Friday, December 30, 2011

decluttering…and giving back

Many Etsy shops, like Austin-based Paloma's Nest, donate proceeds of their sales to great causes. These Heart in Hand Ornaments go to the Red Cross of Central Texas.
I’ve decided 2012 is going to be a great year. And Monsieur Moulin and I are already taking steps to better ourselves for this new and improved year. One of these major initiatives is decluttering our home. There is no reason I should have half the stuff I own – do I really need that ticket stub from the second Harry Potter movie or floppy disks from college? Or baby T’s I know I’ll never fit back into or the shoes I bought two years ago that still have the sticker on them? Don’t judge…I know many of you are borderline hoarders as well. We all tend to hold on to more than we need for some baffling reason.  
As I’m cleansing my home, thus cleansing my life, I’m setting many of my belongings aside for a local battered women’s shelter. This year at Christmas, my family’s overarching theme was “giving back” – revisiting the real meaning of Christmas many of us tend to forget. We are so fortunate and sometimes forget how others are not so lucky. So for our grown-up gift exchange, part of our gift to each other was to donate time or money to a cause your person felt passionately about. We gave to the SPCA, Armstrong Foundation, Susan G. Komen, Genesis Shelter, Houston Firefighters Foundation, North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary, our local children’s hospital and the Salvation Army, among others. My entire family invested a lot of emotion and love into this meaningful yet simple gesture, and it was such a wonderful memory. We also had a family canned food drive and donation pile, which continues to build as we go through our belongings.

So may I recommend rummaging through your closets, starting fresh this New Year, and giving back to a local cause that could truly use your old coats, clothes, toys and shoes. But leave behind your ticket stubs and floppy disks – that stuff really is trash. Just let go :)

If you're looking for creative and unique gifts that give back, consider this Needle Felted Cow by Send Sunshine, which donates proceeds to Farm Sanctuary in an effort to protect farm animals from abuse.

This Embroidery Pattern by Penguin and Fish sends proceeds to the SOS Children's Villages Haiti Relief Fund.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

24 hours of a christmas story

I triple dog dare you. Photo: TBS
It has begun. And yes, our family keeps it on for the full 24 hours. Although we may not watch the movie one full time in its entirety, we do manage to piece it together over the course of the day. This movie classic couldn't capture the magic of Christmas more - the friendships, family dynamics, lights, traditions, Bumpuses (we currently have five dogs in our house…). We look forward to 7:00 every Christmas Eve so we can quote things like, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid”, “I can't put my arms down!” and “They looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.” It really does bring you back to that magical time when you were a kid at Christmas. True story: I stuck my tongue to a telephone pole when I was about 8 years old. It sticks. Trust me.

May you have a wonderful Christmas, and I hope you get the Red Ryder of your dreams – whatever that may be.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

tinsel

Gorgeous tinsel - and printable tags - as seen on Grey Likes Weddings. Totally obsessed with this color palete.
I’m easily distracted by bright, shiny objects, and tinsel is no exception. Who doesn’t have a sense of 1950s nostalgia when they catch a glimpse of glittery tinsel goodness adorning a Christmas tree, present or wreath? But here’s my question: Why must tinsel only be used around the holiday season? I say let’s make tinsel a year-round embellishment that we incorporate in our party d├ęcor  and miscellaneous craft projects. I know you don’t want to put away ALL your Christmas decorations after the holidays (it’s such a sad feeling…) So let’s embrace the tacky and find new, creative ways to use tinsel.  

Fun fact: Wikipedia tells me that tinsel was invented in Germany in the early 1600s and was originally made of shredded silver. Fancy!

Tinsel drink stirrers on Martha Stewart. Would be so much fun for a cocktail party.

Monday, December 19, 2011

recipe cards

Kraft recipe cards by OhHelloMagpie
I’ll admit it – my husband is the chef in our household. However, I hold the baker’s title. I LOVE to bake, and the fact that I have my lime green stand mixer makes baking a dream. I also love a good, old fashioned recipe card. Online recipes are super convenient – I’ll give them that. But there’s something wonderful about holding a hard copy in your hand, especially if it’s on a beautiful recipe card. If you do a search for recipe cards on any number of craft/design blogs, it will lead you on an incredible journey of recipe styles, colors and themes. And if you’re going to a holiday cookie exchange party this week, you’re in luck! Here are a few (printable!) recipe cards I would welcome to my recipe box any day.

Holiday recipe card - and tags!- from Joy Ever After
Side note: these gift tags are adorable.
Milk and cookies freebie by Creature Comforts
Simple, colorful cards by Love Vs. Design. Via How About Orange.
Owl recipe card by My Owl Barn.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

calligraphy

A day in the life of a calligrapher. Love, Jenna does amazing work. Breathtaking.
I have long admired the art of calligraphy. And the holiday season, with its Christmas cards and holiday parties, allows this craft to shine. Last night I took a intro to calligraphy class through Oil and Cotton (which is such a great venue – you really should check it out), and I learned just how intricate, time consuming and elegant calligraphy really is. And we were just learning basic italics.

Today, there are so many forms of calligraphy. If you’re handwriting challenged, Dafont has quite the selection of beautiful fonts to choose from that you can download right to your computer – no nibs or blood/sweat/tears necessary. But, of course, you can also reach out to a local calligrapher to create custom masterpieces that make your wedding invitations or holiday cards that much more special. Andrea Estrada taught our class and has been practicing calligraphy since the sixth grade! 

Images featured on 100 Layer Cake. Calligraphy by B. Dunlap. Images by Jackie Wonders
Romantic calligraphy by Dear Darling.
Calligraphy letterpress by The Byrd Collective

Monday, December 12, 2011

mutts

Marty Man has the sweetest heart. But he is such a boy (a gross yet endearing trait).
Photos by Frances Moulin
Perhaps everyone thinks they have the best pets in the world. And maybe I'm a little bit biased. But, I must say, we really do have the best pets in the world. Our three pups, Lucy (the super diva), Marty McFly (our special boy) and Gus (who started out as a foster and somehow weaseled his way into our family) bring such joy and happiness to our lives. They're crazy, messy and Lord knows they're expensive, but it's completely worth it. My favorite moments are when we're all lying on the couch watching a movie and we've got Lucy on the couch cushion, Gus on the chaise and Marty (the biggest of them all) in our laps. One of my favorite sayings is from a dish towel in our kitchen: "In a perfect world, every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog." Or three.

Weighing in at an impressive 11 pounds, "Goose" rules the roost and shows the boys how it's done.
We tried the whole foster thing, but Gus knew where he belonged. And we are thankful for that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

rifle paper co.

Photos from Rifle Paper Co.
It's that time of year again. When you start stressing about your Christmas cards. I don't know about you, but this is how my brain works right about now: 1) We've got to take a picture. 2) Meaning we've got to put up our Christmas decorations. 3) Then I've got to select the perfect card. 4) Should it be silly, artsy, traditional? Should we include a brag letter? (just kidding) 5) Oh no - we've received our first card from someone who was clearly more prepared than us - must hurry!

Well, if you want to skip this entire crazy process, consider getting your Christmas cards from Rifle Paper Co. Sure, they don't have your photo on them, but do your friends really need that picture of you with your dogs in Santa hats (again)? Rifle Paper Co.'s cards are whimsical, unique and absolutely georgeous. And if you want to get really creative, Rifle Paper Co. can create a custom illustration of your family. I mean, come on. Who wouldn't be impressed (and maybe a bit jealous)?

Rifle Paper Co also has the most precious gift tags and 2012 calendars you've ever seen.

And i love their new French cards - not Christmas-related, but precious none-the-less.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

my mom

Happy Birthday, Mom! I admire so much about you and thank you for your love and support throughout the years. I'm grateful to have you as a mother, confidant, hero and partner in crime. I wish we could be together today, but know that you are in my heart "for all the days."
xoxo, Boo

You always encouraged me to be creative.
And have been there for all of life's moments - big and small.

Monday, December 5, 2011

the dallas flea

Photo by Frances Moulin
I had heard of the Dallas Flea, but never actually had a chance to attend - until this weekend. And it was such a treat. I went to UT and lived in Austin for four years, so when I stumble upon a young, artsy scene in Dallas, it literally warms my heart. The Dallas Flea is not at all to the scale of Canton or McKinney Trade Days, but this experience is less overwhelming and more personable (and it's indoors!). Some of my favorite vendors included Blue Eye Brown Eye, a letterpress printer in Fort Worth; Austin-based textile artist Leah Duncan; and unique jewelry designer f is for frank. And not to mention, barbeque favorite Off the Bone was there serving pulled chicken sliders and ribs in a cup, and Ruthie's Rolling Cafe made an appearance serving gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches (yum!!).

hello! card by Blue Eye Brown Eye
2012 calendar by Leah Duncan
Gorgeous necklace by f is for frank

Friday, December 2, 2011

stila lip glaze

Photo by Frances Moulin
I love Christmas for so many reasons - the music, the weather, the lights, the holiday spirit - but there's another seasonal treat I anticipate all year, and that is the special edition Stila Lip Glaze set. Sure, they have smaller trios year-round that do the trick. But this time of year, they release a lip gloss set with eight - yes, eight - gorgeous shades (most of which have a bit of sparkle, which I so appreciate). My husband has made it his "thing" to get this for me every year - this year I didn't even have to ask (I've done well, ladies). I also found this beautiful "Pocket Palette" at Urban Outfitters - perfect winter shades for a gal on the go.


And, no I did not get paid for this mention by Stila or Urban Outfitters - they don't even know I exist :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

advent calendars

DIY advent calendar from the marion house book
I love the idea of counting down the days to Christmas with a creative and unique advent calendar. Such a wonderful way to get in the mood for the holiday season. Gone are the days of your grandma's embroidered advent calendar, where you moved the mitten from one square to the next. Create a calendar that suites your home/style, and spice things up with some twine, kraft paper, washi tape, tinsel, clothespins...And make each day just a bit more special with a hand-wrapped treat that you can open with your children or loved ones. What? December 1 is tomorrow? Better get to craftin'...  

hanger + tinsel + hot pink tags + kraft paper gifts = advent beauty from FRYD + DESIGN
DIY from The Little Red House. Perfect for someone like me who may have waited until the last minute.
Advent tree. Brilliant. Censational Girl

Monday, November 28, 2011

carrot cake

Photos by Frances Moulin
I like carrot cake. But Monsieur Moulin loves carrot cake. So every year on his birthday, I make his mom's famous carrot cake. And it's delicious. The fall flavors blend seamlessly together - cinnamon, pecans, carrots, cream cheese icing (no? not a fall flavor? well, it goes beautifully with fall flavors...) I displayed the two-layered goodness last night (pictured here, on my favorite cake stand), and we dug in as if we hadn't already had tons of pumpkin and pecan pie this weekend. And my husband may have had another piece for breakfast. Bonnie Moulin's Carrot Cake recipe is below, and you need not make adjustments - it's perfect as-is.
ingredients
1 ¼ cups oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3 cups grated carrots (start working out now…)
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
icing
1 ½ sticks butter
8 oz cream cheese (the real stuff)
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
3 oz cream
directions
-        combine oil and sugar. mix well
-        mix together remaining dry ingredients
-        sift half of the dry ingredients into sugar mixture and blend. sift in remaining dry ingredients, alternating with eggs – one at a time
-        add carrots and mix well. mix in pecans
-        pour evenly into two lightly oiled round pans
-        bake in oven at 325° for 1 hr. 10 min
-        cool in pans upright. remove from pans and frost with cream cheese icing

Thursday, November 24, 2011

giving thanks

I don’t think we do this enough. It’s often difficult to appreciate the little, day-to-day blessings we receive when we’re continually stressed about work, deadlines, loved ones, babies, etc. But Thanksgiving – one day out of the entire year – allows us all to take a break, breathe in the cool air and let those around you know that you are thankful. For them. For life. For love. For friendship. This year has certainly had its ups and downs for me personally, but I thank my lucky stars for my husband, home, pups, family, friends, health and job. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to pause, reflect and give thanks for the people – and the little things – that make your life happy.

Thanksgiving pie topper on Oh Happy Day
 Friendsgiving party printables on The Sweetest Occasion

Monday, November 21, 2011

seam binding ribbon

Seam binding ribbon. Photo by Frances Moulin
Seam binding ribbon was traditionally used to bind the edges of fabric to keep it from fraying or unraveling. But lately, crafters have been taking it to new heights (myself included). Seam binding ribbon comes in so many beautiful colors, and its flowy and delicate nature allows us to use it for gifts, scrapbooking, tags, garland and more. I buy my seam binding ribbon from a charming boutique in McKinney, Texas called Smitten, but you can find it on Etsy shops like Inspire Lovely, The Gilded Bee and AR Creations. You can also find beautiful silk ribbon (equally as elegant) on BHLDN. I encourage you to go forth and create something unique and inspiring with seam binding ribbon - and let me know how it turns out!       

Used as gift wrap on The Gilded Bee

 Wrapped around a soft bouquet. Photography by Cameron Ingalls as seen on Style Me Pretty
A precious cake skirt by Martha. She also has a DIY for a matching ribbon chandelier.