Drunk The Halls

My phone kept beepin’ n blippin’ last week as my episode with Paula Deen was on holiday repeat. I am officially a RERUN (and all I need is Shurl and Dee, bonus points if you get it). Repeating isn’t so bad, and if it was good once then it should be good twice, as they say. SHALIMAR! Good lord I need more coffee. Where was I going? Oh yes. This. This post from 2006 is an oldie-but-goodie and since I still have a growing collection of corks it might be time for Wreath Number 2, the 2012 edition. I’m gonna get on that. Cheers!

I am married to the craftiest man on earth. He can prepare anything in the kitchen, decorate as if his life depended on it, coordinate classically (even covered in tattoos, I might add), walk in 6-inch acrylic heels (I cannot) and paint a face like nobody’s business. There’s really not much he can’t do, so when he mentioned an idea he saw for holiday wreaths using wine corks I knew I was in for a special treat. Tacky? Yes. Ingenious? Absolutely. Luckily for him I drink wine on a daily basis so there’s no shortage of corks here! Next I hope he builds a greenhouse for me in the backyard with all the bottles I’ve emptied enjoyed–or at least a pretty little scaled down Taj Mahal that extends from our backyard in LA County to the bottom tip of the Baja Peninsula.

All you need are:
a wino husband
lots of corks (he used 151)
a gluegun
toothpicks
wreath frame, found in craft stores

Put on some Jimmy Smith or Vince Guaraldi, skewer corks with toothpicks and dab the end with glue and insert into wreath frame. Stand back, admire, and realize that you are now out of corks and must immediately replenish your supply.

Adam’s Chef Knife Roll

A few months ago Adam was complaining that he didn’t have a proper way to transport his knives from home to the studio and across the country when he works. He found tons of nylon plasticky commercial generic knife rolls out there but if you know him personally you know that a) he requires durability and b) he’s got a bit of fancy-pants niceness to him! He likes good stuff. He was thrilled when he found Steve from Leather-Worker.com online and ordered his custom handmade leather knife roll. It wasn’t as cheap as the nylon versions out there but it was very affordable for the craftsmanship put into it. And it’s gorrrrrgeous. When it arrived I asked Adam if I could snap some photos of it to send to Steve and perhaps get the word out about this beautiful product. So there you have it!

I also figured now would be a great time to post about it since it’s the middle of summer and you’ll have plenty of time to order one before the holidays. Steve’s made a few for some very famous chefs and I think anyone with a knife collection would be happy to carry them in this beautiful roll, wouldn’t you? You can visit him at Leather Worker and tell him Matt sent ya!

Fine Print: Nope, not a paid advertisement, this post. We purchased the roll, I photographed it for free and sent the images to Steve to have them because I love helping artists out! There you have it!

Making Stuff with Avery Labels

MATT’S NOTE: There have been numerous requests for my template art as well as inquiries about the Limoncello bottles. Unfortunately I am unable to share the art. The bottles, purchased at World Market, haven’t been available for quite some time and I haven’t seen them since I purchased them a few years ago. Thanks so much!

Can I confess something to you? Will you promise not to tell anyone?

I am a Closet Crafter.

That’s right. I’ve got drawers full of labels, paint, brushes, gluesticks, scissors and hole punchers for those moments when I feel the creative streak hit me. I even made my own label for a gift I gave Paula Deen back in May. But it’s not often that I get out the craft box as crafting does require a certain amount of time and effort and the only reason I keep my crafting status in the closet is because I’m no where near as good as so many of my crafting amigos.

As part of my involvement with Martha’s Circle I was thrilled when they reached out along with Avery Labels and asked if I’d be interested in creating something with their products. It was perfect timing: I had limoncello I made earlier in the year that was ready to give out as summer gifts as well as a batch of simple syrups I made to take to an afternoon cocktail party. Rather than just give blank bottles I said “yes!” to the opportunity to use a variety of Avery labels for my lil gifts. I knew they’d look professional, polished yet still retain a handmade feel.

I raided my prop closet for various bottles with lids that would fit the project. I knew I wanted oval labels for the front of my simple syrups bottles. These little bottles were filled with sugar, water and various fruit and herbs that were all cooked together and allowed to cool. Set on the bar, all you need is a splash of soda water, a spirit like vodka or gin or rum, a few teaspoons of simple syrup and lots of freshly cracked ice for a very easy simple drink.  Give it a stir and enjoy. I’m not one to fuss during the summer months, ya know.

I opened the word templates, saved as a PDF and then imported them into Adobe Illustrator where I would have more control over the design. But it's not necessary!

Using Avery Easy Peel Print-to-the-edge Kraft Brown Round labels I created a template that I downloaded from them and modified my art in Adobe Illustrator. It’s moments like this where I’m glad I have a background in graphic design!

(But even still, it’s not difficult, trust me. Avery makes this so easy and it only took minutes!)

After I filled my bottles with the various simple syrups all I had to do was peel and stick. So easy. The most difficult part was making sure they were even but I got it pretty close.


 

The second part of my project involved bottling up some of the limoncello I made back in January. This Italian concoction is made from fresh lemon peel, vodka and sugar; it’s allowed to sit for several weeks (turning often), then strained and bottled. The sweet, lemony syrup is great over ice, in iced tea, cocktails, drizzled over ice cream, you name it! And like so many things it always tastes better when you make it yourself.  Because a little goes a long way, I didn’t need large containers for gifts. But I wanted to try a small hang tag to go around the neck of the bottle so I used Avery Printable Tags for Inkjet Printers. They were pre-cut and only required a simple feed through my color laser printer to make (I used a template I downloaded from Avery). Couldn’t have been easier!  I finished the bottles with decorative string and a round white blank label with a handwritten date that it was made on.

 

Everything came out great and it makes me happy to give them as gifts. Even if everyone will probably be too drunk to remember them. Oh well!

 

Thank you Avery Labels for letting my Inner Crafter come out and play!

Want to put your best brand forward and enter for a chance to win prizes from Avery? You can! Visit the Best Brand Forward Contest for details and how to enter. The 1st Prize winner will receive $5000 and your brand and product will appear in an upcoming issue of Martha Stewart Living. Pretty fantastic if you ask me! There are also 2nd and 3rd place prizes so get up on this y’all!

The Fine Print: Avery sent me the product of my choice for this project and I was compensated for designing, creating and photographing my creations. The concept, design, execution, and opinion of Avery Products is my own. Thankyouverymuch!