DIY Christmas Wreaths: 5 Wreaths You Can Make to Decorate Your Home

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Grape Vine Wreath

A few years ago, I thought that it would be fun to make a little wreath to help decorate my home for Christmas.  I expected it to be somewhat difficult and time-consuming, but the opposite was true!  It turns out that making your own christmas wreaths (if you start with a base) is really, really easy…and you get some gorgeous results!  The wreath that is pictured above is my own creation.  I just purchased a grape-vine wreath and some artificial flowers and berries from the craft store and threw it all together in less than an hour!  I just used hot glue and crafting wire to hold everything together, and made a little hook out of crafting wire for the back.  It was super simple, and has been a part of my holiday decorations for years!  It got me to thinking though, what other awesomely easy Christmas wreaths are out there to make?  I did a little searching and this is what I came up with.

One of my favorite looks for wreaths has been the cluster of christmas ornaments.  They are just so bright, shiny, and festive that you can’t help but stop to admire them!  Turns out, they are not too hard to make either!  I found a great tutorial on Matt and Becky’s Blog.  You can see their results below, and I have to say they did a beautiful job!

Matt and Becky's Ornament Ball Wreath

Recently, I have been seeing a lot of felt flowers around.  I love how soft and cute they are!  Jen, from Tater Tots and Jello has shared her sister’s awesome tutorial for how to make a gorgeous wreath and even provides a link showing how to make one of her favorite felt flowers.  It all came together quite nicely, and looks fantastic!

Felt Flower Wreath from Tater Tots and Jello

Recently, I have been intrigued by all of the awesome things that you can do with paper…particularly recycled paper.  I have seen many, many fun crafts that can be done using old toilet paper tubes.  Of course, making a wreath out of them is on the list!  See you there design provides a great tutorial for making a really cute wreath out of recycled toilet paper and paper towel tubes.  Just don’t forget the most important tool of all…that glass of your favorite wine!

See You There Design's Cardboard Tube Wreath

Finally, it wouldn’t be right to have a post about Christmas wreaths without a tutorial on how to make the classic fresh fir wreath.  Let’s be honest…nothing beats the real thing!  Save-on-Crafts has a great post with directions for how to make your own fresh greenery wreath.  There is also some discussion about different wreath forms and many more ideas for making some awesome wreaths!

Fresh Wreath

Holiday Gift Wrapping: How To Make Your Own Fabric Gift Bows

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My obsession with paper tends to get a little out of control around the holidays.  There are so many lovely, cute, and just plain awesome gift wrapping options available that I find it hard to hold back on not buying them all!  Last year, I promised myself that I would not buy any new wrapping paper until I used what I had.  It was tough.  Really, really tough.  But I did it, and we all know what that means!  I am free to buy loads of new paper this year!  I have several rolls already, and I am going to be honest, there will probably be more!

Gift giving tends to get a little out of control right along with the paper buying.  I usually set a budget for myself, and blow it out of the water in a matter of days!  This means, however, that I will have even more beautiful presents to adorn the space beneath my tree.  In my opinion, the wrapping is nearly as important as the gift itself!  I have spent years perfecting my wrapping skills, but there is one thing that I feel really makes the gift wrapping shine….and that is the bow!  I will admit that I have been guilty of buying the giant bag o’ bows from the seasonal section of the grocery store.  They are just too affordable to ignore, but instead of slapping a mass produced bow on every gift, i like to mix it up with a few of my own hand made varieties.

This year, I made a design for a cute little paper bow.  They are designed so that I can either put some tape on the back and stick them to the gift directly, or I can run a ribbon through the back for an even more classic look!

These bows are great for smaller presents, but for the large gifts, nothing beats a big, beautiful, fabric gift bow!  I like to use ribbon with wire edges, as they are easier to shape once they are assembled.  The length and width of ribbon that I use depends on the size of the bow, and the number of loops.  In the example below, I used about 6′ of 1.5″ wide ribbon for the bow itself, and looped it 8 times.  You can do whatever looks right to you!

What You Need:

  • Fabric Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • A small piece of String or curling ribbon
  • Double sided tape or Glue Dots

Directions:

Start with the end of the ribbon under your thumb.

Wrap the ribbon around your hand 6 to 10 times.  The more loops you do, the fuller your bow will be.  Also, the size of the loop will be the approximate diameter of your bow.



Cut the other end of the ribbon, making sure that the ends overlap at the bottom of your loops.




Hold together the center of the bow, and cut notches out of each side.  Be careful not to cut yourself when using wire ribbon…it can be hard to cut through.



Using a small piece of string or curling ribbon, tie together the layers of looped ribbon at the notches.



Turn over your bow.  While holding onto the string at the bottom of the bow, fan out the loops.  Spread each loop away from the others and twist.  Do this for all of the loops and form your bow until it looks right.



Using a piece of double sided tape or a glue dot (I like to use Zots 3D), adhere your bow to the package.  Make any final adjustments before placing the gift under the tree.  So Festive!

How to Cook a Turducken: My Turducken Experience

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Turducken!

I have always been intrigued by the idea of doing a turducken for Thanksgiving.  Nothing seems more like a feast than stuffing a turkey with a duck and a chicken!  I have seen turducken available at the store for several years now, but they look more like a weird, processed turkey ham than an actual turkey, so I have avoided them.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could just stuff one myself.  The one problem with this concept was that I would have to de-bone all three birds myself.  This was a task that I was really not looking forward to, and almost killed the thought of doing a turducken at all this year.  I called around, however, and found that not only could I buy a turkey, duck, and chicken at whole foods, but that they would de-bone all three for me…for free!  At that movement, it was decided.  On the spot, I ordered a 12 to 16 pound turkey, a 4 pound duck, and a 3 pound chicken and started looking for instructions on how to cook this beast!

De-Boned Turkey, Duck, and Chicken from Whole Foods

I found conflicting results on the temperature to cook at, and the length of time cooking would take.  The only recommendation that whole foods had for me was to cook the beast low and slow.  I settled on 300 degrees, and based on my research assumed it would take 5 hours to roast (in reality, it took 7, and that was after we got desperate and raised the oven temperature around hour 6).

First thing in the morning, I made up a batch of my cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta (minus the chicken broth).  I also made a batch of sausage and cornbread dressing (minus the chicken broth), a recipe that I found on Allrecipes.com.  We were planning to eat around 6, so I got to work assembling the bird a little after 11am.  I opened the paper to find a nearly totally de-boned turkey.  I had expected them to leave the wings and drumsticks intact, but only the wings remained.  There were also no giblets or bones reserved for my stock, as requested…we made it work though.

De-Boned Turkey

I laid out the turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper, and added a layer of sausage and cornbread dressing.

Turkey with Sausage and Cornbread Dressing

Next, I laid out the duck, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and added a layer of the cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta.

Duck with cornbread stuffing

I repeated this with the chicken, seasoning with salt and pepper, and adding cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta.

Chicken with Cornbread Stuffing

Next, I folded together the sides of the chicken.

Fold together the chicken

I also folded together the duck, and used a metal skewer to hold it together.

Fold together and skewer duck

I repeated this with the turkey, leaving the skewer for the duck in place temporarily.

Skewer the back of the turkey

I then flipped the turkey onto it’s back and removed the skewer from the duck, leaving the skewer for the turkey in place.  Since the legs were de-boned, I filled them with stuffing and tied them with butcher’s twine.

Tie legs with butcher's twine, if necessary.

I then carefully placed the bird into the pan, tucking in any extra skin.  I sprinkled it with paprika, covered with foil, and stuck him in the oven!

Place the Turducken breast side up in a roasting pan. Cover with foil until the last hour of roasting.

At 300 degrees, I would recommend allowing 7 to 9 hours for cooking.  The internal temperature of all layers should be at least 165 degrees.  Also, allow the beast to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting.  The cooler the bird, the easier it is to cut and see the beauty of all layers of poultry and stuffing!

Allow the birds to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting.

For the record, the turducken turned out amazing!  I served it on hot plates, and it helped keep the meal hot at serving time, even after letting the bird rest for so long.

I hope this has been helpful!  Enjoy the Holidays and all that they have to offer…including turducken!

The Best Cyber Monday Sale (in my humble opinion)

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I have a confession to make.  I used to be one of those people.  You know what I am talking about, one of the people who would get up at 3am just to get a $2 discount on wool socks.  My sister and I would make our plan of attack days in advance, hit the coffee shop, and wait in line for hours.  It was madness, every time.  I think that I only once really did get a great deal on something.  the rest of the time it was mostly not worth it.  I usually came home with some good stories though!

We have finally given up this tradition and adopted a new tradition of sleeping in after Turkey Day.  Coincidentally, this change in tradition seems to correspond with the beginnings of Cyber Monday.  For those of you who don’t know, Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving where online shops provide savings on their items.  There is still occasionally some madness, but it is all done while wearing your panda slippers. 

This will be the first year that I am participating in Cyber Monday on the seller’s end of things!  I have teamed up with PDX Etsy, and over 80 Portland, Oregon area artisans will be participating.  You can preview the list of participants on Little Daisy Chain’s Blog here:  http://littledaisychains.blogspot.com/2011/11/pdxetsy-cyber-monday-sale-november-28th.html.  You can also search for items tagged with PDXEtsy to find participants. 

I will be providing 20% off of everything in my Etsy shop this Cyber Monday, November 28, 2011.  Just use the coupon code PDXETSY2011.  Items will include the ever popular Chalkboard Flask (a great gift for guys or teachers), cards, and an assortment of gift boxes and tags for your wrapping needs!

How to Make Your Own Paper Christmas Ornaments

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At home, we have a very wide range of christmas ornaments that range from delicate, intricately painted glass to candy cane reindeer that I made when I was 5.  The tree is always such a hodgepodge!  When I moved out on my own and had to purchase my own christmas ornaments, I decided that my tree would be very chic with a silver and blue color scheme.  I have to admit, it looked fantastic!  Over the years, however, I have come to miss the hodgepodge.  I have been adding little ornaments here and there to try to mix it up a bit.  Recently, I have seen a bunch of paper globe ornaments around.  Looking around, I have found several templates, including the one shown below which I found at rubberstamping.about.com.

Using my Silhouette SD, manually digitized the above template and made my own little ornament!  I used the perforated line to “score” the folds, and it worked great!

While searching for a template for the globe ornaments, I also came across Canon’s Creative Park website.  They have tons of 3D paper creations that you can print from your home computer for free!  Each project comes with detailed directions to easily create some really cute stuff.  One of my favorites was the template for the snowman ornaments.  Check it out here.

Thanksgiving Recipe: Cornbread Stuffing with Apricot and Pancetta

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Anyone who knows me well knows that I love turkey! For that reason alone, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to hang out with family and to have an extra day off, but for me (like most), it’s about the food! At Mom’s house, Thanksgiving is all about tradition. The menu consists of nearly all of the traditional Thanksgiving foods, right down to the candied yams! My favorite part of the Thanksgiving prep every year is making the stuffing! My sisters and I line up, taking turns adding a wide array of spices until we all agree that it is spiced just right, though it never touches the bird until it has met Mom’s exacting standards.

As the years have gone by, I have begun hosting my own Thanksgiving dinners. As much as I try, I just don’t have what it takes to make Mom’s stuffing just right. Instead of trying to copy a masterpiece, I have decided to move on from traditional and try something that is all my own.

The stuffing that I prefer to use on the big Turkey Day is a cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta. It was strange, the recipe came to me one day out of nowhere, and I had to rush home to try it out! Because of this, the original recipe for my stuffing includes chicken broth so that the stuffing can be baked in a casserole dish. If you want to use this recipe in the bird, omit the broth.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-inch square) pan cornbread (from mix or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 slices pancetta, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped turkish apricots
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
Directions:
1.  Crumble cooked cornbread into a large mixing bowl.
2.  In a medium skillet, saute celery, onion, butter, pancetta, and cumin until onions are tender.  Stir in preserves, pecans, and apricots.  Toss with cornbread.
3.  Place mixture in a greased 2 quart casserole dish.  drizzle broth over stuffing.
4.  bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until heated through and lightly browned.

Last Minute Halloween Decoration Idea: Ghost Pops

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I never decorate my home for Halloween.  I never know if I’ll be home to pass out candy, so I’d rather not have trick-or-treaters come to my door only to find out there is no candy to be had.  Instead, if I am home, I try to find a way to display the goods in a cute way.  Usually this means buying a Halloween bowl of some kind when I grab the candy at the store.

This year, I thought it would be fun to dress up the candy in it’s own costume!  To do this, I have turned Tootsie pops into tiny ghosts!  I’ve even made a little diorama of sorts to display them in.  Doing this is super simple, and a fun way to display your Halloween candy to the kids.

For the ghosts, purchase some white tissue paper from the dollar store.  (Many directions indicate to use kleenex, but I have found it difficult to draw a clean face on them.)  Cut the tissue paper into approximately 6″ by 6″ squares.  On one of the squares, use a ball point pen to draw a ghostly face, approximately 1/2″ from the center of the tissue paper.  Layer 2 sheets of cut tissue paper together, leaving the one with the face on top.  Drape the papers over the Tootsie pop and tie at the “neck” with a ribbon or thread.

For the diorama, get some styrofoam or florists foam and a container of some kind.  Cut the foam to fit into the container.  Using hot glue, adhere some decorative moss on top of the foam and insert the sticks from your ghost pops.  For my diorama, I used my Silhouette SD and the available designs to dress up the scene.  I glued toothpicks to the backs of my cut-outs and inserted them into my diorama to make it really pop!