Fifth Day: West Elm Inspired Nutcracker

Are you having an awesome Christmas so far?  Ours is starting to look that way.  I mentioned before that we are on break from homeschooling right now, but it hasn’t felt like it.  It seems to be taking some time for the “vacation” to set in.  Right now it feels like perpetual cleaning, dishes, laundry, and random carpet cleaning blocks.  We have been visiting with people and making plans but my favorite part of Christmas is relaxing with a fire, some great music and people I love.  Okay. Okay.  Sometimes it’s jumping around by that fire after winning a game of taboo against the people I love, but ya know…same thing.  Also, there are usually cookies or toffee there (made by my mom…thanks, mom:)).  I’m excited for those times and for watching “Love Actually” with the man of my dreams. That has become one of my favorite things when you place it in the midst of a house of 3 little munchkins!   I appreciate these moments so very much.

This nutcracker project was fun because my kids happen to LOVE this story.  They picked out the nutcracker and were actually excited about making a “modern” nutcracker.  I’m sure they were just excited I bought one.  I found mine on sale at target for $10…not a bargain but not too shabby considering the one at West Elm (I pinned it here) I was modeling it after ranges from $29-$59.  They come in white or red.

I was hoping to rescue some random hippie nutcracker who just shouldn’t be, but they make the random nutcracker’s heads different shapes.  So, we had to choose a marine.  We have a few marine nutcrackers or I would have just kept it as is.  Plus, we were going for clean-cut and modern.

All you really have to do is remove the fabric or extra pieces from the wooden body, pray it with primer, and then put a few coats of paint on it.  I think I ended up with 4 coats total , but it was really just a few sprays every few hours for the whole day.  I just put it outside and would spray a few patchy areas as I saw them.  Super easy.

One more thing to put in my entry-way. Plus, my kids love him.  Bonus points for Mom.

I really like him.

What Christmas projects are you working on right now?

Fourth Day: Sphere Of Christmas

So00, this week the kids and I attempted to make snow-globes.  We all know the kind that is made in the baby food jar, the tomato sauce jar, or the ever so fabulous mason jar.  A month ago, while at the craft store, I happened upon some super-cool looking plastic snow-globes which had my 3 munchkin’s names written all over them.  They claimed to be “shatter-proof” which is appealing because what kids wants to just stare at a glass jar.  why not have a little fun?  This week we broke them out, picked out our animals and trees (and Lego men!) to put inside, and waited for the glue to dry.  After we filled them up with water they worked for about 5 minutes but slowly each glued item began floating to the top.  We were bummed!  The glue just wouldn’t adhere to the plastic.  The upside is that it led us to something that I love more.  It’s a spin on this Pinterest pin.  You can find the “spheres” in my pictures at West Elm for $8!

These spheres of Christmas…





They might not be able to shake them and watch the snow fall, but they certainly will enjoy seeing them fly through the air like a Christmas bubble.

This doesn’t mean I have given up on the snow globes.  I have mine in the mason jar that is just fine.

We’ll have another go at the kids jars…minus the plastic globe.

Don’t forget to post your Christmas Pinterest pictures…

Third Day: Christmas Chalkboard Pots with succulents

Chalkboard paint is not a recent original idea, but getting/making the paint, taking the supplies out, and deciding what not to paint how many things to paint is the hard part.  The pots below I had sponge painted when I was first married (8.5 years ago) back when sponging was trendy in the craft world…or was it ever.  They’ve been sitting on my potting shelf for years just waiting to have new life.

Enter: chalkboard paint.

My pots with the uber-cool sponge painting from 2003.  So, I slapped some paint on them.

I just bought some succulents back in October when I made a chalkboard pumpkin and potted them right away.  Succulents are awesome for people who don’t do well with house plants.  I am not a good houseplant caretaker myself as I am constantly distracted in my projects.  If it’s not watered automatically, it doesn’t get done.  Anyway, you only have to water succulents every couple of weeks and a little more often during the warmer months.  They store up their water so they take care of themselves in many ways which is awesome!

You can make one for your UPS driver.  Ours is here every day during the holidays and almost every day the rest of the year so he’s high on my list, fo sho.  Entrepreneurs who work from home, like my husband, have that effect on the mail system.  Hey, we help keep them in business, right?

“Dear Neighbor, I’m sorry my children are so loud. Happy Christmas!”

One for your neighbors, to thank them for their patience with your children’s noise levels (my neighbors are actually a very sweet, kind, and patient couple).

If you don’t get to it before Christmas, you could always use it as a “Thank You” for after the holidays or even a New Years gift.

Happy Chalkboard-ing!

Post your Christmas Pinterest projects here…

Second Day: Orange and Cardamom Crescents

Every Christmas, I make the same cookie recipes.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  I love each one and have no intention of stopping this tradition.  However, every year I also am tempting by the intriguing new recipes from Bon Appetit, Martha Stewart Living, my old Gourmet’s, and every other picture at the checkout line.  I look and look at my stacks of Christmas magazines but don’t usually make time during Christmas for more than 1 or 2.  This year I made one from my list from 2 years ago, which I was reminded of by this Pinterest pin.  I’ve had cardamom cookies and marshmallows from a really great bakery in New York called Whimsy and Spice before.  They have really great sampler boxes if you are looking for a gift for a foodie…or anyone really.  Ever since I tried theirs, I’ve wanted to make some.

So, I give you my version which I added orange zest and hazelnut meal to.

Orange and Cardamom Crescents

(adapted from Bon Appetit)

3/4 tsp. cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 1/2 c. flour

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided

3/4 c. hazelnut flour

1 c. unsalted butter, room temp

1 T. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.  Whisk cardamom, cinnamon, salt, and flour together. In a separate bowl, whisk 1/2 cup powdered sugar and hazelnut flour.  With your mixer, beat butter and vanilla until creamy. Add sugar/hazelnut mixture, zest, and beat to blend. Add the dry ingredients and blend until they form a course but moist mixture.  Flip onto the counter and knead a few times until it forms a ball.

Take a T. of the dough, form a ball, and roll it a few times in your hands until it makes a log.  It will be about 1 1/2 in long.  turn up the ends to make a crescent shape.  Place the formed cookies on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Bake for about 12 minutes.

Sift the rest of the powdered sugar (1 c.) onto a plate or something else you could use to roll the cookies in.  Roll the warm cookies in the sugar until the are covered and set on a rack to cool.

Post your Christmas Pinterest Pictures here…

Check out day 1 here.

First Day: How to make stamped salt-dough ornaments with glaze

On the first day of Christmas…

Salt dough.  We all know it.  We all used it in elementary school or at home (thanks,mom!).  For my family, salt dough meant Christmas ornaments in the shape of little bears representing different years with changing interests.  My family still makes fun of me for the little bear ornament I took little bites out of every year.  A little salt and polyurethane never hurt anyone, right?  So, I knew I wanted to make these dough ornaments with my little guys too.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not really into cheesy little kids projects involving gluing pre-cut foam pieces together or making yet another egg-crate creature (although I’ve seen a few tempting ones of late).  I like to try new things and learn new skills, so my kids go along for the ride.  They don’t know any different.   They know I’m crazy around here already so nobody is in the dark concerning that.

So, back to the salt-dough ornaments.  Here is the Pinterest pin I was inspired by.  I put my own spin on it by using rubber stamps.

For the dough:

1/2 cup salt

1/2 cup water

1 cup flour

Every craft book I’ve ever known has this 1/2 – 1/2 – 1 ratio.  As seen above, we mixed (pre-measure if you need to for kids) and needed under the dough was workable like pizza dough.  If you’ve never made pizza dough you should.  Basically, it should be elastic and able to be spread apart a bit.

We cut ours in circles just to keep the lines clean in case the kid applied stamps got a little messy.

I think stamping and then cutting would be best next time around since you don’t want to squish the shape.

We’ve collected a few Martha stamps along the way.  These plastic stamps that adhere to the mounted block are the cheapest stamps and the best to store.  You can get a wide variety without spending $200.

For extra stability and for a cleaner look, we added a coat of polyurethane which is just a smelly clear glaze found at any hardware store or paint store.  You could also use Sculpey glaze (made for glazing clay) which is found at craft stores or amazon right here.

After they dried, we added some mommy/daughter signatures and the date.  You could also save that side to use as a gift tag.  It would be super-cute that way.  Hopefully of few of hers will make them on the packages.

The stamps turned out pretty cute with the baker’s twine.  They got darker after the glaze went on.

We threw in a monogram or two.

Also, a few random critters.  I would have loved a better stamp on this one, but you only get one shot!

We are enjoying our break, decorating, projects, Christmas music, and hangin’ with our buddies.

Made a little progress on the tree in the kitchen.

You have no idea how many of my shots he jumps in the middle of.  Weirdo.

Don’t forget to add your Pinterest Christmas projects to the “12 Days of Pinterest”  flickr page!

Check out the Ella Fitzgerald holiday Pandora station while you’re making these…

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