Nesting

I got into the whole pregnancy nesting thing a bit late in the game. At least that’s what it feels like. Fellow blogger Graylin Porter has been posting pictures of her adorable nursery and she’s still got months left! My mother and friends have been asking after the baby’s room since this summer. I guess it’s just safe to say I didn’t rush the process.

Whenever asked I say that the nursery is “adventure themed” but it has as much of a theme as our wedding did. Our wedding theme was “fun.” People really love a theme though, so there you go! It was really cool to incorporate a print of a US map I got for Christmas last year. Tyler’s grandfather’s hobby was framing and we were able to use one of his frames for it. The hot air balloon Tyler gave me for my birthday looks perfect with it.

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The most special part has to be the baby blanket that Tyler’s mom made though. It’s absolutely incredible. She made it by hand while living on her sailboat in Central America. It’s perfect for our soon-to-be beach baby. If there’s one thing I don’t doubt, it’s that this kid will be a total fish (his/her father might not make it otherwise). My mom bought these sweet notecards that she framed to go with the blanket.

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The best, best part of the room? All the generosity that got it here. We’ve been so incredibly lucky by receiving tons of hand-me-down baby items while also being able to repurpose other furniture. This dresser/changing table? That’s from my nursery! Tyler had been using it as a dresser but he was forced to give it up (I don’t think he minded).

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This crib? A gift from a coworker whose children are too old for it. And these are just the big pieces. In the closet and dresser are all sorts of little items that have been passed down to me. Almost every piece of clothing I wear right now is the same.

These are the things that remind of the community of love that surrounds this little one. Displaying them for him or her is the most fun of all. I really look forward to being able to share this generosity with others when the time comes as well. It’s been the hidden surprise to all of this- how glad others are to help and how they go out of their way to do so. Pay it forward!

Celebrating Togetherness

You may already know that I am a sucker for certain things. These things include: books, ladies night, book clubs where books are actually discussed, excellent food, and adorable decorations. Evidence of such love can be found here, here, and here.

Sometimes when you are very lucky you are able to combine all of your favorite things in one delightful evening. This month was the one year anniversary of our little, lovely book club. It was an anniversary that went mostly unnoticed but it was wonderful to realize that our group was still going strong. Previously I’ve been in book clubs where wine trumped the book but each time I am pleasantly surprised to find that everyone has read the book and everyone genuinely wants to talk about it. My book club email chain is basically the only reason I read my personal email. Except to obsessively enter giveaways, but that’s another story.

Another one of the perks of our group is the food. It’s been a fantastic, unexpected perk that everyone likes to cook or bake. Even this week when we were “only having pizza” (delish!) the side dishes included kale chips, a fantastic kale salad (recipe here), breadsticks (be still my heart!- make your own), fresh fruit and NUTELLA STUFFED COOKIES. Since you will die unhappy without this recipe, I will provide it for you. You have been warned though- a cookie coma is possible.

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This past Monday book club was elevated to a new level when Mel of Tabled sent us some goodies to perk up our table. You may remember reading about Mel when I described how I want to live vicariously through her. Even though I only met her and her fiancé, Carson, briefly for a weekend it was such a wonderful encounter and I’ve been lucky to stay in contact with them. When Mel kindly volunteered to share some of her wares with us, I couldn’t have been more excited!  Her table accessories are all handmade by local artists and craftsmen from throughout the country. Tabled’s philosophy comes down to every meal being a celebration. I couldn’t agree more.

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Photo credit: Chrissy Hennessy

Meal times are special, whether there’s an occasion to celebrate or not. My husband and I sit down for dinner together most every night because that is our time together. It was the same with my family. Whether it was when my parents were together or after their divorce, it didn’t matter whose house I was at- we always ate dinner together. It’s also the hardest part of living in Wilmington. Our weekly supper club was family night. It was a meal time that could be fancy or could be pretty basic but it was a celebration of our friendship, of new friends and of being together.

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Having Tabled’s little touches to our book club dinner was a fun and special touch that we all really enjoyed. I’m excited to incorporate them into my every day dinners too!

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Even nacho night is looking extra fancy!

Kiddo DIY Gifts

To wrap up my holiday homemade, handmade, local gift series, I’ll end up with little girl themed gifts. If you want to find out about local Wilmington gifts, holiday ornaments for friends and coworkers, or my annual Christmas panic you can read past posts.

Last year my nieces received scarves and jewelry boxes with earrings (jewelry was purchased). This year my youngest niece, Holland, asked for books, lip gloss, “world peace”, “nothing”, and “me” (meaning herself). She’s eight. The last three were hard to work with so I opted for books and lip gloss. I will do anything I can to encourage the girls’ reading so I bought three books off her list.

The ten year old, Georgia, also wanted lip gloss, which worked out as the recipe I found, made six little pots. I opted for a pink, shimmery, peppermint kind. This felt right up their alley.

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Pros and cons of this craft-

Pros:

  • It was really easy and took no time. All I needed was a microwave, a bowl and a spoon in terms of equipment.
  • The hardest part was pouring into the pots quickly so it looked nice. Didn’t look nice? Put it back in the bowl and microwave again. Easy. Done.
  • The color looks really nice in the pots but is subtle (if noticeable at all) on your lips. Very appropriate for a young person. It also feels very smooth and soothing.

Cons:

  • I didn’t have most of the ingredients I needed to make this. I bought the peppermint oil (not cheap but I can use for other things), a box of little plastic containers (so…everyone’s getting lip gloss for next Christmas), beeswax pellets (I also want to make candles so not a big deal) and sweet almond oil. I already had the shea butter. If I end up not using these items for other things then this is an expensive gift. If I do, then it’s incredibly cheap.

I knew Georgia was getting a desk for Christmas so I wanted to make her things for her room. I painted a small wooden tray black (pink and black are her colors) which in retrospect I wish I done a bigger one or made it glittery. To go with it I took two heavy paper mache letters (her initials) from a craft store and painted the sides black. On the front I used a large sheet of pink glitter adhesive paper (basically a giant pink glitter sticker) to brighten it. On the functional side these could be book ends, otherwise they’re decorative. She was a fan.

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For some reason this picture won’t turn. I hope you ge the drift.

 

 

They worked well with the two inexpensive translucent pink glasses to be used for pencil holders. At Target I found a pack of mini desk items such as a mini-stapler, mini-scissors, mini-tape, etc (all in purple) and at World Market I picked up a cute notepad and mini clothespins in different colors. Perfect for the desk which is more fun than functional.

The best part of these gifts? I got a hug after the girls opened every single one.

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I tried hard this year to simplify. No complicated crafts. No multi-month projects. This equals no tears or frustration! All in all I think it was a success! Hopefully I can keep this up every year…

My Unreasonable Obsession With Gift Baskets

I don’t know many people my age who love gift baskets. I don’t think many people really think about gift baskets. I mean, why would you?

I do. Often. It’s my favorite kind of gift to give. One of the very best gifts we received for our wedding was a honeymoon basket from Tyler’s mother. It was a large beautiful rectangular basket filled with everything we could have wanted for our road trip honeymoon: a tablecloth, two cloth napkins, two candles, a bottle of champagne, olives, cheese, crackers, summer sausage, smoked salmon and a beautiful handmade card. It was incredible. (Forgive the lack of photo. I was a little distracted at the time. )When we received a small monogrammed cheeseboard and knife from a friend, we were completely set. We loved our gourmet driving snacks of salmon and cheese and upgrading our meals with candles and cloth napkins at night.

This basket was the catalyst for me. Since then I’ve given three wedding baskets and I won’t be stopping any time soon. I have no idea if the recipients enjoy receiving them as much as I enjoy making them but at least I’m having fun!

This summer two friends were planning a honeymoon road trip and I was inspired to make a similar basket to the one we received. My mother has an excess of baskets and she was kind enough to give me a few. I took a medium rectangular one and filled it with a mustard yellow polka dot picnic cloth (made from an old curtain I had), two navy cloth napkins, a bottle of bubbly, scones, homemade apple butter and a small pouch that contained plastic cutlery and wet wipes. Plastic cutlery and wet wipes are two items that I consider mandatory for a road trip. You need them if you’re going to avoid eating unhealthy gas stations snacks (or to wipe away the Cheetos). Unfortunately the photo of this basket was lost in a tragic I-forgot-the-passcode-to-my-iPhone-and-had-to-have-it-reset incident.

The next two baskets were for celebrations on the same weekend. So much love in such a short period of time!

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This basket was for a lovely couple that chose their wedding weekend hashtag as #keepingupwiththewoneses. Adorable. Don’t be concerned though. Their last name is not Wones. I don’t think I could handle that. To pad the basket (another gift from my mother) I used another curtain from my apartment in Austin. I didn’t line it to make a nice tablecloth. If I put more thought into it, I would made it into a table runner.

I’m all about gift baskets including something tasty, something to drink, something practical and something cute. Their go to alcohol is Tito’s vodka, so I had to include a bottle. I added a jar of my peach jam to give it a homemade tasty feature. For a while I had been wanting to support my friend and former coworker, Caroline Robe, by purchasing one of her beautiful handmade wooden kitchen items. This basket gave me the opportunity to purchase her salad spoons. Aren’t they beautiful? Then to make the basket fun I added a succulent in a jar by The Coastal Succulent (keep it local) and an embroidered hoop with their wedding hashtag. Unfortunately the embroidered portion took longer than I would have liked and the gift was late. It had vodka in it though, so who cares.

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This basket was for one of my oldest friends and her husband. Knowing her as I do I knew that a gift should be carefully chosen. She’s practical but likes her practical items to also be aesthetically pleasing. She’s recognizes thoughtless or impersonal gifts quickly. They are also moving and I did not want to add to the stress of their packing. Luckily my gift basket strategy would fit the bill.

You’ll recognize the fabric from the other basket. I had more than one window at my Austin apartment and therefore more than one curtain. The basket was one I had been gifted from my mom again.

Drinkable item: Brut Rose bubbly wine from Palate– I was told this was a safe and tasty wine

Homemade items: Tomato jam and Strawberry jam (I like to have both sweet and savory)

Tasty items: Pepperoni and Salami that needed to be kept cool but not refrigerated, perfect for a basket. The company is also based in Virginia!

Practical items: A small cutting board from Caroline Robe’s Blasfemme Designs, two cloth napkins and hidden behind the board were plastic cutlery so they could eat the treats on the way home if they wanted.

I think my dream job might be to make gift baskets. So if you know how I can get this going, let me know. In the meantime as you plan your holiday gifts, I highly recommend the often overlooked gift basket. It’s very handy when you’re giving to a group of people like a family or your office.

Happy crafting!

Annual Christmas Present Panic: Balancing Thoughtful Gifts with My Budget

On November 1st I felt the annual panic. Lighted wreaths appeared on the telephone polls outside the wine shop. Target’s Christmas light selection appeared behind the newly discounted candy. We are moments away from hearing the Nutcracker theme on the speakers in every mall, post office and dentist office.

What does this all mean? As a overly zealous planner, it means I need to know what I’m doing for Christmas gifts. Every year I try to balance three key issues:

  1. The Budget- I don’t have a large budget for Christmas gifts, but I love elaborate gifts. There is no logical reason for this but I am always concerned about my gift “not being enough”. Nor can I resist purchasing “the perfect gift” when I come across it.
  2. Homemade- Trying to keep my budget low goes hand in hand with making homemade gifts. The problem with homemade gifts is unless you’re especially gifted (get it?!) you may find that yourself staying up late at night working on overly intricate hand-embroidered items or making gifts that you’re not sure anyone actually wants.
  3. Materialism- Why are we stressing ourselves out over gifts when there are so many people who don’t have anything? Do you actually need anything this Christmas? Are the gifts you’re giving contributing to the closets of the one you love or are they things they will appreciate? There is so much excess in our country. I don’t have any desire to contribute to it more than I already do.

I truly love to give gifts. I don’t always succeed in giving personal, thoughtful gifts but I always try and I like the process. None of this would bother me if I didn’t.

This year (as I do every year) I’ll be doing my best to only give homemade/handmade, local gifts or immaterial gifts. We’ll see if I can do it! I’ll be sharing ideas for you to do the same if it appeals to you. Here’s last year’s Christmas gifts if you need some ideas to get you started!