Dec 16, 2013

Burlap Christmas Song Sign

I made a little sign for over the fireplace this year. Well, it's 30" x 30", so maybe not so little.

The idea came from Denise...on a Whim and her chippy window sign. When I saw it I knew I needed to make one. I like to hang something different every year - click here for last year's "art".

I didn't want to copy her sign exactly, so I went hunting for other Christmas song lyrics. After looking at hundreds of songs - some I'd never heard before - and trying to fit them into a square, I came to the conclusion that The Christmas Song was the one to go with. Denise knows what she's doing.

I cut a piece of burlap to about 34" x 34" to give myself some extra fabric to wrap around the back, and taped off the edges with painter's tape to keep them from fraying. I then used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the words. This is the first time I've cut out something so large - it used up almost all of my adhesive vinyl! - but I love how much time it saved.

I laid out the words in 6 lines, carefully making sure they were even, and that they stayed within the 30" space limit I'd set. Once it was laid out the way I wanted it, I filled in the words with two coats of Antique White craft paint. I left it to dry for the night and then peeled off the stencil. The edges of the letters  were beautifully sharp.

We had just had new living room furniture delivered that day so there were some huge pieces of cardboard laying around. I cut one piece to 30" x 30" to use as a backing board, centred the burlap on it, wrapped the edges behind, and taped it down.

Tom built the frame for me using 1"x3" boards. He routered a rabbet in the back to hold the sign in place and reinforced the corners with L-shaped corner brackets - inset of course.

I stained the frame with Minwax Provincial and then wiped on a coat of watered-down paint the same colour as the wall. A coat of furniture wax, a buff with a soft cloth, and it was ready. I use this finishing method a lot - if you'd like more in-depth instructions, click here.

Since the sign is so light, and I want to reuse the frame, I just taped it into the frame. I hung the sign on the hooks that were already there and added some candlesticks on each side to balance it out.

I've gone pretty light on the decorations this year, and stuck with blue, white, and silver. We aren't going to be home much, and no one is coming to visit, so it was mostly just to perk up our spirits when we catch a glance.

I think the sign is fun and a little quirky. We don't usually decorate with "quirky" in mind, so I think it might be just what we need.

Dec 9, 2013

Birthday/Christmas Tree

I know I've mentioned before that my mother-in-law is very sick. She's stuck in bed most of the time with not much to look at. Since she's not going to be able to decorate her house the way she normally would this year, we decided to liven up her bedroom a bit so she can still have Christmas around her and not feel so isolated.

We bought a potted Norfolk pine and some tiny, little ornaments to make a tree for her room. It's also her birthday today, so we dubbed it the Birthday/Christmas tree.

Once all the ornaments were on I thought it was still a little bare. I'd bought some garland, but it was too heavy for the branches (poor little thing was slumping), so I scoured the house looking for something else to use. It's not so easy to get crafty when it's someone else's house. But I found some tan coloured fabric that she didn't want, roughly cut long, thin strips, and tied them into bows. I was stumped on how I was going to attach them though. I wanted them to sit on the branch as if they'd been tied there, not dangle like an ornament.

I couldn't find twist ties, twine, or even staples. Tom thought there might be a glue gun in the workshop so I sent him off to find it. There was one - still in the package - so Christmas was saved! Okay, that's overly-dramatic, but I did get the bows attached and they aren't likely to fall off.

I found a cleaning cloth that look appropriately "country" and wrapped it around the pot as a tree skirt.

I'm liking this little guy. Kind of want one for myself now.

Dec 4, 2013

Banana Bread You Won't Be Able To Leave Alone

On Saturday morning I had some bananas sitting on the counter that were so ripe they were just about ready to get up and walk away, so on the spur of the moment I made banana bread.

I didn't come up with this recipe - is it even possible to reinvent banana bread anymore? - but it is a really good one and I highly recommend it.

Ingredients (makes two loaves or one loaf and 30 mini muffins):

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
chopped cashews or walnuts
chopped dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together, add in the eggs and bananas, and stir well. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. I used the electric beaters to get a really smooth batter. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour your batter into greased loaf pans or muffin pans. I used half of my batter for a loaf of bread, and the rest for mini muffins.

I wanted there to be some variety so I added in the nuts and cranberries at different times. The loaf didn't have anything extra in it though I did sprinkle some chopped cashews onto the top before it went into the oven. I poured out 12 plain mini muffins, then added some cashews to the remaining batter and poured out 12 more. I then added the dried cranberries and poured out the remaining muffins (about 6).

The muffins will bake faster, so only leave them in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The loaf took about twice as long. Use a toothpick or clean knife to test if the bread is done by sliding it into the center of the bread and seeing if it comes out with no batter residue left behind.

Remove your bread from the pans and let cool on a rack or plate. I find the bread is less soggy on the bottom if you flip it on its side or top while it's cooling.

How to serve it? With butter, jam, or all on its own. I spread almond butter on a slice this week, and I think I've found my new favourite indulgence!

Dec 2, 2013

The Doors are Decorated

I started to pull the Christmas decorations out of storage this weekend. The rule in our family has always been that nothing can go up until the first weekend of December. Lucky for me, December started on a Sunday this year.

We had a lot of running around to do - the bathroom tile we wanted was on sale, as was the sofa and loveseat I've been eyeing for a couple of months - so all I managed to put in place was the front door wreath. I used the same wreath from last year, but with a little extra fanciness added on. (I've tried to find a picture of it from last year, but apparently I didn't take any.)

I wrapped burlap around the frame, then glued on soft garland and pinecones I had gathered at my father-in-law's property.

This year I wove some green and gold ribbon through the garland to beef it up a bit. The ribbon has wired edges, so that made it easier to bend and arrange into little swoops. The final touch was a set of jingle bells that we bought at a gift market in Orillia. If anyone is visiting that area, you must stop by the Mariposa Market. Gifts, baked goods, candy,'s absolutely amazing.

I also hung up the powder room wreath yesterday, so Tom can start calling it the "Christmas Pooper" again.

Everything else is still in boxes and bins. I'm looking forward to unpacking it all so that I can have a little of this,

and this,

You can tell they're excited to be my little helpers, can't you?

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