Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Easy Chalkboard Labels

I am so excited for the Winter Pinterest Challenge from Young House Love, Bower Power,  The Remodeled Life, and Decor and the Dog! If you follow us on instagram (pinstersisters) - you might have noticed that I busted out the chalk  board paint again when I posted this pic a couple weeks ago:

Anything with chalkboard paint is the definition of a Pinterest project, right? Well it all started with my 2013 goals.  Remember how I said I wanted to help keep my closets organized? Well I had cleaned out my coat closet at the end of last year but it didn't feel complete. I saw this pin and knew it would help me achieve the goal:

Source: Make Life Lovely. Laura has a lot of fun ideas on her blog, you should check it out!
I already had baskets lined up across the top shelf. The problem is, while I knew what was in them, Joe did not. So every time he went looking for his gloves or JJ's sneaks, he was pulling everything down and messing it all up. Labels would help solve this problem.

While I was at Michaels to purchase my Valentine's Day photo shoot supplies, (seriously, I should invest in Michaels stock), I scanned the wood crafts aisle for something to use. I am not sure what these things are actually called, but they are super thin like those balsa wood airplanes and were between $0.37 and $0.50 each. I already had the paint and ribbon, so this was a super cheap project.

This was after one coat. Very streaky.

3 coats - good enough!
After 3 coats (that took less than 5 minutes each to do), I let them dry for a couple days. Then I had to figure out how to get a hole in them. I considered letting Joe drill them, but they are so thin it felt really silly to go through all that trouble. So I decided to try my heavy duty three-hole puncher.

The hole came out a little larger than I would have wanted, but it was quick and easy. Next step was to "season" them. Just rub the side of a stick of chalk over them and rub it off with a paper towel.

"Seasoning" the chalkboard.
Just add some ribbon and they are good to go!

Hats are all the way to the left. JJ's stuff contains his hats, sneakers, mittens, etc. Flags are seasonal garden flags for out front next to the porch and gloves are pretty self explanatory.

You may be wondering about this monster basket and plastic box. Joe is ridiculously serious about emergency preparedness ever since Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Sandy from last year. We are well stocked with D batteries, extra light bulbs, flashlights, extension cords, and his work gloves and instruction manual for our generator. Its all kept here in case we (he) need to spring into action.

There are command hooks on the door to hold JJ's little coats. They tended to get lost in between our coats when they were on the adult sized hangers when I tried to hang them up on the bar. I keep our vacuum, carpet steamer, and the shoes we use most often in the bottom.

Like I said, super easy project that probably cost me less than $5 and an hour collectively. I have a bunch more made and ready to use once I get the organization bug again and attack another closet. Looking at these pictures, I am thinking it might be fun to paint a different color in the back of the closet. Or maybe a stencil? It looks kind of boring, right? Thoughts?

I am linking this up to the Pinterest Challenge and I think Shannon is linking up her awesome Book Shelf Upgrade. We can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cheap/Easy Bookshelf Update

One of my resolutions this year was to improve the decor of my apartment. The idea was to make my apartment look less dorm like and more young professional without spending a lot of money.

This past weekend I set out on making some minor improvements. My first priority was doing something about my cheap-o Target book shelf.

I've had this bookcase for over three years. I use it to store books (obviously) and I use the top to hold my makeup. There’s a mirror hanging right above and that’s where I get ready in the morning.

I’m changing up the look of my room and want to go with brighter colors. Originally, I wanted to paint the bookcase white and put some sort of pattern on the back. 

I found a great tutorial on how to paint laminate furniture.
And I saw this pin about attaching fabric to the back of a book case.

However, I rethought the idea of painting the bookcase for two reasons. First, I live in an apartment with no porch or yard. I don’t really have any room to be painting furniture. Secondly, I noticed the shelves were starting to bow and it didn't seem worth it to put in effort for a bookcase that was falling apart.

I decided to see what else I could find, knowing that I didn't want to spend a lot of money. Thankfully, I found the same bookcase in white at Target for $21.99. Not too shabby!

I still wanted to jazz up the back of the bookcase with some fabric. I recently bought a new comforter for my bed. It’s a pale/mustardy yellow.

(For some reason the lighting in the pictures is wonky. But trust me; it’s a pale yellow with a white pattern.)

I like the combination of yellow & grey so I tried to look for a grey fabric to attach to the back of the bookcase. There aren't any fabric stores near me (that I’m aware of) so I decided to use a shower curtain as fabric (again). I got this cute curtain from HomeGoods for $14.99. I liked that it was grey and I think the pattern is vaguely reminiscent of the pattern on my comforter.

Sorry- not sure why so many of my pictures are blurry

Prior to assembling the book case, I attached the fabric to the backing. To do so, I laid the backing down over the fabric, and used it as a template to cut the shower curtain.

I made sure to iron the fabric. Then using a spray adhesive, I attached the fabric to the backing.

I assembled the bookcase as directed. It’s a very simple item to put together. However, I did run into one little snafu when attaching the backing to the case (of course!). I must not have been paying attention too closely because in two spots I hammered the nail in crocked and it popped out the side.

Whomp Whomp. 

I’m planning on getting some clear nail polish to put over top so it doesn't get worse. It’s disappointing that this happened but its very minor. From the front the book case looks great.

I’m loving the fabric I picked out! Now I just need to figure out what to do with all the extra I have left over. I’m thinking I may try and make some picture frames with it or use it on a lamp shade.

I think it looks way better then the old bookcase.

And this book case cost me only $36.98! I think its quite the improvement. What do you think? Anyone else been making quick, cheap updates to their furniture?

Update: If you like this post, check out the bookends I later made to go on the shelves!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bikini Challenge- January Update

Although my original Bikini Ready post didn't go up until February 1st. I actually wrote it about a week ahead of time, so I wanted to give an update of how I did in the month of January. If you’ll remember, I’m trying to give up a different food related item a month until summer hits.

January was my first month and I gave up fast food. I did really well. I stayed on course and didn't eat any BK or McDonald's that month! Although, in the interest of keeping it real - I didn't start the challenge until about the second week of January. Small victories…

I’ll be back with an update at the end of February with how I’m doing. If you follow me on instagram (sborden86 or pinstersisters) then you already I haven’t been doing that well.

I can't resist Sabatinos!

In an effort to keep myself accountable from now on, I’m going to be posting my weight with each update. Here’s where I stand right now:

In case you can't read it, it says 146.8lbs. Also, yes I know, I have freakishly
large feet -I'm 5'9 they have alot to hold up!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Brownie Hearts and Brownie Bites

Remember that bake sale I mentioned a week or so ago? Well, in addition to making the failed heart shaped cupcakes, I also made some heart shaped brownies.

The idea came from this pin from Martha Stewart for Brownie Hearts and Brownie Bites.

Martha Stewart
Instead of using Martha’s recipe, I decided to make the Oreo Brownies with Buttercream Frosting that I've made in the past. I didn't take any process pictures of making the brownies, but if you’d like to see the recipe you can check out that post.

I whipped up the Oreo Brownies and let them cool. Thankfully, I happened to have a heart shaped cookie cutter, so I used that to cut the brownies up.

I had some red food dye on hand so I used that to turn the butter cream pink.

I just did a light pink.

I iced the brownies…

then topped with crumbed Oreos.

I had some left over brownie pieces from in between the heart cutouts. Martha suggests rolling up the left over brownie into balls and covering in coco or sugar to make brownie bites/truffles. I gave it go.

The brownies did not roll up nicely. I couldn't get them to form perfectly round. Nonetheless, I covered them in Hershey’s coco.

They were okay. I thought the coco was a bit over powering. Perhaps they would be better covered in sugar? I only made a few of them so I didn't bring them to be sold at the bake sale, just the brownie hearts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Egg Free Dough Dips

Shannon's Funfetti Cake Batter Dip is one of our post popular posts ever (her coconut oil hair treatment is getting pretty popular now too) - its not surprising, who wouldn't want to eat cake batter as a treat? Since we live a couple states apart, I never got to try it. I came across this pin from Willow Bird Baking awhile back and figured I would get to try a cake batter dip and a couple others as well.

They are all egg free so they are intended to be consumed raw.*

The annual Wine and Cheese Christmas Party I have with my girlfriends every January seemed like the perfect time to try them out. You may remember last year I made these chocolate gooey butter cookies for the same party.

I started with the chocolate chip cookie dough dip.
After I creamed the butter and sugar together, I added the dry ingredients. It was super powdery and I was afraid I was off to a bad start.
But after what I think was 4 tablespoons of water (added one at a time), I got a nice consistency. I made it a littler runnier than what cookie dough should be in hopes that it would be easier to dip.

Here it is all pretty and on my serving dish:

The other two dips went pretty much the same. Here's a pic of the powdery stage of the sugar cookie dip:

That powdery mess turned into this delicious looking dip:

I definitely used a little more than the 2 tablespoons from Julie's recipe. Lastly was the cake batter dough:

It looks almost the same as the sugar cookie dough but you can see the sprinkles in there. This one used more water than called for as well. Here is the final cake batter product:

Here they are all together. I had the perfect three-slot dish I use for my Christmas dinner mashed potato and sweet potato bar fixings. Don't they look delicious??

When I was at the store grabbing the funfetti cake mix, I picked up some chocolate teddy grahams, pretzels, and vanilla wafers as dippers.

The Verdict: They were absolutely delicious and possibly addicting. I heard a lot of "they remind me of dunkaroos" which just brought me back to middle school. I am not the only one who would take the tiniest amount of frosting with each cracker and then on the last one take the entire scoop of the frosting that was left, am I?

Things to consider: They were a little more work than Shannon's first post, but still pretty easy. With the exception of the cake batter dip, I had everything else I needed in my pantry. They were a bit on the hard side for dipping (I had them in the fridge after I made them but thought they would thaw out a bit on my drive to Hoboken). I was afraid the sugar cookie and funfetti doughs would taste too similar, but they had two distinct tastes. Also, each batch made a little less than double what you see here. What I couldn't fit got sent to my cousin Claire's new house on her move in day (remember her Now-and-Later Cookies housewarming gift?) for her and her helpers. All in all, I will definitely be making these again, maybe for a future book club.

As always, the party was a fun time. Thanks for hosting Mary Claire! I thought I was slick by "stealing" a gift this year but joke was on me, it was stolen from me too. I had a brand new silpat mat (side note: anyone have any experience with those? should I invest in one?) and cupcake carrier in my hands before it was taken. I wound up with a great gift in the end: a bottle of prosecco, a gift certificate for a great restaurant, and an excuse to go back to Hoboken for brunch!

Egg Free* Dough Dips
from Julie at Willow Bird Baking

Chocolate Chip:
Yields: about 1 1/2-2 cups cookie dough
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (a few people have found this to be too much; if you want, just add a pinch and increase to taste. I add the full 1/2 teaspoon and enjoy it!)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (again, you might want to add this a teaspoon at a time to taste. I add the full tablespoon and enjoy it!)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the flour, salt, vanilla and chocolate chips. Add water one tablespoon at a time (stirring between each) until the dough reaches cookie dough consistency.

Sugar Cookie:
Yields: about 1 1/2-2 cups cookie dough
1 1/3 cups and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1-2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes until light, fluffy, and pale yellow. Mix in flour and vanilla. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each, until you reach cookie dough consistency.

Cake Batter:
Yields: about 1 1/2-2 cups cookie dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cake mix
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sprinkles
4-8 tablespoons water
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes until light, fluffy, and pale yellow. Mix in salt, flour, cake mix, sprinkles, and vanilla. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each, until you reach cookie dough consistency.

*Julie does use the following disclaimer which I guess I should repeat. Clearly, though, I was not concerned: "Note: Since posting this recipe, scientisty types have also found that raw flour — just like produce — can carry E.coli if it’s been contaminated with it. This article suggests that the risk is even smaller than the tiny risk of getting Salmonella from eating cookie dough with raw eggs, but it’s still there and I wanted you to know about it. "

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