Lake Chautauqua

Remember when I was gone for a week to Lake Chautauqua? Well, I thought I’d share a few photos of the trip, and in particular, our party for my nephew William’s 1st birthday, for which I made Smitten Kitchen’s Pecan Cornmeal Brown Butter Cake (which miiight have been selfish, as I personally love that cake, but he loved it too!) with homemade bunting decoration made from an old napkin.

The photos above show you pretty much everything you need to know to make bunting– an old cloth napkin or textile of some sort, twine, scissors, and coffee stirrers. The rest is very intuitive! Cut out the triangles (I made one and then used it as a guide for the others), cut a hole in both corners of the tops of the triangles, string the twine through the holes, and tie the ends to the coffee stirrers. Stick the coffee stirrers into the cake as the poles. Ta-da!

Go over here for the recipe and more images of the cake. I’m telling you, it’s delicious. So delicious, and unique, that I’ve decided this is my go-to cake for any occasion I need to take a cake to.


Above and Beyond >> A Homemade Ascot and Ascot Guide

I would say I pride myself on giving pretty good gifts (although not on remembering actual dates of birthdays or to put things in the mail on time, which does in fact matter just a little bit), but when I come across people who make homemade gifts like this, I am just amazed.

This, all these images, are images of a gift this girl made for her boyfriend’s birthday.  Not only did she sew him an ascot (so he “will be well-equipped if time travel is ever invented”), but she designed and made this accompanying suite of materials to go with it.

It even includes a little according booklet showing how to tie an ascot.

It might not be the most practical gift ever, but just the fact that she would take all that time to think of, design, and make something so detailed is so touching.

Details on how she (Livy, of the blog A Field Guide) made it here.

Handmade Nation >> Sweat Shop Paris

This unassuming cafe in Paris, called Sweat Shop, has become the cool new hangout for hipsters with a penchant for sewing their own clothes/accessories/crafts/etc.
With ten Singer sewing machines, customers can use the cafe like a sewing version of a cybercafe– paying to use the machines either by the hour or for a full day, in which case coffee, tea, and snacks are included.

Above, owners Martena Duss, a makeup artist, and Sissi Holleis, who had her own clothing line before opening the cafe.  In addition to cafe fare and use of the sewing machines, the ladies offer classes on various sewing techniques as well as kits that include all the patterns and materials necessary to make different things…

The whole world is going Handmade Nation… and I love it.

Sweat Shop website here.
NYT article about it here.

Care Package

Ginny Branch Stelling’s mom sent her this sweet care package for Valentine’s day, complete with a heart-shaped cake mold and cake mix so she could make a Valentines cake for her husband.  Isn’t that the cutest?
Ginny’s awesome blog here.

Cans and Bottles + Flowers

Loving this image of old tins being used for plants nestled amongst the books. I love retro packaging, especially tins (coffee, tea, cigars), and turning them into vases is a great use!

(Bottles too– I saved an image a while ago that I now can’t find of old brown bottles lined up on a mantel with white flowers coming out of them that I absolutely loved.)

I like this idea for using tea tins too…

1st, 4th, and 5th images from Design*Sponge, second from Martha Stewart, others from Flickr

i made this for you

I think it’s probably common knowledge by now that I love (love) letters, general world-brightening acts of creativity, and clever sentimentalism, so I find this couple, of the blog Something’s Hiding in Here, to be beyond cute. In fact, I can’t believe they exist in the real world and not an Indie movie starring Zooey Deschanel.

Here, a few of the things they made for each other in their “i made this for you” project.

Shauna had been working on a big project, so Stephen made this sign along her route to work out of paper cups to cheer her on.

Stephen carved Shauna’s initials into a tree in a park where they walk their dogs… love how old fashioned and simple it is. Swoon.

Shauna took out this ad in one of Stephen’s favorite magazines, Uppercase.

And in my unending love of creative public defacement in the name of love/beauty, I of course really like this one. Stephen went out and spray painted hearts on a billboard that faces their loft. He said she was quite surprised when she woke up the next morning and saw it out their window.

found via the wonderful pixelsandarrows

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