Queen of the Cardigans

Somethings are meant to be…

Aaron is obviously a huge part of my life. He helps me with all my projects and even inspires me to create many of them. This past weekend we celebrated a huge milestone and we’re starting a new chapter of our lives.

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We’re engaged!

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Saturday was one of the best days of my life. We went to our favorite restaurant and then went up to a Pittsburgh favorite spot, the West End Overlook. We’ve shared many memories there and it was the perfect spot for him to propose. At sunset too! He’s so romantic. 

Wedding plans are already underway and as a die-hard crafter you know there will be some projects involved. 

In addition to that happy news, I also have an announcement related to the blog. Tumblr has been a great platform to get out all my thoughts and share all my pictures of my craft endeavors. But as I continue to grow as both a crafter and a blogger, Tumblr has become a much harder platform to use. On October 1st I will be launching the new queenofthecardigans.com where I will continue to blog and share my love of creating. I’ve chosen blogger as my new platform mostly for ease of use. Tumblr has been a great home for me for the past two years but I’m excited for this new chapter in my blog.

I’m currently working on moving all my old posts over to my new site. It’s been amazing to read my old posts and reflect on how much my writing has grown and how much more refined my projects and skills have become. 

I’m so excited for the coming months!

Bathroom Makeover

There are fewer feelings better than having a clean bathroom huh? I was surprised by how stress-free this renovation was as I know bathrooms can be a messy job, but that’s probably because all we really did was paint and install new fixtures. A renovation is much more fun when you’re not the ones doing the work! 

This is what it looked like before. Blue plastic tile and a wooden toilet seat. Cozy, huh?

First thing we did was remove the toilet and sink. Knocking out the ugly, blue, plastic tile out was so satisfying.

Instead of taking too much time to repair/replace the walls where the tile was, we just covered it with a much prettier beadboard.

We decided to go with a bath re-covering company for the shower as opposed to retiling because of cost, time, and maintenance. They had it done in a day and good news, there was no mold damage behind the tile!

The floor was super easy as it was another stick down product similar to the one we put in the kitchen. Curtains were made by myself.

The shower curtain was yet another Homegoods find.

The mirror, sink, lights, shelves, and towel rod were found at Lowes. 

Jello Mousse Recipe

Hey all! I have an easy dessert recipe for you all to make that’s great for those summer parties. 

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This kind of mousse, not this moose.

This is a pretty common recipe and it’s even on the side of the jello box, however I have a fun little twist on it to make it even more fun. What’s the difference? Every other version of this recipe I have seen has only used one tub of Cool Whip, which results in a cool mixture of jello on the bottom, mousse on the top. My version uses two tubs, therefore making the whole dessert a mousse. It’s a preference and I encourage you to try both, though I obviously love the latter. This is one of mine and my mother’s favorites that I included in Aaron’s anniversary present. 

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 6ish hours for the jello to set

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

1 box of jello. Any flavor will do, but I love Strawberry.

2 tubs of Cool Whip. I recommend brand name Cool Whip. It mixes in the best and it tastes the best.

Fun glassware to make yourself feel extra fancy. Clear plastic cups also work nicely if you’re concerned about your barware getting broken.

Optional:

Fresh fruit

Additional whip topping

Chocolate

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Instructions

Boil a cup and a half of water. Once it’s boiled stir in the contents of the Jello box until dissolved. It takes about 2 minutes to stir it all in, but it feels like forever and your arm might fall off.

Whisk in bits of the Cool Whip until both tubs are completely mixed with the jello. Again, your arm might fall off. 

Pour the mixture into 6 glasses for easy serving. Aaron inherited these lovely glasses from his grandmother, which have been great to take these to dinner parties. However, it also looks really nice in clear, plastic cups for more outdoor/kid centered events.

Let set for 6ish hours. Garnish with whip topping, fresh fruit and shaved chocolate. Did you know you can use a potato peeler to easily shave chocolate?! The revelations of a twenty-something who lived on easy mac for years. 

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Tada! Super easy and super yummy. 

-Shannon-

Weekly Inspiration: August 9

This week’s inspiration: Spoonflower!

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Spoonflower is an online retailer where you can upload, purchase, and sell your own fabric, wallpaper, and wrapping paper designs. It’s such a cool concept because I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a fashion design in my head and couldn’t find the appropriate fabric anywhere in existence. Spoonflower is super cool too because you can find and buy really unique designs made by other people. 

I’ve been toying around with some designs of my own that I’m hoping to perfect and order soon (and maybe make available to the general public) but until then here are some beautiful fabrics from the Spoonflower community that I find inspirational. 

VeryCherry Herbs

Verycherry Herbs by verycherry

Dog cameosDog Cameos by ravynka

CAMPING IN AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK IN KENYA

Camping in Amboseli National Park Kenya by bzbdesigner

Blush Lace

Blush Lace by mrshervi

Mint Gold Chevron

Mint Gold Chevron by mrshervi

What inspired you this week? 

-Shannon-

Mom’s Halloween Costume

I was on the phone with a friend and Halloween came up in the discussion. We were talking about past costumes, potential future costumes (I know it’s a little early for that,) etc. I then brought up the costume I made for my mom this past Halloween and said “Oh you can look at it on my blog.” 

Guess what? It wasn’t on here! I photographed it and never posted about it! Oi!

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So the pattern was Simplicity 2172 and she liked exactly how the red one looked, so she bought fabric to match.

It was quite a project. It took me four separate sessions to finish it, one for pleating the whole bottom of the skirt, one for sewing the skirt, one for sewing the bustier and one for sewing the coat. She loved it!

Weekly Inspirations- August 2

Can you believe it is August already? Where did the summer go?

This week’s inspiration: 

Crate and Barrel Kitchen Island

I saw this while dragging the boy through Crate and Barrel and fell in love with color and the amount of storage it provides.

It would never fit in my kitchen, nor would it go well with the blue wall color. However, I put it in my mental “for future dream home” file. 

What inspired you this week?

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today marks the two year anniversary of this blog! On a humid day at the end of July in 2012, I was frustrated that I had so little time to work on craft projects and wished I could make stuff half as cool as all those Pinterest pins. I made a challenge to myself to complete 75 DIY projects in 5 months, beginning August 1 and ending December 31. I also decided to blog about it so that I could easily share it with my family and friends. Since then, this blog has grown into such a wonderful place for me to share my creative life and such a great motivator to continue to pursue my love of all things creative. I’ve loved sharing all my projects with my readers and the great feedback and support they’ve given to me. You guys rock! I never thought this blog would grow into such a great place and have such a great following. 

In reflection of this event, I though to myself “I don’t think I’ve ever shared the meaning behind the title of my blog.”

Here’s the secret behind the Queen of the Cardigans: I am almost literally the Queen of the Cardigans. At the time I started this blog, I had around 45 cardigans in my wardrobe. 45.

Me in one of many cardigans.

In the past two years, I have paired them down, refined my wardrobe and eliminated some cardigans I never wore. I still have a bunch of cardigans and they will always be my favorite wardrobe staple. I’d love to share them all with you, but this isn’t a fashion blog (yet?)

Thanks for the great past two years, and here’s to many more! 

Weekly Inspiration: July 26

One of the sad things about moving out of my parent’s house is that I no longer have access to my mother’s sewing machine. Though the Serger is mine, the traditional machine I made most of my projects on was technically hers. 

I wanted to buy myself one on my own, but since there were so many other priorities, it never happened. Because he is the biggest sweetheart ever, Aaron bought me a new sewing machine as an Anniversary present. I had my eye on a few different Singer machines, but I hadn’t totally decided on which one I wanted. He made a great choice!

Introducing: the Singer Fashion Mate 5500.* Isn’t she beautiful?

It does so many cool decorative stitches and button holes are going to be so much easier than with my old machine. 

So far, I’ve only gotten to use it to hem a pair of Aaron’s pants, but I already love it.

Hopefully I can get some projects up from her soon!

-Shannon-

*Image via Singer Sewing Company’s website

Aaron’s Anniversary Present

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As of July 9th, this weirdo and I have been together for three years. Three amazing years of staring at that face, sharing my life, and loving immensely. 

Here is a little secret about me, I love giving people gifts and one of my random skills that I pride myself on is my ability to give really great gifts. Not expensive gifts, not big gifts, but gifts that are so unique and too perfect for the receiver. 

Obviously, for my boy, his anniversary present had to be special. I got an idea back in February as I watched him making me dinner (He’s cute AND he cooks. Tame your jealousy, please.) He had an app up on his phone that he was reading the recipe from. The phone was so near the flame of the stove and the grease kept splashing on it. 

"He really needs to print those out and keep his phone safe" I thought to myself. "OR! I could print them for him in a cookbook." and thus, the evil plan was conceived. It took me a few months to get going though because of the house and finishing up school. 

Not only did I steal all his favorite recipes from his phone, I also got his family and friends to send me all his favorite meals that they cook.

Then I spent hours designing a book for all the recipes to go into. I admire those who are graphic designers by profession. I know my way around Adobe design programs, but it’s so tedious to make everything just right . But for him, worth it. After it was all done, I just had to send it to a printing company to get made and spiral bound.

Here is just a sampling of the book. I’m super proud of it and he loved it! 

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Yes, that’s his name. No, he has never been on a television show called “Breaking Bad.”

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So if you’re ever looking for a great gift idea and don’t mind spending lots of time putting it together, here ya go. 

Next post coming up: his present to me. Also craft/creativity related because what else would he get for me?

-Shannon

Weekly Inspiration: July 20

Even as the project list on the house continues to dwindle, it still feels like the projects are adding up! It’s nice now because the projects themselves are all smaller things like “Oh, let’s make a lamp to go there” instead of “Oh, let’s repaint and refloor this entire room.” In addition to fun little decor projects, I’m also shopping for and buying a ton of cool stuff for the house. Because I want to share all this inspiration with you, I’m starting a new series of posts called “Weekly Inspirations.” Every Saturday, I will post one thing that inspired me the past week. It can be a product I bought, something I saw, or just a thought to inspire creativity. 

This week: Anthropologie dishes! 

I’ve had my eye on the salad plates for months! I didn’t want to buy them until the house was more together. They were a little pricey, but they were too pretty to pass up! I also purchased Anthropologie’s latte bowls to compliment them.

Paired with these great plain plates from Target, they’re going to look great on my dining room table. 

So what inspired you this week?

-Shannon-

Notice something new?

I changed the layout of this blog. Again. I wanted something a little cleaner and a little classier. What do you think?

The $50 Pottery Barn Sofa

Story time!

When we moved in, the wood paneled family room featured decor of 3 very uncomfortable chairs of various color and style, a love seat, and a TV. It’s become our hang out room, mostly because of the TV. The seating arrangements were not working for us. We’d both try to sit on the love seat at the same time and try and play Mario Kart, but we’d always end up bumping into each other with several limbs falling asleep. When we had friends over, someone always ended up sitting on the floor, because the chairs can’t really be arranged to see the TV. It was not the most comfortable.

One Saturday we were out running some errands and Aaron said ” Let’s go thrift shopping and see if we can find a proper sofa for that room.” I initially said no because we haven’t painted the space yet. No point in getting something we’re going to have to worry about covering and moving around. The whole “we could be moving soon pending me getting a job” thing also worried me because that’s one more piece of furniture to either leave behind or get into a moving truck. 

He somehow talked me into it. We went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and of course found the perfect sofa. An off white, Pottery barn sofa, with only a few scuffs and dirty spots, for only $50. I looked up the original price online: $1500. You know I love a bargain, especially for something as high quality as Pottery Barn. 

We measured the sofa and knew it would fit in our truck and in the front door. We did not measure the door into the family room. After about an hour of struggling to try and fit it through the door, we gave up.   

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So now we have a new sofa for the living room. And the grey sofa is in the family room now. It works out well though, because I’m planning on painting that room white. Grey sofa in a white room, white sofa in a grey room. 

The scuffs came right out with a little scrubbing and the cushion covers were easily washed with the laundry. We also borrowed a relative’s upholstery vacuum to really get it clean.

It’s a perfect fit for the space and it was a super great find!

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Life is an ever changing thing

Needless to say, life is a crazy thing. Being a young, post college 20-something, life has fit that description for me lately. I just finished college, moved into a fixer upper with my boyfriend, with all the things that go along with being a home owner, and I’m job hunting like a maniac. I’ve been thrown into adult life very quickly. And it’s been a wonderful journey so far. Just as quickly as my life became this, it’s changing again.

As I’ve been job searching, it’s become apparent that the jobs I really want and would fit well in are not in the Pittsburgh area. They are in the wonderful city of Chicago. Those who know me, know that Chicago has had a part of my heart for a while now, so the prospect of me moving there isn’t surprising. The move isn’t official yet, but it’s coming soon. My posting might be spotty while we figure things out, pack up, decide what to do with the house, find an apartment etc.

And then there is the issue of the house! We have a house! That we just put a lot of work into! We know. But we also know that we have so many more years of life to have a house in the suburbs near our families. So it will be sad to say goodbye to this house which we put so much love into, but we’re so excited for this next crazy adventure. And we’ve been doing a lot of work that I haven’t blogged about yet. Do not fear, you have not seen the last of the house.  

I’m not sure of all the details yet, but updates will happen as they come along. 

So here is to the next adventure!

Ikea Coffee Table Makeover (plus living room update)

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I’ve got a tutorial for you today, which is something that I haven’t done in a while!

I love the feeling of modern and rustic blend that an iron and wooden coffee table gives. The problem is that they are all rather pricey. Did I mention I just graduated college? That means I don’t have a ton of money to throw around on coffee tables. Ikea on the other hand, is something I can be enthusiastic about. We picked up this great coffee table there for under $20. They had a real iron coffee table for a little more, however Aaron wanted something sturdier for adding the wooden top too. I just wanted the general idea/look of a wooden and iron table, so I agreed on the composite, dark table.

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For this tutorial, you will need:

- Ikea Lack coffee table 

- Three pieces of wood. We actually had two, but one was long enough to get two pieces out of. We picked these babies up at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for under $5

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- A sponge and some water to clean the wood with

- A circular saw 

- Sandpaper

- Screws and a drill

- Stain and a rag (optional)

Step 1:

Wash and prep the wood. We loved all the character of the pieces we picked up, but they were super dirty. We washed and sanded each piece to get them ready to attach. Make sure they are completely dry before trying to cut them.

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My helper is the best!

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The $30 hand sander was the best purchase ever. Makes projects so much easier!

Step 2:

Assemble the Ikea Lack table. I followed the instructions up until the last step of attaching the bottom tier. I saved that for after the wood was attached so it would be easier to get under the table. 

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Step 3:

Measure and cut your wood. The table top is 35 inches. I wanted a tiny bit of over hang, so using the circular saw, we cut each piece at 36.5 inches. I am not a fan of blades/saws so I stayed very far away for this step. Have I mentioned he’s the best? If you don’t have access to a saw/cutting device, I know that most hardware stores like Lowes will cut wood for a small fee. Renting tools is also an option.  

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Step 4:

Place your planks where you want them on the table. It took a little bit of puzzle work and flipping pieces to make them look just right.

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Step 5:

Attach your wood to the table using the screws. Aaron went underneath the table to screw them in from the bottom, while I held each plank in place. We used three 3” screws on each plank, one towards each end of the table and one in the middle of the plank.  Be careful when drilling in the screws, because if you push too hard, the composite splits a little.

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Step 6:

Sand off any splinters, especially on the ends where the planks were cut. Then attach the bottom tier of the table per the Ikea instructions. 

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Can you tell that’s my “project doing” shirt? I’m only wearing it in every other post. 

Step 7:

Apply a stain (if needed.) We both agreed the top was a little lighter than we wanted. We chose Minwax Wood Finish stain in shade “Special Walnut 224.” Application was easy, just rubbed it on with a rag in the direction of the grain and let it soak in for about 5 minutes before rubbing the excess off. It was less than $5 at Lowes for a small can and it was the perfect shade with only one coat. All the character of the wood still showed through, which is why we chose those planks in the first place.

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Let it dry and bring it inside to enjoy!

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The only downside to this project was how much heavier the table became once the planks were attached. It’s pretty difficult for me to lift it. 

Total cost of the project:

Table: $20

Planks: $5

Stain: $3.50

We had everything else like the screws and the saw. 

Total: $28.50

Restoration Hardware has a few similar tables for well over $500! Can you tell I love their stuff? I love a bargain even more.

In addition to the coffee table, we’ve made some other changes to the living room to make it more homey since I posted about the paint job.

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The new rug and canvas from Home Goods (another store I am obsessed with) bring the room some much needed color.

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The accent chair was a steal from my bedroom at my parent’s house that I added after I painted it last year. Another Home Goods find!

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We brought Aaron’s piano down from the spare bedroom and added some frames and candles all around to personalize the space. 

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Until next time!

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Powder Room Makeover

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Right off of our awesome, new kitchen, there is a small powder room that needed a major makeover. Our house was built in 1943, however this powder room is part of an addition that was put on in the early 1970s. So yes, there is wood paneling in both the powder room and the family room next to it (that’s a makeover for a different week.) In addition to the stylish paneling, the powder room had a green toilet and a sink to match. They all needed to go. We chose to work on this project next because it was a simple project and because when we have friends over, that’s the bathroom they use. Why not make something pretty for our guests?

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Before was actually a little creepy once you’re in the room with the door closed. 

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This was a pretty easy room to redo. We removed the toilet and sink to get to the wood paneling and paint it white. So much brighter! It took a couple coats to cover.

Goodbye to the green toilet! 

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Then we installed a nice, new, white toilet and a sleek new sink. The only issue we had was with the toilet pipe. It was too rusted to put a new toilet in, so we had to have a plumber fix it before we could put the new one in. Other than that, it was a pretty smooth, bump free project. We replaced the lighting fixture as well with something sleeker. We kept the mirror that was previously in there. I loved the great details on it.

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In addition to the mirror, we were also able to reuse this little shelf for towels and things.

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We found a great picture for the wall for only $10 at Marshalls to bring some color in and I made some curtains with fabric found at Joann Fabrics to coordinate.  

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Over all it was super easy and had we been a little more prepared, we could have had the whole room done in one day. A 24 hour room makeover would be a welcomed thing.

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This room was great practice for the main bathroom, which is coming up next!

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