Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homemade Book Clutch

I'm not even going to tell you guys how much I love books, you probably get it by now. So when I saw this Nerdy Chic Book Clutch DIY from Caught on a Whim, I knew it was only a matter of time before I was toting around my own and showing it off to everyone I know.

But I'm going to be completely honest. That matter of time ended up being a matter of months (yes, many, many months.) This clutch is definitely one of the coolest projects we've ever done. I mean, hollowing out a book to turn it into a purse?! That's awesome! But it was also one of the most complicated, detailed, and in depth projects we've done too.

It literally took us months to finally get this clutch finished, mostly because we had now idea how we were going to explain and document each and every little detail we did in order to make this. We wrote out an entire tutorial, but it turned into something straight out of a rocket science textbook.

We're going to let the photos do most of the talking, but we'll share some helpful notes where necessary!

Here's what you need!
- Book (we recommend a thrifted book!)
- Fabric
- Pencil
- Ruler
- Scissors
- ModPodge
- Paintbrush
- Xacto Knife or Box Cutter
- Cutting Board
- Wax Paper
- E6000 Super Glue
- Metal Clasp

- Trace your book on your desired fabric and add a 1" clearance around the edge. Cut out your fabric with scissors.

- Attach fabric to the outside of your book with ModPodge and a paintbrush. Attach the front first, then the spine, then the back.
- Open front and back covers of the book, fold down fabric edges, and attach to inside covers with ModPodge.
- Attach a rectangle piece of fabric on the inside front and back covers. This doesn't need to look super clean around the edges, as it will be covered with the book pages.

- Cut out the center of your book pages, about 3/4-1" from the outside edges. We cut about 10 pages at a time, inserting a cutting board in between the pages to cut them.

- Locate the center of your book and insert a piece of wax paper between the pages. Insert a second sheet between the front cover and the first page, as well as a third sheet between the back cover and the last page.
- Use a paintbrush and ModPodge to glue together the outside edges of the pages. Apply three coats, allowing dry time between each coat. Repeat this process with the inside cover of the pages. Note: You do NOT need to glue together each individual page. Gluing together the outside and inside edges will keep the pages together.

- After your ModPodge has fully dried and your pages are glued together, open your book and locate the center of the pages. Use an Xacto knife to cut a small circle the same diameter as your clasp.
- Continue to cut through your layers of pages until your clasp sits flush in the hole. Your clasp should come in two pieces - attach one with E6000 super glue.
- Repeat with second piece on the opposite side of the book.

- Cut a trapezoid piece of fabric that is two layers thick and folded together on the long side. Use an iron to press this crease. Then hold the piece in half and press again with an iron.
- Either use a sewing machine or hand sew across the small side, with 1/4" seam allowance (right sides together.)
- Repeat with a second, identical trapezoid piece. Super glue the diagonal sides to the top/bottom edges of the pages.
- Finally, glue the pages to the front cover. Top with a heavy book and allow glue to dry and set for 24 hours.

This project had many ups and downs, but in the end we feel like we accomplished something pretty awesome!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, November 21, 2014

Turkey Cheeseball

You won't catch Nick and I chowing down on any turkey this Thanksgiving, but a turkey cheeseball? Oh, we're down with that.

Last year I spotted this adorable turkey cheeseball on my Pinterest feed and made it for our holiday get-together at Nick's parent's house. Everyone loved it - it is just so delicious. It's the same cheeseball that I teased you all with in our Halloween Party post, so today I'm finally here to share the recipe with you!

Here's what you need!
- 16 oz. cream cheese (we used dairy-free)
- 2 tbsp. minced onion
- 1/2 tbsp. minced green bell pepper
- 8 oz. crushed pineapple, well drained
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 cup chopped pecans
For decoration/eating:
- Pretzels
- Crackers
- A turkey face (make it however you want!)

The original recipe for this cheeseball used candy corn, fruit roll up, Whopper candy, etc. to make their turkey face, which is ADORABLE. I love the idea of the cheeseball and decorations both being edible, however Nick and I don't have those things in our kitchen (and they're not all vegan), so we just drew a cute turkey face instead!

Here's what you do!
- Remove cream cheese from the refrigerator 30 minutes or so to allow it to soften slightly.
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the pecans and stir until well combined. (Use a mixer if you'd rather not stir by hand.)

- If your cheeseball mixture seems too soft to form, you can toss it back in the fridge while you chop your pecans.
- Chop pecans using a slap-chop, knife, etc. Transfer chopped pecans to a large bowl.
- Remove your cheeseball mixture from the refrigerator and use damp hands to form it into a ball.
- Carefully move cheeseball to the bowl of chopped pecans and rotate cheeseball until entire surface is covered.

- Transfer cheeseball to a large plate or serving dish and arrange crackers, pretzels, etc. around the back of the cheeseball to make the turkey's feathers.
- Attach your turkey neck and face to the front of the cheeseball. We used a small tab of cream cheese to attach our paper turkey face to the pretzel sticks.
- You're done! Time to gobble it up!

This is the first (and only) cheeseball recipe I've ever made, and we love it so much. I love even more that it was so easy to veganize! This is an awesome snack to have on Thanksgiving day when you're anxiously awaiting that real turkey to come out of the oven. If you end up making this for your holiday shindig, be sure to let us know!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pumpkin Sage Pasta & Biscuits

Even though I've been indulging in a little bit of pumpkin everything for over a month, I'm not ready to say goodbye to it just yet. But for now I'm putting aside the pumpkin desserts and drinks and incorporating pumpkin into delicious dinners instead.

A few weeks ago Nick and I made this Pumpkin Sage Pasta and it was so good and simple to make that I've been eager to try it again. But plot twist! I've since discovered these Pumpkin Sage Biscuits from my go-to vegan recipe gurus, Minimalist Baker, and they looked heavenly. Combining these into one scrumptious pumpkin and sage filled meal sounded like such a good idea, so that's exactly what I did last weekend while visiting my mom for a girl's weekend.

Wanting some pumpkin and sage in your life too? Here's what you need! (P.S. Both recipes are vegan!)

Pumpkin Sage Pasta (Recipe adapted from Vegan Richa)
For Pasta:
- 8 oz. rotini pasta
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. dried sage
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- Salt & pepper to taste
For Topping:
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- 3 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
- Salt & pepper to taste

Here's what you do!
- Cook pasta per instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium low heat, add oil, sage, thyme, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently until fragrant and color changes slightly.
- Add in tomato paste, pumpkin puree, milk, and salt & pepper. Stir until well combined and bring to a boil.
- Combine with pasta and toss to cover well. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a small skillet over medium heat, add oil, sage, bread crumbs, and salt & pepper. Cook just until bread crumbs are toasted and golden.
- Serve pasta topped generously with bread crumbs.

Pumpkin Sage Biscuits (Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt
- A pinch each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
- 4 tbsp. vegan butter (we use Earth Balance)
- 1 tsp. dried sage

Here's what you do!
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
- Measure milk in a large measuring cup and add in lemon juice. Allow to curdle 5 minutes and then stir in pumpkin puree.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Add in cold butter and combine using a pastry cutter or fork until combined. Add in sage and mix once more.

- Slowly add pumpkin-milk mixture 1/4 cup at a time and stir with a wooden spoon. Your dough should be a little sticky and you may not need to use the whole mixture (we did, however.)
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle a little flour on top. Turn the dough over on itself a couple of times while barely kneading.
- Form dough into a 1" thick disc and using a dough cutter or drinking glass, push straight down into the dough and twist to remove biscuit. Transfer biscuit to your baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. The biscuits should touch just slightly - this will help them rise uniformly. Dough may need to be reformed once or twice in order to make your last couple biscuits. You should have 7-9 biscuits total (we had 8.)

- Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter and press your thumb into the top of each one to create a small divot - this also helps them rise evenly.
- Bake 13-17 minutes until fluffy and golden brown.

Is your mouth watering yet? Me too. Both of these recipes are so good and pair so well together. I love this pumpkin and sage combo! The biscuits are more pumpkin-y than you'd expect and they're so, so yummy right out of the oven with a little butter on top. The pasta sauce is super easy to whip up, so set aside the marinara for a night and give this a try - you won't regret it!

I'm thinking of making these biscuits for our Thanksgiving dinner, they are just that good. Have you tried any new and delicious dinner recipes lately? Let us know in the comments!

Sarah & Nick

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Embroidered Heart Locket

You've seen me wear my heart on my sleeve, but today I'm wearing it around my neck. A few months ago, I fell in love with this embroidered heart locket that I spotted on Katie Shelton's blog as one of her Etsy Loves. The embroidery is simple yet so beautiful, and I was just dying to make it mine. Unfortunately, the Etsy listing for the locket has since sold out, so since I couldn't buy, I decided to DIY!

I love lockets because they combine two things that are important to me when it comes to jewelry: simplicity and personality. I wear very little jewelry on a daily basis, but what I do wear is simple and is a symbol of what I love in life (like my Nick ring.) Lockets are the best of both worlds because they look simple from the outside, but inside they're hugely personal, as they often hold a photo of someone special to you.

With the holiday season fast approaching, a locket would make an excellent gift for a friend or family member. Not to mention, this gift is super inexpensive (depending on your locket) and you can complete it in less than an hour! Want to give it a try?

Here's what you need!
- Locket
- Scrap paper
- Pencil
- Fabric
- Embroidery hoop
- Embroidery floss
- Needle
- Photo
- Scissors
- Mod Podge
- Paint brush

My locket was thrifted and I LOVE the vintage look and the patina of the metal. If you don't have an old (or new) locket and can't find one in a local thrift store, remember you can thrift shop online! has a lot of lockets and they add new items all the time! I love the idea of using an old locket rather than buying a new one, but any locket will do!

Here's what you do!
- First, clean your locket. Once there is a photo and embroidery inside, it won't be as easy to do, so clean it while you have the chance!
- If printing a photo, measure the inside if your locket where the photo will be in order to determine the appropriate size. Use your photo editing software or Microsoft Word to crop and resize the photo. Print on paper of your choice.
- Use scrap paper and pencil to trace the inside of your locket where the embroidery will go. Cut out to use as your template. If both sides of your locket are the same size, you can use this template for both the embroidery and the photo.

- Lightly trace around your template onto your fabric and draw a heart in the center. Place your fabric in your embroidery hoop. Following your heart outline, use the needle and embroidery floss to embroider the heart on your fabric. I started on the left side and embroidered from top to bottom, moving from left to right. Once finished, tightly knot your floss in the back and remove fabric from embroidery hoop.

- Cut out your embroidered heart along the light pencil line you traced from your template. Using a paintbrush, apply Mod Podge to the inside of the locket and attach your embroidered heart. Press firmly and apply a small amount of Mod Podge around the edges to secure.

- Next, lightly trace around your template onto your photo. Cut out the photo with scissors and attach to the opposite side of your locket with Mod Podge. Seal the top of the photo with another coat of Mod Podge to help protect it.
- After the Mod Podge has dried, your locket is ready to wear!

I. Love. This. Locket. It was so easy to make, but packs a huge personal punch. If you're looking for a handmade gift idea for the holidays, definitely keep this one in mind. Concerned about the embroidery? Don't be. Until this project I've never embroidered anything in my life. Easy peasy!

(And hint hint, nudge nudge - if you're interested in an embroidered heart locket but would prefer to buy rather than make your own, keep your eyes open for our Etsy shop coming in 2015!)

Fun Fact: My first ever locket came with my VHS tape of The Secret Garden. Anyone else?

Have a happy Tuesday!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Open When... Envelopes

2014 is flying by. Can you guys believe it's November?! That means Christmas is already next month, so it's about that time to start thinking of gift ideas for friends and family (if you haven't already, that is... I know Sarah has.) Over the next month, we're going to share projects that would make great gifts for your loved ones. We hope that some of these ideas will inspire you to skip the Black Friday sales and spend time at home, sipping some hot chocolate and crafting up some thoughtful presents that will show your friends just how much you love 'em!

First up is a gift that I actually made 6 months ago as a Mother's Day present to my Mom! We held off sharing it on here because we didn't want to ruin any of the surprises for her, but even though I made it for a different holiday, we think that it would make a great gift for anyone on any occasion.

I always have the hardest time coming up with something special for my Mom on Mother's Day. I always want to be unique and original, and I'd say for the last 24 years, I've failed at that about 23 times (Sarah's sure my Mom would disagree). So this year, Sarah found this idea through Pinterest and suggested it to me for a Mothers' Day present. Since this is a personalized gift, we won't share the contents for all envelopes, but hopefully this post will give you a good jumping off point if you'd like to try this for someone special this upcoming holiday season.

Basically, the idea here is that you create a number of envelopes to be opened at different times throughout someone's year. You could base them off of a timeline (open June 1st, open July 1st, etc.) Or you can base them off of an emotion that person may be feeling. Make as many or as little envelopes as you'd like! For my gift, I did 10 envelopes to match up with 10 different emotions/feelings/scenarios for my Mom to open depending on her mood. I loved that this was a gift that lasted her several months instead of a once-and-done deal.

Here's what I did!
1. Open when... you feel happy
2. Open when... something didn't work out
3. Open when... you had a rough day at work
4. Open when... you miss the kids
5. Open when... you feel bored
6. Open when... your family is driving you crazy
7. Open when... you need a good laugh
8. Open when... you need to feel loved
9. Open when... you need a date night
10. Open when... you need inspiration

I  handmade all the envelopes out of nice, heavy scrapbooking paper, and stuffed them with personalized little gifts. Here are a few examples:

Open when... you had a rough day at work
Some office humor e-cards and bottle of Crown Royal should do the trick!

Open when... you miss the kids
My brother, sister, and myself are grown and have moved away, so it's nice to remind my folks that we're just a phone call away when they want to talk.

Open when... you need a good laugh
Celebrities without teeth? Hilarious. The Terminal? Hilarious.

Open when... you feel bored
A couple games and some fun facts should help with that!

Open when... you feel happy
My Mom's favorite sweet treat, plus a CD that makes me very happy - hope it makes her happy too!

Get the idea? All bundled up, this was a fun gift to make, and it packed more meaning than anything I've given my Mom in a long time. It's the gift that keeps on giving! She opened the envelopes every few weeks for about 5 months. It was great to hear from her every time a new one was opened up and find out what she thought about it!

This project was extremely personalized, and best of all, almost completely handmade. I'm sure my Mom really liked it, but it would be great for any family, friends, or other special someones in your life.

Sarah & Nick