DIY Santa Ornaments

I’ve made it a rule to avoid the craziness that is Black Friday at all costs. I hole up in the house and don’t emerge again until at least Saturday – unless I’m simply going to visit with friends who’ve come back to town for the holiday. I never really understood going out at 3am to get pushed and shoved by other shoppers, and now, having worked retail for over 3 years (thankfully, I’ve left that stage of my career behind), I know first-hand how insane it can be and have sympathy for those who must work the holiday. I’d just rather stay home, sleep in, enjoy a day of relaxation with the family, and maybe even do some decorating for Christmas.

But today, I broke that rule. Granted, I didn’t go out until after noon, and the only reason I went was to get crafting supplies. My family is doing Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, and my sister and I, being the magnificent planners that we are, decided that with 5 kids aged 12 and under, we should craft some ornaments to keep the kiddos out from underfoot – when we had virtually none of the supplies we needed on hand. So off we went to the dollar store and chain craft store.

Naturally, we had make samples of a few of the ornaments when we got back from the store. I mean really, all that crafty goodness on hand, who could wait until tomorrow without playing with at least some of it?

I love the way the Santa ornament came out. We used 2 1/2″ red ornaments, 5/8″ black ribbon, gold glitter-coated foam, and tacky glue.

I drew out the belt buckle on the back of the foam: 1 1/4″ by 1 1/4″ square, with a 1/4″ margin around the 2 slits for the ribbon to pass through. I used an X-Acto knife to cut out my buckles. You can see a finished buckle to the right in the picture. I just love the sparkle!

Santa's Belt Buckle

My buckle isn’t cut the straightest because I was holding the foam off the table, trying my hardest not to cut mom’s tablecloth, since I was too lazy to find some cardboard to put underneath the foam.

Then you just thread the ribbon through the buckle, spread a very thin layer of glue along the entire length of the ribbon, and center it on the ornament pressing firmly to make sure it adheres. I added a little extra glue to the ends of the ribbon to make sure they were really secure.

038Isn’t that just adorable?! And so easy for the kiddos (note: I cut the buckles out for the youngest ones ahead of time).

We’ve got more ornaments on tap for the kids to make, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, snowmen, candy canes, and more. Make sure to check back in a few days to see the results!

I’d love to see what kind of ornaments you’re crafting! Or are there any that you remember making as a kid? I remember popsicle stick reindeer and glittered pine cones (I think we still have them somewhere!).

As always, questions and comments are welcome! I’d love to hear from you! Hope you enjoy the rest of you holiday weekend!

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Winter Wonderland Deco Mesh Wreath

Hello again!

Last week’s snow has really gotten me into the Christmas spirit. Contrary to most of my co-workers and clients, I went into work grinning ear-to-ear and singing carols. I just love this time of year! Granted, it is currently 50 degrees and rainy, and all the snow has melted. But they are calling for snow showers on Thanksgiving! Such is life in northwest Ohio – if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it will change.

Now, being as I’m all in the Christmas-y spirit (I may or may not have pulled out some snowflake pajamas with the snow this week), I decided now would be the time to share my winter deco mesh wreath I made a couple months ago. I don’t have a full photo tutorial because I was trying out a new (to me) method of weaving the mesh into the wire frame and I had no idea if it would turn out, let alone how great it turned out.

Blue Winter Wreath 001

I used nearly two rolls of 12″ x 35ft of mesh ribbon in an ice/baby blue. I started by using a piece of pipe cleaner to attach one end of the mesh to the wreath from the back side. Then, working with the mesh at back of the wreath, pull up loops of mesh from the back to the front, one loop for each the three spaces in the wire frame. Initially, I worked back and forth from the inside ring to the outer ring, then from the outer ring to the inner ring. But I quickly realized this method was giving me more loops in the middle space of the wreath and making it uneven, so I switched to only working from the inside of the ring out.

Attach mesh with pipe cleaner. Use blue or white - I used red for contrast in the pic.

Attach mesh with pipe cleaner. Use blue or white – I used red for contrast in the pic.

Pull up loop of mesh from the back to the front in the inner-most ring.

Pull up loop of mesh from the back to the front in the inner-most ring.

Pull up loop in middle ring, again from the back to the front. Fluff loops as you go to get even fullness.

Pull up loop in middle ring, again from the back to the front. Fluff loops as you go to get even fullness.

Pull up loop in outer ring.

Pull up loop in outer ring.

Now go back to the inner ring and pull up another loop. Continue pulling up loops, working from the inner ring to the out ring, until desired fullness is reached. Secure end of mesh with another pipe cleaner.

Now go back to the inner ring and pull up another loop. Continue pulling up loops, working from the inner ring to the out ring, until desired fullness is reached. Secure end of mesh with another pipe cleaner.

Once I had the mesh to the desired fullness (sorry I didn’t count how many loops I did in each section), it was time to add some flair. I used some silver snowflake “garland” (similar to this) and some silver beaded garland (think mardi gras beads) and draped them around the wreath, attaching it to the back with pipe cleaners once I had them laid out wear I wanted. (Be Aware, the garland will droop with gravity once you lift the wreath up, so you may have to do more adjusting with pipe cleaners to get it to lay where you want).

After the garland was done, I attached a silver bow (you can buy one pre-made, or make your own using a bow-maker).  I then added 3 white-painted pine cones and 4 white plastic snow flakes spaced evenly around. The pine cones were attached with floral wire wrapped in the base of the pine cone. The snowflakes were a little trickier. I used fishing line to tie around the center of the snowflake, then slid a pipe cleaner under the fishing line on the back of the snowflake and twisted to be sure it was attached firmly, essentially making a snowflake lollipop, which I could then attached to the metal frame.

And voila! A stunning, classy, new twist on the winter wreath!

Blue Winter Wreath 005

As always, questions and comments are welcome. I would love to hear from you!

Knit Butterfly Quilt Square

I know, I know. I’ve been negligent in my goal to share a new square every week. The last two weeks, I’ve been keeping busy working on some cabled hats for the babies (post coming soon). We’ve been getting our first snow flurries this past week; nothing has accumulated yet, but it has still great inspiration and motivation to work on winter accessories!

While doing the weekly Sunday morning laundry today, I figured I’d use the time in between loads to make my next knit animal quilt square. This one is a butterfly – decidedly un-wintery, but still very cute.

Butterfly Quilt Square 001

Butterfly Quilt Square 002

I’m still getting used to how loose I need to leave the floats. I normally knit a very tight gauge, so it feels pretty weird to just drape the yarn across the wrong side of the work. But I’m getting better!

Butterfly Chart 2

Hope you enjoying knitting your own little butterflies. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go make some more hats!

As always, questions and comments are welcome! I’d love to hear from you!

Crock Pot Potato Soup

So my work is having a chili cook-off in a couple weeks to celebrate The Big Game (for those of you not from Ohio or Michigan, that is the OSU vs U of M college football match-up). Not that I’m into football, or college sports in general. I think I’m going to try to get away with wearing my Blackhawks shirt when we’re supposed to wear football/college shirts to support our favorite team….

You’re probably wondering, what does a chili cook-off have to do with potato soup? Well, I’ll tell you: I don’t make chili. I rarely ever even eat chili. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just don’t do spicy, and a lot of people tend to make chili with more than a little kick. So I figured I’d try my hand at making potato soup to provide another option. And since my friend (and coworker) has celiac disease, I had to find a soup recipe that didn’t use flour to thicken it up.

That turned out to be a bit harder than I thought. But then I came across Rachel’s recipe over at bakedbyrachel. It makes a nice creamy soup, no flour required! I love that she uses some of the cooked potatoes blended with heavy cream to thicken the stock. Brilliant! So not only do you get the great potato chunks, but there is potato in the cream as well.

Naturally, I had to make a test batch to make sure it would taste ok (it had nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been craving potato soup for weeks) and see whether it would be enough or if I would need to double the recipe to feed all my coworkers.

068

I will caution you, the smell of onion was quite strong as it was cooking in the crock pot and I was really worried it was going to be way too overpowering in the finished soup. The onion flavor was mellowed a decent amount once the potato-cream mixture was added, but it was still just a little too strong for my liking.

I’m a little worried that since there’s not much in the soup for flavoring other than the garlic, onion, salt and pepper, if I were to cut back on the onion, I might be left with a pretty bland soup. Not being an expert at cooking (and having all but zero experience making soup), I asked around for some advice. I’ve been told that sauteing the onions prior to putting them in the soup will help to mellow the flavor. Or I may just cut back on the onion and add some bacon or sausage into the body of the soup to give it more flavor and make it even heartier – great for curling up inside with this arctic blast that’s soon to be upon us!

So, what about you? Do you have any favorite recipes for those cold, blustery days?

I’d love to hear from you, as always! Have a great weekend!

Knit Whale Quilt Square

Whew! These last few weeks have been flying by! I haven’t even touched any yarn in 2 weeks! Obviously, last Sunday’s goal of having a quilt square ready to show you by Monday or Tuesday didn’t work out. I ended up spending a good portion of the night researching cabins. A group of friends and I are going to Gatlinburg, TN in the spring! I’m so excited and can’t wait! I have to keep reminding myself that’s its 6 months away. Which means I have to make it through winter first; a winter that some are saying is supposed to be even worse than last year, which was the snowiest winter on record. And with the near-record lows we’ve had the last couple days, I’m not doubting the possibility. Puts me in the mood to make some cozy hats and scarves – maybe some for the little niece and nephew….

Now, on to today’s quilt square. It’s a cute little whale who’s blowing a plume of water into the air.

Knit Whale Quilt Square

For this square, I made the floats even looser, stretching the work before twisting the yarns or switching colors. I have to say, it felt way too loose as I was knitting, but the end result was the best yet. Not a lump or bump in sight!

Knit Whale Quilt Square Back

Here’s the chart if you would like to knit up a whale or two of your own.

Whale Chart 2

As always, I’d love to hear from you! Hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday and have a wonderful week!