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10 things i’m thankful for #4: anything handmade

With Thanksgiving only days away, I thought I’d share a few of the things I’m thankful for. I’ll be posting one each day — in no particular order — and would love to hear what you’re thankful for, too.

#4: Anything Handmade

Ever since my children started making gifts out of milk cartons and popsicle sticks, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for anything handmade. I’ve tried my own hand at knitting, scrapbooking and jewelry-making — with some efforts more successful than others.

With the holidays coming up, we’ve rounded up an eclectic selection of books to give to the crafters on your list or to help you make some of your own gifts.

To get you in the mood, spend a couple of hours with Vickie Howell’s Craft Corps, a celebration of the creative community and a gorgeous record of the crafting revolution. A professional crafter herself, Vickie interviews dozens of top artists, designers and business people including TV host Mark Montano, Handmade Nation filmmaker Faythe Levine and Crafty Chica Kathy Cano-Murillo who will completely inspire you with their amazing work and stories.


Once your enthusiasm has kicked in, where do you start? Kick-Ass Creativity by Mary Beth Maziarz is just the motivation you need. It’s filled with fun, easy and practical tips to stop over-thinking and just do it!


A great first project may be an art journal, and L.K. Ludwig’s Creative Wildfire will spark that flame to write, draw, collage, paint, sew, whatever! The best part about it is you really can’t do it incorrectly. Whatever you make is original, creative and yours.


I do love making books and photo albums, and Eco Books by Terry Taylor and Re-Bound by Jeannine Stein are right up my alley, showing how to create handmade books from recycled and repurposed materials. I am ready to attempt the photo album made from paint-sample strips and the adorable little recipe book made out of cardboard coasters (which I’ve been hoarding from Chili’s!), both of which are featured in Re-Bound. And the books made out of egg cartons, cereal boxes and cassette tapes in Eco Books are some of the cutest I’ve ever seen. I hope to graduate to Gwen Diehn’s Real Life Journals, which use more sophisticated book-binding techniques with stunning results.


If you’re more of a jewelry person, Stephanie A. Wells, founder of Double Happiness Jewelry, teaches you how to create 40 signature designs from her own collection in The Earring Style Book. Like a great friend, she provides easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions with illlustrations, definitions and descriptions. She also shares personal stories, like the fact that Oprah wore her Lourdes earrings on her show right after she got her ears pierced. Thanks to Stephanie, I just may try to make my own Lourdes earrings to wear on our Ultimate Australian Adventure and see if Oprah recognizes them!


It’s amazing what a difference a button here or a pom-pom there can make. Lisa M. Pace’s delightful Delight in the Details offers “40+ techniques for charming embellishments and accents.” I’m already figuring out ways – fabric scraps? found objects? — to turn those store-bought picture frames into personal, one-of-a-kind gifts.

Leave a comment below and you’ll automatically be entered to win one of the books mentioned here.