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July 31, 2014

christmas in july



Do you know anyone who makes a big deal about Christmas in July? Usually the only mention I see of this quasi-holiday comes in the form of Christmas cookies at my work meetings. But for the hard-core crafting community, Christmas in July is an important marker. It means that we're only a few months away from Christmas. Which means it's time to start making Christmas presents. 

Do you take the DIY route to Christmas gifts? Or store-buy? I usually stick to a mixture of both, giving everyone important in my life at least one homemade gift. DIY Christmas treats are great for work or school associates when they can me made in bulk. 


My idea of bulk Christmas crafting from last year

This year I'm trying my best to plan ahead. Since I've already declared 2014 the year of saving, I'm hoping that making gifts ahead of time will save me some dough. It's all a matter of staying on schedule at this point. 

How do you save money for the holidays?

xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // Need gift-giving ideas? Make some homemade oven mitts or a set of coasters.

July 30, 2014

pressed flowers



When I was nine years old, my best friend gave me a flower press for my birthday. It had a picture of Anne from Anne of Green Gables on the front, & screwed together on four corners. It was fantastic at pressing flowers, which was excellent for a young girl living in the rolling hills. 




I've kept this flower press with me all this time. Today when I unscrewed it, I was reminded of my first attempt using it. I carefully placed my flowers in between the pages, & quickly screwed it shut. Minutes later the press was apart & I was checking to see if my flowers were flat yet. No such luck, of course, so I screwed the press back together again. Paused, then unscrewed. Then screwed back together. This process went on for a while, until I think I just forgot about my flowers, & accidentally let weeks pass without checking on them. Which turned out to be just what needed to happen. 




Even if you don't have a press, it's very simple to press your own flowers. Place your fresh flowers in between parchment paper, then lay them flat in between the pages of a heavy book (the heavier the better - add a few books on top if your book isn't heavy enough). A few weeks later & you'll have preserved flowers, ready for use. Try & use flowers that aren't too bulky. The best flowers to use are ones with thin petals, ones with smaller blooms, & ones that retain their color.




I decided to use my flowers to decorate this tray. The plan is to install hanging hardware on the tray & mount it on the wall. I brushed decoupage on the tray, laid down my flowers, & then applied a second coat of decoupage. 




It's the simple things.

xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // Instead of pressing your flowers, try drying them

July 29, 2014

out & about // downtown photo shoot



Alright everyone, after a week-long hiatus, I'm back to blogging (I know, I know - what ever did you do without me?). Because I've been gone for so long, here's a treat for you: Heather & I went downtown yesterday dressed in our finest with the intentions of getting some good photos together. The other day we were trying to find a photograph of the two of us together & realized it had been too long since we did a photo shoot. As a result, here are a few snapshots of our adventure: 




Side note: Do not try to take photos outdoors when there is a heat index of 108 coupled with 89% humidity. Otherwise you'll be photoshopping out sweat droplets until the cows come home.




I had to tell a really dirty joke to get this photo. I'm too lady-like to repeat it here. 




Don't we look dapper?

xoxo,
-m.e.


m.e. // shirt: j-crew; jeans: target; flats: target; hat: kohl's; earrings: forever 21; belt: gap.
heather // shirt: express; pants: express; shoes: stacy adams; suspenders: hot topic; watch: kenneth cole; bow tie: handmade


Related // To see more handsome photographs of Heather, visit the bow tie tutorial

July 21, 2014

how-to // sew vinyl


There are a variety of ways to sew vinyl fabric, but most are cumbersome at best. This is a neat trick that I've seen floating around the internet, & I wanted to share it with you. It really is a life-saver (the frustration of sewing with vinyl makes me murderous, so it's almost a literal life-saver). Plus it only involves tape! 




Remove the foot from your sewing machine (you should be able to unscrew it from the left side). Lay out two small strips of tape on the underside of the foot. Use tape that doesn't leave sticky residue, & leave room for the needle to pass through.




Place strips of tape next to the dogs of your sewing machine as well. 




The tape allows for less friction against the vinyl, allowing the fabric to glide on through! That's it! It seems too simple, right? Figuring this out was life-changing for me. Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but I cannot tell you how many times I abandoned a project because it involved sewing vinyl. Now I can sew vinyl all the live-long day.

Hopefully this little trick will help you crafters out in the future.

xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // Use your vinyl-sewing skills to make a bike pouch

July 18, 2014

links i love // doggy edition

Our favorite dog, Doria

If you have a dog, you know how much joy pups bring to your everyday life. They're always happy to see you, they do silly things, & they can be downright adorable. While I consider myself a cat person at heart, I have become completely smitten with my girlfriend's dog Doria. Since moving in together, I consider Doria an important part of my life. She keeps us busy, & brings positive energy to our home.

Here are my top links on our happy tail-wagging pals.


// Top Links of the Week // 

  • Tips for Pet Photography // This tutorial gives insight on what it takes to get a great pet photo (hint: it involves treats).
  • Otis Barkington // My new favorite follow on Instagram is Otis Barkington (@otisbarkington). What an adorable name for an adorable dog. If you love smiling every day,  I recommend following him.
  • DIY Porch Swing // First off, put a pet in your tutorial photo & I'm sold. It's a sure-fire way to get me interested (& to start making embarrassingly squeaky noises). Second, I'm super impressed with this project & how clean & professional it turned out. Definitely go check it out.
  • DIY Vintage Suitcase Dog Bed // While our dog Doria might be a smidge too big for this kind of bed (she has some great dane in her background), that doesn't stop me from wanting to make one. Maybe the cat will take to it.
  • Pet Silhouettes // This is a beautiful & ingenious way to show love for your pup. Silhouettes are not just for people!
  • 12 Human Foods You Didn't Know Could Kill Your Dog // The pouty face your pup makes can be pretty convincing, but Spots doesn't know what can & cannot harm him. Here's a list of foods that can be dangerous & sometimes fatal (who knew dogs couldn't eat grapes?). 
  • Homemade Dog Biscuits with Flax Seed // Since our dog has many allergies & health issues, we're always on the lookout for alternatives to regular treats & food. These dog treats from White on Rice Couple include flax seed, which helps make a doggy's coat shine. 



Are you more of a dog person or a dedicated cat lady?

xoxo,
-m.e.

Related // Cat links!

July 17, 2014

southern-style boiled peanuts



I did not grow up in the south, but I've been here long enough to become immersed in southern culture. When I first moved below the Mason-Dixon line, I encountered many things which baffled me: geckos, humidity, using "sir" or "ma'am" with everyone, calling a shopping cart a "buggy," & most intriguing of all, the food. 




My first introduction with boiled peanuts was met with hesitation. Wet, salty peanuts? But I was a fool to doubt this southern tradition. They are addicting. Now my encounters with boiled peanuts are met with glee. & then with regretful willpower, lest I overdose on sodium.




Ingredients // 

  • 1 1/2 pounds raw (green) peanuts
  • 1 cup salt
  • One large stock pot with lid
  • Enough water to submerge peanuts in stock pot




Directions // 

  1. Rinse peanuts in water.
  2. Let them soak in water overnight.
  3. Drain the water. In the large stock pot, combine peanuts, salt, & enough water to submerge the peanuts.
  4. Bring the water to a boil. Put the lid on, & reduce to a low boil.
  5. Boil peanuts for 3-4 hours.
  6. Peanuts are done when they are salty & soft. 



I have spent many a summer here in Florida in front of a pot of boiled peanuts, eating one after another. They're also packed full of protein, so technically healthy, right?




xoxo,
-m.e.


Related // More summertime inspiration.

July 15, 2014

terrible joke tuesday



Here's an awful joke for you. Enjoy the rest of your day. 

xoxo, 
-m.e.

P.S. 10 Things You Probably Forgot to Clean, illustrated. 

July 14, 2014

leather cuff




A little bit about me: I like accessories. When I feel my wardrobe is getting old & tired, changing up my accessories seems to breathe new life into my look. Of course it's all the better if I can make my bling & pop myself - DIY style. 








Today I'm happy to bring you this post with the help of endlessleather. They were so kind as to send me some cords to make this lovely leather cuff. I couldn't decide which one of these pretty colors I liked more - the turquoise or the pastel rose - so I used both. 








To make one of your own, you'll need:

  • 3/8ths width leather cord (21" of one color, 14" of a second color) 
  • Scissors
  • Tacky glue
  • Masking tape
  • An awl or other pointed tool
  • Embroidery needle & thread
  • 2" width elastic (approximately 2")
  • Paintbrush (not pictured; optional)




Step 1 // Cut your leather into 7" cords; three in one color, two in a second color. 




Step 2 // Line your cords up, alternating their colors. Tape your cords in place at the top & bottom. 




Step 3 // Using the awl, puncture each cord in two places at the top, approximately 1/4 inch apart. Do this for the other end as well. 




Step 4 // With your needle & thread, sew the cords together. Feed the needle through the bottom holes for this step. Repeat for opposite end. 




Step 5 // Sew your elastic in place. Make sure that your lay down your elastic so it stretches side-to-side, not up-&-down. You'll need approximately 2" of elastic, depending on the width of your wrist. Sew into the top holes for this step. 




Step 6 // Bring the opposite end of your cords to the elastic, & sew it in place. Sew into the top holes as before. 




Almost done!




Step 7 // Apply tacky glue to the ends of your elastic to prevent fraying (I used a paintbrush to be precise). Let dry.





Do you have a favorite way to change up your wardrobe?

xoxo, 
-m.e.


// This post is sponsored by endlessleather.com. All thoughts, opinions, & creations are my own. // 


Related // Need a clutch to go with that great cuff? 

July 10, 2014

rainy days



The scorching southern summers are only made bearable by one thing: thunderstorms. They come quickly, & they come often. While waiting out the storm most recently, I did this doodle in between reassuring the cat that everything would indeed be okay. 

xoxo,
-m.e.


Related // More silly drawings.

July 9, 2014

caution! party zone!



Last week I got to attend an adorable birthday party for my girlfriend's nephew. Since he's three now, he's really digging on (pun?) heavy equipment vehicles. Or as he calls them, trucks. If it has wheels & can dig up dirt, he's all over it. His mom really brought her A-game on this one, & put together a party that was just too cute not to share. 




His mom gathered inspiration from various sources online, from the "spare tire" chocolate doughnuts to the dirt cake for delicious excavation. This woman is the queen of Pinterest Productivity, & I'm always amazed by what she conjures up. She used her background in graphic design to create thank you cards & these awesome caution signs. 




She really set the bar high for future parties. We're all going to have to step it up a notch.




xoxo,
-m.e.


Related // Need a banner for a party? Let's look at the ever-popular bunting.

July 8, 2014

paint-a-bike tutorial

I am so excited to be sharing this DIY with you! I have been planning on doing this project for a while now, & last weekend I finally had the time (& the courage) to repaint my bicycle.
There wasn't anything wrong with my bike before, I just wanted to change the look (& minimize the logos plastered all along the frame). Honestly it wasn't as difficult as I had hyped it up my head to be. Just remember the motto: We can make anything!
WARNING // Do not attempt this tutorial unless you have a crap-load of free time! This is definitely not a weekday project. It's more of a weekend-with-nothing-else-on-the-schedule project. Seriously, it took forever. Totally worth it though. 
To paint your bike, you'll need a few things: 
  • Sandpaper (medium & fine grit)
  • Two cans of Paint & Primer spray paint (mine is in mint green!)
  • Two cans of Spray Polyurethane 
  • Masking tape
  • Aluminum foil &/or plastic bags
  • Tools for taking bike apart (varies on model of bike, but you'll probably need a hex key set & a wrench)
 First things first - take a big breath, & begin disassembling your bicycle. Take off any part you don't want to paint. Having never done this before, I took many pictures of my bike before getting started so that I'd know what part went where. I took pictures as I was going too, so that I could go back & reference the order in which things came apart. I also labeled my pieces as I went, i.e. "rear brake cable to right handlebar," etc. Take your time, & be meticulous. You cannot take too many pictures. 
Next, tape & cover the parts you didn't want to remove, but don't want to be painted. I, for instance, was too chicken to remove my chain & gears. & my pedals. & my handlebars. Okay, I basically just took off the brakes & the seat. Obviously the more you remove the easier your bike will be to paint. If you're hesitant about your bike-assembling abilities, that's okay too, just cover, cover, cover! I covered the larger pieces of my bike in plastic shopping bags, the smaller portions in aluminum foil, & taped everything in place. 
That was the difficult part. Now onto the strenuous part: sanding! Sand the areas of your bike that are to be painted. You want your frame to be roughed up enough that the new paint will stick. Use the medium grit sandpaper for this step. Make sure that your mouth is covered when you're sanding - you don't want particles of paint & aluminum in your lungs. 
My weak arms got the best of me, so I gave in & used an electric sander. 
Painting time! Painting time is the best time of any project, in my opinion. Hang your bike in a well-ventilated area (outside is best), & apply one coat of spray paint. Wait until the first coat has fully dried, then apply a second coat. If there are areas of your paint job that are irregular, sand them down with the fine grit sandpaper. Repaint if necessary. Wait at least 24 hours before applying the clear-coat. You'll want to make sure the paint has completely dried, so be patient.

Apply two coats of polyurethane clear-coat in the same manner. Wait 24 hours before taking your bike down & removing the masking tape & aluminum foil. 

Re-assemble your bike, following all your meticulous photos & notes.
Now to cruise in style on your personalized ride! 
xoxo, 
-m.e.

P.S. // How I made my bike pouch & other bicycle inspiration.
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