Monday, November 30, 2009

How to "Prettify" a Boring Christmas Wreath 101...

I finally got around to making my pink Christmas wreath, and while it's not quite what I had planned, I think it turned out quite well. I found this sparkly faux-boxwood wreath at Homesense for about $15. It wasn't quite what I had in mind, but I knew that with a little panache, I could make it work. I found the assorted pink Christmas balls for $1.99 for 12, also at Homesense...I already had the 24 gage wire from another project.

This is what you'll need.

I know the wreath looks supremely boring here...just try not to fall asleep. It gets better, I promise!

Cut a 4 inch piece of the wire using wire cutters (or scissors, if you're brave like me). Loop the wire through the eye on the ornament. Twist it a few times to secure, then place it where you want it on the wreath.

Secure the ornament to the wreath form by twisting the wire.

Continue on until you have placed all of the ornaments on the wreath.

Put it up on your door and watch through the peephole as all your neighbors walk by and admire :)

This same technique could easily be adapted to fit your colour scheme for the holiday season. You could also add pine cones, nuts still in their shells...think walnuts, pecans and basil nuts...not peanuts or pistachios...or other types of Christmas ornaments (birds could be cute). Be creative and have fun with it!

Now that my birthday has passed, I am really gearing up for Christmas. I am busily decorating our pint-size abode, and we are excitedly planing our 'Tis the Season Soriee. Lots more to come over the impending weeks!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Crafts to Keep You Busy

I've rounded up some fun crafts so that you can get a head start on your handmade Christmas gifts, or simply while away the copious amounts of time you'll have over the next few weeks leading up to the holidays (I know, scoff).

Fabric Necklace from Pretty Ditty

Custom Dog Leash from Craft Stylish

IPod Nano Cover from Made by Petchy

Glass Ball Wreath from Martha Stewart

Handmade Lunch Bag from Design Sponge

So have fun, my friends...keep those fingers know what they say about idle hands.

Bon weekend!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Upcycled Doggie Sweater...

Some of you may remember my idea to make a new dog sweater from this post. Well, isn't pretty, but I've done it! I used one of Loki's other sweaters as a pattern, and started chopping and stitching, and this is what I came up with:

The full effect...

A little closer up now...

Sitting handsomely...

Like, sooooo bored with life...

My initial hope was to just shrink the sweater enough to fit him without a single snip or stitch...although he was cooperative in trying, I was NOT a success.

Overall, it's not my best work, but at least it fits him, which means my skills are improving! My initial instinct when sewing is "get 'er done," which leads to rushing and sloppyy work. It takes ALL the willpower I have to go nice and slow, and get it done neatly. I'm a work in progress, what can I say?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wedding Wednesday...I DIY

Listen up, all you brides-to-be! If you love to do-it-yourself (and who doesn't?) ...then you MUST visit I Do it Yourself. This site is a gold mine of all things wedding-related. You can find QUALITY downloads, access to freebies, fonts, labels, crafty ideas, and inspiration. I absolutely love this site, and I HIGHLY recommend that you take a few seconds to peruse through.

If you aren't already convinced, here are some photos of the content to be entice you!

Why are you still here? GO!
Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Favourite Christmas Cookie Recipes

I have rounded up the recipes I seem to make over and over again at Christmas for friends and family. Some of the recipes lend themselves well to freezing, which is a bonus because that means you can get started on them right away...You're only going to get busier! They also lend themselves well to my handmade pledge...and they're all delicious!

Slice and Bake Cookies from The Smitten Kitchen

She's got several options for add-ins, which make this recipe a versatile choice. The recipe can be frozen in logs, and sliced when unexpected company pops in over the holidays. I like to keep a batch in my freezer, just in case.

Snickerdoodles from Bakerella

These cinnamon-rolled cookies are crispy and they melt in your mouth. Apparently they are a pretty popular cookie in the states, although I'd never hear of them until a few years ago. I can see why though...these go down really easy with a glass of milk!

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies from Martha Stewart

These cookies are made with fresh ginger, which makes the flavour really pop. It also keeps the cookies moist and chewy. They don't have the "crunch" of the original, but they're far superior in my opinion! The ginger tends to be "stringy" if you just grate it, so I suggest pulsing in a few times in a small food processor or chopper (yet another use for your Slap-Chop!).

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Anna Olsen

DO NOT relegate these cookies only to Christmas. They are the most delicious version I have ever tried, and I do a lot of baking. They are quick to whip up, but they don't make them closer to your event or you risk having only crumbs to serve.

Holiday Biscotti from Giada Di Laurentiis

I make these year after year, and they are always in high demand. I have also substituted the same amount of chopped dried cherries for the cranberries, and the same amount of roasted almonds for the pistachios, I used orange zest instead of lemon and I added 2 tsp of vanilla. After baking, I dipped the cooled biscotti in chocolate (bottoms only), and my family went nuts. They're truly delish.

Chocolate Macaroons from DLTK

This is a childhood favourite. It's a no-bake recipe, and it takes seconds to whip up. This is similar to the actual recipe that I use, which is my mama' you know it'll be good.

Mini Cherry-Pecan Streusel Loaves by Martha Stewart

I give these loaves as gifts and as stocking stuffers. It makes a great addition to the breakfast buffet on Christmas morning, or as an accompaniment to your coffee on boxing day.

I am planning on giving the loaves in these rustic wooden loaf pans:

which you can purchase through King Arthur Flour. They'd look perfect wrapped in a vintage tea towel or linen napkin and some kitchen twine.

I am too excited to get my hands into some baking! Hurry up, December!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a Pink Christmas...

With Christmas quickly approaching, I am experiencing those proverbial "visions of sugarplums dancing in my head." As soon as my birthday is over I really start to gear up on Christmas...This year I'm anxious to do something different and unique...something pink!

A few years ago, this photo in the December issue of Martha Stewart's now defunct Blueprint magazine really sparked my imagination.

These gorgeous vintage mercury glass tree toppers are the first on my list to find. I've seen a few on Etsy, but I have yet to purchase one. I actually owe my parents one too, because I smashed one from my grandmother as a child...

A wreath like this one is also on my list of things to make...but I only have four weeks, so I'd better get a move on!

These gorgeous German vintage ornaments will soon be mine...hopefully! They are absolutely exquisite, n'est pas?

I love the idea of displaying the ornaments in interesting vessels around the house. I've just purchased a new apothecary jar just for this purpose...

In terms of natural decorations I have some pretty bowls to fill...I'm thinking dragon fruit, pomegranates and lychee fruit, nature's little christmas ornaments. I can't wait to start the decorating on the first week of December. Lots of crafting, lots of scouring vintage shops, and lots of baking to come! Stay tuned!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Antiquing in Niagara

My hometown has a bevvy of lovely antique shops and boutiques featuring tchotchke of varying quality and price-points, but it is rare to find one that balances both perfectly. Vineland Antiques, however is the exception. It's located in Vineland's turn-of-the-century (the 20th century, that is) Red and White General Store, and many of the store's original features have been preserved. The original cash desk still stands, and the wood floors and tin ceiling call to mind the days of yesteryear...The service is lovely, and the wares will definitely have you drooling.

This is the shop as it looked originally in the 1920's. It actually became the Red and White Store in the 50's and 60's, I think.

This is the shop as it looks now:

My mom and I spent the afternoon shopping the boutiques, especially the antiques (I suppose you could say we went "antiquing," but it just sounds so stodgy to me...) here are some of the lovely things to be had at Vineland Antiques...

So Marie Antoinette...

You know I can't resist!

Who's up for a tea party?

Note the Blue "B" handkerchief...more on the Wedding Wednesday...enough said.

The chandeleir is for sale too!

Loved these guys...

This sign could go on everything in the shop:

In general, if you're around Vineland, definitely make this little shop a must-see on your itinerary. It's a relatively well-kept local secret, but feel free to spread the word.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The One of a Kind Show is Coming to Toronto!

Since I have taken the Handmade Pledge this year for Christmas gifts, I've challenged myself to come up with presents for friends and family that are unique, sustainable, but also something they may not have thought of themselves. That means no Christmas lists for me this year, which can be a stressful prospect. It's always easier to shop for someone when they tell you the want an iPhone 300, or a paticular DVD or CD...but it actually takes some thought when you shop handmade...and don't we always say that it's the though that counts?

It seems that every year toy stores massively recall items after Christmas, citing lead or some other toxic substance that may harm us...not to mention the BPAs or PVCs that have been linked to cancer and other ailments. I firmly believe a child can be just as pleased with a lovely handmade toy as he is with something purchased at Wal Mart or Toys R Us, and they'll be healthier too...

But since there is no "Handmade Wal Mart" so-to-speak, where will I be doing my Christmas shopping this year? Well, hence the title, it's going to start at the One of A Kind Show which runs from November 26 to December 6 at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. Tickets are $10 online or $12 at the door. The show features the work of hundreds of artisans, and there is something for everyone. This year the show will be expanding to include crafting workshops, which can be purchased for an additional fee. You can dowload the Gift Guide on the official website, which will help you shop prudently for everyone on you list.

After that, I'll be heading to the City of Craft Show on Queen Street December 12 and 13. For only a $2 admission fee, you can browse local craft vendors to your heart's content. I'm looking forward to some amazing finds!

Both of these craft shows offer viable alternatives to DIY crafting, but stay tuned each week for a craft posting each week until Christmas this year if you're more of a DIY-er...I'll be scouring the internet to find the loveliest crafts that you can make with a little panache and some elbow grease...Technically, I think that's more in the handmade spirit anyways, right?