Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Jam

I asked my mom for her canning stuff about a year ago and never found time to use it.  BUT, we picked Strawberries this week at a local U-pick farm and I decided to make some yummy jam!

This was a great first time canning project as it is easy to make and the pressure cooker is not needed (just boiling for jam.)
I followed the recipe inside the label of the Ball brand pectin.  I used the lower sugar kind- it gives recipes for using no sugar or for using a smaller amount.  I did about 1/2 cup sugar for each 16oz of jam and it is plenty sweet.  I wouldn't want it any sweeter!
Did I mention its a bit messy???

Basically, you mash up your berries, then you blend in pectin, water, and sugar. You let it boil for about a minute, put it into hot jars, place the lids on and boil completely covered in water for about 10 minutes.  EASY! 

And they look so cute for gift-giving when you cut out a square of vintage-y fabric with your pinking shears and put it in the lid.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Affordable Summer Wedding Outfits!

My cousin saw my $1500 "dream" outfit on Polyvore that I wish I could buy to wear to a wedding...and promptly suggested that I come up with something we can all actually afford!  So here are a few options for you based on the type of wedding!  Hope this helps!

The Wedding:
Outdoor, morning or afternoon wedding.
No pointy heels or you'll sink in the grass!  Try not to wear black, be cheerful and festive!  Wear something that will breathe to minimize sweating.

Outdoor Daytime Wedding- affordable!

Floral print dress
$50 -

Aldo shoes
$35 -

2b thong sandals
$20 -

Hinge wallet
$13 -

Jeffrey Campbell retro jewelry
$9.99 -

Forever 21 jewelry
$9.80 -

The Wedding:
Formal Evening Wedding
If the wedding is in a place of worship, bring something to cover up your spaghetti straps (a shawl, pretty cardi, etc.) to show respect.  Included on the left- more conservative style.  On right, more funky and fun style.

Formal Evening Wedding options

Adrianna Papell evening dress
$63 -

Max cleo dress
$100 -

White House Black Market silver clutch
$44 -

Envelope clutch
£25 -

Tinley Road teardrop chandelier earrings
$28 -

Teardrop earrings
$8 -

That's about all I have time to create today...maybe I will buy one of these outfits for myself to use this summer!  (Although I have to pump when away from little miss baby so that is a whole other wardrobe issue!!!)

Formal Evening Wedding options

Formal Evening Wedding options

Max cleo dress
$100 -

White House Black Market silver clutch
$44 -

Envelope clutch
£25 -

Teardrop earrings
$8 -

Friday, May 18, 2012

Teacher Appreciation

A quick post to show you what I ended up doing for LJ's teachers.  I found some pretty flower pots at Hobby Lobby, grabbed a couple of beautiful herbs at Fresh Market, and made foam flowers to stick in them that say "Thanks for helping me grow!"
EASY- and her teachers loved them!!!

Listen on the go!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Lenovo for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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I am really excited about these speakers!  The Lenovo speaker M0520 is a small speaker that can go with you!  It attaches to your smartphone, laptop, computer, or MP3 player so that you can have better sounding music with any of those devices.

Lenovo speaker

It gives you great sound with its 4 watts of power, and built-in amplifiers and a subspeaker! 

It is easy to use- simply plug into a USB (It even has an energy saving function!)

It is portable- the wire even spools for neat storage!

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It has great style (don't these look great?)

These are great speakers for anyone to use who wants some great sound coming from their devices.  With the spooling speaker wire you don't have to worry about it getting tangled up!  I also love that there isn't a need for different speakers for each device- the Lenovo speaker M0520 can work on whatever I want.

I would expect to pay a lot for speakers with these features, but from 5/15 - 5/21 these speakers will be on sale for only $11.99!  That is affordable enough to grab a couple as gifts (um, hello recent grads!) or to dole out to the kids. 

Oh, and don't forget yourself- I am picturing this plugged into my phone while I sip a cool drink on a beach...

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

I-Spy Tutorial is Here!!!

It's here!  This really is an EASY project, but I just haven't had time in my sewing room until today.  I also started a really adorable sun suit for Stella using some light blue eyelet and vintage cotton eyelet trim for the ruffles.  It is going to be sooooo cute!
But back to I-Spy bags...these are great for kids who need to work on fine motor skills, memory, learning colors and shapes, etc.  If your child is on the Autism spectrum (as the recipient of this bag is) then you will want to make a few of these!  They would be a great teacher gift for your child's special ed teacher too- make a couple and tie them up with a spa gift card.  Teachers need that! (I know, I used to be one!)

You will need:
-2 fabric scraps, about 8"x8"
-a Clear plastic scrap (needs to be thick and durable- I cut up a bag that some sheets came in, you know the heavy plastic kind with a zipper?)
-Rice, beans or plastic fillers
-Tiny objects to fit inside (Try the craft store, tiny dollhouse pieces, bead shops have cute things too)
-Sewing stuff (machine, thread)
-Scotch tape (the satin finish kind)
-A camera
-A computer and printer
-Contact paper (or a trip to the office store to laminate)

Let's get started, shall we?

Step One:
Gather up your tiny items and photograph each one individually.  Here is a sample of what is in this bag.
Step Two:
Use the individual photos to make a composite and label each item.  I used the free online photo editor "fotoflexer" in collage mode to make this!
Step Three:
Print out the composite, and cover with contact paper or laminate.  This page will be kept with the I-Spy bag.  You can attach it to the bag with double sided velcro, a metal ring, etc.  Whatever you prefer.

Step Four:
Cut out two squares, about 8"x8".
Step Five:
Fold one square over, about 1/3 of the way.  Then cut a window out!

Step Six:
Cut out a plastic window slightly larger than the fabric window.
Step Seven:
Cut out any appliques you want to use to decorate the bag.  I made some eye pieces with a button for the eyeball.  The stripes will top the black part.
Step Eight:
Place a piece of the Scotch satin tape on your presser foot.  This will make it slide effortlessly over the plastic.  (Do this anytime you sew on plastic, laminated fabric, oilcloth, etc.)
Step Nine:

Using an applique stitch of your choice, attach the plastic window.  I set my stitches close together so I didn't need to hem the window first.  Yay for saving time!
Step Ten:
Apply your design item, in my case the Eye for I-spy!

Step Eleven:
With right sides facing, sew the two squares together leaving an opening to turn/stuff.  Clip corners!  (No picture, I know you got this, right!?!?!)

Step Twelve:
Stuff with rice (or whatever you chose to use) and the tiny items.  Leave space for the top stitching!

Step Thirteen:
Top stitch once on the very edge to close the hole.  Then go in about 3/4" and do it again!  You will need to move the rice around carefully so you don't stitch over it!

All done!  Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring-y Decorated Sugar Cookies

I LOVE making my "special cookies" which is really just cut-out sugar cookies that are decorated (that's the special part!)
With LJ's preschool carnival coming up, I knew I wanted to contribute something for the cake walk!  Since I needed to drop it off a few days beforehand, I went with these cookies.
Check out the best recipes and tips all in one place- the blog Glorious Treats.  If you don't follow her blog you are missing out on some great ideas for parties, cakes, and of course, cookies!
I used to use a different recipe but now I use hers and it turns out great every time.
Step One: Don cure apron and no make-up.  (Okay, the no make-up part is just on there as a disclaimer!)
Step Two: Make dough, chill, roll out, then choose a couple of flower cookie cutters and go to town.  I know, I know, that is a million steps.  HINT: Roll out your dough on top of a flour-cloth towel that you have rubbed flour into.  It will NEVER stick, and it won't add a bunch of flour to your yummy dough!
Step Three:  Bake em'.  HINT:  Cool your sheets in between batches by throwing them in the freezer for a minute!  This will keep it from melting your dough too soon.
Step Four:  Make some Royal Icing and separate it into batches for different colors.  I used the green, yellow, and pink as-is, then mixed pink and blue for purple too.  These are the Wilton gels and they worked great.  HINT: I take a ziploc, put the interior plastic part for the frosting coupler in the corner, but DO NOT snip corner off yet.  Then you can fill with the frosting and seal so it doesn't dry out while you are doing the other colors!  You will need to snip the corner before you frost, obviously!  Use the freezer bag ones or your bag might split.

For my daisies, I did the petals first,then made a spiral of contrasting icing in the center.  Then I added a dot of green.
For my tulips, I decided to get a little crazy and make a floral scene.  I did the grass outline first, then flooded, then did the flowers, then the stem/leaves, and finally, the dots in the center in contrasting icing.
And to make everything look better, fancy packaging!  I got three of these cupcake boxes for $3.50 at TJ Maxx.  They are the "Meri" brand if you want to try to find some.  They are perfect for cupcakes, but worked fine for the cookies too!

I hope this inspired you to get baking!  I hadn't done this in a while and it was fun, I have missed it!  My house was a mess after because I let my 2 year old run wild.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten the cookies done!

I am working on the i-spy tutorial!  I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday and spent waaaaaay too much money buying miniature things to put in them. So excited to get the first one done!