A Spring Branch Bouquet

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Dogwood trees are starting to bloom where I live and their blooms are so pretty! The Redbud trees are also blooming and their rich color looks so striking against the other trees that are just starting to produce small leaves. I decided … Continue reading

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Pretty Clever Valentines

Here are some fun handmade card and gift ideas I came across for Valentine’s Day at MarthaStewart.com…maybe you’ll see something you want to try out!

See below for the links to these ideas…

PrettyClver Vals

Above, left to right each row, a hand-stitched Valentine, dainty doily envelopes, a gift-in-a-card seed card or seed starter Valentines heart envelope cards–envelopes that turn into Valentines, fun heart-and-lollipop flowers, card bookmarks or heart bookmarks, a chocolate wrapper  with a special note on the reverse side, poetic wrappings with poetry written on paper or ribbon, heart-shaped soap with a message, or conversation heart cookies. All fun, unique things to give and to get!

Are you making any handmade cards or gifts for your Valentine(s)?

Holiday Books To Give and Get…and Two Giveaways!

I have a collection of five holiday books I wanted to tell you about, and the first two shown in this post are the giveaways–I’ll tell you more about that at the end of the post! Here’s a little info about each one of the books:

165303802The Farm Chicks Christmas is a wonderful Country Living book that has many “merry ideas for the holidays”…including lots of decorating ideas, DIY crafts, and yummy recipes! It came out as a hardcover book a few years ago, and now there’s a softcover edition (and this is one of my giveaways)! There are lots of great, colorful photos in this book with plenty of timeless, homey ideas that will inspire you each holiday season.

197757087The Little Book of Baking is a sweet little hardcover spiral-bound book that’s filled with yummy recipes you can make for the holidays or year round. Brought to you by Good Housekeeping, there are 55 recipes for cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and pies…ranging from classics like New York-Style Cheesecake to unique treats like Pistachio and Cherry Biscotti. There are easy-to-follow directions, so all levels of bakers will like using this. I have a giveaway copy of this, too!

513-F9kASnL._SL500_AA300_Delish: A Home-Baked Christmas is another cute little hardcover spiral-bound book that has recipes for “56 Delicious Cookies, Cakes, & Gifts From Your Kitchen.” Delish.com is a popular website for home cooks and this recently-published book has recipes for a variety of favorite holiday treats. Delish recipes are triple-tested every time, so they must be good! :) There are lots of beautiful photos in the book–it would make a great gift for anyone you know who loves to bake!

mediumThe Daily Cookie is brimming with “365 Tempting Treats for the Sweetest Year of Your Life.” A cookie recipe for each day of the year…how great is that? An event or holiday is highlighted for each day, with a yummy cookie recipe that complements the special occasion. There’s everything from Sour Cream Blueberry Pie Bars to Chocolate Sundae Cookies…a great cookbook for any cookie-lover! You could even call this hardcover book with color photos of every cookie a “cookiepedia!”

180253177Last but certainly not least, I want to tell you about another Country Living book called Deck the Halls…I love this book that’s filled with do-it-yourself ideas for Christmas gifts, crafts, and decorations. It also has super-fun, whimsical, and artsy pullout recipe and gift cards, ornaments, and gingerbread house templates…along with some yummy “gifts from the kitchen” recipes. This softcover book is packed with lots of ideas to make your holidays creative, fun, and festive!

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Comments 12 and 26–Linda G. and Barbara N.–were the winners…congratulations!

giveawaybksNow for the giveaways…if you’d like to enter to win a copy of The Farm Chicks Christmas (softcover) or The Little Book of Baking, leave a comment on this blog post saying which book you’d like to win between now and Saturday, December 8, at midnight (CST)–the random drawings will be made from the comments on this post only! The winners will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced right here in this post on Sunday. Winners will be notified via email (if a winner does not respond in 3 days, I’ll do another drawing).

First entry: Leave a comment on this post telling me which book you would like to win. (If you would like winning either one, you can say that, too, but let me know what your first choice would be).

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

The giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada.

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

Decorating with Fall Foliage: Part 2

I have found so many creative Thanksgiving and autumn decorating ideas on the web and posted some of those yesterday. This is a continuation of some of the inspiring things I found. The ideas and photos I’m posting today are from Better Homes and Gardens. You just may get motivated to try out some of these really easy projects for Thanksgiving!

Here are some ideas using a variety of vases and containers (you can click on an image if you’d like to see it larger)…

Row 1: (1) Display pears, apples, or other autumn fruit in a large apothecary jar; (2) Fill vases with branches of colorful leaves and bittersweet berries; (3) For larger open spaces, fill tall vases with long stems of colorful foliage…a great idea for an entry way!

Row 2: (1) Display cattails in several tall glass vases, anchored with nuts or acorns; (2) Display cattails or branches of leaves in a vase filled with birdseed to give them support…tie some raffia around the vase to add to the natural look; (3) Use a butternut squash as a vase by cutting off the top of the squash, scooping out the flesh, and filling with water and colorful autumn flowers.

Row 3: (1) Arrange autumn flowers and berries in glass jars or vases and fill with water…for a pretty centerpiece, line up a variety of these along the middle of your oval or oblong table (or cluster them if your table is round); (2) Arrange small pumpkins in a rustic basket, tie a bow on the handle and use as a centerpiece or decoration in your living room; (3) Put freshly fallen or pressed leaves in small glass vases (old lab beakers are used in this photo)…put around your home or arrange them together as a centerpiece.

Note: an easy way to press leaves is to place them between layers of newspaper, under a heavy stack of books. Let leaves dry for a few days. To enhance the color of the leaves, iron them between pieces of waxed paper–use a cloth in-between the iron and waxed paper to keep wax off the iron.

Hope you get to try some of these out! You’ll find many more ideas at www.bhg.com!

Decorating with Fall Foliage: Part 1

I love the season of autumn, but when it comes to decorating my home, I really don’t have many store-bought fall accessories to work with. I have a wreath for my door and some autumn candle holders, but that’s about it. I really don’t want to buy a lot, though, because then I’d have the problem of storing it…and I just don’t have the space! Besides, I really like using elements from nature when I can, like pretty fall flowers, gourds and pumpkins, apples and pears, and rich, colorful leaves. And when you use natural things, you don’t have to worry about storing them…you can just put them in your compost bin! The other benefit is that many of the natural things you can decorate with are inexpensive or free–you can find pretty leaves, dramatic branches, and acorns or other nuts on a walk in your neighborhood or local park.

I’ve seen so many great natural decorating ideas for Thanksgiving and fall on the websites of some of my favorite magazines, so I thought I’d share some with you. Even though we’re pretty well into fall, you may find a few things you want to try from now through Thanksgiving.

Here are some creative tips (and photos) I found at MarthaSewart.com. I love this autumn planter (pictured above)…just use one of your unused flower planters from summer, and fill with gourds, small pumpkins, Indian corn…and fill in any extra spaces with leaves, moss, or other natural filler.

These gourd vases are another great idea…

I actually still have a few daisies blooming in my garden, so I could use them for this! Just cut the tops off of the pumpkins, squashes, or gourds you want to use and scoop away the inside pulp with a spoon; then fill with fall flowers (mums would work great) and add water…these natural “vases” should be watertight for about a week. Or you can use dried flowers, which won’t need any water.

There was a similar idea to this over at RealSimple.com…for their pumpkin centerpiece, they suggest arranging fresh flowers in a water-filled jar (instead of putting water in the pumpkin itself), and placing the jar inside the pumpkin. That sounds like it would work really well. Here’s their photo…

And another RealSimple idea and photo…use a wooden salad bowl as an autumn “vase.”  Place a shallow glass or plastic container in the wooden bowl, fill with water, and arrange cut carnations, mums, or other autumn flowers in the container. The stems only need to be about 3 or 4 inches long.

The richness of the wooden bowl makes it perfect for a fall centerpiece!

I’ll post more natural fall and Thanksgiving decorating ideas soon…stay tuned for Part 2! :)

Linked to Favorite Things Saturday.

Elegant Gilded Pumpkins & Other Ideas

Talk about some wonderful pumpkin decorating…this photo of beautifully gilded pumpkins really caught my attention over at CountryLiving.com. There are paint kits available that you can use to get this look in The Country Living Artisans Collection, or you may be able to improvise with your own materials. Here’s how to create gilded pumpkins in a nutshell and for more information, visit the links above. All photos shown and gilding directions are from CountryLiving.com.

How to get started…

You can use real or faux pumpkins…make sure the surface is clean and dry. Wearing gloves, apply a base coat with a paintbrush to seal the surface. Let dry for 30-60 minutes.

Position stickers (from the kit) on the pumpkin, then apply “sticky size” over the entire surface, including the stickers. Leave until it’s clear and tacky, 10 to 20 minutes.

Apply gold and silver leaf to the pumpkin and smooth with a soft cloth to fill in the gaps.

Carefully pull off stickers using tweezers.

Apply toner with a paintbrush. Wipe away the toner with a soft cloth to get the desired color and effect.

Here are some other great autumn decorating ideas I liked at CountryLiving.com

Decorate terra-cotta pots and gourds with imitation silver and gold leaf.

Carve out small pumpkins and insert votive candles…this is a great idea for decorating your table all autumn long!

Make a Pumpkin Tower, stacking different sizes and colors of pumpkins. This could work nicely in a corner of your front porch or backyard patio. There aren’t any specific instructions for this on the website, but it looks like some stems have been cut down or removed on the lower pumpkins for easier stacking.

There are 29 pumpkin decorating ideas in all, so visit CountryLiving.com to see more!

Fun Pillow Patterns

Here are some eye-catching pillow patterns I’ve seen at Pier I this summer. They’re really fun and colorful…I like the simple graphic shapes that are used within the patterns. Some of them have embroidery and rick-rack incorporated into the design which gives them a unique, handmade look. I found them inspiring, so I thought I’d share them with you!

Linked to Favorite Things Saturday.

Make A Lavender Sachet

Lavender is one of my favorite scents. I have several lavender bushes–one in the front yard and one in the back. The photo above is of my backyard bush. I started making lavender sachets because I didn’t want all that wonderfully–scented lavender to go to waste! The sachets are so easy to make, too. Start out by clipping a bunch of stems from your lavender bush. Lay these stems out on a flat surface, like a tray, and spread them out to try. You can let them dry outside or inside. You’ll need to give them at least a few days to dry.

When the lavender has fully dried, you can easily remove the lavender buds by rubbing them off the stems. Remove the buds from all the stems, and make a little mound with all the buds (the lavender smells so good when you’re rubbing them off the stems!).

Then all you need to do is fill pretty little pouches with your lavender buds. If you don’t have your own lavender bush, you can buy lavender buds at some craft stores or you can purchase them online.

I bought these pretty drawstring pouches at Wal-Mart in their craft section; you should be able to find pre-made pouches at your local craft store, too. Instead of pouches, you could also cut squares of thin material, place a mound of lavender buds in the center of the square, and then gather up the sides and tie with a bow.

These sachets are nice to use in dresser drawers to keep things smelling fresh, and you can also hang them in closets, using the ends of your drawstring ties or ribbons to loop or tie around a hanger. They make great little gifts, too! You can also attach one to an already-wrapped gift as an added adornment.

Linked to Sunday Showcase Party, Make it Yours Day, Strut Your Stuff Thursday, Creative Spirit Challenge, Pretty Packages Party, Made by You Monday, Creative Blogger’s Party & Hop.

The Farm Chicks

I first heard of The Farm Chicks about six months ago in Country Living magazine. I noticed they had come out with a fun-looking cookbook, The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen. It has lots of down-home recipes, personal stories, and even some sewing and craft projects.

I visited their website, too, and it’s really fun. I love the retro graphic art and vivid colors on the site–here are a few things I saw…

Dots are supposed to be “in” now and there are definitely a lot of dots on that site!

If you’re wondering what a Farm Chick is, they explain that, too: “A Farm Chick is a girl who sees the world through rose-colored glasses. She loves her family. She laughs a lot. She’s farmgirl meets Fifth Avenue….”

One other fun thing I noticed is that another Farm Chicks book is coming out–The Farm Chicks Christmas. If it’s anything like their first book, it will be full of great ideas…so be on the lookout for it in September!

Creative Stitching with Aimee Ray


If you love stitching and embroidery, you’ll need to check out Aimee Ray’s new book, Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection. It comes out in October, but you can pre-order it on Amazon now. Aimee does some wonderfully creative stitching–I’ve seen a lot of her projects in person, because I actually sit right next to her at work! We are both designers for DaySpring Cards, but Aimee is also an author and expert stitcher and embroiderer. She just stitched up a design for a card the other day and it was fabulous! I have Aimee’s first book, Doodle Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners, and when I look through all the fun and easy projects in that book I really get motivated to start stitching away! Visit Aimee’s blog for free projects and patterns, and some helpful embroidery tutorials.

Very Vintage!

If you like vintage fabrics, aprons, hankies, pot holders, tablecloths, kitchen linens, and quilts like I do, you may want to visit Sharon’s Antiques–this web business specializes in vintage fabric from the early 19th century to the 1950′s. I get inspired looking at all the retro patterns and colors!  Here are some of their vintage fruit prints…

It looks like there’s quite a lot to choose from. I’ll have to keep this in mind for one of my next sewing projects!

Lots of Dots!

I bought a bunch of polka-dotted ribbons at a craft store the other day…I couldn’t resist the fun colors, and besides, they were 50% off! I like using pretty ribbons like this to wrap gifts and tie around simple vases of flowers. You can even snip a piece to use as a bookmark (a 6 to 9-inch length works well). I should have enough ribbons for awhile now…