Finding a Balance

I think a part of growing up is learning to say no and realizing it’s ok to take time for yourself. I’m horribly bad at both of these things so in 2012 I am resolving to find a better balance between personal time and time with friends and family but more importantly, making that time count. A couple of months ago I came across a new magazine, Kinfolk, and I immediately fell in love. I ordered a copy and when it arrived in the mail it was one of those simply beautiful packages that you want to make an event out of – and I did. I have since read through it 3 times and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next volume (any day now!). Not only is the magazine wonderfully designed with every attention to detail – it has become my new coffee table book; I enjoy so much of what Kinfolk is about.

“Kinfolk is a growing community of artists with a shared interest in small gatherings. We recognize that there is something about a table shared by friends, not just a wedding or once-a-year holiday extravaganza, that anchors our relationships and energizes us. We have come together to create Kinfolk as our collaborative way of advocating the natural approach to entertaining that we love.”

I realized that in preparing for this post I had already accomplished the first part of my resolution. I stopped and took time for myself. I curled up with my cats, a lit candle and a cup of tea to thoroughly enjoy a treasured new magazine. And what’s better is that I took on a new appreciation for small gatherings and dinner parties. As I look forward to moving into my new house I want it to be a place filled with friends and family and good times. I am a perfectionist to a fault sometimes and I often choose not to have impromptu get togethers at my house because I haven’t had time to vacuum or my dishes don’t match. I am resolving to let go of that and realize that good friends would rather be together and eat off paper plates than hearing about how I cleaned house.

I look forward to blogging about the many brunches and dinner parties soon to be in all of their imperfect glory and the “me” time I take in preparing for them. In the meantime, I highly suggest you purchase yourself a copy of Kinfolk and peruse their just as gorgeous blog. Enjoy.


Celebrating Birthdays

One of my favorite thing to do is celebrating others birthdays and making people feel special on their special day. It doesn’t take much to show someone you are thinking of them whether it be handpicked flowers on their doorstep or simply a written note. I find that I have more fun getting things together for someone’s birthday when I have ample time to prepare for it. Enter my birthday calendar. This was so simple to make and you can jazz it up as much as you’d like or keep it super simple. I used the same brown paper I purchased for yesterday’s project and fit two months on each 8.5″ x 11″ sheet. Just print out the correct number of days for said month (ex. 31 for 31 days in October) and put a little line next to each number. I chose to give mine a more handmade feel so once I printed those out and cut them in half I stamped the corresponding month on the top of each one (I am LOVING my new white stamp pad) and did some very simple illustrations.

All in all this took me about 2 hours – perfect for a weekend or evening craft. All you do then is write in your friends’ names on their birthdate. You can keep this from year to year since the dates don’t correspond with a day in the week – it’s just simply a date reminder! It’s always a good resolution to put a smile on someone’s face.


Written Correspondence

One thing I’m resolving to be better about is writing letters and sending cards. I am awful with sending a birthday card and having it actually arrive in time for someone’s birthday. I usually just end up handing it to them in person, tying it to a gift or foregoing the card all together and calling instead. It’s always been really important to me to make people feel special on their birthday and receiving a little something in the mail shows you remembered them and put a little thought into their special day. I realized that if I have cards readily available, I will send them! Which brings me to my card catalog. I went to the craft store and picked up a simple box and some brown cardstock. I cut nine pieces to the size of the box, each with a little tab. I decided it would be best to have cards in preparation for 1) birthdays, 2) anniversaries, 3) engagements, 4) ┬ábabies, 5) weddings, 6) thank you’s, 7) just because, 8) sympathy and 9) holiday. Now when I go to the stationary store and see a card I like I will purchase and file it away in my card catalog until the perfect occasion arises. And even better, I can make a card here and there when I have time and file that away too. I’ve found people love receiving handmade cards. I clipped a little label – “cards + greetings” to the outside of the box, which also serves as a perfect place to hold a sheet of stamps. I then put my return address labels in the box and now I have everything I need to send a timely written correspondence in one tidy little box.


Felt Wrap + Envelopes

Wrapping gifts in felt is not only super cute but eco-friendly as well. And what a special touch for the recipient – handmade wrapping that they can use over and over again. As long as you have a sewing machine these are about as simple as it gets. Cut a rectangle of felt with your pinking shears (to give it that zig-zag edge) and fold so that the end of your fabric goes about 3/4 up the length of your rectangle. Stitch the fabric together and you’re done.

I found these vintage green belt buckles last week at the flea market and thought they would be cute for wrapping.

This deer was left over from this project so I glued him on a clothespin. I thought this was such a fun way to finish a package. I stamped the names of friends and family so I know which gift goes where!

You can make smaller ones like this green one above for an event. They would be so cute in different colors as thank you gifts for guests. I can see little felt envelopes at each place setting. Is everyone all ready for Christmas?? I wish I was!


Felt Holly

These felt holly leaves are so simple to make and really dress up a package. The best part is, you can make a bunch of these from leftover felt scraps. Fold your piece of felt in half and cut in the shape of a holly leaf. When your done, you should have 2 leaves. Fold each leaf in half lengthwise and put a dab of hot glue at the base then glue one leaf on top of the other. I had these mini ornaments around the house so I used those as berries and glued them on top. Just use the hoop on the ornament to tie your ribbon through and there you have it – felt holly package ties. So festive.

Now if only there were gifts in these…4 more days…


Pom-pom Package Ties

I came across this wreath made from felt a while back and just adore the pattern the felt makes. We adapted this concept to make felt pom-poms for package ties. It would probably be better to sew them by hand but I just got out the glue gun and went to town and it did the job beautifully. You will need 9 circles of felt, a glue gun and ribbon or twine. Take one of your circles and and lay it flat – this will be your base. Fold your ribbon/twine in half and glue the folded end in the center of your felt circle. Take another circle and fold in half and then in half again. Glue onto the circle with the ribbon and continue with 3 more felt circles. Flip over and do the same with your four (4) remaining circles. Once the glue dries, fluff your pom-pom and tie onto a package.

I simply wrapped baker’s twine around my box and then tied the pom-pom onto it. It makes such a statement. I also tried a variation with the pom-pom attached to a wooden dowel instead of the ribbon. These would look great in a plant to dress up a hostess gift or stick a bunch of them into your holiday dessert!

I love that the cream and white ones look like snowballs!


Pantone Chip Magnets

I was crafting for the holidays and faced with the age-old question: What to get for my co-workers? I mean they spend day-in and day-out putting up with me! Lord knows they deserve something…and then I came across this tutorial which I bookmarked forever ago. As a designer you end up with countless Pantone chips sitting on your desk, and if you obsess over color like me, you just hate to throw them away so this craft is sweet. I used carefully-selected Pantone chips, white foam board, magnets, double-stick tape, paper glaze, and very strong glue. First step, double-stick tape the chip onto the foam board and trim. Next apply your paper glaze, I used this one. Once dry, glue magnet to the back. A few warnings: do not buy the rolls of sticky magnets, they work like crap and hold up nothing! But if you go with a traditional magnet that you glue, make sure you’re gluing the correct side down or they won’t stick (learn from my mistakes!)

To package them I printed a message on these stickers from Office Max, which are gold and fancy, and now I want to put them on everything!


Plant Markers

The women in my family are really, really into plants; we share cuttings from our favorite plants with each other and they become part of the fam. Confession folks: I might be a plant hoarder, owning over 40 potted plants scattered throughout our house and patio. So of course I kept those cute succulents from the tin can planter post, and in true Anna Lee Co. style I used the same crafting materials from my DIY wine charms to create some plant markers (inspired by this pin on Pinterest) for the ladies I love.


Cozy Wine & DIY Charms

So it’s probably no surprise to those who read our blog often that I love to give wine as a gift (following the rule that it’s best to give gifts that you’d love to receive!) Earlier this month I attended a gift-wrapping class where I picked up a great tip from this brilliant blogger, about using the sleeves of sweaters to cozy up a bottle of wine for wintertime. I bought five sweaters (10 sleeves y’all) for a few bucks from a local thrift store. I trimmed the sleeves off, cutting them with about 1.5 in. of extra at the bottom and got to town with the hot glue! Then, I added all the fun trimmings. I’m pairing this gift with a package of customized wine charms made out of bakeable clay and a clever stamp that allows you to customize your message. This stuff was fun to work with, and simple to bake in the oven, it only took 15 minutes to bake! I had a blast coming up with phrases for each friend of mine and got a little silly, but they’ll know these are made by me with lot’s of love/humor and not store-bought!


Mini Forests

I will admit that I have fully jumped on the terrarium bandwagon and I love them! My friends and I work hard and work long hours, INDOORS, and as I get older, this city girl increasingly sees the importance of being outdoors and in nature. With my schedule that isn’t always a possibility so a terrarium is a good way to bring a little bit of nature in. What better gift than a little plot of greenery. And making them is so therapeutic. I collected various sizes of glass vessels and went shopping in my nearest home improvement’s garden center. You will need: gravel, sphagnum moss, potting soil and small plants – succulents usually work best for this but I experimented with several types of plants. Start with a layer of gravel, then the moss and then soil and plant. It’s visually pleasing to use an odd number of plants at varying heights.

I found some miniature vintage deer on Etsy and placed them in the terrariums.

I also made mini terrariums out of stemless wine glasses which are so fun! One of these would look so great on a side table or bedside table.

You can also mix plastic plants (like the trees here) with ground cover to create a fun, super low maintenance scene.

I then created little tags with instructions for care and stamped little messages to stick in the terrariums and they are gift-ready! You can buy the ground cover and a lot of the plants in bulk and create several terrariums. Now that’s Anna Lee style.



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