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Friday, May 11, 2018

OFF-THE-SHOULDER LONG SLEEVE WEDDING GOWN

It's always an extra special project for me when I'm making a wedding gown for a family member.  In this case, it was my nephew's bride.  She wanted a long sleeve off-the-shoulder gown.   The bodice was made of lace and the form fitted skirt was a net overlay with a crepe underlay; the drape of the skirt was absolutely beautiful.
There were actually many unique design elements in addition to the off-the-shoulder design.  The back of the gown had a large keyhole opening.  The perimeter of the gown had a large lace border, the sleeves secured with covered buttons and the skirt itself had a number of appliques handstitched on to the netting. 

I first began the project back in September of 2017 (for an April 29th wedding date), once we finalized the design and I took her measurements I was off to the races finding all of the fabrics and trims I would need.  Some I found locally, others I found online. 

Because of the off-the-shoulder design and the keyhole back, fitting the bodice was the biggest challenge.   But with a few extra fittings, and some extra effort, (one of which was adding a silicone strip to the top of the bodice to keep it from slipping; the same strip you find on a strapless bra) it ended up fitting really well!                                   
I like to spend time on the bustle of my gowns.  Since so much of the day, the gown is spent in the "bustled" position,  I try to make it extra special.  Because of the shape of Aisha's train (long and narrow), I was able to come up with a really lovely bustle design that looked so pretty during the dances!

I also made Aisha's birdcage veil and garter.  I made the veil so the "blusher" could be tucked behind the flower (after the ceremony) allowing her to wear it the entire evening.

On her garter, I used feathers, to match those in her veil and added a touch of "someting blue" with some beading. 

The wedding palette of the day was various shades of purple; the bouquets and centerpieces were so pretty, and the bridesmaids chose their own style of gowns.  In April, the unpredictable Colorado weather was the only potential concern, but as luck would have it, the wedding day was a dry and balmy 80 degrees! 

What an honor it was to be a part of this special day for my nephew and his bride.  I wish you both a lifetime of happiness!

Monday, April 30, 2018

BISQUICK COFFEE CAKE MUFFINS

I made these muffins this past weekend and they received a "thumbs up" from the entire family.  You'll be drooling over the aroma while they're cooking and I promise they won't dissapoint when they finally cool off enough to enjoy one!
They come together really quickly since the foundation is Bisquick mix.  The streusel topping is heavenly and the extra drizzle of frosting is perfect.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups original bisquick mix
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1 egg

Streusel
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup bisquick mix
4 Tbsp. softened butter
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Icing
½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with parchment liners.   In a medium size bowl, stir together all of the muffin ingredients.  In a separate bowl, crumble together the streusel ingredients. 

*Add 1 Tbsp. of muffin mix to the bottom of each liner, followed by 1 Tbsp. of streusel. Top cups with the remaining batter, followed by the remaining streusel.   Bake 18-20 minutes until the top is set.  

Remove from oven and make the icing.  Drizzle over  the top of the warm muffins.

Enjoy!

*It is important to only use 1 Tbsp. of batter on the bottom of the cup, otherwise you won't have enough batter for the second layer. 


recipe c/o:  www.tablespoon.com 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

IRELAND ADVENTURE

My daughter and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Ireland, so I'm taking this opportunity to share some pictures, insights, and impressions from our adventure.  When I put together a trip for the two of us, I do A LOT of research.  Some of what I use is from travel bloggers......so I thought I would share in the event anyone might benefit from our experience. 
We flew into Dublin, but instead of starting our trip there I chose to pick-up a rental car and drive approximately 2 hours to Kilkenny.  I'm happy to report the rental experience went well!  I had my concerns about driving on the opposite side of the road, but I had an awesome navigator in my daughter.  I will tell you that I thought I was going to be able to manage the trip with the National Geographic map that I had purchased, especially since the GPS could not be reserved in advance....but there's no way!  Thank Goodness for google maps....my daughter saved us with that on a number of occasions!    Try as much as you can to use M or N roads, but know that you will find yourself on the R roads, which are generally very narrow, filled with sharp turns and at times downright frightening.                                                                                         

Without a doubt, Kilkenny was my favorite city! It's very quaint and loaded with history galore.  After our 1.5 day visit, we were on our way to Cork.   Along the way I traveled through Tipperary to see the Rock of Cashel and Cahir castle....both worth the stops.  In addition to seeing Cork, I also planned a day trip to Cobh.  Loved Cobh.  Lots of history with the Titanic experience (the last 123 passengers boarded in Cobh) and the Heritage Center which is all about Irish immigration to the states; Irish immigrant Annie Moore was the first person to pass through Ellis Island.   We also visited Blarney Castle that day.  I totally enjoyed that day, not just the castle, but the grounds were absolutely amazing.  
Frankly, Cork (other than a wonderful hotel that I booked) didn't trip my trigger.  Larger city centre, and certainly not as much character as the other cities we visited. 

From Cork, we had our longest driving day to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren (approximately 3 hours).  So much beauty to see.  I had also booked a midieval banquet for that night at a castle (Bunratty).  It was fun! We had a 4 course meal, and the staff was dressed in costume; lots of singing and entertainment.  
We stayed at a lovely B&B lodge (Wild Atlantic Lodge) in Ballyvaughn and explored the burren the next morning on our way to Clifden.  I planned a visit along the way to Galway....that was a fun little city.  Spent the day there exploring their historic city centre and enjoyed a great charcuterie board with wine at The Cheesemongers (highly recommend) in town. 
We stayed two nights at the Ballynahinch Castle in Clifden.  It was a lovely stay, the facility is beautiful.  Library, sitting rooms, fireplaces to enjoy.  One of our day trips was to the Kylemore Abbey (a must see) and the other day we went out to the Ashford Castle for tea!  Great day.  The tea was impressive to say the least and the Castle was beyond impressive.                                                        
To break up our final leg of the trip a bit, I opted to not drive all the way back to Dublin from Clifden, instead I overnighted at the same hotel in Kilkenny....we took a different route so that we could see some additional sights and went to Offay and saw the ruins of the Clonmacnoise Monastery.  It was amazing and totally worth the revised route to see it.  

While I much prefer the smaller towns, we HAD to see Dublin.  I strategically chose to drop the car off, there's no reason for it in Dublin, and you'd go crazy trying to get around in it, there's just so much vehicle and pedestrian traffic.  I took the bus into the city, which was reasonably convenient.  I would suggest the Hop On/Hop Off bus to get your bearings and truly take in the city from one corner to the other....without the bus, you'd be hard pressed to do this.   I bought a 24 hour pass and it worked great.  We headed out the first day mid-afternoon which gave us until that time the following day.  Consult the "must see" sights about times/tours, etc.  We really had to revise our thinking to take it all in in the amount of time we had there.                                                                                                                                                        Some additional thoughts....take advantage of the breakfasts that most hotels offer (some for an additional $10 when booking online).  We started our day with a full breakfast which would last us until late in the day.  In some cases we could go all the way until the "early bird" dinner offerings from 5p-7p at discounted prices.
....which is another way to save costs.  Some of my favorite dinners were soup and an appetizer, or a charcuterie board.  We obviously had to try the fish and chips which were awesome and I couldn't go home without tasting some Irish stew, which was also delicious!  Hope this inspires, or helps in some way if you're thinking of traveling to the Emerald Isle.   Since we didn't take in Northern Ireland this trip, I'm thinking I'll have to combine that with a trip to Scotland in the future.   

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

UPCYCLED VASE

This wasn't a terribly complicated project, but I really like the way that a new coat of paint totally changed the entire look of this vase.  I had been wanting to do something for a long time and finally found the time to get it done!
BEFORE

AFTER
I had put the clear vase together best I can figure, about 6-8 years ago.  You can see at the bottom of the vase the acrylic water solution (found at your local Michael's or Hobby Lobby) that is designed to make it look like the arrangement could actually be real, since the stems were submerged in water.   What I didn't realize was how dust collects (despite your best housecleaning efforts) on the acrylic and you just can't remove it.  So much for looking real!
 
So, I decided since I still like the arrangement, I would just re-paint the vase and update it a bit.   I covered the stems with a kitchen bag and went to town in the garage.  Have I told you how much I love Frog Tape?  It is awesome....totally held the line for me when moving between the stone and gold paints. 

Love how this turned out!  Guess I can keep it awhile longer and not have to cover my eyes when I walk past it!

Monday, April 2, 2018

LEMON CAKE ROLL RECIPE

This Easter I was looking for a light dessert recipe with a spring like flair....and this recipe turned out to be just right.  The family raved about it, so I'm sharing it with you!  But, don't wait until next Easter, this dessert would work well when you're looking for a nice light dessert with plenty of lemony cream flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. lemon extract
2/3 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
powdered sugar

Lemon Filling
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
5 drop yellow, liquid food coloring
1 ½ cups whipped topping (I used the Cool Whip lite version)
*1 jar lemon curd 

Decoration:
¼ cup coconut
2 drops food coloring


DIRECTIONS:

Line a greased 15x10x1 inch baking pan with waxed paper and grease the paper; set aside.  In a large bowl. beat egg yolks until lemon-colored.  Gradually beat in ¼ cup sugar.  Stir in oil and lemon extract; set aside.

In another bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining sugar, 2 Tbsp at a time until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved.  Fold into egg yolk mixture.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; fold into egg mixture.  

Transfer to prepared pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Turn cake onto a kitchen towel dusted with powdered sugar.  Gently peel off waxed paper.  Roll up cake in towel, starting with one of the short sides.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  

For filling, in a small bowl, combine the milk, lemon juice, lemon peel and food coloring.  Fold in whipped topping.  Unroll cake; First spread the jar of lemon curd over the cake to within 1 inch of edges.  Spread a light layer of the whipped topping mixture over the curd, again to within 1 inch of the edges.  Roll up and place seam side down on a platter.  Spread the remaining whipped filling over the cake.  

In a ziploc bag, add coconut and whatever color of food coloring you choose; shake to tint.  Sprinkle the coconut over the cake.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  Refrigerate leftovers.

*Adding the base layer of lemon curd was my modification to the recipe. I thought the added burst of lemon flavor would be fun and the different texture would also provide some added interest to the finished product.  

adapted from:  www.tasteofhome.com



Saturday, March 3, 2018

FLOWER GIRL AND RINGBEARER GOODIES

My Etsy shop does a reasonable amount of business each year.  In addition to veils and garters, I also have a variety of flower girl baskets, and ringbearer pillows available.  What's fun for me is when the customer wants to customize their order.  These are just a couple of the items that I've worked on over the last few weeks.
I offer the burlap and lace flower girl baskets you see above on my site, but this particular bride needed two baskets along with a ringbearer pillow.  
I currently have a burlap and lace pillow that would work, but she was looking for a better match to the baskets.  So, I made the one pictured above incorporating many of the design elements from the baskets for a more consistent look. 

I decided to make the pillow in burlap, but because of the loose weave of burlap, I used an underlayer of  muslin.  That helped ensure the filling wouldn't be seen through the burlap and also provided some stability to the pillow.   You'll see I chose to tie the pieces together by also using the burlap and lace trim, pearls and ruffled lace trim.  I think the "trio" looks great together and totally compliment one another.  In fact, I've decided to include this pillow on my Etsy shop since I liked the finished product so much!                            

I also had a request for a custom pomander ball using the color palette from the wedding, which is navy and coral.   A pomander ball or kissing ball is a great option for flower girls, in this case a 2ish flower girl who isn't likely to sprinkle petals.  It starts with a styrofoam ball.  I chose to use three different navy blue fabrics for varied textures and color variations; 2 satins and 1 chantilly lace.

The coral accents were achieved through silk flower petals.  If you look closely you'll see I also added some pearl sprigs.  The "handle" is made with a soutache trim I found in the upholstery section of Hobby Lobby. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

WATERCOLOR PLANTERS

This is such a quick and fun project, I encourage anyone to give it a try!  I first played with this technique back in 2015 when I took a few white ceramic coffee mugs and transformed them into something truly unique.  

When I recently purchased a couple of ceramic planters for wall decor in my studio, I knew at that time that I was going to have some fun with them!
It takes just a few items and a little time to turn something ho-hum into wow!  

You'll need a container for the "bath"; it's going to get ruined so I'd look for something at the Dollar store.  This simple plastic tub did the trick just fine. 

Next, find whatever color or colors of nail polish you want .... again, I went with Dollar store polish versus the expensive stuff you find in big box stores.  I found two varieties of pink polish, and the third one is a glitter variety.

The technique is similar to egg dyeing.  You dribble the nail polish colors into some water and dunk the item into the bath...let it dry (which is really fast) and you're done!

Every item will be it's own unique masterpiece, similar to Easter eggs; you'll never have two patterns exactly alike. 

I found the planters at Hobby Lobby (I hit the ceramic sale!) I visualized succulents in them and found some really lifelike varieties that I placed in there along with some moss.  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

LAUNDRY ROOM MAKEOVER

We've officially been in our new house for a little over two years now...and many of you know firsthand how extensive the list of projects can be when you're trying to make your house a home.   So, we prioritized the projects and have been tackling one big one each year (and lots of little things ever since we moved in).  The first year was finishing the basement; that was actually beyond big, it was monumental.  The second year was hardwood flooring (we called in the pros for that one).  This year, we started with a laundry room makeover.
    
BEFORE
The original design of the laundry room included a shelf over the washer/dryer.  I used those fabric cubes for storing some goodies; I had a total of four of them in a tan color equally spaced across the shelf....then, do you see that old microwave cart underneath the countertop? that was the "catch all" for detergent, dryer sheets, etc.  You can also see we're Costco folk, especially when it comes to TP, paper towel and kleenex.  So the industrial size versions of each of those were tucked under the counter top as well.  It literally drove me nuts (I'm really swallowing my pride here by showing you all this...you'd never know from this picture that I'm a very organized person).
                                  AFTER                                     
I'm so excited.....look under the countertop.  Nothing! All that stuff is now either in the brand new cabinets, or underneath the other side of the countertop where they're out of sight.  In case you're wondering about the positioning of the hamper.....I have it there because one of the coolest features of the laundry room is the "pass through" window from our master bedroom.  You can actually pitch your dirty clothes into the hamper when standing in the master bedroom closet!  We love that feature!  
I found those beautiful hickory cabinets at Lowe's (online).   We bought two; they each measure 30x24.  My husband also added a metal pole from the end of the cabinet to the wall.  I used to have to hang "to be ironed" items right from the shelf.                                                             
                                                                                                                        I love how it looks (as much as anyone can love a laundry room, right?).  I really can only take credit for finding the cabinets,  cabinet knobs and the final clean up ....my husband did all the heavy lifting on this project.  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

INFANT DRESS AND HAIRBOW

I have to say, I love the variety of projects that I get to work on....from sewing, to crafts, to cooking, to upholstery....well, you get the idea.  It feeds my creative soul!

This project was a treat since I don't do them very often.  An dress for an infant...whoop, whoop.  So fun!  A close friend of the family (and bestie to my daughter) asked if I would make a dress for her daughter, Maddie.  I had made some hairbows when Maddie was firstborn and Mama, Kim wanted me to make a dress to match.  As it turned out, I had bought enough gold polka dot knit to make her a matching dress. 
Look at this little cutie patootie!  This is Maddie's 8 month picture.  Kim is having professional photos done each month through her first year of life (she did the same thing with her son as well).  It's so fun, to watch them grow and change!

I decided I wanted to spice up the dress a bit, so I scoured the etsy shops trying to find a pre-made lace collar.....I ordered one (with fingers crossed) hoping the size was going to work as I had planned.  I'm happy to say, this one worked just perfectly.  It's a cotton lace which is a great match to the cotton knit fabric.

I also had some fun flower appliques from a 3D fabric that I used for a bridal cape and stole three of them for the final touch. They matched perfectly and almost look as if the collar was made that way. 

I forgot how quickly infant wear comes together.  The seams are so small!  In case you're wondering, there are four buttons at the center back of the bodice which allows Maddie to get in and out of the dress. 

Don't you love these pictures!!  The one on the right is absolutely adorable.  I understand Maddie is quite the wiggle worm right now, so the pictures Kim posted on facebook are comical since she's moving in just about every one of them! 
Maddie's photos by:  KB Digital Designs