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I like to think of myself as the Sandra Lee of Wedding DIY. I kinda DIY'd my invitations. I kinda DIY'd my OOT bags. I definitely made my own favors, but kinda DIY'd the packaging. Trust me, if I could have made the time to do every single fold, crease and tag punch-out myself, I would have. The reality is that I'm a working girl and did not have the time, so I DIY'd based on what I had available to me. You should too - whether it's from scratch or with a lot of help from planners, friends, family or Michaels. Just make it your own! This is the place for all things DIY!

Tuesday
Aug232011

{DIY Tutorial} When Your Husband Ruins Your Favorite Shirt.

The Candyman is excellent at doing chores (he calls it "choreplay"). We’ve got a pretty good distribution of tasks. He does the lawn. I cook. He vacuums. I do the bathrooms. He's in charge of dishes and I clean the cat box. When it comes to laundry, we both pretty much suck.

I hate laundry. He hates laundry. We both hate folding. He doesn’t sort colors and never knows which things of mine to hang dry and which not to (that’s okay though, I really don’t expect him to know that). The Candyman will wear something for 5 minutes and throw it in the laundry basket. He ends up with twice as much laundry as I do.

He’s also one of those guys who bleaches his whites on the regular. I don’t know who taught him to do this, but we all know that when you bleach stuff – you gotta run a quick cycle afterwards to get all the bleach out of the washer. And you particularly need to do this if you haven’t cleaned out the soap scum that sticks to the insides of the washer. And yes, I’m letting you in on the fact that sometimes we’re gross and don’t clean out our washer as often as we should. Don’t judge. We all have a bit of nasty in our private lives, no?

So anyway, some time ago The Candyman bleached and didn’t rinse and then I did laundry. I happened to wash an Ann Taylor top that I LOVED. And it wasn’t cheap. And it was super cute. And I wore it when I was on What Not to Wear when they featured my girl Hillary from Brocade Design Arts in Nashville.  I featured her e-shoot here. Anyway, here’s what the top looked like in it’s original state:

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That’s me with my officiant (he was the officiant in the “fake” wedding set up to surprise Hillary), Ralph Griggs. As a quick aside, you should totally check out his on-line marriage preparation course. It rocks! Anyway, I loved this top. I wore it with 800 billion different things.

When I washed it post Candyman Laundry Bleach Day, this is what happened to it.

Can you see the lighter bleach marks on the left? Yeah. That’s where it got pressed up against the nasty bleach-holding soap scum inside the washer. Nice. I tried to wear it a few times under a jacket or whatever, but there are marks on the back bottom edge too and it just looked like crap. I’ve been holding onto this shirt for a year or so now, because I just couldn’t throw it out or give it away. I definitely have an unnatural attachment to clothing.

So I found it all wadded up in the back of a closet shelf (what? like you don’t have shit wadded up in your closet? ) and was woefully considering its new home in the trash. I’ve always thought that the stain looked a bit like a tie-dye mark and that’s when I decided to bleach it ON PURPOSE.

I checked the material and it was mostly cotton, with some rayon in the ruffles, so was all, “Why not? I can only make it worse, right?”

So has everyone tie-dyed before? I learned how in art class in the 9th grade. I also learned by watching my Deadhead brother do it in our garage when we were teenagers. When you tie-dye with colors, it’s a total pain in the ass and messy to boot. Tie-dyeing with bleach is easy and quick.

So in case you have no idea how to tie-dye with bleach (also known as Reverse Tie-Dye), here’s what you’ll need:

  • A colored 100% cotton garment.
  • A few cups of bleach.
  • Your washing machine.
  • Rubber bands.

There are all sorts of ways to create patterns when you tie-dye. You can do vertical and horizontal marks, stripes, sunburst patterns, spirals – you name it. I think starbursts are the easiest and since my shirt already had that kind of stain on it, I went with that.

  • Basically you pick a point where you want the center of the starburst to be. Try to avoid putting one right in the boob location or you’ll be sorry. Right in the center is lame too. You want to have them sort of scattered and random.
  • Hold the fabric at that center point and twist the fabric into a long spiral of fabric. if you’re starting on the front, make sure to keep the fabric on the back loose. You’ll want different patterns on the front and back.
  • Start wrapping those rubber bands around the fabric TIGHTLY. That’s where your color is going to be, so you don’t want the bleach to seep in under loose rubber bands!
  • The rubber bands can be spaced randomly or symmetrically or however you want to do it. I made mine random with no real thought. I used different sizes and shapes of rubber bands too.

Here’s what it looked like pre-soak.

Shirt3

I made sure to include bits of the ruffled parts. I really had no idea how this was going to turn out. You can also do this next step in a bucket, but it’s much easier to do in the washer.

  • Use the smallest load setting on HOT. Depending on the size of your washer, you’ll need to adjust how much bleach you used. I have a normal size washer (no front load or extra capacity stuff here) and I used about 3 cups of bleach. Honestly, I just eye-balled it.
  • Once the water is done filling and your bleach is in, drop in the garment and close the lid and let it agitate a few seconds and then open the lid again.
  • Let it soak for a few hours. I meant to soak mine about 2-3 but forgot and it was in there for like 5 or 6. Ooops.

*Note: Some people do a high bleach to water ratio and dip it for a few minutes (like in the bucket method above), but I think that it’s too high of a concentration for 100% cotton. I’d rather use less bleach and soak longer. That’s a personal preference.

  • Close the lid and let the washer run it’s course. Run the washer again when it’s done with detergent with the garment inside. This will get rid of the bleach smell AND rinse out your washer.
  • Carefully cut or removed the rubber bands when the garment is wet. Be careful. I wasn’t and snipped a hole in the side seam. I was able to fix that, but it was a dumb mistake. Don’t be dumb like me.
  • Dry and wear. If it still smells like bleach, wash it again.

Shirt6

See, this is why your should avoid the boob area. It looks like my right boob is leaking radio active goo. No?

Front. Yes, this is our bathroom. It’s early and my hair is a fluff ball mess of  whatever. I mean, I haven’t even showered. Cut me some slack. You’re lucky I’m not in the shirt and panties for chrissake.

Do you know hard hard it is to get a pictures of your back in a mirror? I took like 60 shots of my toilet before I got this one. Anyway, the point is to show you the pattern on the back. So there it is.

I really like how the ruffles came out two-toned. I probably could have just bleached it without tie-dyeing it and gotten a pretty cool effect. I do like the end result though and am happy that I have my shirt back, though it doesn’t necessarily have the same vibe it once did. Definitely an end-of-summer shirt I can wear for a little while longer.

The Candyman now knows that he can’t get all bleach-happy without rinsing the machine out. The rub is that I’m doing most of the laundry now anyway, so the point is moot.

Has your partner ruined any of your things yet? Have you saved a favorite something from ruin by changing it all-together? Do tell.

Monday
Apr252011

{DIY} Table Décor–You Can Do It!

I recently stumbled across the coolest little DIY website called Between the Lines. I was cruising around her site and found this super cute DIY tutorial for vase covers.

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I’m always a little curious about how some DIY tutorials look so incredibly easy, but then when you attempt them, they are a NIGHTMARE. I am going to include my beloved Martha into this category because she’s got some doozies. Sure, it’s easy – only if you own the bazillion dollar contraption needed to make it. Or a bazillion hours in the day to carefully glue teeny tiny grains of sand onto a four foot square backdrop that you’ll then hand paint with your wedding date….blah, blah, blah. You know of what I speak, right?

So I saw this sucker and wondered what I could whip out. Let me tell you, this IS easy. And you can totally suck at sewing and crafting and I swear, you will be able to do this. All told, it took me about 35 minutes to:

a). Find a jar. I was going to use the empty wine bottle from last night (ahem), but it was buried too far into the trash can. WAY to early for garbage picking. I decided to use a glass jar that was filled with sea salt because it had a cool shape. I’m betting you can use tin cans or recycle some plastic water bottles, wine bottles, juice jars, pickle jars – whatever you can find!

b) Find a scrap of fabric, and gather my sewing tools and camera.

c) Sew all components and take pictures and even go out into the backyard and snip a few flowers for the glamour shots.

If you want to do many of these in different shapes and sizes for your wedding (or party or just because), I suggest doing this in a production run method. Cut all the fabric, make all the roses, cover all the jars, add all the roses. That way, you become an “expert” at each step as you go and you’ll get faster. I promise.

Supplies:

  • Scrap fabric of any kind.
  • Container/jar/bottle you would like to cover
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Needle/thread
  • Tape measure (optional)

Instructions:

  • Once you have all your supplies together, take your first bottle and measure around the jar to determine the width of your fabric. You can also just wrap the fabric around and eyeball it. Leave about an inch or so extra on each side. For the length, you can make it super long for lots of scrunching and fabric ruffles, or keep it sparse. Your call. My fabric was the height of the jar adding in an additional length equal to half the height.
  • If you’re working with cotton or cotton blends, you can make a snip in your fabric at your measurement and then RIP the fabric versus cutting it. This will give you a lovely, shabby-chic frayed edge.
  • Next, pin the fabric around the bottle. Do not be precise. Do not try too hard. Just let the fabric sort of go where it wants to go.

Fabric pinned around my sea salt jar. I kept the cork in because I could just totally see sea salt EVERYWHERE if I didn’t.

  • Next, take a needle and thread (should match your fabric) and sew a seam from the bottom up. This will allow you to manipulate the fabric at the top.
  • Do not be fastidious or neat about this at all. Honestly, my stiches look like a second grader sewed this. The thread matches the fabric, so you totally cannot see how crappy they are.

Here’s mine after it’s been sewn. Not sure if you can see it, but I accidently sewed a pin inside the seam. I couldn’t get it out, so left it. That’s how sloppy/easy this can be.

  • I felt like the fabric that was longer around the smaller part of the jar was a little too long, so I ripped some off, holding onto the fabric and tearing away. Easy-peasy.
  • Now for what might be the hardest part: making the little rosettes. There are a bazillion DIY tutorials out there on how to make these little suckers. Some tutorials are a pain in the ass, others not so much. Here’ is a relatively simple DIY tutorial for rosettes and pretty much how I make them.

DIY4

I used some torn strips of fabric to make my rosettes to keep with the shabby-chic vibe.

  • After I made the rosette, I placed them on the jar haphazardly, making it look…pretty, I guess. I moved some of the ruffles around and tacked them down with a single stich then stitched the roses on with like, three big stiches. This doesn’t have to be perfect or exact or anything close to it. In fact, you might be able to hot glue the entire shebang and not make a single sewing stitch. However, I am not a hot-glue kind of girl, so I took the needle and thread route.

You can kind of see the dark label of the jar on the left side (maybe not? I just KNOW it’s there!), but just know that you’d want to remove any labels, unless you’re using a dark fabric.

  • Optional: Get some garden scissors, go to your front yard and wish your camellias were blooming already. Go to your back yard and note the single flower growing through your fence from your neighbor’s back yard and TAKE IT (consider it payment for all the times you’ve moved her damn trash can). Then snip a pretty tiny white flower that you don’t know the name of and take it too.

Remember, a DIY task doesn’t always have to be daunting, even if you aren’t the crafty type. I really believe this is a doable project for anyone! So, what do you think? Cute? Would you give this a shot? 

Wednesday
Mar302011

DIY Cake-in-a-Jar Favors

I'm all about edible favors at a wedding. Everything else just seems sort of....well, lame. If you want my opinion (and if you don't, stop reading) the following favors are the lamest of lame:

1. Anything with the couple's name and/or wedding date on it. Even if the item is remotely cute, I will not use it if it's got YOUR stuff on it. Ever. I mean, my OOT bags had our names and wedding date on it and  I don't use them (even though I should use them on grocery days). I was totally expecting people to throw them out (which is why I spent like zero dollars on them). I think my mom uses her OOT bag for toting books and knitting and stuff, but she's my MOM. Mom's are the exception to the lame favor rule.

2. A candle of any sort. Candles don't transport easily and people are sensitive to the stinky ones (yours truly had eyeballs that went bonky-bananas at the bridal shower this weekend where they had scented candles burning). And candles have seen their heyday, it's time to move on, folks.

3. Anything that looks like this:  

Just don't do it. You'll see them left over on your tables and wonder why you bothered. So will your guests. The best favors are the edible ones, I promise. At our wedding I saw people with mutiple boxes in their hands as they were leaving our wedding. I wondered to myself, "Holy cow! Is Kathy stealing cookie favors from other guests?" And I answered myself too, "You snooze, you lose. Wedding favors are fair game if you leave them unattended."

Now, I loved baking my cookies for our favors. It was a team effort between me, my MOH and my mom and it did take a lot longer than expected, so expect that if you're heading into the kitchen. For me, I'd make these cookies a bazillion and one times so knew the recipe inside and out. However, I'd never made them en masse before and it was that part that was challenging. Plan for challenges.

So now onto the DIY part of this here post: Cake-in-a-Jar favors. Turns out it's not as hard as you think. I've been researching a shit-ton of these recipes and how-to's and it seems fairly straightforward, although there are many, many arguments as to how long these little suckers actually last. To be on the safe side, I'd say make these up to a week in advance and you're good to go. Anything longer and you might kill your guests with botulism (safety first!).

Cake-in-a-Jar (via Suite101, adapted ever so slightly by me)

You will need:

  • Cake mix of choice
  • Mason Jars and lids (You can use either the pint size or the 1/2 pint size. To save on cashola, go for the 1/2 pint size. They are way cuter too!) I found the best price here for $.75 a piece. 
  • Frosting
  • Ziploc bags or pastry bags with tips
For the prep:
  1. Wash and dry the jars and lids. It's best to do this in a dishwasher where the water and drying are super hot. It helps sterilize the jars.  Put the lids in a pot of water and set aside to be boiled later (again, boiling sterilizes the lids).
  2. Lightly grease the sides and bottom of the jars with shortening. Keep the rims clean.

For the Cake:

  1. Either use a personal cake recipe or a box cake mix, both will work fine. Prepare the cake batter according to the recipe’s instructions.
  2. Fill the jars about half-way with the batter, but NO MORE than 2/3 full—the batter rises significantly while baking.
  3. Put the jars on a cookie sheet and put them into the oven to bake. The baking is time the same as a regular cake, though if the tops are too brown or not brown enough, adjust the time accordingly. The oven I have now runs about 15 degrees hotter than it should, so watch them!
  4. About five minutes before the cake is done baking, start to boil the lids. When the water has reached a rolling boil, drain the lids from the pot and pat dry with a clean towel, set aside.
  5. When the cakes are done, remove the jars from the oven. The following steps need to be done within ten minutes of removal from the oven. The jars need to be hot in order to create a seal with the lids.

Frost and Finish:

  • The simplest way to frost jar cakes is by using a pastry bag and medium tip or by taking a large Ziploc bag, filling it with frosting, and snipping one corner. Squeeze the frosting out of the cut corner into the jars. The best place to start is on the sides of the jar where the cake has cooled away from the glass.
  • Add as much frosting as desired to each of the cakes. The frosting will melt a bit and run down the sides of the glass, making a cake that is frosted on all sides.
  • While the jars are still hot, seal with the lids. It is very important to do this while the jars are still hot– the heat of the glass creates a natural seal with the lids that will keep the cake fresh. After a few minutes you should hear the lids making popping or "ping" sound, indicating that they have sealed. If the lids have not popped after 15 minutes or so, try re-boiling the lids to re-heat them.
  • Let the jars cool and decorate the outside.
You can get all kinds of creative with tags and tops and bows and shit. You can even tie those little green-friendly bamboo spoons on the outside for uber-cuteness, although those suckers aren't cheap. Here are some cutie-pie pics from around the interwebs.
 

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And here are some other how-to's for other yummy ideas:

Hazelnut Marzipan Jar Cakes from Vintage Mixer.

Pie (PIE!) in a Jar from Our Best Bites.

Pumpkin Cake in a Jar via Cakespy from Serious Eats.

Swirled Nutella Cake in a Jar from The Girl with a Curl.

Now, last but not least, if you think these are super cute and yet you don't have a freakin' DIY/cooking bone in your poor little body, do not despair. I just found (via Charlotte Wedding magazine) a local Charlottean who can do these for $2.50 a pop, $4 for large ones. Check out Edible Art of Charlotte. Additionally, these are awesome if you like cake, but don't want to have a regular ol' cake sitting out on your counter tempting you day and night with it's cakey-goodness. You can keep these stored away and eat them only when you're damn good and ready. Happy eating/baking/buying!

Monday
Mar282011

Nutty Bacon Cheese Ball

My eyes are still burning from this weekend. I can't tell if it was Washington DC's blooming cherry blossoms, the bridal shower's scented candles or the 3am post-bachelorette party bedtime on Saturday night. What I do know is that my brain is still not functioning and writing this post is actually hurting the part of my brain that thinks (or in this case, the part that's trying to think). 

So instead, I will feature one of the weekend's key food items, Fisher Nutty Bacon Cheese Ball. My girlfriend made this for the bridal shower while I sat on her kitchen counter, talked smack and took "tasting" spoonfuls of this recipe in progress. I even got to lick the bowl.

Fisher Nutty Bacon Cheese Ball via Paula Deen and Oprah.

Ingredients
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese , softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) blue cheese , crumbled
  • 1/4 cup finely minced green onions (white part only)
  • 1 jar diced pimento , drained
  • 3/4 cup Fisher pecans , divided (Of course, any nut will do!)
  • 10 slices bacon , cooked, drained, finely crumbled and divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Directions

Place cream cheese in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to Speed Two and mix 1 minute. Stop and scrape bowl. Turn to Speed Two and gradually add milk, mixing until well blended about 1 minute. Stop and scrape bowl. Add cheeses, onions, pimientos, half of the bacon and half the pecans. Turn to Speed 4 and beat until well blended, about another minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer mixture to a large piece of plastic wrap. Form into a ball and wrap tightly.

Repeat with the remaining mixture. Refrigerate (or freeze) at least 2 hours.

Combine the remaining bacon and remaining pecans, parsley and poppy seeds in a pie plate. Then, remove the plastic wrap and roll the cheese ball lightly in the bacon/nut mixture until evenly coated. Wrap it back up in plastic wrap and refrigerate again until ready to use.

This sucker is good while it's being made as well as in its totality. We saved the left over coating mixture and cooked it into omlettes the next day with cheddar cheese. Super yum.I kinda want to make this and then schmear it all over The Candyman for a fun snack.

It's that good.

 

 

Monday
Dec062010

{DIY on the Cheap} Holiday Front Door Decor

It's beginning to look a lot like...a holiday that I'm totally unprepared for!

At least The Candyman and I put up our tree this weekend! We also had a dinner party for the partners in his law firm (more to come on that) and I did a little Christmas DIY - the point of this post! If anyone can tell me where I got this idea, that'd be great. Totally not my own idea, just to make sure there are no questions about that. I haven't had an original idea since.....well, ever. I'm just really good at taking other people's ideas and making them my own. Honestly, I think I saw this in O Magazine. Or maybe on-line over at The Martha. If you've seen it, please tell me where so I can give proper cred.

I used things I already had around the house and so should you. I spent ZERO dollars on this and I bet you can too. What are we making today? A fun door wreath thingy that's not really a wreath. Let's just call it Holiday Front Door Decor. OK? OK. Let's get started.

I used some extra branches we trimmed off the bottom of our Christmas tree as well as stalks from the rosemary bush we have outside. The rosemary is tall with it's blooms still in tact. It winters well so anyone with a bush or plant is probably still in luck! I bet you can do this with just your tree branches and/or any other sorts of stalky branch things you might have in your yard. I already had all the supplies on hand. If you don't have floral wire, you could probably tie it together with some other kind of wire. String might work, but will be pain in the ass to deal with and might not hold as well. But in a pinch...do what you gotta do.

Step 1: Start by gathering the branches of the greens and rosemary together and wrapping them with floral wire. Wrap it around and do some figure 8's to make sure it's nice and tight. Wrap in one branch at a time to make sure it's really tightly bound.

Step 2: Keep adding and wrapping with wire until you've got a nice big bunch. Wrap the wire around it several times to secure when you're done. While you're adding branches and wrapping, start to look at how the branches are falling together in regards to length and such. You're creating an upside down bouquet of sorts. AH! And until this very second, I never even thought of what a CUTE winter bouquet this would make!

Step 3: (Optional) Wrap your floral tape over the wire. Leave some of the ends of your branches sticking out just a little.

Step 4: Wrap your ribbon around your wire/floral tape and tie a pretty bow. My bow isn't so pretty because I effing suck at tying bows. Hate doing it too. I think it might have something to do with being left-handed. All I know is that I suck at them. Let's move on.

Once you've got the ribbon all done, all you need to do is hang it on your door hook that you would generally hang a wreath on. Just tuck the hook up somewhere inside your upside-down bouquet and you'll be good to go. Now here is where you might have to make some adjustments. If you're upside-down bouquet looks a little lopsided on your door, take some of the extra greens (small pieces) and start sticking them up into the arrangement (under the ribbon, natch) as needed. That way any big holes and length issues can be easily solved. It's why I wanted you to wrap everything really tightly - so you can add to it without having to unwrap, re-wrap, whatever-wrap. I probably added in 4-5 small branches to balance it all out.

Here's what it can look like when you're all done!

I'm loving the fact that I spent zero dollars on this. I was this close to getting a wreath when we bought our tree, but it was totally freakin' cold out yesterday and the wind was whipping through my sweater just a little too much. So we grabbed our tree and ran for the warmth of the car. Besides, The Candyman has little patience when it comes to me and my selection process of anything. I swear to God, it used to take me 30 minutes just to pick out a freakin' toothbrush. Small, medium or large head? Soft bristles or hard? Angled head or straight? Handle grip or no handle grip? Color? Oh my God. Fo real, it's making me crazy just thinking about it. Several years ago I got an OralB electric toothbrush and I swear, I think I gained like 5 years back into my schedule. For reals.

But I digress.

So we have our Holiday Front Door Decor. We have our tree up. Now, perhaps I should consider buying some gifts to go under said tree? Perhaps. Normally, I am so on top of this Christmas business. I'm the girl that sends out her Christmas cards like, in the first week of December. I'm generally done shopping way early and I can just chillax in December. Not so much this year. It's leaving me slightly frantic, but not too TOO frantic. I mean, I could be way behind and employed. That would be kind of a bitch right now right? To have a job? An inconvenience at best, right? Lucky me.

I also want to share my favorite ornaments with you since the tree was up and my camera was out. This first one was made by my brother many years ago. I do so love creativity and my brother has way more than his share. Asshole (said in a sarcastic, sisterly way, of course).

And I wish I knew where this came from, but I've lost the source of this one way somewhere in my hippocampus. But come ON! How cute is this? A puffy, naked angel? It just makes me smile.

So, what do you think of my little DIY Holiday Front Door Decor? Have I inspired you or your front door? What's YOUR fave ornament? Do tell.