I’ve been busy. The last few months have been a flurry of activity: first AWP and a million department events, then turning in my thesis, then finals, then graduation, then a nice long visit with D & friends (and another IV wedding!) in NorCal; then I moved back to the East Coast (I’m living with my parents for the summer) and promptly got sick and lay around flat on my back for four days, after which I then proceeded to spend a week living in a cave while I was working on putting up the first issue of Lantern Review. In short: no time for personal blogging.
Case in point: Back in what must have been February, I committed to blog for Ada Lovelace Day (in March). Unfortunately, (as you can see) I never got around to that. I did write a poem about Ada Lovelace, though. Does that count?
However (as the photo at the top of this post — which shows some potato stamped reply postcards I made to send with a fellowship app — indicates), I have still been crafting and baking and gift wrapping (bento, not so much), despite my silence here. And since I took pictures of most of the mini projects I completed, anyway, I thought I would share them now.
Back in March, when I applied to the fellowship for which I sent the postcards I mentioned earlier, I baked up some of Katie Goodman’s White Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies to thank the professors who wrote letters of recommendation for me. I colored the stars on the tags red to complement the cute polka-dotted ribbon I picked up in the dollar bin at Michael’s. I didn’t get that fellowship in the end, but apparently the cookies went over quite well with their recipients. So that, at least, was encouraging.
The idea for this tee was inspired by Charissa’s beautiful Double Ruffle Gift Topper post over at The Gifted Blog. I’d been seeing a lot of embellished tees in the stores for some time and had been thinking that I might be able to find some way to do it myself. Charissa’s technique gave me both the idea and the impetus to actually attempt the project. So I took an old, rather faded t-shirt, recut the neckline, chopped the sleeves to 3/4 length (which you can’t, unfortunately, see in this set of photos), and used the scraps to sew little rosettes in the yoke area. I’ve worn this tee several times since, and I’m pleased to say that despite my initial worries, it turned out to stand up pretty well to machine washing (I usually turn it inside out and line dry it just to be safe, but I think it would still survive a trip through the dryer if one day I forgot to take it out before transferring the load).
I baked a batch of Simply Recipes’ Chocolate Cookies with Cocoa Nibs and Lime (although they weren’t exactly that, as I subbed chocolate chips for the cocoa nibs–I cook on a budget and your average Indiana supermarket does not carry such niceties) and sent them off with some candy and a card to D for our 5-year dating anniversary. The tag on this box matched the card and the tag on the candy box. Unfortunately, I don’t think I did the best job coordinating everything else in the suite of gifts, so I’m just showing you this one, which came out the best, in my opinion).
The end of March and all of April was incredibly nuts (seriously: I attended four conferences, D visited, and there seemed to be a department-sponsored panel or reading almost every free night that month), so not much crafting or baking (let alone sleeping or breathing) happened then. But when graduation time rolled around, I found myself back in crafty mode once again, what with goodbye gifts and thank-you gifts.
I created this bird’s nest necklace using this tutorial as a thank you and goodbye gift for my friend R. She’s doing a publishing internship in the city this summer, so I modeled it after the ModCloth-ish kind of jewelry I used to see some of the Brooklynite types in my office wearing last summer. The chain is longish — around 18″ I think? — and the nest itself is about an inch and a half in diameter. I used my last two faux pearls (they are vintage, from my late paternal grandparents’ stock, and the finish is chipped, but I liked the feel of that in this necklace), and a filigree bead (also from my grandparents’ stock). The box was created with thin white cardstock, using Patricia Zapata’s matchbox project (though I messed up the final set of instructions; hence the slightly wonky sides). I cut the butterflies out of cardstock with an X-acto knife and used rolly tape (out of a dispenser-applicator that looks like one of those rolling tape white-out dispensers — I officially love that stuff now) to stick them onto the top.
This is a more successful version of the same box as above. This time, I used it to wrap a thank you gift for a professor. This time I followed the instructions correctly (though I’ve discovered that you have to notch the long sides before folding them in at the end to get them to fit snugly with the added thickness of the cardboard on the short sides), and used a Triscuit box. I lined the inside bottom with the same blue cardstock I used for the sheath and cut the tag out of the Triscuit box, too. The ribbon is also (sort of) recycled — originally the gift had been wrapped in another box, but that box got rather crushed in transit, so I just reused the old ribbon on the new box.
Another handmade gift and its wrapping. Stretchy green glass bracelet for a friend who loves the color (once again, all the beads except the white focal are vintage), and the wrapped version (makeshift mini-box from the leftover bits of the Triscuit box wrapped in cream tissue I’d recycled from another gift, twine, and a red heart cut out of scrap paper).
This thank-you gift was one of the miniature versions of Kim Westad’s “Sweet Pea” pieces, which I packaged securely into a kraft box from Michaels, tied up with twine, and topped with a red-rimmed tag (the inside of the vessel is glazed in a deep terra-cotta red, so I tried to reflect earthy tones in the packaging) and a Martha-Stewart style tissue flower (made from the tissue that had wrapped a graduation gift I’d received, no less!). I tucked the ceramist’s card in under the string so that the recipient would know where it came from.
My friend M loves a particular roll of striped wrapping paper that I have, and has borrowed it to wrap gifts before. So I thought I’d use a square of it to decorate her gift. The idea of using a graphic, sans-serif initial on the square was inspired by this post at Bugs and Fishes. (Please excuse the weird stripey texture — that is a result of my taking this photo too close to my screen door, which gets good light in the morning). As you can see, the box is another one of Patricia Zapata’s matchboxes. I was a huge fan of them by that point (and still am!) What’s inside, you ask? A pair of handmade earrings. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to snap a photo before I wrapped them.
This was part of D’s birthday present. (I always try to give him one thing that’s store-bought, and a little something that’s handmade). We both love to play the game Bananagrams together (partly, I’ll admit, because I am incompetent at most board games, but actually “get,” and get excited about, this one) — but unfortunately the cute banana-shaped case that holds the game broke recently, so D had been temporarily storing his Bananagrams tiles in his Scrabble tile bag. Which, we both commented, was sort of a shame, because the banana-shaped bag is part of what makes Bananagrams Bananagrams. Hence, I decided to surprise him with my version of a replacement for his birthday. I am, admittedly, very much a beginner sewer. And I don’t own a machine. So a simple, rectangular drawstring was the most I could do (no banana shapes for me – figuring out how to line it was hard enough!) To compensate for that, though, I added a little embroidered felt monogram in the shape of a banana, and used banana colors (white fabric, yellow ribbon). I even wrapped the thing in white tissue and yellow ribbon (didn’t get a picture of that, though). D liked the bag a lot, but the best payoff came the next day at his party when his brother and sister-in-law asked, “Where did you get a Banagrams bag that has a banana with your name on it?” To which D replied, “Take a guess: it’s hand-sewn and hand-embroidered,” and pointed at me.
Okay, this is the last one, I promise (and then I really have to go to bed). As usual, I couldn’t find a wedding card that wasn’t dripping with sappy sentiment in the store, so I made one. the invitation was cream and light purple, so I decided to follow a similar theme. The caption under the hugging pears says “To a perfect pair (pear?)” Which is cheesy, I’ll admit, but — in my opinion — at least rather more cute than sappy (plus, I got to write the bride and groom a nice long personal note inside, which was nice).
And now — to bed. But now you know, in part, what I’ve been up to since March. Hopefully I’ll have more time to post this summer.