Three Things for 2017

Hi everyone!

I hope you all had a relaxing Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/whatever you celebrate.

I’ve been having a pretty relaxing mini-vacation.  Boyfriend and I traveled home to see our families (we’re from the same hometown, which is pretty convenient).  I’ve been relaxing with family and friends, crafting, gorging on food my mom has been making, running with my dad, and taking lots of naps.

My mom and I made struffoli together, which is an Italian holiday tradition.  It’s been at least several years since I helped make it, so I had a lot of fun helping this year.

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It was pre-tty yummy.

And for Christmas, Boyfriend’s Mom made me a set of owl coasters since she knows I love owls.  I think they are really pretty!  Thank you, Boyfriend’s Mom!

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Now that it’s the last week of the year, I’ve been thinking about 2017 and what resolutions I want to make.  It’s always exciting to make a fresh start.  While I don’t have a list of resolutions complete just yet, I AM excited about the following little treats.

Flow Diary 2017
I discovered Flow back in 2013 and it’s one of my favorite indulgences.  It’s a quarterly magazine packed with tips on mindfulness, creativity, and embracing life’s imperfections.  Each issue is comes with little paper goodies as well.  I really attribute this magazine to helping me find a happier and more mindful path in my life.  They also have special issues, such as mindfulness workbooks, coloring books, and sketchbooks.

One of their specials is a diary for 2017.  Besides the conventional planner pages, it’s filled with prompts for each week (example – “What did you daydream about?”), notes, poems, stickers, and postcards.  The diary is designed by Lotta Jansdotter, and it’s a gorgeous little book. I’m so excited about filling in its pages.

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Free Youtube Yoga Programs

I started doing yoga this year and it’s really been amazing.  I’ve been taking a little break the past several weeks to tend to stupid little injuries and to recover from a six-month daily streak that I got a little burned out from.  I’m really pumped to return to yoga during the new year with two of my favorite Youtube yogis – Yoga With Adriene and Lesley Fightmaster.  Yoga With Adriene is doing a 31-day series called “Yoga Revolution” and Lesley Fightmaster’s 30-day program is called “Hatha Yoga Happiness.”  I don’t know which I’ll do first!

Beautiful Embroidery Books

I love embroidery but I really want to step my skills.  I found this book at the Half Price Books sale today.

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It’s called Painting With a Needle – Learning the Art of Silk Embroidery with Young Yang Chung. The projects are way above my skill level, but they are so beautiful and definitely something I’d like to try!

What treats are you looking forward to trying in 2017?

 

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The Procrastinator’s Guide to Crafty Christmas – Part Two (Craft Kits)

“JENNY!”

It’s okay. Just sit down for a min-

“CHRISTMAS IS IN TWO DAYS AND I DON’T HAVE A GIFT!”

 

Deep breath.  There you go.  We got this.

Welcome back to Part 2 of my series tailored especially for procrastinators like myself.  In Part 1, we discussed the different books you can purchase for the crafty people in your life.  If you’re looking to go a little above and beyond just a book – maybe you’ve got a crafty significant other or in-law and you want to make Christmas extra special – then you’ve come to just the right place.  I’m going to show you what materials you can purchase to  assemble your own crafty kits. At the end of this post, I’ll show you a perfect example of one I just received!

Just a quick note – you can find most of the items I’m suggesting at a chain craft store like Michaels or Jo-Ann.  Don’t forget to give your local craft stores some love too, though.  Here’s a shout out to some of my local Austin faves, like Stitch Lab (closing in February…sob) and Hill Country Weavers.  If you’re in the Tucson area, stop by Sew Hip and Birdhouse Yarns.  And if you’re spending New Year’s in Vegas, then you’ve got to check out Sin City Knit Shop.

Cross-Stitch and Embroidery

If you’ve got a cross-stitcher or embroiderer in your life, you have a couple of options.  You can’t go wrong with buying a counted cross-stitch or embroidery kit.  A word of caution if you are buying patterns or kits from a chain store – many (though not all) of these designs tend to be more traditional.  Which is TOTALLY FINE if that’s what you’re into, but maybe not so much if your crafty person is a fan of more contemporary, modern designs (like myself).    For me, the line between cute kitsch and “omg no never hanging in my house” kitsch is very fine.  Cross-stitch a deer?  Sure. I’ve cross-stitched a deer before.  Cross-stitch a hedgehog? But of course.  Cross-stitch a teddy bear or angel?  NO. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200.

If you’re not sure where on that line your crafty person falls, then let me suggest some patterns for you.  Don’t worry – you can purchase these as instant PDF downloads.  Just hit print and slip into your gift basket.

  • CozyBlue has gorgeous patterns that your stitcher will love.

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  • Satsuma Street has the most fantastic cross-stitch designs, and if I didn’t already have a ton of projects in my queue, I would download at least three of these gorgeous patterns like TONIGHT.satsuma-street

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To wrap up your craft kit, take a look at the instructions.  Does it recommend colors of floss to purchase?

And in case you’re like “….floss?  Huh?”

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The most popular brand (or at least, the one I always work with) is DMC.  Cross-stitch and some embroidery patterns will list what colors correspond to the pattern.  Pick up enough for your stitcher to use for the project, along with a set of needles and the cloth that the pattern recommends.  If it recommends Aida or evenweave, then no worries. That will be in the aisle with the embroidery floss.  You’re all set.

Knitting/Crochet

Picking out yarn is so much fun and I can spend a long time in the yarn aisles. If you want to buy your knitter or crocheter a pattern, it would be good to know what their skill level is.  But what’s great about a knitting/crochet kit is that you don’t even NEED a pattern, really.  Chances are your crafty person already has a list of projects and will welcome the addition of yarn to their stash.

What kind of yarn to purchase?  Luxury yarn is great to work with (and it spoils you), but it’s luxury for a reason – it can get pretty pricey!  If I’m being honest, most of the yarn I use and purchase is budget.  There’s pretty fantastic budget yarn available that does a solid job at mimicking the higher quality yarn.  The most popular budget yarn brands include Lion Brand, Caron, and Patons.  My personal favorite is Lion Brand.  I really enjoy working with their yarns and have made several larger projects with them.

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With Scarfie, you can make a scarf using one ball of yarn.  I have two in my stash waiting to be used!

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Homespun is sooooo soft.  I used the Thick & Quick yarn for a project that ended up being a doggie blanket.  It’s so warm and cozy, and Apollo loves it.

Some other fun and trendy yarn is Michaels’ Caron Cakes and Jo-Ann’s Sweet Roll.  I have each in my stash and am excited to try both.

Sewing

I consider fabric to be a really personal choice.  Same with individual sewing patterns.  Certain kinds of fabric are really difficult for beginners (like jersey or silk), so you don’t want to overwhelm your crafty person if they just started sewing.  Unless your crafty person has been very explicit on what fabric they want (“I can’t wait to try those new Alexander Henry prints!”), then you really can’t go wrong with a gift card here for fabrics, along with one of the books I featured from part one.  Cute sewing supplies are also fun to stash in your craft kit.  Tula Pink Hardware  is a popular choice, though I don’t own any of these products myself.

Putting it all together

I’ll end this post with a pitch-perfect example – an early Christmas gift I received from Boyfriend yesterday!

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Boyfriend did a great job in selecting treats he knew I would both need and enjoy.  I’ve been looking for a cute sewing box to store my materials but I dislike a lot of the frillier ones out there – so the one he got for me is perfect.  I always, always welcome a ball of yarn into my stash, and I’m really digging the color palette for this Sweet Roll.  Apollo chewed up my knit counter the other day, so the sturdier one that Boyfriend purchased will (hopefully) withstand the teeth of a willful dachshund (also if I, you know, actually store it somewhere other than my coffee table).  Boyfriend knows I want to start my craft business one day, so I’m really excited to dig into this book.  And finally, a gift card!  Thank you Boyfriend! You’re pretty awesome. 🙂

And that, my friends, is it!  Good luck with your shopping and let me know how it goes!  I’ll see you Monday! Happy holidays!