So this Christmas, I made a wreath. For the first time in my life! I’ve always wanted to, but never got around to it until this year, when a friend dragged me to a professionally guided workshop where I could plunge into an endless sea of craft supplies and let myself go as jingle bells as I wanted.
If you’ve never made a wreath, you might be surprised how simple and difficult it is at the same time. It’s simple in term of skill: all you do is crunch and wrap some paper around a ready-made straw wreath (or skip that step altogether if you’re using a ready-made live one) and then proceed to use hot glue to stick on an assortment of decorations. The difficult part lies in choosing colours, textures, and decorations and combining everything in such a way as to make your wreath look tasteful and festive.
As someone who wasn’t around when good taste was handed out, I happily let myself be guided. And here are a few of the things I’ve learned by listening to professionals and watching amateurs.
- If you see something that you like, use it. Look around for inspiration in shop windows, at friends’ houses, on Pinterest. You don’t have to come up with your own brilliant ideas for everything, especially when there’s so much beauty out in the world already. The wreath I made is almost an exact knock-off of another one that was displayed at the workshop. I’m not very proud of myself for being so unimaginative, but when I think of the creations I saw some of the other people making, I feel pretty good about my work.
- Less is so much more. Stick to two or three basic colours (black and white don’t count becuase they’re not really colours) and textures, pick one prominent feature that will be the ‘crown’ of your piece, and then complement and accentuate it with simple additions. When I was advised to put just one bow on my wreath, I was extremely worried that it would look empty and sad, but in the end, it’s the absence of over-the-top makes it look classy! (If I do say so myself.)
- Listen to professionals. However brilliant you may think you are, they’re the ones with years of experience and a dozen tricks of the trade up their sleeve. These people really know what they’re doing!
Are you undertaking any crafting projects this holiday season? I’d love to hear about them!
I’ve been craving salads lately. With fresh snow falling outside and the market offering comfort in the form of potoatoes and squashes, all I can think of are heaping bowls of luscious garden greens: mâche, arugula, lettuce, endives, escarole… And since I take my cravings very seriously, this morning, I tossed together an original salad to go with our traditional week-end lunch.
I first tried it at a restaurant several years ago (alas, it is no more, and instantaneously fell in love with the combination of sweet baby spinach, crunchy cornichons, and chewy raisins. (If you like sweet and sour combinations, you’ll love it, too!) I’ve reinterpreted it several times at home, and this time I added some juice by making a special dressing to go along with it. I like that this salad isn’t entirely out of season, as it only uses one fresh ingredient – perfect for satisfying unseasonable cravings!
Baby Spinach, Cornichon, and Raisin Salad with Secret Ingredient Dressing
Really, this is a no-brainer. In a large bowl, toss together baby spinach, roughly chopped cornichons, and dark raisins (I like to soak mine in boiling water for a few seconds to make them softer and juicier). For the dressing, stir 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 2 tsp mayonnaise, and 1 tbsp olive oil vigorously in a small bowl to combine. The secret ingredient is the cornichon brine. Add 1 tbsp or more, depending on how thick you want your dressing, and stir well. Season with salt and pepper, and toss with the salad.
You can change up the salad by using mâche instead of spinach and/or adding chopped sun-dried tomatoes for extra texture and added saltiness. Serve with a fluffy spinach omelette and some crisp bread.
In case you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing now that I’m obviously posting less often than I used to, I’ve taken up knitting. (And gotten a magazine subscription, and started a handmade felt Christmas decorations project. Mostly, though, I’ve just been knitting.)
Needless to say, I’m rocking knitting. I’m also enjoying the oompa-loompa out of it. Nestled in a warm blanket, a cup of tea by my side, an old movie playing, knitting is the most relaxing activity I’ve known. It’s like a massage for your soul!
You might remember my charcoal maps project of a few months ago. (They’re finally up on the wall in the hallway! They look amazing, too.) Well, because of my new-found love of knitting, and because of the gigantic section of white wall that still yawns empty above our bed, I thought I’d hijack another artist’s idea and… knit myself a work of art, à la Ethan Cook! Check out some of his work below.
If you ask me, the idea is genius: so, so simple (you need only elementary equipment and skills) and so, so artsy-looking (gallery-worthy, in fact)! Also, if you’re an experienced knitter you can use scraps of yarn that were left over from previous projects. Of course, you don’t have to stick to squares and rectangles, either! (Personally, I love triangles of all shapes and sizes.) And I love the idea of a work of art that can be washed!
But the wall will have to wait, as I have to finish a scarf in time for a certain someone’s birthday in January. Priorities, peeps.