World of Color: Meanings, Perceptions & Expectations – Part 2

Sunrise
There are times when the sky is so blue that you find yourself daydreaming every time you pass a window. And then there are days so gray and gloomy that it’s hard to believe the sun could be hiding behind those clouds. If you have ever flown on a rainy day, you know how amazing it is to see the sunlight burst across the sky as the plane reaches its cruising altitude, high above the cloud cover. The people on the ground have no idea what a gorgeous day it is. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Part One of this series covered the warm color palette: red, orange, and yellow. Those colors encourage taking action, family activities, celebrations, romance, and getting noticed. In Part Two, you will learn about the hidden meanings, common perceptions and our expectations associated with the cool color palette: green, blue, and violet. When it comes to psychology, there are no “neutral” colors.

Color: GREEN
Four Leaf Clover
Good Fortune & Abundance – “Overnight” successes usually start as ideas, followed by a series of goal-driven steps, which culminate in bringing the dream to fruition. Maybe the luck of the Irish is in knowing when to take a leap of faith?

Emerald & Diamond Ring
Wealth & Prosperity – Prosperity means different things to different people. For some, it’s shiny cars or expensive baubles. For others, it’s getting that big promotion at work. Perhaps one of the best ways to feel prosperous is to surround yourself with family and friends to accompany you on this journey called life.

Sunlight streaming through trees
Grounding & Rebalancing – Feeling out of sorts? Take a walk in the woods. The soft sensation of the grass beneath your feet and rustling leaves in the breeze will rebalance your mind and body.

Mountain Landscape
Natural Beauty, Calming & Relaxing – Scenic landscapes have the magical ability of slowing down the hectic pace of our everyday lives, quieting our minds and relaxing our bodies. When a trip outdoors is not a possibility, viewing landscape paintings and photographs can have the same beneficial effects.

Green Grapes
New Opportunities & Indulgence – Grapevines are the ultimate opportunity seekers. Birds scatter the seeds, and the vines grow wildly, climbing over any and all obstacles to reach the sun. At the end of the day, as you enjoy a glass of wine, remember we owe our thanks to the lowly grapevine’s hardy and tenacious nature.

Cliffside Waterfall
Renewal, Refreshing & Personal Growth – Challenge yourself. Go hiking with friends. Take that trip you’ve been dreaming about. Make time to truly experience the beauty of the world around you. Let your cares melt away as you enjoy some very well-deserved “Me Time.”

Color: BLUE
Butterfly Fantasy
Fantasy & Inspiration – The most fertile ground in this world lies in your imagination. Always the explorer, you never know what wonders lie around the next bend, just waiting to be discovered. What comes next? You decide!

Balloon Dreamscape
Dreams – In dreams, we’re all super heroes. Your feet never touch the earth, and you’re free to fly whenever and wherever you please. There are no rules. Anything is possible. Keep on dreaming.

Sailboats on the Ocean
Refreshing & Relaxing – The gray days of winter are quickly forgotten with the arrival of the brilliant blue skies of spring. When it comes to our precious vacation days, most people are drawn to oceans, lakes, waterfalls, and even the hot tub in your backyard for the soothing, refreshing effects of water.

Sunrise above the earth
Mystery & Wonder –Our bodies, like our planet, are 70% water. We’re more alike than we are different. Seven billion people share this world and we’re changing it for the better, one person at a time.

Swan on a lake
Tranquility, Solitude & Self-Reflection – A swan, silently gliding across pond, is a portrait of grace and beauty. Meditation and personal reflection are enhanced when surrounded by nature. Find a quiet spot. Give yourself the gift of quiet reflection. You’ll be glad you did.

Cookie Monster
Playful – Charming and playful as ever, Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster has been entertaining and befriending kids of all ages for over fifty years. And he hasn’t aged a day! He reminds us to make time to laugh and play every day, and most importantly … eat more cookies!

Color: VIOLET
Twilight
Wishes, Dreams & the Future – We often look to the horizon, wondering what the future holds. Faced with uncertainty, ancient mapmakers used to write, “Beyond here there be dragons.” Turns out there were no dragons, only new friends yet to meet.

Gemstones
Exotic & Regal – The earth provides a multitude of beautiful gemstones, typically worn as personal adornments. It is believed Cleopatra had lapis lazuli and amethyst gemstones ground into powders to make eye shadows. And you thought your makeup was expensive?

Lavender & Butterfly
Sleep Inducing & Mood Enhancing – Lavender is a wonder drug courtesy of Mother Nature. The color and delicate floral scent promote a restful, quiet state of mind and improved sleep.

Silk
Luxury, Passion & Royalty – There’s nothing like the luxurious feel of silk against your skin. The color violet was once reserved for royalty. Today we can treat ourselves to whatever fabrics and colors we choose.

Spa Ambiance
Indulging, Pampering & Pleasurable – Day spas and fitness resorts understand the beneficial physical, psychological and emotional effects of color, fragrance, music, flavors, and simple human touch. By appealing to our five senses, we are transported, if only for a little while, to a place where pleasure reigns and the art of doing nothing is our only pursuit.

Thunderstorm
Powerful & Majestic – Have you ever watched a thunderstorm? It’s so powerful that you can feel the electricity in the air. The landscape changes from one second to the next as bolts of lightning pierce sky in a kaleidoscope of light and color. Mother Nature puts on quite a show and the admission is free.

The Great Ice Cream Color Debate:
Green Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream versus White Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream – one of the most popular flavors of all time. Have you ever considered the color? Should it be green or white? You’re probably asking yourself, “What difference could the color possibly make?” Right?

Here’s where it gets interesting: There’s an expression: “You eat with your eyes first.” You may not be aware of this, but color affects your perceptions of taste. For many people, if the ice cream isn’t green it’s not mint, but it’s not just a matter of color. They actually don’t taste the mint flavoring! For them, it’s vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips. Their sense of taste is overpowered by their visual expectations.

Have you ever been surprised by the flavor of a food based upon its color? What flavor were you expecting? Would changing the color improve the taste? Dr. Seuss once asked, “Would you eat green eggs and ham?”

To read part one of this post, please click here. Need some advice on color selection?  Read this post: “Color Selection 101.”

Happy Crafting!

World of Color: Meanings, Perceptions, & Expectations – Part 1

Rainbow Colors
Color has a huge impact on our lives. Nature envelops us in color on a daily basis, although sometimes we fail to notice. We all have a favorite color. You know the one I’m talking about. While wearing it, you feel fantastic and you say to yourself, “Damn, I look Good!” (lol)  Other people notice too. Compliments are flowing. Is it the color that attracts attention or is it the way it affects your thoughts and behavior?

In this two-part series, you will learn about the hidden meanings, common perceptions and our expectations associated with particular colors. When it comes to psychology, there are no “neutral” colors.

Color: RED
Red Ferrari
Powerful, Energetic & Exhilarating – Secretly many people share the fantasy of being race car drivers. Performance car manufacturers satisfy this need for speed. Red is your color if you want to get noticed. Heads will turn, including local law enforcement, which tends to target red vehicles for speeding.

Red Balloons
Romantic, Spontaneous & Affectionate – Hearts in many forms, such as candy, balloons, jewelry, accessories, and home décor, are given to express love. Red roses are a Valentine’s Day staple.

Fairy Tale
Tempting, Daring & Dangerous – Snow White gave in to temptation by eating the apple and fell asleep.  Do you dare?

Red Gown
Bold, Sexy & Confident – Red screams, “Look at me! You won’t believe what I’m going to do or say next!”

Motivational Scrabble Tiles
Motivational, Courageous & Defiant – Never give up on yourself or your dreams.

Red Velvet Cupcake
Stimulating – In case you didn’t know, Red Velvet Cake is chocolate cake with lots and lots of food coloring. Red is known to stimulate the appetite. My mouth is watering just looking at the photo. (lol)

Color: ORANGE
Friendship
Playful & Friendly – What could be better than watching the sunset with your best friend?

Bonfire
Family & Entertaining – Firelight invites sharing of stories and roasting marshmallows with family and friends.

Halloween Cat
Halloween – Candlelit jack-o-lanterns, black cats and ghost stories are memorable elements from Halloweens past.

Orange Chinese Dragon
Celebrating & Festive – Bright lights and colorful decorations set the stage for getting the party started.

Field of Joy
Joyful, Laughter, & Lighthearted – Happy people are a pleasure to be around.

Orange Leaves
Seasonal, Change – Autumn arrives in flamboyant style with a full color show.  Change is inevitable. Welcome new opportunities.

Color: YELLOW
Yellow Sunflowers
Happy& Uplifting – The sun regulates our internal clocks, making us active during the day and sleepy at night. When it is cloudy and overcast for extended periods of time, we often feel lethargic and uninspired.

Yellow Caution Signs
Cautionary& Stimulating – Who knows what lies around the next corner? No falling asleep on this drive.

Yellow Chick
Warm & Fuzzy – This cute little guy begs to be touched, melting hearts with just one look.

Kermit the Frog
Energizing & Motivational – “Don’t just sit there! Get up & get moving!”

Refreshing Lemonade
Sweet & Tart – A lemonade stand is a summertime favorite & childhood right of passage.

Yellow School Buses
Attention Getting, Childlike, & Unpredictable – In late August, the first sighting of a school bus marks the end of summer and the return to school. If you’re a kid, it’s a bummer. If you’re a parent, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I’ll share a little family story with you. I have an aunt, who always wanted a pair of red leather gloves. She doesn’t know why she never bought them, and kept this wish to herself. Why? Did she assume they were too flamboyant? Maybe the color red had “naughty” connotations for her? When she finally mentioned the gloves, I bought her a pair for Christmas. You should have seen her expression when she opened the gift. A smile bloomed as she realized a lifelong wish had come true. Such a simple thing brought so much joy.

Take a look at the colors you’re wearing right now. How do they make you feel? Want to make a change? Could the addition of another color make a difference? Give it a try.

To read part two of this post, please click here.  Need some advice on color selection?  Read this post: “Color Selection 101.”

Happy Crafting!

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. For more information on beaded jewelry, please read “Designing Beaded Jewelry.”

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.  To learn more about color, please read “World of Color – Part 1” and “World of Color- Part 2.”

Happy Crafting!

Valentine’s Day Crafts of Love

Love Birds
Valentine’s Day is a great time to let those special people in your life know how much you care – spouse, partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, father, kids, grandparents, friends, and the list goes on… Flowers are nice, but a show of affection doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, some of the simplest ways cost very little, but mean so much.

Drawing, Coloring & Painting
No Words Necessary
Sometimes no words are necessary. Create a simple drawing or a fine arts painting.

Papercrafting & Creative Writing
Papercraft
Instead of buying expensive greeting cards, buy fancy paper or card stock and write your own message. A few well-chosen words or a favorite quote will do nicely, or you might want to challenge yourself by writing a poem.

Candle Light For A Romantic Evening
Candle Light For A Romantic Evening
Candles provide light, scent and ambiance. The incredible selections include beeswax, fragrances, multicolor, tea lights, pillars, tapers, battery operated LEDs, and electric. If you can’t find exactly what you want, get a candle making kit.

Baking Sweets For Your Sweet Heart
Baking Sweets For Your Sweet Heart
With the infinite number of recipes on the Internet, and the availability of boxed baked goods, anyone can bake delicious cookies, cakes, and breads.

Who Doesn’t Love Candy?
Candy & Flowers
Store-bought candy comes in mouth-watering flavors. If you prefer a more hands-on approach, buy candy melts and a mold to surprise the chocolate lover in your life with a few homemade confections. A heart shaped box can be purchased to complete this romantic theme.

Jewelry Making
Jewelry Making
Jewelry is a versatile gift for women, men and kids. Obviously there are many readymade items on the market, but if you make your own, it’s sure to be one of a kind.

Valentine’s Figurines
Valentine’s Frog Figurines
If you can’t find the right words, and the thought of making something gives you chills, there are plenty of inexpensive Valentine’s figurines sure to charm your loved one.

Stuffed Animals
Teddy Bear
A big cuddly bear could be just the ticket to getting a big “bear” hug.

Charms & Trinkets
Charms
Located in the jewelry aisle of the craft store, charms and pendants can be added to an existing bracelet or necklace, and can also be used on key chains and purses.

Flower Arranging
Silk Flowers
While fresh cut flowers can be outrageously expensive for Valentine’s Day, silk flower can be arranged in a pretty vase or container at a much more affordable price.

Photography & Framing
Framed Photo
We all have special moments in our lives. Times we want to remember for a lifetime. Take a photo of that special person, event or location and place in an attractive frame.

Knitting & Crocheting
Knitted Gloves
Crocheted or knitted hats, scarves and gloves are always appreciated. The addition of faux fur trim is a hot trend in fashion today.

Don’t Forget Your Furry Friends
Dog in a Blanket
A blanket is the perfect accessory for a warm and cozy nap on a cold winter day.  If needlework is not in your skill set, a new toy or a playdate will thrill your pet.

It doesn’t matter how you choose to say it. Just let your loved ones know how you feel.

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!