Wednesday, February 27, 2013

CRAFT: Repurposed Birchbox Boxes

Does anyone else have a habit of hoarding boxes the way I do?  It's so hard to find a good box when you need one, so if a fine specimen of a box happens to cross my path, I don't let that sucker out of my sight.  I've been stashing mine and my husband's empty Birchbox boxes ever since we started getting them last year.  Of course, I had no clue what I was going to use them for, but they were just SUCH GREAT BOXES that I couldn't throw them out. 

Unfortunately, the guy boxes are way more awesome than the regular old girl box.  It's like a tiny little drawer.  I saw a few of them stacked in the corner of my studio and knew immediately that I had to make a tiny little chest of drawers out of them. 

I don't know about you, but my husband tends to leave tiny things laying all over the house.. change, receipts, ticket stubs, pocket knives, ear buds.. WHATEVER.  So I thought giving him a tiny chest of drawers like this to use will help him keep organized and help me keep my sanity!

I used chalkboard paint for the faces of the drawers so I can re-label them as needed with chalk markers.
As always, a glue gun is key!  I just put a little swirl on each corner to glue the shell of the boxes together.

Check out our link party page to see where we link up each week!

Monday, February 25, 2013

CRAFT: DIY Kitty City

 I've been scheming this little creation for a while now.  My cats absolutely LOVE boxes.  Any crazy cat ladies out there.. you know what I mean.  As soon as they know a new box is in the house, they run over, tap it a few hundred times with their paws, and then jump in it.  So, I decided to build a little kitty city with all the boxes I get at work from supply orders.  

I got a stack of corrugated cardboard from an estate sale forever ago for $1...  I snatched it up so fast and knew exactly what I was going to do with it, make a cat scratcher.  I needed it to be 10"x1'.. so  I figured that 6 pieces of corrugate stacked equals 1 inch x 12 in = 72 strips of 1 1/2 in corrugate.  (Like my mad math skills?  Finally putting my engineering classes to use!)  I cut the 72 strips and used a glue gun to make a 1 1/2 inch thick mat of corrugate.

Next, I just stacked my boxes, cut the doors, glued everything together and painted it!  It was so easy (time-consuming, however).  While I was constructing this masterpiece, the kitties just couldn't help themselves!  They were so excited for their new playhouse.
To add an extra oomph to the Kitty City, I sprinkled some catnip on the scratcher.  Needless to say, there was some crazy cats throwing themselves all around the house for a while after I finished this.

I'm so happy I finally got the motivation to complete this.  It turned out way better than I thought it would.  The city is complete with an upstairs, a sun deck and a little napping area on the roof!  Sparta is licking up the catnip as we speak.  The best part is that this project cost me pretty much nothing... just the glue and paint!

Check out our link party page to see where we link up each week!

Friday, February 22, 2013

What I'm Loving This Week!

1 - Marc by Marc Jacobs 'Preppy - Sia' crossbody bag.  LOVE it!
2 - Maybelline Baby Lips
3 - Man Glaze - Matte is Murder
4 - Icona Pop - I Love It - Best running song ever.
5 - Disney's Vinylmation Collectibles - I'll be there in less than 2 weeks!
6 - Nike + FuelBand - This absolutely rules my life now
7 - Twistbands!
8 - Nike Victoria NM - Definitely my favorite shoes right now

Since there wasn't much actually happening this past week (mostly just recovering from the insanity of last week), I thought I'd share with you some things I'm absolutely obsessing over right now.  These are all things I have and use and love!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

PARTY: Mustache Baby Shower

I'd like to introduce you all to Brea & Anthony.  Anthony is my stepson.  He's a pretty cool kid, I'm not gonna lie.  And his girlfriend, Brea, is the cutest, most sweetest girl.  I adore both of them!  Brea & Anthony are expecting a little baby boy in April, so this past Saturday was the baby shower.  I had the privilege of designing the decorations.. it was so fun!  We decided to go with a mustache theme to welcome this little man into the world. 

^^ Aren't they just the cutest EVER?? ^^
A friend of Brea's made hundreds of cakepops as the favors and I used my Silhouette to make 1 inch staches to tie on.  So yummy!
Thank goodness for my Silhouette.  Cutting out so many staches by hand would have been a nightmare!  I found the pattern for the staches and the glasses in the Silhouette online store. 

I found these adorable cardboard hats at a local craft store and painted them with polka dots.  I used a drill to put the holes in.  I bought shishkabob skewers at the dollar store for the staches and glasses on sticks.  So cheap and so easy! 

For the banners, I hand carved a mustache stamp.  Super easy... maybe a tutorial is in the near future!

It was such a blast putting this all together.  But, the best part was showering Brea with attention.  She definitely deserved it!  I was amazed and so grateful for how many gifts they got.  Now we just wait for Little Baby V to get here!  I'm so excited that I can't stand it!!  (and yes, this does mean that I am going to be a grandmother... at 31.)

Check out our link party page to see where we link up each week!

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Creative Abyss (+ an incredibly emo self portrait reflecting my frustration)

This post is difficult for me to put together here.  I'm not one to talk about my personal life often.  It's not because I'm a private person... I really don't mind if people know the twisted inner workings of my mind.  It's that I don't think people actually care about the twisted inner workings of my mind. 

However, this topic seems to be quite a common one, and with the encouragement of my awesome blogging symbiont, Jen, I decided to talk about it here on ESM. 

My Creative Abyss

Ever since Christmas came and went, there has been this black hole of creativity in my imagination.  Ideas go in it, but nothing ever comes out.  I've sat in front of the TV with my iPad for weeks browsing Pinterest for inspiration, but instead have only found frustration.  "How can all these people have such brilliant ideas ALL THE TIME??"  I swear, there are some bloggers that I think have some divine creative connection to some crafting angel that always has the perfect ideas for the perfect occasion.  And I'm all over here like... "Oh, here's some new surface I have yet to spray paint and color with a sharpie."  So original, I am. 

Then I started avoiding Pinterest.  The places I normally would go for inspiration became sources of anxiety for me.  I closed the door to my studio and only opened it when I decided to use it as storage.  Right now, there's a box of stuff from RueLaLa, a Shoemint box, bags of yarn, some unframed prints, a bunch of binders and training materials from work and a hundred other miscellaneous items lying on the floor of my studio.  With not a craft in sight.  Only 6 months into starting ESM, and already I've depleted my creative source, whatever it may have been.

Last week, I got the stomach flu.  I spent the day on my couch watching reruns of Vanderpump Rules.  That's when I hit bottom.  I actually started crying, alone, in my pajamas, on my couch with my dog, because I couldn't find one creative spark in my mind.  That night I realized that this is why I always avoided pursuing a creative career.. I've always feared this happening, falling headfirst into a creative abyss, and never being able to crawl my way out. 

A friend sent me an article last week that you can read here.  And of course, I'm sure most of you have read Vintage Revival's post about blog puberty.  Both of these writings helped me tremendously... they both made me realize that 1.) I'm not not talented, 2.)  Every creative goes through this at some point and  3.)  I put way too much pressure on myself to produce tutorials.  Not every post has to be a tutorial.

So I decided I have to push my way through this.  Fortunately for me, I am so blessed to have such a supportive blogging partner.  I was afraid for a while to tell her I was feeling this way.  I didn't want her to regret getting into this with me, but I finally swallowed my pride and spilled my beans.  What I was met with instead of hostility was understanding and compassion.

Now, my question for all of you is... have you ever fallen into a creative abyss and what have you done to crawl out of it?  You guys are all part of this blog, too, so I'd love to know how you all handle stuff like this.  It seriously is the worst. 

So that's a peek into my creative emotional status.  It's amazing how when my creativity is paused, it affects so many other aspects of who I am.  Creating things really is the epicenter of my being.  I feel like I've stalled out and need a jump start.

Sorry for the debbie downer of a post today, but I felt I owed you all an explanation.  Jen has been encouraging me to share more of my personal life/thoughts on ESM.  I thought this was a good start. I promise I will be getting back on track soon!!  You all definitely make doing this worthwhile.  You all make me want to try.. so THANK YOU for that.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Love is a Plate of Chicken Wings

1. The foam block pit  2. Jumping on the trampoline
3. Treasures found on a nature walk  4. Playground graffiti (I love how someone scratched "poop")
1. Hot chocolate on a cold day  2. Connor "helped" put the dishes away
3. Mustache fabric!  4. Bob the Builder in the rice table

Valentine's Day is gone and we're onto the next holiday I guess. We were in Walmart last night, and they already had the Easter aisle stocked. I have a certain soon-to-be-4-year-old's birthday to plan, I can't be thinking about Easter eggs yet! While at Walmart, I spotted a guy who most definitely forgot to get his girl a gift on Valentines Day. His arms were full of a roses, a stuffed animal, and he was browsing the boxes of chocolates. I bet he got an earful :)

So, how was your V-Day? For our Valentine's Day, my husband and I went to Hobby Lobby, then to Quaker Steak and Lube for chicken wings. When you have kids, any time spent sitting at dinner without having to yell, "Don't throw that on the floor again!" is a good night. There have been many occasions when my husband has surprised me with flowers and chocolates, but for one night, all I wanted was not to have to force feed anyone chicken fingers, fish crayons out of my son's nose, or apologize to my neighbors for excessive noise. Basically, it was the perfect night. I loved having alone time to spend with my husband and just talk.

Remember just talking? Yeah, it's good stuff.

Yes, the kids came up plenty, but there are many days when we both just collapse in bed at the end of the night without having any real conversation. It was nice to just date each other for a night over a plate of chicken wings.

Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

FOOD: Snowy Road Fudge

This tutorial was originally posted on Kojodesigns for the Winter Whites series. It's deceptively addictive - and a perfect treat for those snowy days indoors!

I had this amazing white chocolate fudge last month at a local outdoor store of all places - I know, not really the place you expect to find life changing fudge, right? I don't usually like white chocolate, but something about this particular fudge concoction grabbed me immediately. I took a bite and fell in love, then started mentally compiling the ingredients I needed to make it at home. There was only one problem - I couldn't justify making it knowing I'd eat the whole pan myself. Then I got an email from Kirstin saying that she and Delia were hosting a Winter Whites series.

The fudge was basically demanding to be made, and who am I to resist?

The Snowy Road Fudge is a take off of classic rocky road, but instead of chocolate, marshmallow and almonds, it has white chocolate, marshmallows and walnuts with coconut thrown in as well. Like I said, everything delicious in one heavenly dessert.

INGREDIENTS: 6 tablespoons butter, 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk, 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff, 2 cups sugar - I forgot to include that in the picture, 12 oz white chocolate (I suggest Lindt white chocolate bars because they're amazing), 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup chopped walnut pieces, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup mini marshmallows.

ONE: first, chop up your white chocolate bars into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
TWO: line an 8 inch pan with wax paper or parchment paper and spray well with cooking spray.
THREE: in a large saucepan, combine the first four ingredients and bring to a boil on medium heat. Boil for 25 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture over your chocolate chips and stir well until the chocolate chips are completely melted.
FOUR: add the last four ingredients and stir well until all ingredients are incorporated.
FIVE: pour the mixture into your prepared pan and use a spatula to spread the mixture evenly.
SIX: chill your fudge in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until the fudge has set. Cut and serve. If you're having a hard time getting the fudge out of the pan, run some warm water along the bottom of the pan.

Yields approximately 2 1/4 pounds fudge. Enough to share. Or not.

With each bite, you get the softness of the marshmallows, sweetness of coconut and vanilla and slight crunch from the walnuts. Feel free to cut your fudge into smaller bites but in my house, one brick of fudge equals one serving :)

Check out our link party page to see where we link up each week!
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