Monday, December 15, 2014

Toadstool Christmas Cake

With Christmas less than two weeks away, things are kicking into high gear around here!  Lots of planning and shopping, decorating and baking.  We're never too busy for a little cake though, are we? There is something so beautiful about the simplicity if red and white together and the toadstools , made of edible decorating dough, are just the cutest.  You can make them too, in just a few easy steps! This would be fun to do with kids as well, the decorating dough feels just like play-dough (only it tastes better) and I had so much fun trying it out for the first time.
I made a simple, round, vanilla cake and while it baked and cooled I molded my little toadstools.  Here's how I did it:

You will need:
-Single layer baked cake
-White frosting (pastry bag with tip, or sandwich baggy with the corner cut for decorating)
-Red edible decorating dough
-White edible decorating dough
-Confectioner's sugar
Starting with the white dough, make a series of mushroom "stems".  You must knead the dough in your hands for it to become pliable, after which you will be able to easily mold your little stems.  Make a variety of heights and sizes.  Set aside.  Next take the red dough and make your mushroom caps.  Start with a ball and use your knuckle to begin molding the little cup-like shape of the cap.

Press the cap gently down on the stem and repeat until you've made all of your little red caps.  Now you'll want to add the famous white spots!
Dot your white icing on in random spots all over the caps of each little mushroom.  Now you're ready to ice your cake, then have your toothpicks handy.

Insert toothpicks gently into the bottom of your stems for added stability when they are placed on top of the cake.  Decorate your cake with each little toadstool and then dust with confectioner's sugar.  (You can see I added a little strip of tiny red bunting to mine as well, just for fun).
 This sweet little cake makes the perfect playful addition to the dessert table for Christmas.  It would also make a wonderful winter birthday cake!

Are you busy, busy getting things ready for the holidays too?


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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cookie Cutter Ornaments: Upcycling Holiday Cards

I've always had a soft spot for Christmas cards.  I love getting them, I love sending them, and I've been known to save my favorite cards for years. In an age where texting and emailing are our main vehicles for communication, finding a handwritten card in the mailbox is extra special. With my stack of favorites growing each Christmas, I thought it would be fun to find a way to turn those cards into something fun that we can display year after year for the holidays.  On Small Business Saturday I scored a bunch of beautiful vintage cookie cutters at a local shop and spent the rest of afternoon turning some of my favorite cards, along with our 2014 Christmas card from Tiny Prints , into these adorable cookie cutter ornaments.
Aren't they cute? They make the perfect keepsake ornaments for hanging on the tree and topping gifts.  Here's how to make them:
You Will Need:
-Cards, tags, photos, or any type of printed material on a heavy stock
-Cookie cutters in assorted shapes
-Hot glue gun
-Twine or ribbon for hanging
Start by lining the back edge of your cookie cutter with hot glue and press it, glue side down, onto the card.

Now, using an X-acto knife, carefully cut around the shape of the cookie cutter.  (Be sure to place a cutting mat or board underneath your work space for this step.)
Repeat with the next shape of cookie cutter, and so on, until you've made your desired number of ornaments.
Once you've finished making your shapes, you'll glue a loop of ribbon or twine to the back of each one for easy hanging.  That's it!  Now you can display them on your tree, or use them to add a little something special to the tops of your gifts.  Use a friend or family member's photo card from years past to mark gifts meant especially for them.
I love ornaments that have a bit of sentimentality and now, not only do I have some special new ornaments for our collection, I've also found the perfect way to extend the life of our favorite Christmas cards. I'm so excited that the holidays are here, aren't you!?


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Monday, November 24, 2014

How to Make a Natural Wreath in 3 Easy Steps

When I was growing up, my Grandfather often sent my Mother a package in early winter.  It would arrive as a plain shipping box, but was filled with bittersweet vine from his property in upstate New York.  Bittersweet vine never seemed to grow at my childhood home and my mother must have lamented about this to my Grandfather who saw to it that she have some as the holidays neared.  I loved the novelty of it, the honor that was given to this wild, wild vine, beautiful enough to deserve shipping downstate.  Since then bittersweet vine has always caught my eye, and when Nick and I bought our first home I was pleased to see it growing along the borders of our property.  As long as it doesn't encroach too far (it is also known for it's choking, destructive ways) I welcome it. Especially in the late fall when the leaves drop, replaced by yellow-shelled crimson berries.  The most common decorative use for Bittersweet Vine is in wreaths!  It has a natural tendency to twist and wind making it the perfect medium for twisted natural wreaths. These natural wreaths are very simple to make and only require a few steps. (Note that you'll want to work on your wreath outside only, as the berries will shed.)
(Note:  Shown here is Oriental Bittersweet, while its sister plant the American Bittersweet is a protected plant due to increasing rarity.  Please be sure to check before you cut!)
Begin by gathering strands of the vine.  Using garden clippers (possibly gloves if you have them, there tend to be blunt thorns here and there), cut about five 3-4ft long sections of the vine full with berries.  You will also want to look for thicker sections that are absent of berries to use as the base for your wreath.  For a wreath of the size shown at the top, I cut about a 3 foot section of  the thicker berry-less vines (these are usually twisted together like thick cording).
First, twist the 3ft berry-less strand into the shape of a circle.  You may use a little piece of floral wire to connect the ends, or simply weave and tuck them in on each other the way I did above.  Tip: When making natural wreaths it is important to remember that your piece will have an organic feel and you should not strive for perfect symmetry.

Next, starting in any spot on the wreath, begin winding the vines along the curve, threading them in and out of the center of the wreath. Using your fingers, tuck loose ends into the other wound strands to secure.  There is no 'right way' to do this, you sort of  follow the natural path of the vines while at the the same time forcing them to twist around each other, all the while following the curve of your wreath base.  
Lastly, when you feel your wreath is complete, you may either trim off any stragglers or leave them as is.  Your wreath should have a little bit of character (see that cute little bump-out on the right side of mine?), this adds to the beauty of a natural wreath. 
Now you're finished and you can hang your wreath proudly on the front door, or give it as a gift!  Mine will be given as a hostess gift in a few days at Thanksgiving.  Can you guess who the lucky recipient will be?  I thought someone should continue the pre-Christmas tradition of the 'Bittersweet Delivery' to my Mama...only this time it will hand delivered.

(Please Note: Bittersweet can be poisonous when ingested by dogs and cats, so it's best to display wreaths in an area where pets will not be, and never indoors!)

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Attic Lace Holiday

Guess what guys! I survived my first craft fair! This event was actually considered a "Vendor Day" (at Weed Orchards & Winery in Marlboro, NY), and I was there with a booth of handmade items for sale.  I had so much fun prepping for this, making holiday decor items and crocheting little baby hats and booties.  It was an awesome feeling to get feedback from visitors and I almost couldn't get over the fact that people seemed to really like my stuff! It was a wonderful feeling.  I met some really great people, many of them local to the upstate area. I've attended many different types of fairs and markets, and it was really interesting to be on the other side of the table this time...
Everything was handmade which felt great, Nick even helped me make those awesome little wood slice ornaments which I then painted and strung.  This really got me in the mood to start decorating for Christmas, so of course I kept some ornaments for our own tree at home.
I think my favorite selling items were the baby booties.  It was pretty neat to have customers tell me that they were a gift for their sister, or friend who was due in the months to come. One woman bought a pair to bring to a baby shower later that day.  It really warmed my heart to think of the tiny toes that would be snuggling down in those little booties.

All in all it was a day that left me feeling really happy, despite the absolutely frigid temps (we actually had a heavy snow flurry at one point!). We sipped many cups of their delicious hot apple cider, and the freshly made donuts didn't hurt either.

I want to say a big 'thank you' to those of you that came out and showed your support.  A huge thank you also to Nick and my Mama, they stuck it out with me all day in that freezing cold. That's love right there!  I have to say that this is something I'd definitely  consider doing again in the future.  In the meantime, I'm dreaming a bit of opening an online shop. What do you think?


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Monday, November 3, 2014

Little Fall Wreath

Hope you had an excellent Halloween weekend.  If you're like me and did any type of shopping this weekend you saw...Christmas.  Don't get me wrong- I can't wait to start the holiday season but for me the next couple of weeks are a weird limbo stage.  Not quite time to start decorations, but still there is a yearning.  To quell my excitement, and to continue to honor fall, I made this little leaf wreath out of felt.  It's nice and neutral so it doesn't lean too heavily in either the Christmas direction, or the fall direction.  A happy medium.
You Will Need:
-Three colors of crafting felt
-1 to 3 pieces of floral wire 
-Thin ribbon
-Glue (hot glue works best)
Cut varying sizes and colors of leaves from your felt. I also cut some little round berry shapes out of my green felt.

Using a twisting motion, make a small circle using your floral wire, mine was about 8-10" across.  Tuck in any sharp end or dot with glue.  Begin to glue your leaves and berries along the wire shape until you've gone all the way around.
Tie a bow with your ribbon and glue to the top/front of your wreath.  Cut an extra loop of ribbon and attach to the back of the wreath for hanging.  Your wreath is now complete!
I'm happy with my "not quite the Christmas season yet" wreath.  It feels a little festive without jumping the gun. How are you enjoying the last bits of fall before the seasons turn?

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Halloween DIY: Spooky Spoons!

Halloween is two weeks away! Can you believe it!? October has flown by and I had to get started on costume and party ideas before Halloween knocks at our door (Trick-or-Treat!).  I love adding a little surprise factor to themed party tables and, rather than boring old utensils, I thought it would be fun to dress up the flatware a bit! I picked up these cheap little skeleton hands for a dollar ninety nine at the craft store (also saw them at the party store so they should be available at any major retailer of the sort) and snagged some silver plastic flatware.  A little hot glue, and we're good to go!
Simply glue the "palm" of the bony hand to the end of the plastic utensil, allow to cool/harden, and repeat!
It's as simple as that.  An entire party set could be made in minutes.  I also appreciate how inexpensive this was, party supplies can add up fast!
I think party guests will really get a kick out of these spooky spoons (and forks/knives).  A cheap way to be a bit playful with the place settings.  Everyone needs a little "hand" with their spoon now and again, don't you think? 


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