27 February 2009

Light in a Jar

We're ending the week with another crafty idea to give old jam jars new life...and maybe new light, too. Today, we're making candles! I'd really like to try my hand making candles in different shapes and scents, but let's do it the easy way:

I got this Jelly Candle at an A.C. Moore craft store. It's available in many colors and scents. I chose a bright red with a strawberry scent because it reminds me of jams & preserves, perfect for our jars.

The kit comes with a tube of gel, 4 wicks and easy-to-follow instructions.

Use a clean and dry jam jar and position the wick at the center, attach in place with a bead of glue. Allow the glue to dry.

At this point, you can add little things like shells, sand & marbles for an added dimension. Then squeeze in the gel. After 20 to 30 minutes (the surface needs to settle)...

Tada! We made our very own candle!

There will be bubbles (which I quite like) but the instructions say they'll disappear after 24 hours. The fragrance is comforting & yummy but a word of caution -- it can be mistaken for jam or jello. And if the candle police are reading this, I have to include this warning: keep out of the reach of children & do not leave a burning candle unattended.

Have a great & totally TADA! weekend!

26 February 2009


I am thrilled whenever I dine at a restaurant that serves their drinks in these mason jar glass mugs. They somehow whisk me off to the countryside where meals are served family-style, prepared all day by grandma. You know...ribs, corn muffins, fried chicken, macaroni & cheese and lots of pie! Um, okay, you caught me day dreaming right there. So back to the mason jar mugs. This is the inspiration to transform today's blah...

...Into a Tada!...

These Bonne Maman jam jars turn into wonderful tumblers for iced tea (or your drink of choice). They're chunky, sturdy and don't require extra care. They can easily be cleaned in the dishwasher and no tears will be shed if one or two accidentally break. Replacements are available at the supermarket (with free preserves!) unlike more highend drinking glasses that can be out of stock at the home store. They will work well for an outdoor party or a summer picnic. And because it's still winter where I live, I'll go back to day dreaming about warm days, a hearty table brimming with food and refreshing iced tea in jam jars. Cheers!

25 February 2009

Fancy Fruit Cup

It's the middle of the week and today, we're recycling a cute old jam jar into this:

It's an earth-friendly container for a fresh fruit salad!
Quite fashionable if I should say so myself: a colorful paper napkin is tied around its waist like a Japanese Obi (belt). The rubber band keeps both napkin and bamboo fork in place.

Use your favorite fruits in season. Peel & cut them up into bite-size pieces, then toss in a bowl. Scoop into clean jam jars, dress it up and store in the fridge. It will be ready to go if you need a quick breakfast before dashing off to work or as a snack when you take the kids & pets to the park.

"Undress" the bottle and use the paper napkin as a placemat, to dab your lips and for easy clean-up.

This homemade fruit cup
is guaranteed to be healthy (no sugary syrup or preservatives), inexpensive and will surely make your Mama (birth mom & Mother Earth) proud!

24 February 2009

Spice, Spice, Baby!

These Bonne Maman jam jars are so adorable, I'm constantly thinking of ways to re-use them.

They make smart storage solutions for favorite herbs and spices. The lid closes tightly, contents can easily be seen and the jars can be stacked on top of each other.

I also like them because they have a wide mouth, making it easy to dip even the biggest measuring spoon. They're very practical and they make a delightful display on the pantry shelf!

23 February 2009

Jam Session

I absolutely love Bonne Maman preserves! The strawberry jam paired with croissants and a cup of cappuccino is enough to get me out of bed on a cold morning. The jam isn't too sweet and I like the chunky strawberry pieces in every bite. Ok, I admit, I first fell in love with the jar: the red & white checkered lid reminds me of a country farmhouse, the jar itself has a wide opening with no curves like other jars, making it easy to scrape out the last bits of jam, and the white label with hand writing-like font adds a homemade appeal.

Bonne Maman is my jam of choice and I have a cupboard full of empty jars to prove it. So while the jar isn't entirely a blah, I'll be showing you some ideas to make them into a Tada! everyday this week.

Jam jars make nifty containers to assemble instant vinaigrettes for your salad: Just put the vinegar, lemon juice, oil, Dijon mustard, shallots, garlic, salt & pepper in the jar, screw on the lid, then shake! Keep it in the same jar and store in the fridge until you are ready to use the dressing.

20 February 2009

Old to Gold

It was all about shoes this week and what woman doesn't get excited over that? While not all of us have a hundred dollar shoe budget, all of us have shoes playing the game of hide & seek in our closets. It's time to usher them out of hiding especially these days when hanging on to our pennies is the name of the game. A fashion revival is in order! The formula is simple: clean, polish and accessorize! And accessorizing means looking through our craft boxes (ex. lace appliques, grosgrain ribbon, ostrich feathers) and jewelry cases (ex. vintage clip-on earrings) to fashion a new look:

I think changing the personality of a black pair of shoes is loads of fun. Now you might think I totally over-looked the gold buckles originally attached to the shoe:

Of course not! We don't waste things in this blog! What was a blah is now a...

Tada!...the gold buckle instantly glams up a simple wood bangle

From shoe buckle to belt buckle...another Tada!

Even wooden boxes deserve a little gold! All together now..."Tada!"

And as a final Tada!...I used the gold buckles as accent buttons for a linen pillow cover.

Have a good weekend everyone!

19 February 2009

High fashion, low price

I wave my magic wand and sprinkle some fairy dust on these old pair of shoes...

And Tada! I've tried my hand at haute couture...

I'm ready to party & strut my peacock feathers proudly!

18 February 2009

Shoe Jewelry

This week, we're giving a face-lift to an old pair of black shoes. Just like a little black dress, black shoes can easily be accessorized to give it a new look. And by accessories, we really mean accessories.

These are clip-on earrings I found at the Hell's Kitchen flea market in New York City. While they're a little too big for my taste, I purchased them with the shoes in mind. Indeed, my shoes have a thing for large jewelry.

The earrings easily clip on to the edge of the shoe. Of course you can try it on the side, back or strap of the shoe and see how you like it best. In this case, I put it front & center, positioned horizontally and secured with crazy glue.

See the transformation from blah shoe to Tada! shoe? It had a modern contemporary feel coming from the shiny gold buckle and now it speaks "classic old world" from the matte gold vintage earring.

Never underestimate the power of accessories -- even for shoes!

17 February 2009

Bows on my Toes

Last year, in early autumn, I was on the New York subway. Not wanting to stare at people during the ride, I looked at people's shoes. Shoes say a lot about the people who wear them -- some put comfort first, others prefer fashion over comfort, some dig wild colors and some have had their pair for many, many years. I was drawn to the shoes of the lady sitting in front of me. She was dressed in a light blue cardigan over a white shell, neatly-pressed khaki pants and a monogramed L.L. Bean canvas bag beside her as she perused the New York Times. On her feet were black leather flats with a sumptuous black bow tied on each one. They were like presents waiting to be unwrapped. But isn't that what shoes are? Shoes are gifts for the feet!

It was this woman's shoes that inspired me to update this old pair:

Into a girl-y, dainty, almost-new pair of shoes:

You'll find inspiration to transform a blah into a Tada! everywhere, even on the subway!

16 February 2009


It's Fashion Week in New York City so I thought it would be fun to tap into our inner fashion designer. No pattern-making or sewing skills necessary. Just rummage through your closet for a few blahs that are waiting to become Tadas! Here's what I found at the back of my wardrobe:

It's a pair of black flats with gold buckles that I've had for three years. Okay, I admit, they're wannabe Tory Burch Reva Flats that I hardly wore but they're still in good shape. By replacing the buckles with something new, I now have a different shoe:

I got a pair of applique flowers at a fabric store and attached it on each shoe using my handy glue gun. Come back tomorrow and see what else we can do with an old pair of flats. Have an awesome Monday!

13 February 2009

Green on a Red-letter Day

We've come to the end of "oatmeal week" and I'm hoping eating healthy will be a daily habit you'll always look forward to. Sure, you're allowed to sneak in a sweet treat especially this Valentine's weekend! And for this red-letter day, I spent some time in the kitchen making a batch of oatmeal cookies to give to some really special people. It's a little indulgent with the butter and sugar but the oatmeal, whole wheat flour (I used half all-purpose flour & half whole wheat flour) and raisins in the cookie somehow eases the guilt. And here they are:

It's a good thing I saved several plastic boxes that was used as food packaging.

They make great cookie boxes! Just wash & dry, put in the cookies (I used some pink cupcake liners to add some color and to keep the cookies from moving around), add a ribbon and a label. Now whose eyes wouldn't light up after receiving this labor of love?

Let's give a little more love away with Valentine greeting cards made from a box and Valentine-themed paper.

With trusty scissors and a glue stick, turn an old gift box into postcards decorated with paper hearts:

Don't forget to write a sweet note before handing it out to all your favorite buddies...

Sweet. Thoughtful. Handmade. Inexpensive. Healthy. Environment-Friendly.
Shouldn't that be the way to describe your Valentine's?

Have a Happy Valentine's & a rockin' Tada! Weekend!!!

12 February 2009

Jazz Up Your Breakfast

Oatmeal by itself is already a Tada!: Eating it regularly brings down the cholesterol and reduces the incidence of heart disease. Add some favorite flavors to it, such as strawberries and vanilla, then can we say Tada! Tada!?

I like how the oatmeal turns into a shy shade of pink when the strawberries come into the mix. A little honey or agave sweetener can be invited to join the party, too. Think about he flavors that get your grove on then make your very own signature oatmeal that's simply Tada!.

11 February 2009

An Apple a Day

If we ate an apple a day how many people, do you think, will be happy? Well, first there's mom who told us to eat our fruits and vegetables. Then there's the doctor whose idea it was to eat an apple a day. Then there's the farmer and grocer who are happy we bought the apples in the first place. And let's not forget our cardiologist who will be jumping up & down when he or she finds out that we added apples to our morning oatmeal!

Plain oatmeal may be a blah to eat, but some sliced apples, a handful of raisins and a dash of cinnamon turns it into a Tada! chunky-chewy-healthy-hearty first meal of the day. Add some cooked protein-rich Quinoa to the oatmeal and our cardiologist will be adding cartwheels to his jump-for-joy routine.

Let me give you a high-five because you've made a lot of people happy...and it's only the start of the day!

10 February 2009

Pimp My Oatmeal

We're turning plain oatmeal into a Tada! this week. If we add more variety then we'll eat more of it, right?

Today I put some sliced bananas while cooking the oatmeal. I added more bananas and crunchy granola on top, too. That and a warm cup of black tea made for a really satisfying breakfast!

09 February 2009

Be Good to Your Heart

It's Valentine's Day on Saturday and I thought an appropriate theme for this week would be "Hearts". Now I'm taking that very literally to encourage everyone to turn blah eating into Tada! eating so that we're able to take good care of our hearts. One heart-healthy food is oatmeal and I must admit sometimes it's a blah to prepare or blah to eat -- I don't get excited if it's dry and pasty-looking.

When I prepare my oatmeal, I like using old fashioned oats. Compared to instant oatmeal, it takes a little longer to cook (about 15 minutes) but definitely faster than steel cut Irish oatmeal, which takes 30 minutes. I use more liquid than necessary (maybe an extra 1/2 cup) so it doesn't end up too dry. I allow the liquid (water, 2% milk or soy milk) to simmer, then add in the oats. Then my favorite part -- the fixin's! One of my favorites is fresh fruit, depending on what I have in my fridge. I include some of the fruit as the oatmeal cooks and leave some as toppings. Today I used peaches & blueberries:

The fruit adds sweetness, flavor & texture and what a Tada! breakfast that makes!