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Posts from the ‘Projects’ Category

Feminine and Frilly

Hello there, flower friends!

After yesterday’s little introduction to all of my crafty supplies, it’s time to get down to business. Before the baby comes along, I’m hoping to sew up some fun, floral pillows, hang some artwork, and frame some photos. I’ve also got a couple of nature-inspired projects planned, but those will have to wait just a bit. For now, I’ve been having fun keeping busy inside and putting a few of my aesthetically appealing ingredients to good use. Since we can’t play around much with real flowers, I suppose that fake flowers will have to do for now! So come along as I show you a super simple way for us non-knitters to have some fun with beautiful yarn.

Yep, that’s right. I’m back at it, busy making wreaths. I strung a couple festive ribbon wreaths over Christmas and it finally clicked… this would be a wonderful way to display the soft and sweet lavender yarn that I oh-so-impulsively purchased from Woolwench! All this project calls for is a generous amount of your favorite yarn (or ribbon… those turned out beautifully as well), a foam or straw wreath form, and a heck of a lot of patience.

Start off by wrapping one end of your yarn around the wreath frame and tying a double knot.

Then, simply wrap your yarn around and around and around and around… well, you get the point. My skein was too bulky and long, so I had to cut it into more manageable pieces. This wasn’t a problem, though, since I could simply tie the pieces together at the back of the wreath form. Keep at it until you’ve come full circle. Luckily this project used less than half of my yarn, so I have plenty left over for future projects.

Just so you know, I totally underestimated the time that goes into wrapping a wreath in yarn. If you’re looking for a speedier option, ribbon went much more quickly thanks to it’s thicker width.

Once you’ve come full circle and reached your initial starting point, tie the yarn off at the end with a double knot. Now that your yarn is securely in place, you can trim any unruly tidbits at the back of the wreath.

As a final, flowery touch, I decided to add my two silk millinery flowers.

I hope to hang this wreath on the nursery wall as part of a grouping… but more on that later.

If, like me, you have zero knitting skills and you’re looking to add a feminine and frilly touch to any bare walls, a ribbon or yarn wreath is a great option. Instead of a sweater or a blanket that the baby can outgrow, this wreath should (hopefully) hang around for a while… until, perhaps, she develops her own unique sense of style, that is!

We’ll be taking off for Paris tomorrow morning, so I’ll be away from the computer for a few days. Already wishing you guys a wonderful weekend and looking forward to seeing you on Monday! :)

Woodland Inspired Candle Wreath

Happy Friday, flower friends!

Today I have another seasonal project to share with you guys. Something inspired by the beauty of the surrounding woodlands. A touch of nature to light up your holiday season. And guess what? It’s not a wreath! It’s a candle wreath! ;)

I was missing the festive flicker of candle light nestled atop the holiday table, and, truth be told, my wreath wall was already full. So I thought up a fitting solution and took a little walk through the forest, taking care to gather a variety of pine cones, birch bark, feathers, greenery and moss. Feathers seem to be the trickiest to find- my collection has been curated over a span of several months. I’m always on the lookout for interesting feathers, but haven’t yet found a way to put them to good use. Although I can’t say for sure, I’m pretty sure that my collection includes owl feathers, falcon feathers, and, most likely, a pigeon feather or two.

I stripped some still-supple bark from a fallen birch branch near the edge of the forest. Since it was still moist, it was easily pliable. I also collected a bunch of tightly clustered fallen branches of European Larch cones. Thanks to googling “deciduous evergreen”, I could finally put a name to those crazy trees that so closely resemble a pine yet change color in the autumn and drop all of their needles in the winter.

Using a base of moss, birch bark, and greenery, I worked my way around the straw wreath base until I was happy with both the layout and coverage. Once it looked like all of the elements were evenly dispersed, I wound my floral wire around and around until everything was secured into place.

Next I clustered the larch cones in an asymmetric pattern around the wreath. Once again, floral wire was used to keep them in place. To finish off the tiny woodland wonderland, I tucked a few larger pine cones here and there and added a small cluster of feathers. The only thing left to do was add a pillar candle and bring the centerpiece to life. I happened to have a birch-covered candle on hand, but if you’d prefer to carry on with your craftiness, you could always construct your own woodland-themed tea-light candle holder using this technique.

It doesn’t get much better than foraging for a bit of natural inspiration and creating a totally unique tablescape to brighten up your holidays. I’d love to see and/or hear about the goodies that you like to forage locally, so please feel free to share!

Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Christmas Cake

Good evening, everyone!

Last weekend I decided to give an age-old recipe a go and whipped up a super easy semi-homemade chocolatey chocolate chip cake. I stress the “semi” since the cake actually includes more than one ready-to-go mix. It’s a recipe that most everyone, especially you Americans, has probably tried at one point or another. For me, I remember my mom baking this tasty treat when I was younger, and, more recently, baking this bundt cake has become something of a Christmas tradition for my brother-in-law’s mom. It’s by no means my own innovative recipe, but I hope you’ll agree that this minor technicality shouldn’t stop me from posting it here on the site! :)

If you love chocolate even half as much as I do, you’re pretty much guaranteed to love this cake. Word for the wise: if you can’t polish it off for desert, it makes one heck of a breakfast of champions when paired with a creamy cup of coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package chocolate cake mix (or any pre-made cake mix will do, really)
  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 package of chocolate chips
  • and (optional) powdered sugar for a decorative touch of “snow”

If you ignore greasing the pan and preheating the oven to 350 F (175 C), this whole cake baking ordeal is really only a three step process: mix all ingredients together, stir in the chocolate chips, and bake for about an hour.

You can use either a bundt pan or, like I did, a cool-looking log pan snagged at a discount store. Sweet!

After generously sprinkling your chocolate chips into the batter and pouring the gooey goodness into your greased pan, place it in the preheated oven. Bake the cake for about an hour or until a skewer comes out dry.

The cake will probably rise to the point of making you worry, but don’t fret. Once the cake is done baking and you remove it from the oven to cool, it will sink back down to a normal level.

Even after about 1 hour and 15 minutes of baking, my skewer actually kept coming out a bit moist… but, seeing as the moistness of the chocolate cake is what makes it so special, I definitely didn’t want to over-bake it. I let it cool for about an hour before tipping it out of it’s mold, frosting it with “snow”, and serving it up with coffee.

It was admittedly a bit gooier in the middle than I’d remembered, but it tasted so great! Perhaps my heavy-handedness with the chocolate chips played a small role in the gooey center. Nevertheless, this will most definitely be on the menu during the upcoming holiday festivities… another excuse to indulge, tee-hee.

What about you guys? Has anything devilishly delicious made its way on to your holiday menu?

Berry Christmas Wreath

Hello, hello, all you festive folks!

Are you slowly starting to get into the Christmas spirit? Have the presents begun to gather beneath the tree? I, for one, still have a bit more shopping to do before I can check off all the items on my “to buy” list. Not to worry, a little Friday afternoon shopping trip to Maastricht should do just the trick!

Moving on to less materialistic business, I’ve got another project full of foraged finds for you guys! This time, thanks to the glorious ruby red of hawthorn berries, we’re going for a natural pop of festive color. True to Christmas form, the bright green of the moss and lichen-covered twiggy branches combines beautifully with rich red of the berries. Seeing this color combination popping up all throughout the hedgerows and forests this time of year, it’s no wonder where the traditional Christmas colors got started!

I brought in a few other goodies as well (pine cones, feathers, birch bark, and so on)… but I decided that I’d rather keep this wreath simple and minimalist and save the other, more extravagant, foraged finds for one last little woodland themed project.

As usual, I began by wire-wrapping the straw wreath form with sheets of moss.

Next up were the lichen-covered pear twigs. Something about the erratic and scraggly nature of fruit tree branches gives them such character. I, once again, used green floral wire to secure the twigs in a semi-circular shape around the wreath.

For a touch of modern asymmetry, I segued into the bright berry branches as I continued along the curve of the wreath. After tucking in a few little bunches of berries in the hopes of camouflaging any visible wires, the wreath was ready to be hung.

Hopefully the vibrant color of the berries will remain until the holidays have come and gone. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they won’t shrivel up and darken too quickly!

For now, though, this holly jolly berry display has taken up a center spot on my little wall of wreaths. I’ll keep you guys posted as to how it holds up!

Crafty Christmas: Simple Clay Ornaments

Good evening, festive friends!

How are decorations looking around your home? Do you like to go all out, or do prefer to stick with a few modest touches here and there? I suppose I’m somewhere in between… no heaps of holiday decor, but enough to put me in the mood and make me feel all warm and cozy inside. Right about this time of year, I’m usually helping my sister and her family arrange all of the ornaments on their tree.  Since we’re holding Christmas celebrations here in Belgium this year, it looks like I’m in charge of my own decorations!

I don’t have any ornaments on hand, so to go along with my DIY decor theme, I crafted some simple stamped clay ornaments myself. If this is something that sounds like fun to you, all you’ll need are some seasonal stamps (or greenery!), air dry clay, cookie cutters or sharp-edged cup, and, if you’re up for it, a spritz of spray paint.

To get started, use a rolling pin to flatten the clay to about 1/2 inch thick. You can use fancy cookie cutters or, like me, a plain ol’ plastic cup to cut out ornaments of various shapes.

Use a straw to create a hole for hanging.

Place your stamps and/or greenery on top of the ornament and press firmly. Peel back and admire your crafty creation.

Let the ornaments air dry at least overnight before applying any color of spray paint you’d like.

I used little golden wire hangers in order to hang the ornaments. Seeing as we haven’t gotten our tree yet (shame… I know!!!), I hung a small selection of ornaments from the evergreen wreath instead.

They’re nothing fancy, but they sure are sweet and simple. I’m super happy with the result and can’t wait to hang them on our tree! :)

Now we just have to work on the whole tree situation…

Decking the Halls with Evergreen Shrubbery

Happy Monday, folks!

It’s the start of another work week, which means that the days until Christmas are slowly dwindling away. Although I’m super excited to spend a cold (and hopefully white!) holiday season here in Belgium, I have to admit that I’m missing the holly jolly cheer that American society exudes in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Yes, I know, it’s over-commercialized and materialistic… but I can’t help but love the moment those cheesy Christmas carols take over the radio waves, bright lights add sparkle to neighborhoods and city centers, and cars loaded with Christmas trees rule the roads. Not to mention the giddiness of spending time together with loved ones.

This year, though, I’m looking forward to taking advantage of all the traditions that Europe has to offer… Christmas markets lined with craft stands and snack shacks, tasty treats like Kruidenoten and oliebollen, cozy walkways bustling with shoppers, and not one but two days of Christmas celebrations!

So, in honor of the upcoming occasion and my never-ending need to play around with greenery, here’s… another wreath! Ha, I bet you’d never have guessed it ;)

Today I wanted to share a simple, traditional, evergreen wreath. I used a straw wreath form, frilly and flexible evergreen shrubbery, and green floral wire. This evergreen base can be dressed up in any way you see fit: pine cones, twigs, dried oranges, cinnamon sticks, ribbons, feathers. Like almost any other holiday decor, the sky’s the limit when it comes to thinking up fun embellishments that will suit your own personal taste and general theme.

To get started, I divided my evergreens into sections. I picked some lighter, more chartreuse cuttings along with some blue-ish green branches. Simply start by layering a selection of your branches on top of the wreath frame, making sure to fully cover the front and sides of your straw base. Secure the branches using the floral wire. As you secure the branches make sure to pull a few bits and pieces free in order to disguise the wiring. Keep layering and securing, layering and securing until you make your way all the way around the frame.

Once your base is complete, you can add whatever you’d like! To keep things simple and go along with my glistening, golden theme, I decided to tuck in a handful of spray-painted birch branches.

For another wreath, I went in a different direction. Instead of golden twigs, I foraged some mossy ones from the grass underneath our pear trees. To add a pop of color, I used floral wire to “sew” on a scattering of dried orange slices.

So there you have it,  an evergreen base to suit all of your holiday decor needs!

What would you guys put on your wreaths? Any special theme you’re going with this year?

Holiday DIY: Rustic Bark Wreath

Good evening, little elves!

Today was spent ripping open a huge and heavy package of spring bulbs and getting the first batch in the ground. Yippee! As if a box full of bareroot roses wasn’t good enough, two crates full of tulips and daffodils really put me in seventh heaven. I’ll give you a play-by-play post soon, but as the weekend quickly approaches, I figured I shouldn’t bore you with any more weather updates or garden tasks… why don’t we put together another upcycled natural wreath instead?

Possibly you’re planning on embarking upon little bit of foraging fun this weekend? A forest adventure, perhaps? Maybe this project is right up your alley? Well, should you happen to come across some fallen branches with peeling bark, or, like me, have a dead plum tree solemnly standing in your garden, you’re in luck!

Most trees rely on their layers of bark in order to survive, so make sure to use only materials sourced from definitely dead wood… bring a stethoscope if you must. Our poor tree has been dead for quite some time, but I can’t yet bring myself to cut down the scrawny, leafless branches.

Inspired by the vibrant green lichen opportunistically growing atop the peeling bark, I decided to strip off several sections in order to put together another indoor wreath.

Warning! Lots of tiny critters came crawling out from the bark, so this might be a project you’ll want to do outside. If you’ve been foraging before, then you are probably already aware of the creepy crawlies that can (quite literally) come out of the woodwork.

Using another 20 cm straw wreath frame, I arranged the sections of bark along the circle before attaching them permanently. First I tried to use a glue gun, but it wasn’t strong enough to secure the dirty backing of the bark to the frame. Instead, I took my trusted floral wire and carefully wrapped the spool around and around until all of the pieces of bark were firmly attached. To finish things off, I used several small clumps of (non-foraged) decorative moss to fill in any “bald” spots.

And there you have it! A wonderfully rustic yet seasonally-appropriate bit of holiday wall decor! The best part about most of these wreaths is that you can keep them on display throughout the rest of the year. To me, the rustic beauty of natural home decor never goes out of style ;)

In case you’re wondering what the heck I’m going to do with all of these wreaths… just you wait. I’ve got a fun idea planned, but there is still another wreath or two in the works before the final vision is ready for the grand reveal.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and I can’t wait to see you again on Monday!

Holiday Bling: Making a Golden Wreath

Hi there, fellow festive elves!

As you might already suspect, DIY decor doesn’t simply stop at moss-covered wreath frames. That would be a pity, since there are so many other foraged finds to put to good use! Broken branches, fallen trees, mossy bark… I have lots of ideas, but only so much time to put them together. I’m trying hard to squeeze some holiday craftiness in between cleaning out the flower borders, harvesting seeds, getting the bare root roses and spring bulbs in the ground (better late than never!), and trying to bring all of the fragile frost-sensitive plants back inside.

Thanks to my in-laws who saved me some birch branches from a fallen tree, I used a couple spare hours today putting together a lavishly golden and kinda crazy wreath for above the fire place. The wonderfully flexible top twigs, complete with a scattering of leaves and catkins, got twisted into shape and spritzed with some golden spray paint before being hung on the wall.

To start off, I used a pair of pruning shears to separate the top twigs from the bigger branches. Heidi, of course, took this as an open invitation to nibble on the soft wood while I wasn’t looking. Caught ya!!

The rest of the wreath-making consisted of creating a continuous chain of wonderfully wild branches tightly bound together using (green) floral wire. While the thicker parts of the branches needed to be tied tightly in order to provide a stable “ring”, I tried to leave as many of the wispy bits free to hang loose and dangle. These will provide a little extra “oomph” and give the wreath some body… if you like a more natural-looking, free form wreath, that is. Otherwise, feel free to bind everything tightly together.

Once you’ve created a chain long enough to loop back around into a circular form, your mission is complete! In order to create a solid structure, make sure to bind the thicker stems from your “beginning” to the thicker stems at the “end”. You can always make spot corrections if there are certain sections that don’t look quite right.

In attempt to keep things a bit cleaner, I tried to keep my trimming and cutting within the confines of a blanket. Turns out, the dogs ended up using it more than I did.

Heidi snuck a little snooze while another pair of eager eyes burned into the back of my head… Dieter just couldn’t stand me fiddling around with sticks and not giving him any to play with.

Happy with the over-all shape of the wreath, I brought it outside for a spritz of spray paint. Mine got a double coating of gold, but you can (obviously) choose whatever color you’d like. After letting it dry for about an hour, it was time to bring it inside!

I personally love the asymmetrical, natural look of a bound birch branch wreath (phew, say that five times fast!). Especially in the evening light, the golden glow adds just the right amount of bling and shine without looking too ostentatious.

Should you be in the market for another kind of wreath, don’t worry! There’s lots more inspiration from Mother Nature to come! Also, if you have any crazy ideas that you want me to try, totally let me know :)

DIY Christmas: Starting Simple

Hi there, everyone!

I hope you’ll join me in offering a warm welcome to December… the month of sharing, caring, spending quality time with family, reflecting on fond memories and creating new ones, tying up loose ends, and figuring out our hopes and dreams for the year to come. Let’s hope it also happens to be the month of fluffy white carpets of snow, cozy Christmas markets, and warm mugs of  hot coco!

Remember the moss that I foraged from the forest floor last week? Well, I’ve come up with an easy way to incorporate the found materials into a fresh, natural, and festive bit of holiday decor. It’s a simple start to our DIY decorations, an inexpensive way to enjoy the little gifts that nature has so generously provided.

As you can see, lots of little clumps of moss had fallen from the rocky cliffs and settled within the fallen foliage. You’ll be happy to know that no moss was harmed during the making of this wreath! It was either scooped up from the forest floor or cleaned out of the shady sections of grass in our garden.

For this project all you’ll need is a straw wreath frame (available for super cheap, i.e. around 1 euro, from any discount store or craft shop), thin gauge wire, and… moss!

You can choose any size wreath frame and wire color. In case you’re interested, I chose a small-ish wreath and a mossy-green floral wire.

The two step process goes a little something like this… 1) arrange the clumps of moss along the wreath frame according to your personal preference, and 2) secure the moss to the frame by continuously wrapping the floral wire around both the straw frame and the clumps of moss.

Once your moss is firmly secured, you’re good to go! Now that you’ve got a nice, natural base, you can either choose to hang your moss wreath as is or embellish it with decorative bows, mossy twigs, dried orange slices, pinecones… anything your creative little mind can dream up! :)

Here it is almost one week later, still looking green, fresh, and vibrant! So far, I’ve kept mine plain and simple. I’m still trying to figure out where I want to hang it… or if I want to keep it as a table wreath and adorn it with some candles. I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted and let you know where it’s ended up.

If this is something up your alley, have lots of fun giving it a go! If not, then sit tight, ’cause I’ve got lots more simple and fresh wreath ideas to share with you guys! :)

Scent-sational Leftovers

Hi there, everyone, and a very happy Thanksgiving to all of my American buds!

If you’re reading this from the good ol’ US of A, I hope you’re cooking up a storm and enjoying some quality time with family and/or friends. I sure wish that I could be in the kitchen with my sister and my mom, smothering a turkey with our trademark mayonnaise-spice rub, stuffing it with fresh herbs and citrus, and patiently waiting for the hours in the oven to tick by!

Instead, I decided to use some foraged leftovers from previous projects to put together a little holiday mood maker… something you guys could easily do from home as well! You’re limited only by your own imagination and sense of smell :)

My inspiration came from a scattering of fragrant pine branches that I found nestled among the leaves on the forest floor. I had remembered reading an online article focused on the simple pleasure of making your own natural room scents instead of relying on candles and sprays. With citrus at home, plenty of herbs in the garden, spices in the cabinet, and now a handful of fallen pine branches, it was time to cook up some magic!

Since it’s so chilly outside and the holidays are just around the corner, it seemed appropriate to start off with something winter-y and festive. A little freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and pine needles sounded (smelled?) like they would do the trick nicely. Neatly packaged, ground spices will also work out just fine!

I tossed all of the ingredients into a pot, filled the pot with water, brought it to a boil and then reduced the magical mixture to a simmer. To be honest, I went a bit too heavy on the cinnamon… I’d probably tone that down a bit next time. Otherwise it smelled great! The scent really traveled all throughout the house and gave each room a nice and cozy festive fragrance.

Another fun “leftovers” combination I tried was a mixture of citrus, conifers, and herbs. Repeating the same process as before, these guys were left to simmer throughout the day. Again… awesome!

For the holidays, I think I’ll try a combination of the two: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, oranges, vanilla extract, thyme and pine branches.

If rich and potent isn’t exactly your thing, you could always choose something lighter and fresher. Perhaps a combination of lime, rosemary, thyme, and mint oil is something more up your alley?

I’ll probably give that one a try once the holidays have come and gone!

You can cook these natural room scents over the stove, in an oil burner, on top of a tea warmer, or, and this one’s my personal favorite, right on top of your wood-burning stove! This is the method I’ll be using during our Thanksgiving get-together on Sunday, and one that I’ll probably be repeating again whenever our fireplace is burning! :)

Just in case you’re wondering, these can be reused over the course of several days. I’ve been using the orange slice mixture for two days already, and although it doesn’t look very pretty anymore, it still smells great! You’ll just have to keep an eye on your water level in order to keep the ingredients simmering rather than burning.

If you decide to give this a go, please let me know what combinations you come up with! I’d love to try out new scents and play around with different ingredients.