Sunday, September 30, 2012

fall doily banner

This fall doily banner is the perfect fall touch. 

I bought a package of paper doilies in the shape of leaves from the Dollar Store ($1!). Paired with a red/tan checked thick ribbon from the dollar bin at Michaels ($1!) and some tan brads I had laying around in my scrapbooking supplies, a fall doily banner was born.

I don't have a mantle, so my shelf above my craft table had to do. I measured it out to determine how long the ribbon should be, and then I went from there. My brads poked through the ribbon easily, so I didn't need to worry about any of that beforehand. Starting in the very center of the strip of ribbon, I placed each leaf and secured them with a brad. Seven fit on the banner, and I think thirty came in the package, so plenty of more for other projects!

I think this banner is the perfect touch and addition, and makes me smile every time I look at it. I love that this will be able to stay up until Thanksgiving too. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

caramel apple cider

I confess that I am the girl who loves any warm drink come fall. Specialty coffees. Cocoas. You name it, I probably love it. There is just something about that feeling that a warm drink brings. 

I also am one of those girls who loves traditions. I am not necessarily a traditional girl, but someone who loves creating special memories that I make into traditions that I want to repeat all the time.

One of my fall traditions is hot caramel apple cider. (Is it possible to get more fall than that?) It's simple, not even elaborate, but I'm addicted. And it's tradition! Which makes it special. At least to me.

Hot Caramel Apple Cider

What You Need:
Apple cider
Whipped cream
Caramel sauce

I only ever make a cup at a time. I use my mug as a "measuring cup". I fill up my mug with the cold cider and then pour that amount of cider in a small saucepan. Put the saucepan on the stove and heat up the cider over low heat. Shake in a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and let the amazing aroma fill your kitchen! 

Once hot, remove from the stove and fill up your mug. Top with whipped cream and drizzle caramel sauce over top. 

Make some hot caramel apple cider, fill up your mug, and snuggle up on the couch. You deserve a little bit magical warm drink feeling. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

marshmallow crispy treats

Marshmallow crispy treats are the simplest treat, but somehow satisfy all cravings, especially as the weather gets cooler and all I want are sweet treats. This version is perfect. The added mini marshmallows really make it (instead of break it).

Marshmallow Crispy Treats

What You Need:
4 tablespoons butter
One bag of big marshmallows, 10 ounce size
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups rice cereal (about 1/2 a box of Rice Crispies)
One bag of mini marshmallows
Chocolate chips, to decorate
Halloween sprinkles, to decorate


Melt butter in large pot. Add large marshmallows and stir until completely melted. 

Add and stir in salt. Remove from heat. Pour in rice cereal and gently fold in. 

Once combined, add the mini marshmallows and gently fold in.

Pour mixture into buttered 9 x 13 pan. Gently push to flatten and smooth. 

Top with chocolate chips and sprinkles immediately. 

Let cool completely. Then cut into squares. Makes 12 large squares. 

I wrapped each individually in cling wrap, which is so perfect. (This limits me to only eating one instead of the whole pan at once!) This would be a fun treat to bring into work or have at Halloween parties. Just a little bit different--an easy treat with holiday flair. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

fall decor

Everybody loves a little holiday decor! Decorating really thrives in my household once fall hits, as it's the time of year that my heart really loves. Here's a few shots of decor in my apartment!

I keep these trees up all year long, as I love the twinkle. A little orange scroll-patterened ribbon and some unfinished Martha Stewart acorns painted and sparkled make for a fall fun tree!

I love this painting! I saw a similar pattern and painted it on the gift bag of a wedding gift for an upcoming wedding I'm attending. The floral pattern turned out so well, I decided to mimic it on a canvas. A little autumn splendor helps remind me why I love this season! I also crafted up these pumpkins last year found at Michaels. Crackled, glittered, and "boo" in buttons. 

You can see my paint chip artwork hanging in the dining room. They look perfect for fall, although the colors were chosen for the room, not for the season!

See the floral pattern on the gift bag? That's the wedding gift I was talking about. It'll be featured here soon, as I came up with another fun themed wedding gift!


Cozy and cute decorations all around. Once October hits, I will pull out the strictly Halloween decorations, which Jacob is more excited about than me, so I have a feeling he will take charge with all of that. :)

Anyways, welcome to my fall home. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

paint chip art

Doing something with paint chips was on my list for ages. I actually grabbed some and held onto them for four months. I loved the colors. I loved the idea (cheap art!). I just had no idea what to create. 

But then I did.

I got these fabulous plain wood frames from Michaels, and I decided they'd be perfect in our dining room. The colors worked well there too, but then I had to decide on a pattern. I decided to keep things simple, and go checkered with absolutely no pattern in sight. You can see little white spaces here and there, but I don't care. It was made with love!

First, I cut each paint strip into 1/2 inch strips, and then cut each of the strips into 1/2 inch cuts, resulting in 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch squares.


Once all the chips were separated by color, I got to work. I measured out a background paper that I could adhere the chips to. I measured my frames to determine that background size. Once I had my paper, I got to gluing! I just used straight up Elmer's glue and adhered the chips one by one in no particular fashion. I like the no-pattern look.

Once the pages were filled of paint chips (I made two of these!), I focused on the frames. They came unfinished, but I knew I needed to do something to them. 

I went with a "staining" like look and technique. I used chocolate brown acrylic paint and dabbed a small piece of paper towel in the paint. I then rubbed the paint into the wood. This allowed the paint to not be excessive and to really be soaked into the wood, giving a stained look. 

Combine it all together, and voila! Instant art. 

I love the way they look next to my painting I got from Italy (thanks Heather!). They really make a wonderful addition and really pop. Who knew art could be so cheap (but look so good)?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

how to make your own vanilla extract

I love to bake. Muffins, cookies, brownies, cakes. You name it, I love it. Probably because it's all fattening and sugary and rich. 

A few years ago on a cruise to Mexico, I was able to pick up some lovely, delicious vanilla extract. So pure and wholesome. Eventually, this happy story comes to an end when I ran out and had to buy some at the grocery store. 

I knew my story with vanilla extract would turn around when I decided to make my own. 

I'm making some for myself, and some as gifts for Christmas. Friends and family, I apologize now because you may very well be receiving some for Christmas. Pretend you didn't know and act excited. 

From what I've learned, the vanilla extract gets better with age, which is why I've already started it.

Now you'll need the following:
-containers to hold the extract 
-vanilla beans
-alcohol (my choice being vodka)

Seriously, how cute are these bottles? I chose a smaller size for gifting, but you could easily go with bigger. I found these at Hobby Lobby. 

With these bottles, (approximately 4-5 oz.) I used one vanilla bean per container. 

You take your vanilla bean and carefully cut into it lengthwise to open the bean up. You can choose to scrape the seeds out, but I chose to leave them in. 

Plop your single bean into your container. I bent my bean the opposite way I cut it. Essentially the cut portion  of the bean is facing outward for maximum possibility of the bean and the alcohol doing their thing. 

Now the fun part: add the alcohol. I chose vodka, and actually had to buy a few small bottles. If you plan on making quite a bit, just buy a large bottle. With the bean in place inside the container, add vodka to make sure bean is entirely covered. 

Once filled, close your container and store in a dark, cool place. My place of choice? A kitchen cupboard.  Let them sit and let the essence come alive. Whenever I open my cabinet, I shake the bottles to get things moving. They smell like extract already, but I know they will be better with time. From my research, two months is the sweet time. After that length of time, the extract should be nothing short of amazing. 

Amazing indeed. <3

Is it weird that I'm geeked to use this? I don't think so.

And as gifts, it's good to go just like this. I plan on leaving the bean in, because the flavor will only continue to grow stronger. And because it's cute!