Happy Friday + 2016 Advent Calendar

 

2016-adventcalendar2Happy Friday! We’re 9 days deep into the Advent Calendar and as always, I went with the handmade option. I was tempted to simply use the faux leather fortune cookie version I made for Sewing Happiness:

winter-adventcalendar-28181 winter-adventcalendar-28214And though they’re super cute and would have made this year’s start of the holidays a snap, for reasons beyond rationality, I felt compelled to create something new. I don’t know, using the already made fortune cookies seemed like cheating somehow. Maybe I’ll be singing a different tune next December.

2016-adventcalendar5

However, “simplicity” is my new life motto, so I wanted to keep the construction process as easy and quick as possible. My solution? Glittery stars. Here’s what I did:

  1. Bought three sheets of glitter wrapping paper from Paper Source (champagne, silver and gold)
  2. Made a star template in Photoshop. You can easily find a template by googling “star template” too.
  3. Using the template, I folded the wrapping paper in half with right sides together, and traced 9 stars per color and cut them out. I figured I would mess up so I might need a couple of extra.
  4. With wrong sides together, I sewed along the edge of the shape, leaving one pointy edge unstitched. Ta-da! A little star pouch.
  5. I filled each star with a numbered strip of paper with an activity printed on it (e.g. donate 2 pairs of shoes, go ice skating, etc.)
  6. I added a little punched circle with the number of the day, hole-punched the unstitched point of the star and secured with baker’s twine that I then hung from the ceiling with masking tape

Okay, when I type it out like that it seems a lot more involved than it actually was. The whole thing took me less than two hours to make, which has not been the case for my other advent calendars to date.

2016-adventcalendar3

They’re so fun! I hung them right above the piano so K can play “under the stars”. The overall effect is very festive and every person who has come over has loved this year’s advent calendar.

2016-adventcalendar7

K won the indulgent parent lottery so she gets something daily. To balance things out, however, she also has to donate a lot every other day. On odd days, she gets a little gift (there’s a heavy unicorn theme going on this year) and the slip of paper in the star includes an activity, such as making ornaments together.

2016-adventcalendar8

On even days, she gets a book and is instructed to donate something specific (stuffed animals, clothes, and such). I have to admit that the donation portion of the calendar isn’t going over too well, but I’m persevering and standing my ground. Instead of the scavenger hunt element, I mixed up the stars so she needs to look for the right day. It was tricky keeping up with the scavenger hunt last year, and even though K had a blast looking for the books, I’m glad I took the lazier route this year.

2016-adventcalendar10 2016-adventcalendar1

This might be one of my favorite handmade advent calendars. It was simple and thoroughly enjoyable to make, looks fantastic, and I love love love that I didn’t include any candy this year. I feel like I’ve finally come up with a combination that blends giving and receiving and meaningful family activities. Happy happy.

2016-adventcalendar4

Wanna see calendars of yore?

2012

2013

2014

2015

So much satisfaction! This is my main Christmas gift to K every year, and it’s such a relief to get it done so early in December. Now onto other holiday gifts…

Have a marvelous weekend, all! It’s a rare snowy day in Seattlle today and school is delayed for a couple of hours. We might have to start the morning with some hot cocoa to warm up!

K adores her stars

Such a joy to create one

Every single year

 

Happy Friday + Making Magazine

foxpillow-ch

Happy Friday! This image was shot by the amazingly talented Carrie Hoge of Madder Made and Making Magazine. Don’t you just love the neutral calmness of it all? Carrie and I are completely on the same page aesthetically, and when she asked if I would contribute to FAUNA, the second issue of Making… well, the answer was obvious. Just look at this stunning cover:

makingzinefaunacover

I just received my copy of the magazine and it’s beautiful and charming and full of inspiring and accessible projects. Love it. FAUNA is now available in her shop and at selected locations!! Making the little tooth fairy pillow felt like a second chance since my attempt at a fox version for Sewing Happiness was a funny flop that I ended up loving enough to include in the book as a “dwox” (dog+wolf+fox hybrid).

I’m actually working on another post that’s coming up on Sunday, so I have to get back to that, but stay tuned. It was so so so lovely to dive into sewing and playing with fabric and experimenting. More soon!

Petit a petit
The block party continues
See you on Sunday!

Have a refreshing weekend, all!

Launch Party Crafts Recap

launchpartycrafts

When the hacking debacle happened, most of my Sewing Happiness pre-launch blog plans had to be scrapped. I was hoping to build excitement with some behind-the-scenes posts culminating in a grand giveaway and I guess I could still do that, but it feels anticlimactic now that the book’s been out for almost a month.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the pre-launch process was preparing for the party that was held at Drygoods Design on April 19th, the actual day of the book release. I shared a little bit on Instagram, but I wanted to document the various elements, because I was ridiculously excited about the “Make-It-And-Take-It” aspect of the soiree. I sewed and sewed and sewed innumerable little heating pads/sachets (a nod toward one of the projects in the book) that people would be able to fill with various options like rice or lavender and hand stitch closed. Keli and her team at Drygoods made the crafting experience even more effortless by having needles at the ready, threaded and knotted. It was a hit! I also prepped faux leather circles and trimmed Swedish tracing paper so people could make customized fortune cookies (another project from the book).

launchpartycrafts-bookmarks

Additionally, I covered a great many pieces of paper with watercolor paint and created bookmarks that could be painted, stamped and punched with fancy designs. The ones you see above were made by K. So sweet! Oh, and I even printed up temporary tattoos, but forgot to get photos of those.

endnotes

My piece de resistance was managing to get fabric printed with the endnotes design from the book, and I stitched up quite a few heating pads/sachets with the fabric. I used My Fabric Designs for the custom fabric, and though shipping took a little longer than I’d hoped, the package came just in time. And because I’m out of control, I printed up popcorn holders on my inkjet printer using the same endnotes design.

I love doing stuff like this. It’s funny, I usually avoid making the same things over and over unless it’s for a party. Then I’m all over it. Why is that? As you can imagine, I was one of those moms when K was a toddler, throwing themed birthday parties that left people questioning my sanity.

At any rate, I had a fantastic time at the party and I hope other people did too! Maybe I should think about starting a side business as a kids’ party planner?

2015 Advent Calendar

2015-adventcalendar1

Sometimes I think to myself, “Good God, woman. Don’t you have other, more pressing and practical things to do??” And the answer is yes, I do. However, I’ve never claimed to be practical and when my child is waiting with bated breath for this now annual tradition, I rise up and deliver.

2015-adventcalendar2

Admittedly, I did scale back quite a bit from my original “vision”. I wanted to add garlands and branches and berries — basically, a massive wonderland-on-a-wall. It started with curiosity: what would happen if I painted Swedish tracing paper? After all, I have a ton of the stuff, and it had just the right texture, pliability and sheerness I was after.

2015-adventcalendar3

I was very, very pleased with the painting experiment. Then I dug around my basement and found some white paper-wrapped floral wire and had just enough to produce 24 stems. 25 would have been nice, but the last day is all about the presents under the tree time spent with family and not about the Advent Calendar, so I proceeded with the 24 stems. I cut out dozens and dozens of Swedish tracing paper petals, gave my glue gun an excellent workout, and I sighed at how the pretty these looked:

2015-adventcalendar5

Notice the bit in the center? I inexplicably started creating loops at the top of the stems with a vague idea of using the loop to hang each flower. A flash of inspiration prompted me to make them holders of little rolled slips of paper. More on the paper later.

2015-adventcalendar6 2015-adventcalendar7

I simply wrote the date number on a leaf for each flower, and using glittery washi tape, stuck them on the wall. I like the way the look upside down, though K suggested that I turn them right side up. What do you think?

2015-adventcalendar8

So the slips of paper, as per usual, have instructions. On odd days, she must hunt down a book, using clues from the paper. On even days, she gets a small “treat” (aka sugar) and a directive for some sort of family or giving activity. Things like, “craft day with Mama,” or “donate old toys”. 12 books and 12 activities and a little bit of sweets — I think it’s a good combo.

2015-adventcalendar10 2015-adventcalendar12

Yesterday, she got a book (I met the most voracious pre-teen reader at the author event last weekend and he gave me so many stellar recommendations. The number of books he’s read was mind-blowing). She’s already deeply lost in it and Christmas 2015 is off to a running start.

Although I question my sanity a bit every year as I giddily assemble a new calendar, I can’t deny that it’s one of the most rewarding projects for me.

2015-adventcalendar11

I have a feeling this holiday season’s going to be extra special.

 

Party Success!

2015-hotelbday1

Good morning! [Insert wildly uncoordinated victory dancing here] The hotel-themed 9th birthday party was a major success!! As predicted, I wasn’t on the ball with photo-taking, but I did grab a snap here and there as the festivities progressed.

We started with a little “check-in center” (a vintage typewriter table covered with white burlap I found in my stash). K cleverly set up my ipad with a sketching app so the girls could sign their names. Alas, the homemade cookies a la Comfort Inn was a bust, but those store-bought buttery ones were delicious.

2015-hotelbday10

Each girl received a “keycard” (thin wooden tags I got from Impress years ago for no particular reason other than the fact that they’re fun – the metal tins are the same ones I used for the Advent Calendar last year):

2015-hotelbday8

I spent two full days cleaning our house and this amounted to shoving a whole bunch of detritus into the basement, where M and I ended up sleeping while the girls took over the upstairs suites. I forgot to get photos of the “suites”, but they looked unrecognizably pristine. The flowers I added everywhere was a professional touch.

The evening started with spa treatments, followed by room service. This involved the girls using my ipad to text to M’s phone, which worked pretty well. M took on the delivery duties, but was repeatedly reprimanded by the girls for getting the order wrong. We focused on kid-friendly and un-nutritious fare: mini pizzas, mac ‘n’ cheese, chicken hot dogs, etc. I did up my game a little and make mini rice balls, which the girls oohed and aahed over.

2015-hotelbday11 2015-hotelbday12

As nails dried and food was consumed, M set up a rather, uh, colorful disco ball he purchased and “DJ Fat Daddy” took over the house — check out his handmade sign. Obviously, we have very different aesthetic styles. The sign sent the girls into peals of laughter and abundant singing and dancing ensued.

2015-hotelbday2

K blew out her birthday candles (I did not make the cake; totally dialed it in on the food front), and they watched a movie into the wee hours of the night, complete with butter popcorn and Ramune, a distinctively Japanese soda that comes with a marble as a stopper.

2015-hotelbday3 2015-hotelbday4

The star of the party, however, was this label maker. The girls went wild for this cool contraption I got at Kinokuniya on sale, and it elevated the goody bag content manifold:

2015-hotelbday5 2015-hotelbday7

There are quite a few different tape designs that you can get for the label maker, and the tapes themselves are more like washi but not quite as sticky — you can see them starting to peel off from the keycard and wooden tags above. I believe the girls made about a thousand labels, including one for “DJ Fat Daddy”. M was a humongous hit at the party. I keep finding labels stuck everywhere in the house.

2015-hotelbday6

There were five girls total for the sleepover and I thought that was just the right number. The ladies conducted a survey amongst themselves and the consensus was that the party was a 10 out of 10 (well, one girl gave it a 9 out of 10, but hey, close enough).

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. The sweet sensation of checking off another biggie from my to-do list!! Alright, I’m ready to get cracking on some sewing for pure fun…I’ve missed it so so much.

P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Erica, congrats!

P.P.P.S. Our neighbor, who is like a second daughter to me, was an indispensable helper — the key to a killer party is to basically have a savvy 10-year-old run the show.