Blogging about a variety of things I enjoy. Also peddling my wares at Thicket and Thistle on Etsy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

on the beach

Growing up, my family spent a lot of time at the Jersey shore.  My grandparents had a beautiful old house a block away from the beach and we'd spend a good portion of every summer there.  Not being a huge beach lover, for better (minimal UV exposure) or worse (being at the beach...but not actually going to the beach), it was always a welcome excursion to go shopping with my mom and sister.  Sur la Plage was the "fancy" boutique where I still distinctly remember buying a Three Dots shirt at around age 14. 

We no longer spend every summer in New Jersey but we did make the trip this past Memorial Day and, of course, I had to visit Sur la Plage.  The store is still there, going strong, and decidedly fancier, what with its collection of Kate Spade, Shoshanna, and other lines of that caliber. It also has a large selection of bathing suits, Roxy clothes for teens, and delish-smelling candles.  On this trip, my sister spotted this insanely beautiful Alice + Olivia embroidered sweater:

I love the colors (which don't look great on my skin but I still daydream about them) and intricate but not heavy embroidered florals.  I also love that it's short-sleeve, which lends it a slightly casual air.

Then I spied nearly an entire clothes rack devoted to Amanda Uprichard.  A much simpler look compared to the Alice + Olivia sweater, this silk shirt is still stunning with its pure hot pink color and scalloped rear hem. 

Very different styles but each so beautiful and luxurious in its own right.  Sur la Plage never fails to disappoint (especially when my sister-in-law secretly bought me the flamingo-print Kate Spade makeup bag I'd audibly pined after...).

Friday, June 19, 2015

notecards for a steal

I've never been a big Marshalls or T.J.Maxx person, unlike some of my friends, who are champs at burrowing in the racks and emerging with great finds.  Recently, though, I found myself in Marshalls looking for paper cocktail napkins (which are extremely elusive when you need them but don't live near a party store); they had several decent packs of napkins but what really caught my eye, naturally, was the small but pretty respectable selection of notecards.  I found cards by Meri Meri, a couple of letterpress ones, and some unfamiliar lines that are surprising cute for $1.99-2.49.  Below are several of the cards from my haul of about a dozen.  I haven't been able to determine their turnover yet in terms of styles offered but I assume it's like anything at Marshalls -- keep checking back and you might get lucky.  With a lot of family members and friends having birthdays and weddings this time of year, it's worth it to stock up.

Friday, June 12, 2015

national donut day, belated

On this, the one-week anniversary of National Donut Day, let's marvel at these beautiful little apple cider donuts.  They come from Mac's Donuts, which lures customers to it's funny-looking truck at the Court House farmers market with its truly intoxicating aroma.  While this legitimate national holiday was unbeknownst to me at the time, I happened to have a regular glazed Dunkin' Donuts donut that day, these petite Mac's Donuts donuts on Saturday morning, plump and decorative District Doughnut donuts (introduced to me by a friend and located in DC's Barracks Row neighborhood) Saturday afternoon, and big, doughy Sugar Shack donuts Saturday evening.  It sounds absurdly gluttonous when enumerated like that, despite being completely unplanned.  I just happened to have a number of events that day that entailed eating donuts, which is totally normal, with or without National Donut Day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

word art

I have a healthy collection of craft odds and ends on hand at all times -- beads in onesies and twosies, loads of random envelopes in never the right size, spools of wire that always come loose, a bag of feathers....Occasionally I rummage through my Ikea boxes and try to make something out of the madness.  These little word art cards are made using leftover Paper Source flat cards in a pale, pale pink with silver foil cardboard letters from the dollar section at Target.  The letters came in precise alphabetical sets so coming up with words was a bit of a challenge. 

I figured MRS will be good for bridal showers, LOVE for any occasion, and FIG is just one of those weird words that I think would be amazing as a name.  For a human being.  Not kidding.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

vintage stamps

I planned my wedding in precisely three months, so, while I spent hours and hours gathering inspiration from magazines and the Internet, there were certain things I now feel I sort of missed, whether because I had to go the easiest, fastest route or was completely unaware of at the time.  One example of the latter is a pretty small detail but I so wish that I thought of putting vintage stamps on our invitations. 

[Image via Pearls on a String]
Our paper products were one of my favorite aspects of the wedding (we got them at The Dandelion Patch) but our envelopes were pretty blah with a lone, measly stamp with the mildly cheesy USPS "wedding invitation and white rose" motif (no offense!) and my hand-scrawled cursive.  Now, photos of perfectly calligraphed, color-coordinated stamped wedding invitations are practically ubiquitous in photos of stylish weddings.  Over the past couple of years, we've received some beautiful invitations to weddings of family and friends and I've marveled over the pretty color combinations and themes of their postage assortments.

[Whooping Cranes, Scott #1098.  Image via US Mint Sheets]
[Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Scott #1448-1451.  Image via US Mint Sheets]
[Cassatt Art, Scott #1322.  Image via US Mint Sheets]
This article on Oh So Beautiful Paper lays it all out in terms of how to find interesting older postage, to include Etsy, eBay, and dealers.  Now I have a running tab of Scott numbers (how stamps are technically categorized).  While I'm no longer planning a wedding, there are so many out there that would make receiving a bridal/baby shower invitation, thank you note, or holiday card a little more charming. 

[American Ballet, Scott #3237.  Image via US Mint Sheets]
Perusing old stamps makes you realize that the USPS has covered rather, let's call it varied topics over the decades.  There's "Homemakers" (Scott #1253), "International Telecommunications Union" (Scott #1274), "Parent Teacher Association" (Scott #1463), "Rural Electrification" (Scott #2144), and more.  The USPS is nothing if not thorough, apparently.

[Love, Scott #2440.  Image via US Mint Sheets]
While many stamps are priced over face value, as is to be expected, they seem perfectly worth it to me for the utterly precious snail mail they make for nearly any occasion (like sending your loved one a card just to remind them of the historical presence of Martin Luther (Scott #2065)).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

diy decorative tissue box holder

I recently discovered papier mache tissue box holders at Michaels and decided to cover one in a heavy-weight Japanese paper I bought at Paper Source.  Tissue boxes occasionally are decent-looking but sometimes I can't stand their generic, muted pseudo-florals.  This paper is a tiny bit grandmotherly but really pretty, with a hint of metallic gold.  Here's the how-to:

Step 1:  Gather your materials.  Papier mache tissue box form (from Michaels or elsewhere); pretty, fairly thick decorative paper; tape measure/ruler; scissors; Mod Podge (not pictured) or other craft glue; foam paint brush (not pictured); paper plate or other surface to hold glue (not pictured); paper and pen to jot down measurements.

Step 2:  Measure each side of the tissue box form - in this case, the top was slightly smaller than the sides and the sides were equal.  Add 1/4" to each edge of the top section dimensions.  This gives you the measurement for the piece of paper needed to cover the top.  For the sides, multiply the width of one side by 4 and add 1/2" (for a little overlap when gluing).  Then add 1/4" to the height measurement.  This gives you the total length and width of the piece of paper needed to cover the sides.

Step 3:  Measure and cut two pieces of paper:  one for the top piece (dimensions plus an extra 1/4" on each side) and one for the sides (length should equal the total perimeter (width of one side x 4) plus 1/2" and height should equal the height of one side plus 1/4").

Step 4:  Apply an even layer of glue to the top of the box and place the cut piece of paper for the top over the glue, allowing about 1/4" overhang on each side.  Carefully glue down the overhang, folding down the corners evenly.  The oval opening for the tissues will be hidden for now.

Step 5:  Apply an even layer of glue to one side of the box and place the cut piece of paper for the sides of the box over the glue, positioning your starting edge toward one corner and ensuring the paper comes right up to the top of the box, just above the bottom line of the top piece of paper.  There will be about 1/4" overhang along the bottom.

Step 6:  Continue applying glue one side at a time, smoothing the paper over each one and ensuring the paper is aligned evenly with the top of the box.  Glue the paper to the fourth side, over the starting edge of the paper.  

Step 7:  Turn the box upside down.  Apply an even layer of glue to the inside bottom edge of the box (about 1/4"), then carefully fold the paper over the edge and press down the corners, applying glue as necessary to tuck them in.

Step 8:  The exterior of the box is now entirely covered.  Using scissors or a craft knife, cut into the paper over the oval opening, using your hands to guide you.  Do not cut flush with the opening; cut a smaller hole to start. 

Step 9:  Apply an even layer of glue to the inside of the box, just around the perimeter of the oval opening.  Very carefully fold in the paper covering the opening until it is flush with the perimeter.  You may need to cut slats perpendicular to the edges of the opening to be able to maneuver the paper better.

Et voila!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

wine charm wedding gift

In preparing a small collection of wedding gifts for someone, I wanted to make a set of simple wine charms.  Wine charms are a little cheese-tastic by nature, so I thought it best to keep them super simple.

I used silver earring hoops from Michaels and an assortment of seed beads I've collected over the years.  I simply strung the beads on the hoop and left a wee bit of wire free to bend up with a set of small pliers and form into a hook.

Then I punched small holes in a piece of navy cardstock from which to dangle the charms.  There's no question these are homemade but they're a little colorful extra something to include with a wedding or bridal shower present or give as a small hostess gift.

I originally thought I'd do a little French beaded "charm", which I've used before on homemade cards, but I didn't like these quick prototypes.  A very simple square might work better.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

weekend baking

In honor of a house guest the other weekend, I tested Smitten Kitchen's peach pie and Martha Stewart's ham and cheese strata.  Both were super tasty and resulted in several days' worth of breakfast (yeah, pie for breakfast).  On my list for next time is Smitten Kitchen's peach hand pies - the sour cream dough looks mega delish.

Bread pudding rules, no matter if it's sweet or savory.

Monday, June 17, 2013

shopping finds at chain stores

We went shopping for a little patio table the other weekend and I found this fun peacock wicker hanging chair at Pier 1 ($299).  If I were between the ages of 4 and 14, I would want it desperately.  Chairs that hang from the ceiling (or a stand; whatever allows them to swing) are automatically fun for kids; my kindergarten teacher had one in our classroom and it was a special treat to sit in it.  The peacock motif of this chair adds extra flair and the cup holders...just stop it.  I've seen lots of hanging chairs lately, including a fabric type that's similar to a hammock folded in half.

Why do you refuse to stay right side up?  Oh, well. You get the idea.
I also spotted these pretty grey side tables ($70) from the Threshold collection at Target.  There are so many great items in this collection, like this pseudo sawhorse desk ($110) and this desk ($170) and pretty much all of the home decor.  I'm hankering for some translucent turquoise glass vases ($30 for the 15.7") but can't justify the clutter; they are such a pretty color in person, though.  Window shopping, it shall be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

diy birthday card

I have so, so many cards, both RTW (ready-to-write) and supplies.  The problem is I'm lacking in cards specific to occasions.  When someone's birthday is coming up I stare blankly at my boxes and boxes of pretty everyday notecards, none of which is quite appropriate for a birthday.  I recently decided to start making my way through my supplies more diligently, as opposed to buying more, which is what I really want to do.

I decided to use some leftover Paper Source blank flat cards and envelopes from a bridal shower invitation project I did last year and made my own birthday, Father's Day, and bridal shower cards.  Using Microsoft Word Publishing Layout, I inserted a double-lined border and a double-lined multi-point circle, then a small text box with the appropriate message in this Parisienne font.  For this birthday card, I stuck on some rhinestones, too.  Everyone with a big event happening in the next month is getting a yellow and grey card; I just have to remember to whom I send one so I don't repeat.