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Tutorial: Winter Framed Chalkboard

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The CSI Project

I recently started following the CSI Project – “Create Something Inspiring.”  Last week, they featured one of my tutorials on their site to gear up for the “Favorite Project of 2012 Challenge.” This week, the challenge theme is “Winter Crafts and Decor” and I’ve been thinking all week what I could do for the project.  While I had a few ideas throughout the week (including a super cute “winter” sign I wanted to make), my issue was the budget.  I am getting ready to move (again), and if you’ve never done it before, moving is EXPENSIVE.  Especially if you are breaking your lease and taking a job that cuts your income by a fourth. (But having a job I enjoy will be worth it.)  Anyway, with the move scheduled for February 8, I’m really trying not to spend the little money I have.  Thus, I couldn’t justify buying craft supplies.

Yesterday, however, it hit me.  I have all the supplies I need to make the PERFECT project.

Shopping List

  • picture frame (Walmart $4.00)
  • blue and white paint
  • white glitter
  • glitter puffy paint and/or silver puffy paint
  • chalkboard paint (Lowes)
  • mod podge

Step One: Take the frame apart and paint it completely with blue paint (I mixed mine with white to create a softer wintery blue).

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Step Two:  While the paint is still wet, sprinkle the white glitter onto your blue frame.

Step Three: I then used puffy paint to add glitter polka dots to my frame.  Also, using the puffy paint, I painted simple snowflakes onto wax paper, allowed it to dry overnight, and then peeled the snowflakes off to glue to my chalkboard. For now, paint the snowflakes and let them set.

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Step Four: Now we’re to the kind-of-tricky part.  Chalkboard paint.

I’ve read online that the spray kind of chalkboard paint will adhere to glass. The last time I used spray paint, however, I ended up in bed the next day with a migraine (too many fumes, is my theory, even though I did it outside!), so I prefer to use the canned variety.  Yes, if you use a brush you can see the brush strokes. However, invest in a $3 foam roller, and you will be fine.

That said, the first coat of chalkboard paint went on as I expected — it definitely needed a few more coats.

IMG_1324Here is where I ran into trouble, and this very nearly turned into a Craft Fail kind of project!  When I went to put on my second coat, the paint began to separate from the glass, forming a lot of cracks and in general, a wet mess.  I then realized that my can of chalkboard paint says nothing about adhering to glass. Sooo…

However, being the determined little craftster I am, I wandered around my apartment for a minute, looking for alternative surfaces.  I wanted to enter this CSI Project Challenge, GD!

The paint can lists cardboard as one of the surfaces that this paint can be applied to, so lacking cardboard, I went with cardstock.  First, I applied a thin, even coat of mod podge to the glass surface.  It’s important to make sure the entire glass is coated, or you will see the paper begin to bubble up in sections.  I actually even had to flip the glass over and apply paper to the backside, as my first attempt ran into the bubble problem.  Anyway, after the paper was glued down and I had let it dry a few minutes, I repainted the surface with the chalkboard paint.

IMG_1344After three coats, it was good to go!  I then glued my puffy-paint snowflakes to the chalkboard and inserted the whole thing back into the frame.  I hot-glued the back cardboard piece to the sides of the frame (I had pried it off before I started), and my chalkboard is complete!  Easy, cute and very WINTERY!

Next time, I’d like to try using galvanized sheet metal (apparently you can buy this at Lowes in the plumbing section) to create a MAGNETIC chalkboard.  If you do that, again I’d recommend either using the spray paint chalkboard paint (not sure how this would do on metal) OR I have read that you can spray paint the metal with a metal primer and then paint the chalkboard paint on top.  But that project is for another day!

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Celebrating the New Year with Butter Pecan Cupcakes

They might not look it, but they taste AMAZING!

They might not look it, but they taste AMAZING!

This past summer I visited Chapel Hill, North Carolina for a few days and had the opportunity to visit Sugarland, an amazing bakery located right on the main street of town. Those cupcakes were delicious.  After I moved to Charlotte, I thought often of those cupcakes.  The yummy french vanilla, peanut butter blast, red velvet… Oh so good.
photo2Discussing these cupcakes with a friend, we discovered there was a bakery in Mooresville, North Carolina, also known for delicious cupcakes — SweetCakes Bakery.  We ventured there a few Saturdays ago.  The Cookies and Cream cake was AAAAAMAZING. I did remember to take a picture of it — but not before my first bite.

I also found the Butter Pecan cupcake absolutely delicious, which leads me to this post.  After having that one butter pecan cupcake, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  I thought about the crunchy pecans, the smooth buttercream, the moist cake… It haunted me.

But alas, I am poor and cannot afford to buy all the cupcakes I would like to eat (gourmet cupcakes here run about $3.00 a cake!) SO I did some research and found a recipe that I felt I could satisfactorily replicate.

I first discovered this recipe through CupcakeProject, but to get the actual recipe, you have to go to Paula Deen‘s website.  You’ll find there a recipe for maple pecan cupcakes with butter pecan frosting.  I was feeling lazy today, so I used cake from a box for the actual cupcake.  However, I did make the buttercream by hand.

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Supplies:

– unsalted butter

– salt

– chopped pecans

– vanilla extract

– confectioner’s sugar

 

IMG_0758The instructions are really simple – melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet, add your pecans and cook on medium-low heat until all the butter is absorbed.  While that is happening, you can work on the buttercream.  Again, super simple – just mix the butter till its light and fluffy and then slowly add in the powdered sugar, mixing as you go.  Finally, mix in the vanilla extract — I only used 2 TEASPOONS (instead of 2 TABLESPOONS) because I didn’t want the frosting to be overpoweringly vanilla-y.

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After the pecans have absorbed all the butter, take them off the heat but leave them in the skillet.  I would wait until the pecans cool completely before folding them into the buttercream.  I did not, and the frosting got kinda melt-y (I am quite the wordsmith today, huh).  After it cooled, it returned to the normal consistency, but just to be safe, I would wait till everything has cooled.

 

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photoWhen your cupcakes have cooled, frost them with deliciousness! At this point, it’s up to you what you would like to do with them.  I am contemplating eating all 18 myself.

 

Don’t tell my mom.

 

 

 

 

Tutorial: New Year’s Eve Earrings

Unlike me, my sister is the typical 21-year old party girl.  While I will be chilling with my dogs and maybe a friend or two on New Years Eve, she will be hitting the bars, no doubt.  With that in mind, I made Ali a pair of earrings for Christmas that are just perfect for a New Years Eve party.

 

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IMG_0674Supplies for one SET:

– two small black beads

– two small gold beads

– four large black beads (3/8 inch)

– two large gold beads (1/2 inch?)

– four medium gold beads (1/4 inch)

– two medium black beads (1/4 inch)

– chain (mine is a very dark brownish black)

– wire (mine is a very dark brownish black)

 

 

You can see the number of links per bead in the picture here.  The largest gold bead hung at 9 links, while the smallest black used only 3 links.  Depending on the type of chain you use, the number of links will vary.  I found it helpful to leave each chain a little longer for the first earrings and cut it down as I played with how each bead would lie in the clump.  Then, for the second earrings, I cut the chain at the exact number of links.

 

From this point on, it’s pretty simple.  Create the head pin with the wire by wrapping it around the round-nosed pliers. String the bead on the wire, and then create a loop and string the chain on BEFORE closing the loop:

String the chains on your ear wire — I used the order I listed the beads in above. I found it fell nicely that way, but you might want to reorder the beads based on your beads and chain. And there ya go!

New Listings: Ribbon Bookmarks

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Tutorial: Dangling White Pearl Earrings on Bronze Wire

photo-3I hardly ever buy gifts these days.  I try to make my gifts whenever I can, tailoring my craftiness to my giftee’s tastes. (The one exception has always been the guys in my life, but I’ll save that for another post!) When I found out we were doing a Secret Santa gift exchange at work, I figured it would be a great chance to get a little exposure for Eva M Designs at work and give a super nice gift to a coworker!  So instead of getting a $5 gift card to Starbucks (though I really did enjoy that Frappuccino!), our drama teacher got a nice $26 pair of earrings.

IMG_0591In case anyone would like to replicate this exchange, I’m going to share with you the process! It’s somewhat time consuming but fairly simple.  First, you need to start with your set of pliers, bronze chain, bronze wire, and your glass pearls.  You’ll have to tailor everything to the size of beads you use as well as the size of the chain links in order to get the same dangling effect, but the process is still the same.

Using your round nose pliers, curl the end of a peice of wire (you only need 2-3 inches, depending on the size of the bead) into a small circle.  I use this technique in place of a head pin.  I personally don’t like using headpins, because I’ve found the wire is often too difficult to bend and/or is not long enough to easily wrap.  Plus my method is cost effective, and it automatically matches whatever color wire I’m using!  String your center bead (the largest pearl) onto the wire, like so:

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The first time I made these earrings, I wasn’t sure on the exact length of each pearl, so I always overestimate.  I cut a chain of 7 or 8 links, and then I trimmed that down to 6 after I had the bead attached, as you can see in the picture above. So cut your chain to the length of links you would like, and then you can continue with the other end of the bead you have strung onto your homemade wire headpin.  It is important to remember to attach the chain as you are wrapping the other end — I have forgotten before and have had to start over. By attaching the chain, this is what I mean:

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Then, go ahead and wrap the end of the wire around the stem of the loop you just created.  Hope that made sense!

At this point, you are repeating this process for as many pearls as you want in your cluster.  I used one large, two medium, and one smaller for my cluster.  I generally prefer asymmetry, but feel free to add a second smaller bead. After you have strung your pearls on chains, like this:

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IMG_0594It is time for you to make your ear wires.  Now, the first time I made these, I made the mistake I was telling you about — not remembering to string my chains on BEFORE I finished.  So now I have a set of bronze earring hooks with nothing on them:

Don’t do that! First, wrap your wire around your round-nosed pliers.  Before finishing the loop by wrapping the wire around its stem, string on your chains in whatever order you think falls best.  I used: medium bead, large bead, medium bead, and small bead.  THEN, finish the loop by wrapping the end of the wire around the loop’s stem.  So now you have a wire that ends in a loop with your dangling chains.  To shape the ear hook, you are going to bend the wire around a round rod — I use a colored pencil, although you could also use a screwdriver.

Align the pencil to the bottom of the loop, then bend the wire over the pencil.  Clip the wire below the loop, and using your round-nosed pliers, flip out the very tip of the wire. To smooth that jagged end of the wire, use a wire rounder.

And ta-da! You have lovely new earrings:

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