Thank You One And All

Fireworks
Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe an entire year has gone by. They seem to come and go more quickly than the last. I just wanted to pause for a moment to say “Thanks” to all my readers and followers for taking the time to read, like, and comment. I realize how precious your time is and appreciate your feedback.

Sparkler Light Bulb
The New Year will be filled with projects and topics to spark your creativity and inspire arts and crafts to share with friends and family.

New Year's Snowman
May 2020 bring you Happiness and Love. May all your dreams come true!

Happy New Year & Happy Crafting!

Baking with Love for the Holidays

Hot Chocolate & Cookies for Santa
Santa Claus isn’t the only one hoping for some holiday goodies. We all love dessert. If you get a head start on your baking, you’ll have plenty to share with your family and friends throughout the long holiday season. Baked goods make great gifts too.

Assorted Butter Cookies
Butter Cookies
Butter cookies are finger licking good. For variety, dip some in chocolate, fill with fruit, or place a colorful layer of fondant on top and pipe on a few decorative flourishes. If you are pressed for time, many bakeries offer ready-made cookie platters.

Fruit Filled Cookies
Fruit Filled Cookies
All you need to make these festive red and white cookies is two round cookie cutters – one small and one large. Layer two cookies on top of each other, with strawberry, cherry or raspberry filling, to make this sandwich cookie. The bottom cookie is solid, while the top cookie has a small cut out in the center. Shake powdered sugar on top for a beautiful bakery finish.

Fudge Brownies & Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Brownies & Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Brownies are a favorite any time of year, and instead making chocolate chip cookies, try using cinnamon chips and cut the cookies into heart shapes.

Almond Crescent Cookies
Almond Crescent Cookies
This classic butter cookie will surprise you with its unexpected almond flavor and they’re great for dipping in your coffee or tea.

Vanilla Cupcake with Cream Cheese Icing
Christmas Cupcake
The simplicity of a vanilla cupcake contrasts nicely with the rich, sweet taste of cream cheese icing. Safety Tip: Holly and its berries are poisonous. Use an artificial holly garnish.

Coconut Rum Balls
Coconut Rum Balls
These sweet, crunchy delights should be refrigerated overnight for maximum flavor.

Petits Fours & Eggnog
Eggnog & Petits Fours
Petits Fours are the perfect marriage of cake and candy. Fondant icing is actually candy used to cover bite size cubes of yellow, sponge or pound cake. While the fondant is still wet, decorations can be applied using piped icing, or a sprinkling of either candy or nuts. As an added burst of flavor, jelly or butter cream can be spread over the cake prior to applying the fondant.

Gingerbread Stars & Hearts Cookies
Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
These gingerbread cookies are decorated with a thin coat of light green frosting, patterned with white icing and sprinkled with sugar for a frosty appeal.

Traditional Gingerbread Cookies
Traditional Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread cookies are very popular treats this time of year. Decorating is easy with the icing tubes, sprinkles and candy pieces available at most grocery store.

Gingerbread House
Gingerbread House
For a more challenging project, gingerbread kits come in a number of varieties, such as cookies, houses, and villages, and include all the necessary candies, icing, and yes the baked gingerbread too. The whole family will enjoy building and eating their creations.

Hanukkah Donuts
Jelly Donuts
Deep-fried jelly donuts sprinkled with granulated sugar are a delicious part of every Hanukkah celebration.

Cherry Cheese Tarts
Cherry Cheese Tarts
Most people love cheesecake. These tarts have the delicious flavor and they’re finger foods as well. You could purchase ready-made mini piecrusts and make your own filling. They can also be made in a cupcake pan. Line the pan with paper cupcake wrappers. Drop a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cupcake. Pour in your filling and bake. After they cool, top with cherries or strawberries and enjoy!

Christmas Pudding
Christmas Pudding
Also known as Plum Pudding, this traditional Christmas dessert takes 5 to 10 hours to steam. The aromas of the fruits and spices wafts through your home while it cooks.

Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie
With a filling made from eggs, butter and brown sugar, pecan pie is an addictively sweet dessert, which will leave you begging for more. For a rich caramel flavor, use dark brown sugar.

Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake
In case you didn’t know, red velvet cake is actually a moist rich chocolate cake with lots of food coloring to create that ultra rich shade of red. For those of you who avoid artificial coloring, there is a cocoa available with a natural reddish brown color. The icing and filling is cream cheese.

Yule Log
Yule Log
A spiral design is the hallmark of this impressive dessert, but it’s easy to make, and will melt in your mouth. Bake the cake in a jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper. After baking, lay the cake face down on a towel. If necessary, trim any ragged edges. Starting with a long side, roll the cake in the towel and cool completely on a wire rack. Unroll and remove the towel, and lay cake flat. Spread the filling over the top within 1/2” of the edges. Suggested fillings include whipped cream, pie filling, and pudding. Carefully roll the cake and place it with the seam side down on a platter. Coat the exterior with chocolate frosting and use a fork to create the bark patterns along the length of the log.

There are so many recipes to sample. Don’t worry about gaining that holiday five pounds. There will be plenty of time to work that off shivering and shoveling snow during the cold winter months to come.

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

DIY Christmas Ornaments

Kermit the Frog
In search of the perfect Christmas ornament? Found it!

DIY Ornaments
If you haven’t found what you were hoping for, create it yourself! These clear Christmas balls don’t look like much in the box, but let your imagination soar and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Assorted Christmas Balls
Metallic trim, fabric paint, glitter, and self-stick rhinestones are just a few of the possibilities to transform those plain plastic or glass balls into treasured ornaments for the tree.

Ornaments
At its most basic, color is usually the first decision. Plastic balls usually only come in clear but glass ones come in clear as well as assorted solid colors. To add color to a clear ball you have two options: 1) Apply paint to the exterior using a roller; 2) Pour paint inside the ball, drain the excess and allow it to dry upside down overnight. Applying paint on the inside preserves the reflective sheen on the exterior.

Striped & Plaid Ornaments
Ribbon and glitter provide sparkle and attractive patterns on these red ornaments.

Gold Spirals Ornament
Create a geometric pattern of your choice using glue and then roll the ball in glitter. After it dries, lightly brush off the excess and it’s ready to hang upon the tree.

Gold Star
This star got its sparkle by applying a layer of glue over the entire surface of the ornament and then rolling it in gold glitter.

Christmas Balls
You can fill clear ornaments with anything small enough to fit through the top, including beads, leaves. confetti, ribbon, seashells, sand, and flower buds.

White Textured Ornament
Create texture using fabric paint. After the paint dries, spray the entire ball white and follow it with a spray of textured spray paint for a snow-covered effect.

Snowman Ornament
This snowman was hand painted onto a red ball. If painting is not your strong suit, purchase self-adhesive decals from the paper crafting section to achieve the same look.

Sequined Ornament
Maybe you prefer a little glitz and glam. If so, sequins are your best bet.

Rhinestone & Glitter Ornaments
Silver & gold are a very popular color combination. Paint a metallic silver base layer. For the stars, apply glitter while the paint is still wet. Self-stick gold rhinestones were applied to the ball after the paint dried. As an alternative, you could use rhinestone studded trim to wrap the Christmas ball.

Bows & Flowers Ornaments
Ribbons and flowers make beautiful tree ornaments. If you like the look of snow, you can add crystals to the edges of flower petals as shown above. The Christmas ball is adorned with tiny bows.

Tim Burton Ornaments
If you love Tim Burton’s movie, Nightmare before Christmas, these two familiar characters will bring a sense of mischievous humor to your tree. Use metallic paint for the base coat applied with a roller to avoid brush marks. Use a black Sharpie pen for the details.

Red & Gold Ornament
Glitter, patience, craft glue and a very steady hand are all required for this challenging delicate pattern. To simplify the process, use fabric glitter paint, which provides color, glitter and three-dimensional patterns in one easy step.

Icy Ornament
A few quick sprays of snow in a can will create this icy looking Christmas ball.

Sequined Flower Ornament
Overlap large no hole sequins, also known as paillettes, to create this flower-shaped ornament.

Silver & Gold Ornament
Spice up a plain gold ornament with silver glitter vertical stripes.

Midnight Forest Ornament
Use gold glitter fabric paint to create this forest of evergreen trees and stars in the sky. For extra texture, apply additional glitter to the trees while the paint is still wet.

Red & Gold Ornament
This ornate pattern could be created a couple different ways. The simplified version could be achieved using a metallic gold sharpie pen. Another option is using gold ribbon for the thick horizontal lines, followed by thin glue and glitter. Green rhinestones are glued at the intersections as shown.

Rainbow Sequin Ornament
This rainbow ornament was made using a styrofoam ball, sequins and lots of pins.

Beaded Ornaments
Red beads in several sizes provide rich juicy looking color. The white ball has a combination of fabric paint, powdered “snow” and some scattered tiny silver sequins.

Ombre Ornament
An ombré paint technique followed by the application of clear snow crystals gives this ornament the look of a frosted peach.

Blooming Rose Ornament
Silk flowers inserted inside the clear glass ball appear to bloom. To keep the flower in place, you may need to apply a small drop of clear glue using an extra long cotton swab or skinny craft stick.

Mosaic Ornament
Mosaic ornaments are quite beautiful. You could also use seashells or pompoms to create a similar look without the need for cutting any pieces to fit.

Trim & Glitter Ornament
Rows of tiny sequins and braided white trim form the pattern on this striped ball.

Holly Ornaments
These three-dimensional holly designs were created using fabric glitter paint, followed by loose glitter while the paint is still wet. It may require two coats to build up the thickness on the outer edges of the leaves. The inner sections of the leaves have green glitter. Glue red or green rhinestones on as berries.

The holidays are an excellent opportunity to exercise your creative muscles. By designing your own ornaments, you’re guaranteed to have a uniquely stylish Christmas tree featuring some of your best work. As your collection grows, they’ll become heirlooms with a lifetime of memories. Enjoy the creative process. You’ve got this!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

Holiday Table & Decor

Indoor Decorating
Decorating the interior of your home for the holidays can be an overwhelming task. With entertaining, overnight guests, and gift buying, it’s a very hectic time of year. If you do a little at a time, and enlist the help of your family, you can create the festive atmosphere you’ve always wanted. Let’s get started with a few decorating ideas.

Christmas Poinsettia Wreath
Poinsettia Wreath & Garland
The first thing your guests will notice starts with the front door. A simple evergreen wreath comes to life with the addition of a few silk poinsettias. Real or artificial evergreen sprays can be hung on either side with coordinating red ribbon.

Fruit & Pinecone Wreath
Fruit Wreath
This unusual wreath consists of pomegranates, oranges, pinecones and flowers layered over an evergreen wreath base.

Jingles Bells Wreath
Wreath Jingle Bells
Bring the festive sounds of jingle bells into your home with this unique wreath. Every time someone opens the door it will sound like Santa has arrived.

Wine Connoisseur’s Wreath
Wreath Wine Corks
If you collect wine corks, this is the wreath for you. The layered pattern forms a beautifully textured wreath, but remains lightweight. The liquor bottle in the center is optional.

Hanging Evergreen Wreath
Hanging Wreath
A hanging arrangement is a beautiful and unexpected pleasure. If you are lucky enough to have evergreens and pine trees on your property, you’ll have most of the supplies you’ll need. Simply layer the greens on a wire wreath frame, insert battery-operated candles, and scatter about several apples and berries. A few cinnamon sticks will provide a sweet & spicy scent. Ornate ribbon will conceal metal hanging rods, or you can purchase decorative chains at home improvement stores.

Candle & Holly Centerpiece
Candles Centerpiece
Holly naturally brings in the festive colors of Christmas. A few candles and some pinecones complete this lovely centerpiece.

Glass Ball Candle Wreath
Glass Ornament Wreath
To make this colorful display, you could purchase a ready-made glass ball wreath, or buy a bunch of ornaments and use hot glue to assemble it.

A Study in Red & Green
Red Candle
Red is such an attention getting color. Red berries, green leaves and evergreen surround a bold pillar candle. The candlelight and white string lights lend a romantic atmosphere.

Fancy Metal Tray Centerpiece
Candle Tray
Using something you already own, such as a tray, is an inexpensive way to create something new. To complete the project, simply add colorful ornaments and a candle. You can easily use this centerpiece all year long by changing the contents to suit the season or whatever makes you happy.

Festive Table Settings
Christmas Table
Creating an attractive Christmas table doesn’t have to cost a lot. Alternating layers of green and red is the key to this festive setting. Fabric squares and colorful paper napkins provide contrast and texture. A red Christmas ball on top becomes a keepsake for each guest in remembrance of the occasion. In fact, you could write each person’s name with a metallic Sharpie marker and use the ornaments as place cards.

Neutral Palette
Neutral Palette Table
Textured white dishes are offset by gold flatware, gold chargers, and gold bell ornaments. Elegant white roses are an element of softness, while the crystal goblets provide the sparkle.

Sophisticated Contemporary
Contemporary Centerpiece
Sleek lines, reflective metallic ornaments, and indirect lighting are keys to creating this ultra contemporary holiday setting. The red pops of color draw the eye and the reindeer figurine adds a bit of whimsy.

Christmas Crackers
Christmas Crackers
Crackers are part of Christmas celebrations in several countries around the world. The red and white theme of this table setting is created with the tissue paper fans, white tablecloth and plates, and the metallic red foil crackers.

Ornamental Table Runner
Garland Table Runner
Table runners can be quite expensive, and may be difficult to find for longer table lengths. Make you own by using a real or artificial evergreen garland and some brightly colored ornaments,

Gift Box Centerpiece
Gift Box Centerpiece
Craft stores often sell sets of decorative gift boxes such as the ones shown above. Some include light woven inside for extra sparkle. After the holidays, the boxes nest within each other for easy storage.

Gift Tags as Place Cards
Gift Tag Place Cards
Place cards don’t have to be drab white. Purchase gift tags or make your own. The ribbon bow is a nice finishing touch.

Flower Power – Poinsettias
Poinsettias
Red, white or pink poinsettias are multi-purpose decorations. Whether you choose live or artificial plants, poinsettias make colorful additions to any room. To create a back to nature themed Christmas tree, silk blooms, pinecones and red berries can be used as ornaments.

Festive Red & Gold Fireplace
Fireplace
The fireplace is the perfect spot for relaxing by a cozy fire, and reminiscing about holidays past. Floral garland, red and gold candles, a Santa Claus statue and a pretty poinsettia provide a welcoming atmosphere, accented by stockings hung by the fire with care.

Display Collectibles
Nutcracker
At some point, most people acquire collections that never see the light of day. Collectibles, such as nutcrackers, snow globes, and carousel horses, can be artfully arranged on mantels or shelves to create unique holiday displays you’re sure to love.

Decorating for the holidays can be fun as well as entertaining. Each new item you create will become a treasured keepsake next year. Over time you will have an eclectic collection to be enjoyed for years to come. Let your holiday spirit guide your creativity.

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

Outdoor Holiday Lighting

Lights & Fireworks
The holidays are certainly a festival of lights. It’s fun to gather the family together for a drive around the neighborhood or visit a nearby town to simply enjoy the show. It’s a feast for the eyes and might cause a few chuckles as well. Before you venture out, here are a few ideas for outdoor lighting at your home.

Textured Oversized LED String Lights
Lights Faceted Blue
These large bulbs are reminiscent of old fashioned lights, but have the advantages of being LEDs and the textured surfaces create a sparkling effect.

Multi-Color Round LED String Lights
Lights Multi Color
LED string lights offer brilliant colors and unusually long life. The strand shown has a sleek, contemporary appeal.

Old Fashioned Christmas Lights
Old Fashioned Lights
These string lights have an old fashioned, rustic charm, and the long life of today’s best technology in LED lighting.

Icicle Lights
Icicle Lights
When they first were developed, icicle lights only came in short white strands. Today there are many colors and lengths available like the brilliant blue icicles shown above.

Oversized Lighted Orbs
Lighted Orbs
These oversized lighted orbs were made for display in large trees. You’ll probably need an extension pole or tall ladder to place them, but the starlight effect is well worth the extra effort.

Lightshow Projection Spinners
Decorative Spotlights
By now you have probably seen these special light effects on neighbors houses. Essentially they are created by a special spotlight projector, which changes colors and images as it slowly spins.

String Lights & Mini Trees
Decorated Flower Boxes
In the cold weather, flower boxes usually sit empty and forlorn. Why not bring them to life again with artificial evergreens and white lights?

Old Fashioned Metal Lantern Lights
Festive Lantern
This old style lantern and wreath bring pops of color to an otherwise snow-covered landscape. Candlelight is always warm and welcoming.

Landscape Lighting with Garlands & Bows
Lighted Gazebo
Christmas in the country is celebrated with evergreen garlands, red ribbons and hundreds and hundreds of multi-color lights. For bushes and fences, net lights can be tossed over the top and will look like you spent hours stringing lights, but all it really took was a few flicks of the wrist.  How easy is that?

Lighted Lawn Figures
Lawn Figures
Lighted lawn decorations come in an endless variety, including Santa and his reindeer, as well as more unusual characters, such as Jack Skellington, ice castles, and unicorns.

Lighted Christmas Gift Boxes
Lights Gifts
Lighted gift boxes are cute on a lawn grouped under a tree or with a reindeer pulling a sleigh.

Lighted Inflatable Figures
Inflatable Penguins
There are a multitude of choices when it comes to inflatables. People seem to have a love-hate relationship with these lawn decorations. At night they cheerfully grin at passersby, but during the day lying flat upon the ground, they tend to resemble laundry scattered across your lawn.

Tropical Tree Lighting & Lighted Lawn Figures
Lights Tropical
There may not be any snow in the tropics, but that doesn’t stop Christmas from coming. The lawn figures tend to be warm weather themed, and lighted palm trees are often lit all year long.

Chinese Star-Shaped Lanterns
Chinese Lanterns
If you happen to live in a warm climate, Chinese lanterns can be hung outdoors around a pool, deck or patio. Their soft light and perforated patterns really do call to mind starlight.

Unexpected Lighted Lawn Figure
Backyard Snowman
This time of year we tend to do so much for everyone else. It’s easy to forget about yourself. Why not treat yourself by doing the unexpected? One year we put a lighted snowman against a tree in the back yard. No one else could see it, but every time we walked through the dining room that smiling face brought joy to us all.

Elf Witch Project
Lighted Witch
Okay, so you’re probably wondering why the photo of a witch has been included in this post? Well, there is a very good reason. We all have decorations for different holidays throughout the year. This requires a lot of storage space, and that can often be a problem. Making a decoration multi-purpose is an easy solution. We’re going to turn this Halloween Witch into one of Santa’s Elves.

Red Fabric Hat
Step 1 – Wrap red, water-repellent fabric over the witch’s hat, and be sure to tuck the orange hair underneath. Secure it in place by tying it to one side with a piece of twine or red ribbon. Now you’re probably thinking it looks like a pirate! Stay with me for a few more steps.

White Trim
Step 2 – Tie white garland trim around edge of hat. Create a pompom by wrapping the same garland around the bottom point of the hat and secure with white ribbon or string.

Red & White Scarf
Step 3 – Wrap an outdoor scarf around the neck.

Candy Cane
Step 4 – Tie a plastic candy cane to one arm using a piece of string or ribbon.

Lighted Elf Witch
And voila! You now have an adorable lighted Christmas Elf!

Witch Elf Before & After
When Halloween rolls around again, simply remove the accessories and the witch will be ready to haunt your yard once again.

Lighting is the key element in any holiday décor. Choosing what to do is part of the fun. Get the whole family involved to make quick work of the decorating process. Some towns offer awards for the best holiday displays. Let the competition begin! Good luck!

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

Thanksgiving Décor Made Easy

Colors of the Season
Fall Leaves
Just about every family in the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. When you are the host of this annual feast, a lot of planning and preparation is required to ensure it will be a delicious and enjoyable occasion for all. The party starts upon arrival and ends when the last hugs are exchanged and tearful waving as the cars pull away with promises to come back again next year.

What kind of atmosphere do you want to create for this celebration? A few decorative items can really set the stage for your family feast. Let autumn’s colors, red, orange, green, and yellow, inspire your Thanksgiving décor.

Outdoor Decorations
Outdoor Fall Display
Seasonal gourds, corn and apples can be artfully arranged by the front door, or in a corner of your deck or patio. To ensure longevity, be sure to keep produce out of direct sun and away from fire pits.

Autumn’s Bountiful Harvest
Autumn’s Bountiful Harvest
Give those left over Halloween pumpkins new life in a Thanksgiving display. Mother Nature provides the fallen leaves, or substitute with handfuls of straw for a festive look.

A Colorful Welcoming Entrance
Outdoor Decor
Don’t miss an opportunity to create a festive entryway to your home. Decorate an existing bench or cozy front porch with attractive pots or baskets of chrysanthemums, pumpkins, and cabbage plants.

Seasonal Fall Wreath
Gourds Pumpkins Wreath
Greet your guests at the door with a lovely fall wreath. To make one, start with a grapevine wreath base. Tie or glue on gourds, pinecones and berries. As an added burst of color, glue red and green silk leaves on poster board and secure it to the back of the wreath.

Holiday décor differs based upon many factors: geographic location – beachside versus mountaintop; venue – urban loft apartment versus rural farmhouse; your personal style: traditional versus contemporary or something in between, etc. Below are several design ideas to spark your creativity.

Traditional Thanksgiving Cornucopia Centerpiece
Traditional Thanksgiving Cornucopia Centerpiece
A few candles and a set of mini lights add sparkle and ambiance to this festive centerpiece. If burning candles makes you nervous, you can opt for the flameless variety. New technological advances have produced a very realistic appearance of flickering flames. Many are made with scented wax, have been molded with lines of “dripping” wax down the sides, and operate via remote control.

Farmhouse Chic Centerpiece
Farmhouse Chic Centerpiece
This display creates a more casual atmosphere. The wicker basket and two hammered metal tankards set amongst a mixture of fruit and veggies are the focal point on a picnic table with plenty of room for the extended family and friends.

Fruitful Harvest
Fruitful Harvest
A sculptural glass bowl of fruit serves as an artful centerpiece and it’s edible.

Elegant Traditional Place Setting
Elegant Traditional Place Setting
Place settings can impress even the most discriminating family members. If you have a metallic gold sharpie marker, you could write each person’s name on the tiny white pumpkins, which become party favors for your guests to take home after enjoying a delicious meal.

Chargers, such as the gold one shown in the photo above, are decorative plates typically used as colorful accents for laying dishes. There are two types of chargers sold at craft stores. The first tends to be round plates in solid colors, metallic finishes, or vintage prints. The second type is very decorative, including embellishments such as rhinestones and hammered metal finishes. Food Safety Tip: Chargers are for decorative use only – they are Not Food Safe.

From Vineyard to Table Decor
From Vineyard to Table Decor
If being non traditional is more your style, choose a different color scheme to celebrate the bounty of the season. How about blues, purples, and greens from the vineyard? Wine is typically a part of every big celebration. Why not use it as the inspiration for your holiday décor? Knock tradition off its feet with this colorful twist.

Contemporary Urban Glam
Contemporary Urban Glam
Are you passionate about having a lot of bling in your holiday decor? How about this sequined tablecloth, deep orchid napkins, silver plates, and bejeweled napkin rings? The table cover could be an expensive item, but a trip to the fabric store will save you a bundle. Little details make such a difference. Embellish plain napkin rings with rhinestones, beads, berries or flowers. If time is short, Pier 1 has a large selection of ornate napkin rings.

Exotic Blue Peacock
Exotic Blue Peacock Place Setting
Using peacock feathers for inspiration, this table setting features a matching runner and chair sashes. If you are comfortable with sewing, both items can be easily made for use with an existing white tablecloth and dining chairs. The sashes are tied to the seat backs in simple bows, turning standard folding chairs into fashionable seating. Brown wicker chargers beautifully offset the bright blue napkins. Green glassware and a few well-placed peacock feathers complete the design.

Combining Old & New
Combining Old & New
Transitional is a blending of traditional elements, such as the floral arrangement and orange-rimmed dishes, with a contemporary flair – maroon napkins creatively folded to create an exotic flower and wrapped in gold leaf-shaped napkin rings; matching placemats; and coordinating gold and maroon glass beads scattered upon the table.

Beachside Centerpiece
Beach Centerpiece
If you live at the beach, the bountiful harvest focuses upon the ocean, and your celebration may look something like this. Fire and water is always a mesmerizing combo. Place floating candles in clear glass containers with attractive pebbles or sea glass in the bottom. Set in a tray with sand and a few seashells for a lovely seaside centerpiece.

Traditional Thanksgiving Table with Wine & Flowers
Traditional Thanksgiving Table with Wine & Flowers
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, may it bring you and yours a very happy, and love filled holiday to be remembered fondly for years to come.

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Crafting!

A Tale of Two Thanksgivings

Thankgiving
Everyone across the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, however this holiday experience varies depending upon geographic location, climate, local customs, and food specialties.

Hawaii & New England
Sometimes it’s nice to see how other people celebrate. It gives you a chance to see the holiday from a fresh perspective. Below is a side-by-side comparison of two Thanksgiving celebrations: Hawaii is on the left and New England is on the right.

Sandy Shores Rocky Coast
Landscapes: Sandy Beaches versus Rugged Rocky Coastline

Rain on Petals Frosty Leaf
Weather: Warm Tropical Showers versus Cool Crisp Air & Snow

Pineapples Gourds
Decorations: Pineapples versus Pumpkins & Gourds

Plumeria & Chrysanthemums
Flowers: Wild Plumeria versus Potted Chrysanthemums

Torchlight & Candle Light
Lighting: Outdoor Torchlight versus Indoor Candlelight

Bird of Paradise & Cornucopia
Centerpieces: Exotic Flowers versus Harvest Cornucopia

Tropical Cocktail & Hot Beverage
Drinks: Cool Tropical Cocktails versus Hot Beverages

Fresh Fruit & Hot Soup
Appetizers: Tropical Fruit versus Hot Hearty Soups

Roast Pork & Roast Turkey
Entrées: Roast Pork versus Roast Turkey

Vegetables
Vegetables: Pacific Rim Blend versus Roast Sweet Potatoes

Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie
Desserts: Chocolate Kona Coffee Cheesecake versus Pumpkin Pie

Fire Dance & Fireplace
After Dinner: Fire Dancing versus Relaxing by the Fire

I hope these celebrations will inspire and enrich your next family gathering. You might want to consider a change of venue or a change of décor to shake things up a bit. Whatever you decide, there are two constants you can always count on: Love and Gratitude shared with Family and Friends

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Crafting!

How to Protect and Clean Precious Metal Jewelry and Flatware

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to polish your silverware and your jewelry. With a few easy steps, you can make those precious metals shine, and keep it that way so you won’t have to clean it again next year.
Tarnished Silver Jewelry & Spoons
Tarnish is the enemy of your gold and silver jewelry, flatware and serving pieces. There are many products on the market for removing tarnish, but they typically consist of very toxic ingredients and the fumes can be overwhelming. Fortunately there are safer alternatives. As with most things, prevention is the best initial method.

Tarnish Prevention for Silver, Gold and Plated Jewelry:
Silver & Gold
Most people know silver becomes tarnished, but did you know gold becomes dull and brassy? The best way to keep your jewelry looking its best is by protecting it from the start. When you buy a new piece of jewelry, store it in a jewelry box with an anti-tarnish lining.

3M Anti-Tarnish Sheets and Strips
3M Anti-Tarnish Strips
As an alternative, you can use re-sealable plastic bags and place a piece of anti-tarnish paper inside the bag. Be sure to press the excess air out before closing the zipper. Several companies, such as 3M, make anti-tarnish paper, which comes in 1” squares, strips and sheets. FireMountainGems.com sells jewelry storage bags with anti-tarnish coating inside. Before putting away your jewelry, be sure to wipe gemstone jewelry gently with a soft cloth, and wipe precious metal jewelry with a polishing cloth. (Note: Pearls should not be placed in plastic bags. Wrap them in tissue paper.)

Tarnish Prevention for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Silverware
When not in use, keep your silver flatware in a silver chest and place serving pieces in drawers or a china cabinet with anti-tarnish paper to prevent tarnishing.

Jewelry Cleaning:
Beaded Jewelry
Beaded Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. Do not use any other cleaning methods. Many beaded items include metal accent beads. You may be able to shine them up with a polishing cloth. I find it’s easier to restring the necklace or bracelet with new metal beads, and be sure to keep it in an anti-tarnish jewelry box or bag to keep it shining like new.

Gemstone Jewelry
Gemstone Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. For a bracelet similar to the one pictured above, you could carefully use a polishing cloth on the edges of the silver, but avoid touching the gemstones. If additional cleaning is required, take it to a jeweler. Caution: Water and or chemical solutions can dissolve or damage many gemstones, including but not limited to opals, Marcasites, and pearls, as well as enamel finishes.

Gold Silver Jewelry
Precious Metal Jewelry: Sterling silver, silver-plated, gold and gold-plated can be cleaned with a polishing cloth.

Polishing Cloth
This polishing cloth has two layers. The white shines and polishes as it removes tarnish. The green layer completes the shining process as it removes polish or tarnish residue.

Tarnish Removal for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Tarnished Tray & Pitcher
We have all seen heavily tarnished silver items like the ones shown above. Tarnish removal can present a great challenge, but all of that was resolved with the invention of the Speedy Pate shown below.

Tarnish Removing Speedy Plate
Washing Soda Dish & Plate
When it comes to removing tarnish on silver pieces, the Speedy Plate is a lifesaver. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The process is very simple. You will need the 6”x8” Speedy Plate, a large 9’x13” glass or plastic container, hot water, and Household Washing Soda. Most people use this product with great success. Occasionally reviews say it doesn’t work, but this is most likely a failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you buy Washing Soda, which can be purchased at most grocery stores.

Please Note: Washing Soda IS NOT the same as baking soda.

Additional Jewelry Tips:
Shower
Should I wear Jewelry in the Shower?
No. To protect your jewelry, it should be removed before showering. Precious metals, gemstones, and jewelry components can be damaged by exposure to water, hair care products, soaps and body washes. When getting dressed, put your jewelry on last to avoid exposure to cosmetics, perfume, hairspray, and body lotion. The same precautions should be taken before swimming or using sunscreen.

Beach Jewelry
Jewelry and the Beach Don’t mix.
That’s why you see so many people with metal detectors roaming the beaches at the end of the day. Rings can easily slip off of wet fingers. The combination of water, salt, sun, sunscreen, and sand can damage and weather chains and clasps, causing breakage. In most cases you won’t even realize it has fallen off. Your favorite piece of jewelry will inadvertently become someone else’s treasure.

There is so much beauty and artistry to be appreciated in objects made from silver and gold. With the proper care, they will last a lifetime, and can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Happy Crafting!

Pumpkin – Baking with Seasonal Flavor

Pumpkins
After Halloween has come and gone, you might be wondering what to do with all those leftover pumpkins. Whether you prefer fresh or canned pumpkin, there are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy this seasonal favorite. There’s nothing like the mouth-watering aromas of homemade cookies and pastries, straight from the oven. It may be a cold fall and winter, but you can warm hearts and bellies with a lot of love and a few easy recipes.

Iced Pumpkin Donuts
Iced Donuts
To save you time and ensure success, the baking section of your local craft store has a large selection of pans, including bundt cake, cupcakes, muffins, jelly roll, etc. One of the more unusual pans is for baking donuts. Since no deep fryer is required, anyone can bake donuts at home, and the same pan can be used to make bagels too.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Vanilla Frosting
Bundt Cake
A fluted pan is the secret to the bundt cake. This photo shows the standard version of a bundt cake with icing drizzled over the top. If you really want to impress your guests, prepare an unexpected surprise by adding filling. To do this, pour half the batter into the pan. Spread the filling around the pan, ensuring it does not touch the inner or outer edges of the pan. Pour the remaining batter on top and bake. When the cake is sliced, the unusual profile of the slice will be enhanced by a colorful creamy center.

Homemade Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin bread needs to cool before slicing. By refrigerating the loaf, the bread becomes moist like a cake. Toasted pumpkin bread is delicious with melted peanut butter. Metal pans are fine, but for baking bread I prefer a ceramic loaf pan. I don’t know about you, but the sound of metal scraping makes my skin crawl. Ceramic cleans up easier too.

Spiced Pumpkin Roll with Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Pumpkin Roll
A spiral design is the hallmark of this impressive dessert, but it’s easy to make, and will melt in your mouth. Bake the cake in a jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper. After baking, lay the cake face down on a towel. If necessary, trim any ragged edges. Starting with a long side, roll the cake in the towel and cool completely on a wire rack. Unroll and remove the towel, and lay cake flat. Spread the filling over the top within 1/2” of the edges. Suggested fillings include whipped cream, pie filling, and pudding. Carefully roll the cake and place it with the seam side down on a platter. Garnish as desired.

Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin muffins are delicious as is, or shake a little powdered sugar over the top. Sometimes the simplest version is the best.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Whipped Cream & Graham Cracker Crust
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Cheesecake is a dessert menu staple. The only bad thing about pumpkin cheesecake is that it’s only available from October through January, or February if you’re lucky. Beyond that you’ll have to wait until the next pumpkin season.

Walnut Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
Walnut Pumpkin Pie
A pastry bag and fresh whipped cream will dress up any baked goods, but it’s just as easy to use a can of whipped cream. For best results, practice a few floral shapes first before tackling the final product.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Crust
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pie typically has a delicious flaky crust. This baker created a pretty undulating pattern with the crust and garnished the top with a leaf cut from the same pastry crust. There are some really cool baking tools, such as fluted piecrust cutters for edging, and spring-loaded piecrust cutters to create cutouts or appliqués, like the leaf shown in the photo above.

Chocolate Drizzled Pumpkin Pie with Chocolate Crust
Pumpkin Tart
This contemporary pumpkin pie has a chocolate graham cracker bottom crust, and a pumpkin cream cheese filling. For a no-bake version, buy a ready-to-use crust.

Savory Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Soup
Like butternut squash, pumpkin soup gets its savory flavor from rich heavy cream and just the right amount of seasoning from ginger, cinnamon, onion and celery.

Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Pancakes
Do you love pancakes but are bored with the same old taste? Boost the flavor and your taste buds by adding 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin for every 2 cups of batter.

Homemade Pumpkin Pudding
Pumpkin Pudding
Deep-dish pumpkin pudding tastes delicious while still warm from the oven, or chilled and served with fresh whipped cream. If you’ve never had it, the top and edges have a cake-like texture, but the rest is creamy pudding with that awesome pumpkin flavor. If your favorite part of a pumpkin pie is the filling, this pudding will be your new go-to dessert.

Baking is a fun and rewarding activity to be shared with the whole family. Enjoy the process and remember you can always eat your mistakes.

Happy Crafting!

Pets Celebrate Halloween Too!

Ghost Dogs
Every Halloween, you decorate your home and dress in costume, but don’t forget to include your furry friends. You could make the costume yourself. Scissors and some old sheets will do the trick. Or it may be easier to buy from crafts stores, Halloween stores and of course online too. Below are several pets “hamming” it up for the camera in their Halloween’s finest costumes. Enjoy!

Cowboy Dog
Leading a parade in a covered wagon is a tough job, but this cowboy is up to the task.

Bear Cat
What a difference the right hat can make!

Princess Dog
This cute poodle will be the belle of the ball in her elegant evening gown.

Pumpkin Dog
The best pumpkin in the patch has a very cheerful personality.

Bunny Cat
It may be Halloween but you can still dress up as the Easter Bunny.

Pumpkin Dog
Larger dogs like to celebrate too.

Sailor Cat
Who says cats don’t like water? This handsome boy is ready to sail the seven seas.

Spider Cat
Arachnophobia is a very common fear, but this little guy is just adorable.

Bewitching Dog
Something magical is always brewing with this bewitching little lady.

Pirate Bear
Don’t have a pet? No problem! Put a costume on your favorite stuffed animal. This Vermont Teddy Bear is wearing a Build A Bear pirate costume, which included the eye patch, sword and parrot. How cute is that? These costumes will fit any 10” to 14” plush animal of your choice.

The family that plays together stays together, including our pets. With everyone in costume, you won’t be able to resist taking pictures to commemorate the occasion.

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!