Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

Party Hair Tutorials

Most of the time my hair goes straight up into a bun every morning, except when I have a big meeting or a fun engagement that night and then I spend the time to straighten and maybe even put my hair in curlers (my fiance can never understand why someone with naturally curly hair would straighten and then recurl their hair… he doesn’t undestand the idea of bouncy cascading curls verse kinky uncontrollable curls…).

But for those specialty events when I want to stand out, I turn to the trusty internet for hair help. Here are my favorite 4 hair tutorials that I have pretty much successfully  mastered:

The Martha Stewart Side Chignon 
(Note: This is the most difficult, but after trying a few times it looks fantastic. Don’t forget to curl your hair because when the pieces stick out of the chignon you want to make sure they look purposeful, not like you just can’t get your hair to behave.)

Cup of Jo Gibson Roll
(Note: Make sure to give yourself a little volume on the top with a fine tooth comb so that you don’t look too “Heidi”. Also messy is okay here! It’s a “Oh I just threw my hair up as I ran out the door and oh, does it look fantastic? Well thank you so very much” hair do.)


Cupcakes and Cashmere Beachy Waves 
(Note: This one is great because it is hard to mess up. Just make sure that you curl in different directions and that you mainly curl from your ear down. We’re not going for Shirley Temple here!)

Joan Holloway Inspired Mad Men Do 
(Note: Okay, this was for a Mad Men party.. but had I not gone so crazy with the teasing, this could have been an awesome regular party updo)

P.S. The number one advice I can give you as the secret to awesome updos is: Make sure your hair is a day or two dirty. Might be gross, but I swear it helps!

~ c


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‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through DC

Tiny lights were strung among streets lamps, windows and trees

The shops were all buzzing with a last minute rush

I even saw a caroler (or perhaps a mid-day lush)

With three holiday parties and only hours to spare

I needed something quick, but with holiday flair

Away to the market I ran like the wind

White chocolate, cream cheese and Oreos (peppermint!)

I crushed up the oreos and mixed in the cream cheese

(I left a few oreos on the counter as a tease)

I rolled them into balls (smaller than a quarter you’ll see)

With my budget double boiler I melted with glee

With a dip and some sprinkles my hostess gift was all done

Super easy, delicious and festive and fun!

With these cute oreo pops I could pull any fella,

Merry Christmas to all and THANK YOU Bakerella!

Bakerella’s Oreo Truffle Recipe: http://www.bakerella.com/grocery-item-goes-gourmet/

* My budge double boiler is pan with water, a colander and a bowl that is microwave safe, but not stovetop (whoops!)

* When you realize that you can’t let these dry top down, you can dump all your eggs into tupperware (and break 2) and then use the styrofoam egg carton to hold up the sticks

* I used Trader Joes peppermint Joe Joes, Wilton white chocolate disks, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and CakeMate Peppermint Sprinkles I found when I couldn’t find regular candy canes anywhere

* The truffles melt easily in heat, so my advice is to freeze them prior to setting them out so that they melt slower

~ c

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1. Retro striped drinking straws to make drinks a little more fun.

2.  Fleur de Sel-– a nod to one of their semesters in France

3.  CSA membership— because you aren’t you always looking to share a box, and don’t you  need a consult on what to do with that mystery root veggie?

4.  Mulling spices, with some apple cider and a bottle of bourbon– and the hope that you are invited too 🙂

5.  A mix of pretty nail polish colors for roommates to share (because that’s what roommates are for)

6.  Candles for inside (this set looks striking together or separate, at every stage of melting.  For a cheaper version, try these on Etsy)  or tin votives to make their porch feel dreamy

8.  Japanese Washi masking tape– so. fun.

9.  Cheese making kit— A strange new journey for them to embark on together

(*all images via product websites or pinterest)

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Poor Girl’s Christmas

Here’s one for the gals and guys with itty-bitty apartments (and wallets…)

In lieu of a tree this year, I have decorated my apartment with space- and wallet-friendly alternatives.  Garland, cinnamon-scented pinecones, shiny baubles, ribbons, and a remix of the candles I already own jazzed up my apartment with Holiday cheer for the eyes and ears.  Throw on the OnDemand Yule Log and pop some gingerbread ladies and gents into the oven, and I’ve got myself a merry little Christmas.

The true key to this endeavor was scouting the remnants of a tree selling stand to scrounge discarded boughs of pine and various sized stumps.  I placed them in a bowl to serve as a bed for my pinecones and ornament bulbs and fastened a feathery branch to my door with a red bow, like a minimalist (ehem, free) wreath.



I arranged the tree stumps together as festive votive candle stands, and strung a starry garland with the rest of the bulbs.  Where did I get all these baubles that are livening up the place?  A little-known boutique called Tar-jey, (although I know with some foresight you could grab some from another little-known boutique called Your Parents’ Basement, gratis.)

Target Bulbs: $5

Tree Branches and stumps– $0

Scented Pinecones-$5

Star garland– bought last year for $2 on clearance after Christmas at an international craft store

Ribbon, votive candles, fir-scented candle– $0 since I already had them laying around.


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It’s the most wonderful timeeeee of the year!

Somehow it is December 1st and 2012 is just one month away. Lucky for us December is a pretty fabulous month full of spiced cocktails, shopping and lots and lots of cookies. For the month of December we will be sharing our favorite presents to give (and get!), plus a bunch of DIY presents for everyone from your mom to your boss to your roommates.

To start the giving season off right we are going to show you our DIY *sweet* project from last year which we gave to our favorite coffee and tea drinkers.

These sugars, with flecks of vanilla bean and real citrus zest , are truly decadent additions to your morning coffee or a special topping for your Christmas cookies. Plus it is super easy to make! Package it up in a cute mason jar or even just an old jelly jar spruced up with a red and white ribbon and you are good to go.

Vanilla Sugar
3 Cups of Sugar
2 Madagascar Vanilla Bean Pods

Open the vanilla bean pods by slitting the pods down the middle lengthwise and the scrape the insides out into the sugar. Pulse the ingredients together in a food processor until the vanilla is evenly distributed. Spread sugar out onto cookie sheet and let dry for an hour or so. Divide among jars and decorate! We also sliced the remaining part of the pods into 2 inch segments and put them into the sugars for both decoration and to keep the vanilla scent nice and strong.

When we made these last year we bought the vanilla pods from Whole Foods for about $7 for 2, but this year I found packages of 2 pods at Trader Joes for $3.99!

Citrus Sugar
3 Cups of Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
Zest of 1 Lemon

Pulse all ingredients in food processor until evenly distributed. Spread sugar out onto cookie sheet and let dry for an hour or so. Divide among jars and decorate!

To refresh the sugars, shake vigorously before each use to awaken the flavors. And the holiday season begins! (Cue Mariah Carey…..)

What is the first holiday activity you have planned?

P.S. Tonight is the National Tree Lighting Ceremony! (photo from MiamiHerald.com)

*Image 1: Classy Wreath from Target

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The Best Part of Wakin’ Up….

Alarm. Snooze. Alarm. Snooze. Alarm. Snooze. Alarm.Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. Uhg. Up.
This is how my morning begins every single day. It used to be that my trick for getting my feet to finally touch the floor was the promise of a pumpkin spice coffee or a reduced fat turkey bacon sandwich from Starbucks, but this “get out of bed trick” was costing me nearly at least $25 a week. Not cool.
So I started brewing my own coffee every morning. After many trials I finally settled on my absolute favorite every day coffee:
This coffee is delicious on its own (especially with my new favorite coconut milk creamer), but this fall I saw this Trader Joes Pumpkin Spice coffee and couldn’t help but buy it. From then on I started mixing in 1/3 pumpkin coffee and 2/3 regular. It rocked.
But somehow the Pumpkin Spice latte kept sneaking its way into my life. Driving into work with my favorite coworker suddenly became a Pumpkin Spice Latte morning. Sunday walks with my sister = Pumpkin Spice. Frustrating Tuesday afternoon = Pumpkin Spice.
Pumpkin Spice Lattes were winning.
So I decided to take a crack at making my own Pumpkin Spice syrup from scratch. After researching a few I settled on the recipe below, adding in a bit more of each spice (because I like my syrup to have a bite to it) and it came out perfectly. So perfectly in fact that the fiancé sent me this text “I was going to be super annoyed at the fact that you made a syrup we’ll never use and didn’t finish your dishes. But then I put it in my coffee and it is really good. Soooo never mind.”
This batch will last you a month or so and it is 100% worth it. I promise your mornings will be just a little bit better and sometimes, that makes all the difference in the day.
~ c
1/3 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep syrup from burning.
Let mixture cook together until it becomes syrup-y and begins to coat the spoon (for about 10-15 minutes), then remove from heat.
Can keep refrigerated for up to a month.

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Thank ya very much.

I have a deep reverence for a real, hard copy, let-me-find-a-letter-opener piece of mail.  Whether it is the nature of my job or my mother’s insistence on writing Thank You Notes after a birthday, I really put a lot of stock into handwritten cards.  I make it a point to have available stationary within reach to reduce the chance that my messages get lost in the “well I was gonna…” trap.  I thought I would share some of my artillery with you.

I am slowly building a nice collection of rubber stamps and colored inkpads.  It is important that you have a nice variety of seasonal, pretty, and useful stamps.  Last year, the snowman was perfect for stamping on the tags I strung on the mason jars of homemade vanilla sugar I gave to friends.  The snowflake is actually a flower in the summer and spring.  And in a pinch, I can slam the “Thank You” on the middle of a blank card and have a uniquely minimalist look.

I recently invested in these quirky letters.  They are so fun but you have to be careful not to smudge the drying ink with your hands as you stamp the n.e.x.t. l.e.t.t.e.r.

Nice pens are another key to a good card.  Take your time and try out the testers before buying so that you get a pen that works with your writing.  I know for me, goopy pens just won’t cut it for my half-cursive. Le Pen is my favorite brand.

The packs of blank cards and envelopes are very cheap at The Paper Source, so I try to keep a variety of colors to mix and match.  But I also collect stationary and cards that real designers created for occasions where rustic/quirky isn’t quite appropriate.   Plus there are so many beautiful designs out there that sometimes I can’t resist a splurge!

I hope I just sent your mind reeling with sudden jolt of crafty energy, which is what happens to me whenever I look at my budding collection.  But the important thing to remember is that your collection is an evolving animal—it is easy to go crazy and spend $100 dollars on supplies before you even write one note, so my suggestion is to start small and augment once you have a sense of what you need and what draws your attention.   Trust me, one can easily rack up a $100 bill in one trip to Paper Source, but a well-built empire is extremely satisfying.

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