April 30, 2010

Plants

Trumpet Jade

Partially because I've been reading this book for my book club, lately I have been trying to make my life happier in little ways. I've been feeling down off and on this past month or so and I'm not really sure why. I am probably just in a rut and need a vacation from normal life but for the time being I can't run off to some Caribbean island so I need to find other solutions.

One part of my life I want to work on is work. At home I love decorating and making cute things and being surrounded by color and inspiration but my desk at work is lacking. Mounds of wires and dust, scraps of paper here and there. I don't have any real organization or personality here and I could really use a better chair. At least I sit by a window but my view consists of trucks and garage doors (ah, the scenery of a warehouse...) I think my little bout with carpel tunnel brought all this to my attention.

So yesterday I went out during lunch to a cute little old house turned plant nursery and bought myself a little potted plant to brighten up my days. It is trumpet jade, or so says the woman who sold it to me and I'm hoping I won't kill it. She even potted it for me and added some nice little gray rocks as an extra to cover the dirt.

Funny story, though - after I left I went to Subway to get lunch and when I turned into the parking lot my poor plant tipped over! I should have known better but I just before I moved my purse which was holding it in place in the passengers seat. All my decorative rocks fell off and mixed with dirt. I then spent the next few minutes trying to reassemble everything. In the end it turned out alright but now I need to go vacuum out my car seat!

Maybe this little plant is helping out already? Normally I'd get very upset that dirt was all over my car and I had to clean it all up but I didn't beat myself up about it and now this piece of greenery is sitting cheerfully at the corner of my not so cheerful desk.

Trumpet Jade

I want to try a few more ideas at brightening up my workspace like maybe buying some cheap but colorful organizers or buy a fun poster or art prints or do something easy and craft like this little garland. Got any good ideas or website for uncluttering and sprucing up your office?

This plant is even inspiring me to give apartment gardening another try!

April 29, 2010

Mmmm, cake!

Strawberry Cake

Strawberries don't last very long, even in the fridge. I decided to chop up some of the strawberries we picked this weekend and put them in some leftover cake mix I had (I used part of it to make cupcakes that I haven't finished decorating, eek!)

I added about a cup of chopped berries to regular white cake mix and put some pink food coloring in plain old vanilla frosting and it turned out great. The cake did take a little longer to fully cook in the middle. I was worried the outer edges would bun but they didn't. This may just be my unreliable oven or it could have been the strawberries, I'm not sure. Either way it is delicious! And not to mention a great way to put those strawberries to good use.

Stay tuned to another easy craft project coming up!

April 27, 2010

Feeling Productive

Crossing off a number of items on my never ending to-do list including installing a new air filter for my car, buying more interfacing for my dress, doing laundry and picking up my finished birthday cupcake.

Birthday Cupcake

I think it turned out pretty nice!


If only all my days were so accomplished... what did you get done today?

April 26, 2010

Craft: Super simple elastic waist skirt

Simple elastic waist skirt
This is a really easy skirt - in theory. I'm sure if I didn't try to sew it when I was completely sleep deprived it would have been easier. I only messed up about 8 times, getting hems and waists sewn on the wrong side of the fabric. Ugh, ridiculous, I know. In my defense the right side and wrong side of the fabric look very similar.

BUT if you follow these directions, I swear you won't have as much trouble as me.

Supplies: Fabric (about two yards or twice the length of your waist measurement), matching thread, elastic (I used 1.5 in wide and about 1/3 the length of my waist measurement)

Cost: About $7.00

Time: An hour or so

Difficulty: Easy

Casualties: Ugh...

I had this cool pink and embroidered 45" wide fabric that I cut along the fold so I just had one big long rectangle. Then I hemmed the bottom of the fabric where the flowers are.

On the upper part I folded over about 6cm, encased the elastic, and stitched the waist band. I pinned the ends of the elastic to the openings on either end so I wouldn't loose the elastic in the tunnel.

Then just stitch up the back seam and voila! Minimal cutting and sewing and you have a quick new skirt.

April 23, 2010

Learn Something New

Wednesday I took a real sewing class. I am almost completely self taught at sewing but when I saw they had a class specifically to learn about the proper way to sew zippers I knew it was something I should do. I think part of the reason why I love stretch fabrics so much is that there is no need for those pesky zippers. How do you do an invisible zipper anyway? Adventures in Dressmaking has a fool proof, easy to follow tutorial for it but sometimes I just need someone to sit in front of me and show me!



So by the end of it I not only walked out with a couple samples of different zipper methods but I also had this simple little zipped bag (which I might tear apart and line it on the inside and re-do the zipper part). I also ended up with tons of tips that in all my years of sewing I didn't know, even not just about zippers. AND I even ended up spending another $10 on nifty little gadgets that I don't know how I lived without like a magnet to make sure you always have the same seam allowance, a mini ruler for ironing hems and seams and a much better zipper foot (I still need to find an invisible zipper foot for my machine).

Bumper Sticker

At the store they had this super cute bumper sticker. If I was the kind of person to have bumper stickers on my car this would definitely be one of them.

Now I'm excited to try a truck load of new sewing projects - if only I had the time!



Speaking of projects - Sunday I had the strangest urge to paint. Don't know why, just felt like it. But I don't paint, at least not artistically do I did the next best thing: paint by numbers!

I had never done one before so I envisioned that it would take far less time than it did in reality. I thought it would just be a few hours not several days! Haha, oh well. You can see from the mess that I finally finished it. It was fun but I don't think I'll do it again. Perhaps I'll just collect old paint by numbers paintings instead like a lot of other people do.

April 21, 2010

Owl Cakes



Sunday I started a self imposed week long vegan, gluten free diet. Sort of a detox. I've been eating so bad lately I thought doing this only-eating-real-food diet would make me feel better.

Well, that all was ruined yesterday. I had forgotten that last week I agreed to make these cute Owl face cupcakes with Vanessa. Not exactly diet fare. At least we used an all natural cake mix. Does that make it any better? Not sure.

I caved and ate some cup cake scraps. So much for that. I didn't eat a whole finished cupcake (we only finished about half the batch).



Vanessa found the idea from this blog. We gathered supplies, Junior Mints for the eyes, M&Ms for the beak and Oreos for eyes and well, eyebrows (?).

First we tried using Reduced Fat Oreos but neither of us could get a clean twist. We could barely pull them apart at all. I even tried microwaving them for a few seconds and using a paring knife to slice them apart. So at 9:30 at night we had to run to the grocery store to pick up new Oreos. We went with Double Stuff just to be safe and it was like the heavens opened up and angels sang down at us.



While we only used a regular chocolate cake mix, we did make the frosting recipe from the original blog which I loved because it was so easy and not your average frosting.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting from 6 Bittersweets
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
[or use a combination of semisweet and bittersweet] (we used semisweet chips)
1-2 tablespoons corn syrup

Combine the chocolate and cream in a medium, microwave-safe bowl. Try to submerge the chocolate as much as possible, but it's okay to have some above the cream. Microwave the mixture on medium for 1 minute. Stir and heat again in 15-second increments, stirring thoroughly each time, until fully melted. Stir in corn syrup. Let this cool and thicken (in the fridge if needed) before using. If it cools too much, reheat in the microwave at 5-second intervals until it softens to the consistency you want.
We found that the cupcakes were too pointy for the Oreos to stay put so we sliced off the tops of the cupcakes to have a flat surface and that seemed to work well.

The more solid and cooled the frosting is the better the extras will stick - but not so cold that it's solid. You kind of have to stick the eyebrows down into the cupcake itself to make them stay. We used a tiny tab of frosting to help the Junior Mints stick to the white stuff but be careful not to push the mints to hard or they'll smash and break. I also poked a paring knife into the cupcake a bit to help the M&M stay in place.



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I'm going to a sewing class tonight to learn the proper way to sew zippers! Now I just have to make sure I actually have a zipper foot and find my invisible zipper foot. I'm such a slacker. I should have thought to look for those earlier. Down to the wire as usual.

April 18, 2010

Craft: Sweet Dreams Sleep Mask



My boyfriend likes watching movies or tv show on the laptop before going to bed. This is annoying for me because of the bright light right before bed and also the unnecessary elbow pokes whenever he has to type. I still don't understand his need for entertainment before sleep (why can't you watch tv in the living room and then come to bed?).

So the other night he said "why don't you just make a sleep mask?" and the light went off. Why hadn't I thought of that before? And it is a great way to use up some scrap fabric. Perfect! But, I still resent the fact that I have to have a mask to sleep to begin with... but that's another thing all together.

Supplies
: Fabric scraps, thread, elastic, embroidery thread and needle, fleece for the inside

Cost
: About $.30 because I already had the other supplies.

Time
: 30 min

Difficulty
: Easy

Casualties
: Tried embroidering one way, disliked it so I made a new front piece with new embroidery.

You can download this simple pattern and print it out on just one sheet of paper. It uses a 1/4 in seam allowance.



You need two fabric pieces for the front and back. I chose the same fabric but you could use different kinds, maybe even a nice satin or velvet for the part that goes against your face. I wanted to use fabric I already had and I don't like trying to sew slippery fabrics anyway.

You also need a piece of fabric like fleece for the inside to give the mask some cushion and in my case I used black fleece for extra light blockage.



I embroidered on the front of my mask but you could paint or sew buttons or draw little eyes or anything.

Pin the two outside sections together right sides facing. Sew along the curved bottom part of the mask. I find that this is the best way to do the curves. HINT: clip the seams of the curves in a few places, when you flip it inside out again this will help the fabric curve easier and not get bunched up as much.



Flip inside out and insert your fleece liner. Now you'll fold in the rest of the edges of your fabric. Iron them flat if that helps.

If you're using the pattern you'll attach the ends of the elastic where those little horizontal lines are on the outside pattern piece. I used about 10in of elastic. You should measure around the back of your head to get a comfortable amount of stretch. You don't want to wake up with a headache! Slip elastic ends between your outer fabric layers.

Now you'll stitch everything closed with a simple top stitch close to the edge.



I didn't take a photo of me wearing it because my hair was a mess but here's a funny
picture of my foster cat Peanut wearing it. She wasn't very impressed.

April 15, 2010

Thanks Card


Don't you love when your mail is filled with things other than bills and junk? I do.

Justin's dad kindly mailed us a turkey breast and a coffee cake so I made him a thank you card.


Pretty simple and not too girly, either. Good way to use some of my Thickers letters (probably my favorite scrapbooking product ever). I tried sanding the edges of the papers but I think my sand paper was too fine.

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These past few days/weeks have been stressful and I'm not sure why - well, maybe I do. I haven't been eating as well as I should and I've been very busy at work. The other night I just could not sleep. I never have sleep problems. This morning I woke up with a pounding headache. I usually never have headaches either.

I think I am overdue for a vacation. I started a tradition of birthday vacation a couple years ago but this year I needed to save money so I scratched that plan. Last year I went to Lake Tahoe and the year before that was Las Vegas. Maybe I should still have a birthday vacay, just a belated one...

Where could I go for a cheap weekend trip from Austin? Any ideas? Camping? San Antonio? New Orleans? State Park?

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Stay tuned for a new craft tutorial soon!

April 13, 2010

Sewing: Striped A-Line Skirt

I actually finished this skirt a couple weeks ago but I wanted to work on a pattern for it.


It began as a completely different design but I didn't like the way it turned out so I ripped it up and started from scratch and I don't think it turned out half bad.

If you want to try it out yourself (pretty simple, just alternate your stripes) you can download the pattern and instructions. And if you do try it, let me know how it turns out so I can fix any glitches.


I am hoping that this is the first of five spring/summer skirts I want to make. That's the sewing challenge I've made for myself. I want to experiment with different fabrics and designs.

Anyone have any favorite skirt styles out there on the web for some inspiration?

April 11, 2010

Birthday Winners

I had a pretty good birthday even though I had to cancel my picnic because it was drizzling and gloomy outside. Oh, well. Boyfriend still took me out to eat. I went to roller derby last night. A friend and I went to a paint your own pottery place and I even got some cupcakes after all.



I'll have a better birthday recap later but now it's time for the giveaway winners. Thanks everyone for playing along. If you won, shoot me an email at dixiedavis { at } gmail dot com.

Giveaway #1 - Gussy Pouch
Giveaway #2 - DixieDIY Candle

Giveaway #3 - Bake It

April 7, 2010

Giveaway #3!

Ugh, this week has been hectic! Crazy weekend followed by crazy beginning of the week. I have a bunch of sewing projects that I need to take photos of and share. I've been trying to clean up my super messy apartment (about 40% clean so far). I've got not one, but two foster cats at my house right now separated from one another because one is sick. I need to take pics of them and start a blog for them, too, so they can get adopted quick. I also had to take someone to the ER last night with a badly cut finger. Pretty stressful week to say the least. Ugh, and I just remembered I need to go buy groceries...


Anyway, enough complaining. It's giveaway time! This is the last birthday giveaway and it's a fun one: a $25 Gift Certificate to Bake It Pretty



Pretty good for a birthday giveaway, right? And with most of their products only costing around 3 bucks you could get a lot of goodies with $25. I especially love the little miniatures you can add to decorate your finished cupcakes or other treats.





All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment with your favorite cupcake flavor/frosting combination. And as usual, you get an extra entry for tweeting/blogging.

Winners for all the giveaways will be picked on Sunday.




I really want to go bake cupcakes now! Hopefully if I do I can save them so I don't eat them all before my birthday.

April 6, 2010

Happy Easter


This Easter weekend was quite an event. It began with a wedding. A friend of mine got married about an hour and a half out of town on the lake. Luckily it was at 6pm giving me enough time to run to Crate and Barrel to buy a gift and finish a dress and I had kept putting off making because last week was so busy.

Here's the dress. I think I'll make a pattern for it in the next few days. I was trying to make a rolled hem with my serger but I realized I didn't have the right foot piece thing to do that, so I tried my best without it.



As we were driving back to Austin we were pulled over by a cop who obviously wanted to catch us doing something wrong like being intoxicated but we weren't and we also weren't speeding either. He knew who couldn't do anything to he just gave us a warning.

Then we got stuck in massive traffic near downtown. There's a big sporting event this weekend so the highway was insane.

We make it back to the apartment and I rush up the stairs so we can pack to leave that night for Fort Worth and I accidentally drop the key in the abyss of the gravel and leaf yard under the balcony. We couldn't find it so Justin crawled through and unlocked window.

We finally left Austin at 11:30 and made it into Fort Worth at 2:30.

So we spent a rather pleasant Easter with family after all the trouble with getting there. Somehow hanging out with these guys makes anything better.

Justin's mom and sister had a mini birthday party for me mixed in with the Easter festivities. They gave me a plethora of cupcake decorating goodies - cupcake liners, icing tips, sprinkles and a box to hold them all. Awesome! Now I just need to buy some food coloring. And even better they gave me Hello, Cupcake! I'm so excited!

Then we even tested out our skills with some yummy strawberry cupcakes.

Unfortunately, we had to drive back that night so I could go to work on Monday. I wish I could have stayed longer but we'll go back in a few weeks.

How was your Easter weekend?

April 5, 2010

Giveaway #2!


This second giveaway is extra special because it is one of my very own candles.

This time I'm giving away a soy candle in a vintage light blue tumbler like the one above but you get to pick your own scent! You can even choose more than one and mix and match. The available scents are listed below.

Apple, Cucumber, Citrus Splash, Lemon Verbena, Kiwi Strawberry, Passion Fruit, Coconut, Cherry, Lemon Chiffon, French Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Oatmeal Milk & Honey, French Roast Coffee, Cinnamon, Clove, Cheesecake, Creme Brulee, Banana Nut Bread, Cinnamon Buns, Caramel, Hawaiian Plumeria, Dogwood, Pine, Chamomile, Baby Powder, Heather, Patchouli, Lavender, Eucalyptus




All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment with your favorite scent or scent combination. You can also get an extra entry if you tweet/blog about the giveaway.



I'll draw a winner for this and the other giveaways on my birthday, April 11th. Good luck!

Busy week

Last week I was scrambling to get everything done.


I packed up a candle to mail off to its new home. (this is it wrapped up before being carefully packed in a box)


Bought new shoes for a wedding I went to on Saturday (more from that later).


And I even managed to make some quick Easter egg cards.


This was Justin's "Jackson Pollock" style egg made with all of my scraps.


My weekend was even crazier but I haven't uploaded the pictures from all of that yet... and, boy, do I have some stories to tell...


Stay tuned for another giveaway tonight!

April 2, 2010

Birthday Giveaway #1

My birthday is on the 11th and to celebrate I'm going to do some fun giveaways in the next few days. Because everyone loves presents and giving is better than receiving, right? Or so they say.

Anyway, this first giveaway is for a lovely Gussy zipped pouch!


Gussy sews all sorts of cute little bags with a fun ruffle and colorful fabrics. This 8in by 4in pouch would be perfect as a make-up bag or to hold art pens, little craft supplies, travel items, whatever!



All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment with the weirdest thing in your bag/purse/backpack right now. You can get an extra entry if you tweet or blog about the giveaway. (to be honest you probably have a good shot at winning already)


The giveaway ends on my birthday, Sunday, April 11th. I'll draw names and announce the winners then. Good luck!





(PS: That book I had bought that I thought I would give away but it turned out to be lame - I mailed it back yesterday. Oh, well. Thanks for the advice.)