Friday, October 1, 2010


Okay, listen up all fans of the spooky, haunted and ghoulish variety. I've just found out there is a new gastro pub in Savannah called the Crypt Pub and it is on my must-visit immediately list. They have glass skulls to serve drinks in, drinks with mysterious vapors people! Isn't it great when new places open up? I have a bad habit of always going to the routine favorite places and forgetting to check out the new offerings, so my goal is to try one new Savannah restaurant each month. In fact, tonight we are headed to Ele which means October will be well covered for trying something new. How about you - do you find yourself at the same 3 or 4 restaurants all the time or do you always aim to try new places and mix up the routine?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Halloween Wish List

Halloween time is full on, and I couldn't be more delighted. In my quest to one day have the ultimate Halloween house, I have added some excellent decorative pieces to my Halloween wish list. Since I can't afford to buy everything that catches my fancy, how about I tempt readers with these lovelies instead.

First up, these creepy medical encyclopedia drawings from Pottery Barn are to die for but certainly on the pricey side. I found some similar items on Etsy in the Halloween decor shop from Owl Studio and Golden Rococo.

Another Pottery Barn item that caught my eye was the Halloween Countdown Calendar. As a kid I loved Advent calendars and this is basically the same idea. The scalloping gives it a lovely vintage Halloween touch, but I would really like to try my hand at making my own version out of felt. I think a haunted house with a graveyard in front would translate quite well and give lots of interesting pockets in the windows, doors, and gravestones.

One more Etsy shop that makes me want to add many items to the shopping cart is Pumpkin Hollow. Are those some perfectly spooky Jack O'Lanterns or what? The shop owners also have a blog called Pumpkin Rot where you can check out the splendid Halloween set ups they create each year. To borrow the words of Liz Lemon, I want to go to there.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anything Can Happen on Halloween

I spend the entire summer waiting for fall to get here, and the first signs of my favorite season turn up in the craft stores. While it may seem early to some people, Halloween has been on my mind for several weeks. I am going to officially declare that while the calendar may still be stuck in August, it is time to start planning your Halloween costumes and decorations. After all, there is no reason to miss out on savoring a favorite holiday for as long as possible. Now that the supplies can be found, I've taken my Michaels coupons and picked up a few items to create two Halloween decorations.

The style I'm working towards is a Gothic Victorian - not a gory Halloween aesthetic but more of a spooky, mysterious and dark vibe. That means black lace and candelabras, dark silhouettes, witchy potions, and creepy creatures like bats, spiders and rats. I have fantasies of doing a proper and massive Halloween set-up, complete with fog machines, these lace curtains, tombstones, a giant spider web, old-timey optical illusion portraits, and ghoulish organ music. A fun Halloween party idea borrowed from recent wedding trends is to make a photo booth for guests to enjoy. A spooky backdrop and some props based around a Halloween theme sound like a fun time to me. Some quality animatronics would be splendid as long as I'm being honest here. Every year is a chance to build up the collection of Halloween props, and here is what I'm currently working on.

The first item is this skull terrarium. I had a leftover glass cookie jar that didn't make the cut for our wedding candy buffet, and I just knew it would eventually come in handy for something. A little florist foam at the bottom of the jar gives the skull some height, and I've covered it with moss. The skull plus a few creepy spiders and now I have a spooky centerpiece.This is a super easy diy project if you don't have much time or energy.

My second project is from another major fan of Halloween, Martha Stewart herself. This black flower wreath fits in perfectly with a Gothic theme. I found black fake roses in the Halloween aisle at the craft store, which allows me to skip the step of spray painting the flowers. Here is the inspiration photo from the Martha Stewart website.

By the way, do you have any favorite or less-known Halloween movies? Last year for the first time I saw "The Worst Witch", which is where the title of this post comes from. Any fan of Halloween and/or Tim Curry should put this in the Netflix queue pronto.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


It has been a busy summer here at Dear Reader headquarters, though not much in the crafty arena. Let's just put this out there: the summer is when I tend to hibernate. Hot weather does not agree with me, and I simply bide my time until fall tips its hat in our direction. All productive and creative endeavors stall out while I do the minimum required of me and focus my efforts on air conditioning and ice cream. But somehow I've kept myself busy with plans and outings and fun things, leaving me no time to work on my shop ideas.

Last weekend we had a little getaway to Gatlinburg, where a hike led us to discover this little guy napping in the woods.

Next week I head up to Maine to celebrate my sister's birthday and (hopefully) get some cooler temperatures. I can report that the Obamas were visiting Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor recently, where Mount Desert Island Ice Cream shop has documented their ice cream flavor selections. For the First Lady, it was chocolate. And the President selected coconut (!) ice cream. I wanted to try the Nutella flavor last time I was in Bar Harbor, but sadly it wasn't available that week.

Monday, June 7, 2010

On the Side

My all time favorite movie is When Harry Met Sally. If you are familiar with it, you might remember that Sally ordered meals with sauces and dressings "on the side". As Harry told her, "on the side is a big thing with you". Which leads me to this: I think that creative people have projects they do "on the side". Even for someone lucky enough to make a living from their creative talents, it seems like extra projects as gifts or just for personal enjoyment continue to be crafted. Some of the most fun projects can be ones where perfection doesn't matter.Which is great - it can bring you back to the core reasons of why you love creating in the first place.  It is liberating to just make something for fun and without worrying about how it will turn out. Not to mention you might learn a new skill or improve an existing one.

I saw this felt flower wreath on the Purl Bee blog and was instantly smitten. I thought my sister might like it since she is so into plants that she teaches horticulture for a living. Except this was in January and with snow coating her entire state up in Maine, it seemed like a more colorful version would suit her better, something to brighten her office as an antidote to the winter gloom. Five months later and my version turned out like this:

After I had cut out the flowers and was piecing them on, I started thinking a more refined color palette would have been nice. This has red, burgundy, white, two different yellows, three different purples, and a green background. If I was going to make another felt flower wreath, I would probably keep the green background and limit the flowers to shades of yellow and white. This project was a pleasure but it also gave me a chance to learn more about color theory. I started out as a use every color of crayon in the box person, but I think limiting the colors has a more pleasing effect. And Eric is helping me learn about triangulating colors and other important artistic principles.

Another project I'm keen on trying from the Purl Bee blog are these napkins. They would be a jolly good side project to help build my confidence on the sewing machine. I highly recommend checking out the Purl Bee for some inspiring ideas and projects on a variety of crafts.

So how about you - do you have any creative projects you enjoy on the side?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sneak Preview - Bunting

Hello there! I'm excited about my new felty creation, my own take on the bunting trend. Also known as garland, banners, and even pennants, there are so many ways to string up something irresitibly cheerful.

There are two versions right now; one in cool colors:

And one in colors that remind me of a lemonade stand: 

Once I figure out some better photographs, these will be going up for sale in the Dear Reader shop. I've been really into scalloping details lately, so it was fun to find a way to work that in with some felt.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Origins of the Modern Family Crest

This post is much overdue, but I believe an explanation is in order for the origins of the Modern Family Crest. Part of the explanation lies in my deep appreciation for all things Harry Potter, with the style firmly lodged in my mind as being very special. Perhaps also having just watched both Monster Camp and Role Models is a factor, but at some point last spring the idea popped in my head that heraldry was quite interesting. I liked the basic aesthetic and the fact that bearers of these symbols shared a sense of  "these are my people and this is what we are all about". I knew the symbols and their placement had specific meanings, but only a serious expert would be able to decipher the intricacies and message behind family crests and shields. It was time for an update, not only for modern interests such as baking and photography instead of swords and archery. But an update that even people who are not experts can quickly piece together and realize "Oh yeah, you are into music and canoeing and dogs - I like that!".

Still with me?

I also happen to like silhouettes. We stamped silhouettes of our dogs on bags for the candy buffet at our wedding (shout out to S&H Confectioners!). We also printed silhouettes on votive covers for the tables. Felt is another favorite; the texture and the richness of the colors makes it irresistible to me. Clearly my love of felt and silhouettes were meant to be united, and they joined forces with the heraldry idea to become the Modern Family Crest.

So the quest began, as all of my plans do, with a list. A massive brainstorming ensued, where I thought of the various things that people like to do and I would like to cut out of felt. Then Eric helped me figure out what would translate into a silhouette design that still looked recognizable. Some ideas didn't work and were discarded after earnest efforts: a typewriter and a computer ended up not working. The animals are the most appealing to me. After a bit of research, we decided two shield shapes and several color options would give the flexibility to really customize each Modern Family Crest. Believe me, there are many more variations in actual heraldry but that can get overwhelming.
So after much drawing on Eric's part, we ended up with our two shield shapes and over 40 symbols. The Butterfield shape is shown here in blue:

And the Cavendish shape is shown here in red:

Because I wanted to offer a variety of options to customize the Modern Family Crest, there are five shield colors available to put on the totes: red, blue, yellow, gray, and green. Are you ready for a list of the 40 symbols to choose from? Here it is:

Acorn - Airplane - Bicycle - Bear - Book - Camera - Campfire - Candy - Canoe - Cat - Cupcake - Dog - Elephant - Fall Leaves - Fork + Spoon - Fox - Gears - Horseshoe - Hot Air Balloon - House - Ice Cream Cone - Lotus Flower - Mountains - Mushroom - Octopus - Owl - Paper + Inkwell + Quill - Pint of Beer - Pipe - Rabbit - Robot - Rocket Ship - Scissors - Skeleton Key - Squirrel - Submarine - Suitcase - Teapot - Trees - Top Hat + Mustache - Victrola Record Player