Tag Archives: DIY

(Another) Adorable Community Baby Quilt!


Last year, I threw two baby showers where the guests collectively made adorable baby quilts to give to the couple as a gift.  After I posted about them, I was contacted by an expecting mom to help her put together a similar quilt for her baby.    She picked the participants and assigned a fruit or vegetable to each person.  I mailed each person cute fabric pieces, a white background square, straight pins and instructions with return postage.


These are the instructions I sent to each person with the fabrics and white background block.

They mailed their block back to me, pinned together and all I had to do was stitch them down and embroider the name of the fruit or veggie!   I love this quilt even more than the ones from last year because we didn’t allow fabric pens or paint which made the final product cleaner and more professional looking.   SO cute! Continue reading

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DIY Modern Unisex Nursery

The finished hummingbird wall!

The finished hummingbird wall!

My bestie, Jeff Hinchee, and I were whisked away to San Francisco for a long weekend to help our pal Merav with her new house.   Over about 4 days, we tackled three major projects in her daughter’s nursery that completely transformed it into a perfectly playful modern space.   While Merav and Jeff sanded and painted an oak dresser we found on Craigslist, I put a stencil Merav had meant to use years back finally to good use and then we finished the room off with some molding and chalkboard paint as a canvas for Dor to express herself later on.   Obviously, as you can tell from the photos, the room still needs a lot of TLC, but I think it’s a great backdrop for Merav and Dor to work with!

*Purchase your very own hummingbird stencil here!*

Jeff with the lucky recipient of our hard work.

Jeff with the lucky recipient of our hard work.

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DIY Stuffed Animals: How I Made Two Awesome Dragons

dragon13My nephews asked sweetly if I could make them stuffed dragons with their names on them, adding even more sweetly that “they would make REALLY good Christmas presents… if I needed any ideas or anything”.    I told them I’d think about it, but what I didn’t tell them was that I had never actually made a stuffed ANYTHING, and that I wasn’t really sure I knew how.    This post is less about the specifics of the dragons themselves, and more about how I patterned them and how you could use the same techniques to pattern any animal!      Continue reading


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Christmas Party Round Up

IMG_7742Saturday marked the last party in the garage and it was a huge success!


OH Don’t worry…..it’s O’Douls!

We figured it was time to find a new place to decorate, cozy up and entertain in since we aren’t quite edgy enough to raise a baby in a garage loft.  For now, enjoy this holiday party post, use the recipes (everything was delicious!) and next year, get ready for new-apartment posts and baby nesting!

Our party had a much looser theme than last year, but we encouraged people to wear “vintage holiday” attire….any decade would do.  Jeff and I channeled the 60’s, mostly because it was the only vintage maternity dress I could find!   Here’s what we served:




  • Hot Artichoke Dip with Pita Chips and Toasted Baguette Slices (Martha Stewart)
  • Cheese and Meat Plate (Trader Joe’s cheeses, salamis, fig butter and hot pepper jelly)
  • Dill Dip With Veggies (recipe below)
  • Marcona Almonds (Trader Joe’s)



  • Glazed Ham with Mustard (Trader Joe’s)
  • Roasted Winter Vegetables (recipe below)
  • Butternut Squash and Turnip Gratin (Wine Garage)
  • Classic Stuffing (recipe below)
  • Touch-of-Grace Biscuits (from The Bread Bible, but these are similar)


IMG_7717 IMG_7718

Dill Dip

We served this with raw veggies at the party, but traditionally, my family serves it in a rye or pumpernickel bread bowl with rye and pumpernickel bread cubes (it’s the best!).

  • 16 oz. mayonnaise
  • 16 oz. sour cream
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dry dill weed

Mix everything together in a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours before serving.

Roasted Winter VegetablesIMG_7736

  • 5 cups whole cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • 6 cups brussel sprouts, cut in half
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into hunks
  • 1 large acorn squash, seeds removed, cut in wedges along grooves, peeled and cut into hunks
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 425.  Line 2 sheet pans with foil and put the mushrooms on one and the sprouts on the other.  Drizzle both with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves.  Roast both for 15 minutes, stir and flip and continue roasting until tender and browned, about 5 minutes.  Dump both into a serving dish or casserole and toss to combine flavors.  Lower the heat to 400 and repeat the process for the parsnips and acorn squash.  These will take longer than the mushrooms and sprouts.  Toss everything together and add more salt if needed.   IMG_7732

Classic Stuffing

I made this vegetarian this year with veggie stock, but I recommend using chicken stock if you have meat eaters around…it’s a lot tastier that way!

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup butter
  • 9 cups soft bread cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups stock (veggie or chicken)

Preheat oven to 350.  Toss bread cubes, salt, pepper, thyme, and sage in a large bowl.  In a large skillet, cook and stir onion and celery in butter over medium heat until onion is tender.  Pour over the bread cubes and toss until coated.  Transfer mixture to a casserole dish, drizzle with stock and bake, covered with foil for 30 minutes.  Uncover, increase heat to 375 and bake until browned and crispy on top, about 10 minutes.


As promised….Our 2012 Christmas card “album” cover!


And back!




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DIY Truffles

Truffles are the easiest candy to make at home, they are basically composed of only two ingredients and you can flavor them in a million different ways…which makes them the best Christmas gift EVER!


I carved a large stamp for the truffle boxes (click the image for the video tutorial), stamped one in red on white paper, scanned it and printed a bunch on sticker paper. They still look hand stamped but they are all perfect and low maintenance.

Since truffles are mostly just heavy cream and chocolate, you can either pre-infuse the cream with flavors by using a steeping method (whole ingredients left in hot cream for 30 minutes and then strained out) or you can add flavorings or liqueurs to the melted mix.

The basic ratio for the simplest truffle is 1 cup of heavy cream to 1 pound of chocolate (a mix of bittersweet and semisweet).    The basic method is this:  heat the cream to boiling, remove it from the heat for 30 seconds and then pour it over the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Add a tablespoon of dark brewed coffee and a little vanilla to heighten the chocolate flavor.  Let sit at room temperature until firm, scoop and form into balls and roll in cocoa powder or powdered sugar.


SUCCESS! Left to Right: Holiday Spice, Peanut Butter and Pretzel.

I decided to make 3 “truffles” this year as my Christmas gift using the steeping method…although one is really just a classic peanut butter ball!    After successfully making a delicious Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream this summer by steeping the cream with buttered cinnamon toast croutons, I thought, “why not try this same technique with pretzels?”  The resulting “Pretzel Truffle” is subtle, but delicious, while the other “Holiday Spice Truffle” is punchy and perfect with every one of my favorite flavors this season.   How you can make your own truffles and my recipes from this year after the jump! Continue reading

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DIY Christmas: Amazing Gift Wrapping

Gifts spend 99% of their life wrapped, under a tree, and exposed to the world…so why not make them look just as incredible and festive as the rest of your decorations?  And don’t you just LOVE opening up a fantastically packaged gift, even if it’s not really what you “always wanted”?


Brown Kraft paper is cheap and a perfect base for stamps and (very) glittery ribbon. You can buy it in the mailing section of any store that sells boxes or padded envelopes.

Some years, I come up with 2 or 3 different wrapping themes and stick to those so everything coordinates beautifully under the tree.  That way, I also only have to buy a few different papers, ribbons and toppers.


Twist tinsel-like pipe cleaners into cursive gift tags!

This year, I decided instead to use up a bunch of Christmas ribbons and decorations I’ve had around for years.  I limited the paper choices so they still belonged to the same “world”, but otherwise,  I went all out!   Here are some of my favorites:


This woodland paper is adorned with a plaid fabric ribbon and I used a red pipe cleaner to simultaneously decorate and attach a large bottle brush tree and plastic deer. Paper from The Container Store.


I jazzed up this navy and white ski lodge paper with tinsel yarn, lots of glittery floral picks and glittered bells. Paper from The Container Store.


I finally got to use these silly plastic Santas and 1950’s-looking holly! I love how they perfectly coordinate with the simple red and white polka dot paper. Paper from The Container Store.


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Your Next Christmas Mission

(I’ll be peppering all of my posts this month with my favorite things to buy this holiday season!  Click on the images to buy them yourself.)

Artwork by Erin Rachel Hudak. 100% of the profits will go to the Humane Society Disaster Relief Fund to help displaced animals after the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey.

Rosella eco resin rings with gold flakes

It’s the second week of December, so here is your mission for this week: Get those cards and gifts written, packed and shipped!   I know it might still seem early to you, but I promise this is definitely the week to get your homemade cookies, cards and gifts out there so they arrive on time.  Shipping now means you can take advantage of First Class Mail (packages under 13 ounces) and Parcel Post (packages over 13 ounces), which is WAY cheaper than Express or Priority…and don’t be duped by Flat Rate boxes!! If you don’t have something heavy to send, this will sometimes be 5 TIMES the price of weighing and shipping normally.

This year, (after a huge baking disaster last year), I will be making truffles on Tuesday for some far away friends, so my photos and recipes will be coming soon!  Jeff and I had a hilarious time shooting our photo for our Christmas card this year and I promise to reveal it once I get the actual cards sent later in the week.

Gift Shop Brooklyn sparkly clutch.

Here’s my own To-Do list for this week:

  • December 10th:  Make truffle grocery list and shop for supplies. Photoshop labels for truffles.  Finish shopping for Jeff and Joan (my mom).
  • December 11th: Make truffles all day!
  • December 12th: Pack truffles and wrap.  Fill out Christmas cards and address. Prep to ship everything.
  • December 13th: Ship all Christmas goodies.  Make party grocery list and prep charts.   Pull together Christmas party outfit.
  • December 14th: Party prep.  Design and print food labels.  Start decorating house and set up photo booth.
  • December 15th: CHRISTMAS PARTY!  Prep and cook all day.

    This is our 2011 Christmas card "album".  Just a little teaser for what's to come!

    This is our 2011 Christmas card “album”. Just a little teaser for what’s to come!

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Santa’s Coming!

Flying Bear from Mt. Royal Mint

(I’ll be peppering all of my posts this month with my favorite things to buy this holiday season!  Click on the image to buy it yourself)

It’s officially December, so it’s time to ask yourself, “How far behind am I?”

Every year, you have a choice.  Embrace the crazy and learn to absolutely love it or complain for 2 months straight and make everyone around you miserable.  If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE IT and I have some ways to make things a little easier for you this month.   Do these three essential things (after the jump) this weekend and I’ll have more fun stuff throughout the month! Continue reading

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Modern Co-ed Baby Shower

My new favorite shower activity! The guests fill out a birthday card for each year of the baby’s life, giving advice or telling a little story about that time in their own life. The new parents can give their child one each year and be just as excited to see what each one says!

This past weekend I hosted my third and final baby shower of the year, and came away with some wonderful new friends and a couple of great recipes to share with you.   I wanted this party to feel effortlessly casual and fairly un-baby-shower-ish, so I kept the food simple, decorated with bold, modern balloons and only had a few games, none of which were cheesy!   [All photographs courtesy of Aimee Almstead Photography] Continue reading


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Party Planning: ALL Your Ducks in Row

The invitations are out…so now I just have to plan it!

As I started to plan my third baby shower of this year, I realized that I should share a bit of my process with the world since I have party-throwing down to an art form!  If you don’t know this already, soirees of all sorts are kinda my thing, from my own wedding to showers to our annual Easter and Christmas parties.  They all get the same attention to detail and I use the same paperwork for every single one.    My famous (within these 4 walls) party charts are after the jump! Continue reading


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