Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 Projects of Christmas: Chalkboard Wine Glasses

One of my favorite things to do over the holidays is sit and share a glass of good wine with friends! But if you're like us, at some point you all put your glasses down and a few minutes later have that moment of "wait--whose glass belongs to who?!" Wine charms are cute, but I wanted something fun and different. I've seen the idea on Pinterest, and I decided that this would be a great addition to any Holiday party or even make a great gift!

Look at how fun these are!  Guests can write their names on their own glasses, and I like the look of the matte black paint against the glass.

These are SO easy to make, too!!

Grab your materials:

A 4-pack of wine glasses
Paint brush
Chalkboard paint
Chalk (not pictured)


Start by painting a layer of chalkboard paint around the bottom of each glass.  You'll want to let it set for 1 hour, then paint a second layer and let it dry 1 hour.  Hold the bottom of the wine glass up to the light and see if you can see any light through it.  If you can, add another layer of paint.  Once you've added enough layers of paint, let the paint cure for 24 hours.

Once it's cured, scribble some chalk over the chalk paint...

...and then wipe it off.  This sets the paint up and makes it ready to be used repeatedly.

Then go for it!  Pass your glasses out to your guests, give them a piece of chalk (I used white, but how fun would it be to use multi-colored chalk?!), and let the festivities begin!

Like I said, a fun addition to you Christmas or New Year's party, or a great gift for anyone!

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xoxo, Melissa

12 Projects of Christmas: Window Decoration

I love to decorate for Christmas. I love the colors, the lights, and all the beautiful ways you can dress up your home! We do our house in mostly red and gold, which you can see in our tree:

Normally, we just hang garland and lights in the windows, but this year I wanted something a little more.  I'd had an idea for this for a while, but the 12 Projects of Christmas finally gave me a reason to sit down and make it.  I have to say, it turned out beautifully (the picture doesn't do it justice--it looks so beautiful at night with the lights around it!) and I'm loving the look of it.

First, lets get our materials:

2 styles of Christmas balls
1 1/2" thick wired ribbon
Hot glue gun (not pictured)
Scissors (not pictured)

You're also going to need a window.  Here's mine!

I love the garland and lights, but I felt like it needed something else.

Start by determining how many pieces or ribbon you would want to hang across the window.  I decided 5 was a good number.  I didn't want them all hanging the same length, so I cut each one a little shorter than the last.

Then I arranged them so they varied a little--didn't want them hanging all in order!  Gotta mix it up a little! :)

Then, I laid out the Christmas balls.  See how the ribbon lengths and ball styles are varied?

Now it's time to make the bows!

Cut 5 pieces of ribbon about 12 inches long each.  Then cut 5 more pieces of ribbon about 3 inches long each.

Take one of the 12-inch ribbons and fold it into thirds.  You want it to look like an untied bow (see my pic)

Next, take one of the 3-inch ribbons and wrap it around the middle of the folded 12-inch ribbon.

Twist the 3-inch ribbon ends around the back of the folded 12-inch ribbon so it creates a bow shape with the tied part in the back.  Fluff your bow up a bit, until it looks how you want.  

Then, thread the ends of the 3-inch ribbon through the look on the ball and twist to secure it.  Turn it around and play with the ribbon until it looks how you want it to.  This is exactly why you need wired ribbon.

Use the hot glue gun to attach one ball to the end of each ribbon strip.
Here are mine!  Don't they look lovely!  :)

Cut a long piece of ribbon that will span the length of your window with a couple inches extra on each side.  Lay it out across the top of your ribbon strips and space out your ribbon strips so they are all equally spaced across the long ribbon.  The long ribbon is what will hang with the garland across the top of the window.  Use the hot glue gun to attach the non-ball end of the ribbons to the window-length ribbon.

Once it's completely set, you can hang it up across your window with the garland!

I love the look that this adds to the window--whimsical and fun, yet classic!

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xoxo, Melissa

12 Projects of Christmas: Typography Canvas

A couple weeks ago, my friend Krissy asked me to make a giant canvas for her boyfriend's Christmas present.  She had seen another typography project that I made earlier this year and fell in love with it, but wanted something bigger for her boyfriend's new apartment.

I'm not going to lie, I didn't take too many pictures of this one because my camera wasn't working right and wouldn't focus for most of the pics I tried to take.  But here's what I did get:

The first step of making a canvas this large is to create your typography on the computer.  I used Picnik to create mine because I love all the different fonts it offers and it's easy to set it up how you like.

Once I had the layout how I liked, I used a projector hooked up to a computer (thank goodness for technology at the school I work at!) to project the image onto the canvas and traced it with a pencil.  If you don't have a projector to use, you can try to freehand it.  I was using a canvas that was 30" x 40" so freehanding it would have been hard---it would be easier to freehand using a smaller canvas, though.

I then used a medium blue acrylic paint to paint in the words over the pencil.

Again, I apologize for not having more pictures, but for whatever reason I could not get my camera to focus at all :(

Here's the finished product!  You can see Krissy's hand in the picture-we had to take this outside at night, and my camera (for whatever reason) finally decided to work right!  So frustrating, but I'm so glad I got a picture of the finished product!

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xoxo, Melissa

12 Projects of Christmas: Guinness Cupcakes

This was definitely not a project I was planning to make, but it falls under the gift category so I decided to post it.  Plus, it had rave reviews from JP, so I thought it would be great to share!

My "brother" JP is proudly Irish, and LOVES anything to do with his heritage, especially the beers.  His favorite beer?  Guinness.  Now personally, I think Guinness is awful---it's thick and dry and the flavor is terrible.  But JP loves it so much, so as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to make these for him.  I tweaked the recipe a little to make it work for his taste, and I have to say these did turn out really good!  Even for not liking Guinness, the flavor that it adds to the chocolate cupcake is wonderful!

So here we go:

Grab your ingredients!

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup Guinness stout
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream  
1/2 cup unsalted butter
cups powdered sugar
1 pinch table salt
3 tablespoons Bailey's (we used the coffee flavor)
1 tablespoon milk

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the butter, Guinness, cocoa powder, and brown sugar until the butter has melted and it's all smooth.  Make sure to whisk often because you don't want it to boil or burn.  The bubbles you see in the picture is actually the foam from the beer--the foam will cook down, don't worry.  Once it's all smooth, let it cool until it's room temp or a little warmer.

Now, in a bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.

Add the Guinness mix to the bowl and mix until well combined.  Add the eggs and sour cream, and mix again.

Pour into your cupcake pan (make sure to use liners or grease the tin very well!) Bake at 325 degrees for 24 minutes, then let cool completely before frosting!

Here's the frosting recipe (ingredients are listed above)

Make sure you start with butter that's softened to room temp or else this will be very hard!  Cream the butter with a hand/stand mixer, then add the powdered sugar about 1/4 cup at a time (maybe even a little less than that--you be the judge) until you've added 2 cups total.  Add the milk and Bailey's, mix, and then continue to add the powdered sugar until the frosting is the consistency you want.  If you add too much powdered sugar, go ahead and add a little more milk.  Be careful adding too much Bailey's, because the frosting is very sweet so too much Bailey's can make it a little overpowering. 

So I gotta say, even though I don't like Guinness, these cupcakes are addictive and delicious!  I sprinkled with a little sanding sugar for decoration (not that JP actually cares about how they look, just how they taste! lol)

These would make a great gift for a guy in the family, or as a fun twist on Holiday treats at the family gathering ;)

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xoxo, Melissa


Okay, clearly I have fallen WAY behind on the 12 Projects of Christmas posting.  It has been hectic around our house:  our best friend is staying with us while he's on leave from the Army, I got a new position at work, and general craziness with Christmas only a few days away!  I am deeply sorry that I've fallen so far behind!  :(

That being said, the next few posts today will all be projects for Christmas.  I'm still waiting to complete 2 of them because they are homemade food gifts and I want to wait until Friday (the day before we go home and give our gift baskets to family) to make them so they are fresh.

Sorry again these are soooo late!
Merry Christmas!

xoxo, Melissa

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Look Back

I can't believe it's almost New Years. It's insane to me--where did this year go? I feel like it was just a couple months ago that I was finishing the school year in Toledo, witnessing the birth of my nephew, and starting to plan our wedding. 2011 has been a crazy year for us full of ups and downs, and in the end we are coming out of it on top and in a much better place than where we started it. God has blessed us abundantly this past year, and I'm praying that those blessings keep coming as we move into next year.

2012 is about to be a CRAZY year for us! With H leaving in March for basic training and beginning his military career, I have to learn early on in 2012 how to handle being by myself and not being able to see/talk to him every day. In June, I finish up an amazing year at the Montessori school (I am ridiculously sad to think about not being there next year, because it is probably the most incredible school/environment I've ever been in) and move back in with my parents on the other side of the state, where I will be for about 5 months until I get PCS orders to move to H's base. In October/November when I get those orders, I will be picking up my entire life and moving out of Ohio for the first time in my life--away from everything I know to start my new life as an Army wife. We'll finish out next year with out wedding ceremony/celebration and reception over the holidays, so at least we can guarantee we'll be coming back home for the holidays. And in between all of these big adventures, there will be a million little adventures that pop up through the year to keep me busy---none of this even includes all of the adventures and excitement that H will experience on his new Army journey! How do I even prepare myself for the crazy year we're about to have?

I'm praying and trusting God to get us through the separations and the hard times, to shower us with blessings, and to give us a million reasons to celebrate this coming year! I know He's got big plans for us, and I can't wait to see where He leads us next :)

On a side note, happy 11 month birthday to my nephew!  I can't believe it's been almost a year since I was there to see your birth and hold your tiny little body in my arms!  Your uncle and I love you so much!!

I hope you have a chance to sit down in the next couple weeks and really take a good look at what God has blessed you with this past year, and to allow Him the opportunity to take charge of your life's path in 2012.  But before we head into the New Year, let's enjoy Christmas surrounded by those we love!!  :)  Goodness I love the holidays so much!

xoxo, Melissa

Sunday, December 11, 2011

12 Projects of Christmas: Vintage Button Bracelet

Okay, so as promised here is my second project of the day.  I must have been on a button kick this week because both of my projects involved them!  Wanna see the other one?  Check out my Button Tree Pillowcase (no sewing involved).

I got inspired to make this after seeing a gorgeous version of this at Anthropology, but it was sooo pricey!  I immediately realized that I could probably make it myself and that it would be a great gift for any of my girlfriends.  You can make it with any kinds/sizes/colors of buttons and make the width of the band to your own liking, but I chose to keep the colors/size as close to the Anthro one as I could because I really liked the look of it.

Start with our materials:

1/8 yard material (or any scrap material you have leftover from another project)
2 metal snap sets
Various buttons of your choice (I went with antique-looking white and gem colored ones)
Hot glue gun and glue
Iron and ironing board
Matching thread and needle

You want to figure out how big to make your bracelet, which I did by eyeballing the material against my own wrist.  Make sure to leave enough around the edges for the hem.  Make sure to cut 2 matching pieces.

Turn your material inside out and use No-Sew around the edges to "sew" 2 of the long edges and one of the short edges.  Turn your bracelet inside out, fold the un"sewed" edge under and use No-Sew to hem it closed.

Sew on the snaps.

First, place your larger, colored buttons on where you would like them and attach them with hot glue (you can sew them on if you want, but I'm trying to keep these projects fast and as sew-free as possible).

Then fill in the rest of the spaces with the small, white buttons.  I like the 3D look of the bracelet so I stacked some of my buttons, but you can keep it flat if you like.  This is your project, so make it fit your style! :)

Here it is on:  

I love the look of this, and I can't wait to make another one for myself.  It was so easy, and I just keep thinking of all these color-schemes to match my wardrobe!  :)

Cost breakdown:
Buttons:  $5
Snaps:  $2
Material: Used scraps from my Button Tree Pillowcase
No-Sew: Already Had

Total Cost:  $7 (a savings of $13 from the Anthro one!)

I think I love this project, not just because of the savings but also because of the amazing ways you can tailor this project to the tastes of the person you're giving it to (or to your own taste if you're keeping it--sometimes we all need to gift something nice to ourselves!)  :)
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xoxo, Melissa

12 Projects of Christmas: Button Tree Pillow

You know what really gets me out of the Christmas spirit? Computer viruses. On the 11th day of Christmas, my husband gave to me: a computer that's (almost) virus free! After spending most of the day trying to get the viruses and malware off my computer, I'm almost cleaned up. But I made him take a break and let me upload 2 projects because I'm slacking!

The first project I'm posting is my button tree pillow. This turned out super cute, although I think if I make it again I'll get more buttons and make my tree a little larger, or make multiple trees. But for my first version, I have to say--I LOVE how cute this turned out!! It was so simple, and it took me less than 30 minutes to make.

Look at how stinkin' cute this is!

Okay, time to get our materials:

Misc. sizes/shades of green buttons (I used about 30 to make my tree)
Very small multicolored buttons
Identical brown buttons to create the trunk (I used 4)
Yellow button for the star on the tree
1/2 yard of material for pillow case
Hot glue gun
Iron and ironing board (not pictured)

You need to start by determining how large of a pillow case you will make.  I laid my pillow onto the material while the material was still folded (the way you get it from the store when you purchase it off the bolt).  I left about a 2 to 2 1/2 inch border around the edges to account for the hem and for actually being filled by the pillow.

 Next, I turned the material inside out and used No-Sew to "sew" 3 of the edges of the material together (including the side that is folded).

On the final edge (the non-"sewed" one) I turned down about an inch and No-Sewed around the edge to create a finished hem.  I don't want to permanently keep the pillow inside so I wanted a nice hem on my pillow case.

Once your pillow case is done, you want to turn it right-side-out and go over it quickly with the iron.  Then fold the pillowcase in half length-wise (or hot-dog style as my preschoolers call it!) and crease it with your fingers.  You don't want to iron the crease in, but you'll want it as a reference to the middle of the pillowcase for laying out your button tree.  Now that you have the middle, lay out your buttons to create the tree shape.

After you have the general layout of the tree, use your glue gun to attach your green tree buttons and your brown trunk buttons.  

Then you can use your glue gun to attach your small multicolored buttons to create lights on your tree, and attach your yellow button as the star at the top.

Here's my pillow completed.  Please ignore the wrinkles in the pillow case--I was in a hurry to iron it!  I love how simple and festive this pillow case is, and I want to make a couple more, especially with how unattractive our couch pillows are!

Cost breakdown:
Material:  $3
No-Sew:  Had it
Buttons:  $7

Total cost:  $10
Not too bad for a super cute pillow case!

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xoxo, Melissa

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12 Projects of Christmas: Sugared Vanilla-Cinnamon Almonds

My house smelled absolutely wonderful yesterday morning, and H was pleasantly surprised to wake up to sugared vanilla-cinnamon almonds cooking in the kitchen (although I think it had more to do with making homemade presents and the house smelling wonderful, and less to do with the fact that I used most of his bulk-bought almonds...oops...all in the name of crafting/gifting, I suppose!)

We've decided to do gift baskets for a lot of our family, full of homemade goodies. I love sugared nuts, but they are so pricey and I knew that I could easily make them for a lot less, so I started on my search for a good recipe.  Most of them were pretty simple, but I wanted to put my own twist on it.  So here's what I came up with.  The best part?  It took 15 minutes at most to make these!  So fast and so easy!

By the way, you will fall in love with how this recipe makes your house smell!
This is delicious and makes a wonderful gift, or even a treat to put out for company at your family party

Of course, start off with our ingredients:
1 cup sugar
4 cups almonds (or any nut that you want to use)
1/2 Tbl cinnamon
1/4 cup water
1 Tbl vanilla extract

Start with a large skillet and put all of your ingredients in.  Stir it up so that all of the almonds have some sugary goodness on them!

 Cook over medium heat.  Everything will cook down into a nice, bubbly brown syrup so make sure to stir it every couple minutes to keep things moving and keep the almonds covered.  I let it bubble and cook for about 10 minutes, but you can go a little longer as long as you're stirring---the syrup burning to the bottom of the pan would be bad news!

Once the almonds have simmered for at least 10 minutes, you can pour out the entire mixture onto a sheet of wax paper.  Let cool for 20-30 minutes, then break the nuts apart and store in a sealed plastic bag/container.  They should last in the fridge for about a month, but chances are they won't last that long!!

I made these yesterday morning, stored them in the fridge overnight, and they were so yummy on my oatmeal this morning!  (I know they are for gifts, but I had to taste them for myself!)  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did  :)

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xoxo, Melissa