Scotch Corner – Faux Fireplace

This was a little project inspired by Nick Offerman’s Christmas video, intended to warm up a cold office corner at work.

I started with Ana White’s beloved tutorial and adjusted to get the look I wanted. Following Ana’s cutting guide I had the guy at the hardware store cut all the piece for me when I bought them.

Shopping/equipment List: 

1 – 1×12 @ 8 feet long
1 – 1×10 @ 6 feet long
1 – 1×8 @ 6 feet long
1 – 1×6 @ 10 feet long
1 – 1×4 @ 4 feet long
3 – 1×3 @ 8 feet long

1 1/4 inch finish nails
2 inch finish nails
1 48″ square of plywood – This is an addition I made to Ana’s list to create the hearth.
White and black acrylic paint
Small can of dark wood stain
paint roller
paint tray or plate
painters tape
feather
sponge
wet rag
nail gun (you can use a hammer but this was way faster!)
I skipped the molding pieces Ana used for a harder look.
img_3623

Cut List:

1 – 1×12 @ 48″
2 – 1×10 @ 32 3/4″
2 – 1×6 @ 44″
4 – 1×3 @ 44″
1 – 1×4 @ 33 1/4″
1 – 1×3 @ 33 1/4″
1 – 1×8 @ 51″
4 – 1×6 @ 3/4″
2 – 1×6 @ 7″

I added a 34″ square cut from a 48″ piece of plywood which left me with a perfect 14″x 48″ remanent I used for the bottom to make more of a hearth.

 

Assembly

Following the Ana White instructions we just started nailing the pieces together. It went very fast from there. Nailing the back and bottom on it was important to measure where the 1×2 were behind it to make sure we centered the nails on them to avoid splitting or having the nails show through.

img_3627

we also took the risk on the bottom smaller pieces and nailed rather than gluing them and did not have any issues with splitting.

If your boards are bowed, you may want to grab some screws to press the board in flat, as the nails will not be strong enough for that.

Painting

This was the fun part!

I started with two coats of of a very dark brown stain. It took less than 5oz of stain for both coats. I used a cheap bristled stain brush.

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I wish I had more photos for the marble part but I will walk you through my steps. I watched several tutorials and then went with the following process:

First I prepared the area. Once the stain was dry I used painters tape to tape news paper around the edges and made sure my plywood was clean of dust and such.

For each of the paint mixing steps I started with white and added black little by little until I got the shades of gray I was looking for.

I started painting by adding just a couple drops of black to a good bit of white and using a foam roller to do a base coat all over the back and base. I did the few drops of black because I wanted the base color to be just a tad on the grey side. If you like the bright white you can skip that step.

Next I mixed my darkest grey – about 2/3 white and 1/3 black – and used the feather to draw the veins. I used the feather because it give the lines a lighter natural look than a paint brush. It is important your veins all move in the same general direction as this is how real marble would form. if you look I my photo you can see I went from top Left to bottom right generally.

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next I mixed a slightly lighter gray – maybe 1/4 or less black and 3/4 white. I got the sponge wet to help thin the paint and lightly sponged around the outsides of the veins. If it got too thick, I would use the wet rag and lightly dab or work in circular motions to lighten and add wispiness to the sponge paint.

The sponge part was the hardest part and I worked in layers, sponging on the original white base coat layer and then more of the lighter gray until I got the look I wanted.

Logs

For the logs I tried to follow this tutorial.

I used a box cutter and made random cuts in cardboard and then rolled the cardboard several times in both directions to add some wear and tear. I then took them outside and spray painted them with some leftover dark metallic spray paint, letting some of the brown show through to look like a smolder. I then taped two together and filled them with orange halloween lights. Finally, I used a couple remnants of wood from the cut pieces to prop them up in the hearth.

If I had thought of this earlier, I would have cut a notch for the light cord in the center back of my plywood before connecting it to the rest of the fireplace.

Finishing Touches

Once dry, I carried the fireplace upstairs and adorned it with some scotch glasses and a gold side table from goodwill and found a nice leather chair and some books from around other parts of the office to make it cozy.

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I really like the way it turned out. Skipping the moulding gave it that masculine Nick Offerman look and the lights, however costume-y actually make it feel warmer! I am on the lookout for something that will crackly and flicker a bit more but for now I think this is pretty good!

Happy Crafting!

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A Super First Birthday

I have been dying to host a Super Hero themed birthday, so when my favorite little one turned one I jumped on the opportunity!

I started with the decorations. We have a chalk wall in the dinning room so I decided to show off some of Emerson’s big milestones:

fullsizerenderI have a little ways to go but I plan to fill in the diamond with favotire things to do, and in the section under teeth I write down favorite foods. It is the perfect focal poit to base the rest of the decorations around and will doubled as a photo backdrop!

Next my sister revisited the bra and pantie cookie tutorial to make some super cookies! She bought these comic thought bubble cookie cutters and then mixed up the frosting in primary colors. In the next round I think we will try more with contrasting outlines and some different polka dot techniques for more variety.

img_3231They turned out pretty cool looking and were delicious!

For the rest of dessert we decided to go with a home made Ice Cream Cake  but instead of chocolate we went with this Funfetti Cake from scratch recipe and then covered the whole thing in whipped cream that we died a bright comic blue to stay with the color theme. It was such a delicious combination I forgot to take a picture!

Finally I found some free printables on pinterest (and these) and use them to make a cute birthday banner, post comic thought bubbles around the house and make cute little cupcake toppers. Because we went with cake we just used the toppers for home made mini corn dogs instead that were a huge hit! We taped the Thank you banners to cellophane bags with the cookies in them for guests to take home as little thank you gifts.

Overall I was quite pleased with the outcome and I think the guests enjoyed it too!

Scrabble Cookies

This is less of a tutorial and more of an add on (courtesy of my sister) to the Bra and Pantie Cookies post from a while back.

Scrabble cookies

 

1. Naturally, we start with the basic sugar cookie recipe. When you roll them out, instead of using a cookie cutter, use a pizza roller, or knife to cut the dough into 120 1″ squares,  bake and let cool. I suggest doing this a day before decorating.

2. For the icing, you will need to make stiff meringue icing, adding water and sugar to meringue powder until it reaches a stiff consistency that you can pipe through a small round tip. Make sure to taste it first, you will know quickly if you have not added enough sugar. Separate into three bowls and dye one bowl black, cover and move to the side.  For the second batch you will pick your outline color. my sister decided to outline some cookies in pink to write me a message and some in white, but you can use whatever color you like!

Happy Birthday cookies

3. Make the same icing recipe, but with more water so that it will spread nicely between the outlines, and set aside. This is the background color so it is best left white.

4. Put the white thick outline frosting in a piping bag with a small round nozzle and carefully pipe around the edge of each cookie. This can be seen in the Bra and Panties tutorial. Let dry completely.

5. Once dry, use a larger round piping nozzle to pipe the softer icing into the middle. You may want a knife to help spread it to the edges so it completely fills in between the outline.  Let dry completely.

6. Now we add the letters and values. Use the picture below to carefully hand pipe each letter and number value. I suggest using the small round piping nozzle so you can get fine detail and more easily fix/hide shaky hands or mistakes. Let the black dry completely.

scrabble tiles

 

7. This step is optional. If you decided to make a colored outline, carefully outline each tile you want. My sister outlined my name and a “Happy Birthday” message, outlining the blanks between words and adding a pink heart in the center as well. This is where you can get creative though and do whatever you like! (or nothing if you prefer more authentic scrabble cookies).

full set of scrabble cookies

Et Voila! The best part is sugar cookies are better with age, especially if you are like me and eat them for breakfast dipped in your coffee. They also turn whatever area they are displayed in, into an ongoing scrabble game! Enjoy!

coffee and cookies

Fling Before the Ring – Shirt Painting Tutorial

Going through all my old craft supplies in an effort to downsize and I found a huge collection of fabric paint!

Fabric paint and acrylic paint mixed with acrylic medium are around $1-$3 each, so it is really easy to amass a large stash quickly and I couldn’t bear throwing them away. It is a rule in my house that if you don’t use it (or know you have it) for over a year – out it goes! Being the hoarder that I am, I decided to paint shirts for a bachelorette party and hold onto the paint a little while longer. 

Fabric PaintWhat you need:

  • Fabric Paint (or Acrylic paint with Acrylic medium)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • cardboard or card stock
  • paper plate
  • Paint brushes (I use cheap $1 isle brushes, nothing fancy)

Note: If you use acrylic without the medium mixed in the paint will be very hard and stiffen the fabric. No bueno.

supplies

 

1. Make sure to put paper down or to work on a surface you don’t mind getting paint on. 

2. Lay your shirt out with a stiff piece of cardboard or card stock under the painting surface to prevent paint from bleeding to the other side.

3. Get out your pencil and ruler and lightly draw your design.

Note: It is very hard to get the paint to do clean fine lines on softer cottons, so remember to keep the designs bold.  Don’t draw the pencil too dark because it can take a few washes to come out of the fabric (found that out the hard way). You can see below how even with lettering, I made sure to keep the strokes nice and wide.

Maid of Honor

4. This is where the paint medium comes it really handy. When you pour your paint out onto the paper plate, give it plenty of room to spread out and mix with medium. I suggest going with a 1/4 to 1/2 medium to paint ratio. The medium helps thin the paint so you can smooth out your lines and keep the paint a uniform thickness across the fabric, so if you are struggling, add more medium. For some of my older fabric paints that were a little dry and stiff i added paint medium just to get the consistency. For these I went with a lighter ratio, but it is really up to you to find a consistency you like to work with. Also, the paint dries very quickly, so I suggest working with only one color at a time.

Bride

5. To set the paint, you have to steam iron it once it is dry to the touch. I left the paper in between the layers and placed a piece of pressing cloth on top to protect the iron in case the paint was still a little wet. Put the iron on the hottest setting and make sure it has plenty of water in it so you can just steam away! Since you have to iron anyway I added a few iron on gems to this one for a little extra bling. 

Fling Before the Ring

For the Maids of honor I ended up following a few T-shirt refashion tutorials on Pinterest.  I dyed these shirts pink before starting with rit dye. It is a great way to add color cheaply. I really like this ombre tutorial as well, I didn’t find it until after this project so I might have to try it next time. 

Shirt refashion

This project is so easy and perfect for a rainy day or a quick gift. It would be a great party craft for middle school or high school kids as well.  Next I think I will make some hand painted outdoor cushions. I think painting on duck canvas will be a bit easier than cotton.

I hope I have inspired you to dig through your old supplies and get a little crafty!

 

 

Dim Sum at Home

I am nostalgic for dim sum.  It reminds me of being young and taking the train into San Francisco’s China Town for sticky rice and dozens of strange looking dumplings filled with delectable treasure. The smell brings back memories of large lazy susan’s, matriarchs flagging down carts filled with pretty little stacked bamboo steam boxes and rolling myself out of the restaurant at the end, stuffed so full and wishing I could have stayed longer.

Unfortunately, where I live now, I have to drive at least a half an hour for good dim sum and finding a good dim sum brunch partner has been near impossible. While I found some great recipes online, not many had good photos, advice for freezing, folding or wraper use. So here, in one place, are a bunch of pictures with two intro recipes for Siu Mai and Pork Wontons as well as the perfect dipping sauce, folding options and freezing instructions.

ready to eat

Siu Mai

Ingredients:

  • 3 dried Chinese black or Shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 oz peeled deveined shrimp (I used medium, feel free to use large)
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • ¾ cup ground pork
  • 1 TB oyster or fish sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry if you must)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • about 20 wonton wrappers (you are supposed to use round gyoza wrappers, but I liked the flared look of the squares) You can find these in the frozen section of most grocery stores or your local Asian market.

peeling wrappers

Directions:

  1. If you are using frozen wrappers, move them from the freezer to the refrigerator. If you forget this step and need them to thaw more quickly, go ahead and thaw on the counter, just make sure to leave them sealed so they don’t dry out.
  2. Soften the mushrooms by soaking in hot water for approximately 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess water.
  3. Soak the shrimp in lightly salted, warm water for 5 minutes and pat dry.
  4. Mince mushrooms, shrimp and green onions.
  5. Add minced ingredients to the ginger and pork and mix thoroughly.
  6. Shu mai fillingRefrigerate for at least an hour to let flavors blend. I like to even leave over night.
  7. Place unused wonton wrappers under a damp cloth to keep them moist. (I don’t have a photo of this, but I just wet a paper towel and drape over the top, just make sure you squeeze out any excess water so it doesn’t make them soggy).
  8. Wet edges of wrapper and place 3 tsp of filling in the center.
  9. moisten wrappersfilling amount 2Gather up the edges and gently fold so that the wrapper forms a basket around the filling with the top part of the filling exposed.
  10. I start by folding in the sides and the pleating the corners aroundstep one shu mai foldshu mai folded
  11. Steam for 5-10 minutes until filling is cooked, or place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to freeze (more on freezing below).
  12. finished shu maiMakes about 20-25 dumplings.

Wontons with Pork and Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb ground or chopped pork (the big difference is texture)
  • ½ lb shelled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 3-5 water chestnuts (I used the canned variety from the regular grocery store and they are small so I use more)
  • 1tsp grated ginger, I use a micro plane (if you like ginger you should consider adding a bit more)
  • 1 TB oyster or fish sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 TB Chinese rice wine or rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • a few drops sesame oil
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • Wonton wrappers (30-40 ish)

Directions:

  1. Like I said in the Siu Mai recipe, If you are using frozen wrappers, move them from the freezer to the refrigerator. If you forget this step and need them to thaw more quickly, go ahead and thaw on the counter, just make sure to leave them sealed so they don’t dry out.
  2. Finely chop shrimp, pork, water chestnut and ginger.
  3. Combine all filling ingredients (ie everything except the wonton wrappers)
  4. wonton fillingAs with the Siu Mai recipe, refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
  5. Place unused wonton wrappers under a damp cloth to keep them moist. (I don’t have a photo of this, but I just wet a paper towel and drape over the top, just make sure you squeeze out any excess water so it doesn’t make them soggy).
  6. filling amountWet the edges of the wrapper in use and then place a heaping tsp of filling in the center of the wrapper. (this one was a bit exaggerated so you could see how I wet them).
  7. There are several folding options I tried (and plenty more if you feel like spending some time on the web):

Bring edges together and twist to seal.
pleat one side 3 times from the left and three from the right and press into flat side to create a curved look (pictured ish, it takes practice, I’m not perfect!)

folded wontons8. Cook right away or freeze (directions below).

  • You can boil wontons (5 – 8 minutes) or fry them in a pan with a little oil (about 2 minutes) or steam them (5-8 minutes).
  • I suggest frying and then adding a little steam at the end for a mix. I am not the best at wrapping them and sometimes they tear which makes boiling my least favorite option, however they do taste wonderful boiled.

Freezing for Later

ready for freezing

This step is important to me because I like to make a ton and eat them for breakfast, snack, lunch, whatever for days and days after and if you do it right they can hang out in the freezer for a month or so. This also makes all the work of folding those little buggers worth it.

The most important thing to remember is DO NOT COOK BEFORE FREEZING.
Did you read that? FREEZE RAW.
It is best to lay them all out on a lined cooking sheet uncovered first and place in the freezer for 30min to an hour.  This gets them set enough for a zip lock bag.
Then, place as many as you like into FREEZER Zip Lock bags (the non-freezer kind don’t protect them from burn very well so if you use those they will not last nearly as long in the freezer).
When you take them out, don’t thaw, just put right in the steamer or boiling water. YUM!

Dipping Sauce

dipping sauce

We can’t get this far without something to dip our dim sum in!

You could go with just soy, or something simple, but this little recipe is real perfection.

Ingredients:

  • 2tbs Soy Sauce
  • 2tbs Chinese Rice Wine or Rice Vinegar
  • 1tbs Red Chilly Oil (from the Asian section at the regular super market)
  • Juice of 1/4 to 1/2 of a lemon (this is really to taste, I like to use less but my husband loves more so what can I say?)
  • ground white or black pepper to taste

Directions:

Whisk together and serve!

The big deal about this recipe is to play with the amounts. I rarely measure but rather start small and taste with my fingers until it gets to my liking. You may like it heavier on the vinegar like I do, heavier on the citrus like my husband or light on the heat (more group friendly for parties) it is totally up to you!

I hope that these beginner recipes have give you the confidence to enjoy dim sum at home. I welcome any additional questions and hope to bring you some more advanced recipes in the near future!

Happy eating.

Edible Body Lotion

Oook, the title is a bit misleading. You do not actually want to eat this lotion, BUT it is all natural and safe in case the delectable cinnamon cocoa smell entices your infant to take a lick.  It is hydrating for skin and hair, goes on a bit oily but dries beautifully. The mica adds a little glow too, which I adore.

Home made lotionWhat you need:

1/2c Cocoa butter

1/2c Shea butter

1/2c Coconut butter

1/4c Almond oil

1/4c Cinnamon infused Almond Oil*

Mica Powder to your liking (or not at all. this is just for shimmer)

Jars with air tight lids to store it in

*To infuse just let the oil sit with a few cinnamon sticks for at least a week before making the lotion.

**For a stronger sent you could also infuse the whole 1/2c or skip the infusion and  add 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil to the mix.

Infused Almond Oil

Directions:

1. Set up a double boiler on your stove and keep at a simmer.

2. Add Cocoa, Shea, Coconut and the non-infused Almond oil to the bowl.

3. Stir constantly until combined.

4. Remove from heat and let sit on the counter until it returns to room temperature.

5. Whisk in essential oils or infused oil.

Whipped lotion

6. Whisk in mica. START SMALL. A little goes a long way and you can always add more. I suggest testing it on your skin to see how much is shimmers as it drys on your skin before adding more.

Mica

7. Place in jars. I thought I was being clever and I used a pastry piping bag, but as there are not additives in this to keep the texture consistent, it becomes almost liquid when it gets too warm and solid when it gets too cold. Piping it falls under the too warm category and its a bit messy, plus you loose some of your “whip.”

piping lotion

8. Again, because it is temperature sensitive, I suggest keeping it in a consistently 65 degree-ish location. Mine is in the bathroom so its loose after showers and in the summer but hard in the winter, but still lovely to use.

These make amazing gifts – especially for hostess or party favors – Enjoy!

P.S.

These tutorials I found online for salt bath/foot soaks, lip and body scrubs go great with this lotion for gifts or if you just feel like pampering yourself. And for more awesome inspiration you can always check out my Pinterest page.

Pintastic Super Bowl Party

Sadly, the Broncos were massacred and our house of orange and blue turned to heavy drinking quickly, but I like to think the following recipes and printables kept spirits a little higher. I will definitely be turning these into party staples especially as we get closer to March Madness.

It all started when I came across this colored caramel corn recipe. I did not use koolaid, I simply mixed 15 drops of food coloring in with the baking soda on the side before mixing the soda into the caramel corn. Mixing the popcorn in the oven after it is coated is ESSENTIAL. I forgot about it and it was chewy. In hindsight, if you forget to stir just turn them into popcorn balls, don’t try and serve it loose.

The first caramel corn recipe is pretty, but not the best flavor, a little bland.  I mixed my blue caramel corn with the best caramel corn recipe ever (the darker corn pictured). This recipe has brown sugar instead of white and molasses which makes it a very dark caramel that is impossible to dye, but tastes oh so perfect.

mixed caramel corn

If there is a giant bowl of caramel corn there has to be a way for people to carry personal servings around and accidentally throw in the air when the Broncos score. Enter these perfect cone printable! Just roll and close with washi or clear tape and there you go. I printed them on blue and orange paper for the broncos, but you could do this with any team colors or no color at all.  The link also has a printable for cup labels. I used these for my party but found that people were not that into using them so I say don’t bother with that one.

http://snapcreativity.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/printable_party_superbowl.pdf

 

Another fun food dying project that was perfect for orange and blue (but again works with any color) were these swirled sugar cookies. I made the dough a few days in advance and just left them in the freezer until the day of. This is a great time saver for when you know you have a ton to do the day of and just want to throw them in the oven. Plus you still get the house smelling like cookies when everyone arrives.swirl cookies

I wanted to make wings because they are the quintessential football food, but I really don’t like the process so I made this buffalo dip instead. It has shredded chicken, franks, cream cheese and sour cream in it and everyone that ate it couldn’t stop talking about it. Some people even added it to their salad. YUM!

rolling out crackersThe dip suggests using carrots, celery and ritz, but instead of ritz crackers I decided to make my own jalapeno Cheeze-its.

I doubled this recipe and added 3 roasted jalapenos chopped up into tiny pieces. For extra fun I used a round cookie cutter twice on each piece to make them the shape of footballs and instead of a toothpick to poke air holes, I used a three prong fork so it was more like laces.  

My big note on the crackers is that I had to bake them longer than the recipe called for and after they cooled I baked them again to make sure they were nice and crispy. Two days later, the leftovers are stale so I am going to bake them again and see if I can get another round of crisp out of them. Another plus, their orange for the UNITED IN ORANGE theme!

cracker footballs

For decorations I found this blog and went all out with their free printables.  I used the water bottle labels around  blue dixie cups and scattered the other around the living room and food. Then I took this football field buffet table idea and spun it with butcher paper and paint pens. I made one end zone the vintage Broncos end zone and the other a more modern version with the current logo.

football table cover

 

Broncos Flags

vintage broncosHAPPY PARTYING! (and pinning)