My 3 Monsters: October 2012

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Celebrating National Dessert Month with Hostess

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hostess Cakes for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I was in the grocery store the other day and couldn't resist the overwhelming urge to buy a box of Twinkies.  I love those sweet, golden, spongy treats.  I brought them home and marvelled at how each member of my family has their own unique way of enjoying a Twinkie.  One dives right in and devours it so quickly I wonder if he even tasted the treat.  Another dissects their Twinkie and eats it inside out.  My husband likes to freeze his.  {Delightful!}  I always think about embellishing mine.  Like, what if I covered one with sliced strawberries and drizzled chocolate over the top? 


Or cut up Twinkies instead of pound cake for a trifle?  Ummmm, yes, please!  Soooo many delicious options!

Did you know that October is National Dessert Month?  {Every month is Gregson Family Dessert Month, but whatever.  It only goes national once a year.}  It's time to start whipping up some fancy creations with your favorite Hostess Cakes!  Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Candy Apple Cakes

Pumpkin Twinkie Dessert

Twinkie Fantasy

Twinkie Toffee Treat

How about this wedding cake?!  My youngest son will ask for a cake like that, guaranteed.

I happily remember eating Twinkies as a kid.  They were a HUGE treat for special occasions.  I had no idea they could be used in so many different ways.  It's going to be really hard to choose which one to make for my family first.  All these recipes {and many, many more} are available at the Hostess Cakes website.  Happy National Dessert Month . . . Enjoy!

Visit Sponsor's Site


{31 Days to a Brand New Room}
Taking a Break or Breaking Down

If you're joining us for the first time today, welcome!  This is a 31-day series about how to give a room in your home a brand new look, from top to bottom, completely DIY.  

So, yeah.  No new post today.  I'm throwing in the towel . . . for a minute . . . not for good  . . . whatever.  I'm feeling completely swamped.  I know, making over a small bedroom in 31 days isn't really a big deal.  Plus, I cheated and started the process in August so I started the month ahead of the game, with about two weeks of posts pre-written.  If making over this bedroom and writing about it was ALL I had to do I would have been sitting pretty.  But life is always a little more complicated than that.

My kids want to eat . . . like, all the time.  And my creditors and utility companies want their payments from me.  And I have pretty big responsibilities at our church.  I've had to get Sis ready for the Pioneer Trek she went on and deal with a kid who is struggling in school.  We've had to put together 5 Halloween costumes and celebrate my birthday.  Plus, I'm a little down in the dumps for no good reason.  So, the slipcover has fallen through the cracks.  Here's what I got done yesterday in between finishing up costumes and making chili and corn muffins for Trunk-or-Treat:

I had it all finished BEFORE Trunk-or-Treat, but I came home and hated the way it looked so I ripped it apart and started over.  Now it's great, but I'm running behind.  I didn't even have time to move the cord off the top or take a decent picture of it.  OK, honestly I don't care enough right now to do those things. 

The room will be finished.  SOON. Very soon.  But not by the end of October.  It pains me to say that.  I'm an organizer.  I love a schedule and a deadline more than almost anything, but I would have had to neglect some other pretty important things to meet the deadline at this point.  I COULD have stayed home from Trunk-or-Treat last night {believe me, I thought about it} and stayed up all night and had a beautiful finished slipcover to show you, but why?  What would be the point of that?!  
I'm just going to take a day or two and catch up on some laundry -- I found out my boys have been re-wearing socks because they could see I was too busy and didn't want to ask me to wash their clothes -- this is not a good thing.  Maybe I'll try to get some food back up in this kitchen, too.  And THEN I'll show you Sis's pretty slipcover and some pictures of the finished room.  

Your comments on my projects this month have been so nice.  Thanks a ton for hanging in there with me and being the bestest blog friends in the world.  See y'all in a couple days with a finished slipcover!


{31 Days to a Brand New Room}
Day 26: Vintage Brooch Lampshade

If you're joining us for the first time today, welcome!  This is day 26 of a 31-day series about how to give a room in your home a brand new look, from top to bottom, completely DIY.  

OK, I'm gonna be really honest with you all.  This 31-day project just about has me beat.  I'm a little worn out.  Not complaining, just justifying waiting one more day to share my wing back slipcover with y'all.  Plus, I looked at yesterday's project and I really wasn't super happy with it.  Let me refresh your memory:

We added those cute crocheted flowers to a lampshade I had found on clearance months ago.  Simple.  It was fine, but it just wasn't . . . enough.  It felt unfinished to me so today I'm taking a mulligan and giving you Flowered Lampshade v. 2.0.  Sometimes you just have to rework things -- tweak a project here and there.  I rushed into showing the lampshade yesterday because of my 31-day deadline, but I didn't love it.  

I watch Project Runway and I am always horrified when they scrap a project after almost a full day's work and start from scratch, but usually it ends well.  You can feel it in your bones when things aren't clicking.  That was me yesterday.  Tim Gunn would have told me, "Make it work!" and that's what I did today.  I mean, I LOVE this lampshade now, but I'm not offended if you liked it better before.  I'm a little nervous about showing it actually . . . 

I dug through my jewelry box and pulled out all the vintage-looking brooches and pendants I have been collecting.  I don't know why I have been collecting them --maybe because I'm a bit of a magpie.  I've told you before -- I love things that sparkle!  Whenever I find a cool vintag-y looking bauble at a thrift store or on the clearance rack at Michaels I can't resist buying it.  Do I wear them?  Not really.  So I pinned them on the lamp shade.  
For the brooches I just slid the pin part in between the burlap of the lampshade and hard backing.  I didn't puncture the shade because I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  Also, don't worry about closing the pin.  They are very secure in there between the two layers.  To attach the pendants, I used pearl head pins stuck through the link at the top and inserted into the burlap like the brooches.
The bonus of doing it that way is that we can still wear the brooches and pendants if we want to.  I hot-glued an earring to the finial of the lamp to finish it all off and now I ADORE this lampshade.  What do you think {besides the fact that I should have cleared off the bed side table before taking this last picture}{and I need a better camera}?

NOW it looks finished to me . . . and worthy of being in this classy grown-up-girl room.  I promise tomorrow we'll start talking about slipcovers.  Thanks for hanging in there with me all month!  Have a great weekend, friends.


{31 Days to a Brand New Room}
Day 26: A Flowery Lamp Shade

If you're joining us for the first time today, welcome!  This is day 26 of a 31-day series about how to give a room in your home a brand new look, from top to bottom, completely DIY.  

I'm taking a day off after that big duvet project this week.  Today we're just going to refashion a lampshade -- quick and easy.  I found a cute navy blue drum shade on clearance at Hobby Lobby a while back for $3.  I had no plans for it, but I was thinking it might end up in the boys' room.  Until I saw it was the perfect shade of blue to match the walls in this room, that is.  And I just happened to find a shade-less lamp at Ikea for about $5 .  It's like it was meant to be!

Of course I couldn't leave the shade plain {the horror!}.  Sis picked out some cute white crocheted flowers at Hobby Lobby that we arranged and hot glued right onto the shade.  Nothing revolutionary, but it gives a custom, finished look. 

 The point of this post is two-fold.  First, to show you that you sometimes have to work with what you can find {or what you can afford} when working on a strict budget.  And it's FINE!  This is not the lamp I would have chosen for this room if I had unlimited funding, but for $5 I knew I could make it work.  Plus, it has a really cool on/off foot switch on the cord.  We stuck the switch to the side of the bedside table so Sis can turn it on and off without even sitting up in bed.  That's pretty cool.  And a burlap lampshade for $3?!  Can't beat that.

Second, to show you how easy it is to add a little extra "oomph" and give any boring old project a custom look.  This whole project only took me about 5 minutes, but the addition of those simple crocheted flowers elevate the hum drum lamp to a whole new level.

Don't be bummed if you have to use a few things you don't think you absolutely love in the beginning,  Sometimes the simplest fix can change your mind entirely.  Come back tomorrow to see how our Craig's List wing back chair gets a major facelift!


{31 Days to a Brand New Room}
Day 25: Anthro-Knock Off Rivulets Bedding {Part 2}

If you're joining us for the first time today, welcome!  This is day 25 of a 31-day series about how to give a room in your home a brand new look, from top to bottom, completely DIY.  

So, yesterday we worked on creating the top of the duvet cover  with all the arched ruffles.  Today we'll put it all together and finish it.  I do have a disclaimer to make before we get started, however.  There are precious few projects that I have done in my lifetime that were so tedious as to make me swear, absolutely, that I would never make one again.  This duvet cover is one of them.  Not that it's difficult.  The skills involved are pretty basic, I think.  It's the gather-pin-sew-repeat ad nauseum aspect that killed me.  And a duvet cover {even a twin size} is big and bulky and awkward to work with.  And it just keeps getting heavier and more awkward the more arches you sew on there.  Just keepin' it real for you, folks.  In summary:  glad I made it once, never doing it again. Lots of people love sewing a lot more than I do, though.  Lots of people have a lot more patience than I do, too.  This project is for those people.

Now that I have you all excited about it, let's get to finishing this project!

Today you're going to need:

10 strips of white jersey knit fabric, cut 3" wide by the width of the fabric
the second flat twin-size sheet from yesterday
the 9" piece of fabric you cut off the sheet you used yesterday for the duvet top
2 yards of white grosgrain ribbon to tie the duvet cover closed

Step 1:  Sew your strips of knit fabric together, end to end to make your ruffle for the edge of the duvet cover.  When you are finished you will have one VEEEEERRRRRYYYY long strip of fabric.

Step 2:  Gather the long strip of fabric into a ruffle.  There are a bunch of different ways to do this.  I like to crank the tension on my sewing machine up as high as it will go and set the stitch length as long as it will go and then sew down the edge of my fabric about 1/2" in from the edge.  Messing with the tension and stitch length like that will make your machine gather the fabric for you.  {Woot woot!}  I find that the faster you sew it, the tighter the gathers get.  No need to be a speed demon here.  Just go at an average pace.

Step 3:  Lay your duvet top out flat, right side up, then lay out your ruffled piece all around the perimeter.  Line up the gathered edge of the ruffle, right side down, with the outer edge of the duvet top.  Make sure all the arches on the duvet top are laying flat.  Pin it in place and then sew it on all the way around using a basting stitch on your sewing machine.  {Don't forget to return the tension to normal setting.  Gathers here = bad.}

Step 4:  Lay your duvet top out flat again, right side up.  Take the base fabric you cut off the duvet top yesterday and lay it, right side down, across the bottom edge of the duvet top, lining up the raw edges.  Pin in place.

Step 5:  Lay second flat sheet, right side down, on top of duvet top.  The hemmed bottom edge of the sheet should overlap the piece you just pinned on and be about 2" above the bottom edge of the duvet cover.

Pin it in place up the sides.  When you get to the top edge you'll have some extra fabric {like yesterday}.  Cut that off then sew all the way around the edge with a 1/2" seam allowance.

Step 6:  Turn the duvet cover right side out and enjoy your masterpiece!  Cut your grosgrain ribbon into 12-inch lengths.  Mark the overlapping flap at the bottom of the duvet cover back every 16 inches with a pin.  Sew one piece of ribbon onto each marked spot.  Them mark the corresponding point on the main piece of the duvet cover back -- this is where you will sew the other pieces of ribbon .  

Insert your duvet and tie the ribbons together in bows.  All finished!!  Hallejuah, you survived this marathon sewing project!

Here's what mine looks like now that it's all finished:

It's really feminine and fun and I love how the white reflects so much light back into the room!  I was getting a little worried that this was going to be a really dark space, but adding this one big white element REALLY helps.  If the duvet looks a little flat it's because there isn't one in there . . . yet.  I'm looking for a bargain on a lightweight down comforter.  For now, that's just the cover laid across her bed.  You would not believe how heavy it ends up being.  I think it's probably plenty warm enough alone -- especially in the summer.  I plan to make a matching pillow sham for Sis's extra sleeping pillow.  That big navy blue beast in the photo is her body pillow.

Here's a close-up of the finished ruffled edge:

And one more of the bed for good measure:

It's cool to see everything finally coming together.  I couldn't be more pleased with the results.  What do you think?  Was it worth the effort?

I hope you'll join me tomorrow for a quick little reading lamp makeover.  Thanks for stopping by today!


{31 Days to a Brand New Room}
Day 24: Anthro-Knock Off Rivulets Bedding {Part 1}

If you're joining us for the first time today, welcome!  This is day 24 of a 31-day series about how to give a room in your home a brand new look, from top to bottom, completely DIY.  

We're finally moving on from the accent pillows!!!  I decided to make today's project a two-parter because once I got going and realized how time- and labor-intensive it was, I knew that doing it all in one post would be ridiculous.  The post would take you all day to read!  It's not very hard to make, but there is kind-of a lot going on.  This is the original quilt from Anthropologie that inspired today's project:

It's beautiful, isn't it?  Worth every penny of its $288-plus-shams price tag.  I actually bought a pair of the shams in a coral/orange color when they were on clearance for super cheap to use in my living room.  My ulterior motive was to see how they were made so I would know if I could even come close to replicating this look at home.  Here's a close up of the detail:

After studying the shams I ordered in real life, I came to the conclusion that I absolutely COULD NOT replicate this quilt on my budget.  There is all kinds of smocking going on in there and the shams are thick -- like, many layers of nice, quality jersey fabric thick.  They're beautiful AND beautifully made.   

But I also decided I COULD replicate the FEELING of this bedding -- the jersey knit fabric, the ruffles, the prettiness.  That's all I really need on my budget, right? 

This is how I puzzled it all out in my notebook.  {NOTE:  This is not really intended to be intelligible to you.  Just a glimpse into the way my mind works.}

So, the plan is, basically, to sew gathered arches of jersey knit fabric onto a twin flat sheet in a fish scale pattern, then add another twin flat sheet to the back to form a duvet cover.  You with me?

Here's what you need for a twin size duvet cover {finished size: 64" x 86"}:
7-2/3 yards white knit fabric
2 twin white flat sheets

The link above for the jersey knit fabric is from the same website where I found my fabric, but the one I got is no longer available.  The one I linked to looks very similar and the price is awesome!!

Ready to get to work?

Step 1:  Cut your fabric.  This is super easy with a rotary cutter and cutting mat.  You just need to cut 44 strips of your knit fabric 4" wide by the width of your fabric {from selvage to selvage}.  Then cut 44 strips of knit fabric 1" wide by the width of your fabric.  {In my plan above it says 1/2", but I decided it looked better a little wider so go with 1".} Save the rest of the fabric for the ruffle around the outside edge.

Step 2:  Cut 9" off the top edge of one of your fitted sheets.  The sheets are longer than your finished duvet cover needs to be.  Save the cut piece because we'll use that tomorrow, too.

Step 3:  Mark your base fabric.  I figured I would need a way to lay out my arch pattern, but I didn't want to have any marks show through when I was all finished.  There are probably a million ways to do that, but I decided to press creases in my base fabric, forming a grid I could follow. Start by folding your twin sheet in half the long way and press a crease right down the middle.  Fold it in half again and press that fold really well, too.  You should have your twin sheet folded up into a really long, narrow strip now.  Beginning at the top end, fold over and press the fabric every 7-3/4 inches.  When you unfold your fabric you will have a nice grid of pressed lines.  {I emphasized with dotted lines in the photo below.}

Step 4:  Lay out your arches, one at a time.  Beginning in the top left corner, take one of your 4" strips of fabric and lay it out like a rainbow on your base fabric, bunching it up into gathers.  Make sure the ends of your arch hang about 1-1/2" below the base line of your grid and the side edges hang over into the next square by about 1/2'.  Does that make sense?  You want each arch to overlap the next one a little bit.

Once that is laid out to your liking, take one of your 1" fabric strips and cut it in half.  Lay each piece flat on top of your ruffled arch and pin it all down to the base fabric.

Sew around the arch, right down the middle of each narrow strip to secure it to the base fabric.  The narrow strips will not lay completely flat when you sew them -- they will gather and pucker a little bit, but that adds to the ruffly look.  Don't worry about it.

Step 5:  Repeat step 4 in the next section of your grid, until you complete the top row.

Step 6:  Repeat step 4 on the next row of your base fabric grid.  The only difference is that the grid lines will now mark the center of your arch, not the edges.  {Refer to my drawing above.}  That's what will give it the fish scale look.  Just eyeball where the edges of your arches need to be.

On these rows, I started with my center arch and worked out to the edges.  You will end up with a half-arch on each end of the row.  Make these by cutting your 4" strip in half and your 1" strip into fourths.  Pin it on and sew it just like you would the full arches.

Keep repeating the process until you reach the bottom of your base fabric.  Here's a peek at mine in progress, draped over my kitchen table:

And a side-by side with the Anthro original:

Not too shabby, I think.  Come back tomorrow and I'll show you how I put the whole thing together!


Supporting my Little Athlete {with Kleenex}

Am I the only mom who cries?  Like, ALL the time?!  And almost never because I'm sad.  Sometimes I wonder about my emotional stability . . .

There have just been so many moments lately when I was completely overwhelmed by one of my children's courage or integrity or stick-to-it-iveness that it has brought a tear to my eye.  Yes, I have taken to wearing waterproof eyeliner and carrying a pack of Kleenex in my purse.  {And to making up words like stick-to-it-ive.}  Best be prepared since I know it's gonna' happen, right?

We've had a few really cool events in the past month that have gotten lost in the blog shuffle what with all the projects we have going on in our home.  One of those events was Sydney's participation in the Pioneer Trek -- more on that soon!  Another was Dylan's school district kickball tournament.  I know you're thinking, "Don't tell me you actually cried over an elementary school kickball tournament.  You really are nuts!"  Well, yes, that's exactly what I am going to tell you.  Your opinions about that are your own . . .

Here's the whole story.  Our little school district decided to have kickball intramurals this year for 4th and 5th graders.  There would be several weeks of practices capped off by a big district-wide tournament.  Dylan, our 5th grader, really wanted to do it.  He's never played a sport or done a school activity, and he could use some outside time so we signed him up.  It was very low key.  I mean, it's elementary school, right?  Everyone got a chance to kick every inning to keep it fair.  It didn't matter if they won or lost, it was just fun to play.  But 10-year-old boys really want to win, no matter what they say.

The day of the final district tournament started off with a round robin in the morning before the single elimination portion began in the afternoon.  To say our team struggled in the morning would be a gross understatement.  They lost every game.  Significantly.  It was hot and the kids were exhausted before the "real" tournament even began.  As parents, we all quietly joked that at least we'd get to go home out of the heat early.  Until they won their first game . . .

And then their second . . .

And kept winning until they were in the CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!!!  The excitement amongst the team and their families was building by the minute.  {Plus, we found a shadier spot to sit as other teams got knocked out and went home.  That upped the enjoyment factor about a hundred-fold, too.}  Could our kiddos actually take home the title?!  How was this happening?!

That last game.  Oh, that last game.  The kids were so hot and so tired.  {No shade on the field.}  All the momentum they had built to that point came to a screeching halt.  No amount of cheering could get them going again.  They were done!  In the bottom of the last inning, our little guys were down by 12.  But somehow, they dug deep and ended up coming back  . . . only to lose the gamy BY ONE POINT.  Yeah, you read that right.  They regained ELEVEN POINTS in one inning and missed out on being the first-ever district champs by one measly little point. 

I have never been so proud of a group of kids!  Did they cry?  Did they complain?  No.  They were just proud of themselves for playing the best game they could have played.  No one was saying, "We lost."  Instead, it was, "We almost won that one!"   Talk about a Kleenex moment! 

It made me think of this quote from Michael Jordan:

It's OK to sometimes fall short of your goal, as long as you did the best you could possibly do.  I always tell my kids, "Just try!"  You'll never know if you can do something until you try.  Our kiddos could never have come back from a twelve point deficit without TRYING!

Our team's coaches were fantastic.  Wouldn't it be cool to make them custom Kleenex boxes for their classrooms with the team picture and an inspirational quote?!  I actually kinda' want one myself . . .  I think that would be a really fun gift for the coach of any kids sports team.  You can design your own Kleenex box here!  Do you have a Kleenex moment as a mom?

Get a Kleenex custom oval BOGO until 11/15/12, just use the code PLAYOFFS at checkout on the Kleenex site. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

{31 Days to a Brand New Room}
Day 23: Ruffle Front Accent Pillow

If you're joining us for the first time today, welcome!  This is day 23 of a 31-day series about how to give a room in your home a brand new look, from top to bottom, completely DIY.  

Today's project is another quick and easy accent pillow.  It's the last one {in this room}, I promise.  But first, enjoy another little movie clip to celebrate the end of our unofficial "throw pillow week":

I don't see what the big deal is . . . they make the bed look nice.  {hee, hee} They do!  They make the bed look nice!  Just forget about those two lost days a year.  What were you going to do with those two days anyway?

I'm all about ruffles -- especially in a girly room like this one.  So I decided to make a big-ish pillow {18-inch square} with a couple of ruffles down the center front.  I got the idea from the same picture I pinned on Pinterest that inspired yesterday's bow pillow.  Alas, there were no directions for the ruffle front pillow so I had to wing it.  Nice thing about pillows is they're squishy, so if the cover comes out wonky the pillow can usually be made to fit.  Here's what we're going for today:

I used two contrasting fabrics, but you could do both ruffles the same if you wanted and just use one fabric.  Or you could use three different fabrics and make both of your ruffles different than the base fabric.  I used an 18-inch pillow form so here's what I cut out:
  • {2}  19 inches square  pieces of the base fabric
  • {1} 25-inch by 37-inch piece for the biggest ruffle
  • {1} 9-inch by 37-inch piece for the narrow ruffle
I also used an 18-inch zipper for the bottom of my pillow cover.   This really is a simple project. First fold one of your base pieces in half and iron a crease down the center.  This will be your guide for lining up and sewing on the ruffles.

Next, take the fabric for your big ruffle, fold it in half right sides together and sew the two raw edges together with a 1/2" seam allowance.  You'll be creating a long tube of fabric.  Turn the tube right side out and press it flat with the seam down the center.
Using a basting stitch, stitch down the center of your pressed piece of fabric, through both layers, using the seam as a guide.  Pull the bottom thread to gather the fabric into a ruffle 12-inches wide by 18-inches long.  Pin the ruffle down the center fold that you pressed into your base piece and stitch it to attach.

Follow the same process with your smaller ruffle piece.  {I didn't have enough fabric to make a "tube" for my smaller ruffle, so I just cut a piece 5-inches wide by 36-inches long and made a narrow rolled hem to finish each long edge.  I would have preferred using the "tube" method because then you wouldn't see the wrong side of the fabric on the back of the ruffle.  I think it makes for a nicer finished product, but we make do with what we have, right? }

Once you have both ruffled pieces sewn onto the front of your base piece, stitch the top and bottom edges of the ruffle down to the base fabric.
You could tack the edges of the larger ruffle down to the base fabric in a few spots to keep it from flopping around too much if that bothers you.  I didn't really think it needed it.  Finish sewing your pillow cover by sewing the front and back together with a zipper along the bottom edge.  Here's the awesome tutorial for how to do that again, in case you missed it the other day.  And here's the finished pillow again:

 It's bright and happy, which is completely fitting for this teen girl's room.  I may need to make a few more for my room . . . if a few more throw pillows wouldn't inspire a knife attack from my spouse.   Hmmm . . .

Have a great day!  I hope you'll come back tomorrow to FINALLY see how our Anthropologie knock-off Rivulets bedding turned out.  It's a stunner!!


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