February 28, 2014

Yearly Resolution: Woodworking, Building a Bench

We throw lots of parties in our apartment, and seating is always an issue.  We had nearly two dozen people at our New Year's party in our one bedroom apartment.  To help (just a little) with more seating in the apartment, I decided to build a low bench with nice midcentury styling.  

I found tapered legs online so I wouldn't even have to build legs!  So simple.  I bought a simple board, stained it to match my teak furniture in the apartment, and tossed the legs on.  I also sewed a cushion so it will be a bit more comfortable for our guests to enjoy.  I also designed it so that it was the perfect height for under our front windows.  So the bench can sit underneath them and doesn't have to move every time we want to open or close the windows!

February 25, 2014

Yearly Resolutions: Woodworking, Building a Headboard

After such a sweet year working with cakes, I tried my hand at something a bit more challenging (especially in an apartment!)

2013- Woodworking (building small pieces)

This might have been the hardest one so far to work on.  I live in a rented apartment, so there isn't much room for changes or power tools.  Though in this year alone, I was able to make a new headboard, build a bench, refinish a coffee table, and stained new bedside tables.  

The new headboard was a birthday gift to my husband, though it wasn't much of a surprise.  We were moving a week after his birthday, and I didn't want to have to move the old headboard with us.  Our apartment is mostly mid-century in decoration because of grandparent hand-me-downs and my taste in decor.  Though my husband's design taste is what I like to call "Western Chic."  He loves the rugged elements of the West, but doesn't want to see spurs, cowboy boots, and animal hides laying around.  I found this simple headboard design on Pinterest.  

All you have to do is take a couple of wood boards, stain them, and drill them into your wall.  Well... that's a problem for us.  Living in a rental, I can't drill into the wall.  So I took another two pieces of wood and drilled those perpendicular to the four front boards.  My husband picked out a rugged stain, and we bought extra so one day I could build and stain new nightstands to match.

February 20, 2014

Yearly Resolutions: Cake Decorating

Last post, I talked about my 2011 resolution to learn painting.  In 2012, I moved onto cake decorating!

After a few years of feeling unfulfilled at my job, I was looking for something to occupy my free time that I love to do.  A friend of my recommended that I bake.  I've always loved to bake, but didn't do it that often.  I don't need all those calories sitting around on my counter!  

So I opened up a little side business to make cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts (usually pies that my husband requests) for friends.  Fondant is a huge design element in fancy cakes that I had zero experience with.   

I started simple... with a Doctor Who cake.  Ok.  Maybe not so simple.   

Though, now I can make cakes with fondant or buttercream that look unique and gorgeous.   The highlight of this past year was making the birthday cake for my husband's grandmother's 100 birthday celebration!   

My interest in baking also gave me the idea to put together a cookbook with all of my favorite recipes.  Now I have all of the best recipes, even a few that I've created from scratch myself, in one convenient place.  And in 2014, I have two weddings along with numerous birthdays and other celebrations!

Next up: I'll chat about my 2013 resolution... Woodworking!  That was a tough year.

February 17, 2014

Yearly Resolutions: Learning to Paint

I don't like New Year's resolutions.  I know, me and millions of other people.  But I am always craving to learn something new.  So each year, I try to learn how to do something that I had minimal knowledge of before.  They don't always start at the beginning of the year, so there is some overlap on projects.  And of course I'm still using some of my new talents today!  I've only been doing it for a few years, essentially since I left college.  I don't know if I had anything in mind in 2010... moving to a new state maybe?

2011- Painting (furniture and walls)

My big projects for painting included painting all of our mismatch bedroom furniture and painting a striped accent wall in the apartment.  

All of our bedroom furniture had been hand-me-downs and none of the pieces were from the same set.  Even our nightstand tables didn't match... one isn't even an nightstand.  I sanded, painted, and poly'ed all four pieces so they'd look similar.  They looked pretty good for a few years, though I have been slowly swapping them out for better pieces.

Our old apartment had a gigantic wall that was pretty bare since it was a rental.  Luckily, I got the ok from the landlord to paint one of the walls, as long as I painted it back when we moved out.  (Surprisingly not as hard as I thought it would be.)   

I painted the wall with a flat paint in burgundy.  After it dried, I taped stripes on the wall in a varying pattern.  I didn't like it when all of the stripes on accent walls were the same distance from one another.  I wanted something more interesting!  So I did large and small stripes.   

Once I was taped, I painted the same burgundy color in a semi-gloss paint on the wall.  After a few coats on both layers, I took off the tape and had a beautiful striped wall.  Since the paint was so dark, I thought we'd have trouble painting over it, but it only took one layer of base and one layer of paint to completely cover!

Next up: My 2012 resolution is to learn cake decorating!

February 14, 2014

Covering Unsightly Planters

I have a plant addiction.  If I had better lighting in my apartment, I think that every surface would be covered in plants.  

Though, with all the plants I have, none of the planters match.  I searched high and low for an idea on how to make my mini garden look more cohesive.   

Most of the responses I found online said I should spray paint them.  Two problems there:  You can't buy spray paint in Chicago and there are already plants in my planters!  I don't think they'd like a coating of paint.  I next thought about wrapping them in fabric.  Since my planters are not simple shapes, then covering them in fabric would just lead to lots of puckering and heartache.  Then I thought about using twine.  It would add more rustic elements into our home too!  

I bought jute twine and used strong craft glue to put it on.  Unfortunately it takes a lot of time to wrap twine around a planter.  This would have been much easier if the planter was empty.  But the end result is great!  I covered three planters like this, though one of them cracked about a month later so I had to toss it out.  

February 11, 2014

Designing a Cookbook

One of my bigger projects of last year was working on my own personal cookbook.  I have lots of baking recipes that are my favorites, but they were bookmarked and saved in random places with an assortments of notes written all over.  So in an effort to organize it all, I put it together as a cookbook that I could enjoy, as well as my family and friends.   

All of the photos came from previous projects that I had worked on.  You can easily have your book printed many places online, but the place I choose was Photobook America.  They had great layouts, so I didn't have to do all the design work myself and even had a few already geared towards cookbooks.  I had it printed like a paperback, which made it look a lot nicer than a normal photobook.  I have gotten so much use out of my new cookbook!  I even gave out a few as gifts for the holidays!