Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter in the back yard

Here are some winter pictures for you to enjoy. Hopefully you're reading this from a warmer climate!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Simple Gifts

It seems like Christmas was months ago, but I am so thankful for some of the gifts I received, I wanted to write a quick post about it. This was a year that many people felt crunches -- both time and money -- and there was a lot of discussion both in the media and in my own family about cutting back or simplifying when it came to gift giving.

I have always believed that it's the thought that counts and it's better to give than to receive. Sounds trite, but I've always felt this way and believe I've lived this truth. A gift selected and given with love is the most important gift of all. The value is in the process, not the item itself.

This year, I spent a delightful day shopping in a non-mall venue with a dear friend. I purchased gifts for the people I loved. I thought about them, how they would use the gift, shared a story or two about them with my friend as we shopped, and truly enjoyed myself. My daughter helped me wrap the gifts and prepare the packages for mailing. We had a lovely evening away from the TV (and Facebook) and felt the Christmas Spirit in our home.

The gifts pictured above are gifts I received. They too were selected with me in mind and given with true generosity and a nice dose of the Christmas Spirit. The scarves are from my mother in law and are something I never thought I needed but now can't imagine not having. They are pretty and feminine and just my style. The house pin is a gift from my mom and dad. It was made by a little girl whose class decided to raise money for Haiti. It speaks to my love of houses, philanthropy, and good-old-fashioned arts and crafts. In this year that I am selling a house and hoping to buy another one, this pin reminds me that a home is any house with a big heart inside. The peacock feather is from a close friend. It reminds me of the "stray" peacock that was living in her yard a few years ago and it's a reminder to me to be strong and proud (and maybe a little vain) -- all qualities that are important for me this year. The necklace is from a new friend, but honestly -- how perfect: I'm a jewelry book editor, and now I have book jewelry. I'm proud to be her editor and her friend, and I wear this necklace for inspiration.

I don't mean to be ranting in this post. I just want to offer a gentle reminder that simple gifts, gifts from the heart, are all anyone needs and are worth all the money in the world.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Day Project

When my kids were in preschool and I was a stay-at-home mom, I loved to wear colorful, seasonal sweaters. Now that they are teens and I'm working for a living, not so much. Here's a fun way to upcycle your old wool sweaters (this would work with blankets or throws as well):

Step 1: Forget all the rules of laundry, and throw your sweater in the washer set to hot water. Add detergent and a few towels and/or a pair of jeans.

Step 2: As the washer agitates, the wool will begin to shrink and felt. When the cycle is done, check to see if you're happy with the progress. My sweater felted a little, but I could still see the stitches. I liked the look, so I tossed it in the dryer. Here's how it came out:

 Step 3: Cut the sweater as if it's fabric in a shape to fit a pillow form. I used one side seam as an edge. Turn right sides together, and sew the open sides, leaving a small gap to insert the pillow form.

Step 4: Turn the pillow case right sides out and insert the pillow. Hand sew the gap closed. You'll find the wool "swallows" up your stitches, so using a doubled thread is fine and you'll hardly see the hand stitching.

Tah-da! My new seasonal accent pillow: