Decorating with Vintage Pennants

Vintage and retro travel ephemera is one of my favorite categories of art. I love that period of graphic design and adding a little kitsch to my home makes me smile. A while ago I purchased some vintage pennants and have been pondering where and how to use them. Today I’m rounding up a few ways I am considering how to display mine.

vintage pennants

My new collection!

 

Frame Them

I’ve come across this amazing Wisconsin hotel before for it’s fun interior design. I love the large square frame with the pennants arranged in a circle as a focal point above the bed. Source: Wandawega Hotel

Here is another amazing circular display for above the bed. I wonder how they attached this to the wall? Source: Country Living – Marisa Bistany home tour

An easy, classic alternative is to frame them individually. Source: Country Living – Holly Kuhn Home Tour

Hang Them

I love the added campiness of hanging them along a tree branch. Source: HGTV blog

This bunting of pennants is calling my name! Source: Home Tour of Hula Seventy on CafeStir

Another option shows them displayed on an old window. Source: Red Cottage Chronicles

Sew Them

Source: Thistlewood Farms

Source: MG Designs

I love these two pennant pillow ideas. My pennants are a little large for a pillow, but I do have one smaller one (my favorite one actually) that doesn’t match the others in size, so this could be a fun way to use it.

How amazing is this pennant quilt? I would imagine it’s quite scratchy, but a fun statement for sure. Source: I was unable to find the original source of this photo. If it is yours please comment so I can give you credit! Pinterest is a wonderful search tool, but can cause a lot of trouble in finding sources.

I love this kitschy Christmas tree skirt. What a unique idea. Source: HGTV blog

 

I came across these Harry Potter pennants on my search. How cool are these!? Source: Society 6

Pennants come in all different sizes and mine are on the longer end. While most people I’ve seen just hang them on the wall, I am leaning towards some sort of group arrangement in a frame to make it feel more finished. We shall see!

 

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A New Year and a 101 Things Update.

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Roald Dahl

Hello there 2017.

2016 was a pivotal year in my life. We became parents at the end of 2015 and 2016 was spent adjusting into my new life as a first-time mom. It was an amazing and exhausting season in a way I don’t think anything else can be. But now that we’re into a new year I’m ready to stretch myself and (attempt to) make time for my own creative endeavors.

This year I hope to:

  1. Learn and create. The biggest change in my life last year was leaving my full-time job and staying at home with my daughter. While I have been and intend to continue to be a freelance designer, for the first time in my life in many years I have the opportunity to push myself as an artist in whatever direction I’d like to go. I want to set aside more time for pet design and aimless art projects. For me, that is always the best way to boost myself creatively and learn new skills. I received Jessica Hische’s In Progress book for Christmas and I want to spend more time learning lettering design. I’m also exploring pottery classes and would like to paint and draw more at home. All of those things will lead to me being a better, stronger, happier creative designer.
  2. Bulk up my reading content. I’ve always been a huge bookworm and read constantly. My reading list last year took a hit – as in it mostly involved books about baby sleep scheduling or was light/mindless. While I don’t intend to conquer Tolstoy this year, I look forward to reading some books with a little more nuance.
  3. Schedule myself. Transitioning to being a stay-at-home-mom last year was a huge change for me. I worked part-time for half of 2016, and freelanced for the second half of it. But I lost all sense of routine. I can definitely be type A and like to be organized about things, so this was a challenge for me. Now that my daughter is on a more reliable schedule and I’m not tied to a specific working schedule, I want to develop a routine that will be my new normal. This includes everything from exercise and meal planning, to play dates, to creative projects, to special outings. It can be very tempting to stay at home with a baby, I want to push myself to get out there and do a few unique things (such as a few art museums I’ve been wanting to see).

 

A few years ago I wrote a 101 things list (read my 101 things I wanted to do in 1001 days here). My 1001 days ended on December 31, 2016. I thought it would be fun to recap what I ended up accomplishing. Like many lists of good intentions I slowly forgot about it over time. (Hence my shorter list above for 2017!) Also, I made the list before I was even pregnant, so this was an idealistic list from a girl who had a lot more free time. Nonetheless, it was never about crossing things off a list but pushing myself to realize and accomplish some of my goals.

Here is my 101 Things list:

1. Go to before by 10:00pm every day for 2 weeks

2. Wake up at 6:00am every morning for 2 weeks – CHECK. A newborn baby will do that to ya!

3. Sign up for a 10k

4. Try a Bikram Yoga class – Bought a Groupon but The Bikram Yoga place near my house closed!

5. Run 8 miles without stopping

6. Go hiking in the White Mountains – We never made it to the White Mountains, but did end up hiking through Mt. Desert in Acadia National Park.

7. Take an online class in something I enjoy

8. Learn handlettering I did some minor practicing, but I just got Jessica Hische’s book and some Tombow markers for Christmas and can’t wait to hone my skills in 2017!

9. Organize music and get rid of CDs – CD free since April 2014

10. Create and maintain an address book – I finally went digital with my address book. No more erasing and crossing out old addresses.

11. Learn a skill that I don’t know  – I learned to grill. I started last summer, and while I’m no means a master, I’ve made progress trying everything from burgers to chicken to vegetables to pizza.

12. Edit together our wedding videos

13. Learn to can food

14. Make bread from scratch

15. Plant a vegetable garden

16. Make my own granola – CHECK

17. Learn the art of making a great cup of coffee – I’ve graduated to regularly making fresh press and making my own cold-brewed iced coffee. So I’m going to check this one off the list.

18. Find the perfect waffle recipe – Ach! I have tried 10+ waffle recipes and ton of them have been deemed “perfect”. Any to share?

19. Make my own pizza dough

20. Experiment making 10 new flavors of homemade ice cream Progress – 7/10 (Concord Grape Sorbet, Lemon Ice Cream, Cinnamon Chocolate Ice Cream, Watermelon Mint Granita, Maple 100 Grand Bar Ice Cream, Mango Mint, Brown Sugar Peach)

21. Successfully replicate a homemade version of Uno’s “The Cookie”

22. Daily devotionals for 1 month straight Lent 2015

23. Get involved in a ministry I feel passionate about – I started doing some design work for our church, so I’d say that qualifies. Both things I love and am passionate about.

24. Do one pro-bono design job – CHECK.

25. Reread all works by C.S. Lewis

26. Attend one weekend retreat

27. Write a short novel

28. Write and illustrate a children’s story

29. Write one piece of fan fiction

30. Start and complete a 1001 gifts journal Progress – Started April 2014

31. Write to 10 of my favorite writers and ask for their advice

32. Restore Granna’s steamer trunk Progress – Started June 2014

33. Install board and batten – CHECK. Installed in upstairs bathroom and downstairs hallway.

34. Learn how to tile – I was supposed to learn this while renovating our upstairs bath, but after 7 weeks with NO shower in our house we ended up hiring it out to get it done quickly. We sold our tile saw over the summer to make room in the garage, so this dream will not be coming to fruition anytime soon. 

35. Learn metal stamping

36. Learn to use 5 new power tools 1/5

37. Make my own candles

38. Try glass etching

39. Learn to crochet (and actually make something) – I had a few lessons from a friend, but that’s as far as I got. I have pathetic finger strength (too many years at a keyboard?).

40. Sew a patchwork quilt – CHECK. I made a quilt out of my husband’s old dress shirts.

41. Sew something I can actually wear – CHECK. Made a bathrobe May 2014

42. Go candlepin bowling

43. Buy a book from the outdoor Brattle Street Bookshop – CHECK

44. Visit Castle Island

45. Go to SOWA – CHECK.

46. Attend Boston Marathon – CHECK. Attended 2014 and 2016

47. Attend Head of the Charles

48. Organize a girls “bakery crawl” – CHECK. Had a blast and blogged about it in June 2014

49. Walk the whole Freedom Trail – CHECK.

50. Eat at Upstairs on the Square – So sad. This restaurant closed shortly after I wrote this list.

51. FINALLY go to a Red Sox Game at Fenway July 2016 Red Sox vs Rangers!

52. Sam Adams Brewery Tour

53. Spend an afternoon at the Worcester Art Museum

54. Visit Newport (and go inside the mansions this time) – HALF-CHECK. I’ve visited twice, but not inside the mansions yet!

55. Go to the seaglass beach in Maine – I’m not sure which beach I was originally referencing, but I did stop at one while we were hiking Acadia. It was wildly unsuccessful in terms of seaglass hunting, but I feel I can check this off the list in good conscience.

56. Visit Martha’s Vineyard

57. Go to polo match at Myopia

58. Go to Brimfield Antique Market – CHECK. May 2016

59. Explore 5 nearby towns I’ve never been – 5/5 Portland, ME, Stockbridge, MA, Quechee, VT, Bar Harbor, ME, Duxbury, MA

60. Explore the South Shore – CHECK.

61. Go to Block Island

62. Visit a cranberry bog (in season)

63. Take a weekend trip with my Mom

64. Girls weekend in Stone Harbor – October 2015.

65. Visit my brother in Washington DC  –  April 2014

66. Visit Colls in FL

67. Go somewhere I’ve never been – Babymoon on Prince Edward Island

68. Attend two concerts – George Strait / Tim McGraw, and Garth Brooks (Also ended up seeing Tyrone Wells, Mat Kearney, and Need to Breathe)

69. See the Phantom of the Opera. I just need it to come back to Boston!

70. Host a fancy girly brunch

71. Host a fall BBQ

72. Host a seafood bake

73. Host a salt water taffy pull

74. Go camping – We had the opportunity but I was 8 months pregnant. Somehow my massive belly and sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag didn’t sound appealing.

75. Take a dancing class – Went line dancing!

76. Read 5 classics I haven’t read before – HAH! Did I mention all the baby sleep books I read? 1/5 Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

77. Participate in a book club – CHECK.

78. Learn to sail – I’ve been trying!

79. Go Wine Tasting in the Finger Lakes

80. Learn to Water Ski on one ski – August 2014.

81. Go swing and salsa dancing – 1/2- went Swing Dancing July 2014

82. Buy one piece of original artwork that I love

83. Visit three new art museums – 2/3 (The Cloisters- NYC, The Peabody Essex Museum- Salem, MA, )

84. Take a pottery class – Actually was researching this this week!

85. Find a perfume I love and buy it – Probably skipping this one… I don’t really wear perfume anymore.

86. (Finally) finish reading the Meaning of Marriage

87. Start playing tennis

88. Attempt to learn how to play golf

89. Buy fishing equipment and go fishing

90. Start a family memories book – CHECK.

91. Update personal freelance website – CHECK.

92. Update/organize my design portfolio – CHECK.

93. Redesign blog – CHECK.

94. Transfer to WordPress self-hosted – CHECK.

95. Start an editorial calendar and stick to it (for at least a month) – HAH! Or stop blogging for 1.5 years…

96. Attend 6 blogger events – 2/6

97. Launch an Etsy shop – Definitely re-thinking this one…

98. Learn about aperture and iOS on my camera – I bought a new SLR this fall. I have been slowly practicing but definitely need to dedicate some more time to it.

99. Start painting again

100. Find and complete 8 freelance design jobs – Check!

101. Paint a piece of art for my home

 

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Merry Christmas

He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Truly slowing down and enjoying this season is always difficult, as it’s easy to go-go-go. We’ve tried to scale back on things that don’t really matter to us to enjoy the ones we do. (Which meant a pre-cut tree for our home this year – and guess what, it looks great!) Having a grabby little one toddling around the house meant fewer decorations too, but I’ve learned that simplifying can be just as festive. We have spent a lot of time these last few weeks enjoying time with friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus this weekend with family.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

A few snapshots from our season:

This happy sight is the first thing I see when I come down the stairs every morning! #snailmailforthewin

 

Paddywax Balsam & Fir soy candle – my absolute favorite!

I treasure the Christmas cards from our family and friends! I save them all and look at the old ones every year. I hang the new ones in our hallway and the old ones sit in the box. It’s amazing to see how much changes in just a few years!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

My Favorite Christmas Cut Out Cookies

“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.” – Buddy the Elf
One of my favorite things to do at Christmastime is baking. I love to hunker down in my kitchen with some festive tunes and make a big mess in the process.

In years past I assembled boxes full of sweets for all our friends, neighbors, and co-workers: several types of cookies, toffee, truffles, mint patties, buckeye balls, fudge, shortcake, caramels… I think the sugar went to my head! This year I scaled back to our very favorites: sugar cookies, peppermint patties, and buckeye balls.

After I shared my cookies on Instagram earlier this week I had a few friends ask for my recipe and tips so I am sharing that today.

The Cookie Recipe:

My favorite cutout cookie recipe is found on The Kitchn. I used to feel sugar cookies were only a vessel for frosting, but I will happily eat these ones plain! I love the blend of almond and lemon. (I tend to go heavier on the lemon than this recipe indicates.) Or if you prefer more of a spice flavor I think this could be easily altered by leaving out the lemon and adding cinnamon and nutmeg.

View the full recipe here.

Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies from The Kitchn

2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size. Bake at 350.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Separately mix wet and dry ingredients, then slowly mix together. I roll out the dough immediately, but this freezes well too.

Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

 

Tips on Cut Outs:
I roll out the dough immediately to .5″ and use a holiday cookie cutter set from Williams Sonoma. I line a tray with parchment paper and put the cookies on the tray. Then I stick the tray in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. I take them out of the freezer and immediately bake them for 10~ minutes. Freezing them really helps the cookies keep their shape while baking.
Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips
Tips on Frosting:
I am still on the hunt for the “perfect” icing recipe. This year I tried a recipe from AllRecipes. I found it to be a little thick, but after I thinned it out with some milk felt it worked very well and set nicely.
Icing Recipe:

 

I tripled this recipe and divided it into 6 colors – white, dark blue, light blue, green, red, and yellow/orange. I scoop the icing into a sandwich bag and snip off a teeny-tiny corner of the bag and pipe them by hand. Instead of icing one cookie at a time I do one color at a time. For example: I take the white frosting and do all the snowflakes, all the Santa beards, then all the white candy cane stripes. Then I let it set and come back with another color. When I’m done icing I stick them in the freezer (or out on our porch!) to set for 30 minutes or so.

To make the process as enjoyable as possible (that is the point, after all) I bake the cookies on one day and keep them in the freezer until I have time to decorate them. I usually end up doing a late-night icing session and do about 100 cookies in 2 hours or so. I keep adding details until my hand cramps up – then I call it a day!

 

Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

Christmas Cutout Cookie Tips

 

These cookies freeze very nicely. I put parchment paper between layers of cookies and store them in plastic tupperware. I bring batches to all our holiday parties, and to Christmas celebrations with our families. We usually end up enjoying the last batch around New Years and they are just as good as the first day!
Enjoy!

Help Me! How to Get the Smell out of an Old Steamer Trunk?

The blog post I get contacted about the most is the one where I wrote about beginning to restore my Granna’s old steamer trunk. And I can see why – there’s just not a lot of information out there. In fact, when you Google “how to restore a steamer trunk” my little blog comes in in the top 5 results (which I think is hilarious). I started this project in 2014 and – to be honest – have made very little progress with it since I wrote my first post. Why? Well, I have had a lot of trouble getting all the musty odor out and I ended up tucking it away in the basement for another day year. Getting the smell out is a priority, because if I can’t resolve that there’s no point in trying to refinish the rest of it.

trunk

Here is what I have attempted to far to de-mustify my trunk:

So far I have scraped the insides – I removed the wallpaper lining and the paper backing.

  1. First I cleaned the interior with white vinegar.
  2. Then I cleaned the interior with bleach.
  3. Next I covered the bottom of the trunk in baking soda and let it sit for a few days before vacuuming it up.
  4. Meanwhile, I let the trunk sit in full afternoon sun for many, many hours.
  5. Then I purchased charcoal-activated kitty litter and spread it out on the bottom of the trunk. Let it sit for a few days and then used the shop-vac to clean it up.
  6. Then I really went to town and scraped the inside very well. I read the wallpaper glue could be the source of the odor so I sprayed the insides with water and used a scraper to take off as much as possible.
  7. Then I painted the inside with Zinsser mold killing paint – 4 coats of paint. I was planning on re-lining the inside with duckcloth, so painting the inside didn’t matter to me.

 

But, every time the top gets closed the musty smell reappears. Is it better? Yes. But, as it currently stands I would never be able to store anything inside of this trunk. I even met one of my favorite furniture bloggers at a meet-and-greet, Marian of Miss Mustard Seed, and asked her what to do (she recommends dawn soap and elbow grease – I think we were past that point).

I let it air out one last time on our porch for about a month, and brought it back inside and closed it for a week. Upon re-opening, there is still an odor. Suffice it to say that I’m quite disappointed, as I’d hate to let this piece go out of sentimental reasoning. But, I can’t keep it forever if it’s a dead end. So this is my final call for help before I call it quits on this project.

Is there anyone out there who can help me? Any tips for removing the odor from old wooden trunks or furniture?

 

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