All that glitters...

Over the last few years, one of my favorite holiday traditions has become creating ornaments for the annual Freshly Blended Holiday Ornament Swap. Although the "official" swap wasn't happening this year, my group of fabulously creative designer friends kept the tradition alive. Many thanks to Alisa from Sibling for coordinating the whole thing! It's such a rare treat to get actual mail anymore but I honestly enjoy the act of planning, creating and packaging my ornaments even more. It really IS better to give than to receive!

For this swap, I decided to create layered snowflakes from found/repurposed items. I used old tart tins, court documents, poker chips, checkers, pearl buttons and lots of vintage rhinestone jewelry. I had the snowflake shapes laser cut from chipboard and I covered them with GLITTER. The whole process was very similar to the ornaments I made two years ago, so I will spare you all the details. In the end, I was absolutely in love with this set of ornaments. Since I ended up with enough material to make an extra ornament, I was able to snag this beauty for myself. SCORE!

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In total I made 12 ornaments, so this is just a sampling of them all. Like real snowflakes, each one of these sparkly gems is one-of-a-kind! I always have my eyes peeled for pretty rhinestone broaches or earrings and sparkly buttons, so I'm sure to make more of these babies in the future. If only people would stop making broach bouquets! Those bitches are buying up all my supplies! 


Succulent Terrariums

The third Pinterest Challenge hosted by Young House Love couldn't have come at a better time! I had already decided to end the cycle of houseplant genocide that's been taking place in my living room for the last few years. I wanted some sort of greenery to replace the numerous houseplants that have fallen victim to my not-so-green thumb, but wasn't sure what to do. When I saw the terrariums that Brittany created for the last Pinterest challenge, I was completely taken with the idea! Succulent terrariums seemed like the perfect fit since they are lovely and require very little maintenance. (i.e. they are hard to kill!)

Drawing inspiration from Brittany's original "pinspiration" I knew I wanted to create something layered with multiple levels of rocks, moss and dirt. I wanted the layers to showcase the stones I've picked up on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan beaches over the last few years. (Stones and shells currently reside in little Ikea jars tucked away in my office) My original plan was to use tall apothecary jars for the containers but as I shopped I realized that I was drawn to cleaner shapes and open vessels. The jars started to seem like they would be too "fussy" for the look I wanted to create. After a foray to HomeGoods and TJ Maxx I ended up with six possible containers. (Yes, I only planned to make two terrariums but I like to have options!)

For my plant material, I found a wide selection of succulents at both Home Depot and Lowe's. They seem to have recognized the succulent trend and totally jumped on the band wagon. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many types. True, some look like scary alien plants but I found plenty of cute ones. Of course, I bought too many plants as well but I actually needed more than I had anticipated. Sometimes it's good to go overboard! The left-over plants will all find good homes, I'm sure. The last nitty gritty part of the project was the dirt and moss. I picked up a special "Cactus & Succulent" soil and sheet moss at Lowe's to complete my supply list.

So with all my supplies gathered, I started to look at my containers and narrow down the selection. I pared down to three shapes I really liked and then kept editing until I figured out which two shapes worked together and would fit the space I was going to place them in. I ended up with two very simple cylinder vases as the winners!

Next I just layered in the rocks, soil, plants and VOILA! The terrariums took shape. Arranging the plants and rocks "just so" did take a little finagling, so don't worry if you injure a few plants along the way. The succulents can seem fragile since their pudgy little "leaves" break off easily but they are pretty resilient suckers. The broken pieces will just grow back!

As with any project, there are a few things I would have done differently but overall I'm really pleased with the look of my terrariums. Here's hoping we live a long and fruitful life together!


Antique Paperie

I'm super pumped that Antique Paperie, my newest collection for Colorbök, will be premiering at CHA this month! Antique Paperie is totally my style with a cool modern palette, playful patterns and tons of texture. This collection was so much fun to work on because I was able to incorporate an eclectic mix of flea market style and vintage ephemera into the design. If you look closely, you might even find some personal touches (like text from my old family documents, maps from my Grandfather's antique atlas and postmarks from Ann Arbor and Detroit) hidden in the pages.

Look for the collection at Joann's next month. Until then, here's a sneak peek!


Better late than never...

One of my (many) goals for this year is to be better about blogging! It's not that I don't think about it. I've had blog posts stacking up in the back of my mind for over a year. The problem for me is actually taking the time to sit down and type up all the crazy ideas in my head. As someone who sits at computer almost non-stop from 9-5, it's usually the last thing I want to do at home.

So... in an effort to catch up on past "blog-worthy" events, here are the ornaments I created for this year's freshlyblended Handmade Ornament Swap. They are handmade clay snowflakes made by moi, glazed and fired at one of my favorite places in Ann Arbor, Motawi Tileworks. I jazzed them up a bit with cute ribbons and decorated boxes. I'm all about presentation, so I packaged each ornament and embellished each box with paper, ribbon, washi tape and assorted cuteness. I topped off the boxes with a handwritten note and a personalized monogram.

I was very excited to participate in the swap again. (especially since my super talented friend, Alisa was hosting this year) It's always so fun to receive little treasures in your mailbox. Unfortunately, it's rare nowadays to receive even a handwritten letter in the mail, so receiving these small gifts (from strangers!) is a unique treat. This year I sent my ornaments all across the country and around the globe to the UK, Australia and Iceland. (Iceland!!!)

Already looking forward to the next swap...


Swap it up!

I wanted to share all the lovely ornaments I received as part of this year's Freshly Blended Ornament Swap. My group included women across the country from Seattle to Brooklyn, along with participates from Australia and England. I received all but one ornament and each one was a fun surprise in my mail box. The ornaments might not all be my style, but I appreciate the creativity and effort with which they were all made. To showcase the collection, I added the ornaments to a fresh wreath on my front door! Don't they look nice together?

My colleagues at work did our own "sub-swap" as part of the ornament exchange. It was so much fun to see what different sorts of ornaments we each created. The finished products included hand sewn ornaments, clay work, beading and many different types of recycling and repurposing of old materials. I was the lucky recipient of Alisa's Holiday Coo-Coo Clock, which she illustrated and printed on fabric before she sewed it all together! CUTE!


Deck the halls!

After all the fun I had swapping ornaments with Alisa and Brittany last year, I was very excited to take part in this year's Freshly Blended ornament swap. The idea behind the swap is that you create a series of ornaments and send them among the group of 10 people that the blog gives you. A bunch of designers from the office wanted to participate as well this year, so we decided to each make an extra ornament to swap between ourselves in the studio too.

I was inspired by a lovely snowflake ornament I spotted on Etsy that used a vintage brooch at the center. I loved the glamourous antique look, but I wanted my pieces to have a bit more sparkle. I decided to add glitter and metal to the mix to jazz them up. For a month or so I scoured local antique stores for the components of my snowflakes. I bought up vintage earrings, buttons, sheet music and various doo-dads that I thought might work... even old bundt pans. I found plain chipboard snowflake ornaments at Michael's and used Martha Stewart "white gold" glitter to cover them, layering the paper and other elements to create these beauties!

It was so nice to work on a project that wasn't "work" related and just let me enjoy the process of creating just for the fun of it. This project reminded me that I do actually love crafting and creating something beautiful, especially when I can repurpose something old or overlooked and give it new life. I'd like to make more of these ornaments, so I'll keep my eyes peeled for lovely little things that can be used during the next 11 months or so. It will be great to find items at estate sales and such during the summer.

I was really pleased with the way they turned out and was a little sad to have to send my snowflakes on their merry way around the globe. I packaged them up and bid them adieu! I can only hope that their new owners love them as much as I do. Stay tuned to see what all the other designers in the studio created and what fun little treasures I received in return!


Masterpiece Theatre

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I adore Halloween. Frankly, I love any excuse to dress up in costume! Each year at work, my colleagues and I devise an "elaborate" theme for our department. The first year was The Wizard of Oz, but we have also dressed as pirates, pageant queens and the Rockford Peaches from A League of Their Own. This year we quickly agreed to dress as women from famous works of art. This posed a bit of a challenge as many of the most recognizable works of art featuring women happen to nude. (Not terribly work appropriate!)

After much debate, I choose Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère for my costume. Using my rudimentary sewing skills, I altered a velvet blazer and a periwinkle blue bridesmaid dress into a suitable replica of the barmaid's dress. The finishing touch was the highly unflattering blonde wig with blunt cut bangs. Definitely not a good look for me!

My design department is certainly one of a kind! Brittany as Girl with a Pearl Earring, Kristy as a diner patron from Nighthawks, Jody as Andy Warhol's portrait of Marilyn Monroe, Maria as a Roy Lichtenstein pop art painting, Kristina as the Mona Lisa, and me. Together we won third place in the company's costume competition, each walking away with a cool $20 gift card to Target! Sweet!