Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Word of The Year: Open

For 2017, I didn't do a word of the year. I generally don't do resolutions and 2018 won't be an exception, but in the past few years, I have done a word of the year so I have something to focus on and remind myself of a commitment I made at the start of the year, even when sometimes falling short of the intent. Maybe since I didn't have a word, that's why I felt adrift in 2017? Who knows.

At any rate, I did decide on a word for 2018 and that word is :

For me this means being open to new things...possibilities, opportunities, new people / places / things. I tend to be a creature of habit, don't love change and have a tendency to stay in my comfort zone. But this year I want to be more open...more spontaenous, risk more, not have it all laid out before I start. Oh boy! 

Anyone else have a word or a phrase of the year they want to share? 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

BFF Open House Link Party : Farewell 2017

Hard to believe that we are at the end of 2017, but here we are. Thank you all, old friends and new, who have made coming to my little party a part of your weekly activities. I truly enjoy seeing all of your inspiration and creativity and appreciate you taking the time to share it here. 

Wishing all of you, my wonderful "Chocaholic" followers, health, happiness, and continued creativity in 2018! 

Whether you're going out or staying in, here are some ideas from last week's party that are perfect for New Year's Eve! 

Let's start with this festive Creamy Apply Mocktail (non-alcoholic) from Play Dates and Parties! Whether the adults don't drink or you want something kid-friendly, it's perfect. 

If you are looking for an adult beverage , Leslie's also got you covered with this Peppermint Mochatini cocktail and this

that Craft Beering shared on Leslie's blog. 

Of course you can't have cocktails ( or mocktails) without appetizers. These oney Sriracha Kabobs from Looney For Food look delicious. 

Ask Dr. Ho shared a recipe for a tasty Mushroom Herbed Cheese Bruschetta

And Baked Brie is always a great appetizer. This one from All That's Jas topped with nuts and cranberries looks spectacular.  

Whatever you're doing this NYE, stay safe and have fun! Now, let's see what everyone's been up to this week. 


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Handmade Gifts: Leather Earring Ensemble

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and is getting some rest now that the chaos is over! Sharing a project  I couldn't share before Christmas since it was a gift for my Mom.  She is what my son calls a "stylish Grandma" and loves to be fully accessorized and coordinated. 

I was busy in my workshop so didn't take a lot of pictures along the way. You never know where you will find supplies. I'd gone w/ my husband to a place he wanted to go, and lo and behold they had bags of leather scraps they were giving away for FREE! He mentioned to the guy working there "she's a crafter" to which the kind man said "oh then take two" so I have two bags of amazing leather scraps. 

I trimmed two pieces into leaf shapes for the earrings,  gold leafed 1/2 of each, punched a small hole at the top and added a strand of beads .

I used the beads from the same package ( a bead mix I picked up at Shipwreck Beads) (one of my favorite bead places in the world) to make the coordinating bracelet and pendant.  The bracelet is strung on Stretchy Cord. 

My habit of  "stash collecting" (aka picking things up with no particular project in mind) paid off because I had this antique gold pendant base in my jewelry making supplies and added more beads from the same collection to it along with pieces of coordinating chain. 

Happy to say that she loved all the pieces! 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Doodles

I've mentioned before that coloring is not as relaxing to me as doodling so I've been busy doodling this December. Practicing my video skills to improve upon in the New Year! 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

BFF Open House Link Party

Home stretch friends! Christmas is four days away. Are you presents all wrapped ( not quite). Are your cookies baked (not yet). Do you have last minute crafts you're making? (maybe). Tell me I'm not alone! 

There were some fun ideas shared at last week's party. Let's have a look at a few. 

Loving this frosted Christmas tablescape from The Red Painted Cottage. Whether you live in a snowy place or not, it's a great way to bring the outside in or bring some winter to your table. 

Simply September shared her gorgeous holiday pillow covers and the easy tutorial to make them. I used a similar tutorial to make pillow covers this year and was kicking myself for not doing this sooner! You can whip these up last minute or make a gift ( or pin for next year). 

Anyone else find men's ideas a challenge? Grandma's House DIY has you covered with a DIY Men's Gift Basket. 

Finally, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without chocolate and mint right? Mrs. Kringle's Kitchen shared these fab cookies! 

OK let's see what everyone's been up to this week!


Monday, December 18, 2017

TagMania! Gift Tags Gone Wild

Every year I make gifts of gift tags. They're something everyone can use, easy to mail since I have friends all over,  and a great way for me to use up scraps.  I love seeing these small bits come together and never really have a plan.  So far I've made 9 sets between Christmas and Hanukkah lol. I think I have a problem!

There is the traditional collection with lots of red and green ( or burgundy and cream) with some splashes of black that remind me of Santa's suit.  This year, I added tiny jingle bells to some of them. 

But since not everyone decorates in traditional colors, there are the contemporary sets with lots of bright colors and silver and gold. 

They're easy to package as gifts. Perfect for girlfriend or hostess gifts. 

They're perfect for when you find a bag of last year's tags and ribbon you saved because you're a maker and you re-invent things. 

They're great for when you saved a branch from the greens you cut from your yard to add to your Christmas decor and you get an aha moment and make a wall hanging in 5 minutes and you get to give your husband that look that says "you doubted me ? " 

OK my name is Carol and I think I may have a slight tag problem.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

BFF Open House Link Party

Yikes! How is it Friday Eve again already? Excited to have my son home from Grad School for the holidays. Already baked the first two dozen of several more dozen cookies to follow. 

Here are some great ideas it's not too late to whip up or pin for next year. 

Love these rustic and rusty ornaments from Artsy Va Va! Great additions to your tree or to make as gifts. Would you guess they aren't metal?!

Vintage holiday decorations are so special. Whether they've been handed down from older family members or found while thrifting, I think there's something so special about preserving them. My Thrift Store Addiction has some gorgeous ideas. 

Christmas cards are starting to roll in and Repurpose and Upcycle has a wonderful way to display them.

Finally, with my young man home for a couple of weeks, I see making these in my immediate future. From Craft Beering, Stout Walnut Brownies. YUM! 

Now, let's see what everyone's been up to this week! 


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Bucket List: Gingerbread House From Scratch

Something that's been on my Christmas Bucket List forever has been to make a gingerbread house from scratch. Why? Who knows. That's how I roll ( pun intended). 

I've had fun decorating the pre-made kits before but I just had this need to make one from start to finish. It was MUCH easier than I thought. If you can bake a cookie, you can bake a gingerbread house. 

  • Template
  • Gingerbread Cookie Dough
  • Royal Icing
  • Piping Bags / Tips
  • Whatever you want to use to decorate your house. I used candy wafers. 

I started by finding a template. I used the one found here: 

And of course you need dough. I used this recipe which I doubled  :

Here's how it went: 

I followed the recipe instructions and used a heavy hand on the spices. The dough was crumbly at first but quickly creamed up . 

Roll out your dough ( I don't know why it looks so dark in this picture) and then cut your pieces using the template. I rolled out thick pieces  for sturdy construction!

Bake per recipe and don't worry about flaws in your dough because that's what icing's for!

After all my pieces were baked, I let them cool for several hours. I made my royal icing ( per directions on meringue powder container) very thick. I wanted it to be able to support the front/back and sides and I could always thin it with a little water. Success! It stood up from the first two corners. 

I went around the sides inside and out with a good amount of icing. I also decided that I wanted to decorate the roof before I put it on. I planned on letting the pieces sit overnight so that the house would be very solid once I put the roof on. 

I decided to keep things simple since I was still unsure whether this was all going to come together. I did a diamond pattern with the icing, and I'd baked buttons from scrap dough which I topped with candy melts as shown. 

The roof pieces went on and the whole thing didn't cave in! Happy dance ensued ( away from the gingerbread house so I didn't accidentally smash it). 

While looking for ideas for my house, I saw that some bakers made little gingerbread vignettes. With some dough leftover, I thought I'd give this a shot as well so my house has a tree next to it. 

Place a glob of royal icing on your base, let set until firm but not hard, and then stand your tree up. I'm thinking next year I may do a few of these in lieu of a house. Or in addition to. OK let's be honest...definitely in addition to. 

I also made a door and a doormat and using more of the cookie buttons made a couple of wreaths. I used royal icing to attach which is what I also used to attach the candy melt decorations. 

All those years of being too intimidated to try this? Gone. So glad I did it. You never know until you try right?

Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Christmas Home Tour

I spent last weekend and last week decking my halls. Welcome to a little tour! 

Every year, I change things up on my mantel and this year I went for what I'm calling "Farmhouse Glam", incorporating the new "vintage" sign I made here.

I keep this vase on the mantel all year round but added some Christmas ornaments and a little sign I made a couple years ago that went with the theme. 

Collection of vintage looking glass and crystal Santas, trees, and snowflake ornaments, along with a Santa (tall skinny one) I painted at a paint your own pottery place years ago . The framed  "Merry Christmas" was a Pottery Barn knockoff from a few years ago made using a chalkboard printable and a re-purposed frame I painted with red glitter paint. 

I made the black and white trees a couple of years ago that were upcycled from trees I'd made a couple years before that. B&W will always be part of my decor!

We were lucky to receive this little white tree from my husband's uncle who moved to a smaller place this year. Knowing my love of Christmas, he felt it went to a proper home. 

One thing I'm adamant about is reinventing things to change up a look. Between DIYing much of my decor and making it over when I'm tired of it, I can get the look I want without breaking the bank.   

This year, I went a little crazy with greens from our yard which I kinda put everywhere. Shown here with some  eucalyptus I picked up at the grocery store and a large pinecone from the Christmas tree lot. 

Finally, finished everything off with a giant bow I made with black and red buffalo plaid ribbon that I got for 70% off at Michaels! 

For me, Christmas is an around the house thing and every surface is subject to Christmas decor. Here a vintage vase is filled with ornaments and epsom salt snow and finished with a bleached bottle tree. 

A corner shelf that usually holds a connection of milk glass gets re-purposed to hold a collection of Mark Roberts fairies and more ornaments. 

The entry way bannister is draped with fabric and tulle and home to more Mark Roberts fairies, along with a pair of skates, a reminder of the years I spent in an ice rink. Added more greens to the boot!

I re-purposed some ribbon and made bows for my entry way table which is home to my collection of Winter White Christmas items. 

I've collected Santas over the course of our marriage, including from places we've traveled. They all hang out together on the Santa table. 

Except this guy who sits in the entryway. Still one of the best finds ever. $30 at a craft fair I don't recall how many years ago but I still remember asking the vendor "Are you sure"? 

I haven't always decorated our bedroom but I did add a fresh cedar and eucalyptus swag to a mirror, along with some bows and ornaments to our lamps. 

Thanks for joining me on this little tour! Hope everyone has a fab week!