Wednesday, December 27, 2006

start spreading the news...

Do you remember how I told you that we picked both of my sisters' names and we were cooking up a big wonderful surprise for them?

I'm so happy to finally be able to tell you...We are going to NYC!

Oh, yes...I said "we"! I can't send them by themselves, now can I? It'll be just us three girls. Anyone who knows me well will probably be nervous to think that I will be the guide for this tour.

We're going by train next week for a day trip. And we'll see The Color Purple in the afternoon. My sister Jessica is telling everyone within earshot and is planning out our day based on recommedations from her friends, coworkers and customers. My sister Jennifer is excited too...but perhaps a bit more nervous than excited. Once we get there, I know she'll have the most fun of all of us.

I had a wonderful Christmas day...oh that Santa really knows how to spoil a girl! And my sister Jessica (who picked my name) got me the Cricut machine I've been wanting. I'm going to search out some project ideas to get my feet wet and then I'll start dreaming up some of my own.

I have a ton of things to do but all I want to do is sit here curled up in my big chair, catch up with you and daydream about the Big Apple and what things I'll make with my fancy new paper cutting machine.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

merry, merry christmas

Although it's been said, many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you!

Hope all of you have a truly wonderful Christmas. I hope you are touched by the Christmas spirit in a meaningful way.

Much love,

Friday, December 22, 2006

sweet tooth

I'm crossing another little thing off my extra-long list...candy jars for all the guys in Rich's family. (We had to nix the sharpening steel idea.)

The jars are from Target. They are the smallest of a graduated series of cracker jars they sell. I washed them in the dishwasher with extra hot water to sterilize them, dried them very well, and then filled them with the jolliest assortment of unwrapped candies I could find (also Target).

I created the labels using doodads from my dear friend Mo Jackson. A tie of a bow is all that's left...presto! Gift, done. Cost per jar filled with candy: ~$8.50

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

for two little girls on my list...

I spotted this little house (marketed as a cd holder) at Michael's and thought it would make an adorable dollhouse.

It's amazing what a difference paint, paper and glue made. I painted the entire piece first with a slightly glossy paint. The effect of the second coats was a sweet painterly wash that I really like. I shingled the roof with scallop-cut strips of polka dotted paper. I made a door and window for the front with patterned paper and added a button as the doorknob.

Inspired by Moki and Alicia, I made little occupants for the fresh new houses using pegs from the unfinished wood section of the craft store. I wrapped the bottom of them with a strip of scrapbook paper. And I added felt arms to the sides. They kind of look like they are wearing moo-moos, doesn't it?

I used illustrations from a 1930's children's book for the framed pictures...the frames were found in the scrapbook section of the craft store.

One more thing to cross off my list. Hopefully I'll have some more fun things to show you tomorrow.

gifts of friendship

My friends Ann and Linda and I had a holiday lunch and gift exchange on Monday. I do so adore my friends Ann and Linda. Meeting them and becoming friends with them over this past year has brought to life a part of my creative spirit. They embrace my style and ideas with such encouragement and love. Plus, best of all, they are so much fun that I could easily spend all my days with them, exchanging funny stories, laughing so hard that our stomachs and cheeks hurt.

So before I tell and show you all about the loveliest things they bestowed upon me, I want to say that the greatest gift is their friendship. I truly mean it. Thank you, Ann and Linda, for being my friends and for liking me so much.

Oh, and for being among the very best gift givers I've ever encountered...

1. Ann made this fabulous apron for me using a vintage pink tablecloth, chenille, pom poms. I'm so in love with it. I'm wearing it now and I swear it makes me more creative!

2. Also from Ann are these wonderful Sally Jean charms. There's a story behind it. Yes, pun intended!

3. Linda put this beautiful and graceful antique paper dove atop a whole stack of exquisitely wrapped gifts.

4. This beautiful vintage lace scarf looks so elegant draped around my neck. I can't wait to wear it.

5. Have you seen this book? It is incredible the eye candy you'll find among its pages.

6. I love, love, love this vintage purse! It is just the right mix of elegance and whimsy and vintage charm. And the cutest little matching coin purse was tucked inside.

7. This scrumptious pink scarf is the yummiest shade of pink. I adore it.

I also got the inspi(red) shirt from Gap. I love it so much that I wore it yesterday and again today. Maybe even tomorrow too if I can get away with it.

Thank you, Ann and Linda! I love all of my gifts. And I love you two too!

Monday, December 18, 2006

another dash of christmas

One of my very favorite Christmas decorations is this garland. I love it so much that I usually keep it up well into Spring. It is, in fact, nine ladies dancing and ten lords a'leapin but I don't think it is too Christmas-y, do you?

I made it quite a few years ago following directions from Martha Stewart's Holiday book. It's the one that had the twelve days of Christmas as its theme. I'll try to find it so I can tell you which volume. I think it also appeared in her magazine the year before.

The silhouette is actually created from a photo of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Doesn't that make you love it more? I made the dresses and suits out of tissue paper, wrapping paper, vintage wallpaper, and scrapbook paper.

I love too the simple garland above the ladies and lords. I add to it all the time. In fact, I keep it up year 'round...changing it seasonally.

And just in case you'd like a visual for my little life here, I spend a lot of my time curled up in my floral chair right there by the fireplace, tapping away on my keyboard, sending my thoughts and dreams and wishes through cyberspace to you. Just to my right is Rich stretched out on the sofa, wishing that I would join him there.

how to make a yo-yo tree...

I know it's late for a new holiday craft but you can just file this away for next year.

Instructions for making a yo-yo tree

Cut a length of 1/4" diameter dowel to a length of 8 1/4". At the top of the dowel, cut a slit 1/2" long through the diameter. Paint the dowel.

Paint a 2" tall spool. If the hole in the spool is smaller than the dowel, drill it out a bit to make room for the dowel. Insert the dowel into the spool until you see the bottom end of the dowel at the bottom of the spool.

Wrap thread around the spool until it appears well-wrapped. Secure the end of the thread using glue stick.

To make the yo-yos:

Out of different fabrics cut 1 each:
9" circle
8 1/8" diameter circle
7 1/4" diameter circle
6 3/4" diameter circle
6 1/8" diameter circle
5 3/4" diameter circle
5 1/8" diameter circle
4 1/4" diameter circle
3 1/2" diameter circle
3" diameter circle
And cut 2 of:
2 3/4" diameter circle

Cut a small slit in the center of each of the circles.

Make yo-yos out of each of the circles. Do you know how to make a yo yo? It's so easy. Using a knotted thread, stitch the circumference of the circle, 1/4" from the edge of the circle. When you complete the circle, pull the thread gently to gather the circle into itself. Whip a couple of stitches to hold the yo yo in place.

Slide each yo-yo onto the dowel through the slit and the gathered end you just made, starting with the largest circle and working your way to the smallest.

For the tippy top yo-yo, you do something a little different to make the yo-yo more finished looking. Before you stitch the circumference of the circle, turn the edge over all the way around the circle and press. Now stitch the folded-over edge just as you did with all the other yo-yos.

After you slide the last yo-yo on, top your tree with a purchased rusty-tin star. If you prefer you can use a chipboard or other sort of star. You may need to adjust the width and depth of the slit cut at the top of the dowel accordingly.

Send me pictures if you end up making a yo-yo forest. I'd love to see them in pastel colors or snowy whites.

Friday, December 15, 2006

more mo made!

My friend Mo just whipped up more real life doo dads for us...including adult-sized chapeaux!

If you place your order before Monday, your package will certainly arrive before Christmas day.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

how to have a merry christmas

I just got back from a delightful holiday lunch with my talented and lovely friend Pam. Just look at what she made for me.

Isn't it wonderful? It's a handmade book of pockets to organize my Christmas ideas, gifts, traditions, menus, etc. I love it too much to write in it. Pam teaches classes at the scrapbook store and today we flirted with the idea of her making things for me to share with you. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

We had lunch at Heart in Hand in Clifton. I had the Kentucky Hot Brown which was super-de-duper indulgent, smothered in cheese and butter. I could feel my hips fatten with every bite.

Thank you, Pam, for a wonderful Merry Christmas lunch. You're a wonderful friend, so thoughtful and fair and oh-so-talented. I'm so glad we found each other.

'til I dropped...

Yesterday, from early in the morning until somewhere in the middle of evening rush hour traffic home, I shopped and shopped and shopped.

Here are a few of my scores:

From the LL Bean Store...

It's an ice cream maker! You put ice and salt in the chamber in the middle, the ingredients in the ball part, close it and then pass it around. After a while, presto! you have ice cream!

For Maggie, who loves combs, a subject for combing...

She calls them "tomes" and if you or anyone (including Santa) asks what she might like for Christmas, she always replies matter-of-factly "Tomes". She has about 30 or 50 of them. She carries them around in a little satchel and takes them out occasionally to study them or to run them through her hair or anyone near's hair. I thought she'd appreciate this little model to comb. I had one when I was little and I loved it. Mine was the more glamourous Barbie variety. I like how sweet this French one is.

For my niece Ashley, who just graduated from college...

There are a few other things here and there. It's funny. It seems like so much but when I try to think of it to tell you, I can't come up with much. Still I have only a few more presents to buy.

For the first time, my family decided to pick names for the adults in the family. This was a huge step since my family goes super crazy through the holidays, buying way too much for everyone. So much so that by the time it is all said and done there is no room left in my parents' living room.

I picked my sister Jessica's name. Rich picked my sister Jennifer's name. I can't tell you what I got for them because they are daily readers (hi, sistahs!) I wish I could tell you because it is sooooo good.

We pick names at Rich's house and have for years. But Rich likes to still give a little something to everyone. To make it easier (um, did I ever tell you he's one of eleven!!! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11! children!) I am getting the same thing for all the girls and the same thing for all the guys. Rich picked the guys gift and I just have to go buy it. It's a peculiar thing that he's thought of this year...a sharpening steel. I was a little skeptical but he did a sampling (called his brother Steve) and asked which he would rather have "a nice box of chocolates or a sharpening steel"? Have you ever noticed that when you give someone a choice (especially when you give a child a choice) they will pick the last thing you said? I wonder if the results of his one-person survey would be different if he said "A sharpening steel or a nice box of chocolates". At any rate, I'm going sometime today to Sears to buy 7 sharpening steels.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

yo! yo! yo!

Isn't this cute? My mother made a little forest of these yo-yo trees for Inspire Company.

To order one, click here.

If you'd rather make one yourself, I think I can convince her to give us instructions. Knowing my mother, they will be thorough! I'll post them here next week (if she decides to give them up!)

a little at a time...

I (finally!) put my Christmas tree up this weekend. Little by little, it's beginning to look like Christmas around here. Time was slipping through my fingers and I decided on Sunday that it was then or never.

I love these old Christmas balls! I bought them all at once a couple of months ago from the space in an antique store of a magazine stylist. I looked everywhere for the crystal bowl from Tiffany's, a wedding present, but then sadly remembered that it broke this summer. But I do like the charm this Haviland bowl lends to the vignette.

This little elf was my favorite ornament growing up. I just love how he's snuggled down into the shoe.

Rich and I have a little Christmas tradition. Every year we go to Neiman Marcus to buy a special ornament. Then we have lunch at the NM Cafe. I'm nuts for their monkey bread and strawberry butter. Just thinking of it is making my mouth water. NM puts little charms on their ornaments noting the year. Also they present them in the most wonderful gift boxes.

We have yet to get this year's ornament...maybe this week?

On my way back from the cottage last week, winding through the back roads, I stopped at a nursery and bought the most beautiful pink poinsettias. Just two of them filled my backseat! I just love them...I love to sit close to them and just take in their beauty. The secret, the lady at the nursery confided, is to let them dry out completely before watering them...and then to drench them. Here's hoping that they survive my black thumb.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Thank you all for your wonderful words of comfort about Daniele. I will most definitely pass them along to my sister-in-law and her family. Daniele was such a wonderful little girl. Just to give you an idea of how special she was, she would often hurry home after school to do her chores and clean the house before her mother got home. Can you imagine?

I thought you might like a dose of Monday Inspiration...ready?

Tell me, my friends, isn't this an inspiring picture? Wouldn't it be so much fun to make a Christmas tree like these?

And check out the fun puffs of smoke coming out of the chimney in the shape of pom-pom trim! Oh my, what inspiration!

And look at makes me think of my friend Rosanna. I think she will flip head over heels when she sees it...

And know I love this...

All of this inspiration and even more can be found at Doodlebug. You'll love it.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

so sad

I can't even begin to tell you how awfully sad Daniele's funeral was yesterday. The mournful cry of her mother was heartwrenching and unnatural. It's not a sound I ever care to hear again.

There were hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of people who came to the service. We entered the church from the side after the family. I stood with Seth near the choir loft to the right of the altar. The whole church echoed and strained with sobs. Seated at the choir loft close to us were Daniele's fellow cheerleaders from her middle school. It was particularly sad to see these sweet young girls holding one another as they cried.

I looked down at my sweet little nephew Seth. Through my tears I could see that he held up the little wooden star with Dani's name on it that we each got as we entered the church and he smiled the sweetest little smile, the one where his eyes disappear somewhere in his fat, shiny cheeks. I realized just then just how scary this scene must have been to him. People all around him, including my brother--his tall, strong father--people he had never seen cry, were shaking with sobs.

I took him quietly to a chair in a hallway just outside of the church. He sat in my lap. Once and a while would whisper a little question. Like "Why did Daniele die?" Or he would take out his little star and show it to me with that same smile that I adore. Or he would say "I'm sad".

It is so sad.

This morning I went with Seth and Maggie to their swimming lessons. And then we went to have breakfast with Santa. It was so reassuring to see Daniele's mother and father there, with their younger children and surrounded by friends and family. They are so sad, of course. But their faith is strong and they have so much support. It is unimaginable what has happened. What is even more unimaginable is to live through and after something as horrible as having your beautiful young daughter die so tragically. Somehow, with God's help, I'm sure, they will find a way.

I guess it would be too much to expect that youngsters will stop driving ATVs. Perhaps Daniele's tragedy will inspire more safety in their use, the wearing of a helmet, and a reminder that life is a gift.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

are you ready?

Sorry it took me so long! The refurbished village is now up and ready for picking!

click here to order.

i've been meaning to show you this...

For weeks and weeks I've been forgetting to show you something...

All of these lovelies and more are available at the lovely Dub & Sam. I, myself, have my eye on the antique key necklace (and will be adding it to my wishlist today!)