Graduation Cake Pops

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Well, we did it! We finally graduated from UCLA this past weekend. Somehow it was four years ago that we met as timid young freshmen, new to the city of Los Angeles. Looking back on all the friends and memories we’ve each made during our time here, graduation feels almost surreal. It’s the end of an era!! Despite the sadness that comes with leaving behind our friends, our apartments, and our beautiful campus, we are beyond excited to begin the newest chapter in our lives.

Starting this week, we will be working on this blog together from different cities (Michelle is headed to San Francisco and Kirby will be staying in Los Angeles), but we look forward to collaborating on ideas from afar and co-writing our content. To celebrate the end of the best four years of our lives, and the last craft we’ll be making together for a while, we made these graduation cake pops. Of course we made ours blue and gold for UCLA, but they are easily customizable to any school colors. They were (almost) too cute to eat!


Materials & Ingredients:

  • Cake (no shame in a box mix!)
  • Frosting
  • Cake pop sticks
  • White candy melts
  • Chocolate fondant
  • Yellow and black/brown royal icing (you can find our recipe here)
  • Ziplock bag or piping bag
  • Sprinkles
  • Baking sheet
  • Styrofoam or cardboard box for holding the finished cake pops
  • A knife
  • Scissors

Bake your cake and allow to cool completely.

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Mix the icing in little by little until the mixture is moist enough to form a ball, but not too sticky that it will fall off of the stick — we used about 1/4 of a container. Form as many golf ball-sized cake balls and place them on the baking sheet.

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Insert your sticks into the balls. Our secret is to melt a little bit of the candy melts and dip the sticks into the melted chocolate before inserting them into the cake balls. This insures that they won’t fall off the sticks when decorating. Then place the tray in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

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While the cake pops chill, you can make the fondant graduation caps. They aren’t hard to make but take a few steps so following these pictures might help! On a powdered sugar surface, roll out your fondant to about an 8th of an inch. Cut half of the fondant into little squares and cut the other half into thin strips. Cut your strips into 1.5 inch segments. Make your royal icing. You can get away with just half or even a quarter of the recipe. Dye half of it yellow and the other half black or brown, and place each color in a piping bag or ziplock. Cut a tiny hole in the edge. Use the black/brown icing to pipe on the end of your 1.5 inch long fondant segment. Then roll it into a circle, and repeat for each segment. Then pipe the black icing onto the top of the circle and place the square fondant piece on top. Finish them up with a little yellow icing tassel on top!

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Once you have finished the grad caps, set up your decorating station. Lay out your sprinkles, set aside your grad caps, and prepare your cardboard box or styrofoam to hold the finished cake pops. If you use a cardboard box, poke holes in the bottom and flip it upside down to hold the individual sticks. Melt your candy melts in a deep, narrow bowl or cup.

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Dip the chilled cake pop into the melted chocolate in one fluid motion. Avoid twisting or bending the cake pop, just pull it out.

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Immediately dust the cake pop with sprinkles.

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And finally, finish it off with a graduation cap. Place the finished cake pop in the styrofoam block or cardboard box to cool and harden, and repeat the process until you have finished all of the pops.

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Go Bruins and Happy Graduation!

-Michelle and Kirby

 

Father’s Day Beer “Can”dles

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For every Father’s Day since I was a little girl, I have hand crafted gifts for my dad. I’ve made cards, pop-up books, picture frames, paintings, placemats – you name it. In fact the other day when he and I were cleaning out the storage closet, I found a leaf family I once made him. There were dried leaves with cut out lips and eyes and paper hair that matched our family’s. It was pretty funny and also really sweet to see that he still had it. I never really believed him when he said he preferred handmade gifts and always vowed to buy him nice things once I had my own money, but now that I’m older I understand where he’s coming from.

These candles incorporate a classic dad favorite: beer. You can transform your dad’s favorite beer into decorative “can”dles (ha, get it?) that will always remind him of you.

I hope all the hardworking and loving fathers out there enjoy the holiday, as well as those who have selflessly stepped up and taken on that important role for children who aren’t as lucky as I’ve been to have an awesome dad. A special thanks to my dad, who loves and supports me endlessly, always pushing me to be courageous,  adventurous, curious, passionate, and kind. I’m very fortunate to have such an incredible role model.


Materials:

  • Wax
  • Empty beer cans
  • Candle wicks
  • Scissors
  • A funnel
  • Glass bowl
  • Can opener

First determine how many candles you plan to make and remove as much wax as you will need for them from the packaging. Cut the wax into smaller pieces so that it will melt easier. Place the pieces into a glass bowl and microwave on medium power for 30 second intervals until completely melted.

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While the wax melts, use a can opener to remove the top of the can. Be careful not to cut your fingers!

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The remaining lip of the can should be nice and smooth.

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Use oven mits to remove the hot wax. If you want to add a scent to your candle, go ahead and add that now. My dad isn’t a big fan of scented candles so I left mine unscented. Then dip the base of the wick into the wax and carefully position it in the bottom of the can. Allow the wax to harden for a few seconds so that the wick is secure.

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Insert the funnel so that the wick is in the middle.

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Pour the remaining hot wax into the funnel until the can is almost filled to the top.

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Leave the candle to completely cool and harden.

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Use scissors to trim the wick, and just like that, you have beer candles!

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Happy Father’s Day!

-Kirby

Lemon Flower Arrangement

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When life gives you lemons, make lemon filled vases for your flowers! The saying goes something like that… right? A flower arrangement is the easiest and most elegant way to elevate your home, but most people (like us) can’t afford fresh flower bouquets every week. So when we do buy them for celebratory occasions or when we need a little cheerer-upper, they make our homes feel extra special.

The addition of sliced lemons takes an already beautiful arrangement to the next level, just in time for the warm June weather. It’s more time consuming for sure, but the result is worth it. Our lemon flower arrangement is the perfect addition to the patio table, just in time for this week’s early summer BBQs and rosé nights with the girls.


Materials:

  • Flowers
  • Lemons (each lemon makes about 5-6 slices, so the number depends on your vase size)
  • Toothpicks
  • A vase that stands straight up (the angular ones don’t work with the lemons)
  • Scissors
  • A knife and chopping board

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Slice your lemons into even circles about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. If they are too thin, you will see the toothpicks so best to stay on the thick side just in case.

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Use toothpicks to connect strands of lemons. Each strand should be the height of your vase.

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Our vase was quite tall so we made alternating strands of 3 and 4 lemons.

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Trim your flowers and arrange them inside the vase with water. Carefully insert the strands of lemons along the circumference of the vase. We used alternating lengths of strands so that the lemons filled all of the gaps.

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After about fifteen minutes of intense fiddling, you are done and your efforts will be well worth it.

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-Kirby and Michelle

 

Homemade Raspberry Jam

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Summer is coming! We honestly could not be more excited. With summer comes berries and with berries come all our favorite berry recipes — ice cream (if you haven’t seen last week’s post on homemade blackberry vanilla bean ice cream, definitely check it out), pies, and of course, berry jam! This week, we decided to share our favorite homemade raspberry jam recipe with you all. From morning breakfasts with toast, brunch with croissants and brie, or tea with scones, this jam is a staple item in our diets.

Whether you want to add a little something extra to your meals at home or you need the perfect summer gift for your friends, this jam is your answer. It’s surprisingly easy to make your own jams at home and delightfully better than anything you can buy at your local grocery store – guaranteed!


Ingredients/Materials:

  • 1 lb raspberries
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle
  • Candy thermometer
  • 5 8oz. mason jars
  • Twine
  • Labels

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Wash your berries well before you begin.

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Combine sugar, raspberries, and lemon juice into a large saucepan over high heat.

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Stir continuously until mixture is brought to a boil.

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Insert a candy thermometer and keep stirring and skimming foam from the surface (as needed) until the mixture reaches 221˚F.

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To test if the mixture is ready the be jarred, scoop a small amount into a bowl and place into the freezer for 3 minutes. If the jam has a gelatinous consistency when taken out, you’re ready to proceed.

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Using a ladle, transfer the jam from the saucepan into the mason jars. Seal and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours for best results. If you are gifting the jam and want to add an extra touch, create labels and attach to the jar with twine. Enjoy!

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** Note: in the interest of time, we did not go through the canning process. This process is not necessary unless you plan on storing the jam over a period of months.**

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Happy jamming!

– Kirby and Michelle

 

 

 

Homemade Blackberry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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Alas! Summer is near and our favorite foods are once again returning to our daily lives (watermelon, gazpacho, peach cobbler, rosé anyone??). A few weeks ago when the sun was out and early signs of summer were wafting throughout the air, we caught the ice cream bug. A little too chilly for sorbet, but warm enough to daydream of tropical fruit and juicy, plump berries, we settled on this recipe. This homemade vanilla bean ice cream with fresh blackberry swirled throughout is such a special treat and one that really makes it feel like summer is just around the corner.


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 small container of blackberries
  • 1 lemon

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Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large mixing bowl with water and ice, then set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, half & half, and 2/3 cups of sugar. Split the vanilla beans in half and carefully scrape away the seeds into the pan. Simmer over medium heat for approximately 12 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved.

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While that simmers, whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until slightly frothy.

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Remove the cream mixture from the heat and slowly pour 1 cup of it into the egg mixture, continuously whisking until smooth. Pour the egg/cream mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes, constantly stirring, until you have a creamy custard.

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Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it into a fine sieve, using a spoon to press it through.

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Place the bowl of strained custard into the ice bath and allow to chill until completely cool.

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Meanwhile, place the blackberries into a small sauce pan, along with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Cook on medium heat, occasionally stirring, for about 15 minutes, until the berries have broken down and the sugar is dissolved. Don’t be afraid to mash the berries as they cook.

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The result should be a thick, ruby red sauce filled with seeds.

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Press the sauce through a sieve to remove those pesky seeds.

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When the vanilla custard has cooled, pour it into the ice cream maker (or any tupperware container if your don’t have one). Turn the mixer on and allow your ice cream to freeze until it is the consistency of soft serve. Then gently pour your blackberry sauce into the ice cream, folding it a few times. Be careful not to overfold or you will lose the pretty red swirls and it will just turn pink.

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Place the ice cream in the freezer and continue to chill until it hardens to your desired consistency. Then serve with fresh blackberries!

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Happy one month until summer!

-Kirby and Michelle

My Mom’s Deviled Eggs Recipe

Deviled eggs LA (20 of 22)Deviled eggs were one of those foods that as a kid, I decided I hated (despite trying them), and very adamantly stuck to that decision. I thought they were so gross, and I never understood why everyone flocked to them at family gatherings, gobbling down one after the other. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was working in a restaurant and I had to taste everything on the menu, that I tried my first deviled egg. And I fell in love. Silly child me.

Although a bit fiddly, they are so simple to make, and everyone somehow has their own version of the recipe. In my family, my mom makes the most amazing deviled eggs and everyone knows it. They are a bit tangier and spicier than most – just the way I like them. A few weeks ago my boyfriend Alex and I (and our dog Lola) drove to Santa Fe to visit my mom. We had the most incredible visit filled with delicious food, cozy movie nights, and board games on the patio by the fire. It was perfect. I took advantage of the trip to get her famous deviled eggs recipe to share with you all. They go great with margaritas 😉

Happy belated Mother’s Day to my incredible mother Jody, the strongest, most inspiring woman I know.

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Ingredients: (yields 24 deviled eggs)

  • A dozen eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons mayonaise
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard or dijon mustard
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sieve
  • Piping bag or plastic ziplock bag
  • Star shaped piping tip

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Fill medium pot half way with water and bring to a boil. While the water heats, prepare an ice bath in a casserole dish or large bowl. Gently place the eggs into the boiling water and allow to cook for 11 minutes. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon

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Place the cooked eggs into the ice bath and leave them there until they are completely cool.

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Gently peel away the shells, careful not to peel away and of the egg whites. Discard the shells and rinse the peeled eggs so that no remaining shell bits are stuck to the outside.

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Cut each egg in half.

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Carefully pop the yolks out of the egg whites and place them in their own bowls.

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Mix all of the ingredients except the salt, pepper and hot sauce in with the yolks. Throughly mash with a fork to get rid of any lumps. Spoon the mixture into a sieve. Using the back of a spoon or your clean hands, press the yolk mixture into the sieve and into a bowl beneath it. This will give you a perfectly creamy consistency. And yes, I now realize I need to buy a new sieve.

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The mixture should be smooth and lump-free. Now you can add the salt, pepper and hot sauce to your liking. You can adjust the recipe at this point to however you like it. If you prefer it a little tangier, add more vinegar and mustard. If you want it creamier, add butter or mayo.

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Once the filling is exactly how you like it, spoon it into a piping bag or plastic ziplock fitted with a star shaped tip. Pipe the eggs full of mixture. Don’t be afraid of using too much because you won’t run out – remember you’ve added a bunch of stuff to the yolks!

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Finish by garnishing with paprika and/or dill.

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Serve with cornichons on the side. Margaritas are optional – but highly recommended.

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Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

-Kirby

Pressed Flower Bookmarks

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My mom, sister, and I have totally been obsessing over the countless girl thrillers hitting the stands over the past couple years. Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10 — you name the book, chances are we’ve not only read it, but devoured and thoroughly discussed it. In a way, these books have been something for us all to bond over. With us all living in different cities, doing our own things, we always make time to call each other and discuss the characters and crazy plot twists in our “book of the month”.

I’d been brainstorming for the perfect Mother’s Day gift for months when it hit me, pressed flower bookmarks! While we are all pretty avid readers, we struggle with the same problem of finding something to mark our place after a good reading session — I guess you could say the apples don’t fall far from the tree. 😉 While napkins and old receipts do the trick, there is something about having a handmade bookmark that makes the experience that much more special.

These pressed flower bookmarks are so cute and personal, and the perfect gift for the resident bookworm in your life. Even more, it’ll go great with our newest book of choice, Paula Hawkin’s (author of Girl on the Train) newest thriller, Into the Water!!


Materials:

  • Flowers
  • Parchment paper
  • Heavy books
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Twine
  • Iron and ironing board (optional step)
  • Lamination pouches (optional step)

This past weekend, I was home in Half Moon Bay visiting my parents. I found these beautiful flowers along the coast one day while taking my dog, Noodles, for a walk — perfect for the pressed flower bookmarks I had been imagining. I went for small, vibrant flowers that would easily mount onto small, bookmark-sized paper, but feel free to go with whatever flowers you desire.

Next, I lined a page of a book with parchment paper and carefully placed the flowers inside. It’s important to make sure to arrange the flower petals carefully as they will be permanently frozen in that position. Close the book shut firmly, and place under the weight of several books or other heavy objects. Ideally, you will leave the flowers for seven to fourteen days to see the best results.

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However, not all of us have the time required to completely remove the moisture from the flowers. If you don’t have that time, don’t fret! There is still a way to make this craft work for you. Rather than placing the flowers and parchment paper inside a book, place them underneath an iron instead. Hold the iron (silk/light settings) in place for fifteen seconds before removing and letting cool for the same amount of time. Repeat this process until the flowers are completely dried out, but be careful not to let them burn!

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Once the flowers are completely dried, I arranged them onto the bookmark-sized paper. Secure the flowers to the paper with glue. I found that because the flowers are so small and delicate, it was easier to tack the flowers down with glue and a toothpick. A little bit of glue really goes a long way and it’s very easy to overdo it.

FlowerBookmarks (7 of 17)FlowerBookmarks (8 of 17)FlowerBookmarks (9 of 17)The next step is completely optional, but I decided to laminate the bookmark. This step will protect the flowers from any wear-and-tear long-term, but it is by no means is necessary!! Once the bookmark is to your liking — laminated or not — punch a hole at the top of the paper. String twine through the hole and tie the ends together to hold. I found that this addition nicely complemented the rustic charm of the presse.

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And just like that, your pressed flower bookmarks are finished and ready to use!

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom — I love you!!

– Michelle

Homemade Sugar Cube Tins

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Is there any time in a day more important than coffee time? When we’re moaning and groaning at 6:30 a.m., hair in a nest on our heads, drool still dried onto our faces, the only thing that gets us out of our warm beds is the comfort of the glorious coffee maker.

This craft makes that coffee time a little bit more special (it’s true, that is possible!). We made our own sugar cubes and decorated little tin cans to put them in. It is pretty enough to set out on the counter and we don’t know why but for some reason sugar is much more exciting when it comes in tiny cubes! We made one batch plain and one with cinnamon and cocoa. In the future we’ll try out some new ideas such as raw sugar or adding dried mint leaves for tea.


Materials

  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon and cocoa (optional)
  • Sugar cube molds

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Succulent Pots

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In case you couldn’t tell from some of our previous posts, we’ve been really into succulents lately. It seems like over the past year succulents have become all the rage in Los Angeles, and we can definitely see why! While very cute and trendy, their low-maintenance tending requirements are perfectly suited our busy schedules.

The other weekend some of my roommates went to the Brentwood Farmer’s Market, something I definitely recommend checking out if you have the chance to go. From locally grown fruits and vegetables to freshly baked artisanal breads to mini succulents, farmer’s markets are always a great way to spend your Sunday (especially when you find cool new ways to spruce up the apartment)! When Maddy came walking through the door — succulents in hand — I immediately jumped at the opportunity to turn the pot-less plants into our newest craft on the blog.

This craft is one of my new favorites in the effortless way it enhances the ambience of the room. These succulent pots are a very affordable way to express your creativity and add a little character to your desk, coffee table, etc. Read on for more!


Materials:

  • Succulents
  • Mini terra cotta plant pots (we got ours here)
  • White acrylic paint
  • Gold leaf pen (we love this one here)
  • Paintbrush

After carefully peeling off price stickers from the pots (we soaked them in hot water with soap for a few hours to ease the process), generously apply white paint directly onto the terra cotta. Let dry and touch up as needed.

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Next, we took out our gold-leaf pen and doodled away. You can decorate each pot the same way or create a new design for each one — this is the part of the craft where you can really let out your inner-creativity!Plants (12 of 27)Plants (16 of 27)

Finally, we carefully potted our succulents into their new homes! Plants (27 of 27)Plants (25 of 27)

Happy potting!

– Michelle

Decorative Letters

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Throughout our college careers (as is the norm for most college students), we’ve constantly been on the move — in and out of dorms, sorority houses, apartments. Each new school year comes with a new place and new people to call home. While definitely exciting as each place will inevitably bring new memories with our friends at school, it makes it a little harder to create that “home away from home” feeling.

When we moved into Towngirls (the 4-girl room in our sorority) together sophomore year, we decided to make a little housewarming gift for our roommates to brighten up the standard white walls and grey carpets of our room and make the place feel a bit more lived-in. Since then, it has been a tradition to begin each school year with this housewarming gift for our new roommates.

This craft is unbelievably easy to make (you’ll be surprised) and can be tailored to each person’s favorite color, pattern, etc. These letters make the perfect housewarming, birthday, holiday gift for friends and family — really, it’s great for any occasion!


Materials:

  • Cardboard letters (we got ours on Amazon, here)
  • Acrylic paint/paintbrush (you can also use spray paint)
  • Decorative paper (we got ours at the Paper Source, here)
  • Modge podge
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

After carefully peeling off all the price stickers from the cardboard (you want to begin with as smooth a surface as possible), we began to paint the letters completely. Two layers ensured a rich paint color. Let dry completely before moving on!

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Next, we flipped the letter upside-down and traced onto the matching decorative paper with a pencil. It’s really important to make sure you are tracing the letter backwards onto the back side of the paper — we don’t want to pull a Karen from Mean Girls!!

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Then, carefully cut out with scissors. Make sure to stay as close to the pencil line as possible so that the paper lines up with the letter so there is no excess or shortage.

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Finally, we painted Modge podge onto the front side of the letter so we could attach the decorative paper. Carefully lay the paper onto the Modge podged surface so that there are no wrinkles. Press down firmly to secure.

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Now you’re ready to keep ’em, gift ’em, hang ’em on a wall – whatever your heart desires!

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Happy Modge Podge-ing!

– Kirby and Michelle