31 December 2012

There is this thing that craft bloggers do at the end of each year: The Top Ten List.  Wherein, I am supposed to go through my stats and recant whatever posts people read the most. I am sure you have seen a few. It's a thing. 

I had never been tempted to do one before because I figured well, if you liked it you already liked it...and if you didn't well, why would I remind you about that?

But then, for my own sake, I got sort of curious to see exactly what was popular this year. It's been a weird year here in Blogtown. Sometimes, posts that I spent a lot of time on (thinking you guys will love them) ended up being total flops....while other no-nothing doo-dahs ended up wildly popular. And, what is weird about this list is that I run a craft blog and half of the most popular posts have nothing to do with crafts. This leads me to believe that I am in the wrong business. I need to start a third blog (in case you missed my second blog), devoted to toilet paper tubes and the post-feminist manifesto.

Good thing I have alllllll of 2013 to get on that.  

1. 10 Minute Marker Caddy
To tell you the truth, this was essentially as filler post I came up with during a week I was crazy busy with work. I didn't think anyone would pay much attention. To date, it has seen more traffic than half of all my other posts combined. Who knew people were so crazy about toilet paper tubes?

2. Why I will no longer be shopping at Hobby Lobby.
Balls. I got 'em. Big ones. Talk about controversy. The comments and emails on this one continue to come in every week...good, bad, ugly. At one point last fall my email address got circulated to a church group who took it upon themselves to send me pictures of dead babies. So that was fun. To date, nobody from Hobby Lobby has ever acknowledged reading this post, however, a couple of their largest competitors have. This tells me that some companies are listening to their customers. All of them. Did this post make a difference in their lawsuit? Doubtful. But I'm glad I said it just the same.

3. 67 Pounds of Paper
"Without fail, my father wrote me a letter every day from when I was age thirteen to the time he died when I was twenty. If I break that down month by month, day by day, it comes out to somewhere close to 3,500 pieces of mail. Most of which are gone now. All but 67 pounds."  Every Father's Day I comb through his writing as a way to feel close....this time around, I wrote some something in return.

26 December 2012

Feathered Party Hat

The nice thing about New Years Eve is that it is the only holiday that calls for an obligatory party hat. If you ask me, we should be wearing party hats for all holidays; Christmas, Valentines, Mother's Day, Easter...OK, maybe not Easter. That's morbid. But Thanksgiving? Why the Hell not.

The only thing I don't like about NYE party hats is that the ones they pass out at bars and parties are usually pretty lame. Why not make your own? I went to my local dollar store, picked up a pack of birthday tiaras and a bag of hot pink feathers....a little hot glue later, boom. An all occasion party hat was born.

Just try to tell me your don't want one. Just try.

Happy New Year!

24 December 2012

Santa's Little Helper

Shopping done? Family in town? A mountain of gifts to wrap? A fridge full of food that needs cooking?

Thought so.

What are you doing reading my blog?

For anyone who needs a good cocktail to make it through the hustle and bustle, I suggest seeking the assistance of Santa's Little Helper -- a delicious wintertime cocktail with touches of cinnamon, clove and cranberry. It makes a great libation for entertaining anytime, especially come Christmas.

Soak two cinnamon sticks, some whole cloves, and a bunch of whole cranberries in good bourbon (it's Christmas, you can splurge) overnight. The next day, fill a glass with ice. Do three parts infused bourbon, one part triple sec, and fill the glass with 7-Up or some other lemon-lime soda. Garnish with boozy cranberries. Drink until full of holiday joy.

The recipe comes courtesy of my cousins John and Kerry. Originally called "Mama's Little Helper", there are multiple variations on the bourbon/triple sec/soda combo. It's a great base for concocting your own signature cocktail.

Merry Christmas! 
Update Dec 9, 2013: I went to mix a batch of these last weekend and swapped out the bourbon and cinnamon sticks for Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. It tastes like those atomic fireball cinnamon candies - hot and spicy. Not as smooth as the bourbon but it's inexpensive and it up'ed the flavor factor in a BIG way. I imagine it would also mix with coke pretty swell, too. Worth a try.    

21 December 2012

A New Beginning

Late last summer I started asking friends, colleagues, and readers to tell me about random acts of kindness. Tell me about a time a stranger turned around the course of a dismal day. Tell me about a time you reached out to help someone you didn't even know. Tell me how that made you feel.

And you did.

And I took note.

And I didn't know what I would do with all those little anecdotes, but I knew if I collected, cataloged, organized, and displayed them nicely, someone might want to see them. What is the old expression? "If you can't be good news, be the first to share good news."

So that is what I am doing: I am sharing.

A couple of months ago I decided that I would make my 2013 New Year's Resolution to share one act of kindness each day. Come Thanksgiving I started posting on a dry run basis...now it's nearly Christmas, and even though the official 'launch date' is still January 1, recent events have made me realize that some things shouldn't wait. So go on and be one of the first people to take a look at my new baby: I Believe in Strangers.

I can't tell you how excited I am to share this with you guys. Except for the handful of friends who contributed to the existing content, you guys are the first to know. I should probably wait until Jan 1 but I'm feeling impulsive. It's Christmas. That'll happen.

In case someone was wondering -- this second adventure is not going to conflict with or diminish auntpeaches.com. No, sir. It's just a sibling operation. Having a second kid does not lessen one's love for the first.

For the foreseeable future, I will not be making any money off of I Believe. No ads or sponsors. I want to keep it simple. It is not a business. It is an opportunity to share. Period.

And now, this is the part where I need your help: If you did not join in the first round of people telling me about your own experiences with random acts of kindness, please do. Then tell others about I Believe as well. The more people who see it, the more people contributing, the more we have to share.

Yes, there is a lot of sharing going on up in here.


20 December 2012

One of my holiday goals this year was to integrate some new traditions from other cultures. 
Poland – pajaki….check.
Lithuania – himmeli…check
Spain – pooping log ….what the?

A Whole Lotta Poopin Going On. Link
So I should back up. 

Over a year ago I wrote a post about a golden pooping gnome. There was also a golden mooning gnome with his butt in the air, but we are just talking about the pooping one for right now. 

Shortly after that post a lovely reader by the name of Sylvia sent me an email informing me that the aforementioned gnome was actually a Christmas decoration. Because, apparently, pooping things are a Christmas tradition in parts of Spain, Catalonia in particular. “You can buy small statues of little boys and girls squatting and letting out presents. On Christmas eve little children hit the logs with faces until they poop the presents. It is a great tradition!

Tio, is that you? Link
Tradition! Tradition. TRADDDDDITION! (I realize you can’t hear me right now, but I’m singing along to that song from Fiddler on the Roof. You know the one). 

So, for a second there, I just assumed Sylvia was probably nuts. Turns out she is not. Sylvia was speaking the truth. There is indeed a Catalonian Christmas log and it poops presents. Actually, children beat it and sing meany-pants taunting songs, and then it poops presents. His name is Tio de Nadal.

Oh man, and you thought your family was weird.

18 December 2012

Have you ever been to a pharmacy on Christmas Eve? Like a Walgreens or a Rite-Aid?  It's pretty sad. Long lines full of anxious people buying nothing but second-run Justin Beiber holiday themed wrapping paper and plastic jugs of Russian vodka. Sure, there are a few folks buying diapers, prescriptions and snack cakes, but really, it's the wrapping paper that gets them through the door. Or maybe it's the hooch (no judgements here). All I'm saying is folks could skip the lines at the store if they printed their own paper at home.

Because I hoard collect wrapping paper all year round, most of my gifts are wrapped in generic print paper and accented with holidayish paper or ribbons. One of my favorite things is to wrap in newspaper and  make a 'belly band' out of something rich and elegant -- maybe some origami paper, or a strip of silk brocade, or belt of vintage wrapping paper....

Last winter, my friend Ann sent me a box of vintage wrapping paper she found at Goodwill. How old is it? I'm not sure. It looks about 1940's to me. Maybe 50's. Ann, what would you say?

All I know is that the paper crackles like potato chips when I touch it and is far too pretty to use up on one person's gift. No way, Jose.

Jose's gift will be wrapped up regular old polka dots and accented with the vintage stuff.

Real vintage stuff? No. It's a print-out.

I scanned in the wrapping paper and saved them as letter size PDFs. You can print them out on copy paper, or on labels, or anything else your little heart desires. Click here to view the PDF. 

I have a thing about getting creative with office supplies. It's a gift. A weird, obsessive gift. 

Merry Christmas!

17 December 2012

$1 Tinsel Purse

I'm not big on dressing for the holidays. Unless it's an ugly Christmas sweater with a cat on it, in which case, I am down.

This last weekend, sadly, my kitty sweater was at the cleaners. I needed to dress up my usual uniform (black jersey and big earrings) with something festive. Something fun. Something cheap.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present my $1 Tinsel Purse:

This was so easy. I mean, crazy easy. If you can work a hot glue gun, you can make this in under five minutes.

This all started with a brown satin purse that matched a bridesmaid dress from a couple of years ago. It's actually a pretty nice purse but I don't have much call for brown ballgowns (unless you count that time I walked to 7-11 to buy a frozen pizza  wearing my bridesmaid dress and flip-flops....but even then I needed a bigger purse to hold my wallet, phone and beef jerky. I know right? Conundrum.)

If you don't have a bridesmaid purse laying around you could raid your closet or pick one up at the thrift store for a buck. Even the dollar store has cheapo evening purses. The dollar store is where I found this tinsel garland, and they also sell beaded garland too. If your purse did not have a handle it would be easy to substitute for an over-sized bracelet of beaded garland, or heck, why not use a real bracelet?  Doesn't everyone have a tacky beaded bracelet from their Aunt Thelma? I have three! No offense, Aunt Thelma.

Good for Christmas and New Years shindigs galore.  Party down!


14 December 2012

I Will Be Light

I had a great post today.

It was creative and humorous and different. It featured a glittering rhinoceros and a knock knock joke with a rabbi. It was about Hanukah. It was about all of the fantastically rad lessons Judaism has taught me over the years —about myself, my family, and the world around me —about looking beyond anything that can be measured and searching for something bigger than myself. 

And you know what, I spent a lot of time on that post too. Not because it was something great but because I didn’t want anyone Christian to read it and get offended. 

Twenty-four hours after I wrote that post, none of that stuff matters. Fuck it.

Who cares about religion today? And who has any business getting offended when so many are hurt and heartbroken? 

We all turn to prayer and take solace in faith, but today, what would it matter? Today when we are all trying to figure out how the killing of children and mothers fits in to the greater good, what would it matter what God they worshiped? What would it take to prevent it from happening again? What would it take to comfort the grieving and restore the light that was stolen today?  

…I don’t know.

In Hebrew, Hanukah means dedication. 

Or rededication if you ask certain people. 

…I don’t know.

I do know that the first eight nights of light came out of horrific tragedy and destruction. I know that Hanukkah is a story of survival and restoration.  And I also know that the most important lesson of Hanukkah is that light is not merely another creation, light is Creation's ultimate goal. 

Today, when it is dark, I will be light.

חג חנוכה שמח

13 December 2012

There are people in this world who say, "Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies."

I am not one of them. 

If one of them should find themselves on my gift list this year, well, they’ll have to suck it up and get ready for a big ol’ smooch. I have a big glittery batch of herpes with their name all over it. Literally.  

First I wrap the gift with irritating precision, then spell their name in doublet sick tape. 

A little glitter...a little dust off with a feather..a little boom. Done!

A little leopard print….a little glitter...herpes…Merry Christmas!

Stay classy, double-stick.

12 December 2012

Confession: I hate transparent tape. 

When I was 19 I had a 48 hour temp job wrapping gifts at Henri Bendel. I don't know if it works the same now, but back then at Bendel's the signature wrapping paper was a chocolate brown and white stripe, and the stripes always had to align seamlessly or at a perfectly perpendicular angle. Always. Making things more difficult, they did not allow gifts to be wrapped using tape or exposed seams.  Like the hem of a skirt, all of the wrapping paper edges had to be folded inward exactly 1" and packages were sealed using paste-like clear glue sticks. Of course the glue would take a minute to dry so we would hold the paper in place with weights made from red  jewelry boxes filled with silica pouches. 

All of that effort for something that was by definition meant to be torn awaywas totally bizarre, wasteful, not to mention a royal pain in the butt...and yet, to this day, I refuse to wrap gifts with exposed seams. It's like a disease. I caught it. I can't get rid of it. For a long time I would use double-stick tape to invisibly bind the paper together from the inside, but now I have moved on to my secret weapon: tapeless tape

If you are a scrapbooker, you probably already own this stuff. The rest of us can find it in any craft or office supply store. Sometimes it's called mono adhesive, or tape runner, I call it tapeless tape. Because it's like tape, but without the tape. 

I know. Mind = Blown.  

It comes in little ergonomic roll-on thingies and lays down a thin strip of no-mess instant-stick adhesive. There are some kinds that roll on with peel-away paper backing — don't get that kind. Just get the permanent roll-on adhesive kind. You can even get temporary adhesive, which is great for people who want to keep and reuse the wrapping paper (not so great for people who have gift peepers in the house, but, you know what they say — Peepers Gonna Peep).

Scotch brand happens to be the kind I have on hand at the house, but lots of companies make the stuff. It sells for about $3.00 for a 40' roll, which, when compared inch to inch, is 12% more than the regular transparent tape displayed on the next shelf up (yup, I looked). Normally I'm all for saving my pennies but I am confident this gizmo cuts my wrapping time down far more than 12%, so, by that math, it's a major bargain in my book.

So, let's swap secrets: Do you have any gift wrapping tricks? 

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