Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Drinks and Decorations

Christmas is right around the corner, and I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. I personally plan on making up a batch of hot apple cider for the family, from this wonderful recipe care of Elana's Pantry. I feel like I have to try her Thai Vegetable Soup one of these days as well...

Last year I made egg nog from scratch - it's delicious. There are TONS of recipes online - here is a good place to start.

I also love this Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile from Not Martha. I wish I had known about it sooner - this would be perfect for the corner of our little apartment. Maybe for next year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chii's Sweet Home

My boyfriend has introduced me to the most adorable manga ever... Kanata Konami's "Chii's Sweet Home" describes the world from the point of view of a kitten as it discovers it's new home.

Oh my god, this thing is distilled cuteness. You feel like you are the little kitten figuring out how things work.

You can read it from the beginning here on Manga Fox. WARNING: It is highly addictive!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thomas Barbey Photography

Thomas Barbey "Tourist Trap"

I have recently discovered the amazing work of artist and photographer Thomas Barbey. His photography has such an ethereal feel, and he uses incredible imagery. Most incredible is the fact that they are not photoshopped.

Thomas Barbey "Night...Mare"

Barbey uses film and negatives techniques like double exposure and re-photographing collaged photos to create the final product.
Thomas Barbey "Sunbathing"

The above is my favourite image. Ever since I was little I have always wanted to live underwater. I have seen every version of The Little Mermaid (the Disney version is the only one where she lives in the end... HUGE disappointment for anyone who loves the story...). I think "Sunbathing" captures what, in my mind, it would feel like to live below the waves...

His works can be found on his website here - well worth a long look through!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Super Easy Cat Toy!

If your cat is anything like mine, they love those little mice that rattle and cost abot $1 each. If they're really like my Daphne's, then they'll disappear into some corner or under a bit of furniture just about as soon as you bring them home.

Well, I got so tired of having to bring these home that I decided to make my own out of scraps I had lying around. I was inspired by this post on Design Sponge for an even simpler toy, but I don't think my cat would go for it...

Materials and Tools:
-Scrap Fabric (knit or stretch fabric works best)
-PVC pipe (3/4" diameter)
-thick paper or cardstock
-rice, dried beans, beads or anything else that will rattle
-pipe cutter (or hacksaw)

I used jersey knit fabric left over from an attempt to make t-shirt yarn. I wasn't happy with the way the yarn knit up - I thought it was much too stiff once knit. So I had long strips of yarn about 1.5" wide just waiting for a project.

Step 1:

Cut a 1.5" length of PVC pipe using a hacksaw or pipe cutter if you have one. Tape a piece of thick paper over one end to seal it up.

Step 2:

Add about 10 grains of rice (or beads, or whatever) to the pipe to rattle around, than seal up the other end, Tape it all together really well.

Step 3:

Take a long strip of fabric and tie it around the middle of your pipe/rattle, leaving a "tail" of about 4". Position the tail so that it is hanging out one end and begin wrapping the longer strip of fabric around the pipe/rattle. Keep wrapping the strip of fabric around the pipe until it's completely covered, then cut of the rest.

Step 4:

Cut a strip of fabric about 8" long and tie it around the pipe, holding the loose end that you had wrapped around it in place. Make a knot to look like a pair of ears. Cut off any extra fabric.

Step 5:

Play with your kitty!

You could probably add catnip to these (just wrap it up in the fabric), but my cat doesn't actually really like catnip for some reason...

Here's a great site for other ideas on how to make cat toys. There's even a video for how to make a toy out of your cats own fur...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Gift Wrap

Today's post concludes my tutorials series - I hope someone has found these useful and inspirational. I'm leaving for a winter vacation in a few days, so this blog may get a little quiet for a couple of weeks. I hope everyone has a happy handmade holiday!

Martha Stewart has an idea for wrapping cookies shipped to a loved one this holiday season.

And also for wrapping coins. This would be a great stocking stuffer for anyone like me who is always running out of laundry change...

Here's a simple way to make your own gift bags from newspaper (from How About Orange). I think these would also look nice if you used the paper as a base and covered them with fabric...

Also from How About Orange, some surprisingly lovely bows made from recycled magazines, etc.

Zakka Life has a great tutorial on making decorative knots for gifts from mizuhiki cord, though just about any stiff cording would work.

Martha Stewart, of course, has lots of ideas for making your own gift wrap.

Furoshiki is a japanese art of folding fabric. It is often useful for wrapping gifts in re-usable fabric squares, and I use it myself. This site has tons of versions of fabric gift wrap and other uses for furoshiki. Here's an ehow article on making the fabric wraps - I think 24" square is standard.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Reading and Writing

Today's post is just a quick one with a couple of reading/writing themed tutorials.

I love A Little Hut's stationery set. Using security envelopes for decorative purposes makes me look at the ordinary things around me in a whole new way...

Here's a printable pattern from Keep and Share for book marks that kids can colour and use:

Tomorrow: Gift Wrap Tutorials!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Clothing and Accessories, Part 2

Continuing from yesterday's post, here are some more tutorials for handmade gifts of clothing and accessories.

Here's a cute little Kut Out + Keep tutorial to make a small pouch for a mirror or make-up, etc.

And another for a chained pearl bracelet.

Here's a cute sewn handbag from Little Girl Pearl.

This Anthropologie inspired necklace from Mrs. Priss uses some neat techniques and is quite lovely.

Here are a couple of tutorials for making chandelier earrings: There's a Youtube video, and a Making Beaded Jewelry tutorial.

This “falling water” necklace from Paper 'n' Stitch is also lovely, and has such an organic feel to it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Clothing and Accessories, Part 1

Todays tutorials are all about clothing and accessories. There are so many ideas out there, it's really difficult to choose. I love making jewelry, myself, but handbags and winter accessories are also good choices for the right person.

This Nuno felted scarf from Catherine et les fees looks like a lot of fun to make – and the design ideas are nearly endless! I want to start felting just to try making one of these!

Julie's Blog has a tutorial for some simple and cute felt flower hair clips.

I'm a little wary of heating plastic, but I won't get into the debate. If you're alright with it, then here's a super cute way to recycle normally non-recyclable plastics into cute charms for earrings or necklaces (from Dabbled).

Here's a great tutorial from Until Wednesday Calls on how to make a cute scarf from an old pair of pajamas, though scrap fabric would probably work just as well.

These bangles made from vintage maps are so lovely. I have also seen a version of these where the bracelet itself is made from a slice of an old shampoo bottle, then wrapped in scrap T-shirt fabric, though for the life of me I cannot find the tutorial.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Decor, Part 2

Here's a continuation of yesterday's tutorials for home decor gift ideas. Enjoy!

My sister and I made a whole bunch of these little magnets – they are really easy and super cute. I found an old homemakers encyclopedia, and the images from it were perfect! The tutorial's moved around a bunch, but Not Martha has a really good post on them.

While you're at it, you can also make these button magnets from the Happy Home. We did.

Here's a cute little photo cube from for displaying numerous images of loved ones in a small space.

These paper flowers from Housewife Eclectic are just too beautiful for words! I would love to receive a bouquet of these!

Here's a link to a Spool pattern for a simple sewn decorative bird.

These little patchwork baskets look so handy. I want to make some for my recyclables – then I can take them out to the bin, toss them in, and roll them up to stick in my bag when I head out for work. No mess, they stay open, they won't take up much space, and I won't need to make a special trip to the recycling bin.

Here's a simple but delightful paper and twig centerpiece for entertaining from How About Orange.

This is a really cute idea from Sandy's Space for organizing ribbon.

And some lovely kitchen decals from Just Something I Made.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Decor, Part 1

Many of the tutorials I received were for home decor items, so this will be a two-part post - the rest will be posted tomorrow!

Here's a tutorial for some pretty candles from Martha Stewart.

Here's a tutorial for a gift recipe tin, also from Martha Stewart.

Just Something I Made has an adorable tutorial for cute decorative houses and all sorts of ideas for using them. I love the idea to use them as stamp dispensers. Very useful to us swappers...

The Little House by the Sea has a pattern and tutorial for such cute little felt mushrooms!

My Little Mochi has a great tutorial for making little bowls that snap together when you need them, and lie flat when you don't. Great for people (like me) who don't have much space.

I don't know about you, but party crackers are always present during the holidays at my boyfriend's family's home. Here's a tutorial for making them from Not Martha.

Or, here's an idea for making gifts out of egg shells.

Here's another cute use for eggs as vases from Design Sponge (one of my new favourite sites – I can't stay away!).

Here's a pattern for some lovely little paper flowers from Folding Trees.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Bath and Beauty

Who doesn't love to pamper themselves with a nice long soak in the tub? It's the perfect way to relieve holiday shopping stress here is a set of tutorials for making body-pampering gifts for those in your life who love to/could use to slow down and take some me-time.

I love making bath products, and here is a series of tutorials from Martha Stewart on how to make some of my favourites. Bath fizzies are always well received, and are pretty simple:

Body Scrub
Bath Salts - a simple variation on the bath salts is to mix your salts, then open up a peppermint tea bag and mix in the dried mint leaves for a peppermint soak. This is a great refreshing soak for the feet after a long day of work.
Lip Balm - add a few drops of Vitamin E and lavender for a healing lip balm, or peppermint for refreshing balm.
Bath Fizzies

Life With Monkey has a great tutorial for sewing your own hair curlers. This is genius!