Monday, December 21, 2015

a holiday project: it's a wrap, with a few twists

I spent most of Sunday afternoon wrapping gifts.  I'm one of those people that is pretty picky about my wrapping paper and ribbons.  I like it to coordinate, usually with the tree, but definitely with each other... no wild cards usually show up here!

This year I came across the most beautiful paper... this winter scene that is in soft grayish, aquaish, blueish colors, found both at a local store and my favorite wrapping heaven, Paper Source.  I knew I could make this work with my existing tree "theme" but a regular or deep red wasn't quite right.  Since the paper was made by Rifle Paper Co. I checked their website to see what they had that coordinated... and found this fun polka dot that is almost a persimmon color.  Not quite red but not quite orange.   Then I stocked up on tags and ribbon from my go to, Paper Source, the tags also by Rifle Paper... I guess that's why it all worked together!

I had plans for this little guy since last summer... my grandmother's old shopping trolley (?).  I've been meaning to make a cute little bag for it and fill it with all my rolls of paper.  With time running out, for the holidays it just got a piece of cardboard in the bottom and no bag... maybe by next year!

I did however tie a cute little cardboard fruit basket (Sweet Lulu, my go to party place for boxes and containers) with ribbon and tags.. along with this fun ball of yarn ribbon!  Would I date myself if I told you I always wanted pony tails tied with some of this kind of yarn?

Even without the liner this trolley made a great place to corral all my paper rolls in one spot... I have many more rolls but these were just the Christmas holiday rolls.

And then it was time to get to work wrapping.  I really took my time this year, it seems in the last few years it's always been a last minute thing to get everything wrapped, sometimes even on Christmas Eve... long ago before my working days, I would have all the gifts wrapped, beribboned and bowed before December even got under way... all ready to pile under the tree!  This year I wanted to enjoy it again and not have it be a chore or item to get crossed off a list.

I took my time selecting paper and ribbons.  Writing tags and even using some yarn I had to make braided or twisted "ribbons" and lots of pom poms!  I thought the pom poms would be fun for the little one's gifts.

And even some of the big boy's gifts!

Even got a little wild and mixed some of the yarn together for some pom poms so I guess there was a wild card after all!

Two of my nephews are getting to be teenagers and gift cards are the best gift for them.  I wanted to present them in a bit different way and originally thought about making wallets out of duct tape and filling them with the cards.

But a stop a Michael's craft store a few weeks ago gave me the idea of a mason jar, this particalur one came in red and has the lid and straw together... and bonus they were on sale for cheaper than a plain jar.  Filled with gift cards, and of course something sweet like m&m's, fun ribbon, an envelope of cocoa and it was all finished.

As I wrapped I placed the gifts under the tree for now... ready to deliver to their recipients soon.

And by nightfall the pile had grown as the lit tree glows through the evening.

And now just a few more left to wrap, including a special one for my little Miss Bee.  We were fortunate to have her overnight on Friday and before heading out on Saturday, she was investigating a little tree in my kitchen that was just her size, complete with a little Santa on top!  It was hard to get a picture since she kept carrying it to me, her Gigi!  At almost 19 months old she is becoming quite the entertaining little toddler!

Time to finish up the wrapping and begin the sugar cookie making,

Thursday, December 17, 2015

a holiday project: fairy's wand

A few years back I came across a picture on Pinterest... one of those that just led to an image with no directions but one I obviously liked since I managed to pin it more than once.

This year with one of my other intended projects fall through I decided it was time for to give this one a try.  Brought out a pile of supplies including tags, odds and ends, foil reflectors, cupcake liners (again you ask?) and my other obsession... paper straws.

I may have as many paper straws as cupcake liners but can't seem to pass up a new pattern or color when I see it.

I found a couple of funky vintage sugar bells on a hodge-podge of things and thought to perhaps make a couple of pastel wands.

And all kinds of silver, foil, glitter-y goodness to go with some fun silver striped straws.

My inspiration photo included similar stars as mine...

I got to work with, my less than trusty, hot glue gun and the silver pile first.   And was pretty happy with the outcome.  Three silver-y wands... beribboned and glitter-y just like a fairy want should be.  I just kept layering and gluing until I was happy with the result.  Metal chenille stems ensure they can be ornaments as well as magical wands.

The pastel ones came out a bit funky...

But still cute in a kind of weird 70's gone wild kind of way.

So this quick little project brings the total to five this week...

And that means tomorrow is Friday and one week to Christmas... I'd better getting wrapping things up in more ways than one!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

a holiday project: using jars for more than jam

 Jars for gifts... of course you can fill your jars with homemade goodness like jams and jellies... or even purchase them ready made at a local farmer's market.  But have you ever thought of using a jar and filling it with cookies?  Or homemade candies?  Even homemade bath salts (keep reading for a recipe)?  Yes, anything that can fit in a jar can be gussied up for the holidays.

You may remember that I used jam as party favors at the farm themed baby shower last summer... I even used these same little berry baskets.  They are inexpensive and easy to fill and fuss with.  For this, I'm getting some little jars of jam ready for a family get together this weekend as well as some for a few co-workers next week.  I brought out all of my supplies... baskets, filler, tags, little spoons, ribbon, twine and my secret jar weapon... cupcake liners!

Cupcake liners make the BEST jar toppers ever!  They come in every color or style imaginable, for every event or holiday you can think of... and get this... they are the PERFECT size to top a jar!  No cutting, no nothing!  You just remove the ring on the jar, add the liner and screw the ring right over the top.  Sooo much easier than fabric too.

For this one I had a cute Santa liner and a polka dot on white.  I have to admit, I do have a collection (in fact a whole drawer) of cupcake liners.  When I see cute ones, I pick them up.  If you look at these jars you see that the liner even makes a cute little finished edge below the ring.  We used these at my niece's wedding here at Red Gate Farm with brown liners and actual circle stickers in the same color so we could stamp on them.  The ideas are endless.

Next up was to pick a couple of baskets... add some filler, tag, tiny spoon and I'm almost done.  So quick and easy.

At this point you can add ribbon to keep the jar in the basket or even put the whole thing in a cellophane bag with a bow.

For me it was ribbon all the way... tied both directions to keep those jars in place!

 And that bath salt idea?  Well a number of years ago I came across a recipe for Almond Milk Bath.  I make it most years and it is very easy with just a few ingredients and a food processor.  I like to gift it in a jar with a little wooden spoon or scoop tied onto it.

You can change the almond for any essential oil or other natural flavoring.  I favor the almond, vanilla or a citrus like lemon or orange.

Almond Milk Bath
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 cup Epsom salts
1/3 cup borax (I've been using the same box for years now)
1 teaspoon almond extract (or other extract or essential oil, may need less depending on selection)
1 tablespoon gelatin (or one envelope)
paste food coloring, if desired

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse well.  Pour onto lined cookie sheet (I use foil) to dry completely.  If using food coloring go very, very easy... just a touch on a toothpick as you don't want to stain someone's tub!
 Fill up your jar!

Cookies, bath salts, candy, nuts or even just jam... think about filling a jar with a bit of love and sharing it with others this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

a holiday project: an appropriately farm themed christmas garland

Santa seems to pop up on everything over the years, even milk bottle caps!  I saw a version of this garland back in November at a local Christmas sale and new I wanted to make my version.  Project number 3 is another easy project... but one again the supplies are harder to come by the the actual doing...

I had the red and white baker's twine but needed to find some appropriate milk bottle caps.  Once again I took to etsy and found 5 of the cutest Santa caps and a lot of identical caps to finish off the garland.  I didn't want a mix up of caps so these that actually say "try our fresh butter" were perfect in their plain with with red text.

My original idea was to not glue the caps but to actually use a needle and thread on all but the Santa caps but then I realized I had so many caps that I could make it two sided/reversible by sandwiching two caps together.  This meant the dreaded glue gun... and yes, I may never recover fully from my mishap this weekend and a wayward blob of hot glue on my thumb!

I carefully planned my layout so that the Santa caps were spread out evenly and then decided to make the caps 9 inches apart... I even used a ruler, no eyeballing this one.  I just placed one cap right side down and added a drop of glue over the twine the placed the second cap on top. I did use the "fresh butter" caps on the reverse side of the Santa caps... fortunately the etsy seller added one extra to my purchase (instead of the 40 I purchased) so the numbers still worked out.

The glue dried quickly and by the time I glued the last two together it was ready to hang on the tree!  It turned out just as I imagined... and through luck all the Santa caps ended up in photo distance of my barn ornaments!

Except this one that is next to my greenhouse ornament...still farm-y, right?

With the twine the garland doesn't show up from a distance but I do like how the faded blue on the Santa caps works with all my aqua!

And just because I haven't showed off this little elf recently... it's hard to believe someone could have eyes this blue... all those Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic genes coming through.

Yep, that's Miss Bee with Santa this year!  Growing up so fast and looking a lot like her mama in this picture.  At 18 months she is finally sprouting some hair, also just like her mama!

Hope to see you again tomorrow for the next holiday project,

Monday, December 14, 2015

a holiday project: santa's cup runneth over

I had a difficult time coming up with a holiday gift, crafting project.  In recent years I've always had an idea well in advance... this year I was inspirationaless... and yes, I think I made that word up...

Finally, when a friend and I were at a local holiday sale in mid November, I saw a Santa mug with a vintage-y tree in it and thought that might just be what I do this year!  Of course I couldn't sacrifice any of my own collection, so I headed to etsy to look for a "lot" of miniature Santa mugs for a reasonable price.  The first set was a style I had never seen before, but before I got them ordered they were gone, which was probably for the best since I would have wanted to keep at least one myself and then I would have been short a Santa or let's be honest two...

Now for those of you who are recipients of some of my holiday project creations... you may want to stop right here... I'm just saying... unless you're like me and have a hard time waiting for the surprise that is!!

Fortunately for me and my giftees another set of 7 came up and this time I didn't delay ordering them.  The etsy seller shipped them quickly and I broke out my stash of bottle brush trees to start the project as soon as they came.

After reading about bleaching trees I thought I'd give that a whirl... after just two trees I decided to just go with the original green.  Bleaching trees in my bathtub wasn't turning out to be fun...   Some of my trees were already white/beige which was great and gave me an excuse to give up the bleaching process.  I DID however use silver glitter on all but two... one can never have enough glitter at any time of year.  Sadly, said glitter doesn't show in the pics very well.

Finally came the fun part!  All the bits, bobs, ribbon, and of course, little bitty ornaments!  As you can see some did not fill a Santa cup.  Depending on the recipient some, like this copper jelly/jello mold, have a different theme depending on who the recipient is.  I found this fun wired copper ribbon which was perfect for this trio of smaller trees.

This blue one isn't crooked but for the life of me I couldn't get a straight photo!  This one is meant for someone that has a lot of blue in her decor.  The bottle was a $.50 find at the local antique store and I knew it would be perfect with one of the white/beige trees.  I even filled the bottle with white "snow" before gluing the tree on top.

This one isn't quite done.  I found this little burlap basket and used the largest of my trees which was nice since this tree could then hold larger ornaments.  The finish will be selecting one or both of these ribbons to glue around the little bag to finish off the burlap.

But the best part of this one is the little bit on the top... I peeled this little bit off of a vintage gift tag!  I found a box of them at a local estate sale and although the tags are just gold cardboard these little add ons are fantastic!!  It was hard to part with this one since it didn't have a duplicate like some of the others but it really fit this tree.

These three are still waiting for their finishing touches.  It may be a few days since I need to find some very tiny things, even sequins would work,  to glue on them as these trees are quite a bit smaller... and since I managed to burn myself, and I do mean burn myself as in skin is no longer there, I may be a bit afraid of said glue gun when mixed with tiny items for a while.  But at least you can see the glitter on these three!

Two of the three finished Santa mugs... the third is similar.  These little angels on top came out of my vintage stash of randomness.  Perfect toppers in every way, who doesn't like a traditional angel on top of their tree!

But one of the mugs that just may not make the cut in gift giving is my favorite... I DO have a soft spot for red spotted, spun cotton, mushrooms!  And sugar bells... it doesn't get any better!

Although this little gem is also on my "keeping list"... a cute little bottle I've had forever, filled with silver glitter, tied with a ribbon and adorned with a vintage cameo.  This one may never leave my craft room!

So one severely burned thumb, 4 finished Santa mugs, 2 bottles, a copper jello mold and burlap basket later and I've got most of my handmade gifts done!  How about you?  Finishing up or just starting?

And be sure to check back tomorrow for the next holiday project... it should make you smile!

linking up to