Sunday, May 29, 2016

DIY Modern Yarn Wall Hanging



My sister sent me a picture of one of these wall hangings she found on Etsy a while back and I was immediately swooning. I love modern home decor--especially of the hand-made variety. 

So when my 5 year old and I had a movie night together and she chose Disney's original animated Peter Pan (which I love, but could enjoy without my eyes glued to the screen!), I sat next to her on the couch and cut yarn for my wall hanging! 

What is fun about these is that no two will ever be the same--especially if you use a branch as your anchor! Many I have seen on the interwebs use a wooden dowel at the top. I don't have rustic style, but I do like adding natural elements where I can.  I definitely prefer the look the branch gives my hanging to a plain dowel. 

I will walk you through my process of making one of these hip yarn creations. Other methods exist, but this way worked well for me, and I think you will find it easy as well!

You will need: 
  • A sturdy stick or small branch 
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Iron and spray starch

1. Cut yarn in several lengths that are double the length you want your hanging's height to be.  I won't give you a number here since it varies so much according to the size of your stick. 
*Tip: I pulled out 20-30 lengths of yarn at a time in long, even loops, then just cut the ends off one side to get several equal strings cut at once. 

2. Make a plan for how the colors will be arranged on your stick. I decided to do a bit of an ombre fade.  

3. Tie the yarn on the stick as shown in the pictures.  Push the tied-ends right up next to each other to really fill in the wood. 

4. This is optional, but is nice if you want your yarn really straight. With the proper heat setting for the type of yarn you are using, iron the yarn to get out any little unwanted wrinkles. Spray starch is also helpful for making the yarn nice and stiff before you cut it. 

5. Use sharp scissors to trim the bottom of the yarn to your desired shape. I found it helped to hang it the way it will go on the wall to make sure all the threads are in place. 

6. Tie another piece of yarn to each end of your stick to use as a hanger, and you are done!

These are great additions to gallery walls. They add nice natural texture to any room and can be made in whatever color and size you want! 


Friday, May 20, 2016

How to Refinish Wrought Iron Patio Furniture



Wrought iron patio furniture has a timeless style.... IF you maintain its finish. The good news is that it is super easy and inexpensive to refinish your wrought iron!  And if you are like me, refinishing is the perfect opportunity to add bright color to your backyard!

We have had our wrought iron furniture for 7+ years--all of which was in humid climates.  It has held up remarkably well, but the time had definitely come for a new coat of paint. 




All you need to make your wrought iron like new is: 
  • Wire brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Rust-resistant Spray Paint I used 7 cans to cover 1 large round table and 5 chairs. I bought mine at a local store for about $4/can.  I already had the other materials, so my entire cost was $30. Pretty awesome!
         
  • Old cloth rag or towel
  • Drop Cloths/ tarps/ or large sheets of paper 


Directions: 

1. Use the wire brush and sand paper to remove old flaky paint and rust from your furniture. The wire brush worked especially well on all the welded joints. The sandpaper was great on the flat surfaces. This will not only give your finished product a smooth finish, but it will ensure that the new paint sticks well. 

2. Using an old cloth rag, wipe down the furniture to remove dust. 

3. Lay out drop cloths. I have a ton of drafting paper, so I used sheets of that as my drop cloths. Place furniture on cloths.

4. Spray about 10-12 inches from the metal using short back and forth sweeps. Don't spend too much time in one area to avoid drips forming. Let dry according to directions on the can. 


My table top was easy to remove from the legs with a pair of pliers. Just 4 little hex nuts to take off. Be sure to allow plenty of room for over-spray when you lay out your drop cloths--especially if it's windy. 

Here are my legs all laid out. I painted one side in the morning and the other side in the afternoon. I did the same for my chairs--allowing 8-10 hrs before turning them. 
This also shows how dirty your wiping cloth will get. Be sure it's one you don't care about!

The paint I used mostly covered in one coat. I went back over it to do touch ups, but a full second coat wasn't required. 

I LOVE looking out my back window at bright colors! I have always loved color, but I think I crave it even more now that I live in the Pacific Northwest where it is so often cloudy!







Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Graduation Party in a Box



Just over 40 years ago my dad was in the military, and my mom was a senior in college. My dad had completed his undergraduate studies and was pursuing a master's degree while working as an army research scientist. They were happy newlyweds, living in a Tennessee college town, expecting their first baby.
  
Then the army sent my dad to California. My mom had 13 credit hours left to finish her degree in special education. She had already completed her student teaching. But, online and other remote education options didn't exist back then. She withdrew from school so their little family could be together when their first baby was born. She planned to go back, but as her family grew and life progressed, the time never felt right. 

Fast forward to two years ago. My mom's eighth and last baby is an adult. The time had come. She re-enrolled at the university where she began. And a couple of weeks ago, she donned cap and gown to finish what she began! 

I am SO proud of her. She has supported her husband and all of her 8 children in our educational pursuits, while putting hers on hold. I wanted badly to be there, but since circumstances didn't work out for that, I decided to send her a graduation party in a box! (And I instructed my family who was there on how to set it all out when it arrived!)
Here she is at the tennis courts where she played on her college team. Like I said, she's pretty incredible. 

Now on to how I made a Graduation Party in a Box!

1. Candy Graduation Hats
I filled a food storage container with these cute little hats and put the place card on top, easy to set out and be displayed.  

To make the candy grad hats, you will need: 
  • Mini peanut butter cups
  • 1.5" squares of black cardstock/construction paper
  • Embroidery thread and needle
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
1. Gather materials (see list above. 
2. Stick threaded needle through center of paper square, pulling until about 2 inches remains on the other side. 
3. Push the needle back through the paper near the first hole, pulling tight (but careful not to rip the paper).  
4. Cut the thread to leave another 2 inch tail. 
5. Tie the two threads in a knot.
6. Place a loop of tape on the top of a peanut butter cup.
7. Place the the paper hat top on the tape. 



2. Diploma Cookies
Rolled Wafers (like these Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes or Piroulines) tied with bakers twine make easy and tasty edible diplomas!These yummy diplomas can be sent in a plastic food storage container or in the cannister they came in. 
 


3. Memory Collage
I really wanted my mom to feel her children's appreciation for her sacrifice. As you can see in this collage picture, she was there for each of us through our academic endeavors--always cheering us on! Never once did she act like it was a sacrifice; but now that I am a mom who was able to finish college, I am sure if I hadn't been able to it would be hard not to begrudge others.  All we ever felt was 100% support. 
I made this collage on costcophotocenter.com, picked it up same day, and put it in a simple frame. To ship it, I wrapped  it (and the other frames I sent) in plastic. 

4. Framed Meaningful Quotes
Everyone has a story. And for every story, you can find inspirational quotes that apply. I found these three that I felt best represented my mom's story. I placed each in a frame. 
(Also pictured here: I bought some yummy regional dark chocolate to send with a "For Mom ONLY" card label attached)

              

5. Congratulations Sign & Other Decorations
Finally, I bought an inexpensive, but easily packable "Congratulations" sign and some festive pom-poms in my mom's alma mater's colors. I threw in some matching balloons as well. 


And it all fit in a medium flat-rate priority mail box
With family all over the country, these are second only to Amazon Prime in providing affordable gift-sending options! And from Washington to Alabama usually only takes 3 days! Amazing!














Saturday, May 7, 2016

Copycat Coco-Roons



Have you had Coco-Roons? They are a delicious, refined-sugar-free, raw coconut macaroon treat.  But they are pricey! They run about $8-$12 for a bag of 8 cookies.  So I decided to set out to make my own. And, in all humility, my copycat recipe is pretty darn close! I'd say the only difference is that mine tasted more fresh (because they were!). 
Coco-roons come in a variety of flavors: Brownie, Cacao Nib, Lemon Pie, Vanilla, Vanilla Maple, and Apple Pie. I will share the base recipe for these Copycat Coco-roons, and some ideas of how you can customize them to the flavor of your choice!

Pictured here are brownie and vanilla flavored Copycat Coco-Roons.  With just 6 ingredients and no baking involved, these whip up in a jiffy! They are also peanut, tree-nut, dairy, and wheat free!  Tell your MSPI and GF friends!


Copycat Coco-Roons
Makes 10-12

Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut (or almond) flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:
1. Line a small cookie sheet with wax paper. 
2. Place the coconut oil in a medium, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 10-20 seconds, just barely melting the oil so it can be stirred smooth.
3. Stir the maples syrup into the oil. Add the flour, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the shredded coconut. Batter will be thick.
4. Using a small cookie scoop, place rounded spoonfuls on the wax paper. Refrigerate to set. Store in an air-tight container. Refrigeration is optional. 

Optional Add-Ins:
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (cut back flour by 3 tablespoons)
  • Lemon zest and lemon extract to taste
  • Cacao-nibs
  • Orange zest and orange extract to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 3-4 tablespoons diced dried apples