Welcome Back! (And Our Master Bathroom)

Where do I begin? Hello!!! It’s been three years since I’ve written a post here, which at the same time feels not that long and also another lifetime ago. It’s so good to be back.

I thought I would start Scissors & Sage back up in hopes of using it as I originally intended: as a self-care project. Thinking about the fall and winter we are about to embark on, it is my hope that this blog will help me (and us) stay curious, try new things, get creative, and feel connected.

So much life has happened in the last three years. Last I left things, Anne and I had just moved to Chicago from Philly and we got married at her parent’s farmhouse in Wisconsin. Since then, I started a new job as a full-time music therapist, Anne and I adopted our favorite little (read: giant) dog named Joni, and we bought our first home.

We have a lot of ground to cover, and so much to reflect on as we move forward, but I thought I would start things back up again by sharing our master bathroom refresh from earlier this year. It was a lot of fun to work on together knowing that this is our home to paint however we want! We were so used to the renter mentality that this project felt extra special to dive into. The navy walls (Behr’s “Poppy”) are the before, and the green walls (Benjamin Moore’s “Creekside Green”) are the after. I hope you enjoy!

Our First Friendsgiving

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Anne and I hosted our first-ever Friendsgiving this past weekend. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a few years, and being in Chicago and close to good friends felt like the right time to give it a try.

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I made a centerpiece for our table from white pumpkins and strawberry corn that we grew at the farm in Wisconsin this summer, as well as silver dollar eucalyptus I found at Trader Joe’s ($2.99 for the bunch!). Working on this arrangement had me feeling like I was back at terrain again.

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We squeezed 10 people around our dinner table — a very hyggeligt time.

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Everybody contributed a dish to our Friendsgiving, making for a delicious meal indeed. I made my Grandma Anne’s pecan tassies (or, as we call them, “little shits”) and my Grandpa Augie’s pumpkin pie. Anne focused on the turkey and mashed potatoes.

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Our meal:

  • Roast turkey breast (following this recipe loosely)
  • Mashed potatoes (following this recipe, again loosely)
  • Cranberry-citrus sauce
  • Sausage and mushroom stuffing
  • Roasted squash
  • Roasted Brussel sprouts
  • Carrots provencal
  • Rice and arugula salad (recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More)
  • Pecan tassies
  • Pumpkin pie

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It was a beautiful time with great friends, and I can’t wait to keep making special memories like this. What are you cooking up for Thanksgiving this year?

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Happy Thanksgiving from us to you!

Macramé with Rebecca Landman

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Today’s blog post comes to us from my friend and fellow crafter, Rebecca Landman. Rebecca and I met in college in upstate New York, and while she lives in California and I live in Chicago now, I’ve been following her crafting endeavors on social media for some time. She is a real inspiration, both because of the creativity in her work and because she isn’t afraid to tackle big projects that demand problem solving and patience. #creativethoughtmatters

Be sure to follow Rebecca on Instagram to see her latest macramé and natural dyeing creations. They are absolutely beautiful!

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From Rebecca: Macramé found me via frustration. My partner Chris and I had just moved into a new apartment. I was desperate to decorate our barren living room with some sort of cozy, textured wall hanging. Weavings, macraméd pieces, whatever! I wasn’t being picky.

But Chris saw this move as my opportunity. He’d just watched me finish crocheting my third blanket. He’d seen me obsess over weavings and macraméd pieces for basically forever. He’d developed this unwavering confidence in my creativity. A confidence I’d never really been able to wrangle in myself before. So each time I’d lust all hot and bothered (hi there, frustration) after something on Etsy or at basically any LA boutique in my general vicinity, he’d lightly remind me that I was a designer. I was a maker. I could easily create something even more beautiful. Our perfect something.

Me? Me? I’m not sure. I don’t think so! But no, Chris knew so. He believed in me. His steady stream of confidence slowly started making its way into my mind. Hmm. Well, maybe I could at least try.

I took a beginner macramé class and then another class on natural dyeing. Soon, I was buying rope by the yard, spending hours each night searching the web for all sorts of different natural dyeing techniques, and following along with as many YouTube knot-tying tutorials as my little hands could bare. Rope burn is real, people. You have been warned.

But guess what? Chris was right. I could totally make that.

A year and a half later I’ve started an Etsy shop, created a few wall hanging patterns I love, and have scheduled macramé in as a regular part of my daily routine. The following pattern is one of my favorites I’ve been making thus far.

DIY Diamond Macramé Wall Hanging

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Materials:

  • 250 feet of 3/16″ organic cotton rope, available here
  • 7/8” wooden dowel, at least 17″ long
  • Masking tape
  • Sand paper
  • Hand saw
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Clothing rack
  • Two s-hooks

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Step 1: Cut 20 pieces of rope, 150″ long each. Secure each loose end of rope with masking tape.

Step 2: Place the s-hooks on your clothing rack and your wooden dowel on the s-hooks.

Step 3: Cast each piece of rope onto your dowel by folding the rope in half, threading the looped fold over the dowel, pulling both ends of the folded rope through the loop, and pulling tight. Starting from the left-hand side of your dowel, label each of your working ropes by number on the masking tape. #1 will be your left-most rope and #40 your right-most rope.

*From this point on, think of each half piece of rope as its own entity — so each long, 150-inch piece of rope you halved and looped over the dowel is now two distinct pieces of working rope.*

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Step 4: Pull the fourth rope from the left-hand side of your work diagonally to the left across the three ropes directly to its left. Take the piece of rope to its left (Rope 3) and place it over and around Rope 4. Pull it tight to make a knot, all the while holding Rope 4 at that diagonal. Repeat for a second knot with Rope 3.

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 with each of the two ropes to the left of Rope 3 (Ropes 2 & 1). Now you’ve tied your first row of diagonal clove hitch knots!

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Step 6: Pull the fifth rope from the left-hand side of your work diagonally to the right across the three ropes directly to its right. Take the piece of rope to its right (Rope 6) and place it over and around Rope 5 (the opposite way you went in Step 4). Pull it tight to make a knot, all the while holding Rope 5 at that diagonal. Repeat for a second knot with Rope 6.

Step 7: Repeat Step 6 for each of the two ropes to the right of Rope 6 (Ropes 7 & 8), thus completing your second row of diagonal clove hitch knots.

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Step 8: Leave your two outer ropes in the eight-rope set be (Ropes 4 & 5), and make a square knot tying Ropes 1 & 8 around Ropes 2, 3, 6, and 7. To do so, wrap Rope 1 around the front of your four central ropes while simultaneously wrapping Rope 8 around the back. Holding each rope loosely wrapped around the four central ropes, you’ll see that you created two loops on either side of the central ropes. Thread the end of Rope 1 through the right-hand loop front to back while threading Rope 8 through the left-hand loop back-to-front. Pull tight to secure. Now reverse it — thread Rope 1 back across the front of the four central ropes and Rope 8 back around the back. Thread through their respective loops, now in the opposite direction as the knot you just tied. Pull tight and your first square knot is complete!

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Step 9: Finish off your diamond with a row of diagonal clove hitch knots along the bottom, again using Ropes 4 & 5 as your diagonal anchor ropes.

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Step 10: Repeat Steps 4-9 for each of the four sets of four working ropes along your dowel.

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Step 11: Tie a second line of diagonal clove hitch knots right underneath your knots from Step 9, using each diamond’s new outer ropes as your anchor ropes.

Step 12: Tie square knots like you did in Step 8 in between each new set of diagonal clove hitch knots.

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Step 13: For the sides of your work — the ones where you can’t make a full diamond — you can create a half diamond. Leave the anchor rope from the previous set of diagonal clove hitch knots be, and you will have three working ropes. Take the two outer ropes of the three and tie a square knot around the single central rope. Line it with two lines of diagonal clove hitch knots just like the full diamonds.

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Step 14: Continue tying these diagonal clove hitch/square knot diamonds until you’ve got five rows’ worth ending in a single row of diagonal clove hitch knots. Or keep going! Or stop earlier! You do you. I also like to finish my final row of diagonal clove hitch knots using one of my anchor ropes as a working rope and tying the two sides together. I do this in the same direction for each of my five diamonds.

Step 15: Once you’ve reached your happy tying conclusion, it’s time to trim and unravel. Cut your remaining rope into any shape you’d like. I chose a triangular shape, but you could also do a straight line, a zig zag, or something more organic.

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Step 16: Use your fingers to unravel the strands of rope up until you reach the last knot you tied. Trim and shape the unraveled rope as necessary.

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Step 17: Depending on how long your dowel is, if it needs a trim, now’s the time. Situate your final piece exactly how you’ll like it on the dowel, and trim down the sides with a hand saw.

Step 18: Sand the dowel edges for a nice clean finish.

Step 19: Hang on the wall and enjoy! You can either fashion a hanger out of some rope or thinner cord, or screw a few c-hooks into your wall and rest the dowel on those.

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I never intentionally set out to create this pattern. I’d actually been stuck for weeks trying to work out a different design. No matter how hard I worked that different design, though — tied, untied, retied, tried this, tried that — it just wasn’t working (oh hey there, frustration. Missed you, girl). Suddenly, macramé wasn’t feeling fun. It was feeling daunting. I needed to put my impossible idea down for a second, quiet all this anxiety I was now feeling over honestly just a pile of rope, and let myself play.

Allowing myself space to play gave this diamond design its opportunity to emerge. Instead of forcing whatever farfetched idea wasn’t bending to my will, I let go and trusted that something easier would come. And it did! Not only have I gleaned this satisfying pattern from my play time, but I’ve also learned to be gentler with my process — with myself. Now, I leave myself more room to breathe, think, try and try again.

Please gift yourself this same luxury. You can do it. You can make that. I know you can.

All photos taken by Rebecca Landman

5 Things to Make by Hand

It’s beginning to really feel like fall in Chicago, and it has me itching to dig into some cozy craft projects in the coming months. To me, cooler weather is optimal crafting time. We inevitably spend more time indoors in fall and winter, and I’ve got to do something to prevent myself from going to bed by 8 o’clock when the sun sets so early. (I’m dreading daylight savings.)

Today I thought I’d share a few projects that I’ve been eyeing online as ones I’d like to try. Maybe they’ll inspire you to make something with your hands, too! Enjoy 🙂

Cowl via Purl Soho

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When it comes to knitting, I don’t often stray too far from basic patterns. One of my goals is to branch out a bit more and try different techniques and styles. This cowl pattern from Purl Soho seems like a nice way to do that. It should be simple enough that I’ll have success, but will result in a pattern I’ve never tried before. Plus, I have the perfect two colors to try it with.

Orange Spiced Sugar Cookies via This Mess is Ours

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Nothing says fall/winter quite like citrus and spices. These cookies caught my eye as ones I’d like to bake. I ❤ cookies.

Homemade Seed Packets via Idlewife

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As Anne’s mom’s garden has come to an end for the season, I’ve found myself having this urge to save seeds from this year’s flowers. Being that our wedding flowers came from her garden in July, they have an extra special place in my heart. I’m especially excited for our hyacinth, strawberry corn, sunflower, and millet seeds. These seed packets are the perfect way to save them for next year!

Embroidered Alphabet Sampler via Purl Soho

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I actually have this project waiting patiently in the wings for me. I received it as a Christmas gift last year and embarrassingly haven’t gotten to trying it yet. This sampler teaches you a wide variety of stitches, and being that I’ve never done embroidery before, this should be a good way to learn!

Mozzarella Sticks via Food52

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Food52 claims that these homemade mozzarella sticks are better than anything you will find in a grocery store (duh), pool, bowling alley, or roller rink. One tip I didn’t know? Freeze them before frying them to insure the cheese doesn’t ooze out from beneath the breading. I am certainly going to give these a try. If they work out as well as they say it does, you’ll most likely be able to hear me shrieking from wherever it is that you are.

It’s a good thing that Chicago’s winters are long. I’ve got a lot of projects to try in the next six months! How do you spend your free time in fall and winter? What are some things you’re hoping to try or get done while the days are shorter and the weather is cooler?

Sourdough Dinner Rolls

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”

Friends, it has been nearly seven months since I’ve shared a post on Scissors & Sage. So much has happened since “Snow Day Sugar Cookies” back in February! Here are some life updates on my end:

I got my first ever Devacurl haircut. That, paired with Ouidad products, has made my hair curlier than ever without the frizz. I’ve never loved my hair more.

Anne and I started a little pop-up shop business called Looseleaf Books + Plants. We’ve had two pop-ups so far and had a whole lot of fun.

We moved to Chicago. Talk about a whirlwind! Philly treated us so well, and we were certainly sad to say goodbye for now. We are so excited about this new chapter in Chicago, though, and can’t wait to see where life takes us here.

WE GOT MARRIED! July 29, 2017 in Platteville, Wisconsin. The cows were mooing, the birds were chirping, and the sun was shining. It was a day I will never forget, filled with beautiful people, delicious food, and amazing music. I can’t wait to share more about it in the weeks and months to come.

What’s new in your lives? How did you enjoy the warmer months?

Today, I thought I’d share a recipe I’m trying for the first time. The week before our wedding this summer, Anne and I embarked on making our very own sourdough starter. We decided to make it as a symbol of our love: two ingredients, water and flour, coming together to make something greater than themselves, while also getting better with age. We call it our “wedding bread” and hope to make loaves and share it with loved ones for decades to come.

I celebrated my 27th birthday on Tuesday on our one-month wedding anniversary. My parents mailed me a very cool Romertopf clay bread baker to make all of our breads in! This is my first time using it and I’m pretty excited to see how these dinner rolls turn out (I’m writing this prematurely as I wait for the dough to rise). I altered this recipe from King Arthur Flour slightly, and have shared my adaptation below.

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It feels good to be back on Scissors & Sage, and I can’t wait to share more of our lives as we settle into this new city, new home, and new routine.

Sourdough Dinner Rolls (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Prep time: 20 minutes | Inactive time: 3 hours | Bake time: 50 minutes | Yields: 16 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 1/2 heaping cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough attachment. Add more flour if needed to reach a soft, smooth texture.

Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover and let sit for 90 minutes at warm room temperature. Slightly grease your bread baker while the dough is rising.

Once the dough is doubled in size, divide the dough into 16 pieces on a lightly greased work surface. Shape into balls, and place them in the baker so that they are not touching one another. Cover and let rise for an additional 90 minutes. The rolls should be puffy and touching.

Place the baker in the oven and then turn the heat on to 400°F. (Note: Always place a clay baker in a cool oven to avoid cracking.) Bake for 45 minutes, and then bake for an additional five minutes without the lid on, or until golden brown. Remove and let cool on a wooden board for 15 minutes before transferring the rolls to a cooling rack. Enjoy immediately or store in beeswax bread wrap.

From Scissors & Sage