Monday, December 30, 2013

Soft Fluffy Goodness


Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday and have a short week again this week to ring in the new year. Here in Minnesota, we are struggling with negative temperatures all week, which makes me want to snuggle up with a million blankets and not come out until March. Unfortunately, I can't, well...I could try. But in an effort to bear mother nature for the next few months, copious amounts of clothing must be worn. And such clothing will need to be WARM, and comfy! So, I had the bright idea to age myself 50 years and take up knitting! And, I love it. It's making my Bravo TV sessions much more productive.
 
 
 
AND LUCKY YOU! I will be selling these scarves on my Etsy site! More colors will be added, but I am currently sporting the grey and I love it, so soft and fluffy. The maroon scarf has a beautiful punch of color.

 
Side note: taking a picture of yourself is a very funny thing. Which is why I had to crop my face out, I look very...mischievous in the images for some reason...
 
 
Anyways, Have an excellent week and don't go too crazy on New Years. If you plan to, make sure you buy a scarf so at least you are warm and stylish doing it :)
 
 
 




Friday, December 13, 2013

No more naked trees!

Our house exploded this weekend with holiday decor. Lights! Everywhere! Trees! Fake presents! Hang ALL the Santa hats!!!!! But, at the end of the day there was onnnne thing missing. The tree was a little noodiepants. I went straight to Pinterest for some inspiration and was off to the fabric store (which was conveniently having a HUGE sale...all the stars aligned).

I wanted this to be a quick task which could be done whilst watching Bravo, and a cheap one (yay sale!). 

Supplies:
1 yard of felt fabric
9.5 yards of fun rope
String to match the rope color
Needle


First, measure your felt and make sure it is exactly 1 yd x 1 yd...sometimes they get cut a little wonky. Then fold the fabric in half...and then half again. You'll cut along the 4 free ends of the square, so that when you unfold it later it'll be a circle!


Trace an arc using chalk (the free ends of the fabric are at the top right corner of the picture below)

Protip: To trace an arc I used string and some chalk. Hold one end of the string in the bottom left corner (opposite the open ends) and measure out the length of the radius by placing the other end of the string at the bottom right corner. Place some chalk in that hand and, keeping the left side still, trace from one end to the other. The string will make sure the radius is the same the entire way through.


Once the arc is drawn, use a sharp pair of scissors to cut along the line. You will also need to make one cut from the exterior of the circle to the interior (length of the radius) to allow the center of the tree to sit in the middle of the skirt.

If you have a large tree trunk, you can also cut out a small circle in the middle of the skirt for extra room!



Once your skirt is cut, open it up. It should be a perfect circle with a slit through it. Now is the time when you can sit on the couch with a needle and thread (or whip out the 'ol sewing machine) and get to stitching the edging. What's great about this, is it hides any cut imperfections in the felt! Not that there are any...right?! To attach the rope I started at the slit (as that would sit behind the tree) and made my way around the circle to the other side of the slit.




There you have it, a super easy tree skirt! What's great about the felt is how stiff it is, I don't have to worry about it bunching up or moving around on the wood floors AND I didn't have to sew any fraying edges. Victory!

Also, aren't tree skirts just kinda a funny idea? Actually, the whole tree-in-the-living room thing  is also kinda funny... Jim Gaffigan feels the same way...


Monday, December 9, 2013

You are ready now: an exciting announcement!

A few weeks ago I was at yoga, laying on my mat (already drenched in sweat) waiting for the instructor to begin class... secretly hoping I could just take a nap as the room was warm and quiet. At this particular studio, the instructors begin class with a quote or phrase that stuck out to them, in an effort to set an intention with the class. In this particular class the instructor read a poem which ended in "you are ready now." She continued to encourage us to push ourselves further in our practice, but I got something entirely different out of it. Last year I published this post, about my goals and intentions for the next year. A few I have accomplished, a few I have continued to push to the back burner for various excuses. My main excuse though, was that I didn't feel that I was ready to push send. To design what was in my head, to send that e-mail, to ask

Since that class I have began to make some shifts, looking at some of the larger goals in my life. One of these goals was to open an Etsy shop. Not knowing where this would take me, or what would come of it, I thought, why not now? 


So, I did just that. So is the birth of Greetings by Chance


Still in it's early, testing period I hit Publish. heavy breathing. You'll see an added tab at the top of this 'ol blogger. You can click that to be redirected to the Etsy shop and buy your brains out in Christmahanakwanza gifts! Or, if you have really boring walls in your home or office, these might help spice up the space!








What will be sold is a mixture of graphic art and photography from my globe trotting days. I hope to add some wood burning products soon, first I need to practice that steady hand :). I hope you find a little bit of happiness in them, check them out here and let me know what you think!









Wondering where the shop name came from!? My dear grandfather is a bit of a computer whiz and each year for our birthday he'd send a card with a catchy joke inside with some clip art. On the back instead of the typical Hallmark sign, there'd be a little insignia for Greetings by Chance - always made me smile! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Concrete Crafts

As mentioned with a little sneak peak last Wednesday, I bought a bag of concrete! My mudar enlisted me to come up with a nice little centerpiece for the Thanksgiving feast, what better time to test out some concrete skillz? right?!

Supplies:

-A bag of concrete (I used Quickcrete but any will do)
-Molds (thin plastic and cardboard worked best! You can also make your own out of wood if you have time!) 
-Oil
-Dixie cups
-Gallon bucket

Warning: Silicosis is a real thing and is caused by the inhalation of silica dust. Wear a mask while scooping your concrete mixture, don't breathe in the dust!

The first step is to prep your molds so the concrete doesn't adhere to them. I used olive oil, any will work just fine. For the molds, I used tea boxes (which worked the best!) for some shorter molds, and some plastic containers (look in the planting isle at HD!) for larger/taller items. If the plastic is thin and bendable, peeling it back shouldn't be an issue once the concrete has cured. If you have a thicker plastic that doesn't bend easily, i'd suggest cutting it in half, and duct taping it back together. That way, once it has cured you can take the mold off much easier. Once your molds are ready, use a brush to apply the Oil to the insides.


Mixing the concrete is pretty easy. Pour the concrete into the gallon bucket and add water a little at a time, stirring as you go (and wearing a mask!). Once the mixture is the consistency of somewhere between peanut butter and jelly, you are ready to pour. Quickcrete will start to dry within 10 minutes, so make sure your molds are ready when you start mixing.

Pour the mixture into your molds, leaving room at the top for overflow when you add your dixie cups. The dixie cups create negative space and are the perfect size for tea candles. For the flower containers I needed a deeper hole, a dowel, or an upside down beer bottle worked just fine! The cups will try to float up, place something heavy on it until it sets (about 10 minutes).


Once the concrete sets you can take the Dixie cups out to let it completely dry, mine took about 2 days to fully cure. 

Protip: concrete dries faster when warm, so place the molds next to your radiator if you are in a hurry!

Once the molds are hard you can pry them out of the containers, they may still be wet in some areas which is fine. I waited about 10-12 hours to remove from their mold, at which point I sanded down the sides so they would set smooth. Then sit them out to fully cure (again, that was about 2 days total), you'll be able to tell they are ready when all the dark spots are gone. 



 Once they were done curing I wanted to add a little modern touch. I used some white paint I had on hand and added some to the pieces. If you are putting these directly on a surface I would add some felt footers at this time as well to prevent any scratching.





I also tested out my little wood burning pen to add some "Give Thanks" signs, still needs some practice but it's fun!

There you have it, a little concrete craft that anyone can accomplish! I still have about a half a bag left...who wants in!?


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Greenbuild - Philadelphia


Last week I hopped on an air vehicle towards Philadelphia for the Greenbuild Conference. Greenbuild is the worlds largest conference dedicated to green buildings. The U.S Green Building Council puts on the event which is attended by over 30,000 nationally and internationally. All week I attended sessions which rolled out the new LEEDv4 rating system. LEED is a building (both commercial and residential) rating system which analyses the performance of a building based on set criteria. This rating system looks at how buildings interact with the surrounding community and site as well as how it handles things like water, waste, energy and lighting on site and in the building. 

What is unique about this version is that is is beginning to ensure transparency in the market through materials and products we purchase for our built environment. Materials and Resources is a section analysed in the LEED rating system. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) has been added to this section to ensure the products we are purchasing are adequate for a high indoor air quality. Life Cycle Analysis provides details of every item and process a material goes through from raw material extraction to the final disposal. It's quite an intense process, but the materials that come out are at the top of the market.


Another system which rolled out last week is the 2030 Palette. To understand this system we have to step back a bit to the 2030 Challenge. Edward Mazria (pictured below) rolled out this initiative a few years ago in an effort to reverse climate change and become carbon neutral by 2030. This isn't an arbitrary year, it is a very calculated one which I won't get into, but read more here if it suits your fancy!

What's great about the 2030 Palette is that it connects low-carbon, sustainable initiatives around the world. This is huge, it reduces the need to reinvent the wheel, instead you can look at what others are researching and building around the world and take it as a precedence. Three cheers for the work this gent does.


Of course, the conference wasn't JUST educational. It was fun too! Like, what!, Bon Jovi concert? Hillary Clinton in the house? (look at how many phones are out during Hillary versus Bon Jovi haha)



After a week of Greenbuild I stayed an extra day to catch up with a High school friend, and after a long night of 'unwinding' we schlepped ourselves around to see some touresty (Liberty bell for the win!) and artsy sights. Namly...where Rocky worked out...


Aside from that being an awesome draw to see the art museum, and I know, you are supposed to look at the art at these places (which, omg was awesome) THE FLOORS. I just, can't get over how beautiful, detailed, GUSH.





I always thought that putting in new wood into a space with existing wood would (haha) be difficult. Matching colors/sizes seems like a chore for it to just look mediocre. BUT what do we have here? Just change out the orientation, put a sweet transition strip of herringbone and be like whaaat new wood? It was supposed to be this way!


Anyways, after getting home and watching the Vikings TIE (what? Football is harrrd), and going to see Hunger Games (omg, amazing.) I decided to buy a bag on concrete (the obvious next move right?). p.s Don't act like a strong baller like you can carry a bag of concrete out of Home Depot like it ain't no thang and refuse help the entire way. YOU CAN'T (which is why I went to the gym early this morning). shame. 

Wondering what i'm making? Well, it's drying so I can't tell you now. But maybe later, k?



Monday, November 25, 2013

Hutchy McHutcherson

Another week, another restored piece of delicious cabinetry. A few weeks ago a co-worked dropped off this gem to my house. It was dated, both in the stain color and in the decorative etching on the cabinets. I spent some time sanding down the doors, removing the glass and then got to work modernizing it. 


It took 2 coats of primer and about 4 coats of BM Simply White in semi-gloss which provides a nice finish for furniture. I added knobs to the bottom doors and put a little ORB finish on all the hardware to tie it all together. I reinserted the glass panels, and... here she blows!


I love how the white really brings out the depth to the molding in the piece. The ORB handles provide some contrast and functionality, there is even a nice little light inside. Now it just needs to find a deserving home...any takers!




Monday, November 18, 2013

Tasty Breakfast

Last weekend the famdamn and I went up to Breezy Point, which is a few hours north of Minneapolis. We spent the weekend recharging our batteries with the help of some vino and a deck of cards. On Saturday morning I put on my Betty Crocker apron and dished up some delicious breakfast. It's a little sweet and a lotta yum! You will rarely catch me in the kitchen, I tend to find any way to ruin a recipe and just order pizza. So if I can accomplish this recipe, anyone can!

Here's your shopping list:

2 Ripe Bananas sliced into 1.2" pieces
1 1/2c frozen mixed berries
1/4c honey or agave
1c uncooked oats
1/4c nuts (I use almonds and granola)
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4tsp cinnamon
1c milk (any type will work!)
4 eggs
1tsp Vanilla extract


Prep: Preheat the oven at 375* and grease a baking pan (8x8 or 9x9)

Coat the bananas with 1/4tsp cinnamon and 1tbsp honey, place at the bottom of the pan.


Sprinkle half of the berries on top and place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the bananas get soft.


While that is in the oven, combine the oats, half the nuts, baking powder and cinnamon; mix together. In a separate bowl, mix together the honey, milk, eggs and vanilla. 

Remove the bananas from the oven, pour the oat mixture over the bananas and spread evenly. Then, pour the milk mixture over that. Sprinkle the remaining berries and nuts over top (I place granola at this step for extra crunch!)


Cover the mixture and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with honey or syrup to top!



Side note and totally unrelated to delicious breakfasts...we say a HUGE hornet? nest up there!


Have a great week everyone!




Monday, November 4, 2013

Oh, Hallow's Eve.

As per usual, my friends and I went all out on Halloween. Hinting on our love of childhood memories, we played on a past theme and went with Disney Villians. Can you tell who is who in the photo below?!


Everyone nailed it, if I do say so myself. 


Can ya tell who the boyfriend is?


A popular theme this year, minions! But I especially love the Gru costume!


This one is just hysterical because that beautiful lady is from Austin, MN (home of SPAM!)



Also a tradition, dressing up for our soccer game. Cruella would have been a bit difficult in cleats running around, so in an effort to wear my forever lazy (if you recall it was a key ingredient to my last year's costume) I went as a Care Bear! I would like to note that we have a history of losing our Halloween Game (probably a combination of running in a costume and laughing at a Winnie the Pooh, or a Peter Pan run across the field)...BUT this year we TIED. So we have that going for us...