geek out: a handmade holiday

by lizzie & isaiah on December 16, 2010 · 25 comments

geek out - a collection of greats from around the web worth freaking out about.

We are broke. Literally, absolutely broke. This isn’t the first time we’ve been spotted in this habitat as the majestic brokealopes that we can be…but we’re six months into mutual unemployment and our savings is all but dried up with little crumbs leading us back to when I, so brilliantly, decided I could afford to go to school full-time without working and then the caca hit the fan, as it usually does.

So this year, we’re going handmade for Christmas. I mean…it’s because we’re incredibly thoughtful and no pre-bought gifts will satisfy our understanding of our families…yeah, that’s the one. No really, it’s a mix of both.

I love handmade gifts from other people. I hope people love handmade gifts from us.

Projects for this year include yarn wreaths and embroidery. Enjoy.

Freelance Embroidery

I have always loved sewing, embroidery and cross stitching. This year, I did some freelance embroidery on linen and added some buttons and stain to the hoops for a little extra. I’m worried that blue is a little light and I might have to cut it out and redo it…Say it ain’t so!

freelance embroidery with buttons indie style

If you haven’t noticed by now, I love kitsch. Bad.

freelance embroidery indie style buttons in hoope

This one is my favorite, I think. Definitely took the longest. Although I used linen for all of the others, I used plain old off-white, on sale fabric for this one. It’s not any harder when you’re freestylin’…rapping, that is.

freestyle embroidery, handmade gifts, indie, vintage style

If you’re wondering where to get started: Pick up some super-cheap embroidery hoops, as many colors of thread as you’d like, needles (if you’re going to use buttons, get a set of different sized ones so they’ll fit through the holes (that’s also what she said)) and either linen or fabric. There a lot of resources online – including the different types of stitches and ideas and what not.

Isaiah mixed several colors of paint and water to get a fine wood stain that would leave the grain in tact, but you can paint them or buy wood stain for an added touch if you’d like.

When you’re finished and have painted the hoop, stretch the fabric again really tight over the hoop, tighten the hoop as much as you can and cut the excess away.

Estimated cost per project: $4.50 or so.

Yarn Wreaths

I’ve seen them everywhere. I know I’m not starting anything new here, folks. I used this yarn wreath tutorial to get started. I picked colors that I thought complemented each family/person’s personality and colors at home, some felt and some “ornaments” for an added touch…I went to Michael’s and they were about 60 cents each in the floral section…Hobby Lobby had a crappy selection.

Things you’ll need, you ask?

Well, okay.

Hot glue gun, Felt, (Any other accessories), Straw or foam wreaths, Yarn, Scissors.

supplies for making a yarn wreath with felt flowers

The first one I made, I used “Super Saver” yarn, which worked the best out of all of the different brands and styles I chose (I made three so far, in the middle of three more). Hard to tell in the extreme lowlight that exists here at FIVE pm, but it’s dark grey, not black or purple or some other color you’re thinking of…I’m not a mind reader, jeez. I used goldenrod and purple flowers and a mixed-color floral pick.

grey yarn wreath with felt flowers

Next, I worked with purple yarn with yellow and grey felt flowers and a floral pick. Also, we’ve been drinking quite a bit of wine lately. This was, by far, the worst yarn I worked with. It’s silk-sheen..which means it’s really pretty, soft and sparkly but a crazy bitch-and-a-half to work with. As you might be able to see, no matter how tightly I wound the yarn and layered it up, you can see the straw through in some parts and it’s so thin that this little yarn wreath took me the longest out of all of them. Yikes.

purple yarn wreath with felt flowers

These are a couple of the floral picks I used. I love the one on the right and I didn’t get a good photo of it and already gave it away! Oh no! This is the worst…I might get over it…eventually…we’ll see…kidding.

floral picks for yarn wreaths

This one is much bigger than the other two (that’s what she said) and the above, left photo is of the ornament I used. I worked with some weird, fluffy looking yarn for this one, which was more expensive and kept getting knotted…I had to keep cutting and retying…cutting and retying and yadda yadda.

brown yarn wreath with felt flowers

Estimated cost per wreath (averaged between large and small costs): $6.50 – $8.00 or so. Some are a little more, most are at the low end of that estimate.

Hope you have a great, handmade holiday this year…but if you’re not broke, don’t feel guilty for buying presents, it’s all good. For some more handmade gift inspiration, check out Craft My Life, where Lisa is posting awesomely creative DIY projects for the season and some of the Pinterest gift guides. There are, obviously, ten globbering-jillion other options for inspiration, but those two are my favorites. I also like to peruse around Etsy and figure out what I could make myself…admission of guilt, maybe.

Happy holidays, folks. We’ll post a template tonight. My grandma’s in town from Ohio for my graduation – which I still am not prepared for in the least…emotionally and I need my gown steamed and to pick up my sash. Why is everyone rushing me? Jeez…

Happy holidays. Merry Christmas.


gift guide: city boy

by lizzie & isaiah on December 9, 2010 · 22 comments

Template Thursdays will be back…we have some important business to attend to first: I have been a little irked at some of the gift guides going around. I have only found one or two things that I could even see for Isaiah out of all of the guides I’ve seen. While I don’t think I am a guru of gifts, I am a person who puts a lot of thought into the gifts that I give.

I tweeted recently that I wanted to put together a gift guide for most* men, not the lumberjack-woodsmen and too-artsy-for-their-own-good indie kids, but for a guy who has good taste, an eye for aesthetics, a love of anything that plugs in and a stomach. Yep. So that’s what I did.

I will tell you one thing: Isaiah’s gift(s) are inside the post…and I was pretty proud after I picked everything out and he said, “Oh…WHAT?! That is awesome…no that is awesome!” No sir, you’re awesome.


You don’t have to spend a lot on electronics. Don’t be silly. I picked out a couple of things from a range of budgets, because I know not everyone is in the broke-boat this Christmas.

1. Otterbox phone cover for the HTC Evo, but they make them for a lot of others, starting at $19.95. From Isaiah, “The coolest, most indestructable case for your phone.” For the brutes of the world.

2. HDMI adapter for iMac and MacBook. Don’t pay for Hulu plus…c’mon. For $2.97, you can plug your computer (this one’s apple, but you can find them for PC if your resolution is high enough) into your TV.

3. Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet. Starting (new) at $58.07, you can turn his doodling habits into artwork, take his graphic design interest to the next level or introduce his artistic talent to a new form.

4. Logitech Harmony One touch screen remote. Starting (new) at $159.58. Controls multiple home theatre devices from one beautiful, sleek, touch-screen remote.

gift guide - electronics

Stocking Stuffers

I picked all of these out from Fred Flare after seeing Mo’s Bacon Choco Chip Pancake Mix on Cup of Jo, but a lot of unsuspecting places carry awesomely cheap gag gifts…around here the campus bookstore is the coolest place for this kind of thing.

1. Bacon Beans. $6 for a laugh. $6 for him to secretly, actually enjoy eating jellybeans flavored like bacon.

2. Douchebag Citations. $6. Reminded me a bit of the man-up card, which you can also give him a stack of for the cost of a rubberband.

3. Bacon Chocolate-Chip Pancake Mix. $15. Maybe Isaiah likes bacon more than the average man, but I doubt it.

4. Egg Nog Bubblegum. $5. I believe I found these somewhere. Can’t remember.

gift guide - stocking stuffers

Angry Birds

1. If Angry Birds plush toys aren’t one of the raddest, most useless and topical things around right now…I’m not sure what is. Maybe I’m confused and it’s not the app that’s being downloaded 60,000 times per day. $14.99. (You should pair this up with an awesome slingshot – why aren’t they making these yet?).

gift guide - angry bird plush toys


I’m pretty sure that I could get Isaiah a 6-pack of delightfully delicious beer for Christmas and he would tear up, but some foods would be especially dope gifts for guys.

1. Beer Cheese Dip. Beer. Cheese. You can’t go wrong. (Cost of ingredients).

2. Beer of the Month Club. Every month, you get 12 bottles of incredibly hard to find, regional microbrews delivered to your home. $101.85 for three months. Pricey, but amazing.

3. Portillo’s Chicago-style hotdogs in a box. We are Chicagoans to the core. And we can’t find a decent f*cking hotdog anywhere. Poppy seed buns, people…where are all of the poppy seed buns? If you want to get him a taste of Chicago, ten dogs and all the accoutrement are $53.95 or you can order two (freaking delicious) Gino’s East pizzas to be delivered for about the same (and can we really put a cost on the fun of dry ice?).

gift guide - food


1. Pulp Fiction Postcard. Frame it. Put it on the wall. $2.95.

2. The Principles of Uncertainty. Spotted this on a blog recently…I’m upset that I can’t remember where. Dang. Anyways, it’s an awesomely illustrated book. New for $16.20 or if you’re broke like me and willing to sacrifice a little tact (or help the environment) you can go used for $8.21.

3. “How We Met” posters. This is a beautiful idea. Spotted these on Emmaline Bride the other day. You can buy one on Etsy for $38, or you can make/draw/design one yourself for cheap.

4. Sherlock Holmes, the fine edition. New from $13.78. Spotted on Black*Eiffel. Loving. They’re cloth-bound with wrap-around covers and beautiful designs. What’s weird is that underneath all that art? Is a totally classic, awesome read.

gift guide - sexy things

Sexy, Sexy

1. Le Male cologne by Jean Paul Gaultier. I don’t know about your guy, but Isaiah loves smelling delicious as much as I love him smelling delicious. Although cologne can be hard to buy for someone else, there are a few scents that can stand all on their own. $57.99 might seem a little steep for cologne (at least for me), but it lasts so long and you might find it cheaper in a perfume store in the mall.

2. Very Sexy for Him by Victoria’s Secret. $33.50 for the 1.7 oz bottle (the one I got him a few years ago, still goin’ strong). Smells…delectable. You can also try Very Sexy for Her if you haven’t yet…it’s ultra-spicy…a nice change to the average floral-y scent. I got both of those (separately) in “gift kits” at Victoria’s Secret that had the 1.7 oz, lotion and a sweet box I use for photos and letters now for $27 each.

3. Lingerie. Seems like a gift for you…really a gift for him? Maybe. This one’s $120, but only an example of super-sexy (yes, I am 5 years old, thank you), but flattering-to-you lingerie.

4. Black Walnut by Banana Republic. $31.95 and one of my favorite, rich, woodsy scents he has.

sexy gifts for men, cologne, gift guide

So I hope I just whooped most other gift guides in the ass, but really, there are tons of gifts your guy really wants out there that can fit your budget.

Other awesomely destructive gifts for those of you with juevos…an air-soft gun or a slingshot.

Happy hunting.

*I say most because I think there’s something for a lot of different types of guys in here…and everything fits what someone like Isaiah would want.