Countdown – Top Six Posts of 2021

Time seems to fly by so quickly. Let us take a few minutes to look back at the highest ranked posts, as voted by you, the readers. Below is a list of the Top Six posts of 2021, in ascending order:

Number 6: Alpacas Versus Ewoks

Alpaca & Ewok

On a scale of 1-10, who is the cutest – an Alpaca or an Ewok? To read more, please click here.

Number 5: Countdown – Top Six Posts of 2020

Time Travel

In the movie, “Back to the Future”, Michael J. Fox traveled back in time. To read more, please click here.

Number 4: The Symbolism of Rings

Assorted Rings

We wear jewelry for many reasons, but rings, in particular, have played a significant role in our lives.  To read more, please click here.

Number 3: What is for Dessert?

Dessert Collage

Dessert is a wonderful thing. Do you ever find yourself checking out the dessert menu before looking at the entrees? I do. To read more, please click here.

Number 2: One Craft Leads to Another

Colorful Sunset

Because we live in such a beautiful world, it comes as no surprise that we are inspired to create using every color of the rainbow. To read more, please click here.

Number 1: The Art of Cake Decorating

Chocolate Cream Cake

White icing, piped details topped with maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings make this Black Forest cake outstanding, but the real showstopper is the chocolate latticework wrapped around the sides. To read more, please click here.

And there you have it – the top 6 posts of 2021.  Now we have a new year, a clean slate, and together we shall explore the world of creativity.  There are always new ideas, new mediums for experimenting, and I’ll be sure to include more of your favorites.  Your opinions are greatly appreciated, and I look forward to so much more this year.  If you have any suggestions for future posts, please let me know.  Thanks for reading! 

All the best in 2022 and Happy Crafting! 

Some Assembly Required

Frustrated Kermit the Frog

During the holidays, nothing frightens adults more than the words, “Some Assembly Required.”  We’ve all been there.  Why are there always screws left over?  That is a topic for another day.  Today, I want to talk about quick and easy ways to put together beautiful gifts and I can assure you no tools are required! 

For the Chocolate Lover

Chocolate Gift Basket

Who doesn’t love chocolate?  And yes, the zebra print stiletto shoe is chocolate too! 

DIY Hot Chocolate or Cookies

DIY Treats

All you need is a container, such as a basket, tray, bowl, jar, etc.  Come up with a theme for the gift.  Gather and arrange the contents in a pleasing way.  That’s all there is to it.  Let’s look at a few more options:

DIY Dinner for Two

Italian Cuisine in a Basket

A bottle of wine, pasta and sauce, fresh loaf of bread, etc.  You could choose a food theme, such as “A Taste of Italy,” or “An Evening in Paris.”  

Lavender Stress Relief/Aromatherapy

Lavender Gift Basket

Everyone needs to relax and unwind.  Lavender is the perfect choice to promote sleep, to reduce stress, and for calming body, mind and spirit.  Choose from a wide selection of lavender products, including essential oil, microfiber pillow, body lotion, shower gel or bubble bath, chocolate and tea. 

DIY Breakfast Basket

Breakfast Foods

Many people enjoy eating breakfast foods at any time of the day or night.  This gift may include, pancake mix, maple syrup, chocolate chips, sausage or bacon, fresh fruit, a bottle of juice, and whipped cream. 

For Coffee or Tea Lovers

Coffee or Tea

Start with a great mug or teacup/saucer, add a variety of teas or coffees, and you are well on your way to pleasing the coffee or tea drinkers in your life.  Extras may include coffee creamer, biscotti, and chocolate covered coffee beans. 

Can’t Get Enough Makeup

Cosmetics

Do you know someone who loves playing with makeup?  Cosmetic manufacturers have prepackaged gift baskets, cases and bundles filled with lipsticks, eyeshadows, nail polishes, and more. 

DIY Spa Day

Spa Day

A spa day is all about pampering.  This gift might include plump towels, massage oil, manicure & pedicure kit, candles, facial mask, bubble bath, exfoliating cream, moisturizer, etc. 

Holiday Cookies

Christmas Cookies

Everybody loves cookies, especially when they are homemade.  Simply arrange your cookies on a decorative plate, seal with colorful plastic wrap, and tie with a pretty bow. 

Homemade Muffins & Breads

Baked Goods

Homemade muffins and bread are always appreciated, easily portable, and can be stored in the freezer for enjoyment any time of year. 

Fruit Basket

Fruit Basket

Many fruit baskets are available through local stores and on the internet, or you can create your own, filled with all the gift recipient’s favorites. 

Still not sure how to put it all together?  Here are a few step-by-step gifts for inspiration:

Gift Tower #1 – Sweet Treats

Gathering the Gifts

Assorted Edibles - Gift 1

Biscotti and butter poundcake are the stars of this gift, accompanied by assorted candies, cookies, yogurt-covered pretzels, and kitchen towels.  A metal Christmas tray will serve as the base and the recipient can reuse it for years to come. 

Assembling the Gift Tower

Stacked Gifts - Gift 1

Stack the items in layers like a three-dimensional puzzle upon the tray.

Wrapping the Gift

Finished Gift Tower - Gift 1

You may need someone to help with the wrapping to hold everything in place.  Center the tower on the paper, pull up the sides and tie it at the top with yarn or ribbon.  You might want to use clear tape to seal any gaps.  Tie a fancy bow to complete the gift. 

Gift Tower #2 – Athletics

Gathering the Gifts

Assorted Items for a Man - Gift 2

For the athlete in your family, a sweatshirt, socks, a hoodie, and protein bars will be appreciated.  Add Starbuck’s coffee, a couple Christmas ornaments and a remote-control vehicle just for fun. 

Assembling the Gift Tower

Stacked Items - Gift 2

The gifts are stacked with the big items first and use the smaller ones to fill the gaps.  If your items tend to shift easily, secure everything in place using yarn. 

Wrapping the Gift

Finished Gift Tower - Gift 2

As with the previous gift, pull the wrapping paper upward, gather at the top and tie with an attractive ribbon. 

Gift Tower #3 – Hearth & Home

Gathering the Gifts

Assorted Gifts for a Woman - Gift 3

For someone who loves home furnishings, start with potpourri, kitchen towels, a collectible glass ornament, and a large glass Christmas ball with a three-wick candle hidden inside.  Add a few snacks for curling up by the fire and relaxing after a long day. 

Assembling the Gift Tower

Stacked Gifts - Gift 3

Fragile items will need to be secured in bubble wrap or boxed.  Also, if you have scented gifts, such as potpourri, be sure to keep them separate from food items in the gift tower. 

Wrapping the Gift

Finished Gift Tower - Gift 3

Festive wrapping paper and a coordinating bow are all you need to complete this gift.

I hope you have picked up a few gift giving ideas for this busy holiday season.  Whatever you choose, let your creativity shine. 

Thanks for Reading, Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

Inspirational Christmas Tree

This Christmas tree is unlike most.  It consists of individual flat pieces of wood, much like a signpost, ready for your painted decorations and inspiring words.

Words/Poetry

Most of my craft projects do not call for poetic or inspirational words.  Grab a piece of paper and a pen and scribble down some possibilities.  Take as much time as you need.  Listen to song lyrics, read poems, or notice seasonal phrases from movies, books, or advertising. 

Christmas Magic Sign

Magic Christmas Sign

You will need to consider how many words/lines will fit. 

Santa Christmas Sign

Santa Christmas Sign

Use any fonts you like.  You could use stencils for the lettering or freehand. 

Merry Christmas Sign

Merry Christmas Sign

Add decorative painted accents such as holly leaves and berries, or enhance your project with accessories like garland, and lights. 

Decorated Christmas Tree

Decorated Tree

Even though this Christmas tree is made with flat pieces of wood, you still need to consider how to decorate it, starting with a color scheme. 

Warm Colors

Warm Colors Ornaments

The warm color palette consists of reds, oranges, and yellows. 

Cool Colors

Cool Colors Ornaments

The cool color palette includes greens, blues, and purples. 

Monochromatic

Monochromatic Ornaments

With a monochromatic scheme, all decorations are the same color, and the variety comes from unique designs. 

Multicolor

Multicolor Ornaments

Create a festive atmosphere with all the colors of the rainbow. 

Christmas Tree Lights

Christmas Tree Lights

Instead of painting Christmas ornaments, you may want to paint lights with metallic acrylics.  Another option is wrapping the tree with mini, battery-operated string lights. 

How to Paint a Wooden Christmas Tree:

Raw Wood Tree

Raw Wood Christmas Tree

This freestanding, raw wood tree may need light sanding, especially the edges. 

Supplies

Paint Supplies

Supplies:
Wooden Signpost Tree (28-1/2” high x 10-1/4” wide x 1/4” thick) (base 8”x4”x1/2” thick)
Acrylic Paints – green, yellow, brown
6) Bottles fabric paint: black, purple, blue, orange, pink, glow in the dark white
Paintbrushes

Paint the Tree & Star – Front

Painted Tree & Star Front

Using acrylics, paint the star, the “branches” and the trunk.  You will need a thin brush to paint the trunk between the slats of green.  Paint both sides of the tree, the base and all the edges. 

Paint the Tree & Star – Back

Painted Tree & Star Back

Because this tree is meant to be seen from both sides, I came up with a finished design for the back.  Paint the trunk brown from the base to the bottom “branch,” and green for the remainder. 

Paint Details – Back

Painted Details Back

Apply fabric paints in thick dots to resemble ornaments upon the tree. 

Repaint Star – Back

Revised Star Design Back

I didn’t like the look of the squared off piece of wood on the back of the star and thought it would better to see the full star on both sides.  To accomplish this, I extended the star shape and filled it in with yellow as shown.  A smiling face was added to the star, using black fabric paint, to give it personality. 

Finished Tree – Back

Finished Tree Back

The back of the tree is now complete.  Only two more steps to complete this project. 

Finishing the Tree – Front

Finishing Tree Front Step 1

Using black fabric paint, write the words you have chosen upon each board.  Finish by giving the star a cute face.  Allow it to dry overnight. 

Finishing the Tree – Front

Finishing Tree Front Step 2

Using glow in the dark white fabric paint, trace the black letters to make them stand out better against the green tree.  Every night, when you turn out the lights, the glowing words will make you smile.  And what a nice way to fall asleep with inspirational thoughts floating in your dreams. 

I hope you enjoy this project and are inspired to explore your creativity.  Good luck in all your artistic endeavors and have fun decorating for the coming holidays!

Merry Christmas, 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.

Solid Color Glass 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 Ornament
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.

Clear Christmas Ball
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.

Mirror 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!

Dashing through the Snow

Santa's Sleigh

“Dashing through the Snow” calls to mind sleigh rides and Santa Claus on his gift giving journey.  With a wooden sleigh and a few accessories, you can create a wonderful holiday centerpiece.  Before we begin, let’s look at color schemes and designs of several sleighs to get your creative ideas flowing: 

Antique Sleigh

Antique Sleigh

Although this sleigh needs some love, wood in its natural state is attractive.  With a little polish, the brass runners will shine again.  The lights and evergreen garland are great seasonal details. 

Stained Wood Sleigh

Brown Wood Sleigh

The beauty of natural wood grain may not require color.  A clear sealant coat helps preserve wood for years to come.  Wood stain is optional. 

Green, Gold & White Sleigh

Green & Gold Sleigh

Green and gold are nice alternatives to the standard red and green Christmas colors. 

One Horse Open Sleigh

Natural Wood & Red Sleigh

A clear finish protects the natural wood color, while the open sides provide decorative opportunities for colorful pillows and blankets to keep riders warm on a cold winter day. 

Formula 1 Sleigh?

Red & White Sleigh

If Ferrari built sleighs, this would be the one.  This sleek aerodynamic design would allow Santa Claus to complete his rounds in half the time. 

Red & Gold Sleigh

Red & Gold Sleigh

The brilliant red and shiny gold trim are popular choices for Santa’s sleigh.

Red & Gold Sleigh with Lights

Red & Gold Sleigh with Lights

Dazzling string lights create a magical ambiance, day or night. 

How to Paint a Wooden Sleigh:

Unpainted Sleigh

Raw Wood Sleigh

There are many wooden sleighs available through craft stores or online. 

Supplies

Paints

Supplies:
Wooden Sleigh (10-1/2” high x 14” long x 6” wide)
Acrylic Paints – red, black, metallic gold, & white
1) Bottle fabric paint: white
Paintbrushes

Sleigh Painted Red

Sleigh Painted Red

Paint the sleigh with red acrylic paint.  It may take a couple coats to ensure smooth, even color. 

Black Painted Rails

Sleigh with Painted Rails

Paint the rails black on both sides and all edges. 

Painted Snow & Gold Trim

Sleigh with White Details

Draw snowflakes on all four sides and paint each with white acrylic paint.  To enhance the designs, go over each snowflake with white dimensional fabric paint.  Paint the edges of the sleigh with metallic gold paint.  This will most likely require two coats. 

This completes the sleigh.  Now it is time to think about making it the focal point of a new centerpiece.  Your next decision is: Who will pull the sleigh? 

Dog Sledding

Dog Sled

Dog sledding teams compete every year in an Alaskan race called the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. 

Horse Drawn Sleigh

Horse Drawn Sleigh

Riding in a horse drawn sleigh has been a tradition for centuries.  In warmer seasons the sleighs are swapped out with carriages for year-round enjoyment. 

Reindeer Drawn Sleigh

Reindeer Drawn Sleigh

Santa isn’t the only one using reindeer to guide his sleigh. 

A perfect 10 on the Cuteness Scale

Yorkie Sled

Holding the reins securely in his paws, this adorable yorkie steers a course straight into the hearts of viewers in this moose drawn sleigh. 

With your selections in mind, it is time to complete this project.  There are no wrong answers.  You may already have everything you need.

Christmas Sleigh Centerpiece

Finished Centerpiece

I chose a pig to pull the sleigh.  His hat is a floral pick, without the stick.  Fabric ribbon serves as reins, and I made a collar with a few jingle bells.  Tuck one end of the reins into the collar, and the other is held by a squirrel, wearing a red crocheted hat. 

Christmas Sleigh Centerpiece

Finished Centerpiece

A floral garland fills the sleigh with a harvest of red berries and green leaves.  It looks like this cute little squirrel is stocking up for the winter.  A male cardinal hitches a ride on the sleigh.  All the red accents unify this design, while the pig provides a bit of whimsy. 

Who will pull your sleigh and who will ride?  Please let me know in the comments. 

Thanks for Reading & 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 an anti-tarnish lined jewelry box.

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.

Silver 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, Glass Pan & 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.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Candy Making 101

Lindt Chocolates

Did you know that many of your favorite candies can be made at home?  Recipes for those shown below can be easily found online, and I have included tips for making these delicious treats.  Let’s get started! 

The Basics of Candy Making:

Milk Chocolate Candy Melts

Candy Melts

Homemade candy usually begins with candy melts, which come in many flavors, including milk, white and dark chocolate, strawberry, mint, and caramel.  Melting can be done on the stove or in a microwave. 

Hand Dipping Chocolate

Hand Dipped Chocolate

Question – What can you dip in chocolate? Answer – Everything from marshmallows and strawberries to Oreos, potato chips and Twinkies.  Many candy confections require dipping as the final step. 

Candy Molds

Chocolate Mold

Simply pour melted candy into the mold and refrigerate.  Candy molds are available in an extraordinary variety, including those for making solid chocolates, truffles, candy bars, hard candies, and lollipops. 

Solid Chocolates:

Halloween Candy

Halloween Candy

Solid chocolate candy is the best place to start for beginners.  Seasonal candy molds are available for every holiday.  You can change the color and flavor by choosing different candy melts. 

Chocolate Lollipops

Chocolate Lollipops

Colorful accents can be added to chocolate in two ways: Prior to pouring the melted chocolate, place small candies in the bottom of the mold, or hand-paint mold details with candy melts in alternate colors. 

Filled Chocolates:

Rolos

Rolos

To make Rolos, melt chocolate, and pour it into the mold, coating all sides and the bottom.  Pour out the excess chocolate, add the caramel center, and top with more chocolate.  Refrigerate, and enjoy. 

Andes Mints

Andes Mints

Andes Mints are made in shallow molds by alternating layers of dark chocolate and creamy mint filling. 

Malted Balls

Malted Balls

Malted milk powder is the key ingredient in these poppable candies, which can be shaped by hand or with piping bag and then dip in melted chocolate

Peppermint Patty

Peppermint Patty

Dark chocolate and peppermint extract are perfectly balanced.  Shape the mint filling into balls, flatten them like coins, and then dip in chocolate. 

Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut butter cups are made by coating the bottom and sides of the mold with chocolate.  Add the peanut butter filling and seal the top with more chocolate.  Refrigerate and enjoy this delicious combo. 

Chocolate Pralines

Chocolate Hazelnut Pralines

Chocolate pralines are a mixture of chocolate and cream with hazelnuts, almonds or pecans.  Depending upon the recipe, you can drop spoonfuls onto parchment paper, or use candy molds. 

Popular Candy Bars:

Hershey’s Chocolate Bar

Hershey's Chocolate Bar

Hershey bars have been favorites for ages.  They are also the number one choice for making S’mores.  Simply melt chocolate, pour into the mold and refrigerate. 

Nestle Crunch

Nestle Crunch

Mix melted chocolate with Rice Krispies, pour into mold and refrigerate.  Yum! 

Milk Way Bars

Milky Way

These candy bars can be made using molds, or a parchment lined pan.  In a mold, layer chocolate, caramel, and chocolate marshmallow.  Top it off with more chocolate and refrigerate.  If using a lined pan, layer caramel and chocolate marshmallow.  Refrigerate, cut into bars, and dip in melted chocolate. 

Three Musketeers Bars

Three Musketeers Bar

Pour melted chocolate into a mold to coat bottom and sides.  Mix chocolate marshmallow filling, press it into a mold and then top it off with a layer of chocolate.  Refrigerate, release from mold and dip in melted chocolate.  These can also be made in an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper. 

Butterfinger

Butterfinger

Believe it or not, most recipes for homemade Butterfingers are made by melting candy corn and mixing it with peanut butter, which is pressed into a mold, and refrigerated.  Dip in melted chocolate. 

Twix Bars

Twix

For Twix bars, follow a shortbread cookie recipe and bake in a square pan.  Allow it to cool and then cut into individual bars.  Spread caramel over the top of each cookie and dip in melted chocolate. 

Kit Kat Bars

KitKat Bar

Are Kit Kat bars your favorite?  Dip crème filled vanilla sugar wafer cookies in melted chocolate.  It’s easy and delicious! 

Hard Candy & Lollipops:

Hard Candies

Hard Candies & Lollipops

For homemade hard candies, most people use a cookie sheet instead of a mold.  Change the flavor or color as desired.  Flavors include various fruits, mints, and caramel. 

Rock Candy

Rock Candy

Rock Candy requires sugar, a jar, sticks, and lots of patience – it takes 1 to 2 weeks for crystals to form. 

Swirled Lollipops

Lollipops

To make swirled lollipops, the warm candy mixture is worked by pulling and folding, creating ropes, which are twined together, and wrapped into spirals.  Add sticks & enjoy.

Gummies:

Gummy Bears

Gummy Bears

Gummy bears appeal to kids and adults.  They can be easily made at home with a gummy candy mold, and you can use fruit juice instead of sugar. 

Presentation is Everything:

Chocolate Tulips

Chocolate Tulips

Just like bunches of fresh cut tulips, these multicolor chocolate blooms are haphazardly stacked in an eye-catching display to tempt your willpower. 

Chocolate Tools

Chocolate Tools

Creative chocolate molds, such as the ones used to make these tools, have strikingly realistic details, and the rectangular display resembles a toolbox.  The chocolatiers have done an incredible job making these life-size “metal” tools, but I think the realism has been taken a bit too far.  Although I know they have been dusted with cocoa powder for a well-worn appearance, rusty items do not appeal to my sweet tooth. 

Chocolate Cell Phone

Chocolate Cell Phone

Want to know a stress reduction secret?  Less technology and More chocolate!  Remember, “stressed” spelled backwards is desserts!  Enjoy!

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

The Art of Pumpkin Carving

Jack O Lanterns

Illuminated by candles, jack-o-lantern carving is believed to date back to 19th century Ireland.  Much like gargoyles, the frightening carved faces were meant to keep evil spirits away, while also celebrating Halloween and the end of the harvest, also known as Samhain.

Mr. & Mrs. Squash

Mr & Mrs Pumpkin

If carving is not in your skill set, painted or hand drawn designs can be applied to real or artificial pumpkins with very little effort.  Because they are not carved, they will last throughout the fall, including Halloween and Thanksgiving. 

Basic Carving

Grinning Pumpkin & Fog

Most carved pumpkins have eyes, a nose, and a mouth.  The shapes and angles determine the expression.  The nubby teeth, in the left photo, create a friendly face for young children.  On the right, glowing light and mysterious fog take a simple carving to the next level. 

Accessorizing

Accessorized Pumpkin

This fashionable character is camera-ready for the next Tim Burton film.  The black-outlined carvings are an unusual touch, and the hat gives this pumpkin lots of personality. 

Devilishly Handsome

Pumpkin Monster

This carved pumpkin owes its devilish good looks to the absence of a nose.  That one little detail, plus the intensity of the light within, gives him a more ghoulish appeal.  The orange skin has been removed from the teeth to create a fiery translucency. 

Fierce and Fabulous

Pumpkin Monster

Jagged teeth, angled eyes and an eerie glow make this pumpkin a formidable character. 

Glowing Eyes in the Darkness

Scary Glowing Pumpkins

Visitors won’t stay long in the presence of these disembodied faces.  LEDs produce high intensity light, which flicker like candles and may also change color. 

Sinister Intentions

Sinister Pumpkins

Choosing a short squat pumpkin sets the stage for these menacing characters.  The one on the left appears to be glaring and possibly snickering at viewers.  The other has fleshy, bloodshot eyeballs highlighted in a creepy orange light.  Glow sticks produce softer, otherworldly light in a variety of colors. 

Anger Management

Angry Pumpkin

Maybe the tooth fairy forgot to leave him money, or perhaps his dentist is on vacation.  We may never know why he is so angry, but the message is loud and clear! 

Good Mother or Cannibal?

Good Mother

Wild animals often carry their young by the scruff of the neck.  Since the teeth are rounded, and the little one does not look frightened, I think she is a mother protecting her baby.  What do you think? 

Sweet Kitten

Kitten Pumpkin

The soft rounded features on this gentle kitten create an adorable expression.

Feral Cat

Feral Cat

This adult feral cat hisses in warning, driving everyone away. 

Monsters Under the Bed

Monster Hand

Most children believe there is a monster under the bed or hiding in the closet.  This monster reaches out to grab passersby if they get too close. 

Playful Bat

Bat Pumpkin

This cute bat reminds me of the movie, “The Little Vampire.”  The orange skin had been peeled off the bat to create bold contrast and to achieve a translucent effect when lit. 

Things that Go Bump in the Night

Pumpkin Trio

Vampire bats, black cats and scary faces are all traditional Halloween decorations. 

Nightmare before Christmas

Jack Skellington

Tim Burton fans will recognize Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King.  The stitched mouth and curved brow lend an ominous quality to his expression. 

Tinkerbell & Frankenweenie

Tinkerbell & Frankenweenie

Disney’s Tinkerbell and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie are sure to charm your guests. 

Ghostface

Scream Ghostface

From the Scream movie franchise, this disturbing face may haunt your dreams. 

Mixed Message

Welcome Pumpkin

It says welcome, but the jagged cuts look more threatening to me, as if to say, “Get out!” 

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead Pumpkin

The intricate details of this skull are remarkable.  The orange is the perfect background to contrast with this floral skull, a perfect specter for the Day of the Dead. 

Monsters Inc.

Grinning Monster

I am not sure what kind of monster this is, but my what big teeth he has! 

Gourd Creatures

Pumpkin Creatures

These creepy critters have human faces, with thick vines for arms and legs.  The wide-eyed stare and twisted fingers look menacing, as if they might spring forward upon unsuspecting viewers. 

Fire Breathing Dragon

Carved Dragon

This dragon was carved from pumpkin, and the artfully arranged flowers and leaves resemble flames.  This multi-layer composition offers textures and fine details, harmonized by the many shades of orange. 

Let’s Go Wildcats

Wild Cat Pumpkin

To create the delicacy of this fierce wildcat, a piece of pumpkin was carved lying flat.  The finished cat was reattached to the round opening, and any cut lines were carefully concealed. 

Halloween Wishes

Ghost Happy Halloween

I hope you have found a few inspirational ideas for your Halloween pumpkins.  Which design is your favorite?  Do you like to carve or paint your pumpkins?  Please let me know in the comments.  Thanks for reading!

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

No Bones About It

Skeleton Human

When it comes to Halloween decorating, skeletons are featured favorites. 

T-Rex Skeleton

T-Rex Skull

Terrifying dragons and dinosaurs are a few of the latest décor entries. 

Saber Tooth Tiger Skeleton

Saber Tooth Tiger Skull

Wild dogs and Sabre Tooth tigers are sure to follow. 

Close-Up Rooster Skeleton

Close Up Original Rooster Skeleton

What about ferocious chickens?  Ferocious may be a bit of a stretch, but “cocky” is a well-earned title. 

Confident & Cocky

Rooster Crowing

At a farm near my home, I saw a defiant rooster face off against a slow-moving minivan.  That bird crowed at the top of his lungs.  I wonder if roosters use curse words.  The bird won the battle of wills!  Apparently, roosters always have the right of way. lol. 

Unpainted Rooster Skeleton

Original Rooster Skeleton

There are many Halloween bird skeletons, including vultures, crows, ravens, and ducks.  When I saw this rooster, I knew I had to do something to make him stand out in a crowd. 

How to Paint a Rooster Skeleton:

Inspiration

Brown & Teal Rooster

A rooster’s crown and wattle tend to be red, but anything goes for the feathers. 

Inspiration

Multicolor Rooster

Because my favorite color is blue, I chose inspirational photos accordingly, but you can choose whatever colors you prefer. 

Supplies

Paints

Supplies:
Rooster Skeleton (12-1/2” high x 11-1/2” long x 7-1/2” wide) sold at JoAnn Crafts
Acrylic Paints – red, black, metallic sapphire blue, & metallic periwinkle blue
Paintbrushes

Painted Head Details

Close Up Red Details

Brush red paint onto both sides of the two most recognizable traits of roosters, the comb and wattle.  Darken the eye sockets with black paint. 

Unpainted Rooster Tail

Close Up Original Rooster Tail

As you might imagine, roosters are very proud of their plumage.  Those tail feathers should be bold and colorful to make their presence known and to impress the ladies! 

Painted Tail – Option 1

Black Rooster Tail

Paint the tail black, which tends to be the most common tail feather color. 

Painted Tail – Option 2

Blue & Green Rooster Tail

Paint the tail a combination of metallic green and metallic blue. 

Painted Tail – Option 3

Metallic Blue Rooster Tail

Paint the tail metallic blue.  I love the iridescent blue feathers shown in the two inspirational photos.  What bothered me about the skeleton was the five bones in the tail, which resemble a metallic hand. 

Defining the Tail Feathers

Black Tail Feather Details

Carefully apply a line of black paint down the length of each tail bone and angled short strokes to create a feathered appearance. 

Side by Side

Two Versions - Rooster Skeletons

Minimally painted head details versus fully defined tail feathers.  If you are satisfied with your results, you could stop at this point.  Additional steps below will give the rooster a more frightening appearance.  

Painted Eye Detail

Red Eye Detail

Outline both eyes with red paint.  This changes the entire expression with a few easy strokes.

Eerie Glow from Within

Metallic Periwinkle Ribs

Paint the inside of the ribs with metallic periwinkle paint.  Many Halloween skeletons come with LED lights hidden inside to illuminate the rib cage.  This one did not come with lights, but the metallic paint produces a similar visual effect. 

Joint Details

Red Joints

Add red on each of the ball joints for the wings and the knees. 

Unpainted Rooster versus Completed Rooster

Before & After Rooster

As you can see, this rooster has come a long way from its humble beginnings.  At a distance, you can easily recognize it, and the extra painted details catch the light, drawing your attention to this demanding and amusing creature. 

For more ideas, please click here to read last year’s post on skeleton painting. 

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Halloween Masquerade

Blue Venetian Mask

Have you wondered what it would be like to be a superhero, a celebrity, or a movie monster? Halloween opens the door to adventure. The stage is set, the orchestra is warming up, and an audience of admirers eagerly awaits your arrival. Who or what will you be? Let us find out together…

Basic Costume Building Blocks:

Mask

Frankenstein & Wolfman

Sometimes all you need is a great mask! Frankenstein’s Monster & the Wolfman are classics. Monster gloves would be nice additions to complete the look. The only downside is that masks can be hot to wear. Be sure to apply character-appropriate makeup to stay in character without it.

Makeup

Skull Face Paint & Eye Contacts

Makeup tutorials make it easy to create any character. Be sure to read the makeup labels before you buy to avoid skin irritation. To elevate the creepiness factor, the man in the photo above is wearing white monster contacts in his eyes.

Costume

Zena Warrior Princess

Whether you prefer DIY or readymade, the key to your success is a great costume. Like the idea of “one and done?”  All you need is a one-piece dress to become Zena Warrior Princess. Confidence is an absolute necessity! The boots, wristbands, and a weapon are optional.

Accessories

Accessories

When creating a character, never underestimate the importance of accessories. Can you imagine Indiana Jones without his hat and whip? Without fangs, Count Dracula is just a guy in a tuxedo. (lol)  

Attitude

Attitude

Musketeers cloak themselves in courage, honor, and dedication to their king. Think about how your character thinks, speaks, and acts and then exhibit those traits. Have fun with it!

Cast of Characters:

Mermaid

Mermaid

If you own a bikini top, you are halfway to a mermaid costume. All you need is the tail. Make sure you can comfortably walk and adjust the tail as needed.

Butterfly

Butterfly Costume

This sexy ensemble requires a one-piece black swimsuit and butterfly wings. Antennae are optional. For a less revealing version, wear a black jumpsuit or top with leggings.

Scarecrow

Scarecrow

The Scarecrow from the “Wizard of Oz” is a classic favorite. All this costume requires is a great hat and handfuls of straw. Any plaid shirt will work, and do not forget to smile and move as the actor did in the original movie.

The Joker

The Joker

This is a perfect recreation of the 1960’s television version of the Joker, played by Cesar Romero. Although he is a criminal, this early version of the character is amusing and lighthearted compared to his diabolical present-day counterpart.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

True to the “Game of Thrones” characters, this couple successfully combined, costumes, makeup, attitude, and accessories, including the little dragon looking over her shoulder.

Medieval Sorceress & Gothic Witch

Medieval Sorceress & Gothic Witch

In the Wizard of Oz, whose side are you on – Glenda the Good Witch or the Wicked Witch of the West? Actors enjoy playing the villain to break out of their comfort zones in favor of a walk on the wild side.

Fantasy Owl Woman

Owl Woman

You might want to create a completely original character, such as this owl woman. Like a living sculpture, she is beautiful and intriguing.

Red Fox

Red Fox

Those mesmerizing green eyes draw you in for a closer look. The details are incredible. The mask blends seamlessly with the costume, and the eye openings are cleverly hidden in the corners of the fox’s eyes. It is utterly amazing workmanship.

Court Jester & Evil Clown

Court Jester & Clown

If you want to be a clown, you have a decision to make…Will you be an amusing entertainer like a court jester? Or terrifying like Pennywise in Stephen King’s “IT”?

Skeletons

Skeletons

There is an extraordinary level of anatomical detail in the skeleton makeup. Look at those teeth! And the half-masks are an illusion achieved through expertly applied makeup! The white contacts, worn by the skeleton on the right, produces a piercing cold stare that feels uncomfortable, even from the photo.

Steampunk & Plague Doctor

Steampunk & Plague Doctor

The secret to a steampunk costume is incorporating metallic details, such as studs, chains, gears, and anything else inspired by 19th century mechanization. The Plague Doctor on the right is terrifying! How could he be a medical professional? He does not appear to be human!

Anime

Anime

Every detail of this costume, from the bows in her pink hair to the tips of her knee-high boots, is a shining example of anime.

Fantasy Princess

Fantasy Princess

This costume is so beautifully coordinated. The color of the faux fox stole matches the colors in her dress. Intricate gold patterns are repeated on her dress, her jewelry, and the beads in her hair.

Medusa

Medusa

Medusa have never looked so fierce and fabulous. Wriggling snakes form the headpiece, topped by a golden crown. The python print dress has snakelike scroll design accents. Special effects snakeskin patterned makeup creates the illusion of snakes emerging from her cheeks and forehead. Yikes!

Reptilian Tree

Carnival Reptilian Tree

What do you get when you combine a human, a reptile, and a tree? You get a fascinating creature covered in gnarly roots and raised scales, with a disturbing face and mysterious, unknown intentions.

Samurai Warrior

Samurai Warrior

Psychological battles begin long before any physical confrontations. With this fear-inducing costume, potential opponents will choose to flee rather than trying their luck.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

When it comes to Day of the Dead costumes, this man must be royalty. The elaborate feathered headdress, staff with life-size human skulls, and tricolor palette ensure he will stand out in a crowd.

Maleficent

Maleficent

This vengeful fairy has great magical powers and a commanding physical presence. The raven sitting atop her staff is a reminder of her connection to nature as protector of the moors. Is she thinking of something witty to say or deciding what to conjure up next? We are probably better off not knowing.

Lord of the Rings: Orc

Lord of the Rings Orc

Tolkien would be proud of this battle-ready orc. The distressed piecemeal garments, weapon in hand, hidden dagger in his boot, and defiant stance are hallmarks of this malevolent Lord of the Rings character.

Amazon Warrior

Amazon Warrior

At first, the soft feminine garments and feathered headdress might lead you to believe she is a vulnerable native princess. But you would be wrong! The multi-pronged weapon, metal-studded glove, and cold calculating stare hint at the powerful fighting capabilities of this formidable Amazon Warrior.

Captain Jack Sparrow

Captain Jack Sparrow

Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the most recognizable characters in the world, which means you need to get the details correct. Check out the tattooed fingers, the braided beard, and the weather-worn hat! All of Jack’s quirky mannerisms and facial expressions have been incorporated into this authentic performance. I wonder how often people request his autograph. Outstanding work!

Venetian Sun

Venetian Sun

In the “Masquerade” scene in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, the cast sings, “Look around there’s another mask behind you.”  During the Venetian Carnival, just when you think you have seen the most exquisite costume ever made, a better one pops up behind it, leaving you awestruck.

Cosplay

Sun Moon Stars & Angel Warrior

Do you enjoy making your own costumes? Most of the extraordinary costumes shown in this post are from the world of Cosplay. There are competitions for best handmade costumes, and these people are incredibly talented. They take costumes to the ultimate level, often equally the wardrobes created for multimillion dollar films. It is fascinating to see, even if you are not into DIY. Enjoy!

Thanks for Reading!

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!