Weekend Inspirations

Ahhhh the weekend (almost).  A time to relax, spend time with those you love and maybe even get your craft on?!?  For me the weekends are a time when life can slow down just a little bit (sometimes) and allows me to tap into some of my creativity!  So if you are looking for a little weekend inspiration to satisfy all of your artistic DIY urges?  Here are a few beauties that have inspired me lately!

love pring(source)

watercolor tree(source)

cloth deer(source)

metal calender(source)

bird watercolor(source)

peace wreath(source)

ruler table

dog head print(source)

paper garland(source)

Check out my “With My own Two hands” pinterest board for more fabulous inspirations!

Happy Crafting!!
~ Jillian

Clean it up: Natural Granite Cleaner (again)

To kick off 2015, HSE is featuring some of its favorite posts from last year!  This baby is a still a staple in our house and is used on a DAILY basis!  Does anyone else feel like cleaning?!?

In an effort to keep our new house squeaky clean and healthy,  I’m on a “make my own natural cleaners” kick {its a real thing…i promise}  First item on the list…finding a way to keep our kitchen and master bathroom granite counters clean without damaging the sealant on the granite!  We plan to be here for a while and the last thing I want to do is prematurely strip that protective coat off!  So off Pinteresting I go…and stumble on this easy to follow recipe from the lovely Melissa at No. 2 Pencil.  This could NOT be any easier and chances are you already have everything you need.


Things you need:

  • Empty {and clean} spray bottle.
  • 1/4 tsp liquid dish soap
  • 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol
  • 2 1/2 cups water

How to:

  •  combine all ingredients in the bottle {I used a funnel to help contain the possible mess}
  • shake it up, add a little label to your bottle  and you are ready to go!

* You can add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil for a little added yummy scent or just enjoy the natural good smell that comes from the dish soap.

Not only does this sanitize and clean up those counters, it leaves them with a lovely smooth and shiny finish.  Take care of that granite…its a keeper!  I’ve also used this on pretty much all my other “surfaces” around the house with great success!

Have you jumped into any natural cleaners?  What are your favorites?

Clean it up
~ Jillian

DIY: Closet Tags

Prepare yourself people…the nesting has officially set in and I’m in “time to get this house organized and lovely” mode!  Now this has a bit of a baby theme to it today but could easily be adapted for any closet in your house!  Think winter vs summer or different sizes in the master closet, dryclean vs hand wash in the laundry room.  So many options!  The best thing about this project is that I had all the supplies on hand so it came with a giant ZERO price tag and was quick and easy to accomplish. (those are the most satisfying of all jobs…wouldn’t you say!)

closet tagsSupplies:

  • Card Stock (approx. 4 x 6 / use precut sheets or cut your own if you have full sheets)
  • Decorative labels (or print something pretty right from your computer)
  • Decorative Punches, Decorative Scissors, Washi tape or even your favorite ribbon
  • Double sided tape or glue
  • Marker

**Now the above list is really just a suggestion.  Use what you have in the house!  If you don’t have any of the decorative labels or punches, simply use regular scissors and markers to dress these up!

IMG_0059Step One:

  • Using a circle punch (or just a plain old pair of scissors) cut a circle approximately 1/2″ from the top of the sheet of card stock.
  • Cut a slit from the outside edge to the circle (this allows you to hang it over the closet rod).

IMG_0060Step Two:

  • Using a decorative punch; add a little detail to the bottom edge of the tag.
  • If you don’t have a punch, you can cut freehand, add a decorative piece of washi tape, glue on some cute ribbon or simply draw on a few stripes or polka dots with a marker.

IMG_0061Step Three:

  • Create the labels for each tag.  For the nursery closet I did Newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, etc.
  • If you don’t have labels or don’t trust your freehand skills, simply print out cute text on your computer and cut them out to adhere to the tags.

** I did 2 labels of each kind to make the tags double-sided

IMG_0062Step Four:

  • Using double stick tape (or even a glue stick), apply to the back of the label and adhere to the precut cardstock tag.
  • If creating double-sided tags, simply flip over the tag and apply the second label in approximately the same location on the back.

IMG_0063Step Five:

  • Your DONE!  Now hang them in your closet, organize your little heart out and enjoy what you have created!!



IMG_0068Any other fabulous nursery closet organization tips you might have for me?  I’m in full unpacking and setting up mode so I can use those tips from you experienced moms out there!!

Cheers & Happy Organizing
~ Jillian

Thrifty Finds: Random Number box

You all know we LOVE a good thrift store find here at HSE.  There is something so exciting about the “hunt” and then the “what if” when you find an item that needs a good home and a little love.  Sometimes you find things that you have the perfect place for, sometimes you find things that just need a little cleaning and are good to go.  Other times you find things that you are unsure of their function…but they are just too cool to pass up.


Enter random number box…I was purusing  the aisles of my local Goodwill when I stumbled on a very cool looking, beat up wooden box with these random number dials.  I had NO clue what its original function was…but I just knew i needed to have it!!  What i loved about it is that it happened to have 4 number dials…just the right amount to display a special date perhaps?!?
number box combo

This was a SUPER simple update that gave this cool found object a new life!!  CLEAN IT / SAND IT / PAINT IT.  Seriously does not get easier than that!!  Once he was showing off his pretty new color, I turned the number dials to our wedding date (10.04.2008) as a little nod to a very special day!!  Right now he has the perfect home adding a little pop of color to my white framed collage wall (i promise i’ll get around to some pictures of that wall someday soon…promise!) and I must admit I smile a little extra when i catch a glimpse!!

081What kind of thrift store finds have you scored lately??  Any fun and easy DIY projects?? SHARE your projects here on HSE, we might just highlight them on the next episode of Thrifty Finds!!  Oh an P.s. Anyone know what this random find was originally used for?

Happy Crafting
~ Jillian

Making the Basics: Vanilla Extract

Okay, I know it is easy enough to find vanilla extract.  By making your own real vanilla extract you will not only save money, but also have the comfort of knowing exactly what ingredients went into your extract.  Many extract manufacturers add sweeteners and coloring agents to extracts.  These are completely unnecessary ingredients!



After a little research, I split the cost of a large order of vanilla beans with a friend.  We bought one pound of the extract grade Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans from here.  Vanilla beans can also be really costly at the grocery store and usually only sold with a couple of beans in a jar.  Have I mentioned that we use vanilla almost daily, adding a bit to my coffee, baked oatmeal, smoothies and desserts?  Its crazy.  Sharing the expense of the vanilla beans helped make this DIY a real money saver.

After perusing several vanilla extract tutorials, I used the following combined method:

Needed supplies

  • a one pint mason jar
  • 70-90 proof inexpensive name brand vodka (I used Smirnoff)
  • approximately 1.6 oz. vanilla beans, sliced length-wise and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve

{ Don’t let the alcohol scare you.  Check any bottle of vanilla extract and you will see alcohol as the main ingredient. The alcohol cooks off when you bake with vanilla extract, and only a few drops are used for flavoring coffee or smoothies.}

1. Sanitize the mason jar in boiling water and let the jar cool completely.

2. Slice the vanilla beans length-wise.  Do not scrape out the vanilla caviar!  Once split down the middle, chop the beans into 1/2″ pieces.  {In a couple of the tutorials, I read that, by law, commercial producers of vanilla extract are required to use at least 1.6 ounces of vanilla beans per pint of extract.  Additionally, the vanilla bean supplier site indicated that 10 beans equaled approximately 1.8 ounces.  So, I went with 10 beans.  It can’t hurt to have a little extra, right?}

3. Add the vanilla beans to the mason jar and fill the remainder of the jar with the vodka.

4.  Store jar in a dark and cool location.  Remove the jar from storage a couple of times per week to shake up the contents.


Six weeks later….you have made your own vanilla extract!  To remove the beans and vanilla caviar from the extract, simply pour the contents of the jar over a cheesecloth.  I didn’t have any cheesecloth, so I used a fine mesh sieve.  The result left behind some of the caviar, but it doesn’t hurt the flavor or shelf-life.

Store the extract in an air-tight container.  I found a cute pour spout bottle at HomeGoods, which came with a stopper.

Do you think  you will try to make your own extract?  I would like to try almond or hazelnut for the next batch!

– Brittany

Think Outside the Curtain Section

I’ve had the hardest time finding pre-made curtains for my home.  By now, it should be fairly obvious that I love a good bargain.   I’m more than willing to pay for quality, but I think it is absurd to drop hundreds of dollars on curtains.   I have been looking at several ideas for DIY curtains over the last year, including stenciled drop cloth curtains, buying fabric online and sewing curtains (which I’ve done before) and even using sheets for curtains.  While browsing Target recently, I wandered through the bedding section, looking for some fun patterned sheets for potential curtains.  I happened to spot this duvet cover on clearance for $25.


Jackpot!  I loved the pattern and colors and the price was too good to pass up.  A perk to using a duvet is that the curtains will be lined with no additional sewing.  Luckily, the pattern of this duvet was only on one side and a light cream/beige on the other side.  I snagged the duvet and brought it home to turn into curtains.

Using a duvet eliminated the stressful parts of making my own curtain panels – multiple fabric measurements and cuts, seam allowances, pinning, cursing frustration, etc. A duvet is like a giant pillowcase, with buttons along one side.  Most of the sewing has already been done for you!  Turning the duvet into a pair of curtains took just a few simple steps and required very little sewing.  

Step 1: Iron all of the wrinkles out of your duvet cover.  I laid the cover on the floor and ran the iron directly over it.

Step 2: Measure the width of the duvet and find the center point.  Do NOT trust the measurements on the duvet packaging!  These things are mass-produced and the measurements are typically off by at least an inch and as much as 3-4 inches.  Once you find the center point of the duvet, draw a straight line with a washable fabric pencil or lightly mark with a ball point pen.


{Ignore the fact that my fabric is NOT ironed in this picture.  I was a little too excited and forgot to take one after I finished ironing.}

Step 3: Using scissors or a rotary cutter {over a mat}, cut the duvet cover in half along the line.  At this point, you will have two pieces of fabric that are sewn on all but the one side that you just cut.

Step 4: Turn the two halves inside out and smooth, aligning the two edges of the opening.  Sew along the cut edge of each half.


NOTE: One of the halves will have the duvet button-closure opening.  For this half, simply sew a straight line along the entire length of the cut edge.  Once sewn, open the buttons to turn the fabric right side out.  For the other half of the duvet, you will sew about 3/4 of the length of the cut edge and stop.  By leaving an opening, you will be able to turn the fabric right side out.  Once turned right side out, close the hole by hand sewing a slip stitch.  Or, you could skip the sewing altogether and use heat bonding tape (Stitch Witchery or Heat N Bond) to close the openings on both panels.  I used the heat bonding tape, since this method is faster and my iron was already out.

Step 5:  Smooth fabric and iron again, if necessary.

Voila!  A pair of curtain panels in less than 30 minutes!


Simple, right?!  Do you think you will try this easy curtain tutorial?  Have you made curtains for your home?

– Brittany

Turn Your Photos Into Art

Have you heard of Foto Flexer?  Hopefully, I am not the last person to find out about this great (FREE) online photo editing tool.  Foto Flexer allows users to edit photos in a number of ways, including basic cropping and red-eye reduction, or more advanced features including animations, layering and color adjustments.  I discovered and spent entirely too much time playing with the Color Sketch feature.  It is a simplified (and free) version of a similar feature in Photoshop.  Color Sketch, found under the Effects tab, allows users to turn photographs into ink and colored pencil “drawings.”  I didn’t care too much for the Color Sketch images of people, but ended up with great results with flowers, landscapes and architecture.

I have often wished I had a printed image of my gorgeous wedding bouquet, but felt silly framing a photo of flowers.  I think the Color Sketch version is more likely to be displayed.  Photo by Alea Moore Photography.

Wedding Bouquet

Another favorite floral photograph, taken on one of our vacations.  I love how this one turned out!


After success with flowers, I tried a canopy photograph from one of our Fall hikes.  While I will probably not frame this one, I think the end result is pretty cool.

Fall Canopy

I then ventured into architectural subjects, selecting this photo of a chapel doorway from another recent vacation.  I loved how the diagonal lines in the door and the bricks in the arch were emphasized in the Color Sketch version of the photo.White Door

Next, I searched Pinterest and found a photo of a cute craftsman bungalow.  How much fun would it be to frame a sketch of your first home?!  This could also make a great gift!   Photo source.

After playing around with Foto Flexer, I searched and found other web applications that offer a similar colored pencil effect for photos.  Have you used any of these free photo editing services?  Any recommendations?

– Brittany

Holiday House Warming: Card Display

It is so hard to believe that the Holiday Season is already here!!  Where did the time go??  Not only is it sneaking up on me way too fast but i’m in this new fabulous house…with NO idea how to decorate.  (I know…such terrible problems to have)  Its amazing how the amount of decorations we had for the townhouse we lived in before this, just doesn’t go very far here!!!  But how much fun is it to explore new areas to decorate!!!  So in my explorations…I needed a way to display all of the beautiful Christmas cards my friends and loved ones send us (for the record…ya’ll are so good…I am NOT good at sending out Christmas cards…so to all my peeps…I love you and Merry Christmas!!)  To the Pinterest I go for some card display inspiration, there are so many fabulous ideas out there!!

Tie them to a branch or twig (You know this Twiggy Girl has done that before!)

twig holder(source)

Holiday Tree(source)

In a glass dome (or under another type of fabulous see thru decorative item)

in a dome(source)

under glass table(source)

Tucked into your Christmas Tree (or even a little table top version)

in a tiny tree(source)

All of these are adorable and very easy to do Holiday card holders!!  I also found a ton of different versions of wall hanging card holders…which definitely fit the bill this year (we are short on furniture but HEAVY on available wall space!)  Enter SUPER easy hanging Holiday Card Holder:

title page



  • Ribbon (any ribbon will do, but a more “sturdy” thick ribbon will hold up better)
  • Baby clothes pins, paper clips or even a stapler
  • 3m removable adhesive hook
  • Fancy bead or other object that can be used to “weigh” down the ribbon at the bottom


  • Determine location for card holder, and stick 3m removable hook to the surface (at the top of your desired location)
  • Tie ribbon around the hook and cut at desired length
  • Add decorative bow or other fancy HOliday decoration to cover the hook
  • Tie bead to the bottom of the ribbon to keep the ribbon straight
  • Clip on (or staple) your holiday cards!!


Could it GET any easier?!?!  I love this…we picked a spot that is visible from the living room & kitchen so every time i pass by it makes me smile!!  What kind of Holiday crafting have you gotten into?

Merry Merry!
~ Jillian

Posted in DIY

Thrifty Finds: Barrel-Back Chair

Hello and Happy Tuesday!  I hope everyone has recovered from Thanksgiving and the whirlwind extended weekend of holiday shopping, both in-store and online.  We hosted our fourth Thanksgiving and it was a smashing success, albeit exhausting.  We did manage to squeeze in a quick hike {and work off some of that turkey and stuffing} at Sawnee Mountain, on Sunday.  The long break was exactly what I needed to recharge and get cracking on some projects!    I’m here today to share a quick fix to a thrifty find, which resulted in a practically brand new chair for our home….

Lenox chair before

A friend found this barrel-back chair wrapped in plastic, while cleaning out a foreclosure.  The chair was in great condition, just not his style and missing the seat cushion.  When he mentioned that he would put it on Craigslist for $50, I jumped at the opportunity and bought it from him.  This style of barrel-back chair typically retails for $400 and up.

Given that I have no experience with complex sewing projects (piping, curved shape and thick dimensions), I decided to hire out the task of making a custom cushion for my chair.  I needed to provide measurements and a template of the chair shape to the upholsterer, rather than haul the piece of furniture to the shop.  To make the template, I taped a few paper grocery bags together and shoved the paper into the curved recess of the chair.  Next, I traced a rough outline of the shape of the chair with a pencil.  After trimming off the excess and fine-tuning the template, I wrote the widest dimensions on my template.

Chair Template

With the measurements, template and photos of the piece, the upholsterer was able to quote the price and tell me how much fabric was required for the job.  I bought the fabric from JoAnn during a 60% off fabric sale.  Because the fabric would be used for a seat cushion, I ended up using a more durable, tonal fabric with a similar sheen as the satin back of the chair.

Lenox Chair After

This is great example of how spending a little extra effort and money can produce a like-new piece for a lot less money.  In total, I spent $200 on the chair – $50 for the chair itself, $110 for upholstery and $40 for the fabric.  A savings of $200!  I LOVE the curvy shape of the chair and the custom look of the cushion/back fabric combination.

Have you found any great thrifty furniture pieces on Craigslist?  Or, inherited any pieces from friends/family that you customized for your own home?

– Brittany

Pin-spiration – Scarf Refashion

Scarf Before and After

This beautiful scarf was a gift from a great friend.  I LOVE the pattern and the colors, but have not worn it much because it was a little shorter than I prefer.  The issue is that the scarf was perfectly square and too short to loop around my neck.  It was more of a drape over the shoulders length.  I prefer longer scarves that can be tied in 40 different ways or infinity scarves.  It was decided that I needed to refashion the scarf, in order to get more use out of it.


Taking inspiration from this pin‘s suggested dimensions, I cut the scarf in half.  After cutting, each half was 26″ wide by 52″ long.  I measured a few of my favorite scarves and determined that I needed to sew the two halves together, in order to reach my desired length.  Note: This meant that I would have two seams in the length of the scarf.  Once the scarf is looped around my neck a couple of times, the seams will be hidden.  I just wanted to point it out, in case you try this refashion on your own piece.

Next, I sewed the two pieces together along one of the 26″ ends, lining up the pattern as closely as possible.  Now that I had enough fabric, I could start making the infinity scarf.

Infinity Scarf Tutorial

Following the graphic illustration on my pinned tutorial, I folded the fabric in half length-wise with right sides facing inward and making sure that my 26″ seam excess is facing out.  (My measurements were different than those in the tutorial!)

After pinning the two sides together, I sewed along the longest sides of the fabric.  Do not sew the two shorter ends!  In order to make an infinity scarf, the fabric must be sewn into a tube shape, turned right side out and then hand-stitched closed.  See steps 3 & 4.   I decided to tuck in the ends of the scarf and slip stitch the hole closed, rather than the suggested finish in step 4.    Both methods work well, but I wanted a more finished look.

I am so pleased with the finished product!  I know I’ll be wearing this scarf all the time, now that the length has been fixed.  The whole refashion process took maybe 30 minutes – so simple!

Scarf After

I hope this inspires you to make your own infinity scarf.  It couldn’t be easier!  (Well, as long as you have a sewing machine and can sew a straight line.)  This was my first attempt at making a scarf and found it incredibly easy.  In fact, I’m already planning to make a trip to the fabric store this weekend!

Have you refashioned any clothing items recently?  Any other sewing projects?

– Brittany