Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Anyone want to see some wedding inspo? Let me know what you think!

Wedding by KELLY, see more Minted
Wedding board by KELLY. See more Minted

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Surprise, surprise!- Hollowed-out Book Kindle Case

There are two categories of people in this world- Those who love surprises, and those who can't stand them. And although I am in the latter category when it comes to being on the receiving end, I can't get enough of being the surpriser. And I'm pretty darn good at it, if I do say so myself.

So as Christmas approached, I went into supriser mode overload. My first victim was that SBOM. You might recall that he was threatened with getting only paint chips after poking fun at my obsession, but I'm not that mean.. he's been a pretty good boy this year, and I already had an idea brewing. He's an avid reader as well as being constantly on the go, so I wanted to make his life a little bit easier by getting him a Kindle.

As I was trying to decide what to make or buy as a case, I came across this idea and decided to go for it. I mean, what's more pleasantly surprising than thinking you're getting a plain, unexciting, old fashioned book and opening it up to find one of those fancy, new-fangled e-readers? Not much comes to mind.

First thing the next morning I headed to Hastings' two-fer (2 for $1) section. I found one for practice (and ended up making a nice little hide-away book of my own) and one for the actual Kindle case. There just so happened to be one about Blackhawk helicopters (SBOM is a Blackhawk mechanic..impressed? me too :) ), confirming that this project was meant to be. Now it was go time.

Hollowed-out Book Kindle Case

On the first attempt I roughly followed this guy's tutorial and noted the adjustments that needed to be made for the actual Kindle case.

**Note: this is not a quick process, and in order for it to come out decent-looking you've got grow an orchard of the fruit of patience. Mine were quite under-ripe, and the results of rushed work can be seen in my test book's imperfections. I suggest DVR-ing a few episodes seasons of your favorite TV show or making a hefty trip to your nearest Redbox before attempting this one.

What you'll need:

  • A book thick enough for your generation of e-book reader, or sufficient for whatever you plan to store in it
  • Modge Podge or Elmer's glue-type product (I used Modge Podge)
  • X-acto knife and/or box cutter
  • Paint brush or sponge (to apply the Modge Podge)
  • Optional: something to make the case stay shut. I toyed around with ideas for this and settled on elastic glued to the outside looped around a button (you'll see what I mean at the end). You could also use ribbon, Velcro, or any number of other materials for this part, or nothing at all. Get creative

First, select the page that you want to be the first layer of the hollowed-out part of your book, and save that page to be cut out at the end. Even if you aren't planning on saving any pages at the beginning of the book, you need to set one aside. This is so that the page that is seen when you open the book will look neat and not ragged.

Next, on the following page trace the shape of your kindle in pencil, and then in dark ink make the shape about a quarter centimeter larger than the shape you traced.

Excluding the reserved first page and any other pages you don't want to be included in the cut-out part of the book, hold the rest of the pages together and apply a thick layer of Modge Podge.

Allow this to dry completely, using spacers so that the first pages and front cover don't get stuck. I used some of my most recent Sonic Happy Hour trip's complimentary peppermints, but anything of a similar size will do.

Put some sort of weight on top of the book so that the 'podged pages will stick together tightly (Mom's weird fake plant bulb-filled flower vase worked well for this task.. at least it's good for something).

Now the real fun begins- cutting out the pages.

(I had to invite my Friends Phoebe, Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Ross, & Joey to join me for this part)

Using a strait edge and knife, cut out along the inside of the line. Try to make the cut as vertical as possible. This is a one-or-two page at a time process, so don't try to rush it or get discouraged if it's slow-going. The more quickly you try to do it, the more uneven and jagged the cuts will be. I started out just using my cheap x-acto knife and quickly realized that it wouldn't even be ready for next Christmas if I kept that up so I switched to a box cutter. This cut more pages at a time but left the cut pages looking as if I'd hacked them up with a machete, so I eventually found a happy medium making my big cuts with the box cutter and using the x-acto knife for the corners and to trim up the pages' edges periodically.

I don't have a picture of this part because A) it's hard to hold a box cutter, book and camera all at the same time, and B) I was in the zone. Before I knew it, it was 4am and I was swimming in a sea of shredded book pages still only halfway done.

But press on, because sooner or later, you'll get to the last page. Congratulations! It's all downhill from here.

Now apply a generous coat of Modge Podge on the inside edges of the pages. Use any excess to apply a second coat to the outside of the pages.

Remember that one page you reserved in the beginning? Now it's time to use it. Paint a thin layer of Modge Podge on rim of the already-cut pages.

Make sure that the page you reserved in the beginning is laying evenly and smoothly and close the entire book with the weight used earlier on top. This time don't use the spacers. Let dry another 15-20 minutes.

Cut through the first page that is now glued to the top layer of cut out pages with your X-acto knife. The inside will still be wet, so let it all dry completely before moving on. For the Kindle case I wanted a little bit more of a uniform look so I repeated the last step with a black piece of card stock and trimmed it to size.

There you have it- a hollowed-out book!

I stopped there on my first attempt and made a little jewelry box that adds a little unique flair to my counter top.

(and now my secret's out- you know where I store all my irreplaceable hand candy. If they disappear one day, I'll know who to blame)

You can see the result of my lack of patience in the unevenness and jagged edges here.

For the Kindle case, I wanted to somehow make it secure so that there wouldn't be a chance that the Kindle could accidentally take a tumble. I toyed with a few ideas before settling on elastic looped around a raised button.

I secured the button to the front cover of the book with hot glue and then did the same with the elastic on the back cover.

*Note- this hasn't been a fail-proof idea. The hot glue hasn't held as well as I'd hoped and the button has a tendency to pop off if there's too much tug from the elastic. Anyone have a better idea? I'd love to hear them!
And the finished product again surpassed my expectations:

Normally when I come across a project as detail-oriented and time consuming as this it's immediately categorized as "Something someone as uncreative as me could never succeed at" and stored away in the "In your dreams" file.

And this attitude doesn't stop at craft projects.

With school it's the "degree someone as mediocrely intelligent I am could never get good enough grades for" category that gets stuck in that same file, along with the categories of "job someone as inexperienced as I am could never excel at" and "friends someone as weird and wounded as I am could never keep".

The list goes on and on, and it's this "In your dreams" file that keeps me right where I am, living unfulfilled, doing only what I know I can be good at, even if in my heart I know that Jesus desperately wants to take the plain, bargain bin cast offs that I cling to and transform them into something with a purpose, just like I did with this project. And slowly but surely, my sweet Lord is showing me that in His power I can take everything labeled as "In your dreams" and re-file it as "Been there, done that".

And I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing that feels.
I've been a Mandisa fan since she showed Simon Cowell the love of Jesus while effectually telling him where to stick it on American Idol a few years ago, and one of her newest songs, Waiting on Tomorrow, tugs at my heart every time I hear it. She asks the question, what am I waiting for? Why am I waiting on tomorrow? Why am I waiting to change and step out into my destiny?
What a good question.. one that I don't have an answer for. If our lives are but a breath (Psalm 39:5), pretty soon there aren't going to be any more tomorrows. So right now I'm going to start living today. It's way past time.

What about you? Tomorrow's here. Let's live it together


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Back in action- Paint chip calendar and True Colors card

Wow y'all.. it's been a crazy month.. an awesomely blessed, exciting, busy, somewhat stressful, crazy month. A lot has changed, most significantly my state of residence. Hello Georgia! I'm definitely loving every minute of it, and because I'm living in very close proximity to my very crafty blest flend Anna P. we've been doing  some hard-core Pinterest partying going on. The products of these wild nights will definitely be fodder for many blogs to come, but right now I have a lot of catching up to do!

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had a few other paint chip projects in the works. The first was a Christmas present for the sweetest, most inspiring little family I know.. literally (check out their blogs here and here). I've been babysitting for the P's oldest 3 boys for the past few years and grown to know and love all of them more than my heart can handle. Momma and Daddy P are two of the best parents I've ever witnessed, and their passion for foster care and adoption was one of the main things that fueled my interest in going into the field of social work. A few months before I moved, they were blessed with sweet baby M, and not getting to see that precious little boy grow up physically and spiritually breaks my heart. Thank goodness both of them are diligent picture po

Like I said, Mamma P is one of the most inspiring moms I know.. if/when I have kids of my own one day, I am already praying I get half of her patience, love, and super-mom powers. She's creative, organized, never frazzled, and always smiling, no matter what her 4 wildly energetic little boys are up to. So as one of my first real Pinterest undertakings I wanted to make something that she could actually use. I tried out a few ideas for weekly menu organizational boards (which she'd actually use, since she really does plan dinners a week in advance and stick to the plans.. like I said, super-mom), but none of them really panned out, so I took this idea here and made it my own.

Paint Chip Calendar

I was passing by the Benjamin Moore pain store the other day and couldn't help myself- I had to take a look at there selection, and boy, they had some good ones. Great colors, shapes, sizes, color names.. I was in heaven.

Aren't they great?

I know the employees must have thought I was crazy, but I grabbed handfuls of the most colorful and fun and made a beeline for the door. An idea was being formed and I needed to get it started before it was forgotten. My one-track brain doesn't hold much these days.. SQUIRREL! (An Up reference. Haven't seen the movie? You're missing out for real)

First I gathered and organized all these pretty little things into a pattern that fit my fancy. In order to accomodate every combination of month start dates it required a lot of space (a month that begins on a Friday would need a calendar with 6 weeks to fit all the dates, even though it only has a maximum of 31 days.. do the math). After over an hour of mixing and matching, this is what I came up with-

Next I took each column and attached them to the back of some ugly-colored paint chip cards just because they were ready-made, evenly cut pieces of material. For those less lazy than I am, any sturdy scrap paper strips would do. I used double-sided tape so it would be easier to un-attach and move them around if need be.

I repeated this step for each of the days of the week, but because my frame wasn't large enough to fit all seven columns, I had to make the weekend days smaller. No biggie. It actually added a pretty cool dynamic to the design. I'm beginning to love the improvisation factor in all this crafty stuff.. and if you know me at all, you know what a miracle it is for this anal, type-A control freak.

I bought this frame for under $8 at Walmart (the only real cost of the project, may I add) and lined it with a piece of poster board cut to size.

I then cut a piece of white poster board to fit in the frame and begun lining up the columns.

The perfectionist in me started rearing it's ugly head at this point as I realized there was some unavoidable unevenness in the alignment, so I used my handy-dandy paper cutter (an OCD craft-a-holic's BFF) and cut very small strips of posterboard to make some "grid lines".

After securing all of these to the posterboard, I labeled the days of the week, added a space for the name of the month, and put the family's last name at the top.

Finally, I let it dry completely before putting the frame together.

(Excuse the crappy picture quality and gross over-croppage.. all I had on hand was my I phone)

The outcome honestly surpassed my expectations. Love it!

The next project was one for that SBOM. At one point he had jokingly made fun of my paint chip stealing, so I told him that all he'd be getting for Christmas was a big pile of 'em. And I was only half-kidding

I'd seen some cute "things I love about you" projects on Pinterest that had gotten my creative juices flowing. I thought about doing this one, but after my promising him a piant chip-ified present, I adapted.

"What I Love About Your True Colors" Paint Chip Card

First I gathered up some of my least girly paint chips (I used the trusty WalMart brand again) and prepared my mental list of his great qualities, which definitely wasn't a difficult task. Then I wrote one quality on each color square, using various colors of Sharpies. To make the cover slip, I cut one chip in each of the primary colors and glued them to a neutral slip. When I'd made six or seven slips, I punched a hole in the top right corner of each one and secured them together with a thin ribbon. And he had to eat his teasing words, because it was a big hit :)

Like I said, this past month has been so good, and I know there is a purpose for me being here and now, for "such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). But I would be lying if I said that there weren't a few lonely nights that I've spent questioning if moving this far away from family and friends was such a good idea after all. I have a great friend and her wonderful husband right down the road that have gone so far out of their way to help me it isn't even funny, and I am more grateful for that than I can say. But I left a lot behind when I moved down here, and the only explanation I can give to people that ask why I did it is that God said so.. and even though it is confusing and hard, I know within my soul that it's right. This is where I'm supposed to be.

On the dark nights (and mornings.. and afternoons) that I feel so alone, unknown, and unheard, Kutless' new song "Carry Me to the Cross" floods my hurting heart with light. I have to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of their usual hard core, metal-esque material, but they mellowed out a lot on this one and it's one of my new faves. The first verse brings me to tears almost every time.. it's like they read my journal-

"When the path is daunting and every step exhausting, I'm not alone
I feel you draw me closer, all these burdens on my shoulder

I'm not alone, I'm not alone, You pull me me from this place"

Thank you, Jesus, for pulling me from the lonely places and setting my feet upon your Rock. The sorrow may last for a night but Your joy comes in the morning.



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pride comes before.. a broken oven- Baked Frito Pie & Blender Beans

I have quite a track record for good intentions gone horribly wrong. Mixed with a chronic lack of patience and my tendency to assume I don't need to follow anyone elses' instructions (can you say pride?), the results can be catastrophic. 

The most recent example of this- while trying to clean the cooked-on gunk out of the bottom of my mom's oven the other day so she could cook her famous oven-roasted candied pecans without filling the house with the smell of burnt grease and goodness-knows what else, I somehow managed to destroy both the top and bottom cooking chambers completely.. just in time for Christmas. Epic fail.  

Turns out I don't know everything. Sorry Scarlet O'Mamma.. and thank you for loving me in spite of myself. You're the best :)

But prior to its demise this old oven had a few shining moments, the latest being an Oven-Baked Frito Pie. I found the recipe here, and adapted it a bit to fit my kitchen (my adaptions are in italics).

I grew up on the traditional chili-and-cheese-smothered-mass-of-corn-chips version of Frito Pie with no complaints, but after tasting the more sophisticated version (if you can actually say that about a recipe that's main ingredient is manufactured by Frito-Lay), I'm definitely not going back. It's super creamy and oh-so-easy.. if you have a functioning oven, that is.

Oven-Baked Frito Pie


1 lb. ground beef
1 can (16 oz) chili beans
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I eyeballed this amount and probably used a bit more than a cup)
3 1/2 cups corn chips (also eyeballed and used more than 3 1/2 cups to adequately cover the chili mixture)
1 1/4 cup sour cream (I needed the full 16oz. but the amount used depends on how creamy you'd like it)

First brown and drain the ground beef in a large pan. I used a 85% lean mixture, but next time I'd pick an even leaner variety, because too much of the meat's bulk was cooked off.

While the beef is browning I covered the base of a 9x13in. pan with Fritos (be sure to use the Originals, not the "Scoops").


Next stir the chili beans, tomato sauce, taco seasoning mix and 1/4 c. of cheese into the pan with the browned and drained beef.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Now remove from the oven and spread enough sour cream, Fritos, and cheese over the top of the casserole dish to cover it. I had to use more of both ingredients than the recipe called for in order to do this.

Return to the oven and cook for 5 more minutes, and it's ready to serve!

Now eat up, and don't stop until this is all that remains:

So good!

(Recipe from Sweet Treats and More)

1 lb. ground beef
1 can (16 oz) chili beans
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 1/2 cups corn chips (Frito's)
1 1/4 cup sour cream


Cook ground beef until meat is browned; drain. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, taco seasoning mix and 1/4 c. of cheese. Sprinkle 1 cup corn chips in bottom of 8x8 baking dish or 9x13 dish. Cover with chili. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Spread sour cream over chili. Top with remaining corn chips and cheese. Bake 4-5 minutes longer.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

I guess this technically could have been a meal all in it's own, but that morning I'd thrown some pinto beans in the crock pot as an experiment and decided to get really crafty with them at this point. I roughly followed the directions here, where Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen tested whether soaking the beans before putting them in the crock pot really made that much of a difference (spoiler alert- it doesn't). And since we've already determined patience isn't my strong suit, the non-soaking method worked perfectly. I should have pre-seasoned the beans and water they in before they cooked because seasoning them post-crock pot didn't quite suffice.

To begin,I placed  two cups of dried pintos in the crock pot with enough water to cover all of the beans and cooked on high for about 8 hours. When the beans were done, I drained them, reserving the liquid, and placed about half a cup at a time in the blender pulsing them on the "mash" setting, adding the reserved water as needed to keep them from sticking to the blades. Periodically I'd add dashes of salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste, but again, I feel like the flavor would have been much better if the seasoning had been done prior to cooking the beans.

The ingredients

After the mashing was over, I added some cheese and stuck them in the oven for about 5 minutes. Looking good!

This process yielded ultra-smooth and rich "refried" beans, but it wasn't without a little extra work. It was a hassle to do them only one half-cup at a time, and it was tricky to guess the perfect ratio of beans and water. Plus, transferring the beans from the crock pot to the blender, then to a serving dish added more mess to clean up. But if you're more concerned with the appearance of the finished product than the ease of preparation, this is a great way to ensure restaurant-style beans without the sore arms that come from mashing the beans by hand.

Like I said earlier, I really deal with some pride issues. I hate asking for help or admitting I'm wrong, to God or to anyone else. Whether it's asking for driving directions or help with statistics homework, I'd much rather spend two extra hours figuring it out on my own than take two minutes to get some much-needed assistance. Not a biblical approach to life by a long shot. Proverbs, and the whole Bible for that matter, is chock full of warnings to those who refuse to accept correction, advice, and counsel. I mean, Proverbs 15:10 says that those who hate correction will die. Whoa.. that's a scary one 

So why is it so hard to do? Probably because it's absolutely necessary in order to live a full life in Christ, and those things take sacrifice. Jesus Christ Himself took direction and advice from His Father, so what makes me think I'm immune?

But yet, I still refuse to read directions and end up breaking ovens. It's insane.

So when I look at the things I've done, both big and small, out of an "I-know-better-than-you-Lord" attitude, my heart aches.. badly. Pride really does come before destruction & disgrace (Proverbs 16:18 and 11:2) , and it shows me truly how far I am from where I want and need to be. If I want to be used by God to do the things He has for me to do, I can't refuse to do follow His lead. It doesn't work that way.

And I can't fix this one on my own

It's at this point that I start to see how much I don't have figured out, and how much I need my Jesus' direction. The pride begins to melt away and I can't pretend I've got all the answers any more. The song "Busted Heart" by For King and Country says exactly what my heart is feeling right now in it's beginning lines-
"Winter has come back again
Feels like the season won't end
My faith is dying tonight
And I won't try to pretend
I've got it all figured out

I don't have any doubts
I've got a busted heart
I need You now"

But in the midst of the shame and confusion, this truth emerges, with all the hope I need in order to continue pressing on-
 "Hold on to me until it comes to an end
Soon this season will end
I'll surrender tonight
You meet me right where I am"

He meets me right where I am, and He'll take me to the places I'm not yet. And this, my friends, is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The best things in life are free- Paint Chip coasters, cards, & Christmas decor

Let me just say that I'm a sucker for anything free.

Turn me loose in Sam's on a Saturday morning and those sample booths will have me fed for the week.

Once I got a bottle of Ojon (shampoo specially formulized for African-Americans to combat nappy roots) just because I recieved a coupon in the mail (and used it).

And don't get me started on the "free" section of Craigslist. I don't care if I'll never use a mini-Vuvuzela.. if they're giving it away, I'll take it.

So when I discovered the art of crafting with paint chips, i was hooked. Not only are they uuber cute and colorful, by gosh, they're free. Yes and amen.

Fast forward a few months, and I'm pretty sure I'm on the watch list of Wal-mart's paint department. Decorations, cards, gifts.. It's gotten a little out of hand. That SBoM was making fun of me for this obsession the other day, so do you know what he's getting for Christmas? That's right, paint chips (I'm only half kidding.. be on the lookout for that post sometime soon). One of my bigger undertakings is a gift for one the most amazing families I've ever known who I babysat for in Searcy. That one will be a post in itself as well, but here's a sneak peak:

 Stay tuned!

My latest P.C. project was an upcylce of some old drink coasters. I was inspired by this but I needed to use what I had laying around, so the finished product looked more like this:

Here's my version:

Paint Chip Coasters

I had some beat-up, drink-stained Christmas coasters stuffed into a box of decorations from last year that needed a new life, so they became my base. But you could use any sturdy cardstock, cardboard, or cork.

These were made out of thin cardboard.
The supply list wasn't extensive, either. Just some Modge Podge, a glue stick, the coaster bases, and whatever combination of paint chips your little heart desires. My personal fave are the ones only available at Wal Mart because they're long, have great colors, and come in about bajillion and three varieties.

First, slather your coaster base in a generous amount of glue from the glue stick. Be sure to get every little nook and cranny.

I went for the "less is more" look.

Easy as 1-2-3

Next, trim up the edges to match the coaster base.

Then apply a thick, even coat of Modge Podge on the top and sides.

Be sure to get the sides really well so that the paint chips adhere completely.

Repeat as many times as you have coasters and let them dry completely until no stickiness is left.

And you're done!

Now all that's left is to put them to work. My favorite way to do that is with a concoction I made up on a whim recently called a Strawberry Wine Spritzer. Mix your favorite sweet wine with some strawberry flavored carbonated water and half a "to-go" packet of strawberry flavored Crystal Light. Yum!

But the craze doesn't end there. These guys are so perfect for Christmas cards and tags like these:

And a lot of them have Holiday-themed names that add extra flair:

"Polar Bear" and "Sugar Plum"

"Happy Holiday"

"Jolly Holly" and "Christmas Red"

"Warm Gingerbread", "Cinnamon Stick", and "Cinnamon Spice"

And they make great quick, colorful ornaments/wreaths/etc.

You may see me at an addicts anonymous meeting soon, but for now I'm perfectly happy with this little obsession... as is my wallet. You can't get much better than free.

Speaking of free..

There's been a lot on my heart and mind lately, and so much of it makes me think, why in the world would the Lord still forgive me for all of this? I have done so much to hurt His heart (for real, y'all.. it's been a mess), and I still don't have it all together in the least.

Last night when I was talking whining to God, the Holy Spirit hit me hard with the fact that if  I spent half  the time in the Word as I do on Pinterest my life would look a lot different.


But the Truth isn't always comfortable or easy to hear.. And I know that that Truth brings no condemnation. So as the lies flood in about how awful I am and how far from grace I must be falling, the word free begins to grown in meaning, because in Chirst I have recieved so much for free:

Free grace

Free love

Free forgiveness

Free acceptance

Free-dom from condemnation




I am free. Wow. I don't know what that does for you, but my heart can't get enough of that. Jimmy Needham sings many songs addressing this blessed fact, one being "Forgiven & Loved." Part of the chorus is,

"When He died He died to rectify my hopeless situation,
And His blood commands my guilt to flee.
So on calvary I stand, empty pockets, open hands,
Because there is no condemnation for me."

And at the very end he just repeats,
"Child you're forgiven and loved."

Wow. Gets me every time. Enjoy :)