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Instagram Photo A Day – December

Instagram Photo A Day – December

When I finished my Sketch Every Day 365 project in 2011, I knew I wanted to remain in the habit of being creative on a daily basis, which is what I loved most about the challenge of making or doing something every day for a year. I saw that a few of my IGer friends were participating in a daily photo challenge and I thought it would be fun to get on board and try it out. After all, I’m on Instagram constantly each day…I’m sure I could find a minute or two to post a daily picture. No pressure..this is just something for fun, if I can keep up with the daily challenge, great…if not, no biggie. I’ve had a lot of fun and it has become my 365 project for 2012. I haven’t missed a day yet! Blogger, social media editor and Instagram star, Chantelle, of Fat Mum Slim, created the photo challenge and the lists that a lot of IGers I follow have been using for the challenge. I started in January. Here are February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November … and below is my Photo-A-Day collection for the final month of my participation in the challenge….December, 2012. And so this concludes my second 365 project! It was so much fun…so inspiring to see other IGers perspectives on the prompts and to share...

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DIY Paper Scrap Decorations

DIY Paper Scrap Decorations

I work with paper every day, so my extensive collection of scraps, leftovers and remnants should be of no surprise. Actually, it’s getting a bit out of control. Decorative papers are taking over just about every room in the house. I save it all, with other projects in mind. My husband has (jokingly, I hope) threatened to call “Hoarders”…or that we need a paper intervention…haha!  I use a lot of pretty metallics and interesting textures and patterns that I just can’t bear to throw away! Even a little strip of any one of these papers would make a lovely embellishment or could be repurposed into something else. Now that my holiday card orders are fulfilled and in the mail, I decided to make use of some of the scraps for last minute decorations and gift wrapping. I had some help from my little “elf” and together we quickly made these easy decorations and gift wrap with paper scraps and materials we had around the house. The only tools needed were a glue gun, stapler and hole punch....

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Homemade Holiday Goodies

Homemade Holiday Goodies

Homemade gifts for the holidays are, in my opinion, the BEST. Whether it’s a plate of baked goods, a painted ornament, or a cozy knitted/crocheted scarf…gifts that are handmade come from the heart. There’s something about the holiday season that makes crafting and baking for our friends, family and neighbors such a comforting and rewarding activity. It’s a gesture of appreciation and friendship that doesn’t cost a lot of money…just a little bit of time.  And the giving of one’s time is the best gift of all. In the past, I’ve made candles, hand-painted ornaments, personalized stationery sets, and even tried to make a fruit-infused liqueur one year (it tasted like cough syrup…but the packaging and labels I made were gorgeous…haha). A couple of years ago, we gave out fresh eggs and Mama Kat’s hollandaise sauce. Those were a hit! This season is usually very busy for me with holiday card orders (and I’m not exactly the most skillful in the kitchen), so for the past few years, it’s my husband, Aaron, who does the baking and cooking (I’m in charge of packaging and the kids do the door-to-door deliveries). This year, I actually baked a few items for our annual cookie exchange with my sisters, Mary and Julie, and our friend, Allison. Aaron was out of town on business, so I managed to make Nana’s Pumpkin Bread, Iced Molasses Cookies, and Peanut Butter Nutella Fudge as my contributions to the exchange. Then I packaged them up and the boys passed out the platefuls of assorted cookies to some of our neighbors. When my husband returned home from his trip to the Bay Area (where he stayed with his parents), he mentioned a delicious Roasted Tomato Spread that his mom had made. The tomatoes are slowly oven-roasted and become a flavorful sauce to spread onto bagels with cream cheese, sandwiches, bruschetta or crackers. It’s a recipe from her sister (Aaron’s Aunt Booie) and super easy and inexpensive to make. His mom was planning on making jars of it to give out as gifts. Aaron wanted to try making it at home too…and I thought it would make a wonderful hostess gift to bring to the holiday parties and dinners we were invited to. With a bag of bagels and a small tub of cream cheese, the tomato spread would be an easy “go-to” breakfast for the recipient the next morning, after a busy evening of hosting a party. Here’s a step-by-step photo tutorial for the Oven-Roasted Tomato Spread. All you really need are about $5 worth of ingredients and a few hours of time. Packaged in mason jars with leftover wrapping paper (I used kraft paper or strips of white woodgrain-embossed paper leftover from a holiday card project), baker’s twine and a fun label…and you’re all set with a homemade holiday gift. Following the Oven-Roasted Tomatoes recipe, I’ve included links for the delicious Rum Balls and amazing Salted Butter Caramels that my husband also made to give out…and the FREE printable labels that I designed…so you can jazz up your own homemade gifts! Thanks, Nana Sue and Aunt Booie, for the yummy recipe!   Now for the Rum Balls and Salted Caramels…my husband uses these two recipes and they’re soooooo darn good! We’re lucky if any of these make it out of the house to our friends. I could eat them all myself! The Rum Balls are an Emeril Lagasse recipe from Food Network. The caramels are my favorite…the recipe is very slightly modified from David Lebovitz (Aaron uses a little bit of brown sugar and Himalayan pink salt). Below is...

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Egg Crate Christmas Tree DIY

Egg Crate Christmas Tree DIY

We’re spending Christmas at home this year (we’re usually in the Bay Area with my husband’s family for the Holidays), so I’m trying to get into the spirit of things by doing a little decorating around the house. Not a lot, just making do with stuff we’ve collected over the years and materials I already have here. I’m in the middle of my busy holiday card production season, so I don’t have a lot of time to fuss with decorations (or blog about it for that matter), but I’m trying to make things somewhat festive around here. My kids are really excited about getting the house ready for Christmas and all the fun (inexpensive or free) activities we can do together as a family at home. Considering that it’s only the first week of December, we’re on a roll! Here’s what we’ve done in just a few days: 1. My boys helped decorate the tree last week… 2. We put up some white lights, paper and tinsel garlands around the house… 3. On Saturday night, the boys participated in a lighted bike parade… 4. Our mischievous elf (Zack) showed up to join the fun… 5. The stockings were hung up on the mantel… 6. We started watching Christmas movies and having homemade hot cocoa and cookies… On the agenda for this week: 1. The boys want to make mason jar snow globes and cake stand winter-scapes (like these we saw at Anthropologie)… 2. We plan to ride our lighted bikes around the neighborhood to check out Christmas lights (we’ll also go for a drive around other neighborhoods, maybe pick up some burgers from the In-N-Out drive-thru for a “light-viewing” snack)… 3. I have my annual holiday baking/treat exchange with my three awesome sisters (Mary,  Julie and Allison) this weekend… 4. I wanted to make some paper cone Christmas trees as a simple and cheap decoration for the mantel, using some of the pretty gold handmade papers I have in my collection. As I was cleaning up the kitchen last night after dinner, I noticed these egg crates in the recycle bin and it occurred to me that maybe I could make the trees out of these instead…so I gave it a go. First I rolled them into a cone shape and punched holes to connect the sides using twist ties. I folded the bottom in to form the flat base of the tree. Then I spray painted them gold and added some glitter on the “branches”…finishing them up with a little bling using self-adhesive rhinestones leftover from a wedding. I sat them each on a square vase wrapped with the gold paper I was originally going to use for the cone trees…and that was it! While I was at it, I hot glued some gold-glittered pine cones onto glass candle stick holders from Dollar Tree. I’ve had these things in the back of a kitchen drawer forever, and since they were only 50 cents a piece, I figured it wasn’t a big deal to turn them into mini pine cone topiaries (it’s not like they were being used to hold candlesticks anyway). Other ways to decorate the egg crate tree: 1. Hot glue gun buttons, beads, acorns and small pine cones, leaves, cotton balls or pom-poms; 2. Use a battery-powered string of mini lights, small tinsel or ribbon garlands, and pin on mini ornaments; 3. A dusting of epsom salts, micah flakes or artificial snow onto spray adhesive or Mod Podge would make the trees sparkle with the look of freshly fallen snow; 4. Poke holes and use as...

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Instagram Photo A Day – November

Instagram Photo A Day – November

When I finished my Sketch Every Day 365 project in 2011, I knew I wanted to remain in the habit of being creative on a daily basis, which is what I loved most about the challenge of making or doing something every day for a year. I saw that a few of my IGer friends were participating in a daily photo challenge and I thought it would be fun to get on board and try it out. After all, I’m on Instagram constantly each day…I’m sure I could find a minute or two to post a daily picture. No pressure..this is just something for fun, if I can keep up with the daily challenge, great…if not, no biggie. I’ve had a lot of fun and it has become my 365 project for 2012. I haven’t missed a day yet! Blogger, social media editor and Instagram star, Chantelle, of Fat Mum Slim, created the photo challenge and the lists that a lot of IGers I follow have been using for the challenge. I started in January. Here are February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October…and below is my Photo-A-Day collection for November,...

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