Finds and Favs

What I’ve bookmarked/pinned/loved this week:

30 Minute DIY Dress Tutorial

An amazing simply tutorial to DIY a cute dress with a tiny budget. I love that you can make it the length you want (I’m a tall girl and constantly have to walk away from adorable dresses because they make me look like I just stepped off a street corner). Another reason I need to find a sewing machine ASAP!

 
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 DIY Paper and Linen Art from Bryn Alexandra

Another simple, low cost tutorial with high impact results. Bryn has amazing taste and this project is no exception. I love that this could be easily recreated in any colour scheme or size by visiting a local art store.

Beer Mac and Cheese - How Sweet It Is

The perfect way to ruin your plans for healthy eating this weekend, Easy Beer Mac and Cheese from How Sweet It Is will definitely be making it to my table this weekend. I may have to eat the whole thing since the boy is SUPER lactose intolerant…what a shame really. Tons of other amazing recipes on the site too if you’re looking for something less cheese heavy (but why would you be??? Just accept the cheesy goodness).

I know what I’ll be doing this weekend! Any other recommendations of great projects from the interwebs this week?

Happy Friday everyone!

-C

How (Not) to DIY: Dip Dyed Pillow Cases

 When I originally decided to create a project based on a Pinterest image, I told myself this was a good opportunity to try something new. Challenge myself. Broaden my horizons and all that. I saw this image:

And thought it was the perfect choice. Something fun, looked like I probably couldn’t screw it up, and it gave me a change to try dip dying! Something I’d never done before.

So I headed out and picked up a couple plain white pillow cases, and a package of fabric dye in royal blue. Here was my chance to inject a little pop of color into my white and grey bedroom!! Little did I know what was to come.

I mixed together the dye as per the instructions, using an old plastic container that I didn’t mind ruining.

I put down a layer of newspaper on my outside table and went to town. This is where I ran into the first of my many issues with this project – no gloves would protect me from the dye.  Well, in the name of full disclosure, I started out with no gloves. I had a vision of myself lowering the pillow cases gently into the dye, then pulling them out with ease! Why would I need gloves?? This was going to be simple!

Turns out it was the opposite of that. The cases rested on top of the dye awkwardly and forced me to try and poke them in evenly with my fingers. Once I had turned my entire left hand blue and the pillow case was still floundering on top of the dye, I switched to rubber gloves and thought I had this in the bag.

Still no. I guess the gloves were either faulty or not completely waterproof to begin with because I then dyed my right hand blue as well. At least they matched, right? Once that happened I gave up trying to fight the dye and went with it. At this point I also gave up trying to achieve the even straight lines from the inspiration photo and just let things happen as they would. I figured I’d call it abstract art and be done with it.

Once both cases were dyed, I hung them on some old chairs in the garden to dry. I was fairly happy with the way they looked. Sure, not what I had intended, but kind of interesting none the less. I didn’t want to have blue hands and nothing to show for it, so I figured I’d give them a chance.

Once they were dry, having learned my lesson about the pervasiveness of fabric coloring, I washed them thoroughly to get out the excess dye. Well, this was the end of the line for my poor pillow covers. It seems like somehow fabric dye will stay on my hands for weeks (!!) but will wash out of fabric with the slightest amount of water.

The pillows lost so much of their deep vibrant color when I washed them. I know it was a necessary step since if I hadn’t, I would have been waking up with blue face for months to come, but still. Bummed. I’m thinking I could try and dye them a second time and hope for better results but honestly I still have nightmares of further efforts forcing me to leave society and join the Blue Man Group.

So this is my ‘lessons learned’ DIY. I’ll be stepping away from the fabric dye and into safer territory from now on. I even used a wet saw this weekend and it was AHH-MAZING. I guess we all have our projects that don’t turn out the way we imagined them, right? I read so many of these amazing blogs where people seem to execute one excellent project after another without breaking a sweat. It can be hard not to compare your own little life with all the seemingly perfect bloggers out there. I guess my point is, sometimes things don’t go as planned, sometimes the bed sheets aren’t ironed, you just gotta put it out there, let it go and move on.

Wishing you all better success in your endeavors this week.

-C

Listen: Beirut – The Rip Tide

Beirut's new album, The Rip Tide, comes out August 30.

photo from Beirut via NPR

I’m the type of person who can’t work without listening to music. I constantly have my ipod playing and at least one earbud in, blocking out the hustle and bustle of the office. Even when I’m at home I can’t be without music. I feel like my life needs a constant soundtrack in order for me to focus.

Recently, I’ve been switching from my ipod playlists to NPR when I’m at work. I love that I get to hear music which I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to, and that they don’t just play the same Rhianna song over and over again (I’m looking at you, every Montreal radio station).

NPR has some amazing features, and while I generally listen to All Songs Considered because of the variety of music they play, I’ll also check out their First Listen offerings from time to time. First Listen features include full albums, usually before their widespread release, from albums of all different genres.

This week I’ve been listening to, and loving, the new album from Beirut. I’ve never really listened to their stuff before but I love that it is a little bit uplifting, a little bit different and so, so pretty. Check it out here, hope you enjoy!

I’ve got a couple of DIY projects to write about, and some more baking, so stay tuned for that.

-C

Bake: Poppy Seed Bundt Cake with Blueberry Glaze

Sometimes I forget that the things I love about summer – Sunshine! Swimming! Heat! – come hand in hand with one terrifying, inescapable fact: bathing suits. When you’re on the paler side (read: my brown hair is the only thing between me and being albino) like me, and love your food like me, that can be a scary thing.

I can’t do too much about the paleness (I’m looking at you, Irish grandparents). So, I guess I could diet? But really. have you tasted food? It’s the best thing ever. So, I’ve come up with this foolproof plan to keep myself in bikini shape*: instead of baking typical, icing laden and chocolate filled goodies, I’ll pick recipes that involve things like fruit and berries! I’m no doctor but I’m 99% sure that fruit cancels out the calories from all other ingredients. If you are a doctor, please don’t tell me otherwise. Just enjoy your cake.

 

So, for my friend Andrea’s birthday this weekend I whipped up a cake that fit perfectly into my ‘includes berries so has no calories” – a Poppy Seed Cake with Blueberry Glaze from Joy the Baker.

 

It turned out amazing – light, moist and delicious with a hint of sweetness and zero calories (don’t quote me on that). I highly recommend it for a summer birthday, get together or Tuesday night.

 

You can even whip up your own cheery bunting banner to give it that extra kick.

Check out the recipe on Joy’s amazing site – and take a look around while you’re there. She is hilarious and comes up with all kinds of delicious treats.

The only change I made in the recipe was substituting skim milk for buttermilk, since that’s what I had on hand. 

Poppy Seed Bundt Cake with Blueberry Glaze (from Joy the Baker)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

Blueberry Glaze

  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, thawed but not drained
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons buttermilk (or regular milk is fine too)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Place a rack in the center of the oven.  Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In another medium bowl, whisk together canola oil, buttermilk, egg, vinegar, and vanilla extract.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once.  Whisk together until just combined and no lumps remain.  Stir in the poppy seeds.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cook in the pan for 20 minutes.  Carefully run a butter knife along the edges of the cake to assure that it is well loosed before inverting the cake onto a wire rack to cool.

To make the blueberry glaze:

Mash the thawed blueberries in a medium sized bowl releasing lots of dark blue juice.  Remove most of the blueberry skins from the juice and discard.  Add the vanilla extract, buttermilk and lemon.  Add the powdered sugar and whisk to combine.  If the mixture is too thick, add more milk to reach the desired consistency.  If the mixture is too thin, add just a bit more powdered sugar.

Drizzle the glaze over the completely cooled bundt cake and allow to set for 20 minutes before serving.

Happy Baking!

-C

*totally not going to keep me in bikini shape

Easy DIY Birthday Cake Bunting Banner // Pinterest Challenge Part 1

I’ll admit it, I’ve been won over by the bunting craze that seems to be everywhere on the blogs these days. The cheery little flags make everything a little more festive and upbeat.  

I’d been looking for an excuse to try my hand at creating some bunting banners after seeing so many beautiful and seeming simple tutorials on the blog. My chance came this weekend when I hosted a birthday party for my oldest friend, and of course provided the all-important birthday cake (a poppy seed cake with blueberry glaze, more on that in a later post!).

This beautiful bundt cake was the perfect place to add in some bunting, and after spending so much time on Pinterest for the Pinterest Challenge, I knew exactly how I was going to decorate my little cake.

I took inspiration from this pin:

Source: etsy.com via Christine on Pinterest

It seemed like a quick and easy way to gussy up my little summer celebration.

What you’ll need:

  • Scraps of paper
  • Writing tool to add the name on the flags (e.g. sharpie, stickers, stamps etc)
  • Scissors
  • Scrapbooking glue/tape
  • Twine or string to hang the flags
  • 2 Skewers  ( I used wooden ones that are meant for BBQ kebobs)

Here’s how:

  1. I went through my scrapbooking supplies and chose a bunch of scrap papers I had leftover from previous projects in a variety of colors – I chose white, pink, blue and purple
  2. I cut out one little flag by folding the scrap paper in half and free handing the size I wanted
  3. I then used this flag as a template to cut out the rest of the flags – enough to write out my friend’s name with a couple extra on either end
  4. I used my silver sharpie to write out the letters on each flag after deciding in what order I wanted them to hang. You could also use letter stickers or stamps, whatever you have on hand
  5. I cut out a length of bakers twine about double the width of the cake, so I had room to attach the flags and tie the twine to the supports
  6. I attached the flags to the twine by slipping them over and then putting a tiny spot of glue in between the two sides so they would stay put. Once they were all glued, I put a heavy book on top of them to make sure they dried flat
  7. After the glue was dry, I tied the twine to two wooden skewers and trimmed the twine before inserting the skewers on an angle in the cake so the bunting hung nicely

And you’re all done! So what do you think, is this bunting thing overdone? Does this count as a successful Pinterest Challenge? Because I also tried a second project which, I’ll be honest, did not go over exactly as planned. Stay tuned for that almost disaster learning experience shortly.

ETA: The projects are rolling out and they are amazing! I’m still in love with my little banner but have got a ton of inspiration to tackle something bigger with my next project. Check out this amazing work: Katie’s, Emily’s, Lana’s, and Sherry’s

-C

Weekend Update

Hello friends!

Did everyone have a nice weekend? Hopefully it was sunny where you are like it was in Montreal. As the boy is out of town, I had a productive and relaxing (I know it sounds impossible) weekend filled with puppy love, great books and fun projects. I even managed to sneak in my longest run yet (only about a month before the half marathon) and a couple amazing Moksha practices.Things I didn’t do – vacuum. Choose a picture for the blog header (I’m having such a hard time doing this – how do you pick one?? Maybe I’ll pull a Dooce and change it every month).

I’ll be posting both of my Pinterest Challenge projects this week as well as a delicious summer cake recipe. I’m excited to share them with you.  Hope your Monday is quick and painless.

-C