Monthly Archives: December 2009

Happy Christmastime

Well, the Christmas holiday is upon us, and I (like many) am about to take several days off to spend time with family and friends and celebrate the season. I’m hugely excited to see my two younger brothers who are currently living in Massachusetts and are BOTH going to be home for the holidays ^_^

The new year will bring much to do! I’m looking forward to another year of ceramic work, trying new recipes, daily craft projects and wedding planning (oh…and a wedding, haha).

I want to wish everyone a very happy Christmas, and a very very merry New Year!

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The weekend

I had my last kiln fire before Christmas – so I’ve added several more items to my Jadeflower Shop on Etsy. That always feels good 🙂

I’ve been really enjoying the book My Life in France – by Julia Child. It basically an autobiography of her years living abroad with her husband and developing her passion for French food and cooking.

My Life In France by Julia Child

My Life In France by Julia Child

Prior to this I really knew nothing about Julia Child (and I haven’t seen the Julie & Julia movie yet either) but I think since the movie release there has been a renewed public interest in her, and I heard that My Life in France was a book worth reading. And how true!

Being interested in food and cooking myself, it is fascinating to read about Julia’s own journey into cookery. It is also a very real-life account of the time period. Plus, she is hilarious! Her writing style is very engaging, and the amounts of detail she includes from travel excursions and meals she shared in the 1950s is amazing. It is definitely a recommended read.

Homemade Biscotti

On Saturday I made homemade biscotti (recipe from Smitten Kitten). It’s something I’ve wanted to try my hand at for a few years. Turned out quite yummy! And delicious with a hot cup of tea.

not hot tea, but hot wax!

Sunday’s trip to my favorite craft/flea market did not produce the last (and specific) Christmas present I’ve been searching for. But stopping by a thrift store later rewarded me with two darling porcelain tea cups which I then transformed into candles. (Love this tutorial from Martha Stewart)

teacup candle

teacup candle

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Custom Picture Frames

You can pick up picture frames at your local thrift store for a fraction of what they cost new, and therefore can be a major budget saver – either for your home decor or…as wedding decor. But finding coordinating frames as-is is not so easy. The solution? A couple quick coats of inexpensive paint in whatever color you desire!

Using color to tie together mis-matched items is really very simple. (Check out this post on Style Me Pretty – a mish-mash of items look seamlessly matched when they share a common color!) The paint department at any home-improvement store is a great place to search for just the right shade. Once you have your pot of paint, anything is fair game!

In my experience, after collecting various thrift store frames, the prep-work to paint is minimal – just make sure the frame is clean; or if the frame is very glossy, lightly sand it down with fine-grit sandpaper, and then make sure all the dust is wiped away.

It’s easiest to paint the frames with the glass and backing removed. If you can’t remove the glass, use masking tape to line the edges so you avoid getting paint on the glass.

Then, paint away! I found that I needed a few coats of paint for good coverage. Make sure you wait for the paint to dry between coats.

If you want to make your picture frame into a blackboard, this is also very simple!


You can get blackboard paint at most fabric/craft stores. You can paint directly onto the glass, or any other surface (cardboard, wood, etc). I recommend several coats with a really fine-bristle paintbrush; let each coat dry thoroughly, and sand lightly with a really fine-grit paper. This will ensure your chalkboard surface is smooth (a rough surface isn’t as nice when you’re writing on it).

It feels good to update old items to make them new! And for me, after they’ve done their job displaying info at my wedding, I’ll probably be painting them again to put in my home! Gotta love recycling and re-recycling. 🙂

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White Christmas

Up until this week, when it clouded over and started raining, we almost thought we’d see some snow. Alas (and probably for the best) it never came to that. BUT I’m still getting into the Christmas spirit, and tonight M & I are going out for the night to see White Christmas. I’ve seen the classic movie, and I just know that seeing a stage production, with singing and dancing, will be just as (if not more) enjoyable!

It’s kinda cheesy, and I know M’s not a huge fan of musicals, but I think it will be a fun way to spend an evening – downtown with all the lights up on the trees, a fancy theater, awesome seats, and good ol’ time Christmas fun.

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Fun with Felt – Gift Bows!

One of my favorite daily indulgences is checking out the hugely inspirational blog at Twig & Thistle. There are just too many creative things that pop up there all the time, and I love it.

This week they are doing a really fun daily feature on felt crafts and Monday’s was such a perfect example of an idea so simple and inspired, it’s sheer genius.

With Christmas just around the corner, I know I will be scrambling to get all my gifts wrapped and adorned with care. I believe it’s the extra step with the wrapping that makes the recipient know how special they are! With the tutorial from T&T, you can make beautiful packaging bows that not only adorn the gift, but could be used over and over again, or even used as festive jewelry!

So thanks Twig & Thistle, for this inspired innovation! I’ll be pulling out my felt scraps for a few of these, to be sure! 🙂

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Creative card box

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a crafty kind of person; I like doing things myself. I also enjoy doing deviating from the norm or what is expected.

When my mother told me it would be wise to have a card box for wedding, I originally crinkled my nose in distaste. Those things are so gaudy (in my opinion) – I’m talking the silk-covered bejeweled boxes, or the fake 3-tiered cake with a card slit in it.

Not my style. I also don’t like the idea of expecting cards at all.

But my mom prevailed, with the logic that most likely there will be cards given, and they must be put somewhere. But if I was going to have a card box, I was going to make it myself, and it wouldn’t be the conventional kind.

At Goodwill, I found a fabulous vintage Samsonite train case that I just knew I had to do something with. This is what evolved…

vintage case with handpainted hydrangeas

To incorporate some of our wedding elements, I painted in black acrylic paint the silhouette of hydrangea flowers on the front. I used a spray-on sealer when the design had dried for durability.

Then, I knew I wanted to use this tutorial from 100 Layer Cake – making a ruffly belt – for something.

ruffles!

The ruffles came from the excess fabric from my mother’s wedding dress , and I love it.

C A R D S

And to make it simple enough, a hung garland indicating “cards” tells you what to do. Again I’m using one of my favorite new fonts Ecuyer Dax, punched out with my handy 2″ circle punch and strung with ribbon.

my unique card box

So the final presentation may be with the ruffly belt at the top or around the middle in the front; I haven’t decided yet. But either way, I think that this card box is unique, with vintage charm and a little bit of whimsy. Which is really just what I’m hoping for with this wedding. 🙂

Plus, double bonus! I’ll totally be able to use the train case AND the ruffly belt after the big day. Vintage, whimsical, handmade, and reusable – in a word, perfect.

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Comfort food and decorating

Last week was filled with seeing friends, making good food, doing holiday stuff. Ahh, so fun.

Here are a few highlights…

Thursday night I made butternut squash ravioli (from scratch) with a mushroom walnut cream sauce that was sooooo yummy. But I made far too much of the squash filling, so I had leftovers, but it was too good to just throw out, so on Saturday, I used the rest of the filling to make a delish lasagna.

Layering homemade spaghetti sauce, butternut squash filling, parmesan & mozzarella cheeses, and Trader Joe’s “no bake” lasagna noodles, I cranked that thing out in no time! It’s amazing how easy things are when you have all the components on hand and ready to go.

Saturday was also the day M & I finally did our Christmas decorating. I for one, don’t like decorating for Christmas too early, and I’m glad M feels the same way. (As a child, my parents never bought the Christmas tree until mere days before the 25th. When you’re a kid, that is so lame! But now, as an adult, I can’t start Christmas too early. I just can’t!)

This year, we figured 12 days before Christmas was a good time – not too soon, but early enough so we would have time to enjoy the festive atmosphere. I finally got to break out the John Denver & The Muppets record that I found in perfect condition at Goodwill back in November! And of course, eggnog was had.

We decked the fireplace with faux evergreen garland, sparkling pears & apples, and silvery pinecones.

Our Norfolk pine tree (a year-round houseplant I bought a few years back) serves as our Christmas tree. He looks darling covered in white crystal beads, icy blue led lights, silver mini ornaments, and tinsel made of tiny silver coils.

The next couple weeks are going to be crazy with all the festivities that seem to pop up this time of year (I’m sure many are in the same boat). But at least with decorating accomplished, we’re ready for a little bit of Christmas crazy. 🙂

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Filed under Day to Day, Holidays, Recipes