Saturday, September 21, 2013

Under the Stairs Storage Solution!

I'm not a fan of wasted space. I'm a firm believer in "everything in its place and a place for everything." When I moved into my townhouse 3 years ago, I thought the space under the stairs would be great for storage since I didn't have a garage. I was right, but accessing anything that was stored there was nothing short of frustrating. And so began my quest to fix the problem...

Casters are pretty great
After a grand search, I finally decided to try the "Under Stairs Storage" that I found on Wood Workers Workshop. I'm not much of a carpenter, so I had to read the directions about 18 times before any of it made sense. Then my boyfriend helped me figure out what dimensions I would need since my stairs did not exactly match those in the guide.

Small cabinet pieces
Once I had the dimensions, I picked up supplies at Lowe's and kindly asked the nice guys to make the bigger cuts for me. The rest of the cuts were made by me and Jason on the patio with our mostly-still-brand-new circular saw. 

Larger cabinet pieces
You'll notice that I used a combination of plywood and MDF. The only reason for this is that I scored some free plywood, so I thought this was a good use for it. The process of measuring and cutting the boards was unbelievably stressful. At one point, I was sure the whole project was ruined because I didn't consider the extra length I would need to hide the casters in the front. 

Power tools!
My boyfriend convinced me somehow that everything would work out and so I measured some more and made more cuts. Little by little, the project started to take shape.

Small cabinet getting put together
 Once the pieces were together, it was just a matter of slathering on a few coats of paint.
Large cabinet almost finished
The sizes of the cabinets is a little off because of the mistakes I made; one is much larger than the next one down, but they actually fit really well in the space and I'm so happy the project is finished.

 I followed the basic ideas of the plan I mentioned above, but as for the number of shelves, I knew I wanted something different. As you can see, the larger cabinet has two shelves on one side, with an open shelf on top and another large shelf on the other side. I still need to organize everything in the shelves, but they look great!

I added pulls to complete the look and I'm thrilled! The original plans called for three cabinets, but I only did two. I wasn't sure my lack of skills would be able to produce anything at all, so I didn't want to overload myself. Right now, the left side is left open and it works as storage for the vacuum and broom.

I might eventually tackle another cabinet, but for now, I love how this turned out! If you decide to try this out, please let me know so that maybe I can help you avoid my mistakes. :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

It's only September, I know, but a friend of mine and I decided to get a head start on Autumn with a variety of pumpkin craftiness. I had sent her a list of several Pinterest options and we narrowed it down to three, which was about all we could handle in an afternoon.

The first ones on the list were glitter pumpkins. We bought some Dollar Tree pumpkins of different shapes and sizes along with glitter spray paint in orange, purple and green.

This was the easiest project since all it involved was spray painting some pumpkins and waiting for them to dry. Oh, and of course, washing your hands for about 23 minutes to get the excess glitter off.  They turned out exactly as anticipated, despite some tiny holes in the original pumpkins, but I figure we can just turn them around.

Next on the list was a Mod Podge pumpkin from Urban Daisies. This was the most time consuming of the bunch because each little piece of paper had to be Mod Podged (that's a verb, right?) onto the bumpy pumpkin and smoothed out with our fingers. We took off the stem so we could add a twig stem at the end.

The book we tore apart for this project was a Dollar Tree book, so I felt slightly less awful for ripping out the pages. We added some moss in green and purple from Michael's and a twig found in the yard for an added rustic look.

You can't really tell from the photos, but we used a shimmer Mod Podge which gave the paper a more aged, slightly shimmery look. The craziness of the moss is so fun. I {love} how these turned out!

Finally, we reached my favorite pumpkin from Everything Under the Moon. We bought the pumpkins from Michaels along with the most perfect yarn. Ever. Despite not being able to find my stash of glue sticks for the glue gun, we managed to secure the first piece of yarn to the top of the pumpkin (with household cement... which smelled like industrial strength stuff, so I figured it would hold). After that, it was as simple as wrapping the yarn around the pumpkin. I didn't keep count, but I assume it took about 487 revolutions and almost all of the yarn to complete.

Just like the last pumpkin, we took the stem off to make the wrapping easier. I didn't like the way it looked to just attach the stem back, so we added some moss to finish it off. We finished all three projects in less than 3 hours and had a blast catching up in the process. The pumpkins look so good, I'm not even going to wait until Autumn to display them. 

I'm glad I got to try a few of the projects from my ever growing list of Pinterest DIYs. There's always a great sense of accomplishment when you set out to do a project and it turns out better than expected. Here's to the upcoming season of Autumn and many more crafts!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Autumn Themed Dress/Costume

Autumn Leaves Dress
This year, our office decided to make Halloween even more fun than it already is by writing down random costume ideas, putting them in a bowl and blindly choosing your fate. I was truly lucky with my pick: "The Season of Fall."

I immediately knew I wanted to incorporate beautiful Autumn leaves that we never get to see here in Houston. I've had the pleasure of seeing them in Philadelphia once and they're {amazing}. I tried to find leaves at Michael's, but they were all really small and sad looking. So...I took a look at the Autumn wreath on my front door and decided that the leaves would look gorgeous as a dress. I actually scored the wreath at a garage sale for $3. Win!

Leaves, needle, thread, pins and dress
 You really don't need a lot of supplies for this one. I used an old navy blue dress that I hardly ever wore anymore, leaves from my wreath, some thread and a needle and pins to hold the leaves in place. The process is tedious, though if you're good with a sewing machine (I'm still learning!), I'm sure this would have taken a lot less time. I think it was a total of 1.5 hours, including the time to strip the wreath. Total cost: $0.

Leaf collage!
My sewing process was very simple. I started at the top of the dress and layered the leaves all the way down. I only stitched each leaf twice to the dress because that was enough to keep them in place. I overlapped the leaves a little too much and learned that I could have left my wreath a little less barren, had I planned the layout more.

Lady of Autumn
 The hair piece was really simple as well. I used a hot glue gun to attach the leaves to a piece of felt that I then hot glued to a plain hair comb. I added gold, red and orange accessories, fake eyelashes (because, why not?), glittery gold heels and was out the door.

The costume was a hit and everyone knew who I was, so I was happy! I already have offers to purchase this costume, but I'm kind of in love with it. What do you think?

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Manly Bouquet

My boyfriend's birthday was about a month ago and I had been planning his gift for months. I usually hate getting gift cards for people because I think it's a cheap way out of buying an actual gift. I {love} giving gifts and I usually spend a lot of time planning them out. So I knew exactly what I wanted to get him, but because I didn't know the right sizes and I was afraid of getting the wrong ones - I got him a gift card to American Muscle. This, to me, was super lame, so I had to dress it up and make it special.

Enter the Manly Bouquet
I searched the internet and came across this blog (from Connoisseur of Creativity) that does a great job explaining the steps to make a pretty awesome bouquet of your man's favorite things. It included liquor as well as other goodies, but my guy likes candy.  A lot. I got him a ton of candy. I think that was his favorite least until he opened the birthday card and found the gift card. :)

Some of the stash
I had originally planned to use a vase as the base, but decided against it because I thought the mug idea was much better! Don't read too much into the random stuff here, a lot of it has to do with inside jokes. The bare necessities include: styrofoam, a vase/giant mug, tape and some kind of skewers.

Tape your goodies to the sticks
I had my doubts as to the strength of the tape holding everything up, but I had zero problems!

I bought the mug from Spencer's and at 50 ounces, it is ridiculously big and heavy. This definitely helped keep everything from toppling over, so it was a good investment.

Line with tissue paper and fill with styrofoam
Now comes the fun part! Arrange your goodies like you would a bouquet of flowers, or if you're not gifted in Ikebana, just jam the sticks into the styrofoam any way you like. I'm sure your guy won't really notice the arrangement anyway because he will be too excited about (in my case) CANDY.

And here's another view!

In case you're wondering, he loved the bouquet and tore it apart in minutes. The candy is long gone, but the mug isn't far from sight and it serves as a reminder that sometimes silly ideas can be quite fun!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vintage Sails Painting

Vintage Sails - Merlot2Masterpiece

Has anyone else noticed the number of Painting Classes that have popped up recently? In Houston, there are at least 3: Painting with a Twist, Pinot's Palette and Merlot2Masterpiece. I recently found a Groupon (thanks to Monica!) for Merlot2Masterpiece and decided on a painting called "Vintage Sails" - because my dad's birthday is in September and he grew up by the Adriatic Sea, so I thought this would be a great gift! And if I messed it up, I had a month to figure out something else to get him.

This was my first time taking a painting class solo, and since it was far from home, I didn't bring any wine. If you do bring something else to drink, be careful not to dip your paintbrush in the wine glass - yes, this is from experience. :( The class was not entirely full, which I enjoyed because I didn't have to fight for elbow space. The artist was very passionate, full of energy and seemed to enjoy teaching us, despite our incessant questions. Upon arriving, Susan (Sue) handed you a paper plate with the necessary paint colors and you could choose your seat.

Paint colors and blank canvas

I picked a seat up front because I wanted to make sure I had a good view of what needed to be done. Sue was very kind in explaining steps several times to make sure we understand exactly how to replicate the above painting. Of course, if you are at ALL artistic, you can take your own spin on the painting. I'm not artistic, so I followed directions as much as possible.

Background layer

The first part seemed easy enough and the colors were gorgeous, so I was happy, though a bit dubious as to how this would all turn out. Sue walked around to help guide anyone who asked or looked like they needed help. I think we all accepted a little help. It's amazing how a little one-on-one guidance can help you get just the right looking wave or mountain. We got a little break after doing the background layer and those that brought food or drinks could refuel and refill while the painting dried. It was a light, chatty and fun atmosphere. It was also really fun to walk around and see how everyone's paintings looked slightly different. The lady behind me LOVED using globs of paint and I think her's looked awesome.

Addition of mountains and sky

The rest of the painting (until we got to the boats) was fairly straightforward. If you messed up, you could just go over it with another color and try again. This was my saving factor! I took another class at a different place and the painting looked great until we got to the bench. My bench looked like a tanning bed. It was a disaster and I was so when we got to the boats, I was nervous. It takes a little talent to be able to see the parts of the boat and replicate them with paint. Sue used a white board to draw out the shapes for us and I think this was genius! It helped me a lot and after looking at other people's paintings, I think it was an all-around success.

Final painting! Vintage Sails by Sara
And there you have it! Of course, there are parts that I don't absolutely love, but overall, I think it turned out great. I even got it framed while I was there. I hope my dad likes it! What do you think? Have you taken any of these classes? I think they are a great way to spend a few hours with some friends, or alone! Even if you have no talent, you can laugh at your finished product and remember the fun you had creating it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mini Lasagna

Mini Cupcake Lasagna
 Who doesn't love bitesized food? Mini morsels are great for on-the-run, snacks or portion control (though you'll see that these are SO good that you really have to have some self-control to NOT eat all of them in one sitting).

My boyfriend and I had been talking about making lasagna for weeks, but considering our attempts at eating healthy, we knew it would be a bad idea. I used to make lasagna that would take two people to put into the oven because it weighed about 20 lbs - and I'm sure 16 of those lbs were cheese. I love cheese. Best lasagna ever, but I don't even want to think about how bad it was for me (this was back when I broke 200 lbs...hmm...probably had something to do with the lasagna).

Anyway, I came across this recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything and it seemed like a great alternative. I liked the idea of using wonton wrappers (or skins) instead of pasta because it was a lot lighter. Another perk was that each morsel was an end piece {my favorite} and deliciously crunchy. Yum!
Main ingrediants
I think I spent about 30 minutes at HEB (and yes, I asked a few people for help) before I found the wonton wrappers (skins). They were with the vegetables and tofu...whatever. Extremely cheap (less than $2 for 50 of them!) and easy to work with.
Spray tin with Pam
 It turns out that I don't have a cupcake/ tin...of course. These are things I should have checked before deciding to make this recipe. Luckily, I had a mini cupcake tin and I think I like them this size. They are tiny, which means you use fewer ingrediants per cupcake (and only one layer), but still great!
Wonton wrappers
 The original recipe suggests using a round glass to create circles out of the wonton wrappers, but I used a can of diced tomatoes since it was sharper. It worked great! I could cut out several at a time. (Just make sure you clean the can before doing this.) You also could just use the wrappers as they are and you'll end up with crispy tips.

This is what happens when you make too much...

 Of course, since my cupcakes were MINI, I had a lot of leftover ingrediants. I pulled out this nice bakeware set my mom gave me years ago and decided to make slightly larger mini versions of lasagna. I used two wonton wrappers, slightly overlapping, and still only did one layer of everything since these were not very deep.

Looks good, huh?

Here is the recipe for the mini cupcakes (should make about 48):


  • 1/3 pound ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 48 wonton wrappers (or less if you use them wisely)
  • 1 3/4 cups shaved Parmesan cheese (7 oz)
  • 1 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (7 oz part skim)
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese (3 oz reduced fat)
  • 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • Pam cooking spray
  • minced garlic - 2 cloves
  • (optional) basil/oregano/rosemary for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray mini cupcake tin with cooking spray.
  2. Brown beef, season with salt and pepper and drain. Add tomato sauce and garlic and cook on low for 5 minutes.
  3. Cut wonton wrappers into circles using the top of a drinking glass or anything else you can find. You don't have to cut one at a time or at all if you don't want to!
  4. Begin with a wonton wrapper and press it into the bottom of each muffin tin. Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese in each. Top with a little meat and pasta sauce. Reserve 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese for the top of your cupcakes.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. To remove, use a spoon to loosen the edges then pop each lasagna out.
  6. Garnish with your favorite herb (I used fresh rosemary) and serve.
I think we finished this off the next day. It was delicious! These would be good to serve as appetizers or bring to a party. Are you hungry yet?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vegetarian Buffalo "Wings"

You don't even miss the chicken!

I'd like to start off by saying that I'm not Vegetarian (or Vegan for that matter), but I do like veggies and I don't mind skipping meat most of the time. My buddy, Lauren, once decided she wanted to try being Vegan for a month and I joined her. It was not easy, but I learned a lot of fun recipes and I only really REALLY missed cheese. Real cheese. I tried the Vegan stuff and it was just slimy and not the right consistency. Maybe it's evolved since the last time I tried it...but OH the real stuff is so good.

Anyway, I found this recipe on Pinterest (where else?) and it originally comes from PETA. The only adaptation we made was to use fat free milk instead of water or soy milk...for no particular reason.

Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

1 cup fat free milk
1 cup flour (any kind will work—even gluten-free!)
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into golf ball sized pieces
1 cup buffalo or hot sauce (sounds like a lot, but you'll need it)
1 Tbsp. olive oil

-Preheat oven to 450*F.
- Combine the milk, flour and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.
- Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture and place in a shallow baking dish. Bake for 18 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is baking, combine your buffalo sauce and olive oil in a small bowl.
- Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5-8 minutes.
- Serve with ranch dressing and celery sticks. Yum!
Makes 4 servings (we could barely finish half a serving!)
So filling!
I think this recipe is awesome! We just ate half of what is on the plate and are incredibly satisfied. The buffalo sauce was great and you can't even tell you're not eating chicken. Maybe next time we will try another sauce just to change it up. I am hoping that these will be good as leftovers because we have a LOT left. And I don't even miss cheese right now. :)