12.23.2011

joy.

I'm jumping with joy over our Christmas cards this year. Not because of the paper bag envelopes, but they are pretty rad. Or because of our custom Paperwink stamp that makes me smile, 120 times over (we have a really big family).
I'm overjoyed because our first family [of three] cards were a creative collaboration with some of my favorite people; custom calligraphy provided by sweet Bianca of Little Miss Press; and design and photos perfected with such love and care by one of Whitney's best friends, the amazing Jenna of Jenna Beth Photography.
We have some pretty special people in our lives, don't we?

Our family portrait session with Jenna last month was the highlight of Thanksgiving weekend, and now we have a bundle of beautiful images that we'll treasure for forever, thanks to her and her uber-talented eye.

She is a true artist; while she owns her own events and photography boutique, she is a trained painter, a dancer and moonlights as a designer. (Sidebar: she designed her own wedding invitations, and these, you have to see (well, you have to see all the images from her wedding, really. So go, and enjoy)). There isn't much this girl can't do. We're lucky to know her and especially thankful for so many years of friendship, on account of my brother picking one heck of a wife who has brought us so much light and love!

Jenna blogged about our photo session earlier this month, and you can view a few more images from our sunny day here.

And with that, our cards are finally sent (I mean, it's Christmas Eve Eve). Gifts are almost totally wrapped. Stockings are hung. Mulled wine, our favorite comfort soup, sugar cookies and lots of family time is on our agenda for this most wonderful time of the year.
To all of you: may you have a happy Christmas. Full of love. And joy.

12.22.2011

our DIY christmas stockings.

At last... our stockings are up just a few days before Christmas. It was a bit touch-and-go, but with my mom's help, we got our family's stockings made just in time for Santa.
If you're considering making your own, here are some helpful links:

+ Step-by-step DIY (with photos!) on lining a stocking with a cuff (ours are clearly without, but this is very helpful when you can't figure out how to get it lined with hidden seams all the way around. Thank goodness for blogs.)

+ Nice, helpful and professional embroidery people. They do exist.

+ For the font-obsessed who have to have their names embroidered just so, find your favorite script here and then get it digitized here. Before you do, ask your embroidery shop what file format they use. Note: most shops provide digitizing services, but it's pricey. Advance Digitizing can do it for a fraction of the cost, and will deliver your files, via e-mail, in 24 hours or less.
All fabric and embellishments from Joann's. We lined the khaki cotton twill stockings with a red-and-white polka dot print and played with buttons and tulle.

12.21.2011

for your christmas brunch.

Or, really, any brunch that you want to make a little extra special... like faux Christmas morning, which we celebrated over the weekend with Mari's cousin, Carson. I have two yummy suggestions for your holiday: potato-leek gratin and blueberry crumb cake. Let's start with the gratin.

Have you read those recipes in the Williams-Sonoma catalogs and wanted to try one? We finally did, and it was divine. Like velvety divine. This is not a time for dieting, people.
Potato-Leek Gratin from Williams-Sonoma
Serves 8-10

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 pounds leeks, white and green portions, rinsed well, cut into 1/4" rings
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4" slices
3-4 tablespoons minced fresh chives

In a 12" nonstick fry pan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add leeks and salt, stirring to coat leeks with butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add thyme, nutmeg, pepper and cream. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl; let cool. Wipe out pan and grease with 1 tablespoon butter.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, combine and roughly mix the cheeses. Layer one-third of the potatoes in fry pan. Spread one-third of leek mixture on top and sprinkle with one-third of the cheeses, then one tablespoon of chives. Repeat layering two more times, reserving 1 tablespoon of chives. Cover pan; transfer to oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove lid and bake until potatoes are tender and crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes more. Sprinkle remaining chives on top and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Note: this recipe is very forgiving and you really can't mess it up (even if you forget, way back at the beginning, to stir in the cream to the leeks, like I did). Have a strong partner around to lift your pan of cheesy, bubbling goodness out of the oven and then load up on the chives.

Next: The BC's Blueberry Crumb Cake. You can find it here, and you can also find it on page 230 in Barefoot Contessa Home.
The cake is fluffy and light with a good crumb crunch, and is a nice, slightly-less-sweeter alternative to my favorite coffee cake.

You really can't beat the smell of melted butter and cake baking in the morning. These two recipes are a match made in heaven, and you don't even need to whip up some scrambled eggs to go with, but we couldn't resist. Cheers.

12.20.2011

gift giving: for your co-workers.

I work with a group of really amazing people. People who helped me take off nearly five months to enjoy being a mom, and people who helped me get back into the swing of things in the last few weeks. I'm very grateful to call them co-workers; but they are really more like friends. Friends who enjoy coffee. And lots of it.

One of my favorite go to gifts: Anthro's monogrammed mugs. For your office pals, pair it with a Starbucks card, and call it a cute day.
Sidebar: another affordable, monogrammed-ish gift from Anthro: this sweet winter tree monogram that can double as a jewelry holder for the glam gals in your life.

12.19.2011

DIY: cheap and cheerful ornaments.

I love these ornaments. They're pretty in glass bowls, hurricanes and hung from just about anywhere. They're also super easy and great for gifting.
Here's what you need:
+ box of clear glass ornaments
+ metallic shred in any color(s) you like
+ pencil with a rubber eraser
Here's whatcha do:
+ Remove the ornament hanger/toppers for each ball. Careful... the cheaper they are, the easier they break.
+ Depending on the size of your ornaments, wrap a few strands each of silver and gold shred around a finger to form a loop.
+ With the loop end down, gently stuff the loop into the ornament.
+ Use eraser to finish stuffing the shred - the shreds get slippery, so the rubber eraser helps a bit. And, the better your loop (sometimes I double it up), the quicker it might go. Once you get your own rhythm, it's quick and easy.
And sparkly.

Happy Christmas Week.

12.14.2011

seeing stars, etc.

Around here, we've been busy little elves. I just love the hustle and bustle of the season... ish. Until I collapse at the end of every day, too tired to wrap the first gift (or do much of anything, really). In my future: lots of wrapping at the end of next week.

Until then, I'm feasting on my favorite: sugar cookies.
This year, the stars aligned, and with four hands, we made four big batches of my favorite holiday cookie. And, in between cutting, frosting and topping, we started making Christmas stockings (nothing like waiting until the last minute). After a good few hours of trying to figure out how to turn things inside out, right-side-in and back again.
More to come on this festive project that really is easy once you get going, so long as you have a genius seamstress (read: mom) and a little beauty to keep you company.

What are you up to in your merry world?

12.09.2011

holiday ideas, recycled.

For your Friday, I have a few paper{whites} links from last year's holiday that may inspire some creativity this weekend?! Or not. At least it's a good reminder, for me, to take a dip into the archives every now and then.
+ In the gift wrapping department: my December to do list and images of last year's gifts, wrapped.
+ Simple Christmas: decorating with clear glass ornaments.
+ Gift go-to's from The Crate: snowflake pretzels, choc-covered marshmallows (plus an easy hostess gift idea) and sea salt caramels.
+ Tags. Obv.
+ Need a baked gift idea or an easy, luxurious dessert that's freezer friendly? Try homemade Kahlua Cake.
+ Best, most favorite holiday hot toddy: Mulled Wine. Especially when enjoyed in glow of Christmas fireworks. Thank you, Manhattan Beach!

Merry weekend, all!

12.08.2011

holiday baking: cheesecake petit-fours.

Let the holiday baking begin! Remember how I was knocked up last year 'round this time? I barely got any baking in, and did I miss it. This year: game on.
This recipe is my all-time favorite dessert. I learned at a very young age that I'm a cheesecake person because of these little bites of delight. They are pretty, festive, delicious and easy (and easily doubled) - and are even better after having sat in the frig for a few days. I love to pop them in my mouth with a little chill on them, and it's nearly impossible to stop at just one.

We enjoyed these cheesecake petit-fours, wrapped in gold on Thanksgiving, and at Christmastime, I use silver.

My mom's Cheesecake Petit-Fours
Makes about 22 petit-fours

1 8-oz. 'brick' of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
6 double squares of graham crackers, roughly broken up
1 can cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line mini muffin tins (mine are 1-3/4") with liners. I find foil works really well with the buttery (read: can be greasy) crust.

Place graham cracker pieces in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until they break down into fine crumbs. Melt butter in a medium-sized, microwave safe bowl and add the crumbs to the melted butter. Mix until well combined. Using a 1/2 teaspoon, spoon the mixture into the lined muffin tins and use your fingers to press lightly to mold them into the bottom and sides of the tins to form a crust.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese with the sugar until silky smooth (get rid of all the lumps!). Add vanilla, and then the egg. Scrap down the sides of the bowl as you mix.

Using a teaspoon, spoon the cream cheese mixture into the muffin tins to about 2/3 full. Bake for 10-12 minutes and cool in tins for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before refrigerating at least 2 hours. (Note: when you pull the petit-fours out of the oven, they'll look underdone, but they'll firm up as you let them cool. Promise.)

I like these best chilled, so once they are completely cooled, I throw them in the frig, but you can certainly serve at room temp, if you prefer. They refrigerate beautifully and last for a few good days.

Prior to serving, top each treat with a cherry (note: if you're transporting the dessert, easiest to do cherry topping at your destination).

12.06.2011

shopping for kids, simplified.

YoYo.com is the answer to my Christmas wishes. Are you ready? More than 20,000 toys, searchable by age, type, brand and gender. My favorite category: Learning & Development.
Toys. Delivered to your doorstep in two days or less, for free (on orders of $49 or more). And it seems like something is always on sale.

No more standing in the Target toy aisles, staring into space. And then waiting in line. And staring into space.

If you're wondering about returns, all you have to do is call and UPS will pick up at your house, for free. And you have 365 days to request a return. One whole year!

YoYo.com is the sister site to Diapers.com - which is just as wonderful for those shopping for infants, or those with child and thinking about registry. It makes mom errands simple and affordable, with the same great return policy. The entire website should have been on my lists of must-haves.

12.05.2011

it's beginning to look a lot like...

Poinsettias: check. Paperwhites (albeit a little late): check. Pretty wreath, fresh from Oregon (thanks, Quail Creek!): check. Perfect tree (in 20 minutes or less, I'm proud to say): check.
I just love Christmastime. On this week's list: tag making, a little baking and maybe some sewing.

Merry December.

12.01.2011

blogging.

Something happened to me over the holiday: I got lost in a blog.

It all happened so quickly - while on my daily visit to Making It Lovely, I stumbled onto this fabulousness (super, super bonus: it's the best gift guide I've ever seen), and it all spiraled from there.

And that hasn't happened in a really, really long time. Creature Comforts is one of those pretty, pretty places that takes your attention away in so many different directions that you lose track of time, and for a moment, you lose your mind. You escape. And it feels so good.

Which reminds me: blogging is beautiful. And reading blogs is just as beautiful as writing, and I need to make more time to read. Any new ones in your world that have helped you escape?

PS: How soon can I make these? Must bake this holiday season.

11.29.2011

advent calendars.

Growing up, one of my favorite holiday traditions was counting the days away for Christmas on the advent calendar. Every morning, my brother and I would trade off the advent calendar duties, and each year, we alternated who got the odd days, and who got the evens. We had a system, and it was a very big deal.
So, for Mari's first Christmas, a family advent calendar was a must, and my mom found one that I just love. Until Mari's big enough to unwrap gifts each day, we're (read: I am) going to use a tiny ornament to move from day-to-day until December 25, when she'll get a super sweet treat, on this cute Land of Nod number.
If you're shopping for a wall countdown calendar, they've got a few more styles to see. But hurry, Dec. 1 is Thursday! (YES!)

11.28.2011

the thanksgiving table.

I got an out-of-office reply over the weekend that closed with, 'be thankful.' As I downloaded photos from Thanksgiving, I reminded myself that it's not about the flowers, the tables, the wine or the food. This weekend was a whirlwind of overindulgence and fun, and I'm so grateful, this year more than ever, for our family.
Kids played football in the backyard. Cousins hugged. Tummies were stuffed - and for the record, the turkey was the best we've ever had. My parent's home was festive, warm and cozy. Here's the table, with the finished place cards.
We took a page out of the decor from Erin's shower, and the tags were finished off with a big bow of raffia.

11.21.2011

thanksgiving prep: tags.

Is it Wednesday yet? I can hardly wait to start cooking. Last year, around this time, I was newly pregnant. So new, in fact, that it was a secret to all but our parents and brothers' families. I was secret keeping, and I was doing it in that lovely phase of pregnancy when, well, everything makes you sick, including turkey and all the fixings.

In all senses, I missed the holidays, and I could not be more excited to celebrate this year, to bring our family together to give so many thanks, and especially, to do it all with Miss Mari.
We're so blessed because we get to enjoy our big family meal with our big family; both sets of Mari's grandparents and uncles' families will be there, under one roof, and I'm giddy just thinking about it. My mom's hosting, and I'm helping with the tables (oh, and a dessert, which is simple and perfectly holiday-ish, and I'll be sharing next week).

We've got some plans for the table settings, and I'll have photos of the final product, but for now, here's a sneak peak of what's in store.

DIY tag extravaganza starts here.

Happy, happy thanksgiving to you and yours.

PS: see this post for some serious Thanksgiving inspiration (and feast your eyes on the video). Thank you, as always, Camille Styles!

11.15.2011

peanut butter + banana cookies.

I love baking anything with bananas, and lately, I've been obsessing over Isabella's Cookies' little nugget of banana and peanut butter goodness called The Fluffy. I crave them at all hours of the day. I attempted to make my own at home, and after a couple of tries with real bananas, my favorite batch was made with a couple of teaspoons of banana flavoring.
I didn't do anything crazy here; I just subbed out the banana for vanilla and peanut butter chips for chocolate, using The BC's chocolate chunk cookie recipe (Barefoot Contessa Parties! pg. 236) as a guide, and if you love bananas and peanut butter cookies, this moist, sweet and salty combo will be right up your alley.

The hardest thing about this recipe is finding banana flavoring. Let me save you some time: order it online.

Peanut Butter & Banana Cookies
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa's Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Yield: 3 dozen-ish cookies

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons banana flavoring
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
10 oz. peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on high for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, then the banana flavoring and mix.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl with each addition. Fold in the peanut butter chips with a spatula.

With a small ice cream scoop or rounded tablespoon, spoon the batter onto cookie sheets and bake for 15 minutes (check after 10). The deal breaker: slightly undercooking the cookies keeps them soft and chewy.

Let cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 

11.11.2011

time.

It's time. I returned to the office this week. It's so hard, isn't it? This separation, the transition and yet another life change. It's been a slow process getting to this state of mind, of trading in the most fabulous job in the world for another pretty darn good job. I feel lucky to be surrounded by so many supportive people as I put my full-time mom hat on hold and return to life as a professional. And I know it will get easier in time.

Ah, time.

I've had many up and down days preparing for this transition, and part of what has helped me gear up for it has been some serious organization, which, for me, is therapeutic.

The house is more nested, drawers and cabinets are streamlined and labeled, and down to the hour, we've tackled who's-taking-care-of-Mari, when she eats, when she sleeps and everything in between (thank goodness for that Bum Book thing). The one thing we don't have is a master calendar. Now that we're a family of three, we've got some management to do at home and with 2012 knocking on the door, now's a perfect time to rediscover my love of wall calendars. Care to join me?
{from Etsy :: Letter C Wall Calendar :: Pitcher Plant Wall Calendar :: More from Letter C Design}
{from Paper Source :: Great Big Wall Calendar :: Art Grid Calendar :: Kraft Grid Calendar}
Calendars make me so happy.

PS: making me even happier these days is when Mari curls up in child's pose. It's real, people. There is such a thing. Babies do sleep in balasana. And it's beautiful.

11.03.2011

saturday morning coffee [cake].

One of Eddie's favorite things in life is coffee. And a close second is coffee cake. So, I've baked a few here and there, and now I really love it, too. I love baking it on Saturday mornings. I love baking it for gifting. For nibbling. Really, for anything, but especially for Eddie.
One of our all-time favs is Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake, which I found thanks to Ashley, who has such good taste and has never steered me wrong (note to self: need to revisit her recipe file). If you are a chocolate lover, this really is the best you'll ever have.

But, if you're a basic coffee cake person, with no fancy additions, just soft, spongey, sugary coffee cake, this is the one for you, and now, it's the one for us. The BC's Sour Cream Coffee Cake (from Barefoot Contessa Parties!, page 37) gets a simple drizzle of maple syrup + powdered sugar to ice it off, and it pairs nicely with College Game Day in the Fall.
I think you should enjoy this this first November weekend.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
From Barefoot Contessa Parties!, page 37
Serves 8 to 10

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks) at room temperature
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups sour cream
2-1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the glaze
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or use this, one of my favorite products) a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream the butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble, like wet sand. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. I found a small cheese spreader worked well in and around the tube pan. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan, spread it out and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer cake, streusel-side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to thin the glaze. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon. Ooze down the side is good.

This cake gets better and better as the days pass. I recommend making it a day before you plan to eat it. If you can wait that long.

*The BC offers this note on cake flour: If you don't have it, you can substitute 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus 1/4 cup cornstarch. Which is what I did. When I realized my cake flour expired in 2010.

11.01.2011

months 2 + 3 must haves.

My goodness, does time fly. We are closing in on four months, and if it's possible, life with Mari seems to get more and more fun with each passing day. She's very busy - learning how to roll over, relaxing in ananda balasana, chuckling a little belly laugh and so much more.

And I've been tracking it hourly, with a quick flip of the page in Mari's Bum Book. It's a little record of her daily activity - sleep, wake, eat, poop, etc. - the riveting stuff that rules my everyday. When I'm trying to find patterns, what works for our baby, when she sleeps best and for how long, etc., this little journal is essential and makes it so easy, all in one place. Plus, it's cute.
So cute. And functional. It's spiral-bound, and there's also plenty of space to jot down daily milestones so I can remember all the little things. And that's the good stuff that I never want to forget.

As I track her progress day-to-day, I'm reminded how quickly things change, and how what we needed to survive the first few weeks has evolved.  We are so grateful to have some things that make life a little easier, and including the Bum Book, here's a quick list of our must haves for the second and third months, as Miss Mari has officially moved on and up into a crib of her own. (Which, for the record, was harder on me than it was on her - but isn't that always what they say?)

+ Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine :: plugs into a wall, and never shuts off until you do it yourself. A never ending alternative to the Sleep Sheep (which we do have and love, especially for travel). It's also iPod compatible.

+ Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack :: pretty to look at, and dries all those pumping accessories and bottles fantastically. It makes washing everything with one eye open much more tolerable, and I don't mind having it on my countertop one bit.

+ Summer Infant Slim & Secure Video Monitor :: did I really need this? I didn't think so. But with it, I feel liberated to sit and blog, or cook, or do millions of other things without feeling like I need to go check on her. With the monitor, she's always with me. Especially in the middle of the night.

+ Gro-Egg Digital Room Thermometer :: ends the 'do you think she's cold'-debate and doubles as a soft night light. For those with unreliable heating systems (read: in beach rentals), this is my new favorite toy. It's also hip looking. Like super hip and cool. Kind of like that grass drying rack.

+ Aquaphor :: for rashes, scratches and all of the above, it's magical. Can't live without.

What's on your list?

PS: South Bay locals: buy your Bum Book (and so much other fun stuff) here. And then go eat next door at Simmzy's.

10.31.2011

sweet day.

Happy Halloween, friends! Hope your day is full of tricks, treats and all things sweet.
Wish I had carved out some time to make a batch of these for tonight's walk down the street with my tiny dancer on her first Halloween. Hope you have a fun day!

10.26.2011

on the brain: christmas stockings.

I've been waiting for a little person to arrive in my life so I could re-think our Christmas stockings, and now that we have a new little family of three, I've been doing some window shopping. Here's what I've found so far.
{From Pottery Barn :: Channel Quilted Velvet Stocking and Reindeer Woodland Stocking}
{From Suzanne Kasler's Collection at Ballard Designs :: Burlap Stocking and Linen Stocking}
I like what I'm seeing, but I'm not in love. I'm as particular about the personalized embroidery as I am about the actual stocking, and it's hard to find something really special... which is why I'm toying with the idea of making stockings for our family. My mom needlepointed (is that a word?) our Christmas stockings, and there's something really special about having something made, just for you, for the most special time of the year.

I thought it might be nice to keep up with the tradition my mom started, but it would involve several hours and re-learning how to sew. I may have already made a trip to Jo-Ann's to get some fabric inspiration. I might even use something I've clipped on Pinterest.

Wheels = turning. Or, maybe this is all crazy talk. But it would be a fun project. I think.

PS: links to stockings welcome, if you have found any you love!

10.24.2011

mom milestone: DIY tutu (aka Mari's first halloween costume).

When I say 'mom milestone,' this one is a milestone for my mom. She's the one responsible for this DIY. While this was a bit of a collaboration, this DIY is as easy as they come - one person need only apply. Unless you have a baby too tiny to stand on her own, and measuring her little belly requires four hands.
Until kids are old enough to know what Halloween is, this holiday really is about what you want them to be, isn't it? So, this should come as no surprise to those who know me best - Mari will be a ballerina for her first halloween. I mean, look at her - she's even got a little bit of a turnout going and she doesn't even know it.

Tutus are everywhere these days, but you can make your own in no time and for very little $, and it's exactly how you want it. Here's what you need:
+ one spool of tulle, which comes in all sorts of fun colors
+ 1/2" band of elastic
+ fabric scissors
+ needle + thread (or sewing machine if you have one)

Here's whatcha do:
1. Measure your tiny dancer and cut elastic to appropriate length. Give yourself an extra inch or two.

2. Measure how long you want the skirt to be, double that measurement and start cutting pieces of tulle. Don't go nuts - cut two dozen or so at a time.

3. Take two pieces of tulle, bend them in half and place the loop just above the elastic band.
Note: for a thinner skirt, you can use a single piece of tulle, but we like pouf in this house so we doubled up.

4. Swoop the loop of the tulle over one side of the elastic and pull the loose ends through, a la step four in my DIY on gift tags.
4. Pull tightly on the loose ends of the tulle to make a knot.
5. Slide it on down the elastic (you want the knots really bunched up).
6. Repeat steps three through five until you have something magical, like this.
7. Once it's ready to wear, measure it again on your little subject and stitch the ends of the elastic band together with needle and thread, or a sewing machine.

I just love tulle, and I'm thinking she might need one for every holiday. Srsly.

10.21.2011

pretty, classic pieces.

The Ethan Allen catalog arrived in our mailbox last week, and I'm loving their beautiful pieces, like...
{brant chair}
{clear glass table lamp}
{antique black clover table}
{genevieve baker's rack}
Happy weekend, all. Next week - come back for details on a little DIY for Mari's first halloween!