Friday, December 30, 2011

DIY Dolman Shirt

Yes, you read that correctly.  A DIY dolman shirt that I actually made!  By myself.

After weeks of building up my "Sewing Projects" pin board I was lucky enough to receive a digital Swinger sewing machine for Christmas from my parents.  (I love you guys!)

I quickly started on my machine by simply updating a few pairs of pants I owned that really needed to be hemmed.  Then played around with some scraps of fabric and built up enough confidence to tackle a real project - a shirt.

Since this was truly my first attempt of creating anything on my sewing machine, I will spare you my amateur instructions for how to recreate it.  Instead I suggest you follow the tutorial on the pin from Merrick's Art blog.

I was so caught up in this project that I did not take many photos but I took a couple of the plain fabric... just to prove that I made it :)

Thanks to Facebook friends I was given recommendations for local fabric stores and decided to check out the one closest to my house... Hancock Fabrics.  It was a bit overwhelming but I was thrilled to find just the right type of fabric (in trendy colors) in the Clearance section!!! For the 1.5 yards of fabric that I purchased, it was only $4.  I was very polite to the salespeople there because I can already tell that I will be a frequent customer.

I look forward to sharing many more successful sewing projects!

Christmas Lights

As much as I love the holiday spirit that Christmas decorations brings in our home, I also love when they're packed away.  Yes, it makes our place feel festive BUT it also makes our place feel cluttered and smaller.

(Can you tell I was playing around with bokeh photography with my new camera?! Here's a simple guide from the blog Two Olives and a Twist)

For the past few years my darling husband has thankfully taken on the task of putting-up and taking-down the decorations on his own while I am at work.  This year I happened to be home so I could help.  Although once he started, I was intimidated to interrupt his efficient system.  Plus anytime I went to put something away he showed me his way of packing it.  I didn't mind taking a step back but I felt bad that he did all the work.

THEN came my opportunity to contribute.  As he was taking the Christmas lights off the tree, he was simply wrapping them around his arm.  Ah - ha!  This was my moment to shine!  I chimed in and told him about a pin that I saw with a tip from the legendary Martha Stewart.  Take scrap cardboard pieces and wrap it around to keep the string of lights from tangling.

Since I started stalking fellow pinners I have been saving everything in my home.  Things ranging from aluminum cans, toilet paper rolls, scrap fabrics and yes... cardboard boxes.  Just earlier in the day as we were cleaning I agreed to part with my large cardboard collection because I did not have any real justification to keep them.  I was just waiting for the perfect project to present itself - and here it was!  Luckily the cardboard collection was just in our garage so once I suggested this light wrapping method we salvaged some pieces.

Looks like there is a method to my madness of saving everything. I'm just happy I was able to contribute to packing up Christmas this year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

DIY Puppets

Once I made the puppet theater I need to make some puppets.  Of course I found this easy puppet tutorial on Pintrest and followed the instructions.  The most important materials for this project were the socks.  Luckily I got these two pairs of socks from the dollar store and Target.

Here is one version of the sock puppet...
And here is another...
And they lived happily ever after in the puppet theater that I made my for my nephews.

DIY Puppet Theater

My nephews have SO MANY TOYS.  While it is awesome for them that they live in Toys R Us, it makes it difficult for us as the aunt and uncle to buy them gifts.  That only leaves me one option... to make them gifts.

Although I did not find this from a specific pin, it is because of Pintrest that I had the idea for this gift.  While driving through my in-laws neighborhood on garbage day I saw a white children's bookcase (without the shelves) at the end of the street.  Knowing that I could upcycle this piece of furniture I did what any other pinner would do... I shoved it in my back seat.  Yes folks, I am officially a garbage picker.

With a lot of help from my handy-dandy husband, we turned a boring plain bookshelf into a personalized puppet theater for my nephews.

Luckily I had an unopened, cheap frame from IKEA that I used chalkboard spray paint on to create a place for the kids to write the name of their puppet show on.  We bought and painted wooden letters that were on clearance at Michael's for $2.99.

To prevent the kids from stepping inside of the shelves we bought two plastic baskets from the dollar store.  This is also where they can store the puppets.  Here is a photo from the back side.

My husband installed a pole across the top and I sewed the curtains using clearance fabric from JoAnn Fabrics.  We also screwed another layer of curtains along the back side.

And now I present to you, the finished project!

 But wait!  What's a puppet theater without any puppets?  Of course I created my own thanks to cheap socks from the dollar store, some felt, cardboard, fuzzy balls and a glue stick.  I'm not going to lie... it was difficult to part with our new little buddies but we were happy to pass them along to the kiddies we love the most.  It's showtime!

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

In efforts to prepare quick, healthy and cheap meals I took the advice from a pin I found and placed a bunch of boneless, skinless thin sliced chicken breasts (that were on sale at Jewel for buy-one-get-one-free) in my slow cooker with some water, salt, pepper and two bay leaves. After it cooked while I was at work, I came home to shred it and packed away in snack size plastic baggies and placed in the freezer.
Having a ton of shredded chicken in my freezer, it was time to pull some out to create a meal for the hubby and I. We knew with the holiday weekend ahead that we would gain a few pounds so we wanted to started the weekend light. Browsing my previous pins on my Recipe board, I selected "healthy buffalo chicken rolls" for dinner.

Broccoli Slaw
Green Onions
Egg Roll Wrappers
Blue Cheese
Frank's Hot Sauce
Shredded Chicken

It was super easy!  I just took out the egg roll wraps and placed the other ingredients on an angle in the center just like this:
 Then I rolled up one corner just enough to cover the food.  I then wet the side corners and folded in.  All you have left is to continue rolling and just wet the final corner and press down.  Place them on a wire rack and spray with a cooking spray on all sides.  Cooking it on the rack allows the rolls to cook on all sides.  Bake at 400 degrees until it is golden brown.

They were quite yummy!  Especially with the side of ranch dressing to dip it in, even thought it made it a little less healthy.  We enjoyed them and I've already decided to make bite-size rolls (quarter each wrap) as an appetizer for New Years Eve.  

I also ended up with extra wraps so I think I will play around with other fillings.  We were thinking about Philly cheese-steak rolls for the next round.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Smoothie Cubes

Unfortunately I do not have time to only focus on DIY projects and organization. There's family, friend, work, my second job and somewhere in there I eat. My family is Italian and we like to eat well. In their Italian vocabulary to "eat well" means to cook with fat, butter, lots of olive oil, cheese, etc.

About 18 months I joined Weight Watcher and took control of the food I was putting into my body. I did awesome! The only problem was that I quickly found that my grocery bills began to sky rocket and I didn't have the luxury to spend that much just on food. I took about a 6 month hiatus from Weight Watchers and now I am back... but with an added challenge to keep costs down. I'll share any recipes / finds that I have that will help you eat light while being light on your wallet.

Aldi is a great place to shop groceries at low costs. While browsing their aisles the other day I noticed a bunch of silicone trays on clearance for $1.49 so I bought the one for 6 cupcakes.
As much as I cook (and I am a pretty good cook if I say so myself), I absolutely do not bake. Never really cared for sweets so I never cared to make them. Once I saw this tray I had a different plan.

Yogurt has been one of those foods that I eat because it is good for watching your weight, but I really do not enjoy eating yogurt. I typically add cereal or blend it in a smoothie. Last year I tried something with one of my smoothies and it became on of my favorite snacks. I froze the smoothie and then let it sit out while I worked. After a few hours out, it became soft and had a creamy texture just like... well, frozen yogurt.

My new kitchen tool was going to help me portion smaller snack sizes of the smoothie. First I made a smoothie with yogurt, mixed berries, frozen banana and some almond milk. Once it was totally blended I poured in into the silicon tray and froze. Once frozen I put them in a ziplock baggie so it would be easier to store.

Now I have healthy snacks already made for work in the perfect portions! Already I got my money's worth in the tray.

DIY Message Board

Sorry it has been so long but I actually spent some time without a computer flying around to hang out with the husband and then Thanksgiving came.

This was the first pin that I bought materials for. The only problem is that when I was inserted the glass back into the frame (it needed a good cleaning) the glass broke so I bought two frames before it worked. This is a great way to update an old frame you have packed away.

All I did was buy a $1.99 frame (or two) from Goodwill, painted it white and inserted a piece of cool scrapbook paper that matches my home. With that I have a stylish dry erase board to write my menu items, grocery list and special notes to my sweetie.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cards Forever

Today's blog about greeting cards is going to be just like a greeting card. A short, concise message that articulates a grander notion.

My husband and I have been together for 11+ years and have exchanged many cards with notes that we want to save forever. Plus he's a pack rat and saves every card he gets from anyone. I saw this pin and thought it was the perfect way for us to organize our cards.

All I did was punch holes in the cards and keep them together with small binder rings that I purchased at the scrapbook store. Here's the final product!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cool Coasters

A couple months ago I tried to get rid of my ugly, worn coasters at my mom's garage sale but unfortunately $1 was too much to be asking for them so I was stuck with them.
They have been sitting in a box in my garage until I saw this pin. After a trip to JoAnn Fabrics and buying a book of scrapbook paper that was on sale along with some Mod Podge, my coasters had a lovely makeover.
I then became obsessed and found some more square coasters we had packed away and did the same thing. Love them!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Grandma's Gems

This past summer my grandmother lost a battle to lung cancer. Today there was a memorial for her at her church so I dedicate this post to her and one of her gems that I was able to repurpose.

My "Grandma Pat" was a very modest and selfless housewife. Even when her husband past away 25 years ago she devoted her life to her kids and grandkids.

While her sister lived a very wealthy lifestyle owning a few homes and furnishing them with paintings that cost the same as one year of my college tuition, I can't remember anything that my grandmother actually purchased for herself. Knowing that I didn't expect to find much in her condo when my aunts, uncles and cousins sorted through the belongings she had left behind.

Even so it was sort of disappointing going through her things. Not because I wanted material things but because I wanted to own things that reminded me of her... things that she used to making her house a home for our family. So I started to grab servingware, much to my husband's dismay. We have a TON of serving pieces and he kept asking where we would store this new collection. To be honest, I didn't know but I wanted to find something.

One of the items I grabbed was a silver lazy-susan and a clear crystal looking (but really plastic) tray for on top. Totally does not go with our design but why not.
Luckily I found a great organizational use for a lazy-susan thanks to this pin on Pintrest. Not only did I find a great place to store it, but it has a functional use! Under my guest bathroom sink I have tons of bottles (lotions, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.) and now I am able to easily access them all.

Now on a daily basis I feel like Grandma Pat is helping me make my house a home... and just any home but an organized one. Love you Grandma Pat!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

For real this time

So there were more posts that I posted back in early 2010 but... I deleted them. They were annoying from when I wanted a pity party for myself and nobody really wants to read about that. Now that I have been living the life of a pilot's wife for over a year and a half, I've got things under control. At least more than I did before so the blog is for real this time.
Even though our income has increased since the first year at the airlines, we still have long term financial goals so I am trying to really focus my energy on living a frugal life. Recently I was introduced to my new lover... Seriously I have become a bit obsessed but it has totally motivated me to get organized and crafty. Believe it or not, I just added a sewing machine to my list for Santa.
Some of my recently projects have been directly pulled from Pintrest but some are things that are inspired the Pintrest ideas. For example, all of the sewing projects gave me the courage to take on the task of making our costumes for Halloween. We were going to a family party so we wanted to be something our nephews and nieces (ages3-5) would recognize so we were Jesse and Woody from Toy Story 2 and 3!
The costumes were made for less tan $10 each with items from Goodwill and sale fabric from JoAnn fabrics. Waaaayyy cheaper than the ones sold by costumes stores and the kids loved it! It was definitely a win-win and gave me the confidence to do more. Follow me to see my progress on crafty projects and saving money.
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