Category Archives: DIY

DIY Wine Cork Wreath

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I love wine. Who doesn’t? I started “drinking” wine at church as a child—Catholics sure do know their beverages—which is only one of the many testaments to its charm and awesomeness as an adult drink.

I also love to make things and to be crafty and creative. Rarely do I drink wine and craft at the same time as I find the influence from the spirit may have a bit of a negative impact on the quality of my craft. When I came across an impressive wine cork wreath on Etsy, I knew I had to combine my love of wine and DIYing (not to mention, by doing it myself, I was saving a pretty penny).

The DIY wine cork wreath was a fun and easy project. I ordered used wine corks off of amazon.com—sounds weird, I know, but they’re typically from restaurants—and I found the rest of the materials at Michael’s craft store. It’s such an easy craft to personalize and it really is a beautiful wreath. The warm hues, earthy tones, and the pops of burgundy from the red wine blend perfectly, leaving a warm and interesting door accessory (just think of all the stories that belong to each cork).

The entire project took me about three hours. It creates a bit of a mess and your fingers may be sore, however, the finished product is well worth it. Plus, nothing says ‘mature adult who likes to party’ like a wine cork wreath.

Materials:

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-Foam wreath

-Corks – I used about 225

-Toothpicks – you need the same amount of toothpicks as corks

-Burlap, at least 5 feet (another 5 feet if you want to do a bow)

-Hot glue gun

-Glue sticks – I used about a dozen

Directions:

-Poke a toothpick through the long side of a cork. Add a little hot glue around the toothpick and along the toothpick side of the cork and glue/poke it along the perimeter of the wreath’s hole. Continue until you have glued/poked the cork all the way around the inner circle/inner part of the wreath.

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-Next, hot glue the burlap to the outer perimeter of the wreath (you may have to cut your burlap to proper size).

-Cut more strips of burlap and glue them to the face of the wreath. You don’t need this part to be perfect—just enough coverage that you can easily hide the white foam with the corks. I lined the wreath with burlap because it eliminates the bits of stark white foam that the corks didn’t cover. You don’t need to do the last step on the backside of the wreath unless you want to. I didn’t because the backside isn’t visible to the naked eye, but it’s your choice (I didn’t even add corks to the back because you can’t tell by the way my wreath hangs on the door).

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-And now go to town on gluing/poking the corks into the foam. Make sure to insert the toothpick into the long side of the cork (for a majority of them) and don’t forget the glue. I started on one side gluing/poking a few corks at a time, then I would alternate decorating the different sides, always a few corks at a time.

-I didn’t have any pattern accept to follow some type of ordered chaos. You will need to do about two layers of the randomly placed corks. You really can’t mess this up unless you leave too many spaces in between the wine corks. Also, don’t be scared to cut some of the cork into smaller pieces because they can easily fit in some of the snug areas. Cutting cork is very easy with a regular chef’s knife.

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-Once you have created the two layers on the face of the wreath, it’s time to apply the uniform cork alignment to the outer perimeter of the wreath. It’s very similar to how you glued/poked the corks into the inner part of the wreath. Again, I didn’t add corks to the backside of the wreath because you can’t tell by the way I hang it on my door. Feel free to decorate the back if you want it covered in corks (I saw it as saving a few bucks since I didn’t have to buy extra corks).

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-I had a few gaps, so I proceeded to randomly add more corks on the wreath where I saw fit. Again, there really is no wrong way to create this type of look—just make sure you mix up the placement of the corks and don’t leave awkwardly shaped gaps that are difficult to fill or cover.

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-If desired, add a burlap accessory. I found bunching the burlap to be much more easier and attractive than tying a bow (but blame my bow-tying skills, or lack thereof).

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-Display where you see fit. You may need to leave a bit of bare space on the top back part of the wreath so you can fasten it properly to any specific type of hardware you decide to use. Don’t forget, adding a holiday bow this time of year is also a good idea.

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Homemade Dog Treats

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Remember the saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?” Well, the same goes for dogs—just ask my dog, Nora, a mini cockapoo and lover of socks, belly rubs, nooks, naps, and all things food (except spinach and apples). Nora is an elemental part of our family and she is undoubtedly one of the most spoiled dogs ever. There aren’t enough words to explain my love for this little furry being, so I won’t even begin to try. Seeing as baking is something I love to do for the ones I love, I can’t get over the fact that it took me this long to bake a homemade treat for my beloved Nora.

We’re not the sit-down-at-the-dinner-table types. Yes, we have a dining room table, although it only ever gets used for special occasions and thus accumulates household/personal crap. While I feel this is typical for most 20 somethings out there, it becomes problematic if you have a dog—and an agile one at that. My dog’s unremitting begs for bits of food can get annoying, albeit cute, yet they leave me feeling guilty for not letting her join in on the eating. Therefore, I figured it was definitely time to make/bake something for Nora that she could actually eat and enjoy herself.

Most of the homemade dog treats I referenced were extremely easy recipes, so I decided to make her two different kinds of treats: one with a peanut butter base and one a little bit more savory. The peanut butter treats are made of pumpkin puree, peanut butter, an egg, oats, and whole-wheat flour (If your dog is on a strict diet, brown rice flour is an alternative to whole wheat flour). To the human pallet, they don’t taste so hot, but your dog will love them–plus, they’re not loaded with unnecessary sugars found in other treats.

The savory dog treats consist only of whole-wheat flour and baby food. I used beef baby food and sweet potato baby food, but you could use any type of meat/vegetable baby food you think your dog would enjoy (just make sure there is no onion!!). Not sure what to give your canine? This is a great website for dos and don’ts concerning your dog’s food. And just remember, like with any other dog treat, let your pup indulge in moderation. These homemade treats can be larger than store bought ones, so we gave Nora (a small breed)  just half of each treat.

Nora absolutely loved her homemade dog treats and thought they were bowwow-wonderful. She didn’t leave my side in the kitchen while I was prepping and baking—it was almost as if she knew I was baking for her. She devoured both types of dog treats and was left wanting and begging for more. After Nora saw me put the treats in the pantry, she stood next to the pantry door for over 20 minutes until I turned the lights off and went to bed–something she’s never done before.

I’ve officially become that crazy dog lady and I’m proud of it!

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You’re making me treats, mom?!

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I’m a good dog, I deserve some treats! See, I can sit!

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These taste so much better than dog food!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

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Ingredients:

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-1 cup of pumpkin puree

-1 egg

-1.5 tbsp peanut butter (smooth)

-1/4 cup oats (I used quick oats)

-1.5 cups of whole-wheat flour

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In a bowl, mix together the flour and oats. Set aside.

-In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, and peanut butter. Mix until well incorporated.

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-Stir the flour and oats into the peanut butter/pumpkin mixture until well incorporated.

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-On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough.

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-Cut out your desired pieces. With a fork, poke holes in the middle and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

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-Cook for 25-30 minutes.

-Let cool for at least ten minutes before serving to your furry best friend.

Beef and Sweet Potato Dog Treats

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Ingredients:

-1 cup whole-wheat flour

-2 tbsp sweet potato puree or sweet potato baby food (I used the baby food – much easier and timely).

-6 tbsp beef baby food (I could only find beef with gravy and it worked out fine. Just make sure whichever baby food you use does NOT have onions in it).

*You can use any mixture of baby food/puree as you choose—chicken, turkey, etc., just make sure you have at least 4 oz. of puree for one cup of flour.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the wet ingredients with the flour.

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-Stir until well combined and dough has formed.

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-On a lightly floured surface and with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about ¼ of an inch thick.

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-Either with a cookie cutter or a knife, cut out your desired shape. With a fork, poke holes in the middle and then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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-Bake for 20 minutes and let cook for at least ten minutes before serving to your dog.

*Note: I didn’t use all of my dough and chose to freeze the leftover dough to use at a later time. These treats aren’t packed with preservatives, so use them within one week or so.

And a plate full of homemade dog treats leaves a happy doggy begging for more and a happy mom for knowing exactly what’s in those dog treats!

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But I want more? Can’t I have more? Aren’t I cute enough for just one more treat?

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These Socks are Made for Crawling

I’ve been nannying off and on for over ten years. Following my college graduation, I worked a few “professional” jobs that I couldn’t tolerate, never lasting more than a few months at a time in an office setting. Seriously, if an email address, an office chair, and professional work attire are required for a position, I DON’T WANT IT! With that in mind, I’ve been extremely lucky working multiple roles as a modern day Mary Poppins. I love kids and have an exuberant amount of patience for them (not so much with adults), which is why I do what I do.

My current position entails taking care of a 9-month-old baby girl. She started crawling about a month and a half ago and has been on the move ever since. She’s quite the interested infant and loves to explore the confines of her urban condo. There is a drawback, however, and that is that most of our time is spent in the great room–which only has one medium sized area rug–forcing the 9-month-old crawler to cruise on the hard wood floor. Not only is the floor cold, but it’s obviously hard on her little knees. On days when she wears pants, the floor is no issue; but since it’s summertime in the south, she’s regularly dressed in the typical onesie to keep cool.

Whilst wasting time on pinterest the other day, I came across a pin about “babylegs” and I knew I had to make them (find babylegs here: http://www.sisterssuitcaseblog.com/2012/08/diy-babylegs-guest-post-from-courtney.html). The blogger I referenced used a sewing tactic to make her leggings, but I didn’t want to put in the sewing effort as I’ve only done so in home economics class back in junior high school over 15 years ago (writing that makes me feel old). I therefore skipped the sewing part, and to my benefit, the leggings actually turned out quite well. The leggings roll a bit on the ends, but that doesn’t deter them from protecting chubby, little legs and knees that are constantly on the move. This was a simple and easy project that took under 15 minutes to complete three different pairs of crawler leggings.

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Materials:

-Knee socks (I used three pairs purchased from Target)

-Marker

-Scissors

-Straight edge to trace the cut-off line (I used a credit card)

Instructions:

-Lay out the socks as evenly as possible on a flat surface

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-Take your straight edge and align it as straight as possible just above the heel of the sock. With the marker, draw a straight line above the heel that is parallel with the top hem of the sock.
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-With the scissors, cut along the line as evenly as possible.photo 3 (5)

-And there are your crawler leggings. Do what you please with the foot of the sock (I’m using them as little hand puppets). I find it easiest to flip the socks when putting them on baby: ie. put the cut end up on the thighs, leaving the hemmed part of the sock on the ankles.photo 4 (5)But what do they look like on a baby? Adorable is the only word that comes to mind.

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Raising The Bar

Chris and I moved to Charlotte with only our personal belongings, a few kitchen accessories, two televisions, and my Grandmother’s antique vanity.  What furniture we did have was just not worth the cost of moving. Seriously, the Salvation Army offered to trash Chris’ couch and chair instead of take them as a donation.

Over the past eight months, we have slowly but surely filled the place up and made it home. Our apartment is spacious with an open-floor concept and it’s my favorite thing about Charlotte. But there is this one area of the apartment that I’ve been attempting to make sense of since we moved in. It’s a corner space off of our kitchen with two electrical outlets. It is too small for something like a reading nook, but too big for a plant or other large piece of decor.

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Now I have this obsession with Prosecco and I buy the sparkling wine whenever it’s on sale, so there are many times when we have multiple bottles of wine without a place to store (wine racks are only so big). With room lacking in the kitchen, I decided to turn this oversized corner into our very own bar. I mean, BARletta is my last name, so it’s only fitting.

Since we have no idea where we will be living come January after Chris finishes up school, I wanted to make sure that the bar consisted of versatile pieces that could be used in different ways in case we have to downsize. In addition, I plan on heading back to graduate school in the future, so throwing money away on unessential household furniture isn’t exactly a sound financial move on my part. So I promised myself to stick to a budget and not go over $150 dollars on this DIY project.

I looked at Pinterest for in-home bars and saw that sofa/runner tables were great bases. I was about to go searching around for garage sales, but luckily my boss was getting rid of their runner table and offered it to me. Suddenly, her trash became my treasure and starting point, and in thanks to the unintended savings, I would be able to add some detail.

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The table didn’t provide much storage, so I wanted a lamp that did. Target—the most amazing store in the whole entire world—fortunately sold a lamp with shelves for $30.

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I needed some other type of shelving on the wall and again, Target did not disappoint. I bought two wall-mounting shelves for $25. On the same trip to the best store on Earth, I saw a wooden framed mirror on sale for $20. I had to have it.

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The huge white space under the shelves still drove me crazy, so I happily sacrificed a Sunday afternoon at Michael’s craft store to see if I could find anything to spruce it up.

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I hate fake flowers that look fake and I can’t ever seem to find fake flowers that look real, so I chose what I like to call “Gandalf sticks” to fill the area. I had to break them down a few times to fit the space, but I like the lines and coloring they provide. Plus, I plan on taking them out every now and then and screaming, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS.” I apologize; I am the biggest Lord of the Rings fan and can’t pass up an opportunity to quote the movie. The Gandalf sticks were $15 and the vase was $10.

I also hoped I could include some type of Happy Hour flair. I saw chalkboards creatively used on Pinterest, but I could not find a single store in Charlotte that sold a chalkboard that wasn’t on an easel. Michael’s, however, had a viable and affordable substitute in the form of ready-to-hang pieces of slate for $5. The basket underneath the table for additional beverage storage was on sale for $10. To better define the space with a rug, I chose a kitchen mat from Target that cost $25. Seriously, why would I go anywhere else? All in all, I actually stayed ten dollars UNDER budget—something I rarely do. Woohoo!

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Chris and I now have our own bar feet away from our two favorite hang outs: the kitchen and living room. There is something so gratifying about enjoying a cocktail in your slippers. The best part about the bar is that our prices beat any other bar in town.