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Welcome to The Save, where we ask interesting people what they order when they’re in a pinch.
Brittni Mehlhoff, aka Paper and Stitch, has a BFA in Painting and Drawing, but her arts and crafts education started much earlier. “My grandmother was a quilter, and I would sit for hours with her at her sewing machine when I was young, just soaking it all in,” says Mehlhoff. Her mom sewed her Halloween costumes, and her parents were often in the middle of a DIY home renovation project.
Mehlhoff found work as a high school art teacher. Over the summer, she started her design and DIY blog, Paper and Stitch. One year later in 2009, she quit her day job to work on Paper and Stitch full-time. “There was barely even social media then,” Mehlhoff remembers. In the years since, she’s “pivoted six or seven times; there’s always something new.” These days, she chronicles her adventures renovating and decorating her home in Southern California and parenting her 5-year-old son, Hayes.
Below, check out what Mehlhoff is gifting for the holidays.
What do you order when…
…friends are coming for dinner?
Thai food! Everyone can get something they want.
…you need a good lunch for a long day renovating?
A really big salad — maybe a chopped salad — with chicken or some kind of protein. There was a while there where I was ordering either the California Chicken Salad from Calif Chicken Cafe or the Cobb Salad from Lodge Bread Company every few days. Both are super filling and delicious.
…you want to treat yourself after a long day?
Pasta! Something simple and satisfying like cacio e pepe.
…you want to fill your kitchen with essentials?
A lot of fruit. A lot of snacks for my son, like Goldfish. Crackers, brie, and some kind of jam is my go-to. A bunch of different kinds of noodles. Always a lot of lemons…I go through a lot of lemons when cooking.
…your bar cart needs restocking?
White wine is my preference. I’ll also do different sparkling water flavors, Topo Chico, and Olipop soda.
…you’re picking up a gift for a kid?
I love getting books for kids, especially when we don’t know them super well or don’t know what the family wants. I also love getting craft supplies, which is one of those things you can never have enough of. I make it a challenge to find the most unique craft supplies I can.
…you need to get a gift for a grownup who loves décor and design?
A unique plant! It will become part of their décor. A really good smelling candle is always a good option.
I’m in a pottery class and I really love pottery. I will take a vase I picked up at the farmers’ market or made myself and fill it with flowers. I love arranging flowers. That makes a really special present.
…your favorite gift that doesn’t break the bank?
I might make something for somebody. I’ll make an ornament for someone who celebrates Christmas, or have my son help make an ornament for his grandparents.
…you want to get yourself a gift?
I’m obsessed with pottery, vases, and bowls. Anything for my home is going to be something I’m interested in, especially if it’s handmade. Big, thick art books are amazing, too.
…you want to indulge in a holiday treat?
Baking cookies with my family is something I look forward to each year. I love the event and, of course, eating the cookies afterwards. I also make hot cider with mulled spices.
…you need holiday presents for kids?
I love stocking stuffers, because they’re fun and affordable. I found felt planets for my son who is into space. Wooden toy cars and handheld pinball machines are great finds. My son loves playing “restaurant,” and I scored receipt notepads, where a waiter would take an order. I’m going to put those in his stocking. Weird stuff is great!
Thoughtful gifting means bouncing off what you know about the person. Our home is small, and I love to get people small and simple things. I don’t want to give kids gifts with 200 pieces. What parent wants to deal with that?
Bonus: what are you hoping to get?
I really want a pottery wheel, which is an extravagant gift. My partner gave me a Nelson desk when I started working from home. It’s an expensive gift, but I’ve had it for 15 years. I love thinking about what will last.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Brittni Mehlhoff