Sunday, December 23, 2012

Favorite Christmas Ornaments

Christmas is almost here - only 2 more days! I hope you have the tree decorated, your house all decked out and are going to be spending some time with your favorite people.

I wanted to share some of my favorite ornaments. It seems like our favorite ornaments always come from a special person or have a special back story that make them our favorites. This first one is one that my husband and I got at an engagement shower (a Christmastime engagement shower) before we were married. It's just funny to think of Santa in a swimsuit. You always think of him in his red and white suit, complete with black boots, right? This ornament features a spring in the middle so Santa can wiggle a little on the tree!
Favorite Santa Ornament
My next favorite ornament is made out of punched tin. It's an Auburn logo and in case you didn't know, I'm an Auburn grad and fan, as is my husband, so of course we love it. This one was a gift, and came from a craft expo/show of some sort that a friend went to. We love how unique it is.
Favorite Auburn Ornament
The next one also came from a craft expo/show and was a gift from a family member. It's a personalized ornament for our sweet dog, Maggie. You have to have an ornament for your pets too you know!
Dog Bone Ornament
The last one is one of my childhood favorites that is hung on the Christmas tree at my parents' each year. It's an ornament that has a place to put one of the lights through so it illuminates the inside of the little house. You can see Santa, Mrs. Claus and their dog (of course they have a dog!) enjoying a fire. As children, my brother and I would fight over getting to hang this ornament where we thought it should go. I still look for it every time I come home at Christmas.
Favorite Christmas Ornament
 
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! What are your favorite ornaments? Do they have a special meaning or did they come from someone special?
 
 


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Favorite Jambalaya

I'm a fan of the one pot meals. One pot wonders, if you will. Somehow those seem to be the most comforting meals, don't you agree? Think about it: chilis, soups, pastas, casseroles. They are some of my favorites.

I want to share one of my favorites; it's a jambalaya recipe from Cooking Light that we have made over and over. It's a no-fail recipe for us. And of course, it's a one pot wonder. (Click image for a larger picture.)
Favorite Jambalaya Recipe

Check out the recipe here. We make a few small adjustments that I'd recommend if you're trying the recipe:
 
  1. Add the tomatoes before simmering instead of after. Drain them slightly before adding.
  2. We use about 1 tablespoon of Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning instead of ground red pepper and salt.
  3. Try subbing in shrimp for one of the meats. Cook it separately and then add it to the pot at the end when chicken would be added.
Start with the trinity (onion, bell pepper, celery)...

 
And end with one delicious dinner!
Favorite Jambalaya Recipe

I hope you'll give it a try and let me know what you think. It's an easy meal that you'll want to repeat again soon. And you'll get to - one of the best parts of this recipe is the leftovers. It is even better the second day. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at my house! While I love the smell of a real tree, we have a nice, pre-lit artificial tree. You can't forget to water it and don't end up with pine needles all over the floor. And you can always get a yummy Christmas tree scented candle to make up for it, right?

Anyway, as I got out our tree decorations this year, I thought our tree topper bow looked a little sad. I made it a few years ago and it just wasn't cutting it anymore, no matter how much fluffing I did. So I started looking for a good tutorial online. I found a few helpful tutorials (this one and this one) but wanted to share the tips and insights I gathered as I made a new tree topper. Read on for my Christmas tree bow topper tutorial.

Items needed:
  • Wire-edged ribbon of your choice
  • Two pipe cleaners/chenille stems matching your ribbon
  • Scissors
The ribbon I picked came in 30 feet rolls. It was way more than I needed. I think 20 feet would be plenty if I could guess. 
Christmas ribbon from Hobby Lobby 
Start by pulling a good bit of ribbon off the spool. This will make the bow making easier. Allow enough ribbon for the end (or tail) that will hang down the tree, and make your first loop. Keep in mind the bigger you want the bow, the bigger your loops should be.
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
The next step is key if you have ribbon printed on one side only and you want the print to show. Twist the ribbon over once (180 degrees, not 360), like this:
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
Make a loop (which will now be print side out) the same size as your first loop. Follow it with your 180 degree twist like this:
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
Make a lot more loops, remembering to twist 180 degrees after each loop or your ribbon print won't show on each loop. Also remember to keep the loops the same size so your bow will be even. Think about how big and full you want your bow to be. I made 10 loops (5 per side) for my tree topper bow.
 
Once the last loop is made, leave enough ribbon for the end or "tail" to hang down on the tree. I'd recommend going longer than you think you need and you can trim it later. Twist a pipe cleaner or chenille stem around the center of the bow where you have been holding it. Tuck the ends under the rest of the pipe cleaner or chenille stem to secure it.
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
And fluff.
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
Then hang it on the tree. The best way I found to do this is create a loop for the top of your tree with another pipe cleaner and attach it to the one you used on your bow. Now, stand back and admire your work!
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
 
 
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
 


 
 



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Old Railroad Bridge

Recently my husband and I were visiting family in North Alabama and decided to take a trip across the river to Sheffield, AL. We certainly aren't professional photographers but we enjoy taking pictures with the DSLR we bought ourselves last year. I want to invest some time in learning more about our camera and general photography, but in the meantime, I'm just taking lots of pictures when I can.

Here are a few from the Old Railroad Bridge in Sheffield, AL. It was originally built in 1840, and then became a double-decked bridge in 1958! That's some history. Enjoy!

A shot of the historical marker - I didn't get the back of the sign, sorry:
Old Railroad Bridge Historic Marker Sheffield, AL

From the top of the double-decked bridge:
Old Railroad Bridge, Sheffield, AL

Old Railroad Bridge, Sheffield, AL

Old Railroad Bridge, Sheffield, AL

Old Railroad Bridge, Sheffield, AL
 
And from the bottom layer of the bridge:
Old Railroad Bridge, Sheffield, AL

Old Railroad Bridge, Sheffield, AL

Old Railroad Bridge, Sheffield, AL
 
A panoramic shot thanks to my iPhone 5 (Making it bigger didn't work out so well, so enjoy at this size!):
Old Railroad Bridge, Sheffield, AL
  
And here's a bonus shot...just some fall foliage from a walk.
Florence, AL - Fall Foilage

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November: A Month of Thanksgiving

If you're on facebook, you've probably seen friends posting the "Day 1: I'm thankful for..." posts, listing a new thing each day. While I haven't been participating on facebook, it's made me think about all of the blessings I have and should be grateful for. Sometimes I think we rush around, from task to task, errand to errand, not realizing how blessed we are. Maybe that's just me. Sometimes we're so focused on that thing we want that we just don't see what's in front of us. Things you may completely take for granted may be exactly what someone else has been praying on for weeks, months, even years.

I think this a good opportunity to remind us all to reflect on the people and things in our lives that we should be truly thankful for. Here are a few that come to mind: My sweet husband, our adorable dog, our great friends and family, my job, our cozy home, music and art, the beauty of the Fall colors...too many! I feel like I could go on and on! Most of all, I'm thankful for Jesus, who provided my salvation. His love is overwhelming and unconditional. Nothing compares and I hope you know His love as well!

I hope this has inspired you to think about all of the wonderful blessings in your life during this season of thanksgiving. What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Grilled Pizza Fans

My husband and I heard about grilling pizza a few years ago but didn't try it until maybe a year ago. The first time, it was good, really good. We used our charcoal grill and you can imagine the smoky, delicious flavor that gave it. Then we got a gas grill this past spring, so we have been using that a lot, and our poor Weber charcoal grill isn't getting nearly as much love. Gas grills are just so convenient, and you still get some nice smoky flavor. We still love the flavor you get from charcoal, but with the quick warm-up of a gas grill, it's an easy choice most nights.

Back to grilling pizza. I want to share the grilled pizza love with everyone because it's such a tasty twist on the pizza that we already all love.

Grilled Pizza Recipe


We are huge fans of Publix deli pizza dough. I feel sorry for you if you don't have a Publix in your area, but I'm sure your favorite grocery store has pizza dough in the deli section if you ask. You can buy a ball of dough for about $2 at Publix and then top it however you like. You let the dough rise for about an hour and then it's time to roll it out into a pizza crust or two. That takes some muscle, but give it some time and you'll find a decent size ball of dough makes two medium pizzas. For grilling, we recommend these steps once you have it rolled out:

1.  Preheat the grill for a few minutes on high with the cover closed. Gather your sauce and toppings. A tray is great for transporting these to the grill.

2. Once preheated, turn to low. Brush olive oil on one side of the crust and put the pizza(s) down with the oiled side down against the grill grates. Close the grill cover. Tip: Add minced garlic to the olive oil.

3.  Let it get slightly done (enough to "set" but not too brown), then brush olive oil on the side facing up and flip it.

4. Quickly top with sauce, toppings and cheese. Close grill cover.

Grilled Pizza Recipe


5. Keep a close eye on your pizza. You don't want it to burn but do want it to brown. Tip: If your cheese isn't quite as melty as you'd like, try moving the pizza to the top rack along the back of the grill. That will keep it from burning on the bottom but allow the cheese to melt more.

Grilled Pizza Recipe
 
Look at these beautiful grill marks! Is your mouth watering yet?

Grilled Pizza Recipe


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Project Burp Cloths

Last week I shared some sewing projects I'm interested in trying out - see the post here. I decided to give these burp cloths a try:

I have a baby shower coming up for a friend and thought these would make a nice gift with a bit of a personal touch. The instructions on this tutorial were helpful but read on below for a bit more detail. I'm a sewing newbie so sometimes I need really thorough instructions (and then sometimes I still don't get it!). If you're like me, this may be helpful.

Items needed
-Sewing machine
-Cloth diapers (I used Gerber)
-Fabric to use for center strip of each diaper (I used fat quarters and that was more than enough, but measure your diaper and add about a half inch extra on each side)
-Matching thread
-Scissors
-Ribbon (optional, for wrapping)

1. Start by washing both your cloth diapers and your fabrics to be used. I always do this. You don't want to work on something only to have it shrink the first time it's washed and become warped. After washing, you will need to iron the cloth diapers and the fabric.

2. You want the fabric to cover the center, more padded part of the diaper. Determine how much is needed for this and add a half inch to each side (Step 3 explains why you need the extra.). Cut each piece of fabric.

3. Fold the fabric under a half inch on each side and pin it in place with a straight pin. Using a sewing gauge to determine where to fold really helped me. Press it with a warm iron to create a nice fold and then remove the pins. This will give you a clean hem when you sewing the fabric onto the cloth diaper.
Easy Burp Cloth Tutorial
4. Once the hem is ironed on each side, place the fabric design side up (like you want it to be sewn) over the middle, more padded part of the diaper. Using straight pins, pin the fabric in place on the diaper.
Easy Burp Cloth Tutorial
5. Using your sewing machine, sew all four sides of the fabric onto the diaper using matching thread.  Take the pins out as you go.

6. You're done. Stand back and admire your work! That wasn't so hard, was it?

Here are the four burp cloths I created. The mom-to-be has decided to wait to find out if it's a boy or girl, so I used gender-neutral fabrics:

Easy Burp Cloth Tutorial
This is optional of course, but for a nicer presentation once the mom-to-be opened this, I rolled each diaper cloth and tied it with a ribbon. I just folded the plain strips of the diaper cloth under the patterned area and rolled them.

Easy Burp Cloth Tutorial

All in all, this was a pretty easy project. Getting the fabric exactly straight and even was a little difficult, but I found a sewing gauge tool helped greatly. If you don't have one, a regular ruler would work fine. You would just need to make sure to turn each fold under half an inch so it's even.

Have you made burp cloths before? If so, was there a tutorial you used? Maybe one day I'll try the other burp cloths I mentioned in my post last week about sewing projects I want to try!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sew Easy?

Yes, that's a pun in the title. I'm a sewing newbie - I just got my first sewing machine this summer and I have been hard at work figuring it out. I've got the needle threading down, so that's good, right?

I'm looking for beginner level projects to try. Pinterest has made locating some projects so much easier. There are plenty of pins for "beginner level projects" and "easy sewing projects" out there and I've pinned quite a few on my Sewing board and continue to. I thought I'd share some of my favorite project ideas - you can click on the title or the image to find the tutorial:

A compilation of bag tutorials - Bags seem like an easy and functional project.
Sewing Tutorial: Totes
 
 
A really cute burp cloth tutorial - These are made using cloth diapers as a base.
Burp Cloth Tutorial
 
 
And these other cute burp cloths - These are from scratch but look pretty straightforward.
Burp Cloth Tutorial
 
 
These adorable embellished flour sack towels - These seem easy to personalize to your kitchen's decor and are so cute!
Embellished Tea Towel Tutorial
 
These fun place mats - I love that you can personalize them to match decor, holiday etc.
Sewing: Placemat Tutorial
 
 
 
This cute baby minky blanket - Okay, so it may take some non-beginner skill but I'd like to try it eventually.
Minky Baby Blanket Tutorial
 
 
If you're not so new to sewing, what are the best tips can you share? What projects do you recommend for a sewing novice?


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Adding a Touch of Fall

I live in The South. It may be October, but it's warm here still, and will be for awhile. Last week, we had a cold front that came through, teasing us about the cooler weather to come...enough for us ladies to break out our boots, but we know the 70s will be back soon enough.

This, along with the fact that Halloween is a few weeks away, had me thinking about a Fall wreath for our front door. I knew I wanted to make one, and I knew I didn't want to spend much. I also knew I'd pinned about 10 wreath links on Pinterest, so I started there. I pinned this one last year.

Ribbon Wreath Tutorial


After looking through several links, I decided to make this one from The Long Thread, but in orange instead of the gray ribbon. Orange seems "Fall appropriate" and like something I might be able to use in the Spring as well, so I went on the hunt for bulk ribbon online. I found this ribbon on amazon.com and the price was perfect at $10 for 50 yards (more than this requires). The little spools of ribbon would have cost me a LOT more than this one. I also bought a foam wreath base as Michael's for around $4 with a coupon.

Using this tutorial, I created my wreath. It's a very beginner-level project and this tutorial is pretty good. It only took about an hour to create. The only extra tip I can provide is that twisting your knots after you tie them helps. I used a basic square knot and after it was secured, I just twisted each one around 180 degrees. It seems to make them stand up "straight" better. See my finished product below:

Ribbon Wreath Tutorial

If you wanted to go a little different, you could use fabric strips instead of ribbon, or you could use different ribbons to make it interesting, maybe pinks and purples and polka dots for a baby girl? If you don't like the traditional Christmas wreaths, you could use green and red (or just red maybe) ribbon to make it Christmas-y. Lots of options to customize it for your needs! There are plenty of wreath tutorials available. What is your favorite wreath you've created?



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Welcome!

Welcome to Burlap and Lace! I’m glad you’re here! Why the name Burlap and Lace? I love rough and rustic burlap paired with soft, romantic lace. They complement each other so perfectly. Together, burlap and lace can be so versatile. With a little creativity, they can be used for all sorts of projects.

I’m hoping this blog will be a great way to share my creativity – through projects for the home, cooking, sewing projects and general crafts. I think it will be a great way to inspire others to channel their inner creativity.

I’ll share the projects that worked, the ones that just flopped (let’s be honest…not everything you see on Pinterest is as easy as they say it will be. Sometimes things just don’t work out as expected!), and of course the insights and tips I’ve learned through the process. Like details? I’ll share those too – I know successful projects come from detailed instructions.

Stay tuned – there are lots of fun things to come!