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Dec 10, 2018

Christmas Snowball Cookies

I'm determined to make a wide variety of cookies this year, even if it means cutting back on sleep. Raise your hand if you've made shortbread dough at 5 in the morning! Sometimes you do what you have to do.

First up: Christmas Snowball Cookies. These have a texture like shortbread and melt in your mouth.

Christmas Snowball Cookies


Ingredients

1 cup of butter, softened slightly
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups of flour
2 cups of finely chopped walnuts
1½ cups of icing sugar (for dusting cookies)

Cream together butter and sugar. Add in the vanilla and salt. Gradually add flour, mixing well. Stir in the nuts until evenly distributed. Wrap the dough in plastic food wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat to 350ºF.  Scoop out dough balls using a small cookie scoop or teaspoon. Roll the dough between your palms to make a round ball.

Christmas Snowball Cookies

Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until they are just beginning to brown, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.  The underside of the cookies should be only lightly browned.

Cool cookies on baking sheets for about 2 minutes -they should still be warm to the touch. Gently roll the cookies in a bowl of icing sugar.

Christmas Snowball Cookies

Place the sugar-coated cookies on wire racks or back on the pans to cool completely. Once cool, roll the cookies in icing sugar one more time.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.


Christmas Snowball Cookies
Christmas Snowball Cookies
Christmas Snowball Cookies

Dec 7, 2018

4x4 Wooden Candle Holders

I still had some 4x4 posts left over after making the wooden snowmen, so I kept on going. You can never have enough candles, am I right? These wooden candle holders let you switch out between tea lights and LED flameless lights any time you want.

4x4 wooden candle holders

You start with pieces of 4x4 post - any length. You can go small, medium, and large, or all the same height - the sky's the limit. I just eyeballed the post and cut it into three approximately equal lengths. One piece is slightly longer than the other two, which I think looks better than all exactly the same.

I stained all four sides and the top of each with Minwax stain in Jacobean, and then wiped on flat white paint with a cloth. I applied the paint unevenly so that it looked aged and a bit like old barn wood. In some places the stain shows through.

4x4 wooden candle holders

To drill the insert for the light, I had Tom use his hole saw set. The hole saw only cuts around the outside of the circle, so this method involves using a series of progressively smaller hole saw bits and then finishing with a spade bit. The other option is using a Forstner bit. This bit has several angled blades and drills out the entire hole at once. The hole saw is slower, but it is easier to control.

4x4 wooden candle holders
4x4 wooden candle holders
4x4 wooden candle holders

Once the hole was drilled, I rubbed the interior with stain and paint like the sides. I then wrapped jute twine around the candle holder three times and tied it in a bow. Over the bow I glued a slice of tree branch and a bit of potpourri.

4x4 wooden candle holders
4x4 wooden candle holders
4x4 wooden candle holders



Dec 3, 2018

4x4 Wooden Snowmen


The town resurfaced our road this summer and that extra layer of asphalt was enough that our mailbox was now too low. We had to replace the 4x4 post, so the old one went into the scrap wood bin until I could make these adorable 4x4 snowmen.

4x4 wooden snowmen


To make one you will need:

3' of 4x4 post
white, black, & orange paint
scrap fabric
yarn
buttons
miter saw
hot glue gun


Cut your post into three pieces. I randomly cut the post lengths without measuring, and ended up with pieces that were 9-1/2", 11-1/2", and 13-1/2" long.

4x4 wooden snowmen

I wanted a flat paint finish for the snowmen bodies, so I chose white ceiling paint, and rubbed it on with a cloth to give it just a light washed look.

Once the white paint was dry, I used poster paint to add the eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons. I used a fairly wide artist's brush which gave the features a more rustic, cartoonish look instead of being sharply defined.

4x4 wooden snowmen

You can use any type of fabric you want for the hat and scarf. I used scraps of flannel left over from the receiving blankets and stuffed animal I made for my cousin's baby.

Cut a fabric rectangle measuring 10"x15". Fold the fabric over twice on the long side to create the brim of the hat, and wrap it around the top of the post, just above the eyes. Glue one end of the rolled edge of the hat to the post at the back, then fold over the other end and glue it to the first edge.

4x4 wooden snowmen

Gather the top of the hat together and tie it off with yarn. Floof the top of the hat like a pompom.

4x4 wooden snowmen

Take another scrap of fabric, 17" long and about 1" wide, and wrap it around the post at the neck. I picked fabric for the scarves that didn't quite match the hats because, when we go out to play in the snow, we don't worry about matching, we just make sure we're warm. Crisscross the fabric and secure in place with a dot of hot glue. Glue a button where the two ends cross.

Done!

4x4 wooden snowmen
4x4 wooden snowmen
4x4 wooden snowmen
4x4 wooden snowmen
4x4 wooden snowmen




Nov 30, 2018

Handmade Ornaments

I'm guessing that you'll be putting up your Christmas tree soon, if you haven't already. I'm about 90% there - I'm hoping to finish it this weekend. My favourite ornaments are the ones that I've made over the years. They give me a glimpse of what was going on at that time in my life. Here are a few that I hang year after year. Click on a picture to go to the original post.


Pinecone Map Ornament

This ornament is made from paper leaves cut from a map of Honolulu. We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon and fell in love with the islands. I wanted an ornament to remember it by, just in case we didn't get a chance to see it again. (Spoiler: we've been back twice!)



Scrap Wood Tree Ornament

This one was made from scraps left over from the porch that Tom built for his parents. He always laughs at me when I scurry around collecting the end cuts before he can throw them out.



Musical Ornament

I call this the "Jingle Bell" Ornament. It's made of strips of sheet music mod podged onto a Styrofoam ball. I bought a book of sheet music from a used book store so that I would have plenty to work with (and the paper is thicker than printer paper).



Vacation Memory Ornament

Because there were more trips to Hawaii, I needed another way to commemorate them. I bought clear bulb ornaments, filled them with sand from a favourite beach (each ornament is different), plus a few shells, and a scrap of paper with the trip details. These ones are fun, but a bit heavy!






Nov 26, 2018

Under-bed Shoe Drawers

I have a lot of running shoes. Maybe too many. I should probably throw some of them out, but it's so hard, you know?

I was tired of looking at them piled up on a shelf in our closet, so I had Tom whip up some under-bed sliding drawers for me, to get them out of sight.

Under-bed Shoe Drawers

I wanted to use as much of the space as possible, but I didn't want the drawer to be too big to move, so we went with two drawers, one 3 feet wide and the other 3-1/2 feet wide. They're both 15 inches deep and made of 1/2" veneered plywood.

Under-bed Shoe Drawers

The edges are 3-1/2 inches high - high enough to hide the shoes from sight, but still low enough to give your fingers clearance to pull the drawers out.

Under-bed Shoe Drawers

The inside corners are reinforced with 2x2s cut on a diagonal. Since the front edge is what gets pulled on all the time, you don't want the board pulling right off.

Under-bed Shoe Drawers

I stained the visible sides (front of drawers and side edge at the foot of the bed) a dark Jacobean brown to blend with the bed frame and then added 2" furniture sliders to the bottom corners so that the drawers don't get caught on the carpet.

Under-bed Shoe Drawers

Tom liked them so much that he built some for his side of the bed too. I think he's hoping I forget about them and he won't ever have to wear dress shoes. I'm just glad I don't have to look at his big ol' sweaty sandals anymore. :-)

Under-bed Shoe Drawers
Under-bed Shoe Drawers





Nov 23, 2018

Merry Christmas Stenciled Wall Sign (Silhouette/Cricut)


More holiday decorations today. After slacking off the last couple of years, I vowed that this year I would complete all of the crafty projects I have saved up.

stenciled Christmas sign (Silhouette/Cricut)

I made this sign for my house back in October and I've been waiting so impatiently to share it with you! The build is pretty easy - the most time-intensive part is placing the stencil.

You will need:

1 - 1x12 board - 42" long
2 - 1-1/4 x 3/8 trim pieces - cut at 45 degrees - 42.75" longest point to longest point
2 - 1-1/4 x 3/8 trim pieces - cut at 45 degrees - 12.75" longest point to longest point

Also:

Merry Christmas stencil (cut with Silhouette/Cricut/by hand)
Paint/stain
Brad nailer and brad nails or driver and screws
Miter saw
French cleat for hanging (optional)

Cut your sign board and sand it smooth on the face and edges. Cut your trim strips for the border at a 45 degree angle.

Paint one side of the board in your chosen colour. I mixed BM Edgecomb Gray with plain white paint to lighten it up. Stain your trim pieces in a contrasting colour. I chose Minwax Jacobean.

I used my Silhouette Cameo cutter to cut the words from vinyl. The font type is called Harrington. My vinyl is only 12" wide so I had to cut the words out in pieces, a few letters at a time.

Once you have your stencil cut, arrange it on your sign board so that the spacing is even. My vinyl is peel and stick, so the letters stay securely in place.

stenciled Christmas sign (Silhouette/Cricut)

A trick to keep your letters sharp is to paint along the inside edges of the letters in your background colour first. This forms a seal to keep your top colour from bleeding around the edges.

stenciled Christmas sign (Silhouette/Cricut)

I painted the letters with dark brown poster paint - several thin coats, letting it dry completely between coats.

stenciled Christmas sign (Silhouette/Cricut)

Once your letters are completely dry, peel off your stencil and do any touchups necessary. Nail your trim pieces onto the edges of the board, keeping them flush with the back and with a slight overhang at the front. Squeeze or clamp them tightly together when you nail the corners.


stenciled Christmas sign (Silhouette/Cricut)

stenciled Christmas sign (Silhouette/Cricut)

I hung the sign in the living room above our stockings. It perfectly frames the opening to the kitchen and it's the first thing you see when you come in the house. It's hung with a French cleat - very secure and the weight is evenly distributed.

stenciled Christmas sign (Silhouette/Cricut)

stenciled Christmas sign (Silhouette/Cricut)

stenciled Christmas sign (Silhouette/Cricut)


Nov 19, 2018

Holiday Wreaths

A cheery front door just sets the tone for the rest of the house. Today I'd like to share with you a roundup of holiday wreath ideas. Some are my own and some are beautiful creations I've found around the internet. Click on any photo to go to the original post.

This simple wreath is made entirely of items you can find at the dollar store. The cinnamon pine cones ensure that a lovely scent greets you right from the start. I made this wreath several years ago and still bring it out year after year.



This wreath has a deceptive simplicity. The more you look at it, the more details you discover. There are at least six different types of greenery, and the white stems and red berries tie it all together.



This wreath started out with just greenery and pinecones. I gave it a boost by weaving in strips of burlap and bunches of green berries.



Your wreath doesn't always have to be on the front door. This pinecone-heavy wreath gets lightened up with the addition of snowball ornaments plus gold and burlap ribbons. The window frame turns it into a holiday vignette. This was my absolute favourite wreath display and I miss having a fireplace to decorate.



This wreath goes heavy on the greenery and has a lovely country farmhouse feel. If you're lucky enough to have a wooded area nearby, you can collect your own branches and pinecones.



Sometimes a wreath goes through many adjustments before its final incarnation. This one started out as a pool noodle. I loosely wrapped burlap around it like a sock and used it for an autumn wreath. For Christmas, I attached soft garland, pinecones, and ribbon. The final touch was a set of sleigh bells.


One last wreath. I adore this bright and shiny ornament wreath. Buy inexpensive plastic balls so that you don't have to worry about it getting bumped and breaking. Use ornaments with different sheens and textures to give a natural look.









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