Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Wrapping Paper Solution: a few ideas on sustainable and creative gift wrap

As though it weren't enough to be running hither and yon through crowded shopping malls searching for the perfect present, Christmas gifts produce yet another complication: wrapping them. Sometimes this is the most stressful part for me because when I go to do it, I have no paper in which to wrap them! So instead of merely keeping wrapping paper stocked in the house, (something I have no problem with; you should buy a roll that suits your fancy when you see it for a good price, regardless of the season) I like to keep objects that help turn common items into wrapping paper. For example, a couple year ago I invested in a small stamp alphabet, a couple ink pads in metallic hues, and a stamp with a feather design that I liked. Using that small arsenal I was able to create the wrapping ensemble above with the use of the one roll of paper I had left from the year prior, an old map, and some kraft paper. Brown paper bags can be turned inside-out and gussied up with stamps and ribbon. Read on for even more wrapping ideas after the jump!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gift Guide for the Amateur Botanist

I realize that I have not yet done a Christmas gift guide and I mean to remedy that today. It may be a bit last minute and even obscure, but I wanted to curate some items centered around a hobby of mine: Botany. What's that? you might say. Isn't that a course you sign up for to fill your natural sciences requirement in undergrad? The answer is yes, but for me that grew into something I really enjoy. Tree and plant identification makes me feel more connected to the world and it adds another enjoyable aspect to hiking and trail running. Sure it takes some memorization and study, but it's nothing this gear can't help with. Enjoy! -hil
details after the jump!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

bridesmaid dresses for the whimsical wedding

sohomode blog
My good friend Ellen is getting married at the beginning of April and I am very excited because a). she is marrying a wonderful man who is committed to her and makes her heart glad and b). it is going to be so so beautiful. Ellen's taste is perhaps the taste I would trust most in the world. I hold it in high esteem and love talking art with her because we understand each others sensibilities. That's why I was absolutely over-the-moon when Ellen found these outstanding vintage-eccentric bridesmaid dresses by Louise Hedley. Louise allows bridal parties to select their own vintage fabrics (often each girl in a different pattern) and then she makes a custom dress. The result is that oh-so-lovely, elegant-but-not-overthought beauty that is so Ellen and will be perfect for her big day. Louise also has an Etsy shop where you can buy her styles ready-to-wear. Enjoy! -hil
two times photography
jade pierce photography

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gift Guide for the Chef

Todays gift guide is brought to you by guest blogger Lindsey Stevens. Lindsey lives in Cincinnati and is an avid cook. I know I am in for a treat every time I get the honor of eating her food because she is always up for a challenge and loves to experiment with new ingredients. She's earned a degree from Midwest Culinary Institute and has curated a list of goodies with which every chef should stock their kitchen. Thanks, Linds!
Read on for details and Lindsey's comments after the jump!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Deck the Halls and Dust off your DVDs

Allow me to explain my absence for the last half of last week. I had a little slip-up with a pairing knife while cutting some carnations at the flower shop and ended up with eight stitches in a very sore thumb. While this was incredibly inconvenient and took me out of work (this blog included) for a couple of days, it did allow me to catch up on some of my favorite films of the season. So, to quote Rob Gordon, here are my "all time, top five" movies to watch around Christmas. Enjoy! -hil

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
My all time favorite version of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol." I'm not usually a Muppet fan, but this rendition is very beautiful and full of the whimsy of animation, only without it. Plus, Michael Cane plays Scrooge and Gonzo plays the narrator, Charles Dickens himself. What's not to love?

The Family Stone (2005)
Okay, so I'm a little embarrassed about this one (I know it seems super chick-flicky) but I love it and it's easily rentable from the local library. It's an all-star cast and follows the Stone family through their holiday as they learn to accept new members into their close-knit unit and learn to face new challenges. Basically, the now-grown Stone children learn to actually grow up. It's heartwarming and I cry every time at the end.

Little Women (1994)
Always a beautiful story, but that first scene set with the winter that the March sisters recall as "the coldest of our childhood," feels so much like Christmas. It's a wonderful story of a Family that doesn't have much but finds wealth in the company of one another. If not that, what is Christmas about? And when Beth gets that new piano from Laurie's priceless. An absolute must. Plus, Kirsten Dunst is just an itty bitty and Christian Bale grows a snooty mustache.

Love, Actually (2003)
I know, I know, so cliché. But throw out the Kiera Knightley plot line and keep rewinding that part where Hugh Grant dances to the Pointer Sisters and you've got a pretty good Christmas film. My favorite line? "I'm the Lobster," said with that cute little british accent.

Hook (1991)
Ok, so this movie isn't about Christmas, but it does remind us all of the beauty of childhood, to think happy thoughts, and remember: never grow up. I think Christmas tends to bring out the kid in everyone, not to mention an appreciation for your family. This film accomplishes both feats. Bangarang!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How To: make a vintage suitcase pedal board

This post is written by guest blogger Nicole Ayers. Nicole is a multi-talented musician who works at the Cincinnati House of Prayer. Thanks, Nicole for sharing this awesome tutorial!

If you’re an aspiring musician like me, it’s impossible to remain content playing just one instrument.  Most people begin learning the acoustic guitar (if you learn it in high school, that’s instant street cred for you my friend), but after a while, you’ll find the romance with your instrument begins to fade.  It’s now time to make another instrument sing.  

A natural thought comes to mind for the acoustic player, “Why not play the electric guitar?  How hard can it really be?”  

Somehow you get your hands on an electric guitar and quickly learn it needs to be amplified.  (“Ohhh, that’s what an amp is for.” )  So you go to Guitar Center and drop some cash on an amp.  In zeal, you pick up your new solid wood friend, play some chords, and realize:

It just doesn’t sound that good.  

This is a coming of age moment for you.  The electric guitar really is a different instrument.  Not only do you need to learn new chord shapes and scales, to get the sounds you want, you have to spend EVEN MORE MONEY.

Guitar pedals.  They are a must have.  But just because you have to drop additional cash on pedals, doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot on a pedal board.

The secret: build a suitcase pedal board.

Most thrift stores will have a vintage hardshell suitcase ($2) and voila - a pedal board that is both economical and super hipster.
Read on for Nicole's full How-To after the jump!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent, advent

Advent, Advent, 
ein Lichtlein brennt
erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier
Dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.
DIY Advent Calendars
My mom taught me this little poem when I was very young. It's literal translation is "Advent, advent, the little light shines. First one, then two, then three, then four, then stands the Christ child at the door." We always celebrated Advent growing up, and I loved it. Advent is basically the season of waiting for Christmas to come. It's a beautiful time of anticipation and hope, and there are plenty of symbolic traditions to go along with it, first and foremost being the advent calendar. A traditional advent calendar usually has 24 doors (sometimes 25 in the US) and you open a door every day starting with the first of December and leading up to Christmas eve or Christmas day. Behind these doors is some sort of treat, whether it be candy, a picture, or an ornament for the tree. Today there is an endless variety of advent calendars, and I thought I'd celebrate the season by sharing them with you. I've categorized them for you viewing pleasure. Enjoy! -hil

Garland Advent Calendars

German Advent Calendars
More calendars after the jump!