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Twenty Twelve

It is so hard to believe that 2011 has bid us farewell and we have welcomed in the new year. Kelly and I rarely get too personal on this blog but I thought I would take this week to reflect a little and share a bit more of my life with all of you. 2011 seemed like it was a tough year and unfortunately I feel as though I’ve heard that from quite a few people. As I look back on the last year it seems impossible to look past the hard times, nor should we, but what I should be focusing on are the blessings 2011 brought with it. I made some wonderful new friends, I spent time with my family, my own little family grew with the addition of a new kitty and I purchased my first home(!). All wonderful things, not to mention, I am employed which is something to be oh so grateful for these days.

I had a long conversation with my mom yesterday and as we wished each other that this year would be better than the last, she asked me if I had any resolutions for 2012. I spouted off the usual: be healthier, more organized, etc. and then after I hung up I thought about it. What is really going to make me happy this year? Once I actually took a minute to really give it some thought the answer was immediate and so obvious – quality time with family and friends and taking more time out of my schedule to remember and appreciate others. With the hustle and bustle of daily life and the piling up of jobs and projects I find myself often feeling selfish and so exhausted at the end of the day to even pick up the phone or write a note.

This week, as Kelly returns home from Texas and life settles back into the post-holiday groove, Anna Lee Co. is taking a little break from our normal blog content. Each day I will be focusing on a real, heartfelt resolution and either crafting or showing you how I intend to make my resolution a reality. Maybe this act in itself is a bit selfish as I am in a way, forcing all of you to hold me accountable for what I would like to achieve in the upcoming year but what I hope this week’s projects do is help everyone take a few minutes alone with their thoughts and find what is going to make 2012 a happy and sincere year for you.

All of our best and very warmest of wishes for a happy, happy new year.

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.  ~Abraham Lincoln

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This Week’s Project:

Since Christmas is less than a week away (insert freak out here) and we showed you DIY gift ideas last week, we thought this week we would show you 3 ways to use felt to wrap some of those fabulous gifts you made. What’s even better is that felt, or any fabric, is an eco-friendly alternative to the traditional wrapping paper and can serve as a small gift itself. Felt comes in a wide array of colors and is very easy to work with as long as you have a good pair of fabric shears.

BACKGROUND:

Felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing woollen fibres. While some types of felt are very soft, some are tough enough to form construction materials. Felt can be of any colour, and made into any shape or size.

Many cultures have legends as to the origins of feltmaking. Sumerian legend claims that the secret of feltmaking was discovered by Urnamman of Lagash. The story of Saint Clement and Saint Christopher relates that while fleeing from persecution, the men packed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters. At the end of their journey, the movement and sweat had turned the wool into felt socks.

Feltmaking is still practised by nomadic peoples in Central Asia and northern parts of East Asia, where rugs, tents and clothing are regularly made. Some of these are traditional items, such as the classic yurt, while others are designed for the tourist market, such as decorated slippers. In the Western world, felt is widely used as a medium for expression in textile art as well as design, where it has significance as an ecological textile.

history of felt
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The Gift of Giving

Christmas is quickly approaching and if you are anything like me, the gift buying process makes your head spin. It’s always important to me that my gifts mean something to the recipient so I tend to get overwhelmed when I start going down the list of friends and family. I’ve found that gifting DIY gifts means something more to both parties (plus it gives me a perfectly good excuse to bundle up and hunker down for a weekend of crafting). Kelly and I are going to be taking a week off of event inspiration and styling this week and will be showing you some great DIY gifts you can make for you and yours.

BACKGROUND:

“There are many recorded events in history that show the giving and receiving of gifts dates back at least to the 4th century. St. Nicholas, a Christian Bishop, was known for his generosity in giving to those less fortunate than he, as well as giving to children of all backgrounds simply because he felt they needed to savor their childrood, and have joyous times to remember, a belief that was almost unheard of at the time. The most common gifts given were homemade foods and sweets, oranges, handcrafted gifts such as socks, sweaters, dresses, nightgowns, blankets, tables, chairs, and other handmade useful items. This tradition began with St. Nicholas in Turkey. It moved throughout the world very quickly, and before the 10th century is is supposed that nearly every country was participating in this exchange.”

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Where_and_when_did_the_tradition_of_exchanging_Christmas_gifts_start#ixzz1gHZVrnsJ

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This Week’s Project:

Happy Monday everybody. We attended the seasons first holiday parties over the weekend and are feeling quite festive this week, so we’re going to show you multiple ways to repurpose  clear glass Christmas tree ornaments. Of course they have a fascinating history to them:

BACKGROUND:

The first decorated Christmas trees used apples, strings of popcorn, white candy canes and pastries in the shapes of stars, hearts and flowers. Glass baubles were first made in Lauscha, Germany, in the mid-19th century by Hans Greiner who produced garlands of glass beads similar to the popcorn strands and tin figures that could be hung on trees. They became popular and were made by highly skilled artisans with clay molds who heated a glass tube over a flame, inserted it into a clay mold, and blew the glass to expand into the shape of the mold. The original ornaments were only in the shape of fruits and nuts.

In 1880, Woolworth’s began selling Lauscha glass ornaments, in the U.S. They were expensive, with few Americans being able to afford more than one or two per year. On the eve of World War II, however, American companies began making inexpensive, mass produced ornaments making it possible for almost any American to have an extensive collection of Christmas ornaments for little cost. With a few modifications, Corning Glass’s light bulb machine could spit out 2,000 blank glass ornaments a minute! They were then bought by ornament companies to be decorated, packaged and sold by the dozen.

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This Week’s Project:

I’m hoping everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I sure did (it was Brian and I’s first time to host and it was a success!) We thought we’d be clever this week with those leftover tin cans from your big meal.

BACKGROUND:

In 1810, the tin can was patented by a British merchant Peter Durand, based on experimental work by the Frenchman Nicolas Appert. The patent was for a method of preserving animal food, vegetable food and other perishable articles using various vessels made of glass, pottery, tin or other suitable metals. The preservation process was to fill up a vessel with food and cap it. Vegetables were to be put in raw, whereas animal substances might either be raw or half-cooked. Then the whole item was to be heated, by an oven, stove or a steam bath, but most conveniently by immersing in water and boiling it. The boiling time was not specified, and was said to depend on the food and vessel size. Neither was the patent clear on the preservation time, which was merely said to be “long”. The cap was to be partly open during the whole heating and cooling procedure, but right after that, the vessel should be sealed airtight by any means.

After receiving the patent he sold it to two other Englishmen, Bryan Donkin and John Hall, for 1,000 British pounds. They set up a commercial canning factory and produced their first canned goods for the British army. In 1818, Durand introduced tin cans in the United States by re-patenting his British patent in the US. By 1820, canned food was a recognized article in Britain and France and by 1822 in the United States.

In 1901, the American Can Company was founded and it produced 90% of United States tin cans at that time.

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This Week’s Project:

We are crafting with Japanese Washi Tape this week. It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns so you can adapt these crafts to fit your event just by finding the perfect tape.

BACKGROUND:

Washi Tape, or Japanese masking tape, originated in Japan with the institution Kamoi Kakoshi Co. In 2006 Kamoi received an email from a couple of girls who had designed a publication about using masking tape. Their first project was a set of beautifully designed web pages all achieved by using masking tape. Kamoi took notice and soon began these perfect little rolls to be used in crafting or design.

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This Week’s Project:

Silhouettes are such a classic and traditional art form and I just so happen to love them. I love the way they look in a frame and I love making them. They are simpler to do than one would think and we are going to show you three ways to make them and use them to create an ultra personalized event.

BACKGROUND:

Silhouettes originated in France in the  early 17th century. Silhouette artists cut elaborate portraits out of paper by hand and were hired to entertain royalty. Silhouettes were actually named after the French Minister of Finance, Etienne de Silhouette in 1759, .  Mr. Silhouette spent much of his time perfecting his favorite new pastime, the art of cutting silhouettes.  Thus was born the name “Silhouette.” Silhouettes quickly migrated into the rest of Europe and eventually became very popular in America by the 18th century. They were employed as a way of capturing dignified portraits of American aristocrats, politicians, and common folk alike.  

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This Week’s Project:


Well, the weather has turned for us here, and the time has changed. But most of all it feels like fall, which makes me think of leaves falling and the beautifully bare trees that remain. I think this is the perfect time to take on crafting with twigs.

BACKGROUND:

Man has been using sticks and twigs since the beginning of time as tools for utility purposes: defense, food preparation, and even art. They have played a role in ancient textile-making, ceramics, performance art, and architecture. Their history is so entwined with our own it is impossible to summarize into one succinct history.  I’m excited to take on this primitive material and transform them into something inspiring for your event!


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This Week’s Project:

mini-pumpkins

Happy Halloween! We hope that your weekend was festive, and that tonight you continue the spooky celebration. Every year, Jodi and I attend a highly competitive and fun pumpkin carving party (we both took home trophies Saturday night!) Inspired by our wins, and love for this orange fall vegetable we are crafting with miniature pumpkins this week.

BACKGROUND:

The tradition of carving a lantern started in the British Isles on All Hallows’ Eve.  It was not a pumpkin however, traditionally it was a swede or a turnip. Once carved, they were left on the door step to ward off evil spirits, and they included offering or, as we now know it, a “treat” to satisfy roaming sprites and evil spirits. Otherwise they might ‘fiddle’ with property or livestock (play a “trick”). Once the tradition moved to the US, it was adapted to carving a pumpkin as they were more readily available, bigger and easier to carve. The carved pumpkin represented the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween. It was not until 1837 that jack-o’-lantern appeared as a term for a carved vegetable lantern, and the carved pumpkin lantern association with Halloween is first recorded in 1866.


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This Week’s Project:

paper-rolls

Well folks, it’s come down to this…we said we were serious about helping you save money for your wedding, and this is no joke! (Even though I’d like to make an off-key joke, I’ll refrain) This weeks material is toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Unconventional yes, but structurally perfect for wedding crafts. Stay tuned because this week is going to make you think twice about throwing away those paper rolls!

BACKGROUND:

Although there is a plethora of history on toilet paper, this is the most I could locate about the actual roll itself: Joseph C. Gayetty is the American inventor credited with the invention of commercial toilet paper. It was originally marketed in 1857 and sold for $0.50 in flat packs of 500 sheets bearing a watermark of his name. His product was licensed to other manufacturers and sold as late as the 1920s.

Scott Paper was founded in 1879 and is credited as being the first to market toilet paper sold on a roll. They began marketing paper towels in 1907, and paper napkins in the 1930s. In 1995, Scott Paper merged with Kimberly-Clark which uses the Scott brandname to this day.

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