Friday, January 29, 2010

Navy Friday

"Mmm... I like sticks"

Happy Friday everyone! See you Monday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How to Make Marble Magnets

Marble magnets have been a staple craft project for years now and they're so practical. Who couldn't use more magnets? My good friend, Liana taught me how to make these years ago. And they became my signature. My bridesmaids even had marble magnet supplies at my bridal shower so we could all make some!

Once again, this is an easy, simple craft to whip up. You will need the following supplies:

  • Floral Marbles (found in the floral section of your craft store) This is very important... make sure that the floral magnets are completely CLEAR. A lot of the floral magnets have color or luster added which makes it difficult to see the paper below.
  • E-600 Glue- dries clear and creates a super tight, waterproof bond
  • Round magnets similar in size to your marbles. I prefer the extra strong magnets.
  • Toothpick
  • Hole punch (optional)
  • Patterned paper (The options are endless for this. Use magazines, photos, old calendars, old books, etc. Anything that you want to turn into a magnet. I used the scraps from the Amy Butler paper that I used to make the bunting.)

Make sure that the marbles are as clear as possible. Don't use the marbles that have lots of air bubbles or blemishes on them.

Start by punching or cutting out round pieces of paper. The hole punch was great but I did end up having to trim the excess paper after I glued it to the marble. Sometimes it's just easier to trace and cut them with scissors since the marbles vary slightly in shape and size.

Squeeze out a dollop of glue. Make sure to not squeeze out too much because the glue dries quickly so work in batches. Also, make sure to work in a well ventilated area as this particular glue has strong fumes.

Use your toothpick to spread the glue in a thin layer onto the flat side of the marble.

Quickly place the piece of paper onto the glue and press the marble and paper on a flat surface to smooth out the glue and get rid of the air bubbles. Let them dry slightly before you add the magnets.

Spread more glue onto your magnet. You don't need much... this glue is strong!

Adhere the magnet to the backside of the marble. Let dry and then use tiny scissors to trim off the excess paper under the marble.

And here are the finished magnets! Aren't they pretty?! The best thing is that the possibilities are endless... make numbered magnets, or alphabet magnets or magnets to match your dishtowels. You can also glue a flat tack to the back to make pretty tacks for your cork board.

If you're making these for gifts, jewelry boxes make wonderful packaging. Just cut a piece of paper or cardstock to the size of the box and put a paper clip behind it so that the magnets have something to stick to.

Voila, marble magnets! Make some tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How to Make Bunting

Bunting is one of the easiest decorations to make and it can be used over and over again. The key is Bias Tape. It's a lifesaver. So here are the materials you will need:

  • Sewing machine
  • 3 yards of Bias Tape (found at your local sewing shop such as Joanne's)
  • Colored paper cut into triangles

That's it! Let's get started.

Bias tape is essentially used for creating a trim for raw fabric borders. It's a double folded piece of fabric, cut on the bias, and ironed flat so that it creates a crisp edge.

You can make your own bias tape, but the store bought is so cheap (about $1.50) and it comes in a huge variety of colors that it's totally worth it to me.

Next I used this awesome Amy Butler patterned scrapbook paper (found at Michaels) to make the triangles. I love the colors of this paper and it's double sided which is perfect for making the bunting.

Finally you will need a cardboard template of your triangle (Cereal box cardboard make great templates). I decided to make my triangles 6"x 7 3/4". I also used my X-Acto knife, ruler and cutting board but you can definitely trace the pattern and cut with scissors. I'm just super anal and I need perfectly straight lines!

Here is my sloppy Illustrator drawing of how I got five triangles out of this 12x12 scrapbook paper.

Use the ruler to cut a straight line with your X-Acto knife. (To be technical, mine is actually an Olfa knife, I prefer it much more to an X-Acto knife because that is what I used when I made hundreds of magazine mock-ups when I worked at House Beautiful. Old habits die hard.)

And there you have it! A perfect bunting triangle.

Next, insert the triangle into the fold of the bias tape and start sewing.

Make sure to set the first triangle in slightly so you have a few inches of bias tape on the end. This makes for easy hanging. I think I fit 18 triangles into 3 yards of bias tape.

Looks so professional, doesn't it? I'm telling you, this is easy peasy!

Try making bunting for your next party. It's an easy way to make a special occasion extra festive!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Baby Shower for 3 Lovely Ladies

This past Saturday, my friends and I threw a baby shower for three of our other friends (Julie, Ally and Becky) who are all expecting. It was great fun planning and a good time was had by all.

We started off by sending out invitations by Kathleen at Twig and Thistle. I calligraphed them as well. Since Ally and Becky are having boys and Julie was waiting to find out the sex, we went with a blue and green theme. It's a pretty palate and doesn't scream baby. In fact, I tried to keep everything as neutral as possible... I'm not a huge fan of overly theme-y baby decorations.

These Martha Stewart tissue pom poms (kits are available at Michael's) are the best decorations. They're cheap and easy to make and they add a lot of punch. I made the bunting out of Amy Butler scrapbook paper and bias tape. The great thing about keeping things "theme-free" is that you can re-use the bunting and pom poms for another special occasion.

*Stay tuned this week for a tutorial on how to make bunting.*

We ended up doing a group gift to each of the new mamas and a wishing well. I found these adorable baskets at Michaels and we filled them up with gifts. I also made a Maternity Hospital Bag Check List made from a post by The Stamford Wife. I thought she had some great pointers that just had to be passed along.

Click HERE to download your own copy!

My friend, Meredith, made these cute stuffed elephants! Aren't they adorable?! What's even more amazing is that she just learned to sew this past summer. She's got a natural gift!

We made lots of yummy food and had a signature "mocktail"... cranberry juice and seltzer. And take a look at those roses. I have a secret... instead of going to a florist, contact your local wholesale flower distributer. I lucked out; I contacted a wonderful florist from the Ithaca Farmer's market and she ordered the beautiful roses for me from the wholesaler. It was a great deal- $58 for 50, yes, 50 roses. I would have paid at least $150 if I had gone through a florist.

(Please disregard my ugly rental kitchen floor)

So basically the roses arrived all wrapped up in a large bucket. I unwrapped them and let them sit for a few days so the blooms could open. The day before the shower I stripped off all the leaves and thorns and arranged them. Simply start by placing three of the largest blooms in one hand, and keep adding flowers one by one while rotating the arrangement so you get an even circle. The key is to arrange them exactly as you want in the vase in your hand (this means some of the center flowers will be taller than the ones on the end so it creates a subtle dome effect.) Then trim off the stems to the height you want them in the vase.

And speaking of vases. Why spend a ton of money on the vases, when it's all about the flowers? Go to your local Salvation Army and pick some basic, simple containers for pennies. Seriously, I think I spent $2.50 on these three vases. They cleaned up beautifully and are a perfect vessels to showcase the stunning flowers.

Finally, each guest took home a customized box of marble magnets. I designed them with the owl motif from the invitation in the blue and green colors. Each box was tied with embroidery thread.

The magnets were made from the same Amy Butler paper as the bunting and I even snuck in an owl so that guests will look at it and remember the day.

*Stay tuned this week for a tutorial on how to make marble magnets.*

Congrats Ally, Becky and Julie! You're going to be wonderful moms and we can't wait to meet the 'lil ones!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mini Empanadas are a Good Thing

What to do on a dreary, rainy day? Make empanadas! I was going through my Martha Stewart Hors D'oeuvres Handbook today and was excited to discover that I already had every ingredient for a recipe for mini empanadas. So I decided to give them a whirl. The recipe was a little bit time consuming but definitely worth the effort. The empanadas (or empanaditas, as Martha calls them) were wonderfully delicious. The crust was tender and flaky and the filling was perfect... not too heavy and full of flavor. You must try them!


  • 3 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2) sticks unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the vegetable shortening and the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the machine running, slowly add the wather through the feed tube, and pulse until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Use your hands to pat the dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap the dough with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight, until completely chilled.


  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut lenthwise into thin strips (Quick tip: I used leftover store-bought rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 1/2 ounces white Chedar chesese, grated on the large holes of a box grater to yield about 2/3 cup
  • Kosher salt and finely ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  1. Toss the apples with the lemon juice in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the apples and lemon juice and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until the apples begin to soften. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chicken pieces. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl to cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into small pieces. Stir in the rosemary and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, lightly beat together the egg and milk. Set aside. Roll the dough out to a thickness that is between 1/16 inch and 1/8 inch. Unsing a 3 1/4-inch cookie cutter, cut out 48 rounds, rerolling the dough one time. Place the rounds onto the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refridgerate for 20 minutes.
  4. Place a scant tablespoon of the filling in the center of 1 circle. Use your finger to brush a little of the egg wash into the inner rim of the circle. Fold the circle in half, forming a half moon. Pinch the edges together with your fingers and use a fork to seal the empanadita. Using your forefinger, push the seal edge of the dough toward the filling to form the fluted edge. Brush the top of the empanadita with the egg wash and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with all of the empanaditas and bake until the dough is golden, 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Navy Friday

Waitin' for dinner

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend!

Ballooning over Paris

Oh, Hello Friend posted this gorgeous photo today on her blog. Isn't it too beautiful for words?

It is like the real life version of this print, which I've been saving in my mental notebook for years. I have grand visions of one day placing this in my child's nursery, over the crib. I just love the whimsy of it.

I really feel like I'm on the same wavelength as Danni this week because she also posted about lovely vintage drawers and filing cabinets. Much similar to the one I found yesterday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Salvation Army

Today I hit up the Salvation Army in Ithaca. I have to say, Eddie Ross has really inspired me to visit the Salvation Army more often. You have to get beyond the disheveled merchandise and the really horrible junk and look for the hidden treasures. This doesn't mean that they'll be in pristine condition... usually they need a major scrub down and some kind of transformation, but think of it like a diamond in the rough. I'm always thinking to myself, "what would Eddie Ross do?"

I found this amazing filing cabinet today. It's an old Steelcase cabinet, the kind that they don't make anymore that uses real steel and weighs a TON. I love the brass hardware and the different sized drawers. It would be perfect for all my craft supplies. It needs a new paint job but that's easy enough. The price? $20. Can you believe that?! I was thisclose to buying it today but I held off. It's so heavy and would be a pain to move, since we'll be moving out of Ithaca and into a NYC apartment this summer. I wasn't sure if this was a good idea. What do you think? Should I go back and get it? It really is a great deal...

For some of my favorite Eddie Ross Salvation Army posts, click here and here, and here too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Top 3 Favorite Cakes

I don't know why, but for some reason I've got cake on the brain. And it got me thinking about the best cakes I've ever had. So here are my picks for the top three cakes:

Lady M's Mille Crepes. This. Is. Heaven. Seriously, how can you go wrong with layers and layers of crepes filled with a lucious creamy custard?

Wegman's Ultimate White Cake. So I'm embarrassed to admit that I first tried this as a sample at the grocery store and the very next day I went back to Wegmans to buy one for myself. It was that good, like, can't-stop-thinking-about-you good. The frosting has actual black specks of vanilla bean. And it's even better when the cake is a little bit cold. Call me crazy but I like cold pies and cakes.

Black Hound's Busy Bee Cake. I'm not the biggest chocolate fan (weird, I know) but this cake is not too sweet and just light enough so you can inhale a huge piece and not feel sick to your stomach. An old co-worker had this cake sent to the office for her birthday. Since we didn't have the proper serving utensils, we broke out the plastic forks and went at it like animals.

So there you have it. My top 3 picks. What are your favorites?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Homemade Ginger Ale

While in Las Vegas, Mike and I ate at an amazing restaurant in the Bellagio called Sensi. The food and ambiance were spectacular but my favorite part was their homemade ginger ale. It was incredible... such a far cry from regular, store bought ginger ale. You could actually taste the real ginger and it had such a refreshing zing. So, hoping to emulate, I decided to try to make my own:

Only three ingredients needed: 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup cut up fresh ginger

Peel and cut the ginger into 1/4 inch thick slices.

Boil the ginger in the sugar and water mixture until it reduces by half to create a syrup.

Amber ginger syrup smells soo good!

Mix some syrup with seltzer and voila... you've got homemade ginger ale.

Don't throw out those peices of ginger. Make ginger candy! Just toss in some sugar...

And bake in a 225 degree oven for 3 hours, until the ginger dries out.

The Verdict:
The ginger ale was good, but it still lacked that potent ginger flavor that Sensi's had. In the future I think I'll double or triple the amount of ginger and cut the sugar down to 3/4 cup instead of a full cup. Trial and error... that's what it's all about. As for the ginger candy, it's a little too intense to eat just on it's own, so I have grand visions of chopping it up and adding it to a muffin recipe for that extra spicy zing. Anyway, give it a try. Homemade ginger ale is a real treat!

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