Tag Archives: Christmas

a Christmas of earrings, caramels and a red trash can

this year i told my husband that we should start a Christmas tradition. he said, in his ever present sarcasm, “we have one. i buy the tree and you decorate it.”

i’m not too convinced that that’s a tradition as much as a routine, but okay, dear! but what is a tradition is spending time with our family. lots of food and lots of laughter and good times to be had.

my dr. suess-y Christmas tree.
my dr. suess-y Christmas tree.

i have to admit that i was pretty dang tired on Christmas eve and Christmas because i had spent the days (and nights) before making a ridiculous amount of caramels and plenty jewelry to give as gifts to my family and friends. next year i’ll start much earlier. i usually do, but i guess this year i wanted to feel a little fire under my butt. or something like that.

beaded necklace
a beaded necklace for my mama
handpainted earrings
handpainted earrings for my fly girls

and once the fire started, i couldn’t stop!! let me just say, there’s nothing like putting on some music (thank you, pandora!!) and gettin’ your creative thang on.

orange tassels
orange tassels
earring assortment
earrings for e’erybody!!
handpainted earrings
ode to my ol’ school heart.

the kick-off to our Christmas happened where it always does, at my pop and stepmama’s on Christmas eve. this year we did a dollar store exchange which was pretty cool. well, it was cool to open your gift. it wasn’t, however, all that fun trying to find ONE GIFT for each person at the dollar store. it was my stepmama’s idea. i told her next year, i’m just making stuff.

on Christmas we were off to my mother-in-law’s early where her two small children were crazy excited about their new toys and i watched as my sis-in-law nearly passed out from blowing up a sumo bumper bopper. i jest, but i was a bit concerned that she’d eventually need oxygen. that evening, we headed to spend the evening with my mama, grandma and a host of other folks. i have to say, my grandma, bless her heart, gave us the most memorable gift ever…

bathroom accessory kit
bathroom accessory kit

and it’s RED!!! haha!! we all got a good laugh from this one, even though i think it was meant to be a totally serious gift. i asked my grandma, “but why red? my bathroom isn’t red??” she said, “look over there at that Christmas tree…everything goes with red.”

well, true that grandma.

anyway, i hope that you and yours had a very Merry Christmas!!!






adventures in caramel!

first let me just say that pinterest will have you believing  you can do anything. anything. so my crazy butt got the idea from the many pins i saw there and pinned onto my sweet sweetness board to make caramels as Christmas gifts for my family.

what an adventure it’s been.

i had three (well, really sorta four) different recipes i chose to use. you can find them here:

soft and chewy caramels

coconut caramels

vanilla caramels with sea salt (no corn syrup required!)

the original coconut milk caramels recipe from saveur.com

and woowee, i had some serious mishaps. with my first attempt to make the soft and chewy caramels, my candy didn’t look caramel colored and wasn’t really candy at all. i should’ve just cubed it and used it for coffee, but instead i dumped it and pressed on to create caramel success!

caramel fail
caramel fail #1

i straight burned my next attempt. see how dark the sugar is? yeah, that sucka started smoking in no time. at first i was all yaaaaaay, it looks amber, you know, like caramel and then the smoke. so yeah, ding ding…time for round three!

burning sugar
burnt sugar isn’t tasty, i would assume.

then finally, i had real actual caramel. say whaaaat? i did it!! i watched the pot and the candy thermometer like a hawk and afterwards i was high-fiving myself ready to put sugar daddy out of business.

doesn’t it look yummy?

this pretty slab that was supposed to be soft and chewy cooled, but honey, it was as hard as a frickin’ brick. seriously, i almost broke my hand trying to cut this stuff. it tastes pretty good, however, i wouldn’t suggest that anyone actually try to chew it.

it’d probably snatch a crown out. and any loose teeth you may have. but anyway… i had to keep it moving.

for my next attempt i ventured onto the coconut caramels. and it was instant success! yaaaaaaay, me!!! it’s tasty too. by the way, i don’t know if it’s supposed to be spotty like that, but whatever. tastes like caramel to me.

coconut caramels
coconut caramels

the coconut batch, which uses coconut milk instead of heavy cream, wasn’t as hard as the first successful batch, but it was still quite a challenge to cut. i had my handy dandy tropical traditions gold label virgin coconut oil nearby to grease the knife so that it wouldn’t stick to the candy as the recipe suggested. i also used this oil to grease my pans before pouring in the caramel mixture.

tropical traditions gold label virgin coconut oil
awesome brand of coconut oil!

it was rough but i finally got that stuff cut. my palm was red and swollen,  y’all. red and swollen. *whew* it was a doozy.

maybe because i have sucky knives.

coconut caramels
coconut caramels

next up was the vanilla caramels with sea salt which uses honey instead of corn syrup. these puppies came out really, really soft. and to be honest, i’m on the fence about the flavor. i’m not really a huge honey fan, but hey, someone else might like them, right?

vanilla caramels with sea salt
vanilla caramels with sea salt

so after all of my tries to get this candy the right color and consistency and taste i’ve determined that i will probably never attempt to make caramels again. it’s too much like chemistry and well, i got a d in chemistry (but a’s and b’s in everything else!!!) in high school.

one recipe writer gave a particular temperature to cook the caramel at and then she mentioned that she probably needed to cook at that temp because she lived at a high altitude. what?? and should i even get into the comments i read under the recipes about humidity and making candy while it’s raining outside?

caramel is too just daggone finicky for the kid.

next year, i’m making cookies.





73 ideas to get your craft-y Christmas crack-a-lackin’!

it’s that time of year again when my hands get itchy and my head starts swirling with ideas of stuff to make for folks in my family for Christmas. i’ve handcrafted gifts for years (typically ’cause i’m broke) and every year it’s something new. last year i made jewelry and bath scrubs. one year i made cookies (tons and tons of daggone cookies that i called “dutch’s dozen”), one year it was painted goods and paper mache things, then there was the year i handmade books and another when i made soaps. it’s something i enjoy doing, although i’m not always sure how well my handmade goods will go over on the receiving end. haha!!

throughout the years i’ve always come up with my own ideas, but geesh, who needs to do that anymore with the internet?? and with pinterest? geez louise, i never need to come up with an idea of my own again!

i jest.

but listen, if you’re interested in handmaking a few gifts this Christmas season, i’ve found some really cool and mostly pretty easy diy tutorials to get you rockin’ & rollin’. these are the ones that have piqued my curiosity. a lot of them, as i mentioned before, i’ve done before but there’s always a different way to do a thing so i’m always open for new ideas!

{goodies for the bod}

pumpkin spice lipgloss
pumpkin spice lipgloss via henry happened

1. brown sugar and almond sugar scrub by crosbie crew.

2. sweet orange scrub by deliciously organized

3. coconut and rose scrub by the beauty department

4. sugar scrub cubes by craft gossip

5. coconut lotion bars by coconut oil

6. citrus honey scotch ale soap by offbeat and inspired

7. black raspberry soap by these moments of mine

8. pumpkin spice lipgloss by henry happened

9. mint chocolate lip gloss by food plus words

10. vintage image transfer soaps by ruffled blog

{for those who love sweet treats}

soft caramels via intimate weddings

everyone loves sweets, right? so get in the kitchen and get ‘er done! my plan this year is to make caramels. i sure hope they come out tasty! if you’re ready to jump in the kitchen too, check out these recipes.

11. salted whiskey caramels by so how’s it taste

12. demerara caramels by hungry girl porvida

13. soft caramels by intimate weddings

14. english toffee by daydream kitchen

15. caramel apples by serious eats

{take note. for the writers & jotters & doodlers in your life}

stab bound journal
stab bound journal via how did you make this

16. embroidered journal by the plumed nest

17. stab bound journal by how did you make this

18. mini notebook by creme de la craft

19. chalkboard journals by number 2 pencil

20. mini coloring books with washi tape by little monster baby

{help them keep their place with these bookmarks}

geometric felt bookmarks via how about orange

21. lacing bookmarks by handmade charlotte

22. toddler art bookmarks by small friendly

23. instagram photo strip bookmark by blush and jelly

24. geometric felt bookmarks by how about orange

25. pom pom bookmark by design mom

{for the little ones}

stick horse diy
stick horse diy via light blue grey

26. superhero matching game by these moments of mine

27. felt fishing game by real purdy

28. wooden latch board by domesticesq

29. handmade paper dolls by handmade charlotte

30. portable canvas checkerboard by martha stewart

31. felted finger puppets by martha stewart

32. felt cookies with frosting by the mother huddle

33. stick horse tutorial by light blue grey

34. fabric fridge letters by spearmint baby

35. crayon organizer roll by taking time to create

36. shark hoodie towel by just crafty enough

37. kids patchwork messenger bag by sew mama sew

38. sparkle pencils by ay handcraft

39. lego terrarium by canadian family

40. felted rock monsters by creativity in pieces

{for the ladies…}

wooden color block bangles
wooden color block bangles via warm hot chocolate

41. geometric beaded bracelets by lines across

42. wooden colorblock bangles by warm hot chocolate

43. studded leather clutch by elemental carbon

44. patchwork clutch by pippa patchwork

45. easy envelope clutch by craftsy

46. geometric tile statement necklace by confetti pop

47. wooden bead necklace by real purdy

48. bohemian beaded headpiece by shine trim ny

49. patterned denim headbands by the first lime

50. geo hairpins by oh crafts

{for their cup o’ joe – or tea!}

hand painted teacups
hand painted teacups via curious and catcat

51. latte gift set by kelli murray

52. handpainted teacups by drawings under the table

53. foxy painted teacups by the poopers

54. painted mugs using porcelain pens by curious and catcat

55. sharpie decorated mugs by craft pond

{fun home stuff}

painted baskets diy
painted baskets via the marion house book

56. cork planters for the fridge by upcycle that

57. marbleized drink coasters by lacquer and linen

58. laced cement votives by say yes to hoboken

59. vibrant painted baskets by the marion house book

60. rope vases by style me pretty

61. opaque striped vases by ruffled blog

62. gold leaf paper mache bowls by kelli murray

63. porcelain pen plates by twigg studios

64. gum drop pillows by amy butler design

65. tea tin container magnets by martha stewart

{he probably would prefer something store bought, but oh well…}

bowtie diy
bowtie diy via a beautiful mess

66. clip on bowtie by a beautiful mess

67. monogrammed metal collar stays by shrimp salad circus

68. his very own popcorn tin by martha stewart

69. travel collage by martha stewart

70. amaretto-soaked white chocolate cherries by formal fringe

71. wooden beer caddy by man made daily

72. caramel rolls by a good appetite

73. tripod camping stool by design sponge

she makes stuff

i’ve always enjoyed creating things and i’ve collected quite a few supplies over the years. so when i found myself just a wee bit broke this past christmas i decided to pull out my box ‘o junk, put on my lil’ thinkin’ cap and get busy.

in the past i’ve done paintings, made handmade books and soaps as gifts. for dutch’s first christmas i even had the crazy idea of baking everyone in my family a dozen cookies and smacked “dutch’s dozen” labels on them. can i just say i didn’t want to see another chocolate chip cookie for a long while after that little baking adventure?

with my funds on the super low this year and since i already had a bunch of beads, wire and other findings i decided the theme for the year would be jewelry. and i made lots.

this here is just a small sampling of my supplies and things i made.

santa? child please…

we don’t do santa. never have. dutch is 5 and we’ve always told him that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. yes, we celebrate by decorating a Christmas tree and yes, we exchange gifts, but we’ve always told him that we buy his gifts.

but now he’s convinced otherwise. it seems one of his classmates has convinced him that there is indeed a santa claus. that santa will visit and leave toys, blah, blah, blah…

“he’s going to come down our chimney!”

i said, “ummmm, no, actually, he’s not. in fact, dutch, look at our fireplace, does it look like a man could fit in there?”

he looked at me and thought for a second and said, “santa could.”

my husband even jumped in and said, “buddy, we buy your gifts. there’s no such thing as santa.”

dutch still decided to believe his 5-year-old classmate over us. he said, “dad, there IS a santa…”

then my husband said, “look, i’m 32…”

that’s when i cut in and said, “uhhhhh, honey, actually, you’re not.”

my husband stood there and thought about it and dutch said, “yeah, dad, you’re 33.”

so i guess if dad doesn’t even know how old he is, he really must not know about santa.

why i don’t do santa claus

i don’t do santa claus.

as a child i believed he existed for a few years, but by the time i turned about 5 i knew that he couldn’t come down my chimney to bring loads of gifts because we didn’t have a chimney. we lived in a high-rise apartment building. so was santa landing on the building, coming to my apartment by way of the elevator and then coming through the front door? and honey, clearly there was no way he was fitting his reindeer and sleigh on our balcony.

something was smelling mighty fishy about this santa claus.

then around the same time i started questioning these things in my mind my pop just flat out told me: there’s no such thing as santa claus. what was more important was to understand the real reason of celebrating Christmas, you know, the birth of Jesus Christ. something folks tend to forget about, but that’s another story.

i’m glad my pop had that talk with me because it actually cleared up a lot of confusion that i had about the santa dude anyway. i had always wondered how he fit into the whole baby Jesus story. was santa one of the wise men who brought baby Jesus gifts? the talk straightened all that out.

was i traumatized when my pop told me that santa didn’t really exist? no. i knew the toys would keep coming so it didn’t really matter who brought them. and you know, to a little girl that’s pretty much all that mattered. my pop even came up with a nickname for santa-the fat fake. isn’t that hilarious? my pop’s hilarious. okay, you might not think that’s hilarious, but i do.

i’ve told numerous people about the talk about santa my pop had with me as a child and their response is generally always along the lines of “oh, you’re father is mean…” or “what a grinch.” oh okay, my pop’s a mean grinch because he refused to lie to me. okay, i get it.

as much as i don’t give in to the whole santa thing, i think the new idea of banning santa from saying “ho ho ho” and having him say “ha ha ha” instead is just insane. in case you haven’t heard, a recruitment firm called westaff in australia supplies santas to malls and various places across the country and has recently told its santa trainees not to say “ho ho ho.” why? because “ho” is the slang term in the u.s. for prostitute. yeah, it’s ridiculous, but at the same time it is pretty funny… ha ha ha!!

okay, you’re probably not laughing at this point because you love santa, and that’s cool. but tell me the cartoon below isn’t funny…