I was in the mood to make my favorite granola the other day so I pulled out my tried and true recipe from way back when, and was happy that I had everything I needed in the fridge and cupboard. I think I’ll add it to our Easter Brunch menu, if there’s any left by then.
There’s just something so wholesome about a big batch of nutty granola. A little goes a long way and it couldn’t be easier to make. Melting butter, sugar, honey and maple syrup, then adding that gooey, warm mixture to the oats and nuts. The only real time is waiting for it to slowly bake to its sweet goodness in the oven. In the meantime, the house smells delicious.
To follow my recipe click on this link right here.
If you need a quick, portable little dessert that’s easy and makes a sweet presentation these little cupcakes might be just the ticket. I used a cake mix but you could make them with any favorite recipe. No need for a cupcake tin, these paper sleeves just sit on a cookie sheet to bake.
For frosting I chose to whip cream, adding a drop or two of peppermint oil. I crushed peppermint to sprinkle on top, and I had an easy dessert that was fun and enjoyed by everyone. I put our ice cream choices in the center of the table and let everyone pass the cartons and serve themselves.
Often the key to entertaining is a fun presentation of something quite simple.
When we were up in the mountains this fall, just the day before the first snow, I collected a bagful of pinecones, moss and a few sticks. I had big plans for an autumn wreath. I finally got around to it today, and although it’s long past autumn, I am so happy with the way it turned out.
I used a wire frame as the base and wound florist wire around the larger, curved cones to have something to glue the others to.
I just kept gluing and layering until I was happy with the balance. I tucked in the moss and lichen and added a couple of the sticks.
Click here to follow the link to our mountain visit.
Last night was my turn to host our book club. I was pleased that the weather was holding and we could enjoy our dinner on the deck. Thunderstorms were predicted later in the night and the prediction proved true, sometime around 2am.
As nice as it was to enjoy our time outdoors, my hanging baskets were looking a bit tired after a long warm summer; not too many blooms left. I decided as long as we had several recent birthdays in our group, I would plan accordingly. I got a small bag of primary colored balloons and a handful of simple garden stakes. I blew up the balloons, tied, and wrapped them around the sticks. I then simply stuck the sticks here and there in the hanging baskets and the pots on the deck. It was festive, colorful and added just the right touch. A colorful tablecloth and a small bouquet of roses and we were set.
Chocolate cake for dessert of course.
Oh, and the book?? Life After Life: A Novel by Kate Atkinson. A super thumbs up all the way around!
The neighborhood parade was just as sweet as ever. Lots and lots of kids, dogs and decorated bikes. For over 30 years this neighborhood tradition has been going strong. People move out, new neighbors move in, and the parade continues. Some of the original ‘kids’ come back with families of their own. I like that. Here are my photos from this morning.
Happy 4th of July to everyone!
Spring is here, Easter is just around the corner and the flowers are beginning to come back to life. After my visit to the nursery the other day I was inspired to plant a spring basket that would serve as my Easter Centerpiece.
Photo courtesy of Terrain
I saw this Easter basket on the Terrain Website and decided to use it as my guide. I love Terrain; they always inspire me. It’s no wonder; they were created by the same folks as Anthropologie. My only question: ”When are you coming to the Northwest?” I can’t wait for my string of pearls plant to trail across the table like theirs. Simply perfect!
Here are some pictures and suggestions for creating your own Easter or Springtime basket:
Find a basket you like. It doesn’t have to be fancy or even new. I lined mine with plastic then trimmed the top from an old hanging basket pot (the heavy pressed cardboard type), to fit inside the basket. Fill in a bit of soil, then place your plants.
I had to have the wonderful peach and yellow Ranunculus and the string of pearls. I dug up a small clump of grape hyacinths from my garden and found the bag of florists moss left over from my terrarium project. I already had the little bunny and three sweet eggs. If you have Easter decorations available it’s fun to fit them in and make it your own.
Now I’m set for Easter and the whole thing just screams SPRING! That’s what I need around here!
Although you can probably find what you need in your own nursery, home and yard, here is the link to Terrain for inspiration and any other must haves: http://www.shopterrain.com/basket-basics/egg-hunt-basket-square/
It must be good with a name like that. Butter, sugar, chocolate, and peppermint candy. I was thinking about peppermint bark but felt like adding the toffee would be a good idea. It’s a great combination of flavors. Not too many ingredients, in fact you might very well have everything you need without making one more trip to the store.
I used last years recipe for Toffee Roca as my base and improvised (scroll over the red words to find that recipe). I started with the toffee; simply melting 2 cubes of butter and 1 cup of sugar and cooking until it turns golden brown, which took about 15 minutes. My candy thermometer registered 275 degrees.
I spread the hot caramel onto a warm baking sheet . Smooth out to the edges. Cool in the fridge for a few minutes then spread a thin (or thick) layer of melted chocolate over the top. Use about half of what you’ve melted and save the other half for the other side. Working quickly, sprinkle 1/2 of your broken peppermint pieces on top of chocolate while the chocolate is still warm. Place back in the fridge for another few minutes until everything has hardened.
When it is cooled, flip over the entire block. You’ll have to work the edge of a sharp spatula under a corner to loosen it, but the butter will not let it stick. It will probably break into pieces but that’s ok, as you’d be doing that eventually. Use a pastry brush to apply the remainder of the melted chocolate, then sprinkle with the rest of the peppermint pieces. Return to the fridge to cool.
Once it’s fully cooled, break up any remaining large pieces and start enjoying. It’s different than peppermint bark because of the toffee, but the flavors blend in the most delicious way. Great for gift giving or to enjoy with coffee or cocoa. Check my notes below for suggestions for success.
This year more than ever before, I’m aware of our family’s Christmas traditions. Both kids are grown and living away, but will happily be home for Christmas. Each time I talk with either one of them I am reminded of the little details that are important to them. The decorations, the Christmas music, the coffee cake served after opening presents; all the things we’ve done over the years that have become important parts of their memories. As a parent I’m reminded of the responsibility I have to make sure our kids enjoy, participate and look forward to the wonderful family moments. More often than not it’s the little things that are turned into the sweetest memories.
Glass globe ornaments collected and received as gifts over the years always find a place in my biggest bowl. The red, white and blue starred one is a particular favorite as it was given to me Christmas 2001, the first Christmas after 9/11.
My fellow blogger at Ciao Dominica wrote of traditions the other day and then referred to a blogger friend of hers, at From the House of Edward, who also shared a story of the importance of family traditions. Click on their links to enjoy their stories. It’s fun to read about what other families do for the holidays and it sometimes gives us an idea of traditions that might become one of our own.
Our family traditions seem quite simple but are obviously a big part of our holiday memories. Around here I’m pretty sure Christmas music begins sometime right after our Thanksgiving meal. Everybody has their favorites and they often trade CD’s to add to each others collections. The radios in the cars are set to the 24/7 Christmas music stations.
Somebody always has to dress up a dog or two, who are never too happy about it but put up with our silly behavior.
The kids plan which Christmas movies will be required watching. A Christmas Story, Elf, Home Alone, The Santa Clause, The Holiday and Love Actually are always at the top of their lists. I love that they have this fun little tradition they've created and that they look forward to spending time with one another.
Presents are talked about and hoped for, of course, favorite foods are expected, but most of all we just like being together; laughing, looking at our favorite ornaments and treasures. Our snow village is put out with the puffy pretend snow and we remember where each house sits, where Santa will be and where each of the little skiers should be placed.
The tree is decorated with ornaments collected for many years. My mother gave me one each year and I have continued that tradition with my own children. Too many to count; it’s almost time for them to take them into their own homes. Maybe next year.
My very favorite ornament is this one that my mother and father got somewhere early in their marriage. It’s at least 65 years old and every year when I carefully unwrap it I think of them and how young they were with their lives, dreams and hopes ahead of them. I’d love to hear of your family’s traditions. Leave me a comment.
I’m in the mood for a give-away and have been trying to think of some fun, entertaining way to make it happen. I would like to get The Janet Brown Studio Facebook page up to 100 “likes.” If you can help me do that by December 15th you will be eligible to win my 2012 Christmas pillow (the one in the middle down there). It’s screen printed from my original design listing all the wonderful things that we all love during the Christmas holidays.
If you’ve already “liked” the page you are already in the running, but in order to reach the goal of 100 you’ll have to help me by encouraging your friends to like it too by sharing the post (no 100=no winner). The more the merrier. I will put all the names into the random generator and announce the winner by the 16th and mail your pillow to you in time to toss it on your sofa for Christmas. Follow this link for the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/janetshouseandgarden.
For those of you not on Facebook, stay tuned. There’s something else coming your way. Thanks everyone and good luck!
Happy December, Happy Holidays and Happy Monday!!
This year instead of my traditional Christmas wreath of greens, holly, pinecones and a big red bow, I decided to get crafty.
Like many things I do, I get inspiration and ideas from somewhere else. I saw this beautiful wreath on the Terrain website. That’s a real Amaryllis bulb attached to the twig wreath and the nice folks there were offering a how-to. I love a good how-to and was instantly inspired. I just thought it was a bit too plain for Christmas and if the Amaryllis didn’t bloom at the right time I would be very disappointed. I decided to see what I could do using my own ideas.
I crawled up in the attic because I was pretty sure I had an old twig wreath from several autumns ago. I found it and took it outside where I snipped off the sorry looking dried leaves and seed pods. Then I hosed off the dust and let it dry while I assembled everything I thought I might need.
I love using live things but I also love having my wreath last throughout the season. I went to Michael’s and found this beautiful life-like Amaryllis silk flower and a nice little mix of faux greens. I think it’s kind of like cooking. I don’t do everything from scratch; sometimes I start with a ready-made product and add a little of this and a little of that to make it even better.
So that’s what I did with my old twig wreath. A little of this and a little of that. Some cut greens from the garden, including some interesting herbs that had gone to seed, bright green florist moss and a few false greens from the store. Most of them tucked in among the twigs and if they wouldn’t stay, I used green florist wire and a dab of hot glue. Pretty darn easy and I think if I didn’t tell you, you might even think I’d gotten an Amaryllis to bloom perfectly in season.
I'll be showing my work on these blogs:
I’m not off my needlepoint kick yet. Last year during the holidays I suggested making a little needlepoint kit for a crafty friend. To see that post, click here. This year I still like that idea and recently showed another idea here. It’s hard to think of any other season when we’re smack dab in the middle of the biggest holiday gift giving season of them all. So I see nothing wrong with giving a little Christmas kit for someone to work on throughout the year. By this time next year they’ll have it stitched, sewn and ready for the tree or turned into a pillow. If you’re the crafty one you can include a little coupon for the finished project, or even the fabric that inspired your design.
Both of these would be great for a beginning needlepointer. For the one on the left I used the grid of the canvas to “weave” my design and for the other I used the fabric as my inspiration. Fabric stores carry the needlepoint canvas and for such a small project you only need 1/3 of a yard. The canvas is wide so you’ll get many 12 X 12” squares to turn into gifts. Craft or needlepoint stores offer lots of yarn choices to include with the canvas. I love giving handmade gifts but I also love encouraging people to pick up a craft and give it a try. Needlepoint is pretty easy. All the stitches go the same direction and you’re just filling up the canvas with yarn, making a soft usable fabric out of what once was a stiff canvas.
The little stocking turned into a pillow. Ruffles of the printed fabric were one option but I decided I wanted a more tailored look. It still needed something so a strip of fabric across the green tied it altogether. Of course I used the print for the back of the pillow. I’m still considering added embellishments but there’s no rush; when I find just the right detail I’ll stitch it on. In the meantime I like the off-set look of having the design to one side.
The tree is finished and I’m deciding whether I need another pillow (!) or not. The two would make a nice set. I probably need to stop keeping them and move them over to my Etsy shop. Then again, maybe I’ll use it tied to the ribbon on top of a gift. Stay tuned!
In celebration of Small Business Saturday, as promised, I’m sharing a coupon code to purchase pillows from my Etsy shop at 20% OFF! The code “giving” is good now through Sunday, December 2nd.
Follow the new link…see the little pillow box over on the sidebar. Click it and you’re there. How easy can it get??
Here’s a little picture of the Etsy screen. Just look for the ‘Apply shop coupon code’ at check out and pop the word giving right there. If you have any trouble at all, please let me know. Thanks so much for shopping, and yes, you can tell your friends to use the coupon code too. Happy shopping!
Whatever you do, wherever you go, whoever you spend the day with…Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
In celebration of Small Business Saturday, watch this space for a special discount coupon code to use at my little pillow shop. Friday morning I’ll post the code so you can save 20% on my pillows. In the meantime, click here to check things out. Stay tuned; I’ve got lots of fun ideas like a give-away, free shipping and more discounts to carry us through the holidays. If you read the blog or ‘like’ my Facebook page, you’ll be in the know. Happy Happy!
I took these pictures in August when we were in Yellowstone Park. No telephoto lens; this big, old, weathered raven just sat and posed as I took picture after picture, walking closer and closer. I already knew I would use his great face for Halloween decorations. I simply printed out the picture, and cut away the background; very old fashioned, using scissors.
Happy Halloween Everyone!
It’s that time of year when we pull out our Halloween decorations. I completed this needlepoint of a little Dracula fellow earlier this year and thought I’d better get busy and turn him into a pillow before time got away from me. I had difficulty finding fabrics in the colors I wanted as most fabric in a Halloween motif were the typical orange and black. They really clashed with Dracula’s red cape. I opted for this black and red print and brought in the little bit of purple to pull it all together. I love the black and white check of the main pillow; it reminds me of men’s suiting which works with the customary polished look of Dracula. The over-all work of this piece is the sleeve that wraps around a plain pillow. This concept works great for any small needlepoint project by layering other fabrics and trims, framing the creative piece of needlework. It’s a fun way to give attention and purpose to a small needlepoint piece. You can add many layers or just a few.
I took lots of pictures and have added my tips to follow along.
Make sure your needlepoint project is straight and even. Press and stretch if necessary. Lay piping, right side facing in and stitch all around, using a zipper foot, pushing against the edge and clipping at corners and turns.
As you come back to the start of the piping, cut the end, leaving about 1/2” extra. Unstitch the piping seam(on the piping itself) and trim out the inner cording to make it even with the other end. Fold the piping edge under and lap it over your beginning, catching all edges. Carefully hold down both ends and stitch across.
Trim away the canvas and press. Using your fingers press and roll the piping and canvas until everything is neat and tidy.Now this little Dracula is ready to mount onto the sleeve fabric or you can continue to layer other piping or trims.
I decided to add this dark background for contrast. I like the way the red trim looks against it. I cut it just a bit bigger than Dracula and turned under the edges. Pin and stitch in the well (right where the needlepoint and piping meet). For even more layering I added the purple piping, applying it the same as the red; laid facing in, stitching with zipper foot and clipping corners.
Set your needlepoint piece aside and make the sleeve. I lined the sleeve fabric with a simple lightweight fabric. It won’t show but I thought it gave a nicer finished look. I chose to include black piping so layered it between both fabrics, stitching with the zipper foot . Stitch each side separately, leaving ends unstitched.
When finished you’ll have a long tube. Turn right side out and press.
Now just center your featured piece on the long length of sleeve and stitch into place. Wrap your finished sleeve around your pillow of choice and pull tight. Pin then stitch ends together.
There are a lot of creative people out there on the web and many are very nice artists who want to share their work with us. Today I’m giving you links to free downloadable tags to make your Christmas wrapping easier. Click on the link and it will take you to their blog with the download for tags and often so much more!
Aren’t they great?! I’ll let these nice people know I’m sharing their work with you. If you download their tags be sure and let them know where you heard about them. Merry Merry Christmas everyone!
I was at the market today and couldn’t help but stop and look at the beautiful floral arrangements. I could buy a small bouquet and place it in a small vase. I didn’t want to spend the big bucks on the bigger one, but I wanted a nice, full, beautiful floral arrangement for the table near the front door.
I got to thinking and decided to purchase the most interesting, yet least expensive. The one I chose had this wonderful cabbagy looking flower and a good balance of bright green and pink. It was a little puny, but I didn't want to pay for filler. I took it home to see what I could add to it.
I went outside with my clippers but it’s been pretty cold so there wasn’t much to chose from. I trimmed a branch from the fir tree, and a couple of stems from a holly bush. I found some Sedum Autumn Joy that hadn’t disintegrated.
Luckily that’s all this bouquet needed for a bigger, better Wow!
See, sometime that’s all it takes. You don’t have to buy the most expensive; it can just end up looking that way.
This most delicious cocktail was served by good friends the other evening. It’s beautiful, colorful and will work well for Christmas or New Years Eve as it has the bubbles and fizz necessary for a festive time.
It comes from Nigella Lawson’s new cookbook, Nigella Christmas. It takes only 5 minutes prep so that goes along with my “week before Christmas things we can still make” ideas. Since there’s options on the ingredients this may be stuff in the back of the liquor cabinet that can be pulled together for added simplicity.
Here are the details:
1 750-ml bottle Prosecco lf other fizzy dry white wine, chilled
1/2 cup (125ml) Cointreau, Gran Marnier or Triple Sec, chilled
2 cups (500ml) cranberry juice, chilled
Mix the Prosecco or fizzy wine with the Cointreau (or Grand Marnier or Triple Sec) and cranberry juice in a large pitcher.
Pour into wine glasses or champagne flutes. Makes 5 2/3 cups.
I was asked recently how I made the tags I used on my Kahlua bottles. Quite simple if you take the time for the little extra details.
For this tag, I cut the size I wanted (about 3” X 1.5”) out of cardstock paper. I punched the hole first, so I wouldn’t end up punching through a word. I used a ruler to make the lines around all edges, then simply made little hash marks out from the line. I didn’t worry about making them all the same length; random is ok. When I finished I decided it still needed something, so I added a few dots. Take a bit of time to doodle a few tags. Before you know it you’ll be obsessed. If you make a mistake, so what?? It’s only a little piece of paper. Try again!
If you’re not feeling steady handed enough to tackle your own tag try worldlabel for free downloadable labels. There are several styles and you can even write in what you want on your label before printing for a totally professional look.
I printed the labels on regular paper then opted to hand write the ingredients and used a glue stick to adhere them on my homemade vanilla. They’re sized to fit blank adhesive labels so there you go.
Now there’s nothing stopping you from adding that bit of detail to your homemade gifts. It’s those little extras that add to the presentation. It’s totally okay if they look handmade; that’s the point.
All week, this week before Christmas I plan to post something we still have time to make. This candy is just like the one that comes in the pink tin and has the word Almond in front of the word Roca. That said, and not wanting trouble I will now refer to it as Toffee Roca. It’s really so simple and honestly, you might already have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen. I did.
Here’s the recipe along with a little step by step showing the batch I made the other day. By the way, it goes great with Kahlua.
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup (or more) ground almonds (can opt for ground walnuts)
1 large (3-4 oz.) chocolate (preferably dark) candy bar (or chocolate chips in a pinch)
1 cup sugar
Add sugar to butter and cook on medium heat. Bring to rolling boil and cook 5 minutes. Add almonds boil for at least 5 more minutes. Stir constantly; timing is important, it should be golden brown. **see note below**
Cool in fridge until hardened. This won’t take long. While it’s cooling, break chocolate into a measuring cup and place cup in a pan of near boiling water to melt.
When chocolate is spreadable and toffee is hardened work quickly to spread chocolate over toffee. Sprinkle with the ground nuts while chocolate is still warm. Work in sections to spread a little, then sprinkle. Place back in fridge for a few minutes chill (maybe 5 minutes)
Flip over. It doesn’t matter if it breaks when you’re turning as you’ll be breaking it into pieces anyway. Repeat chocolate and nut process so there’s coverage on both sides.
Who wouldn’t like to get this for a Christmas gift?? Don’t make it too far ahead or you won’t have it to give away; you’ll have eaten it!
**Note: When you’re stirring the sugar butter mixture it often takes longer than the 10 minutes suggested. This batch took at least 15 minutes. Keep stirring; the mixture will change texture and become almost fluffy. Keep stirring. It will begin to change golden, but keep stirring (get it??). When it really is golden brown remove from heat and proceed to the next step. This is the only hard part (and it’s not too bad).
With Christmas just over a week away there’s not much time to pull together a complicated handmade gift. People often say that it’s difficult to give a gift to someone who’s creative. Personally, I love receiving gifts that involve a little work on my part. Even when I was a kid I liked the kits, sets and puzzles that lasted longer than the opening. When I’ve received a gift of yarn or fabric I think of the person who gave it to me with every stitch. You’d be surprised if you walk into a fabric or yarn store and ask someone to help you pick out a gift for your creative friend. There will be all kinds of ideas and the receiver will appreciate the effort. With that thought in mind, here are a few ideas that I think will help you satisfy your creative friends while tapping into your own creative side.
Food items can be made in an evening to give the next day. A loaf of wonderful banana bread baked in a new pan makes a useful and tasty gift. They’ll think of you every time they bake a loaf of bread. Here’s my favorite recipe (be sure to include it with your gift!).
Got a dog lover on you list? How about a basket or bowl of dog items? Pull together a new leash, chewy, biscuits, cute picture frame and maybe a good book for day hikes. Wrap it all up in a big dog bowl or basket. Don’t forget a movie they can enjoy together.
For that person on your list who has everything, consider gifts she or he will use up during the year. We don’t always buy wonderful soaps or lotions for ourselves, but receiving them is great fun. I found a beautiful selection at one of my favorite shops, Peggy Sunday’s. The soaps are wrapped in beautiful papers and smell delicious. They come with their own matching soap dish. Perfect! Peggy also has an awesome selection of candles, dishware, barware and loads of lovelies. Truly something for everyone.
For the cook in you life; who doesn’t need more olive oil? Remember The Oilerie for a wonderful selection. They have recipes and ideas on how to use each oil. A bottle or two in a basket lined with a new dish towel and you’re all set. For extras, consider artisan salts and herbs tucked in with the bottles. There are wonderfully handmade cruets and bowls. Need more? Maybe a beautiful apron or napkin set.
Cook baskets are great fun to do. How about cupcake tins with sprinkles and liner papers in fun colors. Add a brightly colored spatula and you’re set. For an extra pop, add a cookbook. Sweet!
For that guy who’s hard to buy for, consider a movie night basket. Depending on how much you want to spend you can do this in a couple of different ways. One fun idea is to get a couple of DVD’s, a fuzzy, warm throw and a jar of popcorn. A bit less expensive idea is to purchase a gift card from the local movie theater and wrap it with a couple of candy bars. Christmas and date night in one gift.
A stitcher in your group of friends? Most fabric stores have a wonderful selection of what are called ‘fat quarters’ (18” X 22”). It’s fun to pick out companion fabrics and they’re the perfect size for a pillow front (buy 2 matching for the whole pillow). Look for a pattern for pillows or a table runner and you have a simply perfect gift.
Most knitters love to get yarn. There are beautiful hand dyed yarns out there for socks and small projects. Of course the yarn shops have patterns and books to include with the yarn. A few of my favorite local shops are Twisted, Knit Purl and Close Knit. You can even go to Ravelry, an online knitting community for free patterns and ideas. With a free pattern and a beautiful skein of yarn you’ve got the perfect thoughtful gift for a knitter.
See, you can be creative even if you don’t think you’re creative. It’s all about looking at things in a different way. Think of how pleased your recipients will be when they see themselves reflected in the gifts you’ve chosen. Have fun with it!!
Welcome to my first ever contest. I made these cute dish towels and decided to give them away! I feel it’s a nice way to thank you all for reading Janet’s House. I wish I could send one to each of you but a drawing will have to do for now.
I went shopping for supplies and found 100% cotton dishtowel fabric at one of my favorite fabric stores, Bolt. I went down the street to Collage and picked up a few supplies for this project and the next one.I decided to make the dishtowels with a Janet’s House design and had fun using the printmaking skills I learned in the Collage class I took earlier this year. I carved quite a few little houses; I hope you like them.
To enter the contest, all you need to do is leave me a comment by next Wednesday (12/14 at noon PST) and I’ll randomly draw two winners. I’d love to hear what you think or where you think the blog should go. A favorite?? Something you’d like to learn?? Where do you live? Any ideas for me?? Your thoughts?? Remember: The comment has to be on the Typepad blog page, not Facebook or email. Even if you’d just like to enter and have no particular comment, you can just say “enter me” or “I want to win;” anything! good luck!
So, Happy Holidays to everyone from Janet’s House!
I’ll post the winners next week!
The Kahlua has been sitting on my counter waiting and mellowing for today. A cold crisp day that called for a late afternoon cocoa. A splash of Kahlua and a peppermint stick proved perfection.
There’s still time before Christmas to make Kahlua for gift giving, entertaining or your own personal needs. Get a few jars and bottles out. You’ll need vodka, sugar, a vanilla bean and espresso powder. Check the recipe right here. A lovely way to stay nice and toasty.
I think this is a great project for anyone on a tight budget. Thrift stores are full of ‘nearly new’ shirts that will make perfectly great recycled artistic gifts. We picked up a few old shirts at Goodwill and a fresh bleach pen and had such fun enhancing our finds.
We practiced on an old shirt to see how much detail we could include. Writing is a little tricky, you must keep it big; tiny script won’t work. Easiest designs were long vines, hearts, sunshine and of course a peace sign.
I suggest having a few sketches handy. Put down a plastic tablecloth and keep a paper towel handy for wiping the end of the pen occasionally. We also found a toothpick worked well to pop any air bubbles.
Take your time to work slowly and keep a steady hand. It’s difficult to do anything other than draw free hand because chalk or anything else would compromise the application of the bleach. Let your work set for about 10 minutes before rinsing. You can watch to see how bleached out you want your piece.
We worried that we’d have trouble with the bleach running into the unbleached areas of the shirts when rinsing, but we didn’t. We worked quickly, rinsing with a steady spray nozzle.The green shirt above is very dark so after about 10 minutes I washed it and the bleached area turned a beautiful bright green. The striped shirt with its bleached peace sign surprised us, turning the coolest shade of reddish pink. It looks so retro.
Have fun with this! We have all kinds of ideas. How about a pillow slip with sweet dreams or Goodnight. Maybe names or nick names on Christmas shirts. Have fun!!
We were looking for fun socks for Christmas gifts. My daughter checked the local stores. Nothing fun, especially for men’s socks. We got on the internet and checked the typical department stores. Zero! She decided to type in ‘crazy sock stores in Portland Oregon.’ Up popped this fun shop just a few miles from our house. Every kind of sock from crazy to cashmere.
Who doesn’t need a pair of socks as a gift or for their own holiday wardrobe fun? You really can find something for everyone in one fun shopping spree.
There are boot socks, over the knee socks, lacy socks and warm socks. There are socks with robots, socks with fish, socks with frogs and socks with chickens. There are socks with all ten toes and socks with no toes. Socks for dancers and socks for walkers.
My apologies to Dr. Seuss; I couldn’t help myself. Check out Sock Dreams when you’re doing your Christmas shopping. They ship all over the world, so even if you don’t live in Portland, you can still get your crazy socks. If you do live in Portland you’ll be shopping local, Yay!!
And don’t forget, tomorrow is Small Business Saturday! A great idea!!
Really…something for everyone! (hint)
Years ago I was trying to come up with a gift idea that my kids could give my mother. She did a bit of needlepoint and both kids enjoy drawing so I had them draw a few flower ideas. We chose our favorite four and I then transferred the designs to needlepoint canvas.
It’s really fairly simple. For this example please excuse my childish drawings and enjoy finding the perfect artwork from your children’s collection.
Tape the picture to the window, then tape the canvas over top.
The background daylight will project the design and all you have to do is trace around the design with a permanent marker.
No need to color in the canvas. The original drawing is the guide.
It’s a fun way to give a gift. Add the yarns necessary to complete the project and include fabric, and the promise to finish it as a pillow. Box it up with a sweet note from you and the kids.
This project has always been one of my favorites for bringing all three generations of us together for a gift that will last for many years. I think most grandmothers would love this interactive gift. It might also be a fun collaboration between grandma and the grandkids for mom.
Here’s our three generation original, circa 1998
Kahlua is fun to make for the holidays, whether you keep it for serving guests or offer it as a sweet hostess gift. I got this recipe from my mother years ago. Friends and I have made it many times and it’s continually proved to perfectly compliment cookie making or gift wrapping on Christmas eve. My favorite way to serve it is with half and half over ice, becoming the perfect coffee milkshake.
Here’s the recipe. It makes about 6 cups so have your bottles clean and ready. Get started so you’ll have 3-4 weeks curing time.
2 cups water
4 cups sugar
4 oz. instant espresso powder (I use Medaglia D’ Oro, found at most grocery stores)
1 vanilla bean
2 cups vodka
Bring water to a boil. Add espresso. Remove from heat, stir to dissolve coffee. Return to low heat. Stir in sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely. Split vanilla bean length and crosswise. Drop into bottles. Stir vodka into sugar mixture. Pour into bottles. Cure 3-4 weeks, turning bottles every few days.
Napkins are fun to make and can be as simple as hemming a square of fabric. One yard of 54” fabric will give you six 18” square napkins. How fun and what a lovely gift to match napkins to someone’s kitchen or dishes.
After purchasing your choice of fabric, spread it out, iron and cut six 18” squares. Press 1/4” under on all four sides, making corners nice and tidy. Press under another 1/4” and pin. Stitch a nice straight seam all the way around. There, you’re done!
Presentation is important, so go to the trouble of finding a nice box and tissue paper. Press, fold and tie a beautiful ribbon around them. Now you’re ready to give a lovely gift that friends will certainly appreciate. For a little extra, add a fun spatula or whisk. For the more grand gift, add the ribboned napkins to a new casserole and include your favorite recipe.
These are simple, fun to make gifts or ornaments. Bead shops are full of wonderful collections of beads and all the necessary supplies to make this small gift.
I hang my sun catcher in the window to catch the sunlight and often cast a sweet rainbow across the room. Using more typical holiday colors, you’d end up with a lovely ornament for the tree. Make a shorter one (or several) to attach to a gift.
You’ll need a large prism, filament, and a couple of crimp beads to hold it altogether. For tools, a long slim needle and a pair of needle-nose pliers. Bead shops are full of people to help. No special classes; this is too simple.
Check out your local bead store or dig into your stash. You may already have everything you need to get started.
Simple! This is the easiest thing to make and it is a lovely little gift. I love vanilla lattes but I am not willing to pay the price. Vanilla sugar makes a sweet addition to my morning coffee and I’m not using one of those questionably artificially flavored additives.
How about a jar of this sugar, a pound of great coffee and a beautiful new mug for your coffee drinking friends? Include a sweet ceramic creamer for fun. Easy, thoughtful and they’ll be back asking you if you’ve got a cup of sugar they can ‘borrow’.
Super easy step by step:
I like to use pure organic cane sugar. I purchase a vanilla bean or two from the bulk section (way way cheaper than the spice aisle). Slice the bean the long way, exposing the sweet vanilla seeds and pulp.
Cut it into several sections and add it to a jar of sugar. That’s it! I shake it every few days and it just gets better and better. It’s ready to use immediately but will continue to mellow.