Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Simple Spring Wreath + FREE Printable!

Truth time:  I just took down the Christmas wreath from my front door last weekend. 

In my defense, it was just green and snowy and had pinecones all over it so it wasn’t exactly “Christmas-y.” 

But still.  I started to feel like our mailman was judging my decorating abilities ever since my “Let It Snow” banner stayed up until it was literally falling apart.

Seriously, I found one of the letters in my neighbor’s yard.

Anyways, so I dug through my craft stash closet in out attic looking for something bright and springy and found this.


Ok, not exactly this one but a grape vine wreath I bought I think last spring.  Who knows what project I was planning that never got started...

Anyways, I found the wreath and the wheels started churning.  I was thinking bright colors, maybe some rosettes and definitely the word “SPRING” somewhere. 

So late last week I made this cute little spring banner. 

Then I strung it up on some twine, using the handy-dandy tabs at the top.  I made these tabs primarily because I can’t find my stupid hole punch.  Feel free to cut them off if you prefer to punch holes instead. 

Then I made some rosettes out of scrapbook paper and leftover fabric and hot glued them on.  I won't tell you how I made them because there are better tutorials than I could ever give all over the interwebs.  But if you need some help, check these out:    

Finally, I added a little band along the left-hand side for color.  I liked it when I put it on, but looking at the pictures now, I may take it off.  

And there you have it!  Super simple, quick and easy spring wreath.

If you’d like to make your own, grab a copy of my printable spring banner here.  There is a large version and a small version.  The small is good for a wreath like mine, the large is good for hanging in a small window or at work.

Have fun and happy crafting!

Background music for this project:  Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 7, Episode 8: Sleeper 

As usual, linking up to my favorite linky parties!
Lil’ Mrs. Tori

Thursday, March 21, 2013

One and Done: Homemade Burp Cloths

One-Hour Burp Cloths | Cute Junk I've Made

Seems like everyone and their sister - including Dude's sister! - is pregnant right now so I've been going crazy pinning projects I want to make for everyone.  I pinned a variation of these super simple burp cloths by Dana at Made ages ago but just this weekend I finally busted out my sewing machine to whip up a few.

It's tough for me to pinpoint my favorite thing about these burp cloths.  It could be the fact that they take maybe 10 minutes to put together, or the fact that they look and feel much more expensive than they really are.  But really I think my favorite thing is that they stand alone as a great baby shower gift, and make you look like a freaking rockstar if you include them with another store-bought gift.

So anyways, all you really need to make 12 of these cute burp cloths is a yard of chenille fabric and 1/2 yard each of as many coordinating fabrics as you like.  You can use silk, cotton, knit, flannel, whatever tickles your fancy.  I was able to squeeze 3 out of each coordinating fabric with barely any leftover fabric.

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Fabric Needed

Because these burp cloths are so small, take a look through your scrap bin for fabrics you can use as well.  Look at what I was able to find in my scraps!

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Fabric Scraps

How adorable are those girly skulls?

So here comes the hardest part.  Measure out as many 10" x 18" rectangles as you can on your chenille.  I went a little old-school geometry here and measured out 10", dropped the tape measure an inch, measured again, and so on until I had gone the entire length of the fabric.  Then connected all my little marks.

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Measure 10"

Repeat going the other direction for 18".

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Measure 18"

Now repeat the same procedure with your coordinating fabrics until you have a giant stack of 10" x 18" rectangles.

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Pile of 10x18" rectangles
If you can't read it, the chili peppers are saying "Caliente!"  Adorbs.
Pin one rectangle of the chenille and one rectangle of your coordinating fabric right sides together.  If you'd like to include an extra layer of absorbent fabric, it should go on top of your coordinating fabric.

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Chenille and coordinating fabric pinned together

Leave a gap in the pins on one of the short ends.  You'll use this gap to turn the burp cloths right side out later.

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Gap in pins

Sew around the edge of cloths.  Using the picture as a reference, I started at the pink pin on the left, sewed the entire way around without stopping and ended up back at the mint-colored pin.

I sewed a pretty large seam allowance on this one, and it absolutely wasn't necessary, but it also didn't hinder the cloth either.  These burp cloths are pretty forgiving.

One-Hour Burp Cloths - First pass with sewing machine
Snip off the corners so when you turn it right-side out, you'll have perfect corners with no extra foofy-ness.  That's a technical term.

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Corners trimmed

Using the gap in your sewing, flip the entire cloth right-side out.

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Turned right side out, fabric on top

Fold in the edges of the gap and iron it.  You can pin the edges in place if you think they need it.

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Right side out gap, edges folded under

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Ironing the gap

Sew around the edges one more time and seal up the gap.  Sew as close or as far from the edge as you'd like, so long as you still catch the extra fabric along the gap.

A decorative topstitch would be really cute here too!

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Finished burp cloths, folded in half

Ta-Da!  Donesky!

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Finished burp cloths tied up

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Finished burp cloths close up of chenille side

Close up of the super-snuggly fuzzy side!

For my co-worker's shower this week, I wrapped up three with a piece of coordinating ribbon and added a bottle of natural baby lotion I happened to have on hand. 

Must have been on sale?

One-Hour Burp Cloths - Finished burp cloths wrapped up as a gift with lotion

Linking up to my fave linky party:

Background Noise for This Project:  Girls, Season 1:  Episode 7: Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident, Episode 8: Weirdos Need Girlfriends Too

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring Cleaning: The Bedrooms - How to Clean & Freshen Your Mattress

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms | Cute Junk I've Made

Next up in my Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms series is how to clean and freshen your mattress.  Unlike the pillows, this tutorial doesn't have an astounding before and after shot.  But what I do have is this.

Spring Cleaning - Dirty Vacuum

That, my friends, is what I vacuumed off of our mattress after cleaning it.

Gross motivation.  If this doesn't get you going, I don't know what will.

I'm going to walk you through the steps to mix up your own one-time use batch of mattress cleaner.  This cleaner is fantastic and removes yellow sweat (and whatever else) stains from your mattress.  It also freshens the mattress and leaves your bedroom smelling heavenly.

What you're going to need to make this miracle spray are just basic household items.

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Mattress Cleaner Supplies
  • An empty spray bottle
  • A measuring cup
  • 3Tbs baking soda
  • 8oz of Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1 drop of dish soap
  • 3-4 drops of essential oils (optional)
 Measure 3 tablespoons of baking soda and dump it into your spray bottle.

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Baking soda in funnel

Measure out 8oz of hydrogen peroxide and dump that into the spray bottle as well.

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Measured hydrogen peroxide

Then put 1 or 2 drops of dish soap and 3-4 drops of your favorite essential oil into the spray bottle as well and shake it up.

When everything in the spray bottle is combined; and the baking soda and peroxide are working their chemical magic, spray the entire mixture onto your mattress.

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Mattress Before

Turns out this picture is completely pointless, but I promise you, there is mattress cleaner sprayed on it in this shot.  

You'll want to complete this step within 20 minutes; and watch where you're spraying it!  It will leave marks on nightstands, headboards, walls, basically everywhere.

Now let your mattress dry.  It took roughly 2 hours for mine to dry, so go wash your pillows or take a nap or catch up on Game of Thrones before the new season starts!

Once your mattress is dry to the touch, you'll probably feel some grittyness left over on your mattress from the baking soda.  Vacuum it up and then take a good look at all the gunk in the canister.

One more time for emphasis.

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Yucky vacuum canister
Now all that's left is to put the sheets back on the bed!

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Clean Naked Mattress
Fresh and clean naked mattress
I can tell you from experience, this miracle spray will remove yellow sweat stains, urine stains, and my weird dog likes to lick the mattress until it's sopping wet stains.

Yeah, she's our special fur kid.

Background Music for This Project:  Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 6, Episode 19:  Seeing Red

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring Cleaning: The Bedrooms - How To Wash Your Pillows

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms | Cute Junk I've Made

Ok, who else is enjoying some gorgeous springtime weather??  It seems like as soon as I start to see some sunshine, I am reminded of how dirty I’ve let my house get over the winter.  The dust on the windowsills is suddenly more apparent, Pepper and Zeke are shedding fools, which results in tufts of fur rolling across the kitchen floor like tumbleweeds, and the air inside the house seems so stale with the windows closed.

So as soon as Daylight Savings Time hits (Or is it ends?  I can never remember.), I know it’s time to start my spring cleaning.  Now, I know there are bajillions of better bloggers than me out there (here, here, here) detailing their extremely awesome spring cleaning schedules.  That’s not what this post is about. 

This post is about getting your home cleaner.  It’s about cleaning things that are usually overlooked.  It’s about learning some gross facts that will motivate you into cleaning these overlooked things.

This week, I’m focusing on the bedrooms in my house.  I’m talking specifically the beds themselves – the pillows, the duvets and comforters, and the mattresses.

Did you know, over their lifetime, pillows can absorb THREE TIMES their weight in dust, dead skin cells, hair, sweat, bacteria and other yuckies? 

I’m sorry I had to share that with you.

Not really, you needed to know so you’d follow this tutorial and wash your pillows.

Keep in mind that down and polyester-filled pillows are the easiest to wash.  I wouldn’t attempt to wash a memory foam pillow, just because I imagine lots of water getting trapped in the foam and ending up with a moldy pillow.  When in doubt, check the tag on your pillow.

To wash your polyester or down-filled pillows, you don’t need any special equipment.  All you’ll need is detergent and a couple of tennis balls. 

First up, remove any pillow cases, shams, and foofy whatnot from your pillows.  Take a before picture and wonder why your pillows are always so flat.

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Pillows before washing

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Pepper on pillow
Hmm...I wonder
Get your washer started on these settings.
Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Washer settings

If your pillow is covered in those gross yellow (sweat) marks, use the HOT setting.

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms -Washer Speed

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Washer Cycle 
Allow the washer to fill to about 1/3 full; and then add your detergent and bleach if you’re using it

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Washer 1/3 full with detergent

Give the washer some time to distribute the detergent and break it down a bit and then shove your pillows in there like in the picture below.  You’ll need two to balance out the machine for a top-loading washer.

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Pillows in washer

For a front-loading washer, skip the filling step (I guess that’s kind of obvious, huh?) and put two pillows in the washer and let your machine run on the settings above. 

Once your machine has completed the cycle, run it through a second rinse.  

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Washer 2nd Rinse Settings

Now that your pillows are nice and clean, they just need to be dried.

Drop one tennis ball inside a knee sock, tie a knot in the sock above the ball and then add a second ball.  Tie another knot so that the sock looks like this.  You’ll need one of these sock and ball contraptions for each pillow you’re drying.   

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Tennis balls tied into snowboard socks

The tennis balls beat the excess moisture out of pillow filling and help fluff them up.  If you have a couple of dryer balls, they could also be used. 

Run the dryer through one Permanent Press/High Heat cycle and continue until they’re dry.
Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Dryer Settings

Check out the difference between dirty and clean pillows! 

Spring Cleaning:  The Bedrooms - Before & After Pillow washing

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The One Where I Make A Budget

In the hopes of not completely saturating this blog with wedding garbage, I'm going to attempt to limit myself one day (Wednesday, because I adore alliteration) per week for wedding stuff.

Wedding Wednesday with Cute Junk I've Made Graphic

I'm planning on doing a decent amount of DIY projects for this wedding that include:
  • Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box (dress cookies, bridesmaid hangers, note insert)
  • Save-the-Dates
  • Invitations (design and putting them together)
  • Programs
  • Reception Signage (menus, table numbers, escort cards)
  • Centerpieces
  • Fabric bouquets and boutonnieres - If we're being honest, this may never happen, depending on how good my fabric flower creating skills are
  • Favors (stickers, cookie display)
  • Bridal accessories (headpiece, bling-y belt/sash)
  • Out of Town Guest gift bags (door hangers, map, other?)
  • Other??
I'm deluding myself and saying that since we have roughly 18 months until the "big day," that I can easily complete every single one of these projects.

I've read too many Wedding Bee posts to think this is even remotely true, but damned if I'm not going to try!

In any case, I've recently started looking into...well...everything.  And I am beyond overwhelmed at how much everything costs!

I know every bride says this.

So, being the list-making, perfectionist, a-type person I am, I knew before we could do anything, even before we started a guest list, we needed to make a budget.

I made an Excel spreadsheet that included every single expense I could think of associated with a wedding, right down to my 3 days before cooter waxing.

Once I did that, I separated everything into groups, added a couple of formulas and ta-da!  My wedding budget spreadsheet was born!

The great thing about this spreadsheet is that I can keep track of everything in it.

There's a tab for the budget, which keeps track of every expense and there's even a column that calculates when each item should be completed. 

There's a tab for the guest list, which includes columns to enter each guest's address to create a mail merge for addressing envelopes.  There are also extra columns to keep track of received RSVPs.

And since I love you, I'm going to share this gorgeous Excel work of art with every single one of you!  Feel free to make changes to it to suit your needs.  To update the "Appt Made" column, change the wedding date at the very top (A2) to your date.  Everything else will populate itself.  Technology at its finest!

To download the budget spreadsheet for yourself click here.

If you use the spreadsheet, let me know how it works for you!  If there's something I blatantly missed, shoot me a message or leave a comment and I'll be glad to update it!

Background Noise for This Project:  Ed Sheeran/Cher Lloyd Pandora Station

Friday, March 1, 2013

Birthday Cake Marshmallows

Cute Junk I've Made | Birthday Cake Marshmallows

Ok, let's get this out in the open right now.  I LOVE marshmallows.  I think this love stems from when I was a kid and my Mom would use marshmallows as a bribe to get me to take my ear infection medicine.

On an unrelated note - was I the only kid to get ear infections constantly?  I remember at one point my Doctor telling me that I was not allowed to have any more ear infections because he was tired of treating me.

Maybe I made that up.  I was an imaginative kid.

So anyways, I found this recipe on Pinterest while Dude and I were in Arizona and it's been on my to-do list ever since.  Last weekend, I picked up a candy thermometer and I knew it was marshmallow time; and can I say, this recipe does not disappoint.  The marshmallows turn out light and fluffy, with just the right amount of cake flavor.

If you want to make them yourself, here's what you'll need:

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Supplies & Ingredients
  • 2x 1 cup of caster sugar (I'll show you how to make your own out of granulated sugar)
  • 2x 2 teaspoons of light corn syrup
  • 2x 1 tablespoon of gelatine powder
  • 2x 1 large egg whites
  • 2 Tbs vanilla cake mix, sifted
  • 4 Tbs chocolate cake mix, sifted
  • Sprinkles
  • Candy thermometer
  • Vegetable oil or spray butter for greasing
  • Icing sugar for dusting finished marshmallows
I made my marshmallows in two layers - a "cake" and a "frosting" layer.  If you don't want to go through the trouble, or if you're a marshmallow racist and don't like chocolate or vanilla, you can just make one thick layer in the flavor of your choice.  The directions below are to make two layers.

First up, cover a 9x9 pan with parchment paper and grease it really well.  I used a vegetable oil spray, but I think a butter spray or straight butter or vegetable oil would work just fine.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Greased pan

If you live in a hick town like me and can't find caster sugar anywhere, don't fret!  Caster sugar is just superfine sugar and you can make it by throwing regular granulated sugar in a food processor for a couple minutes.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Sugar in food processor

To be honest, I don't think this step is 100% essential, but the perfectionist in me struggles to not follow a recipe exactly.

So the next step is to melt together 1 cup of your sugar and 2tsp of corn syrup with 100ml of water.  Why 100ml?  Because that's what my inspiration recipe called for and I can't do conversions.

Last time I attempted to convert something from metric to US, I used a half-gallon of milk in a recipe that was really calling for close to a quart.

So now that we can agree I'm an idiot.  Dump 1 cup of your sugar into a saucepan.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Sugar in saucepan

Then add two teaspoons of corn syrup.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Corn syrup and sugar in saucepan

And 100ml of water.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - 100ml water

Set the burner to low and simmer until all of the sugar is melted.  

While you're waiting, measure out 100ml of water and pour it into a small bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of plain gelatine over the top and let it sit while your sugar melts.  This ended up being roughly a packet and a half for me.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Gelatine in water

Once the sugar has melted, break out your candy thermometer and clip it to the side of the saucepan.  Increase the heat to medium high and boil until the temperature reaches 250° F.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Candy Thermometer

When the temperature reaches 250°, immediately remove the pan from the heat and set it to the side while you complete the next step.

Separate one large egg white and pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer.  You can still make this recipe if you don't have a stand mixer, it'll just take a bit longer. 

Plus, think of how ripped your guns will be if you use a hand mixer.

Start the mixer at medium speed.

While the mixer is going, pour the now jiggly gelatine and water goo to the hot sugar mix.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Gelatine and water solidified

Whisk them together until smooth.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Whisking gelatine and sugar together
Time to start moving, the sugar/gelatine mix will start to get super sticky and gooey pretty quickly.

Bump up the speed on your mixer to high and gradually add the hot sugar mixture to your egg.

Really slowly kids, unless you want to try scrambled egg marshmallows.

Wait, we may be on to something...savory marshmallows...  Someone else try this and tell me how it goes.

Beat the egg and sugar until it's glossy and white.  This took me probably 3 or 4 minutes.  With a hand mixer, I imagine it will take closer to 6-8 minutes.  (Think of your ripped biceps!  So worth it!)

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Mixing egg white, stand mixer

When the stuff in your mixer bowl starts to look like marshmallow fluff, turn the mixer off and fold in 2 tablespoons of sifted white cake mix.  You can always add more if you want a more "cakey" flavor.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Vanilla cake mix, measured

Then fold in as many sprinkles as you want.  I added 3 tablespoons.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Sprinkles in marshmallow

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - sprinkles and marshmallow dripping off whisk

Pour the gooey marshmallow fluff into your prepared pan and put it in the fridge while you make the chocolate layer.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Mixed vanilla marshmallow in pan

Rinse and Repeat to make the chocolate layer.

Combine 1 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of corn syrup and 100ml of water.  Heat over low heat until the sugar is melted.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Melted sugar, water and corn syrup

Meanwhile, measure out 100ml of water again and pour it in a small bowl.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of gelatine over the water and let it sit while your sugar melts.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Measured gelatine

When the sugar is melted, bump the heat up and boil until a candy thermometer reads 250° F.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Sugar water boiling

After that, immediately remove from the heat.  Separate an egg white and put it in your stand mixer.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - mixing egg white take 2

Whisk the gelatine into the hot sugar; and when it is smooth, gradually add it to the mixing bowl with the egg white.

Let that sucker mix until you have a big old bowl of marshmallow fluff.   Or work your arms again.  Then you have a free pass to not feel guilty about licking the beaters and the spatula.

Actually I used a stand mixer and I will never feel guilty about licking the spatula.  That's just a rule I live by.  

Then add in your sifted chocolate cake mix.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Sifting chocolate cake mix
Notice the tiny-ass bowl I was using here to sift the cake mix.  If you look closely, you can see the giant-ass mess I made on the counter underneath it.
Pour the chocolate marshmallow layer on top of the vanilla layer and put it back in the fridge to chill overnight.

Now, avoid turning around and looking at your kitchen for as long as you can.  And when you do, just know that I feel your pain.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Messy kitchen

When the marshmallows are good and chilly, you are less than an hour away from all the marshmallowy goodness you can handle.

The next steps are to cut the marshmallows and give them a light coat of powdered sugar to keep them from sticking together.  You can do this by either individually rolling each cut marshmallow in a bowl of powdered sugar...

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Mallows in powdered sugar bath

...or put a little powdered sugar in a plastic bag and dump all your cut marshmallows in there and shake it up.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - shaking up mallows

You can cut your square of marshmallows however you like with a greased knife, but Dude and I found that spraying some spray butter on a pizza cutter was by far the simplest method.

Set your cut and powdered marshmallows on a baking sheet and leave them to dry for an hour.

I know, I know, longest 60 minutes of your life.

To be honest, I didn't taste any difference between the marshmallows straight out of the powdered sugar and the ones that had dried for an hour and the ones that sat in the fridge for 3 days so all you rebels out there, feel free to disregard this final step.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Finished marshmallows

In the name of science, I decided to make a s'more out of these marshmallows.  Check out what happens when you heat up homemade marshmallows.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Melting marshmallow

Still good, just not really gooey like a store-bought marshmallow.

Birthday Cake Marshmallows - Half-Eaten S'more
Worth every calorie.
Background Noise for this Project: House of Cards - Season 1, Episode 10:  Chapter 10

Linking up here:
Shaken Together