Monday, December 22, 2008
Okay, I've dialed down the gift-giving this year but still, I like having some gifts on hand for hostess gifts or for friends. To that end, I whipped up some fragrant fizzy bath bombs in an ice-cube tray last night. You really only need a few supplies and you can make them up lickety-split. And you can package them up in a cute little box or drop them into a Ziploc bag or Gladware container. Easy peasy. I just like saying "easy peasy."
Learn how in my CraftStylish tutorial.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This year, time and money are in short supply so a couple of friends and I got together on Sunday to make a boatload of Christmas cookies for gifting. Laurel brought boxes and tissue, not to mention the dough for sugar cookies and thumbprint cookies. I brought my cowboy cookie dough. And Kerry and Piper had a grand time helping us embellish the cookies with all sorts of frostings and sprinkles.
We made about 12 or 15 boxes but the real gift was the fun afternoon spent together in a warm and fragrant kitchen with great friends. I highly recommend it.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Life, or in this case, my book deadline, gets in the way.
So my girlfriends and I decided to forego actual gifts to each other this year. Instead, we headed to Olympus Spa in Lynnwood for a relaxing evening of naked girl talk in hot tubs and crazy heated rooms with different properties: i.e., "Mud & Jade Room," "Charcoal Room," and "Salt Room." It was exactly what we needed to recharge and attack our work and the holidays. On the way home, we swung by Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream for some organic ice cream (candy cane ice cream for me, birthday cake with caramel sauce for the others).
In lieu of gifts, consider a shared experience this holiday season with loved ones, be it a dinner party, a weekend matinee, or naked hot tubbing. It's good for the soul and it's a gift that you'll be giving yourself. What's a better gift than quality time spent with your favorite people?
Monday, December 8, 2008
Buying or making gifts for guys has always been a challenge. I have bought my brothers books, my dad a running watch or train memorabilia. One year, everyone received hand-knitted scarves; another Christmas, I gave pajama bottoms to the dudes (Old Navy loved me that year). But while women seem like a breeze to make something for, guys present a dilemma. They have everything already or it's questionable that they'll like what you create.
CraftStylish has loads of great ideas; this week, the site is running a gift guide of tutorials for all the boys to men in your life. I kick things off today with a tutorial on "shoe submarines," small inserts that he can slip into his stinky shoes to absorb moisture and odor. It's a great stocking stuffer for the gym rat or running enthusiast.
Come to think of it, it's just the thing for my running fool of a father...
Monday, December 1, 2008
For my next Prairie Girl's Guide, I am looking for stories of meaningful, spot-on gift giving. Have you ever given or received an absolutely perfect gift? Something that touched you to the core? Made the recipient cry like a little girl? Was she a little girl? If so, I'd love to hear all about it.
To give you an example, my friend Jared knows of my obsession with photo booths and knew I was a bit envious of his framed wall of photo strips. So one Christmas, I unwrapped a long frame, complete with a matte cut for seven photo strips. He even prepaid the frame shop so I could have my favorite strips mounted. What a guy! What a gift!
If you have any great stories about thoughtful gifts, no matter how large or small, I'd love to hear them and include them in the book.
Anyway, I'm knee-deep in all things prairie again (look for a new Prairie Girl's Guide next fall!) and am busy hunting down experts, experimenting with the sewing machine and knitting needles, and whipping up a new crop of lotions and potions.
I took a break to create a restorative salt soak for CraftStylish this week. It's super easy and only requires four ingredients. It's a perfect little gift to give to hostesses, teachers, co-workers, and yes, even guys.
Check it out, along with all the other terrific holiday projects on CraftStylish. I"m always wowed by my fellow crafters.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
It's like peanut butter has met chocolate in a scrumptious combination of Seattle music.
Tickets are almost gone for Friday's show. You can get them via TicketWeb.com and also at all Sonic Boom Record locations.
Monday, November 17, 2008
It's been a kookaloo time, I'm not gonna lie. I've been hit with the perfect storm of deadlines and I've been seriously treading water. So what happens is that I go to bed late and then wake up during those hours of early morning that no one should ever really see unless you have a 6am flight or work a hideous construction shift.
Anyway, I was hit with some insomnia and a time change adjustment (I just got back from the East Coast), and was wide awake at 5:30 yesterday morning. My mind just started racing, thinking about everything I have to accomplish and other pesky issues that don't have answers quite yet. So I got up and knocked out a pair of pajama bottoms, which ended up as this week's tutorial on CraftStylish. I am obsessed with this mountain map fabric and I love the results, which I think are pretty durn cute considering my blurred vision.
Monday, November 10, 2008
My latest essay has been posted on CraftStylish. It talks about a few of my treasured handicrafts, and the television shows and movies I associate with making them. My newest shawl will always remind me of Election Night 08.
Friday, November 7, 2008
The Prairie Girl's Guide to Christmas
Two years ago, I quit Christmas. In the middle of stuffing my annual letter into a fancy-pants letterpressed holiday card, I quit. I backed away from the stack of cards and pulled out my knitting instead.
Eighty of my closest friends and colleagues didn’t hear from me that year, but oh my goodness, did my pal love the lacy shawl I knitted for her.
I didn’t throw in the holiday towel altogether. I just stopped trolling for parking at the mall, dealing with crowds hopped up on eggnog lattes, running to three parties in one night, turning my house into a 1,000 points of light, and buying designer gifts en masse.
Instead of these soul-sapping activities, I created new traditions. I created personal and personalized gifts. In other words, I went all Laura Ingalls Wilder on the holidays.
In doing this, I got my Christmas spirit back.
In re-reading Little House books while researching my own book on prairie crafts and skills, I could feel how precious one handmade gift and stick of Christmas candy could mean to a child when presented with love and thoughtfulness. I can relate. When someone presents me with a gift so perfectly chosen or made for me, I get weepy. I also well up when giving someone a personalized present. I love wrapping the gift as well, artfully providing some clue to the gift within.
And just between you and me, I can’t afford to keep up with copious and label-laden gifts. So I go for quality and thoughtfulness over quantity and price. A thick lotion, packaged in a sweet tin and infused with a friend’s favorite scent, goes over just as well as a spendy department store jar of cream. Bringing a homemade rhubarb pie to a holiday party rather than the ubiquitous bottle of champagne or wine sends any hostess over the moon. It also sends her to the pantry, where she hides the pie behind the canned goods, hording it for herself.
When it comes to holiday cards, I customize a few, and use the time I’ve saved on the dozens of other cards crafting sparkly jewelry for my nieces or making popcorn balls with my pals. Instead of garish lights that frankly give me a migraine, I drape cranberry and popcorn garlands on the boughs of my tree and use my great-grandmother’s quilt as a tree skirt.
Below are a just a few gift ideas that are inexpensive and easy to create and customize, no matter how fickle or fashionable your friends or family. And another thought: host a small holiday party with your pals, serve up some eggnog, and set up a prairie girl workshop for them to make their own lotions and potions. Supply essential oils so they can infuse their creation with whatever they need to get through the holidays, such as lavender if they need to relax or peppermint if they need an energy boost. Sadly, there’s no oil that I know of that will help with family dynamics.
Lavender Linen Waters
You don’t have to knit a shawl or spend all year making a quilt. There are many unique and thoughtful gifts you can whip up in a jif. For instance, make linen waters for friends who love to press their clothes and curtains, and infuse it with their favorite scent (lavender is a lovely choice).
2 teaspoons lavender essential oil (or essential oil of your choice)
5 tablespoons 100-proof vodka
1 cup distilled water
Sterilize a spray bottle (preferably glass) by washing it and then dipping it in a hot water bath and letting it dry completely. Combine the essential oil and vodka in the bottle, and shake vigorously. Add the distilled water. Shake gently before using. To use, mist on clothing and linens before ironing.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups
For the homebody, mix a homemade furniture polish. Packaged in a genteel glass bottle, your loved one will appreciate this almost as much as the coffee table she asked Santa for.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
Sterilize a spray bottle (preferably glass) by washing it and then dipping it into a hot water bath. Dry the bottle. Pour the oil and juice into the spray bottle and gently shake before each use. Spritz polish onto a clean cloth until it’s slightly damp. Use the cloth to polish furniture, using circular motions, and re-spraying the cloth as needed. Use another cloth to dry the furniture, again polishing in circles. Store bottle in a cool, dark place.
Makes 3/4 cup
For your beauty buddy, present her with an indulgent, moisturizing night cream, perfect for the winter months.
3 Tablespoons sweet almond oil
2 Tablespoons hydrous lanolin (lanolin that has been combined with purified water)
2 Tablespoons cocoa butter
2 teaspoons rosewater
1/2 teaspoon honey
6 drops rose essential oil
If you have a double boiler, pull it out. (A glass bowl can be used in its place.) Heat a pan of water on medium-high heat. When water starts to boil, turn down the heat to medium. Place the double boiler in the water and add the sweet almond oil, hydrous lanolin, and cocoa butter. As the ingredients melt, stir with a metal spoon until completely blended.
Remove the double boiler from the heat, and let the mixture cool slightly. Add the rosewater, honey, and rose essential oil, whisk until blended, and then scoop your new moisturizer into a sterilized plastic or glass jar.
Before applying to the face, test by rubbing a bit into the wrist. If there’s no reaction other than supple skin, feel free to apply to a clean face before bed. Store in a cool place.
Makes 1/2 cup
For the outdoorsy set, how about insect repellent that doesn’t smell like a vat of chemicals?
1/4 cup witch hazel (or substitute olive oil, rubbing alcohol, or vodka)
1 Tablespoon citronella, cedarwood, tea tree, or sandalwood essential oil
Sterilize a spray bottle (glass or plastic) by dipping it in a pan of boiling water. Let dry. Add witch hazel and essential oil of your choice (any of the oils listed above are excellent mosquito repellants) to bottle and close tightly. Shake well before each use. To use, spray liberally on any exposed areas when you are outdoors.
Makes approximately 1/3 cup
Decorating your Homestead for the Holidays
- Pierce an orange full of cloves and hang this fragrant pomander in a doorway.
- Fill clear vases with Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples, or even your favorite ornaments.
- String cranberry and popcorn garlands and drape them on your trees, both inside and out (give the birds something to enjoy).
- Use a quilt as a tablecloth or tree skirt.
- Make your own ornaments with pinecones and found items.
- Hang real stockings from your mantel and fill them with oranges, nuts, hard candy, and peppermint sticks.
- Light a taper candle in each window (just keep them away from drafts and flammable items).
Monday, November 3, 2008
If you need a bit of inspiration about what to make for the fellas in your life this holiday season, check out my latest CraftStylish post.
It even includes my grandmother's Cowboy Cookie recipe, a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie that has rendered all other cookies dead to me.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The publicity train steams on. After a year of plotting, LSA Magazine (which goes out to all U-M alumni who were in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts) features a three-page interview on me and The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life. The editor who interviewed me, Lara Zielin, was a delight (and my new best friend) and I'm tickled pink by the results, although I might have been a bit too forthcoming about my life. Download the entire article (scroll down to "Alumni" and click on "The Prairie Queen."
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
What lyrics would you want on a bracelet or necklace?
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Here, in the order that I want to knit them, are my favorites:
- Baby Dotty Blanket
- Fern Kids' Sweater (please, I want the grown-up pattern for this one!)
- Picnic Bag
- Cardi Cozy
- Mitered Hanging Towel
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
At 6pm PST, simply call 1-218-936-4700. When asked for an access code, punch in 957019. That's it. You'll be able to hear Darcey and me chatting and then we'll take your questions. I'd love to hear from you, especially if you have any burning questions for me.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
My lovely and talented and beautiful friend Melissa made me this gorgeous bird mobile for my birthday. It arrived last week and I finally managed to hang it today. How cool is this? Seriously? It makes my crib look so stylish.
Check out Melissa's other crafty pursuits on her flickr page.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Perhaps my favorite post to date, my photo booth photo strip garland tutorial is up on CraftStylish and the garland is hanging in my office. As many of you know, I have a slight, uh, problem: I've never met a photo booth I didn't insist on slipping into with whoever happens to be with me. It's often on the boardwalk in Rehoboth and alcohol has usually preceded it (sorry, Richard!) but I've also gotten strips at Coney Island, El Vez (or that bar near the Electric Factory) in Philly, the Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor, the Sub Pop Music Festival this summer, Laurel's wedding a few weeks back, the Tractor Tavern (that particular strip isn't suitable for public consumption, however) and other assorted and sundry locales. I took some of my B-list strips and created a cool tree garland or window banner. Cool, eh?
If you have a thing for photo booths, there's a handy website to help you locate one near you.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Last night, I had the girls over for lasagna and talk of Laurel's Roman honeymoon. The spicy sausage lasagna was one of my best trays ever and perfectly followed up the antipasti platter Lil put together. We usually eat around the coffee table but I actually set the Formica this time. I forgot to buy flowers and I didn't have any tapers so I was a bit at a loss as to what to use as a centerpiece.
Being Halloween, I did have a bag of Tootsie Pops.
Being in the middle of nature craft projects, I also had sand on hand.
And with my black thumb, I definitely had a bunch of empty herb pots.
Here's the result. Cute, huh?
And while the photo didn't really turn out (we had consumed a lot of wine by that point), the Obama cupcakes from Trophy Cupcakes were absolutely delicious.
Monday, October 13, 2008
AfterGlow will showcase handcrafted, one-of-a-kind, unique items created by women-owned businesses. Choose from local designer collections of clothing, hats and headdresses, shoes, handbags, jewelry, fashion accessories, and the latest in aromatherapy products and home décor. Fabulous finds and gift ideas for the upcoming holidays will be plentiful!
Attendees can also get fresh new ideas for skin, hair and make-up, and can indulge in full services on a first-come, first-served basis. Fall is a great time to be a bit daring!
Exclusive raffle packages will also be available, with all proceeds benefiting NorthWest Hope & Healing, a West Seattle-based charity.
Oh, and did I mention Tarot, Belly Dancing, Wine & Nibbles? AfterGlow has got you covered for a little ‘me’ time on Sunday afternoon.
October 19th, 2008
Ola Salon, 2942 SW Avalon Way
AfterGlow is a free event. Come one, come all.
For a Vendor List & Event Details, please visit: http://shopafterglow.blogspot.com
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Inspired by my stamped bracelet tutorial of last week, I got to conceiving a two-tiered necklace with one of my favorite quotes: "By words the mind is winged" (Aristophanes). For the necklace, I decided to go meaningful rather than embrace my love of cheese: "It's my way or the highway" (Roadhouse), "I want my two dollars" (Better Off Dead), "This one goes to eleven." (This Is Spinal Tap), and "Just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world" ("Don't Stop Believin' by Journey) were all contenders that I eventually ruled out. Here's the uneven result (that's a pen hanging off the pendant). It's a work in progress and but I'm road-testing it right now.
What would you want stamped on your bracelet or necklace?
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I also wrote a post on CraftStylish about crafting and the economy, which delves into many of the same issues (can you tell it's all I'm thinking about?).
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. How do you save money (if at all) through your hobby? How are you hunkering down in this economic climate?
Monday, October 6, 2008
My latest tutorial is up on CraftStylish. This week I'm showing y'all how to make a cool stamped bracelet. Once you make one, you'll find all sorts of phrases, lyrics, and words to put on your jewelry.
Friday, October 3, 2008
I'd love to see you! For more information on the event, check out the AfterGlow blog my pal Sandra set up for the occasion.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
- Sliced Green Pears with Flor de Sel
- Salad of Bitter Greens with Truffle Vinaigrette
- Seared Muscovy Duck Breast with Caramel-Vinegar Sauce
- Wilted Red Cabbage with Chestnuts & Watercress
- Sarlat Potatoes with Hachis
- Stewed Quince with Bay-Scented Cream
The chef from Feast was just wonderful, adding fresh fennel seeds from a plant she found at 19th & Roy to the pears. Several dishes were cooked in the duck fat from the breasts she served and it was beyond decadent. The stewed quince with cream filled my mouth with fall and I'm eager to whip up a harvest crisp now.
I highly recommend looking into these informal events at European Vine Selections. It was a small, friendly crowd talking food and politics; I can't wait to go back.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
It's like peanut butter has met chocolate in a perfect combination of Seattle music.
Tickets are going quickly, and they're available for purchase online. You can get them via TicketWeb.com and also at all Sonic Boom Record locations.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Regardless, we both brought home a bag of the fair's famous scones. I'm munching on one right now and to paraphrase Jean Girard from Talladega Nights, it tastes of America.
The fair runs through Sept. 21.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Craftanistas, check out the Flower Power Challenge that CraftStylish is running through the end of the month.
Create a pretty flower in your own crafty style, post a picture, and you could bloom as one of four lucky winners. Four winners will receive the ultimate embellishment package: an assortment from the new Crafty Chica Craft product line, the fab Crafty Chica book, The Crafty Chica Collection: Beautiful Ideas for Crafts, Home Decorations and Shrines from the Queen of Latina Style, and a copy of the smokin' hot premiere issue of CraftStylish Quick Gifts to Make.
Click here for more details.