas fabric, I paid around nine bucks for a canvas dropcloth instead.  I still have tons of it left and I didn't even buy the largest size they had, so it was a good investment.  I covered the boxes with the canvas using the instructions on the blog, and after doing so I realized a couple of things:

1.  Spray-on adhesive lets off fumes, so do it outside next time.
2.  As heavy as canvas is, the pictures on the box might still show through, so next time maybe cover them with white paper or something.  If you look very closely at mine, you can see very subtle outlines of a smiling baby and other tell-tale shapes of a diaper box.  But again, these were going to go up on a closet shelf.  No biggie.

So after I covered the outside of the boxes, I became very unmotivated to do the fabric lining.  Maybe because no matter how carefully I measured, my attempt at the lining didn't fit in the box right.  As a result, these went in the closet for a few weeks, and I almost threw them away.  Then last week I decided to just finish them, so I cut out strips of the fabric, sewed a hem down one side of each strip, and hot-glued them on.  And ended up with this.

I know, I know...you can still see the cardboard inside the boxes, and worse, you can see the ragged edges of the fabric strips.  As well as the crooked edges of the pockets I put in the front with leftover fabric.  But I don't care...they still hold stuff:

And they helped my closet look less like disaster zone:

Well that, and getting rid of some stuff...and I'm not even going to show you the bed in that room.  It may or may not still have a bunch of junk on it too.  It's a work in progress.

So now that I know how to make these, I might make another one for this closet.  We'll see.  :o)


"gone postal" picture frame

And yet another addition to my mudroom....using stamps from the same collection I used for the mail holder.  I actually started this project months ago, but never finished it.  The stamps were already Mod Podge'd onto the matte, so the other day I just spray-painted and distressed the frame a little more; I don't have a before picture, but the frame was a dark brown and just kinda boring.  :o)

As you can see, I don't have anything in the frame yet, but I liked how it looked so much I went ahead and hung it up next to my mail holder.  I like all the contrasting colors and pictures on the stamps and how they all stand out against the color of the frame.

I also added a simple plaque I found on clearance at Michael's for less than two bucks.  The hangers on the back were lopsided (perhaps the reason why it was on clearance!), so I used more twine to hang it up instead.

See now I just need to find something to put in there and then we'll really be in business.  :o)

Linking up to Creations by Kara!


eat your veggies: sweet potato pancakes

So my toddler has unknowingly eaten carrots, squash, zucchini, and sweet potatoes this week.  He's actually a very good eater for someone his age, but he gets a little picky with the veggies sometimes.  Since he has a weakness for anything in bread form, I've been sneaking veggie purees into muffins, breads, and pancakes.  I've borrowed heavily from the cookbook Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld, and so far her recipes have worked out great for me.  Except one.

Her sweet potato pancakes look wonderful in the picture, complete with syrup dripping down the sides.  And somehow she accomplished this using just pancake mix, water, sweet potato puree, and cinnamon.  Not sure how she got her pancakes to be so fluffy and yummy-looking without using eggs or milk.  Let's just say my first batch of pancakes looked nothing like the picture in the cookbook.  They actually looked like this.

Aren't you proud of me for sharing this ultimate FAIL with you?  :o)

I still had enough sweet potato puree for another batch, so I took a deep breath, scraped the gooey remains of the first batch off our griddle, and experimented a bit.  {How's this for funny.  My kid still ate a couple of the "ruined" pancakes.  I figured since there were no eggs in them there really wasn't anything in there that could harm him if he ate them like that.  He thought they were good.  Go figure.}  And as luck would have it, the second batch came out great.  Here it is!

The Ingredients.
1 cup pancake mix (I used Aunt Jemima's Whole Wheat Blend pancake mix to get some whole grains in there)
1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk)
1 egg
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1/4 cup water
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon (to taste)

The Method.
Preheat your skillet or griddle to medium-high heat.  Mix all of the ingredients together until combined.  Coat the skillet or griddle with oil or nonstick spray, and begin to spoon the batter onto it using a 1/4 cup measure.  Cook for 3 minutes, or until bubbles start to form and the edges are firm.  Flip the pancakes and cook for another 3 minutes on the second side.  Repeat with the remaining batter.  Server with an additional sprinkle of cinnamon or a little syrup.

Note:  I actually had our griddle up pretty high, and I think it took my pancakes longer than 3 minutes per side to cook.  This batter tends to be thicker than most pancake batters because of the sweet potato puree, so that might have been why.  You may want to add a little more water to the batter until it's the consistency you like, and also play around with the temperature and cooking time since it may vary.

I thought these tasted very good.  And using pancake mix as a base made them really easy to make.  I kept a few out for breakfast tomorrow, and put the rest in the freezer.  Along with zucchini-blueberry bread slices.  And peanut butter and jelly muffins with carrot puree.  And applesauce muffins with squash puree.  Sneaky sneaky.  :o)


thrifty finds: mail holder

So I needed a place to put our outgoing mail...preferably out of my kid's reach.  I found this beat-up mail holder at Goodwill recently and thought I could fix it up a bit.

First, I cut off the ratty piece of leather that the previous owners had used to hang the holder up.  Then I spray-painted it with the leftover yellow paint that I had used on the hanging flower frames.

And yes, that is in fact the worst spray-painting job ever.  I successfully painted every single nook and cranny, but that made for some uneven spots and drips.  But I pretty much wanted a distressed look for this piece too, so I didn't worry about it too much.

Once the yellow paint dried, I lightly brushed on some brown paint and then used an old rag to wipe some of it off as I went.  I kept doing this until I had the look I was going for.

Then once that dried, I debated about what to do with the top of the holder (luckily the paint had covered up the cheesy farm scene completely).  I remembered I now have my oldest sister's childhood stamp collection (thanks, Sharon!).  I got them from my parents' house a few years ago since no one else had wanted them.  Since this holder was for mail, I figured stamps would work great as a simple decoration.  I dug through all of them and played around with the layout for awhile.  Once I had the layout I wanted, I used Mod Podge to stick the stamps down, and then put another layer of Mod Podge on top to seal everything.

I know that one that says "use zip code" isn't really a stamp, but I still had to use it.  :o)

Once everything dried, I hung it up in my mudroom, which unfortunately has horrible lighting so this is the best picture I could get of it.

So I love it.  The holder only cost me a little over two dollars, and I already had the paint and Mod Podge from other projects.  And of course I still have a ton of stamps so this may not be the last thing I use them for.  :o)

Linking up to Creations by Kara and A Little Tipsy!


thrifty finds: hanging flower frames

We have a small "mudroom" right off of our garage that needed some brightening up (as well as something to take one's attention off the fact that the walls in there badly need a fresh coat of paint!).  I found this idea over at a blog called Flamingo Toes and thought it was the cutest thing.

My mom just gave me a huge stash of old frames, so I dug out a few I liked.

Then I spray-painted them yellow to make them nice and cheerful-looking.

My original plan was to distress the frames once they had a couple of coats of paint on them (kind of like what the author of the blog did), but since I didn't use primer on these frames before I painted them, I ended up getting the distressed look I wanted with just one coat of the yellow.  Which meant less time on the back porch exposing myself to spray-paint fumes.  Awesome.

Then I grabbed some twine we had in the house and followed the directions on the blog in order to tie the vases to the frames.  I hung the frames on the wall (they're just resting on the nails), and then stuck some flowers in!

The author used fresh flowers, but I went with silk so I wouldn't have to worry about cleaning out the vases when they got gross.  The vases were all from Hobby Lobby's clearance section, so they were about a dollar each.  And the flowers were 50% off at Hobby Lobby this week so I snagged those too...they came in a bunch so I have most of them leftover for another project.

So now our mudroom is just a bit more cheerful.  This flower display will be the first thing I see whenever I walk in from the garage, so that makes me happy.  :o)


kitchen valance

And yet another valance...this time in the kitchen.  This window is right above the sink and in between some cabinets, so I got a tension rod and hung the valance up that way.  I just have to give you a close-up of this fabric....

Maybe it's not your style, but I LOVE IT.  I found it at Fabric.com, and while I usually don't buy fabric online (something about paying extra for shipping just makes me feel like it's not worth it about 90% of the time), I saw this a few months ago and really wanted it.  I have more leftover, so I might make a runner for the island in the kitchen, and maybe embellish some towels.  We'll see.  I love how some of the apples have an "A" on them.  I'm sure it's an "A is for apple" kind of thing, but I'll just pretend that it's an "A is for Anne" kind of thing instead.  :o)

Thanks for reading!

quick valances

My husband is out of town this week, so I'm trying to be super-productive while he's gone.  I finally got around to making valances for our bedroom windows:

Isn't that fabric pretty?  I found it at Hobby Lobby a couple of months ago.  It was on clearance for $4 a yard, which is a very good price considering the fact that it's heavier, home decor-weight kind of fabric.  I went ahead and got the remaining 3 yards on the bolt since I liked it so much.  I made two of these valances, lined them with brown broadcloth, and added a wide brown ribbon to the bottom to make them more interesting.

Since I was on a roll with the sewing, I also made a valance for our bathroom window, which I absolutely LOVE.

This one's made out of cotton fabric from Jo-Ann, and I found the ribbon at Michael's; if you look closely, you can see little blue dots on each side that complement the blue in the fabric.  And I'm sure if you look really closely you can tell that my seams aren't the straightest and the bottom might be a tad crooked.  But I don't care.  Valances are very forgiving in that respect.  And they are good for a house with a toddler since they are WAY out of his reach.  :o)

I also made one for my kitchen; as soon as I get it hung up I'll show you how it looks!
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