Friday, June 29, 2012

Fake It 'til you Make It

Hi Everybody!

I am a firm believer in the "fake it 'til you make it" concept, because if you're anything like me, you probably really are qualified to do a lot more than you think you can do, but you don't try those things because they're scary.

Why am I talking about this?  I joined a new library today.  I haven't been to a library in a couple of years, but since I'm living in one place for the whole summer I finally have the opportunity to join one again.  After I got my card, I wandered over to the stacks and suddenly felt overwhelmed and unsure if I still remembered how to find the books I wanted.  But here's the kicker: in college I took a whole semester of Advanced Research Methods where we did nothing but learn how to use the library.  With that in mind, I gave myself a self-depricating peptalk ("Really, Laura, really?!?!") and marched myself over to the computer to look at the library catalogue, because that's what you do at a library.  I knew that if I made myself go through the motions and make it look like I knew what I was doing, I would remember how to do it along the way.  And that's exactly what happened.

That same principle applies to trying out craft projects.  If you find instructions for an adorable craft project that seems a little out of your league, ignore the doubts in the back of your mind and give it a shot.  You just might be amazed by the results.

Fake it 'til you make it, Baby!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Embroidery Floss-Wrapped Soap Dispenser

Hello Internet-Friends!

Check out my latest creation:

I fully understand that this project may seem a little superfluous, but in my world it is not.  In my world, I am looking for a silver lining to my very least favorite household chore which is washing dishes.  On top of it being my least favorite chore, I am also currently living in an apartment complex with all the original decorative stylings of the 1970s, so I get to do the dishes in the monstrosity pictured below.

I love my job and I love that they provide me with a place to live, but my HGTV watching, pinterest pinning heart cries out just a little bit more every time I walk across the speckled linoleum floor and fill up that brown sink with soapy water.

Our apartment may be living in the past, but we are members of the Costco cardholding present day.  Because of that, we have a jumbo-sized jug of dish soap under our sink that Justin cleverly decided to pour into a smaller hand-soap dispenser that we had used up.  That little dispenser was already my favorite part of doing dishes because I get a kick out of the way it squirts the soap onto the dishes when I pound the lever with my fist.  (It's the little things, right?)  So this week I decided to decorate it in bright, soapy colors.

Here's how I did it:

  1. Pick out 2 colors of embroidery floss.

  2. Paint a stripe of mod podge or other craft glue up the side of the soap dispenser so that the floss will have something to help hold it in place while you're wrapping it around the bottle.  I used an old bobby pin as a brush, but by all means use a real paintbrush if you have one handy.

  3. Begin wrapping the floss around and around the bottle, trying not to leave gaps between the thread.

  4. Once you've made a large enough yellow stripe on the bottom, glue the end of the orange floss in the spot where you left off with the yellow and wrap the orange almost all the way up to the top of the bottle.

  5. Switch back to yellow for the very top of the bottle.

  6. Once you've wrapped the entire thing, coat all of the embroidery floss in a thin layer of mod podge so that the floss will never fall off.  Let it dry for a couple of hours and you're finished!

Now I smile just a little bit every time I add more soap to the dishes, and isn't that the whole point of crafty DIY projects?  To make you smile?  I hope that all of the projects I post on this blog continue to brighten my world in small ways, and I hope that one or two of them might brighten yours as well.

Happy scrubbing!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Strawberry Butter fit for a Queen

Happy Sunday!

I hope that you, the lovely blog reader, had a great weekend.  Because I skate in ice shows for a living, I work on the weekends and have Wednesdays off.  And because my cast has a social calendar that's chock-full of traditions, we (traditionally) do brunch on Wednesday mornings.  And because we are also fun, the brunch always has a theme!  This past wednesday we had a Queen theme, which explains the tin foil crowns in the picture on the right.  And do you see the fuzzy moving plate that Justin is hoping to devour?  Those are the biscuits and the strawberry butter that we brought to the brunch.

I made some biscuits using gluten-free Bisquick and the recipe that was printed on the back of the box.  They were yummy, but nothing out of the ordinary.  What was out of the ordinary was the strawberry butter that I made to go on top of the biscuits; it was a huge hit among my friends!  I originally found the recipe on Martha Stewart's website, and you can find her original version of that recipe here if you would like to check it out.  Read on to see how I made it...

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup hulled and chopped fresh strawberries

*When Martha made this recipe, she used an electric mixer, but I used my Magic Bullet blender instead and it worked great.*

  • Mix the butter, sugar and salt for about 1 minute until it's light and fluffy.

  • Add the strawberries and mix them until they are combined with the butter but not entirely uniform.  Some chunks are a good thing.

  • Transfer the mixture into a serving dish and enjoy!

How easy is that?!  I loved that it only took me a few minutes to make, but when I brought it to the brunch it seemed fancy and special.  If you compare the amount of work I put into the dish to the response that I got from it, it was clearly a lot of reward for very little effort, which is how I feel all good recipes should be.

And look how cute Justin was.

When he thought I wasn't looking, he immediately went for the leftover strawberry butter on the base of the blender.  That is another mark of a great recipe!

Happy mixing!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Grownup Friendship Bracelets

Hello from Sandusky, Ohio!

I'm here all summer doing a really fun show at a really fun amusement park, and in one of the numbers in our show we get to dress up as ice skating crayons.  It's so funny!  Nothing gets me quite like dancing inanimate objects do.

In honor of our silly kids' number, for opening day I decided to make friendship bracelets for all my cast mates in their corresponding crayon colors.

Here's How You Do It:

  1. Cut 3 strips of black embroidery floss and 1 strip of an alternate color to 40" each.  Fold each individual strand in half then put them all together and tie them in a knot where you folded them, leaving a small loop for later. Tape the loop to the edge of a table and separate the strands into 4 sets of 2 as shown. For instructional purposes let's call the black strands A B and C and the alternate color stand will be X.

  2. Bring C over B and under X.

  3. Bring A under C and over X.

  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have braided the entire length of string.  It helps me to say "over under, under over" while I'm doing the braiding.  It also helps to hold all four strings in your hands at once, keeping them taut.  Once you let a strand or two start dangling, it's harder to keep the braid straight and even. Now begin your knot by looping the braid around your finger.

  5. Pull the loose end through the loop.

  6. Pull the knot tight.

  7. You've made the bracelet!  I made all of my bracelets up to this point and then wrapped them up in the paper that crayons are wrapped in and brought them to work.  (The crayon paper was courtesy of my boyfriend, Justin, who is dressed up as the hunky orange crayon in the picture at the beginning of this post.)  Once I had given them to everyone, I sized them to their wrists and added the finishing touches.

Here's how to size and finish the bracelets:

1.  Wrap the bracelet around the recipient's wrist twice to measure how long it should be.

2.  Tie a knot in the bracelet to mark the spot where you want it to end.
3.  Cut off the original knot you tied at the end of the un-measured bracelet you made earlier.

4.  Separate the contrasting colored strands from the black strands. (In this case, the contrasting colored strands are the light blue ones.)

5.  Thread the contrasting colored strands through the holes of a small button.

6.  Thread the same strands through the button holes again so they end up on the underbelly of the button.

7.  Cut off all the excess strings so that they can only be seen beneath the button.

8.  Put a dab of Mod Podge or other clear-drying glue on the end of the strings on the underside of the button so the knot won't come undone later.

9.  Let it dry and you've now got a custom-sized grown-up bracelet for one of your friends!

Here's what a finished bracelet looks like:

Notice how the button that you attached to the end fits neatly through the loop that you made in the very first step when you started making the bracelet?  If your loop is too big, your button will slip back out of the loop while you're wearing it and the bracelet will fall off.  If you have that problem, just tie another knot next to the original knot at the base of the loop.  It will make the loop smaller.

Aren't these bracelets so fun?  They are basically just the same as the ones that I made when I was a kid, but the double-wrapping and the button add that little something extra that distinguishes the things we love as grownups from the things we loved as kids.

Until next time,
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