making flower crowns

Last week, my friend Katie and I went to a flower crown workshop at a local shop. It was one of the most blogger-y events I've been too. You know, beautiful flowers strewn about an impeccably-curated shop with pretty ladies sipping white wine out of small jam jars and nibbling on hibiscus shortbread cookies. Just perfection, and I mean that.

Fort Orange General Store is a small specialty shop here in Albany that sells all sorts of great gifts, home goods, jewelry, paperie and such. It's just adorable. When they announced that they were hosting a Flower Crown workshop under the direction of Flower Scout, Katie & I jumped at the chance.

We snipped flowers, twisted wire and fashioned ourselves some gorgeous crowns. Passersby must not have known what to think when they peered though the shop windows and saw a sea of women sipping wine and shopping in our lovely floral headwear.

The bottom line is that I need to find/create new opportunities to wear a flower crown because I felt like a damn princess and wore it until I went to bed, and then a little bit the next day on our way up to Quebec City. A princess, I tell you.

Such a blogger-y post, isn't it?! With all of the pretty crafting materials looking so beautiful up there. This is what I envision crafternoons looking like, but in my experience they are usually a bit messier. Regardless, who wants to come over for an overly styled crafternoon sometime? It will basically be a photo shoot set up to look like a crafternoon, but isn't that what blogs do anyway? :)

a baby shower for sister

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 6.44.37 PM.png A few weeks ago we gathered up a group of fantastic women to celebrate my sister's baby! Little Baby Girl M is scheduled to arrive in early January and we are all so over the moon. My mom and I wanted to throw a cozy little gathering for Kate and her ladies, so we decide to host a lunch at a local coffee shop. They were easy to work with and affordable, so it suited us perfectly.

The overwhelming theme of the day was, of course, sending so much good cheer and love into the universe for Kate and her husband and their yet-to-be-born wee one, but there were some cute details thrown in too. Here are the little bags of organic strawberry jelly beans and m&ms.

My mom made an incredible banner with hand cut letters and polka dot background paper. We also handed out cards for everyone to share their well-wishes and advice for the new mama. On the back, guests could fill in their wishes for Baby M. My cousin had a similar card at her shower and so I searched Pinterest to find inspiration for the wording.

Though we skipped the games, we did have one other optional activity at the shower. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was the only person who would like it, but my mom assured me no one would roll their eyes at it. We had pages, each with a letter written on it, and then supplied markers and crayons for everyone to make their own page of an alphabet book for my future niece! The drawings turn out pretty hysterical and odd, which is just what we were looking for. At least Baby Girl M will know one thing... what her mama's friends may lack in drawing skills, they make up for with creativity and enthusiasm.

Love you, Sister, and can't wait to meet that little puddin' soon. I am going to dress her in baby jeggings and teach her how to terrorize you :)

Also, here's a beautiful post my mom wrote about becoming a grandmother.

chalkboard paint & spice jars

Almost a year ago actually, I finally got around to painting little rectangles of chalkboard paint onto my spice jars. Sometime last fall I was refreshing our wedding countdown chalkboard and decided to paint our spice jars too. There was no real purpose. They were already labeled. I just like looking at them with their chalkboard surface and sloppy cursive handwriting. Only about half of our spices are in these jars, the rest are shoved in our cabinets in their ugly containers.

I was originally inspired by these posts here and here, way before Pinterest was even a twinkle in anyone's eye. See? Even before Pinterest we were all scouring the internet for cute but not-entirely-important craft projects.

I think I'll slap a few coats of paint on some of my food storage jars too. To throw a wrench in the labeling plans, though, I should note that I just bought a label maker. Yep, those little machines that crank out ugly labels that people use to label their silverware drawer or refrigerator shelves. The great simplify & clean out made me do it. In my defense, the label maker has a lot of fonts and I am also using clear tape instead of white, so I don't think the labels it prints are that aesthetically offensive. Between that and the chalkboard paint, watch out.

related posts:
simplify, september update
simplify & clean out

our local bar

Last year, Chris built us a home bar. A gorgeous, from scratch, lovingly-designed and created mini-bar. I am obsessed with it. It was a labor of love that was constructed in the middle of our tiny living room, in the beautiful park across the street, in the back shop at Chris' work and in his parents' backyard up north. He sketched out several design iterations, settling on this one that fits so perfectly in our apartment but is versatile enough to follow us to wherever our next move brings us.

The bar holds four bottles of wine, two shelves of spirits, four wine glasses and a drawerful of bottle openers, cocktail napkins, coasters and knick-knacks. It's nestled in between our couch and our stereo in our living room.

Chris built the bar so that it houses our mini-fridge. We store extra drinks in there (beer, kombucha, seltzer, mixers) and between the fancy bar and the fridge cover, we are somehow able to pass it off as age-appropriate and, dare I say, classy?

Most of the bar is made from white pine, including the bar top that Chris bought as a natural cut from a nearby lumber yard. He spent a lot of time squaring it off and cleaning it up because, in his words, "it was a freakin' mess." The drawer and side inlays are maple.

There are no screws, nails or brackets of any kind in the bar. Just wood and some wood glue. In fact, the only metal in the bar is on the drawer knob, which he found at a salvage store. Once it was constructed, we (yes, I actually helped a little bit) painted it and stained the trim and bar top.

I can't believe I waited so long to show this off to you! It's been finished for a good six months at least, and every day I look at it and am blown away by it. I wouldn't even know where to start if someone told me to build a bar. I'd probably see if there was some sort of kit I could buy and even then I'd still be completely overwhelmed and clueless. Fortunately I'm with someone who is not only a talented designer, but can actually figure out how to build his designs. Neat-o. There are old-school cocktail parties in our future, for sure.

the lotion & lip balm

I made my own lotion! And lip balm! I was guided completely by Christina, who relied on Jillian's beautiful recipe from the From Scratch Holidays e-book. I don't even have any tips to add because I am such an amateur lotion-maker, so just go read it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I just helplessly watched Christina make the lotion, feebly offering help with whisking and joke-making while sipping on Bailey's. Either way, making lotion is actually pretty fun.

Mmm, that lip balm is so soothing. We added a few drops of peppermint in the lip balm and a few drops of lavender in the lotion.

You'll need to whisk it all into a frenzy. The best part about the lotion recipe that Jillian gives is that is it so easily modified to make lip balm, so in one evening you can make yourself a whole array of body care products. The lotion recipe make about one pint, which is perfect for dividing up and giving away as presents. Or for keeping to yourself.

I use mine every morning and it is particularly wonderful for the elbows and other dry spots. It goes on a little greasy and then absorbs in so nicely. By making your own lotion, you can just skip the typical routine of spreading weird chemicals and preservatives all over your skin to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Which, I think, is a nice routine to skip.

Ta da! Aren't you impressed? I certainly was. What other homemade gifts did we give? Well, I've saved the booziest for last... fruit-infused vodka :) We'll talk about that tomorrow, right in time for you to infuse some for the New Year.