Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh 2013...

This Christmas in Ohio, someone pulled out a box of old family pictures. We all sat on the floor and sifted through the faded images, laughing at the hair and clothes, reminiscing about the ones who were no longer there to share the moment. That cardboard box held 70 years of memories inside. 70 years that went by far too quickly if my short 24 years so far are any indication. 

With my Sister on the family Christmas card. 1992, maybe?

Is it just me, or does 2014 sound like an unrealistic year? Shouldn't we have hover cars and robots by now? Isn't that what everyone expected of the future? And now that future is here. We may not have hover cars, but we have phones that require zero cords or cables plus they can do just about anything you may need at any time. Are you lost? NOPE. Have a song stuck in your head that you can't wait to hear? NOPE. Bored? NOPE. Are you wishing you remembered your camera to take a nice picture of events unfolding? NOPE NOPE. It's cellular magic.

Now that 2013 is just about over, I've become nostalgic just like the rest of humanity. For starters, this little blog was born in 2013! I have loved coming up with fun things to share, "meeting" new creatively inspiring people of blogland, and (perhaps most importantly) had a great project to keep me out of trouble! In the coming months, I plan to overhaul the archive sections so it will be much easier to find past projects or just browse. I also plan to go back to a regular posting schedule and stop tricking everyone. Slowly but surely, good things are coming this way.

Also in 2013, I finished my term as an AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader and moved to Greenville, SC to start working at what just might be the most perfect job I could have asked for. I love the city, I love the work and the people. I'm excited to have more than just a year in this place after so many short stays!

There were some slightly less good things about 2013 as well. I had a lot of lingering worries and emotional struggles after my accident in 2012 that I had been trying to ignore. Once I acknowledged the effect it was having on my life and my happiness, I could begin the process of addressing it. Life is short and uncertain; why should I spend it worrying about things beyond my control?

I don't have any resolutions for the New Year yet. I was trying to think of some to list but they all seemed so forced. What are your resolutions? Maybe I'll steal some of your ideas :)

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve! (Last minute Ideas)

It's snowing! IT'S SNOWING!

Not in Greenville, but in Ohio where I am right now with family. I can smell the delicious dishes being prepared in the kitchen while Gram's big dog snores in front of me comfortably on the carpet. I'm still rocking pjs and slippers. In short, it's the perfect way to start Christmas Eve day. But I realized there are so many projects I'd been working on that never got posted in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. If you're looking for a few last minute details, one of these ideas might be just the trick. Most take very little time and use things that are probably around your house anyway.

1. Christmas Cookies

Here's a few of my favorite recipes:
Molasses Spice Cookies
Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2. Handmade Ornaments

Cinnamon-Applesauce Ornaments (I used the extras of these to make a garland)
Salt Dough Ornaments (these would be cute as gift tags too)

3. Felt Table Runner

You will Need:
Felt long enough to hang over the edge of your table and about 12" wide
Puffy paint
glitter (optional)

Tie the ends of the felt on each side of the table and use your puffy to draw on details like snowflakes. I accidentally got glitter all over it since I used glitter ribbon and ended up liking it better. Also, since I used remnants my felt wasn't quite long enough to hang over the edges so I sewed an extra 18" on either end. That means there's a seam at the edge of the table which at first I didn't like but that's grown on me as well. Basically, it's impossible to mess this up.

Whatever you've made, or not made, bought or not bought, eaten or not eaten, I hope it's all part of the magic that make your Christmas a happy and bright one filled with love and happiness :) More important than any of it is enjoying the time with family and friends. I'm off to go help Gram make corn flake cookies!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Simple Glass Ornaments


Seriously, how is it already the 11th? I feel like Thanksgiving tricked me this year by being so late. Oops. If you're like me and feeling desperately behind, I have an easy project suggestion that would be great as a stocking stuffer or simple, elegant gift.

It's pretty simple, especially if you're comfortable with free-handed drawing. All it takes is plain glass ornaments, puffy paint, ribbons, candy and a dry erase marker if you want to sketch out your drawings before using the puffy paint.

 We wanted each one to be unique so we used about 16 different Christmas images: star, a strand of lights, a fire place, stockings, Santa hat, silver bells, candy cane, gingerbread man, ornaments, Christmas tree,  wreath, snow man, snowflakes, holly, and then a few logos of the organizations receiving gifts.

After the paint dried overnight, we filled them with M&Ms and put a ribbon on top to finish them. We then realized the candy made them VERY heavy and also easier to break. Instead, we used the candy as a layer of protection around the ornaments when we put them in the gift bags. Functional and tasty, 2 things I love. 

The dry erase marker is particularly helpful for detailed projects, like this Pensacola Beach sign. If you use the dry erase maker then just use a dry paint brush to wipe off any extra after the paint dries. It's kind of fun to do. I would find myself using the marker even when I didn't need an outline just because I enjoyed brushing it off later... Is that weird? Don't judge me.

Pretty simple, but fun to make and seemed to be very well received by the people they were given to (it was actually a work project, I wish I had this many gifts finished for friends!).

So you have any handmade ornaments on your tree? Have you spent a lot of time mastering the beast that is puffy paint? I'd love to know!


Friday, November 29, 2013

Weekend Inspiration: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? I had 2 Thanksgiving dinners so I could pretty much roll back to SC. That said, both were amazing. I think everyone can agree that one of the best parts of the holiday, aside from the time with family and the general happiness, is the leftovers for days if not weeks to come! This weekend inspiration is meant to help you find some fun new ideas to use those leftovers.

Use a bunch of your leftovers to make these delicious sliders to enjoy during the next big game.

Turkey lasagna: finally something that's a healthier alternative than the norm as opposed to everything else made at Thanksgiving. I'm looking at you, green bean casserole. There's actually a few recipes on this cite for leftovers I'm curious to try.

In the spirit of Thanksgivukkah, how about some mashed potato latkes?

Used some leftover cranberry sauce to make yourself a celebratory margarita. You earned it ;)

I'm curious to try these empanadas made with leftovers. The idea of making them with pastry dough sounds ah-maz-ing.

And from our own kitchen so far we've made:
1. Turkey noodle soup
2. Turkey wrap with spinach
3. Turkey tetrazzini

The soup and tetrazzini are staples of the Mettetal kitchen. It just wouldn't be thanksgiving time without them!

Already made plans for your leftovers? Or (like me) are you still too full to even think about eating again in the near future? I'd love to know!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a wonderful day, full of love and time for thankfulness. If you're traveling, be safe! And if you're staying put, be happy!

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions you're looking forward to? Any special plans for this year? I'd love to know!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

When do you put up your (real or fake) tree?

Happy 2 days before Thanksgiving! Too early? Okay...

As I write this, I'm back in Sunny Florida where the weather is about 80 with a slight wind. It cracks me up that my entire family thought it was cold here this weekend. Do you know what the temperature was? 68 degrees. 6.8. That was a moment of realization for me that it wasn't changing my address, or moving a million times, or changing my drivers license to a new state that makes me no longer a Floridian. It's the fact that I'm no longer freezing when it's in the 60's outside. OH THE HUMANITY.

But all that aside, I have a serious question for y'all: When do you put up your Christmas tree? It's a tradition for our family to have the tree up the week of Thanksgiving, preferably before the holiday meal so we can enjoy it with any guests. My parents always use a fake tree. For about 20 years we had used a tree that had belonged to my Grandparents before it found it's way here. By the end, that little tree was sad, almost bare and leaning heavily but we loved it still! It wasn't until the tree started to look dangerously imbalanced that we bought a new tree.

I've been thinking long and hard about whether I want to buy a real tree this Christmas or a fake one to have for years to come. There's something so festive in the smell of a live tree, but there's also something to be said for having the same tree for many, many years. It's like having another member of the family just for the holidays. And then there's the maintenance of a real true vs. storage of a fake tree. I just don't know!

When do you set up your tree? Do you prefer real or fake trees? I'd love to know!


P.S. My Mom uses beads as garland instead of tinsel around the tree. I love the simple look and it doesn't leave little pieces all over like tinsel does. Just a thought.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Snowflake Crust Apple Pie

It stands to reason that I should use a cookie cutter at least every now and then, right?

I made an apple pie the other night and decided at the last minute to do something a little different with the crust. I love this apple pie recipe because it's so simple but I like to make a few adjustments. For starters, I'm a big cheater and use pre-made crust dough (the kind that come in the refrigerated section and rolls out). Also, I used what I had which ended up being granny smith apples. Bobby Flay's recipe turned into this:

1 box of pre-made pie crust
4 granny smith apples
3/4 cup fine sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Slice up the apples, throw everything in a bowl except the crust (obv) and stir it up. It's going to look a little dry but it will be fine. Promise. Set it aside while you work on your crust.

Roll out one piece of dough for the bottom crust. Run a rolling pin over it to fix any cracks or inconsistencies. Place in buttered pie pan and pinch the edges. Toss in the filling. Roll out the next piece and use a snowflake cookie cutter to cut out as many pieces as possible.The snowflakes were a much easier alternative to time-consuming lattice crust and worked just as well.A cookie cutter and about 10 minutes was all it took. As you can see, these snowflakes landed all over the place without much pattern. I should have sprinkled brown sugar over the top but didn't think about it until after it was baked.

Bake your pie for at least 30-40 minutes. Keep an eye on it though: mine browned very quickly and had to be turned occasionally to prevent burning.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert? More importantly, what's your favorite kind of pie!? I'd love to know.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Granny Square Seat Cushions

You may have seen my dismay yesterday when my post was lost somehow. Have no fear! It's ready for your crafty consumption. 

$25 solid wood chairs? Yes please. Sitting for any extended period on solid wood? No thank you. I love these simple, plain pine chairs from Ikea but they needed a healthy dose of color and comfort. These seat covers were my handmade solution.

It's actually 2 different layers but it doesn't take nearly as long as you would think. I could finish 2 in a night. Or, 4 episodes of The Good Wife if you prefer that measure of time.

You will Need:

A bunch of random yarn in any color you like (it's a GREAT way to use up scraps)
1 full skein of your background color
crochet hook, I used 5.5
optional: stitch markers

It's easiest to start with the backing square:

Instead of repeating the steps to make a corner each time, I'll write them here and note "corner stitches". To make a solid corner, dc 2 in same stitch, dc 3 in next, dc 2 in next.

Ch 6, slip stitch to join in circle
Row 1: Single crochet 12 through center hole, slip stitch to join
Row 2: chain 2, dc in next 2 stitches, corner stitches, *dc in next 3 stitches, corner stitches* join with slip stitch

At this point, it would be helpful to add stitch markers to the center corner stitches. If you don't have stitch markers, you can use safety pins, other pieces of yarn, or anything else on hand to mark your corners.

Row 3-12: From here on out, you will dc in each stitch across until you get to the 3 stitches that make up the corner and join the end of each row with a slip stitch.

Finish it off and remove your stitch markers. You can make as many rows as needed for the size of your chair, but 12 worked well for mine. Also, if you're making the back squares different colors, make sure your yarns are the same weight or it will result in different sizes in you cushions.

Now on to the granny square part which is much faster even though you have to change colors:

This time in the corners you'll dc 3, ch 3, dc 3 in the space

Ch 6, slip stitch to join in circle
Row 1:ch 2, dc 2 in center, *ch 3, dc 3 in center* join with slip stitch
Row 2: change color if desired,*ch 3, dc 3 in space* corners
Row 3-12: change color each row if desired, dc 3 in each space, ch 3, corners

That's the worst explanation ever for a granny square... I should stop trying to write patterns. But it's so repetitive! If you've done it right once, you can just keep doing the same thing over and over. Don't forget to weave in the tails as you go so you don't hate yourself at the end of it.

Once you've finished the granny square and the solid square, you'll join them together by single crocheting all around the edges. The number of stitches don't line up perfectly so you'll have to use your judgment and spacing.

When you finish that, you're done! It'll look a little something like this:

Just lay it flat on your chair. It doesn't provide a ton of padding but it definitely helps. I'm brainstorming what to add to the back of it to keep it in place better without ruining the look.

Are you a fan of multicolored decorations? Any suggestions on what to add to give it a little grip? I'd love to know!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I was all excited to post projects, or at least SOMETHING, every day this week leading up to Thanksgiving. I had everything photographed and planned out. The anticipation was real...

Then something happened in internet land and my post prepared for today disappeared. POOF. As if the dinosaurs of the interwebs got hungry for slightly blurry pictures of yarn and devoured it. Fortunately, I still have the pictures and memory to re-write it. Unfortunately, I do not currently have the time. No one will probably even notice, BUT I KNOW IT.

Long story short, I'm thinking there may have to be 2 posts tomorrow or one very late one today. In the meantime I'm going to console myself with a donut at lunch time and continue pouting.

 I will have my revenge on you, inter-web dinosaurs!  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Put a Cork in it! (Cork Place Mats)

A while ago, I found this amazing table that I fell in love with almost instantly. It's an antique folding table that has a healthy dose of wear and tear and was buried beneath a protective force field of dirt. Through all that I could see the diamond in the rough. I bought it, forced it to fit into my car, cursed my sedentary life choices while drudging it up the stairs to my apartment, and cleaned it up a bit. Now it's one of my favorite pieces of furniture. I'm having so much coming up with accessories and centerpieces. The most recent incarnation of "table dress-up" has been these very simple cork place mats.

I bought a roll of thin cork a while ago for a project that never happened. I'm pretty excited to let it live out it's crafty destiny in some way finally. The timing just happened to work out around Thanksgiving. This would easily be a fun project to keep kids busy while they are waiting for Turkey time AND teach them some basic sewing.

You Will Need:

4 pieces of thick cardboard, cut to 12"x18" rectangles (I used a furniture box)
1 roll of thin cork, large enough to cut 4-12"x18" rectangles
box cutter
writing utensil
yarn of your choice
yarn needle
*optional: hole punch, decoupage roller

First cut your cork and cardboard to size. This was easiest to do using a SHARP box cutter. Make sure you cut the cork very carefully or it will tear. Not that it happened to me.*

*That is exactly what happened to me. 

Pour a thin amount of glue on the cardboard, focusing on the edges and corners with a large x through the center. I used a foam brush to smooth it out the first few but found that to be unnecessary. Line up the cork to the edges and press it to the cardboard. If you have a decoupage roller, you can use that to smooth the cork down. If not, just use your hands. They work too. After gluing I trimmed the edges with a box cutter again to make sure everything lined up perfectly.

Use your ruler and writing utensil on the back (the cardboard side) to draw a line an inch away from the edge all the way around. If you have a hole punch (I used my crop-a-dile on the small setting) you can pre-punch holes every quarter to half inch or so. You can just skip this step and get your yarn on if you're impatient but punching holes in advance makes the sewing go much faster. Double thread your yarn needle and start in a corner. You'll stitch all around the edges on the line. When the yarn runs out, just double thread your needle again and tie the ends tightly onto the old piece in the place mat. It makes for a pretty easy transition. 

Once you're done stitching the edges, tie the yarn to itself and flip it over. Admire your handiwork and subtly encourage those around you to compliment it.

Do you already have your Thanksgiving table all planned out? Is there room for a handmade addition or is it full of family pieces? I'd love to know!


P.S. A sneak preview of tomorrow's project...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beaded Badge Holder Necklace

My friend Nicole and I served as VISTAs together in Montana 2 years ago. Since then, we both moved on to new professions in new areas but it's still fun to support each other whenever the opportunity arises. When she first started her current job, she decided to fancy up the mandatory I.D. badge with a project I'm sure many people could use. She was kind enough to share her process:

So, I recently started a job in a secure building that requires me to wear an I.D. badge at all times. I got this horrible badge chain the solid black and my picture never faces the right way, no matter how many times I try to change it.

For this project I started with some basic tools.

Needle Nose Pliers with a side cutter
Beadalon bead stringing wire in satin silver and .46mm
Beadalon crimp beads size #1 in silver
Beadalon swivel badge clip
Barrel clasp in silver (not pictured)

(Beadalon did not sponsor this post, I just happen to use the brand most often)

I selected very small purple beads and two shades of purple and one shade of teal that were just a little bit bigger.

I started out by laying my beads out on my beadboard. You don't have to use a beadboard, it just helps to see it laid out. My pattern: 10 very small purple beads, 1 of each shade of the small purple, and a teal. I repeated it about 2-3 times around my board. I measured out my wire by wrapping it around my neck and making it a little longer than I wanted it to be when finished.

This is what it looked like near the end:

Once you've got the beads on to the length that you want your chain to be it's time for the tricky part. Finishing it.

I finished mine by looping the end of my string and sliding a crimp bead over it. Keep the loop big enough to fit your clasp. Crimp your bead with the pliers and your loop will stay in place. Do this with both sides.

Once you're done with that simply loosen the hooks on each side of your barrel clasp and connect each side to your loops. Pry them closed with your pliers the necklace portion is done!

It should look something like this:

To place my badge clip on I unhooked my clasp and slid it on.

Finished product:

Nicole stepped slightly outside of her comfort zone to share the project, but she's no stranger to the internet world. Check out more of her writings on her tumblr teenagebookland.tumblr.com where she reviews and shares about her favorite books. Thanks so much Nicole! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chalkboard Bar Top (Renter friendly!)

I've just discovered the coolest thing ever: chalkboard contact paper.

The roll on Amazon is $6 for a piece 18" across and 6' long. I wasn't totally sure what do with it when I bought it, but I knew I wanted it. The package arrived Friday and by Friday afternoon this plain boring bar top area became a chalkboard bar top. It took about 10 minutes and should be just as easy to remove when it's time for me to move out again. In the mean time, I love the variety it brings to the kitchen and how it matches the living room.

Carefully cleaning the counter top is important since even a grain of salt leaves a bump in the finished surface. Unroll the contact paper to lay it out straight. A ruler works well to press down the contact paper as you pull the backing paper from under it very slowly to make sure it doesn't get crooked. The trickiest part was using a box cutter to trim the edges once the entire counter was covered. Last, I "primed" the surface by lightly covering it with chalk. I've heard that's an important step for all things chalkboard.

Oh, and I bought a fish! Her name is Fancy. She lives on the counter now. I drew her picture. Because I'm an adult.

A perfect, simple big impact project with little effort for us renters out there! Or homeowners who just don't want to commit.

Have you been wanting to try the chalkboard trend? Did you already jump in head first? I'd love to know!


P.S. You should have at least a few inches left over from the end and the side. Hold on to them if you can, I've got some ideas in the works.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Hope you have some fun plans for this Halloween Thursday! I've been a bit MIA this week because I was trying to finish a project before this morning. What project could be so important? Oh, only just an entire Charlotte's Web barn display for Trunk or Treat. What'dya think?

I'm Wilbur. In case the nose, ears, and tail don't give it away.

What is your Halloween costume? Did you make it? I'd love to know!

Sheila :) 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Do you write down recipes anymore?

How long has it been since you've written down a recipe, instead of just bookmarking or 'pinning' it?

Every few months I pull out this recipe book and add in my favorites. Not just anything that looks interesting, but a recipe that's been tested and enjoyed multiple times. If it makes it into the recipe book, there is something special about it that deserves to be recorded the old-fashioned way.

This book in particular is special because my Mother gave it to me. My parents celebrated their wedding anniversary this past week, which made me a little nostalgic and sentimental. Mom gave this recipe book to me with a few of our family favorites written in already so anything added has to live up to the standard. Most recently, this recipe for personal-sized baked oatmeal lived up to the bar (I write this as I eat one right now. No joke.)

I also love recipe cards. For some reason, they seem perfect for cookies and baking recipes. There are few simple pleasures I enjoy more than giving someone a recipe written on a cute little card, instead of emailing a boring ol' link.

Do you write down recipes? Do they have a certain standard to live up to before you record them? I'd love to know!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Crochet Pumpkin Patch Garland

TINY THINGS. Do you loves them as much as I do? I stand by my choice to adore things more for the simple fact that they are smaller than their full-sized counter parts. This love has most recently manifested itself in this little crochet pumpkin patch that even a beginning crocheter can make in less than an hour.

You will need:

Orange yarn
different shades of green and brown yarns
crochet hook

The size and gauge of the yarn/hook don't matter. Use whatcha got. I made about 10 pumpkins for my 3ft garland.

Start by making your pumpkins:

Chain 3.
Row 1: Double crochet 9 stitches into 3rd stitch from hook (the first chain you made). The last 2 chain stitches will count as a double so you'll end up with a circle of 10 double crochets. Slip stitch to join.
Row 2: 2 single crochets into next 3 stitches, 2 double crochets into next 2 stitches, 2 single crochets into next 3 stitches, 2 double crochets into next 2 stitches to make the oval shape. 20 stitches total.
Finish it off by tying and weaving in your ends.

Time to add them to the vine:

Use your first color of green or brown to chain at least 15 stitches. Add a pumpkin in by single crocheting through the top few stitches. I did each one a little different but used about 3 or 4 stitches each time. Chain anywhere from 15 to 30 stitches in between each pumpkin for desired length and variation.
Add other colors to give your vine dimension by chaining with 2 pieces of yarn at once. No need to tie in a new color, it seems to stay just fine. Occasionally, I would chain a few of one color and wrap the other around it then pick it back up in the chain. Leaving the ends loose looks cute.

You could add more variety by crocheting leaves along the vine as well. Or make little jack-o-lantern faces! I'm thinking about adding some acorns when it gets closer to Thanksgiving.

Do you decorate for the holidays? Living alone, I'm the only one who enjoys it but I still love to do it. Do you decorate for yourself or for family and visitors? I'd love to know!


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