Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cute Miniature Yarn Stocking Hats

In these cold days of winter, it's great to have a warm stocking cap handy before you head outside. These miniature versions of your favorite cold-weather gear are perfect for gift giving and for decorating.

All you need is yarn, some cardboard tubes and a pair of scissors.

Cut each tube into several rings, no more than 3/4 inch wide.

Then cut the yarn into 10-inch lengths. You'll need about 50 of them for an average cardboard tube.

Fold each in half.

Put the loop end through the ring.

And tuck the ends into the loop.

Pull it tight. The knotted side will be the bottom of the hat's rim.

Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Work your way around the entire ring, keeping them tight and close together.

When you're done, you'll have created a jellyfish.

To turn the jellyfish into a stocking cap, hold onto the knots and tuck the loose ends of thread up through to the top of the ring.

Ok, it still looks like a jellyfish. Maybe even more so now.

Cut one more length of yarn and double-knot it a little more than an inch above the rim.

This will hold the yarn in place and help create the pompom on top.

With the knot secure, trim the ends into a rounded pompom with a sharp pair of scissors.

Make them in a variety of colors for both Christmas and winter decorations. They're the perfect size for putting in a stocking, tying to a package or tucking into someone's purse or pew for a special surprise.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sweet Little Bundt Cakes

What better way to enjoy the Christmas season than with a pile of iced lemon bundt cakes? There's not one, so stop thinking about it.

If you don't have a mini bundt cake pan, you can probably find one (or six) at your local thrift shop. For some reason people are always getting rid of perfectly wonderful baking pans. So silly.

Mix up a packaged cake mix or make your favorite recipe from scratch. Then fill each cavity about half full. This will reduce the puffiness on the underside of the cake. Start by baking them at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, adding a little more time if necessary.

To make the drizzle, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar, 3 Tbsp milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp lemon extract in a bowl. Add a little more powdered sugar or milk, depending on the consistency you get. Spoon into the hole in the top of the cake first, and then drizzle over the sides. Place them in the fridge in an air-tight container to set the icing.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Denim Pocket Ornaments

Never throw out old denim. Don't send it to the thrift store. Don't even hide it in the back of the closet thinking you might be able to wear it again someday. Instead, upcycle it into beautiful Christmas ornaments.

To make these hanging pockets, you'll need glittered ornaments from the dollar store, metallic thread, sturdy wire, a hole punch, small pliers, a pair of scissors and a sewing needle.

Start by arranging your pockets and ornaments by size. You'll want to fill up as much of the space as possible.

Then trim off all the excess denim and frays from around the edge.

Using the matching metallic thread, hide a few stitches around the ornaments. You might need several to keep it in place and secure the edges.

Large pockets can easily fit two ornaments, while smaller ones look better with just one.

Punch holes in the top two corners.

Cut a good length of wire, enough to curl at the ends.

Fold the wire in half and it will create its own loop. Thread the crossed wires into the two punched holes.

Use a pen or pencil to wrap the ends of the wire around, and then use your small pliers to fold in the cut ends.

This coil of wire will keep it securely on the pocket.

Now you have a hanging loop as well.

And there's the finished ornament. 

Now you can use these clever pockets in place of stockings, or you can fill them with some special surprises for Christmas morning. Each one can be personalized for the recipient by changing the decorations on the front. Consider initials, monograms or favorite colors and themes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Turning Your Garden Decor Into Christmas Decor

As soon as November rolled into December, I was ready to get out the Christmas decorations. Maybe I wasn't ready to string up outdoor lights or play carols on the radio all day, but I was definitely ready for a little sparkle and shine.

By taking these garden shepherd's hooks that my dad gave us, I was able to put up a few decorations outside without going full-blown all at once.

Molly was definitely ready to help, although sniffing and drooling didn't do much to further this project.

I spent $10 at the dollar store to get decorated bows and two-tone reflective balls.

Everything you put outdoors needs to be tied on securely so it doesn't end up in the next county at the first gust of wind. Double- and triple-knotting helps this.

As do ornaments that already have clasps and attachments built in.

So each hook has a bow and a ball.

Then comes the worst part for me - spreading them out evenly across the front of the house. I have absolutely no depth perception, so Danny will probably come home and straighten them.

In the meantime, there is all kinds of sparkle to begin the Christmas season.

 Look around the house and garage to see if you might have some gardening supplies that might make great decorations, too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Family Christmas Recipes Paper Bag Album

Make this year's Christmas dinner an event to remember by making a paper bag album dedicated to your family's favorite recipes. We may never gather together like this again, so this year take time to have everyone write down the recipes that everyone loves so much. Then you'll have them all in one place for future reference.

Start with four plain brown paper bags.

Fold each one in half and crease it really well.

Then alternate the open ends back and forth so the openings and the folded bottoms are spread evenly throughout the pile.

When you finish this part, it should look something like this.

Before you do anything else, cut paper to fit each full page, flap and partial page. It's much easier to put all the paper on first before you go back and embellish.

Use index cards for your recipes, matting each one on coordinating card stock. 

Only tack down half of the card on the sides with flaps, like the left side pictured here.

Then punch holes through the entire book and add large book rings.

Print out a title from your computer's word processing program or use letter stickers, punched letters or any other favorite technique for your cover.

Now you can go back through and embellish to your heart's content. I used punched candies from a piece of glittered, patterned paper.

Leave some of the pages blank in case you want to add pictures or longer recipes.

Attach ribbon to the inside of each bag's opening with tape. Then tie on smaller pieces of index card and slide them into the bag. You can use these for photos, memories or additional recipes.

Finally, add your favorite fibers to the book rings to cover them and make it even more festive. I used curling ribbon, like you'd use on Christmas packages, and cut each one extra long so there would be plenty for curling.