Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tutorial: Whimsical Mushrooms and Berries

Want whimsical, enchanting, different and homey?  Try your hand at making these little mushrooms and berries.  They're actually very easy to do with fantastic results.

The original idea came from The Storque-Etsy's Handmade Blog.  However, Allsorts  made some minor changes to come up with these:

Here are the step-by-step instructions to the Mushroom Tutorial.  Before you begin, read the below changes Allsorts made to the project.

"I created three different sizes and made longer stems. Instead of stitching everything together, I made liberal use of my glue gun, except for gathering the mushroom cap. Also, I wanted the mushrooms to appear to be "growing" onto the branches, so I hot-glued a bent piece of wire into the stem before rolling, leaving the two ends sticking out the bottom. Now the mushrooms could be wired onto the branches!"

She goes on to explain how she made the individual berries.  She bought berry stems from Joanne's and sliced the tape that held them together.  Each berry is attached to an individual wire.  After cutting the tape, she separated all of the berries.  Then, she bent each wire over a pencil and hung on the tree. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snowman Gift Jars

I love Christmas All Year.   This is an exceptionally active Yahoo Club.  I can't really say I post many entries.  It's not often when I do.  Most of my time is spent reading all the emails and ideas that are shared between the members...and it's A LOT!  I can't keep up with them; but, it's so much fun.  A true treasure trove.  Here is one idea shared by a member.

Snowman Gift Jars and it looks really easy to do!  The only change I would make is the hat would be longer and drape by his little neck.  Maybe, even a little sparkle pom pom to give it some pizazz.  I would still use a little spray glitter...not too much.  You wouldn't want anyone eating glitter off their fingertips after diving into the goody jar.  I am a self proclaimed "Spray Glitter Queen" when it comes to holiday decorating.  Can't help it.  Love it.

These make perfect parting gifts, gifts for the office, neighbors or anyone!  Placed in a nice little blue bag with white snowflake stickers, some curly ribbon, and you're good to go!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tutorial: Arctic Snow House

Here's an adorable little house to add some sparkling fun and decor to your holidays!  Since I'm always thinking about recycling, I picture using the milk or juice cartons and cutting them down to size to make the house; but, use whatever makes you most comfortable.  In this tutorial, a styrofoam block is cut into the appropriate sizes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The End of The Gingerbread Man

Well, almost...last week, I read London bureaucrats previously passed a ruling to rename the "Gingerbread Man" to the "Gingerbread Person" for 400 primary schools.  Upon hearing that "Gingerbread Men" were no more, parents were astonished and outraged.  Due to the negative response and feedback these officials received, as of early last week, they reinstated the cookie's original name back to "Gingerbread Man".  Thank goodness, "Gingerbread Person" just loses its touch
for delivering that warm, holiday feeling.

Who says things won't change if we speak up!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tutorial: How to Make Christmas Crackers that Pop!

Tutorial of the Christmas Cracker

Ohhh, how I remember these fun gifts as a kid!  Every year, I would always ask for them at Christmas.  It was never the same without them.   They bring a special magic that people of all ages love.  There were always smiles all around, just anticipating that POPPING sound!  Then, the goodies spilled out!  Yay!  Since they bring so many special memories, I looked up how to make them and found a very easy 3-minute tutorial on You Tube by House To Home.  Check it out.

History of the Christmas Cracker

How these splendid little treats came into play?  Well, they were created by Tom Smith who was a baker, sweet shop, and wedding cake ornament maker in London during 1847.  He was always looking for ways to market his baked goods.  One year, in 1940, he traveled to Paris in search of new ideas and discovered the bon bon.  This was a sugared almond wrapped and twisted in tissue paper.  When he returned to London, his version of bon bons were very successful during the Christmas Season.  

After Christmas, like all companies, business slowed down.  To try to rev up business again, he started putting little slips of paper into his bon bons with romantic sayings on them. 

In time, other businesses picked up his idea and began successfully selling them, as well.  Once again, he thought about how to drive up sales and what he could do to differentiate himself from his competition.  On one of these evenings, he threw a log into the fireplace which popped and crackled.  That was the inspiration he needed to develop his bon bons further than anyone else had. 

It took two years, in 1860, before he found the right materials he could safely use in these treats.  During this time, he made further changes.  For instance, he stopped using sweets and started adding little gifts.  He also changed the name of his new creations from bon bons to "Cosaques’- named after the sound of Cossack horse-riders whips used during the Franco-Prussian war."

After his passing in 1869, his three sons kept up with this tradition; however, they made additional changes to the cracker design, mottoes and its contents.  His youngest son, Walter, is the one who stopped using love sayings and replaced them with sayings that reflected current events.  He is also the one who put the paper hat into these crackers.

What's inside a Christmas Cracker? 

Traditionally sweets, gifts, a joke, and a little paper hat; but, you can fill 'em with anything you wish.  Gifts can be inexpensive or filled with luxury items. Also, remember these fun crackers are not only for Christmas but can be customized for any holiday and occasion throughout the year.

Where to Buy the crackers (25 for $4.95) that make these little treats go POP!

The history of Christmas Crackers was found on Best Christmas

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tutorial: Christmas Joy Plaques

These are very easy decorations to make.  Full instructions can be found on Shanty2Chic. 

What I like about it the most, aside from their charming style, is they are very easy to customize for any holiday, occasion, and season.  They can also fit any home decor.   For instance:

Winter: Paint sky blue with white flecks.  Spell out Jack Frost, Chilly, Snowmen 

Easter: Lavendar or yellow with pink polka dots.  Spelling out Easter, Peter Rabbit, Chicks

Birthday: All different bright colors.  Spell out Wishes, Happy Birthday  

Or, instead of words, use pictures.  Cut images from fabric.  Or, scan photos into your PC, then print directly on fabric.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Join The Big Holiday Ornament Swap!

Sign up now for this really fun swap at The Big Holiday Ornament Swap!

If you send 3 ornaments in, you will receive 3 ornaments back.
If you send 4 ornaments in, you will receive 4 ornaments back and so forth and so on.

Go to The Big Holiday Ornament Swap for more details.  Still not sure, review the ornaments that were swapped in previous years.  Hopefully, we'll see you in this year's round!

All skill levels are welcomed.  Similar skill levels will be swapped together.
  • Choose to make 3-6 ornaments.  Let us know how many by signing up in the database.
  • Can be made from anything, except food or edible items.
  • Can use commercially made items as your base. Ultimately, overall design and creation must be predominantly yours.
  • No 3 ornaments can look alike.  We really need variety.
  • Tree ornaments - No bigger or wider than 6"
  • Shelf, wall, or door ornaments - Very reasonable size.  They must all fit in a box.
  • Make sure your ornaments are mailed and arrive by November 20, 2010.
  • You will receive your swapped ornaments the week of December 1, 2010.
  • Must include return postage, which is the same postage it cost you to send your ornaments. 
No popcicle reindeer, pompom snowmen, or similar ornaments of the sort allowed.

Need ideas? Review their free pattern files or come back to Mrs. Santa's Cottage for more great ornament ideas! Go to the library or scan the internet for Christmas crafts how-to.  Check out your bookstore or local newstand; and, don't forget your holiday boutiques to spur up some creative fun!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tutorial: Ornament Inspirations from the Sea

Hello, dearies!  Mr. Claus and I are back again for another season of joyous fun! Although we have been up to our knickers in coming up with new decorations, recipes, and toys for everyone!  Thankfully, we have a lot of assistance from all of our elves; but, we're always looking for more hands to help!  Good deeds can never have too many!  Any-hoo, here are some from one of our very talented elves...

Want to savor those warm summer days or remember a special time spent at the beach or perhaps a vacation you took to an island?  What to do with all the shells collected along the shore as you strolled with the rippling water cascading over your toes?  Here's one idea from Martha Stewart's Christmas Workshop.  Turn your tree into a gift from the sea with these simple to make ornaments.  Just a little glue, glitter and a few other items to jazz 'em up for the festive season is all that is needed.  Click on each link under the 6 photos for the instructions.

Don't stop here!  Have a star fish?  Or a plastic toy fish?  How about a treasure chest or diver from an aquarium?  Do the same thing.  Glitter everything in sight!!!  Add small rhinestones and beads from the jewelry aisle of the crafts or bead store.  Better yet, search ebay for some real deals on these supplies.  Mind you, you will continue to find glitter in your hair, on your eyebrows, and everywhere else waaaay into spring!  But that's okay.  It will blend in with all the Easter decorations you'll be creating!