Friday, December 30, 2011

DIY EASY Roman Shades

My ten year old son decided that he no longer wanted a two toned room with glow in the dark dinosaurs on the wall.  I'm a lot sad about it but it did present a great project for the two of us to work on this past week.

More later about the room. . . we're not quite done with it but should be by the New Year.  Instead I am going to show you a project we did for the room.  Roman Shades!  These are very easy and we had all the stuff here at home to make them with.

You need the following:

A set of regular mini blinds that fit the window across
Fabric for your blinds
Good glue that will adhere to the fabric
A way to hem your fabric (sewing machine or the stitch witchery hem tape)

We used an old mini blind that had been in the room previously that I had saved.  (Can we say hoarder?)  My reluctance to toss anything even somewhat useful came in handy this time!

Start by cutting out the ladder that holds the blinds in place.  You DO NOT want to cut the middle string which pulls them up and down.

When you are done you will be left with a bunch of slats that move up and down freely.  The middle cord is still in place.  Leave it there!

Now pull out the plug on the end, pull out the knot and untie it (or cut it).  My blinds were the perfect length already so I untied it.

Now is the time for math.  Figure out how long your window is and how many folds you want in your shade.  My window is 58 inches long and I wanted eight folds.  Pull out all the slats except one less than the number of folds.  I left seven slats because seven slats plus the big thick bottom equals eight.

You need to decide the size and fabric you want for your shade.  I knew that I wanted it to cover the inside of the window exactly.  My little guy gets migraines so we also needed black out curtains.  We had a pair of dark blue ones hanging there originally so I used one panel from that to make the shade.

Hem your fabric to the size you want.  Since I wanted it to fit exactly inside my window, I hemmed the width to that exact measurement.  I added six inches to the length of the shade for roll over.  You will see that in a minute.

 Spread out your fabric, wrong side out, and spread your blinds over the top.  Evenly space your slats.  This takes a bit of math if you want it perfect or a good eye if you don't particularly care.  I used math.  I divided my 58 inches by eight (7 1/4).  To get the placement of the first slat from the bottom I subtracted an inch because my slats were two inches thick.  This way the center of the slat is on the 7 1/4 inch mark.

I measured 7 1/4 inches up from that first mark and placed marks all the way up.  I knew that the bottom of my slat had to be at that mark so that the center is at the proper 7 1/4 inch mark.  I know that sounds confusing but do it. . . it makes more sense as you are working on it.

 Now glue them.  You need to make sure that your glue completely avoids the pull strings because they need to move freely.  Don't glue the top bar or the bottom bar as you do something different with those.

Press firmly.   On the top bar, I glued my fabric to the front but not all the way to the edge.  This way it can slip easily into the brackets in the window.  On the bottom, wrap the fabric around and glue.  You want this bar covered, except for the back.

Let dry.  I had to wait 6 hours but check your glue.  Some are overnight ones.

Hang it!

 Pull the cord and *ta-da!*

Okay, it's a bad picture but you get the idea! 

And here is the section that I think all DIY tutorials should have at the end.

If I did it again:

1.  I would pull the pull cord out to the front of the shades.  I left them behind the slats because I think they are ugly and I thought that hiding them was a good idea.  It makes the blinds tough for a little one to open.  It is fine for me but I didn't really want to have to open his shades for him every morning.

2.  I would NOT glue on my dining room table without some sort of protection on it.  Some of the glue seeped through and I spent more time cleaning it off the table than I would care to do.

3.  If it wasn't necessary, I wouldn't use black out curtains.  The fabric is too heavy to make really nice folds.  It is what we need for this room, though, so it works.  I think a very nice heavier cotton (duck fabric) would work marvelously and they make really cute patterns!

4.  Cover three sides, not four of the bottom slat.  (I put this in my tutorial).  If you look closely you might be able to tell that I covered the fourth side of the bottom slat which was not smart.  This is where the pull cord comes up.  It doesn't affect aesthetics much or the function any but I know I messed up and it bugs me.

Have fun making your own shade and making improvements on my directions!  I'd love to see what you've done. . . leave me a comment with a link to yours so I can take a peek!

Check out my favorite blog for more great projects, recipes, tips and for a great read!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Imitation Whipped Cream Frosting

Merry Christmas!

Our family has a tradition of making a birthday cake for Jesus for Christmas.  The kids fight over the flavor every year and they both claim to know exactly what Jesus prefers.

This year we are going with the plain but very delicious vanilla cake option.  I am sprucing it up with my mom's imitation whipped cream frosting recipe.

It's easy and fabulously yummy.  It tastes like lightly sweetened whipped cream and isn't heavy or overly sweet like regular frostings.  Yum!

Looks delicious, right?!?

Here's the recipe:

Imitation Whipped Cream Frosting

1/4 c flour
1/2 c milk

Cook over heat until thick.  Cool completely.

1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortning
1/2 c sugar
Until fluffy.  Add the milk/flour mix and beat until fluffier!  Spread.

Here's how:

Off the heat, put flour and milk into a saucepan.  Whisk together until smooth.

Now turn on the heat.  I switch to a spatula at this point.  Keep scraping the bottom. . . it will start to get thick.

Keep going!  You want it to look like this:

Now you are done!  Take it off the heat and put it aside to cool completely.  I usually transfer it to a plate and toss it into the freezer or a snowbank to cool it quicker.  Patience is not an attribute of mine.

When it is completely cool, you will start mixing your butter, shortening and sugar together.  Make sure your shortening isn't rancid (oops, mine was today.  Good thing I had another can!)  Beat until fluffy and then add the flour milk mixture.  Beat with an electric mixer and it will get very, very fluffy.  Look at this:

Mmmm!  Very fluffy, lightly sweet and the perfect frosting for Jesus's birthday cake!  This will frost a two layer cake, including a thin layer between the two.  If you like your frosting layer to be thicker, make sure to double the recipe.  I don't care for a thick layer of frosting so when I do a single layer cake, I usually half the recipe.  Give it a try; I think you'll like it!

Merry, Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cupcake Stands

This will be a quick post today.  I can't believe how much stuff we have to do before Christmas and before company gets here!

We needed a quick gift for seven wonderful people at the kids' school who have gone above and beyond caring for and being there for our family.  Unfortunately, I thought that we had more time, not remembering that school is out TODAY!

This is what we made:

They turned out very cute and they were remarkably cheap.   You'll need twenty four hours so some pre planning is necessary but the project itself is quite fast.

You will need a plate and a bowl per stand and some good glue.  That's it!  I like E6000 glue because it's SOLID when it cures.  I bought my plates and bowls at Target.  They're the melamine plates and pretty cute, I thought.  The bowls were $2.49 each and the plates were $2.99 each.

Clean the bottoms of the bowl and plates with rubbing alcohol and let dry.  Apply your glue to the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the plate, attach and you're done!  Let it dry and cure for the 24 hours.

I put seven cupcakes on each plate.  The cupcakes were made from a Devil's Food cake mix and I added a couple of spoonfuls of the peppermint mocha International Foods' Coffee mix.  It gave it a light, minty taste taste that wasn't too overwhelming.  I frosted them and sprinkled crushed candy cane on the top.  To keep them from getting squished, I put them in a small drinking cup before wrapping the entire thing in cellophane.

I had most of the items here that I needed so actual cost out of pocket was less than $6 per stand.  I could have gone a lot cheaper if I had visited my dollar store but, honestly, it didn't occur to me until after I had attached the plates to the bowls.  At that point, it was too late to get a refund!

The gifts were wrapped and delivered.   On to the next thing on the list!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Snowman Soup

We were looking for a quick, fun and cheap gift idea for my youngest to take into her religious ed class this week.  We decided on Snowman Soup packets.

They turned out great and, better yet, it was something she could do on her own.  I helped by printing out some bag toppers and packaging the marshmallows but the rest was up to her.

The ingredients for Snowman Soup:

You need some bags (I decided on the 4x12 bags by Wilton), some Hershey Kisses, mini marshmallows, hot cocoa packets and mini candy canes.  We first cut about four inches off the tops of all the bags with my paper cutter.  Then we used my food saver to package the marshmallows.  We put a seam at the bottom, tossed in ten, and sealed the top.  Perfect!

She packaged up the ingredients and stapled a bag topper on to them.  I designed it on Word and used their clip art for a quick way to make it look good.  I wrote the poem for the front and added directions to the back.

They turned out cute and she had lots of fun making them.  They're not super fancy but she can't wait to hand them out.

Here's my bag topper.  Click on it and print it out on a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock.  (If it doesn't print out right, try copying it and pasting it into your word document.)  Cut them out on the light gray lines. . . just don't cut the fold line in the middle of the two.  You get four per sheet.  Feel free to use it for your own purposes but, if you don't mind, please link it back to me if you repost it.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Candied Apple Jelly

Tis the Season!

We always try to bring our neighbors a little something during the Christmas Season but it can get a little expensive so we try to stick with something homemade.  This year we are doing candied apple jelly.

It's super easy.  You can make these and put them in the refrigerator or you can put them in a boiling water bath and make them shelf stable.  I would suggest keeping them in the fridge unless you are a canner as canning equipment can get expensive.

Here's the recipe:

4 cups apple juice, unsweetened
1/2 cup cinnamon candies (I like the discs)
1 pkg. Pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar

Start by mixing the pectin, apple juice and unwrapped candies in a large pot.  You can buy pectin in the canning aisle.  Here's what it looks like:

Bring everything everything to a rolling boil and boil for two minutes.

This should be boiling, steaming and rolling for two whole minutes.  Stir the entire time.  Dump all the sugar in at once and keep stirring.  Bring it all to a boil again and time it for three minute.  Check to see if it's ready and if it is, remove from heat.

I check by putting a little into a bowl and seeing if it gels.  This is what it should look like.

Fill your jars and put lids on them.  If you are going to make them shelf stable, boiling water bath them for ten minutes.  Otherwise, let them cool and move them to the fridge.

These are the prettiest color of red and taste absolutely fabulous.  It's super easy, very fast and decorating the jar lids can be a family project.  This recipe makes eight half pints (jelly size) and double that of the mini jars (quarter pints).  We do both size and give the larger jars to families and the smaller jars to our single neighbors and friends.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hats, Mittens and Scarves, Oh My!

It's finally gotten cold enough here in KC that we're pulling out the hats and mittens.  Each year I go out and buy a few more pairs of mittens and a few more hats per child since we never seem to be able to  hang on to them from previous years. 

Hats and mittens are usually tossed into a storage bench after wearing.  Before buying more this year, I decided to see what we had on hand.  Surprise, surprise!  We have enough mittens and hats for the neighborhood!

How to organize them so that they could be found easily and they're not tossed into a pile?  I actually found a very cheap solution at Target.

This is a shoe organizer for a closet.  I didn't use the hooks that came with it, rather attached three sticky hooks to the inside of the door to hang it on.  I would have preferred the shoe organizer with pockets that were fabric rather than the plastic, just so things could dry, but I couldn't warrant paying an additional $10 for that feature.  This was a $4 solution.

I folded the mittens like socks and put them into the pockets.  Scarves were wound up and put into their slots and the hats were folded into thirds to fit.  Everything fits nicely and it's a lot easier than going through the bench in the morning looking for matching mittens.  The kids can put their gloves away when they get home if they're dry.  If not, they will have to lay them out and them put them away when they're ready.

We shall see if this system works for the entire year but, as of now, I really like the possibility.  My storage bench isn't full of mismatched gloves and I can see what's available at a glance. 

Happy Winter!