Thursday, July 4, 2013

DIY Terrarium

This is a simple, inexpensive and cute way to display your favorite cacti and the best part is they are very easy plants to take care of. I originally placed a mixture of cacti and succulents in my terrarium, but soon realized that because a succulent needs to be watered more regularily, these plants were not a good combination. When choosing your plants, try to pick ones with similar watering and light requirements.

You will need:

  • A glass container (I used a fish bowl style).
  • River rocks (any size).
  • Cactus soil.
  • Small plants of your choice (I used small cacti and succulents).

Start off by placing a bunch of the river rocks on the bottom of the bowl, this will allow for better drainage.

Now add the soil on top of the rocks.

The soil can be any depth that you would like, I filled my bowl to about half way.

With you fingers, make small holes in the soil to accomodate the existing plant roots and soil in the container. Remove the plant from the container and most of the old soil should go with it. Make sure that at least 3/4 of the existing soil is below the new soil and push the soil up around the plant while not packing it down too much.

Try to make sure the plants are evenly spaced in the bowl.

To finish it off, place the remaining river rocks on top of the soil for decoration.

Ta Da!

Place it in a well lit area of your home and make sure to follow the watering instructions that came with the plants.

What types of plants do you suggest using in a terrarium?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

DIY : Stump Accent Table

Check out these cute and crafty DIY stump accent tables. These were made by a friend of mine, Jennifer, and she says they were super easy to create.

Jennifer found these stumps unused near her home. She then removed the bark and sanded them down until they were smooth and had a level top. Using wood stain in the colour "Walnut", she stained them with an old cloth, which really brought out the natural wood texture and gave it a shine. She then drilled holes into the bottom for attaching the legs, which can be purchased at any home store, such as Home Depot and Ikea and cost about $10 for 3.
These little tables make great plant stands and are cute when topped off with a framed photo.

There also could be many different variations of this table, using different types of wood and sizes. Try using a large thinly cut piece of wood for a coffee table or use birch logs and leave the bark on without using any stain.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Make a Tank Top from a Guy’s T-shirt

After going to Target looking for something cute to wear on St. Patty’s Day, I realized that finding a nice green shirt in the ladies department was no easy task. I found a few different shades of green in different styles of shirts, but was left wanting something more genuine to the occasion. After a disappointing search, I noticed two large racks of St. Patrick day themed t-shirts in the men’s section. Jackpot! The only problem now was that they weren’t very flattering, and even size small was still a little bit large. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and came up with this DIY tank top from a t-shirt in 4 easy steps, no sewing required!


You will need:

Tank top (for reference)

Step 1: Make reference marks

  • Turn the t-shirt inside out and lay it flat, front side up.
  • Lay the tank on top of the shirt and make marks with the pen showing the neck line depth and strap thickness for reference.
  • Remove the tank and draw lines connecting the pen marks to follow while cutting.

Step 2: Cutting the t-shirt

  • Cut the neck out of the t-shirt following the pen marks. I cut the front of the shirt first then the back separately.
  • Following your pen marks for the straps, cut the sleeves off of the t-shirt, cutting both sides of the shirt at the same time.
  • Turn the shirt right-side out and set aside.

Step 3: Making the ties.

  • Take one of the cut-off sleeves and cut it along the bottom seam.
  • Open the sleeve up and cut 1” thick strips along the longest length of the sleeve. I used 2 strips.

Step 4: Tying the back straps together.

  • Take one of the strips and starting about 3” from the top seam of the shirt, start wrapping the two tank top straps together moving down as you go.
  • Tie a knot in the first strip to hold in place.
  • Take the second strip of fabric and repeat. Tuck the loose ends in.

The END!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

How to Throw an Anti-Valentines Day Party

Valentines day is quickly approaching and my trip to the mall today was a red and pink reminder of such. It seems that retailers will use any excuse to have a sale and make you think that your valentines day will not be the same without their heart shaped throw pillow or frisky cat kit equipped with cat ears and heart-shaped nipple tassels. But is everyone as excited for it as much as the lady purchasing the kit in line in front of me at the underwear store? No. Actually, some people are dreading the day, while others pretend to be oblivious to the "love is in the air" mentality surrounding them. And as every day passes getting closer to V-day, it becomes harder and harder to stomach. So how can you anti-participate, but still celebrate? With an anti-Valentines day party of course! Below are some steps to make your party a great one.

1. Tell guests that it is mandatory for them to NOT wear red or pink.
2. At no point during the evening may a guest say the V-word. Other words to avoid can include the L-word and sweetheart.
3. No one shall bring anything to the party that could represent valentines day such as chocolates, roses or cinnamon hearts.
4. At no point during the night shall any guest speak of an ex or any one they have been romantically linked to in the past or present (punishment of such should be determined beforehand).

Now that you are on the right track with these few how-to's, here are a few don't-do's.

1. Don't make pigs in a blanket appetizers, put two wieners in each and as you present them to your guests yell "caught you red handed you cheating pig!" while becoming teary-eyed.
2. When your best friend shows up with her new floral clutch yell at her "what are you trying to do? ruin my night?!" in front of everyone.
3. As your making a toast at the end of the night, don't sob and tell your guests "here's to another lonely year with out any one to kiss me good night" or anything remotely close to such.

So, now that you have all your tips to a great night, get out there and don't let those pink teddy bears and red heart shaped cards get you down. Use it as an excuse to get together with your friends and drink, and any excuse for that is fine by me.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sweet Berry Smoothie Recipe

Everyone has heard of the newest health sensation "shakeology" which encourages you to cleanse your body with blended smoothies to replace entire meals. As a health nut myself, I try to include smoothies almost daily into my diet, but only as a snack and not to replace a meal. A few people I know are die-hard smoothie and shake lovers and blend up veggies, fruit and anything else that is in their kitchen that they can throw into the blender. Personally, I like to stick to traditional fruit smoothies and they are delicious! I prefer to use frozen fruit because it chills the drink while giving it a icy texture without watering it down with ice cubes.

Here is a recipe for the Sweet Berry Smoothie.

1 banana
1/2 cup of mixed frozen berries including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
1/4 cup of vanilla yogurt
1 tbsp of honey
1/4 cup of skim milk

Blend all the ingredients in the blender until smooth and add the milk slowly until you get your desired thickness. I purchase the frozen mixed berries in a bag from the grocery store and you can substitute them with berries of your preference. Using raspberries and blackberries in smoothies cause pectin that some people do not enjoy, but I found that after awhile I became more accustomed to the pulp-like texture.

What ingredients do you like in your smoothies?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli

I ordered this once at a restaurant in Montclair, NJ and I loved it so much I decided I had to make it myself. It turned out even better than I thought it would, but honestly it was no walk in the park. I made the pasta from scratch using my KitchenAid mixer and pasta roller attachment. If you are going to attempt this recipe, I suggest giving yourself a couple of hours to get everything done without having to rush. But in the end, all the hard work is worth it!

I found a pumpkin ravioli recipe on the Food Network website ( and modified it to better suit what I had in mind, but it is a great base recipe to start with. This meal cost about $15 to make, depending on which ingredients you already have in your pantry.

Here is the recipe that I ended up using. It includes a recipe and directions for egg pasta dough, the ravioli filling and then a white cream sauce to serve over the pasta.

Have your KitchenAid mixer and pasta roller attachment nearby.
Have the flat beater and dough hook attachments for the mixer ready.
Clear counter space and place a sheet or two of parchment or wax paper down.
Have flour for easy access.

Ingredients for filling and sauce
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ can (400mL) of pumpkin puree
2 cups of heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
½ bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 cups chicken stock
About 1 cup of all purpose flour

Preparing the filling
Place the pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons of butter, ½ tablespoon sage, ½ teaspoon thyme, ½ bay leaf and 1 cup of cream in a saucepan and simmer over low/medium heat for approximately 30 minutes stirring occasionally. When the puree is thick and most of the liquid has evaporated, lower the heat and whisk in 2 more tablespoons of butter and the eggs a little at a time. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes then add salt and pepper to taste. It was rather bland at first so I ended up adding quite a bit of salt here. I stored the filling in the fridge over night and made my ravioli the next day, otherwise, set the filling aside to cool.

Note: the amount of filling that I ended up with was a little excessive, but can be frozen for future use.

Making the basic egg pasta dough
I got this recipe from the book that came with my pasta attachments.

4 large eggs
1 tablespoon of water
3 ½ cups of all purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt

Add all of the ingredients into the mixer bowl and mix on a low level with the flat beater attachment for about 30 seconds. Remove the flat beater and replace with the dough hook attachment and knead the dough for 2 minutes on level 2. My dough was pretty sad looking, it actually didn’t even look like dough, but chunky flour so I slowly started adding tablespoons of water until it started to look like dough. When I finally got my desired dough texture by adding small amounts of water and flour, I kneaded it in the mixer for about a minute or so. In the pasta attachment book, it says that if the dough stays together without sticking to your fingers when you pinch it, it should work well. Mine slightly stuck to my fingers, but I continued on anyways. Sprinkle flour onto a clean countertop and hand knead the dough for 1 to 2 minutes then cover with a dish towel and let sit for 20 minutes. You are now ready to start your ravioli adventure.

Making the ravioli
After preparing the dough, cut it into 4 equal parts and set aside. Take one of the pieces of dough and with your hands, lightly stretch it into a somewhat flat sheet to pass through the pasta roller attachment. Make sure to lightly dust each side of the dough with flour to prevent sticking. Starting at level 1 on the roller, guide the pasta through while supporting each end. Turn you dial to 2 and repeat, then level 3 and repeat. I found that I got the best shape when I alternated which end I fed through the roller first.

After passing the dough through the roller on level 3, take the sheet of pasta and place it on your parchment paper. I found that the ravioli was a bit thick when eating so you could run the pasta through at level 4 once if you would like. Take the cooled filling and place spoonfuls equal distances along the sheet, I was able to have 2 wide.

Take the next ball of dough and repeat the roller process. Place the second sheet on top of the first and press down around each mound of filling to create pockets and then cut the dough to create your ravioli.

This step was a lot of fun and so satisfying to see the creation start to come to life. Repeat the whole ravioli process for the last two balls of dough and this should make enough for 4-5 servings.

Preparing the sauce

Before making the sauce, fill a large pot with water and place on high heat to boil.

Place the 2 cups of chicken stock in a saucepan and boil down to about half. Add 1 cup of cream and boil down half again. On low/medium heat, whisk in 4 tablespoons of butter and add the remaining herbs. I wanted my sauce to be thick and creamy so I slowly whisked in some flour while the sauce was simmering to thicken it. I found that the sauce did not need any salt, but you can season to your preference with salt and pepper.

While preparing the sauce, add the ravioli into the boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes. Do not overcook the ravioli or it will fall apart. Remove the ravioli from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside until the sauce is done, then serve!

If you are really on your game, you could throw some garlic bread with cheese in the oven to broil and serve with the pasta.

Have you tried pumpkin ravioli? Comment below to tell us what you think of this recipe.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Antique finish dry brushing

I just finished this project and ran to the computer because I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone. I wasn’t really sure how it would turn out, but I think it looks great!
I found this item in the basement of my friend’s apartment building and immediately my mind starting racing. I had no idea what the previous owner had used it for or why they threw it away, but I knew that it was a nice wrought iron piece and that I could make something great out of it. I decided to make it into a jewelry stand, but first I had to “pretty it up” by spray painting it and using a technique called dry brushing to give it an old antique look. This paint technique can be used in a variety of ways from sprucing up an old piece of furniture or dressing up an ordinary picture frame.

Items that I used include flat spray paint in “Antique”, a 1” paint brush and craft paint in “Bronze” from the Martha Stewart Living metallic paint line. I also purchased a little heart shaped glass jewelry holder from the dollar store. Total purchases came to about $15.00.

Here are some tips to help you along on your journey of antique brushing.

Before starting, ensure your item is clean and dust free by wiping it down with a cloth and if the surface is rough or rusting like mine was, give it a quick sanding down to make the surface is as smooth as possible.
Next you can start spray painting your item, following the directions on the back of the spray can. Because my wrought iron stand was black to begin with and I was covering it with a lighter color, it took about 3 coats of the paint. You should wait a few minutes in between coats for the paint to become tacky, the recommended time should be in the directions, but I waited 5-10 minutes between coats.

For the final coat, I waited for it to dry overnight so I could pick it up and see if there were any spots that needed to be touched up. Conveniently, my dad has a ventilated paint booth in the basement, but if you do not have this luxury, I recommend spray painting outside or in a well ventilated area and protect the surroundings with newspaper or old cloths.

When your item is completely painted and dry, you can start with the dry brushing. As the name states, you want your paint brush to be almost dry, dabbing most of the paint off after dipping the brush. This will create dark streaks over the surface to give it the antique look. Use quick brush strokes along with longer ones, whatever works best and gives you your desired texture. Start off with a light layer and slowly increase the amount of paint until you find your happy medium. It is super easy to do and creates something super unique and beautiful.

Have you used this technique before? Comment below describing your dry brushing experience.