Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Christmas Eve Tradition

This is the cover of Our Christmas Tradition Book.
      Every Christmas Eve we gather as a family and read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2. We discuss the miracle of Jesus Christ and his gift to us and all the world, and we remember our blessings and our responsibility to follow his great example and truly be Christians. This year I finally got down to work and made an altered book for Christmas. A couple of years ago Somerset Holidays & Celebrations had an article by Mary Benson showing her altered book about the Christmas story. My book was inspired by hers. It is not exactly the same, but I have used some of her ideas. Her book used the story from a sweet children's book titled "This Is The Stable" by Cynthia Cotten and illustrated by Delana Bettoli. I have combined the verses from Luke and the storybook, as well as favorite Christmas songs and poems in my book. The papers are a combination of stock scrapbook paper, pages from the storybook, and a digital collection from Scrap Girls called Holy Night Collection,
    Since this was my first venture into creating an altered book, it definitely has flaws. I have learned a lot about what not to do, and hopefully the next time I feel the ambition to create another book like this, I will do it much better. Since I lean towards jewel tones and sparklies when it comes to Christmas, I tried to embellish each page with glitter, jewels, beads, and golden trims. Here are the inside pages, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do:
First page. Tag slides into slit on right.

Tag is stable scene.

Stable scene is framed and inset in Bethlehem.

Manger close-up is inside folder.
Stable close-up.

Inside the stable.

Open the stall gates to see the animals.
Mary and Joseph welcome the baby Jesus!

Close-ups of Mary and Joseph inside.

Shepherds watching their flocks.

Tag slips out with Luke 2:8-12 on it.

Three layers of angels stacked, glittered, and flocked.

These are the wise men...

Library pockets with gold embossed flourishes.

Verses about the baby born that night.

The Magi and their gifts.

Slider tags with verses pull out of the tops.

Corner pockets with verses on tags.
Close-up of tag fronts.

Close-up of tag backs.

Inside back cover with tags stuffed in pockets.

Tags with songs and poems.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Family Forever

     I love this sentiment. I've seen these done on boards with vinyl lettering, but I wanted something different, so I opted for an artist's canvas, instead. The canvas is 12" x 24" and came ready to paint (it's not a board, it's a canvas stretched over a frame).  I painted the undercoat several different colors: barn red, forest green, yellow ochre, and metallic gold. Once it was dry, I applied a thick layer of crackle medium and allowed it to dry again. Then, I painted the top coat with antique white which crackled and allows the colors to show from underneath! After it was thoroughly dry, I brushed a layer of Mod Podge (Matte Finish) on top to seal it.
     The lettering I designed on my PC and printed out (on several sheets of paper) in a reversed image. Painted with a couple of layers of Mod Podge, the image can be transferred to a surface. I applied a thin layer of Mod Podge to the canvas, then placed the lettering, paper side up, on top, centering it the way I wanted it. After it dried, I sprayed the paper backing with water and rubbed it off. This is a bit time consuming, and works better on a lightweight paper, rather than your best quality printer paper. Once the paper backing is gone, another layer of Mod Podge seals it all. The dimensional letters and words I printed on colored scrapbook paper and wrapped around pieces of fiberboard. I sealed these with Mod Podge, too and then used E-6000 to attach them to the canvas when they were dry.
      For the "frame" I covered a piece of thin foam core about 1 1/2" bigger all around than the canvas with fabric layered over batting to give it some dimension. I think it would look great covered with patterned paper, too. A small hole punched in the center top of the back allows it to be hung on a small nail. Easy peasy...though not fast.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rudolph Cake Pops

      I decided to try my hand at making reindeer cake pops this year. They turned out to be fun and not too
time consuming. I love the wide eyes. Slipped into a pop bag and tied with a red bow, they were a big hit 
with my class of 6 year olds, as well as my teens and their friends. On top of being cute, they taste great! It doesn't get much better that that!
     Let's see who's left out of the reindeer games this year...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

After (Thanksgiving) Dinner Mints

  These cute little boxes can double as a place card and an after dinner mint holder for your Thanksgiving dinner table settings. I used a label template and the simple phrase "Give Thanks," but you can either replace the message with the names of your guests or add another tag for the name. Each box holds four Ghirardelli chocolates. The basic instructions have been provided by Beate Johns here:
   A fun dinner activity will be to go around the table and have each person share something for which he/she is grateful, one for each Thanksgiving mint. This helps us remember why we are having this big dinner and also keeps the dinner conversation centered on positive thoughts.
   This time of year we are encouraged to think about all we have and remember to give thanks, but what about the rest of the year? When I take the time to list the many blessings I have, big and small, it is truly overwhelming. My goal is to nurture an attitude of gratitude that carries through the whole year. Even in the face of adversity there is something good to be appreciated.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gift Tubes

Basic instructions for gift tube construction are now on my tutorials page.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Halloween

     One of the things I like about vintage cards is that they're fun and cheerful, especially Halloween cards. None of our current culture's morbid gore and guts themes. I couldn't resist making another easel card with this cutie. I glittered and flocked the pumpkin outfit and added gold leaf accents on the hat band and candle posts. Here's a picture of it open:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Autumn is a Second Spring...

What to do with the cardboard spools leftover when all the ribbon has been used up? Make a gift tube! Separate one side of the spool from each of two same-sized ribbon spools and cover the other side with decorative paper or card stock. Cut a sheet of acetate wide enough to wrap around the tube portion of the spools and as tall as you want your box. Super sticky double sided tape applied to the bottom spool and the back seam of the acetate tube will hold it all together. The tube on the lid slips down inside the acetate tube.  A strip of decorative paper or ribbon (or both) around the bottom and top of the acetate tube will hide the cardboard inside and make it more beautiful. Fill with a bag of colorful and savory soup mix for those cold winter evenings that are coming and tie a tag with a suitable message and instructions for making the soup with ribbon wrapped around the top. Unique and fun.

Materials: Tim Coffey Fall by K&Company paper embellished with Ranger Clear Holographic embossing powder. Tag was made with the Spellbinders Labels Four Die. Everything else is from my personal supplies of miscellaneous leftovers... Message was printed on the tag using my home computer using CK Calligraphy font.

Extra views:
Top of box.

Inside tag.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cool Nights Mean Warm Dinners

This must be family favorites week for us. It was sooo hot for so long this summer, that now we're taking advantage of the cool weather with hot meals. Tonight, we enjoyed French cuisine in the form of Beef Burgundy and French Bread (homemade, of course). Not being consumers of alcoholic beverages, I substitute white grape juice or apple juice for the wine. I like the white grape juice best, so that's what I use most of the time. You can also use it in fondue to replace the wine, it works great! Here are the recipes:

Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)--aka "Mushroom Meat" at our house!

¼ lb. salt pork                           2 lb. lean beef cut into 2” cubes
1 ½ t. salt                                  coarse ground pepper
2 T. flour                                   1 ½ c. apple cider or white grape juice
1 clove garlic, crushed               1 lb. pearl onions, peeled
1 lb. mushrooms                        1 Tablespoon parsley                                  
3-4 large carrots                       1 bay leaf
½ t. thyme

Place all the ingredients in a large slow cooker. Cook on high for about 6 hours or low for about 8. Skim off fat and remove bay leaf. Sprinkle with additional parsley, if desired.

I use frozen pearl onions when I'm short of preparation time. I also substitute bacon for the salt pork.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Serve with French bread and a green salad.

French Bread--aka "Symphony of Crackle" (from Ratatouille)

6 cups flour                                   1 Tablespoon cornmeal
1 Tablespoon yeast                        1 egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons salt                       1 Tablespoon water
2 cups warm water

   If you prefer to use a bread machine, follow the manufacturers directions to prepare the dough. 
   In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using dough hooks in a stand mixer. Stir in as much of remaining flour as possible.
   On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make stiff dough. Knead for about 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. 
   Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll each half into a large rectangle; roll up from long edge. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
   Lightly grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat egg white and water and brush on. Cover with a cloth and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
   Preheat oven to 375 degree F. With a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes across the tops of the loaves. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until bread is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped.
   Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumn Leaves and Apple Pie

This was a quick to put together gift box. I'm thinking apple turnovers as little gifts. Make a batch, slip a few into this easy boxes, hand out to your friends. The box pattern is a basic pillow box, about 4.5" x 6", and the image is a freebie from The Vintage Workshop, Just cut out, score, fold, and stick together. I trimmed the outer edges of the image, so I could use only the leaves and message. Then I used gold embossing powder to enhance the lettering and UTEE mixed with a little cinnamon (yes cinnamon) to deepen the color on the darker background leaves and add depth. I cut a long strip of parchment colored cardstock with the EK Success leaf border, did a little shading with Copics, then glittered with Martha Stewart Sunstone, Green Agate, and Peridot ultra fine glitter. I wrapped that around one end of the box and layered the image on top. Fold in the ends. How easy was that?!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Muffin, Anyone?

    Around our house, nothing says autumn better than pumpkin treats. Our favorite muffins, pie, bread, even waffles and pancakes are made with pumpkin and traditional pumpkin pie spices. Sometimes, there's even one or two left over to share! 
     This variation of the box-in-a-bag pattern provides a great gift package to share one jumbo muffin with a special friend. The box is cut with an acetate covered window so the recipient can admire the beauty of muffin perfection and wistfully anticipate the fragrant yumminess until the moment finally arrives when it can be opened and savored. Mmmm. I also slip the muffin into a separate plastic bag before placing it in the gift bag/box, but it isn't necessary. I just like to regift my bags and boxes sometimes, so the inside bag will keep any moisture or oils from ruining the package. It measures 4" square on the bottom and 6" tall; just right for one jumbo muffin. 
     Instructions for a basic Box in a Bag can be found here:

Materials: K&Company Tim Coffey Fall paper, Bazzil Basics parchment colored paper, clear acetate, Spellbinders Labels 4 for the window and closure tab. Ribbon and ink from my stash.

Here's the recipe!

Pumpkin Spice Jumbo Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Put liners in a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan.
Whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.
Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about 3/4 full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.
Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes; then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

***Sometimes it's fun to add about 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips to the batter before filling the muffin cups.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Steampunk, Baby!

     Ooh, la, la! C'est chic! Here's a headband/fascinator to bring out the haute couture gene in any little girl! Three handmade flowers (they look like magnolia's to  me) are nestled on top of a lace veil and topped with a feather boa and a peacock feather. The silk ribbon has a vintage style jewelry finding attached to it for just a little bling and sophistication. Sized for about 18-24 months, although the headband is elastic lace, so it's flexible. Beautimous! Too bad my little girls are not so little any more...

This is my own interpretation of the Lyla Rose Vintage Luxe pattern by SnazzieDrawers (Joy Stallard).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thinking Ahead for the Holidays...

     I've always enjoyed having an Advent Calendar to mark the approach of Christmas. Some years we've had simple paper calendars with flaps that open, some years we've had the German ones with little foil-wrapped chocolates inside, and some years it's just been a simple paper chain that one of the kids has made. Now that my children are older, I wanted something more personal that I made especially for our family and that we could use year after year.
      This is a basic tree constructed from dowels and wood findings that I have painted and mounted in a 6" terracotta flowerpot ( I decoupaged the flowerpot).  For each day beginning December first and leading up to Christmas, I aged and decorated a shipping tag. One side has the number of the date and the other has a vintage holiday layout. I made two sets, one has the numbers cut from decorative papers and vintage cards (as shown above). On the other set, I used my printer to print the numbers using the Steamer font. Some of those are shown in the other photos. Each one has a satin ribbon tied to the top of the numbered side.
     Beginning on the first day of December, one tag is flipped around to display the pictures. The whole tree is close to four feet tall, so it looks great on a table top and can even be used instead of a pine tree. For those of you who don't like the hassle of pulling the ornaments out and putting them away again, or those who may be allergic to real and artificial trees, this might be the solution to your holiday dreads!
      Pattern and kits are for sale at my etsy shop.

Close-up of decorated tags.
Close-up of printed numbers. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Halloween Greetings

     Here's my first attempt at an easel card. It was not difficult at all, and what a great way to pressure your friends to display the cards you give them! I made the base card from black card stock, framed the vintage card graphic with a pumpkin colored card stock, and also used it to cut a tag and a piece of paper lace for the inside. The sentiment is another (smaller) tag of parchment card stock that I ran through my printer. 
     The vintage card has flocking on the mask and the balls on the cap, and clear heat embossing on the colored lettering, with clear holographic embossing powder on the Jack-O-Lantern. I distressed the outside edges and mounted it on the front of the black card base. The charm in the upper left is made from inexpensive metal coin charms which I strung together with jump rings. I had to punch extra holes in the bottom of the large coin, but sometimes you can find them with holes punched in the bottom already. I inked up a swirl of white pearls to give them an antique look and applied them to the bottom corner.
     Inside, the sentiment is mounted on the pumpkin tag and adhered to the bottom center of the card. The paper lace is applied about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the inside panel. I then punched 1" flower shapes from parchment card stock and an orange and rust card stock (three of each). I stamped a witch on one parchment flower and lizards on the other two. After distressing the edges, I mounted them on top of the colored flowers and curled the petals up slightly.Finally, I used pop dots to attach them to the paper lace. This adds dimension and provides stops to keep the card propped up. 

 Supplies: Bazzil Basics card stock, Ranger Embossing powders, Martha Stewart Flocking Powder, Recollections (by Michael's) Adhesive Faux Pearls. Paper lace and tags were cut using Spellbinders Classic Lace Grand Die and Large Labels. Other supplies were leftovers from other projects.
Card front when closed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Halloween Gift/Trick-or-Treat Tote

     This is my "up-cycled" gift tote. The base is a drink carrier from a fast food restaurant. It's about 8" square, 10" high, and 4" deep on the sides. I like the basic cardboard color, but I did apply some patterned paper to the center support and handle area to liven it up a bit. I also reinforced the tucked in flaps on the sides by wrapping packing tape around the outside of the tote. If you're going to use the tote as a gift box, you should cut a square of cardboard to set in the bottom as a reinforcement, too, especially if the contents are heavy. A strip of bright corrugated paper (or you could use crepe paper) that I topped with a spider-web looking ribbon from Really Reasonable Ribbon is all the bottom needs. The accordion-fold medallion is about 6" in diameter; it's topped with a piece of Halloween card stock layered with a vintage cutout that has been glittered, flocked, and heat embossed.  A couple of distressed tags with Halloween messages and a bow of sheer black ribbon finish it off.
     I fill these with an assortment of treats from my kitchen--soup mix, bread mix or crackers, muffins, hot chocolate or sparkling cider, etc. One fun gift is to bake plain sugar cookies and tuck a package of them in the tote, along with colored frosting and sprinkles or other decorations for a do-it-yourself cookie decorating kit. Later, the tote can be used for trick-or-treating; there's more room in there than it appears.
Side view 1.
Side view 2.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Heart With Wings

I have been on a bit of a tag kick recently (that is, when I'm not making albums). They are like micro art collages for me. I get to try out new techniques and use new supplies without having to make a big project, or more specifically, without wasting my new supplies on a large practice project! Here, I cut out a card stock heart and stamped my sentiment. I attached grungeboard wings and a crown (from Tim Holtz) that I heat embossed with silver glitter powder. I mounted them on a handmade card stock tag with a bit of paper lace cut from music note scrapbook paper with a Spellbinders Classic Lace Grand die. Antiquing around the edges of the tag and heart adds a little interest and depth. I finished it off with leaves punched from dark green paper and handmade flowers from patterned scrapbook paper scraps. The final touches are a chain from a vintage necklace made from silver links and pearls to which I added a crystal drop, and a tea-dyed gauze "ribbon."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dyed Bat Droppings Halloween Treats

Now this is a fun Halloween party treat. I cut, stamped, and aged my mini bag toppers, then filled the bags with candy and attached the topper! I filled my bags with Hershey's Kisses, but for children, I would use brightly colored candies like gumballs, jelly beans, M & M's, Reese's Pieces, or Skittles.

Here's a closeup of the topper:

These are available for sale in my etsy shop.

Package of 10 Toppers with empty bags.