Happy Holidays, guys. Get lots of rest this weekend, snuggle with your pets, celebrate the good times, pick up the phone & call people you love, drive safe, & eat too much food. Wherever you are in life or in the world, I wish you peace. Here's to 2017 being the best year yet.
Hey gang. Time is flying and 2016 is almost over. I've been absent, but I promise you guys it's for a good reason.
I got a new job!
Not only did I get a new job, but I'm working for a fantastic blog called Curbly. It's exciting and thrilling and totally different, in addition to being a bit scary. However I couldn't be more grateful for this opportunity. I am still in disbelief that I get to do what I do everyday.
So... what does that mean for We Can Make Anything? I'm not totally sure yet. I love We Can Make Anything. This blog is my baby. I've spent so many hours writing, so many weekends making and photographing things. What started off as a side project has transformed into something I really, really care about. It got me to where I am now in my career path, but I also consider this place my home.
What I foresee happening are the dynamics of this site shifting. I may focus more on wedding-related stuff as Heather & I get closer to our nuptials. I might post more personally - thoughts and stories and stuff. I haven't figured it all out yet, but either way I wanted to check in and let you all know what I've been up to. I get the feeling that a lot of good things are to come, and I'd love it if I could continue to share them with you.
Gold never gets old. Okay, maybe it will someday in the future, but I know I'm not tired of it yet. Here are some shinny ideas for the people in your life who are totally on board with all things gilded.
One of my favorite Thanksgivings of all time was the year my mom decided to do a themed dinner. It was the first in a succession of themed Thanksgivings - including a chocolate-themed year, which made for some amazing desserts & some very strange entrées. The year I loved the most was when my mom cooked cranberry into every dish. I don't remember much of what was made, short of a very, very tart after-dinner parfait (it was that year we all learned the importance of never serving cranberries totally raw). What I do remember is how much fun we all had. My mom cooked from all sorts of inventive recipes that she pulled from the internet - back when there was only one recipe-hosing site, & everything else was on message boards. My older brother, who now runs his own box lunch business, was just discovering his love of cooking & had a blast coming up with experimental ideas. My little brother, a person who has always been a bit adverse to change, kept his eye on the traditional turkey my mom made just for him. Then there was me, who has never been good at cooking, marveling at how my mom managed to make my favorite dish (marshmallow cottage cheese salad) under the Top Chef-like constrictions of the cranberry theme. We all had so much fun was because it was so totally different from how we normally spent Thanksgiving.
Part of the reason I think Thanksgiving can get such low marks on the "Favorite Holiday" scale is because it can feel so rigid. The traditions are kind of limited (e.g. turkey, football, Black Friday shopping, etc.) which can sometimes feel more like a chore & less like a relaxing holiday tradition. For me, Thanksgiving is what you make of it. It's simply a whole day off from work (or two, if you're lucky!) to get together with family & be grateful. A whole day to cook good food, hang out, & maybe watch the Macy's Day Parade. Or not. Whatever you end up doing, it's just about enjoying the day, showing a bit of gratitude, & getting stuffed.
If you have a bit of time before Thursday, I have a simple embroidery project to decorate your table's landscape. They're a little cheeky, but like I said before: Thanksgiving is what you make of it. This year I'm making mine cheeky.
NOTE: READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS FIRST BEFORE STARTING! One of the steps calls for quick action, & I don't want you to miss it!
Lay your napkin on a flat surface. Cut the Dura-lar paper down to letter-sized (8.5 x 11") so it fits in your printer. You can do this by holding a piece of regular paper up to your Dura-lar & cutting around the regular paper. Print the "Get Stuffed" pattern on the Dura-lar paper. Immediately press the wet/inked side of the pattern onto your napkin, & rub the paper in a circular motion to transfer the design. The ink will transfer from the Dura-lar to the napkin.
Follow the lines of the pattern with either a chain stitch or a backstitch, & fill in the leaf. I also added a running stitch along the edges of two of my napkins.
For timeframe reference on how long it takes to make these, I got them all done in the time it takes to watch a 2.5 star-rated Christmas movie on Netflix (nothing says "the holidays are here" quite like terrible acting & hole-filled plot lines). Cheers!
Things have been quiet around our home lately. The shorter days & chillier weather (among other boding transitions) has me wanting to hibernate in a big way. We're also trying to put away a bit of money for holiday shopping & future plans, so we've been keeping out weekend activities pretty low key. This weekend I still have a bit of menu planning to do for Thursday (man did Thanksgiving creep up quick), I want to really get down to business on my wedding dress, & it's supposed to snow!
It's finally sociably acceptable to listen to Christmas music (although I haven't been letting that stop me to be completely honest). My current jam is Pandora's "Hipster Holidays" channel. Lots of Sufjan Stevens mixed with the classics.
It's that time of year again, guys. Christmastime's a'comin! Here are a few gift ideas for the people who love plaid in your life (although based on the fashion around here, I suspect they all live in Minnesota). Heather's on a mad plaid kick right now, & it's beginning to wear off on me. I asked her for her input on the matter, & she said the following: "Plaid is where it's at."
Happy Monday - here's hoping you all had a restful, peaceful weekend. I'm back with another collection! This time's the hoard-ish stack of fortune cookie notes I've been gathering since high school.
I'm not sure why I'm impulsed to continue to save fortunes. When I started, I had grand plans of making an dress entirely out of them, but now at 27 years of age it's evident I'll never be able to eat enough Chinese food to accomplish that goal. Which perhaps is for the best - that would be a lotof takeout. Yet I keep collecting them. Rifling through my stash this weekend was kind of sweet. Some of the fortunes are weird (my favorite being one that warned me of "boats and water" in my future), & others I have taken to heart. In looking for hope everywhere I can at present, it was nice to read encouraging little messages, even messages by way of cookies.
My favorite reads: "Unity is strength." Right now as much as ever I hold that true. We need unity right now, unity for what is sensible & sane, unity in fighting against hate & discrimination.
Here's one more from my collection that I'll leave you with:
"The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart."
Don't lose heart, my friends. Unify, strengthen, be courageous.
I think we all can agree, you have been a rough year to stomach. While I'm looking forward to putting you in the past, dang are you flying by.
Oops. My bad. Maybe we'll catch up next year?
I'm not going to let you sneak up on me like your friend Halloween did. I see you there peeking around the corner. I'm ready for ya.
Last year Heather & I celebrated Thanksgiving with some of her extended family. This was awesome because A. Heather's family get-togethers are always a loud & rowdy time, & B. We did not have an actual table in our apartment to eat at for our Thanksgiving dinner. This time around we're more prepared. We have a table, we're working up a menu, & I'm attempting to create a happy little tables scape. These place card holders are totally unnecessary at our Thanksgiving (two seats with two people doesn't leave a lot of room for seating debate), but I love any excuse to DIY something.
Black & white polymer clay
An x-acto knife
Gold leaf paint
Pliers (not pictured)
First, mix your white & black clay together to make variants of gray. Your largest amount of clay should be closest to white, with the smallest amount the closest to black. Next, mix all the variants of gray together. Don't mix them thoroughly - just enough to get a marbled look without mixing them to the same hue. Divide your marbled clay in balls roughly the size of a half dollar.
Place your divided clay in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Cooling the clay will help keep the shape as you handle it in the next step.
Using an x-acto knife, cut away at the clay. Cut as randomly as you like, just make sure you cut the bottom flat so the placeholders sit steadily.
Next, use pliers to bend your wire into a holder. Bend the wire into a triangle about two inches up, bend another triangle behind the first, then wrap the end of the wire underneath both triangles.
Stick the wire holders into the top of each marbled placeholder.
Bake for 10 minutes at 275º.
Once cooled, paint the bottom half of each clay piece with gold leaf.
Our T-Day menu so far includes some of the standards: a vegan roast (maybe stuffed with cranberries?), some type of green bean, & mashed potatoes with brie cheese.
Happy Friday! This next week is going to be a doozy. Here are some of the things on my docket: I'm going to vote early (hooray!), I'll be doing some major work on my wedding dress (I'll have to write more in a later post about the amazing power of coupons & how I've only paid $100 in materials so far), & we'll be planning our Thanksgiving menu, plus trying to find a vegan roast (fingers crossed our local vegan "butcher" has one).
Daylight savings ends on Sunday, which means we get a whole extra hour of sleep this weekend! AND THE ELECTION IS ON TUESDAY THANK GOODNESS. HAPPY LINKS
I'm not sure what the scientific reasons are behind it, but autumn always conjures up nostalgia. It's the only season (for me, at least) that feels fiercely familiar each times it rolls around. Back when I was an angsty teen, the arrival of colder weather would inevitably make me brood hardcore as I woefully re-remembered past embarrassments & pitfalls. Nowadays I use autumn to fondly relive old memories (& to wear a lot less eyeliner). I'm feeling the fall spirit like 24/7 because the leaves are SO CHANGING, plus I can buy pumpkin-flavored-anything basically everywhere. I'm in sweater-mode everyday, & spruced up one of my knitted shirts this past weekend with some elbow patches. So cozy, so fall.
I'm a big proponent of mending clothes rather than throwing them out, but I've gotta say: I've never had to patch elbows that have worn out. I don't know if I just have good table manners or what, but I don't put a lot of stress on the elbow-part of my shirts. That being said, elbow patches are adorable & I've been itching to try this out since last winter.
First, print out the elbow patch pattern. Cut out the patch shape. Next, put your sweater on & locate where your elbow hits on the sleeve. You may need a friend for this part, as navigating the back of your arm can be tricky. Use the pattern as a guide & place safety pins where the top & bottom of the patch should be in relation to your elbow. If it helps, you can pin the pattern piece to your sweater to get an idea of where it should sit. Take your sweater off & mimic the placement of the safety pins on the second sleeve to that of the first.
Cut two identically sized pieces of both the vinyl & the Heat'n Bond, large enough to fit two elbow patches. Per the Heat'n Bond instructions, lay the Heat'n Bond paper-side up on the vinyl, which should be facing right side down. Using a warm & dry iron, iron the Heat'n Bond to the vinyl using circular motions.
Trace two of the pattern shapes on the paper-side of the Heat'n Bond. Cut both shapes out. Remove the Heat'n Bond paper backing.
Lay the patches right-side up on your sweater, using the safety pins as guides. Place a cloth in-between the iron & the vinyl, & per the Heat'n Bond instructions, iron the patches in place. It is very important that you never place a hot iron on the right-side of vinyl. Vinyl is mostly plastic, so it has a tendency to melt. Always use a cloth as a barrier when ironing vinyl.
Take your embroidery floss & divide it in two-strand sections. Feed the two threads through a sturdy needle, & tie the ends together (giving you the strength of four threads). Stitch your patches in place. Pro tip: it helps if you keep one hand inside the sweater at all times when you're sewing.
Fall fashion > any other fashion. Happy Monday, gang!
I want to be outside all the time.ALL THE TIME. It is just so dang PRETTY outside. This past weekend we went for a nice little hike at Minnehaha falls (Re: these frozen snapshots from last winter), which is conveniently sandwiched between us & Saint Paul, Minnesota. All I felt was a massive sense of fortune as we were hiking around, "ooh-ing" & "ahh-ing" at all the vibrant colors in the trees. I'm so lucky to live here! I thought I might regret moving to a place that's so land-locked, maybe that I'd feel trapped somehow. Nope. Not missing having a coastline, even a little bit. Besides, this is the land of 10,000 lakes, people! Plus rivers & waterfalls to boot. Technically it's the land of 11,842 lakes, which would make for a less-catchy tagline. Either way. Gorgeous weather, gorgeous trees, gorgeous leaves. Plus it was just chilly enough for me to wear this cozy cowl I finished up the other day. Which, by the way, can be completed in the time it takes to watch two presidential debates.
Dang, Minnesota. You cute.
If you do have a few hours to spare, this is a super simple cowl which uses the same knit-lookalike stitch I previously used to make boot cuffs last autumn. Although if you do have a few extra hours in your day, I would highly recommend just going outside & embracing the change of the seasons. Except for my southern friends. I hear it's still in the 90s down there, & I'm weeping for y'all.
To make your own comfortable cowl, follow the pattern below.
What a week, gang. I know spooky Halloween is right around the corner, but there are way scarier things happening in politics right now. When the first presidential debate aired a few weeks ago I watched it night-of. I got so little sleep due entirely to how angry that debate got me. The second time around (last Sunday), I decided to watch it the day after & be riled up in the daytime. Guys, I haven't stopped being pissed off since. UGH.
In other news - it's freezing here. I wouldn't be surprised if little Minnesotan trick-or-treaters had to visit houses in the snow. I really need to unpack all my winter gear because the cold has officially arrived.
It's almost November 8th (or 28th if you're voting for Trump), which means all of this is almost over & we can get back on Facebook again without wanting to smash our faces into the keyboard. HAPPY LINKS
Just kidding. This is my test dress. But my test dress is done!
I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty stressed about messing up my actual bridal gown. Lining, zippers, hemlines - there are a lot of areas to make mistakes in. Sewing together this test dress helped calm a bunch of those frazzled nerves though. Getting to actually wear my "dress" before making it is super comforting. The one downside to making your own wedding dress is not getting to try it on first. There isn't the luxury of going to a bridal store & figuring out what "shape" works best with your bod.When picking out my pattern, I chose one that I knew would look good for my shape. It's a combination of dresses I've worn before that I know I feel confident in, mixed with some in-home testing (i.e. putting a belt on with a dress to figure out the waistline). The pattern I picked didn't fit all my criteria for the shape (namely the length), but I was able to select one that would build the main bodice exactly how I envisioned. Even after getting a good idea of how the whole plan would play out, I still didn't feel totally confident moving forward. That's where Test Dress came in to play.
I made this replica of the dress from cheap muslin fabric. I didn't flush it out entirely - there's no zipper, lining, etc. It's just all the pattern pieces cut out & stitched together. I feel way better about the pattern I picked now that I have something physical to try on. And I love the shape. Plus I was able to test out the alterations in making to the length of the actual dress. I'm still nervous - boning & lining are some of the things I'm fretting over - but I'm so excited at the same time. More to come soon - now to buy the actual fabric.
As a person who loves animals but also loves staying trendy, I have seriously conflicting feelings about leather. Leather is cute! Leather is hip! I want to wear leather stuff without actually wearing leather, ya know? That's why when I saw a whole bolt of this deceptively-leathery fabric in the clearance bin at the fabric store I got so pumped - because it's vinyl! Which means not only is it animal-free but it's also way cheaper than actual leather. When I saw it I knew immediately that I wanted to make a shoulder bag. With fall fashion in full swing (IT'S FALL, GUYS. GUYS. I'M SO EXCITED), the color & feel of this bag feel spot-on for my sweater-y wardrobe. Plus it's just the right size for weekend trips to the farmer's market or last-minute happy hours.
This bag is very easy to make, & will work with essentially any non-stretch fabric. It's basically three pieces of fabric sewn together, plus two handles, then done! A quick note about pinning before sewing (which you should do when making this bag, as the bottom corners are tight): When pinning vinyl, I recommend you don't. I say this because any holes put in vinyl are there to stay. Rather than holding the pieces in place with straight pins, I use masking tape. Not along the seam (the tape will make your sewing needle gum up), but just before & past the seam. It holds all the pieces together, & it doesn't leave any marks behind.
Also, before you start sewing your vinyl, don't forget to use this this handy-dandy trick to make sure the vinyl feeds through you sewing machine smoothly! This trick comes in handy when top-stitching the handles.
I didn't mean to buy this fabric (although I'm glad I did, because this bag has already become my catch-all / go-everywhere bag). I was at the fabric store to buy muslin for my test-wedding-dress. It's really tricky, however, to go into the craft store & not stray from the list. I went in for muslin & came out with vinyl, yarn, linen, & a few other materials that'll be showing up in upcoming projects. Oops. Also, my test-dress is done, & I'm so happy I took the time to make it! I'm feeling really confident about the pattern I picked & the overall look & shape of the dress. Eek! Updates on that soon.
“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.”
― Gertrude Stein, Selected Writings
Did you guys celebrate National Coffee Day on the 29th? I, for one, believe coffee should be celebrated every day of the year. I can't start my day without a little party in my cup... then another party closer to noon in my second cup. If you can believe it, I'm actually drinking coffee right now as I write this. Eeesh.
For my fellow caffeinated friends, here are some energizing posts from the past to help you celebrate the magical powers of coffee (from left to right):
Woah buddy. Fall is finally here & I have no shame in saying that I have been anxiously awaiting its arrival. Let's face it - the best of everything happens in cooler weather. The best fashion (layers), the best beer (e.g. pumpkin ales), the best outdoor activities (everything is better when you're not sweating just by being outside). The leaves are a'changin' & I feel great about it. Goodbye tank tops, hello sweaters.
Speaking of sweaters, my fall/winter look consists basically of just that: comfy sweater paired with skinny jeans & a nice boot. That's literally what I look like every day after the temperatures dip below 60º. I (gleefully) got all my knitted tops out of storage this past weekend & was a bit blown away by how many I have. They're not all pictured here, mainly because I couldn't get the pile that high without it toppling over. I have no shame in my sweater-collecting game. I like to think of it as being well-prepared in this midwest climate.
Halloween is coming up so soon! That's another reason I love fall because Halloween is one of the best holidays ever hands down. Do you have a costume idea yet? Leave a comment letting me know! I'm thinking maybe I'll just wear my whole sweater collection at once & go as Joey from Friends in that one episode.
What's better than one sweet succulent plant on your windowsill? Two succulents, duh! Or three, or four. I'm going to be honest - now that I've figured out how to propagate succulents, I'm not gonna stop. I'm just going to have a house full of plants (#plantladyisthenewcatlady). This plant here was my first attempt at propagating succulents, & I've already got a second one underway & showing adorable little roots. It's seriously exciting, especially after undergoing a streak of killing every succulent I purchased (like all of these poor babies). Propagating is my new favorite thing, & I had no idea it was even an option before I found out about it. I came across a post via Pinterest & was like, "Whaa? No way." But yes way. You can grow lots of little baby plants with your big mama plant. I'm convinced it's magic.
First you'll need to collect leaves from your original succulent plant. The best leaves are the ones that easily give way as you pull them from the plant. Their stems should come off cleanly, like the ones in the above picture. Next, let the stems callous over. Place your leaves on a paper towel in good light (like a windowsill) for a few days to a week, until the ends of the stems are callous.
Once your leaves are ready, lay them in damp soil. Choose soil that is made for succulents & cacti (i.e. quick-draining soil). Keep the soil damp as the roots take root. It will take days or weeks for the leaves to begin to sprout mini-leaves of their own.
Over time the original leaves will wither away, letting the new plants take root.
Ta da! New plants! Plus the pride of being a new plant mama.