first blooms. the midwest.

the beginning of this past week brought rain and then sunshine and now all of the small buds that were peeping have begun to turn into beautiful blooms. after living in the south for several springs, i was looking forward to seeing what those first blooms back in our area of the midwest would be and look like. even though i grew up here, living elsewhere for awhile has made me so much more attentive to things I never paid much attention to before. our first spring back feels magical. just like our first spring did after moving south. cheers to the old that’s new again!

(first blooms of spring ’19)

“May your soul beautify the desire of your eyes that you might glimpse the infinity that hides in the simple sights that seem worn to your usual eyes.” ~ John O’Donohue

~xoxo~

paper carrots. a simple easter craft.

Supplies & Materials:

  • Brown packing paper or kraft cardstock (I used both) – or any slightly heavy paper you have on hand (think upcycle)
  • Thread and/ or embroidery floss
  • Scrap fabric (green or any color you have on hand)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Carrot templates (you really could just easily free hand the carrot as well)
  • Sewing Machine or if you don’t have a sewing machine sew by hand with the embroidery floss
  • Fillers – fun items or candy to fill your carrots with

Instructions:

  1. Make carrots. Print and cut out your carrot templates and trace them onto your packing paper or cardstock.
  2. Sewing carrots. Take two of the same size carrots and layer them on top of each other so that all sides are even with each other. Sew your two long sides together either by hand with the floss or with your machine.
  3. Make carrot leaves. Tear your scrap fabric into narrow strips. The length is your preference. I used about six per carrot. Set aside until after you’ve filled your carrots.
  4. Fill your carrots. Fill your carrots with any sort of small candy, chocolate, handmade items, stickers, accessories, gift cards, etc. I used jelly beans, chocolates, chocolate eggs, tattoos, friendship bracelets, hair ties (just things I had on hand).
  5. Add leaves and sew the top. With one hand hold your leaves in the center of the top of your carrot. Place them far enough into the carrot that you will sew through them. Sew the top of your carrot.
  6. Accessorize. Add names or initials to the carrots or some additional floss. You could even paint the carrot if it’s not quite colorful enough for you.

Now – make a few, leave them separate or tie them together, and place them in your littles’ basket for them to tear open Easter morn.

This little project is so simple and inexpensive. If you don’t have orange thread and green fabric on hand, just use what you have. Using colors not necessarily unique to the typical carrot would be lovely. Same goes for the paper- just make sure it’s a little heavier than your regular printer paper. Even your fillers could be simple handmade items like stickers, friendship bracelets, homemade crayons, etc.

Templates:

largecarrot.pdf

smallcarrot.pdf

P.S. – My most recent favorite store bought sweet treat – Anise flavored pizzelles from Aldi.

the library. our latest lends.

If it were feasible, I would own all the books! But until then, I’ll settle for bi-weekly library visits. Below are our latest lends.

Books for the littlest little. . .

They are all short and sweet, the same as his attention span these days. (smile)

1 – Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni

  • Eye catching. And a cute yet simple way to help littles learn about color.

2 – Skyscraper by Jeremy Hurley

  • With few but big words, not to mention all of those vehicles and machines that littles are intrigued by, step by step this book brings a building to life in a way that all will understand. This one in particular caught Tate’s attention.

3 – Boats on the Bay by Jeanne Walker Harvey

  • Gorgeous colors! And this book portrays the sweetest variety of boats – “A sparkly boat joins a parade”.

4 – My Heart by Corinna Luyken

  • Beautifully illustrated. And such a delightful way to interpret those deep feelings of the heart in a way that children can understand.

Reading is and will always be one of my most favorite pastimes, but with regret I haven’t read much in the past few years. I enjoy it so much (too much) that my focus on anything else becomes nil until books started are finished (basically without notice the kids could Uber to New York and the house could whirl away in a tornado). OR maybe my attention span is just as short and sweet as Tate’s is these days. (wink, wink) Either way, I opted for all homemaking, crafting and cookbooks this time around. I’m hoping that the slower schedules of summer will allow for more late nights of reading.

My lends . . .

1 – A Well-Crafted Home by Janet Crowther

    Beautiful and timeless projects – ones you won’t tire of! They feel substantial (more permanent than a lot of diys) but none feel too overwhelming to attempt. I may have to purchase this one.

2 – Craft the Rainbow by Brittany Watson Jepsen

  • So many lovely projects. I’m especially fond of all of those that involve paper. The effort and thought that went into designing this book is so appreciated. Just flipping through the colorful pages makes me happy.

3 – Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith

  • Wonderful thoughts on everything from the spacing and arrangement of a room to accessories actually needed vs. those that are simply excess. Basically “Getting the most out of the least amount of things – M.S.”. It focuses on not just obtaining stylish things but more importantly to purchase pieces for their functionality (especially in regards to your family/ lifestyle). Be mindful!

4 – Happy Handmade Home by Elsie Larson & Emma Chapman

  • So many FUN and easy projects for your home, gift giving, party decor, and so much more! Also, such beautiful photography and a fantastic source of inspiration.

5 – Magnolia Table Cookbook by Joanna Gaines

  • Such a cozy feel when you read through the pages and recipes. We’ve already tried the orange scones, cinnamon squares, and king ranch chicken with jicama salad – we’ve enjoyed them all. The kids favorite thus far has been the cinnamon squares, mine the scones (and the jicama salad). Looking forward to trying a few more of them before returning.

Now to refrain from purchasing all of them once they’re returned. ~ xoxo ~

birthday weekend. the food.

(Saturday Breakfast of Greek/ Mediterranean Omelet with gyro meat & Vanilla Lattes – from a local coffee shop)

My birthday was Sunday and the weekend was both beautifully festive yet wonderfully casual. We had dinner out Friday with friends, then I had breakfast with a friend on Saturday and lunch with a friend on Sunday. For my actual birthday, I just wanted a no fuss day to do some cooking and relaxing and such a sweet day it ended up being.

I tried my hand at a couple of new recipes.

For breakfast, I made Joanna Gaines’ Orange Scones. The scone itself is lighter and more cake-like (not as heavy and less dense) than other scones I’ve had. The combination of the maple and citrus flavors in the glaze is amazing and compliments the “lighter” texture of the scone perfectly.

And then for dinner I made Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers and for desert Secret Ingredient Chocolate Fudge Cake. This cake was definitely a special treat for all. Each bite was comparable to eating lightly sweetened pieces of fudge – so delightful! We celebrated extra by giving Mr. Tate his very first few bites of chocolate cake.

If only, the dirty dishes on your birthday would magically disappear. The only unenjoyable bits of the day.

Orange Scones Magnolia Table Cookbook – Joanna Gaines

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Fudge Cake – Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients Cookbook – John Whaite

*I used dark chocolate cocoa for the icing. The original recipe calls for regular cocoa powder. I also added truffles (from Aldi).

Now, tis’ the time for a sugar detox. 🙂

Happy Monday!

“birthday season” & confetti pockets.

Four out of five (5 out of 6, if you count the pup) of us will celebrate birthdays within the next two months! Therefore, I tend to refer to these weeks for our family between March 31st and May 20th as “birthday season”. It’s a season full of so much busy (but so much fun), lots of celebrating and of course so many sweet memories (& treats).

In honor of “birthday season”, one of my favorite simple paper projects – confetti pockets! I have customized and done so many of these over the years. You can’t help but feel at least a little “happy” when making them and what a sweet gesture they are for the recipient!

Supplies:

  • Scraps of cardstock (whatever color combo you wish)
  • Vellum (clear transparent-like paper)
  • Various punches or even a good hole puncher will work
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine (or you could hand stitch)
  • Printer
  • Scissors

Instructions:

Step 1: Make your confetti. The more, the merrier! From rainbow to pastels, be picky about your color palette or just use whatever paper scraps you have lying around. I love using various textures and/ or throwing in a few pieces of metallic or glitter here and there. I have collected a variety of punches over the years, but even a hole punch will do the trick. OR to save time, feel free to use store bought confetti (so easy, but still so pretty). One of my favorites was a New Year’s greeting that I did several years ago – the pocket included a Polaroid and metallic store bought confetti.

Step 2: Print & cut your pockets. Make your own or feel free to use one of these:

confettipocketsyay.pdf

confettipocketshooray.pdf

For the above pdf’s use an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of vellum. I have set it up so that two pockets will print per sheet of vellum. Once printed, cut your sheet in half so that you have pockets 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches (before folding). Then fold your pockets in half so that your finished pocket is approximately 4.25 by 5.5 inches in size.

Step 3: Sew your pockets. Pick your thread color, set up your machine and zig zag stitch the side and bottom of your pocket. Then fill the pocket with your confetti and whatever else your prefer. Once filled, zig zag stitch the top of pocket closed. Knot and trim your loose ends.

*You can also hand stitch if you don’t have a sewing machine.

The End!

In a few short steps, you have a fun-filled pocket that makes the perfect party favor, birthday greeting, invite or decoration! Tis’ the season for all of these around here!

As the years pass, the celebrating becomes less but the things to appreciate are so much more! Here’s to pockets full of confetti this “birthday season” and every season!

~ xoxo ~

hanging accessory organizer. diy.

Just recently I did a little sprucing up in the kid’s bathroom which is also our main bath. I kept coming across all of those little things that almost 10 year old girls tend to accumulate and throw into drawers. In addition to buying a few drawer organizers, I thought it wouldn’t hurt (and it might be fun) to provide her with another way to not only stay organized but keep things easily accessible. In other words, something that will hopefully help the drawers stay cleaner longer. 🙂

Materials & Supplies:

  • 1/2 yard of canvas fabric (or another type of heavyweight fabric)
  • 1/4 yard of clear vinyl – medium to heavy gauge
  • Dowel (I used 3/8 inch round and cut it down to around 21 inches long)
  • 2 dowel caps (3/8 inch hole)
  • Upholstery thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Cutting mat, clear cutting ruler and rotary cutter
  • Rope, ribbon or string (for hanging organizer)

*Optional: paint, paintbrush, painters tape, grommets

Instructions:

Step 1: Cut fabric and vinyl pieces. The size and dimension of your organizer is entirely up to you. Keep in mind the space you have available and the materials you have on hand (how much fabric and vinyl you have, the size of your dowel, etc). I cut my canvas down to 18″ wide by 60″ long (this was already the width of the fabric so I just kept the finished edges and went with it). For the vinyl, I cut two pieces 8″ tall by 17″ long, one piece 8″ tall by 6″ long, and one piece 8″ tall by 10″ long. These will be my pockets. When cutting your vinyl pieces/ pockets, keep in mind what types of items you will be storing in your organizer (example: bigger items, bigger pockets). I also mention later on how you can make a bigger pocket multiple pockets by doing an extra stitch. This is your chance to really customize your organizer!

*The final size of my finished organizer is 30″ long by 17.5″ wide.

Step 2: Finishing edges. In order to avoid fraying edges. Fold and iron down 1/4 inch of fabric on all unfinished edges. Then sew the edges. (refer to photo below)

Step 3: Create pocket for dowel. Fold your canvas fabric in half and place your dowel in the fold. Roughly pin down where you should sew your pocket for the dowel making sure that all edges of your canvas are even with each other. (refer to photo below) Remove dowel and then sew pocket. Mine was approximately 1″ from the fold.

Step 4: Sew the front and back of your folded canvas fabric together. Once you have sewn your pocket for the dowel, pin and sew the two halves of your folded canvas together. You will really only need to sew along your sides and bottom. There is no right or wrong way to do this, just make sure you don’t sew your pocket shut.

Step 5 (optional): Paint design. This step is fun but definitely not required. My intention was to add a little color while keeping the design and painting relatively simple. I used painters tape and taped off some areas underneath where my vinyl pockets would be and painted them with a color that would somewhat match the bathroom. Once the paint is dry, remove the tape. (refer to photo below)

Step 6: Layout and sew pockets. You want to make sure that the vinyl pockets you cut earlier fit the layout of your canvas and your design. Once you have your pocket layout determined, pin down your first pocket into place. (refer to photo below) Then sew your pocket onto your canvas. Repeat with each pocket. If you have a bigger pocket, you can always make it smaller once it is sewn on by stitching a line down the pocket to create a seperation in the pocket. Make sure you don’t sew the tops of your pockets closed. And feel free to reinforce your stitches at their start and stop points by reversing and forwarding over them once or twice.

Step 7: Finishing touches. Once all of your pockets are sewn on, you can add your finishing touches. I added four screw on grommets at the bottom (for necklaces and bracelets). I then placed my dowel back in its pocket, added dowel caps, tied on a piece of thin rope for hanging and tied on some decorative tassel trim to each side. (refer to photo below)

Total cost: around $12

Total time: 2 hours (give or take some depending on whether you partake in the painting step or not)

The windows are open and the sun is shining. Have a beautiful first weekend of Spring!

~xoxo~