Eh Crafty Ladies!

Its Crate & Barrel style! (sorry, I couldn’t help myself, that song is taking over the universe)

bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy

After a long hiatus from blogging due to a cross country move, the start of a new job and getting settled in our new home, I thought I’d start off with a post on home decor since we’ve been doing so much of it lately.  Hubs and I recently moved into a cute, little rental with lots of character and were in need of some curtains for our bedroom.  We have hardwood floors and some vintage, solid wood dressers that are much too gorgeous to repaint a la Pinterest so I wanted some type of graphic print in the citron-yellow range to brighten up the room.  I was having a hard time finding anything I really liked, except for these $278 babies ($139 for only one panel!!) at Crate & Barrel.

bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diyI couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on curtains so continued my search in fabric stores to see what it would cost to make my own.  After all, basic curtains are simply two large rectangles, with some finished edges, right? Imagine my surprise when I found the EXACT fabric from an online discount fabrics retailer for 80% off for the yardage I needed! That’s right, I only paid $50 to make two curtains!

bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy

I did not line these as they are decorative, but you could do it easily with some inexpensive muslin to add some weight.  I am pretty happy with the results, and best of all, I didn’t have to spend a fortune for my Crate & Barrel taste!

What you need:

  • 5 yards of fabric (for two, standard 84-inch curtains)
  • matching thread (I used white)
  • pins
  • iron & ironing board

What you do:

  1. Take your 5 yard piece of fabric and cut it in half into two, 2.5 yard pieces.
  2. Start pinning the sides first with a 1.5 inch hem.
    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy

    Make sure to take a look at your fabric design and see what you want your edge to be.  I preferred my edge to be just outside the circle part of the design.   First I pinned where I wanted the edge to be, then folded the unfinished edge under.  May seem redundant, but this is how I made sure to keep things straight and even.

    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy
  3. Sew your pinned sides then break out your iron and iron your edges flat.
  4. Now, its time to pin the bottom of the curtain.  Again, I used a 1.5 inch hem to match the sides, though I believe the Crate and Barrel ones have a 3 inch hem.  To make sure things were straight, I used the underside of the pattern to line up the lines of the design.
    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy
  5. Determine how long you want your curtain to be and pin the length.  Make your rod opening at least 3 inches, then pin under the unfinished edge.  Depending on how long you want your curtains to be, you may need to cut off excess fabric at this step.
    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy

    *A standard curtain you buy at a store is typically 84 inches long (the ones at Crate and Barrel are actually 96 inches, which was waaaaay longer than I wanted).  Our landlord hung the curtain rod on the actual window frame, which in interior design is not what you are supposed to do – you should hang it above and beyond the edges of the frame.  In any case, because of this and not wanting to rehang the curtain rod, my finished curtains were 81 inches so as to not crumple on the floor, so I did need to cut some fabric at this step.

  6. Before you sew, check your length by hanging pinned fabric from curtain rod.  Adjust length as necessary, then sew! Hang and admire your handiwork.  And if the moment strikes you, break into a little horse dance…you’ve earned it crafty lady!
    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy

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12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

andes peppermint crunch double chocolate cookies holiday christmas recipes

A few years ago, a patient brought in some delectable chocolate cookies that incorporated Andes Peppermint Crunch candies, found in stores during the winter holidays.  I decided to attempt to remake the soft and chewy cookies, using Martha’s Double Chocolate Cookie recipe as a place to start, and tweaking it based on ingredients I had on hand.  I think the results are delicious! If you are a chocoholic and like the refreshing taste of peppermint, you must give these a try!


Makes about 4 dozen

andes peppermint crunch double chocolate cookies holiday christmas recipes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey’s)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 ounces 72% cacao dark chocolate (I get mine from Trader Joe’s for cheap!), broken into pieces
  • half of a 9.5 oz bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. Melt dark chocolate with the butter in a small heatproof bowl in the microwave for ~45 seconds.  If chocolate is not completely melted, stir mixture until it is. Let cool slightly.
    andes peppermint crunch double chocolate cookies holiday christmas recipes
  3. Put chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Fold in Peppermint Crunch chunks.
    andes peppermint crunch double chocolate cookies holiday christmas recipes
  4. Using a 1.5 inch ice cream scoop (like this one from Crate and Barrel), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Optional: this dough is easy to pick up and roll into balls for perfectly round cookies, which is what I did after using the scoop.
    andes peppermint crunch double chocolate cookies holiday christmas recipes
  5. Bake until cookies are flat and surfaces crack, about 12 minutes (cookies should be soft). Slide parchment sheets onto wire racks and allow cookies to cool. Cookies will be soft at first, but after cooling will maintain their shape – parchment paper is a must!

Note: Martha’s original recipe called for Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which I was out of.  I used natural Hershey’s cocoa powder so had to change the amount of both cocoa powder and baking soda to get the right acidity.  I used information on this website to make my conversion.

andes peppermint crunch double chocolate cookies holiday christmas recipes

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12 Day of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: peppermint brown sugar cupcakes

peppermint frosting vanilla brown sugar cupcake holiday desserts recipes

For years, my mom has made a sugar cookie with peppermint frosting as the holiday treat that is made for family functions or boxed and given away as gifts.  Nothing compares to the gently spiced sugar cookie topped with a refreshingly minty, yet rich, buttercream frosting.   So, since I love to make cupcakes, I decided I’d try to recreate the cookie in cupcake form just for fun.  The results were equally delicious! I used Billy’s Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes recipe (as seen in my March ’09 post) as a rough base and did some tweaking to get the right flavor.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes:

makes 24 cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine brown sugar and butter, mixing until pale and fluffy.

2. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.

3. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat.

peppermint frosting vanilla brown sugar cupcake holiday desserts recipes

4. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full.

5. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cupcakes have cooled, pipe tops with peppermint frosting.

Peppermint Frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • scant 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 peppermint candy canes, pulverized to a powder in a food processor

peppermint frosting vanilla brown sugar cupcake holiday desserts recipes
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sifted powdered sugar.
  2. Mix in vanilla, then add milk until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (you often won’t use the entire amount).  Beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in crushed candy canes until well mixed, adding more milk if frosting becomes too stiff.  Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy with a tall glass of milk!
peppermint frosting vanilla brown sugar cupcake holiday desserts recipes

Thrifty Tip: The bright and shiny cupcake liners were found at Crate and Barrel in the after-Christmas clearance section last year.

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O (tabletop) Christmas Tree

This time of year holiday catalogs fill our mailboxes.  Unfortunately for a lot of us, decking the house for the holidays with gorgeous items from Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel and Williams- Sonoma just isn’t feasible.  What I try to do every year is browse through the catalogs and get inspired to create my own decorations and replicate the store’s classic style for much less than retail!

west elm david stark twine wrapped tree craft

Twine Wrapped Tree

If you browse through my other posts, you’ll see that I love to decorate with twine by wrapping it around things.  I love the texture it creates and the organic look of it.  Recently, I was flipping through a West Elm catalog and saw these modern trees (above) and thought, what a great thrifty craft!  And can be made for SO much less than the sticker price!

What you need:

  • craft spray glue
  • newspaper
  • styrofoam tree form
  • jute twine
  • hot glue gun

west elm twine wrapped tree christmas craft

Here’s what you do:

  1. Create a workspace with newspaper.
  2. Secure twine to the top of tree with a spot of hot glue.
  3. Apply spray glue in 2-3 inch sections and wrap twine around form of tree, making sure twine is taut and avoiding gaps between wraps.
  4. Finish by securing twine to bottom edge with hot glue.

Note: It is important to start wrapping from the top of the tree, as wrapping from a larger to smaller diameter direction can be frustrating – the twine will want to roll toward the smaller diameter area.  So, start from the top!

west elm twine wrapped tree christmas craft

Cost: $5! Twine was purchased from the 99 cent store and the styrofoam tree was purchased at Michael’s with a 40% off coupon for $4.  That’s a savings of $45 from the West Elm retail!

Red Berry Tree Topiaries

red berry tree tabletop tree topiary craft

Decorating with red berries during the holidays is one of my favorite looks.  Unfortunately, good quality topiaries can be hard to find, especially if you like to shop the after Christmas sales for your holiday decorations – oftentimes, berries are missing, chipped or scratched. Here’s a way to have a beautiful topiary, on the cheap, with little effort! Comparable topiaries (like the one on the left) can be found at Target for up to $29 per tree!

What you need:

  • wire cutters
  • tree topiaries
  • red berry picks
  • silver (or gold) spray paint
  • bright green reindeer moss
  • terra cotta pots
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks

red berry christmas tree topiary craftred berry christmas tree topiary craft

Here’s what you do:

  1. Use wire cutters to remove berries from their stems. Make sure to save one berry with a 3/4 inch of stem for the top of the tree.
  2. Place sole berry with stem in top of tree, leaving 1/3-1/2 of an inch visible.
  3. Secure first layer of berries below top berry with hot glue, making sure to place them as close together as possible, eliminating as much of the background as you can.
  4. In sections, starting at the edge of your most recently placed berries and working outward, cover rest of the tree with berries.
  5. Spread newspaper to create a large workspace.
  6. Use spray paint to coat terra cotta pots, using short strokes and spraying another layer (after first coat dries) until pot has a uniform coating.  Make sure to flip the pots after waiting for them to dry and spray the upper rim.
  7. Place berried topiary in newly painted, dry pot.
  8. Attach reindeer moss with hot glue in sections to exposed areas of base.
  9. Display and enjoy!

Cost: less than $10 per tree,  not bad! AND you have leftover silver spray paint for other holiday projects!

red berry christmas tree topiary craft

Tip: Michaels has wonderful sales throughout the month of December – most things holiday are often 40 -60% off!  I purchased my red berries at a 50% off sale, so each pick was only $0.49 (I used 17 picks total for two trees).  Spray paint and pots were cheapest at Home Depot – only $5 for everything.  An even less expensive, and less time consuming, way to do it would be to find silver pots that you like at discount stores like the Dollar Tree or 99 cent store.  And don’t forget your 40% off mailer coupons at Michaels for things that aren’t on sale!  My reindeer moss (which is the same color and look of the stuff they’re selling at Pottery Barn for $14 per bag!) was only $3 with my coupon.  Thrift and discount stores (like Tuesday Morning) are also wonderful places to find craft materials for pennies on the dollar – I actually found my topiaries at a thrift store for $1.99 each!

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Deck Your Halls with Simple Crafts!

apothecray jar glass ornaments craft

If you check out my Fall crafts posting, you’ll see that I love decorating with this apothecary jar!  It is such a great vessel for displaying pretty things and decorating with it is so simple! No instructions needed, simply fill and display!

What you’ll need:

  • glass apothecary jar
  • small, shiny, glass ornaments

Cost: $3 (+ cost of your reusable, versatile jar – mine was purchased at Ross for ~$8)

pinecones in glass bowl decorating craft

Everyone should have some type of decorative glass bowl in their decorating armamentarium.  Like the apothecray jar craft above, there is nothing easier than filling the vessel with simple and pretty things, like pinecones during the holidays.  Try to look for bags of pinecones in which some are spray painted gold or silver (or do it yourself!) for a more festive touch.

What you’ll need:

  • decorative glass bowl
  • cinnamon scented pinecones

Cost: $2! (+ cost of your reusable, decorative glass bowl – ours was a wedding gift and is from Crate and Barrel)

tree cuttings vase filler craft

Any vase of flowers can have a lovely holiday feel by adding one simple flourish – cuttings from your newly purchased Christmas tree!  Don’t throw those extra branches away when you trim your tree!

What you’ll need:

  • flowers
  • vase
  • cuttings from your tree

Cost: Free! (+ cost of your fresh flowers, of course!)

carnation bouquet christmas craft vellum wrapped vase

I saw a similar vellum-wrapped vase a few years ago in a Martha Stewart Magazine.  While she used gorgeous amaryllis to fill her vase, I opted for a flower that is less expensive and easier to find.   Here, I clustered mini white carnations and large red ones to create a lush focal point for my end table.

What you’ll need:

  • red & white flowers
  • tall, cylindrical glass vase
  • 1 sheet of 12×12 white vellum
  • red embroidery thread
  • vellum tape

Here’s what you do:

  1. Stand vellum paper against vase to determine proper height.  Cut.
  2. Apply vellum tape to one edge of vellum paper and secure to glass, wrap vellum around vase, and secure free edge with vellum tape, overlapping edges slightly.
  3. Find middle of string and, starting from the base of the vase,  wrap string around and up the vase, keeping thread taut and criss-crossing as pictured.  Use vellum tape to secure free edges of thread at lip of vase.
  4. Arrange cut flowers in vase and enjoy!

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Fall in Love with Fall

pottery barn vase filler craft projects

Its that time of year again when everywhere you look, the rich colors of autumn abound….if you live anywhere but Southern California, that is!  Unfortunately for us, palm trees stay green and lawns aren’t littered with gorgeous crimson,  rust or gold falling leaves.  So, what’s a girl to do to bring in the fall season?  Get crafting, that’s what!

After last holiday season, I picked up some clearance items from Pottery Barn in preparation for decorating this year.  Among my finds were life-like acorns and preserved leaves in gorgeous hues for only $2.97 a box!  There is so much you can do with these simple vase fillers!  Here are a couple of easy projects to get those creative cogs turning.

Leaf Coasters

photo coaster project pottery barn vase filler leaves

What you need:

  • a set of photo coasters
  • preserved, or artificial, leaves
  • tweezers
  • scotch tape

Here’s what you do:

photo coaster project pottery barn vase filler leavesphoto coaster project pottery barn vase filler leaves

  1. Choose  four different leaf shapes in four different colors, selecting leaves that are comparable in size to that of your photo coaster insert.
  2. Lay your selected leaf on the cardstock insert to position.  If your leaves extend beyond the edges of the cardstock, use scotch tape to wrap the tips around and secure to the backside.
  3. Using tweezers, gently slide the cardstock into the plastic insert, being careful not to wrinkle or damage the secured leaf.

Photo coasters can be found at many stores.  These have a very simple design and were given to us as a wedding gift.  They can be found at Crate and Barrel for $20 for a set of four.

Cost: $3 (with lots of leftover leaves for other projects)!

Golden Wheat and Leaf Wreath

golden wheat grapevine wreath leaf craft

What you need:

  • grapevine wreath
  • dried wheat stems
  • preserved, or artificial, leaves
  • fall foliage craft stems for colorful accents
  • hot glue gun
  • glue sticks

golden wheat grapevine wreath leaf craft

Here’s what you do:

  1. Pre-arrange wheat and leaves to ensure full coverage of your wreath
  2. Hot glue 10-12 leaves on wreath in a scattered, yet deliberate, way, as if they fell on the wreath naturally.  You still want some of the grapevine wreath peeking through between leaves.
  3. Cut your wheat stems to half their original length for ease of insertion.
  4. Insert wheat stems into grapevine wreath horizontally, as close to 180 degrees as you can.  This ensures the wheat lays flat against the wreath and does not stick out.  Use hot glue as necessary to secure rogue wheat stems.
  5. Cut buds off of your fall foliage stems, leaving a 2-3 inch stem. Insert into wreath at various points, making sure to even out the color distribution.
  6. Turn wreath over and snip any length of wheat stem that protrudes from the back or can be readily seen.
  7. Hang and admire your handiwork!

golden wheat grapevine wreath leaf craft

Wheat was purchased at a farmers market for $2 a bunch, wreath and foliage stems were purchased at Joann’s (foliage was 70% off after Halloween!).  Remember to check for coupons for your craft stores!  I was able to use a 10% off transaction coupon the day I bought these!

Cost: $12!

Flowers with Acorns and Lentils

pottery barn vase filler acorn craft projects

What you need:

  • 5″ square vase
  • one box of acorn filler
  • few handfuls of dried lentils
  • plastic water bottle
  • Exacto knife
  • autumn colored flowers

Here’s what you do:

pottery barn vase filler craft projects pottery barn vase filler acorn craft projects

  1. Place plastic water bottle inside square vase, centering it.  Fill square vase with acorns around water bottle to determine proper height, mark.
  2. Remove plastic bottle and use Exacto knife to cut water bottle to marked height.  Smooth cut edges with scissors, if need be.
  3. Center the cut bottle in square vase again, this time filling lower 1/2 inch or so of square vase with dried lentils to stabilize plastic container.  Fill acorns around plastic bottle, making sure there are no gaps where the plastic bottle can be seen.
  4. Fill bottle with water and arrange cut flowers.

Cost: $3 + the cost of flowers

Apothecary Jars with Fallen Leaves

glass apothecary jar leaf filler craft home decoration

What you need:

  • preserved, or artificial, leaves
  • glass apothecary jar

There isn’t an easier craft than this!  Simply take a handful of leaves and place into jar, making sure to fluff them so they are not crushed.  Put on display and enjoy!

Cost: $3 + cost of apothecary jar (check discount stores for deals on these…I found mine at Ross for $5.99!)

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Green Go Bragh

The March 2009 issue of Martha Stewart got me all excited to host a St. Patrick’s Day gathering at our house this year. Not only does the issue have a recipe for what looks to be quite delicious Irish soda bread, it also has a recipe for brining your own corned beef! Too bad it takes 2 weeks to make – maybe next year?

decorative entertaining

While I love being in the kitchen, I get very excited to entertain and set the scene.  Especially when the color scheme is varying shades of green!  Hitting up my favorite bargain shopping havens for new green linens?  It really doesn’t get any better than this!

I started at the Crate and Barrel outlet and scored some fabulous green textural placemats  for $2.95 each. It is so hard to restrain oneself in that place! Everything is so much cheaper than in the retail stores. But I digress…

Green linen napkins were found at Ross for $2.99 for 4!  Go next door to Bed, Bath & Beyond and they cost $3.99 each! They are very similar in style to the Pottery Barn Linen Hemstitch napkins, but much less expensive!

To incorporate gold, I used basic gold chargers that I picked up at Big Lots.  Only $6 for a set of four.  They aren’t the best quality, but since most of the charger is covered with a plate and I really just wanted a *pop* of gold color, they worked out great.

To finish my place setting, I wanted some napkin rings but wasn’t really finding anything I liked. Then I thought, what better piece de resistance than a simple single shamrock placed at each setting? I had already purchased little shamrock pots at Trader Joe’s for decoration throughout the house, so simply snipped one for each setting.

bargain place setting

Here’s the final spirited, yet classy tablescape, for $5.25 per setting:

bargain table setting

Tip: Snip your shamrocks just before guests arrive.  Unfortunately, the shamrocks will wilt, so make sure everyone sees your creativity before they sit down to dinner.

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