Some Link Love

I have a pretty cool brother that often sends me links that he thinks I’d enjoy- and usually, I do.  So I thought I would pass on some of those links (and some that I’ve come across on my own) with you.  Enjoy!

#1: A single mom arrested for letting her 9-year old daughter play outside- this one really made me think.  Where I live it is very common for kids even younger than this to be on their own for the day, especially in summer.  I work at our local pool, so I see this a lot, and I guess I’ve never really thought much of it- it’s good for kids to be outside and play (I also feel that 9 really isn’t that young), and at least they aren’t inside playing video games/watching tv all day.

#2: Two couples sharing one mortgage- again, a really interesting concept.  These two couples (one with a baby on the way) bought a place together and plan to live there together for the long run, including future kids.  Although I definitely find it a bit odd, I also can see how this could potentially work and be a (possibly better) way to raise kids in a loving environment.

#3: About the 19th-century health scare (bicycle-face) that discouraged women from riding their bikes.  Although widely believed to be a real condition, it was actually made up by doctors who didn’t like the freedom the new invention of the bicycle gave females.  In fact, the bicycle is largely credited with empowering women and leading the change in women’s rights.

#4: Little girls are better at designing superheroes than you- shows the imagination and spunk of little girls that could inspire new superheroes.

#5: Catskill Made- a really cool shop, located in the Catskill Mountains (near my hometown, which is in the foot of the Catskills).  I really like a lot of the items they sell, and they also seem like pretty cool people.

#6: Brazil’s billion-dollar gym experiment- this one is really long, but very interesting.  It discusses how Brazil is addressing the need to make gyms and exercise more accessible in the country, particularly to people living in poor, dangerous communities.  One point I found particularly interesting is that the creation of these outdoor gym spaces has actually also helped make many communities safer and has decreased crimes.  I’m curious if this will continue to work and whether a similar plan could work in some communities in the US.

My Interests

About a week ago, my brother asked me about what topics I’m interested in.  I ended up coming up with a pretty extensive list.  Many of these things are things that I would love to explore more, and as such, they might end up on here, so I thought I’d share the list.

  • My hometown. You can read more about that here.
  • Renovations.  One of my greatest dreams is to renovate old homes to preserve their charm, but make them nicer.
  • NYC reservoirs and eminent domain. My hometown is nestled between two of New York City’s largest drinking-water reservoirs.  Because of this, our town has been greatly impacted.  I am very passionate about how this affects us.
  • Interior decorating and design. I even considered going to college for this.
  • Small town revivals.  This kind of goes hand-in-hand with my hometown.  So many small rural towns are struggling in today’s world, and I really love seeing towns that are revived.
  • Kitchen design. When I look at my Pinterest boards and such, I realize that the majority of images I pin are of kitchens.  Perhaps because I love baking and cooking, I really love kitchen designs.
  • Printmaking, screen printing, and related arts. I took a printmaking  class last year, and really loved it.
  • Hand lettering and typography. Of all of the arts, this is what I’m most interested in.  The majority of things in my sketchbook are hand-lettered sketches.
  • Human rights. I’m quite passionate about this, especially the freedoms that all humans should have and that we so often take for granted, but also the rights that even in America, are still being fought for.
  • Children living in poverty. As a future teacher, poverty will be one of the biggest hurdles many of my students will face.  I think I want to work in a high-needs district, mostly because these students are the ones who most need good teachers that care, and I think I can fill that role.
  • History.  Particularly how people lived in the past.  My favorite time period is between 1800 and about 1970.  It’s a big span, but I love all of the changes that took place throughout the 1800s and early to mid 1900s.  My favorite genre of books has always been historical fiction and memoirs, mostly because I find the way people have lived so interesting.
  • Back to basics living. I’m not quite willing to give up technology or such, but I really like that many people are returning to their roots and living off of the land and such.  I love that people are beginning to slow down and work hard with their hands and enjoy the little things.  Technology is wonderful, but it also can be dangerous.  It leads us to think that happiness can be found on the internet or in material things, when in reality, joy is found in simple acts.
  • Making artisan breads. I don’t think I’d want to live the life of a baker, but I would love to learn to make artisan breads.  Breads are something I love eating.  I could pretty easily live off of good bread and cheese and butter.  I know how to make my grandpa’s rolls, but would love to learn how to make more breads.
  • Furniture. Especially antique furniture and furniture making.
  • French living. The French are known for a much slower pace of life and so much of what they seem to live by seems like a better alternative to the fast-paced cut-throat American ways.
  • Other cultures.  And with that, travel.  I love learning about the values and customs of various cultures.  There is so much out there that I know so little about, some of which I hope to discover in my travels.
  • Carpentry. My former track coach once mentioned that he thinks that everyone should learn basic carpentry skills.  I agree wholeheartedly.  I am also interested in learning how to build things using wood.
  • Quilting.  I have thus far only made one quilt, but it is a hobby I would like to pursue more.  Quilts are a lot of work, and as such, they are so special.
  • Gardening. My family plants a garden every year, but we aren’t that good at taking care of it.  This is something I would like to change.
  • Berry farms, fruit orchards, and Christmas tree farms. Traditional farming interests me, but these three kinds of farms are the ones I would most like to get into.  I have gone berry picking with my mom and grandpa for as long as I can remember, and I absolutely love berries.  I also love going to apple orchards and would love to learn more about them and other fruit orchards.  And last, but not least, my mom’s dad has owned a Christmas tree farm for many decades.  I’ve helped plant trees, and I love getting our Christmas tree there every year.  My mom and I are looking into the possibility of taking over the farm, probably in the next couple of years.
  • Small stores in small towns. There is something so special about small, privately owned shops, particularly those found in smaller towns.
  • Community planning/design/landscaping. My sister is currently trying to figure out what she wants to go for in college, and this is one of the majors she is considering.  I really think that if I had known this major existed before I decided on teaching, this is what I would have gone for.  It combines everything I love.
  • Old houses and architecture. My dad owns the family real estate business.  Ever since I was little, I have loved driving around, looking at houses.  I am especially drawn to old homes, as they have so much character and history.  In the past year, the two of us have gone on a couple of historical house tours in our area, and I have loved every minute of them.
I know this is a really long list.  But theses are all things that I would like to explore in the near future.  I’d love to hear what you would be most interested in hearing more about.

Bedroom Project: Update and Inspiration

So, I’ve made some progress on my bedroom.  It still has a ways to go, but the biggest part (painting) is done!  I’ve also moved most of the furniture back in and into place, so that’s good too.  At this point, the room looks pretty bland.  There is color on the walls, but nothing is hung yet.  Plus, I haven’t found a headboard yet, and my bed looks pretty pathetic with pillows that blend into the wall color.

I realized I never shared my inspiration pictures with you, and figured it would be good to share that so that you can get a better idea of the look I’m going for (although none of the inspiration is quite how it will look).


via Better Homes and Gardens

I knew I was ready for a change, and I had always loved the look of this bedroom, with the minty walls and yellow bedding.  I knew the color scheme would work with my wood trim because the image has plenty of wood.


via Country Living


via Southern Living

I also loved both of these rooms, which have a very similar wall color.  I was also inspired by the traditional decor in each of these.  I loved the botanical prints and wood tones.


via Better Homes and Gardens

I knew I that I wanted to place my bed in front of the window, as that allows for the best flow and use of space, but was unsure of whether this was a good idea.  Although I have two skylights, I didn’t want to sacrifice light, so I wanted to be sure the window could still let light through.  I found this picture and decided that placing the bed in front of the window would work.  This also reinforced my idea to place the curtains further out so that the window would look like it was the same width as the bed, making the placement a bit less awkward.


via Serena & Lily

When I saw this picture, I knew I definitely wanted to do a gallery wall around the window and above the bed, small dresser, and desk.  Isn’t this gallery just awesome?

And then…


…And then I saw this bedroom in Country Living.  It combines so many of the ideas I was already planning to put into place: an iron bed in front of the window, a similar color (this color, although much darker, is actually from the same paint strip that one of the ceiling colors in my room came from), and a small dresser as a nightstand.  Hopefully I can pull it off as well as this!

I’m really happy with how all of my ideas are working together so far.  I am hoping that the room will be a bit traditional, a bit country, and a bit eclectic, and still be fun and bright.  So far, I am happy with how things are going!

Some More Handmade Christmas Ideas

As promised, I will share some additional handmade Christmas present ideas.  We did a combined Thanksgiving and Christmas celebration with my mom’s side of the family, so I will also share what I gave to my two cousins and grandparents.

I’ll start with the presents I gave to those 4 this year:

1. I made my cousin Iris some fabric coasters.  I’m hoping to make more of these; if I do, I’ll post a tutorial.  They are pretty easy to make and require less than a fat quarter of fabric.  I put some vinyl in the middle of mine so condensation doesn’t go through the fabric.

2. I made my cousin Jacqui two vinyl record bowls- a small one and a larger one.  I used the tutorial found here.  It was quite easy and quick.

3. I made my grandma a potholder.  I simply used a square potholder we had as a guide for the size and shape and quilted the layers together.  I used two fabric layers (one for each side) and three layers of insulated batting (any fewer and the user will get burned- learned that the hard way).  Then you just sew bias tape (I made my own using the same fabric) around the edges.

4. I made my grandpa a mug that said “Poppy”, which is what we call him.  This idea was in my previous Christmas present idea post- the instructions can be found here.

The following are ideas I have found and liked, but haven’t tried.  I therefore cannot tell you how difficult they are.

1. Terrarium.  This might be a good gift for someone who likes plants but has difficulty keeping them alive.  It would also be a good gift for a college student since they are low maintenance and would add a bit of life to a dorm room.

2. Journals with handmade sewn covers.  Find journals (think moleskine or similar notebooks) and sew a cover for them.  Great for anyone, even children. (UPDATE: I made these for my brother, find the tutorial here)

3. Toiletry bag.  Good for most females.  Can adjust the size depending on needs.  I would advise using vinyl or a similar material on the inside.

4. Baked goods.  You could make homemade breads, cookies, muffins, anything really.  It’s a simple gift for pretty much anyone, just make sure the recipient doesn’t have any allergies.

5. Casserole carrier.  This is a good tutorial.  Good for moms, grandmas, and friends.

6. Floor pillows and poufs.  I don’t know how to make these, but I like the idea.

7. Heating packs.  I don’t have a tutorial for this one, but I’m sure you could google and find one.  I’m lazy.  It would be a good gift for the men in your life (especially middle-aged dads and such).

8. Spoon ring.  Here is a good tutorial, and it doesn’t seem too hard.  It’s especially meaningful if you use a family spoon.  Great for most females.

9. Felted wool sweater blanket.  I really like this tutorial.  And design.  Great for anyone- you could even make a smaller one for a baby or toddler.  It looks so cozy and warm.

10. Tea Cup Candle.  I really like the idea of making a candle out of tea cup.  It’s homemade yet simple.  This is the tutorial I like.

Well, that’s all for now.  Hope this helps all those that are hoping to make presents this year.  I know it doesn’t include any tutorials for kid gifts.  I have found that those are easy to find.  I suggest checking out Make It and Love It.

Have a lovely rest of the week, we’re halfway to the weekend!


Handmade Christmas Presents

The past couple of years, I have (attempted, at least) to make homemade Christmas presents for my friends and family members.  I have found that there is a lack of ideas on the internet and even on blogs, so I have been compiling a general list of things that people might like.  Last year, I was fairly successful, so I’d like to share some of the things I made.

1) Monogrammed Canvas Tote Bag.  My Grandma Jeri received a canvas tote bag that I made and monogrammed with the letter ‘J’.  I used a navy blue canvas and just white acrylic paint and a stencil I already had to monogram it.  It was a pretty simple project even though my sewing skills weren’t that wonderful.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

This would be good for most females, whether old or young.  You could make a smaller one for a little girl.  You could also change up the style of a monogram for some males.

2) Clothespin Holder.  I made a clothespin hanger for my other grandma.  I used one we already had to trace and then sewed it using the original as a guide.  It was actually very simple and turned out really nice.  The fabrics were scraps that we had in our fabric drawer for years.  I used a different fabric to line the inside and give it a contrasting pop.

This is a wonderful gift for someone that line-dries their clothes.  It has a hanger so that it can be kept near when hanging clothes up.

3) Cornhole Game with Bags.  For my grandpa on my mom’s side, I made a cornhole game.  I finished the frame by Christmastime but never quite finished it or the bags, so he will be receiving that this year. I used the instructions for here, but used two old pairs of my brother’s jeans (one pair was blue, the other was tan) to make the bags, using the original seam of the pants on one side.

This is a wonderful gift for anyone with a yard.  People of all ages love to play this game.

4) Felt Glasses Holder.  He also received a glasses holder made from felt with an applique of his initials that I cut out of an old sweater of his.  I used this tutorial as guidance, but without the ribbon.  It is basically a piece of fabric with one end that is hemmed, then folded in half and stitched on the two remaining sides, then turned right side out.  This was the second glasses case I have made him; he absolutely loves them.

Perfect for anyone that uses reading glasses (the holder is soft, so it probably wouldn’t work as well for someone that rarely uses their glasses).

5) Pillow Cover.  I made a pillow cover for my brother.  I was surprised at how simple it was to make.  This is a good tutorial.  All you need is a pillow form and some fabric (usually two fat quarters is enough).  My pillow was 14″.

This could work for almost anyone, depending on the fabric used.

6) Crayon Art.  I think I made crayon art for my sister.  I don’t like the look of the crayons after they have been melted, so I taped the crayons to a piece of cardboard and taped that to the canvas, then removed when it was finished.  Be careful of the splattering!

Perfect for a kid’s or teenager’s room.  Can change it up depending on their hobbies and likes and dislikes.

7) Pocket Hanging Organizer.  I made a pocket hanger organizer for my cousin Iris using this tutorial from Make It and Love It.  It’s a really wonderful, detailed tutorial.  Mine only had pockets on one side and they weren’t as deep.  I had never used bias tape or vinyl before and this project was a bit more difficult.  If you are short on time or energy and are a beginner sewer, I would not recommend this, but I was very pleased with the results.

Excellent for most females (whether young or old) to store jewelry or crafting supplies.  Could also make pockets bigger and use for sock/rolled-up tie storage for males.

8) Tied-Fleece Blankets.  I made tied-fleece blankets for several of my friends, using the pre-made kits from JoAnns.  Although they aren’t very cheap, they are a pretty easy present.

Wonderful for anyone!  There are a of different fleece fabrics so you are bound to find one that matches with the recipient’s taste.

9) Monogrammed Mugs and Homemade Fudge.  For two of my friends, I made monogrammed mugs and filled them with homemade fudge.  The tutorial can be found on Design Mom.  These are really simple.  I found cheap mugs at Christmas Tree Shops.

This is also wonderful for anyone.  This is probably the cheapest and easiest item here.  Instead of a monogram, you could also draw an image or write a quote.  Could be filled with homemade granola or homemade honey roasted peanuts instead of fudge if preferred.

10) Handmade Lunch Bag.  I made one of these for my sister’s birthday, not Christmas, but it would work as a Christmas present as well.  It was fairly easy and relatively inexpensive.  I followed the instructions in the book One-Yard Wonders by Patricia Hoskins and Rebecca Yaker.  It was very easy to follow, but a bit time consuming.  I think it probably took me about 6-8 hours total.

Great for anyone who takes their lunch to school or work and who wants a more environmental-friendly lunch bag.  It is insulated, so it can be used with items that need to be kept cold.  It is also washable.

I hope this helps generate ideas for your own loved ones.  I apologize for the lack of photographs to show what I made, but all of my pictures are on my home computer and not on my laptop that I have with me at college.  I plan to share some more ideas in the coming weeks.