Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year journals: the perfect New Year's gift

I am a sucker for journals.  

I buy them all the time...small, large, lined paper, blank paper, ultra girly, ultra modern, spiral bound, book bound, cloth cover, handmade paper doesn't really matter.  I just love the idea of having a place to record my thoughts.  Actually this obsession with having a written record may have led to this blog.

Food for thought.

Anyway, I was trying to think of a New Year's gift that would speak to what everyone does at the beginning of the year- make goals for the next year and reflect on the year that has past.

I decided that a set of journals (one for each month) would be a perfect way to keep track of goals and also have a record of the important events that are shaping the year.

1. I started with seasonally themed paper-  picking one design for each month. 

 I chose photo-realism scrapbook paper for my covers, but any paper would work.

2. I then decided on the type and size of paper I wanted for the journal pages.

I chose 60 lb. fine tooth sketch paper for my journal pages- my journals often turn into sketchbooks, so I like having a nice quality paper available just in case I want to draw something that comes to mind.

I also chose this paper because it was already the size I was wanting and the pages were perforated for easy removal - the less work, the better, when making multiples : )

3. After tearing my pages out, I cut the journal covers to be one quarter inch larger (all the way around) than the journal pages. 

4. Count out eight journal pages and mark the halfway point (on the top and bottom) of the paper with a ruler.

5. Draw a light line down connecting the points.  Center the stack of eight pages on the cover, and secure with butterfly clips.

6. Sew down the center line, making sure to go very slowly.  (If you go too quickly, the needle will punch the holes too close together and the back of the book will split when you fold it in half)

7.  Trim off the excess thread and gently erase any pencil marks that still show.

8. Now, all you have to do is fold the journal in half.

When you get done, the journals are the perfect size for you (or whoever you make them for) to reflect on the month ahead.

Stack them up, bound them with twine and write a nice note or an inspirational quote.  Why not be that person that gives others an outlet to share of themselves : )

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!!!!

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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Friday Five

My mom's home-made waffles...I think the waffle iron is the key.  
At least I tell myself that since I can not, for the life of me, reproduce them...soooooo good.

Christmas night preparations- carrots and water for the reindeer...specifically requested by Santa. 

One of my favorite presents- Happ and Stahns solid perfume from anthropolgie.  Everything about it is unique and romantic...smells amazing too : )

 Sweetheart.... I think that's it...

Bella...darling...I really do think you have gotten everything out of Santa's bag...

Taking one last look at the all of the colors, glitter and lights...
before taking it all down...
leaving the house looking so sad and lost...
already longing for next year .

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Friday Five

Almost nothing makes me happier than buying new paint  : )

My grandfather's sewing kit from WWII

 Watching the first presents of Christmas being unwrapped

 My grandparents 70th anniversary party 

Taking a moment...regaining my sanity...while my girls are absolutely losing it in the car.

Life is so good : )


Thursday, December 22, 2011

4 ways to recycle your wrapping paper

As Christmas gifts are being exchanged...I find myself focusing on something other than the joy of Christmas.  Last night, my family had the first of many celebrations that will take place in the next few days.  I watched as packages were being opened, and all of the used wrapping paper was shoved into garbage bags.

I am not a recycling fanatic, but there are some things that bother me enough that I can't stop thinking about them. Instead of watching what everyone was unwrapping, I found myself focusing on the wrapping paper- appreciated for it's beauty one minute, and then suddenly it's being thrown's purpose having been fulfilled.

Or has it?  Could this wrapping paper deserve a second chance... a new role in life?

I have decided to start a page called "The Green Scene"- it will be dedicated to creating a new purpose for all of the things we so easily throw away. 

The first thing that is hopefully on it's way to a new and bright future is... wrapping paper!

Here we go : ) -

1. Colorful and child-friendly placemats

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If you have a large family with a lot of kids, like mine, this is a great idea to save your nice linens.  Find two larger pieces of wrapping paper and tape them back to back with double-stick tape. Then trim the paper down to 13"x19" dimensions. Take them to a copy store and have them laminated.  Now you have a place-mat that can easily be washed off, but is festive at the same time.  For very little expense, you can make place-mats for every occasion using the wrapping paper you were going to throw away.

Another option is to pick paper that would appeal to children on one side and then make the other side be for adults.  Flip them over to coordinate with whatever event you are having. 

2.  Create artwork for your walls by framing wrapping paper

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Whether you use a large piece of wrapping paper (above) or small pieces hung in a grouping (below), you can create quite a statement in your room.  Use Christmas theme wrapping paper temporarily or use a year round paper as a backdrop for your room.

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3. Shred your used wrapping paper for gift wrapping next year. 

For all of those creased and torn pieces of paper, that you may think there is no hope for, shred them in a paper shredder and use them as box or bag filler when you are wrapping gifts.  You could easily spend $2.50 on one small bag of bag filler, when you could make your own for free.

4.  Make next year's decorations using your discarded wrapping paper

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Cut strips out of your used paper and make a paper garland for the tree next year.  The more sturdy the paper, the bigger the loop can be.

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Using small scraps of paper, you could frame your favorite paper and hang them on the tree.

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Make 3d snowflakes to hang around the house or on the tree.  Think how pretty these would be using your favorite Christmas paper.  For detailed instructions click here.

Make a wreath using your wrapping paper scraps.  For detailed instructions, click here.

Try to think twice before you throw that festive wrapping paper away.  It still has the potential to make your world beautiful!

Header images taken from:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Queen's hamlet: the hidden treasure of Versailles

When visiting France, we knew we had to go to Versailles.  I was very excited to get out of the city and see some of the French countryside- but when we got there, I was surprised by what I saw.  In spite of arriving very early, there was a mass of people walking around.  I did not expect to see the half mile of stone leading up to Versailles.  I suppose I had heard so much of the gardens, that I expected some greenery to be around the buildings.  The view you usually see of Versailles is from the outer reaches of the gardens, looking up to the backside of Versailles. 

Versailles itself was very beautiful and very immense.  Everywhere you looked gold was dripping from the walls.

There were paintings everywhere but the ceilings in Versailles displayed some of the most amazing artwork I have ever seen.

The "Hall of Mirrors" was the most impressive room in the palace.  From the curved, extraordinary ceiling, to the abundance of crystal chandeliers, to the mottled arched mirrors mimicking the windows opposite them...I loved that room.

And then we came upon Marie Antoinette's bedroom.  It was very Marie Antoinette...or what I thought I knew of Marie Antoinette.  The most ornate fabric dressed the walls, the entire room was trimmed in gold,  white feather plumes adorned each corner of the canopy.  I could almost see her there...if I had been able to disregard the crush of people constantly shoving me and stepping on my feet.

When we made our way through the palace and finally stepped out into the gardens, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a couple of hours.  The sky was bright blue that day and was filled with the whitest clouds I had ever seen. 

The gardens were everything I had thought they would be.  There were sculptures and fountains everywhere. 


I loved Versailles, but I found it hard to appreciate everything I was seeing with so many people around.  There was a feeling of constant movement inside the palace...almost as if you were trying to stand your ground in a very strong riptide.

I had read about Marie Antoinette's hamlet which resided a mile away. Even though we were both tired of walking, Jason and I decided that a walk, away from all of the commotion, would be well worth it.  We walked down this road bordered by cypress trees.

 As we walked, we saw big fields, villagers riding their bikes, baskets filled with groceries, families having picnics in the tall was if we had stepped into a completely different world.  A world I was absolutely at peace in. 

 Just when we thought we had missed it, we rounded a corner and saw this-

"Marie-Antoinette, seeking to flee the Court of Versailles, ordered the construction of her hamlet in 1783. There, she regularly found the charms of country life, surrounded by her lady's companions. It became a veritable farm, directed by a farmer, whose products supplied the kitchens of the Palace. Under the First Empire, the Hamlet was refurnished with refinement for Empress Marie-Louise."

"Between 1783 and 1787, the Hamlet was thus created in the spirit of a true Norman village, with eleven houses spread out around the Big lake. Five of them were reserved for the use of the Queen and her guests: the Queen’s House, Billiard Room, Boudoir, Mill and Refreshments Dairy. While four houses were reserved for the occupancy of the peasants: the Farm and its annexes, the Barn, the Dovecote and Preparation Dairy. The Farm was located outside the village and sheltered a varied livestock: a small herd of eight cows and a bull, ten goats and pigeons. One house was reserved for domestic use: the Warming Room, where the dishes were prepared for the dinners given at the Queen’s House or at the Mill."

"The Malborough Tower, a sort of beacon towering above the banks of the Big lake, was the point of departure for boat rides or fishing outings."

"Each house had its own little garden, planted with firm and round Savoy cabbage, cauliflower and artichokes, surrounded by a hornbeam hedge and enclosed by a fence of chestnut trees. The banisters of the staircases, galleries and balconies were adorned with blue and white earthenware pots of Saint-Clement containing hyacinths, quarantaine flowers, wallflowers or geraniums. Small orchards of apple trees and cherry trees were planted. Climbing plants covered the walls of the houses and arbors shading certain paths."

Marie Antoinette's hamlet was absolutely one of my favorite places we went to on our trip.  I loved the idea of this woman, who was known for her extravagance and opulent surroundings, building a village she could escape to.  It made me realize that the Marie Antoinettte the public clings to, was not the only side of her.  She was born into royalty, married royalty at the age of 14, and was executed because of her royal status at the age of 37.  Yet, her haven was a idealized Norman farm she had built a mile from her home of Versailles.   Here, in this quiet, peaceful place, I could imagine her walking on these dirt paths or sitting to watch her children play with the animals.

The hamlet was completely unexpected, but I definitely preferred it for that reason.  It felt like we had discovered a secret that Marie Antoinette only shared with a rare few.

* history of the hamlet taken from the official homepage of the Chateau de Versailles