Monday Morning Love - Christmas Cards By Minted

November 18, 2013

The big C word is coming up, and it’s coming up sooner than I’d really like. Every year I promise myself that this is the year that I’m going to get it together and be one of those crazily organised people who has everything done by December 1st. Today is the 18th of November, and with work and school I haven’t really had time to think about what to get anyone for the big C word let alone brave the malls and pick it out.
Bright Season by Chloe and Fanny
Bright Season by Chloe and Fanny
One thing I try to do every year is mail out Christmas cards – in this world of email and text messaging I know the only thing I find in my mailbox on any regular day is bills or a new takeout menu, so I like the idea of an actual physical card arriving in my friends and family’s mailboxes to let them know I’m thinking of them. Buying this years cards have been on my mind for the past couple of weeks, but I just hadn’t gotten up the courage to brave the mall. Then the most magical thing happened – I remembered I could just buy them online (cue embarrassing happy dance).
Yeti or Not by Genna Cowsert
 Yeti or Not by Genna Cowsert
I’d heard of Minted.com in the past, but usually for invitations for wedding and kids birthday parties. When I realised they had Christmas cards I assumed they were those cute ones that people send with pictures of their kids. I don’t have any kids, and I couldn’t really fathom the idea of sending a Christmas card with my face on it so I kinda figured I wouldn’t find anything I liked. I was wrong.
Vintage Bulbs by Stacey Meacham
Vintage Bulbs by Stacey Meacham
Minted has almost 600 holiday cards to choose from, and while they do offer a lot that can incorporate your favourite photo from the past year, they have a magic search filter, and when you click ‘no photo’ you’re left with 373 different cards to choose from.  A much better selection than the local department store where I usually get my boxed cards.
Retro Whimsical Poster by Gakemi Art+Design
Retro Whimsical Poster by Gakemi Art+Design
I was a bit overwhelmed at first, but once I realized I could favourite the ones I liked as I scrolled through the available cards it made easier. My first pass left me with 43 favourites and I whittled it down from there. Once I saw all the cards I had ‘favourited’ in one place it was easy to see that I gravitated to a certain ‘look’, however there were a few different styles that also caught my eye. Some of the cards were easy to eliminate, but some were hard.
Merry Glitter Holiday by Lehan Veenker
Merry Glitter Holiday by Lehan Veenker
I figured that in order for these card to be personalized I’d be able to modify the ‘from’ field.What I didn’t realize was that not only could I change the colour of the card and who it was from, but I could also modify all the text, and even the fonts on the cards. How cool is that?
Polar Bear Wishes by Carolyn MacLaren
Polar Bear Wishes by Carolyn MacLaren
Anyways,  As you can see I’ve whittled my original 43 favourites to just the six in this post, and they’re a rather eclectic bunch. I’ll take a look at them again in a day or so and make my final pick (although feel free to let me know which ones you like). What about you? Do you send Christmas cards? Have you ever bought personalized cards online, or do you buy the boxed ones like I normally do?
*I have been offered a credit on Minted.com, however all opinions shared in this post are mine.


DIY Boot Inserts

November 14, 2013

With fall here and winter rapidly approaching I’ve finally switched out my summer shoes and clothes for my cold weather ones. This means I just moved it all to the middle – I’m not fancy enough or have a big enough home to have separate closets for different seasons. If you’re one of those lucky people to have separate closets then I’m rather jealous. Moving on.

When I pulled out my leather riding style boots I noticed a small problem – they hadn’t fared too well over the long summer months being shoved in the back of the closet and looked a bit forlorn, and well, wilted. I started looking for something easy to DIY to combat the droop but I could only find ones made of rolled up newspapers and magazines or cut up pool noodles – I wanted something a little prettier.
My boots didn't do so well in the back of my closet
At BlogPodium Tonic Living had given all the attendees two yards of fabric and asked us to create something with it and any other fabric we had on hand for an Instagram contest. I decided I’d use my new fabric to make pretty DIY boot inserts. The contest is finished, but I'm rather pleased with my creation so I thought I'd share.

What you’ll need

Fabric – 4 circles and two rectangles
Fiberfill, or stuffing of your choice
Dried Beans (optional)
I used a yard of Varenna in coral, and a sample of Cameron in storm - both from Tonic Living
First you’ll need to measure your boots. For tall boots you’ll want the inserts to be tall enough to support the ankle but still reach the top of the boot. Mine were 14” tall. You’ll also want to decide how wide you’ll want them to be. I decided mine should have a 3” diameter, however once finished I found that a little big – 2 ½” would probably be better.
Cut your shapes. I used a ramekin to trace my circle
Cut out your shapes. Cut four circles to form the top and bottom of your inserts - remember to make your circle a bit bigger for the seam allowance. You’ll then cut out two rectangles.  The rectangles will be the height you’ve decided on for your insert plus about an inch for the seam allowances at the top and bottom. The width of the rectangle will be the circumference of your circle plus the allowance. This is where that high school math you were sure would never use in real life is useful (circumference = diameter times 3.14. In my case it was 3” x 3.14= 9.42” which I rounded up to 9 ½”).
Pin your fabric together to make two tubes
Pin your fabric rectangles right side in to make tubes. You’ll want to sew along the short side leaving your seam allowance. Once those are done you’ll pin one circle to each end of the tube – again, fabric right side in. You may have to fiddle with this a bit, but  I found pinning inwards worked best. You’ll then sew your rounds to the top and bottom of the tube. Take your time – this was my first time attempting to sew anything other than a straight line, and it worked for me with a little patience.
Pin the circles to the tubes of fabric to make the top and bottom of your inserts
Leave an opening at one end of each tube so you can turn it inside out, and then stuff it. I wanted to have a little weight at the bottom of my inserts so I used a cup of dried garbanzo beans, but this isn’t required.
Once you've sewn your inserts turn them right side out, and insert the dried beans
Stuff your inserts well - use a wooden spoon to push the stuffing firmly into the bottom.
I then stuffed my inserts using a pillow I sacrificed as I didn’t have any regular fiberfill. To help get the stuffing to the bottom of my tube I used a long wooden spoon. You’ll want the insert to be stuffed firmly – remember the purpose of the insert is to support your boots. Once they were filled I hand stitched the holes closed.
Stitch the openings closed and then add your finishing touches
To finish the inserts I attached a length of ribbon to the tops using a simple whip stitch, and then added a small bow to the tops. The ribbon in optional, however I wanted to be able to hang my inserts up out of the way when they weren’t in use.
I attached a length of ribbon to the top of each insert
A length of ribbon attached at the top makes your boot inserts easy to hang out of the way when not in use
These were easy to make, requiring limited sewing skills and a bit of patience, and they’d make a great Christmas gift. What do you think? Would you make yourself or someone else some of these?
DIY boot inserts


Monday Morning Love - Chick-A-Dee Smoke Alarm

November 11, 2013

Hi Everyone! Sorry for the radio silence of late - I've been busy, busy with school and work, so finding some time to dedicate to writting has been a little difficult.

Remember that wee video I put together for Para Paints? Well, I'm rather shocked to say that I was selected as one of the 5 new members of the Para Paints Blog Crew!!! How neat is that? The other members are Sarina at Pink Little Notebook, Sara at Saige Wisdom, Meredith and Susan at Newberry Sykes, and Kes and Tash at The Dreamhouse Project. I need to start planning what I'm going to add colour to.

Two weekends ago I had to the opportunity to see the Ai Weiwei 'According to What' exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and it was stunning. If the show comes to a city near you I encourage you to check it out (I believe it's now moved on to Washington D.C). Once I had seen the show I went to do a bit of browsing in the gift shop. The AGO's shop is always rather impressive, and while some of the items are a bit pricey, they always seem to have a few neat things I wouldn't mind bringing home with me.

One item that stood out to me was the Chick-A-Dee Smoke alarm.
Chick-A-Dee Smoke Alarm (image via)
Now, before you think I've gone completely off my rocker consider that the design idea comes from the birds miners used to bring with them to work to detect deadly gas, and more importantly, smoke detectors have got to be one of the more unattractive but necessary things in our homes. I love how this adds a bit of whimsy to a normally unimpressive safety device.

Most of the marketing images I found had it placed in a kids room, but I think it would be fun wherever you would put a smoke alarm. What do you think? Would you buy one for you house?

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