Crocheting 101

Hello, it’s been pretty cold and raining here in PA lately, so I have been curling up with a crocheting project.  Crocheting and knitting are by far my favorite cold weather crafts and I am learning that there is actually research showing how these crafts can be really beneficial in a variety of ways including helping to combat depression and ADHD.  I learned to both knit and crochet as a child and have enjoyed both for years, but I realize a lot of people are picking it up later in life and there aren’t always great resources out there to do so.  That is why I developed some video tutorials to break down the basics of crocheting.  Stay tuned for lessons in knitting as well!

Happy Crocheting,


5 Things You Forgot to Spring Clean

spring cleaning

1. Your Makeup

Lots of people keep makeup way longer that they should.  One way to prevent this is by putting a little sticker on your makeup when you open it with the month and year you should get rid of it.  This will make going through your makeup really easy. As a rule of thumb here’s how long different cosmetics are good for:

Cosmetics Lifespan

2. Your Pillows

When was the last time you cleaned your pillows?  Pillows hold dust and bacteria and although often overlooked, should be cleaned on a regular basis, especially if you suffer from allergies.  To clean pillows, put them in your washing machine on the hottest setting along with a cup of laundry detergent and a cup of bleach.  Orient your pillows so that the weight is evenly distributed in the machine (only vital for machines with an agitator).  Make sure that the pillows are well rinsed (rinse again if needed) and transfer to the dryer along with tennis balls wrapped in socks.  These will serve to fluff the pillows and prevent lumps.  Dry at low heat until fully dry and you can sleep easier knowing that you’re breathing in cleaner air.

3. Your Oven

Now that it’s warm enough for grilling, chances are your oven will get a nice long break.  That means that it’s the perfect time to give it a nice thorough cleaning since it will actually stay clean!  Do you really feel like going above and beyond?  Clean in between the glass too.  Here’s a link to great tutorial on how to do so that Elyse used and was successful with:


 4. Underneath the Couch

Yes, it may be scary, you may find some interesting stuff down there, but this is that time of year.  Move the couch and any other furniture that you typically can’t access with your regular routine and get rid of those dust bunnies.

5. Your Closet

Is your prom dress still sitting in your closet even though you know you’re never going to wear it again?  If so now’s the time to get rid of it!  You’re just in time to make someone’s prom special by donating your dress to a project like Operation Prom.   For the rest of your closet, request a clean out kit from Thred Up (use this link for $10 free spending money!), fill it up with anything you no longer wear, and send it back (no worries, it’s free shipping).  They’ll pay you cash for the clothes you sent and you can use this money to buy a brand new spring wardrobe, or spend it on whatever you want.

Happy Cleaning!


DIY: Bar from a Bookcase

barpin  Hello!!!

First off, a huge thank you to Elyse and Celine for letting me share my project with you! I love being able to get creative when there’s some extra time, so this is exciting for me.

Like Elyse, I’m a meteorologist – we actually went to college together and lived together for a few years! That’s where we both realized we both liked getting crafty. One degree and a wedding later, these girls now have become second-sisters to me ❤

Anyway, so the project that I tackled, along with some help from my boyfriend, Steve, was making a bar for our first apartment.

We spent a few hours shopping online and wandering around stores, only to find out most of our options were too big for the space we had or were quite pricey (or both!). Who knew it was so hard to find a little something that had wine and liquor storage?

Instead, we decided to try to save some cash by repurposing something we had already – a standard bookshelf that has the holes and pegs on the side so you can move the shelves around. Steve got it at Walmart for $20 a few years ago. After cleaning all the knick-knacks off, it looked like a pretty blank canvas!


We planned ahead a little, and ordered a wine glass rack that goes under a kitchen cabinet on Amazon. They had lots of different sizes so we could find one that would fit just right.

The wooden wine bottle rack Steve found at a flea market a while back for about $3, and was just sitting on the counter taking up a lot of space. Turns out it was just the right size to fit into the bookshelf.


Then, just a quick trip to the craft store (only a few minutes away – it’s very dangerous, haha!) and we had the rest of the supplies we needed. Some black paint, foam brushes, a strand of LED lights, hot glue gun and sanding block.

The thing that took the MOST time (by far) was prepping and painting the wine rack. Since the bookcase was a black-brown, I wanted the wine rack to be a similar color so that it looked like the shelf came as a bar.

To make sure the new black paint would stick, I did some sanding to take off some of the old finish on the wine rack. I also took off the paint on my finger nails throughout the project, but these things happen.


Then I took to painting all the sides of the wine bottle rack. As much as I love the “lattice” look of this thing, I was muttering at it under my breath while painting ALL the sides and pieces of wood. In the end, one coat of paint did the trick, but it still took about 2 hours to get everything covered before doing touch-ups in some of the corners.


Meanwhile, Steve took the bookcase, removed the shelves and turned it upside down. The rack for the wine glasses came with some hardware, so all he had to do was screw it onto the underside of the top of the bookshelf. Make sure you have the correct side (the wide side) of the glasses rack facing out, so the opening is facing you and you can actually hang the glasses.


We also had to decide exactly where we wanted the moveable shelves to go. We needed enough space for the wine bottle rack to sit in the bottom and we also needed enough room for our wine glasses to hang from the top. We were fortunate enough that this left us with enough space to stand up a normal-sized liquor bottle in the middle.

The other feature that we wanted, one of Steve’s more brilliant ideas, was to add lights to the bar. With all the different glasses we have, and the glass of the liquor bottles, we figured it would add a nice touch to have the underside of the shelves light up. So his next task was laying out the LED light strand we bought. Turns out that just one strand was enough to put lights on 2 of the 3 shelves.


Now, there are many ways to get these lights in place. We thought about mini command hooks so that we could switch the strand out if it stopped working. But, seeing as we bought LED lights (partially to control the amount of heat near all the glass) and they have a tendency to last longer, we decided that hot-gluing would stay better on the underside of the shelves.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to lay everything out before you start sticking things down! Luckily, Steve is very good with this, and he knew how many lights he had for each shelf and how he was getting from one shelf to the next and to the back of the bookshelf where the electrical outlet is.

So he went through and hot-glued everything down. He made all of the lights very flush with the shelf, especially the one with the glass rack, so that the glasses wouldn’t catch on the lights. When he got to the end of the strand, he poked a hole in the back of the bookcase for the cord (close to the underside of the shelf so the hole wouldn’t be seen). This just required some elbow grease for us since the bookcase had one of the faux-wood backs which are pretty thin. But if you are using a sturdier bookcase, you might need a little drill for this part.

By this point, I was still painting touch-ups on the wine bottle rack (I told you it took a while!). But after letting it dry, that was the last step!

We added in some of our glasses and bottles, we plugged in the lights and voilà!


We are still hunting for something to use as a nicer “top”. Maybe a left-over piece of granite or a really big wooden cutting board, but we like it the way it is now too.

For only about $20 in supplies (since we already had the bookcase), we made ourselves a little bar that fits perfectly in our new dining room! Now we just need to hunt down some good wine.

Comment below if you give this DIY a try or if you have made your own bar some other way!



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Rental-Friendly Faux Roman Shades

IMG_2915Our rental has these great french doors, but for some unknown reason, they’re the only windows in our townhouse that didn’t come with blinds.  Our landlord won’t let us install the hardware needed to hang binds, so I came up with a creative solution using command hooks.

First, I took a trip to my local fabric store and chose a cotton medium weight fabric.  For my two french doors, I needed about 4 1/4 yards.  I measured the window area and added 1 1/2 inches to each side to account for my hems.  Then, I cut my fabric to size.  As you can see, Aurora was a huge help while I was cutting the fabric 🙂

IMG_2915 2

Then I folded each edge of the fabric in 1/2″ and ironed to form a smooth edge.  This will smooth and hid the “raw” cut edges.IMG_2920

I made a second fold — this time 1″– and ironed smooth as well.  This will form the actual hem.IMG_2922

Once I had creased all my edges, I unfolded the corners. IMG_2926

To form a nice smooth corner, I flipped the fabric over and then folded it into a triangle.  Make sure the big square in the image above is a perfect triangle and all of your creases line up.  Place a pin into the triangle to hold the fabric in place.  the pin should point towards the folded edge just like in the image below.

Sew right along this pin; from the folded edge to the outer crease.  Make sure to lock your stitches by reversing the sewing machine a few times at the beginning and end of the line.IMG_2933

Your sewn triangle should look somewhat like mine below.IMG_2934

Cut along your sewn line, leaving about 1/4″ of extra fabric.  IMG_2935

Inside-out your corner and refold all the creases.  I re-ironed all of my seams to keep them crisp then stuck a few pins in to keep the fabric in place.  Then, make a single stitch hem around the entire edge of the panel.
IMG_2936 At this point, my panel is done and hemmed.  Now, to hang the panel, I am going to create “tabs” for my rod to slip through.  First, I cut four 2″x3″ rectangles.

Then, I folded in each side about 1/4″, ironed the creases, and pinned it.IMG_2942

Again, sew a hem around all 4 sides of the tab.IMG_2943

I pinned the tabs at the top of the panel, making sure to space them evenly.  I also wanted two tabs near the left and right edges to make sure to hold the rod in place.  Then, I sewed the tabs in place with my sewing machine.

Now it’s time to cut my rods.  I used 2 dowel rods.  I laid them on my panel and marked where I needed to cut, making them just slightly shorter than the panels so they are hidden when hung.

Then, I used a razor blade to cut the dowel rods on the marked line.IMG_2950

Thread the dowel rod through the tabs.IMG_2947

I mounted 2 evenly spaced command hooks at the top of my window (I put one in the middle of the first panel and the second in the middle of the third panel).  I mounted 2 more command hooks about a quarter of the way down the window on each side.  Then, I hung the rod on the top hooks.

This part’s basically trial and error.  Hold the panel on each side and make a fold underneath.  Then, make a second fold, bringing the folds up to meet the lower command hooks.  Basically, they should look like roman shade folds.  I used a tape measure and chalk to mark where I made each fold.

Then, I cut pieces of elastic to make loops for the second hook.  I pinned the elastic to the panel at my chalk marks and sewed the elastic in place.  IMG_2952

Make sure to double over to ensure the elastic is secure. IMG_2957

Trim the ends. IMG_2958

Finally, hang the panels back up and fold your panels back up.  Hook the loops on the lower command hook to secure them.  IMG_2960

Ta da! Plus, you can unhook the loops to cover the full window.


Let me know if you try out this DIY in the comments section below.  I’d love to hear how it worked for you!

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Review: Ricki’s Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit

My husband and I love mozzarella, but it’s so expensive to buy in stores.  I kept on finding make your own mozzarella recipes on Pinterest, but I wasn’t daring enough to try one out completely blind.  However, I was definitely intrigued.  So, I decided to try Ricki’s Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit.  It came with basically everything I needed, so I wasn’t worried about buying the wrong ingredients.  And, if it worked, it came out to about $4.50 per pound of mozzarella.  I’d say that was a pretty good deal!  I was a little worried about how hard it would be to find pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) milk, but was happy to find that both Aldi and Trader Joe’s brand milk is fine.

1. Dissolve 1/4 of a rennet tab in 1/4 cup of cool chlorine-free water and set aside.

2. Dissolve 1.5 tsp of citric acid in 1 cup off cool chlorine-free water.  Add to a big pot.

3. Dump one gallon of whole milk into pot and stir.


4. While stirring constantly, heat mixture to 90°F.  The kit came with a dinky alcohol thermometer.  If you don’t have any other thermometers, I’m sure it would work fine, but I preferred to use my trusty digital thermometer.


5. Remove from heat and stir in dissolved rennet using an up and down motion. (about 30 seconds)

6. Cover pot and let stand for 5 minutes or until mixture resembles custard (and you can see a clear separation between the whey and the curd).  Mine needed way more than 5 minutes.  I gave it about 15 minutes.


7.  Cut the curds diagonally.  It says to use a knife, but there was no way I was using metal in my coated pot, so I used a spatula.


8.  Place pot back on the burner and heat to 105°F while slowly moving the curds around with a spoon.


9.  Remove from heat and stir for 3-5 minutes.

10. Scoop out curds and strain off whey.  Transfer drained curds to a microwave safe bowl.  I ended up doing this in a two-part process to drain off as much whey as I could.  I used a slotted spoon to transfer curds from the pot to a strainer.  Then after letting them strain, I transferred them to the microwave safe bowl.


11. Microwave on high for one minute.

12. Fold curds into a single “loaf” much like you would knead bread.  Add 1 tsp of cheese salt and fold in.


13. Microwave for an additional 30 seconds or in 30 second increments until curds are heated to 135°F.

14. Stretch cheese as you would taffy.  Cheese will become firm and shiny.  Caution — rubber gloves would probably be helpful for this step because the cheese is hot!


15. Once cheese is shiny, roll into a ball or log then immerse in 50°F water for 5 minutes.


16. Transfer to an ice bath for an additional 15 minutes.


17. Wrap cheese in saran wrap to seal and refrigerate or use.  We ended up with slightly over one pound of mozzarella!


You also end up with quite a bit of whey.  I ended up making some loaves of bread with the leftover whey, but feel free to get creative–there’s tons of things you can do with it!

I wanted to figure out the cost per pound of mozzarella, so I did some quick math:  The kit includes supplies for 30 batches and costs $25.21, so it’s about $0.84 per batch.  A gallon of whole milk is currently about $3.80 in my area.  That comes out to $4.64 per batch.  I got 1.05 pounds of mozzarella in a batch, so that’s $4.42 per pound.

I’ve heard it before, but never really believed it until I tried it myself–homemade mozzarella tastes way better than store bought.  This kit made making my own cheese very easy, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try making their own cheese.  I can’t wait to try the ricotta recipe next!

Have you tried making your own mozzarella?  If so, share your experience below.  I’m also looking for new ways to use the leftover whey, so share any suggestions below as well!



How to Separate Shot Gun Shells

Shotgun shells can be separated and the metal ends can be used in a variety of craft projects.  Here’s the easiest way to separate them:


Used Shotgun Shells
Two pairs of pliers
Your Stove

Step 1: Heat the metal end of the shell on your stove.  Either use a pair of pliers to hold the metal part in contact with the flame of your gas stove on medium heat or set the metal end on the coil or flat surface of your electric stove on low heat.

Step 2: Heat for about 30 seconds or until the base of the plastic begins to bulge.  Use the pliers to hold the metal end and tug from the top of the plastic end.  If the plastic part does not separate with a slight tug, heat the base longer and try again.

Step 3: Be careful not to let the plastic end melt to anything (It should be soft, but not sticky). Let the base cool and then make something fun!

Some potential craft projects using these:

Fridge magnets
Thumb tacks
Wall art

Let me know how you plan to upcycle the bases in the comments.

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