Monday, July 29, 2013

DIY: Quote T-Shirt

Once again, I lack a decent reason for the absence of new blog posts!

My newest obsession is cheese making. If you know me, you know how deeply my love for cheese runs. So when I stumbled upon an 'easy' mozzarella recipe in a cool hippie cookbook I thought, 'hey, why not? How hard could it be?'

Famous last words. Thus far, I have successfully ruined an entire gallon of milk in two separate attempts to make cheese.

But cheese is not the topic of this blog post! If I ever have success with cheese making, then I will dedicate an entire blog post (or two) to my surprising amazing ability to craft cheese from milk.

Until then, I'll just write about a dye project I did.


What you need:
  • a white t-shirt (mine was 1.50 from Goodwill. Score!)
  • RIT liquid dye (mine was something my mother bought ten years ago, never used, and shoved into the far corners of the closet) 
  • Elmer's blue gel glue  (1.40 from Hobby Lobby with coupon!)
  • Some salt
  • A bucket
And that's it! It's a pretty straight forward project. It didn't turn out as great as I had hoped-- the colors were more faded than I had expected. Still, the overall idea worked.

Step One:

Lay out your white shirt and draw a design with the glue.

The thicker you draw, the longer it takes to dry. My shirt took around a day for the glue to fully dry.

Step Two:

Once your shirt is completely  dry, get your dye bath ready. I filled up a large bucket with a hose and dumped in 1/2 cup of salt.

Next time I try this technique I'm going to use warm water and see if it improves the result.

Step Three:

I used a small baby hanger to hold onto my shirt as I dunked it into the dye bath. For the dye bath it's easy-- just pour as much dye as you want into the water and stir. Mine was a bit dark, so I just put more water into the bucket. Ignore the stapler in the above photo-- it was an idea that did not turn out well ;)

I was trying to achieve a gradient look-- where the bottom is darker than the top of the shirt. I was surprised how quickly the shirt took the dye, and how much the dye bled. If you want to do a gradient I would advise not even dying the top of the shirt-- most likely the dye from the rest of the shirt will bled anyway. I eyeballed how long each section should be submerged.

Step Four:

 Keep in mind, the color you see is a couple shades darker than the final, dry color.

So this was the best my shirt looked the entire project. You can see the gradient, and the words stand out. Let your shirt completely dry-- it can take a long time!

Step Five:

Most of my dye seeped out in this step, but it's a necessary one. Once your shirt is dry, put it in some warm soapy water to get rid of the glue. This will also get rid of all the dye that isn't fully set. Unfortunately, a lot of dye bled from my shirt, getting rid of the nice gradient I had created. This step took the longest-- probably around 30 min of constant washing. I couldn't put it into the washing machine until I was sure that it wasn't going to bleed anymore.

Once you are sure the shirt is done bleeding, stick in the wash.

Step Six:

Et, volia! T'es finis!  That's it! The rest of the glue should have washed from your shirt, leaving you with a cheap, customizable t-shirt!

So this wasn't my favorite technique, but it did turn out decently. I'm excited to try it again, tweaking some steps, and seeing if it turns out any better. If so, I'll post an update :)

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The One With the Wedding

I would feel remiss if I didn't have a post about my brother's wedding. After all, I did a post about their engagement photos and two of the various crafts we did for the wedding.

On July 20th, 2013 my brother married Addie in a beautiful ceremony overlooking the hills. The day started off hot and sunny but mercifully that changed as clouds rolled in right before their nuptials. The clouds took the edge off the heat for the outdoor ceremony, and the rolling thunder really added emphasis to the pastor's words. While lightening flickered in the distance, the rain thankfully did not pour down on our heads.

Since I was maid of honor, I did not have a whole lot of opportunities to take photos of the beautiful bride and groom, as I was in a lot of the photos. However, I did manage to snap a few.

We arrived the day before the wedding, and decked out the reception hall.

Addie was beautiful in her white dress with lace detailing.

The grey clouds really helped with the pictures as they blocked the direct sunlight, giving rather a more diffuse glow.

I loved the purple accents in her hair, as they matched her bouquet.

The ceremony was at a nature center and out on the deck overlooking the dam.

The wedding craziness has been why it has been so long since my last post! Now that all the planning, crafting, and general chaos has passed, I have time to do some crafting projects I've been wanting to try. I just started a t-shirt DIY this afternoon....stay tuned to see how it turns out! (fingers crossed it does turn out...)

Thanks as always, for reading!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Travel Blog #1, Preparations

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

I always loved that quote from Mark Twain. I found it on the first travel blog I ever read. The blog opened my eyes up to a new world of young people jetting to far flung corners of the world, turning their back on traditional futures with traditional jobs.

I know it's unrealistic but I always harbored a hope that I could become a travel blogger one day. And, in a perhaps small, don't-read-the-small-print, I will be, come September.

You see, I've been quite terribly blessed. I'm going to France to study French through a program called ISEP. The beauty of ISEP is that all I have to do is pay my home tuition (which includes room and board) and that covers my tuition/room/board in France. Since I'm lucky enough to have a full-ride to my home university, that allows me to go to France for free, with my tuition paid and a stipend for housing and food.

Talk about a great deal! That helps to soften the blow of the cost of my plane ticket, visa, and other miscellaneous items. A couple of days ago my family and I made the long journey down to Houston, Texas to apply for visas. My brother and his future wife are teaching English in Spain, so they needed to apply for visas as well. 

Visa applications aren't that bad. Mine wasn't even that expensive-- it was half of what the French consulate website said it would be, which was a welcomed surprise. To apply for a student visa in France, you must first apply to Campus France, which is an ordeal, considering how buggy their application process is. Regardless, I managed to get through that, fill out all the other required forms, get my parents to promise to send me money if I needed it ((requirement for the visa!)), get my photo taken, and arrive at the consulate at my appointment time. The actual interview was short, basically me just turning in all the required forms. With two interview goings on right next to each other in the main lobby room, it was a bit difficult to hear what the visa lady was asking-- though I can tell you all about the genealogy of the lady who was applying for a visa next to me! The only worrisome point was when the list of required documents at the consulate did not exactly match the list of required documents on the consulate's website. Somehow, that managed not to cause much difficulty.

I bought my plane ticket last night. I'll be in France for roughly four months. My original dream was to study abroad in the spring and possibly stay late into the summer and travel through Europe. That lovely dream was squashed when my adviser told me that there was a required physic class offered every other year in the spring. If I missed it, it wouldn't be offered again till after I had graduated. So, my plans shifted to the fall, which I'm sure will be just as great.

I know this is a little early to be talking about my trip-- I don't leave till September 2nd after all-- but I wanted to take a chance and just talk about my upcoming plans. One thing I really love about this blog is that it allows me to look back. Before I went to college, I posted a small paragraph about the things I was looking forward to, and the things I was worried about. Looking back at that post now makes me realize just how foolish all my worries were, and how much my expectations were exceeded.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life..." 
 Matthew 6:25

Looking Forward To:
I'm excited to be back in France, first and foremost. It's been four years since I was last there and I miss it; I miss the language, the food, the sites, everything. I'm excited to get a chance to really become fluent in French, picking up all the quirks and idioms that come from living with the people, and not just studying a book. I'm excited to meet new people from around the world, I'm excited to make new friends. I'm excited to get to travel to countries I've never been to-- Spain, Italy, and wherever else I might end up. I'm excited for the food, the alcohol ((hey, just want to be truthful)), the cheese, the medieval castles.

Worried About:
I'm worried about getting there-- this will be the first time flying completely on my own. I only have one stop, but once I get to Paris I have to find the train station and take a train to St. Etienne. I'm worried about someone stealing my luggage, snatching my camera. I'm worried about getting lost. I'm most worried about not getting the most out of this entire experience. This is such a great opportunity and I know things won't be perfect, but I want to enjoy everything. Who knows when I'll get another chance like this.

Well, I do believe this is the longest post I have ever written! Also, one of the only posts without any pictures-- completely unlike me. If you, dear reader, have made it this far ((and don't worry, I won't blame you if you skimmed over this; I write it mostly for myself as a diary of sorts, and for my family to keep up with my when I'm abroad)), then you should get a gold star or something.

Since I don't have a gold star, I guess I'll just post a picture of my cat.

Because, really, look at the adorable face.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Flower Baskets

I thought I was done posting about weddings. It seems like I was done posting about anything, considering how long it took me to write this post!

Regardless (irregardless? does anyone really know the difference?) we did this easy flower basket craft that I wanted to show you guys. It's simple, beautiful, and cheap. All it takes is a little time.

Final product:

My future sister-in-law's (or as the french say, ma belle soeur which literally means my beautiful sister) colors for the upcoming wedding are black, white, and purple. For a splash of color, we used purple and white to decorate the flower girls' baskets. 


  • Wooden baskets, $1 at Dollar Tree
  •  One can of purple spray paint,$3 at Walmart
  • One can of white spray paint, $0.97 at Walmart
  • Small fake gems, (on clearance) $2 for 200 of them
  • Cord, $2.40 at Hobby Lobby (40% coupon!); we didn't use all of it
  • Purple satin,$0.50, 1/4 of a yard from Walmart
Step One:
I am LOVING this new lens! Beautifully blurry background brought to you by my new lens :)
This basket is pretty simple to decorate. First, spray the outside of the basket with the purple paint.

 I sprayed the handle as well. What you can also do is start from the inside and paint the inside first, then the outside. I started with the outside for both of the baskets and it turned out fine.

Step Two:

Next up is the inside! I gave this a slightly thinner coat of spray paint. The white might bled through to the outside, just use your purple paint for any touch-ups.
One trick to get the most out of your spray paint cans is to turn them upside down and press the nozzle when you are done with painting. Keep the nozzle depressed until nothing but clear air comes out. This will keep your spray paint cans from clogging up. 

Step Three:

Now for the satin! Cut out a circle a little bigger than the inside of your basket. Now turn the satin so that the non-shiny side is facing you and hot glue part of that circle to the inside of your basket. Flip the satin over, so that the shiny side is facing up, and finish gluing it down. You don't have to glue the satin down, we just didn't want the flower girls to accidentally pull out the satin when they eagerly reached down for the petals. 

Step Four:

Now, for the finishing touches! We had enough little rhinestones to bedazzle everything in our house. They were irritatingly small, with a equally small slip of paper on their backs that you had to peel off to revel the adhesive. We put them on the rim of the basket. 

Step Five:

Next, we wound the cord around the handle of the basket, using hot glue to attach it. We actually had this cord lying around-- my senior year at prom I decided I should make my own headband. Let's just say that this use of the cord turned out better ;)
Et, volia! A simple, personalized, flower girl's basket! Everything but the one dollar basket we had a lot left of-- enough to make plenty more baskets. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bliss on a Budget

Matrimonial bliss, that is.

((Yes, I thought I was witty. No, no one else agreed. Story of my life ;))

In a few short weeks my brother is tying the knot, and my family is drawing on the creative inspiration from Pinterest to throw a beautiful wedding without breaking the budget.

Which brings me to my first (last?) wedding decorating DIY tutorial! ((See, 'bliss on a budget' was much catchy-er than 'an easy tutorial on wedding decorating for the budget limited person'))

Our major area for decorating is the reception tables. Oodles of fresh flowers may be beautiful, but can get crazy expensive in a heartbeat. Besides, how personalized is a vase of flowers? Not very!

However, for a fraction of the cost of a huge bouquet of flowers, you can make your own, beautifully personalized centerpieces! I thought I would show you the final product and then go through the easy steps to make it.


Picture frames: $1 a piece ((Dollar Tree))

Vase: $1 ((Dollar Tree))

L.E.D flickering light: $0.62 a piece ($0.37 with a 40% Hobby Lobby coupon!)

Pictures: $0.19 a piece ((Wal-mart, one hour)

Flowers: Free ((from our yard))

Fabric: $0.50 ((1/4 yard of fabric from Hobby Lobby))


Pick out three picture frames. The ones we found  were one size for the landscape photos and a different size for the portrait orientation. So when we put them together, they had to be either all landscape or all portrait. Also, print out your photos. We did all of ours in black and white and that worked well. You could probably do the photos in color but because of the way they are lit, I think black and white work better.


Take the backs off of the picture frames. This will allow the light from the L.E.D. fake candle to illuminate the photos. Slip your photos in, using the clips to hold them in place; you can also use a little tape.


 Set your frames up so that ends are touching. Make sure, before you glue anything, that all three frames fit together to make a nice triangle. It's easy to make your first angle too obtuse for the third frame to fit.

Once you are sure everything will fit, start gluing your frames together, starting with one seam and moving on to the next. Hot glue worked well when we did this.


Get your L.E.D light! These little puppies are called tea lights, and mimic the look of a small candle without the whole burning-down-the-reception threat.

Simply drop the light down in the middle of your photo triangle.


Find a smallish glass vase that will fit in the middle of your frames next to the light. We cut some flowers from the yard and grabbed some interesting looking sticks to put in the vase.

Et, volia! You have a personalized, beautiful center piece that won't break the budget! 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ma Belle Masion

It's good to be home. :) I'm not yet home for the summer, I have three days left of work next week.

As soon as I got home I pulled out my camera and went to the backyard. I appreciate my yard more now that I live in an apartment not surrounded by beautiful flowers. I was uploading these new nature photos when I realized that I had never uploaded the night shots I got of the 'supermoon'.

Which, by the way, wasn't that super of a moon. Yes, the moon was physically closer than it has been in a while. However, it the moon didn't appear drastically larger.

But I was able to get some good shots.


I have the week of July 4th off, and it's been a nice, albeit oddly timed, break seeing how my summer break will begin next Wednesday. Either way I'm not complaining. 

I've got to say, I'm loving my new lens. It allows me a beautifully shallow depth of field-- which allows me to focus on the white flower while reducing the background to strokes of green.

I love the shot of yellow in the background of this picture.

One of my favorite flowers in the yard :) 

Anyway! Just thought I would post a quick couple of pictures.

Thanks, as always, for reading!