Wednesday, December 28, 2011

how i spent my Christmas vacation


I made eight... count them... eight varieties of cookies in the last few weeks... that’s over 400 cookies.




I didn’t have a chance to photograph the spritz, chocolate, shortbread and gingersnaps before they disappeared.

The day after Christmas, I had an epiphany.

As much as I enjoy sharing homemade gifts with my family and friends, I spent way too much time in the kitchen in the last few weeks, and not enough time enjoying some time off. I was busy with work in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so after a day of working, I made dinner for my family, drove my daughter to and from her dance class, prodded her to make sure all her homework was done, and then baked cookies all night. At a time of year when we all eat too much sugar, gifts of sweets seemed less than appreciated by many.

I’m disenchanted with the whole Christmas gift exchange hoopla. Can’t we just enjoy the season without going broke, and more time enjoying and less time doing? There are so many holiday events I miss every year because I’m too busy putting together gifts, food, wrapping, cleaning, etc.

Tell me... how do you do it all? What parts of Christmas do you truly enjoy?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

mini paper bag scrapbooks


Do you have young kids? Are you a grandparent of young-uns? Looking for handmade gift ideas? Read on...

I have never been a scrapbooker. Photos from the first five years of my daughter’s life were placed into several of those ready-made photo albums. I also have another nine years of photos stashed away in boxes and many digital back-up devices filled with images. I even have one of those great PictureMate personal photo printers that spits out great 4x6 prints perfect for scrapbooking.

When my daughter was younger, I was always looking for gifts she could give to her grandparents, and this idea jumped out at me. It was a perfect project for us to create together.

They were a huge hit! There were even tears of joy from the recipients.

Supplies you’ll need:

(If you have a Michael’s craft store in your area, you can find most of the items there)

• Several smallish colored paper bags (10"x 5.5")

• Several sheets of felt

• Photos

• Sheets of fun patterned paper

• Scrapbook type embellishments

• Ribbons

• Scissors

• Glue


Directions: Grab four paper bags in various colors (or all the same color if you prefer) and cut the open ends using some fancy shaping scissors.

Fold the bags in half and line up at folds. Glue each open end to a closed end. Glue a long piece of ribbon (about twice as long as the bags or approximately 21") to the entire length of the outside and cover both sides with a sheet of felt. Cut the edges so they overhang slightly to cover the edged of the bags.

Now for the best part. Create scrapbook pages using photos that capture great memories you and your kids have shared with the recipient of this awesome gift.


We share beach traditions with both Grandmothers. Each Mother’s Day, Isabel and I spend a long weekend with my Mom at the Oregon coast. Each Thanksgiving our family spends a weekend with my Mother-in-law and my husband’s extended family at the beach. Needless to say, both of the books we created were beach themed.


I like to cut out images and paste them over a background. I just like the look it creates.


Make sure you fill the pockets of the bags with fun photos or notes too. We added little felt and paper shapes to the edges of the photos so they could slide in the out of the pockets easily.




Have fun!

Friday, December 9, 2011

putting the merry in Christmas

Every year the stress arrives, and every year I retaliate in hopes of keeping my sanity. My husband claims that Christmas has become a women’s holiday. There’s more truth in this statement than I’d like to admit. More often than not it seems to be women who carry out the holiday tasks. We arrange gatherings with family and friends, decorate, bake, shop, exhaust ourselves all in hopes of creating the “perfect” holiday.

cutting down the tree
One of my husband’s holiday tasks is cutting down the Christmas tree for our living room. We pile into the SUV armed with a saw and a thermos full of hot chocolate.

I say this every year... I really need to step back and look at what’s most important. In doing this, I came up with a short list.

Quality over quantity. Less is more. Spending time with family and making memories is more important than spending money on gifts.

Stick with a few simple traditions you’ve already established. Don’t try to create new ones. This can lead to more and more obligations that you won’t be able to keep up with. Don’t give up the traditions you enjoy to make room for other people’s traditions.

Make lists. This could keep you from losing more sleep at night with extra details running through your head, which in turn will make you even more sleep deprived and irritable.

Shop online. If you do need to buy gifts, avoid crowded malls. Make shopping a more pleasant experience. Shop online in your p.j.’s with a cup of hot cocoa.

Don’t go into debt. Pay only cash for any gifts you buy. If you don’t have the cash to buy, don’t buy. There’s nothing worse than having bills arrive in January to start the new year off wrong.

Expectations. If you have them, lower them. Don’t expect that everyone at family gatherings will get along or chip in and help, or even show up for that matter.

Humor. Keep it intact!


Christmas is stressful, but for the most part, it’s self-imposed stress.

Here’s a little holiday humor... (an excerpt from an old Home Improvement episode)

Brad: (Brad wants to go skiing on Christmas Eve) But Mom, it’s perfect. I mean, I don’t have school and I can take your presents with me and open them there.

Jill: The family is always together on Christmas. We hang our stockings together. We talk to relatives on the phone. You have your new saxophone so you can play along while we sing carols and I’m going to make Nana’s special oyster pecan stuffing.

Brad: All I wanted to do was be with my friends. A lot of people I like are going to be down there.

Tim: Christmas is not about being with people you like. It’s about being with your family.


Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

mini tin purses

When my daughter was about nine or ten she loved Altoid mints. This idea for purses made from the tins were a perfect project for her. She found instructions for these tiny tin purses in her American Girl Magazine and was smitten with them.

These take me back to the days when my daughter had a short(er) attention span. Back to a time before a good book, an iPod, YouTube, or GoogleMaps, kept her engaged. Crafts that could be created in an hour or two, at the most, were ideal. We created these on a quiet vacation many summers ago.

To create your own little tin purses, you will need: Altoid mint tins, ribbon, felt, fabrics, pom poms, buttons, small flat round magnets, hot glue and a glue gun


Cut pieces of felt to fit both sides of the tin. Working with the tin open, and making sure you don’t cover hinges, first glue the ribbon you’d like to use as a fastener, then glue the felt on one side only into place over that. You can add a magnet and a button to the ribbon so that it looks like an important fastener on the front of the purse. Add ribbon around the edges. To make a handle, cut a ribbon several inches longer than the tin is around and glue it to three sides of the tin leaving the extra ribbon at the top. Embellish with whatever floats your boat... pom poms, fabrics, buttons, etc.




I’m sure you can be much more creative and precise than we were, especially if you have kids with longer attention spans.

These would make great gifts. It could be a sewing kit (fill it with thread, needles, safety pins, scissors). Or a survival kit (fill it with waterproof matches, a little flashlight, fishing line, water purification tablets). You could put an iPod in it. Turn the inside into a mini scrapbook. The ideas are endless.

Be creative. Have fun!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

live in the moment... breathe


This season is really what we choose to make it isn’t it? If you like crowds and franticness, it’s just outside the door. If you’d rather avoid the chaos, you can shop online and wait for things to come to you.

If you’re looking for gift ideas for your wife, girlfriend, mistress, mother, daughter, here are a few...

iPad case in one of my favorite colors. Available at Ceccec $189

Perfect iPad holder for use in the kitchen with a little stylus so you don’t have to touch the screen with your goopy fingers.
Available at Belkin $39.99

If you’ve never felt or worn liquid metal, you must. I have this bracelet, and it’s so comfortable and gorgeous. I get compliments on it every time I wear it. Sergio Gutierrez has several designs of liquid metal bracelets.
Available at G Squared Gallery $65 and up depending on size and width.
Sergio also designs necklaces.
Michael Kors 'Bedford' $348 Available at Nordstrom 

If you like hanging out at home, creating things, and not spend spend spending, there are plenty of ideas for homemade gifts. Things made while sharing quality time with friends and family can be the best.

During the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the homemade gifts I’ve made in the past, and some holiday treat ideas too. But, you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to see what gifts we’re making this year.

I do have some specific goals for this holiday season: 1. Live in the moment; 2. Stay sane

No pressure, but what do you have planned?