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Pretty Pretty Bows

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I want you guys to know something about my latest crafting adventure.  It was not easy.  It actually took a lot more brain power than most of my projects.  HOWEVER – take it as a testament to how much I love all of you readers that I persevered through the challenges and ultimately prevailed to bring you… TA DA!  Felty gift bow thingies.  I probably need to work on a title for this sucker but we’ll leave it for now.

Sometimes I browse around on crafting sites and blogs wishing I could buy everything I see!  Lately I’ve been seeing tons of felt flowers and bows popping up that I absolutely love to today I sat down with nothing but determination and some craft supplies to figure out how to make some gift bows out of felt.  I’m going to try to consolidate my trial and error and bring to you, my dear wonderful readers, nothing but felt bow win.

Start out with a few blue felt strips about 4 1/2 inches long.  I cut four but only used three.

Next, sew the three strips into circles.  In the picture, I have an extra little loop that I didn’t end up using because it was too small so disregard it, but we’ll come back to the concept a little later.

Fold the circles so that the middle portion is flat and stitch them together.  Stagger them so that the ends peek through each other.  When making your stitches, you don’t need to make a ton of stitches because it will hold together pretty easily.  Don’t worry too much about “stitching outside the lines” because you’ll cover the stitches up later!

Cut another three strips, this time just about 6 inches each.  I cut the three at slightly different lengths, the shortest being 6 inches.  Each one was just a tad bigger than the last because I figured it would take just a little more fabric to wrap around the bow as it got bigger.

Again, sew these into circles, lay them flat, and sew them into the bow.  Stagger them the same way you staggered the first three circles.

The last step is to sew a little loop in the top if the bow.  It finishes the bow and acts as a coverup for all of the ugly stitches you’ve inevitably made throughout.  Stitch one end of the felt into the bow first and then loop it around and make another few stitches to hold it all together.

There are loads of things you could do with this from here – add it to a headband or a safety pin oooor whatever the heck else you feel like doing with it.

Heidi

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AAAAAAAHHH!!! BREAD!!!

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On my quest to become the High King of man-food, there have been ups (my pretzels) and downs (BAKED potato chips). I’ve gained a lot of insight, some good culinary wisdom from some good sources, and, of course, sustained more than my fair share of grease burns. So many grease burns. But I’m starting to get a handle on my style, and I’m picking up, slowly but surely what the right way and what the wrong way is. Having proved myself in the fried arena, I’m moving on to pizza night, and all that it entails, including the always imperative bread loaf.

I stumbled across a simple yet delicious recipe last week, focusing searches on ingredients I had laying around:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water (100 degrees F/40 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 cups bread flour, or as needed
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
 

Directions

  1. Mix warm water with sugar in a large mixing bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the water, and let stand until the yeast begins to form a creamy layer on the water. Stir the yeast into the water. Stir in salt, and 1 cup of bread flour, and beat the flour in to form a loose batter. Stir in 1 more cup of flour, and mix in the mozzarella cheese, milk, and basil. Mix in the remaining 2 cups of flour in 1/2-cup additions.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface, and knead until the dough is thoroughly mixed, but still sticky, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour into the dough as you knead, if necessary. Form the dough into a ball, and place into an oiled bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl to oil the surface of the dough, and cover with a cloth. Allow to rise until double, about 1 hour.
  3. With your fist, press firmly on the dough to deflate the large bubbles. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface, and knead the dough just long enough to eliminate the remaining bubbles in the dough, about 1 minute. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces, and form each half into a round ball. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and place the balls onto the baking sheet. With a sharp knife, slash an X into the top of each loaf. Cover the loaves with a towel, and let rise until doubled, about 25 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  5. Bake the loaves until browned, about 25 minutes. To serve, cut each loaf into 8 wedges.
REAL EASY! REAL STRAIGHTFORWARD! I love it! Here’s some tips when baking this
 – Use two full packets of yeast. It’ll make the bread fluffier and spongier than the recipe indicates.
 – Of course, you’ll have to stir a bit more flour into the mix, but you’ll get BIG loaves.
 – This bread needs a dip! I’m a big fan of infused olive oil. The morning you’re gonna bake the bread, or better yet, the morning before, pour some olive oil into a jar, then drop in basil, some peppercorn, or failing this, some italian seasoning, then seal it up. When serving the bread, pour the oil into a plate for dipping, sprinkle in some more herbs, and top it off with some mozzarella or parmesan in the middle.
Hope it’s enjoyable! I’ll be writing sometime next week about a pizza attempt!
Phil

Designer Highlight – Peter Sid

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Peter Sid is a designer who I have been following for a while.  I first found out about him on a favorite website of mine and wrote about him here on my first blog.  He really is a fun and very talented designer (Obviously!  I mean, c’mon – we don’t write about just anyone on the Loftbirds blog!).  I was amazed by the chandelier he created out of chemo files.  He called it “Bottles of Hope” and used the chandelier as a way to show that cancer can be beat and something beautiful can come of it.  Geez – talk about using your powers for good.  Recently Peter contacted me recently (he found out how much I loved his designs when he found my post about him on the old blog!) and told me about some of the things he’s been working on lately.

Okay so first, you need to check out this guy’s website – especially if you’re into really modern, industrial, masculine design.  But seriously, even if that’s not your deal, he’s very talented so it would be well worth your while to browse around a bit.

The piece he wanted to show me when he sent me that message was this city scape mirror.  I simply can’t get over how amazingly talented Peter is.  Just look at the detail that went into that mirror.  It’s a laser cut mirror and the skyline is a replica of an industrial skyline in Connecticut near where he spent his childhood.

Alright, enough bursting at the seams for me.  Check it out for yourselves and let me -or better yet let Peter – know what you think!

Heidi

Why DIY?

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The deeper I get into the world of DIY, the more I want to know exactly why it is that I do what I do.  I think that for a lot of people who are DIY-ers,  it’s more than just a hobby.  There’s a lot more behind the world of DIY that makes it so appealing.  This post is about why I feel so strongly about having the ability to make and build things on my own or with the help of people I know and love.

My first reason is actually kind of a minor point, which might surprise some people that know me well, but it is my belief in supporting local business.  I was raised by an artist and so I understand the struggle of small business owners but I also understand the value they add to society.  Having a background in political science, I believe in building community and economy from the ground up.  What better way to do that than supporting local businesses that often times put right back into their communities?

Anyway, I am about to digress.  So on to point two!

The number one reason why I love DIY comes from Proverbs 31 from the Bible.  If you’re not familiar with the passage, it’s basically a description of the perfect woman (or, to be more specific, the perfect wife – talk about pressure!).  According to this passage, the perfect wife is essentially this really overwhelming woman who can do everything her family could ever possibly want or need done by herself.  It says things like “she selects wool and flax and works with eager hands” and “she considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously.”

Basically, this woman makes everything for her house by hand and never sleeps.  She’s almost completely self-sufficient.  She’s a business woman, a mother, a chef, and most importantly – a DIY-er.  It’s a lot to live up to, but it explains a lot about why I think DIY is so important.

The passage says other things about her like “she makes covering for her bed”, “she makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes” and “she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

Is anyone else stressed out by this at all?  I definitely am.

Heidi

Spoiler Alert!

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I love to make greeting cards.  I’ve tried to figure out what it is about these little boogers that I love so much – is it that I love handwritten correspondence?  Maybe because of the calligraphers in my family?  Is it because I like bold colors and geometric shapes and those things are easy peezy with greeting cards?  Psh I don’t know.  But who cares, right?  The point is I enjoy making greeting cards.  Wait – that’s not the point.  I just got on a rant about how I love making greeting cards!  The real point of this post is that a week ago I got my first real order for greeting cards!  My lovely friend Katie asked me to make her 15 cards.  I rose to the challenge and now I’m sharing them with you!

Katie, if you’re reading this and want to be surprised about what they look like, stop reading!  Stop it!

I made her a few cards folding cards and then a bunch of notecards.  They were super fun to make because I watch a ton of design shows (I’m talkin’ Project Runway and Design Star!) so I’ve been thinking about branding and creating a style and stuff that I really don’t need to be thinking about – but I am!  So I made the cards all different but with some definite similarities.

The flags are definitely becoming a signature feature on my cards, as are hearts.  However, turn your attention to my favorite card: the green one with the little red circles that look like dice from far away.  They’re actually squares cut from one of those “keep this coupon” things that you get when you enter a raffle!  I was too excited when I found them.

Hey – speaking of flags – check out this branding:

I thought it would be a nice touch to throw in some envelopes for Katie so she’ll be getting these:

And thrown together, the whole thing looks like this:

I’m very excited about the whole thing!  I hope Katie likes the cards just as much as I do!

Heidi

Registry Review

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Last week or so I promised a review on the online gift registry I had chosen to use to register for wedding gifts.  Well folks, here it is!

As you no doubt figured out (uhm, because we told you!), we ended up trying out myregistry.com for our wedding & shower registry.  Spoiler alert: overall, I think it’s fantastic.  Here are the details:

Myregistry.com is great.  It has allowed for us to sync our Crate & Barrel, Sur La Table and CB2 registries with the items we want that are on sites that don’t have registries (etsy & ikea, mainly).  But also our favorite thing on our registry so far:

(The gurgle pot, not the baby… although I can totally relate to her awe)

It has also allowed us to register for items in stores we like but that we don’t want to sign up for and get all kinds of annoying spam.  Of the sites I looked at, it offered the best selection of stores to sync with, a bonus that should definitely not be overlooked!  See, the cool thing about registering for specific stores is that a lot of them will give you a discount for 6 months – a year after you get married (bank!).  So being able to register for stores AND sync them to your online registry is definitely the best of both worlds.

I also love that you can track who has been on your registry and who has purchased things.  This immediately sounds super greedy but I promise you it’s not!  The best feature that a lot of registries offer (not just myregistry!) is the “thank you tracker” feature.  Or whatever it’s called.  It tells you who bought what to make writing thank you cards that much easier.  Imagine if you had a big shower and forgot to keep your cards with your gifts?  What a disaster!

Overall, I give myregistry.com a bunch of stars.

There are, however, a few minor issues with it.

1) It’s just a little bit difficult to navigate.  There are a lot of tabs and sometimes it can be hard to figure out just what tab will take you where you want to go.

2) It doesn’t automatically update for some stores.  If a friend buys something from a site that isn’t synced with myregistry, they have to update it themselves.  Myregistry makes this easy enough (when the buyer navigates from the main myregistry page to the other site to buy by clicking on “view of buy this gift,” another window pops up and asks if you bought the item and how many or if you were just looking.  As long as your loved ones are attentive, you shouldn’t have a problem.

That’s really about it.  Overall I think this website is wonderful!  I was super stoked when I registered for my first item:

Maybe even too excited!

I want to hear your registry stories – what did you register for that you loved?  What did you register for that was just a waste of space?  Do you even look at registries when shopping for wedding gifts?

Heidi

Always Affordable, Never Dead Flowers

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This post is living proof that you can make anything out of anything.  Seriously, if there was ever doubt, stop it.

Today, using inspiration from the Jones Design Company blog, I created the cutest and least expensive bouquet of flowers I have ever seen.  These were my materials:

  • Cardstock (approx 5 sheets)
  • Coffee filters (approx 2 filters)
  • Hot glue (always)
  • Green bendy straws ($1 if you buy an off-brand!)
  • Wire
  • and, of course, scissors!

I started out by making the flowers basically as shown in the tutorial that I found on the JDC blog.  First, cut a circle out of cardstock.  You’ll make all different size flowers so don’t worry too much about how big the circle is, although I think 8″ is typically as big as you’ll want to go.  Next, cut a spiral into the paper.  In the tutorial, she gives the option of cutting a circle and then a spiral or of just sitting a spiral right into the square piece of paper that you’re using.  I found the latter to be a bit easier for me, so try both to see which works best for you!  She also suggested using uneven edges, which gives the flower a cute effect.

Once it’s cut, roll the flower tightly starting at the outer most edge of the spiral.  Hold it for a few seconds and the release.  The rolled cardstock will unravel slightly and take the shape of a flower. If you’re using a flimsier material, like the coffee filters that I made some flowers from, you may need to hold it for just a little bit longer but it will work.  And when is a repurposed material not a welcome surprise in anything?

Then, it’s hot-glue time!  put a dab of hot glue on the base of the flower and hold the rest of the spiral on top of it for a few moments, until the flower is secure.

Here’s where I really begin to differ from the tutorial I found.  On the tutorial they used green floral wire as stems for their flowers.  I’m sure this works great – if you’ve got it.  I didn’t have it, though, so I used bendy straws!  I cut the straw at the bottom and the top (making the bloom closer to the actual bendy part) and put a ring of hot glue around the top rim of the straw.  Attach and hold.

Once you’ve got a bunch of these, hold them all together at the “stems.”  Arrange the flowers how you want them, using the bendy parts of the straws to get a more exact placement.  Then, hold all the straws together tightly (you may need someone else to hold them) and wrap wire around them several times and fasten.  Trust me on this one.  It was a total fluke that I ended up doing this but I think it was the best decision I made!  The wire really holds the straws in place much better than ribbon or tape would have and you can wrap ribbon around the wire later if you don’t like the look of the raw wire.

Then just arrange in a jar or a bookshelf….

… and enjoy flowers that won’t die!

I tried some coffee filter flowers (which worked phenomenally!) but you can use literally anything!  Try newspaper or magazine pages, birthday cards from years past, love letters, or sheet music!  The possibilities are endless.

Heidi