Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to Find Extra Time on a Thursday

This week has turned into a blog-break-week. After the long pre-Christmas nights trying to get things done (like, um, gifts), I've been trying to relax more this week. Tonight we're getting together with my family to meet a baby cousin I haven't seen yet, and then there's New Year's Eve and Day coming up...

This morning, however, I'm sitting here with my breakfast and hot coffee trying to warm up a little and waiting for our water to do the same. The hot water heater has been acting up and I am NOT in the mood for a chilly shower. So here I wait, with a little "extra" time. Luckily my work schedule is very flexible, or I'd be in trouble running this late. I'm tempted to occupy myself looking at one of the books I got for Christmas, but that would make me very late.

That being said, here's a small peek at some of the goodies my family gave me (I confess, these are the ones that haven't been put away yet):

Why yes, that's a gorgeous print from Kate Fete, along with Craft, Inc., the Alabama Stitch Book, and Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts. And an ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer - I <3 ice cream!

My family chose good. And now I'm off to (hopefully!) find some hot water.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We got our first Christmas tree this year. This is our fifth Christmas together (married), but for two of them, we weren't home for Christmas, one of them we weren't even on the same continent, and last year we were staying in my in-laws vacation home and didn't want to bring a tree and all its mess into it. With all the last-minute craziness that's been going on this week, I don't have any updated pictures of the tree - I made a tree skirt (well, halfway made) and it had some presents under it, but at least I got something photographed!

Notice the chair: That's how close the tree is to our dining room table

I also collect ornaments as souvenirs; this is from our honeymoon:

Got this one at the King Tut exhibit in San Francisco last year:

And these are ornaments I've been collecting for... 18 years? That seems like a really long time. My grandma always bought them for me when I was growing up; after she passed away, my mom bought me one and I'm trying to find this years'. I think I'll be ordering it online at this point; time got away from me and the ornament displays are pretty much cleared out.


I love that my tree is filled with memories. Here's to a very Merry Christmas and lots of great new memories!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Already?

I have done hardly any holiday baking this year. Not that I usually do much, but I've only made 1 batch of cookies. I need to make something for dessert tomorrow though. No idea what I'm going to do. Christmas kind of ran at me this year and I feel like I haven't gotten much done. I finally mailed off our Christmas cards today, and the presents are all wrapped and under the tree, but that's about it. Being sick last week kind of threw me off track.

I am in love with these mini gingerbread houses from Not Martha, though:

Aren't they awesome? I'd love to have a bunch of them for a Christmas party or for the family on Christmas Eve. I don't think my family is big on gingerbread though... What new recipe have you tried out this year?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12 Days of Christmas - Part 4

The final days of my Christmas treasuries:

Tenth Day of Christmas:
Eleventh Day of Christmas:
Twelfth Day of Christmas:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Days of Christmas - Part 3

More Etsy treasuries!

by alyssaettinger

Seventh Day of Christmas:

Eighth Day of Christmas:

Ninth Day of Christmas:

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Days of Christmas - Part 2

Here are the treasuries for the next three days of Christmas:

by SecretCharm

The Fourth Day of Christmas:

The Fifth Day of Christmas:

The Sixth Day of Christmas:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of Christmas - Part 1

I put together 12 treasuries on Etsy over the last couple weeks, each featuring one of the twelve days of Christmas. Here are the first 3:

by rawartletterpress

The First Day of Christmas:

The Second Day of Christmas:

The Third Day of Christmas:

You might notice at this point, some of the items are gone - hopefully they've all been sold!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


How pretty are these? Original seaweed pressings by Coastal Prezence: Red & green, so they're Christmas-y, right?

Love them. If I ever get an office/craft room - even half of one - I will buy these and put them in there.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sound and Silence

Another day at home, still sick... Not much happening, but I'm listening to Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong, which is my most favorite Christmas album right now.

I was flipping through the December copy of Real Simple, and found this wonderful photo by Nicholas McElroy. You can see it here, about halfway down the page. It just has such a feeling of quiet; he says, "I just couldn't resist jumping out to experience the sense of total silence you get in such a remote location."

Also in Real Simple: This hazelnut ganache tart, which makes me hungry. I LOVE hazelnut + chocolate. Recipe & photo via Real Simple.

Now, this is the type of thing I think I need to eat when I'm not feeling well.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Well, I'm home sick today. My husband was kind enough to share his cold with me.

Between sleeping and drinking lots of tea, I want to work on this:

All fabric is Kate Spain's 12 Days of Christmas for Moda
Which is actually 3 projects, one of which isn't even cut out yet. Project 1 is a tree skirt - we were going to pick out a tree yesterday, but since the husband was sick, we put it off (again). Project 2 is a "12 Days of Christmas" garland, because how could I pass up that adorable 12 Days of Christmas fabric? Project 3 is stockings to match the tree skirt.

Let's see how far I get with this...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Food

Do you know your holiday foods? Take this quiz from Martha Stewart - I got 6 out of 8 - and was surprised. I guessed on quite a few.

Then visit these links for more yummy goodness:

Buche de Noel

Yorkshire Pudding (and other yummy treats)

Pistachio-Cocoa Nib Macarons with Bourbon Buttercream - Ok, not related to the quiz, but they sound wonderful. And Helene is French, and this post does mention all sorts of French goodies, and Buche Noel is French, so.... yes. That is all I need to say about it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

SF Etsy Team - Nice to meet you, Katy!

I love where I live, and I'm fortunate to be able to live so close to the city. I recently joined the San Francisco Etsy team; there's an amazing group of artists and crafters in this area. I want to introduce a few of them over the next few weeks.

Photo by J. Astra Brinkmann

The first Etsy seller I'm featuring here is Katy Atchison. She sells adorable prints, paintings, cards, and hair accessories. She describes herself as "an illustrator, crafter & explorer." You can visit her Etsy shop at Here are a few of her items that I especially liked:

"Robots in Love" painting

"Eggplant n Carrot BFF of Flavor" original drawing

Bright Peacock Feather hair clip

Bee and Daisy greeting card

Black and White Ball Feather Hair Accessory with 1920s Vintage Button

Aren't they bright and fun? I think her illustrations would be fantastic in a nursery or kid's room, but they'd also brighten up any spot in your home. And I'm always looking for fun hair clips, especially around the holidays.
 Photo by J. Astra Brinkmann
You can find out more about Katy through any of your preferred social media :)


And I saw on her Facebook page that she's got a little giveaway going on! "Fan me and win a Katy Atchison original illustration or painting. Two drawings this month...the 15th and the 31st of December!"

Photo by J. Astra Brinkmann

Please visit her and add a little bit of sunshine to your day :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Cards

I sat down to work on our Christmas card for 2010 and basically spent an entire evening getting nothing done. I found a card I really liked online, but figured out after playing around with it that it would cost me $80 for the number of cards I wanted. Not quite what I was looking for; in the past, I've just printed out our cards at home, and they were really more of Christmas letters than cards. I wanted a photo card this year but with a little blurb about us - a quick update for those we don't see very often. Apparently that's not a common thing to want, because most of the cards I looked at didn't have any space for text.

I was browsing around on Etsy and realized that - hello! - there are a bunch of sellers with adorable digital layouts who will make my card for me, customize it to my heart's content, and then I can just get it printed somewhere local. Now I just need to choose one!

I think this one is my favorite, from Sugar Tree Studio. Maybe in red, though. Our Christmas photo was taken in an apple orchard and has a pretty green background that I think would look good with red. Update to come when the card is done!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wreath 2010

I finally made my wreath this weekend. I actually bought the wreath form back in October, and I was going to use it for an autumn wreath bedecked with felt and whatever other embellishments I could find around here.

Instead, it sat around until Christmas. I kept it pretty simple; I would like to make the hanger fit in a little better but don't have any good ideas for it right now. I used a grapevine wreath form ($1), wrapped it in strips of grey wool felt leftover from trying to trim down some wonky squares (that's another story), and added felt leaves and berries.

I used masking tape to attach the felt on the back. The green and cream felt is just acrylic craft felt that I freehand cut into the shapes I wanted, and then I glued them to the grey felt with craft glue.

At first, the "D" in the center was hanging from the wreath by monofilament, but it's so light that it kept flipping around. I put some blue tacky stuff on the back and stuck it straight to the door. It's just a little wooden letter I found at a craft store and painted grey. Simple and easy!

*Also check out Rachel's wreath - it's super cute! *

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finally, some decorations are up

I did a little Christmas decorating last night. I finally took down my pumpkins and little Thanksgiving pilgrims and pulled out my boxes...

At that point, I realized that I don't really have very many Christmas decorations. Also, we live in a 1-bedroom apartment, so there's not a ton of extra space. Luckily, those two things work out well enough. We're going to go get our tree this weekend - since the majority of my Christmas boxes really just have ornaments in them, at least it will be well-covered in decorations.

There was one thing I made last year that I was looking for, and I finally found it at the bottom of a box. It's this little frame with some Smooshy Stack Trees inspired by Lolly.

Lolly's instructions are great, so click the link above if you want to see how to make them. For my trees, I only used two fabrics, a red and a green polka dot. I made sure the green was on top for all of the trees. I made 5 trees in all, and I think two of them might be the same size but the others are all different. I backed it all in a red and white paper that I had.

I decided to put it on our bookshelf for now, since that seems to be my central point for Christmas decor
In the middle, I added a chipboard "peace" that I probably picked up for $1 at Michael's or something. I put it all on a frame that I had sitting around; it's not made for 3-d objects so the trees are kind of flattened down in there and I had to put masking tape all around the back to hold everything in place. But it works! I just didn't want to spend money on a new frame. It also wasn't a planned-out project; I just sat down one night and decided to make it. But I love it!

It's a fun little accent that I can put basically anywhere, and I love how the glitter looks with Christmas lights near it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crochet Christmas Trees

I was at Joann Fabrics one day, and while browsing through the store (as I always do when I'm in there, I can't help it), I saw a fun sock yarn that was red, green, blue, and white. Loved it immediately. I have a lot of blues, greens, and red in my main living spaces, and that's what I was leaning towards for Christmas. This yarn needed to be made into something for Christmas.

Patons Kroy sock yarn in Summer Moss
I decided to make a garland with it. I have some up on Etsy, but I made myself one, too, because I love it. I crocheted several small Christmas trees and attached them to a long chain made from the same yarn. This is the first year I really get to decorate for Christmas and I'm so excited!

Handmade garland on the handmade bookcase
I can't really share a pattern for the trees because I don't have one. I liked them all to be a little different, so I didn't try to make a pattern. Then I made a wonderfully perfect tree the other day - but couldn't figure out what I did and thus, still no pattern. I tried them several different ways. Here's what I do:

* I found that starting at the top and working my way down was much easier than starting at the bottom.
* I begin with a chain 3, make a loop, and work 3 double crochets into the loop, then increase for about 3 rows, decrease quite a bit, then increase for about 3 rows... etc. Until it looks right. Technical, right?
* Sometimes I pull it out and redo a row. Just eyeball it. How's that for technical.
* Sometimes I mix up single and double crochet.
* It helps to do a treble crochet on the ends (or just something longer than what you're using) to keep it straight and not rounded up, if you know what I mean. Otherwise it can start looking like... this:

I did actually spend (too much) time on this terrible graphic
I have another crocheted garland to share soon. I promise to be more helpful with that one! Haha. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas is coming!

I listened to Christmas music quite a bit today. Did a quick update in the Etsy shop and here on the blog for a holiday banner.

Busy with work and little details. I might share a little about those trees up in the banner tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday at Home

Well, this is what my black Friday is looking like so far:

Making things for the shop, watching Grey's Anatomy and Robin Hood, coffee, snacks... I had pumpkin pie for breakfast, shhh. It's grey and chilly outside, so I've got a cozy blanket and my slippers. My husband is busy working in the craziness that is a mall on Black Friday. The dog is snoring on his pillow. No way I'm going out shopping; I don't want to deal with the crowds today!

Speaking of Black Friday, I have a special going on at Etsy, now through Monday (Black Friday, Cyber Monday... don't you love all those titles? or not) - all items are marked down already, but if you enter the code BLACKFRIDAY2010 for my store at checkout, you'll get a grand total of 25% off all items and free shipping. Quite a few sellers are having sales; I love that you can buy handcrafted goodies without leaving the house. I'll be adding more items to my shop through the weekend. Which means I need to get back to making them!

This is a garland in the making, by the way. I have plans to make some of my own decorations, today, too - like a tree skirt. Let's see how much I can actually get done!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

French Toast

I'm ready for the holidays to start. We're spending Thanksgiving with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law; it's so fun to be here and not by ourselves in Virginia! It's a relatively small Thanksgiving group compared to what we've had some years, but it will be good.

My mom, my sis-in-law, and I are all cooking, so I had to get supplies. I'm making candied yams, rolls, pumpkin pie, and some snacks for earlier in the day. I wasn't quite sure what I was making and what I needed until Sunday, so I ended up going to the grocery store tonight - and it was kind of crazy. Too many people. And I forgot eggs, so I had to go back in. And while I was grabbing eggs, I decided I wanted whipping cream too. At least with only 2 things I could do self checkout and get out quicker.

I'm looking forward to the long weekend, too, but unfortunately my husband will be working so I don't think we get any lazy days together. I love having a late breakfast with him, but we don't get to do that very often anymore. This was my breakfast on Saturday, French toast:

Does anyone else top their French toast with powdered sugar and cinnamon? I didn't realize until I was a teenager that most people top theirs with syrup. This is how my mom always made it. I love when the sugar gets a little dissolved into the butter and it's all brought together with cinnamon... mmmm.

Whatever you eat this Thanksgiving, I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend Update

Well, I wasn't feeling great over the weekend; I think I'm fighting with a little cold. It was a moderately productive weekend, though.

Last week I actually made a lightbox, seen here:

It's not pretty, but it gets the job done. At least, it's sort of helpful. I don't have a good light to use with it, and as you can see, it's rather flimsy. But overall, it's better than what I was getting with poor lighting and a lightweight camera. Makes things easier.

I worked on this little guy (Etsy shop preview!); hand-stitched while watching Coraline. Which was interesting. I know I'm a little late to this, but hey, I'm not exactly a "cutting-edge" person. I liked it as a movie; the characters were fun and interesting. The whole stop-motion, crafty, handmade aspect amazes me.

I also made one of the autumn potholders.

It's super-thick and I love the stitched "veins." I felted two sweaters for this; the grey one was thrifted and the red one is an old one of mine (I'm too lazy to care for wool sweaters properly, so it had become too small). First time felting wool myself, and it was so fun! With the thrifted one, I turned a loose-fitting women's medium into a child-sized sweater about an inch thick. Not really an inch, but that grey wool is actually a good 3/8" thick now.

I'm planning to bring it to my mom's for Thanksgiving dinner. That bowl needs some food in it. So excited for the holidays to begin!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Adding & Connecting

I now have a link to the Etsy shop here on the blog, along with a link to the brand-new Facebook page - both are over there --> on the sidebar.

I have also somehow connected Facebook to Etsy, and there are links to Twitter and this here blog on Etsy... It all feels very circular and makes my brain spin a little. We were watching The Office tonight and I felt like I needed a weird version of WUPHF.

Craftiness to happen tomorrow. Hopefully I can make time for some Christmas goodies, because I want to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving - and that's next week! It doesn't quite seem like November to me yet, but maybe a nice, rainy weekend will help.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Go Vote at Design*Sponge!

If you haven't seen it, Design*Sponge is having a "Design Your Own Alphabet" contest. On day 2, I saw Skunkling, which I really liked and has made it into the top 3. Then I found out today that it was designed by one of my husband's high school classmates! Go vote for him!

*** Update: He won! ***

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Etsy Treasuries

Well, I may have found a new addiction. I made my first treasury today:

And I am also IN my first treasury!

It's so fun to dig around, figure out a theme, find items that go together... It takes some time, though!