Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Wreath Tutorial

Finally got around to dressing up my front door this past weekend!  It took the neighbors asking me if "Christmas was over" for me to realize it might be time to take down my holiday wreath I still had up! Ha. It was cute - what can I say!?

Alright so here's the down and dirty. This is a messy project but it's mildly quick, pretty cheap compared to buying one at the store, and if you're good at it you can make one for every season...eliminating the chance of an embarrassing encounter with the neighbors!

Materials Needed:

(2) Grapevine Wreaths $3.99 a piece.....$8.00
(20) Varying Strands of flowers from Michaels - Hopefully 50% off like I got them..... $26.00
(1) Super cute bird with feather tail....$2.99
Green Floral Wire......$1.99
Hot Glue & Gun (optional)

So for around $40.00 you can make this wreath on your own and save yourself from spending a ton on a pre-made wreath that's only half as cute from the craft store! Let's get started.

I chose to buy 2 grapevine wreaths because just one seemed a little small.  I wanted my wreath to really stand out once it hit the front door! Notice how plain my red front door is with nothing on it....UGH! Once you have your 2 wreaths picked out make sure they match up in shape... you don't want one oval and one circle because when you stack them it will just look goofy.  Wire the 2 wreaths together with green floral wire in 3 to 4 spots around the wreaths. Tuck the wire ends into the grape vines when finished wrapping...hint, twist the wire like you're putting a twist tie on a garbage sack - it's that easy!
Now that I had the "Meaty" wreath look I was going for it was time to start in with the flowers.  Let me give you a little tip...when shopping for flowers always look for ones THAT DON'T LOOK FAKE. I detest fake flowers, and always have live beautiful ones around my house, but for the outdoors you want fake ones that will last...AND LOOK REAL.  The way to do this is find flowers that have ragged edges, look a bit torn, have leafy flowing branches that move in the wind.  The more it looks real next to fake plastic ones, the better it is.  Also buy filler flowers, plastic grasses and berries pass as real all the time, along with moss and branches! So let's get into applying the flowers.
I like to start slow, build up a background for my "Feature" flowers. I chose a pallet of yellow, orange, red and white for a pop in order for the wreath to stand out against the door.  Take the color of the flowers and also the season into consideration when picking wreath items. I stuck this yellow grass like sprig in between the two wreaths and ran some wire through it to hold it in place.

Each time I add flowers, I will set the wreath back away from me and make sure it looks balanced and full. You want the flowers to look as if they're growing up the side of the should follow the curve of the wreath and have a central focus at the bottom center where the "feature flowers" are placed at the end.  The two photos above took about 25 minutes to add all of these flowers...once you get going its a cinch! For the flowers wrapping all the way up the side of the wreath I just wired the entire branch in.  For the white tulip and yellow flower in the front I cut them off of the wire stuck them in the wreath and added a dab of hot glue to secure them in place.

After taking this image I felt like it was almost finished but it needed just a bit more green in the center where the white tulip juts out and the orange berries are a bit overwhelming.
Adding a few tulip leaves fanned out and a couple sprigs of yellow flowers it finally felt finished! See below for images of the wreath happily hung outside! Nothing like a spring wreath to warm up the front of my if only the temperature would do the same!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Doin a Snookie on the Oreo Cookie...

So I'll admit the title is a bit misleading....not even sure what "doin a snookie on an oreo cookie" would turn out looking like but Jersey Shore is a guilty pleasure of mine so I had to throw it in, and NOTHING rhymes with OREO so deal with it :)!

One of my weekend projects was to make a dessert. I finished my wreath as well and I'll post that later this week, but let's get to the sweet stuff! My friend gave me this recipe about a year ago and it is about the easiest thing I've ever made and it tastes great! People always ask for the recipe wherever I take it so here ya go.

The nice thing about this version is it doesn't use butter or cream cheese like other recipes online do, so there is a TON less fat! Let's get started.
Here are the ingredients, they include:
Mixing Bowl
Glass Container to layer dessert in
(1) package of Oreo cookies
(1) container of Light Coolwhip
(2) packages Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
3.5 cups of Skim Milk
And food coloring is optional

Dump (2) packages of instant pudding mix into bowl, add 3.5 cups of skim milk and stir with whisk till mixed. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the pudding to set up.

While the pudding is setting up, put the Light coolwhip in the microwave to thaw it out. When thawed, dump the entire container of coolwhip into the pudding and mix with a spatula until well blended.

Now the fun part. Add food coloring whatever strikes your fancy and stir into the pudding until it reaches the right color.  I couldn't help myself - it seemed like a great time to draw a dinosaur face! :)

Place oreo cookies in a ziplock bag and mash or if you're too cheap to buy ziploc bags and you don't want the world to see you smash oreo's in a target sack, place the cookies into a tupperware and smash with a large spoon.

Now the tricky part. Once the entire package of oreos are smashed start layering the mixture in a clear glass container.  I chose a skinny flower vase I'd just purchased because I wanted to try something different.  Look around the kitchen and use something fun! I didn't have a ton of oreos because I'd eaten quite a few while my layers are a bit messy but you can do it better yourself! Layer pudding, oreos, pudding, oreos, etc. until the whole thing is full. Finish with pudding on top and place an oreo in the center!

Take any leftover pudding and place in a glass dish and sprinkle with oreo crumbs. Place your "doing a snookie on the oreo cookie" in the fridge for 4 hours and you're ready to serve! While it chills clean up the mess you've made....Yikes my kitchen WAS clean.

Check out the pics below of my artsy green and black dessert, the whole thing only has around 10 grams of fat if you take out the oreos! Try this recipe and substitute fruit layers like strawberries or lowfat vanilla wafers to make it a healthy snack!  For more ideas of healthy cooking, and how to save while you shop visit my sister's blog @ . Check back later this week for my Spring flower wreath project I did this past weekend!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Trash to Treasure, Easter Flower Display

Alright guys, this week is a milestone for me, two posts in one week - wow.  I'm really getting on my craft game now that it's turning into spring outside.  This project is one of the easiest I've ever done, so if you don't have a crafty bone in your too can complete this one! It's simple and for me it was virtually free.  The whole project start to finish took about 1 hour.  So go clean out your fridge and let's get started!

To start I cleaned my fridge over the weekend, and had planned to slump these glass jars in the kiln instead of putting them out in the recycling.  However I'd remembered a neat idea I'd seen using Mod Podge and food coloring and figured I could try it here! The Materials are simple, mine consisted of just a few:

1.) Cleaned glass jars, Pickle jar, salsa, jar, and pasta sauce jar - Free from the frigdge.
2.) Food Coloring, I'd recommend using NON NEON colors as mine were a bit bright for my liking.
3.) Sponge Brushes
4.) Tub to mix glue with food coloring
5.) Mod Podge
6.) Flowers (I got mine from Sam's)

Total Cost for the whole project - $10.00 flowers at Sam's was it I had all the rest!

Start by mixing the food coloring in a dish with the Mod Podge. Stir vigorously with a spoon or knife and continue adding color till you reach the darkness desired.
The colors in my NEON food coloring gel were lime green, orange, purple, and electric pink...when I realized this my project instantly became an EASTER arrangement! Once the food coloring is blended take your sponge brush and apply glue in a heavy layer all around the outside of the jar. Try to avoid dripping, and always run the brush in the same direction in even strokes.
After the Jar was painted I wanted it to have a bit more texture. So I crumpled up a napkin and dabbed over the entire surface.  You can make any pattern you like, but I thought this looked more like colored glass would. Your project at this point should look horrid...especially if you're using NEON food coloring, but I promise you - keep going the result at the end will be gorgeous!

Repeat this easy process with all of the jars you wish to paint. Let them dry for about 2 hours and your project is almost finished!
The hard part is over, even though it was pretty easy. Now just go the store and pick up some flowers, or better yet if you have some in the garden go cut them now! I can't wait for my peonies and tulips to bloom so I can make arrangements with them!

I cut the stems of each flower at varying lengths to give the jars some height and made sure to blend the colors so each jar had a good assortment of beautiful flowers.

Make sure to check my blog next week - I'll be making a spring wreath over the weekend. Michael's had a 50% off sale on grape vine wreaths and assorted flowers so of course you know I bought a cart full! Seriously though the wreaths they try to sell at the craft stores always look really tacky in my opinion and you better bet I can make one for less than $60-$80 dollars! Enjoy the finished project Trash to Treasure, Easter Flower Display below!