Monday, January 14, 2013

Dog Silhouettes

I’m so excited to share the gift I made for my parents for Christmas this year! When I moved out, my room became the dog’s bedroom the next day.  My mother is basically a modern day snow white, if she were to step outside with her arms outstretched, animals would flock to her. Literally.  Animals find her, because somehow they know that she will magically find their forever home, as if she were the living Patron Saint of Animals.  My mother was nominated “Volunteer of the Year,” by the Macon County Animal Shelter Foundation.  My dad later became the head of the shelter for over a year when the Sheriff’s Department took over.  They have been the foster parents of many pets from the shelter, and have 5 dogs of their own.  So its almost an understatement to say mom and dad are the ultimate dog lovers.  

With that being said, I knew this gift would be perfect for them!  They love their dogs so much, I thought this was a unique way to display that.  I chose to create silhouettes with a nice backdrop in sleek frames.  I love the idea of silhouettes because its a much different look than a regular photograph.  We tried to capture them in a quirky pose that is natural and distinct to them. This image would, would in turn, stir up happy thoughts and visions of their personality would become very apparent in your mind. 

 While my parents were in Hawaii this December, we babysat their dogs which was the perfect opportunity to do a secret photo shoot of the dogs!  I used a light colored background to make it easier to photoshop later.  I wish I had used a darker background on Baxter, their white dog, because the lack of contrast between his fur and the back drop made it a little more tricky.

Once I got the shots, I used photoshop to select all along the edge of the dog, filled it in with black, and then created a new document with the silhouette.  Jared and I printed them off and cut each one out by hand.  I used similar frames all painted the same color.  We picked a pretty fabric that looks like something you would see in a Hawaiian hotel or condo for the backdrop of the silhouettes.  This gave it a uniform look that fit in to their decor, but had the personal touch of their beloved furry babies.

Look how cute they look hanging in their front room! ( That’s my mom, dad, and I.)

This is actually a more accurate depiction of our personalities. We’re crazy, we can’t  help it!! (This picture is missing my sister who now lives in Colorado, if she were here it would be right on!!)

I hope you enjoy this project, have a great start to the week!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Our DIY House: Interior Barn Door

It was love at first sight.  A for sale by owner sign lured us down a quiet and quaint little street that, in despite of living in this town for 28 years, we had never been down before.  That was the day we stumbled upon the little white cottage that had been waiting for us to buy it.

It needed some fixing up, but was darling as it was.   We have completely made this house our own, and I am in love with it even more today.  So I thought I would share bits and pieces of the things I love most about our humble abode.  

I thought I would start out with our interior barn door.  This was the first thing my husband had ever built and I was so proud of  him!!  We loved the look of sliding barn doors, and when we decided to build my salon in the house, this gave us the perfect excuse!  This works so nice for keeping  my salon separated from the rest of the house, and my guests have a side entrance which is so convenient.  

We originally looked at kits online for interior barn doors.  They ran at a minimum of $400.  We found our hardware kit at Menards near the garage building section.  Our kit was for an actual barn door, and cost in total around $85.    We used pine for the door, which was perfect because we wanted something  light weight, and stained it a driftwood color, because our decor is kind of a modern beachy cottage style decor.  We ended up cutting down the track because I believe it was around 8'or 9' long, and we only needed about 6'.  


Once the door was built and the guides were bolted to the top of the door, we attached the track to a 1" piece of oak the length of the track so that the door had room to slide, and wasn't flush up against the wall.  We attached the wood and track to the wall using heavy duty anchors.  The door slid right on, the end cap was attached, and then we were in business!!  

This slides so easily and its very quiet!!

It looks great from the inside of the salon as well!
More to come soon!! Happy Sunday!!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bay Rum Aftershave

Guys are so hard to buy for! But when you’re making gifts for guys, it can be near impossible!  This is one of the gifts I made my dad for Christmas:  Bay Rum Aftershave.    The spices, bay leaves, and orange peel smell so good while its steeping!  I saved an old maple syrup bottle which was perfect for this! 

 I made a personalized label to go with it, which my dad loved!  The recipe I used was from the website  The Art of Manliness.  There are tons of manly ideas, and manly DIY’s.  In order to fill my bottle, I doubled the recipe.  Enjoy!!

Bay Rum Aftershave
4 Ounces Vodka
2 Tablespoons Jamaican Rum
2 Dried Bay Leaves (Don’t use the bay leaf they sell at the grocery store. While it’s good for soups,  it’s not good for bay rum. Make sure to use Pimenta racemosa, sometimes available at natural food stores)
1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
1 Stick of Cinnamon, broken in pieces
Fresh Zest from a Small Orange
Combine all ingredients in a container such as a bottle or mason jar with a tightly fitting lid. Put the closed container in a dark, cool place (not in the refrigerator) for two weeks. This allows the alcohol to extract the essential oils from the bay leaves. After two weeks, strain the mixture through several layers of coffee filters. If necessary, repeat until no residue remains. Put in a nice bottle and splash on face after shaving.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

DIY Pet Ornament Set

Even though the holidays are over, and everyone is starting fresh with big plans for the new year, I have to share these ornaments!  I made these for my Aunt Vanessa and Uncle Alan, and their daughters Samantha and Alyssa.  They are all huge dog lovers! I wanted to make them a little something that demonstrated their love for their furry companions, and this is what I came up with. 

These were so fun to make, this would be something the kids could involved with, and the end result is super professional looking.  I used my Cricut machine to cut out the lettering and paw prints onto vinyl, so that I could use them as a stencil on the ornament.  If you don’t have a Cricut, you could buy vinyl and cut it free hand, or you could buy letter stickers, or there are even stencils in the glass etching area of your craft store. Any of those would work great!  I centered the stencils on the ornament (mine was glass, but you could use plastic as well.)  I used a paw print with a heart at the top, and the dog’s name below that.

Then I used Mod Podge, which I think this is the best glue when working with glitter. It keeps it in place without flaking. Covering the inside of the stencil with a thin layer of Mod Podge, I then coated the glue with Martha Stewart Glitter, shaking off the excess.  They were dry in less than half an hour, and that was it!!!

I used some other dog lover phrases to go with their dog’s names such as:  Man’s Best Friend, Wet Nose Warm Heart, and Animal House.  This made a really cute set, and would make a great gift for any animal lover!!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Udi’s Gluten Free Double Chocolate Muffins Copycat Recipe

These rich, chocolaty muffins are probably one of the main reasons I was able to start out on a gluten free diet and stick to it!  Before I started learning how to cook and bake with gluten free flours, we would buy the breads,muffins, and rolls all pre-made.  They weren’t bad...they did take some getting used to, however.  And not to mention the hefty $7 price tag on a tiny loaf of semi-cardboard textured bread.  One of our favorite brands was Udi’s.  They are pretty expensive, but most of their breads and baked goods  were okay tasting.  The double-chocolate muffins were sooooo good!!  But paying $7 or $8 for four muffins just didn’t fit within our budget.  So I tried a couple different recipes and this one is even better than the Udi’s version, I think! Its just rich enough to curb that chocolate craving, but they are surprisingly filling, too!!  The teff flour gives it that chocolaty color and richness, but has a lot of nutritional  value, as well.  I try to keep these on hand at all times.  I store them wrapped in a paper towel and then in a freezer bag, and then pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds when we are ready to eat them! ( Sometimes I add a little glaze with powdered sugar and water or cream, if I want something extra decadent, but they do great on their own!)  

1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
1 cup flour (Gluten Free)
1/2 cup oat flour (Gluten Free)
1/4 cup teff flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon dark cocoa
7 tablespoons cocoa (can use 1/2 c. reg. cocoa if you don't have dark cocoa)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch xanthan gum
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, mix buttermilk, oil, applesauce, and egg with fork until blended. Stir flours, brown sugar, cocoas (can use all regular cocoa, they just won't be as dark), baking soda, salt, and xantham gum together. Add vanilla and flour mixture to wet ingredients. Stir together until just blended.
2.  Divide batter evenly among 12-14 large muffin cups.
3.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan. Serve warm or cool.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Herbal Bath Tea

We are fortunate enough to have a greenhouse in our backyard that we use all year round.  There are tons of herbs growing out there so I am always trying to find new ways to use them.   I had heard of the health benefits of herbal teas for the bath, so I did some research and this is what I came up with.  This is a really fun and simple project with very luxurious results.  I made these for some of the ladies in my life for Christmas.  Bath teas are great for stress relief, aches and pains, and are soothing for your skin.  The aromas that release are heavenly!  It’s like your sitting in your own private cup of tea!  

I packaged these lovely little teas in two different ways.  One way was for giving someone a large batch of one particular kind of tea.  I used little glass jars with printed craft labels and wooden spoons attached to the side, and one reusable cheesecloth drawstring bag.  I regrettably forgot to take a picture of this version, but you get the idea.    

The next way of packaging was to give a box filled with a variety of pre-bagged mixes of the bath teas.  I quickly sewed up some little drawstring bags out of cheesecloth and used pretty ribbon for the ties.  You could use muslin, or organza as well, and I think you can find them pretty affordably at your local craft store if you don't want to make your own.  I also whipped up some cute labels for each mix that I made to tie to the bags, and then one for the lid of the box.  I’m one of those crazy people that LOVES wrapping presents, so I always take extra care when packaging something I made,  it seems to make it a little bit more exciting to see what’s inside!

Each bath tea bag should be filled with about 1/4 of a cup to 1/2 a cup of the mixture.  Here comes the fun part, making your mix!  I did three different mixes, and each mix used this as a basic starter:

1 1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup Epsom salt
1/8 cup baking soda
2 TBS cornstarch

Then you can get creative!  Add whatever herbs or flowers you love, in any combination to this starter mix.  To get you started here is what I used:

Soother Blend:
1/2 cup Oatmeal
1/4 cup Rosemary
1/4 cup Chamomile (tea is fine)

Splendor Blend:
1/2 cup each: thyme, sage, lavender, mint, bay leaves, rosemary

Calming Blend:
1/2 cup each: Lavender, Rose Petals, Sage, Rosemary

Just tie these little bags on to the faucet as you fill the tub, then tie them up
really tight and let them float in the tub as you soak.  Talk about a spa treatment!  What combination of herbs and flowers would you use?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chevy Truck Bench

This year my husband and I decided to make all of our Christmas gifts.  We are on Dave Ramsey’s Financial plan, and we know that Christmas is something that would always set us back a little bit, because we love giving gifts to the people we love!  Instead of breaking the bank, we decided to spend considerably less, but to come up with some really cool personalized gifts for everyone.  

At first I was a little bit nervous, because I didn’t want the gifts to be something that people would just toss in the drawer or not feel connected to.  These gifts turned out to be  very successful!!!   I was so excited to give each person the gift that we had worked on, and everyone seemed to really enjoy them!  Not only did this save us money, but I really think this made the Christmas season a little more special this year.  

Jared, my husband, and I started working on these in about mid November.  The great thing about making gifts for people is that the whole time you are working on them, you are thinking about the person you are making them for!  And, it was something really fun that Jared and I could work on together.  

So in the coming days and weeks, I will be sharing the gifts we made this year.  This first gift is one that we made for my grandpa.  He had always wanted a 1955 Chevy truck.  While I wish I could afford the whole truck, I instead ordered an original tailgate.  We came up with a wooden bench for outside, that uses the tailgate as the backrest of the bench.  

This was actually the first thing I have built on my own!  Jared works third shift, and he was sleeping one Sunday when I decided to make the wooden part of the bench.  To my surprise, my measurements were correct, and it came together really great!  Jared did the sanding and sealing, and attached the tailgate to the bench using heavy duty bolts.   I had my mom secretly steal the license plate from my grandpa’s garage, which has his and my grandma’s initials on it.  We used reflectors to simulate the look of tail lights.

My grandpa was so surprised!!!  The look on his face was priceless and I will never forget it.  He is so special to me, he has been helping me with anything that I wanted to attempt to do since I was a little girl.  I think this is something sentimental he will enjoy for years to come!


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