Tuesday, December 16, 2014

handmade holidays

handmade holiday round-up

As I was checking on my blog for my spicy bark recipe, I realized I should really do= my usual round-up of crafty ideas for the holidays. So let's revisit some projects and roundups from past winters to serve as visual reminders for you (and me!).  A good idea is a wonderful thing to recycle.  Incorporating handmade into your home and gifts always adds more meaning to the holidays, and the benefits are vast. It ensures that there's less rushing about out. And if you create with friends and family, traditions are formed and memories made. There's still time...
log tray 2
diy yule log candle tray here
herb gift toppers
herb gift toppers found here
christmas wrapping
wrapping suggestions here

spicy chocolate bark
recipe found here
simple gifts: diy wristies (loose option)
tutorial found here

oat floats
oat floats: how to found here
diy: frilled pencils
diy frilled pencils (great stocking stuffers!)
And here are a plethora of good ones from deeper in the archives!

Above are some well-loved decoration ideas. Links are from left to right.
Row 1: burlap forestsnow covered pine conescranberry wreath
Row 2: rag wreathnewspaper snowflake garlandbatting scrap wreath ornament

The following are links for simple gifts that whip up quickly. Once again from left to right.
Row 1:  elf slipperscard holdersmilk carton cookie houses
Row 2:  napkin rings and other security paper ideasgift bag/boxes, leather leaf cuff
Row 3:  wrapping ideaschild's travel pillowpaper whites
Row 4:  love letter pillow, travel felt boardenvelope purses
Row 5: quick personalized stationerymemory gamelast minute treat bags

Happy Making!
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Monday, December 15, 2014


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here- finally!
 We have yet to decorate our tree… just lights for now.  We're finding just the right balance of celebrating our favorite family traditions and making some new ones. Stockings have not been hung yet. I'm thinking of making a brand new batch for this year. Our previous ones were finished up on Christmas eve 10 years ago- not knowing I would have a surprise Christmas present… my early little girly. Fresh stockings are calling me to my sewing machine.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014


 A snow storm is blowing in this afternoon, so I went out to gather twigs for decorating. Fallen branches make such beautiful winter bouquets. I have some tall vases on my mantle for the big guys and will make a mini one out of the smalls. I had to force myself out into the cold, but the crisp air punctuated by a bird call or two, left me feeling peaceful and uplifted. And made coming inside all more cozy! Simplicity around the holidays has been my motto for the last few years. I can't say that I achieve it fully, but I continue to strive for it.
I think this handful of sticks will be a good reminder of the silence outside as the earth quiets down for a long nap. This year has made me a bit sleepy too… Snuggling up in wool, sipping hot cups of chai and slowing down rather than speeding up should do the trick. 

P.s. I've announced the winner of a copy of Artful Christmas right here. Congratulations!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Artful Christmas- a review and giveaway!!

I have a treat for us today! Artful Christmas (published by Lark Crafts) is the brand new book by Susan Wasinger. I've loved all of her books. She's a creative whirlwind of ideas that combine clever techniques with easy (and often eco) materials. All of which wouldn't impress me as much if I didn't also love her aesthetic- a compliment I don't hand out liberally. And she's prolific- check out her books here. My love for the winter holidays and resourceful decorating is no secret… so Susan has just published one of my new favorite books. I'm pretty certain that you'll love it too.
 Some of her projects are not new, but the easy instructions and little twists she uses makes each one fresh and more enticing than ever. I've always wanted to make a doily bowl… now I actually will.  Can you imagine a holiday table with a smattering of different sized "snowflake" bowls holding votives?! Lovely!
 Stocking Inspiration is always welcome. I might even make the three of us a new set this year. Time for fresh starts on old traditions. And what to do with those old decks missing a few cards? Love these ornaments.
 Needle-felted wool on linen with raw edges! Need I say more? 
 And then there's the advent calendar… Susan shares some brilliant ways to create different designs on the front with stencils and stamps. Stencils and stamps may be two of my favorite words!

With 30 craft projects for Christmas making, all are quite elegant even if the materials are very humble. I envision pulling this out each year- excited to try something new. I think it would make a perfect present waiting under the tree for all of the crafty folks out there… and worth checking out right now to add some making magic to this festive month.

And here comes the giveaway! Thank you to Susan and Lark Crafts, who would love to offer one of you (in the US or Canada) a copy. Please leave a comment below by Monday 12/9 at 9pm. Perhaps share one of your favorite things about this time of year: a smell, a craft, a treat, or an activity. I'll announce the randomly selected winner on Tuesday!  Good luck!
Now I'm off to paper punch some more playing cards for some weekend fun!


And the winner is…

Now I know what I can do with all those playing cards floating around here! Every year I look forward to getting out my grandmother's "Christmas is Coming" craft books from the 80's. I really need to update my collection!! 

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Monday, December 1, 2014

counting the days!

I woke up to my daughter crowing "Happy December!".  It's her birthday in a few weeks, and no one is more excited for this favorite month to begin than she is. Candy canes, eggnog and carols have been everywhere for some time, but we wait patiently until the first of the month… and then we throw open the doors! I brought down decorations from the attic this morning and am setting up our advent calendar for when the kids return home this afternoon. I've saved all three of my TP Tube countdown calendars and am always so relieved to have one ready to go each year when I turn the calendar page.
Don't think it's too late to make one… in fact, I know a mom who made one a day starting on the first day. Adding each addition was part of the count down activity itself. Talk about working creatively with time constraints! If you don't have 24 tubes handy, folded over card stock works nicely too.
Links to calendars of years past:

counting down

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Friday, November 28, 2014

thankful sale and talismans!

 I do hope you're enjoying a warm and happy end to this week. I wanted to take this moment to let you know how deeply grateful I am to be able to share this space with you for all of these years- what an amazing community of friends you all are! I think of you as I slip outside with my camera… as I try out new recipes… and always when I make something!
And I've just made something for all of us who follow our creative passions and want to wear what we love close to our heart… here are the first three of my line of Talismans- Tools of the Trade.
 Each side is a tiny reproduction of my hand carved stamps. The sewing machine reverses to scissors, as you recall. The yarn ball has a sheep on its other side and the camera has a roll of film (for all of us nostalgics). You can see more pics and read about each one in my shop where they are now available to purchase. And while you're there- I'm having an incredible sale! My tried and true patterns are all half off and my book is 20% off! These prices will last through the weekend. All are wonderful ideas for holiday gift giving.  Visit my shop here.

Thanks again for all of your love, encouragement support! 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

talismans of the trade

A few years ago I found what I thought was my perfect necklace. It was a reproduction of little black sewing machine on a chain. I envisioned wearing it as I taught sewing classes, and imagined it would give me super powers as I sat down to my machine to stitch. Too bad it was big, bulky and cumbersome... and snagged on everything. Not practical for a someone like me- a minimalist when it comes to jewelry and accessories. I think I wore it once! I've been dreaming up my ideal necklace ever since, and last week I began in earnest to design it. After several prototypes- I got it! That's what my sewing machine stamp was all about. I reduced it, along with my favorite scissor stamp, and created a necklace I truly love. 
 Simple, timeless, smooth to the touch and a perfect weight... a total delight to wear. Yes! It feels and looks like a polished stone or maybe glazed ceramic... but it's not. Paper, steel and glue... with a smidgen of clay- and lots of love and care. I strung it on an adjustable waxed cotton cord for sturdiness and the ability switch up the length according to what I'm wearing. 

talisman |ˈtalismən-iz-|
noun ( pl. talismans )an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck. I do believe that a talisman of your tool of the trade might just give you some magical powers... so I'm working on a series! For me, for you, and for all of our creative tool loving friends. The first two will be available in my shop by week's end. And I will announce it right here and in all of my other virtual homes. I'm so excited to be using my stamped illustrations in all new ways. Here's a clue to the second talisman. Below is one side, and I'm currently working on the image for the back. Thinking wooly thoughts for all of my fiber folks!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014


More snow and continued bitter cold is in the forecast. Perfect nesting weather, that's keeping me in cooking, baking, making mode- it's my happy space for the holidays. Soups, muffins, cookies, sewing, carving stamps... They are all happening simultaneously these days!

While in DC over the weekend, I had the most exquisite lunch at the National Art Gallery... felt like a feast from a French country farmhouse- you can find a link to the buffet menu here. I essentially want to just duplicate it for our Thanksgiving dinner. As I was savoring the Pumpkin Bisque, I was trying to figure out the ingredients to repeat it at home... and at the end of the meal they brought complimentary recipe cards to our table. What a sweet surprise to have it handed to me. Here it is for you too! I was thinking- what a great Thanksgiving idea. If you are making/baking something very special- why not print it up the recipe ahead of time to hand out to your guests at they leave- or the host if you are bringing your contribution elsewhere. Perhaps you've already done this or maybe thought of it- but since I hadn't, a reminder to all of you brilliant friends out there can't hurt!

These are now my go-to pumpkin muffins for my family. And all the kids that frequent our home. I use this recipe from smitten kitchen, but substitute butter for oil, use 1/4 cup less sugar, and add these chocolate chunks and cranberries. We've been watching the Cupcake Wars on Netflix recently... and are inspired to frost EVERYTHING, even muffins. Maybe a honey cream cheese frosting with a sliver of candied ginger- yes? YES!

The second issue of Mabel arrived in my mailbox, and I enjoyed it last night with a glass of wine and set aside a moment this morning with tea. Perfect by the fire reading-  it's a decadent dessert and comfort food all rolled into one. So proud of my talented friends who have created such a fabulous new edition to the (printed) publishing world... and excited for all of the creative contributors to have a new platform to showcase their work and share their voice. Hello to cover art by my girl- Pixie Lighthorse!


And this is a sneak peek at a new project I'm working on... the process and testing of new stamps (for something special) is always exciting!

Sending you wishes for cozy and creative days ahead...

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Friday, November 14, 2014


Brrrrr! Along with much of the Northeast, I woke up to freezing temps and this lovely dusting of snow. It inspired some early planting of paper whites. See here for where I'm heading with them.
I even squeezed in some peaceful handwork time. As much as I dread the winter... I sure do love the instant coziness of working with thread and linen as the snow falls outside. It was made all the sweeter having my daughter home with me today. Her enthusiasm for this time of year make everything more fun.
 Hope you can set aside some slow and cozy time this weekend, as well. 

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

gold leaf

 Our magnolia tree is finally releasing her leaves. On Saturday I had two assistants to help me gather some for an experiment.
 Silver and gold paint. Leaves. Foam brushes. Some newspaper spread on the floor. Hours of engagement! The largest of the leaves are thick and very sturdy, but not so much for the smaller ones.
A couple of days have passed and the smalls are curling up as dry leaves do. The process ended up being far more rewarding than I had anticipated, so if my planned end result morphs that's ok by me.
"Metal" leaves are definitely a new favorite around here.
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Monday, November 10, 2014

foxy friends

Last week I got the call from Quilter's Corner that my sewing machine was ready to be picked up after a much needed servicing. It's always a happy reunion when I've been separated from my favorite machine (a Pfaff classic). My daughter accompanied me. She has the same response to fabric stores that all sewers have... excitement, inspiration, and a desire for just one (or two) more bits of fabric. However, she often claims that she is NOT a sewer- and doesn't like to sew.  Humph. This dichotomy always leaves me a bit bewildered.

When she discovered a foxy flannel fat quarter and began "nicely" begging with clear intentions for what she would make out of it, I couldn't help but get my "mama sewer" hopes up. She knows just how to hook me- and we went home with the sweet flannel below.
Her idea was to utilize the space around each fox and make mini stuffies- a whole family of them. And she did- immediately.
She even taught her friend how to make some later on that day during sleepover. It was a fox frenzy!
One fat quarter of this, makes a lot! And keeps little hands stitching happily for hours with some very immediate results.
The girls even made fox storage pouches and  accessories... sleeping bags, pillows, bowls, messenger bag and a chicken drumstick! And then carefully arranged them for a photo shoot. Thanks girls!
Wouldn't these make perfect little gifts?  Great stocking stuffers or fun presents kids can make on their own are always welcome additions to the holidays... glad my girl got inspired!

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