The Million Dollar Wreath

I made this wreath simply because it was so beautiful and I just needed it. We don’t necessarily need a wreath for our door, but I used the excuse that we should have one. BUT unless you have a big chunk of extra change to spend or an “in” somewhere with cheap fake apples, I encourage you not to make this. It cost me roughly $150 – and that was $150 I did not really have to put towards this! But I was too deep in and would have wasted the money already spent if I just stopped. My boyfriend is not the hugest fan of this wreath, and he is the one who dubbed it The Million Dollar Wreath since it felt like every two days I would announce that I was out of apples and needed more. HOWEVER it’s absolutely gorgeous and turned out so well we decided to hang it over our TV in the space we’ve been trying to fill! Now we’ll be able to get $150 worth of enjoyment and viewing pleasure ūüôā

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Things You Need
– 4 bags big apples plus 2 additional singular big apples
– 6 bags small apples
– 11 inch flat foam wreath
– Burlap ribbon
– Fake grass/moss
– Lots of hot glue sticks

Directions
1. Cut some burlap into roughly 8 inch long strips. The length doesn’t matter very much, you just want it have enough to warp around the styrofoam wreath a few times.
2. Glue your burlap onto the wreath. When you wrap make sure it’s tight and flat. The purpose of this is so your apples have something to adhere to when you glue them on. Make sure every spot is covered, I even wrapped it with two layers to be sure it was good to go.
3. Break out your apples! I started with my big ones and placed them around on the wreath first to eyeball how I liked them, then started gluing.

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4. Keep gluing all your big ones, and then start adding your small apples. In the picture below I was 2 big apples short of having the outer ring completed so I started the small ones on the completed side.
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6. Once you’ve covered all the burlap around the wreath start building it up. With some dimension it should look very circular rather than awkwardly wavy.
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6. The last thing you will do is stick the fake grass/moss into the holes. This was pretty tedious and because I’m somewhat of a perfectionist I meticulously went around the wreath and shoved moss in every.single.hole. The way I made sure the moss got attached was pretty simple – I would push or aim the nozzle of my hot glue gun into the hole and then shove the moss down in there. Sometimes I had to use some tools to help me shove it in when the hole was smaller than my finger. Pretty tedious, but the result makes it look much fuller and thoroughly perfected! Plus expensive.
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7. Before we hang it I’m going to blast it with my blow dryer to get some of the loose moss and hot glue, and then I’m going to do a quick spray with some clear spray just to keep everything set!
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The Pots and Pans!

My boyfriend and I live a little while apart from each other and on the way there is a big red barn with lots of…well really lots of junk out front. It’s an antique store out in the middle of the country, and that is waaaay up my alley. My boyfriend and I went last weekend to do some furniture shopping, mostly browse, but we were blown away with the quality of the stuff they had when we walked in. The inside was way different than what they had sitting out front! Unfortunately we didn’t find any furniture to take with us, but when I went into the knick-knack room I found a cast iron dutch over and then a maaaasive skillet. Both are huge but were in pretty crappy condition. But I was not deterred because I had seen a how-to site recently (http://www.ibelieveicanfry.com/2010/12/reconditioning-re-seasoning-cast-iron.html) and it really didn’t look too hard. I got some flack and skepticism for purchasing them in that state, but I knew I’d show everyone!

Items needed:
– Heavy duty oven cleaner
– Gloves
– Steel wool
– Garbage bags
– White vinegar
– Lard

Directions
1. Take your cast iron items and cover completely in the over cleaner. You definitely need to wear gloves during this part, oven cleaner will burn your skin. I ignored it at the very end because I just wanted to get the bag tied up – oh, man. That was a mistake. I burned the crap out of my hands, they were dried and peeling for days.

How they looked at purchase

How they looked at purchase

2

Original inside of the skillet

Original bottom

Original bottom

Dutch oven before - notice the massive discoloration of the lid and pot

Dutch oven before – notice the massive discoloration of the lid and pot

2. Once the item is coated, put it in the garbage bag and seal tightly. The oven cleaner starts working immediately!! I kept them in my dining area because I don’t have a garage and I didn’t want to leave them outside on my balcony for fear of rusting or doing more damage to it in the southern humidity. The site recommends leaving them in the bag for 2-3 or a week for super grimy items.

Oven cleaner doing its job!

Oven cleaner doing its job!

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3. I left them in the bag for 3 days. Then I removed them, cleaned them off with warm water (this was super gross but sooooo awesome seeing the change), and dried off with paper towels. They all needed another couple days of soaking so I reapplied the oven cleaner, put them back in the garbage bags, and let them sit for another 2 days.

The difference on the pot after the first round, halfway cleaned.

The difference on the pot after the first round, halfway cleaned.

Lid after the first round, still some rust. About to be coated again.

Lid after the first round, still some rust. About to be coated again.

4. Once they were ready I took them out again, cleaned them off with warm water, wiped them off with paper towels, and put them in a bin to soak in a bath of water and white distilled vinegar, 2:1 water to vinegar. The site recommends leaving them in for 30-60 minutes and I left each in for 60 minutes.
5. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F so it’s ready to go immediately.

This is the skillet, I wrapped the handle in wet paper towels so it wouldn't rust.

This is the skillet, I wrapped the handle in wet paper towels so it wouldn’t rust.

6. This is the hard but fun part. When you take it out of the soak, it’s time to scrub with the steel wool. Scrub every inch of it! This takes some time and isn’t very easy to do. I tried to keep it wet at all times because I could see some rust beginning. Once you’re sure you’ve scrubbed it perfectly then clean it with soap and water, dry it off, and transfer immediately to the pre-heated oven. Make sure it’s upside down!

After the steel wool scrub down. I cannot emphasize how annoying those spikes were to clean.

After the steel wool scrub down. I cannot emphasize how annoying those spikes were to clean.

After the steel wool scrub down.

After the steel wool scrub down.

7. Bake the item at 250 for 15 minutes then increase to 500 and bake for 45 minutes more. Then turn off the oven and remove the item. Coat with lard, I dipped a paper towel into the lard and then coated it on. It’s ok if smokes a little when you do it the first time. With a clean paper towel wipe off any excess. This step smells super bad. As my boyfriend put it “vomit inducing bad.” I don’t think it was thaaaat bad, but it’s sure not pleasant.

First coating of lard.

First coating of lard.

Now return to the oven, always upside-down so the lard doesn’t pool in the bottom. Every 10-15 minutes wipe off excess, and every 30 minutes do a new coating of lard. After an hour open the door for a few minutes to finish cooling the oven.
8. Now it should be done!!

Done!

Done!

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I couldn’t get a few flecks off no matter how hard I scrubbed, but it’s the bottom so I wasn’t too bothered.

14-1I did make one major mistake and that was try to do two pieces at the same time without realizing the baking steps. Since the oven needs to cool with the cast iron item, you can’t do the second with a cold oven and can’t cool the first with a hot one! But I was stuck since the second was already soaking, so I decided I’d have to wing it. I did the skillet first, and as you can see there is some color variation on the bottom and on the inside. It’s not much of a problem for me really since it’s not super bad, but it’s a lesson to learn from!

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Added this one to show the color without any reflection from the table.

Added this one to show the color without any reflection from the table.

The Best Muffins Ever

I have been in a weird frame of mind where I just want it to be fall. I don’t know why! I think I just miss leggings and boots. And because fall in North Carolina is just the best! My friend and I were watching Farmhouse Rules this past weekend, as us old people do on a Saturday morning, and watching Nancy in her faaabulous historic home make mulled wine compelled me to bake something fall related. So I turned to a trusted recipe, http://www.cookingclassy.com/2013/10/gingerbread-doughnut-muffins/, that I knew would satisfy my unseasonable desire, at least for the day. PS – still want fall.

The Gingerbread Donut Muffins
Ingredients
Batter

– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp baking soda
– 3/4 tsp salt
– 1 tbsp ground ginger
– 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
– 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
– 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
– 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
– 1 tsp orange zest
– 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
– 2 large eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp molasses
– 1 1/4 cups milk
Glaze
– 2 cups powdered sugar
– 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 Tbsp fresh orange juice or milk KB Note: I recommend milk. With the orange zest it gets to be too orange-y.
– 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter a 12-hole muffin tin.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg for 30 seconds, set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip brown sugar with butter, 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and the orange zest on medium-high speed until mixture becomes pale and fluffy.
4. Blend in remaining 3 tbsp vegetable oil and the applesauce. Add in eggs one at a time and mix just until combined after each addition while adding in 1 tsp vanilla with second egg. Stir in molasses.
5. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and fold into batter with a rubber spatula, while scraping sides and bottom of bowl (don’t over-mix, batter should be lumpy and a few streaks of flour are fine before going on to next addition) then add 1/2 of the milk and fold just until nearly combined, then repeat process and end mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture and fold just until until combined (batter should be lumpy).
6. Divide batter among greased muffin cups, filling each well nearly full.
7. Bake in preheated oven 8 minutes then reduce oven temperture to 375 and continue to bake 8 – 11 minutes longer until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
8. Remove from oven and run a knife around muffins (if you greased properly they should just slide out) to remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
9.When muffins are slightly warm, dip into glaze or spread over tops (I have tried both and I prefer spreading with a spoon by pouring the glaze on top. If you dip you run the risk of pieces breaking off), then return to cooling rack and allow glaze to set at room temperature.
10. Store in an airtight container.
For the glaze:
1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla and enough orange juice/milk to make a smooth glaze.

I apologize for only one picture, I was too involved in the baking to think about my phone! They also look better once removed from the dripping plate.

I apologize for only one picture, I was too involved in the baking to think about my phone! They also look better once removed from the dripping plate.

The Pizza Alternative

I just made this for dinner and apparently none of my friends like mushrooms! Why do mushrooms get such a bad rep?! They’re the bomb! I’m going to start sneaking them into recipes to trick people into converting so that I can force them to eat these dishes with me.

I had to go food shopping tonight and decided to make things interesting rather than a boring old tilapia fillet and head of lettuce (which is my usual dinner – balsamic on both). I went to my fave site for healthy recipes, http://healthyrecipesblogs.com/, and via her recipe index chose the 30 min recipes. I figured I just wanted something easy and smaller tonight so I went with her portobello mushroom pizza http://healthyrecipesblogs.com/2013/06/24/portobello-pizza/.

Portobello Mushroom Pizza
Ingredients‚Ä®

– 2 large Portobello mushroom, wiped clean, stem removed
– Olive oil cooking spray
Р1/2 cup of your favorite no-added-sugar marinara sauce KB Note: You don’t necessarily have to use sugar-free, I went with a cheap store brand
– 2 oz part-skim Mozzarella cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
– 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
– 4 basil leaves, torn to pieces, or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves

Directions‚Ä®
1. Preheat broiler, setting temperature to high. Set oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.
2. Spray the mushroom caps with olive oil spray on both sides. Broil 5 minutes on each side, or until just tender.
photo 1 3. Remove the mushrooms from the oven, keeping the broiler on. If the mushrooms have released some of their water content, drain them briefly on paper towels and wipe the baking sheet dry, then return the mushrooms, gill side up, to the baking sheet.
4. Fill each mushroom cap with half of the marinara sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Scatter a few torn basil leaves, or a few oregano leaves, on top.
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photo 3 5. Place back under the broiler until cheese is browned, 2-3 minutes.
photo 4 6. Serve immediately.
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The Summer Salad for the Resolution

My resolution for 2014 will be to kick it back into high gear with getting healthy. Doing that, I’ve been looking up a lot of healthy recipes to diversify my meals. I like routine, and the same goes for my food. My coworkers even joke about my carrots and peppers since I eat them every day. I am a Chiver, but I found “The Berry” which is like Chive for girls. They have a daily motivation thread and I found this recipe. I was sooo excited to try it out! I modified the recipe for a single salad as the ingredients were for a large salad for multiple people. It’s more of a summer salad, but who cares when it comes to deliciousness?!

Ingredients (measurements for a large salad)
– 1 bunch chopped basil
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
– 1 cup mozzarella balls KB Note: I just used sliced mozzarella and pulled it apart
– 2 cups sliced strawberries

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Dress with olive oil (not necessary in my opinion), balsamic vinaigrette, and sea salt.
3. EAT ALL THE TIME.

OBSESSION.

OBSESSION.

The Best Christmas Gift

I think this is one of my favorite gifts I have ever given. My parents are starting the process of building their retirement home in the Poconos, and the house has a distinctly rustic theme. My brother and I were talking about what we were giving the parents for Christmas and we realized there were a lot of “wood” items this year. I found the idea on Pinterest here, ¬†http://dollarstorecrafts.com/2009/07/make-a-rustic-wood-cake-stand/. I bought my cross section on Amazon though because I had some gift card balance left, this is the one I went with: ¬†http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VRYIY6/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1. If you’re going to make this, keep in mind it needs to sit and dry for at least 24-48 hours without being moved.

What you need
– 1 cross section
– 1 log base
– Wood glue and/or silicon
– Polyurethane (with face masks!)
– Sand paper, level, and potentially a circular saw

Directions
1. I went over to my friend’s house since I knew he’d invariably have a log in his wood pile that would work. We made a night of it and I had dinner there with him and his girlfriend, but he also cut the log I chose down to size for me. I chose one that flared out at the bottom because I thought it would be aesthetically nicer. Be careful when cutting the log and try to make the cut as straight as possible to cut down on work later on in the process.
2. My log was not level on the top end and I thought sanding it would be the way to go – turns out it wasn’t. I would have been there for months sanding this down. I called my dad and asked him if he would have time to help me with it when I was back up at their house since I doubted my little Ryobi jigsaw would do the job.

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3. Since the difference in height was only about 1/8th of an inch my dad tried using the belt sander first. We worked on it for a while, then took it inside, found a pretty level spot on the downstairs bar, and measured – it was still way off.
4. We used the circular saw next after dad made some marks on the log for where to cut. Two rounds later, we were set.

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5. Now that everything was pretty perfectly level we moved it into the workshop where it would sit for the next couple days. We put beads of silicon around the outer rim of the log and wood glue near the center and positioned the cross section in the right spot.
6. The last step is the polyurethane, this is to protect the wood and food from each other. I got the spray because it said fast drying and I’m impatient, but my dad told me for something this dense you’d want the stuff that comes in a can and basically paint it on.

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If you use the spray can make sure you wear a face mask so you don’t breathe it in. We followed the directions and did a coat every 1.5-2 hours until the can was empty. We probably did more than the can suggested but it needed a lot of poly.
7. Let dry and enjoy!

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Sorry there’s no “finished” picture – Dad is going to add another coat of poly on the top to ensure it’s coated well.

The Balcony Bed

I’ve actually had this project 98% completed for months now, but I was dreading the last step (freehand pillowcase sewing) and I kept¬†putting it off. Even though I wasn’t happy with the state, it didn’t keep almost every single person who has come by my house from almost immediately telling me they wanted us to go hangout up on the balcony bed! But since I kept putting off the last, that meant I couldn’t post the final product! But I FINALLY overcame my fears and¬†just did it. I’m now a happier¬†crafter without it hanging over my head!

I have a beautiful, 8×13 balcony off my bedroom at the new place that sat empty while I decided what was going to be done up there. I love to sit outside and read –¬†or just be! – but I’m reluctant to do that on my groundfloor patio. All my neighbors can see me sitting there, I have to interact with them, and¬†there are constantly people walking by with¬†their dogs so I really only sit outside when I have friends over. I was pretty unimpressed with the super boring outdoor pallet bed ideas I was seeing on Pinterest, until I found the holy grail of pallet beds. http://prudentbaby.com/2011/07/prudent-home/how-to-build-a-pallet-daybed-2/ ¬†I am not joking when I say I was so obsessed with starting¬†this project that I read the directions so many times in anticipation I didn’t even need to read them while I was building.

This post is going to much more indepth than my previous posts have been because although the directions from Prudent Baby are wonderful, they’re not really that accurate. And¬†it’s misleading. This project isn’t going to cost you¬†$60 like she made it seem – it’s going to cost around $500-600. Preach. But building the frame is probably the easiet thing you’ll ever do. If you follow these directions it should only take you about half a day (if that). It took me two days because I had to go to Lowe’s like 4 times in 3 days to get the right bolts (partially because of the bad directions and partially because of bad help at Lowe’s).

What You Will Need:

  • 2 standard sized pallets (48×40). Try to make sure they line up well, you’ll see what I mean in a little. You can find them anywhere. Walmart throws them behind their buildings, grocery stores get deliveries on Tuesdays and Thursdays and would probably help you out if you asked, Craiglist “Free” section has them all the time, they’re everywhere. I “reclaimed” one that had been sitting next to the recycling bin at my office and asked a manager at Lowe’s if I could take one that was on their floor when I went to get all my necessities.
  • Twin mattress (39×75) – I bought this foam mattress [link] which is smaller than the one Prudent Baby bought, but also$100 less.
  • Waterproof mattress cover – I bought one on Amazon, but you can get them at Target too. Prudent Baby bought one that keeps bed bugs away too but, eh, this was $10. There is a link on her site for the mattress and cover she bought.
  • 5 casters (wheels). I used the 4 inch casters that Prudent Baby used and I don’t know if they need to be that big. I would recommend going down to 3 inch casters because they are cheaper and the planks of my pallet were hardly¬†wider than my casters, so the holes I drilled were quite close to the edge and I was worried about splitting the wood.
  • 3 – 3/8×3.5 inch¬†or 5/16×3.5 inch galvanized bolts. This is where Prudent Baby’s directions started letting me down. If you look at them, Prudent Baby tells you to buy 3/4×3 inch bolts. Wait, what?! Now if you’re not familiar with hardware, that’s an issue for 2 reasons: 1. That is ridiculously thick. It will split your wood. 2. Lowe’s doesn’t even carry anything that big! I used my own “judgement” and got 1/2×3 inch bolts but I don’t think they need to be that thick, and I also would recommend a little more length than just 3 inches (thus the 3.5).
  • 3 – 3/8 or 5/16 washers
  • 3 – 3/8 or 5/16 split lock washers
  • 3 – 3/8 or 5/16 hex nuts
  • 20 – 1/4x 1.5 inch bolts to screw on your casters. Prudent Baby suggested 3/4×2 bolts for the casters.¬†C’MON! WHAT?!¬†This is even more ridiculous because the holes on the casters are so small!!!¬†I follwed the length and got 1/4×2 inch bolts but this time around they’re actually a little too long.
  • 20 – 1/4 hex nuts
  • 20 – 1/4×1.5 inch wood screws (you can get a little box of them)
  • 4 –¬†1/2¬†inch¬†pipe elbows
  • 4 – 1/2 inch¬†flanges
  • 4 – 1/2 inch¬†x 18 inch long pipes
  • 2 – 1/2 inch¬†x 22 or 24 inch long pipes. I used 24 inch because that’s what Lowe’s had.
  • Sheet and pillows!

First thing to do is cut your pallet down to size. Each pallet should be 40×40 once cut, so with a jigsaw cut down the side that was originally 48 inches or so. I had my friend help me with that part since I hadn’t bought my own jigsaw yet. But make sure you keep the extra pieces!!

Extra pieces holding down the tarp

Extra pieces holding down the tarp

Prudent Baby sanded down her pallets, but why waste the time? The mattress is going to completely cover the pallets anyways. No one is going to see them or be touching them. So I skipped that part. I did put a coat of polyurethane on the pallets, though, because they’re going to be outside. I had some left over from refinishing the patio table (see: The Basement Beauty), so I just quickly brushed it on with a regular paintbrush.

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Now things got harder here. As you can see in the picture above, because¬†I cut the ends off to get them to the right size, I’m missing a slat on the bottom that would be additional support. Since it’s a support for the back of the pallet I wanted to take a slat from the extra pieces, remove them from the extra,¬†and¬†reattach them to the main¬†pallet.¬†I chose which side of the extra piece was going to go back on the pallet and broke apart the opposite side. There are links on Pintrest for how you can easily take apart pallets, but who has time to read all that when you’re already on a roll? What I did was beat the crap out of the pre-determind “demo¬†side” of the¬†extra piece¬†with my boots and a hammer. I think my neighbors might be afraid of me now after how hard I went to town on these pieces of wood. Once I had the slat free I then nailed it back onto the main pallet.¬†I had to take a minute to figure out how I was going to reattach the slat onto one of the pallets, though, because it has cut-outs on the side panels¬†that I didn’t notice when I brought it home from the office. I decided the best way to reassemble it was to try to get the slat as far back on the level part without risking it breaking off but still be able to disperse any weight put onto the frame. It wasn’t going to look pretty or even, but it’s the bottom anyways.

Example of why it was hard to line up the bottom pieces. Make sure you get coordinating pallets!!

Example of why it was hard to line up the bottom pieces. Make sure you get coordinating pallets!!

I took the pallets up to the balcony to assemble it. I measured the inside panel of¬†each pallet for 3 holes, one close to the front, one in the middle, and one close to the back. These are the holes that you will use for your 3/8×3.5 or 5/16×3.5 bolt to join the two pallets together so make sure you are measuring the sides that will be joining. With your drill, use the drill bit that corresponds to your bolt¬† (I used my 1/2 inch bit) and drill a hole on each mark on both pallets. Fingers crossed you measured right! You don’t want your¬†frame to be all akimbo. Put your bolt through the pallets. Then add your washer, then split lock washer, then the hex nut. Screw¬†the nut on¬†with a wrench so it’s super tight. Your pallets should be pretty solid now.

Next add your casters to the bottom side. I didn’t do too much by way of measuring for this one. The bottom was inevitably going to be funky because of my odd back-slat that didn’t match up, so I wasn’t going to kill myself over it.¬†Place your casters where you want them, mark the wood, drill your pilot holes with the corresponding drill bit, then¬†put your 1/4×1.5 bolts through the each of the¬†holes so the head will be facing the ground. Screw the corresponding 1/4¬†hex nut on. Do the fifth wheel in the center. I have 4 locking casters and the center is just normal.

You can also see how I chose to line up the extra pieces that I reattached to the main pallets.

You can also see how I chose to line up the extra pieces that I reattached to the main pallets.

You’re almost done! This part was kind of tricky though. The reason I say you should make sure your pallets are similar in shape and¬†line up well is mostly for this step. Lining up the arms of your frame can be hard if¬†the slats of your pallet¬†don’t line up¬†well¬† – like mine don’t. Just like with the wheels, I knew there wasn’t anything I could do to make things perfectly even so I didn’t sweat it too much. I really freestyled this one. Despite my inner-perfectionist crying, I didn’t even break out the level.¬†I’m sure you can figure out a way to measure your own arms so that they’re perfect ūüôā¬†I first assembled the arm, lightly screwed it into the flange, and then placed¬†the full thing¬†on the pallet. I moved it around a bunch of times to get it to where it looked even, where the flange was pretty much fully on the slat, and would line up with the¬†other arm. Then I marked the holes, drilled the¬†pilot, and¬†screwed¬†in the¬†wood screws. Don’t tighten the screws all the way down until you have all¬†the screws in to make sure you don’t mess up/cover any of the holes. Then on the next side line it up with the arm that’s¬†completed and repeat.

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See how the slats don’t line up for the flanges to be symmetrical?

And voila! The frame is done!! Not much to look at really, but the best is yet to come.

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Now for the decorative pieces part. This all about personal style and taste. I wanted this space to be distinctly me, something that could be cozy and intimate, but at the same time not oozing romance (I could be out there with my dad, and that would be weird). I bought the mattress of Amazon and it came quite quickly! I had also already spent enough money on this project to the point that I was pretty reluctant to spend even more on fancy pillows. Prudent Baby went to West Elm. I went to Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. The thought ocurred to me that if I buy a twin¬†bedding package (fitted sheet, top sheet, pillow cases) I can sew the extra top sheet and pillow cases into pillow slip-covers; but that also meant I could buy the cheapest pillows no matter if they didn’t match or were ugly. Unfortunately, the big pillows for the back were preeeetttyyy expensive since nothing was the right size. I found white cube-ish shaped pillows that were perfect so I went with those.

Almost done! Happy, but not completely satisfied.

Almost done! Happy, but not completely satisfied.

However, since they’re cube shaped I was unsure of how to sew cases for them! This is the part I stalled on. I am not a proficient sewer in the least. However, with some intense research and a little can-do attitude I cowgirled up and got it done! Post to come on how I made the cases. ūüôā

OBSESSED.

OBSESSED.

It looked great with white pillows but now that everything matches I can’t tell you how happy this makes me! I can’t can’t can’t wait for fall weather to be up there with my favorite big blanket, the lights I’m going to hang, and a cuddle buddy!!

The Southern Coterie Sweet Tea

I never liked sweet tea until I moved down South, and that’s probably because it tastes totally different up North. I still won’t drink “Yankee” sweet tea. And I’ll be honest, Bojangles sweet tea is a huge weakness of mine. I was perusing one of my favorite sites, Southern Living’s blog “The Daily South” (which if you don’t read you should definitely get on that), and they had a post about sweet tea. I was getting antsy about figuring how to make real Southern sweet tea, and here was my perfect starting point! They even gave the recipe for Southern Coterie’s sweet tea recipe.

Ingredients

– 16 cups of water

– 4 family sized tea bags (Luzianne or Lipton)

– 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar

Directions

Boil water in a pot. (My pot didn’t fit all 16 cups, just 12, so I added the extra water post steeping straight into the jug.) Steep tea bags ¬†in water for EXACTLY 6 minutes. Pour sugar into a separate container and then pour in the tea and stir.

I went out and bought a nice jug from Walmart because you know what, for the house wine of the South I want it to go into something special. $10 can go a long way at Walmart, anyways! When I poured in the sugar, it cracked me up. Just look at how much is in there! And I went with the 1 1/2 cups too!

sugar

I set a timer to make sure the tea bags steeped for 6 minutes exactly. Then I used a cup to transfer the tea into the jug so it didn’t pour all over.

tea steeping

I tasted it once it wasn’t boiling hot, and it was still a little strong for my liking (also keep in mind I am totally judging this against Bojangles tea). I added 4 more cups of water after I took the picture below, and I like it a lot more now that I cut it down. It wasn’t too sweet, just a little too strong. It could also be due to that fact that I am a black tea snob and hate Lipton in general. Should have gone with Luzianne.

tea done

Cheers, y’all!

The Shotgun Shell Wreath

I did this project as a Christmas¬†present for a male friend of mine, and I’m still so happy with it. One of my friends just moved out to the sticks and I’m itching to get out to his place to shoot some skeet, in part so I can make one of these for myself!!

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I had seen a link for a shotgun shell wreath on Pintrest but it was one of those, “I’ll pin this now and read it later” deals. When I did try to do get the directions from the Pin, it was a broken link.¬†Ugh. I did a google search and finally found a site with good directions for the kind of¬†wreath I wanted to make. This is the site I found: ¬†http://thesweetvirginiabreeze.blogspot.com/2012/01/shotgun-shell-wreath.html

Before Christmas I went up to my family’s property in upstate Pennsylvania for our annual big paintball weekend and I made my daddy promise to bring his shotgun and lots of rounds so I could collect the shells for free. You could also post a “Wanted” ad on Craigslist. I did this and got several messages but it turned out I didn’t need them. By the end of our skeet shooting I had a MASSIVE bruise on my shoulder, but not enough shells. Our family tries to keep the place nice, so my uncles always pick up their shells and we would also collect them in the woods as kids. I knew there was bound to be a box of them somewhere and I even braved THE SHED in search of them. I emphasize THE SHED because no one is up there about 45 out of 52 weeks of the year and you don’t know what or who might be living in there. It’s a little scary to go into on your own. It’s also¬†packed full of stuff and old junk, so I stood in the doorway and looked for anything that might remotely make me want to go all the way inside. As luck would have it, I spotted a box with “Remmington” on the side – in the very, very back of course. It turned out to be full of used shells! Score. Back to North Carolina we go, my friend. At home I bought a styrofoam wreath at Joann’s, but I’ve since found this link on Pintrest http://www.thepennyparlor.com/2010/09/coffee-filter-wreath.html ¬† for making your own, cheaper styrofoam wreath! People are so ingenious.

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I asked my friend to send me a picture of the wreath in his house and when I saw the picture above, my perfectionism went nuts and I almost wanted to drive to his house and fix some of the sides that I felt weren’t round enough.

It’s very simple, just a little time consuming, and if you want everything to be perfect like I do – especially a gift – you’re going to want to give yourself several hours to get it done. I hunkered down with a movie and got to hot gluing. I did probably 2-3 layers of shells, so you’ll need quite a few. I tried to get it as perfectly circular as possible, but as you can see in the picture below, depending on how you hold it, one side might not be as well rounded. This cost about $13 because I got the shells for free and had the hot glue gun.

KB’s Most Favorite Piece

I’m a country girl, so when I saw the Pintrest idea to use antlers as a necklace holder a while back I was all sorts of all over it. I was on EBay constantly trying to find the right antlers for the right price, because if you didn’t know, they get insanely expensive. (Note: I’ve also found some pretty decent ones in the For Sale section of Craigslist, but I already have two racks in my bedroom and more might be a little excessive.) ¬†I found one rack for $60 plus $13 for shipping on EBay in what looked like great condition, and it had the mount I wanted, just a simple oval shape covered in cream leather and a wood back.

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My goal was to feminize the antlers, and also just make them a little nicer for the wall. The leather on the mount wasn’t in great shape, but that wasn’t an issues since I always panned on covering it. I went to Joann’s Fabrics and bought a handful of fake flowers which I cut to size and then strategically hot glued to the leather mount. It took one evening and I might be most proud of this project more than any other simply because I love it to death. If my house was burning down I would save the following: my cats, my sheepy (don’t judge me I still sleep with my sheep skin blanket in the bed…), and my antlers.

I did use it as a necklace holder by hanging my necklace off the points; but after getting necklaces caught in my curly hair every time I walked by it and even finding a necklace in my hair in the office one day, I decided it was not how I wanted to display my antlers. Now they are above my bed and the focal point of the room. I love seeing them there when I come up my stairs!

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