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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cinnamon, Applesauce and Elmer's Glue Ornament Tutorial

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Does Christmas have a smell at your house? It does at mine.


It smells like pine, and balsam. 

Like Vanilla and Cinnamon and all of the other wonderful spices used in holiday baking.

This year, in my kitchen, it smells like cinnamon...and applesauce...and ELMER's GLUE!!!
 

My holiday "baking" has taken a slightly different turn this season. I'm making cookies that smell wonderful...

you might even say that they smell good enough to eat....but don't! 


There are several different "recipe's" for these ornaments on the web but this is the one that I like the best

(it came from the Elmer's glue site):
  • ½ cup + 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cloves
  • ½ cup applesauce (this is the size of a single serving pack)
  • 3 Tbsp. Elmer’s Glue-All
TIP: Buy your spices at the Dollar Store so you don't go broke making these cookies!



Be really careful with these...especially if you dry them on a cookie rack. Children of all ages will mistake them for real cookies....trust me.....

Even college kids...who will take a big bite...and chew for a minute before making a horrified face and spitting it into whatever is nearby...tissue, napkin, trash can....

I think that the paint must be a little tough to chew.....at least it's non-toxic...of course so is the glue...but I still wouldn't recommend eating it!


I find that it's safer to put ribbons through them as soon as is humanly possible..and them move them to the dining room table...on bubble wrap....

that seems to be a better visual aid or clue that they might not be edible!

Of course, hanging them on the tree also helps....


Instructions

In a medium bowl, mix cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add applesauce and glue. Work mixture with hands for 2-3 minutes, until dough is smooth. Divide into 4 portions. Roll out each portion to 1/4" thickness. Cut dough with cookie cutters and make a small hole in the top of each with a toothpick (I use a straw).  Place cutouts on a wire rack to dry at room temperature for several days, turning once each day for even drying.  When dry, thread string or ribbon through the hole in each ornament. You can also use whole cloves as decoration and for additional scent. Makes about 32 ornaments, depending upon size.

 NOTE: These are NOT edible.

Information and alternatives:

  • It's helpful if you roll the dough out on a mat or a piece of parchment paper which has been sprinkled with a little cinnamon
  • The dough should be smooth and slightly damp. If it's too dry, add more applesauce, too wet, add more cinnamon.
  • I decorate my cookies using white acrylic "puffy paint" that is made for decorating T-shirts. you can also use small beads, regular paint, and clear crystals to look like "sugar".

They smell wonderful, make great tags for home baked goods and are a cute idea for a "take home" gift if you're hosting a cookie exchange!

If you'd like to see more of the tree, go here

Happy Holidays!

xo,

S

Monday, November 28, 2011

Here comes Santa Claus

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Polk Brother's Santa, back right.

It started years ago with a single, "Polk Brother's" Santa (Above, back left side).  He's as tall as I am and was a promotion from 1960 through 1966 at an appliance store in Chicago during the holidays.  Many people who grew up in Chicago and the surrounding towns remember him.  He's fragile now, he's made of hard plastic called "celluloid" through a process called "vacucell" which predates the blow molds that are still manufactured today.  He has lost his base and has hot glue seams holding his feet together but  to me, he's lovely. He's got "history", like most of the things that I love. He tells a story.... about the time when I grew up. 
He stood, for one Christmas season, alone, in my dining room window. Beautiful, but sad.  Then, at some point, I told my brother, Tom, about him. 

I'm thankful that I have a brother who shares not only my parents, my sister and my last name but also my passion for all things "vintage" and for collecting "stuff".  Over the last few years, my brother has helped me to build (actually, he probably found more of them than I did) a "collection" of vintage Santa's that now numbers more than 30. 

They are all "vintage" (predating the 1970's). They adorn every window in the front (and most of the side) of my house. Several stand in the vestibule to my front door.  This year, my friend, Ann, gifted me a 5 foot tall vintage Santa to add to the collection.  Here are a few photos of some of my favorites:


The inside of my home is still not decorated. Maybe this weekend?!  This is the ONE Santa is in place in the foyer.

I'm off to work!

xo,

S

Friday, November 25, 2011

Behind the scenes - Thanksgiving Tablescape.

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As promised, here are the details of the table scape posted yesterday:




Table Cloth: two 9x12 PAINTER's DROP CLOTHS (yep, that's right, folded them in half, put them on the table) - they came from our local paint store and cost $9 each.

Table Runner: Men's suiting fabric, hounds tooth wool. Closeout at Joann's $3.99 used my Merry Moolah coupon for $5 off my purchase of $25.00 so the table runner and a ball of jute were FREE
Had enough left over to make a runner for the sideboard and wrap 14 votive cups for individual centerpieces at each place.


Wood Chargers: These were a challenge at first but I found out that anyone with a steady hand and a chainsaw can make them.  Traci at Whimsy in Morris has a guy who will do it. I found a really nice man named Tim who owns a mill in Yorkville that will do it and I found out that I can actually do it as well. 

Vintage Brown and White Transfer ware Dinner Plates: Borrowed from my friend, Ann at Nellie's. They were PERFECT...and although priceless, they were FREE to borrow.

Small Bread Plates: Purchased at the Goodwill on a Tuesday during customer appreciation and got a 20% off scratch off. They cost 35 cents each. Total $4.90

Candlesticks, teapot, candles, silverware, glassware, votive holders, napkins:  From my collection.

Centerpiece: Old, wooden shipping crate gifted to me by the same friend (Ann) who loaned me the dishes.  She waxed it brown, I added 4 men's belts from Goodwill ($0.99 each), dried hydrangea and dried flowers from my yard, a couple of nests that I had on hand, some lotus pods, pine cones and dried artichokes (also on hand)  I purchased greens, tallow berries, 3 "quails" and 5 magnificent turquoise hydrangea. Total investment for an incredible centerpiece that I'm going to redo slightly for Christmas as well as the 14 individual place setting pieces: about $40.
Jute Tied Napkins with Leaves:  Punched out the leaves at Archivers. Bought 3 sheets of card stock, used their die cut machine at no charge: Cost $1.50.

Total investment? $68.50 and while that is a significant amount of money, the dropcloths, plates and table runner are all reusable and I was able to set a table that made an impression that will last a lifetime for my family and friends. 

I spent today cutting down the last of the garden and raking the last of the leaves (16 barrels and bags full...it took me all day!) Tomorrow, I'm planting tulips for next spring. Then, it's on to Christmas Decorating!

P.S. Yes, we removed the centerpiece during dinner. It's probably taller than the "ideal" would be but it is PERFECT for me!

Have a wonderful weekend.

xo,

S

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

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It starts when we're young.  Older adults shape our lives. They teach us about love...and gratitude. In some of my very earliest memories, I was taught to say "please" and "thank-you". It's a basic concept for most of us.  Human decency, kindness, thoughtfulness. I like to think that I do a pretty good job, most of the time, remembering, to express my thanks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's beginning to look alot like HOLIDAYS!!!!!!

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Sorry I've been "absent". I've been in "full on decorating" mode and have to work through end of day Wednesday this week. 

I'm picking up the wood "cookies" (slices of tree trunk to be used for chargers on my Thanksgiving table) today so I should have photos of the table to share tomorrow. If not, I'm in serious trouble because Thanksgiving is 48 hours away. In the meantime, here are pix of my family room mantel and the materials and first part of the staircase.




Base lighted garland from Costco 10 years ago. Hhomemade pine cone wreath, reused burlap bows from front door autumn wreaths. Black Metal lanterns close-out from TJ Maxx 8 years ago. Added "frosted garland.
Same base, Costco garland as is in the family room (10 years old, still works!). Added a few larger pine cones: some painted and some "flocked".

Plaid ribbon 50% off at Joann's. Styrofoam balls wrapped with men's plaid shirts (Salvation Army/Goodwill) or fabric. Dollar Store bells. burlap, plastic ornaments 90% off at Kmart last year, Red "velvet" ribbon (you can find it at Hobby Lobby or Joann's but mine came from a hardware store called Wannemakers).



Happy Tuesday!

xo,

S

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Deck the Halls with Homemade Ornaments. Simple instructions.

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In keeping with last week's theme of Christmas, I thought that I'd share a few of the ornaments that I've made so far this holiday season:

The heart and mitten ornaments were cut from ivory and beige flannel that was leftover from a prior project and hand stitched along the edge with a simple blanket stitch using embroidery thread. I added a little tulle and some pearls for sparkle and stuffed them with leftover quilt batting.  The ice skate is a die cut ornament that I made at Archivers. They allow you to use their die cuts at no charge so long as you purchase the card stock from them. Which I did, using their "buy 3 sheets, get 3 free" coupon. After it was punched out, I glittered, "sewed" the laces, and glued on a pompom. Any of these look great on the tree and also make really cute package tags or add-ins.


Clear glass balls from the craft store filled with 1 tablespoon Epsom salts and about 1/2 teaspoon of glitter to make "sparkly snow", vintage sheet music that was cut cut into 3/8 inch strips using the Martha Stewart scoring board (you could also cut by hand, using scissors or a straight cut shredder) and then curled around a pencil. I still wasn't satisfied with how they looked (yes, it's true, I can't leave well enough alone), so I printed the titles of some of my favorite Christmas carols, cut them into banners and added them to the inside as well.  Once that was complete, I topped them off with a snippet of organdy ribbon and a pearl or jingle bell.



Bird's nests to which I added reindeer moss, eggs frosted with clear glitter and mushroom birds (also frosted with a little glitter).

I've got others in the works including 3 dozen "gingerbread ornaments" (made from apple sauce, Elmer's glue, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves and Allspice and decorated with puff paint) for a customer who intends to use them as favors for her cookie exchange as well as some clay tags that are a special order for another customer  but I need to spend a day or two finishing up the centerpiece and place card holders for Thanksgiving!  

xo,

S

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Behind The Scenes" info on the Living Room Makeover

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I thought that I'd share a little behind the scenes "scoop" on the elements that make up the living room that I shared in Saturday/Sunday's post. For the "untrained" eye *wink*, the following may not be obvious:

Items in living room that were purchased at Goodwill, Salvation Army and Garage Sales:
All small, green, Christmas trees, silver coffee pot, green and white porcelain lamp (and the table that it's sitting on), sweaters and lace for pillows in the window seat, vintage silver Christmas tree, chenille "tree skirt", oval mirror, milk glass vase, white Christmas tree candles, small silver candles, lace doilies, white and silver ornaments, fireplace screen, tall blue/gray basket and the vintage lantern on the hearth) (I happened to have the silver candlesticks and the ice bucket but I've seen scads of both at both GW and SA).

Items that I made myself (or that Ann and I made): Pillow covers from book bags (no sew), pillow covers for the pillows on the sofa, yarn and jute wrapped balls on coffee table, burlap wreath on coffee table, family tree on the side table, "snow balls" on the mantle, embellished grape vine balls on the mantle, large "artwork" behind the sofa, knit throw on the sofa, burlap ball ornament and embellished angel cutout on the side table, white wreath from coffee filters and glittered pine cones in the opening to the fireplace, white painted branches for the "artwork" and the basket near the fireplace, ice skate cutout on the side table, jingle bell pillow on the window seat (don't look too closely, it's not finished).

Items that were "free": Small side chair,  basket near fireplace with logs in it (curbside finds two years ago); Great Grandma's sofa (from my parents' basement); coffee table, magazine rack and floor lamp (inherited);  lace "throw" (tablecloth) from my Grandmother, Birch logs, Pine cones, White Xmas sign (a gift from my friend, Laura, at B & B's Nest).

Items that came from Hobby Lobby or Michaels: Angel on side table, clear glass balls, grapevine balls.

So, as you can see, most of what makes up the room was either free, homemade or purchased at a "thrift type" location;  proving, once again, that you can make rooms beautiful on a budget. 

I'm working on Thanksgiving tablescaping today. Here's a hint: so far, it involves a painter's drop cloth, an old wooden shipping crate and borrowed dishes.....details soon.

xo,

S

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When is a half hour not 30 minutes?

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NOTE: see Monday's post for details and a "behind the scenes" update.


Let's see....when last we spoke, I had been painting the living room for 5 days, right?  I thought that it was going to take ONE weekend. Apparently, I have no sense of time.

For example, my friend, Ann, came to visit this weekend. Sometime around 9 a.m. today, we were looking for something that we couldn't find because we couldn't walk into my studio to get to the table to see if it might be there but I should probably back up a little. 

Our intent,this weekend, was to crawl (literally, through a 2 foot tall door) into the storage room and get out the tubs of Christmas decorations which are hidden behind the guest room closet, safe from anyone who might try to throw something way (given that I live in a house full of men, I don't feel that I probably need to mention names). 

However, I was still painting when Ann arrived at noon on Friday so, after finishing the painting, rehanging the drapes, moving the two ladders and rearranging the furniture for probably an hour in four or five configurations that involved moving of chairs from other rooms and taking furniture up the flight of stairs to my bedroom, we finally settled on a furniture arrangement at around 9 p.m. and started looking around for ANYTHING holiday-ish that we could use to decorate because, candidly, my back was sore and my feet hurt (probably from painting on the ladder in bare feet, but I digress) and I couldn't really even think about crawling into the cold, unheated, room and pushing the 30 or so tubs and boxes of stuff out to Ann because when we got them out, we would probably spend the rest of the evening trying to get out of the guest room.

Instead, we used the silver things that I bought at the flea market and a bunch of stuff that was hanging around in the dining room, leftover from the barn sale and we put THIS together:


Believe it or not, this decorating was done without unpacking a single box from the storage room. But more on this fact in a moment.  Today (Saturday),  around 10 a.m., we thought that we were going to finally get out some boxes and start decorating the family room but after I tried to get to the container in the studio where I keep the burlap with Ann watching (with a horrified look on her face) from the doorway of the studio, I tripped over a basket full of yarn and almost impaled myself on the loom. Ann said to me, "Hey, how about if we just take a half hour and clear a path so that you'll feel better about decorating?"  So, I thought "What the heck, it's just a half hour, I've got someone who knows the difference between fabric glue and hot glue who's willing to help me sort through some of the "clutter" (and I use that term VERY loosely), so sure, why not?"  We realized, after the first hour of cleaning that we hadn't taken any "before photos" so, I ask that you imagine what this looked like before two women spent 60 minutes "organizing" (yep, that IS a 33 gallon trash bag that is about 1/2 way full after the first hour).

As I write this, it is now 11:45 p.m., yes, that's P.M....approximately TWENTY-SIX actual half hours (or ONE "Ann" half hour) later, however, I've gotta say, we got one heck of alot accomplished in that half hour. This is how my studio looks tonight (yes, it's dark outside in the "after shots").



Tonight, I actually walked all the way to the windows on the far side of the room in the dark and I didn't even hurt myself!

Meanwhile, we still haven't gotten any of the tubs out of the storage room but we DID manage to make a really cool piece of "art" for the wall behind the sofa using a huge canvas that has spent a year "waiting for inspiration", some branches that I had painted white last year, some fishing line and a couple of plastic snowflakes. After I spent an hour describing various ideas ranging from burlap bows to pinning my wedding dress on the frame (yeah...not at all as lovely as I thought it would look), we searched Pinterest and Google Image, we looked at lace, tablecloths and even considered stretching fabric over the darned thing when Ann said to me, "Why don't we just put those sticks on it somehow?" and I said, "Ya think?"...so we found fishing line and some thumb tacks and some wire for the back of the canvas...and about a half an hour (an ACTUAL half hour...thirty minutes) we high-fived ourselves as we hung this behind my sofa:

























Branches are held on the canvas using fishing line woven through them so that I can use the canvas for something else after the holidays.
Total cost the entire living room "remodel" $38 worth of paint and a $6 birds nest.  We haven't unpacked a single box of Christmas decorations and it's the end of another day. Just imagine what we'd have gotten accomplished if we had worked for an hour! ....Ah well, maybe I can talk her into staying for lunch tomorrow.

Felted Sweaters and Lace Doilies covering pillows.
Linen shopping bag stuffed with  pillow form. Handles cut and tied into bows.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Time change, STILL Painting, and Flea Market Treasures.

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Wow, the time change has me confused this year. Never in my life has it affected me like this. I've been wide awake since 3:45 this morning, waiting for it to get light outside so that I could paint a little before going to work. Yep, that's right, I'm still painting. Champagne  over moss green will NOT cover in one coat no matter what it says on the paint can.  And yes, that's the side of a painting, still hanging above the fireplace, because I decided not to try to lift it down  by myself while standing on the ladder. I may be a little sleep deprived, but I do have limits *smile*.


On the plus side, I spent some time at Kane County Flea Market this weekend with Polly and Steve from Counting Your Blessings and where, after spending a few hours helping rearrange things as they sold items from their booth, and after looking at it a few times but not opening it, at the end of the day after a woman walked away from it,  I got an INCREDIBLE vintage steamer trunk with leather straps, buckles and the bottom wheels intact as well as...are you ready for this?.... THREE layers of the original interior trays still inside and in wonderful shape! I didn't really need a second steamer trunk after I got my first vintage beauty at the barn sale but I could not pass this one by and, since I have two sons, I'm certain that they won't go unused. Photos soon as it is still in the back of the car waiting for me to clear a path to bring it inside (see "still painting" reference above....sigh).

I also got to see Traci, from Whimsy in Morris, and Mark from Room 363 where I found some fabulous  "vintage" silver garland, a small tree and a wreath that will be combined with existing metallics, neutrals and vintage pastels in living room (at least that's the plan).
I found Diane Passi and bought an amazing vintage lobster basket that I've had my eye on since late summer, to use as a wood holder for the family room fire place. On second thought,  but it might be better suited for some burlap, fresh greens and birch logs for the holidays. That's yet to be determined.



As if all of this weren't enough, I was delighted to find the ladies from Carters Cottage (one of the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Stockists in my area) who "brought their store" to Kane for the weekend so I was thrilled to be able to buy Annie Sloan Old White and Country Grey that are being applied to my living room tables, sofa table and two stools between now and Thursday night. I didn't have to make a trip to DeKalb and I saved shipping! 


There are days that I wish I didn't have a full time job but then I realize that I'm blessed and that without it, I likely wouldn't be doing this. It's Monday and I'm functioning on a combination of caffeine and adrenaline but I'm going to finish painting the living room tonight!

xo,

S

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What I'm doing with my "spare" time this weekend

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Let's see.....
1) Halloween decorations down and safely stored away until next year? Check.
2) Corporate job under control until Monday? Check.
3) Custom Order Christmas Ornaments Complete and delivered for Sale at Kane County this weekend? Check
4) Dear Friend, Ann's visit to help decorate for Christmas now 5 days away? AW GEEEEZZZZZ!

For the first time in my life, I'm going to have the luxury of having a girlfriend help me decorate for Christmas!!! Don't get me wrong, having to coerce two adolescent males and a husband to haul boxes, hold ladders and be an extra set of hands (or three) while I decorate certainly does exude SOMETHING...although I'm not certain that I'd call it "holiday cheer".  Imagine it, having someone who shares my love of all things "repurposed", vintage lace, a good curbside "pick", cheap wine, pizza, shopping, etc. Top that all off with the fact that we've known each other for most of our lives and she's coming to spend the night!?!?  THIS, to me, is BLISS!

So, with only the garden to cut down, leaves to rake and figuring out how to get my hair cut and colored to cover the gray that has recently begun to appear enhance my skin tone, am I spending my time pulling out the boxes and planning clever vignettes? Am I prepping any number of potential craft projects that we could get accomplished during her short stay? Nope...I'm not...I'm painting the living room.

My house was new 10 years ago. I had the good fortune to be able to choose the very first coat of paint that went on the walls and I still LOVE the color.  It's just that after 10 years raising 2 sons who are now in high school and college as well as a now 13 year old yellow lab who spent her "younger days" jumping up to sleep on the window seat, my living room is, although still pretty, a little "tired". 

My decorating is going in a slightly different direction these days and I've decided that with little more than a gallon of wall paint, a couple of quarts of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and a few things that I'm moving around from other rooms in my house,  I'm going to give my livingroom a makeover (quickly, before Ann arrives at the end of the week).
Here's what it looks like now:




The sofa and chair belonged to my great grandparents. They spent years in my parents basement and I loved them even though they were dusty and covered in rose colored, torn and missing upholstery filled with what appeared to be a combination of horsehair and dryer lint.  I was THRILLED when my parents gave them to me, 22 years ago and immediately had them reupholstered in their current ivory cotton pin dot fabric.  That fabric has survived two boys eating ice cream and a dog so it's not going anywhere. 
The tables and lamps are a combination of things that I inherited or found along some roadside on trash night.  The piano belongs to my sons, it came from their grandfather when he died...because he knew that music was important to them and wanted them to have something more than the Best Buy keyboard on which they were learning piano.

The drapes and Rug are going to stay as well....so I guess that this will be a "not so extreme, makeover" but I'll leave that judgement  up to you.

Hopefully, there will be "after" photos next week.

Have a glorious autumn weekend! I've got the paint....and after a trip to the hairdresser and Kane county flea market, I intend to paint!

xo,

S