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Tutorial: Fridge Dry-Erase Board

12 Jul

Luke and I have been trying to find a solution to our grocery list for awhile. We find Post-It notes are perfect to jot down what we need and take with us as we go in and out of stores. However leaving the little sticky pieces of paper all over the fridge to write down what we need as we notice, wasn’t really working for us.

So I turned to my old friend raffia (which you might remember from the Raffia Bowl Tutorial). While I was at the Dollar Store stocking up on more raffia I found a package of three sheets of dry-erase board. There were 3 11×14” pieces. Now these were much too big to be putting on the fridge, but once I cut them in half they were perfect!

Looking at the 5 left over pieces I decided to make a frame for the dry-erase board that I could slide them in and out of. That way once one board is past its prime and no longer looking very nice I can easily replace it with another one.

I love the bright colours the board adds to my kitchen, I even made a little holder for the post-it-notes so that we never have to go searching for them. Now as we notice we are low or out of things we can quickly jot it down on the dry-erase board and when we go out to run our errands it only takes a moment to write out what we need to get on the post-it-notes.

Materials:

1. Mod Podge

2. Play-Dough

3. Raffia

4. Baloons

5. Wooden Dowels

6. Post-It Notes (for size reference).

7. Dry-Erase Boards

In case anyone uses the Post-It Note system that I do here’s the instructions on how to make the little holder for them.

Let it dry completely, you can add another coat of Mod Podge to stiffen it up. Add some magnets on the back and call it a day. Wax paper works great for drying anything covered in Mod Podge, its easy to peel off.

I didn’t cover some of the basic parts involved in using raffia in this way. If you’d like a little more direction check out the Raffia Bowl tutorial, it’ll tell you all you need to know.

Anyone else use Post-It notes for their errand runs? Different methods? What works for you?

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Tutorial: Upcycled Craft Storage

6 Jul

As promised in the On The List post from Sunday here is the great tutorial I was talking about. I`m so excited to share this with all you other crafters out there. I know how quickly supplies can get out of hand. I can`t stand working in a mess, not being able to find the ribbon I want!

Here is a great way to upcycle any old bookshelf hanging around (or you can find one in a thrift store for super cheap). By adding tilting bins you can keep stuff tidy and out of site, but still have quick access to all your supplies. A couple of dowels helps to keep all those pretty ribbon organized while still showcasing your collection.

Lets get started.

Materials and Tools

  • Old Book Shelf (any size, you can easily customize the bins to work with what you have).
  • Sheet of Pressboard (very, very cheap. $20 will get you enough to do 10+ bins)
  • Finishing Nails
  • Hinges (two per bin)
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Scrap Book Paper
  • Mod Podge
  • Dowels
  • Rod Brackets (two per dowel)
  • Jig Saw (we used a skill saw, but PLEASE do not try this unless you spend a lot of time working with one, like Luke)
  • Palm Sander/Sand Paper
  • Hammer/ Brad Nailer
  • Paint Brush/ Roller/ Sprayer

The measurements will vary depending on your shelf. You will need 4 pieces for each bin.

This little bookshelf has a long history.

It was originally a nightstand in my sister’s room growing up. Than I commandeered it and used it for storage in my bathroom when I moved out. When I grew tired of that  I added some brackets, mounted it on the wall and used it to show case my (large, large) collection of sprinkles. I had almost thrown it out before I started looking for ways to add storage to the craft room.

I love that pieces of furniture which normally have such short lifespans can be kept out of landfills with some paint and creativity.

I know you are itching to get started on your own  so I’ll stop distracting you. Go and reincarnate that ugly bookshelf you’ve got lying around! Be sure to come back and tell me all about it, I can’t wait to hear from you.


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I’m taking part in my first ever Link Party! I’ve linked up at Strut-Your-Stuff Thursday from the great Somewhat Simple blog,be sure to hop on over and check out all the other great projects.

giveaways

Tutorial: Vanilla Extract and Sugar

28 Jun

It’s flaming hot and humid here but my mind is already thinking of snow banks and holiday gifts.

Which really turns out to be pretty handy, because making vanilla extract takes some time. Not much effort, but lots of time.

Vanilla extract is a great gift to give to anyone on your holiday list who excels or even dabbles in baking. The flavor is much nicer than store bought extract (which often has water or additives). And the best part is you can get two gifts for the price of one. Once you are done using the beans in the extract you can use them to make some vanilla sugar.

You can use any alcohol you want to make vanilla extract. As long as it is at least 40% proof. The most used alcohol is Vodka, because it has no flavor of its own.

I like to use Rum. It brings its own flavor to the mix, which adds another level of complexity to the extract. Plus the sugar from the molasses helps to speed up the extraction process.

A good ratio of beans to alcohol for single fold vanilla is 3/4 pound of beans to 1 gallon of alcohol. You can of course make your extract stronger. Double fold (which is used by bakers) is twice that (duh). I usually make mine somewhere in the middle.

Split each vanilla bean down the middle.

Open up the bean and scrape out the seeds.

You want to sterilize the jars you will be using by putting them in a large pot filled with water and bringing it to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and you are good to go. I find large  Mason jars work perfectly.

Place the beans and seeds in the jar. Top up with the alcohol of your choice (a shot or two for you is always good too).

Shake the jars really well and then place in a cool dark spot. Take them out each day or so and give them a good shake. After around a month you can switch to only shaking them around once a week.

After a while you will start to see the colour deepen. Take off the lid and smell the developing vanilla flavor. How awesome is it that you are the one responsible for this process? And how much better is it that all it took was 5 minutes of work on your part!

After three months the extract will be full of flavor and ready to go. You can always leave the beans in and keep topping up with alcohol and new beans. This is great to keep for yourself, it’s a never ending supply of vanilla extract.

If you are making them up as gifts bottle them up into cute little individual bottles. Mine are from the dollar store.

Don’t throw away the beans, they have got plenty of flavor left in them. Dry them off and grab some sugar and another Mason jar.

Toss the beans and sugar in the jar, give it a shake. After a month you will have another gift to pass along to the bakers on your list. But make sure you keep some for yourself.

Vanilla sugar is a popular ingredient in some old European recipes. I have a great Apple Cake recipe that I picked up from a co-worker’s Oma that just isn’t the same without it.

But really you can use it in any number of ways. Sprinkled over fresh berries, in whipped cream, any where you want that delicate vanilla flavor to add a little something special.

Take a few minutes now and come December you’ll be thrilled to have these great gifts to give out. All you have to do is have some fun decorating them for the season and watching the smiles bloom on your loved one’s faces.

Trust me, everyone loves hand made gifts. And hand made gifts you can bake with are just that much better.


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FYI: Gum Paste Carnations

23 Jun

As promised, we’re going to get back to our FYI: Gum Paste series now that we know everything we need to do harvest, jam, puree and freeze local strawberries. Don`t forget the newest Cookie Cup: Strawberry Shortcake.

In our first FYI: Gum Paste posts I showed you some of the basic and best tools to use as well as how to simply make gum paste. In the second post we did a fun little project, learning how to colour, roll out, texturize, and extrude gum paste, as well as how to cut out letters. Today we are going to dive into one of the most rewarding ways we can use gum paste: flowers.

Gum Paste Carnations

If you haven`t worked with gum paste before it`d be a good idea to check out the second FYI: Gum Paste post to become familiar with some basic tips and tricks. If you have any questions about the tools needed to make these carnations check out the first FYI: Gum Paste post.

Carnations are a great first flower to start with. They are relatively simple, and their ruffly, frilly nature make them fairly forgiving for a beginner. These are perfect to add to the side or top of a cake. I`ll be using mine for accents on some pretty garrett frills I`m putting on a wedding cake in the future.


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Tutorial: Nap Time Blanket

18 Jun

I’m a napper. I believe that naps are the key to happiness, energy and immortality.  When I first started living with Luke he would suggest that I go to the bed to nap, instead of taking up the whole couch. I quickly set him straight; going to the bedroom would mean I was going to sleep, staying on the couch meant I was taking a nap. Yes even at 1 in the morning.

After being an eye witness to the awesomeness of my naps for a few years Luke started to pick up the habit himself. Unfortunately the one nap blanket we keep on the couch was very short. I’m 5 foot 2 and even I find that my toes become exposed if I’m not curled up just right. So after we set up my craft room (a birthday gift from Luke) and I no longer ran in fear at the sight of my sewing machine Luke asked if I could make him a nap time blanket.

So we picked up some fleece, which is the same material as my nap time blanket. I find it breathes in the heat and keeps you warm in the cold. I took a look at the original blanket and noticed that the corners are rounded. This spoke to my inner hatred of mitering of any kind (I had a traumatizing experience with trying to miter some baseboard trim) and decided to copy the detail.

Materials and Tools:

  • Fleece Fabric- 2 Yards (this was the perfect height and width, no cutting or scrap)
  • Quilt Binding or Double Fold Bias Tape- 9 Yards
  • Fabric for Lettering
  • Thread
  • Heat n Bond Iron on Adhesive
  • Scissors/Rotary Cutter and Mat
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron
  • Ironing Board
  • Pins

I love the word detail. I think I just might have to give the same treatment to the original nap blanket, maybe even add a Mr. and Mrs.

Ignore the paint on my hands in the pics, I’m in the middle of a couple of projects (arn’t we all). Oh and anyone who laughs at my consistently imperfect stitching gets their nap time rights revoked. As the Queen of Napping I can do that.

Here are the pattern for the words, all inversed and ready to go. Just for you, from me. Feeling the love?

It feels so good to have tackled a second session of sewing (ahahaha oh accidental alliteration). And I love that I can now say that this project is officially Off the List.


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Tutorial: Dollar Store Raffia Bowl

14 Jun

I love the Dollar Store, but really who doesn’t? But I know exactly why I love the Dollar Store.

Raffia.

Oh sure there are lots of other great craft supplies and random treasures that help fill my shopping basket, or two or three, but it’s the irresistible raffia that draws me back time and time again. The colours! The versitility! I could wax poetic about this string all day long.

Instead I’ll give you a tutorial on one of my favorite creations to craft this amazing raffia into.

Materials:

  • Balloons (round shaped)
  • 2 Colours of Raffia- you will need about 1/2 a roll for each 8 inch diameter bowl.
  • Glue or Modge Podge
  • A bowl to put the glue/modge podge in
  • Scissors
  • Something to protect your work surface- I use a piece of poster board
  • A very patient husband to take pictures while your hands are covered in goppyness

1. Blow up the balloon until it has a diameter of about 8 inches. Fill up the bowl with a good amount of glue/modge podge. You will be using alot of it. Smear a 2 inch wide strip of glue starting about 1/4 of the way down the balloon.

2. Unwind 8-10 inches of raffia at a time. Run it through the bowl and cover with glue, wipe off the excess with your fingers.

3. Start to wrap around your balloon, making sure the rows are tight together. Keep a hold of the balloon, it will roll away if you let go! Try and tidy up your rows as you go. Keep unwinding the raffia in 8-10 inch lengths and running it through the glue as you wind it around the balloon.

4. Continue with the first color of raffia until you have a band 2 inches wide or so. Cut off the string of raffia and unwind 8-10 inches of the second colour of raffia. Run the new raffia through the bowl of glue. Twist about 1 inch of each colour together, tuck the tail under the row above.

5. Continue with the second colour until you have a band about 3 inches wide. Change back to the first colour, twisting the ends together and tucking the tail in under the previous row. Continue with the first colour all the way around the balloon. The bottom can be a bit tricky, it helps it you hold down the rows with your fingers as you wind the next one.

6. Smear a generous layer of glue over all of the raffia. Lightly go over it with your finger to remove excess.

7. Tighten up the lines, try to make sure you get glue into any holes left between the rows.

8.  Use a wire hanger to create a hanging device. Poke one end of the hanger through the nipple of the balloon, wrap the middle of the hanger around a curtain rod and tack the other end to the ceiling.  Ignore the looks of disbelief your husband will cast your way.

9. Wait 6-8 hours, and the outside will have mostly dried. You will be able to tell because it will look clear instead of white. Take the bowl down.

10. Pull the balloon out. Sometimes you have to pop them, sometimes they will have started to deflate (like mine). Tidy up any extra bit of dried glue. You will be able to see that the inside is till wet.

11. The weight of the raffia will have pulled down the shape of the bowl. This works perfect for our project. Rest the bowl on a work surface and press down gently. Your aim is to flatten the bottom so that the bowl will sit nicely when dried. Leave it a few days to fully cure and then enjoy your gorgeous new bowl!

I use mine in my craft room as a little catch all. When I’m in the middle of a project I like to throw all of the stuff I’m using in one place and put it back into its proper home later. That way I don’t have to stop what I’m doing and loose my crafting mojo, plus if I need it again (which is usually likely to happen) it’s right at hand.

You can also use the same method to create a simple fun mobile. I made this one for my niece when she came to visit.

Blow up three balloons of different sizes. Cover the whole balloon with the raffia. To keep the shape dry these resting on their side on a garbage bag at first, be sure to turn every now and then to stop it from sticking. String together and secure to the ceiling.

Kimmy loved watching this above her crib. I keep it in my craft room now, it matches the colours and looks like a mini art piece.

Here’s another great project tutorial using Raffia to add colour and texture to a magnetic Dry-Erase board.

You’ll find tons of crafts to use the raffia in. It does just as well as a supporting character. I used in it my Party Favor Baskets to add a bit of colour and texture.

What is your favorite Dollar Store find? Do you love the raffia as much as I do? Can you think of any other great crafts to use it in?

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Tutorial: Puzzle Cookies for Canada Day

12 Jun

It was grey and rainy today. Not a very good day to continue working on my next garden project. So I was stuck in doors and decided it was time to execute a cookie idea I have been bouncing around for awhile.

To start with you need to make a batch of shortbread or sugar cookies.  I’m going to have to tell you a secret. When I was a kid and teenager I could not bake. Or cook actually. I was a disaster in the kitchen. I only started to really get it together in my late teens when I was determined to make cookies that would hold their shape and taste as good as they look.

To this day I swear by the recipe I pieced together from that journey to the perfect shortbread cookie. Here it is:

While the dough is chilling cut out templates for the puzzles. Here are the patterns I used to save you some time.

Lay a piece of wax paper or parchment paper down on your counter/ work surface. After your dough has finished chilling roll it out to about 1/8-1/4 inch thick, depending on how you like your cookies. Place each template on the dough and cut the shapes out carefully.

Place the cookies, on the wax paper, onto a cookie sheet and into the freezer for 5-10 minutes to chill.

Carefully peel off the excess dough around the cookies.

Take the wax paper, with the cookies, off the cookie sheet. Place a piece of parchment paper on it and flip the cookies onto the parchment paper. Make sure the side that was touching the wax paper is now the top (it will give the cookies a smoother finish).

If you feel that the cookies are soft place them in the fridge or freezer to chill. The cooler they are when you put them in the oven the more they will retain their shape. Bake according to directions.

Roll out fondant of your colour choice onto wax paper. Using the same template cut out the puzzle pieces. Flip them onto the cookies. Be sure to cut the template the same side up as you did the cookies and flip the fondant so that the side that was on the wax paper is now on the top. As long as the cookies are still warm the sugar in the fondant will melt and it will adhere itself to the cookies. If the cookies have cooled brush a bit of water onto the fondant before placing it on the cookies.

Repeat with the rest of your cookies.

How great would these be as Canada Day Party Favors? Or you could do them up for a child’s birthday.

Not a fondant fan? You can also do these in royal icing.

If you decide you like making these cookies enough you could always consider making actual cookie cutters of the puzzle shapes to save yourself time. I’ll be doing a tutorial on making your own custom cookie cutters in the future, be sure to check in often.

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Tutorial: Ice Cream Cookie Cups

5 Jun

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to transform a childhood favorite into a dinner party worthy dessert. I’m talking about Cookies and Cream for grown ups.

Start with your favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  Here’s my personal go-to recipe:

1. Instead of baking the cookies as normal, press the dough into a Mini Wonder Mold Pan or a ball pan. I picked mine up from Michael’s a while ago.  I was actually looking for a ball pan at the time and this was all they had. But one project’s trash is another project’s treasure. The shape is perfect for our Cookie Cups.

2. You want to get as thin a layer of cookie dough as possible. It will expand a lot when it bakes. Add a little extra dough to the bottom for reinforcement.

3. Bake them for 10 minutes at 325f. Take them out and press the dough against the sides of the pans with a spoon. Return to oven and bake 10 more minutes. The outside of the bowls should be golden brown. Turn the oven to broil, place the cups back in for a few minutes (watch closely) just until the inside of the cups start to turn golden. Remove from oven and cool.

4. Fill with ice cream and enjoy!

You can call it  a day there. Or, if you are really looking for a wow factor, you can go ahead and take it a step further.

I dipped the bottoms of mine in melted chocolate and hand painted on a couple of edible silver polka dots (I talk more about silver luster dust and other sugar tools here).  The little decorations on the top behind the berries are actually miniature chocolate chip cookies that I gave the same treatment to. It might have taken me an extra 10 minutes, but it added a whole lot to the presentation.

I can’t wait to try this with other types of dough.

Shortbread?

Filled with strawberries and whipped cream?…..

Update: Show & Tell: Strawberry Shortcake Cookie Cups includes tips to make your cookie cups look the best they can and a great (and easy) strawberry mouse recipe. Plus details on a give away for the mold to make these great desserts!

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Tutorial: Simple Eco-Friendly Favor Baskets

4 Jun

My niece is about to turn 2. In the past few months she’s started seeking out her independence. She can ask for things, she can sing her favorite song, and she can pull on her boots all by herself. On her first birthday she seemed to enjoy tearing the paper off her presents, and was definitely into gobbling up her mini sized smash cake. But this year her birthday is a little more about her and the person she is growing into.

Unfortunately she lives in another province and my husband and I can’t be there to celebrate with her like we were last year. So in order to contribute and feel like I am a part of the event I undertook some crafting to help with the party decor, hats and favors.

There are only a handful of kids invited. (Something that is recommended for a party oriented around that age), so these baskets were the perfect way to do up favors. The theme is Kimmy’s Birthday Picnic Party, and what’s a picnic without a cute little basket? Each basket will be filled with goodies (bubbles and chalk, etc) for each kid to take home and enjoy.

The best part is that the basket is part of the favor and can be reused in the child’s room or anywhere else in the house Mum and Dad see fit. Cute and eco-friendly? Perfect.

Basket Weaving 101

These are VERY simple baskets. The end result is impressive but you don’t need to worry about buying special tools or learning a textbook of jargon. There are only a few things we really need to take a look at.

Baskets can be woven out of a number of materials, the ones in this project are made of reed. It is a plant material that  lives on the forest floor and can grow up to 3 feet a day. Reed is processed into different shapes/types. For this project we only need to know about three:

This is what the profile of the reed looks like. The Flat reed is used for the Stakes and Rows, the Flat Oval reed is used for the Rim and Lashing and the Round reed is used for the Twine.


You can buy each kind of reed in different sizes. For the baskets we need 5/8” Flat Reed, 1/4″ Flat Reed, #3 Round Reed, 3/8″ Flat Oval Reed, and 11/64″ Flat Oval Reed.

I purchased mine online from basketweavingsupplies.com. Usually reed comes in 1 lb bunches (priced around $7.50).

Besides the 5/8″ Flat Reed, we don’t need anywhere near that much. Fortunately basketweavingsupplies.com also sells some of the reed in yards (at a price of $.10 to $.15).  It can help you save quite a bit, especially if you arn’t looking at doing other basket weaving projects.

Now that we have the basics under our belts, lets get started.

Materials:

For Each Basket You Will Need:

5/8″ Flat Reed

  • 12 pieces 14 inches long
  • 1 piece 4 feet long

#3 Round Reed

  • 1 piece 60 inches long

1/4 ” Flat Reed

  • 1 piece 20 inches long

3/8″ Flat Oval Reed

  • 2 pieces 25 inches long

11/64″ Flat Oval Reed

  • 1 piece 50 inches long

7/8” Ribbon

  • 1 piece 22 inches long

Raffia

  • 1 piece 22 inches long

Equipment

  • Clothes Pins or Paper Clamps
  • Strong Scissors or Wire Cutters
  • Ruler or Rotary Mat
  • Large Tub or Basket
  • Towel

Instructions:

1. Fill your tub/basket with water. Measure and Cut all pieces of Reed. Throw the Reed in the water to soak for 5 minutes. As you take the reed out of the water to use them, quickly wipe them on the towel to dry them off a bit.

2.  Look closely at the reed. There are two sides, one is fuzzy, the other is smooth. We want to make sure the smooth side is the outside of our basket.

3. Lay 6 pieces of reed down running vertically. Make sure the RIGHT (smooth) side is facing DOWN. Line them up so that they are square. Weave in one piece of reed horizontally through the middle of the vertical reeds. To weave place the reed under one vertical reed, then pull it over the next reed, pull it under the next reed, and continue. Under, Over, Under, Over

4. Add the remaining pieces of reed.

Weave them through the vertical pieces starting at the ends. Then wiggle them down/up towards the center.

5. Once all of the pieces of reed have been woven (these are now called Stakes), tighten everything up and try to square up the base. Make sure there is close to the same length of unwoven reed on each side.

6. Take the #3 Round Reed and bend it in approx. the middle. Slide it around a middle Stake.

7. Bring the left strand of the #3 Round reed behind the next Stake to the right. Bring the other end of the #3 Round reed (which is now on the left) behind the next Stake to the right.

8. Continue around the basket, turning the base as you go.

9. Tuck both ends into the starting loop.

10. Bend each Stake inwards, tight to the Twine.

11. Take the two Stakes in the corner and clamp together using Clothes Pins or Paper Clamps. Repeat with the other three corners.

12. Using the 5/8” Flat Reed start to weave the Rows. Begin the bottom row 3/4” covering and outside Stake. Make sure you weave opposite to the pattern on the bottom. When you come to a corner remove the clamp, weave the reed in, and then put the clamp back on. Bend the reed slightly at corners to help give the basket shape.

13. When you come to the end measure the reed so that it will overlap the starting point and can be tucked 3/4 behind the next Stake.

14. Repeat again with the second Row. Start and stop on the opposite side of the basket as you did with the first row. If you find the reed moves too much, clamp the starting point as well. When the second row is in place straighten the reed up, pulling the rows down to tightly butt up against the base.

15. Cut the piece of ribbon and copying the weaving of the second row, insert it into the basket. It will sit on top of the reed of the second row.

16. Weave the 1/4″ Flat Reed around in the same method as the 5/8″ Flat reed.  Tidy up the rows and tighten up the reed. Cut each Stake that is inside flush with the 1/4″ Flat  reed row (also known as the Rim Row). For each Stake that is on the outside of the basket fold it and tuck it into the first Row of reed.


17. Clamp one end of 3/8″ Flat Oval to the inside of the basket, overlapping about half of  the 1/4″ Flat Rim Row. Make sure the rounded side is facing outwards. Bend around the basket, overlap the start by 1″ and clamp together. Do the same with the other piece of 3/8″ Flat Oval on the outside of the basket, again with the rounded side of the reed facing outwards.

18. Place the piece of Raffia between the two pieces of 3/8″ Flat Oval, covering the ends of the Stakes. Overlap the Raffia about 1″

19. Tuck one end of the 11/64″ Flat Oval under the rim row, flat side out. Pull the 11/64″ Flat Oval up two inches between the two pieces of 3/8″ Flat Oval. Push the 11/64″ Flat Oval back down between the 2 pieces of 3/8″ Flat Oval and pull out on the inside of the basket.

20. Lash around the basket, pulling the  11/64″ Flat Oval through the spaces between the top Row and Stakes into the basket, and then back out through the space between the next top Row and Stake. Push the end piece up through the middle of the 3/8″ Flat Oval and back down, the same as in the start.

21. Trim up any long pieces of reed from the Twin and Lashing

Your basket is finished!

Make a coordinating Bunting Banner and some Party Hats and you have a whole party package.

I had the banner and hats done and off the list a few weeks ago. I followed instructions from a couple of other bloggers for the most part and added a few twists of my own.

There are a ton of tutorials out there for these, but if you are interested in the specific one I used leave a comment and I’ll put together a little post about them. (I’ve now added a post about these: Show & Tell: Birthday Bunting Banner and Party Hats)

I had to wait for the basket making supplies to come in (there was a mix up with my order) and almost didn’t get these done in time! Thankfully they are now officially Off the List and on their way to my sister’s.

While I was making these I had a few ideas float into my head for gifts I could do.

You could stain the baskets a rich chocolate brown and make a custom lining with an elegant stenciled monograms. What an amazing Christmas gift that would make for my Mother-in-Law.

Is there anyone on your Christmas list that you know would love getting a handmade basket set? It’s never too early to start thinking Joel Noel. Or is that just me?

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