Heaven

Please welcome our newest columnist, April Meeker of Secondsister Jewelry and Suaviloquy.

Her column is about atypical guift guides – she’s going to go beyond “Gifts for Him” “Gifts for Her” and “Gifts for Kids” and find the perfect thing for “when you’ve finally completed your dissertation” – “congrats on your new job even though it was your third choice” – “I’m so happy you got promoted instead of that other guy.”

Well, those are the kinds of gift guides *I* would write if this were my column, but it’s not. April will probably choose other themes, but I guarantee you they won’t be pedestrian.

Do you have a tricky gift-giving situation coming up? Leave April a comment below and just maybe the next edition of Gift Guides will be about you!

::
Erika

Why the French are getting all the credit is an enigma to me. After all, they didn’t invent the macaron. No, the Italians should be getting the accolades for that bit of genius.

Macarons came to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Then there was some business about nuns making and selling them and creating quite a stir. The nuns made simple macarons, no fancy flavors, no double cookie with a filling. (Above photo by Chelsea Victoria.)

A bunch of time went by with people making simple almond cookies. Then in the 1900’s a guy named Pierre Desfontaines (not the author) was working as a pastry chef for Laduree Passterie and decided to take two macaron cookies and sandwich them with ganache.

And the modern macaron was born.


photo by Louis Beche

Then a bunch more time went by and I was born. And a little more time went by until I discovered my passion for macarons. What a shame all those wasted years.

If you have yet to sink your chompers into these morsels, just know it needs to become a life list item. They are little pieces of pure heaven.

And they offer a little something for everyone. I’m personally partial to the traditional flavors, chocolate and pistachio topping my go to choices. But macarons come in flavors that circle the globe. There’s wasabi, passion fruit, green tea, peach, rose, orange blossom, mint, pumpkin, coconut, chili chocolate, honey and praline, just to name a few.

So now that I have you all almond buttered up and salivating, I’ll tell you where you can get them. I buy my macarons, locally from a little French passterie in San Diego named Opera. But sometimes I think I’d like to ship some to a friend for a birthday or a baby, or even a hello there, I’m thinking of you. A girl’s gotta share the love.

I found a pastry chef in Austin, Texas who is in the business of shipping her goodies. Soraiya Nagree used to be a chemical engineer for a bowling ball company. Luckily for all of us macaron junkies, she left that job to attend the Le Cordon Bleu school and follow her true passion. She and her husband Azim opened Luxe Sweets and the rest is tasty history.

“It is a simple truth: food made from scratch just tastes better. The colors, the textures, the smells, and of course the flavors – nothing is better. We started Luxe Sweets because we wanted to create delicious treats which capture all the flavor and taste of home-made food. Every one of our delights has been made by us, by hand. They may not look all the same, but that’s the part we like best. Because it means that every single product has been made for you by a person – not some machine.” -Soraiya

I’m new to Try Handmade if you haven’t noticed. I’m going to be writing the gift guide column. I’m pretty good at shopping. In fact, if there was an Olympics for shopping, I’d take gold, for sure. So for this first post, I wanted to feature something that I personally would love to get as a gift.

I recently threw a big party and I served macarons for dessert. They were a hit. And they are so pretty they double as décor.


photo by secondsister

Bet cha can’t eat just one. And if for some reason you are on some silly diet and you can’t indulge, then by all means buy Chelsea Victoria’s print and feast with your eyes.

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabuluster
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Aisles and aisles of tiny boxes
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Felt circle goodness

Hell in a Handbasket

Please welcome Nyssa Rae to Try Handmade! She’s going to be covering Plus Size Fashion for us and I couldn’t be more excited.

Are you looking for something fashionable as well as available in larger sizes? Let her know in the comments or on Twitter and she’ll see what she can find for you.

::Erika

Having been plus-sized most of my life, I’ve gone through all the graduations of style, from wearing whatever I wanted regardless of my size, through to wearing the frumpiest clothing I could possibly get my hands on, with the totally unfounded belief that it ‘camouflaged’ my size, through to purchasing clothing that flattered my frame. Now as a Mum to a 2year old, Comfort plays a massive part in clothing choices as well. But, on those rare occasions that I have ME time, I want to look Good!

I make childrens clothes for a living, and yet, I’m disinclined to make clothing for myself, its one of those things, lots of material for plus size clothing, and it just might not look as good on me as it does on the inevitably ‘average sized’ models on the front of the Plus size Pattern packet.

I am going to endeavour to change those perceptions, with your help!.. I am going to showcase Handmade Plus Size Clothing for purchase, trying as hard as possible to find images of said clothing on actual Plus Sized Models! and I’m going to jump in and try some of those patterns that run in the Plus Sizes.

First Seller I’m going to Share is a Seller on Etsy, her Shop is called Eon, Unique Designs by Selena. I looked long and hard to feature only 2 items, but she has a lot to go look at!

Plus Size Red Handbasket Hoody

First Up the “Hell in a Handbasket” Hoody, hence the title of the Post. A gorgeous yet practical Hoody, totally comfy looking, with this feature weaving on the back. This is now top of my wishlist!

Custom Made Rising Sun Dress

And my second pick of the store is this “Rising Sun” Dress, I love how the image shows the dress on a variety of sizes, they stock some premade items, as well as offer Custom made, which I think is a relatively good way to go when you are talking stretch Fabric.

Definitely go and check out her other items, Plus Size or not, and if you have something you want me to check out pattern or clothing wise, please feel free to contact me!

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabuluster
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Aisles and aisles of tiny boxes
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Felt circle goodness

Dear Old Dad

Father’s Day is a tough holiday to buy a gift for, at least it is for me. And not for any reason, except that dear old dad is a no-frills kind of guy. You might call him old-fashioned (but please not to his face). A recent retiree he likes golf, reading, the Yankees, the Jets, gardening, and drinking coffee. There’s only so many sports shirts, golf balls, coffee mugs, coffee beans, books, and gardening supplies you can give him.

These unique coasters, from Medium Control, are a twist on the been-there-done-that coffee mug.

There’s a whole new generation of Dads out there. They’re a little hipper (sorry dad!), and younger (really sorry!), and it seems ever so slowly more people (both buyers and sellers) are being more creative when it comes to gifts for Dad.

If Dad likes to bike to work or around town running errands, he’ll love this bike bag from Laplander Bags.

Thinking outside the box this year, I’ve searched on Best of Handmade, to see what a search of Father’s Day gifts brought up. Truthfully, there’s a lot of the same old, same old, but then I started digging a little deeper, and found quite a few unique gems. (Tip: When searching for Father’s Day Gifts, don’t type in ‘Father’s Day Gift’ but try typing in a favorite book or hobby, to get a wider range of gifts.)

Remember, Dad had a whole life before you came around. Maybe a gift that appeals to his pre-you life will make him smile.

Was Dad a wanna-be rocker? Get him these throwback cufflinks from Cufflinks Rock.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the more traditional gifts either. Dad’s #1 aprons, mugs, hats, and shirts have been around for a long time and will be around for as long as Dads are.

A t-shirt, like this one from Zoeys Attic praising Dad never seems to go out of style.

Happy Father’s Day!

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabuluster
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Aisles and aisles of tiny boxes
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Felt circle goodness

SewDanish

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Birgitte of SewDanish: Since early childhood, I have been crafting and however busy life has been, I’ve always found time to do just that. Making things energizes me and makes me happy.

I love creating something from “nothing”. I often combine and incorporate recycled items and vintage fabric in my products, giving them a new lease on life.

Some years ago I was very lucky to do City and Guilds part 1 and 2 (now diploma) in Patchwork and Quilting as well as several courses in contemporary machine and hand embroidery. Pure Bliss!

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I love dying my own fabrics, threads and anything else that can be coloured. I’m very excited about building up textured surfaces from lots of layers of fabric, paper, paint…. almost anything goes.

I often work a series of small numbers within a theme, exploring the possibilities. Since each item is handmade, the individual item will always be unique. Besides making contemporary wall hangings, I like making small things that can be used in daily life, like book covers, key rings, make up purses, drawstring bags, cards…

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabuluster
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Aisles and aisles of tiny boxes
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Felt circle goodness

SpunkySister

SpunkySister: “Jewelry to inspire. Art to wear.”

I have Design ADD. I can’t make anything twice… so everything is one of a kind. I view my designs as art. I have so many ideas, that I usually have about three projects going at once.

I get inspired by fashion, nature, the vintage brooches I use, even soap bar wrappers. Maybe my pieces can inspire you… Enjoy!

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabuluster
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Aisles and aisles of tiny boxes
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Felt circle goodness