Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Printable Non-Candy Valentines For School

My son's class has a no candy policy for valentines this year.  Luckily, I found these cute little printable arrow valentines that you attach a pencil to, via Sweet Muffin Suite (also available in a primary colors version).  

Here we are putting them together.  A little last minute so luckily these were so quick and easy!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Jeans Frustrations

This post really has nothing to do with the normal things that I blog about and I don't know if anyone will even read it.  But I'm irritated.   I have some things to get off of my chest, and well, hey, I have access to a place where I can, I guess, write about whatever I want.  

So, here's the deal - I am SO FRUSTRATED with jean manufacturers, but namely, in this instance, The Gap.  I have several pairs of Gap jeans.  They have a few styles that seem to fit my body.  Now, here's what annoys me - I have Gap jeans in 4 entirely different sizes.  I have size 4, size 6, size 8, and size 10 currently in my closet and that currently fit.  I'm not talking about different sizes in your closet because you've gained/lost weight at some point.
(On a side note, I'm only sharing my jean sizes to illustrate a point.  Oh and I love those size 4's, the 10's not so much).

Ok, now 4 different sizes from the same manufacturer is just ridiculous!  I can understand that there may be some variance in sizing across brands (actually there's a huge variance across brands), but you would think within a brand things would be somewhat consistent.

But this isn't even the end of the craziness.  I finally thought I had figured out what sizes in what styles I wore within the Gap brand (went to the store and tried a ton on).  I was about a 4 in the Long and Lean, a 6 in the curvy, etc.  So when they had a huge online sale, thinking I knew what I was doing, I ordered 3 new pairs.  All 3 pairs were the same style and matched a style I already owned and liked, they were just different washes/colors.  Got them in the mail and only 1 pair fit!  The other 2 will be returned.

Can someone please explain this to me.  (Not that you can convince me that this is not insanity.)

Why can't jeans manufacturers just make it easy on us and at least make an effort to standardize things?   

But I guess if you're looking for a moral to this story, it really is true that the number means NOTHING!  (but I still like my size 4's better than those size 10's)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pinterest Success: Killer Cream Cheese Frosting

Warning:  There is nothing low-fat, low-calorie, or diet friendly about this recipe.
With that said, IT IS YUMMY!

I re-pinned a delicious looking cream cheese frosting recipe to my Sweets board on Pinterest a while back.  
The original recipe is from Not So Humble Pie.  She uses it on cinnamon rolls (which is delicious, I tried it) but it also makes a great cake frosting.  It is now my go-to cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Organizing With Kids - 1 Tip That Works For Me

My house is far from the most organized home ever.  In fact, it's generally a bit messy, a little unorganized.  So when I find an organizing tip, trick, or method that works, I get pretty excited.

One big issue in my house, is that the kids tend to leave stuff laying all over the place.  And I get really tired of picking it up and carting it all back to their rooms a million times a day.
So I bought 2 cute bins (from Marshalls) and placed them by the stairs leading to the kids' bedrooms.  Whenever I find stuff that needs to be returned to their bedrooms, I toss it in the bin.  At the end of the day, they're responsible for emptying their bin and putting their stuff away.  Items that are left and not put away are either tossed or donated  (sometimes they get a warning first if I'm feeling nice).

This has really helped in our house to keep the amount of random stuff laying around at a minimum.  And saves my sanity a bit.

Already found today - a hat, some paper and markers, pajamas . . . 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Just Call Me MacGyver: A DIY Macro Lens For Your Phone

This project is crazy cool, I love it, and I hope you do too.
Ever wanted to shoot those super close-up macro photos?
Well, it's so easy with your phone camera and a cheapo laser pointer (my laser pointer cost $1).  

*** Note:  This is not my original idea.  I found this tutorial on  View it here for full instructions ***

You're basically going to remove the lens from the laser pointer and place it over the lens of your camera.
It's very MacGyver-esque.  But the results are so cool!

My MacGyver-ed phone.  Yes, it's held together with a bobby pin and painter's tape.

And here are a few photos that I took with it (first photo without the macro lens and second photo with it attached)  I did absolutely zero editing on these :

And a couple of mystery photos for you:

Anyone have any guesses on what these 2 are?

A couple of notes about this project and using the lens:
1.  Taking the laser pointer apart is the hardest part of this project.  I used plyers, wire cutters, and a needle, and basically just demolished the entire thing.  I went through 2 laser pointers before I got the lens out without damaging it.  Luckily the pointers were only $1 a piece.
2.  When taking pics with the lens, good light helps
3.  You also have to hold the camera/phone pretty still to keep it from blurring.  It can be tricky, but it's not impossible.  Try to find a way to prop the camera/phone on something to reduce movement.  I used my leg for a few of these pics.
4.  Get really, and I do mean really, close to the item you're photographing.  Like, almost touching close.
5.  This lens will allow you to take really extreme close-ups but there's not a lot of control.  You can't zoom in or out like you can with a normal camera lens.  And there's no backing away to get a little less close-up - you'll lose focus.

Hope you have fun with this!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Do You Instagram?

a few of my recent Instagram pics 

I recently upgraded to a smartphone (probably one of the last people on the planet to do so).  Which gave me access now to Instagram.  Of which, I had heard and read much about, but was yet to experience for myself.  
Now I'm on a mission to figure it all out.  At first glance it seems simple enough:  take a photo with your camera, upload it, apply a few fun filters, and share with others.  Which, I'm sure, is a perfectly acceptable way to do it.  But then there are also a bazillion other apps that you can get to go along with it - apps with more filters, apps that add text, apps that size, apps that make collages, apps to help you find hash tags.  I even found an app that appears to allow you to harrass people who unfollow you on Instagram.  

In an effort to explore Instagram, and also to learn how to use the camera in my phone most effectively, I've decided to try a 1 month Instagram Photo Challenge.  I'm doing this one from Fat Mum Slim.  You're given a prompt each day of the month of something to photograph.  
Here's my Day 1 photo for February.  The prompt was Fork.
If you're on Instagram and would like to follow along, my user name is jennbrasher.  And you can see all of the Photo a Day photos at #fmsphotoaday or #fmsphotoadayfeb.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

In Progress: Knitting, & Knitting, & Knitting Some More

I think I must be the world's slowest knitter.  Seriously.  I'm trying to make a scarf for my husband and it is taking FOREVER.  How does anyone ever  accomplish a full on sweater?

I've been working on this since before Christmas (it was supposed to be a Christmas gift) and this is as far as I've gotten.  I guess I'll just keep plugging away.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Boots: NOT a thrift store score

But I do love them
I used some Christmas money to invest in my first pair of Ugg boots.
And I see why they're called uggs - because UGH, I may never wear real shoes again.
They're like a cozy little nest for my feet!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


So this is what I've been dealing with the last couple of days.  Yeah, that's a big empty hole where the back window of my car should be.  And, in case you weren't already aware, don't try backing out of the garage with the rear gate up.  It doesn't work well.

Friday, January 25, 2013

30 Days For 30 Dollars: Day 16

Day 16:  For Baby

Is there anything cuter than chubby little baby legs????

Maybe chubby little baby legs wrapped in itty bitty leg warmers.

This is a super easy project.  I started with knee high socks from the dollar store ($1 per pair).
Chop the foot off, run a zig zag stitch across the raw edge, and done!

If you stretch the fabric as you sew, you'll get this lovely little ruffled edge (or technically, a lettuce stitch, I think).

This project comes via Calico and you can see more details plus in progress photos on her blog.  Oh, and she has pics of an adorable little baby wearing her diy leg warmers if you want to see what they look like on.  

Total spent:  $1.00 per pair

Day 1:  Pretty Hair Ties 1.00
Day 2:  Pin Cushion 1.00
Day 3:  Cowl 1.50
Day 4:  Apron 1.00
Day 5:  Baby Hat .75
Day 6:  Wine Charms 1.00
Day 7:  Pot Holders 0.00
Day 8:  Easy Tote  1.00
Day 9:  Lunch Sack 2.00
Day 10:  Peter Pan Collar Necklace 0.00
Day 11:  Patchwork Ornaments 1.00
Day 12:  DIY Cookie Tray 2.00
Day 13:  Recycled Gift Tags 1.00
Day 14:  Crochet Hoops 0.00
Day 15:  Crocheted Coffee Sleeves 0.00
Day 16:  Itty Bitty Leg Warmers 1.00

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Organized Kids Closet

Oh how I wish I had taken a before picture of my son's closet.  But let me assure you, prior to this project, it was an awful, messy, inefficient, waste of space.
But, no more!
One of my New Year's goals was to get it organized and functional.

So with some Pinterest inspiration . . . 

. . . and some Closetmaid organizers from Target (which are assemble yourself but were SO EASY) . . . 

. . . we now have a well organized closet!
Ahh, I feel like I can breathe when I walk into the room.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cozy Winter Dress Refashion

At the thrift store, this dress went into my cart, out of my cart, into my cart, out of my cart.  And finally into my cart one last time.  I knew I had an idea for this school marm-ish dress but whether or not I could actually get it to look like my vision was anything but certain.  Luckily it turned out pretty much how I had hoped.  

Here's what I did:  
1.  Detached the skirt from the bodice by unpicking the stitches 
2.  Took some length off of the botom of the skirt and added it to the waist  to bring the waist down to my natural waist (it was kind of empire to begin with).
3.  Added a few darts to the front for a fitted look
4.  Reattached the skirt to the bodice, adding a few extra gathers as I went to adjust for the new, smaller waist.
5.  Hem to desired length.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Needlepoint Clock Make-Over

I snagged this needlepoint clock at the thrift store for about $5.  Here's what it looked like when I brought it home:

Dull, brown frame, broken hand, and I'm pretty sure the clock mechanism probably didn't work (I didn't have the right type of battery to check it).

For barely more than the cost of a battery, I bought a new clock kit from Hobby Lobby, although I was able to re-use the hands.  Then the frame got a few coats of bright white paint.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

30 Days For 30 Dollars: Day 15

Day 15:  For the Starbucks Lover

If you're trying to encourage environmental-friendliness, re-usable cups are probably ideal.  But in the interest of convenience, these little coffee sleeves are easy to tuck in to a tote, pocket, or purse.  And at least you're saving the disposable paper sleeves.  (And they're way more fun than the paper sleeves!!)

I used this basic tutorial to make my sleeves.  The trick is to use a smaller hook for the chain row (and I did my first row with the smaller hook as well), then switch to a larger hook for the remainder.  This will give you a narrower bottom edge, just like a cup.  You can pretty much use this idea for any crochet stitch or pattern.  I also added a little cross stitch embellishment to a few.  

Note:  Depending on the type of yarn that you are using (I was just using scrappy bits), you may have to adjust the size hook and beginning chain number.

Total Spent:  Zero dollars 
(But if you have a bigger budget, it would be fun to tuck a Starbucks gift card in with these)

Day 1:  Pretty Hair Ties 1.00
Day 2:  Pin Cushion 1.00
Day 3:  Cowl 1.50
Day 4:  Apron 1.00
Day 5:  Baby Hat .75
Day 6:  Wine Charms 1.00
Day 7:  Pot Holders 0.00
Day 8:  Easy Tote  1.00
Day 9:  Lunch Sack 2.00
Day 10:  Peter Pan Collar Necklace 0.00
Day 11:  Patchwork Ornaments 1.00
Day 12:  DIY Cookie Tray 2.00
Day 13:  Recycled Gift Tags 1.00
Day 14:  Crochet Hoops 0.00
Day 15:  Crocheted Coffee Sleeves 0.00

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

30 Days For 30 Dollars: Day 14

Day 14:  Gifts For Girls

1 pair of hoop-style earrings (from my jewelry box)
fine crochet thread (on hand)
a teeny tiny crochet hook (on hand)

I'm not sure of the number of this hook, but as you can see it is really tiny.

1.  Draw a loop up and onto the hoop.
2.  Single crochet around the hoop.  Crochet enough stitches to cover approximately half of the hoop.  Count your stitches and write this number down so that you can make the second  hoop the same.
3.  Turn and single crochet across.
4.  Turn.  For the final row:  sk 1, sc, sk 1, *5dc in next stitch, sk 1, sc, sk1*.
(You may have to make a few little adjustments to get it to come out even at the end.  Just skip an extra stitch or add one in - it won't be noticable.
5.  Weave in ends
6.  Repeat with second hoop.
7.  Optional:  Paint on some sugar water and let dry to stiffen the crochet a bit. (more info here)

Total Spent:  0.00

Day 1:  Pretty Hair Ties 1.00
Day 2:  Pin Cushion 1.00
Day 3:  Cowl 1.50
Day 4:  Apron 1.00
Day 5:  Baby Hat .75
Day 6:  Wine Charms 1.00
Day 7:  Pot Holders 0.00
Day 8:  Easy Tote  1.00
Day 9:  Lunch Sack 2.00
Day 10:  Peter Pan Collar Necklace 0.00
Day 11:  Patchwork Ornaments 1.00
Day 12:  DIY Cookie Tray 2.00
Day 13:  Recycled Gift Tags 1.00
Day 14:  Crochet Hoops 0.00

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thrift Store Score: Vintage Kitchen

I'm kind of excited about these finds!  The cherry bowl is Fire King and the covered sunflower casserole is Pyrex.  They're both in awesome condition, especially the casserole which looks like it's never been used.
$5 each:  a definite score!