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 ūüôā

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?

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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?

Picking Favorites: Warm Weather iPhone Wallpapers

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My iPhone wallpaper is not something I usually think about. I find one I like — typically an image that Apple provides — and keep it for a year or more without even batting an eyelash. There are more pressing matters to worry about, no? I started to think about my wallpaper, though, when West Elm posted an Instagram photo of two new free wallpapers they designed. They were so cute that I instantly downloaded them. Now I see cute little blue fish¬†when I check the time on my lock screen! Anything to get me in the mindset of sun and warmth.

This inspired me to round up other wallpapers from across¬†the Internet. I knew there had to be more fun¬†ones out there. Below you’ll find all kinds of¬†images to welcome the (finally) warmer weather and get you ready for beach/swimsuit/bbq/picnic season.

Do you have a favorite iPhone wallpaper? Which is your favorite here? Below you’ll find directions for setting up your new wallpaper.

Watercolor

Strokes from ban.do

Lemons

Lemons from Neiko Ng

Mermaids Don't Cry

Mermaids from ban.do

Leaves

Leaves from Leah Goren

Pineapples

Pineapples from ModCloth

Clouds

Clouds from Yao Cheng

Watermelons

Watermelons from Wonder Forest

Watercolor Plants

Plants from ban.do

Watercolor Strokes

Watercolor from Lines Across

Swirls

Swirls from ban.do

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Flamingos from West Elm

Summer Fun

Summer Fun from ban.do

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Fish from West Elm

Strawberries

Strawberries from The Wonder Forest

Found a favorite? Here’s how it works.

If you’re reading this from your computer |¬†Click on the image you’d like to use. Download it to your desktop, and then email or text it to your phone. Open the image on your phone, and save it to your camera roll. Open Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper > Camera Roll. Select¬†the image, move and scale it however you’d like, and make sure Still is highlighted (rather than Perspective). Click Set.

If you’re reading this from your phone/tablet | Click on the image you’d like to use. Press and hold and then click¬†Save Image. Open Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper > Camera Roll. Select¬†the image, move and scale it however you’d like, and make sure Still is highlighted (rather than Perspective). Click Set.

Enjoy!

DIY Address Book

One of the things that is most vivid in my mind from childhood is the address book my parents kept in the kitchen drawer. The outside was covered in a patterned green paper, tattered around the edges from decades of use, and the inside was kind of hairy — business cards and scraps of paper with phone numbers written down were tucked between the already-full pages. Names and addresses had been written and rewritten as¬†people moved or as¬†someone got a cell phone for the first time.

Only now am I realizing how important it is to have a book like this, filled over years with¬†friends and family we can reach out to. These days, it seems like community networks are growing¬†smaller and smaller. This was not the case when I was growing up. Maybe it’s a symptom of being twenty-something.

But who has an address book these days? Everything is in “the cloud,” and I’m still trying to figure out what that means exactly. Information is scattered between apps and devices, and conveniently vanishes when I¬†go looking for it. It is¬†high time for our very first address book.

If there’s one thing you can find many of in our apartment, it’s blank notebooks. I can’t¬†say why, exactly, but we just have this thing for notebooks. Obviously, I wasn’t about to go out and buy an address book when I’m sitting on gold. Time to DIY!

DIY Address Book

Materials:

  • Blank notebook with about 80 pages
  • Letter stickers
  • Colored paper
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors

Step 1: Stick each letter on different colors of paper. Cut out the colored paper so that there is a small border around the letter.

Step 2: Line up the alphabet along the edge of the notebook to decide on spacing. Use double-sided tape to adhere the colored paper¬†to the inner edge of the notebook.¬†(Note: It’s up to you how many pages each letter gets. I gave mine anywhere from 1-4 pages, depending on the letter.)

Step 3: Get creative with a title page!

That’s really all there is to it. It was a fun project, and one that we’ll be reaping the benefits of for a long time to come. Here’s to building community. Happy crafting!

30-Day “Reset” Challenge

January tends to get all the credit for “starting over.” I don’t know about you, but when January rolls around, our kitchen counters are still full of leftover holiday desserts, our Christmas tree still has opened presents under it, and the last thing on my mind is going to the gym.

February is usually a slog, although this year a little less! It’s leap year, so today I feel like I am winning at life. Plus, it’s my once-every-four-years half birthday. Yeah!

March is where it’s at. It’s almost spring! We, at large, cannot accept the fact that climate change is a real, scientifically-proven thing that is happening, and yet we whole-heartedly trust a ground hog when he pops up¬†to tell us spring is coming early this year. I guess I’ll take what I can get. These hints of warmer weather in Philly recently have just been the best.

So with spring on the mind, I’ve been inspired to try my first-ever challenge. Let it be known: you can eat as much dessert as you want in this challenge, and I will never suggest that you should go to the gym. This is a different kind of challenge. A “reset” challenge if you will. I like the idea of starting fresh with the changing season, and making new growth¬†with nature. If there is one thing I know to be true, it is the importance of living simply.

The objective of this challenge is simple: Complete each task every day, and don’t beat yourself up if you miss one here or¬†there. It’s okay.

Download the image to your computer (click here). Print it out and hang it in your kitchen. Write out the tasks¬†in your calendar or planner. Whatever will help you most in completing each day’s challenge is what I want you to do. If this is your first time trying a month-long challenge, I am joining you in that! Let’s reconvene in April to discuss how it went.

Leave a comment if you’re participating. I’d love to hear how you’re going to stick to your daily tasks! (I’m putting them in our monthly calendar.)

Inspiration for my 30-day “reset” challenge came from Apartment Therapy and¬†Into Mind.