Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best Of 2014

Well, it's been another year on the blog.  I'm so grateful to all my readers.  This blog is such a good outlet and motivation for me to stay creative, and it just blows me away to read your comments and to see my recipes or DIYs on Pinterest.  So, I've decided to round up the most viewed DIYs and recipes of the year for you!
Mother's Day Cards
Faceted Earrings
Clay Bunny
Matchbox Valentines
Kotur-Inspired Clutch
Ann's Delicious Cookies
Granny's Cornbread
Mason Jar French Dressing
Baked Turkey Meatballs
Oatmeal Cookies
What were your highlights this year?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

One year ago, I got a ukelele for Christmas.  One of my New Year's Resolutions was to learn to play it, and while I wasn't as faithful to practicing as I could or should have been, I did manage to learn a few songs.  So... here is my first video post!  (Sorry for the audio quality...)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Teacher Gift

Christmas is but a few precious days away, and I'm so excited!  Strangely, there is no snow... and this is a place where we have had snow at both Halloween and Easter!  I'm still holding out hope for a white Christmas, but even if there isn't snow, there will be family and friends and lots of love this Christmas.

If you're looking for a way to show your favorite teacher (or even a student) some love this holiday season, I've got a gift to share with you :)  I gave this to each of the teachers in my English department.  As a new teacher, I LOVE fun pens, and so I thought it would be great to get some for my colleagues.  I threw in some highlighters and chocolate as well, along with a tag that reads "May your holidays be merry and bright!" using metallic sharpies and highlighters.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope you come back on Christmas for a very special post- my first ever video!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

DIY Santa Ornament

I'm still working away at some final few gifts, and I've got another ornament for you to try.  I don't know why, but this little guy makes me think of a Muppet Santa...  Is it just me?

You will need:

  • 2 paintbrushes: one flat and one pointed
  • White porcelain ornament
  • Martha Stewart multi-surface paint in:
    • Some skin tone color (I used a mix of Gold Mother of Pearl and Brushed Bronze)
    • Holly Berry (pearl finish)
    • Putting Green (pearl finish)
    • Sterling (metallic finish)
    • Beetle Black (satin finish)
  • Martha Stewart glass paint in Garnet glitter finish

First, paint on a red semicircle near the top of the ornament.  This will be Santa's hat.

Next, leaving a small gap below the hat, paint on Santa's face in a football shape.

Then, take your pointed brush and outline a silver beard starting at the face and making a curved base below.  To make Santa's mustache, just paint a wide "W"  If you'd like, add in a few straight lines at the bottom of the beard to add a little texture.

Next, take your silver and trace the space between Santa's face and his hat; this will be the fur trim on his hat!

If you need to, add a second coat of any of your colors until the white doesn't show through.

Finally, add the finishing details: two little black dots for his eyes, a red semi circle for his nose, and dots of red glitter and green to make a sprig of holly on his hat.

If you want, add a little silver circle to be a pom at the end of his hat.

I think he's pretty cute!

So, are you done with your Christmas shopping?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DIY Reindeer Ornament

I've been a busy little elf lately!  I love getting my Christmas gifts ready to go, wrapped and under the tree well before Christmas so that I can enjoy them longer.  This year, however, having a full time job has made things run a little slower in Santa's workshop (aka, my craft room).  So, I'm still churning out ornaments and other handmade holiday goodies!  This little guy is particularly cute :)

You will need:
  • White porcelain ornament
  • A small, flat paintbrush
  • Martha Stewart multi-surface paint in:
    • Beetle Black (Satin finish)
    • Chestnut (Satin finish)
    • Brushed Bronze (Metallic finish)
    • Holly Berry (Pearl finish) 
  • Clear spray coating (optional)

First, paint a brown oval on the ornament, letting it get wider at the base of the ornament, almost like a squat peanut.

Then, add in two little football shapes for the ears.

Next, take the brushed bronze and make two gently curving lines from the top of the reindeer's head toward the back of the ornament.  These will make the antlers.

Take your red paint and add a little cap on top of your reindeer's head and a scarf under his chin.  The cap can be as simple as a little semi-circle.  The scarf is as easy as one line around the chin and two wavy lines away from the chin.

Let this dry, then add a second coat until the white doesn't peak through.

Finally, add in a nose, ear marks, and two eyes with your black paint.  Make the nose an oval that is set near the chin.  The eyes should be two short, vertical lines.

And you're done!  If you want, finish this off with a clear coating to protect the paint.

Totally doable!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fruitcake: Round Two!

So, my first foray into fruitcake was actually pretty successful!  I made a "Poor Man's Fruitcake," and it was pretty tasty!  I had heard horror stories of how terrible fruitcake is, so I had braced myself for the worst only to be pleasantly surprised.

This next recipe is decidedly more fruitcake-y.  It is pretty heavy, loaded with fruit and nuts, and has a dash of alcohol (which you can substitute fruit juice for instead).  If you are not typically a fan of fruitcake, I would say steer clear of this one and try Vi's Poor Man's Fruitcake instead.  If, on the other hand, you love fruitcake (like my dad and brother do), this is sure to please!

You will need:

  • 2 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 cups dates (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup citron
  • 1 lb. fruitcake mix
  • 1 package of currants (I skipped this)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Brazil nuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon wine or fruit juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted (or 2 3/4 cups cake flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves

Phew!  That's a long list!  Okay, so the first step is to plump the raisins.  Rinse them in warm water and then cover and heat them in a slow oven until the wrinkles come out.  I wasn't patient enough...

Next, cream the shortening.  Then, add the sugar gradually to cream it as well.

Blend in the well beaten eggs.

Sift your flour, measure, then sift together with the baking powder, salt, and spices.  Mix 1 cup of the flour mixture with the fruits and nuts.

Add the remaining flour mixture to the creamed mixture gradually, alternating with the milk and oil.  Beat until just smooth.

Blend in the wine (or fruit juice) and vanilla.

Stir in the fruits and nuts.

Pour into 2 loaf pans, greased and lined with 2 pieces of parchment paper.  Cut away excess paper.

Bake for 2 hours at 275 degrees.

(a note on bake time- my fruitcake took significantly longer, so beware!  Have a cake tester handy to check for doneness)

Enjoy!  And try to keep yourself from picking out your favorite bits...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DIY Beaded Ornament

I absolutely love the look of these ornaments, and they honestly couldn't be easier to make!  It may take a lot of time, but it takes VERY little effort.

You will need:

  • Small glass ornaments (the small size is important because they get too heavy otherwise)
  • Glass beads- color of your choice
  • E6000 Glue
  • Paintbrush, pencil, something long and narrow
  • Ribbon
  • Tiny jingle bell

Simply squeeze a small amount of E6000 glue into the ornament, covering about one quarter of the ornament.  Shake it gently for just a few seconds to help it become slightly tacky and to help distribute it a bit more.

Then, pour some beads into the ornament, turning and gently shaking to help them find the glue.  You will probably also need to use a pencil or the end of a paintbrush to help spread the beads out by pressing gently on them to even out any clumps of beads.
Yep, that's a Lisa Frank pencil

Let this dry for at least a couple hours.  Then, repeat the process until the ornament is completely filled with beads.

Gently place the top back on the ornament, and string on a jingle bell with some ribbon.

So simple, and totally doable!  Are you making any Christmas crafts this year?

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