Long Lasting Memories- In a Mug!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

If you are reading this, I will assume you have more than one coffee/tea mug. I will also assume you are considering adding another mug to your collection or want to design one as a gift for someone else. Either way, today I will show you how I created a long lasting custom designed coffee mug. Self-designed mugs have been around for years and, thanks to Pinterest, over the years the recipe to designing these mugs continues to get more efficient.

img_8411When I first read about self-designed cups, I read they were designed with sharpie markers and then baked for 30 minutes. However, when searching for designs for my own cup, I also came across countless of reviews talking about how faulty that method is. Nevertheless, I decided to give the method ago but instead, I doubled the steps and added one more material to the process: Acrylic sealing spray. And that my friends, appears to be doing the trick. Mind you, it was a long process but one that is worth it if you want to give a gift that lasts.

So, here’s what you need:
1. Blank mug, whatever color
2. A design for your mug
3. Oil based sharpie marker(s)
4. Oven
5. Acrylic sealing spray
6. Gloves


Steps:

  1. Draw your design on the mug once and allow it to dry for 2 hours. Add another coat to your design and allow it to dry, again for two hours. (Tip: if you need help on how to draw or transfer your own design on to the mug, check out this blog post: http://crafts.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-decorate-a-coffee-mug-using-a-porcelain-marker–craft-7454)
  2. Place mug in cool oven and allow it heat up to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes and let it sit in the oven until it is completely cooled off. Do not move the mug while hot because the ceramic can crack. Once the mug is cool to the touch, you can move to step 3.
  3. Draw over your design one more time. Allow to dry for two hours.
  4. Repeat step 2.
  5. Once mug is completely cooled off, put on your gloves, go outside, and spray your mug with the acrylic sealing spray. 1-2 coats is enough.
  6. Allow your cup to dry for 2-3 hours.

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Yes, I know this is a long process! But it’s what seems to be working. Below is a picture of the cup I gave my friend after many washes.


I had a great time creating this project. Even though I had to design two mugs since I accidentally dropped and broke the first one. Haha. Have you ever designed a mug with sharpies? If so, did the design last? I would love to learn more ways to make ceramic designs that last and survive the dishwasher. I can’t wait to see how this mug turns out in a year or so. Don’t worry, I’ll update this blog post :P. In the meantime, I will continue designing mugs using this method. Remember, there’s no limit to your creativity.

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay groovy,

-Sirene

 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

Can wine get better? Yes, yes it can!

disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

I know, I know. What a promising title have I picked for this blog post! Ha! But really, I did find a way to make wine just a bit (or a whole lot) better: by turning the wine bottle into a beautiful chocolate pineapple.

It was one of my closest friends’ birthday a couple of weekends ago. For the life of me, I could not think of anything good enough to get her. Of course, I could have gone with the conventional gift card and balloons with flowers, etc. etc. But, I felt I should get her something a bit more thoughtful. Of course, me being me, felt like getting a little crafty with her gift. As per ush, I logged on Pinterest and typed “gift ideas for friend”. And lo and behold, hundreds of gorgeous ideas popped on my feed. One idea, in particular, caught my eye- a gorgeous pineapple made from Ferrero Rocher chocolates. At first glance, it looked like a bunch of chocolates placed to form the shape of a pineapple. When I clicked on the actual post, I realized it was a wine bottle covered in Ferrero Rocher chocolates and BOOM! I decide to re-create a wine-pineapple-bottle for my dear friend. I used different materials from the ones listed on the blog post I came across, but the idea is just the same. Scroll down for the Pinterest blog post.

Here is what you need:

  1. Wine of your preference. I picked a bottle with curves because I felt it’d give the final product the proper pineapple shape.
  2. Ferrero Rocher chocolates, I used 52 chocolates for my bottle.
  3. Raffia Ribbon
  4. Rope Ribbon (optional)
  5. Gold metallic paint (optional) I ended up not using paint on the final product.
  6. Glue Gun
  7. Real leaves from a tree/plant that needs trimming. I used sago plant leaves
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Materials

Steps:

  1. Begin by gluing each chocolate on the wine bottle. Add a drop of hot glue to the base of each chocolate and start placing them on wine bottle from the bottom, up. Stop gluing once you get to the neck of the wine bottle. About 2-3 inches from the lid. Tip 1: Ferrero Rocher chocolates are wrapped in gold foil that is glued to mini paper baking cups. Make sure you add a bit of extra glue between the gold wrapper and the paper baking cups. This may be a bit time consuming, but if you skip this step the chocolates will begin to fall off the paper baking cup once they’re glued onto the wine bottle. Tip 2: start gluing chocolates from the bottom, up. This way, chocolates glued on top of the bottle have extra support from chocolates glued at the bottom.
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    You may cover wine label if you wish. I chose to leave it open so my friend could see what kind of wine she got.

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    Completely covered in chocolates wine bottle.
  2. Begin to glue leaves onto the neck of the bottle. You can play with the placement of leaves to your liking. Tip 1: If you are using real leaves like I did, I suggest to use hard leaves. Hard leaves are long lasting and can handle the heat from glue gun a lot better. You can also create your own paper leaves, click on blog post link below for a guide to paper leaves.

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    Add glue to the lower part of the stem.
  3. Once all your leaves are glued onto wine neck, it’s time to cover those babies with raffia ribbon. Wrap the ribbon all around until you no longer see glued stems. You will use a lot of ribbon, FYI.

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    Add as much ribbon and rope to the neck of pineapple, tie it, and voila!

Optional Steps:

4.Add rope ribbon for a bit more texture and detail. I added this on the top of raffia       ribbon, I think it adds a nice accent on to the final look.
5. Spray gold spray paint on the leaves. I left this step for last and actually skipped it              because there was enough gold going on with all the chocolates. Ha. But, I am                       including here because it’s an option.
6. Gift this beautiful gift as it is, without wrapper, without gift bag. Whoever you give            this to, they will be surprised as it is since they won’t know a wine bottle is underneath         all that chocolate goodness.
7. Enjoy!

This was the perfect gift for my friend, since she’s a wine lover and of course chocolate lover, too. I was so happy to see her so pleased with her gift. It took me roughly 2 hours to complete it, probably less. Quite frankly, it was one of the easiest projects I have ever created. I wasn’t sure I wanted to create a blog about it since I know several people might benefit from a gift like this. *wink*. Hehe. But alas, I had such a great time doing this! If your significant other, or close friend love wine and candy, this might be the perfect gift for them. You can even use this as home decor. Remember, there is no limit to your creativity.

Do you have any creative gift ideas? If so, share them with me below! I am always on the lookout for DIYs.

Thank you for stopping by!

-Sirene

Blog post from Pinterest: http://www.handimania.com/diy/pineapple-champagne-bottle.html

 

The Sunflower Bakery & Café- The Sunflower of Galveston

Little gem in Galveston, Texas! The Sunflower Bakery & Cafe

Recently, my boyfriend and I had the opportunity to brunch at the delightful Sunflower Bakery & Café, located on Galveston Island.  We were in G-town for one of my dear friend’s wedding (beautiful wedding, btw), and being the opportunists we are, we made the event a mini get away for us.

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Look at all those goodies!

We live in Houston, so naturally we have been to Galveston often, but never on a staycation. We both know of Galveston’s gastro reputation; we know there are plenty of big chain restaurants, as well as local gems, such is the Sunflower Bakery & Café.  The bakery/ café was established in 1999 (rebuilt in 2008 due to IKE) and has been serving fresh food created from scratch ever since. They take pride in making and baking all of their menu items from scratch, and specialize in making their dishes and desserts using local and seasonal ingredients.

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Sunflowers every where!
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Their own pancake mix! Yum!
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Sunflower Granola Mix

The experience:
When we walked in to the restaurant, I was a bit confused because there’s the restaurant sitting on the right side and a cool small shop on the left side- the Bacon Farm. This small, unique shop carries all kinds of cool stuff! Anything from antiques, to furniture, to great collectibles.  Nevertheless, after some re-orientation, we were welcomed by the hostess who proceeded to sit us right away. We were fortunate to get a table in front of the dessert pantry.  Like kids in the proverbial candy store, we were both gawking over the pastries tugging at our eyes and hearts. Soon enough, we were greeted by our polite and agreeable server, Serghei, who was very knowledgeable about the restaurant.

One of the things my boyfriend and I pay close attention to when visiting a restaurant for the first time is the menu selection. If a restaurant has one too many items on their menu, it makes us wonder what can they cook really well, since they have so many dishes to focus on and prepare “well”.  Can they focus on cooking all dishes deliciously without having a few of them being cooked half-heartedly? What is their specialty dish when they have so many dishes on their menu?  Not to our surprise, the Sunflower had a good handful of items in their brunch menu: not too many, not too few. And they are all brunch-relatable items that align with the culture of the restaurant- A cozy, home-cooking type of place.

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One of the sweets pantries.

Our food:
We ordered the Big Breakfast and the Eggs Benedict. Both dishes were served in a timely manner, they were both very delicious, and were both hot and right out of the kitchen onto a plate. The Big Breakfast included freshly made pancakes from the Sunflower’s own pancake recipe. I personally don’t fancy pancakes much, but my boyfriend does. Let me tell you, he was in pancake heaven. The pancakes were steaming, soft, and cooked thoroughly. Not to mention they tasted delicious. He claims they make Le Peep pancakes…weep, and IHOP pancakes drown in their own syrupy sorrow.  Our Eggs Benedict was worthy of a Michelin star (if Michelin ever gave stars for breakfast); eggs perfectly poached and the sauce culled from the Hollandaise gods. The coffee was proper and so fresh; a perfect accompaniment to our perfect breakfast foods.

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Eggs Benedict, Big Breakfast & Coffee
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Season greetings
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Life really is SWEET!

Over all:
We loved The Sunflower Bakery and Café! For as long as it’s been in operation, my boyfriend and I couldn’t believe we hadn’t made the trip to dine there sooner. It’s evident that they care about who they hire and what they cook. The food was peerless, coffee was spot-on, and customer service was 5 stars.- thanks Serghei!  The Sunflower Bakery & Café is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny seaside brunch whether you’re a flip-flopped, vapin’ bohemian or a hungry hungover sailor.  We encourage all Texas visitors to make the trip to dine here, you will not be disappointed!

Till next time!

love,
Sirene

The Art of Gifting This Holiday Season

Five suggestions to a more thoughtful gift.

I think we all have that ONE family member that we don’t know what to buy for during Christmas. Yea, stores will suggest tons of ideas for gift giving, but let’s face it, they just want you to spend money on their store… makes sense. Besides, that flashy reindeer sweater Macy’s is pawning off on you is one even uncle Fred wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.

Unfortunately, you can only give someone that same paisley scarf X amount of Christmases in a row. Same goes for wallets, purses, shoes, etc. I think Christmas shopping is a bit more difficult because you are shopping for your entire family, not only one person.  Of course you don’t want to give the same gift to two different people. I am very lucky that I have a tiny family (five people + pets). But for those of you who have 10-30 family members to shop for (bless your heart.. and your pocket), buying gifts can be stressful. Even if you have a small family, gift shopping can get complicated if you don’t do your research. Let’s check out these gift giving strategies that might make Christmas gift giving a bit easier and more fun!

My mother’s handmade “Santa & Friends” wall decor

1. Utilize conversation/text topics/Facebook stalk:
Think about an ongoing theme in conversations or text threads you may have with that person. Sometimes an inside joke said in a text can turn into a great gift idea. Also, I am sure if you are considering getting a Christmas present for someone, you are more than likely their Facebook friend. When it comes to gift giving, you gotta get creative and maybe a do a little bit of FB stalking. This is something I have done before in order to pick up on someone’s interests. Here’s how: 1. Look into the pages that they like. 2. Match those page likings with their FB feed. Remember, FB feeds are constantly updated with someone’s latest topics of interests. Page likes? Not so much. But if you find a topic on a person’s “liked pages” and also on their fb wall, then you know that person is genuinely interested in that one thing. Also, you can always have one of their FB pictures printed onto a mug/t-shirt or simply frame it.

2. Peek in to their bedroom
This one only applies if you know the person closely. Lol. Not if you’re shopping for a co-worker or something like that. Also, when I say peek into their bedroom, I don’t mean psycho-search their bedroom lol. All I say is to look around for maybe movies laying around, posters, records, work out gear, or any undergoing theme. If this person has a set of movies of a certain genre, you may gift him/her a new movie of the same genre or a missing movie from a trilogy. P.S. If you are shopping for a co-worker, look at their desk. What are some things he/she has hanging around? Do they like stationary items? Do they have a plant in their desk?

3. Ask them to put together a Christmas list of 10 items:
Okay, if all comes to worse, have the person put a Christmas list together of the things he/she needs/wants. My family and I started doing this last year and it make Christmas shopping a lot easier. You know you’re getting the person something they want or need. The only disadvantage of this “tip” is that it takes away the element of surprise. That doesn’t mean you can’t put your twist on an item though. If someone asks for, let’s say, a pair of shoes, you can order a pair of socks with pictures/relatable quotes imprinted on them to go with the shoes.

4. Gift a want, not a need:
These are things that people talk about, but won’t ever buy for themselves because they feel morally obligated not to purchase something they don’t need. How do you pick up on a cue of what that “want” may be? Refer to suggestion 1.

55. Pick a special moment with that person and bring it to life:
That one is self-explanatory. But here is an example: During one of my favorite shows, “The Office”, Jim gives Pam a tea pot full of little gifts: a year book picture, a hot sauce package, a small pencil, among other things. All of those little trinkets mean something to Jim and Pam. In the same way, you can pick something as random as socks, and stick little trinkets in them that remind you of certain inside jokes or special events you and that person shared.

Some may say these “tips” may require too much work or are a little bit “too much”. I say that if you’re gonna gift someone something, might as well do it with care and with love. After all, Christmas is the time to give. I am sure that even if a gift isn’t considered “thoughtful” by you, it will still be meaningful to the other person. After all, it’s the thought that counts. Happy Holidays, beautiful people!

Love,
Sirene

Chimney Decor

More beautiful than scary, Mt. Raineir

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Mount Raineir is the tallest peak in the Cascade Range in Washington. This 14,400+ Ft. tall, active mountain is one of the world’s most massive volcanoes. Although this may be the main attraction in Mount Raineir National park, it is hardly the only one. The park is filled with fields of wildflowers and wildlife. We spotted three deer within a few feet from us as well as different species of birds and a pool of tadpoles (and yes, i became extremely excited to see animals i can other wise find here, in Houston). May I also add that the smell of this place is magnificent. It’s a combination of floral, rainy, icy, warm and piney scents within each breath. Simple, pure, raw and clean.

As I stood right in front of this place, I repeatedly said how it felt like a gorgeous, well-done wallpaper behind all the pine trees. The beauty of this place is breath taking and dreamlike. Enjoy the photos!

-Sirene

Grove of the Patriarchs trail

Beauty in all its glory.
Beauty in all its glory.

This place was phenomenal. Some trees in this trail are over 1000 years old, nearly 40 ft. in diameter and more than 300 ft. tall! I felt strange walking through this trail. I was instantly reminded of how many eras these trees have lived through. They were alive when world war II was going on and during the dark ages.  Weirdly enough, it made me think about how these trees were alive when Elvis Presley was alive and when Frank Sinatra was alive, too. I am a huge fan of Frank Sinatra. Knowing that these trees have lived through the years he was alive made me feel warm inside. It may sound childish to link Frank Sinatra’s life to the existence of these trees. Specially when there are far more important people or events that were also alive and going on during those past years. But linking a dead idol to a beautifully living thing that I also love makes me feel happy. It brings about a nostalgia of some sort- a happy one.

How small are we compared to nature.
How small are we compared to nature.
This tree was one of my favorites! I took a picture inside the tree. It's wide enough to fit about two average sized adults inside.
This tree was one of my favorites! I took a picture inside the tree. It’s wide enough to fit about two average sized adults inside its shallow trunk.

Walking through this trail also made me think about how simple life used to be 100-1000 years ago. Life is so different now. I feel technology has made life easier for most of us. Yet, I feel life was much simpler back then; with out all this technology and easy ways of doing things. I guess there is a difference between an easy life and a simple life. I want to live a simple life, not a easy one.

Only one person at a time.
Only one person at a time.
Shallow cascade. The water was so clean and freezing cold.
Shallow cascade. The water was so clean and freezing cold.

This is one of my favorite trails so far.. it truly felt like entering a kingdom.

Some trees have broken and fallen into the trail. It makes the place that much more beautiful.
Some trees have broken and fallen into the trail. It makes the place that much more beautiful.
looking into the woods
looking into the woods
One of my favorite photos. Me on a trunk
One of my favorite photos.

-Sirene