Be-Witching Envelope Art

Happy day before Halloween!

Do any of you still send snail mail? I do.  I even have a pen pal, living half a country away in California. I absolutely love opening the mail box and seeing a fun note or card from her. It’s such a treat!

I made her a cute little Halloween card that had a Hocus Pocus theme using a graphic I found online and some witch hat washi tape.

1020152010 (360x640)

I wanted to keep the envelope as fun as the card inside, so I thought I’d try my hand at drawing a witch on the envelope itself. I thought about it for about two seconds, then remembered that I can’t really draw. Like, at all. But, I can trace with the best of them.

That’s when I found this envelope template on Pinterest. The designer meant for you to actually create an envelope by printing the template and folding the paper into an envelope, but I thought it would look better if I traced the image with a marker pen. So, I printed the template, cut it to fit into the envelope, and got to tracing. I love how it turned out.

IMG_9380 (640x427)

Way better than I expected!

I used my orange Le Pen (seriously the best pens out there) to write in my friend’s name and address. My return address is on the back, so it didn’t take up room on the front of the envelope.

I’m going to have up my game on all of my letters now. So fancy.

Spooky Sweet Potato Dog Treats

I don’t know what makes these dog treats spooky. Chalk it up to false advertising to get you to read this post since it’s Halloween week. I mean, these little sweet potato treats are kind of shriveled, like a dead man’s ear or sloughed off skin or something, right? And the jar I used – the jar is Halloween-y.

IMG_9342 (640x427)

I first started making these treats a while ago. All those dog treat recalls have gotten me nervous about what goes into those little bits that Phoebe eats. I’ve made dog treats before, even the kind where you roll our the dough and cut out a bunch of little bone shaped mini cookies. It’s a fun treat for our pup once in a while, but those bone shaped dog cookies take FOREVER to make. These sweet potato treats take some time in the oven, but the actual hands on time isn’t more than 10 minutes.

I always start by scrubbing the sweet potatoes free from dirt. Then, carefully, slice the potato pretty thin with a mandoline. In full disclosure, I always ask Dan to do this part becayse using the mandoline makes me so nervous. Lay the slices in a single layer on a silpat on a baking sheet. I’ve found that one potato fits onto one pan.

Bake at 200 degrees for two hours. Flip each treat, then continue baking for another two hours. Once done, take the pan out of the oven, and let the slices sit on the pan for a while, at least a couple hours or so, longer if you can, to allow the potatoes to try out. Store in a sealed jar and let your dogs enjoy!

I’ve found these treats last for quite a while in the jar. However, if you’re making more than one sweet potato, I’d suggest giving some away to a pal with a pup.

 

The Dining Room – Revealed!

Well, folks, I took some photos of the dining room over the weekend. I’ll waste no time – here’s the reveal.

IMG_9476 (640x427)

No big surprise really, I suppose. I showed you our in-between stage, where the room stalled for about two years, shared my dilemma in trying to choose a fabric, and then walked through the reupholstering process and how the chairs look today. The only new item you haven’t seen before is the new lighting, which is the Mobile Pendant from West Elm, in chrome.

I really do love the way the blue and orange look together. I had my doubts on whether we chose the right fabric as we were reupholstering the cushions. The rug is so bold that I thought we would be better off with a subdued, plain fabric for the chairs. But, I realized that instead of trying to keep the chairs neutral to off-set the rug, why not lean into having patterns in the room? The white curtains and light wall color lay a neutral pattern for the room, and the rug and chairs kick up the color a notch.

IMG_9477 (640x427)

Seeing all the parts of the room come together has been really satisfying. I especially love all the new life we breathed into such an old dining room set. I always knew we would replace the small table we had in the apartment, and I’m so glad we now have a table and chairs with family history.

Mod-Inspired Chairs

The chairs are done!

Cut straight to the before photo – nice photobomb, Pheebs.

IMG_2051 (640x480)

And now the after. After much back and forth, we decided on this retro-looking orange and white print.

IMG_9375 (640x427)

(Sorry for the dark-ish photo. The light was not cooperating.)

The fabric came from these curtains from Kohl’s. I ended up scoring them for about $28 and free shipping! They’re thick and were perfect for the job. I know, after looking through all those fabric choices, I ended up choosing patterned curtains.

I considered doing a step by step tutorial to show you how to reupholster a chair cushion, but with so many awesome tutorials out there already, some of which I consulted for this project (thanks Pinterest!), I decided it would be better to link to the tutorial I found the most helpful, which is from DesignSponge. My only changes were that I didn’t add cotton batting between the foam and bunting, and I didn’t add fabric to the bottom of the seat either.

As for materials, we were able to recover the wood from each seat, so no extra expense there. Some of the wood was coming apart a bit, so we used wood glue and a vice to push the wood back together. We let the glue dry overnight with the vice attached.

Once we took the cushions apart, it became clear we would need to replace the foam padding. Thirty years of sitting in these chairs made the foam thin and turned some of it into a fine dust. I knew foam was expensive, and my fears were confirmed when I saw each yard of foam was $34.99 at JoAnn’s. You can find somewhat cheaper options online, but we wanted the foam quickly, and not have to wait for shipping. We took a ride to JoAnn’s to see if there were other options, and we found these NuFoam pads. They were a little bigger than we needed, but thought there would be less waste in purchasing the individual foam pads (so we wouldn’t be paying for excess foam we wouldn’t be using). Plus, we had a coupon for 25% off our purchase.

We did run into an issue – there were only four of those foam pads at the store. Not wanting to go to another Joann’s at 8pm, and, not wanting to pay for a half yard of foam, we got creative and bought two foam seat pads that were a bit smaller than we needed. We used extra foam from the bigger pieces to cover the whole seat. Hey – you do what you have to do!

For the batting, since it was 90 inches across, we were able to get by with only 1.5 yards. Batting isn’t super expensive, so if we messed up, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to buy more.

Following the tutorial, and having done a similar upholstering job on the built in seating for the kitchen, we started by gluing the foam to the seats, using Liquid Nails. Once dry, we covered the seats in batting, using a staple gun to secure it. I ironed the curtains to get out all the wrinkles, and we laid it out on the ground flat. Because our fabric had a pattern, we did our best to make sure it matched up the same on each chair. Then, just cut the fabric into squares (leaving a few inches on each side to attach the fabric to the cushion underneath with staples.

Once all the cushions were done, Dan went and sprayed scotch guard on all the seats, just to give the fabric some extra protection against spills and stains. We let them dry in the garage overnight.

Cost wise, this reupholster project wasn’t as cheap as I had hoped it would be. Here’s a rough breakdown:

Fabric: $28

Batting: $6 (1.5 yards X $7, then 40% off)

Foam: $53 (the bigger pieces cost a few dollars more than the smaller ones, then 25% off)

Staples, wood glue, Liquid Nails, staple gun, scotch guard spray: free (had it all in our stash)

So, the total cost was around $87, or about $14.50 per chair. If we hadn’t had to replace the foam, this project would have been much cheaper, to the tune of less than $6 per chair. We did save a bit on the fabric though. The thick upholstery fabric was at least $20/yard, and I think we would have needed at least 3 yards. Still, the cost was worth it. The dining set has sentimental value to me, it matches the house well, the lines on it are gorgeous, and I loved bringing new lift to 30+ year old furniture.

I had planned to show you the mostly finished dining room now, but unfortunately, Daylight Savings Time has been foiling my plan to photograph the room in natural light (the best light to capture room shots). It’s been too dark each night I’ve gotten home from work this week to get good lighting. Frustrating. So, over the weekend, I’ll be sure to take some good photos to show you how the room has come together including big updates, like the reupholstered chairs, and smaller ones, like how I styled the freshly painted credenza.

 

Bonfire Apple Cider Donut Holes

Over the weekend, I attended a lovely bonfire gathering at a friend’s home. It was so much fun getting a chance to catch up with our group from college group – something we don’t get to do all that often.

There was so much food, lots of fall beer, and even spiked apple cider to enjoy all evening. I volunteered to bring a dessert, and knew s’mores were already on the menu. I wanted to make something a little different, and decided to try my hand at baking apple cider donut holes.

1017151321 (640x360)

I was so glad that they turned out to be a hit!

I found this recipe, and used it as my starting point, but I made some changes.

First, I didn’t have cloves on hand, so I reduced the apple cider with some mulling spices, mainly a bit of allspice. Next time, I plan to use more mulling mix. I think it will give the donut holes a deeper, autumn-y flavor.

I also used a babycakes cake pop maker (to get that perfect spherical shape) instead of a mini cupcake pan or a mini donut pan. I sprayed the maker to keep the holes from sticking, which gave the outside a bit of a crisp to it, like a fried donut. The baking time in the cake pop maker is super quick – about two and a half minutes.

IMG_9372 (640x427)

You may need to pick off a bit of the extra dough batter that bakes outside the pan well, but it should easily come away from the donut hole.

Finally, I think we goofed by using plain old apple cider. I thought it was weird that the bottle was labeled apple cider, but no cinnamon, cloves, allspice, etc. was added to what appeared to be apple juice. Next time, I’ll be sure to use fresh spiced apple cider, to have more of the spicy goodness in these little donut bites.

The small size of the treats worked great at the bonfire. We passed them around the fire a few times, and by the end of the night, I think only about five or so remained.

I’ll definitely be making these again and again this fall season.

 

Nutter Butter Caramel Apples

These nutter butter caramel apples look (and taste) so good, I’m just going to start with a photo.

IMG_9366 (640x427)

Yum.

These apples weren’t very difficult to make either. I’d say from start to finish, it took less than 30 minutes.

Here’s what you need:

Popsicle stick/cakepop stick/heavy duty straw

6 apples (we used golden delicious, which we picked ourselves!)

14 oz. caramel (to melt)

2 tablespoons water or milk

3/4 package Nutter Butters

Sprinkles (if you have them)

Start by washing and drying the apples. Melt down the caramel by putting all the candies and the 2 ounces of either milk or water in a pan. Heat slowly, stirring almost constantly so the caramel doesn’t scorch.

Jam the stick you’re planning to use into each apple. Make sure it’s in tight so you don’t lost the apple in the caramel!

Either pulverize the nutter butters in a food processor, or, for a bigger cookie pieces, chop them up with a knife. We opted for the latter. Spread the nutter butters out on a cutting board, and mix in some sprinkles, if you’re planning to include them.

When the caramel is ready, grab an apple and dip it into the caramel. Make sure to swirl it around a bit to get all side covered. Continue swirling the apple as you take it out of the caramel, and let some of the excess drip off.

IMG_9353 (640x427)

Once all the caramel stays put, quickly roll the apple into the nutter butter and sprinkles.

IMG_9355 (640x427)

You will want to be sure to place the apple onto wax paper to fully set. Don’t use any other surface, or I’m pretty sure your apple will get stuck. Continue the process until you finish all 6 apples.

Dan and I brought these as a dessert for a dinner party we were going to and they were a hit. I do want to note that we compared one of our caramel apples to an Affy Tapple the hosts had, and the apples we made were HUGE. So, maybe split one of the caramel apples with a friend? Just kidding. Eat the whole thing and enjoy it!

Finding Fabric (for Chairs)

I last left you by teasing a project I was working on in the dining room to take it from “for now” to “forever.” Well, that project is updating my grandparents’ dining room set chairs. Specifically, upholstering the seat cushions. They must have gotten the set in the 60’s, the green tweed-like fabric being very reminiscent of that era.

I loved the lines of the chairs, but I knew they needed a fabric facelift.

My, my, my – there are a TON of fabric options out there. I looked on pinterest and so many bloggers had lists of where they bought fabric, both in retail stores and online. Some bloggers used shower curtains or regular curtains in fabrics they loved for their projects. I must have looked at hundreds upon hundreds of fabrics to try to pick one for our dining room chairs. It’s overwhelming the number of choices!

If I felt this way, I’m sure there are others who do too. So, I’m going to try to  describe my decision making process, and enlist your help too. For me, step one was eliminating fabric you can only purchase online. I’m sure buying over the internet works for a lot of people, but I’m not one of them. I can’t tell true colors, I have no way of knowing how big/small the patterns are, and I have a really hard time visualizing how the fabric will look in the room with all the other furniture and decor. Online only fabrics – eliminated!

Next, I looked at JoAnn Fabrics. I’ll admit, I started looking at fabrics online, but knew I’d be paying a visit to the store to see the fabric in person before buying. I found a ton of options, and that’s where you, my loyal readers, come in. I’ve put together a little rendering of the CB2 rug we plan to keep,  the dining room set, and small swatches of all the fabrics I’m pondering. Warning: there are a lot.

mood boards

As you can tell, I’m having trouble even nailing down a color. Orange would tie the dining room in with the living room, which has subtle orange accents in the rug, a side table, and a tray on the coffee table. Greys, yellows, and blues are found throughout the house, so those are possible colors to use too. I think the hardest thing is picking a fabric that doesn’t clash with the bright, busy rug. I’ve also been considering using 60’s style fabric, like the sample in the bottom left of the graphic. Does it work? Is it too period specific? Because I had so many options to mull, I had to make another graphic to even more of my choices!

mood boards 2

I think I really like the orange options, but I’m worried they don’t work with the color of the table and chairs. The wood has underlying warm tones, so I’m wondering if I should pick a fabric that is more neutral or even cool toned.  I tried to stay away from fabrics that had too much white in them, for fear they would get dirty quickly, but other than that, it seems like I’m lost.

To make things more complicated, I’ve started looking at curtains from Target and Kohls. Believe it or not, I’m finding curtains to be quite a cost effective options. Two 84 inch panels come in around $25. Some of the fabrics I’ve been sifting through are $20ish per yard! I estimate needing about 3 yards of fabric for this project (about half a yard per chair), and will likely need extra for mistakes. So, panels may be the cheaper route. So far, I’ve order three different sets of curtains. Two were already vetoed, and one is still in the running.

With so many choices, I just can’t commit! Blog friends, I pose this question to you: Which fabric should we pick? Or, in the alternative, what do you think we should consider in our fabric choice?