Giving this year: DIY city quilts

Now that the calendar is hitting the last week of October I'm giving a little thought (very very little, mind you) to Christmas giving. I'd love to make at least a few of the gifts so I should probably get started! Maybe you're in the same boat. One thing for sure: I am itching to make a city quilt (or fourteen) from Haptic Lab. 

I've had my eye on their work for a couple of years. Their city quilts are amazing. Now they also offer DIY quilt kits, either the basic kit (pattern and instruction) for $38 or with materials included for $74.

NYC DIY city quilt kit,  photos via Haptic Lab

NYC DIY city quilt kit, photos via Haptic Lab

I can think of so many great recipients for these--as a hometown remembrance for kids who are getting ready to leave for uni or jobs or who have dreams of traveling, for friends with affinities for a certain city, for your own family to remember and mentally travel through cities you've loved together. It would also be wonderful to give the kit itself as a gift to one of your kids who loves creating things.

The beauty is that you can embroider little messages and important spots onto the quilt to personalize it and make it especially meaningful.

Boston DIY city quilt

Boston DIY city quilt

The only problem for me is I wouldn't be able to decide which city (there are 19 to choose from so far). And it's not just cities. They also offer USA and world map quilt kits--a fun gift to personalize and give someone (or, let's face it, yourself!) to document all the places they've lived or to highlight a journey. AND THEN there's the constellation quilt kits!

Haptic Labs also offers very cool ship kites and other custom kites. I think this red orange one could be fun for kite flying and equally fabulous hanging from the ceiling in a favorite room:

Here's a great little clip from Emily Fischer, the artist behind Haptic Labs, on the constellation quilts:

p.s Haptic Labs doesn't know I exist and definitely didn't pay for me to rave about them. I just get really excited when people come up with great ideas, create them, and share with the rest of us.

Definitely let me know if you decide to make one. I'd love to see what you do with it! Right now I'm trying to decide between Boston, NYC, London, or the world. 

A few good gems

Egon Schiele, Crescent of Houses, 1915

Egon Schiele, Crescent of Houses, 1915

Welcome, weekend! I'm ready for you. This week has been a bit of a doozy BUT, as of today, the kids are done with the high pressures of exam week here (it's almost the end of the school year for Aussie students) and G just arrived back from his 2-week transcontinental business trip so I'm looking forward to some good, relaxed weekend vibes. But first, here are a few things to launch you into the weekend (and a couple for next week for you Thanksgiving celebrants):

- Try this experiment to become a morning person.

- Are children like dogs and teens like cats

- Learning to let your children reveal themselves (and, relatedly, remember our show me who you are post?)

- When my teen needs a ride

- Lots of truth in this post about mastery and choices and piano lessons: "Look, the truth is that your kid can't be a black belt in karate and a ski racer and a soccer player and a pianist and an "A" student and a dancer and in the school can go broad or you can go deep; that's your choice. But you need to know that learning to play the piano takes place in the deep end of the ocean."

- Make an easy Thanksgiving garland

Instead of candles at the kids' table, you could make (or they could make) and use these adorable paper pyramid lanterns

photo via  Willowday

photo via Willowday

- And I'll leave you with this gem from the inimitable Erma Bombeck: "The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together." 

Enjoy your own band of characters this weekend! See you back here on Monday. xx

Getting carded: The holiday card post

Confession: I love holiday cards. Truly, madly deeply adore the whole shebang. I love creating them, writing them, love finding them in the mailbox, reading them and, yes, love being entertained by them at times when they get out of hand in the braggery or too-much-information department. I know some people are a bit ambivalent about holiday cards (too much hassle, too expensive, social media alternatives) but I am not one of them. I am firmly in the pro-card column.

The ideal holiday card for me is a little funny, a little original, something that captures the family's spirit and gives a little news. Pictures, please, preferably of the whole family, not just your kids. It doesn't have to pricey or fancy, though. 

Our cards have run the gamut.  Some years we just managed to take a photobooth shot and stick it to some paper, too late even to find any red or green paper to use:

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2007


Other years we used the cheesy roller coaster photo from our vacation. It still makes me laugh. It was a completely unstaged keeper: 

Christmas 2004

Christmas 2004


But sometimes, when I have time to let my mind run wild, I like coming up with something a bit different, like this library book slip format we tucked into a photo card:

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

I've been moseying around the internet looking for some card inspiration lately.  We haven't had professional photos taken this year so I know we'll be going with a more home grown approach so I've been collecting good ideas. Here are some trends and ideas I've collected that I thought you might like, too: 

I love the originality of this stacked box idea. They did their individual and some group shots each taken in one box and then used photo editing to make the 4x4 cube. Of course, this could also be the way to do that Brady Bunch card of your dreams:


I also love a photo with personality. This book shot is great: 


Someday we're going to do an outdoor window shot. I mean, I might have to locate a a french provincial mansion owner who won't mind an impromptu photo shoot but it's Going To Happen. 


I really like the infographic design trend. Such a perfect way to get a lot of information on one card. (Judging from how many versions of this you can find on Pinterest, lots of other people like it, too!)

by Amanda Jane Jones

by Amanda Jane Jones

I can see many fun ways to incorporate this idea of using thought bubbles as backgrounds for a photo on a card: 


Here's a twist on the photo card. What about a photo envelope?


If you use Instagram (or just have a representative shot from every month) I really like this simple layout. Sorry; the link was broken but it looks like photo/idea credit goes to Little Deer:


Looking for more inspiration? I love this article from an old issue of Smithsonian magazine, exhibiting artists' Christmas cards over the years. Lots of great ideas and creativity there. 

And what to do with all those cards after the holidays? What about this idea: take a phone photo of your friends' cards and make it their contact photo on your phone.

. . . 

Okay, now. You get the idea.
How 'bout you? What's your card philosophy?
Your favorite card you've sent or received?