Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Let’s Wrap This Up: Eco Friendly Gift Wrapping and Etsy Finds

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Inspired by Karen’s Christmas pledge over at The Art of Doing Stuff I am trying my hardest to stay ahead of the holiday madness and not over commit myself this year. She’s pledged to be done (DONE!) her christmas preparations by December 4th so she’s free to enjoy the holidays.

I’m inspired, but as the earliest we can put up our tree is the 12th, we’re doing it a little differently.

Around here the promise is to not leave things to the last minute along with not starting any new projects this year. We’re ploughing through the list and nothing anyone can say will entice me to host anymore meetings, make anymore crafts, or host anymore dinner parties than I’m already committed too. Sorry but this doesn’t mean I’ll finish my Christmas cards on time, it means I’m simply not sending them.  Also, we’ll be breaking tradition with no Christmas renovations.

So, on that note today we starting wrapping and wrapping might be my favourite part of Christmas.

Wrapping is serious business round these parts.  It typically involves folding bones and guillotines.

After coming across a really nice download for these little birds from Lisa Rupp over on thatshappy I printed some off on the kraft paper all the Cubit’s seed packsare made of and we were off!

Some cutting resulted in a nice pile of kraft paper birds that was mounted on black mi-tients paper (I’m a total paper nerd if you don’t know that already). All our supplies came from the local Danforth location of Deserres Art Supplieswhere I worked for a few years in my former life of working with/for other people.

Then some more cutting and voila! Bird tags.  Nice black backs to write on with a white pencil crayon. Preferably the omnicrom water soluble ones, but I’m also a pencil nerd so feel free to ignore me.

Our shopping this year has been pretty enjoyable.  We’ve been able to do a ton of it on etsy and some coworkers from another gig in my former life have opened a fabulous toy storejust down the street from us and right beside the art supply store.  This could be dangerous.

All the little girls on our list are getting skirts that were handmade in Alaska by Bohdi Handmade along with the some critters from Tracey and Shamie’s great new Danforth toy shop Silly Goose Kids.

I love how so many etsy purchases come wrapped so beautifully.  This is Rebecca’s new apron from local etsy seller BirdbyJill and something special from Leah Duncan. Almost seems a shame to wrap them.

Good bubbles are important (also from Silly Goose Kids).

Here’s some of the Good Earth’s Good Jam all ready to wrap along with some nice tea and Leah Duncan’s gorgeous designs.
Combined with oodles of rick rack and a stack of washi tape (also from Deserres) I’m pretty pleased with it all. Cute and environmental friendly what with the 100% recycled paper, reusable cotton rick rack, paper tape and reused bags.
That’s that’s a wrap.  I’ve wrapped quite a bit and am almost feeling on top of it.  Now to host that one last party, meeting, pack these orders and finish the renovations so I can show you my pimp that preserve entry and get on with Christmas.

DIY Felted Wool Balls for Busy Toddlers

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Let me start by saying that my family has a slight wool addiction.  We all have thick wool blankets, there’s a pile of wool coats in the porch, we suggest wool CSA’s from Stoddart farms as Christmas gifts, Rebecca has an outstanding assortment of hand knitted hats and wore wool diaper covers in her babyhood.  My mother is actually a famous rug hooker, having even won the Stanley cup of rug hooking. No really.

So when I feel crafty it tends to involve mounds of roving. Last christmas I made these great felt balls for the gazillion babies in my life.  I shared a photo of them in my christmas gift round up and promised a tutorial and then, well, life happened.

Another holiday season is fast approaching and we were recently invited to participate in a “Toddler Busy Bag Swap” by our overly ambitious friend Alanna.  She was inspired by this great post over on The Rigneys and has roped 9 toddler wrangling mamas into making 9 copies of an activity to swap with each other.

It’s going to be fun! Glittery dough, little bags to fill, matching games and puzzles are all in the works.  I have felted a million or so little indoor friendly balls to sort and toss all winter. As overwhelming as this time of year is, this was actually pretty painless.

First you’ll need some balls or a form or some sort to start with.  You can start with yarn left overs or we used tennis balls last year and little cat jingle balls this year.  8 in a pack from the dollar store.

Next ask your rug hooking mother or your knitting and crocheting friends for their scraps of wool.  We’re going to make a base layer of wool to stick the roving to.  Wrap you ball with the yarn tightly. Watch out for kittens.

Ready for the first round of felting? Take all your little balls and toss them in an old pair of panty hose or tights.  You want to stretch them tight and tie them into place with more of that scrap yarn. 

Toss them in the wash on hot.  Soak them first if you have an HE machine, the more water the better. You can toss them in with a load of laundry at this point. Don’t bother with the dryer, it makes them all lopsided.

After the wash, the felting will have started.  Carefully cut all the little separating threads and have your toddler pull all the felted balls out of the tights. You should now have sturdy little felted yarn balls.

Now the real fun begins!

You’ll need Roving.  Piles of fluffy unspun wool.  I buy mine on etsy where there are lots of shops selling directly from their own sheep farms along with fibre artists dyeing beautiful colourways.

 Pull and stretch it out with your hands.

Then start wrapping and stretching it around your felted yarn balls.  I like to build up thinner layers and mix the colours a bit.  I do a layer and then put it back into the tied off stockings in the wash.  One layer a night for a few nights with the day’s laundry. I do the last polishing round in the washer without anything else as certain things can cause pilling and I’ve never figured out what so I do the last round alone just to be safe.

Before you know it you have a wonderful pile of simple fun for the little people in your life.

This year we’re keeping them simple for good matching and colour sorting fun. 

Last year we had a really good time doing appliqués with bits of old sweaters.  We sewed them on and them felted them one last time.  They’re holding up really well.  We play with these constantly.

We’re headed to the swap this weekend and I hope they are as big of a hit with the other toddlers as they are around here.

Make Your Own Organic Cranberry Sauce {Enough for both Canadian Thanksgiving and Christmas}

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

I had a lovely evening out last week with my friend Shana.  We went out on the town to a canning class put on by Bernardin in a local church kitchen. Although we’re both becoming rather seasoned canners it’s nice: 

1. To have a nice community event to go to.
2. We kind of like hanging out in church basements.
3. We need to start having real answers when we get asked questions about canning instead of having to admit to some of our bad practices and mishaps (see here, and here for details).

One of the recipes shared by Chef Emerie was for Spiced Cranberry Preserves.  The process is the same as this recipe for cranberry sauce off the rather useful home canning website.  The only difference is that this method uses 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon so no need for cheese cloth. I actually used a 1/4 teaspoon of each. There’s also a good recipe for straight up cranberry sauce which is basically just a larger amount without the spices.  

This is so simple.  Thanksgiving and Christmas Cranberries are essentially just jam so you really can’t go wrong. 

The high pectin content of cranberries really makes this simple though; 10 minutes and you’re set.  Get it? Set?  That’s a jam joke. Really though, I had completely finished this project in one toddler nap and even had time to call my dad and a clean kitchen when she woke up.

I made this recipe twice; once with the spices and one without.  I think they are equally delicious but we’ll be putting them to a taste test on Sunday at Thanksgiving dinner.

So the recipe is: 

4 cups of fresh cranberries {but frozen would work fine too}
1 1/2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon {optional}
1/4 teaspoon of cloves {optional}

makes 4x 250ml jars

Our version is entirely organic. The Big Carrot and Better Bulk {both on the Danforth in Toronto} have  awesome organic spice sections and it is getting easier and easier to find organic ingredients at the grocery store.

I wish I could have found Ontario Cranberries today as they certainly grow pretty close to home, but it seems there are only three commercial cranberry producers in Ontario. The store had frozen and organic from BC, Some from Maine, and then the f
resh organic Quebec ones I ended up choosing. I’m going to keep my eye out at the farmer’s market this weekend as I have a few more cranberry recipes I need to make and the foodies & farmers of twitter tell me there are smaller scale cranberry growers to look for.

Let’s can some cranberries while there’s still enough time to do this for Thanksgiving dinner this weekend:

Prepare your jars and lids by washing and bringing your jars to a boil and in a separate pot bringing your lids to a simmer.

In your best non-reactive pot, combine all your ingredients over medium heat.

Cook for 10 minutes or so.  You’ll see / hear the cranberries burst / split / explode. Here’s a photo of them splitting. They really pop.

I then squished a few up with the back of my spoon just to mix things up a little.

Quickly jar up the preserves with a 1/4inch head room, wipe the rims, put on your warm lids, screw finger tight and then heat process for 10 minutes.  That’s it! You’re done and the star of Thanksgiving dinner with some extra to bring again at Christmas; Ensuring that you remain your parent’s favourite daughter.

All kidding aside, I’m really pleased with how these turned out and would recommend making some both to the seasoned canner and the tenderfoot who is looking for an easy to make preserve that will certainly be well received.

If you would like detailed step by step canning instructions just check out  I really couldn’t lay it out any better and there are even instructional videos.

Wordless Wednesday: Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Merry Christmas!
So thankful to have such a clever little lady and such talented friends to take her picture.  Thanks to Nico Oved for the photographs and to paperdollaccesories for the barrette.