As mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm the proud mama to a new blog. It's up and running now, so I wanted to link y'all to it.
It's called Dwell Well Northwest, and it's probably going to be of most interest to people who live in the Spokane area. It lives on a site called Down to Earth that the marketing arm of our local newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, runs.
The overall mission of Dwell Well is to link folks to home, garden and craft happenings in the Inland Northwest, all with an underlying "green" message. The earth-friendly backdrop is sometimes subtle (hello, anything made and bought locally takes a step toward sustainability since we're not burning the fuel we would need to ship it from China). Other times, the green message will be more blatant.
Here's a (blurry) shot from a post last weekend about an art show held in a vacant house.
Those sweet little octopussies, along with many other amazing things, were made by Jacinda Tusler and Tiffany Patterson of Polly and Ester.
I'm having fun with Dwell Well already, especially working with an old friend and colleague who is my Down to Earth editor now. And, to prove what a small town Spokane really is, I also get to work with Klay, a blogger I've mentioned here several times who works for the newspaper as a graphic designer.
If you get a chance, please check out the new blog. I'm still working out some kinks (like figuring out how to post more than one photo per post) and coming to grips with the fact that I have to do a bit of html coding (urgh!!!). Please, please feel free to make comments. I love hearing what other people have to say, and it's always good to know I'm not floating along on my own here in cyberspace.
Even if you don't live in Spokane, you might find some interesting stuff there. A few minutes ago, I posted a link to a great New York Times article about hosting a winter wonderland dinner party for eight on a budget. Looks like fun, huh?
Thanksgiving is such a nice holiday. J and I had a great time cooking together, starting last night with the side dishes. Bo contributed, too, peeling the yams, pouring the sugar into the whipping cream, licking the beaters, feeding her sister crayons. It was magical.
Really. Slowing down to cook together and listing the many things we were thankful for as they came to mind throughout the day. Bo said she was thankful for Magpie. My heart melted faster than the butter in the mashed potatoes.
But the leftovers are in the fridge now. The kids are sleeping. The dishes are clean. Can we officially move on to Christmas?
Not sure what to make your loved ones this year? Sew Mama Sew has you covered. Every day, they're linking to craft tutorials that would make great gifts for everyone on your list. Gifts for artists. Gifts for cooks. Gifts for fitness fanatics. I think I'm getting carpal tunnel clicking on everything and it's only Nov. 27.
Here's a sampling ...
For your science-loving loved ones: A coffee cozy with the molecular breakdown of caffeine and water embroidered on it, a project from Coyote Craft.
For your fit friends, a sack to carry your yoga bag from Bored and Crafty. (Great name for a blog, huh?)
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm very thankful that you make Penny Carnival part of your stomping grounds. I've known some of you since I was born, I've "met" some of you here online, and I know there are others who quietly pop by every now and then. It humbles me to know that you take time out of your busy lives to slow down with me for a moment. So, thanks.
I know it's technically not even winter yet, but it sure feels like it.
That's why a bit of news in my inbox from Tea Collection made me smile today: they're getting ready to show off their SPRING collection.
Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled for Christmas. I cannot wait to go ice skating in the park. A little snow would be lovely. But as soon as January 1 hits, if history is any indication, I will be ready for spring.
Here's a little tease from the press release about the collection:
of delivery of this brilliant collection, East Meets West, will be available in
January.The assortment inspired by the lively
Japanese community in Brazil. The bold, vibrant graphics found in restaurants
and the streets are embodied in pieces like the Namazu (Japanese for catfish)
Graphic tee and the Ginko Leaf top and dress.
But since holiday shopping is probably foremost in your mind right now,here are some discount codes to use now:
Now – until 12/25. Enter
checkout on TinyPrints.com to receive $15 off orders of Tea papers of $100 or
12/1- 12/3. A special discount
for friends and family only. 25% off with promo code GIFT08. Free standard shipping on orders over $100. New markdown styles
added to sale tab.
12/8-12/10. Sweater and Hoodie
promotion. 25% off select sweaters and hoodies.
12/18. Expedited shipping! Upgrade
to expedited shipping for only $10 and free standard ground shipping on orders
Happy shopping (or happy snooping at all their cool stuff to get inspired for your next sewing project).
So, lucky me, they were working the big Christmas craft fair held here last weekend. Check out their version of a Christmas tree:
I thought it was so clever how they had origami crane garland running down the tree, as opposed to wrapping around it like normal garland.
Here is some of their other work, made from unusual Japanese papers given to them by a woman whose mother passed away after having had the paper in her basement for years. (I hope I'm remembering the story right, Mary.)
The daughter wanted to make sure her mother's paper was going into good hands. Um, yeah. To say the least.
As lovely as those flowers are, they pale in comparison to Mary and Nate's latest creation: baby Abraham. At 13 days old, he seemed to be everybody's favorite craft project at last weekend's fair. I had my camera around my neck but was so smitten with the beautiful babe I forgot to take a picture. Congrats, aNeMoNe! Now you're going to have to capitalize the "A" in your business name.
I've said before that we're going for a "folk modern" look in our house. But we're such a long way from having all the projects finished and personality infused here, it's hard to say it looks like much of anything yet.
This is the third house for J and me and anytime we've gotten close to fully putting our personal stamp on a house, we stick a for-sale sign in the yard and split. That's not our intention this time, but you never know ... I'm not one to read horoscopes but whenever I do the Gemini description fits me to a T (creative, flighty, changes her mind ... a lot!). Makes me wonder how many other craft bloggers are Geminis, too ... ?
I tend to be all over the map when it comes to my "style," and nothing brings that out more than Christmas. Some years I'm all about nature and woodsyness and berries when I decorate. Other times I've gone overboard with sparkle. Yikes.
This year, it's feeling like a cheerful Christmas.
I can't help it. Take a look at all this inspiration from around the Web (not all of it is Christmas-related, but still so much fun).
Check out the Farm Chicks' hack of Ikea's magnetic knife rack. Speaking of moving often, we left our Ikea magnetic knife rack on the kitchen wall the last time we moved. Darn it. This project would have been done five minutes ago.
If you live under a rock (as far as crafting goes) and have never browsed Sublime Stitching's, um, unique offerings, you have to take a look.
This pattern makes me want to smoke cigarettes and get a tattoo:
I seem to be straying a bit off the Christmas topic. Must be time for bed.
Update: I'm adding a little more Christmas cheer to the list, thanks to a tip from my friend Carolyn. Check out this free pattern for tabletop trees from Amy Butler. I'm having trouble pasting the photo here, but click there to see the happiest dining room on earth. Love it.
OK, I should have written this post three months ago (maybe I did?), but I'm ready now to start knocking off my Christmas to-do list. More than ready. I have that poundy-in-my-heart desire to spend the next five weeks banging out the crafts. My friend Nissa suggested coffee, candy and illegal substances to power me through, and I told her as long as hot glue guns count as illegal substances I'm all set.
I'm not confident that it's going to be a 100 percent handmade Christmas this year, though, as originally planned. The clock is ticking and my freelance gigs are piling up. Plus, there's at least one cookbook on my wish list and I know J isn't about to write out all 1,080 recipes by hand.
So, drum roll please, here's Christmas Craft No. 1 ...
Felt dot garland!
This was inspired by a Martha Stewart project several years ago where she (or I should say, "her people") made garland out of string and those round stickers you use for garage sales.
This felt version is super easy. Just cut circles of whatever colors you want, then run them through the sewing machine one by one, overlapping just a bit as you feed them through.
I'm actually multitasking here because this is going to be part of a how-to article I'm writing for the newspaper about Christmas tree ornaments.
This concept doesn't have to be limited to Christmastime. Wouldn't it be cute to cut a bunch of red and pink hearts, sew them in a line and hang them from doorways on Valentine's Day? But that's another to-do list for another day ...
Forgive me. I'm about to step on my soapbox. And it's all over a homemade play kitchen.
Some people think I'm crazy for writing a craft blog--and for spending so much time crafting at all. For me, both activities have become things I just have to do to stay sane, especially the latter.
I think a lot of other craft bloggers are surrounded by friends and family who are knee deep in the handmade movement. I certainly have many friends who get it and who are drinking the bath water with me, but there's also a good number who think it's a little loo loo. Why spend so much time making when there are plenty of options available for sale at the store?
To me, there are so many answers to that question I don't know where to begin. Cost is one factor, although a lot of times I think I end up spending more on supplies than if I'd just bought something already made. The environment is another--why would I want something shipped across the globe when I can make it from castaway materials in the garage? (I'm no saint here. There are plenty of mass-produced items in our house. But we try all the time to live a less-is-more lifestyle.)
The biggest reason for me is this: what example am I setting for my kids? Will they grow up wanting all the latest things in the store and then casting them away two days later or will they grow up feeling confident that they can make the things they want or even be content re-using things they already have, perhaps in new ways?
My 3 year old asks for stuff in stores like any 3 year old asks for stuff in stores. And every once in a while we fulfill her request. But she rarely complains when we say no, and she gets excited when we start brainstorming ways we could make something similar instead.
And besides, no store I know sells anything nearly as adorable as this play kitchen made by Mama Kat over at My Sweet Life, a link I found via Ohdeedoh.
Mama Kat and her husband made it for $59 using secondhand cabinets, recycled paint and creative flair.
The cost included everything--from the fabric for the curtains to the chalkboard advertising the daily special to the baker's rack where they store faux spices and felt food.
I love the view from the window, which they plan to rotate as seasons change:
I'm so inspired, especially with Christmas right around the corner. Last year we limited our gift budget to an amount so low it made at least one person spit out her coffee when I told her. I wonder if we could cut it in half this year ... Don't hold me to it, but at least it has me brainstorming.
I mentioned the other day that I've been crafting up a storm for several stories I've been writing for the newspaper. Well, here's a slice of one article that's supposed to run tomorrow.
The story is about handmade decor ideas for Thanksgiving, and I couldn't resist including something for the kids. The crayon holders you see here were made by me, but little ones definitely could participate in making this craft.
Thank goodness I made two because both girls have really taken a liking to them. Bo, of course, claimed the bigger one with the "big girl pencils" and Magpie really just wants to roll hers on the floor and suck on the crayons. Hey, anything to keep them occupied for five or ten minutes.
Here's an excerpt from the article with directions:
Any parent of small children knows how hard it is to keep a
youngster at the dinner table on a typical night. Add the excitement of having
cousins or friends over, plus the length of a multi-course meal, and you might
have a recipe for disaster.
Take a tip from restaurants: distract the children with a
set of Crayons and a paper placemat for coloring.
The paper placemat can simply be an 11-inch by 17-inch sheet
of white computer paper. Or, drape long sheets of butcher paper over the “kids
table” to serve as a doodle-able tablecloth.
To hold the Crayons, you’re going to turn an empty aluminum
can, such as one that once held tomato paste or string beans, into a turkey.
Rinse and dry the can. If there are sharp edges around the
rim, cover them with masking or electrical tape.
Cover the can with a scrap of fabric by applying glue to the
can and rolling the fabric over it. Trim away any excess fabric.
Cut feathers from different colors of felt. Tip: wool felt
is much easier to work with than craft felt. Yes, it’s more expensive, but
you’ll only need a small amount for this project.
You can reinforce the feathers either by doubling up the
felt and gluing the two pieces together or gluing a popsicle stick inside two
layers. You also could make fan-like layers of feathers or use real feathers
Now fold a small piece of brown felt in half and cut out two
identical turkey heads. Cut one small wattle out of red felt and sandwich it in
between the two brown turkey heads. Either glue or sew the heads together,
leaving the neck area somewhat open so it can spread onto the can.
(Looks like I should have stitched up my jeans while I was at it.)
Using a hot glue gun, glue the feathers and the turkey head to the can.
Fill the can with crayons or colored pencils and you've just added a few minutes to the duration of Thanksgiving dinner.
Here's Bo in action. A pleasant site, except for the fact that she was supposed to be at the table with us eating dinner.