Coffee Station Makeover

Since my husband got me a fancy coffee maker for our one year anniversary (a couple months ago) I figured it was time to vamp up my coffee station. It was a little blah before.

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At first when we moved into our rental house I was a little put off by this weird set of drawers with the hideous formica top. It sits right outside the kitchen and next to the fridge (yes, I was also a little put off by the fridge being outside the kitchen, but I’m over it now). But then I realized this (albeit ugly) corner of my house would make the perfect coffee station, and when I got my fabulous new coffee maker (that has the ability to make coffee by itself in the morning!) I realized it was time to turn it from drab to fab. Yep, I said it.

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A few simple tweaks made a world of difference. Some color on the walls, the gleaming word POUR, a removable “counter-top” with pretty a pretty floral fabric beneath and VOILA!

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First let me tell you about my POUR sign. Typographic word signs have been all the rage recently, but I wasn’t about to spend $10 to $20 dollars per letter when I can just as easily make my own. I didn’t have to buy a single supply for this project – I formed the letters out of a recycled pizza box and then papier-mached over them.

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I decided to papier-mâché outside, since I always make a massive mess when doing the job. And of course, the view from my backyard can’t be beat, so it makes for pleasant work.

DSCN6813 DSCN6815After letting words dry for a day or so, I painted over them with gold. After that dried, I mod podged over them with a layer of glitter. I am so pleased with the result!

To attach them to the wall, I simply used thumb tacks.

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My removable counter-top was super easy as well. I actually found this piece of glass right next to the set of drawers (don’t know where it came from, but whatevs) and it is actually a little too long, but that doesn’t bother me too much. I cleaned the glass thoroughly and then cut out fabric to size. I then sprayed the glass with Craft Bond spray adhesive and carefully pressed the fabric onto the glass. Sooooo easy and now I have an easy to clean, colorful counter-top as opposed to the easily stained formica of before.

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I lastly tacked some antique doilies to the wall. Love the effect.

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I hope this inspires you to turn a boring corner of your house into something cheerfully fantastic! Simple touches are what make a house a home, after all.

DIY Christmas Gift Tags

Growing up, I remember my mom always used to buy an assortment of those stock Christmas gift tags for wrapped presents, the kind with grinning snowmen or cheesy holiday salutations (which I absolutely love). Honestly, though, it seemed like about half the time she’d forget to actually put the name of the recipient on the gift. I remember one year my brother Andrew opened three seasons of the TV show The Office and he was sooo excited. But my mom squealed, grabbed the package, and said, “Oh, I’m sorry!” We all looked at her in puzzlement. “That’s for Haleigh.” Boo-yah, best Christmas present ever, stolen from the very fingers of my good ole bro.

This little anecdote is all to say how important gift tags are, and they really don’t have to be the store bought kind. I personally enjoy painting my own gift tags. If you are not artistically gifted, however, there are still options for you.

  1. Glue vintage buttons and ribbon on square cardstock and write or type the to and from.
  2. Cut out scrapbook paper and layer it in interesting ways onto cardstock.
  3. Cut Christmas shapes (like gingerbread men, evergreens, snowmen) out of felt and embroider or draw the names on with felt marker.

However, if you’re really feeling the look of hand-painted Christmas tags this year, you are in luck! My hand-painted posie tags are available at my Etsy shop, Peels and Posies, and are downloadable. That means you can have them the day you buy them! Perfect if you’re in a wrapping bind. Otherwise, have a great time DIYing! ❤

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Visit My Etsy Shop, Peels and Posies! Now OPEN.

I had a striking realization the other day, the kind that sort of makes your stomach twist in knots and feel ashamed of the day you said you’d ever do anything worthwhile/graduated college/heard your parents say they were proud of you. Here it is – I make excuses. The kind veiled by logic so they sound relevant. You know – well, I haven’t done such and such because I work all the time. Or I haven’t actually opened my Etsy shop because I’ve been making stuff for it. Well, I could keep making stuff alllll the time, but the bottom line is that I have to open someday. And that day is today!

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Peels and Posies is a shop devoted to hand-made, whimsical home decor, the kind that I would want (and consequently have) in my own home. Everything I make has been inspired by either books, woodland creatures, flowers, or food. So essentially, it’s all just a conglomeration of the things I love most. And I feel like there are others like me out there.

One of the nice things about my shop is that most of my products are made from recycled materials like cardboard, egg cartons, fabric scraps, etc etc. Ties in nicely with my Consider the Peel theme, eh? Wink wink.

I will make custom orders, and if you are interested in contacting me separate from my shop for independent contractual work (for paintings, family crests, individualized home decor, etc.) just email me and we can sort something out. Hope you enjoy perusing my work!

😉 Here are a few samples of what I do:

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The deliciously dapper deer graphics are designed by the ever talented Mickenzie Robbins. View her profile here.

I’m Back With Apples and Stuff

I know that in the blogging world being gone for a month is basically blog death. Well, I have resurrected myself and my dear Consider the Peel, and I hope it’s not been too long for those loyal few out there.

What can I say – life is hectic. There’s my part time job at Target, my part-part time job as a transcriptionist, my blog (sadly being dejected of late), my soon to open Etsy store (yes, this is happening!) Peels & Posies, and my endless wifely duties. The apartment is small, but there is always something needing done, and as far as creative things goes, sometimes I’m just so tired after work that all I want to do is stick my head in a hole and hibernate until spring (but then, of course, I’d miss all this beautiful fall weather). Sometimes (read, all the time) when I am grueling the hours away at Target, scanning fifty jars of baby food or struggling to lift cat litter off the belt, I think to myself,  “Is this banality worth the $8 an hour?”

More often than not the answer is Heck No. However, I do struggle with perspective sometimes. The bottom line is that life will always be too busy – I need to stop waiting for a moment and make a moment. I need to make those few minutes of free time between tasks worth my while, because I know that reaching my own potential will not only increase my personal satisfaction but it will do others a lot of good too.

So here’s a little apology for being too trapped in my bubble of inactivity. Hopefully I’ll get back in the swing of things with the help of a daily planner and a renewed spring of inspiration. It’s FALL after all…squeeeee! The absolutely positively most magical time of the year, which means yours truly will be bringing you pumpkins galore, wreaths and fallings leaves, pies, squash, ghosts, and ohhh so much more.

The first thing to report on is the massive amount of apples we currently have sitting in trash bags on our apartment floor. My husband’s parents have three apple trees and have kindly given us more apples than I’ve ever seen in one place at one time. I am not complaining. The other day we had an apple themed lunch: Homemade Honey Lemon Applesauce, Open-Faced Apple Havarti Ham Sandwich Melt, and Celery Apple Salad.

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These three simple elements made for a delicious (not to mention unique) lunch. Of course, Grant laughed at me when I told him we were having an apple themed lunch. “Is that what we’re doing now?” he said. “Themed lunches?” Why, yes, Grant. Themed lunches are the greatest kind of lunches.

HONEY LEMON APPLESAUCE

Ingredients:

about 5 pounds of apples (I used a variety, mainly Braeburn and golden delicious)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water, plus more if needed

Method:

1. Peel and chop apples. Place all ingredients in a large pot and heat on medium high. Let boil and add water if mixture gets too thick. When apples are soft enough, mash for desired consistency.

The honey and lemon flavors in this applesauce are very subtle, but definitely there. For more pronounced flavors, simply add more of the desired ingredients.

OPEN-FACED APPLE HAVARTI HAM SANDWICH

Ingredients:

sliced harvarti cheese
ham lunchmeat
sliced apples
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp miracle whip
Oregano and parsley
bread

Method:

Mix dijon, miracle whip, oregano, and parsley together, then spread on the bread. Place meat, then apples, then cheese on the bread. Broil on high for four minutes.

APPLE CELERY SALAD

Ingredients:

1 Golden Delicious apple
1 stalk of celery
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
fresh parsley

Method:

Slice apples and celery thinly. In a separate bowl, mix vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pour over apples and celery, then top with fresh parsley.

Woodsy Boutonnieres, (Fake) Flower Crowns, and How To Arrange Bouquets at Home

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I talked all about my wedding in my last post (Oh Sweet Love – I’m Married!) and I’m going to talk about it just a little bit more in this post. What can I say, the post-wedding-bliss just hasn’t died out yet. In this post I want to talk specifically about three things: handmade boutonnieres, handmade flower crowns, and bouquet arranging at home.

I will not claim to be a flower expert. In fact, all I know about flowers is that they are gorgeous, and about 90% of the time they look beautiful without ornament of any kind. Traditionally at weddings, flowers abound. However, hiring a florists often ends up costing as much the venue itself, and this was just one vendor I didn’t particularly care to invest that much in.

A florist’s goods include bouquets, flower arrangements (center pieces, etc), boutonnieres, and the occasional flower crown (this is a rather new fad, though). One of the iffy things about fresh flowers is that they last only so long – timing is key. A florist has to make sure the flowers (boutonnieres and flower crowns included) are prepared well enough so that they will not wilt during pictures and during the pre-wedding bustle.

My thoughts on all this were: What is the point of fresh flower boutonnieres, anyway, when they wilt and die and are consequently thrown out? (Not like boys like wearing flowers anyway. Girls love ornamenting themselves, even if it can only be for a couple hours, but boys…no.) Flowers crowns are pretty, but like the boutonnieres, wouldn’t I rather be able to keep what I wear? and, How hard could flower arranging really be? If you’ve got the goods, then surely the flowers themselves do most of the work. On this account, I was right.

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So I decided to make lasting keepsake boutonnieres for the boys. I really like the look of the paper flowers at Hobby Lobby, and they also have lovely dried baby’s breath there, which was the perfect pop of filler. What I like most about the paper flowers is that they are realistic looking enough (they don’t look plastic like a lot of fake flowers) but they retain a certain degree of whimsy that sometimes isn’t even attained with fresh flowers.

To arrange these flowers, I simply cut the stem to the right length and wrapped them in flower tape (also from Hobby Lobby, in the flower arranging aisle). It took maybe five minutes.

As for the precious wooden deer pin (the best man’s boutonniere was a bear, and my sister’s similar hairpiece was a bunny): Sketch.Inc on Etsy is how that happened. Becky Kemp, the shop owner, hand makes a plethora of animal pins that are simply perfect for a woodsy affair.

I put a dab of hot glue on the back of the pin to attach the flowers, and now I have an extra something to remind me of my perfect wedding day. I probably won’t get Grant to ever wear it again, but pictures are proof he did it once, and I guess that’s enough for me 😉

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Now on to my flower crown. This was more labor intensive than the boutonnieres, but that’s okay, especially considering how it turned out. Let’s just say I was pleased. I used the same paper flowers from Hobby Lobby, and as you can see they look surprisingly similar to the real flowers I used in my bouquet. My photographer actually mistook the fake flowers on my headband for real. “I’m surprised those flowers haven’t wilted at all in the sun!” she said after taking about a hundred photos of Grant and I in a field. I laughed.

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To begin, I bought a thick lace headband, flowers and greenery, ribbon, and a large lace flower appliqué (all from Hobby Lobby). I used needle and thread to attach two pieces of ribbon to the headband (long ribbon, to be braided in with my hair). This way, there was more structure for the weight of the flowers without compromising flexibility. I deconstructed the green roses in order to attach them and make them more pliable. For the most part, I sewed the flowers on with thread, but for extra protection I used hot glue dabs on each flower. I didn’t want flowers raining down as I walked down the aisle.

For my woodsy wedding, this fake flower crown was just perfect.

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Now on to the flower/bouquet arranging. There was a lot of risk in this decision. Think of all the ways it could go wrong – the flowers come wilted, they wilt during the festivities, the bouquets get too cold/hot, there’s not enough time for arranging flowers with everything else. Yes, we kept this all in mind, but in the end we decided to take a chance (kind of like choosing to have an outdoor wedding at the end of July, and we all know how that turned out!).

We ordered the flowers online from a site called fiftyflowers.com. They have every type of flower imaginable; roses of every color, asters, snapdragons, tulips, dahlias, and hydrangeas, galore! In fact, the first time I looked at the website I was so overwhelmed that I had to shut my computer off and bake a cake. But nevertheless, after hours of painstaking decision making, I finally decided on a few beautiful blooms: Green Lisianthus, Pink Ranunculus, Pink Matsumoto, Poppy Pods, White Aster, Scabiosas, and Maidenhair Fern. I stuck with light pink and white for colors, because I am a big fan of simplicity. Too many colors can cause confusion.

I made up the bouquets (one for me, one for the maid-of-honor, and two backups) two nights before the wedding. It took a while, considering I was new at the whole wedding-bouquet-arranging thing. Then right before the rehearsal dinner, me and an army of my friends made the flowers into simple arrangements for the picnic tables. We had at least 50 mason jars to fill, and it took probably three hours. Though it was time consuming, it was an enjoyable job.

The morning of the wedding we had an unfortunate happenstance with the bouquets. Before the rehearsal dinner, some kind-hearted friends of mine placed the bouquets in the fridge because they figured they would keep better in there. No one knew that the fridge was closer to a freezer, and I didn’t have the hindsight to check on the flowers before bed. By morning they were popsicles! So when we awoke at 7, we were in a mad scramble to remake at least 3 more bouquets…luckily I didn’t have a thousand bridesmaids! With the help of my faithful friends and sister, all went well, and the new bouquets turned out even prettier than the first (which, believe me, didn’t seem possible).

We finished off the bouquets with a simple bow of thick crochet lace. We left the stems rough because I like the look of wildflower bouquets – organic, natural. All the flowers turned out lovely. I don’t think I could have been happier with a florist!

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So overall, doing your own flowers comes with risks. The real question is whether you are willing to take those risks. If you are inclined to crack under pressure, then making your own bouquets is probably not for you. Likewise, if you don’t enjoy the simple pleasure of arranging flowers, don’t do it. However, I will always advocate boutonnieres that will last and headbands that can be worn again. Those keepsakes are just priceless.

🙂

Oh Sweet Love – I’m Married! (This Post Is All About My Perfect DIY Wedding)

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Ten days ago I became a wife and, needless to say, I am currently residing in a quagmire of marital bliss. Life is fantastic as a married woman so far. Apartment decorating, making roasts in the crockpot for my husband, etc etc. All I can say is ❤ ❤ ❤

I would like to take this post to brag about my perfect wedding. Essentially the whole shindig was Do-It-Yourself, so this post will contain a plethora of sneak peaks for DIY posts to come. It’s more about the day, though, than the crafts. It was a beautiful wedding, and I kinda just want to talk about it.

Notice my headband and his boutonniere. *Handmade items; post to follow*

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First off, every one always said I was a courageous soul for planning an outdoor wedding at the end of July in Iowa. Normal weather conditions: HOT, humid, windy. It was a risk, but I wanted what I wanted, and the chance was well worth the worry. The day was a perfect one for a wedding – mid 70s, slight breeze, and not a drop of rain in sight. The hollyhocks and sunflowers were blooming in the garden and storms from the week before had revived the grass to a vibrant green.

So a utopian day was the backdrop to a painstakingly planned event – a whimsical, woodsy affair, complete with homemade jam, papier-mache woodland creatures, and yard games.

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We got married amid the flora and fauna of Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids, Iowa. Our ceremony overlooked the rolling hills carved out from glaciers thousands of years ago. The long grass danced in the wind behind us as sweet words were spoken about the roots of love and glorious blessings of the One above.

I walked down the aisle to “Liz on Top of the World” from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, which has been my favorite musical soundtrack since eighth grade. It’s only fitting I would walk down the aisle to it. If I had to name a favorite part of the ceremony, though, it would be the Tree Watering Ceremony. Instead of the Unity Candle, we decided to go with a Unity Tree – to symbolize the growth of love, the endurance of it, and the fruits it can produce (ours is an apple tree). I had a great time painting the pot. It is simply a large plastic planter from Lowe’s that I adorned with florals and deer and our wedding date.

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The ceremony was literally straight from my dreams. Every part of it was magical, even when I was hidden on the second level, screened-in porch right next to the ceremony site, spying on guests as they sat and watching the grandparents, parents, and wedding party walk down to “Secret Life of Daydreams” for the processional. Then, being pronounced Man and Wife was probably the happiest moment of my life. Thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes.

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Much fun was to be had at the reception as well. We had bean bag toss, yard scrabble, badminton, croquet, a plant-your-own-flowers stand, and a little bit of dancing. For guest favors, my mom, sister, and I slaved for hours on some homemade jam! Of course, being who we are, we could not settle for mere ordinary flavors. Our flavors were:

  1. Honey Peach Vanilla
  2. Beet Apple
  3. Vanilla Grapefruit Marmalade
  4. Maple Strawberry Vanilla
  5. Blueberry Peach (sugar free)
  6. Apple Tomato Lemon
  7. Perfect Peach
  8. Strawberry Marmalade
  9. Blueberry Lavender

Experimenting with flavors was 90% of the fun. Making jam itself is such a great time, too, though!

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Finally, for our masterful cake. You may recognize the cake topper. It worked absolutely perfectly on this traditional Norwegian cake called Kransekake. It is not your normal cake – fluffy, sinfully sweet, etc – but rather more similar to a cookie. It is made out of almond paste, sugar, and eggs. That’s it, and it is delicious. While I myself did not bake this cake (a friend of my grandma’s did), my sister and I put it together on the morning of the wedding. Funny story, actually. The wedding was at 2. We were supposed to start getting ready with the photographer present at 10:00. All morning we were so busy decorating and making bouquets that we completely forgot about constructing the Kransekake! At 10:15 we rushed into the kitchen, and yet it still turned out absolutely lovely. I couldn’t have paid a million dollars for a prettier cake.

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With all that said, all that’s left is: BAM! happily ever after. Hopefully the rest of our life together will be as breathtaking, whimsy-full, and perfect as our wedding day was.

GIANT SCRABBLE!

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To all of you who are getting married in the near feature, don’t steal my idea. Yards games at the outdoor reception! Okay, fine, I guess you can steal my idea if you want. It is a really great idea. I’m known for those. So yeah. Yard games. I cannot wait for my wedding day because I just know it’s going to be the loveliest, most fun day imaginable (barring rain, knock on wood). The ceremony will be overlooking a garden and a valley of gorgeous hills and the reception will be part in a barn (where the dancing will happen) and part in the glorious sun.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

I’m planning on croquet, badminton, bean bag toss, and of course this stroke of genius (courtesy of my sister) – giant scrabble!

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The pieces are remarkably easy to make. Just hop on over to your local Lowes, go to the wood section, and choose the kind that is half an inch thick. My terrific fiancé cut all the pieces to size (6″ x 6″) and then sanded the edges. I finished the wood with wood stain and then painted on the letters and score points. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Took a while though.

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The reason I chose to have this game is that word games are the most fun games in the world (in my humble opinion). My personal favorite is actually Boggle, but free style scrabble, also called Take 2, is a close second. A normal game of Scrabble has 100 tiles, and  each letter has an appropriate proportion of the total (based on how common the letter occurs in English). It was actually somewhat complicated to figure out what ratio of letters we needed to make, considering we have significantly less tiles than 100. Nevertheless, the game will be grand fun! Just one more reason to be counting down the days till I’m an old married woman 😉

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Homemade Books are Magical, and Bookish Terminology

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I love books for both their content and their aesthetic form. If I wanted to just read all the time I would merely own my ebook and chuck the rest, but that’s just not the thing. I have hundreds upon hundreds of books because a house doesn’t seem homey without them. I like the way the stacks look on the shelves, I like how they make up the main part of my decor, I like how they smell and make lots of thoughts run through my head and how the covers make patterns from a distance.

I LOVE BOOKS.

So last fall I had an epiphany. I make a bunch of stuff – crafts and the like – but never had I made my own book. Because, I mean, come on, it’s a book. Yet books are my favorite form of art and my most treasured possessions. Maybe I hadn’t ever thought about making one myself because they are so revered in my mind. But when I started to realize all the possibilities, I just about lost it.

Obviously, thoughts aren’t pre-collected in the books I am binding, they are blank, but that’s okay. They can be filled with art or words or anything really, and the best part is that everything that goes into making one is essentially scraps (cardboard, white paper, leftover fabric pieces).

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Look at this beauty. Okay, so maybe only a devoted book lover would actually go to the trouble of binding her own notebook. Sure you could buy one at Barnes & Noble that would probably look more slick, but I like choosing exactly what goes on the cover and knowing my own hands hewed it. This specific book (which says “Oh Sweet Love” not “Oh Sneet Love” as my brother initially thought) is going to be used as a guest sign-in/words-of-wisdom book for my wedding.

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Teaching myself how to bind books was really fun because I learned all sorts of bookish terminology. For instance, the cluster of pages pictured in the image above is called a signature.

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The page edge opposite the binding is called the face. Because I don’t do a final trim of the face, the edge is rough. This is called a deckle.

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Sewing the books together in signatures rather than all at once is called oversewing, and is practiced to allow more flexibility to the spine.

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Of course there are lots of terms that I won’t mention here because I don’t want to bore you. But I do want to say that I love seeing the way the cover looks before it becomes a cover, and how the spine is glued to the fabric first.

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Essentially this process of learning how to bind books has caused me to deeply examine not only the form of the book, but of the mechanics behind the book as well. It makes me greatly – and I mean greatly – appreciate those dedicated souls in the olden days who hand bound everything. One book takes me half a day to make, and this is at a relatively brisk pace. It’s a lot of work, and yet we have millions of books in print today. This amazes me. Not to mention, binding books that are printed are waaaaay more complicated – you have to number the pages, within the signatures…Makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

If you’d like to try your hand at binding books, this tutorial, The Basic Binding of Books by Jamie Butler, is a great one to use. Happy booking!

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Pretty Paper Lanterns

I feel as though I’m in a bit of a lull right now. I don’t have any concrete goals, and it makes my life seem rather bland. I mean, sure, I do cool things: like roaming the Des Moines farmer’s market in the cold rain, watching my cousins capture about a thousand toads in a bucket, meeting with wedding planners and going to nature preserves… Life is good right now, I just want a little more direction. Complete freedom only goes so far.

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Sometimes doing hours of mundane craft works to get me out of lulls such as these. Not to say the end product is mundane, but the process can be rather arduous with these paper lanterns. It’s a lot of cutting. This craft is much easier, however, than my fabric lanterns, which is why I promised to post about it.

All you need is paper, scissors, an exacto knife (I used the tiny swivel blade kind), a stapler, and string.

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As long as you’re willing to put in the work, it’s really easy. Cut three pieces of paper in lengths that get progressively shorter. Scallop ends and with exacto knife cut out hearts. Staple the sides together and make your other sizes. When finished, staple a separate length of rope to the top of each cylinder and then take a longer strand and tie each one together. You can make these lanterns varying sizes.

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Don’t forget to save your cut out hearts and do something cool with them. If nothing else, use them as confetti!

Now, I think I might go bake something.