Monday, February 25, 2013

Chalkboard Spice Drawer

I finally finished this project.  I have been working on it for, literally, months.  I'm so excited to have it done.  This project was a comedy of errors, but I got through it.  I also learned a little something about chalkboard paint along the way.  

My spices used to live in a cabinet near my stove.  I fixed up this cabinet in this post, where I made it a little easier to use and see each spice.  

They looked good, but they were not easy to retrieve.  We also got more spices than fit on these shelves.  

After we installed the new cabinets, we had an open drawer right next to the stove.  It was the perfect place for a spice drawer.  My plan was hatched, but implementing this plan was a whole other story.  

I had the baby bottles.  I spent a couple of hours cleaning them.  The best way to clean the glue off these bottles was with Goo Gone.  I'm sure you know about this stuff, but if you don't, you should.  It is so cool.  You put the Goo Gone on the jar, then rub it off, and just like the name implies, the goo is gone.  

I had trouble with the chalkboard paint.  I wanted to paint the tops of the jars and write on them with chalk.  My paint rubbed off when I wrote on them.  I had the same problem with my Coke Bottles when I first started blogging.  I tried everything to get my chalkboard paint to work but nothing helped.  

So instead I ordered Chalkboard stickers from Etsy.  Unfortunately, I had my old address on the Etsy account and the stickers got sent there.  They never came back.  

While I waited for my chalkboard stickers I filled the jars.  

To keep track of which spice was which I used star post-it notes.  My drawer did not look perfect, but I knew which spice was which.

The spice jars while I waited for the stickers
Before I ordered another set of stickers, I decided to try painting the bottle tops again.  My husband suggested I did not paint enough coats on the tops (and the bottles) so I tried again.

The spice jars while I painted the tops.
I also decided to try a chalkboard pen.  The pen writes on chalkboards but writes like a pen.  This was better for my spice drawer because I wanted the spice labels to be clear and easy to write.  One great benefit of the pen is that it does not rub off but can be wiped off with a wet sponge.  

I painted one top with three coats and then wrote on it with the chalk pen and .... it worked.  The chalk pen did not rub off!  I immediately tried my old Coke Bottle and my chalk pen worked on that one too!  

I then proceeded to paint all the tops.  

It is the middle of winter so I had to paint them outside and then bring them back in to dry.  It was very tricky.  

Three coats later I had painted bottle caps.  

I lined my drawer with some fabric to add a little color. 

I added the bottles with their nicely labeled tops ... 

 ... and popped in a little spoon for sprinkling.   

Finally, my little spice drawer was done.  It may have taken me four months but I did it.  

I'm happy for it to be done.  Every time I open that drawer I smile.   

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Little Valentine

My birthday is one week after Valentines Day so no fancy dinners, long stem roses, or jewelry on February 14th.  Valentines Day is a quiet evening at home.  Because the month can get expensive I usually make a nice dinner for the two of us.

What follows is my ideal little Valentines night at home. In reality, much of this probably won't happen.  It is a weeknight after all.

So, this is the ideal.

Valentines Dinner for Two

Individual Chicken Pot Pie

First, a nice dinner.  We love chicken pot pie in this house so that was our pick.  I just got some really cute little Le Creuset oven-proof pots.  My little pies will look great.  You can find the recipe here.  This is a Better Homes and Gardens recipe, so you know it will be good. And the best part?  The recipe is for two.  I will probably make a little salad for the side.

Next ... Desert.

Chocolate Souffle

Nothing says "Romantic Valentines Meal" like chocolate souffle for two.  I love me some souffle.  The trick is not to over mix the egg whites.  I got this recipe is from Real Simple Magazine.

Extra Valentines Fun

Now for the fun stuff.  If I had all the time in the world I would also add these little touches.

A cute outfit is always nice, even for a evening at home.  I have the pearls, shoes and dress, I could use a red clutch and scarf, but who needs a clutch when you're not leaving the house anyway?

After dinner it will be nice to use these dice to mix things up.  Don't worry, they are totally PG.  Follow this link for the printable.

If we get the need for a little snack I would love to have these cookies on hand.  Maybe next year, after I have  the cookie cutters.  Sorry, there is no recipe or tutorial.  I guess I can write some directions when I figure out how to make them.

How do you celebrate Valentines Day (or do you just hate the "hallmark holiday."  Hay, I'm not judging)?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

DIY Tea Towel Gifts

Now that Christmas is over I can write about my Christmas craft.  I like to make a craft for my lady friends to either add to a traditional gift or as a little thank you to a good friend.  I believe that a hand made gift is the best kind of gift to give because it shows a little effort.

This year, like years in the past, we had a limited budget.  I decided to make hand stenciled tea towels for the kitchens of my friends and relatives.  I was careful to make the towels to match their kitchen decor or at least a color I knew they would like.

I made red (not shown), yellow, turquoise, and brown tea towels.

At first, I was thinking of using a stamp or two, but then I decided to go back to my tired and true technique of stenciling on fabric.  I already had many of the colors in fabric paint, all I needed was the stencil.

I'm really into bold graphic designs, but nothing too modern.  This damask pattern seemed just right.   

How to Make Stenciled Tea Towels


Tea Towels (I used flour sack towels from Wallmart)
Fabric Paint
Piece of wood or cardboard to protect surface
Stencil Brush


1. I like to get all my supplies together and set out before I start.  That way I know if I'm missing anything.

2. Unfold and lay out your tea towel on a protected surface.

3. Make one color at a time.  I like to mix different colors to make a custom color for my friends.  I think it is more creative and makes this handmade project a little more origional.  Mix your color on a pallet (or plastic plate like me).  Don't worry if you run out of a color and your next batch is a bit different, it is nice to have some natural variations.

4. Stamp the fabric paint onto the tea towel over the stencil.  Be careful not to have too much paint on your brush, otherwise it will bleed.  I used the stencil as a guide to gauge where to put the next design.  I also decided to only have the design on the bottom of the tea towels. 

5. Repeat pattern for all you tea towels.  Change the colors as you want.  I made a set of two for each friend.  Some of my friends got the same colors, and others got different ones depending on what I thought they would  like. 

6. Let dry.

7. Iron, wrap and give.

A lot of my friends liked this gift.  A couple of them said they were too nice to use as dish towels and decided to keep them for other purposes such as curtains and table cloths.

This was a fun project.  I made 26 tea towels in all.  It took two or three days but I got it done.  I have made a vow to start my Christmas craft-making early this year (July Christmas crafting anyone?).  It is not fun to add stress of crafting for a gift to the holidays.  I would rather have it out of the way.

Do you make crafts for Christmas presents, and if you do, when do you start them?  
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