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

Design School: Mixing Patterns (again)

News flash: This is a repeat post from last year that was a favorite with HSE readers!  You can never have too many design tips as you freshen up your home for the new year, right!?!

One of the best ways to pull together a high end looking interior that doesn’t give off that “room in a bag” kind of vibe is to mix patterns; but to many that can be super intimidating!

Pattern is one of those things that when blended together right looks amazing but it is possible to have too much of a good thing or to get overwhelmed in the process!  My general rule of thumb for interiors is if you love it then go for it!!  But for those that are a-scared to jump off the pattern ledge here is the first ever HSE addition of Design School.

A little disclaimer first, these are just “guidelines” to follow, these aren’t hard and fast rules.  Most important is that you give it a shot…some attempts might be more successful then others but in the end I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the effect a little pattern can have in your life!

– Work with the same color “intensity” {pastels with pastels or jewel tones with jewel tones}  Now this doesn’t mean that every single color has to be in the same tone {a pop is always encouraged!!} but if you are struggling to find a combo that works this can help you pull it all together.

– Combine different types of patterns.  Mix large scale floral patterns with linear stripes or plaids.  Ikats with textured fabrics.  Just don’t combine patterns that are too similar {ex. two different types of polkdots = big no-no}

– Find balance in your space.  Don’t put all of the patterns in one spot in the room, locate them around the room.  For instance in the picture below there is a large scale pattern on the window treatments, a texture on the fireplace  {the stone}, small linear patterned chairs with large scale pattern pillows and a patterned rug.  The patterns are balanced throughout the room using large scale patterns in combination with smaller scale and textured pattern.

{Image found here}

– Use a mix of scales of patterns as well as types.  In other words include large scale, medium scale and small scale patterns that are a combination of linear, organic and textured patterns

– Start with one pattern with lots of color and base scheme around that {a colorful stripe, floral or organic would be a good place to start}

– Don’t forget about those textures too!  Mixing up textures {velvety smooth with chunky knit or soft cotton} is another great way to add depth to your space.

Homework Assignment: Choose three or more patterns {odds are always better then evens}

  • Pattern #1 sets the tone for the other patterns.  For this pattern go big and bold.  Make sure there are more then 2 colors and look at patterns like ikat, floral or plaid.
  • Pattern #2 should  be about 1/2 the scale of the first pattern.  For this pattern try a geometric, animal print or stripe.  Try to use less colors then #1 {but at least 2}
  • Pattern #3 should be a small scale pattern or a texture that pulls from either #1 or #2.  Try a tone on tone pattern or a very strong textured fabric.  {remember pattern doesn’t have to only be bold and out there!}

Still nervous about the whole pattern mixing thing?  A great way to play with pattern without getting overwhelmed is by picking one color combo {in this case black and white} that way all you have to focus on is the scale and pattern type!

So get out there and get creative!  Start by looking around your house {or even in your closet} to see what kinds of patterns you might already have!  Push the limits of what you think “goes” together and try something a bit more unexpected!

Class Dismissed

~ 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

Winter Skin Refresh

Dry, cold Winter weather is harsh on skin.   This Winter, it seemed that I need to  slather on lotion every 30 minutes!  But, my skin still felt dry and almost like sandpaper at all times.  Attempting to get away from some of the chemicals and other irritants in store-bought cleansers, lotions and other beauty products, I tried out a few skin care remedies using a more natural approach.  After using these moisturizers for a few weeks, I’m ready to share the results.  

Most of these all-natural beauty remedies are under $10 and can be purchased from your local health food store or vitamin supplement store.  As always, try to use organic ingredients whenever possible.  

For the Face: RoseWater
Rosewater is a naturally occurring byproduct of distillation of essential oil of rose petals.  Packed full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and antioxidants, rosewater hydrates and rejuvenates the complexion.  Rosewater has many beneficial properties when applied to the skin, including:

  • maintains the pH balance of skin (controls both oily and dry skin and soothes many types of dermatitis)
  • prevents wrinkles and tightens pores
  • mild antiseptic properties (good for acne)
  • calms reddened or inflamed skin
  • helps to heal or prevent scars
  • stimulates circulation in the blood vessels beneath the skin (reduces the appearance of broken capillaries)

Regular use of rosewater has been shown to reduce and prevent dermatitis and eczema and soothe the skin when those irritations do occur.  Rosewater can also be used for aromatherapy.

For my face, I have been using Heritage Rosewater & Glycerin Spray as my moisturizer.  I absolutely LOVE it!  The added vegetable glycerin acts as a mild astringent, while the rosewater hydrates and tightens pores.   I have combination skin and was really suffering from dry skin in some areas.  After just a couple of days, I was noticing a major improvement in the appearance of my skin!  I have heard great things about Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Toner for a cleanser, as well.   I like that this toner was alcohol-free, to avoid further irritation to the skin.

For the Body: Coconut Oil & Vitamin E 
Jillian has already talked about some of the benefits of using coconut oil.  Vitamin E oil can also work wonders for your skin and is included in many skin care products.  Packed full of moisture and antioxidants, the benefits of Vitamin E oil include:

  • maintains the elasticity of skin (anti-aging)
  • promoting new skin cell growth and healing scars
  • moisturizes and soothes dry skin
  • prevents and repairs free radical damage (sun spots)

For the rest of my body, I made a batch of whipped coconut oil and vitamin E lotion.  It was as simple as tossing the two ingredients in the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer, turn it on and watch the oil churn into a whipped body butter.  

To make the whipped coconut oil and vitamin E lotion, you will need the following:  


Yep, just coconut oil and vitamin E oil!  Make sure your coconut oil is organic, unrefined and for medium heat.  The unrefined coconut oil will whip up nicely and stay in a lotion consistency much better than the refined coconut oil.   Because Vitamin E oil is heavy and can difficult for the skin to absorb, it should be used in small amounts.  I used one teaspoon of vitamin E oil per cup of coconut oil.  Add the ingredients to the bowl of the mixer, turn it on medium speed for approximately 5 minutes or until you reach the desired consistency.  Be sure to store the whipped lotion in an clean, airtight container.  I used a lidded canning jar, which can be purchased at any grocery store, Walmart, Target or even Michaels craft store.

Coconut Vitamin E Lotion

A word of caution – this lotion takes longer to absorb than your typical drug store lotions.  Much like a shea body butter, it is thick and takes some time to soak in.  So, don’t slather this on right before you need to get dressed.  I have been loving the whipped coconut and vitamin E lotion!  It works wonders for hydrating the skin and the faint scent of coconut is delightful.

For the Lips: Exfoliation & Natural/Organic Lip Balm
Your lips are just as susceptible to the Winter elements.  To refresh chapped lips, start by exfoliating to remove dead skin.  You can make a simple at-home exfoliant by mixing together equal amounts of brown sugar, honey and olive oil.  Gently rub the brown sugar scrub on your lips and rinse with warm water.  To rehydrate your lips and keep the skin looking fresh, choose a lip balm that contains natural ingredients such as shea butter,  beeswax and vitamin E.  With all its skin rejuvenation and hydration benefits, it is no wonder that most lip balms contain a dose of Vitamin E oil.   Also make sure that your lip balm does not contain alcohol, dyes or fragrances, as these will dry out the skin.  A couple of my favorite lip balms are Burt’s Bees and Desert Essence Lip Rescue.  Although I have not tried them yet, I have been hearing great things about these cute Eos lip balms, which are 100% natural and 95% organic.

lip balms

Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist and am not qualified to give advice on skin issues.  I am simply sharing what has worked well for me.  If you have any skin issues or a form of dermatitis, make sure you consult a dermatologist before changing your skin care regimen.  It is always wise to test a small, inconspicuous area of skin for a reaction, before slathering these skin care remedies all over your body.

– 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

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