Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ombre Candles

Ombre, that subtle modulation of color is all the rage right now....painted furniture, fabric, even frosted cakes are often done in beautiful Ombre shades. So, why not Chanukah candles?
All it took was a box of plain white candles, some wax chips and wax crayons.
Natural wax crayons were used since many other brands of crayons contain beef tallow (not good for a kosher kitchen!)  The stainless steel bowl is from the dollar store--I could throw it away afterwards and avoid cleaning harden wax. The bowl was placed over a pot of simmering water to slowly melt the wax, next I added the crayon colors, using a plastic spoon while pouring the melted wax over the white candle.
The roman shades in our kitchen were the perfect place for hanging the wet candles on the shade cords with mini binder clips!

These would make a wonderful Chanukah gift tied up with a pretty ribbon...
Or keep for yourself...
for a beautiful addition to your menorah!
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Paper Stars for Chanukah

Chanukah is five weeks away so it's not too early to start thinking about decking out your home in beautiful Chanukah decor. My first craft for Chanukah this year are these Star of David paper stars, which I strung in a garland.
All it takes to make these beautiful stars are a compass, ruler, scissors and heavy paper. Here's how:
1. Draw a circle with the compass, keeping in mind the size. (Mine are 8 inches.)
2. Take half of your circumference (mine was was 4 inches) and mark those points all around the circle. When you're done, you'll have 6 points.
3. With a ruler, draw lines to attach all points forming two triangles.
4. Cut out the star with scissors.

5. Fold the star three times--point to point.
6. Flip the star over--now fold three times again between each of the little triangles.

When you're done folding it should look like this:
These look so pretty in colored paper as well as silver and gold papers.

I strung mine in a garland but they'll also look beautiful tied onto gifts as a tag, or as place settings.
What will you use your paper stars for?
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Bowls: From Plain to Fancy

What do you do with a pair of inexpensive plain white bowls? Add some glam with gold paint, of course.
These bowls were purchased from the dollar store last year to hold the scissor centerpieces I made for Yosef's Upshernish when he turned three years old. You can see how they were used here

These are actually nice heavy bowls so after the party, Ariel and I both took a few home. The other day I decided to fancy them up a bit with gold paint...
First I used sewing pinking shears and some blue painters tape. I love the little zig zag pattern the shears create.

Then I brushed on a few coats of Martha Stewart's gold paint...
The paint is multi-surface; to use on glass, metal, even fabric. The second bowl got a stripe treatment which didn't come out as crisp as the first one but I still like how it looks.

Next week, it's on to Chanukah crafting!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dot Pillow Shams

Sometimes just a little change can pump up the volume. My old white pillow shams were about ten years old--they've been through the washer and dryer many times and were starting to show their age. 

When I found this Ikat dot fabric at Calico Corner, I knew that it would look great with our Pottery Barn Alessandra duvet cover and add a fresh look.
I posted this "before" below, back in April when I found the yellow lamps at Home Goods.
Most of the room is pretty plain so I thought the dot pattern would add a lot of interest. Also, dots just make me happy!

My sewing machine was acting temperamental lately and I wanted these to look really professional. I took the fabric and a pillowcase (to use for size) to the local tailor at our dry cleaners. He did both for a fraction of the price than what a professional would charge.
I smile every time I walk into the bedroom!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Soup Season

The weather here in Connecticut is going to dip into the 20's overnight this week...that means soup season has arrived. This week I tried a new recipe that was delicious. You can make it with chicken broth for a meat version or use the Imagine No-Chicken broth to keep it parve. Either way it's a hardy soup perfect for a cold day.
Red Lentil Coconut Soup
Serves 6-8
2 cups red lentils
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 chopped onion
1 chopped red pepper
1 tablespoon ginger
2 gloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 small can tomato paste
7 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 can cooked white beans, drained and rinsed

Over medium heat, add coconut oil to a soup pan. Add onions and peppers and saute about 5 minutes until they have softened.

Add the garlic, ginger, spices, salt and tomato paste. Cook for another 2 minutes until mixture is toasty.

Add the broth, coconut milk, lentils and white beans. Cook uncovered for 25 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add more salt to taste, enjoy!

Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Make an Upholstered Headboard

Our guest room was looking a bit bare. The mattress was sitting on a nice sleek wood frame but it was really crying out for a headboard.  This project took me a few evenings to complete but it's done and looks great and the best part is the whole thing cost less than $30 dollars!
The first thing I did was tape the wall with blue painters tape to get a good idea of the size I wanted the headboard to be. When I was happy with the size, I took my measurements to Lowe's and had them cut a sheet of pressed board (so it doesn't warp.) This bed frame had a ledge that the headboard could sit on, otherwise I'd have it come down to the floor.
Next I purchased a foam bed pad from Walmart (much cheaper than buying foam) and some batting used for making quilts.

At this point I had to decide where the tufted buttons would be--I drilled four holes in the board for the buttons. Cutting the foam is easy when you use a bread knife!
First the foam was stapled into place followed by the batting and then the fabric.

These button covers are so easy to use and make your buttons look so professional!
The key is using really long needles to poke through the holes in the board and layers of foam and batting. The back of the button is tied with some wire wrapped around the thread.

The fabric is actually men's suiting fabric I found on sale at Joanne's...
You may want to know how I attached it to the wall. Here's the's not attached yet. Our walls are plaster and really hard to hang anything on. Since I don't want the headboard crashing down on anyone (!) I'm waiting for our handyman to come by and do it.
The checked duvet cover is from Muji one of my favorite stores in New York. I'm really happy with the results.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Modern Moss

I love moss. No, not the kind that takes over the lawn where there's supposed to be grass. I mean the beautiful kind--like in a forest that covers the ground. 

Since I don't live in a forest I decided to bring a bit of it into our home in a very modern graphic way. This combines my love of spheres (I blogged about it a few years ago here) with my love of moss.

I already had the ceramic bowl so the whole project cost less than eight dollars. Here's how:
1. Find a nice bowl--I used a hand thrown pottery bowl I already owned.

2. Cut a child's ball in half and stuffed it with plastic bags.

3. Place it ball side up in the bowl.

4. Use a glue gun and packaged moss from the craft store.

5. Keep gluing the moss onto the bowl covering any areas where the colored ball shows through.

6. You're done!
No one will know it's not from a fancy schmancy home store!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Berries

Walking in my neighborhood last week, I couldn't help but be awed by all the colorful berries that sprang up on trees and bushes in the last month. They are just too pretty to leave outdoors so I gathered some ideas on how to incorporate them in the home.
Here are seven favorites...
1. So easy! Just pile some mini pumpkins in a bowl with autumn leaves and some berries.

2. A gourd looks very modern and sculptural when used as a vase for berries.

3. Perfect for the front door of a country home: berries intertwined in an old rake.

4. Tie a bundle of berries and tack to the wall for displaying photos and cards.

5. Tiny bouquets work in small vessels like these pewter pitchers and bowls.

6. Last Shabbat, I tucked a few sprigs in a napkin ring for a beautiful autumn place setting.

7. The more the better--gather a huge armful and place in a vase for a magnificent display.

What will you do with berries?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ikea Liatorp Hack

The major piece of furniture in the living room is done! It's the Ikea Liatorp bookcase that takes up almost an entire wall and holds the T.V., all my craft supplies, photo albums, and favorite accessories. 
I chose it because of the size--our T.V. measures 32 inches wide and the bookcase is 34 inches. So the proportions were perfect but it needed some changes to work in the room. 

There are many versions of this bookcase you can doors, open shelving, etc. I wanted to keep things simple so I chose open shelves with three sets of doors on the bottom for a classic look. Here is a picture of the Liatorp from Ikea's website:

The first step was putting the piece together since it's packed in flat boxes. (I love Ikea but hate to assemble!) There was certainly nothing wrong with the white color and the bead-board back, but it wasn't right for my living room and needed some hacking.

Next came the long and tedious job of painting. The good news is I used a primer called Stix.  Even though the Liatorp finish was glossy I didn't have to sand a thing which saved a lot of time and effort. I had the paint store tint it to match color of the paint I was using.
For the paint I used Benjamin Moore's Advance in a satin finish. It's water based but wears like oil paint and is perfect for furniture. The color is River Reflections.

Since it's not designed for a T.V. we had to make a few holes in the back for plugs...

I replaced the Ikea knobs with these solid brass knobs...
I knew the bead board backing would be too casual looking for this room so I popped in some foam core board panels covered in burlap fabric to add some texture and interest.
So easy to cover the foam core with a lightweight staple gun. 

The branch is from saveoncrafts...
I wanted an organic touch over the T.V.

My twig ball has a special spot...
Did you know that twig ball is the most viewed of any post since I started designmegillah?!

Behind the doors are all my craft and art supplies...
I love the white storage boxes...they are cheap and do a great job of storing anything (I even use them on my bedroom closet shelf for tights and panti-hose!).

It's not completely can see some the shelves are empty or not quite finished.
But styling a bookcase is a whole other thing so that will be another blog post!
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Finding Fabulous

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Taking a Bench from Bland to Beautiful

This is my favorite kind of makeover...using fabric and paint, a ho-hum bench is dramatically transformed in no time at all.

I bought this bench almost a year ago at Hotel Liquidators in New Haven, Connecticut. (it's one of my best sources to buy really good quality furniture dirt cheap!)  Here is what I started out with...
First step was removing the cushion.
It was a perfect fall day so I set up shop on the patio to paint.
A quick rub down of de-glosser, followed by primer, then white spray paint in a satin finish.

It was a windy day and I couldn't find enough rocks to hold down my plastic cloth,
so here's a little trick: use cans covered with a baggie--that way they stay clean!

After the spray paint dried I brushed on some watered down leftover gray paint...
It gave the wood a soft glazed finish. 

After removing the old vinyl, it was just a matter of stapling the new fabric onto the cushion.
So much prettier!
But the bland walls? They're still the raw plaster--we removed the old wallpaper shortly after moving in and I still haven't gotten around to painting. I'm thinking of doing a decorative paint treatment like a stencil or stripes. I want the look of wallpaper but not the cost--it's a very large space and wallpaper would be pretty expensive.

Here are some wall ideas I'm tossing around...
I guess this will be my winter project, so stay tuned!
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