A Tradition In Non-Traditional Colors

Traditions. All families have them, and they help keep memories of the past alive. Traditions come in many forms, and start when something is done the same way, or at the same time from year to year; from generation to generation. They almost always provide a connection to a person or place, but can also provide a connection to a season or holiday.

One of the traditions that my children looked forward to at this time of year was receiving an advent calendar from my mother-in-law; one of the pre-printed cards with a piece of chocolate behind each door. It marked the beginning of the Christmas season for them, and it was an exciting way to count down the days until Christmas. The fact that they also got to eat a piece of chocolate for 24 straight days in a row didn’t hurt either! For my daughter, it held even more meaning, as not only did the calendar count down the days until Christmas;  it also counted down the days until her birthday. The first thing she would do when she received her calendar was to look for the door on her birthday.

Sadly, my mother-in-law passed away in September, and it didn’t occur to me until I read this blog post that my kids weren’t going to get an advent calendar from her going forward. I wasn’t about to let this tradition end, so I decided right then and there that I was going to make an advent calendar for both my son and daughter. Now, I can hear you saying that I could have just bought a pre-printed calendar for each of them, and you’re right, I could have. But making things is what I do, and can do, and, besides, the time and care I put in to these calendars will be a nice tribute to my Mother-in-law”s memory.

There are so many different and creative ways to make an advent calendar–from using a mini muffin tin to creating a banner. The sky is the limit, and it took quite a bit of time to research all of my options. I ended up circling back around to the calendar made in the above highlighted blog post, however–it really appealed to me. I loved the chalkboard frame, the take-out boxes arranged into a tree shape, the buffalo check pattern on the boxes, and the overall simple, rustic charm of the finished project. With a few modifications, I knew it would appeal to my kids as well.

Here’s where the non-traditional colors come in. The first modification I made was to  the color choices for the tree. Instead of a traditional brown and green tree, I decided to make my trees gray and cream. The second modification I made was using cardstock for the top box instead of using glittered paper. I would then use matching glittered paper for the stars scattered around the tree. I had three cardstock colors that had matching glittered paper, so I let my kids decide what color they wanted for their top box. Here is the picture I sent them, which shows the gray and cream tree plus the three color choices for the top box:

IMG_5780

Here is another view showing the buffalo check pattern on the boxes:

IMG_5779.jpg

My daughter wanted a red tree topper, and my son wanted a green one. With their choices made, I could now focus on how I was going to number the boxes and finish off the top of the frame.

The numbering and the design element at the top of the frame took the longest to create, and, in the end, I decided to continue the star theme by using stars cut out of vellum paper for the numbers and the decoration at the top of the frame.

IMG_5783.jpg

This is a picture of my daughter’s calendar laid out on the frame, and you can see that I cut the numbers out of gray cardstock and adhered them to a vellum star, which, in turn, got attached to the top flap of each box. I numbered my calendar from bottom to top because I wanted the colored cardstock box to be for December 24th. There is no right or wrong in paper crafting, so you could easily switch the numbering from top to bottom, if that is your preference. For the design at the top of the frame, I started with a larger star cut from vellum cardstock, and then I layered the word December and some glittered snowflakes on top of it.

IMG_5784.jpg

This is a close-up of the top of the frame.

It’s now time to glue everything down onto the chalkboard, but, before I do, I wanted to season the chalkboard to soften the color. To season the chalkboard, put your chalk on its side and drag it down the entire length of the chalk area from top to bottom as shown:

IMG_5790

When you’ve covered the entire chalk area, then just wipe down the area with a dry cloth.

IMG_5789

The chalkboard on the left is new, and the one on the right has been seasoned. It may be a subtle, but the seasoning softened the chalk area and I like how much better it looks.

IMG_5791.jpg

Since I only get one chance to glue everything onto the chalkboard, I took the time to mark the middle of the area with twine, and also made chalk marks where the top edge of the top box should be, as well as where the bottom edge of where the bottom box should be. I had my hot glue gun heating up while I was marking the frames.

IMG_5794 (1)

I figured out that if I adhered boxes 2, 3, 6, & 7 down first, the layout should remain straight and adding in the additional boxes should go fairly smoothly. I also adhered the vellum star on to the top of the frame before I removed the twine to ensure that it was in the middle.

IMG_5797

Drum roll please….here are the completed calendars, and they turned out even better than what I had pictured in my mind. The color scheme is fresh and modern, and by having used cream cardstock for the body of the tree, the top box and the stars really stand out. I couldn’t be happier, and I was excited to be able to give these to my kids over Thanksgiving.

Below are additional pictures I took of each calendar separately, and then a side view to see the buffalo check pattern again:

IMG_5799.jpg

My daughter’s calendar,

IMG_5798.jpg

and my son’s calendar.

IMG_5804.jpg

Another look at the buffalo check pattern on the boxes. Isn’t it awesome?!

And this completes my story of how I was able to continue a special family tradition for my kids using a non-traditional color scheme. I bought a variety of Christmas chocolate candy and filled each box with 2 pieces–heavy on the Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and the new hot chocolate kisses.

My story isn’t over yet, however, as it was during the filling of the boxes that I discovered a few design flaws. First of all, the tabs on the boxes are very fragile, and opening each box takes some finesse. So, I’m not convinced these boxes will hold up beyond this year. Second of all, I discovered that hot glue doesn’t work well on chalkboard, and so a lot of the boxes came off. I ended up using a fast-drying epoxy glue which did the trick. Live and learn, as they say!

Okay, now my story is done. I hope all of you are enjoying this Christmas season, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

 

Advertisements

Embroidery Hoop Napkin Rings

We are hosting Easter dinner this year, and it has been many years since we have hosted the meal for this particular holiday. I spent some time over the weekend searching for table decoration ideas, as I will be starting from scratch. I am going to need napkin rings, place cards, centerpieces–the works!

During my search, I discovered this napkin ring from Pier 1, and the minute I saw it I knew I had found the inspiration for our napkin rings. It wasn’t the embellishment that caught my eye; it was the basic bunny shape wrapped in twine that intrigued me. The twine added so much texture and gave the napkin ring a nautical look, which I’m sure is why I was so attracted to it in the first place. I printed out the picture and turned my attention to my supplies, hoping that I would have something that would help me make the basic bunny shape.

As luck would have it, I discovered that I had just the thing to make the bunny shape– embroidery hoops. Stampin’ Up! released these mini embroidery hoops in their Occasions 2018 (Spring) catalog:

occ18_p19d

They come in 2 sizes: 1 1/2″ and 1 3/4″, and the variation in size is exactly what I need for my bunny body. Timing really is everything, because without these hoops, I wouldn’t have had a chance to try and replicate the napkin rings! I had ordered some of these hoops when the catalog came out, so I spent the rest of the weekend coming up with my design. I’m really excited about how these napkin rings turned out, and I’m ready to show you what I came up with.

I chose a navy and white color combination, which will coordinate with our dishes. Yes, I know that this doesn’t fit the traditional pastel color scheme used for Easter, but the glorious thing about paper crafting is that it’s not bound by rules or limitations; it’s about letting your creative juices flow and enjoying every step of the process.

Here is a look at all of the supplies I used:

napkin ring supplies_1

The hoops have a dark stain on them, and I was concerned that the stain might show through the loops of twine. Luckily that wasn’t the case, as needing to spray paint the hoops would certainly slow down production considerably. The hoops and twine create the basic bunny body; the rest of the supplies are used to create the embellishments.

Start by wrapping both of the embroidery hoops with the twine. I found that it took about 55″ of twine for the large hoop, and 45″ of twine for the smaller hoop. I left a tail at the beginning and the end and tied it behind the closure in a knot. I hot glued the knot before trimming off the ends.

knot on hoop_1

hoops and button_1

Once both hoops are wrapped in twine, I glued both closure ends to a white button that was a little wider than the closures. While the glue is drying, it’s a good time to start working on the embellishments.

bunny parts_1

Cut two 2 1/2″ pieces of a white pipe cleaner for the ears. Fold each piece into ear shapes and glue one end over the other. Cut a 2 x 2 piece of patterned paper–I am using a pattern from Stampin’ Up’s new Tutti Frutti Designer Series Paper. The polka dots are oval shaped and they remind me of eggs. Score the paper every 1/4″ and fan fold starting and ending with a mountain fold. Make into a bow tie by placing a glue dot in each of the 3 valley folds on top as close to the middle as possible. Turn the paper over and put glue dots in the 2 valley folds and then squeeze the paper in the middle. Fan out the ends and it should look something like this:

bow tie_1

Finish up the embellishments by punching a 7/8″ scalloped circle with the solid color card stock. Make a bow with the gingham ribbon. And now comes the fun part; let’s turn these hoops into a bunny!

bunny ears_1

Glue the ears on and attach the scalloped circle over the hoop closures with glue dots. Attach a white pom pom in the middle of the bow tie and the bow. Attach either the bow tie or bow onto the scalloped circle, and your bunny is complete.

completed peter and flopsy_1

Allow me to introduce you to The Cottontails! I dressed them in their Easter finest, and they are almost ready to help me set my table for Easter dinner! All that is left to do is to create the rings and these bunnies will be ready to hop on over to my table.

I cut two 7″ pieces of the navy saddle stitch ribbon and attached glue dots to each end. Using the ribbon for the ring minimizes the chance that my cloth napkins will get snagged by the roughness of the inside of the ring. I then attached the bunny to the ribbon with velcro dots. I chose to use velcro dots instead of hot glue to allow for some extra stretch and movement of the ribbon.

And now for the moment we’ve all be waiting for– let’s see how the napkin rings look on the table:

table settings

flopsy close-up_1

peter close-up_1

These napkin rings add so much charm and personality to the table, and I just can’t help but smile every time I look at them. The white pom poms add a touch of bunny fluff, and they really amp up the cuteness factor for sure! These napkin rings turned out better than I imagined and I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for dropping in today and for enduring such a long post! I’m really proud of these napkin rings and I couldn’t wait to show them to you! Take care, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out number the stars”.

-C-

 

 

SaveSave

Pumpkin of Twine

I have been enjoying changing the color palette of some of the fall decorations I made several years ago to reflect the coastal theme of this house. I have kept the traditional fall colors for the outside decorations:

fall side porch_1

but wanted more grays and blue-greens for the inside decorations. I have been able to buy some pumpkins and floral sprays in blues and greens, but I wanted to add in some of my own decorations as well. One of the best parts about handmade decorations is that you can make them in any color you want, and today, I am going to do just that!

old pumpkin_1

I saw twine pumpkins similar to this on Pinterest several years ago, and I knew I had to make one. This pumpkin is right up my alley with it’s rustic, vintage charm. I have several areas that would be perfect for this pumpkin, but it needs to be updated before it can be put on display. Let’s go up to my studio and I’ll show you my process, so that you can make one too.

twine pumpkin supplies_1

Besides the ball of twine, you will need some stuffing material, patterned paper for the leaves, ribbon, buttons, and something for the stem. I am going to be using a wooden spool, but you could also use a wine cork, twigs or cinnamon sticks.

I started by filling in the hole with my stuffing, and laying out and attaching the buttons to the dark gray ribbon with glue dots.

buttons on ribbon_1

ribbon on pumpkin_1

I attached the ribbon to the twine with straight pins. I loved the lace band I used on my original pumpkin, but this house isn’t a doily and lace kind of house. The satin, dark gray ribbon is more fitting for this house, and the cream buttons help tone down the strong color and bring in the vintage charm I like.

The next stamp is to die cut the leaves from the patterned paper I chose. Once I was happy with the arrangement, I adhered the leaves together with glue dots and attached them to the ball of twine with straight pins. The pumpkin just wasn’t full enough with the three leaves, so I added in a couple of copper foil leaves I had left over from another project. What a difference that made!

first set of leaves_1

I am pretty sure that on my own I wouldn’t have chosen to mix copper with gray, but I’m so glad I took a chance and added the foil leaves in because they add some much needed bling and pizazz.

While I was pleased with the addition of the copper leaves, I wasn’t happy with the gray patterned paper I had chosen. It certainly fit in with the other two patterns in that there was a white pattern on a colored background, but it just wasn’t dark and rustic enough for my liking. Back to my paper stash! I ended up finding a wood-textured pattern in gray and die-cut another leaf from that to try.

Leaves added_1

That did the trick for me. The other gray paper was too feminine and just didn’t command enough presence and have enough weight to it. This paper is much better. Creating anything handmade is all about trial and error, and it’s worth the time it takes to try different options to ensure you’re happy with the end result.

The only thing missing is the stem. I tied a bow around the wooden spool with the gray gingham ribbon, attached a button to the bow with a glue dot, and hot glued the spool to the stuffing in the center. I also added a small tag to bring in a little more charm, and my pumpkin is now updated and ready to report to duty.

twine pumpkin_1

pumpkin close-up_1

Here are the two pumpkins side by side, and the comparison really highlights how I have grown and expanded as a crafter.

old and new together_1

There was a time that the old pumpkin would have been enough for me, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the updated version. I am so happy with the way this turned out–the colors work well together and the additional leaves just take the whole project up a notch. The cream buttons and gray gingham ribbon add some much needed softness and vintage charm that I love. Isn’t it amazing how some leaf die-cuts, patterned paper, ribbon, and buttons can transform a ball of twine into a rustic but charming pumpkin!

Let me show you the two spots I was thinking about putting this pumpkin, and you can help me decide where it looks better.

pumpkin on table_1

The first option is on this table at the bottom of the stairs, or

pumpkin in pantry_1

on top of the dishes in the pantry. I’m open to suggestions, so leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Well, we did it my friends–a job well done! Thank you for keeping me company this afternoon as I have missed our time together. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-