Craftyliciousness Galore…

I’m joining a really neat bloggy carnival going on over at A Soft Place To Land, called Do It Yourself Day.

 

 

DIY Day @ ASPTL

 

Originally the founder, one very talented lady named Kimba, had thought this carnival would be a fun way to pass the summer weeks, but it has grown so popular and wonderful that (luckily for me since I just now found it) she has decided to keep it going indefinitely!

 

I’m seriously hoping that, as school looms into view, having this little carnival to attend every week will inspire me to keep creating even in the midst of, you know, teachin’ and larnin’ and stuff. Cuz that stuff? Seriously shrivels up my creativity. I blame it on the math.

 

A while back I mentioned that I had crafted some Ugly Dolls with my kiddos, and I wanted to finally show them off. Ugly Dolls, if you don’t know, are a series of soft stuffed toys created with exactly two pieces of fabric and some bits of embroidery floss. And subsequently sold for 20 smackaroos. To which I can only say:

 

Outrageous!

 

 

However, many of my children were instantly smitten with the little exorbitantly-priced uglies (which are actually pretty cute) and would periodically pine for them in a most pathetic way, knowing that I would never shell out the bucks for something that, as I repeatedly told them, I could make myself!

 

 

So one day, I decided I would. I would show them! I purchased a few yards of flannel from Wal Mart in several shades and each child with an Ugly Doll Longing showed me a picture of what they wanted theirs to look like. Then I freehanded the shape on a double layer of material and cut the sucker out.

 

The thing about making an ugly doll is that, well…it’s ugly. It’s not supposed to be perfect! So that’s why I felt comfortable with the whole freehanding thing.

 

 

 

 

Then we added some bits of felt in the proper places to make eyes and teeth, and we embroidered mouths and such. The eyes and teeth were ironed on with that iron-on stuff the name of which escapes me at the moment. Sorry.

 

I sewed them up with the sewing machine, and set the kids a-stuffin. Sticks and spoons come in handy for the narrow bits.

 

 

 

 

Sew ’em shut, and there ya go. Ugly Dolls. At about $3 (THREE! DOLLARS!) apiece.

 

 

The only caution I would give in trying it yourself is not to stuff them too tightly. We got a little carried away on one or two and the fabric simply couldn’t handle the pressure. An emergency operation was performed, a sort of ugly-doll brand of liposuction, and all seems well now.

 

The little green triangular guy was invented by my 11 year old son, but the other dudes are copied from the originals…I believe it’s an Uglydog, Wedgehead, an Uglycat, and Target, from left to right. Some creative license taken, of course. Uglydog even has his own name tag.

 

 

So happy togetherrrrrrr!

 

 

Don’t forget to pop over to Kimba’s place at A Soft Place to Land for far, far more DIY ideas than will get your eyes a-glazin’ and your creative juices a-flowin’!

 

This post has also joined up with Skip To My Lou and her sewing carnival; to see more lovely gift ideas, pop over to Skip to my Lou!

Look! Just Look!

My, oh my. My, my, my, my, my. Oh my.

 

Lookie at what I made. Just look.

 

I took these. Plain. Blah. Boring. Brown. Paper. El-Cheapo at Hobby Lobby.

 

 

I added paper, glue, glitter, greenstuff, and paint.

 

 

And I turned them into this:

 

 

Squeal!

Are they not spectacular? Do they not beam shafts of shining light into your very soul? Do you not just want to hug yourself with pleasure?

 

(click on the photo to look at the full-size version, if you want to. And you know you do)

 

 

Excuse me. I’m just the teensiest bit pleased with how they turned out.

 

 

This was the first one. I was still figuring out what I wanted to do, but it is still pretty cute, I think.

 

 

 

Then I made this one. I was in the groove with this one, man…I was feelin’ the love.

 

 

I…I…I just don’t know if I can handle the cuteness. It’s so very cute. I seriously wish I was only 1 inch tall so I could live here.

 

 

But this one…this was the piece de resistance.

 

 

My little beachy bungalow, all decked out for the holidays. *sigh*

 

 

Please notice the roofline…

 

 

And the wee little shell windowboxes

 

 

And the terribly punny salutation over the door…

 

 

This has been your daily dose of insane cuteness.

 

 

You’re welcome.

We Now Interrupt These Birth Stories To Bring You Some Crumpets

A while back I promised to try my hand at making the delightful foodstuffs known as crumpets, whereupon I then embarked on finding the knowledge necessary in performing such an operation and immediately became crippled by fatigue at the very thought.

 

Apparently, some people think they are difficult to make. In fact, according to one source at the turn of the century (the last century, not the one we are currently residing in) “No one makes crumpets at home anymore. They are simply too much work.” 

 

Too much work? In an era when people still wrung their laundry through presses and darned their stockings? This did not bode well, to my mind.

Nevertheless, I had promised! And I always keep my promises.

 

Well, I try anyway. It’s probably more like 90%. Maybe 85% on a really bad day.

 

So I soldiered on, examining recipes to see just what was so all-fired difficult about it. In the end, I decided that it didn’t sound THAT hard…I mean, it involves yeast, which many people have an irrational fear of, but Hey! We Are All Adults Here And We Can Do This.

 

I also found this bit of trivia: “Crumpets were first recorded in the late 17th century. Their original name was crompid cake, meaning a griddle baked cake which was thin and thus curled up at the edges during the cooking process. It is likely that the first crumpets were made with buckwheat flour.”

 

Whatever. Let’s get on with it.

 

Firstly, you assemble the necessary ingredients:

 

 

 

They don’t look very imposing, do they? That’s because they aren’t! At all! They’re nice, peaceful ingredients. They’re here to help. They are our friends.

 

Look at me, lining them all up like that! Who do I think I am, the Pioneer Woman? The Pioneer Woman gets like 25,000 hits on her site per day. I am definitely not her.

 

Anyway, you can see that some of my ingredients are organic in nature. I am not trying to be uppity. We just recently decided to go a little more au naturale around here, and so that’s what I have. Don’t worry, you can use the poisonous regular versions, too. I’m sure you’ll live happy and full lives, even so.

 

You can also see a coffee maker in the background. You don’t need that for this recipe. I have limited counter space for fancy lining-up-of-the-ingredients shots. I also had a helper:

 

 

 

 

 

 

He thinks he’s cute. I don’t know where he got such an idea.

 

Moving on, let me say a few things about yeast. Do not fear it. It’s really a swell little organism. Forget all the scary stuff you’ve read about killing it with water too hot or not awakening it with water too cold. Just turn the tap on and stick your finger in it until your brain says “Hot!” and use that. Dissolve the packet of yeasty buggars in 1/4 c hot water and a Tablespoon of sugar.

 

 

 

Let it rest there for about five minutes while the yeast wakes up and discovers that it has gone to sugary heaven. Go to the bathroom, perhaps. Wash your hands. Then melt some butter in your microwave and add a Tablespoon to the mix. Microwave 1/3 cup of milk for about 30 seconds and add that, along with the egg. My egg was brown, but you can use white. They all look the same on the inside.

 

 

 

Whup ’em up real good and then add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and beat it until it’s nice and smooth.

 

 

 

It’ll be pretty runny. Slap a towel over the top of it and set it somewhere warm to rise for about 45 minutes. “Somewhere warm” could be the top of the refrigerator or the closet of a small stuffy room. I prefer to preheat my oven a bit and just set the bowl on top of it. After 45 minutes the mixture should have gotten nice and puffy and be full of bubbles.

 

 

 

Now you need a skillet and some crumpet rings. However, if you don’t happen to have any crumpet rings lying about and you are Klassy with a capital K, you can use what I used:

 

 

 

 

Why yes, that *is* a buttload of bananas in the background. You wanna make something of it? Heat a skillet over low heat and butter it up, along with the crumpet rings (or “crumpet rings,” as the case may be). Pour about 3 Tablespoons of the batter into each ring and let them cook for about 5 minutes until you see little bubbles appearing on the top.

 

 

 

Remove the rings, flip the crumpets over, and cook them for about a minute more. Remove them from the skillet and repeat until you’re done (this recipe makes about 8). Then do a happy little jig and shriek VOILA! to the world because “voila” is French for “Holy merde! I just made crumpets!” Now get yourself some lemon curd and slather those babies. You know you want to.

 

 

 

The whole recipe can be found here, if you’re interested. I am gratified to report that this little diversion was not, in fact, prohibitively difficult. But then, I’ve also been re-living labor and delivery all week long, and compared to that, just about anything is a walk in the park.

In which I share a secret

Today as I sat down to make some more decorated letters, I had a revelation about creativity. Something of an epiphany, only without the angelic voices and clouds parting. The gist of it was that being creative all boiled down to one thing:

 

messing around

 

You may be one of those types of people who says “I’m not creative” but believe me when I say that all you have to do is equip yourself with a few creative-type items and then give yourself permission to simply…mess around.

In our society, it’s all about the end result. You must have a goal. A purpose. A mission statement. A plan. But being creative involves very little of that. It involves letting go of the idea that something must turn out a certain way or conform to someone else’s idiom. It involves being open to the idea that your end result may be very different from what you had initially planned.
It’s a beautiful thing.

However, giving yourself permission to mess around also generally means two more things:

 

1. It’s going to take some time, and
2. It’s going to be messy

 

So if you’re ready to deal with that, you’re ready to be creative, I don’t care how craft-impared you think you are. Okay? Okay! So let’s make some purdy decorated letters, shall we?

 

Firstly, the supplies. You need some letters (ha! didn’t see that one coming, didja?) I have been buying my letters at my local Hobby Lobby store, and right now they have the most adorable curly-q type letters on sale, no less. I don’t think these letters will be around forever, though, because they’re only on an endcap and, well, they’re on sale, which means they’re trying to get rid of them. So I’m enjoying them while I can. They’re about ten inches tall and have hanging holes in the back.

 

My Hobby Lobby store also sells other thinner, smaller wooden letters (about 6 or 8 inches) in a less-adorable font style that I will be forced to use when these curly-q letters do, indeed, go bye-bye. I’m coming to grips with that.

 

Basically, you can use any wooden letters that you can find, as long as they have a smooth, flat surface and are relatively easy to trace around. Here’s what mine looked like all naked and cold and barren and neglected and pale and unadorned:

 

 

Do they not veritably cry out for prettification? That’s what I thought too. They say “MINE” as in “BE MINE” because there’s that holiday of pink and red approaching and I love that holiday. I’m a sap that way.

 

I also bought these to adorn for a friend of mine who has two boys and a woeful lack of pink in her house:

 

 

They’re the thinner, smaller sort.

 

Then you need to get your hands on this stuff:

 

 

Mod Podge is a glue-like substance used for decoupage-type activities. “Decoupage” is a French word which means “paper craft that was beaten nearly to death in the ’60s and ’70s”

And then, if you are a glittery, girly girl, you might want some glitter glue:

 

 

I’m not really a girly-girl, but I do love glitter for some reason. Probably because it’s sparkly. My colors today are pink and white because even though I’m not really a girly-girl, I love pink and white. Probably because they’re pretty.

 

Oh! And you need scrapbook paper. In this area you are free to pick any pattern you like, depending on what your letters spell out and what theme you might be making them conform to. If you are spelling the word “KILL”, for example, you might like this paper. Since my letters are all about peace and love and possessing the hearts of all who know me, mine look like this:

 

 

I must emphasize that any paper is fine as long as it makes your heart go pitty-pat. Or flappity-floppity. Or bing-tiddle-tiddle-bong. Patterned paper frequently does that to me, because I do love it so. Or maybe I have an undiagnosed heart condition. Whatever.

 

So gather your supplies and get set to have some fun. Turn the paper over and lay the first letter face down upon it. Trace around the letter with something very sharp and long so as to get into the nooks and crannies of the shape…a mechanical pencil works well for this. When the lead breaks, refrain from cursing. Instead, whistle a happy tune and repeat “It’s all about the journey” 16 times in your head.

 

 

My hands are really veiny.

 

When you are done tracing, take a pair of sissors that are, ideally, small and very sharp (aka craft sissors) and cut the shape out.

 

 

Then take a paintbrush and paint the whole (right side this time) of the letter with mod-podge. Just a thin coat. But not too thin, because mod-podge dries insanely quickly. So take your time but hurry it up, if you get my drift.

 

 

Then you simply lay the cut-out paper upon the surface and smooth it out.

 

And here is where I share a grievous truth:

 

My paper rippled again. I don’t know why. When I made the SNOW letters, I did not have this problem. Yet I have done nothing differently and the subsequent times I have done this, I got ripples. I can offer no ideas as to how to avoid them, so my advice is to embrace them. Embrace the ripples. Remind yourself that along the journey of life we will all aquire a few ripples here and there.

 

Some of us more than others.

 

SO. When the letters are done drying, you get to decide just how fancy-schmancy you want to make them. I experimented with a few ideas. Here is one that did not make the cut:

 

 

I thought it looked a little strange…like a boot. Or an elephant nose with an elephant-nose-warmer wrapped around it. Anyway, it was weird, so I tried again.

 

Do you see the process here, folks? It’s okay to try an idea and then discard it! That’s called messing around. So then I messed around again and came up with this:

 

 

Which I liked a lot better.

 

Repeat this process with all of your letters, and use whatever you can find. Buttons, silk flowers, stickers, etc. Glue these pieces down with more mod-podge, and when you are done, paint the entire surface once again with mod-podge. You can paint the surface as many times as you want until it’s as lacquered as you like, but make sure each coat dries in between. When you’ve got as many coats as you want (my decision was, uh…one coat…because I’m patient that way), you can take your glitter glue and mess around with it. I like to use it to highlight special little patterns on the paper and also to trace around the entire edge of each letter.

 

 

And here are all of the letters together:

 

 

Some details:

 

 

 

And here are the letters I made for my pink-deficient friend:

 

 

Rawther adorable, if I must say so myself. And I must. Because when you craft, you must pat yourself on the back frequently and tell yourself that you are brilliant.

 

When I was done with the letters, I cleaned up my mess, laughed maniacally, and ran around the house fourteen times because I had been sitting still for four whole hours, concentrating hard, and my brain was on the brink of exploding.

 

This is a little-known risk you take when you craft. Just so you know. Also the fact that your house goes to pot because you are not paying any attention to the toddler coating her hands with lipstick right behind you.

 

Not that something like that ever happened to me. I’m just sayin’.

 

So there you have it. Now get busy messing around.

 

 

Giveaway

Welcome to my first-ever giveaway, brought to you via Rocks in My Dryer and her neverending supply of creative ideas! You can stop by her site and visit all the jillions of wonderful links that this brainchild has generated, and neglect your household all day long signing up to win, Win, WIN!! Because that’s what life is all about.

Winning.

 

Just kidding. Duh!

 

I had so many favorable comments about my SNOW letters back before Christmas that I thought I’d go with that idea and craftabulate some in a Valentine theme.

 

Yes, craftabulate is a new word. It’s sure to be sweeping the nation soon, but you heard it here first.

So! I fixed up these swell little letters that spell out “SISK”…no wait…I mean “IKSS”…hold on a minute…

 

 

Oh yeah, NOW I remember! They spell “KISS”. Yeah. Because that makes sense, with Valentine’s Day approaching and all. You know what’s funny? When I was typing “Kiss” just now, my fingers automatically typed out “Kill” first. What does that say about me?

 

Nevermind. I don’t want to know.

 

At any rate, you too can have these lovely little gems of mod-podge and craft paper, for the low low price of nothing at all leaving a comment! Just tell me how wonderful you think I am, and sometime between Feb. 1-3?I’ll pick a number via a top-secret system (iow not-yet-decided) and we’ll have ourselves a winner.

 

First, some details. These letters are wooden, about 10″ high each, and they have hanging holes in the back for displaying prominently anywhere in your home because they’re so stinkin’ cute. I will pay Priority Mail shipping for anyone in the continental U.S., and regular shipping should you live in Tibet or something.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I will be frank and say that the paper rippled a bit as I made these letters. Consequently, they look homemade and not store-bought. Shriek!

 

 

However, they are still cute. And some of them have little extras like buttons and silk flowers. To make up for the ripples.

 

Have a fabulous, giveaway-filled Monday! Don’t forget to visit all the other fine links at Rocks in My Dryer’s ’08 Bloggy Giveaway Carnival!

 

 

In which I ignore sciatic pain and roll out umpteen million gingerbread men

Key players:

 

Icing…



Children…


 

 

 

Candies…


 

More children…


Helpless victims…



Now, get to work! Work! Work work work!! C’mon you scurvy dogs, what do you think I bought you off the black market for, anyway? Avast!



Such hard, hard work, too…*sigh*…it’s tough to be a kid…


Caleb and Josiah contemplate their next step…



Emma is dainty…


Toby is…not…



Concentration is key…



Are those tweezers? Hard-core decorator, don’t get in her way…


Gabriel calls them “GingerMan Guys” which I think is a definite improvement on the traditional term…


My gingerman guy met with a tragic accident…


?

The End!

 

Wow. Just wow.

I want to thank everybody who came by my cyber-open-house, and especially those who took the time to leave such nice comments! I think my site meter broke, though. It’s been pushed to new heights, the likes of which I never thought existed except on some people’s excessively active and ridiculously entertaining blogs. I really loved the idea of the virtual house tour, and I visited and commented on (virtually) every. single. one. on BooMama’s list yesterday.

 

And then I keeled over, mouse clutched in my frozen claw of a hand.

 

 

But look! I got better, and have lived to blog another day.There were a few comments and questions that I wanted to answer, if anyone from yesterday comes back to check (anyone? anyone?). First, the Mary-who-is-heavy-with-child and Joseph-who-is-virile-and-manly. They came from a mystical land called Hahhl-Mahhrk” and are the artistic creation of a man called Jim Shore. You can find his work in other gift-shoppy-type places, but your best bet is the aforementioned land of wonders.

 

 

Secondly, the little snow men. Here are my exceptionally scientific and highly methodical directions for creating your own:

 

1. Find some baby socks. Preferably without holes (do baby socks ever get holes in them? I think, in my experience, they are the only socks that don’t sprout holes the size of Mt. Vesuvius within the first five minutes of wearing). I think I actually went out and bought some, fresh-picked, rather than pilfer from my baby’s sock drawer. It’s cool if you can find some in red and green (for hats), although baby socks tend to come only in shades of white. Check the toddler section for bigger snowmen.

 

2. Stuff one sock with stuffing. Not Stove-Top stuffing, but that white fluffy stuff that comes in bags. I think they call it…stuffing. Or maybe “poly-fil 100% polyester non-allergenic washable fiberfill”. Whatever. You could probably use dryer lint, or the hair of your dog, but I think poly-fil works best. Stuff the sock rather loosely.

 

3. Sew his head shut. You can just run it over with the sewing machine. It doesn’t matter if it looks weird, unless you’re one of those “but *I* would know” types, because you’re covering it with a hat.

 

4. Take another sock, and slap it on his noggin, covering the unsightliness of his run-over head. Sew it on. This, you will have to do by hand. Just whip some stiches around the circumference (big math word. I don’t really know what it means, but it sounded right), it’s not rocket science. If you own a needle and thread, you can do it, trust me.

5. Tie a knot in the hat to give him a jaunty, devil-may-care attitude. To create a smaller hat, you can cut the sock, turn it inside out, sew the top of it shut, turn it right side out, and then sew it to his noodle. It’s completely up to you. Revel in the freedom.

 

6. Stitch some eyes and a mouth by using french knots with black thread. I don’t remember how to do this. Maybe you could find a tutorial on french knots online.

 

7. Take a bit of orange pipe cleaner and ram it into the center of his face. If you make it longer than you think you need to, then sufficient length will remain lodged within the snowman’s head and it will not fall out. Unless you leave them lying about where small children can do exactly that. You could glue a big of orange felt on if you are making them specifically for children. That would probably be less hazardous.

 

8. Tie a bit of ric-rac around his neck for a scarf. Or you could use felt. Or a hand-knitted, one of a kind, tiny snowman scarf. If you do that, I may have to hate you.

 

9. Embellish him with pom-poms for the top of his hat, or his buttons, or just whatever. Use a hot glue gun. Don’t burn yourself.

 

10. I think that’s all. This turned out more complex than I remembered. I think I need to lie down now.

 

However, SOME demanding sorts wanted recipes. Recipes! So this brings me to my third point: The recipes.

 

The truffle recipe can be found here. It is crazy easy. The peanut butter kiss cookie recipe is as follows: take your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. Double the amount of peanut butter in it. This will instantly transport it into the realm of sublime, whereas before it was just average. Doubling the peanut butter gives the cookies a sandier “bite” and makes it more like a peanut-butter cup. Adding a kiss on top, well, it oughta be illegal.

 

The sugar cookies are Fancy. And Time Consuming. I didn’t make them. My eldest daughter did. They are way too intense for me. But they do taste fabulous, and you don’t actually HAVE to make them into lovely swirls. You can just slice and bake them in their plain whiteness and embellish them with sprinkles and whatnot. But here’s the recipe, notwithstanding.

 

Tricolor cookies

 

 

 

 

8 oz unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2?cups powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Cream all the above together in your electric mixer bowl. Then add the following:

 

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

 

Now you can separate the dough into three lumps and tint one with green, and one with red, if you really want to. Use your hands to knead the color in until it’s the shade you want. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes. If you want spirals, roll each lump into a rectangle of equal size, about 1/4 inch thick. Brush the red dough with a beaten egg, lay the green dough atop it, brush again with egg, and lay the white dough atop it. Press lightly to adhere them together. Now roll lengthwise into a tight log, and chill overnight in plastic wrap.

 

Slice those babies about 1/4 inch thick and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350.

 

The brown bread is a recipe I simply must share because it is so, so yummy. It’s something my mom always makes at Christmastime, and it’s great because it’s not overly sweet, it’s chewy and satisfying, and hey, it’s probably good for your blood because it has lots of molasses in it. And you want your blood to be happy, right? Happy blood is never a bad thing.

 

Brown Bread

 

 

 

 

1 egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup molasses
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup raisins (if you want, otherwise known as “optional”)

 

Grease a loaf pan, preheat oven to 350. Beat egg lightly in a mixing bowl, stir in buttermilk and molasses (spray your cup measure with cooking oil first). Add remaining ingredients, stirring only enough to mix well. Turn into prepared pan and bake about an hour (test with toothpick). Cool, and slather (slather, I tell you!) each slice with cream cheese before devouring.

 

And now, I must finish my Christmas shopping. Weep for me.

 

Welcome to the One Thing stop on the BooMama house tour!!

Hello, hello! So nice to see you! Won’t you come in? Yes, isn’t the weather awful? I hope the roads aren’t too slick later…



Yes, I made the wreath snowmen from little baby socks. They are a few years old now, so they aren’t at their best, but I still think they’re cute.

Would you like some refreshments?

Perhaps a truffle? Or a sugar cookie?

Oh no, I insist. Have as many as you like!

Peanut butter kiss? Brown bread with cream cheese?

The weather is not paying any attention to the {please don’t} part of my sign.

 


Come make yourself comfortable in the living room…

My garland is fresh this year…or rather…it *was* fresh, a few weeks ago…it’s a little dry and crispy now, but hey! It still smells nice, doesn’t it? What? Oh! I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you were allergic! Here, let me get you a tissue…Bless you!


 


My tree is real too…don’t get too close. Bless you again!

Okay, this one is fake. It’s my Norway tree (used to live there). I love the Swedish look it has, and the Santa is from Wal Mart (shhhh! don’t tell!). I honestly just liked his old-fashioned looks. And he has glitter. Everything (everything!) is better with glitter, don’t you think?


Stockings, hung with care…yes, My Beloved’s is hugegonimous. That’s a little joke. His mother made it for him. The rest were made by her, and two dear sisters-in-law. They’re good and stretchy, just right for stuffing. There’s even one at the veeery end for the pets. We’re gonna need more hooks real soon.

I like to decorate with scrapbook paper. It’s inexpensive, colorful, and I have plenty of it. It’s kind of like scrapbooking on a grand scale.


Nativity by

Jim Shore. I kinda like his work.



These framed pics come from my childhood. They were taken from a book by Joan Walsh Anglund.

I like feather boas for a snowy effect.

My collection of Rudolph figurines. It’s rather torturous setting them up every year and having to say no to all the little piping voices clambering to play with them, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Highly refined window treatment.

More decorating with scrapbook paper.

 

Little cardstock houses assembled by DD Miriam, from Martha Stewart. Whatever your feelings on Martha, her crafts ROCK.



Need some punch? We’ll go into the kitchen. My kitchen has terrible lighting, but there is a holly garland going about the room with Jim Shore’s 12 days of Christmas hanging from it. Did I mention an affection for Jim Shore? I think the heater vent is especially festive, don’t you?

This is the sink corner. It’s rather pleasant, as far as a dishwashing corner goes. The ornaments on my feather tree are also from my childhood. Shiny Brite!


 


I made this little wooden button star. It was shamefully easy, but gives me a little smile every time I look at it.

Oh, and here are Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Don’t they look fine?

Howdy, Joseph. You’re looking awfully handsome. I’m so glad you weren’t actually ten thousand years old at the time of this trip, as so many oil paintings had led me to believe! You actually look capable of caring for your woman and her precious cargo!

And Mary. Ah, Mary. The look on your face is so familiar to me. You’re lovely, my dear. Even though I know you must have had some serious hemorrhoids after that donkey ride.

Donkey apologizes, but it can’t be helped. Honestly, I’m sure it’s better than air travel these days.

They’re on their way…and so must you be. I know you have a lot of other houses to tour. Thank you for stopping by!! And remember…Christmas is all about that little family trip that changed the world…and it was just…


MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

 

That pesky muse

Yesterday was a crafty day. That’s not to be confused with a crappy day, which it was not at all. Anyway, I got it into my head to do some crafts and nothing could stop me. Once the muse settles herself upon my head, I cannot dislodge her. She’s really irritating that way. So I bought my supplies and some for the kids too, so they could share in all my crafty goodness.

 

Honestly, it was to keep their mitts off *my* project.

 

So, they made little craft-foam gingerbread men, and they were very intense about it. I loved it because I didn’t have to roll out one single?scrap of dough. Of course, they don’t taste or smell as good as the real thing, but one doesn’t like to complain. Here is Emma, being intense.

 

And Gabriel, being VERY intense (the glue was a little tricksy)

 

 

Toby, learning at a very inappropriate time how to unscrew caps

 

 

Toby, learning proper glue placement (hint: not all over the table)

 

 

Emma, bearing a striking resemblance to her creation thus far:

 

 

Finished products

 

 

One of my favorites (it’s Gabriel’s…don’t tell anyone)

 

 

So okay, enough with the cutesy kids and the cutesy “gingerbread” men. What did *I* make, you want to know? You’re dying to know, right? First I must confess that the idea was not mine. I got it here. The sight of these adorable letters just stuck in my craw and festered. Okay, so that doesn’t sound pleasant at all. Let’s just say I wanted to make them too. I have something of a sick passion for paper. It’s probably not healthy. But admission is the first step to recovery, right? So I’m admitting. I love paper. Paper like this:

 

 

It makes me swoon. So I fetched myself some letters and got to work. But I couldn’t stop at just one paper per letter. Get real! I had to mix it up. I had to festoon. I had to glitterfy. And with liberal amounts of mod-podge, I accomplished this:

 

 

But wait. What is that I spy in the middle of the “S”? Let’s take a closer look…

 

 

Ohhhh….right. I hate winter.

 

 

In case you were confused as to why someone like me, who turns blue when the temperature drops below 70, would be invoking the snow-gods to send the bitter white flakes, let me hasten to clarify. I ain’t askin’.

 

I gotta say, though…

 

 

these letters turned out cute

 

 

stinkin’ cute!?

 

So have fun making your own Christmassy crafts. And may all your snow be mica.

 

(35 more sleeps )

 

More xylophone cake

Okay, so here’s the cake. The keys were made of sugar cookies rolled out (used a ruler as a guide) and baked, then frosted with a royal icing glaze (the kind of icing that dries hard). You can make it out of egg whites, but I used the meringue powder from Wilton.

 

I also used the Wilton paste food colorings to get the nice bright colors. The last key (the smallest) was supposed to be a sort of greenish-blue, but it was tricky. Oh well. I set the keys on licorice and stuck m & m’s on them for the screws.

 

 

And here’s a deep, dark secret. I use cake mixes. Yes! Simply because every single homemade cake I have ever made has never been as moist, or moist at all, come to think of it. I slave over the stupid thing and then it’s dry as dust. Frankly, I like the taste of Dunkin Hines. However, I make my icing from scratch. Buttercream, baby, and I am good at it. It always undergoes a rigorous taste-test before I put any on the cake. It’s amazing there is any left for the cake, come to think of it.