Share the love

Hi friends! It’s been awhile.. I have been inspired by lots of love around me and am hoping to hop back on the blog bandwagon in the coming weeks.. so, come back for more!

Here’s a LOVE-ly tutorial on a gift I made my sister and her husband for Christmas.. great for any married couple, any time of year.

Supplies:

  • Old frame
  • Photo mat (available at craft stores, photo framing stores)
  • Maps of the places the happy couple met, got engaged and was married
  • Tacky glue or other adhesive like spray glue (be sure to read instructions!)
  • Exacto knife
  • Alphabet rubber stampers, optional

This idea was inspired by projects I had seen on Pinterest and I had a lot of old frames lying around from estate sales. It certainly took a bit of patience but was not time-consuming in any way.

  1. Cut your chosen matting to fit your frame with an Exacto knife, or have it cut at the framing shop (they’ll often do this for free and give you any matting that is leftover)
  2. Trace and cut out your three cities from the maps; choose a layout you are happy with and glue away! (I chose to trace my maps into a heart shape freehand, but use a heart cookie cutter or something similar if you want a specific shape.)
  3. On some scrap paper, stamp out or write out “We Met”, “We Married”, “We Live” and glue under the matching hearts.
  4. Pop your matting into the frame and enjoy!
  5. Optional: Go to your local frame shop and have them back the matting in the frame once you are done so it will stay securely in place; I did this because all I had was an empty frame with no backing.. essentially all you need is some strong core board or cardboard, hook and eyes and some wire and you can do it yourself. Take it one step further and have a piece of glass cut for the front as well at your local glass and window shop!

Share the love, friends.

A DIY Christmas

I’ve been tweeting all month and posting on Facebook about #DIYdecember, an idea that popped into my head at the end of November and I had a blast finding new projects and coming up with creative and alternative gifts.  The idea behind it all was simply to look around at all the things I already have and create meaningful & useful gifts that are low impact and high style.

I’ve been neglecting the blog and haven’t posted any DIY’s all week and so, to ring in a new year, here are all of the secret DIYs I put together for gifts and some that I received.. enjoy!

A daily calendar/journal, divided into months with postcards. My mom can write down one sentence or thing to remember every day over the years for the next 10, 20, 50 years.

Created out of maps and with an old frame and some matting, I cut out the places where my sister and brother in law met, married and live.

Using old Scrabble tiles, cork and glue, I made coasters for my brother to go along with his growler of beer from the local brewery.

For a few of my West Coast friends, I put together craft boxes out of old cigar boxes filled with supplies for creative freedom.

Using Scrabble tiles again, I made wine charms out of some old charms that had broken.. all we needed to do was drill holes in the tiles and assemble.

From my friend Farmer Al, I received a package of homemade/handmade goodies including soap, vanilla extract, chocolate bark, apple butter and carmelized onion jam.

My brother's girlfriend knit this headband for me from a pattern she found online, complete with polka dot ribbon to tie!

For a tutorial on the daily calendar, visit DesignSponge.  I’m hoping to post tutorials on the Scrabble coasters soon but feel free to comment on this post with any questions about the projects. Most of them are super simple and require just three to four materials, easy as that! A happy and crafty New Years’ Eve to you all.. cheers to 2012!

DIY Ideas from a Domestic Diva

This guest post was written by my wonderful friend over at Speak with your Food, Alex.. she is a cooking goddess, a food know-it-all and my go-to guru when I have any crafty/foodie questions.. enjoy her post below on DIY foodie gifts!

#DIYDecember: Stress-free + fancy (last-minute) food gifts

Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus/Kwanzaa/whatever-holiday-you-celebrate is just around the corner…and, you don’t have any gifts ready. No worries – here are a few no-fuss ideas for those special people in your life:

Chocolate bark: This is my go-to candy for impromtu get-togethers. It’s so easy: Melt some chocolate, add some seeds and dried fruit, a pinch of sea salt and/or your favorite spices, let it set, break into pieces and put in a bag, tin or good ol’ mason jar. Check out more details from my blog here. Bark doesn’t excite you? Try some of these other healthful candy recipes from The Nourishing Gourmet.

Chocolate Bark

Tea/tisane blends: There may be a pill for every ill, but the same can be said for tea AND you can make your own blends for a fraction of the cost! Since people seem to be unnecessarily stressed-out during this time of year – often leading to colds – why not try a blend of dried calendula (medicinal marigolds), nettle, spearmint, hibiscus, red clover and lemon balm? Simply mix in your preferred proportions based on your own tastes or those of the recipient, and store in a tin or glass jar. Gift with a tea infuser and make it pretty with some fabric for the lid and a nice label describing the blend. Your local health food store should carry dried herbs and flowers in its bulk section, with descriptions of each, and there’s usually an expert on hand if you have any questions.  If you’re a little fearful of the herb world, check out Mountain Rose Herbs for some blend ideas before you make your own.

Hot cocoa mix: All you need: cocoa powder, sugar and/or a pinch of sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and/or cayenne pepper. The proportions are 2 cups of sugar to 1 cup of cocoa. (Sounds like a lot, but think about all the packaging you save by making it in such a big batch.) If using sea salt and/or spices, add sparingly and to taste. If you want to be fancy, put a vanilla bean directly into the mix to enhance the cocoa flavor. Place in a mason jar – pretty much always the appropriate vessel for any gift. Local milk, homemade almond milk, marshmallows and/or a (thrift store) mug offer the perfect accompaniments!

Cookies, cookies, cookies: No slice-and-bake here. Make them from scratch**. My favorites: Teff Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe from the amazing Clean Food cookbook), chocolate crinkles, granola bars/raspberry oat bars and, the standard, sugar cookies. Bust out the family recipes and get baking!

Dog biscuits: Can’t leave out our better halves. Avoid the creepy processed treats from the store and make these. It’s also an excuse to get out the cookie cutters. My friend gave me this recipe a few years ago and I’ve made them ever since. Here’s the recipe:

Homemade dog biscuits

1 c. of whole wheat, all-purpose or spelt flour

1/2 Tbl. baking powder

1/2 c. peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower butter

1/2 c. milk (cow or non-dairy)

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.

2. In a medium to large bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In a smaller bowl, mix peanut butter and milk. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.

3. Pour the dough onto a floured surface, shape into a ball and roll out until dough is a 1/4″ thick. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters or free-hand.

4. Put cookies onto a lined baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes.

**A note on ingredients: Use fair trade, locally grown and/or organic ingredients when possible. Now is not the time to skimp on quality. Feel good about the gifts you give, not only because you made them but also for the ingredients you’ve used, which were harvested and produced in an ethically and socially responsible manner.**

Make your own recipe book! When all else fails, remind yourself of the adage that it’s the thought that counts. Make your own recipe book out of an old notebook or a few pieces of blank paper, a cardboard box for the front and back covers and some yarn, twine or hemp to use as the binding. Include a few of your favorite recipes to inspire a friend or loved one to get in the kitchen.

Alright, time’s a-wastin’; get cooking and crafting. Happy holidays!

 

B is for Baby

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It was certainly a bookworm baby shower for Baby D and Mommy (my sister) this past weekend! An avid reader growing up, all I can ever remember my sister wanting to be when she grew up was a teacher and that is her vocation today. Her classroom and home are filled with children’s books, old and new and we thought it was only fitting to celebrate her baby shower for the new bundle of joy with a bookworm baby shower.

With a lot of help from mom, we transformed an open space into a DIY, crafty, bookworm baby shower. With 27 friends and family members attending, we had our work cut out for us. We baked and cooked all of our own food for the brunch, including three quiches, scones, french toast casserole, sticky buns, fruit and yogurt parfait. This made for a homier feel.. we also made favors for each guest; a button cookie and a bookmark to remember the day.

We spent a good amount of time on decorations and everything came together very nicely, without really needing to buy a lot of supplies. I was able to create bunting with leftover fabric and twine and blew up color copies of favorite book covers for wall decorations. I used burlap and fabric to create a “Baby” banner and took baby photos of Sam and Dan (mommy and daddy) and made them into enlarged posters. Table decor included old board books tied with twine and large confetti cut out of story books with a burlap table runner. Place settings were mismatched china from our own dish collection, one from an estate sale and my great-grandmother’s china.

Our major project at the baby shower was an alphabet book for Baby D. Each guest took a letter of the alphabet and created a page.. O for Owl, S for Safari, M for Monkey… 26 pages of love to pass onto Baby D!

Will share a tutorial on how to make one of our decorations, a bookworm made of leftover fabric, burlap and matting.. stay tuned for DIY December!

Where the living is easy and the people are kind..

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A weekend spent in a new city with old friends. Is there anything better? To explore, discover, dance, walk, talk and be is a blessing when with the people in your life. Boston was the perfect place for me to visit this past weekend and be with friends I haven’t seen in a year or two. And yet, with friends like these and days like these, it is like no time has passed at all.

Things I learned, or remembered I knew:

  • One should always have a fantastic hat, from a wonderful shop (like Goorin Bros.)
  • Playing in the leaves is good exercise and gives you a rosy glow
  • Coffee made by a friend tastes much better than any other coffee
  • Cooking together, with whole foods, satisfies any hunger
  • Dancing is best in a dimly lit room, with twinkle lights
  • Riding public transportation allows time & space for entertaining other riders
  • Late nights make the best mornings
Thank you, Cambridge for a beautiful weekend. Friends, I will be back soon. Where to next?

I went to the woods…

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. (Walden, Thoreau)

When Thoreau went into the woods in 1845, he was not seeking to escape from society and its people. He was hoping to find joy in a simplified lifestyle and to be self-sufficient. It matters not how much he spent to build his cabin or how he acquired his tools for growing his own food. He kept correspondence with the people in his life and was aware of the world’s happenings as he was merely at the edge of town.

How would we consider our values and everyday life differently if we considered our surroundings and blessings each and every day? What impact do you have on the world?