Monday, December 31, 2012

Gift Tags

Go to the home depot or your favorite paint store and grab a bunch of paint color cards.  Cut them into christmas tree shapes and tie onto brown paper wrapped packages. So cute and you can color coordinate them with your gift wrap.

Get the large paint sample cards an punch them out with a tag punch.  Stamp with a christmas stamp.

Punch out graphics from old Christmas cards and tie them to packages with curly ribbon.

Cut images from gift wrap and glue them to cardstock for a coordinating look.

Recycle price tags.  Cover them with paint, and stamp them with christmas images.

Use a template and cut out cereal boxes and cover with scrap paper

Punch out tags from store shopping bags that have an interesting print.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

 What a month this has been.  Last night we went to my aunt and uncles for dinner... I did not take one photo.  I was so busy visiting with cousins I haven't seen in a while, that I totally forgot.  Great news, my cousin Tim just got engaged, so we have another wedding to look forward to next year.  We got home last night, and Zack entertained us with jokes for an hour.  We sat around and laughed and remembered funny Christmases of the past.  I was saying last night for them to remember these moments, because in a few years they will be married and having kids of their own and starting their own traditions.  Zack says no way, I plan on being here on Christmas eve with my wife and kids, waking grandma and grandpa up at the crack of dawn to open presents.  I was saying we will need to build a bunkhouse...  I wonder what the holidays will be like 10 years from now.  One thing I know... they will be filled with love and thoughtful gestures and traditions old and new.

My kids surprised me by waking up early for the first time and cooking breakfast for everyone.  Usually I am up at 6am cooking, but today I was told to stay in bed and watch a movie.  I could hear them all laughing in the kitchen, and I wanted to go join in the fun... But Pascual made me stay in the room.  Then I smelled the food cooking and knew they were trying to surprise me.  There are those moments in life where you are overwhelmed with love for your kids... where you feel so full in your heart, there is no place for it go so it bubbles out.  Kayleigh's kindergarten teacher taught her that.  That my kids were so thoughtful to wake up early, something they HATE to do, and cook the family breakfast so I could relax... it is truly one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given by my family.

The best news of all....  Santa brought me a CAMERA!  Now I can post videos and high quality photos on my blog...  I can't wait for the rain to stop so I can go outside and use it to photograph the yard and show you all the great space we have to work with in our new garden...

Speaking of gifts. I have one last gift suggestion, you can use it for next year.  I don't have photos, so I will just tell you about it.  I Love to give gift baskets for the holidays.  A basket with Pasta Sauce made from the garden, homemade pasta, olive oil and balsamic dipping oil, a baguette and a chocolate cake.  Everything you need to make a day after christmas dinner.  When you are wiped out and don't feel like cooking.  This meal in a basket is a much loved favorite gift.  Of course you can cheat and buy all the ingredients, it will still be just as appreciated.  Makes a great hostess gift for a holiday party too.

Wishing all of you a lovely, warm holiday season.  Thanks for stopping by this month and checking out my little Christmas ideas.  I will be taking the rest of the year off, and will begin posting after Kings day, January 6th...  with new photos, and video tutorials of DIY projects and recipes.

Hugs to all

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Favorite Holiday Cookies & Candies

This is a lengthy post.  I have compiled a list of the top cookie and breakfast recipes that my family loves.  Some of them are tried and true holiday favorites, some of them are modifications on traditional recipes that my family loves.  All of them are fairly easy and the results consistently good.

Chocolate Crinkles
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 squares unsweetened chocolate (4 oz) melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix oil, chocolate and sugar until well mixed.  add vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and then add to chocolate mixture.  Chill dough overnight.  Heat oven to 350. With cookie scoop (mini Ice Cream scooper) dip out balls of dough and place in a bowl full of powdered sugar.  Swirl dough in sugar until covered.  Place on well greased cookie sheet.  Dough is very sticky and easier to work with cold.  It will stick to your hands if you roll it by hand.  Place 2 inches apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes until almost no imprint shows when lightly touched in center.  Let cookies cool for a few minutes on sheet before placing on cooling rack.  These are delicious and taste like chocolate cake.  I usually double this recipe

Peppermint Snowballs

·         1  cup  butter, softened
·         3/4  cup  confectioners' sugar
·         1  teaspoon  vanilla
·         1/4  teaspoon  salt
·         1/4  cups  all-purpose flour
·         1/2  cup  quick-cooking oats
·         , 8 candy canes crushed (heaping 1/4 cup)
·           Red food coloring
·           Confectioners' sugar for rolling
1.Heat oven to 400°F. In large bowl, with mixer on high, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in flour (dough will be very dry). Beat in oats, mints, and 12 drops of red food coloring. Shape heaping teaspoons of dough into balls, place on ungreased baking sheets 1/2 inch apart, and bake 15 to 18 minutes per batch.
2. Place confectioners' sugar in large bowl. Roll hot cookies in confectioners' sugar, let cool completely, and repeat.

1 cup shortening (part butter or margarine)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
cinnamon and sugar for coating

Hear oven to 400 degrees.  Mix shortening, sugar and eggs thoroughly.  Measure flour by dipping method.  Mix all dry ingredients in another bowl and then add to creamed mixture.  Refrigerate 1 hour.  Roll into 1 inch balls,  then roll into cinnamon sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  These cookies puff up at first, then flatten out when cooled.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

1/ 2 cup shortning (1/2 butter or margarine)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 375.   Mix shortening, sugars, eggs and peanut butter together until well blended.  Measure flour by dipping method.  Mix all dry ingredients together.  Add to creamed mixture.  Chill dough 1 hour.  Roll dough into 1 1/4 inch balls, then roll in granulated sugar.  Place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Allow to cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet, press unwrapped Hershey Kiss or Hug into center of cookie.  Transfer to cooling rack and allow them to set for a few hours.  Kiss will melt, and then resolidify in cookie.  Do not disturb cookies until chocolate had hardened again.  I usually double this recipe.

Chocolate Croissants
Take a can of croissant dough and roll it out.  Press pre cut seams together and then cut rectangles into squares.  Fill each croissant with a teaspoon of chocolate chips.  Fold four corners of croissant into the middle and form a little pouch.  Bake as instructed on can.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.  Makes 8 croissants.

Creme Brulee French Toast  

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 6 French bread slices
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
1.     Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring until         sugar is dissolved. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2.     Remove crusts from bread, and arrange in the baking dish in a single layer. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla extract, orange brandy, and salt. Pour over the bread. Cover, and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.
3.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Remove the dish from the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature.
4.     Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and lightly browned. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Traditions

Christmas photos of years past

In my family,  Christmas starts on Christmas eve at my Aunt Marcia and Uncle Bobs house.  When I was a kid, it was grandmas... when she got older, Bob and Marcia volunteered to host it, and it has been at their house ever since.  My grandma was German and they celebrated Christmas Eve.  I remember Grandma telling of her parents lighting the candles on the tree while Uncle Hans stood by with a big bucket of water in case of fire.  The candles only burned long enough for all the family to appreciate the beauty of the tree.  She said they decorated it with a lot of home made paper ornaments.  They would spend the time making paper chains and fans and painting acorns and stringing popcorn and cranberries to adorn a festive tree.   She taught me how to sing Oh Tannenbaum, and I remember many christmases where I walked down to the craft store and bought ornament kits.  My brothers and cousins and I would decorate them with pins and sequins.   My mom tells a story of my grandma dragging home some tumble weeds and spray painting them white so she and Uncle Bob could have a snowman in the yard,   Here where we live, we have to drive 3 hours to see snow.  I love my grandmas ingenuity and way of thinking outside the box.  I think that's where I got my love of making ornaments, along with a frugal holiday decorating style.

When I was little, it was the one time a year I got to see all my cousins.  Now the family has grown so much, many have their own christmas eve celebrations, but many of us still gather, now six generations from the original German Immigrants who started the holiday tradition.  Christmas doesn't feel the same without Spaghetti dinner and potluck sides.  Visiting with cousins I only see once a year, some every other year.  watching the excitement on the little kids faces when they all open up one gift.  It was the one thing that made the holiday gift anxiety easier as a kid, being able to open one gift on christmas eve.

I remember fondly the year I got canned mushrooms and my brothers got buckets of reindeer poop.  Or the year my cousin Tim told Grandma she should ask Santa for a microwave.  Or the fist year we celebrated without Grandpa, and then Grandma... how sad, and nostalgic everyone was...  and how now we tell our favorite stories.  Missing cousin Kathy and Aunt Pat... the excitement of new babies being born and keeping all of the Santa Magic alive...

My children, and husbands of christmas Past, (and husband of Christmas present) have always celebrated Christmas morning,   Opening gifts and a big breakfast before the kids go off to their dads house at 11 am.  It is a frantic free for all of gift opening, getting showered and dressed, eating breakfast and everyone going out the door.  Pascual and I enjoy having a quiet house from Noon on... sometimes we join other family members for dinner, sometimes we join friends for a dinner, but many times we just go to the movies and hang out... reflecting on the fun and often the hectic times that happen during the holiday season.  As I grow older, I am realizing that I will probably not keep doing the hectic shopping of years past.  I will probably just give money now that the kids are older, and let them all get what they want.  We are hoping to go to Spain next Christmas, where let me tell you, they KNOW how to celebrate a holiday season.  Starting with Christmas Eve, and carrying on for the 12 days of Christmas to Epiphany on January 6th, it is a fun Festivus season....

The other tradition we celebrate is cookie baking.  My kids love it, but with schedules the way they are, we don't all get together for it any more like we did when they were little.  I may have one here one day, and another the next.  It is rare for me to have all 4 of them home at once.. But it is a part of our holiday traditions that we can never miss.  Tomorrow I will be posting photos and recipes of all of our family favorites, cookies and breakfast.

Apologies and explanations

My apologies for not posting today's post on the right day.  I has composed it early in the morning and selected draft instead.  I type many of my posts ahead of time, and add the photos later.  I find when I schedule them to post, sometimes I forget to come add the photos and it gets posted incomplete.  Thanks for bearing with me as I get into the groove of posting daily.  It is a much bigger endeavor than I had anticipated.  We moved the 6th of December, then flew to Wisconsin for a week to attend my hubbys company Christmas party and him to attend training at the home office, then back home to unpack and find all the Christmas and baking things among all the boxes.  Needless to say, It has been challenging trying to do a post a day, even with them pre typed, many of the things I post are made the day before posting and I didn't have all the photographs ready because everything is packed.  I won't even start on the camera difficulties I face on a daily basis... I will just apologize for the crummy photos... again... and hope Santa brings me a camera for Christmas.

But even with the hectic move added to the holiday season, we are so happy to be in a home again.  I will be doing many room makeover and garden posts in the coming months as we slowly make this place our own.

Thanks so much for visiting.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Beautiful Packaging

I love to make beautiful packages when I wrap.  Many times over the years, we wrapped with paper and wrote the kids name on the package with a sharpie, or an even bigger shortcut, the kids initial on each package.  When they are little, they don't truly appreciate the packaging.  But as my kids are growing older, they love the ceremony of unwrapping a gift.  Appreciating the packaging, and admiring my craftiness.  No bags or tissue in our house.  It must be wrapped in a box with paper and a stick on bow at least.  Where is the fun in pulling something out of a bag.  I think if you are going to go through the effort to give a gift to someone special, take the time to make the packaging pretty.  Bows cost a lot, even at the dollar store.  I have learned how to make many lovely bows and package adornments over the years for pennies.  Crepe paper and tulle are two of my go to favorites.  Along with cheap ornaments I pick up at thrift stores and glitter up over the year and set aside for packaging.  In my dream house, I would have 2 gift wrap rooms... One for Christmas, and another for everything else...

Photo number one is a keepsake box.  Decopage a cigar box with old sheet music.  Fan fold strips of music paper, cut a point on the fan fold, glue ends together to form a circle shape.  Glitter tips of circle.  Hand cut flowers, layer and then scrunch them up for a dimensional look.  Add a pearl button to the center of the flower and tie the whole thing on with glitter tulle and sheer ribbon.

White paper packages look so elegant tied with glitter tulle , and embellished with a tulle and glittered star ornament featured earlier this month.   Cut strips of tulle and wrap around package.  Save ends and run thru the string of the ornament, allowing ornament to dangle.  Pick up any star, snowflake or instrument ornament and glitter it up.  It makes a nice package ornament, and a keepsake for the recipient.

Wired tinsel garland bow.  Form 3 loops.  Make rose or gathered flower out of crepe paper streamer.  Glue to center of garland loops with hot glue gun.  Wrap crepe paper around package and then garland on top of crepe paper.  Wire bow to garland wrap for secure placement of bow.

This is a great package to do when you don't have any gift wrap.  Most people have waxed paper or aluminum foil in their kitchen.  Wrap box in foil or wax paper.  Make sure the box is white or a solid color if your are using wax paper.  Gather crepe paper with sewing machine or needle and thread.  Form flat circular cocorde with patterened crepe paper as pictured.  Make rosette by rolling pink gathered crepe paper into a circle, securing occasionally with hot glue.  Fluff the rosette and glue it to the cocorde. Wrap package a few times with another gathered streamer piece then glue rosette bow to package.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pink Christmas Tree

I have been wanting to have a pink Christmas tree for some time now.  I scored some lovely vintage pink ornaments at a flea market.  I had some old mercury glass balls, added some vintage pink flower stems. I also put some pink millinery flowers on the branches,  I had some white branches i stuck all over and filled in with some little silver balls and green glittered balls.  I love the contrast of the pink and green.  I found these darling chartreuse green ceramic train and car.  I put the bottle brush trees and teddy bear in them and placed them under the tree.  I am not done yet, but I am very happy with how it is looking so far.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cardboard Glitter Houses

I love making things out of recycled cereal boxes.  I found a little village with five little houses on it.  I took the houses apart carefully and made patterns.  You need an xacto knife and a steel ruler.  Trace the pattern on to the cereal box and cut out pieces with the xacto.  Fold pieces according to the pattern, and then glue together.  Paint buildings desired color and then glitter.  Use acetate or plastic from food containers for windows.  Use a gold or white sharpie pen to make the window panes and frame the windows. Glue inside the window holes.  Hang them on the tree, or display them as a mini village.  You can take battery powered itty bitty lights and put a couple in each house and then display it as a village, covering the cord and battery pack with imitation snow.   How adorable are they?

I have traced all the houses and made 4 patterns for you to download, but I can't figure out how to put the PDF's on here.  I would be happy to email you the PDF's if you drop me a note and request them.  I am working on figuring out how to put them on here as a downloadable file...  but until then, I have to send them to you.  Have fun making lots of different variations of these four houses and create your own little town.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beautiful Footed Cake Plates

Here are some more footed cake plates I saw at Paris Flea Market this month...  Pick up some candle sticks and plates and make a few of your own for the holidays.  Get the epoxy glue at Michaels, and glue a wineglass, candlestick or vase to a pretty glass or china plate.

Monday, December 17, 2012

3 wise Men

I found these funky 1970's gold wise men, I think they may have been from home interiors.  Pascual celebrates the 6th of January.  That is when the wise men bring gifts for children in Spain.  For him, the wise men and nativity set means the holidays, more so than a christmas tree.  I just painted on glue and then glittered them up.  I love how they look on the mantel during the holidays.  

We have a few family traditions.  Holiday baking and candy making.  Christmas eve at my aunt and uncles house with all my cousins, Christmas morning brunch before my kids go to their dads, and then usually a movie or two for Paskie and me...  We also started a tradition last year of the January 6th party.  Kings day cake, crown making and a great way to cap off the holiday season...

What are your family traditions?

Photo Ornaments

I found these plastic ornaments from the 70's at the long beach flea market a few months ago. I found more at an estate sale. I deconstructed them, took out the guts, glittered them up with german glass glitter, inserted the vintage photo and viola, a new, vintage looking ornament for pennies... You could use a baby photo of a family member, or a wedding photo or family portrait in miniature. Any image will work.

Another thing that is super easy is to take a vintage photo, make a frame out of recycled cardboard and gift wrap or scrapbooking paper.  Embellish it with holiday floral sprays and tinsel garland and decorate a package or christmas tree with your favorite family photos.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ribbon Spool Ornaments

Next time you use up a spool of ribbon, save the spool.  If you cut one of the paper tops off, you have a cool round space that can be embellished and made into a lovely shadow box style dimensional ornament.

The top one I made a circle of gathered tulle, glued a vintage earring to the middle and put it inside the circle.  I glittered the outside and embellished it with some cool tinsel trim I had.  The other one was painted aqua, then I arranged the white branches inside, then glued the snowman in the middle and finished it off with a wire edged chiffon bow.  You could use a family photo, A vintage image, really anything could be put inside...Mini bottle brush trees, a piece of jewelry, Barbie shoes.... I could think of hundreds of things.  If you have any ideas, please post them here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Snow Fairy Ornament

I saw these on the cover of Cloth Paper Scissors a few years ago and thought they were adorable.  I have made several versions of them over the past few years.  These were made with a little 2 inch tall bottle I had.   I made her head with paper clay.  Roll the clay into a ball.  Wrap a piece of scrapbooking copper foil around a pair of needle nose pliers to make the nose.  Stick it into the head.  Let dry.  Glitter up with rainbow superfine glitter.  Make eyes with black fabric paint writers.  I filled the bottle with glitter, wrapped vintage lace around the bottle for a dress, made stick arms with a white winter branch I bought at \Michael's.  Make a crown out of beads stacked on a sewing pin and stuck into the head.  The wings were made form a transparent pointsetta I found at the thrift store.  I hot glued them to the back of  the bottle, then placed an eye pin into the glue (for your hanger later) add a bit more glue and stick a decorative button in the back to cover up the wing construction.  Glue the snow fairy to a mini muffin tin, and glitter the base with German glass glitter.

The one on the bottom, (sorry for the terrible photo) was made the same way, but instead of wings, I made a neck ruff with a strip of silver glitter tulle gathered into a fan shape, and glued around the back of the head.

Friday, December 14, 2012

DIY Snow globes and bell Jars

I love little scenes under glass domes.  Those bell jars can be expensive.  Here is a low cost alternative.  I saw these at Paris Flea Market last weekend and fell in love.  They are mayonnaise and pickle jars, some with tops painted and knobs added, some with the top on the bottom, the scene placed inside and the edge of the jar lid decorated.  Glue them to silver or crystal candle sticks, and you have a great little bell jar collection for pennies.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bottle Cap Trivet

I bought this trivet at an estate sale.  It is simply a quilters yo-yo surrounding a bottle cap and stitched together.  I took some close up photos so you can see how it was constructed.

You can make them with denim for a sturdy trivet, or cover them with holiday fabrics..  What a clever reuse idea.  Loved the old Coca Cola bottle caps with the cork inside.  So you know this one is old and it has been used a lot based on the soil, fabric pattern and wear and tear.  .

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Easy Earrings

I have a ton of vintage beads in my jewelry stash.  I cranked out a bunch to sell at the shop, and also to give as gifts to friends.  Break out the jewelry making stuff and whip up some quick gifts yourself.  They are fun and so easy.  I made all of these in a few hours last night.  It goes quick when you have all the components ready and all you need to do is match up the colors and beads.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nostalgic Low Cost Gifts

I am very big on touchy feely gifts that make the recipients cry or go "aaawwwww" when they open them.  I have compiled a list of my top 10 favorite nostalgic gifts.   I have given them in the past to family and friends.  They never fail, are always appreciated and usually a huge hit.  They take a little work and advance planning, but they are so worth it.

We all have our favorite christmas carols.  How about making a CD for Mom and Dad or the Grandparents.  Or any person you know who is not into MP3 players.  Even if they are, they can convert the CD into an MP3 file and load it onto their player.  Create a cover and cd jacket that maybe details out your favorite memories of the holidays while listening to each specific song.  Try making the cover art with a photo of yourself as a child, or an old family christmas photo. 

Family recipe books are a fun way to include others in the gift.  Gather up all of your family's favorite recipes.  Type them up, add some cute graphics, of photos of the people with their signature dishes.  Make multiple copies and keep a master, because everyone will want one. 

Quick scrapbooks are also a big hit with older siblings and parents.  Digging through childhood photos of the seasons past, and compiling a holiday photo album can be so fun.  Laughing with family menbers over the photos of a sibling crying on Santa's lap, or riding the big wheel and roller skates you got on christmas day when you were 7 can bring back a lot of family reminiscing that your kids will love hearing about.

Pick a favorite old family photo, and reproduce and frame it.  I made photos for my brothers one year of us on a snow trip with our dad.  There are very few photos of us with our parents when we were little, and even less with Dad.  That picture sits in a place of honour in all of our homes now. 

Make a photo ornament of a loved one who has passed.  I made ornaments for my sister in law and her sister with a picture of their grandma, covered in a fabric that was the same as one she had in her sewing room.

Interview your children and write it down.  Ask them questions about what does daddy do for work, what does mommy always say to you, ask them to define big words like what is marriage, what is responsability etc.  The things they say are hilarious and so precious.  Frame it and give it to a parent or grandparent.

Grow a little tree from a seedling of Grandma and Grandpas tree... or Mom's favorite rose bush, or Auntie's prize winning Zinnia's...  Living gifts are cool, but make sure the recipient is a gardening or plant person before gifting.

Dig out those baby shoes you have packed away, stuff them, glitter them, turn them into ornaments and gift them to your kids with a photo of them when they wore them.

Save your kids christmas lists and letters to Santa and put them into a book, with christmas photos, and give them to your grandchildren.  Or scan them, reduce them and print them on to photo paper, put them in a mini frame and make an ornament with them.  Same goes with your kids Christmas artwork.

The old standby of converting VHS tapes to digital  can not be underrated.  Watching old videos of christmases, and hearing those tiny voices, watching the excitement on the face of your husband or wife when they were little just can not be topped.

Please post any nostalgic gift ideas you have done in the past.  I would love to get ideas for new ones!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Decking the Halls in themes

While I was down in OC for the Thanksgiving Holiday, Lorraine and I took a trip to Shinoda Design Center.  They have the coolest home decor stuff there.  I snapped these photos of the endcap displays.  I loved looking at all the displays and interesting themes.  I think the underwater one is my favorite.