Category Archives: Inspiring Products

i’m judging the american craft council show

I’m totally judging you . . . and more than 200 makers at the American Craft Council show in Atlanta next month. The ACC has asked me to be the juror at the March 14-16 event, picking winners for the best handmade products and booth design. It’s going to be a challenge selecting favorites from such a wide range of crafts — from carved utensils, to jewelry, to quilts.

Wood spoons by Spoonwood Inc., hand necklace by Thomas Mann, quilt by Cindy Grisdela
Among many others, I’ll be judging products by Jonathan’s Spoons, Thomas Mann Design, and Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts.

Want to go? In addition to shopping for items made with love, you can watch craft demonstrations and sample Scotch whisky from the Balvenie Distillery. The show is at the Cobb Galleria, and discounted advance tickets are available here.

clove-laced blood orange punch recipe


Last Thursday I invited a few friends over to watch the premiere of Under the Gunn, starring the dapper Tim Gunn of Project Runway (aka “Fashion Dad”). I always serve a special cocktail for ladies’ TV night, and on this frigid eve I hoped to warm us a bit with a clove-laced citrus punch and Sriracha popcorn.

The decanter and glasses from Fishs Eddy make me so happy — they remind me of the diamond-patterned walls in the rec room of my late Maw Maw Rita. With bellies full of French toast, my cousins and I played countless rounds of ping pong in that cheerful room. Here’s how I made the cocktail.

Spiced Blood Orange Punch

  • gin
  • canned dark, sweet cherries in heavy syrup
  • clove syrup (see recipe below)
  • unsweetened blood orange juice
  • sparkling water
  • lime slices for garnish

Put a half-shot of gin in a party glass. Drop in a cherry and a splash of syrup from the can, then add a teaspoon of clove syrup. Fill the glass two-thirds with blood orange juice, then top off with sparkling water and a lime.

Clove Syrup

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cloves and remove from the heat. The syrup will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

punch gift tags from recycled paper

punched gift tags

A recent party faux pas made me examine my gift-wrapping habits. Me: “Did you open the hurricane candles yet?” Birthday girl: “No. Is that what you gave me?” Me: “What? Ummm, no. Forget about that. Shoot! Sorry, I didn’t put a tag on it.”

My MO for years has been throwing a gift into a handled paper bag, making the ’80s tissue meringue on top, and flying out the door without putting a card or tag on the prezzie. I take pride in picking thoughtful gifts, so the outside should reflect that, dang it! I’ve begun my reformation by turning last year’s calendar, designed by Jessica Swift, into gift tags. I made a batch using a tag-shaped punch (with three sizes), a small hole punch, and hemp cord.

I went with the archetypal tag silhouette, but the craft store has tons of punch patterns, like lace, scallops, and hearts. Check out these creative hangers on Etsy for more inspiration, then craft some with your own stash of maps, fashion mags, cardboard, and other pretty papers.

6 Etsy gift tags

Product info clockwise from top left: Red Elephant Creative // Morrell Decor // Real Dreams // The Beetle’s Knees // El y Ella Paper Designs // Erinbit.