Friday, July 25, 2014

Beginners Sewing

Remember back at the beginning of the year when Melinda and I shared our goals for 2014? Well I finally took initiative on the creative aspect and started in a sewing class! My seamstress, and a wonderful family friend, offered to teach a beginners class for my older sister and me, plus two other ladies from town and it has been a ton of fun! Mrs. Loveless is a wonderful teacher and provides great snacks too.

 Since I have been remiss in updating y'all on my goals the past few months, I wanted to share with you a few of the projects I have completed in the sewing class. Keep in mind that I had only a little bit of experience before I started the class, and am entirely a beginner.

I made a lined tote bag, a zippered pouch, and a pillow with coordinating piping. The tote is lined in green, which you catch a glimpse of in the left corner. It also has three pockets on the inside! The matching pouch is also lined in green. Mrs. Loveless used the pouch to teach us how to sew with zippers. 

The pillow was a really exciting project because it is something I can make for my future house. Toss pillows can be so expensive! And learning how to make the piping was a big deal for me because it makes the pillow look much more professional.

I made this cute apron for my little sister since she is moving into an apartment in Atlanta in a few months (I have also been picking up kitchen goods at Habitat for her like a porcelain teapot with infuser and an angel food cake pan). Sorry about the poor picture quality, I gave it to her immediately after class and this was the only spot in her bedroom that wasn't totally covered in stuff. There is a pocket all the way through the apron between the two layers. We also learned a bit about pleats by putting one in on each side of the bottom layer.

All of these projects were challenging but doable. If you have been interested in learning how to sew, I definitely recommend it! Mrs. Loveless is already helping me think of Christmas presents that I can make for family members. And hopefully I will have a house in the near future so I can start really sewing away.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Posh Purpose Recipe: Easy Dark Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

I hope you had a chance to check out this morning's post on How to Host: An Office Baby Shower!  I have lots of good tips for having a fun and office appropriate shower.  As I mentioned in our Do's and Don'ts, ask five co-workers to each bring a treat to share at the shower.  I brought two 8 x 8 pans of raspberry brownies to put out at the shower...shhhhhhh...don't tell, but these were the easiest brownies to make...which I passed off as homemade.  Whoopsies.

Hey!  I didn't lie.  I was never directly asked if they were made from scratch.  Mostly people just told me they were delicious and I very demurely said, "Why, thank you!  Glad you enjoyed them!" know, as a Southern Lady should.  Not a single person wanted to know how I made them, thank you very much. Conscience clear.

Here's my oh-so-easy and oh-so-impressive recipe for your next future "I need it to look homemade" occasion:

Posh Purpose Dark Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

2 boxes Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownie mix (Plus all the ingredients listed on the back.  I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil.)
1 jar of seedless black raspberry jam (make sure this is room temp!)

Preheat the oven and prepare the brownie mix according to the directions on the box.  Spray two 8 x 8 square pans with Pam.

Spread half the brownie mix between the two pans.  Spoon a few dollops of room temperature black raspberry jam on top of the brownie mix.  Take a fork or a knife and swirl the jam out over the brownie batter until you get a pretty even thin layer.  You are trying to avoid big clumps of jelly hanging out in the middle of the brownie (room temp is very important - the colder your jam is the harder it will be to spread).  Spread the remaining brownie batter between the two pans.

Cook as directed on the back of the brownie mix box until done.  Let cool.

To pre-cut the brownies (which I recommend for any type of group gathering), spray a butter knife with Pam and cut each pan into 12 squares.  The Pam will keep the brownies from getting all tore up as you cut.  Re-spray the knife as needed.

Makes 2 dozen.

These brownies are really decadent!  If you get your jam spread evenly, the heat of the oven will help melt it a bit so it integrates with the brownie mix.  I highly, highly recommend that you use the Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownie mix.  It tastes like high grade cocoa powder aaand it has big chocolate chips added in. You can probably use other types types of jelly like strawberry or blackberry, but just make sure they are seedless!  I don't know how much easier (yet still fancy pants) you can get for a last minute (or I just don't want to dig out the KitchenAid) recipe!  Let us know if you try them out!  You're sure to get rave reviews!

***This post was not sponsored by Ghiradelli.  We simply love their products...especially dark chocolate!***

How to Host: An Office Baby Shower

At my regular 9-5, I was recently asked to help out with throwing a baby shower for a male co-worker.  In the past, the office has taken up a collection, given the parents-to-be a gift card, had some cake, and called it a day.  This time around, word on the street was that the couple needed a lot of help getting ready for the baby's arrival.  Sooooo, I put on on my party planning hat and suggested that we throw a real baby shower with some decorations and lots of  necessary, useful, and helpful gifts to open.  We usually invite the wives, so I figured if she was going to trek over in the nasty D.C. summer swamp-like conditions with only 2 weeks to go (eeks!), the least we could do was make it worthwhile.

The biggest consideration in planning an office baby shower is that your boss and male co-workers will be in attendance.  This is NOT the time for women to trade war stories about their birthing experiences.  Secondly, if you are hosting your office baby shower on company grounds/property, you probably won't be able to decorate quite as scale way back from the bajillion shower ideas you've seen floating around Pinterest!  Otherwise, here are a few of the do's and don'ts for hosting a successful office baby shower!

Posh Purpose Do's and Don'ts for Office Baby Showers  

1. DON'T play shower games.  I hate shower games to begin with, but they are usually completely inappropriate for work.  Also, while your boss may be willing to take time from the work day to celebrate a co-worker's pending bundle of joy, he/she may view games as a waste of company time.  Or, like in my case, my boss would rather throw himself off the Key Bridge than play a shower game.

2. DO take up a collection for the gift (as long as company policy doesn't prohibit it) and make sure to buy items off the couple's registry or baby care items that you know they can use (diapers, shampoo, wipes, etc).  Let each employee make an individual decision on what they are comfortable contributing rather than saying each person they must contribute X number of dollars.  You don't want to alienate co-workers who can't afford to donate and to be honest, who would want to fork over a mandatory contribution for a co-worker they can't stand?  Also, try to pick a theme of gifts to buy so that they aren't getting a bunch of random junk.  For my co-worker, we knew they had been gifted a crib, but didn't have any other bedding items.  So, we purchased the crib mattress, mattress pad/cover, and two crib sheets.  We didn't have enough money left after those purchases to buy another big ticket item, so we used the last of the funds to buy diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream.

3. DON'T buy anything related to nursing (i.e. breast pumps, nipple cream, modesty covers, etc).  Chances are you will have at least one male in attendance and you don't want to make him squeamish.  In addition to an assortment of male co-workers, my boss and two of the three managers are male.  They most certainly do not want to think about a female co-worker or an employee's wife and her future lactation efforts.

4.  DO wrap each item separately so there is more to open.  Also, try to match the wrapping paper to the decor if you can manage it.  The overall presentation will be much better and the pile of gifts will add to the decor, especially if your decorating budget is small, your office space limits the amount of decorating you  can do, or your office space isn't worth decorating (hello nasty outdated fluorescent light bulbs and cube farms).

Aqua + Pink = OK!
5. DO make sure everyone signs a card to send the couple and baby best wishes.  Gifts are wonderful, but a card gives the employees who couldn't afford to contribute to the gift collection a chance to show their support and participate in the office event.

6. DO ask the bakers in your office to bring a baked good in to share at the shower rather than spending part of the gift donations on cake and other refreshments.  A baby is coming people!  Another set of diapers for the new parents is waaay more important than you eating fancy cake.  Depending on your office size, 5 types of treats should be plenty.  We have less than 20 people in our office, but 6 people provided a lemon pie, fresh fruit, mini cupcakes, an assortment of tea cookies, a homemade candy, and raspberry brownies (check back this afternoon for my super easy and inexpensive recipe!).

7. DON'T have a super feminine shower theme if your co-worker is expecting a girl.  Men tend to be uncomfortable around too much pink and lace.  I suggest brightly colored and coordinating tablecloths, plates, and napkins.  You can still use pink, but be sure to add in other colors like yellow, green, blue, aqua, or purple.  I recommend the Spritz line at Target - cheap and cute!  Polka dots, stripes, chevron, and plaid are all fun and festive without being too girly!

We went with multi-colored polka dots!

8. DO use what you already have in your party pantry.  Since we host a lot of shin digs, I'm always picking up paper napkins and plates.  I dug through my party pantry (i.e. the useless cabinet above my apartment refrigerator) and found paper goods to go with the event.  If you  have absolutely nothing to work with, find a coupon and head to Michael's craft store.  They usually have a variety of party wear to choose from for all sorts of occasions!

Plates are from HomeGoods and napkins are from Michael's
9. DO find flowers for the mother-to-be to enjoy at the shower and take home with her (if you can manage it).  This wasn't something I was able to accomplish for my shower.  I couldn't figure out how to transport the gifts, food, and flowers on the metro without having a nervous breakdown.  I think this is an especially lovely touch for any type shower, but especially for all the pretty mamas-to-be.  Not only will the flowers jazz up the shower, no one will feel the need to send flowers after the baby is born  (added bonus, the mama will likely enjoy the flowers much more before the baby is born than after when she is sleep deprived).  These do NOT have to be expensive blooms.  First, ask your co-workers if they have any flowers growing in their yards, as they would obviously be free.  I know when I worked at a bank in college, there were some very lovely ladies who had very lovely peonies and hydrangeas growing in their yards.  My next suggestion would be to look for the cheapest flowers in season.  If I had been able to transport flowers, I would have gone with sunflowers ($3.99 for 3 huge stems!) or carnations (always cheap!).  Don't bother spending money on a vase - wash out a pasta sauce jar!  If you are pressed for time, the Dollar Tree always, always has vases.  

10. DO play soft music in the background (if you have access to the appropriate music and a way to play it).  Invariably, you are going to have awkward pauses in conversation at an office event, so it's a good idea to have some type of noise to mask the awkwardness.  Playing upbeat music (softly!) is a way to distract and detract from any moments when the room goes dead silent (which usually happens right before someone says something completely inappropriate just to fill the silence!).  Find an elevator music or oldies radio station as they won't offend most people in the office. 

That's it for our Posh Purpose How to Host Tips!  Sorry I don't have more photos to share Posh Purpose readers!  I got sick the day of the shower and I had to leave before the party (blogger fail).  I can tell you that all my planning and the help of some wonderful co-workers made it a great success!  Not only was the father completely appreciative, but my boss dropped by my office to tell me it was the nicest office event he has attended!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Little Upgrades: Patio Tables

Mr. 3 and I loooove sitting out on our patio and entertaining with our friends (check out our Patio Party posts here and here).  We've been looking for some very small side tables to put on either side of the outdoor daybed to set drinks.  The daybed is pretty deep, so sometimes it's a bit of a stretch to lean forward to put a glass or plate down (I know. First world problems).  We also want to free up some space on the coffee table for when we are entertaining outside so that it's not so crowded when we eat.  I've been eyeing some garden stools since last summer, but at $60+ each it's a little bit hard for me to swallow.  

Finally, when I was at Target a few weeks ago stocking up on cleaning supplies and a month's worth of TP (you know, as one does in the big city), I spotted these:
Rubberwood Beverage Stand with Steel Frame
Image Source: Target
Although this is intended to be a beverage stand for one of those aluminum tubs, I thought the size, height, color, and price were all right for our patio.

The white framing on the stands tie in the with stripe on our outdoor pillows, the white in the rug, and also the trim on the apartment.  I don't mind the lighter colored wood, but I could probably stain it one day if I ever get bothered by it.  For parties when it's really hot outside, I can also keep the drinks close at hand by putting an aluminum beverage tub I already own on the stand (it's similar to the one featured in the Target ad - mine is dark turquoise and I got it on clearance 2 years ago for $7).  During the winter time, I can easily use one of these stands inside the apartment.  In the past, I've always just set the tub on the kitchen floor, but it would be nice to put it on the carpet and set up a drink station for better party flow.  Finally, once patio season is over, I can easily fold these stands up and put them in our storage closet for protection against winter rain and snow.

I paid $40 for these two tables, which is less than any of the garden stools I was contemplating.  I think we are all done decorating and outfitting the patio for now.  I have some wind chimes to hang up, but otherwise this patio is done!  I think this is a perfect example of how you can re-imagine the original use of an object for a purpose that suits your needs...and all at a budget friendly price!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

I had a brief scare yesterday that my phone was no longer charging. My first thought was "no way am I buying another phone before the new iPhone comes out." My second was "oh no! how will I document my thrift store finds?!" Good news is that my charging cord was the problem, not the phone, and my sister is loaning me a functioning one for the time being.

This cool floor lamp was slightly overpriced at $10. It needed a bit of polishing but the wiring worked, so yay for that.

These pretty flower shaped candle trays were $3 each. If I liked brass, I would have bought them. But (gasp!) I'm not a huge fan.

This dresser was $45. The veneer is chipped at the top, but the drawers are dovetailed. The leg has some damage as well. Overall, $45 is still a good deal.

This $50 tv console/dresser also has some damage across the front, and the top is stained. The inside had really cool drawers and shelves intermixed. And check out that hardware. I love interesting hardware!

Want to see more thrift store finds? We have a whole category just for that! We would love to see your finds, so feel free to share in the comments section or holler at us on twitter or instagram.