Dec 23, 2010

Better than Bows: Cupcake Paper Gift Toppers

So, I was up until 2 am last night wrapping gifts, when inspiration struck to stick cupcake papers all over each present. This sounds ugly in theory, but the result (above) ended up looking lovely. I used these old holly-covered cupcake wrappers that I bought on super-sale after the holidays last year (the original idea was to use them FOR cupcakes, but then it occurred to me that it doesn't seem right to use holly-print things beyond Christmas).

What you do is: Cover the area of the gift you want to decorate with double-stick tape. Then, take a wrapper, bunch it up at the bottom and stick it to the tape. Keep doing this until you end up with the giftwrap equivalent of a glamorous boa. Ta-da!


Dec 22, 2010

Holiday Messes...

In the middle of organizing gifts, sending out packages, wrapping presents, finding the ornaments, finding my tree (a lovely little white faux tree that is only just now going up today!), fulfilling apron orders, ordering even more gifts for people I forgot, working on articles (on-deadline!), working ahead on articles, planning menus for parties and somewhere, somehow, sleeping, the above mess happened in my studio.

I'm totally into the holiday spirit and all, but I always have trouble keeping things neat and tidy during this time of year. I thought I was alone in this, some sort of yuletide failure, and got tremendously hard on myself...and then I read Pip's inspiring post on how she has the same trouble during the holidays. If Pip, blogging and crafting superstar has trouble keeping her sanity during Christmastime, then I can give myself permission to let myself go a little bit to the messier side of life, albeit temporarily. Everything will be okay, I keep saying...

P.s. That ghostly halo in the corner isn't a spirit, but the light from my laptop. I used my new smartphone, which has the unfortunate tendency to make me feel not-so-smart, to take the photo.

Dec 14, 2010

Christmas Favor Idea: Tiny House Boxes

Even though these town house gift boxes (from Martha Stewart, of course) are too charming for words, I will attempt to write about them anyway. The illustration-inspired containers are meant for cookies and such, but with a ribbon they also are keepsake ornaments. The free template is pre-illustrated, but if you'd like to do custom, just trace the box parts onto cardstock and take it from there. I was seriously thinking of doing this with houses inspired from my illustrations, but then discovered that I have absolutely no time during this pre-holiday crunch. Between making aprons for orders, doing the whole "email everyone before they go on vacation" thing and trying to wrap up my gifts, I think I'm getting all of five minutes' sleep each night. It'll be worth it, I keep telling myself...

Hang in there!

Image via Martha Stewart

Dec 9, 2010

Coveted: Handmade Batik Pillow Covers

I would say "How fabulous are these batik pillows from my etsy friend SisterBatik?" but that would be a completely rhetorical question--and not because you can't answer me. (Well, I guess you can via comments...but you get the point!) Because they're clearly individual works of art, for only $20 a piece. They're completely handmade, from each unique print to each individual stitch. Sigh. You can find them here.

Image via

Dec 7, 2010

Peek inside the new WSJ Magazine

When Domino magazine went away, it was a pretty big deal over in Magazineland (did you know I work there? Because I do. It's right near "PublishingIsDyingVille" and south of "PanicOpolis"). It was one of the earliest casualties of the shelter magazine folding epidemic of 2007-09. Admittedly, I had a soft spot for them since they kindly featured my old blog on their website, way back when. In 2006. Which makes me feel Internet Old. But because of that mention, I got to have a career in magazine writing, and for that I'm endlessly thankful.

I've since kept all of my issues, which I carefully read and sigh over.

But luckily, Deborah Needleman found a fabulous job as editor-in-chief at the new WSJ magazine. Above is a peek into the decor spread, a tour of Roxy Music front man Bryan Ferry's home. As you can expect, it's got that artsy-chic mix-and-match look that few can pull off. Like the above image of a paint-splattered chair, a gift to Ferry made by (and from) Rolf Sachs. If I had this in my home, my apartment would take on a Hoarders-like feel. In his house, with this looks artsy and fabulous.

Anyway, go look at WSJ and enjoy!


Dec 4, 2010

Behind the scenes of an etsy photo shoot...

I was trying to photograph a few milkglass items for my etsy shop when a certain cat named Cookie decided to jump into the frame. (She's not for sale, guys!)

But you can see my little set-up that I use for photographing for etsy. I use a small table that I've layered with 2 fabrics--a heavy white canvas, then a sheer polyester-ish fabric (it's really dress lining material). Why two? The white canvas nicely smoothes the surface, then adds brightness to the sheer top layer, enhancing the blue hue. Next, I iron the fabrics on the table. Sometimes I will leave a crease in to help me position/align objects (these always get cropped out, of course).

The table is placed by a south-facing bay window that I have in my kitchen. It's a shame because all the fancy architecture in my house--1920's molding, a marble fireplace, a huge front window with plantation shutters--is in the North-facing front side. Since I live in a brownstone on a narrow street, facing other brownstones, this room is in a perpetual Cavern of Darkness. Like the Motel 6 ad slogan, I always have to leave a light on in that room.

Anyway, the only time I get crisp sunlight in the kitchen right now is between the hours of 2pm and maybe 3:30. This leads to me running around the apartment like a madwoman, muttering to myself about how I'm about to lose the daylight. That said, I always keep my props close by and do really simple vignettes like the one above, with vintage books.

All that, and then a cat jumps into the frame.

Dec 2, 2010

Another freebie: Desktop Wallpaper

It's a wallpaper and a desktop, featured by my Etsy friend Shrimp Salad Circus and designed by Katie of LemonJitters...and it's available to download for free here. Enjoy!

Free downloadable gift tags

Etsy friend Irina posted these vintage-cute gift tags, free for you to download here. Enjoy!

Dec 1, 2010

New shop update

It's always hard to part with things, but hopefully these vintage entertaining must-haves will find a happy home this holiday! From top: Vintage So Good Meals Cookbook, Southern Belles Cooler Glasses, and a Vintage Milk Glass Vase.

Nov 30, 2010

DIY Gift Bags

Okay, okay, I know these adorable DIY gift boxes were originally intended for Father's Day...but they would be so much fun to use for the holidays! There's a template involved so you can make it completely custom...but I think you could also make these from a store-bought gift bag, right? Just cut off the handle, snip a "V" shape into the top on either side and fold over to create the shirt part. Then add a bowtie. Ta-da!

Found via PaperCrave

Nov 29, 2010

Cute winter craft: Felt pinecones!

I found this pretty little project in the pages of Family Circle's December issue. I originally wasn't going to post it, because I thought that each individual bract was cut out--way too time consuming! But actually, the pinecone is made from little felt flowers, threaded onto a cut skewer. So much easier than I thought! I love the aqua/brown combo...Instructions (and template) are here.

Image via Family Circle

Nov 28, 2010

Wonder Woman-Inspired Apron Take 2

I forgot to show you this new version of my popular Wonder Woman-inspired apron, when I added to my Etsy shop. This one was actually the first version I designed, before I got carried away with sassy sweetheart necklines (which I still love, by the way). This one has more of a traditional baker's apron look, and quite frankly, looks alot like a dress when it's on. And it can be yours for $26. Hope you like!


Nov 24, 2010

A new twist on leaf votives

I had an idea to do a few votive candle cups wrapped in pretty autumn leaves (like this idea from Better Homes & Gardens, via CasaSugar) for my Thanksgiving table, but a glance outside tells me that I missed the boat on that whole "pretty autumn leaves" thing. The trees have nothing to offer up by pathetic little wisps of what used to be leaves. So, I pretty much forgot about that idea...until I saw this neat take on candle and leaf centerpieces, from Sunset Magazine. Though they used skeleton leaves (available here), I could see this working with the "exhausted" leaves that are currently available from the aforementioned trees.

Now, how to get them to stand up? You could secure each leaf to a skewer using a tiny bit of tape, then insert into a piece of Styrofoam. But then you'd have a big hunk of Styrofoam on your table. To cover that up, you can either paint it and cover the exposed sides with ribbon. Or, you can cover the foam (before you insert the leaves with something else), like artificial moss.

Image via Sunset Magazine

Nov 16, 2010

Inspiration: Cozy Rustic Kitchen

It's been raining for about two days straight now. Actually, raining isn't the right word...It's more like a dreary blanket of mist that envelopes everything, yet magically lifts at night, only to return right when I wake up. But anyway, this sort of weather has me longing to be curled up in a cozy kitchen, like the one above from Coastal Living. I usually don't go for a strong rustic look, but what I like here is the way the architects gave the kitchen island re-interpreted cabriole legs, painted white. It offers a jolt of modern style that lightens up the entire room. And it would be so easy to adapt this look to your home--just paint the legs of a table in a contrasting color. I'd even do it to a pedestal table, like Ikea's Liatorp model.

Image via Coastal Living

Nov 10, 2010

How to fix up a paper lantern lamp

This is such a great idea, courtesy of the lovely gals at Hambly Screenprints. They have the most adorable online shop filled with designer papers, overlays and other pretty little things. Here, they used a bunch of overlays to customize one of those ubiquitous Ikea paper lantern lamps. Just cut each sheet (I could imagine using tissue or any other sheer paper) to fit each side of the lamp, using glue dots to attach. More complete directions are here.

Image via the Hambly Screenprints Blog

Nov 9, 2010

For your Thanksgiving table: Leaf Placemats

Watching Martha Stewart's show always makes me feel a bit nervous (I think it's because of the newish format, with her trying to "learn" crafts from bloggers, or teach stars how to craft, too much tension there!) but occasionally she has a really simple idea that wins me over. Like these free-form leaf placemats. She simply cuts them from ultrasuede, which won't fray on you (so you won't have to fuss with hemming), but I'd use felt instead. It's also no-fray and much cheaper, so I wouldn't feel as bad throwing them out if they get stained. Expanded directions are here.

Image via Martha Stewart

Nov 8, 2010

Meet Miss November: The Apron

Here's the newest apron available in my etsy shop, which is from my Women of the Year line. Each month brings a new color combination along with a hand-embroidered award ribbon brooch. This month, of course, is Miss November! The design is handmade in chocolate and white broadcloth, accented with a gold silk ribbon sash. Each apron also comes with a surprise vintage cocktail recipe.

Nov 4, 2010

DIY Lattice Wall

Do you remember that lattice wall craze that had a moment in the early 90's? I distinctly remember this on the only two home shows that were on back then, the Christopher Lowell show and the Lynette Jennings show. The backing wall would almost always be painted hunter green and the lattice would be either left natural (if wood) or painted white (or they'd use that plastic version). Extra decor points would be added for an...artful...flourish of fake ivy at the end. Ooh, or stenciled ivy somewhere, that was also pretty big.

But anyway, here's a way, way more modern take on the lattice wall treatment, courtesy of Real Living magazine. (It's an Australian publication that looks a bit like Domino and has tons of ideas.) Here's the DIY instructions. It looks so nice when you paint the wall and lattice the same color, don't you think?

Despite all appearances, it's pretty easy to do. You'd just need a buddy to hold the thing up while you screw it into your wall, but everything else can be cut to your specifications at the Home Depot or whatever home center you frequent. I'd love to see this in an entryway--mostly because it would dramatically increase the storage space in that dump-and-go zone.

Photo via Real Living magazine's MSN page.

Nov 3, 2010

How to use pumpkins past Halloween

Found while I was searching for more ribbon crafts (I have way too many spools lying around my work area and need something to do with them, they're too pretty to throw out, but of course they take up much-needed space), this cute centerpiece idea from Good Housekeeping.

Some people get a little narrow-minded about pumpkins and completely associate them with Halloween. But come on, nothing says autumn like cute little pumpkins! These ribbon-trimmed pumpkins would be perfect right now and into Thanksgiving.

Image via Good Housekeeping.

Nov 2, 2010

Election Day Rosettes

I get unusually excited about performing my civic duty during November elections and end up lining up at the polls before they open. (Not easy for someone who usually has to be bribed with baked goods to wake up at daybreak.) And yes, I do decorate for the occasion if I have people over to watch the results. I mostly enjoy being able to use the red/white/blue colors during Autumn, which allows me to forget the dreary winter that is looming. These retro rosettes, via the Paper Source blog, would be perfect for this evening's festivities. They'd be nice hanging in a window, cinched around napkins or attached directly to the wall (as if you were hanging plates, if that makes any sense). Directions are here.

Image from Paper Source blog

Oct 28, 2010

Fab Organizing Solution: Pegboard

I've always been a huge fan of pegboard. We've used it quite possibly in every room of the house as part of our organizing features at the magazine. But personally, I'm the type of organizer who likes to see everything (which, I guess, doesn't sound like organizing at all, I admit!) in front of me, so pegboard fits the bill. You can hang pretty much anything on it, and once given a coat of paint it doesn't look so office-y.

So anyway, I found a new twist on the standard pegboard set-up on CraftStylish. Instead of inserting hooks into the holes, they thread ribbon through using a thick needle. Then, you simply clip up anything you want using clothespins. Though this particular project is used to organize wedding plans, you could use this easily for inspiration boards, bits of ribbon, invitations/pretty cards/not-so-pretty bills, etc.

Image via CraftStylish.

Oct 27, 2010

DIY Sweet (ha-ha) Candy Dishes

These generously-sized candy dishes featured on CraftStylish make perfect little favors. (Not to mention another good way to use up scrap fabric.) I'd do these in a rustic linen with a velvety orange ribbon tie for Halloween/autumn parties. It's very easy--just snip fabric, apply fabric stiffener and wait for it to dry. The name tag picks are made from paper, glue and skewers. Directions are here.

P.s. The creator of this craft is none other than Diane Gilleland of the fab CraftyPod podcast, a must-listen for crafty business owners.

Image via CraftStylish.

What's in your workspace?

For me, it'll soon be one of these, hung on my cubicle wall. Via Penelope Waits' shop on etsy. Otherwise, my work zone is relatively cluttered with work-type things and books, with the odd vintage Asbury Park postcard to add color and cheer.

Image via Penelope Waits' shop.

Oct 26, 2010

New in my store...

Two new prints are up in my etsy shop. Each print, depicting an old-timey scene of (left) a row of brownstone-era buildings or (right) New York's Washington Square Arch, is pre-framed in a 5 x 7 black frame for your convenience. I originally rendered each in Prismacolor markers in a style vaguely related to M. Sasek. At $10 each, there is no absolutely excuse for that bare spot on your desk.


Wedding flowers for an autumn bride

Here are a few arrangements that I did with my (business-y) partner in crime, the lovely stylist Shana Ecker, in conjunction with the fabulous Twigs & Buds floral design. Above, bridesmaids bouquets in a plum and pink color palette accented with peacock feathers, then below, a tall table arrangement featuring lilies and orchids.

The surprising part: The bridesmaid bouquets were super-easy. I know they look fancy, but really they just used a hydrangea as a flower frog for the other blooms. Its naturally full, round, bloom-packed head eliminates the need for lots of filler, and it also serves to guide your arrangement (keeping things in a pleasing round shape). Keep that in mind the next time you work with hydrangea!

Photos via Heather Johnson photography. (She's also handy with the flowers!)

More fabric flowers!

I think that the impending winter/bare tree season is causing me to gravitate more and more towards flower crafts. Such as: These light and airy fabric flowers, as seen on the 100 Layer Cake blog. I'd love to make them, though the step-by-step looks a bit involved, so to speak. You basically cut lots and lots of petals, then stitch them together, which is do-able--however, the reason the filmy fabrics can stand up so well is with careful structural stitching. So really, "involved" wasn't the right word. You'd just need some time and patience. (If only they sold that at etsy!) Directions are here.

I'd use these to decorate sofa pillows, perhaps string some together like a garland, add them to a chandelier, or treat them like regular flowers and create a centerpiece arrangement.

Image via 100 Layer Cake

Oct 25, 2010

Cute Halloween Craft: Hanging Ghosts

Spotted in Country Living magazine. These sweet-not-spooky ghosts strike just the right note for a grown-up Halloween the one I'm having this weekend. Directions, which are easier than you think (it's just like grade school papier-mache crafts), are here.

Image via Country Living.

P.s. Regarding my Halloween party: This weekend I picked up a bottle of a garishly-colored Pumpkin Spice Liqueur, because I got sucked into a sale. Unfortunately, the bright orange color should have been my tip-off: It's really boozy corn syrup with the tiniest hint of spice flavor. I have no idea how to rescue it, except by throwing it down the garbage chute (but if I figure out another way, I'll let you know). Lesson: Don't cheap out on liqueurs. The end.

Fancy Ribbon Coasters

I absolutely adore these DIY coasters, made by coiling curling ribbon. (That skinny stuff that always shreds on me whenever I try to curl it.) It might take tons of patience, but the results are very special-looking. They'd look fabulous in black and white, don't you think? Directions are here.

Image via Chica and Jo

Oct 22, 2010

Easy Halloween Ribbon Wreath

This fab ribbon wreath, found on The Long Thread blog, is so so easy--just tie lengths of black grosgrain ribbon around a wreath form. Of course it's great for Halloween, but how nice would it look against a pale gray wall anytime of the year?

Instructions are here.

Image via The Long Thread

My next project...Customized Porcelain Plates

Idea found via Going Home to Roost.

I collect porcelain plates (especially vintage) like it's my last day on earth. How bad is my hoarding? Let's just say that if I ever needed to host a dinner party for 80, I would be covered.

But I found a good way to put some to use as art pieces, by using porcelain paint pens (which you can find here.) You really just write or draw onto the porcelain using the marker, then bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Ta-da! Customized porcelain plates.

Image from Going Home to Roost.

Crafty Collar Necklaces

Cotton Collar
by Aussie brand Hand Hook Yarn...found, of course, while searching for something completely different. A cool idea for all you crochetistas out there.

Image via Hand Hook Yarn

Oct 20, 2010

Found while searching: A splash of entryway color

Found via LivingEtc magazine, while searching for something completely unrelated. (Isn't that how it always happens?) Love the alternating green colors on the balusters. Now, if only I had an entryway to call my own...


P.s. If you follow that link, what's with the MS Paint-looking intro on the video? ;-)

Image via LivingEtc

Easy Halloween Centerpiece: A Witch's Cauldron

Courtesy of the lovely Calli at Make It Do comes a fun little Halloween party idea...basically, you take a wreath base, pile orange string lights in the middle, top with orange/yellow tissue paper, and prop a drink basin on top of it. Dry ice in the middle is optional...I probably wouldn't go with it only because I'm a little bit afraid of dry ice. Here's the DIY instructions. I might use this to serve drinks out of for my upcoming Halloween party!


Image via Make It Do.

Book love: Allure by Diana Vreeland

Some pretty images to get you through the day, courtesy of the reissued version of Allure by Diana Vreeland. I remember when it was previously published, it was a super-huge tome that ate up coffee table space, but this version is a chic, smaller-format red book...and it has a well-written forward written by Marc Jacobs. What I really like about the book is the selection of photos coupled with Vreeland's memories of each subject--it takes icons like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn and renders them human. They seem like real people, as cliche as that sounds. I always keep it close by for a little bit of escapism into a much more glamorous world.

Anyway, you can get your own copy of the book at Chronicle Books.


Oct 19, 2010

So impressed: Target's Merona Line

Target's Merona line (which was redesigned in a more fashion-forward, Kate Spade-ish direction about a year ago) consistently impresses me for knocking out really high-quality dresses for insane prices. I buy a ton of them, especially during the Fall/Winter months, and no one ever thinks they are from Target. Like, I have to physically show them the label before they believe me. See above, Merona's $40 Skylar Jacquard dress, which frustratingly sold out at my local Target in blink. How fabulous would it look styled with high black leather gloves, or a bunch of stacked cuffs?


Favorite Source: Nonpareil Magazine

I know that it's for brides and wedding folk, but one of my favorite sources for crafty/entertaining stories is Nonpareil magazine. It's completely online and features all sorts of easy-ish projects (and there's printable downloads on its site!) along with table-setting ideas. The above photo is the cover of their current issue (#6). I was thinking of using some scraps leftover from my aprons to make the little's pretty easy, just taking a strip of fabric, sewing a running stitch, pulling and then pinning to a Styrofoam do a little autumn centerpiece. (It's especially convenient since I'm working on a few aprons in an autumn color palette of orange, tan and gold.)

Go read it now!


Photo from Nonpareil magazine:

Oct 14, 2010

Now on sale: The Wonder Woman Apron

Introducing the first piece in my glamorous apron collection, a Wonder Woman-inspired apron design that's perfect for Halloween or anytime you need to feel a bit more super. Made to order. It's $26 in my Etsy shop.

Oct 13, 2010

Preview: Kohl's 2011 Spring Collection Highlights

Today I went to the Kohl's Spring Collection Preview, where they put out all the lovely things that make you immediately want to transport yourself 6 months into the future. There were sundresses and lightweight tops galore, along with bright and cheerful home things, but here are some of the highlights....

This leopard trench from Dana Buchman was my favorite piece, because I'm drawn to leopard in the most tasteful way possible. And trenches, even though there are about 5 days each year where the weather is just right for wearing a trench coat.

A TON of editors took a photo of this jacket, from the Candie's collection, after I moved it from the sweaters it was hiding behind. So, I think it is pretty safe that the moto jacket trend will stay strong for the next few months.

And here's my favorite bit of the Spring home collection, featuring almost Vera Neumann-inspired florals. Love that tablecloth.


Oct 10, 2010

Back to school...

...decorating school, that is. Tomorrow evening is Jill Vegas's "School of Speed Decorating", where she'll reveal her secrets to making your living room only look as if it's been made over by a decorator. And yours truly gets to be a VIP guest. Above, is an example of an "after" that Jill did for a client.

She calls it the "bombshell bookcase" and she treats it like a focal point in a room. Overall, it'll take a weekend to do (depending on how big your bookcase is, for those who live in dollhouse-sized studios, ahem, it should be less time). Here are her tips, with some of my notes:

- Remove everything you don't need. I mean, I hold on to textbooks I had in college, which should probably go. Be ruthless and get a friend, so you can avoid justifying why you need that copy of "Chairs Throughout The Ages, 1600-1750".
- Put the books back, but vary the stacks. You should do some vertical stacks, some horizontal. I usually do the coffee-table and oversized books in vertical stacks.
- Add a FEW vases, seashells, decorative items, framed photos. Not too many, or you'll be back to square one with a mess. I usually put framed photos/decorative items on top of the vertically stacked books.
- Install spotlights or add string rope lighting, to lighten up the shelves. I like this tip, but I haven't put it in practice. That's because my shelves aren't roomy enough. But it looks very nice, as you can see above, when you are able to do it.
- Extra credit: If you can, after taking out all the books, either paint the back panel with high-gloss paint, or back it with nice wallpaper.

Anyway, class is tomorrow evening, October 11th, at Knoll Furniture, 79 Ninth Ave, 11th Floor. For more info, visit Jill's site here:

I'll take plenty of photos and let you know how it goes!