Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Filling Your Decorative Jars for Christmas

Little by little our home is turning into a festive spot.  In the past I have gone gung-ho into decorating in hopes to get it done in a day or two. 

 Not this year.  This year I am taking my time. 

 I am trying to enjoy the creative process - making  and buying a few new things along the way and trying  to get my family involved as much as possible.  

The other evening I had 2 little helpers - my younger two children - who aided in filling several vases and jars with Christmas-y things.  

Here are some of our favourite ways to "fill a jar."

These bows were in  a bagful I nabbed at Hobby Lobby for $2.

Free cones from the neighbourhood (my littlest boy and I had a GREAT time collecting them!) and some inexpensive  tree ornaments.  I love the mix of shiny and earthy.

You gotta love a functional jar filler! I go through what seems like hundreds of tealights this time of year and I am glad to have them stored close at hand.  

Candy is "functional" too, right?  Yep.  Probably TOO functional.  That's why I glue-gunned this jar shut ( much to hubby's chagrin!)

Candy canes - $1.00 a box anywhere.  Cute and stripey!
And the commercial "jar filler" balls - they were 80% off in January last year at Michaels.  I bought 6 bags!!

My jars are all part of vignettes that I am  tweaking just a bit and I'll be able to share in the next week.

But for now - I am going to enjoy a cup of Twinings Christmas tea and do a little bit more of this:

Have a wonderful evening!!

Hugs and warmth to all, 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Candy Cane Shortbread Recipe

Oh yes!! - I've been baking for Christmas.  I try to bake early in the season then freeze all my yummies for later on.  I like to bring a box of home made baked goods whenever we go visiting during the holiday season. Four types of cookie are already frosty in my freezer and these are the latest addition.

Candy Cane Shortbread 

1 3/4 c. plain flour

1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. softened butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup broken candy cane 

1.) Mix flour, cornstarch and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside.

2.) In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. 

3.)  Gradually stir the  flour mixture into the wet ingredients.  Stir in candy cane pieces.   

4.) Cover and chill until firm enough to roll. 

5.) Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten the balls with a fork.  

6.) Bake at 350 degrees for 8  minutes. Makes 5 dozen.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hosting a Christmas Craft Party

Hello everyone! Enjoying your weekend??

Last night I hosted a Christmas craft party for several of my friends.  
It took a few weeks to plan but I think it was successful and the ladies who attended had a great time.  

If you are thinking of planning something like this I have a few tips to help make it run smoothly so you can enjoy yourself, too!

1.  Make lists for everything -- craft supplies needed, food you will be serving,  dishes/cutlery needed, what your friends should bring - that way you won't forget anything and have a lot of last minute stress.

2.  Pre-make each craft item so that you have something to show your guests before they start.  Lots of people need a visual starting point before beginning their creations.  

 We made: 
a) two different glass ornaments - one filled with rolled scrapbook paper, the other had glittered stripes created with two-sided tape   
 b) Ribbon and bead Christmas tree ornaments
c) Book page trees

3. Serve food and drinks to keep everyone's energy up. 
 I served hot chocolate with all the fixin's
 (including some alcohol to add-in), Christmas Caramel
 popcorn (recipe to follow on another post),  
veggies and dip.  
My guests arrived with cheese and crackers (Thanks, Betty) and yummy chocolate cookies (Thanks, Paige)

4. Prep as much of the crafts as you can ahead of time.  I cut the scrapbook paper into strips and made the bases for the paper trees.
I put all the other supplies out into bowls so that everyone could easily access what they needed.  

5. Have all of the necessary tools and adhesives within arm's reach.  I had a large bowl containing scissors, rulers, pens, pencils and a vessel full of tape and glue bottles.  

6. Give your friends some choice.  I had several colours of ribbon to work with and a whole collection of glitter colours.  That way my guests could create ornaments that would go with their chosen colour schemes.  

7. Sit down and enjoy yourself.  If you have prepped well, you should be able to craft, too.  I was able to guide my guests through each creation and still be part of the lively conversation.

8. Enjoy yourself! The hard work and preparation are done.  Enjoy your guests, make something pretty and HAVE FUN!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Holly Hearts

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!  It seems like forever since we celebrated the same holiday here in Canada over a month ago.  
Christmas is in full swing now and I've begun decorating our home with little touches of seasonal splendour.

After seeing this post written and photographed by Tania at Sew a Little Love I was ready to make something new to help decorate a cabinet in our kitchen .
Here is my version of her cute little fabric hearts:

I made three colours to hang together in a cluster...

It took about two hours to cut, applique and stuff these darling little hearts - but they were well worth the hard work.  They make me smile every time I see them!

As you can see on the top of the cabinet I have been having fun filling a few containers with a variety of Christmas-y things. I'll be back next time to share some of my "jar-fillers" with all my lovely readers!  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Felt Snowflake Pillow

Happy Monday  !!  
It's been a very Christmas-y weekend around here.  
The kids met Santa at a Christmas party on Saturday, then rode on a float in the Santa Claus parade in the evening.
On Sunday I started putting up some of our holiday decorations and began my Christmas baking.  
Up first were these Red Velvet Sugar Cookies. 

I made a batch and quickly put them in the basement freezer so that little hands wouldn't make them all disappear within minutes!!

The I made my first Christmas craft of the year.  

I've been collecting Christmas fabrics for the last few months and I couldn't wait to use them together on the back of my pillow.

And the snowflake-- nope I didn't cut it out myself. In fact, it's a felt placemat that I picked up at the Superstore grocery store for a couple of dollars. When I bought it I had no idea what I was going to use it for, but quickly the inspiration hit.  

At first I was going to hand-stitch the flake to some plain white fabric that I had chosen for the front of the pillow. The I realized that this stitching would be in full view and it had to be VERY neat.  The machine would be quicker and neater!

For a little extra detail I raided my white button jar and stitched on a button on each point.  

And there we go.... and eye-catching addition to my family room couch.  

It won't be long before the real flakes start to fly around here.  Hopefully they won't be as large as the one on my pillow!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My November Mantel

Wow.... Can you believe it?  We are almost in mid-November!!

Now that Halloween has passed, Christmas is in full swing everywhere - Christmas decor in the shops, ads for toys on TV and lists for Santa being quite seriously pondered.

We had some amazing weather here this past weekend - seasonably warm for mid- November in my part of Canada.  The kids played outside in short sleeves and my neighbours and I raked the leaves in full-sun warmth instead of  grey, dismal skies.  
I also took advantage of the perfect weather by taking the kids, dressed in their Christmas-finest, to a local country churchyard to shoot a photo for our family's Christmas card.  
I think I took 10 000 pictures but ended up with only a handful of "good" ones.  This is one of my faves, but not the Christmas card pic.  You'll have to wait until December for that one!!

Pretty darn cute, eh??

Last night I finally dis-manteled (hee, hee) my Halloween mantel. In its place I put up some transitional decor that was more fall than festive, yet not as "pumpkin-y" as before.  

As usual I tried to mix texture and shape.
 I hung more things than usual directly on the wall. I'll probably hate myself when it's time to take it down - my walls will look like Swiss cheese- but I guess that's why they make PolyFilla and touch-up paint!!

I purchased these stars many, many moons ago.  I remember the  $12.00 I spent on the set was a huge expense at the time, but happily, years later, I still use them regularly in my decor.  

To add height, I used a large piece of architectural salvage I recently bought at a second hand store in my home town.  I have big plans for it, but I am still trying to figure out how said plan is going to get carried out.  Must have discussion with hubby about that....

Mr. Metal Star has hung inside and out - I like his graphic shape in this mantelscape.  

Okay, it's true.  The dried hydrangea have been part of my last 3 mantels. But I like them.  They add softness and another element of colour.  I promise- they won't be on my Christmas mantel!!

I re-used my fall pennants from my Fall mantel.  Small and simple and a good space filler!!

I been doing up to a lot of Christmas creativity lately.  I think maybe my next post will feature something festive......Hmm...An ornament?  Decor change?   Some yummy baking?  
I guess you'll have to wait and see.....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Simple Stitching: A Felt Leaf Garland

Hi there everyone.  Just having a quiet Saturday night at home after a busy day here in our house. 

Our oldest son, Bryn, turns 8 in a few weeks, so we decided to beat the pre-Christmas rush and have his party a few weeks early. We took a bunch of his classmates to see "Wreck-It Ralph" at the theatre then returned to our house for cake, ice cream and presents afterwards.  
At the risk of getting too emotional, I have to say that our family is very grateful to see our boy reach another birthday.  After the diagnosis and removal of a rather large brain tumour  less than 2 years ago, everyday seems like a gift and every birthday a miracle. 
Wishing you many, many more happy and healthy birthdays, Brynner!

Here is a simple little craft, easy to put together in next to no time and with the simplest of materials:

First I cut 40 leaves out of two shades of felt.  I use acrylic felt- it's cheap and easy to cut!

Next I chose a neutral cream-coloured yarn and a sharp-pointed darning needle.  After cutting a length of yarn, I stitched through the felt leaves from end to end, adding the "veining" to the leaves, and at the same time, stringing them together..

Within 10 minutes I had a string of leaves long enough to drape, pennant-style, across the big picture window in our front living room.  

I may make a similar one for the holiday season using holly-shaped leaves and little red buttons for berries.  

Now that we have lived in our home for 4 years (today is our 4 year house anniversary!)  I am so glad I am finally at the stage where I can add small details like this.  The big jobs are done - painting, furniture refinishing and new floors.... Now I can focus on the cozy details that make our house a HOME.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Make your Own Mosaic Art

Good morning! I recently guest-posted  at a Pocket Full of Pink while Karen is away in Hawaii (lucky lady!)
I thought it was time to share this tutorial here for my blog readers.  Enjoy!

I am currently re-doing the kids bathroom, taking it from a plain, uninspiring turquoise zone (I decorated it originally when I had just given birth to my 3rd child in 4 years - I had no spunk for anything interesting!) to a fun, zippy place that will kick-start my kids for school each morning!

Like many, I have really fallen for the turquoise and red colour-combo you see everywhere these days. Bright and cheery and perfect for girls and boys (I have 2 boys and 1 girl).
I recently stenciled the main wall and switched to bright red towels and floor mat.  I have some framed pictures I'd like to hang, but other than that, there is nothing on the walls. 
 After many months searching out the perfect art for the room, I have given up shopping and started creating.  
That is how I came up with MAKING YOUR OWN MOSAIC ART.

What you will need:

~ to continue with my red and turquoise theme, I chose several shades of aqua and red cardstock
~ an artist canvas (mine is 14"x18")
~ white glue (or Mod Podge)
~ a sponge brush
~ scissors or paper cutter 
~ craft paint in your chosen background colour ( I used plain white!)

1. First, cut your cardstock into 1"squares.  I began by cutting long 1"wide strips then chopped them into 1"squares. 

2.  Paint your artist canvas using your chosen background colour. 

3. The main image in my mosaic is a heart.  To draw an accurate heart shape, I cut one from scrap paper and traced around it on my dry canvas.  I also planned where my turquoise/aqua stripes would go and drew pencil lines for those on the canvas as well.  

4.  Here is where the white glue or Mod Podge comes in.  If you have chosen to use white glue, pour some in a container and add some water.  It should be the consistency of cream.  
Spread some glue/podge on the area where you will begin your mosaic- in my case, the heart.  

5.  Using your chosen colour, begin to outline the main image with the squares.  

6.  Once the outline has been laid, spread more glue/podge on the canvas and add more squares, filling the shape.  Turn the squares until they fit.  You may have to trim some and make some smaller squares.  

7.  Begin filling the background.  I chose to add 3 bands in shades of blue.  A solid background would be effective, too.   

8.  As I filled the empty space, I tried to paste the squares in a brick-laying fashion, overlapping the squares so that they were not glued in a grid pattern.

9.  Once you have glued all of your squares, cover the whole canvas with another layer of glue/podge.  This will seal the canvas and guarantee that the squares will not pop off.  

10.  Within hours your art will be dry and ready to display. 

Here is my mosaic in my children's bathroom:

Thankfully the children are very complimentary about my foray into the "art world."

In fact, my daughter has already requested another mosaic for her bedroom.
  I wonder if I can make Sleeping Beauty out of 1" squares??

I'm always looking for comments and new followers.  Won't you join the party permanently??