For The Man Who Has Everything

A colleague of mine with a penchant for fancy socks is retiring this year.
To honour him, I was commissioned to create a bouquet of…. socks.

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It was exactly the kind of challenge I love!
I spent a week or so thinking about how to go about it and then I sat down and got started.
I had six pairs of socks, so ended up with twelve “blooms.” Each sock became a single flower. After some trial and error, I ended up using some embroidery thread to gather each sock, using a running stitch along the bottom of the sock and pulling it tight. You can see in the photo where I stitched each one, indicated by the red dotted line.

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Once each sock was gathered, I just wrapped the gathered edge together, using the toe as the centre of each flower. A few stitches secured each one in place and soon I had twelve rosette-style flowers.

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What do to for stems? I decided to use a black button for each flower’s centre, securing it to a paper straw with a dab of hot glue (I stuck the shank of the button into the opening at one end of the straw). Then, I slid the straw through the centre of the rosette; the button stopped it from falling out. A few more stitches of embroidery thread through the paper straw and the sock to hold each flower together and, ta-da! Twelve sock roses!

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Next up, I used garden twine to make a French-tied bouquet and then tied on a jaunty polka-dotted ribbon I’ve been saving in my stash for just such an occasion.

When he is ready to wear the socks, all the recipient has to do is snip the embroidery thread (I was sure to use contrasting colours so that it would be easy to see) and unfurl each sock. The perfect bouquet to extend the length of time between loads of laundry!

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My colleague was delighted with his bouquet, I am happy to report.

Be Mine

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Around Delovely HQ, Valentine’s Day is a total non-event.
Which, I admit, makes me sad.
{see: colours, imagery, general froufery}

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The good news is, I get to indulge my passion for all things crafty and theme-y by giving my students Valentines. This year, good ol’ Target hooked me up with some cute-as-a-button supplies from their dollar bins. I scored some pretty favour bags, some pens, pencils and stickers, to which I added a few chocolate lips and (my very favourite!) cinnamon hearts. The pretty ribbon I also picked up at Target and some grocery store Valentine cards helped me personalize the packets.

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The girls were delighted!

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However you celebrate (or don’t), Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

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Photobomber.

Flag Day

 Last week I was able to squirrel away a single chocolate cupcake from M’s birthday treats before I gave them to him. I popped it in the freezer to save it for my friend and colleague, R– her birthday is three days after M’s.

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To make it fun and celebratory, I spruced it up in some cute packaging.

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I made a sturdy cardboard base and wrapped it in pretty paper, then I made some washi tape flags on paper straws. A cellophane goodie bag and some glittery ribbon and ta-da!
A sweet treat for a sweet lady.

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I think these would also make cute party favours– you could serve slices of cake at the party and send guests home with cupcakes.

{Tip: use glue dots to secure bottom of cupcake wrapper to cardboard base.
Your cupcake will stay put and not slide around inside the cello bag.}

Hop To It!

With Easter coming up, you may find yourself looking for a cute hostess gift or two. Here is an easy one.

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I believe in using my prettiest tea towels, rather than “saving them for good.” The result is that they get stained and end up in the rag bag. The good news is that they make great dust rags and  it means I can update my tea towels a few times a year! The humble tea towel is the kitchen equivalent of buying new lipstick: it gives you a quick, inexpensive lift and brightens your day.

Look for pretty, seasonal tea towels– they are everywhere, from the dollar store to Williams & Sonoma. What hostess doesn’t need more sweet tea towels? I found a set of two cheery gingham ones (useful year-round) and a bright Easter egg print.

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Tie a fancy ribbon around them and, with a nice bottle of wine or some good olive oil, you’ve got yourself a lovely little gift for your hostess!

You can see that this idea meets with approval from my resident photo-bomber:

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Tiny, Perfect Cake

Here is how I packaged up the wee little cake I put together for a friend last week.

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First, I cut out a cardboard circle to go under the cake and then wrapped the whole thing in waxed paper, to keep the jam and the icing from bleeding through the wrapping. Next, I cut a strip of parchment paper to size and wrapped it around the cake, leaving the top open.

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Some washi tape and some glitter tape, plus a bit of grosgrain ribbon added a bit of pizzazz. Then, I wrapped the stem of a canvas flag in the same washi tape, for a sort of circus-y, birthday party-ish vibe. I hand-stamped the message onto the flag in blue ink (I’m a fan of vintage slang) and then popped the flag into the centre of the cake.

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A plastic gift bag and a string of sequins were the final touches. I used the glitter tape on the ends of the sequin string to keep it from unravelling– it would be sad to give someone a cake wrapped in the bedraggled, de-sequined remains of something so pretty! 😉

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The Sun

…will come out tomorrow. Or so goes a line from my BFF’s favourite musical.
(Though asking her to pick a favourite musical is like asking a mother to choose her favourite child, to be honest.)

Last year, for her birthday, I sent a little treat her way. I thought she might like to hang it up in her office space, to help her keep her chin up on those days we all have at work now and then, the days when we wish someone would burst into song and do a little tap dance to make us smile.

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I made her some mini-bunting (flags are 3.5 inches tall), using some delicious fabric I had bought at the insanely amazing Beyond Fabrics on the Columbia Road and had been hoarding to be used for Something Very Special.
What could be more special than the birthday of someone you love?

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I hand-lettered the lyrics from that famous song onto the plain pennants and then sewed some sweet little buttons on as embellishment. It hangs in her office now and, I hope, makes her smile when she sees it.

Quick & Easy

Today I picked up a few little Christmas presents.
Three of them were very simply gift-wrapped for me in kraft paper bags and bright green tissue paper.

I really like to have some element of the handmade in my gift wrap, so I had to add a little something to the packages.  Since I am planning to use kraft paper for my gift wrap this year, I decided to keep the gifts in the kraft bags and just add my own tags to them.
What could be easier?

I printed on each tag, added some festive washi tape to two and used a paper punch to tart up another one, added an oversized jingle bell and some pretty ribbon to each one and tied them onto the handles of the bags. It took a wee while, as I individually hand-lettered each tag, but you could speed up the process by using handwriting or calligraphy instead.

I LOVE these gifts– I got one for my BFF, one for my mum and one for my brother. I’d love to tell you what they are, but my mum is a regular reader and my BFF drops in now and then, too, so I can’t let you in on what’s inside the bags.
But I know it will drive at least one recipient nutty trying to figure out what the heck I could get that would be appropriate for both her and for my brother!

Gift tags & washi tape from The Paper Place.

 

Be My Guest

Stuck for hostess gifts? Teacher gifts? Something small and thoughtful to give a neighbour or a colleague?

I have a solution for you.
Make The Barefoot Contessa’s Parmesan, Thyme & Black Pepper Crackers. They are incredibly quick and easy and they are beyond yummy!
I make a whole gigantic bunch of them and keep them in the freezer so I have them on-hand during the holidays.

I like to give them away in vintage mason jars, but glassine or paper bags, or pretty little boxes would be sweet, too.
Add a nice bottle of red wine and you have the perfect hostess gift for the festive season.

They are so quick and easy that you will have time to sit down and enjoy a few with a nice glass of wine while congratulating yourself on your cleverness in making such a thoughtful, delicious gift!

You’re welcome. 😉

Let It Snow

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I have long had a fantasy about being a professional gift wrapper. If that is not a real job, it darn well should be! Ever since I was quite little, I have LOVED wrapping presents. As a teenager, I used to shut myself in my room with all the bows and paper and ribbons, sing along to Christmas tunes and wrap prezzies for hours and hours. It was one of my favourite days of the year and I looked forward to it for months.

As an adult, I still look forward to a day spent doing nothing but wrapping gifts. In my 30s, I started to pick a theme each year and wrap all my gifts the same way. One year it was blue paper, wide satin ribbon in chocolate brown and a single chandelier crystal on each gift. I often use kraft paper– one year I added a single magnolia leaf with the recipient’s name written on it in gold ink to each package; another year, it was organza ribbon with glass ornaments embellished with the recipient’s initial or a loving phrase; still another year, it was packing-stamp inspired stickers, red or gold jingle bells and red twine wrapped around and around and all over each package. I am also a huge fan of black paper and one of my favourite schemes involved it with oversized rick-rack in red or white and miniature glass Christmas balls.

Those are Liberty covered buttons on the right!

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I start thinking about my festive gift wrap months in advance, so now I am getting down to the wire and am narrowing down my choices for this year. You will have to wait and see what I end up doing, but in the meantime, I hope these inspirational images get you in the gift-wrapping spirit!

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Clearly Curvacious

In the end, this lamp was not at all right for the living room “freshening up.”
But I found two lovely, tall, simple glass table lamps that worked perfectly.
The shape and the shade are classic and timeless; the clear glass adds a bit of contemporary chic to the room.

Untrimmed, the lamps were a bit austere and cold.
The shades looked very clinical in a way that did not contrast well with the curvy bases.

So I added a bit of ruffle trim to the tops of the shades.
It’s a subtle detail, but it ties in with the trim on the sofa throw cushions and draws the eye upward, adding harmony and height to the room.

It was a very quick and easy trick: I used glue dots to stick the ribbon to the top of the shades. It’s a nice way to tart up a simple shade or one of which you are bored.
Into the fancy and the frou-frou? Add some pom-pom trim or fringe!
Is yours a crisper, more modern aesthetic? Grosgrain ribbon is simple and elegant– you can use varying widths of ribbon to add one or more stripes of colour to your lampshade. It’s a little project that has a big impact.