So long, 2016!

Happy New Year, everyone!

As 2016 is coming to an end, I thought I’d share a bit about my year with you. It was kind of a funny year for Scissors & Sage. I found that I didn’t have a chance to write many blog posts on the things that Anne and I were crafting, baking, and doing together. A lot of my creative energy has been going toward planning for our wedding (July 2017!), preparing for the holidays at terrain, and making homemade Christmas gifts for our loved ones.

There are countless reasons why 2016 wasn’t the greatest year ever. You all have your own reasons; I won’t rehash them here. But yesterday I found out that I did not get a job that I had been hoping for for several months. It would have been a perfect next step in my music therapy career. I am disappointed and disheartened to say the least, but I am glad to be able to leave this in 2016. I am excited to see what new opportunities are ahead in the new year.

There was also a lot of love in 2016. Anne and I were able to connect with many friends and family this year, and it left me feeling very whole. We traveled to Arizona to see some of Anne’s family and go to Cubs spring training. We witnessed my cousins graduate from college and my sister from her master’s program. Anne and I went lazy river tubing and felt like kids again. We brought my parents to Chicago and Wisconsin for the first time to meet Anne’s extended family and to spend time wedding planning together. My sister got married and I gained a brother. I spent a night singing with my closest college acapella friends. The Cubs won the World Series. My family had its first-ever holiday book club (we read Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson), and it was a huge success.

I am so excited to ring in the new year tonight. There is a lot on the horizon for 2017, and I can’t wait to embrace it all.

janWe played in the snow in January. [Philadelphia, PA]

febI got fancy for Valentine’s Day in February. [Philadelphia, PA]

marI tried a prickly pear margarita in March. [Phoenix, AZ]

aprI got in bed a little early in April. [Philadelphia, PA]

mayWe made a quiche in May. [Philadelphia, PA]

junI almost stole a dog named Luna in June. [Arcadia Beach, OR]

julWe played bocce in July. [Platteville, WI]

augWe picnicked in August. [Platteville, WI]

sepMy sister got married in September. [Amity, OR]

octWe stamped envelopes in October. [Philadelphia, PA]

novThe Cubs won the World Series in November. [Chicago, IL]

decWe got festive in December. [Glen Mills, PA – We Laugh We Love Photography]

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Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

Happy Hallows’ Eve! As Anne and I prepare to watch the ever-important Chicago Cubs game tonight, I thought I’d share the recipe for some cookies we made this weekend. They are from The Salty Marshmallow and are the perfect Halloween-themed treat. It’s not too late to make some yourself. Maybe as you cheer on the Cubs?!

The secret to these cookies is that they include Butterfinger baking bits. Think chocolate candy-meets-homemade-baked-good. Yup. You’re welcome!

If you have trick-or-treat candy lingering into the week, you could crush anything and mix it into this delicate and chewy peanut butter cookie dough. Kit Kats, Snickers, Reese’s cups, M&Ms… The list goes on.

Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies (from The Salty Marshmallow)

Active time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 10 minutes | Yields: 60 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups Butterfinger baking bits

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In an electric mixer, beat butter and peanut butter until fluffy. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Beat in sugars and vanilla. While the mixer is running, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated. Stir in Butterfinger baking bits.

Use a spring-loaded scooper to create tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Drop onto prepared baking sheets. Press down slightly with the back of a spoon to flatten.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until bottoms are a light golden brown. Remove even if cookies do not appear completely baked. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

From Scissors & Sage

Happy Halloween!

How To Make Envelope Liners

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Making homemade envelope liners is a really nice way to spice up a letter or a card. They’re typically decorative in nature, and aim to complement the style of the envelope/card. Snail mail feng shui, anyone? Wrapping paper, magazine pages, photographs, and art are all great examples of what you can use to make these diy liners. There are so many different ways of doing it that it’s one craft that will never get old for me.

Below I’ll teach you how to make an envelope liner template and also how to adhere the envelope liner to the envelope. It’s fun and simple, and only takes a few minutes once you get the hang of it.

DIY Envelope Liners

Materials:

  • Envelope
  • Liner paper
  • Computer paper
  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape

Step 1: Open the envelope and trace its shape onto computer paper with a pencil. Cut it out using scissors and then cut an additional one inch off of the bottom.

Step 2: Slide the computer paper cut-out into the envelope. You might have to shave off an eighth of an inch on the left and right sides of the cut-out in order for it to fit. Does everything look right? Do all of the lines match up? If so, trace your cut-out onto a piece of cardboard to create a template. (Cereal box cardboard works really well!)

Step 3: Use the cardboard template to trace the envelope liner paper. Cut it out and slide it into the envelope.

Step 4: Read this carefully. Next, use one hand to hold the liner paper and envelope firmly in place. Use your other hand to fold down the envelope flap. Crease the envelope and liner together, and slide your finger across the seam to create a fold in the decorative paper, making sure that the envelope liner does not move in the process.

Step 5: Lift up only the envelope flap and you’ll notice that the liner paper sits an eighth of an inch below the envelope seam. Push up the liner paper so that the two seams sit right next to each other (see below).

Step 6: Place double-sided tape as close to the edges of the liner paper as possible. Holding the paper in place, fold down the envelope flap once more. Press firmly to secure the tape. Lift up, and the envelope liner will be adhered!

It is a good sign if the bottom of your envelope liner slides up and down when you open and close the envelope. It moves to accommodate the changing angles of the envelope flap!

Practice makes perfect with envelope liners. Don’t give up if it doesn’t look right the first few times. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough, and will be churning them out just in time for the holidays.

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Lessons From My Houseplants

I often think about how much I learn from my houseplants. I learn how to take care of them and keep them alive, yes, but I also learn patience, the importance of routine and reliability, amongst other things. Tending to plants is a great exercise in mindfulness. Each time I water my houseplants I check to see if they could use fertilizer, pruning, more adequate drainage, etc. Is there something that is hindering their growth? Without the natural elements, houseplants rely on humans to keep them alive. I’ve learned a lot from growing plants over the past few years, and here are some takeaways I thought I’d share with you today.

Everything has its season.

Over the course of Scissors & Sage’s three years, I’ve tended to slow down or take a break from writing in summer months. Sometimes I feel guilty about this, that I’m neglecting the blog, or that the break will turn into something more permanent. I don’t want it to be a project I’ve forgotten about. I’ve learned, though, that everything has its season. No plant grows consistently through all four seasons. Its growth depends on other variables like temperature, sunlight, and watering patterns. We’re instructed to ease up on fertilizing plants during winter months–they don’t need as many nutrients as they do when they’re producing flowers or growing more quickly in summer. We’re meant to ebb and flow, to move at different paces throughout the changing seasons. It’s okay.

We each need a different set of optimal growing conditions to thrive.

Some plants like a lot of sun. Others would have burned leaves if placed in that much direct light. Some like high humidity, while others prefer a desert-like environment. Like plants, we all need different things in order to thrive. I’d prefer bright light and dry air, personally. Maybe somewhere near water. I feel my best when I have routine sleep, breakfast every morning, and time to unwind each night. I can survive without these things, sure, but I’m bound to get a metaphorical yellow leaf here or there if it keeps up for too long.

Change and growth happen every day.

…Even if we can’t see it. It’s really incredible to watch plants grow each and every day. I enjoy watching my plants turn toward the sun, perk up after being watered, and sprout new leaves and flowers. There are few things more satisfying than watching something grow that you’ve tended to. Even if you can’t see each change happening each day, you can notice the differences from week-to-week or month-to-month, and know that those little things add up to become something great.

Never underestimate the importance of vitamin D.

Need I say more?

How do you ebb and flow throughout the year? What optimal growing conditions do you need in order to thrive? How do you see change and growth happening every day/week/month/year?

PLEASE VOTE! {Update: I won!}

Happy Saturday, readers! It’s pretty unusual to find me here on the weekend, so you know it has to be for good reason!

All Free Knitting is a website chockfull of free knitting patterns for all skill levels. They receive millions of views each week, and are a staple in a knitter’s online arsenal of tools. Back in October, the editor of All Free Knitting, Kathryn Abrams, reached out to me because she wanted to include my knit tie for Anne on her site (with a proper link back to Scissors & Sage). You can find that feature on All Free Knitting here.

Kathryn reached out again in March because she selected my knit tie to be a part of her latest e-book, 9 Men’s Knitting Patterns. (Click here to download it!) I couldn’t believe she wanted to feature me as one of nine patterns. The best part? I asserted that the pattern had to be introduced using inclusive language if she wanted to include me in the book.

THEN, Kathryn emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me that my tie had been hand-picked to be included in All Free Knitting’s “Top 5 Father’s Day Knitting Patterns” contest. I of course accepted the invitation! The winner is determined by the number of favorable comments they receive on All Free Knitting’s post. The winner gets a $50 Amazon gift card! If me and my tie model win, the card is going straight into our Ball jar labeled “Wedding Fund.” The contest is open until Friday, June 17th.

Readers, please take a moment to vote for Anne’s knit tie! It would be an honor to win this contest and be recognized for my knitting. Here’s how you can vote:

  1. Visit All Free Knitting’s “Top 5 Father’s Day Knitting Patterns” post.
  2. Leave a comment letting them know which of the five patterns is your favorite.

Not only will one of the knitting patterns win, but there’s something in it for you, too! All Free Knitting will choose one commenter at random to win a copy of their book, Simple Scarves Made with the Knook, and the Knook Kit.

Have a great weekend, everyone!