Monday, June 25, 2012

Wedding Season

It started with coming up with a gift for our friends who were getting married. I found a french press on their registry and was excited that I could use a coupon and a gift card, plus I just think there's something romantic about a french press. But I didn't want to stop there since, you know, these are good friends and just getting something off their registry felt a little impersonal. And then I remembered a Martha Stewart tutorial (can you tell I'm a fan?) for making a french press cozy. This felt like a great way to add a personal touch. But rather than just using plain gingham fabric, as in the tutorial, isn't it even better to cross-stitch the couple's new monogram on the cozy? The answer is always yes.

The actual construction was pretty straight forward and pretty fun! I was a little concerned about how the quilting lines would look with the cross-stitched bits but I think it turned out fine.

And of course you have to use coordinating ribbon for the ties in the back. I got this at Michaels, along with a compliment from the cashier on my "really cool" but actually completely ordinary t-shirt.

And while we're at it, why not draw a cross-stitch heart on the card? This pack of cards makes my list of top-ten purchases of all time. They are so handy for people like me who allllllways forget to buy a card. Or at least try to buy a card but are disgusted by both the price and lack of cuteness. But this pack of cards saves the day every time. Their blankness makes them so versatile! And yes, I am a sucker for stripes on anything, but especially the lining of an envelope.

I sort of ran with this yellow/black/white theme. I think it's nice when the wrapping complements the gift. Or maybe I overthink things. But there you have it! A wedding gift in a season of many more wedding gifts. I think I'll use this idea again. What's your idea of a good wedding gift?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Paper Bags

Last weekend, we co-hosted a baby shower for friends of ours in our side yard. This yard has been a great place to host parties, casual dinners, and spend lazy Sunday afternoons. We feel very lucky to have this space!

Friends of ours took care of the food which enabled me to focus on decor. I had fun dreaming of the perfect set-up for a baby girl shower. Unfortunately, budget got in the way, but I think it still turned out pretty well.

My sister helped out so much as well! From helping me sew pink gingham table cloths to cutting paper bags... I couldn't have pulled it off without her! 

We made a kids' table by covering it in grocery store paper bags so that the they could color all over it with crayons. I loved the pink duct tape we found to adhere the bags to the table! And it was fun to see what everyone had drawn at the end of the party.

We thought it would be fun to let the adults draw at their table as well, so we used paper bags as a runner down the center of the table and then filled mason jars with crayons which doubled as center pieces. 

The napkins we found at Ikea and the tutorial for the tissue paper pom-poms (first photo) is from Martha Stewart.

It was a fun day and a great way to celebrate another addition to our friend's family!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Flavors of the Season

Though summer isn't yet officially here, we're experiencing the signs of the season's impending arrival - schools are closing, the weather is warm, and dreams of a refreshing swim to ward off the heat are frequent. For me, the change of seasons also brings thoughts of new flavors. What types of flavors come to your mind with summer's arrival? I think of things that are fresh and bright. 

To officially celebrate the refreshing flavors of the season, I decided to make limoncello - an Italian lemon liqueur. Upon searching for a recipe for limoncello, you will find an abundance of options. For my recipe, I ended up combining thoughts from various sources. 

Also, a fantastic added benefit to making limoncello is the juice you get from all the zested lemons! With it I made lemonade, baked lemon chicken, and pear carpaccio.

Choose a limoncello recipe that sounds good to you, and have fun enjoying the scents and flavors of summer!

"Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."           Henry James

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Knitting Story

This year, I have rekindled a love of knitting. It started in the winter when I would watch big snowflakes float down through my third story window. I wanted something to keep my hands busy so I could just sit there, watching. Knitting was the perfect answer. Turns out, I'm still knitting even in this summer-like weather.

My neighbor taught me how to knit probably ten years ago. I made a lot of scarves, washcloths, rectangular-shaped whatevers. A few years in, a different friend taught me how to purl. This kept things interesting for a little while longer until I just got tired of knitting everything in 2D. This year, however, I got myself a pair of double-pointed needles and I felt like a whole new world had been opened up to me.

My first project was a pair of socks. With the help of youtube, my attempt was mostly successful. I even learned a lot about knitting patterns in the process, so when I see "kfb" or "k2tog" I'm no longer intimidated.

My next move was to check out the book More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts (highly recommended) from the library which is where I started making coffee-cup sleeves. Although I don't think they're the most practical project (in the "I'm saving the earth!" sense), they're pretty simple and fun to make. So once I got the hang of them, I got the idea to put my own little spin on the design and make a couple to enter the Martha Stewart knitting contest. I called my project, "To have and to hold coffee-cup sleeves," and had my photographer friend (and also husband to fellow lemondrop contributor), Karl, take pretty pictures of them. Which he did (as you can see). Unfortunately the contest closed a few months back and I'm still waiting to see who the winners are.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with yarn. Do you have a knitting story? Have you ever tried a class or watched youtube videos to help you out? I'm excited to see where my knitting story takes me next!