Sunday, December 8, 2013
Want to know what's awesome about the suburbs? Having a basement. Know why having a basement is awesome? Because I can indefinitely store things like these giant, round balloons from the duckling's first birthday party and turn them into ornaments two and a half years later using other random supplies from the scary hoarding nightmare that is our basement.
The duckling has been really into projects recently (I guess the ornament doesn't fall far from the Christmas tree), and as I started thinking about our holiday guide back in November, the idea for these big beauties came to me. I think they'd be perfect for a holiday party or for a holiday card photo shoot with your kids. Maybe they'll even make it into this year's annual Christmas video.
The instructions couldn't be easier, employing standard silver baking cups from the grocery store, leftover balloons (you can pick up similar ones here), and some red and white baker's twine I had sitting around in my basement. The duckling was given creative control over the decorations for the ornaments, very quickly settling on my favorite color, glitter. You can forego the glitter dots if desired, but I've included them in the instructions below since, for me, saying no to glitter is like saying no to guacamole.
What You'll Need:
- assorted balloons (I used oversized, but regular balloons would work, too by inflating them 2/3 of the way to keep them as round as possible)
- silver baking cups
- baker's twine or string
- glue (I used Mod Podge)
- brush (I used a round foam stipling brush to make quick work of the polka dots)
What You'll Do:
1. blow up your balloons and tie off the ends.
2. using your brush, paint a little glue on your balloon, being sure not to use too much to avoid a mess.
3. Place a small pile of glitter on a paper plate and dip the glue on the balloon into the glitter. I did one to test and then did multiple glue-then-glitter dots at once.
4. After your glue has dried, cut about an 8" piece of twine to make the loop on the end.
5. Poke a small hole in the center of your baking cup and thread your string through. I tied a little knot to keep the baking cup in place, tight up against the balloon.
That's it! So easy. The hardest part is keeping my not-so-delicate three-year-old from popping them. Fun, right?
Saturday, December 7, 2013
|the birdie, xmas 2012|
Then I became a mom. Twice. And instead of making hand-painted fire trucks and felt play sandwiches, the truth is that I bought my son's last birthday gift on Groupon.
That said, I have whipped up quite a few DIY projects over the years (and will continue to do so, hopefully before Christmas 2018), some of which would make for really great gifts. Below are a few gift and recipient pairings to get your crafting fingers tingly. Feel free to browse all of our past diy projects here.
for your best friend...
Make this magnetic tote bag and then fill it with homemade Scrabble letter magnets, perfect for your friend who is always sending you invitations to play Words With Friends.
for your husband...
Turn our visitor map into a "been there, done that" map / brag board for your husband's pastime of choice, whether it's driving seventeen hours in the snow to see Phish (again) or catching a major league baseball game at every ballfield in the U.S.
for your son...
Whip up some daddy shirt pillows for your little guy's bed (or indoor tent). Have some old favorite (but sadly outgrown) shirts of your son's? Turn them into t-shirt pillows following the same instructions (the only adjustment being that you'll have to hand sew the last side rather than button and un-button). Wouldn't a collection of old baseball jerseys or old superhero t-shirts be so darling?
for the proud grandparents...
I started making homemade family videos on my iPhone a few years ago as a cheap ($4.99 to buy the app) and easy way to compile photos and videos from various smaller trips and outings (I make our annual Christmas video on my laptop. Click here to see last year's). Make a "best of 2013" video right from your phone, including your favorite Instagram photos and videos of your kids (or friends or dogs or cats dressed up like historical figures) to share with the proud grandparents / aunts / uncles, etc.
for your mother-in-law...
Making embossed note cards is a simple and thoughtful way to create handmade gifts for your mother-in-law (or mom or girlfriend). Customize them with initials or stamps reflecting their interests or background, like this cute Texas stamp for your friend from the lonestar state, this Boston terrier stamp for your dog loving aunt or this cute pinata stamp for your party-loving sister, all from Paper Source. They even have the perfect stamp for me.
Have a margarita. Or two.
Friday, December 6, 2013
I firmly believe everyone should have a great cocktail that you can make with your arms tied behind your back (so I guess that means with your teeth).
Y'all know I love wine (and guacamole). I talk about it enough (like here, here and here), but I also make a pretty, pretty, pretty good margarita. It's nothing fancy. I don't muddle herbs or light anything on fire. It's just the perfect, simple, not-too-sweet-and-packs-a-punch margarita. When I drink this I usually end up dancing alone in my kitchen.
Our friend Sheah sent this recipe to us when we first moved to our house in the burbs and were desperately homesick for Brooklyn. Sheah, having worked at two of our favorite restaurants in between tours and gigs with her amazing band Shenandoah and the Night, knew just the thing to dull our pain - tequila. And she was right. It's been over a year since we moved, and although we're no longer pining for Brooklyn (okay, we'll always pine for Brooklyn but we stopped ugly crying about it last December), we are still drinking this tasty cocktail.
Here's the recipe for Shenandoah's margarita (in a pretty little printable I made just for you):
I've been known in a pinch to substitute one ounce of agave nectar for the simple syrup if I don't have any on hand (although it's super easy to make and store. Click here for instructions). This recipe makes two margaritas, one for you and one for me.
Actually, today it's 'one for each of the 100+ people in my office and one for me' day, because I'm driving the office bar cart today, and I'm making (cue the mariachi band) margaritas. I'll have these little 4x6 recipe cards below on hand for anyone who's interested (that means you, too! Simply right-click and save on a PC or drag and drop to your desktop on a mac if you'd like to keep a copy on hand for your home barkeeping adventures). I also may or may not be wearing a mini sombrero.
For party portions, here are the quantities to make a gallon, which is 17 margaritas:
34 ounces (a liter) of tequila
25 ounces of lime juice
17 ounces of simple syrup
17 ounces of grapefruit juice
17 ounces of orange curacao
You can also round the last four ingredients down by an ounce each to make even cups (three cups lime juice, and two cups each of the simple syrup, grapefruit juice and orange curacao).
Thursday, December 5, 2013
|photo from here|
As an advocate for green makeup and skin care products, Katey is now the spokesperson for Burt's Bees and has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, InStyle and Nylon. If that's not enough, her workday involves some of the most talented women around - Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Olivia Munn, Christy Turlington, Selena Gomez, Susan Sarandon and on and on.
Katey recently posted a guide to applying the perfect red lip color on her blog, The Beauty Of It Is, which I've put to the test and photographed step-by-step for you all just in time for holiday party selfies in front of my party fringe wall backdrop.
1. Exfoliate your lips, ideally post-shower using a toothbrush, soft washcloth or makeup wipe, going in gentle circles. To quote Katey, "never harder than you would scrub an overripe tomato".
2. Use a lip liner if your color tends to bleed or fade (essential for us lip lickers) or if you want a defined edge. Katey suggests Cherry or Brick by MAC. Ps - oh, hi, Manhattan.
3. Apply your lip color of choice (I love this one, which I'm wearing, and this one).
4. After applying your color, place a q-tip between your lips so that the end touches the front of your teeth and so that the q-tip is parallel to the floor. Pull the q-tip out so that any excess color ends up on the cotton swab and not on your teeth.
5. Pack a touch-up kit. I'm terrible at remembering to check my lip color (which usually is also a good indicator that I'm having fun), so I was delighted to hear that one of my favorite tricks is also a part of Katey's arsenal - packing and using a similar colored, or even clear, gloss for touch-ups.
Check out Katey's blog, The Beauty Of It Is, for some great tips and product recommendations.
What's your favorite lip color? What's your favorite red?
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
It's hard for me to believe it's been ten years since I ugly cried my way through Love Actually. I went to see the movie alone, (which is one of my favorite things to do), not because I didn't have a boyfriend (I was still with this guy at the time) but because he was in Florida, leaving me to go to the deliciously sappy and unapologetic tearjerker by myself in a packed movie theatre on 42nd Street.
I remember sort of having it together until the signs (ugh, the signs!), and then I basically dry-heaved my way through to the closing credits. It literally took me hours to recover, and I'm fairly certain I broke a few capillaries around my eyes.
In honor of this most epic Christmas lovefest, I've put together a Love Actually screening party mood board for you guys. Throw a party. Wear a turtleneck. Sing along to "All I Want for Christmas Is You".
Ps - here's an article profiling men who actually love Love Actually.
Pps - here are ten fun facts you may not have known about the movie.
Ppps - this post is for Leslie, who throws great girl parties and who also loves this movie as much as I do and who also has great hair. Here's proof.
Pppps - if you missed yesterday's post, it was a how-to for installing the garland fringe wall shown in the "___is perfect" photo booth. Find the post here.
Recipes & Photos:
Tom Collins Recipe & photo source here
Lobster Mac n Cheese recipe and photo found here
Bean Dip photo and recipe available here
chocolate biscuit photo and recipe available here
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
If I'm going to be honest, then I can't really call this a holiday fringe wall, because it's been up in my house since November 9th. After two weeks my husband stopped asking about it and decided to accept that there was a prom photo-op just waiting to happen at any moment in the corner of our dining room.
I love this fringe wall for a few reasons:
1. it costs less than $10 to make
2. it can be installed in any corner or open wall in your home
3. you can install it atop existing artwork
4. it makes for a fun photo-op corner at your holiday party #prompose
5. because I installed it behind my granite butler table, it will double as the backdrop for the bar setup I'll put there for holiday parties.
All you need for your fringe wall is fringe garland (which I purchased at Party City and which comes in a handful of colors, including red), scissors and tape. Simply cut pieces to size and tape in even rows across your desired area. Depending on the width of your area, you may need more than one package of fringe, as each one runs about 20'. I made a gif to show the progress (and a mini photo booth session I had with my minis).
I had a little fringe left over, so I ran two pieces along the back of our dining room built-in hutch. The hutch is in pretty rough shape and in desperate need of a facelift, so I think he's happy to have a little zhuzh for the holidays. He's our home's equivalent of that sad Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Poor hutch. I still love you. Maybe 2014 will be your year. Probably not, though. Just being honest.
Monday, December 2, 2013
It's been a while since I posted a hair tutorial, so in the spirit of the holidays I'll be posting a new tutorial each week during my holiday guide, of which today's hair post is #4 of 26. This is actually two looks in one, both versions of a rope twist with one featuring a romantic side-swept low pony and the other being a low updo. The best gift of all is that this tutorial takes less than 10 minutes, works equally well on straight or curly hair as well as on long or midlength hair and is perfect for less-than-clean hair for those days you want to trick people into thinking you showered (which is more often than I'd like to admit).
Here are two photos of the low pony version, which is actually the only low pony I wear. With my chubby cheeks and big hair I can go from 2013 to 1986 really quickly, so anything more structured than this soft and loose rope pony makes me look like I'm auditioning for Saved By The Bell: The Musical (which is a real thing, and which I would only do if I got to play Kelly Kapowski. Hi, Tiff. Love you.)
Here are two photos of the finished updo, the only thing separating it from the pony style being three or four bobby pins. This would also look great with a lovely hair accessory tucked in at the top (here's a past post on holiday hair accessories and coordinating tutorials in case you missed it).
So here are the steps for our two-in-one twisted updo:
What You'll Need:
- two polybands
- a handful of bobby pins (8-12 should do it for the full updo, half for the side pony)
- a little hairspray if you need it
What You'll Do:
1. Part your hair down the side (or middle if you prefer), loosely dividing your hair into two sections. Starting with one section, pick up a small piece by the part in the front. Separate this piece into two strands, twisting both separately toward your face.
2. Take the piece closest to your face and bring it above and over the piece behind it.
3. Now that the back piece is in the front, pick up a piece of hair below where you started, and twist it into the section towards your face (in the same way you would pick up a piece of hair for a french braid).
4. With your now-larger piece twisted, repeat step two, bringing this piece up and over the back piece.
5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 all the way to the bottom and secure with a polyband.
6. Repeat on the other side.
7. For the side pony, take one of your rope braids (I used the smaller of the two, having done a side part), and bring it across the back of your head above your other braid. Then wrap it around and under the braid that will remain loose. Tuck the end of your wrapped braid up and under itself and pin in place.
For the updo, simply pin the remaining braid in the same fashion, going across to the other side and back, pinning as you go and pinning the braid 'tail' up and out of sight.
You can even pin your second rope braid later, opting to wear the pony style during the day and the updo style at night. Options, people, options.
Speaking of options, here are three more rope braid tutorials: the bun, the headband and the heidi braids.
In related news, want our holiday guide delivered to your Facebook feed from now until Christmas Eve? Then click over here to 'like' our Facebook page. I've also been posting the holiday guide to my Instagram if you're more of a "less words, more photos" sort of broad. Again with the options.