Thursday, December 13, 2012

DIY Christmas projects digital download

Last month I had the awesome opportunity to collaborate with some fabulous bloggers to bring you a week of DIY Christmas projects.

Shannon and Dean from AKA Design, Allison from House of Hepworths, KariAnne from Thistlewood Farm, Laura from Finding Home, Sarah from Cozy Cottage Cute, Shauna from Satori Design for Living and myself all shared a DIY ornament or decorating project.

As promised, the digital download of all the project tutorials in book format is now available! Thanks so much to Shannon and Dean at AKA Design for putting this download together.

Just click the image above to view the PDF online. Once the new window opens and you are viewing the PDF, you can download it by selecting 'File' then 'Download' from the drop down menu in the top left corner of the browser window, under the book title.

Happy DIYing and Merry Christmas!

Note: This PDF is to be used for personal or gifting purposes only. Using this digital download for commercial purposes or to make any profit is not allowed. Thanks.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A partridge in a pear tree

Little by little I am getting my Christmas décor up. It's a lot slower process this year with my nearly one-year-old little guy underfoot!

Due to my limited time for decorating, I need projects that are simple to create, but still look elegant.

So here's what I came up for for the centrepiece on the sideboard in my dining room - a pear tree using my cupcake stand.

The pears are from the grocery store (obviously) and cost about $5 for a dozen. The glittery little bird came from the dollar store. Now I realize it's not exactly a partridge, but work with me here, OK?

I designed the banner on my computer and printed it. Then cut it out and taped some jewelry wire to the back of it so I could manipulate it to fit around the pears. It's secured to the pears with a bit of tape also.

And that's all there was to it!

One thing to note, is that using fresh fruit puts a limited time on your décor. I bought the pears about 4 days ago and they are already starting to get a little too ripe. I will have to replace them soon. Maybe I will look into buying artificial ones, but I think REAL pears have such an elegance to them!

I'm linking up to these parties this week. Check them out!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The smells of the season

The Christmas season is here! I guess I had better start pulling out the Christmas décor and getting the house ready! Christmas is definitely my favourite time of year and there's nothing to get me in the spirit than some great Christmas music and some wonderfully spicy-sweet smells.

Here is a re-post from last Christmas - a tutorial on how to make your own "Christmas smelly pot". It is so good, I just had to share it again! Can't wait to make this pot-of-goodness this year.


Christmas is my favourite season of the year! It is a time to reflect upon the birth of our Saviour Jesus and the hope of salvation He brought to the world.

I also savour the happy music, pretty decorations, sparkly lights, yummy food and special times with friends and family. And I can't forget to mention the smells. Oh, the smells!

Whether it's freshly baked cookies just out of the oven, a scrumptiously scented candle, a freshly cut Christmas tree or spiced apple cider brewing on the stove, the smells of Christmas are divine!

Last year I saw a friend put together what I have come to call a 'Christmas smelly pot'  – for lack of a better term. "Brilliant!" I thought, "I must do this." So I went about creating my own 'smelly pot', modifying it a bit to make the recipe my own. Now my house can smell like Christmas everyday of the festive season!

Here's how to create your own 'Christmas smelly pot' in a slow cooker.

Half an orange;
1 apple;
2 bay leaves;
2 to 3 tablespoons of whole cloves;
2 cinnamon sticks;
Splash of lemon juice.

1. Cut the apple in half so that the core makes a pretty star. Stud the orange with some of the cloves. If the skin of the orange is particularly tough, pre-make some holes in the orange with a pointy object (I used a chop stick).

2. Fill a small slow cooker with 4-6 cups of water, add all the ingredients listed above.

3. Set the slow cooker on low and let simmer away, uncovered. After a few hours the mixture will begin to darken in colour and fill your house with its lovely Christmas aroma. As the pot simmers the water will begin to evaporate. I just add more water a few times a day to keep it topped up.

4. At the end of the day you can place your pot in the fridge overnight. Take it out the next day and reheat for more smelly goodness. I usually use my smelly pot for 3 to 5 days before making a new one.

Note: Although all of these ingredients are edible, I have not tried tasting this concoction, nor would I recommend it – even though it does smell good enough to eat!

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Scrabble Ornaments and a Christmas Collaboration

I am so excited to be collaborating for the next week with six other fantastic bloggers to bring you some awesome Christmas decorating ideas and projects! Thanks to Shannon and Dean at AKA Design for being the ring leaders on this!

Each day one of us will be featuring a Christmas project on our own blog. We’ll be sharing the links to each others projects on our social media (twitter, facebook, pinterest) so you can easily check them out.

Then stay tuned later in December for a FREE downloadable PDF of all of the project tutorials!

Wednesday is my day to share with you, and here we are!

Being a lover of Scrabble, I couldn't resist making some ornaments out of old Scrabble tiles. Who doesn't love those cute little square, lettered tiles?

Scrabble ornaments by Things That are Pretty

Being a Christian, I decided to use the five advent themes celebrated in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas for the words of my ornaments: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and Christ. This adds more significance to the ornaments, reminding me to reflect on the reason I celebrate Christmas - the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

OK, here we go with the tutorial! Stick with me. I took lots of pictures to help explain each step. This makes it a really long post, but trust me, it's not as complex as the oodles of pictures make it seem!


Supplies needed:
Scrabble tiles (pulled out of an old game purchased at a yard sale)
Thin jewelry wire
Jingle bells (also purchased at a yard sale)
Scrapbook paper
Dry adhesive or glue (pictured later)

Tools needed:
Exacto knife and cutting board
Awl (or other pointed object)

Step 1: Drill holes

My always-so-handy husband drilled holes in the top and bottom of each tile, using the smallest drill bit in his set - 1/16th. He fashioned a simple jig to hold the tiles in place while he drilled.

Step 2: Paper backing

I wanted to dress up the ornaments a bit, so I thought some festive-patterned paper on the back would look fun. I had this handy StudioTac dry adhesive leftover from my college days, and it worked out so well for sticking the paper to the letters. I'm sure another type of glue would work just fine, as long as it's not too wet, so the paper doesn't warp or bleed.

1. Glue letters to scrapbook paper. 
2. Use an exacto knife to carefully cut around the wooden tile (this paper is double sided, so that's why there is a patterned side facing up).

Step 3: Punch holes

Once the paper is on the backs of all of the tiles...

1. Use a needle to poke a small guide hole from front to back.
2. Take a larger pointy object (I used an awl tool) to poke a hole on the back (this is where the small guide hole you just made it helpful - shows you know where to make the hole). This pushes the paper into the drilled hole of the tile leaving a clean edge on the paper.

Step 4: String letters together 

Feel free to improvise with whatever works for you here. I have outlined a pretty detailed step-by-step process of what I did, but there are a myriad of ways you can string them together. As long as they are all attached together at the end, you have succeeded!

1. Cut a 4-inch piece of wire and feed through the bottom hole of your first letter. Add a bead or two to the wire on each side of the letter.
2. String the wire through front and back of the top hole on the second letter. Pull tight.
3. Feed wire back up through the beads on the front of the tile.
4. Do the same as step 3 on the back of the tile.

5. Feed the wire piece at the back, through to the front of the tile. You should now have two ends of wire at the front of the tile.
6. Twist the two pieces of wire together.
7.  Feed the twisted wire back through the hole of the tile and trim with scissors as close to the back of tile as possible.

Repeat this process for each letter in your word.

Step 5: Make a loop for hanging

1. Cut a 12 inch piece of wire and double it in half. Feed through top hole of first tile. Give wire a couple of twists so it is secure around the tile. Thread a bead or two over the wire.
2. String beads on each side of wire, leaving space at the ends to secure them together.
3. Twist ends tightly together.
4. Feed the twisted ends back through a few beads to secure closure. Trim the excess wire.

Step 6: Add a jingle bell

If you don't have a bell, you could just finish it off with a few beads at the bottom.

1. Feed wire through top loop of bell, give a twist or two to the wire and add a bead (similar to step 1 in the previous hanging loop instructions). Feed wire through bottom hole of bottom tile the same way you did when stringing the letter tiles together.
2.  Feed wire back down through the bead and secure around the bell. Trim excess wire.

And now it's done!

Now only four more words to go for me....

Aren't they pretty?

And I like how the backs are lovely to look at too.

And here they are on the tree.

Please take some time to stop by all the friendly blogs participating in this fun Christmas affair!

AKA Design
House of Hepworths
Thistlewood Farm
Finding Home
Cozy. Cottage. Cute.
Satori Design for Living

I will be pinning all the participating projects to this Pinterest board.  So be sure to follow my board and repin!

I'm linking up with these great link parties. Be sure to check them out!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cheery magnetic message board

Quite awhile ago I pinned an idea for a magnetic message board made out of a cookie sheet that had been covered in fabric.

I thought this was a genius idea (and still do!). I've seen similar renditions all over the blogosphere since then, but I still wanted to make my own. It is such a simple idea and looks so darn cute when finished.

For my version, I picked up a round pizza pan at the dollar store and some cheery scrapbook paper and ribbon at the craft supply store.

I know it's fall and the Christmas season is approaching, but I couldn't resist the friendly grey and yellow colour scheme. Please excuse the spring/summer look of this project even though it's November. Perhaps the sunny yellow will add some cheer to dreary November days.

I cut the paper in a circle the size of the pan. I used my VERY OLD compass from my high school math set to draw the circle. It was JUST big enough to draw the circumference I needed. Then I cut it out carefully with scissors.

My always-so-helpful husband drilled paper-punch-sized holes in the pan for me. I sanded the pan a bit to smooth off any rough edges made by the drill. Then I lined up the scrapbook paper and punched holes in the same spot.

I took the lazy simple route and used double-sided tape to adhere the paper to the pan. Next I fed the ribbon through the holes and tied a simple bow. Doesn't the finished product look so sweet?

Thanks goes out to my sister-in-law for the lovely ceramic magnets. I've had them for awhile but they always looked a little too nice on my rather busy refrigerator. The magnets were on my mind when I was planning this project and picking out materials. I think they suit perfectly.

I like the finished product so much, I don't want to stick any messages to it! This whole project cost me about $3.

So now that I've got this springtime-looking project complete, it's on to Christmas decor!

Stay tuned next week for some special posts about DIY Christmas ornaments. I'm honoured to be collaborating with some other fantastic bloggers on this Christmas project spearheaded by Shannon at {aka}design.

I'm linking up with these great link parties this week. Be sure to check them out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Office in a box

Living in the smallish house that we do, and having the majority of our free space consumed by baby paraphernalia, there isn't a lot of space left for things like, office for me. Alright, forget an office, I'd settle for a small desk in a corner. But even that seems near impossible.

No, these days my 'zone' (as my husband likes to call it) is spread out all over the couch in our living room. Laptop, iPhone, notepads, pens, coupons, flyers, lists, get the idea.

Here's a visual for you.

I'm constantly piling up my stuff and shoving it out of reach when our little guy is not napping or down for the night. Not exactly pretty or organized.

An 'office in a box' was in order. Something that would keep all my little items contained and organized. It just so happened that this great box was stored away in the basement with my gift wrap supplies. Perfect!

I have been holding onto this box for a few years now, knowing that one day it would come in handy.

I almost tossed it a couple of times, but those handy compartments inside would call out "Keep me! Keep me! I will be useful one day, I promise!"

So I hung onto a it little longer and now, FINALLY, I have found a use for it!

I wanted to update the fun/cheery pattern on the outside to something a little more modern and mature. It would be great to have it match our living room decor since that is where the box will be living.

My plan was to cover it with some pretty Martha Stewart wrapping paper that I scored for a great deal at Michael's craft store a few years ago when they were clearing out her gift wrap line (I stocked up). Then cover with clear Contact shelf liner for durability.

I also found some adhesive metal label plates on clearance at Michael's. Perfect for the outside of my box!

Inside, I wanted to increase the box's usefulness, so I planned to add magnetic stick-on pieces (from the dollar store) and a corkboard (cut out from an Ikea cork hot pad).

So I set to work covering with paper. I didn't do any fancy measuring, just placed the box on a large piece of wrapping paper and cut to size as needed, adhering it to the box with double-sided tape. The corners were a bit tricky, but it all turned out I think.

Some black ribbon adds a nice touch around the edge of the lid. I dug in to my scrap ribbon box and brought out the glue gun for this step.

Next, it was time for the Contact paper. Thankfully, it wasn't as tricky as I thought since the adhesive paper is actually somewhat removable. So, when it didn't go on just right, I was able to adjust it without wrecking anything. That made me very happy.

And now... here is the finished box with label plate.

And here's the inside, all ready to be filled up with my office 'stuff'. (I had to add a few more magnetic pieces than originally planned so it was strong enough to hold my magnetic notepad in place.)

Ahhhh, organization. I love it!

And look how pretty it looks on the shelf in our end table beside the couch. The accordion files on top of the box now hold my weekly grocery flyers and coupons.

Much better than the former chaos don't you think?

I'm linking up with these great link parties this week. Be sure to check them out!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Hallowe'en!

Tonight my husband and I finally got around to carving our pumpkins. Nothing like leaving it to the last minute!

I art directed, he executed. Here is a quick share of our creations.

We used a cordless drill to make the holes. Pretty quick and easy, though a bit messy (lots of little pumpkin bits flying about).

I'm happy with how they turned out. And now I have a big pile of pumpkin seeds to roast. Yum!

Wishing you all a safe and fun time trick-or-treating tomorrow night!

I can be found linking up at these parties this week.