Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hand Painted Nursery Signs

I suffer from the I-Can-Make-That Syndrome.  I'm sure a lot of you suffer from the same thing.  It's a blessing and a curse.  I'll be out and about, see something that I really like, see the price tag and think to myself, "I can make that!" It's almost like a challenge against myself (yeah, I know, I'm cool!) to see how well I can make what I've found in the store.  A couple of years ago, I was acquainting myself with Etsy and I found myself drooling over these hand painted nursery signs.  They burned a mental image in my mind and I knew that I had to try my hand at them!  I had a few successes (here and here) with hand painting signs and then a big success with hand painting a sign for my nephew last summer (here).  However, these methods just took too long, and I wanted to try my hand at using my Silhouette to paint.  So, as soon as my dear friend Amanda found out she was pregnant, and my sister-in-law found out she was pregnant, I knew exactly what I wanted to make for them....

Here are my supplies: a $4 board from Hobby Lobby (sanded and wiped down), push pins from my desk drawer, a can of Krylon satin white spray paint, 3 different colors of acrylic paint, and a spool of decorative and coordinating ribbon (wired ribbon works best).
I first stuck the push pins in the bottom of the board so that it is easier to spray paint.

Next, I spray painted it until I was happy with it.

Using my silhouette, I cut out my niece's monogram and attached it to my painted sign to be used as a stencil.  

Then I took my deeper shade of purple and painted the monogram.  I waited for it to dry and then peeled it off.

I then started painting the birth stats (lighter purple).  I made sure I had a small paintbrush (that's the key!) and painted the middle name first (to be sure it was centered).  After I painted her name, I thought that green polka-dots would be great along the edges (I was making this up as I went).

Along the bottom, I added the birth stats.

And then hand painted a flower that was on my sister-in-law's baby shower invitations.  Lastly (with paint) I filled it in with polka-dots.

When I was finished, I spray painted the sign with a spray paint Lacquer by Rust-oleum.  I did this for 2 reasons: to protect that acrylic paint, and also to add shine to the sign.

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After it dried, I used a staple gun to attach the ribbon to the back of it so that it could be hung on the wall.  

Ta-Da!  I'm done!
It was a wonderful Christmas present for my sweet niece, Sophia!

After I made that one, I got right on the sign for my sweet friend, Amanda and I followed the same steps.  Here are the results:

If you're interested in a great, personalized gift for a new mom, I highly recommend doing this!  If you're not suffering from I-Can-Make-That syndrome and would like to give a new mom this gift, email me!  I'm taking orders!

I'm partying here this week

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Craving Pizza?

Last month, Stephen and I had Stephen's sister and her husband over for dinner and a game of Settlers of Cataan.  In an effort to please all people involved, and to spice things up, I decided that we would all be making our own personal panned pizzas.  I had a great "Chicago-Style Pepperoni Pan Pizza" recipe from The Cook's Country Cookbook that I had made back in the Spring for my Chicago Small Group  that turned out to be quite a hit.  The only problem with it was that the pizzas it made were only 9" (and they weren't intended to be personal pan pizzas) - not that big.  The more I thought about it, the better that was - with a smaller pizza, we could all make our own and have a pizza exactly the way we wanted it!  Here are pictures to show the progress; recipe to follow:

My pizza toppings: sauce (recipe to follow); mozzarella; mushrooms; green pepper; onion; Italian sausage; pepperoni

The dough before it started to rise

Cutting up the toppings to prepare for the dressing of the pizzas

Dividing the dough among 4 8" cake pans - be sure you rub them down with olive oil first
Once you've divided the dough, push and pull it to cover the entire bottom of the cake pan

Assign everyone their own pan and allow them to make their pizzas to their liking and then bake in the oven

Enjoy! - YUM!!!

Ingredients for dough:
(To make an 8" pizza for 4 people, I doubled these recipes)
*1/2C olive oil *3/4C plus 2T skim milk heated to 110 degrees *2t sugar *2 1/3C all-purpose flour, plus extra for the work surface *1 envelope rapid-rise or instant yeast *1/2t salt

What to do:
*Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 200 degrees.  When it reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Lightly grease a large bowl and coat two 9-in cake pans with 3T of the oil (I used 8").
*Mix the milk, sugar, and remaining 2t oil in a measuring cup.
*Mix the floud, yeast, and salt using a standing mixer and a dough hook. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the milk mixture. After the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium-low and mix until the dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes.
*Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, shape into a ball, and place in the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the warm oven until doubled in size (30 minutes).
*Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, divide in half, and roll each half into a ball.  Take 1 ball of dough at a time and spread it across the bottom of your cake pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot (not the oven) until puffy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes (oops!  I forgot to do this - still tasty!).  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
*When the dough is ready, cover it with your favorite toppings and then put it in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the dough is browning around the edges.

Simple Pizza Sauce
*1T olive oil *2 garlic cloves, minced *1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes *Salt and pepper

What to do:
Cook the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over low heat until fragrant (2 minutes). Add the tomatoes, increase the heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  

I promise, this is sure to please!  Who doesn't like to be able to make their own, tasty personal pan pizza?!  It sent me right back to elementary school and collecting book-its to take to Pizza-Hut!  I hope you love it as much as we do!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We are...

DOG OWNERS!  Holy moly!  There's nothing like coming home to a creature that is so excited to see you that they are making squealing noises and are sliding all over the place!  Do you remember when I told you about our dear friends' dogs that we dog sat last March in Chicago?  Well, with their recent life changes (having a baby and finishing up a residency and preparing to start another) as well as just the craziness of owning a large dog that loves to run and has tons of energy in an apartment, Stephen and I officially became Princeton's new mommy and daddy over Martin Luther King Weekend.  If you recall, I've had my heart set on a Vizsla puppy for sometime now (read about that here), but I'll take a trained, housebroken dog any day if I can't have my Vizsla puppy!  The good news is that Princeton is a German Shorthaired Pointer which just so happens to be the big brother of the Vizsla.  It couldn't be more perfect - except for the day when we bring home Princeton's little sister, Meg and he and her fall in love and are the best brother and sister pups in the world...oh!  Sorry!  I digress...

Meet Princeton!
Our new family of 3 :) Don't worry, his eyes don't glow in real life!

He lives quite the life!

He loves a smaller bed so he can curl up in it.  He even enjoy's my parent's chihuahua's bed!

 Our first family picture :)

I told you, he leads quite the life!

And because I didn't get my puppy fix, I googled images of GSP puppies and found ones that look like Princeton.  I'm pretending that these were taken 3 years ago when he was a pup, and I'm sharing them with you now :)

Baby Princeton, pointing.                                    This actually really is Princeton, pointing.

Such a cutie!

They are just so cute!

As I'm typing this, I'm sitting on my couch with my buddy curled up right next to me - ah!  Such the life!  I'll be back later to share with you our wonderful and refreshing visit from our dear friends!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Busy Sewing Bee!

These past couple of weeks/months, I've been sewing, sewing and sewing some more.  The majority of my Winter Break consisted of me sitting in front of my sewing machine or standing in front of my ironing board.  You see, I offered to make my dear friend, Traci her baby bedding BEFORE I found out she was having twins (oopsies!) although I wouldn't have traded it for the world! And then my sister-in-law discovered she was preggos with Sweet Sofia and of course I wanted to help her out for her nursery as well!  Needless to say, making 3 crib skirts, 3 sets of bumpers, a blanket and such really kept me moving and grooving, doing what I love on my time off.  Throughout all of it, I realized that I love to sew even more than I thought I did.  I love the creation that I have at the end of the day and being able to see that I made out of nothing.  Oh, and I'm obsessed with fabric.  Wait, did I admit that I'm obsessed with fabric?  Well, I'm obsessed with fabric...

Sweet Sofia's bedding:
Blanket: 1 side is a purple paisley cotton fabric; the other side is a super soft, pale green minky-dot; bordered in a jumbo, wine ric-rac

 Close-up of bumpers: outside is a purple paisley cotton fabric

 Inside of bumpers: super soft, pale green minky-dot

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The crib-skirt: tailored using a purple polka-dot cotton fabric

Close-up of tailored crib-skirt

 My friend, Traci's baby bedding:
Bumpers: chevron cotton fabric for inside and out
Tailored skirt: polka-dot cotton fabric

Bumpers: floral cotton fabric for inside and out
Tailored crib-skirt: solid pink cotton fabric

Are you or someone you love pregnant?  Would you rather have your own custom-created nursery as opposed to having to choose from the generic pink&greens and blues&browns?  If this is you, click here.

I'm partying here this week: