Friday, October 26, 2012

DIY: Calendar Journal Update & Hand-Painted Mugs

Hello, friends!

Sooooo... do you remember the first thing that I ever posted about? I finally stained and finished the calendar journal box! Here it is - two coats of a new color from Minwax (I think it's called Classic Gray) and two coats of poly!

I technically finished this in August and am now just getting around to posting about it. I know, aren't I horrible? Well to be fair to myself, I've had a lot going on since graduation in May. A 40 hour a week internship from May to August, a wedding that invaded all of Labor Day weekend, a new full-time position at 40 hours a week, and studying for the Fundamental of Engineering exam (which I spend 8 hours taking tomorrow... fun stuff). All of that is also why I've been so horrible at posting often - I'm supposed to be posting every week but... You know how it goes. Life. It's crazy. But I'm here for you! Promise, I won't forget about you!

After the design was burned, all it took was a couple coats of stain and couple coats of poly. And voila! I went for a weathered and uneven look, so that's why the color isn't evenly distributed. I think it turned out well. And congratulate me, I have been keeping up on the journal all year. :)

So on to the DIY project that I've got for you!
It's another gift that I like to give fairly often. Though my favorite is to paint ceramic before it is fired, like you can do at some of those shops (we used to have a local one called Artsy Fartsy, loved that place). You can customize any mugs or ceramic that you can find in the stores, like Target, with ease!

I have done two of these gifts in the past three months.
The instructions are a lot like the hand-painted glassware tutorial.
Oh and for any of you who think that you should try the Sharpie method you've seen on Pinterest - Keep in mind that though that method is quick and easy, it isn't dishwasher safe and even with hand washing it will eventually wear away. It's not permanent. This method is much more permanent (but as with even mugs you buy in stores, chips and cracks and wear do happen over time). Even though this method is meant to be more enduring than the Sharpie method, it is still recommended (by me) that any hand-painted mugs be hand washed to ensure longevity. 

  1. Buy a ceramic piece. I love mugs. I bought a couple of plain, white, square coffee mugs at Target at very reasonable prices for a wedding gift. I also was able to find a great cappuccino mug at JCPenney for $4. Pretty nice, if I don't say so myself. 
  2. Wash your piece and remove all price stickers.
  3. Dry completely. 
  4. Paint!! I used Folkart's ceramic Enamel (shown below), which I bought at Hobby Lobby. I tried Micheal's first but they were in the middle of phasing out all other ceramic paints and phasing in the Martha Stewart collection paints. So Hobby Lobby got my business. They were $2-3 per paint and I've got plenty left after two projects to paint a lot more!! 
  5. Follow the instructions to set the paint. My instructions were to let dry completely, then set in a cool oven. Set oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 30 min. Allow to cool in oven. 
  6. In my experience of painting a few sets of mugs, I have found that the paint still has a tendency to chip pretty early on in its lifetime. To help prevent/mitigate this, I have started putting a clear coat glaze for glass and ceramic over the top of the set ceramic paint. The product I use is the same as the one that I used for the hand-painted high ball glass. (Updated: 12/13/2012). 

It's quick and easy and has a ton of possibilities for personalizing! Here are the two projects that I did: a pair of mugs for a wedding and a mug for a birthday. :)

Have you ever painted unfinished ceramic? Where do you like to go to get it done? 

Happy crafting! Talk to ya on the flip side!
Stay excellent!
- Jenny - 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Falling for Autumn: Decor & Food Adventures!

Hello, friends!

Man, it feels like only yesterday I was telling you about how much I love July, but here we are! It's nearly the middle of October!!

Something that you'll learn about me is that I don't really have a favorite season.
My favorite thing about the seasons is when the change. I love each season for a different reason and I am always excited about the next one. By the time we have gone through a season and the next one is about to come around, I'm super pumped for it.

So here, I am going to talk about my deep love affair with fall. <3

There's soooo much to love about autumn. The beautiful scenery, the chilly nights and crisp air, the pumpkin everything, Halloween, Thanksgiving, family time, the renewal of the appreciation for warmth... all of it!

In celebration of arguably my favorite holiday (I have a hard time picking a favorite holiday too --- don't judge me!), my boyfriend Kyle and I decorated his apartment! Being fresh out of college paired with a college student, we needed to do our decorating on a budget. Here's how we did! :D

This cute little ghosty is a tea light candle holder. Found at Wal-mart (he was the last one!) for $3. Awesome. 
Lighted spider web - $7.97 (plus tax) Wal-mart. 
This little guy is a solar powered dancing skeleton. Place he was found: The Dollar Tree. Awesome right???

I also bought some window clings for my room at home (away from Kyle's apartment, I live at home while he's at school, because I have to work... *sigh* adulthood.. ;) ) These were all on one sheet for about 2 bucks. 



Another thing about autumn I love is the food. Thanksgiving is the shit. But aside from delicious mashed potatoes, turkey, ham, rolls, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie, there's the baking and homemade candy to love!! Now, I've been an avid baker since I was able to safely operate an oven. I've never tried my hand at candy making but decided that this year I'd give it a shot!! 

I decided to try to make these Earl Grey tea infused chocolate truffles and these pumpkin spice caramels. Overall, the endeavor was a success! 

The chocolate truffles were easy to make and turned out deliciously! The only difficulty that I came across was shaping the truffles. I don't have a melon baller and didn't really want to shell out the money for one that I may not need all that often. So I used a spoon and my hands. Haha. It went pretty well. The sizes were a little inconsistent and not all of them were convincingly round - but they were tasty all the same! Also, the cocoa coating was a bit thick on some, but I think I'd get more finesse with more practice. ;) I also had two different kinds of powdered cocoa - true dark and regular, hence the different shades below. 


The caramels were more difficult. This was my first experience trying to make what I call "real" candy. This is the kind of candy that takes technique and precision with cook times and temperatures to get the right consistency. My first batch of caramels didn't cook long enough after the cream addition so it was very soft, almost like the caramel topping for ice cream (which is what Kyle used it for later since it was still really tasty!). I decided to try one more batch. This one turned out more evenly mixed and closer to the right consistency but I still missed the mark by a few minutes/degrees. They were still quite soft, too soft to be wrapped up like candies. But we're still gonna be eating my caramel because, though they aren't the caramel chew candies I was aiming for, the flavor is all there! I'm not deterred at all from candy making - I know it takes practice and it's a difficult culinary art. I'll keep you posted on my endeavors in the candy making field! :D

This is right as the sugar mix was coming to a boil.
This is during the boil down with the cream mixture added. 
This is a picture of my second batch after it cooled. (I didn't have a 8" square pan, haha)
Do you like fall or do you hate that summer is over 'til next year? How do you  celebrate or prepare for fall and the onset of winter?

Anyway, those are my fall adventures thus far! I will probably be posting again about others - looking like I might go to a haunt in town with my cousin and I'll probably post about Thanksgiving food, because, well, I love Thanksgiving food. 

Until then, stay excellent! 
- Jenny -