Simple Macrame Bracelet DIY

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (10)For many of us, it would be very easy to complain about this long, cold winter that seems to be never ending. But, if you try to find the good, you might say one of the advantages to being stuck inside is having the opportunity to work on projects. Of course we have choices... organizing random things and cleaning out closets or dabbling in a little DIY. This week I chose DIY.

The other day I was in the mood to play around with some of my jewelry supplies. I wanted to do something simple that didn't take a lot of time so I decided to whip up a few bracelets, macrame style. And when I say, whip up, I mean it. Macrame is a simple project that anyone can do, including kids! Perfect for a rainy, or in my case, snowy day!

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (9)I love unique jewelry, especially bracelets that can be stacked together. This project is a very inexpensive way to add to your arm party! I don't really have a specific method for this because I just sat down and started playing but I'll give you a very simple overview of what I did.

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIYI started with just a few supplies: skinny waxed cotton cord, small crystal beads and some crystal buttons for the toggle clasp.

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (1)I threaded 4 very long strands of cord (more than double the length of the actual bracelet I was making) through the back of the button. The type of button I chose had a wire loop on the back which made threading easy. Standard buttons won't work.

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (2)I wanted to use small beads that could not be strung onto this cord so I added a piece of jewelry wire to the button. To keep it simple use beads that are large enough to thread onto the cord.

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (3)

I tied a knot at the end of the cord right under the button. Instead of cutting the excess cord, I taped it to a work surface to make knotting and beading easier.

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (4)I began to tie square macrame knots alternately with the outside strands of cord. The middle strands stay stationary through the entire process.

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (5)

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (6)After several knots were tied I added a bead. I tied the next knot right around the bead. If you are not using jewelry wire you will thread your beads onto the middle strands of cord.

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (7)I didn't count knots or beads so there is no rhyme or reason to these particular bracelets. You can always make patterns and count knots if you prefer a more uniform look. I was going for a less structured piece.

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (8)Once the bracelet was the length I wanted, I created a loop at the end of the cord that would fit over the button to close the bracelet.

Woven Beaded Bracelet DIY (11)

That's it! It really is easy but if you find these steps hard to follow and you need more help, you can find plenty of tutorials on Macrame on Pinterest or the internet! Try your own technique to make a more personalized piece. You really can't go wrong!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Leslie xo

Paper Flower Wall DIY

Paper Flower Wall via Leslie ReeseI am one of those people who is always looking forward to the next party or celebration. I just love making the most out of any holiday or event.  I absolutely loved helping two of my daughters plan their weddings and I honestly can't wait to do it again someday for the next one! I live for this stuff! What's fun is that each wedding is as unique as the people getting married. This past July Elizabeth and Jon got married at the Cork Factory Hotel in Lancaster, PA. Elizabeth had a vision and knew exactly what she wanted. In case you missed the last post, you can find a little recap here. It was truly a beautiful day. One of our favorite things from that day was the paper flower wall that stood as a back drop during the ceremony and reception. We made it ourselves. It was a labor of love and we were thrilled with the result. We thought it would be fun to share the progress of such a big project with you.

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (15) (640x489)It all started when we had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Martha Stewart Bridal Market Party in New York City last October. It was a real Who's Who in the event planning world. It was a fantastic night and as you can imagine there were amazing things to see and do. One of the things that caught our eye was the photo booth. The wall behind it was covered with white flowers. It was beautiful.

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (14) (640x426)At the time, Elizabeth was engaged and the minute she saw the wall she said " I want this at my wedding!" So naturally, since I'm her mom and a person who loves a creative challenge, my answer to her was " Then you shall have it!" We stood in awe of the wall taking pictures and examining the flowers. The whole thing was made from paper. It was so cool. No big deal...right? Well, sort of...

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (11) (640x426)Soon after we returned from New York City we began the process of making this wall happen. We had 9 months, which was plenty of time, but we couldn't find a how-to anywhere. Not on Martha Stewart's website and not even on Pinterest! So we decided to just figure it out. We started by making tons of paper flowers. We made patterns and cut them out of everything from single sheets of copy paper to rolls of craft paper. The varied weights in paper gave the flowers a few different looks.

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (12) (640x507)Elizabeth made a job out of designing and cutting paper flowers.

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (13) (640x426)We had flowers everywhere so we carefully attached them to a bare wall in our basement to keep them from getting wrinkled or torn.

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (4) (640x480)While we were creating the flowers, Jon and his dad constructed a 12' high by 8' wide wall that would wrap around the fireplace in the ballroom at the Cork Factory. We tested the fit before the big day to make sure it worked. The Cork Factory staff was fantastic to work with and were happy to accommodate us with this project. We just love them!

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (6) (480x640)Once the wall was constructed we attached the flowers to it. We used a combination of glue and staples.

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (5) (529x640)In order to make it portable Jon and his dad used five separate boards to create the wall. Three across the front and one on each side. They would all be attached together at the venue.

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (7) (480x640)Once most of the flowers were attached we stood each section of the wall up to see how it looked (it helped that Jon's dad's basement had high ceilings!). We added more flowers to completely fill the wall.

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (8) (501x640)The wall was transported to the venue the day of the wedding in a covered truck. A HUGE thank you to Jon's dad Glenn for making that happen!

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (640x426)When the wall was set up in the ballroom we touched it up with a few more flowers and a little bit of glue. We lined the base of the wall with glass vessels filled with water and floating candles. It softened the look and gave the wall a romantic glow.

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (1) (640x426)Mission accomplished!

Flower Wall DIY via Leslie Reese (3)This paper flower wall was truly a labor of love. Elizabeth had a vision and with some hard work and  the collaboration of some amazing people it became a reality. And it was perfect!

Have a beautiful day!

Leslie xo

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Cupcake-ProjectWell, she did it! She is Stefani Pollack, founder of Cupcake Project, a delightful blog devoted to everything cupcake! Last July Stefani began her search for the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake Recipe. She had already found The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake Recipe and was now ready to master the chocolate version. She sent out a call for help and from over 500 applicants she chose 50 Explorers to bake, taste and bake again. I was lucky enough to be one of them. The testing went seven rounds and almost a year later The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake was crowned! I had a great time participating in this project. I learned some things that will help me with my own baking projects so it was well worth every minute in the kitchen! Stefani was so much fun to work with and her determination to keep trying round after round was inspiring. I wanted to share my experience and her recipe with you. You'll want to hang onto this one!

Cupcake ProjectThe project began last July. Stefani would send all 50 Explorers a recipe and we would have to bake the cupcakes, taste them and fill out a survey tracking everything from taste and texture to quantities and bake time. If over 60% didn't like it, it was back to the drawing board and a new recipe. We baked a total of seven rounds before there was a winner.

Cupcake Project (1)We weighed and measured lots of different ingredients. We tried everything from buttermilk and sour cream to water and coffee.

Cupcake Project (2)We kept track of bake time, size and quantities yielded. Some recipes were really, really delicious and some were not. I can't imagine trying to round up 50 bakers' opinions and experiences, especially when everyone has different tastes. Stefani had quite a task on her hands but was determined to keep going. One of the worst parts for me was having to say that one of the recipes was not the ultimate when I knew it was one Stefani had a lot of faith in. I was not alone and we kept going.

Cupcake Project (3)Some of the recipes resulted in a delicious but flat cupcake.

Cupcake Project (1) - CopySome of the recipes were the opposite, nicely domed but not the best flavor.

Cupcake Project - CopyFinally, after seven rounds of baking and tasting, The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake was discovered! This one had the most amazing chocolate flavor AND the perfect texture for a cupcake. And most of us agree, it truly is an amazing chocolate cupcake! If you are a chocolate lover you will love this cupcake! Head over to Cupcake Project for the recipe and to learn more about Stefani Pollack!


Leslie xo

Ultimate-Chocolate-CupcakeClick Here for The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Photo credit for crowned cupcake: Cupcake Project

Wine Label Coasters - DIY

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (11)Today I am sharing a DIY with you that I came up with in the wee hours of the morning while I was lying awake in bed thinking. Don't you love when that happens? I do! I had been planning to make some coasters out of ceramic tiles and pretty paper. I was trying to come up with a unique way to do it and for some reason, I thought it might be fun to use wine bottle labels. Many of us save the corks from our favorite bottles of wine. I love that idea and I do it too, but what about the labels? Would that work on a coaster? It did work and I am going to show you what I did but I am also going to warn you, it wasn't that easy to get some of the labels off of the bottles! What seemed like a perfectly good idea in the middle of the night, turned into a tedious project that I was determined to complete but might not do again anytime soon. I do love how they turned out though so it was worth the effort.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie ReeseThis is a project that takes some time because you will be removing labels from empty bottles. Some of them will come off easily, others won't. In order to get several usable labels, you might go through twice the amount of bottles. I simply ran this bottle under hot water and the label peeled off without much trouble.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (1)I soaked this label in hot water and it still wouldn't come off so I wasn't able to use it.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (2)Eventually I had several labels I was able to use. If they were wet I waited for them to dry completely before I continued.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (3)To make the coasters I used 4" X 4" glass ceramic tiles I picked up at Home Depot, Extra-Strength Spray Adhesive to attach the labels to the tiles, Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating to form a water-resistant surface on top of the tile, and  felt pads for the bottom of the tiles.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (4)Some of the labels were bigger than the tiles so I marked them with a pencil once I placed them where I wanted them.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (5)I cut off the excess label.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (6)I flipped the label over and carefully sprayed it (in a well ventilated area) with adhesive. There were a few labels that still had adhesive on them after they were peeled from the bottle but I sprayed those too to make sure they didn't lift from the tile.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (7)Once the label was sprayed with adhesive I immediately placed it on top of the tile moving quickly to put it in place. This is when I realized just how sticky and permanent spray adhesive is!  If you do this, be careful. Cover your work area and if you touch the adhesive, like I did, and it gets all over your fingers, you can use baby oil to remove it. I was being a bit of a reckless crafter here! I get a little excited and move too fast at times! Oops...

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (8)Eventually I had four labels glued onto the tiles. I decided that was enough to make a set of coasters.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (9)I sprayed the top of the tiles with Acrylic Coating (again, in a well ventilated area). I waited for it to dry and repeated the process numerous times until the labels were well coated and the tiles had a nice shiny surface.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (10)After the tiles were completely (and I mean completely) dry, I flipped them over and attached four felt pads to the bottom of each one.

Wine Label Coaster DIY via Leslie Reese (12)I now have a set of coasters that are not only fun to use but make great conversation pieces. Each one tells a different story or has a special memory and for that reason, I loved creating them.

I did, however, learn a few things in the process that I think are worth sharing...

There are a million ways to remove wine bottle labels on the internet. Everything from soaking to buying special products. If you choose to do this, just Google it to find the best methods.

Spray Adhesive is serious stuff. Period.

Layers of Acrylic Coating need plenty of time to dry (especially if you don't want your wine glass sticking to it). If you think it's dry, it probably isn't.

Patience is a virtue.

It may not seem like it, but I want you to try this project. I just want to be honest about my experience. Basically, I got an idea, tried it, and learned a lot. Bottom line- I LOVE these coasters.

Be brave and try it! And by all means let me know if you do! I can't wait to hear all about it!

Leslie xo

Marble Cheese Board DIY

Marble Cheese Board DIY via Leslie Reese (640x419)A couple of weeks ago I shared a simple cheese board idea with you. I used an old cutting board, covered it with brown paper and added some of my favorite foods. It was quick and easy and made a perfect happy hour display. Today I thought I would show you how you can make your own cheese board using a piece of marble tile. It's ridiculously easy to do and very inexpensive. I don't think I spent more than ten dollars on this project!

Marble Cheese Board DIYI went to Home Depot and picked up a 12 x 12 piece of white marble tile in the flooring department for $3.99. I cleaned both sides of the tile with a product I use on my granite kitchen counters. You can use soap and water or anything that is safe for marble. The point is to get all of the powder and dirt off of the tile before you use it.

Marble Cheese Board DIY via Leslie ReeseI also bought a pack of 1 1/2 " heavy duty felt pad circles with adhesive backs at Home Depot. They cost $2.67.

Marble Cheese Board DIY via Leslie Reese Place a felt pad, sticky side down, in each corner, on the rough side of the tile.

Marble Cheese Board DIY via Leslie ReeseThe felt pads will keep the tile from scratching tables and counters and will also give the tile a little lift so it's easier to pick up.

Marble Cheese Board DIY via Leslie ReeseFlip the tile over and it's ready to use. Wipe it clean with a damp cloth or soap and water before you place any food on it. You can label your cheeses with a dry erase marker*. It will wipe right off when you are done! It's a little variation from the slate and chalk cheese boards that are so popular.

Marble Cheese Board DIY via Leslie ReeseThat's it! You now have a marble cheese board to serve your cheese and crackers and it only cost a few dollars! I can't think of an easier way to make something so useful. I plan to pick up a few more tiles so I can use them for a larger party. I think it would be fun to place them at different levels on a table for an eye catching appetizer display.

Have fun!

Leslie xo

*Please keep in mind that the tile used in this DIY is a simple marble floor tile. Marble is porous and I cannot guarantee that the dry erase marker will not stain any area of the tile. Test a small spot first before proceeding. I had no trouble with my tile staining. I wrote on it and erased repeatedly. Do not submerge tile in water once the felt pads are secured to the tile. Clean surface with soap and water.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters

Coffee Can Planters via Leslie ReeseWe had beautiful weather this past weekend and it was a perfect time to be out and about. As I've mentioned before, one of the things I like to do when I have some extra time, is to go wandering through antique shops. This time I had an idea and I was on a mission to find one thing; old coffee cans. I wanted to put some green plants in my kitchen so I thought it would be fun to find something other than standard pots to plant them in. I love how they turned out!

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie ReeseI didn't find anything in the first shop but as I kept looking, I found a few coffee cans scattered among some automotive containers. This Maxwell House can was only $1.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (1)I have never heard of Boscul Coffee but Arabian Mocha sounds good! This antique poster was $165. It made me wish I had a coffee shop to hang it in!

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (2)You just never know what you're going to find. This shelf full of coffee cans was at the last stop of the day. The prices ranged from $5 for the Sanka can to $34 for the Bokar can.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (3)I spent about $35 on 6 coffee cans.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (4)I stopped at a garden store to pick up some small plants after I bought the coffee cans. That way I could get plants that would fit nicely in the cans I chose.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (5)I was going to put the plants in plastic containers before placing them inside of the coffee cans to prevent water from leaking out, but it was challenging to find the right size. I decided to line the cans with plastic instead.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (6)I partially filled the plastic lined cans with potting soil.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (7)I placed the plant on top of the soil and filled it in with more dirt.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (8)I carefully trimmed the plastic around the inside edge of the can.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (9)When watering the plants, it's important to keep the water close to the plants and away from the edge of the can. That way the water will stay contained.

Vintage Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (10)I placed green moss on top of the dirt to keep moisture in, but also because I like the way it looks.

Coffee Can Planters via Leslie Reese (1)I now have some fun, colorful planters that look great in the kitchen and make interesting conversation pieces too! Such a simple way to create something truly unique.

Have a great Tuesday!

Leslie xo

Vintage Inspired Easter Egg DIY

Vintage Easter Egg DIYToday's post has a bit of nostalgia attached to it. As you may know, I am a person who loves holidays, tradition and the joy that comes with celebrating the little things in life. When we decorate for a holiday, some of the best memories are recalled when we unpack things that have been carefully tucked away for the past year. Whether it's something our children made or a gift from a relative, it sparks conversation and brings back a feeling of comfort and happiness. That's what tradition is all about, the feeling of being connected to something special. In our family there is a favorite Easter decoration that has been around as long as I can remember. It's a Sugared Easter Egg that my mom made almost 40 years ago. To my sisters and me, it represents the fun we had at Easter time when we were kids. This year I thought I would try to recreate what my mom made long ago. The process was fun and made me appreciate the effort she put into creating something like this while she had 5 little girls running around!Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (14)This is one of the eggs my mother made. I love the cellophane Easter grass and the little vintage rabbit inside. I remember watching her make these eggs when I was little. She was like the Martha Stewart of the 70's. She would give them as gifts to friends and a few of our favorite teachers. We laugh now at the thought of carrying one of these into the school! Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIYMy mom didn't save the recipe or how-to for these eggs. They are different than the ones you might see today on Pinterest. Instead of using liquid starch these eggs are made with a blend of sugar and glue to make them stronger and give them a more textured look. I used Mod Podge, a balloon, and colored string (all from Michael's craft store). Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (1)I carefully wrapped string around an inflated balloon. I started at the top and went all the way down and around a few times. Then I started wrapping in different directions. It's a little tricky at first but once the string goes around a few times it stays in place nicely. You don't have to completely cover the balloon. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (2)I suspended the balloon from the light over my table with some of the string. It was the easiest way to apply the sugar mixture and also allowed the balloon to keep its egg-like shape. If you can't do it this way you can suspend the balloon from a hanger on a kitchen cabinet or anywhere you have room. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (4)I mixed equal amounts of sugar and Mod Podge in a container and spooned it onto the top of the balloon. It goes on thick so I used a sponge brush to spread the mixture out and make sure most of balloon was covered. You will need to handle the balloon while you are doing this so it's a good idea to have a wet cloth handy to wipe off of your hands when you're finished with each layer. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (3)The excess mixture dripped into the pan. I waited for the first coat to dry almost completely before I added another layer. It's best to work in small batches so the glue doesn't dry out while you wait. Cover any leftover glue and rinse out the sponge while you wait for each layer to dry. I repeated this process until the balloon was almost completely covered and I had a texture  I liked. This took almost 2 days. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (5)When the coating on the balloon was dry and firm to the touch it was ready for the next step. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (6)I popped the balloon with a pin to release it from the string. It's so cool to watch what happens when you do this. If you have kids let them watch you do this step. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (7)The balloon will be stuck inside the egg and may be in two pieces. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (8)There will be a hole at the top of the egg where the balloon was knotted. Hold the egg upside down so that the balloon falls to the bottom and pull it through the hole. You might need to use tweezers to do this. You will notice that the balloon is wet. The inside of the egg will still be a little bit sticky. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (9)I cut a hole in the front of the egg with a pair of sharp scissors. If you aren't good at estimating you can draw the opening with a pencil first. Do this right away since the inside of the egg is still slightly pliable. Once you are finished stand the egg up on hard surface so the bottom dries flat.

Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (11)Instead of using lace like my mom did, I softened the cut edge in the opening of the egg by brushing it with a little bit of glue and sprinkling it with sugar. I filled it with a newer version of Easter grass and placed a chocolate rabbit inside. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (12)I added a little bit of bling to my egg by placing a pretty crystal broach in the hole at the top of the egg instead of ribbon. Sugared-Easter-Egg-DIY (15)I love looking at these eggs side by side. Not only is it fun to see how things change over time but it's awesome to think about what something so simple can represent; forty years of memories and tradition that will live on for many years to come. So what may look like a simple little Easter craft is really one of those little things in life that is definitely worth celebrating!

Have a beautiful day!

Leslie xo

DIY Metallic Confetti Bowl

Metallic-Confetti-BowlWhile recently browsing through Pinterest, I found a fun DIY project for an interesting little bowl made out of colored confetti. I wanted to try it but I thought it might be fun to do something a little bit different. I wanted to make a silver bowl so I decided to use metallic confetti instead. It turned out really cool and I learned a few things in the process. I'll show you what I did.

DIY-Metallic-Confetti_Bowl (1)You only need a few things to make this bowl: a balloon, confetti, a sponge or paint brush, a container of Mod Podge (you can get this at your local craft store), and a vase or something to set the balloon on while you work.

DIY-Metalic-Confetti_Bowl (2)Inflate the balloon and set it on the vase. Paint a layer of Mod Podge over the bottom half or third of the balloon (whatever size you want your bowl to be). 

DIY-Metallic-Confetti_Bowl (3)Sprinkle confetti over the balloon.

DIY-Metallic-Confetti_Bowl (4)I found it easier to hold onto the balloon when covering the sides with confetti.

DIY-Metallic-Confetti_Bowl (5)Once the balloon is covered, let it dry long enough for the first layer to stick, about an hour. Cover it with another layer of Mod Podge.

DIY-Metalic-Confetti_Bowl (6)Sprinkle with another layer of confetti. 

DIY-Metallic-Confetti_Bowl (7)You will need a couple layers of confetti to make the bowl sturdy enough to keep it's shape. I made this bowl with two layers.

DIY-Metallic-Confetti_Bowl (8)Set the balloon on the vase and let it dry overnight.

DIY-Metalic-Confetti_Bowl (9)The next morning, I noticed that my bowl had an odd shape to it. What I realized was the metallic confetti does not breathe the way paper confetti does. That caused the balloon to buckle a bit.

DIY-Metallic-Confetti_Bowl (10)I popped the balloon and removed it from the confetti. The bowl was actually a decent shape. I loved how it looked sort of artsy and wavy.

DIY-Metallic-Confetti_Bowl (11)The inside of the bowl was still wet because the Mod Podge did not dry completely overnight but the bowl felt sturdy.

DIY-Metallic-Confetti_Bowl (12)I trimmed the edges to clean it up.

DIY-Metalic-Confetti_Bowl (13)I painted a layer of Mod Podge inside the bowl to reinforce it and keep it from coming apart on the inside. I let it dry completely before filling it with colorful chocolate candies.**see note below

Metallic-Confetti-BowlI love this little metallic bowl because it's unique and makes a great conversation piece. It was an interesting project that got my creative juices flowing, giving me some other fun ideas in the process. I can't wait to get busy on the next one!

Have a great week!

Leslie xo

**Please note: Mod Podge is non-toxic but has not gone through FDA approvals to be considered food safe so if you decide to add something edible to your confetti bowl, like I did,  you might want to place another bowl inside of it first before filling.

Favorite Things

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (1)Tuesday I shared my daughter Elizabeth's bridal shower with you. I posted pictures and told you what a wonderful event it was. What I didn't tell you, was that the very next day we had another party. This one was for my daughter Lauren. She and her husband are expecting their second child in May. When we realized all of Lauren's aunts were going to be in the same place at the same time, we decided to celebrate! We threw a surprise "Sprinkle" for Lauren, which is a smaller version of a baby shower. We kept the party simple, just close family, and enjoyed a lovely brunch in a very laid back setting. I thought it would be fun to share some favorite shots from that day. Happy Friday!

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (3)A simple invitation was tucked inside a velum envelope filled with tissue paper confetti. Sprinkle_Baby_ShowerWe filled the drawers of a baby dresser with colored tissue paper and small gifts. It was a nice way to display a large item that could not be wrapped.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (11)We used colored sprinkles to decorate everything from food to flower vases.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (2)A thin glass vase filled with water and flowers was placed inside a larger vase. Colored sprinkles were placed in between the glass to create the illusion of one sprinkle filled vase.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (6)To keep it simple, we placed tissue paper flowers in the chandelier that hung over the table.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (4)Colorful polka dots complimented the sprinkles on the table.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (5)Fresh fruit was served in waffle cones.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (9)French toast souffle with maple syrup.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (10)Sun-dried tomato, asparagus and cheese Frittata.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (8)The Ducky Baby Shower Punch was a huge hit, and looked so adorable on the table.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (12)Festive punch cups! We brushed the rims lightly with Karo Syrup before dipping them in sprinkles.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (7)Strawberry Cheesecake Bites.

Sprinkle_Baby_Shower (13)Funfetti cupcakes with sprinkled frosting.

From weddings to babies our week was full of celebrating! It was challenging to keep details straight and secrets safe, but in the end, both parties were a huge success! Next up, a little rest and relaxation!

Have a great weekend!

Leslie xo

Bridal Shower Love

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (12)This past weekend was a very special weekend for our family. My daughter, Elizabeth, is getting married this summer and on Saturday, we honored her at a beautiful bridal shower, styled especially for her. It was an incredible afternoon spent with family and friends at a fabulous little bakery called The Baker's Table, in Lancaster, PA. The focus was on color, and a simple but hip, non-traditional theme. The result was a fresh, clean look in a comfortable setting and a very happy bride-to-be. I thought it would be fun to share photos from the day along with a few links on how and where to find some of the things we used. The shower was a collaboration between myself and Elizabeth's sisters, Lauren and Lynsie. Our ideas were simple but came together beautifully, creating a memorable event.

Elizabeth-Bridal-ShowerA beautiful 14' X 5' table, crafted out of wood beams that were a part of the original building structure, is the focal point in this space. We placed a gold Chevron Paper Runner down the middle of the table. Five large bowls of flowers were placed along the runner. We decided to go with lots of color instead of just the colors that were chosen for the wedding to make the table pop. Bear-grass, stretched between two vases, was used to create an archway between each flower arrangement.Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (1)Placemats with sketches of girls in pretty dresses were perfect for a bridal shower table setting. A bright yellow tissue paper flower filled with petite chocolate candies, was placed in the center of each one.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (2)A mason jar was used to hold the utensils and keep the placemats from looking cluttered. The idea came from The Baker's Table website. We used bright beaded bracelets for napkin rings and added a pretty paper straw to dress it up for a shower. The jars added something fun to the table and the bracelets doubled as a small favor for the guests.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (3)A sign made with satin ribbons and a wooden frame was used to direct guests to the gift table.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (8)A Blushing Bride Cocktail was chosen to toast Elizabeth on her special day. The bride-to-be, dressed in a coral sweater, is surrounded by her beautiful bridesmaids.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (5)The pastry chef at The Baker's Table made a delicious vanilla cake filled with chocolate mousse for Elizabeth. It was beautifully frosted with bright stripes of buttercream frosting.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (4)The Baker's Table celebrates baking and for that reason alone, it is the place to go for some of the most wonderful baked goods around. We incorporated some favorite desserts, in addition to the cake, so that guests could experience what The Baker's Table is all about.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (9)The desserts were served buffet style, which provided plenty of opportunity for guests to enjoy something sweet at their leisure.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (10)What's a bridal shower without something fun to do during gift time? These Shower Libs provided plenty of entertainment for the guests.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (6)Lauren and Lynsie came up with a game that was also quite entertaining. Wedding veils and bow-ties were glued to wooden dowels and guests were given one of each. The bridesmaids read answers to questions that Elizabeth and her fiance, Jon, had to answer before the shower. For example: We asked Elizabeth and Jon what their favorite color was. The answer was blue. Guests had to guess "who said it" and raise the appropriate stick, veil or bow-tie. It was a lot of fun.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (7)One of my greatest blessings in life is having four amazing sisters. Three of them now live on the West Coast. All four of them traveled home just for the shower. Not one of them gave it a second thought. Distance is not something that gets in the way of the most special occasions in our family. I will never take for granted how lucky I am to have these women as my best friends in life. Our weekend was full of laughing until we cried, catching up and celebrating some wonderful things.

Elizabeth-Bridal-Shower (11) (640x464)This is Elizabeth with her Mimi. My mother is the woman who we look up to, admire and adore. She is another wonderful blessing in all of our lives.

The party is over and my sisters are gone but hey, who said we can't plan another party? It's what my girls and I love to do and I can't wait to bring you the next one. There are some fun things on the calendar and I hope to share them all with you. Remember to have fun with whatever it is you are doing each day. It's the little things that make the difference!

Have a great week!

Leslie xo

Simple Painted Bar Glasses - DIY

Painted-Wine-Glass-DIYThis past week I was browsing Pinterest and I came across some interesting painted bar glasses. They were similar to glasses you would find at Anthropologie and I loved them. As usual, I had the urge to "make something" so I thought I would give them a try. They looked easy to make and since I have more on my to-do list than I have hours in a day, I figured it would be a perfect project to satisfy my creative mood, without throwing me too far off track. I grabbed some stemless wine glasses from the bar, picked up some paint and got busy. It was a simple project and I love how they turned out! I'll show you what I did.

Painted-Wine-Glass-DIY I used glasses that I already had at home. You can buy inexpensive glasses in places like Target or Walmart. The glasses from Anthropologie were speckled in bright colors. I decided to jazz my wine glasses up with metallic paint instead. I picked up some Martha Stewart Acrylic Craft Paint (multi-surface) at Michael's in 3 different colors, Pale Bronze, Brushed Bronze and Sterling.

Painted-Wine-Glass-DIY (1) (640x426)I worked on a large sheet of parchment paper. I know it's made for baking but I have tons of it and it works well for small projects. I squeezed quarter sized amounts of paint onto the paper. I added more when I needed it. That way it didn't dry out too quickly.

Painted-Wine-Glass-DIYUsing a Q-tip, I just started randomly painting little dots and smudges all over the bottom half of the glass.

Painted-Wine-Glass-DIYI worked with one color at a time and painted all four glasses, then started over with the next color. That way the paint had time to dry between each color and kept the dots from blending together.

Painted-Wine-Glass-DIYI created the look I wanted by layering the paint colors. When I finished painting the glasses, I let them sit for a day to dry. The Martha Stewart paint that I used needs to cure for 21 days and then the glasses will be top-rack dishwasher safe. I wanted to use my glasses the next day so I carefully hand washed them. They were fine. I probably won't ever put them in the dishwasher. Make sure you check the directions on your bottle of paint so you know how to care for your glasses.

Painted-Wine-Glass-DIY What's fun about this project is there really isn't a right or wrong way to do it. It's a quick and easy way to turn something ordinary, like an inexpensive glass, into something that makes pouring a drink a little more fun!


Leslie xo

Recycled Vintage Jewelry DIY

Vingtage-Jewelry-DIY (6)I love to go antiquing.  It's fun to wander through flea markets and antique shops to see what sort of treasure you can find. There is history attached to each item and the stories some of them tell are probably fascinating. Once in a while, I like to search through the jewelry and pick up different pieces that I can take apart and recreate. It's a great way to add something new to your accessory collection. Occasionally I'll find something valuable but most of the time I'll stick to inexpensive strands of beads that can easily be restrung. During my most recent visit to our local antique shop I found three random necklaces that I took home and turned into nine different bracelets.

imageYou can find cool stuff when you dig around. Some of it is really old and some of it looks like lasts years prom jewelry. Either way someone was finished with it and decided to part with it. You know what they person's junk is another person's treasure. I say, why not buy it cheap and turn it into something new?

Vingtage-Jewelry-DIYI have found everything from strands of vintage garnet beads to really old crystal but on this trip I settled for some old glass beads and a strand of chunky, black plastic beads.

Vingtage-Jewelry-DIY (1)I used my wire cutter to take apart the necklaces and separate the beads. You could also use scissors for necklaces that are made with string, like these were.

Vingtage-Jewelry-DIY (2)

Vingtage-Jewelry-DIY (3)I used 1mm stretch elastic to string the beads into bracelets.

Vingtage-Jewelry-DIY (4)I wanted all of the bracelets to be the same size so I measured each one and made them one inch larger than my wrist size. I made some using the same beads and some with a mix of different beads. I even used the clasp from one of the necklaces. I tied a double knot in the elastic once the bracelets were strung. *Note ~ You can place a dot of jewelry glue or super glue on the knot to secure it. Just be careful you don't glue your fingers (I speak from experience here!).

Vingtage-Jewelry-DIY (5)I now have nine different bracelets that I can stack and wear together or a few at a time with other jewelry. It took me less than an hour! It's a great way to recycle old pieces from your own jewelry box and save some money too! It's also a simple and fun project for kids. Just help them cut the strands and then let them get creative!

Have fun!

Leslie xo

Gingerbread Church

About twenty years ago, when my kids were little, I decided to try to make a gingerbread house. I loved to bake and I was pretty crafty so I figured it was worth a shot. I found instructions for a simple gingerbread house in a Martha Stewart Living Holidays book and the rest is history. I loved every step of the process and for years to come, I made a gingerbread house every Christmas. Then life got hectic, the kids got older (I know, shouldn't it be the other way around?) and I sort of fell off the gingerbread wagon. Well, this year I decided to jump back on so I got out my books, pulled the patterns out of the recipe cabinet and went to work. What I realized was, it's not hard to make a gingerbread house but it is time consuming. I forgot that part. I also realized I'm a little rusty. I made a few mistakes (I won't point them out) but I am in love with my gingerbread church and it feels like the good old days when there was one in the house every Christmas.

There are a lot of great resources to get you started. I am partial to books, probably because I like to collect them, but there are plenty of  resources online.

Decide what you want to make and cut out the pattern ahead of time. As you might imagine, this part is time consuming. Once you are done making your gingerbread house, save the pattern. If you ever want to make it again, you will be glad you have it.

When you are ready to get started, make your dough. I have a great Gingerbread Dough Recipe below.

Roll your dough and cut out your pattern.

It's not easy to move a piece of dough this big once you roll it out and cut it so I cut my gingerbread right on the parchment paper it will bake on. I slide a flat edge baking sheet under the paper when I'm done cutting and put it in the oven.

Once the gingerbread is baked, I slide the entire sheet of parchment paper right onto a rack to cool. 

To make stained glass windows, I baked the gingerbread 2/3 of the way and then took it out of the oven to fill the windows with crushed sour balls in different colors. I put the pan back in the oven to finish baking and to melt the candy.

Once all of the pieces were baked, I spread them out on a table. It's easier to put your structure together if you are organized.

Royal Icing is used to "glue" the pieces together. My favorite Royal Icing Recipe is below. I used a wooden board covered in brown paper as a base for the church.

I piped icing through a decorating bag with a round tip attached to construct the walls. It makes it easier to place the icing where you want it to go.

Start by securing one wall and carefully build from there. Royal Icing is thick and drys fast so the walls tend to stand on their own pretty easily.

Pipe thick lines of icing on the inside of the house.

I switched to a star tip to go over the icing on the outside edges. It looks prettier than a straight line. 

Once the walls were standing and dry, I decorated the outside with the Royal Icing.

I did this before I put the roof on.

I added some holiday decorations with colored icing and candy.

I decided to make chocolate shingles for the roof. I simply melted chocolate and spread it out on a tray covered in parchment paper. I put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes so the chocolate could harden slightly.

When the chocolate was hard, I cut it into small squares to make shingles and then broke them apart. You have to work fast when you do this because the chocolate will soften as you handle it.

Starting with the bottom edge and working in rows, I tiled the roof with chocolate shingles. I placed them swirled side up because I like the way it looked. 

I love to light up my gingerbread houses. I placed battery operated LED lights inside the church. Some patterns do not include a hole for lights so if you want to add lights, remember to cut a small hole in the back of the house before you bake it. 

Finally finished!

Happy Holidays!

Leslie xo

Gingerbread Dough

Author: Leslie Reese
  • 6 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup*
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar*
  • 1 cup margarine
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, and margarine in a 2 quart saucepan. Stir constantly over medium hear until margarine is melted.
  4. Stir the liquid into the flour mixture in an electric mixing bowl with paddle attachment. Mix on medium to high speed until well blended. Dough will become very stiff.
  5. Form dough into a ball and cover in plastic wrap.
  6. Refrigerate until dough is easy to handle**
  7. Roll dough on parchment paper about 1/8" thick and cut into desired shapes.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Check for air bubbles during baking process and prick with toothpick to deflate them ( I CAREFULLY tap them with my finger)
  9. Slide gingerbread onto large cookie sheet or baking rack to cool, making sure all pieces lie flat.

*Dark corn syrup and dark brown sugar may be substituted and will result in darker dough **Do not refrigerate dough more than a few minutes. You just want to cool it until it is easy to work with. This dough starts out a little sticky but becomes very pliable and is actually easy to work with. You can use a little bit of flour to get it started but after the first roll or two it will roll nicely with out it.

Royal Icing

Author: Leslie Reese
  • 3 eggs whites at room temperature
  • 1 16 oz box confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Place egg whites in an electric mixing bowl.
  2. Stir cream of tartar into egg whites.
  3. Add confectioner's sugar to egg whites and mix on low speed, scraping bowl, until well blended .
  4. Turn mixer on high and beat until mixture is thick and white and holds stiff peaks about 5 -6 minutes.
  5. Once the icing is finished you will want to cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap as it will dry quickly and form a crust.

Homemade Marshmallows

There is something fun about marshmallows. They add a little "happy" to campfires, hot chocolate and rocky road ice cream.  I have been wondering for some time, if it was easy to make homemade marshmallows. If it was, wouldn't those s'mores and cups of cocoa taste so much better? I see recipes and photos of pretty, fluffy white marshmallows and imagine the mess it must take to create one perfect batch. So I decided to try it myself. I found a recipe over at Smitten Kitchen and it looked like a good one, so I went for it, and it really was easy. There are a few steps involved but they are not difficult and the result was well worth the time it took. The best part was the taste. They were delicious!

You start by heating the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt.

You will need a candy thermometer to make marshmallows. You have to boil the mixture until the thermometer reaches 240 degrees.

The hot mixture gets added to a bowl of dissolved gelatin and is whipped with an electric mixer until it triples in size and is very thick and white.

You will beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. *TIP* I had my hot mixture whipping in the electric standing mixer while I beat the egg whites with a hand-mixer in a separate bowl. You could also do one at a time but I wanted to move a little faster.

You will beat the egg whites, sugar mixture and vanilla until combined.

When the marshmallow is mixed, it gets poured into a 13 x 9 pan that has been greased and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

The marshmallow has to be chilled for a few hours or overnight before it can be cut.

Once the marshmallow is chilled, it can be inverted onto a cutting board that has been dusted with confectioner's sugar.

If you are going to use cookie cutters to make marshmallow shapes, you will want to dip them in confectioner's sugar before each cut to avoid sticking.

Cut your marshmallow into desired shapes.

Once the shapes were cut, I dusted the marshmallows with confectioner's sugar to keep them from sticking (and because it looked pretty).

I decided to make marshmallow snowflakes. Most of them came out great. You can see how light and fluffy they are. Use your favorite cookie cutters or use a sharp, thin knife to cut squares. There were a lot of pieces left over once I cut out the shapes. I cut them into small pieces with kitchen scissors that were dipped in confectioner's sugar.

I am so glad I decided to try this recipe. It was a lot of fun and really easy to do. I will not hesitate to make my own batch whenever I need some marshmallows in a recipe or on a dessert bar. They really are that easy!

Have fun!

Leslie xo

Homemade Marshmallows

Author: Leslie Reese
Serves: Makes 1 13x9 pan
Adapted from [url href="" target="_blank"]Smitten Kitchen[/url]
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 3 1/2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup cold water divided
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  1. Grease bottom and sides of a metal 13 x 9 pan and dust with confectioner's sugar.
  2. In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water and let stand to soften.
  3. In a 3 quart heavy saucepan, cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, 2nd 1/2 cup of water and salt on low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240 degrees Fahrenheit, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
  5. With standing or hand-held electric mixer, beat mixture on high speed until white, thick and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer.
  6. In separate medium bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.
  7. Beat egg whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined.
  8. Pour mixture into baking pan.
  9. Sprinkle 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar evenly over top.
  10. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to one day.
  11. Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board.
  12. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut into squares or cut with cookie cutters dipped in confectioner's sugar.
  13. Toss marshmallows in remaining confectioner's sugar and put in storage bags or containers.

Pecans and Pretty Boxes

The holidays are in full swing and that means there are social events and parties on the calendar. I don't know about you but I am always looking for hostess gifts that are festive but useful too. This year I thought I'd take a simple recipe for Chinese Fried Walnuts, change it up a bit and put the finished product in a handmade holiday gift box that can be used again.

My mother has been making Chinese Fried Walnuts for years. I have memories of her frying them in the kitchen during the holidays and we would sneak a few when we walked by because they were so good. I love fried walnuts but I love pecans even more so I decided to switch out the walnuts for pecans this time to try something new.  They turned out great. Feel free to use walnuts though, if you prefer. They are delicious too!

Take about a pound of raw, shelled nuts (I am using pecans) and put them into a pot of boiling water.

Boil for one minute.

Drain the nuts and quickly rinse them in hot water.

Toss nuts in a cup of sugar.

Fry nuts in oil until they are light brown 3-5 minutes.

Carefully scoop nuts out of the oil and drain.

Cool nuts on parchment paper, then break apart. Store in an airtight container.

I wanted to give my nuts as hostess gifts so I placed them in a festive box. These pretty patterned gift boxes were actually purchased for the guests to use as take home containers at the candy bar at my daughters wedding. We simply hot glued an acrylic snow flake ornament (purchased at Michael's Craft Store) to the top of each box. We had some left over so I decided to get them out and use them for gifts this year. They are perfect for all types of small items and they can even be used as a decoration. It's a simple thing that makes presenting the gift a little more fun!


Leslie xo

Chinese Fried Pecans

Author: Leslie Reese
  • 1 lb pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
  1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add nuts and boil for one minute.
  3. Drain nuts in a colander and quickly rinse with hot water.
  4. Toss nuts with sugar.
  5. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  6. Add nuts to oil and fry until light brown, about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove nuts from hot oil with a slotted or mesh spoon and drain in a colander over saucepan.
  8. Spoon nuts onto parchment paper to cool.
  9. When nuts are completely cooled, sprinkle with salt to taste and break apart.

If you are placing nuts in a gift box or container that is not airtight, place them in a plastic bag first so they stay fresh.

DIY Jewelry Stand

When I was designing jewelry, I loved coming up with fun and unique ways to display it. I always felt like it was more interesting to look at when it wasn't all lined up in a box. I feel the same way about my own jewelry. I have a beautiful jewelry box where I keep good pieces of jewelry that need special care but I like to keep my fun costume jewelry on hand so I can grab what I want to wear quickly. Years ago I made my own displays using large wooden frames and wire mesh. I have simplified those displays to create a smaller version to put on my dresser. It's so simple and inexpensive to make, I thought I’d share how I did it.

You can pick up what you need at your local craft store. I don't think I spent more than $15 on this project.


  • wooden frame ~ I bought small wooden frames at Michael's for a dollar.
  • spray paint ~ I used a can of Krylon Short Cuts paint. It's a small can for only $3.29.
  • wire mesh or screen ~ I had extra screen left over from a window screen repair. You can buy either at a home improvement store.
  •  black wooden picture easel ~ $4.99
  • stapler
  • scissors
  • decorative gems ( optional ) ~ I found crystal buttons in my jewelry box so I used them as embellishments.

Cover your work area (in a well ventilated room) with newspaper. I painted in my garage.

Spray your frame with paint according to the directions on the can and let it dry. 

Once the paint is dry you can begin to assemble the jewelry stand.

Carefully cut the wire mesh to fit the inside of the frame. You will want the mesh to be a little larger than the inside of the frame but not so large it sticks out past the edge. You will be attaching the mesh to the back of the frame.

Carefully staple the mesh along the inside edge on the backside of the frame, keeping the staples about an inch apart.

When you flip the frame over, it should look like this.

If you want to decorate your frame, use hot glue or tacky glue to adhere gems to the frame.

I hot glued crystal buttons to the sides of my frame.

Place the frame on the easel and fill it with jewelry. I put a plain silver ring (used to make earrings) through the mesh so I could also hang my hoop earrings.

Try personalizing your jewelry stand by using different sized frames, painting them different colors or using different easels. A jewelry stand with a pair of earrings attached makes a great gift!

Have fun!

Leslie xo


Simple Dip-Dye Scarf

I was recently flipping through the October issue of my Martha Stewart Living magazine and was intrigued with some of the DIY projects that were scattered throughout the pages. I decided it was time to put one of them to the test to see if it really was as simple to do as they make it look. I decided to try a dyeing project. It was a how-to on creating a blue streaked scarf using a Dip-Dye method. There were very few materials or steps involved so I figured it had to be easy. I was right and the result was beautiful. Here is what I did.

Materials I used:

  • Fabric ~ I used cotton gauze fabric that was 80 inches long and 40 inches wide. I cut it in half lengthwise and had enough for two scarves. I could have also used a white scarf.
  • Liquid Dye ~ I used the color Royal Blue for this scarf
  • Dye Fixative
  • Clothes hanger with clips
  • 3 plastic bins
  • Iron

I folded my fabric accordion style and pressed it with an iron.

I mixed the dye according to package directions in the first bin. I put plain water in the second bin and I mixed the fixative according to package directions in the the third bin.

I folded the fabric in half width-wise and then clipped it to the hanger. I dipped the folded edge of the fabric into the first bin (the one with the dye).

I waited for the majority of the liquid to drip into the bin before moving to the next one.

Next I dipped the fabric into the second bin, which had plain water in it, to rinse the dye out. The dye quickly colored the water. When I put the fabric into the water past the dye line, the dye soaked up into the fabric resulting in a light blue top stripe. It wasn't intentional but I liked how it looked.

Next, I dipped the fabric into the third bin. The fixative in the water sets the dye.

When I was finished dyeing the fabric, it needed a place to dry. With gloves on, I carefully squeezed out the excess liquid. Then, I hung the clothes hanger right on the chandelier in my kitchen. It was hanging over the bin so it could drip and the table was covered with plastic and paper.

It took about a day to dry. Once it was dry, I unfolded it and pressed it slightly.

I love the idea of dip-dyeing. It was simple and fun. I guess those DIY projects are as easy as they look! If you want to check out the actual How-To on this project look in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine or the browse the dyeing projects at Martha Stewart online.

Have fun!

Leslie xo

Homemade Pasta

Every once in a while I get the urge to make homemade pasta. And then as soon as I make it, I ask myself why I don't do it more often. There is something wonderful about homemade pasta. It's delicious and worth the extra effort it takes to make it. Especially when you have the kitchen tools to do it, which I do. So, this week I decided it was time to make homemade pasta.

A long time ago, my Italian grandmother made pasta the old-fashioned way, with a rolling pin and knife. She would go down to the kitchen in her basement to make it. I remember watching her make a well of flour on her marble table. She would add some eggs and a tiny bit of water. I like to make my dough the way she did. I used about 3 1/2 cups of flour, 4 large eggs, a few tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt. 

I mixed it by hand.

Until it came together and formed a ball.

Once the dough was pretty well mixed I divided it into four parts.

Next, I got out the Pasta Roller & Cutter Set that attaches to my Kitchen Aid mixer. My kids gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago and I love it. It's so much fun to use, and definitely one of the coolest kitchen appliances I have.

I attached the pasta roller first. It fits onto the front of the mixer and it will spin automatically when the mixer is turned on.

The dough goes into the top of the roller and is kneaded and thinned out as it is pushed through the other end. When you use the Kitchen Aid and the attachments, you don't have to knead the dough quite as much by hand. The roller does it for you.

I put the dough through a couple of times until it was smooth.

I adjusted the rollers to make the dough a little thinner.

I decided to make fettuccine, so once the dough was as thin as I wanted it, I attached the fettuccine cutter to the mixer and ran sheets of pasta through it one time.

I rolled the fettuccine into little nests and set them on parchment paper to dry. Any really long strands were cut in half first.

Then I did something different with the rest of the dough. I told you how my grandma made pasta by hand a long time ago. Well at some point she started using a manual, or hand crank, machine. I was fortunate enough to inherit that machine before she passed away and I will treasure it forever. I decided to get that machine out of the box and make the rest of the fettuccine with it. It was very nostalgic.

My grandma had a long wooden rolling pin and she would roll her dough until it was as thin as she wanted it. Then she cut the dough into sheets to put through the manual machine. I used sheets of dough that were already thinned out from the pasta roller on my mixer.

The manual machine has different sized cutters for making fettuccine or spaghetti.

The fettuccine turned out perfect. It might have been even better than the pasta made from the automatic machine. I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that my grandma's pasta machine holds a lot of memories and wonderful stories. She would probably be smiling right now, knowing that even though I had a way to make it easier, I was still happiest making pasta the way she did, and with her machine.

We had fettuccine for dinner that night. I boiled the pasta until it was al dente and topped it with homemade marinara sauce and grated cheese. It was delicious. I am going to try not to wait so long until I make homemade pasta again. Maybe next time I'll try ravioli...

Mangia, Mangia!

Leslie xo

Photos by Leslie Reese and Lynsie Reese

Simple Dessert Bar

This past weekend I had the opportunity to help my daughter, Elizabeth, host a bridal shower in our home for her best friend, Brittany. It was an intimate party with a simple but elegant theme. We decided to make use of the space we had and created a dessert bar right on the window sill in our dining room. The result was a pretty display that was easy to put together, out of the way and fun for the guests. We made it completely self-serve and included a selection of miniature desserts so that we could offer a nice variety without going overboard since this was a small party.

The decorations were simple as well. Elizabeth made three large flowers out of white tissue paper and we placed them on top of apothecary jars that had the lids removed. Very inexpensive! The desserts were placed on two of the dessert stands that we made ourselves and a glass cake plate. Napkins, plates and a serving spatula were placed around the stands. The guests loved the display and were able to mingle with their dessert and coffee in a relaxed atmosphere. I love how something so simple can feel so elegant.

These Apple Pie Bites were adapted from a recipe that Elizabeth found on Pinterest. Not only were they adorable, they were delicious! Perfect for a dessert bar!

Brownie Pops. Probably the easiest dessert you could ever make! Elizabeth and Brittany share a love for Ghirardelli brownies so it was only fitting that they were part of this display. We stepped them up a notch by cutting them into petite squares and adding a stick! 

These Cheesecake Pops were a hit and quite literally addictive! Made with a frozen cheesecake from Costco and dipped into melted chocolate, they couldn't have been easier to put together. 

Celebrating should be fun, not complicated! Here are the recipes we chose for our Simple Dessert Bar.


Leslie xo

Apple Pie Bites

Recipe Type: dessert
Author: Leslie Reese
  • Apple Pies
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 package refrigerated pie crust
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • 2 medium tart apples cut into wedges
  • Glaze
  • 1- 1 lb box of Confectioner's sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter softened
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Apple Bites
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside 1 tablespoon.
  3. Unroll pie crust onto floured surface and brush with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar.
  4. Cut pie crust into 1 inch strips. Wrap one strip around one apple slice with the sugared side in. Continue with remaining dough and apples.
  5. Brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  6. Place apples on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
  7. Serve warm topped with glaze.
  1. Combine butter, milk and vanilla in a bowl. Slowly add Confectioner's sugar until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  2. Place glaze in a pastry bag fitted with a round decorating tip and pipe onto baked apples. You can also put your glaze in a plastic bag and cut the corner to pipe your icing.
Brownie Bites

Recipe Type: dessert
Author: Leslie Reese
  • 1 box Ghirardelli Brownie mix
  • Ingredients listed on box
  • White lollipop or cake pop sticks
  1. Bake brownies according to package directions using a square 8x8 or 9x9 pan.
  2. Set aside to cool.
  3. Once brownies are cool, cut into small 1 1/2 " squares.
  4. Place a stick into each brownie, pressing sides in slightly to hold if necessary.

What's nice about this recipe is that you can make as many cheesecake pops as you need. Servings will vary depending on the size of the cheesecake you start with and what size you make your pops.

Cheesecake Pops

Recipe Type: dessert
Author: Leslie Reese
  • 1 frozen cheesecake
  • 2-3 containers of Baker's Dipping Chocolate (milk chocolate, heat & dip)
  • White lollipop or cake pop sticks
  1. Remove cheesecake from freezer and let it sit for a few minutes until it is soft enough to work with but not completely thawed.
  2. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop cheesecake and roll into balls. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  3. Insert a stick into each cheesecake ball. Place tray in freezer for at least an hour or until firm.
  4. When you are ready to dip the cheesecake, melt chocolate according to package directions.
  5. One at a time, dip balls into chocolate, tapping gently to remove excess and place back on cookie sheet.
  6. Place pops in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Photos by Leslie Reese



DIY Dessert Stand

I've always been a creative person and I love trying new things. Last year I needed a holiday gift idea for my girlfriends and when I couldn't find what I was looking for, I thought it might be fun to make them something. I hadn't done that in a while and I was in the mood to get "crafty" so I figured it was time for a DIY project. I decided to make dessert stands so, naturally, I went to Pinterest for some ideas. There were so many different styles and techniques. People were using everything from glass and glue to wood and paint. After researching different options, I came up with a way that worked for me. My result was an inexpensive and durable, not to mention pretty, dessert stand that was easy to make and fun to use. This is how I did it.

You will need to gather some supplies:

  • plastic plate  ~ I bought the plate for this stand at Target. It is a 12" square. You can use any size you like.
  • wooden candle holder ~  I used a 6" candle holder from Pier 1 for this stand. I have also used 12" candle holders for taller stands.
  • glass cabinet knob ~ You will need a standard cabinet knob (not a drawer pull). I found them at Home Depot.
  • hanger screw ~ I used a 2" hanger screw for this stand. A hanger screw is threaded on both ends (also at Home Depot).

You will also need some tools:

  • drill & drill bits ~ You will need one drill bit that is slightly thinner than the hanger screw (about 1/2 the diameter) This one will start the hole for the hanger screw to go into the candle stick. You will also need a drill bit that is slightly larger than the hanger screw. This one will make the hole in the plate.
  • pliers
  • pencil
  • measuring tape or ruler


Step 1: Working on the top side, measure and then mark the center of the candle holder with pencil.

Step 2: Carefully drill a hole straight down into the candle holder where you put the pencil mark. Hold the bottom, not the top of the candle holder with your other hand. You are just drilling a starter hole which only needs to be about 1/4 of the total length of the hanger screw.

Step 3: Using the pliers, screw the hanger screw (the side with the large threads) straight into the hole you just made. Carefully hold onto the center of the screw with the pliers while you are turning it so you don't damage the threads.

Step 4: Turn your plate over. Measure and then mark the center of the plate with a pencil.  Keeping the plate turned over, place it on the end of a table or workbench. I highly recommend a work bench or outdoor table and not a kitchen counter or table! Holding onto one end of the plate and making SURE the middle is NOT on the table, carefully drill a hole through the center of the plate.

If you drilled properly, you now have two pieces of a dessert stand that need to be put together. If you didn't, just try again and be glad the plates were cheap!

Step 5: Place your plate over the screw on top of the candle holder.

Step 6: Twist your cabinet knob onto the screw and tighten until everything is secure.

You now have a pretty little dessert stand that can be used for serving cookies, candy or even simple hors d'oeuvres!

It's that easy! There are so many options when you start mixing color and style. I like looking for different shapes and sizes of plates and candle holders. Since I gave my dessert stands as gifts, I wrapped them with things like dessert napkins and decorating sprinkles. It would even be fun to add recipes or a favorite batch of cookies!

Have fun!

Leslie xo

*TIP* Do not submerge your dessert stand in water. Wipe clean with a damp cloth and dry. Although you can disassemble the dessert stand, I don't recommend doing it often because the screw may become stripped after repeated knob removal. While I personally love the idea of switching out the plates, I don't think the stand would last as long if I did that.

Photos by Leslie Reese