Category: DIY

DIY Pita Bread

This recipe works! Two successful batches later I am beside and puffed up like a proud penguin. I MAKE BREAD. Edible, tasty, looks-like-store bought bread. Raawwwr. Thanks to the Wimbush Family Pita Bread recipe for the instructions and confidence.

1 TBS yeast (Equals one of those square yeast packages that comes in sets of 3 in the baking aisle)
1 ¼ cup warm tap water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour (This makes it taste better and is healthier)
2 – 2 ½ cups all-purpose white flour
You’re gonna want an electric mixer too

Dissolve the yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and whole wheat flour plus ½ cup of white flour. With the dough hook attachment, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. (It will break apart and look kinda rough). Add a bit more flour and knead 6-8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. (It will form a cohesive glob on the hook).

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 pieces for larger pitas or 10 for smaller. Add more flour if it is too sticky. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling-pin into ¼ inch thick discs. TIP: Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’. Thinner ones cook faster and puff more; thicker ones turn out more like a naan bread.

Lightly flour 2-3 cookie sheets and set on top of the stove. Preheat to 425 F. With a large spatula or your hands, move the flattened disks to the cookie sheets. Let them rest on the floured surface on or near the stove for 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed. Don’t worry if they don’t double in size or look perceptibly larger. They’re okay. You should be able to smell the yeast and when you poke ’em, your finger should leave a little dent. If not, whatever — worst case scenario is that you’ll make crackers instead of pitas.

Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden. Stick around for the first five minutes of baking when the pitas perform their magic and puff up from flat pancakes to proud, four-inch high pitas. It’s epic. Store bought and the Pioneer Woman ain’t got nuthin’ on me!

Cool completely before storing or risk stale pitas. Apparently you can also freeze ’em, but they haven’t stuck around long enough yet for me to attest to that.

Easy DIY Cinnamon Ornaments

The promised result
The promised result

I’m fortunate to have several friends with toddlers who enjoy crafting. The daughter of an art teacher, I get a kick out of helping kids use their hands to create something original and full of pride. I remember how much fun it was to paint a ceramic in elementary school then proudly present the mottled heart box to dad for Father’s Day, and to get sticky fingers and glitter everywhere making glitter pinecones for holiday presents.

Using Pinterest as an inspiration and thinking about kid-friendliness, I rustled up the materials for DIY cinnamon ornaments.  Crafting doesn’t have to be expensive, and simpler is better — (I mean, do you remember my failed DIY Tin Lantern?) So I figured it doesn’t get much easier than a two-ingredient recipe from McCormick for cinnamon ornaments.

Before you endeavor on this little baked craft adventure, a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Toddlers like to eat things that look like cookie dough. Toddler review: “It tastes fpatsey.” Me: “Fartsy? It tastes like farts?!” Mother Translation: “He says it tastes spicy.” Ah.
  • One batch made about 12 ornaments. The attention span of these lovely 3.5 year old kids was about one ornament per child. I got an extra 30 seconds if we drew the letter of their first name.
  • These are not fix ‘n forget items. They bake for 2.5 hours.
  • Use the plastic wrap as stated and roll the dough 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. I made some too thin that they were brittle and snapped.
  • The holes you make for stringing through ribbon will shrink. Use a big straw, or 2 holes next to each other.
  • Unlike sugar cookies, if you put these on the cookie sheet with a crack in the dough, the crack will not fuse. Keep the dough wet-ish by adding more applesauce.
  • Accustomed to decorating sugar cookies, I found the plain surfaces dull and attempted to add some decorations via toothpick drawings. You should pass on this. Plain is perfect.
  • Find cookie cutters before you start. Unless you like circles from glasses in various shapes, in which case, make sure you have very clean edges.

For the record, these turned out mostly fine. Not awesome, and also not bad for a first attempt. All’s well that ends well. Definitely worth an easy $8 and some crafting. And I think my mom will like a homemade present from one of her little girls.

The actual results
The actual results

I Can Paint! Sort Of

The first Thursday of each month my community hosts a Ladies Night, with drink specials, trunk shows, free bubbly and two-for-one deals. Last night I attended a 90-minute painting class led by the DC-based company, ArtJamz. For a mere $25, I enjoyed a canvas, brushes, markers, sponges, paints, apron, “creative inspirers” who walked around with compliments and suggestions, and painting tips. Two (half-priced) glasses of Menage a Trois later, viola! My first acrylic painting! Now where to hang this beauty?


DIY Tin Lantern Pinterest Fail

Thanks to Etsy and Pinterest, I’m starting to worry about hoarding items previously dubbed ‘trash.’ I hear a little voice in my head cry out, “No! Don’t toss the empty coffee tin or mason jar; you could craft that into something marvelous!”  This weekend, bored by volleyball, I decided to make a gift for a friend.

Here are the inspirational photos and instructions. All it takes is hammering holes into a piece of thin metal. How hard could it be? This lovely photo is the goal for my finished product:

The site called for a thick nail or two (which I didn’t have), clamps (which I also didn’t have), a tin coffee can and hammer, plus some other stuff I dubbed extraneous.

I drew my design on paper and taped it to the can, thinking that an intricate pattern of waves and stars and vines, plus my friend’s name would be perfect. I used a screw instead of a nail, which ended up cutting my thumb and forefinger, but what’s a homemade gift without a little sweat right?

Turns out, they really do mean that clamps would be useful – you might even say clamps on a sturdy table are an imperative for this project. But who has an extra shed and workbench in these times? Not to be deterred, I improvised – using my feet as vice-like clamps while sitting on the floor:

The process of hold screw-hammer it-hit finger- suck finger-readjust feet-crack neck-decide I don’t need THAT many holes-look for a better screw-try a tiny nail-return to screw-repeat – continued for oh, two hours. I was also sipping whiskey which may have contributed to the length of effort, but mostly I think it helped numb the finger pain and body cricks.

I pulled off the paper for a peek and realized: 1) not all the holes went through; 2) I needed more holes; 3) I should have painted the can before I started punching holes; and 4) damn, I wish I’d just bought a gift card instead. By this point I’d cut my forefinger on the screw threads and depressed myself by dropping in a candle and only seeing measly dots of light. I decided to keep going. I nabbed a bottle of black acrylic paint and dabbed it on the tin to hide the über shininess.

I re-wrapped and taped the paper around the dry tin, aligning it JUST SO. I punched old holes, added a few new ones, and realized that spelling out her name was pointless as it was illegible. About this time I realized that the can was getting bent out of shape so I tried to bang out some bumps from the inside of the can. Highly ineffectual. Whatever. I popped a candle inside to see the beauty revealed. I proudly present my coffee can lantern:

To the untrained eye, this appears to be a beat up, slightly rusted tin can pulled from a dumpster. Not so! It’s a labor of love! A gift from the heart! An upcycled, Eco-friendly home decoration!

Riiiight. Pinterest fail. Apparently those who have gone before recommend using a power drill, and/or freezing water in the cans so they don’t bend when hammered. Ah.

I’ve decided to give my friend the lantern…but I’ll also toss in a gift card and a bottle of wine. Sorry, Kelly! It’s the thought that counts sometimes.

DIY Sparkle Shoes

“Successful women can still have their feet on the ground. They just wear better shoes.” –  Maud van De Venne

Thanks to multiple Pinterest posts – including this delightful one which involves mimosas –  I decided to refresh a pair of scuffed up shoes with a little DIY sparkle.

Before Photo

These shoes are supposed to be copper but had faded to a brown-grey in the worn places. Yet the heels were still in good shape and I walk well in them, which is not a given. (I actually have nightmares about wearing horrible heels while racing to catch a plane) I also just wasn’t ready to donate them yet.

– About 1/2 cup Mod Podge
– A cheap sponge paint brush
– About 2 ounces of gold glitter
– Disposable container
– Something to protect the table – I cut open a couple plastic bags and taped ’em down. The directions are simple:

One layer painted on

1. Mix half the amounts of glitter and half the Mod Podge in that container you won’t mind throwing away. Stay on the lighter side of glitter: glue ratio. If you add too much glitter to the Mod Podge, it can clump up awkwardly when you try to paint it onto the surface of the shoe. Think thin layers. You can always paint more! If you’re new to the power of Mod Podge, don’t worry about the white color; it dries clear.

2. Paint one layer on both shoes. Allow to dry at least overnight, or until very dry. If you paint a new coat over a wet one, your glitter globs will increase. (You can see my globs starting to appear even after one coat.)

Glitter-glue-brush mix

Tip: To keep the mix from drying out between coats, I put a ziplock over the Solo cup, then just stirred and started right back up. The $1 spent on three brushes meant I wasn’t too attached to tossing them. If you want to mix a new batch each coat, go for it.

3. Continue to alternate paint-dry-paint-dry until you’re satisfied with the saturation and distribution of glitter. This is totally personal preference. I completed 2 full layers and then a third round of touch-ups.

After Photo

4. Ta da! Wear ’em with pride! The glitter stays on nicely, even as I flex and walk.

My take: It’s an easy DIY project on the cheap and I’m happy to upcycle/ recycle a pair of shoes.

Downside?  It definitely took more time than I anticipated, resulting in a table covered in glitter and plastic bags and shoes for about a week. Plus, glitter inevitably gets all over the place, so if you don’t refer to it as “pixie dust” like I do, that might be annoying.

Va va va voom!

On the other hand, they DO look fabulous!

DIY Earring Organizer

I have a thing for Pinterest. It’s a go-to happy place for me, AND I learn things. For instance, did you know that mixing equal parts Dawn dish soap and white vinegar makes the most effective bathtub cleaner ever? I was dubious but after stripping and recaulking my tub last weekend, it needed serious help. I sprayed the mixture on and literally saw ‘stuff’ melting and sliding down the tub – which was both gross and awesome.

the inspiration

My next weekend project invovled organizing my earrings based on an inspiration from, you guessed it, Pinterest. Here was the post about decorative radiator covers that started it all. The hardest part: “Using a snips, we cut the sheet metal down to size.” Snips? What’s a snips? A certain cutting process? A tool? I bought a $3 pair of pliers/cutting things. A word to the wise: buy a snips, whatever it may be. I have blisters from using my crappy tool. And I nearly gave up before I realized bending the metal first made it easier to cut.

end product

In terms of costs, I spent: $6 on a wooden 11×14  frame from A.C. Moore, $18 on the radiator cover from Home Depot, and $3 on the aforementioned torturous $3 cutting tool from the Dollar store. I also used some wrapping paper and spray adhesive I already had on hand, and hung it on 2 small nails I had in my toolbox. Total cost?  $27. Not bad compared to basically the same item (but much less cool, obviouslylisted for $45 on this website.

I followed the directions in the post, which are basically: 1) cut metal to fit frame, 2) put in frame, and 3) hang earrings. About 45 minutes and several poking cuts later, I was actually pretty impressed with myself.

close up

Next time, a few things I’ll do differently:

  • Did I mention the pain in  the ass of using my particular cutting tool? I’ll buy a real metal cutter.
  • Pick out a nicer frame. The price was budget friendly, but the wood is rougher than I expected and the corners pulled apart a bit.
  • Usee a flat-tip screwdriver to bend the edges of the radiator cover into the frame so it doesn’t bulge out.
  • Own a better camera, improve the lighting, or simply take better pictures to showcase how neat this really is.

Score one for functional DIY organizing!