yearbetweenfriends

yearbetweenfriendsMaria and Stephanie both live in Portland, but are 3191 miles apart. That’s because Maria lives in Portland, Maine and Stephanie lives in Portland, Oregon. Over the years these friends have shared their lives with each other through letters and photographs. They have managed to forge and maintain a deep bond across the distance, exchanging recipes and practical life tips and sharing the ups and downs of life. They are small town neighbors in the new world of technology.

Collaborating since 2007, Maria and Stephanie continue to document their lives in their blog, 3191. Twice a week they post a diptych, a picture from of them showing what’s going on in their separate lives right now. The focus is on the small and ordinary – flowers, children at play, bounty from the garden, the outdoors and sleeping cats. Recipes and crafts are shared and advice requested and given. A Year Between Friends follows the same format, beginning in January and running through December, with an emphasis on the small pleasures of a life well lived. There are big events too – Maria loses her Mother unexpectedly early in the year, and gives birth to a baby girl in late July. And they aren’t always apart – Stephanie makes the trip cross country after the birth of baby Luna to spend time with Maria and her family.

The photography is exquisite –  you can learn a lot about perspective, cropping and lighting by studying these pictures. The real value, of course, is the stories they tell, of how different and yet how similar these lives are, their mutual appreciation of the beauty around them and the love and support they bring to each other.

Besides the photos and letters, A Year Between Friends includes several crafts, most of which are lovely and practical and simple to make (although I’m not sure about the pinecone ornament – no mater how charming, that’s a lot of sewing!) There are also recipes; I’m not a cook, but I’d be happy to eat just about anything shown here!

This is a lovely, quiet book, an excellent choice to end or begin the year (or anytime really), inviting you to step back and take a look at your life and what is really important. What is it you want to remember when you look back? A child’s smile? A walk through a summer-green forest? Cookies fresh from the oven? A friend’s laughter? A Year Between Friends shows just how special the ordinary can be.

 

diy artisanal soapsMaking your own luxurious and lovely soaps is easier than you think. With DIY Artisanal Soaps, you’ll find everything you need to make all-natural, custom-designed soaps using locally sourced ingredients and beautifully scented essential oils.

Featuring easy-to-follow instructions and tips for personalizing your designs, this book guides you through every step of soapmaking, allowing you to create unique bath and home products every time. Learn how to turn your garden or farmers’ market finds into beautiful, handcrafted soaps, with invigorating scents like peppermint and rosemary or the summer-inspired pairings of ginger and papaya. You can even customize the fragrances and textures in the recipes to create the perfect product for your skincare needs.

Complete with stunning photographs and unique ideas for gifting, packaging, and selling your creations, DIY Artisanal Soaps helps you bring the vibrant colors and scents of nature into your home. (description from publisher)

spoonflowerDesigning fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap used to be the stuff of dreams. Only a few select creatives got to do it, and it required formal training and significant financial investment. But times have changed, and today anyone with a computer, Internet connection, and idea can upload a file and order their own fabric or paper, printed affordably one yard or more at a time.

At the forefront of this revolutionary DIY movement is Spoonflower, a North Carolina startup that produces designs for hundreds of thousands of users worldwide–24 hours a day/seven days a week to keep up with demand. With step-by-step tutorials and projects that span a wide spectrum of skills, The Spoonflower Handbook  by Stephen Fraser is written for both new and experienced users of this print-on-demand technology. Covering everything from equipment to software to working with photos, scans, repeats, vector files, and more, it is an essential guide to a booming new creative outlet. (description from publisher)

homemakersThe rules of homemaking have radically changed. Today’s generation is digitally connected 24/7 and often more focused on climbing the career ladder at the office than the stepladder at home. But the home “maker” evolution has just begun.

Thanks to advances in technology, tomorrow’s men and women will find themselves using new gadgets and apps to cook, clean, decorate, and even manufacture everything from decor to clothing, from right inside their homes. In Homemakers, Brit Morin, founder of the wildly popular lifestyle brand, app, and website Brit + Co, reimagines homemaking for the twenty-first century, making it as simple as possible to go from amateur to pro with easy charts, tips, recipes, DIY projects, and tech shortcuts.

Simple, beautiful, and stylish, Homemakers offers the digital generation a wealth of innovative ideas and how-tos for a more creative life. (description from publisher)

materially craftedDesign enthusiasts are bombarded with beautiful inspiration at every turn, but many lack the foundation necessary to re-create their dream projects. Materially Crafted is a must-have guide for design mavens seeking to develop their DIY chops, even if they’re embracing their crafty side for the first time.

Victoria Hudgins, creator of the popular design blog A Subtle Revelry , uncovers the best and least intimidating ways to work with the most popular crafting materials–from spray paint and concrete to thread, wax, and paper–and presents more than 30 easy projects to get everyone started. Peppered with Hudgins’s tips for “merrymaking the everyday” (using simple DIY ideas to live life more joyfully) plus inspirational photos of projects created by other prominent bloggers, Materially Crafted is an indispensable guide for a new generation of design enthusiasts looking to DIY their own distinctive style. (description from publisher)

guerilla furniture designGuerilla Furniture Design is an innovative collection that features 35 simple, inexpensive projects that you can make from salvaged and upcycled materials — cardboard, metal, plastic, and wood.

The projects include tables, shelving units, chairs, lamps, and more, in a variety of styles. Many are stackable and easily portable, most can be made in a weekend, and all include instructions for disassembly and disposal when you’re ready to repurpose the materials.

If you’d rather make than buy, these low-budget, high-style designs are just what you’re looking for. (description from publisher)

novel livingIn this digital age, the fate of physical books remains in question. Even the concept of curling up with a good book conjures new images. But there remains a sensory thrill to physical books–to seeing and feeling them, to turning their pages – that makes many of us value them even more as digital reading grows in popularity.

In Novel Living, artist Lisa Occhipinti celebrates her love for physical books by presenting us with her unique ideas for collecting and displaying them, for conserving and preserving them, and for crafting with them. Guided by Occhipinti’s artful eye, you’ll be inspired to build and display collections based on your personal passions and to use books for crafting, either by deconstructing or by copying favorite elements. Amazingly, most of the projects – ranging from easy shelving to a headboard constructed of book spines to napkins composed of scans of favorite text passages from books–require no special skills or supplies. (description from publisher)

lets sew togetherDon’t just sew for your kids. Sew with them!

Simple sewing techniques make craft time fun for kids and grown-ups alike in Let’s Sew Teogether, with ideas for vintage-inspired clothes, accessories, quirky home decor, cute toys, and sweet gifts designed by the mum behind the popular parenting and craft blog Cakies.

Rubyellen Bratcher has invented 30 simple projects that encourage families to spend more time together through DIY activities. This mum of four learned how to sew at her local fabric shop, but soon found that her daughters were her greatest source of inspiration. Documenting her family’s daily life and DIY adventures online, Rubyellen’s blog, Cakies, has steadily grown into a destination for parents and crafters of all ages. In her first book, she offers 30 projects for kids and grown-ups to make together, including a handpainted skirt, scribbled placemats, a robot friend, easy felt party garlands, overstuffed dollhouse pillows, a gorgeous world-map quilt, and much more. Each chapter also includes no-sew projects, educational activities, play ideas, and reading suggestions to encourage imagination and learning. (description from publisher)

beautiful mess happy homemadeStep inside the world of Elsie and Emma, the sisters behind the décor blog A Beautiful Mess.  With tiny budgets and a crafty, can-do attitude, they overhauled each room in their first homes with DIY projects using family photos, vibrant fabrics, flea-market finds, and affordable furniture. Now, you can learn how to paint, craft, and decorate your way to a happy, bright space with distinct personality. In the same upbeat spirit and modern style found on their blog, you’ll find fresh, all-new projects including:

• An inspired geometric-pattern coffee table made of balsa wood
• A hand-lettered statement wall featuring your favorite quote
• A quick and easy electrical tape update for your refrigerator
• A set of beautifully designed serving dishes
And more!

Packed with bonus styling tips from hanging the perfect gallery wall to making mismatched furniture work, Happy Handmade Home is design inspiration for personalizing your own space. (description from publisher)

project kidPerfect for crafty parents who are eager to get their kids excited about DIY, ProjectKid is everything you could want in a craft book: 100(!) stylish, inventive projects; step-by-step photographs; tips for the novice crafter; easy-to-follow instructions; and a fresh, modern look.

What really sets these projects apart are the unexpected, ingenious ways Kingloff uses everyday objects and materials. (Did you ever think a body-wash bottle would make a perfect rocket ship?) And these are projects for things kids want to make – and keep – from a juice-box owl to a pirate ship to a curio cabinet for displaying all of their treasures, plus games, jewelry, and more.

Also included in the book are basic crafting lessons (such as pom-pom making and weaving) to help children of all ages build a DIY arsenal, a handy guide to must-have tools and materials, and a source directory. (description from publisher)