Friday, December 17, 2010

And that's a wrap!

One of my favorite Christmas activities is figuring out my "wrapping paper scheme" as I like to call it and decorating all of my gifts.  Yes, it takes a ridiculous amount of time and energy and money, but it makes me happy.  And yes, I understand I will likely not wrap presents like this when I have children and I'm wrapping a billion gifts.  However, as of now I only wrap a few and they're going to be as pretty as I possibly can make them.  They make me happy and I hope they make you happy too.  Here's this year's wrapping paper scheme.

Steps and Instructions (and I'm aware I'm probably the only person who'd have multiple steps required for wrapping their presents.)

Card Materials:
  • 5.5" x 8.5"cards.  I purchased these and envelopes in a package of 25 at Michael's for $3.00
  • Coordinating thread- I used red, green, and silver.
  • Sewing machine
  • Computer
  • So I'm not the best calligrapher, but I like to pretend that I am.  So to "cheat" I use this sneaky method: I'll design the wording on a card and then print it a couple shades lighter than the pen I'm using.  I then trace over the words with a calligraphy pen and presto! instant calligraphy quality without the calligraphy skills.  I did this first and then printed out the card.
  • Sewing: sewing on paper is very similar to sewing on fabric.  If you can sew a straight line, then you can sew these cards.  The only trick is adjusting the tension on the thread.  I usually decrease mine to the lowest tension setting.  Sew straight lines in whatever shape/pattern/color you choose.  I tried to create a sort of plaid pattern with this one.  You could sew far less lines if you'd prefer.  Keep adding lines and colors until you're happy.

  • Tie each thread into a knot and cut the excess.  You could also tape it to the inside of the card or leave it loose for a rustic homemade look.  To be honest, I did a combination of all three.

  • Hole punch the left sides and set aside.

Christmas Birdie Materials
  • Gray and white felt
Using this template from Design Sponge, cut out the bird and the wing shapes from the coordinating fabric.  I chose not to include the legs, but feel free to do so if you wish.  Glue the wing to the bird, draw on an eye, and set the completed bird aside.

Package assembly time!  Wrap your gift in brown packaging paper.  It's my favorite thing to wrap gifts with and I always have a roll of it on hand.  

  • Cut a LONG length of yarn.  I used red and white yarn with glitter running through them and about 8 feet of each color.  The beauty of using yarn over ribbon is that you can use a ton more and each huge spool of yarn only costs around $3.
  • Thread the yarn through the holes in your card. 

  • Wrap the yarn around the present and tie in a bow.  

  • Hot glue the bird to your bow and admire!  

Seriously makes me happy.  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

So now that school is finally over, it's going to look like Santa's workshop in my apartment for the next couple of weeks.  I am very excited to get a couple of projects done that I simply haven't had time to do during the semester. Be on the lookout for some of my craziest endeavors to date, including painting a rug.  And yes, I did just say painting a rug.  In the meantime, I've finally created a logo to put on things that I create and may eventually decide to start selling.  Really it was just an excuse to play around on Photoshop, but I can do that now, because I have free time! :)  Hope you like it, and good luck finishing (or starting if you're me) any Christmas shopping/crafts/plans!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Prayers in a Basket

So it's finals, law school finals.  What I had, until recently, considered the most important period of my life. I have a tendency to get so caught up in finals that it becomes my life.  That ended up being my demise last year, and I have worked really hard to find a better balance this semester, but I still had a tendency to lock myself to my textbooks for weeks on end.  That is until a friend of my reminded me that there are things so much more important than law school.  Someone who reminded me to tell those who are close to me how much I love them and not take what I've been blessed with for granted.

So, even though it's finals, even though I could study for 20 straight hours and not be ready for my final on Monday, I don't care.  I'm going to get up tomorrow morning, and I'm going to cook brunch.  I'm going to sit with my puppy, my boyfriend, my coffee, and I'm going to ignore the rest of the world.  I hope you'll do the same.

And here's a super quick easy recipe to try out.  It's usually called "eggs in a basket", but for this week I'm calling it "prayers in a basket."


  • eggs
  • bread
  • olive oil/butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Take a cookie cutter of any shape/size (it just has to fit within in the size of your bread) and cut out the shape in the middle.  For "intricate" shapes, I find it's easier to flip the piece over and just push the bread through the cutter, but that's just me.  Don't throw away the cut out!  I like to toast it by itself and eat it.
  • Heat about 1-2 tbs of butter and olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium heat.  I like the combination of the two because I feel like it gives the best results in terms of taste and cooking abilities.  Feel free to use only one or some other oil.  
  • Toss the bread into the skillet and cook for several minutes until lightly browned.  (You want the bread to develop a nice color before you put the egg on.  If you put the egg on too early you'll have to cook it for too long and it'll be overdone and gross.)
  • Once the bread is nice colored, slowly pour the egg into the cutout.  I like to pre-crack the egg into a small cup, because I'm incredibly messy when cooking and I don't trust myself to crack an egg into a pan without making a huge mess or burning myself.

  • Let the egg cook until the bottom is white.  DO NOT OVERCOOK.  Nothing is worse than overcooked eggs.

  • GENTLY use a spatula to flip the bread onto the other side and cook for 1-2 minutes more.  Again, do not overcook.  Once finished, remove from the pan and let cool.  Cook the cutout if desired like a piece of toast
  • Serve with some tasty coffee and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I believe in pink...and a great craft project.

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles." -- Audrey Hepburn

The Before

And After

While shopping with a friend a while ago, we stumbled across a super cute frame with the famous Audrey Hepburn quote.  It was pink; it was was $75.  Woah. Woah. Woah.  $75 for a Photoshopped quote and a spray painted picture frame?  NO way was I paying that when I knew I could make it.  So I promised my friend a replica would be showing up at her door sometime soon.

I messed around with several different versions of the quote on Photoshop, but never settled on one I really liked.  Cue super creative graphic designer to the rescue.  I stumbled across a fantastic blog called Love Obsess Inspire with Free Printable Goodies.  Not only are they very cute, they're free!  Bingo.  

Then I decided to get a little crazy.  What if I printed the quote on fabric instead of paper? I'd seen the process a couple of time before and had really been wanting to try it.  And that's what I did.  You simply cut a piece of fabric to a size that your printer can handle, iron it to freezer paper (which is NOT the same as wax paper), and gently feed it through your printer.  Worked liked a charm.  I loved the results.  Pretty sure I may start printing everything on fabric: resumes, invitations, my grocery list...

A little picture frame demolition, spray painting, reassembly and I'd succeeded in creating a much cuter, much more unique, and much cheaper version than the one we'd originally found.

I'll post the entire how-to soon.  Law school finals are upon us, and suffice it to say free time has been hard to come by lately.  However, I did manage to get my apartment decorated for Christmas and am thoroughly convinced it's much easier to learn about fee simples, expansions of the commerce clause, and securities law by the light of my tree.  :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

When Winter Comes to Town

After a steady stream of 80+ degree temperatures, cooler weather has officially arrived in Texas, along with wind and rain.  On days like today, I want nothing more than to curl up by a fire with a bowl of soup and read a good book.  Unfortunately, my 16 hours days generally prevent that from happening.  However, even I can find time to fit in a quick a hearty soup perfect for chilly rainy days, and although the weather will likely creep back up into the 80s, there will be a fire in my fireplace tonight.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Chicken Soup
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs bone-in, skin on
  • 2-4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Sage leaves, chiffonade 
  • Approx. 1/2 tsp Cumin, Allspice, Ground Ginger
  • Prep the vegetables: peel the butternut squash, remove seeds, and chop into cubes.  Peel and chop the carrot and the onion.
  • Place the cubed squash, chopped onion, carrot, and chicken thighs on a cookie sheet.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Bake in a 425 degree oven, shaking the pan periodically, until the butternut squash is tender, approximately 30 minutes.  Set aside the roasted chicken to cool.

  • If you like fairly chunky soup, reserve around 1/4 of the baked mixture.  If you prefer a smoother soup, skip this step.  
  • Add the baked mixture into a bowl (if using an immersion blender) or otherwise in a regular blender.  Add around 1 cup chicken stock and blend to desired smoothness. Add additional chicken stock until the soup has reached the desired consistency.  Then add the heavy cream to give the soup an additional richness.

  • Remove the skins from the chicken and the chicken from the bones.  Shred the chicken and add to the soup.  Sprinkle in cumin, allspice, ground ginger, or any other spices you have on hand.  I don't measure;  I just sprinkle the top with a little of each.  Mix in the Sage leaf chiffonade.
  • Add the reserved baked pieces (if any) and stir to combine.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  • Ladle into bowls and enjoy by a toasty fireplace.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Creepy Crawly Cheesecake

In lieu of the normal Halloween costume party, several of my friends have decided to watch a Dracula melodrama at a local theatre this weekend.  Before the play begins, our gracious hostess has invited us over for some spooky snacks and libations.  And because it's impossible for me show up to a dinner party without some sort of contribution, I decided to make this quick and easy cheesecake.  The recipe and instructions are compliments of the Hostess Queen Martha Stewart.  I'm always somewhat hesitant about no-bake cheesecakes, but it turned out really well and was ready to be chilled within a hour.  The original recipe called for making gummy spiders, but I didn't really feel like driving all over DFW to locate the gummies called for.  I think the plastic spider rings are a great alternative, and will be fun to wear after taken off the cake.  (You can guarantee I'll have one on!)

"Action Shots"



...and apparently the apocalypse is upon us, because I will actually be wearing a costume this Halloween.  I am making my annual escape to suburbia for Halloween and will be attending a costume party.  It really may be the end of the world!  :)

Happy Halloween everyone!  Be safe!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Comfort Food Staple

There are some foods that will help solve life's biggest disasters.  As a Texan, these have always included chili and gravy, among more traditional foods like chicken noodle soup.  Nothing is better than smothering recent problems in homemade skillet gravy.  So this weekend, when I painfully discovered that someone wasn't exactly the person I thought they were, biscuits and gravy seemed the perfect remedy.

Any self respecting Texan should know how to make gravy because: (1) it's a million times better than the stuff they sell in the package and (2) it's ridiculously easy to make.  There are probably infinite recipes for gravy but this is how I do mine.

Skillet Gravy "Sort Of" Recipe
Breakfast sausage or bacon
Jalapenos (optional)
Salt and Pepper


  • Brown whatever meat you've decided to use, and render off the fat.  Do not drain the fat.
  • Sprinkle the meat with some flour.  Again I never measure, but probably 3-4 tablespoons will do the trick.  Cook the meat and flour together for a couple minutes to cook off the raw flour taste.  

  • Add approximately 1-2 cups of milk.  I usually just pour enough milk to roughly cover the bottom of my skillet.  I also add some pickled jalapenos and the juice at this point.  However, if you're not addicted to hot food like I am, feel free to skip this step.

  • On medium high heat, warm the mixture until it begins to thicken.  Stir fairly frequently to avoid lumps.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Gravy is fairly forgiving.  If it isn't thick enough for your liking you can always toss in some extra flour.  Conversely, if you end up with gravy cement add a little more milk to loosen the mixture.
  • Once satisfied with consistency, use to smother biscuits, chicken fried steak, or anything else.
Enjoy with a big cup of coffee and watch your troubles ebb away.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Last of the Halloween crafts, for now at least.

What happens when you're terrible at geometry and too lazy to figure out how much fabric you need for a project?  You end up with ridiculous amounts of extra purple felt.  But, I'm in law school, and no one said lawyers needed to know how to do math, so I'm not concerned.  However, I did need to figure out what to do with all of that extra felt.  I never liked those plastic pumpkins everyone used for trick-or-treating.  Personalized Halloween tote bags are way more fun anyway, and were a perfect way to use the extra felt.

To make the bag, I basically traced the sides of a reusable shopping bag I had.  I sewed each of the body pieces together to make a cylinder.  Then I pinned and sewed the rectangle base to the cylinder to give the bag the actual rectangle shape.  For the handles, I simply sewed some green felt into a tube, turned it seam side in, ironed flat, and attached to the top of the bag.  Sewing the bags took about 25 minutes each.

To attach the candy corn and the names, I simply followed the same process as the Trick of Treat Pillows.  I decided to change the girl's names to white though, so they'd show up better.

And presto!  A simple cure to those humdrum plastic pumpkins and the mound of purple felt laying around my apartment!

Best news is that candy corn is their favorite candy, and I didn't even know it!  Make the bags all the more sweet!  And  in case you're wondering, those are the same girls who I painted signs for earlier this year.  What can I say, I don't have children, so I borrow my co-worker's for craft projects.  :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Time for treats!

Yesterday's pillow was all about tricks.  The second pillow is all about treats!  It took me about 1/2 hour from start to finish.  I'm incredibly happy with how they turned out!  I'm currently cooking up additional ideas about what to do with all of the leftover felt!  Stay tuned!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Trick or Treat (DIY)

It's finally Autumn, and although Autumn in Texas only means we've survived the days of 100+ heat; that doesn't stop me from loading my apartment up with pumpkins, gourds, scarecrows and other Autumn goodies. I don't generally decorate for Halloween.  Mostly because I'm not a huge fan of the holiday and because I don't like things like skulls and spiders.  However, I recently had an idea about some cute Halloween pillows and decided to introduce some Halloween flair into my otherwise Autumn Harvest apartment.

Pillows are one of my favorite decorating items.  They're the easiest way to change how a room looks, and if you make them yourself they're fairly cheap too.  Overall this project took about 1 1/2 hours (most of that was trying to decide what I wanted the faces to look like) and cost about $5. (I already head the pillow forms.)


  • Felt in various colors (I bought mine on the bolt because it's a higher quality of felt, but feel free to buy the craft squares for everything except the actual pillow case)
  • 3/4 yard of purple felt
  • 1/4 yard Wonder Under 
  • Glue gun
  • Sewing Machine
  • From the purple felt, cut out one 19"x19" square, one 19"x 15" square, and one 19"x12" square.  These measurements will fit a 18" pillow form, which the standard size from most throw pillows.
  • Cut out all the pumpkins and the pumpkin pieces.  There really aren't any rules this.  I play around with different shapes and pieces until I settled on three that I liked.  At this point you can also cut out stems and strips for the vine, but they won't be attached until the very end.

  • Use hot glue to attach the pieces to the pumpkin bases.  

  • This is most complicated part of the entire process.  Take the Wonder Under and lay it rough side down on the black felt.  (The paper backing will be face up.)  Since we're using felt it doesn't matter what side you lay it on, but if you were using normal fabric you'd place the rough side on the wrong side of the fabric.  Iron the two pieces together for about 5-8 seconds and let cool.

  • Once cool, trace the letters onto the paper backing.  TURN THEM FACE DOWN.  The paper side will actually become the back side of the letters, so if you fail to do this your letters will be backwards.  Cut the letters out. 

  • Repeat this process with the pumpkins.  Rough side on the back of the pumpkin.  Cut away the extra Wonder Under and discard.
  • Assembly time!  Peel the paper baking off the letters and the pumpkins and arrange on the 19"x19" square.  Remember that there's a 1/2 seam allowance so keep the shapes close to the middle of the square.  Add the pumpkin stems and vines now using hot glue.  Once happy with the placement, lay a damp tea towel over all of the shapes.  Iron firmly for approximately 20 seconds or until the shapes are securely adhered to the purple square.  Word of caution- Felt Melts! So when ironing felt always keep a tea towel or other medium between it and the iron and use a low heat setting.
  • On each of the two smaller squares, fold the 19" side over 1/2 inch iron flat (remember the ironing tips above), fold another 1/2 inch and iron flat again.  Sew the fold down, keep the left side of the presser foot flush with the fold.

  • Home Stretch- lay the large square front side up.  Place the 19"x15" square front side down on top of the large square.  Line up the left edges.  Place the 19"x12" square on top of both square, lining up the right edges.  Pin and sew all the way around.  When you reach a corner lower the needle, lift the presser foot, rotate the pillow, lower the presser foot and continue sewing.  When finished back stitch to secure.  Clip off the each of the corners.

  • Turn the pillow case right side to, push out the corners, and stuff with pillow form.  


I'm making a slight different pillow to pair with this one.  I'm hoping to finish by tomorrow!  Please let me know if you like any templates to make the pillow or if you have any questions!

Happy Autumn!