Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guest post: Spanish Style Stenciled Tile Framed Art Piece

Check out this awesome project from my blogger friend Lisha. I absolutely love the finish product! Plus, she's got a giveaway happening for some of the materials she used:
Hey everyone, I'm Lisha from One House One Couple! Sheila was kind enough to let me come over to her "house" all the way from California to share a fun project I recently did with y'all -- I thought it'd be fitting to put that "y'all" in for a good southern touch ;)

What I made was a DIY stenciled spanish-style tiled piece of art to hang up next to our entryway gate to make it more welcoming for our guests. We live in a little house in the back, so our entry way is on the alley, so it's not too pretty out there.

This is what it looked like when we first moved in:

And it took us about a year to get around to it, but we recently cleaned it up and planted some bougainvillea:

But I knew it still needed a little sprucing up. And what finally sparked an idea was a company called W.R. Grace & Co. that wanted to send me a sample of their new product Bondera (a really awesome tile adhesive that you use in place of mortar) to try out and then also give it away on my blog to one lucky winner -- which is happening right now! We're giving away a 12"x10' roll and a 4"x10' roll of Bondera, plus a $10 Home Depot giftcard to go with it!

So if you're planning on doing any tiling projects in the near future, I suggest you head on over and enter to win and also see how I used it because this Bondera stuff is the best! It's easy to use, it's clean, you can walk away from your project in the middle of it and come back later (unlike with mortar because it will dry all up), and you can grout right away (unlike with mortar where you have to wait at least 24 hours to grout).

Anyway, I'm going to show you the fun part of the project here!

First I used a 4'x2' piece of thin plywood, 4"x4" ceramic tiles that you can get for like 13 cents each, Bondera TileMatSet, and grout to get to this point:

For stencil painting the tiles you will need acrylic paint in the colors of your choice, a foam brush, a poster board, utility knife, a straight edge to cut along (if desired), and some paper towel.

I made a stencil out of poster board that I could use to paint the same pattern on every tile.

I just eye-balled it, drawing what I wanted with a pencil, and cut out the pieces with a utility knife. But if you're not very good at drawing you can print something out, glue stick it on to the poster board and cut it out. Just make sure your finished stencil is the same size as the tile. And you want to make sure you cut it so that there is an extra inch or two on every side of your full stencil so the paint doesn't run off the edge on to your other tiles when you're splotching it on.

Next I chose my colors, and which color would go where. I decided on blue, green, yellow, and orange. To save time, you should just do one color on all the tiles first, then clean your foam brush in between colors and switch and do all of another color on all tiles. Even if you have more than one foam brush, when you start doing a new color, the paint from the last color won't be dry, so the last color will get in the brush of the new color.

So I started off with blue, and what you want to do is just put a little bit of paint on your foam brush and just dab it to fill it in. Swiping your brush across will make more paint go underneath the stencil and you don't want that.

I went through all the colors and ended with yellow. If you start with darker colors (like blue) and move on to lighter colors (like yellow), you really need to make sure you rinse off your brush completely in between colors. So just to be safe, it's actually smarter to start off with your lightest color and move on from color to color going lightest to darkest.

One thing you want to be sure to do is pat the under side of the stencil with a paper towel to dry the paint after each tile. This keeps all the bleeding from ending up on your next tile.

The cool think about the ceramic tile is the glossy coat makes it easy to get the paint off if you mess up. You can just scrape the paint off with your fingernail or something.

Here's how it looked once I was done with the stencil painting:

Once I was done painting, since I was going to hang my project outside, I decided to spray a clear coat over it all to protect it from the weather. I used Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel.

Then I needed to put the frame on. I used 1'x3's to frame it. I explain how to cut the plywood to the right size and place the tiles correctly in order to fit the framing on when it's done in my Bondera giveaway post. Once the tiles were done, I cut the 1x3s to size at 45 degree angles.

I then screwed on some 1" nails through the front to keep the framing in place:

Then to really secure it, I used a staple gun to stable it a bunch of times in the back as well:

And here's how the final piece looked:

So then I had this space to put it in:

And I grabbed my husband Kyle to help me hold it up while I unscrewed 4 of the screws and screwed longer screws in their place that would go through the fence as well to hold it up in place:

And now our "front" yard looks like this:

I think it will look really nice once the bougainvillea starts growing more to fill it in. I'm also planning on doing some rock landscaping to give the ground a more finished look as well.

So that's that! Thanks again to Sheila for welcoming us over to Beyond the Cookie Cutter! It's been fun. Y'all can come join me any time at One House One Couple, twitter, facebook, or pinterest, and don't forget to hop on over to enter for the giveaway!

Also, come see the guest post Sheila did at our blog! She created a really cool terracotta end table!

So what have you all been up to? Has the summer weather given you inspiration to do any outdoor projects?

P.S. I'm pretty sure this project could be pretty easily modified for those of us renters. Thanks so much for sharing Lisha :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Weekend Inspiration: Watermelon

If I could eat fruit for every meal over the summer, I would. My roommate has half a watermelon in the fridge that's just been sitting there, staring at me. She went out of town last night and it took everything I had not to attack it with my face. I could just buy my own watermelon, but for some reason this forbidden fruit seems all the more enticing. At least it gave me an idea for the Weekend Inspiration theme although, I have a feeling this might just make it worse...

Watermelon cake pops with little chocolate chip seeds. I have the feeling these would be a lot of work.

Watermelon lemonade sounds delicious!

Feta bites for all you fancy eaters out there.

Baby shoes pattern! SO TINY. SO CUTE.

I've never had/made gazpacho before. I wonder if this watermelon recipe is a good beginner dish?

This door hanger could only be more southern if they added a "Y'all" to the end.

If there was such a thing as leftover watermelon, this salsa would be a great way to use it up.

Make your own watermelon picnic basket!

Watermelon shark attack! I'm not sure if they blueberry eyes make this extra awesome or extra creepy.

What are you doing this weekend? I think we're going to head down to Charleston and make some time for the beach. Maybe we'll bring along some watermelon :)

Do you have any watermelon specialties besides slice and eat? And favorite flavor combinations? I'd love to know!

Sheila :)

P.S. I guess I should miss an opportunity to plug my own post! Oops. How about some watermelon cookies?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Honest Alert: Everyday Happiness

I thought it would be fun to share a subject with you that's near and dear to my heart: happiness.

As you've already heard, I'm not totally certain what is happening after my service term ends in less than a week. I'm all packed up for the most part with most everything in storage, including the majority of my crafting goodies. I've made a few projects ahead of time in anticipation, but I'm guarding them like tiny baby birds and only letting them leave the nest one at a time. For the next few weeks, pickings around here may be a little slim BUT I promise to make up for it with all kinds of  awesomeness once I get settled on the other side of this hurdle. So please stay with me. I need you in my life!

In the meantime, let's get back to talking about happiness.

I don't mean walking around oblivious to the world and what's happening around you, I mean choosing to be aware and alert and still express happiness over sadness, or bitterness, or jealousy--you name it. Finding sources of happiness in all the little things is one of the most important lessons a person can learn in life, in my humble opinion. Because I'm a helpful person, I made you a list of things in which I find little everyday happiness.

1. Little kids wearing sunglasses
2. Elderly people holding hands
3. The word "frolic" or the action, for that matter
4. When I trip but don't completely fall (Take THAT, gravity!)
5. A random call or text from an old friend
6. Breakfast food
7. Thinking I ran out of something, and realizing there is one left
8. When my current jam comes on the radio
9. Finding heart-shaped things in nature
10. Sidewalk chalk
11. Anything in miniature form
12. A happy news article
13. A good hair day
14. Getting to wear the same outfit 2 days in a row because I won't be seeing the same people
15. Thinking something must be done, then remembering I already did it
16. Afternoon walks
17. Randomly thinking about Christmas
18. Surprise free food
19. Finding something that was lost
20. Having the right thing to say at the right time

What would you have on your list of everyday things that make you happy? Would any of these make your list? I'd love to know!

Sheila :)

P.S. If you're interested in more on everyday happiness, you should check out the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. A friend gave it to me a while ago and I've loved it ever since.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Crochet Bottle Cozy

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend. Did you know yesterday was National Ice Cream Day? We celebrated with an ice cream “tour” of Columbia, making stops at locally owned ice cream places like Paradise Ice and Rosewood Dairy Bar. I may not want ice cream again for a while, but it sure was fun at yesterday. There are few things better than sitting on a hot summer day holding a cold ice cream cone. Maybe the next best thing I can think of is holding a cold drink. Until it becomes a warm drink. So make this cozy to keep that from happening! (Smooth transition, right?)

I’m not much for writing or using crochet patterns to be honest. Usually I just try to start making whatever I have in mind; either it works or it fails miserably. This is my learning style. Then I adjust accordingly. There could potentially be MANY mistakes in this pattern, so please, please tell me if you attempt to make it and run into trouble.

A few things to keep in mind:

You can get a refresher of the basics here.

A slip stitch is usually used to finished a row without adding height and is very easy to do. Insert hook, yarn over, and pull all the way though so the yarn you just picked up is the only thing loop left on your hook. 

To turn your piece, you literally just turn it around. Not the hook but the project, so that you are working on top of the stitches you just recently finished heading the other direction. Maybe some hardcore crocheters do it differently, but this has always worked fine for me. 

Crocheters are lazy when it comes to writing down patterns and frequently use abbreviations. Below are the ones I will use, which are standard terms.

            1. ch = chain stitch
            2. sc = single crochet
            3. dc = double crochet
            4. sl = slip stitch
            5. st = stitch
            6. *repeat everything inside these the amount indicated*

I’ll start by writing it out, but eventually switch to the abbreviations once the lazy factor kicks in. Oh, and I used worsted yarn (Red Heart Super Savers yeahya), size 5.5 (or I-9) hook, a yarn needle, and about 8" of ¼ inch thick ribbon. Let's do this!

Row 1: Chain 3
Row 2: Double crochet 8 in the 3rd stitch from hook, slip stitch to first stitch
Row 3: Chain 2, double crochet 2 in each stitch around, slip stitch (18 stitches)
Row 3: Chain 2, *dc 2 in first stitch, dc 1 in next* continue this around the circle. Slip stitch. (27 st)
Row 4: Single crochet in each stitch.

This is should make the base of your cozy. Now it’s time to build upwards.

Row 5: Dc on just the top half of stitches around. This will create the “walls” of the  cozy. Slip stitch to join (27 st).

Row 6-12: *Ch 2, dc in each stitch, join with sl st.* There is no need to turn yet. Unless you really want to.

Row 13: Ch 2, dc around but do not join. When you get to the start of the row, instead of joining you will turn.
Row 14: Ch 2, head back in the opposite direction with dc around, when you get to the end, turn.
Row 15: Ch 2, dc around, when you get to the end of this row you’re done! Tie it off and use a yarn needle to weave the ends.

Use the same yarn needle to weave in a thin piece of ribbon in the top row. The ribbon can be tied around the bottle to make sure it stays in place.

Now you have the week to work on this so it's ready for your next adventure. BTdubbs I chose garnet and black because those are Gamecock colors so the roomie can use this for tailgating when football season starts back up and be the cool kid at the party. Because that's what using crocheted goods in public makes you.

What is your summer beverage of choice? More importantly, what are your team colors? I'd love to know.

Sheila :)

PS. We accidentally discovered this same pattern fits perfectly around a regular sized plastic water bottle. Two for one! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Weekend Inspiration: Beach Towels

Fist things first, the winners of the very first giveaway on BTCC are Nicole Gottschall and Jamie Lee Martin! Thanks so much to everyone who participated :) I'll be emailing this weekend to make sure you get your prize.

The rain here wants to go away. It's trying. But not very hard. Now I find myself day dreaming of sunny summer days in high school when a big group of us would pile into one car (because only one of us was old enough to drive yet) and head down to the beach for an afternoon. With this memory in mind, the Weekend Inspiration theme is beach towels:

It looks pretty easy to make this 3-in-1 beach tote that serves as a tote/organizer, then folds out to become a towel.

It wouldn't be a weekend inspiration post without at least one cupcake. This tutorial on Sweet Creations teaches how to make a cute striped beach towel with fondant.

Crochet beach towel pattern! Can't think of a better way to be simultaneously nerdy and trendy.

This is technically not a beach towel, it's a beach blanket. I'm assuming the only difference is that it's huge.

Make your own collapsible beach chair using some dowels and a towel! SO doing this.

I have a pretty serious cookie crush on these little towels

This tutorial for a pocketed beach towel has been all over the internet - and for good reason.

Anyone who has ever been to the beach, ever, knows the only bad part is getting back in your car afterwards soaking wet and covered in sand. This removable beach towel seat cover looks like a great fix for at least some of that issue.

This weekend I'll be checking out the Tasty Tomato Festival here in Columbia. Are you doing anything exciting? I'd love to know!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kale and Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms.

Are you a mushroom lover, or a hater?

There doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground on this. Mushrooms have been high on my lists of favorite foods since childhood. I was that weird kid who hated whipped cream and coconut, but give me a plate of mushrooms and/or olives and I'd be one happy camper. To this day I have a tendency to add mushrooms into everything I cook.

When a friend shared this recipe for a kale and artichoke spread, I instantly felt the need to add mushrooms. And cheese. Because all good things include cheese.

You will need:

3 cups kale
1/2 can of artichoke hearts, about 5
2 gloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of half a lemon (about 1 tbsp)
a sprinkle of salt and pepper
8 oz of mushroom caps, I used Baby Bella 'cause that's my favorite
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, because you usually forget and have to wait on it later. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat with the minced garlic. Chop your kale as finely as possible before cooking it in olive oil. I don't have a fancy food processor, so I just use a knife and patience and it works to a varying degree. As the kale is cooking down, finely chop the artichoke hearts and add them to the pan. Squeeze the half a lemon over top of the mixture and sprinkle salt and pepper. Cook together on medium-low heat for a few minutes stirring occasionally.

As you're keeping an eye on that, wash the mushrooms and remove the stems. You could chop the stems and cook with the kale mixture but I chose to use them for other purposes (i.e. I ate immediately). When I bought these 'shrooms I had no intention of making stuffed mushrooms so I wasn't concerned about the size. Some of these look like baby mushrooms next to their momma mushroom. I would recommend being a little choosier to find slightly larger mushrooms if you buy them to stuff. Spoon in the mixture and lightly pack it. Top with a tiny sprinkle of cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes. Or until you get impatient and decide you're hungry and just want to eat them.

We enjoyed them with a slice of sunflower bread and fresh green beans. Delicious!

Do you have a favorite food you add into everything? It is also mushrooms!? I'd love to know.

Sheila :)

P.S. Today is the last day to enter the giveaway if you're interested. I'll announce a winner tomorrow. Exciting!

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Fit Your Life Into Your Car

I'm not sure if I'm bragging, or confessing, to be an expert on this.

I spent the majority of my weekend packing again. And watching a "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" marathon on Amazon Prime . Most people only have to figure out how to do fit everything they own into a vehicle once, maybe twice. I've now done this 4 times and may end up doing it a 5th. I've learned a thing or two about how to do this as easy as possible. If you're planning a life change, like heading off to college or national service, this might be helpful to you.

1. Purge: This one is obvious. I won't even get into it. Don't need it? Donate it. Saving it because of a memory attached to it, but you don't really like it? Take a picture, give it a kiss, and give it to someone who will appreciate beyond the sentimental value. Recycle and trash if needed, but mostly, donate. Don't forget to prioritize when it comes down to the wire. In the past, I've prioritized my sewing machine over a cheap vacuum. Let's be real, I used one WAY more than the other.

2. Use rubber bands and garbage bags to pack your clothes: I learned this when packing to go to college all those years ago. You can leave clothes on the hanger and group with with a rubber band. Tear or cut a small hole in the center of the solid side of the bag. Put the hanger loops through the hole and tie the bag at the bottom a la a less classy garment bag. This way, when you get to your destination, all you have to do is remove the bag and untie the rubber band. Unpacked! Easier to unpack, takes up less space, easier to fit into random spaces or lay flat, AND reduces wrinkles. Just do it.

3. Use bags: Garbage bags and shopping bags should be just as valuable to you as boxes. Your clothes in drawers? Use a separate bag for socks, scarves, unmentionables...however you decide to separate them.  Extra linens, bag 'em. Towels, bag 'em. Also, try to push any extra air out before tying it. I would not recommend using this method for anything that's not soft or has corners though, as it would be easy to tear open the bag.

4. Use your stuff to pack your stuff: Your t-shirt collection is impressive and you hate to loose any of it. Also, your collection of Calico Kitten figurines is on the DO NOT PURGE list... Using the t's to wrap the figurines lets you save room for both. I use t's and towels or blankets to wrap dishes and other glassware. Another example is belts. If I can belt together a group of like items that don't need the protection of a box, I do it. These wire shelves have been all over the country with me since they pack down easily but set up sturdily (is that a word?). Also, baskets. Fill 'em and tie a bag around them.

5. Pack a suitcase: You're probably thinking "I can't pack anything yet because I still need most of this stuff." Then you wait to the last minute and start panicking. A big way around this it to take a suitcase and pack up a selection of outfits, shoes, accessories, and toiletries you're going to need. It will make the the packing time a lot easier, plus you will already have necessities when you get to the new place and won't have to feel pressured to unpack right everything immediately. Another way to help with this issue is...

6. Pack the same room, not the same stuff: When I'm packing a room, I start with the things I use least often. Instead of all pots and pans in one box, all utensils in another, etc. I go backwards in order of everyday usefulness. Then I unpack in opposite number order so I can take my time putting things away rather than search through for everything I need to make 1 meal. How do I know which box is the last box?...

7. Keep lists: I'm a chronic lister in general but it especially works when it comes moving time. In a notebook, I label a room, then the number of the box, and a general summary of the contents. Not every tiny thing, but the "Greatest Hits" of the box, if you will. Maybe you won't find this necessary, but to me it cuts way down on the chaos of locating everything once you're in your new place.

8. Suitcases in general: If you have more than one suitcase available, don't waste it to pack more clothes! Clothes are light and can easily be stored otherwise (see above). Use that extra suitcase for the heaviest things you're moving, like books. They're much more solid, less awkward to carry, and you'll probably be able to roll it at least part of the way. Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

9. Keep out extra blankets: If you haven't used blankets as a padding or wrapping device as described earlier, don't worry about packing them up. Keep them out and lay them over top of everything once the car is all packed up. Makes it a bit harder to see all the stuff when you stop at rest stops along the way and helps protect from heat and sun damage.

10. Get a roof top bag: This is one moving investment that I have used frequently and never regretted buying. Mine is from here. It's great because you don't need a roof rack to put it on, and this one just happens to be soft so I can roll it up and stow it in my trunk between moves. I went through a horrible rainstorm in Wyoming with this on my roof. My stuff never got wet inside the bag. A tiny bit of water did come into my car, but I think that was user error of over-tightening the straps.  And the few drops weren't bad in comparison to the crazy storm. It did effect my mileage slightly in windy areas like Kansas where there were no trees to cut the gusts but I didn't notice a big difference on less open interstates. I haven't put boxes in it (because I'm small and lifting boxes on top of my car is hard) but I would imagine they would be fine. Also bought the non-slip mat to go underneath the bag since I didn't have a roof rack. I think that made a big difference.

All packed up and ready to go (in 2011) after I give my big sis a big hug :) See the bag up there?

There you have it! It does take a bit longer to pack this way, but it saves a ton of space and makes unpacking go twice as quickly. I play a serious game of Tetris when packing up the car and don't waste space, but it's also important to make sure you're driving safely. Do your best not to block your site lines. Also, I have very limited furniture. My wire shelves and suitcase coffee table are about the only things that come with me usually, and they both pack down or fit more stuff inside. If you're not going to a furnished place, an air mattress would also be smart to include.

Hopefully this helps someone, somewhere! Any adventures planned? Any packing tips of your own you'd like to share? I'd love to know :)


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