Thursday, September 25, 2014

DIY Banner Bash

DIY Banner Bash


Decorating for each season can be a lot of fun, but it can also turn out to be a major investment.  I always love all the festive trimmings that you see popping up in stores around this time of the year, but as someone just starting off their adult life, splurging on items that have limited uses can seem a little impractical.  That’s where a little creativity and a love of crafting comes in handy.  Instead of shelling out lots of cash for something I’ll only use for a month – if that – I prefer to find inexpensive and fun ways to create my own decorations.14Sept_cover_new
There are all kinds of places where you can find inspiration for DIY decorating projects – scrolling through Pinterest and browsing home d├ęcor magazines are just a couple of my favorite ways to get ideas.  Today’s project was inspired by none other than the banner you can find embellishing the cover of our September Flyer.  Banners are great because they can be made to fit any style or season, they’re super easy to make, and can often be made from materials you already have on hand.  So if you’re ready to liven up your space with a beautiful banner, read on!
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Materials:
Computer paper
Marker or printer
Light colored scrapbook paper
Dark colored cardstock
Scissors
A glue stick
Small hole punch
Something to tie things together with (ribbon, twine, yarn, hemp, etc.)
 Optional Materials:
Ruler
Small embellishments (buttons, leaves, confetti, etc.)
Glue gun
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The first task in creating a banner is to decide what you want it to say.  Once you have chosen your phrase, you’ll want to map out your letters on computer paper so you can figure out how much cardstock and scrapbook paper you will need.  You can look through computer fonts to find inspiration for the design of your letters.  If you’re not so good at drawing, you can even print them out.  The size of your letters, of course, depends on how big you want your banner to be (mine were between 3 and 4 inches tall), and you’ll want at least ½  inch of space on either side of each letter. This is also the step where you will want to decide what color to make each letter block, so map out your letters on your computer paper accordingly.
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Once you have that done, you’re ready to transfer to your scrapbook paper!  One way to really unify the colors in your project is to make the letters the same color as your cardstock.  If you printed out your letters in the step before, you can also do that here.  Once you have your letters drawn, cut them out, keeping that ½ inch border around them.
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Next, cut pieces of card stock that are just slightly larger than your letters.  I gave each of my pieces a 1/8 inch border.
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To rough up the edges of your scrapbook paper, tear a very thin strip (no more than ¼ inch most of the time, but the width will vary) from the edges of each letter square.  For the neatest edge, make sure to flip your scrapbook paper upside down and pull the scrap edge toward you when you tear.  If you don’t like this look, you can also just leave the scrapbook paper as is or trim the edges using craft scissors.
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Using a glue stick, glue your scrapbook pieces to the center of the matching cardstock square.  Make sure to get your glue all the way to the edges.  It is helpful to lay some of your scrap computer paper underneath your scrapbook paper and apply the glue to the back so you can run over the edges.
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Using your hole punch, make holes in the upper corners of your squares, about ¼ inch from the top and sides.  Make sure your holes are just slightly larger than the material you are using to tie the squares together.  Cut short lengths of your tying material (at least 4 inches) and join each letter together, tying a simple overhand knot at each end to keep the letters from slipping off.  It is better to overestimate the lengths here because it is much easier to shorten the pieces if they are too long than it is to replace them entirely if they are too short.  Between words and at the ends of your phrase, give yourself a lot more length than you think you’ll need – I used about 18 inches.
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To really pull your banner together and make it look complete, finish it off with some decorative embellishments.  You can tie some items to the string as I did with my wheat pieces, or you can use a glue gun to attach most other items to the cardstock.
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And voila, your masterpiece is complete!  Proudly display your work of art on a mantle, wall, or the edge of a table!  Make sure to share any completed projects with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter using #BigBasketBlog and post your comments and questions below.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fun With Filters

Fun With Filters

 
From the Big Basket Blog                               

Do you take pictures on your cell phone? I bet that’s a yes. Your pictures can look even more spectacular and you can share them with your friends by using Instagram, which is a free app that you can use on your smartphone.  It’s very popular with young people because of the filters it offers.
Filters are what separate Instagram from your regular cell phone camera. Instead of editing each photo’s brightness and saturation, you can choose pre-made filters that can transform your selfie into a photograph that even James Salzano would be jealous of.
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It seems like there are 31 different filter flavors, but Instagram actually only has 19 filters to choose from. It’s easy to slide through and preview what your photo will look like with different filters.
I wanted to illuminate my favorite filters and how they can be used in your epic cell phone photography adventures.

I shot the photo above on my phone in our lobby. Let’s see how it can be transformed by using Instagram filters. Each picture below the text shows what that filter looks like on this image.
Rise: This filter gives your pictures a golden glow like a rising sun (the names of the filters aren’t just coincidental). Its soft light can be great for improving the appearance of skin in close-ups (aka selfies). Goodbye makeup, hello filter!
Valencia: To give images a nice faded quality, this is what you want to use. It washes out some but not all the color by increasing the exposure. It’s great for making photos look more antique-y, bringing out delicate colors, especially for beach pics.
Sierra: If you were daydreaming with your camera, this is what it would look like. It has a cloudy quality that makes it gorgeous for landscapes. You can skip the trip to the spa and just shoot a calming pic with Sierra. Way to go, you!
Earlybird: The earlybird catches the filter. Picture a western cowboy standing in a ghost town and that’s what Earlybird gives you. It has an old-fashioned quality with its red and golden colors. It’s one of the most flattering Instagram filters, according to The Huffington Post. No need to get a tan because it gives your skin an instant bronzer.
Sutro: This one can add a spooky gothic quality to your pictures, making it good for Halloween. It adds smokiness to your images by making the highlights and shadows more dramatic. Purple is my favorite color in the universe, so I love that Sutro increases the purples in a picture.
Inkwell: One of only two black and white filters, Inkwell plays with lights and shadows very artistically. This is my favorite black and white filter (sorry Willow— nothing personal) because of how it brings the attention back to the subject of the photo. That’s what good black and white photography ought to always do.
Walden: No longer will you wonder what Henry David Thoreau’s favorite filter was. This filter gives photos a pleasant light, making it ideal for photographing young children. It increases the pic’s exposure and adds a subtle sense of being washed out. The mellowing effect of this filter can also be used to achieve a romantic glow in outdoor photos.
Hefe: Hefe gives you high saturation and high contrast, which makes for vibrant yet warm photos. It’s great for photos with lots of colors and can be used both indoors and outdoors. If you’re lucky enough to live near mountains, Hefe is your go-to filter (think of it as your new little black dress, but on Instagram.)
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Hopefully, you have learned a thing or two about Instagram’s various filters. I leave you with one final potentially mind-blowing challenge: Take a picture of a coffee filter using an Instagram filter.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Drink to End the Summer With

Drinks to End the Summer With

 
From the Big Basket Blog                               

It’s almost that time of year again – the weather cools off, the colors start to change, and the summer winds down to a bittersweet close. To send off the summer and celebrate all the new memories made, what could be more fitting than having an ice cold cocktail with loved ones? I know what you’re thinking – mixed drinks can be intimidating for those of us who don’t have a fully stocked bar or have never dabbled in the art of mixed drinks. But have no fear – I’ve prepared some refreshing mixed drink recipes for you to end the summer with that are so easy to make, even a caveman could do it!
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Margarita
A classic favorite, margaritas are one of the most common and loved drinks of summer. Check out our recipe video below for step-by-step instructions!
Margarita
¼ cup kosher salt (optional)
1 lime wedge (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 heaping teaspoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon triple sec orange liqueur
¼ cup reposado tequila (try Patron Reposado)
Approximately 2 cups ice cubes
Serves 1
Directions:Start by preparing your glass if want a salted rim. Personally, I prefer my margaritas without the salt, but that’s completely up to your preference! To line the rim with salt, you’ll first want to spread the salt out on a small plate. Rub the lime wedge around the rim, and then dip the rim into the salt. Set the glass aside for now.
Next, stir the lime juice and sugar together in a cocktail shaker, until the sugar partially dissolves. Add the triple sec orange liqueur, tequila, and 1 cup of ice cubes. Shake vigorously for 25-30 seconds, and then strain into your glass. Fill the glass with the remaining ice cubes.

Tequila SunriseTequila Sunrises are a quick and easy cocktail to cool off with.
Tequila Sunrise
4 cups orange juice
2 cups tequila
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
Serves 6
Directions:Start by combining orange juice and tequila in a large pitcher. Next, get 6 glasses and place 3 tablespoons of pomegranate juice in each glass. Top with ice, then tequila mixture. Stir just before drinking.
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Blushing MimosaA colorful – and flavorful – twist on the classic brunch favorite, mimosas.
Blushing Mimosa
2 cups orange juice (not from concentrate)
1 cup pineapple juice, chilled
2 tablespoons grenadine
1 (750 milliliter) bottle Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
Serves 6
Directions:
First, stir together the orange juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine. Next, fill champagne flutes half-way with champagne. Top with orange juice mixture and serve.
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These drinks will cool you down when you just can’t bear the end-of-summer heat anymore. Invite your friends over and try one of these yummy drink mixes this weekend! And remember, always drink responsibly