Girl, don’t do it…

It’s not worth it.

I’m not gonna do it, I was just thinking about it. I’m not gonna do it.

I did it.

The recipe for Southern Living’s Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake. Holy nutmeg! The perfect marriage of spice cake and pumpkin bread.

I am NOT one of those people. I don’t like rushing seasons or holidays because I inevitably get bored with them too soon. I want to put things out at an appropriate time so I can enjoy them all season long.

But the spices in this cake… pure pumpkin heaven! I had to. Just this once. I’ll now go back to summer and 100+ days and flip flops and tank tops.

But for one little Saturday in August, I simply HAD to have a little bite of Fall.

Plus!, this recipe calls for candied pecans to be sprinkled on top but I used regular pecans so basically, it’s diet food.

Don’t make this recipe too soon, (don’t do it, girl) but put it on your Fall Bucket List. It’s one of the best bundt cakes I’ve ever had (no hyperbole needed.)

Looking forward to sweaters and hot cider and football games. But not yet. There’s a little more sand-between-the-toes days to come.

enjoy!

She wore pearls and felt.

These 5” felt trees were meditative to work on. A perfect craft for a chilly winter afternoon.

Scott is becoming a master Cricut user. (It’s a new-to-us tool that I’ll talk more about in the future.) He cut out a bunch of Christmas trees for me. I love using non-traditional Christmas colors. This cool aqua seemed to create just the right cold-weather forest look I wanted. I purchased a few strands of small pearl beads in the jewelry section and was ready to go.

I randomly sewed on the pearl beads. I had to remind myself I wasn’t sewing a button on a coat for a 9-year-old boy; I didn’t need to secure them on for endurance! One good loop through the back would do.

It’s been years, actually, since I’ve used the blanket stitch. But it added just the right rustic finish to these delicate trees. (I like this quick tutorial)

I thought I had polyfill at home but realized at the last moment that I didn’t. Instead, I used some of the snow from one of my first projects and it worked great.

I’m not saying it was a mess-free endeavor, however

The stuffing should be just enough to add a little 3D effect. You can see below the difference between a stuffed one and the flat one. Just a little, you don’t want to overstuff these.

(I even got a little adventurous and added a ‘g’ to the back of one tree and the year ‘’20’ to another.)

You could string these together to make a garland or add individual strings on the top and use them as ornaments. I considered tucking them into the bottom of a grapevine wreath. Or even simply placing them in a bowl. Many options.

But the more I looked at them, (and maybe this was because it was around lunchtime), the more they looked like those icing-covered animal crackers with sprinkles on top. So I gathered them together and put them in an empty cookie jar, hanging one outside with a string, and adding a bit of faux snow to the bottom.

Magical. Meditative. Mid-century.

Knowing myself, I will forget about all these crafts and be pleasantly surprised when I find them in my Christmas boxes next year! (Which always happens when I buy after-Christmas things and they go straight to storage.) -ha!

Textured Decor

There is something cozy about a bowl of yarn. It adds warm texture to your living space.

If you’ve ever made a yarn ball you know it takes a lot of yarn (and a lot of mindless looping.) This is such a simple hack that I’ve used for many years. It’s also a great way to use up the last remaining parts of a skein.

Start with a styrofoam ball. Just to give me an extra hand, I usually hot glue a little patch to get me started.

Fill up all the blank spaces and you’re done. Again, I put a little dollop of glue at the end, place my yarn over it then cut a little tail and tuck it into one of the laps of yarn. The hot glue will keep it in place and not unravel.

Choose some complimentary colors but with varying textures. Use Christmas colors or the colors of your home. These add warmth and dimension to your room, easily and inexpensively.

Peppermint Hearts

I didn’t mean for this simple wreath to be an ode to Rudolph, but it kind of looks like it, doesn’t it??

I hot glued two candy canes together like a heart. Then glued their tips together to form a wreath. Pretty simple. I made a crude circle to use as a base to glue the candy cane tips to.

Then I hot glued all of it again to add my pom pom which also acts as a connector of all the parts.

I used some leftover stars from the pinecomb project and some leftover sequins from the sequin ornament. Added some ribbon from the Buffalo check canvas and called it done.

It adds a little holiday wonky whimsy in the kitchen. Are you a candy cane fan? I like them inside holiday candy but I don’t usually grab one just by itself. They are good for settling stomachs after that big Christmas meal, though!

A Few Christmas Glimpses

So many people struggled with the decision of whether or not to decorate for this weird 2020 holiday season. I can fully appreciate those who decided to skip it or simply go smaller than normal. For whatever reason, I felt unusually excited to decorate this year. I think I needed the safety net of memories and glittering lights to buoy me through the canceled plans and stay at home orders. It’s helped me out a lot, to plug in the tree lights and watch them do their thing.

I mention it every year but this pink ornament is from my parents’ first Christmas together in 1961. It has valiantly survived the years and it makes me smile each time I unpack it from the many layers of bubble wrap I store it in.

Just like this bowl of sugared fruit that sat in their kitchen window. Is it even Christmas if there’s no bowl of sugared fruit??

The gnomes are holding court by the front door, keeping evil out and mischief in. Their biggest job this year has been greeting the Amazon delivery guys. *wink*

Did you decide to decorate this year or to give yourself a needed break from the tinsel and glitter? We hope to go over to an area of town called the Fab 40’s this evening and drive through their neighborhood. Their lights will be fun to see. Then home for some homemade hot chocolate. It’s SO GOOD!!

Happy celebrating to you, however you’ve chosen to do that this year. Your choice was a correct one, so rest peacefully in that. 2021 Christmas will be here soon enough!

Hawt Chocolate

We made a deliciously rich and decadent hot chocolate recently that I decided must be a part of my #2020s20HolidayCrafts. I insist you make it immediately then sit back with a good book and one of those arm-knitted throw blankets and have yourself a merry MERRY weekend-before-Christmas.

This recipe is adapted from a Southern Living magazine hot chocolate recipe.

I mean… it starts with Half and Half and milk. So you know it’ll be good. It continues with a half a can of dulce de leche. Need I say more?

Shaved dark chocolate, heavy cream, girrrl. This is some extra livin’.

After pouring a mug full of heaven, add about a tablespoon of Tennessee Honey whiskey then top it off with some homemade whipped cream.

And why not add a chocolate rolled wafer cookie while you’re at it.

ENJOY some grown-up time and thank me later.

Tennessee Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


4 cups half and half
1/2 canned or jarred dulce de leche
8 ounces chopped dark chocolate, extra for topping
Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey whiskey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1C cold heavy cream
chocolate rolled wafer cookies (like Pirouette)

Whisk together 4 cups half and half and 1/2 cup dulce de leche in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until heated through (about 10 minutes)

Remove from heat and whisk 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt until the mixture is smooth.

Next, beat 1 cup of cold heavy cream in a cold bowl with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form (about 1 minute)

Pour hot chocolate mixture into 4 serving cups. Add a tablespoon of whiskey. Top each with whipped cream, a drizzle of de leche and shaved chocolate. Serve with chocolate rolled wafer cookies.

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Craft Fail.

Doggoneit! This wreath. This huge wreath with it’s beautiful ornaments…it was going to be a good project. I saved it for the middle. 22″ x 17″ of Christmas cheer.

However…

I bought a huge tube of ornaments. Then, for good measure, I also bought a smaller tube of ornament balls. But this thing requires six MILLION ornaments! ugh.

So IF you were making this, you simply lay your wreath down and start hot gluing your ornaments on, using the table as your ‘wall back’.

Hopefully this is a popular ornament color that they’ll bring back again next year. COVID and Crafting is difficult sometimes!

I guess I will pack it all away and finish it next year?? Had I known I would be short this much (guesstimating was never my strong suit – but I SERIOUSLY had a LOT of ornaments to work with), I might have worked in other things like pinecombs or yarn balls or something.

Nothing to sweat over now though. That baby is born and I’m going to have to bow to defeat. What a typical 2020 wreath, huh??!

Instead, I’ll show you our 2020 glass ornaments we’ve collected so far. I say ‘so far‘, but I think we’re probably done for the year. It will be fun to collect more and more every year until we have a dedicated Christmas tree just for them. As I mentioned before, these are like collecting charms for a charm bracelet. Each ornament has meaning and ‘spoke’ to us.

I ordered the masked Santa online to commemorate 2020. When I opened the package his weird blue eyes freaked me out a bit. Again…how appropriate, right?

EEEEEK.

Crafts are fun and challenging and you do everything you can to overcome the obstacles along the way. But sometimes, you lay the project aside and say, ‘I’m done. For now anyway. Maybe later.’ I’ll be first in the store when the Christmas decorations start coming out in 2021. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find similar colors.

Happy crafting!! (And know when to quit.) 🙂

That Little Sequined Number

Have you ever headed into a project and quickly thought: “Excuse me, ma’am. Have we met?!” This was that project for me. My self-awareness was off kilter the day I chose this particular craft project.

WHAT possessed me to push nine gazillion sequins into a styrofoam ball with nine gazillion pins?! However…I really like it.

What’s really cute of me, is that I bought a six-pack of styrofoam balls to make SIX! *doubles over laughing* I think you can guess how many I made. If you guessed one, you’d be correct. If you guessed 1/4th of one, you probably know me best.

I was surprised to find out that they make pins specifically for sequins. They are a bit shorter than regular pins and they were hanging right next to the sequins in the sewing section of the store.

A couple of hints: separate out the sequins and the pins into bowls. They’re much easier to grab that way. You’d probably benefit from a thimble, which I didn’t want to dig up so I used the tail of my shirt. (Do whatcha gotta do.)

I started at one end and started spiraling outward. I wasn’t overly concerned with the sequins being in a continuous pattern. I don’t really think that’s necessary. Just make sure each sequin overlaps.

As I finished up, I left a small space open where I put a dollop of hot glue. I then put a pin through one sequin and pushed it into my looped, black velvet ribbon and pushed it all into the spot with the hot glue. The ribbon serves as a hanger or is just decorative.

I love the look. It’s very shiny and elegant. I imagined putting a nametag through the push pin and ribbon to set at each place setting. They can hang on a tree or a doorknob or cabinet pull or….on and on.

As I was debating with myself and encouraging myself to keep going (-ha!), I thought about how this would make a good project for a child who was diligent and dedicated. As long as they’re careful and understand overlapping each sequin to cover the white styrofoam, I think they’d feel very confident and proud of the end result. So parents – think about semi-supervising this project and letting your focused kid dig into it.

I included in this place setting a vase of white hydrangea (you know I can’t get enough hydrangea in my life.) I filled a vase with a bag of fresh cranberries then covered them with water. It’s a nice pop of color on a tablescape. They also last quite a long time if you change out the water occasionally, which will turn pinkish-red so it’ll need a refresh. When the hydrangeas are gone, I’ll drop a little votive candle into the top of the cranberries and water.

Hanging separately or with many others grouped together, when the light hits the metal and the sequins on these sequined ornaments, it’s very pretty and magical. Save a few of those sequins for sprinkling around.

I proudly present to you my ONE sequin ball. I didn’t think I’d finish it at times, but am so glad I stuck to it. When the season is over I will be locking it in our fireproof safety deposit box!

*said only partly facetiously*

What do you think? Do you have what it takes? (For the record, what it takes are calloused fingers and upper arm strength!) These would be lovely at a wedding in the chosen colors. This is where you can be a brideszilla, though, and delegate others to do the work!

Are you enjoying the holiday crafting so far?

Buffalo? Check.

Buffalo check print. Gingham print. Plaid. I absolutely love them all. So when I saw this holiday project I was on board immediately. It was easier than I originally thought and, once again, I will try to stretch this project out further than just Christmas by swapping out the ribbon and wreath.

I bought a two pack of 16×20 white canvases and Scott made a frame so I could just slide the finished canvas inside.

I painted the stark white canvas a softer antique white to warm it up a bit.

I bought this wallpaper brush on Amazon. To be honest, this was the most difficult part of the project. I couldn’t find wallpaper brushes anywhere – craft stores or hardware stores. People don’t old-school wallpaper much anymore.

Section off your brush with painters tape like so…

Then cut the other bristles shorter. It would be a lie to say that I didn’t find individual bristles in my bra all day long after this. -ha!

The cut sections don’t need to be exact. The idea is that they need to be short enough to not pick up paint, leaving you with two ‘guides’ for your buffalo print.

Dip the brush in black paint and brush on…

I will not do it as heavy the next time I make a background canvas but there are no rules – you can make it as thick or light as you choose.

My canvas fit tightly so all I had to do is cut a length of ribbon to loop through the wreath, then hang the ends off the back of the canvas which slid right into the frame. The wreath is hanging freely, but securely. It’s not attached in any way to the canvas.

I can simply pop out the canvas and hang different ribbon and wreath to completely change the look. Maybe burlap and a grapevine wreath? Or spring-colored gingham and an Easter egg wreath? Many possibilities.

Step awaaaaaay from the Pom Pom maker……

I can’t help it! I have loved using my new pom pom maker but you guys… there is a possibility I may never make a pom pom ever again in my whole entire life. Whew! This was a bigger job than I originally anticipated.

But I’m so happy with the result. It’s a ‘minimalistic’ winter wreath, that took a maximalist amount of effort. -ha.

Thankfully it is so much quicker to make pom poms now. This wreath took four skeins of white yarn (and 3 movies, 14 podcasts and 38 audio books…give or take… AND potentially a future shoulder surgery from all the yarn wrapping-around action!)

I had a green 14” foam wreath on hand, which was fine, but you should actually use a white wreath form. Of course a smaller wreath would require less yarn balls.

I bought these vintage-looking wire trees at Hobby Lobby (50% off) and then hot glued everything on.

I found it helpful to use two different size yarn balls, using the smaller size to fill gaps. It’s not absolutely necessary (all one size would work fine), but I like the variety.

(I ultimately hung it in our hallway, but wanted a picture by the Christmas tree first.)

This is one of those crafting-while-movie-watching activities. I love the end result – but prepare for some time investment with this one.

Sidenote: for any of you who read the Louise Penny series set in Three Pines, this wreath is my ode to that idyllic village.

Colorful Christmas Crafting

Sometimes red and green can just be so…red and green. How about a little sparkle of color for your holiday decor? The upside? You can use it after the holidays are over too.

This might be a good craft to do while watching a schmaltzy holiday movie or maybe get your kids involved in creating one of their own. Color choice? Totally up to you!

This is an easy one, guys. I picked six felt sheets from my local craft store in six bright colors.

Most felt sheets come in about a 10″ width. Mine happen to be 9″ which is no big deal. You want each strip to be about 5″ x 1/2″. I cut my strips on my self-healing cutting mat, making the process go pretty quickly. I then cut each of the strips in half. Nothing has to be exact, but fairly uniform.

I don’t have a kid around to help, but I did have a doodle around who kept playing with my twine.

Cut a length of twine to your desired length. Mine was about 5 ft long. I made a slip knot at each end and started in the middle of the twine. Simply tie a knot. That’s it. Push them together pretty tightly and twist the knots so they are headed different directions – this gives the overall look a more wonky, haphazard feel.

I decided to hang mine in my developing craft room. If you’ve read my post about the sprinkle and drip paint ornaments, you’ll know the colors I chose go with that general theme. I also have a felt ball garland that paired nicely with it too.

Let me say a quick word about this cubicle unit. If you read about my little incident on social media, this is the shelf we were buying at IKEA that managed to punch me in the jaw. Long story short, I ended up in the ER with a concussion and have been recouping since Monday. So please show some deep respect and appreciation for this golden glove boxer of a shelf.

Things are just piled in the cubes for right now, but I think you can see the general theme emerging. Happy, bright colors! More to come on this.

I am anxiously awaiting the cutest mug that will go on this cake stand (which probably means I’ll have to buy a second one to use for my daily chai.) I bought it from the cutest Etsy shop, This Is Tisa, and can’t wait to show you the goodies when they arrive.

Hope you enjoy this quick little craft and design it to fit your (or your kiddos) space. And thanks for enduring a few emerging Craft Room pictures along the way.

2020’s 20 Holiday Crafts 6/20

Snow, ohhhh…to see a mountain covered with a quilt of snow

Bing Crosby and the movie White Christmas is a family tradition with us. We used to wait until the first snowfall to watch it but now that we’re living in California, we have to break down and watch it without the wintery snowfall scene outside.

It’s also tradition to text the lyrics to my friend, Jenny, who grosses out over the idea of washing her face, hands and hair with snow. -ha!

So even though we don’t get to enjoy the bucolic look of snow falling outside our windows, we can enjoy some ‘faux snow’ throughout our house.

There are some things I seem to be drawn to in nature. I pick up and pocket a smoothly rounded rock that catches my attention. Or pieces of driftwood, worn over time. Perfectly imperfect pinecombs have been slowly collecting in a box now completely dedicated and labeled for their wonky goodness.

In an earlier craft I made a mountain range so for this craft I made a snowy forest with pinecombs collected over time.

You can buy faux snow at any craft store. I bought some for this project but it ended up not being quite what I wanted. So I made snow with what I had on hand: sawdust and white paint.

Start with some white paint, mixing in sawdust until you have a textured paint substance.

You aren’t going to paint like usual, but rather pat the mixture onto the surface.

If it glops and drips – all the better! That’s what snow does, right?

For an extra somethin-somethin, I hot glued on some dragees – silver covered balls used for decorating cupcakes and cakes. They added a little sparkle and reflect the lights of the nearby Christmas tree.

Since pinecombs are a little wobbly, I hot glued a round wooden ‘base’ to give a few of them the look of a miniature pinecomb Christmas tree.

As a table’s centerpiece or grouped together on top of a shelf, these snowy little pinecombs are sure to get you in the hot chocolate and plaid throw blanket mood.

I added one pinecomb tree that reminds me of the winters we spent in Nebraska. The winds are so strong that sometimes the snow sticks to just one side of the tree, making it very obvious which way is North!

Need a little something else added to your wintry, Christmas decor? These snow-covered pinecomb trees might add just the right amount of Christmas happiness without any wet, melting mess.