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Scenes From My Kitchen: Pie Making
National Pie Day was back in January, and every year I make a "mile-high" lemon meringue pie. Better late than never.  I decided to document the pie making process with some pictures. Enjoy!


















It was delicious.
Danifood, home
The Easiest Cookies Ever. PS-This is Not a Recipe
So let me tell you about the easiest cookies I've ever made.  It started with a cookbook (and technically a husband that's been unintentionally deprived of baked goods for a few months.)  This particular cookbook has my favorite lemon meringue pie recipe, and it was sitting on the kitchen counter for a few days.  I've been meaning to make the pie (for our annual homage to Pie Day), but it's an all day process and has to wait until the weekend. I asked my husband to look up the crust recipe to see if we had all the ingredients.  He then proceeded to flip through the cookie section, and after a few minutes started to rummage through the cabinets. "We have all the ingredients for this one."

Within an hour, we had freshly baked oatmeal cookies. 





They were delicious.


So, to recap, a deprived-of-baked-goods husband might bake you some cookies if you can "trick" them into looking through a cookbook. It never hurts to try, right?


Danihome
Front Door Face Lift
I've really been wanting to paint my front door.  The inside of my house is full of bright colors, but the outside is just a light blueish gray with white brick and trim.  We have lots of landscaping and flowers, but it needed some more color.  So I bought some purple paint! 


The before shot leaves a lot to be desired for a front door.  Pfff. White. Who needs that? Not me, I say.



I gathered some painting supplies: roller, small brush, paint tray, sandpaper, towels.  I gave the door a quick rub down with the sand paper and then made sure it was squeaky clean.  The worst part about painting anything is taping.  I hate taping.  But I did it anyway, like a good little painter.


 This is what one coat looks like.  Terrifying, right?



Two coats on the door looks a touch better, but not much.



Woohoo! Three coats! It finally looks good! 
(Like my doormat?  You can make your own with my DIY found here.  I did give it a little bit of a touch up this weekend.  The coir material was finally starting to wear out. You know, because we step on it and stuff.)


Here's the before and after shot together.  LOVE!



Is your front door a crazy color too?
Danidiy, home decor, home
Make a Toad Home for Your Backyard
So, it finally feels like Spring around here!  Spring at my home means it's time to garden.  I probably don't have to tell you this, but gardening, whether it's growing your own food or pretty plants, is so good for many reasons.  You're growing your own, healthy food, which means you're probably cutting back on buying produce that travels hundreds of miles to reach your grocery store.  You're putting nutrients back into the Earth.  Landscaping, especially with plants native to your region, is also important for your local environment.

But let's not forget about the critters that live in your yard and garden. You can make homes for them and encourage helpful critters to stick around. If you're lucky, you can get a toad or two to take up residence in your yard and help you keep the populations of insects, centipedes and slugs in check. Who wouldn't want that? ;)

So, today I'm showing you how to make a Toad Abode for your backyard! 

Here's what I used:
 


I've had these vintage trays that belonged to my great great aunt that I thought would be perfect for this project--so cheery and floral!  Using a tray like this has some advantages.  First, if you are trying to attract an amphibian like a toad or frog, they're going to need their home to be somewhat moist.  A tray will help collect and retain moisture. Using a tray also makes your toad abode easily movable in case you need to change locations.



Building your toad abode is super simple. Turn your broken pots upside down.  Layer rocks.  Have fun with different layouts and substrates.  I used peat moss and not dirt because it holds moisture better. 



Toad approved?  I think so!



Here's another example:



Place them in a safe spot away from pets, like a garden fence corner...

 
...or nestled among some ground cover. 



You'll need to make sure that whatever substrate you choose to use stays moist. Just give it a squirt with a spray bottle every now and then.

There are so many possibilities.  You can even decorate your pots with weatherproof paint or sharpies.  Maybe drawing little flies on your pot will attract more toads...

Have fun!
My Craft FAIL and Paint Your Own Pillow Cover DIY
So, this is an unplanned blog post.  Maybe you're asking, "but, Dani, how do you not plan a DIY project?" Good question.  And the answer involves an embarassing admission.  I had a major craft FAIL.  I mentioned in this post, that I was going to make my own (less profrane) version of this pillow.  Well I did.  And it turned out great.  I was super proud of my new pillow. But, you know when you look at a particular word or two for a really long time, the words start to look funny. Well, I blame that for my craft fail: I spelled DIEM wrong, and I didn't even realize it until the pillow was sitting on my couch for a few days:

Awesome.

But I really wanted that pillow.  So, I made another one, and decided to turn it into a tutorial for you guys.  So, if you want to make your own pillow cover (and obviously, you can choose any phrase or words your little heart desires), this is what you'll need:

Supplies:
Fabric*
Print out of your chosen words
Scissors
Chalk or Erasable Fabric Marker
Pins
Tape Measure or Ruler
Permanent Fabric Marker
Permanent Fabric Paint
Paint brush
Cardboard and clips
Sewing machine

*My pillow cover is for a 15 inch square pillow, so my fabric is 15 x 36 inches.  With this size, I have a half inch seam allowance for the width to make my pillow cover slightly smaller (14 inches wide) to make the pillow nice and full.  The length of the fabric is not set in stone, but you want at least six inches more than double your pillow cover width. (So in this case I want 14 x 2 + 6 = 34.  Since I had a yard of fabric, I just went with 36.)



Step 1: Cut out your letters. (Mine look funny because my printer is apparently low on ink...)



Step 2: Mark the center of your fabric for reference.  Also mark where the top and bottom edge of your pillow will be. (So now I have marks at 11 inches, 18 inches, and 25 inches.)



Step 3: Using your reference marks, pin the letters onto your fabric.  It's also a good idea to clip your fabric to your cardboard at this point, so you have a steady backing for pinning and keeping your letters straight. Um, it's also at this point that you want to double check your spelling *ahem*.


Step 4: Trace your letters with the permanent fabric marker.  Then remove the paper.



Step 5: Paint your letters.



Step 6: After my letters were filled in, I used chalk to write out the handwritten letters, then the permanent fabric marker, then I made it bolder with paint.  Let your paint dry completely--a few hours will probably suffice.



Step 7:  Sew seams on the short ends of the fabric.  I chose half inch seams.



Step 8:  Place your cover right side up, and fold the ends as close to the top and bottom reference marks from step 2.  These folds will overlap.  Pin the sides together.



Step 9:  Sew the sides with a half inch seam allowance.



Step 10: Turn your pillow cover inside out and stuff it!



You're all done! (And hopefully yours is spelled correctly!!)  Enjoy!





Home Decor - Travel Wall
Last month, I mentioned I was redecorating my living room. We got a new sofa after not having one for at least six months--we sat in office chairs in our living room, because I could NOT find what I wanted. I wanted a lightish gray sofa, and something that could be easily cleaned. I searched for a while and nearly settled on outdoor furniture. Then we found two sectional pieces, in light gray leather, on SALE even, that worked really well for our space. SCORE!

But I digress. I don't really want to talk about my sofa today. I want to talk about what's on the wall above my sofa. I call it our Travel Wall. The Travel Wall includes items that we have picked up from our trips or represent a place we have been somehow.



I am enamored with traveling. I love each part of the process: deciding where to go, reading travel books, planning the trip, the butterflies in the weeks before we leave, experiencing new cultures, foods and languages, getting lost, meeting new people, returning home, going through mementos and pictures, and telling our stories, the good and ugly.  Since our 2008 honeymoon in St. Lucia, we have been fortunate enough to travel somewhere new every year.  We've been to London (and a few surrounding areas in England), Paris, all over Italy, Ireland and Scotland.  And we stayed stateside one year and went to Las Vegas, then to the Grand Canyon and a bit through Arizona.
























So here is part of our new living space (and that's Kitty)! 



So, let me tell you a bit about what we have on the Travel Wall (because the best part is being able to share the stories)...
























1. This is a print that we picked up in Northern Ireland at The Giant's Causeway.  Seriously, this was my favorite place to visit in Ireland.  It's a UNESCO World Heritage Sight and part of Northern Ireland's National Trust.  It is a piece of the coast that has naturally formed basalt stone columns that are beautiful. The place feels magical.

2. This is a print from this Etsy seller. It features a the streets of London as a map. I love getting up close and reading through it, remembering the places we visited.

3. Love this little cat.  It's an original watercolor that we purchased from a street artist in Siena, Italy.

4. This is a print from this Etsy shop. I have been lusting after Lucile's watercolors for some time now.  It's a map of Italy, on which Lucile has painted different regional Italian foods.  Needless to say, the food we had in Italy was ridiculously good.  And the wine....so much wine!

5. I love to have a map of the world in the house.  I love to use it for reference...and daydreaming...

6. This is a fun, stylized sheep on a tiny canvas that we picked up in Scotland at a handmade craft show!  I was so excited to find this little show--there were so many cute things.

7.  I used to have a larger world map, and these two pieces are sections cut from that map (the Caribbean and Europe.)

8. This used to be a reusable bag.  We went to the Grand Canyon in  2011 and have been using this bag ever since, until just recently when the handle started to tear.  So, I decided to cut out the panel and frame it!

We also picked up some fun coasters in Ireland, and I like to display one or two of my favorite photos from our trips.  Below you can see a photo of the gargoyle's view of Paris from Notre Dame Cathedral. 

Oh, and do you see the books on the table?  We may or may not be planning another trip....(EXCITED!)

How do you like to remember the places where you've been? 
Danihome decor, home, travel
Locker Restyle: Home Storage


My husband and I have always liked the look and potential functional use of lockers in home decor.  I mentioned in this post that we have been redecorating our living room, and using lockers was a unique storage solution for us. 

I was tired of dusting books and vases and pottery and knick-knacky things.  I wanted something that could actually be used for storage, but keep items accessible--to make things look a little more put together. 

So we found these blue lockers at a local surplus store.  Perfect!  

Brandon added some simple shelves so we could maximize the locker space.  You'll notice that a shelf was not added to one locker--this one will be used for guest coats and purses.   In the other spaces, we have our most used gardening/cookbook/travel books, photo albums, candles and blankets. 



 I love organizing things and coming up with new storage solutions.  What are your favorite organization or storage solutions?

Danidiy, home
DIY Welcome Doormat
I'm currently redecorating my living room (more on that later) and was looking for rugs when I came across some really cute welcome mats.  But cute welcome mats are expensive--and I couldn't find one that I just loved.  So I made one.  And you can too!



 You'll need:

Plain coconut coir doormat
Spray paint (I used brown outdoor spray paint)
Heavy paper--like card stock
Craft knife or Scissors
Cutting Mat 
Masking tape
Newspaper/Cardboard


Decide how big you want your letters/design to be according to your mat, and make sure your heavy paper is big enough to accommodate that and have a bit space left on the edge.  I just sketched my letters onto the paper, but you could always print out your letters using your favorite font!



Carefully cut out your letters to make a stencil.  I recommend clipping your paper to the cutting mat so it doesn't slide around. Also, for any letters that have open spaces, like e's and o's, you'll want to keep that piece attached by a small sliver of paper to ensure it will show up on the finished product.





Since my words were on two separate pages, I used masking tape to attach them.  Be sure to leave the amount of space you'd like to show up between the words.




Next, center your paper onto your mat.  I made a couple little marks with a Sharpie (in the dot on the i, and in the cross of the t) to center my words again if they happened to shift.  (I'm glad I did this!)





Next, block off the rest of your mat so you don't get paint where you don't want it.  I used newspaper and pieces of cardboard.  (Center your letters again if you need to.) 




Now it's time to paint!  Make sure your paper is laying flat on your mat before you start.  Try to keep the spray of paint vertical, so you don't end up spraying underneath the paper.




I gave my mat a couple coats of paint.  The coir material really soaks it up. Let it dry a bit before you remove your stencil.  Of course, you'll probably want to peek before you completely remove your stencil to make sure that you have enough paint coverage.



All done!  If you did get a little too much paint between letters, you can rough up the fibers a bit to help camouflage the overspray.

There are so many possibilities with this!  You could do a monogram, a cute silhouette, or different colors and designs.  I'd love to do another one with a chicken silhouette and one with neon colors!  Let me know if you try this--I'd love to see what you create!
Danidiy, home