Thursday, 27 April 2017

Are You a Thrift Shop Explorer?

I admit that I am. My home looks like I have traveled the world. I have got lots of global influences and peculiar bohemian objects in my home. When I see someones old souvenirs at the local thrift shop I begin to wonder where those are from and what kind of place it has been. Especially retro and vintage souvenirs boost my imagination because travelling used to have a bit more excitement in the old times when it was not such a common thing. Somehow those objects take me to another place and time. I also like to find things that are related to travelling and gathering knowledge like old books and maps. Old encyclopedias and map books open a world that does not exist anymore. Even though that world is not always a better one it gives a place to travel with your imagination and picture it more romantic.



Nowadays global bohemian style seems to be very popular and there are specialized shops that sell items to go with that style. Some businesses support local craftsmanship some just focus on creating products that look like they are from certain, currently popular, area. I buy new home decor items quite rarely because trends go so rapidly and new begins to look old too soon. Things that I buy second hand hold more time because they are not so easily marked by the season. There is also the money issue. It makes a difference whether the object costs 1€ or  10-30€. It is accessible to make a whole new look using thrifted items compared to buying all new.

I am always after interesting home decor and fabrics. I mix these finds with domestic decor to find the exotic side that is not always easy to see in more familiar objects. For example current Nordic style is minimalist but old Finnish folklore patterns used in handicrafts are as decorative and colorful as anywhere else. It is interesting how same kind of patterns appear all over the world but just in a slightly different form and color. It is sometimes just easier to see how beautiful fashionable foreign home decorations look than the old and ordinary near to you.


Can you spot the Finnish items in this picture?



Last week I found hanging baskets from a thrift shop. On Pinterest there has been a lot of inspiration on how to decorate with plants. The more the better seems to be the guideline. I fell in love with how the plants had been lifted near the ceiling creating a jungle like look. The moment I saw the basket hangers I knew I had to try that style in my own home. These two hangers then changed the whole home decor! Because this year spring and summer seem to come late (it has been snowing!!) I needed to create a corner that would bring in the summer in advance. I gathered all my plants to one place to have a green spot. I placed my working table to the same place to have more natural light when writing. I also collected objects that connote to summer in my mind like shells and stones. I took two old maps that have been inclusions of a book. I had framed the black and white map before on a smaller frames but now as I wanted it to go with the bigger map I framed it with wider passepartout. The other day I visited a small charity shop in case there would be any objects to complete the style. There is always a basket where you can take things for free and I found lots of interesting objects like two wooden bowls  (see below). I would still need more mini size baskets to put in the six loops in the bigger basket hanger. Well, one has to have projects! It would be horrible to get all projects finished, right? :D





Have fun for the last 4 days of April, soon it is May!

Sannu

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Delicious Food for the Easter Menu

Happy Easter week! It is time for some food inspiration. What I love about Easter is that stores begin to offer spring and summer flavors like new potatoes, asparagus and courgette. Yet the weather is a bit chilly which gives a nice excuse to serve dishes with warm spices and lot of taste. This Easter I come with three new (lacto-)vegetarian recipes to include to the Easter menu: Spicy Amaranth Chickpea Patties, Festive Asparagus Potato Salad and Courgette Tomato Focaccia.



Spicy Amaranth Chickpea Patties work in the Easter buffet as a vegetarian option but are also a great evening snack when reading a book or watching telly. Amaranth was a new thing for me before I came across with a package at the local grocery store last week. Of course I had to try it, just google it and you will learn how great it´s nutritional values are. If something has nourished us for 8000 years it must be working! If you taste bare cooked amaranth the first time you might find out that the taste is quite strong. The taste reminded me from beetroot and spinach. When combined with chickpeas you will get a great texture. Sweet sun dried tomatoes, garlic and basil make these patties so tasty they will vanish from your plate before you get an Instagram picture (at least I had major problems not to eat all before getting pictures :P).



Asparagus is one of the signs of spring. When piles of asparagus arrive to the stores I pick a package and eat it cooked with melted butter. In this festive salad I combined the asparagus with new potatoes, parsley, salad cheese and olives. This salad is also a beautiful dish to put on your Easter menu, just place the asparagus buds as a final touch to the surface to make it look even more luxurious.

I still remember the first time I tasted focaccia. It was 2009 and my first trip to London. It tasted so delicious with tomatoes, garlic and red onion as a topping. Same time it was savory and sweet. It would be so wonderful to have this courgette focaccia, dark coffee and orange juice as a breakfast on Easter morning. It would taste equally as good in an Easter menu with great salad. It is you to choose if you can save it for dinner!


Spicy Amaranth Chickpea Patties

1 1/2 dl dried chickpeas
3/4 dl amarantha
1 large onion
vegetarian oil
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp talkkuna flour (I think chickpea flour would also do)
1/2 fresh basil
1/2 dl sun dried tomatoes in oil
olive oil
breadcrumbs
spices: 
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
NB! You can put less or more spice according to taste!


1. Let the chickpeas be over night in cold water and then cook with little bit of salt. Let cool down.
2. Cook amaranth according to the package. Let cool down.
3. Mince the onion and sweat with vegetarian oil. Add spices to the mix and heat for while. Take off from the heat.
4. Mince the sun dried tomatoes, garlic and basil.
5. Put ingredients together and squash with hand blender. Add talkkuna flour and lemon juice. Mix properly.
6. Put breadcrumbs to a bowl. Using two spoons lift a small amount off pastry to the bowl and cover with bread crumbs. Take the soft pastry lump from the breadcrumbs and form it to a patty and lift to the baking paper. Make about 16 patties. 

7. Brush some olive oil to the patties and bake 25 minutes in 200 Celsius degrees.

8. Serve with a dip sauce.

***


Festive Asparagus Potato Salad

asparagus
small new potatoes
cherry tomatoes
sweet red paprika
1/2 onion
parsley
black olives
salad cheese in oil & herbs
lemon juice


1. Cook asparagus and potatoes separately. Rinse cooked asparagus in cold water. Chop both asparagus and potatoes to large bites.
2. Split cherry tomatoes and olives. Chop the red paprika. Rinse 1/2 dl parsley. Mince the onion.

3. Mix all ingredients together. Add salad cheese. Add lemon juice according to taste.

***


Courgette Tomato Focaccia
1/2 courgette
3 garlic cloves
olive oil
cherry tomatoes
black olives
salt
rosemary

7 g dry yeast
6-7 dl wheat flour
1/2 dl graham flour
3 dl warm water
1/2 dl (garlic) olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp salt

1. Mix together dry yeast and 1 dl flour. Add 3 dl warm water and mix. Add 1/2 dl olive oil, sugar and salt. Mix properly. Mix in graham flour. Add flour little by little kneading properly. Stop adding more flour when the dough is firm and starts to leave from fingers. Let the dough raise for 30 minutes.


2. Put a baking paper to a baking tray. Lift the dough to the tray. Using your hands spread the dough evenly to the tray. Using your fingers make little holes to the surface. Pour some olive oil to the surface. Massage finely minced garlic and salt to the surface. Press courgette slices, chopped olives and tomatoes to the dough. Sprinkle little bit oil to the veggies plus the rosemary to the top. 


 3. Bake 15-20 minutes in 225 Celsius degrees. 


***





Have you already planned your Easter menu? Do you favor vegetarian or meat dishes? What is your must have to the Easter table?

I wish you all a wonderful Easter week!

Sannu

Friday, 7 April 2017

Easter DIY Week Part 3: Decorative Bird Nest


Can you believe that it is already Friday? Where has this fun and inspiring week gone? I have to say that I really enjoyed making this 3 part Easter DIY series. It was nice to plan the ideas, style and take photos. I had problems waiting for the Easter DIY days, as I wanted to show you my projects right away! Making a small series gave me needed routine and schedule with planning, making, writing and editing, something I have been trying to find since I started blogging. Maybe I will do something like this in the future with different theme.

This week included also time for reflective work as I went through my DIY and furniture makeover archives. I truly recommend for you to do the same thing because you might find out how much work and projects you have done. It is good to sometimes start from an empty desk: look back to thighs you have finished, be proud and then begin to plan new projects. In a constant producing mood it is difficult to understand the whole picture of your work and to where you are aiming at.

Now to the last part of this Easter DIY series. Because last year I decorated so many beautiful eggs I decided that this year I won´t make any new ones. Instead I thought it might be fun to make a decorative, go with the style, bowl for the eggs. I have seen many beautiful egg decorating ideas on blogs, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter so I know there are plenty of excellent projects to try! It seems that decorating eggs is a key part of Easter decor in all over the world. Not to forget the chocolate eggs :P In the Christian tradition eggs symbolize the resurrection. Here in Finland eggs and dishes with eggs play one of the main parts on Easter table. Even though you would not fast before Easter (leaving meat, eggs and dairy) it has become a tradition to include eggs to the Easter menu as a mark for the end of the fast. 

To celebrate the beautifully decorated eggs I made these rustic paper mache bowls with golden inside. The bowls look like bird nests when you put in some paper confetti made of old book pages and a few eggs or other Easter decorations like birds or bunnies. Because it is Easter and everything is a bit upside down it is only natural to put bunny or even a rooster next to the eggs. It is quite common to hear that Easter bunny shares the eggs but have you heard about Easter rooster that lays the eggs? Decorative bird nests would look beautiful as a headpiece on a table setting with lots of eggs and flowers. One idea would be to make smaller bowls and place one on every eater´s plate with a wrapped chocolate egg in it. I styled the bowls and eggs to a cabinet with old books and bunnies to make a romantic arrangement. Now I will show you the basic technique, which is super easy, so you can make these bowls on any size you need!

***

You will need
-White paper mache (sold in bigger stores and craft shops)
-Plastic knife
-Cling film
-A pot or bowl that is the size you want the paper mache bowl to become
-Water
-Golden acrylic paint
-A brush
-Old book pages or decorative tissue paper


Step 1. Put the bowl upside down and wrap in the cling film.


Step 2. Start taking lumps of paper mache and covering the bowl. If the paper mache is a bit dry wet your hands. It is also easier to mold the paper mache with wet hands. Start using the knife to spread the paper mache evenly to the bowl surface.


Step 3. Decorate the paper mache bowl by making patterns with the knife. Let the work dry properly.


Step 4. Remove gently the bowl from the bowl that worked as a mold. Don´t be afraid of little cracks, you can mend them!


 Step 5. Mend the little cracks with paper mache. This one has been mended and after it has dried it has no marks of mending.



 Step 6. When the bowls have completely dried paint the inside with golden acrylic paint. Use two layers if needed.


Step 7. Fill with paper confetti and decorative eggs.


***

I really love the organic shape of the bowls. You could style these extra modern or romantic as the style goes for both. These are quick and easy to make in any size. Making process is quick and it takes about 24h the bowls to dry so this is a perfect project to do at Easter week some days before the celebration.





This style is perfect for a book worm like me. I think books are always a good choice to decorate and create a cozy atmosphere for home. If you wonder how the eggs have been decorated check my 10 Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs and learn more.

Hope you have fun time crafting Easter decorations or what ever projects you are up to this weekend! If you liked my Easter DIY projects please share on social media <3

Happy Friday Everyone!

Sannu

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Easter DIY Week Part 2: Nordic Style Easter Grass Planters


Today it has been Easter weather: snow is melting rapidly, there are already small spots of bare ground in the middle of snowy forest, sun is shining and birds have begun to sing louder that some weeks ago. Of course it also means muddy streets with big water ponds but after all this all means that spring is coming on a fast speed. Now it is possible to think that there will be green grass, hot summer days and sunny nightless nights. Easter is a gate for coming spring and summer. I saw people spreading last piles of snow to make it melt faster. Stores are selling narcissus and lilies. It is said that on Easter morning sun rises dancing, which is easy to believe while looking the current weather and people´s moods. Everything is so alive! Have you counted from your Easter twigs how many days it took to get green leaves? In the old times people told from the amount of days to how many weeks it was for trees to get their small leaves.

One part of Easter is the celebration of new life and coming spring and to that green grass is an essential decoration. How many of you have grown grass in used butter box or milk can as a child? Easter grass is like a small piece of summer on a plate. Especially in these levels when there is still snow on the ground, in Easter grass one can smell the soil and growth. Usually little yellow chicks, bunnies or colorful eggs decorate the grass. Today as it is time for the second part of Easter DIY Week I am making a modern Nordic style inspired version of Easter grass planter. You can make this small and relatively easy project just in time to grow grass for Easter. In the honor of the tradition to use milk cans as a growing pot I am making my planter from an old food tin. Although you won´t be able to notice that after it has been decorated! These stylish planters would look perfect in modern Easter table setting and they fit perfectly even for a narrow window sill. You can use what ever suitable wooden material you find from your cup boards or local thrift shops. I happened to find a package of unused coffee stirrers from a thrift shop but you can use for example ice cream sticks. I also noticed that crafts shops sell same kind of wooden sticks.

***
For one planter you will need 
-properly washed food tin
-wooden coffee stirrers or for example ice cream sticks
-thin plywood
-wooden buttons
-short wooden candle stick or other similar lathed wood object
-strong glue
-Japanese saw
-sandpaper
-pen


Materials. I made two planters. One with candle stick and another with old door knob as a leg. I had to saw off that extra piece from door knob before I could use it in this project. All materials are thrifted except the plywood and used tin.

1. Using tin as a model draw a circle to the plywood and saw it off. Sand the edges. It does not have to be perfectly round as you decorate it with wooden buttons.
2. Glue coffee stirrers to the tin can and put two rubber bands around the tin so that the stirrers won´t bend. Let dry properly.


3. Glue the wooden candle stick to the middle of the plywood circle and decorate the rest of the circle  (+ candle stick) with wooden beads. Now you have the leg for your planter. Let dry properly.
4. Glue the decorated tin to the candle stick and let dry properly.
5. Planter is ready to use! Put some small stones to the bottom and fill with soil. Spread the seeds and water.


***




These planters get their finishing touch from the green grass that is allowed to be in the main role against the modest planter. It almost looks like the wooden parts are the roots for the green sprouts. In a table setting you could also use tall white table candles in some of the planters, just remember to be careful with fire and don´t let the candle burn too low. Also remember to attach the wooden leg properly to the tin.




The last 3rd part of the Easter DIY Week comes on Friday! I can reveal that you will see organic shapes and golden shine :) While waiting for Friday check my DIY page for more DIY ideas and inspiration!

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Sannu

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

12 Months of Furniture Makeovers


Today I am looking back in time and browsing my picture files for furniture DIY  projects that I have made during the past year. Sometimes it feels like where has the time gone! Like the last spring would have been a minute ago. I began to ask myself what have I been doing for the past 12 moths. One of the things on my to do list has been to update my DIY page for this blog. When I started going through my posts I was surprised about the amount of posts. DIY related posts including these furniture makeovers are now listed on my DIY page.

When I counted how many furniture DIY projects I have made it seems that I have been making on average one project per month! Considering how time consuming these kind of bigger projects are it seems that this is what I have been doing quite a lot for the past 12 months:


The project that I am working on in this picture was maybe one of the two major projects that I made during the year. I have had this wooden bed for years and I had dreamed for years to get all those thick layers of paint removed. Removing paint is actually a lot more work than painting some layers more. But it was summer and I had tons of energy so it was time to take action.



And was I pleased with the result? 100% Now you can see the wood and beautiful original tones that were hidden under the layers. With the same energy boost I had already painted the cabinet and sofa table. Which seems to be the pattern of behavior, when I start something it turns into snowball effect where the paint brush moves from furniture to another and in this case also to the wall.


This is another major project I made. The drawer was broken to pieces when I found it from the garbage. I wanted to test if I can make a total makeover to it. It was a lot of work but at least I proved to myself that there is always a way to re-use material.



This is how the kitchen looked like the last spring. Cabinet behind the table is a DIY project from fall 2015 and is now in the living room.


After the Christmas 2016 I wanted to have some contrast to this space so I quickly updated the chairs and table with chalk paint.



This is my latest furniture makeover that some of you might remember. I removed the paint and painted/ waxed this table on March this year. I am thinking about making my TV table same way leaving the wood show on the cover.



This is also quite recent and from this year. I needed color for my entrance and I also wanted to test painting with a template. Definitely going to try it again, it was so much fun and easy way to get an interesting piece of furniture.



This chair is actually the first to get into the last 12 months. Chair was found from the garbage and it had already served me for some time. Because it was spring and I wanted lighter colors to my apartment I painted the brown 80s chair with pink.



This stool I made on last fall. I tested if plastic surface can be painted with chalk paint. It can! I used primer, chalk paint and antiquing wax. The surface is still good as new even though it has been on a rough use as a holder for big plant pot that gives a bit of water off from the bottom.



Another stool from garbage. With this stool I practiced decorative painting. Furniture found from garbage or from a thrift shop at a low cost are good for trying new techniques. Usually the end result is better than the before :)



This wooden floor lamp was from a thrift shop and got a makeover this year. I want to have a bit different furniture and decorations so going to thrift shops is a must! 




This cabinet is a good way to end this post. When I painted this cabinet last fall I showed you pictures how it has looked before as wooden and light blue. And that is actually the point in making these makeovers, you always fall in love with the same old furniture you have when you give them an update with color or sandpaper. It is a great way to save money to keep your eyes open when you walk through the streets and thrift stores. For me making DIY projects has become a lifestyle. I have got more ideas than I space to put them. It was eye opening to look at the old posts and live through the old projects. It has been lot of work, but work I have enjoyed every minute! Why else would I be taking new and new projects all the time. Sometimes during the dark mid winter months it has been competition against time because days are short and it is hard to find enough time. But then I remember how relaxing it is to work on long summer days when there is light and time.

Do you enjoy furniture makeovers? What have you been making lately and what have been your favorite projects?

I have already planned new projects for spring and summer... lost case :)
Sannu