sunburst mirror

Oh this project.  I’ve had all the materials to create a “sunburst mirror” for over a year now, but I’ve never mustered up the energy/brain power/desire to actually roll up my sleeves and create. So, a box of stuff has been gathering dust in our workroom for months and months.  Until last week!  When I finally decided to spread out a drop cloth (I’m always spreading out drop cloths, it seems) and make this darn thing!  I must admit, I had good reason to wait so long…the end result was good (thank goodness!), but holy moly, was this a brain melt!!! For me, at least.

If you decide to attempt this project–and I do recommend it because the outcome is good!–my advice to you is this: just go with it.  If things aren’t lining up perfectly, just do your best and trust that if you like the overall “look” of your sunburst shape, it will translate well to the wall upon which it’s hung!

Ok, so. You’ve probably seen mirrors like these over the past year or so…meaning I’m over a year late on the trend!  They are usually pretty expensive, but they are very cool (I think) and create a lot of impact hung on a wall.

ballard knock off mirror

I’ve read lots of how-to’s to make a DIY sunburst mirror (for around $20), and below are my adapted instructions.

What you’ll need:

Two wooden floral rings (mine were 18 and 12 inches), 2 packs of cedar shims (courtesy of your fave home improvement store), a mirror (mine was 10″ from Michaels), a hot glue gun, PLENTY of hot glue sticks, and some wood glue.

I began by laying out my shims.  I decided to create four different “lengths” of shims by staggering them along the two rings.  Seems simple enough, but brace yourself for the mind melt to occur in a few moments.

The first length “layer” of shims I lined up along the inner edge of the larger ring.

The second “layer” of shims I placed along the outer edge of the smaller ring.

Now here’s where it gets tricky.  The third and fourth “layers” I tried to stagger along the smaller ring.  Everything looked okay when I laid it out, but then I started to glue all the shims down (using my glue gun), and I just got so confused! I have no other explanation for it.  I thought it would be more formulaic (rectangular shims laid out along circular rings), but things didn’t all line up, causing me to have to overlap, eyeball, move, eyeball, move some more, until finally I screamed “I’m going insane!” and just went with it.  Maybe your eyes will not bug out like mine seemed to do.  Oh well, it turned out okay in the end, as you will see.

When I used up almost every glue stick I had affixing the shims to the rings, I was ready to attach the mirror to the center.  The hot glue gun worked well on the shims, I just ran into snags having to pull the shims off again and again, trying to re-align them to look right.  See “eyes bugging out” as previously stated.

(Sorry for the blurry pic.)  Remove plastic from the mirror (obvi), and glue down using wood glue–hot glue will dry too soon!

Allow ample time to dry (I used big books and free weights to weigh it down in place overnight).  Then it’s ready to hang!  You may decide to use a picture hanging kit, but Jason was able to hang it simply on a nail drilled into the wall.

We decided on a wall in our living room, that has been empty since taking plates down that had hung in our “old” living room.

Here it is!

I’ll admit, I did need reassurance from my husband and various friends I dragged in to show, but I am finally convinced that it doesn’t look totally wonky.  I’m actually very happy with it.  And hey, $20 for some wall art?  Can’t beat that with a stick.  Or shim.

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homemade crackers

It was so beautiful outside today!  After swinging herself silly at the park, Emmeline went down for a nice afternoon nap.

During her nap, I did what I do best: list-making.  I am a “to-do list” junkie.  Until I put pen to paper (or keys to keyboard?), I get this overwhelming “I’m going to forget everything I need to do!!!” feeling.  Making lists gives me a sense of calm, if only temporary! Then I’m bound to get stressed about something else, but that’s another story….

ANYWAY, my list du jour consisted of all the things I want to do in preparation for our Halloween party.  On that list was “make homemade crackers”.  Why, you ask?  Because I am a sucker for making things harder than they need to be?  Why drop $2 on a box of Wheat Thins when you can spend 2 hours making your own?

Why I really wanted to make crackers from scratch was because I needed ghost-shaped crackers to go along with my witchy dip I’ve planned, and until they sell ghost-shaped crackers at Safeway, I’m stuck doing it on my own!

The thought of making homemade crackers was a bit intimidating, until I found a recipe for Sea Salt & Pepper crackers on Lemons & Anchovies (a cute/interesting blog name, huh?).

Instead of waiting ’til the day before said party, like I normally do, I thought I’d take a crack at making a batch today and (hopefully) work out the kinks!  And hey, I had all the ingredients on hand!  Well, that is a fib.  I am out of sugar and just haven’t made it to the grocery store for more.  Thank goodness for Jason swiping a handful of sugar packets from Royal Farms the other night for me!  Very boughetto, people!  And in case you’re wondering, approx. 5 sugar packets = 1 Tbsp.

The recipe was surprisingly easy, and I’ve adapted it if you are crazy like me and don’t want to do regular squares.

Here it is:

Sea Salt and Pepper Crackers

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or 5 sugar packets)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Sea salt to sprinkle on top of dough
  • 2 turns black pepper from a peppermill plus more for sprinkling
  • 2/3 cup milk (my milk was sketchily close to its expiration date, so I used half&half and it worked fine! someone needs to go shopping!!!)
  • 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and pepper until combined.
  3. Add the pieces of chilled butter and process until the butter is no longer discernible in the mixture, a few seconds.
  4. With the food processor on, add the milk and process until the dough comes together.
  5. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes.
  6. Shape into a ball and cut in half.
  7. Roll out one half of dough on an inverted baking pan. I used a half sheet size pan and rolled out as thinly as I could until the dough came close to the edges of the pan.  Repeat for the second half.
     It is super important to get them thin, or they won’t seem very cracker-like! Like this thin:
  8. Sprinkle sea salt and more black pepper (like seen in above picture).
  9. Pierce the surface of the dough with a fork and score it with a knife into serving size pieces. Or, if you are cutting into particular shapes, use your cookie cutter, and peel the dough away from the cut pieces.  It pulled away very easily!
  10. Bake on the sheet pan for 10-12 minutes, making sure to rotate the pan halfway through the cooking time.  This is important or they will definitely burn around the edges!
  11. Take out of the oven and allow to rest on the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  12. Cut into serving pieces (if you’re doing boring squares).

They reminded me of a water cracker, but with a nice salty flavor.  Self-critique: I will definitely concentrate on getting them very thin…my first couple batches were too thick, and while they still tasted good, they were a bit chewy.

I think I will use my family as test subjects tonight, and serve them with some nice Trader Joe’s soup for dinner!

This is the point where I realize I didn’t actually cross anything off my to-do list.  “Do trial run of crackers” was not on there.  Oh well.  At least I have less anxiety about making them now!  Cracker anxiety… admit me to the nearest mental institution.

 

pillows!

Happy Wednesday!
Last week, my mom was kind enough to come up for a visit, to help me make pillows to coordinate with our re-done living room.

Always nice when you can bribe her with a cute granddaughter, too… 🙂

(If you’ll look closely at the picture above, you’ll see she’s drawn pink marker on her face.  That’s what happens when I hand her the only thing that will make her happy on a fussy day, then turn my attention to something else for a moment. Oops!)

Thank you to those who gave me input on the fabric swatches!  I decided on the grey geometric for sofa pillows, and the aqua chevron print for the chair pillow.  I wanted to bring in aqua–and I know chevron’s EVERYWHERE (read: as soon as I use it in my home it will probably go out of style within months), but I love it anyway & had to rep it somehow!

I used old feather pillow inserts (old meaning they were from the pillows I used in our “old” living room, purchased at Homegoods) and my mom helped me give them a new attitude!  And by help me, I mean she did the LION’S SHARE of the work.  Like 99% of it.  I am still learning the art of sewing and do not trust myself!  Plus, she can work twenty times faster.

Pictured above: a little girl up to no good, pajamas unbuttoned and flapping in the wind!

The pillow covers were created using straight seams on 3 sides, then hand-stitched along the fourth side after the form was inserted.

I feel like I could manage to make more on my own now, after having watched my mother very closely!

Aren’t they awesome?  I can brag because my mom made them!  I think she did a fabulous job.  They tie in our color scheme very nicely.  Thank you GG!

painted vase

Anthropologie, how I love you.  If I were Scrooge McDuck, I would buy 100% of my clothing (and most of my house wares) from your lovely, lovely store.

Every time I cross your threshold, it puts me in a good mood.  I take in a deep breath, smell your Volcano candle-scented air, then set on a resolved path straight toward your sale room.

Speaking of sale room, you will never see these vases in there.

I am sure you recognize them, and if you’re Anthro-obsessed like me, you might’ve noticed how they’ve been around for years and have never been marked down!  Not to say they’re astronomically priced (they range from $18-$28)…but I feel it’s rare in retail for one item to continue reappearing season after season, year after year, and never be put on sale!  But maybe I don’t understand retail.

I was lamenting this to my sister Hannah on a recent trip there. Bless her for actually listening to one of my rants, because she bought me this look-alike gem from Homegoods the other day!

For a whopping $6.99, she thought I could try to turn it into an Anthro-inspired piece!  I mean it’s of course cute as is, but why not try to improve?!

I thought I’d use colors to coordinate with our newly re-done living room.

Here’s what I came up with:

I used a couple coats of white spray paint all over.  Once that dried, three shades of grey acrylic paint (created by various combos of white + black + grey) gave the flower some definition.  Then a good coating of clear acrylic gloss spray returned it to its original lacquered look!

At the moment, it’s found a home in our entertainment center, which is itching to be painted white in the upcoming weeks!

Thank you, Hannah & Homegoods!

happy october!

Rabbit rabbit! Well, one day late.  That is a saying I learned from my husband’s family, said to each other on the first of each month.  I have no idea what it means, or its origination, but it has now become a tradition in our family too.  Jason and I try to beat each other to saying it on the 1st. I won this month.

Yay for October! I am so happy you’re here.  I love fall, but most especially, I love Halloweens.  (A shout out here to my dear friend Sarah, who taught me to say “Halloweens”.  You’ll have to ask her for the story, but I’ve also used that term ever since I met her.  And as a fellow Halloweens-o-phile, we were just discussing the other day how it now seems strange when people refer to it just as “Halloween”.) By the way, Sarah has a fantastic food blog you can find here.

Anyway! The start to October means Halloweens is just around the corner, and our annual (well, second year) party is just weeks away! I will certainly post about that, but in the meantime, I have a little recipe to share with you.

I love baking, but I’ve been very frustrated with it.  Lately, everything I bake seems to come out too dry, overdone, or underdone.  But that hasn’t stopped me! (What is that phrase about insanity? The act of doing the exact same thing over again, expecting a different result?) And yesterday, I experienced a bit of redemption.

Backstory: I was sitting in Goodyear waiting for my car’s oil to be changed, and was checking out the lovely magazine selection while simultaneously passing anything to Emmeline that would distract her….toys, Puffs, paper, styrofoam cups.  I probably looked like a top-notch mother to the other patrons (seriously woman? You can’t TEAR your eyes away from Ladies’ Home Journal for one moment to interact with your child?)  But in reality, I had found a great recipe, people!  And come on, she was just fine.  Seriously,  I think if you drew a face on a styrofoam cup it could sub in as a suitable babysitter, at least for an hour.

So, I found this recipe for apple cake, took pics of it instead of tearing it out (don’t you think that’s unfair?), with the intention of making it in the upcoming weeks.  Then witching hour (approximately 4-7ish pm, or however long before Dad gets home) struck, and I thought to myself, “I think I have all the ingredients, why not put her in her high chair and attempt to make this cake while she experiments with all the fun foods she can eat now?”  So, we had a grand old time, me mixing and baking while Emmeline snacked on string cheese, bread with peanut butter, and corn.  And by the way, isn’t it a great feeling when you happen to have all the ingredients on hand?!

Now, I have to brag a tiny bit– this cake turned out WONDERFULLY! It was delicious! Just the perfect amount of the “m” word (I can’t say it! Too gross!), sweet & cinnamon-y but not too rich, and the apples were a great consistency.  Jason was a fan, and I was so happy with the results I want to make it weekly! Well, that’s a tad excessive, but I definitely felt the recipe is worth sharing with you all.

This is also a tribute to my dear friend Katie (who happens to be an excellent baker), because she gave me both the bundt pan and apple corer I used in this recipe. 🙂

Apple Cake (recipe courtesy of Ladies’ Home Journal)

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar (Note: I ran out of white sugar! So I had to use approx 1 1/2 cups of white, 1/2 cup of light brown…and I will definitely do this from now on! It added great flour and wasn’t too rich.)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 lbs (3 large, or about 4.5 small) apples, peeled and diced into about 1/2 inch pieces.  (Note: they recommended about every apple species OTHER than the kind I had on hand–Mutsus, Winesaps, Empires, and Granny Smiths–but I used Gala and they were just as delish, I imagine! I also didn’t peel them first…certainly easier, and didn’t make a difference in my opinion.)
1 tbsp turbinado sugar (i.e. Sugar in the Raw)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
5 tsp milk

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan (or 10-inch tube pan), dust lightly with flour and tap out excess. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, 2 tsp cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  In an electric mixer cream together the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs on at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture.

4. Fold in apples.

5. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Combine remaining 1 tsp cinnamon and turbinado sugar, and sprinkle over cake.

6. Bake until top is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean (about an hr and 5 mins).

7. Allow cake to cool approx. 15 minutes before transferring to a plate right-side up; allow to cool completely.  Whisk together confectioners’ sugar & milk to make icing, drizzle over the cake.

We had it for dessert last night, Emmeline had it for breakfast this morning, Jason took a slice for lunch, and there’s still plenty left over!

(we’re still working on the whole table manners/wiping your mouth thing 😉 )

I think it was the perfect fall treat to celebrate the coziness that comes with cooler weather!