My friends Freshly Picked and The Alison Show got together as The Craft Pack and made a book full of delightful and easy (really, seriously) DIY holiday gifts. The book is called A Hip Handmade Holiday: Gifts For Everyone On You List For $10 Or Less and I super duper love it. It’s a PDF download and includes nine how-to videos, pro tips and lots and lots of printables.
Susan and Alison gave a presentation at Camp Mighty last month and Alison said (to applause) that if your idea of crafting is printing something onto sticker paper and slapping it on a jar, then this book is for you. There are also project with great instructions that teach you a technique and give some room to improvise if you’d like.
There are projects for women, men, pets, the house, things to treasure for years and those gifts for last minute print-and-glue moments. Susan and Alison have curated their offerings incredibly well so the book offers just a few projects for each category but every single one is gorgeous, clever and well explained. If you want to follow each project by the numbers they’re great, but there is also room to use the technique as a starting point. There are pro tips and how-to videos scattered throughout the book. The printables include every holiday card you could wish for, all the stencils you need and stickers to cover treats served in jars, paint cans and bottles.
I’m highly impressed with the balance they’ve struck here and if this is the type of quality that can come through non-traditional forms of publishing I clearly need to be paying closer attention. Susan and Alison have labeled this book “No. 1″ and I hope there are many more to come.
I’m a little obsessed with the Ho Ho Ho pillows.
Just so you know: If you buy the book through the link here I get a percentage. That percentage goes right back into hosting costs for this here website which are doubling due to higher traffic. This isn’t something I’m complaining about. Just, you know, noting. So thanks.
As a way of saying hello The Craft Pack is offering a $50 Michael’s gift card to Not Martha readers. Yay, thank you The Craft Pack!
If you’d like to enter just leave a message with this post, and if you want answer this question: Have you ever sent a DIY gift to a family member? What was the most successful or the least? (My answer: a trio of candied nuts were beloved, but the hand knit scarves mostly got a polite thank you.) You’ve got until next Tuesday, Dec. 18th at 12 noon Pacific (my) time to enter, at that point I’ll close comments. The fine print applies. Good luck! Closed, thanks to everybody for entering!
· comments  · 12-13-2012 · categories:books · christmas ·
Earlier this year I accidentally donated our pepper grinder to Goodwill. Don’t worry, it was clean. We’d been decluttering the kitchen and my just washed and reassembled clear lucite pepper grinder went into the donate box. I replaced it with this OXO Good Grips Pepper Grinder which isn’t as pretty but I love it. The part you grab to turn is rubberized so it’s easy to grind. But most importantly for me, the actual grinding bits are at the top. You have to flip it over to grind over food but this means that when I retrieve it from it’s little kitchen shelf any loose pepper doesn’t fall out. Which is great because in my awkward and tiny kitchen I store the pepper grinder on a spot over my head. It’s easy to set the grind, and the other end unscrews so there is a nice wide opening for refilling. Two kitchen gadget thumbs up.
· comments  · 12-4-2012 · categories:food · shopping ·
Urban Craft Uprising, the winter edition, is coming up very soon here in Seattle! It’s December 1st and 2nd, 11am to 5pm at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. As usual there are free craft demos and book signings as well as a swag bag for the first 100 people. Don’t wory, if you cannot make it in time to grab a bag they have have an hourly raffle. And this year there is a $1 coat check, so hopefully those aisles will be a little easier to navigate (the show is nearly too popular for it’s own good). I’m excited by all the artisan food vendors they have, and the number of new vendors as well. This is my favorite sort of shopping!
· comments  · 11-26-2012 · categories:holidays · seattle · shopping ·
swissmiss | Pixel Ruler. Why did this not come into my life earlier?
Klein Bottle Openers | Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.
General Store & Community Market | MARKET | west elm. I’m digging West Elm’s curated marketplace.
ThinkGeek :: Portal Cookie Cutters. I want these!
Introducing Mark and Graham at Apartment 34. Erin invites us to see Williams-Sonoma’s latest shop, that will fill your life with awesome monogrammed goods.
My New Hygge and West Wallpaper is HERE!, Lisa Congdon. I am absolutely loving this wallpaper and eyeing my house to see if it might fit somewhere.
Get Cabiria High End Plus Size Into Stores by Cabiria Style — Kickstarter. This campaign looks worth backing, I even fell for the very first dress they show on their Kickstarter page. I love that one of the extras is a coloring book.
· comments  · 11-12-2012 · categories:links · shopping ·
I have serious cardigan envy. I cannot wear wool, not even cashmere, so each year I gaze longingly at the cozy sweaters other people wrap themselves in. This year I decided I needed a big, enveloping Vince-like sweater coat. (A note to Vince: I will pay your Vince-prices if you make me a wool- and yak-free sweater to buy. Please?) I need this sweater so I have something appropriate to snuggle into when I am inevitably seated too close to the front door of a restaurant where the oh so cold air keeps getting let in, my current plan of many layers of fleece and multiple scarves is getting old. Here is what I’ve found so far:
On the left: The Manon cardigan by Line, at Saks Fifth Avenue. I love this sweater so much I’m considering buying a second. The collar is snuggly like a scarf, the sleeves are tight enough that they don’t get in the way when you’re eating dinner, and the nice deep pockets give you a spot to hide your phone. This looks dark gray from a distance but it’s made up of teal and taupe yarns that add some nice depth up close.
(You can also find the Manon in charcoal being sold under the John&Jenn label right now. It’s on sale, so no returns, and note that shipping from that Line specific site, which is in Canada, to the US will be about $30.)
On the right: The Hinge Scallop Cardigan at Nordstrom. This is nice and slouchy, the knit is dense and it feels like it’s hugging you. The sleeve cuffs won’t get in the way, but there aren’t any pockets. As far as beige goes this is a cool toned beige (Stone Cobbler is the listed color). The only reason I won’t be keeping this one is that I personally look terrible in the color no matter how much I keep trying to convince myself I can pull it off.
Does anybody out there have any secret spots where one can find cozy knitwear that is great looking and doesn’t have any wool? Please do share, I’m running out of places to look!
· comments  · 11-1-2012 · categories:shopping ·
Looking for some serious, stylish, comfortable shoes that are New York fashion AND all-day-walking compatible. | Ask MetaFilter. “Here’s a secret for you. One of the reasons New York women carry big hand bags is for their shoes.”
Sally J Shim – Talking Hands Tattoos. Pretty brilliant temporary tattoos.
swissmiss | String Art Necklace.
New at Purl Soho: Utility Canvas! – the purl bee. I love the Utility Canvas bags, and they come in a bunch more colors than last time I checked in on them.
· comments  · 09-28-2012 · categories:links · shopping ·
When I was getting ready to head off to NYC for the HP/Project Runway trip I ran into a neat series of coincidences. I asked Rena Tom for a recommendation and she pointed me towards Sarah Loertscher, a jewelry designer right here in Seattle. Rena wasn’t aware of this but it turns out that Mila Hermanovski (who appeared on Season 7 of Project Runway as well as Project Runway All Stars) had commissioned Sarah to create a jewelry line for her Fall/Winter 2012 runway show. Sarah has a set of earrings, Structure Earrings No.25, from the runway collection for sale on her site which happened to be the same as the pair of earrings Mila wore when she appeared on Episode 3 of the current season of Project Runway. And then I found out that Mila was working with Jamie of Design Milk and would be joining us for the trip.
Mila was delightful and I really enjoyed chatting with her. And on the first day of the trip she wore Sarah’s Hex Bracelets.
Sarah told me that Mila snagged this necklace off of one of the models after the runway show so it became known as Mila’s necklace. She was wearing it at the Project Runway 10th Anniversary Party, shown above.
The earring that Mila wore in episode three of season ten of Project Runway.
The three images above belong to Sarah Loertscher, used with permission. Top image, Left: Mila Hermanovski and Jamie Derringer at the Project Runway 10th Anniversary Party, Mila is wearing a necklace made by Sarah Loertscher. Right: Mila Hermanovski wearing Sarah Loertscher’s Hex Bracelets, photo taken with permission, obviously. Apologies for the small images, both are from my Instagram stream.
· comments  · 09-26-2012 · categories:shopping ·
My friend (and old conference roommate) Gayla Trail has published a delightful book called Drinking In The Summer Garden which is available in both paperback and e-book format. If you’re in the midst of gathering what has grown in your garden, or if you are like me and a little clueless on where to start, this book will be incredibly helpful. It is full of recipes for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, infusions and syrups and a spread of both sweet and savory foods. You can take a peek at some pages over here.
Gayla’s site You Grow Girl keeps up with her gardening and she’s published three books that make even me think gardening and container gardening is something I might be able to handle: You Grow Girl, Grow Great Grub: Organic Food From Small Spaces and Easy Growing: Organic Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces. She’s pretty awesome.
· comments  · 09-6-2012 · categories:books · food ·
I read in bed before going to sleep and usually Scott falls asleep before me so I have to be quiet which is a problem because this book makes me laugh out loud. I insist you go read it. And if you don’t already read Jenny Lawson’s site, The Bloggess, I insist you go read that too. Also she’s on her book tour and, yay!, she’s going to be here in Seattle this Thursday and Friday. See you there, yes? Yes.
· comments  · 08-14-2012 · categories:books · seattle · shopping ·
We recently replaced our dishes because our collection had become terribly mismatched. People, dishes that all stack together make me feel like some bit of my life is set in order. My very favorite new dishes are these low bowls from West Elms’s Organic Shaped Dinnerware. They are a perfect soup plate, which I’ve professed my love for before. They are perfect for salads and pastas and things that include a runny sauce as well as being perfect for carrying over to eat in front of the television. Which we do most nights. Soup plates are, I’ve found out, sort of elusive so I might justify buying more.
· comments  · 08-8-2012 · categories:shopping ·
I’ve mentioned this before: I have trouble feet. They are long and narrow with a high arch and oh-so-tender skin. They are Princess and the Pea feet and generally unfit for wearing heels. So I was really happy to find these Fiddle String wedges in one of my favorite comfortable shoe stores, Clarks. The leather upper hugs my feet well and balances out the weight distribution and I don’t just slide down into the toes (and it nicely hides the blue vein that that stands out so well through my pasty white skin). The cork wedges are lightweight and give enough cushion to keep me happy. When I was trying them on in the store a lady stopped to rave about how comfortable she finds them. Sold.
When I was shopping for bicycles there was one among the batch that felt like a machine built to hold me rather than just a bicycle. That is sort of the same experience I had trying these on, they felt like a thing for my feet rather than shoes. I sound ridiculous, I am fully aware, but for some reason I think that you should know this. Or at least know this is how my brain works. A thing for my feet, there you go.
Let’s just pretend that I am wearing a more compatible toenail color here, and that it had been more recently and expertly applied:
The first time I wore these was to a night out that involved a bit of standing (at the bar at Canon where an insanely delicious cocktail including mezcal and shaken egg white was consumed) and walked a few blocks (to seek out High 5 Pie) and then when I got home I went around opening windows and I didn’t take the shoes off first, they weren’t bothering me. My feet felt great later. It was a world record, um at least when it comes to my feet and heels. So I bought two pairs, the black and the orange. I admit in a fit of indecision I panic-ordered all the colors and I can tell you the orange is a softer and lighter color in person and the platinum is a warmer tone and more metallic than shown online.
So, if you normally find yourself unable to wear heels but find yourself desiring a summer wedge I encourage you to gives these a try. Also they are on sale right now, bonus! At: Clarks, Amazon, Zappos, Endless, Piper Lime, 6pm.
Alright I’m ready for more. Help a girl out, have you found any surprisingly comfortable heels lately?
· comments  · 07-31-2012 · categories:shopping ·
Cool Tools: Hermetus Bottle Opener and Sealer.
Levis at JC Penny – just cheap, or crap? | Ask MetaFilter. I didn’t know this but I’m not surprised: “TJ Maxx totally sells cheaply made just for them clothes under designer names that are carried in major dept stores (my cousin works designing a lot of this stuff).”
Bicycle Frame Handle by Walnut Studiolo — Kickstarter. A handle that sits low enough on the frame to make carrying a bicycle much easier. The time for this has passed but I’m keeping an eye on their site for when they become available. Via Swissmiss.
· comments  · 07-30-2012 · categories:links · shopping ·
Last year I started washing my wavy hair using a modified Curly Girl method*. In short: I avoid harsh shampoos that contain sulfates as well as conditioners that contain silicones, which can be too heavy for my hair type. I wash my hair with conditioner on a daily basis and only shampoo about once a week. It’s been remarkably great for my hair.
When I started researching appropriate shampoos and conditioners the Tea Tree Tingle line from Trader Joe’s was one that came recommended in the Naturally Curly forums. I have been using them ever since. Apparently they are made by a famous salon (I have no idea which) and are just as good as their pricey counterparts.
I had read about people not shampooing their hair for years but I have oily hair and didn’t pay much attention because I figured that wouldn’t be an option for me. It turns out that you can scrub your hair and scalp using conditioner, rather than shampoo, and get everything clean without drying out your hair because conditioners have enough surfectants in them to carry away oils and dirt. This technique has been especially great when I shower in the morning and work out in the afternoon and need to wash my hair again, my hair emerges clean and nice smelling and I don’t have to worry about it drying out. And, I have to admit, there is something very freeing about being able to pile my head full of stuff and massage away like I’m an Herbal Essences commercial. It’s so anti all the “use a very little shampoo and only at the roots of the hair and only a little conditioner but for the love of all that is holy only at the ends of your hair or dire consequences!!!1!” that I was taught in the 90s.
I do use a good amount of conditioner to work through my scalp and down to the ends of my (currently too long) hair so I buy half a dozen bottles at a time but at $4 each it works out to the same amount as a fancy product. Yay!
I’ve included the Tea Tree Tingle body wash in the photo above because it is really easy to confuse the bottle with the other two because, you know, Trader Joe’s is bustling and crowded and it can means you grab what you think is the thing and just want and get the hell outta there without noting that the transparent color of the top of the bottle is slightly less transparent than the bottle you meant to buy. I bought this bottle of body wash by mistake but I have to admit it’s made a great hand soap when diluted and put into a foaming hand soap bottle.
* (To read more about the Curly Girl method read this great wrap up by Laura Lee as well as this list of introductory articles and this recap of method and terms at the Naturally Curly forums.)
Do you have an curly/wavy hair tips? Any products that work great? Please do share, I can use the help!
· comments  · 07-16-2012 · categories:beauty · shopping ·
Urban Craft Uprising, the DIY and crafts fair filled with awesome, is having it’s summer show next weekend. It’s July 7th and 8th from 11am to 5pm and it’s held at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. I’ll be shopping and hope to bump into you there!
· comments  · 06-29-2012 · categories:events · seattle · shopping ·
Summer hasn’t quite arrived here yet but this book has been brightening my overcast afternoons. I’ve been a devoted reader of the Sprinkle Bakes site for ages and am completely delighted by her book: Sprinkle Bakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist. It’s filled with basic recipes and instructions to for incredibly charming and creative desserts. I am completely in love with everything inside.
The instructions are all clearly photographed and explained so you can feel like a rock star while you’re working.
The projects are all so cheerful and unexpected. She provides templates in the back of the book for those things which are a bit more complicated.
These Mehndi Hand Cookies are amazing, right?
I am so very in love with these glittery snow apples. I’m going to make these the moment leaves start falling off the trees.
· comments  · 06-20-2012 · categories:books · food ·