Holiday Decorating

I’m gradually phasing out some of my holiday decorations. I have had the same stuff since I got my own apartment when I was 18…so 10 years. I have been given some things here and there but most of it doesn’t really match. My original stuff is bright colors like purple, turquoise, fuchsia, red and lime green. The majority of Christmas or holiday themed decorations don’t necessarily match those colors so there’s no style or cohesive theme. I have wanted to switch it up for a few years now but wasn’t sure how to start over without breaking the bank (the thought of shopping after Christmas sales gives me the willies).

Going forward I want something a bit more modern but since I do love glitter I’m keeping an element of glam just toned down a bit with neutral colors and elements of nature. I dare say I’ve come up with a new style I like to call Modern Rustic Glam (too much?).

This is just the beginning and I hope to complete some other projects before we go out of town next Friday.

I didn’t take step by step pictures (what’s new?) of the projects I did but I’ll explain for you after the pics. By the way, I did these “instastyle” with my phone because taking pictures with the good camera requires editing which takes too long (for today anyway). I know it’s lazy but I just don’t have time to do it right!

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The glittered votive holders are one of the simple and inexpensive projects I completed yesterday. I bought plain glass votive holders from Wal-Mart for 50 cents each and then with ModPodge and glitter I already had on hand I glitzed up the bottom 2/3 of them. VERY easy.

Another super simple project was the pine cones. I bought a $3 bag of plain pine cones from Wal-Mart and with the same glitter and modpodge I brushed the glue onto the tips of a few of them and sprinkled them with glitter.

The last project is the glittery reindeer on canvas. I painted a canvas black and then with a cut out reindeer silhouette (I snagged from google images) I modpodged the reindeer onto the canvas (after the paint was dry). I did a coat of mod podge over the whole canvas and let it dry then did just the reindeer and sprinkled on the glitter. Once that is dry you can use a spray sealer to keep your glitter from shedding.

I recommend doing all three of these projects in an airtight disposable room in order to avoid picking glitter off of EVERYTHING IN YOUR HOUSE for the next three years like I’ll be doing…

Tomorrow I’ll show you how I did the curtains in my dining room. Be prepared for amazement at the complexity and high price tag (jk, it’s super easy and cheap as usual!)

Happy Hump day! (sorry, I had to)

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DIY Leather Jewelry

I enjoy making jewelry. I love that I can have exactly what I want pretty much whenever I want it (impatient much?). As long as I can find the materials and the tools to manipulate them I’ll make it happen!

These are very simple and there are almost endless variations by changing materials, shapes, colors, finishes etc. I think that’s fantastic!

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Materials needed:

Scrap leather (or pleather if you choose)

closure (I used a lobster clasp)

metal chain

medium jump rings

leather punch (or, like me, a large embroidery needle, self healing mat and small hammer)

needle nose pliers and wire cutters (or jewelry pliers with the cutting thing)

earring hook things (don’t know what those things are called)

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I didn’t take step by step photos because this is pretty simple stuff.

Cut the leather in the shape(s) that you want. I did free-hand because I like the irregularities of handmade things but you could make a pattern by printing out some shapes from your computer.

Make small holes in the leather and insert jump rings where you need them.

For the necklace: just measure out the length you want and cut the chain into two pieces that put your leather piece where you want it. I did mine off center. Attach your clasp with jump rings.

For the earrings: I added a bit of chain and attached it along with the leather to the earring things.

See? Simple.

Just in case you are someone who doesn’t enjoy jewelry making like I do… visit my etsy shop where these items and more are available for purchase. During the month of December, for every $5 in purchases I am donating one item as a gift to women/girls that are victims of human trafficking. To learn more about the organization that handles the donations and the women that receive the gifts please email me!

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Sewing Machine Necklace (and a bonus Nowak Stir-fry)

I love to sew.

I also enjoy being able to make something that would otherwise never exist.

Enter, my 20 minute sewing machine necklace.

The inspiration for this came from a similar necklace I saw on Pinterest of a camera.

Buy it here on Etsy: MAKE PIE not war

It’s so adorable but I’m not a camera junkie (although I’m working on that so I can provide some better pictures for you guys). I googled for almost an hour trying to find a sewing machine that resembled it to no avail. When I finally admitted that what I wanted didn’t exist I decided to make one. Easy. Peasy. Right? 🙂

Actually, yes!

Here is what I used

Lobster clasp and jump rings, chain, 20 gauge wire, wire cutters, needle nose pliers, white spray paint, and crude drawing plans

Figure out your shape and draw it on scratch paper. I went with a bit of an older looking machine. Then draw it out in the size you want the necklace to be. I made the starting point where the needle would be and then just fiddled with the wire and pliers until I got it close enough. Then I clipped the wire, twisted it to secure and then did some more fiddling until I had it right. After that, I took it outside and spray painted it. This is not necessary if you have silver or gold wire and like it that way. All I had was copper and I didn’t like the way it looked. I figure if I get tired of the white I can paint it any color I want as many times as I want.

Now on to the bonus: Yummy Stir-fry…Nowak style

This is sort of a collaboration of my husband’s and mine. We received bok choy, broccoli and red bell peppers from the co-op this week so we were inspired to do a stir-fry since we already had all of the other ingredients on hand. We have made similar dishes before with a bit less luck (it always seems something is not quite right) though, we have never even bothered to seek out a recipe (not sure why??). What I’m telling you is that I don’t know if this is how a stir-fry is supposed to be made but this is how we made it and it was yum. I think the key to this one turning out was the little bit of cornstarch added to thicken up the sauce a bit. Bear with me because this has a lot of ingredients. So, here you go.

**Important note: This serves EIGHT. Enough for the four of us to eat a serving and then the rest was mixed together in a foil casserole dish, covered and put in the freezer. This is part of my current undertaking which I’m calling “operation-make-double-of-everything-and-put-half-in-the-freezer-in-order-to-avoid-fast-food-and-expensive-eating-out-during-Jonathan’s-football-season” (currently taking suggestions on a new name).

Supplies:

Wok

Steamer

Sauce Pan

Ingredients:

2 stalks (?) bok choy

3-4 broccoli crowns

1-2 carrots

1 large red bell pepper

1 medium onion (any)

3-5 cloves of garlic depending on size (smaller ones from the inside of the head are stronger so, 3 if they are small and 5 if they are large ones from the outside)

1 chunk of fresh ginger root (2-3 tbsp when minced)

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 cups of dry rice (I use jasmine but you can use any, really)

1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 Tbsp peanut oil

For the sauce:

1/2 cup mirin

3 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp Worcestershire (sp?)

1 Tbsp chile garlic sauce (this stuff)

1-2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup chicken stock

2-3 Tbsp corn starch

Spice Rub:

2 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp chinese 5 spice

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp clove

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Garnish:

3 green onion stalks

1 Tbsp black sesame seeds

1 Tbsp white sesame seeds

Ok. Whew! That’s long!

First:

Cut the florets from the broccoli crowns and get them going in the steamer. Then make your rice. For Jasmine it’s one part rice two parts water. Cook the broccoli until its just before tender as it will cook a bit more later.

Next:

Prep your other veggies. I did matchstick-ish cuts on the carrots but you could also just grate them. The pepper got a medium dice. The green onions I sliced on the bias. The big onion sliced in little inch long bits and the garlic and ginger was minced.

Meanwhile, Bo prepared the chicken breast by trimming and cutting it into bite sized pieces then seasoning with salt and pepper to taste and then the spice rub. Place it in a bowl and set aside.

Heat up your wok. Mix together all of the wet sauce ingredients and then whisk the cornstarch in until most of the lumps are gone.

Add the oils to the wok and allow to heat just until it starts to smoke then add the chicken. Cook the chicken through then add the bok choy, carrots, onions and bell pepper. Cook until almost tender then add the ginger and garlic and cook for just another minute or two. Add the broccoli and the sauce and cook just until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat.

Plate with rice on the bottom, spoon the stir-fry over and top with green onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Eat with chopsticks!

Please reprimand me in the comment section if I left something out or it doesn’t make sense…the little one is tugging at me saying “hold you, mommy. hold you?” so, gotta go!

**UPDATE**

I forgot to mention that you can regrow bok choy from the discarded end piece. Cut about 2 inches from the bottom and place it cut side up in a bowl of shallow water and in a spot that has some natural light. After a couple of days you can plant it in soil with the dirt coming up to just cover the original cut part with the new growth exposed. In a month or two it should be ready to harvest. You can then replant it as you did the first time. It’s an endless cycle!! See my “grow it” page for a list of other veg you can do this with.

Southwest Style Day Two: Jewelery Jewelery Jewelery!

Howdy! Hey, I know it’s late and you’ve been waiting for this all day (ok, maybe not) but, here it is.

Day two of my Southwest Style fiesta is all about jewelery. DIY jewelery to be exact.

I don’t have step by step pictures for you as I’ve been feverishly working on this stuff for the past two days with interruptions, snafus, material hunting and blisters (aaand gluing my fingers together 😦 ).

I’m going to give you a quick run-down of how these little beauties were made. And let me also disclaim that I realize this is not your traditional southwest jewelery. It’s my modern take after being inspired by searching the web.

Before you scroll down to read my secrets, try to guess what materials I used 🙂 you might be surprised.

1. Bronzy Feather Pendant

Materials used:

  • Chain, jump rings, lobster clasp and one of those long pieces of wire with the loop on the end for beads…I’m drawing a blank
  • homemade salt dough try this recipe from the lovely katy elliott
  • metallic brush markers in black and bronze
  • Pliers

I made the dough then shaped my feather then stuck in the bead thing. Once it was hardened (took about a week) I used the black marker to get into the nooks and crannys then several coats of the bronze. Attached a jump ring to the feather and one end of the chain, lobster clasp on other end and you’re done!

2. Suede Tassel Earrings

Materials used:

  • Two different colors of suede fringe (I got them at Wal-mart $1 for 8 ft)
  • Chain, two large jump rings and two small, earring thingamajig (man, I am on the ball tonight)
  • gorilla glue or some other fast drying glue that dries clear
  • wire cutters, pliers

I used two 8 inch lengths of turquoise suede and two 8 inch lengths of orange then cut four 4 inch lengths of chain. Line up one turquoise and one orange together then fold in half and knot onto one of the large jump rings. Attach two pieces of chain to a small jump ring and then attach that to the big one then attach to earring thing.

3, 4 and 5

All of these use the same materials:

  • Shoebox (yep!)
  • chain, jump rings, earring do-daddys, lobster clasps
  • Metallic Silver Paint pen
  • Scissors/utility knife and pliers

I cut up a shoe box to make it flat then drew my designs and cut them out. Painted two coats (front and back) with the paint pen. I used my seam ripper to make holes for the jump rings. Easy peasy 🙂

6. Painted Leather Earrings

Materials:

  • Leather ( I cut mine from an old purse)
  • acrylic paint
  • stencil (optional)
  • scissors
  • jump rings, chain…you know the drill

I cut the leather in the shape I wanted then painted. For the white part I used a stencil after the yellow was dry. Attach rings, chain etc.

7. Glittery Fox Pendant

Materials:

  • Same as 3, 4, and 5 except instead of the silver paint I used some gold nail polish and gold glitter

You may want to finish up with a spray sealant to keep your fox from ‘shedding’ (tee hee)

So, that’s it folks!

Have a great evening and don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for more Southwest Style fun. I have a really neat project that’s ready for the sharing!