Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas To All...

Dear friends,

I'm so ready to spend the next few days snuggled up with my family, but I thought I'd leave you with one more easy, last-minute decorating idea: cranberries! I like to scatter them in the base of candle holders, and in little white teacups with tall tapers stuck in the middle- so simple, and so festive. Whatever you celebrate, or don't celebrate, at this time of year (I call it "Christhannukawanzaastice"), I hope you are warm and safe, and surrounded by good food and good friends!



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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pom-Pom Hat Pattern

I have a serious case of knitter's disease. When I see a factory-knit garment, I simply can't bring myself to buy it. No no, I have to examine it, dissect it, and make my own version. Naturally, when I saw this Anthropologie Pom Beanie, my first thought was: "Thick yarn? All garter stitch and a big ol' pom-pom? I can make that!" And the only thing better than making one for myself, is sharing my pattern with you!

These hats are so fast and easy to whip out, there's still plenty of time to make a few for the fashionably-inclined women in your life. Just put on your favorite Christmas movie (Elf? Scrooged? Christmas Vacation?) and you'll be about finished by the time it's over. I wanted to make it beginner friendly as well, so this hat is knit flat- no knowledge of circular or double-pointed needles necessary (though, of course, you can easily join it and knit in the round, if you'd prefer).

So here's a little Christmas present from me to you. Click here to download the free PDF.

Hope you enjoy it!

Photos by Michael Hudson for Is + Was

P.S. Please feel free to comment if you find anything confusing in the pattern. I want to make it as easy-breezy as possible!

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

One Rainy Wish

Tatine Tisane Candle, found here.

I am not ordinarily in favor of perfumed things. In fact, I am so averse to heavy perfumes that I become filled with rage in movie theaters and restaurants where I am inundated with people's heavy-handed scent application, and I have to restrain myself from standing up and shouting: "Do you realize you are impacting everyone within a 50-foot radius?!!" So, needless to say, I was surprised when I was taken in by a scented candle.

These are not sickly sweet, apples 'n cinnamon candles. They are subtle and delightful in both scent and name (One Rainy Wish, Swarm of Bees, Kensington Gardens). They smell of rain, and grass, and high school boyfriends, and would make a delightful stocking-stuffer. Just in case you were on the hunt. :)

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DIY Christmas Village

For as long as I can remember, my mom has had a traditional, ceramic Christmas village that we set up on the mantle each year. Long before I probably should have been handling fragile miniatures, I was entrusted with the task of unwrapping each tiny house, and deciding the layout of that year's Christmas village. Sometimes the church and the itty-bitty carolers were front and center; more often, as I got older and snarkier, it was the public house or the inn that the other buildings were clustered around. Either way, it never felt like the holiday season had truly begun until the village was twinkling on the mantle.

This year, I decided it was time to start some new traditions- complete with my very own Christmas village. I wanted mine to be a little more modern, a little more colorful, and, of course, DIY-able.

I'm so happy with how it turned out! It reminds me of a quaint little French village...though, with the color scheme, maybe it's more like a quaint Miami village. Here's the scoop, if you'd like to make your own:

I primarily used this tutorial for the houses, and this one for the trees, but I made a few modifications to make my life easier.

For the houses:

- First, I used tape almost exclusively to construct the houses. I find glue to be a fickle mistress, and I was getting so frustrated with attempting to get all my little folded edges to fit perfectly and then stay in place while the glue was drying, that at one point I actually King Kong-stomped one of my houses. Yep. Full-on temper tantrum. Once I discovered that I could forgo all the folding and tucking and gluing and just tape the damn things together, I ran around the house gleefully dumping things from their boxes and stealing the centers out of our toilet paper rolls in my haste to make more houses. Yes, you can see the tape a little bit in the finished product, but it really doesn't detract from the effect at all, and it made the project so much less fussy.

- For the towers, or silos as I like to think of them, I simply made little cone shapes out of Kraft paper for the roof, and glued them on top of toilet paper rolls (yes, I deigned to use glue).

- If you want your village to be lit at night, just cut small holes in the bottom of your houses for the lights, and make little "windows" in front for the light to shine out of. Ultimately, I decided I liked mine just the way it was, and left the twinkling to the Christmas tree.

For the trees:

- I used these plastic cones (found at my local Joann's), rather than styrofoam, then cut them down to my desired heights. My trees are about 6, 8, and 10 inches tall.

- I opted to use tacky glue for the entire process, rather than a hot-glue gun. Initially I did this because I was afraid the hot glue would melt the plastic cones, but now that I've gone through the process, I would recommend avoiding hot glue, even if you're using styrofoam cones instead of plastic. It's a bit of a squidgy process (you're trying to wrap straight pieces of felt around something conical, so it's not an exact science), and I often did a fair amount of adjusting with my fingers before I got the strip to lay just right. Had I been using a hot glue gun, I suspect I would have gotten burned. A lot.

- Though it's not called out in the instructions, don't forget to measure the circumference at the base of your trees to determine how long to make your longest pieces of felt.

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Monday, December 3, 2012


Here's something you should know about me: I love love love surprises, and (surprise!) I love presents. I'll never complain about getting one, but I get a special thrill out of giving them- especially in creatively wrapped packages. As the holiday season approaches, I've been thinking about what to gift my loved ones, and I keep coming back to experiences, rather than things- tickets to a show, a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, a day of shopping, etc. The problem is, experiences don't make very interesting packages.

Enter the party-in-a-box.

For his birthday last winter, I decided to give Michael a bunch of gift certificates to schmancy restaurants and other fun things for us to do together. I knew he would really enjoy the gift, but it seemed a little anti-climactic to just hand him an envelope, so I devised a slightly more interesting presentation:

 Put the gift certificates in a giant box, and fill it with tissue paper, confetti, and balloons!

I wrote on my balloons with a Sharpie (one said: "Date Night 2012" and the other said "Upgrade Package"), but if you wanted to step it up a notch, you could order customized balloons.

I also thought you might enjoy something a little more glamorous than a handwritten note on a piece of card stock, so I made you a free printable. Click here to download it.

Bonus points for re-purposing an adorable box from Fab.

Pro tip: If you don't have confetti laying around (who does?) you can make some by cutting up little pieces of wrapping paper ribbon, as I did above. Available materials for the win!

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