Marbles, buttons, super balls, rotary phones–I seem compelled to collect the bits and pieces of life.  Beachcomber, gutter forager, accumulator! I aspire to minimalism, but miss it by a long shot. Here is a glimpse into the galleries of my personal museum. What do you collect? And how do you display (or not) your treasures?

DIY: How to Make Mini Paper Boxes

homemade city mini paper boxes

These 1″ little boxes won’t solve your storage problems (unless you just don’t where to put that penny, or marble, or piece of lint) but like many miniature things, they are delightful. Once during a bout of unemployment, I folded zillions of these (which may say something about my non-transferable work skills and resulting joblessness). Watch out, they’re fun. Make one, make many: they proliferate under your fingertips.


3″ square origami paper

bone folder, or a pen with a rounded cap to make creases


Step 1: Lay one sheet of origami paper, wrong side up, on your working surface. Fold the paper in half, long edge to long edge. (You can gently press with your fingers first, and then use your bone folder to make a sharper crease.) Open the paper and rotate 90 degrees. Fold in half again, long edge to long edge. Again, open the paper.


Step 2: Fold one corner to its opposite, to make a triangle. Open the paper, and fold the other corner to its opposite. Unfold. Your paper will look like this:


Step 3: Fold each corner to the center point. (Fold four times.)


Step 4: Fold the bottom edge of your square up to the center. Fold the top edge of your square down to meet the center. Unfold. Rotate 90 degrees, and repeat, folding the remaining two edges of the square to the center.


Step 5: Open two of the corners opposite each other. Lift the two sides of the box. Focussing on one corner at at time, press in the “tabs” you created with creases. As you do this, you will be lifting the third side of the box. Then press down the corner over the edge of side. The corner point should meet the other two points. Repeat to make the fourth side of the box. You’ve made the bottom half of the box.


Step 6: To make the lid, you will do the same thing, but with one alteration. In Step 4, instead of folding the edge of the square to the center, you will instead fold it almost but not quite to the center. Leave about a millimeter of distance from the center. Do this again to the top edge. Open, and repeat with the remaining two square edges. This will make the lip of the lid shorter and increase the diameter of the lid, so that the lid fits over the bottom of the box you created.



Quilts and Color Exhibit at Boston MFA


Boston MFA Quilts and Color

Carpenter’s Wheel Quilt, attributed to Mrs. Miller, Mennonite, Easton, Pennsylvania, about 1890

The quilts displayed at the Quilts and Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection now at the Boston MFA are not for those who prefer a palette muted and restrained. While my kids were wolfing Fenway franks at the ballgame this past weekend (Go Sox!), my mom and I snuck off to to take a peek. These are not your grandmother’s quilts–or are they? In room after room, we encountered vibrating, dizzying color in bold patterns that are amazingly modern considering that their mostly Mennonite and Amish makers lived in the 19th and early 20th century.

Sunburst Quilt

Sunburst Quilt, Mrs. Ephraim Scott, American, 1856

Trained as artists, Gerald Roy and Paul Pilgrim collected quilts reminiscent of modern abstract art. They noted that the quilters displayed an intrinsic color sense, experimenting with saturated hues and color effects. In each room of the exhibit are paintings by Abstract Expressionists and Op Artists, highlighting the affinity between the quilts and the twentieth-century art.

An exquisite painting by color theorist Josef Albers at the Quilts and Color Exhibit

An exquisite painting by color theorist Josef Albers at the Quilts and Color Exhibit


The exhibit runs through July 27, 2014.




DIY: Easy color block coasters – free pattern!


Just in time for ice cold drinks, these nifty linen and cotton coasters are ready to get to work catching drips (and adding some springtime color to your table.) Better yet, a set of these would make a lovely Mother’s Day gift. You can make a set of six in about an hour and your materials will cost $10 at most (or nothing if you are a hoarder of scraps like me).

Materials to make six 4″ x 4″ coasters


Approximately 1/4 yard linen (I prefer Essex yarn dyed — the color shown above is flax)

Three 5″ squares of solid quilting cotton. (I used three colors of Robert Kaufman Kona cotton: Salmon, Aqua, and Fog.)

Piece of cotton batting (approximately 10″ x 15″)

Cotton thread

Five Easy Steps

1. For the backs, cut six 4.5″ squares from the linen. For the fronts, cut three 5″ squares of linen and three 5″ squares of quilting cotton. Cut six 4.5″ squares of batting.


2. Cut each of your front squares in half on the diagonal. Pin each linen triangle to a color triangle then stitch a 1/4″ seam along the diagonal. Back stitch at the start and end of each seam. Press the seams open.

3. Trim your finished fronts so they are exactly 4.5 ” squares. (If your squares are perfect, give yourself a pat on the back and just trim away those little points.) Be sure to trim so your diagonal line stays neatly centered.


4. Make a sandwich as follows: 1) back (right side up, if your fabric has a right side), 2) front (wrong side up), 3) batting. Carefully align the squares and pin. Starting an inch away from one corner, stitch (batting side up) around the edge with a 1/4″ seam. Leave a 2″ gap on one side.


5. Trim the corners and then turn your coaster right side out. When you are turning inside out, keep the front and the batting together. Poke out the corners to a neat point with a knitting needle or a chopstick. Turn under the raw edges of the gap so they align with the seamed edges and press. Pin the gap closed and then edge stitch around each triangle (back stitch in place at the start and end of each triangle).


Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each coaster. Now you have a pretty set of coasters to gift or keep!


DIY: VW Bug Stencil


I promised I’d share my VW Bug stencil and directions for painting on fabric using freezer paper. Here they are (click below):

VW Bug Stencil and Instructions

Freezer paper stencils are easy and satisfying–the lazy girl’s way to silkscreen. Freezer paper has a shiny side that irons nicely onto fabric and then peels away easily, leaving a crisp, clean image on your fabric. Freezer paper is available at many grocery stores. Leave a comment if you use this VW Bug stencil and please send a pic–I’d love to see your results.

Next, I’ll share the pattern for sewing the VW Bug pillow (complete with groovy pompom trim)!