Monday, February 28, 2011

Spending Fast Recap

Before I get started telling you about the end of my Spending Fast,  I wanted to show you a quick and easy fix for an area that has been bugging me. My bookshelf was starting to feel cluttered and ugly. I rearranged the books by color and now I LOVE it. Check it out.

See, isn't that much better? I am so glad I did that. I catch myself focusing on the white shelf at the top. I just love the way that looks.

Okay, on to business. Today is the last day of my Spending Fast. So, for the month of February I only bought the bare necessities. You can check out more about it here

This has been a good month. I didn't feel the stress I felt last year when I did this for the first time. I am already not buying anything new this whole year, so this wasn't all that different other than decreasing my grocery budget and not going to the thrift store. I am really happy I did it but I don't feel like it was as life altering as the first time I did it. Here are the things I've learned. 
  • My husband LOVES Spending Fast month. Or at least he loves watching our bank account during the month. He recently said "Can you believe I looked at our Amex bill and there wasn't any charges" Uh, yeah, I can. 
  • I can live without saran wrap and sandwich baggies, at least in the short term. I am doing better about using tupperware. I want to make reuseable sandwich baggies, but haven't done it yet. 
  • I plan more fun outings when I don't shop.
  • I sew more when I don't shop. 
  • I re-focus my grocery priorities. I stuck with fresh fruits and veggies this time which meant I really had to skimp elsewhere. I'm glad I did though. I definitely prefer fresh over canned or frozen. 
I'm so excited to be finishing up this month so we can move on to March! I'm looking forward to  Me-Made-March and my city guides! it should be a good month here on Candied Apples. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kindle Cover Tutorial

 Happy Friday! I hope you have great plans for the weekend. If not, here's a project for you.

My husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday / Christmas this last year. I love it and use it all the time. I have seen lots of fancy Kindle covers but of course, knew I could make my own. And I love it.
Here's what you do if you want to make one.

Cut the following pieces of exterior AND interior fabrics. 
(2) 6 1/2 x 9 1/2 inch (for the cover)
(1) 3x6 inch (for the flap)

You will also need 2 buttons and a 15 inch piece of piping (optional).

1. Sew the two large exterior pieces together, with right sides together leaving one of the small sides open. Turn.
2. Repeat step one with the interior pieces but don't turn.
3. Baste the piping to the exterior fabric of the flap piece.
4. Sew the flap pieces together, right sides together. The piping should be in the middle. Clip the corners and turn.
5. Pin the flap to the center of one side of the cover and baste.
6. Tuck the exterior fabric bag into the interior fabric bag, making sure right sides are together. Sew around the top, leaving 3 inches along the front to turn.
7. Turn your cover and sew the top all the way around.
8. Make your button holes in the flap and sew on your buttons. 

And you're done!
 Oh and don't add the extra pucker I did in the front. I need to unpick it and re-do it. I just couldn't wait to show you guys.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday In The Know: Homemade Bread

In the last 18 months I think I have bought bread two or three times. I just really love making bread. I love putting the ingredients together, I love kneading it, I love the smell and I love eating it. My mom used to make bread when I was little and for some reason it is now a comfort thing for me. I feel like even though we are 2500 miles apart, we're still connected through little things like bread and canning fruits and vegetables. I sort of feel like a country girl in a big city and that is really who I am. I love living in the city but I also love doing things like making jam, canning fruit and scrubbing my floors by hand.

Over the last year and a half, I have tried 4-5 different bread recipes and this one is my favorite. It is from my friend Melissa, in Chicago who's dad has been making this bread for years. I love that there isn't a lot of sugar. I substitute the oil for applesauce and I love that it is able to handle it. In fact, I substitute oil for applesauce in ALL of my baking. It works, I promise. I like the slightly higher salt level in the bread too. It makes 4 perfect loaves for me and sometimes I have a little extra to make rolls.

Melissa Bread

5 c. Water or Milk
1/2 c. sugar
2 TBSP lemon juice
5 c. flour (I use white whole wheat from Trader Joe's)
1 egg
2/3 c. oil / melted shortening / applesauce
3 TBSP yeast
1 to 1.5 TBSP salt
8 c. flour (will vary)

Put your water (or milk) in the mixer bowl. Add sugar & lemon juice. Mix in 5 c. of flour. Add the egg, oil and yeast. Add remaining flour until dough pulls away from the bowl. Let sit for about 7 minutes. Mix in salt and knead. Form loaves. Let rise and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

When your bread gets out of the oven, take it out of the pan and baste the top and sided with melted butter. This will prevent them from getting crusty.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Growth Chart

When I was younger, every few months my mom would measure all of us on the back door and write our name and the date. I loved looking to see where I compared to my siblings when they were my age and to see how much I had grown since the last time. And now, when we go visit my parents Calder can compare to me and all of his aunts and uncles.
 Since I live in an apartment I don't really want to write on the walls or doors, since I can't take that from house to house, so I made a growth chart to serve this purpose. I wanted it to be simple, so there can be lots of marking on it but I also wanted it to be cute. It is gender neutral and Calder loves it. 

I started with a piece of thrifted wool and made it just over 5 feet long. I then sewed rick-rack at one foot intervals. I made it so it should hang one foot off the ground, so it will go all the way to six feet tall. It is double sided, so I could use both sides if I needed to.
 The tree is a piece of brown ribbon for the trunk and thrifted green linen for the top. I embroidered numbers indicating the number of feet the rick rack was designating. For now my plan is to embroider the names and dates on it. If that gets too hard, I can always switch to a fine point sharpie.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Knit Striped Shirt

 I'm slowly getting more and more comfortable working with knits. They aren't hard to work with, just hard to look right. I found this red and blue striped knit at the thrift store. It was about two yards and seemed thick enough for a new t-shirt. It is very good quality and I'm glad I snagged it. Actually I didn't get it the first time I saw it. I went back three days later and was so happy it was still there!
I have this t-shirt that I liked but was a bit too thin. It was actually a maternity t-shirt from Target. I love it though and it doesn't seem to have any extra fabric in the waist, it is just really long, which I love. I took the shirt apart to use as a pattern. Basically you just cut up the seams and your pieces should look like this when you fold them in half. 

I wanted the sleeves to be gathered down a central seam and so that is why I added half of it to the front of the shirt. I also added a lot of fabric in the chest area. I wanted it to be rolled or gathered. I ended up gathering.

 The back came out perfect. It is just the right length and it hangs nicely. There are gathers around the neck adding interest.

And this is the front. For the gathers I just used regular thread and gathered on the inside, in no particular order. I know you can do some really cool things with gathers (American smocking) but I like the natural look of this. Oh and I cut a blue stripe to become my ribbing for the neck and sleeves. 

I'm excited to make another t-shirt. I love that you can take a basic shape and turn it into something special.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dinner & Pink Tights

 This is what I made for dinner last night. It is Thai Chicken Pizza and it was amazing. It has peanut sauce, all sorts of vegetables and mozzarella cheese on their whole wheat pizza dough. I found the recipe here on Trader Joe's website. I LOVE their recipes. I also love that you can get all the ingredients there, in one stop. This week I am going to try the Oh Mighty Omega Meal and the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. It should be a delicious week!

I had the courage to wear my bright pink tights to church yesterday. I got a few nice comments and a few questioning looks. I like them and will probably wear them again. They're fun and they sure brighten up a monochromatic dress.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Preparing for March

Yesterday I confessed I have a hate / hate relationship with the month of February. The 70 degree weather yesterday certainly didn't hurt but still, I hold my ground. So, to help myself out of the February blah's I'm just planning for March. I have two very exciting things in the works and I have been wanting to share them with you, so here it goes. 

The first thing is I've taken the Me-Made-March Challenge. What's that you ask? Well, basically I will be wearing at least one hand made item each day during the month of March. I will take pictures and show you what I wore every day. I do need to make a few more things before the beginning of March to round out my wardrobe. I'm not making EVERYTHING I wear in March, just one thing a day. It should be fun and I think it will be a great way to incorporate things I've made into my wardrobe. Oh and accessories count as things. 

My second March announcement is my Cool City Guide. I will be featuring one of the cool cities I've lived in each week. I will share cool places to eat, shop, sew and all sorts of other interesting things. I also want to talk about the culture and lifestyles of people who live in these cities. You may be surprised these cities are so different but I've loved them all.  My purpose is to not only tell you how much I love each of these cities, but to help people who may be traveling to these cities have an idea of where to start, especially if they like to find cool fabric stores or thrift stores on vacation. 

Here's a hint for our first stop: 
Any guesses?

So, lets hurry up and get to March already!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Celebrate The Boy

 I'm not really a fan of February. It's the end of the winter and it is usually just a drab month. It is also the ugliest, in my opinion and I've lived all over this country and it's always been the same. Drab. Thank goodness it's short. 

As far as I can tell there is just one redeeming quality to February and that is Celebrate The Boy. This is the second year Dana at MADE and Rae from Made By Rae have done Celebrate The Boy and I love it. I am so inspired to sew more for Calder. They are doing it from February 15 to March 15 this year, so they have just started but already I have been adding to my list of things to sew for him. These are jumping to the top of my list for sure: 
These dragon slippers are awesome. Calder loves slippers and his doggy ones are almost too small. He would love these.

And if you're not too hot on making things, you should totally go buy this adorable outfit from Zaa Berry. Anyone else totally obsessing about nautical these days?

I am loving these awesome boy friendly fabrics and can think of a million uses for them.
You should definitely watch Dana and Rae to see what they have up their sleeves! Seriously, they are amazing. Oh and they are doing giveaways all month! hooray for that!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Alphabet Tiles

This is my last set of tiles, I promise! This is a fun alphabet set. It is just 26 tiles with a picture that starts with that letter. I made these just like the stamped set I did for my son for Christmas. They have paper glued (with rubber cement) to the backs and the pictures glued to the front. I rounded the corners of the letter papers. It is so easy!

 This set needed a larger bag, so it is twice as wide as the match games. I love the plaid lining and the green hand stitching to keep the lining in place.

You should be able to click both of the above images and print them out. Feel free to use them for just about anything! I'd love to know if you do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Bloom Today

Hey! I am so excited to tell you that I am guest posting over on Bloom today. Hop on over for the full tour of my house and my ideas for keeping a small house tidy. 

I have been reading bloom since they started writing it. I feel like they have very good inspiration and ideas for women. I love the Friday Forums they do and the many creative ideas they have for making everyday living better.

Match Game Printable

 Remember when I made a match game for my son for Christmas? Well, I am finally getting around to finishing the other two sets I have laying around. I thought it would be fun to make a printable for you guys so you can make them too.  My son picked his favorite things (thus the fire extinguisher, hot cocoa mug and suitcase).
This time I painted the wooden tiles white. You can get the wooden tiles online or I imagine at a hardware store. They are 2inches square and about 1/4 inch thick.
 I made a little bag for these ones too. They fit perfectly and my son can get them in and out by himself.
You should be able to just click the image above, print it off and cut them out for your own match game!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

 These are Calder's valentines this year. It is a cellophane bag holding two cookies with a header that says "Be Mine". I love it! We only made ten of them and gave them to his friends at church. They were a big hit. He helped make the cookies and helped staple the paper to the bags. I love how they turned out.
 The header is from my friend Katherine. She is a fabulously talented graphic designer and makes all sorts of adorable things. She did a series of Valentines this year on her blog. Check them out and save them for next year. You'll love them!
Here is Calder all ready to give his Valentines to his friends and teachers. It was so sweet to see him give one to each of his buddies.

Here's the recipe for my sugar cookies and the buttercream frosting. The cookies are soft and chewy and the frosting is a little sweet and a little salty. This is my favorite cookie!

Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
5 cups flour (I've started using white whole wheat flour from Trader Joe's. I used them for these and you can't tell it is whole wheat)
4 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Blend butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Add milk as you add flour, then remaining ingredients. Roll out 1/2 inch thick. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.  These cookies will not brown.  I like to make mine into balls and then squish them flat on top.

Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound strained confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, cream together shortening and butter on medium-low speed until completely blended.  Stir the salt into the confectioners' sugar.  Add the sugar alternately with the milk to the shortening / butter mixture.  Starting with the sugar add four parts sugar to four parts milk.  Mix together until smooth, but do not overmix.  Blend in the vanilla.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mad Men Sew-Along

Remember way back in November I talked about doing a Mad Men Sew-Along with Presser Foot? Well, I finished my dress in the middle of December and wore it to a Christmas cocktail party around that time. I didn't like the pictures I took of it at the time but haven't gotten around to taking more, so I thought I would at least show you what I've got. If I get around to taking more, I'll post them. 

 I used chartreuse taffeta and a lace overlay for the bodice and skirt. I made a sash, hem and collar just from the taffeta. It is hard to see but I did the pearl button detail down the skirt that I mentioned on my initial sew-along post. On the back I used a vintage button at the top of the neck and a removable broach to hold the sash in place.
 I used the pattern for the most part but I made up the collar, added the sash and lengthened the sleeves. It fits like a glove and I really love it. It was festive without being costume like. And I swear it isn't this shiny in person.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Giveaway WINNER!

I want to give a great big THANK YOU to Decorative Details for doing this great giveaway. On to the winner...

According to the random number of 18! Who was commenter #18? 

aje&h said...
fabulous shirt! Fabulous esty store! I love the tulle and white satin rosettes bib. I am thinking sleeve caps for a little girl shirt dress....ridiuclous and huge but pulled off by adorablenes of wearer. :) keep up the excellent work! You are an inspiration! 
I will be emailing you the coupon code for $15 at the Decorative Details shop! Congrats!

And for those of you who didn't win, it's okay. Her prices are amazing! Get something nice anyway! You won't be disappointed.

Thursday In The Know: Spending Fast Food

A few of you have asked what we eat during Spending Fast. I should start by saying my husband is not a huge eater. We always have leftovers, so a meal will last two nights and probably a lunch or two. We also tend to be creatures of habit and eat the same things every day for breakfast and lunch. I do a lot of different things for dinner though, so that's helpful. 

Also, during the spending fast I plan to eat one meal from the freezer each week. Throughout the year if I'm making enchiladas I make two pans full and put one in the freezer for an easy meal later. I also double soup recipes and do the same thing. So that is one less meal I have to plan on each week. 

I don't generally buy a lot of snack items like chips and cookies. I do make sweets, but making them is cheaper than buying them.

Breakfast: My husband always eats Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal or cinnamon/sugar toast and a banana. Very simple, very cheap. Calder and I usually eat cereal or homemade oatmeal with raisins and a banana. Again, not very expensive. During Spending Fast I make more oatmeal because it is cheaper than cereal. 

Lunch: Jason usually eats leftovers from the night before or a salami & cheese or PB&J sandwich. I make all of our bread and that greatly decreases the cost of things. He then has fruit leather, string cheese and an apple. Calder and I generally eat PB&J or leftovers as well. 

Dinners: Here's where we get exciting! I'll list below a few of my go-to cheap meals that are full of flavor and have veggies. I tend to do one pot meals in general because although I don't dislike cooking, I don't find great enjoyment making a two hour meal. At least 1-2 times a week we eat salad for dinner. My favorites are BBQ Chicken Salad and just a simple green salad with tons of fresh veggies, no meat. And like I said, Jason isn't a huge eater and he is fine with salad for dinner. 

Here are two of my favorite inexpensive dishes that we are eating this week. Both of these are vegetarian, which I prefer and it keeps it cheaper. Although, if you don't want to do vegetarian, shrimp or chicken would be good additions to both of these.

Couscous with Chickpeas and Feta
1 box of couscous
juice of 1 lemon
15oz can of chickpeas, drained
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
1/2 c. fresh basil chopped
2 med. garlic cloves, minced
1T olive oil
4 oz feta (or goat cheese)
1/2 cup parsley

Make the couscous like the box tells you to, then add the rest of the ingredients.  I'm not kidding, it's that easy.  I prefer goat cheese and I always substitute goat cheese for feta but it tastes good either way.  The original recipe says to serve it at room temperature but I like it warm as well. If you want to use regular couscous instead of a boxed mix you will need 1 1/2 cups of couscous and prepare as directed on the bag. Then continue with above directions.

Greek Orzo
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 (28oz) can plum tomatoes, drained
1 T. capers, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup orzo
1/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

In a large frying pan over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the tomatoes and break them up with a spoon. Stir in the capers, oregano, sage, black pepper and pepper flakes. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid given off by the tomatoes has evaporated.

Meanwhile cook the orzo in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and add to the pan with the tomato mixture. Stir in the feta (or goat cheese) and cook for 1 more minute or until the cheese starts to melt.  Serves 4 very generously.  Very low calorie.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Home Style

As I mentioned yesterday one of the surprising results of my Nothing New 2011 Challenge is that I am honing in on my personal style. I spoke a little about my clothing style yesterday and want to talk a little more about my home style today. 

I used to think I only liked somewhat cold, modern and white. Although I do love these things I also like mid-century modern furniture and Scandinavian design.  Here are a few things I'm loving lately, that I feel have evolved since the start of the challenge. 
Spotted on Decor8
I love the lines on the dresser, the use of white and color, the mirror and the coat rack. Everything. I feel like the dresser top is more cluttered than I can deal with but otherwise I love it.
From Design*Sponge
 I'm loving this mid-century vibe. I would probably have a little more white but otherwise love it. I really dig that color combination too and could see myself using it as a whole house inspiration.
 Also from Design*Sponge
I also love this kitchen. The colors are perfect. I already have mostly red appliances and I think adding in a few aqua or turquoise bowls would be perfect. It is so bright and happy. I also love the white vintage stove, white cabinets and white counters.

I love this plate display, spotted on Bloom. The wall color is the perfect blue and I love the pops of green and yellow. Hey, it goes with my color palate up above.
 From WiseCraft
And last, but not least this dining room seems to encompass my desire for mid-century furniture, white with pops of color and still seems comfortable and family friendly. I'm not crazy about the rug, or light fixture but everything else is awesome.

I've noticed something else that I really appreciate in design is symmetry. I love the idea of two identical chairs flanking a fireplace. Something about having a dividing line to a room really works for me. In the dining room above you can see two identical lamps on the buffet table. I love that. 

Okay, so my question for you is, how do you decorate? Do you save money until you can re-do a whole room in one pop or buy a little each month? Do you have a very specific idea in your head of what you want the end result to look like or do you just find pieces you love and put them together?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recent Realization of Personal Style

 As you know I'm doing the Nothing New 2011 Challenge and it is going well. I feel like not buying things has given me the chance to really focus on personal style both for me and for my home. It's nice to be able to look at magazines, catalogs and websites without feeling pressure to buy something I like but to be able to look at the whole picture and decide whether I like the room it is in or the outfit as a whole. I'm learning a lot about my style while spending very little money.

I'm finding my personal clothing style is very classic. I like stripes, ballet flats, dresses, skirts and slacks. I choose timeless over trendy and would prefer to buy fewer high quality items than more trendy but cheap items. My favorite stores are Ann Taylor, JCrew and Banana Republic when I buy new or while scouring the thrift store. But I also have this second side of me that loves vintage finds. I love the silhouettes of the 1950s and 1960s and would love to replicate that. I would like to mesh the two but am struggling a little. I recently realized I can buy vintage clothes off of Etsy since it's not new Yay for me! I don't plan to go crazy but here are a few things in my favorite folder that I am hoping to get come March.

So, what about you? What is your personal style? Would you say you're classic, trendy, dramatic, eclectic, romantic, athletic, bohemian or urban? A mix of two or three? Also, I would love to know what your favorite stores are for clothes.


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