Have a great weekend!
Congratulations to Kelsey and laken Perry, winners of my giveaway! Please email me (via "Contact Me" tab on the top of the page the address you would like your goodies shipped out! I decided to choose two winners!
I am off to have a busy weekend full of lots of wine drinking, downtown Christmas Tree lighting, and taking a picture with a cow (*yearly tradition* Did I mention I live out in the sticks? Well, kind of. It's a strange mix of affluence, techies, ornery livestock, and farms... within commuting distance of downtown Seattle.)\
Have a great weekend!
Tis the season for holiday parties, and here's a super fast, cheap way to create little goodie bags for guests/kids, using inexpensive items, or leftovers from other parties.
It is really easy to dress up basic brown bags with a edge punch, and then fold down the top, hole punch, and tie a ribbon through it. To make it more festive, you can tie little jingle bells to it, or use a red ribbon, or use a snowflake stamp to create a pattern. But, the simplicity of a brown paper bag with doily edge is cute all by itself too.
Little brown boxes are generally much cheaper than the printed kind, and I bought these in a multi-pack in the Target Cheap-o Section (you know, that $1/$3 area? I love/hate that section). I replaced the boring tie string and used a glittery wire-ribbon and some chalk-board-label gift tags (also from that same amazing/awful section of Target). These boxes were the perfect size for exactly one cupcake!
You can use whatever leftover tags you have sitting around, and use scraps of holiday ribbon for your boxes to easily make it more Christmasy. (And yes, I know a kid named Fox. In fact, I know TWO kids named Fox.)
I know that there are a billion different pinterest posts on cute DIY party favor boxes, but sometimes as busy parents, we just need something that will take us exactly 3 seconds to make, and won't make us sad when our friends' petulant toddlers immediately rip apart all of the packaging, right? I promise that something simple like this will not make you wonder why you stayed up all night making everything perfect. These are cute, but you won't cry seeing it all at the bottom of your recycling bin afterward!
FYI, today is the last day to enter my Christmas Paper giveaway here! Winner will be chosen tomorrow morning, so make sure to leave a comment really quick if you'd like a chance to win!
Tis the season to mull some cider! I wanted to share my favorite (super easy) mulled cider recipe. It's easy because basically you're just spicing ordinary store-bought cider. You may have seen it floating around Pinterest, the "make your house smell like Christmas" recipe, where you just simmer a bunch of stuff on the stove... Making this cider creates a very similar smell, but also isn't totally fucking pointless, since you'll have mulled cider afterward.
This recipe is really easy to double-up, by the way, if you have a lot of people coming over, or you just like mulled cider THAT much, or want to make two batches so you can have one for the kids, and a spiked one for the adults (spiced rum like Kraken works really well in this).
I always give credit where credit is due, and this recipe is not my own creation. I got it from a Costco cookbook that the employees were just handing out to customers back in 2007 or 2008? I don't remember. But it's called "Favorite Recipes: The Costco Way" which seems like it would be a really crappy cook book, but some (not all) of the recipes are surprisingly kick-ass. Like this one.
8 cups apple cider (64 oz)
1/2 cup splenda or sugar (*note: I have also used 1/2 cup regular sugar in this recipe too, and it still tastes fine, and honestly, I actually can't tell the difference either way, but if you need a low-sugar version, replacing the sugar with splenda is not even noticeable)
16 whole cloves
6 whole allspice
5 cinnamon sticks (the 3" kind)
1/2 dried cranberries (*note:This sounds like a weird ingredient, but it really makes all the difference, just run with it)
1/3 cup lemon juice
8 oranges thinly sliced (*note: I don't use anywhere near 8 oranges, FYI)
8 lemons thinly sliced (*ditto for the lemons)
1. Combine cider, splenda/sugar, cloves, allspice, cinnamon sticks, cranberries and lemon juice in a large pot. Heat over medium-low heat for 30-60 minutes. Do not boil
2. Add orange and lemon slices 10 minutes before serving. (Note: 16 citrus fruit, even sliced, is probably excessive. *cough* I use only half that amount)
3. Strain cider to remove solids.
4. Serve warm.
Optional: Garnish with a couple lemon and orange slices in each cup, and a cinnamon stick. It's a great way to run out of cinnamon sticks, forever.
Warning, this stuff will make you all sleepy and cozy. Very soporific. Om nom nom.
Sewing projects are something I generally keep to a minimum because I'm not that great at it, and it always takes me twice as long as the next person, to complete a simple project. For example, this table runner.
It's always those easy 'beginner level' sewing projects that make me wonder why the fuck anyone even bothers with this shit when you can buy a table runner from Target for twenty bucks. But nonetheless, the table runners at Target were just not what I was looking for, so I had no choice but to drag my barely-willing husband to the craft store and buy some supplies.
I bought one yard each of the bird fabric and the houndstooth fabric, and a quarter yard of the red fabric. (I also purchased a yard of fusible interfacing, and matching thread).
The first thing I did was cut my yard of fabric into 4 equal strips, and because of how long my table is, I needed to use 3 of my 4 strips to make sure my runner covered the length of the table. You may need more or less depending on your specific table. Do the same thing to the fabric you're using for the back side of the runner.
Just sew them together really quick to create one long strip. (Same for the backside)
Next, I cut long strips of my red fabric (to be the border around the edge). They're a little over an inch wide.
You sew these to create 2 long strips for the sides. You'll also need some extra for the ends of the table runner (which are angled).
Here is the highly accurate way I cut corners when I sew (har har, bad pun). I just fold down, cut, and hope for the best. (And yes, also do this to the fabric that will be used for the backside. Hooray for doing everything two times in a row!)
Do this to both ends... of both sides. (Four times! Wheeeee)
Pin the red fabric into place (with the "top side" face down on the runner's top side... so you don't end up having to take a seam ripper to 9 feet of stitches like a certain somebody here).
I also decided to use fusible interfacing to give some weight and substance to my runner. Not a necessary step, but the stuff is cheap. Just trim, and follow the instructions that come with it.
Angles are a pain the derriere, and mine always end up sloppy. This clearly has nothing to do with beer or the mysterious stain on the carpet next to the sewing machine that smells like sweet sweet ale.
To attach the backside, I pinned the fabric in place, and then folded down the red edge and tucked it it under itself (so the unfinished edges of both fabrics wouldn't show). I used 1,487, 263 pins.
There is probably a better way.
Sewing. So much sewing. I'd sew for 3 seconds, remove a pin, sew for 3 seconds, remove a pin... It was a slow process. Thank you, Table Runner. I am now 4 hours closer to death.
If that photo looks like I'm zombie-sewing in the dead of night, it's because I am. Us housewives are hardcore like that. At some point, the gods will smile upon you, the sun will rise, the coffee will percolate, and you will be finished with creating all this holiday whimsy that no one else in your family even cares about because the little shitheads are too busy counting presents and making demands of Santa. So rewarding. (I'm full of Bah Humbuggery today. Also, I left my coffee downstairs and I'd probably feel better if I drank it, but then I'd have to go downstairs, but I have no energy because I didn't even drink coffee yet today and all of my problems (or just one) just perpetuates itself like one of those creepy lizards that regrow their limbs and that just totally squigs me out *shudder*. The fuck was I talking about? Right, I made a table runner.)
My husband asked me if I was going to quilt it now, and I just glared at him with the fury of a thousand coked-out gorillas in mating season with no one to fuck. Couldn't he see that I had already spent countless hours creating all this fucking Christmas magic for the god damn dining table? (If anything needs Christmas magic, it's a dining table. A god damned one, at that.)
Kind of not feeling the red and white houndstooth side though. It seems really picnic-ish and country. From a distance, it looks like red-and-white checkers. It's not too late to change my design, is it? Gaaaaaah.
Well, I had made this double-sided, thinking I could use the other non-Christmas side for other times of the year, but honestly, probably not. I'll just use the cute bird side. I should have chosen a large-scale pattern for the back (keep that in mind if you decide to sew something like this. The longer the runner, the more you will want to avoid a tiny-scaled print).
In spite of the mistakes I made during construction and fabric choice, I DO like the table runner. I also really need to iron it (I promise the edges are less wonky than they appear in the photos above. I just need to press them.)
For storage, I found that simply rolling this up keeps it really compact, and also keeps wrinkles to a minimum.
I was going to sew a tree skirt, but I think I'll save that for next year, when I've forgotten how annoying it is to sew. :)
I love all things paper-crafty, and even though I'm sharing this tutorial for the holiday season, it's pretty handy year-round for birthdays, anniversaries, housewarming parties... I foolishly downsized my collection of various gift bags, thinking I would use the money from selling them to buy more gift bags... which I did. Kind of. But I bought only large gift bags, and none of the smaller and medium sizes that I use most often, because for some reason I conveniently forgot I sold them all off on a Facebook buy/sell/trade group.
Fortunately I happen to have a metric crap ton of scrapbook paper, so I decided to make my own. (I always give credit where credit is due, and even though I've created my own step-by-step for my blog, I got the idea from this.)
Things you'll need:
I used this old box (once used for cake pops, and my kids insisted on keeping it for play purposes) to create my gift bags. Dig around in your pantry for a box about the size you need.
This size of box (10 x 7.5 x 3.5") needed two sheets of scrapbook paper, so I had to tape them together. The tape isn't noticeable though.
Start wrapping your box with the paper (but leave one end open).
Here is what the "bottom" of my box looks like (this is what will be the bottom of my bag). Don't worry about having to tape it all up perfectly. No one will see the bottom.
Make sure you don't wrap the paper around the box too tightly or you'll have issues pulling the box out of the bag.
Once you've separated the paper and the box, you'll have something resembling a gift bag! (I reinforced my bag by also taping the seams on the inside).
At this point, I decided it might be fun to have a decorative edge on the bag (bad idea... edge your paper BEFORE this step, as it's really hard to maneuver a punch once the bag is constructed). Needless to say, the scrapbook paper I used is VERY heavy weight (and also has glossy elements and glitter), so my edge punch could NOT get through. Scrapbook paper is HARDCORE these days.
I couldn't leave my bag as it was, so I used a pair of scallop scissors to trim off the shmargled edge.
The next step was really annoying, because my scrapbook paper was so thick and heavyweight (that's what I get for buying the good designer paper! Argh). You fold it like so (see photo below), like a brown paper bag. This also allows it store flat for storage.
The last step is just using a hole punch and then attaching string or ribbon for handles.
(Optional: You can cut out a piece of cardboard or chipboard the same size as the bottom of the bag, to place in the bottom for added durability. I recommend doing that if you are using a lighter weight paper than I am, or placing something heavy in the bag. If you have placing something heavy in the bag, I recommend folding down the top of the bag so that you're hole-punching through two layers, to help reinforce the handles)
These bags were the perfect size for the pajamas I bought them for Christmas (I only had large gift bags this year, which were just oversized for the that sort of thing).
I made multiples. I decided to not use a punch or edging scissors on the other bags.
I played around with different papers and sizes and styles... A lighter weight scrapbook paper is definitely much easier to work with and fold and manipulate... but I think I ultimately prefer a heavy weight paper for this, as those bags just seem so much sturdier. (To create different sizes, simply use different size boxes). I also created a "closed" bag by simply folding the top down (like a lunch sack), and then hole-punching through all the layers and tying a ribbon.
It didn't take me very long to create all of these gift bags, by the way! Each bag took me about 10-15 minutes. And since I used paper from my own scrapbook and ribbon stash, my cost to create them was $0. I always try to use what I have lying around FIRST. These turned out really well. They're not all "perfect" (there probably aren't a whole of 90 degree angles here), but I think they're adorable and have limitless customization options.
You can do something as simple as glue some paper poinsettias onto the bag, use coordinating gift tags, or tie a bow.
And now on to the fun part: WIN THE SUPPLIES TO MAKE ALL OF THESE BAGS SHOWN IN THIS POST! (You'll need your own hole punch, tape, various shaped boxes, and scissors, but I assume those are things most people have lying around). Entry is easy: just leave a comment! Any comment. I don't even care if it's "You are a stupid head and your blog smells bad." Contest starts now and will end on Friday morning 9am (Pacific Time), so that I can announce the winner and then get the goodies shipped off.
Items include all the paper (13 sheets), a package of coordinating gift tags (24 in the package), a package of faux poinsettias (about 15 approx per package), 2 ft of white ribbon (various widths), 1 yard of patterned wired ribbon, and 5+ yards of twine. Brands include American Crafts, Prima, Hambly Screenprints, 7Gypsies, My Mind's Eye, to name a few. (And if paper crafting isn't your thing, this would be a fun set to pass along to a friend!)
I received my third shipment from Stitch Fix yesterday afternoon (yay, just in time for Thanksgiving!), and I am pleasantly surprised that I received 5 clothing items! I mean, I don't mind accessories, but it's much more fun to try on the clothes. It was a pretty balanced mixture of items: a coat, a sweater, a long-sleeved shirt, a skirt, and a dress.
(For a run down on Stitch Fix and how it works, please see my First Stitch Fix Review, or check out their FAQs at their site.)
My shipment actually arrived on time! (Probably because I complained last time, because you know me, I'm a whiner).
My daughter photobombed my picture so she could troll my clothes. Apparently piles of clothing can have bunny ears. Kid logic.
I love these styling cards. It's like a cheat sheet, but for pants and stuff.
On to the Fix! For reference, I am 5'3 and a size XS/0. When you're petite and very thin like me, it can be difficult to find clothing that fits well, and I think Stitch Fix has done a really good job at keeping my measurements in mind... And then they accidentally sent me an Extra Large sweater.
We're going to start with this sweater first (41Hawthorn Hobbes Striped Crew Neck Sweater, $58), because it immediately stood out to me... because I couldn't help but notice how FREAKING GIGANTIC IT IS. It was comically huge. The retail tag was marked XS, but the clothing tag is an XL. Unfortunately this sweater was mistagged.
My 6-year-old daughter (the one responsible for the bunny ears) was really excited when I got the box and wanted to see what I received, and when I pulled out the sweater she asked if that was something they had sent for Daddy, and then one thing led to another, and this is a thing that happened:
That is my 6 ft tall, 200 lb husband wearing this sweater. Obviously not a woman's extra-small. Just in case we weren't entirely sure.
But, to be fair, I don't mind an over-sized sweater. I think they look cute with leggings. And I'm sure I can notify Stitch Fix of their sizing error and get a new one sent out. Not sure if I'm feeling the orange though. Status: UNSURE.
The next item up is the Andrew Marc Savana Long Hooded Puff Trench Coat (jesus that's a long ass title). I'm really glad they sent me outerwear, but I'm kind of sad that it happens to be this beige-ish blah color. I already own a fairly new Banana Republic trench in this same neutral color, and also a Banana Republic camel-hair +fur coat in a tan color. I couldn't imagine that I would need to add a third coat in the same neutral color family, and I really dislike puffy coats.
But, alas, I tried it on, and was all, "Hey, this is cute on me!... Damn it, it was a trap!" A $98 trap to be exact.
Do I NEED another coat? No. Do I WANT another coat? ... That depends on how willing my husband is to forgive me? Status: UNSURE OF HUSBAND'S FORGIVENESS
I was really excited to pull out this shift dress (41 Hawthorn Sloane Colorblock A-Line Ponte Shift Dress, $78). The price is even reasonable... ish. I have no issue paying eighty bucks for a dress. My favorite part is the neckline. And I also happen to have hot pink suede shoes (Chinese Laundry) that are a near perfect match. I also tried this one with other shoes too, just in case it's totally corny to get that matchy-matchy with your dress (I have no idea, because I'm sartorially challenged). I will say that I really disliked the back of the dress. THAT ZIPPER. Why couldn't they have used a hidden zipper? I shit you not, I am considering ripping that zipper out and putting in a hidden one because it's THAT unacceptable to me. Such a shame, because otherwise I like the dress.
Really torn on this dress. That zipper is just awful, but this dress is comfortable, fits me well enough, and I don't have another dress like it in my wardrobe. I own ZERO shift dresses. Plus this matches my hot pink shoes. FATE, right? Status: UNSURE
The next item is this basic collared top (Kut From The Kloth Larson Collared Knit Top, $48). A bit pricey, I admit, for a basic top, but the material is really nice, the fit is excellent, the color looks good on me, and I like the curved hem in the back. (I also wonder at what point jeans go from "distressed" to "giiiirrrrl, we gotta get you some new pants"?)
The only reason I'm hesitant is the price tag. $48 is a bit high for something this basic. But at the same time, I know I'm paying for the styling service too, not just the item. And I don't have a lot of these basic wardrobe staples like collared button-down shirts. Status: UNSURE
The last item I tried on was one I thought for sure I'd send back, because I decided it was too similar to the Black and White Houndstooth Skirt I received in my first Stitch Fix shipment (Photo of skirt is below if you scroll down). But I tried it on, and let me tell you, this skirt (41Hawthorn Walt Striped Skirt, $68) is soooooo very very different in the way that it FITS. Look at the way it hugs my curves (and by curves, I mean "curves" because I'm freaking twiggy). I'm not even sure that ass is really mine. I mean, look at it! (I am suddenly loving all the running, weight lifting and squats I do).
I paired it with the purple shirt because that's what I had on already, and just threw on the Pixley layering necklace from my first Fix. I also tried it on with my green flutter-sleeve top (also from the first fix) and flats. Oh god I love this skirt. Damn it Stitch Fix! I'm too poor for this!
The only reason I'm on the fence about this skirt is because I do already have that houndstooth skirt, and I would consider these skirts to be rather interchangeable when it comes to what shirts I would wear it with, how I'd style it, etc. Also, ANOTHER ZIPPER. What is UP with those highly visible contrasting zippers?! The houndstooth skirt is obviously a looser style skirt, but I could easily pair either of the above tops with it. I wonder if these skirts are serving the same role in my wardrobe? Status: UNSURE
In case you haven't noticed, I have not made up my mind about ANY of the items. Unfortunately I only have 3 days to ship back any unwanted items, or I'm charged for the whole box.
Internet peoples, help me figure this out! What should I keep? What should I return? What are the odds that my husband is going to block the Stitch Fix site on my computer? (And why is he awake at 2:30 reading this over my shoulder? Go back to bed honey, none of this concerns you, and no, you DON'T need to see the credit card statement *cough*)
Here is a rundown of my Stitch Fix Shipment:
-Collared Shirt: $48
(25% off all items if I buy all 5, which would mean a discount of $82.50, plus the $20 I already prepaid as my styling fee, which would get credited toward my purchase)
Help me decide! Please?
Christmas is just around the corner, which means all creative settings are on warp speed. Here's a sneak peek of what's to come! It's probably easy to guess that this is a sewing project, but I promise this Christmas will involve WAY less sewing than last, because I can only hand oh-so-much of that before my carpal tunnel acts up (yes, sewing gave me carpal tunnel, NOT typing. Specifically, it was hand-quilting that did me in. I know, I don't believe myself either, and I was THERE for it).
I'm just about done with this sewing project, just need to do the finishing touches (i.e. trimming all the excess thread danglies), iron it, and then show it off! Coming soon!
In the meantime, tis the season for emotional over-eating! Have a Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be back on Monday, hungover and singing carols incorrectly. Mmmmm pie...
I had purchased a string of mini-lights from my local craft store for Halloween a couple of years ago, but never used them because when I plugged them in, they turned out to be HOT PINK instead of PURPLE. I finally came up with an idea for them, and it seemed simple enough, but turned out to be way more annoying than I planned (the story of my life).
Ermahgerd, I folded so many of these....
My daughter thinks this is my coolest project to date (she might be biased, because I hung it in her room afterward). I'm pretty sure this is one of those things I'm never doing again.
Here's what you need for this project:
Here's the tutorial I used for the lilies: http://www.origami-instructions.com/origami-lily.html
This project took me HOURS, and I'm pretty sure I hate origami now, but I admit, it does look really cool. Not cool enough to do it twice, but cool nonetheless.
Thank you to all 2 people who entered the Stitch Fix giveaway! Since there were only 2 of you, I've decided that you both win, because why not?
Congratulations to Kathy Kimm and Jessica Goodison! Your gift card information will be emailed to you later today, using the email address you responded with in your comment. If you would like me to send it to a different email or would prefer a physical gift card be mailed to you, please let me know by filling out the "Contact Me" form (the tab is above my banner). And if you haven't already signed up for the service, please do so HERE.
I am not sure how to feel about such an overwhelming response to my first giveaway. Part of me is like *screw you guys*, but the other part is like *WHY DOESN'T ANYBODY LOOOOOVE ME?* (besides Starfish. Starfish REALLY loves me and wants to be with me forever).
I've already planned a couple more giveaways, so I'll go ahead with those, but if it's the same lackluster response, I'll stop bothering, since I've managed to have a loyal fan base without bribery so far (I know you're there because my blog stats tell me so!).
As a thank you to all of my loyal blog readers, I am offering a gift card to Stitch Fix! (And I will be using all referral credits as future giveaways to pass it on to you guys, so if you do join, use my link and keep the giveaways rolling! I will not be using the referral credit on myself! I strongly believe in paying things forward!)
I am going to assume you're familiar with the service, but if you aren't, please read my First Stitch Fix Review where I break it down for you.
I know that especially during the holidays, the $20 styling fee is a risk that some people just really don't want to pay or can't afford or are just kind of pissy about out of principle (in the event that their box is full of not a single item they actually like). I get it! It definitely is a gamble, so, as a fan of their service, I'd like to pay the $20 styling for one of my readers! That way, if you do end up sending everything back, you are not losing any money and it's entirely risk-free to try it out! I will choose one reader (randomly) who leaves a comment on this post and they'll receive the gift card code via email so they can use it right away if they choose. If you already use their service, you can also enter the giveaway! You don't have to be a new customer for this, you just have to leave a comment on my blog, that's it :)
The giveaway starts NOW, and lasts all weekend. You must leave a comment before Monday (midnight... so 11:59 pm on Sunday is the lastest you can enter, and please note that I am in PACIFIC TIME), and the winner will be chosen randomly, either through a random number generator, or, I dunno, everyone's names on a slip of paper that I draw from a hat. Good luck! Starfish loves you!
****You can sign up for Stitch Fix HERE if you don't already have an account. There will be more giveaways in the future, depending on how this one goes, and they will vary from things like gift cards, products, DIY materials, crafts... My giveaways are not sponsored and I personally pay for everything.