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Super Easy Festive fall wreath
This festive wreath may have been quite possibly the easiest door decoration I have ever done... The only two easier things I can think of would be to do nothing, or to buy a pre-made wreath...but where's the fun in that?

Some of you may remember my springtime grapevine wreath that made it's illustrious debut last year...well guess what? I have reused the same wreath. Truth be told, I actually left the springtime wreath up all summer, despite good intentions of changing it. Oh well, that's how it goes sometimes. In my defense, I did replace a few of the paper flowers so that it was a bit more "summery" but I can easily admit that I could have done much better.

So on with the gritty details. The bf and I grew corn in our garden again this year, and so after we had harvested and ripped out all the stalks, I had the brilliant (and slightly messy) idea to use the tops as part of a wreath!

I have seen whole wreaths made out of these little furry corn bits (technically they are the pollen producing flowers on the corn stalk, also called tassels), but that was far too ambitious for my style, albeit quite nice looking.

So I just cut off a bit of the nicer shaped ones and bunched them together. I recommend doing this over newspaper or outside, since if they are as dry as mine, they will likely shed all over your carpet..or sofa...or wherever you happen to be putting them together.

As an aside, if you do not have corn tassels, I have seen a similar product, called raffia, which I think could be used for this purpose, available for sale at craft stores, I haven't checked but it is likely a synthetic product and so you can probably skip the shellacking step. You could also use ornamental grass, or wheat, if you have that easily available.

Now I wanted something cute to tie my corn tassels together. Originally I was thinking some festive orange ribbon, and you can certainly go that route--I think it would look quite cute--but I didn't feel like going to the store to buy ribbon...and I happened to have some "gold" red heart yarn left over from my giraffe amigurimi project, so I decided to make a crochet ribbon.

If you've never crocheted a day in your life you can still make this ribbon...that's how easy it is. (Alternatively if you are a knitter, you can just knit yourself a ribbon instead)

A few tips for the newbie crochet-artist, a category into which I still feel that I fall...

1. YouTube is your best friend for learning new stitches. (Or trying to remember a stitch you previously learned but forgot)

2. Google abbreviations in patterns that you don't understand...the interwebs knows much more than you do (less in some cases, i'm sure...). Often googling the abbreviation will also bring you to a how-to video.

3. As with everything, it's okay to make mistakes, you can always pull out your stitches if the error bothers you, or leave it in, if like me, you just don't care.



PictureYou will need, red-heart gold yarn and a size 'H' crochet hook.
Now, back to the ribbon. There are many ways to do this, and I do not claim that mine is the best by any means...this is just what I did, feel free to follow rule #2 and google crochet ribbon to find better (or different) instructions.


Start with a slip knot. Basically you make a loop with your yarn of choice and twist it so that it lays over the yarn tail, then you pull the yarn tail through the loop until the loop titghtens into a knot. Try not to use too much length to do this, or you will end up with a gigantic loop to start. You ideally only want enough of a loop to easily fit your hook.


The size hook you use doesn't really matter, a bigger hook makes bigger stitches and vice versa. So take your hook of choice (I think I was using a size "H) and slip it into your slip knot loop. Next hold your yarn length taut between your fingers and hook the yarn. Pull the yarn through the loop to make your first chain. Your hook will now be in the newly made loop.

PictureMake a long chain...I didn't count, just stopped when it felt long enough to tie a bow.






Repeat this process until you are happy with the length. In general, try to keep your chain straight by holding it in one hand while working the chains with your other hand. It is okay if you flip the chain a bit, it will add character! (Plus ribbons are meant to be curly lol) 



If you make a mistake, you can pull the chains out pretty easily...or like me you can choose to live with it. 


I think it turned out okay; although I didn't count my stitches, so I am not really sure how many chains I added before stopping. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you have enough length to tie a bow and have a long enough tail in the bow. 

PicturePart 1 of the single crochet: Through the stitch, yarn over, pull back through the stitch...





Once you are happy with the length of your chain, make a single crochet into the loop next to your hook (not the chain in which your hook is currently sitting). 



To single crochet, take the hook and fit it through the second stitch from the end of the chain. Place the length of yarn over the hook and pull the hook back through the stitch. Yarn over again and pull the third loop of yarn through the first two loops. 


As an aside, you can always make a double crochet (or half-double crochet) if you want a slightly wider ribbon. 

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Part 2 of single crochet, yarn over and pull through first two loops.

Now, tie your home-made (or store bought) ribbon around your corn tassels (or whatever you have decided to use) and  make a bow. Again, I cannot emphasize enough that you should do this outside...where you do not make such a mess of your carpet. 


To prevent shedding while on the wreath, I decided to briefly shellack the corn tassels. It seems to have worked pretty well.

But please note that shellack is highly flammable and may not be a good solution for everyone. I just happened to have some lying around for various items in my nursery project.

 I wouldn't doubt that there is a better product to use that would keep your corn tassels in the shape that you desire, and help prevent shedding...maybe starch? If anyone tries anything else, let me know! For now this seems to have worked pretty well. 

Despite the labeling, I left my corn tassels to dry for several days before attaching them to my wreath. 

Once you have put one single crochet into each stitch in your chain; turn the chain over and repeat the process for the other side of the chain.

You should end up on the first stitch that you made (the slip knot). 
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Ribbon complete!
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Follow the directions on the can and wear a mask!
For this wreath, I debated making some crochet pumpkins and hanging them from the wreath, I may still make some (fall's not over after all) but while I was wandering around the evil succubus den that is Wally-World, I stumbled across some cute little glitter pumpkins for $0.88 (for some reason I cannot find them on the website to link you...if someone finds them online, let me know and I will add the link). Anyway, you can't get much better than that..so I bought one with the intention of using it somehow in my holiday decor. Turns out this was the perfect project for the little guy... (mostly because I was looking to add something to my wreath and was too lazy to make anything!)

I attached the corn tassels and the little pumpkin to the grapevine wreath using some leftover floral wire (though you could also use fishing line or regular wire...or maybe glue (for the corn anyway, the pumpkin is too heavy). 

And viola! my lovely fall wreath is ready to hang!  I'd love to see your versions as well, feel free to share, and happy crafting fellow clumsy ones. 



 

Happy Halloween fellow blog-lovers! So unfortunately for you--I did not decide to write this blog entry until I had already begun with my design, however I think you should be able to follow along pretty easily from the description. Also...I have already changed my mind about the design several times, so we shall see if you end up with more detail. 

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I wanted the dress to have a sexy low cut back, since I was going for high drama up top--to do this, I sewed a piece of red fabric that was left-over from last year's costume (Poison Ivy's cape) on a slight angle to make a tube dress with a raw edge.
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I then used my floral wire cutters to chop the hook off of a wire coat hanger. I bent the hanger into a sort-of heart shape- and pinned and sewed it, badly, to the top of the tube-dress.
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okay--heres the start of the "evil" heart-shaped top. I did a super bad job of hiding the seam...so I'll have to see if I can fix that later. Luckily the top is flexible.
Next step to my Halloween costume, was to figure out how to make a hoop skirt. I am pretty cheap, and especially don't like spending a lot of money on a costume I will never wear again, (hence reusing Poison Ivy's cape) so I decided to make a hoop skirt using chicken wire and an old full sized fitted sheet I had from a smaller mattress I no longer used (the sheet turned out to be a bit large, requiring some creative sewing, but it worked okay--perhaps a twin would be better if you are buying one). I ended up buying a roll of flexible hardware cloth aka chicken wire from Home Depot, but I do anticipate being able to use this again, since I only used about 1/4 of the roll.   
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To make a wire hoop skirt, I measured out the chicken wire around my waist and made a cone shape
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Connect the hem of the sheet to the cut "waist" of the skirt--pro, it makes a faux waistband!
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And the hoop skirt is complete!!
Firstly, to make the wire skirt- I fitted the chicken wire around my hips, where I wanted the skirt to sit, and cut the wire, on an angle, to make the bottom circle bigger than the circle around my waist.  You can bend the wire edges around one another to make a complete circle out of the cut piece of wire. Unfortunately, this technique was poorly done, and I ended up with a small triangular hole in my skirt. You can fix this by cutting a small piece of wire and bending it to fit in the whole...or you can be lazy like me and just drape the skirt to cover the hole. Once you have the circle together, bend the wire to form the desired shape. 
Here's where I need to advice a safety warning. I highly recommend draping some kind of soft material (think fleece?) around at least the waist of the wire skirt. This will help protect your poor skin from getting cut-up and bruised like mine did. Once you have done this, test to make sure the wire is not poking through the fabric of the skirt (this really started to cause pain after walking down to the party, dancing all night, and walking back). Now that you have protected yourself better than I did...
I draped the fitted sheet over the wire skirt and cut a hole in the sheet where it met the smaller waist circle of the hoop skirt (my cutting is never straight, and don't worry if your cut is too small or large, since we will fix that in a second). Next, pull the bottom fitted edge of the skirt through the inside of the wire skirt. You can adjust the length of the skirt by pulling more or less fabric through the waist. I recommend trying on the skirt to see how long it will be, and to make sure that the wire shape is correct (mine got a little lumpy looking and was a tad short in the front because I did not try it on before proceeding to the next step.)
When you are ready (happy with the length) hand stitch the raw cut edges to the fitted edge of the sheet to make a waistband. This is nice because it hides the seam. You can adjust the draping as desired as you go (although i really recommend trying it on before you sew it completely shut), I liked how this looked asymmetrical when I was done, but you can also drape it a bit more evenly, or cut excess fabric (just be careful not to cut too much). The benefit of the chicken wire is that the skirt can be molded a bit to make your ideal shape--also the sheet is a bit thin, so a thicker fabric may be preferable, but I liked how the fitted hem made the fabric drape (again, please at least be careful to check for raw wire edges and bend them or cut them so as to not hurt yourself!)
  
After trying on the skirt with the red dress, I decided to add a bit of tulle. So I used my conveniently round dining room table to make a hoop skirt (what I should have done with the chicken wire--thanks for the idea, Mom!). I didn't really feel like carefully cutting the tulle, so I cut it in half, layered the pieces, and trimmed the triangular edges to make a rounded skirt...the edges are a bit "raw," but I think it works okay. To make the waist, I simply cut a hole in the middle of the tulle. I then sewed the two pieces of fabric together at the waist.  I did not secure it to the hoop skirt, but doing so will help to keep it in place better. I am not sure how necessary this was in the end--so I guess do as you like. 

I made a little crown using playing cards that I had folded into halves and then securing them with duct tape. I don't necessarily recommend using the duct tape, since I didn't really like how obviously duct-tapey it looked. If you have  more time, I recommend trying some double sided tape placed inside the fold of the card, or else maybe some glue. I did not have time really, since I was doing this project the night of the Halloween Party I was attending...good call on my part, obviously.
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Tulle over the hoop skirt
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to make the crown, I folded playing cards in half--since I was planning on embellishing the dress with "hearts" cards anyway, I figured I may as well use the black cards for the crown. Waste not. Want not.
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For the points of the crown, i folded the card the same way i folded them for the circle part, and then i folded the tip into a point.
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I connected 7 of the folded playing cards by weaving one end inside the previous end and adjusting the size to fit my head. I then duct-taped them together at the seams. I also duct-taped the pointed cards to the middle of each seam...then I spray painted the whole thing gold.
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since I am not overly fond of all the duct-tape, I painted the ends with some sparkle nail polish...although I am still not sure it was such a good idea...I'd suggest using the duct tape on the inside of the crown, so as to not make the outside look so messy.
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Heart shaped scepter made from playing cards, duct tape and spray paint

I made a scepter to go with my costume by rolling playing cards and securing them with duct tape. The heart was made by folding playing cards and pinching them together at one end and curling them at the other with a little duct tape. I then sprayed the whole thing gold to match the crown. 

Now...on to the cape! (almost done!)

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Playing cards line the edges of the cape
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Cape was made with big draped sleeves and decorated with playing cards
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Spray painted paper roses sewn to the hem of the dress to make pick ups
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Close up of the playing cards that line he collar of the cape
To finish the costume, I made a cape from a large piece of satiny fabric that I bought at Walmart. I pinned the fabric around my chest where a button would be placed (if I felt like doing all that work). I also pinned the fabric to create sleeves that drape around the feet when not being used. I then draped the fabric where I had pinned it in the middle to make a sort of collar. I pinned playing cards to the back around the collar and then used the machine to sew all of the pinned places.

Last but not least, I added a few paper roses, for a bit of a fun finishing detail, to the bottom of the red dress.  (To make your own roses, see my tutorial here!) The roses helped to create pickups in strategic places, but if I hadn't already had some lying around, I doubt I would have gone to the effort. A couple of hand-stitches keeps them in place...and for a bit of extra fun, I spray painted them red (before attaching them to the dress, make sure they are dry!). 

 Probably it would have been a good idea to drape the sleeves of the cape a bit to hide the cut edge, and the collar is pretty uneven, with a messy stitch that shows where I sewed across the playing cards,, and the dress is not great...but I think the end result is sufficient for a Halloween costume.  For make up, I recommend pasty white powder and bright red lips (i tried to draw my lips in the shape of a heart and it didn't really work....but good idea I think!) So good luck with your own costumes and have a very Happy Halloween!!

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Voila! All Hail the Red Queen! lol
 
I've been meaning to share some of my recent greeting cards, which I have made for various folks and sundry holidays etc.
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Happy Easter! This little bunny card was made from thick colored paper cut into strips and covered in mod podge to adhere it to a piece of brown paper bag that I cut up. I then cut the bunny outline from a plain piece of letter paper and gave him a tail made from a balled up piece of cheese cloth. The flag was made by cutting little triangles from scrap paper and gluing a piece of hemp on top to serve as a string for the garland. I also added a piece of a paper heart-shaped doily that I cut up and painted. To be honest, I can't recall what the back of this card looks like (I think it's just brown paper with a short message)...so sorry!
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Welcome to our sisterhood! I made this sorority card for my favorite spring pearl '13 to welcome her home! It is made from a DSW bag that I stitched together with hemp. The heart on the front is hand painted, using a paper heart doily as a stencil, it is admittedly a bit sloppy (though made with love!). I traced the painted pattern with pen to clean it up a little bit. The Alpha Sigma Alpha is hand cut (obviously--it is a bit raw) card stock to which I stuck some tissue paper (I didn't like the orange color of the card stock). FYI the inside is opposite, so the top is black stripes and the bottom (where the message is pasted) is brown paper.
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Tis the season! Last year, I had a peacock themed christmas! Both of these cards are hand painted with a bit of ink outline. This one probably took the longest to make, and weighs twice as much from all the glitter paint...
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The glitter here is meant to be falling snow...also I've decided never to make snowflakes like this again..they're way hard for someone who's not that artistic...but they looked so easy!
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and finally, a card for a spring-time thank you. This one is hand drawn and painted, though it looks like it was made by an elementary schooler, i think it has a certain rustic charm, though maybe the butterflies are a bit much...
 
I was just reviewing my last few posts and thinking that I am very glad to have been able to share those beautiful flowers...especially considering that they are almost all dead...ha! Happily the gladiolus and sunflowers have begun to bloom, and the marigolds are still pretty resilient.
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I just love how happy sunflowers look!
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fresh picked cucumbers straight off the vine!
If you read my last post, you know that our little garden has been quite healthy, the only question is whether we got more yield from the zucchinis or the cucumbers! I've used cucumbers for salad frozen some in pieces (who knows how those will taste),, and tried to fry them (too much water and not enough flavor); but we've had so many, they go bad before I can give them away (though I did plenty of that too!) With that in mind, I began to consider some alternatives to using the cucumbers fresh. So today, I've included a recipe from my first experiment with pickling. I'd love to hear your ideas, especially since they're so many recipes out there and so many different ways to pickle! So with that, I present to you my very own 
Sweet and Salty Dilled Cucumbers!

My first attempt was inspired by a few recipes from AllRecipes.com and also from my trusty Old Sturbridge Village cookbook: A Taste of Sturbridge
Brine:
4 cups of white vinegar
4 cups of water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup of sea salt
2 tbs mustard seed
2 tbs dill weed**
3 cloves garlic, chopped
dash of  ground black pepper 

Try adding: 
Jalapenos (cut in circles or diced)
Clove of garlic (per jar, if you really want that garlic flavor)
Fresh baby dill sprigs (one per jar)--for extra zing
Onion, chopped (a healthy portion per jar)

as a side note: I may or may not have also added healthy shakes of the following spices (since they're secretly in almost everything I make, including sweets):
crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper

**Every recipe I looked at in my cookbooks and online said to use dill seed--not weed, which I did not realize until after I had already prepared the brine...and which likely led to the unusual flavor of these pickles.

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continually mix your brine as you bring it to a roiling boil.
 In the meantime, bring brine ingredients to a roiling boil. Pour the boiling brine over the cucumbers. I of course, did not have enough brine solution, or maybe my jars were too big, (make sure to check this ratio before proceeding, unless you're as carefree as I am!) and so I added a bit of water to each jar to have enough solution to cover all of the cucumbers. As a note, I did use hot water, but boiling a larger volume of brine would have been better for sterilization purposes...instead of risking bacterial contamination.  

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this is a good example of too many cucumbers in the pickle jar!
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chop cucumbers into spears
Rinse and cut cucumbers into spears (or whatever shape you prefer, mine were "thick cut" mostly because I hate chopping vegetables). Place cucumber spears into jars (try to distribute them evenly). 
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perhaps thick cut is a bit generous...
I then sealed the jars (self-sealing jars work best, to help pressurize the jar and keep it relatively sterile), rinsed the outsides, and placed them all in the refrigerator. Don't worry if you are not able to seal your jar, the refrigeration will do it for you! 
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ready to eat!
Wait a few days for your refrigerator pickles, and enjoy! (Note, the color and consistency of my brine were a bit...intimidating...so make sure to shake well periodically during refrigeration and prior to serving). These pickles have a very interesting flavor--sort of sweet and salty with a crisp dill finish...and the jars with jalapeno have an excellent heat that I quite enjoy. That being said, they don't really taste like pickles...which is why I named them sweet and salty dilled cucumbers. Additionally, I made a few jars with green beans and jalapenos...though I haven't tried them yet, I expect they taste pretty similarly (it is the same brine after all),
 
It's been quite a while since my last update...but I hope you've all been enjoying your summer! (I can't believe it's already august) We've gotten quite a lot of vegetables since my last update, and so I thought I'd share with you some recipes from my little garden over a few posts. 
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Our very first zucchini! It's a bit small, and it didn't quite ripen...but still! Ha!
The first recipe I tried was inspired by the sheer number of zucchini our little garden began to produce. The recipe calls for 3 cups of shredded zucchini, which ended up being about two medium sized or one large zucchini. Three cups, despite the recipe directions, made two cakes (one 9x13 and 1 bread-pan sized). I also found that the frosting made enough for the 9X13 (with a little left-over), depending on how heavy-handed you are.  The second time I made cake, I used glass pyrex dishes, which I like since they can be covered and used to store the cake. 
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It doesn't really look great going in or coming out of the oven, but trust me...it's delicious!
The original recipe comes from A Taste of Sturbridge, a lovely cookbook that is developed from Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum portraying life in New England in the 1830s. The museum is a really fun treat for families (if you happen to be visiting Massachusetts). I have also seen a lot of yummy zucchini recipes to try out on Pinterest lately, and you can find many other delicious recipes for fresh zucchini on AllRecipes as well. This recipe is not terribly healthy and can be modified for your tastes/ingredients, (for example, in one batch, I ran out of oil and substituted with particularly liquefied zucchini and a bit of melted butter) but it may not taste quite the same without all that addictive and delicious sugar.

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After we picked that first one, the zucchini kept coming...here are the two zucchini i ended up using in my first batch of cake, with some first tomatoes and green beans.
Ingredients 
  • Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups white sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (if desired)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

  • 3 cups grated zucchini
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All done! Now we just need frosting!
  • Frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract (if desired)
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Whip together cream cheese and butter before sweetening to taste with confectioners sugar



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease cake pans.
Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl. Add sugar; mix well. Add oil and zucchini. Mix well (I use my stand mixer, on low for a good five or ten minutes for each mixing step in this first section). It can get a bit messy, especially if you overfill your mixing bowl like I always do,, so if you don't have a lid, consider draping a paper towel over the bowl (just be careful to keep it away from the mixing blade!). If you're using a stand mixer, take the blade out of the mix occasionally to scrape large chunks of zucchini off--otherwise you may end up with chunks. 

In a separate bowl (if you're a good little baker--I try to be good about this, since distributing the chemicals from the baking powder and salt through out helps the dough to rise better, but honestly you could just dump them all in) combine flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon (if desired). If you've been an especially good little baker, you will have sifted your flour prior to this step...this helps the cake to rise---however, as I do not have a sifter, I usually just add my dry ingredients to an over-large bowl and then gently tap the side of the bowl with one hand while turning it slowly with the other, to mix the ingredients and slightly sift the flour.  Add the dry ingredients, slowly, to the wet ingredients while mixing. Mix well. The batter will be very liquidy, and you may want to add more flour, but i recommend avoiding this temptation. 
Add in chocolate and nuts (if desired)--it should be noted that most times when I make this cake, the chocolate tends to fall to the bottom of the bowl, the best way to counteract this (that I've found) is to mix the chocolate in by hand as I pour the batter into my baking pans of choice. I then also add a few chocolate pieces on top, to allow them to fall as the cake cooks. (Sometimes, if the chocolate is sinking really badly, I take the cake out mid-baking and add more chocolate!). I really only add nuts if the bf makes me! (he can be so healthy sometimes!) Your baking time will depend on your pan size and material. Glass pans (pyrex, etc.) bake more quickly than do the traditional aluminum-based ones, and larger cake pans take longer than smaller cake pans. Interestingly, the little bread pan you see above baked longer than the large 9x13 pyrex dish (likely because it is metal, and deeper than the glass dish--which has a larger surface area and so can heat quicker). The cake in the glass dish baked for 30 minutes, while the cake in the bread pan took about 45 minutes. 
Once you've put the cake in the oven, you can make your frosting. I usually pull out the cream cheese, set it on the counter, and melt the butter in the preheating oven while I am preparing the cake (if I have the foresight). Combine the cream cheese and butter, whip well. add vanilla (you can also try this recipe with lemon, or almond...both are delicious) and mix in confectioner's sugar to taste. If you are the good baker, you will sift the sugar to get rid of the clumps before mixing. I, still, don't have a sifter, so I just mix for over-long and get rid of lumps that way. If you're a bit heavy handed, you can add more cream cheese (to cut the sugary sweet flavor) or milk (if the frosting is too thick). I recommend mixing for a long time before adding milk, since this is a temptation that more than often leads to either too much sugar (trying to balance out the milk) or a very runny frosting, and since mixing well generally gets the right consistency. And that's is! When your cake comes out of the oven, let it rest for a little while (until it is cool to the touch) before frosting, unless you want your frosting to turn to icing on your too-hot cake....(it happens to me quite often, unfortunately). You could definitely eat this cake without frosting if you were looking to cut some calories, however my coworkers seemed to prefer the frosted version (ha!) Enjoy! and happy harvesting!
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Voila! Enjoy!
 

I cannot believe how beautiful the garden is looking...and how simple it has really been! (Especially when you consider the start!) We haven't had any veggies yet (though we did get a couple of strawberries!) and the flowers have been a bit sporadically haggard...but overall the yard looks better than ever! To gloat a bit more, I've decided to share some of my photos with you, I hope you enjoy!

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The front garden bed is still doing remarkably well, though I have been pulling grass out once a week (and it's still a bit untidy--oh well)
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Our tomatoes are looking fantastic! The early girl in the front has a little bunch of vine tomatoes growing, and this monster beefsteak is large and in charge. We also have tomatoes growing in a container--in CO, this is pretty exciting!
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We finally have some sunflowers budding in the little bed behind the veggie garden! They are almost as tall as the annual salvia already! The gladiolus bulbs are so strong, I can't wait to see them all flower, and if I've timed it correctly, maybe they'll flower alongside the sunflowers! (What luck!)
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Roses on the side of the house are my favorite to cut and place in a little vase on my kitchen table. They are plentiful enough that I don't feel guilty about cutting flowers, and they are just so pretty! (Especially since there's nothing else planted back there)
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I really can't believe how enormous the zucchini is!! We have at least four little zucchini growing, and the thing just keeps on blooming! It has seriously dwarfed the cantaloupe and watermelon planted nearby, but those little guys have flowers and so hopefully we'll get some fruit soon! In the meantime, I need to find a good zucchini bread recipe!
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The poppy is still surviving, with some new buds about to bloom..the marigolds have done very well, spreading only a little, and the Shasta daisy is bigger, but still flowerless
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Peppers galore! We'll soon be swimming in them from the looks of these healthy plants!
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I am so happy to see my roses in bloom! I transplanted this little guy at the end of the summer last year, and it's doing so well! I just love the hot pink color of the flowers beside the yellow marigold.
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The butterfly bush is blooming!!! I'll keep my camera ready for flutterbies!

I've been pleased at how very little we've had to do to get the garden in ship-shape! The bf has been dutifully watering every night, and I've been weeding about once a week (sometimes more often if it bothers me enough). Sometimes if I've let the weeds take over, I'll take a hoe and stir the dirt to make it easier to remove the weeds. All in all, definitely worth the minimal effort..and pretty soon, we'll be swimming in vegetables! I've just planted a few button bells in some of the empty places, so hopefully those sprout soon!

 

My my! What a long name for such a simple project! I was sick of looking at the plastic generic soap container that I have been refilling like a dutiful conservative lady...so I enhanced it a bit. I'm not sure I would use these colors again (it would be nice in metallics or in an antiqued color--maybe even just plain old white) but its a bit late now for such thoughts, I just used what I had on hand. So now after much delay and a bit of rambling, I present to you my DIY faux-milk glass Polluck-inspired hand soap dispenser!!! (I still think the name is too long)

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You will need: paint (your choice, I used regular craft paint), mod podge (or equivalent, for finishing coat), paint brushes (or paper towel, or cloth), hot glue gun (low temp glue is best, unless you don't mind burns) and of course your soap dispenser (cheapo generic variety with label peeled off)

For this simple project you will need: paint, brushes, paper towel (or cloth), mod podge, hot glue and your soap dispenser.

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Apply hot glue to bottle to make small dots
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Cover the entire bottle (mine could definitely be more symmetrical, but I find I don't care)

Using your glue gun, apply small blobs of glue to the dispenser, covering the entire surface. I recommend using low-temp hot glue (not that I had any), to spare your finger tips...oooor you could just avoid touching the hot glue (I am just incapable). If you only slightly depress your trigger, so that the glue releases very slowly, your dots will be more even, however you may end up with slight points from where you've released the trigger (or strings, which can be clipped later--unless you're a bit lazy, like I am, then you can just leave em be).

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Cover the bottle with paint of choice, use a paint brush to fill in gaps between dots

Once your glue dots have dried, cover the bottle in paint. I started with a brush, became impatient and used a paper towel to blot paint and cover the surface a bit quicker. I then touched up areas that I missed or where I chipped the paint (do be sure to let the paint dry between coats). I used a towel to blot on additional coats of colors, (purple and white) to achieve the speckled "Polluck" look.

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When happy with the paint, cover in mod podge to seal, using a paper towel to get better coverage.
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Don't be afraid of the mod podge! (But do try to avoid getting it in the dispenser top cracks--which will make the dispenser difficult to use)

After you are happy with the paint job, and it has dried completely, use mod podge to finish and help protect against future wear and tear. I used a paper towel and blobbed on a thick coat of mod podge to cover the entire bottle. Try to avoid getting glue in the cracks of the dispenser top, since it might make the dispenser difficult to use.

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Voila, the final result, in its home...this was so easy I might make more for different seasonal decor!

And that's it really! Once dry, the dispenser is ready to use! The mod podge will make it a bit more difficult to chip, and it can be rinsed in the sink to clean (I recommend not using very hot water, since you will risk melting the glue).

 

I've been wanting to share some lovely specimen from my garden....sooo here we go!

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Hard to believe this is natural lighting with no enhancements! I love the way this asiatic lilly looks beside the greens and the yellow pansy. The mulch is the perfect touch! (kudos bf) though, it looks like I need to start weeding again...
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I snapped this photo just before this columbine finished shedding its first-of-the-year flowers. Can you see the new little buds?
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This little pink poppy flower was quite a surprise, the others having been all orange, I'm glad I was able to get a quick pic of it before it fell off, even if the plant is a bit tipsy. I only hope it flowers long enough to share its beauty with the Shasta daisy that's growing next door...at least there are some violas and marigolds to keep it company!
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I had to enhance this butterfly bush a bit so you could see the bud starting to form...but it's there, I promise! And it quite good company with that happy little viola!
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I just love the way these colors look together--I just wish I could remember the name of the greens! (And the onion has seen better days, I suppose)
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This is my favorite, no sunflowers in the sunflower bed yet, but my little red flowers have sprung back to life and better yet, the bulbs are sprouting!!!
 
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A lovely DIY spring table arrangement using my DIY no-sew placemats, coasters, napkins and silver wear fasteners.
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They're washable!

Today I would like to share one of my more clever ideas (if I do say so myself). I made some lovely fabric placemats which can be very easily washed with a wet cloth and soap (or your favorite cleaning agent--tho I don't recommend bleach, since it will discolor your fabric), or by rinsing briefly under weakly flowing water (warning: water that is too hot or a high pressure will melt the mod podge and can cause spotting).

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For this project you will need a piece of fabric, a piece of cardstock, a magazine, scissors and mod podge

To begin this project you will need a few supplies (most of which I usually have on hand). If you are wondering, I got this nice floral patterned quarter and the cardstock from Walmart, but if you have a spare piece of fabric, that will work too.

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Cut the cardstock to your desired size. If you are more clever than I, you will consider measuring the length, and tracing a line with a ruler before cutting
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Line up the precut cardstock against the fabric (you can use spray adhesive to temporarily stick the pieces together, just make sure to use the wrong side of the fabric

I use fabric shears (danka dear mother), and regular craft scissors (don't ever cut paper with your fabric shears!). Measure out the desired width of your placemat (I recommend tracing with a ruler so that you will not have crooked edges like I do) and cut the cardstock. Use your measured cardstock to cut down the fat quarter, leaving an inch or so of fabric as a border (you can use more or less, or cover the whole piece of cardstock, depending on your tastes--this will be the back of the placemat.

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Place your magazine article between the cardstock and the fabric, use enough to cover the whole piece of cardstock
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Leave a border around the cardstock to make nice edges and place the cardstock, magazine side down on the wrong side of the fabric

I used pages from a magazine to add extra support to my placemat. I thought that the waxy pages might help to protect the paper from water damage. I am not sure that it actually works, but hey---it doesn't hurt! If your fabric is especially thin, you may want to use an extra piece of cardstock so that you cannot see the magazine through the fabric (or you could just skip this bit). If you've decided to proceed, use a paintbrush and some mod podge to stick the magazine to the cardstock. Then place the cardstock, magazine side down on the wrong side of the fabric. The excess mod podge on the magazine will adhere it to the fabric (don't worry if its not, we will be adding more mod podge later).

Cover the whole piece of cardstock with mod podge. Fold the edges of your fabric border around the cardstock; add more mod podge on top of the fabric. Try to smooth out any wrinkles with your fingers. You will notice that my raw edges left a few strings, but not to fear--if you've been careful and have trim neat edges, this won't be an issue, if not--try to push the strings into the edges of the border to hide them (you will need to do this before the glue dries). Allow the back of the placemat to dry before proceeding (otherwise you will get junk stuck to it).

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You can use a paper towel or a large brush to cover more area quicker.

Once your back is dry, cover the whole front of the placemat with mod podge. You can use a paper towel or a large brush to cover more area quicker.  Smooth out wrinkles with your fingers. Allow the whole mat to dry before attempting to use or handle it...and that's it. You're done! The placemat will be stiff, but flexible, with a water resistant, easy to clean surface (and they're awfully pretty!)

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When it's dry, your placemat will be stiff but flexible--and reversible
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Hopefully your mat isn't quite this uneven! Chalk it up to my poor cutting skills and my inability to remember to use a ruler!
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The back of my placemat is not as well done as it could be, (I got better with #2...but still failed to follow some of my own simple tips) but if you are a bit more patient, you may be able to smooth the wrinkles, trim the edges and not stick a bunch of crumbs to it before its dry
 
It's been a bit late in coming, but I wanted to share with you some of my new additions to my garden as well as to give you a little progress report on the veggies that I recently planted!
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As you can see, my bulbs have not been sprouting, so last week we went out and bought some flowers to brighten up the place a bit
With my seeds and bulbs having failed pretty miserably, I thought I'd stick with the transplanting method... So me and bf went out and picked up a few perrenials (columbine, poppy, lilly) and some annuals (pansy, marigold, viola) to put in some beds around the yard...but first it seemed like a good idea to clean things up a bit.
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Sadly I think we may have lost the daffodils to the heat or the weed killer, but luckily I managed to snap a photo of its only bloom...too bad it is surrounded by weeds and grass.
The bf bought some mulch to help stop the massive weed issue, so after waiting a few days (probably too long), the landlords dropped off some weed killer and bf sprayed down the yard. We then got to work weeding and transplanting. 
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In this bed, in the backyard, I found a place for the poppy beside the returning daisy and a few other small growers.
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Here we have a few pansies planted by some unknown returning perennial and an onion bulb
We happened to have planted a few mostly dead flowers last year, and apparently they were perennials, since some of them have begun to grow this spring. So I planted a few flowers around them to supplement and add a bit more color. 
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A few violas next to this butterfly bush which has miraculously come back from the mostly dead transplant that failed to thrive last year.
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In the corner of the yard, we have a few roses, and what might be daffodils, so I added some onion bulbs and marigolds to supplement the pink color....if anything ever flowers
After a little bit of work, I think the garden came out quite nice. It will be interesting to see if any of the bulbs I planted grow. 
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Here's the final result for the bed in front of the house.
In addition to our newly replenished flower beds, the veggies in our little garden seem to be doing very well! We have sprouts of beans and broccoli from the seeds that were planted two weeks ago. The peppers look great, and we have even managed not to kill the watermelon. We did kill the cucumber but managed to sprout a few seeds...and the strawberry is bigger, although looks like it's had a bit too much heat. With any luck we may actually have some produce this summer.
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We caged the tomatoes, and I know it's hard to see, but there's a solid row of bean sprouts and two rows of broccoli, though the carrots are not sprouting as of yet.
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watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini and cucumber...and a whole lot of weeds