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!

Blogger Thanksgiving

Cornucopia

At this time of year, I usually post an article about being thankful for the many blessings in my life.  I would like to send a big thank you to the bloggers who inspire me.  I apologize if I miss a name or two and will update this post as needed. 

Wordpress New Blog Post

In the blogroll below, you will see the blog title and a few descriptive words for each.  I hope you find something that piques your interest. 

Hassentidoque – fictional stories with illustrative photos
Chambers on the Road – RV travel & retirement
Surf Kawela Hawaii – Hawaii photography & adorable animals
Jeweled Again by Jessica – jewelry art
One for the Money Two for the Road – travel info & photography
Npchumordotcom – comics
FunWritings – protecting the oceans & environment
Senioren um die Welt – world travel info and photography
Tiffany Arp-Daleo Art – abstract art & photography
Beauty and More – beauty & lifestyle
Scuba Hank NYC – sea life photography and videos
Wildonline – British wildlife photography
Our Right to Write – photos and quotes
5thGeneration Girl – family and second chances
El Espacio de Chus – photography
Fun with Philosophy – self-discovery
My Book Eyes – children’s book reviews
Cheryl’s Blog – travel & lifestyle
Miss Val’s Findings – jewelry components
Helene Brennan – Ireland photography & paintings

Blogging Community

Thank you for sharing your extraordinary talents.  I also want to thank my readers, followers, and those taking the time to comment.  I appreciate every one of you.  Together, we form an online community for sharing, inspiring, supporting, and encouraging each other. 

Happy Thanksgiving and Best Wishes to Everyone!

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
Thanksgiving Outdoor Display
Don’t miss an opportunity to create a festive entryway to your home. Decorate an existing bench or cozy front porch with attractive chrysanthemums, pumpkins, and an adorable, feathered friend.

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!

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

Kitten Chewing Pumpkin Stem

In Autumn, as the leaves begin to turn, pumpkin flavored items begin popping up everywhere, from coffee shops to fast food restaurants and even the local pub.  Let’s check out some of the many ways to tempt your tastebuds with pumpkin. 

Beverages:

Pumpkin Beer

Pumpkin Beer

The eye-catching illustrations on pumpkin beers often feature frightening characters, including skeletons, spiders, and this hippo with lots of attitude. 

Caramel Pumpkin Frappuccino

Caramel Pumpkin Frappuccino

Gooey caramel, whipped cream & pumpkin give this chilled coffee drink a delicious seasonal twist. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice Latte

A hot latte warms you up after raking the leaves on a chilly autumn day. 

Pumpkin Spice Cocoa

Pumpkin Spice Cocoa

Pumpkin and chocolate are a great flavor combination. 

Entrees & Side Dishes:

Gourmet Pumpkin Salad

Gourmet Pumpkin Salad

Roasted beetroots & pumpkin slices are topped with baked goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. 

Italian Pumpkin & Mushroom Pasta

Italian Pumpkin & Mushroom Pasta

Walnuts give this flavorful pumpkin pasta dish added flavor and crunch. 

Oven Roasted Vegetables

Oven Roasted Vegetables

Pumpkin slices liven up this mixed vegetable dish. 

Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Risotto

Goat cheese and pumpkin are a savory combination. 

Breakfast Items:

Pumpkin Butter on Toast

Pumpkin Butter Toast

Ordinary toast becomes a seasonal treat with pumpkin butter. 

Pumpkin Jam

Pumpkin Jam

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich receives an upgrade with pumpkin jam.  Or forget about the peanut butter and use chocolate spread.  Yum!

Pumpkin Croissant

Pumpkin Croissant

Croissants are a wonderful indulgence and pumpkin is a great addition to this finger-licking-good treat. 

Pumpkin Quiche

Pumpkin Quiche

Regardless of the ingredients, quiche is always a little slice of heaven. 

Desserts:

Pumpkin Apple Cake

Pumpkin Apple Cake

I’m not sure who the first person was to combine apple pie and pumpkin flavors together, but I just want to say, “Thank you!”

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Cookies

At this Thanksgiving celebration, pumpkin cookies welcome and entice guests.  Decorating them to resemble a sliced pumpkin pie is a clever idea. 

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Cinnamon cream cheese icing in the perfect topping for pumpkin cupcakes. 

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Besides cinnamon and spices, pumpkin ice cream may contain walnuts, pecans, caramel, chocolate, coffee, or bourbon. 

For more pumpkin flavored ideas, including pies, tarts and bread, please read, “Pumpkin – Baking with Seasonal Flavor.”

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

The Art of Cookie Decorating

Cookie Decorating

Designing cakes may be too challenging, but anyone can decorate cookies.  And remember if you make a mistake, eat it and nobody will ever know.  Let’s review our decorating options first, and then see eye-catching photos of delicious cookies.  I’m hungry already.  Let’s go…

Cookie Decorating Options:

Cookie Cutters

Cookie Cutters

Choosing the best cookie cutters is the first step in cookie design.  Easily recognizable shapes and built-in details provide the perfect canvas for your artistic vision. 

Icing

Icing St Patrick's Day Cookies

Chocolates, Candies & Sprinkles

Chocolates Candies & Sprinkles

Melted Chocolate

Chocolate Covered Cookies

Granulated Sugar

Sugar Coated Cookies

Powdered Sugar

Powdered Sugar on Cookie

Fruit Pieces & Fillings

Fruit Filled Cookies

Food Coloring

Colorful Macarons

Stenciling, Airbrushing & Edible Inks

Stenciled Cookies

Easy to Make Decorated Cookies:

Iced Cookies with Candy Pearls

Icing & Candy Cookies

Fruit-Filled Cookies

Jelly Filled Smiley Cookies

Iced Cookies with Sprinkles

Icing & Sprinkles Cookies

Marbleized Icing Cookies

Marbleized Icing Cookies

Chocolate Dipped & Homemade Candy Cookies

Chocolate Fancy Cookies

Themed Cookies:

Seasonal Cookies – Winter

Winter Cookies

Seasonal Cookies – Summer

Summer Cookies

Holidays – Easter

Easter Cookies

Holidays – Halloween

Halloween Cookies

Holidays – Christmas

Christmas Cookies

Special Occasions – New Baby

New Baby Cookies

Special Occasions – Birthday

Birthday Cookies

All Occasions – Oversized Cookies

All Occasion Oversize Cookies

Best of the Best:

Best Thematic Cookies

Best Cookie Design

It all starts with a great cookie cutter, followed by lots of snowflake textures in a wintry color palette.  As in nature, no two are exactly alike.  Granulated sugar simulates the appearance of ice and snow. 

Most Elegant Cookies

Best Elegant Cookies

This looks professionally made but it is a basic sandwich cookie.  The swan cut out in the top layer reveals the raspberry filling inside. Sprinkle powdered sugar for a beautiful bakery finish. 

Most Clever & Humorous Cookies

Best Funny & Clever Cookies

What do you get if you turn a simple gingerbread man cookie upside down?  A team of silly reindeer to pull Santa’s sleigh. 

Best Icing Details

Best Piping & Icing Details Cookies

Multiple decorating elements were utilized to achieve these artistic beauties, including, stenciling, piping, and hand-applied edible ink. 

Best Cookie Presentation

Best Presentation Cookies

Individually decorated cookies have been sculpturally layered, creating a three-dimensional bow of holly.  It just might be too pretty to eat. 

This completes our exploration of cookie decorating.  It’s time to create a few cookie masterpieces of your own.  You might want to take a few photos because this type of art doesn’t last long.  Enjoy!

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Halloween’s Mascots

Black Cat & Pumpkin

When you think of Halloween, what images come to mind?  Most likely there’s a black cat and a few pumpkins in the mix, and rightly so since these mascots of Halloween have been honored for centuries. 

Black Cat & Pumpkins

In this vintage illustration, a cuddly kitten saunters through a pumpkin patch.

Ceramic Cat & Pumpkin – Front

Ceramic Cat in Pumpkin Front

Our project this week is an adorable kitten sitting inside a jack-o-lantern. 

Ceramic Cat & Pumpkin – Back

Ceramic Cat & Pumpkin Back

This three-dimensional Halloween decoration is available at Michaels. 

Ceramic Cat Closeup

Ceramic Cat Closeup

The top of the pumpkin sits on the kitten’s head like a little hat.  Aww, so cute!

Ceramic Pumpkin Closeup

Ceramic Pumpkin Closeup

The cut-outs in the faces of the cat and pumpkin hint at a surprise, which will be revealed at the end of this post in the last photo. 

Supplies

Acrylic Paints

Supplies:
Ceramic Cat in a Pumpkin (6” wide x 6” deep x 8” high)
Acrylic Paints – dark green, black, metallic gold, buttercrunch yellow & orange
Paintbrushes

Painted Pumpkin – Front

Painted Pumpkin Front

Paint the pumpkin orange and the stem green.  Be sure to paint all the edges of the cut-outs too. 

Painted Pumpkin – Back

Painted Pumpkin Back

It will probably require two coats of paint for a nice even finish. 

Painted Cat’s Eyes & Pumpkin Top Edge

Painted Eyes & Pumpkin Interior

Paint the cat’s eyes metallic gold, including the inner edges.  Add black for the pupils and a dot of white in each.  Paint the top edge of the pumpkin, around the cat’s body, with buttercrunch yellow. 

Painted Pumpkin Top Edge – Back

Painted Pumpkin Interior

Painted Cat Closeup

Cat Closeup

Painted Pumpkin Closeup

Pumpkin Closeup

Painted Cat – Front

Painted Cat Front

Paint the cat with two coats of black paint, including the front paws draped over the pumpkin.  Add black lines on both sides of the pumpkin stem. 

Painted Cat – Back

Painted Cat Back

Working out the Details

Drawn Details Closeup

At this point I noticed something funny.  It looks like this kitten is sitting in a bowl of soup, and his disembodied paws appear to be floating on top!  To fix these issues, draw lines in pencil to thicken the pumpkin’s rim and connect the paws, via legs, to the body. 

Painted Details – Front

Painted Details Front

Paint the legs black, and the pumpkin rim orange.  With a fine brush, paint the whiskers white and the mouth pink.  Indicate toes with thin white lines on the front paws.

Painted Details – Back

Painted Details Back

Finished Cat Closeup

Finished Cat Closeup

Finished Pumpkin Closeup

Finished Pumpkin Closeup

Glowing LED Lights

Lit Cat in Pumpkin

This is the finished project.  Concealed LED lights illuminate the inside, just like a real jack-o-lantern.  I hope you enjoyed this fun and easy Halloween project. 

Thanks for reading!

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Halloween in Salem

Trick or Treaters

Salem, Massachusetts is an interesting place to visit, especially in October.  The residents really know how to throw a month-long party, and all are invited. 

Live Music

Live Music

There’s live music and lots of costumes.  You never know who or what might appear around the next corner. 

Live Street Performances

Ghostbusters Street Performers

Street performers entertain the crowds.  We were fortunate to see the ghostbusters arrive in their famous Ecto-1 ambulance.  “I ain’t afraid of no ghost.”

Salem Cemetery

Salem Cemetery

Wander the streets and cemetery by lantern light on a haunted walking tour. 

Good Witches

Good Witches

See a bronze statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens from the television show, “Bewitched,” or conjure up a little magic of your own during a Halloween photo shoot. 

Hocus Pocus Films

Hocus Pocus

Take a trolley ride around town to see numerous historic sites as well as film locations from both of Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” films. 

While visiting Salem, my mom and I noticed several unique Halloween decorations.  Here are a few of our favorites…

Ghosts

Two Ghosts

In a place with such a long history, there are bound to be a few ghosts. 

Pumpkin & Witch

Lucite Pumpkin & Witch

This pumpkin makes spooky sounds and appears to glow in sunlight.  The orange-haired witch holds a bouquet of shooting stars and a friendly bat. 

Goblin & Crow

Goblin & Crow

The goblin looks perfectly happy for a night of trick or treating, but the crow appears quite annoyed to be wearing his pumpkin costume.  More than a few of his tail feathers are ruffled. lol

Mom Ghost & Baby Pumpkin

Ghost Mom Baby Pumpkin

This one is my mom’s favorite because she loves mother and child themes.  We have always loved celebrating Halloween with decorations, costumes, and parties.  Lots of warm memories are attached to this popular holiday, and this adorable figurine bring them all to mind. 

Metal Spider Candleholders

Metal Spider Candleholders

Here’s an important travel tip: If your carry-on bag contains spikey metal objects, it’s going to be searched! lol.  An airport security guard carefully unwrapped the odd-looking objects.  When he saw the spiders, he burst out laughing and held them up to share the laughter with all the guards and passengers.  It’s still one of my favorite Halloween memories. 

Thanks for reading! 

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Halloween: Naughty or Nice?

Naughty or Nice Costumes

There are all sorts of Halloween themes and characters to help us celebrate this imaginative holiday.  Every year you decide what costume to wear, so why not choose a style for your decorations?  Each of the photos below shows Naughty on the left and Nice on the right.  At the end are exemplary displays to inspire your Halloween décor. 

Spiders

Spiders

Jack-O-Lanterns

Jack-O-Lanterns

Pumpkin Pals

Pumpkin Pals

Spooky Pets

Spooky Pets

Pumpkinhead Monsters

Pumpkinhead Monsters

Pumpkin Trios

Pumpkin Trios

Ghostly Trios

Ghostly Trios

Flying Witches

Flying Witches

Pumpkins in the Fog

Pumpkins in the Fog

Skeletons

Skeletons

Scarecrows

Scarecrows

Pathway Lights

Pathway Lights

Pumpkin Personalities

Pumpkin Personalities

Halloween Beverages

Halloween Beverages

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

Cats & Full Moons

Cats & Full Moon

Pumpkins & Vines

Pumpkins & Vines

Halloween Displays:

Nice – Pumpkin Patch Family

Pumpkin Patch Nice

Naughty – Graveyard

Halloween Graveyard Naughty

Naughty & Nice – Interior & Exterior Display

Halloween Window Decor Naughty & Nice

Naughty & Nice – Ghostly Pumpkin Family

Halloween Display Naughty & Nice

Naughty & Nice – Gated Entry

Halloween Gated Entrance Naughty & Nice

Naughty & Nice – Pumpkin Creatures

Halloween Display Naughty & Nice

Naughty & Nice – Sunbathing Skeleton

Halloween Skeleton Coffin Naughty & Nice

Naughty – Watchful Tree

Halloween Owls & Bats in Tree Naughty

I hope you have found some ideas to awaken your Halloween spirit. (Pun intended.)  Now, you have a decision to make … What will it be – Naughty or Nice?  I look forward to reading your answers in the comments section.  Thanks for reading! 

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Blogging Vacation

Sunset at the Beach

Throughout the summer, I usually take a break, by posting every other week.  This year there were so many inspirations to share, that simply I kept going.  I can’t believe it is September already.  Where does the time go?  I will be taking a vacation from blogging and will return in time to celebrate the month of October with lots of Halloween fun.

Metal Owl Sculpture

You may be wondering what I will be doing during the break. First, I have some ideas for new arts and crafts projects to explore. 

Writing a Book
wi

Second, I wrote a mystery thriller novel and hoped to get it published, but the timing wasn’t right.  I will edit the manuscript and start sending it out. I know many of you have written and published books. Any advice regarding publishing and/or literary agents will be greatly appreciated.

Woman in Kayak

Most importantly, I plan to rest and relax, taking in nature in all its splendor.

I will do my best to keep up with all your blog posts and look forward to reading and commenting.  I truly appreciate my followers and visitors and send best wishes to all.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting

The Beauty of Yarn Crafts

Yarn Skeins
Yarn has come a long way over the years, from single color wool skeins to multicolored, textured fibers, made from manmade and natural sources, suitable for clothing, home décor and accessories. Let’s look at a few of the types of crafts made with yarn.

Knitting:
Knitting
Very little is required for any knitting project. All you need is some yarn, two knitting needles, and a pair of scissors, which easily fits into a small tote bag, making this one of the most portable crafts. Knitted clothing and accessories are the most popular items.

Knitted Wool Scarf
Knitted scarves provide a cheerful pop of color to help dispel the dismal winter grays.  They’re easy to make and are great gifts too.

Needlepoint:
Needlepoint Gazebo
If you are unfamiliar with needlepoint, it consists of a variety of stitches applied by hand using a needle and yarn through a canvas, which is preprinted with an attractive design. The kit instructions include the color and stitch type to be used for each part of the pattern, and a full color photo of the finished project. Every style of needlepoint stitch is represented in the gazebo shown above.

Needlepoint Leopard
This leopard needlepoint presents the challenge to create a three-dimensional figure and a complex pattern in the animal’s fur. Gaze upon his face and you’ll realize his eyes are looking right back at you.

Needlepoint Rabbit Pillow
Needlepoint is not limited to square and rectilinear shapes. This adorable rabbit pillow has coordinating blue piping along the edges and light blue velvet fabric on the back.

Crocheting:
Crocheted Afghan
Having an extra blanket around is always handy, especially for an afternoon nap. An afghan is easy to make and gives you a great sense of accomplishment every time you or a family member uses it.

Crocheted Jacket
Recently, crocheted jackets, sweaters, and dresses have become very fashionable, made with lightweight yarns perfect for summer.

P25 Crocheted Horse
Stuffed Animals & Home Décor can also be crocheted. The little pony shown above was made in individual pieces, like using granny squares, and then sewn together using matching lavender yarn.

Cross Stitch:
Cross Stitch
Cross Stitch is similar to needlepoint, except that there is only one type of stitch in the shape of an “X,” and an open weave cotton fabric is used instead of canvas. Many different shades of yarn create light and shadow. The photo above is a project in progress, with the yarn being matched to a detailed color chart.

Cross Stitch Design
With needlepoint, the entire background canvas is covered. In cross stitch, the base, such as this bold red fabric, becomes part of the finished design.

Embroidery:
Floral Embroider
Embroidery uses a special type of yarn called floss, which consists of fine, lustrous fibers. A washable transfer pen can be utilized to trace or draw a pattern upon the fabric of your choice. Embroidery can be done by hand, but today’s technology has developed machines to do the work for you in less time.

Floral Embroidery on Denim
Denim jackets & jeans are commonly embellished with floral embroidery and may include additional beads and studded details.

Floral Embroidery on Velvet
Luxurious fabrics, such as velvet and lace, create the perfect background for showcasing these intricately stitched designs.

Embroidered Burlap Fabric
Against a stiffer background fabric, embroidery becomes sculptural.

Embroidered Japanese Kimono
The embroidery on silk kimonos is not only beautiful, but also illustrates scenes from daily life, as well as mystical legends and historical events.

Latch Hooked versus Hand Hooked:
Latch Hook Balloon
To make this latch hook hot air balloon (AC Moore), yarn is pulled through an open weave canvas using a specialty tool. Latch hooked items have a tufted surface just like plush cut-pile carpeting. It’s hard to resist the urge to run your hands through the soft yarn as you admire your handiwork.

Hand Hooked Fish Pillow
For hand hooked items, such as this pillow, the yarn is pulled through to the back. The front has thick textured stitches, while the loose ends are concealed on the back with fabric. Because the yarns are bulkier, pillows tend to be large-scale.

Hand Hooked Rug
Hand hooked rugs are beautifully patterned and collectible due to their intricate handwork and lengthy time for completion. This loon is actually swimming underwater in search of a fish for breakfast.

Hand Hooked Rug 2
The imaginative designs in hand hooked rugs are truly works of art for your floors.

Baby Gifts:
Nursery Mobile
A newborn nursery would not be complete without a beautiful mobile.

Crocheted Bear
Knitted or crocheted stuffed animals are perfect for babies because they are super soft and washable. For safety reasons, the decorative pink tie around this teddy bear’s neck would have to be removed.

Decorative Trims:
Pompoms
Pompoms adorn throw pillows, curtains, wall hangings, keychains, and many other home furnishing and apparel products.

Jewelry & Accessories:
Yarn Bracelets
Handmade jewelry, belts, and even handbags can be found in fashionista’s wardrobes around the world.

There are so many opportunities to use yarn for your next project. The yarn departments in many stores are brimming over with the latest colors as well as new fibers, such as bamboo, and interesting finishes such as ombré and iridescent. Do you enjoy working with yarn? What types of items have you created? Please let me know in the comments.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!