I come from a pretty proud Italian family... not like Jersey Shore proud... I mean I am from Jersey, but not like Jersey Jersey... This isn't helping. My great-grandparents immigrated from Italy as children in the early 1900s, came through Ellis Island, and settled somewhere along the Hudson outside of New York City. As far as I know they received an 8th grade education and spent the rest of their lives doing various odd jobs and pursuing different entrepreneurial ventures. One family legend suggests that my great-grandfather won the family farm in a poker game... not sure how true it is, but we have a lot of stories like that. One of their ventures in the 50s and 60s was owning and operating a restaurant in Kinderhook, NY and I recently stumbled upon an internet archive of the Chatham Courier, a newspaper that ran their ads. They're so cute and vintage, I really wanted to get them off the internet and turn them into something functional and fun. So for Christmas I made my brother and father each a set of coasters. They are extremely easy to make and require only a few inexpensive materials. Here's how it's done:
I started by saving the ads I found online to a word document and printing them out on standard computer paper. Once I cut them out I used a paintbrush to apply craft glue and smooth the ad onto the tile (which I found at Home Depot for like a dollar each). I'm not sure if it matters, but I used a glue called Weldbond that specifically states it adheres to ceramic. This step is really just to make sure the image stays in place when you apply the lacquer, that's what will actually seal the piece. Once they're all glued, take the pieces outside and evenly coat each tile with lacquer (again, I bought a lacquer that listed ceramic as a compatible material). Read the can to find out how much time to wait between coats. I did three, waiting a half an hour between each coat. Give them 24 hours to fully dry before moving onto the next step.
Once the tiles are dry you can flip them over and attach the cork bottom. This part is extremely simple.
Con-Tact Brand makes thin sheets of cork in rolls that are already adhesive and provide you with a grid for easy measuring. Just use a tile to determine which grid section to cut, peel the paper back, and stick the square to the back of your tile. I'm not sure how permanent the adhesive is, especially on ceramic tile, so I let each piece sit under a few weighty books before calling them complete. They seem to stick fine as long as you don't actively pick at them, but I guess time will tell with this one.
Overall, the project is extremely simple to complete and is really not too time consuming aside from waiting for them to dry. They were a huge hit with my father (who on principle generally does not accept gifts from anyone... he leads a "minimalist" lifestyle or something... I don't know) and I've now been commissioned to create a set for each of the remaining family members. What I like about these though is that they are a cool conversation piece, can be personalized in any way you want, and are super cheap.
I realize now that I neglected to photograph these coasters actually functioning as coasters... I promise they are sturdy and waterproof... Blogger fail.
I realize this is a little after the fact, but a couple weeks ago my college roommates got together for a Galentine's Day celebration and naturally I felt compelled to share the event with strangers on the internet. For those unfamiliar (do these people exist?), Galentine's Day occurs on February 13th and is essentially just an opportunity for some good old fashioned girl bonding, you know... "ladies celebrating ladies" (Knope, 2011). My friend Tori was this year's host and despite being stuck in a medical boot for a mysterious toe injury she managed to supply us with snacks, crafts, and entertainment. She even coordinated a Skype call with our long lost Alaskan transplant roommate and recent baby mama, Chloe.
Basically, we spent the evening eating, drinking, and attempting to create enough googly eyed pom-pom creatures to fill an entire box bound for Alaska. Upon further research, I discovered that these creatures are actually called love monsters and the tutorial I found is pretty obviously intended for small children... but whatever, we majored in Art Education... children's crafts speak to us. With a little more research I found that you can make all kinds of creatures out of pom-poms! Hedgehogs, baby chicks, and bunnies are all in the running. There are a few different techniques floating around out there including using your fingers, pieces of cardboard, or a store bought pom-pom making tool, but we went with the fork method for ours.
I'm not sure if our love monsters ever made it to Alaska, but I hope so because they are freaking adorable and the perfect gift for our lovely Chloe who spent her free time attaching googly eyes to countless items in our college townhouse (including, but not limited to, light switches, apples, the toilet).
Being the mediocre blogger that I am, I forgot my fancy camera and had to rely on cell phone pictures to document the event. Being the mediocre millennial that I am, my phone's camera does not function and I had to rely on the kindness of my dear friend Rachel for said cell phone pictures. Thanks, Rachel.
It's time for the fourth installment of yarny things I make while hiding from the world and waiting for spring! For Christmas I made my roommate an ear warmer she wanted and learned a new technique that changed my life... the chainless foundation double crochet stitch. The entirety of my crochet knowledge comes from what I manage to glean via google so it's safe to say that I practice some pretty bad habits; one of which is crocheting into the initial chain. I have never understood which loops you're supposed to crochet into and just continually fought with the yarn until something resembling a single or double crochet stitch happened... until now! With a chainless foundation stitch you can bypass the uncertainty and struggle! Now I never have to learn how to actually crochet properly, a wonderful solution for a lazy girl like me. Plus, chainless foundation double crochet stitch sounds deceivingly complicated so you can be all fancy in front of your knitter friends...and/or cat.
All of this is beside the point... the point is I had left over yarn from my roommate's Christmas present and decided to make yet another accessory for myself (still you should really check out that tutorial). I don't fully understand the point of boot cuffs because like... what happened to the rest of your sock? But when you have half a ball of yarn left and already a zillion mug cozies what else is there? So I made these things and I think they're pretty cute if not very functionally warm. Gotta love a scalloped edge.
You can find the tutorial I used here.
See you next time when I expand into full on leg warmers... but like for real.
If that Google Image result page is not the most twee thing I've ever seen I don't know what is. This little guy was my first attempt, his name is Todd. The vast majority of patterns online are available for purchase, but with some sleuthing I was able to find one for free here. The most difficult part is getting the rounds to line up so the poor thing doesn't look like it's been put through a woodchipper. After several failed attempts I was able to get the yarn to cooperate and the finished product is so cute I could puke. Next up, his very best friend, Copper.
I don't know how you fare in the winter months, but I spent nearly half of last year consistently dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, sweatpants, and gloves under a floor length fleece robe... not a good look. This year I thought I would take a slightly different approach: A blanket fashioned into a trendy article of clothing! At $80 however, this particular item of blanket chic is well out of my price range so I thought I would attempt making one from an actual blanket I found on clearance at Target for $13! Full disclosure: The poncho is now marked down to $50 due to my aforementioned hibernation, but the fact that I was able to disrobe (like I literally had to get out of my robe) long enough to transition into what I had made without getting frostbitten makes this a success.
As it turns out, a standard throw blanket (50x60 inches) is exactly the same size as this poncho which leads me to believe it is in fact a blanket with a hood attached. I've figured out your tricks, Urban Outfitters!
When it came to assembling this piece it was fairly simple. I laid it on the floor folded in half and cut a slit from the fabric's edge to the center of the fold. I then made an additional cut along the fold for the neckline.
I used liquid stitch to make sure the material wouldn't fray, to attach the zipper to the underside of the opening, and attach the scarf at the fold (somehow I stumbled across a scarf for $3 at AC Moore that matched the throw). I'm not sure how much I trust liquid stitch since it is just glue, but I clamped the fabric while each step dried and probably wouldn't throw this poncho in a washing machine. Spot clean only. My intention was to recreate this piece without a sewing machine because A.) it would be easier for others to attempt and B.) I do not own a sewing machine... heh. All in all I think it turned out pretty well. The hardest part was photographing myself wearing it... I just have no concept of what to do with my limbs in pictures (they are disproportionately lanky to my short torso, but that's a story for another time). So I recruited my dear friend Rachel to model for me instead, it's better for everyone that I not document my awkward. Thank you Rachel for doing the world this great service. Here's the final product:
As I mentioned, I spent my extended hiatus bundled up on the couch with an endless supply of yarn. The outcome should fuel this blog for at least another month. Being young and poor is rough around the holiday season which is why my family has politely smiled through year after year of questionable hand made gifts. Even I will admit that those early years were rough (my apologies for the aqua blue and white pom pom ear warmers, mom... the jazzy yarns look like a fun time, but are always too much... ALWAYS), but over time I have honed my skills and feel pretty confident in the quality of my holiday presents at this point. Usually, we do a small gift exchange with immediate family, but this year my mom's entire family visited and this being my first year out of grad school, I figured I couldn't get away with playing the student card anymore... so I turned to the thrift store and my craft bin. I found this tutorial on pinterest and followed it pretty exactly with minor adjustments for the size of each individual mug. I made eight in total if I am remembering correctly and they seemed genuinely well received... but seriously, I'm well on my way to becoming this woman:
I am comfortable in the knowledge that I will never be up on the current trends, but does this "Leather Harness Vest" actually serve a purpose? Despite the utilitarian look, almost definitely not... and that's okay except when did Middle-earth attire go mainstream? The reviews of this product don't lend much insight either stating, "it definitely attracts attention" and "I think of this piece almost as a vest". Sounds like the jury has almost come to a verdict on this one. I guess Free People is known for catering to the woodland pixie of your friend group, but $98 really?
And seriously... they could be sisters.