Monday, March 30, 2015

DIY Fabric Flower Wreath

Although we still have plenty of snow on the ground, it's officially spring! Last weekend, I was more than ready to swap out some of my winter decor for some colorful spring things, and finally got around to making the bright and cheery spring wreath I had been dreaming up for a few weeks.
I had a forsythia wreath to hang on the front door. I think the bright yellow pops against the dark green, and the yellow and green ribbon is a pefect match. 

On one of our interior doors, I hung this one. I love the bright colors, and the different textures of the flowers. Some fabrics are printed, some are solid. It's a bit eclectic, but is awfully fun!

I promised to post directions for how to make this, so I won't let you down! I should note that I used pins to secure everything. This is in part because I was feeling lazy and wanted to sit on the living room floor in front of some DVR while I got my craft on, and in part because I like the idea of being able to change some or all of it if I want to in the future.

First, I wrapped my wreath form with some strips of fabric. I had purchased this fabric for another project, and so I had some leftover. I love the bright blue color, and the print was forgiving enough for a project like this. Just a note- if you're using a straw wreath form like I did, leave it wrapped in plastic and save yourself a big, giant mess! (I've said it before, take it from someone who learned the hard- and messy!- way!)

I didn't mind the look, so I actually ripped the fabric into 2 and 1/2 inch strips (ish- I just eyeballed it). It helped to snip the fabric at the top, so it was easier to rip. Next, I pinned it into the back of the wreath and got wrapping.

Once I got to the end of the fabric strip, I pinned it to the wreath in the back, and started the next one. This part is really based on personal preference. I did not worry about lining the print of my fabric up, I just went along until it was covered.
After the wreath is wrapped, you could leave it as is, tie a bow on it, and call it a day if you wanted. I love a wreath with a big bow. I actually love pretty much anything with a big bow, thanks to my former life as a cheerleader.
I decided to play with some fabric flowers on my wreath. I had felt leftover from my Valentine's Day heart garland, and had grabbed some fat quarters in a few different fabrics that I loved during my last trip to the craft store, so I was armed with a plethora of choices. This time around, I decided to go with the bright and colorful look, vs. choosing a couple of fabrics to repeat, but you can certainly do whatever makes you happiest.
If you need help making fabric flowers, here are some ideas...
Pom-Pom Flower:
This pompom- style flower is simple! Cut a strip of felt about 2" wide, and snip it almost all the way through, in small increments all the way down the line, so it looks like fringe. Next, roll it up! I ended up with a very tall flower, so I actually trimmed off some of the top to make it flatter, so it would sit better on the wreath. Secure it with hot glue or a pin.
Loop Flower:
This loop flower is similar, but you fold a wider strip of felt instead. This felt strip is probably 3" wide or so, folded in half, and snipped almost all the way through. When you unfold it, the slits are just down the center of the felt. See above for a photo. Next, roll it up, and secure it.
Felt and Fabric Roses:
The felt roses are also pretty easy. Cut your felt into an oval or circle. This is half a sheet of felt cut into an oval. I chose oval just because less is wasted, and I don't know that it makes a difference in the long run. Cut the felt into a spiral, and once you get to the center, snip off the "corner" that ends up being created (I don't think this happens if you use a circle). If you have no idea what I'm talking about, look at the first picture. See the little piece missing? That's what I mean... It's hard to explain. :)
Next, start rolling, going from the outside in. I tend to fold the tip of the spiral over, just to get it started more easily. Once you get to the end, fold the bottom under. If you were hot gluing the flowers together, you'd add glue to the flap on the bottom, and press it against the bottom of the rolled flower to secure it. Otherwise, you can pin it. If any parts of the bottom are sticking out, like you can see on mine above, just trim them with scissors. No big deal!

This ruffley rose is very similar. I used the same technique, just making the outer edge of the spiral wavy, to create some more petals. If you want it to be even more textured, cut your whole spiral to be wavy, which is how I made the white felt rose.
Fabric roses are not difficult either. Just twist the end of a 3" wide fabric strip and wrap it around itself as you go. I held the center with one hand and just twisted and wrapped until the fabric was all rolled. You could secure this with glue, and then glue it onto a circle of the same fabric, to make it extra sturdy. If I was making an accessory like a headband or pin, I would definitely do this, but the wreath isn't going to get any wear and tear, so I didn't bother. It sometimes takes me a couple of tries to get these flowers just right, but it's just twisting and wrapping, so it's not a big deal to try again if you're not happy with the original outcome.
Next, assemble your wreath! I tried to vary my fabric, flower technique, and color, so two similar flowers weren't next to each other.
Last, I took some more yellow fabric and looped it through the wreath, and tied off for a way to hang it. I thought about making a more complicated bow, but felt like there was already enough going on, and went for a simpler look in the end.
I love how it came out! It's different than other wreaths I have, and certainly adds some brightness to our hallway. It was a great way to use some of the felt and fabric we had already, and create something new for spring!
Have you done any crafting lately? Please share!
Have a great week, friends!
PS: If you like this wreath, you might like this Argyle Heart Wreath, too!
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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Weekend Wrap-Up: Goodbye, March!

Happy Sunday, everyone! How was your week? Things have been busy in our house with lots of indoor baseball conditioning for Rich and his team, grad school and preschool for me, and...sleeping for Lucy. :)

This week, I was thankful for some warm afternoon weather and took the opportunity to get Lucy out for a much needed walk. After school walks are such a calming way to end the day for me, and it gives her a chance to get out and see the world a bit. We both love that sunshine!

Here's a snapshot of our weekend:

Going clockwise, Rich picked up my favorite whoopie pies from a local food shop today- so yummy! Today was a long day of grad work for me. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to go back to school, but also so ready for a break after this course ends! He knew just the thing to round out a hard day's work.

We are loving this new mug we found last weekend, while out doing errands. It says, "Who rescued who?", and we can't agree with that sentiment more! Lucy has brought us so much joy and love. :)

Our weekend included a first birthday party for the adorable daughter of friends of ours. It was great to see them, and fun to watch her enjoy her first party!

Today, Rich made waffles from scratch for breakfast, which were awesome. We definitely don't use our waffle iron enough!

Some of the flowers from the floral arranging class I took a few weeks ago are still going strong. I can't believe it, but love having fresh flowers on our counter! I will have to pick up some replacements when they're gone.

So... what did you do this weekend? Did you enjoy any yummy treats? Any recommendations for long-lasting fresh flowers to try?

Have a great Monday, everyone!



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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekend Wrap-Up: a Lunch Date, Some Baking, and a Spring Wreath!

Happy Sunday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! It's been another cold weekend, so we've been mostly staying warm inside.

Yesterday, we went out to lunch at one of our favorite nearby spots. It's right on the water, and I love the view! The houses along the road closeby are some of my favorites, so I had to snap a photo on our way by.

We spent the night at home, with a movie and the woodstove fire going. I baked some soft chocolate chip cookies, too, which really was the icing on my cake. Perfect chilly evening in my book!

Today was a mix of productivity and creativity. I (gulp) finally took down the Valentine's Day decorations this weekend, and set out some more springy decor. It's hard to feel like spring makes any sense, with the flurries outside, and at times today below zero windchill, but I'm hoping for it anyway!

I updated one of our chalkboards, and set it out with a vintage ball jar with some spring colored sprigs, and the new ceramic pitcher I found on clearance at TJMaxx this weekend. I just can't resist that beautiful color! I'm hoping to find some pretty faux blooms to put inside.

I changed out our front door wreath, opting for a sunny yellow forsythia one.

I've had making a new, colorful wreath on my to do list for a few weeks, and finally got a couple of hours to do it! I will write a post about how I made it, but here's a sneak peek.

I love how bright and cheery it is! It's a different look than other wreaths I've made, but I wanted to play with some of the felt and fabric I had around and create something colorful. :)

Of course, this lovey enjoyed her weekend by finding sunny spots to lay, or curling up by the fire. It's pretty much her winter status quo.

How was your weekend? What did you do? Did you get any crafting done? I'd love to hear!

Have a great week! In case you missed it, check out the most recent Things We're Loving Lately.



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Friday, March 20, 2015

Things We're Loving Lately: Nest Protect, Sistema Containers, AsianSalad, and more!

This week, I wanted to share some more of the things we love! I'm a firm believer in leaving good reviews, and spreading the positive word when it's deserved. All too often, people only share negative experiences! I always look for positive comments and recommendations from people who have loved a product.

First up is our Nest Protect smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. We installed a woodstove in our house in December, and I was pretty adamant about ensuring that we had our safety bases covered 3 times over. Rich found the Nest Protect online, and ordered it right away. Basically, it's a smoke and CO2 detector, either battery powered or hard-wire capable, which can warn you of it gets a hint of smoke or a lot, via talking out loud, alarm, and smartphone notifications.

Using your WiFi, you can connect to the free Nest app on your smartphone, and it will alert you via notification if there is an issue. For us, since Rich works super close to home, if there was an issue, he could rush home to take care of it. I like the idea that we know things are okay while we're away, by checking in with the app. It lets you know that everything is as it should be.

In the interest of full disclosure, it took a while for us to make this work well. We initially installed it at the top of our stairs, which is close to the bathroom door. It went off frequently while we were showering, even though we had supposedly set it up to recognize that it would be near steam and to not confuse steam with smoke. Rich ended up moving it downstairs, and going off without reason was still an issue. (No other dectectors in the house- smoke or CO2- were going off). We had read some mixed reviews online, and this seemed to be a common issue. Many people suggested sending it back and getting a new one sent. Rich called Nest, and was pleased with the customer service. They sent a new one with no issue, and it has been much more well behaved! We'd had no issues, and it is giving us, me especially as the family worrywart, tons of peace of mind. Our dog, Lucy, is terrified of the smoke detectors going off, so I would hate to have them go off while we were gone and us not know for hours. This way, we are assured that all is well!

Some other things I'm loving lately are my Sistema To Go lunch and snack containers. They are BPA free, dishwasher safe, and perfect for lunch! I love my Pyrex containers, but glass is heavy and, obviously, breakable, so we use it more at home. I have a few different Sistema containers, and use them all the time! I use the salad container, the two-part container, and the two cup container each almost every day. I love the bright colors, and they've held up really well over time.
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Speaking of salad, I've been really into Asian-inspired salad lately! What we make is loosely based on this recipe on Pinterest.  I'll have to post our version sometime!

I love salads at lunch time, and this is my recent favorite for sure. It is made up of lettuce, cabbage (I often use both purple and green), an Asain ginger soy dressing, and crunchy chow mein noodles. If you want to add some protein, it's great with grilled chicken or leftover breaded chicken. We often toss in pepper slices or other veggies we need to use up from our produce drawer, too. Yum!

Since we're talking about food, another thing I'm really into is our EkoBrew reusable K-cup. We love our Keurig brewer, and the customization it allows. Because we like to drink different coffee (I prefer light roasts, and Rich prefers dark), it works well for us. What I don't like is the waste that comes with K-cups, not to mention the expense. I felt guilty spending so much on coffee, and throwing away a cup or two per person per day (since they are still not recyclable). We tried using the reusable cup which came with the Keurig, but didn't think it worked well. After doing some research, we found and ordered the EkoBrew, and it's perfect for what we need! You can spoon in however much coffee you'd like (you can experiment with how much you need for the size cup you want, and strength of flavor you're going for), and pop it right in the Keurig. When finished, it's easy to dump out the used ground and then rinse the cup in the sink. Yes, it's an extra step, but it takes all of 30 seconds. Our EkoBrew cup gets tons of use, and has held up really well. We can choose whatever coffee we want, it's much less expensive, and we're not creating the waste we were before. If you have a Keurig, I can't recommend this enough! As a disclaimer, make sure if you have a newer Keurig, you purchase a compatible cup, our machine is a few years old, and this cup works for us.

Finally, I'm really into the days getting longer! It is so nice to leave school in the sunshine, and as soon as this crazy cold spell is over, I can't wait to get Lucy out for evening walks again! It's been really cold and super windy here this week, but hopefully soon, it will be at least tolerable. After all, that's moving in the right direction toward Spring weather! 

So, what's Rich loving lately? Sour Skittles. He's always been a Skittles fan, but especially loves the sour ones right now.

He's also really into baseball! Rich is beginning the baseball season, and is coaching at his high school (if you're keeping track, it's the third sport this year!) It's been a few years since he has coached baseball, and he is excited to get back into it! I'm looking forward to sunshine and watching his team play, but there are a couple of feet of snow that need to melt before that can happen! They have a beautiful field, and I'm excited for the season!

What are you really into right now? Let me know in the comments below- I'd love to scope it out! Have a great Friday! Happy first day of Spring, as well!

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekend Wrap-Up, etc.: Cheer Reminiscing and Date Night

Hi everyone!
I hope you all had a nice weekend! Yesterday was a productive Saturday, ending with some puppy snuggles and dinner out for some delicious Mexican food. If you know me, you know I love Mexican food, so chips and salsa and tacos were the perfect dinner after a super busy week in preschool and a productive day. Yum!

Every year, my mom, my sister, my best friend from high school, and her mom and I plan a girls' day to go the NH Cheer Finals. I cheered from junior high through most of college, and cheer was definitely my favorite sport. This year, my friend, Jillian, couldn't go, but we love to support our high school team and see how good our bleacher judging skills are. Really, it's just a fun day for us!

We got brunch beforehand at a delicious French restaurant, where they make some amazing crepes! I chose chocolate chip strawberry, but... uh... devoured it before I remembered that I wanted to take a picture. Fortunately, my sister is less impulsive and thinks of these things before she digs in.

Also, I thought it was a perfect day to wear my bow earrings- any former cheerleader understands the love for a good bow! Lastly, they sold Italian ice there, and you know I love a good frozen dessert. :)

We had such a fun day! The one not-so-fun part of the day was getting another snow storm. In case you can't tell, we're pretty much ready for Spring in New England. Any day now!

Unrelated to this weekend, earlier this week, I had the chance to take a quick floral design class. I left with a few tips for arranging blooms that I hope to use this summer with flowers from our garden. I love how flowers really brighten things up!

Anyway, how was your weekend? What was "your thing" in high school? Is it still a winter "wonderland" where you are?

In case you missed it, check out my tips for ripening and easily slicing fresh pineapple!

Have a great week!

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Slice It Up: How to Cut a Pineapple

Fresh pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. Pineapples are delicious, and friendly with their welcoming symbolism. I used to be intimidated by cutting them up, but buying pre-sliced pineapple can get pricey quickly. I vividly remember the first time I bought a fresh one, I had to google how on earth to attack it!

I cut up about one pineapple a week at our house, on average. I love to have all kinds of fruit on hand for healthy snacking, and to bring to school for lunch. Once you get the hang of it, slicing up a pineapple can be a quick and easy food prep job.  If you want to know how to cut a pineapple, look no further!

When I buy a fresh pineapple at the store, it is almost always underripe. I always set it upside down in a wide-mouth vase for a few days to let the sugars which have collected in the bottom disperse back through the fruit. It helps the whole pineapple ripen evenly so you don't get a crunchy top and overripe bottom. I sometimes have even left it for a week, if it's a green pineapple. This trick makes a huge difference! 

First, I start with a long, sharp serrated knife. This is technically a bread knife, I think, but I works perfectly. Lay the pineapple on its side and slice off the top and bottom, leaving a cylinder shape. 

Next, stand it up on a flat end, and slice off the outer bark? Rind? Skin? Scales? Anyone? Anyway, slice from top to bottom, curving around the pineapple which is typically bigger around in the middle. I slice off enough to take off most of the eyes, but not too much so I'm not throwing away the edible part.

Once you have a peeled pineapple, lay it back down on its side, and slice in half the long way (or the hot dog way, if you were in elementary school when I was ;) ).

Next, I slice in and at an angle to cut off a whole side of the pineapple half, and then again on the other side of the core. You'll be left with a triangular piece of harder core, which I toss. You don't need to cut much out of the center, but taking out that core is a good idea.

So, the triangular prism-shaped (nerd alert) piece in the middle is the core. See? Repeat this cutting process with the other half. 

Cut the pineapple into spears, and then into bite-size pieces.

Store in the refrigerator in a covered container. I like to shake the container gently every day or so to keep all of the fruit coated in the juice. This helps the fruit keep its moisture. I've found that pineapple lasts in the fridge for about a week. I have also found that it freezes well, to use later for smoothies or other recipes.

Serve chilled and enjoy! It seems like lots of steps, but my opinion is that it's worth it! I promise- it will get easier and easier the more you do it!

Do you have a favorite fresh pineapple recipe?  Any tips or tricks for easier fresh food prep? 
Have a great weekend!


Also, in case you missed it, check out this cinnamon applesauce mini muffin recipe from last weekend.  I made them again this week to bring to our school's staff breakfast- they were gone in a flash! 

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