Friday, February 28, 2014

This + That

Another busy week...working on decorating a living room for a client (more on that soon), started an upholstery class at the local high school, and found some great furniture pieces at my new favorite used furniture store.

1. I needed a "practice" piece for the upholstery class this week. (so excited—I've been wanting learn how to upholster forever!) This chair should work in the guest bedroom when it's done.
2. Or course, the chair needs fabricI bought this shower curtain from Home Goods. I think it will look great on that chair. (You get a lot of yardage for not much money with a shower curtain.)
3. Also found these incredible matching twin beds for Moussia and Zelda (when Zelda is out of her toddler bed.)  I think they're called Canonball beds and they are solid cherry...very well built. I'll eventually paint them a fun color for two little girls.
4. Painted the bottom part of our coffee table legs gold for the" dipped" look. You can see the legs in the background are not yet painted and how a little bit of gold adds so much glam to a plain coffee table! 

Have a great weekend and Shabbat Shalom. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Make Your Own Purim Banner

Purim is such a fun holiday—parties, costumes, food basket gifts and more. So when we entertain this year, I want the dining room to look just as happy as the holiday. I couldn't find any ready-made decorations that fit the bill so I made some myself.

To save time, I deconstructed a banner that I found for a baby shower. (really!)
The banner is from Michael'ssold in the baby shower aisle. I noticed that many of the letters were already the same. There was an H-A-Y for the word Happy and I could make the B's into P's pretty easily. The W turned upside down looks like an M and the H is easy to make into a U with some extra card stock. You get the idea. 

The pastel colors of the baby shower banner didn't work for Purim so I painted each letter in bright happy colors like orange, turquoise and lime green. You can find the instructions for the pom-pom Purim groggers here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Outside the Box Hamantaschen

If you're like me you've made your share of the classic Hamantaschen cookie filled with everything from poppy seed, prune and chocolate fillings. Nothing wrong with those, but check out what is happening to Hamantaschen today: anything from sweet and sour, salty, rainbow colored dough and more!  Here's what I mean...
1. Do you love S'more's but it's not grilling season? Try marshmallows and chocolate in your Hamantaschen.

2. Famous 4th Street delicatessen in Philly adds the poppy seeds right on the cookie dough as well as in the filling. Cakespy

3. Israeli bakeries are giving the classic Purim cookie a personality makeover, introducing flaky crusts and savory new fillings, like goat cheese and pesto. Haaretz 

4. Not only are these filled with a rich chocolate ganache in the center, but chopped chocolate is added to the dough. Martha Stewart

5. Try savory instead of sweet: caramelized onions, tomato, basil and goat cheese make these the perfect appetizer to serve this holiday.  Kosher in the Kitch

6. These Dark Chocolate Ganache with Salted Caramel Drizzle sound awesome! My Jewish Learning

7. The kids will love these Hamantaschen pops. Overtime Cook

8. Nope, they're not cookies--these are Savory Meat Pies shaped like a Hamantaschen. Overtime Cook

9. How cute are these rainbow Hamantaschen? Kitchen Tested

10. Genius! Shape your sushi in a triangle. Busy in Brooklyn

I know I'm inspired. How will you make Hamantaschen this year?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Custom Pillows

You may remember back in December I did a post titled Decorating 911 where I was helping my sister update her living room from across the country. (I'm on the east coast and she lives in the mid west.) Her birthday was this month and I thought the perfect gift was something to jump start her redecorating, like these custom made pillows.
I thought the black and white pillows she had looked dated and I wanted to bring more of the pretty spring green color along with gray into the room. I found the fabric here--it's a  modern take on flowers that I had made into two 18-inch pillows.

In case you missed that post, here is what the room currently looks like with the old pillows...
and below is my (bad) photo imaging of what it will look like with the new pillows...  

Oh wait--last night the package arrived at her front door and she sent me this iphone shot:

She likes them! The room still needs a rug, window treatments, new lamps and more so maybe these pillows will get her moving!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DIY Pom-Pom Purim Groggers

I love to make groggers---those fun noisemakers we shake on Purim. Last year I made some out of plastic water bottles and this year I used empty soda cans.
I prefer the cans because the sound is much more intense when filled with small stones.

Here is what you'll need to create these...

Here's how:
1. Make the pom-pom (it makes the grogger look so festive and fun!) Cut some colored tissue paper approximately 5 x 5 inches. Be sure you have several layers of tissue. Fold in half and cut slits along one edge.
2. Fold in half to create a "flower" and tie string on the bottom to hold it together.
3. Cut off the top of the can with a can opener. Trace the can top on a piece of cardboard and cut out the circle. Poke a hole in the center of the cardboard using a sharp instrument. Insert wood dowel (mine is 16 inches long) into the hole and glue to the bottom of the can with a hot glue gun.
4. Fill can with small stones or beans.

5. I used "goop" glue around the edges of the cardboard circle.
6. After it dries, paint the wood dowel and the top of the can where is might show under the pom-pom.
7. Cover the can with paper of your choice...wrapping paper, scrapbook paper and stickers all work great. Hot glue the pom pom on top of the can.
8. For the fringe on the bottom, simply cut slits into the crepe paper to create fringe and affix to the can with double-backed tape.

So pretty and festive--perfect for Purim!
Linked to:
Creative Jewish Mom

Monday, February 17, 2014

Meet Rose and Satya from Object Art Kits

I've been following Rose Pearlman (she's a cousin!) on Pinterest for a few years and that's how I found her beautiful Brooklyn-based craft business, OAK.  I wasn't surprised--her parents have been involved in the arts for as long as I've known them, running the renowned Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont.  

Rose and her friend, Satya Patel have created beautiful, organic craft supplies for kids and I'm excited for you to meet them!
DM: How did you get started with this business and why?

RP:  It started with a conversation at the playground after picking our sons (Cy and Dilan) up from school. We were being candid about balancing work and family and doing something you love. We both have part-time jobs but we're not feeling entirely fulfilled and we discovered we had a commonality both with our passions, and personal goals for ourselves.

SP:  Soon after that initial playground conversation, Rose showed me some of her craft ideas and we discussed how we could work together to make this into a real business.  That partnership and accountability that it brings was a major factor in getting this business off the ground.

DM:. How do you come up with your products?

RP:   First, we evaluate the project to determine if it is both enjoyable and simple enough for kids to create. Next, we see if it encourages creativity while producing something both beautiful and useful that parents can appreciate and kids will enjoy. Finally, we decide if we can design it so it can be packaged sustainably while keeping it affordable. Some of the kits were years in the making while others are middle of the night inspiration. I always test everything with the students that I teach and my son. If in either case it does not get the enthusiastic thumbs up, it does not get made.

SP:  Rose is instrumental in coming up with many of our project ideas.  Through our collaboration, it has been amazing to see them become an actual product that we can share with others through our website. We’ve spent hours both in shops and online sourcing the best materials for these projects.

DM: What backgrounds do you both have that led you to this business?

RP: I have been an art educator for over 12 years and have taught both in the classroom and in New York City museums. I love to teach but also need to do my own art as well (I am a painter). The two have always fed each other but having a family sometimes makes it a juggling act. OAK is a way I can both create and share with others and not sacrifice the time I get to spend with my son.

SP: I come from a family of business owners (grandparents, father, and brother) and have a small private practice as a career counselor. Over the years, I’ve dabbled in drawing, painting, collage, knitting, crochet, jewelry design, and paper crafts. Similar to Rose, I’ve also wanted to figure out a way to incorporate these interests with a “career” while having the flexibility to be there for my son as he grows up.
DM: What is your favorite item on your website?

RP:  My favorite kit changes all the time and is usually influenced by the one I am developing at that moment. But if I have to choose just one kit as my favorite I would pick the Magnet Collage Kit. It's an art piece and a puzzle and I find myself constantly re-arranging collages on my refrigerator.  I love having art objects that are both form and function. My son made his magnet into a "tangram" puzzle (optional template included in the kit) and it becomes a mathematical educational tool that can be arranged on the magnetic tin case it's stored in which is great for long car rides.

SP:  The Worry Doll Kit is one of my favorite kits because it has helped to relieve my son’s fears of sleeping at night alone in his room.  The worry dolls are created by hand with pipe cleaners and wound with colorful luxury yarn. The worry dolls are inspired by a Guatemalan worry doll legend where children whisper their fears or worries to the dolls who will do the worrying for them at night while they sleep. My son and I have worked together to make him several dolls that he keeps in the pouch (included with the kit) under his pillow at night.
RP: But hands down the best seller and hardest to resist is the Tooth Pouch Kit. Kids use basic sewing skills to sew their own leather necklace pouch that can be worn in preparation for keeping those baby teeth safe whenever they fall out. It comes in a variety of beautiful colored leather, a child safe needle, nylon cord, felt feather and a hand-made tooth bead for optional adornment and 3 mini scrolls for notes to the tooth fairy.  Kids are so proud when they first start loosing their teeth and it's a great gift to celebrate the occasion.
DM: Best and worse thing about being a business owner?

RP:  As a business owner you are always going to have your strengths and weaknesses. Having a business you can't avoid the aspects that you may not be great at or don't enjoy as much (in my case it's the promotional and legality/financial part.) You have to embrace it all, which in the end only makes you stronger. 

SP:  The worst thing about being a business owner is staying focused and motivated even when things don’t go the way you expect them to go.  The best part of being a business owner is having the flexibility in my schedule to do other things that are important to me and having the opportunity to express my creative side.
Thank you Rose and Satya for sharing your can see all the Object Art Kits here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Night Sides

Thursday was yet another snow storm in the Northeast! 
It worked out well for me since I was able to stay in and cook for the guests I invited for Friday night Shabbat dinner. I have a few recipes I use again and again that are super easy and people seem to love--here are two of them.

The first one is this baked orzo and vegetable dish.
This recipe is very flexible--you can use more or less vegetables and substitute any that you'd like to use.

Orzo and Vegetables
Serves 6
Half a box of orzo pasta
Chopped vegetables (I used mushrooms, zucchini, one onion and frozen peas)
Half a stick of Earth Balance  margarine
4 tablespoons dry onion soup mix (or to taste)

1. Cook the orzo, drain, then mix with Earth Balance and onion soup mix to taste.
2. Saute the vegetables in one tablespoon of olive oil.
3. Add vegetables to orzo, toss, then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Here's another super easy but great salad that always gets compliments...
Health Salad
Serves 6
2 carrots peeled and sliced
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1/2 red bell pepper seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 head green cabbage coarsely shredded
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, combine the carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and cabbage. 
2. Prepare the dressing in a bowl and pour over salad. Allow to marinate at least 1/2 hour.
Recipe is from Passover by Design by Susie Fishbein  

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Etsy Purim

I love Etsy for finding unique, handmade items. If you don't have the time or know-how to put together a costume or other Purim must-haves, Etsy just might be the place for you to find that one-of-a-kind costume or hand-made grogger.

Here are just a few of my favorites...

               Strawberry Costume                             Adult Cow Costume                              Milk Costume

J U S T  F O R  F U N
               Hamantashen Hair Pin                                     Mask                                          Purim Kippah

R I T U A L   I T E M S
                     Grogger                                          Megillah Scroll Case                    Painted Wood Rattle

Monday, February 10, 2014

Birthday Party Aprons

Moussia's birthday is not until next month, but I had some small white kid's aprons from a previous project and wanted to try decorating them for her party. Since it's going to be an art party, each girl will wear an apron to protect her clothing from paint splatters. They turned out so cute!
 Here's how:
I bought aprons these last year at Michael's. I'll need a few more packs so I hope they still sell them!

The letters were purchased from Staples...
They are designed for indoor and outdoor use so they stick really well. 

Position the letters where you want them...
a piece of tape helps to keep the lines straight.

Using a stencil brush, dry brush some paint around each letter. I used Martha Stewart's craft paint.
Be sure to pounce the brush and not brush it and keep the paint dry. You don't want too much paint to seep under the letters.

Now for the fun part...
after the paint dries carefully peel off each letter. Your letters will remain white.

These colors are child-like but this idea would also work with more sophisticated colors on a plain throw pillow, table runner, or monogrammed napkins.
 Can't wait till she sees them!

Friday, February 7, 2014

This and That

Connecticut was hit with two snow days this week with a third coming this weekend!

I don't mind because snow days mean it's the perfect time to complete a painting project. I finished painting a Craig's list dresser I found for $150. It's going in Moussia and Zelda's room -- the girls are sharing Moussia's old one which is way too small for two little girls. What a difference a little bit of white paint can make!

I ran into Target with Yosef to buy batteries and found these great Thresold pillows on sale which look perfect in our living room.

Have a great weekend and Shabbat. We'll be buying more gas for the snowblower....

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Purim Seudat Invitations

This year, Purim falls on a Sunday (March 16) so it's the perfect time to invite guests over for a Purim Seudat (festive meal). Did you know eating a festive meal on Purim is one of the four requirements for this holiday?
Here are the other three:
1. Hear the megillah reading
2. Give tzedakah (charity)
3. Give shalach manot (food gifts)

Of course I could just call friends and invite them over but these invitations, shaped and folded like a Hamantaschen cookie are too cute to not send out! 

So simple to make...use a small plate to trace a circle on some tan colored card stock. (The tan color looks like cookie dough.)
 After cutting out the circle, fold it to form a triangle, just like you would fold Hamantashen cookie dough.
Print your invite on colored paper, cut into a triangle and glue into the center.
Purim is one of my favorite holidays--costumes, food gifts, parties and noisemakers!

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Tzedakah Boxes

I'm slowly adding more items to my etsy shop...the newest additions are these cute tzedakah boxes...
Since Tzedakah boxes are usually kept out on the kitchen counter, windowsill or on a tray with the Shabbat candlesticks they should reflect your style just like any other accessory you have in your home.

After all, your house probably doesn't look like your bubby's so why should your tzedakah box?   You can find them for sale in my etsy shop, here.
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