Want to Make Beaded Earrings?

Assorted Earrings
Making fine jewelry requires years of special training in gemstones, precious metals, and jewelry design. Materials and tools are very expensive, and mistakes can be very costly. The invention of beaded jewelry created beautiful designs in a much more affordable way, and put the jewelry making possibilities into everyone’s hands. If you’ve ever wondered how to make a piece of jewelry, now is your chance.

How to Make Black Onyx & Tigerseye Earrings
Tigerseye Black Onyx Earrings
These 2” long gemstone earrings are fashionable and easy to make.

Required Beads & Findings:
 Earring Supplies
Supplies:
To make this pair of earrings you will need:
2) Silver plated Head Pins – 2” length,
2) 8.5mm Granulated Round Pewter Rondelles,
2) 8mm Tigerseye beads,
2) 10mm Black Onyx beads,
2) Silver plated Round 4mm Spacer beads
2) Silver plated Surgical Steel Fishhook Earwires with ball & coil

(Please note: Head pins are the foundation of these earrings. They are inexpensive and come in big packages. Be sure to have several on hand just in case. Craft stores carry jewelry making supplies, including beads, accents, and tools. If you get hooked on jewelry making and yearn for the ultimate selections, look no further than FireMountainGems.com)

Jewelry Making Tools:

Round Nose Pliers – the smooth, round tips on these pliers make it easy and safe to manipulate wire, pins, and small jewelry metal pieces known as findings. Please don’t use standard pliers, which have teeth that will damage delicate precious metals.

Jewelry Wire Cutters
Jewelry Wire Cutters – a sharp pair of wire cutters makes jewelry making so much easier. Do not use them for other crafts, such as floral arranging, which can damage the blades.

Earring Making Instructions:

Bead Layout
Step 1: Stack the beads in sequence on the head pin as shown. This is the dangle part of the earring.

Grip with Pliers
Step 2: With the round nose pliers in your right hand, grip the wire just above the top silver bead. Be sure the beads are close together with no gaps in between. Hold the pliers in this position for the next step.

Grasp Wire with Fingers
Step 3: Grasp the end of the head pin with your left thumb and index finger, and bend the wire toward you.

Bend Wire
Continue bending the pin over the tip of the pliers until it touches the Black Onyx bead.

Reshaped Wire
The reshaped pin will look like the photo above.

Trim Excess Wire
Step 4: Cut off the excess wire. Leave enough wire to form a small loop above the silver bead. This may take a few tries. Don’t worry if you cut it too short. Simply use a new head pin and repeat the steps.

Shortened Wire
This photo shows the trimmed wire, and beside it is the scrap piece to be thrown away.

Attach Earwire
Step 5: Hook the dangle earring onto the loop on the bottom of the fishhook earwire,

Close the Loop
and close the loop using the round nose pliers.

Finished Earrings
Congratulations! You have successfully made your first pair of earrings.

These skills can be used to create many styles, which at first may appear to be complex, but are actually fairly easy when broken down into basic steps. Let’s take a look at a few examples below.

Blue Earrings
Blue Bead & Pearl Earrings– If you look closely, you’ll notice the same elements we talked about before: head pins, stacked beads, and earwires. The choice of silver earwires and accents with faceted blue crystals and Mother of Pearl creates a cool, summery vibe. This pair of earrings utilizes a different type of earwire known as lever backs, which prevent the earring from falling off – no more lost earrings!

Fossil Earrings
Fossil Earrings – The natural spiral design and intricate details of these fossils make great focal points for these earrings. You can purchase charms and pendants such as these and simply attach earwires to the provided loops on top. How easy is that?

Triangle Earrings
Triangle Earrings – These earrings are a simple progression from the fossil earrings above. The triangles are merely charms. Head pins, which are available in many lengths, are the keys to this design. Attach the three beads on the bottom of each triangle using pliers. The yellow beads are also attached with head pins. Cut the head off a pin, and use the pliers to make a loop above and below the yellow bead and then attach to the triangle on the bottom and to the earwire on the top.

Jasper& Pearl Earrings
Jasper & Pearl Earrings – Gemstones come in an amazing array of colors and shapes. The accent beads can be mixed and matched in infinite combinations. Experiment by laying out the beads to test your options. The nice thing about earrings is that you can place the beads on a pin and hold them up to your ear to see how they look, with no commitment whatsoever. Don’t like what you see? Try another combo.

Jewelry making is a fun, creative hobby. Best of all you get to wear and share your creations with your family and friends.

Happy Crafting!

Choosing the Best Craft Tools

Art Supplies
Arts and crafts are more than a hobby – it’s a vocation. The passionate pursuit of beauty and self-expression is inspired by the world around us. When shared, it opens a dialogue of ideas and inspirations, reminding us that we are all connected.

Over the years, artists and crafters develop new skills and acquire lots of tools and materials. Along the way, we learn about time saving tools and media to simplify the creative process. Below are several suggestions to assist with your next project.

Tackle Box - ClosedFishing Tackle Box – See next photo
Tackle Box - Opened
A Tackle Box becomes an Art Bin – Every artist needs a place to store paintbrushes, pencils and other tools. In my experience, items made for artists cost twice as much. Instead of buying an Art Bin, get a fishing tackle box, which is inexpensive and has compartments for all your arts and crafts supplies.

Fabric Paints
Fabric Paints – The name implies they’re only for fabric, but these paints provide textured color on any surface and act like glue for small items, such as beads.

Chip Clips
Chip Clips – These are great to use as clamps when gluing small objects together, although you may have to pry them out of the hands of your potato chip eating kids.

Fillet Glove & X-Acto Knife
Fillet Glove & X-Acto Knife – If you do a lot of cutting, a fillet glove is a must to prevent accidents, and an X-Acto knife is a great tool for making very precise cuts.

Prismacolor Pencils
Prismacolor Pencils – These thick, soft lead pencils have beautiful saturated colors. Although they tend to be expensive, craft stores offer great sales and coupons, making them much more affordable.

Eraser Pencil
Eraser Pencil – In case you never heard of this item, it is a pencil filled with an eraser instead of lead. It can be sharpened to a fine point for precise erasing and the brush on the other end can be used to remove erasures without smearing the surface.

Pencil Sharpener
Electric Pencil Sharpener – If you do a lot of drawing or coloring, having a sharpener nearby is a time saver because it keeps the points clean, sharp and consistent.

Glue Gun
Hot Glue Gun – So many projects require glue. Hot glue guns are easy to use, fast acting, and low odor. You’ll want to keep extra glue sticks on hand because glue guns have veracious appetites.

Sharpie Pens
Sharpie Markers & Paint Pens – If you need to write or draw on virtually any surface, Sharpies have a wide assortment of colors, finishes, and pen tip sizes.

Wire Cutters
Wire Cutters – Flower arranging is simplified with a sharp pair of wire cutters. They’re excellent for cutting zip ties too.

Tweezers & Crochet Needle
Tweezers – These are great for positioning small beads and working in tight areas. Crocheting Needle – Use to attach floral picks or weaving ribbon into a wreath.

Paint Brushes
Paint Brushes – Different crafts and media require many types of paintbrushes. In case you are wondering about the old brush on the bottom, I keep it for mixing small quantities of paint and for applying rough base coats.

Scissors
Scissors – A good pair of scissors is indispensable. In fact, you might want to keep several pairs on hand for different tasks. I keep this pair for cutting fabric. If you cut other materials, such as plastic or cardboard, the blades can become damaged. This will not only dull the scissors, but will also cause fabric fraying in the future.

Ott Task Light
Ott Task Light – These portable electric lights provide bright, true color lighting in a non-glare, energy efficient fixture, which folds closed for easy storage.

Art Supply Storage
Art Supply Storage – This rolling, pullout-shelving unit was originally used in an accounting department. It’s so convenient for crafting because you can see everything and each basket can be individually slid out and carried to a table for easy access.

Cotton Swabs & Toothpicks – Inexpensive everyday items such as these are so useful for removing excess glue or paint, and for touch ups and clean ups.

I hope these ideas will be helpful for your future creations. Do you have a favorite craft tool? Please share your suggestions.

Happy Crafting!

2019 – Year of the Pig

Year of the Pig
This week is special for two reasons:

One year ago the Crafts Inspire Me blog was launched! I can’t believe a year has gone by so quickly. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. You inspire me every day! Secondly, February 5th marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Pig 2019, is believed to bring joy and prosperity in all areas of life.

In honor of the Year of the Pig, this week’s craft is silly and very easy to make. You will never look at office supplies the same way again, and there is a funny story to go with it.

It all started with an extreme case of boredom. My brother had just graduated from college, and was hired by an international technology company. As you can imagine, working in a field like technology requires security clearances, and the approval process can be a lengthy one. All of the new hires were placed in a large room, sitting in individual workstations, with nothing to do but read. Because no one had been cleared to view company documentation, each person had to bring his or her own magazines and books to read to pass the time. Cell phones and computer use were not allowed. How much reading can you do before falling asleep?

Disinterested in his reading material, my brother noticed an office supply cabinet, and an idea struck. With a handful of pushpins and a pink pencil eraser, he set to work on his creation.

And here it is…

The Eraser Pig
The Eraser Pig
The Eraser Pig was born! Pleased with the results, he made another trip to the cabinet and in no time he had created enough to form two teams for a five-on-five “basketball game.” Curiosity brought a few of the candidates over and the fear of dying from boredom made them stay to watch the “game.” When my brother’s clearance came through, he passed the eraser pigs on to others. For all we know, those pigs may still be making the rounds, bringing smiles and sparking imagination.

Pushpin Placement
Pushpin Placement
If you would like to make one, you will need a pink eraser, and 6 pushpins (4 legs, the tail and snout).

Have you ever created something out of boredom? What did you make? Please share your story.

Happy Year of the Pig & Happy Crafting!

Color Selection 101

Artist's Paint Palette
Choosing colors is one of the most difficult parts of any project. Fortunately the ultimate artist, Mother Nature, has already done most of the work for us. Below are assorted nature photos to inspire your exploration of the infinite possibilities of color.

The Color Wheel
The Color Wheel
A Color Wheel – all the colors of the visible spectrum, that is, visible to the human eye.

Primary Colors
Primary Colors - Parrot
Primary Colors: Red, Blue, & Yellow – base colors found in nature.

Secondary Colors
Secondary Colors-Butterflies
Secondary Colors: Green, Orange, & Purple – are made by mixing two primary colors together.

Black & White
Black & White - Whale
White & Black – produce shades of color from light to dark. Black and white is a classic combo often used in the textile and interior design industries. Turn the ordinary to extraordinary by adding brilliant jewel tone colors, such as sapphire blue, emerald green or ruby red.

Complementary Colors
Complementary Colors
Complementary Colors: Opposites on the color wheel (red & green; purple & yellow; blue & orange). When used together, they produce the highest contrasts.

Rainbow
Rainbow
All the colors of the spectrum – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue & Violet – in that exact order can be seen in this rainbow. If you want to create a realistic rainbow effect, be sure to get the color order correct.

Fresh Picked Fruit
Fresh Picked Fruit
Pastel Red, Green, Fuchsia & Orange – These are great spring and summer colors.

Tropical Fish
Tropical Fish
Golden & Reddish Browns with White, set against a Green background – Brown & White are another classic combo, which look great with jewel tones.

Hibiscus Bloom
Hibiscus Bloom
Red, Orange, Yellow & touches of Pink & White – Warm pastels with a dramatic red center attract attention.

Molten Lava
Molten Lava
Black, Orange, & Yellow – These colors remind me of my favorite holiday, Halloween.

Floating Lotus Blossom
Floating Lotus Blossom
Pure White & Yellow offset by Green, Blue & Black – White is such a cool, crisp color in summer, and coordinates with any colors in warm or cool tones.

Field of Tulips
Field of Tulips
Orange, Green, & Yellow contrast with Blue – Pastels come alive with a punch of color.

Peacock Feathers
Peacock Feathers
Blue, Green, Gold, & Black – Exotic & luxurious is the vibe created by these colors. The electric blue set against the black makes a bold statement with the naturally shimmering gold and green.

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms
Pink & Blue – In the case of these cherry blossoms, bold colors would be overpowering. Such tiny, delicate blooms call for gentle, soft colors. Is it any wonder these colors are often used for baby nurseries?

Pansies
Pansies
Purple, White & Yellow – The frilled purple petals resemble watercolors, while the yellow centers look like they were hand painted in this striking palette.

Rainbow Lorakeets
Rainbow Lorakeets
It’s hard to believe that one animal could have all the colors of the rainbow, except purple, and yet here it is in two small parrots. If Mother Nature can come with this, imagine what you can do.

Spiral Stained Glass Windows
Spiral Stained Glass Windows
Blue & Red with Green, Orange, Purple & Yellow accents – The spiral draws your eye toward the center, while the blended colors move you along one frame at a time.

Sunset #1
Sunset - Cool tones
Purple, Yellow, & Blue – Cool colors of evening (blues & purples) provide the dramatic backdrop for the vibrant yellow sun setting at the distant horizon. This palette has a dreamy, relaxing quality.

Sunset #2
Sunset - Warm tones
Red, Yellow, & Orange with touches of Pink & Purple – Blended warm colors have an energetic, motivational effect.

The next time you are looking for some color inspiration for your next project, take a look outside. Mother Nature has provided a feast for the eyes. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Happy Crafting!

Let’s Go Sledding!

Sledding Centerpiece
It’s hard to believe the holidays are over, and winter is upon us. Snow can’t be far behind. I have some wonderful memories of sledding as a child, and those escapades are the inspiration for a playful centerpiece. This project is very easy to make, using many items you may already own.

Wooden Sled
Wooden Sled
The most important element in this project is the sled. This one was purchased at AC Moore, and came with the green wreath at the center and red ribbon. The approximate dimensions are: 22” long x 13” wide. Craft stores are having huge clearance sales, making it a real bargain to pick up a sled or any additional items you may need.

Cruising on a Bed of Faux Snow
Sled with Snow
This snow is actually left over Halloween spider webs. Simply lay it out on the table and pull and stretch it into a shape resembling a snow-covered slope.

Snowman Base Form
Snowman Base Form
The main character in this fun sledding scene is a cheerful snowman that started out as a “blank canvas” so to speak, with three foam balls wrapped in white fabric. (AC Moore)

Adding a Few Details
Snowman Details
Sold separately were buttons, and carrot noses. The eyes were painted on, and the smile consists of jewelry maker’s blue metallic seedbeads, glued in place using fabric paint.

Finished Snowman
Finished Snowman
The scarf was crocheted with some leftover navy yarn. Sticks for arms came from the backyard. The black top hat was the finishing touch, with the addition of festive trim on the brim, cut from a floral pick.

Completed Sledding Centerpiece – Front
Completed Sledding Centerpiece - Front
With the snowman in the center of the sled, it’s time to add a few friends to share the ride. Beanie Babies are a great choice in size, color, and whimsy. We chose animals typically found in the snow: a penguin, a reindeer, and a seal. The caroling pig is a family joke, and you can choose whatever characters will bring joy to your family.

Completed Sledding Centerpiece – Back
Completed Sledding Centerpiece - Back
We added a few sprigs of artificial evergreen on the back of the sled to coordinate with the existing wreath. The little guys look so cute with their feet hanging off the back.

Alternate 1 – Sledding Penguin
Penguin Sledding
This centerpiece can be quickly changed by switching out the smaller animals, or by using a different central character, such as a penguin, polar bear or moose.

Alternate 2 – Sledding Moose
Moose Sledding
On those gloomy winter days when there is no snow for playing outdoors, enjoy a little whimsical sledding with a snowman and friends.

Happy Crafting!

Pumpkin – Baking with Seasonal Flavor

Pumpkins
Old Man Winter has us firmly in his grasp. The growing season is over, but there’s still time to stock up on canned pumpkin, before the stores sell out of this seasonal favorite. There’s nothing like the delicious aromas of homemade cookies and pastries, straight from the oven. It may be a long cold winter, but you can warm hearts and bellies with a lot of love and few easy recipes. Below are several pumpkin items to inspire you.

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!

Creative Holiday Gift Wrapping

Whats in the Box?It’s the night before Christmas, and little feet tiptoe toward the tree for a sneak peek at the presents. We may not have done this, but we thought about it a lot. It’s human nature to wonder -What’s inside the box?

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc., you’re going to give gifts to lots of people, and those gifts need to be boxed, bagged, or wrapped in an attractive fashion.

Last Minute Checking All the Details

Colors & PatternsIf your name is Mrs. Claus, you probably don’t need help wrapping gifts.

Santa’s Secret Gift Stash

All Wrapped UpIn fact, Mrs. Claus probably has a gift-giving closet that looks like this one. For the rest of us, there’s still a lot of shopping to be done and presents to be wrapped. Department stores typically offer gift wrap, but it can be pricey. Many retailers have eliminated this service and the gift boxes as well. Shopping malls offer gift wrapping, but the lines can be very long. Fortunately there are lots of solutions to make your gifts look beautiful.

Gift Bags & Boxes

Gift BagsGift bags are probably one of the best inventions of all time. They’re sold just about everywhere, including the food stores, so when you’re running around last minute a gift bag is easily on hand.

Accessorized Cloth Gift Bags

Cloth Gift BagsThese burlap bags are dressed up with the addition of berries and glitzy red ornaments.

Red & White Fabric Gift Bag

Cloth Gift BagThis red and white gift bag has a built-in drawstring.

Fabric Gift Bags with Metallic Polka Dot Patterns

Amazon Gift BagsAmazon provided these festive gift bags, which my family passes back and forth for various occasions all year long. Unfortunately there’s no way of knowing which color you might receive, and some items are wrapped in paper instead of a bag.

Velvet-Lined Metal Box

Metal BoxA metal box is an intriguing way to package a gift.

Collectible Porcelain Box

Porcelain BoxPorcelain boxes come in a variety of shapes and colors for every occasion. These are perfect for jewelry or other small items, and can also be used to conceal a cash gift.

Glass Jar Adorned with Silver Heart

Glass JarFor the baker in the family, this fluted glass jar and lid will hold your gift now, and will be perfect for holding baking ingredients in the future. It could also be used as cookie jar.

Bath & Body Gift Basket

Gift BasketGift baskets filled with the recipient’s favorites is always a welcome surprise. You can purchase a roll of colored cellophane wrap or use regular plastic wrap to cover the entire basket, and tie a bow on top.

Gift Box Tower

Stacking Printed BoxesSome stores provide colorfully printed boxes, which are suitable for gifts any time of year, and can be stacked and tied with a pretty ribbon.

Gift Boxes – Lids Wrapped Separately

Wrapped LidsWhen using standard wrapping paper, you can always wrap the lid separately. By doing so, the box can be reused for years to come.

Accessorized Gold Box

Floral StemA floral pine cone stem and some ribbon were all that was needed to complete this package.

Matching Gift Tags

Gift TagsDon’t forget to add a gift tag. Some people save the pictures, from last year’s holiday cards, and use them as gift tags on this year’s presents.

Dress up Gift Wrap with Ornaments

Ornaments
Standard green wrapping paper perks up with the addition of bright red ribbon and two adorable ornaments.

Recycled Paper with Greens from the Backyard

Pine Cone GreensFor an all-natural look, recycled paper can be used, with twine instead of ribbon, some evergreen and a pine cone from your backyard.

Fancy Metallic Paper & Coordinating Ribbon

Silver BowA silver bow makes a statement on this aqua and silver wrapped gift.

Fanciful Paper with a Statement Bow

Big BowA glittering gold bow makes the perfect topper for this dancing reindeer package.

Metallic Paper with a Pom Pom Bow

Specialty BowsA 3-dimensional snowflake has sprung to life from this pretty wrapping paper.

Glittering Paper, Ribbon & Bow

BlingFor a glamorous look, combine sparkling red paper, gold studded ribbon, and a shiny gold bow.

Coordinated Paper & Ribbon

Matching Ribbon & PaperThis perfectly coordinated metallic ribbon and paper is suitable for gifts any time of year.

Pretty Paper with Flower-Shaped Bow

Floral Paper & BowSometimes a really great topper steals the show. A bow like this one will be appreciated for sure, with its petal-like layers in full bloom and wisps of green ribbon leaves peeking out beneath. There’s a very interesting pattern of wildlife, holly sprigs, and guitars intertwined among the curvilinear vines.

As they say, it’s the thought that counts. With a few creative choices, gift wrapping can be a pleasure, instead of a chore.

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

Baking for the Holidays

Cookie Cutters & Dough
As the weather turns colder, my thoughts turn to baking. The scent of home baked cookies wafting through the air is sure to be followed by the thumping footfalls of my family as they bound down the stairs in search of something sweet from the oven. I have to admit I love it too and have sampled more than a few of my own creations.

In addition to satisfying your family, baked goods make great gifts for guests, neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Below are several ideas for inspiration.

Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread Cookies
These charming gingerbread cookies are served on an equally adorable pinwheel candy plate. They’re easy to make, or you can buy plain ones and apply your own colorful candy and icing decorations.

Gingerbread Houses
Gingerbread Houses
Everyone loves home baked goods. How about baked goods that require no baking at all (at least on your part)? 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.

Traditional Christmas Cookies
Decorated Christmas Cookies
Decked out in green, red and white icing, these cookies celebrate Christmas in the sweetest possible way.  If you have a long list of people to bake for, get the whole family involved with the decorating to speed up the process in this fun activity.

Assorted Butter Cookies
Gourmet Butter Cookies
Butter cookies are finger licking good. If you are pressed for time, many bakeries offer ready-made cookie platters to share with your friends and family or give as gifts.

Fancy Cookie Cut Outs
Fancy Jelly Filled Cookie
This elegant cookie looks professionally made, but it’s actually quite easy to make yourself. All you need are two cookie cutters – one large round with scalloped edges, and the second in the shape of a swan or any design you prefer. Layer two large cookies on top of each other, with strawberry or raspberry filling, to make this sandwich cookie. The bottom cookie is solid, while the top cookie has a swan cut out in the center. Shake powdered sugar on top for a beautiful bakery finish.

Iced Snowman Cookies
Iced Snowman Cookies
Snowmen are seasonal favorites. These individually wrapped cookies would make great party favors for your guests. If you have extra, they’re popular items at the school bake sales. Of course that assumes your family doesn’t finish them off first. (lol)

Holiday Cookie & Candy Platter
Holiday Cookie & Candy Platter
Homemade cookies & candy go hand in hand. This creative assortment tantalizes the taste buds. Should I have a cookie first or dive into the chocolates? There are plenty of candy mold designs suitable for any occasion, and new flavors in candy melts will please the most adventuresome candy aficionados.

Assorted Homemade Breads
Assorted Homemade Breads
Breads are delicious any time of year. With so many recipes and the ease of baking, anyone can make homemade bread in less than an hour. Crafter Tip: Many types of bread need to be fully cooled, and sometimes refrigerated before slicing. To prevent crumbling, be sure to follow the recipe instructions.

Christmas Petits Fours
Christmas Petit 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.

Snowman Cupcakes
Snowman Cupcakes
These snowman and snowlady cupcakes are almost too cute to eat. The bodies are standard size cupcakes, and the heads are mini cupcakes. Coconut is the perfect substitute for snow. Oreos become top hats for the gentlemen, and piped icing details create all the smiling faces and earmuffs for the ladies.

Hanukkah Donuts
Hanukkah Donuts
It wouldn’t be Hanukkah without deep-fried jelly donuts sprinkled with granulated sugar.

Cranberry Rhubarb Pie
Cranberry Rhubarb Pie
Cranberries play a large part in many holidays. There’s cranberry sauce as a side item with your meal, cranberry garlands and sprigs as decorative touches, and cranberry muffins and pies.

Whether you bake everything from scratch, or supplement your desserts with store-bought items, the holidays are a time of sharing, especially at mealtime. Enjoying the seasonal flavors with loved ones is something we all have in common.

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

How to Make a Painted Wooden Snowman

Snowman Closeup Photo
Fall hasn’t officially come to a close, and yet we’ve already had record-breaking cold temperatures, and an unexpected snowstorm. Why not build a snowman that will never melt? This is a simple, inexpensive project for the whole family. I made two snowmen to display in my living room windows.

Unfinished Wood
It all starts with unfinished wood snowmen, purchased at AC Moore.

Snowmen Painted White
Spray paint all sides, edges and base with white paint.

Painted Details
With an artist’s paintbrush, add the details (buttons, eyes, and a smile) with black paint.  Instead of painting the details, you could hot glue round and square plastic buttons, and draw the smile with a Sharpie marker.

Hats Scarves & Carrots
Accessorize with hats and scarves. If you enjoy crocheting, you can quickly create this fashionable look with whatever color yarn you have on hand. Bright red is a great seasonal color, and reads well from a distance. If needlework is not your thing, craft stores have snowman building kits and accessories. For the nose, I created the look of a carrot by squeezing a foam, packing peanut into the correct shape, and painting it with bright orange acrylic paint.  Use hot glue to attach carrot nose.

Stick Arms
Making the arms is as easy as collecting a few sticks from your yard, and attaching them to the sides. You could glue them in place. I decided to use self-stick Velcro instead, because I wanted the arms to be removable for easy storage.

White Lights
I’m sure by now you’ve been wondering about those pre-drilled holes around the perimeter. They were made to hold a strand of twenty white lights, also available at AC Moore. Crafter Tip: The lights can only be pushed through from one side of the wood frame. You may need to secure the last light at the bottom with a piece of tape to keep it from pulling out from the weight of the electrical cord.

Lights at night
I turned off the flash on my camera to give you an idea of how these cute little snowmen look when lit at night. When the holidays are over, these snowmen can remain on display throughout the winter to bring a little whimsy to your home’s decor.

As an additional aside, I made these snowmen two-sided. Because they are standing on a windowsill, they can be seen from inside and outside. The lights can only be seen from one side, but seeing that smiling face when I walk by the window makes me smile too.

Happy Crafting!

Decorating for the Holidays

Hand Painted Glass Ornaments
It’s that time again when we deck the halls, shop ‘til we drop, and dream of snowflakes and gingerbread fresh from the oven. Decorating your home can be stressful. There are so many styles and colors to choose. Where to begin? Let’s review several options to pique your interest.

Mood Lighting
Dining Room Ambiance
The festive contemporary vibe in this dining room is created solely through the clever use of lighting. Round white lights adorn the table and trendy letters upon the back wall, which is bathed in soft lavender light and soft blue accent lights.

Traditional Candle Wreath Centerpiece
Candle Centerpiece
The traditional red and green Christmas color scheme is accented with nuts and pinecones in this evergreen centerpiece. The aromatic scents of the great outdoors will last for weeks. To convert this to an Advent wreath, replace the red candles with three purple and one pink.

Contemporary Candle Centerpiece
Candle Centerpiece
Create a contemporary candle centerpiece, without the wreath, by using a silver tray, beads and small metallic stars. For another look, substitute blue candles in place of the red. The cool blue would be a nice complement for the shiny silver accents.

Contemporary Candle & Glass Ornament Centerpiece
Contemporary Candle & Glass Ornament Centerpiece
Christmas balls can be glued together to form a wreath, which is great as a centerpiece, or you can hang it on the wall for a colorful, reflective focal point.

Sophisticated Gold & Brown Centerpiece
Sophisticated Gold & Brown Centerpiece
This unusual gold and brown combo brings to mind boxes of Godiva chocolate. The rich colors and just the right amount of glitter make this an elegant, eye-catching choice.

Traditional Style Meets Contemporary Flair
Traditional Style Meets Contemporary Flair
Red & green are traditional, but here we have a glass bowl filled with natural elements, such as moss, apples, and pinecones, mixed with glass and carved wood ornaments, and metal spheres. The candlelight is supplemented with flower shaped mini lights tucked among the greens like little blooms.

Red & Green Glowing Glass Centerpiece
Red & Green Glowing Glass Centerpiece
What sets this display apart is the lighting hidden inside the fluted glass bowl. This inner glow reflects off the tabletop and twinkles upon the glass ornaments.

Fresh Cut Flowers Centerpiece
Fresh Cut Flowers Centerpiece
Floral centerpieces can be quite expensive. As an alternative, make your own with evergreens, pinecones, and berries from your yard, and add a few exotic looking fresh cut flowers for maximum impact.

Colorful Foil Garlands
Colorful Foil Garlands
Many trees are decorated with silver or gold garland, but there are many other colors and styles available.

Red Beaded Garland
Red Beaded Garland
If you look at historical photos of decorated trees, you may notice beautiful beaded garlands. Originally they were made from glass, but today plastic beads provide the same old-fashioned look without the added expense and fragility of glass.

Popcorn Garland
Popcorn Garland
Another old-fashioned choice is popcorn garland, which is easy and inexpensive to make. For a dash of color, alternate popcorn with cranberries.

Semi-Homemade Ornaments
Semi-Homemade Ornaments
Transform store-bought ornaments with a little personalization. This crafter started with purple glass ornaments. A glitter paint pen was used to draw vertical line, and then gold rhinestones were randomly glued along the stripes for a regal appearance.

Christmas Ornament Kits
Christmas Ornament Kits
Due to the small sequin size and intricate sewing, the two ornaments shown above would be for the more advanced crafters, but there are plenty of options for beginners and kids.

Festive décor varies based upon the holiday being celebrated and your personal style. Below are several different theme ideas to inspire and consider for your next holiday.

Blue & Gold
Blue & Gold Tree
For some, it’s all about the lights. Here we have blue lights and fancy gold ribbon taking center stage.

Blue, Silver, & Gold with Purple Accents
Blue, Silver, & Gold with Purple Accents
On this tree, ornaments are the main focus, accented by silver snowflakes and gold poinsettias.

Red & Silver
Red & Silver Tree
Glitz and glamour are achieved with mirror-finished ornaments, pinpoint white lights, and last but certainly not least, a sparkling reindeer.

Red, Purple & Gold
Red, Purple & Gold
Colorful ornaments and two shades of garland vie for your attention in this beautifully coordinated tree.

Turquoise & Silver
Turquoise & Silver
This tree is exotic in so many ways. The combination of turquoise and silver is as rare as the color of the tree, which is brown! The silver ornaments vary in textures, shapes and materials. It is truly a one of a kind.

Mother Nature’s Tree
Mother Nature’s Tree
For nature lovers, decorate with pinecones, berries and cute little birds. Animal themed trees have been very popular for the last few years. Whatever strikes your fancy – owls, lighthouses, sea horses, etc. – decorations can be found or made to make your vision a reality.

Our Furry Companions
Our Furry Companions
Let’s not forget an ornament or two for those lovable family pets. In case you didn’t know, tree skirts are very popular places for afternoon naps.

A Room with a Fabulous View
A Room with a Fabulous View
Curl up with a good book by the fire, or find a cozy spot overlooking a winter wonderland. The holidays are a wonderful time to decorate our homes and celebrate the season with family and friends. May your holiday dreams be happy, filled with peace and love.

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!