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Quoth The Raven “Nevermore”

24 Oct

At my baby shower, one of the goodies I got to take home was a birdhouse. I picked a fancy Victorian style one with no plans of what to do with it. Then a few weeks age I was at Michael’s and it dawned upon me.

A haunted birdhouse.

My husband laughed when I told him about my idea. Sometimes he cannot see my visions of absurdity creativity.

In my defense, this is what happens when you are busy with grad school, analyzing just how Article 1, Section 8 of the constitution applies to discrimination (the answer is interstate commerce, my friends), and autumn creeps up on you to say, “HEY! Eat some damned pumpkin butter and do a craft already, loser!”

I picked up some Halloween themed Washi tape and stickers from Michael’s to help bring together my birdhouse. I had much of the paint at home from past projects.

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To start, I painted the entire birdhouse black.

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Next, I added a crackle coat (I did this last year on a reindeer) and then a top coat of gray on the walls of the birdhouse, which gave the house an aged effect. I left the roof black for the contrast and painted the bird openings yellow.

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Once the paint set, I went to town with the Washi tape. I added a fall foliage tree I picked up from Beverly’s and a little cobwebbing that I made from the stuffing of a gift box. I realized a few stickers go a long way, so I only used a few of what I picked up the other week.

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I think Edgar Allen Poe would be pleased.

Welcome Back

9 Oct

I’ve pretty much fallen off the face of the earth – at least when it comes to Teal and Tulle. It’s been a whirlwind of a month – starting my grad program, looking down the barrel of pending motherhood in another month, amongst other events and commitments. To get up to speed – let’s start back and work forwards.

Criminology Book Worm

I started my graduate program with UC Irvine last month. That involved a one week intensive in-person session followed up by the start of fall quarter with two classes (Legal Institutions & Society and Police, Courts, & Sentencing). It’s been a huge time commitment, but of the best kind. I’m in love with this program and would probably settle into a common law relationship with it if I wasn’t already committed to a real life human. He’s pretty awesome too.

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On my way to class.

Woodland Shower

I also had the world’s most amazing baby shower. Like, seriously. The best. I’ve never been to a nicer baby shower. I had so many friends and family come from all over the state – it was a really touching day.

My friends who put it together (Kristin, Jackie, Cassie & Lauren) didn’t miss one little detail. They crafted, you guys. CRAFTED. These are women who have much better things to do than fiddle with burlap, fabric, and a glue gun, but they did it for the baby shower. Amazing. They are simply the best friends a girl could have. Here are a couple of pictures (too many to post them all), courtesy of my friend Kristin. In case you don’t recognize me, I’m the ginormous orb of a human in stripes.

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My hosts!

Autumnal Surroundings

Autumn has finally set in. It’s an old hat in the blogging world – pumpkin spice lattes, crisper days, layers. Today it’s raining and it feels like the perfect day to kick off some fun holiday decor ideas. My oldest friend was in the state last week and we got together for a great shopping trip in the Bay Area. While up there, I picked up some fantastic card-stock cutouts of witches and pumpkins from Paper Source. Once home, I added some Washi tape to the witches hats and thin green ribbon bows to the pumpkins. I then hole punched each one and ran black tulle through the holes to create a garland for our staircase. The whole thing cost under $10.

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As for my extended absence – I can’t make any promises that I won’t go off the grid again in the near future (hello baby! and hello wine!), but I have some new fall craft ideas lined up for the rest of the month to keep myself sane.

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Dress(er) You Up With My Love

6 Sep

This week, Steve and I undertook a pretty hefty project (for us).

We bought an old oak dresser and refinished it.

Slap a little paint, drill some hardware, load ‘er up with clothes, and you’re good to go, right?

Oh no. This was an endeavor. As in, I lost my sh*t probably three times a night for an entire week kind of endeavor.

This post isn’t a tutorial on painting, because this project was a big learning experience for me. Mostly it’s a post to show everyone point A and point Z and nothing about how we got from one to the next.

Painting a large piece of furniture is a labor of hate love. You paint a coat, wait a day, sand/buff it out. Repeat. Four times.

Next is going through the meticulous process of attaching the hardware. Let me tell you – that is a lot tougher than it seems. There is a strong likelihood that you will throw at least one drawer and drill down the hallway in frustration. That’s a good time to stop working and have a Popsicle. Or if you aren’t suffering from constant sobriety, a hearty glass of wine.

All that being said, the final result was worth the hard work.

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Final result.

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Hardware pulls, Amerock brand, were purchased from Miner’s Hardware.

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This little handle was purchased from Anthropologie. Definitely worth the splurge of $12.

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Drawer liners are an inexpensive way to add a nice personal touch to your dresser. I found this and many other amazing patterns here.

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While I was at it, I put together a little storage cabinet to use too. I used the extra drawer liners to back the cubes that are exposed.

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I raided some items from my childhood to help stock the nursery. I’m sure the kid is going to LOVE outdated junk from the early 1980s. I mean, who wouldn’t?

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And our cat still seems to think the room is being redone just for him.

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Secure Your Serveware

30 Aug

Last week I went to a small get together with a few girlfriends. I volunteered to throw together a quick dessert for us to share (strawberries, homemade whipped cream, and angel food cake). As I was putting the dishes together for the drive over, I realized I didn’t want to stack the dishes out of fear that the bowl of strawberries would slide off the serving plate of cake it was sitting on.

Because like any other logical person, I figured I would share my “ah ha” moment here. I believe this could maybe be called a “life hack?” I dunno – just learned that term and feel super hip incorporating it into my blog.

ANYWAY… I realized I could use a 3M wall hanging sticker to adhere my strawberry bowl to the serving dish, eliminating any slipping or sliding during the drive to my friend’s house. It worked so well that I forgot it was holding the whole thing together until I was at home and my husband went to wash the dishes and noticed that the bowl was stuck to the platter.

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Peach and Pecan Muffins

27 Aug

Last week I posted a recipe for a rad summer salad. “Accidentally” having bought too many peaches and pecans, I thought what better way to use them than as ingredients for muffins!

Sometimes, you guys, I think I’m a genius.

Peach and Pecan Muffins

Ingredients
2 C all-purpose flour
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 C vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 C granulated sugar
2 C peeled, chopped peaches
1/2 C coarsely chopped toasted pecans (in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 325 degrees)

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan or line with muffin cup liners.

Mix your dry ingredients together. Set aside. With a mixer, beat the oil, sugar, eggs together. Blend the dry and wet mixes together. Stir in peaches and pecans.

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Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. Allow to cool and remove from the pan. Muffins will keep for about 3 days properly stored. I recommend baking all the muffins and then wrap up the majority of them for the freezer. That way, they are the muffiny gift that keeps on giving.

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Maternity Style – Summer to Fall

23 Aug

Being pregnant brings a whole new challenge to getting dressed every day.
You buy some key maternity pieces to get you though, but the trick is to make
parts of your old wardrobe work double duty.

Not all ok honestly most won’t of your pre-pregnancy items will make
the cut, but thanks to things like Bella Bands and the comfort of wedge
heels, you can manage to feel and look somewhat like your former self
(instead of the hog beast that you feel like the rest of the time).

Immediately below is my Polyvore interpretation of this outfit (I love this
blogger – she has a great style for maternity and post-maternity looks) and
below is me at 29 weeks.

Happy Friday. Have some wine for me.

Maternity Style - Summer to Fall

Vero Moda blue blazer
$59 – zalando.co.uk

Joe s Jeans clothing
$225 – zalando.co.uk

Made spike necklace
$55 – asos.com
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Arugula, Peach & Cheddar Salad

21 Aug

Here’s a tip – if anyone invites you to dinner and asks you to prepare a salad, you say “yes” and never look back.

Why? Because salads are one of the easiest items to bring to a dinner party. I usually go for appetizers or desserts because they feel creative and fun. Ends up a salad can be just as gratifying to prepare. As decadently fun to eat as this? Don’t be ridiculous.

I over bought on peaches and pecans for this recipe, which meant I made peach pecan muffins after. Look for that blog post, coming next week.

And thanks to Real Simple, this recipe was easy and delicious.

Arugula, Peach and Cheddar Salad, c/o Real Simple

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Ingredients

1/4 C pecans
3 TBSP olive oil
1 1/2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard1/2 tsp honey
kosher salt and black pepper
2 bunches arugula, rinsed
1 1/2 peaches (I increased this from the original recipe), sliced
2 oz sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into chunks

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle pecans onto baking sheet (with a lip) and bake for 4-5 minutes, or until nicely toasted. Allow to cool, then coarsely chop.

Mix together olive oil, vinegar, Dijon, honey, salt and pepper.

In a bowl, add arugula, peaches, pecans, and cheese. Dress with dressing and serve.

I took this salad to our friends’ home, which is about 30 minutes away. I put the salad into a serving dish, then packaged all the ingredients in their own Tupperware, to keep everything from becoming soft or wilted. Right before dinner was served, I quickly tossed the salad together.

Animal Instinct

15 Aug

As you have probably noticed over the past month or two, I have practically burned up my sewing machine’s motor with projects recently.

I decided it was time to transition to something that didn’t include fabric or needles or a pattern… wait a minute.

Dammit!

Ok, so embroidery has some of the same components as sewing, but it has been a welcome reprieve from sitting hunched over a sewing machine, stitching fabric together.

I downloaded this adorable pattern for the nursery and decided to make little animal portraits to frame and hang on the wall.

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I opted for a satin stitch instead of a traditional outlining stitch (like a split or back stitch). Here is a tutorial on how to do a satin stitch.

The project ended up coming out very well (for my first larger satin stitch endeavor). I had a few false starts (as in, I had to throw out and restart the fox three times – THREE times), but eventually got the kinks worked out. I would recommend outlining your work in a braided thread for a nice finished touch.

Don’t know how to embroider? Any pattern you pick up will include a quick lesson how to embroider and you’ll discover it’s incredibly easy.

Once finished, I used 8×10 frames and mats with a 5×7 opening. Frames and mats are from Michael’s.

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Baked Spicy Macaroni

12 Aug

I don’t know about anyone else, but when Sunday rolls around, I’m rarely prepared with a dinner dish in mind for that night. I’m still in weekend mode – and weekend mode does not include stops to the grocery store and slaving in the kitchen, let alone thinking about the upcoming week.

However, as my gram would say, sometimes you got to put on your big girl pants and deal with it (life? grocery store? not watching another Law and Order rerun?). So in my search for a good start to our dinner schedule, I found a pasta casserole dish from Giada DeLaurentiis. The dish seemed easy enough and tasty to boot. Annnnd, we weren’t disappointed. The meal was excellent and this dish will be making a regular rotation in our meals.

This dish makes enough for two meals – so be sure to freeze the leftovers for another night.

Baked Spicy Macaroni, c/o Giada Delaurentiis

Ingredients

1 lb elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
3 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb assorted mushrooms, quartered
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/2 C & 1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 C & 1/3 C grated Romano cheese2 TBSP butter, softened, plus 2 TBSP cold butter (cut into pieces)
12 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender, but still firm (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.

In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms and onion. Cook until mushrooms are tender and onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, spinach and red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes.

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In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs and 1/2 C each of Parmesan and Romano cheeses.

Take 2 TBSP of softened butter and spread on bottom of casserole dish. Sprinkle half of bread crumb/cheese mixture over butter.

Meanwhile, stir pasta, vegetable mix, nutmeg, and mozzarella cheese together. Add salt and pepper to taste.* Spoon into casserole dish and sprinkle remaining bread crumb/cheese mixture. Add remaining butter to top of dish.

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Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve.

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*I added some milk to the dish so there would be moisture in it as it baked.

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Cardboard Safari

8 Aug

Our nursery’s theme is something along the lines of woodland creatures. So far I’ve only been working on sewing projects for the space, so up to this point it looks like a showroom for my novice skillz.

Yeah, that’s right.

Skillz with a Z. Get over it.

Anyway, the room is in dire needs of wall art. I have a few ideas in mind, but while ruminating on those, I came across Cardboard Safari.

This little business makes animal busts out of cardboard that you assemble and hang on your wall. Talk about whimsical fun!

Image c/o Cardboard Safari

Image c/o Cardboard Safari

So, I ordered a small buck bust for the nursery. When it arrived, I assembled it and it seemed…. unfinished.

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I contemplated what to do. Do I cover it with paper? Do I decorate it with a bedazzler?

I eventually opted for the high-risk route of painting it.

Paint + cardboard = certain disaster, right?

At first, I felt like I made a huge mistake. As in, I almost threw the whole thing into the garbage a few times. Each side took three layers of paint, and I was certain the whole thing would turn out terribly.

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However, I stuck with it. Tenacity, am-I-right?

I’m glad I did – the project actually turned out pretty well.

The moisture of the paint did warp one or two of the cardboard pieces just a tiny bit (where they bowed in a certain direction), but that was straightened out once painting was finished and I reassembled the bust.

I think the final result adds a fun element to the nursery.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used Martha Stewart’s craft paint in Satin, color Surf.

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