Friday, September 30, 2011

Mason Jar Candles Part 2

My friend Melanie came over last night to watch Project Runway and eat Taco Bell (our faves), but she also came to make candles like the one I made in my last post. But the candles we made last night turned out even cooler than my first one! Why, you ask?

Well ...
#1 Because Melanie was there! AND....
 #2 CRAYONS!

Yep this time, we melted crayons in with the wax and made these pretty, colorful candles! Bryan actually suggested that I try this last time, but I was too afraid it would be a fire hazard or something. But Melanie said that she read about using crayons for candles online, and since everything we read online is true, we went for it! ;)

Melanie even brought over another fragrance- Apple Blossom! They smell really good and they're seasonally appropriate since it's apple picking season.



Bryan helped us make the little cardboard things to keep the wick in place again. He is so cool <3

I LOVE the way these look and smell. I can't wait to make more- and believe me, I have PLENTY of candle wax left!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mason Jar Candles

I love doing all kinds of craft projects. Unfortunately, when you try too many different crafts you usually end up with a bunch of unused supplies all over your house. That is definitely the case with me. I really want to either use up these supplies or get rid of them.

Lately, I've been burning candles a lot. I just love the way they make our house smell! Bryan noticed how much I've been burning them and suggested I use all of the paraffin wax I had sitting around in the closet to make some candles.

WAIT- You might be wondering, why did I have such a large amount of wax sitting in the closet? Long story short I bought it for a crayon project I was attempting, and I didn't end up needing it. So.....there you have it... Bryan had broken it into smaller pieces for easier storage:

I also had some gingerbread latte scented fragrance oil laying around.

WAIT Why do I have fragrance oils sitting around??? Well that's from when I was making soap. What can I say? I like to make things!

I got this particular scent from a store on Etsy, unfortunately I don't think it exists anymore.


Bryan also came up with the BRILLIANT idea to make the candles in mason jars! I have a serious obsession with anything in mason jars, so I knew I had to do it.

I went to Michael's and bought some candle wicks and now had all of the necessary supplies. But I wasn't sure how I was going to melt the wax. The package suggests you melt the wax using a double boiler, but that sounds terrifying to me- my clumsiness mixed with boiling water and hot wax??? NO. I've melted the wax in a microwave before too, but that gets messy and dangerous.

So I looked into it, and mason jars can be used in the oven. I used a lower temperature just in case, but this made candle-making so easy. I just put some pieces of wax into the jar:


















And then put it directly into the oven (on top of a pan so it wouldn't fall over) at about 300 degrees (F). As the wax melted in the oven, I added a little more wax to make it as full as possible without overflowing.

When the wax was all melted, I took it out of the oven (VERY CAREFULLY) and mixed in some fragrance and color with an old spoon we didn't need anymore. The coloring didn't work out, but that's ok- the fragrance did!



















Then Bryan MacGyver-ed this little tool to hold the wick in place while the candle cooled down and set up. He made it with a piece of cardboard with a hole in the middle and a small binder clip to hold the wick at the right level.

An hour or to later, the candle had cooled down and the wick had stayed in place!



















This morning, I tried the candle out:

















I was so excited about how it turned out! For some reason the candle has gone out a couple of times and I've had to re-light it, but I still think this is pretty cool! Plus I'm using up some of those craft supplies I have all over the place- SCORE!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Arts and Crafts

This past week was full of fun things, including crafting and looking at some awesome art!

I went to my friend Cori's bridal shower this past Saturday, and I wanted to make the happy couple something special. I had been seeing lots of yarn wreaths online, and decided this would be a great time to make one. Another great friend- Melanie- helped me put it together, and now the two of us want one for our own front doors.


I chose to make it in fall colors- not only because it is fall now, but because it matches the beautiful color palette of their wedding.

I feel so lucky because I get to be one of her bridesmaids! I can't wait for the big day!

Sunday I went to the Strange Folk Festival, an amazing indie craft and music fair. I've attended before as a customer and once as a crafter, but this time I was volunteering as a food vendor with The Cup, a cupcake bakery that I used to work at.

There were so many different kinds of artists there and so much to see. One artist's table that I couldn't wait to stop by was Amy Pennington's. Amy is a friend of mine. She is so sweet and talented! She does lots of adorable drawings and even makes handrawn jewelry. This is the drawing that went home with me!






Isn't it so sweet?

You should really check out Amy's blog and her store on Etsy. And if you just wanna browse through all of her amazing-ness, check out her portfolio.



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Contest Winner

First of all, I really I want to thank ALL of you who entered the contest and shared my link on your Facebook with your friends. You also said super sweet things about my blog and you made me smile :)

So who won?

Well, I did a random drawing this morning and the winner is....

HEATHER OLDHAM !!

Congratulations Heather! I already know exactly what to bake for you ;)

(In Heather's Facebook post, she specifically asked for these vanilla bean cookies)



No worries if you didn't win the contest this time! I plan to hold many more fun contests here in the future! Thanks friends!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DIY Gift Wrap

As I've said before, I love mail. It may seem silly but a personalized note or package in the mail just really makes me smile. Recently, we've been wanting to send little care packages to our distant family and friends more often, just to let them know we're thinking of them. In addition to that, so many people in our lives have been throwing parties lately- bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, birthdays, and lots of other wonderful events!!! All of these parties call for fun presents!

 So with all that in mind, today I thought I would show you how I make personalized gift wrap! It's perfect for sending something special through the mail or for dressing up any party gift.


Stuff you'll need:
  • Scissors
  • A stamp
  • Ink Pad (at least one color- I used 2)
  • A roll of brown package wrapping paper*
  • Your GIFT!
  • And tape (not pictured but very necessary-HA!)

*You could use any roll of paper, but I like the brown paper because you can mail it! It also will make your print more subtle. Another thing that I like about it is that it costs like $4/roll or less and you can use it for such a long time. One roll of store-bought wrapping paper will cost you the same and be gone in a flash and usually has a seasonal pattern on it.

Step 1:
Cut a piece of your brown paper to the right size to wrap your gift. You will save yourself A LOT of time by cutting your paper first. Just try not to bend the paper as you're measuring.

Step 2:
Lay the paper flat. Use your stamp and ink pads to stamp an alternating design on your paper. Cover the entire piece of paper and let your design dry.












P.S. Don't worry if some of your prints come out uneven or imperfect (and don't try to stamp over mistakes- that will get messy quick!). When you get done with ALL of the prints, you won't even be able to see your mistakes. Okay maybe YOU will, but no one else will ;)

Step 3:
Now, just wrap up your gift! You could add ribbons or a big bow- but its so pretty on its own that you really don't need to.

There are so many ways that you could make this even more personal for the recipient. For instance, I once made wrapping paper for a wedding gift and used stamp colors that matched the wedding's color scheme.

That's what I really love about this project- your wrapping paper will be 100% unique no matter what you do!

Thanks so much for reading today! Don't forget that THIS is the last day to enter The Fall Contest!!! I will stop accepting entries at 11:59pm tonight and announce the winner TOMORROW! I'm pretty excited......I can't wait to find out who wins and what I'll be baking!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Inspired by:GLEE!

So......remember when I made that Father's Day gift inspired by the show Big Bang Theory? Well I decided to do ANOTHER crafty project based on another one of my fave TV shows.

This time I chose to use GLEE as my inspiration.

Why you ask?
Well #1. Because it is AWESOME.
And #2. Because TONIGHT is the beginning of the new season! YAY! I've been impatiently waiting!

Last season's finale was about the Glee kids going to New York!

(Photo source:Posh24.com)

It was a really cute episode filled with real New York locations, a song from Wicked, and a love story starting all over for Rachel and Finn (and much, much more...)!!!


Do you remember the adorable striped coat that Rachel wore in that episode?



(Photo source for both Rachel pics: Oh No They Didn't!)

Well THAT was my inspiration.

I really loved the colors and stripes, and tried to think of the best way to replicate it through arts and crafts (because I'm kind of crazy like that!!!). And then it came to me.....

*I SHOULD MAKE A CAKE!!!*

So I did....




I've been wanting to make one of these rainbow layer cakes for a while now, but I really didn't have a specific reason in mind.

Rachel's stripes made me think of cake layers, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to finally try this recipe out. It was really fun to make!


I colored each layer according to the colors of the coat (blue, orange, yellow and green), and then added white buttercream (theWilton recipe) to act as the white stripes.

Then, I added sprinkles...because they're pretty and they matched.

I have to be honest, my cake got a little messy and the layers were sliding apart but really...that's ok! It's still super yummy cake even if it looks like a rainbow avalanche.




I hope you get a chance to watch Glee tonight!! I can't wait! And now we'll have a delicious cake to eat while we watch!

OH AND BEFORE YOU LEAVE- be sure to enter the fall contest ! I am going to bake something yummy for one of you!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fall Contest!!

Fall weather is pretty much here, and I'm so jazzed about it. Partially because now, I can turn on the oven and bake anytime I want without our house feeling uncomfortably hot.

I love baking!!! Did you know that?
(Yes, you probably did.)

So in honor of the beauty of fall, I am holding a contest now through September 21st.

What does the winner get?
 A tasty treat baked by me!!! I've been baking a ton lately and I would really love to make something for one of you!

So what do YOU need to do to enter?
Just post one status on Facebook with my blog link in it: http://www.betweenthebluehouses.com/

Once I see your status, I'll put your name in the drawing!
* We have to be facebook friends for me to see your status, so feel free to add me if you haven't yet!! *

What will I be baking for you?
Well, it will be the winner's choice! You can choose from breads, cakes, cookies, whatever! I will have to have some limitations though. Some things I won't be able to make, or for those of you that live far away I will only be able to ship certain things. But I will definitely make sure that it is something you will LOVE! I can make lots of vegan recipes too for anyone interested!

(Oh and P.S. The pictures above are not all you have to choose from, those are just some examples of stuff I've made in the past)


So enter now! You only have until 11:59pm on Sept 21st to post your status! That's only a few days away!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

PB Fudge!!!

So if you made some home made peanut butter this week (and there's actually some left) here's a really easy, DELICIOUS recipe for peanut butter fudge that you can use it in!

I have always loved fudge. When I was a kid, my mom would only make it for special occassions. So when she did, I DEVOURED it. She would make one pan of chocolate and one pan of peanut butter. My sister would get mad at me because I wouldn't eat equally from both trays (this was her rule) and I'd hog all the peanut butter fudge before she could get to it!! Bwahaha.

I got the idea for this recipe from a vegan cookbook for college kids, and I only tweaked it a little bit. I love it because the ingredients are so convenient for me- I almost always have them on hand. Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 sticks of butter or margarine (I used margarine)
1 cup of  home made peanut butter
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

And that's all.
I know!!! It's crazy talk.

So here's what I did:

I threw my margarine into a saucepan over medium heat...

And let it get all melted down (without boiling it). It just took a minute or two.


Next I added some scrumptious peanut butter to the pot and whisked the PB and margarine together.

Then I whisked in the powdered sugar, a little at a time, on a slightly lower heat setting.
After whisking everything thoroughly, I poured the fudge mixture into a 9x9 pan and spread it out as evenly as possible. In my experience, greasing the pan is unneccesary....there's a lot of margarine in there!!

After that, I put it in the fridge for at least an hour or so. The longer it sits in there the better it will be, but I'm just so darn impatient. This is what it looks like after being in the fridge:

Here are a couple pieces of the fudge. As you can probably tell the fudge is still pretty soft. That's really just because I didn't leave it in the fridge as long as I could have. But no matter how long you leave it in there, it's delicious!

Did you ever have those yummy cups of sweet peanut butter in your school lunch when you were a kid? That's what this tastes like to me!!! YUMMMMMM!

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

MISSONI

Oh my word. Did you hear about Missoni, (a famous designer/fashion house) coming out with a line at Target? All of the pieces had awesome patterns and colors and were SO beautiful. But I had been reading all over the internet recently that most of the Missoni products flew off the shelves even faster than expected and were now being sold for up to about 3 times their actual price on Ebay. Well the good news is, the Target closest to us still had a few things left.

Some things that really took my breath away:

This coffee mug.....

















This awesome food/serving platter....
These ballet flats (only one VERY small size left!!!) and the rain boots...... DROOOOOOOL......


Well needless to say, I wanted it ALL. But I really didn't NEED any of it and I didn't want to waste any of our money.

But I may have have picked up ONE item for myself. And they may have been the LAST ones on the rack.

Yes they're socks. And yes, they're beautiful. And YES, they are SPARKLY. <3

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

About a year ago, a really good friend of mine graduated college (go girl!) and I painted this as a surprise for her:

She's always loved bright colors and cherry blossoms, so I just kind of went from there. I was so excited to learn that it matched her room too; I didn't even know! :)

So recently, she asked if I could do another painting for her- well really for her boyfriend!

She told me that he loved the book "Atlas Shrugged" (by Ayn Rand) and that he had been eyeing this huge replica of the book's cover on the wall at Barnes and Noble. Have you seen the HUGE classic book covers on the wall there??? They're really pretty cool. But not available for purchase, as my friend found out (Yes, she asked).

So here is the specific book cover she asked me to paint:















So far this is what I have done:

Still VERY much a work in progress, but I'm excited about the way it's going.

On another note, school has me pretty stressed out lately but I'm just very thankful for my husband and others who care about me and help me through stressful times. A special thank you to our gospel community friends from our awesome church for listening to me freak out about school last night. God has really blessed me and Bryan with a great community of loving people.

Anyway, I'm going to stop stressing now and look at a cute picture of Ollie cuddling up with a quilt. AH, yes. That's much better.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Home Made PB!!!

I love peanut butter. I also REALLY love making my own peanut butter at home.

Since I showed you how I make vegetarian/vegan chili yesterday, I thought it was only appropriate to share how I make peanut butter today. Why, you ask?

Well if you went to school with me in GC, you know we are accustomed to having chili and peanut butter sandwiches for school lunch. I thought it was totally normal to pair the two of them up, but since then I've learned that it's not all that common. So is it a midwest thing, an Illinois thing or a GC thing? Let me know!!! I'm curious!

Anyway, whether you pair it with chili or think that sounds absolutely disgusting, here's how to make some home made PB:

I start with a container of roasted UNSALTED peanuts:


















Then I dump all the peanuts into our food processor (one of my favorite appliances):
Then I turn the processor on and let it start to break down the peanuts. This will be VERY loud and your dog (if you have one) will not like it. Just give him/her a taste of the PB later and they'll forgive you.

While the peanuts are still being ground up, I pour in some peanut oil through the little spout on top of the processor (see below). I don't really measure it, I just add a little at a time.

(and yes, that IS an pink octopus dish scrubber on the left):















Here's me pouring it in:
Then I pour in some honey, using the same pouring method. If you don't want to use honey, you might be able to use maple syrup, agave nectar, or molasses. I haven't tried these yet, but maybe I will soon. I just wouldn't use granulated sugar. I guess you could skip sweetening it altogether, but that's a bit too bland for me.



















I also add a little salt! I pour it in through the spout as well so the salt gets dispersed well.
I'm not giving any measurements on the ingredients because, honestly, it's a matter of personal taste. That's the best part about making your own PB! I just keep tasting it as I go.

If you want it creamier- add more liquid (oil and honey) and blend it longer. I don't know if it will ever get 100% creamy, mine is always atleast a little crunchy.

If you want it sweeter or saltier add some more honey or salt, accordingly.

And if you want it super crunchy, blend it less and use less liquid!

Here's how mine turned out:
Well it looks a little messy here, but it's DELICIOUS! Let's put it in a mason jar so it looks really adorable:
MMMMM... perfection.

(And yes, that is a blue whale can opener on the right hand side)

See you soon!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Making Dinner!

I just finished making dinner....

VEGETARIAN/ VEGAN CHILI!!! :)

It's delicious and super easy to make:


That's pretty much all I did! I found the Chili Mix (on the left) at Schnuck's and was so surprised to find out there wasn't any meat in it! You could add meat if you wanted though. There's just a lot of spices and peppers and vegetables inside! It's much tastier than trying to make the chili seasonings/sauce myself. Trust me, I've tried. Though I'm sure other people do it well (JUST NOT ME!).

 I added Boca's Ground crumbles (Right). It's supposed to sort of be like ground beef. It's yummy! I also added a can of black beans and a can of kidney beans. So now I have a GIGANTIC pot of chili!! It is REALLY, REALLY good!!!



Bryan and I made a really delicious dinner last night too! I'm enjoying getting back into the groove of cooking and baking, even though school has me pretty busy right now!

I hope you're having a good week!
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