Tag Archives: crafting

Easy Halloween Craft Roundup

It’s Halloween Week!  Here are a couple Halloweeny crafts from the past couple years… all super quick & easy!

The Amateur Librarian // Quick & Easy Halloween Treats

Cursive Skeletons

The Amateur Librarian // Quick & Easy Halloween Treats

I found this idea in an old Mailbox magazine from my teaching days, and it stuck in my head. These guys didn’t make the move but I’m sure I’ll be revisiting the idea again if I need a quick decoration!

Giant Modern Cross Stitch

The Amateur Librarian // Quick & Easy Halloween Treats

Spiders, Skulls, and boo! Oh my… these posters definitely made the move and are livening up the apartment right now!  Super easy 30-minute project – all you need is poster board, needle, and thread.

Reversible Bunting

The Amateur Librarian // Quick & Easy Halloween Treats

Gotta love bunting!  Halloween fabrics on one side, Thanksgiving on the other side… lasts all season!

Spider Web Cupcakes

The Amateur Librarian // Quick & Easy Halloween Treats

I can’t do anything fancy when it comes to baked goods, but these look pretty cute with no effort at all!

Patchwork Pumpkin Wall Hanging/Table Topper

The Amateur Librarian // Quick & Easy Halloween Treats

Last year it was a wall hanging, this year it’s hanging out on the dining room table. Lots of crazy novelty prints make up he patchwork pumpkin and string blocks.

Cheers to a spooky Halloween!  I’m still thinking of costumes to wear to work on Friday… but I’ll probably just go as a cat… (like every year… ha)!

The Amateur Librarian // Quick & Easy Halloween Treats

Project Pinterest: Easy Broccoli and Beef Stir Fry

I’ve been looking for some more easy dinner recipes during the work week, when I don’t feel like eating out but have no desire to spend an hour chopping up a million ingredients and then cleaning a million pots and pans.  My parents used to make a lot of stir fry growing up, but I’m not quite ready for tofu… so I went to Pinterest for inspiration, of course! Here’s the pin I finally settled on:
I modified the recipe a bit and cut down on the soy sauce (too salty for me) but basically followed the original recipe (which was also modified from another recipe.) Using Steamables broccoli also cut out a step (and another dish).
Broccoli & Beef Stir Fry
The Amateur Librarian // Easy Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
Yields: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Cost: Under $10
Ingredients:

For the marinade:

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. flank steak, sliced into thin strips (or the pre-sliced “stir fry beef” from the grocery store)

For the stir fry sauce:

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons. flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 bag Steamables (frozen) broccoli
Directions:
Make the marinade the night before. Before I cleaned up the previous night’s dishes, I mixed together the marinade ingredients in a bowl, added the meat, and popped it in the fridge overnight.
The Amateur Librarian // Easy Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
When you’re ready for dinner the next day, start the rice and prep the sauce. In a small bowl, add the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and flour.  Pop the broccoli in the microwave (I used Steamables, but you could also sauté fresh broccoli in the pan and then transfer to a plate if you wish.)  Add the vegetable oil to a pan on med-high heat. Add the marinated meat and half the sauce, then sauté for 5-6 minutes until cooked through.
The Amateur Librarian // Easy Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
Add the broccoli and sauté for another minute, and then you’re done!  Serve over rice.
The Amateur Librarian // Easy Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
The Amateur Librarian // Easy Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
The Amateur Librarian // Easy Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
The sauce is a bit heavy, which is why I reduced it from the Pinterest recipe… but overall it’s super simple and tastes great!  Perfect for a busy weeknight since the prep is pretty minimal. This wasn’t hubby’s cup of tea, but that’s nothing new… as he said, “It’s not what I would order at a restaurant, but if I did this is what it should taste like”… which I’m almost positive is a compliment, ha!  I’ll take it.
The Amateur Librarian // Easy Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
Thanks again, Pinterest!

Finally Finished: Christmas Tree Skirt

It is nowhere near close to Christmas yet, but this tree skirt is my favorite finish from my UFO pile yet.  And actually, it’s the very last of them… I’ve officially worked through every half-finished project that’s been plaguing my conscience for the last 5 years!  (One of them was actually taken apart instead of finished… but I’ll get to that some other time.)
You may remember (but probably don’t) way back in 2010 when I started this tree skirt.
The Amateur Librarian // Christmas Tree Skirt
I took a class at my local quilt shop (LQS) and had grand plans of starting a holiday tradition of dressing every tree with this tree skirt… and then I got stuck. I could not get past the dreaded “quilt and bind as desired” because I had no method at all, let alone one that I desired!
The Amateur Librarian // Christmas Tree Skirt
And let me tell you… while I’ve improved in a lot of areas since then, binding is still my nemesis and bias binding on SO MANY CURVES is exactly what kept this at the very bottom of my UFO pile all these years.  Every once in a while I would get an itch to finish and would start Googling for tutorials… but it just looked too daunting. Since I’ve been on a roll lately, I decided to take another look at the printed instructions and power through. Lo and behold, the tree skirt was not meant to be quilted OR bound, but simply turned.  It was just my LQS that wanted to quilt it as part of the class… and then after the top was completed in class, I never learned how to actually finish it. It’s an understandable impulse since they’re a quilt shop… but… it’s a shame that an unnecessary step held me up for four years!
The Amateur Librarian // Christmas Tree Skirt
Luckily I hadn’t gotten much further than laying out the quilt sandwich and basting, so I removed the basting and batting. I still wasn’t excited about all the curves, so I changed the shape into triangles which made all the difference.
The Amateur Librarian // Christmas Tree Skirt
The Amateur Librarian // Christmas Tree Skirt
With a good podcast in the background, I finished it up in a couple hours… with NO quilting and NO binding. Hallelujah! You can bet this skirt will be gracing our tree this year… and I’ll get some better pictures.
The Amateur Librarian // Christmas Tree Skirt
The Amateur Librarian // Christmas Tree Skirt
The Amateur Librarian // Christmas Tree Skirt
The Amateur Librarian // Christmas Tree Skirt
But I was too excited to share this finish to wait for a photo op!
I’m linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish Friday!

One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest

It’s starting to feel like Fall around here… woohoo!  My recent jacket to vest refashion has me consulting Pinterest (again) for outfit ideas… here are a few that I mentioned in the refashion post:
So I had a dress-up afternoon and came up with some ideas from my closet.  And then I realized my afternoon o’ fun could fit right into a One Piece Many Ways post… so here we are!  Can you tell I’m excited for some cooler weather to arrive?
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
Inspired by all the Pinterest trends, I tried on a few different outfits with my new vest…
With skinny jeans – stripes, polka dots, and plaid, oh my!
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
The Amateur Librarian // Jacket to Vest Refashion
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
The Amateur Librarian // What I Wore Wednesday
With leggings – chambray and sweaters!
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
The Amateur Librarian // One Piece Many Ways: Puffer Vest
Come on Fall, I’m ready for some cooler weather!  Once more, three cheers for Pinterest & free refashions :)

Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch Sampler: September

September flew by, and here we are a week into October already. It’s been so much fun to see the months pass by while keeping up with the Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  Each month features a different fairy tale, and it’s so fun to find out what story will be revealed next!

I loved Rapunzel so much – the happy little trees, songbirds, and of course her long hair! I got a late start this month, but finished up just in time when I was home sick last week. See if you can spot the kitties… they’re not hard to find since they’re always hanging around!

And now onto the progress pics:

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

And here are all the blocks completed so far:

The Amateur Librarian // OUAT Sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch Sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch Sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

October’s block is super cute – Cinderella in her pumpkin coach! Hard to believe the year is almost over and I’m already on the last row! I’ll try to keep up each month, so stay tuned for monthly updates…

Project Pinterest: Cross Stitch Bookmarks

Another successful Pinterest project… I’m on a roll this week! I saw the very cutest bookmarks EVER from Hey Porkchop using her Frosted Pumpkin mini patterns and started trolling Pinterest for a tutorial… but I couldn’t find any that I liked at all. Most “cross stitch bookmarks” look pretty old fashioned, and that’s not the look I was going for. So I pinned the image from Hey Porkchop and spent lots of time studying it carefully… and then just made it up as i went along.
I really hope Amanda puts together a tutorial at some point, but in the meantime here’s my interpretation!
Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
Time: A weekend… cross stitching takes a while!
Cost: Maybe $10
Supplies:
cross stitch supplies – pattern, floss, needle, aida cloth
gift tags or cardstock
sewing machine
optional embellishments: ribbon, stickers, scrapbook paper, hole puncher, etc.
Instructions:
I used scraps of leftover fabric to cross stitch some small designs. The lemonade is from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery (no longer available), the flower totem is a freebie from Kitschy Digital, and the “A” initial is from a thrifted book of cross stitch samplers.
You’ve seen a few of these pics recently… and there are a few more of the procress:
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
Then the scary part… sewing the cross stitch onto paper… but it’s really not as bad as I was dreading! I chose some thin scrapbooking paper and sewed the cross stitched design right on top.  I tried to keep the lines as straight and evenly spaced as possible, but it’s not perfect. I lengthened the stitch to give as much leeway as possible, and used white thread so it blends in.  Then I trimmed the aida cloth to about 1/4-inch and pulled a few threads to fray them.
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
Then, let the embellishment begin!  I didn’t use any glue, just folded the scrapbook paper around the gift tag and fastened with stickers on the back.  For the bunting, I cut out triangles and sewed them directly to the gift tag.  Then added lots of stickers and a ribbon on top, and all done!
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
I found some gift tags I found at JoAnn’s, but if the design was too big I just made some out of cardstock.  I used the storebought tags as a template and traced the top part onto cardstock, then punched a hole at the top.
And of course you don’t have to cross stitch anything to make a cute bookmark… you can just decorate a gift tag with some paper, stickers, and a ribbon.
Here are some front and back pics of the bookmarks I made in an afternoon:
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
So much fun!! I had a blast making these.
I’ve been using a couple bookmarks and I’ll probably be making more… these just might be the presents everyone gets for Christmas this year!
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
The Amateur Librarian // Cross Stitch Bookmarks
 Once again, Pinterest to the rescue!

Project Pinterest: Jacket to Vest Refashion

It’s officially Fall!  We’ve had some mildly chilly weather lately and I’m looking forward to more layers and more Fall weather to come!   My Style board on Pinterest is full of vests lately – here are a few of my favorites:
So I’ve been on the hunt for a vest, but my problem (as usual) is finding one that isn’t too big or bulky.  So far, no luck.  But when I stumbled on this jacket to vest refashion from one of my favorite style blogs Merrick’s Art, I pinned it right away and tucked it into the back of my mind:
Recently I’ve been trying to purge some of my clothes to get ready for Fall.  I started going through my jackets and realized I had the perfect candidate for a refashion:
The Amateur Librarian // Jacket to Vest Refashion
I immediately thought of this pin and got started!
Jacket to Vest Refashion
The Amateur Librarian // Jacket to Vest Refashion
Time: 30 minutes
Cost: Free
Supplies:
old jacket
sewing machine with matching thread
Instructions:
Follow this link to the tutorial from Merrick’s Art.  Her illustrations make everything seem really easy, although I definitely found the lack of specifics a bit tricky when I actually got started.  For one thing, I don’t really have any experience with alterations, so the very first mistake I made was sewing with a short stitch length.  My stitch settings are usually set for piecing a quilt, where you want short stitches for durability, but for a knit fabric like I was working with it’s better to lengthen the stitch.  Lesson learned!
Otherwise, it’s a pretty easy idea – use a seam ripper to remove the sleeves, then hem the new armholes.  My jacket had knit sleeves and back, with corduroy and a puffy vest in the front, so the different fabrics were a bit tricky to sew.  But it’s possible!
The Amateur Librarian // Jacket to Vest Refashion
The Amateur Librarian // Jacket to Vest Refashion
I really like how it turned out – and since it was an old jacket, I didn’t have to buy anything new and it already fit me… Win-win!
The Amateur Librarian // Jacket to Vest Refashion
The Amateur Librarian // Jacket to Vest Refashion
Now I’m all ready for Fall fashion!  I’ve already worn this vest a couple times, as you’ll see in WIWW tomorrow. Once again, Pinterest to the rescue!

Finally Finished: Fractured Fish Quilt

Another finish from the WIP pile… woohoo!  Remember this quilt top?  It was one of my very first projects in 2011 when I first started blogging.  I hadn’t quite yet found the online quilting community, but I found this fractured nine patch pattern online and was determined to make a quilt all by myself.
The Amateur Librarian // Fractured Fish Nine Patch Quilt
I was so proud of my completed top… but I had no idea how to go about quilting and finishing it.  So it sat in a pile for a couple years and moved across the country with us.  A few weeks ago JoAnn’s had a fabric sale so I decided to stock up on batting and fabric for quilt backs to finally work through my WIP pile.  When I pulled this one out, I have to admit I was pretty pleased with my past self for such flat seams!  I barely had to iron it at all.
The Amateur Librarian // Fractured Fish Nine Patch Quilt
I quilted a cross hatch following the pattern – simple and easy straight line quilting.  One of these days I’ll get more creative with my quilting, but not this go around.  One step at a time… I’m just glad this is finally a finished quilt after so many years!
The Amateur Librarian // Fractured Fish Nine Patch Quilt
I banged out this finish in record time one afternoon, when I was on a roll after finishing up my Flying North quilt.  It made me reflect on how much more confident I am when it comes to quilting now!  I read a lot of fantastic quilt blogs, which is great for inspiration, but sometimes it also makes me feel like I have so, so much to learn and improve.  But compared to a few years ago, I’ve made a lot of progress!
The Amateur Librarian // Fractured Fish Nine Patch Quilt
The Amateur Librarian // Fractured Fish Nine Patch Quilt
I knew what materials to use and had them all on hand, basted it in about 15 minutes, came up with a (very simple) quilting plan pretty quickly, quilted with no snags or machine problems in about an hour, and finished up the binding that same afternoon (thank you, bias binding tape!).  It probably would’ve taken me many days to do the same steps a few years ago because I second guessed every single step along the way, but now I’m pretty comfortable with finishing up a small quilt in an afternoon.  So, three cheers for progress!
The Amateur Librarian // Fractured Fish Nine Patch Quilt
The Amateur Librarian // Fractured Fish Nine Patch Quilt
I used my new favorite pre-made double fold binding in red to finish it up.  I didn’t really have a name for it at first, but it became “Fractured Fish” as a nod to the fractured nine patch block and the Odesea fabric line I used.  So happy to have another completed quilt… it earned a top spot on the ladder!
The Amateur Librarian // Fractured Fish Nine Patch Quilt
The Amateur Librarian // Fractured Fish Nine Patch Quilt
I’m linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish Friday!

Project Pinterest: Flatbread with Grapes, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Onions

When we spent a night at Opryland, one of the appetizer specials listed at dinner was a flatbread with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and grapes.  We almost never order appetizers when we eat out, but it stuck in my mind… so when we got home, I went straight to Pinterest!
I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, but this one was pretty close so I used it as a starting point:
Below is my adapted recipe using store-bought flat breads.  Next time it would be fun to make my own dough, since flatbread is basically just a smaller, thinner pizza.  These would be great as an appetizer… but let’s be honest, I just ate them all by myself for dinner!
Flatbread with Goat Cheese, Grapes & Caramelized Onions
The Amateur Librarian // Flatbread with Goat Cheese, Grapes, & Caramelized Onions
Yields: 4-6 flatbreads
Time: About 1 hour
Ingredients:
4-6 small flat breads
1 onion, cut into slices
4 oz. goat cheese
1 cup grapes, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, pepper, & sugar to taste
Directions:
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on low-medium heat, then cut the onion into half moon slices and add to the pan. Per the original recipe, you want them to sizzle quietly and brown very slowly.  Sauté the onions for 15-20 minutes. While the onions are browning, cut the grapes in half.
The Amateur Librarian // Flatbread with Goat Cheese, Grapes, & Caramelized Onions
Add a teaspoon of sugar (optional) to the onions and let them caramelize for another 15-20 minutes until they look golden brown (a total of 30-45 minutes at this point). Add a splash of water and continue to sauté until the water evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Lay the flat breads on a cookie tray (I also used a sheet of aluminum foil underneath) and brush with a small amount of olive oil. Layer the caramelized onions on top, then the goat cheese and grapes.
The Amateur Librarian // Flatbread with Goat Cheese, Grapes, & Caramelized Onions
Cook for about 8 minutes in the oven until the cheese starts to melt.
The Amateur Librarian // Flatbread with Goat Cheese, Grapes, & Caramelized Onions
Ta da!  That’s it… all done.
The Amateur Librarian // Flatbread with Goat Cheese, Grapes, & Caramelized Onions
These tasted pretty good!  The crispy flatbread was a great vehicle for the mix of tangy goat cheese, sweet grapes, and savory onions.  They’d be great as an appetizer cut into slices, or everyone could have their own.  The onions take a while to caramelize, but I read in another recipe that you can make them ahead of time and just layer all the components at once and go straight to the oven – that would make it a super quick 8 minutes total!  I’ve never used flatbreads before, but there are definitely endless possibilities…
The Amateur Librarian // Flatbread with Goat Cheese, Grapes, & Caramelized Onions

Once again, hooray for Pinterest!

Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch Sampler: August

I’m a bit late with August’s update… I didn’t finish it up on time but now I’m back on track.  It’s been so much fun to see the months pass by while keeping up with the Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  Each month features a different fairy tale, and it’s so fun to find out what story will be revealed next!

I do most of my stitching on the weekend, and we went on so many mini-trips during August that I think that’s why I was scrambling to finish.  The Musicians of Bremen sure are cute… love the little animals all stacked up!  This month I decided to start collecting the Little Golden Book stories to go along with each month’s story… I need to fill in a few holes, but it’s a fun collection!

And now onto the progress pics:

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

And here are all the blocks completed so far:

The Amateur Librarian // OUAT Sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch Sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch Sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time sampler

 

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

The Amateur Librarian // Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler

The September block is out of course… Rapunzel!  I’ll try to keep up each month, so stay tuned for monthly updates…

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