stuff at home

cozy puzzle time

I think we are far enough out of mega winter for me to share this project without jinxing the weather. Rachel and I spent two months, cooped up inside this winter, working on this 500 piece impossible puzzle. Calling it “impossible” was only slightly an overstatement. When I brought it home, Rachel rolled her eyes and wished me luck. I opened it up, started putting the border together, and about a week later we were both elbow deep in puzzle mania. We would work on it for hours in the evening, and again when we woke up in the morning. The going was slow- sometimes we would stare at the puzzle for almost ten minutes without being able to put two pieces together. We devised all sorts of strategies to tease out subtle differences in color to make construction easier. We were obsessed, and it was fun! Toward the very end we had the idea to take pictures so we could make a GIF. We almost pulled an all-nighter to finish it. At some point we got too tired and had to leave the rest for the morning. Impossible puzzle

When we finished it, we decided that we couldn’t take it apart after all that hard work. I used spray glue to affix the puzzle to an art board. When the glue dried, I painted the top with a clear sealant like Mod Podge.

E-photo 5 (2)

I trimmed the art board and I framed it, and there it stands! It may not be a great work of art, but it kept us entertained in the darkest days of winter. That’s a memory I’d like to keep around.

E-finished puzzle

Hope you enjoyed the mini tour of our little rowhome during this post.



I’d like to share a guest post with you today. My old friend and sometimes photographer Emily has gotten in to painting furniture lately. I’m always impressed at how she is able to transform old pieces of furniture into something eye catching. Her designs are so simple and classic. Today I’ve invited her to share one of her recent projects. Take it away, Em!

The first piece of furniture I painted was this past summer (2013). I painted an old bookshelf blue and white. I like painting furniture because it gives a room a new look and can revamp something you may have had for a long time. Giving a piece of furniture a makeover can help you see a whole room with new eyes. I haven’t quite mastered painting furniture, and I’m still figuring out best practices, but I have a lot of fun doing it.


I found this rocking chair in an old barn when I was helping to clean out a friend’s property. My godson is having his first birthday in May and I thought it would be a perfect gift.

My cousin Caroline and I did this project together. First we wiped the chair down to clean it off. There was a lot of chipped paint we had to get rid of. The chair was too small to use a power sander, so we sanded it off by hand using a rough grade of sand paper. The more you sand a surface, the smoother it will get- the grade of sand paper doesn’t matter that much. We wiped down the chair a second time to get rid of all the dust from sanding.


Next, we spray painted the chair with a navy blue matte spray paint (Rustoleum brand). We did two very thin coats so that it wouldn’t drip. We waited an hour between the two coats of paint. You can put a fan or a heater by the paint so that it will dry faster between coats. If your coat of paint is thin enough, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to dry between coats. After two coats of blue paint, we let the chair dry over night.


To paint the C on the seat, I printed out a C in a font I liked (Times New Roman or something similar). I used the C as a stencil and painted it with white paint.


Once the C dried, I sealed the whole chair with a glossy sealer to make the paint last. The chair is currently waiting for May in my house, anticipating its adorable new owner!


Another project I’m planning this summer is to strip a bookshelf down to its original wood and then stain it a dark color.

Thanks so much for sharing, Em! For more information on painting furniture, I would recommend this article and this article as good places to start.


This is another post in which I go gaga over snail mail. More specifically, a post in which I follow some tutorials I found on A Beautiful Mess to make a care package to send to one of my collegiate friends. I remember how disconnected I was from home when I was in college, and letters/packages from home gave me such a warm, fuzzy feeling, made it all a little less lonely. I used to get giddy over snail mail from home, so I like to pay it forward when I have the chance.
I found this tutorial  on making these adorable little books. I used white paper and velvet animal print fabric to make the book, and then I embroidered the cover with beads!


washi tape roses
I also found this cool rose washi tape that I included with the package, and one of those Valentine’s Day cards from a while back (with a note inside apologizing for my tardiness, of course).

Then I followed this this brilliant tutorial on making your own packaging (um why did I not think of this?!).


I cut out an appropriate sized piece of a paper bag, which I stitched together with a basting stitch on my machine (my needle wasn’t super happy about it, but it did okay). I addressed it, crammed aforementioned items inside, sewed remaining edge closed, and popped it in the mail! Heres hoping she enjoys it.


20140302-231408.jpgWhat other items do you like to include in care packages?



Ok so I feel like I have to write one obligatory post about something Christmassy- even though I don’t do Christmas, almost everyone I know does, and I still make/buy some small presents for my friends. Also Hanukkah was unseasonably early this year, and I haven’t quite gotten my fill of winter holidays yet. So that’s my Jewish justification for making ornaments.

I made these ornaments for some friends who are map and travel lovers.

You need:
An old map
Printer paper and some colored paper
Plastic needle
Rubber cement



Cut out a two of the same shape from the map, such as a heart, snowman, or snowflake. When you cut out the first shape, it may help to fold it in half so it is symmetrical. Use the first shape to trace and cut out the second shape so they are the same- they will eventually be glued back to back.




Use the rubber cement to glue one of the shapes to the white paper. Wait till it dries, and then cut it out. Glue the second shape to the back, let it dry, and then even out the edges with the scissors.


Since you have the glue out, now is a good time to make the message tag hanging from the bottom of the ornament. Cut out a rectangle from the colored paper and glue it in half. After it dries, write your message on it. I wrote, “Merry Xmas” on the front and “from Claire” on the back.



Now you connect everything with string, using the plastic needle. Cut about 11 inches of string for the top and 4 inches to connect the message tag to the ornament. Thread the plastic needle, poke it through the top of the ornament, and then tie a knot.



I drew a face on the snowman:


That’s it! Hang them on the tree (if you have one) or in the window, or send them to your friends so they can hang them on their trees.



You know all those squished pennies you collected on trips as a kid? The ones where you pick a design, insert penny and quarters, then turn the crank until the penny drops out, magically transformed into a souvenir of whatever museum or national park you are visiting? I have like 60 some of them. The collection I amassed as a child was sitting around in a box with no one to enjoy the nostalgia those little pennies induce until I decided to make magnets out of them.

What you need:
Squished pennies
Round magnets (from your local craft store)
Hot glue gun and hot glue
Sand paper

What you do:
1. Choose your pennies. Some are probably a little curved from the penny squishing machine. Do your best to bend them flat with your hands. If you can’t, no biggie.
2. Rough up the back of the pennies a little with the sand paper and wipe them clean. Wipe the magnets clean too (they usually have some magnet dust on them).
3. Liberally apply hot glue to the back of each penny and then press the magnet into the hot glue. You may need to add some more hot glue so that it comes up around the sides of the magnet. Do this one at a time to each of the pennies because you need to stick the magnet on while the glue is piping hot.


4. Let cool completely. Then stick the penny magnets on your fridge, magnetic wall, metal object, or wherever they’ll attach. Sit back and enjoy as the memories of being a kid, squishing pennies, and the places you visited come rushing back every time you pass by.
My desk is red enameled metal, so I’ve been using the magnets to hold reminders I leave myself, and just to decorate.




20131128-104731.jpgTwo of my favorite holidays- Thanksgiving and Hanukkah- have merged in a once in a lifetime event! We are celebrating with some family friends, and serving foods from both holidays. I’m most looking forward to trying the Manischewitz cranberry applesauce, especially as a topping on latkes. The turkey is currently in the oven and the kitchen smells like herbs and salty, oily, turkey goodness. There are gelt coins in a bowl for the kids, and the table is set. I can hardly wait for the guests to arrive!






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We will also be singing this song to celebrate the day:

Happy Thanksgivukkah everyone. Hope your holiday is full of family, friends and love.


My mom found these solid, lovely shaker style stools on Craigslist for an amazingly low price… because the seats were white, and very dirty. She tried hosing them down to clean the seats, but to no avail! The next time I visited, she said, “Claire, I have a project for you!” And it was a project- an involved, finger achingly long project. But oh so satisfying. And the results were totally worth it.
Basically, I unwove the seats and re-wove them with new, clean, green shaker tape.

I ordered new shaker tape from this website, which was about $35/chair. A chair maker friend recommended I buy 20 yds of 1 inch tape.
He also said, in an email, “They are woven in shaker tape which is woven cotton cloth you can buy for $30 a chair. It’s a simple over under pattern. Do the warp first just wrapping it back to front starting at the back left and then when you start the weft, you do like a wrap around the back rail and go onto the side rail and work your way to the front going back and forth till you get to the front. Then I use these things surgeons use for sewing sutures that look like long needle nose pliers. You pull the tape along and tuck it in when you are done. If it’s a trapezoid and not square, you can weave a row on the sides going to the back from the front and tuck it in. Also, a cushion can be woven in midway. I make an envelope and fill it with shavings from the chair I’ve made. It is firm. You can also write a letter to the future about yourself or whatever. I do this.”
This website also had extremely helpful directions.
I used needle nose pliers to pull out the staples holding the shaker tape in place, making drawings to document how it was put together as I took them apart. It turned out that there was a piece of foam in the middle of all the weaving, so I put it back in place as I rewove the new seat.
I measured out new lengths of shaker tape against the old, un-woven tape. Finally, I carefully rewove the seats with the new tape, putting the cushion back in place between the two layers. I rewove both the top of the seat and its underside to make sure the seat would stay tightly woven for years to come. My dad had some tiny tacks that I used in place of the original upholstery staples to hold the ends of the tape. It took me a few weeks of evenings to finish all three stools.

Every time I come home I love to sit on these stools. I’m really proud of how they turned out. I will certainly be enjoying them when I visit my parents for Thanksgiving this week.





For anyone interested in more on chair-making, my friend doesn’t have a website, but another chair maker he likes has a blog here.



Things I’ve found lying on the ground, or that went unclaimed for weeks after a party, or broke off of something else. Things with interesting shapes I’ve noticed, brought home (and washed, of course), and saved for a future project. These are some of my favorites from my growing collection, accumulated over years of watching the ground and looking in corners. Although I should probably be thinking more about making warm sweaters and fall things (and studying), my mind is more occupied with how to use some of these found objects. Stay tuned.

I had some fabric scraps lying around, and wanted to make a fabric covered journal. I picked up a couple little journals from my local craft store and got to work.

Here are my supplies

First I traced the journal onto felt and cut out a piece for each side. This will be hidden by the fabric over it eventually, but will make the journal softer. Then I hot glued the felt on the front and back of the cover.



Then I cut out the piece of fabric that will cover the journal. I did this by laying the book open, flat, and tracing a large border around it.

I glued the fabric to the inside of the journal covers, making sure to leave enough room for the book to close. It helps if you cut diagonals on the corners to remove extra fabric. Around the spine I cut a notch in the fabric and folded it under.


I cut a piece of card stock slightly smaller than the inside of the cover and glued it over the raw edges. The journal will close better if you leave some room between the edge of the card stock and the fold.



There it is! I glued a button to the front of the journal, and glued a ribbon to the back (under the cardstock on the inside) to keep this one closed. You could also add a bookmark. If your journal has trouble closing, keep it under something heavy for a week.
Happy journaling!

One of my favorite ways to make cards is the good ‘ol cut-n-paste. Here are a couple birthday cards I made recently.

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2013-09-03 19.14.54


These are super easy to make. Just cut out letters, arrange, and paste! I like to use a gluestick or double sided tape (more time consuming but less messy). You can also cut out shapes and pictures to decorate.

I used an Ikea catalog and and some promo materials from Birchbox for these cards