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A New Year, A New Start

Posted on December 31, 2016 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Just before leaving for Edinburgh for Christmas with my family, I came down with a whopper of a cold and couldn't make the trip. Thanks goodness for Skype so I could at least enjoy the festivities and stay in touch with my loved ones. Happily, a few of my friends rallied round with chicken soup and hot rum toddies so I was not left on my own. As a gift to them, I designed and made a calendar for each one with some inspirational words. Earlier this last year, I came across a box bursting with small clipboards outside a shop that had closed down. I, of course, lugged the box home and then had promptly forgot about it. Since I needed some way to hold the calendar months together, I thought of the clipboards. And voila, here they are ...

The neat thing (at least I think so) about these calendars is that once the year is over, you can flip the sheets over and you've got a notebook! I actually enjoyed finding the appropriate quotes for each recipient and found myself so inspired that I made one for me!!

Since I can't send a calendar to all my faithful followers, I will at least send you the best wishes for a very Happy (and prosperous) New Year. Stay healthy and, if you too starting something new, remember it's always seems impossible until it's done (Nelson Mandela said that).


White Christmas!

Posted on December 23, 2016 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

So excited - we're having a real white Christmas this year in Ottawa. Doesn't happen very often any more. Joy to the world!

See you in the new year with lots of new goodies. Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas and happy holiday!

Book Ornament Workshop!

Posted on November 30, 2016 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

My workshop hosted by Westboro Brainery at the Dovercourt Recreation Centere here in Ottawa was a smashing success. Transformed many old books into holiday ornaments including Christmas trees, snowmen, and stars.

What a great way to spend an evening with a group of lovely, lively ladies. And, pssst, they actually pay me for doing this!! Check out more photos here.

Picture sources: Westboro Brainery



Wrap and Tag - Brown Paper Packages

Posted on November 21, 2016 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Have you got all your gifts bought (or made), wrapped, and tucked away somewhere safe from prying eyes yet? Well, I don't. This year, at least for the grown-ups, I'll be making most, if not all, of my gifts. Since I have to wait for some of them to grow, wrapping up has to wait. It's been my experience that one of the joys of getting a gift is the gift wrap and so, one of the things I've learned about gift wrapping is that it's often the outside of the gift that creates the excitement - who cares what's inside! Well, maybe not.

Picture Source

Anyway, this year I will be wrapping all my gifts in brown paper wrap. Not only is this gift wrap easy on your wallet but it saves you have to run around the malls or shops to find that PERFECT wrap. It's readily available at your local post office. My friend Sean calls it the LBD of gift wrap because, just like that little black dress, brown paper wrap can easily be dressed up for any occasion. The ways to transform this seemingly ho-hum wrap are, to use an old cliché, endless.

Here are a few ideas I spotted for decorating plain brown paper wrapping:


Here's an idea from Ideas Magazine (November 2016 edition) - make your own lino stamps using photos and then dress up that old kraft wrapping paper with the image. Now, I'm not attempting this one as if I did, my fingers would be cut off in pieces - I'm not too handy with Xacto knives but if your fingers are agile enough, go for it.

The online version of this magazine is now gone unfortunately, but I did find instructions for making your own lino stamps here.


Another easy one for the kids from designer and photographer, Sofia Vusir Jansson, at Mokkasin - quick and simple all white cardboard star tags. No instructions but easy enough to make. If cardboard doesn't seem fancy enough for you, why not use this idea by making star tags (or any other holiday shape) from homemade playdough or store-bought Fimo clay? A good way to keep-the-kids-busy idea! 


No need to run out and buy fancy bows for your plain Jane wrapper - just use the same paper to make the bows. Blogger Amy from My Life From Home shares her gran's instructions for making a bow to match your gift wrap. For gran's instructions, click here.


The folks over at Anthropology know a good thing when they see it and so 'borrowed' this idea of a toy car or truck with a mini tree on top. It appeared everywhere on Instagram and Pinterest last year and it really is cute. Anthropology used this wrap idea for flogging soap but it's easy enough to 'borrow' for other gifts for both kids and adults (hint, hint).

If, like me, drawing is not your strong suit, the guys over at Junior Card Designer have a good tutorial, originally designed for young children, for drawing a car. If you have a car lover in the family, this site will keep them busy for quite a while For a little car tutorial, click here.

You know you've made it when Anthropology 'borrows' your idea!


Actually, journalist and blogger, Heather Young, at Growing Spaces intended this idea for summer gifting but it's one that is easy enough to adapt for Christmas (if you can draw!) by drawing what might be in the parcel.

I think the picnic hamper would be a cute idea for any food gift wrapper - just add a bit of holly berries and leaves, maybe. Click here for Heather's instructions.


Couldn't leave this post without one of my own ideas. I made a pompom from twine that I also used to wrap around the gift. The moose was copied from an old book on forest animals of the north. 


All the these ideas can be made by you and any little ones in your life. Why not invite friends (of all ages) over to create any one or all of the above ideas. And there are loads more online.




DIY Christmas Holiday Putz Houses

Posted on November 11, 2016 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

You probably realize that there are hundreds and hundreds of ides and projects to make the traditional Christmas putz houses for your holiday decor, right? Well, I couldn't resist posting these few that caught my eye. Enjoy.

Kate's Dutch Canal House Luminaries

Kate is the creative genius behind Kate's Creative Space. It's full of amazing projects by this talented mom, designer, writer. You'll spend hours just looking at all the things she's created.

Her luminaries were inspired by a visit to Amsterdam and were not specifically designed for the holidays. But won't they look amazing on your mantel this Christmas. One caveat - don't, don't, don't use real candles especially around paper! Faux battery powered candles are now available that look astonishingly like the real thing and are so much safer. You can find them almost anywhere including your local hardware store.

For Kate's instruction, click here.

Retro Real Estate

I originally spotted mid-century little houses at Melodrama (link does not work!) but headed straight to the original source at Retro Renovation. I love the idea of having a group of these little 1950-60s style houses on my mantel instead of the usual Victorian style ones. Pam and Kate provide the plans and instructions for making a whole village of these cute little dwellings including an A-frame! Just love them all.

For templates and instructions, click here.

Advent Calendars to Make

Posted on November 8, 2016 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Now that you've seen my selection of Christmas holiday wreaths, it's time for what I spotted this year in the way of Advent calendars. A number of my picks for Advent calendars are not in English but all provide great photos (and some printables) if you want to make these. Also, I tried to find calendars for this post that can be readily made with material such as cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls, leftover gift wrap, etc. Some are more time consuming but I think, worth the effort and one or two are just plain fun. 

Cardboard Box House Advent

Here’s an idea for a larger than normal Advent calendar from Marie Claire Idees magazine that uses cardboard boxes to create these three little buildings. Open small numbered windows of each building to find a small surprise inside. Instructions are in French and there are oodles of other Advent ideas if you’re not into building construction. For instructions, click here

Miniature Village Advent Calendar

Oui Are Makers is another French website and is sort of a coop collective where different folks post their tutorial. This one posted by Rainbow Souk has a tutorial for making this a miniature village Advent calendar. She provides great instructions (again, in French, but the photos are easy enough to follow) along with building printables for this calendar. For the tutorial, click here.

Circus Tent Advent Calendar 

The cutest Advent calendar and the one on my To-Do list from Claudi at Was Fuer Mich. What kid (big or little) wouldn't love opening up each little gift until the big day. Claudi is a mom, journalist, and author and hers is an awesome site you really should visit. It’s in German but, no worries, lots of great photos to show you how to create this very original Advent calendar. For the tutorial, click here

Balloon Popping Advent Calendar

Another one the kids are sure to love and easy to make. If you don't mind a little noise when each balloon is popped, this Advent calendar by Sarah at Look What I Made is just the ticket for you. She stuffs her balloons with vouchers and quotes but I’d stuff each balloon with little treats! I bet this will be a favourite with the kids. For the how-tos, click here.

Duplo Lego People Advent Calendar

If your kids have outgrown their lego people then here’s a way to reuse them - cute little Duplo Lego calendar from Jacks and Kate. Each numbered circle has an activity printed on the back. Full instructions and there’s a link to a circle printable as well. For the tutorial, click

Cracker Advent Calendar

From Iva Alex over at Country Beyond the Arc, a Bulgarian website, we have this Christmas cracker Advent calendar created using cardboard paper rolls and crepe paper. Each roll is filled with healthy treats such as nuts, raisins, etc. Very good photos to follow if you want to make your own version. You can click on English in the Language box for excellent instructions. For the how-tos, click here.

Our Lady Martha's Advent Calendar

Of course, I can’t finish this post without a nod to our lady Martha. She shows you how to make an Advent calendar filled with treats using whatever you have on hand. It looks pretty easy to do and uses up whatever gift wrap you have on hand.

Click here.