Camping Cheese Boards
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I’ve written before about my love of cheese and charcuterie boards, and talked about laying them out when you have all the fancy accoutrements and comforts of home. When you leave those comforts behind for the woods though, there’s no need to leave the meats and cheese behind too! Whether you’re paddling and trekking into the back country like I was, or driving out to your car camping site, here are some tips for bringing your favourite snack boards camping!

Cheeses

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When refrigeration is less consistent, you want to make sure you can keep your cheeses as fresh as possible! I’ve listed my tips below but you have to commit to a certain level of loss. Best case scenario? All your cheeses will be in great shape and you’ll have food aplenty! But if you open something out there and it looks, smells, or tastes weird? Trust your gut, accept the loss, and dispose of it properly.

Choosing cheeses

Wherever possible, choose hard cheeses. These will last longer and with less refrigeration.

Storage

For hardy cheeses, wrap with cheesecloth! This allows the cheese to breathe and prevents condensation from collecting on the surface and molding.

For riskier cheeses, buy them packaged as much as possible and leave them sealed as long as possible. Anything in its own wax or rind seal is a decent bet - you can find small wheels of Brie sealed in plastic trays that are more airtight than the regularly wrapped ones.

packing

If you’re not carrying a standard cooler, pack your cheeses at the bottom of your food bag or barrel, in a soft sided, insulated cooler bag with an ice pack or another item you need frozen. They won’t stay cold if your trip is longer than a day or two but they’ll stay cool-ER which is usually good enough.

Meats

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Meats are typically one of the easier parts of this equation as many salamis and summer sausages are shelf-stable.

If you do choose to bring something sliced like prosciutto, go with a prepared package that’s already sealed airtight. Store this in your cooler spot with cheese.

Accompaniments

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There are lots of great, shelf-stable accoutrement for your cheese board. I recommend sweets like chocolate covered almonds or berries, a small refillable bottle of honey, and olives packed in a vacuum bag (found at most grocery stores and save the weight of a glass jar). When looking at more sensitive items, choose the heartiest ones possible, or go with something sealed. I like baby carrots and proportioned, sealed hummus containers.

Crackers

If you’re car camping this one is pretty easy but when space is an issue crackers are a challenge. Pita is always a great, durable option. Otherwise I recommend something sturdy like Triscuits, unless you’re willing to pack in the box for protection.

Serving

If some of your items are being kept cool I recommend serving no later than day 3 of your trip. If everything is shelf-stable you can definitely push further!

I assembled my board on two light-weight, bendable cutting boards that I stored down the side of my food bag. I used the small white plastic tray from the Brie to serve my olives.

Assemble your board as quickly and as close to serving as possible, working away from bugs and the hot sun. You’ll have to consume faster than usual but that shouldn’t be an issue given the appetite you’re working up in the outdoors!

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If you want to get extra fancy, make friends with someone willing to pack out chilled white wine in an insulated thermos like Julie from Lavender Julep! It’s the perfect compliment to your afternoon snack.

DIY Dog Sleeping Bag
 
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With the influence of some of my incredible friends, I’ve found a real love for canoe camping over the past few years. Ever since I got my dog (a friendly, 90-pound monster named Abby) I’ve wanted to take her with me. Abby’s a big dog and she spends camping trips rolling in mud and diving repeatedly into the water. I love this dog but she doesn’t even sleep in my bed at home, so I’d really like to avoid wet dog in my tent. She’s also more comfortable with freedom to roam and her own safe place to come back to.

I searched online for dog sleeping bags and beds for camping but I couldn’t really find what I was looking for. There were lots of cots or large cushy beds that didn’t make sense to load into a pack and portage. There were lots of beautifully designed bags but most were sized only for small and medium dogs. I also couldn’t decide what made the most sense for us - zipping her in felt like it would make her claustrophobic, and she takes up very different amounts of space depending on how she decides to sleep. Ultimately I decided that if I couldn’t find what I needed I should take a shot at making my own. After this project though I did find a good option on the market, see the end of this post for details!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not very experienced with a sewing machine so for this project I watched a lot of tutorials and even learned more about my own (ancient) machine. I planned out roughly what I wanted and then ordered my materials from Ripstop by the Roll (not sponsored I was just really impressed with their website for both information and products).

Materials

  • 1.9 oz Ripstop Nylon for the majority of the bag (I ordered 3 yards of Cadmium Yellow to match my tent)

  • 1.9 oz PU coated Ripstop Nylon for the more durable bottom of the bag (I ordered a yard of Charcoal Gray)

  • Climashield Apex 3.6 oz/sp yd for the filling (I ordered 2 yards and wound up doubling it up)

  • 4 piece snaps to fasten your bag together (I used 12 for 3 sides of my bag)

  • A snap fastening tool

  • Thread in the colours of your fabric

Directions

Sketching out my pattern onto the fabric.

Sketching out my pattern onto the fabric.

If you don’t have a cutting table but do have a Cricut or Silhouette, save your old cutting mats once they lose their stickiness! They’re great to lay on the floor and cut on when you need space to work with.

If you don’t have a cutting table but do have a Cricut or Silhouette, save your old cutting mats once they lose their stickiness! They’re great to lay on the floor and cut on when you need space to work with.

  1. Make a pattern
    I started by taking some measurements of my dog sleeping to see what size I’d need the finished product to be (yes, she thought I was nuts). I sketched out the rough size and shape I wanted on a piece of kraft paper and added a quarter inch seam allowance on all sides for when I stitched it together. When your pattern is complete, cut it out and try to convince your dog to lay down on it to double check.

  2. Mark and cut your fabric
    Using your pattern, trace onto each piece of your fabric and cut it out. I used a rotary cutter on a cutting mat because my fabric didn’t cut nicely with scissors. For my bed I cut 3 pieces of the pattern out of the yellow fabric and one out of the gray.

  3. Sew the top and bottom of your bag
    Next I pinned two pieces of fabric together (in my case two yellow, and later one yellow and one gray), right sides together and sewed all the way around leaving about a 12-inch opening. I did this with each pair of fabric pieces, using clips instead of pins on the waterpoof nylon so as not to damage the coating.

  4. Cut the filling
    Turn the top and bottom of your bag inside out and mark out the size your synthetic sleeping bag filling will need to be. You can generally err on the larger side as this will make your bag fluffier and the synthetic filling packs down quite well. Carefully cut out your filling and if doubling up layers like I did add a couple stitches to secure them together.

  5. Fill your bag
    Carefully stuff the filling into each bag through the small opening and smooth it out to the edges. Use a blind ladder stitch by hand to close off the bag once the filling is in.

  6. Attach the top and bottom
    Using another ladder stitch, attach the top and bottom of your bag alone one side. Then use your snap tool to install snaps at equal intervals around the remaining perimeter of the bag.

 
I can choose which snaps and how many to snap based on how she lays down and how cold it is. Here I left a tail hole open for her!

I can choose which snaps and how many to snap based on how she lays down and how cold it is. Here I left a tail hole open for her!

Most of the time I leave the top fully snapped onto the bottom all the way around and Abby uses the bag as a bed when we’re outside. I love the comfort of knowing that in colder temperatures she’d curl up on the bag and I could even open it and drape part of it over her if needed. Based on human ratings her bag should be good as low as -7°C, which for a dog should be good even colder! Even when she’s not closed up inside it, the bag still gives her a lot of insulation from the ground which is arguably the most important thing!

Before we went on our most recent trip I left the bag out in my living room for a few weeks and encouraged her to sit or nap on it. She got comfortable being on it and when it started raining on our most recent trip she willingly came into the vestibule where I had placed her bag and let me zip the rain fly closed around her. She slept like a baby, snoring all night in the thunderstorm (which I know because she leaned on me through the mesh tent wall the whole time).

Warm enough that she didn’t need to get inside but stormy enough for her to seek out a soft place to sleep out of the rain.

Warm enough that she didn’t need to get inside but stormy enough for her to seek out a soft place to sleep out of the rain.

This helps Abby stay warm and comfortable on our trips, but more than that it gives me peace of mind. I love bringing my best friend into the backcountry with me and it makes the whole trip more enjoyable when I know she’s comfortable and safe when I’m tucked in my own sleeping bag!

Let me know if you have questions about this project or taking dogs camping, I’d love to chat more about her other gear and how I tweaked my first aid kit to make sure I was prepared for her (and our other dog friends) as well as my human camping buddies!

Looking for a dog sleeping bag but not willing or able to DIY it? Whyld River makes a very similar bag that looks absolutely gorgeous and requires no cutting or sewing on your part! Not only that, but for every 10 bags she sells, the owner Rachel makes a donation to Portland Animal Welfare Team so it’s a win-win!

Happy camping season!

Mel

She’s sad because she’s having to spend part of her 15 minutes total on a tie-out. She’s also much less impressed by how well her bag matches my tent.

She’s sad because she’s having to spend part of her 15 minutes total on a tie-out. She’s also much less impressed by how well her bag matches my tent.

Note: I know that large dogs with thick fur and double coats like this aren’t as susceptible to the cold as smaller dogs, or even as people, but at the end of the day Abby lives a really comfortable life, sleeping on a soft bed in my climate-controlled apartment. I don’t want to suddenly expose her to torrential rain or sub-zero temperatures if the weather takes a turn while we’re out in the backcountry. For our early spring trip this year I knew I’d need to be prepared with an option for her that didn’t involve my sleeping bag if the weather got unexpectedly bad. In the end she didn’t need to be inside the bag, even on the night the temperature dropped to -1°C, but the insulation from the ground helped her for the whole trip and I was relieved to know the option was there if it got any colder.

 
Happy Pretzel Day! Sweet & Savory Pretzel Bar
 
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Much like Stanley Hudson, pretzel day is my favourite day of the year. So much so, that for my birthday this year I decided to have a pretzel party!

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This was a super quick and easy DIY pretzel station to throw together, especially since this time I used store-bought pretzels - I normally make my own pretzels and pretzel bites but it was my birthday! I thought I deserved a break. I didn’t include all 18 toppings but I still think Michael Scott would be proud!

If you want to make your own pretzels, scroll down for my go-to recipe! If you want to take the lazy route, stop by the local soft-pretzel place as soon before your party as possible (or let’s be honest, have your boyfriend swing by for you - thanks Ryan!). For the longest time we didn’t have a soft pretzel place in town but we have a Mr. Pretzel in our mall now and it’s the best! To keep them warm while you’re waiting without them getting dried out I placed them stacked loosely on baking sheets with cooling racks (so they weren’t directly on the baking sheets) and rotated them in and out of an oven on the lowest setting. I also kept a casserole dish full of water on the bottom oven rack to keep things from getting too dry in there. This worked really well!

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The Setup

For the set-up I laid down kraft paper on my table so I could label the topping options. I stacked the cinnamon sugar pretzels on a cake-stand and the salted pretzels in a bowl to keep them separate.

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Savory Toppings

  • Beer & cheese dip

  • Dijon mustard

  • Stout mustard

  • Dill mustard

  • Honey mustard

  • Yellow mustard

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Sweet Toppings

  • Walnuts

  • Chocolate chips

  • Butterscotch syrup

  • Chocolate syrup

  • Raspberries

  • Blueberries

I also left some veggies on the side, you know, in case anyone needed a break from pretzels.

Recipes

I used this awesome beer cheese dip recipe from Take Two Tapas, minus the bread bowl. My go-to soft pretzel recipe is from All Recipes and you can find it here!

This was a super simple set-up and really fun - would definitely recommend for your next get together. And true to my personal brand, it makes a little bit of a mess!

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Favourite Feminist Conversation Heart Cookies
 

Happy Galentine’s Day!

It’s February 13th, and today is all about ladies celebrating ladies! When Julie and I hosted our Galentine’s Day party last weekend these sweet little “conversation heart” style cookies got gobbled up. These are quick to make and easy to decorate even if you aren’t much of an artist!

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I got my cookie stamps from Michaels eons ago but something like this would work just the same! You can use your favourite sugar cookie recipe for the base (I would not recommend the Martha Stewart one I used as the cookies shrunk rather than spread when baking) and fondant for the top. Rather than buy pre-made fondant I actually made homemade marshmallow fondant for this recipe which is super easy!

Ingredients

Your favourite rolled sugar cookie dough (or other rolled cookie dough of your choice)

Mini-marshmallows

4 cups powdered sugar plus more for dusting surface

2 tbsp vanilla extract (or flavouring of choice)

Recipe Steps

1. Make the cookies of your choice and cut them out using a heart shaped cookie cutter. Most recipes for rolled and cut sugar cookies will advise you to pop the cut cookies into the fridge or freezer before baking as this stops them from spreading. In this case you actually want the cookie to be slightly larger than the topper heart so you can skip this step, or if your dough feels very warm and not at all solid you can pop them in the fridge for just a few minutes.

2. Melt a bag of mini-marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl with a couple tablespoons of water. Zap it in short intervals and stir as needed until you have one melted bowl of marshmallow soup.

3. With a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or kneading by hand, add in 3-4 cups of powdered sugar until you reach a smooth, pliable, not-too-sticky consistency. At this stage you can also add the vanilla or other flavouring.

4. Liberally dust your clean work surface, rolling pin, and cookie cutter with powdered sugar. Transfer the fondant to your work surface and knead in the colouring of your choice by hand before rolling out to a quarter inch thickness.

5. Cut the fondant into heart shapes with the same cutter you used for the cookies. Once your cookies spread slightly they’ll be just larger than the fondant hearts.

6. Stamp the cookies with the message of your choice. Notes for your friends and loved ones, conversation heart messages, or your favourite inspirational ladies (real and fictional!).

7. Once the cookies are cooled spread a few drops of water on the back of a heart to make it sticky enough to adhere to the cookie. Store completed cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week (or as dictated by original recipe).

All of our friends got a huge kick out of these and it was a sweet way to honor some of our favourite ladies this Galentine’s Day! These would be even sweeter with the name of a birthday boy or girl, or to mark any other occasion like a graduation, retirement, wedding, or anniversary. The possibilities are endless!

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Homemade Rosé Gummy Bears
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Perfect for Galentine’s Day, bachelorette parties, or bridal showers, these sweet little gummy bears are just as fun to make as they are to eat! They’d also make a great little treat for a friend, and you can change up the ingredients to make different flavours. Julie (@Lavender Julep) and I had these out at our Galentine’s Day party last weekend!

I had to play around a little with ratios and how much to reduce the rosé to get the best possibly consistency on these but I’m really happy with how they turned out. They’re honestly really easy to make with store-bought gelatin and your favourite rosé and they don’t require a candy thermometer!

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I used these gummy bear molds from Amazon but you could also use any molds you like (silicone is easiest to remove) or even pour a sheet of the mixture into a rectangular casserole dish and cut into cubes or with little cookie cutters! This recipe will make enough of the gelatin mixture to fill two of the molds I used, so feel free to scale up or down accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rosé (but I’m sure you’ll find a use for the rest of the bottle)

  • 3 envelopes of unflavoured, powdered gelatin (these are usually 0.25 ounce envelopes)

  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar

Recipe Steps

1. Add one cup of the rosé to a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a bare simmer. Allow to reduce down to a 1/4 cup. The more you reduce this the better the flavour, colour, and texture of your finished gummy bears will be.

2. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of rosé with the three envelopes of gelatin and stir to combine before setting aside. The gelatin will swell and thicken the entire mixture into a jello-like consistency.

3. Once the saucepan of wine has reduced to a 1/4 cup, lower the heat and add your sugar and gelatin mixture. Keep the heat at medium-low, stirring until the sugar and gelatin have dissolved.

4. Increase heat to medium and bring to a bare simmer again, reducing slightly so that you have a slightly syrupy liquid.

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5. Turn off the stove but leave the saucepan on the element to keep it warm while you work, otherwise it will begin to solidify. Quickly transfer your mixture into the molds using a spoon and wiping clean or using an eye-dropper/pipette. With the silicone molds I found I did not need to grease them at all for the bears to release cleanly, but if you are using a rectangular dish you may want to spray lightly with cooking spray before filling.

6. Allow gummies to cool in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours - or if you’re living in Canada in February like me, just cover and put them outside on your porch for 30 minutes. They should release evenly from the molds!

These can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several weeks, or for 12 hours uncovered at room temperature. Note that uncovered (refrigerated or not), they will begin to shrivel up making them chewier. You can change up the rosé for any flavouring of your choice, other wines, fruit juices, etc.!

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Fried Chicken and a Sweet & Savoury Waffle Bar
 
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This weekend my wonderful friend Julie (of Lavender Julep) and I co-hosted a Galentine’s Day brunch and “crafternoon” for our friends! Julie graciously hosted at her amazingly gorgeous home and put together an incredible gin bar with a crazy spread of gins and some gorgeous dried citrus. I’ll be sharing a few of my contributions to our shindig this week including some customized plates, a sweet little snack, and one of the crafts we did! I’m starting today though, with a sweet & savoury snack bar inspired by the queen of Galentine’s Day herself, Leslie Knope.

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The Waffles

I couldn’t decide between sweet and savory toppings for the waffles, so as I do when faced with most decisions, I chose both. For the waffles themselves, I went with this yeasted waffle recipe from the New York Times. They’re a little more substantial than your usual waffles but have a light airiness that makes them incredible! I really loved this style of waffle, especially for a brunch, and I thought it went equally well with sweet and savoury toppings.

I do have a couple notes and tips for this recipe. The yeasted flour base of the dough needs to rise for at least 2-3 hours before making your waffles so it’s a great thing to start when you first wake up for a brunch or in the evening to proof in the fridge for a longer period of time, overnight. You still may not notice as much rise if you let it rest in the fridge, I’d always recommend allowing it to rise in a warm spot if possible. The recipe also notes that you should coat the waffle iron with butter but I found if your iron has a non-stick coating (as most do) that this was unnecessary and the waffle actually crisped up nicer and more evenly without it. If you notice sticking you can always use a very, very light coat of cooking spray. You’ll want to cook the waffles to a nice golden brown to ensure that they’ll cook all the way through.

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The Sweet

On the sweet side of things I went pretty simple with waffle toppings - why mess with a good thing? Julie grabbed some mixed berries as topping and I grabbed some nice high quality maple syrup. I found these sweet little syrup pitchers at Walmart for $1.99 each. They’re not only cute but also poured really nicely and let you control the amount of syrup really well which I liked.

I had also planned to make some fresh whipped cream for the sweet waffles but partway through whipping the cream I popped it into the freezer to cool while I worked on something else for a minute and then promptly forgot about it until Julie went to get more ice out about 4 hours later. Oops! Don’t do that. That was definitely a result of me taking on too many things - it would have been much easier to just grab a can of whipped cream or a tub of Cool Whip and cheaper too - whipping cream in a carton is really expensive here!

If you were only making sweet waffles, I’d add some vanilla into the batter!

The Savoury

I had a lot of fun playing around on the savoury side of things and since our event wasn’t starting until noon (and ended up going into the evening) I figured people might dig in on that side.

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I went with two options, the classic chicken and waffles, and a bagel inspired smoked salmon and cream cheese. If you were only making savoury waffles, I’d add some shredded cheese to the batter, a mild gruyere or cheddar would work well! On the savoury side I also included a chipotle-infused maple syrup I made by heating a cup of maple syrup with two chipotle peppers from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Make sure not to take the heat too high or the syrup will start to reduce.

For the alternate to the classic chicken and waffles i put out smoked salmon, herb & garlic cream cheese, and capers. I woke up this morning after the party and realized that Trader Joe’s “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning would have also been a great compliment to this waffle. These were a huge hit!

Fried Chicken

Guys this fried chicken was AMAZING. I started with this recipe the Chicago Tribune posted for KFC chicken but I made a couple modifications so I’ll walk you through it now! I went with all boneless skinless chicken thighs so that they’d be easier to eat but still moist and delicious, but use whatever chicken works for you.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 pieces each

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tbsp salt

  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme

  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano

  • 1/2 tbsp dried basil

  • 1 tbsp celery salt

  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper

  • 1 tbsp ground mustard

  • 4 tbsp paprika

  • 2 tbsp garlic salt (or 1 tbsp garlic powder and double the salt above)

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger

  • 2 tsp Accent Seasoning (MSG)*

  • 1 cup buttermilk**

  • 1 large egg

  • Neutral oil for frying (vegetable, canola, or sunflower)

*MSG gets a bad reputation but it has not been shown to be harmful and it really does make things taste great - but feel free to leave it out if you prefer, the chicken will still taste pretty good

**If you don’t have buttermilk or can’t find it readily available just mix one cup of milk with one tablespoon vinegar and set it aside for a few minutes to curdle slightly before adding. Sounds kind of gross but I promise it works!

Recipe Steps

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1. First cut the chicken (if needed) and add to a bowl or plastic freezer bag. Then add in the buttermilk and one beaten egg, mixed together. Set this aside to marinate for about 20 minutes while you prepare the flour/spice blend.

2. Next whisk the flour and all the spices together in a bowl (or shallow dish if your chicken pieces are larger), making sure to mix thoroughly.

3. Next prepare two cookie sheets each with a drying rack on top. On one of the sheets put a few layers of paper towels in between the cookie sheet and the drying rack. You’ll use this one to rest chicken on after it’s fried and the other beforehand.

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4. At this point you can get your frying station set up, and start heating the oil if using my preferred method. I like to deep-fry outside on the barbecue. This means no smoke in your house, no oil splatter in your beautiful kitchen, and no weeks-long lingering smell of fried chicken (especially sad once you’ve eaten it all). If you’re doing this in Canadian winter like I am it’s going to take a while for your oil to get up to temperature so I’d start it now. Bring a solid, large pot (like a dutch oven) out and fill it with at least 4 inches of oil. Start your barbecue on high with the lid closed and a thermometer clipped to your pot taking the temperature of the oil. Put your paper-towel lined pan on one side to collect your fried chicken.

5. Now it’s time to bread your chicken. Remove a piece of chicken from the buttermilk/egg marinade and shake off the excess before coating well with the flour mixture. Then set the piece of chicken onto your second prepared cookie sheet. Leave the chicken to sit for 20 minutes.

6. When the oil temperature reaches about 350 degrees fahrenheit you can begin frying your first batch of chicken. Try not to let the temperature of the oil drop below 300 while frying and bring the temperature back up to 350 before starting each batch. Check chicken for an internal temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit once you’ve removed it from the oil. You can finish or reheat in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes if needed! It’s still best to reheat on a drying rack over a cookie sheet to keep things crispy but remove the paper towel!

We had so much fun snacking on waffles but our amazing friends also brought so many treats including more drinks, a box of coffee (god bless), sweets, strawberry turnovers, and more! 10/10 would brunch with again!

Stay tuned for post with another recipe, some DIY party decor, and a fun craft for any season!

 
DIY Harry Potter Favors!
 

As promised, today I’ve got a follow up post walking you through some of the DIYs I did for my friend Amanda’s bachelorette in September!  We did a “She Found a Keeper/She’s a Catch” Harry Potter/Quidditch theme for her winery tour day of fun, but these would work great for any Harry Potter themed party!

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Today I’ll walk you through decorating the favor bags, and making the flying keys, golden snitches, and chocolate frogs!

Personalized Bags

First up, the bags! I think it would be fun to decorate not only favor bags for parties of any kind but also for personalized gift bags. This was really easy with my Cricut and some adhesive vinyl, and the same process is used for applying adhesive vinyl to pretty much any surface, besides fabrics. If you’re interested in seeing how to apply iron-on vinyl to fabric (for the shirts or anything else) you can check out my post on decorating felt totes!

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I went with plain, brown kraft paper bags for this project which I purchased at Michaels. Any time you’re shopping at Michaels make sure to capitalize on coupons! With a few exceptions, there’s essentially always a 40-50% off one item coupon available. I grabbed some regular adhesive vinyl in gold and maroon and designed two different styles of bag. I ended up using one style for Amanda’s bag and the other for everyone else. You can grab the “Amanda Found a Keeper” style here!

First you’ll want to measure your bags and then size your decals using the built-in rulers in Design Space. Next cut your shapes out of the appropriate colours of vinyl. Once they’re properly cut you can use a weeding tool (or any tweezers and sharp skewers) to remove the negative parts of the image.

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Next you’ll use clear transfer tape to move all the finnicky little parts of the image to your project surface in one go! So easy to customize for any occasion.

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Flying Keys

Obviously a lot of the favors given at bachelorette parties are on theme for the day, or consumable items to be used that day or the next. I think that’s fun and totally fine! That said I like the idea of giving something that can be kept as a souvenir and used in the future - that means it needs to be something practical, and ideally not too overtly themed. I did include cute lightning bolt necklaces in these bags as well, but I didn’t think that was necessarily something everyone would use in the future (though I do wear mine a lot!).

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I thought a great item anyone could use would be a bottle opener. Most people already have one lying around somewhere but it’s always nice to have a spare, or one to keep if you have a bar somewhere else in your home, outside by the barbecue, in a cooler, etc.! Since these old fashion key style openers are so cute you could actually even keep them on your keys.

So the base item was great but had nothing to do with the Harry Potter theme at all. And you guys, I love when things are on theme. When I think keys & Harry Potter I think of the flying keys that acted as a barrier to the Philosopher’s Stone. I had the idea to attach a small set of wings to the keys using a dot of hot glue so that people could pluck the wings right off and not have to be on theme forever. I ended up making the wings out of vellum.

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I found the wing design online and had my Cricut draw on the design with a marker and cut out the vellum. This made it easy to do the number I needed! If you don’t have a Cricut though you could freehand the wings or even print one sample and trace them onto the vellum before cutting out the simple shape yourself. Then simply attach to the key with hot glue.

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Golden Snitches

I wanted to include a sweet treat in the bags and I’m definitely not the first person to notice that Ferrero Rocher chocolates make perfect little golden snitches. For these I found a shimmery white paper and used my Cricut to cut out a wing pattern which I again attached with hot glue.

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There’s really not much else to say for this one - it was just a fun opportunity to incorporate the theme for less than 15 minutes of work and $2 of materials so I took it!

Chocolate Frogs

Okay guys these were definitely the most work but they are also by FAR my favourite. I have to give enormous props to Girls on Food who were my inspiration for this project after they designed custom chocolate frog cards for the cutest bridal shower. Also huge thank you to Michelle over at Filch’s Office for the cleaned up template for not only the chocolate frog card, but the box as well!

My first step here was importing the box template into DesignSpace as a “Print and Cut” image. Since I had to assemble quite a few of these I also opted to add a few “Score” lines in Design space. These are great if you have a scoring blade, or the more cheaply available scoring tool which you can put in the “A” spot on your Cricut Maker. I added scoring lines wherever I would be making folds to expedite the assembly process.

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Next I opened the chocolate frog card template in Photoshop and added a photo of the couple and a little blurb about them. This was also then uploaded to Design Space as a Print and Cut. Honestly these would have been really easy to cut by hand as they’re simple pentagons, but the Cricut was already out so why not?

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I printed both the cards and the box templates onto white cardstock and then cut them! My amazing sister helped me to assemble these all in an afternoon with some glue to secure. We stuck the front and backs of the cards together, also with glue. Then, because I’m kind of a perfectionist, I also trimmed the cards down a little more to make them look more cohesive.

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For the frogs themselves I used this mold from Amazon which was fantastic! The correct way to make these would be to temper chocolate and then pour in the molds to set but I’ll be honest - I used Wilton candy melts in milk and dark chocolate instead. They don’t quite have the snap of properly tempered chocolate but you can do the whole thing in the microwave in 10 minutes so it’s kind of worth it. I made these a few days in advance and kept them in an airtight container until the day before when I packaged each one into its own box, with a small piece of waxed paper separating it from the card it sat on. I did use a small piece of tape just to ensure the boxes would stay shut!

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I hope this helps inspire you for your next party, no matter what the theme is! It’s so fun to run with an idea and I had so much fun putting together favors that I knew the bride and guests would love and appreciate! 

 
Quick “Hand-lettered” Shirts
 
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With Galentine’s Day quickly approaching, I’ve been seeing lots of Leslie Knope gifs floating around. Leslie Knope is a fictional feminist icon and inspiration to us all, as well as my own personal icon. I thought it might be fun to use one of her quotes to dress up one of the plain shirts I wear to the gym. 

I played around with fonts a little but couldn’t put together anything I liked so I decided to try hand-lettering. I am absolutely not a calligrapher, but this was pretty fun! I broke out a brush pen and played around until I had something I liked. 

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This can definitely take some practice and time! Don’t be afraid to try different things or Google hand lettering for some inspiration. After doodling for a while I had a result I was happy with:

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At this point if you’ve been practicing on scrap paper or in a notebook you want to rewrite your quote onto a very light colored paper using a very dark marker. The more contrast, the easier it will be to turn the image into a cut file in design space.

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I took the clearest photo I could of the finished project on my phone. Make sure the lighting is good and that only the paper is in frame (or crop afterwards). Then upload into Design Space and cut onto Heat Transfer Vinyl as normal!

This quick project took less than 30 minutes and turned out awesome! I can think of so many great applications for this, what would you make?

 
Crafting a Balanced Charcuterie/Cheese Board

You know what I love more than almost anything else in this world? Snacks. I love snacks as snacks and snacks as meals. To me any party, road trip, or small get together is an excuse for snacks.

I also love carbs, cheeses, and a variety of cured meats. So charcuterie boards and cheese boards are kind of where it’s at for me. These are so easy to put together (it’s literally just a bunch of snacks spread out) but I think it can be kind of daunting if you haven’t done it before. So many thanks to my dear friend Julie over at Lavender Julep for encouraging me to write a post about this spread I put together for my partner’s birthday the other weekend! I mention a lot of brands in this post because I think it’s helpful - it should go without saying that none of them have a clue who the hell I am and none of these are affiliate links.

I had so much fun putting this together! Please excuse the slightly crooked photo!

I had so much fun putting this together! Please excuse the slightly crooked photo!

Like I mentioned, this kind of thing is literally just a bunch of snacks spread out. That said, you can put in a little effort to make the flavours balanced and provide something for everyone. It also looks a little fancier if you display it nicely, I’ll talk about what kinds of things I use to serve at the end!

Here’s a breakdown of what I like to include when I put a board together:

  • 3-5 Cheeses
    I like to go for a wide variety here and I base my choices on who’s going to be eating! If there are pickier eaters or young children, I’ll make sure to include more mild cheddars, mozzarella, etc. If it’s close friends who I know like to try new things I might go for interesting choices! It’s also a good idea to go for a mix of soft and hard cheeses!

  • 1-3 Carby Things
    These are things like crackers, bread, pita, etc. They can be a vehicle for cheese or dips or just something else to munch on and provide a different texture.

  • 1-3 Meats
    Traditionally a charcuterie board includes cured meats so I tend toward things like salamis or prosciutto but you can go any direction you’d like here! I usually like to pick a variety of things so that some are spicier, some are more mild, some are more fatty, etc.

  • Accompaniments
    This last category is basically just “everything else.” It can encompass spreads or dips to eat on the cheese, meat, or bread but it can also include other little bites that have complementary flavours. It’s nice to have a few sweet things and a few savoury things!

Here’s a breakdown of this weekend’s board:

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  1. Rolled, half-slices of prosciutto. I picked this up fresh from the deli counter.

  2. Mild salami encased in Parmesan. I dig this for something different but accessible. (Full disclosure: I stole this idea from a friend after he used it on a board a week earlier.)

  3. Spicy Calabrese salami. Again, this is fresh from the deli counter.

  4. Herb Havarti. Cheeses like this tend to be tricky to cut so I pre-sliced it!

  5. Herb & Garlic Boursin. This soft, spreadable cheese is inevitably the most popular thing on any cheese board I’ve ever made.

  6. Snowdonia Cheese Company’s Smoked Cheddar. This is literally my favourite cheese of all time, it tastes like bacon (but is totally vegetarian!). It slices and crumbles well so I leave a sharp cheese knife next to it and let people serve themselves - a steak knife would work too.

  7. Medium Cheddar. Much like the havarti, I pre-sliced this so people could just grab and go. I wasn’t sure the tastes of everyone coming so adding this to the board made it so everyone could find something they liked.

  8. Castello Blue Cheese. This is soft and crumbly so I usually just leave a spreader next to it for cutting/scooping!

  9. Red seedless grapes. These go great with everything and are great for filling space on your boards.

  10. Dried apricots. Dried fruit goes great with cheese, I normally just pick up as much as I need from the bulk section. Dried cranberries and blueberries are also excellent.

  11. Mini dill pickles (or “cornichons”. The acidity of a pickle is a perfect contrast to a sharp smoked or creamy cheese. Also literally everyone loves pickles. I’d also use olives here!

  12. Trader Joe’s Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds. Yes, it’s a mouthful. Yes, they’re delicious. I buy a few containers of these every time I go across the border and then I try really hard not to eat them all before I make a cheese board.

  13. Artichoke and Asiago Dip. I just picked this up at the grocery store because I love it with the pita chips!

  14. Honey! I love pairing honey with blue cheese, I think the flavours complement each other so well. Plus it’s probably already in your pantry!

  15. Stacy’s Pita chips. I’m obsessed with these and they go awesome with everything, especially artichoke dip and Boursin.

  16. R.W. Garcia 3 Seed Sweet Potato crackers. These are from Costco and they’re awesome with cheese. The chickpea variety is really good as well!

  17. Sliced baguette. This was the perfect vehicle for blue cheese & honey. Or making tiny salami and cheese sandwiches. There’s no wrong answer here.

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You can make a cheese or charcuterie board on literally anything but it’s slightly easier (and prettier) if you have a couple basics.

  • The board. I usually use this gorgeous charcuterie board from Concept Thirteen Woodworking. The smaller one in the photo at the top is my partner’s and is from M Inspired Living. Sometimes I also use my wood cutting board from Planet Creations. These are all Canadian businesses with incredible workmanship and I can’t recommend them highly enough. No board? No problem - use any cutting board, large plate, serving tray, or just cover your table in kraft paper and go to town.

  • Cheese knives. I wish I could say I supported small businesses with these too but I’m not going to lie I bought them on clearance at Winners. Marshalls and Home Sense also usually have a lot for reasonable prices. Honestly though, butter knives and steak knives for the harder cheeses work totally fine.

  • Small dishes. Perfect for little tiny quantities of things. The red bowls came from the grocery store and the tiny glass ones are re-purposed tiramisu containers from Costco. The grapes are in a gorgeous little piece of pottery from my grandma. Thrift stores are great for stuff like this but so is just shopping your own house. Low ball glasses can work great.

  • Serving plates. I find long serving plates helpful for crackers and bread but again you can obviously use anything. The ones I used for this board were a gift from my sister but thrift stores are another good option here!

I hope this was helpful and didn’t make you too hungry! I personally need to go eat a bunch of cheese immediately.

Mel

Winery Tour Bachelorette with a Gryffindor Twist

Okay, how fortunate am I to have gotten to celebrate another one of my incredible friends with a bachelorette party this year?! Incredibly.

You can probably guess who the bride is from the shirts.

You can probably guess who the bride is from the shirts.

To celebrate Amanda’s upcoming wedding (eeeee! it’s this weekend!) we took her on a day full of winery tours in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Amanda’s a big Harry Potter fan (as am I, it’s one of the things we first bonded over when we met) so one of the other bridesmaids suggested giving her day a Gryffindor/Quidditch twist. Our theme was “Amanda Found a Keeper” (Keeper being a Quidditch position in Harry Potter) and I included touches of maroon and gold throughout (fun accident: maroon and gold were also our high school colours!).

In this post I’ll give you a bit of a rundown of the day and some fun stuff and go into some DIY details in future posts. You can find the favor bags, flying keys, golden snitches and chocolate frogs here! I used my Cricut to make our shirts for the day - Amanda’s says “I found a Keeper” and ours say “She’s a catch!”

Lianna also worked on the crazy cookies below. Sorry Li, I only had you in group pictures and I didn’t want to ask every person for permission to post!

Lianna also worked on the crazy cookies below. Sorry Li, I only had you in group pictures and I didn’t want to ask every person for permission to post!

I rolled these up and tied on tags with each girl’s name just so we wouldn’t have to dig around for sizes and fits - I collected information on size and fit from all the girls ahead of time.

This was a pretty simple process! I designed the shirts using Design Space and cut the Iron-On using my Cricut. I ordered the blank tshirts online and then I just had to weed the images and iron them on! I loved the metallic gold iron-on I used on the maroon shirts so much that I included a little gold snitch on the back of Amanda’s shirt too even though it didn’t show up as well on the white!

It was so hard to capture this metallic finish in a photo but I’m thrilled with how they came out!

It was so hard to capture this metallic finish in a photo but I’m thrilled with how they came out!

Because most of our group was travelling from about an hour away I booked a bus to take us to Niagara-on-the-Lake, from winery to winery, and then back home for dinner. This meant no one had to drive and we could all relax and focus on having fun together.

We headed out around 11am and made it to our tasting at Lakeview Wine Co. around 12:15pm. Everything we sampled was great!

Drinking wine all day is fun but I wanted to make sure everyone walked away as headache free as possible - that means eating and hydrating in between! I brought a packed cooler with bottled water, apples, individual pasta salads, and what the girls deemed “adult lunchables.”

I wanted these to be like little travel charcuterie/cheese boards so I included a variety of crackers, some trail mix, prosciutto, chorizo, and four different cheeses: dill havarti, aged cheddar, a Babybel, and these adorable individual wheels of brie!

I wanted these to be like little travel charcuterie/cheese boards so I included a variety of crackers, some trail mix, prosciutto, chorizo, and four different cheeses: dill havarti, aged cheddar, a Babybel, and these adorable individual wheels of brie!

I bought the lunch containers on Amazon and filled them the night before with the help of my parents and sister. I also filled some smaller cups with Costco pasta salad - FYI it’s amazing! We were so glad to have things to snack on all day long - I’ll definitely do this again!

My incredible friend & fellow bridesmaid Jess, along with her very talented mom and sister, made us the best cookies I’ve ever seen. They’re a little NSFW (though maybe not at first glance) and were a huge hit to look at in addition to being delicious!

The cookie genius herself is on Instagram @mama_oddi!

The cookie genius herself is on Instagram @mama_oddi!

After Lakeview we headed to Jackson Triggs where we did a full tour and tasting and then hung out for a while on the patio enjoying the beautiful day.

At the beginning of the day I had given all the girls favor bags with some things they might need for the day and some fun treats I put together to go with the theme!

In terms of more practical items we’ve got tissues, a wet wipe, ibuprofen (to fend off those possible headaches I mentioned), mints, and hair ties.

In terms of more practical items we’ve got tissues, a wet wipe, ibuprofen (to fend off those possible headaches I mentioned), mints, and hair ties.

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In addition to my “practical” favor bag items I wanted to include some things to play on the theme. I decorated the bags with vinyl, attached some cardstock wings to Ferrero Rocher chocolates to make golden snitches, made colour-coordinated hair ties with fold-over elastic, and threw in these sweet little gold lightning bolt necklaces. I also made custom chocolate frogs with chocolate frog cards of the bride and groom-to-be which was a ton of fun! Lastly I found these little skeleton key bottle openers which I thought would be useful and I attached little vellum wings to mimic the flying keys from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The wings are just attached with a dot of hot glue so the girls can pluck them off and keep the bottle opener around in a purse, on a keychain, or in a kitchen drawer! Click here to see more details on those DIYs!

We finished up at Caroline Cellars with even more tastings before heading back for dinner & drinks at Merit Brewing in Hamilton.

We finished off the night at one of the other bridesmaids houses and honestly had such a wonderful day. I’m so glad to have gotten to meet all these amazing ladies!

In the middle is Jess, cookie decorator extraordinaire.

In the middle is Jess, cookie decorator extraordinaire.

Installing Laminate Flooring in a Rental Apartment

Like many DIY projects, I think the prospect of installing new flooring can seem incredibly daunting to a lot of people. Also like many DIY projects, if you don't have the tools, time, or patience to do it well, it totally can be best to leave it to someone else! That said, if you have the time, patience to learn a new skill, and some friends to help/lend tools, this can be such a good way to fix up your space on a budget!

My kitchen 8 hours into new flooring. Look how sharp that quarter-round looks!

My kitchen 8 hours into new flooring. Look how sharp that quarter-round looks!

So there are a lot of amazing things about my house! It has a great side yard for my dog to play in. It has a great little deck where I can relax and barbecue. It's super close to work and friends and it's in a neighbourhood where I feel really safe! When I moved in though, it had the WEIRDEST floor situation. The kitchen had 60s-era sheet linoleum and the living room had the world's cheapest berber carpet that had been kind of poorly installed so it was unravelling at the edges and wherever the previous tenant had slightly damaged it.

The weirdest part though, was the line where these two flooring types met. It was an inexplicably curvy line.

Why? WHY?

Why? WHY?

This is a picture taken from the listing for the apartment on Kijiji so it's actually pretty flattering to the space. Believe me when I tell you the reality was worse. I lived with these floors for about 10 months before I decided I couldn't do it anymore. My landlord liked me as a tenant and trusted me to make minor repairs based on some of my other handiwork, so I pitched him a plan. I, with the help of my parents and godparents, all of whom had experience installing floors, would do all the labour for free if my landlord would pay for the new flooring and materials. He was into it (to be honest I think he just wants to keep me happy so he won't have to find a new tenant) and even had me go for a medium-quality flooring instead of the cheap stuff I'd proposed. 

I spent about $1000 CAD (of my landlord's money) on laminate flooring, foam underlayment, PVC quarter round (so I wouldn't have to paint it), and a few other odds and ends. With the help of my incredible parents and godparents we were able to rip up all the original flooring, remove all the staples from previous carpets, install all the new flooring, and finish it in just two days! 

This type of flooring clicks and hinges down as you install each piece and is actually incredibly easy to install once you get going. The hardest parts were cutting the pieces that needed to fit around corners or inside closets and honestly? Ripping out all the staples at the beginning. 

The basic process is as follows:

  1. Remove the existing flooring, as well as trim if desired

  2. Remove any vestiges of the original flooring including nails, staples, and tack strips from carpet

  3. Clean the area as much as possible to ensure a clear surface

  4. Lay foam underlay across the entire floor, securing with the built-in adhesive at the edges and seams and stapling where necessary

  5. Beginning in a corner and running perpendicular to the floor joists in your home if possible, lay the first row of wood against a wall, cutting the last piece to fit

  6. Using the excess from the last piece of row 1, or a new piece you trim down, start the next row so that the seams are offset from one another, then repeat each row in the same manner.

  7. Cut the last row of boards length-wise to fit in

  8. Reinstall any trim/baseboards/etc. including quarter-round to hold in the new floors

I honestly think that with enough time to practice and get comfortable anyone can do this. Just remember to take your time and finish it properly, even if it means cutting one little sliver to finish a row or trimming around a corner properly. The extra work is so worth it! 

Here's a before and after to check out the insane difference it made in the space.

Before: The wiggly division line makes very little sense and the drab colouring makes the rest of the house look sad and dated.

Before: The wiggly division line makes very little sense and the drab colouring makes the rest of the house look sad and dated.

After: I didn't even paint! The better looking walls are a result of the better lighting but also the MUCH improved contrast with the floor and freshened up baseboards!

After: I didn't even paint! The better looking walls are a result of the better lighting but also the MUCH improved contrast with the floor and freshened up baseboards!

I think the improvement is evident! I think the lesson here is really that one change can completely transform a space. If you've been putting off a project because of the work involved or the fear of learning a new skill - take a weekend and try it. Watch some videos, read some instructional guides, and then get your hands dirty. 

Finally, please indulge me very briefly while I talk about my philosophy on rentals and decorating, improving, and styling them. I've had so many people ask me why I put so much energy and time into a place I only rent, into a place I only intend to be for a couple of years. And even before I redid these floors I've always had people ask why I spent any amount of time or money settling into places that were objectively temporary. In university I once bought a whole slew of Christmas decorations including a table-top tree for an apartment I knew full-well I'd only be living in for four months. You know what? I don't regret a single minute of effort or penny spent. Whether you are living somewhere for two months or two decades your house should be a home. It should be your solace and a place you can find peace and happiness regardless of what's going on outside. If you have to spend a little money on the right piece of furniture, do it. You can always sell it, swap it, or repurpose it when you move on. Don't be afraid to nest a little bit, wherever you are - trust me, your happiness and comfort at home will be well worth the mess. 

DIY Coffee Table: West Elm Knock-off

Fun fact. When you start a blog after years and years of projects you have lots of backlog to get through. I don't have much in the way of progress photos for this project, heck I barely have good finished photos. But I thought this little table was worth talking about.

I made that!

I made that!

A couple years ago I was living in the cutest little apartment. It was heated by a gas stove that mimicked the look of a wood-burning one, mounted on an exposed brick wall, in an old building with tons of character. It was also TINY. And it only had one, equally tiny, usable closet. 

I have a lot of hobbies that involve tools and equipment (crafts, baking, brewing beer, building things, rock climbing) so I have a LOT of stuff. I needed creative places to store things and I needed them EVERYWHERE. I also didn't have room for a desk and desperately needed one. Then I saw this:

Industrial Coffee Table by West Elm

Industrial Coffee Table by West Elm

It's beautiful. It's functional. It could store all my linens and blankets and I could use it for everything from working on my laptop to guiltily eating dinner in front of the TV. Unfortunately it was also crazy out of my price range at over $800 USD. Plus shipping to Canada. 

Listen, everything West Elm makes is gorgeous. This coffee table is gorgeous. If you can afford it, get it. But I looked at that coffee table that I needed and could never afford and I had only one thought, "it doesn't look THAT complicated. I could probably make that."

I am not a woodworker. I had not built furniture before in my life. The most experience I had besides assembling IKEA furniture was the Home Depot for kids classes I used to do when I was 8 where we'd build a birdhouse. But I'm a pretty capable person and you know what? You're allowed to just do whatever you want! What's the worst that can happen?!

So I drafted plans for a basic box made of cheap pine that I could stain and I scoured the internet for the type of hardware I would need to lift the top without hinging it so that anything sitting on it would stay sitting on it. I found a few local options for over $100 but I eventually settled on hardware I found on Ali Express for less than $30 including shipping. (They're no longer available but this is what the listing looked like.)

When the hinges came in I built a box out of pine and installed the hinges. I wound up having to have the whole top lift because of the exact size of my hinges relative to the small size of the table I wanted to build, but you could be more true to the inspiration table if you found smaller hinges (just make sure they'll support the weight of the table-top + what's on it) or made your table larger (same rules apply). 

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I wound up using blocking inside to hold the box together without any screws being visible with the outside. You could avoid this and maximize your interior space more if you didn't mind screws showing, if you filled them with stainable filler, or if you used a kreg jig when assembling (I don't have one yet!). Honestly though, this was really simple and worked super well for me.

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Once that was done I sanded everything perfectly smooth before staining and sealing the table! I also determined the height I wanted the finished table and ordered some hairpin legs accordingly. Had I been less picky or had more time I might have built some legs myself or scoured flea markets for a good deal but I ended up spending about $150 on a beautiful set of legs from Hairpin Legs Canada and I couldn't be happier with them.

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When the legs came in the install was super quick and easy, even in my tiny apartment! Note the dirt devil acting as a shop vac.

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And the table turned out fantastic, if I do say so myself!

Like my apartment? Check out the rest of my old place on  Apartment Therapy's Small Cool 2016 .

Like my apartment? Check out the rest of my old place on Apartment Therapy's Small Cool 2016.

It's now been two years since this project, I've moved, and I still couldn't be more thrilled with it. The table stores cozy blankets which always have an awesome woody smell when I pull them out to use. I can eat or work off of the top, and I just get so many compliments on it! Also, since I built it myself, it's the perfect size and proportions for the couch. 

Best part? My landlord was so impressed I'd made it that he trusted me enough to re-do my floors! But that's a future post!

Mel

Hey Lady! Bachelorette Favor Bags

Hey Lady!

I wanted to share some of the cute crafts I did recently for a friend's bachelorette party! She wasn't into penis straws or matching t-shirts but I wanted to make something cute to celebrate this amazing lady and commemorate the day! I decided to make the favour bags out of felt and decorate them with a pretty pink floral theme that I tried to carry through the decorations. 

"Hey lady!" is a common way for the bride to greet her friends so I thought it would be sweet and remind people of her without being too obviously bachelorette-y.

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I started by cutting out the two pieces that make up each bag using my Cricut Maker, but you could just as easily print a template and cut them out by hand! I had 20 bags to make which is 40 sides so I was taking any option I could to speed things along!

I bought a few yards of grey felt and got about 5 bag sides per metre of fabric. When cutting I used the rotary blade cutter on a 12"x24" fabric mat (if you're using an earlier Cricut you could use a deep-cut blade, just google settings for cutting felt!). You can download the SVG I used for the bag here!

Assembling these bags was a really simple sewing project and again could be done by hand if you had the time! Instead I broke out my 100 year-old Domestic sewing machine passed down to me by my late grandmother. She was also a crafty DIYer and I'll have to share more about her at some point. All I did was line up two pieces of the felt and ran my sewing machine in a straight stitch (that's all it's capable of) around the body of the bag and across the inch-long tops of the handles. Then you just turn the whole thing inside out!

The next step was to make the iron-on decals. I used this gorgeous tote design from Style Me Pretty as a starting point and then the free font Malisa Script to add my text! You can snag that project here! When cutting an iron-on remember to reverse the design. Then set up your machine with a deep cut blade and your Iron-on or HTV (heat-transfer vinyl - I like Siser brand!) shiny side down on your light grip mat. Once you've cut you can start the slightly tedious weeding process (the prettier the design the worse the weeding!) before ironing your design onto your bag!

Interested in how I filled these bags?

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I filled these cute little bags with some bachelorette party essentials! Powdered sports drink, mini packs of Advil, a Ring pop, Lifesavers mints, a pack of Kleenex and a little mix-your-own cocktail to get the party started! I also ended up tossing a bottle of water in each bag so we could stay hydrated on our day full of wine tours!

I bought pretty much everything here from the dollar store. The individual Advils aren't readily available in Canada but Dollar Tree in the U.S. stocks them so I picked them up on a trip across the border! 

Another thing that's hard to find up here in the Great White North? 50 ml bottles of alcohol. Because of the liquor laws in Ontario it's really hard to find 50 ml bottles of alcohol and nearly impossible to find them for a reasonable price. I bought the gin in Ontario for $5 a bottle before I gave up. While I was across the border I stopped in a liquor store in Amherst, NY and picked up a variety of bottles for $1-$2 a piece! The mixers I bought in an assorted pack at Marshalls (also try: Winners, Home Sense, TJ Maxx).

I tied them together with some cute pink and white baker's twine for.. no real reason except aesthetics. 

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I'll share the paper flowers I made for decoration soon!

Any questions? Just ask! I'll be over here making a mess.

Mel