Friday, February 28, 2014

Christmas (Or: When I Didn't Hate Winter)

Since Pittsburgh is due for a big snow storm this weekend, I thought it was a good time to reflect on my Christmas. It was a happy time when winter was new and snow felt appropriate. Let's go back two months together. (cue time machine noises)

There it is! Your first sneak-peak at our moved-into apartment. So festive!! We had plenty of room for our giant tree in the living room this year. Of course, we've since bought a big, beautiful sofa. So next year's decorating might require a bit more creativity.

One of my proudest finds this year was the stocking hooks. They're engraved with holly berries, and coated in brass, and they don't hurt our new hutch! Also, check out our vacation souvenir from Jamestowne on the tree. I hung it in a prominent place. Maybe we can make a tradition of finding a new ornament every year from someplace nifty. (Credit: Ornaments as souvenirs is an idea I got from my mom.)

I made Shane sit on the floor to open presents. This was a moment of whimsy on my part. It made me feel more Christmas-y some how. He gave me a coffee grinder (which is really for both of us). No more suffering through pre-ground beans!

I got him a watch a whole year ago on Kickstarter. Which means, of course, it still hasn't been shipped to us. Sigh... So to tide him over, I got him two books (which are really for both of us) and a journal. The man loves him some words; 'tell you what.

We opened a few other gifts from family. Then we called said family on the phone while we walked to the nearby Indian restaurant. When we got home, we played Upwords. It was a perfect way for our little family of two to celebrate.

I had the following week off. So I took advantage of the extra time to make a big traditional holiday meal. Shane gets all of the credit for the turkey. We also had Norwegian lefse (potato bread) courtesy of my parents!

I have saved the best part of our story for last. I decided not to take the time to make the topper I had planed for our tree this year. It was pretty without it, even if it did have something missing. Lucky for me, Shane's brother Avery came to the rescue! The wrapping might give you a clue if you're nerdy like me.

That's his gift to us from last year in the background of the second picture. So what's inside? Only the scariest tree topper ever! DON'T BLINK!

(Explanation: It's a weeping angel, which is an evil alien from the Doctor Who TV show.)

Thank you, Avery, for making our Christmas complete!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bit by the Embroidery Bug

Last year, I decided to make a few of my Christmas presents. Most of my original ideas were scrapped in the end. (Everyone I know may get DIY coasters from me someday. They're still half-finished in a box under my bed.) But one project stuck: embroidery.

About ten years ago, my mom decided to sew embellishments on plain dish towels for her mom, and she asked me to help. I haphazardly completed one or two, and forgot about it. When I was looking for DIY ideas for Christmas 2012, it all came back to me; especially how happy Grandma was about those towels. I figured after all that time she could probably use some new ones! So I bought a bunch of flour-sack dish towels (her favorite), a value pack of embroidery thread, and a hoop. Et VoilĂ !

Towels for Grandma

To my surprise, when I was done with the towels I still felt like sewing. I was officially hooked. I bought a few more supplies (like embroidery-specific needles and a threader... who knew?) and thought up some more ambitious projects.

Black-work (in bright colors) for Beth
(Pattern from Mr X Stitch)

Since those worked out, I just kept going! This one was completed on the train to Grandma and Grandpa's for Thanksgiving.

For my sister (Pattern from Urban Threads)

As is typical for people my age, a lot of my friends are having babies. What did I decide to give them for a welcoming gift? Embroidery!

(doggie pattern from The Baby Gardner)
(sloth mama pattern from Wild Olive)

It snowballed quickly, and practically every gift I gave last year was something I made or embellished with a needle and thread.

Going away gift (pattern from Wild Olive)
...Not bad for my first ever attempt at French knots.

Wedding gifts
(design on the right adapted from a Scout Creative poster)

Moving out gifts for the housemates; (top two are tote bags)
(patterns from Urban Threads: Sheep, Rex, & Nom)

I have learned a ton about the craft in this short time. There is a lot more to learn too.  It's a great way to decompress, and be productive at the same time. My go-to phrase to describe how it feels is "like coloring for grown-ups". I'm excited to share more of these projects with you too. For instance, this year I made all of my Christmas gifts! But that's another post.