Friday, December 30, 2011

The Watercolors

Well, hello there, Blogosphere! I'm sure you think that I've abandoned you and forgotten all about my goal to spice up my life with art in a budget-friendly way.  I have been working non-stop on Christmas gifts this year and have not uploaded many of the gifts I have made because those people follow my blog. 

I chose to get into watercolor because my niece is 2 years old, and I didn't think that I could make her anything that was completely age-inappropriate, or that she would grow out of in a month.  I thought a nice art piece would do well in her room.  Below is the piece I did for niece #2 which fits nicely in her Tiffany-blue room.  And did I mention that I love elephants?

After thoroughly investing in the necessary watercolor materials (good brushes, quality paper, etc) I come to find that watercolor is one of the most difficult mediums.  Really?  God could have sent me a memo first.  I've had a great time and am getting much much better since I've started this endeavor. 

I made a bright pink bird for my other niece whose room is hot pink and lime green.  She also was selected for the regional choir concert and loves to sing.  Perfect verse!

I did a pet portrait for my mother-in-law's Wirehair Schnauzer, which she absolutely loved.  It was a lot of work to get the coloring for the dog correct without her knowing that we were sneaking to get a photo!  Pets were really fun to do but also quite difficult. 

This painting is one of my sister, but made for my grandmother.  It looks just like her and I was really proud of the final product.

One of my besties in College Station-land got married this year, and I did a wedding portrait.  She was so tickled!  This draft looks lovely, if I do say so myself, but I will admit that the first few drafts got me all discombobulated.  Lots of cursing because I am a perfectionist! 

Another dear friend in the area graduated from undergrad in December, but the cap and gown is flattering on no one.  She is an avid reader and I wanted to capture her in her element.  She loved it!

Multiple family members suggested I do portraits of people's pets. I'd be happy to do a painting of any variety if you want to send me a photo and specifications, such as how big you'd like it.  I could do people or pets, or your favorite teacup.  I absolutely love doing it and am having a ball trying to come up with stuff to paint. 

With love,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holiday Cards!

Hey everyone!

I've already made my holiday cards for this year, but there is a website that has the cutest, most original Christmas cards to make your holiday bright from Tiny Prints!
Go to, and if you mention their cards on YOUR blog, you get 50 free holiday cards!  I will probably use them for other cards I need, cause their stuff is adorable.


The Lewis Dots

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Free Inkscape Penguin & Cat / Dog Silhouette Images!

I have mastered a graphics design program, well, as much as a non-techie can.

I first got into Inkscape because I didn't want to pay a graphic designer's premium fee on a simple T-shirt design for softball.  What is Inkscape? It is a FREE SVG editor (standard vector graphics).  That means that no matter how large or small you make any image, you don't get that grainy look you find when you make your picture too big.  Big win!

My first project was creating this for my newlywed class's softball team, obviously a comic book theme:

From then on out I have decided that I am completely capable of any basic graphic design work that needs to be done.

And my favorite, the penguin with plaid hat.  I know, it is adorable.  He is on a Christmas Party invitation I created!

I am now working on my family's Christmas card / newsletter, which is different than I usually do.  I am including these adorable fellows, cat and dog silhouette! 

Feel free to download or use any Inkscape image I've provided, but if you use it on your website I ask that you link it back here!  

Happy Hollidays!
The Lewis Dots

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Double DIY Anthropologie

I have a confession: I stole a friend's sewing machine.  Ok, I didn't steal it, but she let me borrow it and I don't think I am going to give it back.

Anthro Redo #1: Dots Within Blouse

I have been coveting the Anthropologie Dots Within Blouse for months.  I think that it is gorgeous, but couldn't bring myself to pay the hefty $118 price tag.  It went on sale this week for a mere $59, but still well above my budget. 

I have been keeping my eye out for a "Secretary" style blouse at the local thrift shops, and I stumbled across this one, for a mere $3! I thought of the other top from Anthro that I loved and knew it would be an easy fix with the sewing machine.  

The collar had to go.  I cut it off, tucked it under, and sewed the neck tie to hang loose right beyond the neck.  

I love it!  I have received SO many compliments on it and love that I spent a mere $3. The photos are very shiny, but I promise that it made a huge difference.  Take that!

Anthro Redo #2

I got the catalogue and saw this sweater.  I have a sweater that was given to me approximately 10 years ago, I think an old Nieman Marcus find.  

It has become ragedy and I was going to toss it, until I saw this: Anthropologie Threaded Cocoon Cardigan, again a hefty $228.  I knew a simple fix could make my old sweater adorable. 

Below you can see the basic structure, along with tutorial.  

I bought a carmel-colored rope detailing at a local fabric shop for $1.27.  I cut fabric where indicated, and roped through. I found that the rope detail was hard to see when I was wearing it before, so I added the pinch and gather, which is the most difficult to explain.   Essentially you just gather up the top fabric and sew, so that they stick up more when being worn.   

Voila!  Another find that I get a ton of compliments on.  And it would be easy to recreate with any old sweater or knit. Yes, it isn't the Anthro sweater exactly, but it certainly gives the feel of it and looks expensive on. You could add an old scarf and tie in a bow to look more like the original if you wanted.  

In recap, I spent a grand total of $4.27 on two Anthro pieces that would have cost $336.  I'd say that's a good day.

The Lewis Dots

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My favorite Owl-oween

I had the best Halloween costume that I've ever had.  Yes, it isn't quite Halloween yet, but I've debuted my owl costume and I think it was smashing.

Last year, I went as a green crayon from a costume that I wore in a musical production (Sing at Baylor).  I got asked more than once if I was an elf, which I can understand, but yet I was still offended.  This year I was determined to turn that around.

When I saw the Martha Stewart Owl that was created for a 6 month old, I fell in love and decided to make it life-size and add some spice.  Hence, the most fabulous Owl-oween costume ever.

I started with:

  • 2 colors of felt
  • Scrap-pack of fabric from Jo Ann's 
  • Dress (which I made out of some old fabric I had left over)
  • Fabric glue
  • Pins
  • Chalk
I sewed (ie, fabric glue because I don't have a sewing machine) the dress out of some old fabric I had laying around.  I think next time I will just steal a friend's sewing machine!

I cut out the wings from the felt and left the corresponding lines.  

Line up one color on top of the other color so that you can see what you want to cut out.  Then sew a small seam on those lines like you are taking in the fabric, and you get the feathered effect.

Then sew onto costume!  I tied a string to the end of the wings so that the feathers would move when I moved my arms.  Nice effect, if I do say so myself.

I added extra fabric to make a tail feather. Cute, right?  The real reason was that I measured incorrectly and my bum didn't quite fit when making the dress... sometimes mistakes make the cutest part of the outfit!

The goggles really made the costume.  I thought I was lacking something, so I took an extra scrap of the fabric from the small feathers, painted it orange, and fashioned a beak.  Super duper easy.

I posted a tutorial about the super-cool aviator cap, and I added ears (because owls have ears - to be honest I had to double check several times about the exact physiology of owls).

Voila!  You get one adorable costume that I will wear over and over.  And I might take off the feathers and wear the dress.

And this is me with my hubby, just hanging with my Gnom-ies.  Why yes! I do think I am hilarious.

Happy Owl-oween!

The Lewis Dots

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My New Pillow!

I won a fabulous pillow from Pillows by Dezign! Their designs are beautiful, and the quality is phenomenal.  It looks great with everything in my house and I just can't decide where it will go!

Check them out because I will probably get some more pillows from them ;-)

The Lewis Dots

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Aviator / Pilot Hat Tutorial

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am making my own Halloween costume from scratch!  As I am going to be a cute owl that needs an aviator's hat (to which I will attach ears to complete the look), I needed an aviator cap. Here's my quick tutorial.

You'll need the following (more if you want to sew, but I was happy with my no-sew method):

  • Fabric glue
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Faux leather (I just got a 1/4 yard for width, but I have a bunch leftover)
All of the materials cost about $5, and that's including buying the glue (which I only used a little bit).  Compared to buying rather than making it yourself, you could pay $15-20 not including shipping.  

This is super easy: 

  1. Create a pattern by following the basic instructions below:
Be sure to leave room for stitching!

2. This may look a little confusing, but make a paper template, tape it together, and see if it fits, as you can see that I did it with this piece.  
Not as pretty as the final product :-)

3. Cut out pattern from fabric.

4. Pin edges together with inside flipped out.

5. Place on head to make sure that it fits properly. If there is any gaping be sure to fix it now.

6. Glue or stitch together.

7. Remove pins and tuck edges under.

8. Connect bottom if necessary.  I haven't decided if I will connect it for the party, but it's cute enough without connecting it.

Yes, I look a little like a pilgrim, but the finished look is awesome.  Check out the other link to the final product (even though I'm not in it yet).

To modify the cap for the owl costume, you just sew or glue on ears, as shown to the right.  I know - adorable!

The Lewis Dots

The Chair and Fabric Shopping

I've had a hankerin' to go garage sale-ing lately, and I was able to talk my husband into joining me several saturdays ago. I found one that had the chair on the left with a sign saying it was $10.  I thought that it had good "bones", because I like the structure and thought that it had potential.

 I get a little closer and realize that the pink stripes are just a part of a terrible slipcover!  Not only do I have a pattern if I ever want to make another slipcover, but the green is so fun!  The color is wonderful, but the fabric is faded in some areas.  I am going to undertake reupholstering it myself.  We'll see how it goes.

I went fabric shopping to start the process of reupholstering.  I nearly died finding out how expensive decent furniture fabric was!  $50-$300 per yard?  I paid $10 for this chair, and it will cost me that much just for fabric?  I haven't made a decision as to what I am doing to make it awesome, but something will be done.

Ideas for the chair?  Fabric suggestions?  I'd love to hear from you!

The Lewis Dots

PS - Don't forget to follow me to the right!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Owl Costume, Life Size

When I first saw Martha Stewart's Owl Costume for toddlers, I nearly fell out of my chair! I knew I could come up with the best adult owl costume.

I will be updating this blog as to each part, but I wanted to give a preview!  Thanks, friends!

The Lewis Dots

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin Trifecta

I am a little obsessed with pumpkin this month, and my husband thinks I am going crazy.  I put it in my coffee, in my desserts, everything!  So when I was assigned to bring a dessert for a potluck I knew it had to involve pumpkin, but I was also craving chocolate.  This seemed like a great compromise!

Although I used multiple recipes from other sources, I would have stuck with my original recipes from my baking days.  Everyone still raved over it, as the butterscotch pudding adds a nice flavor profile to the spice of the brownies, and the whipped cream adds a lightness to the dessert. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Trifecta
            Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
            Pumpkin Pudding
Whipped Cream (from scratch or pre-made is fine)

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies – modified from Martha Stewart’s recipe

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish.

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl in double boiler or microwave; if you go the lazy route (which is easier) melt for 30 seconds at a time and let chocolate sit in the heat.  Don’t over mix!  Chocolate is very particular. 

3. Whisk together sifted flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

4. Mix sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.

5. Pour half of batter into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick (as mine was) add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable.

5. In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula.

6. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect.  Don’t get too fancy with the swirls; because this is eventually getting crumbled up, so presentation doesn’t matter as much as usual.

7. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. A fork stuck in here should just come out clean.

8. Let completely cool. Save for later.

Pumpkin Pudding modified from

2 x 3.4 ounce box Instant Butterscotch Pudding and Pie Filling (I used sugar free to make me feel better about the rest of this dish)
3 cups cold nonfat milk
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
4 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1. Whisk butterscotch pudding and milk for two minutes.

2. Stir in pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, blending well.

3. Let chill in fridge until set. 

Pulling it all together

1. Crumble the brownies into chunks.  They don’t have to be perfect, in fact they look better when they are variable sizes.

2. Place 1/3 – ½ brownie crumbles into bottom of trifle bowl.

3. Layer ½ pudding onto brownie layer, smoothing it out as it you go along.  If using a glass container, be careful not to get the sides messy because it will show in the final product.

4. Layer ½ whipped cream onto pudding.

5. Repeat steps 2-4.

6. Crumble a few brownie bits on top of the whipped cream for desired effect.

Your guests / family will lick the bowl.  I barely had to wash it out :-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Stenciled Desk

I used to hate the big, white desk that my husband had in his office.  His older brother found it on the side of the road over 10 years ago, and it is just one of those pieces that will not break down.  I keep trying to kill it, but it survives.  I figured that I'd change up my strategy and be it's friend.

Above is a picture of the desk prior to painting (and the entire office prior to revamping).  The angle is off, but the improvement is extreme!  I was inspired by this wallpaper look-alike and the stencil they had on the site as well.

I made the stencil out of cut out cardboard, then traced with a pencil.  Then I painted over the pencil with gray paint.  Simple!  I also painted the front of the drawers grey to add some solidarity to the space  and desk.

The picture doesn't do it justice, as I also added some gray "aging" through a spray can of water and a dry paintbrush on the side.

Now I think the desk looks so mid-century modern.  I love it!

What do you think? Better before or after?

The Lewis Dots

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Carmel Apple Cupcakes

My favorite recipe that I created while a professional baker was the Caramel Apple Cupcakes! I created an apple cake recipe then used a carmel frosting on top.  Very simple, but a fun and festive treat for fall.

I am going to add my comments about different techniques I recommend regarding baking.  The little * indicates my tips!

Apple Cupcakes 
*  Pull out your ingredients before baking!  This way you don’t realize halfway through that you are out of eggs.  Also, when the ingredients come together in a short period of time, they seem to blend better. 

4 egg whites
3/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp apple pie spice
2 chopped Granny Smith apples
1 cup milk
2 3/4 cup flour

1. Beat egg whites to a stiff consistency.  They should form soft peaks, and fall off of your tool without leaving any residue. 

2. Place egg whites in another bowl and clean out mixing bowl.

3. Cream softened butter, sugar, and vanilla together in mixer.
*A major mistake that most bakers make is in the order of adding ingredients.  After working with hundreds and hundreds of cakes, I rarely even look at the recipe instructions anymore, only the ingredients.  There are certain rules that you learn to follow, and a good one is wet ingredients with wet (butter, eggs), then sugars, then flour. This recipe is a little different because you add the egg whites later, but the general rule is the same.

4. Add chopped apples and apple pie spice to wet ingredients. Mix to blend.

5. Sift flour.
* You may think to yourself, “I don’t need to sift my flour, that’s a whole 30 seconds I could save”.  You are wrong, novice baker. You ALWAYS sift flour for cakes because it really makes the finished texture smooth, also preventing any unwanted chunky lumps.  You can choose whether or not you want to sift for cookies or other baked goods, but as a rule I always sift. 

6. Add flour to wet ingredients in ½ cup amounts, alternating with milk. Blend it up just until mixed. The recipe will look too thick, but do not over mix!

7. Fold in the egg whites to mixture.  
*How to fold in egg whites properly:
Put the egg whites on top of the wet ingredients.  Take a long wooden spoon or spatula and slowly mix upwards folding the over the egg whites. Do not crush or mix in the egg whites, as you defeat the purpose and will ruin the cupcakes.

8. Spoon until 3/4 full into cupcake pan; place into 325 degree oven.  

9. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until center just bounces back and fork comes out clean.

10. Let cool before frosting. 

Caramel Creme Frosting
adapted from Kitchen Aid Book

1/2 cup butter

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 cup miniature marshmallows (I used regular marshmallows and chopped them up)

2 cups powdered sugar, plus more if consistency is off

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tbsp shortening if needed to smooth consistency

1. Melt butter in sauce pan, then add brown sugar and milk. Stir until blended. 

2. Heat to boiling - cook 1 minute stirring constantly. 
3. Remove from heat, add marshmallows & constantly stir until melted & mixture is smooth.

4. Add all ingredients to mixing bowl / stand mixer and blend generously until desired consistency.

5. Keep chilled until ready to frost or eat!  It will be stiff, if so, let sit at room temperature until desired consistency.

6. Frost your cupcakes and enjoy!

Everyone has raved over these cupcakes.  They melt in your mouth and make you smile that fall is finally here!

The Lewis Dots

Do you have any baking questions? Add as a comment and I will address all your baking qualms!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chevron Tray Tutorial

Hey friends!  I’ve learned that I enjoy making the projects and get into a habit of having too many projects going on at once without blogging about them.  I will try to fix that!

Kaitlyn from For Better orBratwurst and I decided we needed a crafty day.

I needed something awesome to go with my new funky orange chairs, so I took an old frame that didn’t have anything in it.  By putting it down on the table and adding some handles, it turns into a funky tray that can be used as a picture frame at any minute.  I love up-cycling (ie, recycling old stuff to be super chic). 

            Painter’s tape (I like the Duck brand)
            Brushes, art supplies, etc
            Ruler / Paper
            Patience :-)

1.     I removed the piece I wanted to use for the painting from the frame, which was in my case, the back.  I have seen some people paint the glass which does look really cool, but if I ever wanted to reuse the frame or change the art, it would be much more difficult.

2.     I LOVE THE CHEVRON PATTERN.  I started with choosing how many changes in direction I wanted on the final product, for example if the pattern looks like “M” then you have 3 changes, if “N” then 2.  I wanted the off-kilter look of the “N”.

3.     Mark off with your pencil where the pattern should change and mark it accordingly. I took some paper and measured it the length of the board because I didn’t have a ruler nearby, and folded it into 3 equal sections.  Easy!

4.     Lightly extend the marks all the way down the board with your pencil so the end product looks professional.

5.     Choose how far you want to have between the lines and mark accordingly.  For example, you want the 1st and 3rd piece of tape to line up identically to each other, not having one piece longer than the other. Mark how far down you want it to go (for softer chevron, smaller space, for more dramatic chevron, more space!). 

6.     Tape accordingly!  I did all one direction first, then came back and cut the other pieces. I didn’t worry about getting the tape cut at the perfect angle, I ripped a piece longer than what I needed, then cut it so I didn’t have any unsightly gaps. 

7.     Paint!  I wanted a pop of color for the table, so I applied a multitude of muted colors in two coats.

8.     Peel the painter’s tape off before the paint is completely dry! This is imperative.  Otherwise you will peel part of the lines off unintentionally… no bueno.

You could apply a topcoat, but I think that is what the glass is for. Enjoy!

The Lewis Dots