Rambling Around the House

Use those tools, gadgets and supplies in your craft room or closet to make great things.

Green Wreath for the Garden Gate

I’m getting ready to launch into my garden and get it together. My back screen has had a wreath on the inside of the door (so I can see it from the inside with the door closed.) I was looking at this wreath that I hung on my back screen gate years ago. I don’t even know how long ago. It was dusty, faded and totally ignored. Why do I keep things like that? I am in and out of the door dozens of times all Spring and Summer and had let it become quite neglected. I had driven past Michael’s the day before and saw all their Spring flowers out front for 50% off. I decided it was time to renew the wreath.

The first color to jump out at me was the lime green and whites. Tulips were my focus point and I found tulips. The rest was easy. I picked out some small white narcissus, a bunch of the same color green zinnias, some dogwood that had some green buds that same shade of green. I don’t know how much I saved on this project but it was a good deal. Total was under $17 with tax included. Of course I had the wreath form and paint on hand.

I took the old grapevine wreath off the door. I removed the sunflowers and greenery that were on it. Next I took it outside and gave it much needed washing with the water hose to remove any excess dust. There was a lot of it. The wreath was suddenly bright and new looking. After it dried in the sun and 40+ mph wind, I sprayPatio Furniture painted the entire thing the same color green as the tulips. I just happened to have that color spray paint leftover from last year’s re-do on my patio table and chairs. The chair on the right is that shade of green.  Looking at this reminds me I need to do some touch-up painting on these.  The colors have faded a lot since last year.  If the wind ever stops blowing I’ll do this first.

Wreath Form

Anyway, once the wreath was dry I brought it in and sort of played with a layout  and began to intertwine the flower stems in the grapevine wreath.  I like these wreaths.  They don’t require all the wiring like the wire-frame wreaths.

 

In about 30 minutes I had this assembled and hung with pipe cleaners on the back screen gate.

Gardent Gate Wreath

What you need:

  • 1 wreath form (I had a grapevine wreath)
  • Artificial flowers –  various bloom sizes and shades of your color theme (I cut them apart leaving the stems as long as possible from the bunch they come together as.) You can always trim them as short as desired as you begin to fill in the wreath.
  • (Optional)Spray paint if you want the wreath base a color (if not natural is very nice)
  • Pipe cleaners for attaching any flower heads that won’t stay in place and hanging.

Happy Springing

 

Easter Goodies

It’s almost Easter.  Can you believe 2013 is almost one quarter over?  I’m still trying to remember to write “2013!”  Yikes.  So today I am rambling down my Easter trail.  Or should I say hippity-hopping?  I didn’t think I had done anything yet, but as it turns out I have.  I put this little cupcake in my Grandmother’s pink depression glass sherbet dish.  They are such fine glass and such a pretty pink.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Marzipan Strawberries

Anyway, I saw these marzipan strawberries someplace and I just couldn’t get them out of my mind.  I had to try to make them. They were so easy.  I must have done something wrong.  First time trials for me are never easy or turn out right.  I surprised myself.

They inspired me to pull out some of my Easter bunny decorations and get some plastic eggs.  Then yesterday I bought some tulips for a vase on the counter. I wanted something fresh and pretty to look at.  I can’t wait until the outside garden begins to take shape and looks fresh and green. This is a true view of my kitchen counter.  When I walk in the house in the afternoon this is what I get to see.  I like it.

Spring Scene

I baked some mini and regular strawberry size (cake mix) cupcakes.  I trimmed the tops off to make them flat.   Then I warmed a container of cream cheese icing in the microwave until it was a pourable consistency.  Not too long.  I colored mine with Wilton rose gel food coloring.  Gently stir in the color with a toothpick.  Frost the cupcakes with a nice layer, but not enough to dribble down the sides.

For the strawberries:

I bought a roll of marzipan (almond paste).  Using a piece about ½” in size when rolled into a ball, begin to shape the strawberry.  Once you get the shape and size desired, roll it over a ginger grater to get the seed dimples on the berry.

Insert a toothpick in the broad base end and dry slightly on a piece of Styrofoam.  About 4 hours.

While those are drying use a piece of the marzipan to form the green leaves.  Put on your gloves and knead in the green food gel until evenly distributed.   Roll out to about a 1/8” thickness and cut out with a flower cookie cutter.  Shape to a desired fit at the base of the berry.  I affixed the green petal to the berry base with a drop of frosting.

After the berries are slightly dry, brush on a red color dust (Wilton) to your desired shade of red.  I used Rose.

From here you are free to use the berries in any form you want.  I put mine on the strawberry cupcakes.

I still had cupcakes so I made some of my favorite decorator buttercream icing and made a few cupcakes topped with flowers.  I put them on toothpicks and displayed them on a Styrofoam base.  They look like a nice bouquet.

Spring Bloom Cupcakes

I made these sugar eggs last year. Hopping Down the Bunny Trail with Sugar Eggs  These are displayed on a Dollar Tree 3-tiered server I made at Christmas.  I learned about it at Diana Rambles.

Bunnies, Cupcakes, Sugar Eggs

Clear glass plates (2 medium and 1 small) with clear glass short candlesticks.  Glue them together and Voila!!  A display server.

I am getting ready for the Saturday Dishes share party.  I hope you will hop on over!

Saturday Dishes

 

Pink Spring Wreath

Before we get to April showers we have to have March sandstorms.  We have had plenty of them so far this year.  I have to stay busy inside because I can’t stand to battle the wind trying to clean up the garden.  So I pretend it is already time for flowers to bloom by using artificial flowers for a wreath on my inner door.  I have an outer screen door that I decorated last year with a sweet colorful umbrella filled with spring flowers.

Flower Umbrella

 

This is what I did for this year.

Pink Spring Flower Wreath

First I went shopping at Garden Ridge in Austin.  Love that place.  Great prices and they have almost everything you didn’t know you needed.  But if you think about it, you’ll come up with a reason for it.  That’s how this wreath came to be.  The flowers were so large Krista had to bring them to me when she came to visit for my birthday.

Next procure a wire wreath form the size you want and a bundle of wire or many pipe cleaners to secure your flowers to the form.  A glue gun will do you no good on the wire form.

I clipped the large bunches of flowers into individual stems except for the larger bunch of white lilies at the top.  They were nicely arranged and looked natural for one large bunch.

I cut apart and secured the larger blooms around the form to balance them.

Next secure the medium sized pink lilies and a few buds.  Turn them in different directions and wire to the inside, middle and outside wreath wires for a well-rounded wreath.

Weave the wire stems over and under the wire form and secure with a piece of wire to hold the flower head in place and the middle of the flower as well.  Tuck the ends of the wire to the inside so you don’t scratch your door.

Last fill in with the smaller flowers to cover any bare spots on the form.

Use a pipe cleaner to hang it on your door.  I usually have to hang it and look at it to be sure I have the top as I want it (a little off-center is sometimes better).  Once you are satisfied twist the pipe cleaner to be sure the wreath stays in place.

Enjoy all summer long.  Now take a look at what we did last Spring. April Showers Bring May Flowers Wreaths  I have a wall of wreaths in my garage to exchange for every season.  How do you store yours for use next year?

 

Valentine’s Wreath

A Guest Post by Big Sister

Shhhhh…..don’t tell my Mom.  She is not a big fan of these wreaths.  I am so seldom crafty though, I had fun with this one and I have the administrator credentials to her site :).  This is so easy and so vague.  No real measuring and even not being able to cut straight lines is fine!  I would still not add crafty to my repertoire.  I think I once successfully completed a latch hook rug when I was 7 and my Mom owned a craft shop and maybe I did a tie dye shirt….once.

Valentine's Wreath

I saw something like this that was crazy popular on Pinterest.   Then I had to do it my way.  I am certain I have not done it justice.  I was thinking about my nieces so I added the tulle around the outside.  I am sending this to them as a surprise Valentine present.  I hope y’all can take this idea and make it better.

Resolution Solutions-2013 Organization Project

A BigSister Post

PINSANITY!

I don’t even know where I got some of this stuff but boy was it fun and does my house feel organized.  Everything is conveniently at my finger tips, easy to manage and easy enough to keep that way (fingers crossed).

Aaaahhh….I am basking in the glow of this project.  It was fun to learn about ALL of the organization tools that are out there.  Some are ridiculous in that a $30 foot long box, shaped like a shoebox is ridiculous.  Some things are truly finds though.  My suggestion is that you make an inventory of what you need to organize, find what you can at home to solve the problem then go shop for supplies in this order:  Dollar Store, Walmart/Target and as a last resort The Container Store.  The Container Store is a MAGNIFICENT place!  However, you will find yourself paying a lot of money to organize things you didn’t know needed organization.

There were a couple of things I forgot to take pictures of so let me start with those.

  1. Linen closet-store back up linens in the pillow case.  I always want new sheets but I don’t want to get rid of the current ones.  Problem solved!
  2. BUY A LABELMAKER-This is my favorite toy of all.  I color coded all my attic tubs and labeled each of them.  Getting something from the attic is no longer a scavenger hunt.
  3. A great find from The Container Store is the sliding pot lid rack.  I saved a whole cabinet shelf with the organization of these lids.  I didn’t see anything comparable someplace else.  This was very easy to install.  Now for the documented organization projects:
  4. If you are a follower, you know I have a tiny little spice addiction.  This is where bargain shopping really saved me.  This miraculous spice rack and drawer organizer from Rubbermaid was nearly half the price at WalMart vs. The Container Store for the exact same item.  It also helped that I threw out older spices and I limit myself to VERY small quantities of things I “just want to try.”  Savory Spice Shop in the Arboretum always has great stuff and they have made it so I can try just a little and then go back and buy the whole jar if it is going to become a staple.  Plus if I bring in the empty jar to refill I get $1.00 off.  The hanging spice rack moves easily with very few breakable parts and is sturdy.  It was relatively easy to install.
  5. Tension rods to divide baking sheets, pots and pans.  I saw this on Pinterest so many times I wouldn’t know who to give credit to.  It may be to bakers what the invention of the calculator was to scientists.  A whole new world!  No longer will I have to yell and remove all the pans to find the right ones and I have room for more.  These were $4.00 for a pair on Amazon.  The one tricky thing I found is that my top shelves of cabinets don’t have a top.  It is the drawer.  I had some extra PVC pipe  laying around and I cut it just to fit and put it just below the drawer bottom.  Now tension rods have a place to squeeze between.  They are easy enough to adjust for accommodating new items.  A bonus is they hold down my cabinet lining so that it doesn’t get dragged out with heavier items.  Mind you, The Container store has a brilliant pull out drawer that I still envy.  I am a renter though and it makes no sense to install that kind of hardware in cabinets I don’t own.
  6. A really neat and affordable item from The Container Store is the snappable drawer divider.  These are soooo easy to install and allow you to configure your drawers however you like.  I may redo my bedroom drawers with these next.  Three packages did 7 drawers in my kitchen.
  7. My pantry was a disaster of unfindable and out of date items.  Cleaning out the out of dates bought me some room, but it was still pretty crowded and unavigable in there.  I bought simple bins to group items that rarely get used.  I bought lazy susans to quickly spin to the many different oils and vinegars I use often.  I used magazine holders on their sides to store wraps, foils and plastic baggies.  I looked at all the nice canisters for storing bulk dry goods but the cost added up at over $4.00 or $5.00 each for the right size.  I found Walmart had plastic pitchers with tight sealing lids for $2.00 each.  I thought at first I would cut off the handles to allow more room.  It turns out that I didn’t need to do this and now things are easier to grab.  Here was a Walmart save vs. The Container Store:  The Container store had a door organizing system that priced out around $120.  This Rubbermaid one was $22.00, easy to install and very adjustable.  No more digging through a deep stack of cans to figure out what I have!
  8. I hate cleaning out the refrigerator.  It is difficult to get out the shelves and drawers towash them.  I don’t have to now.  I have lined these with plastic placemats from The Dollar Store.  Now I can take them out easily, wipe them down and the refrigerator is clean.
  9. Its my office and I’ll do what I want!  I get to work from home and I really don’t have that much paper.  I do have important personal documents and other things that just need a filing cabinet though.  This one was cheap at Walmart and I spray painted it purple and pink.  My office is also the guest room for my nieces.  I plan to let them decorate it with stickers next time they visit.
  10. A shoe organizer with some of the dividers cut out made a perfect organizer for my bags and tissue paper.  I may get another one to remodel for wrapping paper and bows.  One cut on the ends wire hanger made a ribbon roll organizer.  I can continue to add to this if needed by hanging a hanger onto the hanger above or attaching with string.
  11. Finally, my bathroom was in pretty good shape and I just cleaned out my closet not that long ago.  While I was at it why not make some more space though?  I did this with some very inexpensive shelves from Home Depot and one basket set from Walmart for $12.00.

Whew!  I’d like to say I am finished but is one really ever finished organizing?  There is always one more thing that needs attention.  What is your best organization tip?  Share a picture and your description or blog post on our Facebook page.

Winter Wreath

It is cold here.  The sun is finally shining after 4 days of gray skies with snow floating in the air.  It didn’t stick too much, but it did make a mess of a clean car.  We aren’t used to that kind of weather here.  I don’t know what to do with it.  I do know when the sun doesn’t shine for more than 2 days I get depressed.  I’m better today as the sun streams into my kitchen.  So I decided to make a wreath for the front door.  Maddie gets worried when my house isn’t decorated.

I was inspired yesterday by the late afternoon sunshine and went bargain hunting.  I found silver tinsel at Target for .35 each.  I bought 3 just in case I might need them.  Then at Michael’s I found snowflakes for 25 cents for 2 of them.  I had wreath forms at home so I was set.

I simply anchored the end of the tinsel with a pipe cleaner and wrapped and wrapped around the straw wreath form.  It took almost two packages for this one.  Then I added my snowflakes with white ribbon and hung it.  Done.  I call this one “Ice and Snow.”  It may be cold outside, but my red front door is always warm and inviting.  (I think everybody thought I lost my mind when I painted this.  It is such a nice background to almost everything I put on it.  Or I don’t put it on there!)  If it’s good enough for Elizabeth Arden, it’s good enough for me!!

With what I had on hand: wreath forms, and pipe cleaners this cost me a little over $1.25 to make.  I love projects that take very little time and very little money.  See what you have around your house to make a wreath for a bright spot in the long winter.  And visit the Dollar Store often.

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Peppermint Party

A Guest Post by Big Sister

Hi TWC fans.  I am excited to tell you about my recent peppermint party.  Thanks Mom for letting me have a day in your peppermint cookie baking frenzy to talk about it.  I am admittedly not the brilliant baker nor am I any type of crafty.  I am an A+ organizer though.  So, once a month for 10 months a year(at least last year and this year), the Austin Junior Forum (AJF) gives me the privilege of planning the party for our monthly meetings.  I love it!  They kindly indulge me and are very gracious with my experiments.  Some are great and some well….let’s call them “learning experiences.”  I and my dear, sweet co-hostess Amy get to decide the theme, the food and the fun.  That is my favorite part of a party.  I love to get things ready.  This is our house. The Daniel H. Caswell House.  Can you think of a more lovely setting?

In December, we have the BIG party at the Caswell House.  This is the month that we give out grants to various Austin groups that support women, children and the elderly.  We have representatives from these groups as guests that evening.  It is the most touching meeting of the year as we get to hear the impact of all the volunteering and fundraising we do.  We also invite people who might be interested in joining to come to this dinner.  In other words, we have a BIG crowd to plan for, OH GOODY!  We also invited the Austin Senior Activity Group just to make it a little more of a challenge.  Amy and I had 100+ people to plan for so we decided to keep it simple. We had a couple of relish trays and cheeseballs for appetizers, ham and scalloped potatoes, turkey tetrazzini, salads, rolls and Cookies for dessert.  We had wine, of course. Do not mess with the AJF ladies’ wine.

Amy and I fretted and worried that we would not have enough food.  We had plenty.  Way too much food in fact.  It all found a good home at the end of the night.  The men of the Austin Senior Activity Group made sure there was not a cookie left.  Amidst all the fretting and worrying I had to have something to occupy my mind.  That is where the decorations originated.  Worrying and Pinterest spurred me into “craftivity.”  I made a Peppermint Centerpiece (KatieBrown Home Workshop), Candy Cane Place Card holders (Industrious Justice) and Peppermint Serving Trays (Tutto Bella).  The flower arrangement, for better or worse, and tags and Large Candy Cane Place Card Holders were all created and made by me.

I might get this crafting thing yet!  Next, I am going to try one of those Ornament Ball wreaths.  After that, January is the AJF chili cook off. Hmmm….what crafty things can I think of with chiles and peppers?  Any suggestions?

I am so proud and happy to be part of the Austin Junior Forum and the work that we do. There is no gift better than the reward I feel from sharing with and caring for others.  If you live in the Austin area, are a woman age 21+ and want to be part of our monthly party let us know.  The more the merrier we always say.  You can get more information from our website:  http://www.austinjuniorforum.org/ or just stop by the Caswell House the first non-holiday Tuesday of any month (except November and July).  The party starts at 5:45!

If you want to be involved from far away you can buy one of our fabulous cookbooks.  These are incredible recipes from deep in the heart of Texas.

 

Lone Star Legacy is AJF’s original cookbook that has become a classic. Three years of gathering and testing recipes went into the making of the collection, and it shows. This was the first Texas cookbook selected for the Walter S. McIlhenny Community Cookbook Hall of Fame. It is more than just a cookbook – it’s a keepsake!

 

 

 

 

Originally published in 1995, Changing Thymes is AJF’s third cookbook and, as the cover states, is a collection of new traditions in Texas cooking. Recipes in this cookbook focus on balanced meals with healthier lifestyles, and nutritional information is included with each recipe.

 

 

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Grinch Pills

I am not the inventor of these clever little gems.  Thank you, Pinterest because I have seen them in 100s of versions.  This is mine.  I may keep some of these handy.   They really are dandy! Ha ha!

I am making 1,000 of these to give to attendees of the tearoom luncheons at Austin Junior Forum Christmas at the Caswell House.  Christmas at the Caswell House is in full swing now.  If you haven’t seen it and you are anywhere near Austin stop in and see the house.  It is a Christmas spectacular.  They are open this week from 10-3 for shopping.  All proceeds will go to local organizations.  A great tradition for a fantastic reason.

I had the cards printed at Vista Print for less than $50 and ordered the chocolate covered candies from Oriental Trading.  I found a glue dot roller and plastic baggies at Hobby Lobby.  All that was left was to assemble.  They would be a great party favor or school party gift.

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Happy Fall Ya’ll! Decorations to FALL for

HappyFallYall

I really enjoy the weather and the changes of the light this time of year. It is the nesting instinct I think. It’s time to think about getting cozy, snuggle up under the blanket with a cup of hot tea, make casseroles and soups and going home. I have more decorations for Fall than any other season, well, except Christmas, of course. I so enjoy those bright oranges, yellows and reds in the bright sunshine the best. Krista lived in PA for a while and the Fall colors there amazed me. They actually made me cry the first morning she took me out for a view. It doesn’t take much to stir up my emotions, but those colors were beautiful and that Fall was very special to me. Here in West Texas we have to create our own color spots because we certainly don’t have the climate or the trees to recreate that blaze of color. We can travel to nearby New Mexico and see some aspens that are brilliant yellow. But once you’ve seen the leaves turning it sort of gets in your blood. You want more!

I bought this little set years ago from some catalog that was going around at work. The pieces (head with hat and sign with gloves for hands) are wooden and have dowels to insert into a real pumpkin and made this little “squatty-body” guy. I had a brilliant idea this year. Why not buy one of those beautiful artificial pumpkins and have this to use forever! I’m a little slow, but when the creative juices get flowing I feel very clever! And it will last forever!  I added a few fall leaves with a glue gun and put him in a large flower pot.   Now isn’t that clever and cute?

I’ve added a short strand of colorful artificial leaves to my ristra I made last year and it has a bright little splash of color.  Click here to learn the basics of the ristra.

I had it hanging on a hanger with a plastic bag covering it since last Fall. The colorful leaves added a real bright spot and the bag keeps it dust-free. My garage has a wall of wreaths. They are all hanging with plastic bags over them and I just switch them out for the seasons. Maddie gets concerned when Lita’s house isn’t decorated with a wreath. Not to worry, I have plenty!

These two wreaths have been in use for about 15 years. The one on the red door hasn’t had anything added to it in several years. Next year it will get a new bow, I think. It is actually a small wreath (center) that I added it to a larger grape vine wreath and added the swag of leaves around the larger wreath and the bow on top.

I totally refreshed the straw wreath on the outside door this year. I made new bows and fresh swags of leaves and flowers to brighten it up. It’s hard to see, but on the right hand side is one of my favorite finds. She is a corn husk angel with a basket of bright colored fruit. She has faded over the years, but she is always there each Fall when I put out this wreath.

I made this pumpkin floral arrangement last year. It was so quick and easy to pull off the shelf of the closet and put it out on the table. Instant Fall in my kitchen!  Click here for directions.

Of course with the Fall comes Pumpkin Bread. It really says “Fall is here” to me. This is the one recipe of my Grandmother’s I can make that tastes just like hers. I’ve made it for years and shared this recipe with my church for our cookbook. I make it for friends and neighbors and my family. It is a welcoming smell in any kitchen. Plain, unadorned Pumpkin Bread.

I made this ceramic bread basket years ago at a shop near my home. I sort of became the neighborhood ceramic lady for a while. I still enjoy this piece.

In case you can’t tell, I like to keep things and reuse them. Memories, you know….. that’s what it’s all about.

Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs, well beaten – room temperature
  • 1 small can pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
  • 1-¼ cups vegetable oil

Mix dry ingredients and make a well in the center. Add pumpkin, eggs, and oil and blend until well moistened.

Bake in well-greased loaf pans for 1 hour at 350° or until skewer inserted in middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven onto wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Then put on sheets of foil and wrap tightly while still warm. Leave out to cool completely. This helps the bread become very moist. Resist eating for at least 24 hours.

If using small loaf pans, adjust the baking time slightly. You can also make muffins with this recipe. I make the mini muffins. Baking time is 20-25 minutes.

Store in airtight containers for storage. These freeze well.

My favorite Fall decoration is this little angel. She’s made out of fabric with a grapevine halo and she holds a cornucopia. Her wings are leaf-shaped and her dress is a Fall plaid. (My mother would love her dress.) She sits on anything I can find to make her the centerpiece of my Fall porch decorations.

Leaves are falling
Frost is near
Autumn’s angels gather here.