Handmade Butterfly Mobile

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

In one of my last posts I mentioned that for a baby shower I attended I made a butterfly mobile as my gift to the expectant mother. It’s no secret that I prefer handmade over store bought, and when I saw that this mobile from Pottery Barn Kids had been registered for… the wheels started turning in a pretty much irreversible way. I thought, “I wonder if I could make that?” and it was all over from there.

I set out on this project with no real plan in mind, because 1) I’ve never attempted a project like this before and 2) there were no helpful step-by-step tutorial that I could find. I pillaged on. I purchased some paper, a butterfly die cut punch (this project was pre-Silhouette), and just started.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

I punched a lot of butterflies. I don’t even know how many.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

I found that translucent beading thread was the best way to hang the butterflies. I used one of my quilling tools to punch two tiny holes in every single butterfly and threaded each butterfly onto the string by hand.

I adore meticulous projects like this. I just get lost in the details in a beautiful way.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

The mobile top was a wooden hoop like you use for cross stitching. They are very inexpensive. I painted it light pink to match the butterflies. I must admit that the whole time I was working on this project, I had no idea how it was going to turn out. It was definitely the kind of project that you just have to do.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

I strung the butterflies on alternating lengths of string — from 14″ to 22″. I used our two stools to suspend the mobile. I liken this part of the process to arranging flowers. You just have to start sticking things in the vase and move them around to see how everything is going to look.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

 handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

I love, love, love how the mobile turned out and it was a humongous hit at the shower. A lot of people I work with don’t know I craft-by-night, so that was fun. I will definitely be making another mobile in the future — I have plenty of ideas, and now that I have the Silhouette Cameo cutting out more die will be a breeze

butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

Lovely, lovely, lovely.


Care Package for Candace


My good friend Candace got engaged over the summer and a while back I sent her a little wedding planning/engagement celebration care package. I love receiving care packages almost as much as I love sending them. Candace truly is a kindred spirit and I’m so happy for her and her fiance Dylan. We met in college through a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend {no joke} and shared lots of pancakes together, and fell out of touch, and then accidentally wound up living next door to each other {in the suburbs of all places}, and then fell out of touch again, and then almost a whole year ago she found my blog, read my about page, and sent me an email. And we’ve been talking ever since.

I say she’s a kindred spirit because our journey’s are similar. We both fell in love and then followed our hearts across the county. I wound up in North Carolina, she in Florida. Dylan is in the military. Our emails are filled with life updates, wanderings, and some truly funny stories. {Candace really makes me laugh.} Dylan recently got re-assigned to California and I haven’t even told you the best part yet: next spring after his training ends they are planning to move to North Carolina and get MARRIED! I’m excited. To say the least.


In one of our last emails, Candace said that they were having trouble planning a North Carolina wedding in California. Imagine that! So being that I have access to all North Carolina wedding magazines, I decided to hook the future Mrs. Montambo UP. And I even pulled out my foil stamping machine to make her some thank you cards. It turned out to be the sweetest care package I’ve put together in a long time!

I’ll just about anything for a kindred spirit. Congrats, Dylan and Candace :)


Etsy Love: Card Sellers

I have a new favorite thing to do. When I flip through my planner and see any upcoming birthdays/happy occasions coming up, I instantly make a note to browse Etsy for a card instead of adding it to my on-going shopping list. I love cards, I love brick and mortar stationary shops–as well as the card aisle at Target–but I have only found (and received!) truly unique cards from Etsy sellers.

My Favorite Etsy Card Sellers | sweetandsavorylife.com

Hey Y’all PostcardI recently sent these to 5 different bloggers all around the world.

 I Adore You Shelton gave me this card for Valentine’s Day. I loved the die cut heart. #littlethings

 YOLOA gift from Cathy at re:MARK (I love it too much to give away)!

Steel Petal PressIf you love letterpress and paper that feels great, visit this shop immediately.

Mad MenI got this card for Shelton’s birthday (along with other MM themed things). Big hit!

I think Etsy has a leg up on the competition for a few reasons. The shops are smaller and normally only ran by one person. This means that the design process is infinitely shorter than if there was a whole chain of people who had to approve artwork and messaging. When you think about it, bigger card companies have to limit what they put out design-wise because no doubt it takes a while for a designer’s idea to make it to your local Hallmark store. Also – even though there are very funny cards out there, there are just some topics that American Greetings isn’t going to reference. Like this card from StrangerDays that’s meant to go to your favorite ex-boyfriend. Or any use of the F word. Or this.


For Moms who rock. I also purchased this birthday card from Steel Petal Press last month.

If you’re like me and appreciate things that feel real (I mean, come on, who doesn’t?), then you need to stop buying cards from The Man and start supporting handmade goods. 

Yup. I said it.

Plan a little more ahead. Don’t buy a card at the last minute. When thinking of your gift-giving budget ($20? $50?) factor in a little less for the gift itself and a little more for the card. Find something specific. It doesn’t take long to think of an inside joke, or their favorite show, and then find a well-designed card from an Etsy seller who has hit your figurative nail on the head.

Just try it.

Rave on,


BFF Birthday Gift Box

Today is my childhood best friend’s birthday! Kelsey turns 25 and now is oh-ficially a member of the “25 and older” club. She was really dreading the big two-five, but I have a feeling it’ll grow on her. I decided to put her together a little gift box of sorts. Nothing special, just tiny gifts from the heart, i.e., the best kind.

Birthday Gift Box | sweetandsavorylife.com

What’s inside?

Birthday Gift Box | sweetandsavorylife.com

Kelsey recently learned how to crochet and I have been trying to pick up the skill as well. Knitting is going well, but crocheting, in many ways, is a whole ‘nother ball game. One of Shelton’s work friends is an avid crocheter and a couple weeks ago she gave me a ton of yarn. I thought the little skeins of cotton yarn were too cute for words!

I also had another go-around with my foil stamper and it was the best stamping session yet. I finished Kelsey’s note cards in no time!

I like how the pink ribbon makes a “k.” I’m all about subtleties.

Birthday Gift Box | sweetandsavorylife.com

Thanks to some supplies from The Plaid Barn and scrapbooking paper, I made this little pendant. I have a lot of epoxy dots from The Plaid Barn, and aspirations to start an Etsy store just full of epoxy creations. But of course all the supplies sit neatly on my desk. One day, maybe.

Birthday Gift Box | sweetandsavorylife.com

Birthday Gift Box | sweetandsavorylife.com

This paper envelope was in one of my previous Birchboxes and I saved it just for an occasion like this. A little stamping action, glue, sparklies and boom! Cute packaging.

Birthday Gift Box | sweetandsavorylife.com

All tucked safely inside – and hopefully it made it to the birthday girl in the same condition. I just love sending care packages. It’s pretty much my favorite thing ever.

Happy Birthday, Kelsey!


DIY: Personalized Bookplate

If you’re like me – you’ll do whatever it takes to make a seemingly-ordinary gift unforgettable and special. In this post I talked about a wedding gift I recently gave to a good friend of mine that included a cookbook (Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstach). To make the cookbook a little bit more unique, I created a bookplate using some clear Avery labels I had in my craft stash and Illustrator. The step-by-step DIY is below!

Before you get started, you’ll need the following things:

1. Mailing labels — Whatever size you like. I recommend Avery labels because they have an extensive library of templates online.

2. Specific fonts — Not required, but you can download a ton of great fonts from dafont.com for personal use for free.

3. Vector images — Also not required, but can be used to jazz up any design. Whatever clip art you’re interested in featuring, perform a Google search and see what comes up. For instance, I searched for “swashes free vector” and got a lot of feedback. The swashes I used can be found here. Freepik.com is an excellent resource for vector files.

Note: this tutorial is if you’re creating one (1) bookplate. If you are interested in creating multiple sheets of the same bookplate information, you may want to skim over these initial steps and skip down to the bottom where I prompt you to search for and download the Adobe Illustrator file version of your mailing label template. Then you can design your bookplate as you see fit and copy/paste the design as needed.

STEP ONE: Once you have your mailing labels, vector files downloaded and fonts installed, fire up Illustrator and create a new document. Set the width and height to the mailing label size and make sure to set the document profile to “print.”

book plate 1

STEP TWO: Add your vector file, if you have one. Adjust it to your liking. (For instance, this swash design was initially black. I thought grey was a bit more fitting.)

book plate 2

book plate 3

book plate 4

STEP THREE: Add in your text. Play around as necessary.

book plate 5

book plate 6

Ta-da, final product.

book plate 7

STEP FOUR: Google search for a Adobe Illustrator template for your specific mailing label. Open it alongside your finished bookplate.

Note: This is what I recommend Avery – they have templates for all Adobe programs. If you try to save the image as a .jpeg or .png and copy/paste into a Microsoft Word template of your mailing labels you will be sorely disappointed with the clarity of the text/images. Speaking from experience on this one, so take my word for it.

STEP FIVE: Copy/Paste your items from the original Illustrator file to the Illustrator template, as many times as you want. I only needed one, which is why only one copy of the bookplate is visible below in the print preview window. Print and adjust spacing as necessary. Stick on the inside of your book and BOOM! Done-zo.

book plate 10

Pretty snazzy, huh?


I don’t think I’ll ever give a book as a gift the same way again.


Wedding Gift Packaging

My best friend got married last weekend and it was a pretty epic experience. I thought I’d share my gift to the happy couple, as weddings are definitely an opportunity for those close to the bride and groom to be extra-thoughtful. Here’s an interesting twist on a kitchen-themed gift.


Sometimes I really have a problem purchasing frivolous gifts. Call me old-fashioned, but I like buying gifts that will be used and hopefully treasured over time. That’s not too much to ask for, is it? Plus, when it comes to weddings I have learned that I really have to keep my inner Billy Crystal circa When Harry Met Sally in check. But, this is not about me. It’s about this lovely wedding gift.

So, what have we got here?

  • Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstach — I read this whole book before wrapping it up. I love cookbooks that read like stories, and I chose it for Alex and Jeff because Jenny cleverly tells the story of how her and her husband’s cooking evolved over time. It catalogs their early years as newlyweds, how their tastes changed, adjustments they made when they had kids, and so on. I thought it was a beautiful story.
  • All Out Of pad — I have had one of these pads from Knock Knock on my fridge for almost two years. They last a long time and make grocery list making a breeze, I tell you.
  • Bamboo cutting board by Calphalon — I didn’t know the beauty of a good cutting board until Shelton and I really started cooking together. I like the idea of Alex and Jeff pulling it out weekly and using it to start their dinners, chopping vegetables and slicing meet while discussing their days…

Hopeless romantic, much?


The twist! I put my Illustrator skills to use and created a personalized bookplate for Alex and Jeff, paying tribute to their wedding date and also their mutual love of cooking. (DIY coming soon!)


Wrapping materials from Spritz (found at Target) – too cute for words, really.

photo (59)

The finished product! Sorry for the iPhone photo – my camera battery died before I could snap a legit picture. I sent this one to Alex so that she would see my gift in good condition, because there’s no telling what it would look like upon arrival. As I submit this post the happy couple are honeymooning on a remote mountain retreat in Canada… Join me in wishing them well!

Update: Alex and Jeff loved their gift! It was so fun watching them unwrap it and flip through the cookbook together. Ah, love…



A Great Gift for ANYONE this Christmas–Only $10!



It has come to my attention that RedBox has changed the way that their gifting works. Instead of buying a set number of codes for a set price (like I did below in 2012), you now only have the option to buy a gift card starting at $10. It looks like they work much like an iTunes card. This post has gained in popularity on Pinterest, and I have gotten questions below, so that is why I wanted o address these changes here.

I still think that a “movie-themed” gift is a great idea. If you want to do something similar and still keep it $10 or under, instead of RedBox you could purchase a $5 Amazon gift card. Amazon Instant Video continues to grow in popularity — Shelton and I use it all of the time to rent movies and watch whole seasons of shows.

Shelton’s Christmas party was last Friday and everyone participated in a gift exchange. The cap was $10, which is not a lot to work with, but I was determined to stay on budget. After browsing in Walgreen’s for half an hour, I decided upon a “movie night” themed gift. I think this would be perfect for ANYONE. Girls, boys, young, old, nieces, nephews, you name it!

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Redbox Promo Codes – 5 codes for $6 from www.redbox.com/gifts
    • 11/20/13: As stated above, RedBox has changed the way they offer gift certificates. Opt for a printable Amazon Gift Card instead!
  • 3 candy boxes – Walgreen’s almost ALWAYS has that “3 for $3″ promotion going
  • Popcorn – one single package for just 99 cents.

Who’s winning this Christmas?

You are.


Unwrapping my new Erin Condren Life Planner

I don’t know are aware of this or not… but I love to plan.

Earlier this year a former supervisor of mine named Tiffany (whom I adore) came to a staff meeting  with the fanciest planner I had ever seen…

It was all downhill from there. Or uphill, if you’re an optimist like me!

Tiffany introduced me to the colorful, organized world of Erin Condren – and I decided that I had to have one of her Life Planners.

The price was a little steep ($50), but I made myself wait months and months before deciding that, yep, I still wanted one really bad. Then I made a little pinky promise to myself that I would use it all year long.

I’m doing pretty good so far! It’s helping me stay super organized and on top of my life. Before, I had to-do lists that were a mile long, but now it’s easier to space tasks out throughout the week.

It’s official. I’m in love with a planner.

If you love to plan, this is the planner for you. I highly recommend it! It would also make a lovely gift.

Tip: Production & shipping can take a while… it took almost a month to get my planner and I ordered it on August 1! I wish I would have specified my planner to span from September 2012 – September 2013 (instead of August 2012 – August 2013). Be mindful of that if you order for yourself or a loved one!

Happy planning (and Happy Labor Day!),

Somebunny’s been good…

Shelton is, hands down, the most amazing thing in my life. He is always being wonderful and constantly makes me feel loved, appreciated and special. We’re not religious by any means, but I can never pass up an opportunity to do something sweet for him. Literally. So, given the season, the Easter bunny visited him.

What? You don’t think Astroglide isn’t an appropriate Easter gift? You obviously don’t know us very well then.

Shelton’s favorite cookie: white chocolate macadamia nut! I’ve never baked them before, but they turned out spectacular.

Yum, yum, YUM.

That night Shelton did something even more special for me. He made his dad’s specialty: stuffed wienies. They were incredible. In the future he’ll have to break down how to make them. It’s somewhat of a process :)

Hope you all had a good Good Friday! And if you ever make a gift basket in the future, I dare you to throw something risque in there.

Double-dog dare.

My New Signature


Every girl needs a signature jewelry piece, or pieces, even. For years now I’ve worn the same three pieces of jewelry: simple earrings I got as a last minute college graduation gift, a necklace from Tiffany’s, and a little bracelet from Blue Nile. Well, the earrings irritate me these days, the necklace is still a staple, and last week my bracelet broke.

I think it’s time for a couple new pieces. When I saw this necklace from amandadeer, I knew I had to have it. Anchors have become special to me ever since Shelton has been in my life. I feel like I am anchored to him, and I think anchors in general are exceptional symbols for relationships. Plus, we have a thing for boats, so it’s even more fitting. If you don’t have a signature, open your eyes and be on the lookout. Symbols are everywhere.

Anchors away,