It’s the little details of the holidays that always get me. Presents prettily wrapped. Finding the perfect dress to wear on Christmas Day (or finding one stuffed away in a box and rediscovering it!), buying the yearly ornament, crafting up little bits and bobs to decorate the house or myself with… I’ve been toning down things a bit here so I don’t get too exhausted by the frenetic pace I tend to keep up right before Christmas. (which is laughable, I know–humor me and my delusions), so I’ve been focusing on little projects that are easy to tackle in an evening or less.

First up was wrapping! Now granted, we don’t have a ton of recipients for gifts. Nor do we have children yet, so I can do coordinating presents and not worry too much about my wrapping not being appreciated. lol. I really like making packages pretty–it’s something I do for occasions other than Christmas and for Etsy purchases. I also like doing it on the cheap. Which doesn’t mean tacky and shabby of course; it’s amazing what I can throw together that reads “holidays” but uses a lot of supplies I have around the house already. This year I went for a simple scheme using brown kraft paper (already had), red and white baker’s twine (stash), red and white stars (punched using a hole puncher I picked up at JoAnns, but the paper and string were in the paper box) and simple round gift tags I made. The punched and strung stars may look a bit complicated, but they weren’t that time-consuming–just a bit fiddly. I do like the finished look though–and hope the recipients do too!

Now after that little jab at tacky, I do have a few things to show you that do border a bit on tacky. I can’t help it–I do like a bit of gaudiness and kitsch during the holidays; bright colors and a smattering of glitter always seem apropos! But it’s not something I usually gravitate towards, so I though I’d kitsch-things-up for myself this year with a couple glittery headbands and a sparkling deer. Don’t laugh… my sister already did when I told her what I had done. lol. The headbands were inspired by this gorgeous one that Erin sported last week (which looks far better and somehow normal on her than me!), and just consisted of headbands I covered (using my tutorial) and stitched some glittered foliaged I picked up on sale. Easy!

The reindeer brooch is kind of a tradition for me. A couple years ago I bought a bird ornament after Christmas and turned it into a necklace. As someone of acquaintance at the time astutely observed: “only you would go around wearing a bird as a necklace!”. True, very true. In the spirit of my adoration of slightly madcap accessories, I found this sparkly reindeer ornament at JoAnns last week. A few snips to remove the hanger, a bit of hot glue and a couple of good-sized pin backs (yes, it needs two), and voila! Instant Christmas brooch. I shall revel in my tackiness and gleefully embrace it until January 2, when all my gaudy things go back into hibernation until next Christmas.

Have you been working on any little holiday projects? Do share!

December 16, 2010 · 51 lovely thoughts
posted in creativity,holidays · tags: ,

If you followed along with my holiday madness last year, you know that I adore Christmas and this time of year. It also means that I get to go a bit wild (or more so than usual) in the kitchen, as I delight in making long lists of goodies to bake for the purpose of giving to friends and family as gifts. After I got married, I started a tradition of cookies and at least one candy-type item in the mix. This year it’s about four types of cookies and a new-to-me candy that I’m super excited to make. But more about those next week… This week I’ve been baking and preparing to decorate cookies. I’m having to start about a week before I normally do (yes, I know some people start even before now, but I tend to wait a bit!), but that’s because my holiday schedule is such that I won’t have time later.

The first cookies I made were traditional sugar cookies. I always try to do these since I have such fond memories of making them with my mom and sister each year. I remember not only how tasty they were, but how much fun I had decorating them–despite things getting a little wild with the sugar glitter and red hot candies sometimes! I think that is partly why I still like making them (aside from just loving a good sugar cookie): I get to decorate them. While I haven’t done that yet (it’s on the schedule for this weekend), I have been gathering up supplies like gel paste food coloring (which gives a deeper, richer color to icing than the commonly found liquid coloring), delicate sugar glitters and white pearl candies (both from my favorite bake shop: Bake it Pretty). I stuck with a smaller assortment of cookie cutters this year, keeping with the simple shapes that I remembered being the most fun to decorate last year. Now just to decide on what colors to mix up…

For the cookie recipe, I used the same one I baked last year. Although this year they had the homemade vanilla in them, which Sailor Husband swears makes a huge difference. He said they tasted just like the cookies he remembers getting at bakeries on Long Island, NY when he was little (and this is after trying an un-iced cookie!). So that’s a good sign! This weekend I have several other types of goodies to bake, so hopefully next week I shall have some other recipes to share.

For packaging I’m planning on using some Martha Stewart boxes I got at the craft store. I was planning on using tins, but couldn’t find any that I liked and weren’t $5 each (once again, I’m on a teeny budget for Christmas stuff this year!). So a coupon and trip to Michael’s were what sealed the deal for me with these. Plus they’re pretty cute and red and white. I’m also including hand written “menus” in each. So I guess that infuses a little bit of DIY into the mix with the premade boxes!

So the house has been smelling heavenly and the air has been full of Christmas music. Because what is holiday preparations without the appropriate tunes? I’ve been listening to a bunch of remixes on 8tracks, but would love to know: what is your favorite holiday music to get you in the spirit?

December 10, 2010 · 31 lovely thoughts
posted in holidays,in the kitchen · tags: , , ,