Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wilted celery? Try this!

Rehydrating Celery


Wilted celery? No problem, just stick it in a cup of water overnight to rehydrate it. In the morning your celery will be full of crunch again! I hear this also works with artichokes!

The piece with the leaves jumped up in about an hour, so I ate it...

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Camp Barnabas T-Shirt Quilt

T-Shirt Quilt

I attended a week of summer camp at Camp Barnabas for 11 years. When I tallied up how many T-shirts I had I realized that I had better make a quilt--el pronto! Very simple quilt to make: Cut out the T-shirts according to how big you want each square to be. Iron on T-shirt stabilizer to the back of each T-shirt square to keep it from stretching all over the place. Attach sashing in-between each square, layer and quilt! I put two layers of batting in this quilt, so it is SUPER warm (perfect for sleeping on the couch).

Camp Barnabas is a Christian camp in southern Missouri for children with special needs and their siblings. This place changed my life: it is where I gave my heart to Christ AND where I met my husband 10 years later. Can't get much better than that?! Learn more at

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

T-Shirt Dress and Headbands

T-Shirt Dress and Headbands

Saw this tutorial via for making a baby dress out of an old t-shirt. I have not attempted to sew any articles of clothing since I was about 10 years old and ended up sobbing over the sewing machine at my lopsided attempt at PJ pants. But it's been 15 years since then, so I was willing to give it another go. I loved the little crushed flowers on this t-shirt dress so I merged the two patterns. You can find the tutorial for the braided headband {here}. I even stuck a little crushed flower on the headband. Oh what endless possibilities! Perfect for easy summer play attire.

I just hemmed the sleeves of the little blue dress by hand, without making any binding.

This cute little pink and blue stripped dress is a bit too big for her right now, but she will keep growing, I'm sure! I made binding for the bottom and the sleeves and it gave them a little flare. Also put in some ties for an easy sash. The sweet pleats on the front were part of the original T-shirt.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Ripe Cherries Quilt

Ripe Cherries Quilt

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I don't usually buy fabric on a whim but this was one time that I did. I saw this fabric series at Jo-Ann and thought "I need this!". Well, it turned out pretty great, although I don't suggest buying things on a whim at Jo-Ann as a general rule. ;) I bought 1/4 yard of several different matching fabrics and cut them into different widths. Then I pieced them together until each square ended up the same size (trimming when necessary). After attaching the sashing and borders, it sat in my closet for about a year. Yup, a whole year of me not sure how I wanted to quilt this baby. Then I decided to do it by hand (call me crazy, but it was fun). Loop-de-loops on the borders, a big daisy pattern in the middle of each square, and a branch with leaves decorates each sashing piece. I LOVE how this one turned out. So maybe it isn't so bad to buy fabric on a whim...
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Floral Car Quilt

Floral Car Quilt

Another quick, "figure it out as you go" quilt. It's lap sized and perfect as my car quilt. If I get cold or if my baby gets cold, it's always there. I used scraps and mixed and matched the assembly of each square.

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Refurbished Dumpster Chair and Throw Pillows From a Duvet Cover

Refurbished Dumpster Chair and Throw Pillows From a Duvet Cover

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It dawned on me last week that I live in of the largest cities in the US. I will probably not always live downtown and thus I need to take advantage of the fact that people throw out perfectly good furniture here all the time! Especially because I live right by UIC--college students are constantly moving in and out, throwing out what was left by the previous tenant, or getting rid of what they can't move with them.

Some neighbors mentioned to me that they were spring cleaning and together these two main ideas collided in my head like a firework show: Maybe other people are spring cleaning this weekend too...I need to look down every alley I pass on my morning walk. And so I did. And low and behold I ran across a broken chair without a seat cushion. One of the legs had popped off the pegs but was not splintered. I really liked the back and thought it had character. "If I could only find the missing seat cushion", I thought. I glanced to my right and there it was sticking out of a garbage can! SCORE! I took a before picture, but it didn't save to my phone (major bummer because it looked bad!). All I can tell you was that it was a light dirty oak color and the seat cushion had this stained green fabric on it:

After hauling the dirty chair to my garage, I sanded down the rough edges, and bought some wood glue to repair the popped-out-peg. I already had a can of espresso spray paint, so I went at it. While the paint was drying, I pulled all the staples out of the seat cushion that were holding the fabric in place. I thought I might have to buy a new cushion if it was mildewy or gross, but it was perfect underneath! So I cut some fabric that I already had and stapled it on. In 24 hours the spray paint had dried and today I have a fabulous arm chair nearly for free (I had to buy $3 wood glue and I wasn't patient enough to wait to borrow my Mom's staple gun, so I bought my own for $10 but what a worthwhile investment--I foresee many uses for that staple gun in the future!)!

The fabric is actually from a duvet cover that I bought at the Goodwill for $7. It didn't match the decor in our bedroom, but I loved the fabric so I am incorporating it into our brown and red living room via the new cushion on this refurbished chair, a quilt (forthcoming), and throw pillows. I even used the buttons at the bottom of the duvet cover on the back of the pillows so they were SUPER quick and easy. I love thrifting!!!

Totally pumped...

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Paper Rose Wreath Tutorial

Paper Rose Wreath Tutorial

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Pinterest has inspired me to tackle some awesome crafty things like this paper wreath; you can find similar ones on etsy for over $70. Total cost to me? $3!!

You'll need:
  • 8" foam wreath (Finished wreath size: 12" round)
  • Small paperback novel (thrift store books are great for this project because you can use a classic like Tolkien or Austen and if they are a bit older they will have a wonderful natural tintedness to the pages). I used every single page of a paperback copy of The Two Towers. If you start with a larger foam wreath, you will need two books instead of just one.
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

Step 1) Wrap your wreath in several half-sheets to cover any spots that might show through between roses.

Step 2) Rip out three pages at a time from your book. Rip the sheets in half to make two small roses or to make one large rose use the whole page. Using scissors to round the edges so that you have a small square or a large oval.

Step 3) Use your pencil to draw a spiral (you will get good enough to eye ball this step by about rose number four). Here you can see my book and a spiral example that will make a small-ish rose.

Step 4) Use scissors to cut along your spiral lines leaving you with a long twirly snake-like piece of paper.

Step 5) Starting at the smallest end, begin to wrap the spiral in on itself, getting looser as you work towards the edge of your rose. There's lots of room for creativity here. You can be very uniform or be a free spirit. Sometimes I tore the paper to give it a rough edge. Sometimes I made my spiral thicker at some points and thinner on others to give depth to my petals. Sometimes I twisted/rolled the paper as I was creating the rose to give variance. Some roses I made very loose and some I rolled very tight and small. I suggest cutting off the margins of your book pages so that you don't have some roses that just look white when you're done instead of have all that nice writing everywhere!

You can see a map of mordor on this rose...excellent!

Step 6) Using your hot glue gun, create a layer of glue along the back of your rose (trying to touch every edge on the bottom) and immediately stick onto your wreath. I started by gluing my roses one by one onto the center of the foam wreath and then worked my way in and out to give depth. I made smaller roses in the center of the wreath and larger roses for the outside edge. Keep filling in spaces and turning until you like the way it looks!

If you want to hang it, just jam the foam onto a nail. Voila! This is a great project to do while watching a movie (or two or three). It took several hours to complete but made for a very relaxing afternoon (and lots of Jane Austen!).

I found a used copy of Tolkien's The Two Towers for a dollar at the Goodwill (which was perfect since I read the series this year for the first time). I can spot the words "Frodo", "Sam" and "Oliphant" on my wreath. I even managed to get bits of the fabulous maps at the end of the book showing. Love it!!

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Last Name Art

This project took me a day to complete. I took photos along my usual morning walk in letters that spelled my last name: Shih. Then I edited them using (the site is only available until April 19, 2012 so hurry!). You could print off your saved photos and frame them, or assemble a collage using (shown above). I think it looks pretty neat and I love that it's fences that I pass everyday. Think of the possibilities: Bible "addresses", phrases, a baby's name, etc! Try it yourself!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Move over Tollhouse, there's a bigger, better chocolate chip cookie in town: America's Test Kitchen Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie to be exact.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
14 Tbl butter divided
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda (heap it if your baking soda is over a month old)
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cups nuts (I always use pecans)

Brown 10 Tbl butter in skillet 3-5 minutes (should be brownish in color and have a nutty smell). Pour into bowl. Stir in other 4 Tbl butter. Add sugars, salt, and vanilla. Whisk eggs in 30 seconds then let the batter stand 3 minutes. Repeat this whisk/stand pattern twice. Use spatula or wooden spoon to mix in flour and baking soda for 1 minute. Stir in chips and nuts. Drop 3 Tbl balls, 2 inches apart on greased pans (or use parchment paper). Rotate halfway through baking. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-14 minutes.

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DIY Soft Baby Rings

DIY Soft Baby Rings Tutorial:
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Saw this idea and just went for it! Great "church toys" because they are quiet, she can stick them in her mouth as much as she's like AND when they get dirty, just throw them in the washing machine! Cost to me: $0 because I used scraps!

Step 1: Assemble your scraps and decide how many rings you want to string together (I did three but you could do as many as you'd like!).

Step 2: Cut your pieces (sew together if you only have small pieces) so that you have one strip for each ring that is 7" x 3".

Step 3: Fold your strip in half long-wise (right sides together) and sew a seam 1/4" in, starting at the short end, and going along the long side. Do not sew the last short end!

Step 4: Turn your strip inside out. A chopstick, pencil, or pair of scissors works pretty well for helping turn this puppy right-side-out.

Step 5: Stuff your tube. I used some pillow stuffing that I had leftover, or I discovered that a plastic bag from the grocery store works well to give it some crinkle! Use scissors to cut a plastic bag into 2"-ish strips and stuff until you achieve your desired puffiness!

Step 6: Fold the short end in on itself 1/4" and sew shut
Step 7: Fold your filled tube on itself and top stitch to secure. NOTE: make sure you link the next circle to the last one BEFORE you sew it shut!

I made the above one from fabric that matches this baby quilt. What an easy homemade baby gift idea!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Porch Planters

The last two years I have planted flowers on the railing on my back porch. In Chicago, you have to find a little green wherever you can. Here's what I did the last two years--can't wait to see what I come up with for this spring! Even though it's currently 80 degrees in Chicago, I'm not convinced we haven't seen the last of the frost...




Now just need to decide what to do this year! :D

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