Namaste Agra

So last I left off in my India trip recap, we had just left Delhi. Its a 5 hour drive to Agra and we were totally unsure of what to expect along the road. Well I can say the drive was one of the most interesting rides I've ever taken. Every few hundred yards there is something else amazing to see. As I've mentioned, its complete sensory overload pretty much everywhere we went. Its a shame we were moving at high speeds because I missed so many amazing photos as we zipped by.

That afternoon we made our way through Akbar's Tomb and the Red Fort.

The following morning we were up bright and early to make our way to the grand dame of India, the Taj Mahal. A monument with an beautiful love story, this site is hugely popular for a reason. Its absolutely beautiful. Sadly my body decided that particular day was when it would make its unhappiness with my travel destination known. I won't get into the gory details but let's say that while the Taj Mahal was absolutely beautiful and the 5 hour drive to Jaipur was just as interesting as the ride to Agra, this was not my favorite day.


Because I wasn't feeling so well we didn't make it to any of the other Agra attractions. In fact I nearly didn't make it to the Taj Mahal but I just couldn't allow myself to miss it.


Thankfully I was feeling better after a good nights sleep. It seems I survived Delhi belly and could now wear the badge of honor. Off we went to tackle Jaipur. More on that in a later post.

Shhh....its a secret.

In a fit of holiday cheer, I sent out an email asking a short list of some my favorite bloggers to see if they would be interested in a secret santa this year. I wasn't sure if those things are even done anymore but thankfully almost everyone chimed in that they wanted to play along. Hooray!


So now I have my secretly selected giftee and I've already made a little something to start the festivities. Its all packaged up and on its way. So wish I could show it to you but that would ruin the surprise right?

And I won't even pretend to be all cool about who has me. I'm dying to know! I can't take the suspense! Shall we review the list of suspects?

4 men 1 lady
bryn alexandra
emily a clark
house of smiths
the inspired room
isabella and max rooms
la dolce vita
lovely little details
making it lovely
mustard seed interiors
pure style home
save the date 4 cupcakes
ten june
thrifty decor chick
you stir me
young house love

I have no clues yet but once I get something I'll be sure to share it. Will you help me figure out the mystery?

Naughty or Nice? Christmas Gift Tag Freebie


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. How can the same four days off seemed luxiouriously long on Thursday morning but felt impossibly short on Sunday night? Oh well. We did have a great weekend full of giving thanks, celebrating the wedding of a wonderful couple, retail therapy and crafting. What more can I ask for?

Naturally, I'm very excited to be kicking off the official holiday season. That means lots of Christmas projects to come on the blog. I'm putting up the tree, making wreaths, christmas cards and all other kinds of goodies.


And today I'm making merry with a little free printable - tongue in check gift tags I designed so I could get my own wrapping underway. And yes, I was signing Santa Claus is coming to Town all weekend long.

Would you like some of your own? Just download, print and hole punch.


Enjoy! If you put them to use, I'd love to see / hear about it.

In case you missed it, you'll find three more Christmas freebies floating around here as well. This Christmas mini poster, more gift tags and a self mailer card.

Holiday How To: Gorgeous Green Sweet or Sour Wreath

If you have following along around here for long, you already know how I'm crazy for the classic style of Matthew Mead. And now that Christmas is almost here I'm absolutely over the moon to be part of the more than fabulous holiday magazine that he has created, Holiday with Matthew Mead. Inside you'll find other great bloggers like Centsational Girl and Savour Fare as well. If you haven't already, order your expanded keepsake copy now!

So I was so excited when he agreed to stop by and share a few of his tips and tricks for the holiday season. Today's project is a a simply gorgeous wreath that is perfect for fall right through the holidays. What is not to love?

Wreath season is here and it is not to early to think about how to engage the tradition in an easy and sophisticated monochromatic way. Make your own base, or buy one pre-made and embellish it. Wreath making is fun and easy and one of the best ways to welcome guests. Make your own with simple ingredients found at the grocery store or home center.

- A wreath form
- Floral wire
- Cut greens or a pre-made green wreath
- 36 Key limes or 14 green apples
- Cut greens like boxwood, arborvitae, evergreens
- Wooden floral picks
- Hot glue gun

**There are a multitude of wreath forms available at crafts stores, home centers and home decor stores.

We used a mix of fresh fruits and greens we found at the super market, but you could cut your own greens in your backyard or gather them at a church fair.

To Make:

1. Cut greens into five inch clusters with 6 stems and wind each bouquet with floral wire. We used a 10 inch wire wreath form for this wreath and it required 12 mini bouquets.

2. Place green bouquet on wire form and tie on with a 5 inch piece or floral wire.

3. Continue to wrap until the wreath is covered.

4. Pierce fruit with a wooden floral pick. Spread hot glue on each stick and push into wreath. Hold in place until glue is dried and fruit is anchored.

5. Hang on a nail on a door, over a mantle, or on an interior window.

Thanks so much to Matthew for sharing! I always wondering how florists managed get get fruit in arrangements - I had no idea the secret was hot glue! Learn lots more holiday style tips and tricks in this years issue of Holiday with Matthew Mead.

Vintage Camera: The winner is...

Thanks to all of you who entered! Seems like I'm not the only one who loves a little old hunk of junk. Sounds like maybe I should give away another one sometime soon. What do you think?


Now down to business. The lucky winner is....

(insert drumroll here)

Lucky # 49, Lavender & Lilies.

Email me your address and Ill get this out to you.

Easy Back of Door Gift Wrap Organizer

Pretty packages are one of the best things about the holidays but I tend to have an issue with giftwrap. Either I can't find the roll I want or its crushed beneath something in the closet. Ive been meaning to make or buy a gift wrap organizer for a while but nothing suited me.


Lucky for me, the organizing stars aligned this weekend while I was browsing in Ikea. I found a few kitchen accessories and wondered if that might do the trick. Turned out to be just perfect for what I wanted. For $20, I'm hoping I never waste another roll of beautiful paper again. The best part? It was super easy to install.


I simply screwed the bars onto the inside of a closest door, hung the baskets and used the curtain clips to hang the gift wrap. The most difficult part was finding screws (Ikea didn't include them with the bars! ARGH!)

Such a small and easy project but I love how it turned out. And look - I even have room for a few more rolls. Hmmm.

details: I used 3 of the BYGEL rails, one FINTORP bucket, 2 BYGEL wire baskets, BYGEL hooks and a package of these DIGNITET curtain hooks.

Steal this Idea*: Classic Colorful Napkins

Its Friday (yippee!) - time for another Steal this Idea* feature - a tiny show of appreciation for a well executed tutorial.

Today's project is just perfect for everyone getting ready to set their holiday tables. Its an oldie but a goodie from the Purl Bee (which happens to be the blog of one of the most inspiring crafty shops in NYC).

Personally I can't seem to sew a straight line to save my life but I sooo want to make some of these. They seem easy enough (pardon the pun!).

I just love the gradiation of color. A set of these could round out one gorgeous DIY table, don't you think?

Run over to the Purl Bee to check out all the deets on how to make your own!

postscript: *When I say steal, I really mean borrow nicely and give proper credit!

**If you have an idea/tutorial you would like me to consider for a feature, email me. I'd love to see!

The most wonderful time of the year?

Lately I've seen a lot complaints about Christmas coming too soon or suggesting a moratorium on the holidays decorating until December. I agree, it does seem to come a little earlier every year. The question is: what's so terrible about that?

Snowflake Light Show Saks Fifth Avenue 2006
Christmas Eve 2006, Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show, NYC

The holidays are quite possibly the most perfect time to live in NYC and soak up all the twinkly lights, beautiful windows and oversized decorations. They are just starting to go up all around me and seeing them transports me right back to many happy memories. I've seen it every year and it never gets old.

While of course there is a lot to do and sometimes holidays can bring a bit of pressure into our already hectic lives, I find the complaints to be a bit of a bummer.

So where do you stand on it? Ar you a holiday holdout or Fa-la-la-la fanatic?

{In case you missed it, don't forget to enter for a chance to win a vintage camera.}

Vintage Camera Giveaway!

This year is kind of flying by. I woke up yesterday and realized that Thanksgiving is next week. HUH? How did that happen?

With the spirit of that holiday in mind, I wanted to do a small giveaway as a token of thanks to those of you who read, leave kind words and generally keep me motivated all year long.


Its just a little thing but something quite personal - a vintage camera from my own collection. A Duaflex II of your very own - use it as a decorative item, paperweight or reflective surface! Who knows? It might actually still be functional as a camera if you happen to have some 60 year old film laying around.

Just leave a comment with contact information and I'll draw a winner next week.

Extra entries for those who post, tweet, fb like or generally get the word out in whatever way works for you. Be sure to leave another comment with the link back to your shout out.

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Holiday Rush

I'm on a mission this year to finish as much holiday prep as I can in November so I can spend my free time in December relishing the best of the holidays.

With that goal in mind, I'm working furiously on my Christmas mail, picking out treasures and some holiday projects. I probably won't accomplish my goal 100% but I can try, right?

And what better way to get me motivated than to see some of my past projects featured on a couple of blogs showcasing loads of holiday goodness.

Thanks to Kim and Dani for including me! And if you are looking for more inspiration, check out the 101 handmade holiday tutorials and 24 creative advent calendars as well.

And for a little more shameless self promotion, please like my facebook page and follow my twitter feed for more details on what I'm working on.

Stop by tomorrow for a giveaway!

So, what holiday goodies are you working on? Come on, spill your secrets!

Namaste India

We've been back from our India trip for almost a month so its high time to share a little bit about our adventures.


We had an amazing time. India was everything people say - both good and bad. It's an absolute overload to the senses and can be a lot to absorb but I really enjoyed spending time there.


Our itinerary hit the three cities of the "golden triangle" - a popular tourist route. We started in Delhi, stopped in Agra and Jaipur and then returned to Delhi for a final few days.


On our first full day, we met a local guide for a tour the old city's religious sites, browsing the bazaar, riding the metro and sampling some of the food. Talk about sensory overload. Just amazing. The feeling of not knowing where to look but wanting to look at everything is something I experienced a lot on this trip but perhaps no where more so than the old part of Delhi.


From visiting a Sikh temple (where thousands of free meals are given out daily) to touring a Jain bird hospital, from oogling lane after lane of tiny bazaar shops (selling every kind of doo-dad) to being squished in with (what felt like the entire population of India) down a few narrow crevices in the city - it was quite the introduction.


And that was just one day! We knew we would be back at the end of the trip so we said goodbye for now to Delhi and got in the car for a 5 hour drive to Agra.


Read more about our time in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

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