new years eve diy

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So today I found this adorable DIY on the Mom’s Best Network and thought I’d share for a great last minute hostess gift idea for tonight! I think hostess gifts are such a great way to thank the people that open their home for celebrations and this project seemed like a quick and inexpensive gift that would still be the perfect festive touch for new years!

A lot of stores stay open on New Years Eve so you can find these simple white mugs at stores like Dollarama, any Loblaws or Superstore, or even a Canadian Tire, where you can find inexpensive four packs that make a great set.

DIY Mug For a Stylish New Year’s Party!

Materials:

  • Mugs
  • Black Sharpie Marker
  • Template
  • Graphite pencil

Step One: Download the template here from Mom’s Best Network here, or use one of ours here (right click and open in a new tab for best results when downloading the templates!).

Cut out the template you want and use your pencil to rub graphite all over the back of the template.

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Step Two: Tape the template design side up on the mug. Use your pencil to trace the letters of the design. Press hard so that the graphite on the back will transfer to the mug. Gently remove the template. There should be a faint outline of graphite on the design letters.

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Step Three: Use your Sharpie to trace the faint outline left behind the template. Let the Sharpie dry completely and then use an eraser to clean up any graphite smudges.

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And voila, you have the perfect little hostess gift. I’ve done this DIY a couple times for various gift ideas, and so I would add a fourth step.

Step Four (The Party Girl Step): If you don’t do this step, chances are your mug might not be dishwasher safe. Since a lot of people use their dishwashers for breakfast clean up, you might want to go the extra mile. I would recommend once the marker dries you pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 425 degrees F. You should put the mug in the oven first and then turn the oven on and set the timer. If your oven takes a long time to heat up, you might want to wait until the oven hits temperature and then set your timer. Check on your mug to make sure it isn’t browning (or worse, I had an issue with a mug I was sure was ceramic…it wasn’t!) and after 30 minutes turn off the oven. Leave your mug in until everything cools off, that way your gift won’t crack!

Make a set of four and lay them in a bakery box with some pretty tissue paper and tie with a big satin bow in black or gold for the perfect New Years gift!

the forgotten ones

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There is a particular Christmas tradition that I’m not terribly proud of that I reluctantly (and privately!) call the Forgotten Ones. It’s this horrible name for an equally horrible tradition of forgetting one or two people on my shopping list. These people are almost always people who I don’t usually see until after the holidays but I always mean to put something aside for them. It’s usually Christmas Eve (and here we are again, proving that correct!) when I realize I forgot to grab something for them. The good news: I have another week. The bad news: weirdly, after Christmas everything in store seems tacky and cheap. I hate getting Christmas themed gifts for people after Christmas because it feels like they can’t use them. But generally the Forgotten Ones are people you wouldn’t normally buy a “practical” gift for (meaning you have no idea what they would actually want for Christmas) so Christmas themed gifts are like the safe bet. This dilemma has haunted me for years.

That’s why when I was spending my Christmas Eve browsing some of my favourite blogs and came across this amazing tutorial on This Heart of Mine I realized it was the perfect project for a week off, and the perfect gift idea!

Car & Tree Ornament DIY from This Heart of Mine Blog

My favourite thing about this DIY is how the little car with a tree tied on top reminded me of years of December hunts through tree farms for the perfect Christmas tree with my family. We would always pile into all our vehicles and leave with no less than two or three trees, and often some stray branches that my grandma insisted would become wreaths (but which, as my grandfather would protest each year, would sit in the garage until they dried out and were thrown out around May). Gifts that bring back little memories are always perfect.

So first step, what materials do we need? Like all good DIYs, this one only needs a few, easy to find tools!

Materials:

  • toy car
  • tiny tree
  • small screw eye
  • drill with small bit
  • twine
  • ornament hook

You can find all of these things (maybe not the drill, depending on your craft store!) at a local Michaels or something similar. Depending on your family car you might want to customize it and find a Hot Wheels toy at the toy store that looks like what you drive (if you’re making it for yourself) or go for something vintage and cute if you’re giving it as a gift!

First step, use your drill to attach the screw eye into the top of the car.

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P.S. – This is a screw eye, in case you weren’t sure 🙂

Next, use the twine to attach the tree to the roof of the car. The branches will disguise the hook so you won’t even know it’s there!

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Once you attach your hook it’ll be perfect for hanging on the tree! If you’re giving it as a gift, pick up one of those ornament hooks that aren’t “hooks” (like the pretty plastic spirals) and you can pre attach it and give the gift ready to pack away for next Christmas, without worrying about drawing blood 🙂

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I love the idea of giving christmas tree ornaments as gifts. My parents always gave my brother and I a new Christmas ornament each Christmas that we would pack up and use on the tree the next Christmas. When we grew up and moved out, my mom gave us all of the ornaments we’d collected over the year. My first Christmas in my own place I decorated a tiny Christmas tree (it was actually a mini tree for outdoor, but I counted it) in my dorm room with all these little ornaments and it felt just like home. Now that I’m a little older I’ve managed to move up in the world and purchase a full size grown up tree and some matching (woah!) ornaments, and every year I decorate my tree with my gorgeous coordinated silver and pink ornament balls and mix in all my childhood ornaments that are absolutely ridiculous. It was a really wonderful tradition that I appreciate so much more now that I reap the benefits of all those fun memories every Christmas.

I think this is the perfect gift for someone making their own traditions, like moving into a new home, starting a family, or leaving home for the first time!

Merry Christmas!

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christmas cupcakes

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Every year my mom’s family has a Christmas potluck. There are so many of us and a lot of my cousins have started their own families and so Christmas on Christmas Day just never seems to work out for us. The potluck is a great way to get together, eat a ton of food, and catch up, generally a couple days before the holiday. This year the potluck was supposed to be today but for any southern Ontario dwellers you are aware some sort of freak snow catastrophe hit over night and now nobody can get out of their neighbourhood, never mind travel to the suburbs SO I have a couple dozen cupcakes (my contribution) just lying around my kitchen. Still, I thought I’d share my 2013 addition to the family table!

I usually end up bringing something creative and not critical to the “meal” portion of Christmas. Not to say I’m afraid of the responsibility but…well….

Last year I brought cookies but I baked about seven dozen sugar cookies last week for various holiday parties and a cookie exchange party (more on that later) so I decided I’d probably cry if I had to go again with those. Cupcakes is a fun alternative because they are way easier (with the right tools) and still really fun. 

I decided I wanted to make mini Christmas tree cupcakes, so I hit up Bulk Barn for supplies. I hunted up some red and green sprinkles (not the sugar kind but legitimate sprinkles to look like decorations) and tiny silver balls. Some Bulk Barn’s have the buttercream icing powder that you can toss in your mixer with some flavouring/colouring and water, but this one didn’t carry that. However if you go into their prepared food section (like the soup and peanut butter section, probably the one place most people don’t actually go in Bulk Barn) they sometimes have some already prepared buttercream, which I lucked out and found at my neighbourhood store. 

I also picked up some great gold star cupcake toppers for $1 at Target, and some adorable cupcake papers for about $3 (for 24) there as well. I have an icing gun I found on clearance at Target last week for about $10 and I swear it was the greatest thing ever.

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Side note: Target (yes I am obsessed with Target) has this cookie decorating set for about $30 that I am actually dreaming about. It’s amazing.

Anyways, so once the cupcakes were cool (I’m not going to lie it was 10:30pm I made them out of a box – $.99 at Food Basics this week guys!) I mixed up the buttercream with some green Wilson icing dye. If you use the Wilson dyes you should probably aim for the Kelly Green colour. I tried the Forest Green and it was way too dark, it took me forever to lighten it to a normal Christmas tree colour!

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I piped the icing in a spiral on top of the cupcake. I tried to aim for about three circles, each one smaller than the one before, like a snowman but with my star tip and some heavy guidance to shape the tree. If you pull up on the gun at the top of the cupcake you can make a great tree top!

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It actually took a little practice to get these little silver sprinkles to stick. I had to develop a “tossing” technique where I just sort of aimed and hoped they’d stick! Placing a cookie sheet under my cooling rack was definitely a wise mess-saver idea!

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You should decorate as you go, especially with buttercream, because the icing will harden and its harder to get things like sprinkles to stick to them. So I would ice one, then sprinkle the decorations on it, then move on to the next. The star toppers were the perfect finale! I wanted to share because I loved the way they turned out and it cost me less than $10 and about and hour of my time, including baking AND decorating! You could even snag some cute packaging boxes from the dollar store and give them as little gifts!

And voila!

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hope everybody has a wonderful & happy holiday, and best wishes for an exciting & brave 2014!

 

love, the party girl.

 

redecorating

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So even though we moved into our Toronto apartment in May it’s been slow going as far as decorating is considered. I managed to fight for the living room to get basically finished (minus details that have to wait until we win a lottery or at least can buy name brand flour) but the bedroom has been pretty low on the priority list.

This past Sunday was the first day when I wasn’t working and we didn’t have any obligations to get to. It’s been such a busy summer with family dinners and birthday parties that we haven’t really had a day just to ourselves at home. Of course I seized that opportunity to put Justin to work.

He’d been pretty against putting up more pictures (I’m a big fan of frame collages, so you can imagine how many he’s already put up in the living room/entry way alone) since all the walls in this apartment are concrete. It’s pretty tiring work to get through it.

We set aside Sunday to get the bedroom more or less finished. Of course in the way of the decorating powers that be, it turned out that after the months of waiting to find a day where we could devote the time necessary to drill through concrete, the wall I wanted the pictures on in the bedroom was the only wall NOT made of concrete.

The whole thing took 10 minutes.

This is one of the posts we moved over from our laceandloveletters blog and I received a few questions about where I sourced all these frames from. I never got around to explaining on the old blog and this is the last post to come over I think so I figured it was as good a time as any!

How To: Make Your Own Collage Wall 

Some tips on where you can find frames and DIY projects that will make your space shine!

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1. The big picture hanging in the middle as the anchor for the collage is a gorgeous fairytale-esque print I’ve had since I was little. I don’t actually know where it’s from but its called Amara’s Playground by Martha Shultz. 

2. These three pictures as well as the three on the right side of the anchor (number 6) were found at a thrift store. My roommate in university and I spent about $10 on a whole box of random frames that we collaged in our shared bedroom and then just picked our favourites when we moved out. I’ve lugged these frames from place to place about three moves since then, but I just love them. A couple of them I framed some old tissue paper or scrapbook paper I had lying around, and some I just left empty because I thought it looked romantic. 

3. This little one is actually so precious to me because one of my friends made it in art school. It’s hard to tell from the picture but its a canvas covered in a sheet of music from a love song with an image of a couple paper mached and lace overtop. It’s so sweet I love it. 

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4. This is actually a DIY I keep meaning to post but forget all the time. It’s an old window that I sanded and painted and turned into a necklace holder. The necklaces hang from some drawer pulls that I found by a really talented artist on Etsy. I promise I’ll get to that DIY soon!

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5. This gorgeous print is a really simple drawing of a girl sitting on some rocks in the water. It’s done in a cartoon style but it’s actually beautiful. My boss from my first serious summer job bought it for me as a going away present because it was done by a local artist and was in our gift shop and I just craved it all summer long. It’s framed in this really classic rough frame that for some reason I am obsessed with. It’s one of the nicest things I own and has some really special memories from that summer so I love being able to use it here. 

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6. These frames are a few more from that fateful thrift store box. It’s nice to have these little frames lying around and every time I see them I’m reminded of decorating our university bedroom together which is a fun sentiment to have hanging around.

Our bedroom here gets a lot of natural light which our old apartment in Ottawa wasn’t as fortunate to get (probably due to being about 20 floors higher in Toronto than we were in Ottawa; less buildings to block the light) and the walls are painted this soft mauve colour. Justin is the best ever and let me keep my floral university duvet so now I think the bedroom looks so soft and romantic. Plus we scored this amazing queen sized wood sleigh bed my parents were getting rid of and it looks so gorgeous in here. It’s definitely one of my favourite rooms in the apartment!

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featured diy: gold leaf paper mache bowls

www.kelliemurray.com

With the holidays approaching there are so many DIY projects that make great gifts or decor options for hosting your holiday party. This gold leaf bowl DIY from kelliemurray.com is one of those examples. It’s gorgeous and super easy, and would make a beautiful gift or could be used on your holiday table!

Gold Leaf Paper Mache Bowls

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ImageFrom here you can paint your bowl any colour you want! For these ones, sticker dots were placed around the bowl and it was painted completely white. After the next step you could still see the stickers through the gold leaf, and removing them left white polka dots! How adorable is that? 

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And voila!

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For full DIY instructions go here!

Hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did! I’m seriously thinking about making a whole set of these and giving them as gifts for holding jewellery and keys at the front door. You could even make a really big one and put some ornaments inside for a table decor idea! I think I might try gold leaf with a regular bowl and see if you can master making your own (waterproof and thus food proof!) dish sets. I’ll have to keep you updated 🙂 

Happy holidays! Stay tuned for our gift guide coming up in a couple weeks, just in time for those last minute shoppers and don’t forget to submit your party ideas and crafts!

P.S-If you’ve never ventured into a craft store before, Michaels and DeSerres both have gold leaf and gold leaf adhesive available for a really reasonable price (I want to say you could get both for like $10 but don’t hold me to that). You’ll need both for the gold leaf portion of this DIY, so if you were wondering where to score those ingredients those are some for sure options. Any local craft store will likely have those products in stock though. You can call ahead if you aren’t sure and ask!