DIY $5 Envelope Pillow Covers!

Guys.

I made these pillow covers!

DIY Pillow Covers for $5!
DIY Pillow Covers for $5!

For five bucks a pop!

So. I’ve been slowly redecorating our home, one small project at a time. Kind of a white and brown rustic, industrial, southwestern motif with pops of blue, orange and gold. It’s not a thing…I made it up. I have a collection of ideas in my brain about what it’s supposed to look like and it’s hard to explain. But slowly, slowly, I think we’re getting there.

Anywho, pillows are a great place to start when you’re redecorating because they are easy and can make a big difference. But when I was shopping for new pillows, I was like, umm $75 for THIS?!?

I say no! Surely there is a cheaper alternative.

There is! I already have the number of pillows I want in the shapes I need, so maybe I could just make covers for my existing pillows.

After a little research, I decided to try it.

Here’s your supply list:
-Fabric of choice; 1+ yards, depending on how many pillows (roughly 3/4 yard per pillow to be safe)
-Scissors
-Measuring tape
-Fabric glue

I had a hard time finding the right blue Ikat fabric. I searched and searched and finally found it here.

Like so many of my undertakings, there were mistakes involved in the making of these pillow covers. They were originally intended to be no-sew pillow covers, thus the fabric glue. This particular fabric glue came highly recommended. It’s called Unique Stitch glue, and can be found here. But after I didn’t read all the instructions and didn’t measure properly and didn’t wait long enough, I inevitably ripped one of my pillow covers as I was stuffing the pillow in–I don’t think it was the glue’s fault.

Thankfully, I have a whiz of a seamstress for a mother in law, and she helped me fix the ripped one by sewing it, and since I was doing that one, I went ahead and did the other ones too.

I’ll explain each process.

Chances are, if you know how to sew, you won’t wonder how to make pillows and won’t be reading this tutorial, but I’ll show my pictures just for fun.

Here’s a handy-dandy diagram I found on livelovediy.com  where this idea originated.

How to make an envelope pillow

The easiest way I discovered is to set your pillow about 3 inches away from the edge of your fabric and trace it. Add the same amount of extra inches to the rest of the perimeter and mark where you should cut. Be sure all your marks are on the non-patterned side of your fabric. The original tutorial gave measurements for a pillow with a 20″x20″ front panel, which I used for the two brown pillows pictured, but for my blue pillow, since it was a rectangular lumbar pillow, I had to improvise. I got my two brown pillows out of 1.5 yards of fabric, and my rectangular pillow, I only used 1 yard. I had quite a bit left over of each.

You’ll cut on your marks (the extended 3″ from where you traced the pillow) as one whole panel for the front of your pillow. For the back, you’ll measure 2 panels of the same height, but for the width you’ll measure 3/4 the length of the front panel. So, if your front panel is 20″(H)x20″(W) your two back panels will be 20″(H)x15″(W). Super clearish? Ok.

Once you have all 3 panels cut, fold your open envelope edge (marked green on the diagram) about a half inch and glue it, creating a seam for a finished edge. Do that for both of your back panels. Then you’ll lay all three panels with the patterned side inward, front panel on the bottom, back panels on the top. Your back panels should overlap when you match up the outside corners with the corners of the front panel (see diagram: corners numbered 1 should match up, corners numbered 2 should match up, and so on and so forth).

Then, glue the top and bottom panels together on all the outside edges, leaving about an inch from the edge.(Marked in black on the diagram.)Your glue will go on the patterned side of the fabric.

Let it dry about 24 hours to be sure it’s really dry, then turn your case inside out, press with an iron, and stuff with your pillow like any old envelope sham.

DON’T do these things:
-cut your fabric too small (too big is always better than too small)
-weight your pillow case down while it’s drying
-become impatient and stuff your pillow in before the glue is totally and completely dry.

If you do these things, you WILL rip your pillow case when you stuff your pillow in.

Trust me.

Luckily for me, I knew who to call when I did all of the above. If you’re gonna sew the pillow covers, your measurements and assembly are the same. Just instead of glue, you run it through the sewing machine. Like so.

Then you’ll want to cut the inside corners off as close to the sewn corners as possible so it won’t bunch when you flip it right side out. Like so.

With my mother-in-law’s help, this part was super easy. Without her help, this would’ve been a totally failed project.

Taa-daa!!

DIY Pillow Covers for $5!
DIY Pillow Covers for $5!

Adapted from livelovediy.com

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Garlic Butter Herbed Chicken

Made this for dinner tonight and had to share! Super easy. Super delicious. I will definitely be making this again.

Start with however many chicken thighs you plan to prepare. I used four. With it being just the two of us, four is a good number because I’ll eat one, he’ll eat one or two, and there’s enough left over for at least one meal.

Salt and pepper your chicken thighs and arrange them in a baking dish. Choose one that’s big enough for all your chicken to fit easily without crowding.

Melt your butter with minced garlic in it, then add olive oil to the bowl and stir it all together. Once it’s combined, pour it evenly over the chicken.

Add your herbs of choice. I used dill, parsley, basil, and a little tad of seasoned salt.

Bake at 375 F for an hour and twenty minutes. This dish goes deliciously with mashed potatoes, but you can serve with whatever sides you like!

Voila!

Garlic Butter Herbed Chicken
Garlic Butter Herbed Chicken

~Recipe~

INGREDIENTS:
-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
-3 Tbsp butter
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp minced garlic
-1 tsp dried dill
-1 tsp dried parsley
-1 tsp dried basil
-1/2 tsp seasoned salt
-salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Salt and pepper chicken and arrange evenly in baking dish.
2. Add garlic and butter to bowl and microwave until butter is melted, about 1 minute. Add olive oil to garlic butter mixture and stir to combine. Pour evenly over chicken.
3. Sprinkle herbs and seasoned salt evenly over chicken.
4. Bake at 375 F for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until skin is gold and crisp and chicken is cooked trough.

DIY Christmas Wreath for $15!

First, I love Christmas. It’s absolutely my favorite holiday. Family, gifts, delicious food, Christmas music, all the lights, and of course, glitter everywhere!

Needless to say, I love decorating for Christmas. The house is so much cozier and I automatically like you if you have a wreath on your door. There are some beautiful wreaths out there, but a lot of times, you pay dearly for it. I made this wreath this year and I love it so much more than anything I could’ve bought!

DIY wreath for $15!
DIY wreath for $15!

Now to start, you have to choose your theme. There are so many to choose from that sometimes it’s hard. I stuck with the theme I have on my tree which is mostly neutrals, gold, white, and of course green. Make sure to measure your door if that’s where you’ll hang it. I’ve made the mistake of a wreath that was too small, and also a wreath that was too big. Trust me, you want a happy medium.

Then it’s off to the store. I went to Hobby Lobby and found everything I needed in one stop! In order to do this on a $15 budget though, you’ll have to get it on sale. The best time is right after Christmas, HOWEVER, I hit the jackpot and got all my stuff a couple of weeks ago when Hobby Lobby was having a 50% off all Christmas decor sale…I went a little crazy. I spent more than $15 but all together, what I used on my wreath was about $15.

I digress.

So, you’ve bought your theme-consistent supplies at a discounted rate and you’re ready to go. I’ve found it’s a good idea to stick with odd numbers of each item, but it’s really just what you think looks good in the end.

When you’re buying, make sure to choose your focal point. Like on mine I used the burlap poinsettias. You can use whatever tickles your fancy or even a grouping of a few different things, but I think something that anchors it always ends up looking the best.

After your wreath is sufficiently fluffed, lay all your items out next to it and just start placing. I started with my focal-point-poinsettias and worked my way around the wreath with everything else. No gluing yet! You’ll put things in and take them out and add and take away until you get it right. There’s really no rhyme or reason to this part, just make sure things are facing the way you want them to face and fitting where you want them to fit.

Once you’ve got everything placed where you like it, then it’s time to add your ribbon. It just weaves in and out and around your items and you can bend some of the wreath branches around it in places that you want it secured. It can change direction and make “Vs” and go wherever it goes, but I do actually wrap it around the wreath. Seems easier than cutting and gluing each piece you see.

Now it’s time to fire up your glue gun. Hot glue is perfect for stuff like this because it’s very secure, but also very forgiving. Glue your ribbon on the back of the wreath at the beginning and the end. No need to glue it in between unless there’s somewhere you need it secure that you don’t have it tucked into a branch. Then glue all your items one at a time all the way around. If you glue something in the wrong place, you can just rip it off and glue it again. I did that a lot and you can’t even tell! Just be careful not to rip a bald spot on your wreath where it will show, but even if you do, you can cover it with something. Like I said…very forgiving. If you have any floppy parts on your items, glue those down so they stay put. I glue my focal point last because it’s the biggest and I want it on top of whatever is around it.

Done! Easy! And cheap!

You may need more than one hook to hang it on your door depending on how heavy it is. I started with just a suction cup hook and it fell after a few hours, so now I have one suction cup and two command hooks holding mine and it’s held up fine!

Yay Christmas!

Christmas at the Olivers
Christmas at the Olivers

Accidentally Amazing Chocolate Cookies

Ok…cards on the table…these were supposed to be chocolate chip cookies. However, through a series of mistakes, they turned into these deliciously sweet and salty chocolate cookies. They were fantastic! I doubled my recipe and they were all gone at the end of the night, so I’m calling it a win.

Every year our little town has a Christmas parade. Ours was last night and my husband’s office is right off of the main street where the parade runs, so they decided to open their doors and offer hot chocolate to the parade attendees. I volunteered to bring cookies, and I thought, “What better to go with hot chocolate than good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies?” These. These were.

Here’s everything you’ll need.

image

First, you’ll mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Easy peasy.

image

Then, you’ll brown your butter. Put the butter in your saucepan on medium heat and cook it down for a few minutes. It will bubble and condense and when it’s ready, there will be little brown bits on the sides if the pan. The butter will turn a kind of amber color and in the middle, it will froth up so much that you can’t see all the brown bits in the bottom, but they’re there. I had never done this before. It’s very easy, but it takes several minutes. I doubled my recipe, and my large saucepan was dirty so I used my medium saucepan and there were 4 sticks of butter in there, so it probably took longer than it had to. Either way, this process takes a little patience. Also, watch it closely. You don’t want it to go too far. Here’s what it should look like.

image

Once it looks like this, remove it from the heat. Then you’ll mix it in your mixer with the brown and white sugar until it’s all combined. Then add your egg, yolk, vanilla, and sour cream, and gradually add your flour mixture.

Once it’s all mixed in, it should look like this:

image

Ok. Up to this point, everything was running smoothly. No mistakes. Then I did two things at once that changed the course of these cookies forever. I added the chocolate chips while the batter was still warm, and, because I was feeling lazy, I dumped them in and used the mixer instead of carefully folding them in like I was supposed to…so they melted.

Welp…No going back.

I was faced with a decision. I either keep going and hope for the best, or scrap the whole thing and start over. I had already invested in these cookies, so I decided, I’ll push through, and if it’s really an epic fail, I can always buy cookies at the store. So I rolled with it.

The next step in the recipe calls to refrigerate the dough, so I chunked the bowl in my fridge and headed off to have dinner with friends. Not a care in the world. When I got home to bake the cookies, the molten chocolate chips had hardened into the batter and the whole mixture was totally solid…Ugh…Store bought cookies here I come…

Then I think, “it will probably soften now that it’s out of the fridge…I wonder if this bowl will fit in my microwave…”

It did. So. I microwaved my hardened cookie dough.

Don’t do that.

If you’re making these as intentionally chocolate cookies. Either skip the refrigerator step, or let them sit on the counter for about 36 mins after taking them out of the fridge before you start scooping and baking.

It look me a couple of batches to get these cookies exactly right. The first batch was my microwaved dough batch. They actually turned out ok, but I had to really roll them and squeeze them and roll them and squeeze them into the balls before baking. But they tasted fine.

The second batch was under the microwaved layer and the dough had softened enough for me to scoop as usual so I did. The problem with these is that they were taller and didn’t fall like I thought they would and because of the color of the chocolate dough, it was hard to tell if they were done baking so I left them in way longer than they really needed to go.

By the third batch, I had it figured out. Scoop and flatten on the baking sheet. And disregard the color. It doesn’t change. Ten minutes on each batch and they came out perfect.

Side note: if you don’t have one of these scoops, get one immediately! I have the small and medium scoop from Pampered Chef. I used medium for this recipe. They’ve changed my life. Get some!

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Sprinkle with kosher salt immediately after baking and set on wire racks to cool. Do NOT skip the salt. It totally makes these cookies. Trust me.

When they’re done, this is what they look like.

image
Accidentally Amazing Chocolate Cookies!

Learn from my mistakes and make these delicious cookies! Like I said, I doubled my recipe and made probably 30-40 cookies and they were all gone! Accidentally Amazing Chocolate Cookies!

~Recipe~

INGREDIENTS:
-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter,
browned
-1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 large egg, and 1 yolk
-1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
-1 tablespoon sour cream
-1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
-kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS:
-In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt.
-Brown butter on medium heat until brown bits begin to appear and the color of the butter turns amber.
-Mix butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with sugars until combined. Then add egg, yolk, vanilla, and sour cream.
-Gradually add in flour mixture.
-While batter is still warm from the browned butter, add the chocolate chips and mix with the mixer until chocolates have melted and combined with the batter.
-Refrigerate for 2 hours, then remove from refrigerator 30-40 minutes prior to baking cookies.
-Preheat oven to 350 F. Scoop and flatten small balls of dough and space them 2 inches apart on a parchment paper or foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes.
-Sprinkle immediately with kosher salt and place on wire racks to cool.

Recipe adapted from: thebitesizedbaker.com

5 Things I’ve Learned About Giving Thanks

Over my 29 years of life, I’ve learned a lot about Thanksgiving and giving thanks. I’ll narrow it down to five for the sake of this post.

1. There really is SO MUCH to be thankful for.

When you really think about it. There is a lot in this world to be thankful for. In my case, I have a wonderful family, a husband I would marry again and again, a roof over my head, a car to drive to the job that I have, food in my refrigerator, the list goes on. And on. And on. Think about it. There are 6-some billion people on the earth. What are the chances that I would be born into freedom? In a place that’s far away from the Ebola break out? Where I can walk on the street in front of my husband and I don’t have to cover my face? When you really sit down and think about it, there are one million little and big things every day I have to be thankful for…ok that was the easy one. I learned that one in like pre-school.

2. Gratitude is different than thankfulness.

Like I said, being thankful is the easy one. Gratitude is a whole other ball game. Thankfulness breeds gratitude. Gratitude is a lifestyle of thankfulness. It’s an attitude. If I live a life of gratitude, it affects everything else. It affects the way I treat people, which directly affects the quality of my relationships. It affects the way I do my job. It brings humility, gentleness, and contentment. This is different than writing a long list of things to be thankful for because it’s every day. Not just the last Thursday in November. It’s different because it permeates your life and creates opportunity to bless others. It’s deeper and more meaningful. Also, it’s way harder.

3. Gratitude takes practice.

Gratitude is not a natural state of mind for everyone. It comes more easily to some than to others. To be honest, the amount of gratitude in my life ebbs and flows. Every once in a while, I start to get selfish. What about me? Why does my opinion carry so little weight? Why can’t I have the nice car, be as skinny as I was in high school and always have the clever confident comebacks?? (I typically think of those 30 minutes later when I’m having the argument again with the imaginary passenger in my car.) These selfish moments are the moments when I’m losing my grip on gratitude and the moments I realize I need more practice. Selfishness is the root of all evil…It really is. With so much to be thankful for, with my long long list of things, why do I selfishly choose to focus on the things that I don’t have? Because gratitude takes practice. Every day. Practice gratitude. You’ll get better at it.

4. It’s not always easy, but it’s very simple.

This is a difficult concept. My life of gratitude is up to me. Am I gonna focus on the things I have? Or the things I don’t have? There’s no complex issue here. It’s a simple choice that causes simple actions that flow naturally from that choice. The choice, though. The choice is sometimes very hard to make. When your day just won’t go your way, and you did something to make someone mad, and you can’t fit into your pants, and your hair is dirty, and you run out of gas…those curl up and cry kind of days…that’s when gratitude is hard because it is SO EASY to focus on yourself and how nothing is right. I used to get so frustrated with my dad when I was little because he told me over and over that it’s up to me. How I feel, how happy I am, how content I am is up to me. You just have to decide. It’s very simple. But it’s very difficult. Once I figured out that he was right, it made it easier to do. Easier. Still not easy.

5. It’s worth it to try.

I don’t think any human is capable of living a life of gratitude 100% of the time, although I think Mother Teresa probably came close. I also think Mother Teresa had a great deal of joy in her life. Servitude, humility, gentleness, contentment, and, yes, gratitude bring true unwavering joy. I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the amount of gratitude and the amount of joy in my life. When I have gratitude, I’m nicer to people. When I’m nicer to people, they like me better. When people like me better, they’re nicer to me. When I’m content with what I have, I don’t have jealousy for things other people have. The affects of gratitude are endless and so positive. It’s a cycle both ways. It’s worth it to strive for gratitude.

With that in mind, here are some reasons for gratitude that I was reminded of this Thanksgiving.

Helpful Husbands
Helpful Husbands
Sweet baby nephews
Sweet baby nephews
Family and food!
Family and food!
Dinner Dates
Dinner Dates