I’m working on adding a few homemade Christmas touches each year to our collection and this year I decided to DIY a new pillow cover for our couch. The sectional is an ever-changing pillow hodge podge (I tend to just cover up a current pillow with a new cover, so sometimes you can find two or three previous designs underneath ) and I scooped up this particular basic tan throw pillow cover from Ikea for $6.
I thought about felting an ornament or Christmas tree design onto the front (maybe a future project?) but then recalled seeing pillows of seasons past with a simple, scripted message and decided to give it a go.
The toughest part was deciding on what word! I love the pretty flow of ‘Merry’ and the joyful message – or state of Christmas being – that it conveys. It’s a good word to see day in and day out during this special time of gratefulness. Plus ‘M’s are just too fun to write out in cursive! (yeah for an ‘M’ first name)
Supplies for this project included two bright red embroidery thread bunches, an embroidery needle and my blank pillow cover.
An embroidery stitch is quite simple, it involves a basic back stitch technique so that while you’re stitching forward in your design, each stitch will head backwards as you go. Forgive the left hand awkwardness of this shot while I balance my camera in the other:
So my forward progress is on the reverse side of the pillow (though make sure you’re not stitching the two pillow sides together) and my needle pops up and out of the fabric about 1/4 of an inch out from the previous stitch. Then I head back towards that previous stitch to cover up my 1/4 fabric gap. The back stitch allows me to overlap my stitches just a hair so that the embroidery might appear to be close to one continuous line.
Writing out the entire word ‘Merry’ took a couple of hours one late evening while we had some friends over. I like projects that occupy the hands but don’t require too much thinking .
I first attempted to draw a light pencil line on the actual fabric to give myself a template to follow with the needle, but quickly found that it disappeard into the color of the tan fabric too quickly. Anything darker and it would have been harder to erase off of this heavily weaved fabric. Update: Sheila just shared with me that you can purchase a vanishing fabric marker that will write purple and disappear by the next day! Perfect!
In the end I wrote out ‘Merry’ on a card and free handed the pillow. The imperfections are part of what makes it special, though I see areas where I would have dipped my cursive down further, should have slanted my ‘y’ more, or might have added more flourish for interest. Ah well.
I’m really excited with how this project turned out given the time I worked on it and the easy update it makes to the living room! When Christmas is over I can pull off the cover of one of my favorite pillows (those ikat tan ones left over from the nursery glider fabric) that’s hiding below and pack up the ‘Merry’ cheer into my Christmas boxes for next year.
Christmas is just around the corner! So exciting!
Tags: Accessories, Christmas, Crafty Solutions, Decorating, DIY, Home, Living Room, Red, Sewing, Tutorial
Posted in Crafty Solutions, DIY, Holidays, Home, Our Living Room, Renovating Adventures | 3 Comments »
Boys are hard to shop for. Make that very hard to shop for. It might just be me, but when it comes to my gift list and I get to the 8 brothers (yes, 8! including Kevin’s siblings), 3 dads, 3 grandpas and one special hubby in my life, I tend to go back to old time favorites (sweaters, socks or a loved alcoholic beverage) again and again and again. Or worse – I wait until the very last minute and then regret my day-before-Christmas decisions.
Not to say that I haven’t already picked out some very cozy wool sweaters for a few in the group , but with all of that in mind, here are a few ideas I’ve pulled together from favorite shops, the good ole’ web and my favorite gift guide magazines. I hope that it’s helpful for all of the men in your life! And here’s a link to last year’s list (which is full of even more boy ideas).
Love this plaid twill driving cap and very handsome messenger bag at a very decent price. Banana Republic’s big & tall is consistently my go-to for Kevin, this sweater is available in regular and long. I would love to gift Kevin with a new leather watch! I have my eye on a few… Kev is also on the lookout for a new pair of boat shoes, and I wonder how he’d feel about the jute? I kind of like these guys a lot (especially for the price).
I shared one of my favorite retro alarm clocks last year, but this year’s version is the perfect step up – an iPhone docking station as well!
This macaroon suction cup is a tasty idea to keep earbuds tangle free and connected to your phone. Also for electronics, I dig the unique look of this bamboo charging station – perfect for the kitchen counter and to keep all electronics corralled and powered.
For the snow enthusiast, here’s a take on a repurposed board or ski that I haven’t seen before – a bottle rack! And while on that ski vacation while using said bottle rack, don’t forget your charades to go for instant and immediate friend fun.
A mini pocket fishing rod! For when an afternoon bite calls at lunch time (and you happen to be within walking distance of a pond…). More outdoor ideas: for all of the bike lovers in your life, I love the unique use of refurbished bike chain accessories and art. Check out this cool bowl. And with names like ‘the Exploder’ and ‘Jetstreamer’, here are four fun tricks to play on a friend’s short game… the perfect treat for the golfer.
Nosy keeps track of glasses for the hubby or dad who can’t ever seem to remember where he put them down…
The ultimate survivor-kit-in-a-water-bottle.
This is an accessory that I would love to add to my own bike, and one that I’m sure many a bike rider would use! Listen to music, track miles on a biking app or use the GPS of your handlebar mounted phone.
Kev loves a good home brew, this chart would be perfect for his garage/man cave. Speaking of home brew, one year he gifted his latest batch to each of his buddies, I’d like to see them draped in ugly Christmas sweater bottle covers next time. Hehehe. Or perhaps for a gift of whiskey or scotch (or wine? or any other alcohol that guys will most likely…).
Scientists and foodies alike, this looks like an awesome kit! Molecular gastronomy at the home level – kind of reminds me of this place that I’m dying (though my wallet’s not) to check out. They also make a version for cocktails! Speaking of yummy drinks and adventure, my camper-of-a-husband would think this little collapsible cup keychain is a great addition for his backpack – and if I stuffed a IOU One Camping Trip note inside, he’d be doubly happy. Ditto for the 10-in-1 Adventure Tool.
Don’t let a mess of cables make you hang on for dear life, hubman to the rescue. And if your man is more of the hands-on type, retro safety glasses for the hipster carpenter (DIYer, mechanic, fix-everything-guy…).
Finally, bike enthusiasts unite under one clever book title. Here’s a quick read full of quirky writing on the world of bicycle commuting. Another title that looks equally amusing for the biker: The Bike Snob.
For all the musicians out there, here’s a poster to rock his socks off: James Gulliver Hancock All the Guitars in Tennessee. And how cool is this? Transform just about anything into a custom guitar pick! Recycle gift cards, credit cards, old IDs, container lids…
When we were in Japan we came across the most perfectly round glass-sized ice cubes that we’d ever seen. I’ve finally found a product that promises a homemade version! I scooped up one for Kevin and one for my Dad.
Because we’re talking about boys today, and because storm proof matches would make any guy impressed. And because, why not?
BeerMo’s clip on to a beer (bonus: also a pacifier) to enliven any party. Looking to quickly chill that bottle of white? This is genius: a Corkcicle. If you’re looking for a toastier drink instead, I have nothing but rave reviews for my favorite milk frother (cappuccinos, chai tea lattes, hot chocolate…) which I really should have included in the Ladies Gift Guide – I use it on an everyday basis! Man or woman can appreciate a good cup of coffee at this price (ps this little contraption doesn’t steep espresso, but froths that perfect foam/hot milk to go with your morning cup of Joe.)
That red contraption above is touted as the perfect snow ball maker. Sold.
And just because I would really like to keep some of Joe’s amazing sticky stuff around the house, I’m including a gift every guy should love. Speaking of gifts that I know are winners, here’s the super lite pack that we took on our big adventure in September – I highly recommend for the avid traveller who doesn’t want to pay for extra luggage weight (throw this guy on as a backpack or look a bit more sophisticated by carrying it messenger style or by the top handle).
The above are full of ideas for little stocking stuffers, but here are a few add-ons that would be fun to find on the mantel on Christmas morning:
Data Warriors are the perfect stocking stuffers for anyone who has to tote around technology on the go. Bringing documents, pictures and projects to and from school, work and home is easy and cute (can I use that adjective to describe a guy’s gift?) with these little men. Another thoughtful stocking stuffer for the techy! Keep cords wrangled with these practical (but in the coolest shapes) cable twisters.
Updated photos of Olivia and family are mandatory gifts for parents and grandparents alike. I LOVE that this artist easel is a holiday-card version.
Ever have one of those days where you’re ready to aim a dart right at your most recent to-do list? Add a little whimsy to the corkboard in the office with these fun pushpins.
Rare, medium and welldone – the easiest way to check on your steaks (and make em perfect for each family member) and a great little stocking stuffer for less than $3.50 each.
Fun ideas for the boys! I hope this helps you crack the case for all of the important men in your lives – be they tech or sports or outdoor enthusiasts.
Posted in Gift Guides, Holidays | 6 Comments »
After much perusing and window shopping, I’m ready to launch my Ladies Gift Guide for 2012. I create this list with not just me in mind, but the gifter that has a wide variety of women to purchase for this holiday season. Between best friends and sisters and babysitters and mother-in-laws, we all have plenty of women to shower love on! I hope this helps with a few clever ideas!
PS here’s a link to last year’s list, too.
Let’s start with favorite clothing and jewelry finds. I am currently on the hunt for over-sized, comfy sweater for this season (nothing sounds more lovely when it’s cold outside) and this soft peach guy is just right (and would work well for most any size, shape, age…). Speaking of cozy, I picked up a pair of Toms in Kilim for winter as a comfy slip on with jeans and a sweater, Toms always make great gifts, especially considering their commitment to helping others.
This awesome jeweled pouch would be great for collecting loose change in a big bag, but is perhaps more perfect (and big enough) to sport as a clutch with a few credit cards, cell phone and a lip gloss (I love an anthro find under $50). I’ve been eying these hammered bangles for a while and think that they would make a very thoughtful and pretty gift for any girl (I was recently thinking of getting 5 to celebrate our 5th anniversary, Kev – what do you think? ).
This necklace is a fun, inexpensive addition to the jewelry box for special occasions just like the holidays (goes great with the peach sweater, no?). I still love my Timex watches! Though the face of mine now has a crack in it and I’d like to replace it with this one.
These gold ‘rock’ votive candle holders are really fun and I have my eye on them for the dining room table…
These personalized iPhone cases are adorable. You can also have them printed with a picture, which is pretty cool. Sticking with the theme of cool techy gadgets, my measly iPhone battery dies mid day these days (oh, internet) and having an extra boost in the form of a slide on battery case on hand would be amazing. Cnet identifies a bunch of great ones, Morphie is one of the more popular versions. And for charging laptops and ipads on long car rides? A coffee cup gadget charger for the console.
If I splurge on a manicure these days I usually opt for gel, 2 weeks of painted nails over 4 days? Love that. I’ve just found this at-home gel nail kit and that sounds like my money-saving solution.
I have been gravitating towards simple studs over the past few months and these grapefruit pink guys have caught my eye. What a bright pop of color!
Inspire the inner chef to launch her own micro green garden! I would love to add this as the centerpiece to our outdoor dining table, and to grow delicious sprouts and herbs in the spring (would look great in a kitchen bay window as well).
This Kate Spade shower curtain is less than $40 and can be found at Bed, Bath & Beyond, same with the above awesome coral towels. Speaking of ideas for the home, a no nail, no frame solution for awesomely matted photos? Indie Mats has come up with a clever solution. Makes a fun gift as a set, or give your wee one’s annual photo to family fully matted and in style.
This is a clever gift for the hostess – with this tray now carrying it all from kitchen or bar to entertaining area IS possible (and the green is a fun color!). Another hostess idea? Thymes sent over this sweet holiday diffuser and I thought I’d share it with you all as well. If you’re looking for that evergreen Christmas tree scent to flow throughout your house all winter long, this is the answer.
This eternity scarf reminds me of spring in the midst of winter and adds a nice little something to a big peacoat jacket. It’s too pretty!
This floral calendar would make a lovely replacement for my current 2012 Rifle Paper find (which I adore, but is no longer in print for the coming year). A bright pop of color for the wall. Chalkboard spice jars make cute kitchen accessories and great reusable containers.
I extolled the virtues of my favorite iPhone case from last season here, but THIS is the newly replaced version (after much wear and tear) and it is my favorite. I slip my phone, credit cards and ID into my back pocket and I’m off. It’s also super easy to transfer your most important contents from a purse to a briefcase to a diaper bag, and the green color is easily noticeable in a big, full bag.
San Francisco holds a special place in my heart and I would very much like to add this print to my office. The site sells a selection of fun cities to choose from to help personalize the gift and be sure to check Etsy for other vendors if your city is not listed.
I love this citrus print, it would look great in any kitchen (and kind of falls along the theme of the Rifle calendar I mentioned earlier – that, drat, doesn’t have a live link available anymore). This chevron blanket is a splurge, but would be so pretty flung casually over the end of a sofa.
Really digging gold bracelets right now so I had to throw two more classic versions in. This ID bracelet is chunky and great, and this coral bangle is an excellent addition to any stacking collection (bracelets are universal! Most women love them, even if just as costume jewelry).
Here’s a clever idea for the chef: disposable iPad sleeves that protect your ‘recipe book’ while you cook. Genius! There’s nothing like wet flour stuck in your tech nooks and crannies… argh. And for the bakers, all my letterpress fans out there, check out these awesome cookie cutters.
Last but not least, here are a few stocking stuffer ideas that I love for the family:
These hair ties are so soft and comfortable, and I love that the ladies behind this amazing business are two seventeen-year-old entrepreneurs! You go girls. They sent me a batch to test out and I offer two full thumbs up.
Three more ideas for the amazing chefs in our lives: a Home Made cookie stamper for the baker with a funny bone , a very sweet self-inking label maker for the constantly gifting chef, and as a fun yet practical stuffer, a hookeez bag holder for the environmentally friendly cook!
Another sweet treat for the giftee that has everything (or just really enjoys a movie night with the family). This pack of six delectable popcorn seasonings is only $15.
That’s this year’s round up! There are an awful lot of great gifting ideas out there but these are a few of my favorites. Be sure to check out last year’s list (I tried not to repeat but I love all of these ideas, too). And here’s a list to all gift guides posted here on the blog (including last week’s Kid’s Gift Guide ).
Posted in Gift Guides, Holidays | 1 Comment »