Big News to Share!

Starting a business
Y’all, I have been sitting on some major changes over here. And FINALLY I get to share what I’ve been working on for the last three years.

With my business partner Meredith, I’ve started a subscription box company that specializes in self care. Our box includes things like lotions and sleep masks, treats and stationary, jewelry and soaps. Items that will help you sleep better, eat better, inspire you towards healthy choices, and engage you in luxury.

Along with all the other fantastic products, each box will include at least two craft kits in every box. We have tied everything we’re doing to scientific research, and the research is in. Making something is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It reduces stress, improves mood, lowers blood pressure, increases cognitive neuroplasticity, and so much more. So we’re including kits that represent all kinds of different types of crafting, so that you can experiment and see what kind of a maker you are. And if you hate it? So what! Do you love every workout you do? Sometimes you just get in there and sweat and flail and make a mess but you still did it and will reap the benefits. So if you sweat and flail through your crafting, just throw the dang thing out afterward! You’ll still get the benefits, and the next time you’ll be better, and better after that, until your making muscles are…swole? I’ve reached the limit of my knowledge for this metaphor.

Also included in each box is our exclusive zine, CULTIVATE. This is the women’s magazine I need to exist in the world. Full of authentic inspiration (as opposed to impossible expectations), stories of real women defining their own success, exercises you can use to improve your mental and emotional health, instructions on how to use the items in the box in a manner that best supports self care, and lots more art and humor to make this something that you will really value.

Through the course of all the nonsense I’ve had to wade through in my life, I’ve picked up a lot of survival tips. I’ve learned how essential it is to take my health and well-being into my own hands, and how to use self care as a radical health care tool, not just an excuse to treat myself. Our boxes will come stuffed with tools, education, and permission. You are worth the trouble of taking care of yourself, and I can’t wait to show you how.

Developing this box has been a long journey and I’ve missed coming here and pouring my heart out about every setback and every triumph. But now I can’t even look at this box without weeping because I’ve put so much of my heart and soul into it. I know that this is a product that will benefit people because it’s built on the same foundation as what has benefited me. Not just the reading and learning, but the LIVING. All the days I couldn’t leave my bed, all the times I had to learn shortcuts to make sure I ate, or gave myself incentives for showering. All the times I cross stitched through group therapy so I could stand to sit in my seat. I feel like all the horrors I’ve been through might actually have a purpose.

Our box is called HavenTree, named after the trees I used to hide under when I was a kid, whenever I needed some security. We all need a little safety and I know – because I’ve lived it – that no matter what is going on in your life you can find that place inside you.

Every quarter, you’ll receive a box stuffed full of products you will love. Inspiration to tackle the problems you’re facing. Education about tools that will change your life. And an authentic approach to real life – hard stuff and all.

I hope you love it. I made it just for you.

HavenTreeBox.com

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Christmas DIY – Make a Retro Crocheted Santa

crocheted-santaI did pretty dang good trying to cram all of my holiday tutorials into the time I had between back spasms and general poor health, but at 8:00 on Christmas Eve it’s time to move on to playing Santa. So I’m going to leave you with two last videos and leave the step by step text version on my desk drive. Hopefully you’ll watch these and be entertained in those times when family makes you crazy.

I’m still planning on doing a proper home tour video tomorrow when everyone is off playing with their new toys. But until I see you all again I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with love and cheesy holiday movies.

 

 

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Make a Retro Starburst Ornament

starburst-ornamentThe starburst motif might just be my favorite of all the classic midcentury designs. You can still see them all the time in signs that haven’t been updated since the 60’s. There’s an old motel we often drive by on the 5 freeway that has a big HOTEL sign decorated with starbursts. You can find them at old bowling alleys or in vintage Vegas casinos. So simple and pretty and they instantly set the scene for me. I see these starbursts and I get a sudden urge to start ratting my hair. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be making stickers in this shape, so it’s up to us to make them ourselves.

 

step-1I gave the wooden ornament shapes a couple coats of white paint before finishing up with a couple coats of silver. I wanted really thick coverage and painting it white first is basically priming it. The silver looks brighter and without it you’d need to paint a million coats of silver to get the same effect.

 

step-2For the larger sunburst, cut a piece of cardstock into a 2 inch square. The smaller sunbursts are 1 inch squares. Use a ruler to mark the  middle of each side and then draw lines connecting them to find the middle of the square.

 

step-3Use a corner punch to cut a scrap piece of paper into a stencil.

step-4Line the stencil up with the lines you’ve drawn and trace that curve in each corner. Cut the image out, cutting on either side of the lines that make up the skinny tails.

 

step-5The smaller starbursts are made in just the same way, only you don’t need to draw a grid on them. Just line up your pattern with the edges of the 1 inch square, tracing where the curve begins. The larger starbursts also benefit from having the side arms trimmed a bit. It looks best if the vertical arms are the longest.

 

step-6Use a glue stick to stick your starburst shapes on to your ornaments and spray them with a lacquer spray paint.

 

starburstAdd a bit of thread to hang the ornament on the tree and marvel at how pretty it is. Then you can sit by the Christmas tree and dream about working for Sterling Cooper Draper Price.

 

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Make a Geometric Santa Ornament

geometric-santaLucky for you we’re running out of time for me to share ornaments for my 60’s kitsch tree. Otherwise you’d have to listen to me gush on and on about my obsession with midcentury design. It’s just so stinkin cool! I got the idea for this ornament from an ad from the 60’s that I found in my googling. Bold Geometric shapes were a real hallmark of this period, so when I found that ad breaking Santa up into his most basic shapes, I geeked out and set upon making him into an ornament, through the power of Shrinky Dinks!

 

step-1Your shapes will have to start out much bigger than you want them to end up, of course. And they’ll need to line up with each other so that you can attach them easily. I didn’t make a pattern here, I just used my ruler. I started by cutting a large triangle. Draw a line 4″ wide. Mark the mid point of that line, and then measure 6″ up from that point and mark it. Use your ruler to draw a straight line from the end of your 4″ line to the point you made 6″ up. With your triangle drawn, draw another line across the top of the triangle, 3 1/2″ up from the bottom. Cut everything out and you’ve made the hat and the body. I cut a notch in the neckline of the body to evoke a coat look.

For the bottom, draw a line 4″ long. Mark the midpoint of that line and then measure 2″ down. Mark that point too. Draw another line going 1 1/2″ out in each direction from that point. You should now have two parallel lines that share a midpoint, one 4″ long and the other 3″ long. Use your ruler to connect the lines on each side.

For the boots, draw a rectangle that is 2 1/2″ tall and 2″ wide. Measure 1/2″ up from the bottom, and mark 1/2″ in to create the toe of the boot. Draw a line connecting the top of the rectangle to the point 1/2″ in. Repeat on the other side.

 

step-2Punch holes everywhere your pieces will connect. Getting them to line up properly now will save you MAJOR headaches later. I found it best to hold two pieces together and punch through them both at the same time. You know they’ll line up if they have the same punch.

 

step-3Bake your shrinky dinks as directed on the packaging. I used white shrinky dinks because that’s what I happened to have handy, but if you use the frosted kind you can add color in all kinds of different ways. I used a combination of sharpie and nail polish on the boots, and used a bright red nail polish on Santa’s clothes. I really ended up loving the look of the red nail polish on top of the white plastic. It made a super bold saturated color.

 

step-4It might take a few coats, but the trouble is worth it. Paint the front, back, and all the edges until you’re happy with the color.

 

step-5Push a piece of wire through the holes you punched and twist it around itself. Snip off any extra with wire cutters. Repeat that for the hole on the other side.

 

step-6Take the wires hanging off the piece you just prepared and push them through the holes on the piece next to it. I found it much easier to work with both wires connecting a piece at the same time. It really helped to keep the pieces level and straight instead of tighter on one side than the other and slanted in that direction. Connect the hat to the body, the body to the bottom, and the bottom to the boots.

 

step-7Add a piece of fishing line or thread through the top hole and tie it into a loop to serve as the ornament hanger.

 

mod-santaI love how cool and modern this ornament makes Santa look! Bold colors and geometric shapes and yet you still see the iconic man in red. Proof that you’re never too cool for Santa.

 

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Make a Retro Bell Ornament

mod-bell-ornamentThis is one of my favorite kind of ornaments. Make it in minutes, make it for pennies, and watch if it doesn’t have the most impact on the tree. This ornament was another way for me to bring in some of my favorite surface design patterns from the midcentury period, this time a “sticks” pattern of overlapping blocks of color. Some patterns are easier to draw than to make out of paper, but this pattern is the opposite. Overlapping blocks of color are pretty easy to come by in a paper artist’s scrap drawer. This is an ornament you can make in the time it takes for the paint to dry.

 

step-1I found this wooden shape at Michael’s and I snatched it right up. The curvy outline is perfect for the kitschy look I’m going for, and the large size brings a great variety to the tree. When everything is about the same size it can look boring. I love getting a great big ornament and using it to break up any boring spots. For my first step I painted the wooden shapes, front and back, in a beautiful teal blue color. Since this is so large it was going to take up a lot of tree space, so I used an accent color as the background. If that color was used everywhere else on the tree it would be overkill, but just as an accent it makes everything else look better.

 

step-2I dug through my scrap draw and cut a whole bunch of different strips of paper. They are all about 1/2″ wide, although I purposefully cut some at an angle to give me a few other shapes to add in. Then I just started layering them on top of each other, varying the lengths as well as their position next to each other, until I was happy with how it looked. Then I glued them all in place with a glue stick. I found the glue stick to be the best adhesion while also being easy to move around as necessary to get them all in the right place.

 

step-3Once they were glued down I gave the whole ornament a coat of sparkle mod podge. You can use the mod podge to stick them down instead of a glue stick, but I found it too slippery and messy when I was trying to get so many pieces on top of each other. You can also use regular mod podge without any glitter, or add your own glitter to the mod podge you want to use. I happened to have some of this in my paint drawer and it was a perfectly serendipitous moment.

 

mod-bellThese quick and easy ornaments are so satisfying to make. Even at this late hour you could make a whole batch of them and have them on the tree before Christmas eve. The only downside to them is that it throws you into a bit of a crafting crisis when you hang it next to an elaborately cross stitched ornament and you realize you like the simple one better.

 

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Make Dotty Sunburst Ornaments

dotty-starburstI found the work of Elspeth McLean thanks to Facebook’s algorithm and I’m completely enamored with it. I thought the dots of her “dotillism” would work perfectly on my Christmas kitsch tree since so much of what I love about Midcentury design is the patterns common in surface design. Whether it’s the dot patterns of the Eames or the boomerang pattern you associate with diners, you can take one look at a pattern and know it came from the 50’s and 60’s. Combining dotillism with a midcentury inspired starburst pattern in a Christmas color pallete, and you get a Christmas kitschy ornament that anyone can make.

 

step-1Since I wanted my circles to look like circles and not go wonky on me, I needed a path to follow. First I painted the wooden ornament shape a solid opaque white. This took several coats before it didn’t just look like painted wood. I wanted it to look thickly white. So white that without a close look it might even seem like plastic. When I was satisfied with the background color I used a circle template and a pencil to draw on two concentric circles.

 

step-2I picked a color palette that gave me lots of options, all within a Christmasy theme, and then painted rows of dots using the lines I traced as my pattern. I used a small brush and loaded it fully with paint, then touched it to the ornament and picked the brush back up. I didn’t even try and paint the dots as circles, I just let the paint to the work as it went naturally into a domed shape. (It’s called a convex Meniscus! Yay Science!)

 

step-3There are literally infinite ways to paint a pattern of dots on the ornament, so you could let your imagination come up with all kinds of beautiful designs. I placed another row of dots between the first two, and then added graduated dots to the center until they reach a large dot in the middle. Same on the outside of the traced circle. Another row of dots and then more dots gradually getting smaller until they reach the border.

 

step-4When you’re done painting and everything is thoroughly thoroughly dry, erase the pencil lines you traced.

 

step-5Add some ribbon or thread through the hole to serve as an ornament hanger.

 

dotty-ornamentPainting in dots was addictively soothing. It requires no drawing or painting skills, not even a steady hand, and the results are so pretty! I might have to take this method up year round. Before long I’ll have a whole backyard full of art as every little rock gets covered in dots.

 

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Make a Kitschy Embellished Ornament

embellished-ornamentIt’s time to start tree #2! Like my Nostalgic Tree, this one started last year with a vague idea of doing something 60’s themed. But the ornaments I was making kept fighting. The mod foam ornaments did not work with the Holiday Shadowboxes, despite my best efforts in pretending they did. And my pom pom garland, as adorable as it was, clashed with the mason jar vignette. So I took the ornaments I made last year, grouped them together with what worked, and came up with the solution. I had two different trees on my hands. One old-fashioned and traditional, and the other full of all the mod styles I love so much from midcentury design. I leaned all the way in to that mod style until I went straight to kitsch. And I couldn’t love it more.

 

step-1I found a giant bag of satin thread covered ornaments at my thrift store and I snatched them right up. I remember a few of these still hanging around from when I was tiny, but no one makes them these days. The thread can unravel and make quite a mess, but I’ve got a plan to fix that. These ornaments were a serious staple for a long time, so you can find them pretty regularly at thrift stores, and really easily on ebay.

 

step-2I made several different options with my embellishments, playing around with patterns and different combinations. For this one I gave the ornament a ric rac belt with the help of a little hot glue. A tiny amount of hot glue to the ends will keep that ric rac from fraying, and now that those satin threads have the glued ribbon to hold them in place, they’re a lot less likely to unravel.

 

step-3Then I glued on some great big iridescent sequins. Be careful with the hot glue because it will come up through those holes in the middle and get you if you’re not looking out.

 

step-4To finish off the little holiday satellite look I’ve got going on I added some little pearl beads and then a pearl head pin. These satin threaded ornaments can occasionally be found with a styrofoam middle and if that’s the case you can stick that pin straight down and in to the foam. If you have a plastic ornament like me, use a wire cutter to cut the head off the pin. Glue the pin onto the pearl bead and then on to the sequin. If you glue the pearl first it can be hard to get everything lined up correctly, so pin to pearl, then pearl to sequin.

 

kitsch-ornamentBefore I decided this ornament was finished I added a few smaller sequins sprinkled between my little pearl towers. It’s hard to know when to stop, but on this kind of a project more is more. It is supposed to be kitschy after all.

 

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Make an Old-Fashioned Sled Ornament

sled-ornamentI’m pretty certain that this will be the final ornament for our Nostalgic Home for the Holidays tree.  I feel like I could keep going forever, but I still have a whole other tree to show you! For this last one I had to go with an oldie but goodie ornament. This popsicle stick sled has been around forever. You might have even made one when you were small, or been given one by a child. I love a traditional ornament something fierce, but sometimes the classics are due for an update. I added a couple of tweaks to make it strong enough to last because this tree will be a favorite for years to come.

 

step-1For each ornament you’ll need four regular popsicle sticks and four tongue depressor style popsicle sticks. Paint two of the smaller sticks silver. Trim the other two sticks so that they’re the same size as the width of all four large sticks. I wanted the sled to look like stained wood so to paint the large sticks and the little trimmed pieces I took red acrylic paint and watered it way way down. The watery paint worked like a wood stain, thin enough for the wood to absorb it and not just sit on top hiding the grain of the wood.

 

step-2Glue the four large sticks together. I just used good old Elmer’s glue, but remember that a little goes a long way. Then glue your trimmed pieces across as supports, just a little below the curve of those popsicle sticks. Let it get good and dry.

 

step-4Tie a piece of thread or ribbon in a loop to serve as the ornament hanger. Place the loop on top of the supports, then thread the the silver sticks through it. Glue the silver sticks down on top of the supports.

 

step-5When everything is dry you can decorate the front. I printed these statements on thick white paper and snipped the ends into little swallowtails. To glue them down I used hot glue instead of a liquid glue. I really prefer to use hot glue when possible on paper. It’s too thick for the paper to absorb so you don’t get any warping like you would with a liquid glue.

 

sledThis tree was a whole year in the making, but I absolutely love how it turned out. We had our annual open house last night and this tree received the most charming compliments. So many people commented on different ornaments reminding them of decorations they had as a child or saw at their grandma’s house, and I took that as the best praise ever. This tree feels like home.

Tomorrow starts our second tree and I have so many tutorials I have to cram in two a day until Christmas. But it’s worth it! Starting tomorrow: The Christmas Kitch Tree!

 

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Make a Button Wreath Ornament

button-wreath-ornamentWhen I’m making ornaments that evoke a nostalgia for home, there’s a lot of things I have to imagine. I didn’t have warm and loving grandparents or family traditions I look back on fondly, so making this tree has been the chance for me to pretend for a minute that I did. This tree has been the place I put all of my wishes I had as a child, and all the hopes I have for my future. Wanting to create a space that feels like home for everyone who enters my door has been the mission of my adult life. And one of the ways I represent that is with all the materials that say: Grandma. I saw this lovely fluffy chenille yarn and immediately thought of chenille bedspreads. It simply had to be included on the tree.

 

step-1For starters you need something round to wrap. I looked at all the options the craft store had to offer and these wee little grapevine wreaths were the most cost effective at 49 cents a piece. I bet if you had old kids stacking toys lying around you could use those too.

 

step-2I pulled off as many vines as I could just so I had less to catch the yarn on and then I started wrapping. Since the entire giant skein of yarn won’t fit through the hole in your wreath, you’ll need to cut off a section of yarn. To keep it tidy while you’re working, I found it easiest to wrap it up into a tiny ball. Leave a good long tail to start with because you’ll need that later and it’s got to be long enough to stay visible through all the layers of yarn you wrap. Then you just put something interesting on the TV and wrap and wrap and wrap until the wreath is the size you want.

 

step-3I loved it good and puffy so I kept wrapping until it looked like a fuzzy donut. Then tie the two ends of yarn together and cut off the tails. This chenille is perfect for this project because it’s so fluffy the knots just blend right in. This is also helpful to know in case you don’t get enough yarn in your ball to finish wrapping the first time. Just cut more yarn, tie the ends together, and keep on going. The knot won’t even be seen.

 

step-4I tied a little bow out of some printed burlap ribbon and hot glued that on at the bottom.

 

step-5And then hot glued on buttons. I experimented with a couple different button designs, but for my taste the simple way is best here. I didn’t want to hide all that lovely yarn by adding too many buttons.

 

button-wreathI can’t look at this ornament without smiling wistfully at the imaginary grandma I wish I had. With a sewing box full of buttons and a comfy chenille bedspread to fall asleep under. It would have been nice (so if you have this kind of grandma, be sure and give them an extra hug from me), but if I couldn’t have it, at least I can be it. Even if the “grandkids” I tend to are actually just my friends.

 

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Make a Doily Wreath Ornament

welcome-home-ornamentI struggled to know what to call this little ornament – is it a wreath? Is it a mixed media something? Does it have to have welcome home in the name? Sometimes a project can’t be described in search terms. I guess technically this is a mixed media project, but all I really care about is that the combination of ingredients really help make this tree. Before I got the idea for this ornament I was floundering around trying to figure out how to describe this tree. This is the ornament that really helped me hone in on the whole point of this: Going Home. I think Christmas is really closely tied to a search for home. The place where we feel taken care of and understood. A nostalgia for something that might not have ever even been, but that we long for nevertheless. I am making that place for myself, like I think all of us eventually have to, and this tree is part of that.

 

step-1Doilies are really thin, so I started by gluing six of them together. I’m always keeping an eye on long term when I make a Christmas decoration. Things have to last through the years.

 

step-2On a gift tag, write your message with an embossing ink pen and cover with gold embossing powder. Shake off the excess and heat the remaining powder until it melts. We’re all our own worst critics when it comes to our handwriting, but I dare you to do it anyway. Christmas is all about being sentimental, and everyone is sentimental about the handwriting of people they love.

 

step-3Run a line of glue around the perimeter of the tag and cover it with glitter. While it’s drying, get to work on your paper bows.

 

step-4First you’ll need a template. Cut two pieces of scrap paper that are each 1 inch wide, one 3 inches long and the other 3 1/2 inches long. Start with the shorter piece and fold it in half. Cut a snip to mark the middle of the short side, then move your scissors about 1/4″ away from that center mark. Starting at that point, cut a curve in one side that ends at the fold.

 

step-5Unfold the strip and fold in half the long way using those snips you made. The side you’ve already cut won’t have a straight part to line up with the other side, which is why you made those snips in the first place. Cut the other side to match so all your curves will be identical.

 

step-6Now you have your pattern piece for the loops of your bows. Use this to cut two pieces out of your gold paper.

 

step-7 Now you need a pattern piece for the tails. Use your 3 1/2″ piece of scrap paper. You’ll need to cut each side into a swallowtail pattern, so you’ll repeat this method for both directions. Fold the paper in half, then snip up the middle to where you want the point to end up. Unfold, then cut diagonally from the corner up to the top of the snip you’ve made.

 

step-8

Your completed pattern piece should look like this. Cut one out of your gold paper.

 

step-9The last pattern piece you’ll need is a little strip to make up your fake knot. I measured mine by assembling some scrap pieces into the bow shapes, and cutting it long enough to wrap around to the back, and wide enough to fit in the middle. Mine measures around 1/4″ wide and 1″ long.

 

step-10Once you cut out all your pieces you’re ready to assemble. Heavy cardstock will bend and crease before it curls, so you need to give it a little primer before putting it in its final shape. Grab one end of the piece with one hand, and with your other hold a pencil and use your thumb to pinch the paper over it. Pull the paper piece through your pinching thumb and the pencil just like you were curling ribbon. Turn it around and do it again to get the part you were holding to curl too.

 

step-11Assemble your bow. Start by gluing each of your loop pieces closed. Overlap their ends and glue them to each other, and then to the middle of the tail piece. Glue the knot piece to the middle, bend each end around to the back, and glue those down too.

 

step-12Assemble your wreath by gluing the tag piece onto the doily, leaving room for the bow to go on the top. I decided I didn’t like the hole that was left in the center of the tag, so I cut a couple of pieces of holly out of felt to cover it up. If you don’t want to cut tiny holly leaves, there’s lots of great stickers on the market that will do the same thing. Tie a loop of gold thread through the top of the doily to hang the ornament.

 

doily-wreathMy friend Amberly saw this tree and said that it made her feel “all nostalgic”. Which is exactly what I wanted all along! So now, now that the tree is nearly finished, I finally have the title for this tree. I’ve been circling around with way too many adjectives. Vintage inspired Home for the Holidays Tree is what I called it in the videos I made, and that is a MOUTHFUL. From now on this will by my Nostalgic tree. Even if it’s a place we’ve never found, even if it’s a place we’re making for ourselves, I think everyone is nostalgic for home.

 

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