Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Tree Skirt

I got the Christmas tree skirt done three days before Christmas. The tree skirt was actually only in use for a few hours – the presents had to get packed up for the holidays right after this photo was taken. I don’t plan on making another tree skirt in my lifetime, so at least it will get a lot of use for all future Christmases. I also went ahead and made it double sided so if I ever want to change it up, I can just flip it over.

I got the idea from this tree skirt (this design is on a few other of their products as well). It’s essentially the same as the original – only I turned it into a pieced quilt, and have an open center and seam to allow it to fit around the water base for the tree. It’s from this great company, Ferm Living, based out of Denmark. If you’re in Europe, you probably have access to all their beautifully designed goods. In the US, especially in Kansas City, I’ve had a hard time finding their things.

This tree skirt has a diameter of about 47.25". The inner opening is about 14.75" - which is slightly larger than it probably could have been. I can't share the more intricate pattern, since I didn't design it, but thought I'd include the template for the basic pattern piece. Print out the three pages, and use the lines as guides to match up each page (the final pattern piece is close to 11"x17"). Quarter inch seam allowances are included. You will need to cut out 16 of these wedges total. The back of the tree skirt is made out of this simple pattern, using several different green fabrics.

The biggest mistake I made was using two different colors of “white”. I had enough fabric on hand to get half the pieces done, but had to order more. What I thought was Kona Snow, was actually Kona Bone. Oops. Fortunately, you really only see half the tree skirt when it’s under the tree, so I put the darker Bone color in the back. The brighter blue color is a Free Spirit Designer Solid, though I’m not sure which color – maybe Parrot Blue?

I also didn’t realize until after I printed out the templates, that it involved Y seams. I’ve never done Y seams before, and it required watching a few YouTube videos to figure out what I had done wrong the first time I tried sewing it together. In the end, the Y seams weren’t too painful to sew, and didn’t take too much more time – so I’m glad I just went ahead and tried it out.

Happy Holidays! See you in 2014!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Color Inspiration: Blabla Dolls

I first heard of Blabla dolls once my friends starting having children and receiving them as gifts for their babies. I actually just bought one for my niece this year – Colette the Cat. They are a little pricey*, but oh so adorable. One of the things I love most are the color combinations – a little unexpected, cute but still sophisticated. I think they would be fabulous in a quilt. I spent some time with the Kona fabric card and matched up my favorite dolls with color swatches. I’m going to try and do this more often when I see other color combos I like (and hopefully post here as well). It’s always nice to have a little inspiration before starting a new project!

*If you don’t want to spend the money to purchase a doll, they have miniature versions as finger puppets. Much more affordable, and just as cute!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Tree Ornaments

For that past few years we’ve been getting our Christmas trees at Home Depot. It’s close by, they have good prices, good tree selections, and they get the tree all ready for you to take home. By now, we have decided that the Frasier Firs are the best. I like the shorter needles and they aren’t sharp like other trees. We always have fun picking one out each year, and I love having the fresh evergreen scent in our home. Last year we kept ours up until the end of January – oops! I like keeping it up past New Year’s, but that was a little late:)

I have all my ornaments from growing up, but recently I have only been putting a few on the tree each year. This year they are all white ones – which happen to be some of my favorites! The bear is from when I was a little kid, the gnome was from West Elm a few years ago, and the snowflake was made by one of my good friends from college. Each year she makes ornaments out of different materials she finds at the hardware store. I’m lucky enough to get one each year, and it’s always fun to see what her new creation will be. She opened up an Etsy shop this year, and is selling these wonderful snowflakes made out of tile spacers!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Salt Lake City 2012

This time last year me and Jesse took a trip to Salt Lake City*. I had been hearing a lot of good things about the city, and plane tickets were a good price! We had 3 full days in and around the city – and I feel that we accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.

My Top Fives of Salt Lake City: 
1. The Little America & Grand America Hotels: You can spend a lot of money and stay in the Grand America, or pay significantly less and stay in the Little America. It’s right across from the Grand, so even if you stay in the Little, you can still trek over to the larger and fancier Grand America – which you should! One of the best toy stores I have ever been to is JouJou, inside this hotel. There is also a restaurant, cafĂ©/bar, bakery and a few other things as well. Since we were there last year during the holiday season, they had the most awesome window displays – so fun to check out! 

2. The Salt Lake & Antelope Island: The lake is pretty desolate, as there are few living things that can actually survive in/near the heavily saline water. It’s actually a little eerie, and it has a very specific smell to it that I can’t describe. That sounds bad, but it was really interesting! The long road that cuts through the lake ends at Antelope Island. A pretty desolate island as well, though now there are bison and antelope that live there. There’s also a little museum you can check out. 

3. Alta Ski: As a Midwest girl, I did not grow up skiing like Jesse did in Colorado. To be honest, I don’t really like skiing – but I try to be adventurous (and I love the scenery), and Jesse has fun! Since we went early in the season and on a weekday it was pretty empty – less people for me to avoid skiing into – yay! Not that I have much experience, but the snow quality seemed nice and just as good if not better than Colorado. I’ve heard this is where the locals ski, and probably cheaper and less crowded than Park City. 

4. Ruby Snap: Fresh baked cookies… mmmmm. I’m a cookie girl, and this place did not disappoint. Their cookies are represented by vintage pin up girls. We tried several, but my favorite was Penelope, a peanut butter cookie dipped in chocolate. 

5. Temple Square: This was really neat to see, especially at night when all the trees were lit up. Since we’re not Mormon, we couldn’t go inside, but the outside was pretty amazing on its own. When we came back at night, a church service had just finished, and the whole square was filled with people and families, there were luminaries and trees lit up – it was really magical.

Transportation is pretty easy. The Little America is really close to the TRAX stop, and that will take you through the center of the city. We did rent a car for two days, which we took to see the Up House, Antelope Island, and Alta. Public transportation can take you to everything else in the city, and it’s really easy to use. We got in late the first night, so we took a taxi from the airport (only $20 some dollars), but leaving we took the bus, and it went directly to the airport, super easy and cheap. SLC is a very accessible city for tourists. It’s not too big or crowded and everyone was really friendly.

Other places of interest: Capital Theater & BalletWest, Eva, Takashi, Up House, and lots of vintage shops.

*Having been to SLC only once, I'm no expert on the city. But I thought I'd include some things we enjoyed, and things we figured out along the way in case you want to visit someday! I got recommendations from friends and co-workers, and it helped a lot!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Target Gift Cards

I LOVE Target gift cards. I started collecting them several years ago, and am always amazed at the new ideas they come up with. There are two seasons they go all out on their gift cards - summertime and Christmastime. Every store is arranged a little differently, but I tend to find the super fancy gift cards near the greeting cards and the toy section on an end cap of the aisle. 

In many conversations I end up being the unofficial Target gift card ambassador. So here’s the deal – gift cards are free! The only catch is that you have to put a minimum of $5 on each one. But they are gift cards, which means you can turn around and use the $5 next time you’re in Target and they never expire. If you have a smart phone and the Target app, you can even load your gift card amounts directly into that app on your phone (this helps a lot, as I always forget coupons and gift cards when going out shopping).

This year is PEZ and HexBug Bullseye. My favorite Target gift card of all time is when they teamed up with Lego. I too, LOVE Legos. Not only did you get to make a cute Bullseye the dog, but the packaging and illustration was amazing too. The illustration/design company, Invisible Creature, does many of Targets gift cards (including all the ones I’ve shown in this blog post). You should definitely check them out!